Sunday, November 30, 2008

Weekend Wrap-Up

What a seriously long weekend! Last year, we started getting the Friday after Thanksgiving off, too, so it's been 4 days with no work. Weird. But good, of course!

After we got back from Disneyland, I watched The Woodsman. Depressing, moving, and incredibly well-acted. On Friday, we woke up really really late (for us), we had lunch and went bowling with a family friend of ours. This was the girls' first bowling trip. Riley would've done a little better had she had a 6-lb ball, I think, but she still managed to place 3rd. Sylvia placed last, but she didn't seem to mind. We were all just enjoying the company, and the chance to throw hard objects.

After one game, however, I was spent. I was desperate to get home and just relax for a while. Still, I managed to do six loads of laundry! After the girls went to bed (they were pretty spent, too), I watched The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), which was so much fun!

Saturday, I alternated from relaxing/reading/Reader catch-up and cleaning, cooking, etc. Today, I'll be doing much of the same. I have only ONE New Yorker left before I'm caught up!

Next week, on Wed., I finally get to move into my own office. YAY!!! The head of our department really went to bat for me, which I totally appreciate. He knows, however, that it's not just a matter of wanting it for the sake of having an office. My cube is right next to the kitchen, where people inevitably convene for water-cooler conversation, and sometimes, I can't even hear someone on the phone. I always have to borrow someone else's space for a conference call. Not to mention, I don't have nearly enough space for the twenty or so files I have open at any given time. (Oh, and for my veteran readers, you'll appreciate how much I'll enjoy being away from Coolio finally for once and for all.)

I also have my parent-teacher conference with Riley's teacher on Monday. We've emailed a few times about the problems I've been having getting Riley to do her homework (which I wrote about here and here), and I urged her to grade Riley appropriately for the missing assignments. It's still a frustration, but I've tried to let go a little and see how the conference goes.

I've certainly had my moments of frustration at being outnumbered in this household the last three days, but eventually, I can usually prevail. I hate that it can feel like a power struggle, but it is what it is.

We did NOT participate in Black Friday. Given my natural dislike for shopping as it is, nothing sounds more like hell to me than trying to shop when everyone else in the country is shopping. The Wal-Mart story is disturbing, to say the least. What I haven't heard (and it's possible that I haven't been paying enough attention) is the blame that should be placed on the store. How on earth did the powers-that-be decide that only one person should be standing in front of a crowd like that?

On Thanksgiving Eve, I watched the 20/20 special on Barack and Michelle Obama. Somehow, it just doesn't seem real still that they will be our next First Family. You mean, someone is going to represent the United States that I actually like? Incredible.

So I leave this rambling, all over the place post on that note. There will continue to be bad stuff, and annoying moments, but overall, things are good indeed.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

My Thanksgiving was Better than Yours

I feel like gloating a little, sorry. Because I got to spend Thanksgiving with Natalie. And she rocks!

We started bright and early and I was SO psyched to finally see her IRL. And Jacob, and Nat's mother. And, OMG, they're AWESOME!

Nat has a flaw, though. Her photos don't begin to show how lovely she is:

Other than that, it was just like seeing an old friend after it's been a while. Jacob was a little shy at first, but then Riley managed to bond with him. They were SO friggin' cute together:

Well, Jacob was cute all the time. Riley had her moments of driving me absolutely crazy. And stopping poor Nat's heart when she made a bee-line for photos without telling Nat where she was going. We still have a lot more work to do on impulse control.

We learned that Jacob and Riley are somewhat cut from the same cloth when they each independently picked the very same Mickey watch as a souvenir.

Nat's mother was great, as well. So sweet and always happy to sit out a ride when one of the kids didn't want to go so that the rest of us could enjoy it. I sat out Splash Mountain and the Grizzly rafts with her because I didn't want to get wet. Natalie may have regretted that second turn on the rafts that drenched her, but the kids loved going with her.

Sylvia was feeling brave, and tried two rides she hadn't ventured on before. Splash Mountain was a success - the Tower of Terror was not. Poor Sylvia. She cried and cried after that ride. We followed it up by introducing Nat and her family to Soarin', one of our favorites, and Sylvia was calm after that, but still doesn't mind telling you that she won't be going back to the Tower of Terror until she's a teenager, at least.

So there wasn't a turkey, but there were friends and family. There was no stuffing, but plenty of laughs and smiles. There was no fire, but still a warmth from the companionship. All in all, the best Thanksgiving ever.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm thankful for:

* The roof over our heads.
* My girls' continued health and well-being.
* The opportunity to work with smart, kind, and very supportive people every day.
* My ability to raise these girls by myself, with a little help from my family and friends.
* My parents. Really, can't thank them enough.
* Living in SoCal. (read: never having to scrape ice off of my car.)
* Starbucks and a working coffee maker.
* A new administration ('nuff said.)
* Everyone who voted no on 8. (okay, now, enough said.)
* Getting to move into my new office soon.
* Re-connecting with old friends, and making new ones.
* DreamDinners.
* Every opportunity to laugh and smile.
* You - for reading this, for encouraging me to keep writing, for the awards, for your friendship, and for what I learn by reading your corners of the 'net. Blogging has been one of the greatest rewards of the past year and some months. I thank you for inviting me into this community.

