Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

No, I haven't been eaten by a pack of wolverines, I've just been trying to keep my head above water--but my blog has suffered for many months and I apologize for that. Since the layoff in April 2010, Sweet Dub has been doing freelance videography and photography, and one of his regular clients is a bar/club, which translates into him being gone a lot in the evenings. This translates into me doing the evening routine with the kids by myself, which translates into me being too tired (after a full day of work) to do much else besides fall asleep on the couch watching TV. Sweet Dub comes home and wakes me up in the wee hours, and I often don't get back to sleep for a while. It's not a good pattern.

In the New Year, I resolve to figure out a better balance with this situation, and be more conscientious about making time to write here.

Many blessings, love and light to you and yours in 2012!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Moving On

So:  I gave notice at my job this week. No worries, I have another job to go to. More to come.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Frowny Face

This morning I was sitting in a ballroom listening to a talk on the neurophysiology of empathy. The presenter stated that one of the major factors involved was facial feedback.  Basically, however your face is arranged impacts how you feel—your mood, and even your respiration and your posture. The example she gave was when you are talking with someone and their face is scrunched up in an expression of distress, you subconsciously do the same, and that this impacts you physiologically. She told a very interesting story: research shows that injection of Botox into the area between the eyebrows, where people typically get a frown line, has been shown to reduce depression. Because you can’t physically frown, it impacts your mood!

This is fascinating to me. Not that I’m going to run out and get Botox, but simply because I never really thought about this at this level and yet it makes sense. How many times have you heard from self-help gurus something along the lines of “fake it ‘til you make it” or “act as if?” The idea is that no matter how you feel, if you put a smile on your face and act as if everything’s great, you create that reality. It becomes a self-fulfilling action. Naturally, if you have a serious mental health disorder, this is not going to cut it. But for most people, often times it’s just a matter of a shift in attitude. Take a minute and regulate your breathing, relax your face (unfurrow your brow!), and you are going to feel better. 

Now, I must have missed the flap about this research when it first came out—and having delved into it now, it turns out that the doctor who conducted this research only used ten patients as subjects, nine of whom were allegedly depression-free two months after treatment, so it’s hardly an authoritative study.
But anecdotally around the web, a number of people have come forward to state that while they got Botox for cosmetic reasons, they noticed two unexpected side effects: the first, a lifting of what had previously been a lengthy depression; and the second, a reduction in headaches, including migraines.

Okay, that all sounds pretty great, but then there are the cons, among them: facial paralysis. Thanks, but no. Others have said Botox seems to suppress certain emotional responsesHow can that be healthy? It seems like if you were sad and wanted to cry, but couldn’t, it would be toxic to your insides. 

Well, I think I’ll be keeping my frown line and just try to be more mindful not to scowl while squinting at my screen. How about you?

Friday, November 04, 2011

Being There

I think I have mentioned on here that there have been some big bad scary things happening to many people I know. (Oh, yes! Right here.) One of these things is that a good friend of mine (let’s call her “R”) has been diagnosed with cancer. She is a tough cookie and is convinced she is going to beat this. She is a single mom with two kids and a very strong support system of family and friends who are rallying around to help her out.

She has started chemotherapy and is on her fourth round—and her hair has begun falling out. On Halloween night, we got a whole group of kids together to take them trick-or-treating around her childhood neighborhood, where her mom still lives. R. was dressed as a punk rocker, with a Ramones T-shirt and a fantastic hot pink and black long wig. I told her I think she should wear the pink wig every day. She told me she couldn’t stop looking at my hair. I really wanted to shave my head right about then.

She told me amazing stories about how her kids have been helping to take care of her. I had suggested that we take the kids this weekend for her since she was scheduled for treatment again on Thursday and she gets so sick afterward. (Her mom and sister will be taking care of her, she won’t be by herself.) “[The 7-year-old] might go,” she said. “But [the 11-year-old] won’t leave me.” Her sweet son, who is already taller than I am, breaks my heart in his tenderness with her.

It’s been challenging with R. I reach out and sometimes she will accept help and sometimes a wall goes up and I have to just step back and let her work it out. I hope she beats this.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Viva recently got a bee in her bonnet about tidying up before bed. She picked up all the toys in the living room, folded up all the throw blankets we had strewn about, and replaced all the throw pillows on the couch and loveseat. Then she wiped down the dining table and said,"I moved the napkin holder into the middle of the table so it's equidistantly in reach."

Who IS this person???

Monday, October 03, 2011

I May Have to Concede

Having just purchased a box of haircolor to cover my roots, I look in the mirror and conclude I am fighting a losing battle.

Is there a way to gracefully go gray? Discuss.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Up, Up and Away

The other day, when I was working from home, it was a beautiful day. The weather has been a bit cool, which Viva doesn’t appreciate, because now that we live somewhere with a pool, she wants to spend virtually every free moment in it. Since she was thwarted in her Pool Dreams over the weekend, Sweet Dub decided he would pick her up early from her after-school program and take her swimming. To optimize the experience for her, I told Sweet Dub I would pick up Ceeya from preschool and take her to the market with me while I picked up some groceries. Viva would get free time with her dad and since Ceeya doesn’t really swim, and thinks she can, and very much complicates the pool experience, this would take her out of the equation and minimize stress for all involved. (Sorry, future Ceeya, that you were deliberately left out of the Funnest Time EVER. Mommy loves you.)

So we went our separate ways. I pulled up at preschool, spent some time with Ceeya and friends, and then we (just Ceeya and I) motored on to the market, just five minutes away. Shortly after we arrived, Ceeya saw a big red strawberry balloon with a face on it and insisted she must have it. It was the most incredible thing in the world to her, and it was eight dollars. FOR A BALLOON. I admit I was feeling a little guilty that Viva was having her fun time without her sister, so I grabbed the balloon for Ceeya and clipped it to her jacket. It floated along with us hither and yon throughout the store.

Speaking of which, the market is a massive Ralphs which stretches from here to Chicago and back. About halfway through our very leisurely journey through the store—remember, I was trying to give Sweet Dub and Viva some time together—Ceeya said she had to go pee. Naturally, the bathroom was somewhere east of the Mississippi, but somehow we managed to make it in time, and Ceeya beamed as I told her how proud I was that she did not have an accident. We washed up, reclaimed our cart and merrily trudged back to the other side of the moon store, got the rest of our items, waited in a really long line, and finally left the store.

As I was putting the groceries in the back of the car, Ceeya decided she didn’t want the balloon clipped to her jacket anymore and she pulled it off.

Up, up, up into the sky it went.

This is when Ceeya completely lost her mind. Louder than any child has ever screamed since the dawn of time, she let it all out, veins sticking out in her neck, her whole face turning purple, her entire being outraged and her overall attitude one of, “WHAT THE---?? DID YOU SEE WHAT JUST HAPPENED TO ME???”

And that is when a very nice older gentleman approached and asked what had happened, and then offered to give me a dollar to buy Ceeya another balloon. And because I am an idiot, I blurted out that it was not just a dollar, it was eight dollars, and then he offered to give me half. And then I politely refused. And then we went back and forth like one does, and he insisted he must give me money. “Look at her, she’s hysterical,” he said. So finally I said yes, okay, it was very sweet of him, and then he pulled out a twenty and asked me if I had change. Which miraculously I did.

