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Argh…

30 Aug

No blogs for a while cuz life has just been too crazy. Doug’s still looking for work, I worked for 2 months teaching and now we’re just trying to figure out our next move (literally and figuratively).

Can’t believe Alex is already 2&1/2! This is an older photo from about 6 months ago… She’s such a big girl already!

This one is more recent — on a trip to Sea World.

Class Matters

3 Jan

The conversation I had with the woman at the local taco stand began innocently enough. The place was full and there was an extra space at the picnic table I was sitting at with my daughter, Alex. The woman was my age, maybe a little older, and immediately after she asked if she could join us said, “So what classes are you taking?”

Now in most situations this would be a normal topic of conversation. Kids nowadays have so many extracurricular classes and activities — especially in my neighborhood where most of the kids from pre-school age on up take a lot of prep courses to get into good schools. I looked over at Alex and then returned my gaze to my newfound mom-companion.

“None right now, she’s not ready.”

The mom was shocked. I could see it all clearly in the expression on her face. It’s almost like I committed a mom-crime or something. I mean how could I not have my child enrolled in several different classes? What kind of mom was I? Maybe I should be written up for child neglect. After all, who in their right mind didn’t have their child going to classes yet?

I reached over to tug at Alex’s foot. “Nope, no classes.” Alex let out a little cry. We were getting close to naptime. I gently rocked the infant seat that she was reclining in, talked a little bit more and then after a few minutes bid the mom goodbye and took my 8 month old back to the car.

Nope, no classes.

For the longest time I was the only mom I knew who didn’t go to classes with my baby. Most of the moms had their kids doing everything from the free parenting classes at our local community college to baby swim lessons. “Music Together”, Mommy and Me, Gymboree, and baby signing classes all were names tossed around when our kids hit the 4 month mark. My fellow mom friends were always talking about trying something new, packing their barely cognizant little ones off to classes that cost more per 20 minute session than the 90 minute yoga classes I used to take at an upscale studio. The small talk at the taco stand wasn’t something out of the ordinary. Everyone, it seems, takes it as normal that kids who can’t even crawl should have something ‘educational’ to occupy their time.

Forget staring at the ceiling fan, playing with stacking blocks, or raiding the Tupperware drawer. The best way to ‘raise’ a kid is to start them off right – by putting them into a structured environment where they can ‘learn’ something. News flash – kids are learning each and every second of the day, and here’s the rub – one of the best ways they can learn is if we get out of their way.

Childhood used to be all about fun. Now it’s about who is doing what where.

Don’t get me wrong. I did eventually sign Alex up for parenting class once she was about a year old when it no longer interfered with her nap schedule. She gets to play with a lot of cool toys – many of which are old standbys that have been around as long as I have – as well as interact with other kids. I get to hang out with other moms, kvetch and eat a donut now and again. There is a schedule but there’s no agenda for the kids. They have song time, story time, and free play. It’s a great deal. Especially since all this is… free.

Free non-structured playtime with toys and a few carbs once or twice a week should be good enough. But, for many of the moms in my class, they still have their kids signed up for even more things to do. Trying to organize playdates with these moms is also always an issue. “We have ‘x’ class that day” being a common refrain. Just recently at a birthday party one of the moms had to rush their kid off to his class, just popping in to say a quick “Hi. Happy Birthday!” Poor kid missed having ice cream cake just so he could go to…school.

I’m all for kids playing together and learning how to be social. Playdates, which I shunned pre-momhood, I have learned to accept as a necessity — getting out of the house a must for my sanity. But I just can’t understand why anyone in their right mind would shell out big bucks to put their kids in classes. My best memories of childhood are of running around, playing in the park, getting dirty, and making up games with other kids. Parents were actually kind of boring. They never could come up with good storylines or understand how a box could become a castle with just a few blankets and a broom.

In many ways I feel like I’m a mom from another planet. I could really care less if my child learns about music theory by the time she’s 2. It seems enough that she sings her ABCs on her own while beating some pots and pans on the floor. She’s experimenting with rhythm and melody in her own unique way. Why would I pay $100 per month to have a ‘childhood development expert’ teach something that my child already is doing intuitively?

So these days when I say I have no class, it takes on a whole new meaning.

Just Hanging

28 Aug

Things have been so topsy-turvy (maybe that should be the title of this blog) these days that it’s just nice to enjoy the really peaceful and quiet moments.

I went back to work part-time training ESL teachers to teach. I’ll be doing it every other month for the next few months. It’s nice to work but teaching really drains me and I remember now why I love writing and why I wanted to give up teaching.

