Wednesday, December 31, 2008

last day of 2008

We've got hugely unhealthy bacon appetizers in the oven, all the girls are loaded down with new books (courtesy of their grandma), and there are lots of chocolate desserts on hand. The twins are excited about staying up until midnight, even if their parents would rather turn in a little earlier. Cha is gonna try her best to stay awake, but she'll probably only last 'til nine or so.

It's been a good year. Here's to 2009 being just as good, with no major bad surprises.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

when christmas songs and advertising collide

There's this commercial -- it's just the music to "Silent Night" with lovely pictures of babies sleeping. Very sweet and the girls and I saw it today and we all made the appropriate ooh-ing and aw-ing noises. The small print at the end said, "" and Elizabee sang, "Sleep in heavenly pee-ee/Sleep in heavenly pee."

I think the Pampers people missed out.

Monday, December 29, 2008

it has begun

I've always tried to be kind and show some concern for my kids' privacy. Man, I have some hilarious stories, but I don't think it would serve anything to put them out onto the internet for anyone passing by to read. Because, maybe not now, but someday, they could prove to be embarrassing. And, as we all know, the embarrassing stories must be saved for future meetings with dates. There is tradition to uphold.

Also, as I've told other people, I don't really want to stumble across my kids' websites or blogs and read about what an evil, awful witch of a mother I am. This is why I don't give in to the momentary urge to ever talk about what terrible, horrible, misbehaved children I have. They have their moments, like all people, but mostly they are fantastic and wonderful. Plus, sometimes they're tired or hungry or just having a bad day. I have bad days -- I wouldn't necessarily want them memorialized for all eternity.

All of this has been brought to the forefront because the twins have requested to set up their own blogs. Oy. Here's hoping they keep in mind that a momentary rush of revenge is not good for the long-term mother/daughters relationships.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

a shaggy dog story

We took the girls to see Marley & Me. Lulu and Beebs had read the book (which had been edited for children) and they were dying to see the film.

It's cute. Who doesn't love a dog story? I'm sure lots of people find it barely a step up from sitcom-ville with a manipulative ending. Whatever. All of us enjoyed it -- we laughed and cried. Yes, there is great catharsis in crying, especially when one of your daughters is sobbing next to you and it's not because of anything related to her life. That, for me, the Queen of Sobbing Sentimentality, is pure heaven. Here, have a napkin, Lou. We'll sniffle together. I love you.

(It should be noted that Bebe was tearful, as well, and Archie held her hand, even if he didn't share in her crying. This is a big step for a guy who laughs at me when I recount some story I've heard and get choked up in the re-telling. Charlotte was kind of bemused being surrounded by all of us blubbering. She is her father.)

Also, this movie proved that I am becoming some old prude. There are several parts where we are to understand that Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston's characters are going to get down to some love of a physical nature. And I was charmed that we never had to witness it, really. A thrown pillow, a camera tracked upwards. Suggestion instead of showing. It made me very, very happy. Possibly because we had a six year old and I didn't want to have to explain.

A day later, we were all talking about our favorite parts of the movie. Cha said, "I liked when they were having romance in the swimming pool and Marley just swam by them." Having romance? So cute.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Man, Dance Dance Revolution is already a huge favorite with the twins. They're playing right now and there is nothing more amusing than one of them on the mat and the other next to her doing it together.

OK, there is one thing funnier. Lou was really having trouble getting the wrist flicks down. Bebe came through by showing her how to hold the controller and nunchuk and doing a modified sideways wrist snap. Lou yelled, "Oh! Like a temple strike!" Bebe agreed, "Yeah -- just like in karate."

So, that's my holiday tip to you to improve your DDR play -- pretend that you're striking someone with a karate chop to the head.

Friday, December 26, 2008

where i almost became john cleese

The theme of this holiday season for me is apparently WWII.

Last week we were at a party. Living in the Bay Area, there are a lot of different people -- Russians, Brits, various nationalities of Asians, Aussies. This party was no exception. I was trying to tell one of the Brits about a segment of Ricky Gervais' stand-up we'd seen on HBO.

