Archive for the ‘ Moving to Los Angeles ’ Category

How To Teach Kids About Religion?

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

I decided to take Fia to church on Sunday. This, after a recent vacation to Mammoth, California where we visited an old ghost town.

Me: “Fia, let’s go look at the old church.”

Her: “Mama, what’s church?”

Cue brakes screeching to a halt. Uh-Oh.

Phil’s father is an Episcopalian Priest. He baptized both our kids. His mom is the epitome of a loving, Christian woman. “Rev and Bev” we call them. Part of the deal in baptizing, besides tradition, is to raise them “in the faith.” However, neither Phil nor I are particularly religious. I would call us more spiritual, even though we both grew up going to Sunday School (and when my family was falling apart in the 9th grade, I briefly became a born-again Pentecostal. Yep. Not kidding).  Phil’s experience–which included family time, church picnics and “preacher kid” mischief–was far different than mine.

My parents would pull up in a big cargo van that my mom used for her plant business. They’d open the side door and we four kids would come tumbling out. My adopted brother Carter would bounce in with his huge black Afro and my sister Tanya would follow with her neatly woven cornrows. Kelly, my biological brother, and I would lead the way.

“Come on you guys, we are going to be late!” I’d say, glad to be the older sibling/ring leader. We were a motley crew, no doubt.

My parents would slam the door and shout, “See you in an hour!” and go tearing off. My mother probably went and got high. My father probably went and made charts (we had a sign-in and sign-out chart growing up. Um, yes.).

I didn’t care about the drive-through drop off and I still don’t. In fact, in many ways, I get it. Woo hoo, an hour of free time! No babysitter, no kids. Where I differ from my parents (in addition to the 99% of things they did in child-rearing) is that I’m way too paranoid to ever leave my kids like that. Even when Fia is 8 or 9. No way, no how.

Not only would I not leave her at church alone, I wouldn’t leave her in Sunday School, even if I was at the church attending the main service.  I’m much too paranoid; especially after my “Stranger Danger” post and the warning many of you gave me about “tricky people.”

But here’s where I’m grateful for my religious education: I know the stories. I know a whale swallowed Jonah and Daniel got thrown into a lions’ den. I know the implications and the message behind those stories.  Many of the tales/allegories are cultural references too, and I think it’s important to know them. And no matter whom you worship–AllahBuddhaJesus–the common thread, at its core–is at least supposed to be about compassion, kindness and being a good person. Those are not bad things to teach your kid. One of my issues though, is I feel like I do that regardless. Must I take them to church every Sunday to learn this? Especially because I feel organized religion–also at its core–is deeply flawed?

I won’t go into my issues or grievances. This isn’t about what you believe. It’s about how to teach what you know to your kids without it feeling hypocritical or obligatory.

Back to my church excursion with Fia. On the way there I explained to her we were going to a church to learn about Jesus. Bev sent her the book, “Jesus Loves Me.” Fia knows all the words, partially because I’ve sang her (and Emmett) that song since birth, substituting “Jesus” for “Mama” and “for the bible tells us so” to “for she always tells you so,” etc.

I told her Jesus was a kind person who helped the blind see, the crippled walk and the poor eat. She asked where he was. Instead of saying, “in all of us” or some proper church response, I didn’t think it through. I got distracted because I was driving.

“Well, he died.”

“How did he die?”

“Some bad men killed him.”

Silence, then:

“Oh, oh, I know!” she piped up in earnest. “He was smushed and turned into soup!”

(Pause.) (Pause again.) (Pause more.)

“Well, not exactly…”

And so it goes. My search for answers. To be continued…


Pic of church via Shutterstock



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Guns On Playgrounds? Really???

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

Yep, you read correctly. North Carolina’s House and Senate just passed a bill that would allow concealed-gun permit holders to bring weapons on hiking trails, playgrounds and other public recreation areas. Oh, and bars and restaurants too. Just in case you and your spouse want a romantic night out, wear sexy clothes, but wear them under your bulletproof vest.

Wow, drinking and driving don’t mix, but guns and playgrounds do? This whole country is becoming one big, fat contradiction.

The Republican governor is expected to sign the bill. No surprise there.

Now I get to add North Carolina to my list of states that I won’t be visiting.

Let’s see: you can get shot doing downward dog in Utah. Yes, the state allows you to bring guns anywhere. Even yoga class.  And in North Carolina, your child could be going down his favorite slide, while adults carrying guns frolic in the sandbox. Now that sounds like a helluva playdate.

What am I missing?

Do these lawmakers not understand what happened in Newtown? Do they not “get” that on average, 28 people are shot to death every day in this country? Are the Republicans and gun rights groups this brain dead? Or is the gun lobby just too powerful?

Sadly, all of the above.

According to NBC News, the provision was “opposed by police chiefs at all 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, who said they feared car break-ins and an increase in gun violence on campus.”

Student government associations also opposed the bill.

So the cops don’t want it. Students don’t either. But a handful of ruthless, arrogant lawmakers are deciding what’s best?

Did you know that Olivia Engel celebrated her birthday last July at a princess tea party? This year she spent it in her grave. She was one of the 22 children slain in Newtown. She would have turned 7 last week.

Thanks to the state of North Carolina, it seems lawmakers just put more children like Olivia in peril.

It’s wrong. Just plain wrong.


Playground and gun pic via Shutterstock

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Play Pen or Compost Bin?

