Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Little (Yeah, Right) Thing That Makes Me Happy.

I wanted to share this with you because it has been making me very pleased with myself lately, and if I'm getting pleased with myself then chances are that it can help to make someone out there pleased with themselves too. And I'm all about sharing pleasure (totally didn't intend for that to sound as intimate as it came out)! Bow chicka wow wow.

A month ago, after I posted about Inara's difficulties adjusting to school, my friend told me about a neat tool that she has been using to help her kids plan for their days. It was so simple, really - and I remember wondering why I hadn't thought of it before. Basically, my friend made a humongous calendar (it's really big. In fact, we've been calling it The Big Ass Calendar - just between us mommies, of course) out of poster board. It was large enough that her kids would be able to clearly see what to expect on any given day, and it wouldn't be a huge surprise when she sprung things like doctor's appointments on them. Because hey, it isn't really a surprise if it's already on the calendar, right?

Smart lady.

I went over to her place to use her fancy-schmancy electronic cutting machine, because if I was going to make this Large Bummed Calendar (trying to keep the naughty words to a minimum here) I was going to make it look PRETTY. And even though I am not crafty in the least, I think it turned out swell. Inara and Nissa certainly thought so!

Check it out, kids. March's Big Bummed Calendar:

I have a few things to say about this:

1. Don't laugh at my lion and lamb. I warned you about my lack of craftiness and artsyness.
2. I hung the gigantic calendar at kiddie eye-level, right next to the rain gutter bookshelves, so that the kids couldn't miss it. 
3. I took my friend's idea a step further and tailored it to my kids needs (which you can do too!). I didn't want to label Inara's school days with YOU ARE GOING TO SCHOOL ON THIS DAY AND THIS DAY AND THIS DAY PLEASE DON'T FREAK OUT. So instead, I used a calming shade of violet and colored in the Monday, Wednesday and Friday columns.
4. Then I made sure to plan activities for the purple days, so that Inara would have other things to look forward to, on those days that she was feeling not so great about school.

I can't tell you how much of a difference this has made in our lives. I don't have to deal with the "Mama, do I have to go to school tomorrow?" questions anymore, because it's on the calendar. It's written down and I can't change it! And also, I know that school is not your favorite thing, but LOOK! We get to go swimming afterward! Awesome sauce!!

As soon as I put this baby up, Inara and Nissa were all over it. Nissa liked the little birdies (don't laugh at them! I tried to make them not look like blue blobs...I really did!). Inara loved the rainbows (but of course), and she touched all the little words around the edges, reading them aloud to her sister. It's her favorite song (because it's about rainbows), and I thought it was kind of inspirational too, a special touch just for her:

The coolest part was when she stood there and counted all the purple days, and then counted all the plain old white days. And she realized, with a huge grin, that there were far less purple days than white ones. ANXIETY GONE. I swear. It was that simple.

Now, I know that she is going to have to work up to five days of school, eventually. But right now, my kid is a happy little birdie. And that is all that matters to this mama. We now have lots to look forward to, and she actually says things like, "It's a purple day! I have to go to music class, but I also better not be late for school!"


As an aside, Inara (and Yousuf and I, by extension) is seeing a child psychologist. There, I said it and now you know. We absolutely love her and she has made such a difference in our lives. I think that she is going to help Inara do AMAZING things with her life, and I'm so glad that we have her. I told her about our Big Bummed Calendar at our last meeting and she showed me her notes that said, Homework: put as much information about Inara's day in writing as possible so that she knows what to expect. 

I poop you not!

If there was ever a way to be a psychological teacher's pet, then I think we found a way to do it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Psssst! Hey, guys! I wanted to remind you check over at And Nobody Told Me for my latest post. It's about some heavy stuff, namely how Motherhood can be isolating (hence the title, "...that motherhood could be so isolating". I know, I'm so original. I could have said something like, "....that there are some days that I talk to the washing machine just to exercise the language portion of my brain". But that was too long and wouldn't fit. Also it's kind of odd. I will close this parenthesis now).

