Thursday, April 23, 2009

What a girl wants

Kira turned thirteen last week and I vowed a week of posts about her, but as you can see that hasn't happened. Not that it would matter to her, since she would be perfectly happy if I never mentioned her on my blog, ever. Apparently there are some people who just don't like having every little detail of their life splattered across the internet for strangers to see. Strange, I know. I would say she's no daughter of mine, but if you saw her tear through a sale rack at Macy's you'd know otherwise.

A few weeks ago Rigel bought Kira an early birthday present. She already knew what it was, but that didn't dampen her excitement as she started to unwrap it. She did it slowly and deliberately, and when she finally had the prize in her hand she looked like a kid who just found out school had been cancelled forever.

"OMIGOD, isn't it beautiful?" She cooed over it for a few minutes before she let any of us touch it. You would have thought there was something priceless in her palm, like the Hope Diamond or the world's last piece of bacon.

A tiara? A shiny new iPod? A bar of solid gold? No, what she was hyperventilating over was her brand new capo, a device that clamps onto her guitar and allows her to change its key. I had no idea what it was, and when I first saw it I thought Rigel had made a horrible mistake and had just given our thirteen-year-old daughter some sort of gynecological instrument.

While she's still determined to go to art school, one of the things that has become very evident is that Kira has a natural gift for music. Where I took seven years of piano lessons and came out of it barely being able to play a chord, Kira spent only a couple of summers taking guitar and has already taught herself how to play a lot of her favorite songs just by using the 'tabs' she finds online. My musical future ended when I played an off-key, mistake-laden version of the theme from 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' that nearly caused my teacher to come at me with a crowbar, and here's Kira plucking away to her beloved Ting Ting's tunes, strumming a few pieces from the "Juno" soundtrack and jamming along to a song from some band called The Kills. So it's safe to say that all of her musical genes have definitely come from Rigel, although the way she curses under her breath and kicks the table when she gets a note wrong? That's totally me.

She's been wanting to learn how to play the piano as well, so our 'big' gift to her for her birthday was a Yamaha keyboard. She doesn't start her lessons until next week, but she's already managed to teach herself the theme from her favorite show, Fringe. I have to say it's so exciting to see her so inspired about something, and I'm hoping she remains this passionate about music as she grows up. This whole thing is a bonus for Rigel as well, since picking out Kira's gifts at Guitar Center is definitely preferable to having to shop for leg warmers at Claires.

And while she's forbidden me to videotape any of her recent performances, I still have this video of her playing guitar to Green Day's Boulevard of Broken Dreams when she was 10. (I can sell it to MTV one day when they ask me for early footage of Kira once she becomes an international recording sensation. I guess I better hang on to that capo - it could pay for my new kitchen someday.)

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Friday, April 17, 2009

LA Moms Blog: I wouldn't know a celebrity if they moved in next door to me

I know I promised a week of posts about Kira, but that'll have to wait until next week since I'm busy preparing for the 20 teen girls who are going to descend on our house tomorrow for her 13th birthday party. So my current post on the LA Moms Blog will have to do. Besides, I thought many of you would probably rather check out a half-naked picture of my good friend David Boreanaz anyways.

Almost thirteen years ago, right after I had my first baby we were living in the Hollywood Hills. Like most new mothers, I spent a freakish amount of time pushing my newborn daughter in her stroller around the neighborhood, partly to let her get some fresh air but mostly to pull myself away from endless hours spent on the couch crying and watching Roseanne reruns.

A couple of times on those walks I ran into a neighbor, David, who had recently moved into a house around the corner from us. He mentioned that he was an actor but I didn’t give it much thought until one day when my nieces, who were tweens then, were at my house watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer and while changing a diaper I happened to glance up at the TV and saw my neighbor on the screen. “Hey, that guy lives two houses away,” I pointed out, gesturing towards the TV with a poop-smeared wipe in my hand. Obviously I had never watched the show and had no idea who this Angel character was, but judging by the ear-piercing, alien-sounding squeals coming from my nieces this David Boreanaz guy was a big deal...Read More...

