Tuesday, June 30, 2009
We had a really, really great weekend. It didn't go as expected. My parents were supposed to take the girls for a weekend vacation, but because of my dad's health issues, that got postponed. I'd already requested Friday off for a vacation day, so I went ahead and took the girls to Disneyland instead.
We had the best time! Sometimes when we go, it feels like we spent all day there and maybe went on 5 rides, but this time we went on tons of rides (oops, sorry, attractions) plus they played and we got chill time. It was also an historic visit since Sylvia was tall enough this time to drive her own car at Autopia! Riley and I had the car behind her, and I must say, I was pretty impressed with her abilities. She said she loved it, especially since she had a little bag with her that she put beside her on the passenger side (just like I put my purse), and she felt like a Mom.
We stayed until nearly midnight, and little Riley could barely walk up to the apartment when we got home. She's too big for me to carry anymore, so I had to wake her, but she was falling all over herself like she was drunk! It would've been funnier if she weren't so pathetic-looking.
The rest of the weekend, we had no plans, and we had a nice balanced :) weekend of housework, relaxation, and family time.
My dad is doing much better, but we're still frustrated since we still don't know what was wrong with him in the first place. We're hoping that the blood tests he took with his regular doctor yesterday will yield some answers...hoping, but our expectations are reasonably low.
I'll have some pics to post after my DSL issues get settled (IF they get settled).
Oh, and to back up a little, our weekend actually started on Thursday with Sylvia's award ceremony. Through a contest at the Club, Sylvia won 2nd place (out of about 25 entries) for an art contest! Not sure if I should name the sponsoring company or not, but let's just say it was a network known for animation, and they had 3 professional animators judge the work so it was quite an honor for her! I hope to be able to post her pic with her winning entry later this week.
So even though my X is a prick (and thanks, all, for your support in that!), he still can't ruin this family.
Monday, June 29, 2009
I'm not even sure how much I wrote about this earlier in the year, but his relationship with the girls has been basically weekend phone calls for the past couple of years, with a few visits thrown in here and there. Earlier this year, before Valentine's Day to be more exact (because the girls specifically remember him not calling on that day), he stopped calling. I finally called his mom, found out that he was no longer living there, and no one knew where he was.
When he re-appeared in April, I was done. Sylvia was getting back into therapy, my child support case against him had just been closed (since they could never find him), and his spotty, unpredictable, and undependable presence in their lives was just causing all of us more pain than we deserved. So I forbade him from speaking to them.
Sylvia took it pretty well. She'd had a really tough time with his latest disappearance, and I think she was relieved that I'd set the boundaries.
But 3 1/2 weeks ago, she asked if she could speak to him. After talking it over with her therapist, we decided that phone calls would be okay. Her therapist and I are both aware that the phone calls will most likely stop again, but at least she would BE in therapy and we'd have some tools and resources for handling it.
So I let the girls call their dad that Sunday. He promised them that he would call every Sunday. He managed to call on Father's Day. And three weeks into it, he didn't call this Sunday.
We were home, my cell was on...no missed calls. To make it even worse, Sylvia's taking on the blame since he gave her his number and she didn't call him. It's SO not right for her to feel any culpability in this, and I didn't even mention to her the chances that the number he gave her is probably no good anymore. His cell phone services rarely last more than 24 hours.
It pisses me off SO much. I don't understand why he can't even live up to the simple responsibility of knowing when it's Sunday and picking up a phone.
I can understand not paying child support. A drug addict rarely has money. I can understand not being able to live up to the conditions so that he can have visitation; it involves WORK on his part. But not being able to pick up a phone? That's just being a selfish prick.
And on TOP of that, he actually gave me crap for not letting him talk to the girls for two months. Claiming to be their father, that he has rights. His one - ONE - responsibility that I actually hoped he would live up to for at least 2 months (8 phone calls), he couldn't do. Must the girls keep their expectations of their father so low?
It's just so not fair. They're amazing little girls. They live up to responsibilities I give them every day. They're loving and funny and fun. And they've made it extraordinarily easy for him to make them happy. All he has to do is call once a week. Why does he choose to break their hearts instead? Really, how does a man do that? And claim to be a parent.
