Thursday, January 29, 2009

CLEARLY, THEY'RE NOT IDENTICAL

"MMMMMYYYY BBBBAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLL!" she screams as she chases him through house.

"Saia!" I yell as she whizzes through the kitchen. "No running in the house!"

"But, Mama," she hollers back without missing a step, "He's got MY ball!!!"

"NUH-UHH!" he taunts. "It's mine!"

"No, it's not!" she squeals, frantically looking to me for support. "It's mine! I KNOW it's mine because he doesn't have ANY balls!!!!"

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

THE WORKFORCE CAN SURVIVE WITHOUT ME A WHILE LONGER, CAN'T IT?

Had interviews this morning and am feeling a little torn.

I don't think I really want to go back to work.

I don't think I'm ready.

And I know this is something Amy's been telling me for a while, but I'm admittedly a little slow on the uptake sometimes. (I was totally that one person who didn't know Bruce Willis was dead in the 6th Sixth Sense right up until the moment that he realized it.)

It did feel good, though, to have adult conversations again about something more than a retelling of how many time-outs the kids' got or how much of their breakfast/lunch/dinner they did or didn't eat. And it did feel good to not feel completely out of place. To feel comfortable with my accomplishments and confident in my own abilities. And to know that they'd be lucky to have me.

But then I left the interviews and went straight to pick up the kids. He grabbed onto my leg and she gave me a huge bear hug. They taught me a new song on the way home and we spent the afternoon rubbing balloons on our heads to generate enough static to balance them for a few seconds.

And no, it's not all peaches and cream, and yes, there was a significant amount of 'please just finish your homework!' and 'stop talking with your mouths full!' and 'brushing your teeth involves actually MOVING the toothbrush back and forth in your mouth!' but I'd be a complete idiot if I said I wouldn't miss this.

Monday, January 26, 2009

OUR LITTLE FASHIONISTA





She's settling into herself a little more everyday. Growing more self-confident. Appreciating who she is, distinct from her brother, distinct from us. And, except for those moments of sassing back that we haven't quite yet curbed, I'm loving every minute of it.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

SUNDAY DINNER

So, I may have mentioned in a previous post that one of Saia's requests for the new year was that we start having sit-down family meals together.  Typically, our dinners consist of Amy and I standing around the kids' table ensuring they eat all their veggies and downloading the day's events from their little brains before it all turns to mush (usually right before dessert).

So, we do spend family time together, but not really the sit-down-at-the-family-dinner-table-together-with-all-four-place-settings-and-salt-and-pepper-in-the-middle-and-taking-turns-saying-can-you-pass-the-peas kinds of dinners.  And it wasn't a conscious a decision that we'd made, it just seemed to kind of turn out that way.  Our work schedules, their bedtime schedules, and any number of other less significant circumstances just didn't seem to lend to the successful implementation of that sort of routine.

But Saia's 100% on the money to note that it's been missing, and I remember my own family dinners growing up, and how much it meant for all of us to be together in one place at one time with nothing else to do, so part of our new year's resolutions to the kids was to institute, at the very least, a family dinner night on Sundays, and see if we could make that work.

Tonight we had a tribute to Texas: chicken-fried steak with white gravy, buttery mashed potatoes, sweet corn, and Texas toast.  And while it was yummy and all that, what I'm finding I'm most enjoying about it is exactly the reason we should be doing it.  Everyone seems so much calmer.  Everyone has a story to share.  No one is yelling or hitting or biting.  And the kids are well-behaved, too.  :)

We get to work on our restaurant-manners and set the week up for success, sure, but more than that, the kids are enjoying our full undivided attention.  No music, no TV, no BlackBerry, no iPhone, and no side discussions about work or friends or family.  Tonight we talked a lot about how we Mommy and I grew up, about the pets we had, about Nelson Mandela and Mothera Theresa, about how best to catch a lizard, about the Good Samaritan Law, about how they would like Mommy to smile more in pictures (and no, I had nothing to do with that one), about when we're going back to Texas to visit (FYI, likely in June), and about what turning 6-years-old is going to feel like.

And they're just bottomless pits of questions.  Insatiable little sponges.  And, what's more, they're actually...gasp!...listening.  They're not rolling their eyes at yet another lecture.  They're not looking down their noses and counting the tiles on the floor while being reprimanded.  They're not sitting in a corner counting the minutes until their time-out is over.  They're listening and learning in a way that I think is really priceless, and in a way that I think is more long-lasting than any structured lesson we could try to enforce.

