Don’t You Hate it When You Pee on Your Hand?

Don’t look at me like that!

You know what I’m talking about. All of us girls have done it. We’ve just gone to the bathroom, we’re wrapping things up, and something happens. Something startles us and suddenly we realize that we weren’t quite done with the job we set out to do. There’s no shame.

This exact thing happened to me a few days ago. I was in my bathroom, finishing my business when I heard Zaffron scream. The kind of scream that makes a mother freeze, just for a moment, because the quality of the scream has an edge that puts it past typical (the shriek of a child discovering that the cat pooped in her bed AGAIN) and more toward terrible (the wail of a child that’s been hurt).

This scream was smack dab in the middle of the two and my body clenched and I peed on my hand. Then she started yelling for me and I could hear her running toward the bathroom. I  did my best to tidy up and rushed out to meet her. She was sobbing and I scooped her into my arms and pushed her face into my neck.

“What’s wrong? Are you okay?”

“I… I… I fell and I hit my head on the closet door.” She was sobbing.

“Oh, sweetie, show me where it hurts.”

“It… it… it… hurts here,” she said, pointing to a spot on the side of her head. Her sniveling broke my heart and I hugged her close.

I felt her head. It was it’s regular shape. No bump, no swelling.

I tried to make her smile. “Oh baby, Mommy was in the bathroom when I heard you scream. I got so scared I peed on myself! I think you’re going to be okay. Should we get you some ice just in case?”

“Yes, please. I think that ice is a good… wait!” She pushed away from me and looked me straight in the eye. Her sniffles vanished. “Did you wash your hands?”


Zaffy’s Got Sticker Envy

Mgazi had to get her polio vaccine last week. She screamed. She kicked. She did not bite me, but just like last time she got a shot, I had the distinct feeling that she wanted to. In the end no amount of cajoling, cuddling, bribing, or threatening would calm her down. So I plopped her on my lap, pinned her arms to her sides with a bear hug, and yelled at the nurse, “GO GO GO!”

It wasn’t pretty. And all she got in the end was an effective defense against a horrible disease and some measly stickers.

As we left the office, my five-year old was sniffling from the indignity of it all. My seven-year old, who had been waiting in the waiting room, was miffed because “some crazy baby was screaming like crazy in one of the rooms and I couldn’t hardly read my book! Mom, it was awful!”


In the car:

Zaffy: Hey! Why did you get three stickers?

Mgazi: mumble mumble sniff mumble

Zaffy: I don’t think that’s it. I’m awesome and I never got three stickers.


Mgazi Puts Her Foot Down

Two of my co-workers got married this year. In the first wedding, my girls were flower girls. They got new dresses, little gifts from the bride, a lot of attention, and cake. They were thrilled.

The second wedding was for adult guests only. My kids weren’t even invited. Zaffy accepted this fate, content that she would attend the rehearsal dinner (Russell was officiating). Mgazi was ticked off.

Mgazi: So, what? I cannot go to Auntie Jen’s wedding?

Me: No, you can’t go to the wedding, honey. It’s for grown-ups only.

Mgazi: Auntie Jen just wants all the cake!

She put her hands on her hips. I believe she considered her lack of access to wedding cake to be the most egregious aspect of the whole matter.

Me: Gaz, sometimes adults just want to hang out with other adults.

Mgazi: Well, this makes me mad. I’m not inviting Auntie Jen to my wedding. I’m not inviting any grown-ups to my wedding.

Me: Sweetie, you are five years old. You’ll be a grown-up yourself when you get married.

Mgazi: So? No grownups.

Me: So, you and your husband will be the only grown-ups there.

Mgazi: Good.

Me: Okay, I support you. But you realize that I’ll have to support you from afar. Under this rule, I won’t be allowed at your wedding either.

Mgazi: I’ll bring you some cake.

From Manslaughter to Homicide…

So, a few weeks ago I accidentally crushed an innocent snail and caused irreparable damage to my children. That was nothing. Last night I killed a centipede. A 5-inch centipede that I found in my tub. I had no choice. It was threatening my children (both physically and verbally)!

I feel awful. I try to avoid killing things at almost any cost. But centipedes are tough. They are scary and their bite is fierce. I’ve seen a grown man cry after getting bitten by a centipede at a campfire. He was in so much pain that he couldn’t eat his toasted marshmallow. (It turned out okay… that was s’more for me!)

