Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sylvia's Eleven

Was it really eleven years ago today? I can't believe that.

Sylvia's heart can burst from all that it feels and all the love there is to give. I'll be honest, I get annoyed sometimes with just how much she feels everything, but at the same time, I try not to let it show too much because I think it's better to know what we feel than not.

I asked her a few days ago what she's like at school - is she totally different than at home? And she said yes, "but you'd like it, Mommy. I'm way quieter at school!" So I guess she's got a lot of pent-up stuff by the time we get home.

But when she's happy...her energy can light up the sky. She's so creative, and shows definite artistic skills. She was drawing better than me at the age of 4. She can sing, dance, and her acting has stolen many a play! She's funny, smart, has a strong sense of fairness and equality.

She loves with all her heart. She strives to be the best at everything she tries. She makes friends easily, and can adapt to situations. She doesn't know how to be disingenuous.

I don't know what she'll be when she grows up. She shows an interest in so many things, and I encourage that as much as possible. I think it'll be important to her to truly love whatever she ends up doing.

Two years ago, homework time was a battle zone between the two of us. Now, she gets it out without my having to remind her. I'm pleasantly surprised by this streak of independence.

I used to worry about her a great deal. I used to worry that she'd follow my steps into an unhealthy relationship, but I'm learning more and more that she's not me. She's already surpassed me in how she handles her dad. She loves him, but doesn't depend on him. I worried that she might follow her dad down the path of drug addiction, but now I know that she knows too much about it and loves herself too much to go down that road.

She's truly special. Slowly but surely, she's growing up. But not too fast. One birthday, one year at a time.

(Happy Halloween!)

What IS best for the child?

Have you heard about Nebraska's safe haven law? Parents have been leaving children as old as 17 in designated safe havens because they no longer felt capable of raising them.

The law was intended to protect infants, but they're now having to call a special session because the law as written did not specify an age.

We mommy bloggers can joke, or even write seriously sometimes, about how much our children can drive us crazy, but this whole thing begs the question: where is our support?

I've talked about this in terms of educating our children, but it also needs to be dealt with in broader terms.

I know someone who felt much like the mother in the article above did. The mother in the article states, “I ran out of fight. I ran out of hope.” I know someone who knows exactly how she feels.

The mother I knew looked for resources. She thought about one of those boot camps, but that's when the stories started coming out about children dying there, so that was a no go (not to mention, she couldn't afford it). When her son was arrested, she hoped that the juvenile court system would have resources available that could help. Instead, he just met more hardened criminals, and even seemed to prefer life behind bars where nothing was expected of him. She took away his freedoms - took away every luxury item he owned. She took him to counselors - there was nothing they could do for him.

All parents could use a little help now and then. Why do you think a show like Supernanny is so successful? Because we see that so many parents feel as lost as we can sometimes. Most of us are horrified by the parents' and the children's behavior, but on some level, we can relate to feeling like we just can't do this anymore.

Now, of course, I would never abandon my children. Of course, I would never attempt to drive to Nebraska before they change the law. But I also have to honestly admit that there are times that I think, "wow. I have no clue what I'm doing, and I can't do this anymore." There are times when I have looked for courses in parenting - and found that they're usually only available by court mandate.

Sure, there are 1,000 books I could read, but none of them speak directly to my children and me, specifically, as a mom.

I do go back to therapy once in a while, mainly for the sole purpose of having an expert help me. But I know that's not available for everyone.

It's so easy to place the blame on parents - and usually deserved - when children go wrong. But should the child really suffer for the parent's ignorance? Shouldn't there be somebody there to say, hey, here's another way to handle this.

It usually only happens in the cases of severe abuse. But what about simply screwing up?

No, I don't think we should mandate it. No, I don't want our government raising our children.

But I would like to see more support out there available for parents. And I think that what's happening in Nebraska is an indication that more of us feel desperate more often than what we'd like our neighbors, family, friends, and yes even readers, to think.

People like to make fun of Desperate Housewives, and I wish it would go back to what was originally great about it. My favorite moment - ever - from that show was when Felicity Huffman's character was down in that field, crying, and telling her friends she had no idea what she was doing as a mom. Her friends all comforted her, and relayed their biggest fears and moments of inadequacy. She looked at them (I'll never forget this), and said (and I'm paraphrasing of course), "why didn't you tell me these things? We should tell each other this stuff!"

We should, but we don't. It takes us a long, long time to feel comfortable enough that our friends won't judge us as terrible parents. Luckily, I have Kori now - and others - that I can be that honest.

And, btw, if any of you want to email me your deepest fears, I'm here without judgment. In fact, I defy you to confess an emotion that I haven't felt as a parent!

But I know this isn't the norm.

I do think that mommy blogging is opening that door for us, though. I think that the longer we blog, and the more supportive comments we receive, the braver we get to confessing our downfalls, our missteps, and then we can all breath a deep sigh of relief..."yes! She's felt that, too!" Such power in knowing we're not alone.

Not all (or sometimes any) of us will have all the answers, but the greater we build this community, and the more open and honest (withOUT JUDGMENT) we are to sharing, just think of all the great things we can learn, and how much stronger our families, and our children can be!

But alas, looks like we'll not be able to threaten that trip to Nebraska much longer!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Politically Corrupting My Children...One Election at a Time

I'll be missing the PTA meeting for Riley's school this month. I was outvoted on moving it from Nov. 4 (which I find pretty ironic), and while we last met on a Presidential Debate night, at least those can be DVR'd. Election results, however, can not.

Before that last PTA meeting, my kids ate fast food silently in the car while I blasted NPR and the first half hour of the debate. My children are subjected to GMA every morning while we dress and I shush them to hear the latest poll numbers. Certain proposition commercials have been banned from the household.

Sylvia, who will be 11 on Friday, was given a mighty lecture from me the other night when she made the mistake of asking if she "has to vote" when she turns 18. You would've thought she'd asked if taking drugs was okay from the vehemence in my voice!

This weekend, I'll be devoting at least an hour to calling moms in a Get Out the Vote campaign while I stick my kids in front of a DVD to keep them occupied. And frankly, I'm a little annoyed that their birthdays are just days before the election. I've missed out on some great campaign parties with the bday celebrations!

My kids are my top priority 24/7. Except for the weeks before an election. One day, I hope that they similarly corrupt their kids in the name of patriotism.

Originally posted on LA Moms, October 28, 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Update and Rant

I've had no time or energy to organize pics for a weekend wrap-up, so suffice it to say, we had a wonderful - albeit busy - weekend! We spent Saturday (Riley's bday) at Disneyland with family, and had a great time. The only disappointment was we didn't make it on Space Mountain this time, but we're going back next month (to meet Natalie - yay!).

Sunday, my sis and I went on a luncheon cruise (a 3-hour tour) that I won in a raffle and had a marvelous time. It was a nice preview to what my booze cruise weekend will be in January, and I'm very very much looking forward to it.

Kori got me sick last week! Yes, from Idaho, somehow I managed to catch it here in Burbank. Go figure. So I haven't been keeping up in my blog reading, sorry! I'm trying, but I may have to give up and just mark all as read.

This weekend will also be busy. Sylvia's bday is on Friday/Halloween. On Saturday, we're going to see HSM3 and roller-coasting to celebrate. There will finally be some peace and quiet on Sunday. Oh, and I'm also making Get Out The Vote calls with MomsRising. They're only asking for an hour's commitment - can you spare it?

