Monday, July 31, 2006


I have some friends who are cousins and they greet one another that yelling Cousin! This description would be better if I could reproduce their Jersey twang in writing, but I will leave that to your imagination.

I like the way that those cousins look after one another and with that idea in mind, I've got some photos of JT and his cousins here. Yesterday, because the temps had finally gone below 100 degrees, JT and Spencer went to the park to play a little baseball, 6 year old style. And this morning JT and Cole went to another park to play for a while before hitting the cool pool.

The boys are having a great time with one another and the fun continues tomorrow when we head down to So Cal for some cousin time at Disneyland.

A Movie and Some Stars

On Saturday night, Kristin and Marty's friends D and J invited a group of friends over to watch movies outside under the stars. JT and I got to tag along and enjoy the California-style fun.

It was a perfect evening for sitting outside. JT was excited to share the cupcakes his Grandma had made and Grandpa made popcorn. M brought an enormous apple pie. And while the kids lay on blankets, the grown ups sat in the deck chairs. As twilight settled in, we all watched Nanny McPhee.

From my chair, I could see my son happily lying about with the other kids and I also could watch the moon sink into the horizon as the big dipper and other stars filled the sky.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Just Me and the Boys

After Sunday lunch, JT, Spence and I set off for some afternoon fun. I had the keys to Dad's car and a lot of free time. This was all eerily reminiscent of my high school days....though Dad would have never given me the car keys to hang out with two boys (poor Dad had no idea that hanging with the girls was what I really wanted to do....but I digress).

I decided to show the boys some of the houses that Aunty Kristin and I lived in when we were little girls. So we turned up the rock & roll and set off on our mini-adventure to see where we lived when I was in elementary school.

The boys are tickled by the idea that their moms were once little kids who walked to the bus stop and attended kindergarten and 4th grade. And I was amazed at how much smaller those neighborhoods seem now.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Good Housekeeping Mama Style

My mom has had a subscription to Good Housekeeping magazine as long as I can remember. And since I was a total misfit child, I've been reading it nearly that long. So basically from the 4th grade onward I was reading articles with titles like, "My Problem Enjoying Sex with My Husband and How I Solved It," "Keeping Your Bathroom Clean Enough to Eat Off the Floor," or "100 Ways to Cook Chicken." I know that my mom knew I was reading the magazine but she never stopped me and so throughout my childhood and adolescence, it provided an education (of sorts). Once I moved out, I would read the back issues when I came home to visit the folks. By then, I was mostly bemused by the magazine.

Of course, thanks to years of reading Good Housekeeping, I would have been perfectly trained to be a successful suburban mom. I could have been the happy wife of some lucky man whose wife knew how to cook chicken, enjoy sex, and scrub the bathroom with equal ferocity and skill devoted to all tasks.

Alas, I took those feminist philosophy classes in college, engaged in a bit of self-exploration and realized that heterosexual wifehood was not exactly for me. So here I am a single mom and gay girl with an unusual skill set......and since I'm here in California visiting mom and dad, I have been exploring the back issues of Good Housekeeping.

Now it makes me laugh, because the magazine is so far out of the circumference of my life these days. But some of the recipes for the grill look good and I did get some handy tips for cleaning my wood floors, so I guess my time hasn't been entirely wasted.

Perhaps one day I will start writing a Good Housekeeping for Lesbians.......with article titles like "Keeping Your Flannel Shirts Like New" and "How to End Your Addiction to Dyke Drama." It ought to attract a huge following.

A Different Flotation Device

I am discovering that just like riding a bike, swimming feels as good and freeing as it did when I was a kid. Something about jumping in the water and gliding through the pool makes me feel like I am 10 again, with the world at my toes. The cool, wet water flows smoothly around me and I just feel like I can do anything.

But just in case I forget who I am there is my son, swimming alongside me and announcing that my breasts look like a handy flotation device.

Thanks kid.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Oh Cabana Girl

We played in Aunty Kristin's pool this morning and then when the boys claimed they were starving, Aunty K said she would handle lunch duty. The kids trooped inside for a feeding. Grandma and I got back into the now quiet pool, laid under the umbrella in the chairs and started to read our books. Ahhhh, the luxury.

