Monday, March 31, 2008


I'm proud to announce that Mango Mama's family has gone public with their love.  Go Obama Go!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Pregnant with...

Both of my babies were born during the glorious month of April and as March comes to a close and their birthdays approach I’m reminded that for me, this time of year will always be associated with pregnancy.

I love my children, but I hated being
pregnant. I felt like I’d been invaded by an alien being from the moment of conception and I suffered from morning sickness and debilitating nausea for most of the 10 (let’s be honest) months of pregnancy. It was so bad that I couldn’t even bear to associate with pregnant women who professed to enjoy their pregnancies. Their joy made me feel worse and resentful.

On the east coast, moving from March to April is also like a
pregnant pause that’s pregnant with possibilities and everywhere you look there are signs that winter’s coming to a close, with the promise Spring is on its way. The days are longer, buds are sprouting, colors beyond white, black and grey return to the earth’s palette and the sun’s a bit stronger as the winter’s wind finally begin to loose its bite.

It’s such a lovely time of year.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Have I been asleep at the wheel, or what?

With Miss Olivia's 9th birthday fast approaching, I’ve been feeling the need to initiate a conversation about the impending bodily changes she’ll be facing over the next few years. Yup, as much as I still see her as my baby, it’s time for "the talk."

I know some may say that I’m late to the game, but Loverman and I are constantly struggling to strike the right balance between what’s age-appropriate in today’s over-exposed, TMI society and not living with our heads in the sand, trying not to acknowledge that our babies are growing up. Let’s just say it’s not easy.

So yesterday, while Olivia and I were alone in the car on our way to her art class, I decided it was the right time to start the conversation.

Mango Mama (MM): Olivia, are you excited about turning 9 next month?
Olivia: I sure am and next year I’m hitting the double digits.
MM: That’s right baby, you are growing up and before you know it, you’ll be 10
Olivia: Yup, I can’t wait. Can I get a cell phone when I’m 10?
MM: I don’t know about that, but that’s not want I want to talk about right now. I want to talk about all the changes your body will be going through now that you’re getting older.
Olivia: Oh, you want to talk about PUBERTY?
MM: (gripping the steering wheel with white knuckles) Yes, I’m talking about puberty. What do you know about it?
Olivia: Well, Kai (Olivia’s best friend and also 8 yrs. old) and I have been reading a book in our class about puberty, so we know all about padded and under wire bras.
MM: What book? Do you remember the title? Does it talk about the changes in your body, or just what you wear and the necessary accessories you’ll need when your body changes?
Olivia: It talks about everything, but you wear an under wire bra don’t you mommy? Oh, and it talks about having to take really special care of your body once it starts changing.
MM: Olivia, what’s the title of this book again? Maybe we can buy a copy so we’ll have it at home.
Olivia: I don’t remember the title, but I can bring it home for a few days when we go back to school after our spring break.
MM: That’s a good idea, because I’d like to see if the book talks about your period and getting your menstrual cycle.
Olivia: Yeah mommy, it talks about that and whether you should use tampons or pads. I don’t think I want to use tampons. I mean sticking something in your vagina with a string hanging out sounds weird. What do you use mommy?
MM: Well, I use tampons, but you can use whatever works for you. When I first got my period I used sanitary napkins too. Did this book explain why you get your period and what getting your period means?
Olivia: It did show pictures of an egg and since there’s no baby in your belly your body gets rid of the extra blood. Is that right?
MM: Basically, it’s pretty much on point, but there’s a bit more to it. Did the book tell you that once you start getting your period your body can make and carry a baby?
Olivia: (stuttering a bit) No, I don’t think we got to that part yet.
MM: (I’m now parking the car in front of the building which houses her art class) Well, this is what it means, and we can talk more about this later today after your class. And Olivia, I’m happy you and Kai have a book at school, but remember that either of you can come to either me or Miss Leslie (Kai’s mom) to talk or ask questions at any time. In fact, let’s make a point to have these talks every time we take this ride to your art class, especially because it’s usually just you and me and Yannick’s not here to distract us.
Olivia: That sounds good and mommy?
MM: Yes, baby?
Olivia: (in an ever-so-slightly condescending, maybe mocking tone) Thanks for FINALLY having this conversation with me. I’m happy to know we’ll be talking about this stuff.

