Friday, January 5, 2018

Resolutions and such

It’s a new year. I’m pretty heartened to see the general attitude on Facebook about it is “let’s grab this year by the balls!” instead of last year’s fear and defeatism. Hey, we survived a whole year with an incompetent lunatic in the White House. I’m furious he’s still there - but we’re still alive and functioning. That’s something, right? And it’s all about those mid-terms. I can’t frigging WAIT for November.

As usual I’ve assembled myself a list of resolutions. I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep any of them. I’m still in Little Kid Mode - I’m still responsible for the every need of three people (sometimes four). It’s a lot, and I am always exhausted, no matter how much time off or rest I get. I figure this will continue at least until Theo is in kindergarten, which is still almost two years away. So just surviving the year is my number one resolution.

Secondary is learning piano (I have a cheap intro lesson with B’s violin teacher next Saturday) and resuming yoga finally (tentative plans to check out a local studio on Tuesday). I would also like to not buy any new clothes for myself for an entire year (except underwear and socks), sticking with second-hand clothes only. Being a seasoned vintage clothes shopper, this should not be an issue. But there is some comfort in just waltzing into a Target or an Old Navy and pulling things your size off the rack and getting in and out fast. Vintage clothes (even modern vintage) takes a lot more digging and time (and creativity). But somehow I got the bug up my butt that I really don’t want to contribute to the fast fashion industry anymore, so I’d like to at least try that. 

I would also like to take off the 5-7 pounds I packed on since the summer. I know this is laughable to some, and I’m pretty annoyed with myself that I even care about such a paltry amount of weight. But I know that not caring is exactly how you wake up and find yourself 20, 30, 40 lbs overweight one day and wonder how it happened. Being vigilant is how you stay slim. But oh, it’s so exhausting, and hard, and it’s so tempting to just say “fuck it” and let yourself slip into middle aged spread. To say I have a complicated relationship with weight at this stage in my life would be an understatement. 

What I would like for my life this year is this: try to get through the final full year of schlepping Theo between preschools and lots of childcare time with some grace; continue to have thriving, healthy kids; continue to be in a loving relationship; have another successful event that benefits from the many changes I’m making this year and makes enough to renovate my kitchen; continue to work on my mental health and not let intrusive thoughts ruin my serenity; be able to have those rare, elusive moments of just sitting in the moment and feeling grateful and proud of all I’ve accomplished. 

But mostly, be kind to myself. I do a lot, and I’m not perfect, and striving for perfection is a fool’s game. People always say, “everyone does the best they can,” but that’s total bullshit. I don’t always do the best I can; I assume this is true for everyone else, too. Sometimes you fuck up and you know you’re fucking up and you just don’t care. Welcome to being human. I know 2018 will have many of those moments of not being my best. Let’s hope I can have the grace to shrug my shoulders, chuckle to myself, and try to do better tomorrow (maybe). 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Mess Mahs

The final act in the holiday triptych is over. Like many families this year, we passed it all at various stages of illness - Bobby at the tail end, me right in the middle, and Theo just starting. Symptoms included fever, listlessness, aches, fatigue, runny nose, coughing. Bobby missed half his winter camp, Theo had to be retrieved from school early, and countless plans/projects had to be abandoned so I could malinger in bed. 

I did, however, rally just enough on Christmas Eve to create this, baked from scratch: 

The idea had been for the boys to join me in this venture, but the BF took them out to get them out of my hair and kept them out so long I ended up just doing it all myself. Honestly, after feeling like death warmed over while caring for sick, bored kids all week, an afternoon of an absorbing project while listening to true crime podcasts was just what the doctor ordered. 

Christmas was fine - a pleasant day at home with no visiting, traveling, cooking or entertaining. The boys were delighted with all their gifts, even the dumb ones. I’m dreading the day they start being bratty about getting things they don’t want. In anticipation of this, I drafted this list of Christmas Rules: 

The next day we went “sand sledding” at Venice beach. A Southern California tradition I was unaware of, apparently every winter vast sand dunes are created as storm breaks along various beaches, and kids sled down them. I had bought the kids saucers for an upcoming trip to the mountains, so we used those. Honestly, it didn’t work out so hot - we should have brought boogie boards - but it was a gorgeous day and we all had a nice day at the beach. 

Today I went to the funeral of an old dance friend - a woman just a few years older than me with a young son who died of an aneurysm when I was in Italy. She was the ex-girlfriend and dance partner of one of the guys I kicked out of my Hall of Fame a year ago. I had a lot of trepidation going there today - and the guy did not disappoint, making a dig at my event in his eulogy and being pretty foul to everyone who dared approach him (not me - I stayed a mile away at all times). It was just terrible watching her young son touch her casket for the last time. Like all mothers, my biggest fear in life is leaving my sons motherless. I know that I am their whole world, and that they are whole and happy and safe because I am here. It’s a huge weight, existing for the well being of little people. And not one I take lightly.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Winter break

Bobby woke up today complaining of an upset stomach, and I thought “oh boy, here we go...” I gave him a hug, set him in front of the TV with a bucket, and waited. 

