Thursday, July 27, 2017

Everything, EVERYTHING and not everything

This Summer has flown by! And no blog entries reflect all the STUFF that's happened.

So, in an effort to download my memory banks (because in 10 years I'm going to wonder...what did we do the Summer of 2017?), here goes...

For about 6 weeks this Summer I was plagued by a virus from hell. It manifested in the weirdest ways - ways in which I didn't know my body was capable of dysfunctioning.

No sore throat, no runny nose (well, very minimal snotting) - those are the usual suspects. Instead I had pink-eye. I've never had pink-eye in my ENTIRE life. It was very weird.

And I coughed a lot. Especially at night. For almost 2 weeks I spent EACH and EVERY night coughing my lungs out for about 3-4 hours. Sweating from the effort, sucking hard on Ricola, and pleading to God for mercy. I know things are really bad when I literally pray - God help me. Please God help me. Please, please, please. Have mercy on me, a sinner.

The weird thing was, I was fine all day, but then at night - the horrible coughing marathon.

So after a lot of Googling and consulting doctor friends, my best guess was I had a viral infection that caused a lot of post-nasal drip which is accentuated and greatly exacerbated when you lie down. And so for weeks I slept propped up on two pillows, as if one were to fall asleep sitting on the couch.

So six weeks is a long time to feel crappy. And during that time a lot of other stuff happened.

For one, I crashed our family car. Again.

I was stopped at a red light; there were 2 cars in front of me. The light turned green and we all started to roll forward slowly. Two seconds in, I thought it was a good time to look down for a box of tissues and then BOOM!

The first car slammed on his breaks completely, which caused the 2nd car to slam on his breaks completely, which caused me, the downward-gazing driver to slam into the 2nd car.

I was going maybe 5 mph? If that.

The car I hit had a small dent in his back bumper.

My car, however, feigned like an NBA pro, crumpling completely.

Sigh, another one bites the dust.

Things I felt in the immediate aftermath - horror, shame, disgust (at myself), sad, sad, very, very sad.

And also during my 6 week viral illness, Judah had one of the toughest days of his short life.

We noticed one of his bottom teeth was growing in but his baby teeth were not wiggling enough. It slowly dawned on the Spouse and I that Judah would need to get his baby teeth extracted. ASAP.

The day of the scheduled extraction I went to pick up Judah from Summer Camp and saw a giant circle bruise right in between his eyes. Apparently he had been hit by a baseball (which he called the "moneyball" because it's the pitch that's supposed to be the hardest and fastest) which a strong 9 year old batted in the direction of his face.

Moneyball indeed.

Judah was in a lot of pain and moaned about having a headache, which means he's really hurt because this guy doesn't complain about physical pain, ever.

And now he was getting his teeth pulled, but he didn't know it because the Spouse and I decided it was best to not tell him! Why worry him needlessly with anticipation? We merely told Judah the dentist was going to "look at" his teeth.

The moment he received the bad news while reclining on the padded dentist chair was one I'll recall for a long time. Judah, I'm so sorry but the dentist said he has to take out BOTH your bottom two teeth. (An x-ray revealed that the other adult teeth was just days away from making it's debut as well).

His eyes opened wide with fear, filled with tears, shock, betrayal, worry.

I wondered how this would end.

But my brave, accommodating, good boy was true to his brave, accommodating, good nature, and despite his intense fear, laid still and let the dentist give him two numbing shots with a giant needle and yank out both his teeth.

Two hours and 8 extremely bloody gauzes (and a good dose of ibuprofen) later, he was smiling again.

Judah - Minus two teeth; Plus one swollen bruise

There's nothing quite like your baby losing his baby teeth that makes you feel like he's not a baby anymore.

Another milestone. Another passage. Another clear marker that...that...there's life and growth and change...and very real loss.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

One more time, with FEELING

"I'm so excited!" I read out loud from the book, The Mouse and The Motorcycle, our current bedtime story.