The funny thing about why I haven't posted at ANTM in forever is precisely the reason why I wrote this latest post. This past month has been HARD for me. I don't know if it's because winter is dragging on and on and is preventing me from getting out and having fun, or if it's because of all the stuff we've been going through with Inara (which is getting ever so slightly better, by the way. More on that in future posts). Whatever the reason, March was the month in which Mahreen Felt So Alone. Even though I was busy with the kids and the husband and the blog and with life in a good, happy, fulfilling way - I have never felt so isolated. And so I wrote that post, and you should check it out, because I KNOW that I'm not the only one that is feeling this way.

Hmmm....just posting about how isolated I have been feeling lately is making me feel better about myself already. We should really have these chats more often.

Thanks for being there for me, friends. Know that I don't feel quite so alone knowing that you're out there somewhere.

Gratefully yours,

Monday, March 28, 2011

Serving Justice, One Cookie At A Time.

We spent some family time together this past weekend making these insanely delicious cookies. The girls had a blast getting messy in the kitchen, and I loved that they could nibble on the dough without worrying about raw egg yuck. Yousuf is a cheagan (cheater + vegan = cheagan because he's mostly vegan but loves ice cream. You can't blame him either. That stuff is like crack!) and is secretly in love with Isa Chandra Moskowitz, so he was happy to lead the charge.

They turned out beautifully, as they always do. And just like always, the girls were practically doing handstands begging for cookiescookiescookies whencanwehavesomeCOOKIES?!?!

Now because I am a Very Mean Mommy, I never let an opportunity like this pass by without exploiting my Mean Mommy Advantage. At dinner, I told both of them that they had to eat all of their veggies before they could have a cookie. Inara narrowed her eyes at me as if to say fine, lady. But I'm not happy about it. But you know what? She wanted those cookies so badly that she bent her head over her cauliflower and ate the whole bowl in one go. Awesome. Score One for Mean Mommy.

Nissa, on the other hand, is an entirely different creature than her sister. She's will be two in just over a month (waaaah!), but she is already the smartest person in the house. She understood what I said very clearly, because she repeated it back to me: "Caufi-lowa fest. Den Cooka. Yes!", nodding her head in agreement with me the whole time.

Then she grabbed her bowl of cauliflower and dumped it on the ground.

And then she announced, "CAUFI-LOWA ALL GONE!"

"THAT DOESN'T COUNT, ISSIE!" Inara sputtered, pointing at Nissa, and waving fistfuls of cauliflower in the air.

Great. I thought. Now I have to be Really Mean Mommy. I hate being Really Mean Mommy.

"You're right, Inara. That doesn't count. Nissa you haven't eaten your cauliflower, so you won't be getting a cookie until your veggies are all done. In your tummy all done. Not on the ground all done."

You would have thought that I had mortally wounded the child with the way she started screaming at me. She stomped around, banging her little fists against the walls, throwing her tiny body down on the ground and howling in agony. Over a blasted cookie. I couldn't even console her - she wanted absolutely nothing to do with me, the evil person who had taken away every sugar-laden drop of joy from her world.

Meanwhile, Inara quietly finished all of her veggies and dinner, and sat patiently. Waiting.

Up until that point, I had never actually followed through on my Mean Mommy threats. But damn, my kids are smart. Or stubborn. I can't figure out which.

So Yousuf calmly walked past Nissa, who was flailing like a fish out of water on the dining room floor, into the kitchen to get her a cookie. And we all sat there at the table, watching each other and not saying a word, as Nissa went into a nuclear meltdown.

The very second that Inara was finished with her cookie - and I don't know how she did this, because her eyes were scrunched shut - Nissa's agonizing howls stopped abruptly. She calmly picked herself up off the floor and simply walked away, without another peep. Because she is insane. We all looked at each other, shell shocked, and Inara said, "Wow, Issie. You are SO. ODD."

Word up, kiddo.

Fast forward to the next night, when Yousuf and I decided that the same rules would have to apply as far as eating veggies before any desserts were received (you'd think we would have learned by then, but OH NO! We're gluttons for punishment!).

BUT! This wasn't Nissa that flipped out. Because that would be TOO EASY. And we can't be having that now, can we?

As soon as we put out dinner, Nissa dove into it. Literally. When she eats, she consumes it all with her entire body. Forget cutlery, this kid was going for gold without wasting even a second on helpful kitchen implements. She was scooping up stew with her bare hands, stuffing broccoli into her cheeks and swigging back huge gulps of water - all at the same time. It was incredible and horrifying, and maybe just the tiniest bit adorable. In other words, typical Nissa.

