Wednesday, April 29, 2009

And this is my Wed....

Thanks to those of you who supported me. I'm editing the post because I'm ready for all of it to be over. I'm feeling much better than I was earlier today.

I will still be on hiatus for the next few days.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It's only Tuesday.

Lost my blackberry yesterday, and can't order a new one. It's somewhere in the world, locked, but not returned.

Left my cell phone in the car, but at least didn't lose it.

Locked myself out of a program because I inputted the wrong password too many times.

Almost sent out an agreement to the wrong party, but luckily, had it called back for another mistake I made: sometimes two wrongs DO make a right.

Otherwise, just trying to avoid creating any major disasters, and ranting yet again about deadbeat dads over at Examiner.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Weekend Wrap-Up

It's been a fairly productive week.

The most important thing that happened is that Sylvia and I met with her new counselor. She never got off the waiting list, so I'm taking her to the facility. It costs less than our family therapist, is closer, and I really really like her therapist.

Sylvia, bless her heart, had no trouble opening up and speaking with the therapist (whom I'll call "B" here). She said some things in such a mature way, clearly aware of all the things going on with her, that I'm more confident that she'll be okay. She just needs a little help right now, and more help than I can give her.

B was very encouraging, and praised Sylvia's intelligence and sweetness and expressed a strong belief in Sylvia's ability to get through this. I think B will do a great job in filling the gaps that I can't - for a variety of reasons: time, energy, resources...I'm at peace with the concept that I can't give Sylvia everything she needs, but I can take her where she needs to go to get it.

Sylvia and I talked openly and honestly with B, and through that, I discovered that Sylvia really is taking in the things that I'm telling her; about her dad, about what Sylvia needs to do for herself...Sometimes, I'm not sure if she's listening, but now I know she is.

Of course, we still have our problems, but they're starting to feel more like the run-of-the-mill mother-daughter problems, and not just because of our circumstances.

Sylvia's in a cooking class, and together, Riley and Sylvia baked cookies last night. Today (Sunday), Sylvia and I made brunch together. Sylvia was also in a parade on Saturday with her cheer squad. (Once I take the time to upload pics from the camera, I'll post some.)

Riley had another soccer game, which they lost again. I think Riley's starting to get somewhat discouraged, and has considered quitting, but she also knows that either my dad or I will be there to cheer her on, so she's sticking with it. The oh-so-fun state testing starts next week at school for both of them. I think Riley's school has done a better job of preparing the kids for the tests and teaching them test-taking techniques than Sylvia's, but they're both aware that I don't care about their tests nearly as much as I do their overall performance in school. Sylvia doesn't seem to be displaying the anxiety that she has in years past when it comes to the state testing, and that's good.

I've heard rumors that there will most likely be more lay-offs coming at work, and I'm a little nervous about that. What can I do about it, though? Nothing but keep going to work, doing the best job I can, and just see what happens, right?

I got to speak with FreedomFirst today, and that was really nice. It's kind of funny because I've known her as long as i've known Kori, and yet this was the first time we've spoken on the phone. It's funny, too, because Sylvia was asking who I was on the phone with for so long, and she now gets it when I tell her it's one of my blogger friends.

Thanks to everyone who is also keeping up with me on Examiner. If you could subscribe, too, that would be great. Even if you don't have time to read it all, clicking on the links gets me a little $$, so I'd really appreciate it! And thanks to pisceshanna for helping me with that this week.

Don't forget to enter my giveaway for JumpStart! It's a 3-month membership to educational games for kids from K-5.

And with that, I hope everyone has a great (or at least productive) week.

Friday, April 24, 2009

JumpStart: Review and Giveaway

I've resisted buying a Nintendo (of any kind), an XBox, or any other video game playing device. We have enough distractions, and I didn't see any value to my kids.I do, however, let them play PC games from time to time.

JumpStart asked us to review Jump Start's 3D Virtual World: Guest for the Color Meister. My kids are hooked, and I couldn't be happier about it.

JumpStart has some of the qualities of other video games that my girls love (when they get to play them in someone else's house). They get to create their character, go on adventures, and earn points.

Here's the cool part: they earn their points by playing games that incorporate math and the language arts.

They also send me emails detailing my child's progress. Here's a sampling of one of them:

Job Board

* Decode words - completed
* Recognize cause-and-effect relationships - completed
* Identify 3-letter blends with words - completed

There is also a Parents Center where you can log in and see how they're doing.