10 minutes later, KO was back outside, taking our lunch order. Excellent. And then she delivered tasty BLT sandwiches (with fresh-picked tomatoes and the bread toasted just right) and icy cold water right to the pool. We sat in the pool and ate and read (a perfect storm for a McMillen woman).

Thanks to Aunty KO, I think that I am getting the hang of this whole vacation thing.

Pop! Went the Tire

Wednesday afternoon, we were headed to Philly on I-95 when I heard a loud pop (and you just know that is bad news)....within seconds I felt the car pull to the right. My rear passenger tire had gone flat. I pulled to the side of the interstate and went into independent mama mode and called Triple A. It was 3:01, still plenty of time to make our 6:25 flight. With Triple A promising to rescue me, I called my friend A and then my friend T, just in case back-up was required.

Good thing I did that because an hour later, Triple A still hadn't found me and had told me to call 9-1-1.....because if the trooper could find me, then Triple A would follow. Let me just say right now, that I was on I-95, in a silver SUV, on the side of the road and in full view of God and everyone. It wasn't exactly back-country.

I saw the trooper at the same time that a very nice man in a Suburban hopped out and strode to my car wearing Army fatigues and obviously ready to rescue me. Army dude and the PA trooper agreed that the trooper would change my tire. And then A and M pulled up with a plan. M would wait with the trooper while he changed the tire. JT and I would get in the car with A, who would take us to the airport, in plenty of time for our flight. And T, who can drive a stick shift, would bat clean-up, picking up M and driving may car back to A & M's house. These women had a plan and they weren't afraid to use it. That was good because by then I just wanted to be told what to do.

A got us to the airport in plenty of time and from the gate I called to thank my rescue angels. A and M were as gracious as always. T informed me that it was no big deal, and in fact, she already had my car at Goodyear to repair the tire.

Honestly, I was speechless. This summer has been my summer to need help from my friends and time after time they have delivered, with grace, good humor, and terrific kindness. This time, they saved the vacation.

And I didn't even cry!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

California Bound

No doubt my father will wonder why I need so much luggage.......hopefully, he will understand that one of these bags was needed for the transport of JT's toys. We've got plenty of pirates and Power Rangers and we are ready to rumble.

We're off to the Golden State today, excited to see grandma, grandpa, Aunty K and Uncle M and, of course, Cole and Spencer. JT plans days of playing and swimming. Mama plans to hang out and just be and to keep feeling better about our new life. And, of course, there's Bobby Salazar's Mexican food and In–n-Out Burger....not to mention our plans to visit Disneyland. So all in all, we're pretty excited this afternoon and that is a very good thing.

I'll be posting from California so as my friend S would say: stay tuned. And keep the good karma flowing our way.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Why My People Love Uncle M

I called my sister's house this morning, seeking good humor and advice. But KO was gone and her husband, JT's Uncle M, drew the short stick on that deal. He listened and gave me calm, sensible advice.

Then, when I said I was sorry for getting tearful so early in his morning, he offered that yesterday morning at 7 am his dog had diarrhea all over the bedroom. All things considered, he said, a tearful sister-in-law at 7 am is actually an improvement in his week.

Seen that way, I had to agree.

Monday, July 24, 2006

My Mamafesto

A few years ago, a friend gave me a book called Mothers Who Think and in the past week I've been reading some of my favorite essays from the book. It's summer and I'm alone now and so I've had plenty of time to think about being a mother, and what that means to me.

When he was very little, JT used to call us "the mommy guys" and it always made me smile. It was if he understood that we were a parenting unit, a team. One of the best things about sharing JT with Lisa was the pride that we jointly took in our boy. He was often funny, and we were proud of that and loved to share those stories. We were proud when he mastered a new skill. I still remember the smile we exchanged when he read his first word. I was always most proud when he was kind-hearted.

There is no sharing now, of course. I think that Lisa might welcome it if I shared stories about JT with her, but I don't. I can't right now because it just hurts too much to try and share my son with someone who so clearly wanted out of our family, with someone who left. Somehow, it would feel like I was seeking her out, seeking her solace. But having caused the pain he and I feel, she's not the person who can help us heal. So I share the stories with my family and friends, I share them here in the blog, and I keep them in my journal.

I know that he feels hurt by her absence, but I don't know what to tell him. Usually I say that Mommy's heart wasn't happy and that she moved to a new place to help her heart to be happy. It feels like such an inadequate explanation. The other day, we were talking about his family, and how he thinks about us. JT practices doing this, though he has only told one person that his Mommy has gone. He guards that fact so carefully.

