Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Eve of the Eve

I'm in the middle of wrapping presents. My husband is asleep on the couch, the dog is passed out on his bed, and I hope the kids are upstairs sleeping. I'm trying to write Santa Claus in eight different versions of handwriting, and keep tossing presents from pile to pile- trying to even things out.

This year has been a tough one in some ways, a blessing in more. Today at lunch, my 4 year old ate a meatball that was bigger than her head. She giggled about it the entire time. We spent all day yesterday making cookies. Cut out sugar cookies, iced in royal icing, doused in sanding sugar. The only thing preventing the day from becoming a Hallmark movie was my oldest daughter's continuous bouts of gas.

Tonight after dinner- the girls asked if we could read a couple of books from the Christmas basket. A few years ago, I started collecting Christmas storybooks, and I put them in a basket under the tree. (Some folks wrap theirs, but that is way too on top of things for this house). Every night, the girls pick a book for us to read.Tonight, we read the last of our basket books, and my oldest asked if we could sing carols. She insists we "look at the tree" when we sing. Seriously. Next year I'm going to outfit the family in Victorian caroling costumes.

I hope you all have a wonderful, wonderful holiday. Make sure you look at the tree when you sing. Trust me.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Crisis, Averted

Sometimes, I feel like I belong in another era.

I like being a stay at home mom.

I like to cook. And while I don't have my husband's slippers waiting for him when he gets home, with a vodka tonic in one hand and his paper in the other, I'm a tad more traditional than most of my friends. (except politically, which makes me the enigma that I am).

Do you see where this is going? I went to my husband's work Xmas party this weekend. I love his co-workers. I have written about them before. They are, ahem, surgically enhanced. They are beautiful, in a very Southern California, Orange County way. They also have a very, very raunchy sense of humor.

They couldn't wait to tell me how, on a recent business trip to Vegas, they snared the department head's luggage and filled it with g-strings. Then they told me they were planning on giving my husband something similar for Christmas. I like these girls, I really do. But I shook my head and said to them "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?"

My husband would die. Seriously. A hole would open up in the ground and swallow him whole. I gently suggested they move along to the tin of popcorn route. After seeing my face, they quickly agreed.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Oh Come All Ye Crazies

Crikey, time is going fast.

I cannot believe Christmas is this Friday. I'm usually on top of the shopping, and did the majority of Santa's work on November 18th- a night I stayed up late and shopped online. I pulled the stuff out yesterday, and started wrapping. I cracked open the box from American Girl (which should have been dipped in gold, considering how crazy expensive those suckers are) and was horrified to find out they shipped me Josefina, instead of Molly.

No offense Josefina. You look like a nice girl. But your hair isn't in braids, you don't wear glasses AND IF YOUR COMPANY DOESN'T GET YOUR FRIEND MOLLY TO MY HOUSE IN TWO DAYS, I will personally drop your box off at the Los Angeles tea room and make a wee bit of a scene.

In other news, no matter how ready I think I am, I never feel like it's enough. Don't get me wrong- I don't mean to sound insensitive, and I know the economy is hurting and folks are scaling way back (we are too!), but each year- about 2 days before Xmas, my kids ask for something- something they haven't mentioned before (certainly not before Nov. 18th) and I find myself panicking, and looking at their loot and thinking what a disappointment it will be.

This year, aside from the Molly snafoo- Lucy has asked for a Belle doll. I found this out 2 days ago, and despite living in Orange County- there is not a Belle doll to be found. My Disney pass is blocked out, so I'm verboten from tracking one down at the Happiest Place on Earth, and Targets' shelves look like we're readying for a snowstorm. Toys R Us is dirtier than normal and has even more staff that are not helpful AND they don't have any dolls either. In desperation, at a cocktail party this weekend, I remembered that my husband's co-worker is engaged to a girl that is Minnie Mouse at Disneyland. Yes, I cornered Minnie at a party and basically pleaded with her to find my 4 year old a doll dressed in yellow.

In other news, my husband recently borrowed my computer and when I went to open the screen? I found out he had last been visiting the "Fountain Pen Network" where they leave posts about ink, repairing your pen, nib sizes etc. His office porn made me laugh with glee. Under my tree, wrapped in shiny paper, is a new fountain pen. Unless someone shipped me a felt tip by mistake.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Dear Santa, I'd Like Tens and Twenties

In the weeks since I've last updated, much has happened. We had a birthday party for my now six year old. I turned (gulp) 37, and my husband, uncharacteristically gave me the most thoughtful gift ever. He had my blog published. Into a book. And I am now the owner of the only copy available. He wrote a wickedly funny about the author, and made up silly quotes from people like the New York Times, Dog Fancy and Christian Science Monitor. He had me laughing and doing the ugly cry all at once.

My kid wrote a letter to Santa in her kindergarten class. She asked him for money, and slippers. She's trying to use more adjectives, so she specified shiny quarters, a $2 bill and purple slippers. It's like we're acting out our own version of "Charlie Brown Christmas." (remember when Sally dictates to Charlie that she wants tens and twenties?)

I'm co-hosting a cookie exchange with my neighbor, and my kid's kindergarten teacher is coming. That means I can't go hog wild on the egg nog- like I did 2 years ago with my buddies in Houston. I wound up entertaining myself in a corner by laughing about the "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" episode involving a nudist, some hummus, and a certain appendage waving over the pita bread basket.

I am hosting Christmas Eve here at my house, and must figure out what I can serve that won't kill everyone the next day. I was going to repeat the lobster corn chowder we made last year, but that seems to have food poisoning written all over it. Maybe I'll just give everyone a prescription for Compazine in their stocking and call it a day. Funny anecdote: Compazine apparently is not only used for nausea, but schizophrenia as well. The day after my stomach issues, I felt like Parent of the Year. Now I know it was a residual after effect of the medication, and my kids are unhappy to report that I'm back to my Polish Washwoman ways of screaming like a banshee. Yes folks, the Christmas spirit is alive and well.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thankful I Didn't Kill Anyone

Thanksgiving was unforgettable. We had 20 of our dearest friends and family come join us, and while usually this would cause my head to spin and my nerves to fray- this year it didn't. I've been married for 13 years, and of those 13 years, I think I've cooked 10 turkeys. This year, I got my act together early- made my pies and messy stuff the day before, wiped down the kitchen, set the table, packed up the kids and dog and headed to my folks.

My Dad made dinner for everybody the night before (did you know they sell more pizzas the night before Thanksgiving than they do on Superbowl Sunday?) and on early Thursday morning, I left the kids with Grandad. My mom, and sister-in-law joined me at my house. We had Christmas music on. We had the turkey in the oven. There was always someone to stir your pot, or wipe down the counter. We laughed. We joked. More importantly, we did not freak out. By 3pm, everything was ready to go, and my Mom and I were sitting in lounge chairs, outside (it was 80 degrees people!) drinking orange Pellegrino spiked with gin. Here's a picture of the kids, not drinking orange fizzy gin, but having fun all the same:




Dinner was great, the company was better. We stayed up until 1am playing poker, and my stomach ached from laughing so hard. At least, that's what I thought. The next day, my older brother was felled with violent stomach issues. Then, my next brother, and my sister-in-law. Then, my nephew. My niece. My mother. My husband. My aunt. My dear friend from high school. And finally? Yours truly. Somehow, I don't think I'll be cooking anybody turkey anytime soon.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Best Birthday Present Ever

Today, my Annie turns six. And while six years can be a long time--- and mean living in 3 different houses and attending 4 different schools- it feels like only yesterday that they placed her in my arms for the very first time. I was so lucky to have my friend Theresa, the best doula in the whole wide world, there for Annie's birth. Admittedly, I was a little distracted on the day Annie was born, and had no idea Theresa was keeping notes of all of the flurry of activity until she read this letter to us on Annie's first birthday. It makes me cry every single time.


November 20, 2003

As your Mom touched the top of your head while you were being born, the room exploded with emotion. Your Mom began - "is that my baby girl? Oh, our baby girl is here! She is here!" She repeated this over and over as you were placed on her tummy. She exclaimed how beautiful you were and how much you looked like your Daddy. As you started to cry she instantly tried to calm you - "hush, hush - I know it has been a scary day". She wished you a happy birthday and said - "we have our little family". Although your Dad was not as vocal as your Mom, he was just as emotional. They were both overjoyed as they met you for the very first time.

Annie - I was asked to be present at your birth to provide support to your Mom and Dad. It was an honor to witness such a wonderful moment. I was very moved by the way your parents received you. It was a welcome like no other I have seen. I tried to express the emotion that filled the room in my first paragraph, but my words are not able to capture the amount of excitement and love that filled the tiny delivery room. Aside from your actual birth - I recorded the events that lead up to that time. The following is the chain of events as I knew them. I hope you enjoy this story and hold it as a special memory for ever and ever.

Friday November 7th, your parents and I met for lunch to discuss their wishes about your birth and what role I would take. We talked a lot about the labor process. Your mother wanted to labor at home during early labor, but your father was sure he would take your mom to the hospital as soon as there was any sign of labor. I have to say - all the knowledge your Dad has about medicine - flew out the window when it came to your birth. I reassured both of your parents that home was the best place for early labor and that your Mom would know when it was time for her to go to the hospital. Overall, the conversation was full of excitement as we were all anxiously awaiting your arrival.

Sunday November 16th, your Mom called me at noon and said that she was experiencing contractions. Both your Mom and Dad were very excited that that day would be the day they got to meet you. They were going to enjoy a walk together - maybe for the last time before having their daughter in tow. At 2pm I checked-in with your Mom and she was disappointed that the contractions had stopped.

Tuesday November 18, your Mom emailed me that she had had a doctors appointment and her cervix had not changed at all. She was disappointed as it looked liked it could be a week or so before your birth.