The downsides: when played through the CD, the game takes over the entire screen so that you don't have the little tabs below for any other programs running, and you have to exit entirely which takes a few moments. It also takes some time to start running. The girls find it incredibly addicting and don't like to hear when it's time to quit already! Oh, and you have to have sound running so that the kids can hear the instructions for their next challenge. (Headphones help, but then they get so engrossed in the game, they can't hear you when you're trying to talk to them!) Also, I wish they had more options for older kids, like Sylvia. She plays it a lot, but I wish it were more challenging for her. (I have been told that they are working on more games for older kids.)

Still, I feel much better about the girls playing this than anything else they've found online. And I've never seen either of them so excited and eager to do math!

I can offer one 3-month free membership to JumpStart's online community. Leave me a comment, and I will randomly select a winner (using on Friday, May 8.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Happy birthday, Kori!

Have you met Kori?

Kori is the bravest and strongest woman I've ever had the pleasure of calling a friend. She has survived some of the most hellish things you can imagine, and always finds a way to make something good come out of it.

A single mother of four, her kids count on her, love her, and appreciate her in a way that's not usually the typical experience, especially at these kids' ages. I called one time, and didn't leave a message. A few minutes later, her oldest son called me back (recognized my # from the caller id), and apologized for not getting to the phone in time. He very politely explained when his mother would be able to call me back. Seriously, how many kids do that for their mom's friends?

And she's always there for me. I called her a few weekends ago, and even though it was a hellish weekend for her, too, she was there for me. She let me cry and yell, she offered me her shoulder, even when she was in need.

As a lot of you know, Sylvia's been having a tough time of it lately. Kori came up with a brilliant idea. Since her son is close to Sylvia's age, and has had similar experiences, we offered them both the opportunity to become each other's pen pals. And they have both embraced the idea. I mailed Sylvia's second letter to Sam today. They're already pouring their hearts out to each other (keeping the small talk to a simple 'hey what's up') and know that someone out there gets it.

Just like I know Kori gets it. Gets me. Has seen me through every human emotion in these short but meaningful years of our friendship.

One day, Kori, we'll celebrate our birthdays together. One day, I'll be able to give you a real hug and you can laugh at me as I get weepy drunk and profess my love for you. I'll tell you to shut up when you get too down on yourself, and remind you of everything you've said and done that make you the most amazing woman I know.

Happy birthday to my heroine.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My Earth Day contribution

Last year, I wrote about various ways to protect the Earth, most of which we were already doing.

I have bought the cloth napkins, and we use them for all of our meals now. They're small enough and sturdy enough that they can be dropped into nearly any load you're doing without feeling like you're adding to your water consumption.

I confess, we did not keep up with the Earth Hour concept, but we still are aware of our energy consumption and turn off lights, etc. on a regular basis. Those that are on more of the time when we're home are all of the energy-saving variety, so that helps.

Today, I finally invested in the DivaCup. (Model 2 is for those that have given birth, and Model 1 is for those who have not and are under the age of 30). I've been free of tampons for years, using Instead, but I feel better about the DivaCup since it is re-usable. Better for your body (no Toxic Shock Syndrome possibilities), better for the Earth, more economical.

Happy Earth Day!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Weekend Wrap-Up

My internet connection was down most of the weekend (don't know why, and didn't feel like spending 2 hours on the phone w/ customer service to try and figure it out), so I'm way behind on reading and such.

It's been a busy week (don't I always say that?). Riley had soccer games on Monday and Tues. They got beat bad at Monday's game. My parents also came so we went to dinner with them after the slaughter (which Riley took in stride).

Tuesday, Riley's team did not have enough players so all the 2nd and 3rd graders played against the 3 coaches (2 jr. high and 1 high school student). I have to say, that's been my favorite game so far. The kids were buzzing with excitement, scored a lot of goals (as did the "big kids") and I don't even remember the final score, but Riley said their team won.

Tuesday was also the PTA meeting. I learned a lot about the state of our education system. I attended the school Board meeting on Thurs. and I've written about it both at LA Moms and Examiner, so take your pick.

Saturday was my L'Bri party. It was both a success and a failure. A success because we sold more this time than the last time, but a very low turn-out. Oh, well. Those of us that were there had a great time.

