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 and...it 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).



Saturday, November 4, 2017

Hallowe’en

The first of the holiday trifecta is in the bag! Halloween was very successful this year, in large part due to the fact that my sister was visiting and made the boys’ super cute spider costumes, and Theo can navigate dark bumpy streets now without constantly falling, and we had three adults wrangling two kids, which to me is a good ratio!



There were two school Halloween parades - Theo’s preschool one, followed by Bobby’s kindergarten one which was a lot more involved than I’d anticipated (it involved the entire elementary school and took hours). Bizarrely, the “Watch me Whip” guys did an impromptu performance - word on the street (ie, my neighborhood moms’ FB group) is that he lives in the neighborhood, saw the Halloween parade starting and asked the PTA guy in charge if he could jump in and do his song. Naturally the kids all lost their shit and few things were funnier than kids in costumes whipping and nae-naeing. 

I didn’t have much of a plan for trick or treating - normally we hook up with other families, but had no invites this year (and honestly it’s kind of hard keeping a large group together). So I drove us to a neighborhood often cited as great for LA trick or treating...but then drove around in circles for ages, unable to find parking, and had to give up. Thankfully I had a backup plan and found a good spot in neighboring Eagle Rock. It worked out great - we all enjoyed it and I had the surreal experience of seeing nearly all parents glued to their phones and radios watching the Dodgers in the World Series - and quite a few houses moved their TVs onto their lawns so passers by could watch. I couldn’t care less for sports but even I got caught up in the drama of it. 

I am still negotiating getting a new car, installing solar and getting the house rewired. I had a rude awakening last weekend when I visited a dealer and discovered they will not, in fact, work with me on my current lease - they want me to take a huge hit for the depreciation and over mileage and don’t seem to care that I want to stay with their brand. I may end up just buying this car, which I find extremely depressing. We’re all being dragged back so much in life right now - I desperately want to move to the future (ie, get a hybrid) because I feel like it’s the only thing I can control. I can at least get myself somewhat off the grid - solar and off (most) gas. I’ll keep trying, though. I may visit another dealer next weekend and see if they can do better for me. Fingers crossed! 



Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Going green

I’m in the midst of various projects that will hopefully turn out to be money savers/good investments down the road. It’s been a ton of meetings for estimates and big decisions, with lots more to come. But for now, I have a permit for solar panels in the works (hopefully to be installed by the end of the year for a big fat tax break), concurrent with a rewiring of the entire house (hooray for grounded three-prong outlets, dimmers and updated lighting!), and at long last a hybrid car for me. 

The boyfriend is most likely going to buy my leased car - he qualified for a loan at the dealer - and I’m going to try to get into a lease of a Niro hybrid. I’ve promised myself for years now that my next car will be at least a hybrid; research tells me all-electric cars just don’t have the range I need yet, but may by the time this lease would be up. It’s hard to imagine that; or that by the time this potential lease is up at least one of my boys will be out of a car seat! 

So all of these things take a bit of money up front but will save me in the long run; by spring my electric bill will disappear, and my car gas bill cut at least in half. And I don’t have to worry about my house burning down due to ancient wiring. 

The boys have been exceptionally...shall we say...”energetic” lately, and it’s exhausting. They are so much more enjoyable when they’re not bouncing off the walls. It’s so much easier when kids are littler and you don’t need them to do things like homework and practice violin and be places on time...I feel like every sentence out of my mouth involves phrases like “hurry up!”, “this is taking wayyyyy too long”, or “we’re going to be late!” But I suppose this is the lament of all parents; not unique to me. I once saw an internet meme of two snails slowly moving across a floor which said “my kids getting ready in the morning.” Add to this a younger brother who still is iffy about eating in general, hasn’t really grasped consequences, and needs everything done for him still, and life can get pretty complicated. Yet still we make it to school more than on time every day, do all the “crazy hair day” stuff you’re expected to do, get all the homework done, brush the teeth, take the baths. Looking around I feel like I’m doing about average compared to the other parents (parenting over-achiever I am not, as I’m sure you’ve gleaned by now); better in some areas and worse in others. Bobby could read better and Theo could speak better and they could both be cleaner, but they are both kind, well-behaved boys who are gentle with babies and animals, so I guess I’m doing something right!



Sunday, October 15, 2017

Pumpkins!

Pumpkins! Can I just say how much easier days like this are with a three-year-old and five-year-old than younger kids? All around us were hugely pregnant women managing their toddlers' complete meltdowns. I was like, grrrrl...been there! Here's to kids that use the potty, (mostly) eat their food, can play together, climb without falling, and (mostly) listen - hooray!









Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Taking care of business

In my quest to properly distribute this year's income, I'm starting to move forward with a few projects. The kitchen design is taking forever - the kitchen designer I enlisted said it would take two weeks for some rough plans; three weeks later he admitted to me he hadn't even started. Which, according to friends, is fairly typical. Coming up on the end of the fiscal year and the holidays, during which I'd rather not have my entire house torn apart, it just doesn't seem feasible to even attempt to start a kitchen remodel this year. However, I can probably do it early next year when my income starts up again in February.

In the meantime I still need to spend that money, so today I bought a new washer/dryer to replace my 20+ year-old stacker which leaks dryer exhaust all over the house every time I use it. I'm excited to see how my life changes with a large capacity high efficiency washer and dryer. It gets delivered in a week. 

