Monthly Archives: April 2007

Kindergarten Radical–What Not to Wear Edition

Spring, 1975, at St. Andrew’s kindergarten in Roswell, New Mexico.  I am pirouetting into kindergarten, dancing on lollipops and rainbows because I know that I am just too cute today.  My mama has let me wear my favorite green plaid (shut up)dress to kindergarten, even though I keep coming home with finger paint and impossible to get out mulberry stains all over my clothes.  All it took was 4 days of incessant nagging and begging (all hail the master!) and she finally caved. 

But!  Even!  Better!  Is what I have under my favorite green plaid dress!  It is a whole otherdress!  A white, very twirly tiered dress make out of soft silky stuff, with adjustable straps and lace on the edges and pretty pink roses on the neckline.  I lurved that “dress”.  I don’t know why Mama let me wear two dresses, but hey, I am not about to object!  I thought, “geez, this dress under my other dress is even prettier.  It is such a shame to hide it, even under my favorite dress!  I will just unbutton my green dress and hang it on my coat hook and then everyone can see how bee-you-tee-ful I am in my white twirly dress!”

Somehow, my teacher, Sister Mary Catherine, did not approve of my wardrobe choices.  She kept calling my beautiful dress a slip and saying that I had to put my dress back on, right now.  Now she is a kind of a weird lady, anyway.  She is always making follow dumb rules like stay in your seat and raise your hand to go to the bathroom and don’t use the kindergarten scissors to cut your hair.  Even weirder, she smells like sourkraut and my mom says that she thinks she is married to Jesus.  Also, she always wears the same dress and it is very plain, just black and white, so you can’t really trust this lady to know fashion, if you ask me.

Which is why I wouldn’t put my dress back on.  Because my other dress, it was prettier!  Duh!  And so I ran.  Or rather I skipped.  I skipped all around the class, dancing and twirling and showing off my twirly skirt.  I was having a fine old time until Sister Mary Meany-Face caught me by the arm, grabbed my green plaid dress by the other arm, and dragged me to the office to call your mother, young lady!  You are going to have to leave kindergarten for the rest of the day!

Leave kindergarten?  You might as well have killed me.  My world, it was destroyed.  No blocks and finger-painting?  No recess or story time and milk and cookies or nap time on our special “take a rest” mats??

And so I called her and sniffed through tearful sobs that Sister was mean and got mad just because I wanted to wear my white dress and she kept calling it a slip and she was totally unfair and now my arm hurt.

Mama came and picked me up and we went out to lunch, just us two.  And I got ice cream.  And she let me wear my pretty white dress and no one said a word.

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Second-hand–It’s not just for cheap skates anymore

Last Friday, my mom, dad and I went out for a nice dinner with some other couples that mom hadn’t seen since before she got sick (Dec. last year.)  Several people remarked that Mom looked great (she did) and how pretty her slinky turquoise dress was.  One lady went so far as to ask where she had gotten it.  “Oh, it was a gift from Mallory,” she said quickly.  “Well, its beautiful.  Where did you buy it?”  “Um. Hmm, I don’t remember where.”  But actually I did know, and so did Mom.  I got it at my favorite thrift store.  It cost all of $5 and it had been brand new, still had the original tags on it, from Nordstrom’s actually, where it originally sold for $72.

If I hadn’t thought that it would embarrass Mom, I would have gone ahead and told my mom’s friend about my great find.  I am not only not ashamed of buying second hand, I truly believe in it, for lots of reasons.  Here are a few of them: 

1.  People tend to think of second-hand clothes as being stained, ripped, and from grandmas’ closets from 1972.  And sure, you can find all that at thrift stores.  But you can also run into high fashion, ultra-hip or fancy brands that are just there because they didn’t fit any more, or because they were a gift that someone didn’t fancy.  You might have to hunt a little more to get the good stuff, but that’s part of the fun.

