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Rainbow “Sherbert”

June27

When I was a little girl my Grandmother would take us to Thrifty Drugs to get ice cream.

She would let us get a double scoop and I almost always chose Chocolate Brownie and Rainbow Sherbet. Rainbow Sherbet still reminds me of my Grandma and summer and the sweet days of childhood. I lost my Grandma on a summer day 10 years ago. The first day of summer, to be exact. It was too soon. She was not quite 80 and she was one of the most important people in my life. She wasn’t just my grandma, she was also one of my dearest friends and biggest advocates. She always gave me the freedom to be myself and encouraged me to explore my imagination.

One summer day when I was about 10 we were supposed to leave on a camping trip with my parents, but for reasons beyond our control the trip had to be postponed a day. Being a kid I remember being really disappointed. All the excitement and build-up of leaving on a trip was dashed when we found out we’d have to wait another day and sleep another night in our boring old beds under our same old roof. So my Grandma came to the rescue. She took my sisters and me to Thrifty’s to get an ice cream cone. Only this time she did something she’d never done before. She told us we could get a triple scoop. We’d never gotten a triple before! And I’m not sure that I have since. But that simple gesture made our day. It erased all the sadness attached to having to postpone our trip. I’m sure she didn’t give it a second thought, but my sisters and I have revisited that memory many times. Sometimes life calls for 3 scoops and usually it’s your Grandma who will recognize when it does!

Begging for Change…

February16

Yet another teenager approached me last nite asking for money. What is the world coming to? I mean, I am a self-confessed slacker who lacks ambition, but still, I have never begged for money. Well, if  you don’t count my parents when I was a kid. But what I don’t understand is where these kids’ parents are? Why are these teens allowed to roam the streets after dark hitting up unsuspecting passersby? Why aren’t they home doing their homework, or making my fries at McDonald’s? What happened to the good old fashioned work ethic? I got my first job while I was still in high school and once I was getting a paycheck, I had to pay for my own gas…no free ride for me.  Of course I was still living and eating at home for free, but my point is, I had some sense of responsibility and parents who at least knew where I was.

I remember in my mid-20’s, when I was working 30+ hours a week and going to school full time, one day these pan-handling kids smoking cigarettes asked me if I could spare some change…um, NO! I mean, they were my age or younger. They were able-bodied and yet they wanted my hard-earned money. I don’t think so! Okay, if you’re disabled or slightly crazy I might take pity on you. But if you’re just lazy and arrogant, heck no! It concerns me that some kids have no sense of earning their own way.

I was just lamenting to a friend the other night that I worry about my girls having too much.  I love them and want to give them everything, but not to their detriment. I’m not looking to raise a couple of Veruca Salts. There has to be balance. The challenge then, is learning how to be generous without giving them entitlement issues.  I have, as of late, been trying to inforce the old chore list. I am lax about it at times, while other times I crack the whip. But hopefully they’ll glean something from being forced to contribute to their community–both at home and at large. I want them to have generosity of spirit too.  The good news is they are both very compassionate by nature, so I don’t worry about them too much. They have great hearts so I think they’ll turn out alright, despite my shortcomings as a role model.

The main thing I want them to know is, there are no free rides. Even though my youngest says she’s going to live with me forever (and I would let her) I’m pretty sure she will change her 6-year-old sensibilities at some point.

Still, this recent increase in able-bodied, pan-handling youth begs the question, have their parents failed them? Or has society as a whole somehow sent this generation the wrong message? Well, I for one refuse to perpetuate that lie. And anyway, you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need. Even a bunch of hippie musicians knew that!

To tweet or not to tweet…that is the twuestion…

February16

Opposites attract. No news there. But some are more opposite than others. My husband and I once had a marriage counselor tell us we are so different, he wasn’t sure how we got together. Not the most helpful thing for a counselor to say, but still, it was kind of funny. We actually balance each other out pretty well, most of the time. Things seem to be extremely great or extremely, well, not so great. Although, I have to say, the extremes seem to be getting less extreme, now that we are getting older and (hopefully) wiser. We have learned to compromise more, lower our expectations and appreciate the differences, instead of being disheartened by them. I think they call that maturity, but don’t get me wrong, we ain’t out of the proverbial woods yet.

