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More Fun and Games

I’ve been re-reading some of my posts and I realize I sound like a mood-swinging loony.

Ahem.  I don’t actually BELIEVE myself to be a mood-swinging loony, but you never know. So hard to look in the mirror and all that.  (Case in point: I had originally intended for this site to be for my alter-ego, where I could be extreme and outrageous and outside of being mom… but everyone I know who’s read it said, “It sounds just like you!”  So there you go.  I can’t escape myself.)

However, I did want to offer somewhat of an apology.  This site is my dumping ground, so you might get stuck wading through the muck of my emotional extremities. Wait, that didn’t sound right…it sounded better in my head, less like excrement and more like… um. Well, you get the point.  (Sometimes I plan these posts out and sometimes I just write. Guess which type of post is this?)

So here’s a new quiz!  I’m a sucker for these things.  I found this through Kim’s site, All the World’s A Stage; a cool theatre chick out of St. Louis.  (Sorry Dads, I couldn’t find an equivalent quiz for fathers.)           - the weirdgirl

Punk Mama
You're a punk rock mommy! DIY is probably your
motto, because you're a punk mama at heart.
Your kids are getting your independent spirit
and guts, and learning to solve problems
themselves. You love it when they show their
independence, even when it's breaking your
heart.

What kind of a freaky mother are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Top Parenting Goals

Because I’ve been thinking about this a lot, I decided to start a list; both to keep my thoughts in order and, later on, to remind me of where I began.  This is, of course, a work in progress.  I’m sure I’ll add and change things as I go, but I think I got the basics down of what is important to me.  (BTW, I’m referring to children in plural because I do hope to have one more kid down the line.)

My Top Parenting Goals – (maybe I should name it my parenting manifesto)

1.  Protect my children at all costs; but understand the difference between protection and suffocation

2.  Give them a loving and nurturing environment; strive to keep dysfunction to a minimum

3.  Build open lines of communication and trust

4.  Teach my kids how to think for themselves and to question everything (even me) because it leads to richer understanding

5.  Teach them how to stick up for themselves but know when to ask for help

6.  Instill a sense that there are many sides to every story; try to teach them about compassion but also have them understand that there is personal accountability

7.  Share the wonder and beauty of the world with them; start as early as possible

8.  Be honest about the ugliness and the potential dangers (without scaring them; this will probably come a little later)

9.  Be a role model; this includes having a life/career of my own (outside of “mom” but not detrimental to parenting) so I can be a real-life example of someone who is comfortable and happy with themselves

10.  Raise nice kids, who are polite (I just can’t abide rudeness)

11.  Teach them the value of working hard and to understand the value of money

12. If I see signs that my children are becoming spoiled (i.e. acting entitled for the things they receive) or disrespectful, adjust MY behavior so that this is corrected

I hope, by attempting to achieve all of these things that what will follow are happy, confident, healthy kids who are interested in the world around them.  This is my ultimate goal.  And as I said, this list is only a beginning.

Anything I’m missing?            - the weirdgirl


I’m going to go out on a limb here.

Tonight there was a news story about the rising rates of suicide at UC campuses.  A couple who had lost a son to suicide was trying to raise awareness about suicides at college.  The parents were also pressuring the UC system to have programs in place to identify at-risk students.  Essentially, they said that someone, whether it was their son’s friends or teachers and counselors at school, should have seen the signs of suicidal depression in their son and become involved.  They thought the school could have and should have prevented their son’s death.

As a parent this is a nightmare scenario.  I can’t imagine the pain and loss these parents have gone through.  Depression is a disease and it’s tragic whenever it’s left untreated, especially if it ends in suicide.  But at the same time, I don’t believe it’s the school’s responsibility to check on the mental well-being of its students.  When you go to college you are also considered an adult.  There is no one telling you what to do, or giving detention for missing classes.  There are many reasons why students’ grades suddenly drop, or their personality changes as they grow into adults.  Many students also get depressed at this age.  I suffered through some depression during college myself.  There are a lot of changes to deal with; it’s part of college and it’s part of growing up.  The teachers and counselors are often dealing with several hundred students a day… unless they have a personal relationship with a student it could be awfully hard for them to pick the at-risk students out of the crowd. 

I have to wonder at the culture of pressure that has grown around these kids.  I see many parents putting pressure on their children to succeed, have great grades, get into a good college...  In the interviews many of the UC students said they felt a lot of pressure, and one of the students said that there was pressure because these were decisions “that are going to affect the rest of my life” [paraphrased]. 

