Saturday, January 29, 2011

Weekend Reading

Parentella has been tackling No-Bullying Week. My contribution has to do with Sylvia's middle school girl dramas. I asked Sylvia what the best advice was that she used, and she said it's really important to be able to say how you feel to the person picking on you, and then to give them space. She said to talk to an adult you trust. The worst advice in Sylvia's opinion was to ignore it.

Also, leave a comment to enter the giveaway for tickets to see In Mother Words at the Geffen Playhouse.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Giveaway! Win Two Tickets to the Geffen Playhouse

The Geffen Playhouse has offered me two tickets to give away to see In Mother Words, starring Jane Kaczmarek!

In Mother Words
brings together thoughts on motherhood written by renowned playwrights, including Pulitzer Prize winner Beth Henley, Peabody Award winner Theresa Rebeck and two-time Steinberg/ATCA New Play award finalist Michele Lowe. From their press release: Whether you are a parent, have a parent or ever want to become a parent, this production will elate and terrify equally — much like motherhood itself.

The giveaway tickets will be for the performance on Saturday, February 19 at 3 pm, and as part of the Moms Day Out celebration, will be followed by a reception. And I'll be there with my mom!

To enter, just leave a comment. That's it!! The winner will be chosen Wed. Feb. 16 by random. (I'll just need your email address.) Oh, and obviously, open to SoCal residents only. Well, I suppose you could come from anywhere, but transportation and/or lodging will not be provided.

In Mother Words will be performed at the Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Avenue, Los Angeles opening Feb. 15 through May 1.

Disclosure: The Geffen Playhouse has offered me two tickets to giveaway on my blog, and two tickets for me to attend. I have not been compensated for this post in any other way.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Now Available on iTunes

17 years ago (wow, really?), I associate produced and performed in the 1937 Marc Blitzstein rock opera, The Cradle Will Rock for The Blank Theatre Company. We also made a cast recording, which we sold in the lobby, but mainly just because we wanted to make it. It is now available for purchase on iTunes. Crazy, huh?

I play Sister Mister, spoiled brat daughter of the rich fat-cat, owner of steel mill, Mister Mister and can be heard on tracks 4, 7 and 8.

They're reviving this musical as part of The Blank's 20th anniversary season. Some of the cast featured on the recording are in this production, but some of us (ahem!) are too old and have retired from the biz. I can't wait to see it from a seat in the audience! And it feels pretty good to have been a part of something that has endured. And is now on freakin' iTunes!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Changing the Subject

Sylvia was slightly concerned about a mini-drama that had occurred (in the never-ending saga of dramas that make middle school so much fun), and people asking her about it the next school day. She wasn't sure how to deflect the questions effectively.

After convincing her that "it's none of your business" wasn't going to cut it, and perhaps trying, "I don't want to talk about it," she still wasn't sure that they would leave it at that. So I suggested changing the subject, and making the conversation all about the other a good way. Compliment the questioner's shirt or shoes, or just ask about their weekend. I told her that people usually love to talk about themselves, and it's usually the quickest and easiest way to deflect.

That's the one idea she seemed to think just might work. In the end, no one asked her, but I think she'll still end up using the method at some point.

I don't know if anyone ever actually taught me that, but it has come in handy for me quite often!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What Riley Doesn't Know

We were playing Whoonu, a game where you pick what you think would be another person's favorite things. Every so often, the subjects on the cards are things the girls don't know (usually Riley, but every so often Sylvia). So the game is two-fold educational.

I wasn't too surprised when Riley didn't know what grits were. The girls have never been to the South, and probably don't remember the one or two times we've visited a Southern restaurant! I'm fine with her not knowing who Will Ferrell is.

There was one card that I couldn't help bursting into laughter when she said to me, "I have no idea what this is." The card said: Super Bowl Sunday.

Had it said the Tony Awards, she totally would've known!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Balancing my Need to Know

When I picked up the girls one day this past week, something was going on with Sylvia. She didn't want to talk about it. She lied down on her bed with her iPod and her cell phone. Of course, I asked her what was up, but she didn't want to talk about it.

And I let it go.

She's 13 now. She's not going to tell me everything. I know enough to know that there are things she's keeping from me.

