Friday, March 30, 2007

Crystal Blue Panic Attack

I nearly forgot my password. That's how long it's been since I posted.

In a suburban Southern California tract home where paid work precludes the free kind, my blog has taken a major back seat.

My parents flew into LAX yesterday from New Hampshire, my home state. Soon they'll pick up the kids and take them for a dip in their beachside hotel pool. While my reunited family wiles away the afternoon in crystal blue liquid pleasure, I'll have my nose pressed to my dull laptop screen scratching out more work.

For once I'm not whining. A shocker, I know. I'm actually okay with not joining the pool party. It's no loss for me. Not for my kids and parents either. What they gain without my presence is more fun, more relaxation, more freedom. More, all around.

I'd be a buzz kill. Whenever I'm within toe-dipping distance of a body of water with the kids three, no matter how big or small, manmade or natural, I'm a paranoid freak. Make that an ANNOYING paranoid freak. For me, "Liquid" and "relaxation" are on completely different plains. How dry I am, literally and figuratively.

My kids will likely never learn to confidently swim in their own skin with Nervous Nellie Nagging Mommy on the rim of the pool, aiming narrowed, hyperprotective eyes in their wave-bobbing direction(s). Shooting palpable rays dripping with my gripping fear of drowning death unfairly and directly at them as they try their kid-best to master what amounts to one of the most important life and survivor skills humans can possess.

Right now both boys are exitedly rifling through their drawers in search of last year's swim attire. Next, I suppose, they'll turn the garage upside down foraging desperately for their "Subskates," strange Cheetos-colored skateboard-surfboard hybrids made from a mystery substance that feels like bubblegum blended with styrofoam.

Now they have towels. Whoa - Now their towels are doubling as rat tails. They're whipping each other. I'm ignoring their fraternal whip-fest, which is probably why it's coming to a quick halt. What good is it to annoy Mommy if she doesn't react (explode)? With rat tail time officially over, they've taken to the garden with bats in fist. Who knows how this could end? I prefer not to imagine.

Just as I won't imagine them sinking to the bottom of the pool, as I often did as a childhood doggy-paddling failure. I won't imagine them later this afternoon struggling against the water, out of my parents' careful and capable field of vision. Deep enough beneath the chlorinated water to not be heard. I won't imagine the worst as I almost always do. I won't cling to the worst case scenario.

I won't be there poolside. I won't hovercraft parent in the pool. I won't be there at all, and it's for the better.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Why no post?

Wow. It's been ages since I've gone this long without scratching out a post.

I don't have much time to blog at the moment. A friend is graciously taking care of my kids three so I can work on some PAYING writing gigs. It's nice to bring a little bacon home to the family.

I'm still working on the book and now a one-act play. Be careful what you ask for ... you just might get it when you don't know how to best blend it into stay-home-mom-dom.

After I meet my Mon. March 26 deadline, I'll be back with my usual rants and schtuff. It's amazing how much I miss posting. Releasing the day's madness is good for the soul.

So, with nearly an entire pot of coffee coursing through my twitching bod, I return to a gig writing neighborhood descriptions for my brother-in-law's real estate web site.

In the meantime, maybe some of you work-at-home mamas can leave me some comments containing the secrets to doing it all: kid care, house and laundry, school, sports games and practices, writing, working, blah, blah ... you know the rest because you are living it.

So, what's the secret to BALANCING work and mama-hood? Hopefully it involves a bag of mint Hershey's Kisses.

Until the next post ...


Monday, March 19, 2007

Clutter Endorsed At Last

The house is eerily quiet. Everyone but me is miraculously nestled quietly in their beds. I'm guzzling sugar with coffee and cream at a dangerous clip. My burnt toast is scratchy going down but buttery enough to be do-able.

Here I am, anchoring myself for dear-life in the midst of my cluttered computer desk, when I'm scanning the day's top stories on Yahoo when - what should magically load on-screen before my eyes - a professionally packaged news story that hails, not derails, clutter queens like me.

Can this be real or did I stir the wrong powdery white stuff in my cup of Joe this misty, smog bogged Southern California morning? Was I possibly viewing another spoof story from The Onion? Nope, we're talking REAL news, people.

Spookily croon on in my head Mister Phil Collins ... "I've been waiting for this moment for all my life ..."

What better time to suggest that all y'all neat freaks fall off your perfectly dusted, primped and shined anally-perfect, hyper-mod pedestals from West Elm and EAT MY WELL-ACCUMULATED DUST!

While you're at it, all the Type A perfect pants might as well eat what's left of the suspicious, mystery elephant animal cracker that just trickled mostly in soggy crumbs from beneath a stack of accordion-ed papers that should have been neatly filed away in my imaginary filing cabinet a year or two ago AT LEAST!

Check the story out if you can see your monitor at this point, that is past your leaning tower of mess.
Clutter and Mess Trump Clean and Neat

Who am I kidding? I abhor my cluttered up junk piles. I can hardly find anything when I need it, even my precious ones' muy importante vaccination records at times. Now that's bad.


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Yoga: Flowing a Tad Too Freely

I can't be the only one guilty of this common, often malodorous yoga class offense. You know who you are, and you've done the walk of shame leaving the yoga studio too! Sometimes yoga causes yogis to relax a touch too much. Hey - At least this time it wasn't me. Obviously a strenuous hour and a half of Ashtanga Vinyasa Flow yoga brings out the childish inner brat in me. When will I grow up enough NOT to crack up at accidental, drive-by public toot-age?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Safari Anyone? (NWT Frumpy Shirt Dress for Sale)

Pinch me: We went out last night without the clone babies.

