Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last Day of the Year

Little to no blogging of late, because Viva and Sweet Dub have been on vacation and that means we all spend a lot of time together, very little of which involves a computer. Even now, after I've spent just a little time getting caught up on email and blogs, they are giving me a hard time for being on the computer. It is 1:23 pm and I am still in my pajamas, letting 2008 wind down in mellowness.

To all of you out there in Internetland: many blessings in the new year. May you be healthy and swimming in joy.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Rainy Days and Mondays

It's raining and chilly here in Southern Cal and that makes me want to do not much of anything.

Despite the rain, after dropping Viva off at school I motored on and interviewed a childcare provider today and (dare I say it?), it looks like we may actually have secured a spot for our little one next month. I really like the director of the program, I like the philosophy of the center (for those keeping score at home, they use the RIE approach) and it's only 5 minutes from my job.

As far as the other kid: we have made the decision to suck it up and leave Viva at her current school, even though we will probably have to dip into our savings to pay for it for the next six months. I still want to get her into the decent public school in our neighborhood, but I have to go through a permit process to try and get her in for September since we are outside the boundaries. (Yes! How can it be more of a struggle to get her into public school? I don't get it.) We don't want to move her twice in one year, so we will keep her where she is. Errrgh. Ye gods.
In holiday news: what are the odds that I'll get Christmas cards out this year? Scratch that - what are the odds that I'll get Christmas cards with a photo of the family on them out this year? I'm thinking those odds are not good. The only photo I have of Viva and Cily is very grainy, but maybe I could make kind of an artsy card...

This is on my mind because we recently processed some 35mm film from this summer. I wish I had a beautiful photo like this of my two girls together:

Viva peeking out from the pear tree in our (former) front yard. Sadly, the only picture I have of the two of them (besides the grainy one taken off the videocamera) is of me pregnant with Cily, hanging out with Viva:
I don't think this really counts as a picture of the two of them. By the by, I can't figure out why the scanner is putting those black bars on the side of the photos. It's wildly irritating to me. But I love this series of photos and I wanted to share and I can't find the photo CD that has these shots on it. And let's be real, it's difficult enough for me to get on the computer these days...
Viva dancing around the front yard...
Aaaand... Miss Cily's up. Time to go attend to her every whim...

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

All Childcare, All the Time

Aside from all the holiday hoopla, I'm neck-deep in childcare research right now. The latest on the school issue: I visited the local elementary school for which we are allegedly zoned this morning. It's not what I thought. It's a different demographic for sure -- skews primarily Latino and Armenian (I know, only in L.A.). I met the principal, who was friendly, approachable and very thorough, and she gave me a spur-of-the-moment tour, so I got to see the kindergarten classes in action. I saw one Asian boy and one African-American girl in the two classes I visited, and everyone else pretty much appeared to be either Latino or Armenian. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I'm used to a more even distribution of ethnicity at Viva's current school -- higher proportions of both Asian and African-American. (Yes, and they even have white kids, some South Asian and Middle Eastern kids there. Don't mean to leave anyone out...)

I think Viva would be fine here -- in fact, I'm pretty confident she'll excel no matter where she goes. She is a friendly kid and teachers always love her. She is just a bit sensitive and I hate to throw yet another change at her. Having said that, I liked the principal very much, and the front office staff was way more welcoming than at the school we thought we were zoned for. This is only the principal's third year at the school and she is implementing a lot of changes, including way more parent involvement, etc.

BUT (you knew that was coming): what I have discovered is that their free after-school program, LA's Best, has no openings. I can wait-list Viva (!!!) and look into a private after-school program which offers transportation to a part of Hollywood which is about 10 minutes away.

The other school, which shredded my hopes and dreams Friday, has a parent-led after-school program, and OF COURSE that program has an opening. One of the parents contacted me and was as sweet as could be, really very helpful. There is a parent meeting tonight and I should really attend just to connect with the other parents and get some advice, and at least sow the seeds for next fall. Trying to be pragmatic in the face of disappointment.

In closing: I could really scream. I can enroll her at one school with no after-care available, but not enroll her at the other one which has after-care spots. WHAT?

It's public school. Why is this so complicated?? I hate to say it, but no wonder people are fleeing the LAUSD in droves.

In other world news, I am also screening childcare centers and nannies in the hopes of finding the perfect infant care situation for my little screaming meemie. Although as Sweet Dub says, "How are you going to leave her with anybody?" Lord knows.

The latest from Viva, who I love with a fierce lovingness even though my sleep deprivation has led me to snap at her quite a bit (in my defense, she is being really trying on purpose):

"You know, that's really a bum." (She means it's a bummer, but I just can't correct her because I love it.)

And the obligatory kindergartener misspellings:

On Thanksgiving: "I'm thankful for my family and for being hatthe [healthy]."

As a caption to one of her drawings: "Theis is a ranbooe." [Translation: this is a rainbow.]

Here's to sunshine and lollipops and ranbooes.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Easy Like Sunday Mornin'

Our next-door neighbor is a music producer. I just sat down at my laptop to research stuff on Ye Olde Interwebs and I can hear someone next-door playing piano and singing enthusiastically. So far they've played "Rainbow Connection" and "New York State of Mind." He's got a really good voice. I'm picturing the whole family (they have two kids, 2 and 9?) clustered around the piano in their funky artsy granola-ish fashion, enjoying a bit of togetherness.

It's nice. I really like this neighborhood. These are neighbors who came by and brought us pumpkin bread the first weekend we moved here. It's one of those areas where you actually get to know your neighbors.

Friday night when Sweet Dub came home, I heard him talking to someone softly downstairs. Since I was upstairs with both kids, I couldn't imagine who it could be. I went downstairs and found him crouched at the front door.

"Honey, I think this is Carlos' dog," he said. "Do you remember what their little dog looks like?"

"Oh, what's his name, Riley?" I said, and the little dog shot into the house and ran up and sat next to me on the stairs. He'd gotten out of his yard and was running back and forth in the street when Dub saw him.

Viva was in heaven. We called Carlos (our neighbor on the other side) on his cell and let him know the dog was with us. He was in Pasadena and said he'd come by when he got home. Riley is about ten kinds of adorable and kept licking Viva in the face. About 45 minutes later, Carlos' fiance came by to pick Riley up, and was both profusely apologetic and grateful to us for keeping him.

Despite our current school issues, I really like it here. It's very easy to feel comfortable and like we are a part of the community already. Sweet!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Irate. Livid. Beside Myself.

This morning, after I dropped Viva off at school, and after a very pleasant experience at my local Trader Joe's where they treated Cily like a rock star, I drove home, put Cily in the stroller, and prepared to walk through my lovely neighborhood to the local school to formally begin the process of registering Viva for kindergarten in January. As I was setting out, I bumped into my lovely neighbor and her 2-year-old, who is hilariously cute, and we discussed childcare. She said she may have some leads for me for someone to look after Cily, which was very welcome news. I took off for the school in great spirits.

Now, you know we moved to this house, for which we are paying more in rent than we would otherwise, because of the local public school -- so we would not have to pay for private school and then could afford to pay for childcare for Cily. When looking to rent, I religiously used LAUSD's online school finder to determine which elementary school fell within the boundaries, and if it were a decent school. We eliminated a number of possibilities based on what the school finder said.

When I walked into the school this morning, I admired the Christmas tree in the front entry, sweetly decorated with garlands of gingerbread men colored in by the students. There was a class of kids about Viva's age lined up with kazoos, waiting to go into the auditorium. I could easily picture my little creampuff as part of the line.

And then, when I reached the office, they told me our address doesn't fall within the boundaries required to enroll.

"That's impossible," I said. "I looked it up online before we moved -- before we even signed the lease. I called the school and had a long conversation with someone here about the Christmas vacation schedule and after-school programs. We moved here based on information from the LAUSD."

The woman behind the desk was adamant. Our street, she said, was never within the boundaries.

"Well, what are my options?" I said. "Because you don't seem to understand what a disaster this is."

"We couldn't enroll her for January anyway," she said. "We don't even have space available. You can try to get a permit and enroll her for September."

"No no no," I said. "We already gave notice at the private school she's currently in that she would not be back in January, based on a conversation with your staff. And I know someone whose daughter goes here and she says her kindergarten class is not full. So I just -- there has to be some way."

And around and around we went, and you can only imagine the bureaucratic bullshit. I would have to fill out this form, but only on the second Tuesday of the blahblahblah, zippideedah. She might as well have been speaking French because my mind had completely shut down.

Finally, I did the walk of shame out of the office, struggling not to cry, and while I almost broke down on the way home, I managed to only let a few tears fall before I got inside our garage,
when the floodgates opened and I yelled "Fuck, fuck FUCK!" which is pretty much all I could say for the next few minutes between tears.

Fortunately Cily was sleeping.

Since then, I have talked with several people at the LAUSD, left a message for the principal of the school, and had a long conversation with Master Planning and Demographics, who tells me that the boundary for getting into this school is one block east of me. They are still looking into it and will call me again.

