Monday, December 31, 2007

Last day of 2007 and Turning 49

I turned 49 years old two days ago. For my birthday, I was treated to a gluten and wheat-free breakfast in bed, presents from my three DDs and DH that include a shiny red Seattle's Best Coffee travel mug, a Denver Nuggets basketball cap, a Colorado Rockies National League Championship sweatshirt and my own copy of Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. 
The Nuggets cap was a true act of transformation because prior to my birthday, the giver of the cap, one of our twins, refused to acknowledge that the Denver Nuggets even existed, out of some amazing loyalty to the Rockies. Go figure. 

The sweatshirt had to be returned because it was too small and that led to a drama of its own since Sports Authority didn't have any that fit me and I had to exchange the too small one for a pink Colorado Rockies sports fleece. A year ago this would have been the most wonderful thing in the world, but now that we are in our post-Pink stage, the replacement was met with lots of tears, but finally accepted because Mama really really likes it!

I cannot say enough about how much I love Eat Pray Love. I had borrowed a friend's copy and promptly devoured it, getting lost in the winding streets of Rome, breathing through the Ashram in India and falling in love with EG's Brazilian lover in Bali and truthfully, I thought about dropping it in the bathtub or worse, the toilet, in order to not have to return it. But my dear friend is a writer, a traveler and a really good person, so I decided to not take on that literary karma and sadly returned it. If you haven't read it, do so immediately. 

My coffee mug - chosen by my oldest DH - is a deep cherry red and will always be filled with something caffeinated (except if it has bubbles). 

To top it off, I still get flowers every birthday from my parents - how gorgeous is that? 

As for turning 49, what can I say? It's a splendid place to be. 

P.S. Above photo is me on a sled going down a hill really fast. Happy New Year from Colorado!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Hurray for Modern Technology!

I'd like to give a big kiss and lots of prestigious awards to the culinary angel who developed "slice and bake" cookies because there would have been very little holiday merriment at my 3 DDs school on this last day before winter break. But after a full day of work and even more endless shopping, the last thing this tired mama was able to handle was making four different kinds of cookies from scratch. 
But with the help of three little refrigerated tubes of sticky, sweet dough, I was able to wrap the gifts, spend some time with the girls
and bake and sprinkle all the cookies we needed (plus some for the office) and still get to bed before midnight. Thank you Betty Crocker, the Pillsbury
Doughboy, or more likely Erma Bombeck, or whoever came up with this saving one mother's mind at a time in the dairy section of my favorite grocery store

One more day of work before my PAID vacation begins. How sweet it is!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Dungeon of My Own

I wish I could say that the weekend was splendid, filled with wonderfully educational and relaxing family-filled events, but for the most part it sucked. I came home, or to the mess that used to be my home, on Friday night and that makes me very grumpy. Blame it on religion, which in my case is a renewal version of Judaism and one that encourages the  non-commodity time known as Shabbat. For me, it is a time to decompress and unplug from my weekly life of computers, running around and general unconscious living. So the last thing I want to do is clean my little house and do a hundred loads of laundry. And I am not always very nice about it, so my children and DH found out...

The good news is that despite a rather bleak Saturday, that second day of the weekend (thank goodness for that) - aka SUNDAY - was just lovely. I read the New York Times, drank coffee and gazed out the window at the snow while the kids played. At some point, my oldest DD snuggled up on the love seat next to me and said, "Mama, when you get mad like you did yesterday, I sort of wish I could put you in a dungeon." 

Now this is the same child who used to call me a "bossy mama," which I seriously considered titling my blog, but went for the more sensational of the titles. 

A dungeon. I wouldn't mind a dungeon, as long as it was clean, heated, had wireless and cable capacity and good cellphone coverage. And as long as it was mine. As far as I am concerned, a dungeon is just an 8 year old's version of sending me to my room for an extended time out and that would be just fine with me. A dungeon is a basement crossed with a cave. I'd even take a bat or two, as long as no one else was allowed in it. I've been wanting to move to a house with a basement, but on second thought, I will take a house with my own dungeon. A dungeon of my own. Sounds good enough for me!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

My 53 Places to Go for the Rest of My Life

The New York Times recently published a very posh list of 53 places to go for 2008. Why 53? Is there an extra vacation week for the really rich that the rest of us working schlubs don't know about? Is the 53rd place related to 2008 being a leap year??? 

