Tuesday, December 27, 2005


I tried dropping hints, you know, leaving presents in obvious places, like the closet. Hiding some under the bathroom sink, fully expecting a certain 9 year old to snoop. Nope. I mean, I refuse to flat out tell her, HEY, there's no Santa. It's a lie we've told you since you were born so you could have nine years of magic in your life. But secretly I believe that nine is a good year to figure it out.

Now, we're not going to get started on whether or not you should let your kids believe in Santa and then reveal that it's all been a lie you've started, because Santa isn't really a lie. He's a mythical figure, a cultural icon and he's been around for centuries in different forms, so he is real. No, the magic is real, it's just, the big jolly man with the red cheeks in the red suit happens to be daddy and mommy or holiday workers. So here is the evolution of realization. I'm thinking the same thought process can explain how man became self-aware.

Christmas morning, 3:30 a..m....

"Maamaa maammaa Saanntta came, maama maamma...."
Looking at clock in disbelief, I mean, 3:30 a.m? I never did that... "I don't care who came, it's 3:30 in the freakin' morning go back to bed."
"I can't sleep!"
"Then just lay there til morning."

Christmas morning....
Mad present opening festivities. There is a feeling of unease in said nine-year old's being as she asks if this present is from mom or from Santa, but I do not detect it. She is gleefully ripping open presents seeming a true Santa believer.

Dinner, Christmas Day....
Eating mashed potatoes peacefully after giving up trying to get toddlers to not wander with mashed potatoes into the living room. The sofa's slipcovered, it can be washed.... All of a sudden....literally, no warning. Self realization seldom comes with warnings, apparently.
"Are you trying to tell me that you and Santa use the same cards?" *Note, I wasn't trying to tell her anything, I was peacefully eating mashed potatoes. "It's not like Santa would say, 'hey, can I borrow some cards?'" *She'd apparently given this some thought, tossing a scenario or two around in her head that would explain these inconsistencies... "Are you pretending to be Santa? Don't lie to me on Christmas Day. Nobody should lie on Christmas Day. Are you telling me there's NO Santa, that you're Santa?"
And then Daddy came up with the whole, "Yes, we're Santa, but the magic of Christmas is real, and Santa is the spirit of giving and family and love, and that's the magic, and that's what Santa is, so in a way, Santa is real, every year we play Santa, because it's all magical." Go Daddy.

So just like that, out of the blue, during an uninteresting bite of mashed potatoes, my nine year old discovered the secret behind Santa, yet still managed to retain a belief in the Christmas magic.

Now isn't that something.

We figured Santa was a crock and that was pretty much it for the magic, too...

Friday, December 23, 2005

There are no sugar cookies

Because I burnt them. Anyhow, I also ix nayed the no-bakes for my husband's workplace. Grinch that I am, but hey, I've done a gazillion things already, enough is enough!

My one gripe of the holiday season: ...call doctor's office... "Hi, I need a prescription filled for my daughter, she needs it buy Dec. 22" Response... "No problem, we'll call you when it's done." I wait one day, no call. Next day, I must call them. I call them. "Hi, this office is closed Dec. 22nd, yes that was the day we expected to have your prescription to you, but not now." ARGH. If said person had informed me they were CLOSING that day....

But that is a rant, and this is most definitely not a rant board, it's a thought board.

My thoughts today are happy ones... they run like this...

MUAHHAAAA I am done all my shopping and there is no way, no how that I am leaving my driveway until Dec. 28th MUAHAHAHAHA you last minute Christmas Commuters and Shoppers shall suffer angry holiday revelers trying desperately to buy last minute presents for Great Aunt Greta who is still alive, after all, and nieces and nephews of the boyfriend you think you might one day perhaps marry, but not if you don't act like part of the family now, and those dear dear husbands for whom Christmas doesn't hit the radar til they have 12 shopping hours left between "I Love You" and "Go Sleep on the Couch you Thoughtless, Procrastinating Ass, Good Thing I Already Bought My Christmas Present, After Last Year's Fiasco..."


Happy thoughts :)

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 19, 2005

Crazy Cookie Baking Madness

Today is bake cookies day. I do this every once in a while. I get it in my head to make cookies, some recipes I know, like the one on the back of the nestle chocolate chips bag, some new ones, like the ones my grandmother used to make, and of course, the obligatory, whatever-the-occasion-is cookies. This year, it's no-bakes for my husband, which are no-brainers,I really need to try hard to mess those up, along with sugar cookies, of two varieties:, the first variety, the pillsbury ready-made-just-cut-and-bake, and the second, home made sugar cookie dough to be rolled out and cut into cutesie Christmas shapes. I am not taking bets on which will come out tasting the best. Then, my grandmother's recipe.

