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)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


Viva, as her alter-ago “Michael,” has asked me to go on a date with her. I have accepted, and we have both gotten dressed up. The outfit “Michael” wears on our date is comprised of the following: knit winter cap, pulled on haphazardly over Viva’s mini-locs,* a white “wife-beater” tank top with colorful designs painted onto it with tempera paint, a pink madras belt used as a tie over the wife-beater, and navy blue bike shorts with sparkly rhinestones down each side. (I am wearing a white eyelet dress with a green wrap, dangly earrings and a straw hat.) We drive on our ottoman to a lovely restaurant. When we arrive, “Michael” asks if I would like to sit inside or out. I decide on out, so we head out to the backyard, where “Michael” serves me a lovely dinner of plastic food – tacos and something called “soup sorbet” – on a tray, on a blanket on the grass. It is all very romantic, and at one point “Michael” lies back on the blanket and invites me to look at the sky, which is beautifully blue and clear. I lie down for two seconds before I can feel my pregnant stomach overtaking my lungs. Because breathing is important to me, I sit back up. “Michael” looks at me lovingly and tells me I am beautiful. I thank him and tell him he is beautiful, too. And then the following exchange takes place:

Viva/Michael: Do you wanna have dinner and then sleep together?

Mama B: Sleep together?!

V/M [encouragingly]: I have a REALLY nice bed.

Mama B: That sounds nice, but I think I need to get to know you better before we have a sleepover.

V/M [disgustedly]: Agh.

Mama B: Y’know, this has really been great. I’ve had a really good time on our date. You seem like a nice guy. But I need to get back home to cook dinner for my family.

V/M: Yeah, um – me too. I need to get home to see my little brother, Gee-Woo**. He wants me to play videogames with him.

Mama B: That’s sweet of you. Well, thanks for the date and all.

V/M: Yeah, um – I’ll see you tomorrow? We can go to the movies!

Mama B: Sounds good.

V/M: Okay, see you in the morning. [runs inside] Dad! DAD! You wanna play with me? Let’s wrestle!

* I twisted Viva’s hair last Sunday and then took the twists out on Saturday and just left her hair like that, all curly and wild. Completely adorable.

** New kid in summer camp. He speaks very little English, mainly Korean, but apparently they speak some kind of universal play language, because Viva is all up in his business and he’s all I hear about lately.