It was the first time he had articulated to me just what has happened to him. "I live with my Mama," he said, and then he paused and added, "but my dog Sam lives with my Mommy. They left us." I felt like the air had been sucked out of my lungs when he said this. But I didn't cry, I just said what I have always told him, "Mama and Mommy love you very much."

In that moment, it was suddenly clear to me what it means to be a mother. It means that you are a steady presence in your child's life, there for the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, to share the triumphs and ease the pain. Being a mother happens in daily events of life built by and shared with one another. That's what it means to me anyway. And each morning when I see his first sleepy smile of the day I think to myself, I wouldn't trade the job for anything in the world. So that's what I know about being a mama: each and every day, I will savor his smile and love my boy with all my heart.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Chivalry is Not Dead

On Saturday night, JT and I went out to supper with our friend W and his daughter, A. During the course of the meal, A lost one of the tiny princess toys that she had acquired just that day. Her papa looked for it, but determined Belle was stuck behind the booth. We told A that she was gone for good.

But the little gentleman would hear none of it and within seconds JT was under the table, sticking his hand under the booth to find the toy. "I can see it," he announced, "where is a flashlight?"

The discovery that neither W nor I had brought a flashlight did not deter our prince and with the able assistance of A, he used a fork and a straw and the fork again to rescue the tiny toy. He emerged from under the table flush with success and then I took this photo to mark the accomplishment.

My young man was quite the gentleman, saving A from Saturday night heartbreak. And as A's smiling dimple illustrates, my boy knows how to charm the ladies.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Mean, Mean, Mama

Captain Fun showed up at noon today for her weekly visit with JT. And I was pleased to see that the dermatitus that sometimes afflicted her left eyelid has now inflamed her right eyelid as well. She looked awful --- red-eyed and itchy. And I didn't even feel bad. If anything, I was mildly amused. It must cost her some serious pride points to show up at my house looking like death on a cracker.

I wish I had a photo to share, but it just seemed in bad taste to ask to make her picture.

I am mean, but I'm not usually tacky.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Wave on Wave

After a terrific vacation that gave me an opportunity to rest, read, think and have fun, I came home with some real optimism in my heart. I had decided that though people warned me to expect that some days would still be hard, I would defy the odds. The worst was over, I told myself. In one respect, I was right; my every moment is not filled with thoughts of what Lisa has done. I don't feel that aching, overwhelming pain all of the time.

But the laws of human relations do still apply to me, much as I wish that they did not and by the middle of the week, my optimism was reigned in by the sadness of my family breaking up. I still don't understand why Lisa left and I think that I never will. Before I go to bed each night, I check on my sleeping son and I wonder how anyone could give that up. I would do anything to protect my boy, I would go to any length to keep him from hurting.

But as hard as I tried, I could not protect him from having his family break apart. We used to have a family hug, with Lisa and me on either side and JT in the middle singing, "Mama is the bread, and Mommy is the bread, and JT is the......tuna." We would make icky faces and then kiss him all over. Then we'd laugh and do it again.

A few days ago, JT asked me if he and I could still do that hug. Since then, I keep racking my brain trying to remember the last time we did that hug as a threesome. It was probably sometime in May but I can't remember. I don't know why I want to remember it but I do. Every time we hugged like that, we'd laugh and smile and I would think how lucky I was to have this family, these people I loved so much. At that moment, I wanted nothing more from life.

How could I have known that the joy of loving one another would be so fleeting? How will I ever put away these waves of sadness that almost overwhelm me? How will I ever learn to love another person without fearing this pain again? Why must it hurt so much?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Ben Franklin Did Not Have My Back

I'm taking a break from the vacation journals tonight to discuss the way that Ben Franklin and his magical electricity let me down in the past 24 hours. I was in Hamilton last night, enjoying the company of my friends A & M(and forcing them to admire my new haircut) when a terrific electrical storm hit. It came with plenty of wind, thunder and lightening; enough to make me delay the trip back home for an extra 45 minutes.

By the time JT and I hit the road to come north, it seemed like the worst was over. But then I arrived in Piscataway and then Dunellen to discover that there was no electricity. Streetlights and signals were out and the night was inky black. Block after block there was no electricity, including my street.

