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Thursday, January 28, 2016

The last debate

I'm here, watching the last Republican debate before the Iowa caucus, and I'm looking at all of these men talking about immigration, and I'm still just as boggled as I was three months ago when this all started. Why do none of these people know what they are talking about?

Listening to the Republicans versus the Democrats, and it's like they are talking about two different countries, with two different sets of issues. And the Republicans keep talking about issues that don't exist. Or, the issues exist: immigration is an issue that is very important.

But the solutions don't address the problem.

Like, building a wall, stopping people from coming in, not trusting those born in other countries, using them as scapegoats for hate and fear. These are the solutions to immigration that they're talking about. And they're arguing over who wants to be the most extreme about this.

Meanwhile, the Democrats talk about the middle class and how to fix our ailing infrastructure, what to do about climate change, how to stop ISIS, you know, important things.

The most of this debate, as with all Republican debates, is a sniping match between the candidates. They spend all their time pissing on each other. They are all scurrying around as if their fellow Republicans are the scourge of the Earth. The only thing worse than the primary opponents are the Democrats.

They are looking so desperate right now. Why are they so frantic and testy? Why aren't they calmly telling us what they would do for the country?

Why is the Republican Party its own reality show this year?

Donald Trump isn't even there.

This isn't a debate. It's a pissing match.

There is no winner here.

Just seven desperate, angry men making themselves look bad.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Mommy, why would white people want to let Black people be equal? And other stories

So, my kids are learning a fair bit about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as they should.

Their limited world experience and faint grasp on big-picture ideas, however, combined with curriculum that could probably be improved, has thrown them for a bit of a loop.

Last week, one of my kids came home talking about this amazing "lesson" their teacher had them learn.

"Mommy, he split the class up in half, and he put us in two groups, then he told one group we were going to have a party, and he told the other group they couldn't come. They had to sit in another classroom. I was in the party group. I was sad because my friend was in the not party group. I was almost crying. But then he didn't do it, mommy. He didn't do it. He told us it was just a lesson."

Now, something sat funny with me about this lesson, but coming from my white-person frame of reference, I couldn't put a finger on what it was. So, we talked about what the lesson was supposed to be, and how unfair that would have been, and we applied it to the political, social and cultural backdrop of that time in history.

A wonderfully patient woman online soon explained to me why this lesson is off-base.

The approach is incredibly white-centric as it assumes that all the children in the class need to learn the lesson of discrimination through a cutesy classroom activity. It assumes that all children in the class don't already know how this might feel. Meanwhile, children of color already experience this on a daily basis throughout their lives, and don't need to play-act it to get an idea of what discrimination could possibly be about. And it's certainly not about parties.


Flash forward to today when my children were talking to each other about how funny Dr. King's voice sounded during his famous speech. I cut in to explain that he spoke fervently to evoke passion in his listeners and get support for the very important action he was trying to help facilitate.

We talked about how brave he and others were for standing up to the status quo without any power to do so, and without any guarantee of their safety. We talked about how very important it was to stand up for equality for all people, no matter where we fell on that spectrum.

Then one of my daughters comes out with this, after sitting silently for a moment, thinking it all over.

"Mama, why would the white people then want to give equality to the Black people? You know, since they had it all? They would want to keep it."


So, that was a really insightful and legitimate question. I answered with a grandiose speech about how all people were very important and the white people who were kind and good and thoughtful and smart knew that it was wrong to treat other people like they were. And they wanted to give equality because it was the right thing to do, and we must always do the right thing.

Another brief silence.

Then this:

"But, mama, you always tell us that life isn't fair, and that we can't make it fair."


And, man, can I just tell you I am not smart enough to be a parent?

I thought a while about how to simplify the different between fairness on an individual level and equality on an institutional level.

Eventually I settled on telling her that even though life wasn't fair in many, many things, it was up to us every day to try to make it more fair for those around us who had it harder. And I threw in a few "plus, that's a totally different thing, it's just the words are the same," for good measure.

The world is hard. Concepts are hard. The fact that we still live in a world where discrimination, inequality and oppression exist is hardest of all.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Reasons my kids couldn't possibly go to sleep before 10 p.m.

The girls slept late this morning because of the holiday. And tomorrow, we're up at 6:30 a.m. again. Do they care? Noooooo. They do not. They do not care that tomorrow at 7:15, I'm going to be tearing my hair out trying to hurry them up, putting on their shoes they suddenly can't find even though I laid them out tonight, combing their hair in a frenzy as they dramatically scream in fake pain, and force feeding them cereal via high-powered watergun. OPEN YOUR MOUTHS.

No, they do not care.

Here are the reasons they absolutely couldn't possibly have been asleep before 10 p.m. tonight:

1) They had to play a game of balloon volleyball in the living room because daddy told them they could.

2) The last point in that volleyball game was super contentious it totally DID OR DID NOT touch the couch before going over to the other side. This required mental replays, various explanations, three near tantrums, and seeking out a neutral party to decide for them. (The decision, by the way, was GO TO BED).

3) They had to finish their chocolate milk that they didn't even like at dinner time.

4) They NEEDED dessert. They were so so so so so so so so so hungry. Even though it took them nearly ninety minutes to eat dinner. Can't argue with the stomach, I guess.

5) They couldn't tell if they needed to go number two or not.

6) Brushing teeth is harrrrrrrrd.

7) They wanted to change their underwear randomly.

8) They needed to talk in bed. They had things they forgot to discuss in the 16 hours they were awake and together apparently.

9) They were suddenly so itchy. They needed to turn the lights on to examine their itchiness and call me in to check it. (It was invisible, by the way.)