Okay, so I get a little sappy sometimes. Indulge me - it's the holidays. May your holiday season be filled with laughter, love, kindness and your own moment (or two) of indulging in sappiness.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! (Even the ones who don't celebrate it.)

(That's our friend Lisa with us. Yes, our family photo has a friend in it. I'm blaming her for the fact that I don't absolutely hate this pic of me.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Third Grade Slump

Both of my daughters started kindergarten as enthusiastic learners. I remember both of their faces lighting up as they exclaimed "I have homework!" for the first time. Even after the newness wore off, they'd still want to show off their smarts as they moved into the first and second grades. Oh, sure, there was the morning madness of getting them up and dressed and all that fun stuff, but all in all they liked school. So when my oldest hit third grade, I was thrown completely off guard when all of a sudden, every mention of homework was met with tantrums. I really should've been better prepared this time with my youngest when she entered the third grade slump this year.

Sylvia, my oldest (now in 6th grade), would scream, throw fantastic tantrums, and in any way she could let the whole world know how much she hated homework. I'd offer assistance, but usually, she would scream at me, "NO! That's NOT the way the teacher did it!!!" Suddenly, instead of a nanny cam, I'd be wishing for a live stream video from her classroom, so I could use the same words, remind her of examples that took place in class. I'd take away privileges for not getting homework done.

The situation was made even more frustrating because sometimes, quite honestly, I found the homework stupid. One particular favorite was that each letter of each spelling word was to be written in a different color of crayon. That meant, with each letter, there was a choice to be made. Anyone who has spent time around 8-year-olds knows how long the task of decision-making can take them.

There seems to be a huge jump in expectations between 2nd graders and 3rd graders. This year, Riley has not just spelling words and math and reading every night, but vocabulary words along with Science on alternating nights. Not to mention, the math has gone from simple addition and subtraction to geometry and multiplication. After spending her whole day at school, she's less than enthusiastic about doing the very same things again every night. And while I think the opportunity to review is helpful, it does get difficult for me to explain the value in doing it besides, "because you have to."

At our Back-to-School Night back when Sylvia was in 3rd grade, some parents started talking about the homework. We all felt a sense of relief that it was not just us, not just our children, but a majority of the families were having the same struggle every night. The teacher heard us, and lightened the load a little, but the homework challenges still weren't quieted for good.

Finally, I came upon the idea (I don't remember how) of using a timer. Sylvia was to do 15 minutes of homework, then she'd get a 5 or 10-minute break. The struggles didn't stop completely, of course, but it did help a great deal.

So now my youngest, Riley, has entered third grade this year. And while the teacher has lightened the homework load as well, we're still struggling. For one thing, she broke the timer. Many times, she knows the answer but there always seems to be "something shiny" to distract her. She wants to know what her sister's doing, what I'm making for dinner, what's going in her lunchbox, who called me, she needs to sharpen her pencil (they got an automatic pencil sharpener for their birthdays to cut down on that time-sucker)...Even with the tv off, and plenty of space and tools to get the homework done, it still doesn't get done. I say, "Riley, homework" an average of 47 times a night. And if I leave the room? Well, forget it.

I've taken away privileges, I've doled out consequences, I've sat down and talked, I've done what I can to make the homework interesting - we make our practice spelling tests into a Spelling Bee. She plays various characters who come up to spell the words. Her mistakes are few, and when she doesn't know, she works hard to get it ingrained in her head the right way. It's not that she's not even motivated to learn. She just hates homework. She'll check her answers with me, and still take forever to actually write it down. Once it took her twenty minutes to finish one word problem in Math - when we'd already gone over the answer!

Her teacher and I have emailed on occasion. We'll be talking at our parent-teacher conference in a week, but for now, we've decided the only answer left is to let her grades suffer. She has in the past enjoyed showing off her good report cards, so I'm hoping that a not-so-good one will have a motivating effect on her just to do it.(And there will be a new timer in her stocking this year.)

Basically what's keeping me sane now is seeing the difference in Sylvia from 3rd grade to her current 6th grade self. Now, I don't even have to remind her to do her homework. If it's not all done by the time we get home, she gets it out immediately and finishes usually before dinner is ready. She stays on task, and has routinely gotten good grades for the past two years. She'll ask me for help if she needs it, but most of the time, she just needs confirmation that she's on the right track.

I can only hope that, three years from now, I can say the same for her sister!

Originally posted on LA Moms, Nov. 26, 2008


Okay, I confess, I ended up not reading everything in my Reader before I cleaned it out. Sorry. But I do feel like I have a fresh start, and can better keep up with everyone now. Phew!

430: the average number of unread emails I have pretty much all of the time. I clean it out a little, then they pour in, clean it out a little, and end up hovering back around 430 unread emails in my inbox.

Meanwhile, at work, every Tuesday morning, I get an email that my inbox is full. I don't keep nearly as many emails in my work inbox as I do at my home email, but working in legal, I get lots of attachments. And like clockwork, I get that ominous message that the first thing I need to do Tuesday am is clean out my inbox. But I can only do that after I fill out my legal time allocation.

