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Read all about the adventures of the Tsao Family during the summer of 2012

Sunday, July 30, 2006

 

Post BlogHer Depression or Why Can't I Stop Crying?

So I held it together pretty well during BlogHer and didn't openly sob too many times although I defintely got verklempt during at least three moments:

  • During the morning presentation when Lisa Stone's power point presentation had a music malfunction and the crowd spontaneously started singing "All You Need is Love" to accompany the slide show of quotes from women bloggers about how their blog has changed their world. I had to quickly pretend that my mascara was clumping to avoid having tears run down my face. I tried to sing the song but I couldn't do it; my voice kept catching. Music affects me. There's more to it than that, but sometimes I'll tear up when I hear a particular song on the radio. For example, I'll probably never be able to hear "All You Need is Love" ever again without choking up.

    [Mindy of the Mommy Blog has a video clip of it here.]

  • At Friday night's cocktail party, I was sitting at a table with Gwendomama, Jenijen of Not Calm (dot com), and Mary Beth of Supafine and the talk turned to kids and illness, and Gwen told us a little of her story of dealing with doctors during her son's illness and subsequent death (she's blogged about his death so I'm not revealing a non-blogged about secret), and eventually Jen just broke out a pack of kleenex and everybody took one.

    Whoever says mommyblogging is silly and trite is a dumb ass.

  • The closing keynote got me several times, but I think I might have openly sobbed after Catherine of Her Bad Mother asked the panel about how to be fearless in motherhood (having found it much easier to be fearless as a woman professional and academic) and Caroline Little told a very personal story about a conversation she had with her dying mother. Caroline had been a rebellious teen and I guess she had asked her mother about it. Caroline had assumed her mother didn't support her, but her mother confessed that she had been so afraid during that whole time. Wow. Finally being able to figure out how the other side--the mother's side--to the story of a mother/daughter relationship. As both a mother and a daughter, her words and her story really spoke to me.

    I'm not even sure if Caroline's story came immediately or some time after Catherine's query, but I was extremely moved during the closing keynote when the women spoke about being mothers--and about being daughters--and about supporting daughters and girls in our society. There was so much I loved about the keynote. Chris Nolan led it and she did a great job; I was glad I got the chance to tell her so on the way out.

Yes, I managed to make it through the conference and the ride home and the conversation with Elizabeth and the driving of her to the airport this morning. But in the car coming home from the airport, I just started sobbing. But in a good way, ya know? And when I started telling Mike about the conference during lunch, I found that I could not describe certain moments (like when I took the opportunity to thank Heather for all she's done for bloggers as a trendsetting and pioneering entrepreneur) without choking up. At least he handed me an old Starbucks napkin and didn't laugh or anything. Even though I only called him once during the entire time I was gone.

This conference represented many things to me both personally and professionally, and my interactions with the wonderful women I got to talk, laugh, and sleep with (sorry, I had to throw that in there, Karen!) were as satisfying and important as I knew they would be.

So it's really no wonder that today I was shot, physically and emotionally. Kristen's feeling some of it, too. I suspect many of us are.


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BlogHer 06: The Sweetest Hangover and the Photos to Prove it

Sunday, July 30.

I am doing important things involving the computer and my photos from BlogHer 06 when Emily comes up to me, carrying her Dora talking van and a door that has come off the van for the hundreth million time. You know.

Emily: Fix the car, mama.
Emily: Fix the car, mama.
Emily: Fix the car, mama.
Emily: Hello, anybody home?

I'm still in re-entry phase. Dropped off Elizabeth of Table for Five at the airport this morning. Am contemplating a nap. Voice is hoarse; husband thinks it's sexy. Both kids have gone from toddlers to young adults in the three days I was gone.

Much more later.

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

 

Breaking Tortilla With Mommybloggers

OMG. It's so late and I haven't even finished packing for tomorrow. Even though I live only 30 minutes away from San Jose and BlogHer, I'm leaving tomorrow and I'm not coming back until Saturday night!

BlogHer, take me away! (Imagine the Calgon commercial when you read that, please.)

Tonight I attended a remarkable dinner put together by Grace, which I blogged about on BlogHer. Flickr pictures are here. Caution: These moms are H.O.T.!

More tomorrow from the San Jose Hyatt...

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

 

Some Kind of Mother

I have a lifelong love of the band Metallica. It started sophomore year of high school, 1983. I've seen Metallica play live with their old bass player, Cliff Burton, who died when the band's tour bus went off the road during a European tour in 1986.

I've seen them play at a number of venues, including ones that no longer exist, like the Kabuki nightclub in San Francisco. The Kabuki nightclub was razed and replaced by a multiplex. I stopped listening to their music around 1991 with "The Black Album." The last time I saw them perform was with the San Francisco Symphony in 1999.

I'm reminiscing about Metallica right now because I'm re-watching "Some Kind of Monster," which is a documentary about the making of their last album "St. Anger." The film freaks me out because it's so personal and a lot of it is one giant group therapy session. It's almost too much to know that these guys who were literally GODS to me and my friends in high school are actually just real people. Real people with some severe problems who are vulnerable and who are working their way through life just like the rest of us.

Watching the film is almost like a full circle moment for me. But not necessarily a good one, ya know? It makes me feel old to see the heroes of my time getting old.

Mike and I talk once in awhile about our images. How will our children see us. I remember in high school thinking my mom was old. Of course, she was about the age I am now. So what does that make me? Sometimes I see myself as that same girl in high school, getting ready to go see Metallica--excited, pumped, having a good time--but my kids will never see me that way. That's okay; it's just the truth.

I wanted to include a great photo with this post, something from days gone by, a big hair shot or something. But I don't have a lot of photos of myself from those days. Instead, I will leave you with this photo of me and Mike from last Saturday.

You know, I don't really feel so old when I look at this picture. I'm sure one day I'm going to look at this shot and think, Look how young we were! Right now, I can look at this picture and imagine those same feelings of excitement and anticipation I felt at seeing my favorite band play live. Maybe we're not getting old. Maybe we're just growing up.