We had just reached the high point where Ralph is finally reunited with his beloved motorcycle.

I thought I had read it with proper gusto, but out of the dark, Judah's voice arose - Mom, you didn't sound very excited. Can you read it again? This time with more feeling?

What?! I balked for 2 seconds in silence. In his whole life I have read him over 15,693 stories and he has never critiqued my delivery of a single line, not once.

Please Mom, for my sake?

Who is this kid and why does he say things I've never heard him say before that sound too mature to be coming out of his mouth?


Uh, okay, Judah, I'll try again - I'M SO EXCITED!!!!

And then Noah's voice pipes up - I can say it better Mommy - I'M SO EXCITED!!!!!

Thanks for the post-shout ringing sound in my ears, Noah.

Little brothers aside, six year olds who are turning seven soon are so much fun. Judah is turning that magical age - the first that I remember of my own life in full living color - in just a few weeks.

I'm so excited!!

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Sweet and Surly

Last week we went to a book fair and the kids instantly picked out what they wanted with zero hesitation.

Judah asked for a book that came with a pink bunny charm bracelet. (And cited the bunny charm as the main reason he wanted this book).


And Noah enthusiastically grabbed a book about villains that looks down right satanic. Seriously, every picture in this book looks like pure evil.


And that is now how I explain to people, in under 30 seconds, how different my kids are from each other.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

My Punny Sonny

What do you call a bullfrog with no legs?

I don't know, sad?

No, "unhoppy"!

What is an alligator's favorite drink?

I don't know, swamp juice?

No, "gator-ade"!

Judah told me these two jokes this week and I'm LOVING it. He knows I love puns and he saves them up for me, a few every week for the last 3 months or so.

He's so punny.


But what cracks me up the most is when he chooses a perfect phrase that seems way too mature for him. I'll never forget the time last year, when I sat at the kitchen table, pausing in weariness after taking a long sip of water.

Judah looked at me with anxious eyes and said, "There followed a dreadful silence..."

It was a direct quote from a Roald Dahl book we had been reading at bedtime, and it was perfect.

The dreadful silence was quickly swallowed up by mirthful chuckles, story of my life with kids.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Logical Larry

I'm starting to realize what a tight little logical mind Noah possesses. It's fascinating to me to watch my kid's inner mind unfold - one of the best things about parenting: figuring out who the heck they are and how they think.

Noah, much more than Judah, loves categories and distinctions. I caught a glimpse of this last year when he pronounced in a musing tone - Mommy, mommy...your penis is a vagina...but...our butts are the same!

It was a revelation to him.

Logical Larry in an outfit that defies logic

A delightful categorization of unmentionable parts - the stuff we hide behind undies and the distinction between genders. What is different? What is the same? I considered blowing his mind right then and there by telling him that males and females actually have the same kind of genital tissue, but at the fetus stage, various hormones cause the tissue to develop into a vagina or penis...but women technically have "under-developed" penises and some people are hermaphrodites.

But then I remembered he was 3...so I'll save it.

Last week, Noah revealed more of his love of logic in the car, this time on the topic of ciphers. He randomly asked me - Mommy, what is A + B?

This is a guy who has been doing simple arithmetic with numbers for over a year now so I know he was trying to extend that logic to a new category.

I answered..."AB"? "A, B"? Not wanting to guess the obvious punchline - C, so as not to steal his thunder.

He answered reliably - No, it's 'C', Mommy!

Oh! I said, pretending to be amused and surprised.

Yeah, he said, because A = 1 and B = 2 and C = 3.

Okay, I thought, he has a mind for ciphers. Which is amusing because never in his life did we ever talk about or play any games relating to ciphers.

And then, much to my further amusement, he went on - Mommy, what is C + D?

I thought, hmmm...I wonder if he's going to say the cop out answer - E? Would he just be lazily sequential instead of doing the hard work of logical consistency?

I don't know, Noah, I said, waiting for him to answer.

He paused for a good long minute and mumbled and finger counted and finally shouted out - G!

