dust of broken hearts: a lesson in parenting

I depart from my usual posting content to share a story with you. You see, I try to keep this place fun, lighthearted, interesting. But above all, I like to keep it honest. This is a post where I share some trials in the world of parenting.

It is nothing new when I say that kids can be some of the biggest assholes on the planet. Some kids don’t know better, or they were never shown how to be loving and kind. Some come from horrible home situations and in turn act out or take it out on other children. It’s almost of right of passage to encounter one of these kids in your lifetime.

Ever since Reza decided to shave the side of her head, she has told us about situations where kids (mostly older boys) make comments to her about it. That she “looks like a boy”.  We encourage her to defend herself in whatever way she seems fit and have stressed that we will never be mad at her if she gets in situations or altercations out of self defense. I will never punish her for standing up for herself or others.

For a while now, we have been noticing changes in her demeanor. Truth be told it happens quite often. As she grows up she continues to navigate down uncharted waters, with it come storms or smooth sails. These changes are usually par for the course, typical growing pains. We usually just say it’s “just the age” and when that happens we adjust how we handle it accordingly. But this was different.

All of a sudden our spunky girl was bottled up, withdrawn, moody, snappy, sassy. We are very in tune and when she isn’t herself it is pretty obvious something is going on. So I decided to ask her what troubled her. My first instinct was that she was getting bullied in school. Several weeks ago I was cleaning her bedroom, reorganizing her many books. I picked up one of her sketchbooks and this is the page it was opened up to…


Try finding that amongst your child’s things and tell me your heart wouldn’t break a little. Mine did. Here’s this wonderful person who just happens to be a little quirky and other kids are using that unique light against her. Assholes. It’s funny because the defense mechanism kicks in and the first thing that comes to mind is, “who is this little shit so I can go open a can of whoop-ass”. You too? Ha. Luckily we talk to her A LOT about always being a kind person and owning her eccentricity. She brushes stuff off but even the strongest of fortresses can have a weak spot. Trust me, I know… she is just like me.

I never asked her about the drawing because I didn’t want her to feel I was snooping. We are very large proponents about giving her her space. I didn’t have it and I still remember how hurt I was when my privacy was violated by my Mother, even more when I had zero reasons for her to even cross that line. But the change was so drastic that I decided it was time to ask.

She did admit some kids have said things to her. When that happens we tell her how to cope, retort and the best ways to dish it back. But she insisted that wasn’t the “issue”. I was met with a lot of resistance. “I don’t want to talk about it” many times over. I asked all kinds of questions without being pushy but she insisted on staying mum but did say, “I would rather not tell you because I know it is going to make you mad”. You can imagine the kinds of shit that went through my head. Pair that with a very heavy heart because I just knew something was wrong and all of a sudden, I can’t fix it.

This is one of the hardest feelings in my life as a parent thus far. Sleepless nights, potty training, tantrums? All of that shit is trivial and pales in comparison to when you know something is wrong with your child and you feel they are beyond your help. That sense of helplessness is overwhelming, a knot in your gut that nothing will relieve. All of a sudden your Mommy Glue doesn’t work on this, not this time lady.

I didn’t press her. I talked to her teacher and nothing abnormal there. And then it hits me. She has asked questions about having boyfriends and we always respond with stern “not anytime soon girlie”. I bet this has something to do with a particular boy. As the evening rolled on, she broke out in an allergic reaction to something and while grilling her about what she did, ate, etc. I just told her that I can’t help or give her the right kind of advice if she isn’t going to talk to me.

And out it came. Yes, she does get poked at in school but nothing she doesn’t seem to be handling. This mood was heartbreak, a schoolgirl crush that is going unreciprocated. Shit. Look, I am not naive enough to think that my daughter isn’t going to develop feelings for another boy/girl/wherever she wants to go with it. I guess I didn’t expect this kind of thing so soon but nonetheless here we are. There were watery eyes as she sat in my lap and while stroking her hair I tried my best to band-aid it, telling her stories about all the times I got my heart stomped on by some boy who never even knew I existed or decided my friend was more interesting. We talked for a while about it and within minutes it was like the light came back in her eyes because she felt that safeness that comes from knowing you can tell your story without being judged, punished or humiliated.

This was a lesson for us too. We realized that by saying “no boyfriends anytime soon” and not explaining our reasonings, we pushed her into a corner where she felt she couldn’t talk about it with us. The idea of that alone is a bummer because that is not how we roll as a family. But hey, this is our first time go around with this parenting business and we are bound to make mistakes, right?