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Monday, July 24, 2006

 

The Devil and Da Juice

Internets, I feel a minor attack of blogger's block coming on. Is my life really that boring?? Is it true that I have nothing to say??

Maybe it's the heat. Or maybe I am in a pre-BlogHer state of despair. I'm feeling overwhelmed and the darn thing hasn't even happened yet. What the heck.

Anyway, here are some life updates from the home front:

Potty training continues to go according to plan, and yes, that would be Emily's plan. Today we stayed home and she pranced around wearing nothing but... nothing, and sometimes she peed in the potty (hurrah!) and once she peed on the floor (awww!) But she's getting the hang of it and I feel we are moving in the right--the diaperless--direction.

Luckily, Amanda has no problem with nudity or public displays of peeing (PDP). That's right! Amanda of Mandajuice came over today with her awesome son Alex and her daughter (the best baby ever, seriously) Genoa. So cute! All three of them! Of course we talked about boobs. Because you can never talk too much about boobs. But we also talked about kids and growing up and moving and preschool and food allergies and blogging and BlogHer and ClubMom and all kinds of good things. Our playdate was a lot of fun.

Tonight I met some girlfriends at the movies and we saw The Devil Wears Prada. Seeing the movie made me want to stop eating, lose a bunch of weight, start dressing better, and generally be somebody else because it looked like so much fun. Even when it didn't look at all like fun. All signs of a good movie. Meryl Streep was excellent. That voice! That silver hair! She is a beautiful woman.

Enough rambling. Here are some shots from today's playdate.

Sharing snacks


Cute undies


I see the resemblance


Beautiful baby


The sign of a successful playdate


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Saturday, July 22, 2006

 

Sassy Nude Cereal Eating

Nothing like a catchy headline to perk up those slow weekend stats, eh?

It's hot here. Okay, not as hot as Noelle's 114 degrees, but hot for here. Today the high is 100 degrees F. People, we don't know what to do when it's this hot except walk around naked.

Not me, Emily.

And... ready for this? SHE'S USING THE POTTY!

Yesterday at our playgroup party, several of the little girls were wearing underwear and using the potty. I guess Emily took one look at how cute a dress can look when you're not wearing a quilted pillow underneath it, and decided she wants to be a big girl, too.

Without provocation, she scurried to the potty and used it today. Twice. Wow! The first time she tried to do it standing up. I guess Mike needs to start shutting the bathroom door or something. She ended up peeing all over but luckily the potty was on the patio so clean up was easy with a quick blast of the hose. After a couple of times trying, she figured out that the easiest and best way for her to do it was to sit down and relax.

This is exciting news. There was no way I was going to win Mommy of the Year if my three year old was still in diapers by the time preschool starts at the end of August.

So with nudity comes potty training as well as supreme sassiness and host of other talents previously kept hidden by my reticent child. For example, she decided today that she likes cereal with milk and she can eat it with a spoon all by herself. And you know what? She can.

And when we left the pool this afternoon and turned right to go in the direction of the strip mall with the ice cream parlor, she said, "Why are we going this way?" I was amazed. She has never before expressed an opinion about where we are going or made a statement that would indicate she knew which way was home. My jaw just about dropped to the floor.

Yesterday, she noticed the Picasso "Hands with Flowers" poster that I put up in the playroom when she was little. She named all of the colors in the painting and I said, "That's a Picasso." To which she replied, "Mama, I'M a Picasso."

Yes, my sassy, little potty-going cereal eater, you are.

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Friday, July 21, 2006

 

Everybody Wants to be a Cat

I'm sitting outside and it's 73 degrees F, which is warm for where I live, especially at night. There's no wind and no bugs. A dog is barking several homes over and I can smell somebody's dinner. It's barbeque and there's lots of garlic. Wow, does it smell good. It smells like whatever it is would go really well with this glass of champagne I'm enjoying.

The kids are in bed, and Mike and I are about to settle in to watch a movie. We're in the middle of watching The Triumph of the Nerds, which is the sort of flick that geeky Silicon Valley couples watch together. There are three parts to the movie and together they tell the story of how the personal computer came to be what it is today, and how geeky guys like little Bill Gates can drop out of Harvard, forget to shower for days on end, and go on to become mega billionaires. It's a great movie and the guy who did it--Mark Stephens aka: Robert X. Cringely--is a knowledgeable and respectable host and writer. I recommend it. If the personal computer hadn't been invented I would not be here today sitting on my patio in this chair I got at Orchard Supply Hardware and using my Dell laptop to blog about it.

I love my computer.

The playgroup party today was a crazy blast. I had so much fun and I came to the realization that I.Love.Hosting.Parties. Love it. I love the planning; I love the pageantry; I love the people; I love the event itself. Now that I've publicly admitted that, I hope to do much, much more of it in the future. Bring on the parties! My dream is to one day put together the wedding that Mike and I never had.

He doesn't know this. Yet.

The conversation today was amazing and exceedingly supportive. Most of my original playgroup now is on baby #2 (or is trying to be on baby #2, and I've got both ovaries crossed for those friends), and it's great to know that we are growing our families together. As a group, we haven't gotten together in a while and I have to admit, when the moms who now have two kids said to me, "How did you ever do it?! I didn't realize... (how hard it was)!" It did make me feel just a tiny bit good. Hey, I live for recognition and respect. Don't we all? That's why I was sure to say back to them, "You are doing the hardest job in the world. It's a dirty, dirty job. But you are doing it and you're doing it well." Moms propping moms. It's a good thing.

So much of being a mom is just about bumbling our way through this most bizarre and challenging situation that involves crying and spit up and diaper explosions (And, yes, all three of those things happened today!) But when you can get together with a group of like-minded moms who know what it means to put on a shirt and 10 minutes later have it puked on, well, that actually feels really, really good.

Today was a good day. Oh, and the fact that I have wireless access that extends to my patio, two little ones who are the best kids ever, a full glass of Prosecco, and a geeky husband who RULES at online poker? I wouldn't trade this life for anything.

