Monday, November 24, 2008

The basement...a love story

I never grew up with an appreciation for a basement. Well, that isn't entirely true. I appreciated that I could always sneak down to the damp, dark dungeon and steal a bottle of Chardonnay when I was 16...but it was a quick and undetectable maneuver. I never spent a lot of time in our basement.

So when my husband insisted that we have a basement in our house I was indifferent. Sounds good, I said, and never thought much more about it. And honestly, for the first year that we lived here I remained indifferent. Sure it was a great space, but the little boy didn't ever want to be there by what was the point? That was, until this week.

Indifference has morphed into infatuation. I love the basement these days. You see, for the past week I have sent both kids to the basement and turned right back around, walked upstairs, and listened to...silence. Having his sister downstairs provides the right amount of company to make it the fun place my husband always knew it would be. Every day before school I hear, "Come on little girl let's go play army men." And she goes. And every night they run down there to play after dinner.

And quickly and undetectably, I sneak back upstairs to enjoy a bottle of Chardonnay. Old basement habits die hard.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dear Santa,

Yes, it is that time of year. Halloween decorations have come down, some ( neighbors are those kind of people) have put up their Christmas decorations, and talk of the nightmare that is Thanksgiving travel is all over the news. (Don't pack too much, try to carry it on, don't bring matches to set you shoes on fire, and don't even think of bringing your nail clippers...yadda, yadda, yadda.)

So what does that mean in my household? It means that the endless list of things Santa is going to bring to our house has begun.

Mommy, I want new cars.

Well, maybe you should ask Santa.

Mommy, I want Spiderman figurines.

Well, put it on your list for Santa.

Mommy, I want a sword, a knife, and a pirate's hook.

I pause. I don't know what to respond to this one. Do I look like freakin' Angelina Jolie? Well...even if I do...that's not the you really think Santa is going to bring you a knife?

So on the fly I say...

Hmm...I don't think Santa is allowed to fly with sharp objects. Or with liquids in quantities greater than 4oz for that matter. Sorry kiddo.

And do you know what his response is?

We better make sure his suitcase isn't too heavy either Mommy, or they'll charge him lots of money.

I think it is time to turn off the TV.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Date Night

Friday night I went out on a date with the 4 year old. Dinner and a movie. Sounded like a great theory. But not so much in practice.

You see, this was a group date, kind of like in high school. 4 year olds and their mommies (and one brave daddy!). My nice quiet dinner chatting about school, our favorite friends, and our plans for the weekend while sipping on a Shiraz and an apple juice never really materialized. Because...I wasn't really the date of choice for my 4 year old, his friends were. So the dinner turned out to be a small wrestling match, game of chase, and a race to see if I could shove some food in my mouth in between telling my boy to not jump on the table, knock over the chairs and tickle the people he didn't know. We survived. It wasn't relaxing, but at one point the boy looked at me and said, "Mommy, I LOVE date night."

This oh so relaxing dinner was followed by walking to the movie theater where there were two fire engines parked outside. Have you ever seen what a fire engine does to a four year old? Imagine what it is like giving the Tasmanian Devil speed. That is about what it was like when we saw the flashing lights and men in uniform.

Turns out that these nice men and women in uniform weren't there to add fuel to our date night fire...they were there to put out one. The Pizzeria Uno's next to the theater had a smoke alarm that was going off causing the fire alarms in the restaurant and the theater to go off. and go off. and go off. and go off.

Needless to say, we never made it to the end of the movie. With about 20 minutes left and our third fire alarm we all threw in the towel. Free passes to another movie in hand, I think the mommies and daddy all agreed that next time we'll be taking dates that can pay the bill, read the menu, and go potty by themselves. It's not too much to ask is it? And I promise at the end of that night I'll be saying, "I LOVE date night" too.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

His Response

So my father responded to my blog via my e-mail. This is the father who, when I got my first article published in a newsletter after college sent it back to me with all my grammatical errors circled in red AFTER it was in the mail to the subscribers. I think it went something like, "You need to watch your split infinitives. Love, Daddy."

But his response this time was a much bigger correction. It read:

I'm not as good as you claim...and however close I come to your Mommystar image is a credit to your mother...else I'd still be smoking Lucky's and telling racial jokes! Thanks. Love...DADDY

And as I retype the note, I realize that not only is he correcting my ability to tell a story for dramatic effect, but there is also a grammatical correction embedded in his note. Yes...I like the ellipsis (...) Daddy...and I'm going to keep it that way...Love, me!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Who's the winner here?

