Friday, November 2, 2012

Oh to have your problems

At every stage of my life I have looked back at my younger days and thought "oh to have those struggles, what a fool". I was thinking this kind of thing when I was nine. I actually remember thinking wistfully about "baby problems" somewhere around 6th grade. 

I worry about Jack. He's like me in so many ways. He has WAY too much angst for a 5 year old. Actually he has way too much angst for a human, much less a 5 year old human. The list of things he worries about it endless, and unpredictable. I find myself trying to plan, and explain things for him so thoroughly, and inevitably I fail to mention some tiny thing, or fail to imagine, that some aspect of an activity will cause him CRIPPLING anxiety. Then I fantasize about how I used to be able to take drugs when life got crazy or unmanageable. Then I snap back to reality, and try to talk him off the ledge because, really he is going to be FINE if Miss Alison (the apple of his eye), or ANYONE ELSE ON EARTH walks him, the 72 feet from his classroom to his after school taekwondo class, that he loves. Instead of mommy or daddy coming in the middle of the day, for the 32 second walk from his classroom, to his taekwondo class, THAT HE LOVES.

This of course does not happen in one sitting. Or even one afternoon. This tragedy unfolds over days and weeks of us talking around and around, trying to get to the nut of what is happening. Until finally after 3 weeks of asking every 3.27 minutes, "how many days until taekwondo?" And "what is the plan for taekowndo?" And "who is going to walk me to taekwondo?" Which we establish over and over, HE LOVES! We finally get to the bottom of it. "I don't like to listen to the other kid's names being called, and knowing their parents are outside, and they are going home with their mommy and daddy, and I am going to taekwondo" (WHICH YOU LOOOOOVE!!!), he finally croaks out in between sobs, one afternoon at the kitchen table. OHHHHHHH! I get it. Poor bubs.

How bad is your life when your biggest problem is that you love your mom and dad so much, that you hate to think of other kids getting to be with theirs, instead of going to learn how to kick ass Korean style.

I ask him if there is something he can occupy himself with while the kid's names are being called, if there is any way to maybe solve this problem ourselves. "I could read a really long book!" he exclaims. I want to eat his face. "Yes! I think that's a great idea! We'll tell Miss Alison our plan tomorrow! Right before pickup, you grab a long book, and start reading. Do you feel better? Good. I love you"  And I do. But, god, I want to rough him up a little. How on earth is he going to get through dating, and braces, and libertarians?!

The next day, I see his teacher in the morning, and I begin to explain our problem, and proposed solution. She cuts me off at the pass. "Actually I have a plan, because he's not the only one who is struggling with that. I have decided that I will personally walk them all over to taekwondo BEFORE parents get here for pickup." Done. So...he is not alone. I am not alone.

I am always isolating myself like some uninitiated teenager, when I have a hard time with something. I stupidly believe I am the only human being to ever struggle with say, mom fatigue, actor self loathing, or, "oh my silly husband doesn't seem to understand that stockings don't go in my pants drawer just because they go on my legs-itis" (yes, this IS the most passive aggressive way I could think to tell him). Yup, I'm the only one who ever felt like they were failing miserably at work/mom/marriage balance. Apparently I've never heard of Oprah.

And frankly, Jack is my easy child (for now). This morning, I discovered, that no person in the history of humankind has ever experienced as much despair as Charlie Tru when you try to put a pair of socks on him. Socks! Soft, cozy bamboo socks. I mean, you would think I was trying to saw off his leg with my teeth. Good thing we don't live in an actual cold climate, because it looks like he will be spending the winter in crocs with no socks. Heh, baby problems.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

no YOU shut up

Yesterday Nipper Knapp told me that I should just change the name of my blog to But he's stupid (at least 12 I.Q. points ahead of me for his ability to remember every single thing that has happened in every single sport. Ever. I'm just jealous.) (Also he went to UofM which gives him a point or 2 just for sheer volume of students...) And maybe he's just mad because he saw this in the downstairs bathroom last night:

Paint chips just make Nipper Knapp ANGRY!!!!

I'd love to know if this kind of things fills him with apathy, dread, fury, or secret excitement that someone wants to give him a brand new mint green pissoir. I'm so generous.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Jacaranda house

See how nicely the dark wood looks against the blossoms? That's how my wall will look with persian violet gates! 

