May I just say that most of you are lucky that you do not live near me because all day yesterday I talked about my journey to fabulous and I'm sure it got old quickly.
Instead of cleaning the house in the morning while Ben was at preschool like I normally do, I planned to go to the nail spa to get a mani-pedi. I convinced Alyssa to join me at the mall that night where I was going in search of all things fabulous. I told Aaron, if it's fabulous, I'm getting it. A new bag, new clothes, new makeup - whatever it takes.
Sometimes, however, life has a way of intruding on your plans.
I have a grand total of one hour 15 minutes while Ben is at school. I knew I'd be cutting it close but figured that I could just make it to the nail spa and back if everything went well. Of course things did not go "well." There was road construction and I hit every red light. I decided that if I got to the salon by 9:15, I would have enough time for my plan. I arrived at 9:16. And wouldn't you know, they don't open until 10am. Sigh.
No worries, I thought to myself. I still have my trip to the mall this evening to look forward to. I have a 20% off coupon for J Crew and a 30% off coupon for Gap. The stars are aligned.
The boys went to bed without a fight and Aaron got home on time so I was off to the mall. Do you know that despite giving myself emotional and financial carte blanche to treat myself to new goodies I could not find one thing I wanted? Not one thing. I tried but I just wasn't feeling the love. Sigh again.
I was irritated. But at the same time I was amused. Because very clearly the universe was teaching me that being fabulous is not something that can be purchased. You can't buy fabulous. Fabulous is what you are. Fabulous is the way you are born. To find fabulous, you have to look inside.
(Still, it wouldn't hurt to have a fabulous bag to go along with my fabulous self. I'm just saying.)
With a little encouragement (thanks MER) I have started meditating again. My meditation is something between saying please, saying thank you, listening, and trying to be silent. I have joined a group that does it on Wednesday mornings. Once I brought Ben and he silently did stickers and once my friend (thanks JTD) took him so I could have the hour to myself.
Yesterday was great because we spent the first half hour talking about how we meditate, what we hope to achieve, different ways to meditate. And then we moved into silence. We were in a warm, cozy room and I was sitting right next to the crackling fireplace. Perfection.
But as I moved into that quiet place, I was beyond irritated because one of the catchy songs from High School Musical was playing over and over and over in my mind. At first I tried to be gentle with it, as you are supposed to do with these kinds of thoughts when you are meditating. Then I got annoyed. Then, I started listening to it.
"I want fabulous
That is my simple request
All things fabulous
Bigger and better and best
I need something inspiring to help me get along
I need a little fabulous - is that so wrong?"
As I went about my day, the song kept coming back into my mind. Finally, after the boys went to bed, I had one of those light bulb moments. "Hey! This is about ME! I need a little fabulous!! I want to be fabulous!"
I mean, look, I know I'm already fabulous exactly as I am, blah blah blah. And I surely know being fabulous isn't about being or having bigger, better, best as the song says. But the truth is, I haven't felt fabulous in ages. Have I ever felt fabulous?
(Wow, I've got a lot of italics going for one blog post.)
I have to explore what this means. Is it about presentation? Is it about a hobby? A skill? I don't know what it is, but I want to FEEEEL it.
I just wanted to apologize to you. I am sure you think that I broke up with you without so much as the courtesy to tell you about it. It's not that I've broken up with you, it's just that, well.... I'm cheating on you. I admit it. I'm cheating on you with Facebook.
My friends started joining Facebook a year ago but I resisted. I received numerous invitations to join but I turned them all down. The big problem for me was that you couldn't stalk people anonymously. The best you can do on facebook is see if someone is a member or not and then see a teeny, tiny profile picture of them. Big whoop. If I'm going to join, I want scoop. To really see what someone is up to, they have to "friend" you. But once you are friends the anonymity is gone. In other words, they know you are stalking them. Where is the fun in that?
But early this fall, Meegs finally convinced me. I joined, slowly, cautiously. But within days people were coming out of the woodworks. I found high school and college friends. High school and college friends found me. It was perfect. I loooovvvved it. I loved seeing photos and hearing what they were up to and sharing photos of my beloved crew of boys.
Soon enough though, what was once cool started to become a bit, well, awkward. What do you do when someone finds you and friends you but you don't want to become friends with them? Do you ignore them? Do you say no? What to do??? And then, what happens when ex-boyfriends and girlfriends show up on Facebook? Do you friend them? Do you wait for them to friend you first? (I say it all depends on who broke up with whom. The breaker upper has to friend the broken upee.) Ahhh, yes, my once fun pastime has turned me into a 6th grader again, not wanting to friend someone first, hoping that old flames are now fat and unhappy, hoping the cool kids friend you.
So I do apologize for not being more attentive to this blog. Facebook will, in time, grow old. And I will be back. I hope you will still have me.
It is a damp, dreary day but the rain has stopped momentarily. Each of my boys has a friend over. That makes 6 boys playing in our tiny front yard. Four are playing two hand touch football. Two are riding in circles on their trikes. There is laughter, the calling of plays, high fives.
Lately I've been feeling like I'm at a crossroads in my life. Instead of feeling excited about the opportunity for a new beginning, I feel sad and unsure. So sitting on our doorstep watching a gaggle of happy boys is a welcome relief from my own swirling thoughts.
Our family's church had a beautiful banner made which said " Our Faith Community Says No on 8." It was hung proudly on the street by the entrance to the church. It was up for 48 hours before it was stolen. We have had many banners before, but none have ever been stolen other than this one that promotes monogamy, commitment and equality for everyone.
I have so many thoughts on this, but very little time right now. Mostly I am just sad.
When will I learn that quiet in my home is not a good thing?
I was taking a shower this morning and everything was seemingly going so well that I decided to go hog wild and shave my legs.
Next thing I know, Sam (home from school for teacher inservice days) comes running in. "Mom, come quick! Ben is cutting up Jack's pokemon cards with the craft scissors!"
I fly out of the shower, run, dripping with shaving cream and conditioner, into the dining room to find that Sam is not playing a cruel joke on me. Ben is, in fact, cutting up Jack's pokemon cards. And, as fates would have it, he isn't cutting up the useless, filler cards. He is cutting up Jack's favorites, the high scoring, hard to get cards.
I called Aaron, who quickly understood my level of panic. "Tell me which ones he cut up. I'll go on ebay right now. You run to Target and see what you can get."
Thank the Pokemon Gods, Jack is going home with a friend after school which gives us extra time to try to mitigate this disaster, Sam is home to help me make sense of the cards, which ones Jack is going to freak about and which ones need to be replaced pronto.
10:15pm - Ben awake and crying. I bring him into bed with us.
Midnight - Sam is up with growing pains. Kick Aaron under the covers to get him to deal with Sam. Aaron not there. Go in to Sam. Find motrin and a medicine dropper. Give motrin to Sam. Look for Aaron. He is sleeping on the Living Room floor. Lie down with Sam for a few minutes to help him fall back to sleep. Go back to my bed. Ben is snoring and attaches himself like velcro to my neck.
3am - wake up to Ben falling out of bed and crying. Notice that Jack is also now in my bed. Stumble out to LR to make Aaron take Jack back to bed.
I told the boys that after Jack's gymnastics this morning we would go out for a treat. When we got to our friendly neighborhood Starbucks, they were out of the coffee cake that we wanted. So we went to the Starbucks a mile or two away. On the way, Aaron called on my cell phone and I told him we were in search of everyone's favorite treats and may have to stop at even another Starbucks in addition to the first two so everyone could have their choice of treat.
Without missing a beat, he replied, "It's the suburban mom's pub crawl."