To be blunt, this is just fucking wrong.  The achievements and decisions you make in high school and college do not set the course for the rest of your life.  (It's sort of like believing in your "permanent record".)  And I think it’s wrong to let your kids believe this is true and pressure them with the threat of failure.  What about all of the folks out there who end up doing something entirely different from their degrees?  What about the people who decide they want to make a change mid-career?  What about the people who built a life for themselves without going to college?  Maybe a few individuals set up their entire lives from their college career, but most people I know haven’t.  And I think it’s wrong to let your kids believe their every move at this age is  potentially detrimental and pressure them with the threat of failure.

And what about just being happy?  I don’t care if my kid wants to be a truck driver, as long as he is happy and mentally and physically healthy.  Health is a damn site more important to me than success. 

Should there have been someone there for that poor kid?  Yes.  What about family?  I don’t want to play the easy blame game and say “where were the parents?”; depression is a complex matter and often has many factors involved.  And I’m not saying that some of the above is what happened in this case.  But I don’t think it’s fair to blame the schools.  I do wonder at the growing trend of pressure placed on kids.  And as a parent, I am disturbed that the suicide rate is growing at UC schools.  I do want my children to understand personal responsibility and that they need to make their own choices in life overall.  I do not want to be a parent who fills her child with pressure and performance anxiety and then sends them off to another stress-filled place to fend for themselves.  Even when I send my child off to college “as an adult”, I’m still going to be as involved as I can.  I will be checking in with my child; I’ll be asking how they are doing and going for visits if they’re not local; if I see grades drop I will ask why.  What I won’t do is threaten and cajole and remind them at every moment that success hinges on college. 

As a society we seem to excel at pressure and finger-pointing.  When are we going to excel at personal responsibility?  Or (worse yet) even just strive for personal happiness?            

And what I will strive for most is to have an involved relationship with my child, even if he makes choices I disagree with or life decisions that are counter to my hopes for him.  Regardless of where life leads him, I still want him to be talking to me every step of the way.  I don’t know if I can prevent anything like this from happening to my child, but I will damn well try.         - the weirdgirl


Begging Forgiveness At the Altar of the Hot Babe

I must beg the forgiveness of Stella at Finding Zen (who is a major HOT BABE, by the way). She tasked a few of us to show our drunk faces, and I had thought, “Oh yeah, I’ve got a funny one around here.”  But then I LOOKED at it, and it was not so funny, in fact it was HIDEOUS! (OK, it was funny but in a mortifyingly, cringing kind of way.)  I know that Stella thought her picture was bad in comparison to her regular Hot Babe self.  But let me tell you… her drunk face has got nothing, I mean NOTHING, on mine.  It was just too terrifying for words.  And as I haven’t even put up a regular picture of myself, I realized I certainly couldn’t start with the drunk photo. 

I’m sorry.  I am a big chicken.

Like many women, me and photos have never had a great relationship.  We started off sweet enough, what with the cute grade school pictures and days at the park.  But eventually it got ugly… mainly because that damn camera keeps dumping my ass for younger girls, leaving me looking all ragged and used… or with my mouth open and my eyes all squinty.  I know I shouldn’t take it back, but it says it’s sorry and I can’t seem to help myself.  I keep hoping it’ll change.  Bastard.

Plus, Keen is hesitant about me posting any pictures on the web as he is convinced some crazy stalker will track me down.  If I ever get the privilege to meet some of my blogging buddies I’m sure I’ll hear a conversation similar to the one MIM got from Husband.

Anyway, because I do feel like I am totally copping out of my Hot Babe task, here is a verbal description, if any of you (besides Stella) are curious, as to what I look like:

5’2” (“petite” is the nice way of saying “short” – but that’s OK, I make up for it by wearing big heels)

slim (translation = boobies not so large)

short, curly/wavy, red hair

brown eyes and I wear glasses

pretty cute figure, if I may say so myself (thus, Keen’s stalker concern.  And no, I’m not down to my pre-pregnancy weight, thanks for asking (smartass).)

hate my nose

not too fond of my skin either (why am I still having breakouts at 34?!)

and… um… pretty good dresser… sometimes…

oh yeah, half Hispanic, half American mix (you know the list, Irish, English, French, etc; I pretty much look white, though)

OK, that’s enough before I sound even more conceited than I normally do.  I am hoping Stella, in her infinite grace and wisdom, will forgive my vanity for not obliging her request.  (I would send her the picture in private but I’m afraid she will post it.  And besides being ridiculously drunk, I was wearing tapered jeans and slouchy socks, for god’s sakes.  It just really could not be endured.)               - the weirdgirl


Thanksgiving Ramp-Up

Me and Keen are trying to get ready for the holidays.  And yes, we’re hosting dinner.  Sigh.  So look forward to the food and so dread everything else. This will be the first holiday we’re hosting with a child in the house.  I expect it should be… interesting.  A test of our flexibilities.  At least Thanksgiving is with Keen’s family.  They only get mad at each other and occasionally refuse to come at the last minute (more for me!).  My family always seems to drink too much and then decide it’s a good idea to try to eat with the fork stuck between their toes (ah, Christmas memories).   It makes clean-up a bit of a challenge.

