Friday, December 23, 2005

Since I don't want to waste any more space on Assholes.

Go check Heidi out. She's been writing about her childhood the last few posts, and it's really good stuff. I just love that girl!

Peter Fonda, where are you?

As seen at Holly's place.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

I want to stop, but it keeps getting better.

Here's the latest. (I didn't figure out the email blocking thing correctly, dammit.)

From Brad to me, he didn't cc anyone.

I'm sorry but I just can't help myself. I know you'll hand this one right off to Lance but it really bears asking. I'm pretty sure I know what Lance and Chip do all day. What better things do you do with the 50% of your time that my mom has your kids, besides mess with my brother's and my relationship?

Perhaps if you were busier with your family you wouldn't have so much time to play your mentally fragile and unstable games on your and my family. Lance couldn't explain what Marisa and I should be apologizing for. Can you?

I know. Petty and probably more helpful to your selfish cause than the peace it brings me to finally say it but something has to give here. Can you answer the question of what we owe you an apology for? Lance had to get up and leave the table because he was so frustrated with his inability to put his finger on it. I believe in today's note he actually asked me to think of something to apologize to you for.

Help me out. Help the (Last name) family out Amy (my maiden name). Or do you enjoy this?

My reply.

That's beautiful, Brad.

I wish you the best, and hope you get the professional help you sorely need. When you do, I'd be happy to lay out exactly what you need to apologize for.

However --- just for example's sake--you could apologize for the insults you've been slinging my way and Lance's way in this email and the others. Oh, and let's not forget that lovely voicemail. Those are just the tip of the iceberg, and the most obvious. If you were in a rational place, you would not need me to spell this out for you.

I hope you and your wife manage to have some sort of happy holiday. I also hope your mother and father are able to enjoy theirs, knowing the pain you have willingly and knowingly caused them and your own brother.

I've added your email address to my junk list, so there is no need to reply to this.

I am trying really hard to not get upset about this, as obviously that is his intention. Lance's parents are a complete wreck, but still maintaining their "don't talk about it, and it will go away" stance.

I tried--valiantly, I tried!--not to respond at all, but finally I had to. I now wish I hadn't.

Lance isn't home, and I'm not sure when I'm going to show him this latest round. I don't want to show it to him at all because I don't want to upset him, but I know I have to.

Happy Fucking Holidays!

(Please, dear god in heaven, whoever you may be, please let this be the last time I ever have to write anything about those assholes. PLEASE.)

Uh oh.

Last night, this happened. Lance and I were there. Sigh.

But, just to be that much more of an asshole, Thing One sent me this today:

Did you catch that game last night? I listened to the last 4 minutes coming home from the office. Our guys outscored your guys by 20 in the second half for a blowout victory. The 3,000 fans in attendance stormed the court afterwards.

Tim Floyd and a new arena could be a potent combination. Basketball and football; an embarrasment of riches.

Merry Christmas!

My first response was this: "The true embarrasment here is that we have to claim you as a family member." Since I couldn't send that, I sent this instead:

There is no one by the name of Amy (Lance's last name--I kept my maiden name) at this address. If there were, she certainly wouldn't respond to such a mean-spirited e-mail. Merry Christmas!

Does anyone know how to block an email address from outlook? It keeps telling me to click the organize button but I don't seem to have one.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Monday, December 19, 2005

Where is the good cheer?

Although I know I said I was done with my Christmas shopping early this year, I am still running around like crazy. Why? I don't know! I can't believe how much I have to get done every day, and how often I don't get remotely close to doing that. I still have butt-loads of presents to wrap--presents which I bought in November, the Christmas Eve dinner party is coming right up, I have to pack everyone to go back East, pre-school is closed. Help me!

There is no time for blogging, and this is making me sad.

Not to mention, we are all going to Delaware the day after Christmas, where I will stay with the kids for almost a month. I am looking forward to spending some time with my family, but. . . how the hell am I going to blog? My parents have internet service, but they don't know about the blog. So I'm not sure how I'm going to keep up with everybody. Sob! Sob! Sob!

And does that mean that stupid post about my fucking asshole brother-in-law is going to be right there, up top, for an entire month??

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Round Two--Update

Lance had lunch with Thing One yesterday in an attempt to settle things. It did not go well, and Lance left before the bill came. When he got back to the office, he sent him this:


Sorry for being late. And sorry for bailing on the bill. You have become an extremely deflective and elusive person to communicate with. The conversations I've attempted to have with you and your wife recently have been the most frustrating ever. I am not sure what to do or say at this point...............

