Monday, March 1, 2010

Another First!

Here at "Motherhood: Livin the Dream" I realize, as mothers we all savor those cherished Mothering "firsts".

Some "firsts" are viewed as milestones, which elicit heart clutching, audible sighs and instant ponderous reflections. The "first ultrasound","first smile", "first laugh", "first steps", "first words", the list abounds.

Then there are other "firsts" that qualify as entry into an elite, secretive, upper society of mothers, a club if you will. Entry into this universe isn't always welcome to the receiving party, as these sorts of "firsts" tend to be things that cause the mother some level of embarrassment or chagrin.

There's the "Mommy-why-is-that-man-so-fat" club. The costly "did-I-really-just-call-a-plumber-to-remove-whatever-it-was-my-child-flushed-down-the-toilet-club?" The not so popular "visit-to-the-Principal's-office-to-discuss-why-calling-someone-a-'fartmaster'-in-Mrs. Zent's-3rd grade-class-isn't-acceptable" club. My personal favorite, "full-on-category-F5-red-faced-public-temper-tantrum" club. Oh, and the recent "I-used-markers-to-color-myself-my brother-and-the-dog" club.

Today, March 1st 2010, I have entered into another club. One I proudly proclaimed I'd successfully managed to avoid through all three children.

The "while-mommy-was-busy-attempting-to-erase-her-flabdomen-I-used-the-scissors-to-cut-my-own-hair" club. Or, more appropriately known as "mommy-blissfully-unaware-rounded-the-corner-to-find-her-youngest-child-sitting-amidst-a-pile-of-hair-on-the-floor" club.

I had always prided myself on adequately (or so I thought) informing the children that "scissors are for cutting PAPER only". Every time one of my friends would announce her entry into this club, I'd scurry about re-reminding the children of the rule of the scissors.

I've spent the last 30 minutes attempting to camouflage my membership into this organization. I suppose it serves me right, vanity thy name is Mommy. I just can't stop remembering the little boy from that movie "The War", Noe somehow resembles a Lipnickie. You can't see it from the photo angle but his deepest cuts he took 'do' show through.

Oh well, it's just hair. It grows.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Lucky 13

13 years ago today, I took a walk down the aisle, joined hands with my lover and became his wife. Each year that passes seems so surreal to us, "can it really have been this long" we ask ourselves, "it must be."

I remember the first time I met him. It was one of those leading man meets leading lady movie sequence moments, the edges of my vision blurred and I'm pretty sure I heard "Dreamweaver". (although he didn't hear "Dreamweaver" until he laid eyes on me again a year later)

When I looked at him, I knew. I said a silent prayer, "God, please, let me marry THIS man. If not this man, then one exactly like him." Neither one of us yet 17, I was no woman and he was no man. I saw what he could be, and what I could be, together with him.

Friends and acquaintances have asked us for the "secret" to our success, but we've never really had an answer to that question. We have certain rules we live by, and principles we've stuck to over the years. I think in honor of our 13th anniversary, I'll list 13 of them.

1. Be Best Friends. You can only have one best friend, and it should be your mate. Have close friends, have cherished friends, have treasured friends, but only 1 best friend. If something good happens, or if something bad happens he's the first person I want to tell and vice verse.

2. Fight Fair. When you are in the midst of an argument, stay on topic, or the issue at hand. Don't go back to 6 months ago and dredge up some shit the other person did to piss you off, it's counterproductive. Don't be childish, immature or abusive. No name calling. Don't deal in absolutes (You always or you never...).

3. Guys or Girls Only Nights "Out" In Moderation. We all need time to commiserate with members of our sex, but in moderation. Spending too much time away from your mate in a bar/party atmosphere might lead to trouble. (I said "might" don't hate on me, if you've always done it and it works for you)

4. Fuck Your Problems Away. It's true. Don't laugh. It works. Annoyance leads to frustration, frustration leads to tension, tension leads to problems. Tension can be eliminated with a good old fashioned headboard banging, wall pounding good time!

