Monday, August 31, 2009

Both yesterday & today we've awakened to the stench of smoke

This is a photo from yesterday, taken from our house. It has been a crazy few days. We are fine. The La Canada Station Fire has taken over our lives. Both yesterday and today we've awakened to the stench of smoke. It is really bad this morning. My eyes are burning and I am sitting here inside my own house.

The fire is no closer to us, but depending on the shift of the wind, the smoke can overwhelm. And then it blows somewhere else, to engulf and surround another neighborhood. The frequency of helicopters and low flying planes is such, that I'm not noticing the sounds anymore.

On Saturday, the air was fairly clear here, so we could go up a mile and take the pictures below.

(Note: this is not my home, but on the mandatory evacuation line.)

We stood on the evacuation line with other people from our town, united in concern and awe, watching the incredible battle going on in our hills. The huge DC10 plane

did flyovers, dumping the flame retardant... while we stood, clustered and mostly silent.

The police have been very patient with those of us needing to watch what is going on from the evacuation lines.
I've had plans for weeks to leave today to go up north to my mother's. I'm leaving with the kids today, and will be checking in with E. Our home is safe, but so many others are not...

Please continue to pray for all the Southern Californians, who have now lost their homes since last night. And for the amazing firefighters who continue to work around the clock fighting a fire that is out of control.

Added note: The fire double in size last night. Almost 86,000 acres now.

submit to reddit

Friday, August 28, 2009

It took a while to bring BOY down from his mini-testosterone high

We've been very distracted by the fires here in S. California. Since last night, we've been watching fire & flames on the nearby mountains. This morning we awakened to smoke in the house. Fine pieces of ash are floating through the air. Another day of indoors...and quiet activities. Try telling this to two little children who have been with each other all summer long...

The photo above is what it looks like in the hills just west of us. We are OK, being a few miles downhill, but this is the closest fire we've had in the 9 years we've lived in this lovely small town. The La Canada Station fire has spread into the western border of our town. We have many friends who are on high alert/voluntary evacuation. The containment is negligible at this point. Helicopters are constantly flying overhead dropping water and flame retardant solution in the hills 2-3 miles from here.

Last night, when it was time for the kids to get in their PJs, BOY started madly pulling out clothes from his dresser. Then he began throwing on his long pants and sweatshirt. He was READY for ACTION.

I'm going to FIGHT the fire with the Firefighters!

It took a while to bring BOY down from his mini-testosterone high. But, I was smiling and feeling like a proud mama... His heart...oh, it is SO big.


Please send good thoughts and prayers to all the amazing firefighters battling the fires in S. California. And to the people who are at risk for losing their homes.

Photo courtesy of CBS News.

submit to reddit

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Perhaps more Hollywood Producers should try the view from a minivan car seat

What was 5 year old BOY's reaction to viewing the recent billboards for the movie Surrogates?

What THE heck?!

Exactly, BOY. Exactly...

Oh, then to be fair, there is the...male version.

I don't see him bent over, do you? I haven't seen these billboards. I'm thinking they must be promoting them in W. Hollywood, so that they can barrage us with the family friendly female versions here.

Helloooo, Mr. Willis??!! Perhaps more Hollywood producers should try the view from a minivan car seat. Come on big boys, I've got room in the back. But, I may not unbuckle you when we get there...


Photos courtesy of Google Images.

submit to reddit

Monday, August 24, 2009

And having that special Mommy & GIRL time...

If ever there was a perfect afternoon to follow-up a challenging week, yesterday was it. While BOY went off to launch his rocket with Daddy, GIRL and I went on our own afternoon adventure.

We started out with a trip to the shoe store, where we found the very last pair of sandals in her size. They fit! I'm always about a month behind on the retail seasonal changes... GIRL hasn't gotten a new pair of sandals since last summer, and she was SO due.

Then we went to our local coffee shop, for treats and cool drinks. The Coffee Gallery is a wonderful neighborhood haunt that bills itself as "the funky little coffee house." They have live entertainment at night - from poetry readings to a variety of kick ass music. While the barista heated up our cinnamon roll to share, and fixed our drinks: chocolate milk and Chai tea, GIRL set up her little toys at one of the tables.