I am now going to call our alleged local school, which is farther away than the school I want to enroll Viva in, and find out what their story is. Note that their test scores are below the district-wide minimum standard. However, parents seem to like the school, based on reviews at

I'm trying to do what I can to mitigate this mess, but I am so freakin' pissed off.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

What? Oh, hullo!

November has come and gone and I have barely blogged at all. Happy December!

There were many moments I blogged in my head last month. Two that stand out...

Watching Barack Obama win the presidential election, and weeping with relief and excitement and joy during his acceptance speech. Tinged with the Sad that neither of my grandfathers is alive to see such a momentous event.
Taking the baby to her first pediatrician's appointment, to a pediatrician I had only spoken with over the phone, and realizing once we got there that the practice primarily serves patients on government assistance. The office was tiny, and shabby, and crammed, and although I had an appointment I was on time for, I was told there were 4 sick walk-in kids ahead of us, one of whom was hanging with her germy little hands all over our stroller, with the baby just inches away. "Are you okay with this?" Sweet Dub said in an undertone. I went up to the receptionist and explained that we just brought the baby out of the NICU and that she'd had respiratory difficulty, and perhaps being around a bunch of sick kids was not the best option. And then, a few minutes later after we'd ducked out of there: "What were you thinking?" Dub said, laughing at me and shaking his head.

"I wanted a pediatrician that was closer to our lives right now," I said. "For the baby, I'm going to have to take her to the doctor every month. Dr. S. [Viva's doctor] is so far away, it's a shlep to get over there and back. This doctor is just a few minutes away from work, from Viva's school -- "

"I get it, I get it," he said. "But seriously, you know how we are. We are total snobs. Admit it."

"Okay," I said, laughing. "But I figured people over on this side are also going to demand good-quality health care. There are some well-to-do folks over here. We can't be the only snobs."

"Well, they sure ain't bringing their babies here. GET THEE BACK TO BEVERLY HILLS," Sweet Dub intoned. "Shit, you must be crazy bringing our baby to a clinic. That was basically a clinic. What the hell do I pay for health insurance for? To sit and wait for hours in a clinic?"

Fortunately, we were able to get a rare Saturday appointment with Viva's doctor, and that was all she wrote. Her office is clean and pleasant and uncrammed, and the staff always greet us by name before we even sign in. I guess I'm stuck shlepping to Beverly Hills for the foreseeable future. I am resigned to being a healthcare snob.
In other news, not crazy about the baby's pseudonym (Clu) here. Viva calls the baby/spells her name Cily, so I think I'll switch to that.

Whatever her name is, she is causing some strife around here. I used to call Viva the velociraptor because she had a particularly deadly screech. Cily has been dubbed T-Rex because she is so tyrannical. She does not want to be put down, ever, and she screams like tigers are eating her if you dare to try and give your arms a rest. The sling, the swing, the bouncy seat -- none are acceptable. She also screams for hours in the evening, usually about 5 pm to 7 or 8, takes a break to sleep for a few hours, with a feeding at about 9, and then is up anytime after midnight for at least an hour and a half. Last night she was up from 2:30 to 3:30, then up again at 4:15, and again at 5:15. It is this second, early morning spate of waking and fussing that is breaking me, since Sweet Dub leaves for work at 6:45. He wakes Viva up at 6:30 to ensure that she is up before he leaves. This means that pretty much right after I have fallen back to sleep, I have to get up, get dressed, pack lunch and get Viva off to school, all while trying to keep Cily from blowing a fuse.

"It seems like whenever she is awake, she is not happy," Sweet Dub says. "What are we going to do?!" Out of desperation, yesterday I Googled everything I could find on inconsolable crying in newborns. While it seems Cily does not quite meet the definition for colic, we are evidently not the only parents who have this issue. I found numerous testimonials on a message board that gripe water is a miracle cure, so yesterday I bundled up my screaming meemie and went to my local Albertson's market...and they didn't carry it. Back in the car and on to the local Rite-Aid, which was teeming with a uniquely Angeleno mix of urban hipsters in nerd glasses and pajama pants buying Powerade and poinsettias, Catholic schoolgirls just getting out of school and swarming the magazine section, and tattooed cholas buying Lays Limon potato chips, tampons, and gum. I secured some gripe water and, with Cily refusing all comfort in the back seat, zoomed back home.

Verdict: it kind of works. I gave her less than half a full dose in the afternoon, but made the mistake of giving her a full dose at 11:00 pm, and then didn't want to overdose her by giving it to her at 2:30 am, so I had to suffer the early-morning angst. I won't make that mistake again.

One for the baby book: in the rare quiet moments when Cily is not screaming (before a butterfly flaps its wings in Singapore and disrupts her equilibrium), she does actually occasionally smile at me when I talk to her. She is also beginning to play. Yesterday after the gripe water half-dose, I laid her on a large pillow on the floor and pushed a Tigger car over near where she could see it. She shot her arm out and pushed the car toward her, over and over, and once she got bored with that, she practiced pushing it away. When I told her how fantastic she was, she smiled and then got a determined look on her face and punched the car. My little T-Rex.

Right now she is cuddled on my lap and is at peace. Ah, sweet sweet quiet. Perhaps I can get in some online Christmas shopping...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Oh So Weary

My darling second child, henceforth known here as Cily, is (not surprisingly) nowhere near sleeping through the night. I thought I was tired before she was born, what with the having to get up to pee twice a night and then letting anxious thoughts about Everything Under the Sun keep me awake each time. Oh, but no. I have reached a new level of fatigue.

Cily eats every 2 to 3 hours, sometimes every 1.5 hours, around the clock. I am not breastfeeding this time around, and that is a whole ‘nother stressed-out post in and of itself. (Summary: My milk has dried up. Cily is a biter, lactation consultant was not helpful, pumping painful and not fruitful [i.e. pump for 20 minutes and get 3 drops of milk], I was preoccupied with packing and moving during the crucial two weeks after she was born, I am not healing well from the surgery, and for some time there I was barely eating -- all of which resulted in a kind of “perfect storm” of breastfeeding not going well. NOTE: Much as I love you and value your opinion, I am not looking for advice on this. I have received a plethora of well-meaning advice. Despite all that I know about the benefits of breastfeeding, I have made my peace with this happenstance.)

So we have set up a feeding station in the bedroom, bottles at the ready. Cily is now waking up, eating and STAYING AWAKE for sometimes an hour and a half at a time, screaming for part of that time, and being perfectly sweet but awake for part of that time. During the sweet time, we lie in bed next to each other and stare into each other’s eyes. I stroke her cheek and speak softly to her.

In the not-so-sweet times, like at 2 this morning, I swaddle the screaming one and we dance slowly across the bedroom floor to the Cowboy Junkies’ “Sweet Jane.” We sway and I tell her how tired I am and I sing to her, “Heavenly wine and roses seem to whisper to me when you smile,” and I thank God I don’t have to go to work in the morning. And then her sister screams from her room down the hall that she is scared of her closet, that she needs a drink of water, that maybe she has to throw up.

Two kids. Two little girls. It is a blessing. It is tiring. I love them.

P.S. Digital camera? Broken. Videocamera? Recording, but out of focus, so the recording of Cily's birth is all hazy and smudged like a French Impressionist watercolor. My darling husband, who (a) makes his living with film, and (2) lost all his childhood photos in a fire and is thus rabid about documenting our children, is livid. I'm trying to figure out how we can afford to (I) repair the videocamera and (314a) buy a digital SLR (it's the lens on our Canon SureShot that's broken). Merry Christmakwanzaakuh to us! My point: I don't have any new photos to post. We are resorting to our 35mm camera, but then we have to process the film, which we haven't yet done. Not to worry! These early weeks of her life are not lost forever!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Technical Difficulty, Part I

Oh my God. So after two weeks without Internet access, I am finally online, I just wrote a post and hit "publish," and Blogger tells me an error occurred. "Hit the back button," it advises me, and when I do, my post has completely disappeared.

What the Pf--??

I am filled with rage.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Worth a Thousand Words

Thank you to everyone for all your good wishes, compliments, and blessings!

I may have mentioned that when Celia was born, my sister came down from Ventura and took Viva back with her for a few days until we got out of the hospital (I may have mentioned it, I may not have, and I'm too pressed for time to go back and check). At any rate, we got home from the hospital Saturday afternoon, and my sister brought Viva back the next day. Here is a picture of Viva holding her sister for the first time, about 2 minutes and 30 seconds after she walked in the door:

It's a little blurry because it's a still picture pulled from video, but you can clearly see how thrilled Viva is. It makes me a little weepy to look at it.

Here is a close-up of Celia trying to eat her hand:

We are all thoroughly in love with her.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Lovely Miss C

I promised you pictures, and here they are!

Miss Celia, just a few minutes after birth...

Little Miss C, after a feeding yesterday...

Up close and personal!

Sorry to Keep You Waiting

Goldang free Wi-Fi!


I have been Internet-access-free since Wednesday and haven't been able to figure out how to send so much as a text message to the blog. The Wi-Fi at the hospital evidently doesn't work and yet keeps telling me I'm connected. What the bleep??


