Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Wondering . . .

1. Why Vivian has awoken (waked? woken up?), crying, at 5:15am for the last 4 mornings, only to fall back asleep as soon as her cries have disturbed every other sleeping person in the house, especially Isaac, who does not seem to understand the phrase "go back to sleep", insisting instead that it means, "talk loudly and demand television, milk, toys, etc. until my parents lose their mind".

2. Why, even on the mornings Vivian does not wake up, Isaac insists on rising by 6:15, with no chance of returning to sleep. And why his sleeping habits from the day before (nap or no nap; early bedtime or late bedtime) have no bearing on this.

3. When Isaac will understand that saying "Mommy, I peed!" after pissing his underpants for the millionth time in an hour is not the same thing as saying "Mommy, I need to pee!" before pissing said underpants. Also, will he be twelve before we achieve the magic of pooping on the potty?

4. Why all of our bath towels get little bleached out stains on them within moments of purchase. Could it be the shampoo? Face cleaner? Whitening toothpaste? Bathroom cleaner? Some creature (paid by Bed, Bath and Beyond, no doubt) living in my house that is trying to systematically drive me mad, while at the same time clean out my checking account?

5. Why our 500 thread count, expensive, DKNY sheets are completely pilled less than 6 months after purchase.

6. How the hell I am going to manage the next 7 days, with Lance out of town, and the two children in cahoots, already plotting ways to drive me out of my fucking mind.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Party Planner was never on my list of possible careers, and you can see why

Isaac is going to be 3 in a few weeks, and already I am dreading the birthday party. My real issue is the location: our house is so small, and I have to invite all 13 kids from his class, plus their parents. I know they won't all show up, but if even half do, that's a dozen people and us. February 24th in Los Angeles can be sunny and 70 degrees, but it can also be raining, which means I'm not inclined to hold the party at a park (Lance's suggestion). Most of Isaac's little buddies have their parties at local indoor play areas, and these parties are always fun enough. However, I've looked into it, and pricing ranges from about $300-$450. That is just way too much money, in my (cheap) opinion. I mean, he's 3! What am I going to have to shell out for his 16th, at that rate?

I'm leaning towards holding the party at our home, and hoping that it doesn't rain, so the kids can at least play in the backyard. If it doesn't rain, I could set up a few tables in the back with play-doh and markers or finger paints. We could do a pinata, have pizza (cheese-less, for my two) and cake, and call it a day.

But that still leaves me with a big IF--if it doesn't rain. If it's raining, then I'll have a dozen kids running rampant in my tiny house with nothing to entertain them. Last year, on his birthday, it was a beautiful sunny day and we just had a few friends over to our little beach club. If the weather holds up this year, I should have no problem. The year before, it rained, and we had a lot of family and friends crowded indoors--but no other kids (he was only one, not big on the social scene yet). This made for a wet, and slightly uncomfortable party, but at least there were no crying children to make the house seem that much smaller.

I am also feeling a little internal pressure to make a bigger deal out of the birthday. Shouldn't I be hiring a clown? Or renting out Chuck E. Cheese? Leasing one of those bouncers for the day? Should I just bite the bullet and pay for a party at Child's Play? I don't have any inclination or desire to do this, but I wonder if I'm being a selfish parent by not offering as much.

There is a another possibility. I could hold the party at our little beach club--but not until after March 15th because it is closed for renovations. The beach club is a great place for a party--lots of sand toys already there, plenty of room to run around while the parents could congregate on the deck and watch. If I post-pone the party until late March, there's be a better chance that the weather would cooperate. Still not fail-safe, but the beach club does have a small indoor area where the kids could run around if it rained and locker rooms to play hide and seek in, and the bigger bonus is that it's not my house. February is very busy for us--Lance is gone for two weeks of the month--so it would make my life easier to do it in March. However, post-poning the party seems a little bit like cheating to me.

Now I've thought of another solution: what if I skip the party, and just take him and one of his friends to Chuck E. Cheese? He's never been there, so it would be special. We could have a small family party with cake and presents on the actual day and then go to Chuck E. Cheese on the weekend. Is that laming out?

What do you, my loyal and faithful--and much more sensible than me!--readers think of this little conundrum? What did you do for your wee ones' 3rd birthday parties?

Opinions, please.


The women rule. And dook sucks, as always.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Blood is thicker than water

Ha! I just found out that James Frey is my second cousin. Now, granted, I've never met him or heard of him, but there is blood relation there. His grandmother and my grandmother are sisters. It's on my dad's side of the family, where good familial relationships go to die.