I have come to realize that I am a delayed feeler. I say goodbye to loved ones at the airport and am dry-eyed. I am solid as nails if one of my kids gets hurt and needs medical attention. I didn't even get a lump in my throat watching Schindler's List. But late at night, when my body and mind are still and I try to sleep, the emotions come and the tears start.
I'm having one of those nights.
It started so happily. Sam had a soccer game and he and Jack were running toward the field. Feelings of pride washed over me as I saw Sam slowing his pace so he and Jack could run at the same speed. When they joined Sam's teem members, I was so pleased to see that Jack was part of the crowd. I don't think I had turned away for more than a moment or two when I realized that something had gone wrong. I realized it at the same moment as two other parents who came rushing toward the group of boys who were tormenting Jack.
Jack was at the bottom of a pile of about 5 boys. A tall boy caught my eye as he was running to take advantage of a little kid being down. They had removed his shoes and were laughing at him and pointing and just being really mean spirited. Jack was lying on side, trying to wiggle away, calling for me. They were trying to keep him down.
It all happened so quickly, I don't really remember the specifics but I do know that what was once a group of boys having fun turned on a dime and quickly became a group of boys taking advantage of the little kid in the group.
I was furious. Oh, was I furious. I practically threw the kids away from him as I yelled (in a really deep, angry, gutteral voice that I barely even recognized as my own as it was coming out of my mouth) at them to get off. I don't recall what I said other than screaming at Sam to sit down on the side of the field. Of course all of the boys stared at me with wide eyes, one daring enough to say, "I didn't do anything."
I picked Jack up, he buried his head in my shoulder and cried in my arms for a good 15 minutes. He kept saying "I want to go home. I want to go home."
Now that the house is quiet and I should be sleeping, I can't keep the scene from playing over and over in my mind. Once Jack calmed down, he was fine and happy and he certainly seems to have no lingering ill effects.
Children are so resilient. But my heart broke today. And now I can't sleep.
As I go through my day, I mentally sift through events as either blogworthy or not blogworthy. My neighbor agrees that this one is blogworthy.
Aaron called me mid-morning from work. "Honey, C and H* are in town for the weekend. Do you think we can have them over for dinner Saturday night?"
(C and H are, respectively, the President and CEO of Aaron's company. They are French. They are members of the intelligentsia, foodies, wine connoisseurs, and distinguished older gentlemen. They would not be the least entertained by turkey burgers on the grill served with Two Buck Chuck.)
My response, without giving it a moment's thought: "Are you out of your fucking mind?"
Seriously - if we hired full time help for two months, our home and meal would still not be ready for C and H.
Any of you who know me in real life know that Matt Damon is my "free pass."* So you can imagine my joy when my BIL introduced me to this clip:
(Someday I will learn how to post a video directly. Until then, you'll just have to follow the URL).
* Free Pass - an agreement between a monogamous couple that, should the opportunity arise, you are allowed to have guilt-free sex with the celebrity or celebrities on your "free pass" list. Of course, the reason this kind of list exists is because the chances of you actually being in a position to meet the person and then having them agree to have sex with you is approximately... zero.
One of the more touching moments of Sarah Palin's mean-spirited, flippant speech to the RNC was when she declared to the millions of families with special needs children that they would have a friend and advocate in the White House.
All we have to do is look at her current state of Alaska to get an idea of exactly how she will "advocate" for families of special needs kids.
All mental health institutions were shut down in Alaska in the 1990s. During her governorship she took exactly ZERO steps to provide alternative services for kids with mental health issues.
She cut the state's Special Olympics budget in half.
Her state is the subject of two lawsuits that allege inadequate services and financing for children with special needs.
Since she made this proclamation during her speech, she has refused to provide details of what she means by "advocate." When questioned, her spokeswoman provided more fluff. "She will be an advocate in the White House on multiple levels."
And her running mate?
John McCain opposes federal legislation that would help people with special needs find alternative living arrangements.
He voted against a measure to provide additional federal funding to state programs for teaching kids with special needs. Why? Because to do so would involve providing tax cuts to the wealthy. (By the way, the majority of Republicans also voted against this measure. The majority of Democrats supported the measure.)
My mom always told me our actions speak louder than our words. Once again, she is right.
Aaron, Sam and I just finished watching Sarah Palin's speech to the Republican Convention. Aaron sat and silently seethed, Sam wondered why people were cheering for someone who was in favor of war, and I tried to listen openly to her words.
What I heard was a charming, charismatic speaker. John McCain could not have found a better champion for his candidacy. She was also flippant, mean-spirited and high schoolish.
What I didn't hear was one bit of policy other than that which was related to oil. And no surprise, I couldn't disagree with her more on that. (The deafening chants of "drill, baby, drill" made me shake with anger.) I heard nothing about education or the economy or health care or a strategy for the war in Iraq.
Her speech was meant to reach out and touch the suburban soccer moms (or hockey moms as she calls us) who will decide this election. Sadly, it looks like the first woman nominee for the presidential office brought us all style and no substance.
Today is J's birthday. 5 years old. Man does time fly.
I've heard it said that your child's birth is a preview of his life. That is certainly true in
J's case. He was born with intensity and gusto and that's how he lives his
He spent his first few months messing with us.
He tricked us into thinking he was a mild mannered, timid baby. And while his first year was mild mannered, he also quickly evolved into an opinionated tank. His baby fat rolls were so immense it prevented him from sitting up straight.
Jack was talking well before age one and his walk was as distinctive as his personality. He'd walk upright, but with arms stuck straight out BEHIND him. He'd put his head forward, stick back his arms and come at you like a battering ram. Aaron's mom affectionately referred to him as a bulldozer. My dad nicknamed him "Straight Line" because it didn't matter what was in his way, if he saw something he made a straight line right for it.
Sam, Aaron and I called him Toughy because although he was still sweet and mild tempered, he was clearly a bad ass. None of the other kids on the playground were going to mess with him.
I think Jack's most endearing feature is his protectiveness of his brothers. We saw it for the first time when he was maybe 14 months old. Aaron had the boys at the local children's musuem. Sam, who was almost 4, was playing with a ball. Some big kid came up to him and took the ball out of his hands. Jack saw it happen. In response he furrowed his brow, squared up his target and went at him. He grabbed the ball back, gave the big kid a push and marched the ball right back to Sam.
Just recently I forced Sam to have a playdate with the new kid in his class. Sam said he didn't want to but I gave him a lecture on empathy and inclusiveness and invited the boy, we'll call him Aidan, anyway. Within 5 minutes, it was clear WHY Sam didn't want to have Aidan over. Let's just say he was a PITA and leave it at that (but my kind readers must know I am making a gross understatement).
At one point, Aidan accidentally hurt Ben. Ben erupted in tears, I ran to comfort him, and Jack came out to see what happened. "Did that kid hurt Ben?!" he asked in his gruffest, meanest voice that he is not allowed to use. "YES!" yelled Sam. As soon as Sam said yes I knew there was trouble. Before I could grab Jack and tell him it was an accident, he was running at Aidan full force like a bear - his claws outstretched, growling at him.
Sadly for Jack, Aidan is 3 years older than he is and Jack was the one who got taken down. But despite the long conversation I had with Jack about violence and hitting not being the way to express anger, I was secretly filled with pride over his fierce protection of his little brother.
So today my sweet, exhausting, affectionate, fiesty, tough, protective, intense boys turned 5. I still remember our first moments alone together in the hospital. He had the deepest, slate eyes and he stared at me as though he was memorizing my face. "Who are you?" I whispered. "Where will we go together? What will I learn from you?"
I'm still learning the answer to those questions. What I do know is that the joy he has brought to my life is not quantifiable. He is a blessing beyond all blessings.