THE NEWS:  I am thrilled to announce that the latest member of the Blah Blah Tribe has indeed arrived: Celia Lucy came into the world on Wednesday, October 22 at 3:51pm. She weighed 7 lbs, 2 oz and measured 19.25 inches long. All is well now, but it was rough at the beginning. She is, as I write this at 3:07am Saturday morning, still in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit because she had trouble breathing when she first got here. Happily, I have been able to breastfeed her (my milk is coming in with a vengeance!) – she latches on well and seems to have managed to get some colostrum, that really nutrient-rich pre-milk. 


I have to say Thursday was the worst day, mainly because I'd been told they'd keep her in the NICU only overnight and then bring her to my room in the morning.  That was a big fat lie. I was awake and waiting for her and unable to get any real information due to a nurse shift change. Sweet Dub was home with Viva because my mother-in-law ended up having to go to work and couldn't stay with her. Viva was distraught because she hadn't been able to see the baby yet, and she has a nasty cough anyway so we knew they wouldn't let her into the ward. I had talked to Viva and she was crying over the phone because she wanted to see C. so badly, which made me feel worse. When I finally got to talk to the doctor in the NICU, she told me that because C. was on oxygen and an IV, they'd have to gradually wean her off of both and she probably wouldn't come out of Intensive Care until Saturday morning. Since at that point I was hostage in my room because I had both a catheter and an IV stuck in me, I did not yet have the option of going up to see her.


I hung up the phone and started bawling. Let me just say that there are few things more painful than crying when you have an abdominal incision, which led to this ridiculous vicious cycle of crying because I couldn't have the baby and then crying because it hurt and then crying some more just on principle.


To add insult to injury, my cell phone battery had died and the charger was at home (!!!). So I spent most of Thursday isolated, watching crappy TV, trying to get on the Internet, reading crappy magazines, and jonesing for my baby. Finally, they unhooked me from everything and I got to go up to see her at around 3:30pm. By that point, Viva and Sweet Dub had arrived and they went up with me. Viva was able to see her through the window of the less intensive area of the NICU – the section where they put the babies who won't be there long. Her face lit up just at the sight of her.


Words are completely inadequate to describe holding a newborn. Celia is so small, and so warm, and so Zen.  It is like holding a hug in your arms, if that makes any sense at all.


By the way, the name? We decided on as we were driving to the hospital Wednesday morning.  So that will evermore be part of family lore, that somewhere between Echo Park Animal Hospital and Jack in the Box on Glendale Blvd., we finally agreed on what to call Miss Thing.


"She looks just like you," Sweet Dub says. But then I must tell you she has dark, very straight hair, and beautiful dark eyes. Right now her skin is very pink. It seems she will be lighter in complexion than Viva, but one never knows with babies of color. Viva started "getting her chocolate" just a few days after her birth, so in the early "home from the hospital" pics, she is already quite brown.  It's hard to tell with Celia. I am fascinated by the recombination of our genes. She resembles Viva but she has her own thing going on. Shorter arms and legs – Viva was very long and leggy (and still is). Noses are similar, as are lips and chin.


I am writing this in the wee hours of Saturday morning to post later today. I've been told we should both be able to be discharged from the hospital today. Update at 8:27am: It appears that I have a few seconds of connectivity and I'm trying to post this. I will post pictures when we get home…


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

High Alert

I've been having contractions since 5:30 or so this morning. They have been intensifying but are still not at the magic "every 5 minutes, 1 minute in duration" level. Nonetheless, we've kept Viva home from school while we wait to see what happens and we've got all local family members on standby. I am cramping, hips are extra sore, back is killing me. It feels like this is it.

FYI: I'm using to time contractions.

Stay tuned...

P.S. If you can believe it, we still have no name for the baby. Trying to decide between two - I guess we'll wait until she gets here!

P.P.S. Cross-posted at Belly Overwhelmed.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ever So Slightly Busy

I'm on maternity leave and to most people that seems to mean that I must be lying around with my feet up, watching home shows. Perhaps that is what I should be doing, but alas, I am also one of those people who can't sit still when I have a big block of time in front of me and major life changes on the way, to wit: having the baby and moving to a new house one week later.

One week from today, at about this time, I should be in the operating room having a human being removed from my uterus. While it looked like Miss Thing might come early, now I am of the opinion that she was just teasing us, as her sister did five years ago, and she will come exactly on the day she is supposed to. If she does come slightly early, I am hoping for Thursday - which is two days from now, and is my stepfather's birthday. Since he has been having numerous health problems, I think that would be kind of nice.

In the meantime, I've been trying to tie up every loose end possible:

* Viva's Halloween costume is almost done. She will be Barry B. Benson or my name ain't Mama Blah. (Well, technically, it's not. Whatever, you get the gist.)

* I have researched all of our state propositions and figured out how I am going to vote on each one (I vote by mail, so all I have to do now is fill out my ballot).

* I am halfway through online traffic school for that damn "did not come to a complete stop" traffic ticket.

* I've paid all my bills.

* I have completed all maternity leave paperwork.

* I have done an insane amount of laundry (in fact, I have a load in right now).
* I've drafted the birth announcement, created labels and bought stamps for the mailing, and bought the announcement cards to be printed when the baby arrives.

* I've packed almost all the books in our living room.

* I've packed all unnecessary bathroom items. Today I'm moving on to the kitchen (upper cabinets - all the dishes I use for entertaining, mixing bowls, wineglasses, etc).

* I created a "baby countdown" for Viva whereby I bought 7 small gifts for her (squirtgun, Play-Doh, SpongeBob cap, etc.) and placed each in a brightly colored bag, numbered 1 through 7. She gets to open one each night starting tonight and then cross the day off on the calendar. She does not know this yet.

* I finalized my hospital bag items. Bag is packed and waiting. All I have to do is throw my toiletries in and I'm good to go.

* I went back though my emails and finally found pictures of the house for you to enjoy:

Here's the exterior...

...the living room...

...and the patio.

* And now, I think I deserve a pedicure. Quick, to the Blahmobile!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Casita de Blah

I am very pleased to announce that the Blah Blahs have secured a house! We put a deposit down yesterday on a two-story, three-bedroom, two-bath Spanish-style house about five minutes from where we currently live. We will be paying a bit more than we pay now, but we will double our space, and we are two minutes from amenities like the post office, library and a very good public school. I called the school this morning and got all the registration information to get Viva transferred into kindergarten there in December.

We will be moving about a week after the baby is born, and while this sounds hellacious, I don’t even care because at least I will be off and have time to settle in.

Sweet Dub had told Viva he’d take her to the zoo yesterday, and I had told her in the afternoon we’d do arts and craftsy type activities. What happened instead is that we came home from seeing the house again all wired up, we talked a hundred miles a minute, we ate, set Viva up on the computer with a video game, and then we both crashed. We slept for a couple of hours while Viva rotted her brain and ruined her eyes at This is not, needless to say, something we would normally do.

“Why am I so wiped out?” I said to Sweet Dub.

“You know what it is?” he said. “Relief.”


P.S. Viva had the nerve to tell me she would be happy not to be sharing a bathroom with me in the new house because my soaps and things get in the way while she is taking a bath. Like I am thrilled to have to scoop up at least 15 little toys and action figures out of the tub before I take a shower every day. The feeling is mutual, sister!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Which Will Come First?

The house or the baby? Place your bets now!

As I get closer to maybe actually having this baby, you'll find I am posting more over here and less here at Mama Blah, just because I am a wee bit precoccupied.

But let me let you in on the latest with the house search. We have one house semi-finalized -- i.e. the owners have approved our credit and offered us the house, but we haven't signed a lease yet, and the house wouldn't be ready to move in until Nov.5th, after the baby is born, while I'm recovering from a C-section.

Today, Sweet Dub found another house, further away, but for $300 less per month. We are hoping to see it tomorrow afternoon and make a decision about what to do in less than 24 hours. Hopefully you will not have to hear any more about our agonizing over our housing issues for much longer.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Search Continues…

Regular readers know that our landlord wants, as soon as possible due to his impending divorce, to move back into the house we’ve been renting from him for the last two years. If we have to move, we’d like to move before the baby is born --although that is now in 24 days. So, we’ve been looking at houses and duplexes and apartments and everything. As usual, when home-hunting, I am appalled by how much money people want for some crap. But here’s the latest wrinkle: at a couple of places, the owner wants to leave some of their stuff in the house. Then they don’t understand why that would be a problem.

I don’t feel comfortable having your father’s treasured grand piano in a house with two small children. Not only because we're paying for the whole house, including the large area of the living room that the piano occupies, but also because God forbid it should get damaged while we live here with two small children. Note: the response to this was that we could just cover the piano with something. So we should just walk around this hulking covered-up thing in the middle of our living space. By the way, no one in the house plays piano. Sweet Dub took lessons long ago, but you know how that goes…

Last night, we saw a house which was really well-suited to us. The owners want to leave a console table in the entryway, a china cabinet in the dining room (they’d take the china with them), a large Mission-style bookcase in the living room, and a 5-burner gas BBQ on the back patio. Again, we'll be living there with two small kids. I know they’re going to wreck something, and I’d rather it be something we already own so we don’t have to hassle with the landlord over it.