When it was time for dinner, she came out of her room and we had a normal evening. She wasn't sullen (nor particularly giddy), she seemed just fine. The rest of the week, she was mostly her usual self.

I could have tried to bring it up again, but I decided to see if she'd say anything to me. She didn't. I didn't push because I'm afraid that if I push too hard, I'll push her away. I want to know, of course. I might be able to help. But maybe that's why she's not talking to me. Maybe she wanted to figure it out for herself. Or maybe she already has.

It may come up sometime. She may tell me next week, or she may never tell me. Or maybe it wasn't even something. Maybe it was just a desire to be alone, to listen to a certain song.

I know it sounds like I'm driving myself crazy worrying about it, but I'm really not. All of this stuff went through my head pretty quickly in the half hour it occurred.

It was just the first thing I thought of when I read The Daily Post's topic: Can you handle the truth? I'm sure I could handle whatever it was she would've said, had she said something. I think it's generally harder not to know. In the end, I think I did the right thing in just giving her space.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Weekend Reading and...

My latest Parentella post is on a topic that comes up for me on an all too regular basis:

Has Public School Been Privatized?

When we went to Info Night for our local public high school, we learned the fees for Choir ranged from $1800 - $3200. Had Sylvia been interested in joining, I would've been all over that! I'm fairly certain I've produced full-scale musicals on a smaller budget.

Parents need to ask questions. Even if you're not a PTA officer or volunteering in the classroom, all parents have the right to ask questions about funding, or any other concern. Whether we're paying schools in our taxes or tuition, we have a right to ask.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Another parental balancing act

I'm doing this all wrong. I'm supposed to post Mama's Losin' It writing prompt on Thursday, and I'm supposed to answer one of her prompts, but instead, her prompt reminded me of yet another education rant I have in me.

So, the question was: It has been said that kids these days are pushed into too many extra-curricular activities and are not given the freedom to play and be bored and to use their imaginations. Is this true?

When my kids were a lot younger, and someone gave me a copy of The Hurried Child, I vowed that would never be my child. And then I had children.

And I see my daughter light up when she thinks about the upcoming talent show auditions at her after-school program. I see her envisioning a life for herself. Even if all her dreams don't come true, I see the confidence she gains from winning an art contest, or a dance scholarship, or simply in those moments when she gets to shine on stage. Whether in an ensemble in a bigger venue or center stage in a smaller one, being involved in extra-curricular activities help make her who she is.

So my question is, should the extra-curriculars suffer for homework?

As much as I love Sylvia, I try to see all of her, and at this moment in time, I don't see her winning any academic scholarships or becoming a rocket scientist. She is capable of passing all of her classes, but it does not come easy to her. Nor does it seem to rock her world.

I see her go from dancing on air (almost literally) to deflating completely when the subject changes to school.

And yes, I know the arguments about homework and school teaching responsibility and all that, but there are also lessons to be learned about the responsibilities of getting the laundry done, being able to feed oneself, family obligations, managing a household budget. In other words, things they don't learn in school.

Let's face it: we're all dealing with limited resources. In our case, finances are limited (I make too much for her to qualify for financial aid scholarships, yet not enough to pay for college myself), time is limited (even if she didn't have extra-curricular activities after school, I still work a full-time job), and the childhood years are limited.

My job, first and foremost, is to raise self-sufficient adults. Is Sylvia really better off if she's sent off in the world, tens of thousands of dollars in debt for student loans?

As a former child actor myself, I know that her chances of making a living doing what she loves are limited, too, so I'm not saying that she should be focused entirely on these activities to carry her through. But I do think that she deserves to enjoy her childhood, and to envision a future that isn't bogged down with homework and debt. When we make school the focus of everything, the world of possibilities can decrease.

I have no idea what Sylvia's future holds.  I let her do as much as she can handle outside of school because she seems most free when she's dancing, drawing, singing. The freedom and the spirit and the joy are the real keys she'll need to a self-sufficient, and content, adulthood.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I Asked, I Received, and I'm Okay with It

After a few bloggy friends got reviewed on Ask And Ye Shall Receive, I went for it and submitted my blog. Of course, the moment after I did so, I started freaking out. A few months later, my 1-star review is posted. I'm actually thrilled I got a star!