Watching Barack Obama speak to the 80,000 who came to witness this historic moment was like salve for the soul. I am so incredibly proud to be a part of his mission and so incredibly proud of our country for coming together to say that yes, we do value education and health care and compassion and peace.
Greetings from our front yard... Vlad and the boys are playing (now that he has figured out that crazy is FUN, he loves coming over!), and all kinds of stuff is happening.
Jack, apparently, does not care that Vlad doesn't speak English. He is peppering him with questions and taunts while playing. When's your birthday? Will you play Volleyball with me? What grade are you in? Who do you want to win- the Packers or the 49ers? See if you can top this, oh yeah.
Vlad talks right back in Russian. Man would I love to know what he is saying. They are now engaged in a hot game of.... what to call it? Throw a ball at each other's faces? One nice thing about playing in different languages is that you can both claim to be the victor and the other won't know it.
Meanwhile, across the street, Garden Supply company of Los Altos is delivering pavers to the wrong house at the wrong time. 6 Spanish speaking men are trying to figure out what to do with the several tons of pavers now dumped in a neighbor's lawn.
And, oh shit, my next door neighbor's sprinkly system just went off and I got nailed with spray. Let's see how my trusty new Apple computer survives this. Ben is now standing directly under the spray. So much for today's outfit.
My neighbor who doesn't speak to me just saw that I was out front with the crew of boys and turned around to walk the other way.
My neighbor, J, has a heart as big as any person I have ever met. I learned it for the first time one morning, in the midst of a family crisis, when I was standing in front of my house, waiting for a late cab. I was trying to make it to the airport for an unexpected and urgent flight out of SFO. J was on her way out her front door to I-Don't-Know-Where when she saw me, anxiously waiting for my cab.
I didn't really know her at the time, but when she saw me with my luggage, she grabbed her keys, grabbed her baby, and we were on our way to the airport within minutes. Not only did she drive me there in record time, but she circled around the loading zone until she found out that I made my flight, in case I missed it and needed a ride back home.
Another time J saw an elderly woman walking with her groceries and her cane down the street on a chilly winter morning. She stopped her car, pulled over, demanded that the woman get in the car, and drove her and her groceries home.
She's a person who does good.
Recently an email went out to our community's 4000 person parents' group. The email was asking for host families for a group of 10 Ukranian orphaned children. The children were coming to the United States for two weeks to hopefully find adoptive families. When J found out about this, she volunteered in an instant and became a host mom for a quiet, little 7 year old boy named Vladyslav. She spent a week preparing for his arrival, doing everything she could to make the little guy feel welcome and less overwhelmed and afraid after making the 48 hour trip from Eastern Europe.
Vlad has been wide-eyed over life in America. Everything from flushing your toilet paper instead of putting it in the garbage can to eating roasted chicken for lunch (a far cry from the bread and water he is typically served) to having underwear with, holy shit!, Lightning McQueen on them. As he is shuffled from one event to another, J has been his advocate and his pal.
She is determined to find this little boy a home. Her biggest victory so far has been contacting the local news stations to alert them to the various "parties" the children have been having with prospective adoptive families. The more people that hear about these fabulous kids, the more likely the kids are to find a permanent home. But the smaller steps matter as well. She's called churches, talked up cashiers at the grocery stores, cornered busy neighbors...
My family recently went for a fabulous two week vacation to the midwest to visit family. Upon our arrival back to Menlo Park, J met us at the airport with her son and Vlad in the van. Vlad was less than 24 hour hours into his visit; exhausted and probably overwhelmed. J and I had been excitedly talking in the days leading up to our return home about how much fun Vlad would have playing with our boys.
When J picked us up, my boys were more than a little excited to be home and share stories of our travels. They were also a bit stir crazy after having just spent 5 boring hours in the plane (with a malfunctioning DVD player!). So to say that they were animated during the ride home is a bit of an understatement.
The next day, we called J to see if she wanted to come over with her son and Vlad to play. Vlad was resistant. J could not understand why Vlad wouldn't jump at the chance to play with 3 other kids his age. She tried to convince him - not easy to do when you don't speak the same language. After a while of her encouraging him and him refusing, J finally called one of the interpreters available for situations such as this. "Find out what is wrong! He doesn't want to play!" she told the interpreter.
The interpreter talked to Vlad for a moment, Vlad enthusiastically telling her in Russian his side of the story. When J got back on the phone, the interpreter told J what he was saying.
"I don't want to play with those American boys. They are CRAZY."
Aaron and I try to have engaging civics and political conversation over family dinner with the boys whenever we can all sit down to together. Tonight we were talking about speaking different languages (more on that later). Aaron explained to Sam that the people who first came to America to live were from England so they spoke English and that is how English became the language of America.
"Yes!" I said, excited to contribute to the conversation. "When the pilgrims came over with Christopher Columbus to America...."
Aaron looked at me with baffled eyes. "Uh, can you just be quiet during the history lessons?"
This reminds me of the time when, after a few too many glasses of wine, I asked a group of Russians gathered at my friend Kelly's for Thanksgiving dinner how they celebrate Thanksgiving in their country. When the conversation stopped cold and everyone stared at me I tried to cover for my absurdity by mumbling something about how of course I knew Russians don't have Thanksgiving, per se, but I believed that most cultures had some sort of fall harvest festival.
I think Aaron has a good point.
Updated: My husband thinks I should not post this blog entry because he doesn't want anyone out there in Internet-land to think I am as silly* as my comment. May I just say that in my brain I know the chronological order of events - Native Americans were here, Christopher Columbus "discovered" America in the 1400s and the pilgrims came to what is now the USA over 100 years later. (I did not even have to google the information disclosed in the previous sentence.) However, sometimes my excitement gets ahead of my knowledge.
* Silly - what he really means is stupid. But he knows better to use stupid in any sentence referring to me AND we are teaching the boys that stupid is a bad word. So while I will happily use the F word in a blog post, I cannot use the word stupid.
We are as sure as we can be that we will not have any more children. So why then, can I not bare to make changes to the "nursery?" It is still ready to go, crib, bed linens, and all. I walk by it every day. I look in. I'm not ready for it to go.
Today is our ten year wedding anniversary. When I think back to the day, I remember standing outside the stone church, looking out over the ocean and feeling so sure, so complete. I remember seeing A at the altar, looking so fucking handsome. I remember saying my vows, listening to his. Listening to the best sermon I have ever heard, given by my new father-in-law.
We were standing in our living room today, a complete disaster after two weeks of wood floor installation - toys, books, dirt, food, dust.... everywhere. The boys jet lagged, tired, crabby. Aaron pulled me in. "10 years later, is this what you imagined?" he asked with a laugh.
I arrived on time for my first mammogram. I was nervous. It wasn't just a mammogram either, it was another subtle reminder that I'm not a kid anymore.
I followed the long winding hallways and signs to the Department of Radiology. I checked in at the main desk and then turned around to see the waiting room, separated into two sections, with arrows pointing in polar opposite directions.
<----- Fetal ultrasound Mammography ----->
I looked at the faces of the women on both sides. I smiled at them. I took a deep breath. I walked over to the women waiting patiently to be called for their mammograms.
(This vignette from our life is reprinted with my husband's permission.)
Sunday morning. I had to get my parents to the airport by 8:45 and get back home by 9:15 to make it to 9:30 church on time. This is a conversation that occurred after I returned home at 9:15 and found the boys still in their pajamas, completely disheveled:
Sandie (to Aaron, annoyed) I thought you'd have the boys ready to go by the time I got home.
Aaron: What have I ever done in the past that would make you think that I'd have them ready to go when you got home?