Trumpets! We have a winner! After buying SEVEN different colors of brown samples, for the brick wall, I finally chose one. The ONLY one that Nipper Knapp said he absolutely didn't want. But hear me out. The other ones looked too poopy, or to drab. The lighter ones, that I thought I'd love looked like nursing home spit up. I chose Willow. Nipper Knapp thought it was too grey and would look like cinder block. BUT...I had a revelation.

We both agreed that red gates would be cute, and they always say a red door will help sell your house and make it look like a home. The problem with that is we are not red people. We are blue people. Green people. Sometimes pink and orange people. But never red. It didn't go with anything about us or our house. It made everything seem very traditional, and our house is anything but that. I even tried a "parrot red" that had a lot of orange in it. But next to my lavender plants, the jacaranda tree, and purple and turquoise pots...Hey! That's when I had the revelation. We could paint the gates the same color as the jacaranda blossoms!

I didn't even have to go to the paint store. I have an entire drawer FILLED with paint swatches. I took the purples out in the yard and matched them as best I could with a fallen blossom. The true match would have been something too close to a unicorns and rainbow outfit I had when I was 9, so I went with a slightly more subdued Persian Violet. It looks amazing with the green, brings out the jacaranda. Brings UP the brown in the Willow. AND it goes with ME! Oh and Nipper Knapp says he actually likes it. Hooray! WIN!

Great. Done. Well except the painting part. When am I going to get a chance to do that? Who fucking knows. I'm a working mom you know. But aren't you proud that it only took 2 weeks to pick the color? Well, 2 weeks of talking, and a year before of thinking. Someone pat me on my em effing back. Then take my husband and kids for a long walk so I can eat ice cream on the couch in my underwear without being mauled. Daughters don't maul you right? They just sit nicely on the couch with you until they are 9, and then they tell you your'e whole life is a lie. I could live with that.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

I need a hero

You've heard this one before. Girl meets boy. Girl falls in love. Girls get's married, buys house, has babies, loses identity, goes creatively adrift, girl's husband insists she take grueling acting intensive to get her mojo back, girl is filled with dread, but goes. Acting intensive is scary, rewarding, and yes grueling. Girl remembers that husband is best friend in the world, and possibly saver of sad previous single life. Girl smothers husband in fit of grateful hugs and tearful kisses due to lack of sleep, emotional instability and gratitude. Husband laughs at crazy wife. Baby does something adorable, kindergartner says something brilliant. Ray Charles sings... You've heard this one before. Right? 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Can we please have a moment of silence for the mom staring at her appliances

That thing where you are so stunned your kids are asleep that you can't remember one thing on the list of things you've been thinking you need to do all day, and you stand in your kitchen for a full three minutes silently staring at the blender. That.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Let the simplification begin! (right after this...)

I shouldn't start right back with the swearing, because I know we are on tentative terms here, but seriously, fuck this fucking house sometimes. How can I love my house, and want to burn it to the ground and take the kids to live in a coconut hut in tahiti at the same time? Something happens when you get married. Something no one tells you about. Or maybe they do, but I don't listen to people when they talk because most of the time they are SO boring! You start to acquire stuff. All kinds of stuff. At first it's cute little stuff like dishes, and towels. But then it's bigger more serious stuff like couches, and cars, and ouef cribs, because no baby of mine is going to live with hard edges! Never mind that now, you have buy round sheets, and a fancy vacuum, and a hutch for all those dishes, and new tires for your car, like every five minutes.

One day inevitably, this stuff starts to own you. Your daily life is all about maintaining the stuff, instead of laying on the floor with the kids, and eating food out a bag (most good food comes from a  bag, go ahead argue with me...Doritos. Done)

I've been in this giant purge since Charlie was born. Sending boxes of clothes to our beautiful niece, who looks much better in them than I ever did. Donating carloads of toys to the daycare (sorry Buzz), and throwing away MASSIVE quantities of papers, birthday party favors, and broken things that I WILL NEVER FIX. Adding one more body (albeit a bison sized body) to this house, was our tipping point. The amount of stuff, just became too much. Clothes, toys, furniture, papers, art projects, books, broken stuff, old stuff, unfixable stuff. Endless amounts of sorting and decision making. When what I want, every day, is to just sit. To swing in the swing chair and tell stories, and watch them play, to color, and read books (books are never on the list of too much stuff), and just have peace.