And then he asked her name, and then he instructed her very seriously that when she got the balloon, “Don’t let it go. Hold it tight in your hand, like this, baby! Will you do that? Do you promise?” and by this time, Ceeya was very quiet and very serious and she nodded and I thanked him again and we went back inside and had to find someone to get us another balloon exactly like it and then we stood in line again and paid for the dang balloon and then we got back in the car and I shoved the balloon into the back seat with my purse on top of it so it wouldn’t float into my line of vision as I was driving the five minutes back home. And then my phone rang from the back seat where I couldn’t reach it because it was inside my purse and I knew it was Sweet Dub wondering where in hell we were.

And that, my friends, is the story of how just stopping by the store for a few things to kill some time turned into an hour and a half odyssey that cost me 12 squillion dollars in balloons and made us late for dinner (which I had to cook).

Viva, on the other hand, had a great time.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Disregard--just testing to see if I can actually publish from my phone. Thanks for your patience.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Not Really Amazing

 Today I am working from home, in the living room of my new apartment. I am facing the windows, and all I can see is trees. It is a beautiful sunny day, but not hot—perfect Southern California autumn weather.  A slight breeze is blowing.

I spent a big chunk of my day working on one writing project, writing and rewriting and reading here and there online to flesh out ideas and going back to rewrite. Then I took a walk, came back, had a snack, quickly went through email, and decided to sit a minute and try and get back in the habit of writing for myself. I find that if I don’t post for a while that when I sit down to write I don’t know where to start. Once I start, I often go back and delete whole paragraphs from the beginning. I don’t love getting started, but I do love having written and being done.

I am distracted these days.  Lots of big, bad things happening to people I love—and since they’re not happening to me, I don’t feel I can completely share here. Nonetheless, I am worried, and upset, and distracted.  What do you do to distract yourself?

I am listening to lots of music, and getting irritated with iTunes, since sometimes it will let me purchase songs from my phone and sometimes not. It makes for a very disjointed playlist, which I am trying to embrace so as not to be annoyed. I am trying to let it play out as it wants.

In related news, I am reading lots of comparative religious stuff these days. I find the similarities between various world religions calming—just in terms of the very basic messages. Love each other, treat others the way you’d want to be treated, etc. Sometimes the unexplainable happens. Is it a miracle? Do such things exist?  

Parenting small children is also very distracting. I am very tickled by my kids’ use of language.  Right now, Ceeya is apt to say, when something doesn’t please her, “Mom,  that is not really amazing.”  She is not saying it in opposition to me, as if I have said something is amazing. No, she is just letting me know, drawing my attention to something—maybe she expected to like it, but she doesn’t, and so it is not really amazing, and she says it with great seriousness, looking deeply into my eyes with her giant dark brown ones. And I say to her, “I am sorry that it is not really amazing. I hope you find something else that is really amazing.” And I think she will.

And I hope you do, too.  Because right now some things are not really amazing. And I wish they would turn around a bit.

 P.S.  Do you want to know what else is not really amazing? Blogger insisting I should switch over to Google Chrome. And then all my posts publishing with the format all wonky. That is extra really not amazing.

P.P.S. I chose to work from home today because of several chaotic events going on at work. My co-worker friend, who is in the office today, emailed me to let me know it was a good call because I would really be annoyed if I had gone in. I wrote back, "I think annoyed is my default setting." That is also not really amazing. I don't enjoy being annoyed (although it is good fodder for humorous anecdotes). I am trying to work on being less annoyed. I'll let you know how I progress.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

This Must Be the Place

Home - is where I want to be
But I guess I’m already there
I come home - she lifted up her wings
Guess that this must be the place
-- Talking Heads

Home is where the heart is.
-- traditional proverb

Mama, I yike this new house!
-- Ceeya

Viva is eight years old, and she has lived in five different homes. Heck, Ceeya is not even three and she is on her third residence. That is a lot of moving.

I have been thinking a lot about what home means lately. I moved a lot as a kid—not just from apartment to apartment but from school to school as we moved. I moved away to college in Pennsylvania, and then I moved back to my hometown of Boston.   And then I moved all the way across country, to San Diego and then Los Angeles. Pre-marriage, I also moved a lot within Los Angeles, which I actually enjoyed because I got to try out a lot of different neighborhoods.

Moving sucks. At the same time, I like moving. I like finding a new place, exploring how things fit together, figuring out new routes to work and school, discovering the little gems of each new place. Now even though we have only moved about three miles away from our old place, I am learning all the ins and outs of our new neighborhood and our new space. There are so many pleasant little surprises as you go.

And at the end of the day, no matter where we are, when I open the door and hear, “Mommy’s home!”:  I am home. And I get to plop down in the middle of my grabby, yelly, huggy family and be bombarded by tales of the day and how hungry they are and look at their boo-boos and fingerpaintings and math homework and the latest photographs Sweet Dub has taken. And what could be better than that?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Blah Blahs Have Landed

I won’t bore you with the details, but on Friday, September 9, the Blah Blah Family finally moved.

It took weeks of preparation, as we were essentially cutting our living space in half—moving from a three bedroom house with a separate studio to a two bedroom apartment. If you have never had to do something like this, well, I am not going to say you should try it. But it was cathartic, the amount of stuff we had to go through and decide what we could and could not live without. And also, with the number of times we have moved in the past five years, I have never had a decent amount of time to go through all my belongings and decide what I did not need to keep. Since I knew space was at a premium, I elected to take a week off between Labor Day and Moving Day to devote myself 100% to going through every room in the house and culling all unnecessary items. Result: this time around I was shredding tax documents dating all the way back to 1998. Can you imagine? I’ve been carting all that stuff around?! It boggles the mind.

So: lots of trips to Goodwill to give stuff away, handing over bags of outgrown clothes to Viva’s friend in second grade, a bed to Sweet Dub’s stepbrother, a couch to the Parent Center at our local elementary school—and countless trips to put stuff in storage. Sweet Dub is determined to empty out the stuff in storage (lots of baby items—stroller, car seat, etc. in excellent condition) by putting it on Craigslist/eBay. We shall see.

I have added another 15 minutes to my commute, which means I leave the house with Viva by 7:30 AM, drop her off at school at 7:45-7:50ish, and get to work by 8:15. I am trying to mellow out about it and listen to podcasts or mixes I love on 8tracks or Pandora by hooking up my phone to my car radio. It’s not the end of the world, but for those familiar with LA, I am driving from Culver City/Fox Hills to Echo Park and back during rush hour. I do not recommend it.

The kids are happy, because now we have a pool and Viva can swim every day and Ceeya can float about with her life jacket on when she feels up to it. There are long stretches of pathways and sidewalks that they can tear about on, on their bikes. We are all together, which is all that matters when it comes down to it.

Related story: the night before the move, as I was putting the kids to bed, I said, “Okay, you guys, time to sleep and not a peep. Daddy and I are really busy getting things ready for the move tomorrow so I need you guys to go right to bed and no shenanigans.”

Ceeya: (Sniff. SNIFF!)

Viva: Mom?

Mama Blah (extricating from the bedclothes): Yes, Veev?

Viva: Ceeya is crying.

Mama Blah: No she’s not, she’s fake crying, just like she fake hiccups. You know she does that.

Ceeya: (SNIFF, SNIFF!)

Viva: No, Mom, I think she’s really crying. Look at her eyes.

Mama Blah (peering in the dim light of the nightlight and realizing she’s right): Ceeya? Are you crying?

Ceeya flings herself into my lap.