I'm thrilled that I'm now going to be a contributor for LA Moms Blogs. I'll let you know when my postings are up over there, and hope you'll come by! And a special thank you to Florinda for inviting me to submit.

I do have a bit of a rant, though. I was over at Pisceshanna's blog, and got myself all worked up again when someone - who of course, didn't leave a real link - oh so innocently asked how such a smart girl could get involved with a deadbeat?

I cannot begin to tell you how much this drives me crazy. Actually, I can, because I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again. The single parent who takes on the responsibility of actually RAISING the child does NOT need that kind of judgment!

As it is, we live with those poor decisions every. day. every minute. every second. of our lives. We are the ones who are trying to figure out how to pay rent, work out our child care situation, work, and still want to give our children the very best we can and agonize DAILY over our attempts to do so.

And, yes, we do our share of beating ourselves up over finding ourselves in this position to begin with. But we also know, we can't regret it all too much because we love our kids. And to wish away all the bad things would imply that we wished away our kids, too, which we NEVER do. Sure, we joke about it - as much as any parent. But we are here doing the job every day of raising them. We cannot regret that.

And here's the other thing: the problem lies with the DEADBEATS, not us. Male or female, if someone has chosen drugs, greed, or basically anything besides putting their children first, THEY are to blame.

We - every single mom blogger I know - went into these relationships and had these children believing the very best of people. It may have been misguided, it may have been naive, but there was nothing evil or malice about what we tried to do. We tried to have the American dream. Our failure is hard enough to swallow without judgment from those who clearly don't get it.

And we don't need it. Plain and simple. If there is nothing of value to say, no words of support or encouragement to offer, no love to give, why does someone bother saying something like that? There's nothing innocent about the question when it basically asks why we were so stupid. It's bound to get us defensive, and it's bound to hurt. And it's not fair.

I have a friend who is putting herself in a similar situation. And I'm really struggling with it. I've tried to alert her to the warning signs, but I know she's just believing everything because she so badly wants to. Part of me wants to bang her upside the head, too, but there's that other part of me who has been there and gets it that understands it exactly.

I'm in no position to judge her. Now all I can do is step back and wait. I have to hope, for her sake, that all my fears are wrong, but if they're not, then I'm prepared to just be there for her if/when it all falls apart. And never will I utter the phrase, "I told you so" or "How could you be so smart and still fall for him?" As much as I wish I could stop it, I cannot cut her off. I need to be there for her. I will not condition my friendship with her like that.

And I know I've said this before, too, but I am so very grateful for all of the single moms I've found here. I don't know how I did it before I found you. Thank you - and all my readers - for your constant support.

As soon as I get thru this next bday, I'll try to be a better reader/friend to all of you!

Monday, October 27, 2008

My Baby is 8

Up to the night before Riley was born, I remember worrying that there wasn't any way that I could possibly love another human being as much as I loved Sylvia. Of course, from the moment I saw Riley - 8 years ago Saturday - I realized that love is boundless. If it could be measured, I'm sure that I love her more today than I did that first day of her life.

Riley has always seemed to me to be a very old soul. She's incredibly observant (particularly when she thinks you're not paying attention), empathetic, bright, and can light up anyone's day. At the same time, she has no problem speaking her mind, and sometimes scares me with her seemingly fearlessness.

She was a very easy baby. As a toddler, she didn't have tantrums. She came to school, eager to learn.

She does, however, have a streak of stubbornness and independence that she hasn't quite matured into yet. The good news is I don't think she'll ever be a victim of anyone besides herself. Her life will be entirely what she makes of it.

Most of the time, I feel like she's a better person than me. She has learned early how to love someone, yet not see them through rose-colored glasses. She instinctively puts herself in someone else's shoes before judging. She may come across as shy upon a first meeting, but really, she's just holding back, allowing the other person to shine. But when it's her turn to take center stage, she knows how to milk it for all its worth!

She is charming, yet sincere. She knows she's gorgeous, but keeps it in perspective. She's eager to explore anything and everything that life has to offer, and can cope with disappointment.

She's not perfect, but close enough for me!

I'm honored to be Riley's mother, and look forward to what she will teach me in her 8th year.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Blog Blast for Education - October 2008

This BlogBlast post will be a rant on two of the most dreaded words (to me) in the English language: "parental involvement."

We hear about parental involvement everywhere these days, but my frustration with the words have to do with how they seem to mean something different to everyone who utters them.

Parental involvement, to me, should mean that the parents care about their child getting a quality education. Parental involvement should mean that the parent provides a proper environment at home for reinforcing learning in the school. Parental involvement should mean taking an active interest in what's happening at their child's school, and when possible, participating.

Unfortunately, it seems some teachers, principals, and others think it means a variety of other things.

Parental involvement can mean that you buddy up to the staff while your children are still in diapers, and donate as much time and money as possible to help such staff overlook things like neighborhood boundaries. Parental involvement can mean that parents do the art projects for their kindergarten student. Parental involvement can mean not questioning any activity, fundraiser, or methodology and simply nodding your head in agreement. Parental involvement can mean seeing how many neighbors, friends, family members, and co-workers you can get to buy wrapping paper and cookie dough so that your child can get the prize they want for selling an obscene amount of unnecessary cookie dough (that ends up in the workplace freezer to waste space for a seemingly endless amount of months).

I recently wrote a very long email to the National PTA about their own involvement - or lack thereof - in creating a stronger sense of community between teachers and parents.

There's so much blame these days - it's the parents' fault, it's the kids, it's the administration, NCLB, the teachers - and I'm sure this post could come across as a rant against school personnel.

It's really not meant to be. It's a rant about how we are doing a disservice if we don't learn how to work together on this thing.

Everyone's made mistakes, everyone's to blame, everyone needs to come together now.

The National PTA blew me off, and this does not make me happy.

The PTA is supposed to be an organization whose main purpose is to bring all interested parties together to do what we all can do to provide a quality education for our children.

The PTA is still stuck in the '50's. It believes that there should be a parent available at 8:30 in the morning for PTA meetings. It believes that the best way to fundraise is to make private organizations richer off of our children, while we should be happy with a cut of the profits.

It does not recognize that over 70% of parents work. Not only that, but our income is less than that of our counterparts from twenty years ago. We simply do not have the funds to donate every month in the specific ways that they prefer. We do not have all day to bake for a bake sale, or endless hours to make copies for the teachers. We do not have all night to teach our children how to do their homework. We do not always know how to handle our children when they refuse to do their homework, or don't show up to class. We need help. We need support. Instead, we're simply asked to give more time and more money.

I realize that everyone is overworked these days, but I don't think that schools, for the most part, appreciate that the same applies to the parents, too.

Having said all that, we do want to do our part. We just can't always do it in the ways that our PTA wants.

We can ask our teachers for what their direct needs are for the classroom. I have no qualms about picking up another box of kleenex or crayons while I'm at the grocery store. I can afford that, and it's something that will have a direct, positive impact on my child's classroom.

We can support fundraisers where the funds go directly to the school. is an excellent website for that purpose. However, there are also home-grown fundraisers that can be done without making national organizations (like Scholastic) richer. We can hold jog-a-thons and read-a-thons, where our children benefit from the exercise and reading and the school gets all the proceeds.

