Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bad Influence *Repost*

I wanted to repost this (from 11/2/09) because one of my mom friends recently asked me to buy her daughter make-up for her seventh birthday. She knew I let my daughters play with make-up and that her husband would not approve, so she thought she could blame it on me. Sure, no problem. I've got your little girl make-up needs c-o-v-e-r-e-d.

And besides, if you don't coach kids in how to do their make-up, they look far from glamorous. They use eyeshadow under the eyes, lip gloss around the lips, and sparkles everywhere. The effect is part clown, part Lady Gaga. It's art.

But there are still kids who occasionally chant Naked Man in my presence, and some weren't even at the infamous playdate. I sincerely hope I learned my lesson.


It started with the heaps of toys . . . the sparkly My Little Ponies, big-haired Barbies, and confetti of Polly Pocket parts. I could blame it on Grandma but I let it happen. Daisy and Violet were the kids with an overabundance of toys that might or might not be allowed at their friends' houses. It's not that I lack standards . . . I drew the line at Bratz dolls - too sassy (yet somehow, one Bratz still infiltrated the basket of Barbies under Daisy's bed). Playdates at our house were live infomercials for the latest pink plastic, much to the other parents' enjoyment.

Then there was television. Although I don't advocate for kids watching TV, I am a realist. Children will watch TV, and parents might as well use that fact to their advantage. If TV is severely limited, children will waste time figuring out how to get to houses where TV watching flows. Once finally in front of a TV, the sheer novelty might result in abnormally long periods of screen time, the child helpless to move away. If a playdate I'm hosting turns sour, I don't hesitate to put on one of the many DVDs that accompany our toy collection (again, I could blame Grandma). I did get the vibe that not every parent feels the same way after numerous debriefings at pick-up time . . . "So, how'd it go?" Oh, fine. We hit a wall about an hour and a half in so I put on Diamond Castle Barbie. Not afraid to use a little TV when necessary. . . am I right? Silence.

The other parents have actually been mostly nice about my lenient TV habits. I tend to stay away from the rigid types anyway. I've been particularly thankful for my understanding parent friends ever since the disastrous naked-man playdate. That one was ambitious to begin with: instead of having just one girl over for each of my girls, I had three who were Daisy's age and no one for Violet. I have never been with a group of five-year-old girls when someone wasn't being left out. Throw in a tag-along little sister and you've set the stage for drama.

At the infamous naked-man playdate, I had a craft table ready to go as a distraction from the drama and while we worked, we somehow got on the topic of earthquakes. Without thinking it through, I told the story of when my youngest brother bolted from the shower during an earthquake. In complete terror, he ran naked out the front door and down the street. After hysterical laughter, the girls were suddenly chanting, "Naked man! Naked man! We like naked man!" Um, does anyone have another story? You guys want to watch Kung Fu Panda? They could smell my fear, and despite doing everything I could to get them to drop it, the only topic of conversation until their parents arrived - and after - was the dreaded naked man. "Mom, she told us about a naked man!" The parents responded with what I would describe as cautious surprise. I sheepishly told the story and sent the kids home to reportedly continue the naked man jokes for days. Were we getting a rep?

The answer was yes. One of Violet's two-year-old friends showed her parents that she had learned how to "shake my booty" after another playdate at our house. The father apparently asked, "What is going on over there?" And really, I'm not sure because I don't remember any dancing that time . . . but kids are always showing each other new tricks. Daisy started sucking on her hair and using markers to "paint her nails" after playdates at other houses. That's weird, right?

I wish I knew who taught my kids their latest trick - mooning. I was at the shake-my-booty girl's birthday party last Sunday. The adults had been talking in the living room for a while, so I went to check on the kids in the backyard. To my horror, I discovered my daughters instructing the rest of the group in what mooning was, as well as strategies to maximize the impact (I refuse to elaborate). I stopped them then solemnly returned to the living room. . . I guess I should tell you my daughters have just taught all your kids how to moon people. I'm sorry.