Mama Blah: Oh, no! What’s wrong, baby? Are you sad?

Ceeya (wrapping her arms around my legs): Yah.

Mama Blah: Are you sad about the move? About having to leave this house?

Ceeya (mournfully): YeeeAAAAH.

Mama Blah: Aw, honey. That’s normal. We’ve had a lot of happy times in this house. But we’re also going to have a lot of happy and fun times in the new house, okay?

Viva: Yeah, Ceeya, it has a really big bathtub [the pool] for you to play in! And we’re right by the park! And lots of kids live around there!

Mama Blah: That’s right. We’re going to go swimming, and to the playground…

Ceeya : (SNIFF! SNIFF!) I DON’T WANT TO LEAVE DADDY! (breaks down completely)

Mama Blah: What??
Viva (simultaneously): Oh my God.

Mama Blah: Baby, Daddy’s coming with us to the new house. You thought we were leaving him behind?
Viva (simultaneously): Oh my God, Ceeya, you’re so weird, we’re not leaving Daddy!

Mama Blah: Viva, go get your dad. (Viva leaves the room.) Ceeya, baby, we all go together—you, me, Viva and Daddy. We are ALWAYS together. We would never move and leave Daddy, okay? We are all going to live together in the new house. (Sweet Dub arrives and we all pile in for a big Blah Blah Family hug as he reassures her.)

Man, kids are something else.

By the way, any tips for cooking on an electric stove? I’m completely useless at it.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Rockin' It

Following up on my last post: on Saturday, Viva got her hair trimmed and re-done in a half-twisted, half-out chunky 'fro. She totally rocks it. She was really happy with it and then on Tuesday some little girl at camp told her that her hair looked nappy. 

Now, you know what? Her hair is nappy. I don't have a problem with that. As with many words that should be non-offensive but have become negative because of how they are used, it was the way she said it that I have a problem with. Like nappy is the worst thing it could be. Like nappy is synonymous with ugly. I am not teaching my kid that she should hate what God gave her.

Look at the picture again. And try and tell me that my child--my smart, funny, kind and sociable kid--should be made to feel ugly. Some people drink a bit too much Haterade. And self-Haterade is the worst kind.

I'm off to see if I can find a "Happy to be Nappy" T-shirt. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My Baby is a Maverick

My Viva is 8 years old. She is bigger than she has ever been, but she is still, in the scheme of things, a little girl. She often shows such maturity and a sensibility beyond her years that I forget she is still quite small yet.

This weekend, after I took her box braids out on Saturday, she wore her hair “wild” on Sunday. At first she was rocking a Macy Gray-style ‘fro, but then she styled her hair so it fell across her forehead. “I want to have rock star hair!” she said. I noticed her hair could use a trim and some conditioning (she’s been swimming a lot this summer and her hair is drier than usual), but no harm hanging around the house or going to Target like that. However, on Sunday evening, which is usually Hair Night, she told me in no uncertain terms that she wanted to wear her hair “out” to camp the next day.

“Ooooh,” said Sweet Dub. “I don’t know about that.”

“Honey, tomorrow is a swim day,” I said. “Do you really want to go with your hair out? It might not look the way you want it to when you come out of the pool.”

“I don’t care,” said Viva.

“Kids might make fun of you if you wear your hair wild,” Sweet Dub said.

“I don’t care,” said Viva. “I like my hair. It’s cool.”

After a bit more discussion, we agreed that she should wear her hair how she wants. I have been a big cheerleader for natural hair over Viva’s lifetime, so evidently it somehow soaked in. She very rarely wears an Afro; her preference is for two-strand twists so she can shake her head and feel her hair swing around. I was pleased she stood her ground, but a little apprehensive. After we concluded our conversation, I said to Sweet Dub privately, “I have a feeling I’ll be doing hair tomorrow night.”

The next day, I dampened Viva’s hair, put some moisturizing crème on it and sent her off to camp. When Ceeya and I went to pick her up at the end of the day, she was standing off to the side of the gym, by herself. She gathered her things and as we were walking out, she said, “Mom, I had a horrible day,” and then she started crying.

Kids made fun of her hair all day. She cried as we walked home, and she continued crying as we sat with her dad and talked about it. Not only did a variety of kids (most of whom were bigger than she is, since this camp admits kids age 7 and up) make fun of her hair throughout the day, but one of her closest friends told her that her hair looked ugly. (This is a kid who usually is at our house after camp literally 4-5 days per week. She is the daughter of a single mom, one of Sweet Dub’s best friends from high school who works until 6 in Santa Monica and can’t pick her up on time. We consider this child family, one of Viva’s “play cousins.” She eats dinner with us several nights a week, we are her emergency contact for the camp, etc. I could not believe that in this instance she would not have Viva’s back. Yes, I am still furious at this 7-year-old child. It is not rational. Let me back off this tangent before I really get going.)

We all cuddled in a pile on the couch, Viva’s beautiful eyes shiny with tears as she let all the stored-up heartache of the day spill forth.

“This is not your problem, this is their problem. It says more about them than it says about you. Your hair is beautiful and you can wear it how you want,” I said.

“You don’t have to do what everyone else does,” Sweet Dub said. “You can be different. It’s people like you who change the world. Who cares what they think?”

“You crying? Why Coco* is crying?” Ceeya said, patting her sister’s leg.

(What is really infuriating to me is that the vast majority of the kids in the camp are also black. “The same flipping hair grows out of their heads!” I said to Sweet Dub later in my Mama Bear rage. “They don’t even know what their own friggin’ natural texture looks like!”)

After she dried her tears and blew her nose, Viva said, “I’m going to wear my hair like this for the rest of the week. Because I LIKE IT.”

She is badass. I wish I had that confidence at 8. And I’m proud of her.

* Coco is her nickname for Viva. This in itself is a long story.

Monday, August 08, 2011

All Over the Place

Are you still there? 

My mind is kind of running amok these days. Work has been extra busy since sometime in May. As I reached a deadline of July 15th for a major project, about to breathe a sigh of relief and expecting to take just a couple of days off, my boss informed me that she needed me to write a $500,000 proposal, due in less than two weeks, on a brand new project we are developing. “You’re not going to be able to take any time off until August—like me,” she said. I was already fried then, but I sucked it up and just kept going. It had to be done, and no one else could do it. My boss has been working every weekend since March. She is a machine! (And I say this with affection. She never asks more than she would do herself.)

So: other deadline reached. While others loom, we have both cried Uncle. She is off on vacation and I am finally going to get some time off later this week (just a couple of days to celebrate my birthday. I will be 43. Ye Gods!). I will then come back, refreshed, and work a couple more weeks before I take a full week off around Labor Day, at which point we will be moving into the hypothetical new home we are miraculously going to find this week. (Yes, I agree, not much of a vacation.)

Here’s where we are with that: given our current economic status, we need to downsize. Sweet Dub, God bless him, has been out of work since April 2010. While he has been exploring various avenues*, freelancing and the like, he does not have a regular source of income. Our house, which is awesome, is a little big for us and we could stand to go smaller. While I was hoping we could find a modest house to rent in the area, here is what I am finding:

(1) small, rundown crappy houses where I would have to buy a gun and a German Shepherd 5 minutes after moving in or, if in a reasonably safe area, houses which need major home improvements/repairs which have not yet even begun but are “planned” (e.g. installation of central heat);

(2) huge, rundown houses that would cost a fortune to heat and cool;

(3) ridiculously overpriced condos;

(4) cute houses in decent condition that are a good $500-$1000 more a month than we can comfortably spend.