5. Don't Go To Bed Angry. This is our version of what our grandparents always said... "Don't let the sun go down on your anger." We've interpreted it to mean, not literally, "don't go to sleep until you've resolved it" but rather, "don't let an argument/disagreement go unresolved." It may take 24 hours - but we talk about it, resolve it and come to a conclusion or a solution.

6. Be a Team. Don't fall into the old bullshit trap of "that's a woman's job" or "that's man's work". Work together. Every marriage has delegated "his and hers" chores, but that doesn't mean the other can't do them.

7. Don't Betray Your Spouse. It would seem obvious, but sharing things about your spouse to another person (faults, secrets, shortcomings etc) is a betrayal. It's also inviting a third person into your marriage and it's not good.

8. Date One Another. Hold hands, laugh, talk just like you used to, before you got married. Pass notes, write poems, send texts, buy flowers, buy lingerie.....

9. Balance Each Other Out. Ralph is very methodical in his decision making, he carefully examines all possible outcomes and analyzes every detail before making a decision. I, on the other hand, think on my feet. Somehow, it just works out that we fill in the gap for the other person.

10. Have hobbies. Have things you do by yourselves and together. Fulfilling your interests makes you a happier, unique person and a better mate to your spouse.

11. Limit Your Distractions. Limit the amount of time you spend on things that might distract you from spending time with your loved one. (i.e. video/computer games, internet surfing, television shows, texting, sporting events etc) These types of things in excess make the other person feel undervalued and alone.

12. Learn and Grow From Your Mistakes. You're going to have times where you missed the mark. Both of you. Sometimes singularly, sometimes jointly. Learn from those mistakes, evolve, move on. See mistakes as an opportunity to grow and be a better couple.

13. Keep Things Simple. We have never been able to understand why friends (and some family) we've had over the years go to such extremes in celebrating holidays, birthdays and special occasions. We prefer to treasure day to day, life moments as gifts instead of expensive gifts

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Laughing Wild

Yesterday was one of those days. You know the kind? At first little, inconspicuous things happen. Spill your coffee. Burn your toast. Stub your toe. Subsequently, as the day progresses bigger, more ominous things are happening all around you. Toilet overflowing, bounced checks, car breaking down in the rain...etc. By the end of the day you're screaming aloud to anyone who will listen -- "I'm. Having. A. Bad. Day."

Instead of taking the lengthy route, I'll simply bullet point the occurrences of the day:
  • Started my day at 3am. Could not fall back asleep, children waking at 6am.
  • One of my children was kind enough to colour in the grout lines in the bathroom with a blue marker.
  • Another child was kind enough to break Joseph's fingers off from my nativity set.
  • My youngest child had explosive, pants staining diarrhea all day.
  • The dog climbed up on the trash cans and pulled down a sack of trash, dragging and chewing it all over the yard.
  • I washed, dried, folded and put away six loads of laundry. (I still have about 3 more to do)
  • Internet and telephone service was off and on during the day as a result of the storms in the area.
  • My darling husband called me from work to remind me of a few things. (like to make a bank deposit, not to plan anything for Christmas Eve, etc)
  • Neighbor brings by a tray of cookies at noon with me still in pajamas.
  • Christmas guests have not firmed up their plans.
I think you get the idea.

Nearing the end of the day I really didn't have the energy but,I just had to laugh. Doing so, I remembered a favorite play I performed pieces from in High School called "Laughing Wild".

It's comprised of coinciding monologues performed by a man and a woman each discussing the challenges of living in our modern world and their personal forays into functional insanity. She's smart but slightly imbalanced and a little scary. He's smart but depressed, fearful and insecure.

"Laugh, laugh, laugh. Laughter is a tonic. So forget crying. Cry, and you cry alone. Laugh....and you cry alone later."