After the party, my parents took Riley for the night, and Sylvia and I had a mother-daughter night. We went shopping for the new clothes that Sylvia needed (lots of items on sale right now - yay!), then went home, baked cookies, and watched a stupid (but fun!) movie.

Sunday was a quiet day at home where I didn't do nearly as much housework as I should have.

Lately, I've been obsessing about all the things that I'm not doing that I should be. I've had a couple of mini-breakdowns about it, but I'm still not kicking myself into actually doing it yet.

Friday, April 17, 2009

My letter to the School Board

What follows is my letter to my daughters' LA School Board. Names have been edited:

I was at the meeting last night, but had to leave early so I could pick up my kids.

I understand that, as was stated by several of you last night, we're all on the same team. So why doesn't it feel like it?

You mentioned that communication is a large part of the problem, and your response was that things are changing daily. There are now several ways that you can communicate this to us on a daily basis, and even more frequently. Blogger, TypePad and WordPress are just a few of the free blogging sites that would allow you to update us as much as necessary.

President A. also mentioned that there were 3 PTA meetings this past Tuesday. Actually, there were 4. I was at the D. Elementary PTA meeting on Tuesday night. I think it is a great idea to have a Board representative attend these meetings.

As a parent, my greatest frustration right now is the feeling that we have no say in what will be happening. I have attended all but one of the PTA meetings at D. (and will be their Recording Secretary next year), but I'm a single, working parent and cannot join any other committee, including the PTA at J., where my older daughter is in the 6th grade. I do what I can to be involved, and yet it doesn't seem to be enough.

In the meantime, the term "parental involvement" has been thrown around for the past few years as the solution to all of the problems. I'm expected to volunteer, donate items, help with homework (and sometimes re-teach the concepts, even though I'm nowhere near qualified to be an educator), make sure my kids eat healthy breakfasts, get the kids all revved up about standardized tests (which I still don't agree with, and can't believe that everyone seems to have stopped fighting them), pay for and get my kids to extra-curricular activities to round out their education (all the while working full-time), and support the teachers even when the teachers union's leadership (not the teachers, but their leadership) doesn't support cost-cutting ideas that would save teachers' jobs.

I do what I can, but I cannot take on the entire burden myself, particularly as a single mom. I don't have a partner at home to make dinner while I help my daughter with her homework or someone else to throw in a load of laundry to make sure my older daughter has her PE uniform ready for school.

I need support. I need support from my daughters' teachers to provide the best education possible. I need support from a Board that recognizes that consistency and stability are imperative to children's development. I need support from a teachers union that should acknowledge that longer school hours and a longer school year are the only way for every single one of our students to stay on track. As one teacher mentioned last night in their presentation, sometimes the train keeps on going, and none of our students are "average" learners.

My largest frustration comes in not knowing what to do about it. Not knowing what's being done about it. Not having the time to attend every single school-related meeting at both schools and on the District level to even know who's in charge of what.

I learned at the D. PTA meeting that even if we somehow raised the funds to keep one position, that particular teacher in the position right now might not be the one who gets the job. I don't understand why Principals don't have more say in who is hired to work at the school. I don't understand why ineffective teachers are allowed to remain. I don't understand why the type of "parental involvement" required to affect change must be a full-time job in and of itself (outside of raising the kids and providing a home because each meeting is time away from my kids).

We all may indeed be on the same team, but as a parent, I feel like I'm the third-string player, only called upon to try and make up for everyone else's mistakes.

Originally posted on LA Moms, April 17, 2009.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thank You!

I know most of you, my most loyal and constant readers, from your blogs, your thoughtful comments, your emails. You are all my friends now. I'm not going to try and list you all because I would fail, and then feel guilty for leaving someone out!

To the occasional commenters and the lurkers, thank you. I get more hits than I get comments, so I know you're out there. De-lurk, don't...entirely up to you.

I know each and every one of you disagrees with me sometimes, and I appreciate that you are not only still here, but always still respectful. You are true friends.

Thank you.

And if you wanted a real "April" post, I've got another one up at Examiner.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Why Gay Marriage needs to be Federally Legalized

I have this friend. She happens to be a lesbian. She happens to be a lesbian in love with a woman from England. They met when my friend, B, was an exchange student there. They've been together for a few years now. I know B's girlfriend (N) from N's previous visits, and she's great. They're both educators, smart and compassionate at their jobs and work well with kids.

