Friday, July 7, 2017

Doing What I Never Thought I Would

Hello all!  Yes, I am well aware that it has been over a year since I wrote anything.  I don't like it, but there are many factors that have kept me from writing.  Or rather having the time to write.  Part of the reason it is getting harder for me to write is because I have growing children who are finding out more about this Internet thing, and that they might be a part of a few stories on here. Or maybe all of them.  Semantics.  Fine and cute when they were younger but not when they are almost in 8th grade, MOM!  So I feel I do have to respect some of their privacy.  I guess.  However the bigger reason I haven't been on here has been time, and not having enough of it.  Not that any of us do, but this past year my life turned into crazy town.  The reason for that is because I did something I said I would NEVER do-I really should stop saying never-I became PTA president.

Now I know some of you just had a flash of Christina Applegate as PTA president in Bad Moms, but I can assure I am more of the Mila Kunis character.  This was not something I wanted or lobbied for in any way.  In fact,  I must have told  the nomination committee last year "NO" almost a dozen times.  Then they wore me down, but not after convincing two of my good PTA friends to do it with me.  They had also been approached and told the committee no, but when the three of us started talking about working together, we figured it could work.  Matt is my PTA husband and he agreed to co-President with me to share duties, and my friend Libby we roped in to being our VP.  Then we found out unfortunately that you can't have "co-Presidents",  so on paper I am the President.  Yay.

So what's it like to be PTA President of an Elementary school-you ask.  Well, you know when you were in college and  you took that internship, worked your ass off, worked ridiculous hours and didn't get a dime for it because you were getting "work experience"?  Yeah, like that, except 20 years later and with kids.  I pretty much work a part time job with no pay.  Here's the thing though-I kinda liked it.  Shhhh...don't tell anyone!

Yeah I know I'm a little crazy, but you all knew that already.  And believe me-I didn't like it all the time.  There were times throughout the year when we were about to have our next big event-Halloween Hulabaloo, Variety Show, Spring Event-where everything at school and my life were being boiled into one big mess of insanity.  I may have walked the line of a nervous breakdown a time or two, but managed to come out on the other side  with most of my sanity intact.

I've been involved in school since Sonya was in kindergarten, but just not all the way.  I still had the little two at home, so I would attend all the school events and help by baking for the bake sale.  When I had grandparents in town I would volunteer in the class.  Then as they all went to school, I went to school more.  I mean-why not?  I don't work and as much as I think I want to sit around and eat bon bons while watching soaps all day, I am so NOT a good sit around and do nothing all day person.  Plus there are only about three soaps left on TV these days anyway.  So I continued to volunteer for this position or that position.  I helped out at events and continued to do things in the classroom.  I became good friends with the teachers and the PTA parents so much so that when they needed a new president, they turned to me.  I guess it's flattering  they thought of me, but I know it was also a matter of necessity.  The people who had been around and in charge for so long were all leaving.  And I mean just about all of them.  There were only a handful of us left who knew anything about how to run this organization, so we agreed to take over.  Little did we know what we were getting ourselves into.

Because so many parents left last year, those of us who did take over were a little lost for a few months.  Or completely lost for most of the year.  I guess either statement could be correct.  The people before us who had been treasurers-and I use that term loosely-either had no idea what they were doing or just didn't give a shit.  Perhaps a bit of both.  I did not know this when I took over and asked my friend Christina to be my treasurer. (Sorry again, Christina!)  Looking back now,  the best thing I did as President last year was ask Christina to be our treasurer.  It took her ALL YEAR-and I am so not exaggerating about that-to clean up the mess that was left for us.  I couldn't even go into detail about all the problems we had, because I didn't even understand half of them.  Numbers are not my thing, but they are  hers.  She was my superhero.  She managed to untangle the mess that was made over at least 3 years and fix it so it's all pretty and neat now.  We have real working correct numbers.  Not-"maybe we have this much" or "maybe we spent that much".  She filed our taxes and made sure our audit was correct.  I honestly can't sing her praises enough.  I would have failed without her.  So part of the moral to this story is make sure you have a good money person in your life for anything!

Besides the money, we were down in volunteers- period.  I don't know if it's the ebb and flow with things like this, or because we had so many volunteer parents that left, or if people just don't give a shit anymore.  However, my goal was to try and be as welcoming as possible to encourage new parents to help.  I think for the most part we did a decent job of getting more people involved.  It's hard because people have such a stigma about PTA.  Kind of the similar stigma mini vans have.  They are the same. Once you get involved or you buy into it, you are hooked.  Plus there were the couple margarita parties I threw at my house complete with bounce house for everyone's kids.  Margaritas help people to say yes to chairing a position, while still having fun! (Although I should point out that these parties were MY parties, and not PTA sponsored parties in any way.  They just happened to have all my PTA friends there.)   I love my PTA family.  They are friends I know I will have forever.  People like Matt, Libby, Christina and Elisa who I run the Variety Show with every year, these are not just PTA people I see at school.  They have been there for me when I have needed someone in a pinch to watch my girls or pick them up or just to bitch to. In turn I am always there for them.   They have become some of my best friends.  Maybe other PTAs are different, but we try our best to include whoever wants to be included and not ostracize those who don't.  Although it would be nice if everyone just gave one hour of their time to an event now and then.  I'm just saying.