Well, we’re looking at another place tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Wrapping Up Before the Weekend

Hey, guess what?

My bank just got bought out.

John McCain has changed his mind and decided he will debate Barack Obama tonight. Flip-flopper!

The economy is in ruins.

We still have not found a house to move to.

I forgot my lunch.

The baby will be here in just 33 days. While I have a variety of adorable outfits for her, I’m a bit concerned about where she might sleep. Thankfully, we do have a car seat, so if worse comes to worse, we can all sleep in the car! (The rear seats do fold down.)

In more encouraging news:

I have another baby shower this weekend where I will be warmly embraced into the collective bosom of some of my dearest friends.

I am slowly but surely crossing things off my work pre-maternity leave “to do” list.

We found another grant writer and he’s filling out paperwork in the Human Resources office as we speak. He starts in one week – my last week of work.

Viva has decided she wants to be a bee for Halloween. Not just any bee! Barry B. Benson from Bee Movie! Interesting take on the movie here, by the way. [In a related aside, does it bother anyone else when they give animated animal characters blue eyes? Like animals that never in reality have blue eyes, like penguins or horses or bees? What is THAT about?? End tangent.] I have already begun working on creating a costume for her, which thankfully should not be all that difficult this time around.

I found out that one of my work acquaintances, who I really like but don’t see all that often because she works at one of our other sites, lives in the same neighborhood that the Blah Blahs are trying to move to. She is cool – very grounded and sane, and we are already so on the same wavelength – we are both pregnant and due within two days of each other! So we will be on leave at the same time and may even be able to get together and dish during that time. She has a 4-year-old daughter and hopefully Viva would bond with her and pretty much instantly have a friend in the area. (Although actually we already have a few friends in the area – but this one would be within walking distance. Miraculous in Los Angeles!)

My former yoga/dance teacher was recently on the Ellen show. Take a look at the clip and you can see why her class was so much fun!

Funny story about my doctor’s office here.

And, that's a wrap. Have a lovely weekend, all!

Updated two seconds after posting because I forgot to add a link. My bad!

Monday, September 22, 2008

It's a melting pot! No, it's a mosaic! No, it's a rainbow...

Poll: Whites, blacks in U.S. disagree about prejudice

Wow, shocking news. These folks truly have their finger on the pulse.

The highlight of the article for me is:

Kelly Edmondson, 34, of Cincinnati, is a white Democrat enthusiastic about backing Obama. …She cares for her two sets of young twins during the day and teaches college at night; most of her students are black. In the survey, Edmondson said positive words such as "hardworking" and "intelligent" describe most blacks "very well." She said a few negative traits, such as "lazy" and "irresponsible," apply "somewhat well" to most blacks.

In a telephone interview, Edmondson said those attributes apply equally to all races. [emphasis added]
Well, yes. Exactly. I wonder what percentages a different poll would come up with – a poll which asked people their opinions of what traits the general American public shares, particularly if it were one that instead focused on class. I would imagine that there would be a fair proportion of people of all races who would characterize low-income people as "lazy" and "irresponsible." (And I'm not saying that I agree with them, I'm just saying certain leading questions are going to get a pretty predictable response. And often I think that people who do not have much exposure to people of color form their opinions based on what they see in the media - wait, this is a tangent that could comprise a whole separate post, so let me get back on point.)

This ties in, somewhat, with what I've been experiencing in the past couple of months. In our most recent house search, we have pretty much given up on the areas in and around where we live, which is where we have been looking for the past several months. We’ve started looking in a middle- to upper-middle class predominantly African-American neighborhood, even though that would mean a longer commute for both of us, because (1) we’d be closer to certain family members and friends (including Viva’s friends) that we see a lot; (2) quite simply, you get more for your money over there; (3) it’s a nice neighborhood, quiet with lots of trees and close to a major park; and (4) with certain addresses, we can actually get Viva into a decent public school.

I am surprised by the number of people who have said, “Why do you want to move over THERE?” and yet seem to think it is perfectly reasonable to expect us to look into neighborhoods far east of us or deep in the San Fernando Valley, which not only are further away in terms of miles, but also have a very small percentage of African-American residents. I am not surprised, but disappointed, by people who ask me if I’ve considered areas I’ve never heard of and then when I ask, “But are there any black people there?” look crestfallen and say, “Oh, I didn’t even think about that. I guess not.”

The issue is that no one asks "Why do you want to move over THERE?”about any other neighborhood where we've been looking. Hmm...if it only happened once or twice, I wouldn't think anything of it. But most people seem to be surprised that we would consider moving to a mostly black area.

One of the things that attracts me to the neighborhoods where we have been looking up until now is that there is a diversity of people – black, white, Asian, Latino, South Asian, etc. These are mid-city neighborhoods, and since we both work in the mid-city area, it makes sense for us to look there. However, this has not been fruitful, so we had to expand our horizons. One of the things that is crucial for us is to get Viva into a fairly mixed school which will also give her a good education. Fortunately, there is one in the neighborhood we’re looking at that she would be eligible to go to that is pretty balanced between white and black, with both Latino and Asian thrown in for good measure, and it has decent test scores. Neither of us is crazy about sending her to a school that is predominantly anything – whether white, black, Latino, or Asian. That is a major issue for both of us, and one which we have discussed extensively.

On the housing search: we haven’t yet found a place. Yeah. We would like to move during the first weekend of October, since the baby will be here at the end of October and I can’t imagine moving after a C-section, with a newborn. Our landlord has already contacted us about moving some of his stuff into the storage area. He clearly needs to move ASAP, which isn’t helping matters. All I can say is that when we know, you’ll know. I can’t say anymore about it at this point because it just stresses me out. As my boss said, “You’re nesting! And you have nowhere to nest!”

Yeah, it’s like that. Major suckage.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Blog Pondering


This evening, Viva and I were talking about twin brothers in her class. I mentioned that I hadn’t seen them in a while. “They come to school later than I do,” Viva said. “But you know what I don’t understand about them? I never see their mom.”

“I don’t think they have a mom,” I said, without thinking. Viva gasped.

“Not have a mom? What happened to her?” she cried.

“I don’t know what their situation is,” I said, cursing myself. “But I believe they have two dads.”

“Two DADS?” Viva said. “Does one act like the mom, and one like the dad?”

“I don’t know, sweetie,” I said. “Maybe they just act like two dads.”

I could see her filing this away in her brain. Oh, we will talk about this again, I can feel it. But in the meantime, she got distracted by her Curious George book, and I got distracted by the unbelievable amount of rice under the table. Did any of it make it into her mouth?

…and Curiouser

Yesterday I was at Target and in sort of a hurry (when am I not in a hurry) but trying to mellow out about it because they had only two checkers open. The woman in front of me had two piles of items, which she was paying for separately – one with a gift card and one with a credit card – and I think she was also trying to apply for an adjustable rate mortgage and access all her health records through the little card swipey dealio they had there, because somehow the transaction was much more complicated than it seemed it had to be. At any rate, once the cashier got to the second pile of stuff, I realized it was all underpants, of all different colors and varieties. Briefs, boyshorts, thongs, lacy polyester, cotton, she had it all. In all honesty, it was kind of fascinating to watch. The cashier was exactly the kind of young nerdly type that you might imagine – (I swear I can’t help it) well, you might imagine that this is the only access he ever gets to ladies’ panties, if you know what I mean. He was actually sweating a little bit.

So he rang up this towering pile, and I was watching the total add up with great interest. Because, hello, it was a lot of damn panties. And the total came to $175.12. FOR PANTIES! AT TARGET!!

Completely unfathomable. I can see paying that much for panties in a department store. But at Target? Wouldn’t they have to be something along the lines of $4.99 apiece? How many panties do you need? I started to wonder. Maybe she’s going on a long trip around the globe and doesn’t want to do laundry along the way. Maybe it’s something more salacious that I can’t even imagine because I am such a naïf. Maybe she has some sort of chronic uncontrollable bowel disease and it’s easier to just throw her underpants away. Maybe she’s a hoarder or impulse shopper and some switch in her head told her that today was Panty Day. Maybe she’s a good Samaritan and she’s buying underpants to give to a shelter or something. Maybe she’s a set dresser and needed underpants for a shoot.

Everybody’s got their story. What do you think?

P.S. By the by, new post over here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Moving On…

When we last saw our hero, she was having a bad day and trying to turn it around. In that spirit, she said something along the lines of, “It could always be worse.”

That, my friends, is what we call ironic foreshadowing.

For lo, the next day, did her husband call her at work with the foulest of news. “Beloved Spouse,” he cried, “I have received the most foulest of news, news that will upon its hearing make you faynt and fall twitching into the Slew of Despond.”

Our landlord and his wife of less than a year are separating. He wants to move back into the house where we currently live. I am six weeks away from giving birth, and now we must find a place, pack our stuff, and move before the baby comes.

