Archive for February, 2008

A Place To Call Home

Friday, February 29th, 2008

kitchen.jpg

 

I love my house, I really do. (I also love my town. I want to do a photo walk of its main drag one day, because it’s such an interesting street. Bums! Hippies! Surfers! And I would NOT have it any other way.)

 

But my main point for now: my house is great. It’s light, it’s bright, it’s open.

But it’s not mine. And that’s the thing.

 

We rent. Here in San Diego, if we didn’t rent, we’d be somewhere else. Somewhere we’re too spoiled to be. We even got pre-qualified for $546K about six months ago, but know that would only buy us a two-bedroom fixer and after paying the mortgage, we’d have no fixin’ money. And now, with the new rate restrictions, we qualify for much less. So we stay where we are.

 

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I really love this house. But it’s not mine.

 

It’s hard to completely attach to it. To claim it. To feel a part of it, rather than a person in it.

 

The irony (I’ve never used irony correctly) is that for most of my life, I’ve felt like a renter in one way or another. So the pull to own a home that is mine, really mine, is so strong that it’s always bubbling in me, and it’s a hurty bubble, like gas.

 

As a young kid, I never lived in any one city — or home — for long. Roughly once a year, we moved and so didn’t set down roots anywhere. I came to accept this as my life and it didn’t bother me too much. The world was big and I wanted to know it. BUT, I also wanted to belong. To be enmeshed in the community. To know the kids in my first grade class all the way through eighth grade. To say things like “remember that time Eddie threw up in science class?” “Or how about when Patty fell off the top of the slide?” But every year, I made a new best friend in a new town and right when they might become an old best friend, we moved.

 

Finally, we settled for 8 years in a Chicago suburb. We moved there smack dab in the winter and halfway through my fourth grade year. I’d grown used to taking it slow with people, not getting too attached, and so this was the way it went. But then! I went to fifth grade in the same school! And then sixth! And I graduated from the eighth grade at the SAME school! And I knew my neighbors and I saw the little kid next door grow up and I babysat for Sarah Lynn and would you look at her now?

 

When I went to high school. I attended with my best friend and other people I’d known for 5 years, a record. I began to feel a part of the flow of life in my town. To know the secret way to the ice cream shop. To know where to ride my bike. Where the best hot dogs were, how to take shortcuts through the golf course, where the town’s basketball hero ate lunch.

 

I was a Chicagoan. At least that’s how I defined myself.

 

Then, right after I graduated from high school, we moved again. To San Diego. And oh how I loathed San Diego. The town shone too bright, people were too frivolous, the palm trees looked fake. No one my age even talked about college, and if they did, it was how they had been going for 6 years. Meanwhile, my friends attended nice midwestern universities and carried their lives on, able to return home on break to the neighborhood where they’d lived forever. How I wanted that continuity in my own life.

 

I grew depressed in the new tract home where I now lived with my family. I watched my neighbor, the same age as me, from the window as he got in his car to meet friends and go out for the evening. I envied the easy assimilation into life, the comfort of acceptance, the familiarity of people, a place. I missed my friends, I hated the San Diego scene and I barely said a word to anyone for three months.

 

Eventually, I transferred to Marquette University in Milwaukee and felt like I was home again. I saw people I’d known since grade school and I belonged there. I was a part of their history, as they were a part of mine. I had a place.

 

But my parents lived in San Diego and so I was not a midwesterner anymore. I picked up after graduation and moved home, then spent the next six years between San Diego, Milwaukee, Chicago and Los Angeles. I was untethered and mobile.

 

Seven years after they’d moved to San Diego, my parents moved to Northern California, and again, I didn’t have a childhood home to return to, or call my own. By this time, my friends were getting married and having kids and making plans to put them in the preschool they’d attended as children. I felt like I didn’t have anything in common with them — the people who’d cemented my “belongingness” — and I was a floater, whereas they’d settled in one place and for them, everything remained as it always had.

 

I felt detached and unconnected, moving outside the flow of life, rather than inside it. I was an outsider. Not a Chicagoan anymore, not an anything. I lacked a definition. I wanted a definition.

 

When I met The Rock and soon moved to San Diego to be with him, I started anew. Yet this time, I began to like the city. He felt like home, and so did San Diego. Now, I’ve been here almost 10 years — longer than anywhere I’d ever lived, and I want to officially set roots down. And although I still call myself a “Chicagoan,” I know it’s not my home. My home is here, with my family, where my roots grow.

 

So I want a home that’s our own, where my kids know we’ll celebrate Christmas every year, where they’ll know the kids from school year to year to year, where they ride the best bike paths and find the quickest shortcut to the ice cream shop. Inside, I know home is where you make it, but I just can’t shake the feeling that I don’t completely belong in this house. We don’t own it. We carefully watch the imprints we make on it — the nicks, the smudges, because this house belongs to someone else.

 

I yearn to raise my kids in a house, our house, where 18 years later, I watch as my daughters make their way down the front walk to college. Then back again.