B has just been detained while trying to visit her girlfriend in England. She's previously applied for a work visa, which was denied, and that showed up when they swiped her visiting visa, so they've detained her, searched her bags, her employer has called to confirm that B is expected back at work in July. Most likely, B will have to turn around and come home.

N is working on getting a US working visa, but, given the state of economy, and given the fact that she's a teacher, has not yet been successful.

B and N could get married in England, but could not come back here to live and work, which is what they want. I haven't investigated enough to know whether or not they could get married in Iowa or one of the other 3 U.S. states that recognize marriage if one of them is not a US citizen, but I do know that said marriage would not be considered valid in California or any of the other states that have denied gay couples equal rights.

Unless we all move to civil unions (which is my preference, but most likely not going to happen), this is why gay marriage has to be recognized on a national level. Vegas weddings are, as we all know, recognized everywhere else in the U.S., in the world, even if the couple is merely drunk.

This makes me crazy.

On another note, I have a new post up at Examiner.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

X Chronicles update

So here's what happened. I may have mentioned before that the girls haven't heard from their dad much this year. He neglected to call on New Year's, but managed to call for his own birthday in January. The girls noticed that he didn't call on Valentine's Day and hasn't called since.

Sylvia was getting more and more emotional and having more and more unexpected outbursts. She admitted that they were due to anxiety about her dad. I encouraged her to call him herself, but she didn't want to. Come to think of it, she'd been the first to make contact in 2009. She called him several times before he finally called back, and then called again on his birthday. She didn't want to call again.

So I offered to call for her. He'd been living with his parents so I called and spoke to his mom. X had stolen from her, stolen from her friend, and she kicked him out. He'd been coming around for a while and then just stopped. He also had a "friend" that was now coming by every morning and causing a noise disturbance - apparently X owed this friend money.

Sylvia asked as soon as I picked her up if I'd spoken to X, and I told her about my conversation with X's mother. She was very upset so I offered to take her back to therapy. I also encouraged her to talk to her school counselor, which she did the next day. The school counselors don't really offer this kind of counseling, but they do have a program set up, and Sylvia's on the waiting list for it. In the meantime, we've visited our family therapist a few times over the past several weeks.

The weekend before last, X called. Out of the blue. Left a vm: "Hi! Just wanted to talk to those lovely girls!" Like nothing. Like he hadn't disappeared off the face of the earth for 2 months. SO frustrating.

The girls were with my parents, so I called him back. I mentioned that we hadn't heard from him in forever, and HE has the nerve to say to ME, "well, you know the phone works both ways." Yeah, I'm aware of that. So I told him about my conversation with his mother. He lied to me about how long it's been since he called - saying it had been the end of Feb. And this was just after I mentioned that he hadn't called on Valentine's Day. Mid-Feb. You know, it's one thing that he lies to me - what I can't stand is that he thinks I'm so STUPID that I'd believe that.

I told him that he's added no value to their lives, only hurt. I tried to explain how hard it is for Sylvia, but the more I talked, the more I knew how useless this exercise was. Obviously, I'm a big fan of venting, but was just too much. I was the one crying on the phone, and then crying to Nancy, and then crying to Kori...and he'll just never get it.

He stopped lying to me, and started acquiescing. Which was almost even more frustrating because I was the one yelling and crying and sounding irrational, and he's just being all calm, and saying, "you're right." Which was what really started to drain me.

It also bothered me because these were the few hours I had to myself at home. I wanted to relax, to do housework, to use this time for what I wanted to do. Instead, I spent all the hours that the girls were gone crying, furious, frustrated. Then I went to pick up the girls. I suppose I should just be grateful that I did have a few hours to have my own little breakdown without the girls around.

Last week, I met with my therapist to discuss what to do about a trip we had planned to San Jose, where X and his family lives. I was going up for the PTA Convention, and I thought the girls would love to spend time with their cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents. With X out of the picture, it would've been perfect. With X back around, that changed everything.

So I told the girls on Sunday that we were going to have to cancel the trip. There was just too much cause for concern, and we'd have to plan something else for seeing their family. They will spend the days that I'm gone with my sister. Sylvia was very upset at first, but she's now talking about what bathing suit she'll wear when she goes down to my sister's house and seems to have accepted it.