I guess my defense of him was just those blood ties coming through.

Or possibly ignorance, since the more you guys tell me, and the more I hear, it seems that he is a pathetic liar.

Oh, god. And he's related to me.

Friday, January 27, 2006

If Anarchy is next, I am part of the problem

Gah. That last post was so over the top self-important and self-absorbed, I thought I'd try something a little different.

What is your opinion of the James Frey brou-ha ha?

I have not read the book, and I have not even followed the news reports very closely, so I'm not really qualified to make an opinion, but having said that, my opinion is pretty blase. I just can't seem to care that much of his memoir is exaggerated.

If I read a book, and I like it--if it speaks to me, or entertains me, or inspires me, or teaches me, then that's good enough. I don't care if it is absolutely true, unless I'm reading some sort of history book, or biography. Even then, unless I'm writing a report, or have some other reason for needing absolute facts, if I'm interested and entertained, who cares? I've always considered the memoir to be almost fiction anyway: it's not as if the author can remember exactly how the conversations went, 10 years ago, after all.

But apparently I am in the minority with this view. Apparently it is more evidence of our failing society that a person can write an untruthful memoir and people won't care. The truth is all that matters, people, even in entertainment. (Oh, wait, but not in TV mini-series. Or movie biographies.) Apparently if you read a memoir that speaks to you, the same version in a novel will not do the same.

I am now asking for honest opinions. Why does it matter so much that some of his memoir is exaggerated? Aren't all memoirs exaggerated to some extent? Or is his book entirely fabricated? (From what I read, only a few parts were.) Does the book mean more to you if it is a memoir then if it is a novel? And if so, why?

Should I be publicly flogged and berated for this lack of integrity?

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Broken (?)

(Note: the following dis-jointed post is what happens when you get out of the habit of blogging. I would love to claim that my next post will make more sense, but it wouldn't be true, and you probably wouldn't believe it, anyway.)

Isaac has never been an overly cautious or sensitive child. He skipped entirely the "separation anxiety" phase of baby-hood, and even as a barely two-year old, didn't miss a beat when I sent him to pre-school. His personality, up to now, has been characterized with zero impulse control, definite opinions, and high levels of activity. He has always known the rules, but followed them arbitrarily. It's not that he didn't want to be good, or that he disregarded my standards, but more that he couldn't remember the rule at the time, or that he wanted what he wanted so badly, he was willing to take a punishment for it. He rarely sits still, and gets excited easily. But he's always been an exceptionally happy child, looking forward to new experiences, never stopping much to ponder but instead running full tilt into what's next.

Over Christmas, that boy disappeared. Okay, I'm being dramatic. He didn't disappear altogether, and it hasn't happened quite that suddenly. But it is true that my happy little fire-cracker has suddenly become more thoughtful. He seems to understand, now, that other people might not be nice to him. A year ago, if my friend Susanna told him to share a toy, he wouldn't have given it a second thought. This year, he gets embarrassed. He is afraid of the street, afraid of the stove, afraid of many things that didn't mean a thing to him a short while ago. Not terribly afraid, mind you, just afraid enough to stay away.

This is making my job as a parent a lot easier. If I explain to him that when he pushes the alarm button on the elevator, the elevator repairman will come and ask him what happened, he no longer pushes the button. When we get to a parking lot or a street, he automatically reaches for my hand, with no complaint. I no longer worry if I leave him unattended--I know he's not going to drink a foreign substance, or play with matches. If I call his name, he will answer, even if he's busy playing with his sister. When I ask him nicely to share a toy with a new friend, he does this with almost no complaint, and even, on occasion, shares without being prompted. He says please and thank-you without reminding. He will stop whining immediately upon being reminded that I don't respond to it.

I think part of it is age: he actually can understand things better now. He understands that there is danger in the world, that things can hurt him, and that when I tell him to leave the outlets alone, there is a reason. He has been around long enough now to recognize a street, and he knows that he won't get across it without holding a hand. He recognizes that when he shares his toys with his sister, before I have to remind him to, then he gets to pick the toy he wants to give up, instead of me.

How great for me, then, right? I can feel proud of the little boy he is becoming, I can pat myself on the back for good parenting of a toddler. Except I don't really feel that way. Instead I feel this little pit of anxiety in my belly: have I "broken his spirit" already? Have I focused too much on the dangerous parts of life, have I insisted on politeness too much, have I destroyed his full-tilt, no-holds barred personality?

