Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What we're missing.

Our Old House:

31940 Daniel Way, Temecula, CA 92591
I have a love/hate relationship with our old driveway. The pavers are fantabulous to look at when they're not weed-ridden. However, there was just enough side yard access to park our boat and the house was exactly twenty years newer than our most recently purchased home.

31940 Daniel Way, Temecula, CA 92591
I also have a love/hate relationship with these floors. Now, these are the floors I wanted for (literally) years. They are wood laminate-- cost-effective and non-dog-hair friendly. However, since they're also not water or dog urine friendly they are difficult to keep clean unless someone is on the verge of/totally obsessive. I may or may not have been both of those things at many times. During our time owning this home, nevertheless my husband put in a fair amount of work (all while I was working and he was with our daughter) and he didn't do it because that's what he "wanted" to do with his time. Little did he know his handiwork would eventually lead to our current project.

31940 Daniel Way, Temecula, CA 92591
This is a picture of my former dining room. Truth be told, never a less-used room likely existed with regard to any house/ abode in which we've lived. However, I did get a great deal on that table and though I plan to use it as my new worktable/desk (sort of exciting) I am a little saddened that I will no longer have it on display next to my grandmother's tea cart, my husband's record player (a gift from me to him, years ago) and our favorite family pictures. I am, however, looking forward to using that jute rug in our new courtyard.
31940 Daniel Way, Temecula, CA 92591

Ahhhh. Our old backyard. It was made for entertaining with ease. No pool to worry about kids misusing, two "cocktail spots" designed for and by my husband and I for use in the early mornings during summertime and later afternoon/evenings throughout the year for coffee, cocktails, enjoying the sun, and most importantly for enjoying each other. We're currently most missing that spot for enjoying each other and it's absolutely grinding on our moments together.

I'm certain I'll have to post again about our former house, only because of the wonderful memories and moments our first "adult" house held for our little family, but I am sure this--along with my last post-- highlights the "nuances" of our current living situation.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Spring Break '14

In light of settling into my new job, our parental status, and my getting turned-down for the one grad school program I applied to, Darin (husband) and I decided to do what every couple in search of a project decides to do: get rid of our awesome old house and purchase a new (read: thirty years old) home about two miles away. Score!

Take a look at what we're dealing with:

Spanish style, in an equestrian community. 

The "decorative" (using that term lightly) bars on the windows givw it a certain "je ne sais quoi". 

The structure to the left is the reason my husband is on-board with the entire idea: 1250sf boat/car/work area. 

This kitchen is an absolute blast from the past. 

Another view of the "shop".

Between the outdated nature of the house and the size of the property itself (.67 acres -or- three times the size of our former lot) we may have bitten off more than is comfortable to chew, but knowing my partner we will chew on the gristle before we spit it out and get down to the meat of the project before we are actually divorced. (Full Disclosure: We don't even include the term "divorce" in our fights/ arguments. We're basically in it to win it.)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Back to School

I saw this blog, by Glennon Melton of Momastery, and I felt compelled to respond to the ridiculous comments left by so many careless readers, and, I fear, non-reflective parents.

Thank you, Glennon, for voicing the importance of the school experience for middle class children. You see, I'm a high school teacher by trade. (Top 2% in US, great school, great rep, no, this doesn't reflect the general attitude of the school or district, blah, blah, blah.) And, I have been, for going-on eleven years. Now that my daughter is (almost) ready for preschool, I have realized a number of things about "education" here in America.

Namely, I have learned:
-Our (probably upper) middle class kids are going to succeed even if we don't encourage it.
-Our (probably upper) middle class kids are going to be mean to another kid at some point even if we don't encourage it.
-Our (probably upper) middle class kids MUST be held accountable for their relationships if they are to be successful beyond the status quo. After all, it's not what you know, but whom.

The comments on Melton's post were mostly positive, but there were a few cutthroat "Why aren't you more concerned about their well-being... blah blah blah" posts than sits well with me. What the hell is wrong with people?!

The reason schools exist is to prepared our babies for the future. The future is NOT about competition through academics. It IS about intra- and inter- personal relationships. Get a grip. Your uber-competitive kid with all the right math skills is going to flounder when he or she finds that he/she is a complete asshole with no personal life to speak of.

If you truly want your kid to succeed in life, maybe try stepping out of the arbitrary construct you've created for yourself. Or, in other words step outside of that box you're living in. None of us, myself the least, are "right" most of the time (if any of it). Allow for failure, but strive for exceptional success in our child's peer-to-peer interactions, and keep in mind: we must exist in the world they create, in only a few years.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

So Much Funniness!