An added wrinkle is that to remain in proximity to our current neighborhood—i.e. within a three-mile radius—we are looking at areas that are actually not in our school district. We are on the border of Culver City, which has a really good school system, and we are also on the border of Ladera Heights, which I just recently learned is not part of Los Angeles Unified but part of the Inglewood School District (definitely NOT good schools, from all I’ve read and heard). For many reasons, this bums me out, because Viva is happy with the magnet program at her LAUSD school and I would hate to move her. As I’ve said before, we love the neighborhood we’re in and feel very much a part of the community, so we want to stay in the general area.

We have finally faced the facts and are looking at apartments (still not in our current neighborhood, because the trend there seems to be “nice little houses not-for-rent” and “kind of crummy apartment buildings.” Not sure why this is. ). I am trying to make peace with this.

I know, woe is me with my petty little problems. I grew up in a series of cramped apartments, so I know where my resistance on this comes from. But really: “Oh noes, we have to move into an apartment!” It’s not the end of the world. I am lucky, given the continuing crappy economy, to have a job. I can still feed my family. So we will have to give up our cushy house with the yard and our illusion of suburban home living. Big freakin’ deal, right?

But honestly, I am not trying to live in the lap of luxury. I just want a place that’s clean, and safe, and peaceful. I don’t want to have to spend my first few days in a new place scrubbing to get it clean. If you know me in real life, you know I am not a neat freak. Trust when I say that too many of the places we have been seeing are grubby. I can’t believe people expect you to spend hard-earned money to move into a place that is raggedy and dirty.

This weekend I saw a house for lease which, if I had been in the market to buy, I might have considered. I might have been able to live with its flaws if I knew I could fix them. It was spacious, it had great bones, and it was in a quiet neighborhood with a decent yard. The paint on the exterior was peeling, the upstairs bathroom was godawful (bright pink tile and a baby blue bathtub), and the whole interior had a feeling of neglect. Walls needed spackling and painting, carpet should have been ripped up and replaced or maybe let the hardwood floors come out to play. In any event, I knew Sweet Dub (who was off hammering out some legal issues with prospective partners in Glendale) would hate it. I had to smile and pass.

Right now it is looking like we are apartment-bound, for sure. I am less upset about that today than I was over the weekend. Stay tuned.

* Sweet Dub has really been working hard to get a number of television projects off the ground. This is an added frustration, because while he does have interest from some major players, including a cable network, things move slowly. Everyone is very encouraging; we are hopeful that he will get a deal but it could be six months from now. Or, it being Hollywood, it could be never. He now has three projects in development, one of which looks like it will actually happen (network people have been flying out from New York to talk with him, they email back and forth constantly) but not before we move. Of course. Sigh.

Friday, July 01, 2011

It’s All Good in My ‘Hood

The Blah Blah Family has had our fair share of crappy luck with housing. Since 2006, we have rented three houses in the Los Angeles area, and in every single case the owner has had to move back into the house due to a change in personal circumstances. This is our third house and our favorite so far, and again, we have to move.

I will miss the house itself, as we have lived here for almost two years and that is most of Ceeya’s life, so a lot of great memories were made inside these walls. The house is a good size for us—actually, a little big for us, which means more house to clean, and obviously I don’t love that aspect of it. The yard is ginormous. When people visit us they can’t get over it, and I love that aspect of the property too. But what I will miss most about it is the neighborhood it’s in.

I want to say the house is on a cul-de-sac, but in actuality it sits right at the middle part of a crescent-shaped street. You turn off of a main road, follow the street around in a loop and it takes you right back out to the main road. The local elementary school is right down the street, so we walk Viva to school. The park and recreation center is next to the school, and Viva goes to an after-school program and summer camp there, and has also played in their T-ball and Little Jammers basketball leagues. Last weekend our local Councilmember sponsored a Movies in the Park night, and I took the girls over while Sweet Dub was out working on a freelance gig. We spread out a blanket on the baseball diamond near some friends, and when Ceeya got sleepy, I had no qualms about taking her home and leaving Viva “alone” to continue to watch the movie. Another friend said she’d just drop her off at home when the movie ended. As it turned out, Sweet Dub got home twenty minutes later and just walked over to get her, but he didn’t have to.

Given our proximity to the park, and Viva’s involvement in sports, we’ve gotten to know a lot of our neighbors. People are friendly. It’s also a racially mixed neighborhood, which (with the range of skin tones in my family) makes me feel comfortable. When you go to the supermarket, there’s a mixture of black, Asian, white, Hispanic—all of which I naively expected to find in every neighborhood when I moved to LA (hey, they said it was one of the most diverse cities in the world). I would classify it as a solidly middle-class neighborhood if I had to throw a label on it.

I like when I am walking down the street either to or from the school in the morning and people honk and wave, or I stop to talk to my neighbor and his 3-year-old as they head off to preschool and work. I like that I run into people I know—friends from Viva’s old preschool, her 2nd grade teacher, the mom of a classmate—at Target, at the mall, at the market, and we stop to have a friendly chat. I love that my neighborhood is welcoming and pleasant to move about in. I love that it’s clean and has nice big trees and people walking their dogs and kids riding their scooters to the park.

Lately I have become really nostalgic about having to move and leave our little corner of the universe. We lucked into finding this house. It is really hard to find a rental in this area. We’ve looked at a couple of options in a three-mile radius but the places have been really run-down, or too small, or too big.

Sigh. The perfect place will manifest, right? I’m trying to be all about the power of positive thinking and focus on all the things I love about this situation so I can be clear about what I’m looking for. But I think I’m just trying to replicate this house and this block. Maybe that means we’ll find something even better?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Betwixt and Between

Help! My kid is becoming a tween!
Let’s look at the evidence:

(1) She is borrowing my clothes. Right now she prefers my T-shirts to her own.

(2) She is refusing to wear barrettes or ballies in her hair because they are too “little girlish.”

(3) She has become very picky about clothes and shoes. It is really difficult because she has never been terribly girly, but she doesn’t wear boys’ clothes either. Right now I am skating (unintentional pun) a thin line by buying her a lot of sportswear and surf/skate type of clothes. She’s really into Converse and Vans. I used to be able to buy clothes for her without taking her with me (she hates to shop). This new direction of hers is cramping my style.

(4) She needs to wear deodorant. I don’t mean she is asking to wear it. I mean she HAS to or you have to open a window.

(4)(b) She also needs to shower every day.

(5) She now has a signature hairstyle and won’t let me change it up. This is actually fine, because I basically make small twists all over her head once a week and leave it except for spritzing with water/leave-in or oiling her scalp and ends. She was unhappy with me recently when I did a “quick” hairstyle that she deemed childish (basically parting her hair into four sections and braiding each section. I know, but I was in a hurry.) I confess to being a bit bummed about this because I like variety, but I can’t complain because at least her hair is in a protective style.

(6) It is difficult to determine which sneakers are hers and which are mine if you stumble across them in a dim room. If you hold them up next to each other, there is only a slight difference in size.

(7) I can comfortably rest my chin on the top of her head when she stands in front of me.

(8) She is becoming more responsible. She asks for chores!

(9) She is cultivating patience. She’s amazing with her sister, who is roaring through her “two-hood” like nobody’s business and rounding the corner on three, saints preserve us.