I do feel bad because I know it's not X's family's fault, and I like them. But his sister and I have already started talking about maybe planning something in the summer, away from San Jose, away from here. I think we could have a good time. Just so long as X is nowhere in the picture.

I'm still not letting the girls talk to X on the phone. The therapist and I agreed that Sylvia's just way too fragile right now. Her grades have suffered, she's still so raw emotionally...she needs to get back to treating herself better. I see glimmers of hope, like her smile and confidence when she performed in the cheerleading competition, and singing Karaoke on Sat. night. When she laughs and hugs me. I know she'll be okay, but only if I continue to protect her right now.

Part of me worries that she counts on me more than she should. I worry that she's not learning how to protect herself. But right now, she can't handle it. So I have to step in.

Riley is doing okay. While she was disappointed that she won't see everyone in San Jose, she loves going to my sister's house and spending time with the dogs and swimming in the pool.

They've both said lately that they hate their dad. I don't stop them. I think it's just their way of saying that they're very angry with him right now, and they have every right to their feelings right now. I know deep down that they both love him still.

I've had some pretty vivid images of what I'd like to see happen to X, but I don't share those with the girls.

Now, we're back to just taking it all one day at a time. We've had some really great times lately that I think have bonded us closer. On Saturday night, Sylvia and I are having a "date night" to take her shopping for new clothes ('cuz she just won't stop growing!) while Riley's with my parents and I think that'll be good for both of us.

It always sounded so trite when my mom would say it to me, but all I want is for her - both of them - to be happy.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Weekend Wrap-Up

It's been a busy and exhausting week. I have pics to share, but I'm too lazy to figure out how to work the camera my mom gave me. Yes, I'm 36 years old and I still take hand-me-downs from my mom.

I wrote about going to Riley's (my first) soccer game over at LA Moms. We have another two this week. Thankfully, my sister (a veteran sports mom) also brought me a chair to make it a tad more comfortable.

I had a really nice birthday, and thanks for all your good wishes! We went bra shopping at The Wizard of Bras. If you're in SoCal, we found it totally worth the drive to Monrovia for the experience. We each had our own personal fitter/shopper, and we found out that we were different sizes than we thought. (Sorry if this is TMI. Move on to the next paragraph if you're uncomfortable.) Anyway, I found out my band size was smaller, while my cup size was bigger. She also showed me how to wear them. 36 years old and didn't know how to wear a bra properly! It took a few hours, but then it felt great and so much better. And, ahem, looks a lot better, too.

After the shopping excursion, the girls and I had dinner with my parents and sister and bro-in-law at one of my favorite Mexican restaurants. We've been going to Caramba's since we moved to L.A. back in the early '80's. Pretty impressive that it's still around. And finally, the girls are appreciating Mexican food so they had a good time. I cannot believe that my sister got me an iPod Nano. I can finally stop borrowing Sylvia's, and I started loading it as soon as I got home on Fri. night. I'm so excited, I just may start going to gym again. Maybe. We'll see. My parents are getting me tickets to see Mandy Patinkon and Patti LuPone in concert this summer - I can't wait!

On Saturday, Sylvia had her first cheerleading competition and her team came in second! This was my first time ever seeing them cheer. I couldn't take my eyes off my own daughter, of course, and she did a really great job. She was so happy. I still hope, however, that she only does it this year. I think my ears are still ringing from all the high-pitched squealing I endured throughout the event.

Vendors had set up booths outside to feed us, and there was this one adorable little boy that took our order. I was completely charmed by his manner and thoroughness. Too cute for words!

I have to say, the kids I've run across that work with their parents are among the most endearing I've ever met. And certainly makes me feel better about the times the girls have gone to my work. They can't help me with the legal documents, of course, but at least they get an idea of what the "real world" is like.

Saturday night, we went to a reunion of sorts with friends from my alma mater, LA County High School for the Arts. As is the story these days, we've re-connected through Facebook, and so this wasn't an official event or anything - we just all got together at a restaurant where one of the alums runs karaoke. I embarrassed myself with the first song, but after a couple more drinks, I did much better with Light My Candle from Rent with my friend's husband. The girls came, and they also sang. I was really surprised Riley wanted to sing, as well. And happy that Sylvia (who people told me was exactly like me on stage) let other people take turns! It was a late night for all of us (especially after having to get up early for Sylvia's competition), but totally worth it. I think we all hope that we'll be having more get-togethers. It was so nice to see the ones who came, and the ones who didn't were missed. We also had some time to talk, and catch up, and everyone was so genuine and open about what's gone right for them and what hasn't. I'd forgotten that about my high school friends.