Such a freakishly rare occasion calls for high heels and wiry, lace-up contraptions that push flesh up in areas where its sunken to new lows.

Our destination was, well, any place without the kids, but more precisely The Write Act Repertory Theater, where we would watch nearly close enough to practically smell the actors’ breath as our longtime friend Carlos made his directorial debut.

(If you are in L.A. in the next few days and enjoy theatre, go check it out and tell Carlos Kim sent you. That sounds like some snobby name-dropping shit, but hey … I want to support Carlos any way I can. He’s amazing.)

Thrilled to have an excuse to dress-up, I slipped into a rust and apricot hued shimmery Bohemian skirt with matching coppery earrings, necklace and a bold cuff bracelet. I spritzed Lancome perfume on my neck and one ankle. With scented lotion smoothed over my glaring Winter white legs and mascara carefully swept between my too-short eye lashes, I wistfully headed for the Hollywood hills with the Hubster.

I felt like an adult. I felt like a human. I felt like anything but a harried mom of three really young youngins’. And it felt awesome and surreal.

It didn't matter that my eyebrows were still swollen from the special-occasion wax job I had sprung for earlier in the day.

(BTW, Pigtails apparently thought the aesthetician was trying to rip my face off or kill me. A quick word of advice, never, ever let your 2-year-old witness a strange woman who speaks in strange tongues rip your eyebrows off with piping hot liquids, then individually pluck the leftover eyebrow hairs one tortuous yank at a time, that is unless you happen to have a few extra Starburst flopping about in your purse that you’re willing to chew in half like a bird mama and give to your fearful, fitfull kid as a peace offering and pain number.)

It didn't matter that my unnaturaly rippled forehead and Elephant Man-style swelling made me look like a lady Klingon in heat.

Why didn’t my inflated, shadow-casting eyebrows matter? Because we were dressed to the nines (whatever that means) and we had places to go and people to see, and, more importantly, none of those people required a diaper change (well, let’s hope they didn’t) or a chisel to free up their allergy induced petrified-to-the-nostrils-chartreuse booger snots (again, let’s hope no one where we were going needed a mom-grade booger jackhammer nose-picking).

I have a confession: (Nothing big. Just something you should know if you’ve suffered my boring date details and somehow braved this post up to this point. Thank you, if you did.) Getting all dolled up for our date didn't go as seamlessly as you might think. In fact, it was a disaster.

First, before donning the shimmery, fancy schmancy outfit I described earlier, I buttoned myself into a trendy olive shirt dress and squeezed myself into a pair of skinny jeans that I'm soooo not skinny enough for. I slapped on my brown leather Mary Jane high heels, greenish earrings and jingle-jangly bangles, and, voila, I was ready. It was date night. I felt svelte. The night was mine for the taking. (And my husband’s taking. Insert ban-chicka-weh-weh music here.)

Speaking of my husband, he rushed home in rush-hour freeway traffic to shower, fuss over which outfit to wear and to get downright metrosexual for our date, as he always does before we venture out without our brood in tow. Due to the anal way in which he primps and shapes his prickly beard just-so in the mirror, you'd think his name was Prince or that annoying symbol that Prince goes by now. Maybe you’d even think he wears those butt-less purple leather pants the Artist Formerly Known as Prince sports on tour. Okay, maybe not. Either way, I shouldn't complain because he's trimming for my benefit, right down to the nose hairs.

Anyway, when he caught a glimpse of me gathering up our daughter's jammies, diapers and wipes for the babysitter in my wanna-be, knock-off, modish shirt dress, he unzipped from his lips the kind of crooked, sketchy smile that says: "Shit. The wife's gonna' ask me 'So, how do I look?' and I'm going to have to lie and convincingly say, 'Damn. You're smokin' in that, um, hey, is that a dress or a shirt or a ... What the hell are you wearing and why are you wearing that thingamajig with jeans, for Christ's sake?!'"

Basically, he hated my shirt dress. For a while he was sweet, trying to fake it and stroke me with thinly veiled compliments. "Sure, that's a nice dress," and "That might be kind of nice around the house," and "You could wear it just for me sometimes, dontcha' think?"

Clearly he was tiring of hearing bullshit flow freely from his own nervously grinning lips. His ruse went down the tubes when he could no longer convince himself to ‘faux-preciate my failed attempt at dressing as an all-out MILF for our supposedly hot date.

"So you don't like it?" I snickered with a snide, bitchy, bitch-BI-ATCH tone that he knows better than to sidestep by shovelling more bullshit my way. "Admit it. You HATE this dress, right? I’m not doing it for you in this, right?"

"No, it's cute. Maybe if you took off the jeans and showed your legs. You’ve got the gams for it. C’mon, Kim. You know I hate it when women wear jeans under dresses, even if it is the 'in thing.'"

Fair enough. I vanished into our room, where I started to feel like Lucille Ball in my goofy shirt dress. I looked like a cleaning lady from Molly Maid. The only thing missing was a can of Pledge and a do-rag (head wrap).

Then I thought, "Who freakin' cares what he thinks? If I think I look decent in this, then it's cool. I can wear it even if he hates it."

But then I backpedalled. "I want him to think I'm smokin' hot. How often do we get dressed up for each other and go on a date? Maybe I should just change."

He looked disappointed but amused when I reappeared before him like a humbled wet cat, without the jeans under my dress but still wearing the damned shirt dress.

"You know, that's nice but maybe when your legs are tan it would look even nicer," he said. The hole he accidentally dug himself into was about to get a few miles deeper. (It’s amazing what upsets me about men. Stupid, really.)

