Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mom's Words of Wisdom, Vol. 37

"Those pants don't make you look fat, honey, fat makes you look fat."

Daughter's corollary:  There are exceptions.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Christopher Columbus

Alas, poor Christopher's star has fallen.  Once the hero of the western world, he is now disparaged the world over.

Recently, my 9 year old son was telling me about how they no longer celebrate Christopher Columbus at school because, I don't remember why, something about him being a horrible person.  Today, I heard him described, to a group of first graders, as "mean and bossy."  Mean and bossy?  This person told the kids that they wouldn't learn about Columbus today, but instead they would learn about Leif Erikson.  Leif Erikson is known to have reached the new world long before Columbus, and there may probably have been others.

Captain Erikson was the son of Erik the Red.  Erik the Red was a Viking banished from both Norway and Iceland...presumably not because he was a nice guy and well liked.  Perhaps he was bossy and mean?  Actually, in the case of Iceland, he was banished for three years for killing a man at The Thing.  But I digress....  I don't know how you can be a sea captain, in charge of an entire crew of Vikings and not be at least a little bossy and mean.  So I'm imagining that Columbus and Erikson possibly had some things in common.  Yet Erikson is celebrated, and Columbus not.  As far as I can see, the only difference is that the Indians managed to kill all the Vikings that remained, and the same fate was not shared by the Spanish.  Leif Erikson even brought a Christian priest to Greenland.  It is possible, nay probable, that the Vikings would not likely have colonized the continent and attempted to convert the Indians.  But it is important to consider the effect that the Norsemen had on England, France and the rest of Northern Europe, the quiet inhabitants of which were terrified of Vikings.

It's true that the actions of Columbus wreaked havoc on the people living where he landed.  On the other hand, is he alone personally responsible?  If it hadn't been him, it would have been someone else.  Does the fact that Europeans brought war and disease to America mean that Columbus was not brave?  That he was not a good sailor, captain, negotiator, navigator, and all the rest?  For a man of the time, he was both a hero and a controversial figure.  His views of the "Indians" (am I allowed to call them Indians??) were not unusual.  It seems unfair to vilify him personally for all the atrocity and destruction, particularly when Spanish society was so different at the time than American society is now.  According to Wikipedia, "Columbus himself was responsible for the deaths of millions of Native Americans (estimates range between 1 and 3 million) in the first 15 years of his colonization of the Caribbean[2][3], including entire peoples such as the Taino[4] and the Arawak[5], and was the founder of the practice of slavery in the Americas.[6]"  That just seems like so much work for one man to accomplish alone.  And I doubt very much that the "Indians" hadn't had the idea of slavery all on their own.  The Indians were not always sweet and innocent themselves, and Columbus did certainly not invent slavery.

In Sacramento, there was a movement to remove John Sutter's name from a bunch of public items, due to judgements about his character.  Does being a misogynist mean that you did not found a fort and city and find gold?  It makes you a guy who hates women.  It's important to remember that at that time, women were considered inferior by much of the population, not just John Sutter.  The fact that people felt that way does not make it acceptable, but it does make his alleged actions and personality more understandable.  A person's character is his character, his actions are his actions.  If you teach history, teach the whole thing.

I hear rumors that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a "womanizer," yet we celebrate him for all the wonderful things he accomplished for our society during his life.  No one is perfect.  People are round and deep and complex and amazing creatures, inconsistent and undependable.

Is it fair to reverse the tales of people years or centuries after their lives?  It seems to me to be better to consider each individual in the context of their society and time.  The North Atlantic is a trial that would be difficult for anyone, no matter who they are.  To survive and be noticed after the dusty centuries is itself a feat.  If you could cross it today in a wooden ship, you would have at least respect from me, even if you are a complete jerk.  Would it not be better, in fact more useful, to consider the context of events and learn from it, rather than strip our once-heroes of their acclaim?

Leif Erikson day is October 9, the day in 1925 of the first organized immigration to the United States from Norway.  Columbus Day is October 12, in commemoration of his first landing in San Salvador.  this date is also remembered as Dia de la Raza, Indigenous Peoples Day, Discovery Day, Fiesta Nacional and Dia de las Culturas in various countries.  I would be fine with dropping Columbus Day as an important national holiday.  I am also in favor of Indigenous Peoples Day.  But this reversal to actively teaching children to hate Columbus seems a little much.  If you don't like him, just don't talk about him anymore.

Friday, October 2, 2009


I yell.  I admit it.  It's a bad habit, and I try not to do it.  But somehow, it just seems like no one can hear me.  I get this idea like, surely, if they could only hear me, they would be doing what I asked.  Right?  Perhaps they wouldn't constantly ask me to repeat myself.  So I'll just say it a little louder and then they'll hear and follow my instructions. 

Not so.

They could hear me, but they are not listening.  I don't know how to get them to listen, but I discovered soemthing this week.

I have been sick for about a week with a chest cold.  I can talk, but my voice is quiet, and I can't yell at all.  I don't have the voice, the chest or frankly the energy to yell at my kids.  And you know what?  They can't hear me.  They can't hear me at all when I speak in a regular tone of voice.

"Mommmm!  Mommm?" 

I am answering...from downstairs...in a regular voice.  "What?"  They can't hear me.  Not at all.

"Quit it.  I mean it.  Quit hitting your sister.  Quit biting your brother.  Stop that.  Put that down.  I said quit."  But notice no all-caps, no boldface, no !!!!!'s, for Goodness sake.  They can't hear me at all.

I am going through this week with a keyboard without any [ctrl][b].

And it's funny, kindof.  In a way, I have sort of absorbed this idea that I don't have to yell.  Heck, I can't.  They can't hear me?  Too bad.  My warnings go unheeded?  Too bad for you.  My information goes unlearned?  Wish you'd known that, hunh?  They can't hear my responses, my advice, my instructions, my scolding.  Okay, they're probably ahead on that last one.  But I've stopped trying to yell, because it takes too much energy.  I begin to wonder what if I conserved all that energy all the time?  Maybe I could just go through life without yelling.  But nothing is going right.  We live together as social creatures, and we really do need to communicate with each other.  And they aren't hearing me.

So what's a quiet mother to do?  I've been pondering the yelling.  This bad habit that I've been trying to kick.  But all week, I haven't been able to help, discipline or advise my children.  There is no information whatsoever going from me to them.  I can hear their questions, but they can't hear my responses.  I did manage to read them a story, but had to repeat part because they couldn't hear me over their jostling in the bed.  I couldn't ask them about their school day in the car, because they couldn't hear me over the engine and window noise.  I'd like to stop yelling, but communication needs to go both ways.