Monday, November 16, 2009

Saying Goodbye to Television

In an effort to add value to our family relationship and inspired by our friends the "Starbizzles" a little over one year ago we endeavored to become a television free family. Today, that milestone has come to pass, and I'm proud to announce that as of midnight tonight, we will no longer have cable/satellite television services!

Around a year or so ago, Ralph and I began to notice a severe disconnect in our family relationship where viewing was concerned. Television became the biggest time waster, not to mention the dollars which were wasted to maintain this drain in our lives.

Taking a cue from our friends who had been a television free family for years, we began to turn off the TV; only turning it on for select programming. The evenings went smoother, when we weren't living our lives in 30 minute intervals. There was ample time to visit with one another, read, craft and pursue other intellectual interests.

Pleased in the direction our family was headed we called to disconnect our services, only to learn we had another year left in our commitment with Direct TV. Bringing us to today.

I've been asked how this works. We will still have televisions and DVD players in our home. We will buy and or rent DVD movies and television series to collectivize our viewing moments.

Our goal is to commit to this endeavor for 1 year, where we will collectively evaluate the situation together as a family and determine if we would like to continue or not.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Value of Friendship

I have been feeling a bit bitter and disillusioned about the concept of "friendship" as it's applied to me in my lifetime until recently.

A virtual friend and fellow blogger, Jaime (Just1mama) wrote about a friend from years gone by who is dying from cancer and has only months to live.

Jaime's thoughtful and provoking entry allowed me to take a mental inventory of my own feelings about friendship.

You see, I recently had a falling out with a friend.

My friend and I live close to one another, have kids the same age, share similar interests and taste in music,movies, and clothing. Our husbands even work and play softball together.

It would seem I had found the Thelma to my Louise, or the Rose to my Blanche. For nearly a year we enjoyed one another. Weekend bar-b-ques, adult's nights out, softball games, trips to the park, holiday and birthday celebrations.

Somewhere, somehow it turned cold. At one point, my friend shared with me she felt hurt by me, and the way I talked to her at times. I apologized, and honestly meant that I'd had no intention of making her feel that way.

About a month after that initial discussion my friend then told me that she felt I had a penchant for "one-upmanship" and if she did anything, I would invariably upstage her by doing it better.

At this point in the conversation, (which was being held via instant message) my temper got the better of me. I literally had no idea what she could have been talking about. We carried the conversation into a phone call where I pressed her for details of my one-upmanship.

My friend really had no examples to lend except to tell me that I "don't have to be better" than her. We argued for the better part of what felt like forever, but was probably only ten minutes. Suffice to say it didn't end well.

I was angry, she was angry. I spent all afternoon evaluating the conversation, the history of our friendship and my soul. Later in the day, after I'd calmed myself, "friend" contacted me via text.

Another 2 hours of arguing passed by. Another 2 hours of our lives wasted.

"Friend" told me that we should just "agree to disagree" and the mark of true friendship is "arguing about things, and getting over it." I knew in that moment, I wasn't meant to be friends with her any more.

It's not that I was not willing to accept and acknowledge her feelings, if I believed I had done anything wrong. I never intentionally trumped her accomplishments. I said I was sorry she'd felt that way, and that I certainly did not see our friendship & life achievements as a competition.

I chose to end the friendship.

Since that moment, the fall-out has been nothing short of hurtful and maddening.

Perhaps my method of ending the friendship was where I went wrong. In the past, I always salvaged my imperfect friendships after each argument until I'd been used up and left nurturing a broken spirit. This is the first time I have walked away leaving both dignities in tact.

I chose to end it, by simply not responding to contact or initiating any in return. Maybe I should have told "friend" we were not right for one another. This might have helped her understand my feelings. Maybe she feels slighted.

Since I know this blog entry will invariably make it's way to her, I'll say this.

Dear Friend,

Despite what you think, what you've told others (including your children) I don't hate you. I don't hate anybody. Thought you would have learned enough about me to know that.