2.  You probably won’t run into anyone who has your exact outfit on.  You can develop a unique style.  I get compliments all the time on my clothes.  Almost none of it was purchased “new.” 

3.  You can support worthy chairities that assist the poor and provide jobs for disabled people, people with language barriers, and other people who might have a hard time getting a job.  I would rather support the Salvation Army than the 4 Walden heirs of Walmart who each make over $4 billion a year individually but can’t provide health care for their workers.

4.  Because it is still Hollister/Nike/Columbia/Prada/Ann Taylor/Talbots/Lands End/Hanna Andersen no matter where you bought it.  (And yes, I have found all of the above designers at my local thrift stores.)  My kids are at that stage where “labels” are important to fit in.  My daughter even had a girl at camp say “I know you are rich because of your clothes!”  We had a really good laugh about that one.  But, I have to admit that sometimes you get what you pay for when you are buying new, and this way I get the “good brands” whose quality is a little better than the “K-Mart Fall-aparts” I would otherwise be able to afford.

5.  You will be recycling and saving the world’s resources.  You will also be saving tons of pesticide from being used to grow cotton, petroleum products from being used to create synthetics, not to mention packaging and transportation fuel.  There will be a little less demand for sweat shop labor.  Make no mistake–every action is political.  Buying decisions are political.  (And you thought you were just being cheap!)

6.  You will be buying locally.  Your dollars will go to support your own community.

7. You’ll have the thrill of the hunt and the joy of discovery.  Not to mention those awesome Steve Maddens that match your new dress perfectly, in great shape and in your size.

8.  Because all clothes are “used” the minute you purchase them new and take them out of the store.  That’s right:  you have a closet full of used clothes right now!!!

9.  Ok, yes, it is cheap.  Use the savings to donate to charity, buy organic food, invest in your kids’ education, put away more for retirement, get naked and roll around in all the money you saved…what?  you don’t do that?

10.  Buying second-hand makes a ton of sense for parents of babies and little kids.  I don’t have to tell you that they outgrow their clothes before they wear them out, right?  And we’re talking about people who are going to spit up and smoosh peas on whatever you buy them, whether it comes from Goodwill or Nordstrom’s.  Like to dress your little sweetie in Osh Kosh, Little Me, Carter’s, Hanna Andersen?  I find hella cute things all the time that make me wish I still had a little ankle biter at home.

11.  Are you pregnant?  Why spend a fortune on clothes that you are only going to wear for a few months?  Save the money for your baby’s college fund.

12.  Right now, I am changing sizes rapidly as I lose weight. I can get a whole new wardrobe, then turn around and donate it and get more new-to-me clothes without guilt.  I lose 5 pounds?  I deserve a new little something. 

13.  When I find those awesome, still has the tags on, way cute, big name item that doesn’t happen to fit me or anyone I buy for?  I sell it on ebay.  Cha-ching!

So Goodwill, Salvation Army, Union Gospel Mission, Value Village (run by Vollunteers of America), William Temple House, American Cancer Society Thrift store, you will continue to see me there.  Save the good stuff for me, wouldja?

Thursday Thirteen–Thirteen Things I Want To Do Before I Take The “Dirt Nap”

Everything that was ever created, was created twice: once in the realm of thought, and then in the realm of being.  The thought is the negative, and the creation is the photo.  The thought is the blueprint, the creation the building. 

As children of the Creator, we have inherited a creative nature.  We cannot not create.  Even if you decided to stay in bed with the covers over your head, you would still be creating.  What you would be creating is someone hiding under the covers.  In my opinion, your life is nothing to hide from!

It is a challenge to be awake to this power that you have, this power to create a life and decide who and what will come and go in it.  It is much easier to pretend that life is something that is happening to you, something that you don’t have much control over.  The only problem is that if you don’t steer the boat, you might not like where you end up!