Eventually I had to go do the complicated switch over of the loaner car, trade out car seats, get my car back, which took half the day - luckily my sitter had the day free so she came to watch the boys while I did all this. 

We had an odd afternoon of bad TV and applesauce. Bobby never threw up but felt pretty hot (much to my annoyance I couldn’t get either digital thermometer to work properly) so I put him to bed shortly followed by his extremely bored younger brother. Now comes that experience every parent knows - going to bed yourself wondering if you’ll be woken up by screaming, vomiting children, or worse - very ill, feverish children that need to be rushed to an ER. Fingers crossed whatever this thing is will pass. I don’t know if he’ll be well enough to go on his winter camp field trip ice skating tomorrow - I guess we’ll find out in the morning! 

Yesterday I renewed my membership on the donor sibling registry, and signed up for a lifetime membership and added Theo’s information, too. Unfortunately in the years since I first listed Bobby on there there has been no activity except the one I already knew about - a woman who had reached out to me looking for vials for a sibling (I had already turned mine back in to the sperm bank). The birthday of her boy is on there, though - born exactly one day (!) before Bobby’s birthday but two years after (so ten days after Theo). Their location is listed as NY. It’s unlikely we’ll ever have any contact with this phantom brother. Which is too bad. I wish we could all just exchange pictures or something. I’m dying of curiosity to know what all these other kids at least look like (I say “all” because since the donor retired it means he met his maximum births - which I believe is something like 20 families. So there may be a lot of little musical redheads with sacral dimples out there). 

Thursday, December 14, 2017


Returned from Parma. My first trip to the Motherland (I am Italian tangentially through my Brazilian born father) went well. It was everything I had hoped - cobble stone streets, great food, musical language. I wouldn’t advise visiting Europe in December when you’re not used to cold - we froze our asses off - but hey, free trip. 

One thing strikes me every time I go to Europe (aka The Old Country). As much as I love the history and beauty of the place...I can see how for some people the weight, the responsibility of all that history and culture can be a bit stifling. It must be hard to break away and pave your own way in places like that. I even felt that way in New York - coming out West was a revelation; “nobody knows me here and I can do anything I want!” It’s immensely freeing. 

I returned to a real steam roller of a week. It will all be over by Sunday, but oy. Christmas shows, tons of candy making, tons of work, dropping off the new car for a moon roof installation and driving a quirky loaner, dealing with the aftermath of the house rewiring in which tons of things have to be fixed/tweaked/cleaned up after, all while juggling kids (and today my period), has been not fun. I haven’t even caught my breath. But luckily Bobby is off school after tomorrow, which means a couple of great things - we can all sleep 1-2 more hours each morning, we don’t need to rush around, and no homework. Once the multitudinous gifts have been made and distributed (Bobby’s class and teachers, Theo’s class and teachers, the band members, my friends, movie and book club people, the afterschool program, Theo’s morning school, my babysitter and cleaning lady and violin teacher, etc etc), which they mostly will by the weekend, I can finally breathe. 

It’s funny how things switch. I used to live in dread of time off school - now it’s the opposite, since it means being able to sleep in (kinda). And a five year old being off school is no big deal - Bobby is an absolute delight on his own; I actually look forward to spending time with him. Theo at three is still tough - and we have a LONG three weeks with no morning preschool. But I’m confident if we get up a little later it won’t be so bad. Bobby is at winter camp two, possibly three of the weeks. I look forward to focusing on some house projects and just relaxing after this. Could it be “vacation” actually means vacation once your kids are school aged???

In other news, I flipped the solar switch yesterday. Goodbye, cruel grid!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

It’s beginning to look a lot like Meh-Mahs

We did our decorating today. Lights are on the house and a nice noble fir is in the living room. I am also utilizing my first ever fresh wreath, as the red styrofoam holly berry one I’ve used for years is starting to look worse for the wear. 

I feel like a lot was overlooked this year - I’m withholding some decorations because I just can’t deal. It’s a stressful month for me - my electrician is still rewiring; they were supposed to be done tomorrow, but so little is done I can’t imagine that’s going to happen. Which means I just lit and decorated my house with workmen still coming in here and moving all the furniture and tearing the house apart every day. Not advisable, but necessary - if I wait until the weekend I get back from Italy, I’m booked solid that whole weekend, then it’s just a week to Christmas. No, it had to happen today. Which is why I didn’t put everything out. Who knows what dust/damage/disruption is still going to be caused by the workers. I don’t want to take that risk.

There’s a lot going on. I know I’m not alone in this for this time of year, but this year is exceptionally packed. I have two days to do everything and prepare to leave for Italy on Wednesday; I return Monday, then immediately the next morning have to take my car to have a moon roof put in (part of the agreement in buying this car, which has taken some 30+ phonecalls and endless frustration to make happen), then have to hustle to make candy/presents for 50+ kids and tons of teachers and workers and helpers before school lets out for three weeks that Friday. 