I cannot tell you how relieved I am that we at least started this discussion, but I’m also blown away that she and Kai have been reading this book on the regular, trying to sort things out for themselves and she hadn’t yet mentioned one word to me. To be honest, her tone towards the end of this discussion, sort of confirmed that I’m a bit late in getting to the game. Maybe I’ve been asleep at the wheel in this regard, trying to see her as a little girl for as long as possible.

This episode reinforces the fact that if our kids aren’t getting the information from us, they most certainly will get it from somewhere else, and the source may be questionable. We’ve got to be proactive with our children and let them know it’s cool to come to us with any questions or concerns. Again, there is no bad or stupid question. We’re the stupid ones if we think we are the depositors of all the “important” information they need to be both informed and prepared as they face the unending physical and emotional changes they’ll go through as they grow up.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Random (Political) Thoughts

Clinton/Obama…A So-Called Dream Ticket?
Is Hillary crazy or what? Why in the world should Obama consider running as her vice presidential running mate when he’s leading in both the popular vote and pledged delegates? Until this weekend, according to Clintons’ assessment, Obama wasn’t qualified to be President, he isn’t ready, but now it looks as if they’re floating another desperate ploy to see how it will play in the media.

It’s laughable, offensive and just another example of the Clintons' unending sense of entitlement.

McCain’s Years As a Prisoner of War
Isn’t anyone concerned about the five years John McCain was a prisoner of war? In addition to the torture he sustained, what else did he endure? While Clinton and Obama feud over who’s been sufficiently vetted to run against McCain and the Republican Party, somebody needs to research what techniques where used on McCain during his 60 months of captivity. I’m not sure if someone whose time and activities are virtually unaccounted for, for this amount of time, should be eligible to run for the Presidency. Come on, I’ve seen the Manchurian Candidate and who knows what mind-bending tricks could have been played on this guy. His rise to the Presidency could be a part of a long-running plot to take this country into yet an even more unsavory direction. With him as President, one would always need to wonder who's really at the wheel?

Just Do Your Job
I am a political junkie, but I must admit, I’m getting sick and tired of the role the media has taken during this primary season. Instead of simply reporting the news, the U.S. media is dictating, and in many instances becoming the focus of the campaign.

A current example of the media dictating the focus of the Obama/Clinton primary fight is the media’s characterization of the delegate count as a ‘virtual tie.’ No, this is not true, it’s close, but a win is a win and at this stage in the game, Obama is leading Clinton in pledge delegates and the popular votes. Report the news as it is and stop using your reach and resources to frame the news to dictate your corporate agenda.

O.K., I’m packing up my soapbox for the evening. Thanks for letting me vent. I do feel a bit better now.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

damn those outside influences

Before I start this post, I want to offer a disclaimer that the details shared are a bit risqué, even though it’s about an incident with my 5yr. old.

Last night as I was cleaning up the kitchen, Olivia was in her room reading and as usual, Yannick was hanging out with me. I wasn’t paying him much attention at first, but at some point I noticed his little pelvic thrusts as he was was pointing at his penis and lightly singing, “It’s a dick, it’s a dick.”

I couldn’t believe my ears, but thankfully my higher mother internal voice kicked in and reminded me that if I overreacted and blew this out of proportion it may create a bigger issue than it actually was. After taking a few deep breaths I was able to finish cleaning the kitchen and when I was done, I asked Yannick to come and sit with me on the couch for a little chat. By this time he had stopped his nasty little serenade, and was on to a more appropriate tune, but regardless, this needed to be addressed:

Mango Mama (MM): Yannick, I heard you singing a little song in the kitchen and I was wondering, what’s a dick?
Yannick: a penis
MM: If it’s a penis, what are you calling it a dick?
Yannick: Jack from my class told me it’s a dick
MM: Did you ever hear daddy or your either of your pop pops call their penis a dick?
Yannick: no
MM: Then, why are you following what Jack told you?
Yannick: I dunno
MM: Well, do you know what a dick really is?
Yannick: No
MM: It’s a nickname for Richard
Yannick: So, you mean my penis is a Richard?
MM: Noooooo! That’s not what I mean
MM: Do you see Olivia or I going around naming our vaginas?
Yannick: No, do you want to give your vagina a name?
MM: No, it already has a name--- vagina
Yannick: Oh
MM: So, what do we call your penis?
Yannick: I dunno
MM: a penis, we call it a penis
Yannick: yeah, right… a penis

For some reason, I wasn’t convinced and Loverman wasn’t due home until after the kids were in bed, so I decided I needed another perspective to help me address the situation while it was fresh in this boy’s head.