 

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I know how lucky I am to have a beautiful place to live. I despise my wanting more. Why can’t this be enough? What I want comes from the inside anyway. And I’m sorry I feel this way. Yet.

 

I love my house. But it’s not mine.

 

I Love This Poem

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Disillusionment Of Ten O’Clock

 

The houses are haunted

By white night-gowns.

None are green,

Or purple with green rings,

Or green with yellow rings,

Or yellow with blue rings.

None of them are strange,

With socks of lace

And beaded ceintures.

People are not going

To dream of baboons and periwinkles.

Only, here and there, an old sailor,

Drunk and asleep in his boots,

Catches Tigers

In red weather.

–Wallace Stevens

 

Oh how I’ve longed to be the drunken soldier, and not the white nightgown.

 

 

p.s. I’m bracing myself for some completely inappropriate Google ads…

 

Rarty Mix. Or, Some of the Best Kid’s Songs Out There

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

 

For Toot’s recent birthday, I gave out mix CDs of some of her favorite songs. They’re her favorites because I told her they were, but she does seem to like them on her own, too. Which is a plus.

 

I’m not crafty. I’ve said it before, but need to say it again, because it’s my label and I’m kind of attached to it.

 

So I’m trying my ding darndest to write “Toot’s Party Mix” nice and neat and craftily on these CDs, but I screwed one up and the last two words came out like “Rarty Mix,” which seemed so perfect simply for the fact that I am not perfect and I’m starting to embrace that fact.

 

Anyway! (Can you just imagine what it’s like to live with me? All these tangents of weirdness? It’s so much better in technicolor. I’m sure you’d agree.)

 

And now, I’d like to share my list of kid’s songs that will not result in lame kids who talk like Stuart. Please note that my rating system is ineffective and irrelevant, as I rated them all pretty much the same.

 

  • La La La La Lemon/Barenaked Ladies: It’s silly, but not in a Wiggles way, and it’s educational, but not in a Barney way. This song is exactly what you’d imagine a Barenaked Ladies song for kids to be: goofy and catchy. There’s a part at the beginning that I often think uptight moms might hate:

     

    Ed: “Someone left me this “L,” and I don’t know what to do with it.”

    Steve: “Why don’t you put it right in the middle of your forehead?”

     

    But beside that, I think teaching your kids that “L” is for “linoleum” is fresh. This is one of my favorites. 3.75 stars.

  • High Hopes/Frank Sinatra: I love the message: just keep trying, don’t stop believing or thinking about tomorrow, don’t stop, cuz it’ll soon be here. It’ll be here, better than before, yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone. {{Putting K-Tel’s Hits of the ’70s away now…}}

     

    Really, the message of perseverance is inspiring. And no, you don’t want your son or daughter ramming a billion kilowatt dam with their head, but that part’s not enunciated well, so they’ll probably just gloss right over it. 3.5 stars.

  • Grandma’s Feather Bed/John Denver: This song captures the essence of family and the excitement of going to grandma’s house. I loved my Grandma Hazel. She’d give me lemon custard ice cream and let me paw through her cosmetic jewelry drawer. And Grandma Rose sent me to the garden to pick rhubarb for pie while she knit me sock monkeys.

    John Denver’s grandma seemingly had the biggest bed in the world, because:

     

    It’d hold eight kids, four hound dogs

    And a piggy we stole from the shed

    We didn’t get much sleep but we had a lot of fun

    On Grandma’s feather bed

     

    This makes me feel smooshy inside. 3.5 stars.

  • Sing/Ivy: Toots makes me sing her this song when she has to walk to the bathroom at night. It’s a very effective monster repellant, this song. Forever more, Sing will remind me of when Toots was little. And every mom needs one of those. 3.25 stars.
  • Do-Re-Mi/My Favorite Things/The Lonely Goatherd/Sound of Music Soundtrack: It’s a triumvirate tie. These songs are fun, and by turns, soaring, operatic and epic. I’m a message girl and these songs ooze hope, coping, going after what you want and being the best you can be. 3 stars.
  • Little Liza Jane/Elizabeth Mitchell: A rhythmic melody. Easy for kids to sing along to. Much better than those creepy Kidz Bop songs.

    I don’t know, I’m just averse to hearing children sing Britney Spears’ “Toxic.”

    Instead, Little Liza Jane is folky, tamborine-clanging, hand-slapping fun. Highly recommended. 3 stars.

  • Jenny Jenkins/Lisa Loeb: I love Lisa Loeb for anything. Intelligent lyrics, emotional delivery, love, love, love. This song played for awhile on Noggin, I think it was, and Toots wished Lisa were her mother. But we’ve moved past it. 3 stars.
  • The Mighty Worm/Ralph’s World: “Everybody does what they do best, the best.” What more can I say? 3 stars.
  • Smickey/Terrible Twos: Burping and farting. And again I ask: what more can I say? 3 stars.
  • Love Train/O-Jays: An upbeat, “message” song. It makes you feel good, that’s all.

    And that’s enough isn’t it?

