Monday, August 29, 2011

Mama's Night Out

I am a FIRM believer that a happy Mama makes happy kids.  There is no way I can be responsible for & nice to my kids when I'm stressed or grumpy due to lack of food, sleep or most importantly "Mama Time".  On most days, at most hours if you asked me what I want to be doing, I could truthfully answer that I want to be with my girls.  I love being a Mama and taking care of the family and doing things that make the girls happy.  As cheesy at it may sound, I enjoy hanging out at the park, being at disneyland, taking my girls to their various afterschool classes and yes (gasp!) even being forced to watch Justin Bieber's Never Say Never for the 25th time.  My family is honestly fun to be around and are genuinely my favorite people on earth.  BUT! Mama needs some Mama Time.  Some "nobody screaming or crying or fighting or whining or needing help or guidance or punishment" time.  Being glued to my kids 24/7 does not make me a better Mama, because I can't be a good Mama without being a good person first.
My favorite kind of Mama Time is when I get to go out with my girls.  Not my baby girls but my grown up girl-friends.  I happen to be blessed with some of the most amazing, inspirational, powerful, beautiful and hilarious girl-friends, most of who I have grown up with and known since we were in middle/high school.  With all the weight & responsibilities of being Mama there are times when Mama just needs a smoke, a drink and some serious shit talking!  It's just a little break, usually taken when the girls are asleep and always when they are being cared for by their Papa or Amas (grandma's) and woo-wee they sure do help me keep my mind right!  These nights help me to stay in touch with the parts of my identity that are not connected to my kids (yes there are some left) and remind me that I am an actual person not just a Mama.  It is a time where I can wear the cute clothes & shoes that are too dangerous or inappropriate to wear during my daily Mama duties, eat food I shouldn't be eating, say things I shouldn't be saying and basically enjoy not having little eyes observing, absorbing & learning from my every move.  We can't be perfect all of the time right???

In the spirit of what I like to call getting my "Grown & Sexy" on, the other night I got to go to the John Legend & Sade concert in San Jose with my BFFs Mia and Bernie.  The SADE, yes her, along with The John Legend, my favorite love-songer ever!

Thanks to my amazingly talented BFFs I got to get my nails done ( all dressed up in a new outfit ( and even get my make up done!
As if looking good while hanging out with my 2 favorite girls above the age of 25 wasn't enough, we got amazing seats to see 2 of the most awe-inspiring musicians of my generation sing to us all night.  John Legend was a dream come true.  He rocked out to all his best songs (including our wedding "first dance" song: Slow Dance) and did his job of reminding me why I am so in love with my hubby.

And then came Sade.  Homegirl Put-It-Down!  She came out to that knock-you-on-your-butt beat of Soldier of Love and basically was a "Gangsta of Love" for the rest of the night.  She did her job of reminding me why I am so in love with everything in the entire world.

It was a night for the history books, one that will be talked about and pictures looked when we are old ladies in our wheelchairs.  It was worth every penny (and there were definitely lots of pennies involved in a night like this) and every lost hour of sleep (Mama is hurting today since there in no calling in sick from Justice, Chuli & especially Rio) because it will keep me smiling through the next week or two as I clean, cook, break up fights and try to make a dollar out of 15 cents.  And one day I hope to be able to take Justice, Chuli & Rio to see John Legend & Sade live and have them fully appreciate the power and love of the experience 

It was an amazing time for sure but Justice hit it on the nail the next morning when she said "I'm glad our real mama is back, instead of that fancy lady".  Truthfully Justice, I'm glad she's back least until the next time my sanity needs saving and I put back on my disguise of red lipstick and heels and escape back into the night...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

B-Weezy & The Biebs

Today both Justice & Chuli wore their favorite shirts, which each earned the coveted spot as the "favorite shirt" because of their connection to their respective role-models/heros/favorite person.

For Justice that person is Brian "B-Weezy" Wilson.  Mr. Fear The Beard himself.  The Champion, All-Star closing pitcher for the SF Giants and all around Gangsta.  While watching an episode of The Franchise, Justice spied Mr. Wilson wearing this little number and was on a hunt to find one for herself: She even cut of the sleeves just like Brian Wilson did, although I think his arms might be just a tad bigger than hers..

For Chuli, her heart belongs entirely to Justin Bieber.  Yes, I know its not too original of her, as she is competing with about 10,0000 other little girls for the attention of the Biebs but for reasons all her own (since no one else in this family wants anything to do with him) she is completely head over heels in love.  Being the good little "Beliber" that she is, she of course has seen his movie "Never Say Never", both in the theaters and on her own personal copy of the DVD, too many times to count.  Due to the many (and I do mean many!) times she has watched the movie, when we waked into the store she immediately saw this checkered. collared, button up and remembered the 2.3 seconds where J.B. talks about the fact that his bodyguard "Kenny" (yes she remembers his name) has got him wearing short sleeved, collared, button up shirts.  So of course she had to buy this one: This shirt is now known as the "Justin Bieber Shirt" and is in permanent rotation

So, you can't get much different than Justin Bieber and Brian Wilson and about the only thing these guys have in common is that they inspire the fashion choices of 2 little girls in San Francisco. 
  The appeal of these 2 guys to my daughters is a reflection of my girls' own personalities and I will commit to nurturing those personalities by buying them the shirts that make them feel good because Mama likes that my girls have interests & loves that are uniquely their own.
And it doesn't hurt that they both look so freaking adorable!