And Thing One responded with this charming missive*:

Not to worry. Hope you feel better. Happy to wait a half hour to buy you lunch again and hear about your perceptive take on my wife's and my faults. I'm trying very hard to stick to my no email policy but listening to you unload is more than I can let go quietly. If I didn't edit myself, you would really love the list of reasons that I find your accusation of us being self centered and demanding so ironic and humurous. However, I think you already know this and I also think that your knowledge of this fact is the main source of your frustration. I've told you numerous times and I will say it again. We completely support and understand your relationship with mom and dad and we absolutely endorse it without strings attached. I think it is wonderful that Amy is willing and able to share so much of your children's lives with mom. As we all used to agree, it takes much of the burdon off of Mark, Margaret, Marisa and me. Not that mom will want or receive the time of day from our children should things remain the way they are now. We have a separate issue with mom that has nothing to do with you. You guys should have no concerns regarding how we live our lives. We certainly are not spending any time worrying about how you live yours. Don't mistake that for lack of interest. It is only that we do not sit around and make judgements about you. We do not have the time, nor are we inclined to disparage and/or compete with our family. I'm sorry you all feel so certain that is not the case.

Please try to understand that we are not the least bit upset with any of you nor are we the slightest bit frustrated. We got over it a while back and we find it extremely unneccessary for you to be trying to rev things up again. It would be nice to see the family operate on a reasonably functional level without any pettiness, manipulation, power plays or lack of self confidence. I was going to fake reaching that point by diassociating myself largely from interactions with the disfunction. You seem unwilling to accept that. However, you also don't present any other reasonable solution. The current situation is embarrassing (another reason I avoid the three of you) and about as far from what Papa T would have wanted as possible. That is truly sad. I suggested to mom that all we want is her unbiased pride in her children and her unconditional love, without judgement or opinion (unless requested: doubtful). How is that an unreasonable or difficult request of one's own mother? In fact, I think eveyone could be much happier if we all held to this standard.

Please try to get over June 20 or at least find some additional fresher dirt. You've got to admit that 6 months is getting a little stale. Though I was thoroughly amazed by your ability to keep a straight, self righteous and indignant face as you suggested that my calling mom out on her "bullshit" was going to taint your childrens' virgin ears. That was truly remarkable and I enjoyed it much more than I conveyed. You're right, Marisa and I pose the threat of potentially ruinous negative influence on the kids. Maybe you should stick with mom and pursue the status quo.

I love that you found me elusive. I've been seeking that quality for some time. It's called a poker face and it is very good for negotiating. I've been accused of having mom's trait of being unable to keep my mouth shut (see paragraph 3 above) and I'm working hard to get rid of it. Thank you for the compliment.

Can't wait to see you both on Sunday. Mom says she is looking forward to the opportunity to start fresh. You don't want to miss out on that do you?

For better or worse,

Your brother :-)

Sunday there is a large family Christmas party at my mother-in-law's home. Lance's older brother and his wife have flown in from Virginia to attend. Thing One and Thing Two will be there.

I'm really looking forward to it, as you might imagine.

*The email was sent at 7:21 pm, but he cc'd his father, his older brother and wife, and Lance at their work emails. He did not cc his mother.

Update: I know, I owe everyone an update. The party was fine, and awful. There were many people there, which made it easy enough to avoid Thing One and Thing Two. I had to say hello and endure a hug from Thing One, but I tried to make my "Oh, wonderful to see you, too, Brad. As always" as sarcastic as possible. I managed to avoid Queen Bitchiness* the whole evening, thankfully, and only had to swoop in and direct my children away from her once. Lance had to say hello to both of them but that was the extent of it. We both enjoyed ourselves with the other members of the family.

And still, it sucks balls. It's not exactly fun, avoiding people. It's not exactly cheerful, wanting to punch someone in the face. It's not exactly heartening, knowing that your own flesh and blood goes out of his way to say and do hurtful things to you, for no reason. Those two will never apologize, will never treat Lance and my mother-in-law with love or respect, and there is nothing I can do about it.

*Lance thinks it does a disservice to Dr. Seuss to use his terms for my in-laws, and I tend to agree. So I may come up with some new ones. Like--Spineless and Mrs. Wench. Or something.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Santa Claus is Comin' to Town

Our first trip to see Santa Claus was two years ago, when Isaac was 10 months old. Lance and I took him to the Westside Pavilion, on a weekday night, early in December. We figured this would ensure a short line. In fact, there was no line. That's right. NO LINE. We paid our $21.95 and sat Isaac on Santa's lap for about 6 shots. He was not afraid at all and smiled gamely through the whole thing.

(Please excuse the flash and blurriness: I have no scanner.)

