There’s something about grandchildren, where they exact revenge upon the parents, and the grandparents sit back and laugh.  When I was young, I did this or that or the other thing to my mom, which surely drove her crazy.  She survived whatever it was, but then, when Maya came along and did to those same things to me, and drove me nuts, HA!  My mom was so happy.  Grandchildren are the best revenge, right?

What I didn’t know before, was that children can also be some kind of revenge exacted upon your grandparents as well.  (See how I skipped an entire generation there?  Crazy, huh?)  Way back when I was 29 or 30, pregnant with Maya, we were living in Philadelphia.  Ted was attending graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania, and I was working in the Sociology department there on campus.  Walking around, pregnant, 29 or 30, I was in an entirely different head space from the undergraduates.  They seemed so YOUNG, which of course they were.  Walking around with their cell phones, thigh high tights, and dripping with money and youth.  Every once in awhile, I got a glimpse of a girl with her belly button pierced, and I thought that was pretty darned cool and sexy and daring, and yet….kind of hidden.  So that winter, we came home to California for Christmas, and my dad, my step-mom, and my sisters all came down to see us.  We met up at my Grandma’s house in Modesto.  I remember going out to dinner somewhere, and in the car on the way back to Grandma’s house, we passed by a piercing/tattoo parlor, and I flippantly mentioned that, were I younger, and not pregnant, I might perhaps get my belly button pierced, because I liked that look.   Everyone was quiet for a bit, and then conversation went on again.

Of course, when we got back to Grandma’s house, she took me aside (though in full ear shot of the family) and told me she hoped I would raise my child better than that, that I would set a good example and live a moral life for her.  I felt a bit stunned, but let it go.  My sisters and father all talked to me after, telling me they were sorry, that they had all been in these kind of conversations with Grandma, so they had learned to just shut down, let Grandma talk, and move on with their lives.  I had certainly gotten off easily, not knowing my Grandma growing up, I missed a lot of good, but also sometimes I missed some of the lectures and out of left field criticism as well.

Anyway, this weekend, Maya provided me the opportunity to exact a bit of revenge on my Grandma.  She has wanted to get her belly button pierced for awhile now, but Ted and I thought that was something too sexy and rebellious for a young girl, but perhaps when she was 17, that would be old enough.   Well, she turned 17 a couple of weeks ago, and amongst all of these milestones (driving, Prom, SAT, birthday) she decided it was time.  So on Sunday I took her to get her piercing, and I’ll admit, part of me thought, “Take that, Grandma!”

Friday Randomness

  • We went to see ‘From Up On Poppy Hill‘ last weekend, which is the latest film by the creator of Spirited Away, Ponyo, and My Neighbor Totoro. This film is different from the others in that there are no supernatural forces or characters at work. Rather, this is a story about two teenagers in Japan at the lead-up to the 1964 Olympics, and deals with the juxtaposition of tradition vs. modernism at that time. It was very sweet, very enjoyable, and I recommend it, though the ending was a bit abrupt. I do like all of these films, quite a bit.
  • Is Obama an idiot for suggesting that the answer to our problems is to cut Social Security, or is he plotting how to make the entire country say, “OH HELL, NO!”  Personally, I think it’s a bit of the idiot, because he’s so darned eager to capitulate to the Republicans, it makes me kind of sick.
  • When we hear stories about children who are obese, whose parents feed them whatever and don’t pay attention to the fact that they’re poisoning themselves, somehow child protective  services gets involved.  Yet look at this girl, who is underweight, and it’s a different story.  The girl has eaten nothing but ramen noodles for the last 13 years, they say she has the health of an 80 year old, she’s got more chemicals and salt and crap in her than could ever be deemed normal, and yet, does anyone get involved?  I don’t think so.
  • Allergies are crappy, right?  Right.  I’m suffering this morning.  Whilst out at the grocery store, I was chatting with the checker, and she said she saw an allergist a few years ago, who said that if you take a 24 hour allergy pill, you should take them at bedtime rather than in the morning.  This is because allergens in the air generally peak at around 3am, so if you take your pill before bed, your pill will be at its most effective when allergens are at their peak, so you’ll be better prepared, vs. trying to play catch-up by taking the pills when the allergens have already hit you.
  • Dishonest tip of the day.  If you buy the good Parmesan cheese,Parmigiano-Reggiano, it is often sold by the pound. I have recently found that if you dig through the various wedges at your local grocery store, there are sometimes wedges that are mislabled, and clearly weigh more than they are marked, so it’s like getting some free cheese. At $15 – $19 a pound, this can make at least a bit of a difference. I doubt that they would actually want you to bring this to their attention, as it would mean more work for them. That’s my justification at least.
  • Maya went from simple wisdom tooth extraction to dry socket, which means we have to apply a clove oil goopy Vaseline ointment to the socket twice a day.  Not easy to do, as she still can’t open her mouth completely.  Poor kid.
  • Tomorrow is the junior prom!  Gah.  I’ll have a picture for you next week, of Maya in her pretty dress.  Nowadays due to provisional drivers licenses, driving curfews, and perhaps trying to keep the kids from drinking, they are taken from school to prom site and home again in a chartered bus.  Also different from when I was a teen is that if a person doesn’t have a date, it’s perfectly socially acceptable to go stag.  A lot of kids are doing just that.  I think if you don’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend, it’s probably more fun, less pressure, to go and just dance and hang out with your friends.