In case you are a blind person reading this blog. I am a white woman. I am a white woman who comes from a upper-middle class family and I have never really wanted for anything in my life. Yes I want some new shoes, and I want to lose 10 pounds...but through my lame attempt of humor, you know what I mean. I have lived and continue to live a privileged life. I am extremely lucky.

So you might think that I wouldn't be that overwhelmed by Obama's victory on Tuesday. But I am. I am brought to tears, I feel like dancing in the streets, and I can't watch enough news these days to satiate my thirst for more celebration of this historic event.

Stick with me people, even if you didn't vote for Obama. This is not about him, really, it is about parenting and its everlasting effects.

You see for my entire life I have been listening to stories. You know how it is in families. I have heard these stories so many times, I almost feel like I was there for most of them. But repetition has its effects and these stories have stuck with me.

We have Rose Medallion china throughout my parents' house. We have lamps, we have flower vases, we have a complete set of dinnerware, we have huge serving pieces...we have a lot. And as the story goes, my grandfather, a renowned lawyer in Baltimore in the 30's and 40's represented a Chinese man who wanted to buy a house in a nice neighborhood in Baltimore. This particular neighborhood was, let's say, less than thrilled that a Chinese man would want to move in, so they went to court. My grandfather and the Chinese man won the case and on the doorstep the next day was this entire load of Rose Medallion china...a rather grateful thank you to say the least.

Any time someone comments on the china, it is my father that repeats this story. The youngest son of my grandfather. The son that was only 9 years old when his father died, but also the son that carries the torch of this community organizer/civil rights advocate.

My father, the educator for 40+ years, has shown us day in and day out what it truly means to "do the right thing." Stories of his life run the gamut of sticking up for a minority friend at a diner in the South in the 60's when they couldn't get served to losing his job in the 90's in part for giving out too many minority scholarships. I got to see my father at work almost everyday of my youth since he was the head of my school. He showed compassion and belief for all students. He ingrained in all of us that intolerance was unacceptable and that equality was essential. I know all of this from the bottom of my heart, and I know this without reading, studying, or listening to a lecture. I know it because I saw it...I experienced it.

So today, as we embark on a future with Obama as president, I have to stop and ask. What are my children going to learn from me? What am I doing on a day to day basis that is going to have an ever-lasting effect on them? How are my actions effecting their world-view?

As a feeble response to those questions, we are going to celebrate this momentous occasion till the cows come home. Through all the news watching, newspaper reading, and inauguration attending my kids are going to know that it isn't just important an important day for African-Americans. It is a monumental day for all of us.

And I hope in 20 years when they reflect on this time they will laugh at the idea that we thought it was such a big deal, just like I laugh at the idea of trying to keep someone from buying a house in my neighborhood.

Monday, November 03, 2008

A Small Accomplishment

So I may still only be on page 2 of the book I am writing, but Tea has published one of my blogs.

Read it here. And whether you agree with me or my in-laws, vote tomorrow!

Halloween Hangover

Since when did Halloween become such an event?

I guess ever since Target started putting up their decorations in August.

Don't get me wrong, I love Halloween. I love dressing up. I love trick-or-treating. I even love how my neighborhood has embraced decorating their houses in true Griswald fashion. But there are some things about Halloween that I really could do without.

Carving pumpkins. I used to love doing this...create a face, put a candle in it, and call it a day. But these days carving a pumpkin is nothing short of trying to copy a Van Gogh on a misshapen orb that is bumpy and slimy all at the same time. 2 triangles and a bucktooth smile isn't good enough anymore. And you know what else, my father isn't here anymore to clean out that nasty pumpkin mucus. I totally took the easy way out this year and Mr. Pumpkin Headed it. Give me a phillips-head screwdriver and a Mr. Potato Head and there we have it...the slacker's pumpkin.

The candy. Sure, I think a little candy and indulgence for the kids is great. But for me, it is my Achilles heel. About a month ago, I hit Costco and purchased TWO bags of candy. Not two bags from the regular grocery store, but two bags, big enough to feed an army, 300 pieces of chocolate candy...the good kind, none of the cheap stuff. Somehow, in that huge warehouse of bargains, I convinced myself that I needed to a) purchase the candy in September and b) have a lot because Halloween was on a Friday. I spent the whole month sneaking a piece here and a piece there. At the rate I was going through it, I probably did need 2 bags. Eventually I made my husband hide the candy and he did, in a place I NEVER would have looked...with the Nutri-System food.

The hangover. After a celebration that was longer than Ramadan topped off with Daylight Savings Time. We are suffering big time around here. No parties to go to, no excuses to eat candy, and no patience left at all. And after all that candy eating last week, I may actually have to dip in the Nutri-System food...but not for the good stuff.