You know that we have been looking for a new place for months with no luck. Had I written this post yesterday, I thin k it would be filled with a lot more despair, and a lot of cussing.

However, the Blah Blah Family has no time for that. We have already been to look at one house and are setting up appointments for the weekend. I am trying not to focus on it unduly.

“This could all be for the best,” I said to Sweet Dub yesterday evening. Strangely, faced with the prospect of having to move on short notice, with a 5-year-old and an enormously pregnant wife, he was not receptive to such talk. In fact, he seemed a bit stressed.

“You keep saying that about everything,” he said. “Why do you keep saying that, and then nothing good happens?”

My default position, when faced with a crappy situation, generally tends to be immediate anxiety, followed by humor as an attempt to alleviate the situation, and then by an attempt to find something positive about the situation, followed closely by realistic action I can take to try and make the situation better. I am not a Pollyanna, but I do feel it’s a waste of time and energy to focus on the negative and besides, it generally only makes you feel worse.

And who says nothing good happens? As the old saying goes , God may not answer your prayers when you want Him to, but He’s right on time. Something good is coming.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Looks Like Someone Has a Case of the Mondays

Viva has a stye. Her pretty little sparkling eye is swollen and there’s a red lump on the inside of her eyelid.

Someone came into my office today, in a hurry, and after slamming themselves* loudly into a chair, proceeded to cough (without covering their mouth) in the general direction of, and maybe 18 inches away from, my open (half-full!) bottle of vitamin water. The bottle is still sitting there and I still really want to drink it, but I won’t.

Sweet Dub went home for lunch and called to tell me that I just received a $380 ticket in the mail for “failing to stop” in an intersection at 7:58 AM on a Sunday near the drugstore near my house. Since I was turning right on red, and there is no “can’t turn right on red” sign at that intersection, I am completely mystified by this. How can they argue that I didn’t even stop?? I don’t understand how they would judge that. I received a ticket for this many years ago, and I have since been very conscious of making a full stop before moving again. I am really skeptical that this even happened, but this goes down as “yet one more thing I have to appeal,” along with all the ridiculous crap my health insurance company refuses to pay for as part of a normal pregnancy.

Over the weekend, Sweet Dub said, “I can’t wait for this pregnancy to end!” No, he really said that. In the meantime, I have developed a varicose vein in my left leg, my hips are killing me, and the only way for me to sleep is propped up by 6.8 pillows. Please, tell me more about how much this pregnancy is bothering you. Love you, babe!

Oh, and also, my hips? Deserve a separate paragraph, because they really hurt, like on the morning when I woke up 5-plus years ago to pee and said, “Ow, my hips are really killing me” and my water broke two hours later. Yeah, it’s like that, except my water hasn’t broken and I don’t want it to because the baby isn’t ready yet.

Lunch time: I went to the break room and pulled out my frozen spanokopita and lovely green salad. Looked at the directions for the spanokopita: “Do not cook in microwave or toaster oven.” No, yeah. Since those are my only options for cooking my entrée, cursed soundly and then prevailed upon one of my co-workers for part of a Chinese mooncake. Salad and mooncake. Not quite gonna do it. Baby’s reaction seems to be, “Yeah, right.”

I always have to ask myself on days like this, “What was the bright spot in this day?” And when I can’t think of anything else, I know that at the very least, it could be worse. So much worse. I have a lot to be thankful for. Like, for instance, the fact that I can afford to buy vitamin water and spanakopita. And stye medicine. For the moment, anyway.

* Sorry, trying to be gender-neutral.

Friday, September 12, 2008

With Apologies to Dan Fogelberg

Earlier in the week, I wrote a really long post about the government bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and how it is ridiculous that no one bats an eye over the government assuming control of these private financial institutions but that the minute you point out that the government should step in and do something about healthcare – like, oh, I don’t know, maybe some sort of healthcare reform? Create a national, single-payer system like many other countries in the civilized world? – people start shrieking about socialism.

I feel that we are in a healthcare crisis just as much as we are in a housing crisis, and I want somebody to do something about it. So I wrote this long post and then it just seemed to me, on reading it over, that there was a bit too much ranting in it. Yeah, I’m angry about it, and that translated into me not writing very well. I ventured over into Indignance, and I couldn’t find my way back.

So. I’m not expecting you to tune in here expecting sunshine and rainbows, but I also don’t want to raise your blood pressure. I could write a follow-up about work, but I’m trying not to raise my own blood pressure (right now, a healthy 90/62). I could write about my pregnancy, but that’s what this is for. What to do, what to do?

Ah, well, I give you this:

Viva: I had the funniest dream last night.

Mama: Oh yeah? What was it about?

Viva: We were having a marching band parade! [following me around the kitchen as I am trying to pull together both lunch and breakfast] Me? And my cousins? We were all in a marching band!

Mama: Wow, that does sound pretty funny.

Viva: Yeah! M was playing the trombone, and T was playing the drums! And – what else do you play in a marching band?

Mama: Um, there are lots of horns, like – the tuba? And cymbals, and different kinds of drums...

Viva: What about the flute?

Mama: Yeah, yeah, you’re right, they do have flutes.

Viva: Well, I was playing the flute. And Auntie Lola was there! And Grandma too! She was in the parade? And you know what she said?

Mama: What, sweetie?

Viva: She said, “I never got to be the leader of the band.” So I said, “Grandma, you can be the leader of the band!”

Mama [laughing snidely]: Oh my God, that totally sounds like something Grandma would say. It’s like a metaphor for her life.

Viva: And I made her the leader of the band! And she even had the swirly stick! What is that swirly stick called?

Mama: The baton.

Viva: Why is it called that?

Mama: I don’t know. I think it’s French. French for stick.

And, end scene. I’m just a living legacy to the leader of the band.

P.S. And can I also say how much I love this? I want to eat Marge’s hair. It looks like it must be made out of something yummy.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Laughter and Tears! The Yin! The Yang!

Bright Spot of the Day

On our way to school this morning, Viva says, “Did you know we have secret signs at school?”

I immediately think of kindergarteners either throwing gang signs (East-SIIIIDE!) or dressed in softly gleaming white robes, performing by candlelight scary occult rituals for which there are secret signs. Guardedly, I say, “No, I didn’t know that. What are these secret signs? Are they so secret you can’t tell me?”

“No. What you do is you hold up your fingers to tell the teacher.”

“Okay, and what does that tell her?”

“If you hold up three fingers, it means you need a drink of water.”

“Oh,” I say, relieved. “I get it now.”

“If you hold up one finger, it means you have to go to the bathroom.”

“I see,” I say. “What does it mean if you hold up two fingers?”

“PEACE,” Viva says with a heavy sigh, and then gets pissed off because I can’t stop laughing.

Shitty Spot of the Day

A new director has joined our department and today is her first day. Since I was one of only a few people here when she arrived, somehow it falls to me to get her acclimated. Eventually we are joined by one of my other co-workers, who shows this new person that she’ll be sitting (for the moment) in a cubicle. (Note: We are notoriously short on space over here; it took me six months to get an office when I started.) So my co-worker assures this new person that the cubicle is only temporary.

The new person, L., says confidently, “Oh, I know.” And turning to me she says, “How do you feel about having to move out of your office?”

“I wasn’t aware that that was a done deal,” I say. My boss had recently floated the idea that I might have to move to an as-yet nonexistent office, which I would have to share with someone else, and I had already firmly stated my opposition to that idea. It now becomes clear that this has been presented to this new person as something that is going to happen pretty much as soon as I go out on maternity leave. She realizes she has said something she shouldn’t and starts backpedaling. “Woops, don’t get mad at me, I’m new,” she says.

I am PISSED. Really pissed. I’m not pissed at her – what sense would that make – and I say so. I also say my understanding was that this whole discussion is premature, and we don’t know where I’ll end up. I then reassure her she shouldn’t worry about it. We move on getting her oriented and after a few minutes I excuse myself.

I go down to the parking garage and sit in my car and call Sweet Dub, and as soon as he answers the phone I start crying. (Lucky, lucky him.) I just think it’s pretty shitty to plan to move someone into my office while I’m off having a baby. I mean, shit, I’m seven months pregnant and trying to keep all the aspects of my life under control and I have really tried to not let this pregnancy interfere with my work life, and I feel under the circumstances I have handled it well up to this point. This is just what people do, right? But my feelings are hurt and right now I just want to throw my hands up in the air and go home.

Since Sweet Dub’s job is imploding (they had some kind of disaster yesterday which he is in the middle of running damage control on), I let him off the phone after a few minutes. Blow my nose. Drink some water and take a few deep breaths. Send good vibes to the baby, get out of the car, and go back upstairs.

As the morning progresses, people ambush me in my office and I end up having to rehash this incident three times. First with my boss, then with the co-worker who was present when it happened, and then with my boss’ boss, who swears he was the one who told me they were going to give away my office while I’m gone. As in, yes, that IS going to happen. The alleged plan is to build out a conference room while I’m away – cut it in half and put up a wall and a second door.