Thursday November 20th, your Mom phoned me at 4 am and said she had been up since 1 am with contractions. Both she and your Dad were unsure if this would turn into your birthday or not. We joked that if it were to be your birthday - you were a punctual kid because the 20th was your due date. I asked your Dad to record the contractions for the next hour and call me back. At about 5:30 am I checked in again and the contractions were 5 to 12 minutes apart and lasting about 30 seconds. Your Mom seemed to be coping fine and both of your parents were thinking they would rest at home for awhile longer. I called again a little after 8 am and your parents were on the way to a bagel shop to get some breakfast. You must know that your house was under construction and there was no kitchen - that would be a whole different story. Anyway - your parents were still unsure if this indeed was going to be your birthday. I told them I would be very surprised if the contractions stopped at this point. I told them to call me as soon as they needed me. Your parents tell me that after breakfast they went to a park to walk around. When they arrived to the park your Mom tried to get out of the car and knew she was not going to be able to do the walk. They decided it was time to go to the hospital. They got to the hospital about 9:30ish. Your Mom was checked and found to have contracted 4 cm, she was about 50% effaced and her water bag had ruptured. She was in great spirits and was happy to have gotten so far before arriving to the hospital. Your Mom's goal was to get to 4-5 cm before having an epidural - she made it! Yeah Mom!!

I arrived to the hospital at about 10 am. To find your parents making a flurry of phone calls to let everyone know you were on your way. Now they knew this would be your birthday and they were very excited. Soon it was time for the epidural and your Mom was concerned about the procedure, but was very brave. She continued to cope with the contractions using her relaxation breathing. At 10:40 the attending anesthesiologist provided your Mom with the epidural and then she was able to rest. She called your grandma, but could not reach her as she and your grandfather were driving back from Arizona after having met your cousin John. At 11:30 am your Mom was checked again and was 5cm and 70% effaced. She was progressing well, but we still had some time. Your Dad ran out to get some lunch, your Mom and I listened to music and chatted. At 2 pm, your mother had reached 6 cm and was 100% effaced. At 2:40 pm your Mom's friend Nicola visited. Your Mom and she chatted for awhile, but soon your Mom started feeling a lot of pressure and needed to start focusing on her contractions again. At about 3 pm the nurse had begun trying to give your Mom pitocin, and at the same time the epidural began to loose its effect. The anesthesiologist was called to provide more pain medication, but the pain continued essentially until your birth.

At 3:30pm your Mom had reached 7 cm and was 0/+1 station. At 4:00 your Mom really began to feel pressure. The doctor seemed to hesitate to re-check your Mom, because it had only been a half an hour, but at 4:15 he did and found she was complete! Things started moving very quickly at that time. Your mom was really feeling pressure and had an urgent need to begin pushing. I did my best to talk her out of pushing, but she was getting vary anxious and uncomfortable. When the doctors were ready - your Mom was more than ready - she exclaimed, let's get this done! The doctors explained exactly what they needed for her to do and she listened intently and pushed exactly as they had said. Your Dad was up next to your Mom's ear - counting for her and telling her what a good job she was doing. Between several contractions your parents told each other how much they loved each other. Your Mom continued to work with ever contraction and very soon you could see the top of your head. Your Mom asked if your hair was black and when the Doctor said yes - she said she knew it. I knew your Dad was not sure about watching your actual birth, but when you were nearly here, I leaned over to him and told him it was time to look.

As he peered over your Mom, he could see the very top of your head. Within the next few seconds the room exploded with emotion. One of the doctors grabbed your mom's hand and put it on your head as you were coming out. Your Mom instantly began to talk to you. She said is that my baby girl? Oh, our baby girl is here! She repeated it over and over as you were placed on her tummy. She exclaimed how beautiful you were, how much you looked like your daddy. She began to calm you - "hush, hush - I know it has been a scary day". She wished you a happy birthday and said - we have our little family. Your Mom was so vocal and emotional, your Dad was overjoyed and taking it all in.

You were born at 4:41 pm, weighed 8 pounds 10 ounces and were 20.08 inches long.

At about 5:30 pm your mom tried to nurse for the first time. Soon after that many of your Dad's coworkers came by to visit. Again the room filled with excitement. Your Nana and Tad arrived. Your grandmother held you for the first time and her eyes began to well, she too exclaimed how much you looked like your Dad. Within the next hour you and your Mom were transferred to another room where your other grandparents had just arrived. They too were thrilled to meet you and gave you a special Raggedy Anne doll as a welcoming gift.

Annie - Thank you for the honor of sharing your first moments of life with me. It is a day that I will always hold as a special memory.

I wish for you to always have the love and excitement that filled your delivery room in your heart and in your life.

Love, Theresa

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Manly Men

Whenever someone finds out what my husband does, inevitably, I usually get a few wiggled eyebrows and a wink and a "aren't you lucky!" And I am. I love my husband. But his job? It doesn't immediately turn him into a Chippendales dancer. Now, admittedly, the first time I visited him at work (as a recent graduate from med school- on his 1st day as a surgical resident), I thought the blue scrubs and white coat were cute. Then, a week later, he came home covered in someone else's poo (people! there's a reason you're not supposed to eat for 12 hours before surgery!) and I suddenly changed my mind.

You know what job I find attractive? General contractor. Handyman. Anybody that knows how to fix things. Today, my handyman stopped by the house. He hasn't been here in six months. In the span of an hour and a half, he did the following:

1. Fixed a drawer that was jammed in the garage. This drawer houses all of my tools, batteries, flashlights etc. The drawer hasn't been able to open for 2 months.
2. The doorknob in the garage that kept falling off every time I'd go to take the trash out.
3. He put address numbers on the house. So now the fedex guy can stop taking antidepressants.
4. He unjammed the pocket door in my bedroom. (I didn't even know it was jammed)
5. My daughter's bedframe kept coming apart- he screwed it all back together.
6. He hung a Roman shade in the master bath so my husband can stop his 5am peepshow.
7. He hung a shade in my daughter's bedroom that I'm hoping will entice her to stay in her own bed. (yeah right).
8. He hung 2 shelves. 2 shelves that have been propped against the wall since we moved in. One YEAR ago.
9. He hung a 100 lb mirror that was also propped up on my dresser and that every night, I prayed wouldn't topple over and kill me during an earthquake.

Seriously, this stuff makes me happy. Giddy. It makes me look at my handyman, in all of his 61 year old, handlebar moustached glory, and say "What a man." God bless the guys that know how to fix things. And the other guys that know how to fix the guys that fix things when something goes wrong. Even if they do get pooed upon from time to time.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Stocking Stuffers

I'm here! I'm here! My life has just been a whirlwind of random activities that all seem determined to bring me to my knees.

Case in point? My beloved pooch somehow got his paws on some chicken piccata. Chicken piccata and black labs don't mix. At all. He basically imploded, and I spent the greater part of one night scouring carpets, inadvertently walking through poop and cursing like a sailor. The rest of the week was dedicated to steam cleaners, a God send of a product called "Nature's Miracle" and a test in patience when he imploded on my living room carpet when it was still wet from being cleaned. Sigh.

My husband then invited his whole department over to our house for dinner. On a Friday. He works late every Friday, and even though this was supposed to be his chance to cook for his work friends, can you guess who did the work? I really love doing stuff like this, but I'm not good at winging it at the last minute. Combine that with an insanely busy week, and I was a big ball of stress. For 20 people, I decided to do a "cozy after work dinner" and did the following:

huge cheese board (dill havarti, triple cream brie, smoked gouda & stilton w/ cranberries)
Cheddar corn chowder
Butternut squash & apple soup
mango glazed ham
green salad (w/ pears and blue cheese)
dinner rolls
apple crisp w/ vanilla ice cream

I figured with a couple of different pots of soup on the stove, the fireplace going and a few open bottles of wine, it might distract them from the heavy scent of Febreeze and a mopey dog that was only eating rice and boiled chicken. My house was a complete nuclear bomb site two hours before the party, and despite three guests showing up half an hour early (that 30 minutes is when all the magic happens, folks) we had a really good time.

So good in fact, that a couple of nurses that work with my husband asked me if I'd host a holiday party. Here's a little background. 90% of the nurses that I've met are lovely, lovely people. Truly dedicated to what they do, real nurturers, and have a calling to do what they do. 10% of them (and I've met most of these in Southern Cal, go figure) are products of breast implant operations, hair extensions and "travel" to exotic locations to try stints at different hospitals. I learned a long time ago to make these girls my friends--- it's always better to admire their plastic surgery up close, than to gossip from afar.

One very attractive nurse, we'll call her Nurse A, asks me if I'll host a holiday party- a party just for girls.

"I love it!" I exclaim. "How about a cookie exchange!"
They all look at me with blank faces.
"You know, where everybody brings a different kind of cookie, and we all trade- so you go home with a platter of different kinds of cookies?" I explain, slowly realizing these girls haven't ever eaten a cookie, or a carb for that matter.

"Ummmm.... ok, " Nurse A says. Then her face lights up. "I can bring my toys!" The other girls immediately dissolve into giggles. Now it's my turn to look confused.

Apparently Nurse A has a side business of naughty toys. Her clear footwear should have been a dead give away.
Ho ho ho. No. No way.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Good Morning

This morning, all before 10 am, the following things happened:

1. I found out that two little people that I hold most dear have swine flu. I also mistakenly told my friend that rats were worse than her two anklebiters with swine flu. What I meant to say was "dude! I just have decomposed varmints! You have a little one with a 104 degree fever! And are housebound indefinitely!" In the never ending game of whose life is worse, she wins. I am so buying her a drink when I see her IN VEGAS IN TWO MONTHS! Yes, I'm excited.

2. My dog jumped in the shower with my kid this morning. After he got out the front door and ran down the neighborhood.

3. My kid dumped a whole cup of my coffee on the chair that matches the dog eaten couch. Luckily, they are not coming to shoot the cover for House Beautiful anytime soon. Or ever.

I'm starting to wonder what the afternoon has in store.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The not -so-pep Rally

I'm a homebody. I love putzing around in my pajamas, rereading old decorating magazines. Planning my next purchase. But I'm also a busy mother of two extremely active anklebiters, which means my house isn't always company ready.

My neighborhood is a mixed bag of ages. We've got some young families, but a few folks have grown kids that are long out of the house. These neighbors like to spring me with surprise attacks/visits. My doorbell will suddenly ring, and I'm in my Costco pajamas, coffee cup in hand- and I will glance over and see the breakfast dishes still in the sink, laundry in mid-folding on the dog chewed couch, recycling that hasn't been taken out. And the daily dose of Barbies, crayons, stuffed animals and other toddler crap that explodes in my house on a regular basis.

