Posted by: Lizabeta | September 2, 2008

White Balance

In a perfect example of “What Does White Balance Mean?”: A display of energy saving lightbulbs of different sorts. This is a photo I took at the California State Fair;  

A Display of Energy Saving Light Bulbs at the California State Fair
White Balance; Taken with a Canon Rebel XTi, 1/640 sec. f/5.6; 200 ISO. 

 The room was actually very brightly lit; these ‘floating boxes’ are actually inset into a large white room partition. I’ve done nothing to enhance this photo at all.

White Balance ; an explanation.


Posted by: Lizabeta | July 19, 2008

Act III of Dr. Horrible! Nooo! Not Penny!


Oh Joss! How could you do it? Why??? Why did it have to end like that?


I wanted him to get the girl.


Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog in three acts is available for FREE until July 20th. See it here:

After that… you’ll have to wait for the DVD or purchase it on Itunes. Or just purchase it now.

Posted by: Lizabeta | July 17, 2008

Cause every little boy should catch a tadpole

…and have a frog!

A few months ago, when the weather was just beginning to warm up, we went to a park with a lake and caught some massively huge bullfrog tadpoles. We have a horse-trough-turned-backyard-pond with lilies and goldfish and its own little ecosystem. We thought it could use a new inhabitant. In went seven large tadpoles the size of large egg yolks. The scurried around, dipped underwater and I didn’t see them for several weeks. I thought perhaps our crawdads ate them or they just couldn’t stay near enough to the surface to stay warm or get enough oxygen.

But lo and behold! One morning I step onto our back porch and what is looking at me but my own tiny little kermit, sitting on a lily pad just like all good frogs should! Since then, we’ve created a secondary small pond with plants and it’s own stock of live food (mosquito fish are plentiful in both bodies of water). A new frog crawled out of the water last week and this morning we have yet another new frog! Two frogs are in the large trough and one has been relocated to a less cannibalistic atmosphere. He just doesn’t know what kind of lucky frog he is!

It's not that easy being green

It's not that easy being green

Tank Brothers

Tank Brothers

If I can't see you, you can't see me

If I can't see you, you can't see me

I moved this to a blog of its own! Enjoy!

Posted by: Lizabeta | July 13, 2008

Fear and Regrets

Last night, looking for something in my garage, I happened upon the large stack of papers that are all my court documents from when my son was small.

I understand my son’s father’s reaction to things better now than I did. Court proceedings can get ugly. Really ugly. I wish more steps had been taken previous to filing custody papers. Such a panic, to be served with court papers. Such a panic to think a judge has 5 or 10 minutes to decide the fate of your child on a He Said She Said basis. Pray for family judges. They don’t go into that field with a desire to wreck families but to help them. Their job is a great burden.

The papers said my son would be visiting his grandparents every other weekend. A practice I had put an end to after about four or five visits when they made it clear they would not respect my wishes or give me easy access to my son (I was still nursing). They were the only people my son ever showed any intense stranger anxiety with. And with him not being able to communicate yet, I had to do what I thought was in his best interest.

That is the over simplified version, but going into the nitty gritty details is… heart wrenching to me… and not the point of my post.

I wanted my son to have a relationship with his father. I trusted his father. Even when he was angry at me and had filed custody proceedings to restore his parents visits with my son, I still trusted *him*. I did not trust his parents. These were the people that had offered to pay for my abortion. I was younger and more reactionary. Being taken to court and being told by a judge I had to leave my child with someone I didn’t trust… Dear God, the level of panic…

I fought, as hard as I could. I still think the judge errored and the law clearly stated I could, as my son’s custodial parent, choose to deny the grandparents visitation. I spent hours researching. I had law and precedent on my side. But still, the visits were ordered. My son came home with a bruise on his back. Still the visits were ordered… I would have to take pictures after my son was injured, something that hadn’t occurred to me in time.

I did something desperate. I have mixed feelings about it now. I had run across a journal page his father had given me. It talked about his father hitting him when he was younger. I brought it into court. They couldn’t take it as evidence, she said.

But the grandparents stopped exercising their right to visitation. Too busy, something came up they said. Next court date, they withdrew their case. Did not want to face false accusations of child abuse, they said.

By bringing in that journal entry… such mixed feelings right now. I betrayed what small amount of trust that was left between my son’s father and I. I entered into court documents the fact that he had admitted, outside his family, that his father hit him as a kid. I’m sure his parents weren’t pleased with him about that. I betrayed the trust he had shown me by giving me the journal to begin with.  Personal, private thoughts, aired publicly and against him.

