Finding the funny in parenthood before somebody loses an eye...



Sunday, March 28, 2010

Bon Voyage!

We're on Spring Break and today, in 2 hours, (1 hour and 55 minutes if you ask my kids) we're leaving on a cruise.

A Mexican cruise.

This is the first time my kids and I have been on a long vacation together (other than visiting family) and as a single mother, I won't lie, I'm nervous.  REALLY nervous.

I'm leaving the boyfriend behind (he's housesitting for me and taking care of the 3 little piggies...that's a good man) and traveling with another mom (one of my best friends - I'll call her "S" for the purposes of this journal entry to protect her privacy - she's WAY more private than I am) and her twins who are about the same age as mine.

Just us girls and our progeny.

I'll keep you posted.  But for now,  all of our bags are packed and I'm hoping this doesn't end like it did for the castaways of "Gilligan's Island"-  I didn't pack near enough pull-ups...

Bon Voyage....

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Need a Good Lawyer?

My daughter was in trouble.  Big trouble.

She sat in the back seat of the car trying to explain that she hadn't actually called me fat, she was just saying, you know...I wasn't thin.

I wasn't swayed...They could all tell by the look on my face in the rear view mirror that Izzy was digging herself a hole as big as she perceived my ass.

"Bob?" (my 6 year old girl calls her big sister "Bob"),  "You should stop talking.  Want me to handle this?"

If I know Livi, she's not planning on working pro-bono...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Bugged...

There's a helicopter in my kitchen.

It's about 4 inches across, has six legs and is flying around aimlessly, like it's drunk.

I want it dead.

I know some bugs are good.  I hate teaching my kids that bugs should be killed.  But I have rules.  If a bug comes into my house - it's on my turf and has to play by my rules if he wants to live.  My rules are - NO flying when I'm around.  NO moving when I'm around.  Find a nice little corner or nook where I can't see you and stay there. 


Stay out of my clothes, don't eat my food.  Don't get in my wine.

All of these are offenses punishable by death. 

This seems fair to me.

I mean, if I go outside, I realize I could be stung, pinched or bitten.  I know the risks.  A spider spins a web FAR away from anywhere I need to be?  I steer clear.  I actually think I'm very respectful.

But if that f*cker comes inside, he's on my turf and all bets are off.

My kids are screaming, "KILL IT!  KILL IT!"

It buzzes Izzy's head like a control tower.  She SHRIEKS!

I open the screen door to try to let him out.  I'm a little concerned about squishing him...he's really big.  It'll be gross.  So I open the screen door and try to herd him outside with a magazine.  He just bounces off the image of Kate Gosselin and pings off of my cabinets and door jambs.  Despite the fact my door  is at least 7ft by 3 ft, he can't seem to "thread the needle."

Stupid bug.  Big stupid huge-ass bug...

Finally, after swatting at it a bunch of times I get it out the door.  It finds a home in my bougainvillia and will live to see another day.

My kids, their bloodlust unsatisfied, are disappointed.  But I feel humane.  Yes.  I set a good example.

...watch the sucker'll bite me when I go to take out the trash.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I was excited to see this movie.  I hadn't read the book (I am a book club drop-out...long story...), and my boyfriend assured me it was "FANTASTIC!"

Not FIVE minutes into my burger at the Apple Pan he says "by the way, I probably should have told you it's in Swedish."  Now let's get something straight...I like culture.  I was raised on culture.  I give yogurt a run for "culture"...but I don't like subtitles.  They bug me.  I realize I can be thrown out of proper society for admitting this, but it's true.  I can't focus on the story AND the subtitles at the same time...I feel like I miss stuff, and my eyes hurt.   And it's all meaningful glances and artful shots of water.  Exhausting.  It's all just too much work.  And for what? - so I can tell people I saw the latest foreign film...blah, blah, blah...it was riveting."  No thanks.  I'm not embarrassed I liked "Rush Hour".

My enthusiasm wained.

"And it's 2-1/2 hours long..."

Oy.  I took an angry bite of my burger and picked fries from his side of the plate.

But THEN, as we're going up the escalator to the theatre he adds..."Oh...and I should have mentioned, we don't have very good seats.  They're all the way in front."

This was not how I wanted to spend my evening after an entire week with the kids and no help whatsoever.

He assuaged me with a pre-movie trip to Coldstone's and we snuck in our "Like it" in a "Love it" cup.

