Tuesday, December 27, 2005

a slight misunderstanding

Charlotte has asked the same question the past two mornings, upon waking. "Did Santa come last night?" I think she's not quite grasping the whole one night per year visitation.

Wouldn't it be swell to get Christmas every day? It would, if you weren't Santa. Heh.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

a minor christmas miracle

ChaCha woke up at about 5.30am, fussy and unhappy. By the time I got there, the big girls were kind of awake. I said, "Why don't we all go back to sleep for a little bit? It's still very, very early." Without any complaint, on Christmas morning, my kids went back to bed. And slept until almost 9.

Honestly, it was just the Christmas morning we all needed. We all seem to be on the mend, Santa stopped by, and now it's almost time for dinner.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

have yourself a merry little christmas

If you're familiar, this is the saddest, most poignant of all Christmas songs. It's from "Meet Me in St. Louis" and, while melancholy, is also a little hopeful.

This has been a fine year for us. But the past week of illness, hitting right before Christmas, has left us all a little glum and down. Would we get everything done that needed to be done? Will we feel well enough to even enjoy Christmas?

"Until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow..."

Friday, December 23, 2005

ping pong

So, as we all recuperate, what better thing to do than watch the original "King Kong"?

Cha kept calling it Ping Pong. And, when Kong was fighting all the people at the end of the Skull Island sequence, Bebe said, "Why is he so mad?" And ChaCha answered, "Because the monkey wants his woman!"

I may still be a tad feverish, but I think my 3 year old has come up with the perfect tagline for "King Kong": Because the monkey wants his woman.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

fever 2: electric boogaloo

Whee! We're all sick. After I picked Bebe up from school yesterday, I started to feel shaky and unsteady. By an hour later, I had a fever and the chills combined with a nasty cough which forced Archie, who was also getting sick, to get the kids fed and off to bed.

Today, Lulu was running a fever again and Bebe was complaining of having wibbly wobbly legs. So, I loaded my own sick butt in the car and took their homework down to the school and picked up their holiday homework. Cha would come over to the couch and ask me to play -- I felt badly but I just couldn't.

I'm starting to feel a little bit better, but not much. I hope we can pull Christmas together. I think we can, but Arch and I are going to be fairly miserable, I think. We may have to save the annual Christmas dinner for another day when we all feel better.

Monday, December 19, 2005


Lulu has a fever. She's so hot and flushed. And just worn out, poor thing. Usually, she's a firecracker, with her orange hair and her too-loud voice and her endless energy. Today she's been limp and anything she says is a whisper.

I hate when any of the kids are sick, but Louisa always worries me. She's so skinny and when she's ill, she seems so fragile. I worry when Bebe or ChaCha are sick, but they're so solid that I feel as if they can weather an infection or a fever. With Lou, even a cold can seem like a battle.

I'm a fairly pragmatic parent -- I don't call the doctor or after-hours care for any little sniffle or sneeze. But I can be a doctor or nurse's worst nightmare -- a parent with a high-speed internet connection and a browser with built-in Google. Last year, I was convinced that Lulu had meningitis and the night nurse had to talk me down.

When I put Lulu in bed for the night, I mentioned she'd probably need to stay home tomorrow. She quietly said, "But Mama -- my perfect attendance! Can't I just go to school and then come home in an hour? Then I can still have my perfect attendance." Even when she's sick, she worries about that damn award. I told her I was more concerned that she gets a lot of rest and that her fever will come down as her body fights off whatever infection or invader has gotten in.

So, I'll be up and down all night, taking her temperature every few hours and giving her some more Motrin in a while. Making her take a few sips of juice. Uncovering her when she feels too hot and covering her up when she starts to shiver. Sitting on the edge of her bed, stroking her hot, flushed cheek as she sleeps fitfully. It's one of the times when I'm needed most and the one time when being needed makes me feel awful.

12 anniversaries

Some have been romantic, some have been forgotten in the chaos of children and life. One was mentioned, briefly, just before midnight in a rented minivan somewhere in Indiana. Last year, we commented on being married for 11 years and then spoke about our undying hate and I asked for a divorce. (All a joke, in case you don't know us.)

So, here comes the sap. I love you very much, sweetie. I can't believe it's been 12 years. I would do it all over again.

Thanks for the candy! (He just gave me 2 boxes of See's candy. Ain't he sweet?)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

not ready for christmas

I haven't bought a single gift. I haven't been to the grocery to buy the necessary stuff for dinner and desserts for the big day. We do have the tree up and decorated. But everything else is, most decidedly, not done.