It feels as though you've built this image in your mind of me as this cold-hearted, calculating, dismissive, passive aggressive, status quo bitch. I'm not, you know.

I told you that first day at the park that I was a transparent person & that with me, "what you see is what you get."

I am an enthusiastic person. I am proud of my husband, my kids and my accomplishments in life. That does not mean I would ever intentionally minimize a friend's accomplishments. It was never my intention to make you feel marginalized or upstaged. And I am genuinely sorry if you felt that way.

We are two different people. It's obvious to me now, more than ever that I was not the friend you needed in your life. It's not the end of the world, for either of us. I can't see how you'd want to settle with a friend in your life that doesn't meet your requirements or why you'd want to keep somebody around you felt "had to be better than you."

In the reverse, I couldn't be friends with somebody if I felt like I was walking on eggshells constantly. Always wondering, worrying if I had said or done anything that day that would have hurt that person.

I don't see why we can't be cordial with one another when we are out. You know, have a beer, chat about the kids, shoot the shit...whatever. We just won't be "best" friends, or "close" friends.

Life is too short to live this way & there are too many valuable things in both of our lives that deserve more attention.

What do you think? If this isn't workable for you, that's fine, you don't have to respond. But do me a favor, let's leave the kids and other people out of it.

As always, best regards to you and yours.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Off Roading in Week Seven

So here we are, in week seven of homeschool and at this point we are 3/4 of the way to being completely "off grid". Being "off grid" means to be utilizing another curriculum and set of standards other than the California State suggested (required) curriculum.

I think I knew somewhere around weeks 1-3 that we wouldn't last terribly long "on grid." It seemed as if both Gabriel and I were working to feed some faceless monster completed, perfected ditto after ditto after ditto. I felt pressured to plow through the material, and poor Gabriel felt pressure to understand the material as it was presented, which was dry.

Here's what we're working on now .....

Reading & Writing
This was the first subject from grid I threw overboard. The textbook was filled with boring stories Gabriel had no interest in, and was expected to answer questions about. I wanted his reading education to be based upon classic literature. So, we started reading "Little House in the Big Woods". I have based all his writing assignments taking cues from each chapter we've read. For example, he's written journal prompts about "My Favorite Day of the Week", "I Was Afraid but Didn't Need to Be", and "A Time I Got into Trouble."

We've also done a few cooking activities supporting our read as well.

Social Studies
This is a subject Gabriel is almost always interested in, but some days are hit or miss with his attention span. For the month of October, we've gone "off grid" to incorporate Gabriel's choice of Halloween costume (mummy) into a Social Studies lesson. We are exploring Ancient Egypt, Mummies & Mummification.

I have been excited to learn there are a few Ancient Egyptian exhibits floating around Southern California museums, one of which just happens to be held at our local Cal State University! This Thursday we will be visiting the "Art of Death in Ancient Egypt" exhibit. (many thanks to the Phoebe A Hearst museum of Anthropology)

This was our third subject to go off grid with. I was bored out of my mind reading the first two chapters of the book which dealt with "safety in science." I learned our school has several science "kits." The kits are complete with a detailed lesson plan, activity workbooks, and supplies to do an experiment related to the lesson plan.

So, we are currently working on our "Detective Kit" and once we are finished I would like to incorporate some lessons from the Core Knowledge series.

This just happens to be Gabriel's least favorite subject. (it was mom's least favorite too) Gabriel's poor understanding of math has placed him with a third grade level, and I'm OK with that. I would like for him to build a strong foundation in this subject before we move on. Unfortunately, there is no making math more interesting (that I know of) so we've stuck with California curriculum.

Our pediatrician told me about a book called "Math Doesn't Suck" and I might just have to check that out. For now, we'll stay "on grid" with math.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Two Years Ago, Today

Two years ago, on this very day, my third born child, Noe Michael came into this world saying, as Frank Sinatra would, "I did it my way!"