Last year, we had both kids, but again, took them out to the Westside Pavilion one weekday evening in early December. Again, no line. Isaac would not sit still (of course) but he still smiled. And Vivian didn't cry, which was more than I expected of her. They took about 12 shots before getting one that would work, but there was no pressure, no wait. An unexpectedly pleasant experience.

Last night, we headed out to our favorite Santa again. I was sure Vivian would refuse to get near him, but she surprised us all by walking right up to him and smiling. Isaac was obsessed with the flash this year, and kept looking at it, rather than the camera, but other than that, no problems. No line, no crying, no being pressured into buying 500 photos.


I love our Santa. I also love that he is the same guy every year, on the same ugly purple sofa.

The funny thing about all of this is that he is not a particularly likeable Santa. (Perhaps this explains the no line.) He is actually kind of cranky, not that comfortable around kids (I know), and quite bossy. Not really jolly in any sense. The photos are not especially good, either--off center, full of red eye, etc. I guess I'm just not too concerned about the photo in this case--it's only a record of the experience. A perfect Santa photo would be nice to have, but these sub-par ones seem more real to me.

In any event, he's our Santa and we're keeping him.

Filed under: Apparently he DOES listen to me

Scene: In the car, on the way to pre-school. Some radio show is playing, but I am not paying attention.

From the back seat, Isaac says: "That's STUPID. I can say STUPID. STUPID!"

Realizing that the radio show announcers are cracking jokes that are not appropriate for kids, I quickly change the channel, then turn around in my seat.

"That's not a nice word, sweetie. We don't say that, okay?"

Isaac: "I don't say, stupid?"

Me: "Right."

Isaac: "Fucking stupid! I can say, fucking stupid!"

Me: "Isaac! No! We do not say those words!"

Isaac: "But Mommies and Daddies say those words. Just not kids?"

Me: "Um. No. Nobody says those words, okay? Not even Mommies and Daddies."

Isaac: "I don't say fucking stupid. Only Mommies say fucking stupid. But not kids. That's not a nice word. Fucking stupid!"

Me: "Isaac!"

Vivi: "Fu-een soodi!"

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Matching set

When I was a wee child, my parents did not have a lot of money. My dad graduated from law school when I was two and my sister was four. For several years after that, he was getting his footing, and it wasn't until my adolescence that we began to live comfortably, and then well. As a result, my mother made many of the clothes that Ann and I wore.

About twice a year, a box of clothes would come in the mail from my great-aunt and great-uncle, who lived in Nashville, Tennessee. They had two daughters, who were about 10 years older than we were. They lived very well in Grand Ole Opry land, and dressed their daughters to the nines in matching dresses befitting the times. Unfortunately, by the time Ann and I fit into these clothes, the "times" would be 10 years past.

How we dreaded seeing that box come in the mail! Oh, the ugly matching dressed it would hold. My mother forced us to wear them all, not wanting to let any free gift go to waste, much less expensive dresses that she could never afford to buy us. No matter that the style in Nashville is much different than the style in Delaware. No matter than peter pan collars have been out of style for 8 years. Ann and I would beg and plead to get out of wearing these dresses, or at least not have to wear them at the same time, but to no avail. I'll have to find some old photos so you can see just the how bad they were.

Consequently, children in matching clothes make my skin crawl. I have a feeling that even without the traumatic childhood memory, children in matching clothes would make my skin crawl, but this is my excuse. Once, at a holiday party, I saw a whole family matching: the same plaid in the mom's skirt, dad's pants, little boy's short overalls, and little girl's dress*. YUCK.

This year, my mother-in-law purchased a cute red plaid outfit for Vivian to wear at the holidays, with a matching plaid button down shirt for Isaac. Fortunately, I felt comfortable enough to thank her profusely, but mention that I just didn't like the kids to match, so I'd probably just have them wear each outfit to different events. I reassured her that I would be happy to put them in their matching outfits and take a photo for her, and she rolled her eyes, but otherwise accepted this deal, no doubt chalking it up to yet another character flaw of mine.

So. You may imagine my surprise when I realize that my son likes to match his sister. Every night at bedtime he runs excitedly into the room, saying, "Let me pick out the p.j.'s, Mom, let me! Here, here, Vivian should wear these ones. I think she likes these, Mom!" He'll pull out a pair of hers, one of the one-piece ones that snap up the front, and then race to his drawer, searching for his. He only has two pairs that snap up the front, and both of them are too small, but he insists that if Vivian is wearing a one-piece, then so must he. The other night, he got more specific, insisting that Vivian wear the pajamas with the trucks on them (a hand-me-down, they used to be his), since his also had trucks.

