Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Another year older

And today is my birthday. So far, one Happy Birthday phone call from BFF and lots of birthday wishes from online friends.

It's a low key birthday. Not a particularly special number. I'm throwing an easy dinner in the crockpot in a bit and maybe there will be cake. Perhaps I'll go to bed early. No parties. I'm getting old.

I don't feel my age. Most days I look around and think "How am I a grown-up? I have 4 kids, a husband and a mortgage and I don't feel like a grown-up. I'm still 17!"

But really, I'm not. Not even close. I'm starting to notice laugh lines around my eyes and I've been trying rather unsuccessfully to cover some gray hair for months. I am closer to 40 than to 30 now and I'm still trying to decide how I feel about that.

So Happy Birthday to me. Here's to another great year ahead!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Do you have a best friend?

If you don't I highly recommend getting one.

Today is my BFF's birthday. She is not just my friend. She is truly my sister. Not biologically, maybe, but my sister, none the less.

She is my co-conspirator, my confidant, my secret keeper, my good news sharer, my problem solver, my good listener, my gossip buddy, my fellow Disneyland junkie, my cheerleader, my kids' auntie, and just my all around go-to person.

She helps me when I'm sick (I vomited on her front porch after Husband and my first date. It's a looong story) She's seen me through some disappointments (broken hearts and a miscarriage, to name a few); watched some of my children be born, helped me pack and unpack various houses, listens to my craziness and always, ALWAYS makes me feel better.

Her husband has joked that we are two girls with one brain. I'm not sure he's wrong. Independently of each other we have: chosen the same flooring for our homes, chosen the same clothes for ourselves and our kids, liked the same baby names and once we even discovered we owned the same underwear! One day when we were going out I got to her house and we were wearing identical outfits....she had to go change. We've had the same home in the same neighborhood with the same floorplan. More often than not we share the same point of view and I cannot count the number of times I've had the phone in my hand to dial her number when it rings with her on the other end. We can finish each other's sentences.

But as similar as we are, we have our differences which make us good for each other too. She is an overthinker and can't get out of her own brain, so I draw her back out into the real world. I am the one who gets all whirled up about things and she talks me down. She likes country music, I cannot stand it, but she would rather die than go to the opera, which is a dream of mine. She loves her junkie reality shows, I'd sooner watch the Biography channel. She can decorate the hell out of anything, my house is an empty slate. She's neat and me? Well, not so much. What comes naturally and creatively for her is a struggle for me, but she makes me strive to do better.

We completely compliment each other.

Am I sounding cheesy and silly yet?

Plain and simple, she's the best friend I could ever want.

Happy Birthday Lisa Lou. I'm not sure what I would ever do without you. I don't plan to ever find out.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


Christmas has come and gone. There were gifts and giggles aplenty, even some happy tears (thanks Mom and Dad!) but just like every Christmas, the morning did not pass without a comment about this:

That is our tree and that is our Christmas duck on top.

Yes, a Christmas duck.

And yes, I will explain.

A long time ago, before I was around, Husband's niece Chelsie gave him that duck for Christmas. Her mother had taken her to the Dollar Tree so she could purchase a gift for her beloved uncle with her own money. And Chelsie's eight year old self really felt that he would love that ugly plastic duck.

Amazingly enough he did love that duck, because he is a good uncle and because he thought it was kind of a funny gift. Remember when cordless phone bases had those super long antennae? Right. The duck resided there for a very long time, like it had been dive bombing the phone and became impaled on the antenna. When I moved in, I let the duck remain. I loved that he loved his niece so much that the duck was part of his permanent decor.

So our first Christmas together came and we went to Apple Hill and chose and chopped the perfect tree. We brought it home and decorated it with the most eclectic mix of white lights, niece and nephew made ornaments, childhood ornaments, Mickey Mouse ornaments and colored ball ornaments from Michaels.

But no tree topper.

Because we cannot agree.

At all.

I wanted a star. My parents always had one of those weird peak things on the top of our trees and my whole life I had wanted a beautiful star.

But no, he wanted an angel. He grew up with angels on his tree. He had an angel (it's ugly, of course) and why get something else when he has an angel already?

"Because I want a star. Stars are pretty."

"But a star has no meaning for you. I've always had an angel."

"A star would be a new tradition for our family."

"Why spend the money? I already have an angel."

So this continued for DAYS into the Christmas season; him wanting that ugly angel and me wanting a pretty new star. Until finally I had had it and said:

"I'd rather put that ugly plastic duck on top of the tree than that stupid angel."

Up went the duck. Plain the first year; the next year we tied a bit of Christmas garland around his skinny little neck and some Christmas ribbon around his birdy legs.

He resides in a bin 11 months of the year now, but for the glorious month of December when our Chelsie's fantastic gift to her uncle has a special, permanent place in our Christmas traditions, right on top of our tree.