I guess I'll just have to start yelling again.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Are you really a SAHMMY?

Are you really a stay at home mom? You know, a housewife?

I'm always in job denial. I say I don't work. You know, like, as if? Even when I don't have what I refer to as a j-o-b, there is the undeniable fact that every mother is a working mother.

Add to that this crazy ebay undertaking I've done, mostly as a hobby and random spending cash maker, and I'm full-time employed, baby. It's low pay, but it's $ for all those little things that you really need money for: sports for the kids, coffee, ice cream on an afternoon downtown, splurge on a nice car wash. But here I am with this huge project, limited time, and I've started really evaluating my priorities. The house is a mess, the kids are abandoned...what's a girl to do? I said I'd do this job, and I really don't mind it. What I DO mind is the piles of laundry and dishes that aren't getting done. Heck, I'd much rather make pretty pictures and write html than clean...or would I?

The other morning I had a dream. In this dream, I received a diagnosis that I had an illness and would die within six months. I immediately packed all the boxes of for-sale things up and shipped them all back. My house, and my calendar was empty - ready for all those things that I always wanted to do as a mom: cooking, cleaning, volunteering at the school library, PTA, baking cookies, helping with homework. I set about industriously trying to do anything I could to leave some love behind for my kids, knowing it wouldn't be enough, but feeling that at least my priorities are in order.

Sometimes I've relied on that money from my odd computer jobs. It's come in really handy when I thought a check might bounce, or I didn't have enough for gas for a trip, or groceries for a dinner party. Little extravagances that are sortof necessary, especially once you've decided to have them. Like inviting people over and only later realizing that you have to go to the store to buy food for dinner! School field trips, sports, brie, wine. It's nice to know that if I overspend just a little, I can cover it with that little entertainment fund. It's not exactly income, but it makes my life easier, nicer.

At what point is it no longer worth it? This work is supposed to be seasonal, just a couplea weeks and then it's over. Take a few bucks and sock it away for Christmas presents. When you suddenly realize you have a full-time job, how do you get out of it? Should you? I've committed to doing this job, and I'm going to finish it. I actually enjoy it - but just don't want quite so much of it. I don't necessarily want unemployment, I want underemployment.

I truly believe that every family needs one person to stay home and take care of all the loose ends. Make sure everything gets mailed, picked up, dry cleaned, purchased, cleaned, tidied, watered, harvested, arranged, hugged, planned, made, seen and washed. Doesn't matter which family member it is, or if it's hired help. But someone has to take care of all that stuff! I always wanted it to be me, and I'm not that bad at it. BUT, it's easy to think that you're unemployed, when really, you're a working mom. I used to like to say that I don't work for pay. But these days, I guess I do.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Drive In

Ever been to a drive-in movie? Used to be I wouldn't even have to ask that question. Who hasn't? Well, turns out lots of people. I hadn't seen one since grade school. They are some sort of relic, usually abandoned swathes of corrugated asphalt by the side of the freeway. But not in San Luis Obispo!

We have a running drive-in here, and I'm glad to say that we took a chance and went to see a movie this past weekend. If you have one in your town, GO, while the weather is good. We parked next to a friend, and for $16, our family of four was treated to a double feature. The house was nearly full, with families and friends sitting in the backs of open minivans or pickup trucks. We packed in a 6-pack of beer and some chips for the kids and bought popcorn from the snack bar at the theater.

When I was in high school, we used to have our keg parties out at a place called West Lane. It was an abandoned drive-in, just outside of town. A perfect place to gather and drink, socialize and do powerbrakes and donuts in our cars. The parking lot was a forest of radioless metal bars at the edge of the of our headlights' glow, with tall weeds growing through the cracks in the pavement. The ticket booth was a ghost of happier, busier times, and the snack bar building was a burned-out, paneless cinderblock box full of old mattresses and the remnants of campfires and God knows what else.

Not so at the Sunset. The parking lot was filled with neat rows of cars. The square building in the center was plain, to be sure, but when the doors were rolled open, it was a modern, brightly lit snack bar, filled with lit movie posters and the smell of buttery popcorn. The staff was cheerful, the candy was stocked, and the bathrooms were modern, clean and comfortable. I was astonished, but why should I be? Just the amazing contrast between this place and the abandoned one, I suppose. This place was alive!

Check your local paper, the link below or Google and find yourself a drive-in movie to go and see. Take a chance - it's a fun, cheap and nostalgic way to spend an evening.

Drive-In Theater

Friday, August 14, 2009

Soccer and Insurance

I recently played a soccer tournament in an over-30 division. My regular team played in the over-40 division, and being under 40, I joined another team for the weekend.

I used to be just a little nervous, playing soccer without medical insurance. Two women on my team both broke their ankles just a few years ago, and indoor soccer (which I was playing 2 days a week) is particularly notorious for such injuries. The older we get, the more likely, I suppose, it is that we'll be injured.

Right at the end of the first half of our third game...there was a crash between our 170 lb goalie and their 125 lb forward. Crack. We heard it up in the front half, yards away. We assumed it was shin guard crack. It wasn't. The two women both kicked for the ball at the same time, both missing and kicking each other's lower legs. The smaller women suffered a fracture through both her lower leg bones. They were sticking out the back of her leg. Yikes! She didn't even get up until the paramedics got there. Being a nurse, I guess she knew what she was in for. That's when I realized again that I really don't have any medical insurance.

Truth is, I thought that I could just go and make an appointment and get my annual and pap smear. No biggie, not that expensive. I can afford it. I'll just pay cash. Then I came to another realization: what if that pap smear comes back abnormal? Even if it's just a little abnormal, or it's even a mistake or a false-positive. I'll never get insurance for the rest of my life. THAT'S what's wrong with the insurance system. Besides it being a con, I mean. People's lives revolve around whether or not they can get health insurance. And once you don't have it, it's hard to get it. So I didn't go to the doctor. Not because I didn't have a doctor, not because they wouldn't see me, not because I couldn't afford it. I didn't go because I was afraid of what would happen if I did go and something unusual turned up. Plain and simple. I didn't go to the doctor because of the future of my insurability. And THAT'S what's wrong with our medical system. I can't be the only one. I finally understand what they mean about how our insurance system is making us sick. People can't go to the doctor even if they can afford it.

If you watch news programs and political debates, you will notice something interesting. They use the terms "health insurance" and "health care" interchangeably. It's like somewere along the line we came up with the following equation:


This is both a mathematical fallacy and a medical one. One does not in any way equal, encourage or guarantee the other, in either direction. One guy is a doctor, one guy is a paper pusher. Insurance will not cure you. Insurance should have nothing at all to do with care.