Anyway, one example of our many differences is that my husband is a computer nerd and I am a book worm. He and our girls can spend hours at a time playing their latest obsession, Minecraft.

In fact, they’ve even started their own website, minecrap.com, where they post episodes of themselves demonstrating the game. It’s a neat way for them to bond, but despite my husband’s best efforts, I’m usually in the other room reading. I have no desire to play a computer game and even watching them makes me a little dizzy.

But in an ongoing effort to break me out of my technology-challenged shell, he’s been trying to get me to tweet. He even set up an account for me awhile back, but I don’t know what I’m doing. In fact, my one and only tweet said just that. “I don’t know what I’m doing.” That was the beginning and end of my twitter career. But tonite he decided that he would generate some followers for me.  Not that I didn’t already have a few random people following me, even though there was nothing to follow. But what’s the point of generating new interest when I still don’t know how to tweet? He says he’ll show me. So I guess I’ll give it a try.

I’ve already decided to join the 21st century and get a smart phone, so I guess I might as well learn how to fully utilize it.  Still, I’m a reluctant techie. I am the bookish yang to his computer yin. But I draw the line at buying an electronic reader. I love my books in all their tangible greatness. Their smell, texture, the sound of their pages turning…you won’t get me to sell out on that front at least. But that’s another blog…for now, I will simply attempt to learn how to tweet, at least occasionally,…one small tweet for me, one giant leap for twitterkind…

Oh yeah, follow me on Twitter @blogmom

Kids These Days!…

January10

Earlier this evening, about an hour before sunset, I took the girls to a nearby park so they could ride their scooters. I kept hoping the sun would come out, but it never did and so by 4:30 I could stall no longer. Unfortunately when we arrived at the park, it was occupied by several Jr. Highers or maybe younger High Schoolers, who were being very obnoxious. One in particular kept yelling, out of the blue, for no particular reason. Finally, when she did it as my kids were going down the slide right next to where she was standing, I asked her, “Is that really necessary?” To which she replied, “Sorry, I didn’t take my medication today.” I wanted to smack her. I’m sure she fancies herself a clever little thing, but she was rude and disrespectful and I was thinking to myself, where is your mother? How come you’re unattended at the park on a Saturday evening nearing dusk.

I could blame the parents, and to some extent, I do. There’s no way my girls will ever be traipsing about alone at that age. And furthermore, I would hope they acted better than that if the circumstance presented itself. My 9 year old was annoyed by her and said she felt like telling her to shut-up, but I told her the best thing to do in those situations is ignore the person, that getting into an argument didn’t solve anything, just provoked a fight. Obviously I didn’t take my own advice, and the little wit continued with her outbursts, as well as making a few other rude remarks the rest of the time we were there. I guess it was a teachable moment, because we talked about it on the ride home.

One thing I will say about my children, they are generally well-behaved when they’re with other adults. They save their sassy and their naughty for me. Which is fine, because it’s my job to deal with those things. And even though they’re not perfect by any means, at least they know what’s expected of them out in the world.

I was a silly girl (still am) but generally speaking I wasn’t rude to people. Okay, with the exception of a German teacher who spoke to us in Spanish, but that’s a whole other blog. Anyway, the point is, I always had a healthy fear of my mother. I knew if I did something wrong, she’d find out about it. And frankly, I was usually so guilty I told on myself. I believed she had eyes in the back of her head, and I believed if I’d ever been so bold as to go somewhere I wasn’t supposed to, she would just happen to drive by.

My parents were strict with us. Not to a ridiculous level, but enough that they protected us from the things that they knew might possibly ensnare us. As a result, I was in my 20’s before I had to make any real decisions about morality and such, and since my values were already well instilled, it wasn’t difficult for me to make the right choices. I credit my parents for sheltering me as long as they did and honestly, I’m even more protective of my girls. Sequoia just went to her first sleep over with a non-family member last month–she’s almost 10. I was doing that kind of thing around 6. But times were different–maybe things were safer or maybe ignorance is bliss, but whatever the case, my sisters and I came through our childhoods relatively unscathed.

