Wednesday, December 26, 2007

being a smartass

I was watching a NOVA about Isaac Newton and I was highly amused that another member of the Royal Society was always trying to both discredit Newton's findings and yet claim that he had thought of them first. That's a nice trick.

But the best thing was when they spoke about Newton having a nervous breakdown which led to him attacking his few friends -- among them John Locke. He apparently accused Locke of trying to ply him with women.

I thought it would be hilarious if Locked had replied, "You just need to get laid."

and then it was over

On Christmas Eve, my children all swore they would never be able to sleep. We roasted marshmallows, put out cookies and milk, and put out the stainless mixing bowl for the reindeer (carrots, oats, and sugar cubes). The kids were out within 15 minutes of hitting their beds.

Then Lou woke up at midnight and Bebe stumbled out about 20 minutes later and I had to stay up so that they could go back to sleep and their stocking could make it to the foot of their beds. I was almost asleep when I heard frantic whispering followed by gigantic children thumping out of bed (and the inevitable squeaks when Charlotte got out of her bed). There was racing down the hallway and then back, with cries of, "It's one o'clock!" This woke Archie, who I could tell wanted to go to the door and yell for the kids to go to sleep. I was laughing. The hubub subsided and I fell asleep.

Then I woke up to more running sounds and it was light out. The girls came in our room, "Santa came! We got our stockings and the cookies are eaten! Get up, get up, get up!" So we got up and unwrapped presents and everyone was amazed at what a great job Santa had done, which always tickles me. I will be sad when that ends.

Then Archie went back to bed, the girls played, and I stretched out on the couch and watched Elf. At about noon, our friend Scott came over and we shifted into cooking mode. And drinking mode. Several hours later, we were all tucking into perfectly cooked roast beast and Yorkshire pudding. I fell into a meat and wine coma and Cha and I had a lovely nap.

We took a walk once it was dark to look at Christmas lights, which was really fun. Usually it's been raining, so we just drive around. Walking was nice, especially since we'd all eaten so much. Back home, pumpkin pie and watching the SpongeBob Christmas special and then bed for little girls.

It was just about a perfect day. There was no screaming and lots of fun. Too bad it only comes once a year.

Monday, December 24, 2007

thank you, comcast

Oh, it will be such a very, merry Christmas -- all thanks to Comcast. I just saw a commercial for their "Holiday Yule Log." Three hours tomorrow morning of a crackling, burning fire, all accompanied by Christmas music. And, as the ad promised, "Completely commercial-free!"

Because everyone really hates a Christmas Day televised Yule log interrupted by commercials.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

more thoughts centered on tv

OK, OK, we watch a lot of TV. Whatever. At least it was PBS today!

We were watching a Christmas special with the San Francisco Boys Choir. But I didn't realize it was a boys choir because we tuned in about mid-telecast during a handbell interlude. Archie (who was in the Phoenix Boys Choir way back when) said, "Oh, I remember that so well."

"What? You were not only in a boys choir, you were in a handbell choir, too? That's so twee."

The best part, though, was that there were late-teens shading into young adult guys in the very back -- Archie said they were probably former members who come back to sing at the big boys choir-Christmas-handbell-tweefest. OK, he didn't say that, exactly -- that may just be my characterization of the entire thing. But, anyway, as one song ended, the camera focussed in on two older guys who did a respect knuckles thing. It was hilarious! Because, I like to imagine that one guy leaned into the other and whispered, "Dude, we still got it. Let's hit a club later and pick up some chicks. The ladies will totally be falling all over us when we tell them we were in the boys choir and know how to play handbells!"

Saturday, December 22, 2007

my next career move

Archie and I were watching Desk Set today. It was very fun to watch the characters talk about computers in super-simplistic terms since the audience for this film was certainly not technology savvy in 1957. (And, look at me, using IMDb to get the release date -- how far we've come, huh?)

Anyway, the best part of the movie was when it was stated that Spencer Tracy's character went to MIT. He had a PhD in science. Science! Because, as we all know, in the 50s there was only one scientific degree you could earn -- no specialization whatsoever.