I had insurance once. It was weird. I've been uninsured most of my life, except the brief time as a child when I had MediCal and the time I worked for a large winery. Probably 8 or 10 years of my whole life.

So you can have medical insurance and not be able to get medical care. You can end up not getting medical care because you don't have medical insurance (regardless of whether or not you can afford to pay for the care).

I have never been able to figure out how anyone got the idea in the first place that an insurance company or ESPECIALLY a hospital could be a for-profit enterprise. Insurance is supposed to work in a community sense, where everyone pays in to a pot, and then when someone needs the $ for an emergency, it pays out to help them. It used to be called community. Fine, let the employees and administrators take a nice living out. Cost of business. No problem. But profit? INVESTMENT, for God's sake? How can insurance of any kind be a financial investment to mature and sell and make money on? That's the craziest thing I've ever heard. It's especially disgusting to see a hospital be for-profit, and I can't imagine how that ever happened. The insurance thing is more understandable, but it seems to be in this unique position.

It's the only business where you can take people's money with no intention whatsoever of ever giving them the product or service they paid for. In any other business, that would be a con, a theft. In insurance, it's the accepted way of doing business. How is this possible?

Alternately, in a somewhat-free economy, why hasn't a "fair" insurance company come up? Someone who takes your premiums, puts the money in a pot, and then pays when someone gets sick? Why isn't there an insurance company that does that? I dont' mean paying for immunizations & pap smears. That stuff is regular, planned and can be budgeted for - IF anyone can tell you how much it actually will cost. I can pay the $105 for the DTaP, and I can pay the $149 or whatever for the pelvic exam. It's like buying groceries, just less often. But just try and ask them how much it is - they have NO IDEA. I've paid cash at the doctor's office, only to receive a bill later explaining that I didn't pay for some part of the visit. What the hell? Why can't these people just get a menu? What if a doctor had a list of services, with prices, and everyone just paid for it? The doctor would get paid on time (imagine that!) and you'd get seen. And you wouldn't be getting a bill 18 months later for service #875623 that no one still living has any idea what it was for, but it's $89. The way I see it, if you can't bill me within A YEAR, I don't have to pay you.

Insurance shouldn't cover the little nitpicky everyday things that you know are going to come up. It should cover emergencies. Knocked out teeth, car crash, cancer. These are the things you don't see coming and couldn't afford in any universe anyway.

If our insurance system wasn't so fucked up, I imagine a "fair" insurance company might be able to do business. There are at least 2 tiers of people employed doing nothing but figuring out the stupid forms. True, those people would be unemployed. I'd like to think that they would be free to do a worthwhile job, like firefighter, mother or teacher. At least pick up trash on the highway. Something useful. If they didn't have forms you couldn't understand, they wouldn't have to pay people to do the double data entry, and then health insurance could cost less. If health insurance cost less, then possibly medical care could cost less, because doctors would get paid on time, and in the amount that they charge. If insurance companies just simply paid for the things they said they'd pay for, then the cost of actual care could be more reasonable, because doctors wouldn't have to overcharge the insurance company, who will bargain them down to a lower price, which is still high to cover all the uninsured people that skip out without paying. Did that make any sense? No? Why am I not surprised?

I gave birth to my daughter in a hospital that has this great plan. If you would just simply pay them in cash within 30 days, you get 30% off your total bill. Simple, easy, to the point. I'll bet they even know how much things cost. When I was pregnant, we did some simple math: the cost of HealthNet for the 9 months of pregnancy and postnatal was exactly the same as the cost of paying cash for our prenatal, birth and postnatal care. Exactly the same. If I just paid for the services, I'd get 30% off, so it was actually cheaper to go into the hospital without insurance than it would be to buy insurance. Crazy? Not necessarily. Since insurance is ostensibly for emergencies (c-section, for example), we chose the insurance, since it would cover an emergency that we hadn't planned for. But still, the math that the cost of insurance=the cost of medical care was an interesting revelation. But since the insurance company makes a profit, the cost of insurance must necessarily be more than the cost of medical care. So somewhere, someone is not getting paid or someone is paying more for insurance than they would for care. That's even fine if we are all pooling our resources to make sure that everyone has a doctor when they have an emergency. I just have a problem with the huge profit.

So we decided we needed insurance, because you never know. We won't be young forever, and Caius rides a skateboard. So Lyn goes online to see if he can buy us some insurance. He can't figure out the application, so he sends me to find a local agent, where we could meet them, and maybe they'd help us. So I called and talked with a nice lady who said she'd get a quote and call me back. A week went by, and then I decided that I didn't really want to do business with someone who didn't call me back. I mean, how helpful could she be? To be fair, maybe she wrote down my number wrong or something, but the whole thing was being so complicated, I just tried to pretend it doesn't exist. We can't afford it anyway.

So Lyn finally got online again and tried the application process again. We got the forms, and we're trying to fill them out. Honestly? I have NO IDEA when the last time any of us visited a doctor is, nor which doctor. My daughter's pediatrician didn't even show up when I googled him. I don't know their addresses, phone numbers. True, I could probably find them. It might take a week of work, but I could probably find them. Then I could probably call them, and find out the last time we were there. But they won't tell me what it was for, except if it's my own records. To their credit, Blue Cross had an 800 number, and someone answered and cheerfully helped me. She said to just make something up. If we leave it blank, we'll be denied, but if it's wrong, that's not necessarily a problem. Some of the other boxes I just didn't know. By some miracle, Lyn still had his insurance card from the last time we had insurance. It has some numbers on it, but nothing matched the titles of the boxes they wanted us to fill out. We put some numbers from the card into the boxes on the form. Honestly, none of the numbers on that card have ever matched any boxes on any form I've ever filled out. And what's a plan name? People have told us bunches of times that "Principal Financial Group" isn't an insurance company, but then WHY DOES IT SAY THAT ON THE CARD?? I was about to cry, but the lady on the phone was nice and helpful. Made me feel like it's ok if I don't really know. I probably have lots of papers around from doctors and things, but they don't say anything I understand. What's a 87354 anyway? Sore throat? Birth control? Who knows? We haven't seen any doctors in so long, I don't see why it's even relevant.

Just watch. I'm wondering if we'll be denied because our dates were wrong, then denied later because we were denied before. That's just the type of thing that would happen with medical insurance.


Hope I don't get sick.