So am I doing this again next year?  Yup.  I am.  Again-there's that I'm crazy thing.  I've had several people ask why I'm doing this again.  Here's the deal.  I've just cleaned everything up-so why am I going to hand it over to someone else?  No, I want a chance to run this thing right for at least a year.  I have 2 more years in elementary before I move on for good and I plan to make sure it stays nice and neat for at least that long.  I have so many people now who are behind me wanting the same thing now.  People who are excited and want to do this PTA thing.  Two moms-Dawn and Frankie shout out to them!-who have been amazing and will be there long after I will.  Not to mention  awesome dad, Justin-who has brought so many of these new parents in and jumps in to help out with anything and everything.  So yeah.  I'd say I'm at least doing better than Trump.  Although, I guess that's not really saying much these days, so perhaps that's a bad comparison.

Here's my takeaway for all of you who are parents out there.  If you are involved in your kids' schools  now, continue your support.  If you're not, consider it.  Even if you are a full time working parent.  All the people I have mentioned in this post are full time working parents still willing to put the time in to make their kids school experience a great one.  I'm not saying take on the role of President, yet.  Offer to run a bake sale or at least work it for an hour.  Find a friend and pick a position to chair or hell-just go to a PTA meeting.  You might find that you like it too, or at least like the people.  Even if you think that the PTA is just a bunch of cranky moms.  Chances are they are that way because they feel alone and overworked and like if they don't do it nobody else will.  Believe me, it's a sucky feeling.  So be the one to reach out to them. Not to mention the fact that your kids see how involved you are, and it makes them more willing to be involved in school and keep their head in the game, so to speak.  My girls love that I am there, and they do like to mention that I'm the President to their friends.  Not that their friends care, but still.  Now perhaps this wouldn't fly as well in middle school or high school but they still like me right now and think I'm cool for the most part.  I'm hoping that will carry me for a while.  Once they get to middle school it's a whole different ball game. One that is harder to navigate, so get in on the ground floor.  I promise it is not something you will ever regret.  So here's to one more year of my Presidency and hoping that it's slightly easier this time around.  After all-I know what I'm doing now.  I think.  

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Georgia's Turn

Hello everyone!  I am indeed still among the living.  I just have a crazy schedule that does not allow much time for writing these days, but I feel like I need to.  At least I have to tell the story of Georgia in the Jungle Book play at school.  I wrote about Sonya and Lana's experiences, so it would be unfair of me to not talk about little GG.  Plus then, when she gets older, I'll never hear the end of it about how she, as the youngest child, always got the shit end of the stick.  Less writing in the baby book, less pictures of her, blah, blah.  It's a song my little sister Megan likes to sing sometimes.  Well, I'm here to make sure that doesn't happen to G!  At least in talking about her part in the 2nd grade play.  

For those of you who have been with me a while, you might remember reading about Sonya's experience with this and then Lana, who ended up with the same part Sonya had when she was in 2nd grade.  This is one of the things I love about my girls all growing up in the same place.  I moved around so much when I was a kid and my sisters never had the chance to have the favorite teacher I did or get the same part in the play.  We didn't have similar experiences to compare.  Which is fine, I swear I'm not harboring a grudge-well maybe a tiny one- however I like that my girls can share and compare their similar childhood experiences.  

Now unlike Sonya, who was petrified to get on stage, Georgia is my ham.  She is the one who longs to be in the spotlight and have everyone looking at her-as long as they are supposed to be looking at her.  When they started discussing the Jungle Book at school in January, Georgia was dying to play the part of King Louie.  I honestly have no idea why she wanted to be him, but that was who she had her heart set on.  Then she came home in tears one day because she wasn't going to get the chance to try out for King Louie.  They were organizing it a bit differently this year and each 2nd grade class had a group of animals they could try out for.  Her class was not the monkeys.  Her class was Kaa the snake and she had no desire to be one of 10 kids as Kaa the snake.  She could, however, try out for one of the four main parts-Mowgli, Shere Kahn, Bagheera, or Baloo the bear.  Once she heard about this option, all her cards were on the table to go for Baloo.  I thought this was a perfect choice for her since Baloo is more of the comedic relief of the play, and Georgia is the comedic relief in our family.  

Sidestory-We were talking at dinner one night about how the girls wanted to see the new Ghostbusters movie.  I told them they could, but that they had to watch the original one first.  Sonya and Lana decided they would be too scared.  Georgia said that was fine, she wanted to watch it.  Then she said,

"But I might end up in your bed in the middle of the night....Consequences!"

Consequences indeed.  Damn that kid makes me laugh.  Anyway-Baloo.

They auditioned in their class for the teacher.  Then their teacher picked two kids to move on to audition with the other Baloo, and main part hopefuls in the other classes.  (You're going to Hollywood!)  Her teacher kept telling me how great she was for the part, but they had to see the other kids first before they could decide.  Of course none were as good as Georgia, not to brag, but yet to brag, and she got the part.    Little GG was going to play the part of Big Bear Baloo!

Over the next month and a half, they rehearsed the play at school.  I kept hearing from all the 2nd grade teachers how great she was doing and how cute she was.  We worked on her lines at home and I could see how into this she was.  Her only problem was running the lines too quickly.  