Here’s how it went down. Got home from work. Children driving me crazy. I went into the bathroom to pee (and for some peace and quiet). A dark blob in the tub caught my eye as I walked by. A 10-inch centipede was curled up underneath the bathmat in the shape of an “S.”. I could see him because our bathmat is semi-clear. It used to be perfectly clear, but the plastic is old and mildewed and it’s discolored over the years. (Don’t judge me!)

Anyway, I called out to the kids, “Hey, kids! Come see what I found!” They came running and peeked into the tub.  Zaffron, who is seven, decided that the insanity that was sure to follow was definitely not in her best interest and retreated to the living room to read some Junie B. Jones.

Mgazi, who is five, was intrigued. She smelled money.

“Hey, Gaz. Wanna earn a dollar?”

“Yes, I do,” she said.

I needed time to think. So I grabbed a tupperware container. This is my go-to tool when I have a creature to capture, be it cockroach, spider or gecko, tupperware buys you time.

I poked at the bathmat and the centipede didn’t move so I figured he was dead. Imagine my surprise (you won’t have to, I’m gonna tell you all about it) when Mgazi peeled away the bathmat and the centipede darted — no sprinted — no SHOT across the tub. I shrieked. Mgazi shrieked. And I dropped the tupperware, which bounced off the side of the tub, hit Mgazi in the forehead, ricocheted off the faucet and landed squarely on top of the centipede, effectively trapping him like I had originally intended.

All was going as planned.

Which meant I could pee. As I sat on the toilet, deep in thought, carefully crafting my next move, Mgazi interrupted. “So,” she said, looming over me with a hand on her hip. “What are you going to do about this?”

“I don’t know yet, Gaz. I don’t want to kill him.”

“Just use your super powers.”

“Honey, I don’t have super pow–”


“OH! Those super powers! Yeah, yeah, those super powers don’t work unless I’ve had a healthy breakfast and you know we were running late this morning and…” I trailed off. “I think we need to call Daddy.”

Russell was no help at all.

“Honey! Can you come home? There is a 14-inch centipede in our tub!”

“Kill it,” he said.

“I can’t kill it! I want to capture it and release it into the wild.”

“Our backyard is not ‘the wild.’ You need to kill it. Grab one of my boots and just get it over with.”

“Honey, I really don’t want to –”

“Kill it.”

“But, I –”

“Kill it.”

“Okay then… super fun chat. See you when you get home!”

I turned to find Mgazi gazing up at me. In one hand, she held a single, somewhat mangled and definitely damp kleenex tissue. Her other hand was upturned, fully expecting cash payment.  ”Look,” she said. “I’ll take care of this, but you gotta give me five paper monies or I’m not doing it.”

“Oh, sweetheart. It’s so sweet of you offer. But Daddy told me I’m not allowed to put you in charge this time. Can we think of another way for you to earn money later?”

I realized I had to kill the centipede which by now had toured his 17-inch body all over of my tupperware… tupperware which I could never use again because of the ick factor.

Mgazi and I agreed she would be my back-up for 50 cents (to be paid in four dimes and five pennies – SCORE!). She held a wad of paper towels in one hand (for what, I don’t know) and a paper bag in the other (for me to hyperventilate in, should the need arise) and stood behind me at the ready.

I lifted the corner of the bathmat until about half was in the air and half was still connected to the tub. I carefully slid the tupperware imprisoning all 20-inches of the centipede to the middle of the tub, just under the center of the upturned mat. On the count of 23, one count for every inch of centipede, I lifted the tupperware container and dropped the mat.

Then I scrambled into the tub and stomped on the mat like a madwoman yelling the name of a different man that had wronged me each time my 3-inch heel hit the rubber. It was the most disgusting, heartbreaking thing I’ve done all week.

After I caught my breath, and shed a tear or two, I looked at what I had done. Thirty inches of centipede was smeared across my tub under my yellowed bathmat… which would never be used again.

Mgazi patted me on the shoulder in a consoling way. “Look,” she said. “If you want me to clean that up, you need give me a lot more money.”

Glass of white wineRecommended wine: Did I have a glass of wine after that episode? You bet your butt I did! Manage a Trois – a California Red. Has nothing to do with the subject of my post. Just what I had in the cupboard.

