Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Mother of invention

You know, we're so privileged to live in a marvelous time and a wonderful country in which we are afforded a vast array of inventions and advancements to improve the quality and comfort of our lives.

Side note to Wikipedia: are you kidding me? The last major technological innovation in the United States was the production of compact discs?

Don't get me wrong: I'm a huge fan, but they're nearing obsoletion, right? Am I right? I think I am. Yes: and they were actually hatched in Germany.

Ach du lieber.

Okay, Americans: clearly, it's time for us to get cracking on some fancy new widgets to make the world a better place. Might I make one teeny-tiny suggestion?

Could someone smarter and much more engineery than me please, for the love of Pete, develop some sort of tracking device for essential toys and transitional objects?

So that, when you have reached the end of the day and the very end of your rope, and your not-quite-three-year-old bursts into tears because he has suddenly misplaced the small blue car that's been clutched in his hand all day long, until this very minute, which he must have?


And so you go scouring the house, high and low, top to bottom, while he and his siblings gleefully untuck themselves from their beds and begin running wildly around the house in their footie pajamas, and if it weren't so incredibly cute you might completely lose your mind.

Eventually, you do unearth the car, which is, of course, hiding behind your bathroom door, even though you don't remember ever seeing said child anywhere near your bathroom, but you basically have to begin the entire bedtime routine over again.

And that's when you realize what genius, what ingenuity, a tracking device would be. Far more useful than, say, a cotton gin.

So get to it, people. Time, it is a wasting.

P.S. To end things on a note of hope and optimism and sheer innovation so brilliant it may frighten you, I lead you here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Friendly tip

I have a... well, uh, we'll call her a friend, even though she's not especially friendly.

Stay with me.

This... friend has a propensity for dropping by about once a month, and it's never pretty. One minute, I'm reasonably happy and mellow, but then she arrives and I feel all shouty and screechy.

It's fun for everyone, really.

This has been going on for years... like, since I was thirteen? Um, yeah. So you'd think I'd have developed better coping skills by now, but: not so much.

The worst bit is that it's almost always a complete and total surprise when she... shows up. I mean, if I knew she was coming, I'd have baked her a cake, you know? Euphemistically speaking, of course.

However, I have another friend.

No, really: I do have another friend. This is where I quit being coy for just a second.

This friend told me about a web site she found that's specifically organized for tracking the travel plans of guests everywhere.

Now I get an e-mail every month that says: WATCH OUT. Your friend, she is en route.

And even though I'm still not overjoyed to be the recipient of this visit (although, for the record, the alternative would also make me shouty and screechy, and not necessarily in a celebratory way), I'm at least grateful to have a heads-up.

And I just felt compelled to share this on the exceptionally off-chance that you also have a friend who needs tracking.

Whew. I'm glad we had this little talk.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Season's greetings

I don't know how it goes in your neighborhood, but 'round these parts, there's one day a month that warrants a little extra excitement: Big Trash Day.

The muppers love Big Trash Day because they know there's a possibility that they'll catch a glimpse of the Big Trash dump truck and its counterpart, a flatbed carrying a mobile crane.

On our street! In front of our house! Can you believe our good fortune?

Trey loves Big Trash Day because it provides him with an excuse to pitch a wide assortment of junk that I'd otherwise cling to for life.

A broken sconce from a house we haven't lived in for four years. A cast-iron skillet that's rusted almost beyond recognition. A high chair, still bearing witness to its last meal, long missing crucial parts. A cardboard box full of yellowed notes I wrote and passed to my friends in the eighth grade.

It doesn't matter how much I whine, bargain or plead that I could fix that sconce, if only I knew how to fix things. Mercilessly, Trey piles them by the curb.

And there they sit, until I sneak back out to rescue the items I'm positive I can't live without.

Did you know that I did some of my best writing in the eighth grade? It's true.

But today, I was so grateful for the advent of Big Trash Day that I didn't retrieve one thing from the heap. Because today, I was finally able to say good-bye to the holidays. And I don't just mean Christmas.

Travel back in time with me for a moment, won't you?

It's a few days before Christmas. The muppers and I are eating a late breakfast, so late it may as well be lunch, when the doorbell rings.

For a second, we all glance at each other with raised eyebrows. We're in our pajamas, the house is a wreck and we're not expecting any visitors. Hmm. Curious.