What have I been doing? Looking at clothes and stationery online. And shoes.

And I've watched "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" roughly 400 times in the past week.

Thank goodness there are a few days left to shop and wrap.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

small comfort

She was standing on the sidewalk in downtown Palo Alto. It was around lunchtime -- lots of people walking past. She was almost a fixture -- the crazy lady with the shopping cart and the baby doll, mumbling to herself. But this day, she was crying and begging, "Leave me alone! Leave me alone!" Yelling at the voices that only she could hear.

Archie walked a little past her, and then turned and said, loudly, "Leave her alone!"

As he turned and began to walk on, he heard her say, "Thank you."

Friday, December 16, 2005

everybody hurts

We're all sick, to some degree. I have a low-level case of the blahs with a cough for added excitement. Lou and Archie are getting over fairly evil colds. Poor Bebe is right in the miserable stage of the cold. Charlotte seems mostly OK, except she has a little cough and has been sneezing like crazy. (I always say, "Bless you!" when she sneezes and she always says, "Thank you!" But if I'm not paying close enough attention, she'll say, loudly, "I sneezed, Mama! Bless me!")

I hate when the kids are sick. But at least they can all tell me where and what hurts, now. It was terrible when they were babies and toddlers. I still remember Christmas 2000, when the twins were about 17 months old. Archie was very sick for several days leading up to Christmas. This meant that I was completely responsible for the kids all the time and I had to do all the Christmas shopping on my own, too. Then the girls and I got sick -- fevers, aches (I think the girls were ache-y; I certainly was), coughs, and general listlessness. Archie went back to work, and the girlies and I camped on the couch and watched Nick Jr. all day. Every time I had to change a diaper, it took a tremendous effort on my part.

The capper to the week of sick was New Year's Eve, when Archie went out to get some food and I had to call him on his cell and beg him to come home. I'd put the girls to bed, but Lulu was crying about an hour later. She had vomited in her crib. I got her out and cleaned her up and changed her pajamas. Then she started walking around and crying and puked on the move. When Archie finally got home, she was in her fourth pair of jammies and all I wanted to do was get out of my soaked clothes.

Thankfully, no puking right now. Just the general crabbiness that comes from nasty colds. Maybe Santa should bring us all some Ny-Quil.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


We're watching "Everybody Hates Chris". It's the Christmas episode and Chris wants a Walkman. The year is 1982 and they show a guy singing along to the Tears for Fears song "Shout".

"That's wrong. I don't think that song came out until several years later -- like 84 or 85." Archie said, "I think you're right." And, through the power of modern technology, I now know "Songs from the Big Chair" was released in 85.

Several questions arise:

1. Don't TV shows have someone who checks these things?
2. Why do I have this crap stuck in my head?
3. Why do I care?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

space chicken!

In March of '94, Archie and I drove to Austin to visit with his good friend, Joel, and to enjoy SXSW. (Why, yes, this was when we were both still in our 20s and under the illusion that we were semi-cool in our musical taste. Currently, I'm 40 and under no such illusions. I was excited last week when I actually could identify a song by a current popular group.) We stayed with Joel and his roommate Steven and ate lots of good food and attended concerts and drank lots of Shiner Bock. We slept in late (SXSW coincided with Spring Break and Joel and Steven had the week off since they were a teacher and librarian, respectively) and watched some movies in the late mornings/early afternoons. On VHS. On a tiny 13 inch TV. Remember 1994?

One early afternoon, we decided to watch "A Brief History of Time" -- an Erroll Morris documentary about Stephen Hawking. Keep in mind the 13 inch TV and also that it was a sunny afternoon. The movie starts with a field of stars and a voiceover in Hawking's IBM-manufactured voice. "Which came first -- the chicken or the egg?" And then a large chicken appears in front of all the stars.

Now, the appearance of the chicken may have been a tiny bit alarming in a theater, where it would have been extremely large. But on a small TV, it was just kind of amusing. Yet, when the chicken appeared, we all heard this squeaky gasp, and we looked to see Steven clutching at the neck of his t-shirt, and then he sort of fanned himself. We were all a bit confused and asked him what was wrong.

"The space chicken frightened me!"

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

woe. misery. sadness.

Anyone who has read along for a few months (or worked through the archives), may remember that I am a slave to the deliciousness that is Diet Vanilla Coke (or Vanilla Diet Coke or Heroin in a Can). It is, really, precious, life-giving fluid.

Lately, I haven't been able to buy a case (OK, OK, several cases -- happy now?) from our local grocery. Archie has even been searching and can't find any. It has been a puzzle. One I wasn't overly concerned about because I am easy and will consume any Coke version, if the need arises. But, still.

