Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Just so proud right now

Sylvia and I were on our way back home from her dance class when her phone rang. It doesn't ring that often. It mostly buzzes with texts.

It was one of the friends that she's had a lot of trouble with this year. I couldn't hear what her friend was saying, but I heard loud and clear what my daughter was saying after the friend spoke for a while.

First, Sylvia told this friend that she's too cool to not be with friends with, "but there are a few things you need to work on." They spoke for a while about their plans for tomorrow and then Sylvia asked her friend if she was ready to hear what she needed to work on. She prefaced it with, "I can't speak for what's going on with [another friend], you'll have to talk to her about that, but here's what I would like for you to work on."

"So the first thing is, I'd really appreciate it if you didn't call me "it" anymore." Her friend said something, then Sylvia said, "okay, I know. I'd just really like it if you didn't do that anymore."

"Also, I'd really appreciate it if you didn't yell at me anymore because it really hurts my feelings. And the next thing is, I'd really appreciate it if you didn't yell at Riley. I know, she can be annoying, but sometimes I want her there, and it really hurts her feelings when you do that so I'd really appreciate it if you didn't. So yeah, if you could work on those things, I'd really appreciate it."

Okay, so granted, I can't take all the credit here. Clearly, her years of therapy also come into play. (And my years of therapy, too, I'd imagine.) But, OMG, to hear her say that? To speak her feelings so articulately, so thoughtfully.

Good thing we were home, because I don't think I could have driven anymore through the tears of love welling up in my eyes.

Parentella posts

Parentella has improved its blog and it's now easier to comment/subscribe, etc. My two recent posts are:

I care too much to get involved and Getting organized (financially) for back to school.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Puppy Love

I don't think I've mentioned here that Riley has a boyfriend. Yes, at the ripe old age of nine.

She told me about it a while back when we had some time alone. She had a crush on this boy because he likes to play the same games as her. They got together because she told a friend that she liked him, and next thing you know, they're boyfriend and girlfriend.

I didn't know how to feel about it at first, but the more she told me, the more I relaxed. They mostly just hold hands and hang out together. It will most likely fizzle out as soon as they start school, but we'll see.

She's cracking me up, though, in the meantime. First, she was scheduling her time between him and her "gals," as she calls her group of friends. The first few weeks, I heard a lot about how great he is.

Then last week, when her BF didn't come to the club on Friday, she told me she felt "freeee!" Last night, after she'd talked to him a couple of times, she chose not to call him back when he called at dinnertime. Today, she decided to go on a field trip so she could spend a little more time apart from him.I asked her if maybe she wants to break up with him, but she said no, she still really likes him. She just needs her space.

Last week, I mentioned to Sylvia that she might meet a boy when she starts her play. Her response: "just because Riley has a boyfriend doesn't mean I have to have one." No, it certainly doesn't. I couldn't agree more!

Sylvia had her first boyfriend in 5th grade. Then, when he let her take the fall for passing notes in class, she told me that it was "so over." No boy has seemed worth it to her since.

I don't know how much of value I have to offer them when it comes to relationships, but I'm glad that they're at least sharing their thoughts and feelings about it with me. 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Weekend Wrap-Up: a little more than I can balance

It wasn't hard to go back to work on Monday after the Yahoo! Mother Board summit. I'm so lucky to love where I work, whom I work with, and what I do. A few of us went for Happy Hour after work on Monday, and I suppose that's one of the reasons it wasn't hard to go back! I knew there were cocktails in my future.

Thursday, I spent my lunch hour with Jessica Gottlieb and MarVistaMom to discuss the first book in Jessica's new online book club, The Saturday Wife.

Thursday night, a few of us went out yet again for Happy Hour after work, and on Friday, I remembered that I'm too old to go out two school nights in one week! Ah, well. I got through it.

On Saturday, we went to a friend's house to go swimming. I hadn't been to my friend L's house that she bought last year and I was so impressed, it was like envy.

I have been surrounded by opulence lately, and it started to get to me. The Four Seasons, of course, was beautiful. The girls' aunt's house and yard is amazing, my boss' house and yard from our department picnic is beyond spectacular, my sister's place that the girls love, Jessica's place is gorgeous, and now L. I know (because I've looked into it) that even in this market, I still can't afford to buy anything. I know that I'm doing fine and, considering where I was seven years ago, better than fine.