I found a flashlight when JT and I got inside and I read to him by that pale light (it was a brief flashback to last week's camping trip) and then I tucked myself in bed with my flashlight and my cell phone. I was talking to a friend – and enjoying the conversation – when I realized that my phone was nearly dead. What about the home phone, you're saying to yourself.....but my home line is linked to the computer line which doesn't function without electricity so there was no joy there. I reluctantly ended the phone conversation and turned out my flashlight. Bedtime for me.

At 3 am I was suddenly awakened by the sound of all the electrical appliances in my house snapping to life. The a/c, the fridge, the lights over my bed: all of them at once. Nice. So now my heart is racing (and not for any good reason, thank you very much).

Come the morning I got to re-set all of the clocks (except for the radio in the kitchen, which defies me daily by flashing the wrong time). But my electrical troubles were not over.....10 minutes into the sweating, the timer and magical 'calories burned' counter on the eliptical trainer suddenly demanded new batteries. So I stopped the workout and found the batteries. I finished the workout and with just 2 minutes to go before the cool down period, my ipod chose to die. Yeah, that's right, just when I needed some fast paced song to help me out, yet another appliance let me down. The last 14 minutes of the workout were completed in an eerie quiet, while the ipod quietly re-charged itself.

The world of electricity was kinder to me in the afternoon but I remain leery. So let me just note for the record that I have a newfound respect for the many conveniences of electricity.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Vacation Journal --- Day 4

Tuesday, July 11
JT and I got up early this morning and we headed out for a bike ride along the North Highland bike trail. We heard lots of birds, saw plenty of bunnies, and even saw a deer as we rode. We stopped to see the place where the Pilgrims first found water in the New World. JT is interested in history (which is enormously gratifying to his history teacher Mama) but he takes a 6-year-old's approach and he always wants to know who was good and who was bad, who was right and who was wrong. His most enduring trait is to assume that people will be a good and kind to one another (even as he finds this a challenge in his own human relations!).

So his first question when he saw the spring was to ask if the Pilgrims shared their water with the Indians. He knows all about the story of the first Thanksgiving and in his innocence, he assumes the story is true. I hate to shatter his illusions but, at the same time, it's not really fair to allow him to think that the world is one where Indians have had an easy time.

We got back on the bike and I tried to navigate JT through early-American history and the sometimes harsh realities for the native tribes who lived here. He asked a lot of questions and I did my best to provide the answers. As a mama who daily instructs her child to treat others as he would wish to be treated, it's sometimes hard to explain why other people don't abide by this rule.

As we rode back to the campsite for some breakfast and to prepare for the planned water fight with our camping neighbors, I realized what he and I must do every day. We have to take on the world and its many uncertainties as best as we can. We have to try to understand what's gone wrong and how we can make it better. And above all we must be guided by the Golden Rule.

Our morning discussion reminded me again that it's not always easy to do the right thing.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Update: the Package

When Lisa first left I wrote that I felt like I was carrying around this horrible large package that I didn't want but couldn't get rid of. But in the last two weeks, the package has shrunk. It doesn't even feel like I am carrying it all the time.

My heart is lighter and my spirits are good. And that package is looking more and more like a tiny speck that I'll be putting in the closet one day soon, a piece of my past but not part of my future.

That is such sweet relief.

Vacation Journal --- Day 3

Monday, July 10
T's sister C came to visit today and she brought bubble toys for the boys, which were a terrific hit. Bubbles flew about the campsite amid smiles and plenty of laughter. But by the middle of the day, D and JT were feeling fractious toward one another so Mama and her boy headed into Provincetown to check out the sites and hang out.

P'town is a fun mix of crazy gay things --- how many tea dances does one town need? - and young families hanging out, with great shops. It's like a very gay Westwood. We had some ice cream (chocolate for the boy, lemon sorbet for Mama) and JT was exceptionally patient as Mama walked through the many garden and flip-flop stores. He was even kind as I looked at one antique store.

And it must be noted that any town that has more than one flip-flop store is a town I can really grow to like.

In the evening we all went to supper together. Finally, after weeks and weeks of not being able to eat much food, my appetite is back. Maybe that's also because for more than two weeks now my first thought in the morning isn't that my life has fallen apart. I'm really feeling like myself again, and that is such a good thing.