At the same time, Inara sat with her arms folded tightly across her chest, and a frown etched onto her face. Her eyebrows were pulled down so far that I think they almost touched her lips. "I am NOT eating this stuff. Ever." she announced.

I sighed, because OF COURSE it would have been too much to ask the universe to have one bloody night without any food drama.

Nissa, finished with ingesting (if you can call it that) her meal, was ready to get up. I gave Inara a pointed Mean Mommy glare and got up to help Yousuf wipe Nissa up. Her entire upper body was covered in gunk, and it was a two-man operation trying to get her clean. She was full, therefore she was happy. She burbled something about I eat food yum in my tummy GOOD! while we washed her up (while Inara glared at us from the dining room), and when we were done Yousuf plopped her down onto the ground and she ran away, singing a song about butterflies and carrots.

"What about dessert?" I asked Yousuf, as we wrung out the facecloths (it took more than one). "Aren't you going to give her a cookie?"

"She never asked for no, I don't think we need to remind her that they're there. She ate her dinner because she wanted to, not because you made her. That's a good thing, isn't it?" he said, nonchalantly.

I countered with, "Yeah, but still...that doesn't seem fair, now does it? She ate her dinner, but she still deserves a cookie. And the only reason she forgot about them is because she's too short to see the cookie jar. We shouldn't discriminate against her short stature. That's just mean."

By this time Yousuf was giving me his patented eye-roll. Which is not dissimilar to his patented one-shoulder shrug, except that it takes less effort on the part of his muscles, so it means that the argument is even more irrelevant to him.This usually accomplishes nothing, other than to infuriate me beyond the point of reason.

"Fine," Yousuf shrugged, walking away. "But if you give her a cookie, Inara is going to go ballistic. I'm just warning you."

Now I was just getting mad.

"DUDE. We did the SAME THING to Nissa yesterday! We rewarded Inara for eating her veggies even when it turning Nissa into a snarling beast. It's not right to keep the cookie away from the kid that did something right! PLUS, did you ever think that you could use the cookie as a catalyst for change?"

(You might call this insanity. I call it justice.)

"Uh...wha?", is all Yousuf could muster in response. "No, it definitely can not be used as a catalyst for change, because it definitely did NOT work that way yesterday. Nissa went NUTS, and she didn't even end up wanting the cookie."

"Yes, but that was Nissa." I explained. "Inara is different. As in, she is rational and logical, and she would do anything for a cookie. We must use this to our advantage! And HELLO, Nissa totally deserves a cookie. Even if she doesn't want one. Makes total sense, yes?"


Ignoring the Yousuf-shaped party pooper standing beside me, I grabbed a cookie and stood next to Inara. Because I am a MEAN MOMMY. Inara eyed me warily, not quite sure what to expect.

"Niss-ssa!" I called out sweetly, not unlike an evil fairy tale villain in disguise.

As expected, Nissa came bounding around the corner, pretty happy with life in general. And I was just about to send her into baby heaven.

"Issie, did you eat your dinner?"
"Did you eat ALL of your dinner?"
"Are you still hungry? Do you want more food?"
(Wait. This wasn't the answer I was expecting to hear. I thought I heard Yousuf guffaw from somewhere behind me. But I persisted...)
"Uh, okay. Forget the food. Do you want a COOKIE?"
"YES YES YES! I wanna cooka! I want! I WANT!"
"Well, here you go then, sweetie!" I said, handing her the biggest cookie in the jar.

Inara scowled at me, narrowed her eyes, and stuck a brocolli into her mouth.

Game, Set, Match to Mean Mommy.

Post Script: Yousuf says that I would be remiss if I didn't add an epilogue to this post, which I am loathe to do because it paints him in a more favorable light. ANYWAY. Later that same night, after the girls were in bed, I went into the bathroom on the main floor and found a half-eaten cookie stuck behind the toilet. Gross. I guess the moral of the story is Don't Force Feed Your Kid Cookies (unless you think it will inspire your other kid to eat their veggies). I still think justice was served, even if came in the shape of a half-eaten cookie. The End.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Baby And the Tramp.

The first thing visitors always ask me about when they come up to the second floor of our house is the trampoline.

"Is that a...trampoline?" they say, pointing at the blue and red contraption that sits in the corner of the master bedroom.