And then I read a blog post where a person was also bemoaning the lack of Diet Vanilla Coke. Hmm.

A quick Google search determined that the evil pushers at the Coca-Cola Company have discontinued my beloved fix. I am still a little in shock. I may never taste perfection again.

Except that in 2006 they'll be debuting Black Cherry Vanilla Diet Coke. Maybe I'll live.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

does nokia know about this?

We have a fabric Nativity set that my sister-in-law made for the girls. The main attraction is that the Baby Jesus is removable from the manger. After dinner this evening, Bebe came into the kitchen, clutching the replica of the newborn Messiah to her ear.

"Baby Jesus is my cellphone!"

I couldn't stop laughing to ask what his ringtone is.

doin' da butt

"Hey, Charlotte! Guess what?"
"Chicken butt!"


"Guess what?"
"Duck butt!"


"Cha, guess what?"
"Snake butt!"
"Mama. Snakes do not have butts. Snakes only have tails!"


"Mama! Mama! Guess what?"
"Charlotte butt!"

(Child pulls down her pants and wiggles her backside. We're oh, so very sophisticated around here.)

Saturday, December 10, 2005

popular -- in a good way

When I went to the girls' parent-teacher conferences, Bebe's teacher asked me if I had any concerns. I asked if she had friends; if she got along with the other kids. I said I often watched the girls when they dropped their backpacks off at the classrooms and Beebs would just stand there, looking a little sad and lonely and it worried me a bit. Her teacher laughed and said, "Oh, Elizabeth is very popular. All her classmates like her, she's helpful, and she makes them laugh. Yeah, she's really popular with the other kids."

Now, as someone who was most decidedly not popular, I am both comforted and concerned. I knew kids growing up who were popular and kind of mean and nasty. And I don't want my kids to be that kind of popular. But the teacher's comments lead me to believe that maybe Bebe will be popular in a good way -- liked and also kind and open to all kids. I hope she'll be like a classmate of mine -- Laura Sass.

(I'm putting her name here because maybe she'll Google herself and see that I thought she was neat-o. Heh.)

I went all through school with Laura. She was pretty, with long blonde hair and blue eyes and freckles across her nose. I was so enamored of those freckles that I tried to give myself some with my mom's eyebrow pencil. As we went through school, she always invited me to her slumber parties -- I felt like the odd person out, but she was so kind and friendly to me when lots of kids weren't. In high school, she was a cheerleader and had a completely different circle of friends from me.

But one day, I saw her do something that I thought was terribly sweet. The cheerleaders would make up these mascot things, one for each player and they'd tape them to the wall in the lobby on Friday before the football games. Before the first class, girlfriends of the players would take the ones for their boyfriends and put them in their lockers (the girlfriends' lockers, that is). Girls who liked certain players would take down the ones of the boys they liked. Of course, there were always players whose mascots would be left on the wall -- no one wanted them. I came late to school one morning and saw Laura taking down the leftover decorations. As I was signing in at attendance, I watched her walk to her locker and stick them inside the door to display them. She could have thrown them away. But, instead, she displayed them as if those boys were worthy and deserving. Which, of course, they were and she recognized that. That one small act by a very well-liked and popular girl has stuck with me.

So, I hope that my Elizabeth, if she continues to be popular, can handle that with as much grace and charm as Laura. There should be no shame in being well-liked. Especially if you deserve to be.

Friday, December 09, 2005

a mysterious plot.

Last night, Archie picked up a little notepad left on the floor. He read the writing and said, "Oh my God! What in the hell is this?" He seemed genuinely upset. He handed me the pad and written on the first page was the following:

Prtend to be dead. Ues handcuffs. Distact him.

(Translation: Pretend to be dead. Use handcuffs. Distract him.)

Archie was freaked out and concerned about what this could possibly mean and why a 6 year old would write it. I joked that he was so worried because it was obviously about him -- what with Archie being the only male in the house. I was unconcerned because the list was obviously not referring to me. "Been nice knowing you, honey. Sorry one of the girls is out to get you."

Being a dad, Archie did take the time to note that there were only 3 spelling errors.

This morning, I asked the big girls which of them had written the list and what it meant. Louisa 'fessed up that it was her handiwork and it described ways to get Lance. Lance is the current focus of that time-honored playground obsession of chasing a member of the opposite sex. So, she could play dead and lure him close to her so she could "get" him. (I believe "get" means grabbing him and squealing in his face.) Or she could use handcuffs (although I don't know where she's gonna get those). Or she could distract him and then pounce.

