Waging war in the urban jungle

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The sweetest sound

Is silence! I said that the early bedtime is for Paulo's benefit but...truth be told...Momma needed some peace and quiet tonight! My brain, it's done. It's filled to capacity. My ability to Mommy him, that's done too. I'm not cranky (well maybe a little!) I'm just done! It's been a long and draining week. The end of the week coupled with the end of the month stress at the shop multiplied by tying up the end of the year to get my papers to my accountant-oh and add a teenager studying for finals-yeah, I'm done. Stick a fork in me! I feel flat. Blah. One dimensional. So I did what any Mom would do, I put my child to bed early! And really it is for his well being too. #1 he needs more sleep. #2 he doesn't need to be around Cranky Mommy! We ended our evening on a high note, a little snuggle, a little Berenstein Bear story and now a lot of silence.

I love silence. Rene loves to have the TV on. Even as background noise in the morning. I come down early-cause again I need some silence before the noise starts-and I start breakfast in peace and quiet. He comes down...and turns on the news. I'm not fond of the news. It's filled with negativity. The worst of society gets the most energy and attention. Just once I'd like to see a news station that only celebrates the good things people do and honors those of us that are just doing our thing and living life respectful of ourselves, the planet and our fellow man. But...they'd never be able to see ad spaces, so in the absence of revenue they will continue with the negativity. During the summer, when I don't have to rush two kids out the door to school, I let them sleep and I have time alone after Rene leaves for work. I LOVE that first moment of pure, sweet silence when I turn off the TV. It's kind of like that relief I get in that first second after I turn off the lights at night. I love that feeling, it's so soothing.

I'm going to enjoy my time alone right now. I can feel my body recharging, kind of like Wall-E when he recharges his battery you see the little lines adding up and then hear that chime....I haven't heard my chime yet but I'm getting there!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Awkward pauses

A local basketball hero gave all Portland area parents an excellent starter to a very awkward conversation today. Apparently this young man, and he is barely old enough to drink, in a moment of poor judgement, or pure stupidity, decided to take a couple photos of himself and text them to his lady friend. Well, he really should be more careful in who he chooses to befriend since this "lady" released the photos to the media. Yes, Greg was neked. So, I got to have a sexting talk with my 14 year old. I'm sure he was mortified. It's not easy to discuss such things with a parent but I did feel like it opened the door.

It opened the door to talk about the basic idea of THINK before you act! Think about what you're doing. Think about the fact that these photos can come back to haunt you. Think before you post on facebook. I've told him that he needs to consider everything he posts on facebook to be there for eternity. Yes you can delete a risque photo or a stupid comment but just because you've erased it doesn't mean that someone, somewhere, hasn't snagged a screen shot or saved the photo to their computer. If you wouldn't want your mother seeing it...don't post it. If you wouldn't want your future college admissions counselor seeing it...don't post it! If you would be embarrassed if your future boss googled your name and the photo popped up...don't post it! To be honest, I am eternally grateful that I am not going through my teenage years in the height of the internet. I am quite sure there would be embarrassing pictures of me on there somewhere if facebook was the media giant then that it is today.

It also gave me an opportunity to talk about what we would expect from him if he were to receive such a photo. Do not forward it on! Don't do that to another human being! It gave me a chance to ask him why does he think a person would forward a sexually explicit photo. He's honest, to look cool. Yes, in that moment you might score some cool points but do you know that if you get caught doing that you could get busted for distribution of child porn? Do you really want to have to register as a sex offender? No, my son, those cool points are so not worth it!

These are ongoing conversations that all parents must have. If I don't tell him, explicitly, that I consider it unacceptable for him to forward a photo of a naked person he can interpret my silence as approval. And I do not approve. If I don't tell him, explicitly, that I expect him not to drink, not to take drugs, not to smoke, etc., then too he can assume my silence is approval. And I do not approve. I have always tried to answer his questions honestly and without judgement. I hope that we can keep the lines of communication open as he continues through high school. I know he's not going to confide in my all his inner secrets, but I hope he knows he can talk to me without me freaking out.

So I will soldier on through awkward conversations filled with painful pauses and embarrassed giggles-cause that's what I think good Mommas do!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

But no one else is sick...

This is what my darling husband said to me this morning over breakfast when I told him my throat hurt. Struck me funny! Yes, Rene, it's true, Moms can get sick all by themselves it is not always dependent on the kids bringing home the germs!