Although I have complained about it enough, I actually really love Isaac's exuberance. I am a pretty restrained, low-risk kind of person, and I appreciate anyone who has the confidence to be more than that. I loved how happy he was in new situations, how nothing seemed to scare him, how thrilled he was to meet new people and try new things. To a large degree, he is still like this, true, but I see it flitting away, and that scares me.

I blame a lot of my reticence on my dad's parenting skills. He was incredibly strict with us, and we were afraid of him until college. Fear of failure is huge for me and my sister, because he always expected so much, and was so disappointed if we didn't deliver. Even if we did deliver, even if we got a bunch of As and one B+, he'd always be quick to say something like "And that B+ in history, I bet you could get an A next semester."

I don't want Isaac to be afraid of life. I don't want him to be afraid to try. I don't want him to worry about what other people think of him.

There is something else, too: his health. He is fine, healthy, thriving little boy, and his prognosis is great. Still, it will be something he needs to deal with-- not right now, but soon, and for the rest of his life. I don't want his health to make him feel different, to make him feel small, or unimportant, or bitter.

My brother-in-law, who, as you all know, is a complete and utter crazy asshole, has health problems. He was diagnosed with Crohn's disease when he was twelve, and it's my belief that said health problem has everything to do with the person he is now. He is bitter and angry that his brothers did not get the disease, and he did. He is selfish and incompetent, because his parents babied him from the day of his diagnosis until today, to the extent that he has never had to do anything for himself. On some level, he doubts that he has that ability.

I don't want that kind of life for Isaac. (Obviously.) I know that I can learn from my in-laws, and I can treat Isaac differently. I can get us family counseling, I can get Isaac whatever help he needs or wants, even if he doesn't want it.

But when I see his personality changing like this, when I see him becoming more cautious, I catch my breath. I don't want to be the reason that life stops being so exciting to him.

Every day at pre-school, right before the kids get out, the teacher gives each one a sticker on their hand. Except that Isaac has always insisted that the teacher puts his sticker on his shirt. Today, when I picked him up, the sticker was on his hand, just like all the other kids.

What do you think? Is this kind of personality change typical for an almost 3 year old? Or have I been too hard on him--and if, so, how do I fix that?

I'm back, but I'm not coherent

We are finally home again. It feels so nice to sleep in my own bed, even though the bed at my parents' house is much more comfortable, even though the bathroom at my parents' house was for my use alone, even though my parents' house has working heat, and a stocked refridgerator, and a basement full of toys, and nearby cousins to act as babysitters.

It is 70 degrees and sunny outside right now, and for that I am grateful.

I have much I'd like to blog about, especially Isaac's recent personality change, along with Vivian's entering the terrible twos, but still, I am busy.

I missed you all while I was away: I didn't have time to do much more than lurk occasionally on your blogs, and of course I didn't have a chance to post much, which meant my daily self-esteem boost of friendly comments was lost.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Potty humor

I'm still in Delaware, counting the minutes until we can get back to California, where the temperature is reasonable. I don't have much time to post here, but I did want to note that Isaac, up until a few days ago, has been a complete dream since we arrived. After behaving much like a rabid dog for the months leading up to Christmas, he morphed into a sweet, thoughtful, polite, happy, perfect child the moment we got on the plane headed to Philadelphia. I am very grateful for that, so here's a little glimpse of him for your enjoyment.

(For full effect, be sure to pronounce the r's like Isaac does, with a thick Boston accent.)

Scene: The kitchen, just before dinnertime.

Isaac: "I smell something! I smell a fart, Mommy!"

Me: "Whew, Isaac! I smell something, too. Did you poop?"

Isaac: "No, I didn't poop, Mommy! That's just a fart."

Me: "Are you sure?"

Isaac: "No poop! Just farts!"

Me: "What do we say if we fart?"

Isaac: "Thank you, fart."

Me (giggling): "Or, 'Excuse me'".

Thursday, January 12, 2006

One and a half

Dear Vivian—

You turned 18 months on the 18th of December. Today is the 11th of January, true, but give me a break, child: it’s been a busy few weeks. Since the day you turned one and a half, you have learned approximately eighty gazillion new words. You now talk in practically complete sentences, and understand everything I say to you, with the possible exception of “Eat your broccoli, it tastes good.” Methinks you do understand that, but choose not to believe it.