I share this for two reasons…

One? Think about that drawing and how it probably made her feel. She is one of many that has felt that way at the expense and hand of another. Kindness and acceptance are lacking in this world and it will never change unless we continue to educate ourselves and those coming up under our wings.

Two? I needed to put this somewhere, if anything to continue to remind me that communication is key. Talk to your nuggets about a lot, about everything, even the scary stuff, the things we hold back to spare them from growing up too fast… cause guess what? They’re going to and while you can’t give them all the answers, you can certainly give them the flashlights so the path isn’t so dark.


Lets kick this pot of stew off with the big one for the week…

Reza started 2nd grade yesterday! Where does the time go, right? Josh and I had a little bit of an anxiety attack when a concerned friend called me, the evening before the first day of school no less, to ask why Reza wasn’t on the lists for 2nd grade. Insert panic, we call the school, “We made a clerical error and enrolled her into another school in the district”. Oh boy. Thankfully it was all straightened out before we got there and she got put in a 2nd/3rd combo class. Not sure how that is going to work out but I was told that her grades reflect that she can handle it.

Her first day was so much easier than last year. Such are the joys of breathing in the air of familiarity. No anxiety, peace out Mom & Dad! She loves school and was so happy to see her friends and happy to be in a class with kids she knows well. She is going to do so well and we couldn’t be more proud to see her take another step in her academic path. Here is her 2nd grade interview which surprisingly didn’t have too many changes from last year. Go forth and conquer my Nugget!

Did you know that you can change Siri on your iPhone to be a guy/lady with a British or Aussie accent? Oh yes you can. Want to know how? Go to Settings > General > Siri >  and then you choose the language and gender.


I changed mine to a British guy and his English is so much nicer to hear. Now, if Apple could get on Siri’s voice being supplied by Tom Hiddleston. Wouldn’t that be magical? Now that I think about it maybe it isn’t a good idea. The other day I thanked Siri for some directions and it actually responded, “I LIVE TO SERVE”. If that sounded like Tom Hiddleston I would never leave the house.

Been venturing into sculpting for a project I am working on. It’s rough sauce but either way it has been fun to try new mediums even if the outcome is mediocre. Whee!
photo 4

It is still kitten season at the shelter and the other day there were 3 black kittens. I can barely handle the cute and lucky for Josh we have a lease agreement that doesn’t allow more than two cause I could easily become crazy cat lady. All the black cats to me. Case in point? This guy…

Since I got back it has been a whole lot of getting things together. Writing an endless list of Thank You cards to all the right people back in SoCal, uniform acquisitions for the child who grew out of EVERYTHING she owned for school, some art stuff that isn’t completed just yet. To say I am all over the place is an understatement. Have some things to wrap up then it’s on to new ideas.

How do you know you live in the Bay Area? Well, other than the tapped out bank account, this is how you know you live in the Bay Area…

But then again there is always this, which I will never tire of looking at or photographing. I need to walk and ride my bike across it soon. Definitely after Summer though, way too many tourists. Before you get all phone police, I was a passenger while taking this. You would be shocked at how many people I have seen trying to selfie and take photos of this bridge while driving across it. It’s hella scary.

photo 2

I recently surprised my friend and CupKozy diva Dinah with a paper cutting of her likeness as a belated birthday present. I was pretty happy with the outcome. It isn’t a continuous piece but I could not omit her perfectly shaped eyebrow. No way.

photo 3
I recently started a Facebook group called The Skeleton Crew (thanks for the name Michelley!) . It was originally intended to be a page just for me and my friends to gossip about all the up and coming Halloween loot/festivities but I kept getting requests to join so I made it public. Yes, I start looking for Halloween goodies in August and it is the only holiday I don’t mind seeing in stores this early on. So happy to see that so many share my Hallow-enthusiasm.

Also, for you caffeine enthusiasts, Josh discovered that the chicory coffee from Cafe Du Monde makes THE BEST iced coffee. I gave it a shot today and boy was he right! Woot! We get ours at World Market.

So on to the meat…

Now that Reza is back in school I can get myself on a more consistent routine. Case in point: the gym. Between kid and my myriad of injuries, I kept away for far more than I should have. I went yesterday for the first time in months and the ouch. It’s a good ouch mind you. Either way I hope to make a dent to some of The Summer Fluff paired with getting back on my anti-inflammatory regimen. I need me time, lots of it.

