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...





Wednesday, September 20, 2017

September

I must have been sicker than I thought. Most of my close friends were bed ridden for days after the event; I feel somewhat normal now, but still have a horrid guttural cough. I had to cancel a singing gig Friday night and have tried not to push myself too much. Which basically means I am just doing the bare minimum at the moment. But at least this explains how exceptionally out of it I've been after this year's event.

Things are looking up for next year, though. I have lined up an excellent registration program which will alleviate three big jobs for me - all the paperwork before the event (countless admin hours - I mean really, in the hundreds of hours), I no longer have to assign contest numbers ahead of time (typically a three day job for me), and I no longer have to sit at the front desk for several hours each day during the event dealing with contest issues. What this will mean for me is twofold - freed from the drudgery of paperwork, before the event I can focus on more details that currently get forgotten; and freed of the contest coordinating I have to do during the event, I might *gasp* actually be able to enjoy some of the event. 

I'm so amazed by how simple and inexpensive this upgrade is going to be, I'm actually pretty mad at myself that I never thought of it before. It's not that I didn't think of it; I just thought it was out of my reach financially. Still, I wonder why it doesn't occur to me to fix problems or upgrade systems sometimes. I'm sure this has something to do with the learned helplessness from my childhood. And that pisses me off. 

Still, I am excited to enter my third decade of business ownership with all these cool new systems in place. Honestly, it's going to change everything. 

I had another kitchen designer over today. I feel as "meh" about this one as I did the last. I think I need to accept the fact that I am dealing with a tiny little space, which means there's not much you can do to it to make it "dazzling", which is what I want. In the end it's just four short walls, and like it or not you have to squeeze in a refrigerator, stove, sink, dishwasher, cabinets and counter space. Part of me wants to just say "fuck it" and cheaply replace the cabinets and leave it at that. But the money is available now so I want to spend it now, because who knows when I'll have money again. 

No word from my two lawsuit threateners (the ones I banned from attending my event). The one about the yard lady had a bizarre conclusion - she had sent me two written letters saying simply that she fell on my property; I had my insurance company call her, and she told them that all she wanted was $100 I supposedly owe her for yard work from years ago. Huh? First of all, I know I don't owe her any money, and if she did want money for some imagined unpaid bill, why the fuck didn't she just ask for it? What is wrong with people? Anyway, I sent her a check with a note saying I had no idea I owed her money and that I am sorry she fell. Hopefully that'll be the end of it!

Tomorrow Bobby is off school so we will go get long overdue haircuts, go to the farmer's market which we never get to do, and take him to the Y's play area while I sneak in a workout. I hope he doesn't notice all the toys I donated there!



Tuesday, September 12, 2017

XX

I keep delaying posting about this year's event in the hopes that I'll be less exhausted and therefore more positive later, but at this point I feel like I'm going to continue to live in this state of extreme exhaustion for quite some time, so I might as well forge ahead.

The event went well. Everyone was pleased, money was made, people were inspired. No major nor minor calamities other than some very loud construction going on at the hotel and check-in snafus (i.e., nothing having to do with me). We somehow shuffled through thirty performance teams (we usually have ten), almost forty Showcase routines (back in the day we'd have six or seven), hundreds of competitors, and almost 350 more people than we had last year (so we're at double our average capacity). I felt as though I was barely hanging on by my fingernails; I rued the fact that it was so stressful and all business the whole time so I never had even a moment to stop and let it sink in how amazing it all was; I never got to talk to or bond with people. But every year I have the same regrets, and every year I forget that I have those regrets. Every year I feel like it's too much and I can't handle it, and am surprised/disturbed by what a non-functional wreck I am afterwards for weeks. And yet it's always the same. And I always forget.

The week before the event my ancient air conditioning quit right at the start of a major triple digit heat wave - the whole family was subjected too almost 100 degree inside temperatures for several days before we were able to get the system completely replaced (on the day my event started). It was scary and dangerous and made that last week of intense event prep pure hell. 

So much happened it's hard to even keep track. My contest tabulator quit - not out of anger, but out of the understanding that he needed to focus more on his real job at home and that his antiquated computer system was on its last legs. But within days I had an excellent replacement, so no harm done there. 

I had arranged for an overflow hotel next door since my room block sold out early - days before the event I came up a few rooms short and so they charged me $600; then much to my horror the day after the event they charged me $10,000 for all the people who booked rooms and then never showed up. Due to all the screw ups at the main hotel we are trying to negotiate to get that bill lowered - and by "we" I mean the boyfriend, since I do not have the stomach to call up and threaten to break contracts, etc. He offered to make the call for me and I let him, but not without a lot of grumbling and feeling emasculated on my part. Still, I'm smart enough to know that sometimes it's better to use an outside person who is not emotionally or otherwise attached to your business to do your negotiating for you. And so I did. Now we're just waiting to see what they come back with. 

Another stressor was I went into the event under the threat of three lawsuits - one which now seems likely, the other two which are less so. One was from a guy I banned who sent a lame letter in fake legalese threatening to sue for his right to attend my event (there's no such thing); the other is another guy I banned who claims he has a slander suit against me based on screenshots of conversations I had with someone explaining why I banned him (and this girl who gave him those screenshots - I want to punch her in her fucking face). The third, and most likely to actually go to court, is from this crazy old lady in the neighborhood who was doing yard work for me some years ago. She sent me two letters - one mailed, one hand delivered, claiming she fell on my property and was in the hospital for three weeks. No dates, no explanation. She hadn't worked for me for at least two years, so I don't understand why this is coming up now, or what she wants. But I called my insurance company and they told me I have to contact her since she is clearly being advised to put me "on notice" and is plotting something. They will write her a letter asking for more details and then we'll see what we can see. But I think it's clear that she's going to try to shake me down. So, that's going to be fun.

Upon return from the event I immediately had to jump into mom mode, hop out of bed at 6 AM and get kids to school, etc. It's been fucking brutal. The early mornings, the homework, the constant attention these schools demand (not a fucking day goes by when there aren't more forms to sign, checks to write, donations to make, supplies to buy, projects to work on, etc), are taking a huge toll, and right now I'm just exhausted and emotionally drained enough to be pretty resentful about it. I'm sorry, but I didn't know that when my kid started kindergarten that that would become yet another full time job for me. Yet another way our parents had it way easier - show up to the Christmas pageant, sign off on some report cards, and you're done. Works for me. 