We all know intellectually that our time is limited on this big blue planet, and yet, we dink around, wasting time and acting like we have forever.  Goals can help snap us out of that “someday” mode and help us gain clarity.  So tell me what you want, what you really, really want!  I’ll go first:

13.  To learn to play piano.  I used to have a piano and had to give it away when I moved in to take care of my parents, so I am just getting a good keyboard.  I read this book called Teach Yourself To Play Piano and it was actually starting to work, I could play, like two songs really well, with chords and melodies and everything.  Then it got to key changes and it got confusing, with diminishing and ascending chords, etc, so I gave up.  I want to try to tackle it again.

12.  To pick up a third language (and not lose the ones I have!)  I already speak Spanish fluently (or used to, I don’t get to practice much) and English (naturally.)  I will probably try French, because it is another Romance language, and because I started to take it in college but didn’t get past first year.  I might try German because ny daughter wants to take it in high school next year.  I will get a good refresher for my espanol as I am teaching my son, who is interested.

11.  To go back to being vegetarian, without all the cheating!  I try, but I cheat.  Gotta stop that.

10.  To walk a marathon.  The training is good for me, and I want to be able to say I did it.  Running is out of the question for me (bad knees) but I actually like walking a lot.  I will do this for my 40th birthday (if not sooner!)

9.  To act in a play or musical again.  I used to do this all through my child and teenage, and my inner ham misses it.

8.  To join a choir again.  Singing makes me happy.

7.  To decrease my “carbon footprint” and be more environmentally aware.  To be a part of the solution, and to be able to say that I did my part to save the planet that I love.

6.  To travel, to see the world and meet the people in it.  I am definitely going to visit New York City next year, and Europe two years later.

5.  To become a Nurse Practitioner.  I want to be a part of people’s healing; I want to alleviate suffering if I can.

4.  To write a book.  Hopefully, lots of books.  If it is a book that actually gets read, even better!

3.  To learn to handle and accumulate money.  To stop wasting money on piddly things that don’t matter, so I can have a good retirement, and send my kids to college.

2.  To achieve my goal of being fit and healthy.  I was my ideal weight at birth, and I have never been there again.  I have no idea of what it is like to have a fit, healthy body that can do things easily.  I don’t even remember what it is like to wake up and not be in pain.  Seeing my mom suffer, and how we suffered right along with her, I don’t ever want to go there.  Therefore, I am working toward “going to health” every day. 

1.  To be a great mother.  This is my most sacred assignment, and the one that humbles me and fills me with guilt and gratitude.  I have the privilege to be called “Mom” by two amazing people.  I want to give them the tools they will need to be happy in life: confidence, compassion, a positive outlook, common sense, good morals, resiliency, an ability to laugh at life and at themselves, and a safe place to fall.  I want them to always know that I am their biggest fan and there is nothing they could ever do to make me love them any less.  I want to be the mom they deserve.

Le Weekend

Weekends are the highlight for me (I know, I am so freakin’ original, aren’t I?) for two reasons:  my kids are home and we can do fun stuff, and Sunday in particular is my “relief day” when my sis comes to take care of my mom and I am a free agent.

Today we are taking the Portland streetcar to the Portland Ariel Tram, and going on the tram just for fun.  Let me correct that–my kids are going on the ariel tram for fun.  I am sitting on the nice bench at the tram station, reading a book and waiting for them because that is fun for me.  Being suspended by a cable in a little capsule high above the city and the Willamette river?  No thank you.  I would rather have my legs waxed, while having a root canal.  I know, I know, the view, the opportunity to see the city in a whole new way, blah, blah.  Yeah.  No thank you.

Tomorrow we are going to Oaks Park, which is this groovy old amusement park on the river.  It is both cheap (only $11 for a 5 hr bracelet) and with enough scary rides to keep the kids happy.  And there are plenty of tame rides for me: the hand-carved antique carosel, the train, the superslide which is called Big Pink (snicker.)  Plus I will get my walking in, up and down the midway, and there is a gorgeous picnic area right on the river where you can see the houseboats.  In the summer, it is even more beautiful when all the roses are in bloom. 

What are your weekend plans? 

