Tuesday, December 27, 2011

On Cue


I had to produce these in a rush as it was two days before Christmas and one day before my daughter's birthday and she wanted cupcakes to bring in to school for her classmates. Ack!!! They were fun and pretty easy to make but I wish I had had some green felt to put underneath.

Pool anyone?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Rockefeller Christmas

My six year old's note to Santa, as written:

[ON THE FRONT]

To: Santa
Love: [full name]

this is What I Want!
A Whole Stable of thoroughbreds!
thank you!


[ON THE BACK]

I tuch
cellabee staFat Anamel
And More! A BOOK that I Would like


Wow.

As it turns out, the "whole stable of thoroughbreds" is actually something she saw in a toy catalog. Too bad. I kind of liked the shoot-for-the-moon approach to the Santa letter. But then, I guess she has about as much of a chance of getting an iPod touch for Christmas as she does a collection of racehorses.

Don't cry for her Argentina: between the eight days of Hanukkah AND Christmas, she'll make out just fine.

The Gift Git

When we were first married and before we had kids my husband and I were THOSE people who give other people's kids inappropriate gifts. We gave my niece her first Rollerblades, a mini drum set and a karaoke machine all before she turned 5. Eleven years ago, with the birth of our first daughter, we finally gained some perspective but, alas, inherited a "THAT guy" uncle of our own.

My two eldest kids have late December/early January birthdays so every year around this time I perform the great pre-Christmas purge. It's a time-consuming, but ultimately very cathartic way to make room for the latest round of stuff. Anyway, I decided to document all the idiot gifts I found that said uncle has given my children this year (because that's the kind of mood I'm in, bah humbug):

A toy gun that fires hard paper pellets
A toxic, "may stain", paint-spinning art kit
A build-your-own dinosaur kit involving superglue
Giant cheapo candies that are sticky even before the kids make contact
NFL shirts that support my husband's mortal enemies (ie. not Dallas)

Need I say that most of the above have a recommended audience age of my kids' ages plus 10.

He's coming to visit next week, so ... I'll keep you posted.

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Mother is Trying to Ruin My Life

This is the title of the book Minx checked out of her school library this week. Apparently, I am being sent a message. I am no longer allowed to kiss her within sight of her friends/the school bus or make any suggestions as to her wardrobe or activities (although I refuse to relinquish absolute veto power). She actually ran away from home briefly, making it to the end of the driveway before my casual warning to look out for bats persuaded her that she could tolerate living with me for a little while longer.

Then she caught a real humdinger of a cold. Her fever spiked to 102.7 for two days solid. And for 48 hours she refused to leave my side. Of course, that kind of shadowing has its drawbacks as you can imagine. The house is a disaster and we have no food in the fridge or pantry. I can pretty much guarantee that I will be infected just in time for my older daughter's birthday party on Sunday.

But to have Minx all to myself, snuggling and loving and falling asleep in my arms, even if it is for only a short time? Absolutely priceless.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Survival of the Fitness

I get on the treadmill at precisely 6:37 every weekday morning. Not out of any compulsion or superstition, it just so happens that my post-alarm (6:22), pre-workout toilette takes exactly 15 minutes.

Not a whole lot is on TV at 6:37am. I flip between our local NBC affiliate's morning news program and VH-1 (at 6:37 they actually play videos-- only two videos sandwiched between each set of extensive commercial breaks and waaaay too much Daughtry and Lady Antebellum but still, actual full-length videos).

Morning news shows spend a lot of time on traffic and weather, which, you would think, would be a drag for me because I'm trying to distract myself from my workout and weather and traffic are not even in the same galaxy as entertainment.

But that is not the case with my morning TV gang. The weather man is very dry and very funny. I may even have a tiny geeky crush on him. And the traffic gal, as I've only just recently realized, is Mrs. Malaprop.

Last week, she alerted viewers to roads where "flood waters are starting to reside" and the other day she gave us an update on the earlier report of a tractor trailer that had been on fire, noting that all flames "had been distinguished." How fantastic is that!?

I have got to be the only non-commuter waiting eagerly for traffic on the 4s.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Bag Lady

My husband is getting me a not-brown handbag for Xmas. I know this because he told me. And he told me because, while there are many things I am fairly good at, faking I like a present that I clearly don't is not one of them.

So we went shopping together.

I enjoy shopping with my husband because having him there somehow quiets the incessant debate in my head over whether an item is worth its price (it rarely is). It's like I don't have to edit myself as much if there is another rational adult there who co-signs off on the purchase.

Back to the bags. Remember when it seemed like every socialite and infamous former White House intern was developing her own handbag line? They weren't alone. There are a lots and lots (and lots) of bags out there.

It quickly became clear to my husband that finding the right bag for me was not a job he ever could have undertaken on his own. It's almost like Ollivander's Wand Shop-- you have to find the one bag among the many for your arm, for your shoulder: the right leather, the right color, the right heft, the right hardware, the right handle length. It's a very personal decision. Nothing spoke to me. Not even the bags that cost more than most mortgage payments (not that those were ever actually in the running).

My husband pointed out how ironic it is that some of the biggest price tags are for so-called "hobo" bags. Talk about the rich making money on the backs of the poor... Occupy Neiman Marcus!

New Feature: Free Plugs (Products We Love)

Thursday morning at about 8:30 the phone rang. Calls that come in before the school bus are never welcome. Not just because they threaten to throw off the timing of our morning routine but also because they generally bring unwelcome news: neighbor emergencies, cancelled play dates, snow days, etc.

This call was no exception. It was my hair salon calling to let me know that my colorist was sick and would have to cancel my appointment that day. And the first availability that would work for me was in one week. Ack!

Princess problems, right? Perhaps, but the fact of the matter is that, as of Thursday morning, I was already a week overdue to get my roots done. Yikes. Is that a calico cat on your head? No, just my roots. Another week was not going to be pretty. And you can't wear a hat all the time (I'm talking to you, Gavin DeGraw).

Enter Sephora. That's what I did. I told the saleswoman there my tale of (hair) woe and she introduced me to my new favorite product: Rita Hazan Root Concealer.


I was skeptical but desperate. The Sephora lady sprayed this stuff on my rooots to test the color and PRESTO! It looked like I had just walked out of the salon. Truly unbelievable.


My husband, aghast to see me spraypainting my hair, made me promise that I wouldn't lean on Rita in lieu of actually getting my roots done. And I won't. But I will surely be keeping a bottle in the house. (Or two. Shhh...!)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Eye of the Tiger Cub

As testament to how seriously we take kids' sports these days, I had an email from my daughter's soccer coach asking to set up a time to do a half-hour phone evaluation of my kid as a player. The call (which my daughter was required to be in on) consisted of an incredibly detailed assessment of her technical, tactical, physical and psychological abilities. Each of these categories was broken down into offensive and defensive subsets.

It was suggested that my daughter perform some kind of ritual pregame like putting on her right shinguard, sock and cleat, then the left and separating herself from the rest of the team for ten minutes to listen to inspirational music on her iPod to truly focus her thoughts/energy.

She's 10.

So I went on the Internet to try and find suggestions for psyche-up songs that postdate the '80s (I can only throw in so many big hair classics!). Unfortunately, I could only find heavy metal play lists for body building. One whoknewitevenexisted moment came with a CD of "Songs for Jocks" but ... eh, not so much.

Any and all thoughts welcome.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Animal Magnetism?

Last Monday I was watching TV with my husband when I noticed movement in the dining room. It was a bat. Bat #4, in fact, in the space of 9 years (same one, perhaps?). By using detached screens doors, a plastic file folder and a shoebox we managed to get it outside with no one hurt.

Tuesday, my dryer stopped working and in an effort to save money I detached the vent hose and vacuumed in the hose, machine and wall myself. THWUMP! Sucked up a dead mouse and accompanying sunflower seed kernels. Smelled like the inside of a Turkish wrestler's jockstrap.

This morning as I took my daughter to school I noticed a large deer lying on the main road just at the junction of our side street. Five minutes later, on my way back home a policeman was standing over the "corpse" and just as I turned into my road there was a deafening blast as he put Bambi out of it's misery with his gun. Is that even legal btw?

I'm really hoping that bad things do happen in threes because I am more than ready to return to my "Snow White" relationship with animals.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Coal? No Fracking Way, Santa

Like the mighty gladiator deftly swinging his sword, I wield the power of Santa with no mercy.

If I have to contend with Christmas music in stores and Rudolph specials on TV days before the Thanksgiving hand-turkeys have even hit the recycling bin, then you can bet your fir tree that I'm going to take full advantage of the one upside to the ever-earlier start of the holiday season: the naughty/nice distinction.

That's right. Santa Claus is coming to town, kiddos. So please put down that Wii controller. Stop teasing your sister. Clean up those littlest pet shop critters. Let's stop screaming. Wash your hands. Feed the dog. Stop bothering your brother. No fighting. Get ready for bed. Get back to bed. Go to sleep.

See, it's not riding them about their behavior; it's protecting their interests (in receiving presents). I think that secures a spot for me on the nice list too.

It's the most wonderful time of the year....

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hair No Evil

This afternoon's carpool was all kinds of hairy.

HAIRY adj \ˈher-ē\
1a : covered with hair or hairlike material
b : having a downy fuzz on the stems and leaves
2: made of or resembling hair
3a : tending to cause nervous tension (as from danger)
b : difficult to deal with or comprehend

Driving three very giggly, screechy six year old girls and one very loud, button-pushing eight year old boy in the dark through pouring rain to a remote location is hairy enough.