It's my plan for my next career -- earning a degree in science from MIT.

and sancho panza was his sidekick

A while back, the girls were reading their Tintin books. Elizabeth asked, "Mom, how do you say q-u-i-x-o-t-e?"

"That's Quixote, baby. Don Quixote. He's the title character in a novel written in Spanish..." and I went on to outline the basic story. And then, I sang "The Impossible Dream" -- and surprised myself that I still knew all the lyrics.

When I was finished, Bebe said, "Mom. Why is it when I ask you how to pronounce something you give me a lecture on Spanish literature and then finish it up with a song? Can I read my book now?"

Thursday, December 20, 2007

the calm before the storm

The girls are asleep and I'm watching HGTV.  It's very quiet because Archie is at a party for a coworker who is leaving to go to officer training in the Marine Corps.  The party is at Chuck E. Cheese.  Why?  Because this very tall, attractive guy (who is gonna look smoking in dress blues) loves Chuck E. Cheese.  If the girls didn't have school tomorrow, we'd have all gone.

All I can say is, thank God for school.  Because Chuck E. Cheese is awful.  Except for the skeeball game.  The skeeball game is the best.

Anyway, it's calm and quiet and tomorrow is the last day of school before vacation.  While we usually have relaxing, non-stressful holidays, there is always the joy of three girls who are all together and picking on each other for the duration.  That's not so fun and restful.  And it gets worse once Christmas is over because the Santa threat is ineffective.

I'm just enjoying the relaxing where I can get it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

a sunny day in phoenix

14 years ago Archie and I were married.  Look how young and happy we were.  We're now old and bitter.  OK, I lie, we're just old, but still pretty happy.  

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

laughing at my husband

I was surfing and Archie was watching a movie --something with Jessica Alba. All of a sudden he let out a groan and yelled, "No fair! No! That's wrong!"

"What?" Arch hit rewind on the TiVo and this guy is unwrapping some scarf or sarong or whatever from Alba's torso. Just as he's about to expose her boobs, she turns around so her bare back is what we see. And Archie pauses it and says, "See? That's so wrong! Don't you think that's wrong?"

And I laughed and laughed and asked, "Honey, you do realize I'm a woman, right? And I don't care if I see Jessica Alba's breasts or not?"

Monday, December 17, 2007

favorite twitters

None of these are mine. But I love them so much.

Sam: Nothing like drinking an armagnac that was distilled during de Gaulle's administration
Archie: Does it taste like it wants out of NATO?


Tobin: To us, it is Knitterday. But for the poor balls of helpless fiber, it is the YARNOCAUST.

locked out

I walked out the door, to drive the girls to school, thinking, "Don't lock the front door. Don't lock the front door." As we parked and the girls clambered out of the car, I thought, "Shit. I think I locked the front door." Upon arriving back at the house, I swore a little more creatively as I tried to open the locked door.

The problem is that my house keys are on a keychain attached to my wallet in my purse, which I still don't always think to grab. The only thing that saved me from standing on my front porch was that Archie is on vacation and was still in bed. He grouchily said, as he opened the door, "Forgot your keys again?"

I may have to address the issue of having my house keys and my car keys on separate keychains.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

a summer day at the beach

If it's cold where you are, maybe a little glimpse at a day at the beach will warm you up a little. We were in Santa Cruz, about four and a half years ago. I can't believe how little my big girls were! The baby is Charlotte, Louisa is the redhead, and Elizabeth is the brunette. I'm the one in the huge t-shirt and jeans and Archie was working the camera. Sun, sand, and Pacific Ocean with a soundtrack by the Ramones and some cavorting children. What could be better?

Friday, December 14, 2007

and a happy hanu-shark to you, too

Charlotte is developing a very rich imaginative life. Either that, or she's presenting with schizophrenia at a very young age. So we'll go with the former.