I'm pretty sure the other parents will forgive, but they will never forget.

picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/randysonofrobert/367692547/

Monday, June 28, 2010

Freedom Lovers

The kids and I were on our own for the last few days. We met friends at Chuck E. Cheese on Friday then spent some time at Target with Grandma. On Saturday, we went to a fun birthday party at a bowling alley before the kids saw Toy Story 3 with Grandma and Uncle. (I was planning to see the movie too but we’ve had Toy Story 1 and 2 on a continuous loop at home for the last week. More than anything, I wanted to be without kids and toys, and movies about kids and toys, for just a couple hours. So I dropped them all off and stumbled upon dang good sales at H&M and Gap. No regrets.)

I let the kids stay up late and sleep in my bed. I encouraged them to sleep in late too, but Violet wasn’t taking the hint . . . who wakes up at 6:30 a.m. on the weekend? My four-year-old, that’s who. But overall, we had a lot of fun and good conversation.

One of my favorite conversations of the weekend was this morning. I was savoring my coffee after a close call. First thing, I discovered that I had somehow dusted my supply of coffee beans the morning before, and I had no one to blame but myself – how annoying is that. Refusing to give up the fight to stay in my pajamas as long as possible, I hacked through my crappy freezer that is in the “iced over/frozen hard” part of its dysfunctional cycle, which is only slightly better than the “not cold enough/everything’s melted or going bad” part of the cycle. I was thrilled to excavate a random leftover coffee bag at the bottom of the freezer with just enough for one full pot.

(Have I told you about my relatively new, worthless LG refrigerator? Do not believe the whole Life Is Good thing. I’m telling you it’s a lie. Their slogan should be: Life Is Barely Functional, and Whatever Is Still Working After Six Months Will Break Soon Thereafter. It seriously makes me so mad, I compose imaginary complaint letters in my head to calm down. I don’t think there’s anyone at that company who really cares if life is actually good.)

OK, so where was I? Oh right. I was clutching my coffee this morning, blinking and adjusting to a new day while Daisy was sitting on the couch a few feet away. She turned to me and said, “Mom, I want to do exactly what I want to do.” OK. “I mean, I want to do WHATEVER I FEEL LIKE DOING for the rest of my life.” Um. “I want freedom to do whatever I want and I’M GOING TO DO WHATEVER I WANT TO DO FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. I’m just going to do it.” I wondered what more could a six-year-old possibly want after all the fun and games her mama had recently provided. I mean, how was I holding her back? “Mom, I want total freedom.” As usual, Violet echoed her older sister’s sentiment, “Me too!”

I explained that we all think we want total freedom, but that probably wouldn’t be good for us. If we did whatever we wanted all the time, it would actually turn out to be what we didn’t want. Obviously, I was early in the caffeine intake. What made me laugh was how condescending Daisy’s response was. She kept correcting me, “No, Mom. You don’t understand.” Actually I do. You don’t think I do, but I really really do. However, you’re probably going to think I don’t get it for at least another 15 years or so - especially when your soul temporarily leaves your body after puberty hits, and then I will seem straight up crazy to you. The feeling will probably be mutual. BUT THEN, at some point in your twenties, I will seem like the smartest and most sane person you ever met. Just you wait.

picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/italintheheart/4457446579/

Friday, June 25, 2010

Orrin Hatch and Rand Paul Are Acting Like Stupid Jerks

I admire Unemployed Brooklyn's latest post, File Under: People Unclear On the Concept. Be sure to check out my rad comment. Your life will never be the same. I totally signed the petition.

picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/twak/3899224234/

Thursday, June 24, 2010


A while back, I mentioned that my husband and I were in counseling. We did individual appointments with the goal of transitioning to couple sessions. Then my husband’s employer changed insurance providers, and our counselor was no longer covered. The counselor cut us a deal because we were having a love fest in a counseling kind of way, and it was too exhausting to even think of starting over again with someone else. We cut back on the frequency of the appointments and paid out of pocket for a bit. It got to a point that enough was enough, and besides, money’s tight.

So let me tell you about the issues that led us to counseling in the first place . . . yeah, right. Maybe in a couple years, I’ll be posting about it like a madwoman, but it remains in the vault for now. What I would love to share is the most valuable piece of advice I received from the counselor.