When you factor in the conversation taking place in the back of the car,* which somehow degenerated from all three girls making fun of their older brothers to two of them (not my own thankfully) talking about the relative size of their fathers' privates (as compared to their brothers' privates), you've entered into a new realm of hairy.

Taking definition 3a to its "hairy adventure" limits, one of the little girls realized she could elicit riotous laughs from the other three kids by referring to her father's evidently-not-so-private parts as hairy. And so that's what she did. Loudly and often.

Except she hasn't quite gotten her r's in line yet so it sounded more like hairwee.

Hairwee. Heh Heh. Shut up, Beavis.

I'm off to scrub my ear holes with soap and bleach.

* When, oh when, will some automotive engineer or enterprising wannabe Shark Tank contestant run with my brilliant idea to put limo-type partitions between the front seat and crazy town?!



Friday, November 11, 2011

Wash What You Eat

I saw a report on the news about a salmonella outbreak linked to chicken liver. The suspect chicken liver is evidently packaged and sold in one of two ways: 10 pound boxes each holding two five pound bags labelled "Broiled Chicken Liver: Made for Further Thermal Processing" and 10 pound boxes of loose packed "Chicken Liver Broiled."

I'm the first to roll my eyes at the post-McDonald's hot coffee lawsuit era's over-lawyered CYA labelling of everything but I think the chicken liver folks could have used more input. Yes, the packages do say that the meat has to be cooked thoroughly and no I have no idea how raw those chicken livers actually looked inside the package but in a world where people need to be told that coffee is going to be hot and knives are sharp is it so surprising that a consumer might assume something that is "Broiled" has actually been cooked?

Which brings me to my latest beef: why do the so-called convenience bags of greens say "ready to eat" but then suggest that you wash the contents? Exactly what step are you saving me? The bagging? The chopping?

I just found bagged, chopped kale at the store yesterday, which I was psyched about because the process of washing giant heads of kale and separating the more-edible parts from the less-edible parts sometimes feels endless. Looking at the bag at home, I noticed that it said "ready to cook" (as opposed to ready to eat in a salad) in several places. Chicken livers fresh in my mind, I placed a quick call to the customer service number to make sure they hadn't somehow assumed I'd be broiling away some bacteria.

"No, no," the woman assured me, "it's fine for a salad. Just be sure to wash it first." Gaaah!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Moi is Not Perfect

If pop-culture is in fact representative of our collective experience, my children will someday look back and take issue with any number of things I've done (or haven't done) to shape them and their future problems.

Taking stock, I can pinpoint a few things that have already slipped through the cracks:

1. My daughter doesn't know who Kermit the Frog is. She referred to him as "that green guy in the preview we saw." Miss Piggy? Gonzo? Fozzie? Blank stares from both children. How is that possible when I can still get both fired up and teary about the untimely death of Jim Henson?

2. I'm over the Game of Life. Was it always so complicated? I must have played some quick-start version of it as a kid because I remember nothing about annuities and the stock market. Snooze. My kids will just have to figure out certain "Life" lessons for themselves like 1) what the correlation is (if any still exists) between going to college and the size of one's paycheck and 2) the importance of buying a car with third row seating.

3. The Jets. Clearly my biggest failing.

4. Track pants as everyday wear. Our son has rigged things so that when he wears jeans he looks positively dressed up. Where does it end? Are there sansabelt suits?

I'm going to stop there.

The good news is that I think my kids are still too young to have been scarred by my absent-minded (and often absent-pitch) singing in the car while driving car pool and my lily-white dance moves. And, if I'm lucky, they may never focus on the hours of home videos that were not shot.

For now, they still want to hang out with me and play games. Just not Life. Or Chutes and Ladders. Or checkers.

Go Giants!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

By Your Command

It's time to get political. Wait, don't leave, this is going to be good! I will admit up front that I am a true bleeding-heart, hippy pinko Democrat BUT I do like certain individual Republicans like John McCain. So it is (mostly) without partisan bias that I spill the biggest secret ever: all of the front-running Republican candidates for president in 2012 are androids.

Now, these are not the washed-out androids who are incapable of using speech contractions ("isn't", rather than "is not", eg.) a la Star Trek. These fakes are much more subtle - think the new Battlestar Gallactica - but the tells are there. Conjure up a mental picture: Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Jon Huntsman, even (gag) Sarah Palin (I know she's no longer technically a candidate but she still has a dangerous number of followers). They have PERFECT hair, skin, teeth and clothes. They are all in great shape and stand up straight. They smile when they are saying bad things and rarely blink. Mitt 'National Lampoon" Romney strapped the family dog to the roof of his car and drove from Boston to Canada for goodness sake! No human would ever do that. And have you seen Rick "Max Headroom" Perry laugh? It's like he's stuck on a loop.

I'm just saying, beware. If the fact that this is the very party who got us into this mess in the first place doesn't scare you enough to keep them out of power consider this question: Who built the machines? Baltar?

Mwoooahahahahahah!!!!!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Public Service Announcement

This year autumn trotted out a truly frightening Jack Frost Halloween costume that robbed many people in our town of their electricity, dial tones, tree limbs, school days, and even (the horror!) trick-or-treating.

But there was one bright spot: I have a new favorite candy bar.

I know! Old dog, new trick and all that.... but it's true. In a testament to American ingenuity, those folks at Hershey pushed beyond the myriad of tried and true combinations of caramel, nougat, peanut butter, chocolate, nuts, and miscellaneous crunchy stuff and produced perfection. I present the Take 5.



The Wikipedia entry for the Take 5* says that it was introduced in December 2004. I weep for the lost years.

* I'm always tempted to be snide-- even if it's just in my own head-- about the breadth (and ridiculousness) of topics on Wikipedia. But then I realize that I'm the one searching for more information on dopey minutiae. So, thank you to the person who felt compelled, and had the time, to research and write about a candy bar. And to the others who actually edited, corrected and added to that information. (Can I snark on them? Hmmm...)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Are There Any Alternate Pronunciations?

Our town is holding a town-wide charity spelling bee. My kids can't wait to go watch it.

At first, they didn't quite grasp the concept of a spelling bee, but I could tell that my son-- who can turn anything (raking leaves, taking a shower, putting socks in the hamper) into a competition-- was intrigued. Third graders don't have G.P.A.s or class rankings (yet) so the notion of a crossover between academics and winning is no doubt very appealing.

"What kind of words do they spell?" he asked. "Words like vegetable?"

Yeah, no.

Presented with a perfect opportunity to show rather than tell, I pulled up some clips on You Tube from the Scripps National Spelling Bee. We watched kids spell words like guerdon, phoresy, periscii and cymotrichous. Say whaaaa....?

Now we have our own in-home spelling bees, with the kids asking me for definitions and sentences and then pretending to write the words on their hands as they spell them. It's hysterical (language of origin: greek).

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Feeding into the Crazy

I hate owing. Whether it be money, play dates or even simply borrowing books from the library, I am on a heightened sense of imbalance until I have exactly repaid my debt. Yes, I know, I'm crazy.

I've actually had to restrain myself among very close friends because it seems ridiculous not to let someone buy you a frappuccino on your birthday or host the play date two times in a row because it simply worked out that way. But even just writing this I can feel my back teeth grinding together in anxiety.

So IMAGINE my distress when my first grader lost 3 books from the book bag she brings home from school every week! Granted these books were the size and width of birthday cards so I'm willing to accept that they may have gone out with the recycling, but even being super careful the next week she lost two more! I felt physically sick. I searched high and low, knowing that they were in the house somewhere. I have never lost a book in my life, but this teacher is new to us; she doesn't know that!

Eventually I gave up and told Minx to return the remaining 5 books and we would replace the rest. Guess what?! When she got to school the teacher only found 4books in her bag! Aaaaaaaarghh!!! WTF? Seriously, if someone is playing a practical joke on me, stop right now! The men in the white coats are already knocking down my door.

Friday, October 21, 2011

We Are Not in Kansas Anymore

I am utterly convinced that one of the top raisons d'etre for middle school is to give parents a heart attack. I'm serious. My daughter just started middle school this year (in 5th grade!) and I can remember in June being told, "Don't worry, we REALLY coddle the 5th graders". What a crock! The school has gone out of its way to withhold information that would make the transition SO much easier.

Here's what we didn't know going in on the first day (what I did know could be tattooed on my pinkie toe): we didn't know who was in her class, her homeroom teacher's name or her schedule. We didn't know what the policy was for staying after school. In fact there really isn't one. Apart from one form signed in week 2 my 10 year old can walk out of school at 2:30 and do whatever she likes. Maybe that's why her school photos this year included two free "Smilesafe Safety ID cards" which have a picture of my daughter above instructions on what to do if she is kidnapped.

I got a school bulletin in today's mail which talks a little bit about some of the clubs she could join which would have been useful, oh, about 6 weeks ago. I especially enjoyed the section on upcoming events, all of which have already taken place. Meanwhile, these kids are expected to show up on time, homework done, musical instrument in hand, gym shoes on feet (as relevant) working on not a Monday-Friday schedule which would be FAR too simple but a 6 day schedule. WHY????? And let me tell you, there is NO margin for error.

It all adds up to a whole lot of unnecessary stress, both for students and the parents who are left to pick up the mess. I'd bring it up at the parent/teacher conferences but I just found out - through another parent, not the school, natch - that they don't have such a thing unless you specifically request it. Fabulous.

