Sunday, February 28, 2010

The SVMoms Group Event

There is so much to digest from Sunday's event! Lots of knowledge, lots of great women, lots of products, and I haven't even tried them all yet!

To start from the beginning, thanks to Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel for hosting the event. If you've looked at the Whrrl story, you'll see this is quite an amazing setting!

Thanks to Kimberley Clayton Blaine for talking to us about vlogging. I really appreciated her advice when I spoke to her later about my own insecurities about it, and she didn't push me to do anything that makes me uncomfortable! I was fully expecting a "get over it" response, but she reminded me that these are our spaces, and we should do what we want to do with them.

Still, you may be seeing more video here of the kids or other events.

Especially now that I won the drawing for an iPod Nano, thanks to Ebates!

But back to the order of events. After the vlogging conference, Momfluential - an amazing woman with a way with words that I adore - led a discussion on Brands and Bloggers, with input from the PR folks there for the event. What stood out for me was that, as always, communication is key. And of course, staying true to oneself.

I won't be talking about some of the products because they don't apply to our family. It's not a good or bad thing; I just don't need a stroller with my 9 and 12 year old daughters! You can find a more complete listing of companies at Tiny Oranges. But please read all about the products I adore, am coveting, and yes, even my not-so-great opinions.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Just post already

I keep trying to think of something specific, have a train of thought, but then those posts end up on LA Moms Blog or Parentella, and this space lies sadly dormant. And I miss it!!

So here goes: just a rambling post of whatever.

I had my first Parent Committee meeting for the girls' after-school program last night, and I'm totally excited about the possibilities. We're going to set up Family Fun Nights; chances for the parents and children to all get together, and our first one will be to make cards and letters for the soldiers in Iraq.

What was crazy (in a good way) was that of the 6 parents there, 5 of us were single parents!

At the event on Sunday, I got to talk to sweatpantsmom and Los Angelista about education, and particularly, arts high schools. While I think our first choice for Sylvia remains the same, I'm aware of more options now. I *love* hanging out with smart women that I admire so much!

I've received some amazing feedback on my latest Parentella post. I particularly appreciated the teacher who called it a "must read for all parents and teachers."

I haven't talked about this here because I wanted to wait for some real news to report, but it looks like there won't be any. I dangled my feet in the home-purchasing water and have gone back to my original belief that it's just not right for me. While there are a few condo possibilities that would be in my purchasing price range, I have no down payment. I have no security blanket. I think the pressure would just be too much for me. Not to mention, I think it's about a year too early for us to think about moving again. It would be easier to consider it next year when the girls will be graduating from their schools and moving on to the next level (OMG, that's just a year away), and besides, I don't know yet where Sylvia will be going to high school so it might be too early to plant myself anywhere anyway. But by next year, SoCal prices, I'm sure, will be back out of my range and I'll be paying rent for the rest of my life. No harm, no foul.

I took Jan. off from budgeting, but I've come back full force in Feb. It was rather depressing at first to discover that I've been living beyond my means for so long, and I got a bit panicked about how I'm going to justify paying for summer child care that I really can't afford, but I'm hoping that by paying more attention, I'll figure this thing out.

And that's all I can squeeze out before my brain starts to hurt.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I confess

I can be a problem parent.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Weekend Wrap-Up: LA Moms Blog and BitDefender host a great party

More check-ins at Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel
Powered by Whrrl

Don't really have the brain power right now to write coherently, so please enjoy the pics and catch up on the party at Twitter #svmomsbitmoms.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

10 Things I'd Rather Do

Female2Female's Blog Challenge
this week is 10 Things, any 10 things. I picked 10 Things I'd rather do than date!

1. Spend time with the girls. I spent VDay with the two loves of my life.

2. Work. I love my job, I love the people I work with. The work challenges me, and I've got smart, supportive mentors that are there for me and I enjoy their company.

3. Spend time with friends. Lunch, coffee, dinner, hanging out, laughing, talking...nothing like friends.

4. Spend time online. Whether it's blogging, reading blogs, Twitter, Facebook, I love surfing and seeing where it leads.

5. Belt my favorite musical numbers. I love singing just for singing's sake. While the girls do homework, and I make dinner, we've got the iPod going, and we all break out in song :)

6. Read. While lately I haven't been feeling it to read anything too deep, I love losing myself in the written word. As Sondheim said in Passion, "I read to dream."