GIRL's request, for our afternoon together, had been that we play with her miniature toy set - Kai-Lan and Mr. Fluffy and Mr. Fluffy's Bakery...while teaching me some Chinese. Ahem...

We then spent a wonderful hour playing with toys, and getting creative with napkins - a wedding dress, a suit, and later...a race car. It was special time with my GIRL, and we were able to talk about so many things. GIRL craves and needs intellectual stimulation. I am realizing more than ever how much it means to both of us to have the time together, alone.

In the end, it is always about sharing time together. Being together as a family. And having that special Mommy & GIRL time...

Photo Credit: The fabulous Petrea at Pasadena Daily Photo.

submit to reddit

Friday, August 21, 2009

I became part of the maelstrom and...

We all have our breaking point. And I had mine today. With my daughter. Who has been testing me ever since I got home on Sunday night. My precious daughter, whom I adore. My willful daughter who can suddenly turn into a wild child, an obstinate, belligerent, angry little girl. And I got sucked up into the maelstrom today. No, that's not true. I became part of the maelstrom and...I spanked her. For the first time in her life.

It was as if I was watching from above. I was so detached on one hand, yet so bloody angry on the other. E and I have an agreement that we will raise our children without spanking them. After I spanked her, she flung herself on her bed and I left the room, stunned. My hand stinging and my body vibrating with anger and shock. And then there was a silence, punctuated only by her angry wails.

E came home a short time later, and I told him that I had lost it and spanked her. I asked if he could go in and talk with her. I wasn't ready yet, and I don't think she was ready for me...either.

After E came out, a few minutes passed, and I went in to see her. To talk to her. At first, before I said anything, she threw the covers over her head shutting me out. I patted her gently through her blanket and asked if I could talk with her. There was no response. And so, I did what I had come in to do. I apologized. I told her how very sorry I was, that I had lost my temper, and that I had been wrong in spanking her. That. I. Was. Wrong.

And then it was as if the sun came out. My precious girl threw her arms around my neck and climbed into my lap. She said she loved me. I buried my nose in her neck and told her how much I loved her. And again, how sorry I was. And I am. So very sorry.

There is something incredibly powerful about apologizing to your child.

I know that some parents believe in spanking. I am not making a judgement here. But, for me, it is as my mother told me. The few times she spanked us, while we were growing up, were about HER losing control. The spanking was about her anger. And she regrets it. Today the spanking of GIRL was about my anger. And I should have walked away...

I am human. This is true. I believe I am a very good mother. Often. But, I have years to go before I am done. Learning how to be a good mother. Years to go...

Painting titled: No Outward Sign by Chuck Gumpert.

submit to reddit

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I'm plumb out of the need for caffeine, and too tired to pour myself a whiskey

Today was one of those days when I was continuously swimming upstream. One of those days... Nothing appeared to go right, despite managing to get up at 5am and working diligently on my new business - the web site and the marketing end. It was a loooong day. A day I'm ready to put to rest.

I did manage to get the kids to the library, and out for a late night swim. Both seemed a good idea at the time. The venture to the library was fine, but the late night swim? Not SO much...

The swim itself was fun. GIRL has made amazing progress on her strokes and side breathing. BOY, never one for attention to detail unless it involves building, is still working on staying on top of the water. All he wants to do is swim under the water. Each has their own time table...

Afterwards we showered and assembled - the kids in pajamas, and myself in a skirt and shirt...I remembered my bra, but this time forgot my underwear! Lovely. So... we were walking out and GIRL and I had an argument over towels and tokens, which soon escalated into full out warfare. It was not a short war. It went several rounds, lasting a good 20 minutes of TANTRUM - hers, not mine. To say I was seething doesn't even begin to cover it. Tantrums in public places. Not an experience I wish on anyone, but we all get it ...sometime. The only thing I was grateful for was that my skirt was not yanked down in the parking lot. A paler moon you would not want to see...

Now I find myself flat out exhausted and devoid of any desire to write what I had set out to write today. My heart is just not in it. So, I'm going to grab some little crunchy oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and snuggle up to them tonight. I'm plumb out of the need for caffeine, and too tired to pour myself a whiskey.'s the new brown.


submit to reddit

Monday, August 17, 2009

Notes on Traveling Solo

While traveling this past weekend, I noted a few things...

