Monday, December 29, 2008

The Velveteen Doggy

Seesa has a pink stuffed dog, named "Soggy Doggy". Grammy gave it to her when she was born. He is just a simple toy from a drug store, but the story her Daddy tells Seesa is that Grammy found him in the woods and brought him home for her.

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Soggy" got his name because Seesa would gnaw on his ears and tail when she was a baby, so he was always wet and soggy.

"Does it hurt?" asked the rabbit. "Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

From the time Seesa was a baby, she has not gone to sleep without Soggy Doggy. She carries him around everywhere, sharing her every moment with him. Even today at 5 years old, wherever she is, generally so is Soggy.

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?" "It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept."

This Christmas, Seesa asked for another Soggy Doggy. Not a replacement, mind you. Just another one. I thought about trying to repair her Soggy by adding some stuffing to his limp body and dying his now grayish fur to a shade closer to it's original pink color. Then one night, my husband deciphered the toy maker from Soggy's very faded tag, and he miraculously found the exact stuffed dog on ebay. In keeping with the story of Soggy's emergence, my husband and Seesa took a little hike in the hills behind our house, where they "found" the new Soggy Doggy.

The beautiful thing is, Seesa has not tossed the old Soggy Doggy to the wayside. Quite the contrary. She now totes both of them around everywhere. The two Soggies even "play" with each other. The other night, we went out to dinner and Seesa asked me if she could take the Soggies in to the restaurant with her. I told her I thought she should leave them in the car, and she said,

"But Mom, new Soggy hasn't seen the world yet!".

When I compare the old Soggy Doggy to the new Soggy Doggy, it's apparent to me just how real Soggy has become.
It is also apparent to me, that I am learning from my five year old, just what it means to be real.

"Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

Friday, December 26, 2008

Twas the day after Christmas

...when all through the house, not a gift left unwrapped, every toy was espoused.

The stockings still hung by the chimney with care, look sort of barren with no gifts in there.

The children contented with all of their load, tummies so full of candy canes, they might just explode.

And Daddy in his slippers and I in my sweats, sit exhausted on the couch, the clean up we fret...

Before and After

Here are some fun scenes from our holiday festivities. Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, how ever you celebrated, and who ever you celebrated with.

Checking out Santa's route on Christmas Eve with cousins Em and AJ.

Leaving milk and cookies out for Santa and carrots for Rudolf.

Milly and Seesa eating candy canes on Christmas morning.

Milly taking a nap with Grammy (who fell and broke her nose doing last minute shopping on Christmas Eve...tough crowds...)

The Daddys reading a bedtime story to the girls on Christmas.

...and to all a Good Night!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

C is for...

I saw this fun meme on Melissa's blog, Taking What is Left, where you list ten things you love that start with a certain letter, so I asked her to assign me a letter. She chose "C", because she was eating a cookie. Shoot, that was going to be one of my favorite things that start with C.

Ok, so here are 10 other things that I love that start with C:

1. Christmas. Come on. You know that had to be #1. It's Christmas Eve for goodness sake. I love Christmas. Not as much as I love Halloween, but it's a very close second. I think I love Christmas eve even better than Christmas day. The getting together with family for a nice dinner. The Christmas lights. The tree filled with decorations and beautifully wrapped presents underneath. Making cookies and leaving them out for Santa. Watching the kid's anticipation of what the next morning will bring. For me, it's one of those times where the journey is even better than the destination.

2. Curry. Every Christmas day, we go over to my sister's house. Her husband and his family make the yummiest Indian food for Christmas dinner. We call it Curry Christmas. All the cousins play together while the smell of wonderful Indian spices simmer in the air.

3. California. I love living in California. I could spend my life just exploring California's natural beauty. The beaches, the mountains, the desserts. Almost any climate you are looking for, you can find it somewhere in California.

4. Camping. One of my favorite things to do in camping! I adore camping. Getting out in the wilderness. Pitching a tent (although now that we have kids, we have a small RV for our outdoor adventures). Taking hikes. Roasting marshmallows on the campfire. Getting dirty and not worrying about it. Staying up late and talking or just staring at the stars.

5. Cabins. We usually take a trip to the snow every year, and stay in a cabin. I love a good, sort of rustic cabin, preferably decorated with campy looking pictures depicting bears or moose. There is nothing better than a sitting in a warm cabin, in front of a roaring fire, sipping hot cocoa and watching the snow fall.

6. Cable Cars. I think it's so cool that they still have cable cars traversing the hills of San Francisco. Except when I'm driving up California Street trying to get somewhere, and I'm stuck behind one. I don't love them then.

7. Cafes. I don't really drink coffee, but I love the smell of it. There's something comforting about sitting in a cafe, drinking a hot beverage and reading a paper or chatting with a friend. This is a very rare occurrence, so when it happens, it's even more special.

8. Hot Cocoa. My hot beverage of choice is a hot cocoa. Peet's is my favorite. Especially around the holidays when they serve their Peppermint Hot Cocoa. Warms the soul.

9. Calendars. That one sounds weird. Who loves calendars? I like making a photo calendar every year, using pictures from every month of the prior year. I love reminiscing every time I turn the calendar to the next month, thinking about what we were doing that same month the prior year. It also reminds me of how fast the kids are growing, and how precious time is.

10. Calm. This seems to be in short supply in my life these days. The craziness of life usually has me spinning around in circles. That is one of the reasons that I love blogging. It's a way to find calm in my life. Writing and reading other's blogs brings me calm, and laughter, and somehow, understanding.

When I first started writing this meme, I didn't think I was going to be able to think of ten things that I loved that started with C. It turns out, I had to par down the list, because I thought of way more than ten. This ended up kind of being my Thankful Thursday reflection for this week.