7. Sleep. Because I'm old.

8. Spend a weekend on a cruise ship. All the fun of companionship, without the awkward parts.

9. See a Broadway show. Duh.

10. Watch The Daily Show. All the laughter without worrying what I'm wearing!

I could easily come up with another 10, at least!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I believe in musicals

I've been reading This I Believe, a compilation of the NPR series, and have been inspired to write my own essay.

I believe that all of life's answers can be found in musicals. Mostly Sondheim musicals, but some others as well.

I've often said that the theatre is my cathedral, so it shouldn't be surprising to learn that I truly believe in the life's lessons learned in experiencing the human condition through one of our greatest art forms.

Now before I lose everybody because you think you don't like musicals (that is, if I haven't already), I have to say, that statement is about as valid as saying you don't like all movies!

There are many, many different types of musicals. While I like more than your average Jane, I can't say I love them all. I love the ones that say something about us.

It wasn't until Into the Woods, however, that I truly began to understand how musicals spoke to me about what I believed.

Sondheim took fairy tales and changed their messages by adding a 2nd act about what happens after Happily Ever After. I cannot listen to this cast recording or watch the DVD without learning something new. More than anything, it reminds me that our schemas are not always based in truth; that it's worth exploring what we think we believe when confronted with information that does not coincide.

Wicked taught me that the most powerful relationships don't have to be romantic or relative; we learn from everyone that we meet in our lives and when we're lucky, we have friends that hold a special place in our heart.

Avenue Q
taught me that "everything in life is only for now." That has gotten me through the darkest hours of these past 5 years. Every time I start to wonder if I actually can make it through this, I turn on "For Now" and I remember all of the times I previously thought I wouldn't make it through, and I did. It is how I know that every emotion has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Rent reminds me that whenever I feel like no one gets me, we all have a community. I have several communities; theatre friends, work friends, online friends, lifelong friends. Sometimes, I just need to reach out to another network.

In the Heights taught me that you can change the world by serving your community.

I believe in music. I believe that characters that feel something so deeply have to sing it. And sometimes, I do, too.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

We had "the talk"

My 12-year-old has reached the point of no return. It was time to discuss intercourse. Not to sound too naive; it wasn't our first conversation on the subject, but it was the first where we discussed more than just abstinence and pregnancy.

It came after watching The Pregnancy Pact together. I'm proud to say she was horrified at the thought of actually wanting to get pregnant during high school, and while she tried to reassure me that she will NOT be doing that while in high school, I didn't want to leave it at just that. We discussed options, we discussed condoms, we discussed STD's.

Shortly thereafter, I read the MSNBC article about Abstinence ed, minus the morals, may work. While no one should be convinced by one sole study, I can't help but think that this approach of talking about both abstinence and safe sex makes logical sense.

I could easily have agreed with my daughter, and admonished "you better not!" after her vow of celibacy, but I didn't. I've grown accustomed to thinking about consequences, and I didn't want her to one day not tell me that she'd broken her vow for fear of my disappointment. I didn't want her to face the consequences of that all by herself.

While we certainly have our fair share of verbal spats because she's an adolescent and I'm the mom, we still talk a great deal. I need to do my part if I have any hope that she'll still talk to me when she's 16.

So I talked to her about all of it. About all of the options. About all of the possible consequences of such decisions. And I did tell her that if she changes her mind, I want her to talk to me or another adult about it. I try to make room for the possibility that she might not want to talk to me about such things, but she also has the numbers of her aunts, uncles, and trusted family friends in her cell phone.

What was especially weird about it was how it wasn't weird at all. Neither of us were embarrassed, and she asked questions so I know she wasn't just thinking, "please let this be over soon" the whole time! It was a conversation, not a lecture. She even felt comfortable enough to admit her own insecurities that no one will ever like her. And I got to just hold her, while she found comfort in my arms. And I was comforted that she still needs her mom every now and then.

Originally posted on LA Moms Blog, Feb. 16, 2010.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Education is stuck in the past

Today, I've got a bit of a rant up at Parentella.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My love letter to Jon Stewart and The Daily Show

Dear Jon,

Oh, dear, dear Jon. In the darkest political days, I can count on you (if you're not on hiatus) to make me smile.

When I hear of a new political drama, I think of you first, dear Jon. I hope that you'll be on to give me your take on the latest big speech, or the newest political "star" making the rounds on every morning news show.