At the airport, there is a reason that a very well known coffee chain has the largest line. Best not to go to the competitor next door, because of the appearance of a shorter line. Especially when you see the lady who would have been in front of you in line, at the well known coffee chain, walk away with her beverage and treat. While you still wait in line...empty handed.

En route to Chicago I suddenly realized that I was traveling by myself. I had 4 hours to go, and no book to read. Caught unprepared, so used to traveling on long flights with children, I just sat there ...boggled. Then I watched a movie. I cannot even remember what it was, but there was no interruption. And no one attempted to climb into my lap.

Turbulence sucks. Most especially when you have to be a big girl, and don't have the reassurance of grasping for your husband's large, warm fingers.

The service on flights is not what it used to be. How about waiting an hour and a half, before being offered a beverage?

After everyone had sucked down their beverages, a long line formed for the bathroom.

Steward: I've never seen a line this long before.

JCK: Did you slip a diuretic in our beverages?

Steward: I don't know what happened.

Perhaps if they had served beverages earlier into the flight, people would have not felt inclined to down them so fast -enabling everyone to make a run for the loo, at the same time...

For years, the airlines have been complaining about passengers taking huge carry-on bags on board. Some now charge a $20 fee to check one bag. So, they want to discourage people from bringing carry-on baggage, yet charge you for 1 checked bag. This brilliant idea encourages people to carry even more baggage on board...making the problem worse.

Chicago is a fantastic city. The transit system is incredibly well organized, and you can take the metro train from the airport into the city. Having a bag with wheels is essential. Yet, maneuvering a wheeled bag up and down escalators and staircases, across intersections, and under bridges is far more appealing your 20s.

When trying to fly home, and your flight is delayed for 2 hours, it is actually possible to sit next to a person who is on their cell phone chit chatting about nothing. Loudly. It is also possible to read an entire novel over a 2 hour delay and a 4 hour flight. It is also possible..., once on the plane, to breathe in and out only through one's nose, when surrounded by a group of traveling teenagers with unwashed bodies.

You can finally acknowledge how tired you are while standing outside baggage claim without your bag, as it was put on another flight, waiting for your husband to circle around for the 10th time...bless him. When he is suddenly there with a hug and an open door, there is no lovelier sight than your two children asleep in their pajamas in the back seat.

No matter what annoyances or hassles modern flight travel might entail, it is all worth it to spend a weekend with special childhood friends. Always, always...without a doubt.

submit to reddit

Friday, August 14, 2009

it was my home

In a few hours I will be flying to Chicago. I am reuniting with my childhood friends from Beirut, Lebanon. This year would have been 30 years since we graduated together from the American Community School in Beirut. Lebanon was a place like no other during the 1970s. Some called it the Paris of the Middle East, it was my home. My family left in 4 1/2 hours in October 1975. My parents drove us by ACS, to see if any friends were about, to say good-bye... But, the school was empty. I was 14.

Some of us have seen each other over the years. Some of us have not seen each other since Beirut. We've had our 10 year reunion and our 20 year reunion, and some in-between. Each one memorable. A handful of our original class stayed through the war. Those of us who left felt lost. Those who stayed felt abandoned. We have an incredible bond. Friendships stopped in time. Of one thing I am sure. When I fly home Sunday, my stomach will ache from laughter, I will have shed some tears for all of us, and I will be more complete.

Aaah....Beirut...I will see you again someday. Inshallah... God willing...

submit to reddit

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

In which I sound like a Feminist from the 1970s, and I'm owning it...

I have learned a lot about myself over the last several weeks. I have moved from fear into action, yet...fear still lingers. Will I be able to build a business in this economy? Do people recognize that massage can have a profound affect on both their body and their state of mind? Is it the right time? What if my office sits empty week after week? I hate that. That part of me. The insecure, dark side that rankles, burns, and mocks...

All of this...this... journey, has really been about my quest for a paycheck of my own. I have been a stay-at-home mom for almost six years. It has been both rewarding and challenging. But, perhaps the true "struggle" has been less about dealing with two small, developing, ever fascinating and mercurial children than about my work here at home not having a tactile, monetary value.

Once a year, Salary.Com publishes The Mom Salary Survey, their estimate of what a SAHM's work is worth. This year it was $122,722. If you're a mom working outside the home, you can add an additional $76, 184 to the paycheck that you earn. It sounds great, but really? It's just numbers dangling in the air... We, as women, will never see that money. And, it feels like a slap in the face to me, when I haven't even been earning $8 an hour, the amount we pay our babysitter.