Move over "Occupy Wall St.", I'm in the mood to protest.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Picture This

The email I sent to the photographer who took the kids' school pictures:

Hi there,

Today was picture day for my son, a third grader at [elementary school].

When I saw him after school he had his (very casual) collared polo-type shirt buttoned (actually, snapped. Snapped!!) up all the way and I asked him why. It looked really awful-- extremely nerdy on it's own and, coupled with his crewcut, very gang-inductee/prisoner. He told me that the photographer's assistant told him to button his shirt. And, because he's eight and a good boy, he did what he was told.

While I can appreciate some "styling" of the kids-- making sure they don't have crazy messy hair or a collar that's folded in or food on their face-- I absolutely do not understand why you or your staff would undertake wardrobe decisions. And what a decision. Good grief-- who buttons up any shirt to the top button? Was he going to put on a tie? I can't imagine the picture.

You do always get great shots of the kids and maybe you can finesse something for my son with photoshop... otherwise, you'll have to let me know, please, when you are doing the reshoots.

Thanks.

[Weaselsnark]

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Overdue Lesson

Wednesday is Sundae at Carvel; it is also library day for my son's third grade class, which means that my "What goes in the backpack today?" mental checklist for Wednesday includes library books.

Note that I said my mental checklist. I know that I should let my children take full responsibility for getting their school stuff together and that forcing them to deal with the repercussions for forgetting things might in turn further foster their independence and reliability (teach a man to fish, blah blah blah). And yet, I can't help but act as the safety net, prompting them along the way (Do you have your homework? Gym today, wear sneakers. Make sure you have your cleats and shinguards.).

Last night I reminded my son that he should locate his library books in the sea of books, baseball cards and sudoku puzzles on his bed and bring them down in the morning. He barely looked up from what he was reading and said goodnight.

This morning, as he packed up his homework I again mentioned the library books (I can't help myself!). He went off to find them and came back empty-handed. Knowing that, even at age eight, he is very advanced at male pattern bad searching (a.k.a. Can't Find the Butter syndrome) I headed upstairs and took a look. No library books.

"Maybe you returned them to the town library?" My son suggested, also very advanced in the art of blame shifting.

I didn't think so, but after the kids got on the bus-- and after tearing the house and car apart-- I called the library to ask if somehow I had. I just couldn't imagine where else the books could have gone. The librarian told me that they do hold books from the elementary, middle and high school libraries that have been wrongly returned to the town library but that currently there were none in the pile from my son's school. But, she added, if it wasn't clearly labeled, it may have gone in the donation pile. Great.

Preparing myself for a morning of fruitless searching through dusty books, I called the school library to find out what the titles were that my son had checked out.

The answer? NONE. Turns out the third graders go directly from library to recess so the kids leave their books on a ledge outside, often forgetting to pick them up on their way back inside. Those forgotten books are brought to the library by the recess aides and checked back in.

So my son didn't lose his library books. He just forgot them outside. And then forgot that he never even brought them home. And then tried to put it on me. Hear me now: My enabling days are over!

Thursday is library day for my daughter's first grade class...

Friday, October 14, 2011

I'll Gladly Pay You Tuesday...


Made this for a Crazy Cake Walk fundraiser at the kids' school. We decided to call it Patty Cake (groan). It feels like I cheated on my cupcake self.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Proof It

The principal at my children's elementary school is not what I would call charismatic. Or a man of the people. Or warm and fuzzy. If pushed (fine, if given any opportunity), I'd say he's a little twitchy and a lot awkward.

As I was preparing to send an email referencing an upcoming school meeting with the principal, I noticed, to my delight, that my iPad had auto-corrected the man's name to read Mr. Aloof.

Oh, auto-correct. You cheeky monkey.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Never Underestimate the Power of the Dark Side

Screens are evil. When they are on, my children are happy and calm. When they get turned off, my children totally lose their cool. The other night, at his usual bedtime, I asked my son to go up to bed and read for twenty minutes. It was halfway through "Cupcake Wars", with the winner far from certain, but I was not prepared for the reaction that followed: Darth Vader appeared in our family room.

Yes, I could go with the Jekyll and Hyde analogy, but Star Wars makes much more sense to an eight-year-old. With the exception of the entire year he was three, my son is 99% Anakin Skywalker and 1% Vader. He is a sweet boy who loves to invent machines, build Lego and cook but once in a while, usually when he is tired or coming down with something, he succumbs to the dark side where he is no less creative.

This particular night, after a foot-stomping tantrum that woke up Minx and some weird rustling noises on the stairs, he finally took himself up to bed. When I went up some time later I had to step carefully to avoid the tacks that had been planted on each stair then quietly remove an entire legion of miniature Nazi and Allied war tanks and troops that blocked the door to my bedroom. Crumpled atop a Panzer was a note expressing his hope that I had regretted my decision to send him up before the show had finished and letting me know that he hated me.

All that running around I did for him that day - searching for the Halloween costume he asked for, mailing in his iTouch to have the screen fixed, buying the ingredients for a recipe he wanted to make with me, and then making it - all gone with one flick of the TV remote.

The teen years should be fun.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Zen, baby!

I just finished reading this excellent book called, "Buddha's Brain." It's written by a neuropsychologist and a neurologist and it basically explains how thoughts can physically shape your brain. Apparently, breakthroughs in modern neuroscience support the insights of people who have spent their lives meditating (like Buddha)so that you can actually re-program your brain to have a greater sense of well-being. Cool, right?!

I know it sounds a bit hippy but I am tired of always being angry about something. I actually have permanent frown lines. I'm tired of not sleeping. I'm tired of feeling restless and worrying about everything. Maybe this will help.

So I'm trying very hard to be present, to take deep breathes, throw back my shoulders and mediate for 5 minutes each day on something that happened that made me feel happy: Talking to my mom on the phone, the spontaneous hug Minx gave me when I made her breakfast, laughing over coffee with Weaselsnark (at someone else's expense - does that count?), the smell of rain ... I don't want to become the next Dalai Lama, I just want some peace of mind.

If you see me at the airport wearing a saffron robe and waving a marigold, you'll know I've taken it too far.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Picture This

I'm a fairly critical person. That's probably sugarcoating it. I'm pretty tough-- both on myself and others (but always with humor!).

Like finds like, so I suppose it is no surprise that my closest friends have always matched me in observing, and noting, human foibles.

Not all transgressions are minor, though. Since high school, my best friend and I have used the term "stupid picture" as shorthand for that moment where you've seen someone do something that will forever change how you view them. The boyfriend that showed up one day wearing knee-high mocassin boots. The roommate who angrily insisted to the waitress that it's "pea-lime pie." Ugh. Even thinking about examples is making me uncomfortable.

And yet, as many stupid pictures as I've witnessed, I know I've committed more of them myself (and that's not including the slew that I've happily forgotten-- there's the downside of Marilu Henner's incredible memory gift right there). Last night I added another cringe-worthy moment to my long list.

A friend called after 8pm begging me to please get on the phone with her daughter and pretend to be the tooth fairy. Evidently Sue, the woman who usually plays that role, was out at her son's ball game or something. What?! Wouldn't the daughter recognize my voice?? What do I say?? Don't you have a million other friends who could do this? (I was already super uncomfortable). My friend pleaded with me, saying that her daughter lost two teeth that day and had been waiting by the phone for the tooth fairy to call. Sue, she added helpfully, always uses a high squeaky voice. Groan.

So, grudgingly, I hid myself away from my husband (who gleefully threatened to tape my discomfort) and made the call. So self-conscious I could barely speak, I could only hope that my friend wasn't listening in on the extension as I tried to make tooth small talk with a five year old in my best Minnie Mouse voice. Awful. It couldn't be over soon enough for me.

Although, I guess it worked. My friend called back ten minutes later and told me that her daughter practically flew from the phone to her bed. Small consolation for my stupid picture, a squeaky, goofy, over-acting self-portrait. Oof.

Friday, September 9, 2011

ER drama

I like few things less that sitting in an emergency room on a Sunday, during a holiday weekend, in the Hamptons. Possibly, an emergency room at 1am on the night after a hurricane might be worse. But stitches that go in also need to come out and it all needs to be done in five days or the skin starts to grow over the stitches. EW!

So I'm sitting in a surprisingly busy ER reception area surrounded by the strangest group of people ever to share a room (ok, Barnum and Bailey's mess tent aside). On the one side we had a Hispanic crowd whose ailments included a full-blown case of poison ivy and a screaming toddler with a pinky finger sticking out at right-angles to her hand. On the other side, a couple of social skeletons, dressed in whale-print trousers and wearing white sun-hats inside (to shade their immobile faces from what, I don't know. Maybe the Hispanics?), waiting to hear news on a heart-attack victim.

There was a kid who had been beaned in the head with a baseball and passed out. And then there was a family of four who had their son's friend for the weekend and had discovered a bat on the light fixture in the kids' room while the kids were sleeping, and failing to remove said bat, had left it til morning in the room WITH THE CHILDREN! So they were there for hours waiting to start a preventative rabies treatment. I'm guessing there won't be a second playdate anytime soon ...

We were just there to get the stitches out of my son's eyelid. We waited half an hour to check in, another half hour to see a nurse, an hour for the plastic surgeon to be paged (dotted with insults that ANY doctor could take out the stitches no matter what the surgeon who put them in said!), only to be told that the plastic surgeon was in surgery and, no, they couldn't say for how long.

"OK, but can you ballpark it? Is he re-attaching an earlobe or is he performing a full-facial transplant?" (medical staff LOVE sarcasm btw). We were sent back to the waiting room.

