Saturday, February 21, 2015

2015, Settle Down

Around New Years, my 8 year old Violet developed a phobia of vomiting at school, resulting in one rough school morning after another ever since. It made no sense because she only threw up once at school a couple years ago, but thanks to google and real professional advice, I now understand she's been displacing her worries.

During the worst of it, Violet was having panic attacks at all times of the day and night, melting down, belligerent, fighting to not go out the door, whether it was to see family or drive to school. One morning, I was so overwhelmed by the battle, I asked her dad to come over and pick her up. He might have dropped her off at the side of the road on the way to school, but I'm told for only a very short period of time.

Any well functioning sibling knows the squeaky wheel kid sucks up your parents' attention. But Daisy will not go down without a fight. My valiant 11 year old has a new level of I DON'T HAVE TO FOLLOW YOUR RULES message. Actually, I enjoy spending time with her more than I ever have, but when she's in a rebel mood, I'm in a new phase of parenting.

What I know for sure is Daisy does not want to show me her homework, clean her room, or take the dogs out. The only thing she seems to really want to do is gaze at her phone and say weird things as I walk by like, "How's your face?" before correcting herself, "Oh, you have no idea what I'm talking about because you've never watched my friend's YouTube."  Right. "Pineapple." OK.

As I was telling on Daisy to her dad when he stopped by recently, she yelled, "WHAT THE FUCK?!" before stomping off to her room. I'm getting tired of the little girl drama . . . except that didn't sound like my little girl. I sat on the couch lost in thought until her dad asked me if I was going to do anything about that or did I expect him to. I can't remember who followed up that time but what scares me most is Daisy will be graduating from high school in six years. I don't have much time left to help her get the good sense to take care of herself in the world.

In the midst of my kids freaking out and all of us getting really sick in January, I didn't put as much time as I normally could toward a contracting opportunity I was totally excited about. And then the rad opp went away. Was my work not good or was I just not fast enough? This is the kind of stuff I can sit and stew over.

But I have to let it go, like so many other things. There's never been a time when I need to be more sharply focused on the future with its looming financial changes. I think I might be getting really mature or something because life has recently presented a series of hard lessons in things like patience, rejection, acceptance, and forgiveness. Though there are painful moments, I'm getting better at the not stewing.

Seeing my kids in the early stages of learning how to deal with anxiety and emotions brings out strong protective feelings in me. Last night I dreamt my kids joined a bunch of other kids to play on a balcony of a house filled with our friends and extended family. I opened the sliding glass door to get to the kids and noticed part of the balcony was open. Walking to the edge to look down, fearing that I would see a child sprawled far below on the pavement, I was relieved it was only a poor little kitty that had fallen. I got the kids back in the house and tried to alert my kids' dad, but he didn't seem to understand the danger and let them go back on the balcony again. That dream represents my current parenting challenge, except emotional stuff cannot be solved with safety gates.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Violets first blog

For a long time my dog Sadie has been cuddling with an orange bear.

Then all this sudden Scout my other dog started sleeping with Daisy's old stuffed pitbull dog.

Daisy all the time starts talking in a baby voice about how the pitbull is so Scout's baby and how cute Scout is all the time. When Daisy starts talking in baby voice I, Violet, start screaming my head off shouting STOP STOP! MAKE HER STOP MOM! Then Mama starts shouting at me. I HATE IT! I usually run to my room and slam the door! Then everything is a little while I come out of my room and apologize to Daisy and Mama. Then i am in a happy mood and Daisy gets upset! But at some point everyone calms down and makes each other laugh...

Everyone's fine after that. The next day I, Violet, i get up really early early and make myself breakfast and then usually play Minecraft my favorite game. When Mama wakes up all devices go down...that's when the drama starts. Mama  asks me to clean sometimes then when daisy wakes up that's when everything gets worse. Mama sometimes wants to go out for breakfast but me and Daisy rather just stay home and eat a breakfast sandwich. Mama tries to convince me and Daisy to go out for breakfast but we just complain if she makes us get into the car. We hate getting into a car in the morning. Once we have breakfast everyone is least for an hour. After we get back if we clean I complain. I say I JUST WANT TO REST!!!!!!!!!!! On Saturday nights we watch TV and play video games. Then i fall asleep. Daisy and Mama stay up late watching shows. Everything's silent in the house.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Lot Like Christmas

With Christmas 2014 a mere two days away, the kids and I have not been totally jolly. Things have been feeling serious with their dad confronting personal issues.

And me being distracted with trying to establish my side business.

I turned 44 earlier this month. That seems pretty serious too. Think fast because that's not early 40s anymore; there's stuff to figure out.

Having a winter break from my day job has resulted in three days of running errands and cleaning, including a mortifying experience with my fridge. I knew it was time to throw out that turkey carcass I was just about to make into a soup three weeks ago, but I had no idea I was stocking October meats and cheeses.