No, this blog is not for everyone. It's not even for all mommy bloggers, or single moms, working moms or liberal atheist moms (could there be such a thing as a conservative atheist? I'm thinking no.), or whatever other labels I wear. I know I'm not the best writer, and I appreciate that Shinerpunch made a point of saying I'm not a bad writer.

And I have worried that I might be coming across as sanctimonious, but then someone comments or emails  "thanks, that helped." That's all I need to hear to keep doing this.

I've been writing less and less because I do have less to say lately. The girls are getting older, and I can only tread on their stories as much as they'll allow me. As was pointed out in the review, I still write about the hard days when I have them, because that's when I most need to blog, to process. This blog is still for me and for the readers who care.

And a special shout-out to Nilu, who has been so supportive. Thank you.

If you're here because of the review and you think I might be for you, welcome, take a look around, comment or don't. Totally up to you.

Oh, and I do want to utilize their suggestion to make a "best of" page, but really, I think that's up to the readers. So comment or email me what post(s) you like. There is a search bar here, or you can just say "the one that was about..." and I'll find it.

Thank you, Shinerpunch, for the review! I think I'd hate anyone after reading 500+ posts in a short amount of time, so my hat's off to you for what you do.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

No Reason

My mom likes to turn to the oft-used phrase, "everything happens for a reason" in times of turmoil. For a lot of years and momentary dramas, it would suffice. 6 months or a year later, we could usually come up with some justification.

Three years after my divorce, I still couldn't find the reason for all that had happened. And any reasoning I tried simply didn't add up. Sure, I could say it was so I could have my girls, but why did I have to marry him (while pregnant with the second child) and go through 2 years simply trying to get divorced? I could try and find a reason for why he acted the way he did, but no reason was acceptable for not paying child support. The puzzle pieces just wouldn't come together no matter how hard I tried.

So I just stopped trying.

And just like that, the moment of healing truly began. The past was what it was, and it was time to move forward. I was a single mother and these were my two girls that I loved and had to care for, and there were enough challenges with that to keep going backward.

A reasonable amount of self-reflection is certainly healthy so that we can learn from past mistakes and not repeat them as much as possible. I could look back enough to see the times that I dismissed concerns away, or believed that love could conquer anything, but there were no more lessons to be learned. I was just dwelling and waiting for some answer to reveal itself in marquee lights. That wasn't going to happen.

Even today, I can't say why X is the way he is. I can guess that there's some narcissism, some denial, and  self-medication happening to live with himself. But I can't say why he continues to be satisfied with his empty life.I can't find any justifiable reason for the girls to have a father they don't deserve.

But I do know that what I can do is be there for them always. My focus will be on what we have to accomplish this week, and what's for dinner tomorrow night, and getting the girls up and ready for school on time. The reasons are simple, the tasks achievable, and the goal is to live up to my responsibilities. How we got here simply doesn't matter anymore. 

This post is inspired by The Daily Post's topic: Does everything happen for a reason? Check the comments for other posts.

Monday, January 17, 2011

More on Paycheck-to-Paycheck Budgeting

I was so pleased that my latest Yahoo! Mother Board post on Shine, Managing a Paycheck-to-Paycheck Budget, was chosen as an Editor's Pick. After it was written, and as the comments started coming in, I thought of other bullet points to add:

  • Stop the paper madness. I've been reading a lot on organization lately, and so many tips and tricks don't apply to me, because I get almost no paper bills. My utility bills all come in through my credit union's online bill pay, and I've stopped all paper bills from companies that offer that option. Since I take the standard deduction on my taxes, there's no need to save tons of receipts. I write down the confirmation numbers when paying bills online, of course, but have rarely had to refer to them.(Of course, everything's saved in my emails, too, so if I ever needed to, I could print out receipts.)
  • More online tools. As I mentioned in the Yahoo post, I check my bank balance almost every day. I also check my credit cards at least every other day. I don't have to wait for the monthly bill to see if there's been any unauthorized use; it would show up online almost immediately. There are also many tools available online to check how long it will take for to pay off a credit card, the IRS site has a withholding calculator that I use at least once a year, and Suze Orman's site, of course, has a plethora of great tools available when I need to re-think and revise my budget.
  • Treat yourself in small ways. Long-time readers know my weakness for live theatre. Before I buy tickets for anything, I have learned to take my time and use any and all resources to get the cheapest tickets possible. Goldstar is a great resource for getting tickets usually for half-price, but I also go to the venue's site and see what options they have. I haven't paid full price for my treat for at least two years! While theatre may not be your weakness, think about how you can still treat yourself without breaking your budget. Maybe you budget it in once a month instead of once a week, or maybe there are other ways to get your treat for less out of your pocket. The point is, trying to deny yourself completely will most likely lead to falling off the budget wagon, and giving up any hope that you'll be able to get back on. By allowing yourself the small treats along the way, life is more enjoyable, and the budget seems more manageable.
  • Pay the bills immediately. I get up earlier than usual every payday and bring down my checkbook balance as soon as the coffee's poured...and I look forward to it! There's a sense of  pride of living up to my responsibilities, a small sense of accomplishment as I see those credit card balances decrease, and satisfaction in seeing the budget and balance all match up as expected. I double-check my budget spreadsheet to make sure there's no bill I've missed...and then triple-check my bank account balance. (There was a time when paying the bills was depressing, but as I gained more and more control of my budget, this activity has gone from a dreaded one to one that I actually enjoy.)
  • Become a happy homebody. I pay for satellite TV because I definitely use it (though I've given up premium channels, and Netflix series from those channels). I buy myself 5 songs on iTunes once a week. I don't have to go out to be entertained. I have all the tools I need at home to amuse myself. I'll blast my iPod, watch a movie I DVR'd from Turner Classic Movies, read blogs, waste time on FB. I am fortunate enough to live close enough to work to go home for lunch, another money-saving opportunity (not to mention, time to enjoy home without the kids). It makes for less blog fodder, but helps tremendously in keeping my budget intact. I savor every moment that isn't scheduled to be somewhere.
  • Pick your toys with thought for the long-term. As I mentioned above, I thoroughly enjoy the things I've purchased. There are so many other things that I covet, but continue to deny myself. I would love some type of laptop device, but don't want to have to pay for wi-fi or the apps that would add up quite quickly. I would love to go to Vegas for the weekend, but don't really want to pay for the hotels or food. Suze Orman brought this up in a recent show, and I was so thrilled that it was already something I've been doing: I try to ask myself whether or not I'll be saying "that was SO worth it" or "I wish I hadn't done that." If there's any room for doubt, the answer is no. 
  • It's never done. As I said in the original post, budget, revise, budget, revise. One commenter mentioned that she rounds up by $5. That's something I'm going to try and implement. It just occurred to me this week that the money from the 5th paycheck on those 5-paycheck months could go to paying down my credit card sooner - duh! By continuing to think about this obsessively, I continue to have those light-bulb moments.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Weekend Reading

A new feature! Over the weekend, I'll point you to my other posts.

My latest Parentella post is another look at parental involvement.

I'll be posting a Part 2 to my paycheck-to-paycheck budgeting post next week, so first, you might want to read Part 1 on Yahoo's Shine.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

For Christina

Christina Taylor Green, the nine-year-old killed in AZ over the weekend, was the daughter of Los Angeles Dodgers scout, John Green. 

I've just received a press release from the LA Dodgers that there is now a memorial fund for donations, and the Dodgers organization will be putting together a memory book for Christina.

Thoughts, memories, and condolences can be emailed to or mailed to: Dodger Stadium, c/o the Green Family, 1000 Elysian Park Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90090.

Donations can be made through the Community Foundation of Southern Arizona, or mailed to:  

The Community Foundation for Southern Arizona
In Memory of Christina Taylor Green
2250 E. Broadway Boulevard
Tucson, AZ 85719

The Nightmares

Every now and then, I have nightmares about the X. Sometimes, I'm the idiot who goes back to him, and watch the things that happened back then happen all over again, knowing all the time they were going to happen, and wondering why I was so stupid to go back. Or he's somehow infiltrated our lives; he's friends with my friends or works where I work. He starts being a real father to the girls, and then doesn't show up for some important event and breaks their hearts all over again. Sometimes, I've awakened from those dreams crying, and I go through the next few days on alert, afraid he'll show up around the next corner.