You give great interview. I confess, I've watched your interview with Jim Cramer again and again. And again. And when it's your turn to be the interviewee, you still give great interview. I love a man who can both give and take.

I love watching the cable news through your eyes. Oh, those eyes. (And thanks, btw, for reminding me that Chris Matthews is white.)

I confess, I will be a little lonely this Valentine's Day. Because it's on a Sunday, and you're probably taking Monday off, too, and I won't be able to spend my Valentine's night with you.

Ooh, I just remembered! I still haven't seen Thursday's episode! I take that back, dear Jon.

I'll be spending almost a half hour curled up with my Valentine (via my remote) after all.

Happy Valentine's Day. To you and your wife and your kids. And all those "pinheads" that work on The Daily Show.


Check out Selfish Mom for more Jon Stewart love
Photo: StockXchang/dahl

Monday, February 8, 2010

Discussing parental involvement

I forgot to mention, I'll be writing for Parentella once a week now. Today, I'm asking, "What should parental involvement mean?"

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Weekend Wrap-Up

By the time I get used to 5-day workweeks again, it'll be time for the 3-day President's Day weekend!

We had our PTA meeting last week, and I'm excited that we're planning two fundraisers that actually aren't for our children. One will be a Hop for Haiti jump-a-thon, and the jog-a-thon will benefit Children's Hospital. I'm glad that we're still doing them, despite being told that the District's budget for the next school year is $6 million short, and more pink slips will be given. The CA PTA is planning a rally at the Capitol to coincide with this year's convention. I won't be going, and while I applaud their efforts, at the same time, I am growing more and more concerned about how much focus is being turned away from the actual education of our children.

The dreaded diorama is due, and Riley's initial excitement has completely worn off, especially after seeing some of her classmates turn them in early. She feels she can't compete with their work (and part of me wonders how much is actually their work and how much parental involvement some really had) and, given my dislike for the assignment in the first place, I'm finding it really hard to care.

The girls have spent most of Sunday afternoon writing a script. While it's not their school work, I'd rather support those efforts. They want to write, they want to create, and they are working together. Given how often 'sibling rivalry' can describe their relationship, I don't really want to interrupt their efforts right now.

Yesterday, we had our second family trip to DreamDinners. I was going to Whrrl it, but we ended up arriving late because when we went down to the apartment building's parking garage, we found it flooded!

They've been doing construction at the end of our street. Turns out the workers plugged up the drain, and all the rain we had on Friday was being housed by our garage!

A kind neighbor got the car out of the muck for us so we could even get to DreamDinners. The water is now almost completely gone, thank goodness!

Something else happened this week that I can't really talk about here, but I'd also feel remiss if I said nothing at all. A friendship came to a close. I know there are always at least 3 sides to every story, so I won't say that it was my fault or their fault or no one's, even. It just is. And it's sad, mostly because it feels inevitable, and I wish I could have thought of another way. I'm hoping that time will bring about some clarity to the issue for me, but right now, I'm just sad about it.

Sylvia also encountered some sadness this week. She experienced her first theatrical rejection. Her solo did not get picked for this year's talent show. I was really proud of how she took it. She said she went and cried in the girls' bathroom for a little while and she texted me with the news and a ":(", and then remembered all of the other things she'll get to perform. She had even told me after the call-back that she didn't do that well so I think she might have been a little prepared for it. She handled it like a pro.

Oh, and to end on something completely superficial (but fun), we went to lunch on Friday to celebrate a colleague's birthday, and who ends up sitting at the table next to us but Ben Stiller! The food was really good, too.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Female2Female: Random Meme

I'm excited to do my first Female2Female Blog Challenge. We're to complete the bolded phrases.

If I could have slept in this a.m., I would have gladly done so.

In my kitchen cupboard, there is not nearly enough dark chocolate.

On my desk, there are 7 pictures of my girls.

Image in my head - well, now the 7 pics of my girls on my desk!

In the middle of my to do list, I have to...oh look, something shiny! Wait, what was I talking about?

I am dreading laundry. Always.

Right now I want to revel in my aggressive, bitchy mood. (I listened to the Epiphany from Sweeney Todd this a.m. Perked me right up!)

I think more than I'd like. Sometimes, I'd just like to shut my brain off for a few minutes.