Ten minutes later, they called us back in to the same room (although there are now fresh sheets on the bed) to say the doctor has finished the amputation and will see my son now. GULP. Amputation?! Dear God, I am sorry I was such a bitch.

The eyebrow looks perfect though.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Miss-lead and Miss-direct

Last year I read The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin's account of her year-long attempt to be-- you guessed it-- happier. The cover art caught my eye when I walked into the library: a row of brownstones (Brooklyn maybe?) under a bright blue sky. I remember reading the jacket and deciding to check out the book to see what this "mom like me" had to say.

A lot of what Rubin came up with was pretty obvious: don't let yourself get cold, hungry, or tired and you'll be happier! One of the chapters was about ridding her apartment of clutter. I felt for Rubin. At the time, I happened to be knee-deep in weeding through all of our clothes, books, and toys and could only imagine how overwhelming the sheer volume of stuff would be in a NYC apartment. I remember how pleased Rubin was to be able to leave one shelf completely clear, how it represented control and calm and possibility. We only ever had one kid in our two-bedroom apartment when we lived in the city and the closets were packed to capacity. I was impressed.

The more I read, though, the more skeptical (and irritated) I became. How was Rubin, with her two young kids, 1) researching and writing historical works; 2) writing and blogging about her happiness project; 3) helping her friends clean out their closets; 4) attending book clubs about YA fiction; 5) meeting people for umpteen lunches and dinners out; and on and on. Where were her kids? How come she never mentioned rushing back for the sitter? How did the kids factor so little in her happiness or daily life? I read the dedication and acknowledgements looking for a shout-out to a nanny. Nothing.

So I hit google. Turns out Ms. Rubin is married to some serious money and lives in a triplex on Park Avenue. The clean shelf lost it's punch right there. I found no mention anywhere by Ms. Rubin of the huge role reliable childcare played in her (kind of ridiculous, considering the facts) pursuit of happiness. I felt seriously duped.

Cut to this year.

Shame on me, because I've been fooled again. I've been a casual fan of Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman) for a couple of years. I read the cooking part of her blog and was always impressed that this "mom like me" could help run a ranch in Oklahoma while simultaneously raising and homeschooling her four kids and updating her website with her recipes, photos, essays and more. I marveled at her energy.

Turns out, Drummond, too, is married to some serious money. Her quaint ranch is the equivalent of at least a triplex on Park Avenue. And evidently she has a teacher for her kids. And a staff for her website.

I certainly don't begrudge these women their money or their nannies. I do, however, resent their lack of candor. It's kind of like the airbrushing out of fat and wrinkles in magazine spreads. Omitting pertinent facts is as bad as lying about them. And twice as aggravating.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Let There Be Light!

I came THIS close to hugging a complete stranger this evening. He was a Con Ed worker and he told me we would have power back by tonight as opposed to Thursday at midnight which was the original time frame.

We only lost power for 65 hours after Hurricane Irene but it seemed like a lifetime. The first day was cool: we had plenty of food, board games galore and the gumption of pioneers on the Laura Ingalls Wilder homestead. We drove around a little bit (my husband likes to plow through puddles in his truck plus he was utterly convinced he could find an open Starbucks. He could not) then we took a walk into town where kids were boogie-boarding down main street and people waded through the flood waters in frightening disregard for the live power lines dangling by the water line. Firemen drove by shouting at us to go home and get off the streets but the excitement was contagious and frankly it just felt good to be out of the house.

At night, my husband was concerned with leaving an unattended open flame so we blew out the candles when we went to bed and Minx woke in the middle of the night screaming about it being "as dark as death". We brought her into our bed where she promptly pulled an "H" position and neither of us got any sleep. At the crack of dawn the smoke detectors starting beeping their warnings of power-deprivation and so day two began.

Monday saw us at the gym, exercising, watching TV (yay!), swimming and most importantly, using the showers. We still had no power, but we had email on the Blackberry which I charged every second that the car engine was running. The food in the fridge seems unappealing and the dry ice we lined up for really isn't keeping anything fresh. At any rate, our BBQ is out of propane. Any restaurants open?

At night, in spite of the candle left burning in the kids' bathroom, my son manages to trip over something and fall, cutting his eyelid open and requiring a 1:00 am trip to the ER and four stitches. Once again, we are functioning without sleep. The food in the freezer is ruined and the food in the fridge 100% unappealing. I no longer have email access which makes me panic because school starts in a week and I am driven crazy by the thought that I am missing out on IMPORTANT messages. There isn't a 'Snakes and Ladders' or 'Yahtzee' game left in us. We empty and clean the freezer then head to a local pool club as guests of a sympathetic friend. Entertainment and showers. I can't even begin to think about laundry.

For dinner we heat pizza bagels and Lean Pockets in a fry pan and just as I finish washing the dishes I see the reflection of emergency lights in the front window. Three huge Con Ed trucks trundle up our road, a liberation army. You can hear cheering, like a wave, up and down our street and then pandemonium as the houses light up one by one.

It is amazing to me that everybody used to live without electricity and so many still have to. I am supremely happy tonight to be back on the grid.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Stress-O-Matic

Got some problems weighing you down?
Looking for something to take your mind off your worries?


We've got your solution right here!

Hi, Billy Mays here, from the afterlife, with the perfect cure for your midlife navel-gazing and medical mini-dramas: Vacation!


But Billy, you say, won't vacation just leave me with hours to stare out at the sea and think? How, you ask, will that help?

Well, we're not talking about any old vacation, folks. No sir. How about we throw in a little earthquake? Distracted yet?

Well, hold on to your hats, because I'm going to blow you away! And I mean literally-- with winds at up to 100 miles per hour! That's right, your vacation includes a mandatory evacuation AND a hurricane that will follow you home.

And, if you act now, we'll throw in downed phone lines and a stream running through your basement.

Don't delay. Operators are standing by....

Thursday, August 18, 2011

O'Donnell Did Say She Was a Witch...

I'm not really one for bumper stickers, especially not ones that attempt humor.

Like vanity plates, even the best "funny" bumper stickers can seem kind of cute or clever at first... but, in the time it takes for the light to turn green, the bloom is off the rose.

But then today I saw a bumper sticker that was so right-on I actually want to tell people about it (which is not to say that I would actually stick it to my car).

In stark white letters, against the generic stars and stripes/red, white and blue backdrop of every political bumper sticker, it read:

REPUBLICANS FOR VOLDEMORT.

Tee-hee!

Monday, August 15, 2011

I Am Yours, MRI, You Are What You Are....

I had an MRI today. (Weaselsnob caled it the hypochondriac's dream.... funny because it's true!)

Happily it was first thing in the morning so I didn't have time to get all worked up about it. Not the results, the actual MRI itself. I've always heard stories about people freaking out inside the machine-- which is why I suppose they asked me if I get claustrophobic (and whether I have any shrapnel in my body).

Fortunately, I answered all their mental-- and metal-- questions correctly and was permitted to continue. Liz, the very helpful and friendly tech, explained what was going to happen and what I should expect over the course of the next 40 or so minutes. She then gave me some headphones and asked what kind of music I would like to listen to.

My mind blanked. Liz started rattling off the options in their CD library: "Classical, Jazz, Light Rock, Classic Rock...." I chose Light Rock (Lite Rock?) figuring it was a safe bet and then made a nervous joke about how awful it would be to hear "Macarena" over and over. Liz parried with "Not as bad as 'Hot Hot Hot!'" I actually banned that song from my wedding. I could hang with this Liz.

Headphones, collar and head gear in place, I entered the machine. And the music started. A classic Crosby Stills & Nash song. Not bad.... about what I expected. I was happy with my choice. Then the next song came on. I didn't know it but recognized the CSN/CSNY harmonies. And then "Our House" came on. Oh good god. A whole Crosby Stills & Nash CD?!!!

I contemplated squeezing my Emergency Stop Bulb but decided to tough it out.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Curl Talk

Judith Newman wrote a piece in the NYT about being curly in a straight world. Weaselsnob emailed me about it. We both have bathroom cabinets full of half-empty bottles promising to fight frizz and tame curls.

Ms. Newman points out that lots of curly girls pass for straight (it is not possible, she writes, that all news anchors have naturally straight hair). For some reason, Newman notes, straight hair is generally perceived as more attractive, more respectable, more refined, more business-like, and on and on.

I only wish she had gone even further in illustrating how pervasive the bias against curly hair is. Off the top of my head:

1. Sandy in Grease.
Want to achieve a super trampy look that signals to your loser greaser boyfriend that you're leaving the whole good girl thing behind? Go super curly (and wear spandex).

2. Tangled.
Rapunzel has magical, long (straight) hair. Her evil witch of a step-mother is curly, curly, curly.

3. Katy Perry's "TGIF" Video
The awkward teen alter ego of Russell Brand's wife has glasses, head gear, and-- horrors-- really bad frizzy hair!

4. Glenn Close

On Damages, Glenn Close plays a brilliant lawyer with straight hair.
In Fatal Attraction.... yup, curly. Super curly.

5. Juliana Margulies

On The Good Wife, she is putting the pieces of her life together and improbably handling (and winning) trials as a first year associate with (impossibly) straight hair.

On ER, one of Nurse Hathaway's first scenes finds her being wheeled into the ER after trying to kill herself. Her hair is as unstable as she is.