My older daughter's school held a carnival where the kids ran the entire event with the help of staff. They had carnival games and food. The kids worked in shifts, and the whole family had fun. The only thing I would recommend for this next year would be to raise the prices. They could've charged more than the twenty-five cents per ticket.

My youngest daughter's school also approaches local businesses to support their local school. At the "rock concert" they hosted for their Arts programs, a local restaurant donated 50% of the profits to the school. A number of the local businesses provided prizes for the raffle. All of the teachers came and participated to make it a true school community event.

Education should be a community activity. From local professionals sharing their expertise on Career Days to parents and teachers working together to figure out how they can all work together to provide all the best opportunities for the children to succeed, and ensuring that every child believes they can do it. We - as a community, as a country - cannot afford to lose another child.

Got a BlogBlast for Education post? I can't wait to read it!!

Monday, October 20, 2008


Not unlike most bloggers these days, things have been busy, but it's all good. We've had a few school events, including Sylvia's music concert and multi-cultural night at Riley's school. We had a family get-together that included bday wishes for my sister, my nephew, my daughters, and my mother. Work has been really busy, but I've gotten lots of thanks for it so that's nice!

Plus, I'm supposed to be writing an article for another website, reviewing a book, and prepping my own post for the BlogBlast for Education. Oh, yeah, and raising those two kids!

Riley and her teach at Multi-Cultural Night:

Of course, Sylvia could not be left out of the action that night:

Worldly Riley:

This is Riley's last week as a seven-year-old. She says she's looking forward to being an even number again.

So I'll keep this short and sweet. I hope you're all having a good week - and scheduling your posts for the Blog Blast!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mid-Week Wrap-Up

Okay, I need to lighten it up around here!

Last week was actually really good - I just couldn't find my camera cord to download the pics.

Last Tuesday was the PTA meeting at Riley's school, and you'll never believe it, but...I didn't hate it!!

I was appalled at one point when we were going over the figures of what we'd earned at our Book Fair, and I learned that Scholastics gives you a choice of either holding your profits as credit, or giving the school 50% of their cut of the profit in cash. We ended up making over three grand, and because we didn't want to see that cut to $1500, the decision was made to take it in Scholastics credit. Even after the librarian bought everything she could store, we still have over a grand of credit at Scholastics.

I find it appalling that they would hold the schools hostage like that. Luckily, the president of the PTA did, too. She has the same sorts of problems with the PTA organization that I do. They're not dynamic enough, not responsive enough to our current times and dilemmas. More to come on this, most likely in the BlogBlast for Education. It's just days away now. I hope you're planning to participate!

Okay, so the PTA meeting was good - even better, they had child care available so the girls had fun, too. And Riley is happy I'm finally participating at her school. A really good thing I didn't hate it. But I did lose the vote on when to have their next meeting. They're holding it on Election Day, can you believe it? It's not like you can TiVo election results!! So I'll be missing that one.

On Friday, we went to their arts fundraiser concert, which was a lot of fun. The kids played rock bands outside on the field, and the families all watched from blankets, having picnics. (Note to self: must borrow picnic blanket from the folks next year.) Again, Riley was so glad we went, and Sylvia had fun, too.

On Saturday, we went for a mini, early bday celebration for Riley, miniature golfing with my parents.
I mean, really, how cute is she?

Sylvia took it pretty seriously:

First, we had lunch where we were partially served by the waitress' two sons. One of them was a freshman in high school, and one was in middle school, and they were both so sweet, and very good at their jobs! We talked to the waitress about them, and she talked about how they don't get educated in being around adults at school. Excellent point! Another reason I'm glad my girls get the opportunity to go with me to work sometimes, and they do know how to behave around adults.

That skill especially came in handy when we went Saturday night to the No on 8 campaign party. They ended up being the only kids there, but that was all right. Our hosts LOVE kids. They spent some time with us, and then they were set up watching movies. They had such a great time, they didn't want to leave. Mommy was tired!

On Sunday, we got the Halloween costumes. No pics yet of those...I am happy to report that they will not be trick-or-treating this year. This is something that I've never really liked about Halloween, so I'm glad we seem to be past it. Sylvia didn't want to, and Riley said if Sylvia's not going, then neither is she. Hooray!! But we will be busy. Not only is Halloween Sylvia's birthday (and, according to her, everyone celebrates her bday ;), but Sylvia will be cheering at a high school game, plus they have their first school dance. I think I've found a community party to take Riley to while Sylvia's at her dance.

I may go quiet for a while. This weekend, we're going down to my sister's so I'm not sure how much time I'll have to catch up on my reading. But I'll do my best!

And I really need to stop with the long posts, don't I?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day 08 - Poverty

I'm no economic expert, nor am I as actively involved as I used to be, and would like to be. The theme that emanates from my own personal experience with or about poverty have is that of choices, or more aptly, the lack thereof.

When I first graduated high school, the television pilot I'd done in the spring had been picked up for a season, so college was left for "later someday." And while that series did not last, I was paid more money than a 17-yr-old should be and it lasted me well beyond the cancellation of that tv series. I also did part-time jobs here and there to get me by, and got enough gigs that I could easily call my life my own.

It wasn't until I got involved with X that things began to change. Even then, it took another few years for it to really sink in. It wasn't really until I was a mother that it all got complicated.

Yes, I made the choice to have a child even though I didn't have a stable income at the time. My money worries stemmed from making the "choice" to stay with my ex at the time.

But that choice was complicated. It was mired in all this other stuff - namely, fear of single motherhood, more than anything else - that I believed it was the best case scenario.

And then we made the choice to have another child. And I went from drinking brand name sodas to store-brand labels (among other changes, of course). I would mentally add the dollar amounts of every grocery item that I put in my cart before allowing myself to be thoroughly humiliated at check-out for not having enough cash. Even then, it didn't always work out.

I think our time in Pittsburgh was probably the worst of it. I was a stay-at-home mom with no car, no money, and I literally stayed home. All the time. A free internet connection from NetZero (or something like that) was my only contact to the outside world. That, and long-distance calls. I know I sound dramatic, but it's really how it was.

I tried going back to school then. I remember counting the change to make sure I had enough to take the bus there and back. I remember seeing someone with a Starbucks coffee, and longing for it. I wasn't really into Starbucks then, but just the thought of being able to walk in one and hand over two dollars...I nearly cried for not having that.

I remember going off one day in our English class on Walt Whitman and how he glorified motherhood. How Whitman didn't seem to appreciate the hard work that came with that beautiful moment of a mother holding her infant. How could he understand the crying, and the croup, and the desperate need of a vaporizer, and spending nights in a steaming shower to try and ease the sound? How could he understand not having enough money for a decent winter coat, so I'd keep two girls inside all day while we all were going silently mad? I ended up having to drop out of school because we couldn't afford the child care.

I wrote a paper on the concept of "zero." It's probably the most depressing thing I've ever written. It was about all the things I didn't or never would have. The one that still hurts a little is that I had zero baby showers.

It was during that time that I was listening to Sidney Poitier talk about poverty (in reference to A Raisin in the Sun), and talk about how it's always right there. That when you're poor, it never leaves your mind. There are always painful reminders of what you don't have, what you can't do. And that's exactly how I felt when I didn't have two dollars to buy a cup of coffee. I didn't have two dollars for anything.