Today, we've decided not to participate in any Easter activities. Obviously, we haven't ever celebrated a religious Easter, but this year we skipped the secular one as well. We've had enough going on, thanks.

Today is not the day to delve into the X Chronicles, either. Everything's fairly okay, but I still have some business to attend to about it, and would rather not talk about it at the moment. I'll get there...

I do wish everyone who does celebrate a Happy Easter/Passover!

Friday, April 10, 2009

List of 36

Last year, for my 35th birthday, I posted 35 of my favorite musicals. This year (yep, it's my 36th birthday), I'll try to just do a generic 36 things about me list. Although, I make no promises considering when I tried to do a 100 post, I didn't get past 10!

1. I finally joined Twitter. 'Cuz I'm trendy like that.

2. I wasn't one of those girls/women who fantasized about being a mother. Funny how life changes you!

3. I'm hooked on American Idol, but I pretty much hate everyone on the show except Adam Lambert and Allison.

4. I still watch Brothers & Sisters even though the show always annoys me. I don't know if that's eternal optimism or just plain stupidity. Really, I think it's because I love Sally Field.

5. I'm still hooked on my West Wing reruns. I wonder how long this will last?

6. I finally saw What the #$*! Do We Know and was blown away by that movie. I think I want to see it again.

7. It's been almost a year since my promotion to paralegal, and I still mostly feel like I'm faking it. I've had some really good moments, and I've learned a lot, but I think I would totally be failing if it weren't for the great mentors that I have in my department.

8. I love my job. I love the people I work with. I can't believe that I've been here 5 1/2 years now and still love coming to work everyday. Or, at least don't hate it.

9. It's also the longest that I've worked at the same place. I can definitely see myself staying for as long as they'll have me.

10. I talk to myself incessantly. (Maybe that's why I love blogging?) I love the fact that most people walk around with Bluetooths in their ears so I look less conspicuous now.

11. I have a terrible long-term memory. I'm afraid I will forget all the beautiful moments with my girls, like last night in the car when they were going over Sylvia's scene for her talent show. Riley was helping her run lines. I was in heaven.

12. I still use words like heaven, God knows, etc., but just consider them part of the vernacular. I don't know if there's a God and I don't care.

13. I try to respect other people's religious beliefs, but I'm still very angry that those beliefs are keeping my friend from being able to marry the love of her life.

14. Which is ironic, because I don't believe in marriage anymore, but I still believe that we all should have the right to do what we want with our personal lives, so long as it doesn't hurt someone else.

15. No, I'm still not over Prop 8 passing.

16. I'm reading The Challenge of Being Single right now, and I was telling a friend, I could totally see me living at one of those communes of the '70's. My friend told me I have the hippie hair for it.

17. My life is full with my family and friends. I feel very lucky most of the time.

18. Which doesn't mean I don't get angry about my X, but I think I'm allowed. Screw it, I know I'm allowed.

19. I don't understand why my work pc doesn't keep the right time.

20. I love having my iTunes going in the background. 90% of the songs on there are from Broadway musicals.

21. The other 10% are Kelly Clarkson, David Cook, Alanis Morrisette, Manhattan Transfer, Elton John and U2.

22. Clearly, I haven't listened to regular music radio since the '90's.

23. I've never had my hair shorter than the length of my neck. It's my security blanket.

24. I had an actual security blanket when I was little. I still remember the feel of it.

25. One time, when I was probably about 8, I got lost trying to walk home. I was scared, but I also knew that if I just stayed put, I would eventually be found. So I passed the time by trying to find the crickets chirping. And eventually, I was found.

26. I guess I do remember some things from my past.

27. I pretty much only listen to NPR and cds in my car. I had Sirius, but I canceled it.

28. I made my first donation to NPR this year.

29. I know I don't think like a lot of people. Sometimes it's lonely, but most of the time, it just makes it that much more powerful when people do get me.