Apparently, neither would Tommy T.


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Thursday, July 20, 2006

 

Tommy T Says...

Thank God It's Friday!



I hope you all have a relaxing weekend planned!

We don't.

Well, it's true we have lots of things planned, but don't feel too sorry for us. We'll be busy partying and socializing and that's a good thing in my book. Tomorrow (Friday), I'm hosting a luncheon for a friend of mine who just had baby #2 and it has turned into a major playgroup reunion with close to 10 moms and 16 kids expected to descend on my house. Oh, my!

Saturday we're going to a party and Sunday we're having some friends with kids over for brunch. Not sure why I'm describing them as "friends with kids" since we don't really have any other kind of friends anymore. But whatever.

People, it's less than a week until BlogHer and the Internets are going wild with new hairdos and I'm sure new outfits and manicures and who knows what. Me, I bought a new laptop bag today. Whee! Now I have my own stylish but uncomfortable shoulder bag and no longer have to use Mike's utilitarian bag that allows for hands-free movement.

Did I really just write that?

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

 

Me and My Old School Swiffer

Most of you are aware that I do this Flickr thing where I post a photo every day of what I'm wearing.

Okay.

What you don't know is that I can not figure out my damn tripod and so this little narcissistic game I thought I would play with myself (and all of you, of course) has turned into one where I have to involve Mike. Our daily conversation goes a little something like this:

Me: (Thrusting the camera in his hand) Take my picture.

Him: (Frustrated sigh of annoyance) What do you say?

Me: PPLLEEEAASSEE.

And then he proceeds to take photos of me without stopping even though I have not yet assumed the position and put on my photo-ready smile.

I love that man, I really do.

Yesterday I needed him to take two pictures of me. One of me with my clothes on for my daily photo and one of me, um, still with my clothes on and holding my beloved Swiffer mop (Shhh... don't tell it I have a Scooba. It doesn't know I've thrown it over for a robot.)

The picture was for Melanie Lynne Hauser's show us your Swiffer contest, which is in part to celebrate the release of her book Confessions of Super Mom in paperback. Congratulations, Melanie! (And if you haven't read her book, go get a copy! It's a wonderful story about a woman named Birdie who was a simple suburban divorced mom of two moving through life unnoticed until a tragic accident involving a whole bunch of cleaning products gives her super powers, and... well, I can't let on anymore, but it's a good book that you won't be able to put down and that will have you cheering at the end. So what are you waiting for? Go get it!)

And also go ahead and enter Melanie's contest. All you have to do is take a photo of yourself with your favorite Swiffer product. It's fun. Ask my husband.

What you are about to see are the photos that Mike took of me getting ready to have my picture taken. These are the ones I did not submit to Melanie for her contest. But you are free to laugh at them all you want. We'll see who's laughing when I win Melanie's contest!

Swiffer_1
The gathering of the props


Swiffer_2
The grappling with the props


Swiffer_3
The checking of the props


Swiffer_4
The assuming of the position. Kid, get out of here!




***
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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

 

BlogMe, Baby Brings You... Dawn!

I'm thrilled to be participating in the BlogMe, Baby online mixer that was brain farted by the beautiful and talented Mocha Momma and explained so wonderfully by the awesome and powerful BlogHerita Lisa Stone.

And now I present to you... Dawn of I am doing the best I can, The Gimlet Eye, and True Wife Confessions. Yes, Dawn writes three blogs, people. Three!

But wait, there's more!

When did you start blogging and why? Or Talk about your blog. What can I learn about you in under 5 minutes?
I started blogging in August 2005 as I realized I was in a clinical depression (numbah 2). My blog was a way to get the shit out of my head that was rattling around.

Under five minutes? I am weirdly smart, and have a host of useless information tucked into my brain. I am also a bossy, smart ass chick. I like to eat good food and drink alcohol. I am an introvert. I don't like most people, but I fake it well. Being a mother kicks my ass - every day. I have an odd sense of humor. I like to laugh.


How do you use blogging to build friendships?
I was amazed that there were people out there who "got" me, and vice versa. That was a revelation.

Who do you read every day, rain or shine?
Me?

No, I try to get through my Blogroll every day. Some days, life is shaking me up and I don't...but I try.


Why did you choose to share that piece of yourself in a photograph?
I am trying to embrace a new culture. Montreal is slower than the US - but in a very good way. People linger over coffee, sit and think. This is one of the first times in my life that I have had the time to stop and sit with myself. Plus, it has been such a leap of faith to move here. I am growing and it is both scary and thrilling at the same time.

How would you describe your writing style?
Crazy talk with educated academia thrown in. It is the soundtrack inside my brain - laugh track included.

If you could spend time with one person (other than your spouse, because really, let's not rack up the suck up points here) who would it be?
Oh dear. It wouldn't have been my spouse, anyway. Me. I like being with me. And my cohort from Grad school - The original Phi Delta Badass.

What don't you write about? Anything considered a no-no in your book?
I write about everything. Even when it gets me in trouble. There are only a few - very few - posts that did not make it up on air. A very bad fight I had with my husband - in detail - and a piece about my father that I am still processing. Other than that, I let it fly.

How do you feel about meeting bloggers in real life? Are you nervous? Will you have great expectations? What do you home to take away from the BlogHer experience?
I am wildly excited to be a part of Blogher. I'm not nervous yet, but will be when I am on the plane.

I think one of the things that so thrills me about this is the community we are building - as women writers. This community does not depend on geography. Yet it is as real a community as the local bridge club.

As to take away, I hope to learn some more about the technical side of the Internet. I am woefully undereducated in that facet. And scandalous pictures. Lots of them.


So soon we're going to meet each other at BlogHer. Important question. How do you party?
Like it's 1999. Actually, I enjoy hanging out and having a few drinks. Maybe more than a few. I can't wait to have belly laughs with so many friends. Important Dawn fact - when I announce that Captain Morgan and Coke is a good idea for the next round - cut me off. I'm going to be sick soon.