And as we're tucking them in, I'm amazed at how cool these little creatures are.  And really really proud to be able to recognize this moment for what it is.  And Chago asks me, "Mama, why are your eyes getting watery?"

"Oh, it's nothing, bubba," I say, wiping the tears from my cheeks.  "I just hope you remember all these dinners when you're old and gray."

And suddenly he gets this awful twisted look on his face. "Oh, Mama, I'll try," he says in a worried little whisper, "but that's a lot of food to try to remember for that long."

Saturday, January 24, 2009

GROUNDED

Both monsters had a rough week, and then very nearly drove their teacher over the edge on Friday. It was a class mutiny, apparently. So, they both had to write lines. Ten times in their best handwriting: "I will be respectful of my teachers and my parents from now on."

Saia was also grounded yesterday, which just tore her up because Fridays are now game nights (part of our New Year's resolutions). And he was grounded yesterday and today, too, which is just about driving him crazy because his sister spares no moment to taunt him with the things she's doing even though it's so obvious that she's completely bored without him.

Anyway...his only allowable activities today are reading, writing, or 'rithmetic.  He skimmed over a couple of math problems, wrote a few sentences, and then (wisely) settled on reading for the rest of the afternoon.

Me, I'm already exhausted -- and it's only noon.   

video
Chago reading King Arthur & The Knights of the Roundtable, a Christmas gift from Mema

Friday, January 23, 2009

MEAN GIRLS KARMA?

So, I think I'm going to have to kick some little kindergartener's ass!!

Apparently, someone has been telling Saia that she has fat cheeks and that her legs are too big.

Can you believe that? A freaking 5-year-old!!! And I picture her looking just like Lindsay Lohan, too. All Mean-Girled out with perfectly coiffed hair, and a sparkly t-shirt that says "Yes, I'm a Diva!" and I'm just fuming!!

"Mama," she asks me over dinner one evening.

"When are my cheeks going to be skinny like yours?" as she brushes the back of her little hand lightly across my cheek.

And my heart just sank. I simply could not believe what I was hearing. I wasn't prepared. Didn't think I'd have to be prepared for at least another 8 years or so. WTF?!?!

And, of course, I told her that her little body was perfect just the way it was, that everyone is made differently, and that while you may think that there's something about someone else that you wish you had, there are always others looking at you thinking the same thing. That people make comments like that to be mean and spiteful, and that someone probably said something to them at some point that hurt their feelings so now they're taking it out on someone else. And that she needed to bigger and stronger than they were and just ignore it.

And yes, I was suddenly flooded with memories of my own ridiculous comments to girls in my school. Of just running with the popular crowd and how that alone made others feel. Of not standing up for others every single time I should have. Of being a mean girl myself. And wondering how much of this is coming back to me on her.

And, really, I just wanted to tell her to sit on the little toothpick of a girl and cut off all her little red curls and crush her chest -- just a little -- so that she would have to apologize through teary eyes and labored breaths and swear to help every other little girl in their class tie their shoes for the rest of the week!!!

But instead, I spoke with her teacher, and we're all on watch. And I'm just hoping I can find a way to navigate this course in a way that's going to work best for Saia and minimize her time in therapy at 16.

Fuck!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

BLOG FOR CHOICE DAY

So, today is the national Blog for Choice Day 2009, commemorating the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and I feel obligated to respond to the question posed by the BFCD organization, which is essentially, what one pro-choice move do you want to see the new administration make?

And I find myself still so shocked that we very nearly saw Roe v. Wade overturned last year, and that, regardless of the best intentions of the Obama clan, ultimately, Roe v. Wade is not a policy over which they have any control. And that if the law is challenged again, the Supreme Court, who are already leaning in that direction, may consider overturning it anyway. And it makes me wonder if we're not going to see more of that, more right-leaning legislation, more conservative decisions, more liberal decisions being challenged to counteract the largely liberal-thinking left, because there's not enough checks and balances in place, because they can.

But that's worrying without reason right now. So, I'll hold off on that until it's warranted.

For now, my one wish is that we have a national standard sexuality education program mandated for all public schools. Something very straight-forward, but all-encompassing, that includes abstinence, sure, but is not abstinence-only. That includes objective information about homosexuality, but is neither pro- nor anti-gay. That includes speeches from other teens about their own experiences with abortion. That includes basic information about all forms of contraception. That doesn't just talk about how the sperm gets to the egg, but includes a psychotherapy aspect of identifying and developing one's self-worth. That includes group discussion around the social and societal pressures about sex, sexuality, family, love.

Knowledge is power. The more we provide, the more they can provide for themselves.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

HAIL, MICHELLE, FULL OF GRACE (Really?)