The only way to sate our curiosity is to, yes, go to the door. So we all trample through the front room, each of the muppers desperately hoping to reach the door first, because hearing your siblings wail in defeat absolutely never gets old.

As I make my own dash after them, hoping to separate victors and also-rans before blows are exchanged, I catch a glimpse of a FedEx truck through the front window. Ah. A package. An early delivery from Santa, perhaps?

I battle through the scrum to open the door a few inches and crane my head outside, looking for a big brown box.

Nothing: I see nothing. So I swallow my pride and walk out onto the front porch in my shabbiest jammies, and this time I really look. Still nothing.

I'm starting to think the whole thing's a joke when the FedEx guy, who's just about to drive off, pushes open his side window, grins at me and bellows: "Check the pumpkins!"

Then he snickers and peels rubber.

Because yes, on December 22, my porch gourds are still artfully arranged as though trick-or-treaters could show up at any moment.

Except that, in an attempt to hide the pumpkins and acknowledge to passers-by that Christmas, it is observed here, I have laid a decorative evergreen wreath and garland atop the gourds.

As the FedEx guy has helpfully pointed out to me, I'm not fooling anyone with this ruse. The bright orange pumpkins are clearly visible beneath the foliage, and provide a perfect paperweight for the envelope he's left behind.

It's a humiliating moment. It's the moment when I realize that I probably won't be participating in BooMama's Christmas Tour of Homes. Again.

It's the moment that brings us to this morning in January. This morning when I actually make, for the first time in memory, my own contribution to the Big Trash heap. It's a colorful heap that includes a broken sconce. A rusty skillet. A dilapidated high chair.

And eight pumpkins, lined up beside a pile of dried-out evergreen.

Now: if I can just get my Christmas cards in the mail...

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Moving pictures

Please, don't ask me to analyze why it is that I struggle so with change. Just know that I've always been like this, the happy, beady-eyed ostrich with my head stuck firmly but comfortably in the sand whenever a new page threatens to turn.

My trio of muppers wasn't born just yesterday?
Pshaw: they're infants! Infants, I tell you.

Our five-year-old is ready for sleepovers now?
Begone, and take your blasphemy elsewhere.

You suggest, as gently as possible, that perhaps it's time to exchange cribs for big-kid beds?
But they're not even three yet! For five whole days!

And you have the audacity to suggest a movie for our Sunday afternoon entertainment?
Well, sure. Why not? Afterward, we can stop by the tattoo parlor.

Okay: so I was really pushing it on that last one. And yes, I knew it, too.

But suffice it to say that it was a rough weekend for the ostrich. The muppers, however, they've never known such glee. And their cute daddy's been wearing a smug grin about it all.

First, there was, in fact, the sleepover. Totally unprepared was I to receive a call from our favorite neighbor family, inviting Carter to stay the night with his friend Daniel.

With some prodding from Trey, I mulled it over. Thought about how much fun he and not-quite-five-year-old Daniel have whenever they play, whether it's at the park, on the soccer field or at either of our houses.

Thought about how highly we regard Daniel's family. Realized that sleepovers probably would be happening sooner or later, and what better way to begin than at a house that's just a few doors down from ours, in the event of a midnight phone call asking for a return to one's own bed?

So, with only a shadow of hesitation remaining, I pitched the idea to Carter, who was pretty excited about the whole shebang. And, of course, the boys had a great time, there was no midnight call and Trey and I were stunned at how quiet and melancholy our house seemed with one less person around.

One milestone down. Two to go.

Finally feeling better after a week of infirmity, Trey woke up this morning with a mission: to clean out the garage. Not to clean out the whole thing, mind you, but to create a little space. A little space that, just coincidentally, could hold two cribs, if two cribs were to be deemed unnecessary.

As of tonight, anyway, the space is still just a space. The cribs are still in place. But the clock, it is ticking over my head. Which is in the sand. Sigh.

Last but not least: the big screen.

For weeks now, Carter's been asking to see a movie. It's a reasonable request, I suppose; he's only ever seen one movie in a theater, and that was nearly two years ago. And my no-media-is-good-media parental stance of old no longer has legs.

Spencer and Katie, they had yet to experience the cinema. As a result, no doubt, of my aforementioned stingy attitude toward children's programming, they're pretty easily rattled by anything more intense than an episode of Little Einsteins.

Oh, sure: they've seen The Jungle Book. And Toy Story. Cars, too. But each of these viewings has been, at some point, punctuated by wails of "Too scary! Too scary!"