She was so  nervous the night before and the morning of the performance.  We could barely talk to her without her getting mad or bursting into tears.  She was jumpy!  I was just praying she wasn't going to get a migraine.  Don't worry-she didn't.  This isn't one of those stories, but I was sweating it.  She hadn't had one since December and she was due.  Thankfully it happened two weeks AFTER this.  

The school held two performances and we went to both.  I even took Sonya out of school for a bit one day, so she could come watch her sister.  I was nervous for her, but she remembered every line and played the part adorably well.  People I didn't know came up to me afterward to tell me how cute she was.  She really was.  She is easily one of the smallest kids in her class-as all of my girls are, they come by it naturally-and here she was playing the part of what was supposed to be a big bear.  I was so proud of the great job she did and of course cried at the beginning of both performances.  I am such a sap!  The best part is she loved every minute of it.  She loved the acting and getting the laughs and she loved the spotlight.  I guess something else she comes by naturally.  

It's been so crazy to watch each of my girls do this play and each in a different way.  Even though Sonya and Lana had the same part they certainly didn't play it the same way.  Then having Georgia play a main part brought it to a different level.  I'm so glad they go to a school that will do things like this for the kids.   There was talk of it not happening this year, and I would have been heartbroken if it didn't.  I feel like things came full circle while watching Georgia up there, after having seen it two times before with the other two.  Not to mention that this really sparked something in her.  I would guess she is going to look for more opportunities like this to shine.  She enjoyed herself so much from beginning to end.  I think the craziest part of all this for me though is to realize that they have now all been through 2nd grade.  This is it.  We are on to the END of elementary school.  I just can't even think about it half the time.  I will miss all the littleness and cuteness of all this...


On the plus side-I am anxious to see what they will choose to focus on in their lives and if something like this play really will spark something in Georgia.  I love watching their lives unfold and seeing what kind of people they will become.   I will NOT love the attitudes that are about to explode in my house over the next eight years though.  Especially if this acting bug kicks in.  The drama that will follow!  Oh Lawdy!  Pray for me people! 

Friday, March 4, 2016

A Superbowl Challenge

There are times as a mom when you realize that you can do superhuman things.  Like lifting a car off your child trapped underneath, or grabbing them before they get hit by a truck in the street, or changing a full set of sheets under a sleeping child.  Yup.  I did that last one.  Just call me Supermom!

A few weeks ago we had that big game that some refer to as the Superbowl.  Perhaps you've seen it?  Well some years we've had parties, some years we've gone to parties.  This year we didn't really care so much about who was playing, but it's still nice to have a couple people over and eat unhealthy, but yummy food, while having an excuse to start drinking at 2pm.  Also why I love Thanksgiving.   We weren't going to have anyone over, but decided last minute that eating unhealthy food and drinking alone (mostly me) would be sad.  So we invited a couple of our friends who had been around for the Patriots playoff games with us the weeks before.  Yes, we are Patriots fans and I love Tom Brady.  Do not judge or start making cheating jokes because I'm very over it.  Anyway-our friends brought over a ton of food and I made a few things, as I always do, because I come from an Italian family.  There is never such a thing as too much food.  

We had too much food.  I mean it was ridiculous how much food we had.  We could have had half the Patriots at our house and still have enough to inflate all the balls with food. (See- I can make fun of us too).  

In regular every day life, we do a good job with balancing out what the girls eat.  I make sure they have fruits and/or a veggie with every meal, lean protein, some good carbs.  Yes, we have desserts sometimes, and maybe baked chips or pirates booty, but when I look around at what other people feed their kids on a regular basis, I am so proud of the job I do with them.  I know we are teaching them the right way to stay healthy and, hopefully, not become overweight in their future.  HOWEVER-I will let them eat whatever they want on special occasions, such as the Superbowl.

On days like that they will go all out, but for the most part they will only eat until they are full.  They will still select some carrot sticks amongst their mounds of tortilla chips and mini hot dogs, so at least something good is getting in there.  I ignore the fact that said carrots are covered in ranch.  At least there is a veggie there somewhere.  I will cut them off after two desserts.  Although Sonya will try for that third cookie or cupcake.  So, yes, it's not the best day of eating but it's one day.  They will usually complain about stomach aches afterward too, so it's kinda a good lesson as well.  Well maybe not, because after 42 years, I end up complaining of the same thing at the end of the night. I also love eating a lot of unhealthy food at once.  I guess when you eat well all the time it's fun to be bad for a minute.

Sonya and Lana do know when to stop eating.  Georgia, on the other hand, is a different story.  That girl loves her some chips.  If there is a bowl of chips somewhere, she will find it and eat the entire bowl if I let her.  In fact-funny side story-Last weekend we went to Big Bear to go skiing. The place we rented had a big game room complete with pool table, bar, poker table, etc.  I was behind the bar and said, "Oh they even have poker chips." Georgia's ears perked up upon hearing this and said, "Where at the chips?" I didn't even think about it, and pointed her in the direction when Andy knowing what she was looking for said, "Everything isn't always about eating Georgia."  When I saw the look of disappointment on her face as she saw the poker chips, I realized that she thought I had been talking about some kind of potato chip.  Oh Georgia!  