    So let me end here:

     

    People all over the world, join hands

    Start a love train, love train

    People all over the world, join hands

    Join a love train, love train

 

JW Tumbles is Happening

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

Par-Tay

 

A few weeks ago, we celebrated Toots’ birthday party at our local JW Tumbles (Pt. Loma).

 

It made me wonder why I ever do stuff for birthday parties. Things like planning and preparing and cooking and assembling and shopping. I just didn’t need to with JW Tumbles and let me say, the opportunity to do nothing came at the perfect time, since I’d been doing a bunch of something all month.

 

It worked like this: I called and asked to reserve the date and time I wanted.

I didn’t get it. But my third option ended up working beautifully (4PM on a Saturday) because kids would be done with naps and as an added bonus, they’d tire themselves out from all the JW play, that they’d fall asleep on the way home and mom and dad could get back to doing what they used to do on Saturday nights pre-kid. (Just be sure to lock the bedroom door first. You don’t want someone interrupting your Trivial Pursuit game.)

 

After I reserved the date, I paid a reservation fee ($95), that would go toward the full price of having the party at JW Tumbles ($345). I know this is a bit of cash. But I’m now in the habit of paying for my sanity and it’s been working out well for me.

 

JW does ask that you bring your own paper goods and any food you’d like (given the time, I just brought snacks — fruit, pretzels, goldfish — and cupcakes). But the real magic is that JW decorates for you, so you walk into the venue and see birthday magicalness all over the place. Magicalness you didn’t have to stay up late or get up early to create. The place itself is brightly colored and spacious. There’s slides and zip lines and smooshy blocks and this and that and the kids loved it.

 

Once the guests all arrive, the games start. Our host (“Funner Trainer”) ended up being a delightful, young guy with a Disney PG movie sense of humor (meaning it appealed to the kids AND adults). Best of all, he talked to the kids like they were people, not little Muppet heads with no brains. So, I liked that.

 

For about an hour, the kids romped and gallivanted and rollicked while the adults just stood there, staring. Most of us couldn’t get over the fact that we weren’t managing the fun, wiping noses or breaking up fights. Also, I think not ONE kid went to the bathroom.

 

So after we remembered how to talk to each other, the adults had some fun, too.

 

The Funner Trainer soon brought the kids to the table where they re-fueled on snacks, juice and cupcakes. Then it was back out to the action. Things ended with a “snowball fight” between parents and kids and a walk down the “red” carpet, where each guest took turns practicing their Fashion Week trot, while the birthday girl handed them their gift bags.

 

Then, I left. And someone else cleaned up.

 

The End.

 

What is the Word? Oh Yeah. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

girlsatroots.jpg

 

Today did not go down easy.

 

My exposed nerves pulsated and twitched and despite all, someone kept scraping them with a callous remover.

Those are the someones above.

 

Today was the opposite of a sensory deprivation tank. Rather, it was an IMAX theater of scrambling kids falling off beds, crawling onto my lap, jumping on tables, somersaulting over pillows, hiding in closets, throwing shoes, grabbing markers, opening drawers and soiling diapers.

 

And the omni-sound effects. The Lord in his heaven. Screaming and yelling and laughing and crying and whining and fighting and asking and refusing and spitting and shrieking and singing and moaning and whimpering and slamming and coughing.

 

Sometimes I wonder if I were cut out for motherhood. I tend to prefer noise on my own terms, not creeping up on you from under the table holding a half-eaten crayon. I scare easily, I’m high-strung and reactive. Not “pros” in the motherhood column.

 

Today was hard.

 

So was yesterday.

 

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Booger, living up to the name.

 

On the Topic of Eating Well

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

Toots: What’s for lunch?

 

Me: (thinking fast on my feet) Uh, something good.

 

Toots: And healthy?

 

(Oh, my sweet little pupil!)

 

Me: Yes. Good AND healthy.

 

Toots: How about pepperoni salad?

 

SUPA-STAH!

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

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My haiku won in the humor category over at My Mommys Place. It’s a great site. Their haiku contest is fun. Maybe they’ll have another one someday.
But better you don’t enter.
I’ll just win again and then you’ll feel real bad.

Don’t do that to yourself. You’ve got enough to worry about.

 

Here’s the winning humor haiku:

 

Online all the time

Husband going to leave me

I blogged about it

 

I don’t want to get all big for my mom jeans, but I thought I’d write a haiku in honor of my winning poem:

 

The humor winner

is San Diego Momma

Comedic genius

 

Zip it up, I’ll take it!

 

I have low blood sugar.

 

Now where was I?

 

Oh yes, I do want to say thank you to my prize sponsor, Twenty Five Days to Make a Difference. She is 10 years old. I’d write more about this remarkable kid, but I think you should visit her site and see for yourself. She dedicated her charity efforts to her grandpa. That’s enough to make me want to hug my kids right NOW, which is saying a lot as both of them are busy screaming and destroying my decorative peacock feathers.

 

I still have low blood sugar.

 

My prize went to help Compass House, an organization that provides shelter and guidance to runaway and homeless youth.

 

Haikus for charity!

 

I like it.

 

I Knew Better

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

…than to open the e-mail titled “With Tremendous Force and Volume.”