March 2011 Archives

Every weekday morning my alarm goes off at The Crack of Crack, also known as 5:30 a.m.  Until daylight savings started a couple of weeks ago, this was okay.  I mean, I didn't look forward to it or anything, but most of the time I was able to get up and be productive and all that.  Yeah. Those days are NO MORE.  The first Monday after we set the clocks, I slept in until 7.  Then, on Tuesday - 7:15.  Even now, more than a little bit into this change, I'm lucky if I'm up and brewing my decaf coffee by 6:30.

When the alarm goes off at 5:30, I reach over and slam down on the REPEAT ALARM bar across the top of the clock radio, and then I start doing snooze alarm math.  You know what I'm talking about:  I'll sleep another eight minutes and make the kids cereal for breakfast instead of eggs.  Eight minutes and another whomp later:  I'll sleep another eight minutes and put my hair in a ponytail after I wash it.  Eight more minutes, one more whomp: Okay.  I don't really need to wash my hair today anyway.  Another eight minutes: I'll get ready TOTALLY fast.  Really fast.  Super super fast.  Eight minutes later: The kids can eat breakfast in the car on the way to school.  Eight minutes after that:  Ugh.  Eight more minutes: Eh, the kids can be late for school.  Who cares?  Not me?  I only care about sleeping just a little more.  Then sometime around 6:30 the alarm goes beepbeepbeep really fast which I learned the hard way is code for Get the hell up, I'm done repeating myself and now I am just OFF.  And that's when I get up and see that I've slept in too late and curse myself for having to kick it into high gear. 

And I guess I don't really have anything to say about all this, except for, you know, watch out for the snooze alarm math.
I think it's great that schools focus on teaching kids to have good self esteem.  I have awful self esteem and it's incredibly irritating.  Maybe "had" is a better way to put it, since I'm not as bad off as I used to be.  Anyway, my kids are a whole 'nother story.  They are confident in their looks, fashion choices, hairstyles, opinions, breath freshness -- you name it.  And sometimes, they really shouldn't be.  Especially with that whole breath thing.  But, overall it's good.  They like what they like, and peer pressure is not a deciding factor for them when it comes to choosing what they like and how they want to spend their time.

So one of the byproducts of this new generation of confident, secure children are the Student of the Month certificates and bumperstickers handed out by schools.  Lex works his tail off to keep his grades up, and so he's been awarded his school's Student of the Month award twice already.  I don't put the bumper sticker on my van, because it's kind of not my thing, but that doesn't mean that I'm not proud of him all the same.  Each time he was given the award, I got a letter from the school (along with the bumpersticker) and he got a certificate.  We did have a joke going about how I was going to put the sticker on my van and then in sharpie write TWICE, BITCHES! on it, but really I would never. 

As much as they do stress self confidence at school, they go the other way on the whole neatness thing.  It clearly isn't being addressed.  Or maybe I am just a bad mom when it comes to getting my kids to pick up.  It's probably all me.  I'm sure it is.  At any rate, the other day Scuba was over.  The boys' room was really messy and there were actually things in the hallway that had drifted out of their room.  One of the things on the hall floor was a Student of the Month certificate, looking a little sad and wrinkled and not matted and framed and hanging on the wall.  Scuba picked it up and handed it to Lex and said, What's this?  Student of the Month?  You should put this up, don't you want to keep it?  And Lex said, Oh, I have a couple of those, you know.  Ha!  Student of the Month certificates! I wipe my a-- and here I yelled at him but he said it anyway and all I could think was WOW they sure are doing a crack job with the self esteem stuff over at that school

Other events from around my house lately:

Sophie: Hey Mom!  My friends and I, we were talking?  About how when you are thirty?  You can't wear cute skirts anymore if they are short? 

Me:  Oh, I don't know about that.  I'd MUCH rather you wear short skirts when you are thirty than when you are a teenager.

Sophie:  (Ignoring that)  And THREE of my friends said they want to have fashion like you and wear stuff like you do when they're old.  THREE OF THEM.

Me:  (Quiet, and irrationally proud that the fourth grade set likes my style)


Yesterday morning when we left for school we walked out the front door and the girls started freaking out over this:

creepy little undergound dude in our yard

I sort of freaked out, too.  The iPhone photo doesn't do it justice, but all over the ground outside our front door were these little tunnel-top tracks.  Just like when Bugs Bunny travels domestically.  The one you can sort of see above was one of maybe six tracks.  And, DUDE, you'd think that aliens were standing there, the way the girls flipped out. 


