Saturday, November 29, 2008

Decking The Halls

The tree is now up. After all of the company left, and we gorged on leftovers- Matt dragged the tree out of the garage. We have had this tree for nine years. Nine years ago, we bought our first house. We didn't have much furniture, or much money, really (what else has changed?) and I remember driving to Sears and convincing the night manager to sell us a floor sample of a seven and half foot Douglas fir for dirt cheap.

Every year, for the last six years- Matt and I think this tree is headed to the dump. It sheds more fake needles than it has on it, and some of the branches are beyond fluffing. All of the lights were stripped off last year, and we wind old fashioned white lights in between spare branches to compensate for its Charlie Brownishness.

My Mom taught me a nifty trick that enables this tree to live on. After you get the lights on, and before you do anything else- do yourself a favor and go buy a slew of cheaply colored glass balls. Hang them on the INSIDE of your tree- in the center. This adds depth to the whole shebang- kind of like a collagen injection for your Meg Ryan of a tannebaum. 

So, every year, after I string the lights on, and fill up the inside branches with balls, and drape the garland on, and then load it up with my cherished baubles- the tree doesn't look half bad. It looks pretty good, really. So, we give the tree a reprieve, dim the lights and go watch "A Charlie Brown Christmas" special. Because out of all of the Charlie Brown christmas trees in the world, ours is the Charlie Browniest.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Feeling Grinchy

I love my family, I really, really do. But I also believe in 2 things:

1. There is an old Irish wives tale that goes something like this: After three days, fish and guests stink. Three days is about the limit I, and my guests can take before the very sound of everyone's breathing gets on everyone's nerves.

2. Family is God's way of reminding you that He has a sense of humor. Think about it. If you weren't related, would you really know these people? And would they know you?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pumpkin Pie, Anyone?

My father-in-law and his wife are in town for Thanksgiving. During dinner last night, my girls decided to tell their "stories." They have 2 stories they like to tell, because they think they are funny. Usually, a stranger cannot understand their renditions, because my girls laugh so hard when they tell them.  

The first story is when we were walking to the park this summer, and about halfway there, Lucy discovered she wasn't wearing underpants. The second story is when we were riding in the car and Britney Spears' new song came on. The girls first asked if it was a boy or a girl singing, and then asked if it was a boy or a girl frog that was singing. That's about the extent of their yarn spinning.

Until last night. After we heard the no-underpants tale FOUR times, Lucy piped up with something new. "I'm going to tell a story about poopie." she uttered, in her high pitched mouse-voice.

Matt and I looked at each other- wondering if the other one had heard this before.  Before we could tell her poopie stories don't go over well at the dinner table, she started speaking.

"Once, I was in the bathroom with my Daddy, and I told him his poopie smells like apples."

We are now changing the dessert menu for Thursday.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

We Interrupt This Blog for a Product Endorsement

You guys have to check this out:

Way back when, before I had kids, or stretch marks or knew the entire schedule of Noggin verbatim- I worked in a magical land called New York City. I ate bagels, I rode the subway and I got to work as an assistant buyer for an amazing woman that designed Christmas trees from scratch. She would begin her story boards in January- and anything could inspire her. I remember one year when a photograph of Nicole Kidman's beaded Indian dress for the Oscars inspired a whole line of tree skirts. 

I learned a lot. About Christmas ornaments (Italian ones are my favorite- from an old family outside Florence-). I learned the proper way to decorate a tree (garland first, then ornaments- put large ornaments on the bottom, smaller ones on top). But I also learned how to work- hard. But even though the work was tough- we had fun

Melissa is an artist- through and through. She has an amazing sense of color and design, and her Christmas tree shop was, without a doubt, the best in the city. It was always fun to go to vendor showrooms, and watch her negotiate exclusive designs, or special events. Our ornaments would arrive in the summer- and unpacking the sample boxes was like reliving Christmas morning, again and again.

Anywhoo- Melissa has now struck out on her own. She's created an exclusive line of ornaments that, sadly, are hard to come by these days. (Don't be fooled by glass ornaments made in China. The paint is tinny, and shapes pedestrian). She celebrates the workmanship of European glass blowers- and creates special, unique works of art.

She also almost convinced me one of our vendors worked for the Mafia. But that's a story for another time.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Annie, yesterday you turned five. Five whole years have passed, since you joined our family with your chubby cheeks, and your know-it-all expression. As a baby, you looked like a 1930's kewpie doll- with perfectly formed little lips, big brown eyes- and cheeks that went on forever.

