Friday, January 30, 2009

Yes, my middle-schooler has a cell phone

really didn't think I'd be one of those moms who let my 10-year-old have and use a cell phone. Sylvia started asking for one back when she was in 3rd grade...because, of course, "all the other kids have one." The answer was no, absolutely not.

Not long after that, when Sylvia was in 4th grade, we got offered the opportunity to take part in Beta-testing a phone. We would get the phone and one month of service for free. I decided, what the heck?

However, I set down some ground rules. She wasn't allowed to take it anywhere. She could only use it with my permission. She was not to text at all (lesson learned from a colleague whose daughter had managed $700 worth of texts in one month).

Sylvia followed all of the rules. The plan was inexpensive, so we decided to keep it.

For the first year, she almost never used it. She had my phone numbers plugged into her contacts, as well as some other family members, but she mainly used it for the video, pics, and games (we have no video game players or consoles in the house - that's one I've managed to keep out).

When Sylvia started a new school in 5th grade, there was no after-school care available on school grounds so she was picked up after school by a local after-school club. Because it was going to be a new experience, and I was nervous about it, I allowed her to take her phone to school, but only to call me if there was a problem. And one time there was.

She started using the phone a bit more regularly after that, but mostly to call me. And not just when there was a problem. She would call to tell me about an after-school activity she wanted to do. She would call me to tell me exciting news. She would call to tell me about a bad day. She would call to ask what time I was picking her up. She would call with a change in the schedule. And sometimes, she just called to tell me she loved me.

There are still strict rules, and the older she gets (she's now in 6th grade), I have to remind her a little bit more about the rules. Sometimes she does text, but mostly it's to tell me she loves me. I have the capability to restrict her phone as needed online. But she will always have a phone now. Because there's nothing cooler than having your kid call just to say hello.

Originally posted on LA Moms, Jan. 30, 2009.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I'm Home

I thought I would spend time yesterday catching up on my Reader, but it just didn't happen. I will start up again slowly.

I had a great time. It was pretty much everything I wanted in a vacation. The only bummer was that, even though it was 80 degrees two days before, and will be 80 degrees again tomorrow, the weather wasn't so hot during the actual trip. But there was still plenty to keep me busy and plenty of time to just veg, too. My friends, J and L, and I had a really nice time. There was lots of drinking (of course), not quite as much sleeping as we anticipated, but a whole lot of laughter.

We loved meeting different people. We hung out with everyone from the Red Hat Ladies to the guys there for a bachelor party - people from Long Beach to Ohio. Well, we hung out with everyone that didn't bring their kids on board. J, a fellow single mom, and I resented those people.

For the most part, however, very few people knew I was a single mom or how old we were or what we do off the ship. We were just 3 females, having a good time. I loved that part of it.

I spent time at a piano bar, singing along and shouting out requests (and I even sang a solo at one point). I made daily trips to the jacuzzi. I drank a lot of alcohol, but never felt I had lost all control. We laughed when the ship got rocky on our last night and walking became an adventure regardless of our level of sobriety. We laughed with people, and yes, we laughed at people. We flirted with staff members, we found times to be quiet and solitary (I read for a couple of hours straight, which I never get to do), we ate - but not too much. We didn't make it off the ship on our day at port, but we needed that time to decompress. We had fun annoying our dining neighbors (who didn't like they were having nearly as much fun as we were). We danced, did shots, and read trashy mags.

I have a lot of great memories, and I didn't go broke making them, which was a relief. We hope to plan another one for Spring of next year, we had so much fun.

I took most of yesterday to catch up on my West Wing re-runs (I started having withdrawals towards the end), and doing housework. The girls were SO happy to see me when I picked them up on Monday, and we spent some quality time cuddling that evening.

And now, it's definitely back to reality, but that's okay, too.

And even though I haven't read any of you in a while, you've all been in my thoughts, and I look forward to finding out what you've been doing, thinking, feeling.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Out of Office Reply

April will be inebriated on a cruise ship from Fri. Jan 23 to Mon. Jan. 26, and in recovery on Tues. Jan 27, and will not be able to coherently reply to emails during that time. Should you receive any emails from April while drunk, please disregard and she will respond in a more appropriate manner on Wed. Jan. 28.

Thank you!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Taking a Break

Hey all,

It's been quiet around here, I know. My thoughts are too scattered to actually post anything worthwhile. Everything's fine - well, not everything, but enough - I just can't get motivated to take any random thoughts and turn them into something coherent.

I also got bored with the look of my blog, as you can see.

I may do a weekend wrap-up or I may not. I know I've been visiting less and less, too. Sorry about that.

I think I need to take a break, but I'm scared! I'm scared you won't be here when I return. Promise to not delete me?

I'll still visit from time to time so don't leave completely. Please.