Still, when L asked how things are in my apartment, it was even hard to squeeze out the word "fine." There's no pool, I have to wake up at 6 on Saturdays to get my laundry done, there's no place for the girls to play outside, half the time when I put out my recycling bin, someone moves it and it doesn't get emptied (or worse, they throw trash in it), and two years later, I still don't know where to put everything. Plus, I made the mistake of looking at my 401k a couple of weeks ago, and that wasn't pretty. I have no savings to speak of, and the best that I can say about my finances right now is that I didn't use my credit cards this summer. That was my goal, it was a hard goal to meet, and I'm proud of myself for doing it. Still...well, you know.

Don't get me wrong: it's not that I need the most beautiful house or yard on the block. I've long ago given up on being able to keep up with the Joneses. I know I'm luckier than most in that I have a stable job, and I love it. It's not that I need the newest and brightest. Most of the time, I know that even if by some miracle, I could afford to buy something, I'd stay awake most nights, freaking out about the "what ifs."

And sure, I splurge a little here and there. Should I really have gone out for drinks twice this week? Of course not. Was buying those tickets to In the Heights really necessary, even at half price? Of course not. But those memories...they were so worth the monetary cost. Not to mention, even if I never splurged on these fairly minimal expenditures, they would not add up to a down payment for about 20 years. By then, the girls will be gone and a two-bedroom apartment might seem downright spacious!

Oh, good, I seem to have talked myself out of that envy all right!

So anyway, we had a great time at L's house, swimming and playing with her dog, and relaxing. One more week and the girls go on vacation!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Celebrating Life after Divorce

Since My Divorce is concluding the series on my balancing act today. My thanks to Mandy for all the hard work she's put into telling our stories, and finding the universal truths in them.

Today's post talks about how much my life has changed since that moment I knew my marriage was over, through a series of small steps. This past weekend's visit with X reminded the girls and I how much his life has remained the same.

Mandy made a comment on that post that she would have been surprised had the visit gone any different.  I would have, too. I consider myself a realist, and yet there was still that ray of hope that he might just be there for his girls for just a few days. My sister helped me put it in perspective: at least the girls know now that I didn't give up on him too soon.

I remember when I couldn't fathom doing it alone. I first tried leaving X when Sylvia was 18 months old. My confidence was shattered when I tried to take Sylvia to see Elmo, her favorite character at the time, and had to turn around and go home when there was no one to help me, to keep our place in line when she needed a diaper change. I felt like such a failure. Even though I knew at the time that she most likely wouldn't remember seeing Elmo (or that she missed seeing him), I was afraid at how many other things we would miss because I couldn't do it alone.

As we were starting our weekend trip, the girls were reminiscing about our trip to Florida, our trip to San Francisco and Santa Cruz, our trip to New York. These girls have not missed out on childhood memories. We will most likely never live in a house with a backyard, I will continue to say "no" to things they want but don't need, but they have not been deprived of a childhood.

That's not to say that I wish I'd left when Sylvia was 18 months old. Had I done that, there would be no Riley. I wasn't yet convinced that there was no hope for X. I would be living my life with a huge old question mark hanging over my head. I might even blame myself for X's continued failures to be a responsible human being.

I regret nothing. I can only be grateful that along the way, I've been given a few breaks, and that there have been so many that have shown us their love and support.

Someone commented to me that it must be depressing to look back at everything, but it hasn't been for me. It's so easy to get caught up in the day to day, moment to moment challenges that this was the big picture perspective I needed to remind me how much there is to love about my life today.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Not the Story I'd Hoped it Would Be

I really wanted to like Laura Munson's This is Not the Story You Think It Is. I got halfway through the book before I gave up.

It's not that she treats those of us that are divorced like we're quitters, although of course, I have issues with that. Mainly, I couldn't get past her need for us to treat her without judgment, all the while judging everyone else.

And no, it wasn't the line that her friends who questioned her marriage are mostly divorced now. It was the line that she couldn't exercise her artistic needs through playing Marian the Librarian in a community theatre production of The Music Man.

I happened to read that line while waiting for my daughter to complete her audition for a community theatre production.

I grew up doing community theatre. I spent most of my childhood in rehearsal, in performances for community theatre productions. I loved every moment of it.