Is this the most boring post I've ever written? Don't answer that. Please.

Awards: I've been given awards, but I saved some on my work computer and some on my home computer. And my memory has failed me as to who gave me what.

Except for this one, which I named appropriately, from Tara.

One of these days, I'll get serious about updating my layout and putting all these pretty awards up.

I'm sure there are rules to follow with this award, but aren't rules made to be broken? I pass this one:

To Jen of A2eatwrite - because I love her heart, that's as beautiful as any butterfly.

To Florinda of The 3 R's - my first bloggy friend to turn into a real-life friend - and letting me latch onto her at the LA Moms Blog launch party, cuz she's so warm and sweet that way. I look forward to seeing you more (and your sis) in 2009!

To Nat at From Here to There - because I get to meet her in about 36 hours!

Kori, I think you got this one from Tara, too, otherwise you'd be on this list. But if you didn't, then it goes to you, too - for being my dearest friend. I wish I could do more for you, but I'm here for whatever I can do. I love you.

Once I figure out where the heck I put the others, and I can properly credit the givers, then I'll pass them along.

I'm enormously thankful for everyone who takes the time to read my little corner of the 'net. I hope to give a proper thanksgiving post tomorrow, but if I don't get to it, I hope you all have a very happy day!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Note to the Actors

Are you freaking kidding me?!?

I am no longer a voting member of SAG - I gave that up a few years back when I finally accepted that I won't work in this town again. Bygones.

But this is not coming from a place of bitterness of being a has-been. Shut up - it's not! This is coming from a place of LOVING entertainment, of craving my escapes into TV and film.

But the realist in me says that I don't think this will have a very happy ending.

The industry still has not recovered from the Writer's Strike. You may have noticed that fewer pilots got picked up, and those that did have almost no time to prove themselves to stay on the air. Many studios have cut back on how many films they have in production throughout the year.

And, um...did you know that we're in a massive recession right now?

Millions of people are out of work, and many more millions are suffering financially even with a job. Their hours are getting cut, their houses are being foreclosed upon, their kids may have to drop out of college. Not to mention, most of us feel less secure in our job than we did a year ago. And, oh yeah, the holidays are coming.

Do you really think that the people working in an automobile factory that has a strong possibility of closing down in the next two months are going to give a second thought to your jurisdiction over online shows?

Our President-elect is telling us it's time for us to tighten our belts, that we all have to be prepared to sacrifice. Many folks will begin to wonder about your sense of duty if you're not willing to accept the same deal that all the other entertainment-related unions have gotten.

Look, I was one of you. I know that the majority of the SAG members are not making their living from their acting duties. This actually affects you even more negatively. Your waitress/messenger job may be in dire jeopardy if Hollywood does not continue to run. And of course, with a strike, you can take no day gig on Law & Order to see you through Christmas.

My regular readers know that I'm pretty much the picture of the bleeding heart liberal. However, nothing plugs that bleeding heart quicker than an over-inflated, bureaucratic union. I want to know how much that bureaucracy continues to rake in during a strike. I want to know why there can't be a stop-measure gap implemented that will keep the biz going through, say, 2010.

This is not the same country it was when the writer's strike happened, what, a year ago? We are a country that is getting back to the basics. This is a country where sometimes you can't tell the difference between a Repub or a Democratic pundit (on stations other than Fox News, that is). This is a country where we're finally having serious conversations about what government involvement should mean when it comes to actual issues that affect all of us. This is a country where my daughters get that the number of presents under the Xmas tree isn't nearly as important as the roof over our heads.

I fear that you're counting presents rather than recognizing the roof. There are NO venture capitalists to invest in your internet production company right now. There are NO internet folks that are willing (or able) to subscribe to entertainment that they can get for free on YouTube and other free online access right now. And there's almost no one out there (with the exception of me - and Kori, probably) without a video camera willing to create their own entertainment right now.

And make no mistake about the studios. Most are owned by larger conglomerates that have other possible sources of revenue. You can't think, for one minute, that they haven't factored in shutting down scripted productions. You can't believe that they won't quickly fill their prime-time schedules with more reality shows and news programs and shelved product they already own.

I'm not saying you're wrong, but for people that are in the business of perfecting timing, your timing couldn't be more off. And in the end, I fear that you (and the viewers that love you) will suffer the most.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Weekend Wrap-Up

I'm not even halfway through my Reader, and some of you have posted yet newer entries. STOP!! No, don't stop. I'll get to them. I hope.

I have winners to announce for my give-away. I used so these were not generated by me. Nonetheless, Kori, you won the planner. Suzie won the game. No one claimed the book for new dads (hmmm - on my single mommy blog? Whodda thunk) so the winner of that will be announced at a later date.

Yesterday was very very busy. And I don't mean catching up on my Reader. We went to see Bolt, which was thoroughly enjoyable. Riley didn't want to leave the house at first, but then she loved loved loved the movie. Later, we volunteered at the first Kids Day in Van Nuys.