The demographically unified audience took their seats.   A sea of middle-aged/older well-heeled couples who all looked like they were in the same book club.  

From the first moment of the movie, I was sucked in.  It was FABULOUS! 

I was sucked into the story, and totally transfixed - other than the moments the older men in my row kept getting up to pee.  One stomped on my toe.

The movie is hard to watch and is intensely disturbing, but it's exciting, and suspenseful, and incredibly well-directed.  The tension is really incredible!

I was pleased.  "It's like an American movie with subtitles."

My boyfriend looked at me skeptically.

"Okay...it's like a GOOD American movie with subtitles."

We agreed.  "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" should be seen.

Dare I say it?  It was "Riveting."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Clean Getaway...

The "Immaculate" drop-off.

That's what my friends and I call it.  A morning where you take the kids to school and no one cries, whines or clings.  A drop-off where no kid begs you to stay, no one shows sudden signs of sickness and you're not sent home for lice.  You leave the school zone child-free.  Huzzah!

But then...on your way to the car you walk by the schoolyard and look through the fence for your child.

You see him or her on the yard.  Alone. Without you.  Fine.

You turn around and go back in to the school so you can give them one more hug. 

That's when they remember they need you, and the clinging begins.

You should have kept walking.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Balls Don't Grow on Trees

My family has balls.

Lots of balls.

And we can't find any of them because apparently we also have really bad aim.

Yesterday I was trying to play basketball with my 6 year old son in our driveway.  He has no skills.  No skills whatsoever.  This is unfortunate because his father is 6'5" and is an awesome basketball player.  But one the down sides of being a single mom is that it's up to me to teach him...and my hook shot ain't so good...and I don't really know the rules...and I like to take nap breaks.

So, we were outside playing a little "one-on-one" and it goes well for about 10 minutes.  He's learning to dribble and he's pretty darn fast.  I couldn't even get the ball away from him.  I begin to think there's potential there.  Then he goes in for the shot.  The ball FLIES over my head and lands in the trees behind the net.

"That's okay" I tell him. and I go to get a broom to poke it out.

I come back with the broom.

As I'm looking up at the tops of the tight border of trees that line the driveway behind our net I notice not only our recently lost ball, but like 12 other balls stuck up in the canopy of the trees.

"What's with all these balls you guys?"

"What?"  They run over to look up into the line of trees.

There are a million of 'em up here! (exaggeration is a family trait...) Did you know this?"

They laugh.  "Yeah." 

I poke at one and try to dislodge it.  Two balls fall on my head. 

This is hilarious to them.

I continue to poke around.  "I've been wondering where all our balls were.  Did anyone ever think to try to get them out? "

 "We couldn't."

"The question is, did anyone try?"

"Not really."  Why am I surprised.  "I don't know how."  Says Ben.  "Let's blow up another one."

"No!  Balls cost money!  We're going to use the balls we have!"  I shake the trees and more balls dislodge and pelt me.  Leaves fall into my hair and down my shirt.  A few get stuck in my cleavage.  I think I just pissed off a spider.

Ben and Livi are laughing at me because I'm shaking trees, poking with a broom and I have leaves all over me.

A tiny red hackey sack ball falls out of the tree canopy and pings me on the shoulder.  I'm annoyed now.


As the balls fall out, the kids pick them up and start trying to throw more baskets - resulting in the balls going right back, up and over the backboard and lodging in the trees again.

"Stop you guys!  We're going to lose them all again!"

Obviously, this is just one big vicious cycle.

"Let's just blow up new ones."

"We're not blowing up new ones.  We have a ton of balls!  You're using what we have."

I keep poking at the trees.  I manage to get 7 or 8 balls out.  A few are beyond my reach and I give up.

I line up my "harvest" on the driveway.  "Here you go.  Balls.  Try not to lose them."

"YAY!"  They start shooting baskets again and the balls go in every direction including up and over the backboard...into the trees.  They're not even TRYING to aim!  Unbelievable.

Yup.  My family has balls.  And if you ever doubt it, I can show you just where we keep 'em.

xo,

Sarah

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Beat of My Drum

The other day a friend said to me "You're crazy.  That's one of the reasons I love you." 

I thought about this.

Do I want to be thought of as crazy?  Even if it makes me loveable?

