viva tutte le famiglie!

“No chemical offsprings and rented uterus: life has a natural flow, there are things that should not be changed….procreation ‘must be an act of love’, saying: ‘You are born to a mother and a father – or at least that’s how it should be. …I call children of chemistry, synthetic children. Rented uterus, semen chosen from a catalog. ..The family is not a fad. In it there is a supernatural sense of belonging.”

Thus speaks iconic fashion designers, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana…

Domenico Dolce (left) and Stefano Gabbana at their latest ‘Mamma’ catwalk show (AFP)

because, you know, coming off of their triumphant Milan Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2015 “Viva la Mama” show, where they celebrate moms, motherhood  and the family, they are also experts on family and parenting…as two men who have never been parents…ever…are.

I remember when I knew everything about parenting and raising up children…I was 18 and I was certain a family member was absolutely doing it all wrong while dealing with their strong-willed 3 year old. Being the expert that I was, I made sure they knew…and everyone else. Fast forward nine years later, I was dealing with my own strong willed 3 year old child and I realized that I would have absolutely bitch slapped 18 year old me if she was there in that moment telling me what to do.

Absolutely.

Positively.

Sometimes we need to just keep our expert opinions to ourselves.

Here’s the thing Signori Dolce and Gabbana, you are correct in that everyone is entitled to their own opinion…no matter how ridiculous in my humble opinion. I am a woman in a traditional marriage with my darling husband with our family (which you apparently celebrate). Four of our perfectly wonderful children were conceived by us in the, ahem, conventional way, carried 8 months or more and after relatively easy, short labors, delivered into our arms. Our 5th child, also conceived in love, but by means of “chemistry”, as you define it by a man and woman struggling with infertility. He grew for scarcely 6 months in another woman’s womb (his biological mother’s) and as god, fate, timing or whatever force of nature would have, he, soon after his birth, became my child…my husband’s child…our son…our daughters little brother. Our son made of flesh, blood, bones, a brain, a heart, a soul…not a plastic child but absolutely a real child…very much real for the last thirteen years.

Your opinions, whether from the heart or flippant, I find to be hurtful and insulting. I understand that they are in defense of “traditional families” whatever that is supposed to mean to the majority of thinking people all over the world in 2015. Families today, in my neighborhood, my workplace, my city, my state, my country, literally all over the world can be defined as a mother and father and children, or a mother and mother and children, or a father and father and child, or a child and aunt and uncle, or foster parents and children…and on and on and on. Children are conceived in love by intercourse and in a laboratory, via IVF, via surrogate or sperm or egg donor. And children are adopted. While you have been designing and creating fashion for more than 30 years, the last 25 years as an RN in the NICU I have been privileged to witness the creation of more families than I can possibly keep count…families with straight parents, married parents, co-habitating parents, separated parents, divorced parents, single parents, gay parents, grandparents, adoptive parents, parents who struggled for years and years with infertility, parents welcoming a total oops in spite of the best birth control out there, jailed parents, addicted parents…name it and I will confirm for you that yes, those kind of parents too…all parents to real, living and breathing children…no matter how they were conceived…children, all part of a family…perhaps not your kind of family but still, nonetheless, a part of a family.

Yes, Signore Gabbana, we do need to “respect the ideas of others”. Here is mine…

A child conceived via IVF, born to another woman calls me Mom and is very real, very natural and absolutely my child. Everyone is entitled to express their own opinion no matter how ridiculous. But a living, breathing, loving human child remains, always, real…

and at 13 sometimes too real!

Viva il bambino sintetico!

Viva la famiglia!

Viva tutte le famiglie!

 

Fixed for the very first time

I will admit it. I am in a rut when it comes to what I wear every day. If I am not wearing jammies while dropping my son off to school, I am wearing, as I go about my usual juggling kind of day, rumpled scrubs or tee shirts (or sweat shirts or sweaters) and jeans or running leggings paired with a singlet or running tee hidden under a denim shirt with my sweaty hair tucked under a ball cap or slouchy, knit hat.