The girls and I got an awesome job. We were to have kids sign a Volunteer Pledge (I had them put their hands over their hearts and repeat the words: I pledge to make my neighborhood a better place by donating my time to make a positive difference in my community.) and they'd get a very cool sticker. I loved it. I must've had 500 kids easy make that pledge. Just think if they actually did it!

The event was way more popular than anyone anticipated. Vendors ran out of food and goodie bags, it was crazy. But very very cool. (I took my camera, but totally forgot to take any pics.)

We came home exhausted but happy. The girls watched The Santa Clause and I watched Primal Fear - which I may or may not have seen before. I guess if I'm not sure, then if I had seen it before, it doesn't really count, right? That's two movies in one day. I don't think I've watched one full-length movie from beginning to end in 3 weeks.

Today, I really like the idea of not leaving the house.

Thanks to all of you who contributed to the Red Cross - and if you haven't and want to, there's a link on the left there. (There's also a link to contribute to the Repeal Prop 8 campaign. Just sayin'.) Nancy and her parents are doing okay. Nancy was thoroughly spent from a very, very long week, but will soon be off to celebrate Thanksgiving with her daughter in Alabama while her sis takes over the care-taking duties of the folks. They're moving into an assisted living care facility this weekend. We've given them some funds for some necessary shopping, but are saving half of it to help them have a great Xmas.

Does anyone else wish Thanksgiving and Xmas/Hannukah didn't fall in the same 30 days? Yet another reason to be glad that we're skipping the feast this year. And be very, very jealous, my internet friends. I get to meet Natalie this week. I cannot wait!

Also, I was very excited to learn that one of my LA Moms Blog posts got picked for syndication. It was picked up by the Sacramento Bee, in Philadelphia, in Idaho, North Carolina, and other places that I can't even remember right now. I was thrilled, to say the least.

I've also been honored to receive more blog awards. But really, this post is long enough, so those will wait for another day.

Okay, back to catching up on my Reader.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Random Thursday

Okay, so I've been completely terrible about keeping up with most of you. Mea culpa.

For some reason, I've spent more time doing things around the house than being on the computer. In the past three nights, I've done 6 loads of laundry, done some cleaning of the fridge, and other various odds and ends. If I didn't know that I'm not the virgin mary reincarnate, I'd swear I was nesting! So by the time I'm done with that, get the girls off to bed, and veg in front of The Daily Show, I've been spent and heading straight to bed myself. Before 11 pm! Unheard of.

Work has been consistently busy as well. I told RadDude yesterday that the only thing that actually works in the trickle-down theory is stress. The economy woes are freaking everybody out, and that's worked its way into our dept as well. We're all still getting along (because I work with the best people in the world), but there's been a lot to get done.

This auto industry bail-out thing is getting to me as well. It looks like it may not happen, but who knows? I feel really really bad for the millions of workers whose jobs are at stake, but at the same time, I'm really really pissed at the CEOs who didn't listen to us, who spent millions fighting the CA emission standards they refused to implement, the cars that they haven't built and yet are available in other parts of the world, the private jets that they're using to go to D.C....ugh. Very very frustrating.

No matter what, even if we let them fail, the people most affected will be the people farthest from the top, and that just sucks. There is no happy ending here. No matter what. The key is to figure out how to get through it that will have the best end result for the most people. I'm glad that's not my job!

I've gotten a couple of awards, and have more news, but mainly I just wanted to explain my lack of comments. I'm trying to get this done while waiting for Sylvia to get dressed and get the girls out to school.

I get SO tired of saying, "Sylvia, get dressed" every morning. Sixty times at least. Oh, well.

Things are basically good. We have a roof over our heads, today's payday, and I have a job. Looking around at what's happening, that's a whole lot!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Assistance Requested

Yesterday, I found out that my dear friend Nancy's parents' home was destroyed in the fire. They lived in the Oakridge Mobile Home Park, where 500 homes were lost. They left with the clothes on their back and, thankfully, their medications.

They're going to be fine. Nancy is incredibly impressed by their good spirits - but knowing Nancy, now I know where she gets it from. All of us at work are pitching in donations to help them get back on their feet.

However, they're just as worried about all their friends and neighbors that have lost everything. So I ask again, please donate $5, $10, whatever you can to help these families. Thank you.

Monday, November 17, 2008


I had a great, great time at the LA Moms Blog launch party! It was great to see Florinda again, and meet her sis Teresa. Also met some more fab moms. We were treated like queens. Complete with gifts for us rulers of the home.

Some of them, however, are not things we need or use so you get to reap the benefits!

Like the book: Crash Course for New Dads. Yeah, not something we'll use. Add a comment if you'd like to win this.

If you have a Nintendo DS player, the National Geographic Panda game might be of interest to you.

This planner that runs from Sept. 2008 to Jan. 2010 looks amazing - get this, it's got one tab for "work" and one for "life" to help you balance - but, alas, I've got my crackberry now. So for someone who loves office and organizational supplies, leave a comment and it could be yours.

I'll tell you more about our swag when I've had a chance to revel in them :)

Please specify which prize interests you, and I'll run a random drawing next Sunday to determine the winner. Be sure I have your email address so I can ship it to you!