I called my father-in-law and relayed the high and low points of my exchange with Yannick. My father-in-law has been an elementary school counselor for years and he assured me this was normal for boys Yannick’s age. I told my father-in-law, that I could care less if it was normal, I don’t want Yannick going around calling his penis a dick and he agreed to talk to him. I called Yannick to the phone and as he began his conversation with his grandfather he walked into another room and shut the door. Now, why this boy felt he needed privacy for this man-to-boy conversation, I’ll never know, but after about 10 minutes, be made his way to my room and as the conversation came to a close, he said goodbye to his grandfather, hands me the phone and says, “I’m straight now, it’s not a dick or a Richard, it’s just a penis.”

Sure, it’s a funny story and hopefully he really did get the message, but personally, I’ve always hated the term “dick.” It’s just nasty and base and I don’t appreciate this Jack-kid exposing my boy to this nasty language. It’s times like this that home schooling sounds like a boss idea.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Surrounded by a Sea of Change

About two weeks ago I got word one of my best and oldest friends is divorcing her husband of 18 years. I can’t begin to tell you the wave of emotions I experienced as I attempted to process this news. First, I’m saddened at the demise of her marriage, but I’m also incredibly proud of her as she rights her own emotional and spiritual ship.

It seems since I learned of her decision, I’ve heard from no less than half a dozen other friends and associates that they too, have decided to leave their husbands and file for divorce. Mixed with all this sad marriage news, I’m also supporting other friends as they confront and deal with life altering decisions. Decisions which range from acknowledging that after a few years of trying to get pregnant naturally and unsuccessfully navigating the in vitro route, your body is simply not working with you, but this will in no way stem your desire to have children and be a mother and so, now you will traverse the adoption option; to I’m not really sure I ever want children, but I’ve just been told that my uterus is angry and the decision whether to have children is now out of my hands because it needs to be removed.

I understand we all experience these life changing issues as we become older, but it often leaves me feeling drained and sad, because as much as I want to be helpful and offer comforting and insightful support, most of this is unfamiliar territory for me and too often I forge forward offering heartfelt platitudes, which even to my own ears sound hallow and inadequate.

I’m learning to not absorb what they’ve identified as what’s lacking in their own marriage in assessing my own. No, I by no means have a perfect marriage or a perfect husband. Hell, I’m not a perfect wife, but I am happy and I love, respect and think the world of Loverman. I am the product of a difficult marriage and in choosing a mate, I reflected on examples set by my parents and made very different choices. Choices, which for the most part, have worked out quite well for Loverman, me and our children.

I realize that my quick wit and slight of tongue are not necessarily assets when my friends are in need of simply a sympathetic ear or shoulder to lean on and most importantly, I’m beginning to understand the real meaning behind the power of active listening and 2 Corinthians 5:7 which reads, “We walk by faith, not by sight.”

Saturday, March 1, 2008

I'm a Law & Order Head

I am a Law & Order head. I have been for years and before you ask no, it doesn’t matter, I watch them all, the original and all of its subsequent spin-offs. If pressed, I guess I’d say Law & Order Criminal Intent is my least favorite, but that’s just because the lead actor, Vincent D’Onofrio, is a bit creepy. It also doesn’t matter if I’ve seen the episodes half a dozen times; I enjoy them all just the same.

I’m not into violence, but over the past few years, I’ve taken to watching quite a few of these pseudo-documentary/reenactment shows like Snapped, City Confidential and Dominick Dunne’s Power, Privilege and Justice, but hands-down, Law & Order is my absolute favorite.

I’m sure this has something to do with escapism, but a few years ago I discovered that viewing Law & Order also triggers a visceral reaction signaling me to relax. In May 2005, I found myself thousands of miles away from home in a small hotel room in the Netherlands, completely spun out from traveling for almost 24 hrs, and lonely because this was my first trip out of the country without Loverman and the kids, I was on the verge of tears, feeling pitiful when I turned on the TV, and heard the familiar, “dumm… dumm,” Now, let me tell you, at that very moment, this was the perfect elixir for this home-sick mama. I settled down, watched the episode and when it was over, I felt a bit more like myself and was able to get some sleep.

All in all, it’s a pretty harmless indulgence and I know I’m not the only one on this Law & Order bandwagon, but let’s keep it real, I do have an addiction and the road to recovery begins with admitting you have a problem.