Community - it gave me one. Theatre - it gave me a form of artistic expression. Every role, every dance, every song taught me something about myself, about humanity and the best part was doing so as an ensemble, a community.

A community that didn't care what your background was, that was only mildly interested in your profession if it could help the theatre (you work in retail? Can you get us discounts on costumes? On sets?), and only cared if you were a minority for the sake of the play (great! Now we can do Dreamgirls!).

And yes, it is a place where you can find joy, find happiness. There's nothing like an Opening Night, where everyone celebrates their hard work and accomplishments to give a high like no substance can. There's nothing like looking down from the bright lights during the curtain call to see your loved ones applauding you to buoy your self-esteem. There's nothing like a cast toast at the Opening Night party where everyone can appreciate how the community came together to make something magical.

Not to mention, she could have saved a lot of money on that trip to Italy. A trip to a community theatre can take you there, or to Paris, or to middle America, and find beauty, love, and triumph.

I'm happy for Munson that it all worked out. And I'm happy for my daughter that she will be a part of community theatre.

Read more posts on the book at the new book club site, From Left to Write.  

While I was given the book to read for free, I have not been compensated for this post.The link to the book is connected to my Amazon Associates account, and any purchase made from it will generate a small referral fee for me. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

More on Online Safety

The most emotional part of the Yahoo! Mother Board summit was discussing online safety. They showed us a video on one family's experience. Their daughter seemed like a fairly normal teenager; no real signs of danger or trouble. When she started to pull away a little from the family, they assumed that it was a natural development milestone, and respected her need for space. They were your typical family.

Until the mother found their daughter had hung herself in her room. They learned later that she had sent a picture of herself unclothed to a guy. That guy passed it on until eventually, it was on the internet.

In the discussion that followed, they talked about the moments that might have changed the outcome. If the boy that had received the photo had not forwarded it; if someone that received it had told his parents or her parents; and, of course, if she had never sent it.

The Yahoo! experts have broken down the issue to 3 C's: keep Current, keep Communicating, keep Checking.

Keep Current: As with everything, education is our most powerful tool for parents. We need to know the capabilities of the latest technology, the popular sites, the lingo, and utilize what we can to keep our children safe from the first time they explore the web until they're 18.

Keep Communicating
: As they get older, the conversation needs to grow with them. When they're young, the most common fears are cyber-predators and cyberbullying. The conversation cannot end when they reach their teen years. Both girls and boys need to be aware of the possible legal consequences to their actions. They should be thinking about how what they post can affect their lives later. Employers are googling applicants now. When they're in college, they should avoid posting pics of their beer pong parties. They also need to be aware of what their friends are posting. I suggest setting up a daily search alert for their names, their schools and any organizations in which they are active.

Keep Checking: Keep checking their web history, their pictures and videos, their calling history for any odd area codes. If they're not following the rules, then their technology privileges can be taken away. A cell phone is not a right, and most kids simply don't need the latest and greatest technology out there.

I still had one burning question, which I discussed with fellow Mother Board members at dinner. What do I do if the worst happens?

Because let's face it, teenagers do things behind our backs. I can do everything in my power to prevent problems, but I also want to make sure that any mistakes they make aren't irreparable.

In the event that a picture or something is out there that my daughter does not want the world to see, she will know that she can come to me and we will work together to remove it as best as we can. We will call those that have access to it, and their parents, and we will come together to minimize the damage as best we can.

I hope, of course, that it never comes to that, but I feel a little better at least having a plan in the worst case scenario.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Weekend Wrap-Up: #ymotherboard

What a glorious weekend! Yahoo treated us like royalty; from our fabulous rooms at the Four Seasons Palo Alto, where everything and everyone was impeccable, to the purple carpet roll-out to food, food, and drink; that alone was amazing. What really made the Yahoo! Mother Board summit were the Mother Board members: smart, funny, incredible women who inspire me.

I was already excited to spend time with the women I already know and love: the LA contingent. From left to right, MarVistaMom (and thanks for this pic, Sarah), The GoToMom, YvonneinLA, sweatpantsmom, me, Elise and SoCalMom.

The girls and I flew up together and got to ride in the car Yahoo! had arranged for us to get to the hotel. Their aunt picked them up from there, and I went up to admire the room.

It was beyond gorgeous! Huge flat-screen TV, the necessary coffee, a Boss stereo where I could hook in my iPod, a lovely enormous bath, a separate gorgeous shower, and the mother of all indulgences, a TV perfectly suited for bath viewing! And that was the first thing I did.

