The Common Mommy Denominator

I'm a Mom. I need adult conversation. I need to talk about the banalities and the excitements of life, and be understood by the masses. Most of all, I need feedback. Let's chat. You about yours, me about mine, us about ours. Let's find and discuss the Common Mommy Denominator.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Addendum to Below...

So, I up and tried my hand at oils again while Goo was napping, and I think I did a little better this time...both were more like what I was thinking. For those in the book-know, she's the dark and he's the blue-green...obviously. Just wanted to share. (Cory, I know it's NOTHING like what you do, but honestly? I'm just a little impressed with myself! Now I know how you must THE woman!)

On Icing Buckets, Oil Paintings, and Disneyland Passes

I'll try to be brief covering all the above-listed topics, but you know me...brevity doesn't come naturally.
Anyway, here goes: My folks, seeing our crazy urban-garden-loving backyard, bought us a book on Square Foot Gardening...and it rocks. It suggested also planting in buckets, and we thought we were so clever, spending $2.78/5 gallon Home Depot bucket...until it recommended stopping by our local bakery and asking for their empty icing food-grade plastic buckets. Uh...we can do that? So we hit up Food 4 Less, Costco, and Vons this weekend, and scored no less than 10 buckets! (Believe it or not, Costco offered us ONE...Vons gave us two - AND steam-cleaned them for me!!! - and Food 4 Less coughed up FOUR icing buckets and THREE MORE Crema Mexicana buckets!!!) ALL FOR FREE!!! Bye, bye, $2.78/bucket! We're gonna be planting in food-grade plastics! (Yeah, yeah, I know...but we're excited.) I mean, take a look at how these tomato plants GROW in buckets! Scroll back a few entries and compare our tomato plants...a couple weeks ago they were healthy, but now they're out of control!!! They've even got blooming flowers where shortly beautiful yellow cherry tomatoes will be sprouting! HOW STOKED AM I?!?!?! (Remember people, we're talking ME and FOOD...and creating my OWN food. This is a DREAM!)

Jason bought me an oil paint set at Christmas, and I've been trying to get up the courage to suck at oil I just busted 'em out and painted last night. It's abstract, yes, and it's also a test...but for those of you already aware, I'm trying to write a book, and it's exactly where one of the characters IS right now, so...yeah. I won't say I'm super-proud of it or anything, but...I did that. So. Yeah.

So Jason and I got back our Disneyland passes. Yes, it's true, we caved...and now we can go any day, anytime, all the time. Why, you ask, would we blow so much money (plus upgrade Tyler's pass to premium, too)? Well, a few reasons: It kills us when family comes into town and we CAN'T just bomb off to Disney with them...that we don't have free parking to help them drop cars in the lot...that we don't have the 15% food discount or 10% merchandise discount (for them OR us, considering how much we love Steakhouse 55 but can't afford their prices, and this is just the bump we need to enjoy our potato stacks and seven onion soups) name it. Plus, now we have a (paid once, now free) date night activity, and we can take the kids every Saturday morning like we used to...only now we're diaper-bag-free and our kids will actually REMEMBER going! (Okay, at least Tyler will!)

In other words...if you have a Disneyland pass or are planning to hit up the park anytime soon, PLEASE LET ME KNOW!!! We'd love to go with you, or hook you up somehow...after all, we live 5 minutes from the park in heavy traffic!

SINCE we have Disney passes, what did we do for date night Saturday? You guessed it. It was fun, of course, and we did Space Mountain and Soarin' Over CA, but then we decided to head out, and I've just gotta tell you what happened.

So we get on the tram to head, and get around that first bend to go back to the structure, when the tram DIES. So another tram swings around the corner and parks next to us so we can transfer to a working tram, no problem. We're about to go when we hear some women behind us screaming at each other, and a Disney tram dude flipping out. To top it off, he was very gay and had a major lisp (why on earth would you want to adopt a stereotype like that, really?) and half-running along the tram toward the front yelling "Call Security!" Suddenly everyone wants to know what's going on, we're all stuck there waiting for security to show, and the tram behind us and the tram behind them are stopped dead waiting for either our tram or the dead tram to get the heck out of the way.

In other words, ain't nobody goin' nowhere.