For now I have hired the babysitter to look after Theo today because I am sick AF - shaky, chills, sore throat, foggy - and I desperately need to just lie down for five minutes. It will probably be a full month before I feel even remotely human again.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Finding our way

Somehow, we're doing it. We're getting up early, I'm hustling two small children who can't do shit for themselves out of bed at 7:00 AM, cooking them a hot breakfast, wiping their butts, brushing their teeth, shoving shoes on their feet, making lunches, and getting our butts up a long, steep hill to our school in the mountains. I think I can capture the feeling of our lives today by the feel of a cool, misty morning, and the sweet smell of eucalyptus and desert sage that surrounds the school building. 

It's hard to imagine what life will be like when my event no longer occupies 95% of my brain. I have zero room for anything else - I am completely on auto pilot, shuffling through my daily motherly duties. I tried to explain to Bobby today about how different things are going to be once my event is over and "I don't have to work anymore", but of course his young brain can't possibly comprehend the concept of work, mortgages, utility bills, or Lindy Hop competitions. 

Event is a week away today. Still a lot to do. The good news is I may have found a registration system that will free up hundreds of hours of my time next year - freeing me from countless administrative tasks. I'm going to get a demo of it the week after the event in the hopes of using it in 2018. It's going to cost a little more but could be very life changing. Fingers crossed. 

Both boys seem to be making friends at their new schools. It warmed my heart to see Bobby playing tag with some kids before school today, and when I was dropping Theo at his new morning preschool (same rec center where he went to summer camp) a little girl called out, "that's my friend Theo!" I don't know if it's an age thing or a personality thing, but Theo seems to be an easy going, fun loving kid, whereas Bobby is more shy and mercurial, i.e. more like me. But I'm tempted to say often mothers think their older child is more like them just because they bonded with them first. That's the messed up thing about siblings - no matter what, Bobby will always be first, and all of his experiences will be firsts for me, too. Theo gets the benefit of my experience but a certain lack of newness and enthusiasm on my part. I'm a big believer in the importance of birth order in our lives. It really does determine so much who we are.



Friday, August 18, 2017

Screaming into sheet cakes

A friend posted on Facebook a meme asking people to check in with their "strong friends" right about now, because it's usually now that the strong, controlled people who get right to work and soldier on start to break, a few days after a traumatic event, in this case, Charlottesville. I felt that way this week and I know a lot of people did. Overwhelmed, sad, angry, helpless. I found myself randomly crying and obsessively watching the Tina Turner "We Don't Need Another Hero" video and crying some more. The exhaustion, defeat, and sadness of that song just stabbed me in the heart. And for some reason up until now to me it was just another 80s pop song from my youth. Go figure. 

A couple more unpleasant run ins with shitty customers, which appear to be my kryptonite at the moment. I feel like posting on FB "if you feel it's ok to argue with a small, home-run business about how expensive their product is, insist on special privileges and discounts, and think an exception to their policy should be made for you for no other reason than you want it, you're kind of a bad person". 

I had a talk with Bobby tonight about how it hurts my feelings when I ask him things about his day, about school, etc and he says "I'm not going to tell you." He never tells me shit about anything. He also doesn't answer people when they ask him questions or say hello. That shit's got to be nipped in the bud. I explained it hurts people's' feelings when they're trying to be friendly and get ignored - and modeled it for him. I know he's still little and he's painfully shy as I was/am but that he has to start being more friendly and answer people (especially me!) when they ask questions. I hope I got through, just a little bit. All of this is to say - I have no idea how his first week of school was because he refused to tell me anything about it. 

A couple of scary incidents in the last few days. One, I was getting the kids out of the car to get them upstairs to the house and two young guys on bicycles stopped and one looked me over and said, "hi, how's it going?" I said, "hello", and he just leered at me in a very intimidating way. I was holding Theo's hand the whole time. Who does that to a mother with her little kid right there??? Today something even worse happened. I was taking Theo to preschool, and the whole street was blocked off so I couldn't get into the parking lot, so we walked down the street past this homeless outreach place. Some old guy wth a bicycle was coming out so I stopped for him, he said go ahead, and I smiled and walked (again, holding my three year old's hand). He's right behind me and I hear him saying, "oooh, she's got a sweet little ass on her, look at that ass..." with the intention that I would hear it. I turned around, shook my head with a sad face and said, "you know, that really wasn't necessary!" He said, "I wasn't talking to you!" I said, "yeah, right!" and tried to hustle Theo as fast as possible away. I'm sure he muttered something about me being an ugly bitch because guys like that always do stuff like that. I've been in an absolute rage all day. 

I'm. So. Sick. Of. This. Shit.

When I posted about it on Facebook, some guy had to chime in would I have been so upset if he had been young and good looking. Me and my feminist army shut him down pretty damned fast. So I guess harassment, unwanted groping, even rape is ok if the guy is hot, huh? Get back to the 1950's you ignorant mothetfucker. Some stupid older woman posted that one day I would miss being objectified. 

Let me tell you something. The eleven years I lived in New York, I was sexually harassed every goddamned day. Everything from whistles to insults to being grabbed to being chased or knocked down on the street. Leaving there, and leaving that insanely hostile environment behind (by virtue of the fact that you're always in your car in LA and therefore opportunities aren't there to be harassed and assaulted) was the best thing that ever happened to me. I fucking love being ignored on the street. Just being allowed to walk around all willy nilly as if I were...you know...a man. Crazy, huh?

