Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Inevitable Thanksgiving Post (2012 edition)

In one of my classes, we were discussing Guardianships, and she showed us a sample of a form that a legal guardian must fill out once per year as an added measure to ensure the guardian continues to act in the child's best interest.

The form includes things like last immunizations, school of attendance, average grades...stuff every parent would (or should know), but then the instructor pointed out some questions she thought some parents would find hard to answer. In particular, "what are your goals for the child in the coming year?"

I may have given up my mommy blogger label, but I remain grateful for this blog and the opportunity to not just think about such things, but actually write about them. I am grateful for the blogs I read that think about parenthood on this level.

I am grateful that even though I may not be as active in this community as I used to be, I am still part of this community. I am grateful to feel connected to bloggers.

And, because I'm me, I just have to include my "official" Thanksgiving song:

Happy Turkey Lurkey Time! 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Dancing Through Life

Okay, so I stole that title from a song in Wicked, but this post is inspired by another song, "Marilyn Monroe" from the musical Blood Brothers. The chorus repeats the word "dancing," but in different contexts as she talks about different stages of her life.

She starts off as a young girl, dancing with her beau. The next chorus is about dancing at her wedding. She has kids, her husband leaves her, and there's "no more dancing."

I totally remember feeling that way. Nearly a decade later, I feel like I'm dancing through life.

Our schedule is totally insane. I spend at least 3 hours in the car every day, it takes creative planning just to do laundry and get to the grocery store every week, and every day, there's at least one mini-crisis, whether work-related, kid-related, or home-related. And I don't think I've ever been happier.

It's not always a graceful dance, granted, but it's consistently filled with doing things I love with people I love and finding the humor whenever possible. And if I don't necessarily love every activity, I know I'm doing it for the right reasons and that makes it worthwhile.

10 years ago, still married and living in the coldest climate I've ever experienced, I'd almost resigned myself to merely existing. 9 years ago, I was adjusting to single motherhood and still thought it'd never be good again.

Now, it's got a good beat and I can dance to it.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Balancing Homework

My hope is that, by the time this publishes, they won't need any more signatures, but here is the link to sign the petition for the National PTA to adopt and promote homework guidelines.

Interestingly enough, I also came across this post where over 100 people have commented on the question of whether homework interferes with their parenting approach.

I've written time and again my feelings on homework, but I did want to share this approach that one of my instructors uses that I find quite valuable.

We are given the opportunity to do every assignment twice. The first time, along with the grade, he'll give us his notes on how to fix it. The second time, if we implement his changes, we can improve our grade.

This, to me, meets the objectives of homework without undue stress. Even if I struggle the first time, I can get the instructor's input and learn the information I need to know to do it right.

At the beginning of class, he'll address any issues that he saw multiple times; it gives him the chance to clarify and re-teach any concepts we didn't seem to get the first time around. And we get the chance to do it right, which will reinforce the right concepts.

I have seen (and felt) the agony of spending a lot of time doing an assignment wrong, and then getting marked down for it. Unless you're given the chance to re-train your brain, you won't have the confidence that you actually know the material when it comes around next in a quiz or test or even (gasp) real life!

This method actually promotes learning. And isn't that supposed to be the point of homework after all?

I've spoken to some teachers about this method; most seem open to the idea, but are only concerned if they'll have enough time to grade something twice. Of course, each teacher should have the freedom to do what they feels works best.

I think the most viable option if a teacher does not feel they can offer this second chance opportunity is that every student should get points merely for doing the assignment, and the feedback necessary for them to understand what they did wrong.

Homework might not feel so dreadful if it actually gives a student the opportunity to learn.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Managing the Grief

Every so often, it hits. I'm not sad every day because I know Bonnie wouldn't want me to be. She reveled in laughter, in fun, in enjoying life and loved ones. But every so often, something brings me to a halt and I have to empty my bucket.

This time, it was a song. It was Bobbie's song, and I could see her in front of me, clear as day. And then I started thinking about Bonnie, and my heart just ached from the loss of these two.

It may not seem fair or right to compare the loss of a pet with the loss of a friend, but Bonnie and Bobbie had something fundamental in common: they both loved me unconditionally. Frankly, I don't know if that's harder to find in a human or a cat, but they did.

Whenever I was frustrated with myself for not being a better mom, Bonnie was the first to tell me that I was doing a terrific job. I wasn't always convinced of that, but her earnestness made me feel like at least I was doing good enough, and buoyed my strength that I could keep going. Whenever I felt like I wasn't strong enough, she'd be there. Her shoulder was always there for me, and her love had immense power. I think she truly believed that I could do anything, and I loved her for that. And whatever she could offer to help me, she would give me.

Sometimes, it feels unbearable to know that I'll never feel her hugs again, that I'll never laugh with her again, that I'll never get to talk to her again.

She did an amazing job as a mother, parenting this young woman who's become a dear friend to me as well. I miss being able to talk to her about that. I ask myself, "what would Bonnie say?" but the words don't always come to me.

I met Bonnie at a time where trust was difficult for me. She respected that, but she always let me know she was there. When I eventually poured my heart out to her, all I got back was love and support. She never judged me.

She cheered me on and celebrated my accomplishments along with my girls'. From helping me move into our first apartment, and then the second, to planning a party for me when I graduated college, to cheering my daughters at their talent showcase.