P.S. I lied to you just now. I didn’t have a glass of wine after killing the 4-foot long centipede. I had two.


100 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Me

I read somewhere that on your 100th blog post you should write 100 things about yourself. So, in honor of my 100th post, I present to you…

100 Things that You Probably Don’t Know About Me

  1. I am embroiled in an unhealthy and one-sided love affair with cheap wine.
  2. A colleague and I were once driving in South Africa when we were pulled over by men carrying big guns. When I tell the story now, I say we were pulled over “at gunpoint.” The guns were pointing somewhere… just not at us.
  3. When I was a kid, I wanted to name my future daughter Phronsie Brett, after a character in The Five Little Peppers.
  4. The first time I cried from joy was when my parents told my sister and I that they were going to have a baby. I was ten years old. It was Christmas morning, 1980.
  5. I resent getting old.
  6. The happiest hour of my life was the hour after my husband proposed to me.
  7. I can flip a quarter off my elbow and catch it in my palm.
  8. I learned to drive on a stick shift.
  9. The only time I ever heard my father swear was when he was teaching me to drive.
  10. During the summer between fifth and sixth grade I read 52 books. I thought I was a shoe-in for the Summer Reading Contest. Turns out I was wrong. Another girl won. She read 53 books. Her name was Sally Sokolowski.
  11. Some of my favorite family memories consist of holding séances with my cousins at my grandparents’ house.
  12. The last time I cried from happiness was when I received a 21-seond personal video message from Sean Stephenson.

  13. I once broke up with a boyfriend the day before my birthday. That night a girlfriend took me out to get drunk. Then we decided to dye my hair. It didn’t turn out well.
  14. The hardest I’ve ever laughed was the afternoon that my sister, Angela, and I decided to wax our underarms. I lost my nerve and couldn’t pull off the wax. We spent over two hours trying to melt it off my right armpit using matches.
  15. I am an expert in absolutely nothing.
  16. When my sister, Cori, was a baby, I used to take toys away from her before she was done playing with them. I then handed her something else that I thought was more interesting. When I was in college I was an intern for a PhD student doing a research study on this exact behavior. Turns out mothers who do not allow their children to naturally choose which toys to play with do serious damage to their kids. Sorry, Cor.
  17. I was once slapped by an old woman in the streets of Nepal.
  18. When I was a teenager I would regularly fantasize about going to a pep rally before the “big game.” In my fantasy I would be overcome by the heat of the bonfire and faint into the arms of a cute boy who would instantly fall in love with me.
  19. I’m judgmental and petty. Not all the time. But more often that I like.
  20. I have epilepsy. Several times I’ve lost consciousness and was caught by a cute boy. It sucks.
  21. I am terrified of screwing up my children.
  22. I broke my nose in high school when I was playing right field in a softball game. Pop fly. I lowered my glove for some reason, which allowed my face to catch the ball. When I tell the story, I played shortstop and the batter hit a line drive.
  23. The six weeks I spent in Africa were simultaneously the best and worst six weeks of my life.
  24. I’ve walked barefoot over hot coals three times, walked barefoot over broken glass twice, and broken an arrow with my throat.