Why yes, my boy! My logical, cipher-loving, math-pondering boy!

And just to show me how he did it, he explained - Because C = 3 and D = 4 and 3+4 = 7 and G = 7!

And I thought, yes, my son. MY son. I have always loved logic and found the application of it to be wonderfully cleansing, something akin to that clean squeaky feeling you get when the dentist blasts each tooth with a water pick and scrapes all the plaque off your gums.

And then today, driving in the car, Noah's logical mind made me want to stick a screwdriver in my eye. He kept asking me, again and again, to explain the strange phenomenon he witnessed over the weekend.

We had attended a kid's musical of Willy Wonka and Noah was perplexed by the girl in the violet fat suit who was blown up with an air pump. She was not the same girl who played the "normal" Violet Beauregard, as the costume change was too quick.

Again and again, Noah pondered how she got so big, so round, and slightly taller in one second...on and on his questioning went for what seemed like an eternity to me.

Logic, a double-edged sword.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

FB: IRL

A couple weeks ago I made a pilgrimage of sorts.

I went to visit my longtime friend (favorite ex-college roommate) at her workplace - Facebook Headquarters, Menlo Park, the most expensive real estate perhaps in the entire nation.

I primarily went to reconnect with my friend, but part of me was also curious about the world I left behind when I decided to be a stay-at-home mom for the last four years. I always worked in SF, so a foray down to the tech capital would be novel, I thought.

What greeted me was a mishmash of elite college vibes, a lot of money, and a modern art museum.


Across their giant campus were many parking lots (filled to the gills with Maseratis, noticed the mom driving a Hyundai with a GIANT bird dropping on it, ugh) with valet parking and a premiere shuttle service linking each one. On top of each building was a rooftop garden perfectly landscaped to make you feel like you're walking through an Architectural Digest magazine spread, with an outdoor bistro on each, of course.

And parked in front of each building was my favorite feature, a set of shiny, light blue beach cruisers that employees used to bike to and fro on campus.

Inside each building was a giant open office plan and floor-to-ceiling glass walled conference rooms. There would be no jerking off in this place, you could be sure. I commented to my friend how, as a non-assertive introvert, this would be my workplace version of hell.

And hoodies. Lots of hipster hoodies with the white zipper flocking that you could buy for $19.99 at H&M.

My friend took me to eat at their gourmet cafeteria and bid me adieu at the end with snacks from their "snack room" chock full of organic, gluten-free goodness and drinks of every possible variety (it was seriously insane, think 7-11 for millionaires).

All this.

All this for what?

To prop up a social media empire.

But what is at the heart of this industry? What product is it selling? What service is it providing?

Connection. Connection? With "friends"?

And yet I couldn't help thinking of the article I read just a few days prior to my visit - about the link between social media use and depression. Not surprisingly, the longer a person is on social media, the more depressed that person gets. And it's CAUSATIVE, not correlative.

And we all know it to be true. Because lies.

Lies of omission.

A million status updates about baby births.
Only a handful about miscarriages.

A million status updates about weddings.
Only one that I've ever seen announcing a divorce.

A million pictures/videos of smiling kids.
None of a MULTI-HOUR meltdown.

A million beautiful vacation shots.
None of mundane office life or shopping at Walmart in elastic gray sweatpants with glasses and greasy hair (shut up, don't judge).

I could go on, but there's no need.

If you're marketing a substance that causes users to get sick, the FDA would pull you off the shelf. Is mental illness not as legitimate as physical harm?

At the very least, FB should come with a warning label: Being on this site for more than 10 minutes a day has been shown to cause mild to severe depression. Use responsibly.

Either way, being on the real FB campus was like being in an uneasy paradise. Like when a movie shows a happy scene with discordant strings in the background (think: Jaws). Something's off...but the grilled portobello mushroom steaks with balsamic dressing is amazing!