I cannot get enough of these "Convos with my Two Year Old" webisodes. Maybe it's because my little one is nearing the terrible twos, maybe it's because the man playing a two year old little girl makes my husband's "jealousy" so much easier to understand, and maybe it's just because they make me laugh. I encourage you to check them out!

How ridiculous must it have been to film this?!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Married by 24.

I am thirty one. Today is my seventh wedding anniversary-- yep, we're kicking off our seventh year of marriage. And, our thirteenth year of dating. Woot woot!

Better yet (and i suppose I hope no younger persons are reading this as they prep for marriage) we celebrated this day and evening with a trip to a local Mexican Restaurant for breakfast (delicious chilaquiles!), a trip to the park so out daughter could "SLIDE!", a three hour long nap time for my groom and our daughter, a dinner of takeout Italian (only to be interrupted by his car randomly breaking down), and some typical (however charming) bedtime antics from our (almost) 20mo old daughter.

 Now, the two of us are sitting on the couch as he mixes music for my sister's wedding (he's a really awesome amateur DJ who needs to go pro... in my opinion) and I'm writing about it. Ugh. Our anniversary outings have become embarrassingly less exciting over the past seven years, and I would love to take you on a little trip down memory lane to exemplify the nature of said trips:

2013, Year 7 - Our Home.

2012, Year 6 - San Diego, specifically the location of our post wedding-night (we later went to Australia on a 'belated' honeymoon').

2011, Year 5 - Iceland... Not to say that this was the most enjoyable trip (I was 5mos pregnant in a country known for its Vodka and Hot Springs... and my husband wasn't incredibly supportive in an emotional capacity for the duration of said pregnancy.)

2010, Year 4 - Las Vegas! This year was generally one of our better years of marriage. By the end of the year we had been to Vegas six times... and we went six more the next year. We found we had something new in common that year.

2009, Year 3 - Paris (specifically the "Tour Eiffel"-- in between London, Rome and Florence). We were young, childless, and in the city of love. Neither of us prefer Paris (thanks to that visit)... but so few people get to boast of spending their third wedding anniversary atop the Eiffel Tower as they sip (cheap) wine and literally look down upon the city.

2008, Years 2 - Glasgow (in the midst of a trip through Ireland and Scotland) This trip was likely the kick-off to our friendship as it currently stands. This was one of our earlier trips that was solely 'us' and we sort of discovered our standing as one another's best friend (at least in most capacities... I still don't deal well with flatulence) and we truly loved the United Kingdom.

2007, Years 1 - New Zealand (the entire North Island) was one of our less than desirable trips. While we loved the country, we were in a car most of the time, it was typically overcast (not good for my self-diagnosed SADD), we found ourselves in a fairly conservative part of the world over the Easter Holiday (nothing was open), and we were arguing for many reasons. Nevertheless, we were in NZ!

Next year, I am declaring, the spell of the progressively lamer anniversary MUST be dealt with. No longer can I deal with the doldrums of this monotony! Thus, I believe a separate savings account may need to be created all in the name of an AMAZING anniversary in 2014!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Sweetest Little Words

ll children grow up. They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this. One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, 'Oh, why can't you remain like this for ever!' This was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up. You always know after you are two. 
~J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

I read this quote today on this blog, and I couldn't help but feel a pang of nostalgia over the things my daughter has already lost to her babyhood as she barrels through toddlerdom and into the world of the child. Even things like learning the "correct" words and names for things-- like our dog who is now, once again just "Monstro", no more of the short lived but oh-so-sweet "Monji" that was our daughter's word for her beloved dog until last Sunday. (Consequently, although we had considered the sweetness of her toddler neologisms, the sentiment is more truly embodied in this blog.) 

Though I am struck by the simplistic beauty of JM Barrie's words on childhood, because the words are attributed to Peter Pan, I am also struck by other, more frustrating, words. Those of my mother. In the nineties when the movie Hook finally came out on VHS my mother bought a copy for our household. Every morning, as toddlers do, my baby sister (then, close to two) would view the film on a loop as the rest of us rushed to get ready for school thirty minutes away (we were chronically late, thanks to my mother allowing me to be her alarm clock) and work (much closer to home, my mom worked as a teller at a local bank-- something her mother had also done, and something I don't believe she enjoyed at all). 

But during those mornings, my little sister (we're seven years apart) would sit and dazedly stare into the 20" tube television as she watched the story of a grown boy as he attempted to save his children from the evils of Neverland, and in doing so rekindles the amazement and wonder of Neverland through child's eyes-- anyone remember the "Bangarang!" scene? Or, the feast?