On the walk home from kindergarten, she was telling me about her most recent conversation with Princess and Benny. Princess is her class fish -- a blue Beta. And Benny is the afternoon class fish who is red.

Cha: Princess said she needed a reef.
Me: A reef? Is her bowl big enough for that?
Cha: Yes! Because she wants some decorations. For the holiday.
Me: Decorations? Oh, you mean a wreath. A wreath is the round decoration; a reef is a group of coral -- like in Finding Nemo.
Cha: OK, the fish want wreaths to decorate for the holiday.
Me: What holiday are they celebrating?
Cha: Fishmas!

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Bleh. I still feel kind of tired. I spent most of today napping on the couch because my husband worked from home and picked the kids up from school and made sure we were all fed at appropriate times. I still had to get the girlies up and to school and then make sure they finished their homework and off to bed.

Archie would like me to tell you that I made a huge error last night. I ate ice cream directly out of the carton. I tainted the ice cream! As Archie just said, "Tainter!"

[Did I disappoint you people looking for something else? Nothing but the fact that I ate some ice cream when I was sick and contaminated it. God, you people with your minds in the gutter. Heh.]

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


I've been feeling tired and awful all day. I've also been struggling with bronchitis and asthma problems since late October. I am worn out. The chills are arriving. I should just be in bed. I think some flu or other has decided I would be a good hostess. Fuck you, flu.

Did I mention I have a dentist appointment tomorrow? Yeah, I don't think I'm going to make that.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

kajukenbo, bowling, and race cars

I didn't write about our fantastically busy Saturday. It was something.

So, on Friday, Archie and I got home from the party at about 1am. He and the twins had to be at the dojo for belt testing at 7am. We had decided that Cha and I would stay home -- it's started to get cold and onlookers have to stand outside for the test. Archie said he'd get the big girls up and ready. I was slightly skeptical, but he seemed to get them up without too much trouble. I woke up a little when Archie got up, but went back to sleep. The next thing I knew, Charlotte was awake, which meant that I had to get up and feed her and keep an eye on her. Arch and the girls were headed out at that point. (He said he went in to wake them up and they begged for five more minutes of sleep, so he set the timer and they got up without incident.) Archie and the girls came home several hours later with new belts. Yay!

Then the girls and I went to Target to get some presents for a birthday party. We were in and out in no time with a Care Bear, a book, and a Hello Kitty craft-y thing. Then off to the party.

It was at a bowling alley and we had a ball. I haven't been bowling in ages. My folks did belong to a league and I bowled in an after-school program in middle school, so I'm not a rank beginner. (I did impress the girls with the fact that I can run up to the line, stop, and release the ball, as if I really knew what I was doing.) It was cool, though, because they have bumpers that can be set to go up for the frames of specific bowlers. The adults could bowl and the kids could have the benefit of bumpers during their turns. Lou was -- no surprise -- pretty good. Bebe made me cringe every time because she was throwing the ball and it would crash onto the lane. Cha would walk up, put the ball down, and then push it. Then she'd stand there and wiggle and twist as she watched the ball head for the pins.

After pizza and cake, we took the girls into the arcade and the twins and their friend played Dance Dance Revolution -- wait...EXTREME! It was extreme, too. Extremely funny.

Charlotte found a racing game -- the kind where you sit in a seat and drive the car through a course. Her legs weren't long enough to reach the gas pedal, so Archie stood next to her and worked that pedal for her and she became this little racing fiend. She was kind of good! She did run over a lot of her opponents. And she went flying over quite a few barriers. But she never crashed and she loved it. I hope her enthusiasm for speed and daring fades before it's time for her to get a driver's license and get behind the wheel of a real car. Or we may have to get her involved in Formula One racing. There's always the option of drag racing, though. Then we could tell her about Shirley Muldowney and how they share the nickname of ChaCha.

Monday, December 10, 2007

an excellent vocabulary

I was signing Charlotte's behavior report this morning before taking the girls to school. I said, "Charlotte, your teacher says you have an excellent vocabulary. Did you bust out an impressive word in class?"