Honestly, I’m looking forward to the break. It’ll be great to not have to drag my carcass out of bed early, and really, Bobby is quite a delight to be with one on one. He’s thoughtful and smart and funny. I have him signed up for two weeks of winter camp at his rec center and also his old preschool; the first week may get canceled, and I’m going to leave the second week alone for now because I might just be up to tackling a week of non-stop childcare, especially with Christmas to break it up. Never thought you’d hear me say that, did ya? 

We saw the donor siblings Saturday after a long break (we last saw one of the girls at Bobby’s & Theo’s birthday party in March). We have both told the kids who they are to each other...except Theo of course who’s too young to grasp it. The girls started using the term “brother” over lunch which made all of us prick up our ears for a minute; other than that they played nicely just like friends in a big gang.  It will be interesting to see how these relationships unfold going forward. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017


Well, I survived a full week of non-stop childcare. Bobby’s been off school since last Friday, and Theo only had preschool two afternoons. And yet, it was really ok. I know I sound like a broken record, but boy are things easier when the toddler years are over. No more breastfeeding, diaper changes, or carrying of children. In fact it dawned on me that when we do long outings I should have the boys carry backpacks with their own toys, water bottles and changes of clothes so I can at last be free of the giant, heavy diaper bag full of all of their crap. We’ve already shed strollers and carriers. The giant mom bag would be the last holdover from the baby years. 

Despite putting little thought or planning into it, I managed to put together a nice Thanksgiving dinner for four adults and two children (the children of course refusing to eat anything). Then we had a couple of days of sightseeing with the whole family (sister and brother-in-law and another friend plus the BF and me) thanks to the BF’s new car which seats seven. 

Speaking of which, for the first time ever we have two cars with car seats. This is going to open a whole world of possibilities for us - having my car be the only one that can be used to pick up kids has made for some difficult finagling at times. I feel like we’re one (big) step closer to being a real family.

It’s funny how long this shit takes. I think it’s a result of being older and jaded - it takes forever to trust a person and really let them into your life. This man has lived with us for a year and been in our lives for 2 1/2 and yet I still find myself making contingency plans in case he’s not around some day. And, mind you, I know he’ll never leave me. But I do worry that something will happen to make me leave. What, I don’t know. But I know that I’m the less tolerant one and the one more comfortable with being single. Still, I sense some trepidation on both our parts. However, his being able to participate more in family life by having a suitable car with car seats, and finally getting health insurance, are big steps forward. 

It’s back to school tomorrow, and boy am I not looking forward to getting up early and hustling to school again! But I sure am looking forward to some alone time. The electrician starts rewiring the house Tuesday and I still have to do some modifications to the car, so it’s going to be a chaotic week. Then next Wednesday I leave for Italy for some singing work. Never a dull moment!

Monday, November 13, 2017

The conversation

Well, the cat’s out of the bag. Over French fries and a strawberry shake in the parking lot of an In-N-Out in Commerce, I finally told Bobby his origin story.

I decided to do it now because I didn’t want to put it off any more, and I received an email from the half-sisters’ mom asking if we had told the boys yet and what my thoughts were. So I told him how The Boyfriend is his dad because he loves them and is raising them, but that I made them in my belly with seeds from another man called a donor. I told him lots of other mommies used these seeds, too, and so he has half-brothers and sisters, two of whom he knows (when I showed him pictures he vaguely remembered them). I told him when he turns 18 he can contact the donor if he wants to know about him. This is when B said the most heartbreaking thing. “He said he wants to see me?” And how on earth do you explain to a five-year-old about anonymity and contracts and open identity? I stumbled around trying to explain that this person doesn’t know about him yet and I don’t know him either and and all got pretty convoluted at that point. But it’s done - the word “donor” was used, as was “half-sibling”. He knows about his sisters; he knows there are others, and that he does not have a biological father who lives with us. I honestly don’t think he ever thought about who his father is; he has this man who lives with us who takes him out for fun adventures and wrestles with him and his brother, and that’s all he cares about. 

I decided to stop talking at that point because the more of an issue I made about it, the more I feared he would think it was something to be concerned about. Us choice moms so want our kids to just be normal and feel normal. But this one things makes them not normal. All we can hope is that they learn to embrace it. 

We are planning to meet up with the half-sibs in a couple of weeks. More than likely Bobby won’t even remember they’re his sisters, ha ha!

In other news, solar panels are installed and approved by the city - although it could be anywhere from two weeks to three months before I can switch them on. So far everything in this process has gone much more quickly than anticipated, so let’s hope I get them up and running in time for Christmas lights!

On Saturday after an exhausting day at the dealer, I finally acquired my much lusted-after 2017 Niro Hybrid. I’m delighted to be stepping down from contributing to the gas and electric industries. I’ll be leasing this car until 2020 when hopefully the electric car technology will be so advanced that I can plug in at home every night, for free with the solar panels. 

Here’s my hope for 2020 - happy, healthy kids both in elementary school; a thriving business that’s paid for a new kitchen; a continuing loving relationship; and someone decent in the White House (honestly, I’d take half an onion in a ziplock over Drumpf at this point).