My only defense is, my son was small, unable to communicate. It was my job to protect him. Not being able to determine for myself what went on behind their doors… I could only go on the evidence presented to me. My son’s intense anxiety at being left with them, their disregard for my wishes, putting me down in front of family and friends, the history I knew existed, the bruise on his back.

Very mixed feelings. Regret. But feeling forced into a corner, my tiny son behind my legs, feeling like he was going to be snatched away from me, possibly hurt, needing to protect him. I lashed out with the only feeble claw I had. Still, deep regret. I know his father wanted a relationship with his son. I never wanted to interfere with that. By breaking that trust, I did. Disgusted and betrayed by me, he has not seen his son since. I understand my part in that. I wish things had gone differently, many steps of the way. I wish that, even if he is still justifiably angry at me, that he understood…  just a little…  I did what I did out of a deep desire to protect our son. I wish he knew too, how much I regret it. I wish I could go back now and use my older level headed self to tell my younger stupider skittish self that there are other ways to handle situations.

My son is at an age now where he can communicate. He’s ten. He’s articulate, he has a large vocabulary and I am blessed that he speaks his mind rather than misbehaves to act out what is frustrating him. He tells us, point blank, if something is bothering him. At this point, my son could say, “I don’t want to go there. I don’t feel comfortable.” or “Yes! Grandma’s house!” He has the ability to call me on his own if something is wrong. He knows my rules and he respects them, even when I am not present.

I would feel comfortable, now, sending him to visit. But that is not likely to ever happen. I regret that too. I’m sorry.

Posted by: Lizabeta | July 11, 2008

The State of Night and Day in California

Come visit Sunny and Smoke Filled California! Home of the Unseasonally Early Harvest Moon!

I took these today, July 11th, with my Canon Rebel Xti. Cropped them a bit, but no other editing has been done to them.


Everyone else seems bothered by the air quality. I just think it makes things look pretty.

I also think that if you took a napsack of smores, grahams and some chocolate and a stick… you’d be able to make yourself a snack right quick as soon as you came across the nearest fire.

Posted by: Lizabeta | July 11, 2008


You’ll have to forgive me for taking so long to write my own self assigned assignment. I was working on an essay about my driving anxieties and got majorly sidetracked by life. My teenage daughter, normally a mild mannered, high achieving, organized and all around well balanced daughter was discovered drinking and making out with some boys recently. Dissapointed, angry, scared for her… those do not begin to describe the feelings that went through us.

Scared for her is the overwhelming emotion. Anger and occasional disspointment are a given when it comes to parenting. Scared for your child is an emotion that you try to put into the background. Worried for your child as they learn to walk and occasionally fall down, but you stuff your fear back and let them take those steps. Your heart races as they learn (and think its funny) to run away from you. You heart stops when that direction is a busy street. Excitement, sadness and a little bit of fear accompany you, like a uninvited third party, down the hall on the way to the first day of school. Your Kindgartener’s tiny hand in yours, both of you gripping tightly to each other.

The fear is pushed back, though worry for your kids is a constant background presence. Let it overwhelm and you live a life of anxiety and create unhealthy children. You have to let them take those steps, learn how to use a sharp knife, how to wash dishes without breaking them. You have to learn, eventually, how to let them out of your sight… how to trust them.

My daughter, in the middle of this hullabaloo, accused us of driving her to it by not ever truely trusting her. A child’s view of the world. We have the gall to ask where she is going, what she is doing and when she is coming back. Even roommates generally let each other know such things. I explained that we have not checked up on her in person. We don’t track her through various GPS devices you can purchase. As an A student, when she says she’s done her homework I don’t demand to see it. She’s earned that trust. I don’t nag her in her chores, because she does them on her own. She couldn’t really give me any other examples of why she doesn’t feel trusted.

Up until this point, my dear, it was not you that I didn’t trust. It was the rest of the world. Up until this point, you have made good choices, you have earned our trust and the privledges that go along with it. You’ve had it, until you blew it, then lied about it. It was the rest of the world I did not trust to treat you well. And you, with only 15 short years of experience with people who love you, cannot understand that the rest of the world will not be as kind with you. Our questions, precautions, concerns were because we love you. We stifled our fears, knowing you would have to grow up and break away, and let you out… because you had earned that trust. Just like we stayed silent that first day of school. Just like we didn’t cry out, “Just let me cut it for you,” while taking over the knife. We let you.