So we're hearing women yelling at each other about "assault" and "pressing charges" and thinking WHAT THE HECK!??! Security shows up...followed by no less than SIX police officers (the Downtown Disney cops, no doubt) and another half-dozen Disney employees, and three women get off the tram to kavetch to the officers and offer "their side" of the story, with one of the women's FOUR children getting off 10 minutes later. It's was close to half an hour from the time our original tram tried to leave until we finally were on our way to the parking structure.

So here's what I deduced: A & B were sisters; A had a newborn in arms. C had her four kids. During the tram swap, A was trying to move to the next tram, C was helping her kids on, and A, a very large, portly (read: grossly obese) woman was attempting to shield her baby from the commotion of a slew of kids and adults trying to switch trams. C accused A of "bumping" her, so C bumped back. B stepped in to bump C for bumping A, who was "just trying to protect her baby", so C bumped B, who bumped C back, and then C took things up a notch: she PINCHED B...HARD on the arm. I mean, instant black-and-blue welt-hard. Unreal. So then the screaming, the accusations, the crazy Disney employee stepping in, and basically just complete three or four white trash individuals loudly expressing their intellectually-challenged opinions to add to the insanity.

Did I mention these women were all well into their 40's and 50's?

The saddest part to me was watching those four little kids, all under 8 if a day, disembark from the tram to stand by their mother (C, the pincher) who was being questioned by police. Happiest place on Earth, right? Yeah, it might've been, if their Mom could've only recognized A as a human being trying to care for her baby.

Can I get a YIKES?

Anyway...if you want to grow tomato plants in buckets, go to Food 4 Less. If you want to learn to Oil Paint, talk to somebody else, like my friend Cory, who is not only able, she's GOOD. If you want to go to Disneyland, LET US KNOW!

And for anything else, well, we're leaving for AZ tomorrow, so don't expect much! Sayonara, and I'll be posting again come next week!

Sunday, June 21, 2009


To my Three Favorite Dads:
My Sweet Husband.
My Wonderful Dad.
My Terrific Inherited Dad.
I love you all. Have a fabulous Father's Day!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Attention, Arizonans!

We will be in town next week! We should be in by early evening on Tuesday, and we'll be leaving probably mid-morning or late evening on Sunday, depending on what Jay might have for work the following week. I don't know what everyone's schedule looks like these days, but we'll be around! Love to all, and maybe see you next week?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

It's a Little Long, but Right on the Mark

Got this from a Tea Party friend. I don't necessarily agree with EVERY word,'s still right on the mark, and sums up almost exactly what I'm feeling. If you're tired of politics - we all are - or not up for a long read today, just skip it. Otherwise, enjoy! contains a few typos...not mine.

I'm a home grown American citizen, 53, registered Democrat all my life. Before the last presidential election I registered as a Republican because I no longer felt the Democratic Party represents my views or works to pursue issues important to me. Now I no longer feel the Republican Party represents my views or works to pursue issues important to me. The fact is I no longer feel any political party or representative in Washington represents my views or works to pursue the issues important to me. There must be someone. Please tell me who you are. Please stand up and tell me that you are there and that you're willing to fight for our Constitution as it was written. Please stand up now. You might ask yourself what my views and issues are that I would horribly feel so disenfranchised by both major political parties. What kind of nut job am I? Will you please tell me?

Well, these are briefly my views and issues for which I seek representation:

One, illegal immigration. I want you to stop coddling illegal immigrants and secure our borders. Close the underground tunnels. Stop the violence and the trafficking in drugs and people. No amnesty, not again. Been there, done that, no resolution. P.S., I'm not a racist. This isn't to be confused with legal immigration.

Two, the TARP bill, I want it repealed and I want no further funding supplied to it. We told you no, but you did it anyway. I want the remaining unfunded 95% repealed. Freeze, repeal.

Three: Czars, I want the circumvention of our checks and balances stopped immediately. Fire the czars. No more czars. Government officials answer to the process, not to the president. Stop trampling on our Constitution and honor it.

Four, cap and trade. The debate on global warming is not over. There is more to say.

Five, universal healthcare. I will not be rushed into another expensive decision. Don't you dare try to pass this in the middle of the night and then go on break. Slow down!