Indeed, you are far more cynical than your brother ever was—or is, to this day. You are not fooled by a kiss on your bruised finger—you want retribution from your brother, and you want it now. When you are tired, you want to go to sleep—in a bed of some sort, not my lap, not held in my arms to say goodnight to all the guests. Do not attempt to feed you a piece of vegetable disguised in your tacos, do not put a slice of tomato on in your sandwich: you simply pull it out of your mouth immediately, and hand it back to me.


Vivian, you have been walking now for over a month, and that, combined with the talking, has turned you instantly from growing baby to toddler. I don’t have a baby anymore! For the first time in 3 years, I have no baby on my hip. Yes, you still reside on my hip from time to time, but mostly you are walking now, faster and faster, after your brother, away from me.

Still you are cautious: no running willy nilly down the flights of stairs at Grandy’s house, not like Isaac did last year. Instead you stand at the top, calling, “Mommy! Mommy! Help! Help! Downstairs!” until I come to pick you up and carry you down. This makes things quite a bit easier for me, since I don’t have to worry about finding you in a heap of broken bones at the foot of the stairs, and can read the incredibly poorly written Wilmington News Journal in relative piece while you and your brother wreak havoc in other areas of the house.


There are so many new things about you since the last time I wrote, 6 months ago. Of course the walking and the talking are new, but so is your personality. At one you were still an easy little thing, happily and quietly sitting still, taking in your surroundings. Now you are slowly morphing into a child with opinions, screaming “Let go!” at your brother when he tries to snatch a toy from your grasp, or “My turn! Vivi turn!”when you want a go at the bike. You appear to be learning some tricks from your brother, too: suddenly you have developed an independent streak. “No!” you say definitively, yanking your head away, if I dare try to spoon feed you some applesauce. Instead you insist “I dood it!”, until I wearily hand you the spoon to watch you cover all surfaces with goo. Although, as with everything these days, you do improve dramatically everyday. This morning after breakfast, there was but a smidgen of soy yogurt on your pajamas when I took off your bib.

You have also, at the tender age of one and a half, learned the “why?” trick from your brother. “Let’s put on your jacket”, I say as we head out into the Delaware frigid air, to which you reply, in your Cindy Lou-Who voice, “Why?” Or “Why Mommy, why?” Definitely sweet in small doses, but constantly? I can think of sweeter things for you to say.

Other things your brother has taught you to say: “Go Away!” ;“I want it!”; “Don’t do that!” I am un-impressed with his teaching abilities, as you might guess.

For a few months now, you have taken to backing into the sitting position in my lap. So you grab a book, totter over to me, and then turn around and back up a few steps before plopping into me. How can there be anything cuter, I ask you. How?


You have adjusted, like a champ, to your new surroundings in Delaware. I’m not sure what you believe—are Grandy and Grandad your new parents? Is this large comfortable house your new abode? (Sorry, kid—we will be heading back to the hovel in L.A. sooner or later). Is Daddy gone forever? Why is my room different? Where are my toys? Despite all these changes, you remain a happy go lucky little munchkin—perhaps in your time-frame only one day has gone by, not seventeen. Whatever the reason, I do appreciate your flexibility, and your friendliness. There have been thousands of new people holding you these last two weeks, and you bear them all bravely, only occasionally hiding your face in my sweater—but even then, you generally lead with a giggle or a smile, so as to be flirting, rather than rude. Your father’s daughter, for sure.

But! Here is some news! Suddenly people tell me that you resemble me! You—you look like me, apparently. I think it is your hair, since you seem to get blonder and blonder with each passing day. As a baby you had very dark, almost black hair, and you do have your Daddy’s round head—but now. Now, my little blondie, now I can claim you, too.

Have I mentioned the singing? You sing now—the alphabet song, Frere Jacques, The Farmer in the Dell. Thing is, you’re just not clear on all the words, and—like your brother, you are often quite off-key. So it can be very difficult to understand which song it is that you are singing, until you get to the “Quack Quack here! Quack Quack dere!” part.

MMM, candy canes.

For months, your favorite activity is any game that involves you being held upside down. You really enjoy the sensation of your head being inverted to the ground, and this gives me pause: how does this bode for your teenage years? Will they still be doing "whip its" then? Your giggle is enough to rush those thoughts out of my mind, however. I will do anything to hear you laugh, and you know it.