"Or you could wear that dress when we go to the zoo. Yeah, THE ZOO!"

"Holy shit. I get it. You think I look like a zookeeper!"

We both burst into laughter. I DID look like a freakin' zookeeper.

"Hey, you could take me on a wild safari later. You’re lucky it’s green and not khaki. Then you’d really look like Crocodile Dundee. The kids will get a kick out of it."

"Yeah, 'My name is Kim and I'll be your jungle safari guide. First we're off to see the elephants. Feel free to take photos of their massive dung piles.'"

So, in the end I did give in and switched to a dressier outfit we both could live with. But I felt mixed about having done so. I knew my husband wanted to gawk, ogle and objectify me wrapped in a swanky outfit our entire date. I knew he prefers to see my curves. I knew he watched me swish to and from the theater’s open-bar in my shimmering skirt, clutching a clear plastic cup of white wine. He watched me sparkle in all the jewels I’d adorned myself with. I knew he liked what he saw, and I liked that he liked it too. Who am I kidding? Of course I want to make him want me. That's the age-old dance men and women do for each other, after all.

We should escape the kids and dress up for each other more often. At least I'll know what to wear if the Hubster should ever take me on an African safari. All I need now is one of those straw Col. Mustard jungle hats ... perhaps the sunscreen infused kind. Hell, if you see me donning one of those, do me a favor and poison-tip spear me between the eyes, okay?

When was the last time you vanished into the night with your partner and left the kids with the babysitter? What did you do? Where did you go? What did you wear?

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A Testament to My Addiction to Comments

I give you this extremely telling comment my husband left on my blog late last night when he practically resorted to smoke signals to track me down:

"To the Wife,

Since I know that you will probably read the comments on your blog before you check voicemail, cell phone or email account so I am posting my message here cause I know that you will read it.

Just wanted to wish you good luck tomorrow. I am sure that the call will go great.

The Hubster"

You know you're an industrial grade comment ho when your husband is positive he can reach you faster via your blog's comment pop-ups than on your home phone, cell phone, email, and possibly even telepathy.

Okay. Point taken. I have comment issues. Clearly they are very deep issues wrapped around validation. Who doesn't adore feedback on their self-created media? The power to delete the comments I don't like is, well, uh, intoxicating. Insert evil, maniacal villian laugh here. (For the record, I've never deleted anyone's comments thus far.)

More importantly, what does this suggest about the hierarchy of my life priorities if my husband can only get through by knocking on my comments door?

Just fodder for thought ...

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007


She woke up just in time to wake her son up for kindergarten. They made it to school by the skin of their (possibly unbrushed?) teeth. She stayed up until 3 a.m. the night before catching up with an old friend from back East. She felt hung over all day even though she’d barely swigged to the bottom of a single lukewarm Corona (a beer she vows never to drink plain again, without so much as a lime to kill the taste).

She remembered to include rectangles of fresh honeydew, cantaloupe and watermelon in her kindergartner's lunch. She did so after her son ratted on a teacher for chewing him a new one after his bad mother sent him to school with a miniature bag of Ruffles potato chips. “At this school, we don’t do chips,” my son’s food cop informed him as she confiscated his carb-heavy contraband. She smiled an I-told-you-so smile on the inside thinking of how fiercely she nagged her husband for buying junky lunch snacks.

All day she tirelessly mollified her grumpy, insomniac of late two-and-a-half-year-old, who demanded her “fav-rit’ bubba’ gum” every hour on the hour. She stuck to her hard-ass mama guns and never produced the (choking hazard) gum, advising sternly and patiently, “When we ask Mommy nicely, then we get. I can’t give you anything until I hear a 'please,' little lady. You may not yell at your mother.” She cracked midday and screamed, “Homie don’t play ‘dat, little sister! No gum! How many times do I have to say no before you get it?!! Nooooo friggin’ gum, k?!!”

Between stoplight red lipstick reapplication and nearly swallowed whole bites of toasted, butter drenched English muffins bookending a sliver of processed cheese and a runny fried egg, she zipped across the city like Mario Andretti in a minivan.

She zigged and zagged from the top of the city to the bottom of the city than back up again. Trekked from one son’s school to the next, than back to the first son’s school and again to the other son’s school. Somehow in between she managed to pit stop at Kohl’s to return a pair of too-short carpenter-style jeans she bought her husband for his birthday the day before (yeah, boring threads, just what every guy wants for his birthday, right?). She sidetracked from her gift replacement mission and bought her baby girl a lilac Bohemian Easter dress for a slick nine smackers plus tax.

She changed ten diapers -- two of them stomach-turning blowouts -- while breathing only through her mouth. She wiped three noses, all of them equally nasty but equally cute.

She scrubbed petrified spaghetti sauce from pots and pans, Swiffered and swept, folded whites, darks, even managed to hunt down the mystery matches to solo socks she’d long given up as sacrifices to the Abominable Sock Monster.

She followed up on an old, confusing sprained kiddie neck medical bill and was pleasantly surprised that the emergency room graciously “wrote off” a daunting remaining balance. How often does that happen?! Sheer serendipity. She chalked her good fortune up to all the hours she’s recently logged “paying it forward” between babysitting for fellow mamas and hosting annoyingly high-energy play dates.

She cruised like a zombie though a record three red lights, clinging to her extra but apparently permanent appendage – a cold, congealed cup of home-brewed hazelnut coffee – like a lifeline. She interpreted the pesky yellow lights as strict orders to “step on it” with her bare foot. She noticed the kids looked a little scared and thrilled at the same time when she accidentally skimmed a curb and burned rubber on a sharp turn.