I found us a way out of Pittsburgh, and then the marriage broke up, and I ended up living with my parents, with an overdrawn checking account, no car, and applying for food stamps.

And it was while I was clawing my way back to a semblance of a life that I really started to understand how few choices were available to those without the means, without support systems.

Even with my lack of degree, I was able to get myself a job. However, I realized pretty quickly that the salary of a secretary was simply not enough to support two children. Maybe outside of L.A., but outside of L.A., I didn't have the support (both emotionally and, to a degree, financially) of my parents. I knew my acting days were over, and that the only chance I had to give us a better life was for me to get my college degree. It wasn't even a choice anymore.

If it weren't for my parents, I never would've been able to finish my degree. If it weren't for student loans, I never would've been able to afford to finish my degree. If it weren't for my job, I never would've been able to afford the gas to get to school. If it weren't for my degree, I know I never would've been promoted to a point where keeping a roof over our heads isn't nearly as hard and insecure as it was 6 months ago. It's all connected.

Yes, I made mistakes in life, but there has to be a point where those mistakes are surmountable. My feeling was, if I work every day, if I make sure my children are well cared for, getting the education they need, if I do my part, then that should be enough. But sometimes, it just isn't.

I like thinking of myself as an independent, self-sufficient woman. And for the most part, I am. But I know in my heart there's no way I would've made it without the support my parents gave me along the way. And I know I'm lucky to have that support. And I've accepted it gratefully, with little shame, because I knew I was living up to my end of the bargain, too.

I don't understand how people corrupt the welfare system, I really don't. When I applied for food stamps, I had to jump through a number of hoops. I needed tons of documentation. I wouldn't even begin to get how people take advantage of the system. And I don't consider myself entirely stupid, either. I'm sure some people do, but having been through it, I don't see how that many people get away with it.

I know that even the poorest of people in America have it better than the poverty in Mexico, for instance. However, there's a community of poverty there that, while it sounds sick and depraved, I somewhat envy. Here, there's so much money being thrown around everywhere that it's difficult not to start to wonder where our share is, you know? Here, there's such a stigma attached to being on food stamps or (in L.A.) not having a car that it's difficult not to feel inferior, less than.

When I interned for The Bridge Program, I was truly humbled by how well I had it, in comparison. The first night, there was a celebration of sorts because one of the homeless shelters was finally free of their bed bugs. There was one extraordinary woman there, a victim of domestic abuse, who soon moved into her own Section 8 housing, is now in the process of getting her degree, and hopes to become a lawyer. When I met her, she was living in a shelter, and the programs there, along with The Bridge Program, enabled her to get the support she needed so that she can keep her daughter in school and, one day, maybe even have her choice of neighborhoods.

This will sound trite in comparison, but I was seething the other night, as I watched the latest episode of Brothers & Sisters. Sally Field was going off on Rachel Griffiths' character, a single working mother of two, for not being compassionate enough to another family member. As Griffiths' character tried to explain how truly miserable she is at her job, Field asked why she didn't quit. Griffiths explained that she's a single mother that can't afford to be out of job. And Field responded, "then it's your choice to work there." It was all I could do not to wake my sleeping daughters by screaming at the tv, "Choice?!? What choice?!? She HAS to work, she HAS to support her kids, she doesn't have the LUXURY of a choice right now!!"

People forget that sometimes, life circumstances narrow the choices considerably. I think there's a distinct difference between choice and excuse, and that the words get intertwined in ways they shouldn't be. Yes, a choice can lead to a circumstance that you later regret. But if you're willing to put your tail between your legs, if you're willing to say, "okay, I want to correct that now," there ought to be ways that someone can do so. You shouldn't just be stuck with, "well, you made your choice, now live with it." Particularly when children, who made no such choice, are involved.

And apparently, most governments agree with me right now. Too many people that didn't make the choice were getting hurt by the failure of the banks to let it just stand. While I think that every CEO should be fired, and some other top management too probably, it's not right to let everyone's money go down the drain like that. There are still many of us that didn't take loans we couldn't afford, that didn't approve those bad loans, that are watching our 401(k)s and other investments potentially disappear if nothing was done. As evidenced by these last couple of weeks, sometimes, we have to step in or all of us get hurt.

There are many levels of poverty, some of which I can't even begin to comprehend. I'm sure there will be many posts this Blog Action Day that spell things out more clearly (and more succinctly) than I have here. But I wanted to participate because I do believe that it's a serious issue that is constantly with us - in one form or another. And I think we all should at least take a step back and ask, just how many choices do they have? How many choices do I have? And be grateful, and yes, take ownership, of our choices, or lack thereof, along the way.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Socialism, two cents

My post yesterday started up quite a conversation in the comments on whether or not Obama is a socialist.

First off, I'd like to thank FreedomFirst and Mama Smurf for speaking their views on the issues, and not on the personal (and mostly unfounded) attacks on Obama. I'm pleased that you knew you could be open and honest here, all the while knowing I'm an Obama supporter.

You both agreed that you think Obama's a socialist. I have a few things to say in response to that.

First off, this is exactly the kind of debate I love having about politics because I believe that the balance theory applies. We need people on both sides of the fence to continue fighting for what they believe in order to (hopefully) find a balance between capitalism and socialism. A lifelong Republican near and dear to my heart and I used to have these sort of debates a lot - about what should or shouldn't be the government's responsibility. That's interesting. That's debatable, even. And that debate, I believe, should go on throughout America's existence because, depending on our times, our greatest challenges, our strength, the balance will shift. Because of those dynamics, it will never be a constant answer. We will never find one harmonious balance, but the goal should be to get as close to it as possible, be wary of the changes that throws things out of balance, and adjust accordingly.

Having loud voices on both sides of this debate makes that possible.

Most of us are probably more centrist than those that disagree with us would probably believe.

I surprise conservatives - and they surprise me - pleasantly when we find those issues where we completely agree. And our humanity should allow us to explore the whole person, and not just one part.

Having said that, however, I've placed my feet firmly in the left camp because, more often than not, their views align closer (particularly on those issues most important to me) than the right. So I play my part accordingly.

Some people (not all - and certainly not any Obama detractor that is taking the time to read this) don't give me credit for that. They think that I just take everything I hear and see from any left-leaning liberal rag and espouse it as fact. That's just not true. Democrats do things that annoy me all the time. I'm just not as public about it - it's sort of like a family feud. I prefer to whisper to those closest to me, rather than shout it to the world.

I appreciate any time any "conservative," "Republican" - whatever label you want to slap on someone opposite of me - takes the time to explain to me their views. And doesn't resort to name-calling. I've had some really fantastic discussions that way. Sure, I spout off about those that scream Obama's an "Arab" or claims they don't know who Barack Obama is (hello?!? Where have you been the last year?), but when it comes to one-on-one, I try to take into account the whole person - not just one label.

Somewhere in my drafts there's a post about labeling. I may have to finish that one someday.

Sorry - digressed there for a moment.

I do, however, feel the need to explain more about Obama's "socialist" programs and views. Or, at least, how I understand them and why I support them.

Bush - as even you conservatives know - is not a fiscal conservative. Bush is lucky the Republican party still exists for all the ways he's skewered it. Even most Republicans I know, even those that supported Iraq, think he's done a shoddy job, and none of them would call him a fiscal conservative. He spent money like - well, like he could afford a 56 trillion dollar deficit.