Oh, hell, have a look at his take on sharks and Nazis.

I was trying to explain this and a guy I didn't know at all had joined our little group. After the rest of us had finished laughing at "sharks are brilliant; Nazis are rubbish," the new guy jumped into the conversation and we all realized that he was, in fact, German. D'oh.

Archie told me later it was a good thing I didn't decide to reenact "The Germans" episode of of Fawlty Towers, complete with goose stepping and cries of, "I'm just trying to make the Kraut laugh!"

I swear, I don't have a head injury that I'm aware of.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

the merriest

Whispers and pitter pats. Up at dawn to rip into the presents. Happy playing; minor tussles. Good friends coming to share a meal where every item had some butter in it. Naps as kids dance, dance, revolution. Pie, pie, pie, pie -- which kind of pie? Have some of each because Christmas comes but once a year. So eat four pieces of pie!

And then to bed to look forward to making merry again.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

germans in arizona on christmas eve

There was a large POW camp in Papago Park during WWII. One subset of the prisoners were commanders and crew from U-boats. They wanted to escape, to Mexico, where they thought there would be people sympathetic to their plight.

They started to dig a tunnel. They told the guards a story -- that they were making volleyball courts. And they had a stroke of luck -- they had obtained a map. There was a river on the map -- the Salt River -- which led into the Gila River, which fed into the Colorado. They could take this route, if they built a boat, all the way to Mexico. They wouldn't have to hump the distance by foot!

So, they also built the pieces of a boat. And late on the night before Christmas Eve, the other prisoners celebrated with loud singing and merry-making to cover the fact that a large number -- somewhere between 25 and 40 -- of men were escaping from the camp through the tunnel to hike to the Salt River to assemble the pieces of the boat and begin their journey to the border.

If you know anything about the Phoenix area in the winter, though, you might have an inkling at what happened next. The Germans escaped and made it to the Salt River, only to find that it was dry. That was a blow, but they pushed on to the Gila. Which was mostly dry -- just some puddles. On the morning of Christmas Eve, the Germans were facing cold and the only water was drizzling rain.

Meanwhile, back at the camp, their escape had gone unnoticed until the first of the Germans walked back to Phoenix and started to turn themselves in. A few holed up in caves and other outcroppings for a few days, but the official story is that all of them were eventually rounded up and ensconced safely back in the POW camp.

It's like Hogan's Heroes in reverse!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

only since i was 18

Archie was admiring the lovely diamond earring in my right ear the other day. Then he turned my head so he could watch the one in my left ear twinkle. He said, "Huh. How long have you had that second earring in your left ear?"

"Only since I was 18."

Don't let anyone tell you there aren't surprises to be had after 15 years of marriage.

Monday, December 22, 2008

our christmas movies

I'm sure a lot of people have movies they like to watch around the holidays. These are mine.

Elf This is the first of two newer movies which I love. Tonight, we watched it with the girls after toasting marshmallows and I'm starting to feel a little bit Christmas-y. I guess if you hate Will Ferrell you won't like this. I happen to love Will Ferrel and just about everything about this movie. The girls love it -- probably because Ferrell is just a big, oversize kid in his reactions to everything. I hope some people call me in the next few days so I can answer the phone, "Buddy the Elf. What's your favorite color?" I may get a little teary at the end. I may have to watch the scene where Zooey Deschanel is singing "Baby, It's Cold Outside" as an inadvertent duet several more times.

Millions The feel-good, Christmas version of all those "What would you do if you found a huge amount of money?" movies. In an interesting twist, the director, Danny Boyle, made another movie with the same theme -- the very un-Christmas-y, feel-bad, very adult and dark Shallow Grave. But this one has saints and pounds which need to be converted into Euros, and a lovely performance by a young actor which is just about perfect. It's just a wonderful movie, and I might get a little choked up at the end.