Hope you all had a great weekend.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Weekend Wrap-Up

I've done a little housekeeping. If you don't see your blog listed, I tried to do it in a way where it would be cleaner, and feature blogs instead of just a whole enormous list. I hope this way works. I still want to do a re-design, but I'm not there yet.

Things are going well. We didn't stay too long at the rally yesterday - it was hot and crowded (yay!) and Riley wasn't up to it. But we stayed long enough to hear the Mayor come and voice his support, along with some others.

Unfortunately, all the fires overshadowed the news here, so I'm not sure how the rallies went nationwide. I'm glad we live so deep into the city so that I don't have to worry about personally being affected by the fires, but my heart goes out to all the families that have been. Particularly those living in the trailer homes that have been devastated. Because it's happening north and south of us, we can smell the smoke all over. I know the economy sucks right now, but if you have it and you'd like to help, I'd recommend a donation to the Red Cross. From what I hear, they're doing a great job in helping the victims.

Tonight, I'm very excited to be going to the LA Moms Blog launch party. Last night, I saw Spring Awakening, and really loved it. It's not perfect, but it's very original and unique in its presentation. And the music is simply gorgeous. One of the things they do a bit differently is have some audience members on stage. I had no desire to be one of those, but there was one mother and daughter - I don't know exactly how old she was, but no more than 13, I would guess. There's one scene where the characters - shall we say - bare all. I saw the mother quickly put her hand over her daughter's eyes. This will not be a musical my daughters will be seeing while it's in town! At the same time, it's quite an interesting way to open that discussion up. I just wouldn't want to be doing it onstage.

The girls have been with my parents since early yesterday evening. Sylvia is training with my dad to run a 5k in December, and then there's a family birthday party which I won't be attending because of the launch. I played last night, and have spent most of today getting some cleaning done. Now I'm just relaxing for a bit before I get ready for the launch party.

I'll have more news to update this coming week.

In the meantime, if I haven't been commenting a lot, I apologize. Things have been busier both at work and at home, and I just haven't been spending my downtime in front of the computer the way I used to. It's good in some ways, but I do feel bad about neglecting some great bloggy friends. I'll do my best to make up for that as time permits.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Weird, Spooky Thought

Julie asked about Xmas traditions. All of our traditions are wrapped up in my parents. It's SO important to my mother that we're all together on that day. When we lived in the East, we only made it to L.A. one year for Christmas. That was my favorite one in all my years living there because there was no snow :) and it was a gorgeous 80 degrees. It was awesome.

Christmases in L.A. are always spent at my parents' house. My kids are usually over there on Xmas Eve because my parents watch them during their winter break so I can save money. So my dad bakes cookies with the girls for Santa (even though my kids know the truth) and both my parents endure the Chipmunks holiday cd (hey - it's not MY fault they bought it) until I get there. Then we eat tamales while we switch the music to something I can bear, and the girls get to open 2 presents each - because they know that one of them will be pjs.

We get the kids up to bed as soon as we can, and my parents and I hit the alcohol. Wine, hot toddies, whatever. We wait until we're sure the kids are asleep, and then finish wrapping, and setting out presents. My dad eats the cookie and drinks the milk (okay, sometimes I help with the cookies). We drink and talk and eventually make our way up to bed.

The girls are up first, of course. My dad or I make the coffee, and we put on the same Xmas album we had when my sister and I were growing up. I insist upon it, actually.

The presents are opened, and then my dad makes popovers. We switched from a crown roast Xmas dinner to a popover breakfast a few years ago. My sister and her family usually comes up by the time the popovers are ready, and there is more unwrapping to be done. We hang out a bit, and then my sister and her family leave to go to her husband's family's house, and the girls and I pack up and go home to relax the rest of the afternoon and evening.

There have been many years when frankly, I'd rather skip the whole thing. I've had some rough holiday seasons in the past. I get stressed about money and obsess about it all, and it'd just be nice to just take the day off. (And you all know me well enough by now to know that ours is a purely secular - oh, let's face commercial - celebration of the day.)

But I always go through with it, and guess what? It's not for the kids. Sometimes I think my kids could do without expecting presents twice a year. Sometimes I think my kids would have a better day feeding the homeless. Sometimes I think my kids would most appreciate just spending quality time together. No, it's not for them that I continue to celebrate.

It's for my parents. It really does mean a lot to both of them to have us here, and to celebrate with us. They love spoiling the girls, and seeing them rejoice in it. They love having all of the family together, and I could never disappoint them by not being there ever again.

But what happens when they're gone? (This is where the "weird, spooky" part comes in.) What would Xmas be if my dad isn't there to make the cookies and popovers? Or my mom isn't there to stoke the fire and make pretty ribbons? And take pictures and make photo albums of it all?

They're not perfect, and we certainly have our share of problems. We disagree on a lot of things, so there's a lot we just don't talk about anymore.

But even with all of that, I still can't picture a Christmas without them.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Still Not Over It

I can't get over this Prop 8 thing. Anytime I read something about those who supported or voted for it, I just get mad all over again. Just now, it was an article about certain restaurants that contributed to the discrimination campaign. No more Burger King, Acapulco's or El Pollo Loco for us. Sylvia's bummed about Burger King, but she also doesn't want to give them our money.