So I can certainly respect and appreciate anyone's fear that Obama's proposed spending won't help matters. But even most economics agree that McCain's won't help either. We're going to have to spend some money. It's unavoidable.

What the question should be about is how we're going to spend it, and what we will spend it on.

McCain has given me no reassurance that he will spend it any wiser than Bush has. His health care plan scares the crap out of me. And people way smarter than me have confirmed I have reason to be scared.

The way that I understand it, he'll tax our health insurance, but give us a $5,000 tax credit. Well, when health insurance costs average $12,000, that means the remaining $7,000 will be taxed. It reminds me of the useless vouchers in the NCLB program: if my neighborhood school fails, then they'll give me a $4,000 voucher for a private school - where the average annual tuition is $12,000. Doesn't help. Given that education and medical costs are two of the top three reasons for bankruptcy (with divorce being the third), these create very big problems for the average American family (where the median income is now less than $50,000).

And as much as McCain likes to say that Obama will somehow federalize health care, it's just not true. Did McCain see any of the debates between Obama and Clinton? This was their main difference, and they exhausted it over 18 debates! Clinton wanted universal health care (as did Edwards). Obama did not. Clinton called him out time and time again for not supporting universal health care. All Obama wants to do is simply offer the federal health care option to all Americans. No one will be forced or mandated to take it.

Now, some people will think of health care and education as entitlement programs. Whether you think of that term as a bad or a good thing, I believe that our government does have a responsibility to keep American citizens healthy and offer the best education possible. As many healthy, educated Americans we can have, the greater our country can be. Educated children grow up to be smart, creative, productive members of society that can create jobs and new industries for our future. That's a good thing. Less people able to work due to health problems is not a good thing, either. While I don't think they're necessarily drains on our system or anything like that, I believe that healthier Americans are more productive, which in turn leads to a stronger America.

I think Obama has better plans to help us with that. Plain and simple.

The war: I don't believe that because McCain was a prisoner of war means he can lead one. If you recall, he brought up two failures as a leader in the last debate. He couldn't get anyone to listen to him when it came to Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae, and he certainly didn't help matters when it came to the bailout program. I don't see him as an effective leader in these very serious times. (Not to mention, I found it quite condescending that he said most of us probably hadn't heard of Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae until two weeks ago. He's assuming we don't pay attention.)

I also believe Obama can practice diplomacy better than McCain. McCain, again, just doesn't seem to be very effective in his communication. Beyond the condescension, he also seems to get irritated very easily. I've seen Obama debate numerous times now, and his ability to keep his calm - yet still able to communicate - is incredibly impressive to me. While I'm sick of hearing them go back and forth (as I heard Clinton and Obama go back and forth) on whether or not Obama should be willing to talk to foreign leaders without pre-conditions, I do agree that Obama should leave that option on the table.

I do believe that these are scary times. I do believe that we are vulnerable to attacks from a large number of groups and countries even. I do not think we have the resources right now to fight more wars than we're already fighting.

I also believe that Obama, if he cannot absolutely stop the fighting in Iraq, will at least get rid of the Blackwaters of Iraq and devote more of our resources to our actual troops! I also believe that we should be heading out very very soon. While he may have gotten the figures wrong, according to FactCheck, Obama was right that the Iraqi government has a surplus. And we have a 56 trillion dollar deficit. I find something fundamentally wrong with that. McCain has not convinced me that he will be as vigilant, or as effective.

Simply put, I don't find McCain to be an effective leader at all. He lost on the Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae bill, his campaign finance reform is a joke (as evidenced by all the PACs out there), he already lost a chance at the presidency 8 years ago...there's nothing in his 30-year political career that tells me he's a leader, let alone the leader of the free world.

I respect his service, of course. But I don't respect the major turn-around he's done from the man he was four years ago. Heck, I even quoted him four years ago! And then he started getting ready to run, and his positions on Iraq, on terror, on Bush, on social conservatism (as evidenced by his VP pick), heck even on lobbyists (anyone remember that story on that lobbyist?), they all switched. And while I respect his service, I don't believe in him.

I don't believe that he can make all the changes he says he's going to make, regardless of the bailout, as he stated in the last debate. Totally unrealistic.

I appreciated that Obama at least prioritized, but the fact is, no one can say for sure what will change because no one quite knows what the situation will be four months from now. I hope that Obama says that on Wed.

Do I know absolutely in my heart that Obama will be the president I want him to be? Of course not. But he's given me enough evidence in this past year that says he's worth that leap of faith.

No, neither of them are perfect. Neither of them are completely truthful (and that does get on my nerves - but again, I only speak about it "in the family"), but let's face it: what kind of person would want this job? Particularly in these times.

I know, I completely strayed off my point about 'socialism.' I guess what I'm trying to say is, if that makes me a socialist, then so be it.

*edited to add* I deleted an anonymous comment earlier not just because they decided to post anonymously, but also because they made assumptions about how I've come to my conclusions which are just not accurate. I was accused of buying into the "change" mantra. That's not the case. And to make it clear to everyone, my own personal bias towards Obama has to do with the fact that he was raised by a single mother, and gets single motherhood. So my personal bias towards him versus McCain (and I do recognize the fact that my personal bias influences my political beliefs) is something very very personal to me. I've been lucky to find a community here of single mothers who help me through it, but I really really love the concept of having a president who understands me as a person. I've stated my other reasons here, and I just hope that people will think twice before assuming why anyone supports one candidate over another. I appreciate learning about why people choose one candidate and what personal experiences influence and affect that decision, but I think we all need to stay away from assuming we know until we've been so informed.

Monday, October 13, 2008

If Barack Obama loses...

If Obama loses, I would much rather he lose because people believe in less regulation than because they think Obama "pals around" with a terrorist.

If Obama loses, I would much rather he lose because people don't believe that he has a better plan to end our occupation in Iraq than because they think Obama doesn't care about the troops.

If Obama loses, I would much rather he lose because they fundamentally disagree with the idea of universal health care than because they are uncomfortable with a leader that is not white.

If Obama loses, I would much rather he lose because people believe in the trickle-down economic theory, not because they fear they'll raise his taxes.

If Obama loses, I hope he loses fair and square, without questions about chads or electronic machines.

If Obama loses, I hope that McCain lives a long, long time.

Friday, October 10, 2008

No Men

I've said before that I won't talk about dating - and it's not like there's been much to talk about there, but I've decided that there won't be dating in my future for quite a while.

This is a decision that was sort of made for me, so it's kind of like saying "I quit" after your boss said "you're fired," but I'm still taking ownership of this. And I'll tell you why.

For the past 5 years, I've tried to remain on the "look-out." While I've always said that I won't get married again (because no man is worth that sort of legal commitment), I've put myself out there, and it's just never worked out. Sometimes it's been my decision, and other times, not. There's been no one that I've really truly cared about that has come close to breaking my heart, so it's not that.

It's this: I've been missing my life. In feeling sorry for myself for being alone, in wondering whether or not I should or shouldn't tell "him" how I feel, in bemoaning spending yet another national holiday without a date...I've been missing what I do have.

I have some truly amazing friends. I have some great family. I have my newest community here of all my bloggy friends. I've reconnected with old friends thru Facebook.

And, most importantly, I have these two girls.

One of them is pretty darn close to adolescence. She is already experiencing some changes in her body. And her mind and her heart. One of them will be a child just a trifle longer. And no one on earth comes close to making me feel what I feel with them.