Go forth and recreate!

It Only Looks Like I’m Choking Them

Blessed

I am so very, very blessed in my life.  Some times you just have to take a minute to be grateful.  I am thankful:

  • That my mom just woke me up at 4 a.m. because she needed to use the bathroom.  I am so grateful that she is alive-we came so close to losing her so many times these past few months.  She is getting healthier and stronger by leaps and bounds daily.  I am so grateful that I was able to get off work to be able to be there for her.  I am thankful too that I have both of my legs, that I am healthy and strong and able to help.  Most of all, I am so grateful for the love and gratitude in her eyes.  I know not everyone is so lucky to have their moms anymore, and not everyone has the wonderful loving relationship we share.  For this, I am truly grateful.
  • For my parents’ ice-maker.  Yummy refreshing iced tea with as much ice as I want, any old time!
  • For my kids who have been testing their teen limits lately.  They had to make a huge adjustment in moving in with their grandparents.  They had to put most of their stuff in storage and feel like long-term guests.  Liliana gave up her haven of pink teen coolness, while Matty gave up his room that we made into a jungle, complete with mural on the wall and stuffed monkeys swinging on vines across the ceiling, and a mosquito netting canopy over his bed that I had hot glued rubber bugs on.  I am grateful that they have been so understanding and supportive and loving toward their grandparents.  I am even grateful for the arguing, because they can actually make a thoughtful and passionate case for what they want.  (But no Matty, you are not going to see Disturbia, even if it is less violent than Heroeswhich is on regular t.v.  Liliana, if you are willing to write me an essay detailing why you need to have your cartilage on your ear pierced, detailing how you are willing to take care of it and prevent infection, I will reconsider my position.)  They are smart, good kids and I am very lucky.
  • For Prince Charming (finally) mailing the child support that we are living on.  I know not everyone even gets the ridiculously paltry and unrealistic (wait!  this is a gratitude list!  must focus!) amount we get.  I am happy that he (usually) remembers to send it.  I am also grateful that we are going through a smoother time in our relationship and are both focusing on putting the kids’ needs first.
  • For my wonderful friends who are still close even though I have moved clear across town and have 0% free time.  They are understanding and always offering to help.  They always listen and they love me.  I am truly blessed.
  • For my own health, and for the new awareness I have of the importance of the care and keeping of me.  I have a great parks and rec health weight/cardio room right nearby that has great hours (I can go really early before I have to get mom out of bed and take the kids to school.) and my 3-month pass was only $35. Woot! 
  • For Liliana going to work out with me at the butt crack of dawn.
  • That the Whopper eggs, Starburst jelly beans, Reese’s chocolate bunnies and Milky Way eggs that are finally all eaten by everyone and OUT OF THE HOUSE not to make their sugary return till next year.  And finally…
  • For my new blog and all the wonderful Internet-friends I’ve made and all the support they’ve given me.  I am lucky to know all these smart, funny, articulate women that I can so relate to, and to have a place to get out my thoughts and read theirs.  I think I’m gonna like it here! (Thank you Miss Zoot for making it purty for us and telling us about it!)

Thursday Thirteen–Thirteen Acts of Germicide

(First off, props to Wacky Mommy (www.wackymommy.org) and Mamatoo, (www.mamatoo.blogspot.com) talented purveyors of the Thursday Thirteen for introducing me to it!)

How it starts:  your kid comes home from school with a little runny nose and a wee cough.  The virus that causes your little angel mild discomfort just about kills you.  No, you only wish it would kill you.  Instead it makes you feel like you want to sleep for the next ice age or two, except you can’t because you are hacking up a lung every time you lie down and your nose is so runny it could win the Boston Marathon.  Make no mistake, being sick sucks.  When I get a virus, I treat it as a act of war on my defense system.  I set aside my normally pacifist ways and set out to commit premeditated germicide thusly:*

1.  Take it lying down.  Get thee to bed.  You are tired because your body needs to focus all its energy on getting you better.  Call in all those favors, get someone to watch your kid, and go undercover.