She smiled and said through her teeth “I’m great. Just great, “ when a spunky office lady at her youngest son’s preschool kindly asked “How are you today, Mrs. S?” She was cool and calm until her bubble gum-addicted daughter launched a shock and awe fist-windmilling tantrum when the sweet office lady declined to let her take her personal calculator home. She felt like a complete numb-nut when her Terrible Two twister sister baby girl sucker punched her in her deflated-by-breastfeeding-but-gallantly-still-holding-up thanks-to-Wonderbra-under-wire boob.

She resigned herself to letting go and sprawled out on her belly on the grass at her son’s preschool. She watched her children’s wispy blond hair rise and fall in the warm Spring wind. She watched her sons plan and build an obstacle course out of oversized wooden blocks. She watched two of her son’s three-year-old classmates biff hard to the point of tears on her children’s shaky invention. She felt guilty but not that guilty.

She kissed her son’s crushed-in-the-door finger. She felt a twinge of gloom when he recoiled and said he was too big for boo boo kisses in front of his friends.

She fed, bathed and clothed three kids quick enough to have time left over for a dramatic reading of one more cliffhanging Mummies in the Morning chapter of the latest The Magic Tree House installment. She laughed when her kids said they were too scared of mummies under their bunk beds to go to sleep. She remembered being the biggest scaredy cat wuss on the block as a kid. She told the kids she still leaps lightning fast up onto her bed at night because she’s still a wimp. She wasn’t lying.

She wondered how to balance motherhood and work. She wondered if she should eat the toffee almond chip candy bar she slipped on the sly into her husband’s briefcase for his birthday. She knew better.

She worked her tail off but didn’t lose a pound and never broke a sweat. She did so much in such a short amount of time. Too much to go on cataloging like a grocery list.

She received a late-night text message from her husband saying he needs attention too. She wanted to tell him to “take a number” but smartened up right quick.

She is me, and she is finally going to bed.


Monday, March 12, 2007

Pow Wow and the Big Bang Drums

With his mind freshly piqued by dignified dances in honor of the Great Spirit at two-in-a-row pow wows this past weekend, my six-year-old asked me the biggest question that I have yet to find an answer for.

"Mom, so I was thinkin', who invented the first people and how were we invented?"

"Uh, whaddyou' say, honey?" I tried to clarify through the bathroom door, hoping it wasn't THAT question.

He stood on the other side of the door for a moment. "I said, you know, where did the first people on Earth come from?"

Let me think on that one a while. (I suppose I've had plenty of time. He started asking this same question when he was three.)

My trailing answer started like this, "Well, the Muslims believe in Allah ... and the Christians believe ... and the Buddhists believe ... and the Jews believe ... etc."

Hey, I did the best I could.


Friday, March 09, 2007

A Heads-Up on Pushy Parents and Sports

"Yeah, boy! You ma' dog now!" a brawny parent encouraged his son, as his boy aggressively tackled my 6-year-old son to the floor, then snatched the ball from him.

I would have been cool with the parent's validating props for his athletically talented kid if the sport our sons were playing were, say, FOOTBALL.

As far as I know, and I'm far from well versed on the rulebook, tackling isn't allowed in BASKETBALL.

I'm growing weary of this parent showing up to Jr. NBA practice week after week and loudly, obnoxiously encouraging his son to whip kiddie ass in order to filch the ball and make a mad dash for the hoop.

Maybe I'm jealous that his kid's got game, whereas mine possesses none. Nope, my kid prefers to bust a move and pop and lock all around the ball, complete with freaky gang-sign style hand movements. Where does he pick this stuff up? (Certainly not from his hip hop addicted mama...)

My son's more like a raucous mascot (which is strange considering he's long suffered from mascot-a-phobia), riling up the crowd and sprucing up team morale with his robotic "Vanilla Ice, Ice Baby To Go" antics, than a real b-baller. He's more like a translucent white b-boy without a beat box.

So, back to this hyper competitive b-ball daddy I was kvetching about ... My annoyance with his aggressive parent-coach hybrid approach/stance reached an apex last Monday when he single handedly stopped the practice by storming onto the court and brandishing a pair of no-lens mystery goggles from his pocket, aiming them in the direction of his kid. He carefully lifted his son's thicket of dreadlocks and secured the Bono alien-style eye wear in place. "Okay, you can go on now," he declared as if he ran the joint.

What's the first thing his son did after his father took his seat off court? He took those fugly goggles right off and carelessly tossed them to the floorboards like a discarded candy wrapper.

"Oh, no you did-int', boy!" his father boomed across the court. "Stop! Stop! Wait up until I get them goggles back on my dog."

Yes, I lie not. Mister Competitive Dad refers to his son as "dog," or perhaps "dawg." Whatever it is, it smacks of the only judge I like on American Idol, who calls the contestants he feels "my dawg" and other equally mindless variations.

The dread locked boy, who is uncannily talented for a five-year-old at dribbling between his legs and shooting thee-pointers, looked defeated. He sighed and succumbed to his pushy father, allowing him to yank the strange empty eye-hole goggles over his head once more. "Boy, you best not be takin' those off AGAIN," his father's angry voice echoed.

"'You mind telling me what those goggles your son has on are for? They don't have any lenses, so they can't be corrective, right?" I asked him after practice, when he makes his son shoot baskets over and over until he's satisfied. Poor kid. Really.

"You better bet they're corrective," Mister Competitive Dad clucked with pride, a grin stretching across his bloated cheeks. "They correct the problem of my son looking at the floor like he does. They keep him from looking down. That's why players like him so much. He has no choice but to see who's open for a pass because he can't see down at all."