6. Natalie Portman in The Other Woman (I just saw this on a plane)

As a woman trying to build a relationship with her new stepson and to cope with the recent death of her baby, Natalie's character is an emotional mess (as telegraphed by her wild, poofy, frizzy hair).

At the end, the movie jumps ahead to a time when Natalie's character is more mentally stable. And guess what? So is her hair! It looks good for the first time.

7. The Princess Diaries

Anne Hathaway's character is transformed from ugly duckling to royal swan by-- yup-- straightening her hair. (Same trick that happens on almost every makeover show, especially What Not to Wear).


I've come to terms with my curly hair. But I've got my fingers crossed hoping that my daughter's hair stays straight. And if it doesn't? Well, at least she'll have my lifetime of curl wrangling knowledge at her disposal, along with way better products than were available when I was a teenager (omg, mousse?! why???).

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

40 Serving Love

My son ran me all over the tennis court the other day, leaving both me and my self-esteem sore.

Though wounded, my ego was able to throw up any number of weak justifications: I haven't played in years (decades even); he practices six hours a week with the tennis team and/or pros and every weekend with my husband; my racket is ancient (with a nauseatingly sticky grip); I have 40 year old legs; and on and on.

But he and I both know that, notwithstanding the fact that he called every single close ball in his favor, he beat me fair and square. And even though I contributed to his win by having umpteen unforced errors, I was trying my best.

He's being semi-gracious about it, but it still doesn't sit well with me. I'm raring for a rematch. I'm just going to have to sneak in some practice first.

Good grief. What am I going to do when he (inevitably) grows stronger and taller than I am?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Excuse Me, Is Your Refrigerator Running?

I have always paid attention to song lyrics and, with some rap-based exceptions, am fairly adept at both deciphering and retaining them.

As an aside, it's practically criminal how the brain can hold on to some information like phone numbers and lyrics and completely void itself of useful stuff. I often wish my entire education had been set to music just so I could have a shot at remembering something actually relevant to my daily life and the questions my kids ask me-- as opposed to the year in which the Battle of Hastings was fought (1066).

My mindless focusing (oxymoron alert!) on the words I'm singing must feed into my enjoyment of those misheard lyrics roundups. You know what I'm talking about... "'scuse me while I kiss this guy" (Purple Haze); "I'm not talking 'bout the linens" (I'd Really Love to See You Tonight); "the cross-eyed bear that you gave to me" (You Oughta Know); and, of course, "Hold me closer Tony Danza...." (Tiny Dancer). I'm sure there are websites devoted to them. (Just checked. Yup.)

We may have a new entry.

Our family's song of the summer is Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks." Notwithstanding what I said about being good with words, I have practically no idea what they are saying during most of the song. The verse is sung through some kind of megaphone that distorts the sound, but then it breaks into a very catchy chorus that I love but which is still somewhat hard to decipher. Turns out that the words were being purposefully manipulated as a way of censoring them (the chorus references guns and bullets).

A second aside: The upshot of all of Tipper Gore's fist shaking all those years ago is that they garble "gun" and "bullet," meanwhile I have to keep my hand on the dial to navigate away from Rihanna singing about how she likes the smell of sex in the air and sweet little Bruno Mars' plans for after he does his p90x? It's like radio morality and censorship are in direct contradiction with what is deemed okay by the ratings boards/standards and practices for movies and tv. Can you all meet in the middle somewhere please?

On Sirius we can hear the song as written and it clearly says (in part) "all the other kids with the pumped up kicks you'd better run, better run faster than my bullet." Except my son hears-- and sings-- it a little differently: "better run, better run, faster than my oven."

He insists it makes perfect sense.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Notes from a Small Island

We just got back from our annual trip home to England and the jet-lag hasn't been too bad this time, even for the kids. We had a really great two weeks; perfect weather, Wimbledon (on the telly), a day trip to London to go on the Eye, watch the changing of the guards and see where Prince William and K-Middy got married. Minx got well into pate on toast and all three kids discovered the joys of a local sweet shop where everything was in jars and had to be weighed on an old brass scale, straight out of Harry Potter.

We explored the tunnels underneath the cliffs of Dover where the Dunkirk rescue was masterminded and took a miniature train down the coast for a fish and chips dinner. We went to a quintessential English fair with a coconut stall (if you can hit the coconut with a ball, you get the coconut!!!). My eldest, Lefty, who's been pitching for her softball team all summer, winged the ball so hard it not only took out the coconut but also the stall behind and landed somewhere in the forest beyond. Coconut all round!

It was lovely to spend time with my family most of whom I only get to see once a year. Once, my brother scared the crap out of the children by racing out into the garden (where they were quietly playing cards) wearing a gorilla costume. He later tried it on me when I was hanging out the washing but it backfired when I swung the whirligig at him in panic and knocked him on his back. My brother-in-law also spent hours with the kids, playing games, blowing up a soccer ball too much so that it exploded and left a hexagonal welt on Lefty's stomach, and teaching them English slang. Worst thing to call someone? Frenchman. In fact, when we arrived back home to 99 degree heat, Lefty declared it to be "scorchio". Uncle P would be proud.

We also got to spend time with one of our nieces who got on famously with Minx and spend most of the days either asking for ice cream or telling people to sit in the corner. On her last day, she called me a bony-bum which I've never been called before and for which she will always be my favourite niece. My mum and sister provided a rather gentler form of entertainment in the shape of books, stickers, crayons, cooking projects and issues of Heat magazine.

It's good to be home, but I do miss them all.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Re-gift Re-gaffe

The end of the school year is like Christmas, if only in the sense that you practically bleed money thanking everyone from the bus driver to the assistant assistant t-ball coach.

This year I found myself running out the door for the last baseball game with no thank you gift for my son's very kind, very dedicated coach. What to do? No time. Panic!

I scanned my re-gift shelf. Electronic weather center? Nah. Dangerous Book for Cats? Um...no. Spiderman umbrella? A possibility. Wait, no.

Then I remembered that in the fall my husband coached our son's soccer team with Coach X. Coach X received a Starbucks card from one of the players as thanks and graciously mailed it to my husband. My husband, intent on somehow slipping it back to Coach X, left the card in its envelope in our junk drawer.

Problem solved! Shamelessly, I put the old card in a new envelope with a note from our son and... gave it to Coach S.

Who then thanked us profusely. Over and over. In person. And by email. And with a handwritten note to our son. And then I realized that my great solution had one not so tiny flaw: I have no idea how much money was on that Starbucks card.

It's entirely possible that whoever gifted Coach X was a generous soul and that we, in turn, came off that way. It is also possible that the card was a token $5 thank you and Coach S. didn't realize it until after the parade of thanks. D'oh!

The most torturous part is that I will never know.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Survivor: Suburbia

I am making new alliances and trying to break old ones without looking like a conniving beyotch. I am firmly straddling two opposing sides, double-agent style, while the game plays out and other people reveal their loyalties. No, I'm not on a reality TV show although I think I could be. I am negotiating my daughter's soccer team for next year.

Apparently, it's like this every year; a complete and utter bun-fight. We had one girl leave the current team because her family is moving abroad and another quit soccer altogether and suddenly it's all up for grabs! Like dominos they fell until only five players were left: three definites and my daughter and her best friend who had offers from another team.

So we look for substitutes for Team A while keeping our options at Team B open. Team A = very convenient practices and great experience (plus we just bought $100 worth of uniform for them). Team B = much less convenient location, second-mortgage-time expensive but great reputation. Hmmmmm.

It will all come to a head in the next week or so when a final decision has to be made. I will hopefully come out of this unscathed, carrying the winner's torch and gaining the ultimate prize: a happy 10 year-old girl.

p.s. Sadly, while gruelling and cut-throat, Survivor: Suburbia has not resulted in any significant weight-loss.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Darndest Things

The final weeks of school are always a little crazy-- field trips, school-wide theme days, summer birthdays celebrated early, dress rehearsals, recitals, tournaments, try-outs, conferences, committee meetings, teachers' gifts, library books to be tracked down, and on and on.

I think I look forward to and appreciate the lazy, carefree days of summer because they come on the heels of so many concurrent-- and sometimes conflicting-- obligations.

Yesterday I had to force my son to come inside and fill out a questionnaire about second grade. His answers, along with those of his classmates, will be assembled into a "memory book" for his teacher, Mrs. F. And those answers had to be in today (along with a check and a recent photo of my son, which, because I didn't have one handy, I actually had to take and print before the bus came).

Mrs. F. is a wonderful teacher. My son had a great year. Unfortunately, his monosyllabic or near-monosyllabic responses to questions like "What was the best part of second grade?" (gym) and "What did you enjoy most about class?" (tadpoles) don't quite convey the warm feelings and appreciation I had hoped for. But he's eight. And a boy. And being 100% genuine. I assume a second grade teacher can appreciate those things.

The worst/best part was how he finished the prompt "I like Mrs. F because...."

His response: I like Mrs. F because she doesn't yell too much.

High praise in his mind but it reads like it belongs here .

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Royal Wedding Part Deux


Ok, at the risk of being repetitive, here's another royal wedding post, but too funny not to share. Thanks big sis!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Royal Pains in the Bum

OK, so I've been struggling for a few weeks to think of something original to write about the Royal Wedding (Yes, remember THAT news story? Where did it all go?????), something that hadn't been said five million times elsewhere. Then a very sarcastic friend of mine saw me in town and yelled out "Hey, Pippa!" to catch my attention and it hit me: Kate Mountbatten-Windsor (nee Middleton), Duchess of Cambridge yadda yadda yadda and her stunning sister Pippa have a lot to answer for.