In which I sound like a Feminist from the 1970s, and I'm owning it...

I believe that it is damaging to women, in our current culture, to go for a long period of time without a paycheck. We live in a society that operates on money. If you have to rely on another person to give you money, it places you in a very vulnerable and less than place. Even if you start out with honorable intentions, the bottom line is that you are dependant on another human being. As were a child.

But, you are not! You are an independent woman choosing partnership (a.k.a., dependence), yet do we really know what we are getting into? So, then after a period of time you venture out into the world of earning a paycheck, and it is incredibly intimidating. For those of us who have been out of the work force a few years? Daunting. For those of us who have been home for many years? Imagine being perched on a rocky ledge with no way of getting down. Except...down. And, there is no choice. You must come down. Or die.

Is there a bad guy in this equation? The bad guy is elusive in concept. It is not as simple as men not appreciating all that women do, or mothers who work outside the home not appreciating mothers who stay at home, and vice versa. It is far more complicated. Is there an answer? Not until we, as women, not only start the conversation, but end it with a solution. And, I have no idea what the answer is...

What I do know is that earning a paycheck of one's own is empowering, fosters independence, and builds confidence. I have just begun to feel it, touch it, experience it. And I will take that feeling to the bank...

Photo Credit courtesy of Google Images: Feminists Gloria Steinem & NYC Agency for Child Development founder Dorothy Pitman Hughes. Circa 1970.

submit to reddit

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Now, I am listening for the sound of Fairy Wings...

Dearest GIRL,

I have shared in your excitement over the last two days. Yesterday, when I picked you up from your friend's house, and you rushed at me, face tilted up to mine, eyes sparkling like jewels. You could barely contain your news. The world was different, now. A loose tooth! Your little finger maneuvered the tiny tooth, and I could see it, wobbly in your small mouth. How proud you were, of this unexpected event. And, I too gasped in wonder.

Then today, as we blew each other silly kisses, your fingers tapped your mouth, and ...the sweet, teeny tiny baby tooth popped out! You placed it in a small plastic bag, and kept it in the pocket of your dress for the rest of the day. Occasionally you would take it out, and we would look at it. Again. Yet, it is your lovely mouth that I am drawn to, the almost rectangular gap that appears in your lower jaw. As if a window looking out, ahead, at who you will grow into...

Ever so carefully you placed it atop a Kleenex on your bed, in anticipation of the Tooth Fairy. Then, as you picked up your pillow, a breeze slipped underneath the Kleenex and flipped the tooth right off the bed. I don't remember the last time my heart fell so hard. We managed to find a flashlight, and found a few small white things under the bed. But, no tooth... Both of us moaning, near tears at this point, yet I was determined to find your tooth. It was not until I looked up from the floor that I noticed the precious treasure lodged between the sheet and the headboard. I pushed my finger up under the sheet, you grasping the tooth tight in your hand. Saved! PWHEW....

So, once again you placed it on your bed, the Kleenex banished. The tooth so white against your red sheet. You put the pillow down, slowly!, and eased your beautiful head upon it. Eager to move into slumber, and dream of a Fairy who collects teeth. After kisses and hugs, and lullabies, we said goodnight. Soon you were sound asleep.

Now, I am listening for the sound of Fairy Wings... I love you, my darling GIRL. You are so precious to me. And I feel blessed that I was there for the loss of your first tooth. I am still blowing you kisses...



submit to reddit

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

TWITTER could come in OH, SOO...handy right about now

Apparently the whole point of having a blog is to...well, BLOG. Ahem...

It's a pretty sad state of affairs when one gets up at 5am more mornings than not, and still feels behind at the end of every day.

I picked up the keys to my massage office yesterday. Can I hear a WHOOO HOOO!!??

I've started seeing clients. I am LOVING doing massage again. Especially the energy work.

There is a blog post coming about my feminist leanings and self-esteem/power when a woman earns money...

My daughter likes to announce my age in public. She can't help it if she's proud.

Indeed, I've been living on too much caffeine and far too little whiskey and chocolate. Can't remember the last time I had either... I'm truly losing the focus of my priorities.