100 Years Ago Today*

Maya prepping to see "The Hunger Games" with friends...wearing her Mockingjay pin, and sporting her Katniss hairdo. Love this kid.

Today is my darling Maya’s 16th birthday. I can’t believe it’s been 16 years already. Wow. The weekend is going to be full of birthday parties, family and friends and cake and fun. Part of having a daughter, in this time when things have gotten so much better for women than they were in the past, and yet being aware of how far we still have to go (birth control, harassment at work or on the street…why are these still issues? Insane and frustrating.)…part of that is seeing articles like this, and having them cause me to think of her. Of my hopes for her, and my dreams for her, and sadly, my fears as well. For her birthday, though, let’s concentrate on hopes and dreams and conquests made, shall we? 100 years ago today, the date of my daughter’s birth, women first voted in San Francisco. Happy Suffrage, SF women! And Happy Birthday, Maya, my darling daughter, my dream come true.

March 29: The right of suffrage was extended to the women of San Francisco yesterday for the first time, yet there seemed to the observer little out of the ordinary. The women came and took their turn at signing the register, picked up their ballot and entered the booth just about as naturally as did the men. To the election officers there were many new things however. Registrar Zemansky had appointed many women as election officers and their influence in the voting places was plainly evident. In the Twelfth precinct of the Fortieth district Mrs. Rhoda Ringrose, who was an active worker for equal rights, was a judge of elections, and early in the morning she intimated that she did not like the smell of cigar smoke, but did not mind the smell of oranges. The men gave vent to their feelings. “We ought to have some Florida water to sprinkle around here,” said one and there was a chorus of suggestions of sweet-smelling things. The election officers in the Fourth precinct of the Fortieth district, all men, introduced a touch of the feminine. Two of the booths were labeled “For Ladies,” and two other “For men,” while another bore the sign “Take Your Choice.” In the booths “for ladies” were mirrors, vases of flowers, powder puffs and powder, hairpins, napkins, a towel and the walls were covered with pictures. Policemen on guard seemed to evince the greatest measure of curiosity and concern and were studiously polite to the fair suffragists. Said one, “I don’t think it’s going to be as bad as all of us thought. I’m glad to see the ladies vote. Just think that all along, foreigners ignorant of our ways, who could barely sign their names in English were allowed to vote, while these good women were barred out.”
Source ~ SFGate Wayback Machine

* See, I had this post all written, about how Maya’s birthday this year is the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in San Francisco, wow, how awesome…then I proof read the post, and duh, it was reporting about *Yesterday*, meaning, March 28, 1912. I didn’t want to let it go, so even though this isn’t accurate, it stands as originally written. Call me Mike Daisey if you like. Drats.