If you are interested in doing this meme too, just leave me a comment and I'll assign you a letter!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Like Going Home

Before moving to the Bay Area, we lived in Sacramento. I went to college there. That's where I met my husband. We were married there. Bought our first home there. Had our first "child", a Golden Retriever dog named "Chester". My life in Sacramento brought me some of the most amazing moments of happiness, as well as moments of some of the deepest sorrow of my life. I found myself there. We loved that town.

There were a lot of reasons that we ultimately decided to move to the Bay Area. One of the reasons was the climate. Sacramento is HOT during the summers. One of the reasons was to be closer to our families, as we were going to be starting our own family. Of real kids. Not dogs.

I really haven't gone back all that often, even though I still have very close friends who still live in the Sacramento area. After we had kids, there just never seemed to be enough time. I used to go up regularly and visit a group of my friends that all had kids around the same time as I did. We'd get together with all of our kids, but the more kids we added to the mix, the more complicated it was to coordinate a time to get together.

So when I went up to Sacramento recently for dinner with two of my very close friends, D and R, it was a real treat. I drove up with one of my good friends from work, SJ, who is also friends with D and R. We took off of work early to beat traffic, hit the outlets on the way up (Santa's bringing me some nice items from Banana Republic!) and then met D and R for dinner.

We relived old times, caught up on the latest gossip and talked a bit about our lives now. But mostly, we laughed. And laughed. And laughed. If laughter is the best medicine, then I should be good for the rest of the cold and flu season.

As soon as I got off the freeway at that old familiar exit, passing Old Sacramento, where my husband and I were married, driving past the building that I worked in for so many was like going home. The memories of that town that I loved so much came flooding back to me.

I remembered the warm summer nights that were the reward of surviving the hot summer days. I remembered the vibrant colors of Fall on the tree lined streets. I remembered taking walks in our old neighborhood, and feeling so safe. I remembered the feeling of living in a "city" that felt like a small town. I remembered falling in love. I remembered my wonderful friends who left such deep impressions on my life.

I remembered the reason that I moved to Sacramento in the first place. I grew up in the Bay Area, but decided to stay in Sacramento after college to start my career, and my life, there. I wanted to be someplace new. Fresh. Without history of my childhood. Not that my childhood was at all bad, it's just that I wasn't sure I could develop my adulthood in the same place.

So for me, Sacramento was independence. It was coming into myself. It was mine. It was home. I think it always will be.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Losing my mind

I thought I was organized and ahead of the game this year. I had my tree up Thanksgiving weekend, my decorating was finished by the following weekend. We visited Santa, made cookies, watched the Nutcracker, ordered my Christmas cards... Then I remembered that I'm only fooling myself to think that I can be organized without writing down everything I need to accomplish. If I'd only done that, I probably would have saved myself from spending the last weekend before Christmas running all over town with all the other last minute shoppers.

I've never been naturally organized. I have to work at it. I tend to kind of live in the moment, and I really have to think about planning ahead. Something that is the complete opposite of my husband. That man has a filing system for everything. If anything ever happened to him, I would not be surprised to find a note somewhere obvious saying "if anything ever happens to me, here is where to find anything you will ever need...". He even surprises himself with his organizational skills. When I was hanging the stockings on the fireplace, I asked him where the little hooks were that we had used last year. He didn't remember. But knowing how good his organizational skills are, I decided to look in his tool chest. Bingo. There they were.

The director at my girls' preschool recently asked me if I'd serve on the Board of Directors as the Treasurer. Clearly, they are under the mistaken impression that because I work in Finance, I'd be up to the task. Ever hear the saying "the cobbler's family has no shoes"? Well, the financial professional's family has no budget. Needless to say, I'm going to have to turn down this volunteer opportunity, as much as it pains me to not be able to help out. I think it's better that I stick to volunteering for things on a one-off basis.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Look like a monk this Christmas

Be jealous, because I found it.

The perfect Christmas present.

It's the Snuggie! (You've got to watch the little video that plays when the page opens, at least to the part where the person slides on their "Snuggie".)

Because everyone knows there's nothing snugglier than a monk!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Happy Bloggy Holiday Card Exchange!

From our family to yours...

To see more bloggy holiday cards, click this link!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Shrinking Jeans update: be happy anyway

For those of you who haven't been keeping up with my blog religiously, what is wrong with you anyway! Just teasing, that's not my point. You may not know that I've been doing this weight loss challenge called Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans.

This week, I've been thinking about things that bring me comfort and joy, and are not food related. My kids. Family. Friends. Nature. Flannel sheets. Blogging. Raindrops on roses. Whiskers on kittens... Things that make me happy.

I read this great article about happiness on butwhymommy's blog. It was called Be Happy Anyway. It's basically about the fact that the things that make us the happiest, also cost no money at all. And about how the state of our economy might prompt us to focus on the aspects of our lives that research says contributes to real happiness - time with families and friends, civic involvement, exercise and creativity.

So, I wanted to share this with all of you.

Go forth, and be happy!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Survival Tactics

The Christmas surprises just keep coming... As I was getting the kids ready for bed last night, my husband casually says, "hey, you know the Survivor Finale is on tonight, right?". Excuse me? Tonight? I had no idea. And let me tell you, this news is like Christmas has come early for me!

Why do I love this show so much? Maybe it's because I like watching the psychological aspects of survival. With layoffs looming at my firm, I've decided that people at my firm are taking on one of the three most common survival tactics that I've seen people use in the game of Survivor, just before tribal council.
  • Shameless self promotion. People who make a point of telling everyone around them how valuable they are. In the game of Survivor, these are the people who provide fish for the tribe, collect fire wood, get water - and let everyone know how they would all be lost and starving without them. At work, these are the people who continually send emails to large distribution lists detailing the great job they did on XYZ project, eliciting kudos from management, when they were essentially just doing their job.