I ran into Elise, Yvonne and Sarah in the lobby, and joined them for lunch in downtown Palo Alto at Joya, where everything was exquisite, but I fell hard for their Kobe mini-burgers with chorizo. YUM!

After a stop at Starbucks, we ended up walking back to the hotel. From the lovely downtown area to the residential area, everything was gorgeous.

Our first event was a cocktail party at the hotel's pool. Again, great food, and even better, yummy cocktails. The party continued well after cocktail hour at the hotel's bar and at a crafting party. I started meeting the other mothers, including the fabulous Glennia, hooeycritic, Meagan Francis, and too many others.

On Friday morning, we arrived at Yahoo! headquarters, where we took the purple carpet to our summit. There was breakfast waiting for us, and we spent the rest of the day in conference. They also included plenty of breaks, each one with yet more food! I'll write more about the actual conferences later, but we learned more about Flickr, Shine, Yahoo! Green, Yahoo for Good, cybersafety, blogging & SEO tips, and great stuff to come.

After meeting and learning so much from all the great people at Yahoo, we were taken to Nola's for dinner (where the picture above was taken). We had that second floor all to ourselves, and had a great time.

Glennia had arranged for a private room in a Korean Karaoke joint, where a bunch of us made fools of ourselves, and laughed at the videos where someone always dies a gruesome in a B movie kind of way.

On Saturday, we all parted ways, and I joined the girls' aunt and their cousins. We went to see a movie, which was so bad I kept falling asleep, but the kids loved it, and then back to their aunt's house. This is my X's sister. She's an amazing and lovely woman and we had a nice chat while the kids enjoyed the last of their time together. She has one daughter Riley's age, and a son a little bit younger. She said when they got together, even though it's been two years, it was like a minute had just passed, and they immediately had a great time playing together. She took them all to Great America on Friday, and it sounds like they spent the rest of the time swimming.

Their father did show up on Thursday night after dinner, but not for long. He told them he'd be back on Friday night for dinner, but then said he had to work, and then did the same thing again on Saturday. They took it all in stride. As Riley was telling me how he didn't show up on Friday night, Sylvia said, "I told you not to count on it." It broke my heart all while I was so proud of her for understanding that about X now. He said he had to work, which just makes me nauseous. Most times, when fathers have to work, their children enjoy the benefits. So I guess I can be expecting a child support payment any day now, right? Don't worry, I'm not holding my breath. They've kept their comments to, "at least we got to see him," and certainly didn't let it interfere with enjoying the time with their relatives.

We were all happy to come home. And Riley's just spilled cereal all over the place. Ah, yes. We're back to reality!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Travel Tips from my Mom

My mother, in addition to being a lady who lunches, is a frequent traveler. My parents, both retired, travel at the very least 4 times a year. Here's what she's taught me and the girls.

It starts with picking up 2 gallon ziploc bags (or, another brand). And yes, I know those aren't the best for the environment, but for these purposes, completely re-usable. Plus, I'm pretty sure you can buy biodegradable ones at Whole Foods/Trader Joe's.

Figure out how many outfits you need, and then pack everything (socks, underwear, pants, shirts, etc.) for that outfit in one bag. Folded nice and sucked of all air, it should all fit just fine except for sweaters and the like, which can be rolled to prevent wrinkling and save space.

My mother has traveled enough that she's built up her own supply of travel-size shampoos and other toiletries. Take those samples and you're set for your next trip that's not in a hotel! I'm also a big fan of taking the pens, too. Throw them in your purse, where you're most likely to next be searching for a pen.(Also, a nice memento to have around that just might make you smile unexpectedly.)

If your kids are younger, use this same philosophy of packing for them. If they're older, they will have so much fun doing this themselves! I don't think I've ever seen my girls tackle a chore with so much enthusiasm. I just had them show me each outfit before we packed them.

Since everyone's bags look alike these days, add a colored ribbon to make yours stand out on the baggage carousel. Or go ahead and let the kids get decorative with their stickers and patches.

Get something different for the kids to do on the road/on the plane than their usual. I've found some great age-appropriate travel activity books on Amazon. And save another new activity for the ride home.