My Mom always taught me that if you could get the following things done each day, your house may not be company ready, but you won't be swallowed by mess. Not to get all flylady on you or anything, but they are:
1. Run the dishwasher before you go to bed and empty it first thing in the morning.
2. Make your bed. Your room can be a disaster but if the bed is made? It looks neat.
3. Wipe down the bathrooms.
4. Wash, dry, fold and put away one load of laundry each day.

Most days, this gets done. But, honestly? I've come up with a word that best describes my housekeeping style.
It's called "The Rally."

At five o'clock, I scurry around, yelling like a Polish washwoman, trying to undo a day's worth of mess in 60 minutes. My kids dread five o'clock. It's the witching hour when their mother morphs into a lunatic armed with Lysol wipes and empty threats. One hour later, the house looks presentable. Dinner gets started, my husband arrives home, and life is good.

Except for the day he came home early.

His eyes literally bugged out of his head, and if I remember correctly? He thought we got robbed.
The Rally. Right, wrong or indifferent, it works.

If you come home after six.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Heavy Stuff

Last night was interesting. I decided to take what I had learned from this week's cooking class, and apply it in a real life situation. Here is what we cooked in this week's class:

Potage Parmentier (Leek
and Potato Soup)
Tournedo Henry IV (beef filets with artichoke bottoms and bernaise sauce)
Pointes D'Asperges Au beurre (asparagus tips sauteed in butter)
Clafouti Aux Poires

Bottom line? The French love butter. Henry IV was a fat ass and Parisian cooking involves a lot of suffering for aesthetic purposes only. I don't think I will ever peel a small waxy potato and then use a melon baller to make small rounds of potatoes again. Or trim the little baby leaves off an asparagus tip. Seriously.

But? The artichoke cups filled with bernaise sauce placed on top of a filet that has been seasoned and encased in bacon? Crikey, it was good. And when I paired that with some plain roasted asparagus and roasted potatoes? Good stuff. I even found an easier recipe for pear clafouti (thank you Ina Garten).

We had a small, but interesting group from my husband's work. A nurse that he works with, that is married to a game warden, and another doctor that specializes in helping people die (can't remember the Latin name) that is married to an Economics professor. I spent most of my time talking to the Death Doctor.

I had never heard of her specialty before, but it makes perfect sense. After a person is given a terminal sentence, she assists with their pain management, works with hospice and ironically, spends a good amount of time convincing the patient's original doctor to let them go gracefully. She said she gets a lot of satisfaction out of comforting families, and helping folks live out their last days with dignity and peace. Surprisingly, she said most of her job frustration is from working with the other doctors. They have a hard time letting go- of accepting defeat and letting their patient die. It goes against everything they have trained for, worked towards. She chastised my husband last night for giving a family hope, when she felt there was none to be had. He vehemently disagreed with her, and at one point, I thought someone was going to take a bath in bernaise sauce. (not really, but it makes for a tasty visual).

She is comfortable with death. She's not jaded. She loves the interactions she has with patients and their families, and really feels like she is bettering a situation. That day, hours before she hightailed it over to our house for a cholesterol-laden meal, she was helping a 37 year old that had been diagnosed with cancer and had 2 weeks left to live. She has 2 young kids.

Heavy. Heavy meal, heavy discussion.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Inconvenient

Last night, I was headed to a cooking class.
A class I have looked forward to for months.
French cooking.
Which means butter. Lots and lots of butter.
I love butter.
But when I went to get in my car?
It wouldn't start.
I panicked, called my husband and took his instead.

This morning, when the guy came to jump start my beloved minivan?
He found a fried rat in the engine.

Someone please come hold me.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Haute Cuisine

Update:
The smell is gone. Either I've tricked myself into believing that, or Mother Nature took pity on me. On Monday, I've got exterminators coming to help me better seal the house. Gah.

On to brighter things....
My baby turns four on Tuesday. Last night, we gathered local family for her annual "birthday dinner party." She loves this event. It's her time to be fawned on by grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, and best of all? She gets to pick the menu.

Lucy's 4th Dinner Party Extravaganza:
spinach artichoke parmesan dip from Costco.
Chick Fil-A chicken nuggets platter
Pioneer Woman's baked beans (these are insanely good)
butter lettuce salad with blue cheese, dried cherries, almonds
Texas sheet cake w/ pink writing

Last year, we also served the nuggets. I sheepishly explained to everyone that this is what happens when your kid plans the menu- but was astonished at the rapid rate the nuggets were eaten. Folks secretly love the nuggets. My Mom even asked me if I'd make the baked beans. I love my family. They know how to party like a 4 year old.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Rats.

My stellar week continues!!
So, apparently, my dog ate the couch because there was a rat in the wall. (located behind the couch).

The rat has now kicked the bucket, and the stench is unbelievable. Although my neighbors are consoling me with their own tales (pardon the pun) involving these beloved tree rats, (they love the fruit trees)- I'd love your opinion.


Do I tear holes in my wall searching for this pleasant surprise? Or just let nature run its course?

Inquiring minds (in a God awful smelly den of deceased varmin stench) would like to know.

Cocktail, Anyone?

Last week, my dog ate my couch.

Today, my computer imploded.
The service light came on in my car.
The first case of swine flu was diagnosed in my daughter's class.
So was a raging case of head lice.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Girl Vs. Food

Lunch in the countryside of China. Not something I'll forget anytime soon. After wondering if they had defibrillators installed on the Great Wall of China, our local guide escorted us to a random shack in the country for a casual lunch.

I have to mention that autumn had just started to hit China the week I was there. At first, it was startling- because I stupidly think autumn is a franchise of New England, and that they own a monopoly on leaves turning, and pumpkins and such. Not so, ignorant travelers! You CAN see pumpkins and eat kung pao. (My husband and I continually joked about this after first arriving- "Look! The sun shines the same in China! Look! Ikea looks the same in China!" You get the idea).

Our friend had never been to this strip of countryside restaurants before, but as our van careened down the dirt road, folks would start frantically waving at us- hoping to entice us to stop at their rustic place for a bit of grub.

The place we stopped had two people waving instead of one, so we decided to reward their extra effort by giving Mr. Lee a much needed rest from his job of chauffering/murdering us.

The walls were cinderblock. The floor was dirt in some places, crusty linoleum in others. We were taken to a small back room, and seated at a large round table. Truthfully, we all looked a little nervous. Our friend, and Mr. Lee started to converse with the waitress, and local beers and room-temperature bottled Cokes were quickly served.

Then the dishes started to arrive. First, there was chicken soup. Literally, soup with a chicken in it. Lucky for me, I was seated right next to our local friend. My husband was on my other side, and he frantically grabbed his beer and quietly muttered that he would be passing on the first course.

I couldn't. First, I didn't want to offend my friend. He was eagerly looking for my reaction, and the amount of kindness and generosity he had shown us that day was seriously remarkable. I didn't want to disappoint my new friend, or Mr. Lee (we still had a long drive home). Second, when am I going to get this chance again? To eat such a meal in such a setting? So I grinned, tried not to look at the floating chicken head in my bowl (with one eye and a bit of brain floating around) and took a bite.

Spicy. Savory. Seriously Delicious. The group eyed me with apprehension, and Matt whispered quietly, "Holy shit. You're like my own Andrew Zimmerman."

After that, the game was on. I ate from an entire fish (caught that day from a nearby lake), pumpkin, an unidentifiable filled dumpling, bok choy and a myriad of other dishes that boggled my mind. I drank my coke from a bottle and prayed I wouldn't have to discover the bathroom facilities. (This place had no running water, and yes, my husband took pictures of their restroom. I will NOT be posting these). My friend was pleased that I was so enthusiastic, and kept placing bits and morsels on my plate for me to taste.

Then, my new friend from China said something to the waitress, and she nodded her head. My friend then escorted me to their kitchen, where I could see them cook. It was a small room, probably no bigger than 8 feet by 8 feet. There was one small window. No sink. A piece of wood propped up on bricks in the center of the room that served as their prepping station and dirty dish repository. An old woman held the biggest chef's knife I have ever seen (more akin to a cleaver, really) and smiled a toothless grin before she went back to work hacking a chicken.

It was definitely a meal I will remember, and an experience I will treasure. Chicken head soup- who knew?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Someone's In The Dog House

So yeah, I want to continue musing on my trip to China, but reality has other plans.

My dog destroyed my couch today.

Ruined. Beyond repair. His ball went behind the couch, and he figured the fastest way to retrieve it was to go through the couch. Literally. There is a huge, gaping hole about the size of a tennis ball through the back of the couch, and for good measure, a pawful of rips and tears scattered throughout. I was home when this happened- in the garage trying to figure out how a drill bit works (don't ask). The kids were apparently sitting on either side of the dog, and all they asked was "Mommy? Why is there snow inside of our couch?"

Because sometimes I feel like there must be a studio audience and a laugh track hiding somewhere--- I just so happened to order a new sofa for my empty living room last Friday. It took me a year to do---- to decide what to get, to save up the money. I second guessed myself a thousand times- and almost chickened out when I went to the showroom to place the order.

Now I've got to start all over again. Looking at the bright side, I really needed new family room furniture. Our current stuff is 11 years old, and has been peed on (potty training wars), sat on and moved across the country twice. It looks its age. Unfortunately, it's not something we've got budgeted right now. So if you happen to come over? No Sanford and Son jokes folks- or I'll move the couch out to my front porch and sick my dog on you.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Great Wall

My husband has a friend that works in Beijing. Our friend hired a driver for the day, picked up a group of us from our hotel and took us to spend the day in the countryside.

First stop? The Great Wall of China. Before I can tell you how magnificent, and surreal, and life changing it was- I need to describe the drive there. Our driver's name was Mr. Lee. He was young- probably mid-30's, and a really nice guy. But Mr. Lee cannot drive. Nor can anyone else I met in my short stint in Beijing- including every cab driver I unfortunately came across. Every time I got into a moving vehicle, I took a deep breath, clutched my husband's arm and tried not to dig my nails in as we zoomed through intersections, made right turns from left lanes and cut off every rickshaw in the joint.