Anyway. 

In lieu of being witty (or not) I’m falling back on the old crutch of posting pictures.  (I know, I know, slacker.)  Dsc00780

We’re having an untraditional thanksgiving feast this year.  

Strangely, this turkey doesn’t look too worried. 

Dsc00783

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Perhaps, I’ll have something more interesting to share after the holiday.  Take care!           

     – the weirdgirl


Who Am I Kidding?

Oh, I’m starting to get itchy for some intellectual stimulation.  I still need to untangle the whole snafu with my school re-admittance, but I figure I will be going back no later than next fall.  In the meantime, I’m feeling the need to feed my inner academic-geek.  Maybe I will check out some new book on criticism or social theory or something else obscure that no one else follows just so I feel like I’m keeping up. (With who?  I don’t know.)  Yep, I like me some academic writings, boy.

I say all this but the sane part of me then screams… “What are you, nuts? You barely have time to work, blog, and clean yourself?!”  All this squished around the kid, of course.  He IS number one.  (Consequently, I still have some stinky days.)

And then the cynical part of me snickers, “Yeah, right. You may start reading, but are ya gonna finish, slacker girl?”  I admit, school deadlines do help me focus my reading/research.  I have that problem, sometimes, of being interested in too much.

I just start itching for new ideas, OK?  It’s not like I have anyone to discuss this shit with (I’m lucky to have friends that tolerate me when I start waving my hands and blathering on about how The Ring can be seen in the context of a modern myth), and it’s not like I think I’m going to DO anything with it (like win a game show or anything, I can never remember facts/dates anyway, I’m better on theory)… I just like to think about shit occasionally.

Anyway, I know who will win.  The realistic part of me rolls her eyes, and scoffs, “OK honey, really, I know you want to keep your mind “active” and all, but you just got the new sci-fi/comic/vampire book you have been waiting on for how long?  Seriously, what are ya gonna read?”   

OK, I give up.  Time for pulp.            – the weirdgirl 


My Pack of Kids

OK, that cold finally caught up with my ass and kicked it pretty hard.  I know what the problem is… pre-motherhood my colds were short-lasting, just a couple of days.  This was largely due to the fact that I would just sleep through the illness until it left.  Motherhood = no opportunity for extra sleep! Thus, the cold that has been hanging on for TWO WEEKS NOW, rendering me half-functioning at best.  Well, today it decided to settle in for good  (I don’t think the head-butt to the orbital I took yesterday helped either… oh yeah, AND the late night concert with the drinking the night before).

I admit it’s partly my fault for not slowing down (but I still blame the germs!!).  But since today Keen was already set up to babysit as I was supposed to visit my girlfriends, it became the perfect (and unavoidable) day to sleep.  I’m feeling a little better now, thanks.

So, of course, I’m right back to the next thing on my list… Christmas shopping!  I consider myself behind this year… it’s not as if I have all my shopping done by this point normally, but I usually know what I’m getting everyone.  This year I am still in the brainstorming process.  I’m good on most of the adults, but I’m also shopping for a pack a kids.  My dilemma, as I was discussing with a friend, is that last year I got the kids some really cool shit.  I got all the kids on my list a big glass canning jar full of polished gemstones, seashells, marbles, wheatie pennies & foreign coins, a couple of fossils, and other miscellaneous cool stuff.  I divided the objects of the jars by age, the little kids got non-swallowable items and the bigger kids got smaller pieces.  It sounds deceptively simple, doesn’t it?  I’ve always been into these kind of things and I have a bunch all over the house; a bowl of shells here, a bottle of marbles there, cool rocks and coins, etc. and I had noticed the kids were really interested in them when they came over.  I remember being fascinated by this stuff when I was a kid (I love natural history) and some of the pieces I have are things I collected when I was really young.  I keep them because not only do I still think they’re cool but they remind me of that feeling of discovery every time I found something new.  I wanted to give these kids o’ mine “starter” collector kits and I hoped they would enjoy the process of discovery as much as I did.  And you know what?  All the kids went nuts for these jars.  They loved ‘em.  It was a very gratifying feeling. 