"So he can't even see his feet if he wanted to?"

"That's right!"

"How'd you find 'em?"

"You know, I see where he has weakness in his game and I Google whatever problem I want to fix. I buy him DVDs on how to be a better shooter, dribbler, all that. I also coach basketball, so I know about these things. Now he has no excuse when I tell him to keep his head up."

I couldn't even believe what I was hearing. This kid is only 5 and already his dad is all over him to be better, to play better, to be perfect. He's even limiting his child's field of vision in order to shape him as a future Kobe, Shaq or Jordan.

I'm not perfect. We all know that. I'm all about admitting my mistakes. But my kids play for fun. Not to be my retirement fund. The day it gets too serious is the day we take a break from sports and try our skills at something else.

I'll leave you with the product description of the KBA Heads-Up Dribble Aid Glasses my son's teammate reluctantly dons for his hard-driving, hopeful for a b-ball mogul in the family daddy:

"Helps develop good fundamentals in basketball handling by forcing players to dribble without looking at the ball.
Will not interfere in shooting the basketball.
Heads Up creates greater ball control, increased court awareness, more sensitive hands, focus"

By the way, these things are a steal, costing no more than $6 before taxes and shipping.

Who knows? Maybe at next week's practice my sons will sport some too. Doubtful.


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Stream of Mom-ness

Warning: I'm winging it with the post. All I have to offer at the moment is a sloppy stream of consciousness. Hang in there if you will.

Seventy-three balmy degrees surround me as I type in a not so tidy corner of the playroom. I'm basking in the sunlight washing over me from a tiny handprint smudged sliding glass window. The stubborn, lingering bunk-stink of a recently changed diaper (not mine, you sickos) steals a stitch of joy from the moment, but not enough to ruin it. After three kids in four years, I'm not phased much by bodily functions and their various scents.

How is it that I've only been writing for one minute and I'm already hopping down the diaper trail like Peter Poopy-tail? I really need to grow up and get my mind out of the gutter. That's not an easy task, considering the fact that I'm constantly surrounded by elbow height people who look like me, only cuter and with better skin, who break out in fits of laughter at words like "underwear," "toot" and "poopies." How long will it be before they graduate to more sophisticated humor like South Park and The Simpsons? Hmmmm. Regressive and crude sells better in these United States anyhow.

See? I warned you that I would fail to reach a point? Still, there's something indulgent and rewarding about rambling?

Without wanting to delve back into the infuriating topic of yesterday's last post, I'll take you on a brief tour of how the kids are faring, if you'll have me.

First is the Maestro of Mouth, The Lawyer, whatever else I call my 6-year-old since I can't commit to a blog nickname for him: He woke up this morning bleary eyed and not wanting to go to school. His cough makes him sound like he's smoked a pack a day since he was in utero. Bad visual. I took him to school without his sibs in tow this morning for reasons I'd rather not detail right now. He enjoyed having a little special time with mama in papa's car. Beats the dented, crumb-filled donut (minivan) any day. I kissed him on his blonde-whisp covered forehead, hugged him and told him to have the school CALL ME if his cold symptoms worsened throughout the day. I'm on the verge of buying him a kiddie cell phone that only has the capability of calling me or his father. Doing so would break the bank right now but might be worth it.

Next we have Cheeks. My little Moody Cheeks has grown impressively, both physically and behaviorly, in the past few weeks. Suddenly a bunch of pairs of pants look like high-waters on him and his trademark chipmunk cheeks are paring down. I don't want to see them go. They are so very kissable and pinch-er-ific. He's really into playing with his sister, only 15 months his junior, for the virtually for the first time ever. With his idol, his big kindergarten-going brother, gone all day, he has no choice but to forge peace with his former enemy. Strong words but I kid you not. I'm really happy with Cheeks. He's my little bud. What more can I say?

Last but not least (in birth order and otherwise) is Pigtails, who refuses to wear sport pigtails any longer (and might deserve a new nickname as a result). She reminds me of a menopausal woman in a two-year-old's body. Either she's exceedingly happy, even euphoric at times, or she's wickedly pissed. One or two major blowout fits are becoming her daily norm and mama ain't having it. (I hate the word "ain't"! Shocked that I stooped to it here but this IS stream of consciousness.) Pigtails insists on wearing tripping hazard hot pink flip flops that are a million sizes to big. She sometimes even wears them to sleep. She is a serious shoe ho. Geez. I don't know where she gets that? Um, allow me to stop worshiping my eggplant colored beaded satin flip flops right now...

Again the time has come for the two school kid shuffle, when I zip across the city from one school to the next picking up my sons and watching my daughter shove whatever "glovebox gourmet" food I toss back to her into her hungry from a long nap mouth.

Into the rush zone I dive once again.


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Violated Trust, Violated Safety

How would you react if a teacher at your son's school:
1. put your son in the care of a mother you've only met a handful to times and can't remember the name of without being reminded?
2. had the mother who seems nice, who you most definitely don't know pretty much at all, drive him in her car WITH NO CAR SEAT home supposedly sick from a field trip in a major city on several major freeways an hour away from your home and his school?
3. did all of this without your explicit permission and without even attempting to contact you?

Would you send him back to said school the next day not having fully resolved such a huge violation of safety and trust? Poor kid. He's been through enough already, having just switched to this school.

I'm too viciously angry to write another word about this. I can write nothing else, not even a bit of the chapters I have due to my publisher tomorrow.

I'm going to slip into my son's bed and hug him while he sleeps. Happy he is safe and home, where I can be 100 percent sure of his whereabouts and wellness.