So we try not to mention Cinderella when Spencer's in earshot. Curious George, the same movie Carter loved as a three-year-old, has been deemed verboten. And they still speak of Little Mermaid in hushed, awed tones.

So, an actual movie in a real theater, sitting in chairs that don't belong to us and eating exotic snacks like popcorn and Twizzler: it's a pretty big deal. Choices must be carefully weighed and analyzed.

In the end, the decision was made for us. Somehow, Carter had learned of a nifty movie called The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything, and, whaddayaknow? There was a two o'clock showing close to our house.

It certainly didn't hurt that BooMama had given the flick an enthusiastic kid-friendly review, because I had no firsthand knowledge of the movie's talking, singing vegetables.

You know what? It was really not a bad way to spend ninety minutes and, well, a hundred bucks. Not that I'm counting.

Predictably, more popcorn was spilled than eaten. Multiple potty breaks were required. Whispering voices got louder and louder as the movie wore on. And "Too scary! Too scary!" was invoked repeatedly, to the delight, I am sure, of our fellow moviegoers.

But when the ostrich gingerly raised her head, she saw three gorgeous, happy kiddos entranced by the pictures on the big screen, (mostly) loving the whole experience. She saw them growing right before her very eyes, and she knew that it was good.

She saw a father who didn't even blink when his children, the lights of his life, used his shirt as a giant napkin for their small buttery hands. Who laughed when they got the giggles, and wrapped his arms around them when they were frightened.

She was moved. It was moving. And I'm not saying that I'm ever going to embrace change, but: my feathers that were so ruffled before? Are feeling pretty smooth right about now.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Alter ego

Filling in the blanks of my passport application the other day, I found myself pondering some classic existential questions, such as: who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going?

The process was mentally taxing at times, but ultimately rewarding. Kind of like this meme, now making the rounds.

1. ROCK STAR NAME (first pet + current car): Maggie Odyssey
2. GANGSTA NAME (favorite ice cream flavor + favorite cookie): Peppermint Double Stuf
3. “FLY Guy/Girl” NAME (first initial of first name + first three letters of last name): A-Fra

4. DETECTIVE NAME (favorite color + favorite animal): Red Giraffe
5. SOAP OPERA NAME (middle name + city where you were born): Katherine Ft. Walton
6. STAR WARS NAME (first three letters of last name + first two letters of first): Fra Am
7. SUPERHERO NAME (“The” + second favorite color + favorite drink): The Green Mojito
8. NASCAR NAME (grandfathers' first names): Sammy Spencer

9. STRIPPER NAME (name of favorite perfume/cologne/scent + favorite candy): Twizzler Bulgari
10. WITNESS PROTECTION NAME (mother’s and father’s middle names): Marion Irene
11. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME (fifth grade teacher’s last name + a major city that starts with the same letter): Miami Mermelstein

12. SPY NAME (favorite season/holiday + flower): Spring Freesia
13. CARTOON NAME (favorite fruit + article of clothing you’re wearing right now + “ie” or “y”): Mango Cargosie
14. HIPPIE NAME (what you ate for breakfast + favorite tree): Waffle Sycamore
15. YOUR ROCKSTAR TOUR NAME (“The” + favorite hobby/craft + favorite weather + “Tour”): The Bloggin’ Snow Tour

Feel free to share your own dissociated identities in the comment section...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Happy trails

This week, I've had travel on the brain. I'll offer up a more detailed explanation tomorrow; tonight, I'm much too enthralled with the distant past to chat about the near future.

Unfortunately: my memory is, as a general rule, incredibly spotty and unreliable. And the distant past, it is so very distant that I find myself easily confused.

Was it me who sat alone in a cafe in Florence, scarfing down pizza after inspecting every inch of the Galleria degli Uffizi? Or have I just borrowed the memory from a movie seen long ago?

And so I turn to a small stack of woefully incomplete travel journals.


EDIT: But before I can blather about the scintillating details held within said journals, my daughter awakes. Sobbing. Calling out for me.

And so I fetch her. Carry her back to my bed. Snuggle her up between her daddy and me, and begin to snooze.

Within minutes, I hear the sound of her brother, staggering through the dark house, weeping that he has been left alone. And so it is that he joins us in bed.

The two of them wriggle and squirm between the two of us until their daddy, who is a patient man who still, has his limits, carries the two escapees back to their room.