I am thoroughly sick of it. At this point, I have closed my door and every time I get down to work, someone else comes by and knocks and asks about some other fucking thing. So since I’m not getting anything done, I had to vent. And here we are.

Peace (that’s two fingers).

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

On Being Fearless

A recent post of Mango Mama’s about her daughter Olivia got me thinking again about Viva and her confidence. I’d had this post floating around in my head for a few days, but it hadn’t yet gelled (my brain is not as perky as it used to be). But what it boils down to is that while Viva has increasingly become more physically confident – plunging into the water without a second thought when swimming, shaking off bumps and falls when playing soccer, clearly feeling her power during kung fu – socially, she is still a bit timid.

I blame myself, of course. One thing about Sweet Dub is he is never timid about anything, so I know she ain’t gettin’ it from him. Dub has pretty much taken charge of Viva’s physical education lately, taking her bike riding, signing her up for kung fu (which is the cutest damn thing you have ever seen), and the like. When she sits with me to read a book together, or to write a note to someone, she is cautious. If she starts reading a word and mispronounces it, and realizes she is reading it wrong, she will look at me anxiously. “I can’t do it,” she’ll say.

“Of course you can,” I say. “You’re such a good reader. Sound it out. You almost had it, just start the word over from the beginning.” Then she will start over and read it correctly, I’ll praise her for getting it right, and nonetheless she may stumble over the next couple of words. I don’t know where this is coming from, but I’m thinking that (and I don’t want to blame the baby for everything, BUT) she is regressing a bit because if she’s having trouble with something, I’ll give her extra attention. Since she craves being with me or her dad or both constantly lately, this makes sense, but it’s frustrating.

Tomorrow is School Picture Day. (Oh yes, kindergarten started THREE WEEKS AGO, did I not mention it? So much for summer vacation.) This morning she said, “I’m not sure what to do for School Picture Day.”

“Sweetie, all you have to do is smile,” I said.

“But what if you don’t like the picture?” she said.

“How could I not like a picture of you? I love every picture of you I have ever seen,” I said.

“So no matter what it looks like, you’ll like it?” she said.

“Of course,” I said. “I really don’t want you to worry about it, babes.”

I started out this post thinking in my self-absorbed fashion that I had passed my tendencies toward a lack of self-confidence* on to my child – and indeed, maybe I have on some level. I should say that, having wrestled with esteem issues through adolescence and my early 20s, for the most part I think I am The Shizznit, though like all of us I have moments of self-doubt. But as I started typing, I realized what is truly going on here. (You see, the usefulness of blogging? Gives you time for a little evaluation, reflection and awareness and all that, if you only make time for it.)

I think the impending arrival of Rosie**, as Viva calls her, is making my little crumb cake feel a bit insecure***. And this is totally normal. And her constant wrestling with her daddy, and her constant testing of limits, is all about that. And now I just want to go pick her up from school and smother her with kisses and tell her I know she is scared that we won’t love her as much when the baby comes, but nothing could be further from the truth. Poor little thing and her fragile psyche. I don’t know how she could imagine her parents don’t completely adore her and would gladly throw ourselves under a train to spare her any hurt, but I guess that hasn’t fully come across.

Here’s to being bold, and to the confidence that comes from knowing that folks have your back. Here’s to making mistakes and having the courage to try again. Here’s to believing the positive about yourself.

* I know, hard to believe. My sister once told me, “You think you’re better than everyone else,” to which I snidely replied that her statement said more about her than about me. “Don’t hang your insecure bullshit on me,” I said. I love my sister, but you know how siblings can push each other’s buttons like no one else can? Yeah, it’s like that.

** Not her real name.

*** This weekend, I had to sing Viva an old Sesame Street song because she was making a card for a friend and she mis-spelled something and started freaking out about having to start over. Do you remember this song (sung by Big Bird)?

Oh, everyone makes mistakes, oh yes they do
Your sister and your brother and your dad and mother too
Big people, small people
Matter of fact, all people
Everyone makes mistakes so why can’t you?
If everyone in the whole wide world makes mistakes

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Different Kind of Black List

Ooooh, I just found out about this today: THE BLACK LIST: VOLUME ONE.

In a new kind of living portraiture, a remarkable group of African-American notables share candid stories and revealing insights into the struggles, triumphs and joys of black life in the U.S. when THE BLACK LIST: VOLUME ONE debuts MONDAY, AUG. 25 (9p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO.

I'm totally setting my DVR since Lord knows, I may be passed out on the couch by 9 p.m. But I'm hoping it's better than that recent series on CNN which, or so I've heard, pretty much focused on everything that's wrong in Black America. I realize the media feeds on and thus propagates fear, but was it too much to ask for a nuanced picture? Now, I am not sure why THE BLACK LIST chose to interview only "notables" in this, its first volume -- seems to me they could intersperse celebrity segments with other folks -- but hopefully they will remedy that with subsequent volumes. I'm interested to hear what they have to say.

And no, it hasn't escaped me that they're airing this on the first night of the Democratic National Convention, when for the first time ever a person of African descent is being nominated by his party to represent said party as their candidate for President of these United States. By the way, Michelle Obama will be speaking at probably about the same time that THE BLACK LIST is airing. Hmmm. I wonder if she'll set her DVR?

Updated to add: Oh, yeah, and a few new posts up over here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Incoherent as I Want to Be

Have you ever read any tips on how to increase blog traffic? Perhaps the most oft-cited rule is to update your blog frequently to build your audience and to increase the number of chances for your blog's content to be noticed by search engines. Following close behind that is to respond to comments promptly.

Yeah, I'm kind of a sucky blogger these days. Sorry about that. And now, despite saying that, I have to log off because it appears that even though I was already late for work today, I left my child's homework in the car, and if she doesn't hand it in every day she won't get a sticker and because it is my fault (I jammed it under my tote bag and lunch box and jacket and all the other crap in the front seat because she had too many other things to carry), I will never hear the end of it. So I must leave work (for which - did I mention? - I was already late) and drive back to school so my child does not lose faith in me forever and evermore, Amen.

How's your day going?

P.S. Haven't been able to do anything about the house offer because my work friend's daughter went into labor off and on for 5 days and finally, finally had the baby Monday, a week past her due date. Hence and therefore, my work friend hasn't been at work.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Getting Housed

So a work friend of mine has had her family home on the market since sometime last year. It’s a gorgeous, huge house in an upper middle class, predominantly African-American neighborhood. The friend in question, B, owns her own home and is not interested in moving into the family home. She and her siblings have remodeled it and are trying to sell it for over a million clams. Nobody’s biting. They’re taking it off the market.

She called me Friday to ask if we’d be interested in renting it. It’s vacant, and she and her siblings would like someone living there who would take good care of it. It is much farther from work for me and Dub, but near a really good public school (thus we would save money on school tuition, but pay more in gas*). Her brother is handling the finances so she has no idea how much he would want in rent. Did I mention that while we live in an 864-sqaure-foot bungalow, this is about 3,500 square feet?

Sweet Dub is skeptical. I admit I am a bit too. Some issues:

+ How much will it cost to heat and cool a house that big?
+ Will my mother-in-law assume she can just move in?
+ How much are they going to want in rent?
+ If we live in a million-dollar house, won’t we be spoiled for living in a regular house when we eventually buy?

I don’t know. I guess it can’t hurt to talk to the guy. What do you think?

*Although we did manage to get the “Let’s Refuel America” deal with the $2.99/gallon gas for three years when we bought the new car last month, so it’s not as expensive as it could be.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Who's the Bomb?

My darling Sweet Dub, that's who.

In anticipation of my birthday, which is this coming Monday, he arranged to have his sister, Diva, take Viva along on a camping trip for the whole weekend. Merely having a Viva-free weekend would be a huge gift, as anyone who has children knows. You love them, but every now and then you need a break -- especially when you are pregnant and all wore out and broke down.

But lo, Sweet Dub not only arranged a child-free weekend. No, my friends, he also booked us a Club-level, ocean-view room at the Ritz-Carlton. The Club level features dedicated concierge staff and a private lounge with four "food presentations" daily. So all we have to do is walk out of our room, mosey into the lounge, pick up our free food, and go back to the room. It sounds like heaven. I wonder if the concierge will peel and feed me grapes?

I'll report back.

Friday, August 01, 2008


In the aftermath of the moderate earthquake that jolted us Angelenos earlier this week, I’ve received a lot of earthquake preparedness emails and the like. One in particular grabbed my attention because it stated that the standard advice to stand in a doorway or get under a desk or table might actually kill you in an earthquake. Being in a major earthquake would be bad enough – without a doubt I would need clean underwear afterward. But I would like to know enough to actually survive the earthquake rather than being crushed to a paste under the desk I crawled under.

A group called the American Rescue Team advocates what they call the “triangle of life” to survive a disaster:

It is not the earthquake which kills you. Getting crushed under a squashed desk or table kills you.

Misinformation from bureaucrats or phony experts who have never crawled into a collapsed building kills you.

All rescuers agree: You can survive by fleeing the building if you can get out the ground floor or getting into a survivable void, next to a large, bulky object.