She thought for a moment. "I just said gargantuan, Mommy."

Sunday, December 09, 2007

mostly done

I am not good about being organized and doing Christmas shopping early. I am one of those people who run out on Christmas Eve and stay up late wrapping.

All you readers should prepare for the end of the world. I am done -- or so mostly done as to qualify. I only have stocking stuffers to get and I can do that one morning this week while the girls are at school. All hail the Internet. Yeah, I'll have to wrap, but I can't express how great it feels to know that the kids are getting what they want and I didn't have to brave the shopping crowds. I'm crossing my fingers that the package arrives in time.

The American Girl people are pretty damn awesome. When you get to checking out with your purchases, there is a big page for the mailing address which states, very clearly, that the packaging has American Girl all over it and possibly a list of contents. And an explicit warning that you might want to have it shipped to an address where your kid won't see it. Bravo, American Girl, because I was stupidly going to have that package sent to the house and that could have been traumatic. Instead, Archie will have to take a little ribbing about getting a shipment of dolls at work. Heh.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

hip hop hooray

Last night was the holiday party for Archie's work. We went to San Francisco and danced to the mix supplied by Grandmaster Flash. Even with some of his mixing errors, it was totally awesome. I was particularly happy with the brief sonic appearance by Tom Tom Club and the mini-set of Naughty By Nature. I put my hands in the air and waved them like I just didn't care.

On the drive home, Archie mentioned that he thought he looked middle-aged when he wore a jacket and tie. "Honey, you are middle-aged. As am I."

"Yeah, but you don't look it."

And that is why I am married to him. Because he is a good liar.

Friday, December 07, 2007

scrooges and grinches

[Yesterday, several readers outclicked to the Heifer International site. Good for you! And, I hope, good for Heifer International. Really, that made my day, that a few people took the time to go and see what they're about. And I hope lots of people read the other Holidailies charity posts. They were awesome and I find it cheering to hear about the good causes that other people hold near and dear to their hearts.]

I have trouble processing calling people Scrooges and Grinches. Yeah, I know what someone means when they label a person one of those terms, but I always have a profound disconnect. Mostly, because I think that the real message of "A Christmas Carol" and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" is about change and redemption. Shouldn't we really mean that a Scrooge is someone filled with the holiday spirit and goodness toward humanity? It seems to me that the true meaning of the Grinch isn't, "...that his heart was two sizes too small..." but rather, "...his heart grew three sizes that day." But, I guess people focus on the negative.

I always think, for a moment, when I hear, "She's a real Scrooge!" or "He's such a Grinch!" that the person in question is wonderful and has been changed and redeemed. I don't know, maybe it's just my Pollyanna positive side peeking through. I'm sure it will never catch on.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

...but the greatest of these is charity

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

I Corinthians (ch. XIII, v. 13)

We are fortunate. Blessed. Lucky. Compared to the vast bulk of humans on this planet, we are wealthy beyond measure. We have good health, a home, plenty to eat, clothing, and disposable income. Our needs are covered and our wants are very, very few. Most people would say we are rich. We're not using $100 bills as tinder and we don't have diamonds on the soles of our shoes, but we have a fireplace and lots of ordinary shoes.

And, because of this, we give back. Probably not enough, but we donate clothes, we have provided food for food banks, we give toys to Toys for Tots (a personal favorite of Archie's, as a former Marine), and we give money. A neighborhood near us decorates out the wazoo for Christmas and takes donations for the Leukemia Society and we go and look at the lights every year and donate on the spot. (A personal favorite of mine because my sister-in-law contracted leukemia.)

But my current favorite charity is Heifer International. As a parent, I love that you can let your kids help you pick out what animals you want to donate. If you're a vegetarian, you could donate bees. If you're a vegan, the gift of trees is an option. But you're helping people improve their situations with a sustainable gift that not only keeps on giving, but that the people who are helped are tasked to pass on, as well. You're giving hope in the form of a llama. You're giving the chance for education with some rabbits. It takes the Chinese proverb, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for one day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime," one step further. With a gift to Heifer, you're giving a family food, teaching them how to support themselves with that gift, and then allowing them to give the gift and the teaching to someone else. I think that's fantastic.