And that is the story of our plastic duck tree topper. I like it. It makes me feel happy to know that we have such a unique tradition. Chelsie is married now, with a husband and a home and a Christmas tree of her own, but I love that she is always with us at Christmas time; by way of the duck, the most unique and awesome tree topper ever.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Bad Mommy/Good Sister

We have an elf in our house. His name is Funny. For most of December Funny lives with us. At night, when the kids are asleep, Funny goes back to the North Pole and tells Santa all about the kids' behavior. Then, when they get up in the morning, they have to find where Funny "landed" when he returned. He's been in the refrigerator, the Christmas tree...even the car!

Sometimes Funny is naughty, like when he toilet papered the bathroom or when he spilled cornflakes all over the table. Sometimes he plays with their toys, like when we found him sitting next to a tower of Legos StinkyMan had cleaned up just the night before. But most of the time, Funny is mild and just a brief morning game.

I have forgotten to put Funny in a new spot on more than one occasion. I'll wake up in the middle of the night, realize I've forgotten and trudge downstairs to put him on his latest perch. I have also had to do it quickly in the morning, before the kids start looking for him.

Before I go any further, I need to tell you that Curly is fully aware that it is all me. She knows Funny is just a toy. She knows he doesn't go to the North Pole (although she does believe in Santa still) and she knows that this is all for StinkyMan's and Peanut's benefit and she happily goes on the morning Funny hunt.

So Saturday night I forgot to stash Funny somewhere. I woke up at ten Sunday morning with that as my first thought (It was my day to sleep in.) I lay there for a good twenty minutes trying to think up what excuse I would give for Funny being in the EXACT SAME SPOT as the day before. And all I could think to say was that the kids had been so good he hadn't had to go see Santa at the North Pole.

So I went downstairs and was greeted by StinkyMan, who grabbed my hand to show me where Funny was.

Well, he wasn't where I thought he would be. Nope, he had moved to the kitchen counter and had spilled puzzle pieces all over the counter and was making a puzzle. StinkyMan jumped up and down with excitement. "Funny was making a puzzle! He made a mess!"

Quizzically I looked at Husband who was pretty much not paying any attention to the Funny business at hand. He must be responsible, right?

Until I looked at Curly. She quietly pointed at herself and mouthed "I did it."

I nearly cried. Her mama had dropped the ball and my sweet big girl picked it up and ran with it. She knew her brother would be looking and she knew what had to be done and she did it.

I gave her high fives and big hugs and told her over and over (quietly of course so our cover wouldn't be blown) how very, very proud I was of her and what a wonderful big sister she is.

I feel awed by my six year old. I am always proud to be her mom, but in moments like this I feel especially lucky to have a kid like her.

Way to go, Baby. Way to go.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I love you but

StinkyMan adores BabyGirl with a sweetness that is a mother's dream and pride. Today he was rolling around on the floor with her making her laugh when he sat up and said to me "BabyGirl wants to marry me."

"She does? How do you know?"

"She told me. She is the first girl who wants to marry me."

"Well she must really love you, then."

"Yeah." Then he lies back down with his head right next to hers and whispers "Baby, I can't marry you. I love you, though. You're a cute baby."


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

sing it!

When Curly was younger she sang wrong words to "Deck the Halls." It went something like "Deck the halls with balls of bally. Ba-la-la-laaaa-la-la-la-la."

Peanut sings the wrong words to Jingle Bells "Tinker Bells, Tinker Bells, Tinker all the way. Oh how fun...Tinker Bells, Tinker Bells, Tinker all the way. Oh how fun...Tinker Bells...." You get the idea.

And then there is StinkyMan who doesn't sing the wrong words, he can't be bothered to know them in the first place. All of his songs sound like this:

"Deck the halls with burp of burpy, fa-la-la-la-la-la burp, burp, burp, burp."


"Santa Claus is coming to buuuuuurp!"

or my personal favorite:

"On the 1st day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a burp burp in a burp tree!"

Friends, this is what I mean when I say boys are a whole different ball game than girls. This humor, I think, is within them. It's the very boyness of being a male shining through. While Curly is appalled and Peanut giggles, they would NOT sing that on their own. That right belongs to the solitary brother of the bunch.

I suppose someday he will out grow it. For now it's fine, because secretly it makes me laugh. It's so naughty in a completely innocent way, that I have let it slide. Some battles are just not worth fighting. This is one of them. And it's quite the Christmas memory in the making.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

So Much Fun

We had such a great time in Disneyland.

Curly discovered a love of roller coasters and she and I loopty looped and screamed until the park closed a few nights.

StinkyMan loved to play Buzz LightYear AstroBlasters and Toy Story Mania. He and Husband were the last riders off Toy Story Mania on our final night.