Anyway, after viewing the list, which ranges from Laos, which in case you missed it that Cambodia and Vietnam are so 2007 (gag me with a spoon) to Sylt - just have to love the description of it as the Hamptons of Germany (hard to conjure that one in my brain) with reed-thatched houses, nudist beaches and designer stores, the list made me realize that there are many parallel universes and that I don't exist in 99.9% of them. 

I have been compiling my list of 53 Places to Go for 2008 and would love to share it with you. What you might notice is the eco-friendly, small footprint nature of this list, since most of it involves never having to leave my house, or my block. 

1. A clean house, preferably mine. 
2. An uninterrupted phone conversation. That would be my equivalent the Times #28.
3. A steam cleaned minivan, again preferably mine. 
4. Fresh made coffee in the morning. I am lucky enough to get to go here every morning, thanks to our nifty Cuisinart Brew Central and my DH's adept understanding that Mama without coffee waiting for her is not a Mama to wake up to or spend much time with. 
5. A hot bath with water that never gets cold. 
6. A hot bath without an audience of either my kids or the dog. 
7. A clean bath tub. 
8. A second functioning bathroom with a door that locks.
9. To sit down and eat a meal without being asked for anything.
10. To read an entire chapter of an adult-level book without the book falling on my face because I've collapsed in sleep.
11. Sex without kids in the house. 
12. Sex without the dog on the bed. 
13. Sex without the cats in the window.
14. Sex.
15. To not have to repeat myself until I am red in the face.
16. To match all the unmatching socks before I die.
17. A clean refrigerator. 
18. To find all the missing Polly Pocket shoes in the shag carpet and never lose them again. 
19. To not forget to buy anything at the market. 
20. To use the coupons I have been clipping and not using for 10 years, which would actually make it possible for me to go to #14 with DH.
21. To actually cook and eat all the food we buy at the market. 
22. To learn how to use my cell phone like a pro.
23. To never have to walk into a Wal-Mart again. No offense and I am not being some snob here, but they make me go wiggy.
24. To never have to sit through trailers in a movie theater again. To the folks who thought it was a really good idea to show the trailer to "Spiderwick Tales" and the new Nicholas Cage film before "Enchanted," I wish you a lifetime of night terrors. 
25. Unlimited time at Lowes or Home Depot with someone else footing the bill.
26. To get the dried masking tape from the failed trim paint attempt off our front living room window. 
27. Sockets that fit plugs. 
28. Someone else to paint my ceilings.
29. Self-making beds. 
30. Slice and Bake cookies - see 12/20 posting.
31. Five seats to the World Series, preferably with my beloved Rockies in it AGAIN!

Okay, I have to take a break here to get back to my really cool job. And because this list is making my head spin. I would take any three of that list and it would last me for a year. But I'll go ahead and close out the list for now, with the rest of it to be filled in when I recover from fantasy-vacation overload. Coming in at #53 is pretty much a no-brainer:

53. Uninterrupted time with my kids. As much as I might bitch and complain - multiple examples of these will soon be posted in the archives - my greatest vacation would be to have a certain amount of uninterrupted and non-scheduled time with my kids to do nothing but hang out in our pajamas and see how much we can all annoy one another. 

Happy traveling!

