Saturday, December 19, 2009

sweet sixteen

There's a bottle of really good champagne chilling in the fridge and plans for take out sushi once the kids are in bed.

I've been married to the best husband in the entire world for sixteen years. What with that bottle of champagne, I may also be recreating the epic hangover I suffered the day after our wedding. (Champagne tends to give me massive hangovers, which seems so unfair and wrong. It's festive! It's celebratory! It has bubbles!)

There is one problem with the timing of our anniversary, though. I should have foreseen that getting married right before Christmas would make gift giving an issue. I am forever waffling on freaking Christmas gifts, so ask me what I want for our anniversary and I may just go all blank.

I've got a good marriage. That's enough. And I happen to have it with a fella who I'm kinda sorta fond of. I think I'll keep him a while longer.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

damn you, ben folds

Last night I was watching the show The Sing-Off and it annoyed me. It's a competition for a cappella groups. The groups are not all that special, sadly. But, when does a cappella singing get a place on TV at all? The last time I can think of was when Spike Lee made a special about some groups (Rockapella, Take 6, Ladysmith Black Mambaza to name a few) which was probably about 20 years ago. And it was on PBS. So, even if it's not the greatest thing ever, it's the closest I'm gonna get to a Bobs TV extravaganza.

But that isn't what was annoying. No, one of the judges was Ben Folds. Now, I do not like his music. Not at all. In fact, I kind of hate his music. Therefore, using that logic, I hate him. (Not really -- but you know what I mean.) With people you only know from one context, you just apply your feelings about that one context to that person as a whole. Yes, it's stupid. But you know you do it, too, so shut up.

Anyway, I was getting all ready to hate on Ben Folds. To laugh at his stupidity and be irritated by him. And then he went and was knowledgable and gave great constructive criticism. He was funny and kind to the contestants. Dare I say it? OK, I will. He was charming. So now I am in the position of not really wanting to watch the three other episodes of this show for the musicians, but for one of the judges.

Damn you, Ben Folds. Damn you all to hell.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

a little christmas

We got a tree today.

Friday, December 11, 2009

tell me that i'm special...

...even when I know I'm not. That's a quote from a Plain White T's song which I was listening to as I drove around on errands this morning. I noted it on Facebook and some of my friends jumped in to assure me that I was special.

One of the friends who was reassuring me had done something really sweet and funny a number of years ago. He came to visit and I had a box of Special K cereal sitting on the kitchen counter. He took a Sharpie and wrote "ATIE" so it read Special KATIE, which is hilarious. And adorable.

I have good, dear friends. Whether I'm truly special or not is debatable, but they are all special to me.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

you suck, citibank

So, Archie has a Citibank credit card -- no balance, low interest rate. He got a letter the other day and it stated that "due to inactivity" Citibank was closing the account. So Archie went digging around and realized he hadn't activated the new card when it was sent to him and he called Citibank to try and activate it and stop them from closing the account.

And they said no. They said no to a good customer who pays his bills and would use the card -- he just let it slip past him that a new one had arrived. Citibank has tons of customers who are negotiating paying pennies on the dollar of what they owe, and they are getting rid of a long-standing customer.

Guess what? This is why the financial people are in such trouble. Because they would rather have loads of customers who charge the world and then can't pay it back than people who are responsible credit users. People who use their cards and pay them off every month. People who live below their means and only bust out that card in the case of an emergency.

Sure -- Citibank is not making any money on us. But they're sure as hell not losing any. And, while we work very hard to stay in good financial health, there is always the possibility that we might have an actual need for some credit and might pay a Citibank not only the principal, but any accrued interest. But, no. Not now.

So good for you, Citibank. We have other credit cards, but we won't ever do business with you again.

Oh, and let me say that I love having this stupid problem. Seriously, being able to complain about a dumbass credit card company when it isn't actually costing me money? Priceless.