I had one of those dreams recently. When I woke up, there were no tears, no fears that the roller coaster was about to start all over again. I just felt relief that that's not our life anymore.

X still calls the girls every so often, but there are fewer promises to call back in a week or so. The girls catch him up and then it's over and everything's still normal.

There were times when news of the X would throw us off balance for quite a while. Eventually, we'd find our way back. Sometimes, it took therapy. Sometimes, it just took time. We don't go through those cycles anymore.

I never thought this day would come. I remember thinking that this was going to be our lives forever because he's their father forever. Somehow, we've worked it out, and any drama in our lives is about us, not him. And maybe someday, the nightmares will end, too.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up: New Year, Old Title

Haven't done a weekend wrap-up in a long time!

I am so glad the holidays are over! Yes, it was nice and all, but mostly, I just appreciate everyday life again; seems much less chaotic.

Riley and I visited a charter middle school yesterday, and we hope she gets in. It depends on the number of applicants and such, but it just felt right to both of us.

We got rid of some major clutter! Our living room looks so much more spacious now. Still some decluttering to go, but we're getting there.

Riley did not get elected to council, but she's okay with it, and I consider it a "win" that she went for it at all.

Instead of spending the Xmas money on clothes, I bought a new office chair for my PC desk at home, and an iHome dock to the most out of my music. And am enjoying them immensely. (Besides, my attempts to buy clothes just didn't work out. I seem to be between sizes and just couldn't find anything that I loved.)

I'm finding a new rhythm to life, a slow and steady process that is leading to more and more days of feeling like progress is being made, and that I still have time to enjoy my favorite leisure activities. This will sound touchy-feely gross, but I feel like I'm listening to my inner self more to do what's best for me. And the girls, of course.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Holding to the Ground as the Ground Keeps Shifting

I heard about the AZ shooting through one of my breaking news email alerts. I read the synopsis, exclaimed something, and told Sylvia what had happened. We did not turn on the news. I continued to check the rest of my emails, and threw in another load of laundry.

When more email alerts came in, I read them and continued my day. I helped Riley make dinner. We turned on music.

It may seem cold, but for me, it was the best course of action.

After the girls went to their room for the night, I read some more on the shooting, and learned of the heated tweets going on and all the rest of it; Palin is to blame, MSNBC should be ashamed of themselves, and then the attacks on anyone who supports Palin or MSNBC.

I understand the anger, the frustration, the tragedy of a little girl's life taken too soon. But this can't be the answer.

Of course, this happens on the heels of my post about sticking my head in the sand when it comes to the news. And I will not turn on CNN tonight (or any other news, for that matter). Because I don't think I can stomach it, and watching it won't change what has happened or help those who have suffered unimaginable loss today. There's nothing I can learn tonight from a talking head. I will never understand how someone could do such a thing. I mourn for the parents who lost their child today, for loved ones who lost friends, and I mourn for the shooter's mother, and anyone else in his life who loved him. I'm sure they couldn't imagine he could do such a thing, either.

I will tell my girls I love them, finish the laundry, and tomorrow, I will vote for our state convention delegates.

As could be expected of me, the news today brought to mind a song. The title of this post is taken from a lyric from William Finn's Falsettoland:

Holding to the ground as the ground keeps shifting
Trying to keep sane as the rules keep changing
Keeping up my head as my heart falls out of sight

Friday, January 7, 2011

Enjoying my Blissful Ignorance

Especially when it came to political news, I was the "go-to" girl and I relished in that. I got a perverse pride in these lawyers asking me my opinion on the propositions or the latest political scandal! I might bury my head in the sand from time to time, but then someone would ask me about something, and I'd rush to find the answers and get myself right in the thick of it again.

I haven't watched the news or even the Daily Show in a month. I've ignored links recommended by friends. I've kept myself firmly planted in my reality today, and when asked about this or that current event, I have simply stated that I know nothing about it, and I'm not going to take it on.

I still have my firmly held opinions and beliefs. No one will ever convince me that gay marriage is wrong. I am proudly liberal and atheist, and will continue to talk openly and honestly to my daughters about why I believe what I believe (or why I don't). I will raise my head up every now and then to get informed, and to be counted as a voter.