Most British people to hit the US media - actors, musicians,politicians - are relatively unattractive in American terms. The one exception might be David Beckham (I don't count his wife because I'm not convinced she's human) but even he has awful teeth. We are a nation known for our poor dental aesthetics. Someone I worked with once threatened to come visit my husband and I in the UK and I jokingly said I wouldn't give him our address. "How hard could it be to find two people in England with good teeth?", he quipped. Humph.

But now we have Kate and Pippa, who have set the bar WAY to high, apparently without any effort at all. It's not like Diana, who never quite seemed to be of this world (in a good way, unlike Posh) because their beauty seems very accessible. By contrast, I am no longer 'not bad for a Brit'. In fact I'm quite sure that anyone who heard my "friend" calling me Pippa took one look at me and thought "as IF!"

(It was a beautiful wedding though, wasn't it? No, I wasn't invited)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Level-- I mean Step-- One

When we were kids, my brother and I-- both blonde and blue-eyed with a natural SPF of about negative eight-- often sought ways to escape the relentless rays of the mid-day summer sun.

At the beach club, we'd commandeer a table in the bar and play backgammon for hours. And, on those days we skipped the beach and stayed at the house, we'd hide out down the road (and across an abandoned field) at a restaurant/bar that had an adjoining black-lit arcade with a Six Million Dollar Man pinball machine, Space Invaders, and Pac Man. We spent a lot of time and ice cream man money there.

All those hours spent in bars as a kid may be at the root of my problem. No, not a drinking problem. A gaming problem.

My susceptibility to the siren song of "Player 1" has manifested itself many times over the years: I spent hours in my brother's room playing Pitfall! and Hockey on the Intellivision; I was addicted to Snake Byte on our Apple II (I can still picture vividly the trailing green tail); and I know that I deserved a four credit A in Tetris for all the time I wasted playing it freshman year.

The kids always ask me to play Wii with them and I defer. My reason for saying no is not that-- at almost 40-- I think video games are beneath me or that I no longer have the requisite hand-eye coordination. I don't play Wii with them because I'm scared of a future that finds me home alone at 11AM on a school day working hard to help Mario and Luigi rescue the princess.

And then I got the iPad2. Alert! Alert! Turns out I know myself pretty well. And yet... that didn't stop me from playing Angry Birds Rio until I got three stars in every level.

My name is Weaselsnark and I have a problem.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I No Longer Have Piles!

My in-laws are coming to visit next week for my son's First Communion. It's a very good thing because our guest room is a pigsty and I needed a kick in the pants to do some spring cleaning.

The extra wet, cold spring meant that I had plenty of time to go through the kids' rooms and get rid of the clothes that don't fit them anymore. I only wish we had cousins nearby to offload the stuff in one fell swoop. Instead I put it into piles on the spare bed: girl clothes that can be passed down to my younger daughter (that I think she'll want to wear), boy clothes that can be sold on consignment, boy and girl clothes for Goodwill and little girl clothes for consignment. Consignment potentials also have to be divided and dropped off seasonally.

Once I had categorized and bagged up all the clothes that were on the bed, I found wrapping paper, a humidifier filter, partner-deficient socks and my royal wedding paraphernalia (so THAT'S where the bunting went!). I still have some work to do in there but it was very cathartic to get the clothing sorted. Now the kids can open and close their drawers and wear seasonally-appropriate clothing. For a couple of months anyway.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cup of Woe

Saturday was Opening Day for baseball in our town. Yawn....oops, I mean, yay!

My son had his first practice Saturday afternoon. Because spring weekends in suburbia are literally jam-packed with sports, the plan was that my son and I would rush from his practice to catch the end of my daughter's soccer game.

Watching my son struggle to keep up with me as we headed for the parking lot and then duck-waddle/run back to the batting cage because he had forgotten his water bottle, I couldn't help but think that maybe having eight different sports commitments a week was beginning to take its toll.

When we finally got to the car, he kind of laughed, shook his head, and said: "Note to self: next time the cup goes over the underpants." Ouch.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Separated at Birth





The Donald and Owen Wilson: Same squinty eyes, sucking-a-lemon pursed lips and floppy hair. Let's take a poll: Who would you rather have as your President?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Someday Is Not A Day Of The Week

There is an article in this month's Real Simple magazine about procrastinating and how to stop. I haven't got around to reading it yet but I plan to. It's very frustrating to know full-well what you have to do, whether it be sending an email to that long-neglected friend or cleaning out your closet of things you haven't worn for five years or more, or putting your family photos in an album, and yet still not be able to bring yourself to do it.

For example, my son really needs a tie for his first Communion. I tried one store, weeks ago, then gave up. He's probably going to end up wearing the Gryffindor tie that was part of his Halloween costume two years ago. Is that offensive? The Church of England refused to allow the Harry Potter films to be set in Canterbury Cathedral because of the witchcraft theme, so I'm assuming the Catholic church isn't too happy about it either.

Mostly I procrastinate when it's something I don't like doing. I would rather do almost anything else but grocery shop, for example, so sometimes we literally have nothing in the way of real food in our house. I'll finally get up the energy to go and then be diverted by the first phone call suggesting a coffee break. I'm not talking 'Glass Castle' here (no one actually goes hungry), but we've had Lean Pockets for dinner. Once or twice.

Other times I put off things that seem like they would require a lot of logistics; going away on a girls' weekend or learning how to play the guitar. I have nothing but admiration for people who know what they want and make it happen. I have good friends who are like that - how can they can stand me?!

So I'm going to read that article and see if I can motivate myself to be a more efficient, organized person. As soon as I've finished folding the laundry. And watching 'Iron Chef'...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Miss Crankypants

I remember reading Miss Lonelyhearts in high school and being inspired to write a daily column on things that bugged me. But then I got distracted by all the AP Calculus I wasn't understanding and forgot about my pet peeves. Or at least about sharing them.

Well, no more! My time has finally come.

Today's gripe: Why do packaged loaves of bread always have an odd number of slices? Wouldn't you assume that most people are using sliced sandwich bread for..... I don't know, sandwiches?! A single slice of bread is of exactly no use to me. And if you've ever been left literally holding the bag (as I was this morning) you know the desperation of trying to cut the heel enough to make it pass (upside down, natch) as a regular slice of bread.

I can imagine how that will go over in the lunchroom. What could be less appealing to a kid who-- much to my chagrin/bemusement-- carefully eats every morsel up-to-but-not-including the crusts, than a whole piece made up of nothing but crust?

And while we're fixing the loaves of bread, why not just leave off the ends altogether? Lop them off at the factory and recycle them right there into breadcrumbs or stuffing. Does anyone eat the ends or do we all just reach past the heel to get to the good stuff underneath? (Strangely, I never throw away that top end until the whole loaf is otherwise finished-- I've always treated it as the protector of the other slices or something).

I'm feeling better already.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Clothes Encounters

We were invited to a family party two weekends back - no, I'm sorry, per the invitation it was an "event" - and far too late to do anything about it, we discovered that our older daughter has absolutely NOTHING to wear except sweats. We cobbled something together out of clothes of mine that shrank in the wash (I swear) and vowed to go shopping together the following weekend.

So last Saturday we went to the mall. The problem was, neither of us knew where to shop anymore. Gap was too "young" for her (really? 'cos you're 10), Crewcuts was too fussy and designed for stick figures, and Justice was just plain nasty (my eyes actually hurt from all the tacky colors).

Finally, we found Abercrombie and, as I would have been at her age, my daughter was in heaven: Skinny, stretch jeans, plaid shirts, cute cardies, tiered skirts, Justin Bieber blaring (Baby, Baby, Baby, Oh!), a miasma of perfume wafting through the air!

We grabbed armfuls of clothes and headed for the changing rooms where we were stopped short by a very ditsy shop assistant who informed us that only one person was allowed in the changing room at a time.

"But I'm her mother and I want to see how everything fits!" I spluttered.

"It's store policy ma'am" (Oh no you didn't!).

The policy is probably aimed at tweens/teens on a shoplifting spree but this girl clearly couldn't work out the difference and I didn't feel like pushing it. She said what she was told to say. I guess a store that sells padded bikini tops to seven-year-olds really has a pretty twisted view of the world.

Of course, we'll go back.

Friday, April 1, 2011

How to Tick Off Your Kids

Step one: Tell them it's a snow day.

Step two: Wait for them to get all excited.

Step three: Say "April Fool's!"

Tried and true.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wrinkles in Time

It's weird that certain things can make you feel suddenly old. It's not so much birthdays for me; it tends to be incidents that illustrate the narrowing of my life-choices.

The first time this happened was when I realized I was older than the reigning Wimbledon champions. Even though I never even played tennis on a school team let alone at competition level, the remotest possibility that I might someday be a tennis star was now removed.

And just like September 11th or the day the OJ Simpson verdict was handed down, I remember exactly where I was the first time somebody called me "Ma'am". I can also clearly recall the first time I wasn't carded while buying beer.

Today, thanks to a fabulous new development at the DMV, I went to get an eye test and renew my driver's license at the optometrist. Looking at the doctor's diplomas hanging on the wall I noticed he was younger than me by several years. Oh man. Another milestone.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Rough Ruff

When we go out for a walk in the park, our dog-- much like her owners-- is not all that into hanging out and socializing with the other dogs/dog walkers we run into. Good dog.

The other day, as we deftly navigated past a group chit-chatting and fetching balls, we noticed the preschool-aged son of an acquaintance grabbing their black lab by the tail. And tugging.