My secret weapon in the war on veggies

Well really the war for veggies I suppose. Paulo loves Dijon. He loves all things sour, salty and a little spicy. I stumbled across this recipe for a veggie sauce while watching the Food Network during our housebound stint with piggy flu last October.

Simple ingredients:

Simple instructions:

Juice 1/2 of a lemon.

Add 1/2 tsp Dijon

Whisk in 1 tbsp olive oil

salt to taste

Pour over broccoli and watch it magically disappear! Last night Paulo actually asked for MORE broccoli!! When I was little my Momma made a gooey cheese sauce to pour over the overcooked broccoli and cauliflower. You couldn't taste the veggie beneath it and I suppose that was the point. This stuff is so good that it was enticed my 5 year old to eat roasted turnips and at least try roasted brussel sprouts-we're still working on liking that one!

Monday, January 25, 2010


Webster defines "happiness" as good fortune, a state of well being & contentment and a pleasurable or satisfying experience. Seems simple enough. Yet it is so ellusive for so many. Why is that? I've personally struggled with the reality/fantasy conflict. In my fantasy world my marriage is filled with roses, gifts, wineing and dining...there's plenty of wine and dine in my reality but I'm the one buying the bottle and cooking the meal! In my fantasy world I am surrounded by a loving and affectionate family who settles down contentedly every holiday and at least once a month on top of that. My reality is that getting my side of the family together takes a lot of effort and planning. We're busy people! My fantasy is that my children are always neat, tidy and polite....reality-don't get me started! But really, is my reality bad? No! Not at all! I'm grateful for my family. I'm grateful for my marriage and most of all I'm grateful our health. We have been blessed with good fortune and should be appreciative. We also have to work at maintaining our happiness.

Children seem to have a naturally high happiness capacity. Yet the older they get the more they seem to lose that. They, like us, become obsessed with things. They become busier and busier with each passing year. I look at my 5 year old and see how joyful, loving and happy he is. Then I look at my sullen 14 year old and think....not so much. Yes some of it is simply his personae, bravado even, after all he's supposed to be grumpy, he's 14. But I worry sometimes that he's losing his capacity for happiness. There is so much stress and worry today for kids. Bad news everywhere you turn. Constant technology demands on their attention. Higher and higher expectations, pressure to excel at every little thing or you...will.....never....succeed! But you cannot be the best at everything and that simple truth can be so crippling for many.

I want to guard my children's happiness. They deserve it. They deserve happy, carefree, childhood memories. How to do that though? We have to show them how to appreciate what they have by doing that ourselves. It really isn't about how big the TV is or how many songs your IPOD will hold. We have such abundance today but so little happiness. We have to talk about happiness with our children. I ask Paulo if he's happy, I'm always thrilled to hear his Yes! We need to share with them when we are happy and why. We have a great capacity for love and joy but we've gotten away from it. I know I have. I get caught up in the day to day grind, the competition for bigger, better, brighter and faster. When that happens I feel my soul wasting away. I have to stop and remind myself off all the things I have to be happy for.

  1. Quiet mornings alone with a good book
  2. Big bear hugs from little boys
  3. Beautiful sunrises
  4. Surprise kisses
  5. Hard work outs
  6. Solving soduku puzzles
  7. Clean houses
  8. Good friends
  9. Fine wine

Be happy my friends we are worth it.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Do as I say...

My hypocrisy is showing. I'm not proud. I tell my children to do the right thing, to do what they know is right in their hearts, to listen to themselves, follow their instincts. Yet why is it so hard to follow my own advice?

My 2010 Resolution was to seek balance. I'm not a balanced person, I am an all or nothing. I work out constantly...then I get sidelined for weeks at a time. I eat super healthy all week....then overindulge on the weekend and end up staring at 5 extra pounds every Monday. I micromanage every penny in the bank account....then I stick my head in the sand and ignore it. That one usually bites me in the butt. So my promise to myself in 2010 was to work on my balance. We're 22 days into 2010 and I've already failed that one a few times. Ohhh, failed, such a harsh word isn't it? Have I failed? I can think of two instances for sure that I knew what I should do but did the opposite. So, what is that? A 9% fail rating? Let's round it up for arguments sake and say 10%. 10% of the time I'm not being true to myself and doing what I know is best for me. So, over the course of a year at least two to three times per month I'm going to be let myself down. Then the anger kicks in. At myself of course. It lasts approximately 4 days. So, we've got the one day indiscretion and the four days of self loathing, which frankly often lead to additional indiscretion(s) in the form of staying up too late or having an extra after work cocktail with the hubs...or two.. and a few more days of kicking myself, so really am I looking at spending 30-35% of my life angry.....at myself?? But let's face it, if Momma is angry at anyone-including herself-everyone feels it! All snowball effect from me not being adult enough to do the right thing. Yikes. I've never really looked at the math before, and really, I think I'm being generous in my self assessment. Ouch.