So far, this need to match has only manifested itself in night-wear (thank god), but I wonder if it's only a matter of time before he is asking his grandmother for matching clothes for his birthday. Oh, she will be so vindicated!

* Okay, here I have to admit: that family is related to me. My mother's first cousin and her family.

Friday, December 09, 2005

To set the record straight

I feel like I've been bitching about my mother-in-law an awful lot lately, and I really shouldn't. She is actually a wonderful woman, in many ways. She is incredibly generous, and baby-sits whenever we need to. She loves my children as much as I do. She puts up with the fact that I refuse to take her last name, although this causes her much embarrassment in her circle of friends. She is patient with me when I get angry at Thing One and Thing Two, and lets me rant and rave, without defending them too staunchly. Yes, she can be annoying and she often says things in a less than tactful way. She has very different ideals than I do. But I am confident that she loves us, and would never intentionally hurt us in any way. And I feel lucky to have that, in a mother-in-law.

Then there's Isaac. He, too, can be annoying. And yes, he is going through a very defiant, obnoxious phase that I am having difficulty dealing with. But despite all that, he really is a wonderful, happy little boy.

Yesterday, both children woke up early complaining of ear-aches, so we spent much of the morning at the doctor's office. We waited in the sick waiting room for about 35 minutes, among the other ill children, who mostly sat quietly next to their parents. Isaac does not sit still, even when he is sick, so he ran around the room, from toy to sick kid to toy, exclaiming at the top of his voice, "Look at this toy, Mom! I'm sharing this one! Look, there's a baby! I see that little girl, Mom! Here, Vivi, come play with this toy! No, I want that toy, Viv! Here, you take this one." For 35 minutes he ran rampant in the room, so excited to be there, with new toys to play with and new children to meet. At one point, another little girl, about 3 or 4 years old, snapped at him, "No! I want this toy! It's mine!" but he just smiled and said, "Look at this kitchen, little girl! Do you want to help me?" She ignored him for a bit, but he was insistent: "Do you want to help me with this? Do you? See the kitchen? Here, help me." And eventually, she did. All the other parents in the room were smiling by the time we were called into see the doctor--it was impossible not too, he was just so happy.

I love that he is so easily excited by what life has to offer him. I love that he is so friendly and that he is not put off when other kids don't take to him immediately. Yes, he is rambunctious, and yes he has his challenges, but he's also quite charming.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

What is it again, that cometh before the fall?

Just before Thanksgiving, my local grocery store handed me a free frozen 15 lb turkey. When I brought it home, Lance said, "Not again! Couldn't you just tell them no? Why don't we donate it?"

This response is a reaction to last year's free turkey, which I brined and roasted, using the Wolfgang Puck recipe off Food Network. It was a complete disaster. I cooked all day long, slaving over the gravy, the potatoes, the turkey--all of it. The turkey was undercooked, and way over-salted. The gravy--for all the work I did--was only marginal. We ended up throwing most of the meal away. Fortunately, I did not cook this for anyone else--I just made Lance and I a Thanksgiving dinner of our own, a week or so after the big day, because I had the free turkey and I wanted to practice.

This year, I waited until Sunday night after Thanksgiving. Instead of Wolfgang Puck's recipe, I used Alton Brown's. I bought a new thermometer. I worked for an hour or so, nothing too taxing, then served up the turkey, gravy, roasted potatoes, store-bought salad, and cranberry sauce. It rocked. Ask Heidi, she was there.

Did you get that? I roasted a turkey, and it turned out. I am completely thrilled and impressed with myself, and I don't care if I am 35 years old and I should have been able to do this years ago.

Also? My Christmas shopping is done. Every gift is purchased, half of them have been sent on their merry way across the country, several of them are even wrapped and hidden in my garage already. Yes, I still have MANY left to wrap, but I don't have any more to buy! What else am I going to do at naptime except wrap Christmas gifts?

Tonight I finished the Christmas cards, too. I just have to drop them off at the post office tomorrow and I can cross that project off the list. Because my mother-in-law is so proud of her grandchildren that she insists I send Christmas cards to every person she has ever met, including the nun who taught Lance second grade, I send out over one hundred cards each year. I think maybe 25 of those are friends of mine, and many of those "friends" are people I only stay in touch with via the annual card. I love getting cards, though, so I keep them on the list.

Do you know what this means? I can enjoy the rest of the month! We can go see Santa in the mall at our leisure, on a weekday afternoon when Lance has some free time, and miss the crowds. We can pick an evening and go see the festival of lights at Griffith Park. One day next week or the week after I can make cookies with the kids, before I have to start gearing up for the Christmas Eve party. I can watch the TiVo'd episodes of Santa Claus is Comin' to Town and Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer with the kids and not have to rush them off to bed so I can get my wrapping done. Lance and I can take a walk with the kids in the evening, and take in all the neighbors' pretty lights. Hooray!