When I saw my kids turn to their devices this morning in front of the sunlight streaming through the windows, I announced we were going to the beach. Before stopping by the computer repair shop, making an exchange at the mall, and getting the car washed -- we were taking the dogs to the beach to find sand and shells to pour into the clear glass ornaments we bought for $1 a box at Goodwill last week. And by the way, we haven't done our charitable act yet this year, so add that to the list. The kids groaned and complained about another day of Things To Do, while I worked for a few more hours, allowing the stress to build up nicely.

By the time we got to the beach, I was totally annoyed with my freaking kids. To their credit, they did help me with chores yesterday, but they've been such complainers. I've been trying to open their minds to the fact that despite our personal troubles, which everyone has, we have food, shelter and people who help us, with love, which everyone doesn't have. But I understand they have feelings they don't know how to articulate, also known as complaining to mama about everything except what's really bothering them.

As soon as our feet touched sand, the kids went happy. It took me a little longer. The kids cheered me up by enthusiastically gathering bits of broken shell and scooping sand. We soon realized the sand was damp from days of rain and we would practically need tweezers to collect shells small enough to fit through the openings of the glass ornaments.

New plan. The kids would pick up trash on the beach for their approximate act of charity - let's call it a good deed - with the agreement that we are making a food donation by Christmas. Forget most of our errands today.

We were all a little overwhelmed after our last mall experience.


This was a better place to lighten our spirits.

And by the way, the thing I probably like least about having a kid in middle school is hearing YOLO! a billion times a day. I tried to tell Daisy it was tired, but she was adamant: "You're wrong, Mom! OK? YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT!"

Yeah, OK.

Violet, still safely in elementary school, vows never to say YOLO. Instead, she prefers JELLO. We decided it's code in our family for "Mellow ~ you're acting like a jerk."

We did stop at Target on the way home, which set off another round of complaints - maybe more of a half-round when Violet caught herself. We had several discussions today about why we've been upset with each other and the need for us to communicate in a more positive way when we're stressed. My takeaway was less cussing and calling names such as "you're acting like a brat," Violet's was less complaining and having fits when she doesn't get her way, and Daisy's was less obsessing over her phone and no sharing pictures of family without permission.

It wasn't until later that I realized it's actually Festivus today. It really did feel good to air our grievances and avoid the mall.

 Clearing the emotional air seemed more festive than decorating, which is why my tree looks like this now.

Still, there is peace under this roof tonight. If you have a loose definition of what peace sounds like.


Friday, November 28, 2014

Happy Crazyfamily!

The girls and I joined my bro at my parents' home in San Jose for Thanksgiving yesterday. As the adults got into a loud debate over current events, Daisy taught her younger sister how to use iMovie, a little something she learned in middle school recently.

When the kids showed their movies, it was surprising to see all the action that had happened a short distance away from the grown-ups, if action means a lot of footage of two old dogs. It was also surprising to see what happened to Grandpa's chapstick in one of the featured films.

I once heard a friend discussing kids with another friend, dad to dad. I was taken aback when I heard them say, "I'm so glad I don't have uncoordinated kids." "Oh yeah totally. That would be a drag." Um, what's wrong with uncoordinated people?

For me, it's: I'm so glad I have funny kids. It would totally be a drag to be living with a bunch of serious, non-freaky little people.






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Thursday, November 6, 2014


It went so fast.

The dogs didn't even debut their ghostbuster outfits. So bummed. Next year.

This was everything we needed to leave the house for one day last week and it wasn't even Halloween yet. Managing a week of dress-up days, a class party, a school dance, regular homework, project homework, and holiday festivities in the rain across two households was a challenge requiring a multifaceted approach.

And, voila!

Hello, ghost zombie cowgirl.

Hello, middle school dark fairy.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

i 11

Daisy turned 11 this weekend. This is apparently the birthday when you just hand over the iPhone. Her father and I worked hard to make her think she wasn't getting The Only Thing She Wanted. Then she asked for Just One Other Thing -- an iguana. Well played. She knows she is not allowed to get a 30-year pet under any circumstances, even at dad's.

Shortly after getting the phone, Daisy called out, "Violet! Come here and do a s%@#$ with me!!!"  (Please don't make me use the s-word.)  Violet's good sport smile had slipped as she watched Daisy change her wallpaper 20 times in 5 minutes, but she still cooperated, with forced smile and eyes glaring at the shiny trophy in her older sister's hand. When Daisy looked for that perfect sister s%@#$ to use as her next wallpaper, she wondered out loud, "Violet, why do you look so angry in all your pics?" They tried a few more times, until Daisy decided to use a picture of a unicorn vomiting rainbows instead.

And, by the way, my kids have got their grabbing skills down. Having a quick grab is really going to serve them well whenever they're too impatient to wait for other people to respond.


The plan for Daisy's slumber party took us on a giant lap through the neighborhood - movie, taqueria, swim, sundaes, and staring at screens of all kinds until the early morning. I had given Daisy the option for me to drop her off at a movie with her friends. She declined. I offered to sit away from her and her friends in the theater, and she couldn't quite say it, except for "actually . . . " . I realize that at some point in the not-so-distant future, I won't be allowed in the building, maybe not even on the block. But, this birthday, I got to sit with the cool kids.