Me: I don't know.  A mole?  A gopher?  Ewwwww I hope it's not a mole.  Freaky.  Ick ick ick. 

Them: Was it a RAT?

Me:  No.  *shudder*  Get in the car.

I still can't think about it or walk past it without the shudders.  Even now, as I type, holy smokes with the shuddering.  I'm afraid to be out there, and you really should hear me yell when the kids leave the door open.  Lex wants to call an exterminator, but I can't do that, either.  Maybe we can plug up the holes with Student of the Month certificates and shame it into finding another yard. 
| 1 Comment
You know what happens at my house a lot, especially when I feel like I don't have the time or the energy to deal with it?  All hell breaks loose.  Maybe I'm exaggerating.  Maybe it's just a part of hell escaping.  There's usually not any fire or ice to go along with the wailing. 

The end result on me after all these years of doing my best to put hell back in the box is that everyone thinks I'm really SUPER laid back and mellow and unruffleable.  I guess I sort of am, but it's just a survival tactic.  If I flipped out every time someone poured a bag of sugar down the stove burners or barfed all over the couch or walked into the kitchen with a massively bleeding head wound in need of stitches while I was making a stir-fry for supper, then I'd be seriously and permanently fried.

Most of the time, being able to keep my cool pays off.  Take this morning, for example.  One of my girls had a major meltdown over her wardrobe and the other was having a tearful, shaking with terror, hardcore  f r e a k o u t  because someone saw a BUG crawling on her head (but it was too big to be lice, so really nobody cared except for the kid with the BUG ON HER HEAD).  We needed to leave as we were just a couple of minutes behind schedule, but the kid who had the wardrobe issues was way too pissed to hang with us and took off out the front door announcing that she was walking today. In the rain.  Screw the umbrella.  (She didn't really say it that way, but her tone more than implied it.)  I didn't argue with her but just got in the van and after a moment she appeared in the seat behind me.  I left my iPod at Scuba's house, so we didn't have our usual going to school music to listen to.  Very apprehensively I put on a Low CD and picked a song called Two-Step that I hoped would mellow everyone out.  I always thought they sang unwind in this song.  It's really on white, but to me, it'll always be unwind, which is the whole reason I put the song on - I wanted the girls to unwind.


It worked, amazingly enough, and by the time the girls were climbing out of the van after kissing me goodbye, all was almost well.

Sometimes, though, my mellow reaction to things isn't so great.  Like on Monday night when Scuba took the boys to Santa Cruz and came home with A SURFBOARD FOR ME.  I should have been jumping up and down and having a good  f r e a k o u t  but all I could do was stand there and grin.  Back when we first ran into each other at our neighborhood Trader Joe's after not seeing each other for seven or eight years, we were catching up and I told him I wanted to learn how to surf.  That year he bought me a gorgeous wetsuit for my birthday, and he's been teaching me how to catch waves on the boogieboard.  Now that he's practically done with school, we'll have time to get to the beach a lot this summer.  I'm really hopeful that all the years of ballet and soccer and swim team and yoga will help me actually be able to do it.  Look for videos this summer.  Maybe.        

I think that being a parent has this evolutionary arc that's sort of like becoming a really excellent cook.  For me, that means starting out always looking at directions and buying a whole lot of books and studying what more accomplished folks were doing and how things were turning out for them.  Gradually, I've been able to mellow out (uh, maybe a WHOLE HELL OF A LOT) and stop worrying about what books say.  Mostly.  Along the way the best stuff I've ever learned about mothering has come from watching other parents. 

One of the stories that sticks with me most is from a woman I knew back in the day who had kids not all that much younger than me.  She found her son playing with matches one afternoon and instead of freaking out and beating the crap out of him (which, probably is the #1 typical reaction), she got a big pail of water and they went in the back yard and rolled up their sleeves and carefully lit some paper and sticks on fire.  She explained to him that whenever he wanted to do this, he could ask her and they would set it all up.  But, she said, if he did it without her permission and especially if he did it when she'd said "not right now" then he'd be in trouble because he could really get hurt or burn down the house.  So they played with fire a few times and it was fun and that was that.  I remember she said something to me like, I knew his interest in fire wasn't going to go away if I just told him no, and that most likely he'd try to sneak and do it.  Plus, I think that when kids show an interest in something, it's time to teach them about it!  So we learned about how fire works, and fire safety and I let him experiment in a safe environment.  And that's my approach to everything with my kids, really: If they want to do something, I'll help them find a way.  Within reason, of course.