And they actually stay put, for a couple of hours, until the process, it repeats again.

So my travel memories from another life will have to wait for now.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

It's so easy

Oh, yes, ma'am: I fully confess that I am phoning in tonight's post.

It's not that I'm trying to make a total mockery of the Blog 365 movement. And it's certainly not that I don't have actual words of questionable value and potential entertainment that I'm eager to share in this space.

It's just that all I can think about, ever since reading this, is:

Beep beep, beep beep, beep beep.
Beep beep, beep beep, beep beep.

It's a subtle reference, I know, so allow me to share the embedded earworm in its entirety. Take a gander. See if the same thing doesn't happen to you.

And then, by all means, feel free to thank BooMama personally. Who knows? You may even score a new household appliance in the deal.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


It's late and I'm weary after an evening of flying solo while Trey's away. But before I hit the hay, a wee bit o' happiness:

This morning had me marching the muppers into school today, after an absurdly long winter break.

I'd anticipated trepidation, maybe even a meltdown. I was prepared, if necessary, to peel various children off of my shins and dump them, unceremoniously, into the outstretched arms of their teachers.

I fretted: if they banded together, could they scare up some industrial glue and affix themselves to heavy pieces of furniture?

Nah. All worries of a dramatic farewell dissipated when the three of them gleefully ran down the hallway to find their classrooms before I'd even navigated my way through the school lobby.

Now, running in the halls is an outright violation of the school's rules, and generally prompts a lecture from me, if only to keep up appearances in front of the other parents.

But today, they got a pass.

And I? I got groceries. Without miniature accompaniment. Oh, happiness.

Meanwhile, the amazing, talented, indispensible Celli managed to work some magic on the house, which we'd rendered a complete and total pigsty in her two-week absence. I like to think it went a little something like this.

So: happy kids. Clean house. The only thing missing is Prince Charming, and he's promised to be home for dinner tomorrow.

Cue the orchestra and roll the closing credits. On this day, at least, we lived happily ever after. The end.

Monday, January 07, 2008


When I believed, on Saturday, that my better half was deeply, deeply relaxed... and not, in reality, beset by some malicious strain of rhinovirus... I suggested that we might take a jaunt to a local museum for a much-needed influx of culture.

Gamely, he agreed. And so we set forth to the Nasher, haven to a rather extraordinary collection of sculpture not far from our hotel.

What a sophisticated destination, I thought, for two adults without a care, or an apparent diaper bag, in the world.

That's what I thought. Until we walked through the minimalist lobby, and smack-dab into Kiddie Central.

Didn't we know that on the first Saturday of every month, the museum opens its doors to families, with giveaways from Target?

Oh, I can assure you: we did not. And so it was quite the shock to discover that the normally serene, airy space was chock-full of children in various stages of indifference toward the arts.

For example. Zigzagging through the main gallery, which boasted an impressive collection of larger-than-life zaftig female nudes by Gaston Lachaise, were two adorable bow-headed girls in matching pink dresses.

Close on their heels: a mother with her jaw set and an all-too-familiar fire in her eyes. Joining in the chase was a slightly older boy, arms and legs akimbo, and a handsome but, I reckoned, slightly bewildered dad.

In a flash, the mother had all three kiddos lined up and, with finger pointed, began firing off admonishments and warnings. When the lecture was finished, the children looked unabashed, and their mother rolled her eyes heavenward.

"Let me guess," Trey said. "A five-year-old and three-year-old twins?"

"YES!" was the exasperated reply. We allowed that we were familiar with the dynamic.

We commiserated for a bit, trading war stories and laughing together at the sheer insanity of it all, while agreeing that it was absolutely impossible to imagine life any other way.

After a minute, we said our goodbyes and wandered off toward the outdoor cafe for a quick snack before exploring the sculpture garden. I glanced back over my shoulder and noticed one of the girls in pink looking after us, holding her dad's hand.

And in that instant, I felt evenly cleaved between wanting to savor this rare afternoon of just-us time... and wanting to dash back to the car and drive home to hug the three who make up our family of five.

We stayed, of course. We savored. We even had a little fun with the camera: check it out.

But I have to say: the welcome-home hugs were pretty unforgettable.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


So. Shortly after we returned from our brief but loverly jaunt across town, it became clear: Trey's omelette was not, in fact, laced with sedatives.