Try not to have too many surprises on the trip. My girls love to know the itinerary from what time we're leaving for the airport to what they'll be doing each day of the trip, and what time they get to go home. No matter how great a trip is, we are always ready to go home at the end of it.  And don't overpack that schedule. The adrenaline, the newness will wear off. Even though my kids are too old for naps, we would all get exhausted in the afternoon during our NY trip, and spent about two hours in our hotel room between daytime and nighttime activities; one hour to veg, one hour to get ready for the next thing.

If you're a single parent, don't let all the "real families" scare you. While I've certainly had those moments, I finally realized, hey, I'm doing something that take most people two adults to carry off! I've also really enjoyed traveling with my parents. Not just for the help, but we'll often enjoy a glass of wine at the end of a travel night and talk, and that's really nice, too. When I'm alone, I'll have the wine, curl up with a book and revel in not having housework to do at the end of the day! 

Finally, keep expectations in check. I can guarantee that not everything will go perfectly. Elevators will break, a meal will be disappointing, and of course, flights will be delayed. Don't let it ruin the trip for you. Find the humor in the situation and the smiles, laughter, and joy will follow.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


It's time. I'm off to the Yahoo! Mother Board summit. I am so very excited to see those that I know, and meet those that I don't. And abso-friggin-lutely looking forward to 2 days off from motherhood. To, you know, talk about being a mom!

It'll be even crazier, I think, than any PTA Convention. (If you've been, you know we fully take advantage of the bar at those, too!) There's talk of crafting parties, karaoke parties, not to mention the conferences, cocktail hour, and Ladies Night Out arranged by Yahoo!

We'll also be talking about social media, cyber safety, and, of course, Yahoo! products and services. We'll be Twittering the whole time, so please join the party virtually: #ymotherboard.

Is that not enough April while I'm gone? Fine, then, catch up with the continuing series of my story at Since My Divorce, and my latest rant at Parentella. Even I'm sick of me after all that!

I look forward to catching up with everyone soon.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Balancing the Parenting Emotions

New York Magazine's article, Why Parents Hate Parenting, has already sparked the blogosphere, and I'm kind of late to the party. Still, given that it comes so soon after my own meltdown about parenting, I think it's helped me find my balance again.

While I can and have readily admitted that parenting is hard, that sometimes it feels like it's sucking the last of my energy, I don't hate parenting. I don't regret anything about my life. Still, loving my life doesn't mean I love every single moment of it.

It would be easy to dismiss these findings that parents are less happy than non-parents as us parents being too self-absorbed and not wanting to make the sacrifices. I don't think this is the case for the majority of parents.

I think most of us want to do our very best, and when we fall short in our own eyes, that's upsetting. Not because we're failing ourselves, but because we're afraid we're failing our children.

My recent breakdown wasn't because I thought my kids were the problem, but because I was. Or I thought I was, I felt I was, whatever. I can't say my parenting has changed dramatically from then to now. It's mostly the same as it ever was: getting up every day, getting some things right and some things wrong. And, maddeningly, knowing that I won't really know the answers for years to come. See, because parenting isn't just about getting them through the day; it's about trying to give them the tools to go out into the world and being able to cope and overcome all the struggles that come their way. It's about hoping that they learn to love their lives the majority of the time. And I really won't know if I've done right by them until it's too late.

I don't know what they've taken away yet. I don't know what lessons have gotten through, and which ones they'll only learn by experiencing their own mistakes. I can see some things I don't like about myself in them and I want them to overcome those better than I have.

It's not that I hate parenting; it's about some of the ways that I parent that I hate.

Yet this article actually helped me. It helped me see that sometimes I get way too caught up in my head. It helped me see that not every moment has to be a teachable one. We can just be now and then.

Every day, through all of it, there have been moments where we simply enjoy each other's company. We laugh together, we sing together, we get silly together. Not a day goes by where we don't tell each other we love each other. No matter how many times we may make each other crazy, no matter how many times others may hurt one of us, we absolutely know we are there for each other. None of us are perfect, but we are unconditionally loved.

And sometimes, when I look into the future, I can see the three of us at some outdoor cafe, laughing and finishing each other's sentences and teasing each other like we do today. I can see us talking politics and Broadway musicals and friendships and loved ones and clothes. I have no doubt in our bond; I know that the three of us will be close forever.