I took Jack to the dermatologist today. I thought I had myself totally under control, but when I was moving aside Jack's hair to show the doctor, my hands were shaking. The dermatologist, whom I adore, looked me in the eye and gave my hand a gentle squeeze. It was before she even saw the mole, but somehow that hand squeeze was exactly what I needed and I knew that things would be okay. I wasn't sure what "okay" would look like, but I knew it'd be okay.
While the doctor agreed that the spot was troubling, she reassured me that in her 25 years of practice and with all of the concerning moles she has seen in young children, she has never, ever had one amount to anything other than just being an "eccentric" mole. To be safe she did refer me on to a pediatric dermatologist specialist.
I now have to wait the looong 1-2 weeks before the specialist's office calls to schedule an appointment.
In the meantime, the doctor's reassuring presence will allow me to sleep tonight and I am grateful for that.
Thank you for your kindness, friends and stranger-friends.
I know that when you start a blog, there is some unspoken expectation between the blogger and the bloggees that you will actually write something - if not something entertaining, then at least something.
But lately, man, I got nothin'.
It's not that there isn't anything going on. In fact, it has been a very busy summer. It's just that, well, since I have my new apple toys, I am spending all of my time playing with them. Not actually using them to do productive things like write or edit photos or videos (which is what I swore to my darling husband I would use them for), but to tinker and piddle around. Turns out I am really, really good at piddling around.
Anyway - here are some random tidbits from the house o'boys. (I am still bitter that someone else owns that blog name and doesn't even use it!).
Ben runs around the house slashing the air with invisible swords, yelling "Me, Inwah Yones." (Translation: I am Indiana Jones.)
Sam has taken up the term "freakin" and uses it appropriately. Today, it was, "Mom, can you move your freakin' butt?" Lovely. I am relieved that he did not pick up this one from me. Freakin' is a distinctly Aaron word.
I had my eyebrows waxed, plucked, trimmed and tinted last night. I can't stop looking at myself in the mirror. It is strange. Like if I suddenly died my hair candy apple red. Noone else has noticed though. Hmmmm...
Jack has a mole on his head that has all four symptoms of a melanoma. I thought I was being a hypochondriac (can you be a hypochodriac for your children?) but when I showed it to his pediatrician, she said, "I don't like the looks of that." We have an appt with a dermatologist tomorrow.
My parents have been staying with us for a month. It has been great, but I am waiting for my house of cards to fall down. When family stays with you for a week, you can sort of hold it together and pretend that you have your act together. After a month, the cracks are showing big-time.
Jack "really, really, REALLY" (his words) wants to buy a tampon for a quarter. Every time we walk past the machine in the women's restroom, he begs me for one. It doesn't matter what it is, or what its purpose is, the kid knows that when you put a quarter in a machine and wait for something to pop out, it's all good.
If I just throw in that part about the mole on Jack's head all super-casual like I just did, does that mean it really can't possibly be true? Cuz that's the effect I'm going for. Totally not worried, totally not wanting to vomit every time I think about it.
Time for me to go spend some quality time with my husband on the couch before he suspects I am having an emotional affair with my new laptop.
After one hour and 10 minutes in line and 15 minutes getting my new baby activated, I am now the proud owner of a 3G iPhone. Let me tell you, it is beautiful. Gorgeous. Sleek. Sexy.
Waiting in line was fun, truly fun. I was two people behind Lindsay Davenport. In addition to our collective iPhone giddiness, there was a ripple of excitement in the crowds since a celeb was among (amongst?) us. Of course I never would have known who (whom?) she was unless someone else told me, but given that I am a celebrity whore, I was very entertained.
While waiting in line, Apple's hot shot employees kept us entertained with their own iPhone folly stories - people trying to cut in line, people furious that they couldn't get the color phone they wanted, people waiting in line who were angry at employees for taking lunch breaks. They let us play with demo phones, they showed us iPhone short cuts and tricks, and they tried to explain AT&T's quirky new pricing structure. They handed out water and snacks. They played "Guess How Long the Line Will Be." It was great fun and went by in a flash.
I have not heard yet whether my brother-in-law has his phone. He is the only person I know who is perhaps more excited than I.
I refuse to get my hopes up. I sent two scouts to the mall for me to check out the situation. It is still bad. The Apple store closes at 7pm and they are not allowing anyone else to get in line after 3:30.
Another unsuccessful iPhone day. I was able to wiggle two free hours out of my day today - no kids, no husband, to wait in line for the damn iPhone. Store 1: Sold out of their stock within an hour. Store 2: 3 hour line. Store 3: 2.5 hour line.
Last year, on June 29th, my brother-in-law and I were two of millions of people across the globe caught up in iPhone fever. We both knew the low-end $599 model was out of our league, but that didn't stop us from hovering around the local Apple store, watching the lucky 200+ people queueing to be among the first to own one of the coveted toys.
Fast forward 11 months and the excitement was reaching fever pitch once more. We anxiously awaited Steve Jobs's confirmation of the rumors at MacWorld 2008 that the 2nd generation iPhone would soon be available. Not only did he confirm that the new phone was set to launch on July 11th, but he confirmed that it would be half the price and twice as fast! Wahooooo!
So... today's the day. Or I should say, today WAS the day. And sadly, both my brother-in-law in MI and I in CA are going to bed iPhone-less.
I called the various local Apple stores last night at 9pm to check on whether people were already lined up to buy the phone. Yes, the lines were already forming. There were 30 people at the Palo Alto location alone. Rats. I thought I might get up at 5am and be one of the first in line.
I carefully scanned the online news and blogs this morning. New Zealand started off the frenzy, followed shortly by Japan, New York - and finally 8am hit California. Doors were opening, phones were slowly but surely being sold, and Apple's servers were hit so hard with activations that they were jamming.
I had every intention of hitting the gym this morning with Janet but the gym is so close to the Apple store that I made her do a drive-by to check the lines. Long. Crud. "OK, off to the gym," she said. I opened my eyes, wide and sad. "Can't we please just try another store?" Next thing I know I have her driving all over the Bay Area looking for a store with no line. Guess what? There isn't one. And we never did make it to the gym.
The next chance I had to get to the stores was after the boys went to bed. As soon as I heard the first snore from their room, Aaron and I hopped in the car to chase down an iPhone. Stanford Mall Apple store: 300 deep line. Apple wasn't allowing anyone else to queue. Palo Alto AT&T store: No line. Jackpot, I thought! I ran in. Sold out. New shipment arriving at 8am tomorrow. Palo Alto Apple Store: Line is 4 blocks long. Apple again is stopping new people from lining up. Police are on hand to manage the traffic.
Half as a gag, and half because he knew I'd really love it, Aaron got me tickets to see American Idol at the HP Pavilion in San Jose last night. Great, clean, happy fun.
It may be that Aaron and I were the only 30 somethings there who weren't accompanying their children. The demographic seemed to be tween and teenage girls and women in their 50s who were out for a good hoo-hah. Sadly, those women in their 50s dressed like the tween girls - crimped hair, pink lipstick, short shorts and all. It was not pretty.
I'm not sure which was more entertaining - the performers themselves or the state of the girls watching them. I am telling you, these 10-16 year old girls can scream. We had a group of girls behind us, all decked out, each in a t-shirt with one glitter letter on it, spelling DAVIDS ROCK (that is plural davids - as in Archulette and Cook, in case you don't know). Every so often, one of them would yell out, "1, 2, 3..." and then they'd all scream "We Love You David" in their highest, shriekiest voices. (At least the 1,2,3 gave us fair warning to cover our ears.) Next to me was a 14 year old girl going through the most painful awkward stage, accompanied by her mother who is still going through that awkward stage some 30 years later. The two of them screamed their lungs out every time David Archulette was even eluded to. The pandemonium that went on when he actually came to the stage was unworldy.