But Citibank still sucks.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

sneezy roast beast

It used to be the case that I never cared much for what was eaten during a holiday. Oh, sure, I liked candy and egg nog and pumpkin pie and stuff like that. But as long as there was food to be consumed, I was fine. The particular dishes were not really that important. It makes sense since I come from a family who really didn't even care about turkey on Thanksgiving.

Since meeting Archie, though, I have become wedded to specific foods to celebrate the holidays. He DOES like turkey for Thanksgiving (but I really, really don't), so we compromised -- we switch off between turkey one year and ham the next. Well, I guess I should say we used to do this -- for the past two years we've gone to Phoenix and celebrated the holiday with Archie's dad and that side of the family. Which is great because we don't have any of the work and we also get to go and eat at some of our favorite places in the world for an entire week. Even though we're not cooking, we're still eating.

For New Year's Day, my family did have the traditional meal of pork and sauerkraut. When we were poor, we had pork chops and when we were flush we had a loin or roast. I have even started to like sauerkraut.

But every other holiday pales when compared to the food of Christmas. There is the fact that Archie misses Arizona Mexican food. California Mexican is just not the same. We've tried to make a Mexican feast on Christmas Eve with a cheese crisp and enchiladas (how I wish I could make tamales!) and rice and beans. And it was almost more work than the big event meal the next day. So last year we went to a little local Mexican place and lo, it was good. And there was no cleanup. And I could have tamales and we can make a cheese crisp at home, if necessary.

Christmas Day is always, always prime rib, broccoli with Hollandaise, Yorkshire pudding, mashed taters and gravy (which Archie has added from his family's tradition because a holiday requires lots of starches and also, we have a child who loves her some potatoes), and pies. One of the best parts of this meal is that Archie makes almost all of it. All I do is mix up the Yorkshire pudding and then put it in the oven once the beast comes out to rest. (That is also when I sneak as many bits of the crispy fat off the prime rib as possible.) It is delicious and that hunk of meat costs the world, but who freaking cares? (Well, I do, a little. Until I actually get to eat it and then I don't care quite so much.)

The only hitch we've ever encountered with Christmas dinner was years ago when Archie decided to change it up and do a pepper rub on the meat. Kind of an au poivre prime rib, if you will. It sounded like a grand idea and all kind of fancy-like. And, of course, we were having lots of guests and so we had to drop even more cash on a bigger hunk of cow flesh.

And Archie used quite a bit of pepper on that thing. In fact, too much pepper. The meat was cooked perfectly, but that rub was extremely ridiculous. Everyone started to sneeze as they ate. Oh, we still ate because under the pepper was delicious, delectable, divine (and divinely expensive) prime rib. But the sneezing kind of dimmed the fabulousness a teensy bit.

So, now there is a ban on rubs and Archie just seasons everything normally and we stuff ourselves and then loll about until we have a little room to stuff ourselves again with pie. Although I wouldn't mind a cake, myself.

Monday, December 07, 2009

happy holidailies!

Well, it looks as if I'd just forgotten that I had a blog. No updates since summer? Pine no more -- thanks to Holidailies, I'm back on that horse, at least through the beginning of next year.

How about a photo to ease us into the season and to show everyone how big the squirrels are? OK? OK!

Monday, June 08, 2009

big changes

Yesterday, I took Elizabee to get some tennis shoes -- she'd worn a hole in one last week. We dutifully pick out a pair from the kids' section in the largest size (and the size of the previous pair -- a kid 4 1/2). "I can't get my foot in, Mama!" Not completely surprising, but now we have to move to the actual women's sizes. We try a 5. No go. And a 6. We finally get her feets into some 6 1/2. I am convinced it's because her feet are fairly wide, but when she stands up and I feel for her toe, it's in an appropriate place -- not to the edge, but not too far back. Silently wonder where my little girl with her little girl sized feet has gone.

As we were standing at the checkout line, I noticed that Miss Bee's head is on the same level as my chin. Want to commence weeping, but instead grin and point out how tall she is to her.

Go home and tell Archie that our girl is freaking BIG and almost cry.