See? Even this post is all over the place!

Monday, January 12, 2009


Julia at Sometimes Lucid has challenged me to name 10 favorite things that start with the letter "W." Well, you all know what the first one will be:

1. Wicked - yes, I've seen it six times. Given the opportunity (and funds), I'd see it again. The show's not perfect, but it's pretty darn close.

2. Wizard of Oz - I'm sure some of my love for Wicked has to do with The Wizard of Oz being my favorite movie when I was growing up.

3. Working - Sure, it's hard to balance working and motherhood, but I enjoy the challenges that work provides me. You know why? Because it's easier than motherhood! The duties are more clear-cut, and the people at my job anyway are just too great for words. I have no desire to take over the world through my work, but I enjoy what I do and I'm grateful for the opportunities I've been given here.

4. the Web - seriously, how did people do it before the Innernetz, as Dingo likes to say? I have a vague recollection of my life before the Web, and all I can think is, I was SO deprived!

5. the water - I'm most looking forward to watching the waves lap against the ship when I go in 11 days. While I can't go longer than 3 days in a row without seeing land, I loved being out on that vast ocean when I worked on a cruise ship. I loved listening to the water and being rocked to sleep.This is probably some indication of my still not being ready to leave the womb, and how immature I am, but I don't care. I still love it.

6. Whatever - I've written about this before, but for me, it's still a new experience to learn not to care about certain things. Things or people over which I have no control. I'm frankly proud of myself whenever I can let it go.

7. Words - I struggle with finding the right ones - and don't always succeed - but I love the power that words can have to inspire, to change the world. Yes, I really do believe that.

8. Wine - Either curled up on my sofa watching a good movie, or enjoyed with friends. Can't beat a good bottle of red.

9. The West Wing - yep. I'm still obsessed.

10. Warmth - I love being warm, I love the warmth of a fire, the warmth while cuddling with my girls and/or cat, and the warmth of friends.

If you'd like to play, let me know, and I'll pick a letter for you!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Weekend Wrap-Up

Back to school, back to work, back to regular life. I'm pretty glad, actually.

Riley had a great week with PE - yay! And while not without some problems, she also stayed on top of her homework, and felt good about her oral book report on Friday. The downside was she broke her glasses, but it wasn't her fault. She got hit with a ball at recess. And she's had these glasses for a year - I think that's a new record for her!

Sylvia has finals next week. She seems pretty confident about them. She had a good week, overall, but not such a great week in cheerleading. The popularity problems seem to be alive and well in junior high cheer. But it seems to just solidify her decision to only do it this year. That works for me.

Last night, we went on a backstage tour of Wicked - something we've been meaning to do for months, but of course, ended up waiting until the last minute since it closes today. I have a friend in the cast who showed the girls around. I was totally impressed by Riley's questions, and memory of the show, since it's been a while since she's seen it - and she's only seen it once. I know this sounds just like a mother talking, but man, the girl is bright and curious and she was very polite and followed all of the rules. I was less surprised to see how much Sylvia remembered. She's almost as obsessed with the show as I am! She was thrilled to be there, and felt very special. We all had a good time.

Work was back to being busy, but not hectic. It's nice to be back in the rhythm.

The bad news of the week is that my tension headaches were getting so bad that I felt nauseous most of Wed. I went to a chiropractor on Thursday, and will be going back again on Mon. He says the problems are mainly due to that "sitting in front of a computer all day" posture. My shoulders are rounding, and causing back and neck problems that are leading to the headaches. He's suggested weight training, so I finally know what I'll be doing at the gym. My friend will be going with me once a week so I think it'll be fun as well as helpful.

The girls are going bike-riding with my parents this afternoon (my dad's Christmas present to the girls was custom-made bikes), and I'm having lunch with a friend while they're gone. (Like a real grown-up!)

Tonight, we're back on our regular Sunday schedule: making the lunches, readying the backpacks, laying out clothes for tomorrow...other than getting up early, I think we're all glad to be back to normal.

And there's much to look forward to in the coming weeks. As you'll see, that countdown to the cruise is getting mighty close. I'm starting to really look forward to it.

Of course before that, we'll have the inauguration. I've moved on emotionally to my problem with it, and am focusing on all the positives about it. I know he won't be perfect, and that I won't agree with him on everything, but I also don't believe that I'll be counting down the days until he leaves office like I am with W! The end is just as worth a celebration as the beginning.

I'd also like to give a shout-out to Jessica Gottlieb, a known (gasp) Republican that will be hosting an inauguration event. I know she's gotten some flak for this, and what she really deserves is applause. She reminds me that nothing is lost by keeping an open mind.

