Archive for the ‘It’s a Mom’s Life’ Category

Thanks, Kind Target Customer

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

It had been one of those days.

Dishwasher problems. The contractor working on our deck railing took a chunk out of the deck. Long work day.

And then I ran to Target to get a bunch of stuff, and the cashier stashed, on the rack under my cart, the plastic box, raisin bread and vitamins I purchased. (He put the bread and the vitamins inside the box.)

As he did that I said to myself “don’t forget that stuff when you get to the car.”

You guessed it. I got home, unloaded everything and realized I was short one plastic box, a loaf of raisin bread and my One-a-Day for Women. I’d left the cart in the parking-lot cart-drop-off area. Someone was probably headed home with a plan to make raisin-bread French toast tomorrow, I figured…

But maybe not.

I called Target and asked for Customer Service.

“Did anyone turn in a plastic box with a…”

“With a loaf of raisin bread and some vitamins?” the guy said. “Got it right here behind the counter.”

How nice to be able to share with my teenager my little tale about the nice person who brought my little box of goodies back into the store.

Sometimes that’s all it takes, I told Matt, to turn “one of those days” into a pretty darned good day.

To the very kind person in the Target parking lot… Thanks.

When’s The Last Time You Took a Break?

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

I need to post this pic on the fridge. It was taken a few years back, when Randy and I got away to a bed-and-breakfast while Matt was at summer camp for a week.

Just looking at the photo reminds me how relaxing those few days were. We walked around the lake. Lounged in the in-room jacuzzi and looked out at the lake. Tried parasailing above the lake (fun!) and sat around, enjoying a glass of wine and (you guessed it) gazing at the lake. (What is it about water that’s so relaxing?)

We didn’t stay all week, and didn’t break the bank. Just a night or two was all it took to feel like we’d gotten AWAY from the everyday routine.

What do you do to refresh yourself now and then? And (be honest) when’s the last time you did it?

Another View: One Mom’s Emotional Education

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

Guest blogger Darryle Pollack started her blog,”I Never Signed Up for This,” in honor of all the times she has said those words — as a mother, artist, breast-cancer survivor, writer, chocoholic, TV journalist, Yale graduate, procrastinator, and wife (because her husband always says he comes last on her list).

I don’t do back-to school shopping  any more — but I still sense the educational expectations and emotions that arise every September.   The start of a school year summons up strong feelings.  The first day photo op. Proud parents, sweet smiles, sharp pencils.  (Do they still USE pencils?)

For most parents, the feelings are positive: Pride.  Hope.  Freedom.  Sometimes the feelings are not as positive:  If you just sent your kid off to school or college for the first time and you’re worried.  If your kid has a teacher  you don’t like – or is in a school you don’t like – or is put into the wrong reading group.

I feel your pain.  I wish I could spare you the emotional wear and tear and just say it will all work out in the end — because probably it will.

I also wish I could go back and spare my former self some of the drama.

It started from the moment my first child was born when my dad started discussing where she’d someday go to college.  I didn’t buy into this ridiculousness.    (But I was thinking Yale.)

Alli’s education started at 6 weeks. (I would have started sooner but I had a very rough delivery).  I started her in a mommy and me class nearby — to check out the school’s potential as a learning institution.  That was the first of many schools she attended — we’re talking double digit numbers. And that was before kindergarten — when the real nightmare started (a.k.a.  private-school applications).

At the time we lived in Los Angeles. Problem one is that we weren’t in a position to donate a building. Problem two is that there were way too many kids and way too many schools and way too many choices for someone like me — who felt I had to do it absolutely right.  I was so intense and so invested in this process, I felt as if my entire life — and hers — depended on her getting into the “right” school.

Only she didn’t.  She didn’t get into a single school we applied to.  I could hear the gate to Yale slam shut.

I won’t even get into how a parent feels when your kid is rejected from anything, much less at such a tender age.  Alli was 5, happily oblivious that her future success was swirling down the drain.   The grownup was the one who cried.