Are you ready? Hear this. If at all possible, give yourself a time-out when you need it. That’s it. I came by this piece of advice while discussing a parenting issue with the counselor. It’s so simple, I almost missed it. Yeah, I know about time-outs. I give them to my children . . . cause they’re naughty. What I hadn’t considered in this particular situation is that telling someone to do something is never as effective as showing them how it’s done.

I had really had it with my family Monday evening. That day began with running late to my summer school class over the hill due to various unnecessary kid complications. There might have been an elevated voice moment before we even left the house. We hopped in the car, and I discovered an empty gas tank. After fueling up, we were late to meet Grandma for the kid transfer. I couldn’t find my phone when I went to call her and swore softly under my breath. My reaction had something to do with the learning center’s new policy of docking bonuses for tardiness. Daisy asked what I was saying. NOTHING.

Everything turned out fine. The kid transfer was made and I found my phone. I made it to class at a respectable time. I called Grandma when I was done to learn she had taken the girls shopping. We decided to meet at a mall food court. The kids love shopping with Grandma and she loves shopping with them. The kids had more than an ample amount of their desires fulfilled by the end of the mall experience, and then it was time to head back over the hill for aikido.

Later that evening, Daisy refused to clean her room once again. Then she lied to me about taking care of something Grandma just bought. And on top of everything else, she pouted when I told her I didn’t want her to experiment with making a rope swing . . . we have feeble trees and hello, NOT SAFE. As I was starting to lose it, I looked at the pile of new merchandise from the mall, and I was so done with spoiled children. Actually, it’s a longer story . . . I was so done with the lot of them – THE WHOLE FAMILY. I opened my mouth and a yell started to come out. I couldn’t really stop it at that point if I wanted to. Instead, I announced that I was giving myself a time-out, continuing to yell on the way up to my bedroom. There was a door slam. Not my best moment. Then heavenly silence. For about three minutes.

Violet popped in. Then my husband. Finally Daisy. I spoke with each of them at varying lengths then sent them back out. I needed some space and was really tired of what I would describe as low quality behavior. That’s my perspective. I’m sure they could each tell a remarkably unique story.

Here’s why I’m sharing this with you. I found that giving myself a break in an obvious way was far more effective than any time I’ve given the kids a time-out or suggested the same to my husband. Both kids cleaned their rooms – Violet ran straight to her room and started pushing her mess out of view immediately - and my husband listened without arguing. I was freaking amazed.

I hope my daughters will learn to give themselves time-outs before doing or saying something they regret. I also hope they don’t yell on their way to their time-outs or slam their doors, but who am I to expect perfection?

picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/aoifecitywomanchile/3489968692/

Monday, June 21, 2010

Father’s Day Menu Recap

I have no idea how cooking moms do it. Yesterday, I felt like I was standing in the kitchen alone all day cooking up the Father’s Day menu the kids planned with me (they’re strong on ideas but weak on follow through). And the sad part is I only really made one recipe from scratch. The rest was mostly Trader Joe’s. With that little bit of cooking then all that heating and serving and kitchen clean up . . . my day was done. Is it me, or do moms who cook also have clean homes? I don’t get it.

Strangely, the cable went out before lunch, just before Brazil played in the World Cup. My husband had to make a sudden dash to the pub to watch the game. Our cable never goes out. It was almost like some Father’s Day conspiracy.

In the process of making soup for a late lunch, I accidentally changed the clock on the stove – because I’m smooth like that in the kitchen. I suddenly looked at the time and thought . . . this soup is taking forever to make. And isn’t it time for dear old Dad to come home from the pub?! Wasn’t he supposed to be back hours ago? When he got back a few minutes later, he pointed out that it was actually 2:30, not 5:00. I think the kitchen vortex might have sucked me in because I lost all sense of time.

While I was busy, the kids instrumented some heavy toy migrations around the house. They also gave each other makeovers, painted nails, went in and out of the hot tub about six times, and changed clothes about twenty times. The mess that was left at the end of the day was a hazard to the general public, so I spent most of the evening cleaning. Gave up when I got to Daisy’s room, where apparently a powerful Build-a-Bear bomb went off after a horrible Playmobile accident.

Anyway, here’s the menu . . . can you guess the common ingredient in every meal? That’s right . . . pork! Dads love pork! Even the vegan/vegetarian dads . . . don’t let them tell you otherwise. Just sneak it in if you have to.