Mr. Lee took us about an hour outside Beijing. The smog lifted, and the skies were sunny and gorgeous. Groves upon groves of persimmon trees (some over 500 years old) were dripping with fruit, and before I could take a picture, Mr. Lee decided to play chicken with some oncoming semi-trucks on a 2 lane highway.

We got to Badaling, one of the more popular parts of the Great Wall around 10:00. We were surrounded by rocky hills, sunny skies and cooler air. We set off on our climb- and it was really and truly, absolutely fantastic. Each part of the Wall is separated by towers, and you weave your way through the hills and get higher... and higher... and higher...

I was pretty peppy to begin with. I kept making Ghengis Khan jokes, and pretended to hide from some Mongols in a tunnel in one of the towers. For the first 20 minutes- you are absolutely amazed with where you are. What you are doing. Where you're walking. What you're seeing.

And then it gets kind of rough. The Great Wall is steep. Some parts have stairs, some are just rubbly steep inclines that put any stairmaster to shame. It quickly degenerated into a game of survival. Of trying to put on a happy face to the rest of the folks in my group who were also quietly suffering and try not to look too winded. It amazed me to see folks huff and puff up to a tower, and then light a ciggy before taking the next leg.

One guy brought a Flat Stanley for his niece's classroom project, and I did notice that he spent quite a bit of time arranging Stanley for a photo opp. I really think he was buying time to catch his breath.

I did get some amazing pictures- and will post them once I get them off my husband's hard drive. You will see my red, sweaty face, my gleeful smile and the panic in my husband's eyes when he realized how we were going to get down.

We didn't walk down. We took a tram. Suspended on wires, Badaling has little cars that careen down the mountain at an alarming pace. They had a sign in English that said "Please keep bodies inside." And another one that said "Don't scratch the cabin." That struck me as funny until we started, and I realized some folks must turn into rabid stray cats and claw the doors for safety.

My husband screamed like a little girl, but you didn't hear that from me.

Next up? My lunch in the countryside. Life changing. And yes, chicken heads are involved.

Friday, October 2, 2009

More Cankles, Concubines & "Cheese"

Our first day in Beijing was adventure from start to finish. Folks that were well versed in visiting China encouraged us to take full advantage of the extensive breakfast buffet at our hotel. I had packed power bars, dried fruit and nuts to slip into our pockets while we were exploring the city (along with travel toilet paper, but we'll save that for another time) - but brunch? Brunch was ridiculous.

You had your traditional brunch stuff- pancakes, french toast, hash browns, omelette station. For the Europeans, they had charcuterie, and Muesli and for random folks that like this sort of thing- a big pot of baked beans. (?)

Then there were the dumplings. In the more traditional sense- they set up a noodle station- where they would create a bowl of noodle soup for you. Next to the soup was an enormous lazy susan of steam pots containing every kind of dumpling imaginable. Steamed shrimp dumplings. Pan fried pork dumplings. Lots of random dumplings that I have no idea what was in them, but tasted mighty fine. And there were little dipping bowls of chili sauce, soy sauce, vinegars etc. It was awesome.

It was also salty. Given this newfound breakfast of champions, it didn't look like my cankles were going to disappear anytime soon. By day 3, my rings hardly fit. I may swell like a puffer fish, but I like me some dumplings.

My husband was so concerned about where his next meal may come from, that he, (how shall I say this nicely?) completely over-did at our first breakfast. He ate more at one sitting than I've ever seen him eat. Seriously. I think the Chinese chefs became afraid that Homer Simpson had checked in, and I think I overheard them placing an emergency order of dumplings.

We decided to work off our extensive brunch that had manifested itself into lunch/dinner & potentially breakfast for the next day by visiting the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City is the original court of the Emperor. Built in 1406, it's a vast series of buildings that make up the inner and outer court of imperial China. It is, without a doubt, the coolest thing I've ever seen.

We splurged and got the audio tour- since most of the historical signs were in Chinese. Roger Moore, Mr. James Bond, happened to be the narrator, and he really got into it. Anytime he mentioned the word "concubine" or "eunuch" James Bond would try to not giggle, and since Imperial China had a thing for concubines and castration, there was a lot of repressed laughing.

We spent hours looking at the architecture, taking pictures and people watching. Not a lot of Westerners were there that day. Since we were visiting so closely to the 60th anniversary of Communism, a lot of Chinese folks made the trek to Beijing to celebrate. Since I had gotten my highlights touched up in anticipation of the trip, yours truly stood out quite a bit. I didn't really notice anything until we left the last gate of the Forbidden City. Now standing directly in front of Tiananmen Square, I noticed a few local folks staring at me.

At first, I wondered if someone had told them how many dumplings we had consumed that morning. Then I slyly checked my fly. I looked behind me to see if they were potentially staring at something else. Nope. Just me. Finally, a young man in a black suit with a grey mock turtleneck (I hate mock turtlenecks- why mock one? Just wear a real one if you like turtles) approached me and in halting English asked if he could take a picture. I thought he wanted me to take a picture of him, so I smiled and nodded and reached for his camera.

He giggled (I promise! I did not say concubine!) and shook his head. He stood next to me and held the camera to his friend. I put my arm around his shoulder (not realizing that most local folk do not touch each other when taking a picture) and gave my best smile. I was about to offer him an autograph but we got caught up in a marching band of Communist soldiers that were heading across the square. My husband was wary at first- wondering the guy's intention and not appreciating it when I told him that clearly, the folks of Beijing understand real beauty. That clearly, the most literate society on Earth has a deep abiding affinity for swollen ankles. It made perfect sense.

Then, five minutes later, a group of 20 year old girls stopped and gestured that they would also like to take a picture with me. Without using language, we were somehow able to compliment each other on our shoes, discuss the plot line for the next "Sex In The City movie",swap makeup advice and extoll the virtues of eating a good dumpling breakfast. By the time we took the picture, we were fast friends...

to be continued...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cankles & Cargo Pants

This was my first trip away from the anklebiters. My saintly aunt and uncle kindly agreed to watch them for a week, and preparing all of the little details that make up my life with the kids was a daunting task. Borderline overwhelming. Since they would be driving my car, I needed to get that disinfected. Since they would be cooking in my kitchen, I needed to find the stray mold spores hiding in my veggie drawer. By the time it came to leave, I was a tired, exhausted, emotional mess of a wreck that tried to hide her tears as her little ones furtively waved goodbye.

And then I boarded a fifteen hour flight headed to Hong Kong. Most of the travelers were extremely well dressed- in utilitarian cargo pants with cool looking shoes. Our flight was sold out, but luckily, the middle seat between Matt and I mysteriously remained empty. As people continued to board, Matt kept telling me not to get my hopes up. Then they locked the doors, and I did a celebratory jig and stretched out.

My older brother asked me what I was going to do on such a long flight. I jokingly told him that I packed lots of sticker books and lollipops. Little does he know, that I've been thinking about this for almost ten months. Fifteen hours of solace. Granted, most of it would be in the middle of the night, but for someone that hasn't been to the bathroom by herself in five years, this was an opportunity to indulge.

Cathay Pacific gives everyone their own little screen- and you can watch a live camera outside the cockpit, play video games, watch television or catch a movie. I watched "The Hangover." I started laughing so loudly the cargo pants people started giving me strange looks, and since it was 3am California time, I piped down. (Side note: Hangover was hilarious. So was "I Love You Man"). I also read. I splurged at Amazon, and throughout the week, I read the following:
The Help- by Kathryn Stockett (loved this. loved. loved. loved.)
Best Friends Forever- Jennifer Weiner (eh. Didn't like this one).
The Lost Symbol- Dan Brown (like my brother says, you always feel kind of dirty for reading such commercial candy, but it was decent)
Water For Elephants- by Sara Gruen (I liked it. Didn't love it, but liked it a lot.)
The Secret History of the Pink Carnation- by Lauren Willig (cute historical fiction)

It was strange- leaving at 2am and flying east. We chased the night for the entire flight, and I kept opening the shade- checking for daylight. It was dark for quite a while. When we finally landed in Hong Kong in the mid-morning, my eyes were tired and my legs were swollen. We had a few hours to kill before our connection to Beijing, so yours truly decided to get a traditional Chinese Reflexology massage.

Big mistake. Huge mistake! It was the most painful 45 minutes of my life. My ankles were so swollen from the flight, and the elderly Chinese woman not only used her knuckles as torture devices, she slapped the patootie out of my calves. Matt took pictures, and if I didn't look so completely vile I'd post them. I kept trying to look composed, but I kept dissolving into giggles of pain as my legs were kneaded, poked and prodded.

After that and a $9 latte from Hong Kong Starbucks (they serve mango brown rice wraps y'all!) we boarded our flight for Beijing.
To Be Continued...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Awake, But Not Really

I'm back from China.
I did not choke on a fish eyeball at the Summer Palace.
I did climb the Great Wall-
which almost gave me a heart attack-
but that's a story for another time, hopefully soon.

Did you ever hear of this saying about jet lag?
East is the Beast & the West is the best?
I still think I won't sleep tonight.
15 hours is a big way to swing.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bed Bugs

My dog thinks he's a cat. He's 65lbs of pure canine denial and thinks he belongs on your lap. Or in your bed. Every morning, George stealthily waits until Matt hits the ground running at o'dark thirty.The minute he hears the shower taps turn on, he leaps into bed and dives under the covers.

This might be funny if I haven't already been invaded by one or more anklebiters. My kids don't like to sleep alone. They have mastered the art of the "looking insanely cute and needy at 3am" routine that I regularly awaken with one or more princess-pajama clad bodyparts casually draped across my torso. (Where do kids get the talent to inflate their body mass and overtake a bed? How can a 3 year old take up that much bodily space? It defies the law of physics.)

The irony that should have been an Alanis Morrisette lyric is that I used to hate being touched when I slept. Seriously. Before kids and schizo-pooches, I would draw an imaginary line down the bed when it was time to get some shuteye. Like a roadtrip game played in the backseat of a 1970's station wagon- "this here is my space, and only my space. Do not cross that line or I will feed the dog an ice cube from the cooler and have him puke in the only pair of shoes you packed for our 2 week trip." (true story).