Our house is tidy, every thing has a place, but as the mom, I have a catalog of every single thing in it, including the stuff in bins in the basement. The catalog is now so large, that huge chunks of important stuff has been edged out of my brain. I am a nervous wreck at all times, even when there is nothing wrong. And I've decided it's because of the stuff.

So this year, I am open to all and any suggestions for living more simply with kids. I'm canceling catalogs, clicking unsubscribe on spam emails, signing up for online bill pay for anything that doesn't require monitoring. And no more new stuff until the old stuff is all used up. Both boys have clothes drawers that barely close. Jack has 7 pairs of shoes that fit him right now. Absurd.

I'm going to stop beating myself up about not having planted tomatoes in the raised bed yet, because truthfully I always let them wither on the vine, because I don't have time to make my own damned spaghetti sauce to preserve. Also, I like Rao's. Sue me. What a failure! People can see my failure from SPACE!

More time to write, play, eat (no more cadging a few bites of mac and cheese standing up), less time maintaining stuff. I know it's not New Years, but I'm getting an early start. 2012 has been all around stink town, so I'm calling it officially closed. 2013 starts right now...

The first project, I need your help with? Paint chips. And this doesn't count as new stuff, this counts as not letting the old stuff crumble to dust. Don't  you love how we get the psychoanalysis out of the way before we move on to creative endeavors. SO healthy. One should never pick paint colors with a muddled mind.

Our neighborhood is one of the oldest in LA. Our house was built in 1928. Or maybe 1929, I can't remember, and you know why. It's called a transitional house because it's neither spanish nor craftsmen but at odd little mix of both. To me it's a stucco farmhouse. It's got a pitched roof, but terra-cotta tiles on the porches. The oddest thing is our flour de lys retaining wall. There are several of these in the neighborhood. The owner of another one down the hill, said they are french foreign legion bricks. I don't know if that's true, but it makes me like them 3% more than I do which is not much. We can't replace the wall because we are in a historical overlay, and they'd fine us, or put us in stocks with a sign around our heads that says "killer of context" or something like that. I don't mind the bricks themselves, so much as the overall effect of the dark red square bricks with the old white, chipping mortar. Oh and the GIANT concrete fleur de lys, on each pedestal. It looks like a french brothel in Tijuana to me, and I don't want to go to there.

If you tell me we should paint the trim to match the wall, I'll faint, because 1. that's not going to happen and 2. I have a strong inclination we should... Marija fait boom.

The other people painted their wall, and it looks so much better. Like almost cute. So I'm in. Let's do this thing. Before you go and tell me I shouldn't paint brick, and I'm going to regret it, my life is filled with bad choices, and this will be the least of them. Also it's happening, so get on board.

In full sun under the loverly flour de lys (should we knock these off?)

In shade

Our house is a pale jadeite green with white trim. We have lots of trees and shrubs with soft foliage around the house, and in the spring the jacaranda tree is filled with purple blossoms. The terra-cotta makes is tricky to pick a wall color. You can't go too cool, or it just looks too disjointed. So here are my options, and maybe this is too haphazard to even see, but I'm not going to start painting swatches until I've at least narrowed it down to 3-5 colors.

This is the color combination that Benjamin Moore has on their site as being complimentary. I like it, but think the black bean soup would be too dark for a giant brick wall?

this is the color of our house

What do you guys think? Dark? Lighter? Brown? Greige? Should we paint the Fleur de Lys toppers the same color, or a different color? Should we take a baseball bat to them and tell the HPOZ it was hooligans? Someone tell me what to do?!

Here are some pics of our neighbors houses. Their paint is so cute, and I'd like ours to be complimentary.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Can we get back together?

I was trying to see if I could make it a full year. Just leave it all behind. Make this a blog about longing and neglect. You know, start off strong, make you laugh and cry, get your hopes up, and just when you start to get comfortable, and think about leaving your toothbrush, I start to get weird, and apologetic, sporadic, and then poof, I'm gone, like that underclassmen you dated in college who promised he'd call everyday from his semester abroad at Innsbruck. Did he meet someone else? Is he OK? Why wasn't I good enough. You've probably been sitting at home writing really tragic poetry about mymomsanerd. Lots of stuff about still waters, empty marc jacobs bags, and broken bedazzlers. I know I hurt you. I'd love for you to read it to me...when you're ready.

