Friday, December 29, 2006

2006 in Review

A Really Long Photo Post

The bed arrived on Wednesday. It has a nick in the footboard, so they're bringing us a new one next week. G is very good at demanding perfection in the furniture he buys. I'd say he's sent back or returned 60% of the home and office furniture he's bought because of imperfections. At first I thought, "Wow, he's anal," but now I appreciate it. If you're going to pay money for a decent piece of furniture, it should be as nick- and scratch-free as possible.

Christmas in AZ, as my sister says, was kind of non-Christmas-like. To avoid having to haul more crap back and forth to California and Oregon, we all left Santa's big presents for the kids at home and just brought stuff for the stockings. And we went to a large church that was pretty but unknown to us. And we didn't go anywhere but Target and Safeway. Which was fine because I was sick, and if I had to be stuck in someone else's house watching my kids to make sure they don't break anything, including their necks falling down the stairs, I'm glad it was with my family. That's the good thing - my family is fun to be around.

I had a plan to take pictures of things that were Christmas-in-the-desert-like, but didn't see any cacti draped in lights and since I was sick, I wasn't all that motivated anyway. Here's one from someone's web page.

A. played Poor Little Boy and told my sister that he had no sweatshirt or shoes because I hadn't packed them. Now, I admit I forgot to pack pajamas for him. But since he wore sweats most of the time, big deal - it's not like he had to sleep in a three-piece suit. I made sure he wore a sweatshirt and shoes on the airplane, so I know I didn't forget them.

And, we did not force him to sell all his videos, as he plaintively claimed to Big Niece. Although the plane tickets for the four of us were so expensive, as long as he's offering, it's not a bad idea.

Except for the tall tales of woe and deprivation, both boys were pretty much charming as usual. Ben cemented his rep as Family Floozy by crawling indiscriminately into any lap that would have him.

On the way home from the airport, both boys cooperated nicely by falling asleep in the car so G and I had plenty of time to go into the house and get Santa's stuff out to the tree. A. pulled his big wishes: a trumpet and a Tow Mater alarm clock. He's also thoroughly enjoying his guitar and his digital camera. We've now got lots of pictures of the bottom half of the tree:

And, toothpaste.

Ben got one of those bead/wire things they have in doctor's offices and he loves it. A. also got the real model train, which ended up being a bit fragile for 4-year-old hands.

I'll have to get some video of A's version of "Hark the Angels Herald Sing," otherwise known as The Charlie Brown Christmas Song. He mixes it up a bit by singing it to the tune of "Deck the Halls":

Hark the angels herald sing
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Glory to the newborn king
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Try it. It works.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

We're Baaaaack

So the bad cold/laryngitis turned into sinus infection/bronchitis and I finally broke down and got me some antibiotics yesterday. I am so sick of being sick. I'm tempted to quarantine the whole family for at least a week so we can stop picking up these viruses. I guess that's one good thing about A. being out of school until next week.

Friday, December 22, 2006

So we're here in Arizona, where it's freezing and rainy. Blegh. Family's fine and it's great to see them, but I can't talk to them because I have completely and totally lost my voice. I had a cold before this, but I thought I was on the upswing. Absolutely no sound is coming out of my throat. And here I sit with my goofy family, full of witty comments. It's infuriating. A. and Ben whisper back to me when I try to talk to them, which is funny.

I need to find that story about the guy who stopped talking for a little while and ended up remaining silent for years. I forgot what his point was, but there's probably a lesson to be learned here. Like, maybe I should keep my mouth shut every once in a while. Nah. That's not it.

Monday, December 18, 2006

'Tis the Season

...for brave little children. When it was our turn, Ben went running up to Santa waving and hollering "Hi Santa! Hi Santa!", but balked a little when the big guy held out his hands to pick Ben up. Still, they did pretty well considering the 45 minute wait and the late hour (we decided to go after dinner, thinking everyone else would be home eating. We were wrong).

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Story of the Bed

So today’s the 20th anniversary of my mother’s death. In 1986 I was 21, and at the time I thought I was much older than I actually was.