Six, growing government control. I want states rights and sovereignty fully restored. I want less government in my life, not more. Shrink it down. Mind your own business. You have enough to take care of with your real obligations. Why don't you start there?
Seven, ACORN. I do not want ACORN and its affiliates in charge of our 2010 census. I want them investigated. I also do not want mandatory escrow fees contributed to them every time on every real estate deal that closes. Stop the funding to ACORN and its affiliates pending impartial audits and investigations. I do not trust them with taking the census over with our taxpayer money. I don't trust them with our taxpayer money. Face up to the allegations against them and get it resolved before taxpayers get any more involved with them. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, hello. Stop protecting your political buddies. You work for us, the people. Investigate.

Eight, redistribution of wealth. No, no, no. I work for my money. It is mine. I have always worked for people with more money than I have because they gave me jobs. That is the only redistribution of wealth that I will support. I never got a job from a poor person. Why do you want me to hate my employers? Why ‑‑ what do you have against shareholders making a profit?

Nine, charitable contributions. Although I never got a job from a poor person, I have helped many in need. Charity belongs in our local communities, where we know our needs best and can use our local talent and our local resources. Butt out, please. We want to do it ourselves.

Ten, corporate bailouts. Knock it off. Sink or swim like the rest of us. If there are hard times ahead, we'll be better off just getting into it and letting the strong survive. Quick and painful. Have you ever ripped off a Band‑Aid? We will pull together. Great things happen in America under great hardship. Give us the chance to innovate. We cannot disappoint you more than you have disappointed us.

Eleven, transparency and accountability. How about it? No, really, how about it? Let's have it. Let's say we give the buzzwords a rest and have some straight honest talk. Please try ‑‑ please stop manipulating and trying to appease me with clever wording. I am not the idiot you obviously take me for. Stop sneaking around and meeting in back rooms making deals with your friends. It will only be a prelude to your criminal investigation. Stop hiding things from me.

Twelve, unprecedented quick spending. Stop it now.

Take a breath. Listen to the people. Let's just slow down and get some input from some nonpoliticians on the subject. Stop making everything an emergency. Stop speed reading our bills into law. I am not an activist. I am not a community organizer. Nor am I a terrorist, a militant or a violent person. I am a parent and a grandparent. I work. I'm busy. I'm busy. I am busy, and I am tired. I thought we elected competent people to take care of the business of government so that we could work, raise our families, pay our bills, have a little recreation, complain about taxes, endure our hardships, pursue our personal goals, cut our lawn, wash our cars on the weekends and be responsible contributing members of society and teach our children to be the same all while living in the home of the free and land of the brave.

I entrusted you with upholding the Constitution. I believed in the checks and balances to keep from getting far off course. What happened? You are very far off course. Do you really think I find humor in the hiring of a speed reader to unintelligently ramble all through a bill that you signed into law without knowing what it contained? I do not. It is a mockery of the responsibility I have entrusted to you. It is a slap in the face. I am not laughing at your arrogance. Why is it that I feel as if you would not trust me to make a single decision about my own life and how I would live it but you should expect that I should trust you with the debt that you have laid on all of us and our children. We did not want the TARP bill. We said no. We would repeal it if we could. I am sure that we still cannot. There is such urgency and recklessness in all of the recent spending.

From my perspective, it seems that all of you have gone insane. I also know that I am far from alone in these feelings. Do you honestly feel that your current pursuits have merit to patriotic Americans? We want it to stop. We want to put the brakes on everything that is being rushed by us and forced upon us. We want our voice back. You have forced us to put our lives on hold to straighten out the mess that you are making. We will have to give up our vacations, our time spent with our children, any relaxation time we may have had and money we cannot afford to spend on you to bring our concerns to Washington. Our president often knows all the right buzzword is unsustainable. Well, no kidding. How many tens of thousands of dollars did the focus group cost to come up with that word? We don't want your overpriced words. Stop treating us like we're morons.