In fact, my life felt pretty good today. My lingering concern is that JT is awfully angry in a way that I've never seen before. It's an anger that overwhelms him and always results in tears afterward. I held him last night after he got angry with D and I could just feel his heart beating fast and angry as I whispered over and over in his ear, "it's going to be okay, sweet boy, it's going to be okay." I could feel him relax in my arms afterward, but I still worry.

I know that my job is to make him safe and with each day I grow more confident that I am up to the challenge.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Vacation Journal --- Day 2

Sunday, July 9
After breakfast this morning we headed off to Provincetown to get our bikes: Shelley ordered up two tag-a-long bikes for the boys to ride behind their moms while we explore Cape Cod. Within a few minutes, Terri and I were off, riding back through P'town on the 6A highway, to meet up with Shelley and the car at the beach. Shelley watched us carefully, bringing a water bottle at one point in the journey. It was a nice 2 mile ride and it felt good.

We hung out at the beach for several hours as the tide went out and sandbars magically appeared. The boys played and ran and ran and ran some more. We sat under the umbrella and enjoyed our picnic and some grown-up hanging out.

Then we rode back to the campsite ---- a longer ride this time, about 4 miles. JT climbed on the back of my bike and off we rode, across the highway and onto the North Highland bike trail. The ride was terrific and I felt so strong, so powerful, so very much like I could go-it-alone. Damnit, I was going it alone. Of course, this is all happening with the safety net of the R-K family. But the reality of my new life is that I will need to ask my friends to help out without feeling like that makes me weak. I know that I will learn to do this.

By the time the ride was over, I felt as good as Lance Armstrong (though my thighs suggest that I am no Lance Armstrong). My boy and I are a terrific team and we were having a great vacation. And with every day that I passes I grow more confident that we will also have a happy life.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Vacation Journal --- Day 1

Saturday, July 8

We left Niantic, CT to head out to Cape Cod around 11:30 am and we made great time. The boys watched a movie in the Mama-car for part of the journey (their last movie for a week!). We stopped along the way for a stretch the legs break and the boys jumped right into the game. That's the two of them "walking the plank" along a bike trail. We arrived at the campsite by 3:30 pm and it was perfectly beautiful.

When I originally started to plan this vacation, Lisa and I were still a couple. But the funny thing is that I knew all along that she would never come with us. She'd have an excuse, probably related to work, but I was determined to go camping with or without her. Turns out that we are without her and yet as the journey began it didn't really bother me.

When she walked out in June, I told Shelley and Terri that JT and I were still going camping. And to be honest, a big part of that was just to prove to Lisa that I could do it. But the funny thing about this vacation is that it quickly went from being a chance to prove to Lisa how strong I could be to being an opportunity to prove to me just how strong I am.

I put up my own tent on Saturday and that was just the beginning.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Thinking About the Future

Something about heading off for a vacation on our own, and feeling more independent and powerful than I have in years, has me thinking about my future.

It's not really just my future, it's our future, me and JT. I want him to grow up well-loved, of course. But I also don't want him to worry about me, which he has done a lot of lately. I catch him looking at me, worried that I am sad, or worried that I might cry about something. He wants to take care of me. For now, I think that's okay, especially as we adjust to all the changes in our world. And it warms my heart to see that he is capable of compassion and kindness, that he feels the need to care for the people in his world.

But I don't want him to worry about me forever. I want him to grow up sure that his Mama is happy and satisfied with her life. Ideally, I want to love and be loved again by a partner, so that JT lives in a home where he can learn how grown-ups navigate a happy relationship. I want him to see how a successful partnership nurtures a family.

So that's the future. This week, he'll be with his Mama and the R-K family and we are already having fun, laughing and joking, and enjoying one another's company. And he is seeing up-close just how well loved he is.

3 moms....2 boys.....1 hotel room

Actually, but for the fact that the boys climbed in their sleeping bags at bedtime, only to emerge hot and sweaty one hour wasn't a bad evening. We took them to a park to run off some energy after supper last night, but there seems to be plenty of energy to spare.

This morning they have turned the microwave into a castle for the Power Rangers and they've had a good time jumping on the beds.

Time to take these children to the great outdoors!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Packing Up and Moving Out

JT and I have been collecting our camping supplies all week long and tonight we began to load the car. The tent, the sleeping bags, the ice chest, and the picnic basket with camp cooking supplies are all on board. We've got some toys, of course, and the swimsuits as well. Mama has a big bag of books to read.