Back to my original story!  As I was cleaning up after everyone left, I saw Georgia at the counter shoveling more tortilla chips into her mouth.  I told her that was enough and shooed her away to go get ready for bed.  I knew she had had plenty to eat that night, and there was no way she could still be hungry, but she couldn't resist.  

(WAIT!  Before I go any further with this story, I'm giving fair warning to all you stomach squeamish people who might be eating.  Either don't read this now, or don't eat right now.  Trust me.)

The girls got ready and went to bed, and I was just about to go tuck them in when Sonya ran into the kitchen in a panic.  "Georgia is throwing up!!"  

Wait what?  She was perfectly fine 10 minutes ago, downing what might have been her 10th helping of chips....Oooohhh.  Yeah.  Maybe too MANY chips.  Huh.  

I calmly asked Sonya to go get me the throw up bucket from the garage and went to the little girls room where Georgia was throwing up into a puddle on her bed.  Yeah, I know.  It gets more gross, so just wait.  Sonya came running in with the bucket just in time for Georgia to spit the very last of her puke in it.  So that did no good.  Then I noticed it.  Did I mention Georgia was on the top bunk?  Sure there was a nice neat puddle of puke on her sheets in front of her, but before she decided to throw up there she decided to first go over the side of the bunk bed.  Which hit Lana's bottom bunk below her, and the trundle bed under Lana's below that, and the floor.  It was spectacular.  I also noticed Lana was completely passed out.  It was 9:30, but she had only been in bed about three minutes which I thought was odd.  However, it makes sense looking back now, because the next afternoon she came down with Influenza A.  It must have been brewing.  Never a dull moment. 

The point is there was a lot of puke in many different places to clean up, and I needed to figure out where to start.  So I called in reinforcements.  

"Andy!  Get in here!"

He came running into the room and knew what the situation was from the smell that hit him in the face.  I told you there was more gross coming.  Oh the smell.   It's not bad enough that vomit has to look gross, but the smell is just not something you can get away from right way.   

"I need you to help me clean this up, " I told him.  Needless to say, he was thrilled.  Normally, I would have just taken care of a situation like this, but this time I needed help.  So I put him in charge of taking the soiled sheets off Georgia's bed, while I went to work on the side of the bed puke.  Andy wasn't sure how to take the sheets off because there was so much of it in one pile.  So he came up with the brilliant idea of shoveling it all into a garbage bag first.  I'm impressed he got through it without adding to the pile himself.  So. Very. Gross.  After he took care of that, I had him take care of getting Georgia cleaned up, who as it turned out wasn't so bad.  She had managed not to get any on her person, so score one for her in that category.  Still, l she needed a face wash and a toothbrush.  

There wasn't a lot of throw up over the side of the bed, but enough to make it so I had to change Lana's sheets.  Oh and there was the fact that the bunk beds just have a mattress laying on top of wooden slates.  So whatever didn't make it on the mattress, fell in between those slates.  On both the top AND bottom bunk.  Have I ever mentioned how much a pain in the ass bunk beds are for SO many reasons?  Sure they save space, but that's the end of their good side.  Making them sucks.  Changing the sheets takes days and will break every nail you have, but unfortunately they are very necessary in our small house.  So after I cleaned under Georgia's mattress and the wooden slates, I had to figure out what to do about a sleeping Lana and her dirty sheets.  Do I wake her, move her, or try and just change the sheets around her?  I decided to do that last one, since it sounded the most challenging.  Because I mean changing sheets on a bunk bed is difficult enough.  But doing it with a sleeping child on top-near impossible.  Challenge accepted!

The taking off the sheets wasn't too difficult.  That was just a lot of pulling from underneath her.  No biggie.  It was getting the new ones on that proved to be more of a challenge.  Let's keep in mind that I had to replace the mattress cover as well,  So not one but TWO bottoms sheets. Oh, and I had to lift up the side of her mattress first to clean down  those wooden slates, where the puke was stuck.  After I did that I got the two bottom sheets out and  I started at the top on one corner, then managed to roll her on top of the sheet and do the other corner.  Once I got the top part of the bed done it was easier to pull the sheet down to do the bottom.  Especially because Lana is a peanut and only takes up half the bed.  The top sheet was a piece of cake since it was just covering her up and tucking under the mattress.  When I was done, Lana was still completely asleep and in a new set of sheets.  The next morning I asked her about it, and she had no recollection of the entire incident.  She wasn't even aware that Georgia had gotten sick.  

As for Georgia,  she was not ill in any way.  I thought perhaps she was at first, since the stomach bug had been circulating at school and gave her the benefit of the doubt, but she was immediately better after she threw up and fine the next day.  Andy had said so, but I didn't believe it until the next day, she had simply eaten to much.  Or maybe just too many chips.  Which you think would stop her, but not at all.  That story about the poker chips was just last week.  

So I will continue to do what I can to help reinforce the good eating habits with a fun eating day here and there for them, however, perhaps the next time I do need to monitor how much they are eating a bit more.  But hey!  At least I discovered what a badass I am at changing sheets with a sleeping kid in them.  Okay fine that hardly makes me a badass, but I'm a stay at home mom.  Let me have this one.  