I watched Tina Fey's sheet cake skit on SNL and girl, I know the feeling! I've been screaming into food since November. As much as I'm totally dreading my upcoming event, I think I, and most of the people I know, really, really need a little escapism right now. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

First day of kindergarten

Ah, the moment every parent dreams of! My first child's first day of school. It was a short one - just a big meeting for the parents in which every child was called up to meet their teacher and go visit their classroom for a few minutes. They filled us in on the emphasis on having an "emotionally responsive classroom" and teaching unity and empathy.  The BF went with me and we both kept side-eyeing each other whispering, "this is so not what school was like when I was a kid," as in, people actually give a shit about kids these days. At my most optimistic I can't help but believe all this emphasis on empathy and children's emotional health has got to mean good things for the future. Right??

I did not tear up until I remembered a story about the Ukrainian tradition of the oldest child walking the youngest child into school. I saw this in a documentary and it slayed me, it was just so charming. 

Today was just an introduction, however. Tomorrow is the real deal - needing to be there on time at 8:00 AM, lunch and snack at the ready, and in school until 2:30. I feel like we're on the precipice of a whole new life. Probably because we are. 



After school I dutifully made this lemon meringue pie as promised. Theo was not a fan but Bobby dug it. 



And now...back to work!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Last hurrah

Today we had our last hurrah before school officially starts in LAUSD tomorrow. With summer camp over and no child care available, I opted some time ago to just take us all to the beach for the day. So to the beach we went. We are now all sunburnt, sandy, and tired, but happy. Big improvement on my last post, indeed. Fortunately for me those dark nights of the soul don't last long.





Sunday I dutifully went to Target and bought my child a light up Star Wars back pack with a matching lunch bag (box?) and a huge IKEA bag full of school supplies as requested by his new teacher via letter. His new teacher, Ms. S, sent us a letter last week welcoming Bobby to her class and telling us all about herself. Pretty cool, huh?

As with everything in young Bobby's life, I so hope that he has a better time of it than I did. When I was five, my newly divorced mother, older sister and I had moved to the small community outside of Boston called Squantum, and I remember walking the couple of blocks to their elementary school for kindergarten. My teacher was a paunchy middle aged lady named Mrs. P with a wicked Southie accent who once put bruises on my arm grabbing me away from something and told my mother I was "sneaky". Ah, the seventies. She did not care for me and the feeling was mutual. Something tells me Ms. S is going to be a vast improvement.

I went to a kindergarten mixer at a local park on Sunday which was a bit of a disappointment. We were so late due to driving around for twenty minutes looking for parking that by the time we finally dragged our asses a mile from our remote parking spot all the introductions had been made and everyone was standing around talking in small groups with zero interest in meeting or talking to anyone else. I walked up to a woman I recognized from a Facebook moms group and introduced myself but she very rudely blew me off. So I just sat alone and watched the kids play. Eventually a lady came to talk to me who insisted on pronouncing France "Frahnce" but she was pleasant enough so I was willing to overlook that. She said she and her husband are actors. Ah, LA.

Anyway, tomorrow is just two hours at the school with me there the whole time so it hardly counts as a first day - Wednesday is the real deal, with an early start time (8AM), lunch and snack needed, and a full day. 

I promised to make the kids a lemon meringue pie after school. Hopefully it's the beginning of many after school treats in their future. 

So long, summer!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The only way out is through

Today I sat on the floor and sobbed with my three-year-old.

If this was a movie, it would start with an unsettling scene of a haggard middle aged woman sobbing on the kitchen floor while her small child sits across from her, also sobbing. Then the scene would suddenly start rewinding to how it all started and why they ended up this way. And hopefully by the end the viewer will say, "oh yeah, I can see that now."

It's never one thing, it's always a series. Mainly, I'm stressed out. I desperately want my event to just fucking be over already so I can stop this 24/7 work cycle. But it's like labor - wishing it away won't make it so. The only way out is through. So I have to suffer about three more weeks before I get any relief. The very thought of that alone makes me want to choke on self-pitying sobs. The very weight of this event - the high expectations, the masses of people, the millions of details I have to get just right, the having to be gracious and thankful and feign excitement for weeks - it's all utterly exhausting.

Some guy filed a fraud claim with PayPal when I refused to give him a refund - the way PayPal is set up, since I'm not sending a physical item out that can be tracked through a mail carrier, when someone says they "didn't receive the item" I have no choice but to just give them their money back. So basically he asked for a refund on his purchase of a weekend pass because he won't be able to attend, I told him the refund period was over but he could keep it for next year or transfer it to someone else, he wrote back whining that he didn't want to come next year and didn't know anyone who wanted it and couldn't I just make an exception for him. He emailed yesterday; this morning I find he's filed a fraud claim stating that my refund cut off date is 9/1. It is 7/31. I had no choice but to give him his money back, but sent him a strongly worded email that I didn't appreciate him lying to PayPal about my refund policy and filing a fraud claim when I already told him no, and to please never attend in the future. He then wrote back that he thought that what he had bought was a contest fee (which can be refunded any time), which is total bullshit since why wouldn't he have brought that to my attention first? "Wait, I paid for a contest, it says I can get that refunded any time!" Everything is so clearly worded that he fucking knew he bought a weekend pass - it is called a weekend pass - he was just trying to pull a fast one. I am so sick of these gas lighting, entitled mother fuckers. Between him and the guy I banned calling me playing all dumb like he's never had anyone complain about him when meanwhile he's been banned from practically every event in LA. Do they all think I'm stupid??? Apparently! So that was how my day started.

Then a litany of other frustrations/stressers/fears too numerous to go into. Then I'm finally at the Y trying to squeeze in a desperately needed workout that I'd been looking forward to all week, and ten minutes into it Theo shits his pants in the childcare room, despite the fact that we had just been on the toilet ten minutes before. Have I mentioned that both kids have been continually shitting their pants for weeks? I mentioned that, right?

Well, I just snapped. I grabbed him out of there, cleaned him up for the millionth time, threw us on the car, marched him upstairs, and then took two stars off of his potty chart while he watched helplessly and sobbed. At that point I just lost it and collapsed and sobbed, too.

I want all of it to stop. The shitty, entitled customers, the endless hypervigilance and drudgery of work preparing for this thing while simultaneously dropping every ball and forgetting important details, the kids who don't listen and won't eat anything and crap their pants and whine and complain. I want everything to just fuck right off. 