Look, sometimes, to use that same idea, people just need the damn fish. They just need that meal, that shelter, that single handout. By donating to Heifer, you're giving that handout, but also a hand up. And then giving people who had nothing the ability to be charitable, themselves. To feel fortunate, lucky, blessed.

Consider Heifer International. But, whatever you do, give something back, somewhere.

[This post is in response to today's Holidailies prompt for the Holidailies Charity Project. ]

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

peer pressure

I'm sure everyone is familiar with the tried-and-true parental phrase, "If all your friends jumped off a bridge would you jump, too?"

I had a friend in college named David. One summer, he had a weekend-long party at his family's beach house. On a rainy afternoon, he had all the guests watch his vacation footage from his trip to New Zealand. This trip included the new and exotic bungee jumping off a bridge. (It was over 20 years ago.) In the video, David was shown standing on the bridge, absolutely terrified, trying to work up the nerve to jump. He finally did, screaming the entire way. He said it never stopped being scary. I asked, I thought reasonably, why he did it. "Because all my friends did it," he replied.

"Um, David, you are officially every mom's nightmare come to life. You're the guy who literally jumped off a bridge because your friends did!"

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Is the new look freaking anyone out? Don't go! I was just bored after years and years of the same damn thing. Ta da! Green and a picture and wow, I think I just entered 2001 or so.

your kiss is on my list

Don't you love a Hall and Oates reference? Now you'll have it in your head all day. You're welcome!

Ever since the girls were born, I've been a kisser. Lots of kisses, multiple times a day. A kiss on a fuzzy head there, a peck on a fat thigh here. As they grew older, we started to have a repertoire of smooches. Bedtime used to be a festival of bussing. What follows is a litany of kisses.

1. The Big Kiss: Lips to lips, hum during the press, when you part, say, "Mmm-WAH!"
2. The Eskimo Kiss: Rub noses. (Should properly be named the Inuit Kiss, I suppose, but some things just don't change.)
3. The Butterfly Kiss: Blink your eyelashes against someone's cheek. Wait for the giggles.
4. The Fish Kiss: Make fish faces. Smooch.
4.a. The Grouper: Open and shut your mouth without puckering. Smooch.
4.b. The Catfish Kiss: Fish face with backs of hands against your cheeks, fingers wiggling. For the whiskers.
4.c. The Electric Eel: Shuffle your feet along the carpet. Kiss someone and squeal when shocked. Then run.
5.The Zerbert: A loud, wet raspberry. Hilarious when done to a baby's belly. Will still provoke squeals when placed on a recipient's cheek.
6. The Darling Kiss: Three air kisses followed by both parties saying, "Darling!"
7. The Long Distance Smooch: This is really something Archie does. To me. Or at me. He just makes a few kissy noises and I am expected to reciprocate. These are never done over the phone -- he's always sitting across the room from me or walking past me. He could, reasonably, just give me a damn kiss with a tiny bit of effort. But, no. And, if I don't make the smoochy noises? He repeats his own kissy sounds, only louder. Awesome.

Monday, December 03, 2007

the changes

Last night, spur of the moment, we all went out to dinner. It wasn't a super-fancy, white tablecloth place, but it also wasn't some fast food joint, either. (Archie wanted steak, so it was kind of a relaxed steakhouse, I guess.)

If, eight years ago, someone had told me that we would get out of the door in under 10 minutes with three children, no tears (on the part of the children or the adults), and then have a delightful time with those kids, I would have laughed until I cried. Because eight years ago, I could not even imagine that I wouldn't still be changing diapers and breastfeeding and getting up several times a night. Perspective is not a gift that is given to first-time parents. Every day seems like every other day and it is hard think that those babies will grow up and become real people who do amazingly complex things like read a menu (!), order their own food, and have pleasant, volume-appropriate conversation. And where the parents get to actually enjoy their food! No rushing, or boxing up most of two dinners. It's like a freaking Christmas miracle.