And in the end, the scene that stays with me is the wall of Latino and Black laborers in the dish-washing room being handed trays of dirty plates by White and Asian employees. A literal stainless steel half-wall dividing the races clear down the middle.

Now that's keepin' it real.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Story of My Life

I got the sweetest kid-made gifts for Mother's Day, but this "story" written by Judah was by far the most amusing. The kid gets an A+ for getting right to the point!

The Wonderful Mom

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful young lady named Christina. A couple years later, she met a handsome man named Michael Chung. After they dated, they...


...got married. Then after some years they had a baby. Christina did all the work. When she had another baby, she did the same. The End.


Pretty darn accurate, I'd say - especially about the childcare work distribution!

Friday, May 12, 2017

In which something really hit me...

Yesterday, as always, I braced myself for 3:30 pm, the time when both my kids would be home from school.

That's when I turn everything off so I can be totally "on" for them.

Need cuddles? Want to talk about your day? Want a story? A snack? A trip to the park?

I'm your woman.

I'm mentally prepared to handle anything they might dish at me - grumpiness, meltdowns, whining, boredom...

Or so I thought.

Yesterday really caught me off guard. Yesterday, they came home and...and...and...

...didn't need me.


They ran upstairs to play with each other. They traded Pokemon cards. They played a made-up game with our Uno card deck. The 6 year old read books to the 4 year old.

They played and they played and they played without any conflict for two hours.


At first, I stood around bewildered.

What is this weird feeling? Not being needed/summoned/demanded to do something while both my kids are around?

I think it's called freedom?

For someone who has spent the last 6 years of her life lurching from one loud "Mooooooooooommmmyyyyyyyyy!" call to the other, the silence was...deafening.

Disorienting.

Are we really moving on here? Are my kids really growing up? Is this how it feels to watch your kids grow in independence and healthy detachment?

If I've yearned for this day for the last 6 years, why does my heart feel so hollow?

Why does victory feel like loss?

Triumph, like emptiness?

But on the plus side, my kitchen never looked so clean on a Thursday afternoon.

Friday, May 05, 2017

In which my hackles rise

Here's a post you never see on my blog - the rant post.

But what good is a blog if you don't ever rant on it?!?!

The blog and it's anonymous voyeurs are the PERFECT catharsis for airing your totally bursting irritation at some horrible thing in the world so if you'll allow me...

People who run these kind of phishing scams should be publicly executed in the most torturous and humiliating way possible. Crucifixion is a good option.


There is just NO moral justification for this kind of evil. No "Robin Hood" balancing of thievery with social justice. The kind of people that it may be justified to steal from - the rich and sophisticated - would never fall for this kind of dumbass scheme.

It's the poor elderly people, the less sophisticated immigrants, the widow, the orphan, the sojourner, that may be tricked.

I wish, just once, just once, JUST ONCE, the faces of these hacking cowards would be exposed in public in a journalistic piece and we could all spit on them...and then wipe off our computer screens.

May you burn in hell, you disgusting excuse for a shell of existence, bottom-feeding scum sucker sludge. You are worse than pedophiles who at least have the excuse of a predisposition that is inborn in them. You, however, are just an ass-hole. A pre-meditating, code-writing, sociopathic ass-hole.

End rant.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

An eyeful, an armful, a heartful

This morning it was already 70 degrees by 8:00 am.

I took a jog through a gentle trail around a grand lake.

The surface of the lake was as still as a mirror. Even the ripples were like hand-drawn lines in a graphic novel.

I saw a doe stop right in front of me, and then proceed up the mountain, followed by two fawns. Me and my two kids, I thought.

I saw a bird stop right by me for the briefest fraction of a second, just enough time to see her beak filled with nesting straw. Time to build a home.

I saw wildflowers in bright pink and yellow scattered carelessly, abundantly.

And occasional breaks in the dense foliage that revealed EVERYTHING perfectly - sky, water, mountains, trees, bushes, grass, near and far.

And a little speck of a bird, a sparrow, I like to think, myself.