This is a lot of cookies. I'm going to be honest here. I shouldn't be doing this. I'm going to be up til midnight, and half the batches will be ruined because of my misguided determination in baking all these cookies.

So why, then, am I doing this, knowing that it will end badly, my daughter deserting me halfway through the night, me crankily tossing cookie sheets in the oven, frosting every cookie the same too-pale-shade of red, known as pepto, every dish dirtied and in the sink? Why am I doing this, knowing that it will end with burnt sugar cookies, dried-out no-bakes and a paltry imitation of my grandmother's totos? ***not the dog, people, this is an Italian cookie with a funky Italian name that for years I've mutilated by calling it variations like 'the doughs' or 'theodores' with a slight fake Italian roll.

I'm doing it for optimism, and hope, for tradition's sake, and to bond with my daughter, who, this year, will not leave me stranded alone at midnight with a glass of baileys.... I'm doing it because secretly, I enjoy making cookies. I'm doing it so my daughter will have memories of making those perfect cookies with her mom, and I believe that is what I'm doing. No, the cookies aren't perfect, but she's nine. By the time she's 25, she will, I am sure, have forgotten about the burnt ones. My optimism allows me this. She will have fond memories of warm toasty nights indoors baking cookies the holiday season, safe from the chilly winter rain pouring outside.

So only half come out edible, that's what the no-bakes and cut-and-bakes are for, they are the fall-back cookies. And yes, the dishes will take three days to do, and somehow, because I've baked cookies the rest of the house will fall apart, but dang it, we will have cookies, three varieties of yummy, half-dozen-batches of cookies, and we will be finished by nine p.m. with time to clean the kitchen.

It will be a glorious mother-daughter-cookie-baking-bonding evening. This year will be the year that cookie baking at my house resembles cookie baking on TV. Yes, it is for hope, optimism, and the promise of what could be, that I am doing this.

And, when the reality hits, tomorrow, when I'm standing at a sink towering high with flour-crusted frosting-sticky bowls and spoons and every other dish has been contaminated with chocolate-covered oatmeal, I will still not be deterred, my resolution will not shake. After all, there will be a redeeming gingerbread-house to make and decorate in February, from scratch, using my stoneware gingerbread pattern molding pan...

Friday, December 16, 2005

Christmas Nausea

It hit early this year, the nausea that comes yearly, slowly tugging at my conscious in late October, becoming a fair-sized notion that all is not cheery at Thanksgiving, and, usually, I'm able to stave off the full feeling of the emotional version of day-after-Thanksgiving-ate-too-much-pie illness until the day before Christmas Eve. This year, though, it hit early, and hard. I had a full-blown case of 'the holiday season is just too much' before Thanksgiving hit. Oh I did the day fine, turkey for the family, football game, that was fine. It was BLACK FRIDAY that did me in. The talk about the day, and what it meant to retailers, to retailers? What about Grandma? But this is what Christmas is about, appeasing our gods, the old traditional ones like Sears Roebuck and Macy's as well as the newer, more powerful ones of Amazon.com and Best Buy. These retailers, our priests and priestesses, the apostles of American Consumerism, were getting a little concerned that their worshippers weren't giving their all to their gods. Oh the punishment they threaten us casually, if we do not comply! We must show our gods we are loyal consumers else, convinced of our straying hearts, they will increase our heating costs, raise our interest rates, make homes even less affordable to the average working American and forbid this, take jobs away. All unless we do our godly duty, and shop.

Don't be fooled, either, by the distracting arguments of Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays. It has nothing to do with Religion. No, it's all about 'How do we get more people to shop.' If you say, Merry Christmas, you leave out all the non-Christian denominations. They are less likely to be swayed into excessive consumerism by a holiday they care nothing about. No, our gods are open-minded. If you say Happy Holidays, well, then, EVERYONE spends, regardless of denominations. It's a smaller, more subtle version of how the Romans successfully conquered so many cultures, for a while. They said 'worship who you want, but pay your taxes to us.' I do believe America is the reincarnation of that Roman Empire, for do we not say, 'worship who you want, but shop here' and where they conquered with armies, we conquer with economics, and 'stuff.'