But that is just the side show. Here is my review for anyone who dares to admit that they watch the show and is interested in my thoughts. Each Top 10 idol gave a mini concert of 3 songs except for Archuletta who sang 4 and Cook who sang 5.
Chikezie, Ramiel, and Ayesha were boring. The crowd put up with them in order to see the good stuff.
Kristy Cook did her best to do a moving performance of God Bless the USA which was very exciting for the 5 Republicans in the audience. The applause for her entire performance was weak, at best. Republican/Country/Patriot is not a good vibe for the Bay Area. Not because we aren't patriots, but because most of those songs have been high jacked by the right wingers. Yawn. Next, please.
Michael Johns is the real deal. He is every bit as gorgeous and sexy live as he was on tv. He not only has a beautiful, raw voice, he is a great entertainer and show man. He knows how to interact with the crowd. I would pay to see him perform solo. Interestingly, it was the adults who seemed to connect more with him than the teens. I guess that explains his surprise elimination from the show.
Brooke White is as likable on stage as she is on TV. I love her barefoot performances and truth be told, as my friend Judy says, I just want to be her.
Jason Castro, sweet, mellow, Jason Castro. He was the surprise stand out of the evening. I always liked him but his live performance was outstanding. And his presence is exactly as you'd expect. I think he smoked a few joints just before performing, came out, did his thing, gave us a few "dudes" and off he went. It was perfect.
If anyone else could have possibly won the Idol competition, it was Carly Smithson. That woman is fan-freaking-tastic. She absolutely brought the house down. Her talent is immense. I want to hang out with her. She might even talk me into getting a little tattoo.
David Archuletta rose up from underneath the stage sitting at his piano. His presence seemed different somehow, more mature, more confident, than last we saw him. I leaned over to Aaron and whispered, "I think David had sex!" But by the second song, he was back to the cute, awkward David the girls know and love. Lots of "oh my gosh" and "aww, shucks" moments. I have read that the reason he loves singing is because he can express himself in songs in a way that he isn't able to in words. That is certainly true of watching him perform. His voice is pure velvet, gorgeous. I find myself feelings motherly and protective of him and hope that the hollywood beast doesn't change him.
Then, for the show's finale. David Cook. Clearly, the best person won the Idol competition. His voice, his songs, his performances were fantastic. He commanded the stage, when singing and when interacting with the crowd, and was absolutely the front man for the Idol concert. I love to watch him, just thinking about how one year ago he was a regular guy, bartending and trying to pick up gigs now and then. Now he is a confident, seasoned pro. I could have listened to more and more from him.
So - there you have it. Anyone up for joining me next year??
Here are snapshots of two recent conversations with the boys.
1) A conversation with Sam Sam: Mom, am I having a playdate today? Mom: Yes, Jeffrey and David are coming over. Sam: Jeffrey AND David? All right! I've always wanted to have a threesome.
2) An out of the blue conversation with Jack Jack: Mom, can boys marry boys? Mom: Yes, in California they can. Jack: Great. I'm going to marry Jake. (He later clarified that he would only marry Jake if I wouldn't marry him.)
And, in other funny goings-on... Ben loves the toilet plunger. I don't know why. It's big. It's on a stick. You can hit people with it.
Anyway, today he came inside with it and Aaron scolded him. "Ben that's not a toy. That is NOT a toy. "
Later in the day, Ben was having a fit. "Want naddadoy! Want naddadoy!" We were frantically trying to find whatever this thing was that he most desperately wanted. Finally he dragged me to the garage and showed me the toilet plunger.
Apparently Ben thinks "not a toy" (aka "naddadoy" in Ben language) is the proper name for toilet plungers.
My family has been spending a lot of time at the beach lately. Yosemite, Tahoe, San Gregorio Beach.
Watching my kids play in the sand and surf is almost poetic. They sculpt and dig and dump and run and jump. For three hours today, the boys were in their own little world. They worked together like a well oiled machine to dig a deep hole or create a dam or bury their bodies or chase down a wave. I was reminded that the simple pleasures are the most wonderful as the boys laughed with sheer delight at the waves sneaking up on them, knocking them over, pummeling their sand towers.
I got to read my book, Aaron took a little snooze. It was parenthood as I imagined it would be: happy kids, wholesome, outdoor fun, relaxing, fulfilling.
Aaron and I even had a chance to talk, to really connect. I think it's been ages since we've done that. The days are exhausting so at night we're exhausted. Not a good time for soulful discussions.
As it often does these days, our conversation turned to whether or not to have a fourth child. In the course of our three hours at the beach, we decided that we absolutely WILL have a fourth child. And that we absolutely will NOT have a fourth child. We have gone over this and over this so many times that I can barely think straight about it.
Our friend Matt told us that the reason he and his wife finally decided to go for #4 was because they were talking about it and talking about it and they finally realized that they could either keep talking about it or they could just do it. So they did it.
Sometimes I let myself sit with either decision to see how it feels. Neither feels right.
Ultimately we are no closer to a decision now than we were 6 months ago. Sigh.
Are there words to say how much I LOVED this movie? No. There are not.
First of all, I went with two girlfriends and we talked nonstop the entire way there and the entire way back. I dont' think any of us finished a sentence.
Second of all, one of my friends brought me an iced latte to enjoy on the way. Divine.
On top of that, the movie was Fan-freaking-tastic. I laughed and I bawled my eyes out. You'd have thought it was Schindler's List the way I was crying. Hours later, at a friend's for dinner, my eyes were still red and puffy.
And the icing on the cake is that my girls surprised me with some fab birthday goodies on the drive home.
Honestly, it could not have been better.
Except that I woke up this morning totally wishing today was the day we were going to see the movie so I could have it to look forward to.
I know it is inevitable, but did it have to happen so soon?
Sam is slowly but surely becoming embarrassed to be seen with me. It started with him not wanting to be kissed at school, then it progressed to him wanting to walk home from the bus stop alone (despite the fact that his brothers and I were also walking home from the bus stop), now he gives me just the slightest shift of eye so that I know he sees me when we are at school. The body language clearly tells me to keep my distance.
Just because I know it's developmentally appropriate doesn't mean it doesn't sting.
I received a book in the mail today from my sister (in law) called House of Testosterone, written by a mom about life in a home of all males (3 sons, a husband, and a dog*). I cannot wait to read it! I am hoping there are some helpful tips about things like better aim at the toilet bowl and not announcing your bowel movements.
This book also got me thinking that my blog should be called House of Boys, because that is a lot more clever than Close to the Deep End. Alas, some other mom has snagged that blog name, but she only wrote one entry, back in 2005. I wonder if there is some way I can find her and beg her to give up the name.
Anyway, I digress... here is today's story from the house o' boys.
Jack (4) was asked on his first day of preschool to draw a self portrait. On his last day of preschool he was also asked to draw a self portrait. It' s a really cute exercise and you can see how far they have developed from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.
On his last day of preschool portrait Jack drew a big circle for the torso, a head, hair, eyes, a mouth, ears, and two stick arms and two stick legs. The teacher prompted him to see if he could provide more detail. "Jack, look carefully. Is there anything that you are missing?" [The teacher is expecting a nose or maybe fingers and toes or shoes.]
"Oh, yes," said Jack. And he proceeded to draw an enormous penis.
So glad the boy has such great self esteem.
*Please shoot me if I ever even think about getting a dog.