Now, you are sprouting up into a little girl- it is getting harder and harder to find the baby in you. In the past year, you have matured. Last year, we couldn't call you Annie. You were Peter Pan or Pooh Bear- but never, ever Annie. Now, you've settled into your skin and revel being just who you are. You love having your own room, and will sit in your rocking chair, blasting Winnie the Pooh music and read your books. Yes, you are reading. You got to bring your worn out copy of "Fat Cat That Sat On The Mat" and read it to your class yesterday. You loved sitting in the teacher's chair.

You love to set the table. You love to hug your puppy. You love to cook with me. Your favorite game is to pack a pretend suitcase, and sit on the stairs- pretending it is an airplane. You will sit at the kitchen table, and write lists, or draw pictures when I make dinner. You love to go to the library and check out books (your Moffat's book is almost overdue, by the way). You still love to watch Caillou, the occasional Max and Ruby- but your new favorite show is about a dog named Kipper. You ride your bike for hours, with George trotting next to you. 

You've become a real help with your sister. After you figured out you could get M&M's too, you were solely responsible for potty training Lucy last April. You learned to swim last spring- and look forward to starting up your lessons again soon. You started a new school, and quickly became the alpha-girl of the class. Sometimes I feel like I'm entering preschool with Elvis. 

You are much more sensitive now- surprisingly, much more emotional. I'm still trying to navigate this with you, and truthfully, we have a long way to go before the hormones kick in at twelve. 

Happy, happy birthday my girl. Five years feels like a nano-second, and truthfully, I can't remember what my life was like before you.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Home Run

We are home. Our puppy is back with us. I feel a bit guilty--- not only did he get his boy parts snipped, but he was thrust in the middle of a natural disaster and evacuated to a seedy part of town (he spent the night in an animal shelter- I'm lucky he didn't come home with a veneral disease and a meth habit). 

The trip was awesome. The girls were really good on the plane. I will be happy if I never have to play another game of Uno for as long as I live, but whatever will keep them occupied. It was GREAT seeing all of our friends- but it was also surreal. It was slipping right back into our old life, and then I would have flashes where I would worry about my puppy, or wonder how things back here were going. It's confusing to still be in a state of transition where nowhere really feels like home yet. 

Madonna was incredible. Worth every penny we forked over for the tickets. We had dinner beforehand, and splurged on tapas and sangria- and then continued the party with wine and beer at the concert. Our seats were next to a large contingent of gays that flew in from Arkansas. We became good friends throughout the 4 hour event. (She started an hour and a half LATE, which would be annoying if you weren't tanked and ripping on everyone's fashion sense with a gay back up dancer from Arkansas that told me Raven Simone was a C&^%.) People did wear lace wedding outfits- complete with veils and lace hot pants. There was your quota of drag queens, lots of lace fingerless gloves, but sadly, no cone bras. 

As for the show- we had to keep reminding ourselves that she is really fifty. She wears these incredible lace up boots, with high, high heels- yet despite this she does squat jump after squat jump and the first half of the show was all up beat, dance-your-lace hotpants-off stuff that had my heart rate going gangbusters and I was just sitting in a chair, clapping my hands, burping up sangria. She is clearly pissed at her soon-to-be ex-husband, and working out her issues on stage as opposed to therapy. Lucky for us! 

I'm glad to be back, glad my dog is not burned to a cinder and ready to jump right into Annie's birthday (Thursday) and my father-in-law arriving (Friday). It's going to be a week.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


1. Kid is still sick.
2. Kids are, surprisingly, sleeping ok.
3. First car rental car company gave me was broken. I knew it.
4. But the worst, by far- is that there is a wild fire going on right next to where we live. We have opened our empty home to family members that needed to evacuate. Unfortunately, the animal hospital where our puppy is staying was too close to the fire, and no one could go pick him up. I got the call that he was evacuated at 2am- and now have no idea where he is. 

Thursday, November 13, 2008

And She's Off

We are off tomorrow- for 3 fun-filled days in Houston, visiting old friends. Because I'm me, and the universe is aware of this, I am fairly certain the following will happen:

1. A kidlet will get sick. Actually, this has already happened. Knowing this will happen, I proactively scheduled a doctor's appointment and got my daughter's bronchitis diagnosed, so we would we be well on our antiobiotic way, and not contagious. It will still be joyous to watch folks on the airplane try and hide their disgust when my daughter coughs up her lung on their honey roasted peanuts.

2. My kids will not sleep. I am actually, very nervous about this. We are staying with the gold medal Olympians of sleep. They nap, willingly, with CLOSED DOORS. My kids jump on couch cushions and say things like "Me No Need Sleep! Me Stay Awake All Hours!" We are going to be very popular house guests.