Mother’s Day

Pretty pretty please, don’t you ever ever feel
Like you’re less than, less than perfect
Pretty pretty please, if you ever ever feel
Like you’re nothing, you are perfect to me*

I don’t even like this song. Sorry Pink. Nothing personal. But the other day I was in the car, and it came on, and I found myself wondering if Maya knows that this is how I feel about her. I know, I nag. Pick up your clothes. Do your homework. Make your bed. Finish your girl scout award commitment. But none of that means I think any less of her. It means I know she’s a teen, and sometimes needs a little nudge and reminder to get things done. Really, I wouldn’t change anything about her, because all of the aspects that come together, including the need to be nudged sometimes to get things done, they make her Maya. She’s going to move out someday, and she’ll have to nag herself, with lists, whatever. I still have to nag myself sometimes. And I know, I’m far from perfect.

Except, perhaps, to my mom. There was nothing I could do wrong in this world that she didn’t see my side of it, didn’t empathize, didn’t forgive me completely. Thinking of that, realizing it, was like a slap in the face. It woke me up. It made me cry. Because who else will love you so unconditionally, so forgiving and completely, as a parent does? It made me miss my mom so very much. And it made me thankful to still have my dad. But mostly, because she’s gone, and because every single day I wish she weren’t, it made me miss my mom.

Mother’s Day is hard. I wonder if it always will be? Ted and Maya spoiled me with gifts and meals and cards and love. I love being a mother. I love being a wife, and the mother to Ted’s child. These are the best things I’ve done with my life. But I really liked being my mom’s daughter, too. I miss you, mom. You’re perfect to me.

*I’m not sure if there is a radio version where these are the lyrics or not, but this is how I hear them, without the censored F word. You know me, I don’t have a problem with the F word. But I like this song better without.

Playing Hooky

Last weekend, Maya asked if she could miss school on her birthday. My first reaction was, No, go to school. Then I thought about it and realized, who cares if she misses a day of school to celebrate her birthday? I mean, if a teacher is absent, they just show a movie in class, so if they can waste her time (once in awhile…not ragging on her school…it’s a good school, with very dedicated teachers), then so can I. Anyway, it seemed like SUCH a good idea, that Ted and I decided to take the day off as well. So we took a vacation day from work, and went into San Francisco for the day. What a good idea that was!

We started out with lunch at a sentimental favorite of Ted’s. He remembers going to Alioto’s (on the wharf) with his father, and really liking their crab spaghetti. Turns out that a Tuesday at 11:30 in March is a great time to visit Fisherman’s Wharf. When we lived in the City, we pretty much avoided the Wharf like a plague. Far too touristy, far too crowded, everything mediocre and over priced. But on the first really gorgeous day of spring, playing hooky from work and school, it’s actually a pretty nice place to be. The restaurant doesn’t have crab spaghetti anymore, but they did have a ‘fruits de mer’ pasta that filled in just fine for him. Maya and I had a big pancake breakfast, so we weren’t as hungry. I opted for a crab cake appetizer, which was lovely and just the right amount of food. The sauce was really good, as was the sourdough bread, so I pretty much licked the platter clean. Maya had the very SF dish, clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. Mmmm. San Francisco sourdough is the best, bar none.

Anyway, after lunch, we walked over to Pier 33 and boarded a ferry to Alcatraz. I’ve lived in California for most of my life, spent several years as a concierge in San Francisco, and I had never been before. Again, too touristy for the natives. But I found that if I thought of it as California history, instead of a tourist attraction, it didn’t feel so cheesy. And did I mention that it was a GORGEOUS day? San Francisco is such a beautiful city, and on a bright sunny day following week after week of gray rain and clouds, it sparkles like a jewel from the vantage point of a ferry boat. The Rock itself was a mixture of interesting history, a sad reflection of what cruelty humans are capable of, and again, beautiful views. I learned a few things, such as that the lighthouse on Alcatraz island was the first on the west coast, constructed in 1854, at the height of the gold rush and California’s boom period. It later became a military fortification, then a military prison, then the Federal prison for which it became famous. It was retired in 1963, and has operated since then as a national park.