Imaginative Play

I was sitting in my office yesterday, listening to the kids play. They were shooting, running, bombing things...fake-dying with groans of agony.All I could think of was, ah, it's great that the kids are actually playing for once.

Is that sad?

Thursday, July 23, 2009


It occurs to me the sex follows the law of supply and demand.

The less you have, the more desirable it is.

By that same token, a limited supply will increase the value.

It's difficult to get bored of something you don't see very often.

Is this the key to something?

That's the way it happened

We were all together.
Life was good, we were happy and well.

Some weren't as happy as others.
But we made it through.
Sometimes happy, sometimes bored, sometimes neither.

But some of us didn't make it.

Every day is tomorrow's history.
That's just the way it happened.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Nice Life

I'm having such a nice life.

I just wish it wouldn't go so fast.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


He saw the pretty little bird, flitting from branch to branch, and he was captivated. He wanted to possess it. She flew to him willingly and went with him.

But she was never quite as lovely in her cage. Never quite the same as when he captured her. She didn't mind, sitting there in her comfortable cage.

But sometimes she wondered what it would be like

to fly again.

(Special thanks for this photo to Mark Lukach of Haraka Baraka, http://harakabaraka.wordpress.com. He has a great blog - go check it out. )

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Cruel Shutter

The more time goes by, the more I realize that memory might not be all I think it is.

Memory is supposed to be a recording, sortof, of things that a person has experienced in the past. But memory it tricky. People remember smells and sounds better than sights or events. I have an excellent memory, but I have come to realize that I have "remembered" things that didn't happen. How can that be?

If it is a very old memory, usually it's the memory of a physical place. I like to walk in the houses of my childhood in my memory, and also in my dreams. Schools, paths, buildings, I walk in my mind's eye. I try to remember the little details: weeds growing along the train tracks, items on a table or desk. I try to perfectly reproduce a place in my mind. Of course, in a dream, the proportions, layout and other important details are often altered or even completely different altogether. Yet I know that place. I am rememorizing the places, perhaps, in an attemt to keep them.

So why should I be surprised that my memory of my own face should be any different? We live in what we know, not what we see. I first noticed this when taking a dance class a few years ago. At one point, I looked up and couldn't pick myself out of all the dancers in the mirror. I was for a moment confused, and then realized that it wasn't that I wasn't there, I simply didn't look as I expected myself to look. In this case, I was surprised and quite disappointed in what I saw there.

Age changes everyone. Everyone gets their own special set of "old" gifts. In the case above, what had changed was not only my size, but the way I moved. I was disappointed to find that I was not as graceful or muscular as I'd imagined. As my memory had led me to believe. Was I ever? Was the dancer I remembered from days-gone-by real or imagined?

There is a festival I attend every year in Davis, California, The Whole Earth Festival. It's been amazingly great some years, merely a way to pass the weekend in other years. But increasingly, it's become the time and place to meet old friends long lost. I never know what faces from the past I will see, but there are many I expect to find.

This past year, I saw an old friend who is usually there. He and I had recently become "friends" on Facebook. He remarked that he was very glad to see that I looked better than my profile picture. He recommended that I take it down, calling it "unflattering." He really didn't like that picture at all! In particular, it sounded like he thought it made me look fatter than I really am. I dunno, I think it makes me look exactly as fat as I am. In fact, I thought I looked pretty good that day. But it's a profile picture. It really shows the shape my face is becoming as I age. Our profiles change dramatically as our faces succumb to gravity.

My friend has known me since I was 15 years old. In his memory, I may still be 15. Though he has seen me many times since, and even fairly recently, perhaps he was disappointed that I had changed. I wasn't in any way insulted by his comment - in fact, it felt good to know that he remembered me better than that picture. He felt that, even as I stood there in front of him, I looked better than that picture.

A photograph is an instant in time. That split-second when the shutter opens and captures whatever is there for it to see. In motion, animated and alive, people are different than their pictures. In a painting, the artist may imbue the picture with feeling, color and shape that he imagines. The artist may paint the whole picture if he is skilled. But the shutter is cruel. It takes only a slice. Sometimes what we receive is a remarkably good slice. We can even make it better by manipulating the photograph afterward, if we wish. Sometimes, the slice we receive is a remarkably bad slice - even looking nothing like the subject. Or we perceive it as looking nothing like the subject.

For how can the camera lie?

Like our memory, it doesn't tell the whole story. It's only a slice, not the multilayered reality of that moment. People are living, moving, breathing things, and our shapes change as we pass in and out of moments.

I've noticed that, since I had children, most of the pictures are of them. Since I, like most mothers, am holding the camera, there are few pictures of me. Additionally, if the pictures are unflattering (as they increasingly are!), then I'm less tempted to put them where they will be seen, preferring to offer photographs of my darling children instead. Youth is nearly always beautiful.

But will mothers be erased? Will the record of our lives skip from college party to obituary? Should we hide the true selves that we are - old, flawed, overweight, grey? At what point did we decide that those things are too ugly to photograph? I have the ability to erase every wrinkle from every photo before I show it to anyone. But that isn't genuine. Shouldn't there be a record of our genuine selves? Or are we hoping that the memories of us will remain youthful and those who love us remember us as we were? Can we overcome our fear of seeing ourselves as we truly are?

Someone told me once that the older we get, the more important it is to have those people around us who remember us when we were young. We treasure our siblings, for our shared memories. We treasure our high school and college friends - for they remember us as we remember ourselves. Young, vibrant, smart, strong. My dear friend has also changed with time. But when I look at him, of course I see the younger version. He's a good-looking man, even the older version. But he looks different. Not the way I remember. I am grateful for his memory of me as better-looking than Medusa up there. ("Was it the hair?" I asked.)

Photographs don't lie. Memories do. But I like my memories. I live in my memories.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

My Broom

This is my broom.

With which I lovingly sweep the floor.

And on which I occasionally fly to town.

The handle is rough, and sometimes hurts my hands.

But I don't care.

It's what I use when I feel like I love my job. When I love keeping my house clean. I get a special joy out of making things tidy. You'd think, if that was the case, that I'd clean more often. Somehow, it never seems to happen that way. I like to clean when I want to. Not when I have to.

This broom was handmade, and it's beautiful. The loop on the top is made of leather. The bristles are made of broom. It is a natural object, naturally part of domestic life. The bristles are blue. A friend gave me a wrought iron hook he made. A handmade hook on which to hang my handmade broom. It's the little things that make life a joy. Noticing that hook and thinking that it was made by someone I know. Knowing that it's unique and perfect and completely different from any other. It's a perfect place to keep my broom.