And a thank you to all of you that took the time to write such thoughtful comments on my LA Moms post this past week. I loved reading all of your different perspectives, and appreciate you sharing them with me. Not to mention all of your support with my last post here. You feed my soul, and make it so much easier to bear the fools of the world, and put them in their proper perspective.

Okay, before I start blubbering about how much I love you guys ('cuz you already know I do), I'll hit the publish post button.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Thank a Single Mother

There's a certain bitch out there who says single mothers are the cause of crime. She wants me to name her and to link to her stupid book, but I'm not going to do it. If you really want to know, you'll find it with a simple Google search. But I would appreciate it if you don't name the bitch here.

Yeah, I'm calling her a bitch. If that offends you, then you'll understand a bit how I feel. You'll understand a taste of the offense and hurt and anger that I'm experiencing that instead of acknowledging how hard single mothers are trying, how much we struggle with every day, how we try to fill the absences in our children's lives, instead this bitch decides to blame US for the fact that the childrens' fathers aren't around. That she decides it's OUR fault that the sperm donors won't pay us our child support, that they won't be responsible enough for us to trust them around our children, that they haven't even CALLED their children in the new year.

In the meantime, people are giving this woman money to hear her blame me. While I struggle to keep up with the monthly bills. While I sit with my daughter and help her with her spelling homework. While I wash their clothes and their dishes and make their lunches and get them up and dressed to school every day and comb their hair, and help them clean their room, and talk to them about their friendship dramas, and their fears and their hopes and their dreams, and I dole out their medicine when they're sick, and read to them, and scold them, and reward them, and constantly wonder and worry whether or not the decisions I'm making them will be the ones that will help them be productive, caring members of society in ten years.

Yeah. It's all my fault.

*P.S. Just to clarify, she doesn't know me personally (or even virtually, I'd imagine), but I still take personal offense to her words since she's talking about single moms in such a manner.

Life in a Word

won posted her word. So, of course, I had to find out mine.

I think it's pretty appropriate.

Your Word is "Think"

You see life as an amazing mix of possibilities, ideas, and fascinations.

And sometimes you feel like you don't have enough time to take it all in.

You love learning. Whether you're in school or not, you're probably immersed in several subjects right now.

When you're not learning, you're busy reflecting. You think a lot about the people you know and the things you've experienced.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Question of Beauty

I love how much my oldest daughter can find the beauty and reason to compliment everyone. I never taught her this, but she instinctively finds something on someone to admire. From the baseball hat they're wearing to their earrings. She sees the beauty in everyone. It's always been something I admire about her.

Until the day we were passing a not-so-nice neighborhood with one of those big billboards promoting a gentlemen's club. With a picture of a woman dressed more like Penthouse than Playboy. And my ever-so-complimentary daughter said, "she's pretty!" I was horrified (and thankful she couldn't see my face).

I opened my mouth to try and stop the admiration, but I stopped myself. Is it right to teach her to judge this woman harshly?

In my version of feminism, we all stick together. In my version, the "mommy wars" should cease. Women in the workplace should support and encourage each other to break the glass ceilings together. I don't care if you bottle or breast-feed, I trust you to make the right decision for you and your baby. And if a woman truly chooses to work in a field where her body is considered an asset, so long as she's not being harmed, forced or coerced, it's her life and her choice.

At the same time, I certainly don't want that for MY daughter. I want her to use her mind to get ahead in the world, and yet enjoy being a woman - when the time comes. I don't want her to emulate that sort of attire or lifestyle. I want her to know that she is beautiful so long as she is healthy and kind to others.

But there's that dilemma: how do I teach her to be kind to others and still want better for herself?

Luckily, we were on a freeway, and in the time that all of this was going through my head, the girls had moved on to an entirely different conversation, and the moment passed. Did I let it slip away? I don't know. Maybe I'm just not ready for her to turn judgmental. Maybe it's better that I kept that judgment to myself.

Originally posted on LA Moms, January 7, 2009.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Ma'am sucks

I hate being called "ma'am." My mother hates being called "ma'am." My sister hates being called "ma'am." I've read other bloggers talk about how they hate being called "ma'am."

I specifically changed my dental hygienist because he insisted on calling me that. I asked him to stop, and he kept doing it. He was brought up that way. I understand it's supposed to be polite, but it offends me. Okay, maybe offends is too strong a word, but it does make me tense at the very least.

On the other hand, I call women of all ages "Miss" all the time, and none have seemed to mind.

However, I understand that this may be a difficult habit to break, and some may not approve of calling women "Miss." (I won't get into the "Ms." thing.)

So here's my proposal: how about actually saying the entire word, the way it was meant to be said. I don't mind being called "Madam." It sounds grand. Especially if pronounced "ma-DAHM" rather than "MA-dim." (Yes, it's April's own form of phonetic spelling. ) But really, either way is fine.