Friday, May 29, 2009

the other spelling bee

While last night was the Scripps Bee -- the national one, from Washington --it was also the school district bee. Louisa had won her school's bee, so she was competing. It was exciting and she was nervous. So was her mama. She's only in the fourth grade and was one of the youngest spellers (and she was the first fourth grader to win at her school). This was a big deal.

She made it through the first round with the word "ventilate." I could breathe for a bit -- and I'm sure she could, too. Then in the second round she got "affinity." I could tell right away she was unsure how to spell it. She asked for the origin and took a breath and left out one of the "f"s. I have to say, it is very hard to keep a calm, uninterested face when you know after the third letter that your child has just messed up. She was obviously upset when the judges held up their red cards to indicate that she wasn't successful in her attempt. She walked off stage and apparently they gave her a cookie and our school principal was right there to comfort her a bit and let her decompress before sending her back out to the audience. Lou said, "Mrs. Hudson was saying something to me, Mama. And I tried to look at her attentively, but I couldn't understand anything she said because I was so sad."

She sat on my lap through the third round and whispered how to spell each word. Correctly -- the child knew all the words following her miss. As I told her a little later, there's an element of luck in a spelling bee. Sometimes you just get a word you don't know or can't figure out. Them's the breaks. But we had frozen yogurt and she perked up a little.

Bless her heart, she wrote "affinity" on the back of her nametag. Right before bed, she got gloomy again and started to project how the other kids at school would tease her for losing. I told her she might be surprised and that I was sure her friends would be very sympathetic. She said, "Yeah, my friends and I have an affinity for each other."

And you and I have an affinity for each other, too, baby. We're all so proud of you. You'll do even better next year.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

the baby pandas killed us dead

I recorded a show on the local PBS channel about twin pandas born in a panda reserve in China called Panda Nursery. (You think I've exhausted the use of the word "panda?" You have no idea.) I was watching it with the girls and it was hilarious. You know how they show little mini-clips on PBS shows before the "corporate sponsorship" (read: commercials) spots but before the show proper? Yeah, it was a festival of aaawww-ing. They showed the baby pandas on a platform and then they were trying to get down a ladder and they tumbled all over each other and I said, "Oh, my gosh! I just died from the cuteness!" And then the next brief shot was the two little guys drinking milk out of bowls and when they looked up? Milk all over their unbelievably cute panda faces! And we all aaawwww-ed some more and Bebe said, "I just came back to life and died AGAIN from the cuteness! So cute!"

When the show actually, really started, they had so worn us down with the little cute vignettes, that the girls were brainwashed into thinking the newborn pandas were cute, too. Which they are not. They are just these naked, pink things which are really, really disturbing. From one angle, they looked like deformed starfish. But the girls were still all gooey from the previous glimpses of true and abiding panda cub cuteness and they cooed and clucked over the adorableness of the icky pink things.

The show was very informative and, yes, too too cute -- except for a few things. Did you know that panda cubs are unable to toilet by themselves for months? I did not. Their mother (or, in this case, their mother and the human handlers) have to encourage them to pee and poop. The people stroke the panda bellies, which isn't too bad. But the mother licks the babies and then they eliminate and it is pretty gross.

And near the end, since this was a nature animal documentary, there was some business about panda mating. The girls said that was disgusting and they insisted that I fast forward through it -- so we could get to some more adorable bits with the twin panda cubs.

(I also have to get to China because there was a bit where they showed tourists visiting the center and they showed a Western woman who got to sit on a bench RIGHT NEXT TO A PANDA! She got to pet and hug it! I think I really need to do this before I die. Can you imagine? I might actually really die -- but I would get to pet and hug a real, live panda!)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

newbie white belt

I started taking kajukenbo a few weeks ago, and it's ripping good fun. Charlotte and I are both taking class together. Tuesdays and Thursdays are killer long evenings. I pick up the kids, we all suit up in our gis and double check that we have our belts and stuff and we head out. The twins take a class and I help Cha with her homework. Then Charlotte runs around a little and the twins take sparring and I read (or usually watch sparring class, which is hugely entertaining). Then the twins talk with friends or read or finish up homework while ChaCha and I take our class. Then we come home and shovel food into our starving maws and before you know it, it's time for the kids to go to bed.