It has suddenly occurred to me that my earlier disdaining of joining TWITTER was a bit shortsighted. TWITTER could come in OH, SOO...handy right about now. (See loose fingered sentence structure above, under 140 characters.)


Yes, the TWITTER Literati...Intelligentsia could SO be mocking me. I who scoffed at Tweeting Twitterers would be well served to just....shut up already and just...TWEET.

But, it wouldn't be enough for this large beak...

Photo Disclosure: It is to be noted that a duster in mouth does not connote actual dusting. Nor do fishnets indicate a household of Le Frisky. The blank look in the eyes? Perhaps...accurate.

submit to reddit

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Sled Dogs come to Princesses' Ball

My children have been amazing over the last couple of weeks, while I've been focusing on getting my Massage Practice for Women off the ground. Things are going very well. I did secure a part-time space in a lovely massage office, and I've started to do some house calls as well. But, I've been less available to them, and I hate that. It is temporary, but difficult to explain to a 4 and a 5 year old.

We went to the police station a couple of weeks ago, so that I could get the application for the live finger print scan, all part of applying for a business license. BOY & GIRL wanted to see the jail. That option was not available. I am trying, as best I can, to take them on my latest adventure into creating my own business and going back to work. I showed them the building where I will be working, and they are intrigued that mommy will be doing work away from them.

This is the first summer in a while that BOY & GIRL haven't been in any structured summer school. It has been an adjustment, especially for BOY who really thrives on a steady diet of BUSY. Less challenging for GIRL who loves to have time for herself to play at home. However, we've been keeping busy with a variety of activities. There is the local library reading club, in which we go to the library once a week, and keep a running record of how many books we've read together. BOY & GIRL each have their own card, which gets stamped each week by the librarian, and she gives them a prize. Next week is the last week...the summer is more than half over.

We are spending a great many hours in water- whether the Y for swimming lessons, the neighborhood pool, or a pool swim date at a friend's house. We've also been going to the beach more this year with friends, which has been a blast. Nothing like being at the ocean, inhaling the salt scent, and hearing the sound of the rolling waves as they ease or crash their way forward to the beach. I believe in the healing power of the ocean, and I remember to breathe while I am there.

There have been days when I've felt pretty crazy. There is never enough time in the day, despite getting up at 5am many mornings to get ahead of where I was the day before. Yet, I never quite get there, and am beginning to believe that I need to lower my expectations of myself. My idea of heaven right now would be to settle in with my lap top, a glass of my sweet mint tea, and dive into all the blogs I'm behind on reading. But, I need to keep my focus on the new business, work hard, and know that I will have more time soon. Yeah...

I am so blessed with how well BOY & GIRL play together, and can entertain themselves. But, like all children, there is the SQUABBLING, and the FIGHTING. Usually over GIRL wanting to play with her dollhouse, which is sacrosanct, and BOY wanting to join in by initiating a game of things launching into the dollhouse, which is not well received. GIRL has a big 'ol SCREECH on her. And I swear to GOD, it ricochets off the walls. The WHINING...oh, GOD, the WHINING...

Yesterday was a good day. In the morning, I worked in the home office, while BOY & GIRL played together quietly in the living room. At one point, I peeked out to talk to them about our schedule for the day. They were completely absorbed in their own invention. BOY had built dogs out of Legos, and GIRL had her collection of small plastic Princesses. The Lego Dogs and Princesses were interacting in and around the doll house. It was a precious sight.

Later, as we drove to the Y, I told them how proud I was of them - how I knew that I hadn't been spending as much time with them over the last week, and how beautifully they had been playing together that morning.

We were playing "Sled Dogs come to Princesses' Ball", said GIRL.

Sled dogs come to Princesses' Ball?, I repeated.

Yes, BOY made dogs out of Legos and we played with my Princesses who were having a fancy Ball, said GIRL.

You are both amazing! I am so lucky and blessed to have you as my children. Your imaginations ARE A GIFT! And it is such a valuable gift, because you will be able to take your imaginations anywhere, I said.

Mommy, you are MY gift, said BOY.

And, that was the best part of my day.

submit to reddit
Copyright © 2007-2014 JCK.

The content on these pages is the sole property of the author and may not be used or reproduced in any manner without consent.

All Rights Reserved.