In all honesty, I felt a little sorry for that obnoxious girl. Obviously, she needed some attention, negative or otherwise. And obviously, her parents don’t keep too right a rein on her, which gives me a little insight into what her home life must be like. Anyway, suffice to say we all gained a little life perspective this evening…and I remembered why I hated subbing for High School….

Big trees, sweet memories and a little bit of melancholy…

September15

Washing the smell of pine from my body is always bitter sweet. Sweet because, after almost 3 days with no shower, being clean is a much needed luxury. Bitter because, it means I have just returned from my annual visit to my mountain home–Sequoia National Park.

While the beauty is breathtaking from any perspective, for me it holds extra meaning, because it evokes memories of my younger days, my first home away from my parents, and a coming of age that took place the summer of my 18th year. Although it seems strange to say out loud, that was 20 years ago. It seems like yesterday, and also like a lifetime ago. I spent 3 months there, working as a maid in one of the hotels and living in a small community with some of the coolest people I’ve ever met.

But it’s been almost 10 years since they tore it all down to allow the trees to return to their natural state. When the Giant Forest Lodge was built in the 1920’s, and later the hotels down the road,  they didn’t realize that building on the roots of the giant Sequoias was detrimental to the trees.  Even as I lived and worked there, plans were in the works to restructure the park. Lodging was moved up the road a ways, out of the way of the giants, and a museum now stands where I once ate my meals and bought my groceries.

There is a certain melancholy I have upon returning. Those mountains and trees are like long lost friends. We’ve fallen out of touch, but upon seeing each other again, it’s as if no time has passed at all. I see how much has changed, for the better, over the past 20 years, but it is still strange to point to where my cabin once stood in a community that’s since been turned into a picnic area. There are those who will never know what it was like, and that’s okay,  because it is best for preservation’s sake. But there are those who remember as well as I do, what it was like to live among the giants, if only for a small moment in time.

Related links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant_Forest_Lodge_Historic_District

http://www.nps.gov/archive/seki/snrm/gf/new/museum.htm

Over-sized shopping carts and the havoc they wreak…

August15

The other day at Target, my 4 year old wanted me to get one of those ginormous carts that can hold 3 kids plus cargo. Have you seen them? They are a monstrosity. I appreciate that, for the right person, they may be a necessity, but I have 2 kids, ages 9 and almost 5…thus, I don’t need a baby seat and two buckle seats in order to shop successfully…thank GOD! Anyway, luckily, there was no such cart available when we entered the store, so I got away with using a normal cart….UNTIL, we were about to leave and she spotted one. So, I ended up pushing it from the toy department, where it had no doubt been abandoned by some other poor woman, until we got out to the parking lot. I swear they are worse than the “car” carts in the grocery store (which incidentally, my children insist upon riding in, but stay in for all of 5 minutes, or long enough for me to fill my cart with groceries, then bail out, leaving me to push a hard to navigate cart for the rest of my trip, while looking like an utter fool, because there are no kids riding in front.) While they do serve a utilitarian purpose, and hypothetically help keep your children restrained/entertained, I wonder if anyone actually tested those things out on real Moms, before releasing them to the public? Frankly, you need special training to maneuver these carts and not take out 3 displays while rounding the corner. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve run into something (or someone) I could hire someone else to do my shopping! At least the grocery shopping. Even I, a self-proclaimed shopaholic, hate that. Except when my girls were babies, and it was an excuse to get out of the house and have a few moments to myself. Then, and only then, was grocery shopping an odd kind of luxury.

It takes a long, long time to find a Marathon Bar…

July9

It’s true, I have finally tracked down the only reasonable facsimile to the 1970’s candy bar–the Marathon.  It wasn’t without help. I had actually forgotten about my two-decade old quest until recently, when I was reminded by an old friend via Facebook. Anyhoo, it got me thinking, and searching. Don’t you just love Google? We sooo didn’t have that in the 80’s! and I found a site devoted to the marathon bar. Ain’t life grand?

http://www.victoryseeds.com/candystore/confectioners/news/news_marathon_bar.htm

The bright red package, complete with a ruler on the back, made it stand out in the candy aisle and at the check Marathon Bar circa 1975out stands.  However, despite the memorable advertising campaigns and the colorful imagery, sales expectations were not met and Mars, Inc. pulled it from the shelves in October of 1981.”