It’s not as if I want to top last year, but it would be nice to match the coolness factor at least.  I would ask you all for suggestions except people who I am shopping for also read this blog, darn it all.  I hate to spoil the surprise (even if it’s just the adults). 

So now I am doing research.  Thank god for catalogs and the Internet.      – the weirdgirl

BTW, there is some crazy shit on eBay.  They actually have toddler tricycles on there for $6-8 dollars each!  Does this seem suspiciously cheap to anyone else?


Christmas Shopping Tip

OK, I forgot to mention this yesterday but… did you know you could buy suede leather jackets at Nordstrom Rack for $25!  DID YOU ALL KNOW THIS?!  Because I didn’t.  $25 bucks!!  I’ve spent that on corduroy jackets and thought I was getting a good deal. 

Of course, I bought two.  One bright red and one khaki.  ‘Cause if you’re going to be blowing money on jackets you don’t need, they might as well be memorable.  I was supposed to be Christmas shopping for other people but… you know how that goes.

So maybe, not that I would know because I’m not up on dead cow, maybe suede is the red-headed stepchild of leather, like the skin near the anus or the udders or something.  I don’t know and I don’t care if maybe I’m wearing the ASS-HIDE of the cow, because, you know what?, these jackets are darn cute.  Fucking, rootin’-tootin’ cute.  And, you men out there?  Totally acceptable gift for Christmas for the women in your life (unless they’re anti-animal-products).  Like this IS one of those surprise gifts you can give that is unexpected and totally cool and your chick will be all impressed that you thought of such a stylin’ gift all by yourself (you don’t have to tell them I told you).  AND FOR $25!!

I’ve got to go there more often.  I didn’t even get to the shoes.          - wg


Something About Music

OK, I meant to post this morning and the day got away from me.  And I mean, the entire day ‘cause it’s only like 11:00ish pm now.

So, part of my “day-got-away-from-me” time included getting stuck in traffic. Creepy-crawly kind of traffic.  Being at home most of the time, I had forgotten about this particular experience.  So, of course, the only thing you can do is crank up the radio really loud (the baby wasn’t with me) and sing really loud and dance in your car.  I haven’t done this in a long time.  It was fun.  I’m sure people were amused.   

It started me reminiscing about music.  Well, that and all the other blogs have been kind of music-centric lately AND we scored tickets to a Depeche Mode concert for this Friday AND because we scored tickets I realized how much I miss music*, especially live music.  This will be the first live music I’ve seen in a year.  I used to never go that long between music fixes.

I’m having a bit of a mind-warp about Depeche Mode (that’s where your brain is twisting around and you’re having mixed emotions but you really can’t untangle anything to figure out why… or maybe it’s just too fucking late in the evening).  It’s a little weird going to see Depeche Mode 20 frickin years after I first heard them.  Of course, I want to see them because they are one of the bands I never got to see and I do love their stuff.  But it’s still… hmm, I don’t know what it is.  As I said, mind-warp.

I think the strangest thing to me is, I understand that alternative rock (they don’t call it that anymore, do they?) is like TOP 40 now, but when I was listening to this stuff the other kids made fun of me.  “You like REM?!  Eww,” looks of disgust, rolling eyes, “What’s wrong with you? Why not REO Speedwagon?  You know… something good?”  I kid you not.  Back in the day, it was patently uncool to be mod (unless you were an actual punk-rocker, then everyone was too scared to say anything).  Or maybe those were just the jerks I hung out with. 

One of my favorite things about getting older?  (I mean, besides escaping high school and NEVER having to go back? Ha HA!)  Expanding horizons = great fucking music.  It just always keeps coming, or you get to discover old stuff that’s new to you.  My parents raised me on folk music, bluegrass, classic rock, and classical (disco was not allowed).  I was a total mod/alternative kid by my own choice as a teenager.  Then Keen Dad reintroduced me to classic rock, and I found the Blues on my own.  So even though I feel lately like I’ve been neglecting my music-fed soul, I kind of feel like I have good resources to pass on to the kid.  I hope he enjoys it, too (and doesn’t just think I’m a big dork).           - the weirdgirl

*Side Note – It’s not as though I can’t listen to music at home, it’s just one of those things that gets pushed down the priority list; because, let’s face it, sometimes digging through the CDs takes time and I don’t always have a lot of time.  But I think that’s going to change.  I’m really sick of Laurie Berkner (the fact that her songs get stuck in my head, doesn’t help either).