Oh, I still truly believe - know, actually - that I'm a better mother to them when I'm a better person. And that's another place where I've been missing the mark.

I still have so much to sort out about me. I want to gain more patience. I want to read more. I want to enjoy my own company more than I do. I want to get over my fear of sitting in a restaurant by myself.

I may have been alone for the past 5 years, but too much of it has been spent being lonely. And I've done that enough to know now that it's the same as any other emotion - it comes and goes. It has a peak, and then a valley where it's nearly non-existent. I want to stretch those valleys out by accepting the reality of being alone. By choosing to be alone.

Last holiday season was rough for me. I had a breakdown of sorts. I hated the fact that it was my 5th holiday season with no one to kiss on New Year's (not counting all those holidays where I was still married, but still somehow ended up spending them alone). I skipped New Year's last year.

This year, I will not be the Scrooge of the family. Or the office. I will revel in what there is to enjoy. I will not be wishing that there was someone else there. I will enjoy who is there.

So it may not have started off as my choice, but that doesn't mean that I can't embrace it, right?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Last 5 Yearx

And so it's been.

While I appreciate everyone's supportive comments, I have to shake my head a little at being called "strong" or "inspiring" or some of the other lavish compliments you've bestowed me. I think of Karen MEG and her strength to have her two children. I think of Kori and her four children and her devotion so strong that she's attending parenting classes to be the best mom she can be. I think of Tara and the amazing children she's raised into beautiful and strong young adults. I think of Taylor's family, counting the days she's been in and out of the hospital this past year. I think of OhMommy, baking with her youngest and always finding creative, thoughtful and loving answers to her children's many questions. I think of all of you - all of us - and how we all get up every day and do what we can to bring ourselves and our families that much closer to being the best that all of us can be.

I wonder all the time how Sylvia and Riley will turn out. Quite honestly, sometimes their behavior truly shocks me and I realize that I have no idea what I'm doing. And then I see them holding hands and interested in each other's lives and I know I'm doing just fine.

This year, as Sylvia filled out her teachers' questionnaires and forms, she deliberately X'd out any questions pertaining to her father. When I asked her how she felt about that, she told me (in that "duh" voice), "bad." And it is bad. But I have to admit, I feel like it's good progress. While she still wants to share her news with her dad, and I encourage that, it tells me that she knows that I'm the one that handles all the parental duties of actually raising her.

One time, she asked me if it was okay with me that she still loved her daddy. I told her, of course it is. I want her to love him.

I just fear that he will let her down as much as he's let me down. And he has. And as much as my heart breaks for her, I try to find some sort of sense out of it.

She's learning to accept someone, and even love him, for who he is. And I tell you, she's handled her disappointments in him way better than I ever did.

Riley is most likely growing up faster than she should. She worries about me more than she should. She knows I'm it, and it sometimes scares her. But again, I have to find the positives in it. Her empathy is strong, and her heart is good. She's harder on herself than she should be, but we're working on that. When she does something wrong, I have to remind her that we all mess up sometimes. And sometimes, we just have to put the past behind us.

I know we're making the best that we can out of the situation. And this reflection has been amazing for me to see how far we've come.

Neither of them ever threaten to go "live with Daddy" anymore. Sylvia tells me when she misses her dad, like she did the other day. She heard some music in her music class that made her think of him, and she cried some. And while that hurts, I'm also encouraged by the fact that she told me that of her own volition. And then we moved on.

While I do find it necessary to always be mindful of whatever the next bad thing can be, I am also mindful of how good we have it.

And I have to admit, I look forward to seeing what the next 5 years will bring us.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


This past summer, I emailed X's sister to see if a trip up north could be arranged. The girls hadn't seen X's family in about a year, and I thought it would be fun for them. X talked to me briefly about it, but I'd long learned that he could not be the one in charge of these things. He'd wanted the girls to fly by themselves, and even if they could, there was no way I'd let them. Call me overprotective, but I just don't think they're ready for that yet. Then he wanted to take them on an overnight train ride, something else I just wasn't comfortable allowing. Particularly with X as their traveling companion.

So I waited and heard nothing. X's sister made a comment about talking to X in an email. Finally, we spoke on the phone and I learned that X had told her that he was arranging anything. Which meant, of course, that nothing had been arranged. I had told the girls that we had been talking, but nothing was definite. After learning that X had "taken charge," I told them it wouldn't be happening.

My parents, feeling bad for the girls, invited them to join them for one of their vacations down near San Diego.

A few days later, X's sisters called me. Another family member would by flying up north, and would I allow the girls to fly with him, and then fly up to pick them up. I told them that so long as they were in charge of the trip, it was okay with me.

The girls were thrilled, of course, and to be honest, I was kind of looking forward to a few days off. We'd recently moved, and I wanted some time to be home without the girls.

The girls went up and for the most part, it went fine. I was a little annoyed that the girls spent every night with X (he did nothing to make the trip happen, and yet reaped the benefits), but whatever, right?

What did anger me, however, was when I picked up the girls, they had something from X for me. X had given Sylvia four hundred dollars - in cash - to give to me. Setting aside the wisdom of giving a 10-year-old that kind of money, I was more annoyed because it was a way for X to tell the girls that he did pay what he owed me. Of course, that's the only money I've received from him in a year. It's what he owes me in child support for one month.

Sylvia wanted me to be all happy about it, and of course, it was nice, but after she brought it up the third time, I had to explain that it merely paid for that month. Not all the months past, and not all the months to come. She hasn't mentioned it since.

When Sylvia made the cheerleading squad a few weeks ago, she called X to see if he could help with the cost of the uniform. He hasn't come through with the money and he hasn't called since. Part of me wants to call him and let him know that none of us have been holding our breath, but it's just not worth it.

He did talk to me that last time, oddly enough, to tell me a story of when the girls had been up there. The girls had been calling him "dude" (no, no idea where that came from *cough*). Well, Riley changed it to calling him "dud." When X explained that a dud is when something doesn't work, Riley said, "like you, Daddy." That's my Riley. She calls it like she sees it. The odd part was that he was laughing about it. whatever, dud.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Weekend Wrap-Up

We're enjoying a nice, relatively quiet weekend before the madness of October truly begins. Next weekend, we're going miniature golfing with my parents for Riley's birthday, plus the No on 8 campaign party. The weekend after that, we'll be going down to my sister's to celebrate her and her son's bday. The weekend after that, we're going to Disneyland for the girls' birthdays with some family members and then my sister and I have our luncheon cruise. The weekend after that is Halloween, Sylvia's birthday, going to the movies, and roller skating.

I decided not to have a bday party for the girls this year, and I am so thrilled with that decision. With the girls just starting new schools, it would be difficult to know which friends might attend, plus their age difference is starting to become more transparent as Sylvia edges closer to adolescence while Riley remains most definitely a kid.

This last week, I got to meet Florinda! (Sorry, Mom & Dad, if you're reading this. I went w/ a blogger, not a colleague. Just didn't think you'd get it.) She's the first blogger I've met IRL.

Florinda and I both wanted to see 9 to 5, the Musical so we went on Tuesday night. We had such a great time. She's exactly like I thought she'd be - thoughtful, funny, sweet...a great companion.