  25. I got caught shoplifting from Wegmans grocery store when I was in middle school. Turns out that eating from the bulk food bins with no intent of paying for what you’ve eaten is considered stealing.
  26. I make killer ice cream.
  27. Parenting doesn’t come naturally to me. What? You didn’t know?
  28. I fish for compliments.
  29. The most emotional years of my life were in 1984, 1992, 1994, 2005, 2009, and 2012.
  30. I accidentally flooded my class toilet in Kindergarten because the bathroom was out of toilet paper. I used paper towels instead. The teacher was pissed. She made all the students in class put their heads down on their desks in silence. The intent was that we stay that way until the culprit confessed. I never did.
  31. I care terribly what you think. (It doesn’t even matter if I like or respect you.)
  32. I became engaged to be married at 5 years old. My marriage proposal came from a boy of the same age. He sent it by mail. It was written in white chalk on black construction paper.
  33. My first concert ever was Captain and Tenille.
  34. When Zaffron was born I was terrified of her. Russell took care of her almost exclusively for the first three days.
  35. When I was a kid I had a huge thing for men with mustaches. HUGE.
  36. I had a very happy childhood.
  37. I idolize Harry Chapin.
  38. I won “Most Original Costume” in my elementary school’s costume contest. I was a McDonald’s French Fry Guy. When the local newspaper lined up the various winners on stage to take a photo, my ping pong ball eyeball fell off and bounced off the stage.
  39. I’ve travelled to thirteen countries: Canada, Mexico, Japan, Thailand, Nepal, Swaziland, South Africa, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Australia, Belize, France, and South Korea.
  40. I’ve fallen in love exactly three times. I’ve never fallen out.
  41. When I was a kid the worst punishment I could receive was being grounded from the family typewriter.
  42. I was a horrible mother to Mgazi for the first 6 months.
  43. I do a mean imitation of a horse.
  44. Last August, I climbed the Waimea Bay rock with the intent of jumping off into the ocean. I lost my nerve. I’ve been marinating in self-imposed humiliation ever since.
  45. I once told a joke to a captivated crowd of family friends that lasted over twenty minutes. The joke was about a giant pink gorilla. I killed it. (The joke, not the gorilla.)
  46. Sometimes I think that Post-Paris Kristine is just a figment of my imagination.
  47. When I was in high school I had a pin on my denim jacket that read, “Once I thought I was wrong, but I was mistaken.” I thought it was original.
  48. My sixth grade class had an ornament-making contest. I made a balsa wood Christmas tree hanging in a balsa wood oval frame. I got disqualified because the teachers thought I didn’t do the work myself. The winner was Sally Sokolowski. She made a God’s eye. Have you ever seen a God’s eye? I could have made a stupid God’s eye in my sleep.
  49. In high school I had a pen name. Myrtle T. Clearwater.
  50. My favorite vacation with my husband was on a Disney Cruise. Don’t ask me. I’m baffled too.
  51. I cried during the last chapter of the last book of Harry Potter.
  52. I have a horrible memory. I don’t know how old I was when I lost my first tooth or got my period.
  53. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a kid.
  54. I was 26 years old before I realized that things don’t always turn out “okay.”
  55. I sucked my thumb until I was in sixth grade. The only reason I stopped was because I picked up a fan (while it was plugged in and turned on) and sliced all the skin off my thumb.
  56. I’m not one of those people who have no regrets.
  57. I have seen the Monkees in concert six times. No, this is not one of my regrets.
  58. I’m sometimes embarrassed to say I’m a blogger.
  59. My mom worked for NutraSweet when I was a teenager. Several types of candy used it as an ingredient at the time and they used to send her logoware. I used to walk around wearing a t-shirt that had “WHOPPERS — The Original Malted Milk Balls” printed across the chest.
  60. I think my first memory is of falling down the basement stairs.
  61. A 911 operator once hung up on me during an actual emergency. (Well, it was my friend, Sam, that they hung up on. But the story flows better if I substitute myself for my friend.)
  62. In sixth grade I auditioned for the lead in the Christmas play. When I sang “O Holy Night” for my teacher, she stopped me short and remarked, “Boy, you sure do sing with your mouth wide open, don’t you?” I didn’t get the part. Guess who did? Sally Sokolowski.
  63. I once had a “run-in” with Owen Wilson in a bar in Waikiki.
  64. My favorite joke of all time is The Pig with the Wooden Leg.
  65. If I knew any famous people, I would definitely name drop.
  66. I think I’m funnier than I actually am.
  67. I have a horrible memory. I have no idea how old I was when I experienced my first kiss or what I said in my wedding vows.
  68. In sixth grade I had the best friend in the world. Sally Sokolowski.
  69. My dad taught me that you never boo at a hockey game. And you always clap for a player who makes a good play. It doesn’t matter which team that player is on.
  70. In high school biology class I dissected a grasshopper and wore his leg on my yellow sweater the rest of the day — like a gruesome corsage.
  71. My favorite and boldest Halloween costume was a short dress accompanied by a a bow with a simple gift tag tied around my neck that read, “To: Men. From: God.”
  72. I adore hyperbole.
  73. My favorite books of all time are: A Prayer for Owen Meany, Life with Father, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Straight Man.
  74. I value honesty more than almost any trait. Honesty made more attractive by decorative details is even better.
  75. When I was a kid, I memorized the Announcer’s Test. My dad taught it to me and my sister during long drives. If we made a mistake, he’d stop and we’d have to wait until the next long drive to try again. My dad memorized it by listening to Jerry Lewis say it, just one time, on the radio. I can still repeat it to this day.
    • One hen.
    • One hen. Two ducks.
    • One hen. Two ducks. Three squawking geese.
    • One hen. Two ducks. Three squawking geese. Four Limerick oysters.
    • One hen. Two ducks. Three squawking geese. Four Limerick oysters. Five corpulent porpoises.