What a prick.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
After a lovely Father's Day with my dad, a few days later he was in the hospital. At first, we thought he may have had a heart attack, but it all turned out to be a false alarm - phew! He had an angiogram which showed his heart is in great shape! He's home now and resting. The doctors recommended that my dad stop taking his cholesterol medication, Zoloft, as it's known to break down muscles and make you weaker (which was my dad's chief complaint). I'm passing this on so anyone else who needs to know can be made aware. He'll be seeing his primary doctor next week, and we all hope he's back to normal within the next few days.
Besides that, work has been busy and life is just going along. So there hasn't been much to say, lately!
Thankfully, Kori came to my rescue (as usual) and tagged me for a meme:
1. What is your current obsession? This song sung by the lovely Stephanie J Block from 9 to 5: the Musical called "Get Out and Stay Out." Unfortunately, I can't buy it on iTunes yet so I just keep going to youtube to listen to it. (Florinda, remember this?)
2. What is your weirdest obsession? Probably that I can't have my hair any shorter than the length of my neck. Yes, it's my security blanket, and I'm okay with that!
3. Recall a fond childhood memory?
Our first trip to New York. We saw Les Miz on Broadway just a few months after it opened, and from the 2nd row!
4. What’s for dinner? Hamburgers from DreamDinners. Sylvia made them last time - I hope I can talk her into doing it again tonight.
5. What would you eat for your last meal? I think I'd prefer chorizo and eggs.
6. What’s the last thing you bought? A new cable for my DSL connection. It did not help matters. I'd rather not talk about it, thanks.
7. What are you listening to right now? "Black and Blue" from Ain't Misbehavin'. Gotta love iPod's shuffle feature.
8. What do you think of the person who tagged you? Kori knows I love her, she's my best friend, and I really really want to meet her one day!
9.If you could have a house totally paid for, fully furnished, anywhere in the world, where would it be? Right here in Burbank. Okay, the drivers drive me crazy, but it's only for a 5-minute commute. And yeah, it's the Valley, but I've grown accustomed to it here.
10.If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go? I'm quite fond of my sister's jacuzzi.
11. Which language do you want to learn? I still wish I knew Spanish better than I do.
12. What’s your favorite quote (for now)? Since "for now" is in the question, all I can think of is my favorite line from Avenue Q: "except for death and paying taxes, everything in life is only for now."
13.What is your favorite color? Red. And Black.
14. What is your favorite piece of clothing in your own wardrobe? I love this brown sweater that I bought a year or so ago. I love sweaters, jackets of varying amounts of coverage and warmth.
15. What is your dream job? Another favorite line is by Sondheim: "it's not so much do what you like as it is that you like what you do." I have the greatest boss in the world, and if I did what I'm doing now for the rest of my life, I would totally be okay with that.
16.What’s your favorite magazine? If I were more, well, not ME, I would say my New Yorker. But I am so I have to go with Entertainment Weekly.
17. If you had $100 now, what would you spend it on? I would put it towards what I'm coveting right now: the e-cigarette. I really want that!
18. Describe your personal style? Lots and lots of black. Black pants, black sweaters, black shoes. It's just so much easier.
19. What are you going to do after this? Get some lunch from the commissary. Another good line? I was watching an old Boston Legal the other night, and William Shatner said, "no matter what, you always get to choose what you have for lunch." I can't stop thinking of that this week, and smiling.
20.What are your favorite films? All About Eve, West Side Story, Fargo, Desk Set.
21. What’s your favorite fruit? Strawberry.
22.What inspires you? Many, many people.
23. Your favorite books? It really depends on my mood.
24. Do you collect anything? I used to collect Playbills, but it got lost in the move back to L.A. I'm trying to start again, but it's a pretty pathetic pile right now. Can't wait for that trip to NY!
25. Any advice that’s come from bitter experience? Don’t waste your time trying to figure out the why behind "everything happens for a reason."
26. What makes you follow a blog? Above all else, honesty. A person can write about anything, but if I feel like I really KNOW this person through their words, then I don't really care what they write about specifically. And I like it when bloggers don't try to pigeon themselves to only talk about parenting. Or politics. Or any one subject. I find it interesting to learn why people think the way they do because of their own personal experiences. So the bigger the variety, the more I can come to feel like I really know - and care - about someone.