"Why yes. Yes it is." I always reply.

And then there is that moment of confusion and embarrassment, when the visitors are curious as to why we'd have a child-sized trampoline in our bedroom - but maybe, they wonder, the answer is something that shouldn't be talked about in polite conversation.

So they avoid eye contact with me and look down at the lint balls rolling across my carpet floor.

It's kind of funny.

But I have a good reason for having a trampoline in my bedroom. It's actually one of my sanity-savers. And I'll tell you why.

It's because when my kids get on that trampoline - I can actually get things done

 I can fold laundry without people "helping".

I can vacuum the gigantic lint balls off of the carpet - which Nissa does not enjoy, but she tolerates from the relative safety of her trampoline perch.

(Though she still yells at me when I'm vacuuming. But I can't HEAR HER! Haha!)

I can even take the trampoline into other rooms as I putter away, in golden precious SILENCE (these pictures were taken with it in Nissa's room).

(Well, silence except for the boingboingboingwhee! Of the trampoline and it's occupants)

It gives the term "bouncing off the walls" a whole new meaning. For twenty glorious minutes, nobody is mad at me, everyone is happy - and the kids are actually having fun.

 They're even getting tired from all the exertion it takes to maintain that trampolining momentum.


So that's why I have a trampoline in my bedroom. Try to resist bouncing on your way out.

Mama! Is it time to fold more laundry yet? Pleaaaasseeeee?!?

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Knowing And Not Knowing Of Things.

The girls and I went to a music class this morning. At the end of the class, we wandered amongst our friends and neighbors, mingling and meeting, smiling and laughing, crowded in the small but happy space. Toward the end of the room there was a table, spread with canned goods, boxes of pasta, and other non-perishable items.

Inara, being the sort of observant little person who takes in all the details of a space, wandered over and wanted to know why there was a big table of food in the room. Obviously.

"Soooo, Mama. There is a table over here. And it has lots of food on it. Like corn in a can. Why does this big table have all this food on it and who is it for and why is there corn in a can? Do you think I would like corn in a can?"

Honestly, it's a wonder this kid even has time to breathe some days.

There was a lot to answer in that question, as there always is when Inara thinks about...anything. So I decided to start with the big issues, and leave the canned corn to another discussion.

"Well, this is a collection, Inara. The table is a place where we can bring food and then someone will give all that food to other people who don't have enough food to eat."

"Oh. I see. And those people that don't have enough food to eat really want to eat lots and lots of corn in a can, right?"

(I love the way the world looks to a four year old.)

"Ummm...well," I replied, "they can eat that, and all the other food that people bring."

"Really? But Mama, why don't all those people that are hungry just go to the grocery store to BUY corn in a can? That's what I would do."

Aha. Now we hit the jackpot.

"Inara, honey. Some people don't have enough money to go to a store to buy corn in a can. Or anything else. And some people don't even have a car to get to the grocery store."

Inara stood there, looking at all the canned goods. I could see her brain turning those gears around and over and under, processing what I had just said. With a look on her face that was a perfect mixture of sadness and anger, she put her hands over her eyes, sat down on the cold hard floor and said,

"NO. WAY."

I felt like such a chump. My daughter had lost her innocence right there, sitting on a concrete floor, in a church basement. All because of me.

Nissa and I sat down beside her, freezing our collective bum cheeks off. We put our arms around our girl, smothered her with kisses and held her tight. Nissa didn't even try to pull her hair, and patted her big sister's head instead, leaving traces of sticky cookie crumbs behind. I pretended not to notice.

From somewhere underneath my armpit, a tiny plaintive voice spoke out. It was muffled, but I distinctly heard:

"But WHY, Mama? Why don't those people have enough food to eat?"

I buried my face in her chocolate-cookie-crumb-covered hair, and kissed her. I moved her into my lap, and Nissa sat on top of both of us. We were one big mass of coats and boots and people and crumbs, right there on the church basement floor.

I sighed as I said, "I don't know, baby. I just don't know."

Inara sighed too. Nissa blew a raspberry at us. Inara managed to extricate herself from underneath my arm and she looked back at the table. Then she frowned and said,

"Mama. You don't really know very much about very much lately, do you?"

(I admit to being surprised by this new line of questioning.)

"What do you mean, kiddo?"