We find out she was drinking and making out with a boy on a dare. A boy that she did not want to be making out with.  It was like watching the two year old run onto the freeway and not be able to stop them. By some miracle, she was not hurt… this time. Laughing on the other side of four lanes, she felt she had got away with something. But she hadn’t. She’s busted. Grounding is useless, a punishment that is helpful for backtalking… at this point would only have her ticking off days till it was done. And truely, I know that if she is determined to make bad choices, I cannot stop her. I cannot lock her up day and night, dragging her from class to class. She will have ample opportunity between now and moving out to make choices for herself, good or bad.

And so, her punishment is primarily education. Research and reports on alcohol, blood alcohol levels (a cup of rum in a 98lb body and she thinks she was in control of her faculties), the risk of alcoholism in young drinkers. Another report on date rape drugs, gang rape and mob mentality or “How things go from good to terrible in a group of people and why no one steps in to stop it.” She will also be experiencing observed random drug testing between now and exiting high school. “I cannot stop you from making bad choices. But I will catch you.”

In three anxious days between knowing she was busted and receiving her punishment from her Four Parent Unit (dad, stepmom, mom and stepdad) she was quite despondent. I’m sure she felt like her life was going to be over. And so we return full circle to the Fear. The graphics were drawn on her whiteboard before we went to meet with her mom and stepdad. Before she heard the Punishment. From her mom’s house, she left for grandmas for two weeks. She was actually in a very good mood post-sentencing. She had a number of Ah-Ha moments of understanding that evening. From how we actually had trusted her (past tense), to how much we love her and were scared for her, to finding out that we do have boundaries and we will enforce them… she seemed to feel a lot better.

Unhappy times

Unhappy times

But I walked back into her room and I find these horrible notes. Good bye forever, bullet to the heart, life is over, suicide=totally…    and the panic strikes me. The Fear. The Fear above all Fears.

I’ve been assured by the Other Half of our parental unit that no such notes or indications were made at the Other house. But no chances… she’ll be getting professional help shortly. If it was an attempt at pity to get us to lighten the sentence… well, that’s not going to work since we see the sentence as light to begin with. (No bedroom door, no internet access, and standard grounding for one month. Three months of friends at our house only. Random drug testing. And most importantly, the reports.) It could be a real cry for help, and a professional can help with that.

There are some fears you can push back, swallow, hold your breath. This isn’t one of them.

Posted by: Lizabeta | June 26, 2008

You once said…

He writes,  

 I remember writing once, when I was in high school or college,

“Let me be a child forever. Then I’ll be ready.”


I remember when you wrote this. I remember feeling frustrated that I was being forced to grow up. I remember thinking that you would never lose your child-like wonder at the world and admiring you for it and being frustrated at the same time that Immaturity might go hand in hand with it.


A few years after I wrote that, I thought the statement was made out of my desire to remain immature and avoid responsibility, but I realize again the spirit in which I first wrote those words. I’m at a point in my life at which I am comfortable and confident in my abilities as an adult (which is not to say that I don’t have room for improvement) AND I’m not ashamed to wonder about the world as a child would, even if it makes people at the party wonder if I’m having a good time. I really am having a good time.


This weekend I found myself having fun catching fireflies with the seven and under crowd while the adults hung out inside and talked and drank and laughed.  Sometimes I find that I’m more comfortable with children than I am with people my own age.


See a previous post I wrote regarding how easy it is to be You around a child.


I think it may be that children aren’t afraid to ask certain questions about the world, and I don’t mind discussing those questions.  Adults seldom have the patience for conversations that start with “Which bugs like it when you scream?” or “…he’s half Thing, half Superman, half Human Torch, half Iron Man, half Hulk, half Invisible Woman, and half Spider-Man.”


Its so hard for me to see you ponder these things and wonder what life might have been like for my son if you had realized them earlier.  Since I can’t really see the outcome of his life in the future, I just have to hope that your absence doesn’t not become a black hole in his life. Your older brother, how did he fare without your dad? Thoughts of him hang over me like a black cloud.


I feel, at times, a Tug of War going inside of me. Pulling on my left arm is a desire to see the best for my child. That truly means that he knows his parents care about him. A ferocious desire, not to see him happy all the time, but to see him grown into a well balanced adult. My right arm is being tugged by Guilt. Guilt that I made the choice and you had to live with it. Not quite to the same extent that I live with it, but still… there was no ability on your part to make a choice. By my actions, your life was changed.


Do I speak up now? Do I let you continue to ponder life, children, responsibility, the things you wrote to me years ago? Do I show you what I’ve written here? Would it make a difference? Frozen in fear, much like in my dreams. I do not know if reading my posts might make you reconsider or if it would push you further away. And so I do nothing.