Monday, August 15, 2011

First Day of School

Today was the first day of school for the SFUSD.  For our family that means that Justice starts 5th grade, Chuli starts Kinder (yay!) and Papa goes back to work with his high schoolers.  Obviously there are a lot of emotions that arise on a first day of school especially since it is Chuli's very first day ever in "real school".  Now, I have had to do this whole 1st day of kinder once before and have since had loads (5 years) of practice with the first day of school thanks to Justice and the fact that I still have one squishy baby at home with me whose favorite place on earth is still in my arms, so I will admit that it's probably not as emotional for me as it is for first time parents.  But it is still a milestone and definitely a day for reflections.
It is always a little scary for me to witness the transition my girls make from the warm fuzzy, protective, nurturing bubble that is their amazing Pre-School (Buen Dia Family School) to the mean, institutional, spirit crushing CA public school system but, for me the pride I have in my girls helps sqaush all the fear.  Not just the basic pride mama's get when their kids grow up and become more independent but for me there is another special pride for the fact that my girls are diving head first into the CA Public education system and being the Tough Little Cookies they are, they are going to come out better on the other end.
My girls are city kids, to the core, just like their mama and papa were, and there are certain things that whether we like it or not, come with being a city kid and never is that more apparent then in our schools.  My girls are going to have to experience  over-worked, stressed out teachers, old buildings that are at times falling apart, there won't be enough paper and pencils for them, they will get about 1 hour a week of art instruction and maybe some PE (if they are lucky) and they will grow up thinking police inside of schools is a normal thing.  Yes, it sucks and you may be asking why I would ever allow my precious babies to experience such a thing.  My answer to that is 2 part:

1.) I am a product of the SFUSD (minus the one year spent at an all girls catholic school which my mom's thought would help re-introduce me to the wonders of academics) and the bottom line is that I turned out pretty good.  My knowledge of geography and world history might be lacking but I can safely say that I am (as are most of my peers) a positive, intelligent member of society who on some level, makes our world a better place.  I would argue that the not-so-nice parts of going to a public school were what helped me become this positive, productive member of society.  I remember making the decision to become a classroom teacher because of all crappy teachers I had as a student and wanting something better for our own children.  And there is no better way to learn about capitalism, racism, classism, imperialism and colonialism then spending a few years in a public school classroom.  I probably wouldn't care nearly as much about changing the world or being a good person (and raising my girls to be good people who change the world) if I wasn't exposed first hand to all the things that need fixing in this world.  Additionally, being surrounded by teachers, staff, families and students who were working their butts off to make lemon-aid out of half a rotting old lemon was nothing short of immensely inspiring and motivating.  I know that as SFUSD students, my girls will go out into life with their eyes WIDE open about the state of our world and (if I do my job right) a fire in their bellies to do something about it.

2.) The reality is, any conversation about our public schools is filled with complaints, whining and sad stories but although there is much to complain, whine and be sad about in our schools, I believe there is just as much to appreciate, celebrate and smile about.  Shoot, our school's motto is "La Escuela Mas Chevere" so there must be some celebrating going on, right?
What about the fact that I just dropped my 2 daughters off at a school and a building that I attended as a child? And that at that school, there is a security guard who watched over me when I was a knuckle-headed middle schooler, and is now looking over my own babies! Where else but in the SFUSD could you find that? And there are countless examples of that sense of community, from the school secretary who worked with Papa at summer school this year, to the Kindergarten teacher whose daughter dances with us in Carnaval every year, the vice-principal who taught with our Nono (grandpa),  the support staff who I tutored/mentored, the afterschool program run by the same woman who was in charge when I went there, the 5th grade teacher whose son takes capoeira with Chuli, etc, etc, need I go on???  The fact is my girls are going to be taken care of.  There will be eyes watching their every move who have Mama's and Papa's cell phone number on speed dial and can post on my FB wall about their activities.  While the "making sure my kids are not up to no good" factor is great, the benefit of having a real life connection with the teachers, staff & families that are in charge of my girls education, is a much deeper one.  That is a true definition of COMMUNITY.  We all know it takes a village but it is truly a beautiful thing to see it in action.

And how about the amazing diversity of our public schools? Yea, yea I am fully aware about the state of diversity in San Francisco but compared to most of the world my girl's classrooms are still on the forefront.  My girls will grow up with kids of all different colors, languages, families, $, countries and sexualities.  They will never be able to draw a picture of what a San Franciscan looks like because there is no one image that could represent all of the folks they know.  They will be able to travel the world without fear of things or people being different then they are and they will learn to seek out and celebrate new and unfamiliar things.

Besides all of the big, important life lessons, my girls will also get the simple pleasures that come from being an SFUSD student.  Such as:  they will be damn good kick ball players, they will enjoy many a paleta afterschool, they will have a blast in the back of a laidlaw bus, they will get to WALK to school everyday, they will have classmates that have been at the same school with them from pre-school to college, they will get school holidays to celebrate MLK, Indigenous people and Cesar Chavez (not to mention the extra 4 furlough days, wink wink), they will fall asleep at a boring symphony concert or ballet performance, there will be more afterschool programs for them then they know what to do with, they will dance in the Carnaval parade and lastly they will have earned the street-cred that comes with surviving the SFUSD!

Today is an exciting day for sure.  My babies are growing up and will have new challenges to overcome this year but they will also discover new talents and powers and become even more amazing human beings.
They will be fine, they will be fine, they will be fine....and in the meantime I will just hug Rio a little longer today

Besides the emotional, spiritual, intellectual parts of the first day of school, it is always important for my girls to look good!
 Chuli is rocking her new outfit from H&M kids (my favorite store for kids clothes!!!)

Justice picked out a polka dot skirt (I can hardly believe it, a skirt???) with a super cute black vest over a favorite t-shirt and her silver chucks