(10) She planted seeds and grew a plant, watering it faithfully, and lo, it did not die.

(11) Right now, at this moment, she wants to be a teacher. My grandpa would be proud.

(12) She recently had an epiphany that I might occasionally want some alone time. You know, like twenty minutes to read or watch a TV show on the DVR and fast forward through the commercials. This doesn’t mean she gives it to me, but at least she recognizes that I am a person with my own needs, as well as being her mom.

(13) She watches programs like Through the Wormhole with her dad and they argue about quantum physics.

(14) She’s coming into her own creatively. She likes to cartoon, and make films, and we are working on a book together. It is amazing to watch her bloom.

Okay, so maybe tween-dom isn’t a bad thing. It’s just freaking me out that my baby may soon be borrowing my shoes.

Have I mentioned that she's only 8?

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Bump in the Preschool Road

With all that's been going on in the past couple of months, I realize I have not yet written about Ceeya's transition to preschool. Ceeya moved from daycare, where she'd been since she was only a few months old, to preschool at the beginning of April. It was a long search which I haven't fully detailed here (and I won't go into it now), but we ended up finding a preschool program we were comfortable with in a church about four to five miles from our house.

I love Ceeya's teacher, Miss Mary. She is clearly committed to the kids. She does special theme-based projects with them and focuses on areas of concern—she had no hesitation about working with Ceeya on her sensory processing issues and has made great strides with her in terms of potty training. We are very close to moving Ceeya out of Pull-Ups and into cloth training pants, despite training being somewhat interrupted and erratic when we pulled her out of school for a week immediately after my grandmother passed. Ceeya loves Miss Mary and talks enthusiastically about school and how she had a good day, every day.

On Friday, I worked from home and Sweet Dub had a video gig in the late afternoon, so he asked if I would pick up Ceeya. (Normally it would be difficult for me to pick her up since preschool is nearly 5 miles southwest of our house, and work is 10 miles northeast. That's 15 Los Angeles miles across town in rush hour, which translates into at least 45 minutes to get there and then another 15-20 minutes to slog back home. I am not a big fan of traffic. If Sweet Dub weren't available to do the pickup on the regular, this would really suck.) He usually picks her up by 4:00 PM so he can talk with her teacher before she leaves for the day.

As I was mired in my project, I did not make it to school before 4:00 PM. I arrived at 4:30, and as I walked from my car to the building I could see Ceeya's classmates out in the yard. When Miss Mary leaves at 4 PM, Ceeya's class gets combined with another class and the director of the school comes in to help out to ensure they have the correct ratio of adults to kids. The director and the other preschool teacher, Miss C, were out in the yard. I waved and looked for Ceeya but didn't see her—not strange because she might have been inside one of the climbing structures. I walked into the school and into Ceeya's classroom and I heard a child crying loudly.

More specifically, I heard Ceeya crying loudly.

I hurried into the adjoining classroom and Ceeya was sitting at a table with her back to me, sobbing. "Ceeya!" I called out. "What happened? Did you hurt yourself?"

She turned around and her eyes were puffy, and her nose was red, and I could tell she had been crying for a while. I looked around as I gathered her into my arms to soothe her. No adults in sight. What on earth? My brain couldn't process what might have happened, and Ceeya was crying too hard to talk. I went outside to the yard.

"Ceeya was in the classroom alone, crying," I said to Miss C, as she simultaneously asked, "Where was she?"

"What? She was inside?" she said. She looked Ceeya over with concern. "How did that happen?"

The director came hurrying over. "I was just asking, 'Where's Ceeya?'" she said. What a pile of baloney, I wanted to say. The only reason you wondered where Ceeya was is because you just saw me walk up.

"She must have followed me back inside without me knowing it, when I went back in to get balls for the children," Miss C said. "Oh, no, sweetheart, I'm so sorry."

Ceeya lay on my shoulder, quiet, but holding on tight. All I could think to myself was how lucky they were that it was me who found her, and not her dad. And then I thought how lucky we were that she didn't put something in her mouth and choke, or climb on something to get at a toy and fall, or hurt herself a million different ways. And how lucky we were that one of the outside utility workers who were there that day, working on lines outside the church, wasn't a predator looking for kids by themselves.

I spent ten more minutes there as they tried to figure it out and apologized and told me they didn't know how it could have happened. I still don't know how Ceeya got locked into the classroom by herself. All she will say is that she was by herself, and she was crying.

I still like the preschool. I'm angry that this happened, even though it was clearly not intentional. I have the feeling that Ceeya probably did closely follow the teacher back inside and then sat down with a toy somewhere she couldn't be seen, and the teacher left her there.

When Sweet Dub spoke with Miss Mary about it this morning, she had not yet heard about it, and she was livid. I feel certain this would not have happened if she were there, and I feel confident that she will always look out for Ceeya. At the same time, this can't go unaddressed. Sweet Dub was unable to find the director this afternoon when he went to pick Ceeya up. I am hoping that tomorrow morning he will be able to speak with her about our concerns.

I am also hoping that my next preschool post will be a lot more positive.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Alone, But Not Lonely

What a whirlwind the past couple of weeks have been. My grandmother has been gone for two weeks already and I feel like I still have not had time to process it. I have been spending a lot of time with my mother. She cared for my grandmother through her long illness and was definitely the person who was closest to her in many ways.

Because my grandmother depended so heavily on her, my mom hardly left the house except to get to doctor's appointments or to the market or pharmacy. Until two days after my grandmother's death, my mother—who lives 45 minutes away, in Ventura County—had never been to my house.

My sister and brother-in-law, who with my nephews share the house with my mom and grandma, had booked a cruise months ago for April 27th, just a week after my grandma passed. So the day after the viewing in San Diego County, as my grandmother's body was being flown back east for burial in the family plot, my sister and her family took their trip as planned. My mom was alone in the house (where my grandmother had just died) for the first time ever in more than five years.

I asked her if she would be all right, if she wanted me to come and stay with her, but I knew she would say no. My mother and I are very similar in our need for time alone. I honestly think this oddly-timed vacation was one of the best things that could have happened, to give her time and space alone to get used to a world without her mother in it. I have called her just about every day to check in, and while her sleeping schedule is out of whack, other than that she is doing fine.

Last Saturday, I took the kids up to spend the day with her. We drove to Ventura Harbor, had fish and chips and ice cream. We took lots of pictures, and laughed a lot, and enjoyed the sun and the water and people watching. My mom was happy. The kids were exhausted and happy. At the end of the day as we were driving home, Viva said, "That was the most fun I've ever had with Grandma." Bittersweet.

My mom and I have had our differences and our difficulties in the past, and she can still push my buttons like no one else can. But, at the same time, helping each other through this transition has brought us closer.

Of course, this weekend is Mother's Day. We will be celebrating together tomorrow, as my sister and her noisy bunch arrive back in Southern California sometime tomorrow and I'd like to give them their space to recoup on Sunday. Sweet Dub and Viva are on a road trip to Northern California to celebrate my 22-year-old nephew's graduation from college, returning Sunday morning, so it will be me and my ole roll dog Ceeya* holding down the fort until Mother's Day festivities can commence on Sunday.

To all: thanks for your words of support and comfort. It means more to me than I can say. Happy Mother's Day, whether you are a mom or have a mom, or are just one bad mutha-shut yo mouth. Be safe and be happy!