So, what do I need to get it done? You know what I wish I had? A Mommy. Mine died. Even before she died though she wouldn't have been coming over to take care of me. Still, I wish I had a Mommy...or a wife. I could use an extra wife! Especially around the holidays! I often feel like I work two jobs, one a full time job, the other a 24/7 job. Leaving our shop and driving home is just commuting from one job to another. Seriously though I know what I need to do, so why is it so hard? Am I really just as emotionally immature as my children? I'd like to think I was a little more evolved but man, sometimes I am not sure.

I'm going to make a public pledge to myself here and now:

I promise to get no less than 7 hours of sleep per night!
I promise to drink no more than 2 drinks at any given time
I'll start with those two things because those are two things that seriously effect my state of mind and my ability to care for my family. A therapist of mine once told me that when we choose to do bad things, i.e. overeat, get drunk, stay up too late, take drugs, etc., then we're really being selfish because ultimately someone else will have to pick up the slack in the work/family environment or take care of us when we get really sick from our lifestyle choices. I don't want to be selfish. I have to take care of myself. I have to practice what I preach and do what I know is the right thing to do. Do as I DO, not just as I say. Spending nearly a third of my life angry, first at myself and later at everyone else by association, is no way to spend the precious time we have on Earth. I love my family, they deserve a happy, healthy, whole and balanced Mother.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

7 Eleven

Politics so soon? Really? It's only my 3rd post...eh, what the heck, I'll dive in!

I'm reading the fall out over the Mass. Senate race. I see so much angry finger pointing at the President. Seriously, people, he's a human being. He's taken, in my opinion, one of the toughest jobs on Earth at one of the darkest times most living Americans can remember. And he's stuck right in the middle of a damned if you do...damned if you don't....If he rocks the boat to try to make a change then he's going to piss people off, after all we humans fear change. If he maintains the status quo and changes nothing he's going to piss people off, he said he'd make some changes!! So, what should he do? Sit on his hands or act on his ideals? I've always told my boys that it is better to try and fail than to never try. So, President Obama, keep fighting the fight. Keep trying, despite unfathomable odds against you, to push forward what you, and many other Americans, believe is best for our country and our future. Never let fear of failure prevent you from trying!

He's trying! He's trying to get adequate health care for the millions of uninsured or underinsured Americans-I truly believe it is a disgrace that we cannot meet the medical needs of our children, if we don't take care of them now how will they take care of us in the future? He's trying to get food on your tables by extending unemployment benefits. He's trying to get books into the hands of your children and teachers that are qualified to use them. But, here's the kicker, he's human. He does not have a crystal ball in which to peer and tell you that your house values will recover or your 401K will bounce back this year. The last time I checked he was mere Muggle and did not take office equipped with a Phoenix feathered magic wand that he can simply wave and wash away all our troubles. He's a man, a mortal man doing an incredibly difficult job. We lifted him up to mythic status during his campaign. We wanted a hero, we needed a hero, we did get a hero, he just needs our patience, faith and whole lot of cooperation.

Where does 7-Eleven factor in? That's us. We are 7-Eleven. We want it all and we want it right this second! We want to get rich quick. We want to lose weight quicker. We demand to be able to change our oil at 2 am and then grab a Big Mac on the way home. There are no limits on the hours or the means in which we conduct business. EMail, texting, IM'ing, all of it make us accessible to others 24/7. We are impatient. We are hurting. We are scared. And we want to blame someone. Yet, the financial mess America is in did not develop in a bubble. Yes, there were countless unscrupulous bankers who pocketed big bucks in bad real estate loans. Yes, there were corporate execs who financially benefited from all of the wheeling and dealing on Wall Street. But there were also millions of tiny, everyday, decisions that we all made that also contributed to the fall. And there will be millions of tiny, everyday, decisions that we must make differently now to lift ourselves up. Washington can never fix our problems. Washington did not leverage our homes to pay for family vacations. Washington did not take out loans to pay for our breast implants. Washington does not let our children skip school, skip homework, eat too much sugar, etc., etc. We are responsible for our choices. I know there are millions of hurting Americans. Oregon has some of the highest unemployment stats around. It's tragic. I see the impact every single day, but I truly believe it will get better, unfortunately it will take time and time is not something many of us are willing to give.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Lost my superhero cape today

Motherhood is one big game of good vs evil. I spend my time on guard ready to shoot down negative or frightening images, foul language and violence. Much like the Wonder Woman of my childhood I am constantly on the defensive, using my bracelets to deflect bullets!