Father’s Day Menu


Scrambled eggs
Mini croissants

I decided to get fancy and beat some lemon juice into the eggs before scrambling them. I was trying to create a slight hollandaise flavor with the butter in the pan. I only used one meyer lemon, which wasn’t noticeable with eight eggs. Maybe that’s a good thing. When I told my husband about the lemon, he wanted to know where I had heard of that. I told him I hadn’t. I was just experimenting. I could tell he was really looking forward to what I was going to experiment with next. I do want to mention the croissants . . . you can find them in the freezer section of Trader’s. You leave them out overnight to rise and cook them in the morning. They seem impossible to ruin and taste like fresh bakery.



I butchered the hell out of the soup recipe. I didn’t measure anything. I added a jar of marinara and about three times the parsley. I used chili powder instead of red pepper flakes, clam juice instead of clam broth. I didn’t take the bacon fat out to add back olive oil. That doesn’t make any sense. I left the bacon and skipped the olive oil. And it turned out very well. The only problem is I made enough for 12 people, instead of the actual four I was cooking for. Well two, because the kids wouldn’t eat it. The baguettes were those slightly undercooked ones from Trader’s that you bake. Once again, fresh bakery goodness.


Pulled pork and coleslaw sandwiches
Beef brisket and avo sandwiches
Curly fries

You can see why I went with a lighter lunch. I did save a few calories on the sandwiches by using those low-carb sandwich thins. I use them often, which is probably why the croissants and baguettes were bakery crack to my family. The meat came fully sauced and was ready after two minutes in the microwave. I love you, Trader Joe’s.

We were going to make cookies but I thought it was overkill. The rest of the family ate ice cream while I started to slip into a food coma on the couch. I fought back by standing up and putting a few toys away. And that’s when I became aware of the full extent of the damage. I guess I shouldn't complain about a few hours of housework, but only because of pork.

picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hutchike/341178614/

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Dad Day

I’m thinking about my dad today . . . who isn’t, right?

Things have been a bit busy lately. In other words, life is proceeding normally. I planned to write a poignant story illustrating what my dad means to me, which would be posted first thing in the morning on Father’s Day. Then, all of a sudden it's the night before and I haven't started.

I’m tired and cranky after taking my kids “Father’s Day shopping” at the mall. Father's Day does not usually involve kids getting new bathing suits, beach towels, dresses, toys, or make-up. I said no, no, no, no, no! OK, so the kids each got a small make-up set. They wore me down, and we needed to get to two grocery stores after the mall if we were going to achieve our planned Father’s Day menu for their dad. We decided on a gift card for him.

I did get to see my dad Friday morning for breakfast. And here’s how I would like to celebrate him today . . .

~Top 10 Things My Dad Loves in the Biased Viewpoint of His Daughter~

In random order:

1. Sports, especially the San Jose Sharks and LA Dodgers

2. His new puppy Lena (you're welcome, Dad!)

3. Music, mostly jazz

4. His children, grandchildren, and extended family

5. Art (e.g. David Hockney's work, as pictured above)

6. His mom, my 98-year old grandma

7. Bongo drums, or is it congas?

8. Good food, usually described while making a one-handed piano finger gesture

9. My mom (my dad’s number one for 40 years)

10. Safety

I love you, Dad!

picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/oddsock/100830944/

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Pigtail Girl

The kids actually entertained me with one of their fights. Usually, their bickering is a marathon of torture and annoyance. I discovered yesterday that if they could just be a little more clever about it, then maybe I could enjoy the sister rivalry.

It all started because we stopped by Daisy’s school to pick up the yearbook she had forgotten to bring home last week. Daisy opened it on our walk back to the car and stared adoringly at her first grade class photos. On the way to our next destination, Violet somehow got her hands on the yearbook, and it surprised me how snarky she was for a four year old. I didn’t look through a yearbook with that much attitude until junior high. Violet had some good belly laughs about the funny looking kids. She pointed out one girl with giant pigtails.

Daisy lectured her, “You shouldn’t make fun of that girl. There’s nothing wrong with her. She’s just in kindergarten. Violet! Listen to me! She’s just in kindergarten! There’s nothing wrong with her!!!”