At the one school I desperately wanted her to attend,  Alli was on the waiting list — along with several other kids we knew.  This was a tiny school — with space for 11 girls in kindergarten. Several siblings were automatically admitted, so god knows how many desperate parents wanted those remaining few spaces.  I hate to make light of something serious — but it was a little like waiting for someone to get hurt so you could get their donated organs.

I grasped onto that one sliver of hope,  pulled myself together and went into the school. I demanded requested to speak to the director to convince her that in the event one of the lucky little girls holding the brass ring decided to let go,  the very first child to come off the waiting list should be mine.

Sitting in the director’s office pleading my case, I did something I would not recommend to parents in the same situation. Maybe I shouldn’t even mention it — this is not one of my prouder moments.

I cried.

Yeah. I said I wasn’t proud of it.

I spent the next couple months checking out every public and private school within the Los Angeles county limits. And then  over the summer we got a call and Alli did end up at that very school where fortunately the administration had the vision not to punish a child because of the lunacy of a parent.

Years later, the same experience was repeated — different school, different city, different ending. (That time I didn’t use the water works.) I have to admit it hurt a little less in the second go-around.   Time — and cancer — helped put things in perspective.

For the schools it was always a numbers game. For me it was always emotional.  It took a lot of years and lot of tears until I finally shut down the drama department. I’m over the angst. Both my kids’ educations are ongoing — and I’ve been educated, too.  I’ve learned to go with the flow and not to get all emotional about it.

Even though Alli never did go to Yale.

I wish life came with a lesson plan.  I wish 5 year olds never had to be rejected from anything. I wish all kids could get the education their parents hope they will get. But even when they don’t, there is something to be learned — if not in school, then from the experience. Mostly to enjoy those precious moments in September and every moment possible the rest of the year. And keep tissues handy.

Blogging Buddies Can Be the Real Deal

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

Have you popped over to check out the Ladies’ Home Journal Ladies’ Lounge blog recently? One of my favorite writers, and a blogging buddy of mine, Louise Sloan, has a terrific post, “Best Mom Bloggers (and BFFs!).”

Reading the post reminded me of the fact that I have closer friendships, and more frequent contact, with some fellow bloggers whom I rarely (or never) see in person than I do with some friends who live nearby. What would I have given, back in 1995 when I was the mom of a newborn, to have had these connections, these wise women writers who shared so honestly about the very things I was going through? These women who would be there, at least in blog form, at 2 a.m. when I was up feeding Matthew?

Of course, this virtual embarrassment of riches now stretches far beyond parenting tips for me. From my blogging buds, I learn about everything from how to make the best use of a day at Disneyland to how to organize my finances to how to get the best deal when buying a car.

And sometimes it goes much deeper than the “how-to” stuff: When a child becomes seriously ill and the blogging community rallies around a worried family. When a blogging buddy is walking to raise money for cancer research and we all spread the word and help fill the coffers. When someone takes a deep breath and reaches out to discuss a personal challenge — and receives support from around the world.

With blogging, when it’s done right, we’re not just consumers of information. Those of you who leave comments here become part of a “the gang.” Sometimes we take the conversation to email or phone. And sometimes connections are made that become as valuable and meaningful as any “in-real-life” friendship. Blogging, done right, is a two-way street. And as Louise points out, there are some pretty terrific potential friends waiting for you on your virtual block.

The Cult of “I’m So Busy”

Monday, September 6th, 2010

This school year, I’m not going to buy into it. I’m not, not, not. And I’m going to mark my calendar for the beginning of Oct. so I’ll come back and read this post again and remind myself, once again, that I’m NOT.

Not what? I’m not going to let myself get sucked into the “I’m sooo busy” trap. You know it. Chances are, you’ve been in it with me. We may have seen each other at the grocery store, church, our kids’ school, and said “What’s new?” “Oh, I’m just so swamped I can’t see straight.” “Oh, I know what you mean. Between the school fundraiser and the kids’ activities and work and…”

“Blah, blah, blah.”

I may be bold this school year and take a Monday morning off and go to a coffee shop with the newspaper. Go get my hair cut on a Thursday afternoon. Read a BOOK. I don’t have to prove to anyone that I’m so important because of how darned busy I am every hour of every day. This year, it’s going to be OK to relax now and then. And to actually admit, in public, that I did, indeed, relax.