Ack! The news is on and they're showing the destruction in Haiti, pew! pew! change the channel quick! Yikes!! Sexy Chick is playing....again...for the millionth time on the XM, pew! pew! switch stations! Whoa! It is a "family friendly" show but someone forgot to tell the advertising agency....and so on and so forth, day in and day out!

It's not that I don't have sympathy for Haiti, you'd have to be made of stone not to, in fact if I could I'd adopt three or four. It's just that if I, a 35 year old woman, am stunned and saddened so deeply by the images how will my 5 year old process them? If the pictures I see keep me up at night what will it do to Paulo? The Powerpuff Girls give him nightmares for goodness sake! And, who doesn't like a good hip hop song while sweating it out on the treadmill? But really, have you listened to the lyrics? Definitely not meant for my Kindergartner's ears. So, yes, I am fully engaged in the battle of good vs evil and I have a lot riding on my winning the battle and protecting my young. I am a Momma Bear. I am Wonder Mom, defender of my child's innocence!

Imagine my surprise, and horror, when I realized that I, in my haste and absent mindedness, endangered the well being of one of Paulo's classmates! In Paulo's class, as in millions of classes across the country, we are peanut free. We have a dear classmate that is very, very allergic to tree nuts. We all know this. We discussed it when school began. We get frequent reminders sent to the whole school by the director. I dutifully bought the sunbutter alternative so my kid would not have to go without PB&Js for the rest of his school career...well SB&J's really, but who's counting? So, what on Earth was I thinking when I popped a treat into my son's lunch box this morning and grabbed a mini Reese's Peanut Butter cup?! I realized it in the car after school. It hadn't fully registered when I saw my son get his treat out of his lunch box when I picked him up at Grandma's house and he told me he hadn't had time to eat it. I didn't question immediately why his dessert was wrapped in a paper towel and then sealed in a plastic bag (many thanks after the fact to our ever present and always aware teacher!). But as we were driving to the gym he mentioned his classmate's name and I gasped! Scared the heck out of him! In the instant I was flooded with awareness guilt, shame, self loathing...and more than a little irrational fear quickly followed. Would I be run out of the class? Would her Mother ever say hello to me again? Would Paulo be shunned because of my error? Of course the logical side of my brain kicked in, briefly, and reminded me that this was not the first time nor the last that an allergic child would be inadvertently exposed to a peanut treat but the guilt was terrible! In four months of lunch packing I had not slipped once! I even make him wash his face and hands if he has nutella at breakfast, in reality he needs to regardless he's a very messy eater, but I take extra care to get all traces of the potential life threatening spread off his face. I truly have no clue what occurred this morning, I suppose I can only call it a case of brainus interruptus. A temporary loss of sanity. A...well whatever it was, I am quite sure it won't happen again. Allergies are serious business and even something as innocent as an after lunch treat could cause harm...pew! pew! No more Reeses!!

At least he's reading!

My son is 5. He loves words, always has. As a book worm myself that thrilled me to my very core. We would sit for hours and read board book after board book after bored...err, board, book. Once he could talk he would recite them word for word, again THRILLED Momma here! It was my personal goal to teach him to read before he started Kindergarten, not sure why that was so important to me but it was, and we succeeded. He was reading simple books before he started school this past September. Now he amuses himself by reading street signs and business names as we drive about town. Last week we found our car stopped at a light in front of Tobacco Town in SW Portland. I listened as he struggled to sound out Tobacco, he hadn't quite gotten it so I nudged him in the right direction. Which inevitably led to a discussion of what exactly IS tobacco and why he should never, ever, ever smoke it. It was a convenient two for one since my teenage son was also in the car with us. I hoped my words would sink it, but didn't know until today that my message had indeed took hold in his tender brain. Today we were stopped at the same light, we often hit the red during this part of our commute, and again he reads the name Tobacco Town and tells me that he doesn't ever want to go in there! Looks a few feet to the left however and says "Cold Beer! Mmmm mmm! I want to get some of that!" Well....at least he's reading right?