Last but certainly not least, Vivian keeps impressing us with her verbal abilities. I think she's pretty average with talking, but then Phantom told me she might be advanced, so I'm sticking with that. She does have a ton of words, and more every day, it seems. She has two sentences: "ah deed eet! (I did it!) and "ah seee ooo" (I see you). She's been full-on walking (as in, no crawling, not at all) for about a month now, and she's getting more coordinated every day. Best of all? She understands most everything I say, so if I tell her not to touch the tree ornaments, she looks at me for a minute to make sure I mean it, and then she doesn't touch the ornaments. So NOT the way Isaac reacts when I tell him not to do something, and he doesn't even have a language barrier to use as an excuse.

Although Isaac is doing good things, too. Well, no, not really. Actually Isaac is in a really difficult phase right now, which involves a lot more yelling on my part than it probably should. But this is a post about pride, after all, so . . .He knows how to spell his name. He knows how to spell Vivian's name. He throws and catches the football really well. He remembers things that astound me. Like the Dr. from our surgery in June. Or the birthday party he went to a year ago.

And? My birthday is tomorrow.


why the hell the new XM radio that DIRECTV offers plays the same incredibly lame Amy Grant or Mariah Carey "My Grown Up Christmas Wish" song repeatedly, ad nauseum on their Holly channel. No other song seems to enjoy the same rotation.

The price I pay for enjoying the other Christmas songs, which some might call sappy & uninspired? Perhaps.

0 for 2

Lance's grandparents belonged the Los Angeles Country Club for many many years, and although his grandfather died a few years ago, his grandmother ("Nana") remains a member. Every year, the LACC puts on a Christmas show for the children of their members. Apparently, my mother-in-law (Linda) used to take my husband and his brothers to the show every year, though Lance claims to have no real memory of this. For the past few years, my mother-in-law has wanted to re-create these memories with her grandchildren.

Aside: my mother-in-law is an interesting and at times infuriating person, but her heart is generally in the right place. One thing about her: she takes it personally whenever Lance and I raise our kids in a way that is not exactly the same as how she did it. She saved all the toys from when her sons were growing up, and these are what my children play with at her house. She even buys old toys on e-Bay, claiming that toys "these days" are useless. She has given me clothes that Lance wore as a child for Isaac. She is not Catholic, but since her boys went to Catholic school, she is appalled that we are not considering it, and makes comments about this whenever she gets a chance. The party at the LACC is just another facet of this personality "quirk" of hers: she wants my children to have the exact same childhood as her children did, and her children went to this party, so my children must.

The party at the LACC is complete and utter hell. Imagine a room filled with 200 spoiled blonde kids ages 0 to 14 running around willy nilly in their expensive clothes. Then add the 400 parents and grandparents, all dressed to the nines, trying to be social while the kids run amok. The temperature in the room is 90 degrees. The line to sit on Santa's lap is hours long, and takes even longer than the ones in the mall since here, the parents take the photo. Which, in this environment, means that each parent takes about 50 shots, making sure to get just the right one. No consideration, at all, for the people in line behind them. Random children run through the shot because their parents don't bother trying to rein them in, or teach them manners. In the midst of the madhouse are two "elves", who make balloon shaped animals for kids. Balloons which pop loudly. Kids demand 3 and 4 balloons each, and it doesn't matter who else is waiting in line for one. Other little charmers take their candy cane shaped balloons and bang the face of the elf repeatedly, even after their father says weakly, "Okay, Madison, that's enough."

Trying to corral two toddlers in this mess was challenging, as you might imagine. The show starts at 4, but my mother-in-law insisted that we get there early, around 3:15, to be sure we got a good seat. That means I have to start getting the kids ready at 2:15 or so--right in the middle of naptime. Isaac didn't nap at all. Vivian had just fallen into a deep sleep when I had to wake her. We got lost (of course!) on the way there, and Isaac almost fell asleep in the car. Once there, my usually boisterous son was completely undone by the chaos. He didn't want to sit with me, he didn't want to wait for Santa, he thought he wanted a balloon, but it took too long. My mother-in-law tried to take him outside for a few minutes, but they had roped off the fountain and encouraged everyone to stay inside. He was seconds away from tears the whole afternoon. Nana was there, too. She is a wonderful woman, but she has Alzheimer's and is very unsteady on her feet, so really Linda and I were babysitting her as well. Vivian, to my surprise, didn't seem overwhelmed at all, and even laughed and giggled with some other children, instead of hiding her face in my legs. But this did not work in my favor, since she was constantly trying to explore other areas of the room, and I had to run after her, catch her when her new Mary Janes tripped her up, and keep her from stepping on any other children, or cutting in the Santa line. All
this, while still keeping an eye out for Isaac.