  • Deferring attention. People who throw everyone else under the bus, in order to defer attention from themselves. In Survivor, these people talk about their tribe mates behind their backs and take every opportunity to place blame on others. At work, pretty much the same thing.

  • Flying under the radar. People who try not to get noticed. In Survivor, if these people can get into the right alliance in the beginning of the game, they are golden. The alliance just drags them along as an extra vote and they've actually got a good shot if they can pull out all the stops once they make it to the final four or five. Even if these people don't get into an alliance, they can sometimes make it simply by not being thought of as a threat. They end up in the final few people, and everyone looks at each other and says, hey - soandso is still around? what the? At work, it's not all that different, except that the "alliance" usually involves kissing the right a$$. It's the same reaction though, when people figure out they still work there...
I guess that's why I really like watching the game of Survivor. Or maybe it's Jeff Probst. Yes, never mind all that other stuff. It's all about Jeff. Could he be any better at inciting verbal combat at tribal council? Could he be any cuter?

Hold on a minute. My husband just said something about a successor for Jeff. Hello? There can be no successor that lives up to the Survivor host prowess of Jeff Probst. Ok, wait a minute. He's suggesting Boston Rob and Amber, and that they could co-host. Ok, yes. Good idea.

So, I hope I make it through the tribal council of my firm. If I don't though, I really hope they say "the tribe has spoken" when they douse my flame.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

On the 12th day of Christmas, Ruby & Roja gave to me...

A beautiful new blog design!

This weekend, I've been working with Beth from Ruby and Roja on finalizing the new design for by blog. She was so wonderful to work with - the process was so fun, like getting a little present in my inbox with every email about the design.

Merry Christmas to me!

I'm tickled pink ;-) with my new look. Hope you like it too.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A few questions

I'm still kinda new to blogging, so I've got some questions.

# 1 If someone has me in their "reader", and I play around with a post, publishing it and then going back in and editing it numerous times so I can fix how the pictures are laying out, does that make my post show up again and again in that person's "reader"?

If the answer is yes, and this has happened to you...oops, sorry.

# 2 Is it helpful to put labels on my posts? Who uses these and when?

I'm more of a live-in-the-moment girl, than planning for the future - but I can see where at some point I may want to find something I've written, and just like my filing system at home, it will be pointless without labels of some kind.

# 3 If I make my blog cute by adding buttons using plays on the word "heart", because I'm a sucker for themes, and I easily amuse myself - will people not take me seriously as a blogger?

And should I really care considering I'm doing this for me?

# 4 How the heck does Twitter work? Do you have to add each person you want to tweet with individually by email address, or do you join groups or what? When you tweet, does everyone you've added see your message, including everyone within a group?

Before reading instructions, I always like to ask "experts" first. Saves me a lot of time.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thankful Thursday

Today, I am thankful for moments that bring back great memories.

My husband is in France right now for work. I know, poor him. He texted me from a restaurant where he is eating French Onion soup. All the sudden, I was transported back in time, to a trip we took to France. Way before we had kids, we went on a European vacation with another couple (my husband's best friend S and S's wife C) to Italy, Switzerland and France. It was so amazing and so much fun to be there with friends too.

We have so many memories from that trip. One of them was, on our first night in Paris, we had dinner at this restaurant very close to the Eiffel Tower. They had the best French Onion soup EVER! It was seriously so good, that we all had the soup for dessert too. And then we went back to the same restaurant for that soup the next night. And the next night. Quite the worldly travelers we were...going to the same place over and over again, when we were in Paris for God's sake!

After our fourth attempt at going back for dinner, the little place was closed that night. My husband and I were actually a little relieved. At that point, as good as the soup was, we were ready for something different. Our friend S, however, was not at all pleased. He had his heart set on that soup, and was then on a mission to find somewhere else in Paris that served French Onion soup. When S gets something in his head, there's no stopping him. That's probably one of the reasons he and my husband are such good friends. They have that in common...

No problem, right? It is France. Doesn't every restaurant serve French Onion soup? Apparently not. We walked all over Paris that night - laughing our head's off - looking for a place that had French Onion soup on the menu. The only place was this all seafood restaurant. Suffice to say, the soup there was not the caliber of the little place next to the Eiffel Tower.

My husband is sitting at that little place right at this very moment, eating that wonderful soup, and I can almost taste it myself. He says it's exactly the same.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Shrinking Jeans Update - two chickens plus two chickens

Week one, good.
Pounds lost, 2.
Attributed to, eating a good breakfast and being distracted from sweets.
Confronting emotional issues around food, still composing that post.

Having kids, food seems to always be in the forefront of my mind. What are we going to have for breakfast? What should I pack in their lunches? Do I have all the food groups covered for dinner? What do I have around that makes a healthy snack? Have they had too many sweets this week?

Dinner is usually the meal that presents the most challenge. What can I make that the kids won't totally balk? I'm not one for creating meals only the kids will like, or making the kids something different from what we are having. What's for dinner is what's for dinner. I've also been really lucky to have kids that are "good eaters", so I'm pretty confident that they're not going to starve when I say if you don't like it, then don't eat it. However, they can't have any kind of special treat unless they eat a good amount of the actual dinner.

Tonight, my friend Lish came over to visit me, and we were having dinner with the kids. Seesa wanted another piece of bread, but she hadn't eaten very much of her chicken. I told her she needed to eat two pieces of chicken before she had more bread.

She said, "But I already ate two pieces of chicken and now you want me to eat two more pieces of chicken and that's FOUR pieces of chicken!!!" Good math honey, now eat your chicken. This argument went on for a while, with Seesa going over and over the two pieces of chicken plus two more pieces of chicken, and how she did not want to eat four pieces of chicken.

My friend Lish had to leave the table because she was cracking up. Then she posted on her Facebook that she was adding two chickens plus two chickens.