A Christmas Story I'm sure that this is one that lots of people love. I'm sure it is since they show it for 24 hours starting on Christmas Eve. The very best scene is when Ralphie mishandles the lugnuts as he and his father change the flat tire and Ralphie swears. Watch closely -- the dad sends Ralphie back to the car seemingly angry -- but then the briefest of smiles crosses his face. Because he's proud of his son's swearing, of course. Then we get the crazy phone call when Ralphie sells out his friend and Ralphie with the bar of soap in his mouth.

And, the best Christmas movie ever, which must be watched on Christmas Eve is...

Santa Claus I will stop and watch this movie, in Spanish, on Spanish-language televsion, even though I can't understand Spanish. But we watch the MST3K version. This version was first broadcast the Christmas right after Archie and I were married -- so we've watched it 15 years in a row. We've been watching it off a VHS recording made 15 years ago -- the commercials are hilarious in and of themselves. The first time we watched it, as married people for all of 5 days, I said, "I can't wait to have kids and we will watch this with them on Christmas Eve when they're old enough!"

Finally, they are old enough! We've watched some other MST3K things with them and they know the theme song and Archie got Santa Claus on DVD. I really am excited and happy. Now, Christmas Eve will also include Mike and the 'bots and the politically correct holiday song and the weird Mexican Santa mythology, with the devil and the robotic reindeer. Total Christmas awesomeness.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

three more days

I have quite a lot to get done and no energy because I'm feeling like crap with a cough. I'm tired and sluggish and I would much rather have a few days to rest. Which is not going to happen.

So, I'll go see the doctor in the morning and then I'll come home and make cookies with the girls. Then I'll do some tidying. Maybe I'll get a nap or a rest in. Then I'll face whatever else needs to be done.

But I'd rather just be napping.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


We were sitting in the restaurant, waiting for our appetizers, and Archie said, "So, I didn't know what to get you for our anniversary. But you were talking to Charlotte a while back and she wanted something and was crying about it and you told her that you didn't have a pony or diamond earrings and you could somehow go on with your life."

"You got me a pony?"

He reached into his pocket and put one of my favorite things down on the table in front of me. A little blue box with a white ribbon tied around it. "No."

And inside, those earrings sparkled like the diamonds they are. Damn, real diamonds? Are really, really twinkly.

Friday, December 19, 2008

15 years

I'm kind of at a loss as to what to say on our 15th anniversary. It would all sound trite or too pat.

But what the hell. Let's go with trite and pat. I love my husband more than I did on the day we got married and I'd do it all over again. Here's to the rest of our lives together being half as happy and fun as the first 15 years have been.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

be careful what you name your children

My mother-in-law went to a hoity-toity girls school in Los Angeles. One of her friends was called "Pishy." (That's in quotation marks because my MIL didn't know how "Pishy" spelled her name, if it was her given name, or if it was a nickname.) After a few years, she asked if there was a story behind the name. "Pishy" said, "Oh, yes! My parents always loved the story of Cupid and "Pishy." It's one of their favorite myths."

Cupid and PSYCHE, people.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

down in front

Tonight was the first grade Christmas concert and you would have thought it was a rock show since the vast majority of the parents spent the entire first fifteen minutes standing up to take photos or video. Or talking like they were at home, making it impossible to hear. I will admit that it was probably a wee bit rude for my husband to bellow, "Down in front! Sit down!" when all the kids were in place to sing, but whatever. We were in the back and we don't spend our lives looking through a viewfinder, so we like to actually see what's going on.

And guy in the black jacket who wouldn't sit down and who Archie singled out by saying, "Guy in the black jacket! SIT DOWN! We can't see our kid."? No apologies from me -- you were totally blocking my view of Cha and I really was not harmed in any way by the face you made at us. Also, once you grudgingly sat down, I could see and greatly enjoyed the rest of the program. Neener neener.

I'm kind of at a loss as to why people think it's completely OK to stand and ruin other people's view so they can get a picture or a better view themselves. Do you really need 75 pictures or 30 minutes of video of the first grade concert?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

'tis the season to be snotty

Snotty as in sobbing uncontrollably. Archie has asked me several times this week if I have a cold. "No, honey, I just saw that commercial for St. Jude's. You know the one that says to give thanks for the healthy children in your life and then give to St. Jude's? Waaaaaahhhh!"