So, mothers (and fathers) of sons, if you're teaching your sons to be polite, go all the way! Don't teach them the abbreviated version. Go for that second syllable! My mother thanks you, my sister thanks you, and I thank you.

Monday, January 5, 2009

An Interview with Me(Me)

I'm stealing the questions from Kori.

1. If you could have one wish granted for 2009, what would it be..??
To keep my job. Really, all I can ask for at this point is the opportunity to continue to care for my kids.

2. What do you find the best thing about being a sole parent..??

That my X has no legal rights whatsoever to my kids. I make all the decisions without having to talk to him, fight with him, convince him, or involve him in any way.

3. ...and the most difficult..??
Making all the decisions alone. And that he still gets the title of "Daddy." A post of Laura's
got me thinking about that. He doesn't care for them financially, emotionally, physically, in any way whatsoever. So why does he get to go around calling himself a father, and the kids still call him "Daddy?" Just one of life's little injustices, I guess.

4. What is the one vice you have that you could never give up..??
Coffee. One time, I was supposed to go in for some tests, and my doctor realized after months had gone by without my doing so that it was because I was supposed to have nothing whatsoever. She made some changes and told me I could have black coffee before the tests. I remain eternally grateful!

5. Where or when do you feel most at peace..??
At home when the girls are asleep, and my cat is following me to bed. The coffee maker is set to brew in the a.m., the dishes are in the dishwasher, the lunches are made, the backpacks are ready for the next day, and the clothes are set out. It's the one routine that I have down consistently because it helps so much the next morning.

I know, I'm supposed to offer to interview you, but now that we're back in the full swing of things, I can't commit to that. Instead, feel free to steal the questions if you'd like.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Weekend Wrap-Up

I think I'm finally starting to feel like writing again.

This past week was, for the most part, peaceful. There was enough to do at work so it wasn't completely boring, and our boss thinks we'll get busier this month, which is practically reason to celebrate! I haven't been too concerned about my job, but of course, given the economy, I've certainly paused and wondered. I am, without a job, totally screwed. The raise in rent means that I've basically put no money away in months, and savings was a thing of the past about a year ago. So, while I've been trying to find ways to cut down my expenditures (and haven't been too successful -after all, the girls still need food, and Sylvia can't seem to stop growing!), the necessity of a job - well, it can't be stressed enough. And I know that nothing is certain, but it's better in the long run for me to just stop worrying already, and just hold on to the hope that he's given us that our jobs aren't going anywhere. For now, at least.

I've been off since New Year's Eve, and the girls and I have been both productive and lazy. New Year's Eve itself was uneventful. The girls fell asleep around 10, and I watched my West Wing reruns that I'm currently hooked on, and went to bed soon after the ball dropped. We did a big cleaning of their room on Friday. And we've played a lot of "Whoonu," this game we were given as a present. It is pretty fun. You try and guess the other family members' most favorite things on the cards dealt (things like sailboats and mayonnaise). Sylvia and I got a great laugh out of the cards we discarded for Riley as four of my favorite things: coffee, Starbucks, talking politics, and online shopping! (No, I'm not a shopaholic but I did most of my Xmas shopping online since I hate malls.) And we are learning things about each other. Like I wasn't sure whether or not to pick musicals for Riley. I know I love musicals, and that Sylvia loves musicals, but did she actually love them as well? She gave an unqualified yes!

Yesterday, we went to a family member's graduation party. SUCH good food! Tacos, rice, bean dips galore, and they'd rented this really awesome Margarita machine that looks like a slurpee machine from 7-11. The girls had a great time playing with their cousins.

But I confess, there's been a layer of melancholy that's been with me for most of the week. Some of it is caused by some of the events that have occurred lately. The Santa massacre that left 12 orphans who will have the memories of this Christmas Eve to contend with the rest of their lives. The tragedy of John Travolta's son's death - I'm not a big fan of his, but I can't help but feel sympathy, especially for the sister who has lost her brother. The Israeli/Hamas "conflict." And relatives of bloggers who are suffering. And friends of friends of friends. All of this forced merriment that doesn't stop the pain and suffering; indeed, seems to compound it.

And then there's my own crap. I look around and see all the things that I still need to do. Just everyday life stuff that never ends seems overwhelming right now, and all I want to do is sit on my couch and knit and watch West Wing reruns. Next week, it's back to fighting with Riley about homework, picking up Sylvia from cheerleading, and no time for fun until the weekends.

But then I watched "Waitress" last night. At one point, the lead character asks another, "are you happy?" And his basic answer is, "happy enough." And a light bulb went off in my head. I have a job I enjoy, co-workers I love to see every day, two girls who are for the most part happy and healthy, friends that mean the world to me, a roof over my head, and reasons to smile and laugh every day. Yeah, that's enough. I'm happy enough.