Friday, January 8, 2016

Being Good At Family

Hey there!  Yes it's me.  I know I totally fell into the pit of being overwhelmed and overburdened with a thousand things to do with school and the holidays, which left me no time to write.  I wrote a bunch of blogs in my head, but none of them made it to the computer.  Looking forward to the day where I can think something and Suri will write it down for me.   I even got a little bah humbuggy at one point because of how crazy everything was.  Even though I still have much going on-like helping to produce the Variety Show at the girls' school-I decided to put everything else I should be doing right now on hold (changing sheets, cleaning, getting cat litter) to do the one thing I like to do for me.  Writing.  So with that here's a little story about a New Year's Eve Day trip we took last week.  (Was it really only LAST week.)

Over the holidays we didn't have any family in town which was (sorry parents) kinda nice.  I mean don't get me wrong, I love when my parents or Andy's parents come and spend Christmas with us.  The kids love them being there and it's nice to have a big family together for the holidays.  However, every three years it's also kinda nice to not entertain parents for a week or more.  This year was that year.  So there was more hanging out and just doing nothing, which is good for us since we are always doing something every damn minute of every damn day.  The only bad part about doing nothing for a family who is very active, is that after a while we start to go a little stir crazy.  So we decided that on New Year's Eve, during the day, we would drive to the mountains to a sledding park. 

One of the advantages of living here in Southern California is that we are so close to the mountains to go sledding anytime in the winter if we want.  Even though we hadn't had any rain yet last week, the sledding parks all make their own snow.  The other great thing was that it was actually cold here this Christmas.  In fact while we were in the 50's here on Christmas day my in laws were sweating it out in the 70s in Rhode Island.  Crazy!  Since it was so cool here it was even colder in the mountains which was perfect for the snow making and sledding.  

I found a place on line that is only about an hour from our house, called Mt. Baldy.  When we got there we were to purchase tickets to take a "scenic lift" to the top of the mountain where we could do the snow tubing.  They also have skiing and snowboarding but we weren't going that crazy for one day.  After we bundled up and purchased our tickets we walked up a little hill to the lift.  That's when we realized the lift chairs were only for 2 people.  Last time I counted there were 5 of us, and three of us are kids.  Huh.  How was this going to work?  I wasn't crazy about the idea of Sonya going by herself, and sending her with one of the girls could prove disastrous.  I didn't need a fight to break out on the lift and someone pushed off onto the side of the mountain.  No worries though.  She wasn't allowed to go alone or with one of the girls unless she was 14.  That would have been nice to know BEFORE we bought our tickets. They did let us know she could ride with another adult who was alone and wanted to go up the mountain.  Oh yes-let me put my 11 year old on a ski lift with some stranger for 20 minutes who could be a Jared from Subway for all I know!  I don't think so.   Oh and by the way-it was seven degrees at the top of the mountain.  SEVEN!!  Now I know there are a lot of your out there who that freezing temperature might not bother so much and probably think we are big pussies.  However to those of us who just went through a 55 degree Christmas and were complaining of how cold we were, making fires in our fireplace every night,  seven degrees would have killed us.  

Andy and I made the decision to see what we could do about getting our money back, then figuring out what we could do to salvage the day from there.  It was of course greeted with a barrage of questions from the girls who were so looking forward to sledding.  

"We're not going?"

"Not here."

"But why?"

"Because Sonya can't ride the lift by herself and it's colder up there than it is down here even."  They were already freezing in the 32 degree temp.  

"So we aren't going to go sledding at ALL??"

"I don't know yet.  We will figure it out."


"We will see!"

Neither one of us was optimistic about it being easy to get our money back, but turns out it was!  They were very nice about it after we explained that we had no idea about the age for the chairlift.  So we were happy we didn't lose any money on it, but now what the hell do we do?  We had decided to go to this mountain because it was closer than the one in Big Bear.  Were we even in the right direction of heading to the other one?  Unfortunately, it took us a bit to find out since there was no service on the mountain.  Once we got to the bottom I found that the other place I had looked at was less than an hour from where we were.  Since we had left the house so early it was only 11am at that point, so we decided to go for it.  

We arrived at the tubing park about an hour later.  No traffic at all thank goodness!  This place was right off the side of the road, no lift, and cheaper than the other place.  So win win!  We went and got our tickets.  Georgia and I made a trip to the disgusting outhouses.  

Side note here-Why, in the year 2016, have we not figured out a better way to keep an outhouse clean?  Those things are the most disgusting places on earth.  I am always so grossed out when I go in one.  I have been in nicer ones that are brought in for outdoor weddings or other such things, but then they are usually newer and not used at all yet.  The ones on the mountains though are just so incredibly gross. I just tell the girls the whole time we are in there, "whatever you do, don't look down."  I gag now just thinking about it.  Back to the main story...

After we paid and grabbed our tubes, we headed to one of the smaller hills because the girls were a little nervous and wanted to start there.  To be honest I was fine starting there too.  Sonya and Georgia went down almost immediately raving about how much fun it was and climbed the stairs to go again. Lana though.  Well Lana and I spent 10 minutes on that first little hill together.  She was nervous to go down, I sat there trying to convince her everyone else was still alive after sledding, and she would be too.  I think it was that fact that she had to go on her belly head first that freaked her out.  She would start to lay down  and then say  "No, no, no, I don't want to."  Andy claimed I was babying her, but I know how Lana is.  She has always been this way.  It takes her a minute to try anything new, food, swimming, jumping off the diving board, skiing, sledding, bike riding, roller blading, whatever.  She is convinced something bad is going to happen to her.  I knew as soon as she did it though she would love it.  