I haven't been writing a lot lately because, frankly, this is the root of all I have to say lately. The majority of my conversations that aren't work-related have been about this. I know in my heart that we will win this. But I want to know how, and I want to know why, and I want to ensure that no one else - no other group of Americans - will have to fight for their equal rights as Americans.

To me, this is not a gay issue. In fact, I had to write to NPR to correct them that it wasn't just "gays and lesbians" protesting in Silverlake. There were several straight people that attended. This is a civil rights issue. This is about equal rights for all Americans.

If we hadn't enjoyed that for 5 months before November 4, I most likely would've been okay. But the fact that we stripped them away astounds and appalls me. I just don't understand that type of hatred. Sure, I bitched and moaned and whined throughout most of Bush's presidency, but this is different. That more people in our state decided to take rights away, gave money to take rights away, make up lies and exploit children to take rights'd be funny, if it weren't so tragic.

I know not all of my readers agree with me. In fact, I may have already lost those who disagree with me. But here's my thought: even if you don't agree with the concept of gay marriage, it is our patriotic duty to give equal rights to all Americans. If your disagreement with gay marriage has to do with your religion, it is important to remember that going down any road of religious persecution is a big, big mistake. Margaret and Helen said it best: no matter what your beliefs are, millions of people all over the world disagree with you. Yes. Millions. No matter what. Freedom to worship in our chosen way (or freedom not to worship) should be sacred to all of us. That is why separating the church and state is so essential to the well-being of all Americans.

There is much to celebrate, though. The movement that is happening is inspiring! If I didn't email you about the nationwide protests, check it out. Connecticut is now giving marriage licenses to gay couples. Many politicians are sending letters protesting discrimination to the courts. Even the Governator has told us to keep fighting! The artistic director at a reputable theatre company resigned after word spread like wild fire that he'd contributed to the discrimination campaign.

And I don't think any of this would be happening without Obama's election. He showed us that getting actively involved can make a difference.

It's all worth it for the day that WILL happen in the future where I can see the fruits of our efforts. And all of us, every single American, can finally enjoy equal rights.

Monday, November 10, 2008

What Obama's Victory Means to My Children

Tuesday night, as in many households, our family cheered and whooped and hollered like never before as we watched the election of Barack Obama. My daughters understood the historical significance, but there's something else - a very personal reason for each of them to consider Obama's victory a sign of hope for them.

We're not African-American - that wasn't it. We're not from Chicago, we have not been foreclosed upon, and we are fortunate to have health care and our health. In fact, it took me several days to truly understand the personal victory we felt that night. Barack Obama, our next president, was raised by a single mom.

I have an answer now to every "expert" or study that says my children would be better off in a 2-parent household. Well, I've always had an answer, which is no. We're better off without him. Even my children, albeit unhappily, would tell you that. But I have proof that being raised by a single parent does not have to be a barrier to anything they want to accomplish. Because a single mother raised our next President of the United States.

True, she had help. So do I. And I'd encourage any and every single parent out there to be brave enough to ask for all the love and support and help you can get. My daughters are better off undoubtedly because of my parents and extended family members. But even with that, and along with all the sacrifices mothers make every day for our children, there are some jobs, chores, decisions that are solely mine. And there's no one to run interference in a moment where I've had it. There's no one else who will take out the trash, dole out the discipline, or simply love and obsess over them the way I do.

I have cried many times about it. I have struggled with my own culpability in it. And I know in my gut that Obama's mother did, too. I'm sure she questioned herself, and cried her eyes out sometimes, and worried how deep the scars of his childhood would get.

This victory is a personal victory because it lifts all the shackles that society has been telling us single parenthood causes our children. My children are free to write their own stories, complete with mistakes and lessons learned. Their gender, their background, their mixed ethnicity will be what they make of it.

My mother was slightly appalled when she learned I was naming our first-born Sylvia. She thought it was an old lady's name. Minutes after holding Sylvia for the first time, I stated that she had already made it her own.

All of our children will make their futures their own. If Barack Obama can do it...well, you know.

Originally posted on LA Moms, Nov. 10, 2008.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Their First Rally

Last night, the girls and I headed down to Silverlake to take part in the demonstration against Prop 8. The girls wanted to go in honor of the family and friends they know were discriminated against by the passage of 8. I wanted to go in the name of equality for all.

Now I know protests alone don't win the fight, but I wanted to be around people who felt as we did. I wanted to yell and scream and make my voice heard. Turns out it was Sylvia's voice that got heard the most!

She led us in shouting "What do we want?" while we'd respond, "Equal rights!" She'd yell, "when do we want them?" and we'd yell "Now!" They even got her a megaphone for a while. Riley joined in a few times. Riley's favorite chant, however, was "hey, hey, ho, ho, bigotry has got to go!" She danced it out.