File under D for 'Duh'

A new study has been released about the evolutionary advantages of the female body, especially as it relates to pregnancy and not tipping over like Humpty Dumpty. In addition to being a writer and a mother, I am also a certified teacher of the Alexander Technique, which deals with how to undo habitual patterns of body use and fun stuff like that. But this study cracked me up because you don't have to be a Harvard or even a University of Texas researcher to know that women, whether pregnant or not, are the evolutionary superiors to men in many other ways, which I am happy to begin to list and hope that you will add to as well:
1. Octopoidal taskability - If you remember that movie, "The Elephant Man," where actor John Hurt yells out "I am not an elephant!" then I can be dubbed "The Octopus Mom." While I didn't develop an extra boobie for each child I birthed, my two boobies acted as three and my two arms and legs acted as if I was in fact an octopus. This translates into being able to wash a sink full of dishes (by hand), supervise an art project for my own trio, plus a playdate, one that involves small beads and glitter and glue (we all have to learn the hard way sometimes), feeding the dog, cooking some organic delight, knocking the cats off the counter and working on at least two freelance projects all at the same time, not to mention answering email. And if you are a new mother, breastfeeding at least one child the entire time. I remember when the twins were 2 months old and I thought it was a perfect time to re-enter our social world and invited 15 people over for dinner. I breastfed both while putting together a lasagna. We have the pictures to prove I am not lying. But don't ask me for them because I don't know where they are. 
2. Retractable limbs - This can be described as the post-natal ability to retrieve any size object, from a marble to a hardened piece of toast, from any location of the third row of a minivan. This includes keeping both eyes on the road and one hand on the wheel.  This also includes pulling small objects out of small orifices and wiping noses. 
3. Unflappable flapability - This is the ability to be able to have a conversation, and other things (sometimes) with one's partner after 15 straight hours of #1 & 2. 
Add your own.  The thing about mothers is that we are endlessly and uniquely adaptable to any situation that life throws us. 

My favorite line of the study is "More Stability During Pregnancy" with this excerpt: "Women have evolved a stronger and more flexible lower spine than men." Any takers on this one??? 

Ah, science, that wonderful bastion of logic and reason, has finally come to the ultimate understanding:

Mothers and women are at the top of the food chain!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Our Version of "Animal Farm"

About six months ago, DD announced that what she wanted more than anything in the world for her next birthday, was a red-eared slider. A turtle. I sat with that for a bit and thought about it. We already have two cats and a dog. A 15 year old male Maine Coon with extra toes named Boo Radley, who has been with us since our days in NYC. Got him from a flower shop and changed his name from George to Boo Radley after a particularly weepy viewing of "To Kill A Mockingbird" after which I said I wanted to have a cat named Boo Radley so I could live out my Scout fantasy of being able to whisper 'Boo" in the dark. We also have a 3 year old female orange tabby nicknamed "Kitty," but whose full name is "Buddy Boy Girl Daffodil" and whose name should be Charles Manson because she kills all the birds in the neighborhood. The trio is rounded out by a half Sheltie and half Golden named Milo who I brought home from PetSmart, at first to the dismay of my DH, but who is quite possibly the best dog on the planet.

When I asked DD why a turtle, she responded, "because they are quiet and shy."

Here's the deal. Up until about a year ago, it was pretty much princesses and pink 24/7 in our house. See earlier postings for enlightenment on the color pink. But we have turned that corner and now have entered the Noah's Ark phase of the thing. Animals, especially horses, bunnies, turtles, puppies, kitties. So far two of the three DDs want to either be a vet or have a zoo, but in the meantime, they want to fill our home with as many real, plush and plastic animals our 50s ranch house can handle.

Up until six months ago oldest DD would plug her nose with two fingers anytime we tried to take her near a farm or farm animal. But I recently signed them up for an afternoon of horse back riding. We, meaning me and DH, drove up to a
beautiful ranch just outside of our town, one of those places that reminds me why we live where we do. Walked the three DDs into a large barn where promptly all the parents were handed a release form and essentially told to get the fuck out of the barn and don't come back until the class was over. They were nicer than than, but that was the message. Now, I have gotten to the point where I LOVE the stop and drop approach because the girls are all too big to be hanging on my already exhausted body and besides, I know that the scent of a mama in the vicinity translates into "I don't want to do it." But my DH is another story. He is the father who hovered, true helicopter style, on the playground for every step our oldest DH took on the various equipment and who I had to pull of the same background threatening him if he took a step back on the sand again I would report him. He looked at me when I told him we were only allowed to sit on the hill above the corral and before he could sputter out an overprotective sound, I cooed to him that it would be a perfect time for him to get some writing done and could he bring me back a sweater and a latte? He knew he was beat.