We want all of you to stop focusing on your reelection and do the job we want done, not the job you want done or the job your party wants done. You work for us and at this rate I guarantee you not for long because we are coming. We will be heard and we will be represented. You think we're so busy with our lives that we will never come for you? We are the formerly silent majority, all of us who quietly work , pay taxes, obey the law, vote, save money, keep our noses to the grindstone and we are now looking up at you. You have awakened us, the patriotic spirit so strong and so powerful that it had been sleeping too long. You have pushed us too far. Our numbers are great. They may surprise you. For every one of us who will be there, there will be hundreds more that could not come. Unlike you, we have their trust. We will represent them honestly, rest assured. They will be at the polls on voting day to usher you out of office. We have cancelled vacations. We will use our last few dollars saved. We will find the representation among us and a grassroots campaign will flourish. We didn't ask for this fight. But the gloves are coming off. We do not come in violence, but we are angry. You will represent us or you will be replaced with someone who will. There are candidates among us when hewill rise like a Phoenix from the ashes that you have made of our constitution.

Democrat, Republican, independent, libertarian. Understand this. We don't care. Political parties are meaningless to us. Patriotic Americans are willing to do right by us and our Constitution and that is all that matters to us now. We are going to fire all of you who abuse power and seek more. It is not your power. It is ours and we want it back. We entrusted you with it and you abused it. You are dishonorable. You are dishonest. As Americans we are ashamed of you. You have brought shame to us. If you are not representing the wants and needs of your constituency loudly and consistently, in spite of the objections of your party, you will be fired. Did you hear? We no longer care about your political parties. You need to be loyal to us, not to them. Because we will get you fired and they will not save you. If you do or can represent me, my issues, my views, please stand up. Make your identity known. You need to make some noise about it. Speak up. I need to know who you are. If you do not speak up, you will be herded out with the rest of the sheep and we will replace the whole damn congress if need be one by one. We are coming. Are we coming for you?

Who do you represent? What do you represent? Listen. Because we are coming. We the people are coming.

Janet Contreras

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Another Epiphany

I realized why it is that I very seldom (if ever) wind up embarrassed: In order to be embarrassed, you have to CARE what other people think, and nine times out of ten (or more) I, well, don't. CASE IN POINT:

Went to the mall today to have pictures taken on the munchkins...always an UN-fun affair. "Don't touch that, get off the floor, keep your clothes clean, no you can't have juice right now, smile, smile, SMILE!" and so on...fabulous. But I had to stop and pick up some tomato cages for our Urban Homestead on the way, and aside from telling the kids 50,000 times not to touch the cages because they'd get their hands and clothes dirty, I ALSO had to tell Tyler to sit down in the back of the cart 50,000 to ensure he wouldn't end up on his head on the concrete in the garden area of Lowes. We were checking out, which, of course, is when my son knew my attention would be directed elsewhere, so he was once again up on the edge of the cart and toppled back a couple inches so he was hanging off, the cart side caught under his knees and his hands gripping the side. The checker-chick panicked and carefully pulled him back up, then turned to me like I was the world's worst mother and said "He really must stay seated in the cart if you're going to let him ride!"

Ya think? Furthermore, honey, you're not his mom and obviously haven't heard me telling him every other second for the last 10 minutes to sit down, and rest assured that if he did fall out and land on his head, not only would I NOT sue Lowes, I'd spend every other second on the way to the hospital telling him "I told you so" just by looking at him. So don't expect me to be all embarrassed and stare at the floor and shuffle my feet and apologize for not tending to my own embarrassment here.

THEN...we had the photos done (and I know the kids were grumpy; we got there 20 minutes before our appt and I actually had to threaten to leave because it was half an hour PAST our appt by the time they got to us!), we waited another 15 minutes to be able to view them, and then another 10 minutes to have them printed...and it was time to leave. The kids had been great, it's true...they'd been patient, listened, laughed, been obedient...and they'd also been rewarded. We had snacks and drinks and rode up and down the in glass elevator about a dozen times, they played with the games and toys inside the photo studio...they were covered. So when we left, I expected moderate-to-polite behavior, and instead ended up with a crazy son streaking on ahead, refusing to stay with me and Miagee, and being totally defiant when I ordered him to return to my side because his running off worried me. So I grabbed him by the arm and walked him along with me. He will not bruise, he was in no pain...just disgruntled by my power position, and so he did what he could: had a total screaming, shrieking, girlie-yowling meltdown. Aaaaaaaah, kids.