At some point, they started setting up for the "show" (a juggler and some marionettes). All the kids took a seat on the floor in front of the stage. At that moment I was chasing Vivian, and Linda was sitting with Nana and Isaac. Suddenly I looked up to see Isaac in the middle of the "stage", inspecting the microphone stand. Linda was nowhere to be seen. I tried to call him back, but he couldn't hear me over the din of a thousand children. I had to step over twenty kids, holding Vivian on my hip, until I finally made my way to him and explained that he needed to be on the sides of the stage, with the other children. The juggler rolled his eyes at me and snorted "Jesus!" under his breath as I apologized and whisked Isaac away.

The show was fine, the kids were interested for about 10 minutes and then I had to distract them both for the next 30 minutes while it dragged on and on. Afterwards, a stampede of children and adults swarmed past us, headed for the dining room. Linda insisted we head back there too: they hand out cookies!, she said. We always used to get cookies! Fortunately a nice gentlemen informed her that there would be no cookies until after dinner this year, and so we were allowed to leave. Which was REALLY fun, since now it was 5 pm in Los Angeles. The 5.6 mile distance from the club to my home? A one hour drive.

The thing that kills me the most about our whole debacle? The exact same thing happened last year. Pure hell, every minute of it. So I knew what I was getting into, but had to grin and bear it anyway, just to placate Linda. I deserve so many medals for daughter-in-law of the year! Just like last year, as we made our way out to the cars, Linda apologized for all the confusion, and said, "Next year it will be more fun, the kids will be older. We can probably stay for dinner then."

Yeah. Just what would make the afternoon that much more enjoyable: to stay and eat dinner in a crowded dining room where Vivian would spill the water and Isaac would not want to sit still. Where the food would be ridiculously expensive and un-appetizing. Where the kids menu would not offer anything that was not made with dairy or peanuts. Where it would still be 90 degrees and I would be required to smile and make small talk with any number of well-dressed, wealthy moms who look much more put together than I could ever imagine and are prettier and younger than I am too.

Ah, Christmas.

Last year:
Amy, Vivi & Isaac at LACC This year:DSC02426

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Monday mornings, Lance doesn't need to get into work until late. This week, Isaac was up at his normal 6 am, but I'd managed to keep him quiet in front of Sesame Street, and Vivian was still snoring away at 6:45. Lance and I lounged around in bed, waking up slowly. At one point I asked him what he'd like for dinner and then we decided we'd trim the tree that night. Eventually we decided to start a new tradition: we'd break out the fondue pot we received for Christmas last year and make "trimming the tree night" "fondue night" as well in the P.O.W. household.

Because I am a sucker for Christmas, I immediately began imagining what this new tradition would mean to our family. The children would be enthralled by the beauty of the tree, quietly sitting in wonder as Lance and I carefully placed ornaments on just the right spot, pausing occasionally to toast each other with champagne. I'd buy hot cider for the kids, so they could join in the toasting. Then we'd eat fondue by the light of the tree, the kids loving the whole dipping phenomenon, while Lance and I stared adoringly into each other's eyes. Once we'd read a nice Christmas story and put the wee ones to bed, Lance and I would enjoy the rest of the champagne and perhaps christen the tree in another way.

So, with this plan in mind, I set off for the grocery store yesterday morning. My children are allergic to dairy, which makes most (cheese) fondue out of the question, and I wasn't thrilled with the thought of a fondue pot filled with hot oil should we try a meat fondue. I bought champagne, the fruit and pound cake and chocolate for the dessert fondue and then racked my brain for a main course that the whole family could enjoy. What did I come up with? Well--red sauce, of course. It's one of the few things Vivian will eat, after all. I purchased marinara sauce, rigatoni, a bagette, broccoli, new potatoes, mini mozzarella balls (for Lance and I) and basil.

Once home, there were the groceries to put away, the laundry to do, lunch to fix, administer and clean up. Once I finally got the kids down for naps, I set about getting ready for our Christmas tree trimming tradition. I cut up the fruit. I made garlic bread. I cooked pasta. I wrapped basil around the mozzarella balls. I blanched the broccoli and roasted the potatoes. By the time I finished the laundry the kids were up.

Now I began pumping up the evening for the kids, explaining how Daddy was going to come home and we would put pretty lights on the tree and have chocolate and oh, what fun it would be!

(You can see where this is going, I know that.)