I guess that is where I say I am happy that Reza is back in school. I love her and being around her, but I also know that without zero downtime, I get edgy really damn quick. I know other Moms judge people like me, for celebrating back to school with enthusiasm. Good on them if they want to be that kind of parent. I just know it isn’t for me. I suffocate if I am constantly running with no time to stop and breathe. I like who I am for the most part and feeling like a square of butter on a loaf isn’t part of my m.o. – if anything, it makes me a horrible, stressed person and in turn a bad wife and mother. Those are two paths I have zero desire to go down. So fuck yes to back to school. Amen.

Otherwise, things at Compound Carley are really good. We have lots more outings in the pipe, seeing friends, potential travel plans – like trying to go to Japan in the Summer, lots of balance. People have been asking me how he has been doing, how I am doing and I cannot be more appreciative of those who have. I figured I would put it out there, give you an update of sorts. Josh has been amazing in the past couple of months and really is working on himself. July was a tough month for us and I am sure it still has its challenges for him but he continues on a good path and I am on the sidelines, cheering him on. His having 2 weeks to himself really gave him the time to soul search and I came back to someone newer. I honestly feel relieved because I was so worried for him and us… but he is taking all of this with 95% seriousness and 5% humor, cause lets face it, it wouldn’t be Josh otherwise. I am hopeful and confident that things will continue to get better and that is really the best I can do other than lead by example. I am happy to see him writing in his blog with more frequency, making music, getting out, reading, being Josh again.

So there you have it.

for posterity

A convo Reza and I had today.

We were leaving Target and there were two transexual/drag queens outside. As we walked by, one of them says, “I LOVE YOUR DAUGHTER’S HAIRCUT!!”
I smiled and thanked her as we walked to the car.
Reza says, “what did they say?”
“She said she liked your hair”.
“But that was a boy”
“But she is dressed like as a she, we address her as ‘she’ because thats who she wants to be”.


In the past month I have taught/shown my daughter:

– The magic that is putting avocado in your sandwich – she fought me tooth and nail on this one but she got schooled! Now it’s a must.
– New watercolor techniques
– How to do the bump (the dance) to Shake Your Groove Thing, no less.
– More exposure to Prince, Madonna (the Material Girl era) and music that doesn’t suck.
– The skill every woman must know: always check for toilet paper prior to sitting your ass on the pot.
– Exposure to cosplay and how fun it can be
– How to own being different and not caring what other people think of her.

Granted, some of these will be continuous work in progress but still. She may not be in Summer camps but a month of her vacation has gone by and it has been very fruitful. Life lessons and all.

Adventures In Cosplay

This past weekend we attended the Santa Rosa Toy Con, a small, local convention all things toys. Most of them were vintage collector type stuff. It was nice to have something in town for a change!

Reza has recently been watching Heroes Of Cosplay on tv and because of it, she was all hung ho about going in costume. First time for everything! So I suggested we resurrect the witch costume from Halloween. So here we go, another hour of makeup application and we were off.

From the minute we walked in she was bombarded with people wanting to take her photo which she ate the hell up. Considering it was her first time in a Con environment she did pretty well with the attention. Wasn’t too overwhelmed.

A photographer from the local paper snatched her up and I just found the photo online… hilarity!
Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 1.08.28 PM

Feeling a little confident she decided to enter the cosplay contest. There were lots of cool costumes so I had my apprehension on letting her but decided to roll with it. We prepped her for the inevitability of not winning anything and she understood it was about the fun, not the win.

She got make a model space shuttle, took photos with a ton of other people in costume and even got to ask Ernie Hudson a question at his panel since she is a big Ghostbusters fan. He was a little distracted by her skin color.

Contest time came around. She got up there, cackled and gave her best “I will get you my pretty! And your little dog too!” impression.

Wouldn’t you know, she won the kids category. Granted, there were only 5 kids total but still. You should have seen the look on her face when she won, fanning her eyes, trying not to cry. She was STOKED. She scored a certificate and $50 cash which she promptly spent on a Lego set the following day.

That face. It wasn’t about the prize or the win…. it was the confidence it instilled. She believed she could and she did. Priceless.


She is already talking about what her next cosplay costume is going to be. *sigh* I created a monster.

the last day of first grade

Today is the last day of 1st grade. I can’t believe a whole school year flew by already… funny how fast it goes when you’re in a happier place.

Reza really turned a corner this year. Seriously. On the left was her first day of 1st grade and the right was this morning.

(click to make bigger)

Funny enough, I love to hear people argue about how uniforms stifle a child’s individuality. Oh, ok. Sorry, but even with the little accessories she has, you can already tell what kind of a kid she is.