When I sweep I think of all the women that have gone before me. Sweeping kitchens, hearths, porches. We must always sweep. Sweep aside the dust of past to make room for dust of future.

Name Change?

Okay. After further consideration, maybe we need to change the name of this ship. Any suggestions?

The Modern Housewife, Modern Housewife and Housewife are all taken. None of them have any posts, and they date from 2005 all the way back to 2001. No way to contact the blog owners, either. Eventually, Blogger will be cluttered up with thousands of inactive blogs, good intentions and project beginnings. Who knows, maybe even TMH will end up in that same blog graveyard.

Does this need a different name? Something more unique, perhaps? The Spotless Mind or something? Being named Sunshine offers some great possibilities. I always skip them over, assuming someone [not named Sunshine] has already used them.

Any suggestions?

Not Unique

A friend invited me to write for her blog. I was flattered. She'd read some of my Facebook posts and thought I might like to contribute. She has a wonderful blog, you should check it out: www.groundflower.com.

But then I realized that most of my content is negative. Written out of frustration. So until the day that I can find something nice to contribute, I'll say nothing at all. Hence the "rant" part of this blog.

Okay, so the whole Modern Housewife thing is pretty played out. But what better way to describe the purpose and content of this blog? Once, when I was around 20-22 or something, a friend asked me, "what do you want to be when you grow up?"

"A housewife," I replied.

"What?!? This is the '90's! You can be anything you want!"

Um. ?

That's what I was thinking. Anything I want. Not anything you think I should be. Lord knows, I can't even execute what I want, much less what you want me to be. I'm doin' the best I can here. Never perfect, rarely good, but often adequate. So far, everyone's still safe & healthy. That's just about all you can ask for, anyway.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Summer Activities

Seriously. I awoke this morning at 10 a.m. (ahh...) Slept poorly (too much wine?), awakened again at 5:30 a.m. by an earthquake shaking the SHIT out of my metal staircase. Boy was that freaky. I didn't feel the ground move at all, just that damn staircase squeaking. I was sure there was someone in my house!!

But when I finally got up, I was optimistic that today was going to be a great day. I had fun activities planned for the kids, and we were going to have a good time. Mom time is in limited supply, believe it or not, so I was really looking forward to giving them my full attention.

First, we went to a play. $42, and they didn't like it. The Jungle Book. What's not to like? Daughter crawled all over my lap the whole time and hung on me after, stepping on my feet and pulling my skirt down, so that I couldn't even have a 5 minute conversation with my friend who brought us. :|

Then, Roller Derby. I was SURE the kids would love this. What's not to love about skatergirls rolling around and flying all over the place? Caius had a stomachache and Sonja was bored. I remembered drinks, I remembered sweatshirts, I remembered to feed them. We left early. * sigh * :|

Most fun I had today? a) finding out that the thing I mailed to my friend actually go there and she likes the jewelry set I fixed for her daughter for a wedding; b) finding out that we got paid for work we did, even if the wrong invoice got sent and was half the amount; c) creating a new homepage banner for my friend's online store. Probably A, but I'm still working on the banner, this time while drinking wine. It's nice to know that some people out there appreciate your work.

Had to close the door to my office. Too many kids whining for food after mealtime (I'm hungry...there's nothing left...) even though I fed them dinner on time for once. Look, if you don't eat it, it might not be there 2 hours later. Too many kids wanting "help". Nonspecific, just "I need help." Helps if you tell me WITH WHAT.

Even so, I'll bet the summer seems short when August rolls around.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Why don't I remember this stuff?

Is this deja vu? Does anyone else out there catch themselves doing this dumb stuff that you know you shouldn't fall for?

Long ago, I upgraded to Internet Explorer 7. I immediately figured out that my wysiwyg tools on two of the websites that I used regularly to update webstores for myself and a friend, didn't work in that browser. So then I had to figure out how to uninstall it and go back to version 6. Needless to say, none of the tech "support" people understood why I would want to do that. Even when I explained that the websites I use DON'T WORK with their browser.

A year has gone by (at least), and now I don't use those sites anymore, my store having closed and the other changed. So I thought, hey, what the heck? Mozilla keeps crashing, maybe it would be nice to have tabbed browsing after all.


I knew better. So day before yesterday I went to microsoft.com and downloaded v 7 again. It took 45 minutes to download and I had to reboot. Ok, fine. Whatever.

The next thing I tried to do was go somewhere and do something, and the whole computer immediately froze and I had to reboot. Again.

I can't view half the stuff, can't browse, it sticks all the time. At least Firefox has the courtesy to remember where you were and ask if you'd like your tabs back when you turn it back on.

I noticed there's a version 8 in there that I could've downloaded instead. Now I'm tempted, but seriously. Will I fall for it again?

If version 7 doesn't work, why should version 8? Anyone know where I can go back in time and get Internet Explorer version 6? You know what they say. If it ain't broke....

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Twilight Zone

I knew parenthood was strange right away.

But then one day, I heard my husband say, "Finish your ice cream. No getting up from the table until you've finished your ice cream."


Today's command? "You will put on your helmet and go outside and skate. Go now, or go to your room."

Hm. I can hear it now, "I hate my parents...they make me skateboard."



Sunday, May 17, 2009

Why do we kill what is ugly?

I was weeding my garden today, and I couldn’t help worrying that I might find another one.

Another potato bug.*

You see, I found a potato bug a few weeks ago. Inside my guesthouse. I’d gone out there to clean and make sure everything was stocked for some weekend visitors we were expecting. I got out the vacuum and started vacuuming up the hoardes of dead spiders. I don’t know why they were dead, but hey, you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. And then I saw it. It was nearly the same color as my speckled berber carpet…all shades of ivory & brown. Just sitting there, staring at me from the floor. What the HELL is that? I wondered. My heart was racing. I got a papertowl…no, three…it’s too big for just one papertowl. I approached the bug with the towels.

Are you serious? Are you seriously going to squish a 3 inch bug with just nothing but a paper towl?

I ran to the house to find something to trap it in, and settled on a sturdy Tupperware with a tight lid and a large piece of cardstock. And my camera. I ran back…and it was still just sitting there. Why the heck was it just sitting there? Didn’t it know that this was the end of it? It was very easy to catch and trap in the Tupperware. I put the lit on. Tightly. And hoped to God it couldn’t eat plastic with those mandibles…I mean, Jaws of Death.

I left the Bug outside on the porch, too afraid to bring it inside in the event of an escape. And anyway, who wants something like this inside her house?