Ted has been before, probably most recently in the late 80s, and back then you were guided through the prison by a park ranger. Nowadays they start you off with a lecture about the decaying buildings and the importance of staying out of areas that are sectioned off (and yeah, you could fall to your death if you’re being stupid), then you go inside and watch a brief Discovery Channel video about the history of the U.S. occupation of the island. Then you pick up some headphones and begin an audio tour, narrated by former guards and prisoners. It’s depressing to see what people can be reduced to, life in a tiny cage like that. But while it made me sad to think of life on The Rock, the beauty of the outside surroundings, and the fact that I wasn’t cooped up at work made it much more palatable.

Overall, it was a truly lovely day. And kind of like a field trip more than skipping class. I think we should maybe play hooky for Ted’s birthday next month. Hmmmm.

Happy Birthday Maya!

monkey001CheerSometimes it seems that the time is flowing so quickly, and that I don’t know how we got from that very first day, with its fear and pain (labor), as well as its joy and exultation (baby), to today, when our beloved daughter is 15 years old!  It has thus far been an amazing ride, watching Maya grow from a sweet, dependent baby, to a sweet, strong, thoughtful, intelligent, caring, beautiful girl. She truly is our dream come true, and we could not wish for anything more.

I remember those baby wishes, before we had her, before I was pregnant.  I had it bad.  I wanted a baby so much, someone to cuddle and hold and care for.  I used to cry sometimes on Mother’s Day, because I wanted so very much to be a mother myself.  But we weren’t ready…we were still in college, not yet married, and so we had to wait.  Maybe, for some of us, there’s something about finding the man who you know is the one, who will be an amazing father, a loving husband, a true best friend and partner in crime, that puts these hormones into high drive, and makes you want to see what kind of wonderful babies you might have together.  Or maybe, perhaps, I would have suffered these pangs anyway.  I don’t know. What I do know is that I suffered mightily, all the while trying to pace myself and enjoy the time and space that I was in.  Enjoy college and my friends there.  Enjoy being engaged, and then being a newlywed.  The freedom of being a childless couple is a wonderful thing, and I highly recommend it to everyone, at least for awhile.  The freedom to stay up late, sleep in late, spend your money on things you want, have fancy dinners, hear each other speak…it’s romance, and it’s a wonderful way to spend your life.  Until that baby lust raises its head, and will not be ignored.  If you want a baby as badly as I did (and Ted, he wanted children quite a lot, I’m just not sure it was a physical ache like it was for me…), then sooner or later you look around at the life that you’re living and say, “I like this, I like this a lot.  But wouldn’t it be even nicer with a baby to share it with?  Someone to raise and tell our stories to, someone to love and support and adore, the way our parents raised and loved and supported and adored us?”  And if the answer is yes, a resounding yes, then you do whatever you have to do to have a baby, or two, or three…For us, it was easy.  I got pregnant disgracefully quickly, had a healthy pregnancy with a minimum of scares, and a short, relatively easy childbirth.  (Relatively easy, because it was still the hardest thing I’ve ever done, physically, and it hurt.  A LOT.  But it was only 4 hours, start to finish.) For others, it’s adoption, or many tries at pregnancy, or surrogates.  For some, it is a dream never realized.  And then, there are many others who have no desire to have children of their own, who are completely satisfied to spend their lives as a couple, or as a single.  They are happier that way, and gosh, kids are a lot of work, and a lot of money, so if you don’t HAVE to do it, with all of your heart, then I say, take a pass.

For us, there was no real option.  We needed a baby.  And we have enjoyed and felt grateful for her every day, from the first knowledge that I was pregnant, through the birth and colic and sleepless nights, to the toddler years, preschool, off to elementary school…see how things just start speeding up?  I wonder how much of that has to do with sleep?  The first weeks you have your baby, no one sleeps, and those weeks zoom by in a haze, which is singular in that at the same time it’s zooming by, it feels endless.  Now that Maya would happily sleep until noon most days (and sometimes does), we’re getting more sleep, and the time seems to be speeding up, and I’m losing track of one month to the next, sometimes one year to the next.