The boy's mother rescued the dog, wearily admonished her son, and then turned and said "I swear, he's going to be like the next Jeffrey Dahmer or something."

N.B. Dr. Pediatrician Man: I've never named or even alluded to a cannibalistic serial killer when discussing my kids' behavior. So, I've got that going for me, which is nice.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

(I didn't come off so) Well Visit

I took the kids to the pediatrician today for their annual check-ups. These appointments play out the same way each year: first the vision test; then the hearing test; a quick hop onto the scale for the weigh-in; back down and heels against the wall for a height check; wait another ten minutes for the doctor; and then brace for the agonizing attempts by the doctor to establish a dialogue with my children.

My kids are chatty. Like, super chatty. Like, don't-ever-try-to-watch-a-game-show-with-them-because-you-won't-hear-any-answers-or-questions chatty.

They bombard us with questions-- technical, theoretical, and, yes, even rhetorical. They talk each other into fits of rage and fits of giggles. They talk to themselves, inventing fantasy worlds and fantasy shoot-outs. Good grief, they even talk in their sleep (oddly, mostly about food).

But guess where they say nary a word? Yup. Must be something about that exam table, because once their little behinds hit that crinkly paper their lips practically seal.

Today the doctor (who, granted, walks the line between warm and off-putting) hit them with some doozies. My six-year-old was up first. She got through her grade in school and favorite color but then he shut her right up with "What games do you like to play with your friends at school?"

[blink. blink.]

"If your best friend came over for a playdate, what would you play?"

[picture Cindy Brady frozen, transfixed by the "On Air" light on that TV quiz show she was on]

"How do Mommy and Daddy show you they love you?" (What the????? Kind of a creepy question, no?)

Teeny little voice: "They kiss me."

Bolstered, he followed up with "And how do Mommy and Daddy show you they are mad?" (Wait, what???? Definitely creepy, man.)

Looooooooong pause. And then, clear as a bell, "They spank me."

WE HAVE NEVER SPANKED HER. EVER. Listen, I'm not perfect. I'll yell. I'll hold a grudge. I'll give the silent treatment. But I'm just not a spanker. Neither is my husband.

The one bright side to being slandered? It forced my son to speak to the doctor --- in my defense. He practically jumped to his feet to contradict his sister. "Mommy never spanks us, she just takes away the wii."

"I see.... So, how much wii are you playing?" Ruh-roh.

Hey, now! Let's get back to who can be the quietest!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

So Special

My daughter found out about an on-line creative writing course and decided to sign up. It's a "gifted" program so first we had to release her academic records, then we had to set up a time for her to take a mini-SAT test at a local testing center.

The test time we were given was right at lunch time and it was a fair drive to get there, so we packed lunch for her to eat in the car. Naturally, in spite of wearing her jacket, by the time we arrived her white t-shirt was covered in food. "Who's gifted?", I teased.

Ducking down in the car I removed my undershirt (and so had to wear wool next to my skin -ITCHY) and had her put it on over her soiled one. Perfect. We went in to sign the paperwork and get ready for the test. While I confirmed her details, she filled a cup at the water fountain, took a swig and spilled all down her/my clean t-shirt.

She looked at me with a big, beautiful grin and quipped, "Who's gifted?!" And just like that, we weren't nervous about the test anymore.

Collect Calls

I'm no anthropologist, but there's got to be something primal about collecting stuff.

Whether intended or not, we all have collections-- it might be shoes, cars, jeans, art, tea cups, snowglobes or tsotchkes. Some people pursue their collections (picking up a magnet in each city they visit, say), others have collections thrust upon them (I saw this frog and thought of you since you have so many frog things...).

My weakness is toys. Toy makers are no dummies. They know that the real money is to be made not from the one-time toy purchase but from the repeat customer, the collector. So Snoopy gets a wardrobe. And Matchbox manufactures every make and model. And Hello Kitty-- is there anything you can't get these days with Hello Kitty on it? I wish I could go back in time with a trunk of today's Hello Kitty loot and make my seven-year-old-self's day.

Back when my son was into Thomas the Tank Engine, he played with the wooden trains all the time. And we collected them. I say we because I think I was just as into adding new trains as he was. What collection would be complete without Daisy? Or Spencer? Or Diesel 10? But, man, there was always another overpriced train being released. When I realized that they were using the TV show to introduce this endless parade of new trains my cynicism (finally) took over. Fortunately, at around that time, my son's interests moved on. (Baseball and football cards have yet to draw me in)

My daughter has about 20 active collections. Littlest Pet Shops. Boos. Webkinz. Pandas.

For her birthday last year we gave her one of those Charm-It charm bracelets. I figured it would appeal to her on many levels: jewelry, adorable miniatures, collecting things.... But I think I was just projecting. The other day I was at the toy store and was checking out the spindle of charms. (They always have new ones and some are ridiculously awesome.) And, lo and behold, there it was! Finally! A panda charm. I think I actually squealed. The intersection of two collections? Priceless. Right? Right?

I called my daughter over, figuring she'd go nuts. Eh. Not so much. She used her store credit on (yet another) stuffed animal.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Phone Home

The other day I took the kids into the city on the train. The permit to park at the train station only covers one car, so, to minimize the hassles, the kids and I joined my husband and the rest of the commuters traveling on the 7:23.

Of course, actually catching the 7:23 is not without hassles. In the frenzy of waking up two extremely sound sleepers and getting them (and me) washed up, dressed, and out the door-- while also making sure that the dog went out to do her business and that I had something with me for each of the kids to eat, drink and do while on the train-- I forgot a few things. Like to put on any makeup. Or my watch. Or to grab my blackberry.

If I didn't already know that I am dependent on my phone, consider that lesson learned. I can't tell you how many times I reached for my phone before remembering I didn't have it. Not having my watch only compounded the problem-- I came thisclose to having to ask a stranger for the time.

On only one other occasion can I remember feeling the same way: when we lost power in our house. "I can't use the stove... I'll just use the microwave. Oh, wait.... That won't work.... The toaster! Oh, wait..." And then later, "The TV doesn't work but we have stuff on Tivo. Oh, wait...."

As the kids sat on the train home, happily reading their books, I again regretted having planned to return a backlog of emails over bringing my book. And then, an epiphany: I'll play Word Mole to pass the time! Oh, wait....

My next thought? I am too stupid to live! (Extra credit if you know who I'm quoting.)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Private Practice

My husband has taken the kids on a couple of overnight ski trips recently and I have been left alone for the first time in 10 years. I am not good when left alone: I take liberties. Remember that Saturday Night Live spoof of the movie "Ghost"? Sam's ghost comes back to visit Molly who, because she believes she is alone, is wondering around the apartment in dirty sweats, farting and picking her nose.

OK, I'm not THAT bad, but standards are definitely slipping. Tonight I ate a nutritionally suspect dinner. At 5:45. In front of the TV. Wearing my pajamas. I planned to watch a dreadful chick flick until I remembered I don't like chick flicks, so I watched "The Social Network" instead. Still, my husband didn't want to see it (it doesn't involve either the mafia or Clint Eastwood)so it's a victory. It was actually pretty good.

These experiences have given me a fairly accurate insight into what my life might look like if I were single. Not sure I would appreciate this lack of structure on a long-term basis. So now I'm going to go to bed early and tomorrow I'll get up late. Then, I guess I'll get my festively-plump self to the gym. Before I'm tempted to buy a cat.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Unfit to Print

My printer broke. It's one of those things I don't appreciate as much as, say, my Blackberry, because I don't use it daily but not having it was a royal pain in the you-know-what. Whether by accident or divine meddling (paranoid, much?) I suddenly needed to print lots of things.

After a full week of trying to fix it myself, getting cross, driving up to the nearest Kinko's and waiting in line for a computer at the local library I decided to bite the bullet and call the helpline at Dell.

"My printer says it has a paper jam but I can't see any kind of blockage."
"Did you lift up the lid where the ink cartridges go, Ma'am."
("Duh! And by the way, you need to not call me Ma'am.")/ "Yes"
Did you look in the back where the paper feeds in?"
"No ... oh, there's a Nerf dart in there, wedged under one of the rollers!"
" .... OK then?"
"OK."

Bloody kids.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Eyes Have It


The cupcakes that I made for my daughter's birthday today call to mind: a) Geico's "Somebody's Watching Me" commercials; b) those old-school Sesame Street "yip yip yip" aliens; or c) the 18 crazy, over-sugared kindergarteners that I left in my wake.

I hope her teacher forgives me.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Well spotted!

This is the blog I was going to write:

'Since I turned the big 4-0 I have suffered from adult acne. Not too bad - essentially a red, itchy Fu Manchu demi-moustache - but irritating in more ways than one. I guess that if I had to pick a time to get acne I'd choose now as opposed to the teen years but it's never a fun affliction. The really weird thing is that it's only on the right side of my face. What's up with that?! I am forced, in everyday conversations and especially in photographs, to do a Shannon Dougherty and only display one side of my face.'

Then I woke up the next day with acne on the left side of my face as well. Serves me right for complaining.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Nostalgia

Dana Carvey hosted Saturday Night Live this weekend. I don't know if SNL was better back when Dana Carvey was on or if I just watched it more regularly but I was actually happy seeing Wayne, Garth, and the Church Lady again.

Unfortunately, not all walks down memory lane are as welcome: I find myself living inside one skit from that era every Monday afternoon (my own personal Groundhog Day) and it's like Chinese water torture.