In the past year she learned how to read, write and speak a lot French (with full on accent), showed an aptitude for math past her grade level, is doing very well with her spelling, writes beautifully in cursive and academically is pretty off the charts for her age. Through an awesome lunch program she also learned how to eat/try new things. I still can’t get her to eat a salad but she has opened up her palate to new things.

All things aside, we couldn’t be happier with her school. She has really thrived being surrounded by a wonderful, culturally diverse community of kids and parents. She has a place she fits in and you have no idea how happy that makes me after watching her get ostracized for being “different” when we were in NJ.

This week she brought home all kinds of workbooks that she used over the year. Her “journal” was my favorite cause it was full of art and little stories. This one had us laughing our asses off. We will make sure to show her this when she goes through her “I want to be vegetarian” teenager phase.

She made a lot of cool artwork but the notable Mona Lisa of the year goes to this wonderful rendition of the alien exploding out of the woman’s chest. Note: she has not seen the movie. Girl is all kinds of dark and twisty.

The other day they had a school Kermesse/Carnival. It was a free dress day and they got to play, get face painted and I guess there was a dress up photo booth. This came home the other day. Her hair is a hot mess and she will be getting a cut after school today. School’s out! Summer haircut will be in full effect.

She moves on 2nd grade with flying colors. Her behavior grades could have been a tap better but dude, she’s 7. You can only control a wild thing so much. She is the splinter off our bark… a tree that hauls ass down the freeway blasting Into The Groove and Goodbye Horses while the splinter sings along in the back seat and then we laugh at the nose pickers in their cars, who throws the goat, air guitars, loves Adventure Time, vampires and listens to The Hobbit audio book at bed time. That’s our girl.

But this…. when flipping through her journal, I came across this page she wrote the week of Mother’s Day. Needless to say I will be saving the whole book, but this page I will come back to a lot, especially on those days when I think she doesn’t like me anymore. These are the moments that make all the things I do, the work I put in, the things I gave up…. this right here makes it all worth it.

the other day…

It is no news that Josh has been gone a lot in the past month. He hasn’t had a day off since mid October, paired with 12+ hour days, we find ourselves feeling the void. It has been a pretty difficult time for us because we all operate at our best when we are together. I am sure people would call this codependency but honestly, I can’t help it if I actually adore the person I married. He’s my person and that’s just the way it is and when your puzzle is missing a piece, it just isn’t the same picture.

We did this two years ago when we lived in NJ and it sucked. Even the most solid of structures can weaken when the foundation is going out. But, just like last time, I have been holding down the home front as best as I can. But I am being met with some lashing out on behalf of the girl, high stress and not handling things in the best way.

I had a bad day this week. It started with a sick child, a shitty excuse for a Drs. office who wouldn’t take us because we were out of pocket patients, coupled with sitting in some gnarly traffic, getting yelled at by an asshole parking assistant and ending in Josh having to stay at work till 2 a.m.. It just all came to a head and when I had to say goodbye to Josh yet again, I lost my cool and erupted into tears.

I don’t know how people do it. I don’t know how families part ways for extended periods of time and manage. I couldn’t do it. I like my coffee with sugar and cream and when one of those is missing, it just doesn’t taste the same.

And then this happened….

After Josh drove away, Reza and I came upstairs. I sat in my desk chair to peel off my boots, tears drying on my swollen face. Reza walks over to me, puts her arm around me, hand on my back and rubs up and down….

It’s ok Mama, I miss him too. But remember, he is always here and here” – and she pointed to my head and heart.

Then was the moment I got slayed by a 7 year old.

I would like to think I am a fortress and hold up like rock and stone. Like Helms Deep…. but even Helms Deep has its weakness and at that moment I was a pile of rubble.

I couldn’t believe I was getting talked down by my littles, reassuring me that things would get better. I don’t see that side of her very often. But I saw her at that moment. Many is the day where I question whether I am doing a good job at this parenting business and then she goes and says something like that and it makes me feel like even though I could always be a better Mom, somewhere in there is a reflection of us and I couldn’t be more proud.

reza documentation…

It has been a while since I wrote a little about Reza so here we go.

Let’s get the bad out of the way…

The girl dropped the S bomb in karate class, three times over the span of an hour. She got her belt taken away in class and her privileges at home were revoked for a week. I feel bad in ways cause I know where she got it from and it wasn’t from playing video games or Marilyn Manson. We have been doing our best to control the language in front of her. Thing is, girl knows what she is doing, in what context it should be used and eventually leading to boundary testing. Oh boy does she test.

