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November 2012
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December 2012


Did I mention we're having a party tonight? We are. And have I also mentioned that over the years I have managed to ratchet down my (admittedly looney tunes) hostessing standards such that I made a couple of things things this morning but really the only thing we have left to do is assemble platters with the stuff I bought (smoked trout+cucumber+dill+greek yogurt+vinegared red onion+lemon slices+rye bread or sopressoto+cotto+pancetta+olives+ricotta+olive oil+Italian bread or... whatever else it was. cheeses, I think. definitely some vegetables. oh! and ham! ham and peppered jelly and I made a Cajun mayonnaise to go with that.) Finally, I have realized that having houseguests in situ while you're hosting a party is pure genius. Three, four, five extra adults picking up toys and slapping down salami? What could be better?  

5:50 pm - Pizza for children delivered.

11:21 pm - Huh. This is ackshuwee a pretty good party.

Happy New Year to you and yours. 


My mom is here.

My brother and his wife and their kids are here.

When I was in high school and college (and, okay, about three years after college) I made many bad decisions. So many bad decisions* that I have spent the past twenty years mentally screening a series of internal movies about how everything might have gone differently if I just hadn't: climbed into that gypsy cab/ met those Australians/ broken into the rooftop pool/ flown to London/ gotten married the first time/ moved to Cleveland/ had that one last drink/ said yes/ said no.       

So many times I have found myself in a situation in which I was scrubbing my face with my hands, thinking oh god I wish I hadn't done that, that I eventually developed a new habit. During the past twenty years I have started to also recognize moments that are particularly good and I try to just... appreciate them.

So I say it again.

My mom is here. My brother and his wife and their kids are here. There is just the right amount of snow on the ground, my newest nephew (eighteen months with saucer-blue eyes) kissed me not once but three times on the lips and we had a good dinner. There is football. There was wine. For this one night, for this one moment at least, every thing is just as it ought to be. Better than I deserve. And it is all very good. 


You know how in Renaissance paintings there is a lot of symbolism? Go for it. Interpret this photo.

* I sat here for a while chewing my lip and sipping red wine while I tried to articulate actual examples of bad decisions I have made. I think I nailed it. Jesus, those Australians.  

Deo Volente

Steve seems much better. Edward also seems much better. All in all I think we might survive to enjoy both my family's visit and New Year's Eve.

Tonight Patrick made some Christmas gifts for his cousins who arrive this weekend and his brother and sister who officially turn five tomorrow. I thought that he should make everyone bathrobes but he spent a millisecond calculating the amount of time this would take, weighed that against his desire to play Minecraft every freaking second of the day and opted to do some dyed shirts instead. I figured as long as we were pasting up dye we might as well augment our sock collection, so I got some Patrick-sized socks for him to multi-color and some Caroline and Edward-sized ditto for him to make normal (ze twins, zey sink ze funky socks are no so chic.)

The tie-dyes need to sit for a day or two but the solid colored socks swim around in a dye tub for an hour and that is sufficient to impart the nice lasting hue of your choice. So you let them soak and swish them around a lot and then you take them out and run them under first hot water and then cold water and then you wash them with special detergent - twice if you're doing reds or blacks. Oh and you remember to wear gloves, of course, because you are a grown-up and that is why you are supervising your child who otherwise can create circles around you but who might make a mess of himself or the laundry room if you were not there.

Guess what?


Dye goes right through those stupid yellow playtex gloves you buy at the grocery store. Also, I'm an idiot. Also, I haven't seen Patrick laugh that hard in a very long time. 

Maybe we should change the New Year's Eve party to costume?

"You can be one of those creatures from Avatar," Patrick suggested, helpfully.

PS Steve informed me (with what I considered to be undue mirth, by the way) that the term "to fluff" can be interpreted as a vulgar euphemism. He also reminded me that my blog is considered to be a legally binding contract and noted that he was no longer under the bed. I have yet to confirm any of this with my attorney. 

Fluff? Really? It... it doesn't even make linguistic sense.


Edward has been on the couch all day long, too feverish and lethargic to do anything but watch television and drink tiny bird sips of juice and water. At one point his raspy little voice called, "Mommy! Come feel my head!"

I went into the living room and he said, "Put your hand on my head but don't look at me. Turn your face."

I obliged.

He said, "I think we should get that" and I realized that he had lured me with the promise of a fever check only to direct my attention to a commercial for space saver bags. "That way if we have yots of bankets we can put them into the bags and vacuum them and squish it down."