Okay, so I'm really not trying to rain on anyone's parade today, but it has to be said, even while we're all still basking in the glow of yesterday's phenomenal revolution of power, that Michelle Obama, while highly educated, and obviously intelligent, and powerful and strong in her own right, and apparently an amazing mother and wife and daughter, is NOT the next Jackie O.

She has a very inconsistent and more often uncomfortably awkward sense of style (or at least appears to have developed one over the last year because before that it wasn't all that bad) and she does not seem to really appreciate or at least understand her body build in order to dress it appropriately (or again, not anymore). The colors she chose yesterday were unflattering and forgettable. She seems like she's trying to "become" something she thinks we want. When what we wanted was what she'd already been.

And her hair all too often just looks like a "giant football helmet" (ala Sally Fields in Steel Magnolias).

And I know I'll get lots of hate mail on this one. And I know it sounds petty. But if she were truly a fashion icon, I'd be the first to give her her props. I'd be up at the crack of dawn stalking the internet and even braving the dressing rooms at Ross to find knock-offs and look-alikes. And I'd be able to swallow all this crap the media is force feeding us -- particularly over the last two days.

And I do think it's great that she's frugal in her fashion choices, and I do think it's wonderful that she taps small, relatively unknown designers. But what good is that going to do the fashion industry if she sends us spiraling back into a fashion depression like the 80s? (Hey, I had the leg warmers and the headband and the black rubber bracelets and the aqua ankle socks over my jeans and the reebok tennis shoes with the velcro strap and the mesh tank top -- all worn at the same time, of course. And it's burned into my memory. AND DAMMIT, WE WILL NOT FORGET!!!)

She very likely IS going to be a fantastic First Lady who will represent us well globally and at home, and will no doubt kickstart a new generation of doers and national service champions.

But the next big fashion icon she is not, people. She's just not.

Isn't it enough that collectively we've made her husband the Second Coming, do we really need to make her the Madonna, too?

Photos courtesy of ABCNews.com/AP.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

THE ERADICATION OF HATE

Alrighty, Mr. President, game on:
Excerpted from the NEW AND MUCH IMPROVED Whitehouse.gov webpage.

Support for the LGBT Community

"While we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots in 1969, we still have a lot of work to do. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It's about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect."
-- Barack Obama, June 1, 2007

Expand Hate Crimes Statutes: In 2004, crimes against LGBT Americans constituted the third-highest category of hate crime reported and made up more than 15 percent of such crimes. President Obama cosponsored legislation that would expand federal jurisdiction to include violent hate crimes perpetrated because of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or physical disability. As a state senator, President Obama passed tough legislation that made hate crimes and conspiracy to commit them against the law.

Fight Workplace Discrimination: President Obama supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and believes that our anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity. While an increasing number of employers have extended benefits to their employees' domestic partners, discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace occurs with no federal legal remedy. The President also sponsored legislation in the Illinois State Senate that would ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Support Full Civil Unions and Federal Rights for LGBT Couples: President Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples. Obama also believes we need to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions. These rights and benefits include the right to assist a loved one in times of emergency, the right to equal health insurance and other employment benefits, and property rights.

Oppose a Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage: President Obama voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2006 which would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman and prevented judicial extension of marriage-like rights to same-sex or other unmarried couples.

Repeal Don't Ask-Don't Tell: President Obama agrees with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili and other military experts that we need to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve. Discrimination should be prohibited. The U.S. government has spent millions of dollars replacing troops kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation. Additionally, more than 300 language experts have been fired under this policy, including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. The President will work with military leaders to repeal the current policy and ensure it helps accomplish our national defense goals.

Expand Adoption Rights: President Obama believes that we must ensure adoption rights for all couples and individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation. He thinks that a child will benefit from a healthy and loving home, whether the parents are gay or not.


It's a tall order, but one that's long overdue and, for the first time, actually on the table.

Let's just call it a good start for now as we remain cautiously optimistic for the future.

Welcome to a brand new day.

Monday, January 19, 2009

INFLATABLE LIVES

The kids had a bday party to make an appearance at this weekend. So, we hastily picked up and wrapped two gifts that the kids really wanted for themselves, sadly left a very content Mommy at home with her back-to-back playoff games (and the laundry, granted), hauled our cookies all the way across the water, circled the block forever to find parking, made our way past the hordes of other birthdaypartygoers to finally join our little group of 5- and 6-year-olds in the last room before cake and ice cream.