And no, I did not meet my first-three-chapters book deadline, in part because I was dealing with this bullshit half the day.

Ps. The teacher was worried for my son's health, which hasn't exactly been top notch lately. He claims he was acting out of his heart and I believe this, but his approach was still irresponsible and out of the bounds of my trust, patience and basic rights as a parent of a school-aged child.


A Post That Bounces Around Like Wild Wingbats

A drunk woman came to my door early this morning begging for money. "No, seriously," she stammered, swaying and obviously under the influence of something. "I live down the way and my husband's boss just called me. Three of his fingers were cut off and I just need some cash to get gas and bring him to the emergency room, you know? Can you help me out cuz I don't have nuttin'."

Are you kidding me? I shooed the kids away from the door, told her we were on our way to school and that I'm sorry, no help, no money. WTF? This is the second time I've heard that story in two years.

Last week someone hacked into my checking account and tried to pilfer upwards of $3,000 in wire transfers from me. 'Jokes on them.

I think my hacker robber gleaned my information when I stupidly entered beaucoup identifying facts into a "security investigation" email I received from what I truly believed was PayPal. I handed to them on a silver screen platter.

Yeah, hard lesson. DO NOT enter your precious banking information into even the most official looking PayPal emails if you didn't contact them first. Geez.

In somewhat related matters, I spoke with one of my college roommates, a very close friend, last night. She was forced to sell her Silicon Valley area home and begin renting again. Except their was a strange, fortunate twist to her story. A realtor is buying her house and renting it to her, so she and her husband and four-year-old son won't have to move after all. She said in a defeated moment, hunched over the toilet with rough bout with the flu, she threw her hands up and "gave it up to God."

This is terrible, I know. But in moments of defeat, I weakly give it up to Ben and Jerry. Preferably the deepest, darkest chocolate Ben and Jerry's flavor I can find at the 'hood 7-Eleven.

Now in completely unrelated, happier news, I took my two youngest to a park we'd never tried before and they bounced around like wild wingbats. We had a great time. We laughed, we cried. Well, we didn't cry. We just laughed, and, dang, it feels good to laugh with your children. Those gutteral laughs that bubble up to the surface for no good reason. Just because. Just because you are pretending you're pirates and they've just made you walk the plank (slide). Just because they shot their hot pink flip flops into the sky like fireworks as you pushed them higher, higher, higher on the swing. Just because a strange elderly lady (accidentally) made up like a clown shocking red lipstick and baby blue lined eyeliner is pushing her poodle like a baby in the swing next to your kid. You laugh, just because.

Because you are alive. The sun is shining. Your kids are healthy. You feel fine.

You laugh because you are over crying. Because your children think you are the richest, funniest, coolest person on the planet. You laugh because they are innocent and young and they make you feel young.

You laugh.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

When the Ish Goes Down

I have exactly 15 minutes to spill the contents of my heart all over this post. Then I’ll have to gather up the pieces, put my game-face back on, wake up my daughter from her nap and pick up her brothers from their schools. I apologize ahead of time if I end abruptly or without reaching an actual point here.

Begin rant:

Over the weekend a trusted, respected friend advised me to perhaps look over my blog and spot areas where I could be more balanced, less negative, perhaps less cynical about my life, my career, my children. Basically, my everything.

I agreed with him. “Yes. I’m very negative. Nary a positive post can be found. You’re right. Perhaps I should write some “up” content. Some feel-good commentary.” A positive slant 8cmdeluded makeover might do me and (all 10) of my regular readers some good. Happy, happy. Joy, joy, right? Lest I should alienate anyone who tires of my droning complaint posts.

But you know what? I don’t feel good. I don’t feel up. And I certainly don’t feel positive and perky. So, why can’t I be up-front about it?

Truly I wish I could post more positive reflections on motherhood. Maybe my current situation would feel better and perhaps actually improve if I simply adopted a better attitude. But, shit, the place I’m in right now just won’t allow me to take that leap, needed or not. Plainly put, my attitude sucks.

Just as when I launched this blog six or so months ago, I remain committed to being as brutally honest about my situation as possible, without hurting my children or my spouse. With so much in the media as of late centered around the “how much is too much information” personal and mommy blog debate, I’m beginning to feel that I should hold back more. But holding back is against everything wrapped up in the confessional nature of my blog (and my personality). I refuse to be muzzled because what I have to say sometimes makes others uncomfortable. Isn't some of the best, most compelling art confrontational, challenging to behold at times? (Not that this is bona fide art ...)

I want this blog to be about catharsis, for both myself and those of you in the trenches of mad-crazy motherhood too. Allow me to enlighten you with the definition of catharsis, one of my favorite words/concepts:
1. the purging of the emotions or relieving of emotional tensions, esp. through certain kinds of art, as tragedy or music.
2. Medicine/Medical. purgation.
3. Psychiatry. a. psychotherapy that encourages or permits the discharge of pent-up, socially unacceptable affects.
b. discharge of pent-up emotions so as to result in the alleviation of symptoms or the permanent relief of the condition.

If you’re still with me here, let’s get on with it and bust open a super-sized can of catharsis.

Meanwhile, if I had a soundtrack for this cathartic moment, right here right now, it would be Cypress Hill’s “When the Shit Goes Down” from their Black Sunday album, one of my favorites from back in the day. I find myself singing the lyrics a little too often when the kids are out of earshot: “When the shit goes down, you better be ready!” If there was ever a gangster anthem, this song is it. Yes, despite becoming a parent, I have an ongoing love-hate relationship with gangster rap. Blame too much childhood intake of YoMTV Raps! from the 80s and 90s and stations like 105.9 “Where Hip-Hop Lives” and 93.5, good old KDAY.