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Let me tell you about Kira

Kira turns 13 this week, and in honor of her becoming a teenager I'm going to do a week of posts about her. I'm also thinking of relaxing the No Reading My Blog rule, so that she can see what people are talking about when they walk up to her and say things like, "That was so funny what your mom said about you," and "If my mom said those things about me in public I'd DIE." Also, I'm hoping it'll have the exact effect I'm hoping for: after reading a few of my posts she'll never, ever want to to read my blog again. Sort of like the aftermath of seeing your parents push their way onto the dance floor at your cousin's wedding; thanks for the glimpse into your life, but I can really do without ever seeing you two do the Electric Slide again, thank you very much.

mtv-ultimate-fan-gwen-stefani-tweens-teens-teenagersI remember years ago watching a show on MTV about extreme fans, and they were featuring a thirteen-year-old girl who was obsessed with Gwen Stefani. One segment showed her parents taking her to get her hair dyed pink, just like Gwen, and I remember getting all bent out of shape as I was watching it. This was back in my early, first years of parenting, those idealistic years when you tend to say crazy things like, "My kid will never watch TV," and "I'll never pick up my kids from school wearing my pajamas and then lie about it and try to call them my workout clothes."

I mean, what kind of parent lets their minor child change their hair color? Why not just give her a stripper pole and a pair of lucite heels? As far as I was concerned, this was just one step away from a life on the streets. Sure it's just a bottle of hair dye today, but tomorrow you can bet they'll be smoking crack in a back alley and showing up with their 50-year-old boyfriend and your new 'grandchild.'

At least that's what I thought. Until Kira told me she wanted to bleach her hair for her thirteenth birthday, and Rigel and I thought about it for all of two minutes and then said, "Okay." Because here's a kid who gets straight A's, does her homework without having to be told, is polite and respectful and a joy to be around. And in light of all the things she could have asked for as she plunges into teendom, a new haircolor was the least of our worries - we were just happy that she wasn't asking for a ride to the free clinic to pick up some 'supplies,' or asking if some guy she saw perform at a club could come stay with us when he was in town. (Oh wait - she did ask us that one. Stay tuned for Wednesday's post.)

In fact, my thoughts about that MTV show didn't even cross my mind until I was in the salon watching Kira getting her head lowered into the shampoo bowl. It made me think of a few things that I'd want to say to the mom I was back then: Not to worry, that haircolor doesn't make the girl, and Kira is going to grow into such a great kid you'll be happy to let her dye her hair every color of the rainbow.

Oh, and another thing I'd tell myself back then - everyone knows those are your pajamas.

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tags: | teenagers

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

This Easter greeting is brought to you by Kiyomi and her Easter Bunny brownies with the almond ears and whipped cream tails.

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

I don't mind if you just look at the pictures

The current issue of Genlux magazine with my interview with Mischa Barton is on the newsstands. I just want to take this opportunity to say what an awesome experience it's been working with Genlux - such an incredibly talented group of people, putting out an extraordinarily beautiful magazine that I would certainly buy even if I didn't get mine for free. Of course, then I might not be able to afford my weekly People, and who knows how long I'd last without being able to read about Tori Spelling's liposuction.

The spread is based on the 60's British movie Blow-Up, and is shot by renowned photographer Marc Baptiste. Even if you don't read the article, you should check out the photographs which are amazing. Then, when you get tired of looking at Mischa's legs that go on forever or the smooth, nicely toned abs on all the half-naked men, you can drift on over and read my interview.

You can see the pictures and the article here.

Me, I've already read it and am moving on to this week's People - I hear there's an in-depth interview with the middle Jonas brother.

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tags: | genlux magazine

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Sunday, April 05, 2009

News Flash: Rejection Sucks. Especially for 10-year-olds

The letter came yesterday.