No: Trey was, unfortunately, laced with ick. This particular brand of ick has rendered him either unconscious or coughing uncontrollably for the last thirtyish hours.

It's been fun for all, I assure you.

An original, introspective post? I don't have it in me tonight. But a meme? I can totally tackle.

This one's been making the rounds for a few days, but: well, no one's ever accused me of being prompt. And technically, we're still within the first week of the new year, so it's marginally seasonal.

Hey: beggars can't be choosers. Here, then, is my retrospective view of the past twelve months.

1. What did you do in 2007 that you’d never done before?
Purchased a minivan. Housed a complete and total stranger. Took an honest-to-goodness family vacation, just the five of us, and utterly adored it.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
For two years running now, I have, apparently, been too consumed with fielding a meme than formulating a list of good intentions. Perhaps this is for the best.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Well, my initial response to this was: yes, my friend and former neighbor Kirsten. But I'm inclined to discount her, because she moved oh, so far away, practically to Oklahoma, and took the baby with her. Harumph.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
First: my fabulous, funny, one-of-a-kind great-aunt Josephine. Who singlehandedly made the world a brighter, more vivacious place and who, I kid you not, moved from Mississippi to Dallas at her first opportunity "because of Neiman Marcus."

And then: Trey's beautiful, gracious, strong of will and sound of mind grandmother. Two amazing ladies, both beloved and much missed.

5. What countries did you visit?
In my memories, supplemented by dusty old travel journals: several. In reality: just this one.

6. What would you like to have in 2008 that you lacked in 2007?
Patience. Perspective. Grace.

7. What dates from 2007 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Two especially happy birthdays stand out: my grandmother's ninetieth, and Trey's fortieth.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Motherhood: Now In Its Fifth Smash Year!

9. What was your biggest failure?
Seriously? Feeling like a fraud, a flunkie, a flibbertigibbet of a mom much too often.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Oh, I suppose I might have busted my face doing yoga.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I badgered Trey into giving me an iPhone for Christmas. It's unnatural, how much I love it.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Wow: I couldn't possibly single out just one person. So I'll begin with Nanny, for kicking it nonagenerian-style. Sarah and Carl, for becoming affianced. Jenny, for taking Heroes for Children to new heights. Friends and family who moved into new and improved houses over the year. And, of course, Trey, for continuing to humor, comfort and adore me against the odds.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
I won't say me, because Trey will insist I'm too hard on myself. So... not to kick a girl when she's down, but I have to call out Britney Spears. I just can't watch the trainwreck anymore; it's become gruesome.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Have you by any chance checked into the tuition for a Montessori preschool lately? Pretty absurd, huh? Now take that number and triple it. Gulp.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The truth? I felt incredibly ambivalent about sending S and K to school this year. Yeah, I knew they were ready. Yeah, I knew I was ready. However, actually making the leap was a tough move for me.

But. BUT. I LOVE THIS SCHOOL. Love it. Love the teachers, love the classrooms, love the families. Have oh, so completely adored the social activities for parents. But most especially, have been thrilled to the point of tears at seeing my three babies happy to be there. Learning there. Thriving there. And the truth? I thank God for there.

16. What song will always remind you of 2007?
The Little Einsteins theme song.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? Happier, I'd like to think.

b) thinner or fatter? Definitely fatter. The only weight-loss plan that's ever worked for me was birthing twins, then breastfeeding them for a year. Can't do that again, unfortunately.

c) richer or poorer? I'd have to double-check this with my accountant, Trey, but I feel confident in guessing that the answer is: poorer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Fun mommy stuff.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Unfun mommy stuff.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
First with Sarah and Carl, the day before Christmas. Then just us, on Christmas morning. Then in Houston, on Christmas evening. Then in San Antonio, a few days after Christmas.

I'm pretty sure we're responsible for denuding an entire forest with all of the gift wrap we discarded.

21. Did you fall in love in 2007?
Times four.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
We finally, finally found a show we both enjoyed: 30 Rock. And then the writers went on strike. So now we're back to documentaries about manufacturing (him) and Sex and the City reruns (me). Sigh.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I have no doubt that you're a super nice guy, James Blunt, but your voice? Has the exact same effect on me as sharp, pointy fingernails scraping a newly cleaned chalkboard. Sorry.

24. What was the best book you read?
Eat, Pray, Love.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Did you know that you can buy this device that stores electronic files of music? I didn't before. But now I do. It's, like, the most awesome thing ever.