Violet continued to screech with laughter. Daisy explained, “You shouldn’t laugh at her because next year, she’ll be in first grade . . . and she might look different. You might not recognize her and then when she finds out you were laughing at her picture . . . she’s going to be sad.” Violet really didn’t seem to care. I have no idea how pigtail girl would learn of Violet’s rudeness, but I gave Daisy props for thinking about pigtail girl’s feelings.

Daisy demanded that Violet give her yearbook back but she refused. I eventually stuck my hand in the backseat behind me as I was driving to grab it out of Violet’s hands and toss it over to Daisy. After flipping through it for a couple minutes, Daisy announced, “Look at this girl. What is wrong with her? That is not a good looking person.” I glanced back to see a photo of a girl that looked very much like her sister . . . same hair and similar facial features.

The similarities were not lost on Violet. She shrieked when she saw the picture then retorted, “You know what Sis? Dat’s my best fwend! So dere!”

Daisy repeated gleefully, “That is not a very good looking person.” Nicely done.

picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/drexler/2506003006/

Monday, June 14, 2010

Not Really Friends

I still haven’t figured out if it’s cheaper to replace or repair my broken camera. I really don’t need another expense right now, so I’m taking my time. Meanwhile, another kodak moment lurks around every corner.

Last week, I pulled into my driveway and noticed one of the cats, Pinecone, chilling next to a gopher on the lawn. They were relaxed, alert. Just hanging. I assumed the gopher must be missing the back of its head. Pinecone is a good hunter.

I walked up to take a closer look, but gopher buddy was perfectly intact. I literally said . . . what are you guys doing? They both looked at me and no one ran. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten that close to a gopher before.

A couple days later, I see the cat and gopher hanging out in the same spot again. What the hell? That doesn’t make any sense. All I usually see of gophers is an internal organ or a foot left on the doormat. I felt like I should call somebody . . . aren’t there animal experts somewhere who would be interested in the first ever friendship between a gopher and a cat?

But it ended badly. Daisy found a headless gopher in the front yard yesterday. Chances are it was our little buddy. Daisy and her dad buried it and planted something on top of it. They circled the little plant grave in rocks. Daisy was hopeful that the gopher would know where it was if it woke up. I guess this isn’t a very good story.

I’m not sure what the moral is. Don’t trust your enemies even if they’re nice? It can take awhile to kill a gopher? Get that camera fixed so people don’t think I’m hallucinating Disney movies?

picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/misskei/150984677/

Friday, June 11, 2010

School's Out

School is out! I’m more excited than the kids. No packing lunches! No homework! No mad dashes against the clock to the classroom!

Though there won’t be too much lazing about for the next month or so. This Monday, I start teaching morning summer school. The kids will be at daycare or with my parents when I’m teaching. The afternoons will be used for aikido and art classes, girl scouts, and our backlog of IOU playdates. I couldn’t even squeeze gymnastics in, much to Violet’s disappointment.

Then in mid July, I might be without work for up to six weeks. The online college should come through by then, but that’s the kind of homework I can deal with. I’d like to give my daughters a slacker kid summer . . . watching cartoons and eating cheerios in their pajamas until noon . . . complaining of boredom while surrounded by stacks of toys and limitless possibilities . . . sitting on the sidewalk in the hot sun thinking about what to melt next on the pavement. Do you remember when a summer day could last as long as a week in adult time?

I do want to share some exciting news. Daisy will be going on to second grade next year! I received her final first grade report card yesterday. She brought all of her Belows to Satisfactories and many of her Satisfactories to Excellents. I am so proud of her. She’s out to Shrek 4 in 3D and banana splits with her dad this evening as a reward for all her hard work. She was given several options, and she chose Date with Dad.

Someone told me that many struggling first graders will have a sudden academic turnaround when everything clicks, and that’s what happened with her. She kept denying she could read, although she could in a slow and labored sense. But one morning about a month ago, she announced that she COULD READ. She had one of those Frog and Toad books in hand, and she demonstrated her amazing new ability right there on the spot. She carried that same book with her the rest of the day . . . she walked out of the classroom reading it when I picked her up from school . . . she read to her sister on the way to her grandparents . . . she read to her grandparents . . . and she went to bed with the book on her nightstand.