I did what any sensible person would do: I sat down at my computer, with my Magic Internet, and tried to figure out what the heck it was. But where to start?

I am a member of several clothes trading/sewing loops on Yahoo, and they have a large membership, so I posted the picture to the loops and asked if anyone knew what one of these THINGS was. Lo, and Behold, it was not long before I got an answer. And several messages from well-wishers who didn’t blame me one bit for freaking out and one who gently suggested that it might be a good idea to abandon all my belongings and simply leave California for good. Today.

Right about the time that I sent the message, I had a memory from childhood that helped me figure out where to look. I remembered Girl Scout Camp at Oak Park in Stockton. Well, it didn’t used to be in Stockton, but it is now. Anyway, it was a weekend camp, and we all slept out under the stars. Three girls got “surprises” in their sleeping bags, including one who got a squirrel in hers and me. I received…a potato bug. Now, maybe it really wasn’t a potato bug, now that I know what one looks like, but here’s the way it went down. I got in my bag and pulled out my flashlight and turned it on. And THERE IT WAS, just sitting there, across the face of the light. So the light was shining through this giant bug that was straddling the light, illuminating all its guts and every body part. In this order, I screamed, threw the flashlight, jumped up, and started dancing & shaking all around, completely horrified and disgusted. Of course, our leaders didn’t like that one bit, and told me to calm down. “Calm down? Are you kidding? That thing had a face on it.”

And that was my clue, as you see, the bug in the guesthouse had a face on it. A cute, little round face with beady, black eyes. So I typed into Google: potato bug.

DO NOT EVER DO THIS if you are the least bit squeamish. Why? GOOGLE IMAGES, that’s why. My screen instantly lit up with well over a dozen close up images of this horrifying creature. Yup. That’s it. That’s the dingdang thing that’s in my damn guesthouse. I also found a video of a woman allowing one to crawl over her hand and lower arm. ARRRGGGHH!! Are you kidding me? But actually, the more I listened to her coo to this giant bug, the more I thought, you know, it is kindof cute.

Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.

After some research, some helpful comments from a loopie with an entomophile (is that a word?) daughter, and a lost afternoon on the computer, completely fascinated and disgusted by this amazing bug, I decided that it was harmless. Now what?

Right about then, my kids got home from school, and I asked my son if he’d like to see the freakiest bug he’d ever seen in his life. “Sure.” Of course he does.

When we got out to the back porch, the bug was still (thankfully) in his plastic prison, but was on his back, legs rapidly flailing in the air, abdomen simultaneously bloated and strangely shortened at the same time. I began to anthropomorphize. To me, he looked like he was suffocating. Like he was freaking out, frightened, in pain. I couldn’t stand it.

Right about then, two neighborhood boys came over to play, and I asked them if they would also like to see the most amazingly horrifying bug ever. They were appropriately amazed and horrified, but had seen one before. They started to regale me with stories about how these things can kill you with just one bite, and to beware of fates that happened to cousin’s cousins from Mexico, and tales of swarms of them under matresses.

But the thing was really scrabbling around in there. The younger of the two boys asked me why he was doing that. “I think he is suffocating,” I said. “It’s terrible,” I said, “but I don’t know what to do.” The boy suggested that I simply let it out, if I didn’t want to suffocate it. How simple.

“I can’t do that,” I said. “I don’t want him to suffer, but I don’t want him to live, either.” The boys and I all agreed that it was certainly a dilemma, but no one had an answer. I cracked the lid, allowed it to fill with air, and the creature instantly resumed his regular shape, size and uprightness. I quickly replaced the lid…tightly.

“What should I do?” I asked the children.

“Kill it.” They said, eventually.

“I can’t.” The truth is that it simply was too big to kill. It would be like stepping on a mouse. I’m the spider-killer in my house, as my husband can’t stand them. I don’t care about daddy longlegs, but the rest have to go. I can tolerate ants, and even like ladybugs. I apologize to every bug I smash. But I couldn’t even step on this thing. Too much crunching, too big a mess. We sat around and were horrified for a few more minutes. Were we even enjoying being horrified? Who knows.

Right around then, the boys’ mother showed up and they showed her the bug. She is from Mexico, where, apparently, these things are plentiful. I explained that I had a Nino de Tierra. “Ella tiene un Nino!!” they exclaimed. Oh! She immediately raised her eyebrows and looked up at me…they are poisonous. I explained that I’d looked them up and they are commonly believed to be venomous, but actually are completely harmless. They eat decaying vegetable matter and the occasional insect. They have a painful bite if disturbed, but usually don’t bother people at all.

Harmless. But ugly.

What to do? I didn’t want it on my porch, wanted it the hell out of my Tupperware. I certainly didn’t want to let it go, back to the garden for me to run into again. And I didn’t really want to kill it.

The older boy wanted to take it home to show his dad. I was skeptical. I imagined him torturing it, pulling the legs off one by one. I told him he could…but only if he gave it right to his dad and asked him to kill it for me. I didn’t want this kid turning into some psycho bug-torturer. His laughter was a little too gleeful. I hadn’t thought yet about the rest of us. At that moment, his father showed up and we explained the situation.

“Will you kill it for me?” I asked.

He also raised his eyebrows. He also is from Mexico and knows all the stories of cousin’s cousins felled by the horrible beasts. He said, “There are more.”

Thanks, pal. That’s all I need. “I know. I just hope I never see them. Will you kill it?”

He took the container and opened the lid. Shook it around a little and dropped it on the ground. And maybe that’s when it got ugly. Maybe it was before, but I keep thinking about that particular scene. There we all were, like betters around a dog ring, watching my neighbor and this bug, in their deadly dance. Truth is, maybe he was thinking the same thing I was: too much crunching, too big a mess. He kicked it a few times. We all screamed and shuddered in horror as it tried to figure out what the hell was happening to it. I think he was trying to turn it around so he could step on its head. Yuk. Better him than me, I thought. The bug was upside down and he finally stepped on its head. Twice. It took twice. I looked away.

The drama was over, and everyone just simply went back to what they were doing. The body was in my driveway. He handed me my container. They went home. They boys went off to play. You know, now that I think on it, I don’t know what happened to the body. I told my husband about it when he came home that night. Maybe he cleaned it up. Maybe it is still there, kicked to the side, in the weeds and dead leaves.

I thought on that scene, all of us gleefully horrified. I’d like to think that I wasn’t but then why did I even show it to the kids? Why did I encourage the stories, tell the boy to take it home to his father? I really didn’t want the thing to suffer, but I certainly didn’t want it to live. Was I equally guilty in the “scene” that was the death of this completely harmless creature?