The act of parenting may be hard and maddening and frustrating and test me harder than I ever imagined. Being a part of this family is worth all that and more.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Middle School Girl Drama, Part 3,012

The drama with Sylvia's friends, whom we'll call A & T, have been going on for nearly 2 years now. Sylvia's known A & T for approximately 2 years now. A & T have been friends much longer, and Sylvia has wanted to make the best friendship go 3 ways.

My heart breaks for her, as it does as I've listened to nearly every episode of this Drama for the past 2 years. Sylvia's desperation for their friendship is transparent. I don't think either A or T are necessarily bad people, but they certainly know how to exercise their power over Sylvia. They know just how to make her cry, they know just how to make her happy, and they do.

Sometimes, I've just listened. Sometimes, I've engaged in Active Listening, mirroring her feelings back to her. Sometimes, I encourage her to talk to them about her feelings. In times of frustration, I've been guilty of telling her to just ignore them, too. I've told her to think about what their friendships mean to her, and to decide whether or not it was worth the continuing drama in order to keep their friendship. I've told her a version of "honey, they're just not that into you." 

Today, as she was telling me the latest episode in the car on the way home, I wondered what to say this time. I didn't want to repeat anything that I've said before. More than anything, I just want it to stop hurting her so.

I'm lucky, I know, that I haven't yet witnessed my girls experiencing a physical pain that I cannot stop. I don't even want to think about that because it's hard enough to watch her cry over the names they've called her, the mean things they've said about her hair and her face, the fact that they won't give her their cell phone numbers.

She says she wants to talk to them tomorrow. I ask, "what do you want to say to them?" "I want to tell them that I know what they've been saying about me."

Ah, that's the other wrinkle. Because a lot of it is hearsay. And while I do believe these girls are saying these things about her (because I myself have seen enough of their actions around her to buy it), I don't want this "talk" to become a verbal fight between the girls. They've all talked to staff members, they even had someone come in and talk to the girls about "Mean Girls" in general (which led to quite a few kids apologizing to Sylvia, BTW), but enough is enough.

So I offered another alternative. I told her that all she needs to say is that she's done. She knows they're not friends and that's that.

Of course, she didn't like that. She wanted to move instead. (Amidst my wry amusement that she thinks it's that time of year again rears my maternal guilt that somehow, they think that moving is the solution.) I let her get some emotions out.

I then pulled out the greatest hits. We don't let other people run our lives like that. We can be in the same environment with people without having to be best friends. I gave a few examples; of someone I know at work that she knows I'm not crazy about, but that I'm not rude to them. I just don't offer any personal information about my life to them. I can be in the same room with them, I can answer questions and even be in a group social setting with them, but they will never be allowed to hurt me because I won't let them get that close.

She seemed to be listening. There was silence for a few moments, and then I added, "And I'm sorry. That sucks."

She changed the subject, we were home soon, and we had a peaceful night at home. She told me she loved me quite a few times. She gave me hugs, and sat next to me on the couch while we watched a stupid TV show together.

I don't know what she'll do tomorrow. I can only do so much, and she will have to do what feels right for her.

Monday, July 12, 2010

I was a lady who lunches for a day

After a work function off-site, one of the VPs announced we needed lunch. She picked the place, a 5-star "quaint" French restaurant in a high-end neighborhood. I, of course, had never heard of it, but the VP said many order picnics from there to take to the Hollywood Bowl. She hadn't ever been there, either, but she'd enjoyed such picnics before.

We noticed that this was definitely a place for "ladies who lunch." There was a table next to us outside on the patio with about 7 women, all dressed to the nines, enjoying champagne and laughter with their meal. Almost all of the tables were full of such women. I suppose we looked like we were like them - except our dress was more SFW than sundresses.

We marveled at the amount of women who fit this bill. It wasn't a criticism or judgment of them, mind you, it was just an observation that, even in this economy, there seem to be plenty of women who can enjoy this lifestyle.

Later, I was talking to my mom about my day, and was about to tell her our observations. I'd just gotten the name of the restaurant out, and my mother exclaimed, "I've been there! I love that place! I go there with my girlfriends and we drink mimosas."

Who knew I was related to a lady who lunches?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Weekend Wrap-Up: mixing work and family

This week was less eventful - and that's a good thing! Work continues to keep my very busy during the day. I always have over 1,000 posts in my Reader these days, but thanks to the guest post by Molly on Florinda's blog, I now have a much more organized way of dealing with them. Feedly has become my new best friend. Although I confess, I didn't really delete any blogs. Rather, I added some in order to get to know the Yahoo! Mother Board members that I'll be meeting very, very soon. (So excited!)