I know a certain sanctimommy blogger recently declared leggings and yoga pants to be offensive when she stated that she would no longer wear them because it vexed her husband so imagining all of us slutty women galavanting out and about town wearing our slutty leggings and yoga pants but lately that is pretty much the uniform as I’m training here…not that I would imagine any poor, innocent man is actually checking out my 53 year old butt that propels me to run more than 30 miles a week while training for The 5th annual Modesto Half Marathon. I really don’t have time, nor do I care. Besides, why should I say anything to answer her argument when Carly pretty much shut that stupid, sexist nonsense down better than anyone else.

Still, sometimes when I get a side glance of me in the mirror, I notice that in spite of a closet that screams for some serious editing and updating, I am in a rut…jammies, scrubs, jeans, sweaty running clothes.

Ugh!

Then I noticed a co-worker’s Facebook post sharing her latest Stitch Fix and I was curious and inspired. So I followed the link she shared…you’re welcome S!…and I decided to check out this thing that everyone else I know online and all of Pinterest is enjoying.

Stitch Fix is the first fashion retailer to blend expert styling, proprietary technology and unique product to deliver a shopping experience that is truly personalized for you. Simply fill out the Stitch Fix Style Profile and our personal stylists will handpick a selection of five clothing items and accessories unique to your taste, budget and lifestyle. You can buy what you like and return the rest!

How does it work?

  1. Fill out your Style Profile

    Begin by filling out the Style Profile. This helps us understand your size, style, shape, budget and lifestyle. Completing your profile should only take about 10 minutes.

  2. Pick the date you’d like to receive your shipment

    We’ll send you a selection of five clothing items and accessories handpicked by personal stylists on the date you choose. At the time your stylist selects your items, you will be charged a $20 styling fee. That $20 will be applied toward anything you keep from your shipment.

  3. Try everything on in the comfort of your home

    We encourage you to try on everything our personal stylists have picked for you because you just never know what will look great on! Create new outfits by pairing what’s in your shipment with the items that are already in your closet.

  4. Buy what you like and return the rest

    a. Take three days to decide what you’ll purchase and what you’d like to send back. You’re only charged for these items when you tell us what you’re keeping and returning.

    b. Check out by logging in to your account to pay for those items you want to keep. The $20 styling fee will be applied toward any items you purchase. If you buy all five items, we’ll give you 25% off the entire purchase!

    c. Simply return the items you don’t want in our prepaid mailing bag and drop it at any USPS mailbox. Stitch Fix clients enjoy free shipping both ways as a benefit of using our service!

Seems simple enough. Why not?!

Will a scrubs and t-shirt & skinny jeans wearing kind of girl find happiness in this box? We shall see.

Inside my first fix is a note from my stylist, Janelle, who after reading through my profile and checking out my Pinterest boards selected five different items along with several styling options.

Loving the colors! Let’s try them on!

The 41Hawthorn Moni Geo Print & Camisole Blouse – $58. LOVE the color, not too wild about the trim. Ultimately, it was too tight in the shoulders so no.

Collective Concepts Maisy Geo Print Dress – $88.00. What a cute dress this is! I imagine that Janelle is right; this would look perfect with nude kitten heels. The only problem is that although it is my size, I can’t zip it up past my upper waist. No.

Next 19 Cooper Cathleen Split-Neck Tulip Sleeve Blouse. This color with my hair and my eyes…YES! Too tight again in the shoulders and arms…no!

Apparently I have man shoulders thanks to kettle bells.

Bay to Baubles Aditi Spade Earrings $28.00. These fit perfectly! I was going to keep them but at the very last minute, three days later influenced probably by sleep deprivation and stress from Bill’s heart attack, I changed my mind. Ultimately, I didn’t like the way they looked with the length that my hair is right now. I knew I wouldn’t wear them right now so decided to send them back. Perhaps another fix as my pixie cut continues to grow out.

Mavi Gold Nigel Skinny Jean -$138. A little bit pricier than what I spent on my last pair of jeans, but…the cut, the quality of the material and the way they fit literally every curve and the length of my legs perfectly, I would say worth it. Yes, please!