Kori couldn't remember any rules beyond tagging four other people. So, I will tag Shiona, LittleMansMom, pisceshanna, and SingleMomMindy. And, as Kori said, if you don’t want to do it, that’s okay; I love you all anyway!
Friday, June 19, 2009
Such a weekend will be coming up in just 7 days (not that I'm counting or anything). And herein lies the question.
What am I going to do? Other than one outing with a friend and maybe a trip to the grocery store, all I want to do is stay home.
I know staycations are now the "in" thing to do, but I've preferred them for years! Of course, I always have lofty ideas on what I'll do while the girls are gone. Rearrange the furniture, go through their clothes and get a Goodwill donation together, vacuum under the beds, go out and see a movie by myself.
And yet, what I'll most likely end up doing is sitting on my couch, perhaps knitting, but mostly watching movies and the stupidest of stupid TV shows I can stomach.
And when the day of their arrival home comes, I'll start kicking myself for all that I didn't get done. I really should've gone through my file cabinet and tossed paperwork from over 7 years ago. I should've written 10 posts to save and publish later. I should've cleaned out my email inbox at least!
But then the girls will be home, and I'll hug them and none of the should'ves will matter anymore!
Originally posted on LA Moms Blog, June 19, 2009.
Things are busy, but good.
Last night, I got to meet a lot of fellow Examiners at a get-together, which was really fun! The site is growing at an astonishing rate - it's in the top 200 sites in the world. Pretty exciting, and humbling to be a part of it. (If you haven't visited me there in a while, I did manage to get a few new articles up.)
I also just barely made the deadline on getting my latest LA Moms post up.
I'd like to give a special Father's Day greeting to a few great dads out there:
BusyDad: Not only an obviously devoted and loving father, but a very funny and talented writer. I hope you have a great Father's Day!
Jeff at View from the Cloud: From the moment I read your post on Ralph Nader, I've been a devoted fan. Congrats on your latest accomplishments with your new album, and enjoy your well-deserved Father's Day!
XBox: You're going to be a daddy, yay!
And to all the single mothers out there who play the role of both parents, Happy Father's Day to you, too!
Friday, June 12, 2009
This month, they've asked us to write about sexting. This was a topic that first came to my attention through this post by O Solo Mama. I'd made my comment and moved on. I recently returned to it and found that someone had a few comments of their own on my comment. So I'd like to take this opportunity to address that.
First, to be clear, her post was about one specific case wherein two 13-year-old girls had taken a photo of themselves in their bras. The girls were being charged for child pornography. I thought that was taking this a bit too far, and said so:
wow. Why is the DA wasting so much money and basically demeaning REAL victims of sex offenders in this manner? This is clearly set out to hurt women, if you ask me.Another commenter, who went by the name of Think, had this to say in response:
Perhaps the DA was making an issue out of the “sexting” to educate the public, to bring the activities of the youth into discussion/media, and to provide some punishment for those who do it.First of all, as far as I could see, this case wasn't about whether or not they were having sex. I don't think my comment implied in any way that I was okay with these girls having sex or swinging, but just to be clear, that was not the intent of my comment.
Why make the following comment?
“wow. Why is the DA wasting so much money and basically demeaning REAL victims of sex offenders in this manner? This is clearly set out to hurt women, if you ask me.”
Where do you draw the line? When is it “child pornography?” Is sexting okay if sent between two people or when one recipient sends it to the remainder of the school? Slapping someone’s rear doesn’t “hurt” anyone… A 15-year old having sex with a 25-year old might bring pleasure, be wanted, and not “hurt,” but it is a crime.
The issue is that these pictures make the participants look “easy” and “do anythings” who will do just about anything to “be popular,” “get that guy/gal,” …
You want them working for you? I don’t. No telling what they will do with company data if they are willing to get naked in front of the world. What is private any more? What is special and not shared with everyone?
However, perhaps everyone wants a swinging world… If so, I hope they can deal with the emotional issues since many can’t deal with the emotional situations that may be created in those relationships.