Just last night, my husband said, as my son did the ‘worm’ on the floor, even though he kept hitting his chin and it hurt… “Sometimes, I just don’t get that boy.” And I wonder, as I always have, if the person whose genetics have contributed to my sons animation and enthusiasm for life might understand him.




Posted by: Lizabeta | June 7, 2008

Fathers Day Reflections

My husband and I were married on the day before Fathers Day. Not on purpose, it was just the weekend most folks were available. Unable to bear the thought of leaving the kids alone (we each brought one to our relationship) we decided to bring them along on our Honeymoon. We went to Monterey Bay and spent the week. Frankly, we both just have more fun hanging around our kids. They are exuberant little creatures and its just easier for us to get childishly excited about the world when they are. An aquarium is just more fun when you turn a corner and see a shark and you hear “OhMiGod! That’s AWEsome! Mommy! Look! A shark! … <smaller voice> It can’t get out, right?” We went kayaking and saw sea otters, seals, lots of seaweed. We ate tasty food and just strolled around. We played in the sand. We just had lots of fun. And what are we two sticks in the mud going to do without our kids? Read? Shop? We probably would have gone kayaking but I doubt we would have played in the sand, looked for tidepools, waited patiently for a chance to hold a starfish or crab.

One of the things that I found most attractive about my husband was his commitment to his daughter and his unwillingness to let his ex bully him into letting her go. She seemed only interested in what child support she might be able to get and he was more worried about what environment she was in. She drew out his divorce for more than two years and generally he was stressed out that entire time. But he stuck with it, refused to sink to her level, dealt with her in a ‘business like manner’. And eventually, we were awarded primary custody. He took the high road and I’m proud of him for it.

Eight years into our relationship and four years into our marriage, my husband still maintains that desire to do right by his kids even when it doesn’t make his life easy. He wants to teach them to do what is right, not just fun. His quality time is not all fun and games, though there is a lot of that. He sees quality time as truly being a parent and not a friend. I’m so thankful for that as I look around and see so many families with children who are out of control because their parents do not take a firm stance on backtalking, attitude, and truthfulness.

I saw a mom the other day tried to steer her daughter towards a phone that was within her budget. Good move I thought, quietly. Then her daughter threw a fit and demanded a good phone. A phone with lots of bells and whistles. The one the daughter had in mind all along. There was no rational discussion about pros and cons and why her choice might be a better fit. There was just temper and greed. And the mom backed down.

My man would never let himself be treated with such disrespect, nor has he ever allowed our children to treat me with that kind of disrespect. Any such temper tantrums have always been met with a solid wall and a simple statement. “Your attitude has just made it impossible for me to give you what you want. Even if I wanted to get it for you, I can’t now. And now you’ll never know.” There are no angry yelling matches, no beaten children, no slammed doors in my house. We have a teenage daughter who knows how to pick her battles and she knows how to fight them well. My husband taught her that.

My husband plays strategy games with my son. Quality time, math lesson, forethought and good sportsmanship all wrapped up in a Sci-Fi package. Genius.

My husband was given about the worst example of a father you could get. With no tools, no good example, no beaten path to walk on, he’s done damn well. I am proud of my husband.

J.Solty’s Blog has given me much to think about over the past few months. I had been aware of the mirror and smoke antics of feminisim before I found his blog. I did not know that there was an actual movement to describe in detail the hypocrasiy of feminism. Two of his recent posts were about fathers day. They kind of sparked this post. On Fathers Day, of all days, there is just too much negative about men. I highly encourage you to read his blog and really let yourself picture the other side of the coin. So many things women do and say that would ruin a man if he dared to utter them. Well, this man is standing up and drawing a line. He is not allowing himself to be treated with disrespect. The existence of two genders does not have to mean one putting the other down. No one has to step on someone else to become somebody. No where have I seen that written as eloquently as in J.Solty’s Blog.

Posted by: Lizabeta | May 24, 2008

Who gets a gift???

My son turns 10 on Monday. 10 years old. A decade. 10 years ago, on a Monday, I was in a lot of pain. He was taking his first breaths. 10 years ago.

Now how is it that I owe HIM a birthday present on this notable anniversary? Shouldn’t he be buying ME gifts? What an odd tradition we have. A child rips its mother apart, has her screaming in agony in a intense premonition of what the rest of parenting might be like.  To commemorate this occasion, every year, we give the child gifts. All the child has done is eat, sleep, grow, and stay cute enough to for its parental figure to continue caring for it.

But since squeezing that little creature out… day and night has been filled with hours of care, food provided, clothes cleaned, places driven, medications administered, hair cut, hours and hours of being held, carried, comforted, entertained.

Why don’t I get a gift on Monday? I like toys.


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