Friday, July 19th, 2013

No, while my kids are living, growing “things,” I’m not turning them into compost. But I was having one of those evenings where my creativity was running low and my anxiety was running high. Part of it is because we bought a house. We also moved all our stuff out from Brooklyn and it’s now sitting in boxes haunting me.  These are boxes that I haven’t seen in 2 years so how important could they be? Regardless, every time I look at them I get anxious. I need to go through them. I need to purge. And yet, items come to our door almost daily from my favorite source of sh-t — Amazon Prime. So while I begin to purge, the piles still grow higher.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a hoarder. Not even close. I’m not a slob. I’m a neat freak. That’s probably why this clutter drives me more crazy than most. I hit the reset button on myself a few weeks ago. Now I need to do it with my possessions.

One of the items that arrived from Amazon last night was a compost bin. We have a pile of compost on our rental property but the landlord wants it in a bin. Makes sense. We have raccoons, possums, squirrels, and roof rats all vying to be part of our family. More food in the yard only attracts the party. The compost bin was this huge, hard plastic mesh. It had 5 plastic clips that I believe are to hold it together. There were no directions. Not even a small sheet of paper. So I guessed.

While the kids played I figured I’d at least tackle and take this compost bin off my list. So I rolled it out, snapped it together, and set it up proudly.

“Look what Mama just did!” I shouted with glee. (BTW–just by putting something together can feel like a huge accomplishment and mood lifter.)

Emmett and Fia came running as if I just opened an ice cream stand.

“Mama, let us go in!” Fia screamed with excitement. Emmett just jumped up and down smiling with no real clue what was going on. Except that it was something exhilarating.  Such is the world of tots. It doesn’t take much….

So, I put them in. They proceeded to play in there for at least 30 minutes. They had me go count to ten and then come find them. In the same spot. In a contained compost bin. Over and over and over. When I had run out of energy to say for the 17th time, “Hmmm, I wonder where Emmett and Fia are?” we switched to another game: throwing all the toys in the bin. Then taking them out.

By then, it was time for bed. Or at least the beginning of the bedtime routine.

Any good tips on what you’ve spontaneously turned into toys?

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Why I Liked My Mammogram

Friday, July 12th, 2013

I’ve never been so excited to get a mammogram. Not because it’s at all fun. Not because I want to get it over with due to my-hypochondia-that-makes-my-head-spin-at-night-over-the-alleged-tumors-growing-in-my-body-that-will-leave-my-kids-motherless. No, I was excited because I got to be in the car for 15 minutes. Alone. Then in the waiting room for 15 minutes. Alone. I was actually hoping they were running late. I brought the paper just in case. Then I had another 15 minute drive home. Alone.

It’s the same reason I love getting stuck in traffic in Los Angeles–which is not hard to do. But only if I’m alone.

It’s my time. I can listen to NPR, not Elmo. I can talk on the phone, not scream at my kids to stop screaming.  I don’t have to keep them awake with my own terrible vocal chords by botching Old MacDonald so they won’t fall asleep and screw me on the afternoon nap.

I know every parent can relate to what I’m saying so my words are nothing new. In fact, my friend and fellow blogger Jill Simonian has started to take naps in her car. She took a video of how it’s done. I’ve done it once myself and it felt great.

But back to my boobs. I had to wait 7-months after breastfeeding to get this routine mammogram done. And while I know I’m all over the place here–and I wrote recently about the sad state of my boobs–I actually do have a question. I seem to still have a tingling sensation at times. I wouldn’t call it a sharp pain, or even the “letdown” but it comes and goes, mostly in my left boob. The technician thought that was fairly common. Is it?

Do any of you who have stopped breastfeeding for a while still experience a tingling feeling intermittently throughout the day? Because if not, it is one more thing for me to spin over.

Maybe this is too much information. But in light of the Holly McNish video poem–which I hope you all have watched–I figure I may as well start an adult discussion about boobs that is more meaningful than a tacky billboard full of them (if you’re confused as to what I’m referencing, watch the link above).

Now, if my mammogram comes back with problems, I will eat this post. All of it. Until then, I’m standing by my delightful mammogram excursion.


Pic of mammogram machine via Shutterstock

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Finding The Perfect Bubbles

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

Fourth of July is almost here. The question is: Have you found your bubbles yet?

Emmett is obsessed with bubbles. I secretly am too. But so many of the bubble guns, etc always break. I have filled up a landfill with plastic crap that produces three bubbles before conking out. So in my quest to find the perfect bubbles, I stumbled upon a great find. A plastic tennis racket thing. It’s brilliant. Forget fireworks, these are way more fun.

I found it while attending an event my friend and fellow blogger, Jill Simonian of The Fab Mom, put on recently. She hosted a luncheon for moms and tots, called “Littles Who Lunch” at The Americana in Los Angeles.

It was to benefit the charity Operation Smile (as well as kill a few hours in our day with the babes). Her husband is a plastic surgeon at Children’s Hospital and also volunteers for the organization. Their mission is to provide free surgeries for cleft palates and other facial deformities for children around the world.

I stopped by not knowing what to expect.  I had no idea it would end up being the highlight of mine and Emmett’s week/month–maybe even year.  Give the boy balls, bubbles and balloons and boom. We’re done. Give me some good food and bubbles and my mid-life crisis can be averted.

We walked onto the lawn and there were balls everywhere. He took off shrieking.

But then it got better. A balloon artist was there. Cue more shrieking. (Hard to get the picture of him running and screaming without making a scene, but trust me, my dude is a screamer.)

Then I saw the pools. Full of bubbles. And wands. We both dashed towards it.

That’s where I discovered the tennis racket thing, among other wands. I think the key is getting the solution right too. I have found in my research that Gazillions of Bubbles tends to work the best. Plus there is a thick wand that produces, well, gazillions of bubbles. No batteries needed, thus no need to fill a landfill.

Anyone have a perfect bubble-making device? Let me know. Forget world peace. This is the crucial stuff that keeps me up at night. I truly believe no one can have too many bubbles. Happy 4th everyone.

 Look! He’s a bubblehead:


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