As a white belt, we have to learn 12 squat sets (I've got those down), a pinyon (also known as a kata or form -- also nailed down), and three self-defense sequences (done). As an adult, I have to know two more self-defense sequences and another kata known as a coordination. (The two added self-defense bits -- called "knives" and "covers" -- and the coordinations are taught when a student is 14 or older.) Last night, one of the brown belts was teaching me the first coordination. When I took a break to have some water, his little sister, who is an orange belt, was talking to me and said, "Have you learned the coordination yet?" I told her no, it took a lot of practice for me to get all the moves and timing into my old, hard brain and my ache-y body, unlike her, who probably could watch any move and do it and know it in about five minutes. She laughed and I said, "It's because your brain is all squishy and sponge-like and you just suck that stuff up and it's really easy. But. I get to learn coordinations and knives and covers at each belt and slowly -- you'll have to cram them all in once you hit 14. Ha! Old person win!"

I was telling Archie about this conversation and he laughed and said, "Awww, you're just like Kramer! Remember that Seinfeld where Kramer was talking about what a star he was in karate and then it turned out he was the only adult amongst kids? That's you!" I do feel like a freaking giant, that's for sure.

The aches and pains are pretty depressing -- as Archie said, you don't notice it until you do head rolls, but someone sneaks in and puts a load of gravel in your neck at some point. It sounds like one of those Fisher-Price popper things in my head and neck. I had my first bruise from throwing elbows and, well, this is embarrassing, but -- hitting myself. Heh.

And kicking? Completely makes your butt hurt like hell. It is also annoying when your older daughters tell you how good your moves look and then they demonstrate and they can kick over their heads. Condescending little karate robots.

Monday, March 30, 2009

live every week like it's shark week

30 Rock is my favorite TV show right now (and for the past three seasons). Are you watching it? You should. (There, that's my public service for the day.)

Anyway, the other day I was asking the girls what their favorite TV shows are. Elizabeth said, "Well, my favorite TV show is the kid version of your favorite show." I was a little confused since I don't let the girls watch 30 Rock and I couldn't for the life of me think of a show they like that bears any resemblance to the craziness and hilarity that is Tina Fey and Tracy Morgan and Alec Baldwin.

"Well, what do you mean, hon?" "Sonny With a Chance, Mama! Because it's about a sketch comedy show!"

Which, indeed it is. Of course, the kid version is much tamer and on Disney, but still. It brings me a lot fo joy thinking that maybe my kids will enjoy the adult version in the future. Live every week like it's shark week, my babies!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

brownie day

I went to pick up the twins from their afterschool program and one of the aides made me laugh out loud. It was snack time, and all the kids were sitting at picnic tables and eating and talking. Garrett said hi to me and said, "Today is brownie day. Everyone is very protective of their snack on brownie day. Now, on goldfish day? Any kid will happily spot you some goldfish crackers. But on brownie day, they'll just give you dirty looks if you ask for a piece of the brownie."

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Sunday was Cha's birthday. She's now a seven year old. (Officially, because today, when I woke up the girls, she muttered, "Just five more minutes, Mom.") It was a really, really nice day. We got her two of those robotic dinosaurs ("These are the best presents, ever!"), a Hello Kitty card with stickers ("This is the best card, ever!"), and we all went bowling and then had dinner at her restaurant choice (IHOP, and lots of cries of, "This is the best birthday, ever!") Then some singing and candles and an ice cream cake before bed. As I kissed her good night and wished her a happy birthday for the last time this year, she said, "This was such an awesome birthday. I think seven will be a great year!" I think I will keep her.