So there you have it. My very first Stitch Fix. Not really a fail. I had a chance to see potential fashion possibilities, that I might not necessarily even consider for me because I am stuck in a t-shirt & jeans, rumpled scrubs, running tights kind of rut. We need to work on sizing and fit which is what the return survey and message to my stylist is for. I told how the returned items fit, or didn’t fit and things I might like to see. Following Stitch Fix on Pinterest and Instagram gives me ideas for possible fixes that I might like that I can always let my stylist know too to help her out. We’re just getting started. Who knows what she will send me come April (I chose to receive my Fix every other month).

Interested? Curious? Feel free to click on my Stitch Fix referral link to get started.

 

 

reminder: have courage and be kind

It’s your birthday this week, Mom. What are you doing Friday the 13th?

Um, I don’t know…

Good. Keep that date open for me…for your birthday present. She smiles and flounces off, as she often does as the dancer, as the princess that she is.

What could it be?, I wonder to myself…a pedi?….a massage….shopping?…dinner?…all too much, of course. Still, I am excited, because she tells me that she is so excited. I can’t imagine her enthusiasm to not ever be contagious.

Happy Birthday To Me arrives and the first gift I receive is this:

Every one else, it would seem, is tripping on the time change springing forward one hour, but I am good because I have a perfect non-fat, no whip, white mocha, a Sephora gift card and I am seeing Cinderella with my darling 4th daughter the evening of Friday the 13th. No superstitions here!

Ever since I was a very little girl, Cinderella was my Princess. I know, not very feminist of me. Who cares! For me, a very lonely, awkward little girl, who never seemed to do anything right for anyone, no matter how hard she tried, Cinderella reminded to keep dreaming, keep believing…and I did. I do.

It is because of the Cinderella of my young life, I was worried about what Disney would do to her in a live action movie…Silly, I know, because this is Disney. Even with the PERFECT re-working of Sleeping Beauty into Maleficent of last year, I still had my reservations because this was my Cinderella. Yet, I still wanted to see it.

I had nothing to worry about.

Except for perhaps the “Cinderella” who greeted us as she tugged uncomfortably with her gloves and fidgeted with her ball gown…not princess-like at all! My Princess showed her how it is done even when clad in simple skinny jeans, a tee and ballet flats. The movie theater had the right idea having a “Cinderella” ready to meet and greet everyone on opening night. The reactions of the little children there was priceless. But it is hard for a professional princess to not want to show how it should be done right.

You don’t tug, you don’t fidget and you stand like this…

But the movie…the movie was almost perfection! I won’t lie, during the beginnings, filled with one heartbreak after another, I found myself saying out loud enough already…just as Ella meets Kit, the Apprentice. The story plays on as one familiar with Cinderella would expect; but with a few delightful twists and turns along the way to keep it fresh and more real…because, yes, feminists, even this Disney princess isn’t necessarily looking for a man to save her…especially when it is SHE who teaches the Prince that he must “have courage and be kind.”…something I believe we all need to be reminded of…some of us need to be reminded of the “be kind” part perhaps more so. Just saying…

I LOVED the movie! Jodie LOVED the movie! The reaction of pretty much everyone else in the theater tonight suggested that they all LOVED the movie too!

Cinderella is rated PG and although I would recommend it as family friendly, know that there are three characters who die in the movie, two whom die on screen, which might prove to be upsetting for more sensitive children..

Still, a wonderful movie evening and birthday gift with MY favorite princess.

Made even MORE perfect because it was my birthday! My princess did very good.

 

overdoing

The Big Top Spring Break plans had to be shelved…for obvious reasons…womp, womp. Bill is still waiting on his cardiologist to sign off on his disability insurance and, well, the savings for Spring Break Week in Monterey had to be redirected because clowns need to be fed and bills need to be paid.

Perhaps next year!

But, we are excellent punters…any family with more than 1-2 children is because it is part of basic family survival.

My darling husband is recuperating well but he is growing more restless and bored as each day goes by. His son in law comes over to mow the lawn. The wife is taking out the trash, along with everything else she juggles. He can’t vacuum. He can’t haul the laundry up and down the stairs or the groceries out of the mom car. He can’t walk the dog…no matter how much Betty begs. So he walks in the morning and the afternoon and the evening. And he putters around the Big Top feeling incredibly restless and bored.

A beach vacation would have been perfect right about now….yes.

Maybe a day in San Francisco is what we all need. Nothing ambitious…no big shopping trips or crossing bridges. Perhaps a day visiting a dear, old friend and lunch and some walks around a very small part of The City.