After the jarring opening to this movie, we see the haggard middle aged mother take her sobbing child onto her lap, tell him she loves him and she's sorry she scared him, and that everything is going to be ok. Then they read books together for a while until the kid is happy and bouncing around like nothing happened. 

I hope he never remembers this horrible day. Unfortunately I don't think I'll be able to forget it anytime soon.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Last week of summer schedule

It's our final week of summer camp. Bobby starts kindergarten next Tuesday. By "starts" I mean goes there for two hours with me present, then the real schedule starts on Wednesday. I also found out that camp ends for Theo but then his morning preschool (that he's not even signed up for yet) doesn't start until the following week. So it's going to be a tricky week all around. No care for anyone next Monday so I am going to take us to the beach as a celebratory "last hurrah", and then just two hours Tuesday with me there, too, so basically with the weekend I have four days of full child care in a row, right when I need to be working the most. Ugh.

I so wish I could expend more mental energy on this huge, emotional transition to kindergarten. I don't feel like I'm giving this moment the weight it deserves. But I'm doing the best I can. I'll be there for him, I promised I'd whip up a lemon meringue pie for him that day, and buy him a new backpack. This is where I suddenly become a working mother. I just can't get a good balance right now. Work has to take precedence. It just does - if we want to keep this roof over our heads. 

A woman in my neighborhood moms Facebook group posted last week that she had toured our summer camp and was horrified by what she saw and "so sad for the kids there" (which included my two kids). Several of us, alarmed, asked for details, which she gave, and which made me go "meh". Let's put it this way - there are two kinds of mothers. There are the protective mothers who think hands-off mothers are horrible, neglectful abusers; then there's hands-off mothers who think the protective mothers are hovering, smothering enablers. I fall mostly into the hands-off category (surprise, surprise); if my kids aren't being actively engaged and included in things, hugged and kissed by minimum wage earning caretakers who have other shit to do, and occasionally barked at for not listening...ummm...I'm kind of ok with that. If my kids were sad or not wanting to go there, I would absolutely listen to them and remove them. But they both say they like it, are sad it's ending, and want to go back next summer. So I really think it's ok. It's not for every style of parent, and that's ok, too. But boy did everyone get all up and defensive in that thread! Hoo boy! I declined to comment. Opinions are very polarized about this place - I can only go with how my kids are doing there. And they are happy. So I'm happy.

Yesterday we had a family beach trip to Malibu. Mostly it was a giant pain in the ass. However, like most pain in the ass outings with small children, everyone had a good time overall and came home exhausted and happy. In a rare moment when the Pacific wasn't freezing cold, I had a lovely swim, thanks to having another adult there to watch the kids. That one swim was enough to make me feel like no matter how stressful this summer has been and will continue to be, it at least has had its moments. 



Sunday, July 30, 2017

When it rains...

Man oh man, what a kerfuffle. So many fucked up things happened this weekend I don't even know where to begin. Here's a list.

One of the guys I kicked out of my Hall of Fame trash talked my event on FB. Not the end of the world, but annoying.

Another huge scandal in our dance world involving an east coast ballroom. It affects me because I know and care about the people involved, and the person being accused of really horrendous stuff is going to be an instructor at my event this year AND inducted into my Hall of Fame, which I had just announced a few days ago. This scandal is all anyone can talk about. I had no idea if I should fire her or not...until thankfully she emailed me this morning asking to not attend. I will lose money on her flight but that's ok. I'm in the process of removing her from all my web materials and replacing her classes. I'm sure some people will judge me for taking her out of the Hall of Fame inductees list, but the rule is I don't award people unless they're present. Still, my event was mentioned a few times in all this mess. Let's just say massive damage control required on my part over things that have nothing to do with me. Awesome.

Then one of the guys I banned calls me on the phone to "tell me his side of the story" of sexual assault allegations so I'll reconsider and let him back into the event. I pretty much yelled at him for twenty minutes that he's been a fucking menace for twenty years and everyone knows it. He tried to pull all sorts of manipulative bullshit with me like "I thought you were a fair person" and "I should be able to face my accusers". No, not when many people have accused you over the years, sorry. I guess all these women lied about Bill Cosby because they're all crazy too, huh? Sure.

Then my estranged mother emails me (I haven't heard from her in about two years) to once again explain how terrible her childhood was and how my sister and I just don't understand what she went through. I took the opportunity to respond with *some* kindness (I do have empathy for her experiences, I really do) but also recounted for her the things she did in 2006 that started this estrangement and how damaging they were and how I don't trust her and have no interest in contact with her. I've been wanting to say this for eleven years, and it felt good.

The boys have both been really difficult the last few days - I found myself shouting "you need to behave better! You're both driving me nuts!" the other night and throwing them in their room; they both have been shitting their pants all week, and had zero understanding that the reason I wouldn't let them have treats was because they need to not shit their pants (I cleaned four sets of shitty underwear today. FOUR) despite my having explained it 800 times. I find myself having to make them repeat things back to me now, and they NEVER know what I said, ever. They do not listen. Why did the children put beans in their ears when the one thing we told them they must never do is put beans in their ears???

Parenting is sucking right now. Every summer they kind of need to disappear so I can work, and yet they never seem to comply with this. 

Still. As I put them to bed I told them I loved them even if they shit their pants. See? Unconditional love, right there. Something I never knew as a kid. So I guess I'm doing something right.



Wednesday, July 19, 2017

45, 2, and the Kauai Kurse

The good news is, the Kauai Kurse is broken. I had a really lovely trip. Not without some hiccups of course - first day was spent entirely trying to replace the BF's broken iPhone (no Apple or T Mobile stores on the island), and our return flight was repeatedly delayed until we arrived at home twelve hours later than expected. Again, thank god for flexible babysitters!

The BF and I traveled well together, which was a big relief. As much as I was kind of boy friended-out by the end of the trip (really just dying for some alone time which I usually get plenty of), we thankfully had similar travel styles - go with the flow, let's hop some fences and explore, let's push ourselves a little kind of travel. I had to be in charge of planning/booking/arranging everything, but I don't have a problem with that. Hey, that's how you get to do all the shit you want to do, right?