Sexting is like stealing the gum… stupid. I don’t mind making it illegal. My question to you is why do you want your kids sexting anyone? I’m just curious…
My opinion, in this case, is that the DA went too far to charge these girls with the crime of child pornography. They weren't, in fact, naked or even showing "private parts," nor were they engaged in sexual activity. I didn't go through and read all the links that O Solo Mama included, but in her post, she stated that one of the girls was on the phone, and the other had her hand in the peace sign. Doesn't sound like swinging to me. I also remain grateful that I'm not growing up in this day and age, when stupid mistakes I did as a kid may come back to haunt me as an adult! (And I can't think of any 13-year-olds that I would want working for me.)
Child pornography, in my mind, is when adults take pictures of children naked, either without their knowledge, or under coercion (and, in any case when a child is being asked to do something like this by an adult, it's coercion to me). Child pornography is rightfully a crime when the children are being victimized. This was not what I believed was happening in this case. Nor do I believe that these girls should have to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives.
As far as my comment regarding it being hurtful to women, women are the majority of victims when it comes to sexual abuse, harassment, and other sexual crimes. Comparing what some women (and girls) have survived to what these girls did diminishes the value of our laws designed to protect all victims of sexual crimes. In looking up your neighborhood in Megan's Law, for instance, does it really mean anything if sexting offenders were listed along with child abusers?
Having said that, of course, I would hope that neither of my girls would engage in sexting. I suppose I am grateful that it has come to our attention so that we are aware that it's happening, and can talk to our kids about it, but I still believe that it would be wrong for the state to prosecute my daughter as a child pornographer for taking a picture in what amounts to the same coverage as a bikini.
I did have an opportunity to talk about it with both Sylvia and Riley days later when a similar report was on the news about sexting, and I let them know that it could be considered criminal behavior. Just as most topics involving s-e-x, both of them were horrified that I would even suggest they'd do such a thing! As smart as they are, as emotionally mature as they are, Sylvia still doesn't seem to show interest in the opposite sex outside of swooning over Johnny Depp with me. Checking her cell phone online, she still sends the majority of her text messages to me. (Her last text to me was this gem: "I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love you a lot!")
These issues will come up time and time again, and all I can say is, I plan to continue to keep the communication "door" open, and continue talking to both of my daughters about technology and s3x as much as they'll allow it!
Yahoo! has asked us to share their top 10 cyber safety tips:
1. Yahoo! Safely - a complete resource for all things cyber correct.
2. Create a family pledge for Online Safety.
3. Applying a filter to your child’s Yahoo! Mail account is simple by creating a family account to monitor your child’s use of Yahoo! and edit and maintain their account settings.
4. Talk to the hand, Mr. Spammer. Yahoo! Mail uses the latest technology to combat spam and to help protect you from phishing and viruses. Yahoo!’s spam guard will filter out 97% of all things bad.
5. You can flag photos on Flickr for abuse via the “Report Abuse” link that’s available in the footer of every page.
6. 4 things to know before your child goes online.
7. Report abuse on any Yahoo! property.
8. Keep private things private. Manage your online profile.
9. Yahoo!'s SafeSearch feature is designed to filter out explicit, adult-oriented content from Yahoo! Search results.
10. Keep up to date with our safety experts blogs.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
I finished the book, The Case Against Homework. I'm sure I will be writing several posts about the book and homework in general in the future. Right now, I'll just say that I highly recommend the author's blog, Stop Homework, as well as the book.
The girls are out of school for the year. They had their last day last week, and are happily enjoying their summer at the Boys & Girls Club.
It does not feel at all like summer in SoCal right now. We've had many dreary days, and today there's a light mist in the air. I'm fine with the precipitation, but I just wish it were more like a warm summer thunderstorm like I remember from my days in Pittsburgh. That's the best thing I can say about Pittsburgh.
I don't think I'll do a separate post on the Tony's this year, but man, I was emotional throughout them! I cried several times, starting with after the opening number. I know, weird.
Maybe part of that is because we're going to New York for Christmas!! I cannot wait to be back in the City! My parents and I had planned to take the girls for 2010, but then, we all got too anxious and decided to go this year instead. My mom already got tickets for us to go to Radio City Music Hall on Xmas Day, which is one of the NY experiences I haven't done yet. I'll be adding a countdown here very, very soon.