The scenes that always stood out to my mother were Peter's scenes with Wendy, now referred to as "Granny Wendy" by Peter's own children (the adult Peter marries Wendy's daughter after deciding he too, wants to "grow up"). Frankly, I believe it was the power of naming that drew my mother to those particular scenes, and a stunted adulthood that drew her to the film itself. It was around this time my mother decided she would eventually be called "Granny Wendy" by her own grandchildren, my nine year old self thought this was wonderful. 

Fast forward eighteen years and my daughter was born. A week after her birth my father met with me to discuss my mother's hurt feelings. Hormonal, emotional, and a new mother, I obliged my walking a mile to the nearest coffee shop for what I thought would be some sort of health talk (my father is a known hypochondriac in our family) or at worst a serious talk about my mental and emotional health (I, like many of my family members, am prone to depression and my parents and husband were all on high alert in regard to my emotional state post-partum). 

At the time, the bombshell was much worse for a daughter who had, until then been a true "golden child" (or at least had been treated like one). It was at that moment, my dad-- in an effort to finally be supportive of his wife-- told me amongst other things that my husband is an arrogant, disrespectful asshole; and, that because of my husband's general failure as person, let alone as husband and son-in-law, my mother was so deeply hurt that she couldn't even bring herself to wear the locket he had made for her, inscribed with the words (from a country song) "I'm somebody's Granny". 

 Now, a year and a half (or so) later-- a period of time filled with plenty of therapy, spats, and even an embarrassing Facebook post from my mother, I'm still angry and saddened by all of this. Words cannot be undone, and my mother has made it clear that she sees no way in which any of this is her "fault". So, I am left with the task of forgiving and possibly being the bigger person.

But, no matter how I choose, I am still saddened by Barrie's words at the top of this post. Because, they truly are sweet little words that are utterly ripe with meaning and reflection that a mother understands best. They are words that I wish I could bring to my mother and happily, if nostalgically, revel in their sweetness. Unfortunately, I feel like I am left with only the opportunity to grieve over our relationship and reflect upon ways to find it within myself to be ultimately understanding and loving in the face of criticism and blame.   

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Family Playdates

Meeting up with my (closest-in-age and location) cousin has become an unexpected treat of late. We are a little more than a year apart in age, and growing up we seemed to be worlds apart in some respects even though we only lived about twenty miles from each other. For a number of years I refused to speak with much of my extended family. After the death of my grandmother, a woman with whom I was extremely close, I found myself angry at a creator who could allow her such pain, and I felt no connection with the people that were once her immediate family. After having my own child, I felt a need to reconnect with certain people for a variety of reasons, ranging from my own issues with my parents, to my need for my child to feel connected to extended family even when I didn't share the feeling of connection.

In many ways, my cousin has had a miserably tough life. She is truly what one would refer to as a "survivor" and sometimes her weariness shows through in those quiet moments of reflection. This is a woman who, as a teenager, experienced a traffic accident that left her with a broken neck-- and since she was in the middle of nowhere in what may or may not have been a stolen car, she hiked (yes, with the broken neck) to the nearest place with a telephone. She's a woman who has custody of her eight-year-old daughter from a previous relationship with an emotionally abusive man, and a woman who gave birth to another beautiful baby girl nine months ago.

My cousin is a wonderful mother who is aware she made plenty of mistakes and strives to be a better mother through taking ownership of those mistakes and doing it better the next time. She's a woman who sadly suffered a miscarriage not long ago, when the fetus was ten weeks along-- and had a heartbeat two days prior.

My cousin is a person who lived rough-and-tumble. She's the oldest of five siblings with a mother who was married many times throughout her childhood. She's a person who shared a mudroom with her younger brother as a makeshift bedroom, and someone who struggles daily with what role her immediate family should take within her adult life, and the lives of her children.

My cousin is someone who unknowingly makes me feel guilty for so many things beyond my control-- for having two, married, and loving (if at times misguided) parents. Spending time with this amazing woman I get to call my cousin makes me feel like I am not as grateful as I should be for my life as an adult who is educated, in a loving marriage, as an educated woman with a career -- and options should anything every happen to the little world I have created for myself.

Nevertheless, my cousin is now someone who I am learning to value as a woman I now have the opportunity to refer to as my friend. She is a wonderful mother who worries over every moment of her daughters' lives, and who looks forward to possibly bringing more children into a loving and stable environment-- one unlike the ones she experienced for much of her life. She's someone who is determined to make a life for herself and for her daughters, one in which she (and they) have "options" and a home full of love-- no matter what happens to the little world she has created for herself.

I never realized the power a person might have as they re-enter my life, and not only am I thankful to my cousin for allowing me the opportunity to value her as an adult friend, but I am thankful to my daughter for providing me the impetus to reintroduce people into my life that I otherwise would likely not.