The point of this little story? I often wonder how I'm forming my children's attitudes towards food.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Do not try this at home

Little tip for ya... if your department at work is having a pot luck get together because your firm isn't having a holiday party this year, and you decide to make a candy cane cake as your team's contribution, be sure that you've actually made said cake successfully at least once. Also, be sure that you don't make the cake while your husband is out of town on business travel, leaving you stuck at home with sleeping children, unable to run to the store for a plan B, after both of your attempts at making the cake result in disaster.


Attempt # 1
Angle food cake, whip cream frosting (what the hell was I thinking?) that is unable to hold up the weight of the crushed candy canes.

Attempt # 2
Angle food cake, frosting made with powdered sugar - not thick enough to stick to cake after addition of second round of crushed candy canes.

Try to contain your laughter.

Monday, December 8, 2008

A warning I will heed

I was in this boutique store this weekend, and saw the best sign ever.

It read:
Unattended children will be given an espresso and a puppy.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Welcome to the Holidays

It's official. The holidays are in full swing at our house.
Come on in. Have a cookie.

I finally finished putting up all my Christmas decorations - I knew it would take me at least a week, with the kids "helping". We spent the weekend making Christmas cookies, watching Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and scouting out Santa so we could get our requests in early! We even roasted marshmallows on the fire one night. Ok, so it wasn't chestnuts, but same idea. I was on a baking kick, so I tried out this great muffin recipe from my friend Devoted Mom to B's Luscious Life blog site. She was right, they are so yummy! I made them mini-sized, just so that I could fill my Santa cookie jar.
How about that quintessential Santa picture? I've been pretty lucky that both my kids have never really been afraid of the guy, so I always end up with pretty cute Santa pics. Although, there is something weird about letting your kids sit on some strange guy's lap, who offers them candy and tells them to "be good". Who the heck made up that tradition? Creepy! I tell you though, the promise of candy canes work to get them to sit there and smile. That's their main motivation - it's all about the candy.

An unexpected surprise this weekend, was getting a babysitter at the very last minute, so that we could attend a friend's holiday party. It was a nice treat, especially since neither of our firms are having holiday parties this year. There nothing like dressing up a little, socializing with adults and consuming some good holiday libations to really get you in the holiday spirit.

I raised a glass to you all this weekend - Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Groundhog Day

Sometimes being with my Mom is like being in that movie Groundhog Day. Remember the one, when Bill Murray keeps living the same day over and over and over.

My Mom's short term memory is - ok, I'll just say it - it's shot. As a result, she often repeats things only a short time after she just said them.

Over Thanksgiving, I was kicking back watching Survivor (die hard fan) with my Mom and my husband - who graciously pretends that he still enjoys the show, just for my benefit. If that's not love, I don't know what is. He even adds commentary, and throws out the occasional "who are they going to vote off tonight" theories. I know he's just making it up.

Anyway, we're watching the show, and my Mom says "I didn't know this show was still on!". Then, about 5 minutes later, she says "I didn't know this show was still on!". Same inflection and everything.

We started cracking up, and told her that she had just said that. I then told her that she often does that, and did she realize that she called my sister twice yesterday and had the same conversation with her both times.

Then, about three minutes later, she says "I didn't know this show was still on!". And she was not kidding. She ended up saying that two more times before the show was over. I know, because we counted.

It was seriously like Groundhog Day.

I know this is actually a serious aspect of growing old, and it's actually a sad topic. But if I don't laugh about it, I will cry. So, I choose to laugh. And thankfully, so does my Mom. I love her.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thankful Thursday

As I was inspired by Thanksgiving to express my gratitude more frequently. This is my first Thankful Thursday post.

I am thankful for Peet's Peppermint Hot Cocoa during the holiday season.

I've never been a coffee drinker. I know. Crazy. I don't even know how I get through parenthood without caffeine. I just don't really like the taste of it. I love the smell of it though. So, have a cup of coffee with me any day, and I'll be having hot chocolate. But not too sweet. Which is why I like Peet's hot chocolate. Just the right amount of sweetness. And the added peppermint flavor during the holidays is such a special treat.

Warms the soul...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Shrinking Jeans update - my ace in the hole

Today is the first weigh-in day of my Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans challenge, and so far I've lost a grand total of ZERO pounds. Hey, I've only been doing this since Monday. I'm still trying to achieve all four of my goals each day!

I do however, have an ace in hole! My friend Devoted Mom to B, is a Pilates/Yoga instructor, and while I can't tap into her talents in that area by joining a class - since she lives two hours away, I can tap into her healthy living expertise. She's started a blog site called Luscious Life, dedicated to health, happiness and making life a little sweeter.

I was struggling with breakfast ideas, and asked for her advice. She wrote a post on her luscious blog with a great suggestion. I can't wait to try it!

Oops, I guess I just gave away my secret. Then again, this is a Sisterhood, and the point of the challenge is to support each other - so I'll go ahead and publish this to share with all (three readers of my blog).

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My pretend Mommy

I'm kind of paranoid about my curling iron. I'm so worried that one of my kids is going to burn themselves on it. Even when it's cool, I don't let them near it. The other day, my little Milly was in our bathroom, and checking out the counter. She saw the curling iron and I said "This is very dangerous. Don't ever touch it. It will give you a big owie. It's only for Mommies."

She said, "But I a pretend Mommy."

You've got to be kidding me with this cuteness.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Here's the skinny

I've finally gotten to a place in life where I am happy with my body - whatever it looks like. Really. I'm not just saying that. How can I not love the body that carried two beautiful and healthy babies (much to it's despise apparently... even though I actually loved being pregnant, my body did not).