*This post is for everyone except Alyssa. She is the only person in the world who does not watch American Idol, even though of all the people I know she is the one who would most enjoy it.*
The American Idol finale was tonight and the music moved me to tears more than once and by both singers. I think it might have been the best finale in AI history.
David Archuletta has a pure voice. Seriously, if there was ever a voice sent by a god, it would be his. He is sincere and earnest and phenomenally gifted. You get the impression that when he sings "Imagine," he truly is imagining all the people living life in peace - and more importantly, he is still pure enough to believe that it one day may happen. If I could close my eyes and listen to any one voice for the rest of my life, it would probably be his.
Despite all of that, I hereby endorse David Cook for American Idol Winner. He has a powerful, strong, sexy voice. He is a talented entertainer and arranges songs so creatively and ingeniously that you can hardly believe they were ever sung any other way. But the reason he is my choice is because he has lived his songs. When he sings "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" you know he has felt that longing. When he sings about a broken heart, you can feel the ache that he has endured. When he sings about how he is still standing, you know that he is really singing a song about his brother's fight to live. The guy has a depth to his music that you can only have if you've stood on the rocky road. Paula, for once, hit the nail on the head in her critique of his music. He sings his truth and he sings it with integrity.
All that said, I think Archuletta is going to win. But I'm going to buy Cook's album.
(This post has been edited at Aaron's request. Apparently he doesn't think his recovery room musings were as cute as I did.)
My sweet husband had surgery today. Three hours of someone tugging, sewing, scooping, shaving and repairing all kinds of messed up muscles and bones in his shoulder.
I had a little panic attack about this last night and made him update both of our wills to reflect that we now have a third son. "Why am I doing this again?" he asked. I looked at him as though he had ten heads. To me, it was simple. What if he died in surgery and on my way to identify his body at the hospital, I was in a car crash and I died, too? Surely we needed to update our wills in case that happened.
(Tell me that makes sense to at least one of you out there in blogger land.)
The surgery went great and Aaron was high as a kite in the recovery room. Unfortunately, after we got home, the anesthetic high started to wear off. I gave him his first vicodin and within minutes he was vomiting all of the gatorade, cranberry juice and sprite in his system. To help with that, the doctor changed his prescription to percocet and gave also gave him an Rx for anti-nausea meds.
I read over the drug information for these meds more carefully than normal since these are addictive medicines. Here are two of the "common side effects" of the anti-nausea medicine:
"unusual bouts of happiness"
"deep periods of sleep"
I'm thinking I need to get me some of that shoulder surgery.
According to Jack My mom's name is: Sandie My mom is 38 years old My mom is pretty as a: Princess For fun, my mom likes to: play legos with me If I could I would buy my mom a: lego set While I'm at school my mom: goes on the computer and plays games My mom's favorite food is: coffee
(Note to Jack: iphone! If I could I would buy my mom an iphone.)
According to Sam I love my mom because she: Makes me feel better when I am sad Helps me learn Takes me places Is kind to me Talks to me Cares for me when I am sick Lets me play on the computer sometimes Goes to my games Loves me
So I had about 5 errands that I needed to run this morning with Jack and Ben in the car with me. By the 5th errand, I had had it with getting them in and out of their carseats, keeping them contained in the stores, and getting them back in their carseats without incident. (Actually, who am I kidding? There is no such thing as "without incident" with my three schnookers!)
I thought the gods of parking must have been smiling down on me, because when I pulled up to the hair salon to get shampoo, there was a spot right in front of the door. The fact that it was a "no parking" spot did not matter to me because all I was going to do was run in, get my shampoo and run out, while (gasp!) leaving the kids in the car.
Before you get ready to turn me in to DSS, know that the doors to the salon are about 4 feet from my parked car, they are solid, clear glass, and the shampoo and cash register are both directly in front of the door. I am never less than 6 feet from my kids and I can see them clearly the entire time. (Because I am not the type of mom that would, say, leave her kids in the car while she went in to Starbucks to get her fix. No way. Not this mom.)
But do you know that in the less than 2 minutes I am in the store, I see a Parking Enforcer Guy ride up to my car on one of those Segway thingies. I open the door and say, in my most pathetic, begging voice, "I'm right here! I'll be out in one second!" hoping that will persuade him to turn around and leave my car alone. Of course, he didn't care one bit and he gleefully wrote me the ticket and stuck it under my windshield wiper.
Normally I would argue or at least try to change his mind, but this time I just bit my tongue because I knew that if he looked a little closer he would see that on top of parking illegally, I also left my children in the car unattended which, as illegal things go, is REALLY ILLEGAL. So illegal that the fee is $400.
So I just smiled at Mr. Meter Man and accepted the ticket gracefully.
When I got in the car, Jack and Ben were beside themselves. "MOM! Did you see that? The police officer just rode up to our car and put a letter under our wiper? Did you see that? That was so cool!"
I grumbled something about a ticket and thought that was the end of it. What was I thinking?
When we arrived home about 10 minutes later, Jack went SPRINTING into the house. "Daddy, Daddy! Mommy went into the haircut place for shampoo and when she was in there, the police officer came over and gave us a ticket and Ben and I were in the car so we got to see the whole thing!"
Clearly we need to have a talk. What happens with Mommy, stays with Mommy.
I have not been able to stop thinking about my "illogical desire" lately. And it's good that I've been thinking so much about it because I've learned a little something. I am not so sure I want another baby as I want Ben to stay this age forever.
While all of my children are special, there is something SPECIAL about Ben. Ben is a giant bundle of love and goodness. He is gentle and tough, sweet and sinister, sensitive and strong. There is something about the simplicity of his language that is very powerful.
He had tubes put in his ears yesterday, which was this mom's first experience with her children and general anesthesia. By the time we were taken into pre-op, Ben had gone 16 hours without food or drink. His little brain was so very confused about this. And then we watched him evolve from confused to depressed. He was cuddling in my lap and every so often, he'd look up at me with his sweet brown eyes and say, "A-wa?" A few minutes would go by and he'd look up at me again and say, in his soft little voice, "Home?" After a while, he'd just look, with his brow crinkled, and say "Peas?" (Please).
When we finally went to pre-op, Ben was heartbroken over the poking and prodding. I would imagine most kids would get mad about this, but Ben would just cry as though his best friend had moved away. He was so upset about the hospital bracelet being put on that the anesthesiologist said, "As long as he's this upset, let's just put him under right now." So, with my sweet boy in my arms, they covered his face with the anesthesia mask and he fell gently asleep. We moved him to the operating bed and that was the last I saw of him until I caught a glimpse of his little blond mop of hair peaking out from under the blankets on his way to recovery.
When I arrived at recovery, he was still fast asleep. After a bit he opened first one eye, then both eyes, then he looked at my face and said, "Daddy?" I told him that Daddy would be back in a minute. He thought if over and said, "Home?"
I sat him up, he had a popsicle, and off we went.
The thing about Ben is that he is just so sweet. At 2 and a half, he is still very content to be held on my lap, tummy to tummy with his head on my shoulder, to be rocked to sleep, for us to lie in bed for hours looking at books. "See, Mom, see?" he says as he points to the pictures.
The thought of him growing up and growing out of this is just too much for me. I want to freeze him in time. I am not ready to let go.
My friends are very impressed that I know all the words to every Music Together song ever written. This is because I have done MT just about every semester since Sam was 9 months old. First with Sam, then with Jack, now with Ben.
My boys seem to get bored of the music classes by 3 years old, so I figure I have one or two semesters left with Ben. Today, I was twirling him around and around to the music, totally soaking in his squeals of laughter and delight. And all of a sudden, like someone through a brick through a window and it hit me square in the chest, I had a wave of "I don't want this to be the end."