Now, I regularly constrict my ever expanding body into the 2cm of space that my daughter leaves me on the edge of the bed and wait for the sun to rise. So my crazy pooch can come join in the fun.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Meter Is Running

Back to school is kicking my ass.
There, I said it.
I only have 2 kids, so it's not like I'm Kate Gosselin over here, and one of them hasn't even started yet.
But Annie is only in school for 3 hours and 20 minutes.
3 hours and 20 minutes is not a lot of time when you factor in walking up and down the hill to school, Target runs because your kid hates Target and grocery store runs because your kid hates Operation fruit snacks. Starting Friday, I have to drop yet another anklebiter off at yet another school.

Which will leave me approximately one hour to be alone.
ONE hour.
ONE HOUR.
Holy schnikey, folks. This could get ugly.

Then, because I'm so concerned that Annie is not in a full day of rigorous learning, I've bulked up her afternoons with activities. Like swim lessons. Ballet. Tap. Tumbling. Poking her mother's eyeball out with an ice pick.

Today, I had to go get vaccinated against typhoid and mad cow disease before my trip to China. Scheduling this amongst all of the many Mom-Taxi maneuvers I do was trickier than devising a national healthcare system. I've put off my airconditioning repairman THREE times because I'm not home for a long enough time to accomodate their window. I can't get my hair cut for another month for the same reason.

I feel like I'm constantly watching the clock. Or sitting on my ass waiting for someone to be done. With something. Because at the end of the day? I'm coming undone. All over.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Change of Heart

Today went great. Annie was excited from the minute she got out of bed. Her Daddy took the day off from work, and the whole damn-family walked the half block to school. She lined up outside of her classroom, waved goodbye to us, and was shepherded into the classroom by a teacher that was trying not to laugh as all of the mothers lost their swizzleshizz.

Yes. I cried.

Then, because I'm such a genius at time management I scheduled new swim lessons for the FIRST day of school- I took both kids to the swim club at 4pm. Annie's new instructor had a bit of a challenge. She kept giggling. She kept cackling (this Wicked Witch of the West cackle that means nothing but trouble). He would ask her to swim straight- she'd go sideways. She'd dive down to the bottom of the pool. She'd float on her back. ANYTHING but what he asked her to do.

After fifteen minutes, he gave up. He swam up to the side and asked if I minded if he gave the extra time to her little sister. Which was a great idea, but after 45 minutes of non-stop swimming for my three year old, she was completely wiped out.

By 5pm, my house looked like a toddler episode of "Cops." My kids were half naked, mouthing off worse than meth addicts from the South and screaming like wild banshees.

Oh school. How could I ever doubt you? I heart you. With every fiber of my being.

Monday, August 31, 2009

My Ann-With-An-E

Tomorrow Annie starts kindergarten.

She is more than ready. Her Hannah Montana backpack is by the back door, her lunchbox is packed. Her outfit is picked out, and she's already decided what she wants to ask her teacher. ("When is show and tell? Do we get to check books out of the library? Did you know that I want to be a scientist?").

Today, we went to kindergarten orientation. They asked the kids to sit in the front of the multi-purpose room, and the parents sat in chairs at the back. We listened to drop off rules, pick up rules, birthday rules, PTA stuff. The kids started to get antsy. The principal then asked the kids to stand up, and she taught them the school cheer.

My Annie- my normally ebullient, brimming-over-with-things-to-tell little girl hung her head low and didn't yell with the others. When the principal instructed the kids to head out of the room first, and that the parents would soon follow- she shot me a look. A look that said, "I'm not sure I want to do this."

This weekend, I reread, for the gazillionth time, the book "Anne of Green Gables." I adore this book. It is a large part of why I have my own "Ann-with an e". And I always get teary when Anne has to leave the island to pass hers school exams. Tomorrow, my little girl's world grows exponentially bigger. Even though her backpack is bigger than she is, and her three missing bottom teeth make her whistle when she talks, she's heading off the island. And when I look at her? I still see that chubby newborn- with the endless cheeks and know-it-all expression. Tomorrow brings new things for all of us.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Morbidity- Thy Middle Name

So here's the deal.
I'm going on a trip soon.
It's my first overseas trip.
With my husband, sans kids.
We are going to China.
I just got my first passport.
I also got my first visa.
And now, I'm having my first panic attack.
Yes, I'm thrilled that I will see the Great Wall.
I will haggle for pearls.
I will eat unique food.
I also think I'm going to die.
I am now obsessed with Plan B for my kids.
Involving life insurance, guardians, and fantasizing my funeral.
I hope this is just me being silly.
But if I happen to choke on a fish eyeball while visiting the Summer Palace?
Don't say I told you so.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sneaky

Tonight, I tucked in my 3 year old. She is my baby. She knows she is my baby. And she is one sneaky devil.

"Mommy?" she squeaks. (even tonsil-free, she's still a little Mouse).

I turn around, and stop in her doorway.

"You're the nicest Mommy I ever had."

It's two hours later, and I'm still laughing.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Horror! The Horror!

We finally made it to the Discovery Science Center. Do you guys remember me telling you about my kid's insane fear of the "Operation Game"? Well, just my luck- we pull in to the parking lot & see this:



Holy crikey. It was all I could do to get her out of the car. Then, we make our way inside, but she still looks pretty freaked out.



Determined to have fun, we slowly make our way through the exhibits. Now, the only other thing besides taking out someone's Funny Bone that strikes the fear of God into Annie's heart is... Wall-E the Robot. So, do you guys want to guess what the other big exhibit was?



Robots! Just our luck! And just to ensure the Discovery Science Center is an equal opportunity, horrifying scare of a place- they had this exhibit, just for little old me.




I think we're all ready for school to start.

Ponyo. A Movie Review. Sort of. Ok, Not Really.

We made it to Ponyo last night. Without any visible signs of Operation Games or Wall-E the robot, my kids didn't think it looked scary enough to prevent them from sleeping by themselves, and so we decided to brave it. Aside from a theme song that is perhaps, the most brain numbing addictive ditty since "It's A Small World" we all really liked it.

It was funny to see a Japanese, animated Tina Fey. It was not funny to see said Tina Fey attempt to explain to her five year old son why she was leaving him during a raging storm so she could go rescue the old folk at the senior center. I now have to tell MY five year old that she is not quite ready to stay in the house by herself, captain a ship and light matches. Oh, the Japanese. You wacky writers.

I am now in the throes of the summer blues. The days seem to stretch on endlessly, and my bag of tricks is almost over. I was at the neighborhood pool the other day, and happened to run into the one mom in our neighborhood that has younger kids. (Incidentally, she hates my guts, but that's besides the point). I casually asked her if she was looking forward to school starting- and she shakes her head and says with a pitying voice, "No, I enjoy every moment I'm home with my kids."

Whatever.

In other news, well, there really isn't any other news except I've now read the entire "True Blood series", the new book by Jane Greene-"Dune Road" (bleh), "The Temporary Wife"(which I loved) and am welcoming the respite from summer chick-lit with some Don Draper oogling on Sunday night. I've missed you Mad Men.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Warning! Sickly Sweet Post Below!

The other night, we had a sleepover at my folks' house. I was tucking the kids into bed when my five year old put her arms around my neck. "Tonight, Mommy..." she whispered. "You will be my dream catcher."

Sorry folks, but when I'm 87 and hanging with my peeps in Assisted Living, this is the stuff I want to remember.

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Cop Out

As this week wraps up, I find myself smack dab in the middle of summer. And since my brain is too fried to come up with a legitimate post, I'm resorting to the second-best cop-out. (The first being a haiku, and that's just too much effort). And so, dear folks, I bring you the list. The List of Un-Related Activities That Clog My Brain & Made Up My Week.

When your kids are eating dinner and a lizard the size of your fist decides to crawl up the wall? Don't scream like a banshee while you wave a broom and plea for mercy. Your kids won't sleep for weeks.

If your 3 year old suddenly decides to actually "swim" at her lesson (Face underwater! Legs kicking! Arms moving! Not drowning!) Don't scream like there is a lizard in your kitchen and make the gentleman sitting next to you poop his pants. He quietly muttered a "you scared me" in a calm, little voice and then sidestepped his poopie way to the exit.

If you happen to come down with a mysterious, summer virus that leaves you with stomach cramps, lethargy and no appetite- do not expect your spouse to notice, or convey any pity. However, when they are stricken with the same malaise three days later- the red carpets of nursing must be rolled out, stat. Combine that with lots of coddling, a written excuse from all parental responsibilities and a free pass for the grumpies. What you do to their soup however, is between you and God. No one else.

If you suddenly think your year old puppy is ready to roam free at night, do not stop crating him. Or you will suddenly realize your favorite pair of shorts no longer has a crotch. And your three year old will awaken and say "Mommy? It snowed in my room!" Only to realize that a certain stuffed Seussical Horton met his maker in a grim, shredded massacre.

So, there you have it. A stellar week of reptiles, incontinent strangers, swine-like flu and a Horton-Who-Can-No-Longer-Hear-A-Who. I hope next week is nice and boring. So I can write a haiku about it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Don't Pull His Finger...

I've been married for thirteen years. Been together with my husband for 20. Needless to say, we know each other pretty well.

So well, that there's a new brand of romance in this house.

Not exactly Harlequin material, but more along the lines of fourth grade sleep away camp.

We tell a lot of poopie jokes. We make a lot of inappropriate innuendos.

He may not bring me flowers, but he does make me laugh until my stomach hurts.

And I really wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Funny Bone To Pick

My five year old is an interesting kid. Nothing about her is by the book. No parenting article, wives tale, or well intended advice could ever really help me. She refused to poop in the potty until she was well past three. She'd happily ask me for a pull-up, squat down in anyone's presence and re-enact her own National Geographic tribal defecation regularly.

I tried everything. I coaxed. I offered ridiculous bribes. I made a chart. Nothing worked. Until one day, when I had her on the changing table, and I looked her right in the eye and said "Annie? This is gross. Really gross. I'd really like it if you'd go in the bathroom from now on."

She shrugged her shoulders and said, in a not-so-big-deal voice, "Ok."
And that was it.