So, now that I've reached this level of enlightenment, I'm joining an online weight loss challenge called Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans. Not because I'd like my jeans to be a bit less tight, although that is admittedly a nice side benefit, but because I want to be healthier, have more energy and protect myself as much as possible from health related problems that run in my family like diabetes and heart disease.

I don't have a specific weight goal I'm trying to reach. My goals will be:
  • Eat a healthy breakfast every day.
  • Pack a lunch for work (side benefit, more $ for Christmas presents!).
  • Avoid all the sweet snacks around the office.
  • Exercise a few nights a week at the gym I joined recently, started going and then got sick and never got back on the wagon.

I'll blog my progress weekly - any tips appreciated!

Update: Day One. Not the best start... I did eat a good breakfast and brought my lunch to work, but then someone brought peppermint bark into the office - I didn't pass, and I won't be exercising tonight unless you consider decorating the Christmas tree and then writing a post about Thanksgiving a workout. Ah well. Two out of four. I'm going to go ahead and see the glass half full today.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Santa Claus is coming to town

I debated dragging Thanksgiving out for the entire weekend, but after taking the kids to the Christmas parade and tree lighting downtown, I got into the spirit.

So, we got our tree and commenced the holiday decorating. What used to take me a day to accomplish BC (before kids) is clearly going to take me all week. At least we got the tree done.

I'll also be dragging this whole "you better watch out, you better not shout, you better not cry, I'm telling you why, Santa Claus is coming to town!" out all month.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks

We've hosted Thanksgiving since before we were married. Yes folks, my husband and I lived together before we were married. Oops, my kids will be reading this someday... I mean, my husband and I did not live together and were in fact both virgins when we got married. Yes, that's it. I almost forgot.

Every year, we've had a "Thanksgiving Disaster". Ok, that's an exaggeration. Most of them haven't really been disasters, except for the time that we caught the oven on fire and the fire department had to come and put it out. Of course, having a bunch of hot firemen in your house is never a disaster. Then there was the time that my sister forgot the turkey at her house, and had to turn around halfway through their two hour drive to my house to go back and get it. I think we broke the disposal in the sink by cramming potato peels down it on two different occasions. We had to buy a new stove and oven the year we let a pot overflow and drowned the electronic components. There was the year that we decided not to let our Mom cook anything anymore when she used beef broth for the gravy, forgot the sugar in the pecan pie and the stuffing was so dry the guys ended up making some "Stove Top" just so they'd have something to eat.

This year's official Thanksgiving Disaster was just as we were going to serve our amazing meal, we discovered there was no gravy. I thought my sister was bringing it, and she thought I was responsible for it. She's got some kind of email proving her innocence, but hey - how easy is that to come up with after the fact. (hee, hee. Just kidding Kir. It was my fault everyone!)

Anyway, this ended up being the best Thanksgiving Disaster ever! My sister-in-law and her new husband ran out to Safeway to get some gravy, but the kids were starving. We decided to go ahead and serve them while we waited. By the time they were back with the gravy, the kids were long done and off playing. All the adults then served up our meal and sat down to eat. To the most relaxing Thanksgiving meal since my sister and I have had kids! It was pure heaven. Why didn't we think of this before? We didn't have to get up once to fetch anything for anyone but ourselves.

Notice my sister in this picture in the background, bringing food to the kid's table during Thanksgiving dinner, part one.

The thing I am most thankful for this day of giving thanks is family. We were able to spend such a wonderful day with my sister's family, listening to all the cousins laugh and play. The best part was at the end of the night, after we'd bathed all the kids and they were in their jammies reading bedtime stories. I remembered that my Mom wanted a picture of her with all her Grand kids, who were at that point tired and in no mood for pictures, but you'd never guess that based on this great picture! That's because, she ran behind my couch and yelled "where's Mommy?", then popped up making googly faces at the kids. Apparently, my sister could have a career in kid's comedy, because they thought that was the most hilarious thing ever. Can you please come over every time I want to get a picture of my kids smiling?

Thanksgiving has also inspired me to think a lot about gratitude. I'm going to start a regular post topic about things I'm grateful for. I think it's good to remember those things. Now, I'm just trying to come up with a good title... Thankful Thursday? Ideas welcome.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

That's right folks, I am married to the Sexiest Man Alive

Whenever I add a celebrity to my "list", you know the one. Famous people you have a hall pass to sleep with if the opportunity ever presented itself - which it never will, because they are celebrities and you are not, but it's fun to think about it anyway. So, anytime someone is on my "list", it spells certain death for said celebrity's career or for themselves. Case in point: Val Kilmer, Orlando Bloom, Matthew McConaughey, Ethan from Survivor, Heath Ledger - need I say more?

Not so with the latest addition to "the list", Hugh Jackman. He just won People magazine's prestigious Sexiest Man Alive award. Maybe it's because I haven't laminated my new list yet.

My husband bought me a copy of People with Hugh on the cover while we were visiting the in-laws, for me to peruse while watching the kids swim. I think he was just trying to distract me from reading blogs incessantly, but whatever. It worked. I showed my husband the above picture, which was featured in the People shoot, and commented "doesn't that look painful? fully clothed with ocean water splashing all over you? I bet it was freezing!".

My daughter Seesa, heard me and said "Lemme see!". I showed her the picture, and she shouted "THAT'S DADDY!".

My husband got a huge smile on his face, said something like "that's right honey" to her and, "did you know you were married to the sexiest man alive?" to me, and then said something about me laughing a little too much over the whole thing. Ok, maybe if your hair was longer, you didn't shave for a few days, you worked out a lot, and you liked to swim in the ocean fully clothed and then walk onto the beach looking like you were going to take me right there in the sand. Then, maybe.

Seesa sweetheart, I hope you always think your Daddy is the most handsome man alive.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Visiting Norwindia

I'm visiting my sister over at the Norwindians today with a guest post. Check it out...