* I would love to be part of the road trip, but the very idea of six hours one way with a 2.5 year-old makes me want to poke a chopstick in my ear. Or my eye. Or up my nose. Whatever, it would be painful.

Monday, April 25, 2011

She is Gone

After 85 years, she is gone.

My grandmother passed away late Wednesday night. There are no words.

I am grateful for her. That is all I can think to say. She was a very strong personality, hugely determined, funny (sometimes unintentionally), and so loving. I never ever for a second ever in my life doubted that my grandmother loved me and was for me, 100%. I learned so many life lessons from her.

I am so sad. And my brain is really scrambled and I feel incapable of putting together anything coherent.

Viva headed back to school today after a week of Spring Break. I asked her how she felt her vacation was. She said on a scale of 1 to 10, it was about a 5, because it started out great, but Thursday was horrible. When we drove up to the house on Thursday, “there was a hole [in the room] where Nana should be sleeping,” is how she put it.

Yeah, that about sums it up.

I am trying to figure it all out. Bear with me.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Strange Days Indeed

Dear Anonymous Woman who Wanted Just a Small Salad This Afternoon,

I am sympathetic to you. I realize that it could just as easily be me who is hungry and does not have enough money for food. However, when you come up to me as I am standing in line at the salad place and ask me not once, not twice, but three times to give you money, and then, even as I politely for the third time tell you I cannot help you, roll your eyes at me? Girlfriend, you just lost me.

You do not know me, and I do not know you. You don’t know my coworker either. She is a single mother raising five kids. I have kids, too, both of whom just outgrew their shoes, and a husband who has been laid off for over a year. We are squeezing every penny. Times are hard.

You are not the first person to ask me for money today. I am sorry, Anonymous Woman. But you don’t get to decide what I do with my money, and being rude doesn’t help your cause.

I hope that things turn around for you soon.

Most sincerely,
Mama Blah Blah

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

To Make You Smile

Me and my two lovelies. The picture feels like a hug to me.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Love you, love you, love you

Sweet Dub is out tonight, taking photographs for a client. I am home with the kids, who seem to be doing everything possible to tap dance on my last nerve. I lose my temper more than once. I finally banish them to their room to play so I can have 10 minutes of peace and that is when I realize I am on the verge of tears and have been all day.

My grandmother, you see, is passing over into the other realm. I have just spent the weekend with her--a weekend where she was not once conscious--and it was very, very tough. She is in the phase which I am told is called "active dying," so she is very agitated, raking at the bedclothes and wearing an expression of acute pain or distress. She doesn't open her eyes.

My mom says that this morning she spoke. My mom was able to tell her she loved her, and my grandmother said she loved her too. I am glad they at least had this moment, as my grandmother has been rather disoriented in the last week and at one point was convinced my mom had tricked her. She became very fretful, saying she knew there must be a phone around here somewhere. My sister asked her who she wanted to call, and my grandma said she wanted to call my grandpa (who passed away 7 years ago). I'm not sure what she thought my mom had tricked her about, but it's funny that she was going to tell on her to my grandpa.

My mother was 19 when she had my sister, and 21 when she had me, and 22 when she took us and left my dad. My grandmother was 41 when she became a grandmother. When my mom left my dad, she moved in with my grandparents for a while. My mom was an only child, and my grandma had always wanted a houseful of kids. My mother likes to say that she had my grandma's other kids for her. All I know is that my grandma loved us to pieces and she was in constant motion, usually doing something for one of us. She would play leapfrog with us, and build snowmen with us, and when she wasn't doing that, she was cooking something obscenely delicious (and with the benefit of hindsight, ridiculously fattening).

In time we moved out to a series of apartments as my mom went back to college, but we were never more than 15 minutes away from my grandparents at any time. We were expected at their house every weekend, even after my mom remarried. My grandmother took early retirement in her 50s. If I got sick at school, it was Grandma who would come and get me and worry over me tenderly. My grandmother loved us all loudly and with great ferocity. She is not a tall woman (we are the same height, 5-feet and one-inch on a good day), but she has always been formidable. She expected a lot of us, but she expected a lot of herself--something I didn't recognize until I was well until adulthood.

My grandma, Muriel, grew up in a small town in a very segregated area of Virginia. She is a very fair-skinned black woman who could pass for white if that were the road she chose. In her small town, everyone knew her family and she was known to be "colored," so she had to sit in the back of the local bus and when in town, couldn't sit at the counter at the local diner or drink at particular water fountains. She met my grandpa while she was waiting tables at her cousin's restaurant during World War II. He was a very handsome light-skinned man on shore leave from the Navy. "I don't know what he saw in me," she has said on more than one occasion, but if you see pictures of her from this era, she is a beauty. She loved to laugh and loved to talk. His family were New Englanders and very reserved, so I can see how he would be captivated. I would imagine she was kind of sassy.

Because of her upbringing, I believe, my grandmother was very quick to take offense. This trait seemed to become a bit diluted over the years and I think she began to cultivate some patience and tolerance with people, but I was always amazed at how much she could read into a situation where I would not have come away with the same opinion. Her early experiences really colored (sorry, can't think of a better word) the lens through which she viewed the world for the rest of her life.

I never had any doubt that I was loved. My grandparents' house (which we always referred to as "Grandma's House") was a place of order and calm, of fun and laughter, and a veritable cocoon of love against the chaotic home we lived in. Every single time we would leave the back door to go home, whether bundled up against the snow or heading out into a muggy mosquito-laden, sun-baked driveway, my grandmother would squeeze each of us tight. "I love you, love you, love you," she'd crow, every syllable dripping with affection, and we would yell back in a cacophony of squeaky shrieks how much we loved her as we were hustled into the car.

Tonight I apologized to Viva for not being myself, for yelling, for not wanting to play. "I'm just very, very sad," I said. She put her arm around me. "I know, Mom," she said. "I know how you feel."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Three Beautiful Things, March 24

1. Orange gerbera daisies on my desk and a bright orange balloon tied to my chair by a co-worker. Leftover from a festive event yesterday, they keep the cheer going on a mainly overcast day.

2. The sky is blue, it’s gray, it’s white puffy clouds, it’s sunny, it’s rapidly darkening—reflective of my day, and almost following along with my moods.

3. Loving John Legend’s version of Nina Simone’s classic “I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel To Be Free,” though I suppose you could read a lot into me listening to it on pretty much a daily basis as I’m driving to work. :-)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

An Ill Wind

My sister left me a message this morning that my grandmother fell. My grandmother is 85 years old and has stomach and lung and maybe liver cancer. She lives at home, with my mom and sister and family, and has refused all treatment except palliative care; a hospice nurse comes to bathe her and help with other tasks my mom can't handle. In the past week my grandmother has become increasingly disoriented and can't recognize certain people. They are theorizing that the cancer has spread to her brain. Her coordination has also fallen off dramatically--hence the fall. The decision has been made to bring in a hospital bed and have her sleep in the family room. She is taking liquid morphine and codeine and that's about all I know because my mom won't answer the phone right now.

Also today: my aunt emailed me that my stepfather, a recovering alcoholic with a host of medical problems, also fell and broke his kneecap. He is in the hospital and will need physical therapy and then substance abuse treatment.

In the meantime, all hell has broken loose in the Middle East and there has been that stupefyingly horrendous trifecta of the earthquake, tsunami, and near nuclear meltdown in Japan.