30. I totally wish I could afford a housekeeper. I hate it, I'm not that good at it, and it exhausts me.

31. These past couple of weeks, I feel tired all the time. And I'm tired of being tired.

32. What I don't get is, my life is easier now than it has been for most of my adult life. I live close to work and the girls' schools, I'm not going to school right now, we have more time at home, so why am I so exhausted all of the time?

33. Perhaps because I'm getting older?

34. I'm quite surprised that I've managed to come up with 34 things so far.

35. Only one more to go!

36. Thank you, all, for sticking with this and with me. I've said it before, I'll say it again: I'm so very grateful that each and every one of you - even lurkers - are part of my life now.

Now I have a year to come up with what to post on my next birthday!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Unlikely Soccer Mom

My 8-year-old, Riley, just started playing soccer with her after-school program.

I have never pictured myself as a soccer mom. I was raised on musical theatre, and my oldest daughter has followed in my footsteps.

I'm also not big on sports in general. While I can appreciate the concept of teamwork, I find much more value in the performing arts, and have written papers on the advantages of including arts in schools. I'm resentful that arts programs usually get cut first, and sports are last to go. Not to mention, the cost and time and energy. So, no, I have never thought of myself as a soccer mom.

Of course, having kids means that you find yourself doing a lot of things you never expected to do. Yesterday, I attended my first soccer game.

This is not AYSO or any type of league. This is just one after-school program playing one or two other teams and there are only a handful of games. There is no scoreboard, and the coaches were junior high school students coaching 2nd and 3rd graders. There are no cleats allowed on the field. There are only 5 players on our team, and they had to take turns sitting out since the other team only had 4 players. As you can see from the photo, Riley's team shirt goes down to her knees.

Only a few parents attended, and the dads were quiet and simply waited for opportunities to cheer and clap. Our team didn't score one goal, and at half-time, Riley told me quite cheerfully that she didn't think they would win any games this season. I told her that I didn't care; I just hoped she was having fun.

At the end of the game, there was a team meeting, and then the other team was called over. After the meeting, Riley told me that even though the other team had scored goals and their team hadn't, one of the players on the other team had incessantly teased the players on her team. For that, Riley's team was given 10 points and they claimed a victory.

I thought it was so cool that good sportsmanship was rewarded. They might not win any other games, but they maintained good character to make this a real victory for them.

Maybe I can fathom being a soccer mom after all!

Originally posted on LA Moms, April 9, 2009.

Odds and Ends

Dingo wanted more info on the race this weekend. This is becoming an annual event for the girls, and they love running on the same track as the horses at Santa Anita.

Sylvia was feeling quite competitive with her cousin, but alas, did not beat him.

I love how Riley still manages to smile for the camera while running:

If you live in the Los Angeles area, I'm hosting a L'Bri skin care party on April 18. I'm not easily impressed by skin care products, but I was intrigued with L'Bri since they're all aloe-vera based. I'm totally loving the products, and this morning, I noticed that my skin didn't feel oily when I woke up! Email me if you're interested.

I have new posts up at my LA Single Parenting Examiner page. Every click earns me cents, so please take a second to visit me!

I've also got a new post up at LA Moms about my life as a soccer mom.

I have my therapy appointment later today, and will update my X Chronicles accordingly. Although, Friday is my 36th birthday, oi vey, so it may take a few days for me to want to deal with it.

I'm still not feeling 100% well, so I'm finding it hard to write regularly these days. I'm really really hoping that I'll find my way to wellness and inspiration again soon!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Weekend Wrap-Up

I know that I'm feeling much better because I like coffee again - phew! I faked it for two days because I was so over being sick, but on Friday, I finally desired coffee like I normally do. And the world stopped being upside down.

There are some developments on the X front, but I'm not yet ready to talk about that. Thankfully, Kori and Nancy were there for me yesterday when I really needed to cry and rant and rave, and also thankfully, my girls were spending the day with their grandparents. I'm setting up another therapy appointment to help me through this.

It's not that I don't know my options, and the various pitfalls associated with any decision I make, but Kori and I agreed that I should take advantage of the opportunity I have to mull this over with a professional who knows me, knows my kids, and will help me come up with solutions to the pitfalls. I'll be able to make the decision with more confidence than if I flew completely solo on this, which will probably be half the battle.