Or, "No, I was just thinking about Toys for Tots and I looked up the commercial from years ago where the little boy asks the Marine if he is Santa. And the Marine is all silent and standing at attention. And then the boy says he has his Christmas list for Santa and the Marine just turns his hand, in that white glove, ever so slightly so he can take the list. And the boy walks away saying he knew it was Santa. Waaaaaahhhhh!"

Of course, my husband has to be a smartass and say, "That Toys for Tots commercial is so fake. A real Marine would be all, 'This Marine saw a fat son-of-a-bitch entering the perimeter and shot him down. No Christmas this year!'"

Yeah, he's a jackass former Marine, but it does stop the weeping.

Monday, December 15, 2008

bebe's silliness

A few weeks ago, I was getting ready to drive the kids to school. We were all in the car and the girls were buckling themselves up. It was windy and a leaf went wafting past the window. Lou said, "A leaf flew by my window!" And Bebe piped up, "That sounds like it should be the first line of an Emily Dickinson poem. A leaf flew by my window/Even though it had no wings." Hilarious!

A few days later we were walking in a parking lot and Beebs asked me if I would do some physical activity and I said, "Oh, no -- I'm too crabby and old for that!" She smiled and said, "You're not crabby, Mama!" I stopped and looked at her and said, "What did you say?" And she grinned and said, "I didn't actually say you were old -- I just implied it!"

Clever girl, huh? And funny.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

pretentious party

Last night was the holiday party for Archie's employer. That would be the gigantic company which purchased the place he works for about a year and a half ago. It was very fancy. Archie kept saying it was so foufy he was sure they'd kick him out at some point. Maybe because he brought a flask with him and plopped it on one of the (many) bars and said, "Hey, can you make me a Manhattan with this?" Which they did, and he was happy.

There was really good entertainment -- although no dancing for the attendees. Our favorite performers were the beatboxers and the breakdancers. We were cheering the breakdancers on because they were completely awesome. We even went over to congratulate them on their great performance. I said, "We're old enough to have been almost-adults in the 80s and you guys are totally cool." I'm pretty certain most of them weren't even born in the 80s!

The food was terrific. After I'd had a rocks glass full of vodka with a splash of orange juice, I was apparently quite loud as I chased down a waiter carrying parfaits we'd been hunting down, yelling, "Parfait guy! Parfait guy!" It was totally worth any embarrassment -- those parfaits were delicious.

As we were leaving, I noticed a woman who had on the same dress as I was wearing. I leaned over and said, "Hey! Great dress!" She turned and started to say, "Thanks!" and I leaned away from her and did the Vanna White hand gestures to show her we had on the same dress. Whereupon she kind of hissed, "Get away from me!" I smiled and said, "It's a compliment! We both have great taste!" As Archie and I walked away, I said, "You know, you can only be upset about encountering someone in the same outfit as you if you've paid for a couture gown and been promised by the designer that it's the only one on the planet. Then it's annoying and embarrassing. But, seriously? Getting upset that someone else is wearing the same dress when you bought it off the rack? Honey, I'm wearing the same thing and I know you got that dress at Target. You are beyond pretentious being upset that someone else is wearing the same thing as you."

Saturday, December 13, 2008

o, tannenbaum

It's big. Too big, actually -- there isn't room for a tree topper. It's also really full and fat. And it smells divine.

Archie brought the tree home this afternoon. I guess it was time, since there's less than two weeks until Christmas. Arch and I have a party to attend tonight, so there's no time to decorate it today. We'll get to that tomorrow.

He was putting the water in the stand and caught his hand on something and said, "God damn it!"

"Sweetie, that's what everyone wants to hear during the season of Our Savior's birth."

Friday, December 12, 2008

i got nothin'

Hey, what do you want? I went an entire week without complaining about writing here or going full-on Christmas on everyone. I think an award is in order. OK, maybe some chocolate.