Sure I do silly things.  I speak my mind too much.  Things pop out of my mouth before I can swallow the words.  I wear scarves when it's not very cold.  I don't mind being different and I don't really care too much what people think of me as long as they laugh at what I say.  Or scream.  That's okay too.  I'd rather elicit a strong reaction, than none at all.

But basically, I just don't want to disappear.  Which is easy to do when you're a mom.

So I came to the following conclusion with the help of my boyfriend - I'm not crazy, I just march to the beat of my own drum...my drummer on the other hand is out of his f*cking mind.

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Tree Grows in L.A....

My daughter won a tree in an art contest.  Yes.  A Tree.  A plum tree to be exact.

We went to the ceremony to receive this tree and we were called up to the front and handed an enormous stick with angry looking branches.  Not a leaf in site.

I'm not good with trees.  Or herbs...or grass.  Eventually almost every green thing I care for withers and dies or at best, shows moderate if unimpressive signs of life. 

Anyway, we were told we had 24 hours to plant the tree and I wondered if the tree turned into something unspeakable if I didn't.  After all, it didn't look so friendly to start with.

My daughter was really excited about her tree (now named "Plum-y") and hounded me till the 11th hour the next day to plant it.

"It's gonna DIE!" she kept telling me.  I didn't tell her it would probably die anyway...if it were even alive to begin with.

So we drove all the way to the gardening store and I bought super healthy soil (per the salesman), a shovel and a small hoe.

We live in a rental house, so I was hoping that planting a tree on the compound wasn't some kind of lease violation as I dug out the one tiny, empty dirt area in our courtyard. 

I had to dig with the shovel and rip up a ton of all the old roots from plants that formerly tried to thrive there.  It surprised me how strong a root system there was in a 4 x 6 dirt patch that showed barely any signs of life above surface.  But $60 of gardening equipment, a strained back from shoveling heavy dirt and one hour LATER, I had a hole big enough and clean enough to plant our "free" tree. 

I fertilized it, made sure it was upright, and I packed it lovingly - for my daughter - in hopes that maybe it would show signs of life...eventually.

And it stood alone, a big pointy stick in a bare patch of dirt, in a tiny courtyard of our house in the city of Los Angeles.  

Every day, I watered that tree.  I checked on it during the recent storms.  I nurtured the earth.  I made sure it got some worms, I checked to see it got sun.  I wanted to see Izzy's tree survive.

"You should talk to your tree." Our nanny suggested.  "They like that."  And she did.

Meanwhile, I vigilantly kept watering, fertilizing, and protecting that little stick.

Izzy talked to me non-stop about the plums that would surely grow from her tree.  "It might take a while" I told her.  A long, long while...I thought.


Well VOILA!  Yesterday I saw that leaves were budding on the tree!

"Isabel!  Come look!  Plumy's alive!  She has leaves!"

Izzy RAN outside and was jumping up and down!  "YAY!  Plumy's alive!  Plumy's alive!  We're going to have plums!

I was so glad the tree was alive.  And was SO proud of myself I was able to nurture it to this stage.  Yay me!

Izzy said "Mommy!  Cecelia (our nanny) was right!  I talked to the tree and now she's alive!"

Motherhood can be so thankless.

So Izzy has her tree, my nanny gets the credit, and I'm stuck with some kind of lease violation that will surely cost me money.

That tree had better yeild some pretty f*#king tasty plums...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Called on My Sh*t...

I did something wrong.

I know, I know...this doesn't surprise any of you.  But this time I feel badly.

I called someone's kid the "School Bully" and they found out.

There is this boy in our school - no, not the one who picked on my son...that's another kid - this one has been in class with Iz since kindergarten and he always picked on her.

In the past, he was the kind of kid who stole balls, punched, and hit bee hives with sticks.  In fact, because of this kid, a HUGE bee hive in the school yard was "activated" and attacked half the school.  "Bee control" had to be called in.  It wasn't pretty.

He's been a trouble maker.

But unlike other "bully's" parents, this kids parents are actually aware of his behavior and have worked really hard to get him under control.   It's a tough job.  I give them a lot of credit.  I would have sold him off long ago...

Anyway, he takes karate with my daughter.  When he joined her dojo a couple of years ago we sunk in our seats.  "Great, they're teaching him karate." I thought thinking about my daughter or some other kid in class getting a karate chop to the stomach at snack time.

He would bug Iz in karate class, make nasty remarks and was generally inattentive.  The Senseis (the teachers) were always on him.  I haven't really seen much of him around the dojo lately because he moved to another group class.  "Thank God!" I thought. 