So I kept walking, not even thinking about the people openly staring at me. So what? If they've had kids, they get it, and if they haven't, they'll NEVER get it. I confess, when he threw himself down on the floor in Nordstroms kicking and screaming "NO!" and "OWWWW!" at the top of his lungs, I yanked him up off the floor, caught him in midair, and carried him by the waist out of the door to the car...and wondered briefly if anyone priviledged to catch my manuver would call the police (or at least mall security) thinking I was abusing my child...but we made it to the car without incident, so...whatever.

Other than that fleeting "is someone going to call the authorities?" thought, I really truly felt no embarrassment, nor any need to apologize for him overly tired and grumpy son. Cest la vie. Doesn't make me a bad mom, so why bother being embarrassed? Perhaps if I was indeed a wretched hag of a mother, I'd feel some mortification at my son's obnoxiousness...or maybe if I was a wretched hag I wouldn't. Regardless, I'm not (usually), and my son isn't (usually) obnoxious.

So I know why it is I seldom get embarrassed!

But if I, I don't know, cut off my mom on the freeway on my way home from somewhere and didn't realize it was her until too late...THEN I might be embarrassed. (I haven't done that, by the way.) For me, it's all a matter of the action (is it truly embarrassing?) combined with the witness (are they really important to me?). In other words, if I ever tell you I'm embarrassed by you seeing/knowing/hearing something about me, it must me I care about what you think.

Maybe I shouldn't have told you this. Huh. Did I mention I'm also the type to speak before I think? Sigh. Have a great Tuesday, all!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Wong Street in Riverside

So, it seems that the powers that be in Riverside have changed a street name in their Chinatown as of today: "Wong Way" is now "Wong Street".

There are so many things I can say to this, but the first one is the MOST obvious, incredulous, and a question, to boot: Someone named a street "Wong Way" in the first place?!?!?!

What makes it funnier is that naming a street "Wong" was supposed to be to HONOR a local member of the Riversidian Chinese Community. Instead, according to the news, "Members of the Chinese community felt insulted by the street name, citing that people might take it as a joke about the way members of their community pronounce certain words."

Wow, I thought the joke was pretty much that you were going the "wong way", but the fact that people are feeling personally insulted due to their culturally-affected pronounciation of "wrong"? For some reason, that really just makes it funnier, because that idea really hadn't occured to me when I first heard "Wong Way." I actually laughed out loud listening to the radio in the car. Wong Way is mostly just an eye-roller, but a group of angry Asians thinking Wong Way is an INSULT because they pronounce Wrong "Wong"?

Sometimes it amazes me - and this is really why I'm laughing - that your average Jane (me, in this case) doesn't find something bigoted until someone points out that its bigoted, and that it is something to find offensive. Then I just think it-and-they're ridiculous. But funny.

So Wong Way is now Wong Street in Riverside. First you were supposed to go the other direction, and now you're just not supposed to drive on it at all. What's the world coming to?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Urban Homesteading and Going Green(er)

First off, if you live in Anaheim, you MUST call this guy: Noe ("Noh-eeeee") Tafolla with Anaheim Utilities Advantage Services. His number is 714-939-9020. Why, you ask? Because for Cinco de Mayo this year when I took the kids to that fiesta on La Palma, I stopped at the Anaheim Utilities booth and found out about this program the city has going: Make an appt for one of their reps (Noe for us) to come to your home (or apartment!), and they will spend about an hour with you reviewing your utilities usage to tell you how to cut back on your usage and your SPENDING, PLUS give you aids to do it...

For instance, with the exception of the tube lighting in the kitchen and a few lights where we needed smaller bulbs, ALL the light bulbs in my home are now the low-watt-using coil lights - free of charge! - I now have water-saving devices on both bathroom sinks and a saver/sprayer/quick-off-for-dish-washing device on my kitchen sink - FOR FREE! - and two brand new low-flow showerheads installed and in use in my bathrooms - TOTALLY free! Plus a couple weeks from now I'll be mailed a full report on how to lower my utility usage point by point and step by step, and I have all the info I need about other rebates and programs the city offers; unfortunately, since I'm not a homeowner, I can't really use them, but they include things like rebates for low-flow toilets/washers and dryers/fridges/ceiling fans/dishwashers/YOU NAME IT!