What is your favorite thing that you wrote? What got a strong reaction from readers? Links please?
Oooooh. Hard to say. Each piece, even the off the cuff ones feel good when I write them. I like when I am funny - the gnomes, Vlad, the fake ads, or Friday Fun With Toys... These things amuse me to no end.

As to strong reactions, talking about my depression seemed to touched many other women. As have the posts about anger and truth and the cult of motherhood - many of which led into the development True Wife Confessions. I have not had many trolls of I am doing the best I can, but True Wife seems to send some people over the edge.


Have you written anything controversial? Is blogging controversial?
I expected some of the race pieces I have written to be more controversial, but I never get a negative response.

The most controversial thing I have done so far, seems to be True Wife Confessions. It seems to have touched a real nerve among women across lots of backgrounds. Of course, in that it has also sparked a lot of less than positive comments into my inbox.

As to "is blogging controversial?" - I think so. In so much as women expressing themselves in such an upfront and honest way - telling the world that this is hard and we don't have all the answers all the time. That we want to be good mothers and wives, but that we are lonely, or scared, or depressed...or exhausted. That we were told we could have it all, but we can't...and that pisses us off. My sense is that we are only beginning to see the kernel of what blogging will become in the future.


Are you and your blogging persona the same person?
Hell to the yiz-eah. Friends tell me that reading the blog is like talking with me.

Have you ever anonymously posted on a site to flame them?
No. I feel strongly about owning my own words. Plus, if I don't like a site, I just move on. The only caveat to that may be if I thought someone was advocating something that was dangerous or harmful to others.

If you had a super power, what would it be?
I would be "Supreme Inner Peace Woman."

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Monday, July 17, 2006

 

Sorry to the Older Couple Sitting Next to Us at Lunch


Thomas at Cafe La Boheme
Originally uploaded by marytsao.
The kids enjoyed an art class at Precita Eyes in San Francisco. Then we had iced tea and a snack at Cafe La Boheme and walked for miles. Lunch at the fancy restaurant (Limon on Valencia Street) was cut short by Thomas's screams of unhappiness. (Sorry to the older couple sitting next to us who "couldn't relax." ) We ended up eating our $30 lunch with our fingers, sitting on the grass in Dolores Park. Then Thomas ran away and a nice lady brought him back. Unfortunately.

Also, I got a blister from my flip flops. Damn plastic shoes.

All in all, a typical day in the life of a mom and two toddlers.

***
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Sunday, July 16, 2006

 

Disco and Dim Sum

On Saturday we took the kids to this crazy, baby-filled event called Baby Loves Disco. Check out the link -- maybe there's one in your area! It was a lot of fun. They played all of the disco classics like "We Are Family."

Living life is fun and we've just begun
To get our share of the world's delights
(HIGH!) high hopes we have for the future
And our goal's in sight
(WE!) no we don't get depressed
Here's what we call our golden rule
Have faith in you and the things you do
You won't go wrong
This is our family Jewel


The afternoon was a lot of fun. We're just sorry that Badgermama, Rook, and Moomin couldn't join us. Moomin just had his appendix taken out so he was not in the dancing mood. Squid and family couldn't make it either, but we did run into a friend of Mike's from Google--Chris DiBona--who was kind enough to take this photo of the four of us:

Family fun


He and his wife also told us about Ralph's World, which sounds like a pretty cool experience for kids. The band plays in the Chicago area a lot, but I got on their mailing list for when they come back out West.

I've got to admit that getting just a little taste of the disco life made me want more. I tried to persuade Mike that after BLD we should go to dinner in The City, but it was a no go. He wanted to come home and I wanted to stay out. Unfortunately, that's a typical situation for us, me being the extrovert and he being the introvert. Maybe that's because for him, the house represents a peaceful oasis away from work (or something like that.) But for me, the house represents work, as in chores and cleaning and taking care of kids and writing. It's also the place I am 24/7; as a SAHM and part-time writer, my home is my office. Sometimes I just get sick of this place!

Which is why the kids and I are going to leave here early tomorrow morning and traipse around San Francisco like we're tourists, which we basically are. I thought we'd start with pastries and coffee in the Mission, then head over to Precita Eyes for toddler art hour, then... I don't know... lunch at that El Salvadorean restaurant on 24th that I love--El Trebol? Mama's in the mood for a field trip!

Today we had Dim Sum at Yank Sing in San Francisco. It was pleasant except Emily refused to eat lunch, opting instead to sit under the table (picture above.) At least Thomas was social:

Sharing a laugh


OMG -- I just realized the plumber's crack/thong combo on the gal at the next table. Hello, Photoshop! This one needs some airbrushing before it goes in the photo album. More pictures of Baby Loves Disco and Dim Sum adventures on Flickr.

***
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Friday, July 14, 2006

 

Can I Get a Yum Yum?

JeniJen of Not Calm (dot com) posted the most delicous sounding recipe ever and I actually made it today! Of course, I didn't time it right and so I ended up scrambling the eggs instead of making them into one inch squares, but it tasted fabulous. Just thinking about it makes me hungry for more.

Here is a picture:

Eggs with Tomatoes and Spinach


It's basically eggs cooked with tamari and sesame oil and tomatoes served over white rice and under steamed spinach. We also enjoyed some corn chowder that my nanny made yesterday. No picture of the corn chowder; it didn't photograph well. If you can imagine what corn chowder resembles, you know what I mean.

Tonight, I'm going to make chicken parmesan ala Foodmomiac, spaghetti with olive oil and garlic, and green salad. I love how Foodmomiac presents recipes because she always gives some family history along with the recipe. I have great memories of food lovingly prepared by family members and of buffet tables laden with food. I come from Italians. We like to eat.

If I really was ambitious, I would attempt the Devil's Food Cake that Caroline posted, but I.can't.go.there. Repeat: I.can't.go.there. Note to self: Don't go there!

I'm in a cooking mood.