Peanut loved to spin herself silly on Teacups and Ladybugs and was just the cutest thing you have ever seen wearing her 3-D Toy Story Mania glasses. And no one else was allowed to touch the steering wheel or the controls. She would do it herself, thankyouverymuch.

And sweet BabyGirl was so good, viewing most of Disneyland from her stroller, but delighting in taking off running in Bugs Life, where it's generally fairly quiet and extremely kid friendly.

Grammy had a wonderful time, as did Auntie who joined us from Vegas. It's nice to have one adult per allows for everyone to do pretty much everything together, plus one to stay by the stroller if needed.

Husband had fun as well, I think. Let me tell you, after nearly 10 years of marriage, there is still something really amazing about that guy. Disneyland Daddy is HOT and the kids adored riding rides with him and he made it even more fun, if that's possible.

And me? I loved it. I love the place, the atmosphere, the decor, the rides, the customer service, the fireworks, the "snow", the awe on my kids faces, the sparkle in my husband's eye, the grin on my mom's face and the time my sis got to spend with my kids.

I can't wait until next year.

Monday, December 7, 2009

What's next?

Disneyland! That's right, we leave at the first sliver of dawn for Disneyland. It's hard to know who is the most excited. I think that award might just go to Grammy, but the kids and Husband and I are right there with her.

There is still much to do even though Husband went ahead and flew down there this morning to work in the area taking all the heavy luggage with him. (Thanks Babe!) All I have to do is get the kids and myself on the plane (like it's that easy!)

This is the true kick off to our Christmas season. The housesitters are arranged, the errands are (nearly) completed, the mouse ears are packed and we could not be more ready.

My mom (the famous Grammy) and I used to do this trip together, just the 2 of us, before kids. Then I had Curly and we went with the 3 of us. Husband was never convinced it was as wonderful as I said. Then I had StinkyMan and he remained unconvinced for just a bit longer. Finally a few years back I talked him into it. Now, he wouldn't miss it for the world.

There IS something magic about Disneyland for all ages. It's even MORE magical through the eyes of the children. It makes your heart feel full and young and carefree. Watching the faces of your children light up at the sight of a princess or a mouse or giggling hysterically as you spin yourself sick on teacups is the best Christmas present I could ever want.

So watch out Disneyland. We are about to descend upon the House of Mouse and we are amped and ready!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Favorite Word

Curly: What's your favorite word?

Mommy: My favorite word? Hmmmm. Maybe "chocolate" or "sleep."

Curly: My favorite words are Mommy and Daddy and StinkyMan and Peanut and BabyGirl and Love.

Mommy (hanging her head in Mommy shame for answering so poorly): I agree those are super words. And Curly. That's another favorite word.

It's amazing how a child can humble you with their point of view and inspire you with their capacity to love all in one sweet sentiment.

Indeed, my favorite words are Curly, StinkyMan, Peanut and BabyGirl, with some Husband and Love thrown in, too. I just needed to have it pointed out to me.

I do still like chocolate and sleep though......


StinkyMan (as he pushes a Hot Wheels car around): Hey Peanut?

Peanut: What?

StinkyMan: Thank you for playin' Hot Wheels wif me right now. I love you.

Peanut: Oh, thanks, StinkyMan. I love you, too.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

It's Beginning...

to look a lot like Christmas!

This is my favorite time of year. Tonight we will put up our tree and get out all the bins of Christmas decor to start making our home look like Santa's workshop.

There is nothing cuter than listening to little kids sing Christmas Carols. Peanut thinks that "Jingle Bells" is actually called "Tinker Bells" and StinkyMan is working hard to learn all the words to "The Twelve Days of Christmas." In a move of equal parts utter genius and dorkiness, my kids are well acquainted with and adore the Christmas CD of John Denver and the Muppets. (Beeker chiming in on a Christmas chorus is sheer brilliance!)

Curly is ready and waiting to help with all the baking and making of the season and Baby Girl will be IMPOSSIBLE to keep off the tree.

Secrets are whispered, packages are stashed, our supply of tape and ribbon is up and craft ideas and surprises are at an all time high.

Our elf made his first appearance this morning, hanging upside off the TV, with a note explaining that he's helping Santa with his naughty or nice list and how tomorrow morning he will be in a different spot for the kids to find. StinkyMan's smile was a mile wide and Curly, though she knows better, was eager to play along. Peanut didn't quite get it, but she will soon enough.

I have always ALWAYS loved this time of year. This time of Christmas cookies, Secret Santas, family gatherings, whispery conversations and jingley bells. Through they eyes of my children it is an amazing, magical month, filled with endless possibilities and visions of Santa and reindeer and elves.

I love Christmas's not the presents, it's the season. I love giving more than getting, plotting and planning more than the post gift giving and just the whole atmosphere. Even the everyday stuff seems more special somehow. And I plan to savor it all.