But I digress, as way too many people say these days ...

Now that you know what’s up musically for the setting of this post, here goes my hopefully cathartic rant, socially acceptable, feel-good or not:

I’m as broke as a joke. Spent the last money I had today at Target and I refuse to be embarrassed about it. Can you feel me? $28.80 on the essentials – bread, milk, eggs, cheese, canned fruit (can't afford the frest kind until pay-day), granola bars, apple and orange juice. Everything store brand or on sale. My kids think peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a food group. A mom’s got to do what a mom’s got to do.

Again - “When the shit goes down, you better be ready!”

Well, if my shit went down, “shit” being something as minute as busting a tire or having to bare the brunt of another ER co-pay (knock on wood that I won't have to suffer either in the near future or ever), I am so NOT ready.

I’m about one flat tire away from financial collapse. One oil change away from not making mortgage.

And no, my husband does not work at 7-Eleven or McCrud. In fact, we both have our degrees. Hell, he’s on the verge of having three college diplomas. He is gainfully white-collar world employed but we choose to live in Southern California.

Some would say you made your bed … No doubt you know the rest of that saying. I agree and we’re lying it. But that doesn’t mean I can’t vent all the while in order to feel better.

“Just what are you doing to better yourselves?” you may ask. I don’t blame you if you’re wondering. Just what ARE we doing? I’m writing a book that will hopefully bring at least some grocery money in the door. Soon my blog will have yet more ads that hardly any one will click on.

(BTW, are any of you ad-incorporating mom bloggers out there making bank off your ads? If so, email me and let me know what your secret is. BlogHer seems the way to go.) Also, I’m trying to take on a couple of mundane writing and editing projects that really don’t interest me but would be irresponsible to say no to at this point.

I wonder how long my hair will get because I can’t afford a haircut. I could be the brunt of a grip of "Yo' Mama" jokes with this one.

Shit, I can’t afford my kids’ haircuts, and they’re starting to look skuzzy and unkempt. So much so that it hurts my pride. My husband cuts his own hair, thank God. I’m not too far from allowing him to buzz the kids’ heads once more. And you know that’s desperate because I nearly castrated him the last time he tried that shit.

“Why would you want people to know how broke you are? Have you no shame?” No. No, I don’t have any. Why don’t we do away with societal shame all together by writing from the insides of our hearts, right from where we are coming from, where we are living. What’s wrong with admitting the “real” stuff from your “real” reality?

Where on the Internet are the voices of the stay-home, part-time working suburban poor mothers like me? The mothers who don’t qualify for assistance because their husbands earn two or three thousand dollars too much to? Why can’t I find them?

Why is it shameful to write about falling hard times? Is it because you expect to hear this from someone who lives in the projects? Someone who never finished high school? Not someone who has her bachelor’s and graduated Magna Cum Laude like me? Someone with a different skin color perhaps?

Chew on these facts for a minute if you’re still perplexed. According to a recent Newsweek article titled “Poor Among Plenty: For the first time, poverty shifts to the U.S. suburbs,” “… for the first time in history, more of America’s poor are living in the suburbs than the cities – 1.2 million more, according to a 2005 study… “The suburban poor defy stereotypes about how and why people slip into poverty.”

Wow. My fifteen minutes are up.

All I can think of to end this is yet more depressing commentary. Even when “money’s too tight to mention” as Simply Red sang it, you smile in front of the kids, keep their young spirits high the best you can. Even if it’s eating at you on the inside. Even when you have to put back the extra pack of gum they asked nicely and politely for at the check-out because it’s $1.25 more than you have in your pocket.

Though it will be hard to click “publish” this time, I want to. I need to. Maybe some of you suburban struggling moms will be able to relate and will somehow find comfort in my situation, knowing you aren’t alone. Keep your chin up, ladies. I'll be chinning up too.

And that, my friends, is how the shit is going down at my house.

(No time to spell check or edit. Sorry.)

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Sleepless City Night

"What's that noise, Mommy?" Cheeks asks half-asleep from his top bunk.

He's woken up and caught me peering between the dusty slats of his white faux wood blinds at 1 in the morning.

"Whatcha' lookin' for, mama? You didn't tell me what 'dat noise is."

"Oh, little man, it's just a big helicopter that's trying to land at the airport. A really special helicopter, so it's taking a long time. There's nothing to worry about. Just go back to sleep."

"Is that police guys outside?" he asks, raising his frizzy bed-head from his pillow again.

The flashing lights of four or five police cars refact off the walls of my sons' bedroom, on and off their bunk beds again and again.

"Nope. I think someone left their lights on their car. You know the flashing ones they use when they double-park."

Cue mega-amplified booming voice from the searchlight ghetto bird circling above our street, and what seems specifically to be our home, which is now completely illuminated with overhead light.

"Drop your weapons and surrender. We know where you are. Come out before our search dogs find you. They will bite. Surrender. You are surrounded."

Repeat scary message from the sky five or ten more times until all the children in the house are awake and you send your husband to double-check that all the windows and doors are securely locked and that no one is hiding out in the garage.

Try to explain that one to your scared kid in the middle of the night.


Saturday, March 03, 2007

I'm a Totally Tubular Tool


(and I apparently have no regard for punctuation and proper spacing, either)

You know you are old and totally uncool when your six-year-old son says, "That's tight!" from the back of your minivan and you wonder if you should pull over and help him unscrew the cap from his apple juice drink.