Going to the dentist almost always sucks.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Yahoo Motherboard: Setting the relationship example

Being February, Yahoo Motherboard has selected this twist on the relationship post: setting a relationship example.

First of all, I absolutely did the best thing I could for my girls in setting a good example when I left my X. (Ironically enough, I told him it was over on Valentine's Day. Because there was no way I could spend that day in particular pretending that it was not.) Somehow, I doubt that even the fiercest pro-marriage advocates could argue that my daughters would be better off with a drug addict in the house...when he's not behind bars, that is.

Moving on from that, in many ways, I'm not your average single mom...or, at least, the perception of what single moms want from a relationship. Well, taking it a step further, even wanting a relationship!

I thought I did for a while there. After the first year of adjusting to single motherhood, I thought it was "time" for me to get back "out there."

Yes, I'm putting annoying quotes around the annoying cliches.

I dated a couple of guys, even tried a few dating sites and met a few over lunch or drinks. All of it was blah blah blah. I had no real desire to do it. I had always hated dating; I certainly didn't like it any better on this side of my 30's! So I would walk away - or they would walk away. It didn't matter. I would always be relieved when it was over.

It wasn't my dating life that concerned me when it came to the girls; they never even knew I went on dates, just "out with friends." I kept that part of my life completely separate from the girls.

When it came to setting a relationship example, I was most concerned about how their father would affect them. I worried that Sylvia would inherit co-dependency from me. I worried that they would look at love as something you fell into, and not an action verb that worked both ways.

The one good thing that comes from having such a screwed up X is that the girls got into therapy. The one good thing about having divorced parents means that those issues get examined far earlier.

I don't care how many times my girls have seen Disney princess movies, they know there is no knight in shining armor to kiss the girl and save the day.

I joke that my problem was having a great dad. And truthfully, naivety did come into play.

My girls are far from naive.

I am glad that my girls do see a good example of a healthy, loving marriage (46 years strong) by spending so much time with my parents. They see that my dad cares very much about making my mother happy, but still enjoys his sports by watching them in another room. They see that my mom is a woman with her own strong will, and her own set of friends that still loves romantic getaways with the love of her life.

I love that my girls have a number of examples of married couples and single parents, childless couples and single adults in their lives that make up our friends and family and show my girls that anything is possible.

It is still too soon to say what my daughters' futures will hold when it comes to romantic relationships. Even though Sylvia already has one "boyfriend" behind her, she claims no interest in anyone right now (other than Johnny Depp, of course). Riley doesn't even have crushes on celebs!

Still, the most important thing to me is that they know that marriage is not their only key to happiness. And if you saw me say that to them, they'd roll their eyes and say, "we know, Mom. We know!!"


Monday, February 1, 2010

Weekend Wrap-Up: it's Feb.!

I don't know why, but I'm kind of glad we're at the start of a fresh month.

Last week was predictably busy, but good.

Sylvia has made it into the Honors Society at school! She's very proud, as am I. While we certainly have our moments, she's doing really well.

Riley has also been getting good grades, and is being more responsible. She did totally work me the other day, though. We went to Target to pick up some supplies for her diorama (*sigh*) and she talked me into buying her a new binder. I first reminded her that we were only supposed to be buying the supplies, but then she said "but, Mommy, I want to be more oh-ganized." Oh, she's good!

Riley has her first therapy session tomorrow, and she's very excited about it. I think part of her recent positive changes are due to knowing that it's coming. (It was actually supposed to be last week, but her therapist got sick.) It took a while what with the holidays and getting back into the groove to finally get it on the schedule. Knowing Riley, she has a master plan of exactly what she wants to accomplish in her session and will be "cured" shortly thereafter.

We had a great, mostly relaxing weekend. I got to be a grown-up and see Christopher Durang's Why Torture is Wrong and the People who Love Them. SO funny! Nicholas Brendon is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors; this is the 3rd play I've seen him in, and every time, he impresses me. It was a really fun night.

The rest of the weekend was a nice balance of quality time on the couch and housework.

I was telling Huckdoll, it's so much harder for me to post when everything is going well!

I have no rants in me right now. I have no immediate needs that aren't being met. I don't even feel all that overwhelmed anymore.

I'm not even obsessing about some other shoe dropping. That's not to say that I expect to remain this content for the rest of my life. I just don't see any reason to needlessly worry about something that I cannot predict.

If nothing else, it'll provide for more interesting posts!