And Ten Tips:

1) Everyone who simply "ducks and covers" WHEN BUILDINGS COLLAPSE is crushed to death -- Every time, without exception. People who get under objects, like desks or cars, are always crushed.

2) Cats, dogs and babies all naturally often curl up in the fetal position. You should too in an earthquake. It is a natural safety/survival instinct. You can survive in a smaller void. Get next to an object, next to a sofa, next to a large bulky object that will compress slightly but leave a void next to it.

3) Wooden buildings are the safest type of construction to be in during an earthquake. The reason is simple: the wood is flexible and moves with the force of the earthquake. If the wooden building does collapse, large survival voids are created. Also, the wooden building has less concentrated, crushing weight. Brick buildings will break into individual bricks. Bricks will cause many injuries but less squashed bodies than concrete slabs.

4) If you are in bed during the night and an earthquake occurs, simply roll off the bed. A safe void will exist around the bed.

5) If an earthquake happens while you are watching television and you cannot easily escape by getting out the door or window, then lie down and curl up in the fetal position next to a sofa, or large chair.

6) Everybody who gets under a doorway when buildings collapse is killed. How? If you stand under a doorway and the door jam falls forward or backward you will be crushed by the ceiling above. If the door jam falls sideways you will be cut in half by the doorway. In either case, you will be killed!

7) Never go to the stairs. The stairs have a different "moment of frequency" (they swing separately from the main part of the building). The stairs and remainder of the building continuously bump into each other until structural failure of the stairs takes place. The people who get on stairs before they fail are chopped up by the stair treads - horribly mutilated. Even if the building doesn't collapse, stay away from the stairs. The stairs are a likely part of the building to be damaged. Even if the stairs are not collapsed by the earthquake, they may collapse later when overloaded by fleeing people. They should always be checked for safety, even when the rest of the building is not damaged.

8) Get Near the Outer Walls Of Buildings Or Outside Of Them If Possible. It is much better to be near the outside of the building rather than the interior. The farther inside you are from the outside perimeter of the building the greater the probability that your escape route will be blocked.

9) People inside of their vehicles are crushed when the road above falls in an earthquake and crushes their vehicles; which is exactly what happened with the slabs between the decks of the Nimitz Freeway. The victims of the San Francisco earthquake all stayed inside of their vehicles. They were all killed. They could have easily survived by getting out and sitting or lying next to their vehicles, says the author. Everyone killed would have survived if they had been able to get out of their cars and sit or lie next to them. All the crushed cars had voids 3 feet high next to them, except for the cars that had columns fall directly across them.

10) Rescuers have discovered, while crawling inside of collapsed newspaper offices and other offices with a lot of paper, that paper does not compact. Large voids are found surrounding stacks of paper.
I am not an expert, nor do I play one on TV. But this makes sense to me so I thought I would pass it along.

P.S. Still posting over here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Yesterday at 11:42 AM, I was on the phone with the VP of my department, whose office is just down the hall (we were preparing for a conference call). If you had been a fly on the wall (ick), you would have heard me say, “Hey, wait a minute. That’s not – hey, is this an earthquake? Oh my God, I think it’s an earthquake. Yup, we’re having an earthquake. Um, hello?”

At that point he stuck his head in my office and said, “Are you okay?”

What? Was there some sort of tectonic disturbance yesterday?

We are all okay over here, although it took a few minutes for the rubbery feeling in my legs to go away and then all the phone lines were jammed so no one could get in touch with anyone else. My sister-in-law, who is always on top of these things, had developed an emergency plan for our family years ago. In the event of a terrorist attack or natural disaster, we are all supposed to call Sweet Dub’s Aunt D in Texas. She will then be able to tell us all where everyone is and if everyone is okay. The problem is that in the intervening years, there’s been a rift in the family and Sweet Dub refuses to speak to that side anymore. Since I think the rift (which involves allegations of elder abuse*) is legit, I don’t want to call them either. So instead we were all emailing each other and trying the landlines every 10 minutes.

Here’s some fascinating footage of the quake, if you haven’t seen it already.

Evidently, instinctively, I did the right thing as the quake was happening, which was to not get under my desk and to stay away from the front wall of my office, which is made of glass. I just got down low on the floor next to the desk , because (a) I’m big and pregnant and all and I can’t move that fast, and (2) What if it WAS the Big One? I’d be crushed underneath the desk.

Ah, California. Endlessly entertaining.

* Oh man, the stories I could tell you, which I don’t out of respect for the family. This blog would be about 500 times more interesting. Yeah, sorry about that.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Other Side of the Story

"Children's mouths speak the truth."
- Chinese proverb

"You can't handle the truth!"
- Jack Nicholson as Col. Jessep in A Few Good Men

Well, as I've learned more about "the incident" that occurred over a week ago, I'm reminded once again of how important it is not to pass judgment before you get the whole story. And particularly of how, when you know your child is generally well-behaved and truthful, you need to take what others say with a grain of salt.

Here's my recap of how the incident was originally relayed to me:

The kids went on a field trip on Friday and were waiting in line to get on a merry-go-round. There was the usual pushing and shoving, and apparently some child pushed Viva, so Viva punched her. Then one of the moms who was helping to chaperone said, “No, no, no – Viva, no hitting!” To which my child (yes, mine)replied: “What do you care? You’re not my mother!”

Two points here: Viva did not punch the other child, as I found out later - she merely pushed her back. (I'm not excusing this, but I do think pushing is much less harmful than punching, as I was originally told.) Also, there was a crucial omission in this story, which is that the mom in question did not see the child, A, push Viva in the first place. When Viva protested that A had pushed her first, the mom flat out said, "No, she didn't." I know my child and while she can sometimes be "spirited," I know that she will not ever hit, or behave aggressively, unless she is hit first.* So it appears that not only was she wronged first, but then she was (in her mind) called a liar on top of it.

This pretty much changes the whole tone of the incident for me. I said to Viva, "Okay, I understand that you were really angry and hurt. It sounds like K's mom took sides without knowing the whole story and that was unfair. But you know you are still not supposed to talk to grown-ups like that."

"I'm sorry!" Viva wailed. She had already had to talk it out with Daddy, with much crying and unhappiness, and then I came home to find her lying in a somber little puddle on Daddy's chest on the couch and had her rehash it with me. "Can we just stop talking about it? It just makes me sad!"

"You understand that you are not to talk back to grown-ups like that?" I said. Viva nodded miserably. "Okay, then. I can tell you are sorry and you already feel bad enough, so yes, we can stop talking about it. Can you come over here so I can give you a hug?"

Privately, Sweet Dub and I conferred and agreed she should not be subject to any kind of further punishment. It is a hard road to walk, this parenting thing. You just kind of make it up as you go.

* This is a policy of last resort, since when Viva started school, she was so non-confrontational that she was getting bullied by another kid every day. Finally, against my protests** (and since "telling the teacher" was not preventing her getting pushed, kicked, scratched and even spit on every day), Sweet Dub taught her how to throw a punch in self-defense. This was preceded by a simple lecture, the refrain of which was how she was only to do this as a last resort to make this child stop picking on her. Indeed, not only did the bullying stop, but they became best friends.

** "My child is not going to be a punching bag!" was Sweet Dub's response.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Scenes From a Marriage

Sunday morning. I am eating a blueberry muffin and enjoying the fresh medley of fruit I have prepared (peaches, strawberries and blueberries). My husband wanders by.

Sweet Dub: So what's the plan for today? We need to clean this house.

Mama Blah [deliberately screechy]: When are you going to put my pictures up on the wall? When are you going to fix the yard? I thought you were going to --

Sweet Dub leaves the room. Five minutes later, he pokes his head into the dining area.

Sweet Dub: Do you want to go to the zoo or clean the house?

Mama Blah: I don't want to do either of those things.

Not that it matters, because Sweet Dub has already walked out the back door without waiting for my response. Ah, love.

Updated to add: We ended up going to the hardware/garden center en famille rather than the zoo. Once we got back home, it was too blindingly hot to stand in the patio area where we were planning on doing the work, so I took a nap while Sweet Dub and Viva played with Legos. But we did end up getting half the project finished in the early evening -- pavers have been placed, and tonight we will add seed. Sweet!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hush Your Mouth!

I am having issues with Viva’s school – more on that later – and I have been trying to get in touch with their principal to address them. She returned my call today and said, “I assume you’re calling about the incident on Friday?”

To which I responded, “What incident on Friday?”

Oh, Lord. The kids went on a field trip on Friday and were waiting in line to get on a merry-go-round. There was the usual pushing and shoving, and apparently some child pushed Viva, so Viva punched her. Then one of the moms who was helping to chaperone said, “No, no, no – Viva, no hitting!”

To which my child (yes, mine) replied: “What do you care? You’re not my mother!”

Wow. I was floored. We have been having some trouble with Viva over the past few weeks because she has become very mouthy. In fact, right now she is on punishment for a week because she mouthed off to her daddy over the weekend. Clearly, whatever we have been telling her about her mouth and having respect for other people is not working.

Man, if I ever said something like that and the principal called my mom to talk about it? Whew! Shit. I would rather not go home. Life would be very unpleasant.