Confirmation that you are a washed up has-been cool-ite arrives when, upon further investigation, your mad-wiser-than-you-about-the-latest-vernacular bright-eyed boy hand-holds mom-dork you, explaining slowly and loudly, as if you are 90-years-old that, "Tight is what the kids say when they think something is cool, mom. It's like saying, 'Wow. That really impresses me."

Well, all-righty then. Consider me schooled, Mr. Alterna-kindergarten.

"C'mon, mom. I thought you would know that."

How I wish I did. Um, I kind of did. But really I didn't. I can only think of crusty, Love's Baby Soft scented times in the 80s when my permed just-so, United Colors of Benneton clad skater-preppie hybrid friends said things like, "Totally tubular, man" and "That's Awesome, dude."

Go ahead. Sign me up for the old folks home, only if they have complimentary iPods with a constant 80s shuffle built-in.

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Narcissism On Parade

"As younger people reveal their private lives on the Internet, the older generation looks on with alarm and misapprehension not seen since the early days of rock and roll. The future belongs to the uninhibited." -- New York Magazine feature titled Kids, the Internet, and the End of Privacy: The Greatest Generation Gap Since Rock and Roll.

This article resonated with me as an American female writer in her 30s (maybe even a "Yippie" or a "Grup," a new, bizarre but right-on nickname that has emerged as my generation continues to evolve both on- and off-line), a mother and an extremely revealing, confessional style blogger/vlogger.

(I stumbled across the article in the middle of the night on another female blogger's site. I feel terrible that I can't remember he name or URL, otherwise I'd link to her now.)

Also from the article for your contemplation: "What happens when a person who has archived her teens grows up? Will she regret her earlier decisions, or will she love the sturdy bridge she’s built to her younger self—not to mention the access to the past lives of friends, enemies, romantic partners? On a more pragmatic level, what does this do when you apply for a job or meet the person you’re going to marry? Will employers simply accept that everyone has a few videos of themselves trying to read the Bible while stoned? Will your kids watch those stoner Bible videos when they’re 16? Is there a point in the aging process when a person will want to pull back that curtain—or will the MySpace crowd maintain these flexible, cheerfully thick-skinned personae all the way into the nursing home?"

I'm deeply considering the ramifications (concentric circle effects?) of being so open and free with the intimate details of my life and, more importantly my children's lives, as I prepare to hunker down tonight, to barricade myself behind my open laptop at a darkened, cave-like downtown hookah bar and cafe, to put the finishing touches on the first three chapters of my first memoir. Now that I'm vlogging the kids and our misadventures on the town, there's so much more to consider than before.

How much should I reveal? Who could potentially get hurt or offended in the process?

Why should I hold back? No one else does any more.

That about covers what I'm thinking about today, other than waking up my two young-ins so we can speed downtown to pick up their big bro from kindergarten. Next we'll bump around the bluff by the shore, climb a snaggle of massive tree roots and head back home to kick off our weekend of "Where the heck is Mommy?"

I'll be off and away until I produce a decent beginning to my book. But how much will I reveal this time? How much would you reveal? (And did this lame excuse for a posting make any sense any way?)


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Sudden Health Attack at the Sick Visit (At Least He's 100%)

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Good Morning Racing Mother's Mind

Disappointment. That about sums up my morning so far.

'Good thing it's early.

Mouth, who I think I switched to calling The Lawyer, then to The Great Communicator (why can't I settle for a blog nickname for that boy?!), spiked a fever again last night, just when I thought he was better. He started showing symptoms of flu on Sunday, fell very ill on Monday and Tuesday, and seemed completely symptom free yesterday, except for the right-at-bedtime-surprise-I'm-baaack fever. What gives?

Now I'm really worried. You know how mothers are. We agonize everything.

Right now my agony goes a little something like this:
Shouldn't I have taken him to the doctor by now?
Why did I only call not go in?
What makes me think I can handle this on my own?
Shouldn't I take him in to have him weighed?
Why don't I ever use a thermometer when taking temperatures?
Why am I so old-fashioned, only using my cheek or the palm of my hand?
I wonder what his new school thinks of their latest arrival missing what is now four days in a row?
How is my little man under the weather feeling?
Why do I always let my husband convince me that practically no medical issue warrants medical attention?
Did he even try to convince me this time or am I buying into his beliefs on the issue? Isn't that just passing the buck? C'mon.
Isn't what he has viral and therefore not able to be cured by antibiotics, so wouldn't the doctor simply tell me to do what I'm already doing - Pedialyte, the BRAT diet and plenty of rest?
What if it is Rotavirus? My friend mentioned that, now I'm freaking out.
I hope he's not dehydrated? It's so much easier when they are still in diapers because you can count the number of "pee" diapers.
Do I need to start counting how many times he pees? Shouldn't I have done that yesterday?
Was I so caught up in writing and work yesterday that I didn't pay attention enough?

Wow, I'm friggin' neurotic. These are the nagging questions ricocheting around my cranium right now.

My gut says forgo school again in favor of the doctor. I'll drop my little Cheeks off at preschool with Pigtails and sickly The Lawyer/Mouth/The Great Communicator in tow, then head straight to the good doc, where we should have gone earlier.

See mom? You were right. Never go against your mother's intuition.

I'll keep you posted.

*BTW, I still want to follow up with Part 2 of my breastfeeding memoirs, as well as blog about leaving kids in the car while you're 5- to 10-feet away at the ATM. Is it true that we all do that or is it just me? What are the laws regarding this in your state? I always opt for the drive-thru ATM first, but sometimes I have to go for the outdoor cash machine. Something tells me that if I'm turning this topic over in my mind I must already know the answer to whether or not it's right or wrong.