I know I am prone to exaggeration in the best of times, but life has taken on an apocalyptic tone of late.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Three Beautiful Things: The Ceeya Edition

1. Ceeya slowly expanding the repertoire of things she will eat. In the past couple of weeks she has added French bread, plain spaghetti, broccolini, tater tots, and edamame beans to her list of accepted foods. Oh, and chicken! Which is huge, since really the only protein she was getting before was cheese, yogurt and occasionally peanut butter.

2. Rediscovering our creativity as a family. We have been singing together, dressing up and goofing around in a short film, and doing little crafty projects. We have been laughing a lot and recently Ceeya came up with her first joke:

Ceeya: Knock knock?
Mama: Who’s there?
Ceeya: Cowboy.
Mama: Cowboy who?
Ceeya: (singing) Na na na na na!

It makes no sense whatsoever, but we laugh hysterically every time she tells it because she cracks herself up. And that is some funny shit.

3. Hearing the true distress in Sweet Dub’s voice when he called me this morning during Miss Ceeya’s first official visit to her new preschool this morning. She starts there full-time in three-and-a-half weeks, so we are taking her to visit at least once a week to acclimate her. As previously arranged with the teacher, Sweet Dub left the classroom for 15 minutes and went to sit in his car—hence the distress call. “This is so HARD,” he said, anxiously. Evidently Ceeya wound up in a shrieking panic as she saw him walk out the door. I love him for being so distressed at her distress and calling me for reassurance.

(3.5. After the allotted 15 minutes, Sweet Dub returned. Ceeya was sitting on the rug for Circle Time, perfectly calm, and then burst into tears as soon as she saw him. He ended up sitting down with all the kids on the rug with Ceeya on his lap and singing along with their squeaky little voices for a couple of songs, which is an image that makes my heart explode. Then he and Ceeya packed up and left for daycare.)

(3.75. I will take pictures when I go with Celia to preschool, I promise. And I will actually put up a halfway coherent post about the whole preschool search, which was completely cuckoo bananas for a multitude of reasons.)

(P.S. Started this based on Three Beautiful Things, which I recently discovered. Hoping to make it a regular thing. Now you try it!)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I Am Not Trying to Break Her Heart

Viva has been asking for a dog since she was 3 years old. For a couple of years there, she would ask for a dog pretty much Every. Single. Day.  Finally, Sweet Dub declared that we would get her a puppy when she turned 8. At that point, he reasoned, she would be semi-responsible enough to handle some of the chores that come with having a dog, although he realized that We the Parents would have the bulk of the caretaking duties.  Viva was satisfied with this, and at every birthday since, she has mentioned that she is one year closer to getting a dog. You know, in case we forgot.


You see the foreshadowing, right? Okay, moving on.


When we moved into our current house, we brought it up with the landlords to make sure they would be okay with us getting a dog. They were dog owners themselves and said that was fine. All was well.


We are now less than two months away from Viva's 8th birthday. And we also now realize we must move in September, if not before, since our landlords have moved back to CA and want their house back.  I would hate to get a dog and then have to move into a place that's not pet-friendly out of desperation or financial necessity and then have to farm it out to relatives, or worse, take it to the pound. So here we are. For literally years, we've been planning to get a dog (or two) when Viva turns 8. I've imagined various scenarios via which we would surprise her, the joy on her face, etc., and dammit, just the plain fun of having a puppy.


It doesn't look like that's going to happen in the planned timeframe. It bums me out on Viva's behalf.


Also (and take with a grain of salt): the Experts say that you shouldn't introduce a cat or dog into the family if you have a baby or toddler. You should ideally wait until the kid is at least three to minimize the possibility of the animal biting an over-affectionate or not very gentle kid. So there's that then.


Keep in mind that my own parents promised me a dog for years. I actually got a puppy (the cutest thing EVER) when I was 11. My mom named her Jamocha, after her favorite coffee, but we called her Moki for short. I housetrained her, I walked her, I was actually pretty responsible with her. And then my parents decided she was getting too big for our (admittedly small) apartment and GAVE HER AWAY. I know the heartbreak and I can't do that to my baby.


(Even now as an adult, I understand why we couldn't keep the puppy but it still makes me furious that they would let me get a German Shepherd-Lab mix in the first place. You had to figure it was going to be a fairly large dog. But that's a psychological scab you don't want to pick at, so let's bury it deep once again and move on.)


I'm hoping we can put Viva off for a while (tell her she'll have to wait for now), get our housing situation settled, and then surprise her with a puppy at Christmas. Maybe.


(My puppy was so cute. She was black and tan and when she wagged her tail her whole body would shake back and forth.  The first night she came home I slept snuggled up with her on the kitchen floor. )


What about you? Have you ever promised something to a child and then had to back off? Did you pretty much feel like crap? Discuss.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Now I Kiss You on the Nose

Happy Love Day!

I am filled with love for you and the universe.

And yet I did not get you anything for Valentine’s Day. No roses, no chocolate, no extravagant jewelry.

Just love.

Here it is.

I didn’t wrap it, but I hope you like it anyway.

Love & kisses,
Mama Blah Blah

Friday, February 11, 2011

More Joy, Less Stuff

Earlier this week, I was working from home one day and my Internet service (which is very, shall we say, quirky, at best) suddenly decided it had had enough. Despite my best efforts, and a 40-minute phone conversation with my carrier (AT&T, whose customer service department truly must look like Outsourced), nothing would make it come back on. Well, what to do? I could get in my car and drive 25 minutes back to my office, waste time explaining why I was there, work for another hour and a half and then leave to go pick up Ceeya, or I could try and channel my rage constructively. I suppose there are a couple of other options—such as declaring the day a wash and either going shopping or lying on the couch watching DVDs and scarfing potato chips—but instead, I chose to tackle our home office.

I have to say, SOMEBODY in my house is completely disorganized when it comes to paperwork, and that SOMEBODY isn’t me.

Also: it seems we might need a shredder. There is a mountain (perhaps not a mountain, perhaps a small hillock) of paper in that room that we no longer need but cannot simply throw away recycle.

I’m not done, but I’m already feeling better about it.

Now as far as the Internet: still not working. I picture AT&T execs just sitting around on cushy lounges made of money, wearing T-shirts that say “Customer Service is for Suckas.” They probably smoke, too. And eat live kittens for fun.

In other earth-shattering news, the weekend has arrived. Enjoy it to the utmost!

I'm going to do something fun.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Digging Out

First off, apologies for the misleading post title. It’s not about digging out from the snow, and as a native of New England, my sympathies to all of you out there across the land who are neck-deep in drifts and anxiously surveying the overcast sky. Believe me, more sympathetic I could not be. I’ve been there. Unpleasant.

No, what’s on my mind is digging out from under all kinds of clutter—emotional, mental, and of course, the actual tangible stuff that threatens to swallow my house. I’m on a simplicity kick for the new year. I haven’t made a resolution about it, since that’s not my thing, but I have this overwhelming urge to fix everything. You could read a lot into this. Here, I’ll get you started: my husband has been laid off now for ten months. We are fortunate that (a) he got a severance package; (b) he is eligible for unemployment benefits; and (c) we had a pretty good cushion of savings built up before this happened. We have been making it work. Every avenue that he has looked into in hopes of getting paid employment has taken far longer than we hoped. It doesn’t mean none of these leads will pan out ever; but it is stressful knowing that (a) his eligibility period for unemployment will run out in a few months; and (b) we are going to have to move out of our rental home in September and we had been hoping to buy a house at the end of this lease. Since our savings are dwindling, I can’t see how that would happen. The owner of the house, who moved out of state for a job offer, got laid off and now wants her house back (but is honoring the lease, so at least we have until September). Moving requires a significant outlay of cash, so I am not liking that. Oh, and (c) Miss Ceeya has to move from daycare to preschool. Still looking for a preschool and dreading the thought of having to put down a deposit. Keeping her out of childcare is not an option, as ironically Sweet Dub is busier now than he was when he had a job—he is literally working day and night on various projects he’s trying to get off the ground.