Daisy’s first grade teacher came back from maternity leave for the last week of school. She got to see Daisy and her new reading self. And more exciting news . . . there’s a possibility that our first grade teacher will become a second grade teacher next year. In that case, the school would offer her entire first grade class the opportunity to continue on with her a second year. She’s the kind of teacher parents will pull strings to get. I totally get it too because she not only was an excellent teacher for Daisy, she was a good coach for me. It would be the best thing to happen ever.

Happy Summer!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Memorial Day *Pics*

I am pleased to announce the arrival of the long-awaited MEMORIAL WEEKEND WITH BINDY PICS. I think the weekend is pretty much summed up here. No need to go on about it. Except where is Bindy and her beach outfit? And where's Taryn? And Sofia? And Hannabelle? I should say the first picture documents Daisy's first snowcone ever, according to her. She was pretty happy about it.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Puppy Love

There’s been some puppy drama in my family recently. It began with Donna, my daycare provider, bringing a puppy she was trying to sell to Violet’s birthday party. She targeted my mom – aka Grandma - because she had somehow heard that Grandma REALLY wanted a puppy. The puppy also happened to be hypoallergenic, which was one of Grandma’s requirements.

But then there was Grandpa. Grandpa was fine with getting a puppy, but not until the retirement years. They still both work full time – Grandma works 12-hour shifts at a hospital and Grandpa works round the clock in his home office. In their off-time, they regularly take care of my kids, including our dog Sadie. Grandpa wasn’t looking for any additional responsibilities. Not even if the responsibility was a precious little puppy.

Donna’s puppy was now 13 weeks old with no potential buyers in sight. As Donna was picking up the kids one morning, she made her final offer: the puppy was free. Later that afternoon at the grandparents, the kids and I pitched the amazing and incredible puppy offer.

Grandpa said no on his way upstairs to his home office. He reminded us that Grandma could have a puppy when she retires. In a moment of genius, Daisy replied, “Grandma could be dead when she retires.” That actually brought Grandpa to a stop on the stairs. But still, the answer was no. I think at that moment, we all thought we were getting the puppy. Grandpa was just being a little more stubborn than the rest of us.

On the way home that night, Violet explained why Grandpa didn’t want the puppy, “Dampa not like puppies OR tawawas [chihuahuas]. That’s not nice cause they cute.” I passed on this pearl of wisdom to Grandma.

A couple days later, I got an email from Grandpa.
Please forward this message to Violet:

Hi Violet,

Grandma told me that you thought that I didn't like puppies or Chihuahuas. I wanted to let you know that I love puppies and Chihuahuas are great too! I want to see if Grandma can wait to get a puppy or dog until she retires so that she will have more time to spend with it. It seems like I'm too busy with my work and sometimes I can't even spend very much time with you and Daisy.

Maybe you and Daisy can help Grandma find a dog when she is getting ready to retire. Please tell Daisy too.

See you soon.

I’m not sure I buy Grandpa’s enthusiasm for chihuahuas, but I did my best to communicate his message to the girls. Here is my reply.
That's a nice email dad. I asked Violet what she wanted me to tell you and she said "let her have a puppy." it's like talking to a brick wall. daisy says "just give her a puppy please."

Grandpa sounded defeated.
Oh well, I tried ... I guess when you are in quicksand you shouldn't stomp around : )

I was feeling optimistic.
does that mean you're getting the puppy?

But Grandpa STILL said no. Then Grandma got upset.

Last Saturday, on our way to see Bindy and friends, the girls and I had a very exciting mission: we delivered the puppy formerly known as Gretchen to the grandparents. Her name is now Lena. The name was Daisy’s idea and it clicked with my family because of Lena Horne’s recent passing. Everyone was so excited, including my younger brother, who is also Lena’s new housemate. Violet decided she MUST also name the puppy. Let me introduce you to . . . . Lena Snowflake (aka Lena Snowflayt).