We are planning this trip with the R-K family, who have been part of our family's support network in this last month. Planning the trip has helped us to look forward to the many joys and happiness that life brings. And we will probably be too excited tonight to sleep.

We can get phone messages at the campground (the R-K family says that these messages are posted at a central message board --- sounds like fun). The phone number at camp is 508-487-1191. The camp office is open for most of the day (with meal breaks from 12-1 pm and 6-7 pm). Via the mail (get those postcards to the postman straight-away):

Riendeau-Krause/McMillen campers
c/o North of Highland Campground
52 head of meadow Road
PO Box 297
North Truro, MA 02652

You can check out photos of the campground over at my friend Shelley's blog:

I will post loads of photos when I get back. In the meantime, we're counting on your good karma (and ours) to bring us sunny days on our big trip.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Power and Independence in my Pocket

JT and I ran errands today and now I have a new cell phone. Not going to post the number for all of the world to call but it is a Jersey number.....and wow, taking that step makes me feel so independent, so powerful. I've had a cell phone for years but this is the first I've gotten myself. Loving this feeling and wishing I had the new phone before today.

Cheese Bread

I took a break from my vacation preparations to make lunch this afternoon. It's a dreary rainy day here and so I was looking for some comfort food. Then I remembered cheese bread, which I haven't made for years. Perfect with a salad for me. And JT has found another new food that he likes.


Shut Down

The non-essential government services here in New Jersey have been shut down for a fifth day while the governor and the state legislature wrangle over the state's budget. No one in the legislature wants to admit it, but New Jersey has been on a bit of a spending spree in the last few years, and the time has come to get the state's financial house in order.

The bottom line with the new budget that Governor Corzine proposed is that sales tax will go from 6% to 7%, though it still won't apply to food or clothing. We won't get any property tax relief, which is a pain because property taxes here are pretty high. But for now, while the government staring contest continues, the casinos and state lottery have been shut down and people seem annoyed.

I think of all of this as so much grand-standing, so I am amused. And, if the truth be told, I think that the Governor is trying to do right by the state. I figured that the legislature would cave last night so I am surprised that the fracas continues this morning. Now I wonder if the Governor may start making concessions to the legislature.

I mostly view state politics as a fly in the room ----- you gotta pay attention, but it isn't the really big deal of life. But this week, NJ has stepped up and I'm interested.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Independence Day

My neighbors shut off the street for a 4th of July party every year. This is my second year at the party, but it's been going on for 8 years, a really nice tradition. The neighborhood kids play with squirt guns and water balloons and run and run and run. The grown-ups sit and talk and enjoy catching up with one another.

I made a fruit salad ---- casaba melon and blueberries ---- and grilled some hot dogs for my friends S & T when they came over to check out our tandem-bike and do some vacation planning.

I had a good talk with a friend this morning (a happy surprise that she called) and I made plans for my vacation this afternoon. It's independence day and I'm feeling that way: independent, strong, happy, and good.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Hanging Out with JT's Fairy Godmothers

A and M invited us to their house for the afternoon. They grilled burgers and London Broil, boiled some corn, and A made her yummy cucumber and tomato salad. But the more important thing tonight was the good company. These women are funny and kind, often at the same time. They keep me sane. They make my boy laugh.

The 4th of July was always a family day for me and they made sure that it still is. JT played in the jacuzzi (so did Mama) and we all got to see his now-infamous 'pop goes the weasel' display (where he grabs his backside, shouts "pop goes the weasel" and then laughs like this is the funniest thing ever). I see this display 4 or 5 times a day and most of the time I still laugh.

We ended the night by watching the fireworks over Veteran's Park and when I was a bit crabby with the boy, A took over, keeping him amused and helping to remind me that I can do this single mom job and do it well.

Honestly, they've rescued us so many times in the last month that it seems fair to say that they have become our personal Fairy Godmothers.

All-American Lunch

JT comes home from swimming lessons with a seriously hollow leg. While I made him this sandwich, he ate salsa and chips because he just couldn't wait. I like grilled cheese with a cold glass of milk, but JT just wants "water with ice, Mama."

He inhaled this sandwich, ate half of mine, and then had two mini-cupcakes. He's upstairs now, working off the carbo load with his pirate toys.