If you cruise the internet for a while, as I did that fateful day, you will see bulletins, chat threads and even whole websites dedicated to the hatred of this creature. This ugly, ugly insect. Lots of bugs are ugly. Why this one? No one knows, actually. There’s really no reason at all that I couldn’t simply have shown this amazingly large, harmless insect to the children and then just let him go. Back to his underground life, munching leaves and roots in my garden. But I didn’t.

Why do we kill what is ugly?

You Tube Video 1
You Tube Video 2

*The term bug is used here for any smallish creepy crawly thing, including insects, bugs and spiders.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Crock Pot Macaroni and Cheese - the quest for the Holy Grail

Okay, everyone. HB “put away” my recipe box. He also got me a new computer (bless him) but didn’t move my recipe organizer program over. SO, my wonderful crock pot macaroni recipe is LOST!! Ack!!

Why is it so wonderful?


Plus, it does not contain eggs or evaporated milk (though it might have contained flour, I can’t remember). I have found a hundred recipes online, but they all have these weird ingredients.
I’m pretty sure my recipe had, like, uncooked macaroni, milk, butter & cheese. And maybe some cream? NO COOKING first, as that is what a crock pot is for. If I have to take a pot to the stove, I’m just going to cook, kwim? What is the point of cooking something first and then putting it in the crock pot? How is that supposed to save me time? Lol. It might not be as yummy as the other recipes, but I’d never know, because I’d never make them. Lol.

SO: Do you know how to make crock-pot macaroni with UNCOOKED macaroni and NO eggs or canned milk? If you do, you are my HERO and please email me the recipe!! Please!!

Monday, March 23, 2009


I heard the most amazing thing last night.

I was listening to an old NPR podcast, and they mentioned that Coco (the gorilla) really liked Mr. Rogers. She used to watch it all the time.

In fact, once he went to visit her. When he got there, she immediately bent down and took off his shoes.

I don't know why, but that is so sweet that it actually gets me all choked up.

Could it be the 235 episodes of Mr. Rogers that I, myself, watched?

Comments from Facebook:
Rob Baker
"If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person." ~ Fred Rogers

From the book 'The World According to Mister Rogers; Important Things to Remember', by Fred Rogers

Dan Troy
I emceed my 8th grade talent show as Mr. Rogers. I sang the neighborhood song and changed my shoes and all that. I received no fan mail from any monkeys, though.

Sunshine Gladish-Cowgill
Dear Mr. Rogers,
Thanks so much for coming to our school! We love your show.
Your Friend,

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Buddhists say that the source of all human suffering is longing.

I have found that to be true. But I have also found that a little longing is delicious.

And like most things delicious, too much is too much.

But a little. Everyone wants just a little longing.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sundrenched Backyards

The sum of your own experience is only for you.

Your memory, your mind is only yours. You can speak, you can try...but there is no way to convey the experience of your own childhood, your own life.

If the neighborhood kids were friends or merely tolerable companions. The feeling, the angle of the sun in your backyard, if you were lucky enough to have one. Who you thought you were.

If it was painful, then it was. But you are you. Aren't you happy with yourself? I personally would not want to live it over again, it was so perfectly wonderful and flawed. What on Earth could I possibly have done differently? I'd love to add some years, maybe do more, live it another time, do it again but not over again.

As time goes by faster and faster, you begin to realize that your childhood is most of your life. Large and expansive: endless afternoons, hot pavement in summer, buzzing insects, grasses bending in the wind.

And it's all for you to keep.

Remember to see it, to feel it, try to picture it. Try to feel it. It is for only you.

Feel the breeze on your face.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Shoes Part III They sleight me again

Addendum to The Shoe Story.

They were all sooty looking in the front, and frankly probably pretty stinky. These dang shoes had been in the garden and everything, and I was pretty sure they were pretty gross. So I tossed them in the washing maching. Remember, these are CHEEEP shoes, so I expect the insoles to fall out and who knows what else.

What else?

They sleight me again. Those dang shoes come out of the washing machine
* Sparkling * Clean *
And perfect. Like brand new. Like the day they were born. In fact, I think they look better than the day I bought them.

Maybe they look better because they're all broken in and rounded out.

Or maybe I'm starting to warm up to them.

Friday, February 13, 2009


So we're in line at Staples, and my son says to me, "Oh my God! That lady has an EASY button!!"

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Rude to your Kids - Shoes Part II

Today I was busted by a complete stranger. I was rude to my kid. Insulting, really, and I feel really bad about it.

She gave my daughter a nice compliment, and then I insulted both of them by making an excuse for it, virtually erasing it. Rude.

It's all about the shoes. First, there is a backstory to these shoes. This is my daughter's favorite pair of shoes. I hate them. We were doing a photo shoot for fall clothes, and I went out into the world (Natomas, really, since I had only 15 min to find all of the shoes we'd need for a dozen high-end fall outfits) to find shoes. I hit 5 stores, and nothing. I had something in mind, but couldn't find anything like it. And here's the thing: Payless, Marshall's, The Children's Place, Wal-Mart, Target, Ross and Kohl's aren't exactly great places to find high-end, interesting shoes. But I only had 15 minutes. I scooped up a couple pair, thinking I'd go ahead and just return them if they don't work - but I knew they wouldn't. After walking out of the Payless, Wal-Mart was staring me in the face. It was just right there.

Now, I usually don't shop at WalMart. Just on principle. Not because it's cheap, but because it's CHEAP. Because WalMart doesn't give a crap and all that stuff. Sometimes I think that, hey, they really are doing good things for the environment sometimes, and they really do have the power to make everything they do more green. Big stores and big trucks are more energy efficient than small ones. They are a big enough company that they can really have influence on the environment and society. If they choose, it can be a better influence. But they don't, and you've probably already heard enough horror stories. WalMart is what's wrong with the world. So any time I've even gone there, much less purchased something there, there's a whole inner dialogue that goes on, complete with shame and everything.

BUT, here's this WalMart. They have shoes. I have looked virtually everywhere else, and Ross is going to be a crap-shoot anyway. Wal-Mart is not going to have what I need. I know they aren't. They never do. I walk in.

Right to the shoe section, eyes forward, no browsing. I've got 15 minutes. Well, 4.3 minutes now.

And there they are. The fateful shoes. They are the right style. They are the right color. They are fully stocked, and come in her size. They are $8.99. They are cheap as hell. They are hanging on a plastic holder thingy, more like slippers than real shoes. Thin, rubbery soles, no structure, no heel stitching, flat toes. Slippers. They are the right style. They are the right color. They are $8.99. And they are right there. I buy the damn shoes.