To amuse you, here are some old photos of me eating, circa the early 1970s. (I'm in the blue dress and my twin sister Barb is in the red dress.) Apparently my family believed that children should eat sugar in all of its forms and lots of it. Oh, and the mom me? Wants to tell the kid me that she's about to drip that ice cream bar all over!

Eating in 1972


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Thursday, July 13, 2006

 

Drinks For All My Friends Inside The Box

[Warning: Long post ahead. If words bore you, go check out what I'm wearing instead.]

I've been moved lately by some writing by women whom I very much admire. The first piece of writing was an article written by Kristen Chase of Motherhood Uncensored that appeared on Mamazine. In her article, she writes about being a misplaced military mom:

"But the real truth is that I don't know anyone because I don't engage in any activities that involve other people. I always find an excuse to miss the socials, and because, for some reason, folks on base associate me with the "working, non-military" group, I don't get included in a lot of "during the day" activities—once a working mom, always a working mom. Sure, I'm on the email list and in the newsletter group. But really, I don't know any moms, and they don't know me either."

And then Dawn of I am doing the best I can wrote a post for Mommybloggers in which she references Kristen's article and talks about her own desire to make a mommy friend and how difficult is has been for her, too:

"As Kristen wrote in this article, sometimes a Mommy just wants some mommy friends.

Alas, like Kristen expresses so beautifully, I am an oddball Mommy. Always have been, always will be. The other moms just don't want to play with me. They steer clear at the public school functions."

These two pieces of writing moved me because they illustrate so clearly how hard it can be to forge friendships with other moms. I have problems making friends with other moms when I had no trouble making friends in the past. When I was in school or was working, I was friends with the people I saw every day. This was especially true when I worked. And many of these friendships were with people whom I had absolutely nothing in common except for the fact that we both worked at the same place and both hated the same boss.

And when I was in school, friendships were easily forged over beers and burritos and bands. Everybody loves everybody in school; that's just how it is.

It's not so easy to make a mom friend. First, there is rarely alcohol involved when we gather at the playground. Lots of juice boxes and goldfish crackers and the like, but not much to lubricate my vocal chords and turn me into a funny person, if you know what I mean. Second, there's no common hatred of a boss to band me and the other moms together as chums against The Man. Of course, I can always moan and groan about how my husband is always on the computer, but too much slamming of my partner and people tend to get quiet -- these are moms, not therapists.

So it seems that the only thing I really have in common with other moms is the fact that we both are moms; they are "like" me only because we both have procreated. Which means that many times I have no idea if we share any common interests other than little people. And even with that big thing in common, there are the differences with how I want to raise my little people and how she wants to raise her little people. If the differences are too great, chances are the incompatibility factor will be quite high. And the process of figuring out that we actually have nothing in common can be oh.so.painful.

And honestly, have you ever tried to have a conversation with another mom on the playground? Conversations that take place between fights and tantrums and kids about to fall off playground equipment are not very engaging or well-conceived and can hardly be called conversations. We moms are at work when we're at the playground and our job is to watch the wee ones we brought with us, not to giggle and laugh and braid each other's hair.

I have long been an evangelist for moms blogging to allay the boredom and isolation that tends to come with being a mom, especially a SAHM. At first I believed mommyblogging was important because of the writing aspect of it. Writing is good for self reflection and self awareness; it's good for the soul. But now I also believe mommyblogging is important for the community aspect of it. I really liked what Susan of Friday Playdate wrote in comments the other day:

"...blogs are a community, where we can come for support and validation and a break from the routine of parenting (or whatever it is we do all day)."

So this funny thing happens when people support and validate you--you start to think of them as your friends. They become your friends. Tracey of Sweetney admits that Kristen's article and related blog post got her thinking about her offline and online friendships:

"I believe that the interactions and friendships forged online are as real as anything else and as meaningful as any other human interaction, and shouldn't be demoted to some sort of ill-defined second-tier of reality that doesn't really matter as much somehow."

Tracey ended her post by conjuring up the image of the upcoming BlogHer convention, the place where online meets offline in two days of squeals and hugs and maybe even tears of joy. She's looking forward to it and so am I. Because even though I don't see these moms at my neighborhood playground, I see them on my blog and I really appreciate their support. Ladies, the first round's on me!

Mama's lemonade -- No Touch!


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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

 

Guy Kawasaki Shows Mommybloggers the Love

[Updated: I forgot that yesterday (July 12) was my 4 year Blogiversary! I started keeping an online journal on July 12, 2002. Here is a link to my first entry. The "important person" I am referring to in the post is--of course--Mike. We had just started dating. Wow, from single gal to ultimate mommyblogger. Lots of changes in my life and--this is the cool part--most of them documented. I'm writing the manual of my life. Cool!]

Guy Kawasaki included me (and the other BlogHer ad network mommybloggers) on his Ultimate Mommy Blog List.

He writes:

There is a contingent of readers of my blog who do not like when I write about blogs/blogging/bloggers. I’d guess there’s also a contingent who do not like when I write about non-business, non-tech, non-male subjects. To these readers, I say in advance: "You can never support a mom, much less a mommy blogger, too much, so deal with it."

(Emphasis mine)

Gotta love it. You know, today was kind of a rough mom day for me (nothing major--just life with two toddlers) and getting a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T from Guy Kawasaki was pretty darn cool. Thanks, Guy.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

 

On Trolls

Some of you may remember that innocent little rant I wrote a couple of weeks ago that caused a tiny war in comments.

A couple of months ago I was evangelizing blogging to a group of writers. One of them seem concerned about the possibility of trolls leaving nasty comments on her blog. I laughed and replied, "Frankly, you'd be lucky to have a troll! That means somebody noticed you!" Apparently, I have been noticed.

Hey, I'm a blogger; I obviously like attention. But what annoys me about trolls is when they insult not me but other readers of my blog. What is my responsibility as a blogger to protect my readers from malicious comments left for them by trolls? Do I have a responsbility?

I blogged about this today for BlogHer. If you've got an opinion, go there and leave a comment or leave one here. Wikipedia advises bloggers to ignore trolls, which is what my grandma would have said and which is usually good advice. What do you think?