I decided that what I wanted to do today was go to mass in my childhood church, about 30 miles away. My mother was very involved with the church and its elementary school which I went to for eight long years. It’s probably the place I most associate with my mother, besides Macy’s, so we made plans to bring the boys to 4:00 mass today.

Last night, G. said we had a detour to make before we headed out to my hometown. He said he had a surprise. So he got behind the wheel and headed towards the mall.

“Olive Garden? Are going to play Olive Garden Roulette and see if we get sick?”

“Are we applying for jobs at the Elephant Bar?”

We finally pulled up to Levitz. G made us stay in the car, took a small gift bag out of the trunk and ran inside. A few minutes later he came back and told us we could go inside. He told me my present was inside the store somewhere and I had to find it.

Long story short, I walked through the bedroom section and found a big sleigh bed with a red ribbon and the gift bag on top. Inside the gift bag was a card G had made with a picture of my mom on the front and the following inside:

My Dear Lovely Lunasea:

It’s been 21 years (sic. It’s been 20, but who’s counting?). A long time to be without someone so important.

Your Mom would be very proud of you – UC Berkeley graduate and the first doctor in the family.

She would have wanted to be in the front row on our wedding day. And yes, she would love A’s red hair, and Ben’s infectious smile.

Keep remembering her with this sleigh bed. It replaces the one that got broken. I’m sure she is sending love to us from distant shores.

Love, G.

So. He bought me a sleigh bed.

Backstory: My mother received an antique bedroom set when she was a young woman. It included a double sleigh bed that always made me think of her. G and I have never had a bedroom set, and I figured we could use the sleigh bed at some point, but it’s been so well-used and loved over the years that it has completely fallen apart and is in shards in our garage.

So. He bought me a new sleigh bed. He'd hoped to have it delivered and set up today, but that was impossible, so I got to burst into tears in a furniture store.

Afterwards I felt lighter than I have all month.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A. likes to compose his own songs and teach them to Ben. This composition is one of my favorites, titled "Snow is Slippery." Pay special attention to Ben's backup vocals, which, although I might be biased, are simply brilliant. Also, songs can only be sung in our house if you're walking around in circles.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Shrinky Dink Success

I've not had too much luck with Shrinky Dinks in the past few years. But we've been Christmas crafting and they worked great this time. Guess I wasn't making them big enough to begin with.

We made these window charms for the aunts (shut your eyes, aunts):

Ben scribbled all over the circles, while A. did some stick figures and Christmas trees.

Here's how they started out. I used the grated cheese top as the template for the circles :

And here's how they looked after baking:

We got an assortment of beads at Michael's and strung them up on elastic line. If you try this, take my advice and DON'T FORGET to punch TWO holes in each disk. You're going to be bummed if you just did one and will end up gluing the elastic line to the disks so they hang straight, which will be a big pain in the ass.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

I've been thinking a lot about the division that happens between friends when one has children and the other doesn't. Having had my kids in my later-30's, I've been on both sides of the dividing line and I'm not sure there's any way around it when two friends who used to have a lot in common suddenly seem to have so little in common.

So I was very interested in this article in our Sunday paper. Interested enough, in fact, to write a letter to the editor about it. Nothing says "Blog Entry" like a letter to the editor.

Dear Editors:

I know the article “Losing best friend to the trappings of motherhood” wasn’t written to me, but it could have been. Here’s my response.

Dear E,

You are trying to confirm that I'm the same girl who jumped into the mosh pit, made out with bad boys till the wee hours, and flirted with Johnny Depp. Here's what I've been trying to tell you:

I'm not the same girl.

Motherhood has changed who I am in a profound way. It has altered the fibers of my heart. I talk about my kids because I want to share this profound change with you. You were my best friend, and it hurts that you don’t understand how my heart and soul have been taken over by this amazing little being. I talk about potty-training because that IS my life right now and believe it or not, I wouldn’t change it for a thing.

Of course, sometimes I miss my old life. Sometimes I envy your freedom. But that is exactly why I now gravitate to other parents – they are the only ones who can understand that while I may say I’d like to sell my kids on e-Bay after a vomit-filled night, I would still throw myself in front of a train for them.