Clearly he has watched a few too many hours of daytime TV. Equally clearly he was probably a little delirious - space saver bags forsooth.

I tried to ignore Steve when he started putting on extra layers of clothing this morning. I tried to ignore the fact that he developed an unwholesome pallor and started coughing. When he collapsed into bed before lunchtime I was forced to acknowledge that he, too, is sick - curse him.

After I chided him for succumbing to illness when we have houseguests arriving in two days and are hosting a New Year's Eve party, I brought him tea and juice. Then I consoled him with the fact that at least he isn't mission critical. In fact I am pretty sure he can be replaced by a ferret.

A ferret I will call Bueller.

PS The fire station is called Everday Heroes Something by KidKraft and I am very impressed with it. It is very sturdy and wooden, came with lots of nicely made little furniture pieces and required four screws and two minutes to completely assemble. 

PPS The stocking hooks are temporary, courtesy of the brilliant 3M command strips that I use for more or less everything. 

PPPS I wonder if I could use Edward's space saver bags on Steve? Stick him in, squish him down, tuck him under the bed and then fluff him up again once he's well.

And Also To You

Caroline had a trying morning. Somewhere in the late dark o'thirties I heard her feet hit the floor and then duhk-duhk-duhk-duhk, as fast as a fast cat, she went to get her rock, her constant companion, her EddyBear... only to discover that he wasn't in his room. We had put him to bed on an inflatable mattress in our room - surrounded by old towels and giant bowls - and he was still out cold. Or out hot, ackshuwee, as his fever lingered for awhile this morning. Still upstairs, she paced. She groaned. She finally came down to find the only other person in our family who gets up when it is still sorta dark out and she and Steve planned breakfast. Then I got out of bed to powder my nose and in my absence she snuck into our room and and absconded with Edward; though, much good it did her as he promptly fell back asleep on the couch.


She wrote him off as a total loss and decided to get Patrick. I went with her to document what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object on Christmas morning.




I'll tell you. First the unstoppable force says, in a voice that could glaze doughnuts, "Patrick, it's Christmas morning!" Then, when the object - immoveable - says nothing she raises her voice and says, "Patrick! Christmas! Presents!" After the i.m. mutters something about going away she raises her voice to a shriek and yells, "Patrick! I have HAD IT! GET UP YOU IDIOT! OR ELSE!" she finally looks at her mother who has opened her mouth to tell her how we speak to people and returns to the powdered sugar tone to say, "Merry Christmas. I love you. Now. Get. UP."

Patrick got up. Edward got Advil. We all got presents. I know I should shun the crass materialism of this, the last age of very late Rome but I don't. I love presents. I got a new desk chair (thank you, Katherine, for pointing out my previous crappy metal folding chair in the comments, thus calling public attention to my plight and prompting Steve [forevertime reader, never commenter] to buy me a chair with wheels and arm support.)


Isn't he lovely? I've named him Black Beauty. Steve also got me a McLaren-Mercedes pullover from England that reeks of transmission fluid, which I am sure was stripped directly off the body of Lewis Hamilton as he left the team after Brazil.

The twins got dress up stuff and books and puzzles and dollhouses




I got some t-shirts for Patrick


(Patrick. Laughing. On Christmas Day. I got him a tshirt from that he won't be allowed to wear to school but which he found amusing:

"Some people are like Slinkies/ they're not really good for anything but they still bring a smile to your face when you push them down the stairs."

He also spoke to his grandparents during the day and when asked, I dunno, something, he said, "Well, Mom asked for a ferret. That went as well as could be expected."

It's true. I didn't get a ferret. But I got a desk chair. And that was good enough.

Oh no, wait, it wasn't.


We bought that piece of furniture shaped like the state of Minnesota. In green.

I think this should be the new, universal, end-of-December greeting: "To you I wish happiness of Patrick receiving an end table."

Boxes Wrapped and Boxes Checked

Let's see. The tree is decorated.


This year's sledding track has been designated


and christened


with a bonus jump if you are taller than Boo-Boo Bear (Kings Dominion? anyone?)


We have made cookies for Santa* and a carrot has been selected for Santa's reindeer


We also scattered some oatmeal mixed with glitter onto the lawn just in case the reindeer need, I dunno, more roughage and bling.


The stockings** are hung by the ch. with c.