The most delicious, cup of Swiss chocolate made perfect while enjoying the company of a dear, old friend who made it for us.

Strolling through the Yerba Buena Gardens, enjoying the water falls…

and perhaps reflecting a little on the fail that is your Mima and Papa not having any spare change to toss into the fountain so that you can make a wish. Absolute fail!

A fail soon forgotten as you try to shake Shaking Man‘s hand(s).

Oh Art!

Onward to the Zeum Carousel…renamed recently the Leroy King Carousel

Whatever the name, it is a good place to ride a dragon

or a beautiful, white horse.

Absolute fun!

Lunch followed up with a short walkabout around Union Square complete with an encounter with a Buddhist monk offering prayer beads for Hazel and me along with a blessing…for 20 bucks.

Yeah.

Hazel and I accepted the beads and the blessings giving 4 bucks because that was all that we had. The beads are cute though.

 

A good day…a great day…a day where perhaps Bill might have overdid it.

Looking at her, exhausted, he agrees that yes, he overdid it. But he smiles when he states this.

Tomorrow he rests,

I promise.

He promises too.

 

 

parental supervision advised

Recent events in the education of my favorite son have proven to be pretty exciting these days. Last month, after months and months of planning, preparation, education and communication our school district went live going digital with over 23,000 Panasonic 3E tablets issued to all the students in the district to be utilized in the classroom and for students in grades 4-8 to take home with parental permission and high school, well, I don’t know because I have no student in high school. But based on what I’m seeing in social media world, high school students are taking their devices home.

Going digital is every where. It’s now and it’s real and it is in pretty much every workplace setting…whether we like it or not. It only makes sense that we equip and educate our children…all of our children. Of course pretty much every child out there is tech savvy already with a strong selfie game by the time they are two. But for those who do not have access at home, here is an opportunity and it is exciting. At least I think so.

For months and months before the big day, our school district was informing us what was coming. Regular discussions and presentations were at school board meetings. Information was being sent home, updated on school web sites and the school district web site. The local paper published articles regularly as well. Teachers were discussing at back to school nights and individual teacher conferences what was to come. There were parent meetings with members of school board, faculty and Panasonic offered all over the district where parents could have the opportunity to ask more questions, actually see the devices and even play with them late last year. Up until the big Go Live day schools regularly sent home updates via flyers, monthly newsletters, emails and robo-calls. Our kids had assemblies talking about the Big Day and, at least under our Big Top, we heard about it from our very excited student. Technology was coming to our schools. A parent had to be literally living under a rock not to know what was coming. We knew under The Big Top since before last year at this time that this was coming…and we could not wait.

Then the day came just last month and Ta-Da!!!

We opted to give Daniel permission to bring his home on weekends and the day that he received his device because we wanted to see it too! As Daniel started it up, he carefully explained to us the dos and the don’ts of caring for and operating his tablet/laptop. He basically recited nearly verbatim the clear handout (with pictures) in English and Spanish that was sent home to the parents. We praised the boy on his care for his device to which he shrugged reminding us that we told him he has to take good care of his technology always.

Don’t you just love it when your kids actually listen to you and do what you say?

Me too.

Also, he added, Mrs. B. spent a great deal of time prepping his class with the basics of their tablets/laptops. Thank goodness because Mom and Dad appreciate his prompting as we get ourselves acquainted with it too.

So six weeks later, the local paper wonders how the students are doing with their devices and discovers that cracked screens from students stepping on the devices…as they are getting out of bed is the biggest reported problem. No actual numbers are reported, but the district assures that it is small number comparatively.

Of course the comments immediately flood the paper’s social media sites because people are clearly upset about this…this is a big deal. Comments pour in all mostly pointing fingers at schools, the school district and teachers because clearly THEY are not being responsible. One parent loudly, shrilly complains that the schools had not adequately prepped parents and students for this. Schools are not teaching her children safety and and responsibility. Technology is important but some parents don’t want their kids to use it or access it….she expresses these comments via Facebook using her iPhone. And the “amen corner” chimes in.

But here is a novel idea…How about parents take responsibility to teach their children to take care of all the technology devices they use and what websites their children access?…Yes, I asked that.