    And on and one until number 10…

    • One hen. Two ducks. Three squawking geese. Four Limerick oysters. Five corpulent porpoises. Six pairs of Don Alverzo’s tweezers. Seven thousand Macedonians in full battle array. Eight brass monkeys from the ancient, sacred crypts of Egypt. Nine apathetic, sympathetic, diabetic old men on roller skates with a marked propensity towards procrastination and sloth. Ten lyrical, spherical, diabolical denizens of the deep who haul stall around the corner of the quo of the quay of the quivery, all at the same time.

  76. When Russell and I were dating, I accidentally backed my car into his ex-girlfriend’s car in a parking lot. It was a total accident. I swear.
  77. I have an intense dislike for the aloha shirt.
  78. I scored in the 97th percentile on the verbal portion of my GMAT. Don’t ask me. I’m baffled too.
  79. I once had a fist-fight with a neighbor boy on my front lawn. I was protecting my sister’s honor. In my version of the story, I won.
  80. During my sophomore year of college I owned and operated a singing telegram company.
  81. I was baptized when I was thirteen years old. It was a full-on dunking.
  82. The first time I got drunk was in eighth grade. Gin.
  83. My mother used to say I was never happy unless I was complaining. Thirty-five years later, I think I finally agree with her.
  84. In sixth grade my friends and I put a girl on trial for stealing my Rubik’s Cube. We appointed her a lawyer and rigged the jury. The verdict came back guilty. We also planted the Rubik’s Cube in her locker. I’ve always wanted to apologize but I can’t remember who we did it to.
  85. My first job was at Kentucky Fried Chicken.
  86. I breast-fed Zaffy until she was 22 months old. By that time she could ask for it by name. (It got a little freaky.)
  87. I believed in Santa Claus until I was in sixth grade. When my parents finally told me the truth I locked myself in the bathroom and alternately sobbed and shouted “YOU LIED TO ME” through the door.
  88. I fervently defend my right to tell my children that there is indeed a Santa Claus.
  89. In seventh grade I started drinking Diet Coke. I hated the taste but kept drinking it because I thought it was cool. Now I crave it.
  90. At the age of forty-two I started drinking coffee. I hated the taste but kept drinking it because I thought it was cool. Now I crave it.
  91. As a kid, I loved to play the 1980 Atari 2600 version of Space Invaders. I even remember flipping the game. (When you reach 10,000 and the score flips back to zero.)
  92. Once I was trick-or-treating at a neighbor’s house and I stood on the wrong side (the hinge side) of the screen door. I could barely see out of my costume and when the lady in the house opened her screen door I didn’t move out of the way. The door knocked me off the porch and into the bushes. My arms were pinned to my sides and I couldn’t move so there I stayed, wedged between the house and her bushes until my sister grabbed my dad from the bottom of the driveway, and he came and pulled me out. The lady was mortified so I got extra candy. Such is the life of a french fry guy.
  93. I’ve gone to a nude beach. I even took off my clothes.
  94. Until recently, I believed that pride was a sin.
  95.  I have never had a cavity.
  96. The best I ever felt about my body was when I was pregnant with Zaffron.
  97. I’m a piss-poor long-distance friend.
  98. Growing up in Buffalo, New York, I had a very sheltered childhood. Everybody I knew was white. There were a couple of black kids in school and one Chinese boy in church. (Where’d you disappear to, Peter Ho?) Except for the congregation at my church, everyone I knew was Catholic. 90% of the kids at my high school were Polish. Imagine my surprise when I got to college and discovered that the Italian boy I had been dating for three weeks was actually from India.
  99. Five days ago I dyed my hair blue.
  100. I love myself.