I've also been spending more time lately with actual interaction rather than virtual. I got to see Natalie again last week, which was great. And I saw one of my best friends from high school, which I thoroughly enjoyed. We're already planning a night out together. I also got to lunch with the fabulous Jessica Gottlieb yesterday.
The girls did an amazing job at their showcase a couple of weeks ago, and I was thrilled that Sylvia's former principal came (as well as my parents, and another family friend) to cheer them on. It was a really wonderful night.
I've just been feeling so rich lately...rich in the friendships and truly amazing people that we have in our lives. And just content with my life.
I know that the last time I said this, I had a major shoe drop on me, and I'm cognizant of the possibility that it could happen again. But reading those again, I realize I'm in a completely different place now than I was then.
For me, letting go of the belief system that everything happens for a reason has been a major release. I mentioned, in an entirely different context, to some people that life is all just good times and bad times, with some fairly stable conditions thrown in every now and then. We all suffer pain, we all experience joy. None of us are immune. Somehow, I find that comforting. I no longer wonder what I did in a past life to deserve certain things, or anything like that.
We'll see if I sing a different tune when the next bad thing comes up, but today, I am good. Not great, not believing that life is heaven on earth, but quietly content.
Monday, June 8, 2009
Friday, June 5, 2009
The author argues, basically, that having a picture of your kids in lieu of yourself on your FB profile is somehow a statement that we don't value ourselves as women. Here's an excerpt:
It telegraphs a discomfort with even a minimal level of vanity. Like wearing sneakers every day or forgetting to cut your hair, it is a way of being dowdy and invisible, and it mirrors a certain mommy culture in which its almost a point of pride how little remains of the healthy, worldly, engaged, and preening self.She also likens it to not being able to have an adult conversation without talking about the kids in detail.
Those of you who are my Facebook friends know that, indeed, my profile pic is of my kids.
At the time, I simply didn't have any recent pics of myself that weren't with other people (usually, my kids!). I chose the pic of my kids because it was easy and convenient. I wasn't saying my kids were everything. I was saying, this is what I have in my pics file at the moment.
Since then, I have managed to rustle up a couple of pics of myself, but it wasn't easy! I actually had to schedule an appointment with my mother to please take a picture of me. (Riley loves taking photos, but generally, a good portion of my head is cut off. No thanks.) And yeah, I pretty much hate pictures of me. It's like listening to my voice on a voice mail: "ick, that's what I sound like?!?" Is it a weakness? Whatever. It's not top on my list of priorities right now.
Does that mean I don't care about feminist issues? Absolutely not! Nor do I think that it would make Betty Friedan turn over in her grave, as the author believes.
I can't speak for every mother (or father) that posts a pic of their kids rather than themselves; I can only speak for me. But if by doing so, I've somehow offended the feminist cause, then I think feminism needs to re-examine its priorities.
It can start, by the way, by not bashing on mothers all the time! We're exploiting our kids, we're not "real" writers, we spend too much time "tweeting."
And let's take a step back for a moment and see, oh maybe, what the moms are doing when they're on FaceBook? Hey, look at that! We're trying to connect with people! We're finding old friends, and newer ones. We add our schools (i.e., our accomplishments). We join causes. And yeah, sometimes we have a little fun taking quizzes about which '80s movies we remember.
It's not even just about being a mom on Facebook. It's about all that we are, and have been. And sometimes, finding an old friend on FB can remind us of who we used to be. Neither my friend (whom I haven't seen since high school!) nor I hid behind our kids when we met over lunch. Sure, we talked about our kids. We also talked about our exes, work, school, politics, the economy, and the poor teacher we were horrible to when we were in high school!
I think our feminist movement could get a lot further if we stopped arguing with each other about such stupid things. Instead of telling me what to do with my profile pic, or opining whether or not Jon and Kate should stay together, maybe we can concentrate on ensuring that working mothers have access to affordable child care. Maybe we can question more Fortune 500 companies on why there are only 27 female CEOs in their group (or 5.4%), even though women constitute 46.5% of the workforce.