Is there any chocolate in my house? Of course not.

Wait -- there is. Dark chocolate M&Ms in Archie's desk drawer.

Later, gators!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Archie had a physical for an insurance policy today. The nurse or physician's assistant came round and drew blood and took his blood pressure and had him fill out a health questionnaire. But Archie was concerned that this woman was coming to the house. "It might just be a scam to look around and see if there are any clues to my lifestyle choices that could affect my health."

I said, "Oh, God -- wouldn't it be hilarious to have a bong on the coffee table and scatter hypodermics all around and you could down a shot and chase it with a beer when she gets here? At 10am? That would be awesome!"*

Sadly, we did not do this. It was all very boring and calm.

*(We don't own a bong or have any needles. And, while we do have some booze, we don't drink at 10am. Ever. Although all bets are off come 10.30am.)

a conversation with chacha

The following conversation took place as Charlotte and I walked into Target this afternoon.

Cha: You need a dress. And you're getting my sissies and me tights. Anything else?

Me: Well, I will look at the shoes, too, but I probably won't like any of them and I'll go to Macy's tomorrow. I also need to get my hair cut tomorrow.

Cha: We all need haircuts. Well, except Daddy. He needs to grow his hair out.

Me: Honey, I think Daddy growing his hair out is a hopeless cause, at this point.

Cha: Yeah, he's just turning into a baldy.

Me: Yeah.

Cha: Maybe that's why his mommy named him Archi-BALD!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

why i love my husband

We were talking and he said, "You know, since I've started playing World of Warcraft again, I've only reached level 48." (Or something like that. I don't play WoW, so I just know that he stopped playing because he couldn't devote enough time to increase his level to keep pace with his single, childless friends who could play for hours at a time.) "And that's just sad."

I asked, "Why is that sad? Because the guys are so far ahead of you? Or they've raised the levels?"

"Because I just said that and I'm a 42 year old man."

Monday, December 08, 2008

cow babies

I have been feeling a little under-the-weather and when I feel blah, I find myself watching videos of the kids when they were little. And I can never believe how little they were. Or how impossibly cute.

And there's nothing more adorable than two two year olds in cow suits. If you don't think they're cute, don't say anything. Because it would just be admitting that you have a tiny, black piece of coal for a heart. How can you not love my Lou, when asked if she's a Holstein, saying, "No, we're cows."? And if my Elizabee saying, "Moo. Moo. Moo. Moo, moo, moo, moo, MOO!" doesn't make you smile, you have to be dead inside.

Without further ado, toddlers frolickng in cow suits.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

killing at target

Yesterday, we had to do a Target run. There were birthday gifts to purchase and also some boring household products and assorted sundries. While checking out the toy section, the girls noticed these little teeny stuffed animals they have a few of and they were cheap, so I got them each one. This was especially good because Cha had misplaced her teensy monkey and they had another one! Score.

In another section of the store, they had even more of these stuffed animals. ChaCha thought a unicorn was soooo cute and she decided she'd rather have the unicorn. Fine, whatevs. As we were making our way to the end of the aisle, she was trying to sound out the name on the package. "My-stik-qwa. That can't be right. What's the name, Mama?"

I looked and said, "It's Mystique, sweetie." There was a man looking at something near the end of the aisle. "That's an interesting choice for a name. It sounds more like the name of someone in a not quite...respectable profession than a children's toy."

The man laughed and then tried to cover his laughter by pretending to cough. I said, as I passed, "Oh, you can laugh. I knew my kids wouldn't find it amusing."

Saturday, December 06, 2008

why i should not be trusted with my iphone

Archie came home from work last night and I said, "You didn't tell me you had an off-site or some kind of rah-rah rally today." He looked a tad confused, but I soldiered on. "How was the Gladwell talk?"

"The what?" Now he looked really and truly confused.

"Gladwell. Malcolm Gladwell." Why was he not understanding me? Maybe I'm having a stroke and "Malcolm Gladwell" is coming out "green beans and puppies are terrifying" or maybe "arghgh blerg potatoes" or something else nonsensical. "You sent me some text messages this afternoon and seemed very excited about hearing him speak. In person. We agreed you'd talk about it tonight."