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Monday, July 10, 2006

 

One Mom. Two Kids. One Day In The Life.


...within the framework of a blog, a running list of the day's events gives a different kind of insight than a more conventional post.

And so writes Sheryl of Paper Napkin. Yes, the lovely lady who brought us De-lurking Day is now bringing us Day In The Life.

Here goes...

7:00 Hear and ignore Thomas waking up. He seems content to talk to his lion. I try and go back to sleep.

7:30 Thomas starts crying. Get up and put him in front of Sesame Street. Pee, make bed. Prepare juice cups for Thomas and Emily, who wakes up shortly after Thomas. Both kids seem to be in a good mood. Excellent.

8:00 Make coffee and breakfast: scrambled eggs with cheese, banana for the kids; 2 turkey sausages for me. Water front yard and plants that don't have sprinklers.

8:15 Transfer two dozen pre-made cookies from their wrapper to cookie sheets. Bake cookies to take to playgroup. Stock diaper bag and car with diapers.

8:30 Check email. Karen and Jess invite me to room with them on Thursday night! Get excited about BlogHer. IM Mike to tell him that BlogHer is now an entire week instead of just two days. Reply to emails.

8:45 Grab daily paper and take with me to bathroom. Read two headlines before being interrupted by a piercing wail coming from the playroom and the beeper going off in the kitchen reminding me that my cookies need to come out of the oven. Sigh and hate every businessman I've ever seen saunter off to the bathroom with his sports section.

9:15 Realize that if I don't stop reading blogs that I will be late for playgroup. Shower and get dressed. Get the kids dressed.

9:50 Leave for playgroup.

10:00 Arrive at playgroup. Chat with other moms while keeping one eye on children. Dole out cookies. Wonder why some moms refuse to eat sweets in public when I know they're chowing down on them at home. Eat several cookies. Kiss a skinned knee. Negotiate some toy issues. Stop Thomas from eating some other kid's food. Watch Thomas have a tantrum. Realize he is entering the phase known as "The Terrible Twos." Ignore him and hope the other moms approve of how I'm handling the situation.

11:30 Leave the park. Change Thomas's diaper in the car before heading home.

11:45 Arrive home. Prepare lunch: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with leftover mac-n-cheese and green beans. Eat lunch, load dishwasher, clean out fridge of old leftovers. Make second sandwich for Emily at her request. Become annoyed when she licks it and declares it yucky. Give her a time out and tell her I'm not her personal short order cook. Even though I am.

12:15 Start load of wash. Put away folded clothes I washed yesterday.

12:45 Decide to take a photo of what I'm wearing for the Internets.

1:00 Post photo. Realize kids are being too quiet and go in Thomas's room to discover the entire floor covered with diapers. Pick them up. Change into my bathing suit. Get Thomas and Emily into their bathing suits. Sit down at the computer to quickly check my email and realize it's now 2:00.

2:00 Put clothes in dryer. Ask Emily if she wants to go to the pool. She doesn't, so instead I fill up the water table and sit outside while they play. Wish I could fall asleep in the sun. Wish sitting in the sun wasn't ruining my skin. Spend a little bit of time reminiscing about the good ol' days when tanorexia was fashionable.

2:45 Decide everybody's had enough sun. Also, I am tired of saying, "Don't climb into the water table! Thomas, get down!"

2:55 Get kids into clean clothes, empty water table, and pick up plastic tea set that is scattered over patio. Give the kids Emily's leftover PB&J for a snack. They devour it. Load and start dishwasher.

3:00 Practice walking around the house wearing nothing but my swimsuit. Imagine I am a housewife from the fifties in L.A. Isn't this what they wore? Decide I feel naked and embarrassed even though nobody can see me.

3:05 Put on running clothes in anticipation of a run when Mike gets home.

3:06 Fold clean clothes and put away. Do some light cleaning and organizing in the bathrooms. Re-stock toilet paper. Change poopy diaper.

3:30 Read blogs. Leave witty comments.

4:00 Put on some 80s music and play dance party with the kids while contemplating what to cook for dinner. Water plants. Vacuum.

5:00 Start dinner: roasted tri tip with baked beans and corn. Set the table and put away clean dishes. Keep repeating the following phrase: "No, you may not have a cookie; we will be eating dinner soon."

6:00 Mike gets home. We eat dinner in a relatively peaceful and calm fashion. Thomas gets a little cranky at one point. I can't remember why; sometimes the crankies all run together. I sense more of the impending Terrible Twos. Clean up after dinner and load dishwasher.

6:45 Run 2 miles. Do 150 crunches and 25 push-ups.

7:30 Get dressed in earlier outfit, comb hair, and go to monthly meeting of my mothers club. The meeting is on Positive Discipline. Decide I am open to trying some of the techniques but realize that I am an old dog and it's doubtful whether I can be taught new tricks. Have some nice chats with friends about our kids, lives, etc.

9:30 Get home in time to kiss Emily goodnight. Thomas is already in bed.

10:00 Upload pictures from the day. Write this post from notes. Make the day sound better than it really was. Hopefully.

11:00 Post. Turn off computer. Go to sleep. Goodnight, Internets!

***
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Sunday, July 09, 2006

 

What a Difference Two Years Makes

Two years ago today, I was pregnant:



A year ago today, I had one of these:



A year ago today, Thomas was 8 months old and still nursing.

A year ago today, I wrote this post:

Snuggle bunny human alarm clock

This morning my alarm clocks wake me as usual. I have two alarm clocks -- both human. The first pads into our room some time in the pre-dawn hour of 5:00 and nudges me with her brown bear. I hit the snooze alarm on this alarm clock by hauling her, her bear, and her yellow blanket into bed with us. She settles between us and we go back to sleep. My second human alarm clock goes off at 5:48 AM. Why is this alarm clock so precise?, you might ask. I do not know; I did not set it. Perhaps 5:48 AM is the exact moment that the first ray of morning light sneaks into his room and tickles his eyelid. Perhaps he came hard-wired and he'll wake up at 5:48 AM every day for the rest of his life. I don't know if I wish him longevity at this point. All I know is that I am up now, stumbling into the second human alarm clock's bedroom where he impatiently waits for me to pick him up and feed him.