Aaaand... Edward woke up this morning with a fever that comes down to 102┬░with Tylenol. I mean, the Tylenol that he doesn't throw up. I heard a piteous mewling from his room this morning and after rushing him to the bathroom I carried him down to the couch where he's remained all day. Seriously. I have carried him to the bathroom at intervals and held water to his lips and every couple of hours I turn him like a rotisserie chicken. Do you want to know when I knew he was really sick? When Steve changed the channel from Disney to NotDisney and Edward didn't even protest. He just lay there all glassy-eyed and watched an episode of Extreme Homes.


So we have decked the halls and have one sick kid on the couch. It must truly be Christmas Eve.

*As I talked to Caroline about leaving cookies and milk for Santa, Patrick kept clearing his throat and winking at me furiously. When we were finally alone he said, "Mom! If no one eats the cookies the twins will know you-know-what. They'll know."

I said, "Gosh, Patrick I never thought of that."

He said, "It's ok. I... I will eat the cookies."

I thanked him. He nodded. Nothing like a child who will take a cookie for you, you know?

** Can you see those properly? Over the years my mom has needlepointed a stocking for each of us and they are literal works of art. When I brought the box out this year Caroline tried to put one on her foot and walk around with it and I almost had a heart attack. My mother is a loving and generous woman so I think she might forgive me if I, say, smacked her in the back of her head with a 2x4 but if I allowed one of the kids to desecrate a stocking? Not a chance.

If you celebrate today, I hope you are having a better Christmas Eve than Edward. Ackshuwee, I hope that for you whether you celebrate or not.


Two pictures from yesterday:


Mournful, the Grey-Eyed Reindeer and his sister, YouWillNoticeMeDespiteMyLackOfSequins who can somehow find the lens from thirty yards away


This picture reminds me of another photo I took of her several years ago


Caroline Jane Hippogriff, Not Pitying The Fool Since 2007

Speaking of Caroline, she and I had our first (and last) battle over clothing today. I thought the stripes on stripes ensemble that she had selected for their karate birthday party was not quite... quite and she thought I should go, well, let's say that she thought that I should go jump into a lake. 

Using words like lumps of ice she dropped each one very carefully, "I. Want. To. Look. Like. A. Rainbow. For. My. Party. "


And she did.

You know what? I am never arguing with her about clothing again. Ever. I bought it. She can choose it from there. I am actually embarrassed that I was even fleetingly caught up in my own 'I will dress her like my doll' moment.

Today they had their karate birthday party and it was terrific. I worried that it would not be universally enjoyable but they arranged for three young instructors to run the party and it was tremendously fun. 


Edward running to kick a bolster with Caroline chatting (almost en pointe) in the background.

And ultimately, there is this:


(No, she is not taller. However she has much longer legs and she is standing on her toes.)

A Very Good Day

Steve works from home but I don't see him much when he's busy. This is a good thing - the work, I mean, not the fact that he doesn't spend his days rubbing my feet and fetching me my thesaurus - but I like it when the holidays roll around and we find ourselves, like today, with the kids still in school and some time to spare; mostly because my husband recently starting wearing glasses and his hair is silvering at the temples and the overall affect is so appealing that I am unable to keep my hands off of him. What? Oh sorry. I was fanning myself. Today was awesome. Just saying.

Then we went to see Caroline and Edward's holiday performance. Two dozen four and five year olds in reindeer hats bumping into each other on the ampitheater stage. Edward wore his Packers jersey ("It's green!" Steve justified when I looked at him, like, "Really? All I asked was that you get the twins into something holidayirific while I took Patrick to school and you produce Brett Favrelet?") and Caroline was The Girl Not Wearing The Pretty Holiday Gown. She did, however, manage to work herself to center stage and sometime around their second number she opened her mouth and inflated her lungs and holy hannah all you could hear was Caroline. Does she have a... pretty voice? Well, no. Can the kid project like, oh, say, Ethel Merman? 


Clearly all those afternoons spent standing on the vanity in my bathroom, singing into the mirror are working for her stage presence. And yet I'm glad I bought her a Hello Kitty karaoke cd player for her birthday. It will give us a chance to start at the very beginning; it's a very good place to start. Because

when you read you begin with ABC. When you sing you begin with:

"Jingle Bells! Jingle Bells! Jingle all the way!

Bells on cocktails ring! Making spirits bright!"

Steve whispered, "Did she say cocktails?" and I whispered back, "Yes."

"Is that right?"