Why does this remind me so much of sex education with our kids and parents of my kids’ friends suddenly realizing that when their kids are 12 that OMG, the school is going to talk to them about their changing bodies and maybe sex and they are just kids and OMG!!! They are going to talk to them about that!!! We haven’t even had THE TALK because they’re just babies and OMG!!!

It’s simple to suggest that parents need to take responsibility here. It is too simple. Parents, who clearly are tech-savvy enough to shrilly comment all over social media of the evils of tech in their child’s school and tech being forced upon their child via their iPhone should be able to pass on some of that to their kids. Given the fact that most toddlers I know seem pretty adept navigating mommy’s smart phone or their own tablet to play games or watch Frozen for the jabillionth time, I would imagine the small group of #MUSDgoingdigitalconcerns parents have kids who are savvy enough…the leader of their group has a high school aged child who I imagine is quite busy on twitter, tumblr and kik. Shame on her for not passing on info to her mom who claims having no knowledge until December 2014…and since mom chose to judge my parenting when we engaged in a thoughtful debate on this subject…shame on mom for not being on top of her child’s school activities as well as perhaps her child’s online activity.

As another parent expressed: I am a bit concerned as to why the children/ kids/teens are allowed to “go to bed” with their tablets. It is a learning device, a digital book if you will…. parents should be supervising the usage of these things, the tablet should be put in a backpack or put away on the table or something, these items should not be being broken and used as a baby sitting device.

Disagree all you want, but truth of the matter is the parents need to step up and be responsible for their kids actions.

I’m sorry #MUSDgoingdigitalconcerns mom but all of your apples and oranges and slippery slope arguments fall flat. We were prepped. We were given ample time and the forums to express questions and concerns. Our kids have been educated in class on the care of their devices and safety. We have been repeatedly also informed of basic device care and safety for our children while using their devices. Ultimately we as parents must choose to continue to support, encourage and educate ourselves and our children of the care of their devices and safety…as responsible parents do. Like sex education, or morality, or basic respect for people, animals, places and things, ultimately this is the job of the parent, including you, #MUSDgoingdigitalconcerns mom, to be present, be aware and teach our kids proper respect for things given to them. If your kid was irresponsible enough to take the device to bed to be “doing homework” and crack the screen, I imagine that you are engaging with me on the Bulletin’s Facebook page via your iPhone with a cracked screen.

Yes, I went there. You question my own parenting in our back and forth discussion implying that I don’t care for my child’s safety I think it’s fair.

Ultimately, it is one of MUSD’s students who pretty much said what needed to be said: I personally think the tablets are awesome if used correctly. I have never been more productive. I am a senior in high school and the tablets have allowed for me to get a lot of small assignments done between passing classes, allowing me to reduce my workload at home. Also, in applying to colleges it’s really nice to have all the materials necessary at my fingertips. During lunch and brunch I fill out scholarship applications-something I had to wait to do until I got home to my computer before. Although I use my tablet for the intended use of improving my educational experience, I am highly aware of their misuse. I have classmates who got their tablets and downloaded games immediately and only waste their time. My peers are extremely careless when it comes to their tablets so it’s no surprise to me that so many are broken. I don’t think the tablets are the problem. The problem is the students’ individual negligence towards them. Whether we like it or not our future will be ruled by technology so it is really great that MUSD is giving us this advantage over the students of other districts. Of course there are going to be problems with the tablets, but learning to deal with them is exactly the type of ‘real-life’ application every body claims to want in their education.

and then a teacher, I know personally, who admittedly struggled with the going digital process shared: I have so enjoyed the last few days with the students having their own computers. I guess I wasn’t surprised things have gone so smoothly, since we were towards the end and most of the bugs had been worked out. The kids have amazed me not with how much further ahead of me they were, which I expected, but how much they were willing to help each other out. I did find I had much to teach them (especially about word processing), but for much of the time my job is to just stay out of their way. They also are taking a whole new interest in completing their work and behaving in class. I realize this won’t last, but you can’t fault me for enjoying it while I can…

Back it up #MUSDgoingdigitalconcerns mom. You sit down and focus on your kid’s safety and use and care of their digital device and I will with mine.