I also got an estimate started for a complete house rewiring from a highly recommended female electrician (yay women). I shudder to imagine what that's going to cost me, but it really has to happen. We're dealing with dangerous knob and tube wiring over here. She can also get me a new solar-ready panel, which is the next big project I'm looking at.

In true mom fashion, I invested in $40 worth of Halloween decor at the dollar store. Since we don't get trick-or-treaters here, it never really occurred to me to decorate. But I knew the kids would get a kick out of it (they did) so it was fun for all of us. In this instance I added in some marquis lettering from Target for a bit of a political message:



Last week I started to feel myself slipping into a bit of a depression. Feeling overwhelmed by all the changes coming up, never feeling quite rested or recovered from the event, and various other things, sent me into a bit of a tailspin. I found myself lingering in bed too long and being generally impatient and ill-tempered, with the ever-present mantra of "I'm so depressed, I don't feel good" playing over and over in my head.

At a certain point I had to just take matters into my own hands and have a conversation with myself. "You can continue with this and make your kids miserable and ruin your relationship, or you can knock it off. But, you do you, boo." I realized that as much as I preferred to wallow that I had to pull myself out of it for the sake of the people around me. I'm not saying everything is so perfect now, but the intrusive thoughts have stopped and I feel hopeful about the future, which means the veil of depression has mostly lifted due to some concerted brain rewiring on my part over a couple of days. Let's hope I can keep this up. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Espain

Guess what? I have no jet lag. It's a minor miracle, considering the fact that last time I came back from Spain I suffered for a couple of weeks after. I feel so normal, in fact, that Spain now seems like some weird dream I had. 

It was a good trip - I ate mountains of cheese and olives and bread, enjoyed good company (surprisingly we ended up having many friends at this event), and generally had a swell time. 







The event itself was not like anything we had done before - it was a competition of four different swing bands, in which one was voted the winner by the audience at the end of the weekend. We had to "battle" each band each night by playing songs back and forth on stage. At one point we had pulled out one of our "killer dillers", and the other band, which in my opinion was a bit of a wedding band, not knowing how to top us, decided to play Bruno Mars' "Uptown Funk". Which of course got the crowd going, as any modern funk song will over rinky-tinky 1930s swing music. They basically brought a gun to a knife fight. My bandleader picked me to follow it, which at first had me kind of freaked out, but then I thought, "no, fuck that. We're the best at what we do, we don't have to pander, and we live and breathe this music." So I strode out there in my eighty-year-old dress and killed it.

The other band won the audience pick. But our band won all the musicianship awards which were voted by other musicians. In your FACE, crappy wedding band.

Hopefully this trip has put us on the European scene a bit - one friend there said he'd try to get us to play a big event in Budapest next year, and we made good friends with this Swedish band who felt the same way we did about the importance of playing authentic swing. My bandleader said he would not do this event again. But we both really enjoyed being in Madrid, and I'm glad I went. 

As usual the boys both looked taller, skinnier, and seemed more sophisticated when I got home. Nothing came of the potential bullying incident - I messaged his teacher about it, and she said she'd look into it, but I haven't heard anything since, and Bobby said the kids don't play the "name game" anymore and he says he plays with some of those boys. It's also anti-bullying month at school. Was this just some minor incident? Perhaps!

Today I saw a financial advisor. Learned a lot of good things and have a plan goin forward to handle what will hopefully be a new level of income in my life. Mainly, I have a lot of work ahead of me - I have to get my act together and do proper bookkeeping, payroll (for myself, anyway), change my LLC to an S corp, etc etc. New tax person, a whole new system. Pretty much everything I've been doing for two decades has to change. The word "daunting" comes to mind.

The good news is, he gave me the green light to renovate my kitchen. Or, you know, just hand the money over to Trump in April. I could do that. Not. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Off again

Tomorrow morning I leave for Spain. I am both looking forward to it and dreading it. The gig itself might be a bit of a nightmare - this is a dance-tangential event, so we're not dealing with "our people" and the communication/organization of it has been tricky to say the least. When you're a bandleader and you invite six people to another country with you, you want them to have a good experience. I'm nervous. However...we're going to Madrid. I haven't been to Spain since 2004 and haven't been anywhere in Europe for a long time. Surely there's some fabulous food and sightseeing in my future if nothing else.

Last night I finally cleared out my 300+ post-event email inbox. I made an appointment with a financial advisor for the week I get back so I don't take a bath in taxes this year. He may advise me against doing the kitchen. That project may end up saved for 2018. 

Yesterday Bobby casually mentioned that he was called into the principal's office at school to talk about kids playing "the name game" - i.e. calling him names. He said "at the end they say Marry your sister's butt, but I don't have a sister, so..." I was pretty upset that kids had been ganging up and calling him names, but he seemed unperturbed. I messaged his teacher about it to get a more clear story (his was muddled to say the least), but she has not written back. How do you know when kids are just suffering silently with things, as kids so often do, or when there genuinely isn't anything to worry about? I worry a lot that he has friends and is enjoying school...way more than I worry about his academic development. That says way more about me than it says about him. 

With the seemingly endless requests for supplies, volunteering, donations, involvement and attention between the two preschools, the after school program, and Bobby's school, I never feel like I'm doing enough. Was this much asked of our parents? I think not.

So tomorrow I leave to fly halfway around the world until Monday. I'm looking forward to leaving the drudgery of every day life with two small children behind - the early wake ups, the food preparation, the wiping, always with the wiping...but am also not looking forward to being so far away and missing them and their sweet little faces. Sigh. Can't live with 'em...