Election Time

Although it was never part of my formal scholarship, I have always been interested in Mexican politics. The interest comes from growing up in California and from Professor Gonzales' class in Mexican politics at UCLA. My friend M is reading this and saying to herself that I slept through that class, but I didn't.......

Lately, I've been much more interested in Latin American elections because of the recent rise of a class of leaders who are suspicious of U.S. policies and motives. It's one of the ironies of American foreign policy that we talk a lot about the need to create democracy around the world. We talk the talk, but when those democracies begin to question American policies, we find it much harder to walk the walk. Thus the Bush Administration is worried about the governments of Peru, Venezuela, and Brazil. Will Mexico be next on the list?

First off, it's worth noting that the victory of Vincente Fox's National Action Party seven years ago really did move Mexico into the ranks of nations with a functional two –party system. The PRI no longer runs the show, and that's good for Mexican democracy. Fox's chosen successor, Felipe Calderon, promises to build on Fox's policies, which everyone agrees helped to grow Mexico's middle class. Populist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, running for the Democratic Revolutionary Party that he helped to found, has been openly critical of Fox and he's taken up a populist cry: that the poor are still being left behind. He's right of course: in Mexico as in the rest of the world, the gap between the rich and the poor is growing, not narrowing.

This morning, the BBC is reporting that the election is to close to call. But I have a good feeling for Lopez Obrador, who was great on the campaign trail and who seems to truly understand the plight of Mexico's underclass, without dismissing the needs of the middle class. I think that is a winning scenario. It's a tough job that he inherits if he wins. But he seems to understand that, which is really half the battle of leading well.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Month One

One month ago today, my partner of 9 years walked out on our life together. For the first 72 hours, I was on auto-pilot, trying to take care of JT and just keep things together. But then I fell apart and there were a lot of tears and there was a lot of sadness. I couldn't imagine how I would get through the day, let alone the week, or the month.

But I have gotten through and honestly I've done so much better than I expected. My friends have been a rock, reminding me that I am a good person, that I am strong, and that she is selfish and a fool. I needed to hear these things. I did my best to make the relationship succeed but she quit trying. I know that's not my fault and when my boy is a man, I will be able to look him in the eye and say I tried my best. I didn't leave him. I will never leave him.

My friend E pointed out to me that a child's life is about firsts. So in this first month, it seems fitting to mark a few of the first things that JT and I have done as we navigate the landscape of our new life together. I rather think that this posting is a celebration of sorts. Because while there has been sadness and anger and tears in this past month, I think that he and I are stronger than ever. And one thing hasn't changed: we are a family founded on love.

JT lost his first (and second!) tooth this month and I got to be the Tooth Fairy both times. We went out to supper without her for the first and second time. I changed the locks on my house (actually T and A changed the locks, but I did make supper afterward). I took JT to the movies by myself. We went to the beach without her for the first time. I have cut the grass (several times) and taken care of my house. JT and I have made plans for our first vacation without her. I fixed the training wheels on JT's bicycle.

Life goes on and time does seem to be healing our hearts. We are having a good summer together and my boy still smiles and laughs every day and I am here to witness it all. JT knows that he is a much-loved child, I've made sure of that. For now, that's more than enough.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

A Multi-Faceted Girl

I had a couple of errands to run today. My first stop was the sporting store, to get sleeping mats and a new camp lamp for the upcoming trip to the Cape. Then I stopped by Ulta to get some pony-tail holders (for camping and general pleasure). I strolled the aisles of nail polish and other shiny things and then decided that I needed a new glitter lip gloss (yes, loyal readers, it will go nicely with the glitter eyeliner).

When I got back in the car to come home, I had to laugh. Some kind of lesbian I am: scoring camping supplies and makeup on the same outing.

Mama's Pancake Breakfast

Saturday morning is made for sleeping in. For me, it's about being relaxed, with cartoons on the television and the New York Times spread all over the table. If I'm lucky, I get to listen to NPR for a few minutes. And Saturday morning absolutely demands a good breakfast.

I delivered the goods this morning with pancakes and bacon and a nice big pot of hot coffee (the last was not for the boy). I even warmed up the syrup. JT loves pancakes and bacon and so he was happy. I was happy too ---- it feels good to be taking care of my boy.