I couldn’t imagine my life as being nearly as happy without you, Maya.  Having you was the best decision your father and I ever made (except for perhaps getting married), and you are so very loved and dear to us both.  Happy Birthday, darling girl.   And for a glimpse at a few of the moments between those early days and today, check out Ted’s Birthday slideshow!

Pete and repeat are in a boat…

santa 096

Pete falls out, who’s left?  Repeat!  OK, so for a repeat performance, here’s a picture of Maya on Santa’s lap circa 1996, when she was 9 months old.  If the picture looks familiar, I posted it about 3 years ago on this very blog. 

Chrissy and Glinda both reminded me of this photo…Chrissy when she posted a picture of her poor baby freaking out on Santa’s lap, here, and Glinda when she asked about the cuteness of Santa photos, here.

In this picture, Santa is a family friend dressed up, not a guy at the mall, which is probably why she’s not screaming. Also, she’s young. Had she sat in a stranger’s lap a year later, she would have lost her mind. We never did the Santa thing, really, so this was her only chance.  We weren’t big Disney people, either, and look at the dress she’s wearing.  A Disney dress.  Sometimes family hears that you don’t want to do something, like Santa or Disney, and they do what they can to make sure you do it anyway.  And guess what?  All these years later, I’m glad that we have the Santa photo.  The Disney dress?  Still not a fan.  But it’s OK.

Friday Radmoness

Welcome Home Dinner

I know, I’ve been pretty quiet lately.  Sorry about that.

Last Saturday I went to see my Grandma and my Great Aunt in Stockton.  My cousin, who lives in Santa Maria with her two gorgeous kids, was in town, so I thought I’d go visit while they were there.  Maya had cheer practice, so she and Ted stayed home.  Usually when I go visit Grandma I like to take her and Aunt Flo to lunch, but times are tough right now, and with my cousin and her kids there (who are going through a tougher time than we are), I couldn’t afford to take everyone out.  You know what?  I think it was better.  We had grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches, chips (I love chips, I can’t help it), and strawberry pie.  You can’t beat that at a restaurant, I gotta say.  Grandma doesn’t read blogs, doesn’t understand computers, so I can say here that she’s looking more tired and thin than she has in awhile.  I guess she’s entitled, because she’s 87.  But it made me realize that I need to make the effort to see her more often while I can.  She told me an interesting story about when she was in Kindergarten or 1st grade.  The school district wanted her to go to the closest bus stop, which was on the highway, and her parents wouldn’t have any part of that.  Can you imagine a 5 or 6 year old out there on the highway, waiting for the bus?  So the compromise was that she would take the bus with the high school kids and go to the elementary school near them.  But the high school got out hours after hers did.  So she would go out and wait, by herself, on the country road, for the bus.  It would come and pick her up, but it was a bus for big high school kids, so she couldn’t make it to the bottom step, so a high school boy would reach down and grab her by the arms and pull her up.  She would go to school, and then when school got out, she would wait there until the bus came by, which was about 2 hours.  She’d go on the swings and sit and read as much as she could, and just be bored and wait.  She doesn’t even remember any adults being around.  Every day.  Now you can say that times have changed and there are more freaks in the world today, but I think it’s more a matter of just more people.  If 2% of the population is sick f**ks, then taking your population from 1,000 to 100,000 greatly increases the number of sickos, right?  Anyway, no one worried about her sitting there alone after school, back in the mid to late 20s.

Sunday was relaxing, taking it easy, and getting Maya packed for cheer camp.  She’s going to be a freshman this year, and made the freshman cheer team.  She’s thrilled about that, but wasn’t thrilled about going to camp, and being away from family for almost a week.  Not sure if that means we’re doing a good job, because she doesn’t hate us and wants to be with us, or if we’re doing a crappy job because we’re not preparing her for the world, or if we’re pretty much incidental to the whole thing, because she is who she is, and all we can do is our best.  Anyway, she’s a great kid, and I’m proud of who she is.  If that means she’s not ready to go away for a week between middle school and high school with a bunch of kids she doesn’t really know yet, so be it.