She has been reading so much better now. Literally will sit there for an hour going through books on her own. Occasionally she gets stumped and we help her but for the most part she just turned that corner completely on her own. It’s pretty rad to watch. She’s gonna be ace by the time she hits first grade.

Recently I was approached by one of the moms of one of Reza’s classmates. She mentioned to me that another child told her son that Reza said “she doesn’t believe in God, Jesus and worships the devil”. Oh boy, here we go. I asked Reza about it and she totally admits to the God and Jesus part but the third didn’t make sense to her. I just think it’s funny that kids (and adults) will come to the conclusion that just cause you aren’t religious you must be a devil worshipper. Honestly, I am glad she feels comfortable to express herself.

This is the thing with us and religion: if Reza wants to be religious she is more than welcome to it, but we want her to be of an age where she KNOWS what she is believing in. Spirituality is no joke and being brain washed into stuff she doesn’t understand isn’t the way we roll. If she has the calling for something of the sort, it’s going to be because she felt it, not cause we made her.

So anyway, back to the Satan story. I nicely told the other mom that if the kids in her class or their parents want to believe we sacrifice virgins in our backyard they’re more than welcome to think what they want of us and our “all black clothes”. It was met with a laugh I am sure but you got to wonder.

What gets me is we are talking about KINDERGARTEN here. And yes, Reza wears funky clothes (see above^) but I am not pigeon holing her into anything. In fact, these days I don’t even pick out what she wears for the day, I just make sure she’s warm and layered accordingly. I let her mix and match and go to school looking like a punk rock rainbow. If that’s what she feels comfortable wearing and being, more power to her. No, I don’t dress her like an asshole and I won’t apologize for my beautiful, little alterna-girl.

Bunch of bored, suburbia bitches, gossiping about my beauty. I dare them to say anything to my face. And then they wonder why I just stick to my own instead of standing around trying to fit in. If we were in CA this wouldn’t even be an issue.

Good times.

More posts to come, mostly about my trip to CA, photos from said trip and all that came in between. Expect those to come!


The morning started off nice dare I say? Yes, it did. I woke up early and ran off to the store to get pancake mix. I made breakfast for the nugget & husband in the form of spiderweb & spider pancakes. Dude. I know people love to rip on Martha Stewart but the idea to put the pancake mix in a squeeze bottle and draw your pancake shapes on the pan? You end up asking yourself the ever loving question we all do when something is awesome, “Why didn’t I think of that!!?”. Well played Martha. Happy kid was happy! I made myself a pentagram and called it breakfast success.

For a while I have been eyeing the Clover Market and the stars finally aligned for us not only to attend but a gorgeous day to boot. 70 degree weather? Low humidity? AMEN. What is Clover? The love child of a well curated flea market + craft bazaar. So we piled in the car, wearing our Sunday’s Best (lots of black clothes) and headed out to Ardmore, PA.

On the way over there Josh got pulled over by a cop for going through a yellow light. The whole thing was so stupid… and then comes the most stupid question cops always ask, “Do you know why I pulled you over?”. “Uh yes ma’am, you saw me hand my passengers a crack pipe and I had my dick out of my pants”. Like anyone would ever throw themselves under the bus over a potential wrongdoing. So Ms. Officer runs back to her car with our papers, does the show, comes back and gives us the “you ran a red light” lecture and let him off with a warning in order to “not inconvenience him to have to come back to PA since we live in NJ”. Bogus call was bogus and she knew it. Josh just smiled, nodded, “yes ma’am-ed” her and we were back on the road. As we pull away we giggle at his obvious placation and he says, “Honey, sometimes you just have to put it in your mouth”.

Back on track.

Ardmore is a really cute area and the market was awesome! Lots of great loot. The antique dealers were my favorites for sure, although some of it was way overinflated. Skeleton keys for $10 a piece? I don’t think so. Now the lady from Little Shop Of Hoarders who had them for $1? YES. And what a great name for a business. Also did you know that typewriters and vintage thermos bottles are the new black? Ya don’t say.

I will let the photos speak for themselves…

We made out with just a couple small things, funny enough, most from the same vendor who obviously knows her spooky business. Josh wanted the raven, Reza wanted the rat and the rest of the little nuggets are mine. Can’t wait to put them in my curio cabinet that is currently in the refinishing process. But that’s another post…

the rest of the photos here