So. Lance came home. It took almost an hour to get the lights on the tree, and neither child could have cared less. They both wanted to play with Daddy, now! And why can't I play with the lights? Why can't I unplug them? What is this ladder, can I climb on it? For an hour I ran interference with them while Lance cursed at the tree, but finally! We got it lit! And it looked lovely, really.

DSC02371 DSC02380

Now was the time for ornaments, so I handed each child a small unbreakable one. Isaac wanted the one Vivian had. Vivian didn't want to give it up. Before I could intervene, the ornament (some sort of Elmo with a cowboy hat) had, in fact, broken in half, which caused both children to cry and Lance to yell sharply. Time for a beverage break! I brought out the warm cider for the kids and wine for Lance and I. (We had an open bottle in the fridge, so it seemed silly to open the champagne.) The cider was too hot. Vivian didn't like it. Isaac wanted to drink his out of a regular cup, not a sippy cup. Before we had a chance to sip our wine, much less toast each other, Vivian was into the ornament box, stepping on the gold balls.

"Well", I said. Let's just skip trimming the tree and go straight to fondue. (Here is where you say, I told you so! Because surely when I mentioned fondue up there you thought: her kids are too little for fondue, that's going to be a disaster.) But I was determined. We were starting a new tradition, see.

So. The fondue pot is hot, the fondue sticks are sharp and difficult for an almost 3 year old to handle. Of course Vivian is much too small to even attempt it--I just made her a plate of pasta with red sauce (you know, her favorite meal) but, because her brother got to dip his pasta into the pot, she of course insisted loudly and constantly that she should get to do that, too! Lance and I did not have time to eat more than a few toothpicks worth of dipped mozzarella/basil balls, so busy were we trying to placate Vivian and ensure Isaac didn't burn down the whole house.
Once the red sauce had covered all surfaces, we decided to retire to the "kids table" for the chocolate fondue. This worked slightly better, as I just put the melted chocolate in a bowl and dipped the kids' fruit for them. They were quite pleased with their chocolate-y strawberries, and had Lance and I not been so frazzled at that point, we might have enjoyed the moment as well.

It is actually quite a shame that we did not enjoy that moment, since immediately following the consumption of chocolate, both children morphed into raging lunatics. They spent the next twenty minutes running through the house, screaming "GREASY GREASY GREASY" at each other and cackling wildly. I have no idea why, but they both thought it was hilarious. We finally got them calmed down enough to stay in the playroom, threatening them with immediate bedtime if either one came out.

Then Lance and I set about decorating the tree. Here we actually did have a few minutes to sip our wine--although it never occurred to either one of us to toast each other. We got the ornaments up without incident and even managed a quick kiss, and then it was time to wrastle the monkeys into bed. Which took FOREVER.

Finally, finally, the kids were asleep, the tree was trimmed, the fondue was congealing nicely in the pot. The playroom, the kitchen, the dining table were all disaster areas. The floor was littered with ornament boxes and remnants from last year's tinsel. I had red sauce on my shirt and chocolate in my hair. Lance and I bickered as we cleaned it all up.

But, before we retired to bed (no christening of the tree, not yet), we managed to commiserate a minute. We held each other as we looked at the pretty lights in the tree, we giggled a little at the occasional muffled "GREASY" still emanating from Isaac's bedroom, we sighed and declared the night a success.

Friday, December 02, 2005

"I don't talk about myself much, and it's hard to get to know me."*

There's been some discussion** lately about blogs and privacy. I know that some people use their blog as a form of entertainment. Some people use it as a record of their life. Some people use it to work through feelings, or to find a community of like-minded friends.

Obviously, I don't worry too much about privacy. (Also obviously, I don't worry too much about being entertaining.) I find it a little strange that I am so open here about my personal life, since in the "real world" I am quite reserved, and rarely speak much about my own problems. I rarely feel confident enough socially to talk about myself, and so I spend much of that time listening or asking questions. Yet I don't have any qualms about what I write here, even though it is a totally public forum. I've been trying to figure out why that is, but I haven't come up with much.

The only easy answer I came up with is that my family doesn't know about this blog. I certainly wouldn't be spilling any secrets about my marriage, or my irritation with the kids, or other things, if my mom was a daily reader. Lance has the URL, but he doesn't read it (he says he respects it as something that is my space and he doesn't want to interfere).

There's also the fact that this is a little tiny blog, and I don't imagine many people--other than you, my loyal and patient readers--would bother taking the time to read it. It feels safe in that way--there doesn't seem to be any danger, in my mind, that someone I know would unknowingly stumble upon it. Since it is such a small place, I have never gotten a nasty comment, or cruel e-mail, and that adds to my feeling of safety.