Highlight for both of us was definitely climbing down to Wailua Falls and swimming in it. That was spectacular. On my birthday, Monday, we took an all-day boat tour of the Napali Coast that honestly wasn't all that. Just got banged around on a rough boat ride all day with some sub-par snorkeling. Meh. In retrospect I wish we'd spent the whole day on a beach. But I'm glad I got to do all new things compared to previous trips. 

As mentioned, I turned 45 on Monday.



Since I refuse to share the number 45 with Drumpf, I will be recording my age in months for the next year.

At 45, my mother was marrying for the third time, and had a 25 and 15 year old.

At 45, my grandmother had a 15 and 14 year old, and was divorcing her philandering alcoholic husband.

At 45, I have five and three year olds with an anonymous donor and a live-in boyfriend whom I may never marry. Or might, who knows?

There was some speculation amongst my friends that he may propose to me on this trip - I figured it was pretty unlikely. I'm not really ready for that - I need more time, and he needs to get his shit together a bit more. We may find out we're neither the marrying types, and that's ok. 

We celebrated two years together over a nice dinner, and it was grand.

Right now I've seriously got the blues on return. Hawaii has that effect on people. I had a good sob on the plane coming home when they kept playing sweet Hawaiian music and still feel very emotional. The only positive is since we got so screwed on our return flight, we get two travel credits. Family trip next year!!


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Price increase night

Ah, another price increase night. I've done the first half of the day's paperwork and emails; now I'm just taking a break and watching a documentary about Dr Dre until the next wave comes. As of right now I have over 900 people registered, which would have been unthinkable a few years ago. I've been consistently 200 people ahead this year, as I was last year over the previous year. The bank account is swelling, as is the budget. I can't complain.

After staying up past midnight to adjust the web site to the new prices, I'll try to grab a couple hours' sleep and then the BF and I are going to Kauai. 

Let's recap my previous Hawaii trips, shall we?

2010 - I break up with my briefly held boyfriend who may or may not have been a benign sociopath, and head to Kauai by myself for a long weekend. Unfortunately, my beloved aunt Roberta dies during this trip after a long battle with cancer and I spend much of the trip sobbing on various spectacular beaches. A month later I decide to become an SMC. Seven months later I am pregnant.

2014 - I decide to take my two-year-old and four-month-old to Kauai to meet up with another family with similar-aged kids. They pretty much flake the entire trip and leave me alone and sleep deprived on various spectacular beaches with a baby and a toddler, so I cut the trip short and come home several days early.

2016 - I plan a romantic 1 year anniversary trip with my boyfriend. Unfortunately, we "kind of" break up a month before. Luckily I enlist a friend to take his place, and we have a swell time. So...not exactly as planned, but still a fun and memorable trip.

Let's hope this trip actually goes as planned! I am so convinced something will happen to stop it - a car accident, sick babysitter, sick or injured kids, some problem with the flight, something. But it's just a few hours away and no calamity has hit yet. Other than my period. But I can live with that. 

Here's to things actually working out for once!





Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The 4th

I was concerned about this very patriotic holiday this year. An informal poll I put up on my feminist dancer group on FB revealed very few of my fellow female Americans are "feeling it" this year. I, for one, have been on a tear lately reclaiming patriotism, the flag, and other signs of US pride from the ultra right wing. It's our country, too, dammit.

As I've stated here, I often vacillate between feeling like this is THE END for America in particular and civilized society in general, and feeling like this whole stupid presidency is just a blip, a last gasp of the fat, bloated old rich white guy reactionary bullshit. 

Yesterday I chose to think of it as an unfortunate blip, and celebrate while quietly protesting.



The fam and I went to a fun 4th of July festival in El Segundo by the ocean and then spontaneously camped out on a South Pasadena sidewalk to watch fireworks put on by the local high school (thank you, google). Everyone had a good time.





Also, I went a-protesting over the weekend (Impeachment March) and a photo of my sign made it into the Washington Post. So, that was pretty cool!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Boston

Last weekend I did my annual cousin trip + singing at a dance event. This event is significant for me because I'll never forget crying my eyes out every night there after my chemical pregnancy in 2011, and then the joy of returning with my three-month-old baby in 2012. 

I met the hurdle of singing ten new songs with an entirely new band for the first time. After fixing some key issues in the sound check, it went great. It was also great to see my sister and two cousins, who are the last vestiges of my north eastern heritage. We swore like sailors, bashed Trump and ate cake. It was awesome.

I had a terrible moment on the airplane heading to Boston when I happened to glance at my phone and there was a (frantic looking) text and voicemail message from the kids' summer camp asking who was going to pick up Bobby. I'm not sure when these appeared - maybe as we were taking off? I still had two hours before landing and didn't know what to do. It was Bobby's field trip day, and despite my having walked the babysitter to the pick up location and introducing her to the counselors, there was some kind of mix up. I spent twenty horrid moments trying to figure out how to get wireless on the plane so I could FB message the BF who could then call the babysitter to see what happened. Turns out what happened was the bus had gotten back a little early (4:30 instead of 5:00); she picked him up at 4:50 and everything was fine. But ugh! Did that get my heart racing, imaging my kid sitting in a police station and the babysitter in a car accident or some such thing. 

It's so scary leaving kids behind, even when you trust the people left in charge. Every time I drop them off at camp or school or leave them with a sitter I just have to turn off that part of my brain that says "death", as all parents do. As they get older they can do more and more things and can, and should have, more freedom. But boy is it hard. Every time I pick them up, and we're all in the car together, I feel like I can breathe a little easier. Having kids really is like putting your heart on the outside of your body.



Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Girlfriends

Have I ever mentioned that I occasionally get a friend crush? My first was on Martha Plimpton who went to my performing arts middle school (along with a lot of other famous people). Although she was a couple of years ahead of me, she was always very kind to me, which is a rare thing at that age. At one point I wrote a poem about her, and was teased relentlessly about it. It was at that point that I realized it wasn't ok to express over-the-top emotions for our friends. I still struggle with this for a variety of reasons. But I'm working on it.