However, I will not let myself get riled up by the fact that Boehner is the new Speaker of the House. I will not get myself caught in the weeds of trying to understand every little nuance of the health care bill. I will not get in heated discussions with fellow liberals on whether or not President Obama is doing enough.

I have learned that the only way I can effect change is to be a change agent. It's true that all politics is local, but that doesn't mean fighting with your neighbors! It means showing up at the PTA meetings, volunteering at your local Boys and Girls Club, raising compassionate children, supporting the arts by buying tickets, making a financial difference by paying down the credit card debt. I share my thoughts and experiences on education at Parentella and, most importantly, never lose sight of my mission to educate my girls as whole persons.

I have realized that I don't miss the talking heads on the Sunday morning shows; that I know where to get information if I need it; that changing other people's minds isn't nearly as important as living my life according to my beliefs and opinions, and that, single parenting my two daughters and balancing my needs with theirs is the most effective political statement I can make.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Letter to My Daughter

My dearest Sylvia,

You are so much like me. You are the reflection I want to see in the mirror. Because already, you're light years ahead of me.

You have passion, you have drive, you have a fire in your eyes when you want something. You are so very talented, you are so very smart, you yearn to experience all that life has to offer.

And sometimes that scared me. Because I know that you will do anything for love, and it's not always enough. I have already seen your heart broken more times in your 13 years than I experienced my entire childhood. And my biggest fear for you was the heartbreaks to come.

Your biggest fault is wanting something so badly, and sometimes, it just doesn't happen. You will want to believe in what is not there. And I fear how that might shake you to your core, the way it did me.

But it won't. Because you're already stronger and wiser than me.

I don't know, maybe it's because you've already been through so much and gotten through it always a better, stronger, and even more compassionate person. You know that loving itself isn't a fault. You know that unconditional love is the most beautiful thing, and worth the fight, even if you lose.

It broke my heart to watch you learn that. You have had to struggle with extremely complex problems, and I didn't have the answers.

In the end, you taught me what unconditional love is. Your resilience, your embrace, your thoughtfulness, even when you were hurt, even when you had every reason to hate, you held onto that love. You still followed your heart, and accepted the consequences.

I can't stop the pain, and as someone who loves you so fiercely, so completely, it will continue to burden me. But I no longer fear your ability to get through it. The burden is on me to try and accept it as gracefully as you.

I know that throughout your life, you will continue to offer your love to the world. And I, for one, cherish that most precious gift.

I love you with all my heart,

This post is inspired by Yahoo! Mother Board's topic of our children following in our footsteps. Sylvia has already surpassed mine.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Riley's Hand

Riley texted me today that she needed to talk to me. Of course, I thought, "uh oh" and went to call her somewhere privately. The big news: she ran for Student Council!

I was shocked because she's never expressed any interest in doing something like that, and I asked her about it. She said, "I didn't write a speech or anything, but my hand just went up! I didn't decide, my HAND did!"

And she got up there and made a speech without any preparation, and despite her "racing heart." I don't know if she'll win, but I'm so proud of her (or rather, her hand) for putting herself out there.

She took it even further when she spoke up at our PTA meeting tonight about an idea that had come up during the campaign speeches about bringing a program back. Elected or not, she's trying to make a difference.

A day doesn't go by that I don't feel lucky to be a part of her life. And I can't wait to see what she does next.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Balancing My Life for My Daughters

I was manipulating myself ! As I read Take the Cake and realized just how much of it I was already implementing, at first I didn't understand the how and why behind my actions. Understanding it now makes it easier to continue to move forward.

When I can't do it for me, I do it for my girls.

I have always been aware that I am their foremost role model. When I get complacent about doing things for me, what spurs me into action is that knowledge that they are learning the good, the bad, and the ugly straight from what I teach them.

As Sondheim said, "careful the things you do, children will see and learn." (Into the Woods)

This is why improving my quality of life has become so important to me, I've actually taken action. That includes taking time for me, living within my budget, laughter and silliness!

Our newest change has been in the kitchen.

I sort of prided myself on not being a "homemaker" when I was a young adult. I was a feminist! Well, guess what? Feminists have to eat, too! X did the cooking when we were together, and frankly, may have been one of the reasons I stayed those last 6 months!