"What I mean is that you don't know about why people don't have enough food to eat, and you don't know why there are big waves that wash away houses and you absolutely don't know about why people want to fight in a war. Why don't you know about any of those things?" Inara huffed all this out at me, angry and expectant.

I gathered her back up in my arms again and said, "I don't know the answer to that one either, honey. And I am really, really sorry about that."

I looked dejected enough that she didn't pursue it any further. Instead, we sat there for a little while longer, in one big heap, and hugged.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tragedy and Devastation.

I meant to write to you telling about my post at And Nobody Told Me - but this is what came out instead. The post over there is about worrying...and today I am worrying about much bigger things than my healthy, happy and very lucky family. Be well and safe my, friends. xoxoxmahreen

I will never forget December 26th, 2004.

Yousuf and I were recovering from holiday overload at his grandparents house. We had been married for just two years, and we were still in that getting-to-know-your-family stage of our relationship. I had no earthly idea that Christmas was such a huge deal with his family until that year, and as we sat on a couch in the basement we reminded ourselves that even though cramming that amount of people into that small of a space probably restricted our airflow to the point of delirium, the POINT of it all was to share in our love.

We kept telling ourselves that as we hugged each other, alone, in the cool quiet.

We kept telling ourselves that as he reached for the remote.

We kept telling ourselves that as he flipped to the news channel.

And then everything changed.

We saw the images of the Indian Ocean tsunami as it hit the coastlines of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand. We saw houses and belongings and people being washed away. We sat up, bolt upright, holding hands. We looked at each other and looked back. Looked away again, trying to erase the tragedy...but of course we couldn't do that.

There are no words to describe that moment. Horror, loss, sadness, helplessness...nothing does that feeling any justice. It's like a gaping chasm in the pit of your stomach that you can't close up. We didn't know anyone there. We just felt their pain. I think the whole world felt it, in that moment.

We wandered upstairs...bewildered. We told his family what had happened. The television was turned on, and the shock began to register. They were calling it the largest tsunami in our planet's history. They were saying that the death toll would be in the hundreds of thousands. That countries were going to be devastated.

It was all true.

All of a sudden, the holidays had more meaning. More than the material blessings, we had been blessed with our family, in that house, all of us safe, in that moment. And we were blessed to not know loss. We were blessed with love. We all knew it.

The following day, I called my local chapter of the American Red Cross. And I thought I would have to beg them to volunteer, in any way that they needed me.

I was asked to come in the very next day, to help process donation checks. The response had been overwhelming, they said. But there wasn't enough staff to help out.

And so I did - and looking back, I think it made me feel a little less helpless. A little more connected. A little more human. I went in on evenings and came back early the next morning. I kept going back again and again, wandering between the offices, asking if there was something - anything that I could do. There was so much that I needed to be done...I just needed to step up and do it.

Today, as the news of another massive earthquake in Japan followed by tsunamis hitting at least 20 countries develops, I am struck by that same feeling of helplessness. And worry. I can't do anything but sit here and compulsively refresh my screen, searching for more news, more information. And I am hoping against hope that my friends in Hawaii and the West Coast are safe. That they stay safe.

I am so thankful for my family, for our safe little house and safe little world. We are so unbelievably lucky. We are so blessed. We have never had to suffer a tragedy like this. I hope that we never will. And yet, my thoughts keep going towards the suffering and devastated people in Japan, Hawaii, the west coast - all over the world, really. My thoughts are wandering further and further afield, spinning across and away, to where I can no longer hold them in check. I can't help it. I think about families and children and communities and countries. Devastated. Obliterated.

I can't stop the gaping chasm in the pit of my stomach from growing every time I see the images.

My thoughts are with all of you.

And my heart aches for you today.

* * * * * * * *
More information to be added here as I learn of ways you can help and find out more:

The American Red Cross:
Text REDCROSS to 90999 on your mobile phone to donate $10 to the Red Cross for Japanese earthquake relief. More info here: 

For inquiries concerning American citizens living in Japan:
U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services at 1-888-407-4747 or 202 647-5225

For finding/disseminating information about those in Japan:
Google Person finder 2011 Japan Earthquake

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Too Much Of A Good Thing.

Okay. So lets say you have a wrap. A very rainbowy, happy wrap. And because I know you guys are SO tired of hearing about Inara's wrap, let's just call this one "Binara's Happy Stripey Brightly Colored Wrap". Or something.