Sadly, after only 8 years of life, it had been discontinued, as I suspected. The last time I had gone looking for one was circa 1988, and even back then, there were none to be found. Alas, the Marathon Bar has gone on to that great candy store in the sky

BUT!…the website went on to say this:

“Cadbury sells a bar called “Curly Wurly” that is nearly identical to the old Mars Marathon bar.  Right now it is only sold into Germany, New Zealand, Netherlands, Canary Islands, Canada, France, Spain, Malta, Ireland, Faroes, Iceland, and the UK.  We are looking into the possibility of getting our hands on some of these if there is enough interest.  Let us hear from you on the matter.”http://www.victoryseeds.com/candystore/images/mars/curly_wurly.jpg

Armed with this new information and the wonderful world wide web, I continued my search and found that the Curly Wurly was available for order online in the U.S. Now all I needed was some disposable income.

But, in the meantime, while I remained both penniless and candyless, another friend-of-my-friend, having read our exchange, tipped us off that he had tried the CW and it was, in-fact, similar to the MB…and,…wait for it…he had bought it at Cost Plus. Imagine my delight! There is a CP a mere 15 minutes from me and you can betcha I went there post-stat to investigate. And I was not disappointed. I bought two–which showed tremendous restraint on my part–and promptly ate the first immediately upon leaving the store. And I am happy to report that Cadbury’s Curly Wurly not only looks like the old Marathon bar, it tastes like it too, if my memory and my tastebuds serve me correctly. Oh happy day! This is a great victory for Marathon lovers everywhere who have yearned for the bar of yore.  Although I had remembered it being much longer than the 8 inches it is–I guess there’s something to be said for childhood innocence. Nonetheless, I am happy to have found an old favorite, even though the fact that I’m nostalgic about candy is rather telling…

Road Trips, Cinnamon Rolls and Thumbs Up!

July7

I was cramming my face full of an IKEA cinnamon roll tonite when a little boy looked over at me and gave me the thumbs up. I took this as a sign that I was doing the right thing. I rode shot-gun as my friend drove down to Burbank this evening, to retrieve some hardware for a bed she’s putting together whose hardware was AWOL.  It was actually quite therapuetic, to just ride, sans-kids, for 3 hours, round trip. I also got a tasty dinner out of the deal–CPK thin crust pesto and chicken pizza.  And I spent $3 on 3 dish-scrubbers, some gummy rats (for the girls) and a pair of rubber gloves. I think that’s the least I’ve ever spent at IKEA, but since I am flat busted, I gave myself a $5 max and came out well under budget. Then of course, I had to get a cinnamon roll, because my blood sugar was low after an hour of shopping, plus they’re only $1, which means it’s our American duty to eat one. Cheap food requires consumption, it is written. All in all, it was a lovely ending to a somewhat stressful day and helped me forget my worries for awhile. Something about good conversation, the open road and well, cinnamon rolls, that just makes your troubles melt away.

Backyard Science

March25

Another Spring is upon us, and with it has come another chance for us to observe nature up close.

Last year we watched a mother bird on our front porch working to get her baby back to safety. (See “A Mother’s Instinct) This year, we are in a new house and recently a pair of doves built their nest on a shelf on our back porch.

I know from past experience that they tend to build their nests near overhangs or in hanging planters. But this spot is so close to our back door I wasn’t sure they would stay. However, we looked out this afternoon and the mama was sitting on the nest…and a bit ago we noticed she has laid an egg. My girls were a bit concerned that she was not sitting on her egg, but I read an article that said they sometimes leave after laying the first egg to find food, before laying their second egg.

Doves mate for life and live from 7-11 years. During each nesting season they can lay between 4 and 5 clutches–each clutch is usually 2 eggs.

I feel honored that they have chosen our porch as their temporary home. It is so exciting to watch life emerge, in any form, but especially wonderful when we get to see something up close that is usually reserved for the wild. And I always love the chance to point out nature to my girls, so that they can have a better understanding, appreciation and respect for the living things around them.

To read more about Mourning Doves or find the information I referenced, check out http://www.wallpaperbydesign.net/doves/