My favorite thing that she did on her birthday was when she was quietly playing with her dinos and she was singing to them. I was cracking up because she was singing "Kayaking" -- a very funny, silly song. I don't think there's anything better than a newly-minted seven year old singing a hilarious song about love and boating to a triceratops and a T Rex:

I wanna go kayaking
Gonna make you my kayak king
What a lovely life as your aquatic wife
When we go kayaking

You'll be the jack of hearts
The handsome captain called Bogart
Kissing me, the young Hepburn
As we learn to share the stern

I wanna go kayaking
Gonna make you my kayak king
We'll grow old together
We'll have skin like leather
As we go kayaking

Monday, February 23, 2009

two stories of parenthood

I drove Archie to work today and he told me about something he saw in the grocery store a while back. There was a woman on her cellphone, and he overheard her side of the conversation:

Woman: You spent the entire iTunes card? [pause] The whole thing? [pause] On what? [pause} Twilight? You spent the whole thing on Twilight?

This was when Archie laughed and he said the woman kind of looked around and then went back to her conversation with her teenage daughter, based on her side of the talk. And it reminded me of something that happened ages ago back before Archie and I had kids.

We were in a Blockbuster. As we walked around, looking for movies, we heard a child, whining to her mother and the mother saying no, repeatedly, and more and more resigned to the no. While we stood on line, we couldn't help but notice that the woman in front of the line was the same beleaguered mother we'd heard during our browsing -- we could tell because the whining child was next to her, continuing to whine. Finally, the daughter said, "You don't looooove me!" Now, let me describe the little girl to you. She was probably about four or five and adorable. She had on red patent leather Mary Janes and ruffly socks and a cute little dress and, from appearances, was very much loved. (Also, the fact that her mother was toeing the line and not giving in and also not tearing the child limb-from-limb was also a good indication that her mom loved her.) I couldn't help myself: I laughed out loud. The mother looked around and everyone in the line was laughing at the ridiculousness of that little girl declaring that she was unloved.

The mom looked at the child and said, "See? People are laughing at you!" And I laughed even harder.

I don't think it's very nice to tell your kid that people are laughing at them, but I certainly understand the impulse. You sometimes will grab hold of anything to help you be strong in the face of the never-ending whine. But I also love that the woman that Archie saw in the grocery store is our future. It just remains to be seen what will so captivate our future teenage daughters that they will spend an entire large iTunes card. Hopefully it won't be vampires, but who knows?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

michael phelps

So now we know the REAL reason he was eating over ten thousand calories a day. Stoner had the munchies!

Monday, February 02, 2009


I took the girls to get some new kicks yesterday. Archie was less than impressed that I was headed out on a Sunday afternoon, but I reminded him that it would probably be more than fine since it was Superbowl Sunday, thus most people would be at home, drinking beer and preparing to watch the football. What better time to go out and about for a while?

We found shoes for all the girls (and I kept thinking how much easier it is -- even when they all have opinions and stuff -- than when they were younger and it was a mad dash in for measurements and me picking out shoes and trying them on and paying and hoping no one had a meltdown -- including me). Shodding three young children at the same time is not for the timid. But picking out shoes for three school-age kids? While there are still some minor snags (see above: opinions), it's mostly do-able and mostly fun, which is such an improvement, I can't even be bothered to protest most of the opinions.

So, the girls had picked out their shoes and Lou's skate shoes were so cute, I decided to see if they had them in adult sizes. And they did! And then I saw them in another color. I asked the girlies what they thought and they all piped up with, "Those are cute, too, Mama -- pick a pair!"

And I said, "Where have I gone wrong? You are not supposed to tell me I have a choice. You are all supposed to enable my love of shoes by telling me they are both really cute and I should get both pairs! Because I deserve two pairs of cute shoes, dontcha know?"

So we got a grand total of five pairs, because the girls got with the program.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

yet another reason i love my husband

The phone just rang.