You’re absolutely right that choosing not to have kids doesn’t make you shallow or immature. But it's also true that my identity and sense of purpose being inextricably altered by motherhood doesn’t mean I’ve made a mistake.

Here’s a news flash: I don’t want to go to Hawaii for a week without my kids. I love that I connect with my husband over T-Ball. Maybe I will wear that miniskirt again, but it’s kind of impractical for playing with blocks on the floor.

I hope we do get that lunch together. And maybe you can come over to play sometime.

Still your friend,


Saturday, December 09, 2006

So I've started a tradition of making calendars for the Grandpas. I do 12 8.5x11" layouts, upload them to Shutterfly and order some calendars. Inexpensive, and they seem to like them.

This year, you can even personlize the dates on the calendar, which is great because my dad can't remember his grandkids' birthdays. I collected the dates on my side of the family (which was great because I can't remember them either), and G collected the dates on his side of the family and gave me the list.

I noticed he included all the grandparents, although all of them have passed and presumably don't need cards sent anymore. Then I noticed another name.

"Mrs. Davis? Who's Mrs. Davis?"

"Aw, Mrs. Davis. Our long-time next-door neighbor."

"She's, um, dead, right?"

"Oh yeah, she's been gone a long time."

OK, so I can understand including the dead grandparents' birthdays - they're Catholic, maybe they'll want to have a mass said or something. But the dead next-door neighbor?

He asked, "Do you think that's weird?"

I answered, "Yeah, a little, but it's your call." And that's how Mrs. Davis' birthday came to be included on Grandpa G's calendar.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Sleep and Other Mysteries

So the Crazy Toddler is trying to give up his nap. He's 21 months old and everything I've read says he still needs a nap. You know, it would be one thing if he didn't nap but slept in until 8am. He still gets up between 5am and 6am. Enough already, kid. You need to sleep. We need to sleep.


Last night A. came out after I'd put him to bed. "I need you to tuck me in."

"I already did, though - why do you need it to be done again?"

"Because the blanket keeps tucking me out!"


Had a weird encounter at Michael's. The lines were typically long and the cashiers typically slow. The old lady in front of me had divided her purchase into a million smaller purchases and wanted to write a separate check for each one. (Who writes checks anymore?)

So a clerk finallys shows up and says she can take me, since I'm next in line, at the next register. I grab A., swing the cart around and book it over there. A tall skinny woman tries to jump in. I hate line jumpers. Hate them. The lady looks pleadingly at me and says, "It's just one item, please, would you mind?" I'm a zen kinda chick, so I shrugged and said, "I've waited this long, I guess a few more minutes won't matter."

Meanwhile, the old lady finally finished and the customer who had been behind me was already getting her purchase rung up. Of course. Whatever. I felt worse for the people behind me who had been waiting patiently and then had this lady just squeeze on in. But Ben was entertained by the snowmen all over and A. was being cooperative, so whatever.

Here was the weird part: Line Jumper leans over to me and says, "We're on our way to meet my mother at the hospital, to find out...." here she pauses and holds her hand up to her mouth so she can whisper behind it, presumably so her little girl doesn't hear her, "if she has lung cancer," in a big stage whisper.

Lady, why are you telling me this? I told you you could go in front of me. I nodded at her, but thought, "Oh, yeah, my mom had lung cancer. She died. Right before Christmas, too." But when someone tells you their mom might have or has lung cancer, the last thing they want to hear is that my mom had it too - unless she survived, which she didn't. It was weird. When she was done, she actually stepped toward me, put her hand on my arm and said, "Thank you." Um, you're welcome?

This whole December has been weird. I can't figure out if I'm just annoyed with the holiday overload, if I'm pressured, getting sick, grieving my mother, or WHAT. I've been in a bad mood and the news about James Kim didn't help. It made me very, very sad. I had a bit of time before my 6-clients-in-a-row, put The Flaming Lips on my iPod, went out for a walk and wondered WTF everyone was praying was for. I mean, God's gonna do what he's gonna do (or not do) no matter what, anyway, right? I've rarely prayed for anying specific, rather, I pray for strength. Strength and peace for me and/or for others. But today I was just pissed off. God's gonna give that family strength if he wants to. Or he won't. Whatever. My praying isn't going to make a difference.