He made it back in time for the parading around the corral and yes, I openly wept at the sight of my three DDs sitting confidently on their horses for their two times round, plus a little trotting. We re-united midway between the hill and the barn and I was the hero of the weekend for finding the best thing in the world to do. We scrambled into the car amidst them saying they wanted to do pony camp, can we do pony camp, mama? Before I could say yes, they all burst into tears and cried their ponies names over and over again for the 5 mile ride home. We had arrived in our own version of
Animal Farm.

When I went to the store with oldest DD to investigate the red-eared slider adventure, I was at first thrilled to see that the little swimmer would only set us back about $15. Not bad. Immediately upon telling the sales clerk that we were interested in purchasing one, he quipped back, "They are the most returned animal in our store." DD's eyes grew big. I asked why and was told, "They are skanky to clean, especially if you don't clean up after them everyday." Now, we are not what anyone who knows us would qualify as a particularly neat family. Our house is clean to the point of, well, whatever we can do before we both collapse from the loads of laundry, endless dishes, clothing to put away, not to mention the toys... The quippy sales clerk then proceeded to tell me that for a 4" turtle, we would need a 50 gallon tank. DDs eyes grew bigger and I could see the sparkling of tears starting to form. "I'm having a little trouble visualizing that," I responded. "Could you show me what that looks like?" Quippy walked me over to a tank the size of a small two door car with a price tag to match. All in all, the $15 red eared slider comes to about $1k when you add in the tank, filter, 'habitat' materials, weekly Finding Nemo-like goldfish sacrifice, etc., etc., etc., to quote Yul Brynner. But then I remembered someone had given us an aquarium that was stored in the garage, so I called DH and asked about what size it was. 40 gallons. Good enough. That would take us down to half the original cost, so DDs eyes returned to normal size and we went off to look at the kittens with her younger sisters, which were totally and completely out of the question. For now.

When I called to order our red-eared birthday present, I was told that when the cold weather hits, they stop getting them and switch to Russian Tortoises. I imagined some 400 lb. tortoise from a show I saw about the Galapagos Islands. No, the non-quippy sales clerk told me, they only get to 8" max and are not aquatic. That means no water! And they are herbivores, so no tri-weekly Nemo sacrifices. I copied some images from the web to send to DD and while at first she seemed a bit disappointed, when we saw them in person, her face lit up and she nodded yes.

Feast your eyes on Dandelion, the newest member of our version of Animal Farm. If you don't agree that he is the cutest Russian tortoise around, then wait until I post a shot of his mug.

Ain't it great to turn 8?

HMS Viewing

I once work for what I thought was a really cool company who has licensing arrangements with some big biz and since I am woefully behind the TV-related and especially the tween and teen times, I ordered High School Musical from Netflix to watch with DDs to try to enter the 21st media century. I grew up watching "The Brady Bunch," "The Partridge Family" and listening to the Monkees. While my girl friends were oohing and aahing over Greg Brady, David Cassidy and Davey Jones, my tastes ran more to NONE of the Brady boys, Danny Bonaduce and Mickey Dolenz. I liked the guys who made me laugh. Figured it out at an early age that laughter lasted a lot longer than good looks.

Anyway, the four of us snuggled down on the incredible uncomfortable futon couch (how do you make those things so that they don't slide down???) and flipped on HMS. I am happy to report that none, I repeat none, of my three under 9 year old DDs gave a second look to Troy. I thought he was kind of cute in a frog prince kind of way, but they were obsessed with the girls and their hair. When their hair was curly, when it was straight, when it was in a bun, when it was under a hat. It's not that I don't want them to have their childhood crushes, but the world is so accelerated now and girls are pushed into sexuality way too early in the clothes that are out there and the media choices. They loved the music, the dancing, but most of all they loved the hair.

I know that might all change by the time we watch HMS2, but for now...