26. What did you want and get?
For my friend sha to come to Dallas. And how much fun did we have? SO MUCH FUN.

27. What did you want and not get?
To take the whole fam damily to Chicago and show the muppers what winter really looks like. Another Longhorn national championship would have been a nice touch, too. Maybe next year, on both counts.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
On the big screen? Waitress: now three for three. On the small screen? Knocked Up. Left the screen before we got a chance to see it, and I'm still feeling peevish? The Darjeeling Limited.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Good grief, my memory's getting spotty in my old age: I was 37, and I'm sure it was properly commemorated, but I can't recall a single detail.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I can't immediately think of one thing that might fit that tall order, but I am filled with remorse and regret that I didn't spend more time recording the muppers' wee precious voices and hilarious bon mots.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2007?
Ann Taylor Loft. A size larger than I'd like it to be. And dull, don't-look-at-me shoes. Perhaps a revamp, it is in order.

32. What kept you sane?
My posse, my peeps, my homegirls. You know who you are.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I might have a little platonic crush on Barack Obama.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
The upcoming election. Two hundred and thirty-one days till the convention. Three hundred and seventy-nine days till, for better or worse, the Oval Office has a new resident.

35. Who did you miss?
A host of lost friends, both near and far, but Debelah nabs the top spot.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
Officially meeting Tracey, off the blog and in the flesh: an absolute highlight. Getting to know Jenny. Meeting Deb and loving her instantly. Ditto Jenn and Stacy and Megan. Kelly, too. Fab women: fab year.

Psst: hey, St. Richard and nodnarB! You guys rock, too.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2007.
The Neti pot, she is tricky.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
I'll bet we've been together for a million years...
And I'll bet we'll be together for a million more.
It's like I started breathing on the night we kissed,
And I can't remember what I ever did before.

Because, well, there really ain't no nothing we can't love each other through. So here's to the F5 in '08. Sha la la la.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Petit dejeuner

Oh, don't worry: I shan't bore you with a full description of our sumptuous pied-a-terre.

I know you don't care to read about the delightful eighty (oh, yes ma'am: eighty) minute massage at ZaSpa.

Details of the lovely food and lively people-watching at Dragonfly? My lips are sealed.

But I will share with you a recap of breakfast. Because it is, after all, the most important meal of the day.
So here's what breakfast looked like this morning, as we sat in jammies on our private balcony, soaking in the bright blue sky and the city soundtrack, with nary a sippy cup in sight.

You know, it wasn't half bad.

And this: this is what Trey looked like after consuming his omelette.

Which was, apparently, laced with sedatives.

And yes, it's also a self-portrait. Because I'm not quite brave enough to post a snapshot of me sans makeup and avec thoroughly unkempt hair.

So you'll just have to imagine me looking naturally beautiful and radiant. And deeply relaxed and happy.

Merci beaucoup.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Bla bla bla

Well, here we are.

Napa? Nada.
No thanks to the Mamas and the Papas.
But now we're going to ZaZa.
Which ain't no ca-ca.
Nana says: de nada!
So we tell the muppers na na na na.

Till tomorrow: ta-ta.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Dream state

All the leaves are brown,
And the sky is gray.
I've been for a walk
On a winter's day.
I'd be safe and warm
If I was in L.A.
California dreamin'
On such a winter's day...

So: not this weekend, then. Maybe in March.


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Step it up

Confucius say: the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

So it was that, armed with zen wisdom, newly minted resolutions, and bright and shiny intentions, I began my day with that first, all-important step.

And promptly tripped, falling flat on my face.

Atop my to-do list today? Return a few books to the library.

Minor details, potentially pertinent to the tale: sixteen books, there were, several of which had been in my possession since early 2005.

I'll start this new year off on the right foot, I thought, by wiping the slate (and, by extension, half a bookshelf) clean, and returning these poor, hostage books to my fellow library patrons.

Who have, I am sure, been waiting for three years, with bated breath, to get their grubby hands on a free copy of Southern Fried Divorce.

After major wrangling, multiple wardrobe changes, bribes of all shapes and sizes, occasional threats and some yelling, which only served to exacerbate my ill-conceived hair-of-the-dog hangover, I finally piled the muppers into the minivan, and steered toward the general direction of our neighborhood library.

Once we reached the grounds, I reviewed a brief list of Rules and Expectations.

- There will be no running madly through the parking lot. Or the lobby. Or the stacks.