Monday morning, Maya left very early to go to cheer camp.   Very. Early.  We dropped her off at about 4:50 a.m., then I came home, and went to the store…then took a nap before work started.  That night, Ted and I went to see RUSH in concert.  Be not afraid, I am not speaking of Limbaugh.  I am speaking of the hard rocking and very polite Canadian rock band, RUSH.  I’m not a huge RUSH fan, save a stint of 2112 fanaticism in 9th grade.  But they’re great in concert, and I’m thrilled that I went…they were awesome.

Due to the concert and how late we got home after, and also the fact that Ted’s friend Jeff was in town from the East Coast, we took Tuesday off from work and went to visit Jeff and his friends Rahul and Sarah.  You know how there are so many different kinds of people in the world…there are people you don’t think you’d ever be friends with (the guys in front of and next to us at the RUSH concert), there are people you’re not sure about at first, but you grow to adore them.  And there are people who you meet, and they’re just so open and friendly and down to earth and yet the right amount of snarky and so on, that you like them right away.  That’s how it was with Rahul and Sarah.  And, of course, Jeff, but we haven’t just met him.  So it was a lovely, lazy day, spent lounging in the gorgeous California summertime, an unusually cool summer with temps in the mid-70s.  Awesome.  Then we came home to talk to Maya, who was homesick like crazy, and wanted to come HOME.  HOME.  I like the girls here, she said.  They’re kind and great and fun.  But I want to come HOME.

Wednesday was work and grocery shopping, etc.  Cleaned the house, did laundry.  Another call from a very homesick girl, who wanted us to drive 6 hours to her camp, pick her up, and bring her home.  What a struggle.  I wanted to go pick her up.  I wanted her to be happier.  But I also want her to live up to her commitments, and I want her to learn that she can indeed live without us for a few days, and I want her to be strong and independent, within reason for a 14-year-old.  So I left her there, and didn’t make the drive, rent a hotel room, and drive back with her in the morning.  Sigh.

Thursday was more work, groceries, farmers’ market, laundry…and Maya came home.  YAY!!!  She said she was sick of chicken, since that’s most of what they ate at camp, so I made a lovely salmon dish for her, with tomatoes and rice and snow peas.  Really good.  The trick is to put butter on everything.  The salmon had a beurre blanc, ala’ Julia Child, and the tomatoes and snow peas were sauteed with butter and garlic.  YUM.   I grilled the salmon dry in its skin, ala’ Jacques Pepin, and it was moist and flavorful.  Really good.  I’ll post the recipe tomorrow, but I think you can figure it out by the description I just gave you.  Grill the salmon.  Add a beurre blank (butter and lemon juice).  Yum.  Serve with cherry tomatoes that have been sauteed with butter.  Again, YUM.

Welcome home Maya, you were very much missed.

Maya’s Awesome Chocolate Chip Cookies


I’m not sure where Maya found this recipe, just that she found it online and made the cookies for our annual Baking Day last December.  She said it was a website that the Barefoot Contessa mentioned once (maybe here), and that the recipe is called THE Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe. I think what makes it a little different is the two kinds of chocolate chips, both semi-sweet and milk.  Also, you purposefully under-cook them a bit, so they’re gooey and soft.  Yum.  Maya’s not a fan of nuts in her cookies, but if you are, you could certainly add them.  My favorite would be macadamia nuts, but some people prefer walnuts.

maya and cookies

She made a double batch last night, to sell for a bake sale to raise money for Invisible Children, a group working to end the use of child soldiers in Uganda.  Maya’s Teens Around the World class is selling baked goods at open house night tonight.   I threw in a couple of batches of brownies (which I made using a mix – Ghirardelli Double Chocolate, and undercooked for a few minutes to make sure they’re not dry) for good measure, because it’s a good cause.  Hope they all get sold for lots of money.