I'm not sure exactly what it was that made her finally go.  At one point I gave up trying to convince her  and went down without her to show her it was fine.  Not to long after that, she went with me and that was that.  There was no stopping her.  She loved it as I knew she would.  

When we first got there all three of the girls agreed they weren't going near the big hill.  Even after Lana had been going down the smaller one, she pointed to the big hill and said, 

"There is no way I'm going down that one!"

I reminded her that she didn't want to go down the little one at first and look how much fun she was having.  So she said,

"Okay maybe I will at some point but NOT today."

"That's fine," I told her.  

At the end of our hour we were all riding down that big hill.  And we were all loving it.  It is only an hour you pay for at a time.  You can go more, but then you pay more.  At first I thought-an hour that's it?  But trust me, after walking up those stairs a bunch of times you are exhausted and done after your hour.  At one point we all went down together which was comedic.  I laughed so hard when, at one point, Andy was trying to push us all down the hill together, and Sonya and Georgia accidentally broke free leaving Andy holding on to Georgia's mitten at the top of the hill. 

Andy and the girls going down the hill together.
It was one of the best family days we've had as a family and a great way to end the year.  The girls keep talking about how they want to go back.  It was fairly easy too, minus the detour we made to the other mountain an hour away.  I was proud of us that we found a way to salvage the day even though we ran into a problem and our original plan didn't work out.  It was a good lesson for all of us.  Especially for me, because when my plans get thrown off I tend to get anxious.  It was one of those days where I thought to myself, "We are good at family!" 

*(credit to that line goes to the show The Goldbergs, which if you aren't watching you should be!)
Me and Lana

Georgia, Sonya and Andy

Happy 2016 everyone!  Hope to write more for you in this year and here's to everyone finding a day where they feel they are good at family too.  I know all to well how some days that is so hard to do.  

Sonya and Georgia

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Raising 21st Century Woman

A couple weeks ago, the little girls were sitting at the counter in the kitchen doing their homework.  I was getting dinner ready and helping  them when needed. They started chatting to each other about life will be like when they get older and have families and lives of their own.

Georgia- "Remember Lana, when we get big we will take turns working and taking care of our kids."

Lana- "Yeah, some days I will go to work and you will stay home with your kids and my kids and some days you will go to work and I will stay home!"


I was surprised to learn that they had worked out such a great solution on their own to what haunts every mother around the world.  The pull between wanting to stay home and raise your kids on your own, and wanting to continue to be in the working world to keep your own identity, and because you know, money.  They had thought of a job sharing situation all on their own.  Not that either one of them know what they want to do for a job, so who knows if it would even lend itself to this scenario, but hey!  Good for them for thinking of this.  Then Georgia thought of something better.

Georgia- "Wait a minute!  Why don't we just make our HUSBANDS stay home and WE will go to work!"

Lana- "Oh yeah!  Let's do that!"

Wow.  We sure have come a long way in just a couple of generations.  From woman doing no work outside the home, to working or staying home, to working and having Dad stay home and having it be a NORMAL situation.  I will admit, I have worried from time to time that my staying home with the girls might make them think that they shouldn't work or shouldn't want to work, but I truly believe that everyone needs to do what is right for them.   I do feel sometimes I am looked down on for not working at all, but I like being a stay at home mom.   I think moms who work are doing what is best for them as well and we should all be tolerant of what others decide to do for their own families.  And Dads!  My generation has definitely been the first to do this.  It's nice to know that my girls' generation will be the first to make it not such a novelty.  After listening to their conversation about this, I realized I have done a good job conveying to them that they make whatever decision they want as far as working and family is concerned.  We are no longer expected to fit into one mold or another and I think that is a great success for both moms AND dads.  

Friday, September 25, 2015

My Morning Ray of Sunshine

Getting up in the morning has always been a chore for me.  I don't know how I was as a little kid, but I can remember being older and my mom threatening to pour buckets of water on me if I didn't get my ass out of bed.  I HATED getting up in the morning.  I still do.  So I don't know why I find it so hard to believe that my girls are right there with me.  Well, not all of them.  Lana is most definitely without a doubt the best morning person you've ever seen.  Yes, I said Lana.  

During the week, I aim to get everyone  up between 6:30-6:40 depending on when I drag my own ass out of bed.  Sonya sets an alarm, hits snooze a couple of times,  and I still have to make sure she gets up.  She is not fun to get up.  She huffs, and whines and buries herself back under the covers.  Sometimes Georgia is in her bed with her, because I don't know that I have told you all this but, Georgia does not like to sleep alone in her bed.  She always ends up in someone else's bed in the middle of the night.  Usually mine and Andy's first, but I move her after I wake up to find myself on two inches of mattress at 4AM with her feet in my face.  Since Sonya has a double bed, I usually opt to put her in there.  I try to put her back in her own bed, believe me.  Sometimes she refuses to go,  gets stubborn and at 4AM you tend to give in to what the hell they want so you can just go back to sleep, dammit!  Anyway-when she is in Sonya's bed in the morning I have to wake her up at the same time.  I usually  drag her out of Sonya's bed and carry her to her room where I plop her on the floor.  There she stays curled in a ball snoozing for at least another ten minutes.  Then I go to the kitchen where every two minutes, I yell for them to get up and get moving while making breakfast.  It's an incredibly enjoyable morning routine I assure you.  Especially since I myself hate to get up and am always exhausted.  If it weren't for the fabulous people who invented coffee, I would never survive. 

