Stirring the pot, raising hell and rearing children in the Bay Area

Posts Tagged "sahm"

House of Blues

Posted on Jan 10, 2011 in Featured, Rants |

House of Blues

I went on Twitter and DMed @la_gringa with capitalized swear words describing the latest in a fitful rage from our house upon us, it’s lowly unsuspecting dwellers.

This time, it’s the dishwasher that went from silent rinse cycle to Jabba-the-Hutt moans within minutes. And then it wouldn’t turn off. At all. I went to go outside to the power box, but I couldn’t. Why, you might ask? Because the side door is broken. Not the lock, the door. An expensive door, no less. An expensive door whose company (obviously for building shitty doors) went out of businesses. So now we need a new side door and a dishwasher/Jabba-the-Hutt killer.

Of course this is barely on the heels of the window this morning where my daughter exclaimed, “Oh look mommy, it rained in the kitchen.” Frigging million-year-old uninsulated windows just were no match for a winter’s night and a heating duct right next to it. No worries, the window (and most of them now in our home) are non-functional. The quaint 100-year-old house look isn’t so quaint when it all falls apart. Today I counted: only five of the 22 windows in our downstairs can actually open. The others are all broken, sealed shut or have busted pulleys (yes, that old). Oh, and the five that work? Four of them are poorly replaced windows with missing screens on most, the other one I jammed unlocked for safety.

I’d escape it all to my upstairs abode for a good marathon of Dog, the Bounty Hunter, but the TV there suddenly no longer has sound. I guess the LG is sick of the political rhetoric too and finally cut off the volume to save me from myself. Ah, maybe I’ll take a warm shower to relieve the stress of a falling apart house — oh wait, that won’t work, the (relatively new) grout is all dissolved away and new mold creeps in daily. I think I’ll pass on the cozy shower and go for a bath — nope. The drain stopper is broken and the towel rack fell down because the old lathen plaster can’t hold a screw. I’d use the downstairs shower, but it was constructed improperly and will flood the floor. I am convinced that a blind Bob-the-Builder and his estranged lover, Handy Manny built this house.

I feel like running away before I’m reminded that this house is more than most will ever have, with neighbors and friends surrounding me that I couldn’t dream of having. I hate my house until I remember that my children live one block from their grandparents and can walk to school. I loathe being here until I realize that if it weren’t for this home, we’d have never had all the fun that caused all this ruckus to start with.

Today though, I wish I had a little shack on the beach reading novels and watching the sunset while Mr. Roper fixed the leaky faucets.

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Bilingualism is Inevitable, So What’s the Problem?

Posted on Mar 30, 2010 in Featured, School |

Bilingualism is Inevitable, So What’s the Problem?

The kids sang and celebrated, paper painted signs hung from the balcony and Colombian music played in the courtyard. From where I stood, this was one heck of a celebration — our teacher had been named the California Bilingual Educator of the Year! I couldn’t stop smiling and watching the Latino children playing and dancing with their white-faced buddies, completely unaware of the minefield around them. Overheard in the hum of the singing and dancing was a parent blurting out, “You’d think we were the minority here,” while another across the yard was heard saying, “It’s not Cinco de Mayo, is it?”

Well, Dorothy, you’re not in Kansas anymore. Whites are the minority at our San Jose Unified school, just like other awesome schools in the area, including the renowned Cupertino school district where the Asian population far surpasses that of the white community. And, many of these children are learning in two languages like their European counterparts who master at least bilingualism by age 12. Having children who are bilingual statistically leads to all kind of rad stuff — from advanced math skills, music comprehension and higher AP scores. It leads children to be multi-cultural too. You can bet my half-Mexican butt that no parent with children enrolled in Two Way Bilingual Immersion would ever consider saying the derogatory kind of things parents are overheard saying. What is the problem?

I started my children in Spanish Immersion in Kindergarten. I expected a delay in language skills. Instead my children read at over 90 percent comprehension in both English and Spanish on advanced levels. I expected a lack of integration with schoolmates not enrolled in the Spanish Immersion program. Instead I found my children to be playground ambassadors. I expected my children to resent learning in Spanish when neighborhood buddies got off easy and learned in English only. Instead, my children tout their Spanish-language learning as an elite class.

Of all the things I expected, the backlash from parents unhappy with the Spanish Immersion program at their school was not only unexpected, it was shocking. As a parent, I find myself between two worlds: that where my neighborhood mommies drink Starbucks and get their nails done, and, those neighborhood mommies who wipe the floors at night at the same shops in order to make rent. I find myself championing for a culture that seems as much a part of our community as the other. I live in Limbo between these two worlds.