Trying not to get choked up, I was present with the thought that Ben is more than likely my last baby. He starts preschool next year. He moved into the big boys' bedroom where there is no rocker so I don't rock him to sleep anymore. He'd rather be riding bikes in the driveway with his brothers than snuggled up on my lap reading a book.
Over and over, the "I don't want this to be the end" tape played in my mind. But EVERY SINGLE logical reason tells me that we should be done. The truth is, at some point we have to be done. What if we do have another? That little guy is also some day going to turn two. He too will grow up and grow out of music classes and being rocked and laptime cuddles. I can't just keep having babies forever.
But if you are done, should you really feel such a strong tugging at your heart? Should dancing with your two year old really make you cry? When you sit down to dinner with your family, shouldn't you feel some sense of completion rather than noticing the empty chair at the table?
I volunteer in Sam's classroom or on the school playground whenever I possibly can. I love the bird's eye view of him in action.
Last year (when he was in K), I was in his classroom helping out for one hour every week. He absolutely LOVED my classroom days. In first grade parents aren't given the option to volunteer so frequently. I asked his teacher why and she told me that kids don't usually want their parents around as much. "Ha," I thought, smugly, "Sam and I have a very close relationship. He would love for me to be around."
I first noticed a slight shift at Sam's Halloween parade this year. I had to catch him as he was parading by to get a hello out him. No more of him peering through the crowds to find me. This little dance, of him pretending his doesn't see me or want me to come over to him has turned into a big laugh between us. So today as he was running laps during recess, I ran up to him and grabbed him in a big hug, while he wiggled away, laughing.
I picked him up from the bus stop as always this afternoon and made a joke about him trying to avoid me during recess. Usually we get a good laugh out of this together, our own little game.
But today, after he laughed, he said, "Mom?"
"Would it be okay if you don't kiss me anymore at school?"
"Sure, honey. That'd be okay." (Deep breaths.)
He grabbed my hand and we continued our walk home. "But can you please still lie down with me at bedtime until I fall asleep?"
I have to say, as much as I adore husbands, they also baffle me. I am sure they say the same about wives. Today my husband and I had one of those communication experiences that confirm that women and men are indeed from different planets.
You need only the following background: our laundry is in the garage. We have two baskets - one for colored laundry, one for white laundry. (My mother insists we need a third basket for light colored laundry. I disagree. Thoughts from the blogosphere on that???)
Tonight, after Ben is bathed, dressed in his jammies, the books are read, his lights are out, and we are rocking in the rocker together, he looks at me with that unmistakable face, grimaces a bit, and proudly announces, "Poopy!"
Getting Ben to the point of lights out and rocking quietly is a looong process, so I am a bit dismayed that we have to turn on the lights and no doubt start the whole routine over. I open his door slightly so as not to disturb the other boys, get A's attention, and ask him to bring me the wipes. "What?" he says. "The wipes," I say, yelling in a whisper voice, a bit annoyed that he didn't hear me the first time.
There is a longer pause than I expect before he comes to Ben's door. He is carrying a full laundry basket.
"WHAT is that?" I ask.
"The whites," he says. "You asked me to bring you the whites."
"NO! The WIPES! Not the WHITES."
This little episode reminds me of our first fight in our first house. We were newlyweds, having our first dinner party at our new condo and I was a nervous wreck. I so desperately wanted everything to be perfect. I was running around doing 10 things at once while Aaron sort of stood back and watched me turn into a lunatic. The fact that he was standing there while I was taking multi-tasking to a whole new level was excruciating for me.
Our conversation went like this:
Me: A, can you please find something to do to help?"
A: OK. (Pause) Like what?
Me: I don't know. Go make sure the bathroom is clean.
A comes back less than a minute later.
A: Looks clean to me.
I go in the bathroom to inspect. While it is in fact technically clean, there is evidence of life in the house, such as soap not properly placed on a soap dish, hand towels not lying properly on their hook, etc. When it's your first dinner party, you care about these things and I couldn't believe my husband didn't see these "glaring" offenses.
Me (voice growing a bit shrieky, eyeballs starting to bulge): It is not clean. Will you please take care of this bathroom?
I went back to my million things to do and was busy for a while. We had about 10 minutes until the guests were to arrive and I was feeling just about ready. I then realized that I hadn't heard from A in a while. I walked in to the bathroom and saw him........ grouting the tile.
Me (ready to explode): WHAT............. are............. you............. DOING?
A: I don't know. The bathroom looked clean to me but you clearly wanted me to do something in here. I wasn't going to come out and ask you what to do so redoing the grout seemed better than nothing.
Now, it's funny. At the time. Not so funny. Now when I think about that story, I realize that I am insanely lucky that my new husband did not walk out the door and run for his dear life away from his lunatic wife.
I have always loved Paris. The sights, the sounds, the smells, the people (seriously, i love their attitude), the buildings, the arts. I secretly dream of moving there so that all future Timm generations will be Parisians.
In the meantime, I love Paris because they have put on the most effective protests to date over the Chinese human rights record and treatment of Tibetans. The Olympic torch traveled through the street of Paris today. The French athletes who carried the torch did so wearing protest patches of the Tibetan flag on their uniforms. The Paris mayor ordered a banner to be hung from City Hall reading "Paris: City of Human Rights." The French President has not ruled out boycotting the games. And so many French protestors took to the streets that the flame had to be extinguished, the torch put on a bus and driven through parts of the city.
Lately I have been trying to soak up all of the information I can on raising boys. I picked up a silly parenting magazine in the doctor's office yesterday with a two page article on raising boys written by a mom who has five. This little article was worth much more than all of the more intellectual books. Here is my favorite quote:
"You can raise your son any way you want and he is still going to burp the National Anthem the first chance he gets. You can raise your son as a Quaker, a vegan, or a pagan; he's still going to fight with his brother over an unused pen cap as though it was the Star of India. You can kiss him every night and sing to him of milkweed and nightengales and give him his own doll and play kitties with him instead of Navy SEALS. Go ahead. He's still going to make a gun from a toaster waffle and fire it across the table. He's still going to run through the house whipping a metal tape measure around his head."
The boys and I went to the zoo today. It was a much needed way to break up Spring Break week. As always, our last stop was at Penguin Island. One of the things I love about Penguin Island is watching the penguins snuggle. They are monogamous, which I find adorable, and I always get a warm, fuzzy feeling when I watch them cuddle neck to neck and waddle to and fro.
There must have been something in the air today, though, because let's just say the penguins were a bit more amorous than usual. Before I even had a chance to focus, I heard Sam say, "Look, Mommy, that penguin is on top of the other one and they are fighting." He seemed concerned at first. But all of the teenagers and couples around us started cackling and laughing and making jokes so Sam and Jack began to howl with laughter. I was amused, too. But for slightly different reasons.
First of all, the male had to chase the female for a good long while, trying to knock her over before he was able to, uh, get lucky. And then, during their little tryst, she looked about as interested as a kid learning the periodic table of elements. I swear, if there was one of those little thinking bubbles over her head, you would see her thinking, "Hmmm, let's see. What should I make the chicks for dinner tonight? Ohh, fish. Yes. That's it. I'll make fish. Oh darn, but first I have to go to the store. And I guess while I'm there I should pick up some ice. Yes, ice and fish. Oh, and I am snack mom for snowball races tomorrow. I should pick up some treats while I am at the market." Meanwhile, the dude is having the time of his life.
The interlude lasted all of about 2 minutes. Mr. Penguin finished up, collapsed down next to Ms. Penguin, and lay there for a minute or two. I could swear that I actually heard him ask for a cigarette. After a moment, Ms. Penguin got up, collected herself, and waddled away.