The original bit had Chris Farley nervously interviewing or chatting with a celebrity and all of Farley's lines would begin with "Remember that time..." Like to Paul McCartney: "Remember that time you were in the Beatles? That was cool." Or to Bruce Willis: "Remember that time in Die Hard when you jumped from a building? That was cool."

In my life, it's a little girl that I carpool to and from dance class. "Remember when I climbed over the seat? That was funny." (Yes, I remember, it just happened five minutes ago.) And then, invariably, on the way home: "Remember before when I climbed over the seat? That was funny." And-- I'm not exaggerating-- it happens every week. We are always forced to reminisce about events THAT JUST TOOK PLACE. Or things that happened during last week's drive. Things that, really, weren't particularly memorable even at the time they occured.

Hey! Remember that time we played who can be the quietest both ways? That was cool.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Aye Chihuahua!!!


Feeding into the celebration of mediocrity, Minx's kindergarten teacher brought up the subject of half-birthdays at school and sent around an email suggesting that parents of summer babies could bring in a special snack on that day. In case you didn't get the message, there followed a list of upcoming half-birthdays in the class. Bugger.

So, despite having a Mother Hubbard pantry (from the winter storms and mismanagement - not necessarily in that order), I scraped together some ingredients and made 24 cupcakes. In the shape of Chihuahuas.

Oh, and by the way, to those kids who complained that the nose was a Raisinet instead of a Jellybean: you will not be invited to the REAL birthday.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Untainted

I arrived a little early to pick up my son from a birthday party today. The kids were still eating cake. Ever the opportunist (esp. where cake is involved), I happily accepted a slice and sat down at an empty table within earshot of the following:

Third Grader (a neighbor of the second grade birthday boy): Have you guys started studying heroes yet? [The second grade play is about famous Americans] My favorite is Harriet Tubman. She is so cool. If she were alive-- and, you know, my age-- I'd totally marry her. She is just so cool.

How long before this awesome child is brought down by the Kardashians? Sigh.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Separated at Birth

The cupcakes I made for my son's in-school birthday celebration and.....








beloved oatmeal and "diabeetus" tester pitchman Wilford Brimley.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Isn't That Special!


Even the people who wear sporrans, psychedelic trousers, and have legs like a mangled chicken should be judged by the content of their character.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Home Alone (with two kids and one incredibly needy dog)

Another week, another snow day...

Today we were pinned inside by grey skies and icy, sleety rain. Silver lining: my son's birthday was yesterday so we had a bunch of new games to play and legos to build.

At about 4PM, the house of brotherly (and sisterly) love started to show signs of an imminent cave-in; I decided to put on a movie. Yes, I get all my parenting tips from Roseanne.

Weeks ago I had Tivo'd Home Alone, figuring that its Tom and Jerry-like violence would appeal to my kids. I was not wrong. My kids howled as the Wet Bandits repeatedly fell victim to the booby traps set for them by crafty eight-year-old Kevin McCallister. Woo-hoo! Kids rule, grownups drool! I totally get it.

Interestingly, their big take-away from the movie was not the iconic shot of Mac dousing himself with after-shave and shrieking. It was not even the montage of Kevin doing all the things a kid would do if no parents were home to stop him (jumping on the beds, eating a giant ice cream sundae, etc.). No, it was a blink-and-you'll-miss-it line uttered by Kevin as he paws through his brother Buzz's things: Kevin picks up a framed photo of a girl, winces, and says "Buzz, your girlfriend-- woof!"

It's been about three hours since the movie ended and my kids have quoted that line no less than 100 times.

Please, please, please let there be school tomorrow. No whammies, no whammies, no whammies......

Monday, January 17, 2011

JK Rowling's Biggest Little Fan

We went to New York City today on a culture trip to see the King Tut exhibit. It was interesting, especially the work being done to analyze the mummy's DNA. The artifacts were beautiful too but definitely second tier, ie. no sarcophagus.

So, we're walking through the crowded rooms and my youngest, Minx, is instantly bored. She can appreciate shiny gold baubles as much as the next girl, but not if she can't see them. I was trying to give her an abridged version of the history and explain how the ancient Egyptians put little statues in with the dead to give them protection in the afterlife. "Harry Potter's mother needed that!", she responds. Okaaaaay. At least she's making connections and relating, right?

On the way out, we buy the kids "papyrus" scrolls with their names written in hieroglyphs (spurious, as even the silent letters were translated) and Minx turns hers into a marauder's map.

Then we head to the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch - the kids have been STARVING for at least an hour - where we are seated in front of a giant poster of John Lennon wearing his New York t-shirt and signature little round glasses. "Look", Minx squeals, "Harry Potter!!!"

Apparently, we need to get out more.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Salon Selectives

I love going to the hair salon. Not only do you walk in with gray roots and a frizzy, triangular do and walk out with a gleaming helmet of style, while this transformation is taking place, you get to paw through a thousand shiny magazines! And unlike Doctor or Dentist visits, you actually have time to do due diligence.

At my last reincarnation, I read publications I didn't even know existed. I spent almost an hour gleaning articles and came out armed to the teeth with ideas for what books to read next, continuing education, girls' holidays, anti-aging products, and hotel ideas should I ever get to Austria. I also read a number of personal narratives, including one in More magazine where the woman tried to be a perfect mother and finally realized that all she wanted was for the kids to realize she did the best she could. What an epiphany! I teared up and had to fight to find my hands under the protective cape so that I could administer a tissue (sob!).

I left feeling very informed about the world at large and more importantly, the world of celebrities. I also felt empowered and rejuvenated. Reading at the salon is a little like the fries that come with your burger, secondary but often more satisfying: a sensory treat.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Razing Arizona



The part of sociopath Jared L. Loughner will be played by...














Michael Rappaport (Boston Public, Friends) OR










Drew (on the right), from Season One of The Amazing Race.


Sarah Palin's part in the mess (no cameo role, mind you) will be played by Tina Fey, natch. Or maybe by that witch from Maryland. Special appearance by Charlton Heston's ghost.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Party Crasher

We had my son's birthday party at our house again this year and as with every year, I set off with noble plans to make the BEST CAKE EVER and ended up having a sub-par, food-coloring-laden behemoth that no nine kids could possibly eat. It's a recipe for disaster for an incompetent perfectionist like myself. Needless to say, by the time party day arrives I am wound tighter that a frozen viola (that's tight!) which goes some way to explaining my ire at the gatecrasher.

Yes, that's right, we had a gatecrasher. It was only a sibling of an invitee but it was a 5-year-old, chronically misbehaving, disruptive, nose-picking, no-please-or-thank-you sibling who walked straight into our house trailing snow and proceeded to interrupt the magic show in progress. Her mother rather impudently asked, "It's alright if she stays, right?" and I began my passive-aggressive seething.

So straight after the magic show, the kids sit down for pizza and piggy-wiggy nose-picker starts bawling that there isn't place for her at the table (that's cos you weren't bleeping invited, you little @*&*). I manage to wedge in another chair at our already overcrowded table and immediately demands fly for juice and pizza, and more juice and more pizza. She out-ate every 8-year-old boy at the table. You can imagine the reaction to there not being a loot bag. And this is with her mother present!

My husband wants me to let this go so I'm hoping that writing it down will prove cathartic. I'm sorry to stay that the whole affair soured my party mood considerably and took my attention away from my son. Thankfully his experience, being less petty, was a happier one.

... Nope, I'm still angry.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wait a Minute Mr. Postman

Before we firmly shut the door on the idea of baby #3, I spent an inordinate amount of time weighing the pros and cons of adding to our brood. I'm somewhat ashamed to admit that some of the "pros" I gave considerable weight to were purely silly, superficial things-- like getting to come up with a name for the new baby and that small window of time after the baby is born during which you feel like you have real news and people send you lots of presents.

I do so love getting mail.

With each of my kids, it felt like something new arrived every day. Until he could read, my son called the UPS truck "the Present Truck," because UPS brought something for his then baby sister practically every day for like two months (okay, it was probably only a few weeks--infant months are like dog years).


You get spoiled. I remember feeling more than a little dejected as the flow of gifts started to trickle.... and then stop. It was Post-partum depression (see what I did there? Post, like mail? I'm here all week).


Which brings us to the New Year. It's happening. It's over. The boom days are behind us.... not a single holiday card in the mail today. And no more packages from Amazon left by my garage (it doesn't matter that all those packages arriving daily in December were things purchased by me, they were PACKAGES!).

Talk about winter doldrums.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Adieu Noelle

As I take down my Christmas tree, it is with a strange mix of relief and regret. Every year it's the same: Putting up the tree is wonderful - we light a fire, make hot chocolate, put a Christmas CD on and set to work. There's always a point, just after the lights and earth tone baubles, when I want to stop (I remember my mother reaching the same conclusion when I was a child) because it looks so elegant and sophisticated. But the kids always push on with the preschool creations, the wooden donkey, the metal airplanes, the crochet angels from grandma and the Star Wars figurines (from the bar scene in Episode 4) from my brother, to name but a few. Every ornament has a tale to tell.

[Hmmm, I wonder if my parents still have that weird-looking gingerbread man that my brother dubbed "the octopus" ...]

Anyway, it's a happy mess and cleaning it up - which always ends up being a solo endeavor - is so bittersweet. BUT I have my son's magic-themed birthday party here in a week and, digging deep to rustle up some enthusiasm, I push onwards and upwards. I could really use a little magic myself if you know what I mean.