Actually, it's just real life, since the girls have been behaving so beautifully out in public for quite some time. But it still sometimes surprises me. Last night, Lou was leaning slightly against me and telling me something about the book she's reading as she took a piece of bread and reached to dunk it in some artichoke dip. I noticed a man sitting across the way, eating by himself, who was kind of watching us, and I thought about how we must appear to strangers at that moment. Relaxed, enjoying each other, Archie and I and our squirrels looking pretty near perfect.

And at that moment, we were. And those moments are worth the times that aren't perfection. There are still plenty of those, too. But we know they won't last forever, now.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

talkin' 'bout "star wars" -- a film you should see

The original (OK, the enhanced, because George Lucas is a little stupid) "Star Wars" was on yesterday and Archie and I were singing that Bill Murray lounge singer bit. And we were trying to explain to the girls what a huge deal the movie was when we were kids.

The summer of 1977 I was going to be in the 7th grade. My brother Eric and I spent a week with my aunt and uncle in Sandusky. We would ride their beat up old Schwinns over to the park and hit tennis balls, we'd walk down to the beach and swim in Lake Erie, and we'd play cards with Aunt Norma and Uncle Don after dinner every night. Except for one night when Uncle Don asked after dinner, "Would you kids like to see that 'Star Wars' movie?" I think we tried to be cool and just mumbled, "Uh, yeah, that could be fun." But I know I was feeling as if I just won the lottery. And it was amazing and funny and suspenseful and the special effects were like nothing we'd ever seen. I could not believe my good fortune. I got to see "Star Wars" and I didn't have to beg or plead to see it!

I was chatting with my mom on the phone last night, and I mentioned this to her. She started to laugh and said, "You know, your brother Gordy didn't get to see it when it came out because he was at church camp that week." Apparently, Gordy now watches it any time it ever comes on TV. And when Mom asks why he's watching something he's seen countless times before, he always replies, "Because I didn't get to see it when it came out!" He's just a wee bit bitter -- even after all these years. I know I shouldn't find that funny, but I do. It also explains why he was so insistent that he get ot see the sequels on the day they opened. Like, pestering and cajoling my parents for weeks, which was totally out of character for him. It's also kindof interesting that both of us look at "Star Wars" as a kind of pivotal moment in our childhoods -- but I think of it as a high point and Gordy views it as the opposite. Well, interesting, but in a totally hilarious way.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

tradition updated for the 21st century

When I was a kid, there was always a tradition my brothers and I observed for Christmas. It started when we would all get excited because the Sears and JCPenney catalogues had arrived, in late September or early October. And then my mom would draw up a schedule, because otherwise my three younger brothers and I would have killed each other trying to get more time with the precious things. Then the list making began. Oh, the lists! They were vast and cross-referenced and ordered from most-wanted items to things which were merely acceptable. Those lists morphed and changed and took great effort and insight to compile.

We still get catalogues, but not those big Wish Books. No, what we have now are websites! American Girl and the toy section of Amazon and Sanrio. The girls are hilarious -- I have to schedule computer time so they each get a chance to click around and decide what they love and what they kind of want and all of that. And, since they're all girls (and all a little girly, too) they have big conferences about, "If I ask for this and you ask for that then we can share and it will be like having double the stuff! Won't that be cool?" And there are lists. Each girl has a list and she's been adding to it and erasing things and keeping an eye on the bottom line. (Seriously, Santa has a budget and I am tickled when one says, "But if I get the smaller doll I can get the companion pet and it still doesn't cost as much as the really big doll! Then I can ask for the books, too!")

I know this makes it sound like we're some super-materialistic family. But we really don't buy the girls a lot of stuff. Christmas and birthdays are when they get gifts. And, to keep another fine tradition, they will all be getting socks, too.