We snuggle in the big blue armchair that I bought knowing this would be its use. While he's nursing I harbor a hidden hope that he will go back to sleep so I close my eyes and imagine a life where I can sleep until 7. But this is a dream, a fantasy. He is awake, his big blue eyes staring straight into mine, his free hand roaming my face like Helen Keller on Annie Sullivan's that day at the well. Once in awhile his hand will stop at my necklace and he touches the stone in a gentle sort of way. Then he yanks it hard. "No, no," I say, "that's Mommy's new necklace, not baby's new necklace." And then I pry his surprisingly strong little hand off my jewels and stare at it in wonderment. What a hand! It's a hand with much potential, I can tell. I love how he holds things with it. Not too long ago his hand was clenched in a permanent fist, but now it's a tool. He's a (hu)man, not an animal! Good, because I was worried there for a second when it seemed that all he was capable of was crying, peeing, and regurgitating his food.

After he eats we spend some time in love together. He lays his head on my chest and I rub his back. After a few seconds of this, he pops his head up to make sure I'm still there and we stare adoringly into each other's eyes. He may make a noise such as "A-Da" or "Ahh!" I usually repeat the same noise back to him and I'm sure he appreciates our dialogue of love. I know this because of the gigantic grin he gives me that makes my heart melt. As Mike puts it, Thomas is my biggest fan. I want to remember these moments so that later when he spits sweet potato at me I can wipe it off with a smile because I'm still warm and fuzzy from the love of my very own snuggle bunny human alarm clock.

Now I have one of these:

Eating cherries


He's still my biggest fan, but he no longer nurses and now he wakes me up at 7:00 instead of 5:48.

Life continues to be good.

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Listen To Your Mommies

Andrew Keen of The Great Seduction and After TV has put up a podcast of the Mommies Online discussion at the June Berkeley Cybersalon.

The podcast is available here.

My post about the night is here.

Thanks, Andrew!

(And thanks to Grace of State of Grace for this photo from WoolfCamplet '06.)

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Saturday, July 08, 2006

 

Things You Should Not Watch When You are Drunk

Futurama -- Jurassic Bark episode. When Fry's dog is waiting. And waiting. And waiting. Connie Francis sings "I Will Wait For You."

If it takes forever, I will wait for you
For a thousand summers, I will wait for you


Toy Story 2 -- The scene when Jessie the Cowgirl is telling the story of how the little girl Emily grew up and stopped loving her. Sarah McLachlan sings "When She Loved Me."

When somebody loved me, everything was beautiful,
Every hour we spent together, lives within my heart
When she loved me.



Somebody pass me a kleenex! *sniff*

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Friday, July 07, 2006

 

I've Been Tagged!

Thanks for all of your great suggestions for my proposed party planning quandary. I appreciate it!

PHAT Mommy tagged me!

Five things in my closet:
1. My clothes
2. Husband's clothes
3. Plastic box with winter shoes
4. Two throw pillows
5. Dry cleaning that needs to go to the dry cleaner

Five things in my refrigerator:
1. Milk
2. String cheese
3. Eggs
4. Salad mix
5. Champagne

Five things in my car:
1. XM radio receiver
2. Wad of clean napkins from Starbucks
3. Snickers wrapper
4. Assorted McDonald's happy meal toys
5. Diapers and wipes

Five things in my purse:
1. Wallet
2. $18 in $1 bills
3. 2 lipsticks
4. Calendar
5. Camera

I tag:
1. Badgermama
2. Kari (and her new blog on ClubMom!)
3. Prego
4. jfh
5. Krisco (and her groovy new template!)

Off to the beach. Hope you have a great Friday!

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

 

The Mom with the Most Cake


Noodles Before Dancing
Originally uploaded by marytsao.
Tonight we went to the summer concert in the park and saw Bay Area Celtic rock band Tempest. Electric violin! Men in kilts! It was a lot of fun and the kids were inspired by the music to go up front and dance with me. Remember, my kids are still young enough to think it's cool to dance with mommy. In fact, other little kids were attracted to me like moths to a porch light. I was living my dream and it was lots of fun. Unfortunately, my stick in the mud husband doesn't think that kids dancing is cute so I have no photographic evidence of the event.

Maybe that's a good thing.

Here's a question for you, Internets. I am planning a party to celebrate my 38th birthday and I am wondering which of the following party options sounds more appealing:

  • Cocktail party with babysitter. 5-8 PM. cocktails and appetizers. Kids are welcome, and I'll hire a babysitter to keep the kids locked entertained in the playroom.

  • Post-children's-bedtime party. 8-? PM. Cocktails, more cocktails, and a few obligatory bowls of chips that nobody will eat until they realize they need to sober up and then they'll shove handfuls in their mouths like they've never eaten chips before ever.

The problem with party option #2 is that I'm afraid nobody will come. I mean, Mike and I rarely make it to parties that take place in the evening and are assumed to be adult-only affairs. I want to have a party with at least a little bit of adult ambience (read: alcohol and food other than goldfish crackers), but I have to be realistic about my crowd; most of my friends have kids and the cost of a babysitter usually outweighs the benefits of going out.

What would you do? Advice, please.

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

 

Just Another Day with Em and T in Paradise


Cute
Originally uploaded by marytsao.
I had a great day in The City with the kiddos. And except for one small glitch when I think I may have walked two city blocks with my skirt jacked up in back in my underwear, everything was smooth sailing. Yes, there was one minor meltdown, but that was to be expected. It happened when we were leaving the playground, and what kid wants to leave the playground? Especially a playground in The City?

