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.