10) They needed more water. They drank it all. For the first time in six months.

11) Wait, was that a ghost, mom?

12) Well, if it's the dishwasher, it's too loud. They can't sleep with the dishwasher on. You know, like they did last night. Or the night before.

13) They needed the closet door shut. But they needed it shut by a grownup. Just in case.

So, like, tomorrow, they'd better be walking to school before I even wake their little butts up. Because GO TO SLEEP.

Monday, January 11, 2016

The non-existent gummies

My kids are smarter than I am.

It's true and it's scary.

I say a thing, and suddenly we're talking about an entirely different thing (usually which isn't even in existence in the logical realm). Today, amid dozens of things, we had a long chat about who WOULD get the last bag of gummies if I had any gummies in the car. Which I didn't. And I said four times we weren't going to have the conversation before they finally stopped.

You see, the other day, while Natalina was eating other food, Dulce asked for gummies and I gave them to her, unbeknown to both of us that it was the last bag.

This made Natalina very sad, as you can imagine, but she got over it fairly well.

Today, Dulce asked for gummies in the car, and I reminded her that we were all out.

Natalina piped up that if we DID have any gummies, they'd go to her.

Dulce disagreed.

I said we weren't talking about it.

Natalina explained her side of the story (which I already knew). That she had had one less gummy bag than Dulce, AND that Dulce had agreed she should get an extra one later, so therefore, it should be hers.

I said we weren't talking about it.

Dulce explained her side of the story (which I already knew) which was that it's a totally different day, and Natalina had had other food at the time that one day, and she really wanted gummies right now so why should her previous gummy consumption matter.

I said we weren't talking about it.

The girls continued in their separate lines of thinking until they were ready to basically kill each other and I had to be like, "Girls, you are fighting over something that does not exist. There are no gummies."

And the whole thing would have been fine if it sounded like it reads, but don't for one second think they said any of these things calmly or in an inside voice.


It's been a long day.

If anyone knows how to make kids who do this, um, not do this, I would be eternally grateful.

Good thing they're cute.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Pie Face

So, right before Pie Face was all the rage, my father bought my kids the game and sent it to us.

It sat in its box for quite a while, then, since I kept saying, "no, let's not play it today," eventually they took it upon themselves to open the box and lose a piece or two and make a huge mess.

Then it sat atop my fridge for quite a while because I just could not with that whole thing.

Today, we decided, was the day to actually try it out.

And just as in that viral video, the girls absolutely loved it. Giggles galore.

I didn't take a video, but I snapped some pictures and I'll put them together for you below in a series I call, Pie Face: In Sequence.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Resolutions 2016

In 2016, my largest goal is to regain control of my life. I do a lot of things, and in doing those things, I'm almost always frazzled, forgetting something, stressed out, late, not finishing what I need to finish because I overbooked, etc.

I have no sense of calm.


That's the main goal this year. Get it together, me. Be that whole, calm, successful, ambitious person you want to be. Happy and hardworking, but not scattered, rushing around putting out fires I started with disorganization and too much on my plate.

With that in mind, my ten resolutions for this year:

10) Drink four glasses of water a day.

I get headaches frequently, and am often tired and just not feeling well. It's because I do not drink any water at all. I sometimes actually feel like I don't deserve water. That ends this year.

9) Do some form of exercise every day.

Things happen and I won't be able to make it to the gym every day or even three times a week, I'm sure. I won't always have a kid-free 45 minutes to run. So, even if I get in ten sit-ups or push-ups a day, or stretching for a half hour before bed, that will be enough. Just some form of extra exercise (meaning I can't count my walk to school with the kids) each day.

8) Read and journal every day.

Same goes for this as exercise. Even if I read one sentence and write one sentence in my journal, that will count. Just do it. And no internet reading. Book reading. I can find time for a sentence. And hopefully time for more than that.

7) Take care of myself in some way every day.

As with the water, I often skip meals, or showers, or allow my nails to get gnarly. I'll be too tired to even brush my teeth, and this morning was the first time I'd washed my face in I don't want to tell you how long. This year, I still may not shower every day (who has the time?!), but I will perform basic upkeep to ensure my body is being taken care of to at least its basic necessary level.

6) Stop smoking.

I have to really do this.

5) Stop biting my nails.

Same. Enough is enough.

4) Make $40,000 this year.

I don't care how this happens. If I cobble it together with my freelancing, or manage a book thingie, or through teaching jobs, or if I get a full-time thing. Just, do this.

3) Publish 100 pieces.

I made it to 80 this year. I can do 100.

2) Get some sort of big project off the ground.

Could it be the stalled book? One of the novels I have kicking around in my head? Another big thing I've not thought of? Something big and different. Something I have to allow myself to be open to in order to achieve it. Something outside of my comfort zone.

1) Save $5,000 for each of my kids to start the college fund.

I don't know if that is possible. Let's try.

And I make five resolutions specifically with regard to my children each year. This year, I resolve the following:

5) To keep with the scheduling and strike system.

This is a system that helps me keep my emotions out of parenting. It works on a set of strikes and stars and seems to work, when I can put the time in and follow through.

4) Help them study.

I have trouble keeping up with what they are being tested on, and they don't really tell me all that well. Sometimes, as a result, they'll bring home Cs instead of As because we didn't know there was a test. I don't want them to get used to that.

3) Have them read every day.

This year, including weekends.

2) Get them to stop competing and fighting so viciously.

I have no idea how to achieve this, but it is my biggest battle each day.

1) Play a game with them every day.

Some days this will have to be I-spy in the car as we shuttle from activity to activity. But some days, let's really try for board games, puzzles or imagination games at home. We can do this.


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