Kiddo turned 18 months this week — hard to imagine! Wish I had a decent camera to take a good picture of her!

I just keep thinking that each moment in the moment feels so wonderful. Who cares what the future will bring because now is pretty darn cool!

Love

13 Jul

The longer I am a mom the more I realize just how deep, tender and aching a mother’s love is.

Each day with Alex opens me up to wonders I never knew possible.

Aww…..

7 Jun
Alex and Jonathan

Alex and Jonathan

Memories of Donald…

3 Jun

Two days ago I got a phone call from my former Venetian neighbor, Greta, telling me the terrible news. Donald, who was truly the heart and soul of our Venice California enclave known as 28 Sunset was gone.

Gone.

I only found out this morning what had happened.

He was hit by a bus.

Even though I haven’t seen him since I was 5 months pregnant with Alex, I can’t stop the tears from falling. Donald was my age. He was my neighbor for 7 or so years. So many of my memories of Venice include him. Just the other day, as I was exfoliating my face with a J-A-S-O-N product, I was thinking about him because he gave it to me.

Donald was an intense person. A fighter. I can’t help but think that if we had more people like Donald in our world taking care of just a small piece of it, it’d be a better place.

Donald was the first person to tell me about 9-11. I remember going to work that Tuesday morning and out comes Donald, arms waving wildly and excitedly, “We’ve been bombed!”. The only time I saw the footage of the Twin Towers was that morning on his TV.

One time our apartment was being stalked by a guy who was stealing our bikes and harassing/stalking our fellow neighbor, Lisa. Donald and I followed the guy twice trying to catch up with him and tell him to get lost or at least get his license plate number.

We had a stray cat in our building who had obviously been dumped by someone. Donald took her in, named her Mickey and took care of her until she passed. He kept her ashes in an urn because he missed her so much.

For the longest time I heard yelling and thought it was a woman screaming until I realized that it was actually George, Donald’s parrot, calling out his name. George was a fixture in our apartment complex.

If it weren’t for Donald catching the person who was renting our crazy-shut-in manager’s parking space in the act, we would probably still have the crazy manager to contend with.

Donald and my neighbor Lisa came over for a vegetarian Christmas dinner I had fixed one year. He brought a lovely red wine and we had a great time.

I’d always get free samples of great organic cosmetics from Donald. He was always so nice about passing cool things along to others.

For the longest time we had a tattered white swinging couch-thing in our courtyard that Donald had brought in. It was always so much fun to sit on it and hang out. When the couch had finally seen its last legs, he rescued a really cool table from down the street and set it up with a few chairs and potted plants. The first few pictures of things from my blog were taken using that table as a backdrop. He was always concerned about creating a nice shared communal space in our courtyard.

He was always excited to see doves and hummingbirds nesting in our courtyard trees and would do anything he could to protect them from the gardeners and stray cats.

When Donald got his new car he was super duper retentive about getting scratches. I remember coming home one day with a note on my door saying I owed him money for a scratch. I took him outside, opened my door and showed him that there was no way my door could’ve made that ding and everything was cool. When I got my new car, he showed me how to use a paint marker to cover up dings.

I loved looking at his paintings and wished he could’ve been discovered by a rich and famous art collector. He was one of the most talented people I know.

Donald always championed things around our building. He discovered that a pipe had burst and saved our complex from being flooded and overcome with mildew. He always watched over our parking spots and made certain our apartment building was a safe place to be.

To me Donald symbolized Venice in all its artistic bohemian intensity.

Rest in peace, Donald. You’ll be missed by many.

Still here….

13 May

Nope, haven’t forsaken the blog yet. I guess most of us go through a period of time when we either get too busy or overwhelmed to update regularly. That’s me!

Thanks for the nice comments from some of you. I would love to post patterns and such, and hopefully will someday. Right now if I can get more than 30 minutes of time on the computer a day, I’m really lucky.

Things have been really strange lately. I guess this past year has been both wonderful and sad at the same time. Recently I lost one of my dear uncles. His wife had passed away only 8 months earlier. It’s not only sad for me, but I really think about my cousins a lot and about how hard it must be to lose both parents in 8 months. They were a really close family who had been through a lot of hard times but my uncle and aunt were all about loving others and showed their kindness to their family in subtle but powerful ways.

We’ve also been perpetually sick here in the burbs. I think the last day I felt totally fine was about 3 weeks ago… Ah well…

Hopefully I’ll be able to post some fun and positive things fairly soon. Can’t believe I haven’t posted a FO for over a year (even though I have pics of some…)

Our Strawberry Monster

Our Strawberry Monster