Of course, I guess now that I've blogged about it, that makes me part of the problem!
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Granted, I grew up in Santa Cruz, possibly the last of the hippie towns. Ironically, it was when we moved to Los Angeles (the East side of Los Angeles) where I was bombarded with billboards and bumper stickers announcing that Jesus was coming soon. In junior high, I debated the rest of the class on the issue of abortion. No minds were changed that day, I don't think, but oddly enough, the event somehow brought me closer to them. The teacher thought that maybe I'd earned their respect by holding my ground.
I didn't want to write about the murder of Dr. George Tiller. I didn't want to open myself up to the kind of backlash I saw others getting. I didn't want to slip and say something maybe too personal. I don't think it was just my cowardice that stopped me, though. I think the stage of debate has changed since I was in junior high.
Oh, sure, I have friends with whom we can share our differences, and still respect each other in the afternoon! I have friends that are proudly Christian, and support gay marriage, and even another woman's right to choose. I have friends that I'm not even sure how they feel on the subject of God and we get along just fine.
But there are others, so many others, particularly in this age of technology, that would have no problem calling me out for even daring to express a differing view.
Not too long ago, my 11-year-old daughter had a bible thrust upon her as she approached the entrance of her public middle school. She'd already said, "no, thank you" to two others, until one simply intimidated her into taking it. Before I could make a phone call, she reassured me that another teacher had taken care of it.
Still, I wonder, what do those bible-thumpers really think? Do they think that we, the parents, haven't already made a decision on what impact religion will have on our children's lives? These kids are in the 6th grade, minimum! Did they think my daughter would not share this with me, and spend her nights under the covers, hiding her bible from her mother?
And did they think that separation of church and state shouldn't be important to them? Do we really want to start persecuting people for their different beliefs? Even in the Christian community, there are countless churches from which to choose. Has it not crossed their minds that their church might not be the chosen one? Do we not cherish one of America's most precious freedoms enough to endure the sound of others?
I believe in the Constitution. I believe in giving everyone the right to believe what they want. My only religious rule with my own children is they not choose one until they are 18. I want to give them the opportunity to make an informed decision - not one out of my doctrine.
What I stress to my kids when it comes to religion - or God, for that matter - is that no one knows for sure. That it is, indeed, a leap of faith that some choose - and that there are many varieties to that leap.
Oh, and to answer some of the most common questions: yes, I can raise my kids to know the difference from right and wrong because there are rules and laws in place to tell us so. When I'm looking for answers, I have people in my life, and finally, myself to turn to - and live with -and get me through the bad times. I hope instead of pray. I live with it when things go wrong (and cry and rant and rave). I don't believe that everything happens for a reason, but I know that unless it kills me, I'll laugh and smile again, too. And frankly, I have enough to keep me busy so I don't worry about what happens when I die. I'll be donating my body to science, and hope that by doing so, I'll give someone else a chance to walk again, or not suffer from Alzheimer's - or simply be a cadaver for a young aspiring doctor to practice their skills. That's enough for me.
My biggest worry, frankly, from raising kids without religion, is how others judge my children for it. They've been told that I'm going to hell, that they're going to hell - and not from adults, but from their classmates. And if they were boys, I'd worry that their classmates would beat them up for being "different."
I raise my children - proudly - in Los Angeles because of the diversity that our (albeit strange) community provides them. They've had classmates from countries I couldn't even place on the map! My youngest daughter has performed an Irish dance and a Philippine folk dance. They can count to 100 in Spanish, and they'll tell you that their friend "so and so" is African-American. They know when Hannukah starts, ask about Chinese New Year, and have even been introduced to Kwanzaa.
We'd simply prefer to spend our Sundays home, together.
Originally posted on LA Moms, June 4, 2009.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
The horrifying murder of Dr. George Tiller has reminded the silent majority of pro-choice Americans that it is time once again to stand up and be counted.To write your own letter, please click here. Check for a nearby vigil here.
I am writing today to urge you to direct your Department of Justice to enforce the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act and protect women, doctors, and other health care professionals in their legal activities of caring for women and their families.
I would also ask that your administration explore whether or not the murder of Dr. Tiller could be legally defined as an act of terrorism.