Playgrounds. Man, I never thought I would spend so much time at playgrounds. I don't think I even noticed playgrounds existed before I had kids, and now I will plan entire vacations around them. I know I didn't have to walk ten miles to school in the snow, but I certainly walked three blocks--rain or snow--and I know for a fact that I did not get to go to playgrounds as often as my kids do. Did they even have playgrounds when we were little? I remember a couple, but they were old and filled with metal monkey bars that in the summer heated up to a temperature hotter than the air outside and in the winter were the stuff of legends. Don't lick a cold metal bar! Your tongue will freeze to it and will have to be cut off! How many of us heard that one?

Please, somebody raise her hand. I would hate to think I am the only person who was raised by fear.

Oh, and you were told that bad kids were sent to orphanages, too, right?

Anyway, we all know that I take my kids to cool metropolitan locales because I want to go. I adore driving into San Francisco and right now I've got two built-in buddies who don't yet know that they can object to my ideas for how we spend our days.

So today we went and saw a concert at Union Square put on by Market Street Association: People in Plazas. They are putting on a different show at various venues every Monday through Friday afternoon this summer. Cool! Today we saw Panther Slim, and he and his band were pretty good. They played both original tunes and covers. My favorites were their covers of "Wild Horses" and "Home On The Bayou." Thomas liked "Home On The Bayou" and thumped my leg with his left hand during the song. He couldn't clap his hands together because he was too busy using his right hand to shovel rainbow goldfish into his mouth.

After the concert, we ventured over to the Sony Metreon for lunch at Long Life Noodle Co. Yum. If you get the chance, go there. And order the Cucumber Juice. I didn't, but a woman next to us did and it looked delicious. Lunch was nice because of the food and also because it was way past lunchtime so the place was deserted. A bonus when your lunchtime companions eat with their hands and cry tears when they're thirsty.

An odd thing happened as we were eating lunch. A man who was sitting at a table behind us got up to leave and told me that I had "cute kids," and that he had gotten a real kick out of watching them have lunch.

What?! My kids? Of course, he made my day. I'm going to have to add that to my list of nice things to do for strangers. So far on the list is:

1. Go up to people taking photos of each other and offer to take one of all of them. (But only if they have an easy-looking camera.)
2. Compliment people's children when your own are not with you. (They're more likely to believe you if they don't have evidence to the contrary.)

The compliment must have hyped the kids up because when we went outside to Yerba Buena Park to run off our lunch, they started doing this silly running and hugging thing. You know what I mean -- like two lovers on a beach who haven't seen each other since breakfast. They were being cute and I know this not because I'm their mother or because the guy in the restaurant told me they were, but because I saw two different people taking pictures of them. Look, honey, cute little people! I think they call them children! Awwww, maybe we should make some of those. They look so easy and fun! Hehehehe. Nine months from now, formerly childfree people will be cursing me and my offspring when they discover the truth: life isn't always a frolic in the park! Those children you saw today were hyped up on hoison sauce! You should have seen them thirty minutes later when I said we had to leave the playground!

After frolicing in the grass, we ventured over the bridge to the other side of Yerba Buena Gardens. The side I've never been to and the side that has A.Huge.Playground. Doh. Also a carousel and a children's interactive museum (Zeum) and a bowling alley and an ice skating rink. I imagine we'll be spending a lot of time there in the future. At least, that's what I promised Emily to get her to leave today.

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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

 

Independence. From Babies.

"There is a plague in our nation today. Every day it devours our natural resources and screams like the demon it is. That plague, my friends, is babies. And not just the squishy ones with the soft, Play-Doh-like heads. I’m talking about anything below the age of six (6).

Babies are a far greater scourge than you may think."

Law student Full Metal Attorney is upset at these cuter-than-thou creatures who consume our natural resources at an alarming rate, contribute nothing to society, and are immoral. And that's why he's declaring a war on babies.

Hey, he might be on to something. Of course, it's too late for me and probably most of you. But it's fun to dream, isn't it?

[Hat tip to Nanny in New York for the link.]

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Monday, July 03, 2006

 

Fireworks and Unicorns

Fun with Flickr Toys


Look at my kids wearing their windbreakers over their pajamas. Couldn't you just eat them?

Tonight we took Emily and Thomas to their first fireworks show and they (kind of) enjoyed it. At least we didn't have to leave after the first boom like we did when we took one-year old Emily two years ago. Thomas was fine with the noise, but preferred to bury his little face into my neck, which of course I did not mind as it put him in super close kissing range. Emily hated the noise, but was able to watch the display after Mike covered her ears with his hands. We were able to stay for the entire show, and we declared the night a success.

Our community is big on 4th of July festivities. The fireworks show is held at the local elementary school and tomorrow there will be a 4th of July parade and carnival at our local rec center. The theme this year is Flower Power -- 60s style. It should be cute to see a bunch of little kids wearing beads and flowers with peace symbols adorning their fringe vests. When our kids are older, we'll participate in the parade instead of just being spectators.

I'm glad I can give my kids such an idyllic childhood here in our suburban paradise. I look around at the things they have: clean clothes, parents who love them! toys, books, TV, car seats, running water! popsicles, indoor plumbing! and I am really happy that I can provide these things for them. If I woke up tomorrow and saw a unicorn standing in my yard, I wouldn't be surprised.

Happy Independence Day.

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Saturday, July 01, 2006

 

One Barbeque Down, Three To Go

What a wonderful, relaxing weekend. And I'm not just saying that because I'm drunk.

Ahhh. Four days with nothing to do except host barbeques, attend barbeques, overeat, and overdrink. I'm diggin' it.

Here's something else that's making me all tingly inside. I was reading Julie's blog today when I spied with my little eye this Club Mom ad:

club_mom_me

Do you see what I see? That's right! A quote by moi! Yours truly! Neat-o!

I'm sorry I'm so obnoxious. Can I blame it on the wine?

If you'll excuse me, I need to go finish up the last of those two-bite brownies now that the kids are in bed. I'm thinking a sundae consisting of three two-bite brownies with three scoops of dulce de leche Haagen-Dazs ice cream drizzled with Hershey's chocolate syrup. You'd eat that, wouldn't you?

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