Well, I'm a heathen, partly, for it's impossible to muster the willpower needed to fully resist American Consumerism. I only worship with half a heart, though, for I didn't buy as much as I normally do, mainly due to a feeling of disgust with how a holiday season about family and friends and giving has become nothing more than a two month shopping event. My toddlers got a couple of toys each, because after nine years experience with their elder sister, I know all too well how little they care about a lot of toys. I bought them four toys in all, quality toys, a set of nice wooden alphabet blocks because they love building, a wooden stacking toy, and two little people sets. Hubby Man is going to buy them a few stocking stuffers. That's it. They are two. Best not start them off greedy.

My daughter? Well, we got her illustory, so she can 'write her own book,' an art set consisting of an art pad, paints and colored pencils since thats her new 'thing', four soft-covered books since we desperately want her to read more ha ha, a fleece blanket that is more a need, but it's Christmas so hey, why not wrap it, a high chair for her doll, and a movie, classic, National Velvet. Her stocking stuffers are a cd and some jewelry, and aside from a few presents from three sets of grandparents *divorce extends families as well as divides* and a bead set left over from her birthday presents *I forgot I didn't give it to her on her birthday, it's in November* that is it, and it's more than enough, and sadly, more than most kids get.

For the kids that don't get anything? One night at Bunco, we were talking about how Toys for Tots was very short this year. Exceptionally short. They didn't have enough to go around. I, feeling righteously nauseated at all the excessive commercialism prompting everyone to buy good tidings of comfort and joy with gift cards, the 'hot' gifts can we say X-box, and so on and so forth at the never-ending sales, realized that for all my nausea, for all my 'what about the others,' I'd done nothing for the others. Remembering a Christmas as a child where all I got was a coat, and a VCR for the whole family, and a reminder from my parents that as little as we had, we needed to treasue it, because there were those with less, I took myself back to the store and purchased a few toys for Toys for Joy, something similar to Toys for Tots. Tomorrow, I am packing my nine year old daughter in the truck and we're going to drive to the fire station, where she is going to take the toys and place them in the Toys for Joy drop-off bag, as I explain exactly why we are giving these toys away to strangers rather than to her and her brothers.

I am already forming a New Year's Resolution based loosely on the idea that it is no longer enough to be glad that I have the things I most cherished as a child, because I didn't have them: a house, a real house with stairs even! in a nice neighborhood! With clothes that aren't hand-me-downs or from the 70s equivalent of Walmart! I saw the lives on television as a dream I wanted desperately in on, but could never have. I, as a child, cherished my family the most, because they were the only thing I could be sure of. Everything else was material and material was fickle, sometimes, we had things, and oftentimes, we did not, and we just dreamt of them, or forgot we didn't have them But family was always there, and being kind, and giving, and caring and making do with what we had, was ingrained in us. I think it is time to work on passing those values on and drifting away from the mall-cult. But I want it to go beyond Christmas.

Everyone can be charitable around the holidays. My resolution is to work on the rest of the year, and try to show my daughter that there is another side to our world, another darker place where little girls and little boys see this magical time of Christmas as a dream. Do people really live like that? Do they really have such big homes and such happy, large families, and everything is so wonderful? Yes, our gods lie, people really live like that, happiness every day, joy in buckets, but you not for you, you aren't faithful enough, you haven't made enough, because you have angered us.

Our gods lie to us, it is their way. They mock our lives. They show us when we approach the alters placed reverantly in so many rooms of our homes what we could have if only we lived by their code. No matter how little or how much we have, we can have more and we can buy happiness and sunshine and those buckets of joy. But the American gods have no time for those who do not prostrate themselves before retailers, for those who do not spend themselves into a fury trying for the heaven of the American Dream. If we do not keep up we are swept away and just try to sell a home with laminate counters.

So we worshippers try harder, as we take holy latte, grande or venti please? the ambrosia the gods so kindly share with their faithful, and drag our progeny into the temples, showing them the secrets of our faith. What though, are they promising?