Me: Hello?
Archie: Oh, this wasn't the number I wanted to call.
Me: I love you too, sweetheart.
Archie: I love you. Now I have to see if I can get that 900 number I was trying to reach...
Me: Say hi to Tiffany for me.
Archie: Will do.
Me: [giggling] I love you.
Archie: [laughing] I love you, too. See you in a few hours.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

confusing the children

Archie just asked Elizabeth what she's studying in school.

"The metric system, Daddy."

"That's good. Make sure you pay attention and learn it well because the U.S. is converting to metric in 1977."

Bebe looked confused and I just laughed and laughed.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

an epiphany of love

I had a real and lasting epiphany when the twins were about a week old. I know it was an epiphany because I still remember it, almost ten years later. I remember it vividly. The one thing you need to know before I relate the story is that my mom and I had a little tradition where she would say, "I love you." I'd answer, "I love you more." And she'd say, "I love you the most!" But, really, I always knew we loved each other the same, because how could she really love me more? We loved each other and it was a funny thing we'd say to each other.

So, the twins were a week old. I was beyond exhausted. The best way I can describe my level of tiredness was I would wake up and be kind of surprised that I wasn't dead. Because I was so tired I should have been dead. I read an article where a woman said she felt like she'd been boxing and been knocked out and she just felt pummeled -- physically and emotionally. That description works, too.

Anyway, it was some ungodly hour and I'd just gotten a screaming baby out of the crib and changed her diaper and then I broke down. I was standing over this little new person sobbing. That ugly sobbing, where you hiccup and the tears and snot are flowing. My mom was staying with us to help out and she came into the living room and she didn't say a word, she just hugged me. And I kept crying and trying, while sucking in air between wails, to explain how tired I was, how ill-equipped I was to take care of these little people, how stupid and inadequate I felt, how fucking, fucking tired and worn out I was. How this was all complicated because I was absolutely, totally in love with these little girls. What came out was, "Waaaaah, I can't do this! How do I do this? I'm tired, Mommy. Waaaaaaah!"

My mom just held me and shushed at me and patted my back. I'm not sure how long it took, but I started to calm down. I took those big, shuddering breaths you take as you wind down from a huge crying jag. I snorfled. My mom said, "It will get better. It will. It will get better."

I said, "Thanks, Mommy." And she said, "I love you."

Of course, I said, "I love you more," and she said, "I love you the most."

And that was when it hit. That was when I knew, in a flash. I started blubbering as I cried out, "I know! I know you love me the most! Just like I love my girls the most!"

What I understood was not that my mom loves me more, but that she loves me in a completely different way than I love her. That I love my kids in a way that they will never really understand until they have their own kids. It's not a question of quantitative difference, but a qualitative difference. It's just a different type of love.

Monday, January 05, 2009

at the grocery store

Cha likes to ride on the shelf underneath the grocery cart. Whatevs, as long as I'm not buying a huge package of toilet paper or several 12-packs of pop, I let her. Today, as I was staring at cheese in the deli aisle, she rattled the bars on the cart and cried, "No! Get me out of juvie!"

I just laughed and the woman standing a few feet away gave me the stinkeye. I guess because a six year old shouldn't know about juvie. But if you ask Charlotte, she'll tell you, "Juvie is kid jail."

I'm just broadening her vocabulary.

Friday, January 02, 2009

thank you, jake johannsen

We were watching TV and there was a reference to Liberace. It reminded me of a bit that Jake Johanssen used to do about why he loved Liberace. I paraphrase:

Liberace was the Commandant of Flamboyancy. He was so fantastic because he was all that he could be. No one will ever come along and say, "That guy is like Liberace, only more so!" He was complete in his Liberace-itude.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

packing away the holidays

We took all the decorations off the tree. We put the stockings and the wreaths and the jingle bells away. We wound the lights up on their cardboard cards so they'll be tidy and ready for next Christmas. We also tucked the new Nativity set I found into the ornament box for its debut next season.

Archie took the tree outside and hacked it up. Meanwhile, I swept up the needles. And swept. And swept. And swept some more. And then vacuumed.

That damn tree made some really ugly water marks on the floor, too.