Since we've moved, her quirks have really settled down. She doesn't insist I call her Pooh Bear anymore, she poops in an appropriate place, and she'll eat off a plate (used to be only bowls) and let's us use the words "cute and tasty" (formerly verboten).

Until today. I may or may not have mentioned that Annie has developed a deep seated fear of the Operation Game. (You know the one? Where you pull the guy's funny bone out and his nose lights up?) SHE HATES THIS GAME. Santa brought her one for Christmas, somehow thinking that given her family's livelihood, and Annie's obsession with anatomy that this will provide oodles of hours of entertainment.

Strike one for the big guy in the red suit. She gasped when she opened the box, and set it gently across the room and quietly told me that she would like to put it in the birthday closet where Mommy pilfers from when we're late for a birthday party. (Sorry five year old Heather. Hope he doesn't scare you as much as he did Annie!)

A few weeks ago, we were in Target, admiring their pool toys when Annie started hyperventilating. Tears coursed down her cheeks, and when she could finally put a word together, she trembled "operation!" in a scared, little voice that sounds strange coming from a kid with such a big personality. I mistakenly parked the cart near the game aisle, and the bright yellow box with red letters was proudly on display. Now she refuses to go to Target, which since she's home with me all summer, is saving us tons of money!

She then refused to go to Vons, our local grocery store, claiming Operation had taken a hold there as well. I told her this was ridiculous, that grocery stores did not sell games. I even took it one step further (because damn you Vons! You're the only one that carries St. Superey Sauvingnon Blanc) and called the store manager to ask him if they stocked the dreaded game. He emphatically told me no, and I visibly could see Annie breathe a sigh of relief as we piled into the car.

She even brought it up when we walked through the door. "No You-Know-What-Here Mommy!" she crowed, as she clutched my new Iphone and the killer Grocerystore IQ app that we now use to do our shopping. (she likes to check the boxes).

Things were good until we hit the breakfast cereal aisle. And then (drumroll please), that asshole Vons Store Manager neglected to tell me that they may not carry the Operation Game, but they DO carry Operation Fruit Snacks. (because what's tastier? Eating someone's gelatinous, infected funny bone?) There were a GAZILLION yellow boxes with red lettering and oversized pictures of body parts.

She totally lost it. Like, cause a spectacle LOST IT. Like, my Mommy has tied me to a chair and Freddie Krueger and Linda Blair are coming over for tea LOST it. I started giggling nervously and turned the boxes over as fast as I could. I cajoled and coaxed her into the next aisle, promising that we wouldn't have to go back there.

And like something out of a horror movie, that asshole Vons Store Manager must have decided that Operation Fruit Snacks were the item of the century. They were on display at the end of EVERY other aisle throughout the store. It was like Operation Fruit Snack was going to cure cancer. Or solve the Iraq war.

Or maybe? Maybe the Store Manager was huddled behind the customer service counter, laughing himself into oblivion. I'll get your Funnybone mister. And your little dog, Toto too.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wish You Were There

Immediately after dropping our bags off at the house we were going to share with 4 other adults, 4 teenage girls, 4 little kids and one baby (our own Waltons episode?) we headed to the beach front Mexican place that served up margaritas by the pitcher. After my 3rd libation or so, I realized that Catalina must be like living in 1951. Your kids can play. They can walk across the street with a gaggle of other kids to buy themselves an ice cream cone. The group we became an honorary part of calls themselves "The Too Much Fun" club and they have been vacationing together for almost 25 years. It's a varied assortment of ages, but no matter where you go, someone in the club is there and keeping an eye out.

Someone from the group goes down to the beach at 5am and lays down blankets for the late stragglers to enjoy. Somebody else stays on the beach at 5pm when everyone else goes to take a shower and sets up beach chairs for the Beach Bingo the city runs every Tuesday and Thursday night. It was insanely awesome.

When we all decided to hit the local beach club one day, a TMF Club member showed up with their golf cart to give the little kids a ride. (it's a bit of a walk). Someone was always on hand to buy me a drink, lend me a beach chair or include me in a funny conversation. It was so nice- so, so nice that I kept waiting for it to turn into its own "Hotel California" video and watch these nice people morph into crazy demons, snatch my kidney or sell me on a pyramid scheme.

Did we have a great time? Yes. Do I want to go back next year? Absotootely. But I don't want to be the guy that has to get up at 5am.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

26 Miles Across The Sea

I'm here! I'm here! Sorry for the lag folks, I took a couple of days off to recoup and relax. Umm... not exactly.

Out of the blue, old friends that we haven't seen in ten years unexpectedly contacted us and invited us to join them on Catalina island for two days. We jumped at the opportunity, and I'm slowly recovering.

It was fun. Serious fun. Like fraternity-party-with-kids-in-tow fun. But we're not really used to that. Matt and I like to vacation like senior citizens- lots of down time, a bit of sight seeing, lots of time for reading, an early-bird dinner and a prostate exam. This was a bit of a different scene.

We missed our first boat. Silly me thought she could rally her family and drive 45 minutes away to the dock to make an 8:30am boat. Didn't happen. If someone -who-shall-remain- nameless hadn't wanted to stop for coffee and missed the turnoff, we may have had a fighting chance, but no luck. When I went to the ticket counter to plead and beg (since all boats were sold out for the remainder of the day) something strange happened.

She upgraded us. To first class. Which included mucho bloody marys. I had to leave my youngest child with her as payment, but I figured, Hey! What's two bloody marys instead of college tuition!

To be continued...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Flounder

Every day this week, I promised my girls we would do something fun. In between bouts of work and laundry, here's how it boiled down.
Monday- yet another invitation to private, fancy beach. (apparently, my new friend doesn't know me well enough as she STILL invites us over). Lots of sand castles, sea anemones in tide pools and overheard conversations of homes in Geneva and sailing in France. I still think this place is not real, and is really Hollywood staging a set for a new Danielle Steele miniseries. I tried hard not to look like an extra from "My Name is Earl" that happened upon the wrong soundstage.

Tuesday- We swam in our pool. The kids insist on playing "Little Mermaid" and somehow I always wind up playing Flounder. I can't wait until we can all watch "Animal House" together.

Wednesday- We stopped by to visit a friend that has a nearby lake with ducks. We fed them lots of bread, and sang countless versions of "Five Little Ducks." Then we came home and ate one of their cousins for dinner (roasted chicken).

Thursday- we hit the library, where Annie loudly announced to everyone within a twenty mile radius that she loves "Junie B. Jones" and has two loose teeth.

Friday- Today the girls stayed in their jammies and played "Little People" for most of the day. We did make it to swim lessons, where someone else had to be Flounder for awhile.

Next week? We're finally getting our oven installed, my Grandmother's arriving and I'm supposed to go see some friends in Catalina. Summer is looking up!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Um, Irony? Nice To Meet You.

I look at my last post and laugh. Besides sounding like one of those Xmas card letters you get that make you want to slowly poke your eye out with a letter opener, the Gods of Summer have taken their revenge and turned a bunch of stuff upside down.

I can't go into a lot of detail yet, but it's taxing, and tolling, and exhausting to say the least. I'm keeping it away from the kids for now, and trying to be present for them and let them play in the pool. We've gone back to the beach, but I think the porpoises could sense my high blood pressure and stayed far, far away.

My husband has been away all week, and I thought it would be a good idea to keep George out of his crate. In case a burglar might appear at o'dark thirty, my plan was to have George take him apart limb by limb. Instead, he quietly and stealthily ate a pair of my jeans. And Lucy's ear plugs. And farted. Not so quietly.

So I'm reading a lot of "Junie B Jones" and laughing with my kids. I'm trying to take things one day at a time. I'm trying to look for the good in things, and remember that life is more than what certain folks make it out to be.

And apparently, I'm going shopping for a new pair of jeans.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

And We're Off! School, That Is.

Summer is off with a bang. The kids celebrated their last day of school on Thursday, and I picked them up with surprise guests: my sister-in-law, nephew and niece! They were here for a brief visit from Arizona. We quickly hightailed it in the car, and made the hour long trek to Los Angeles to visit the La Brea Tar Pits.

This place was awesome. Smack dab in the middle of the city is an area of asphalt pits that hold gobs and gobs of prehistoric bones. There is a small museum with fossils of sabre tooth tigers, Columbian Mammoths, wolves, condors, lions- you name it!

The next day, we took George to the infamous dog beach, and managed not to lose him. It was hilarious to once again see all of the pooches in their element. Even better- around 3pm we saw a pod of porpoises swimming by. They even started body surfing in the waves. The kids dug in the sand, screamed at the waves and got their toes wet. At one point, Annie came running up to me, kissed my cheek and said "Happy Summer Vacation, Mommy!". I'm sure next week I'll want to rethink my idea of a camp-free summer, but right now? We're in the honeymoon phase of summer.

That night, I arranged for a babysitter so the grownups once again made the trek to Los Angeles- this time to try Craft, Tom Colicchio's restaurant. We ate fois gras, homemade pasta, pork belly, shortribs, steak, risotto, morels, bread and butter pudding and a blackberry tart. This doesn't count all of the "amuse bouches" they kept gifting the table---- a mushroom custard with onion marmalade to start, a lemon meringue shot glass before dessert and pate de fruits and truffles after dinner. With the check, they brought us all blackberry muffins to take home. Excessive, but fun.

Today, we took the kids to a minor league baseball game in Long Beach. We ate hotdogs and roasted peanuts, and tried to explain the game to a 3 and 5 year old. We made it through 4 innings before they grew tired of eating and got bored. Minor league is pretty hilarious- kind of like watching the first half of the movie "Major League" in person. Sans Charlie Sheen.

So that's the last four days, in a nutshell. Methinks the next week will be a bit tame by comparison.

Friday, June 5, 2009

And No, I'm Not Taking Anti-depressants

Although technically summer doesn't "officially" start until a week or so from now, tonight it felt like summer. We had rain this morning, that opened up to a sunny afternoon with a sky filled with big, fat marshmallow clouds. The wind blew a bit, the grass seemed greener and everyone just seemed....mellow. Calmer.