So Sophie called me at work yesterday, asking if she could set up a Facebook account.  She's 9.  I told her we should talk about it when I got home, and she blurted out OkaymombutSheilahasoneandijustwanttochatwithherandplaythatfarmgamePleasePleasePlease!  Okay, I said.  Put L (the kids' babysitter) on the phone.  L agreed to help Sophie set things up so that no one could see her information unless they were her friend.  Then she texted me a few minutes later saying, You have to be 13 to open an account.  She's going to have to lie about her age.  Is that ok?  I said it was and went back to work. 

Couple of hours later I get an email from Sophie's dad.  It said, roughly, Sophie just added me as her friend on facebook.  Apparently she's in high school and engaged.  Have I been in a coma or something?  I thought that was funny, but her step mom was (rightfully) concerned and added to the email thread that she didn't think it was a good idea for Soph to be lying about her age on the internets.  I agree.  When I got home, I had her change her relationship status and take out the high school stuff.  She's already had multiple talks with me about only talking to people you already know in real life on the internet.  I've convinced her that everyone she doesn't already know is evil, no exceptions. 

After she set her status to single and removed the icon of the high school she'll likely go to someday (Lord help me) Soph went throiugh and added her likes: SpongeBob SquarePants; Steak; Starbucks (she loves going there with her stepmom); London, United Kingdom (she has a funny fake British accent and likes to tell substitute teachers that she's from England.  She also says Charlie-ho, young ones -instead of Tally-ho - and she sometimes says Tally Butt Hawks instead.  Dude. I live with the kid and I'm fascinated, too.  I have no idea.  Really.); and, finally, Photography.

Last night she took the above profile pic after spending almost two blissfully quiet hours playing Farmville.  Yes, I know that will rot her brain, but her homework was done and frankly I wanted to drink my beer in peace.  Is that so wrong?  Anyway, I guess my point here is that I think if she's really wanting to experiment with social media there's no reason not to let her.  I'd much rather she learn the ropes with some guidance from me than sneak off and do it behind my back where she could maybe run into problems.  Because she's friends with her parents and cousins and even one of her grandmothers, she's not going to post crap she shouldn't.  She's terrified of spam email already (like the computer will explode if she opens it, and who am I to say it wouldn't?) and really just wants to use Facebook to IM with her buddies and play games.  I'm not always going to let her play for two hour stretches, which she knows.  People may call me a bad mom for letting my 9 year old baby have a Facebook account, but if she's anything like me (and she is) she'll always find a way to get what she wants.  I'm just making a safe space for her to learn in.
Willow's baby

Willow likes to put her animals and dolls to bed before she gets into bed.  This is her leopard baby.  He's sleeping on top of a really thin, sheetlike hospital blanket that I stole from the pedi unit after we spent a week or so there when she was almost a year old.  It's sort of a trophy. I stole a baby hospital gown, too.  I guess I was a little punchy after not stepping foot outside the hospital for ten days or so.  He's covered up by this bitty blanket, made by a volunteer and gifted to us by the hospital when she was in the NICU after she was born.  It has a matching tiny hat and microscopic booties that she puts on her dolls.

The other day we were hanging out, cleaning up the kitchen or something, and Willow let out a huge sigh.  What's up, girlypop? I asked her.  She sighed again.  Well, she said, it's just that The White Stripes are breaking up and they're such a great band.  Then another sigh.  It's just too bad, you know?  Then she walked off. 

Almost every morning when we drive to school, if I remember to grab my iPod, we listen to The White Stripes' We're Going to be Friends.  And now Willow asks if she and Sophie can walk to school, all by themselves, safely, without a sound.
| No Comments
tulips from my friend, who also happens to be our babysitter

Today I took a late lunch break and went to the DMV to get my name changed on my license.  For something that is making me feel so happy and relieved, I sure did take my sweet damn time getting to it. 

Anyway - at the DMV when you walk in, there's a desk where you have to start.  The woman who was running that desk all alone was cracking me up with her red beanie pulled down low and her sunglasses and her plastic gloves.  She was managing two lines of cranky DMV customers, telling us what to do and where to go, and how if we came up to the front of HER LINE and we were on a cell phone we were SOL, because she wasn't gonna help anyone who didn't have the manners to get off of the phone.  I liked her right away, and took a seat near her desk so I could listen to her talk while I waited.  Several times she made everyone laugh, but I think my favorite was this statement: Son, you don't have your MOMMY sign this form!   You're EIGHTEEN!  You're a MAN!  MOMMY DON'T NEED TO SIGN FOR YOU!