2.  Vitamin C  Nobel prize winner Linus Pauling said that Viatmin C would help lots of things, especially the common cold.  That’s good enough for me.  Why not have a great big glass of O.J. so you can get your C on and…

3.  Pump Up The Volume of your fluid intake that is.  Pushing fluids helps to flush out toxins in your body, and can help you combat the dryness caused by some cold remedies.

4.  Zycam  I swear by this stuff!  I am referring to the original Zycam, the zinc homeopathic gel that you put up your nose.  It comes in other forms, but for me it’s nose gel only.  It is thought that over 90% of common cold viruses are rhino-viruses–meaning they originate in the nose.  To me, it only makes sense to stop them in their tracks, arrest them and keep them from reproducing where they start, before they spread to your sinuses and lungs and make you miserable.

5.  Airborne  Lots of my friends think this is the bee’s knees.  It is like an Alka-Seltzer fizzy tab that delivers a big punch of Vitamin C and other vitamins and minerals.  Again, can’t hurt, might help, and it lets you get your fluids and tastes pretty good too.

6.  Garlic–It’s Not Just For Vampires Anymore!  Garlic is known in herb-lore as “Russian Penicillin” and is used medicinally all over the world.  It is one of the only know anti-virals and has anti-bacterial properties too.  Plus it tastes really good in your…

7.  Chicken Soup  It could be that it has garlic and onions in it, or that it has a saline-like salty broth, or that it is warm and the heat loosens phlegm, or just that it is another way to get your vital fluids, or a combination of all of these, but whatever it is, chicken soup seems to have a magical curative effect.  And it tastes really good, too.

8.  Don’t Share  your germs, that is.  Wash your hands frequently, every time you wipe your nose.  Cover your sneeze with your arm rather than your hand, and cough down your shirt.   And for goodness sake, toss those tissues as soon as you use them, “saving” them spreads germs.  It is better for you (any everyone you come into contact with) if you stay home when you are sick, if you are able.  You really do need to rest to recover.  If that is not possible, warn people that you know you are going to see later that you are ill.  Especially, stay away from babies and seniors–both can get serious respiratory problems from the same bugs that cause only minor discomfort to us.  And tell people your kid is sick BEFORE you show up to the play-date.  If you get their kid sick, they might return the favor in the future.

9.  Wipe Don’t Blow  According to www.realage.com, blowing your nose spread germs all through your sinuses and can make your cold worse.  Fight the temptation and dab delicately at your poor little red nose.

10.  Use Good Tissues  not napkins, paper-towels or even dollar store tissues–they can be really rough on your nose.  Stick to Kleenex or Puffs.  You deserve to be pampered right now.

11.  Put Up A Good Defense  against chapping and chafing.  Use a lip balm at night to protect your lips that get chapped from mouth-breathing when your nose is stuffed.  Protect your nose with a thin layer of petroleum jelly.  It will thank you later.

12.  Get Steamed  A nice warm shower will feel great, and the steam will open your sinuses, soften mucous, and wash away germs on your skin. (Follow with a smooth slathering of your favorite lotion.) You can also use a humidifier but it is not as nice and warm as a shower.

13.  Don’t Beg For Antibiotics  We all want something that will make this go away, NOW if not sooner.  Colds are miserable.  They can feel really serious and scary.  But the fact is, over 90% of URIs (upper respiratory infections) are viral, so antibiotics won’t help, and worse, they could give you diarrhea, you could become allergic, and they can upset the delicate balance of benficial bacteria in your belly and other places–like you really need a yeast infection right now.  Most colds last 7-10 days, but the cough can hang on longer.  You just have to wait it out.  If I use Zycam right away, and faithfully, my colds seem to go away in just a day or two.

Hope you feel great again soon!

*This is just what I do.  I am not a doctor, nor am I giving medical advice.  Consult your doctor for your medical advice!