Oh, and funny story about my guest post. My sister has been posting lately about "Sunday's Simple Pleasures", and that's what she asked me to write about. I wrote it on my Blackberry during my drive down to Santa Maria on Thursday night, then emailed it to her. Only thing is, I sent it to the wrong email address. My sister's email address is last name dot first name, and for some reason I accidentally emailed her using first name dot last name.

So, it will be Sunday's Simple Pleasures on a Tuesday. Oh well.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A little slice of heaven...and a slice of pie, or two!

We spent this weekend visiting my in-laws in Santa Maria (which if you know California, is south of San Luis Obispo and north of Santa Barbara). It's been a long time since we went down to Grammie and Grampy's house. We actually figured out that it's been about a year since our last visit. It's been a busy year... They live about five hours away, so we're normally able to visit every few months for a long weekend, and I feel pretty lucky about that.

Being down there reminded me of one of the reasons that I fell in love with my husband - his amazing family. Grammie and Grampy's house is a little slice of heaven for all of us. My husband grew up in this great neighborhood where a number of the families were really tight. The kids would go from house to house, and all the parents treated them like their own. I know this is true because every time we are there and we visit some of his family's friends - many of whom still live in the same houses, in that same neighborhood - they all treat us like family. My husband feels like he grew up with 23 brothers and sisters, and 6 sets of parents.

Here are the highlights of the weekend...

The garden.

Grammie and Grampy live in a beautiful home (that my husband grew up in), with an incredible yard. It's not palatial, but it's a good sized lot. Big enough that they actually had a sand volleyball court in the backyard when my husband was a kid. Now, it's a garden. Both Grandparents love to plant, so fresh fruit and veggies are plentiful. There is nothing better than going out into the yard, and picking an apple for lunch or some avocados to put in the dinner salad. Before I met my husband, I hated raw tomatoes. I grew up in "the city", so to me, they always tasted like cardboard. When I saw him eating one raw one time, I almost threw up. When he finally got me to try it, I was in tomato heaven. After that, I ate raw tomatoes like they were apples whenever I could get them home grown. In that second picture, my girls are picking sunflower seeds out of dried sunflowers. I think I'm going to try planting some in my yard next year.

The pie.

Grammie is an incredible cook. Really. Martha Stewart good. She made two pies this weekend. The one pictured is Olallieberry, and she also made an apple crisp - both from fruit they grew. The dinners we had both nights there were to die for. The kind where you keep eating past the point of being full just because it's so good. I regularly gain 5 pounds after a visit, and it's worth it!

The "pool".

They have a hot tub in their yard, which is like the perfect sized pool for my kids. They were in heaven. I barely got them out of the "pool" long enough to eat all weekend. The best part was that the weather was so warm (I heart California), that I even got a little sunbathing in while watching them swim. Seesa told Grampy that he needed to get a bigger pool, to which he mumbled something about the economy and before going back to his gardening.

The family time.

Good conversation around the dinner table. Great wine. Happy kids playing with all the fun toys they only see when they visit the Grandparents. Warm fire (again, California... you gotta love being in your swimsuit during the day and having enough of a chill in the air at night for a fire). Card and tile games after the kids have gone to bed. The laughter, the hugs, the kisses, the love.

Memories. Precious memories that I know we'll all cherish for a lifetime. After this horrible (ok, I said it) year, it was a timely reminder that this is what life is all about after all.

Friday, November 21, 2008

You're not the boss of me

A little while ago, my husband decided to tell our daughter Seesa, that we were in fact not the bosses of her. This was of course during some altercation where Seesa proclaimed, "you are not the boss of me!", and my husband told her that no, we aren't - in an attempt to teach her that she's the boss of herself, in the hopes that she would learn about taking responsibility for her own actions.

She's five. As probably goes without saying, I've been living with the wrath of this new found knowledge of hers ever since. And I'm running out of coming up with rational reasons that she should listen to me and do what I say, even though, I am not the boss of her.

I believe that as parents, we should try to give consistent messages to our children, so I tried to back him up on this one. However, the other day, I finally broke down. I told her that maybe Daddy isn't the boss of her, but I AM! I think I may have even said something about "as long as you live under this roof...". Oh well. Go big or go home.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Got mail?

Lish strikes again...
HAP has created herself a monster. Now I am walking around with blogs in my head and only one place to put them. I apologize to those of you who want me to step aside and get my own damn blog, but I like guesting instead. All the joys of blogging and none of the responsibility. My personal motto.

It’s only fair of me to give you hardworking and stressed out moms a break by bringing you into the crazy-sexy-cool life of the cougar in the making. What I should be doing is telling you all about the sex (with young prey), drugs (caffeine pills mostly), drinking (no wait, that’s reserved for you guys), and Top 40 radio in the life of a hip divorcee so you can feel both envy and pity. And I want to tell you all about it SO BADLY! But I have learned my blogging lesson. I once had a top secret blog detailing my wild exploits with young foreign men but discovered that when most people type the words ‘Per__n boy’ in their blog and then google it, cats, rugs and even the current political state of Ir_n comes up. When I personally type those same words, my blog would come up FIRST on both Yahoo and Google. (If you can’t understand the words with blanks, get a map of the Mid__ E__t.) And let me tell you a secret. Those kinds of boys do NOT like their privacy exposed. Most American men will be angry, they will yell, they will threaten, they will give you the silent treatment but in the end, they know you will do what you want more or less as that is your God given right as an American woman. These other boys are much scarier than the average American dude. Luckily when I discovered my error in judgment, I pulled that blog so fast that I didn’t even get a chance to say buh bye to my readers. No one ended up being the wiser, and more importantly, no one got hurt.

