Mommy Soup

How soup for 7 really works.

Hey Ya’ll

It’s been forever and a day since I wrote a blog post.  Things have been a little crazy and up in the air.  The biggest and most obvious change is that I’m no longer in California!  Kinda a huge change for a born-and-raised California girl, and I don’t just mean the weather (although it is snowing right outside my window right now).  I’ve always known the phrase “culture shock” and used it to describe newbies to the Bay, but I can now understand what it feels like from the other side.

My New House

My New House

For one, I constantly have to remind myself that the people talking to me are not faking that accent.  Seriously.  I really can’t describe to you what it’s like to hear people honestly talk like this.  The accent ranges from the women on Real Housewives of Atlanta all the way to the cast of Swamp People.  There are times where I have to just smile and nod because I have no idea what they’re saying.  There are contractions of words I never thought would end up smashed together.  Things like “ov-air,” which is supposed to mean “over there.”  Or “ov-top” which is supposed to be a smushed “over top,” a phrase that doesn’t even make any sense to me (it means “on top of”).  And everyone calls my daughter’s pacifier (affectionately referred to as a binky in my house) a plug and feels the need to pull it out of her mouth even though I don’t know them.

And speaking of boundaries, people here don’t lock their doors.  I’ve always thought that was kinda cute and quaint, but there is a very weird side effect…People will let themselves into your house.  Not random people off the street (so far), but people who are coming over to visit.  If someone is invited to your house, they give you a time frame for when they’ll stop by.  It can be anything from a specific time (ex. 6pm) or a general one (ex. “this afternoon”), but that means they’re allowed in your house.  Your guest will then give you a courtesy knock before letting themselves in.  It’s not a big deal unless your spouse hasn’t told you they’re coming.  Few things are more terrifying than coming out of your bathroom to your in-laws standing in your living room.  Or what happened shortly after we got here:

My brother in law, J, told us he’d come over and help us with unpacking.  Super nice, right?  Well, he works late at night through to early in the morning.  We figured he’d go home and sleep before he came over and that we’d see him around noon.  I mean, we had just driven across the country and were in a very new time zone.  We needed to sleep just as much as he did.  Imagine my shock and surprise at hearing my back door open at 7:30 in the morning, followed by a voice saying, “Anthony?  Shaina?  Where are you?”  I had to send my mostly asleep husband out of our room (he was standing right outside our bedroom door) to explain to him that we were all sleeping and to come back later.  I mean, I can’t be mad at him.  He came over to help and he even brought coffee!  But that was my first experience with people letting themselves into my home.

After a few more times of guests walking in my front door virtually unannounced, I’ve gotten better at locking the door.  To be fair, the doors here appear to be designed so that you can’t open them from the inside when you lock them.  It’s very weird and hard for me to remember to go back, after bringing all the kids and our stuff in, and lock the door.  Luckily, my kids are so used to doors that automatically lock behind them that none of them ever approach the door.  There have been no escapes and no escape attempts.

But we gave J an emergency key and he let himself in last night while we were gone.  He was picking up something of his, but it scared the crap out of me to pull up to my house to see all the light on the 1st floor on and my front door open.  The only thing that stopped me from calling the police was seeing his truck in the driveway.  Good thing I like him…

The weather.  I’m from a place known for sun and beaches.  The Bay Area is really temperate, with no major weather changes.  The part that I grew up in never had more than a 30 temperature change from winter to summer.  I’ve never had snow fall in my front yard.  In fact, when it was shockingly cold a few years ago and we got a few inches of snow on the ground overnight, I still had to drive an hour to get there.

That's a very pregnant me in the snow.

That’s a very pregnant me in the snow.

That picture?  That’s me in the snow after a 2 1/2 hour drive from my home in California.  Yes, I’m wearing short pants.  See?  I don’t even know how to dress for the snow!  It was in the 50s there, anyway.  But here?  That’s a different thing.  As I write this, 45 degrees.  That’s the highest it’s been in 2 weeks.  Know what it was yesterday morning?  15 degrees.  A week ago we even got down to 9.  These aren’t even real temperatures to me.  When you can stand in front of your open freezer for warmth, the world has gone mad.  In order to walk to my mail box, I have to dress like I’m going snowboarding.  Actually, that’s wrong.  I used to wear snowboarding pants over a pair of dancer tights, a thermal shirt, and a t-shirt to go snowboarding.  With gloves and a hat, of course.  Here, I’d freeze to death in that.  Over the course of the day, inside my “heated” house, I can actually feel the cold working in from my extremities.  2 pairs of pants, 2 shirts, a sweatshirt, soaks, and slippers and I’m still cold.  It makes no sense at all.

The view from my front door.

The view from my front door.

Everyone keeps trying to re-assure me that this is abnormally cold and that it’s all because of the polar vortex.  My husband keeps joking that I brought it with me.  Whatever it is, it’s cold as hell.  Well, not hell.  Cold as…um…Canada?  I don’t know.  It’s really cold.

But it sure is pretty in the snow.

But it sure is pretty in the snow.

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A lot of people have been writing and posting today about Martin Luther King.  I wanted to put a little bit of a personal spin on it.

When my daughter was in public school for Kindergarten, she came home and told me about what she’d learned for MLK Day.  What she got out of it was, “A king named Martin had a dream and got shot.”  After some prodding, I got her to explain to me that what they had done was listen to a song about him while they colored a picture.  That was the extent of her lesson.  I think that would be disappointing for any parent, but it was downright horrifying for me.  (It was also a major tipping point in my decision to homeschool, but that’s a whole other post.)  You see, my parents were major political and social activists, as well as being a biracial couple in the 70s.  How could I get my daughter (and other children) to understand what a major impact people like Martin Luther King, Jr. had on our family?  After clearing up who he was from an objective perspective (you know, like telling her his real name), I decided to tell her a story that would help make her understand why he was so important.  Later, I told my mom the story and it made her cry.  She told me I should write it as a children’s book.  

Here is what I told her:

“People used to think that people with dark brown skin and people with light skin weren’t equal.  A lot of people even thought that people who looked like Grandpa D [my dad, who is black] shouldn’t be able to marry people who looked like Nani [my mom, who is white].  Martin Luther King was one of the people who thought that was silly.  He would get lots of people together so the could talk about how silly it was and what we could do to get rid of the rules that kept people apart because of their color.  He worked really hard and got lots of people to agree with him.  He gave a super popular speech talking about how he dreamed that, one day, the color of your skin wouldn’t matter.  That what would count would be who you are on the inside and how you treat other people.  It was a beautiful speech and it made a lot of people really think about how silly those old rules were.  But it also made some people really mad.  One day, one of those people shot him and killed him.  But that isn’t the important part of Martin Luther King’s story.  The important part is that he got so many people to think about those silly old laws, that they made new laws.  The new laws said that everyone was the same and that color didn’t matter.  And one of those laws said that black people and white people could get married and start families.  That law is why Nani and Grandpa D could get married and have me!  And without that law, daddy and I couldn’t have gotten married and you kids wouldn’t be here.  So, we celebrate all the things Martin Luther King did to try and make everyone equal because without him, we wouldn’t be here.”

Today, on Martin Luther King, Jr’s Day, I invite you to think in specifics.  It’s easy to think about people like MLK and Malcolm X and their impact in general terms.  Try to think about the tangible things that actually impact you.  My parents couldn’t have married each other before the Civil Rights movement.  Even if I had been born, I wouldn’t have been able to marry my husband.  My dear friend, Robyn, wouldn’t have been able to adopt her beautiful children.  

How would your life be different without MLK?