I know what you're thinking, I was thinking it to and I asked for you: Why on earth would the city of Anaheim want to HELP people use LESS of their utilities, thereby DENYING themselves the extra income??? Turns out if Anaheim overuses utilities and can't produce enough to keep up with their residents' usage, they actually LOSE money because they have to then turn around and buy the extra energy off Edison for a higher the closer they are to selling only the amount of utilities they can produce, the higher their profits. Having to power Disney keeps them from hiking their rates, so they can't make extra $ that way...better to help residents use the proper billable amount. Tada! Free program!!! Loooooove it! I'm greener AND I'm saving money! (And isn't that the best part?)

Speaking of going green(er) and saving money, Kim introduced me a few months ago to those green veggie bags you see on TV...and I confess, I doubted. I doubted, that was, UNTIL I started storing my mushrooms in them. One time around was all it took. You see, I LOVE mushrooms...but often find myself buying them, forgetting about them, and tossing them since they get all nasty and slimy in 3 or 4 days. NO LONGER. As long as I wipe out the condensation inside the green bag every few days now, they last FOREVER! (Okay, my record is 3 1/2 weeks, but that's because then I used them because they looked like they were JUST starting to go.) Witness the photos herein; I bought these mushrooms fully 11 days ago, and they're PERFECT. But it's not just mushrooms, it's all my produce, and so now I won't have to throw away the head of Romaine I forgot about in the bottom of the bin, or the brussels sprouts I keep intending to serve with dinner but don't have a husband around to serve them to. They're BRILLIANT. Thanks, Kim. I believe...

Then there's Urban Homesteading, one of those uber-hip catch-phrases that might make you scratch your head...if it weren't so obvious. We live in a concrete jungle stacked on top of ourselves and others, and as Urbanites, we're still attempting turning our back "yard" into a Garden! Go, Urban Homesteading! And what's MOST amazing to us is...we actually seem to be succeeding! We put seeds in dirt in pots and watered it, and things are GROWING!!! My friend Natasha is a master gardener and would probably snicker at our amazement, but let me tell you, my friends...growing Tomatoes, Shallots, Basil, Green Onions, Chives, Zucchini, Pumpkin, Sunflowers, Bell Peppers, and Lettuce on a 10x10 concrete balcony seems like a MIRACLE to us! (I also have some roses, courtesy of Kim and Kathy and Bella, and believe it or not, you three, they're still thriving!) When Kim moved she "donated" her two window boxes to us, and we planted. We bought $1 tin pots from Target, punches holes in the bottom for drainage with a hammer and flathead screw driver, and we planted. Jason won (don't ask) 3 indoor trees from work which we uprooted, refilled the pots with soil, and we planted. We bought big orange Home Depot 5 gallon multipurpose buckets, Jason drilled holes in the bottom, and we planted. And believe it or not, STUFF IS GROWING!!!

The most amazing thing to us, of course, are the tomato plants. Do you see those little silvery tin buckets? ONE of them was a proving ground for me...I experimented, poking tons of crazy chopstick holes all over the dirt, tossing 3 (or 4 or 5!) seeds in each hole, covering them over, and watering them...and now we have FORTY-FIVE TOMATO PLANTS!!! Yes, they ALL grew. Like WEEDS. After 2 or 3 weeks, we had to transplant them...and a couple weeks later, they've had to be transplanted AGAIN! We had SO MANY tomato plants, in fact, that we took 5 groups (of 3 - 5 seedlings each!!!) to my folks' yesterday evening and transplanted them THERE! (We only have room and funds for so many transplant buckets!) We're still in shock...and excited as all get-out.

Growing stuff is AWESOME. Even if everything suddenly DIES, we'll just try again, learn from our experiments, and keep growing! (I imagine, however, that at least a couple of those plants will produce...and I'm STOKED!) So I have something to be excited about again...and since I'm putting off painting and writing for no good reason, this is one I HAVE to stick with, and it's good for me, and I'm enjoying it.

But I'm NOT enjoying the manure-stinky soil stuck underneath my fingernails, so if anyone has any ideas - other than cutting all my nails off, that is - let me know. Nail brushes just ain't cuttin' it. Oh, and my patio stinks like cow poo. Yeah, that sucks too. But we have tomato plants! I'm over it!