Back in April when I went to D.C. I had lunch with my old mommy & me friend and came away from it positively reeling, just being reminded of how awesome she is and how much I miss her, and understanding a little better why I spiraled into a bit of a depression when she left. 

A couple of weekends ago some girlfriends and I got together to shop at the string of reproduction vintage stores in Burbank, something I never do, and I found it utterly invigorating. It made my heart sing to talk about what's going on in our dance scene, in our personal lives, feminist issues, politics, with a group of smart, thoughtful women.

Then Sunday night the BF and I went to see The Specials at the Hollywood Bowl. We were both big mod/ska people when we were young, so it was a real walk down memory lane to see this band. When there we posted about it on FB, and a friend of his who was there saw the post and called him and we went to meet them at their seats. This was his best friend from his teenaged years who he hadn't seen in 30+ years. Watching them reunite was extremely touching. They both cried and kissed and hugged each other. The BF doesn't have many friends outside of work - he's pretty much integrated himself more into my vast dance friend circle - and I think it's something he's been really missing. It was lovely watching them reminisce and express how important they had been to each other and how much they missed each other. 

With his friend and his girlfriend was another couple from the old days. The woman reminded me a lot of myself - mid-40s, two small children, tough and smart, with a somewhat wild teenaged background. She had been a skinhead girl (one of the good, non-racist ones - I always loved those girls because they were such bad asses). She and I hit it off like a house on fire. Within minutes we were telling each other our life stories and exchanging extremely deep insights about raising little kids and what the future holds for them, etc. I kind of fell in love with her a little bit. She lives in San Francisco, so as we were all saying our goodbyes, we held each others' hands and I said, "I wish you didn't live so far away!" and felt genuine anguish when I said it. She looked in my eyes and said, "you know what? This was meant to happen. I know we'll see each other again." Omg! Like, totally.

Close friendships don't come around much when you're an adult. The sheer volume of work it takes to maintain a friendship is too much for most people. When I think about the five or six women friends I consider my "close friends", the reality is we only get together maybe once every few months. Everyone lives so far away, everyone has families and intense careers and making the time to get together is just rough. We do come together for dance events, thankfully, but it makes me sad that we don't see each other more. Maybe I need to work on that. 

Or I could just stalk the woman I met at the concert on FB a little bit. Or write a poem about her. This time I won't read it in front of my class, though.

 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Graduation

Bobby graduated from preschool yesterday. As often happens with very emotional moments, I opted to become all business and look at the day as work and obligation so I wouldn't have to feel my feelings. I'm going to wear this and cook this and we're going to do this and then this. I did not burst into tears. I did not speak to any of the other parents and compare notes on our children ending an important part of their early development. I did not give heart felt thank yous to their teachers (I did hug one though). I did hug my child and tell him I loved him and was proud of him. So I managed that. 

Here is a picture of Bobby in his graduation garb and me not feeling my feelings:



We had a long, busy day after that. I managed to get them to bed early, and today we started our summer schedule in which every day is different. 

I got the kids up two hours earlier than usual and did an abbreviated morning and shuffled them off to their rec center summer camps. As I had suspected, the place was pretty much chaotic - there was zero communication going in, and when we got there nobody seemed to know what was going on. Theo seems to be the only little kid - there is supposed to be a 3-5 year old camp, but he was the only one, so he was with the big kids. The good news is this means he gets to be with Bobby, which made me feel a little better. Theo only gets to attend 9-12 (Bobby is full days), so I was a bundle of nerves in the couple of hours as I sat at home waiting to move Theo from this place to his other, afternoon preschool. There were only a handful of kids there (I'd say maybe eight?) and they were all bigger than B & T. I was terrified they wouldn't be able to use the bathrooms alone (especially Theo, who still poops multiple times a day and is new to using the potty in general). 

But when I got there to pick up Theo they both seemed to be doing just fine - Theo said he pooped on the potty and wiped himself (horrors, but good I guess), Bobby came over and gave me a hug, and it was all good. Are we ok? Can we stay at this place all summer? I don't know. I'm making contingency plans in my head anyway - maybe Theo can just do full days at his current preschool, maybe Bobby can move to the YMCA camp I had my eye on before (even though it's twice the price). And in the end it's only eight weeks. It's a placeholder for the summer. And I made the decision months ago to utilize this place because a) it's incredibly cheap, b) it's two minutes away - I could even walk there, c) this allows me the most free time I can get during the summer before my event when I need it the most, d) the boys can be together, and e) Bobby can maybe meet some kids that will be at his new school. And if the place works out it will be ideal for after school. 

 

Tomorrow I am having the trees trimmed and meeting with a kitchen designer. I constantly fantasize about renovating my kitchen - it's the one room in the house I haven't touched since I moved in, and it's getting pretty junky and run down. I will probably make more money this year than I will again for a long time, so I kind of feel like I need to go for it, as much as the expense terrifies me and also not having a working kitchen for nearly (or more than) two months. The kitchen designer (mother of a dance friend) told me on the phone that you "can't even touch a kitchen for less than $50,000." Gulp. Well, the idea is for her to help me clarify what I want and what can actually be done in this small space, and then if I feel like I can afford it, do the actual job at the end of the year. Gulp, again. 

In the meantime, here's keeping fingers crossed that Bobby had a good day at his camp and feels ok about returning, and that we can all weather this big transition without too many bumps in the road. Here is Bobby's first and last days at preschool. My life was dramatically different when Bobby started in June of 2014 - I had a new baby, I was broke AF and single. Three years later and I'm in a live-in relationship with a good man, I have two kids who can use the potty and one that's entering public school in two months, and am finally making decent money after twenty years in business. My how things change!

 
 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Final preschool days

Bobby has two days left of preschool. I don't think he fully realizes this, even though I've been talking to him about it for months. Maybe it will hit him Monday when we go to his summer camp instead of school? This will be his first big life shift - he's been going to this school for either preschool or their weekend/evening program since he was three months old. He can still go for weekends - but his preschool days are officially over.

I am both excited for him and sad. And so it goes.