I’m no fool. I understand that socio-economic status and ethnicity go hand-in-hand here in San Jose and that it’s the expendable-income families that truly make the school go-round. They offer intellectual wealth beyond their financial wealth. They are educated and value education. They contribute time, treasure and talent. Those things are the differentiators at our school that make it a great place to be. Here, in a state where public education is suffering exponentially, we rely incredibly heavily on the families that have something to spare. Our children’s futures rely on it.

But the truth is this: California has nearly as many Spanish-speakers as English-speakers. We are becoming a bilingual state. What else is true is that many Latino families in San Jose just can’t give to their schools in the same way we can. There are few gifts that English-learning families can offer to our local schools. They don’t have the time to give (two jobs!) or the treasure to give. But there is talent to give. And one of those things is helping our English-only children learn Spanish fluently. It’s a special and important way these families can give back to their community, their school, their classmates.

I truly do not understand why bilingual education in San Jose isn’t more embraced. What can be the downside? Better educated, more well-rounded, bilingual, biliterate, bicultured children? I’ll take that risk.

Original post to SV Moms Blog.

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Is Boyscouts Morally Wrong for Us?

Posted on Mar 23, 2010 in Family and Friends, Featured, Rants |

Is Boyscouts Morally Wrong for Us?

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when I found out that my kid would not be welcome as a Boy Scout.

I knew that there would be places and people along the way that could pose issues for my child from having been born to same-sex parents. I had done my homework. It was only after a lot of research, thought, prayer, self-torture that I decided to have children by an anonymous sperm donor. As my children began growing up,  I prepared myself and them for the day that we might be ostracized.  And now, at the ripe age of 6 1/2, the day is here: My son wants to be a BoyScout.

I knew before I had children that being in the Boy Scouts was a likely no-go because of their (shockingly legal) stand on gay people.  What I didn’t account for was that my son would want to be a Boy Scout so badly that I’d have to consider foregoing my own moral standards, and consider my son’s desire to be part of an organization that discriminates against his parents.

If you don’t know the back-story, here’s the brief recap: In 2000, the Supreme Court ruled (Boy Scouts of America vs. Dale) that The Boy Scouts of America was a private organization and could set whatever criteria they wanted for their membership. Today, the organization legally prohibits Atheists, Agnostics and Gay people. The organization fought to uphold the right to ban and refuse membership to any of the above. The ruling stands today.

My son is the grandchild of two Eagle Scouts who, by all accounts with the exception of faith,  follow the Boy Scout creed and, indeed, are two of the most moral people I have ever known. To follow in their footsteps would be a great honor and my son believes with all of his heart that he will grow up to be like his granddads and obtain the very special honor of Eagle Scout. My first question was to my step dad who told me that the national organization had little to do with the local troops — it was all about the scout master and not about the politics. He might be right.

When I contacted our local troop leader, she replied with the following:

” Pack *** is a family centered group, our focus and concern is with the child and welcome any boy wanting to participate in scouting.  Our Pack does not discriminates against anyone due to their color, race, or religious practices.  We encourage active participation of all  family members regardless of what makes up a scouts family.  We do not address private, personal, or political issues at the pack level.  That is not our focus, again, the scout is our focus and concern.  I hope to see your son there and look forward to meeting you.”

This gave me great hope, and I planned a date to take my son to his first meeting. That was until I was sent the 2010 Boy Scouts of America Bylaws, which states:

“We believe that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the requirement in the Scout Oath that a Scout be morally straight and in the Scout Law that a Scout be clean in word and deed and homosexuals do not provide a desirable role model for Scouts.”

With that creed in-tow, a two-mom family’s son was kicked out of boy scouts in Vermont in 2009. It was followed by a deep decline in membership and loss of sponsorship including the United Way, director and Eagle Scout Steven Spielberg, Levi Strauss, Chase Bank and CVS. Entire states withdrew annual contributions. Religious organizations including the United Church of Christ, the Secular Coalition of America, and the Unitarian Universalists all issued statements indicating that any form of discrimination was against the teachings of Christ.

Despite all of this support, I remain confused about our decision about whether or not to allow our son to participate in Boy Scouts. I never want my child deprived of anything because of my personal choices. My partner and I talked about what to do. Do we want to roll the dice and allow him to participate, knowing that he could get kicked out? Should we  try and divert efforts to something like Adventure Guides, the YMCA version of Boy Scouts? I have friends who have refused to be a part of Boy Scouts because it discriminates openly; are we hypocritical if we don’t follow suit?