Kori was definitely jealous that I was meeting another blogger before her, so on a whim, I called her (for the first time) on my way to the theatre. After I got over how girly she sounded :), and she got over my supposed accent (which does not exist), it was like talking to an old friend. No awkward pauses, no lack of things to say...I just really really hope we're able to meet at BlogHer '09 next year.

And at the theatre, we had a great time. The show was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, Florinda had a long drive ahead of her so she couldn't stay to meet Stephanie after the show. (Stephanie and I did a show together eons ago.) She was amazing in the show, and her 2nd act torch song gave us chills. She was just as sweet as always, and we had a great time catching up. I hope the show does well enough to garner her another Tony nomination. (The others were phenomenal as well. Allison Janney was SO funny, and Megan Hilty was awesome!) And there's something so cool about seeing three women take that final bow. It's a fun night out.

Otherwise, most of my week was spent talking politics, working, mothering, blah blah blah. Oh, and I won a bet with RadDude. He bet that Palin would have a "family emergency" that would prevent her from doing the debate. I knew she'd exceed the oh-so-low expectations. (BTW, I loved everyone's comments to my debate posting. Thank you for sharing your own thoughts and opinions.)

The X Chronicles are nearly complete. Just two more postings, I think. I really appreciate everyone's supportive comments to that as well, and for taking the time to read it. It's been cathartic, to say the very least.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Xmas Vacation

Things ended up being okay for a while after that. I laid down the law - if X wanted to see the girls, then he had to figure it out. He had to either meet the conditions of his visitation, or come up with an alternative that I could agree to that didn't involve me. Of course, he could do neither of those things. Instead, he moved back to Northern California.

In the meantime, I was reading up on middle schools, and decided Sylvia would need something better than our local neighborhood middle school had to offer. This led to me finding KIPP, and we moved to the condo.

Throughout the years, the girls went up to see their family in northern California a few other times. Once, my parents drove them up on their way to Napa Valley, and then picked them up. A couple of times, I flew up with them and then turned around and flew right back to L.A. The girls loved seeing their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins that live up there. Last summer, we went on a family vacation to San Francisco and Santa Cruz, and then I dropped them off at their aunt's, and flew back a few days later to pick them up. Most of the time, X would be up there, but X's sisters were in charge. Last summer, when I dropped them off, X was living down here, and was two days late in getting up there to see them.

The girls were starting to understand that X was not someone that could be counted on. They tended to believe his excuses, and I just tried not to point out that I managed to get them from school/after school care every day on time.

The girls would usually make their NorCal trips in either summer, Thanksgiving, or during their winter holiday vacation (while always being home with me for Xmas).

Last December, they were to go up north after Xmas, and spend New Year's with X's family. I was really looking forward to the break. And the girls were looking forward to the visit.

X's sister bought the plane tickets for X to do the flying this time. I was apprehensive about that, but went along with it. The flight was only 45 minutes, after all.

A couple of weeks before the trip was scheduled, I noticed that X hadn't called the girls in a while. Sure enough, I got a call from X's sister that he'd disappeared. He'd taken his mother's car, maxed out her ATM card, and was gone. Given the circumstances, we felt it best to cancel the trip.

I sat the girls down, and Sylvia just seemed mostly relieved that he wasn't in jail, was worried about him being "missing," but didn't really want to talk about it. The whole episode was done in about 10 minutes. I thought, hey, this is getting easier.

X's sister felt so bad about the whole thing, she decided to surprise her own children with an impromptu trip out here, and they spent a day with the girls. All of us had dinner, and they told me about the time X was 2 days late that Sylvia looked for her dad every time the door opened.

After Xmas, the girls went down to my sister's for a few days so I could still get a break. They spent the rest of their holidays with my parents while I worked, and with me.

The day that KIPP started up again, I got a call from the principal. Sylvia had taken one look at him and burst out in tears. She cried for about a half hour straight as she tried to tell him the story. (I'd emailed him and her teachers about what had happened over the break, at her request. She'd been so excited and telling everyone before the break. She didn't want anyone to ask her how it went when she returned.)

She'd been holding all these feelings in for a good month. She didn't feel comfortable talking to me about it (which hurt) or my family, but I was grateful that there was at least someone in her life that she felt she could talk to about it. He set it up for her to meet with the school therapist once a week, and he was also really great with me. He didn't place any blame on me, didn't try to make me feel bad. He just used the KIPP motto: there was a problem, let's find a solution.

It's the main reason I fought for him so hard at the end of the school year. He'd been there for Sylvia. He was the first school official that didn't make me feel like this was all my fault, or that we were just a problem family. He didn't seem phased by it at all, actually. He just did what he could to help and support us. (He remains a treasured family friend.)

The X Chronicles are nearly coming to a close. One more incident to speak of, and then I'll try to sum it all up to see if all even means anything.

PS, X ended up showing up again back at his mom's house. He remains living there to this day.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Live(ish) Blogging

I'm interrupting the X Chronicles again because I have this brilliant/stupid idea. I've been dreading watching the debate for most of the day because I think that Palin's going to be claimed the winner if she can stay upright, and that Biden will say something stupid, or be called a bully.
*Any Palin-lovers or those who believe Obama's a Muslim - leave NOW*

So last week I had a brilliant time watching the debate as I went to an Obama debate party (and I'm fairly certain Dermot Mulrooney was sitting next to me). I had a drink, we laughed together, yelled at the TV together, applauded Obama together ("I have a bracelet, too" - classic), but then made a mad dash for the theatre.

Tonight, my parents are in Canada so I had to do the mom thing and wait until after dinner, homework, blah blah blah and my girls are now in bed. But the thought of yelling at the TV alone while drinking my Smirnoff Ice (shut up - I'm saving my Ketel One) was making me cringe.

So I had this brilliant/stupid idea to write instead of yell. I may also take little breaks for updates (happy bday sis!), and this won't go up until I'm done watching so it's not truly a live blog, but since I'm watching the debate 3 1/2 hours later, there's really no sense in trying to be "live" about it.

Before I start (because *sigh* Sylvia's tooth is hurting and she's getting herself an ice pack so I can't start the debate yet), let me just ponder - why do the same people who believe that Wright and Obama are working together to hate America also believe that Obama's a Muslim? Isn't that a contradiction right there?!?

Oh, and I'm very excited that next weekend, we're going to a No on 8 campaign party. I've already given $$, but I'll prob'ly shell out at least another $20. And have you donated? I'd be eternally grateful! Even $5 would make me love you...

Okay, I'm starting. BTW, I also think she's going to compare governing to parenting.

This guy on CNN described Palin as being "one 72-year-old's heartbeat away from being the commander-in-chief." That frightens me.

"Can I call you Joe?" He should've said, "I prefer Mark." Just to mess with her.

"A pleasure to meet you." Wow. They've never met?!?

Does anyone really know what "middle-class" means anymore? I had a professor say it used to mean you could survive a year without a job. Anyone who can do that is not what I think of when I think middle-class.

I was interrupted - Sylvia's tooth came out.

"go to a kid's soccer game..." of course!! I knew she'd bring that out. Although, I'm surprised that she said soccer, and not hockey.

Yes, we are all afraid. Thanks Bush.

2 years ago, McCain FAILED as a LEADER (Fannie/Freddie). Oh yeah. When McCain went back to Washington, the deal fell apart.

The American workforce is not strong when we have the highest unemployment rate in 7 years.

New energy from McCain? 72. Years. Old.