He grabbed his iPhone and scrolled through some texts and said, "Ah, here we go. That was Susan -- she sent me a message about a talk, but then she realized she'd sent it to me by mistake. She wanted to tell you."

I got my iPhone and looked at the text messages and had a V-8 moment, complete with smacking my forehead. "In my defense, no one but you ever texts me!"

So now I have to email my friend and explain that I am a moron and I thought she was my husband and I'm really sorry I kind of blew her off by writing, "We'll talk all about it when you get home." Hello -- she doesn't live at my house or even in my state.

I really shouldn't be participating in an activity that is so linked to teenagers, I don't think. Not at my age. I might sprain something in my brain.

Friday, December 05, 2008

eating our way through phoenix

We went to Phoenix for Thanksgiving and the big holiday meal was the least exciting of the entire trip. So, what follows are some places you should try if you go to the Valley of the Sun.

1. Los Compadres. The one on 7th. This is where Archie and his family ate every week when he was growing up. It's in a little house and it's kind of dive-y and lacks atmosphere. But, the food is to die for. When we lived downtown, I would stop off and get takeout at least once a week. Right before we moved to California, a snowbird crashed into the building while coming off the curve. The fire department showed up and decided they needed to close down the restaurant since there was a car which had crashed through the front. The fire chief showed up and said, "No way. Put up a tarp! We can't have Los closed down -- where would we all eat?" If it's an essential for the fire department, you know it's good.

2. Casa Reynoso. This is in Tempe, in a strip mall and it's perfection. They cook with lard. So run! Run in and have pan-fried tacos and burritos and experience the divine refried beans. If you love the hot, ask them to bring you the family hot sauce from the back. I do not have the heat-tuned palate, but my husband does and he always sighs when he eats the hot sauce. My children recommend the fried ice cream. I recommend the strong margaritas. And the delicious cheese crisps. Did I mention the lard? Mmmm.

3. Matt's Big Breakfast. We saw this place on a Food Network show a few months ago and decided we had to eat there. It's downtown. Try to hit the sweet spot of a late morning meal or you will be waiting for ages. We had a party of six, but we got there around 10am and only had to wait about 20 minutes. The people who were seated before us said they had been there for three hours! I don't know that I would recommend it for a three hour wait, but it was a good, hearty breakfast -- good coffee, fresh-squeezed juice, chocolate milk where they'd just squirted in the chocolate and had a spoon to stir it up. (The girls loved that. They also loved that it was whole milk since we drink 1% at home.) I had the pancakes which were wonderfully fluffy and huge -- Cha and I shared an order. And the bacon was thick-cut and peppery. Filling and tasty.

4. Lolo's. Also downtown; soul food. Chicken and waffles. Fried catfish. Sides of macaroni and cheese and grits (which came with a stick of butter melting on top). I knew I was going to love this place when my husband said, "I'll have the red Kool-Aid." And then they brought the Kool-Aid in super-large Mason jars which made me say to our waitress, "Oh, my. Do they come with a complimentary catheter?" She smiled and said, "Well, since you asked, I'll bring one out. Ha! Just teasing!" The sweet tea was also wonderful and came in the same super-extra-ginormous size. We all became diabetics and then died of heart attacks, but it was totally worth it. Frankly, it's good that we don't live in Phoenix anymore because we'd want to eat there all the time.

See why the Thanksgiving meal itself was kind of a low-light?

Monday, December 01, 2008

still alive

I am still here. I'm participating in Holidailies again this year and posting begins on the 5th. So come back then and there should be fresh content every day through the 5th of January.

Some teasers: I'll tell you all about our dining adventures in Phoenix over Thanksgiving and I'm thinking of interviewing the girlies. Also, I will have the best Christmas Eve entry ever. Seriously, it's an awesome story. If any of you who are reading have any suggestions or requests, leave them in the comments and I'll try to oblige. It does get hard to come up with something to say every day for a month!