So, today I’m going to tell you a little story about a credit card (boo hiss everyone has a credit card story). One day, I had the bright idea to go on a shopping spree at JCPenney’s. (Now before you judge me about shopping at Penney’s, EVERYONE at work told me how much they loved my new clothes before I told them where I purchased them. I enjoyed every gasp of surprise and admiration at my cost savings in these dire economic times). You need to understand that I do not ever use credit cards. I have one emergency Visa that I never use. I couldn’t even tell you where it is. But I had so many clothes hangers balancing off my arms and legs that I opened the immediate credit solely for the discount.

I also need to explain that I live in an apartment building built in 1933 that has four cute precious old mailboxes that do not lock. And I hate picking up my mail. I admit there are times the post office has picked up my mail and kept it because they couldn’t fit any more flyers into my box. I’ll rummage through it for anything important (ie; birthday cards with checks) and leave the rest behind. My mailbox is my personal filing system as it’s more convenient than my coffee table. The day the JCPenney credit card arrived, I noted it for pick up at a later date. When that later date came, there was not one stitch of mail left in my mailbox, not even the two dozen political flyers I planned on reading in the bathroom. I did not panic yet as this was not unusual. But imagine my surprise when the Post Office told me – nope, we have nothing for you. Shee-it.

I called JCPenney’s, and they informed me that my card had been maxed out at – wait for it – Rite-Aid. Did you know you could use a JCPenney’s card at Rite-Aid? I didn’t either. Penney’s generously told me they would try to take care of the extra charges and would immediately send out a new card with a new account number for my convenience. I roared – I don’t WANT another card. The last one was STOLEN out of my MAILBOX! WHY would you guys mail me ANOTHER one? I don’t want a NEW account! Had the world gone crazy?

The young girl on the line got huffy and defensive, I don’t know why. Just because some JCPenney’s executives making three figures a year sat around in a conference room one day and decided that if a customer had a credit card lost or stolen that in order to save potential business, they would immediately send out a new one no matter what the customer actually wanted and then they would put young people on the phones to be yelled out with no recourse while paying them nothing per hour. Or that’s how I imagine it, because the young girl told me she could put in a special request to not have a card sent out and someone would make a decision on it.

In the meantime, I put my mail on vacation hold which can be from a couple days all the way up to a month. Absolute bliss and celebration. I forgot I even get mail. Since all my bills are paid automatically, I’m not even thinking about mail. This mail vacation thing has been a little slice of heaven, and I’ve already been one or two weeks without mail. Except, if you can believe this, I did get mail on one particular day. And guess what was in it. That’s right. The new f’ing credit card that by the grace of God, I got to before it could be maxed out again.

As a good citizen, I called the police department to report the theft. The automated message went something like this (and I’m not kidding) – If you are calling to report a murder with a baseball bat or an ice pick or a stabbing or a wounding or an armed robbery or an armed robbery with a machete or a rape or a rape with a weapon or a rape with two or more men or a kidnapping or a kidnapping with a van or a kidnapping with a rope, crime, crime, crime, endless crime in progress, please press one now. (At this point, I locked all my doors and shut all my windows.) If you are calling to report your mail stolen, you are small potatoes and need to go onto our website to report it. (I was never so happy to have had just my mail stolen).

I also reported it to United States Postal Service. There are also a number of possible complaints to be filed with our US postal service but my absolute favorite, the one that makes me laugh out loud and email to friends is:

Medical quackery. And just a tip. Do not try to explain why this is funny to new immigrants. They will look at you blankly and ask you to explain “quackery” which is nearly impossible and you will end up just saying – “Trust me. It’s funny”.

As I only have a month of vacation from my mail, I decided I would need to break down and get a PO Box. I always thought only businesses and people having affairs had PO Boxes, but I was wrong. Victims also get them. So yesterday, I stood in a long line at my local Post Office (for some reason, there are a lot of very tiny people visiting the post office) to rent a PO Box. In the PO Box literature they threaten that if you do not pick up your mail from your PO Box, you may be forced to rent a bigger one. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

I turned in my application, handed over my debit card and asked the clerk – The PO Box area is open 24 hours, right? She looks at me and says cheerfully – Oh we used to be but I think we’re going to start closing at 9:30 pm. The PO Boxes are being broken into.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Mixing things up... with a guest post!

I've been in sort of a post funk lately, so I decided to pull in some reinforcements. My friend, known as "Lish" in her comments, is an amazing writer and should totally have her own blog. I think she even had a secret blog at one point, until she realized that the person she most frequently blogged about could easily discover her blog through a few quick google searches on key - and apparently frequently searched - words. She is going to be a writer in New York someday. I can't wait. I am going to brag about my friend, the writer in New York, when that happens.

One more note before we begin, Lish uses my real name - which I haven't yet revealed on my blog, so I will replace it with HAP - heart at preschool. For now. I'd like to do something more dramatic for the "big reveal"!

Oh, and THANKS for the post Lish! YOU ROCK!

HAP has asked me to guest post on her blog. I wish I had more time to come up with something titillating, but I know HAP, and she will want it done immediately. Like right now. This reminds me of a funny HAP story that I want to tell before I get into the meat of this blog. Those of you who know her can relate.

Back in the early, early 90s (stretch your imagination back to leggings and sweatshirts tied around your waist to hide your butt) HAP and I were both in colleges that were a twenty minute drive from each other, and we would often visit each other in our respective college towns. One day she drove down to my neck of the woods, and we decided to rent a movie at Blockbuster (damn! I didn’t realize how old Blockbuster is getting). I didn’t have a membership at that particular store so I attempted to open one at the desk. I don’t remember what the issue was – I probably didn’t have an ID or something or maybe the ID didn’t match my address, but the clerk was telling us I couldn’t open the account. The entire time this was going on, HAP was her normal, friendly, charming, easy-going self. So the clerk didn’t know what hit her when HAP lost her patience, pointed her nail at the application and said ferociously to the girl – JUST DO IT!! (I should add that I think the Just Do It Nike commercials may have been big at that time).