It's so basic to them. Equal rights for all. I've taught them all their lives that this country is about justice and equality for all. They know that minorities do not mean less than. The lawsuit that's being brought about touches on this issue: that it is fundamentally wrong to allow a majority to outclass a minority. That's like saying it's okay if we passed a proposition that no person in a wheelchair could hold office. Some things just aren't okay.

I also believe that the churches that lobby as heavily as the Utah church did must be taxed. Non-profit organizations are not allowed to campaign. If you would like to file your own complaint with the IRS, email me. I can send you the form and supporting evidence.

I was a little worried that the protest might get ugly, but it did not. Early on, we came across some opposing the protest, but we were far enough away from them (protected by many, many more anti-8 protesters) that there were no issues. Although, Sylvia wanted to know why we were chanting "Shame on you." And then she asked, "is it the Others?" Our friend answered, through laughter, "yes, it's the Others."

At one point, we passed the Children's Hospital, and they were waving to us. We switched the chant to "Get well soon!"

There were some awesome signs out. "Can I vote on your marriage?" and "Straight but not narrow-minded" are two I remember. We would also see people lined up and down the streets, standing out on balconies, holding up their signs in support of equal rights. From where we were, we couldn't see the beginning or the end of the march. I have since learned that there were an estimated 12,000 attendees. No arrests were made.

There's another rally today, but I think one is enough for the girls. We've said what we have to say, and I will continue to monitor the struggle, add my name to petitions, and whatever else I can do to see this discrimination thrown out.

One of our chants last night was "Si se puede/yes we can." We learned, through the election of Obama, that people can and do make a difference. Equal rights for all will prevail.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

More Equality Issues

I was reading a scathing review of the movie The Women in The New Yorker. The reviewer's major problem with it had to do with the lack of feminism, a critique heard about Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives, Ally McBeal...need I go on?

And then it hit me that last night another Judd Apatow-like movie was released. My guess is, like all the rest of them, it'll do well. Movies where men can be completely lazy, ignorant, pot-smoking losers that somehow get the girl, and no one is shouting about what's wrong with this.

I've heard men talk about these male stereotypes and how they're totally acceptable as if it's women that are the ones making the men seem like losers. I don't know the exact statistics on this, but I suppose that women are more okay with seeing movies like this because they won't have to listen to the men in their lives complain about seeing a "chick flick."

But the real difference between men and women? Anytime a woman enjoys something like Sex and the City, we're hurting the feminist cause. Anytime we try to laugh at ourselves, we're told we're not being progressive. Meanwhile, let's all go see Knocked Up. Chick lit is scoffed, women are afraid to even admit to each other what book they may curl up with at night.


I read this review on the heels of reading a profile of Spike Lee (I'm behind on my New Yorkers. But guess what? All caught up on Entertainment Weekly!). They discussed whether or not Obama is "black enough" and how ludicrous the idea is that one is only "black enough" if they're struggling in some ghetto, leaving behind their women and children while incarcerated.

So now I ask, how ludicrous is it to assume that because a few women like Cosmos and shoes means they don't give a crap about equality? Or worse, that the viewers don't? If I enjoy an episode of 90210 every now and then, that doesn't mean I miss work because of a bad hair day!

Equality also means being able to laugh at ourselves, being able to recognize that certain stereotypes may apply, but that we are full and complete people. I'm girly about spiders, but I can hook up the DVD player. I can lift heavy boxes, but don't ask me to change my own tire. The original 1939 film The Women is one of my favorites, but I hate shopping and jewelry.

The review of the remake (which I have yet to see) didn't focus on the actors or the scripts, but rather on the fact that the women are all rich and have nannies. Sounds to me like a pretty shallow review.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Much to celebrate. Unfortunately, this historic night is not all a celebration.

This historic night includes the first time I've seen the state of California actually ADD discrimination to our constitution, and I'm a bit sick about it.

I hope that something miraculous changes, and that I don't see this state that I love take such a huge step backwards, but Obama's election gives me hope that this will not stand. That progress, that hope, that treating people EQUALLY will prevail.

Yes, we can. And we WILL overcome this obstacle.

*I've amended this post as I listened to Obama's speech again. This is a setback. We'll be okay. I will allow myself this joyful time.*

Monday, November 3, 2008

Homework Free Election Night

I just heard about this and think it's a great idea. As concerned citizens - no matter which party/candidate you support - we should request our teachers make Election Day a homework free night so that we can discuss and participate in election results as a family.

Personally, I support making Election Day a national holiday, but we're not there yet. The least we could do is have Tuesday night free for family discussions on elections and democracy.

I'm emailing my daughters' teachers after posting this.

(sorry about the double post today - this was just too important to me not to pass on.)

Beware Google AdSense

I am SO furious right now. I saw on another blogger's site that the Google AdSense was showing a "Yes on Prop 8" ad - even though her posting had NOTHING to do with gay marriage, Prop 8, matrimony...nothing. So I decided to check what my Google AdSense was saying. Sure enough, it had a Yes on Prop 8 thing.

Um, hello?!? Anyone see my big button for NO on Prop 8?!?

So I've taken my Google AdSense off my site. Just a heads up.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Weekend Wrap-Up (and my first confession)

Wow. I mean, just wow. It's been so so crazy lately, I don't know how to wrap this up. So forgive me my therapeutic post, but I could really use it.