And guess what other lucky thing happened? We made friends with a new kitty just after night swim. That was one lucky kitty. Definite highlight before we got back to our screens.

The morning after breakfast was gluten-free pumpkin pancakes with bacon. My daughter's friend offered to cook the pancakes, which she did to perfection, golden brown and slightly crunchy around the edges. Unfortunately, she burned her finger so I took over. The feedback was my pancakes were raw in the middle, so I put them back on for a minute. I noticed no one finished their breakfast before that tattle Violet told me the girls didn't like my pancakes because they were still raw even the second time I served them. So I marched right into the kitchen and burned the hell out of the rest of the batter. Dang it. Those first ones were really good though.

Happy 11.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


The spousal support checks from my ex are running out in months. Since starting the new job, I've been relying on my still fully employed parents to help with my living expenses. They're both turning 66 next month. My peripheral vision currently features a large countdown clock.

I had a stress breakdown a little while back and proceeded to sign up for almost anything. I passed an interview screen for an uber-style company that sets you up to be a personal household shopper. After chatting with the interviewer, I aspired to become a boss of the shoppers, like he was.

Violet, my 8 year old, did not mince words: "It's a stupid job and the people who pay for that are lazy." I'm telling you, the naysayers.

I backed off that idea when I was instructed to create my shopper profile with a mandatory pic. My day job involves local public events. It doesn't make sense to pair that with - and when we're done here, let me do your grocery shopping for you.

But what does make sense in this way mature stage of life? The gift of your 40s is you know stuff, right? I've worked in education for over 20 years now. My current boss has described my resume as having breadth and depth. I have tools.

In general, I feel less stressed than I did this time last year, so I'm pretty sure I'm on the right track, but once in a while, fear overwhelms me or I explode with anger. At different times this morning, each girl threw her backpack on the floor with lunch and water bottle on board. They would never do that with their dad. I'm the one who buys their backpacks, replaces their lost and broken water bottles, and tries really hard to make sure their lunch food is not gross. I erupted into a temper fury after the second thrown backpack - it wasn't pretty. I had angerover for the rest of the morning.

Managing the pressure of the looming changes so I can think clearly about next steps means my absent-minded professor self is in full effect. The other day at work, I exchanged a few pleasantries with a higher up I don't know very well. He asked me about my weekend plans. I told him I was going to take my kids to Open Studios, the October artist receptions. I explained, "It's something we like to do - you know, free food." He looked at me hesitantly and added, "Yeah, and it's a little art . . . a little culture?" I nodded.

A couple hours later I realized I had told someone who has an interest in how I represent myself to the public that I was taking my kids to mooch free food off artists all over the county. It's actually an inside joke I have with my kids - but that guy doesn't know that. The truth is we love seeing the art and talking to people about their creative process. That's why we go. I literally did not enjoy even one taste of free food or wine on Saturday because I was so disgusted with myself. The art was good though.

I have one more confession resulting from my deep-space-nine mindset. I was at Goodwill a few weeks ago, in the middle of putting the house back together post carpet replacement. I felt like I had been moving for days, when I found a little desk that would fit well in my reorganized space. I carried the desk to the car. It was heavier than I thought. As I struggled to fit the desk into my car, sweat pouring down my face, a man pulled up a couple spaces away and offered to help. He tried to maneuver the desk into my car too before asking how close my home was.

My back hurting from hours of moving furniture, the idea of walking the desk back into Goodwill seemed like the less desirable option to accepting a stranger's kindness. And I live so close. The man, who had a ponytail down to his waist that was banded about 10 times saw me thinking about it - and explained that he once was in the same predicament when he had a small car instead of a truck. He was empathetic.

I found myself standing in my driveway, thanking the stranger awkwardly and making it clear I had the desk handled from there. I looked nervously at the upstairs living room window, wondering if my kids were watching when he spoke elegantly and kissed my hand. I don't remember what he said because I was too busy thinking again after my brain had apparently stopped working for the afternoon . . . oh no, what have I done now? I started to tell the man that I wished there was a something I could do to repay him - then interrupted myself when I realized what I was saying and went with: I'll pay your kindness forward.

When I tried to nonchalantly walk into the house after the man left, the kids were ready for me. "Mom, what were you doing outside?" Nothing. I found a desk.

"Mom! Who was that man!?" "What were you DOING?" "Did he give you furniture!?" "Why did you bring him to our house!?"

I'm the worst liar when confronted so I explained what happened and how it was a bad mistake and also really, really awkward.

My almost 11-year-old Daisy's inner parent stepped up, "It's OK. Just promise me you'll never let it happen again." Agreed. He's probably a nice guy who's just a little corny. Still, I was peeking out the curtains for a couple nights after the arrival of the desk.

Despite the slips in judgments and struggles to make headway, I'm optimistic. Things are where they need to be. There are possibilities. Pulling this off will feel amazing.