So things are feeling a bit out of control, and that is not a feeling I like all that much. Hence, the urge to undertake some project where I can create the illusion of some kind of order. I have been reading a couple of books lately about simplifying one's life and they are calming me down and inspiring me. Maybe at some point I will even review one (or both!) of these books here. Yes, that could happen. Anyway, moving on…

Is it wrong that one of the main messages I take away from both books (neither of which I have yet finished) is that I must cut the number of toys in my house by half? Is it also wrong that I hold in my head a completely unattainable vision of an organized, clutter-free home office/exercise room/back entry that doesn’t contain IKEA bookshelves, various pieces of sporting equipment and random power cords belonging to who knows what?

Now if only I could stay awake after the kids are in bed to get some of these projects going while simultaneously sublimating my anxiety…stay tuned.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Tired of Being Tired?

Last week, I went to see my primary care physician because I’ve had a low-grade earache for a couple of months and it recently started becoming more painful. While I was there, we discovered through looking at my chart that I hadn’t been to the doctor in a couple of years. Indeed, not since 2008, when I went in ostensibly to deal with a lingering cold and ended up taking the pregnancy test that eventually culminated in the birth of Ceeya, who is now 27 months old. So you see, it had been a while.

My doctor recommended that I have a blood panel drawn since I hadn’t had a checkup for easily three years at this point. (I *have* gone to see my OB-GYN in that time span, so I am a little off the hook, but yeah, three years is pretty bad.) This morning she called to tell me that most of my bloodwork came out okay but that I have unusually low levels of B12 (the energy vitamin!), Calcium, and Vitamin D.

I have been falling asleep immediately after and sometimes during putting the kids to bed by 8:30. Sometimes I am sitting on the couch talking to Viva during the extra half-hour she gets to stay up past Ceeya’s bedtime, and I start falling asleep as she’s talking to me. I just figured I’m a working mom, I’m a little stressed, that’s normal. Hey, so guess what? Not so much.

If I can stay awake long enough to get myself to GNC, I’ll be back in the game, sports fans!

Moral of the story: take the time to listen to your body and take care of yourself! Too many of us are so used to taking care of other people that we don’t take the time to take care of ourselves. If I can’t be a role model to you, let me be a cautionary tale.

Friday, January 14, 2011


After a week of back and forth over whether we needed a referral for Ceeya and in what format, I finally cleared it all up and dropped by the Regional Center this morning. While I was expecting to just drop off Ceeya's original assessment, they asked me to sit and talk with an intake specialist. After a 20 minute interview during which she asked questions to which I did not know the answers (at what age did Ceeya sit up? Say her first word? Really? No idea. All I know is that she hit all major developmental milestones at the appropriate times, because our pediatrician would ask what new things she was doing every time we went in for a checkup, and she was right on track. I didn't write these things down in a baby book or commit them to memory and for that I felt the slightest tinge of guilt which I quickly got over. Ahem, anyway...) I say, after this interview, she set an appointment for occupational therapy with one of the actual doctors for 12 days from now.

So what I am saying is that the clouds have finally parted and it looks like we are actually going to get free (or at least low-cost, once they assess our insurance information) therapy to help Ceeya with her various issues.

If you felt the earth get about 800 pounds lighter this morning, that was the movement of the 800-pound gorilla finally getting off my back. How do you spell relief?

So here we are. In other world news, after trying since this summer (I simplemindedly declared August "the month of pasta," the more fool me) to get Ceeya to try macaroni or spaghetti or whatever, three days ago, she tentatively put farfalle pasta with butter and cheese into her mouth and declared it good. Since then she has been requesting pasta for lunch and dinner every day. So again, there is hope. Yeah, it only took her FIVE MONTHS to accept one new food (and I have not yet tried a different pasta shape, I'm just sticking with what works). Whoever tries to minimize the struggles we've been having with her can stick that in their pipe and smoke it.

So yeah, I'm feeling optimistic. And that's unusual enough that I have to point it out, somewhat tentatively because I'm worried I'll jinx myself. I'm halfway holding my breath.

One step at a time, chickadees.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

The Present

Happy New Year!

So far, this year 2011 has been very busy. We are almost a week into it, and it doesn’t suck exactly, but I was hoping for less running around like a rat in a maze for 2011 and more—I don’t know exactly, but more of things kind of going swimmingly well, with everything tinted in a kind of rosy backlit kind of way.

I am doing lots of things! Not really anything that is interesting, unfortunately.

I have been caught up in the swirl of the holidays and vacation and, back at work this week, we are preparing to move to a new office building 15 minutes away. There has been a lot of activity at home and at work and not much time for doing my own thing. My co-workers and I have been pranking each other and making snarky remarks about how we’re going to take over the new building once we move. My co-workers are a rowdy bunch. Every now and then we actually pack our crap into big black crates and slap labels on it. The move is allegedly happening tomorrow and over the weekend, and on Monday we are just supposed to show up at our spanking new offices and everything is going to work perfectly, forever and ever, Amen. I am skeptical.

At home, Viva is in her THIRD WEEK of vacation from school—curse you, Los Angeles Unified School District!—and Sweet Dub has almost certainly had enough of her. He has played Legos, and Bingo, and Monopoly, and scheduled playdates and sleepovers, and they have ridden bikes, and they have fought over the remote. When I arrived home last night he said defensively, “I haven’t been letting her watch TV all day,” even though I had made absolutely no such accusation. Viva was still in her pajamas at 5:45 PM. We were out of milk, and dishes were piled high in the sink. I took a deep breath and went back out into the night to the supermarket.

Our house is a wreck. But the kids seem happy to have had all this intensive one-on-one time with us, so much so that Ceeya won’t let me close the bathroom door between us.

Speaking of Ceeya: somewhat good news on the therapy front! I have contacted my local Regional Center and based on what I have told them it appears she is eligible for FREE services for her developmental delays. I must now get a referral from my pediatrician and/or the occupational therapist who conducted our initial assessment, HAND-DELIVER it to the Regional Center (tell me that will be easy) and then begin the nasty bureaucratic process—er, um, I mean, the exceedingly pleasant process during which I will run across happy government employees who will indulge my every request—of whatever I have to do to get her free therapy.

I have to say that Ceeya is doing much better on her social skills, somewhat better with her fine motor skills. Still needs work on depth perception and oral motor. Her food issues have seen no improvement. Somehow despite this she is growing like a dandelion. I include her hair in this characterization.

As for the title of this post: it is not a reference to a gift. It is a reference to what is happening now. Much as I resist New Year’s resolutions and their ilk, what I want to focus on this year is being present, as much as possible. Forget the dishes in the sink, forget all the stuff on the “to do” list, and give my attention to what is in front of me at any given moment. Easier said than done, but as 2011 motors along, I’m hoping I can retrain myself to do it.

P.S. I also want to cut down on using ALL CAPS in my posts. Rereading the post: what was the yelling for?