I am happy to report that Grandma, Grandpa and Uncle have all bonded with Lena Snowflake. It has been noted that they didn't think they wanted a little dog – they prefer labs. However, she apparently ACTS LIKE A BIG DOG. BUT SHE’S LITTLE AND REALLY GOOD AND SHE LOVES ANTS AND SNAILS AND WORMS . . . the dog is clearly with the right people.

I’ll tell you why I’m excited about that little muppet: Halloween 2010. It’s going to be awesome.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Hope and Plastic *Repost*

Still in the process of tinkering with the blog. I'm appalled to read some of the early posts. At least I tried. Doing a little editing. Here's a repost of May 6, 2009 - freshly edited.


Garbage patches are on my mind lately. I first read about them in The Perfect Storm while visiting Kauai. As I read the novel, the massive power of the nearby ocean gave me that butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling. I've almost always lived on the coast and I swear the ocean around Kauai is especially wild.

It seems crazy that mere pieces of plastic threaten our all powerful oceans. It wasn't until I saw Fabien Cousteau on Oprah that I started to understand what an urgent problem it really is (remain in denial if you must, Oprah hater). If you live in the Pacific Rim, you are part owner of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. If you live elsewhere, you own a similar creature with a different name.

Here is what Wikipedia has to say:
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also described as the Eastern Garbage Patch or the Pacific Trash Vortex, is a gyre of marine litter in the central North Pacific Ocean located roughly between 135° to 155°W and 35° to 42°N estimated to be twice the size of Texas. The patch is characterized by exceptionally high concentrations of suspended plastic and other debris that have been trapped by the currents of the North Pacific Gyre.

I thought about this mass of floating plastic as I walked up and down the aisles at Toys R Us recently, searching for Violet's third birthday present. I confess there is a plastic mass in my home. I know people who are more careful than me about avoiding plastic, but as a parent it is hard to avoid it when you consider the car seats, strollers, high chairs, bottles, sippy cups, safety gates and mountains of toys. At some point, I accepted it.

I once wrote a paper on W.B. Yeats' belief in mystical gyres. He believed that human history was somehow cyclical, forming into a gyre that was spiraling out of control and heading towards total collapse. He also believed this was reason to celebrate and throw oneself into the arts and sensual pleasures. Every time I hear about the gyres of plastic in the ocean, it brings to mind the idea that the end is near, but not the end of the world in a born-again Christian type of way. Just life as we know it.

Being an optimist, I don't think we're heading towards gloom and doom but change and rebirth. Not that it will be painless, as change involves parting with the familiar and birth is really painful. But when I'm not feeling sorry for myself, I believe in the goodness, resilience and ingenuity of the human spirit.

I decided to go with bongo drums and a watercolor set for Violet's third birthday. There was a minimal amount of plastic and packaging. Violet likes to play on Grandpa's bongo drums. I thought she might enjoy her own child-sized version. Still, I wasn't sure what she would think - if she would merely throw them aside and go on to the next present or what. When she opened the drums, she said "OOOHH" and pointed to Grandpa. Then she gave a few pats to her new bongos.

Just take it as a hopeful moment.

picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kevinkrejci/4408273247/

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Another Tender Car Moment

On my way home from picking up the kids at daycare tonight, we were stopped at a side street in our neighborhood, waiting to turn left. A cadillac passed slowly on the right. I hadn't left much room but it got through. The female passenger in the cadillac called out through our open windows, "Dumb bitch!"

I did a double-take. Did that person just call me a name? Daisy asked,"What name?" I said dumb bitch without thinking. Whoops. That's a bad name. We don't call people that. You didn't hear what I said, did you? Violet took her thumb out of her mouth to say, "I heard it."

Daisy exclaimed, "Wait, Mom! Turn around!" What are you talking about? "Turn the car around. You need to go ask that lady if she just called you a name! Turn around!" What? No way! I asked Daisy why she thought that was a good idea. Would we be getting the posse together to defend her mom's good name? Would it be a mission of vengeance? "No," she explained matter-of-factly, "Because she might say no and she might say yes. But either way, you have to forgive her." Oh, alright. She's forgiven. But I don't want to talk to her. The we-don't-confront-strange-women-who-call-us-dumb-bitches discussion is on the list.

picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/juliejordanscott/4520470999/in/photostream/