The venue was, essentially, a bouncy house warehouse. Literally, wall to wall bouncy houses for the kids to run and yell and scream and tumble before jooping them up with ice cream and cake with 3 inches of frosting and sending them home with their already exhausted parents whose ears were still ringing and heads still pounding from the sheer volume of the whole experience.

And the parents, all lined up side by side on built-in benches, were talking incessantly about playdates and bingo nights and field trips and favorite parks, and I so just wanted to be home. I wanted to be out on our front steps, reading a book, watching the kids perfect their chalk drawings and yelling at the dogs to quiet down. I wanted to be outside, away from all this superficial jibber-jabber, feeling violated by the pretentious chit chat on a Sunday (who the hell throws a party on a Sunday, anyway???), and feeling utterly deprived of the full enjoyment of MY weekend.

And I don't know when I became that person. When I stopped indulging stupid pleasantries and small talk. When I gave up on the idea of finding lifelong friends in the people that spawned our children's classmates just because they did.

And I wonder if I'm just being too cynical suddenly or if this is actually a good addition to my palette. If feeling a little jaded is going to make me a lonely bitter old woman, or if eliminating all the fluff will finally afford me the opportunity to find (and recognize) more substance when I see it.

And then I get home and forward the pics I took at the party to all the parents that were there. I respond to the woman I'm helping out about my ideas for the kids' yearbook. I finish up the Xmas gift thank you notes. I RSVP via email to our next in a long line of party invitations this year with a cheery, "The kids can't wait!!"

And I realize, eh, this is just one of those things that makes parenting the single biggest challenge of your life. But, really, bring back the green projectile vomit and mustard diarrhea ANY DAY. This other shit just exhausts me!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

THE ABSENCE OF COLOR

"Mama?" he asks me with his head cocked to one side and that very pensive look in his eye.

"Yes, pop?"

"Saia says Barack Obama is going to be the first black president."

"Uh-huh," I say, stirring the broccoli soup.

"But he's not black," he says.

"Of course he is, son," I say, "You've seen him on T.V.," wondering if we were about to get into a genealogical discussion about Obama's family lines.

"No, mom," he argues, "He's just Obama, the 44th President of the United States."

And in one fell swoop, black truly became the absence of all color.

Friday, January 16, 2009

DO YOU KNOW YOUR DPO?

I'm ovulating.

And no, that's nothing unusual. But it stirs me up inside.

Who knew you could have PTSD from trying to conceive? But, evidently, those things stick with you for a while. Like recognizing without even having to take your temperature, that it's dropped or risen every month. Like being able to identify when and through which fallopian tube, new eggs just dropped. Like mentally cataloguing without fail during those few precious days whether your secretions are sticky, or slimy, or watery, whether they're yellowish, or whitish, or clear, and what that all means in the it's-time-honey world of TTC (trying to conceive).

And so today, 6 1/2 years after we finally got it to take after the 5th try, my body is telling me that today's the day. And I guess I'm a little nostalgic. And I guess a little wistful. And even a little pat-my-back pleased that my 38-year-old body still refuses to act like it.

And in this moment I curse the lack of spontaneity and the concerted family planning that gay couples are relegated to. And I ache to wake up two weeks from now a little frantic that I'm x days late, not counting my DPOs (days past ovulation). To have to rush out to Walgreens for a test, and not have a Costco case of them in the garage. To wait until 1/2 time at the Superbowl to surprise her with a teensy football jersey.

Weird, huh?

Well, no, not weird. But the thing is...we're not trying to conceive. So, at the very least, it's futile.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

LEAD FOUND IN CHILDREN'S VITAMINS


Oh, you've got to be f'ing kidding me with this?!?!

Trying not to be all chicken-little on this one, but evidently there was a recent report released from the FDA showing evidence of "trace amounts" of lead in, get this, children's vitamins and prenatal supplements!!! Can you freaking believe that sh*t!!!

Here's a link to the FDA report with a full table that lists all the vitamins tested. Looks like, in general, liquid vitamins tend to contain less lead.

Here's a link to the article that tipped me off posted at MotherTalkers. There are some really great comments, too, which you should try to read if you can, including some very rational perspectives about the fact there's probably more lead on the outside of a carrot than in a Flinstone vitamin.

But the point, the very real and very frustrating point, is that I (and millions of other women) took those nasty horse-size prenatal vitamins every single day for the year before, the 10 months of, and the two years after that I breast-fed, and have had to force our children every single day since they were born to take their own BECAUSE THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO MAKE US HEALTHIER!!!!!!

Fuck.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

FEAR-BASED PARENTING???