My kids ate a late dinner, which didn't feel so late because the sun was still streaming through the windows. After they finished, they ran, in their barefeet, outside. They played ball with their puppy while I pulled a few weeds. The moon decided to make an early appearance, and as my kids climbed a tree and I swept the driveway, I remembered that feeling as a kid. The feeling of having the whole summer ahead of you. Of staying up late and sneaking in extra bits of fun.

My girls decided to wear matching night gowns to bed (the matching dresses they wore to school didn't seem to curb their twin habit) and they made up a new game. Each one takes turns "rocking" the other one to pretend sleep in the rocking chair- complete with very off kilter lullabies. It was a great ending to a really, really nice day.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Sweet Sixteen

I am here. Just insanely busy. With the end of the school year fast approaching, and a couple of projects heating up, I'm not able to Lollygag er... Lollyblog much anymore. This morning my husband ran out of clean underwear and socks, and since he announced this at 4:30am and I burrowed myself under my pillow, I wouldn't stand too close to him today. I bet he's a bit smelly. Or going commando.

In other news, my kids are now "ranking" their love meters. At Granny's house this weekend, my usually cup- over'floweth- with- love -for- Mommy 3 year old decided she had to sit next to her Granny. She then informed the table that she loved Mommy "16" and Granny "17." My Mom smiled, but then glanced at me with a worried face. I didn't really see this because I was too busy doing a jig and hightailing it out the door to go see Star Trek. Which I loved. Being 16 again has some advantages.

It is now 8:53am and I'm sitting here in my jammies. My kids are downstairs playing "squishy dolls" (cheapie princess dolls from the drugstore that hold magical powers and distract for long periods of time- go figure). Their school starts in 7 minutes and we have a 20 minute drive. I'm contemplating just keeping them home, which in a week from now when there's no place to take them, will make me roll my eyes with insanity.

I'm 16 you guys- we have no common sense.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Dirty Fish

Summertime is upon us, and unlike the rest of the country, we're a bit "Bleh" around here.

We eat out on our patio almost all year long. The beach is always 20 minutes away. Our neighborhood pool has been open for quite some time. The grass is perpetually green, the flowers always bloom.

Yawn. Sometimes great weather can be so boring.

So what did we do to shake things up? We had a bona fide date night, folks. With a real LIVE babysitter and an outing that did not involve Matt' s work. (The only date nights we've had since moving here have been to benefits where I came home with a puppy or drank too much and hid in the ladies room to avoid Matt's boss).

I put Matt in charge of the festivities. Which means at 6:30, he was shaking the crap out of his I-phone to find some decent places. (Oh Urban Spoon, you silly app- you really need to update your recommendations).

His I-phone led us to a sushi joint about 2 miles from our house. It's been there 30 years, and is "supposed" to be popular.

It's not.

It is dirty though.

A bit of history? I'm not much of a sushi fan. I've learned to work around certain things because my husband adores Japanese food. And when I was pregnant, it was all I wanted to eat, which was ironic and convenient at the same time. But this place? This place was G-R-O-S-S. They sat us at a booth next to the kitchen, and despite the Japanese banners covering the doorway, I could still see a dirt infested kitchen with multiple buckets filled with grey water.

My sushi tasted funny, which was all probably in my head, because I had visions of them dipping it in dirty bucket water before rolling it on their cute little bamboo mats.

I didn't eat very much, but my husband proclaimed the "Dirty Fish" (as we now call it) to be fantastic. He took pity on me and then drove me to a snazzy wine bar so I could wash out my mouth with a Sauvignon Blanc.

Next date night is all mine, folks. And after "Dirty fish" I think I'm going to take him to a reading of "Bridget Jones' Diary" and out for tampon shopping. It's the least I could do.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Completely Random and Useless

I don't really have anything interesting to post.

I do have a sink filled with dirty dishes, and yet I'm using my superpower abilities to turn them invisible and thus ignore them.

I spent yesterday afternoon planting petunias and other annuals (so named because you throw useless money away at them annually). They already look tired and droopy.

My kids are now reenacting their own UFC tournament, and I'm second guessing my decision for a camp-free summer.

I had my first Sprinkles cupcake yesterday (won't be my last, damn are those good) and it counterbalanced the gardening and my "30 Day Shred" attempt.

The 4.7 earthquake from the other night rattled more than my house. I keep thinking I'm feeling aftershocks.

I got my hair highlighted last week and the guy used a purple toner. I now look like an old lady. Say hello to LollyGranny!

I am secretly hoping I run into "DeeDee" again.

Did you know Jackie O was 31 years old when she became first lady? I read that in a book and it completely freaked me out. And made me feel lazy.

I'm making sausage and peppers for dinner. (Chicken sausage from Costco- and my secret ingredient is to sweat the peppers and onions, and then add a splash of apple vinegar, a bit of sugar and tomato paste. Lots of garlic and you're done! And smelly).

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Emperor's New Workout Clothes

Today, I had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. It really wasn't all that bad, I just like to quote random children's books.

Have I told you lately that I despise my kids' preschool? I truly do.

A big problem with the school is the parents. Not a big community feel there, folks. Lots of fancy cars, lots of big diamonds and expensive yoga outfits, but not a lot of substance, if you catch my snotty drift. This morning, I was driving in the parking lot when a white Escalade cut me off and made me slam on my brakes. I noticed her vanity plates said "Dee Dee", and "Dee Dee" barreled towards the school and hightailed it into a handicapped spot. Able bodied and dressed in very expensive workout clothes, "Dee Dee" slung her expensive Dolce bag over her shoulder and grudgingly released her son from his carseat.

I purposefully parked right next to her, and worked up my best pre-coffee Evil Eye. "Dee Dee" was oblivious to my morning voodoo and pranced herself into the school. The security guard did roll his eyes after she sashayed past. We then shared a regular folk giggle about how ridiculous Orange County can be.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Closed Curtains

So this is kind of uncomfortable to talk about, but we are experiencing the first serious illness of one of our friends. I need to be somewhat vague on this whole thing, but it's disturbing, and distressing. At this stage in our life, we should be bitching about poopie diapers and hectic days filled with too much to do.

We have a friend fighting for her life. With stage IV Breast cancer that has spread. My husband is in the thick of it, serving as a medical translator at times, sourcing new information and relaying encouraging words from experts in the field. But mostly? Mostly he's being there for his friend.

She is writing as this process unfolds, and I find her writing, in all of its honesty, to be completely disarming. I've always felt like mortality was this kind of curtain, that is always in front our our face but we choose to not see. When something happens- something like this- I feel like the curtain is whipped away and we're forced to look at something that has been there with us all along. Does that make sense? The Italians have an old saying- if you ask them how they are doing, they reply:
"Fine. For now."

They get it. They get that time is fleeting and that the shit will hit the fan eventually. It made this mothers day that much more bittersweet, and I must confess that I scooped up my little ones and hugged them a bit longer.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

My Bag Of Tricks Is Almost Empty

Today's surgery was a roaring success. The surgeon removed my Lucy's tonsils, and because he is a colleague of my husband's- he photographed them, and brought a copy of the photo out to the waiting room. Matt and Lucy's doctor huddled over the picture, and I overheard her surgeon exclaim, "Now those were some big gazongas!" (Note: must check WebMD for latest definition of "gazonga").

When I got to the recovery room, I tried to blot out the images of gurneys being rolled by with little kids strapped down, moaning from the anesthetic. I also tried to blot out my insensitive husband, who sees this stuff every day and would exclaim with glee "Look! Another Casualty!".

This was an outpatient clinic- so all of the kids around us were having ear tubes put in, or their tonsils and adnoids taken out. My lucky girl had all three. When I got to her, she was just coming to. They placed her in my arms, and I cradled her, and I kissed her, and then I tried to give her back.

She was pissed. Seriously, def-con level 3 mad. We tried to explain this to her in the days leading up to the procedure, but to a 3 year old, all you really hear is "What? I get to eat ice cream? FOR DINNER? FOR TWO WEEKS? Bring it on!".

The reality? Not so pleasant. She's grumpy. She's mad because her throat hurts. She's mad because I can't draw a butterfly exactly like her eight year old cousin. She's mad because there are bubbles in her bath, and then sobs when they all go down the drain. The dog licks her and it makes her scream. He scurries away and that makes her sob.

All joking aside, I am so grateful and blessed that this is all I have to complain about. That my little one is well enough to be crabby, and that we were out of there in 5 hours. And since I started sobbing like a banshee when they came to take her to the OR, I'm pretty sure the hospital was grateful to see me go too.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I Speak Nerd Fluently

Tomorrow, my 3 year old is getting her tonsils taken out. They are also removing her adnoids and putting in new ear tubes. I'm certainly not looking forward to the procedure, or the recovery- but it will be great to not have a little Darth Vader in bed with me at night. Her snoring and sleep apnea has gotten so out of control, that she awakens in the morning with dark circles under her eyes.

In other news, I went to the Apple store yesterday to get my macbook fixed. The power outlet stopped working, and although I dread having to visit the pompously named "Genius Bar", I'm continually amazed at Apple's awesome customer service.

My "Genius" had bigger boobs than me. He was wearing a blue t-shirt that read "Not all heroes wear capes" and I overheard him talking about the new Wolverine movie. He looked at me warily, fixed my problem in ten seconds, and grinned sheepishly when I loudly proclaimed:
"YOU ARE A GENIUS! THANKS SO MUCH SUPERMAN!"

We then got to talking, and I immediately slipped into my nerd lingo. I quoted a little Tolkien, discussed the movie "The Matrix" and talked my genius into putting a new top and keyboard on my out-of-date warrantied laptop for free. I promised to come visit him when the new i-phone comes out, and may convince him to let me take him to the spa next door to get his uni-brow waxed. And buy a man-bra.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Curious George

Yesterday I did something I've wanted to do since I moved here. We took George to Huntington beach- to this stretch of shoreline that is affectionately known as "Dog Beach."

It was hilarious. Picture puppy heaven- filled with frolicking pooches in the surf, sniffing each others' rear ends and chasing after endless tennis balls covered in sand. I immediately let George off his leash, and to my astonishment, he jumped in the surf to steal a ball from some Golden named Scout. I wasn't even sure he could swim. I'm not sure he knew either, but he was just going with the flow, folks. He had friends to impress.