I visited their summer camp today. Bobby will be there full days but Theo only mornings, four days a week. This will buy me thirteen more hours child-free every week than I have now. Boy can I use those hours! With my event looming three months away, I desperately need the work time. I am very nervous about how this new facility is going to work out. The whole presentation is pretty vague and flaky...but so many neighborhood moms raved about it, it's got to be ok...right??

In the meantime, Bobby rediscovered his little baby carrier the other day. I love that he and Theo are so loving and nurturing to younger kids and babies - I hope this feminist mama has managed to teach them something!

 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Memorial Day

...and just like that, long weekends are no longer the exhausting marathon they once were. I got through this Memorial Day feeling good and not wanting to disappear into a dark quiet room. Life just gets so much easier when diapers are off the table, kids actually like to walk, and can feed themselves. Although I'll let you know for sure after the marathon that is July 4th!

We went to a birthday party of one of Bobby's schoolmates on Saturday. It was the first time I'd actually met most of these parents. It saddens me that I never took the time to pursue friendships there...but that's just another thing I should probably give myself a pass on. Having kids this age is hard. Doing the work to connect and foster relationships with these kids' parents...especially when we'll all be moving on from this place after only a couple of years...well, it doesn't seem like a good use of my mental energy. I'll be saving that for their parent-intensive elementary school. Which starts in two and a half months!

Sunday I indulged in my favorite pastime - pretending to live in another era. Every Memorial Day weekend a local historical house opens up for a Summer Whites Picnic in which people are invited to dress any "vintage" era, preferably in white, to enjoy the day. This weekend's edition was Picnic at Hanging Rock Cosplay. I wore an Edwardian dress I got on Etsy and let a new mom friend of mine borrow my 1930's nursing dress and we had a grand time. 

 

Then Monday we went to crazy Venice Beach and the boys splashed around despite the cold and my not having brought swim wear or towels. I'll have to start keeping a set of swim trunks in the diaper bag (though I guess I should stop calling it that, now that there are no more diapers in it, woo hoo!).


In just a week and a half Bobby graduates preschool and the boys start their summer camps. Fingers crossed that they like it and it works for all of us. I'm seriously going to miss our years of sleeping in.  

Monday, May 15, 2017

Time Wounds All Heels

In case you didn't notice, Sunday was Mother's Day. Guess what? It didn't suck for me this year. I was actually able to look at the endless sentimental Facebook posts - mostly adults praising their elderly mothers - and think it was sweet and nice and not get sent into a rage/sadness/jealousy/self-pity downward spiral. 

I'm not sure what the difference was, except the passage of time. It seems like an eternity since my mother re-surfaced, swearing off our old religion and promising to return to the US and start over, only to disappear as soon as my sister refused to financially support her. I remember having an overwhelming urge to break everything in the kitchen, but I'll be darned if I can remember if that was last year or the year before. It's all lost in a miasma of dance world drama, election nightmares and children's tantrums. Time wounds all heels, eh?

The Boyfriend asked what I wanted to do and I asked for a chill day in nature not involving crowded restaurants. He woke me up with flowers and breakfast and an ice cream maker (my request), then we went to the beach to fly kites, came home and had some family time in the hot tub. The day was very enjoyable. Having another adult to look out for things like that for you definitely helps. 

I had an odd moment in Korea. Our final night we did several encores, which are almost always instrumentals. Since it was such a hit last year, though, we threw in a vocal for me, "Georgia On My Mind". As I walked up to the mic, the crowd inhaled and grasped their hands together with anticipation. This is always a little terrifying to me because it's rare that people pay attention - we always play for dancers who could care less if I'm singing or not as long as the beat is good. I naturally shy away from attention - I can only be in this band because the guitar player is really the star, not me. But at that moment I told myself, "it's ok for it to be about you, now." As the child of a narcissist I really struggle with that. Even as I thought it, I felt myself denying it. No, it's not ok for it to be about me, ever. And yet, you get up on stage to sing, or run an event, or Mother's Day rolls around, and you have to let it be about you. Just once. And you have to learn how to be ok with that. 

So I sang my song and everyone cried and applauded and I was gracious as I died a little bit inside, and the children gave me hugs and "I love you"s and cute preschool presents and I was gracious as I died a little bit inside, and it was ok. And next year will be even better. 

 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Korea & things

It's always bizarre to me that you can wake up on one side of the world and go to bed on another. It has the result of making you feel like the trip itself was just a figment of your imagination. That's how I feel right now. I had this crazy dream that I was a singer in a swing band and was flown to Korea to play for a bunch of Lindy Hoppers, treated to incredible food and spoiled rotten by Korean hospitality. Then I woke up and had to strip off two little boys' pee-filled pull ups while they climbed all over me. 

The boys did fine while I was gone - thankfully Theo's potty training stayed on track (he is out of diapers entirely during the day now) and they seem to have had a good time with the nanny. Thank god for the caretakers. I don't know what we'd do without them!


 
 
Here are the boys modeling shirts I bought for them on the trip - a rare occurrence of clothing that can only be bought in Korea! They are the envy of all my dance parent friends!

 

Monday, May 1, 2017

May

Today I had the unsettling experience of discovering my flight to Korea that I thought left late Wednesday night in fact leaves late tomorrow night. Thank God I randomly mentioned my trip on Facebook and my bandleader happened to see the post and tell me I was a day off. Good Lord. All day I've had that "I almost fell off a cliff feeling", imagining lying in bed tomorrow night and getting a frantic text at 1 AM saying the flight is about to take off, where the hell am I? I shudder just thinking about it. The mistake was made because for all my trips I use an app called Trip Case in which you type your flight number, airline, and departure date - which I got wrong because the flight leaves at 1 AM - and normally the app would catch the mistake, but apparently this airline has the same flight leaving at the same time with the same fucking flight number every night. What.The.Fuck. 

Anyway, no harm, no foul - the babysitter can come a day early, I rearranged everything so I could do all the elaborate packing, laundry and grocery shopping today, and off I go tomorrow night. 