Maya’s Chocolate Chip Cookies


2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
1 egg
2 tblsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 375 F.

Mix sugars and butter in a large bowl.  With a mixer, hand-held beater, or very strong arm, beat until creamy.  Then beat in the egg and vanilla until the batter is fluffy and light.

Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 6-8 minutes until just barely set.  Cool for 5-10 minutes on the cookie sheet, then remove to a rack or a plate to finish cooling.

Mistaken Identity

My mom and Maya, just a few minutes after she was born.

My dear friend Cherry is having her baby today…as we speak, she’s going in to O.R. for her c-section, and I’m expecting a call and can hardly contain myself!  Breath, J, breath.

OK, but of course Cherry having her baby reminded me of when I had my baby, lo these many years ago.  I wanted what any new mom wants right then…my mom.  So we planned for my mom to fly from Juneau, Alaska (where she was living), to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (where we were living).  At this sad point, I hadn’t seen my mom in about 3 years.  A few weeks after Ted and I were married in ’93, my mom moved to Alaska.  The following summer, Ted and I moved to Pennsylvania.  Money was tight, flights that far are expensive, blah blah blah.  Anyway, the cheapest flight she could find was a red-eye, and when you fly from Juneau, you make several stops anyway…minimum of Seattle, often Anchorage and a smaller airport or two, plus the whole crossing the country thing.  So when we went to pick her up at the airport, I expected her to be TIRED. (Remember when you could go to the gate to meet family and friends off of flights?  We were waiting for her to appear from that little door, the portal between flight and solid ground.)  What I didn’t expect was for her to look as tired as she did.  Or for her to be so tired that she didn’t recognize me.  As I rushed over to give her a big hug, I was horrified to realize that I was approaching the WRONG 50-something, 275 lb, redhead, who used a cane.  I mean, really.  How many 50-something, 275 lb, redheads, who use a cane do you expect to find on one flight?  I only expected one.  There were two.  What a relief to realize that even though almost 3 years had passed since I had last seen her, she hadn’t changed THAT much.

Then, of course, her bright cheery face appeared from that little door, and she lit up at the sight of us, and gave us BIG hugs, and was thrilled to see me so pregnant and know that she was going to be there when her grand-daughter was born.  And yes, she was tired.  Maya didn’t arrive for almost a week after that, though, so she was well rested. 🙂

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

First of all, Happy Birthday. You would have been 68 today, and probably would have gone to Stockton to celebrate with Grandma and Aunt Flo (whose birthday it is today as well, she’s 86). Maybe you’d have fried chicken and angel food cake, or maybe you’d go out somewhere. I would have come to see you at Kate’s house this weekend, and we would have celebrated somehow. Maybe with a pedicure for the changing weather.

I think about you all of the time, though I don’t cry as much as I used to. Which is good, because Maya had a hard time with that, and would feel guilty for starting me off. She didn’t understand, completely, that crying helps, and that it didn’t upset me to cry all the time, if that can make any sense at all. But now we can talk about you sometimes without me starting up, and that’s easier. But I still miss you horribly, and I’ll admit that I’m crying a lot today as I write this.

Because I still need you, and you’re not here. This has been a hard year in many ways, and I could have used your love and support and advice. And this has been a good year in many ways, and I would have loved to share that part with you, to laugh and hug over the triumphs and joys. I’ve tried talking to you, and sometimes it helps, but mostly, it just makes me cry all over again. I’m tired of crying, no matter what I said up there about it helping.

And I hate what you’re missing. I see wisteria vines in bloom everywhere, and I know Kate has them on her back porch, and I know how much you loved them, and that they always reminded you of your time in Modesto with Aunt Julia. And you’re not here to see them. I read books that I know you would have loved, and it makes me sad, because you never will. I see books that don’t really interest me, but I just KNOW you would have eaten them up with a spoon, and I would have enjoyed buying them as a gift for you, but now, I have no one to buy them for. I laugh like crazy at Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, and I would have liked to do that with you. And I can’t.