It’s a false set-up anyway. We moms seem to have to one-up each other in this area, and it’s a crock. I hear it every time I go to the grocery store and see two women parked in front of the dairy case, comparing kids’ schedules. Heaven knows I’ve done it. It gets old to listen to, and it really is a boring thing to discuss, over and over.

So let’s take a bit more time to relax this school year. And when we run into a friend? Let’s talk about the great book we’re reading, the fun new thing we did with the family the other day, the movie we want to see, the new hobby we’re enjoying. Anything but “If I have to spend one more minute in that car this week I think I’ll scream.” Because, frankly, if I have to have one more conversation about nothing more than that, I’m going to jump straight into the dairy case and hide behind the milk.

Life’s Little Pleasures

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Randy (AKA “The Hubs”) is flying home from a week-long business trip and is due in any minute. The laundry is done for the first time all summer. The dog endured his trip to the vet + bordetella shot today and is happily snoozing at my feet. There’s homemade chocolate cake in the house. I have lots of paying writing and editing work to do tomorrow. And Matt, my son, is downstairs playing Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s “Lucky Man” on the piano.

Life’s little pleasures. They mean a lot in the day-to-day scheme of things. (Although Randy returning after being gone for a week is a BIG pleasure.) A phone call from a friend. A great cup of coffee. An unexpected card in the mail. A walk on a gorgeous July morning.

What are the little pleasures in your life right now? Isn’t it amazing how something so small as (temporarily) having the laundry done can make your day?

Is Summer Relaxing for Moms?

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

I’m feeling like a bit of an odd duck lately. I’m hearing a lot of moms say “Oh, I’m so glad it’s summer! Things are more relaxed and I have so much more time.”

Seriously? I’m feeling like I need a giant DO-OVER button for my summer. I’ve been:

° Working

° Driving Matt to activities

° Going to the grocery store

° Driving Matt to activities

° Going to Target

° Working

Now, I love Target as much as the next mom, but come on! I need to take a break and read a book on the deck, with my shoes off, while drinking lemonade. (OK, in the evening? Maybe a glass of wine.) I need to get off this work-schlep-chores train and relax a bit more.

Can you relate? Are you with me? OK, let’s go squeeze some lemons, grab that book and take our shoes off.

See you on the deck.

It Was Time for a Little “Me Time” — And Now I’m a Blonde!

Friday, July 9th, 2010

Hey mom, do you feel like you spend all your time taking care of others? Making sure your daughter has a dress for the dance, making sure your son gets a haircut, making sure the dog gets to the vet for his shots?

What about you? It’s time to take a break and spend a bit of time on yourself. You’ll be a better mom for it, I promise. Yesterday I spent the morning at Salon H by Hala, in Torrance, California, going… BLONDE! Check it out. I had a blast.

What will you do for yourself this week? Let us know in comments.

Try ColorSplash on the iPhone for Photo Fun

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

I got my iPhone yesterday, and I’m like a kid at Christmas. Almost jumped up and down (OK, maybe I actually did a little) when the FedEx guy showed up.

One of my favorite apps, already, is ColorSplash. It allows you to turn a color photo into black-and-white and then add back just a touch of color to any part of the photo you choose.

Speaking of a kid at Christmas, here’s one of my favorite photos of my niece, after I had some fun with it with ColorSplash.

If you’re a busy parent with an iPhone, I’d love to know what apps you use to save time, stay organized and have fun! Please share your recommendations in comments.

I’m Going Blonde!

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

Hey moms - Do you ever feel like it’s time for a bit of reinvention?

I do. Right now. I’ve been toying with the idea of going blonde, via highlights, for some time. And I’ve decided to take the leap. I’ve had brown hair my whole life and I’m ready to see what life is like as a blonde. I’m not going platinum. But it will be light! I’m excited.

Got my appointment set for a couple of weeks from now, but I’m on the cancellation wait list, so the call could come at any time… Yikes!

What have you done to reinvent yourself? Hair color? Weight loss? New hobby? Let us know how you’re re-making your life.