"Darn right." Yeah, that's folksy. JOe 6-pack? Really? Depends on what kind of 6-pack we're talking.

Exactly, Joe! People are going into debt because they can't afford their groceries! We're not in debt for FUN. Most bankruptcies occur because of divorce, job loss and medical issues. Not because we're supporting TWELVE houses.

Tax relief. Yep. When we're in a deficit CRISIS. You can't cut taxes in these circumstances. I'm sorry, but you just can't. We're giving China the keys to the country.

Oh, wonderful. She's just going to say her campaign speech and ignore the questions. That's how a debate's suposed to work, right?

So far, Biden's doing okay. I'm nervous to actually type that, but so far, so good.

"Re-distribution of wealth?!?" If they make $250k a year, I think they can handle it.

Hmmm. What I remember from the Obama/Clinton debates is that Obama's health plan is NOT mandated. That was about 95% of the differences between the two.

Yep. A $5,000 tax credit doesn't really help me w/ my health insurance. Like a $4,000 voucher doesn't help me pay for a $12,000 tuition under NCLB.

Okay, Biden, I get what you're saying, but you're not answering the question about what changes w/ the bail-out plan. I mean, i know you don't know yet, but have to address this better than you are.

Oh, yeah. McCain doesn't flip-flop. I do NOT recognize this guy from as little as 4 years ago.

But you see? McCain should've KNOWN that bankruptcy law changes came from the companies that were losing money because they had loans that never should've been granted!

Okay, they're talking about bankruptcy and she won't even talk about it. She's talking about energy now. She's just refusing to answer certain things. Perfect. Another VP who won't listen to anyone. We need another one of those. (110 days...)

Hey, does Palin have a gay friend/family member?

I seriously can't believe that they're still talking about marriage between a man and a woman. Really?

Wow. She really lost her place when Biden called McCain out for voting "against the troops."

Did she just say "nuculer?" Oh, boy. Yep. She just said it again.

I'm so tired of this whole, Obama would sit down with the leaders without pre-conditions.

OMG, she just sounded EXACTLY like Bush. EXACTLY. Hah. She even talked about how it's "hard work."

LOL - Palin doesn't even know how to deal with the Israeli question!

Sometimes, I just stop and go, "OMG - even SHE can't believe she's there!"

Okay, I'm getting a little bored right now.

I'm going to break this up with a few pics.

Wow. Biden is the FIRST person to mention education.

Wow again. She just refuses to talk about certain subjects that she doesn't like.

Oh, scary. Her presiding over the Senate. just friggin' scary.

Okay, I admit it. the say it isn't so, Joe line was good.

Okay, thanks, Joe, for talking about single parents.

Oh, he made me tear up.

Good for you, Biden! Good for you for calling out the maverick idea.

Palin, I don't buy you as a bipartisan for one. single. moment.

Well, she stayed upright. And I think Biden did a great job from not "attacking" Palin.

Good night all.

Mother'X Day

The girls really did handle it much better that last time he went to jail at their birthdays. Riley said it best when she said, "I love him, but I don't miss him." Being younger, not remembering a time when we lived together helped her a lot. Sylvia was getting there, but it was just going to take longer. Every time X screwed up, she got a little closer.

Things went on, the girls had fun on their birthdays, he got out again, and eventually - can't remember exactly when, but it must've been early 2007 - X came back down to L.A. to live. My anger had dissipated, and we went back to some visits with me as a chaperone. Some went well, some not so well.

The next big happening was Mother's Day of that year. Or rather, the night before Mother's Day. We already had plans to be with my parents on the actual day, but X said he wanted to take us out for a nice dinner at this great restaurant to thank me for everything I've done. Of course, he asked me with the girls around, and how could I say no?

So we made plans to meet him. We were there before him, and I got a little freaked out that he wouldn't show. But he called and said he was on his way.

We had a nice dinner. He seemed a little distracted, but I just figured he was feeling depressed, and I didn't ask.

Until the bill came. And he started telling me how he needed to go meet someone who owed him money, and would we just wait for 10 minutes or so while we got the cash to pay for the bill.

In my head, I could see what would transpire. He would leave. and not show up for a good half-hour at least. And when he came back, he would claim the friend stood him up and he still wouldn't have the money to pay the bill. Or he wouldn't come back at all. And I would be left with the question of how long do I wait?

The girls were already getting antsy, and I could feel my irritation rising to a level of pissed. Without a word, I got out my credit card to pay for my own Mother's Day dinner. I so badly didn't want to make a scene in front of the girls (not to mention, I knew the waitress). I just wanted to get out of there.

Of course, X wouldn't let it go that easily. He couldn't have me mad, or not talking to him. I was being unreasonable again. It wasn't like he wasn't going to pay, we just had to wait.

And of course, Sylvia was on his side. Why wouldn't I just let him buy the dinner?

Tears were springing in my eyes, but I refused to answer. I tried to give X the look to say, "shut the f*** up. Do NOT do this in front of the girls. " X just ignored it, though. Just went on pretending like it would all work out.

We managed to get out of the restaurant, but X insisted on following us, on continuing to try and goat me. The girls were crying at this point. But I got them in the car and got the hell out of there.

My cell phone started ringing not 20 seconds later. I finally started yelling at him, while the girls cried in the background. He finally gave up.

I apologized to the girls, but explained to them that it wasn't right to say he was taking us to dinner without having the money upfront. He could've canceled, he could've postponed, he had any number of choices available rather than just leaving us there.

The best thing to come out of that was that I told them I couldn't do it anymore. I couldn't be in the same room with him anymore. We couldn't spend time together because too many times, it ended in disaster. And the best thing was, they agreed.

P.S. And, no, he never did pay me back for the dinner. He still owed me for four years' worth of child support.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Less than siX months

We went back to it being the three of us again. The therapy sessions died down, and soon life was somewhat normal again.

I would have these moments sometimes where it would hit me unexpectedly. They mostly came at school functions, where I'd see the two happy parents and the two happy children, and the dad would carry his child around his shoulders or whisper something to his wife, and tears would spring to my eyes. That'll never be me. That'll never be us, I would think. Thankfully, most of these moments would happen in the great L.A. outdoors, where my sunglasses could hide the well-ups.

Another one I remember is when Riley performed on a stage for the first time. Miraculously, X had managed to be around for most of Sylvia's performances. And, again, I wasn't even thinking of it purposefully. But as I looked at my little girl up there, and all the parents watching and smiling, I thought, Riley deserves two parents out here.

But most of the time, things went fine.

Unfortunately, just after that school year ended (Riley completed her year of kindergarten, and Sylvia was going into 4th grade), we learned that the girls would have to go to another school the next year. When we'd moved, I hadn't checked the address to make sure we were still in our neighborhood school. We weren't. A few weeks before the school year had ended, I'd received a letter from the school asking me about it. I poured out the whole story. I'd thought that they'd decided to let them stay. But not two days after school was out - two days too late to say proper goodbyes to their friends - we were informed that we wouldn't be welcomed back.

The girls were disappointed, of course, but we concentrated on the positive aspects. They would now be attending the same school as the other kids in the building. So they went into a new school for Riley's first and Sylvia's fourth grades with a good attitude.

X was released early, but thankfully, decided to go back to northern California where his family was. So it really wasn't that big a deal when I got the call - again, on Riley's birthday - that he was in jail again.