- We will use Inside Voices. Which means that our evil pirate cackle, the one we've been refining for weeks now, will need to stay within the confines of the minivan.

- The librarians neither anticipate nor appreciate our assistance in reshelving errant books.

- And no matter how pretty the pictures are that we find inside the library's books, we are not, under any circumstances, to tear the pictures out and present them as gifts to Mommy.

Although I recited the Library Commandments in my Most Stern and Scary Voice, occasionally pausing for a pop quiz to gauge comprehension levels ("Now, if you sweep the contents of an entire bookshelf to the floor, then shriek, 'STRIKE!,' what will Mommy do? That's RIGHT: Mommy will put Lightning McQueen into her purse for an all-day time-out."), I was plagued with the fear that my charges were merely humoring me by nodding their heads and looking wide-eyed and adorable.

Confucius say: a mother's intuition, you can steer a ship by it.

Mayhem is what we brought to our library today. Sheer, unadultered mayhem, as the muppers tumbled through the front door in a giggling heap of arms and legs and Outside Voices.

Quickly, I recognized that my best course of action would be to return the books, clear my fine and get the heck out of dodge in record time. I settled the muppers as best I could into the children's section, and prayed mightily for a quick line at the counter.

My prayer went unanswered as I shuffled for an eternity while pretending to turn a deaf ear to the din emanating from the kiddie corral. Or perhaps it was some form of penance for keeping my big bag of books out of circulation for so lengthy a period.

That would, of course, have been in addition to having the annoyed librarian issue me a tsk-tsk and a withering glare as I wrote out a check for sixty dollars. And ninety cents.

Penance served: the deed was done. Tail tucked, poorer but wiser, I crossed the room to fetch the children.

Katie had culled a neat stack of books, all in Spanish, that she wanted me to read. Right now. NOW, Mommy.

"Oh, sweetheart, I'm so sorry," I said, in my most impressive Inside Voice. "Mommy fully intends to learn Spanish some day, but right now: nada. Do you think you can find Maisy en la Granja in Italian?"

Before she could answer, I glanced around the nook and realized that, naturally, Spencer was missing. What never fails to entertain him continues to scare the crap out of me. My heart now reflexively leaps into my throat whenever those blond curls scamper out of sight.

Thankfully, I heard a giggle in the distance right before my palms began to sweat in earnest. The chase, it was on.

I had just about cornered him when I heard snickering near the travel section. Carter, who'd been working on a puzzle when last I saw him, had decided to join in the fun.

With impressive speed, Katie abandoned Maisy and chose a different quadrant of the room in which to hide.

Is there a more descriptive phrase in the English language than "herding kittens?" Or, en espanol, reunion de gatos?

Ciertamente: non.

After an interminable game of chase that had me using, ineffectively, my Outside Voice, I corralled my offspring and marched them out of the door and into the minivan.

And then, after two separate claims of Needing to Go, only one of which proved fruitful, out of the minivan and back through the door.

At last. Sing it, Etta: at long last, they were buckled. I was sweaty. The doors were closed, the vehicle was in gear.

Tummies were grumbling, so we limped across town to Chick-Fil-A. Morsels of chicken were consumed, indoor playground equipment was put to the test, and, just for a moment, this mommy was relaxed.

Until Spencer sought me out and, with a mournful look on his sweet face, took my hand and said, "Green Dog is sad."

Oh, yeah. Green Dog, Spencer's constant companion, was sad indeed. Hiding in some corner of the library, patiently waiting for us to recover him. Sad, lonely, loyal Green Dog.

So it was that we retraced our steps. And eventually, after a joyful reunion with el perro verde, made our way back home.

Confucius say: the journey of a thousand miles? Can wait till next week. When school begins again.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Is it because I am, at the very heart of it all, a masochist?

Or am I taking the easy way out because I'm still much too bleary of eye and hazy of mind, after last night's festivities, to type up a proper new-year post?

Is it just an excuse to keep that bright and cheerful NaBloPoMo badge hanging out in my sidebar a little longer, like my porch gourds?

Or does it seem like a less taxing and infinitely more feasible resolution than eating less and exercising more?

Thank heavens I have one. whole. year to examine my motives, my navel, and my ability to survive, nay: thrive! on not quite enough sleep.

That's right, people. I've officially accepted the challenge to blog every day in 2008.

Oh, please: join me, won't you?