I walk out of there feeling terrible and spend the next 2.5 minutes trying to find better ones (better?) at Marshall's on my way back. Nothing.

I get there and explain how I hate the cheap-ass shoes to my photographer. They are cheap. I make excuses. More like slippers, really, I say. They are cute. They are perfect. "I think they will go," she says. They go. They go with everything. They are going to ruin her feet, I say, taking heart that she will wear them for only 30 minutes, maybe only 10, and then we can donate them or something. Keep them for photo emergencies.

Do you know that she wore those shoes with most of the outfits? Those damn shoes are in a magazine. Those cheap-ass shoes were perfect.

And they are her favorite shoes.

She wears them with everything. She wears them around the house, in the garden, to school. With and especially without socks. They might even be making her feet the sweatiest of any shoes she has ever had. And you know what? Even after gardening in them, they still looked good enough for another photo shoot this season. Those damn shoes will not die. $8.99 for the perfect shoes. I hate those damn cheap-ass shoes.

Cut to today.

Yesterday I told the kids we could go to Starbuck's so they could buy themselves breakfast with their gift cards they got for Christmas. Oh Joy! A field trip to Starbucks!! Hot Chocolate here we come!! I shout across the house, "Hey Sonja, you wanna wear some jeans today? A dress, a skirt?" That's our daily conversation. Getting dressed in the morning is fun when you are 5 and everything fits and your mom is in the boutique industry.

My husband points out, "oh, she's already ready." I hear a smirk in his voice.

She bounds in in the cutest little puffy, fluffy dress, with matching bolero and leggings and holding the matching hair pouf. "Will you do my hair, mommy?"

"Sure," I say. And I look at her shoes. I suggest black shoes. She likes these. I explain that the red shoes don't really go with the magenta dress. In fact, I point out, they clash horribly.

"I don't care" she says. These are her favorite shoes. After a few minutes of trying to disuade her from the red shoes and trying to talk her into a pair of beautiful, Italian made Primigis, in tasteful black, I give up and decide she can wear them. I never wanted to be the kind of mom that dressed my kids. She is 5. She can pick out her own outfits. I want her to be happy, independent.

It's just that, well, they clash. I've provided her with the very best of everything. She's wearing a $125 outfit and $8.99 shoes. From last year. From the Evil Empire. She has a closet full of Italian shoes. She doesn't care. She likes what she likes. Same with the clothes. She'll pick what she wants, she doesn't care how much it costs or if it matches. She wears what's comfortable and what she likes. Do not take that to mean that she likes plain, simple cotton clothes and I'm overdressing her. Oh, no. She likes the fancy, expensive stuff. She doesn't want it to be plain. It must have ruffles, rhinestones, embroidery. It must have "something on it." But she likes what she likes, quality be damned.

So she adds some beads (!) and grabs her purse. I add a jacket that more-or-less matches and a hat & gloves that don't, but they were a birthday gift and we must wear them before it's warm again. Besides, it's cold out there. Even more than making sure your kid looks good, a mother's job is to make sure they are warm. These things are warm.

We go to Starbucks.

A very stylish woman notices Sonja and compliments her on her outfit. She's smiling, Sonja is smiling, I am smiling.

And then I get foot-in-mouth disease.

I explain that it's a great outfit, thanks so much, but too bad the shoes don't match. It's not my fault, I'm explaining, I suggested black ones, but you just can't change their minds, can you?

A moment later, she says to me quietly, to the side, "Well, I think she looks great. Red goes with everything."

"You're right," I say, "and it does go with everything." They are cranberry, really, a beautiful color, and red really does go with everything.

After we leave, I start to thinking. Wait a second. That lady was giving my daughter a very nice compliment, and I basically tried to excuse it all away - to erase it - by pointing out how imperfect her outfit was. Who cares? She looked great anyway. Sheesh, I don't get the kind of compliments she does, and I match. Well, usually. Am I such a well-dressed woman that I can criticize a 5 year old for her choices? This is exactly what I don't want to be. The truth is that those shoes embarrass me. I hate them. They are cheap and poor quality, even if they are kindof cute. It's like I didn't want this lady to think that I would have the poor taste to pick out that outfit with those shoes. ?? I'm sure it wouldn't even occur to someone to blame me for my daughter's appearance. What was I thinking? I realized that I have done this exact thing at least one other time.

After that, I realized that that's what the lady was trying to tell me. I am horribly embarrassed. Why would I want to write about it and tell the whole world how lame I am?

Because I think it might be something that people do, in small ways, in other ways, sometimes. And because I don't want to be that kind of mom, and I don't want other people to be that kind of mom.

I had a friend in college who asked me once, drunk in a bar, "Am I embarrassing you?"

I simply answered, "You cannot embarrass me, you can only embarrass yourself." I have thought often on this simple wisdom and wondered how I ever got so smart that I thought of this all by myself, and off the cuff at that.

This is a similar situation. Sonja wasn't embarrassed that her shoes didn't match her dress. She likes them. She didn't care. Why should I be embarrassed for her? And now I'm left being embarrassed for my self and my poor behavior.

My daughter got two more compliments after that. Once, I said to her, "what do you say?" When I realized she wasn't going to thank the lady without prompting. Also WRONG. Even though I try to teach my kids good manners, I think it would have been better to whisper it to her, instead of saying it in earshot of the compliment-giver. I want them to know that I'm teaching my kids good manners. Again, it's all about me, not about the kid. Again, I was wrong.

The third compliment, the lady asked if she was dressed up for some special occasion. I said, "No, that's how she dresses. She's a fluffy girl!" I'm proud of my fluffy girl, and I like it that she has her own style and it's different from mine. But again, maybe I could have given her more of a chance to answer for herself. She gets shy and hides behind me, but surely other people can see that. Perhaps I could just let it go? No response? Why must I put words and explanations in her mouth? Maybe going to Starbuck's WAS special occasion to her.

So I promise to stop measuring my children by my standards and let them create their own. I will do my best to keep my mouth closed and let them direct their own interactions.

My daughter is beautiful, graceful and polite. She often compliments strangers on their appearance, their words or their manner all by herself and just because she noticed something about them. She is thoughtful, caring and sweet. And even if she clashes, you gotta admit, she does have style. :)

And I love her just as she is.

The infamous shoes

Too big dress & clashing shoes

The infamous shoes, pictured with at least 3 outfits from C.C. Clothing's Fall 08 collection, including this dress which appeared in an article in Baby Couture Magazine.