I am trying, Bonnie. I am trying to live my life as you taught me. I am trying to find more patience, more forgiveness, and to always let people know how much they mean to me. It's difficult without you here to guide me, but I will keep trying to honor your memory, your spirit, your love.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Not Really an Election Post

I drove the girls and my colleagues crazy last Tuesday by squealing repeatedly, "It's Election Day!!" Only Riley got to see my Election Day dance, but no one was spared my glee at it simply being Election Day.

In the early part of the day, some were confused by my giddiness. We didn't know any results yet, so why was I so excited?

It might just be my favorite part of Election Day, actually. Before there are any winners or losers. Before any talking head can pontificate on what the election results mean.

It is the day that I get to exercise my right to vote. My right to stand and be counted. It is the day that many have fought and died for; not just in America, but throughout the world. But, of course, it is a day that I can be proud to be an American, to live in a democracy, to get that "I Voted" sticker.

I vote after I drop the girls off at school, on my way to work. My polling place was busy, but I didn't really have to wait in line. I repeated my last name a few times before they finally found me on the roster.

I punched my ballot decisively, and slid my ballot. I wore my sticker until the end of the work day. It now sticks to my bulletin board. There are only two on there now, but I hope to have the border filled with I Voted stickers eventually.

Someone offered me theirs. No. It has to be accurate. It has to be for my ballots cast. Some have extolled the virtues of voting by absentee ballot. Nope, I want that sticker. I've been told I can drop it off, and get my sticker...but if I'm going to do all of that, I may as well vote while I'm there. For now, I'm sticking to voting on Election Day so I can revel in the glorious day that it is.

RadDude teased me; I was more excited than I get on Broadway days. It was like The Book of Mormon and Avenue Q all wrapped in one, he said.

I had a thought that stopped me in my tracks: The Book of Mormon done by muppets!!

That might be as good as Election Day.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Not a Mommy Blogger; a Blogger with Children

I always had trouble with the label Mommy Blogger. Or any labels, for that matter.

At first, I recoiled against being called a Mommy Blogger, then I embraced it, and now, as always, I just want this blog to accurately reflect where I am. (Or, at least, where I think I am.)

While being the girls' mom will always be number one priority, parenting them has become an act we'd prefer to keep more private now. Maybe 5, 10 years from now (OMG, will I still be blogging then?!?), I can tell more tales of these years. But right now, it's just between us girls.

In the meantime, there are a lot of other things that encompass my daily life, that shape me in different ways, which I'd like to explore more here.

Of course, this doesn't mean the end of talking about the girls completely. There's very little in my life that isn't colored by them. And every so often, there are stories they actually want me to share here!

But this isn't a mommy blog anymore - if it ever was. It's just a blog that happens to be written by a single woman with two children.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Looking Back, Looking Forward

This was photo was taken 4 years ago, just days after the election. Bonnie, her husband Richard, the girls and I attended a protest against Prop 8. Equal marriage rights had been defeated, and we felt the need to speak out.

Bonnie was a fierce supporter of gay rights. She can rest easier now that at least two states have won gay marriage rights by popular vote.

I can hear her telling me, "I told you so!" I wouldn't have believed it. Prop 8 was incredibly difficult for me to swallow and put quite the dimmer on Obama's first presidential victory.

I do find it fitting that Maine is one of the states. Bonnie's mother lived in Maine before Bonnie moved her out here to see her through her final days.

So we're still waiting here in CA for equality, but I'm so glad I have this picture and this memory of us fighting together.

Victory at last, Bonnie. Peace and love are in abundance, and I know that's what your heart desired.

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Beautiful Friend, My Bucket is Full

My dear friend, Bonnie, passed peacefully this weekend.

I was lucky enough to spend time with her in the days prior. Heartbreaking and beautiful. She was surrounded by love in her last days. Her family, and people like me, who felt as if she were family.

She had that way about her. She was there for everyone in her life that she loved. We gave back as much as we could.

She had made certain decisions that made it difficult, but also beautiful. She was in her home and there were no tubes. Just Bonnie.

She lasted more days than most people thought she would. When I wasn't with her, my heart still was.

She changed our lives in so many ways. I will never forget that.

She brought her loved ones to us, who continued to change our lives. We will forever be grateful that they are with us, and together, we will try to emulate what she taught us.

Bonnie was feisty, too. She made me laugh so many times with her sharp tongue aimed at those who didn't live up to her standards.

Her standards were high, but completely doable. Give what you can, and you can always give love.  She enjoyed life. She made it fun. She saw the beauty in those she loved, and we felt like we were better people in her presence.

She didn't believe in being false, though. She was the one that taught me, when your bucket is full, you have to empty it. You have to express your feelings to be free of them.

I only got sad this week when I was away from her. Somehow, it was easy not to cry in her presence. She couldn't respond with words, or even her eyes in the day before she died, but there was still something that made me believe she could hear me. She may not have understood the words, but somehow I feel confident that she understood my gratitude for her love, and my love for her.

I like to believe that our presence, our laughter, our love for her overshadowed her pain in her last days. She seemed at peace most of the time.

Yes, she was taken from us too soon. Yes, I will miss her for a long time to come. I have shed many tears this week and I will shed many more because my bucket is full.

The girls and I will hold you in our hearts forever, Bonnie. Thank you for having us in yours.