The Thanksgiving Solution

Every year around this time the world feels a little off. I️ don’t know if it’s the time change, weather, or season but it seems like everyone around me is more on edge.

And I️ feel on edge along with everyone else.

Work and school obligations and kids’ extracurricular activities are tantamount to all but when you add the emotional and financial stress of another passing year, even the most mundane chores and expectations of daily life can be exhausting and overwhelming.

I️ believe in gratitude. I️ am thankful for this life I️ lead, for this second chance at being a military family of five and a partner with whom I️ can finally live under the same roof.

Sometimes gratitude isn’t enough.

I️ walked around Target this evening looking for a cheap box of hair dye in an attempt to cover my gray roots and was overwhelmed but not for the reasons you may think.

The commercialization of Christmas used to really bother me until I️ learned to look and listen past it.

I️ heard a preschooler asking his father a million questions about the different animals in the Christmas displays. I️ wanted to tell him my oldest was ten years old and I️ missed that curiosity stage of all three of my children dearly.

But I️ didn’t.

I️ met a grandmother asking me for help because, despite holding her reading glasses in her hand, she could not see the price of the giant doll in a striped pink box. I wanted to tell her that when my middle child was one and a half, Santa brought her a baby doll and a crib for the doll but in that Christmas morning, she picked up the doll and put it on the floor so she could into the crib herself. Even then as a toddler she did whatever she wanted to do.

But I️ didn’t tell her that either.

I️ heard traditional Christmas songs playing faintly from one of the aisles and remembered how my mom and dad played their favorite AM stations on a dusty old portable radio all the time. I️ always assumed they were too cheap or too poor to buy whatever everyone else had like microwaves or cable only to find out quite recently that they put everything they had at the end of the month toward next month’s mortgage payment, paying it off in eight years rather than the full thirty.

When I️ heard that, I️ was speechless. All those nights of making ramen noodles fancy with fresh shrimp, eating Vienna sausages from a can with leftover rice, and freshly caught fish from my dad’s fishing trips to Moss Landing weren’t because we couldn’t afford it? Even now thinking about it, I️ chuckle because they did not waste a single penny and for that I’m grateful.

While I️ can still take a page (or a hundred) from their example, I️ wonder if back then was a simpler and better time. I️ don’t know if materialism wasn’t as rampant but I️ feel like I️ wanted less than my kids. But I️ wanted less because my parents said NO and I️ knew better than to ask. I️ have honest conversations with my kids and tell them that these extras that we provide are extras– if they want those things when they’re older, they aren’t free. I️ hope we are telling them NO often enough because I️ don’t want my kids to have what I️ couldn’t have. My thinking is, “If I️ didn’t have it, they don’t need it.” I️ am grateful to be in this situation where we can provide them with their needs because Lord knows that isn’t always the case.

Maybe that’s why this time of year brings anxiety. All of this change seems sudden as if the weight of the entire year hangs in this delicate balance. This season of rejoice has become a season of stress and financial burden.

We can change this. Every year like the bad moms in “Bad Moms”, I️ begin to take things back. I️ reject what was once expected of myself (because we all know that there is no pressure quite like the pressure we put on ourselves) and I️ decide to do things my way. Or not.

One year I️ decided not to do a Christmas letter to include in cards because I️ didn’t think anyone read ours. Another year, I️ completely forgot to do them. Inevitably I️ always have at least a Christmas dozen cards still sitting on my piano come Valentine’s Day.

There was one year where we did not throw any parties. Nothing. Not a birthday party, not a Halloween party, not a Christmas party.

It felt amazing.

That isn’t to say I️ didn’t miss spending time with friends and family but to be rid of the stress that comes with planning was well worth it. You all can just text me, bitches!

I️ don’t know how or what I’ll take back this year but I️ know it will feel amazing.

The Transportation Triangulation

I never think about how great I have it until something goes wrong. You see, my husband has a habit of collecting lemons… and not the citrus kind.

Even writing this now, that phrase sounds so familiar that I’m pretty sure I’ve written about my husband’s love for buying used cars. Oh, he’s no auto aficionado. 

He’s cheap.

On his fourth car (which carried a rollover balance with four digits from the third), the check engine light came on. Come to find out that he hadn’t changed the oil in a year!

Why? Why?! WHY???

My dear husband didn’t want to spend the forty dollars or so three times a year for regular oil changes; opting instead of a two grand bill that we grudgingly faced this week.

Today he brought the car for its smog check and it passed.

Today my check engine light came on and I sit in fear at the local garage awaiting a bill. 

The New Kids on the Block Effect

It was not cool to be a New Kids fan back in the 80s but fans didn’t care. Decades later we still don’t care!