I responded that this is a new thing, very uncharacteristic of Viva (to which the principal agreed, as Viva is most often the kid who gets stickers and treats for being so well-behaved, such a good listener, etc.). I have never had a bad report about her – usually if the school calls me, it’s because she is either sick or some other kid hit/bit/kicked her or something. I asked for the child’s name so I could make sure Viva apologized to her, and for the mom’s name, so Viva and I could apologize to her together.

I also told the principal that while I am not trying to make excuses for Viva, she has been very unhappy with the school’s camp program this year. She has had a different teacher virtually every week, and no one has communicated with us about this at all. The woman who was supposed to be her teacher, who Viva loved and whose class she wanted to be in, quit unexpectedly because the other kindergarten teacher gave notice and the school administration expected her to teach two classrooms’ worth of kids. The only reason I know this is because one of the other parents called me at work and told me. No one at the school communicated to me at all.

So Viva was already heartbroken that she lost one teacher, but she quickly regrouped when Mrs. H. began teaching the summer program. Mrs. H. is a fourth-grade teacher who was supposed to substitute for the whole summer. Viva told me she liked her and was now happy with school. So we had Mrs. H. for two weeks and then we went on vacation. When we returned, Mrs. H. was gone on vacation and Mrs. R, the Spanish teacher, was filling in. Viva was glum.

“She is not a good teacher,” she said. “She thinks we’re babies. She makes us sing Barney songs!” I told her to grit her teeth and be patient, that Mrs. H. would be back next week. This would be fine, except that I was wrong. Mrs. H. was not back. She was moved to another class and an 80-year-old teacher’s aide is now in charge of the class. Viva is now really unhappy and confused, and I’m really ticked off.

“Well, we hired a new teacher, Miss W. She’ll be starting Monday, and she’ll be Viva’s teacher for the whole school year,” the principal said.

Great, so now she has to adjust to yet another teacher. It occurs to me that when it appears that the grownups don’t know what’s going on, and the whole routine is off-kilter, it makes the kids feel really insecure. Viva misses her Pre-K teacher, so she’s already unhappy about that, and now after three teachers in four weeks, she is going to get a new teacher again. How this new person is going to get any respect from these kids is beyond me. I can see why Viva might be acting out a bit. (Not that I am making excuses.)

But moreover, getting back to “the incident” at the merry-go-round, I am really pissed off that this happened on Friday and I’m just hearing about it today. Had I known about it the day it happened, I could have addressed it then and our weekend would have been very different (Viva had her cousins over for a camp-out and a sleepover, with all the attendant treats and privileges). It’s well after the fact now, and it’s not fresh.

So it was especially timely that I came across this entry from CityMama:
'Ohana means family (and sometimes you learn that the hard way)

It made me nostalgic for my mom’s old neighborhood, where if you did something bad up the block, your mama knew about it before you even walked home (and you got a talking-to from every other grownup on the street on your way home) . I feel the parents in Viva’s class are a pretty tight-knit group and we can pretty much correct each other’s kids with impunity, so I am doubly appalled that Viva would respond this way to someone’s mom.

And I already ratted her out to Sweet Dub. She is in for one hell of a talking-to on the way home. Further bulletins as events unfold.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Forty (Not the Song by U2)

My birthday is on its way (August 11th), and it’s the big one this year. I’m turning 40. Sweet Dub says I shouldn’t tell people that, but you know what? I don’t really have a problem with it. If other people do, that’s their issue. I’m not going to get all hung up about it.

Since this is a “milestone” birthday, it gives me pause and makes me a bit reflective. Here are some reasons why I feel blessed to have lived through nearly 40 years on this planet:

* I honestly do not give a rat’s ass about what other people think about how I live my life.

* I still get carded when I buy alcoholic beverages (good genes haven’t let me down yet).

* I don’t have to be trendy.

* I am more comfortable with myself than when I turned 30, and much more so than when I turned 20. This makes me look forward to the years to come.

* I have finally learned how to say no.

* While I do like to look good, I realize that (to quote India.Arie), “I am not my hair, I am not my skin…” Who I am is not just what I look like.

* On a related note, and this is not a contradiction of my previous point: regular application of moisturizer and sunscreen are critically important.

* Finding the right life partner makes a huge difference in how you live your life as you age. Find someone who makes you laugh, who makes you think, and who has his/her head on straight. It will save you a lot of grief.

* Good friends are a great gift.

* Sometimes it’s easier to let the small things go. And there are a lot more small things than you might think.

* Certain things you can’t go cheap on. Wine, bras, and shoes come to mind. Oh, and garbage bags. Don’t go with the cheap garbage bags.

This is what comes to mind this minute. I am sure I will amend later. What would you add? Even if you haven’t yet reached 40, what are some important life lessons you’ve learned?

P.S. New post up at Belly Overwhelmed, too.

Monday, July 14, 2008


So, last week the Blah Blah Family was on vacation, or as we like to call it, "staycation." I intentionally did not read email or blogs or for that matter, return phone calls if I didn't feel like it. And it was glorious. During this time, I: had my sister and her family over twice, including a sleepover on the 4th of July; went to the supermarket approximately 43 times; had a mani/pedi; bought a new car; went to the beach; saw a Sparks game in the skybox at Staples Center;
went to a pool party; read two books in their entirety; lounged around in the backyard drinking lemonade and eating Popsicles and watching Viva splash about in the pool; and I don't remember what all. The days just kind of blended together and that was just fine with me. I got to nap!

Okay, I admit it. With this pregnancy, I just can't be bothered with people. I get easily tired and thus easily irritated, and when people want to do things that aren't easy for me, I have actually begun to say no. I think the last straw was a few weeks ago, when I had agreed to a playdate with one of Viva's classmates. Her mom is sweet but a bit high maintenance, as in, she will call me every couple of days normally, but when we are having a playdate she will literally call me every five minutes before we get there. But first, she will call me the day before the playdate to confirm, then call the morning of the playdate to confirm again, then ask me to call her when I am leaving the house. This is not because I have ever been late to a playdate. I understand how kids are, and mine is just as hyper about getting to play with your kid as your kid is about getting to play with mine, so I am pretty much out the door when I say I'm going to be.

The problem with this mom is that I agreed I would meet her at an indoor playground in an area of Los Angeles County which is inland, and extremely hot. I actually live closer to this area than she does, but I left the house earlier than she did, because, as I explained to her, I needed to get gas and then pick up a gift for my grandmother's birthday at the same mall where the playground is. "You're leaving NOW?" she said.

"Yeah," I said. "I just have to do these two things and then if we get there before you, that's fine. We'll just meet you there." I was leaving about 10 minutes before she was, and she lives about 15 minutes further away. She proceeded to call me when she left, again when she got on the freeway (at which point, on hearing I was already in the parking lot, she screeched, "You're already THERE?"), and then every two minutes thereafter to determine where exactly we were. At one point, I had just hung up the phone with her and it rang again before I even put it down. What?? I almost threw the phone out the window. It was 98 degrees and I could not find a parking space and I was muttering not very nice stuff under my breath and Viva kept asking me what I was saying and I wanted to run someone over.

I just have no patience for stuff like this. I realize this is her issue, her anxiety, whatever, but it makes me not want to deal with her at all. She called me again while I was on vacation (despite the fact that we'd just seen her at a pool party three days earlier) and left a message wanting to get together. I haven't yet called her back. (I know, I know, I'll call her today.)

It's not that I don't like her. When we finally get together, I have a good time. But seriously, this woman calls me more often than my own sister does. (And I actually like to talk to my sister!) But I had other friends before I met her, friends who I love dearly who I don't get to talk with as much as I'd like. If I'm going to be talking to anyone, I'd rather be talking to them. (Note to friends: this doesn't mean that I'm actually going to call you, although you know I love you and think about you constantly. Kiss kiss!)
Sweet Dub said to me this weekend, "You are really anti-social these days. We both are."

"Viva doesn't want to go anywhere," I said. This is true. We had tried to lure her out of the backyard with promises of the park, the zoo, even heroin, but she just wanted to lie in the shade and paint watercolors with her dad and then splash around in the pool.
"But I wonder if she's getting that from us," he said. "We need to schedule some more playdates so she's not just around us all the time."

I glared at him.

"It doesn't have to be with just [Constant-Phoning Mom's kid]," he said. "Do she and Viva really get along THAT well?"

"They play together fine," I said. "But Viva never mentions her or asks to go play with her. She asks about [kid whose parents we like] and [other kid whose parents we like] a lot more often, so I've talked with them about doing a kind of a regular thing. We just haven't gotten it together."
"Well, get it together," he said, making a face at me.

"Whatever, get it together yourself," I said.

God! Why must I be so put upon? Me and my petty little problems.

So anyway, I am going to attempt to be more sociable. Wish me luck. Oh, and look upon me in all my anti-social hugeness:

P.S. Also, very short new post up at Belly Overwhelmed. Because I'm back from vacation, but why work? (ha ha, heh heh, that was a joke, I've been very busy today, really)