Now let's say that you have this wrap, and you want it turned into a ring sling, because - why not? Ring slings are fun. Right? So you have the wrap sent to the most wonderful, talented ring sling maker, because hello - she's fantastic and everybody loves her. Even angry little trolls can't help but love her. But I digress.

Things should be going along swimmingly. But they're not, because in the midst of all this wonderful stripey happiness...all of a sudden, you have a problem. A big one. Because now you have to make a decision about the color of rings you want to go with this very special, very sentimental wrap.

And the problem is that there are just too many gorgeous options.


See what I mean? How's a girl to choose between all that...loveliness?

What color would YOU pick?

Indecisively yours,
p.s. - A lot of you wrote to me saying that you were bummed because you missed the pre-order for Binara's Happy Stripey Brightly Colored Wrap. Well, do I have news for you! Due to popular demand, the lovely Giselle has opened up a second pre-order for ONE WEEK ONLY. So go check it out if you want one of these babies for yourself. You guys are awesome for making our wrap so popular that it's going into production for a second time. If I had the money, I'd buy one for everyone!

Monday, March 7, 2011

The 2.5 Million Dollar Question.

A few months back, I wrote a two-part blog post about our Halloween adventures. In the first part of that post, I talked about going to the School of the Arts, or SOTA as us native Rochesterians like to call it. I took Inara to attend SOTA's annual Storybook and Spooky House, and the teachers and students went out of their way to ensure that we had a fantastic time (which we did).

This is the hallmark of SOTA, and schools like it in our city. There are a handful of specialized schools that work against all odds, in the roughest neighborhoods, to reach out to make ties with the community. They not only strengthen their students, but they go beyond - creating bonds that lift us up, and inspire us to achieve the very best that society has to offer. Just ask Taye Diggs, a graduate of SOTA.

SOTA has become a gold standard of education in our city, not just for its high-ranking graduation rates, but also for its outstanding arts programs. The arts are what personify SOTA and its students. They are what give these kids a voice with which they can be heard in the world. And it is such a testament to the hardworking teachers and students of this school that they are using their voices and incredible talents to draw attention to their fight.

Last week, our school district handed down what is effectively a death knell for arts education in the city of Rochester. Apparently responding (where responding means committing educational suicide) to state cuts in funding, the district has decided to go with a new funding formula that will see SOTA's Arts budget cut by 57%. FIFTY SEVEN PERCENT. That means 140 Arts classes, gone. 14 out of 24 Arts teachers, gone.

And that is just the tip of the iceberg for SOTA. The effects of the budget cuts are going to be far-reaching and absolutely devastating for the future of this top-ranked school that many view as the best our district has to offer, both in the arts and academically. So where will all that money (2.5 million in SOTA's case) go? Nobody really knows for sure.

Right now, my kids aren't old enough to go to SOTA. I have no vested interest in this school other than recognizing the fact that to lose it would mean the end of so many bright futures that have barely even begun. These kids deserve a chance to nurture all of their talents. For many of them, SOTA will be the only exposure to the arts that they will ever have.

SOTA's students don't take their gift for granted (as you can tell by that YouTube video - which was shot, composed, performed and edited by SOTA students, parents and teachers). They go on to succeed and to excel. They become lawyers and doctors and Ph.D. graduates. They work so hard to earn their spot at SOTA and to keep it. They come from all backgrounds, all nationalities, and all income levels. They are us, if we were twenty years younger and standing on the brink of infinite possibilities. I remember being that young once. I remember feeling as though the world had so much to offer, and that I could do anything I dreamed of, if I was given the chance to succeed. SOTA takes those dreams and turns them into reality, and I refuse to allow it to become yet another memory of a golden era when anything was possible.

Watching SOTA's Save Our School YouTube Video moved me more than just the words here can express. Partly because it's a horrible thing that is happening, but mostly because I was so impressed by the talent it took to put that video together. SOTA speaks for itself - and yet, we need more people to speak out for it's students. These kids are going to do such amazing things with their lives, if we don't stand in their way first. They are passionate, articulate, well-organized and more than a little pissed. And they shouldn't HAVE to be fighting like this. Their outrage should be shared by all of us, their beautiful voices echoed by ours - by the thousands.

