Books, Dr. Suess Birthday, Kids, PBS Kids, Read Across America

Five Ways to Celebrate Dr. Seuss’ Birthday

That big blue book

With the big cat

In the funny hat… 

is a fond reminder of my childhood and later, motherhood. 

With three kids, Dr. Suess was a household name, not only in my family but millions of readers throughout the years. 

Theodore Suess Geissel (Dr. Suess) began his career cartooning in 1927 for The Saturday Evening Post. He is the author of 46 books, documentaries, and short animated films. 

A two time Academy and Emmy Award winner and Pulitzer Prize recipient , Dr. Suess even has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. 

His legacy is celebrated on March 1st and 2nd, 2013, and marks his 109th birthday (March 1).

In the spirit of this poem, here are five ways to celebrate Dr. Suess’ birthday:

1. Read Across America Poem

You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild,
To pick up a book and read with a child.
You’re never too busy, too cool, or too hot,
To pick up a book and share what you’ve got.
In schools and communities,
Let’s gather around,
Let’s pick up a book,
Let’s pass it around.
There are kids all around you,
Kids who will need
Someone to hug,
Someone to read.
Come join us March 1st
Your own special way
And make this America’s
Read to Kids Day

2. Start the day out with the healthy version of Green Eggs and Ham. And then indulge in some yummy desserts and other foods.
3. Throw a party. Make your living room or the kid’s bedroom into an inviting reading area where you can serve goodies from the recipes above, don your huge striped Cat in the Hat hat, and read Dr. Suess books aloud. Here are some more activities for kids. 
4. Attend public readings at your local bookstore, children’s classroom, or the library. No readings? Volunteer to read at K-2 grades. 

5. On Friday, March 1 watch PBS Kids. They are celebrating Dr. Seuss’ 109th birthday with two new episodes of THE CAT IN THE HAT KNOWS A LOT ABOUT THAT!

Now I’m sure with a little imagination you can come up with two or three more ways to celebrate the day. Have a fun day and weekend celebrating. 

Faith, Family, Kids, Parenting, stay at home moms, Women in Prison, Working moms

What I Learned in Prison:Women in Front and Behind Bars #8

by spaceodissy via creative commons

Jeannine, an escapee from corporate life, wrote a guest post for the blog “My Name is Not Bob.” After the birth of her baby she suffered postpartum depression, returned to work, and dealt with the increasing demands of her job. A few years later and after upping her medication to levels the doctor balked at, the doctor asked, “Is this what you really want.” Jeannine decided it was not and quit her job. Find Jeannine’s blog and read some of her other insightful posts. 

After I read her post I reflected on my own dilemmas as a working (outside the home) mother. One of the decisions I made was to delay having kids until I received a promotion and had a regular day shift. For the promotion I had to relocate to another correctional facility. Not only was my husband and I away from family, but we didn’t know a soul in this new urban area.Unknown at the time, was that I was pregnant. If I had known, I wouldn’t have accepted the promotion to Investigator. In the prison the investigator works to solve alleged major disciplinary infractions: stabbings, narcotics, weapons, riots. 

Investigators are called into a scene as soon as the incident is cleared. It can be pretty scary walking prison grounds in the dark and worse going into housing units where a stabbing just occurred. In those days (twenty five years ago) we didn’t have  masks, gloves, or kits a la CSI. It was the ’80’s and the height of AIDS epidemic. 

       I, and women in my situation, just had to deal with it and move on. There wasn’t any sympathy about  pregnancy.

Several scenarios clouded my head about catching a disease or becoming injured while performing my job. My husband wanted us to pack up and go home if I couldn’t get a desk job. I was faced with quitting after five years in a career I loved. If I quit, my husband’s job couldn’t support us. 

               What I learned from working in prison was not to whine, blame or act entitled with supervisors. 

 If I could deal with walking into a bloodied cell, I could talk to my new boss about my feelings of safety during my pregnancy. But first I had to think of a solution for the problem I’d be presenting to him, be direct, and willing to hear what I didn’t want to hear. The plan was to have on duty supervisors take pictures of crime scenes, I’d train them even if it was on my own time. It worked, I’d be behind a desk for the next three months. 

After the baby I went through the depression of the impending return to work. I’d never had anxiety bouts before but I had them now. It seemed that guilt overshadowed every moment, awake or asleep. I prayed through those times and tried to shake it off. How dare I want to go back to work? How dare I leave a little baby with a stranger? It wasn’t just me hearing that in my mind, a few male staff made the remarks too.