Saturday, we spent the evening at my boss's house for our summer get-together. We all had so much fun! This is how I know we work somewhere very special; we're all so pleased to spend time together even outside of our workweek! The kids especially all had a good time swimming together. He has a beautiful backyard, and a beautiful pool, complete with a water slide. Of course the kids had fun, right? Excellent food, excellent wine, great complaints whatsoever.

Except that it was actually drizzling when we got there! I have no idea what's happening here in SoCal. May Grey and June Gloom are quite common, but we're going to have to come up with some catch-phrase for rain in July if this keeps up! It's not really a complaint, mind you, just confusing.

That reminds me: there was an earthquake this week, too. It was a fun, rolling one. It seemed to last quite a while, but not long enough for my colleague and I to interrupt our conference call. The girls didn't even feel it where they were.

Sylvia had another audition Sunday morning. Riley spent the night at my parents' since we had to be up and in Orange County quite early. I was glad when they kicked all the parents out and told us to come back in 2 hours. Thanks to my GPS, I found the nearest Starbucks and actually had 2 hours to myself to read! (Book posts coming soon.) What was also nice was when we returned, they let us see the kids do the dance combination they'd learned. Sylvia did very well. We have no idea if she got it or not, but aren't really thinking about it. We mainly went so she could get more auditioning experience under her belt.

Now we're all just chillin' at home, enjoying the free time left in our weekend.

The girls will be seeing their dad soon (if he remains free, that is), and are excited about that. They're also excited to see their aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. I will be nearby, but hopefully, not needed. I'm not stressing...yet.

Right now, I'm just trying to enjoy the fact that I feel like me again; not too overwhelmed, just the right amount!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Budgeting Bites

So I am just a few weeks away from writing my last summer child care check - YAY!!

I've been thinking - some might say obsessing - about these costs for most of this year. I started a budgeting plan back in November, I think; originally to get me through our vacation in NYC, and then in anticipation of the summer months. Yet the stops and starts to this plan have come with nearly every paycheck.

First, there was finding the right budgeting tools. I had been trying something online, in order to be able to access the same info from both home and work, but after it lost my info twice, I said, screw it. I'm going back to good old fashioned Excel spreadsheets.

I crunched the numbers, and started tallying my expenses through the categories. I decreased some expenses, and even made sure to include a savings budget. Yet, every month it seems, something happens to derail all my planning.

There were choir fees and fundraisers, new clothes desperately needed (no, not for fashion's sake - simply for Sylvia to have pants that fit, or Riley's shoes with broken soles that needed replacing), car issues, unexpected gifts to buy, and oh sure, sometimes the complete breakdown of discipline and tickets to In the Heights to be purchased. (Did you watch the results episode of So You Think You Can Dance this week? The cast of In the Heights that we saw at the Pantages last week was on!!)

And just as I'm reaching the end of paying for summer care, I just remembered that I need to start setting aside funds for Riley's 5th grade science camp this fall.

I can't say that I regret a dime of what I've spent. From that magical night at the Pantages, to the wonderful memories Riley will have of her camping trip, to the value that Sylvia is getting out of her dance classes this summer...really, the financial costs seem so little for what we all get in return.

Still, budgeting bites.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Since My Divorce

I started reading Since My Divorce a few months ago and I loved the idea of acknowledging that for many of us, our lives are improved because of divorce. The site profiles the how and why and what happened next.

Today, she begins her series on my story.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


So a click here, a click there, next thing I know, it's half past midnight and I've spent over an hour reading my old posts. I went back to the beginning of this blog and read at least the first 100, and remembered a few things about how I like to parent.

I thought it would all seem so out-dated. They were 7 and 10 when I first started. Even I can't believe how much has changed in almost 3 years, but what's more important is I remembered what should be the same.

I talked so much about listening back then. I talked so much about taking the time-outs for myself, to talk after a battle and find the underlying issue. I haven't done that in a while.

I've assumed that I know what their problems are. I've assumed that Sylvia's just being a teenager (just a few months early), that Riley's just reacting. I've assumed that the biggest problem is that they have to share a bedroom, and have been feeling appropriately guilty and self-loathing about that. I think there's more to it than that.