The other day Georgia wrote out her daily morning routine on the whiteboard in her room.  I think she was just trying to make it clear how she feels about getting up in the morning, so she added a little something...

For those of you who can't read my daughter's beautiful handwriting she acquired from me, after "wake up" she wrote "gron".  Which of course means "groan", but hey she's a 2nd grader, we are still working on the spelling.  Either way, she made sure she added into her morning routine a way to let everyone know how unhappy she was to be awake at that time of the morning.  Yup, those two are fun times to get going every morning.  Usually by Friday they are marginally better have it down, but then that pesky weekend comes and they sleep in throwing everything off on Monday morning.  It's a vicious cycle. Yes I know I should have them wake up at the same time on the weekend, but screw that.  Andy and I want to sleep in too!

There is one spot of sunshine every morning though...Lana.  I do not wake Lana up ever.  Last year she started getting up on her own.  Then she asked for an alarm clock so we go her one for her birthday. What 8 year old asks for an alarm clock as a birthday present?  Now she sets it for 6:15 every morning.  When it goes off she immediately turns it off.  No snooze for her! Then she proceeds to get dressed, make her bed, some mornings she will remember to unload her dishwasher or feed the cat when it's her turn.  When I come to their rooms in the morning to wake everyone up, there is Lana sitting on her made bed reading her latest book, with a smile and a cheery, "Good morning,  mommy!"  I do NOT know where this kid came from!  Because as I said, I have never been a morning person, so you would think that perhaps Andy is or was, but no.  Some days he groans louder than Georgia when he has to wake up.  

All I do know is I am so thankful that Lana is the way she is.  I suppose if I think about it I have my parents genetics to thank.  My parents have always been morning people.  My mother especially.  She was the type to wake you up with a song.  Oh how I hated that song in the morning.  She was always so damn cheery.  So perhaps the early bird gene got passed on to Lana. (Thanks mom and dad!)  I'm glad it did, because if all three of them were super grumpy in the morning, I'm not sure any amount of coffee would get me through that first hour of the day.  With Lana's smiling face and happy morning disposition, I can deal with what the other two throw at me.  

On the plus side, this past week I have been trying to put Georgia back in her bed after she comes to our bed in the middle of the night.  Sonya does not like having her in her bed, because of Georgia's starfish style of sleeping.  Can't blame the girl I guess.  So because she has been in her own bed in the mornings, Lana has decided to get Georgia up with her.  It's been like a dream.  Both of them up, dressed and in pleasant moods.  Only Sonya has been the obstacle.  I just need Lana to rub off on her too and we will be all set.  Maybe I can even sleep until 7 and have them come wake me up.  Then I can be the one to wake up and groan.  Oh wait-I do that already.  

Friday, September 4, 2015

Sonya's New Adventure

Well here we are three weeks into the school year and I finally have my shit together to sit down and write something. Anything at this point!  I always thought that when my girls were all in school I would have all this time to get everything done.  Turns out having all my girls in school means that I am in school more too.  I help out in the classrooms and chair a few PTA positions, so I end up with almost no time to do other things like writing.  However, I decided to forget about everything I'm supposed to be doing right now, to get back to my writing for a minute.  Especially because there is so much in my head that I keep thinking about wanting to write about.  Today it's about middle school.

Yes, Sonya started middle school this year.  I know some places middle school doesn't start until 7th grade and to be honest that might have been a better transition for us, but since Burbank Unified doesn't care about just my family, we had to go with what has already been in place for years.  It was a bit of a rough transition.  Well, let me clarify that.  It was a bit of a rough anticipation time this summer.  

As most of you know, Sonya is already on the young side of her peers.  Because her birthday is in November, and because when she started school the cut off date was December 1st, she started Kindergarten at four, turning five in November of that year.  It was a decision we struggled with and one which we would not have to think about today if she was going to kindergarten.  They moved the cut off date to September here in Burbank now.  We felt like we made the right decision at that time, because she was so smart, and academically she has always done well in school.  Emotionally, she is sometimes a bit behind.  She was sad to leave elementary school in May and this summer we went through some rough patches with her.  She was very emotional at times, crying for what appeared to be no reason and just being generally melancholy.  Now, I realize this is just a sign of things to come.  I remember being 14 and it was not pretty.  However I thought I had a least a couple more years of having to deal with this.  No such luck.

Some days she had so much attitude toward me I thought she was already 14 and I just missed it.  Other days she was her normal sweet little girl self.  Then there were the days of just general blahness.  I try to keep the girls busy during the summer.  They do a couple weeks of camp and we go everywhere from the beach to the museums here.  Luckily we live in a place that there is no lack of fun things to do.  That did not stop her from getting upset from time to time.  The unfortunate part is that she seemed to get more moody once a month when I did.  Not sure how our cycles are matching up already, since she's nowhere near starting hers, but I swear it seemed to.  So we got on each others nerves quite often.  It was a bit rough.  Thankfully, there is wine.  And a Bev-mo is two miles away to buy more wine.  For me, not her.  Although some days that might not have been a bad idea.  I think the Europeans are on to something giving their kids a glass of wine at dinner.  