When we were out on our own, I knew I had to do something. We survived with DreamDinners for the majority of these years post-X, but I've had to face that it's just not in my budget anymore. DreamDinners gave me a great foundation to not be terrified of cooking, and I'm starting to build up my own repertoire.

I'm not calling a resolution, but I've told the girls that they're in charge of dinner on weekends. Riley cooks for us on Saturdays, and Sylvia on Sundays. I supervise, of course, but with Sylvia, I'm already pretty hands off. (And, hey, it's sort of a thrill for me to be the one to ask, "what's for dinner?") They were both quite proud of themselves this weekend, and they were also really supportive of each other. It's new, and we'll have to see how well we maintain this, but even if it doesn't end up happening every weekend, I'm more confident that they will have all of the tools and resources they'll need in their adulthood. The girls and I will continue to learn together, and by the time they're grown, we'll all be strong women that can feed ourselves!

Everything I do is for them. And that includes living my life to the fullest.

Read more posts inspired by Take the Cake at the 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.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Accepting My Weaknesses

We read this book in our leadership class about finding our strengths. A friend (and fellow classmate) and I are always making jokes about "that's not one of my strengths!"

I do think it's important to acknowledge that we will always have weaknesses. While some can be improved upon, just as with parenting my children, I have to pick my battles. There's only so much I can work on about myself!

One of the things I've learned to accept about myself is I'm not real good at talking. Particularly when I'm emotional or trying to make a point. I trip over my words, can't keep my pronouns straight, and I definitely put my foot in my mouth a lot!

Writing comes easier to me. Even if it's all jumbled in my head, I can edit/backspace/delete my way through it. (I don't go back and edit much here because I find if I take away every word I might find unnecessary, it's not a very far jump for me to decide that all the words are unnecessary!)

At work, I definitely do better in written communication than on calls. I still tend to get flustered, look at the wrong draft, call people the wrong names...I can sound like an idiot! In personal situations, I tend to cry a lot. (I sound like a lot of fun, don't I?)

Parentella recently did a chat on teens texting, and I wish I'd had that available to me at that age! A way to express myself that didn't leave me a crumpled, emotional mess.

I used to be much better at public speaking...or at least, I had more confidence about it. The older I get, the less comfortable I feel on display.

I could attempt to get better at it, but this writing stuff down thing has been working for me! I'm just going to accept this as one of my weaknesses.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Move On

If New Year's Eve is any indication on what the new year will be like, ours was perfect. Peaceful, even.

We went shopping so the girls could spend their gift cards, watched Alice in Wonderland and then played the Glee game (two of Sylvia's purchases). Then we each found our own little corners to do what we wanted to do. Riley tried to stay up until midnight, but fell asleep (of course). I woke her 10 minutes before midnight to watch the ball drop. She doesn't remember kissing me Happy New Year at midnight, but maybe next year! Then we all went to bed.

I mentioned in my holiday letter that we are going to have a lot of transition in 2011. The girls will both be graduating from their schools, and going to new ones. Where, we don't know yet. Moving again might be an option, depending on where they go. I won't know until March or April what their future holds so I'm trying not to think about any of it just yet.

Everything has been so stable for so long, but I think we'll be ready for some changes, too. Which sounds kind of weird, considering how good everything is right now, but I think it's just part of who we are. We've "conquered" this life, so to speak. To steal a line from my favorite fictional President on West Wing, "what's next?"

And, I wouldn't be me if I didn't also include a musical theatre reference! As Sondheim said in Sunday in the Park with George, it's time to "Move On."

While this may sound contrary to longing for a peaceful 2011, I don't believe it is. I think we have to acknowledge that change is inevitable, and I think we have the tools and resources to deal with change, and, hopefully, the changes will be for the better.

So I don't really see any need for resolutions. We'll "just keep moving on."

Watch the full episode. See more Great Performances.

*Amazon links are provided through my affiliates account. Any purchases made would generate a small referral fee for me. Video is via PBS' Great Performances, Sondheim! The Birthday Concert, which was so great, I've watched it 5 times already! I have no affiliation or association with PBS; just love them for bringing us this amazing concert.