I also got Bobby squared away at a local Parks & Rec summer camp today and will try to arrange for Theo to attend their little kids' morning camp tomorrow. Our summer schedule is going to be a bit of a jigsaw puzzle, but I'll be paying a lot less than I'm paying now with two kids in preschool, and I'll get kid-free time for at least a couple of hours every day instead of just three days a week as I do right now. I so hope the kids like this program. I know almost nothing about it except that a lot of neighborhood kids (read: Bobby's future schoolmates) go there and that it's cheap. Worse comes to worst, it's only two months out of our lives. 

Bobby has just six weeks left of preschool. It's hard to believe that phase of our lives is coming to a close, but here we are. Mostly I'm psyched to move on to the next thing - and of course Theo still has two years to go - but I know I'm going to lose it at Bobby's graduation in June.

 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Science is real

Science is real. Indeed, without science my children would be impossible. The odds of my procreating with anyone - much less a skinny red headed student fifteen years my junior - were slim to none. And yet, science and progressive thought - why can't men donate their sperm so that people can anonymously conceive? - made my family possible. For that I am truly grateful. It's not hard to imagine, in the current political environment, a time in which vials of sperm are only allowed for heterosexual married couples. 

Wednesday I take B up to his new school to be properly registered (I had a mountain of paperwork to fill out, dental and doctor check ups, and fishing out birth certificates and proof of address to do first); hopefully I'll get them both settled in their summer programs before I leave for Korea next week (a reprise of last year's wonderful singing gig in Seoul). 

My friends that wanted us to join them at a Swing camp in Sweden this summer have flaked out as I half suspected they might; I took the liberty of booking a Hawaii trip similar to last years' for my birthday in July. This time it'll be Kauai and with the BF. Hopefully I can fix my Kauai Curse - the first trip that my aunt died during; the second with a new baby and toddler that was so stressful I had to cut it short and come home. As long as the BF and I manage to not break up right before it like we did last time-! We had a good laugh about that. 

I survived a chaotic birthday party of the class bully and his Trump supporting parents at the local Chuck E Cheese. God that place is awful. But at least with all the distraction of trying to help a five year old play complex arcade games I didn't get to - or have to - interact with any of the parents. It's kind of a drag we got through one child's entire preschool experience without ever getting to know anyone, but oh well. The elementary school is very parent involvement heavy, so I see that trend reversing in the near future! 

 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Yard egg hunt 2.0

Yesterday I participated in the "show us your taxes" anti-Trump march. Here is the sign the BF made for me: 


As with all marches, it was awesome. Next week is the science march. I wish I could do this every weekend. Every. Frickin. Weekend.

Unfortunately after a cold, a Friday night shouting over a loud band (our drummer's solo project), and marching Saturday and talking and shouting, I have now completely lost my voice. Have you ever tried to be a parent to two small children with no voice? It fucking sucks. Still, we survived another yard egg hunt and a long day at a national park with some aplomb. Now I would like to collapse in a pile of peanut butter cups, s'il vous plait.

 


 
 
 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Big boys

A delightful development has happened since the time change - every day after school (we get home at 6 PM), the boys insist on playing outside until dinner. It's something I always dreamed about - children frolicking in the yard, me pushing open a screen door to yell, "dinner!" and children scampering in to wash up and devour. Yes, that moment is here. I have two boys who can talk, play, and (kind of) use the potty on their own accord (after weeks of accidents, yesterday Theo started using the potty on his own without prompting).

The yard playing is not without peril. The front yard is on a steep slope and full of pointy cacti and succulents; we live on a busy street with a seemingly endless stream of homeless sauntering by to pick through our garbage. There are sharp drops into concrete stairs. The back is no better - a dirty strip of concrete next to a very climbable wall next to a pool. In short, my yards are pretty much the most non-kid friendly imaginable. However, so far so good (except that one time the kids pushed furniture up to the wall and played around the pool after I told them not to - let's just pretend that never happened). Being hyper vigilant, every time they're out there I run and check on them every two seconds. I might even re purpose my baby monitor to keep an eye on them more effectively. But, they love it, it's good for them to have little adventures in nature (or yard is teeming with native plants, humming birds, lizards, citrus fruits and trees), and I feel like this is one of those times I need to give them a little freedom. And it doesn't hurt that them expelling energy outside is way better than inside.

I performed in DC this weekend, the same event that marked my return to "the road" this time last year. I had a lot of anxiety around it - intimidating ballroom, big crowd, singing with our big band which I rarely do, new songs, one song with a scary high note that could have gone either way. But I got through it, met up with a blog reader friend one day and my old mommy & me friend who moved away two years ago on the next day. Damn, I miss her. She was my compatriot from when Bobby was just a baby, providing solace and commiseration and support and friendship when I needed it most. And she's really fucking cool. Sigh. Well, at least if we keep this gig going I'll get to see both of these ladies once a year!

 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Joint birthday in the bag

We celebrated Bobby and Theo's joint 3rd and 5th birthdays on Saturday. I'm not sure how much longer I can get away with joint birthdays - but boy is it convenient! I used the same indoor play space as last year, which meant a quick in and out with minimal effort other than making the cake (which this year I made from scratch using a 1930s devil's food cake recipe) and assembling the goody bags. Bobby requested a Nightmare Before Christmas theme which was a huge hit among my artsy friends' kids.

 

My sister came to visit for a few days. The boys were so excited about her visiting and the party that it was a bit like having two Tasmanian devils in the house all weekend. After we dropped her off at the airport they were a mess of torturing each other in the car - stealing toys from their car seats, crying, screaming. It was awful. Finally taking Theo to school he broke down in sobs, and I asked if he was sad because his aunt went home, and he pitifully nodded yes as tears rolled down his cheeks. Oh, these little kids. It's so easy to forget that they can't regulate their emotions yet. In my better moments I remember this and am kind and gentle; in my worse moments I bark at them to stop driving me crazy. Sigh. And so it goes. 

In other news, despite my decision not to invite any preschool friends to the party, Bobby has received an invitation...from his "frenemy", the class bully who's parents voted for Trump. What to do? Do I really want to spend the day in the presence of these a-holes and their rotten kid? No, but I must, because it's not about me, it's about Bobby, and he wants to go, and so we will. Can't say I won't wear my Uppity Women Unite pin, though.