And that is what I am nauseous about. It is not real. We know it, we all do, it's not real, it's an illusion, the heaven they show us. Most of us today say we buy too much, we shop too much, we own too much, but when do we say it? When we are shopping. We condemn excessive consumerism even as we partake in it. It is the trap of our lives, and there seems to be no escape, try as we might, too many of us are too weak to just stop. There are truly things of value, yes, but so much of it is just plain excess. And honestly, I don't think I'd be so nauseated, I don't think I'd mind so much, if so many people didn't have to go without, if there weren't inner cities teeming with poverty and resentment that can only be contained so long, if there wasn't an entire state, one full state of the union, dislocated and barely remembered a mere month after it's tragic fall, if there wasn't a nation where voting was one of the bravest things you could do in your life, if an entire people wasn't being eradicated before the world's very eyes with no intervention, and so much more.... If the world was such a place that the only thing to truly worry about was parking? Well then, I wouldn't really mind.

Tis the Season.

Perhaps the next year will be better for America, better for the world. Perhaps not. But hey, what can we do? We have Christmas cards to relatives we haven't seen in decades to mail...

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Wuthering Heights

There is a large list of books that every reader has, it's the "List of Books I Must Get Around to Reading" and every list is different. Most have the 'should reads' and the 'want to reads but it's soooo long' and the 'heard it was good don't have time' and of course, the 'classics.' I have a bunch of classics that I must read, and Wuthering Heights is one of them. The idea of the story appeals to me, dark brooding Heathcliff, true, desperate moody love on the moors, very emotional and passionate in a dark, honest, human way. She even talks about how Heathcliff is darkness, and not joy. Anyhow, the book was published in 1847, a time when television and instant communication hadn't shortened our attention span for information and conversation, and the style of writing tended toward lengthy. The characters tend to have conversations that go on for days, and the meaning, while probably clear in 1847, is hard to come by reading it in 2006. I've read a few paragraphs a few times just to clarify the meaning, and the language is fairly difficult not because the words are hard, but because they don't mean the same thing anymore. Oh, Heathcliff and Catherine are both passionate and wild and full of broody, moorish sulking, but to get to the core of the book, you have to navigate the English language of 1847. My favorite passage, the one that exemplifies how you can get a 'feel' for what is being said but not quite understand its literal translation is the following:

I perceive that people in these regions acquire over people in towns the value that a spider in a dungeon does over a spider in a cottage, to their various occupants; and yet the deepened attraction is not entirely owing to the situation of the looker-on. They do live more in earnest, more in themselves, and less in surface change, and frivolous external things.

Now, my take on this, is something like the following: People in the harsher regions of Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange live a harder life and due to the harshness and isolation of the regions, don't bother putting on airs, masks, or do the silly little things people in town do, like wear powdered wigs and learn the proper way to wave a fan and worry about proper stations and such. They are what they appear to be, and that's that. They value life more and live life harder, and any outsider looking in can see that, and views it that way.

My problem is the spider. Does the spider in the dungeon live more in earnest than the spider in a cottage? Wouldn't it be easier for a spider in a dungeon vs. a cottage? Especially a clean one. Why would a spider in a dungeon share the same values as people in the harsher regions? Why would an onlooker think that a spider in a dungeon lived more earnestly? As an onlooker, I would think a spider in a dungeon with all sorts of creepy crawlies to munch on would be as happy if not happier than a spider in a cottage. Especially, again, a clean, well-swept one. But, really, as long, I suppose, as I get the 'understanding' and 'feel' I shouldn't spend so much time dwelling on the bizarre analogy. I just wish I knew why she felt spiders in dungeons had something over spiders in cottages.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

What do I do all day?

Todays entry is all about what I do all day, since people often wonder, what do moms who stay home do all day? The best way to explain it for those who don't have kids, or who don't stay home, is to compare it to a series of meetings, it's imperative you attend the meetings, they are mandatory, your boss reminds you several times about the meetings, and so you go, coffee in hand, but after the meetings are done and gone, you realize, not only have you accomplished nothing on your list of things you wanted to, but you are now three days behind on things you have to do but don't want to do.

This morning, I was roused too early by two fleece jammies squealing 'daah daah daaah' and giggling with joy at being awake. Ahhh, to have that optimism again, the kind that can only come from getting enough sleep. Then, then what? Free time? Accomplish something? Yes, I accomplished something. I accomplished ironing my husbands wrinkle-resistant, no-need-to-iron-ever twill shirt because he got up too late to do it himself. Then I played chase the third grader out the door to school. That took a good hour. Ah, 9 a.m. Feed the Toddler time. Milk is a great adhesive, by the way. Let it sit for ten minutes, and you'll never get those cheerios off the table and floor. I'm thinking of using milk to repair my husband's ceramic eagle that flew off his bookshelf to a bad end.