My loving husband, mother & father (& my little brother in Japan on the phone) helped me welcomed this 6 lb 10 oz, 20 inch long bundle at 4:58pm Sunday, September 30th, 2007. (6 days early)

Our day began with my bag of waters breaking at 6:30 am, and since I was certain this was what had happened, there was no need for me to insist Ralph smell the leakage as I had before, with Capi. (I wanted to make sure it wasn't urine) We began to assemble our "team". MIL and Grand MIL to watch Gabriel & little Capi at our house, my parents to be present at the birth.

I took the time to do some last minute house straightening, take a shower and apply light makeup. (yes, vanity thy name is Capi) We arrived at the hospital at 8'ish, still no contractions to speak of, yet a consistent stream of amniotic fluid.

We were all surprised, since this had not been typical of my previous births, which had been termed "rapid labor".

By 9 am I was admitted into L & D and examined to be at 3cm, with cervix soft, yet completely high. The delivering OB (Dr. Small-Hands) suggested since I'd not begun contracting, to have a pitocin drip and asked if I had any special wishes or concerns? I mentioned I had never had an epidural with my other two deliveries having had rapid labor - so he offered one to me before beginning the pitocin drip. At the time, I obliged thinking "HA! I'm going to try something different."

However, by the time the nurse arrived with the IV, I had second thoughts. I had effectively managed my pain before and I assumed the pitocin would progress labor quickly. I didn't see a need for the epidural and declined it. I wanted to be free to change position, wander about the room and pace as I needed to.

Pitocin was started at 10am at 2ml and triggered contractions every 3 or 4 minutes, which seemed to wane in intensity and frequency. Periodically, the nurse would come in and increase pitocin level. Yet, results were the same. I paced the room, did pelvic rocks, sat and rested, did noticeable changes.

When I reached the point of pitocin at 12ml, I asked the nurse, "what are other women normally doing at 12 ml of pitocin?" She laughed and said, "they're usually screaming and rolling around on the bed." I asked, "am I abnormal or something?" She replied, "I've never seen anything like you!" (nor has anyone since, I am sure)

Pitocin was increased to 18 ml, and contractions started to "change." I felt positive pressure in my cervical area and asked to be checked at 3:30. Disheartened to learn I was only at 4cm, with 100% effacement. Noe's head was right at the cervix, yet cervix opening was at the back of his head.

Frustrated, I decided to try standing and rocking again. I was somewhat annoyed that things were taking so long & I began to wonder how much longer this all would go on?

At 4pm, Noe made an unusual feeling move which sounded somewhat like a sonic boom on the monitor. I felt the all too familiar "immediate pain and pressure." "Game on," I thought. I began to need to breathe through the contractions and no longer wanted to stand and rock. Ralph's jokes became unfunny. I asked to be checked again at 4:30pm, and the nurse confirmed I was "complete".

I was asked NOT to push until the doctor had arrived. I, however was READY to push and stated ..."well, then he NEEDS to get here, now!" After what seemed like an eternity Dr. Small-Hands arrived and assumed "catcher's position". I was given the green light to push, so I gave it all I had annnnd...he told me to stop. I, was not of the opinion I should stop pushing and very politely asserted (through gritted teeth) "NO, he needs to come out NOW!"

Apparently my cervix still hadn't come "around" (I hate when everybody isn't on the same page) so he put on his miner's cap and reached in. I felt and almost seemed to hear a "pop", it was VERY painful and I confess I SCREAMED! (then I did the moon walk with my butt cheeks up the hospital bed)

With that minor adjustment I was allowed to resume, and in one breath out came Noe's head. One more push brought the shoulders. Dr. Small-Hands told me to reach down and take my baby. How absolutely thrilling it felt to be the one to bring him out of me and straight into loving arms. "you're here, you're here! how handsome you are!"

Noe Michael is perfectly unique and an agreed completion to our family. I hear people say this from time to time, but he's everything I never knew I always wanted.

Happy Birthday mijo!