Also, with the exception of Thing One and Thing Two, and the occasional swipe at one of my family members, I don't really write about other people. I mostly write about me, and the kids.

There are people I know in "real life" who read this blog, and maybe some of them don't really want to read about my sex life. But at the same time, these are dear friends of mine, and I am not embarrassed to have them know what's going on in my life, in my head, in my bed. If acquaintances were reading this blog, that might be different. In fact, there is the very real possibility that some acquaintances are reading this blog (Lance handed out the URL to some friends), but I am choosing to ignore that fact, and hoping that if I meet said acquaintances in person, they will know better than to ask if Lance and I finally shagged.

I use this blog in a completely selfish manner. I use it to work out feelings I am having about my marriage, about my kids, about the world. I use it to exercise my brain. I use it as a social network. It is the one place I have that is completely my own, where I do not have to consider anyone else's needs, or wants, or desires before my own. Maybe that's why I'm so open. This is about me, and for me, and it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks about it.

I don't mean to say that I don't care what you guys think. The friends I have met through blogging are extremely important to me. I guess I just feel safe enough with all of you--I know that whether or not you agree with me, you will be supportive--or at the very least, just not comment on a post that annoys you. So thank you. Thank you for allowing me this space to talk about myself and put myself out there without fear.

*This quote shamelessly lifted from Grey's Anatomy.
** I do not know how to link to a specific post when people only have archives up by month, rather than listing previous posts by title. So this link doesn't go to the right post. You have to scroll down a few posts to find it.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Love and Basketball

Tuesday night, this happened. I know that this is a "rebuilding" year, I know that we lost everybody, including 95% of our scorers, that I should be grateful we are NATIONAL CHAMPIONS, that I should feel lucky that we only got edged out by Illinois, rather than being swept off the court--but I don't. I feel depressed, and it doesn't help at all that these assholes won last night, after almost blowing it to a team I've come to appreciate ever since Bobby Knight left the building.

So I'm depressed because of that, and because I'm not pregnant*, and because Lance and I are in the midst of a lull, or a rut, or a something, and it's not a pleasant place to be. We can't seem to communicate without snapping at each other, without getting defensive or losing our sense of humor. So we don't communicate at all. We feed and bathe the kids, we eat our dinner in silence, we retire to our respective televisions, we go to bed.

But now I'm making it sound worse than it is, because we are not angry with each other, not all the time. We're just not connecting, on any level (if you know what I mean). In the midst everything, we still laugh at the funny things Isaac says, smile when Vivian learns a new word, roll our eyes at the latest infraction from Thing One. We still say I love you and kiss each other before bed, before leaving for the day.

Then Lance makes a comment that I take personally, and I react defensively, and he gets frustrated, and I get mad. We haven't been able to enjoy each other in I don't remember how long. Yes, we enjoy the kids together. Yes, I still look across the room at him and feel blessed and lucky to have him in my life. Yes, I know that I love him, and I know that he loves me. We just feel oceans away from each other, and attempts to bridge the gap end in a fight.

Why? Has it become a habit for me, to be annoyed with him? Am I so tired of being a giver all day long with Isaac and Vivian that I have nothing left when he comes home from work? There is a part of me that feels a slight, but constant, resentment of him. I'm sure this stems from my own insecurity about being a stay-at-home-mom. The minute I feel un-appreciated, or taken for granted, my armor goes up, and the claws come out. Then, when he is not around, I remember all the reasons I love him, I realize how fortunate I am to be able to stay at home, I recognize that I should appreciate him more. But when he comes home, the resentment just pops up again. Why do I insist on holding onto this anger?

We are working on this, but it's difficult, slow going. We have designated Wednesday nights as "date night". Not that we go out, but that we make an effort to turn off the television and talk about things that are bothering us. We made a rule that we would consummate the conversation, so to speak, every Wednesday, no matter what, in an effort to feel more connected. Last night, the conversation quickly turned to argument, and no consummation occurred. (Is this wrong? To divulge such personal information on the inter-webs, for all the world to see and judge? Shouldn't I feel more obliged to keep this to myself?) We didn't go to bed angry, but we didn't resolve anything either.

Tonight we are going, as a family, to pick out the Christmas tree. This is a chore that usually brings me much joy, and I'm hoping it does the trick tonight. Family times are still fun times, and maybe the good cheer will last once we get the tree inside.

But Lance's team sucks this year, too--so it's not just me.

*I should note here that if I was pregnant, that would also be cause for depression. No, I have yet to get my period, but I did get a negative pregnancy test. And Lance's joke about me possibly "drying up"? Not helpful.