You have learned to say Isaac’s name correctly, now pronouncing even the hard C at the end. This is quite cute, and also impressive: I don’t think Isaac said his own name until he was older than two. What a smart, smart girl! However, screaming “Isaac! Isaac!” when you wake up in the middle of the night, followed by “Sleeping! Isaac sleeping!” is perhaps not the best use of this talent.

As seems to be the rule for the winter months, no matter which side of the county we reside, you have spent the past two weeks sick. First diarrhea, then a cold. Apparently this is affecting your sleeping habits, because for two mornings in a row you’ve been up by 5:30. True, your brother is up at 6, only 30 minutes later, but I really cherish those 30 minutes, so if you could just ignore the snot clogging up your nostrils until then, I’d appreciate it.

Although, as you well know, no matter what time you wake up, I remain completely taken with you. You melt my heart a thousand different times a day. Every new feat you accomplish, every new word, every bigger step you conquer--everything you do makes a light flash on in center of my soul, a light that shines out through every pore in my body, that warms my bones, that lightens my spirit. Thank you for being my daughter. Thank you for being Isaac’s sister. Thank you for you.


Monday, January 09, 2006

What I did over Christmas Vacation, by Isaac

First Mom and Dad ran around like crazy on the morning after Christmas, packing up all the warm clothes we own. Then we went to the airport and waited in line for a long time. Mom got me a hamburger and french fries and let me have a sip of her soda. Once we got on the airplane I had to sit in my carseat, but Vivian got to sit on Mommy's lap. I took a nice nap, and Mommy and Daddy said I was a really good boy. Vivi was a good girl, too.

When we finally got to Delaware, Grandy and Grandad were there. They have lots of new toys at their house. It was really cold, but Daddy gave me some gloves to wear. He said last year I wouldn't wear them, but this year I know that my hands will be cold if I don't. Daddy says I'm much smarter this year.


I have cousins named Sawyer and Kitchel, and they live in Delaware too. They come over and play with me a lot. In Delaware they have basements, downstairs, and it's really fun to play with the toys there.

Grandy and Grandad were really glad to see us. They said we grew a lot since we went to Hawaii.

One day a bunch of kids came over. Mom said they were my second cousins.

Then, another day, Daddy's brother Mark and his wife (the good ones) came and stayed with us. They live in Virginia but drove up to Delaware just to see us. I think they are really nice people. Maybe they can switch houses with my daddy's other brother.

Daddy had to go back to California to watch the Rose Bowl. Mommy and I rooted for the Trojans, but they didn't win. Daddy was too sad on the phone to talk to me.


Mommy has a friend named Susanna who lives in Delaware and she has a baby in her tummy. I tried to see the baby but I couldn't. Susanna said she would send me a picture of the baby when it comes out of her tummy. How does that baby come out of there? Susanna has a little girl named Stella who just turned three. Stella is hot! I think I love her.


Mommy and Daddy leave us with babysitters a lot in Delaware. Once they went with Uncle Chip, Leigh, Uncle Ed and Annie to New York City. They even rode the subway and a nice man took their photo. Daddy says we have subways in L.A., too, but I don't believe him.


They saw Chicago, and met Huey Lewis after the show. My great-aunt dated him a long long time ago, so we are practically related. Mommy said she and Ed were the only ones brave enough to get a photo.


Mommy and Daddy went out for sushi one night and left us with a babysitter too. Daddy couldn't believe they had sushi in Delaware! Even Grandy and Grandad went and ate some raw fish. I don't think I like sushi.


I really miss my Daddy. I told Mommy it was time to go back to California. She said she misses Daddy too, but he has to work hard to make money so we can eat.

Well, that's all so far. I'd tell you more but Mommy is making me take a nap. She doesn't like to wake up before 6am, but I do.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


I am here, in Delaware, on my Dad's home computer, DYING--dying, I tell you!--to regale you all with tales of the last 10 days of my life, but I am afraid. My dad is very non-computer savvy, so I don't think he would be able to check the google drop down bar to see where I've been, but I can't be quite sure.

I just can't stand having that hideous post about Brad up at the top for one minute longer, so it's worth the risk.

The worst sadness of all is that I can't check in with all of you. What the hell am I supposed to do during nap-time? There's not even any CSI episodes TiVo'd for me to watch!

Please, stop doing or writing anything funny or interesting until I can get to a friend's house to read you. I mean it!

I may post a few pictures of our trip so far, if I am brave enough to stay on this page for much longer. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!!