The clerk and I were both stunned into complete silence. The clerk recovered quicker, quietly and efficiently processed the application and we and our VHS tape were on our way. Of course HAP gave the clerk her most beatific blonde, blue-eyed girl smile and a sincere thank you on the way out. The clerk is probably still wondering if she had only imagined seeing the Aries Ram that lurked below the surface.

Whenever HAP and I get frustrated with anyone or anything these days and we happen to be together, we like to tell them – JUST DO IT!

Oh shoot! I was going to write a whole blog about my experience trying to apply for holiday work at Barnes and Noble the other day, but now my lunchtime is running out. You’ll have to just trust me that if I was a pretty gay boi, I would probably have been hired on the spot.

Thanks for having me!! Good times.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pony Party

We had a "pony party" for Seesa's birthday this year. She is so into animals (or maybe that's me), that I thought it would be fun to create a whole animal-loving theme for her party this year. Or maybe I thought it would be fun for me. Hey, I'm the one throwing it. She can choose her own theme when she's old enough to kick down some cash for the party.

The party was the weekend before Halloween (yes, I am totally behind on my posts...). It was a super warm weekend and the party was all outside, in a little apple orchard at a horse boarding farm. There was a jump house and a little petting zoo. I had a Halloween mask making craft, a unicorn pinata and I made pony cupcakes. Thank you
anymommy for the cupcake idea from your post about your son's birthday. I just looked at your pictures, and tried to copy the cupcakes. Not bad, eh?

And then there were the pony rides. SO fun for all the kids. I had told Seesa that she could ride as many times as she wanted, since she was the birthday girl. I could barely get her off the ponies. Little sister Milly rode too.

After Seesa blew out her birthday candles, she told me what she wished for... her own pony.

Hmmm...wonder how long I'll be able to appease her with bunnies.

Happy Birthday my Halloween baby!!!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Interesting times

I'll never forget this fortune cookie I opened once that read "May you live in interesting times".

It's been over a week since my husband and I had a big argument. We had a long discussion about it this weekend, and I'm at a loss for words. I'm not even sure why I'm writing this post, except that maybe I just wanted to get down in writing how I'm feeling right now.

Sometimes the simplest thing can be more complicated than I can even wrap my mind around, all at the same time.

And as Forrest Gump (it was on HBO this weekend) would say, that's all I have to say about that.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Happy Birthday Seesa!

My oldest daughter turned 5 years old on October 31st. I love that my first was born on Halloween, my favorite "holiday". Here is our birth story...

My due date was October 29th, and we did not find out what I was having while I was pregnant - although I was pretty confident that it wasn't puppies. Sorry, had to say it. I had visions of myself pushing through labor being so excited to find out the sex of our baby. I looked forward to hearing the words, "It's a ___!"

For a couple weeks before my due date, I was supposed to be taking it easy and monitoring my blood pressure, which had been high. I also had to go to the hospital every few days for a "stress test". As part of these tests, they would do an ultrasound. During one of the ultrasounds, the nurse commented that my baby had big feet. This didn't surprise me, because my husband is tall.

October 29th came and went, and I had to go in for a stress test on October 30th. I hadn't slept all night, and really hadn't slept well for the few nights leading up to that because I had such horrible heart burn that I couldn't even lay down comfortably. I tried to sleep sitting up, and even that was tough. I was too tired to take a shower before I left for my appointment that morning. I had planned on coming home, and take a nice warm shower and trying to rest. Well, I didn't make it home, because at the stress test they told me that I had to check in because my blood pressure wasn't good. I called my husband, and told him to meet me at the hospital.

They proceeded to induce me, and labor started quickly. I didn't have a lot of break between contractions. Bring on the pain meds. I started with Fentanyl. It didn't really take away the pain, it just made it oh so much more bearable. Fentanyl got me through an episode of my favorite show, Survivor. My contractions continued, but I had only dilated to 2 centimeters. That's when the tall, bald, Russian anesthesiologist (the best in the hospital) came in to talk to me about an epidural. I asked if he thought it was too early for an epidural. He simply said "You have pain. You have epidural." I realized then why he was the best in the hospital.

My blood pressure continued to be a problem and they had to put me on magnesium sulfate. At one point, I was hooked up to what we lovingly called "the Christmas tree" of drip lines. My OB - whom I loved - came in and asked if there was any orifice they hadn't stuck something in yet. Nice.
Finally, around 11pm, my OB told me that I had to have a c-section. It actually turns out that I had HELLP syndrome - hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes and low platelet count. Basically, I could die. Nice. It turned out that the "heart burn" I thought I was feeling, was actually my liver. Distending. I was perfectly fine having a c-section, because I really wasn't set on a specific birth plan. I knew enough to know that anything can happen, and every birth is different and most likely not what anyone expects. All I wanted was my baby to be born healthy. Oh, and also to live to be my baby's Mother!

Thing was, we were so close to midnight at that point, that we really wanted to hold out so that our baby would be born on Halloween. As luck would have it, my OB had another patient right next door who also needed to have a c-section, but she was desperate to not have her baby born on Halloween. I heard my OB telling the nurses - ok, we need to get this one born before midnight, and this one out after midnight.

At 1:46am on October 31st, we welcomed our beautiful daughter into the world. I sort of remember the doctors saying "It's a girl!", but apparently I was so hopped up on the mag, and whatever other medications they had me on, all I said was "Does she have big feet?". I do distinctly remember my husband bringing her over to me and just touching her cheek in disbelief. She was amazing.

She still is.

Happy Birthday my little pumpkin! You are my heart, my joy, my muse, my hope. I love you with all my heart!!!

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