I would like to clarify that I have never in my life had a personal experience anything remotely similar to Ms Penguin. And my mind has certainly never wandered at such an intimate moment. Absolutely not. I mention this whole penguin porn episode only because it is in such stark contrast to the human male:female mating ritual. I didn't recognize anything about it AT ALL.
Back to my kids though. I should note that I leaned over to the teenagers next to me and told them I would pay them to keep their mouths shut about what was really happening. And the whole way home I got to hear my innocent little guys talk about how cool it was to see the penguins chasing each other and fighting and then falling asleep.
I read an article today on CNN.com that actually caused my blood to boil. I could feel it percolating under my skin. The author suggested that the US should boycott the Olympics, being held this summer in Beijing, and not send our athletes to the games.
Let me be clear that my disdain for the Chinese government is deep. But to suggest that Americans have some sort of moral authority and can use that authority to make a statement by boycotting the games is absurd. Aren't we the country of waterboarding and Abu Ghraib and holding prisoners illegally at Guantanamo? Aren't we the country that invaded Iraq illegally according to the UN Charter? Who are we to hold ourselves as superior to the Chinese? The United States lost any moral authority long, long ago.
What saddens me is that the World Community (is there such a thing?) selected China to hold the games to begin with. Does the world not care that China is one of the biggest sellers of weapons to the Sudanese government, these weapons used in turn to inflict unspeakable crimes against humanity in Darfur? Even our own State Department references China's "extrajudicial killings, torture and mistreatment" of Tibetans. Are we really so in love with cheap crap that we aren't willing to risk alienating the Chinese government?
In 1996 I was lucky enough to spend 2 amazing months with Tibetan refuges in Dharamsala, India. It is impossible for me to describe the beauty and courage of the Tibetans. In order to practice their religion openly, they must escape their home city of Lhasa in the middle of the night and make a treacherous trek through mountains and snow, avoiding police checkpoints and hypothermia. Those that make it travel for two weeks before arriving in Dharamsala, a region of India granted to exiled Tibetans by the Indian Prime Minister in 1960. They make this trip so that they can practice their religion openly and in peace, led by their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
I spent my nights in Dharamsala at DrepungLoseling Monastery. I arrived after a 16 hour bus ride from Delhi. When I walked into the main receiving area, I was greeted by 3 young monks, enjoying the best known American export - Baywatch. They showed my friend and I to our room where we had our own shower and our own private monkey "forest" hanging around outside our window. It doesn't take long in Dharamsala to get your bearings. We quickly found The Tibetan Children's Village (http://www.tcv.org.in/home.shtml) and Yongling School, where we taught English to eager students.
I have heard that Dharamsala has changed in the 10+ years since I have been there, but when I was there, all I saw was beauty. The children and the adults and the shopkeepers and the teachers and the monks and the nuns struck me as such pure souls, eager to tell their stories and ask for help for their people. I had to leave midway through my stay to return to the States for my brother's wedding and a crowd of students and nuns and monks escorted me to my bus, placing prayer scarves around my neck, wishing me a safe journey and "namaste" (travel in peace).
Sadly, what has not changed is China's continued oppression of the Tibetan people. Tibet fell to Communist China's control in the 1950s and since that time the people have had their government taken from them, been forbidden from practicing their religion, and been forbidden from speaking their native language, among many, many other infractions. Between 1950 and 1984, over 200,000 Tibetans were killed by genocide, in prison and in labor camps. At least 80 peaceful demonstrators have been killed in the past week alone as Tibetans continue to non-violently protest their oppression by the Chinese government.
So, no, I am not in favor or a US boycott of the Olympic games. But what can concerned individuals do, particularly now that all eyes are watching Beijing for this summer's Olympics? Here are three ideas:
Boycott the Olympics yourself. Don't buy into the televised hype of the new, modern, clean Beijing.
Boycott Chinese goods - a personal way of opposing the Chinese occupation of Tibet and showing solidarity with the Tibetan people.
Today was Sam's field trip to The Cantor Art Museum at Stanford University. I was one of the parent chaperones. It was a busy morning preparing all of the kids for school, playdates, etc., packing garbage-free lunches, and getting all three kids where they needed to be on time. I breathed a sigh of relief when I arrived at Sam's class, ready to go.
About two hours later, at the museum, one of the other moms pulled me over. "Do you know you have on two different shoes?" she whispered.
J, my 4 year old, has been struggling with separation anxiety the past few months so I am always looking for quality one on one time with him. Today we had one hour, just the two of us, and he chose to go to LuLu's, our neighborhood Mexican joint.
We happened to arrive shortly after the local middle school was let out for the day (half days for parent-teacher conferences), so the place was mobbed with 4th-8th graders who walked there for lunch. I was struck by several things:
1) No parents in sight.
2) The girls have the cutest clothes. No doubt their wardrobes are nicer than mine. There was an abundance of Ugg boots, trendy bags, tight tanks. The guys were decked out in izod, pumas, and riding high-end looking skate boards.
3) Several of the kids used credit cards to pay for their lunch. The others paid with $10s or $20s. An average lunch at LuLu's is probably $9.
4) Lots of swearing, trash talking, and heavy flirting.
After lunch, we went across the street to Starbucks which was also packed with middle schoolers. The girl in front of me (I'd guess in a bout 7th grade) paid with a Starbucks card. She didn't have enough to cover her drink, so she took out a credit card and loaded her starbucks card with $50. I took a look around and all of the kids had huge foofyfrappucino drinks. Those things cost serious coin.
Can we all just say a collective WTF?
Perhaps I am being hypocritical, because obviously I had to be at these establishments to notice this, but going out to eat is a real treat for my kids and me. Certainly not a daily, or even weekly indulgence. And as for my daily starbucks, I figure my $2.35 for a tall latte is ultimately a huge savings over being admitted to the loony bin. And I am 38 years old. I have worked really hard for a really long time to enjoy that $2.35.
Growing up, money was a sensitive issue in our house. We always had the necessities covered, but there certainly wasn't extra cash for designer jeans or regular meals out. I remember saving for a looooooong time to buy my first pair of Guess jeans IN COLLEGE.
As a result of that, at least in part, I really learned to be careful and respectful with the money I did earn. I had to make choices and prioritize the things I wanted.
But I digress. This isn't about me. (Or is it?)
Getting back to the kids - my first thought is, seriously, what in the world is wrong with their parents? All of these kids are under 13, so I think it's a pretty safe bet that they are not working for this money. And I don't think they are using credit cards with cash coming from their checking accounts.
But then I realize, this is my 'hood. Fast forward a few short years and it's going to be my kids who are this age. Just say, for the sake of argument, that $10-15 lunches (lunch + a large vanilla bean frappucino) every day and the coolest clothes and toys for my kids are affordable for my family. Then what? Is it a reasonable thing to share our abundance with our children? If you can live in a nice house and save for college and retirement and give money to those who are less fortunate, and there is still plenty left over, why not let your kids enjoy what you have? Or does that deny them the opportunity to feel the proper respect for money, and particularly for those who may not be so financially privileged? Will they ever learn to separate their happiness and self worth from the things they HAVE? And then, take the opposite scenario - what if we don't enough money to give our children all of the toys and things their friends have? What if expensive lunches and decadent drinks aren't in the budget? How do you handle that when when you live in a community where many families do have seemingly unlimited resources? How will we teach our children that being happy doesn't come from things you can buy? How do you help them feel ok when the majority of their peers have everything they want?
Here is the part of the blog where I am supposed to come up with a pithy and catchy conclusion but I don't have one. I don't know the answers. All I know is that I am really glad my kids are still young enough that a 25 cent gumball is still the ultimate extravagance.