Across the nation, this is a story that is playing out over and over. And it is not fair to our children for it to continue this way. It's not just about funding the arts. It's about the way we educate ALL of our kids, in a way that nurtures them and gives them the tools to take us into the future. These kids, our kids, SOTA's kids - they are the future.

Cutting from their education leaves us all bereft.

For More Information:
SOTA Save Our School Page on Facebook (Run by SOTA students. Rock on, guys.)
Rochester City School District Adequate School Funding Group on Facebook
SOTA in the local news
SOTA's Webpage
Flower City Parents Network Forum

Friday, March 4, 2011

During The Time It Took Me To Write This Post...

- I cleaned up countless rounds of puke.

- I did four loads of laundry.

- I wiped out the inside of the washing machine, scooping up bits of solid food waste. But hey, at least it was clean. And rinsed. Twice.

- I made breakfast and lunch for one child, and a different breakfast and lunch for the other (sick) child. MISTAKE.

- The well child didn't think it was fair that she had to eat veggies while the sick child got to eat toast. I am the most horrible and meanest mommy ever in the history of the universe, for wanting my children to eat produce. In fact, it was probably the lack of eating produce that got us into this mess in the first place. Which leads me to my next point:

- I got so angry that I actually yelled, "FINE. BUT DON'T COME RUNNING TO ME WHEN YOU GET SCURVY."

- And then I felt bad about saying that, so I made a third breakfast and lunch, and everyone was happy. Until there was more puke.

- I had a moment of zen calm, when we were sitting on the hardwood floor of our dining room, naked except for our underwear, because there wasn't a spare surface or item of clothing left in the entire house that hadn't been upchucked on.

- Or maybe I was just freezing my butt off.

- In any case, I realized that Yousuf will not be home until bedtime. He's working late.

- I wonder if how attractive he'll find me if I greet him at the door, in nothing but my unders.

- Covered in puke.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

This Is Not Good.

My external hard drive is dead. It passed away this morning, at approximately half past breakfast. The coroner's report (from El Cheapitan) includes the following:

- A recommendation to not abuse my computer gadgets, and to guard against others doing the same.
- A lesson in how to walk, chew gum, and not drop my hard drive at the same time.
- An official diagnosis of Death Under Suspicious Circumstances (possibly including Death At Hands Of An Almost Two Year-Old, who may or may not have used it as the world's tiniest stepping stool.)

ASIDE: Did you know that geeks are uber sexy? Especially when they are sitting across from you, frowning at the innards of a tiny hard drive, trying to recapture all the documentation and photographic evidence of your life. Then they are super sexy in a George Clooney/Dr. Ross recusitation in trauma 1 stat! kind of way. I'd take a picture to illustrate my point, but oh, wait - I have NOWHERE TO STORE IT.

This is not good. My poor hard drive is laying in front of me, stripped of its casing...and I think it's ticking? That's not a healthy sign, is it? And Yousuf is now rubbing his head, which he only does when he is thinking really hard about one of three things:

1. A problem that is really hard to fix.
2. How much money that problem is going to cost to fix.
3. Breaking the news to me that the problem can not be fixed.

I'm pacing the confines of my mental hospital waiting room, awaiting the news of my poor hard drive's demise. I can almost see the bad fluorescent lighting casting a pallid shade on my surroundings. And now I'm pretty sure that I can smell the stomach-turning mix of cleaning agents, wilting flowers and B.O.


This is not good. My sanity is now taking a nosedive along with my hard drive.

Please hold us in your thoughts. I'm not ready to lose my hard drive yet. We still had so much to do together. And I can't afford to lose the data that wasn't backed up...the thought is just unbearable to me. There were videos of Nissa singing and Inara talking to robotic dinosaurs. And pictures of the day we played hooky from preschool to go to the beach (just pretend you didn't read that last part, Inara's teacher!).

Come on, hard drive. Don't let go just yet! You still have more to give, I just know it! You can't leave me here like this, all pictureless and videoless and having to rely solely on my meagre writing skills. Which I'm doing a fabulously horrid job of showing off at the moment.

Thank you for your sympathies. Your condolences are appreciated, please send any donations to the Nonexistent Fund To Invent An Indestructible External Hard Drive. Why hasn't someone invented that yet? It's not like we're still living in the dark ages - you know, the times when computers were as big as houses and had little people living inside of them, Wizard of Oz-ing them to life. On second thought, I bet I would never have had this problem if there was a person living inside my hard drive instead of the fragile assortment of magnets and motors that is dying a slow, painful death (It's now gone from ticking to intermittent chugging. I think it may be drunk.)