3. In preparation of the 3 day insomnia fest, I have rented a car to provide easy means for me to escape when my kids get crazy. Nothing means business faster than Mommy strapping you in your carseat for a torturous ride along one of Houston's Bayous. And I will sing "It's A Small World" for the ENTIRE ride. 

4. The car rental place will screw up. In some fashion or another, either I won't have a reservation, or the expensively rented "carseats" will really be vomitous stacks of playing cards that have been covered in cheap felt with "pretend" seat belts. I'm on to you, Budget Rent-A-Sleaze.

In other news, we dropped George off at the vet for the ol' "Snip Snip" to occur while we are away. (Yes, I am chickenshit enough to do this when I am boarding him- what of it?). We are having a micro-chip installed in his neck while he is sleeping, so that if he is ever lost they can drop him off at the closest DSW for his next snack.

The house is strange without the puppy here. We are reveling in the emptyness, and living dangerously by carelessly and recklessly leaving our shoes strewn about. We know how to live, people.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ladybug Ladybug Fly Away Home

We finally did it. We had a Pump It Up party yesterday. 26 kids from both of their classes joined Annie and Lucy for a joint birthday party. I heart joint birthday parties. After all of the work of getting them to agree on the same theme (ladybugs) it saved us a bunch of moola. 

I had a lot of fun with this year's cake. Yet again, I opted to use the Barefoot Contessa birthday cake recipe, but snagged Magnolia Bakery's buttercream frosting. It was a half sheet pan, frosted white. I used Oreo cookies as the center of sunflowers, and piped golden yellow petals around each of em'. Adding gummy leaves, and some green grass- I then piped red M&M's with chocolate frosting and glued them to the Oreos. Instant ladybugs! I'll post a picture once I get them downloaded.

After the party, when all I wanted to do was enter a sensory deprivation chamber, I had to schlep the kids up to school to register them for the next round of "enrichment" (i.e. expensive) after school stuff. Annie got the last spot in ballet, and Lucy is going to do a storytime dress-up, craft making thing. 

Today, we're meeting some grandparents after school to see the new Madagascar flick. I think I'll use the 90 minutes to catch up on some sleep.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


When one of the kids gets a stomach bug- this intense sense of dread overwhelms me. I'm constantly waiting for the next round of puking- watching like a hawk for signs of illness in any other family members. I lay there, when the house is sleeping, with one hand on a bucket and the other on a pile of towels, ready to go.
The other day, I started to feel bloated, but chalked that up to Halloween candy. At about 3am, I suddenly realized I was in for some good times. To give a bit of history, I'm the Linda Blair of stomach flus. When I puke, it sounds like demons are escaping my body- and no matter how hard I try, I can't quell the violent wretches that riot the house.

It really freaked my kids out. By 6:30am, I called my mother, and begged her to come get the kids. Annie had her fingers in her ears, and was in her rocking chair, crying. Lucy kept asking if she could come in the bathroom and see what was going on. My Mom got there by 9am, whisked the kids away, and left me to an eerily quiet house, with CNN on the television and a naughty puppy trying to get my attention by eating a round of shoes. 

I did nothing more than drift in and out of sleep, in between bouts of Excorcist impersonating- aging approximately 85 years in one afternoon. By the time Matt got out of 2 very big cases and headed home, he had started with the feverish chills. 3 down, one more person to go. 

Sunday, November 2, 2008


We were supposed to have a ridiculously busy day. Starting with a birthday party, a quick trip to Disneyland to visit with friends and ending the day with a block party with our neighbors- all of that is now on hold.

At about 11pm last night, Lucy got sick. Really, nasty, sick. Chalking it up to Halloween overindulgence, I cleaned her up and went back to watching the movie, "Orange County." Before they even make it up to Stanford, she was sick again. And again. And again. 

We are now snuggled on the couch, in front of a fire, watching Audrey Hepburn in "Funny Face." As sick as she is, Lucy still perked up during the color pink dancing scene. A ridiculously busy day has turned ridiculously cozy.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Day of the Dead

I am dragging today. Just got back from a Halloween blow-out at my parents' house. Matt had to (sadly) work most of yesterday, so I took the kids up to see my folks. We did some trick-or-treating, and then went to their club for a Halloween party.

My parents have a group of friends that meet for dinner every Friday night. These guys are hilarious, and can party more than your average fraternity boy. But my girls put them to shame. They danced. They boogied. They did the cha-cha slide, the hokey pokey, some random toddler disco moves and refused to leave some poor woman-dressed up as Tigger alone. 

The best part? My Mom always gets up early and took Annie and George off for some fun while Lucy and I slept until 9:30. That has not happened in years. And it felt really, really good. We left for home this afternoon, just in time for my folks to rally before hosting 16 people for bridge. I realized this weekend that my parents' social life outruns mine by a lot.