At last some pics from Riley's bday at Disneyland last weekend:

So that was last weekend. Then, there was the cruise that my sis and I went on, which rocked, but since I haven't asked my sis if it's okay to post pics, I won't.

The week got off to a bad start when I went to pick up Sylvia on Monday after cheer practice, and she wasn't there. We had completely forgotten that she had her cheer camp at one of the local high schools this week. She went, but she didn't bother to call me to tell me that I was to pick her up at 5 (instead of 4:15) at the high school (instead of her school). It was the beginning of many arguments to come between Sylvia and I this past week. (Given the stance I took last week, I feel like I have to come clean on some of this.)

I partially blame the people running the cheer camp, as we never got a firm schedule on this, and I realize that Sylvia's still young - but at the same time, I just have to know where she is and when. Bottom line.

Similar problems ensued throughout the week due to both the lack of communication from the cheer camp as well as Sylvia. And my patience wasn't what it should be.

Meanwhile, Riley and I have continued to battle over homework every night. I realized mid-week that part of the problem lies with my own resentment over the fact that I feel like her teacher isn't very effective. The homework still isn't very inspiring, and sometimes Riley's lack of understanding makes me question just what's going on in the classroom every day. But that's not our only issue. The other issue is Riley herself: even when she knows the answer, she gets distracted SO easily that unless I'm standing over her the whole time, barking "Riley, homework!" it doesn't get done.

But I'm also trying to make dinner, or do the dishes, or throw in a load of laundry, or have a conversation with Sylvia. Those household chores are about as much as I can get done during the week. There are still many many more to be done, and we haven't been home often enough during the weekends for me to get them done. So I'm feeling incredibly overwhelmed by what I need to get done.

A constant struggle this week was figuring out what was happening on Friday, aka Halloween, aka Sylvia's bday, aka Sylvia's performance for her cheer camp at the high school football game.

First things first. Costumes for the day. Sylvia made an amazing Queen Elizabeth:

(see what I mean about needing to get other housework done? Please ignore all the crap on the ground there. Here, I'll help with a close-up)

Riley was Scarlett O'Hara:

But as I watched her in her school parade, she looked more to me like a prostitute from a Western - I think it's the black lace gloves:

And as we got closer to the big day, the girls reversed their earlier "no trick or treating" decision. Okay, but when are we going to do it? Sylvia was told they could go around the neighborhood after she checked in, but it turned out they were escorted directly to the stands for the game.

So here's a little note about how our kids open us up to new things: this was the first high school football game I've ever attended. Come to think of it, my first football game ever.

Sylvia had an awesome time cheering. She did a great job (of course!), but it was a long night. Riley really got into it for the first half, but after the half-time show, she was done. But the 3rd quarter was when Sylvia was cheering with the high school cheerleaders. So we had to stick that out. Longest 12 minutes of Riley's life.

I feared a big scene with Sylvia, as we didn't end up getting released until almost 9 pm, and I believe it's bad form to knock on anyone's door after 9 pm. So there was a big sigh of relief on my part when Sylvia immediately said, "I want to go home."

They did get candy from their schools, the Boys & Girls Club so they weren't completely deprived. But Sylvia wanted to come home and play with her presents, most particularly the Fashion Design Studio I got her. (Both of the girls questioned their father on where their presents were from him. They didn't really get an answer.)

Saturday, the plan was to go see High School Musical 3 and go roller skating later. After, I was to take them to my parents' house to spend the night (yay!) and my dad was going to take them running so Sylvia could train for the 5k she's running in December. Well, we made it to HSM3, which we all enjoyed (I'm such a geek - I got all teared up at the end), but then the girls started to fall apart - and I totally fell apart.

Then, we found out roller-skating didn't start until 8 pm, so my parents suggested that we go Sunday instead. Well, that just about did it for Sylvia. So I called my parents and said, "can you take them now?"

I took the girls to their house around 6 pm, and I'll be meeting them at the roller skating rink this afternoon. Sylvia still wasn't happy about it, but I told her, I just didn't see how we were going to survive the next 24 hours without a break from each other.

So, I didn't try to drive them to Nevada, but I gave up for a while. I came home, and while doing 4 loads of laundry, I watched girlie tv (namely, 4 episodes of The Starter Wife) and went to bed at eleven.

Today, I'm getting some things done around the house. The crap at the bottom of Sylvia's pic is now gone. I'm all caught up on laundry. I still have to vacuum, sweep, mop, etc., but since I got up at seven (thanks, end of DST), I still have a few hours before my free time is up.

I hope this will be enough to re-focus all of us, but most particularly, me. I'm not so naive to not know that it all starts with me.

I need to stop falling apart when they fall apart. I need to suck it up and deal. I need to step up my game, and hand out some tough consequences. I need to raise the standards, and demand more responsibility. And I need to make sure I take care of myself so that I have the energy to do so.

The truth is, the real Scarlett O'Hara lately has been me. I've been leaving a lot of things to think about tomorrow. There simply are no tomorrows left. Carpe diem must be my new mantra.