Don't be fooled, Lance! Run like the wind!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

my mother is a genius.

When you get married, people love to give you advice about how to have a successful relationship. The most popular one is, "Never go to bed angry."

The night before the Big Day, I mentioned this bit of wisdom to my mother. She laughed. "Kate, a good night's sleep trumps everything. A fight'll keep. Brush your teeth and get some rest, I say."

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

why do i remember this?

When I was in college, I had two friends I goofed around with -- Joe and Milo. (Milo wasn't his real name. I just called him that because he looked like the illustration of Milo in "The Phantom Tollbooth".) Both were from the suburbs of Chicago and they were smart and funny. Joe was the next to youngest in an Italian-American family with 9 kids. Milo was the third in an Irish-American family of 4. They had a lot in common, including a love for the Cubs and an obsession with The Who.

We were in the dining hall one night in the first week of school. Everyone was eating spaghetti. We were all chatting and suddenly, Joe laid down his fork and spoon and said, "What in the hell are you doing?" Milo looked around and said, "Are you talking to me?" "Yeah. What are you doing?"

Milo looked down at his plate. "I'm cutting my spaghetti."

Joe looked as though he would have a stroke. "Why would you do that? Don't you know that cutting the noodles changes their molecular structure? You are messing up your food on an atomic level!"

Milo looked unconcerned. "Yeah. But it's easier to eat if I cut it up."

Joe shook his head. "You can never come for dinner at my folks' house. My mom and dad would kill you."

Saturday, December 03, 2005


This morning we took the girls to the Christmas party at Archie's work. They had a blast -- cookies and Goldfish crackers (red and green!) and juice. A craft. Pictures with Santa. Plus, the twins were ecstatic to see their new friend (the daughter of Archie's colleague). The party was winding down right about lunch, so we invited the other family to have luch with us at a local restaurant. That went swimmingly. Charlotte got a bit squirrely after she finished eating, so she and I beat feet to the car where we listened to some tunes on the iPod (hooked into the car radio). She fell asleep. Archie came out with the big girls about 15 minutes later and by the time we got home all the girlies were snoozing.

We had dinner and got ready for slumber party night. The feature presentation was "Babe". About halfway through the movie, the girls were goofing around and I heard a thud and then a scream. Lulu had pushed ChaCha, who hit the floor and bit into her lip. As I picked her up, blood splattered on the floor. I hustled her into the kitchen and hissed at Lou to sit on the living room couch. She had bitten up her bottom lip (I thought at first glance that we'd have to make a trip to the emergency room for stitches). Once she'd had some Motrin and Archie and I wiped up the blood on her face and hands (and everyone admired the gore on my sweatshirt), things looked a little better. But, ow. Poor baby. She passed out on the family room floor shortly after sitting on my lap and saying, so very sadly, "Louisa pushed me and I bit my lip and it was bloody. It was terrible, Mama!"

I guess we had a little more rodeo than slug around these parts, today.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

i wish i had plumbing knowledge.

We got our first quote to fix the plumbing problem and it was $7K. We got our second quote today -- a smidge over $3K. Is the first one what it will cost and the second guy is just a loser? Or is the first guy scamming us for lots of extra cash and the second plumber an ethical operator who is making a small profit, but not trying to gouge us?

Who knows. We're getting another estimate or two and then probably going with the cheapest. And then we will all pray that the plumbing never does this again.

rain, rain, go away.

But it won't go away. The rain, that is. It is now officially winter because the rain is here to stay. I hate winter in California. It just doesn't feel very winter-y. I crave snow and actual, real cold.

In other news, I have been called a bad mother by my kids. One of their friends had a birthday party on Sunday and guess who forgot? That would be me. And every day I've been reminded that we forgot Nikki's birthday and we didn't get to go to the party and oh, the sadness. The misery.

Bebe and Lulu have become real readers. This makes me so happy. A few weeks ago, we bought the latest Lemony Snicket book and Lou was wondering if she could possibly read the series. I thought the sentence structure alone was too complex for a six year old -- all the rambling and description. But I said she could try. And she started with the first book. I would occasionally ask her what was going on, plotwise, and she could tell me. Also, she would giggle and come to me to point out a joke. I was very impressed. She's on the fourth book and Bebe has started the first one. All the girls go to bed at the same time (and share a room), but I'm letting the big girls read in bed for a bit after smooches and squeezes. They love it. Santa's bringing some book lights, I think. Lou is borrowing Archie's and Elizabee stretches out by the door and reads by the hallway light. I think they'll be thrilled to have their own reading lights.