We single moms are constantly just having to deal with the problems, and we - well, I guess I can't speak for all single moms - I often second-guess myself and wonder if I should've gone the other way on a decision. It's what separates truly single parents from those that can co-parent with their ex, or those that have a husband somewhere in the world. And it's why I need people like Kori in my life. She gets it, she gets me, and I cherish her friendship in a way that I was never able to cherish my marriage.

On lighter notes, the girls ran a race yesterday at the Santa Anita Race Track and had a great time. We also enjoyed Disney on Ice on Wed. evening, and today we've enjoyed a quiet day at home.

Friday, April 3, 2009

As if I needed another reason to hate ad execs

I hate watching TV in real time, and usually don't. I skip the commercials, block ads, etc. The condescension, the shouting, the pathetic attempts at humor...I haven't laughed out loud at a commercial since the early '90's. I can't say I have a high level of regard for ad execs in general. I know most of them are just doing a job, so it's not personal.

One, however, has reached a level of offensiveness that I must take to task.

I saw this story on GMA while I was getting ready for work and was spitting nails at the TV. The story was about a new ad for domestic violence which shows Keira Knightley being brutally beaten by her boyfriend. The story was about the controversy that's apparently surrounding it.

All of the women who commented on the story, including a former victim of domestic abuse, felt that it was an important ad that should be shown. The lone voice of opposition to the ad was by an ad exec - a male exec - named Jerry Della Femina who had the audacity to "question the motives." The motive is it's a PSA, and it's designed to raise awareness and offer help to women (and yes, even men) suffering from an abuser in their own home.

Della Femina, you're not a man. You think this is hard to watch? Try living it.

I have not suffered from such abuse, but my heart goes out to anyone who has. I was actually glad that my girls were in the room and saw the ad, and saw what a man can do to a woman. We've had a lot of conversations about Rihanna and Chris Brown, and I just keep stressing to the girls that a person like that will not change. This ad depicts the brutal truth about domestic violence and I encourage every parent to share it with their daughters and sons (above age 8, I'd say).

Yes, it is hard to watch. It's a horrible, but unfortunately realistic portrayal of what can happen.

For Della Femina to claim that it shouldn't be seen, that they should cut away to the guy's face instead of showing the beating is a way for him to deny that this happens. Unfortunately, it happens every day. It makes me want to weep for any of the women in his life since he clearly doesn't want to face what could happen to any of them.

Della Femina is a coward. Keira Knightley, thank you for your brave portrayal of something that is unfortunately too genuine for too many.

The real power behind reading

I'd be hard-pressed to find a mother in this day and age who hasn't been told about the importance of reading to their children, and encouraging their children to read. My girls have been given assigned reading as part of their homework for most of their scholastic careers.

Readers of blogs probably don't need to be told the virtues of reading - we all do it every day. Reading, writing, and arithmetic: the very basic elements of a good education, right?

Maria Tatar's book, Enchanted Hunters: the power of stories in childhood, takes us beyond the basics of childhood reading, and explores how even the simplest stories told to our infants can impact our children in ways that I had maybe wondered about, but never quite been able to capture.

For instance, I've often wondered why the simplest of nursery rhymes and fairy tales have always had such a dark side - cradles falling, and other images of impending doom and death. Tatar explores the history of storytelling and why these images have long been associated with bedtime stories.

There is also a quite dense history of the imagery associated with mother and child reading in bed, but I found the book most interesting when it captured the essence of what makes certain fairy tales and long-beloved books so popular with our children.

She details why certain parts are purposely left vague in order to let our children's imaginations soar, and other images are more concrete to keep the young reader engaged. She defies the image of reading as a sedentary activity, and explains how reading about death is oddly comforting to these young, curious minds.

Tatar can get a little carried away, wanting to include nearly every supporting example ever written, and detailing almost every possibility - quite a feat in such a large field as children's literature - and her professorial style can be tedious at times, but overall, her passion for her subject shines through and I'd be unable to argue against her thesis.

I'll be referencing Enchanted Hunters often in the future when thinking about what books to purchase for the girls and what certain kinds of tales might offer them. It's not a book list by any means, but the themes are there to help me create those book lists.

The book offers a refreshing, inspiring and thought-provoking approach on how to help our young readers truly appreciate those nightly 20-30 minutes of reading homework!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Disney on Ice

Read about our night out at Examiner.