Retro Post – Later Than Night…

This is a post from my old site, A website that Russell and I started when we moved away from Atlanta. Just a way to keep family and friends up to date on what we were up to. What’s interesting is that this was in 1997. Before blogging was popular. Before the term “blogging” was even invented! I posted this on October 1, 1997. Fifteen years ago.

Later That Night…

Before we begin, have you read my story about getting trapped in the airplane bathroom? If not, you really should. You see, that little adventure took place a mere 3 1/2 hours before the bizarre episode I’m about to describe to you. Put together, these stories make for one crazy night!

Ice Cream SundaeSo, as you know, I was trapped in the airplane bathroom for what seemed like hours but was only 8 minutes. As soon as I was rescued, I ran for my seat and started pounding out the experience on my laptop while enjoying a chocolate sundae. All was well for about an hour until I realized that I had to go to the bathroom again! While my mind told me this couldn’t be. My body told me otherwise. There was NO WAY I was going to go into the restroom again, so I hunkered down and decided to wait until the flight was over. (Two and one half hours later.)

We arrived in Los Angeles at 12:10 a.m. I was one of the first people off the plane and I literally ran down the hallway toward the public restroom. As it was such an odd time of day for travel, this part of the airport was nearly deserted except for a group of men milling outside the Men’s bathroom door. They didn’t interest me and I was about to turn my head away when I noticed a man coming out of the doorway. His face was covered in makeup. A clown was coming out of the bathroom and being met by an entourage of men.

Whatever, I thought. My mind was on the Women’s room; I had business of my own to take care of. As I was turning the corner to enter the Ladies room, a shout came from across the hall.


I froze. I immediately thought of the man with the done up face. I just knew it was the clown and I just knew it was me that he was yelling at. I didn’t move. I didn’t know what to do. I had to pee.


Did he sound friendlier this time? Did I hear chuckling? Slowly, I turned around. The man in the makeup was hunched over laughing. His friends, the milling men I had noticed earlier, were all looking at me with smiles on their faces. A few were snickering, hiding their smiles behind their hands. I was very confused. My gaze returned to the laughing man. He straightened up and looked at me.

It wasn’t a clown.
It was Little Richard.
I kid you not.
My jaw dropped open as he turned away laughing, heading toward the gate I had just left. His entourage, his band, I guess, followed. One strong looking gentleman, strolling next to Little Richard, turned around and smiled at me…

“Is that…?” I could only point. The words “Little Richard” refused to leave my mouth. He laughed and said, “Yep.”

Little Richard heard this exchange and turned around to face me again.

“How’re you doin, GIIIIIRRRLLL???” He shouted, louder this time. He was enjoying himself immensely. Laughing, practically crying at his own antics.

Because I am not particularly talented at handling surprise situations, I couldn’t think of anything clever to say. I just stood numbly in the entrance to the Women’s room and gave a little wave. “Well, hey,” I almost whimpered. Feeling out of sorts and quite baffled, I turned and walked into the bathroom. I could still hear him laughing down the hall.

I stared at myself in the row of mirrors. “Now, what was it I came in here to do anyway?”

Who’s Missing Their Underwear?

The kids leave their clothes all over the house. So, when I saw a pair of girl’s underwear crumpled on the floor in the hallway, I wasn’t surprised. But I was annoyed.

I yelled from the hallway, toward the general vicinity where I thought the children might be. “Who left their underwear on the hallway floor?”



Zaffy yelled back from somewhere far away. “Not me, Mom! I’m wearing mine!”

Zaffron’s Latest Worstest Day Ever

Zaffy: Mom, I had the worstest day ever.

Me: Oh no! Worse than the last worstest day ever? What happened?

Zaffy: I almost lost my three newest best friends.

Me: Tell me!

Zaffy: Well, my old-new best friend Sydney told my two newer best friends Brooke and Sophia, that I cut in line at the cafeteria. And they believed her!

Me: Well, did you cut in line?

Zaffy: No, I didn’t! I didn’t cut in line!

Me: Of course you didn’t. Is there more?

Zaffy: Yes. Then Brooke told the teacher that I was yelling and the teacher believed her and I got in trouble.

Me: Well, were you yelling?

Zaffy: Mom! No! I wasn’t yelling! <– she’s yelling here.

Me: Hmmm… you know, if I was accused of cutting in line when I didn’t cut in line, I might be pretty mad. I might feel like yelling.