With his snout covered in sand, George ran around, making buddies and running in and out of the water at breakneck speed. I started to relax, and waved to Matt and the kids who were watching the action farther up the beach. I popped my toes in the water, and made casual conversation with the owner of a 4 month old bulldog named Buddha.

And then I looked up.

And that's when I realized that George was gone.

GONE. G-O-N-E. I couldn't find him anywhere.

Not in the water, not stealing tennis balls, not up the beach- he was nowhere to be found. I walked down one side of the beach, and found about 10,000 other Black labs, but no George.

I walked back to Matt and the kids, hoping he may have popped back for a drink or a biscuit, but no luck. Instead, I instilled an air of fear with my kids who suddenly started yelling "WHERE'S THE DOG, MOM?" WHERE'S MY DOG? DID YOU LOSE OUR DOG?"

This Saturday went from happy to shitsville in the blink of one bulldog eye.

I plastered a fake smile on my face, and told the family I was going to walk down the shoreline again. That George was just playing a game, and I would bring him back. And then I walked. And walked. AND WALKED. Clutching my blue leash, I looked like some dog predator that scrutinized every single black lab to see if someone was trying to walk away with my now potty trained, and somewhat behaved dog. I started to think- was he stolen? Did he drown? Is he making out with some poodle under the pier?

About 2 miles away, I gave up and went to the nearby lifeguard stand. Sheepishly, I admitted I had lost my dog. The guy laughed, said no one ever steals dogs from Dog Beach, and that he would radio in to the other towers. I started to walk back to my family, empty handed, and not sure how I was going to face my kids when the guy ran up and said they had found George THREE MILES in the OPPOSITE direction.

My pooch? Apparently he's a runner. He looked a bit sheepish when I rescued him from the lifeguard office. But to my dismay, he also looked the tiniest bit proud. I've got to rest up if we're ever trying that outing again.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Land Versus World

Dear friends from Orlando are visiting with us this week, and we somehow managed to sneak in a day to Disneyland so they could compare theme parks. For those that are not Disney obsessed, you may be interested in knowing:

Disneyland is much smaller. MUCH much smaller. Our castle looks like a miniature golf course castle compared to Disney World's. My friends almost wet their pants when they saw it. But hey! It's the original!

We have an Indiana Jones ride at Land, World does not. (But they have a gazillion other stuff that Land does not because they have the space to do so people!)

Apparently, our Toontown is better.

There is no New Orleans at Disneyworld. (This is our favorite place to hang out at night).

DWorld has a whole Star Wars convention with marching storm troopers and everything. We have a ride, and a Jedi Knight training camp. We do have our share of freaks though; that comes naturally this side of the MIssissippi.

DLand will give you free refills, and put your drinks in "to go " cups if you ask. DWorld, not so much.

"It's a Small World" is a bigger deal at DLand. Probably because it is the "smaller world."

We just got our first Food Fair, DWorld has been doing this for years. I want to go to Epcot!

We still have Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. DWorld converted theirs into Winnie the Pooh.

DLand has the coveted, hidden, "Club 33"- the private club where Walt and 32 of his buddies could gather for a drink.

There's probably a gazillion other ones, but if anybody is headed out to Anaheim anytime soon, give me a shout and I'll ride Splash Mountain with you. Extra bonus points if it's 102 degrees like it was on Monday. Poor Mickey almost looked like he was going to have heat stroke.

Monday, April 20, 2009

He's His Own Shel Silverstein Poem

Scene: set in our family room, my husband, fully dressed, lays in a heap on our couch. I'm sitting on the end, with his feet in my lap, looking concerned.

Him: "I'm sick." he moans.
Me: "I know." I say, as I pat his feet. "I'm sorry."

Him: "No really, I'm sick." he says.
Me: "I know."

Him: "No really, my stomach feels horrible." he says.
Me: "What did you eat for lunch?" I ask.
Him: "Ummm.... El Burrito?"
Me: "You're kidding, right?" (El Burrito is a Mexican shack that serves up burritos bigger than your head, and incidentally, happens to be located next door to a veterinarian).

Him: "No, but I'm also really, really hot. I can't get comfortable". he replies, indignantly.
Me: "Hmmm..." (now admittedly, it was 90 degrees yesterday, and it was hot. But my husband, who seems to have developed an allergic reaction to casual clothing, is always fully dressed in wool slacks, a long sleeved dress shirt, and wool socks).

Me: "So let me get this straight. You ate a 4000 calorie burrito of questionable meat for lunch, and are now sitting through a heat wave dressed from head to toe in wool. Do I have this right?"
Him: "Oh forget it". (but he did start to giggle).

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Landslide

Yikes. I got a call from my little brother this morning that went something like this:

"Hey!" My brother says. "Did you hear the news?"
Since his wife is like 102 weeks pregnant, I assumed his little daughter made her grand debut.

"Did Amber have the baby?" I ask.
"No, but Dad broke his leg in two places and shattered his elbow." he replies.

My parents spend every Tuesday night at the local bowling alley, bowling with a lot of their teacher friends. Since my Dad retired from the airforce and became a high school teacher, my parents have the most active social life of anyone I know. They bowl together, they play bridge, they have a dinner group every Friday. They follow baseball teams around and do crazy things like see Billy Joel/Elton John and Bruce Springsteen in the same week. To get some time with them means you have to pencil it in WAY in advance. Seriously.

Anyhoo, my Dad was trying to bowl for a turkey (If you don't know what that is, come over and play some Wii Bowling with my five year old and she'll definitely show you) and apparently he slipped on some grease on the floor and went down for the count. They are waiting for the orthopedic surgeon to become available, and then his ankle is getting operated on.

He's bummed. He's a bit grumpy. He's depressed that he can't play golf, or work in his garden, or drive his new car around. But he's not so sad that he can't go see Fleetwood Mac next month. He got tickets for my Mom's birthday.

A Whiter Shade of Pale

I did something really stupid. REALLY, really stupid. I should know better. I should just accept myself for who I am, and stop trying to be who I am not.

I tried a self home tanner.

I now look like a stripey, orange clown.

My husband is embarrassed to be seen with me, and the Easter bunny at brunch on Sunday started giggling inside of his fake bunny head.

Sigh. I'm pale, I know I'm pale, and yet, every spring, I try to forget that I'm naturally, well, more akin to the albino in "The DaVinci Code" than the Beyonce I feel on the inside.

And if you're even thinking about buying the Loreal Sublime At Home Humiliator? At least do yourself a favor and go for the cream and not the spray. Trust me. I speak from some bright orange experience.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Google

We're a mixed bag of religions in this house. A mutt of spirituality, if you will. My husband's family is Jewish, so we celebrated passover at my sister-in-law's last night. They asked me to bring a kugel. My mother-in-law chuckled when I was given the task, and has repeatedly asked me if I knew which kind I was going to make. I started to get sweaty kugel knuckles.

I've never cooked a kugel before. I've gone to confession, and knelt a lot in church, but a kugel? I accepted the challenge.I asked my husband if he had a favorite recipe, and he made a face and said "blech, no one likes to eat those. Sweet noodle dishes are nasty."

He wasn't taking into account the tastebuds of the six and under set. I found an awesome kugel recipe on smittenkitchen.com and gave it a try. Putting it together was a little off putting. It has a LOT of butter, and before it set into a custard-like consistency, it looked a bit funky, and gelatinous. But when it baked? My house smelled delicious.

When we started serving dinner, my 3 year old started to yell for some "Google!" "GOOGLE! Where's my Mommy's Google! My Mommy made us a Google!"

Why was this night different than all other nights? We ate a Google, y'all. And it was tasty.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Nosy Neighbor

So, my little community of 13 homes now has its first casualty of the economy. The open house we stumbled upon way back when we were looking for a house has now gone into foreclosure. The guy that used to own it is a realtor, and his income went from a gazillion dollars to nothing faster than you can say "bad hair plugs." (sadly, he still has those).

I really feel bad for the guy, but marvel at how he's handled it. When we bought our house, he paid us a visit and basically interrogated me as to why I didn't buy HIS house. He hasn't paid his home owners fees since last March, and my first board meeting centered around how to handle this. He has sent an email out to the community apologizing for his debt, and is trying hard to remedy the situation. Yesterday, the bank took possession and slapped a 3 day eviction notice to his door. Today, he spent most of the day lounging by the pool. Nothing has been moved.

His house is huge- well over 3600 square feet, and fully furnished. It would take a slew of folks to get that thing packed and moved in 2 days. I feel like the nosy neighbor in Bewitched- but I'll keep y'all posted.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Update

In the last week and a half, I've lost 4.5 lbs. Then, I go to sushi and am now retaining so much water, I look like I should be flying over a football stadium. Sigh.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Growing Pains

I took Annie to our local elementary school to drop off her registration packet for kindergarten. She strutted down the halls, telling me how big she is now, and how excited she is for next year. She made the school secretary guffaw by announcing to everyone in the local vicinity that she is now 5 1/2, and more than ready to go to kindergarten. The secretary shot me a secret look of glee that quickly turned to pity when she noticed that I was about to lose my swizzle shit.

I'm not a crier. I'm not an emotional person. In fact, during moments of drama or high stress, I'm more apt to make an inappropriate joke or giggle than to burst into tears. I'm not being insensitive, it's just how I do things. Tell me my Mom has a brain tumor? We're going to immediately start making hairstyle jokes. (true story). Cat dying in the backyard and my girlfriend crushes up drugs to sedate her before I can get her to the vet? I think I'm being punked as a storyline for Desperate Housewives.

So it mostly surprised me that this little jaunt to the school office would affect me so much. It sounds so cliche, but it just seems like it's going so, so fast. Her elementary school smells EXACTLY like my elementary school--- Elmers glue, stinky sneakers and construction paper. But the kids look so BIG, so much more (stupid word here) sophisticated. I know the next logical step is to have Annie put a ban on all things Disney Princess and move on to slutty Hannah Montana, but I feel like (especially with girls) that we are at a crossroads to keep our children as young as humanly possible.

And ironically, this school trip taught me that I'm the one that has to mature a little bit.