After a half hour of trying to escape with cheerios into the living room, the children were fed, the bowls removed and we read a book. To keep you awake, I will refrain from posting it from memory. I bumbled around for another 45 minutes trying to finish things and start other things while simultaneously picking up the cheerios that made it into the living room and redecorating the Christmas tree, until I had what amounts to free donuts in the break room.

Now, replace the donuts with a fire and the co-workers with people that are crazy about you. My sons insisted, yes, they did, they really pointed and nagged til I sat with them in front of the fire going 'oooh' 'hoot' 'oooh' and then fighting for hugs, before they decided to amaze me with their great atheltic feets of jumping up and sideways somersaults. Sooo going to the olympics. So what next? There's lunch, herd the toddlers to nap time, a good half hour of repetitive go to sleep, then the actual nap, deal with the washing machine repair man, homework assistance for the reluctant third grader, dinner, and BUNCO muahahaha. But in between all of that, I need to hang curtains, go through the children's old toys so Santa won't overfill their toy boxes too much, clean a bathroom, write, send out the Christmas Cards that didn't have complete addresses and somehow, hopefully, I will have actually done something.

For those perceptive enough to realize that not one of those things, aside from writing and possibly christmas cards, require any sort of intellecutal effort, well, neither do most jobs, that's what books are for.

So, if anyone asks me what I do all day, from now on, I'm just going to say, "I dunno. Stuff."

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Potato Slop

Homemade recipe for fun, fast, nutritious toddler food when the fridge is empty...


Potato with eyes shaved off, and, to be safe, the rest of the skin, then thinned.
Shredded cheese, pre-moldy, the small amount left at the bottom of the bag

Cut potatoes thinly then microwave
Toss in cheese, butter and a dab of milk
Mish and mush it
Put in bowls
Let toddlers shove their faces with it
Feel good about the healthy, nutritious meals your sons get even when the fridge is empty
In fit of 'can do anything,' try passing freezer-burned brussel sprouts to elder daughter....

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Cabernet over Merlot

Two bottles of wine is too much. We should really have just stuck to one. I think I prefer Cabernet over Merlot, though I can't say why. It's like, why do I love sci-fi Fridays but can't watch any other type of television? Oh right, it's because if I'm going to watch television, I want to get lost in another world where the problems are so far from anything that could possibly ever occur in my life, barring any future alien abductions I may encounter, that I can't possibly relate to them, and can therefore enjoy the struggles the characters are going through. In short, I love made-up shit that doesn't happen in the real world. I absolutely hate watching televsion that may on some level be related to the real world. The whole point of WATCHING TV is to escape the real world. Now, saying that, I really want to watch that new Western on HBO, well not too new. I can't remember the name of it. But I don't have HBO so that's not likely to happen. I'll have to netflix it. My husband thinks it's hilarious that I have a blog. I told him I'm not sending it to anyhow ha ha cuz really, it's boring. The only reason I'm using the blogger is because it's easier to babble on this than it is to write in a journal. I also find I can write more after I do one of these entries. If I get the junk out of my head, I can write some good shit. I'd be writing now, but the wailing complaints of my toddlers interuppted my writing. I was going good, too. Ah well, that is why I have to get up so early in the morning.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The First Day of the Blog

Today is just an exercise in blogging. My sons are chasing each other, the Wiggles are wiggling with their pom poms and songs and the cat is terrified. I dropped my tween off at the bus stop and the day should be progressing nicely, but isn't. It's because of the coffee. I slept in, and for some reason, when I don't get up, nobody else gets up. All the alarm clocks in the house, and noone can get their butts out of bed unless I get up first. You see the problem with this, don't you? I would like to sleep in occasionally, but can't, because if I don't greet the morning with 'get up child and I don't care if I interupted your great dream' and a gentle kick to the lumpy blanket that contains my husband, they would sleep til the next day. Today I slept in. Everyone was running late. The alarm clocks rang, but the Mom wasn't up. Mom. HA. I'm just a mom. One of many. The result is that it's 9:40 a.m. and I still haven't had coffee. I'm intrigued by blogging. I don't expect anyone to read it, but still, it's intriguing. Maybe the next post will be more interesting. Right now I need to save the cat, make the coffee, change the kids, break the lease on our apartment, and forage for food.