I’ve been to their concert when I was in high school. When they announced their reunion tour a few years ago, I bought a ticket and was sent down memory lane back to a time when everything was so much simpler, when I could pour my angst, my anxiety, my fears into being completely obsessed with five boys from Boston. 

I’ve since been another time. It’s the same each time.

This past weekend a friend bought tickets to their concert in Sacramento but won an additional pair whom she was kind enough to pass on to other Blockheads she knew from work– we screamed like teenagers when she gifted them to us and continued to scream well into the concert. 

There’s nothing better than being a huge fan than sharing this excitement with other fans! 

While it would have been cool to be in the “pit” right next to the stage, tickets were pricey and I didn’t want to pay hundreds of dollars– I have comic conventions to save for! We did the next best thing and snuck our way down to fourth row! That seems to be a trend with me and my friends and I don’t mind at all…

I’ll be loving you forever, Joey, Jordan, Jonathon, Danny, and Donnie! 


Memorial Day 2017

I left the house this morning without remembering what day it is. I had an “appointment” which was code for Mommy’s alone time at the nail salon.

I forgot it was Memorial Day. I mean, I knew what day it was. Many people have today off for this reason.

But I forgot that it was Memorial Day for Rob and dozens of his friends. 

This day is so hard on them in a way that’ll never understand. I have the privilege of not fighting for my country, something I will never take lightly. 

Thank you to those who gave their lives so we could live ours.

The Filipino Heritage Observation

L and I recently went to Filipino Heritage Night at the San Francisco Giants when they played against the Cincinnati Reds. We never stay the whole time because L gets really cold (even with a long sleeved shirt, pants, jacket, and a blanket!) and very tired. 

To be fair we did wake up early and then walked around San Francisco all day. We went to the two story Disney store near Union Square.

We watched Guardians of the Galaxy 2 at the Metreon and went on the slides at the Yerba Buena playground. 

This was the second time either of us went to a luxury movie theater with reclining seats and it was so fun… until the toddler near us screamed his head off. I could hear polite yet tense conversation where the people next to the dad were trying to say, “Get your kid out of here.” The dad said he was doing the best he can.

But was he? 

On a plane, parents have nowhere to take their kids and these poor babies are most likely in physical pain with their ears popping up in flight. 

At a theater or a restaurant? I am on the side of removing your kid from the situation. 

True, I was a married-yet-single mom for many years while my husband was deployed but I waited a long time to bring them to the movies and sit down restaurants. I remember going out to dinner with my in laws and when the youngest started crying, everyone said to stay and eat but there was no way I would take from other people’s dining experience just as I would expect parents to remove their kids if they were in my situation. We work really hard for our money and do not splurge often so I expect a five star experience every time. 

Kids won’t stay that young forever and it’s not their fault.

But it is their parents’ responsibility.

Anyway, I digress.

We went on to the game and had such a great time! I love watching sports even if I don’t know what’s going on all the time. The energy, the excitement, and the fans make it a worthwhile experience you just don’t get watching the game at home… not to mention the Gilroy garlic fries!

Go Giants!

The Brunch Insufficiency

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms and amazing women who treat my kids like their own! 

We went to a local chain restaurant for brunch and while the muffin and mimosa were delicious, the rest of the meal was lacking. That’s okay though because we were able to spend time together with my mom and get these silly photo ops.

I have about a month left of the school year and am sort of dreading it. Teachers form a bond with every class and every year, despite minor complaints, we believe this class was the best class ever. This year is no different.

Happy Mother’s Day!

The Spring Break Salinity

Most teachers get a week or two off for spring break. I got three and a half weeks and counting! 

I’m at a year round school which sounds terrible but it just means our summer break just gets broken up during the school year. I find that it’s a lot easier for me physically and emotionally to have frequent breaks rather than one long summer but that’s just me.

Our family did a lot during the break. We visited more family down in Southern California, we went on a cruise for the first time, and got our first stamps in our passports! 

I even worked at Silicon Valley Comic Con! 

I have met a lot of celebrities but rarely am I tongue tied. I stopped in my tracks when I saw the cast of Sesame Street and David Newell of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood! I’ve known them all of my life and it was a pleasure to be able to share that they have helped shape who I am today. If you ever get a chance to meet one of them, they will tell you that they never get tired of hearing stories of their viewers. 

Of all the traveling we did and all of the people I’ve met, perhaps the biggest impact on my well being was the fact that I did not work a single day of my break… that has not happened in a couple of years. I went from being a stay at home mom, to working part time (but really full since I kept subbing when I was off), to working full time plus extra since I subbed when I was off! I love this direction that my career has taken and am happy to sub for my colleagues but damn, this feels good. I’ll savor every moment until I go back to work on Thursday.