Anyone know of a miniature Oompa Loompa looking for work?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Lovers, The Dreamers, And Me.

If you're even a little bit of a hippie-geek (like me!) then you might remember what song the title of this post is from. It's from "The Rainbow Connection", sung by that lovable muppet, Kermit E. Frog.

I know that's not his name. But when Inara was a little baby, she couldn't say "Kermit THE Frog", and she said it her own way instead. So in our house, Mr. Frog's full name has always been Kermit E. Frog.

Back on track!

So why am I going on about lovers and dreamers and rainbows and me? It's because I am in love with a kooky little girl:

Who dreams of rainbows (in her rainbow pajamas):

And she and I are SO excited about the rainbow that is named after her:



Giselle emailed me over the weekend to let me know that the wrap has made it's trek all the way from Germany, and she posted a few sneak peak pictures over at the Nurture Baby Naturally Facebook page. She is hoping to take some action shots soon, and when I get them I will post them here for all of us to oogle at. For now, here is a little tease to whet your rainbow-y appetites:

Inara's Rainbow is on the bottom, the other wrap is another exclusive wrap called Felice. 
Don't they look gorgeous together?

I can't tell you how happy these two pictures have made me. I've been walking around with a goofy grin on my face for two whole days! Giselle has such a gift for turning dreams into reality, and I could not be happier with the way Inara's Rainbow has turned out. As soon as I saw the pictures I had to do the uber-geeky comparison thing to compare it to the original fabric. You can tell from this close-up (including Baby Doll's hand) just how closely the wrap mirrors the original, but in a more muted, sophisticated way. I think it's going to be stunning when seen in real life:

I adore that red weft!

I think I'm in love. And for all you fellow rainbow lovers and dreamers (and me), we won't have too much longer to wait before we get to hold a piece of Inara's rainbow in our hands. Giselle and family will be shipping out the pre-ordered wraps this week. And for those of you who didn't get a chance to pre-order, there are still opportunities for you to share in this amazing story of ours...but you will have to have to be vigilant! More details:

- Giselle said that there may be extras of Inara's Rainbow available for purchase through her online store Piece of Cloth. You will want to keep an eye on that site after midweek, as well as stay tuned to her Nurture Baby Naturally Facebook page for up-to-the-minute details on when those few wraps will be made available for purchase.

- If you aren't babywearing, or don't want a whole wrap, you might want to check out my friend Suzi's Etsy store, Starbright Baby. She did a preorder for the insanely popular (Seriously. I had no idea how fast these would sell out!) Inara's Rainbow teething giraffes and hobo bags. She will be opening up a very limited number of slots for those items once she meets all her stay tuned to her Etsy store and the Starbright Baby Facebook page for news about that too.

- And also, you may want to keep your eye on my little bloggy too for another chance to own a piece of Inara's Rainbow. Just sayin'.

I hope you will be able to share the gift of wearing your babies close to your hearts the way I have been so lucky to do. Babywearing is a natural extension of my parenting, and it has been such a joy to wear my babies (Yousuf and I actually wore the girls just last night while we were cleaning up after dinner. They're both sick and really needed to be cuddled, and we were able to get things done around the house at the same time. Bonus!).

The symbol of a rainbow, and all it represents for us - hope, joy, the promise of a brighter tomorrows and endless possibilities - are all things that I want to share with all of you, through Inara's Rainbow. And no, I'm not being compensated in any way for saying any of these crazy things (other than the wrap that Giselle has kindly gifted to us). I just really feel that excited, and full of gratitude, to be sharing this with you.

So, are you excited now that you've seen the pictures of Inara's Rainbow? I am beyond thrilled. I'm cooking up plans to turn my wrap into something else...perhaps a Mei Tai or a ring sling (I'm a bit wrap challenged, so I prefer to use wraps in other ways). Do you think an Inara's Rainbow ring sling would be at all appealing? I think it could be really pretty. I've been out of the ring sling loop for a little while - and would love to know what ring sling shoulder style (and company name if you have a favorite) YOU like the most. I'm always up for trying something new!
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