I'm not always this jaded or angry. 99% of the time I believe that prayer is mostly just being aware of God's presence in our lives. But today - I'm not so aware and I'm pretty pissed off. Stop taking little kid's parents away. Stop giving kids to people who abuse and/or kill them. Just cut it the fuck out.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Look at all that snow. This was taken out of the car window when we went to Mt. Hood right after it snowed. I'm not used to seeing all that snow on trees.

You've probably heard about it, but there's a SF man still missing in Oregon. They found his wife and small children yesterday. I really hope they find him alive.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

G's uncle gave us a generous donation towards a real model train set for A. So we trekked off to the hobby store this morning to be educated on the basics of model train-ology.

Wow. There are people in those stores who haven't seen the light of day for years. Their necks are permanently crooked, and they have no idea how to deal with someone who is over 1 1/4'' tall and not plastic.

We found a girl who made eye contact, and were advised to go with the HO scale stuff. We were also advised to buy a set that was already packaged together, instead of trying to cobble our own from single pieces. That was a good idea because we have no idea what we're doing. There's a lot of precision and work that goes into making a small train go 'round and 'round over and over and over.

I wanted to get the box labeled "PROFESSIONAL HO SET" just 'cause I thought it was funny, but I knew the joke would be lost on a 4-year-old, so we settled on one with a big black old fashioned engine and a couple of freight cars. They also had a HO scale Gordon (of TTFTE fame) which A. said he wanted, but we're trying to get away from Thomas. (Hah! Like you can ever get away from Thomas!!)

I leafed through some of the model railroading magazines and got scared. I even looked at the very basic one and it scared me. I pictured myself trying to bond with my pre-teen son by forcing plaster of paris into a rock mold, deciding whether to go with brown or gray rock paint, and debating the design of trestles. I am glad to be avoiding Barbie, but I'm not sure this is much better.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Blogger's getting pushier about switching to Beta. I don't like the fact that I can't switch back to the original version if I don't like it. Tell me that once I make a decision there's no going back, well, I'll usually just stay where I am, thankyouverymuch. It's hard to make a commitment. Look how long it took me to become a mother. And Blogger, you're not even as cute as the babies, so get off my back.

Thanks for the thoughts on the cards. It was a tie between #1 and #4. I really liked #4, but I also really liked the Merry&Bright word art and it describes the boys so well, so I wanted to keep that. (Personally, Carrie, I liked #3 too. I always knew you had good taste).

G. really liked #1, although I thought it was too busy. So since #1 was one of the finalists, we went with that one. I'm gonna keep the designs, though, and maybe recycle them next year.

We don't have an Advent Calendar. I'm looking half-heartedly for one that doesn't involve chocolate because we'd have to get two. Ben would have a fit if A. got chocolate and he didn't. And while my standards are fairly low, I'm not so crazy about chocolate at 7am. I remember last year A. would have a huge sugar rush before my coffee was done and it wasn't good.

I'm not finding any that don't have chocolate and I don't have the time to make one, although this one is quite cute.

We've got a calendar on the fridge. That's gonna have to do for now. "Make an X in the square, kid, that's as much of an advent calendar as you're gonna get this year."

We did do a gingerbread house tonight. It went quite well. They give you options for a "Sled and Breakfast," and two other designs. Please. I'm lucky to pipe a door and windows on. I ain't doing curtains or gargoyles or whatever. Ben called the finished product "Santa Claus!"

Still having the weird pressured feeling. Don't know why - I did our December calendar tonight and it's not that packed. My shopping for A. & G is done, I've got a few more things to get at Target for Ben and I've just got two family kids to buy Xmas presents for and that will be done. Ordered the cards. No parties to plan for. I don't know what the deal is - maybe I just need to crank up the Paul Anka Xmas Tunes and chill.

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