As the end of the summer neared she started to get worse.  Every time I would try to get to the root of the problem she would insist she didn't know what it was.  Her best friend, who's birthday is in December and is almost an entire year older than she is, was ecstatic to start middle school.  She couldn't wait.  When I thought about that, and combined it with the way Sonya was sad at the end of elementary school, sprinkle on being younger than everyone else... it finally hit me.  

We were in the car going to the beach one day during one of our last weeks.  It had been another difficult morning with her where she ended up in tears and I was ready to tear my hair out.  After a few minutes in the car I said,

"Sonya, I think you are having a really hard time dealing with the fact that you are going to middle school.  I think you might be nervous and that's why you've been acting like this."

She shrugged and replied through her leftover tears, "Daddy kinda said the same thing to me yesterday."

"Well what do you think?" I asked.

"Maybe," she admitted.  "I don't know."

I then went on to explain to her that it is completely fine to be nervous and scared and even to embrace it.  She needed to realize that is what was making her so unhappy and stop trying to fight it.  I think she was having a constant battle with herself about this.   I realized that maybe she thought everyone else was excited to go to middle school and she was the only one feeling this way.

"Do you think everyone feels the same way about going to middle school as Charlotte does?"

"Kinda," she said.

"Well, I have news for you," I told her.  "More people feel the way you do about going than the way Charlotte does.  And if Charlotte is completely honest, even though I know she is excited, I am sure there is a part of her that is scared too."

"Really?" she asked.

"Of course!" I told her.  "It's completely normal to feel the way you are! It's a new school with a whole new set of circumstances.  I know for a fact that Garrett is nervous too."


"Yup," I said.  "I talked to his mom the other day about it."

About a week before we had been out at a concert in Burbank and I ran into another mom I knew.  Her son and Sonya had been in classes together over the years at the elementary school.  We had started talking about our summers and the kids starting middle school soon.   I had mentioned Sonya's emotional state and she said her son had been the exact same way all summer.  Informing Sonya of this fact seemed to put her mind at ease.  Over the next couple of weeks she became more pleasant and less stressed.  We went back to school shopping and she started to become excited about the new year and new things to come.  She was still nervous and would cry from time to time, but at least now she allowed herself to feel this way and not battle it.  

A couple weeks before school started we had to go register at the school  and get her books and her lock for her locker.  Seeing the school and becoming more familiar with it helped even more.  She constantly asked me questions over the next few days about her locker, or her classes, most of which I couldn't answer since I haven't been to middle school in quite a few years, and never went to this one.  One night at dinner  she said,

"I just wish I wasn't the first one to go.  Like when Lana and Georgia go, I will be able to tell them everything so it won't be as scary for them."

"I know," I told her.  "It's one of the things you have to take on being the oldest.  I totally understand that because it was the same for me.  It's hard, but it's a good job for you and you will make it easier for them in a few years."

Knowing that she had the job of learning it all first seemed to help her even more. 

The first day of school came and she was a bundle of nerves, but she was definitely ready.  She was up early and ready to go well before we had to.  We all walked her down to the school to send her off on her first day.  We were allowed  that day to come on campus and walk our 6th graders to their lockers.  As we entered the hall where her locker and first class were,  I was immediately hit with the incredible urge to  burst into tears.  It was like taking her to her first day of Kindergarten all over again.  Now I was the emotional one and it was completely unexpected. I swallowed hard and breathed deep, because it's one thing for kids to see their parents crying on the first day of kindergarten, but it's a WHOLE different embarrassing thing to see them cry on your first day of 6th grade.  I couldn't let her have that stigma.  It took some doing but I managed to get through it without tears.

She found her first class where Charlotte was already waiting.  Coincidentally, they ended up in ALL the same classes, which was also a huge help for Sonya's nerves.  We hugged and kissed her goodbye and walked out of the school to let her begin her next adventure.  THEN I cried.  I mean I wasn't going to hold back forever.  

The best part was when she came home that day.  She couldn't have been more happy or excited about being at school.  She loved every minute of it and enjoyed every class.  Sonya has always loved school, but the past couple of years that love started to wane, like it does for most kids.  So perhaps she was ready to move on to changing classes, taking P.E. every day and housing all her belongings in a locker.  I've often questioned the decision we made to send her to school so early and sometimes think we made a mistake.  Then I remember what a bright, strong,  brave, independent, social, sweet girl Sonya is.  She may be emotional, but she always finds a way to rise above.  That four year old kindergartner turned into a 10 year old middle school er more quickly than I could have imagined or liked.  I'm positive that her middle school years will be just as successful as her elementary school years were.  I  know, without a doubt, that we did make the right decision all those year ago.  I also know, that no matter what, I will always cry along with her with every transition she goes through.  Why does no parenting book warn you of those things?  

Excited and nervous

Lana, Sonya, Georgia - They are getting so damn big! The other 2 started 3rd and 2nd grade.

Sonya and her best friend Charlotte