Maya's Spring Photo, 8th Grade

And Maya…gosh, Mom, she’s 14 now. Look at that smile. She’s growing up right in front of us, and you’re not here. She’s going to High School in the fall, and she’s going to be on the Cheer Leading Team. She’s SO happy about that. She’s doing well in school, and has a lot of friends. Ted’s taking her to see her favorite band, Paramore, this fall. She’s doing volleyball and has started babysitting. She wears eyeliner and lip gloss and wants to get her ear pierced a second time. Remember how unhappy you were with me when I did that? And how it turned out OK, and no one thought I was disreputable or unhireable because of it? Oh mom, I wish you were here to see this. I hate that you’re missing this. I’d love to share it all with you.

I’m glad you’re not suffering. I’m glad you’re not in pain. But I miss you every damn day.

I love you,

~ J

Happy 14th Birthday, Maya!

monkey014Maya is 14 today, so obviously this picture is an oldie but a goodie.  I have been thinking about the difference between those times when she was a preschooler, and these times, getting ready for high school next year.  Sometimes I miss those times, because she was so sweet and said some pretty funny things sometimes, and if only I had had a blog then….but these times are wonderful and special as well.  Watching her grow from a little girl into a teen, not too long from now into a woman…it’s amazing.  Seeing the things she’s interested in, that I never was.  Seeing the things she doesn’t really care about, that I did.  And those things that we both love…our shared interests.  It’s a wonderful experience, having a child, watching them grow from a helpless infant into an independent adult.  It takes a long time, a lot of work, a lot of bruises and heartbreaks.  I’m so glad that the three of us are on this journey together.  Thank you, Maya, for being such a wonderful kid.

Happy Birthday sweetheart. Remember, you can be whatever you want to be in this world (astronaut, cheerleader, both…). You are smart, funny, talented, enthusiastic, and you have a kind and loving heart. You’re the best daughter a mama could possibly want to have.  Above all, I hope that you know that no matter what, we’ve got your back.

Gorgeousness and Gorgeousity

Where the heck does the time go? Maya will be 14 in 6 weeks. All grown up, yes? Admire the new hairdo. The cool pink and blue are gone, the lovely blonde highlights are in. In about 10 days, the braces come off. Those high school boys won’t know what hit them.

Lovely Weekend

(Pescadero State Beach, gorgeous photo found here)

This weekend, I joined Maya and her girl scout troop camping at Camp Butano, in lovely Pescadero, California.  Pescadero is just south of Half Moon Bay, and we were fortunate to get perfect weather.  The girl scout camp at Butano is way off the beaten path, with a creek babbling nearby.  We arrived on Friday night, and layed low there.  Then on Saturday we went to the beach, where we had a lovely picnic, including a loaf of amazing artichoke garlic herb bread, which was hot out of the oven.  We happened to be there as the tide was going out, and there were a group of gem collectors searching for agates among the rocky beach.

We then went into town and strolled through the shops, including a beautiful furniture shop, next door to the shop where they hand build gorgeous wood furniture, and several small boutiques specializing in jewelry and art made by locals.  A fun way to while away a bit of time, followed by ice cream in the park, then back to camp to relax for a bit before dinner.

Sunday was another beach, this time in Half Moon Bay, and then the drive home.  It was fun to see Maya and her troop having such a good time.  She’s been in this troop since Brownies, which was 3rd grade, I think.   Since most of the girls from the troop went to the same charter Montessori that Maya attended, they are almost all at different middle schools now.  It’s nice for them to have this chance to come together, away from their respective schools, and be able to talk about whatever issues are important to them.  They’re a great group of girls.

For me, it was really nice to have some time with Maya, away from home, away from computers and xbox and cell phones.  Getting some nice mother/daughter bonding time, spending time together on the beach and at camp…it was really nice.  Just what I needed.  But of course, it was mighty nice to come home and take a hot shower, and sleep in our own beds.  Really nice.