Kiyomi never really cares about the mail - in fact she's heard Rigel and I curse enough times when we receive our bills to know that the mailman is really just the grim reaper in an ill-fitting blue uniform. But since she knew the letters had been sent out, she'd been camped out near our mail box all morning. By the time it finally came she could hardly contain herself, but she wanted to wait until Rigel got back from his errands to "share in the moment" as she put it. When he returned a few minutes later and saw us staring at a piece of mail, I'm sure he just figured it was one of his checks and we were figuring out ways to spend it.

Kiyomi's been sick and had woken up with a fever but she said just seeing the envelope had made her feel better. She ran over fingers over the return address before she turned it over, and then she opened it slowly, tearing away the flap and then pulling out the folded piece of paper carefully. Rigel, Kira and I were huddled around her and just watching her face for a clue on what was inside. She started off reading the first sentence, "Thank you for auditioning for the Performing Arts Academy..." but her voice trailed off quickly and then she whispered, "I didn't get in."

She collapsed into sobs, and none of our words or our hugs could comfort her. To make matters worse, she heard a few minutes later that her best friend had gotten accepted, which meant they'd be separated. Could this day get any worse? (Turns out it could, which I found out ten hours later at Target when a heavy plastic pitcher fell from the top shelf and hit me on the head, but that's a story for another time.)

To be honest, I was hesitant about the whole thing from the start. The middle school she'll be attending has a well-known performing arts department, and one of the ways to get in (besides our arbitrary school district lottery known as the Magnet system) is to audition. Prospective applicants are required to do a one-minute monologue, sing a Broadway show tune and perform a series of dance steps. It sounded like a tall order for a ten-year-old, especially since competition would be stiff; many are professionals who already have agents, and there are a few celebrity kids among the student body. (At least one Disney star, and the child of an American Idol judge. The least annoying one.)

For Rigel and I the whole thing was like brain surgery. Coming from a 'non-show business' background, what they were asking for sounded about as easy as being told to juggle a pig and chainsaw while flossing your teeth. We thought it would have been easier if Kiyomi had tried out for the underwater luge team or the varsity log-rolling squad. But she was determined to do it, so we hired an actress friend to work with her a few times a week and we were surprised at how well she did - she could carry a tune, memorized her lines with no problem, and delivered them with just the right amount of sarcasm. It seems all those days prancing around the living room in her panties re-enacting episodes of SpongeBob really were leading to something.

According to her, the audition went smoothly (parents weren't allowed to watch.) So when that rejection letter came today I have to admit it probably hit me as hard as it hit her. And after comforting her for awhile I did what any good mother would do in this situation - I totally blamed myself.

My first thought was wondering whether or not it was wise to let her audition in the first place - who needs rejection at 10 for chrissakes? Leave that for when you're older and it can roll of your bitter, leathery soul with a little more ease. Then I started wondering if it had anything to do with this incident - maybe Kiyomi was blacklisted because her mother was a crazy person who didn't like how her older daughter had been treated and then called three counselors and the principal to complain about it. Oh, and then wrote about it on her blog.

And what if someone there read that blog? (Which is a possibility because I happen to know a few people at the school who do. Hi, few!) I'm imagining the admissions panel coming upon Kiyomi's application, and stapled to it is a note about my complaints and a printout of my blog post. They all look at each other, make that whirling motion with their finger near their temple and then one of them writes across the top of her application in big, red letters GIRL IS OKAY BUT THE MOTHER IS BATSHIT CRAZY -- DENIED.

So what now? She'll still attend the school as part of the regular program, and she's already decided she'd like to apply for the Civics Academy, which deals with politics and government. I pointed out that her success was ensured, since within a twelve hour period she'd gone from being an entertainer to being a politician - just what our governor and one of our presidents has done!

One thing I know for sure - it isn't the last time she'll experience the pain of rejection. Whether from a school that doesn't recognize her talent or some emo boy who decides to dump her for the girl with the pierced tongue, it'll happen again. Our job is just to love her and help her get through it. And today, after I watched her call her best friend to congratulate her on getting accepted, I told her how very, very proud I was of her. And she'll never need a letter to tell her that.

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