Zaffy: Okay, I yelled. But I did it using my regular volume voice.


Mgazi Wants to Go It Alone

This is what Mgazi looks like when she realizes things aren't going her way.

This is what Mgazi looks like when she realizes things aren’t going her way.

I told the girls to get their shoes, we were going to run errands. Mgazi protested immediately.

Mgazi: I don’t want to go. I want to stay home by myself, with you guys.

Me: If you are with us guys, you are not by yourself.

Mgazi: I want to stay home alone!

Me: I can’t leave you alone, hon. What if something happened while I was gone?

Mgazi: I would scream, MOMMY! (She demonstrated.)

Me: Wow. Thanks for that, Gaz. Loud as that was, I wouldn’t hear you because I wouldn’t be at home.

Mgazi: Then I would call you on the phone.

I cocked an eyebrow at her.

Mgazi: I know I know. I don’t have a phone.

“Bad” Words at the Beach

Zaffron at beachI was recently asked to give a 2-minute testimonial at a church service. The topic was how the church’s Religious Education program had impacted our family. Of course,  I spoke for 5 minutes.

Here it is:

Russell and I have been attending the First Unitarian Church of Honolulu for twelve years. We first got involved in our church’s Religious Education (R.E.) program many years ago, when we were leaders of the youth group. It was a humbling experience. Each Sunday I would leave after an hour or so of “teaching” the teens feeling as though I gained so much more than I could ever give. I remember the Youth Sunday the year we were youth group leaders. After the kids had done their thing during the service and it was time for the congregation to respond, I stood up and told those kids the most honest thing I had shared with them all year. I said, “When and if Russell and I have children, nothing would please us more than to have them turn out half as wonderful as any of you.”

So, now, we have kids. Two. Zaffron, who’s about to turn seven, and Mgazi, also known as Lulu, who just turned five. Both love coming to church and are soaking up all that R.E. has to offer them. Just last week, I was in my bathroom, brushing my teeth, getting ready for work when Zaffron walked into the room and said, “I don’t think I believe in God.” It wasn’t an announcement. She wasn’t proclaiming anything significant. It was conversational. Apparently, this had been rattling around in her head and this is what popped out. Of course, I immediately started hyperventilating. I grew up Baptist. Twelve years of being a Unitarian didn’t erase the fear of God in me.

When the nausea passed, however, I was filled with pride.  I’m pretty confident that none of Zaffron’s R.E. teachers told her there’s no God.  Instead, they shared with her facts, and history, and stories, and details of religions around the world and here at home, and most importantly, our U.U. principles, and this is what she decided based on the information she was provided. R.E. is helping my daughter become a critical thinker.

What's the Big Secret?Our church’s R.E. program is not parked solely in the realm of religion. It also offers a groundbreaking human sexuality program called O.W.L.—Our Whole Lives.

We enrolled Zaffy when she was five years old into this program. She learned the medically appropriate terms for body parts, the different forms that families can take, what’s appropriate behavior and what’s not, how to stay safe, and, somewhat to my dismay at the time, but now my relief, how babies are made… down to the very… last… detail.

Mgazi at the beachRussell often takes our daughters to Kaimana Beach on Saturdays. One of the girls’ favorite things is to rinse off in the showers after an energetic morning of swimming and playing in the sand. They’ll run ahead of Russell, leaving him behind to collect the towels and toys. They jump under the falling water of the showers, completely unaware that other beachgoers may have been waiting for their turn.

One of the girls will invariably turn around and yell across the beach to my husband who is still gathering their things, “DADDY, SHOULD WE RINSE OUR VULVAS?”

[Don't believe I said "vulva" in church? I've got video proof!]

This is what we get out of this church’s R.E. program. Children who are unafraid to speak their minds. Children who analyze information that they are given and make their own decisions. I realize that both of my examples of how R.E. has impacted our lives convey a mixture of horror and pride. But to me, this is a good thing. My kids are becoming independent thinkers, in no small part due to our church’s R.E. program. And any good independent thinker is going to provoke a variety of emotions in the people they interact with.

I’m thrilled that my Mgazi and Zaffron get the opportunity to participate in our R. E. program. I’m even more thrilled that they are well on their way to becoming just as wonderful as the teens that Russell and I had the privilege to learn from ten years ago.