Last week we sat down with our boy and explained to him the basic facts as cleanly and with as little opinion as we could muster.  After he told us that he would karate chop anybody that didn’t like his two moms, he told us simply, “I want to go for it anyway. I know they could kick me out.”

The decision is here, yet  I’m unable to make it without reservation. The Boy Scout law states that: “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.”  Oh, the hypocrisy — if only the Boy Scout organization acted with the same vigor of their Law, then my son could have the chance to follow in the footsteps of their granddads and be an Eagle.

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Feeling Right at Home

Posted on Sep 8, 2008 in Family, Friends, Rants and Raves |

I’ve been waiting until I truly felt something to write about the kids first weeks in school, my seismic shift to being at home all the time, the advancements of La Gringa’s work beyond our little company. There’s been so much inspiration everywhere, just none that has sprinkled its dust on my urge to write.

My mom — having been a mother, a senior executive, philanthropist, paralysis and war survivor, wife, sister, friend and role model — has said for years:

Women can have it all, but not all at the same time.

I’ve never agreed with her, until now.

Somehow in the midst of female powerhouses from Dara Torres and the US women’s soccer team to Hillary, Michelle and yes, even Sarah Palin, I’ve suprised myself that my sole focus has been CEM (Chief Executive Mommy). Now all the women I just named are working *and* raising kids, and maybe they’re better at the multi-tasking thing than I am, but I’ve never been so certain that I am finally exactly where I should be — home.

I completely got off today on finding this Mr. Clean thingy that gets rid of wall scuffs, and tootled around the house getting rid of marks on my walls while blasting the TechCrunch 50 (#tc50) through the wireless speaker system in the house. I’ve shot off a few emails to clients, potential clients and past clients with ideas that have recently popped up that I have been unable to muster for months; and amidst the confusion of figuring out the mystery of laundry darks and lights, I’ve managed to flesh out a couple of business ideas I’ve had on the back burner forever. I even had time to RSVP yes to my first-ever PTA meeting for tomorrow night moments after chit-chatting with a VC buddy of mine about a business plan I was asked to read.

So yeah, I’m scaled back… waaaaay back in one job and ramping up like a fiend in the mom gig, but I’m liking the balance, I’m liking how much more creative I am when the pressure is less intense, I’m amazed at how much I truly, truly enjoy my time with the kids and how nothing comes close to the feeling of doing this job well.


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Home Changes

Posted on Aug 26, 2008 in Family and Friends, Family, Friends, Rants and Raves |

Mommy: I have to finish my chores, so I can’t play anymore.

Thing 1: Why? (x300)

Mommy: I have to do more chores now so I can be the one to pick you up from school every day.

Thing 1, Thing 2: What chores can we do? Let’s put away the clothes! Let’s clean up! I can help! Clothes are put away! What’s next Mom?

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. No crying until after Wednesday, the first full day of Kindergarten. This is harder and more precious and more beautiful than I thought it would be.


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Washable? My Sorry Domestic Ass

Posted on Aug 20, 2008 in Family, Friends, Rants and Raves, Rants, Seasons |

The top three stupidest arts and crafts products purchased this summer:


The Crayola Sidewalk Paint Sprayer

Riiiight. Unless Crayola meant wash and wear, this paint is not at all washable, leaving stains on my sidewalk, bricks and children’s fingernails for days on-end (Yes, I washed the children and the bricks — although I gave the bricks a better scrubbing since they don’t yell at me.). Did the product mention the part about splattering out of the sprayer on all sides, leaving a massive green muck explosion on my walkway?
Rating: Colored Crap (CC)


Party Hair Color

Such a great day camp my kids attended that I’ll even forgive the “temporary” hair spray. So temporary, in fact, that it wouldn’t come out for six days. That’s six long days of strangers asking me if we were “at a carnival today?” I sent La Gringa scrubbing poor Thing 2’s scalp after photos from The Picture People came back a little, um, reddish on the noggin.

Rating: Colored Crap with bonus Chemicals. (CCC)


Elmer’s Squeeze ‘n’ Brush

And the winner for the dumbest Target purchase of the summer season: The Squeeze ‘n’ Brush which is more like Squeeze and Burst (All Over My Kitchen Walls). Washable? Okay, fine, on the table, yes, on the walls, sure with a little elbow grease and Clorox Cleanup, but on the kids and me? NFW. I can’t get that fricking paint out of my nail beds for all the manicures in Vietnam.

Rating: Exploding Colored Crap (ECC).

I’m sticking to Marks’a’Lot permanent markers. Even *that* washed off the kidlets easier — well, at least with a little baby oil and a brillo pad.

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