For real this one time, it was ME, not you. You were awesome, I just needed some time, to you know, work on me. And now that I'm back, I want you to know that I've been around the block a few times, nothing serious, but baby, you're the best. Can we just try to make this work? For old times sake? Sure it'll be awkward at first. You don't trust me. I get it. I really let you down. But everything's different now. I'm different, but still the same. You know? So like, maybe later, after you read my post about paint chips and how my kid goes to a leftist liberal elite training camp (I mean kindergarten)...can we hold hands, or maybe even make out on the train? No? Too soon? Ok, Ok, I'll be patient...because you are worth it.

I'm back bitches. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

school daze

Ok, so I've completely abandoned you. I'm shit. I know it. But if we're going to be friends you're just going to have to understand that from time to time, I'm going to drop you like penicillin drops the plague. It's not personal. It's the cray cray. I wonder sometimes if I did drugs, if I would be able to juggle everything better. I know that sounds counterintuitive. Not a lot of junkies out there that you think "man she has REALLY got it together!". But I just mean you, know, a little dabble to take the edge off...Go ahead, you know you are thinking it. Mother of the year.

Which brings me to the pursuit of knowledge, the search for the right elementary school, or as I like to think of it, the one decision that we make that will possibly influence, the way he learns, the way he feels about school, learning, teachers, and KNOWLEDGE. Whatevs, no biggie. Someone pass the joint, because I am FUCKING FREAKING OUT. But you know, quietly, in a suuuuuper dignified suburban way. I'm asking questions, I'm taking tours. I'm learning about things like "singapore math", and "dolch words".

The thing is, and I know you're thinking it, I know that Nipper and I will be the biggest, most formative influence on how he feels about school, books, learning, etc... But if we choose wrong, or he doesn't get in, I'll feel like maybe we missed an opportunity for everything to be perfect. There I said it. Saying it out loud, is the first step right? I'm Marija, and I keep trying to make everything perfect. Someone please send me a vaporizer. Mommy needs to go bye bye.

We are trying to get him into a good neighboring public school, but don't know if that's going to work out. So we are looking at some privates (that we can't really afford). Yesterday we toured a school that shall remain nameless. It was not for us. I don't want to say I knew it when we were still in the parking lot... But very shortly thereafter. I had to leave half way through the tour, at which point, I was more than sure it was not for us. There were 4 parents of currents students on the tour, with 4 of us who were looking. It was awkward. They were trying too hard. It was like a super awkward group date where they kept grinning, saying how great it was going, and all I wanted to do was go home, put on my buffet pants and watch The Daily Show. The director was a dingbat, and the second grade teacher wore so much perfume, her classroom smelled like church on easter sunday. And for all of that you could have the privilege of paying $16,000 a year. For Kindergarten. And for the uninitiated $16k is at the low end of the "independent school" tuitions. (I guess we've decided "private" sounds too much like we might be excluding someone, and we all learn in pre-k that we never ever exclude anyone...)

At the end of the tour, Nipper said they were standing in the small courtyard  between the classrooms and the modular buildings that make up the school. Oh...yeah...where do you think we are, New England? For $16k, you get a smaller class size, maybe p.e., perhaps art of foreign language, in a school that is usually located in an abandoned public school, or worse an old office building. "But OH LOOK AT OUR PHILOSOPHY!" So they are standing around talking, and the 5th and 6th graders are having their "recess" in this squalid courtyard. One of the parents on the tour asked the director what is their "conflict resolution system"? The dingy director prevaricated briefly, which is shocking, because these things are usually so ingrained in their spiel, it's like they are DYING for you to ask. Then said, they didn't really have one (gasp), as their kids are really good kids, and they don't have incidents often enough to warrant a whole system.

As she was speaking, Nipper looked beyond her shoulder where a wild eyed 10 year old was pounding his fist into an open palm at a fellow student in a menacing manner. The only thing better would have been if he'd dragged his index finger slowly across his neck and mouthed "I will cut you".