The other day we were at Karate and this boy's mom came to pick him up - he's in Izzy's new group class.  I heard his mom talking to the Sensei about buying "pepper spray" and I heard her ask if her boy would be able to figure out how to use it easily.  He said "yes".

I freaked!

As soon as they moved to the back door I said to the Sensei, "You're arming the school bully!?"

Well, I guess she heard me because today her husband came up to me in the school yard.

"Can I talk to you for a minute?" He asked.

"Sure."  I waited for an apology for whatever his son had done to my daughter to naturally follow.  I'd spent the past 4 years hearing "I'm sorry" from them for whatever affront their son had committed recently. 

"I was wondering if my son had been bothering your daughter lately.  I know in the past there have been problems but I was really thinking we had it under control a little now and that things were ok.  Someone told me they overheard you call my son "the school bully" so I was just wondering if things were okay."

There was no malice in his voice.  In fact, he seemed like any protective father.  I swear I saw a bit glossiness in his eyes, like he was sad, and it made me feel horrible.  I could see, what I had said about his son hurt him.  And that I had voiced a public opinion of his son hurt even more.

Iz came out onto the playground to our pick-up meeting place and saw me talking to this boy's father.  She instinctively grabbed my waist and listened.  I had a choice of what I wanted to say in that moment.  I could have said "what are you talking about?", but it was clear, no matter what I said a lesson would be taught and learned. 

"You know what?" I said.  "I did say that.  And I'm so sorry."

He was surprised.  I could tell.  His shoulders relaxed.

"Even as I said it, I knew I shouldn't and I knew it was rude."  I tried to rationalize.  "Well, you know how our kids have a history?  Well, when I saw your wife asking the Sensei about pepper spray it scared me.  And instead of talking to your wife about it, I said something really mean.  I had no right to call him the school bully and I hope he didn't hear me."  Then I just stopped talking.  I realized I had been a total bitch.  There's no excuse for that.

"I just thought, that maybe he was bothering your daughter again, and I wanted to be sure."

I realized, I HADN'T seen his kid been bothering Izzy lately.  In actuality, he hadn't bothered her in a while.  This guy had managed to help his kid- to help change his behavior - and I just went ahead and had made things worse by perpetuating the idea that he was a bully.  I felt so badly.

He nodded.  "I understand."

I apologized again with my daughter listening.  "I shouldn't have said something so mean.  I'm really sorry."

"Thank you" he said and he shook my hand.

I know I hurt him.  And he's a good guy.  I'm a shmuck.

I hope I said the right thing and that Izzy learned you have to own up to your mistakes.  The only way to make something better is to acknowledge it and grow from it. 

This bully has learned a lesson.

"Nana's Getting Married"

I just wanted to tell you about a book a friend of mine wrote called "Nana's Getting Married" by Heather Hartt Sussman.

You guys might not know this about me, but I was a literary agent for children's books for 8 years.  I represented some AMAZING writers and illustrators.  I know a good book when I see one.

It's hard to get published - and EVEN harder to get a kid's book published - and EVENNNNNN HARDER to publish a GOOD children's book!  So when I heard she had a book coming out I was so curious - I didn't even know she wrote children's books.

Well this was the best book about watching an older member of the family get re-married I had ever seen.  Maybe because I'm a single mom and I know how kids feel about "new" family members.  Or maybe because I watched my own mother remarry.  Either way, this is a great, fun and well-written book about a boy who thinks he's losing his "Nana" to some guy "Bob", only to finally come to understand that he is gaining a great new grandpa."

I loved the skeptical little hero of this story, the high-spirited grandma, who is clearly in love, and the tone that will speak to all kids who are wary of any kind of change. 

You can buy it on Amazon.com or you can click through her website at www.heatherhartt.com and find direct links.

I know I need to tell you by law I got a free copy, but I don't put out a review of a children's book unless I really think it's great.  And it is!

I, for one, APPROVE!

Good Luck Heather!

If they had a car...what would they do with it?

"Mommy?  Would you trade us for a car?"  My daughter asked me out of the blue.  I have NO idea why.  I was just mindin' my own business.

"No honey."  I wouldn't trade you guys for a car.

Ben chimed in.  "Izzy...she'd never trade us for a car.  She's our mommy.   We'd trade HER for a car."

Nice.

Monday, March 1, 2010

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