Just taking that step back tonight has made me think of one issue that I hadn't previously thought about. All I've heard is their excitement about seeing their dad soon. It's just now hit me that they're probably anxious about it, too. They may not be talking about it, may not even be conscious of it, but it's probably there.

And, hey, there's just been a lot going on lately. From Sylvia's play to her new dance class to the friendship drama to family reunions and simply not a lot of down time. It's a lot. It's been a lot for me. It's got to be multiplied for them.

Even Monday, when they got back from spending the night at my parents' house, they both just disappeared into their room and vegged for a while. I thought: great! But clearly, they were in need of some down time.

I need to figure out how to get some alone-time with Sylvia. Riley will straight out tell me when she needs to talk to me alone, but Sylvia doesn't. I need to take that first step. I need to create some sort of Date Night - or just even go into my room and close the door - and let her know I'm still here to just listen.

I'm tired enough to go to bed now. I think I just might wake up more refreshed than I have in a while.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Weekend Wrap-Up: a little excitment, a little freedom

Friday night, our holiday weekend started with In the Heights at the Pantages. Granted, we saw this on Broadway, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see Tony-award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda reprising his original role. Now, we loved the Broadway production, and it was chock-full of amazing performances, but Miranda was so worth seeing it again! He has that "it" factor where the performance comes from passion beautifully mixed with talent that just makes you feel like you're soaring. Not to mention, it's an amazing musical!

Sylvia was most definitely soaring after the show when we went to the stage door and Miranda talked to her. She told him she was about to be in her first community theatre production, he wished her luck, even sang a few bars from the show! She was flying!

Saturday was kind of a lost day. I can't say I did much of value, starting with sleeping in until about 10! Been a long time since I've done that. The girls were also sleepy, considering we didn't get home from the show 'til midnight or so. I didn't feel much like getting dressed, let alone doing laundry, so I didn't.

On Sunday, we went to my parents' house for a Fourth of July meal and Sylvia suggested the girls spend the night there. Fabulous! Had enough energy to get the shopping done, do laundry, and then just enjoy some peace and quiet at home.

The girls have been home for an hour, and so far, so good. I've decided to enable a little more negative thinking when it comes to parenting. Just a good hour is worth enjoying for all its worth!

I haven't posted Parentella links lately, so I'll leave you with these. Another post inspired by the book Girl in Translation, a bit of a rant on the bureaucracy involved in education, and my rationalization on why I don't always choose education as our top priority.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Better than Before

Thank you for your thoughtful and supportive comments and emails. It always helps to know we're not completely alone in this. I'm doing a little better, but I still have a long way to go.

I know I've given some of the same advice that I was given; don't be so hard on yourself, it's okay to cry, we're not perfect. I totally agree with all that, but I still feel like there has to be more that I can do just a little bit better. Except, as one person told me, sometimes you're so stuck in survival mode, you just give up on the idea of being able to ever do more, be better. And most days, that doesn't bother me. But right now, it still does.

I'm not an emotional wreck anymore, just kind of stuck in neutral, hoping that something jolts me out of it.

I don't want to sound like the girls have been total terrors. We have had our share of laughs and smiles and hugs through all this. Sylvia is thrilled she was cast, and she also started dance classes last night, which she really liked and we both think will be really good for her. Riley is still the cutest and wisest 9-year-old I know, and her hugs are the most delicious moments of my days. It's not that I love them any less. It's just that I'm feeling inadequate for them and I don't know how to improve right now and I hate that. Because they deserve the absolute best.

But I know I won't be able to figure this out until I start feeling stronger. I need a little sleep, I need a few more laughs, and probably a little escapism to get there.

Tomorrow night, I'm taking the girls to see In the Heights at the Pantages and I'm really looking forward to that. And the money situation is a tiny bit better this week than it was three weeks ago so that's a good thing. And I'm very excited about the Yahoo! Mother Board summit coming up.

I was looking forward to the 3-day weekend, but since my work life is going better than my home life, I'm kinda scared now! Worse comes to worse, I'll start counting the hours until it's time to go back to work.

Oh! One more thing to look forward to: my parents will be taking the girls on vacation for a week so I will get a break.

So that's how I'm getting through my days right now. One minute at a time. Whatever works.