I wasn't expecting to have to have my photo taken (you'd think I'd catch on to this shit after being a DMV customer for 23 years) so of course I had to.  I looked awful; was up early to work this morning so I could take the boys to the dentist from 9 till 10, and had my hair in a janky ponytail, hardly any makeup on.  The only good part was that I had on a Superhero necklace.  So now next time I see Andrea, I can flash my California driver's license and prove to her what a true fangirl I am.

Tomorrow or maybe Saturday I'm making this.  When the going gets tough, the tough cook, right?
| No Comments

When I was a kid, both my sets of grandparents had circles in their houses.  At my mom's parents' house, you'd walk in the front door and take a right to the hallway.  Then left down to the end of the hall, left through the kitchen and dining room, and left again to the living room and you were back at the front door.  At my dad's parents' house there are three circles: the front room, dining room, kitchen, entryway one; the study, entryway, tv room one, and the hall to bedroom one.  That house has pocket doors, and the study and bedroom both have two doors each.  My brother and cousins and I spent a lot of time running in circles, or, when we were supposed to be quiet, sneaking in circles through the rooms.  I'm sure my dad and his two brothers and two sisters did, too. 

As much as I gripe about not liking (at all) where we live now, this house does have a circle.  Ours is living room, dining room, kitchen, entryway, living room.  When the kids were little they'd chase each other and play tag, running and running and running through the rooms. 

I think one of the reasons my dad and stepmom bought the house they did in Houston was that there is a big fireplace in the middle of it, separating the living room from the dining room and making a circle.  My dad always says that houses need to have circles. 

I remember that forever ago, not too long after my parents divorced, my dad had an apartment in Garland.  This was the place where he amazed us by snapping cockroaches with dishtowels and where my brother and I roller skated down some steps (on purpose, no helmets or pads of course).  It was also the place where I blew out a candle burning in the windowsill a little too hard and got wax all over the place, including the carpet.  The apartment only had one bedroom.  My brother and I slept on the black and white houndstooth foldout couch every weekend.  But there was a patio, and there was a sliding glass door in the dining room that led to the patio and there was a very low, like, on the ground, window in my dad's bedroom that looked out onto the patio.  One day my dad decided we needed a circle, so he opened the window and took out the screen and he opened the patio door and moved the dining table over.  And my brother and I spent the afternoon chasing each other in circles.
| 1 Comment
Tooty said that when my mom was in labor with me my dad came to the hospital with a brown paper lunch sack (in case my mom hyperventilated) and a lollipop (in case she was thirsty but couldn't have water).  My parents had taken childbirth classes together, but Texas in 1970 wasn't hip to letting expectant fathers anywhere near any birthing activities, so they made him wait outside.  Tooty told me that when she got to the hospital she found my dad, sitting on a chair in the hall with his elbows on his knees, his head hanging down, the bag in one hand and the lollipop in the other, looking like the saddest man alive.

When she described this scene to me she was still so touched by it that I could see it clearly.  I still can.  I've been thinking about that moment for the past few days as my brother and sister-in-law wait for their brand new baby to get big enough to come home with them.  The new baby doesn't have a name yet, because he was six weeks early and they hadn't settled on one and they wanted to meet him before giving him a name, and the first couple of days he's had all sorts of stuff taped to his face to help him breathe and eat, and, well, it's just not clear yet.  He's doing really well, all things considered.  All he has to do now to come home is eat.  Willow was in the very same situation when she was born, so I know just how they are feeling.  Here she is at 11 days old, still in the NICU


I don't think that there's ever been a time in my life when my heart felt so cracked open.  It physically hurt to leave her in the hospital.  When I talk to my brother my chest gets tight and I cry.  I know his son is okay, but that memory of being in his shoes is still that powerful, even with Willow sitting there on the couch next to me, perfectly fine, playing Angry Birds on the iPod touch she just got for her 8th birthday.

I hope this time goes by fast for them.  They are my very most favorite little family on the planet. 

That said, I've been sending my brother text messages that say things like:
Henry?  Hank?
Finnegan?  Fin?

It's not that I think or hope he will take my advice, it's that I hope I will bug the crap out of him so they will be more motivated to pick a name and get me off their backs.  I'm only sort of kidding.

What's that saying?  When you've got a kid in your life it's like your heart is walking around outside of your body?  Something like that.  Anyway, I've been thinking about my brother and mixing it up with this story about my dad, seeing them both sitting in some hospital hallway all dejected and lonesome and I just want to tell them both that everything will be okay but I'm so far away from the both of them.      

| 1 Comment
Partner since June 2006




Powered by Movable Type 4.3-en