                                                    Quit, forget this work, it’s not for women anyway

I decide to ask for three more months off of work. To be off any longer than six months meant I’d have to return to the Academy to re-qualify as a Peace Officer. That would take me eight hours away from home for weeks.

Before I had to return to work, my husband was laid off from his job. It was a blessing. He became a stay at home dad for almost a year before he found another job. By that time I was able to transfer back to our home town and we were able to find a wonderful woman to come to our home each day. I felt less guilty that I didn’t have to take the baby out and that I could depend on my mother to help out in a pinch.

 It worked out but I wouldn’t want to go through that again and I didn’t for another four years. The desire to have another child outweighed the memories of my anxieties with the work dilemma. Again, I was blessed to finagle something my colleagues said would never work: becoming a part time Parole Agent. The warden said if I found another part-timer he’d okay the ‘experiment’ for one year. I did and I was happy, the other mother happy, and our the kids happy.

And that’s the way it went, a patchwork of helping hands, prayer, timing and accommodating supervisors. A few years later I had my last child, kind of late in the game. Years later I divorced and it didn’t make life any easier, but we both tried our best for the kids.

After my retirement (peace officers can retire at 50) I became a single stay at home mom with two kids in high school. I also picked up old journals I had written through the years and decided to take some writing classes, try my hand writing a family history, and then fiction. And although I may regret some of the choices I made, I love every minute of this time in my mom life. 

If you work outside the home how have you dealt with feelings of guilt? What’s your patchwork of helping hands? 

Kids, Travel, Vacations


     Touring parts of Eastern Europe a couple of months ago took a big bite out of the finances. I’m glad I went and loved almost every minute of it, but I don’t think my kids are happy about that trip’s impact on the family vacation this summer.

     So when the question of a family trip out of state came up, I came out with the concept of “stay-cations.” WHAT? Stay-cations? I nodded my head and smiled like it was the best concept since my recipe for Mora Mona’s,(Blackberry Dolls-A play on the Spanish word for blackberries and my nickname). This blackberry puree, vodka, and diet ginger ale drink refreshed me and my friends in the 90% humidity of Costa Rica a couple of years ago. That and floating in the turquoise water of an infinity pool. But, I digress.

     “Yes a stay-cation, where we take mini-vacations here in our own county, without having to stay overnight in a hotel. You know, local fun, ummm, with locals.” My daughter’s eyebrows remained raised, my son ducked his head back behind the computer. “There’s lots of things we can do in this county,” I say, with a disturbingly bright smile that even scared me. It did not lower daughters eyebrows at all.
     “We’ve done everything in this county, we’ve lived here all our life,” daughter said.
     “Did you know we have a lighthouse at the beach, only six miles away?” The brow lower a half a centimeter. “And have you ever gone to Paradise Cove in Malibu?” Brows down, she’s listening.
     “We can get to LA in an hour, can we go there?” daughter asked.
     “Sure, you can plan a trip there for us.” A smile curves up on one side of daughter’s mouth.
     “Mijo, any ideas?”
     Head bobs while he looks at the computer screen. “I liked San Francisco when we went there six years ago. Let’s go back.”
     He did not get the concept of a stay-cation.
     “Local places, or LA or Santa Barbara,” I reiterate.
     “Ah, then no, no ideas.” He puts in his ear phones.

     I forgot about the conversation until today. Daughter read about the Los Angeles County Museum of Art exhibit on Tim Burton. “Can we go?” I nod my head and smile, I’m so proud of her for choosing a museum, until I remember that Tim Burton has those animated movies like Sweeny Todd and Beetlejuice. But I do like Edward Scissorhands.

      Admission is usually reasonable and we can go and come back within a day so I say “Yes.” Then I look at LACMA’s site: admission is $20 bucks apiece, for 17 yrs. and over, which they are and parking is $10. Doors open at noon, so that means we won’t be back on the road until 5 p.m traffic, which means we have to stay later, like 7:30 to avoid said traffic, which means we not only have to eat lunch out but dinner too. And gas is still $3.89 a gallon at Costco. I don’t want to figure out the total right now.
     I think I forgot to mention an important concept in the stay-cation definition. It’s supposed to be low cost, like free hikes to a lighthouse, or in Sycamore Canyon, Malibu & Santa Monica beaches, picnics, bike riding, festivals-that kind of stuff. But it’s too late. Daughter already picked a day that she had free. She tells brother about the Tim Burton exhibit. 
     “Oh, cool,” brother said and bobs his head again. “Can we go to San Francisco on the train? We don’t have to spend money on a hotel, or gas.”
     It appears he did not get the concept of stay-cations either or maybe I need to brush up on my communication skills.