Read an interesting article yesterday about fear-based parenting on the SV Moms Blog, which, I have to admit, I hadn't really thought a whole lot about before.  Or at least not from this perspective.

For instance, how many times do you to tell your kids not to do something because you're afraid something will happen to them?  Using that word as a tool.  The example in the article was a little weird for me because the mother was warning her toddler to stay away from an overly friendly squirrel because she was "afraid of that squirrel".  And that's just not something I would say.  Nor would they allow it, honestly, what with the barrage of whys and hows that would surely follow.

But, personally, I'm perfectly comfortable telling my children that running out into the street will get them squished by a car, that sticking anything into exposed outlets will shock them like a ginormous monster eel and hurt them more than any shot they've ever had, that eating too much sugar will cause their teeth to turn black and crumble in their mouth before falling out of their heads and leaving a huge gaping hole behind for germs to build new sprawling cities, that hanging their arms out of vehicle windows will get them ripped off by a passing semi or crazy Californian motorcyclist, that shoving anything up any orifice on their own or anyone else's body will get them immediately arrested and thrown in jail with thieves and animal abusers, or that talking back to your elders is just the beginning to a life of neverending crime and misery. 

And you know what, if that's fear-based parenting, then sign me up. Knowledge is power. And yes, it should be somewhat filtered by age group (and embellishment), but a hard to swallow version of the truth about the harsh realities of life is still a safer bet than a sugar-coated, rose-colored view of the world.  And may save their lives (or someone else's) someday.

What about you? What do you think about this idea of fear-based parenting?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

EAU DE STARBUCKS

"Hey, Mama," he says, suspiciously sniffing my forearm.  "What's that smell?"

"What are you talking about, Bubba?" I say, pulling my arm away to flip the salmon on the grill.

"That smell there," he says, grabbing my arm again with his two little hands and shoving his perpetually runny nose right into my skin.  

SSSSNNNNIIIIIIIIIFFFFFFFFFFF!

"I don't know, handsome, what is it?" I ask tentatively, expecting some crude fishy remark.

"You smell like..." sniff, sniff, sniff..."kind of like...hmm..." sniff, sniff... "I'm thinking, maple syrup and Starbucks."

Monday, January 12, 2009

GUILTY AS CHARGED (OR DEBITTED OR GIFTED ON A STARBUCKS GOLD CARD)

My worry warts are flaring a little today, I think.  Preoccupying myself with rationalizing my guilt over not working, which of course then doesn't allow me to enjoy the not working, which then defeats the reason that Amy is so pro my not working.

But I am writing again (much much older writing still available for your perusal at Sapphic Voices), although I'm definitely having trouble admitting that I'm enjoying that, and more than that, accepting that that's okay.

And I've noticed here recently that I'm becoming ferociously jealous of my 4 hours alone every morning at Starbucks.  Thoroughly annoyed when there is someone else sitting in my oversized purple velour chair in the corner. Devastated when the barista has to ask me what it was I wanted again.  But just so anxious to open up my laptop and get going that when Chago sniffled and said his throat was a little itchy this morning, I just skipped the usual double leche and instead warmed up some apple juice and loaded him up with protein and an entire banana before packing him off to school anyway with hardly a second thought of whether I should keep him home today. 

And even as I sit here, racked with guilt that I dumped my sickly child off at school, that I have no job when the unemployment rate continues to rise, that I refuse to downsize my venti even though I have no money actually coming in to offset it, I'm feeling like such a heel that I'm most irritated by the fact that I only have 10 more minutes of me time before I have to leave. 

The Starbucks Chronicles

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Half Moon Bay Tidepools

Had a great weekend out at the beach. Ahh, one of the joys of living in Cali in January.

Here are just a couple pics of the tidepools.

Click here to see the whole slideshow: http://the2monsters.shutterfly.com/




Thanks for some of the better pics, Laura!

Friday, January 09, 2009

BUT I THOUGHT THEY WERE ALL JUST ELVIN

"Mema?" she says.

"Yes, baby?"

"What does 'maaade in cheeena' mean?" she asks as she examines the bottom of her new Bakugan from Santa.

"Wha? Oh, um...well," stumbles Mema. "Well, you know how Santa has all those elves, right?"

"Uh-huh," she says a little suspiciously.

"Well, each of those elves comes from a different place in the world."

"Uh-huh..."

"And they each put the stamp of the country they're from on it so that you see how many different elves helped work on your toys. You see?"

"Uh. Huh."

[Hey, I thought it was a pretty good save.]

Thursday, January 08, 2009