Thursday, December 28, 2006

Merry merry

I'm proud of us. We actually did very well in keeping it simple. Jim got me a pair of slippers, which I had requested and needed badly and I got him a pair of hiking pants (too small) and a sale LLBean shirt (too big). The kids got some brightly colored flashing stuff, but are most happy with their giant wagon. And in all, I can say it was one of our better holidays in a long time. As a friend told me last week, when you're not expecting much and you don't get much it's like the first rule in the Conservation of Poverty. Okay, I just made that up, but it reminds me of something Erin would say. A little bit of truth and a little bit out there.

We spent the evening at my in-laws, who love to host an enormous dinner for Christmas. The kids had no interest in putting away their puzzles and gerbils and putting on their fancy tights and clean diapers, and I really didn't want to shower. But you just don't say no. So we ate their prime rib, drank many bottles of their expensive wine, and I admit it: we laughed a lot. Because everyone was pretty damn happy. The rich people got a lot of rich-people presents, and the middle class people played it simple and didn't set themselves up for disappointment. We were all sitting around the table, my niece trying to decide which of her 3 iPods to listen to when she called her super-secret 15-year-old boyfriend later to not-talk with on the phone, my brother-in-law was trying to decide which new gun to shoot at his target practice range the next morning, and I was picturing myself sheathed in my new sheepskin slippers, watching ELf on VHS for 89th time that evening on our 11" TV. So you see? It was all good.

Hope yours were happy.

Fashion-forward or fashion-retarded - either way she's a Happy Birthday Gal.

Please quit touching me. Can a sleeply little rodent get a break or what?

Christmas Eve dinner. Ahhhh. Happy oil.

See? So very Dickensian, my old slippers.

And the Montana wagon, complete with studded tires and a de-icer on the handle.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Friday Concoction

If you're wondering, we gave her gerbils. Digger and Squirmy. As far as I'm concerned, they go by Shitter 1 and Shitter 2. I'm grateful they've made it through the first 24 hours without keeling over from shock as Pooey screamed at them with his face pressed to the glass. Based on repeated testing of this nature, they will momentarily quit chewing their empty toilet paper rolls, shake their tiny rodent heads at him and shit.

The birthday party was a success. I didn't have to babysit any of the adults, and the kids didn't tip over the Christmas tree (while I was in the room). We ate pizza, homemade cake, and drank a lot of beer'n'wine. Good stuff. Then parents came at the assigned hour, all kinds of chocolate was secreted away (by me), and at 8:15 Madeleine was told that she had to go to bed immediately. She was suitably, insanely angry, and when she went to her room in an fiery storm of newly-5-year-old fury, there in their new glass cage, on her dresser, Digger and Squirmy sat up on their haunches and shat in her general direction. She was delighted and in love. Pictures will come, but how do you eliminate red-eye in red-eyed rodents?

I'm going to be busy this weekend. We've got some stuff going on... uhh... now what was it I was supposed to do on Monday?? Oh yeah! Detonate a small forest of gaily decorated fairy trees in our living room! I had big plans for wrapping all my gifts in pretty cloth, to recycle for each holiday, but I realized before making that fatal mistake that I don't want my kids to start mocking me this early in their lives. The whole wrapped-in-cloth thing is something my mom would do, in addition to including recycled gifts from a long-lost box of keepsakes from 1978, and she's cornered the market on Loony Tunes gifts. Wouldn't want to step on any toes or anything... (Mom - Pooey loves the Chinese wooden wisk you bought at Uwajimaya in 1988, by the way - no joke!).

Here are a few links Madeleine and I were enjoying this evening. Or, more likely, I was enjoying and she was daydreaming about The Shitters.

- I miss these days. Drugs: fun for adults and kids!

- More from the groovy channel.

- Pretty. I wonder if it comes with tiny people that hold out the skirt like that.

- I used to sing this song under my breath to my high school gym teacher. His last name was Carpenter and he was cheating on his wife, the cheerleader coach, with a senior on the dance team. I was terribly clever, no?

- The ugliest things I've seen all day. Really, are you even kidding me?

- And, finally, to get them all out of my system: The Martians. Yep.

Have a great, long, happy, fattening, guilt-free weekend!

What? My favorite Christmas song? Okay... White Christmas, The Drifters.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Happy Solstice

Today is Madeleine's birthday. I thought about doing one of those tribute essays (like this one last year), but the more I write here, the more I feel like I'm drawing sharper distinctions between what's acceptable fodder for public viewing and what stays tucked away. Stuff about me and my guts and my brain and my insecurities? Free reign. Stuff my kids do that make me totally freaking insane? Sure. But the stuff I hold back, that's some stronger stuff. How I really feel about my husband and my kids has become very private. Things that have happened in my past that are ugly and hard are also cut. So I've eliminated the beautiful and the ugly, and all you get is the 4th place finisher for 9th Grade Class Secretary. The middle stuff. Hm. I don't know how I feel about that. I guess it's forcing me to write better?

But some hard thinking on that is going to have to wait.

I've gotta stuff a dinosaur pinata full of gum and crappy whistles. Wish my little Tiny a Happy Birthday, if you stop by. She'll be the one windmilling her arms, trippin on chocolate and glee.

Updated to add: I gave Madeleine a choice and she picked this as the song of the day.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Menagerie


Any experience with gerbils? We were going to get Madeleine a dwarf hamster for her birthday on Thursday, then I read this.

So? Any ideas?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Pretend you're opening an envelope with golden lining...

This morning we had The Money Talk. With eight shopping days left, The Money Talk came early this year. Where we hang our heads and tsk-tsk at our spending habits. Why did we eat out twice the second weekend in November??? Who is this Kathy person and why did I pay her $37 two Thursdays ago? Why didn't you sign up for overdraft protection - no why didn't you - because I told you to - well you're just going to have to go in there on Monday... and so on. It's so goddamn depressing. Not because we're poor, because we're not. We're just incredibly bad at saving. If you look around our house, there's no fancy couch that jumps up and smacks you in the face, saying "IT WAS ME! THIS IS WHERE EVERY EXTRA CENT IN JULY AND AUGUST WENT!!" There's no classy art. Jewels? I own two diamond chips. There should be three in my wedding ring, but one fell out in a basketball game a couple years ago.

So where did it go?

Exhibit A:
Our February Big Sky trip. Madeleine had her first two ski lessons. She loved it so much, when all the bobble-head children went in for hot chocky, she stayed out, riding up and down the 1 degree slope. We also got a cheap babysitter and had a beautiful night out on the mountain. And the two-word clincher: Hot Springs

Exhibit B:
Parties: This was a Big Brother Big Sister auction. I paid a lot of money for those boobs. No, not that. They're real, but full of milky goodness for Pooey. He ran about $2500, plus parts and labor...

Exhibit C:
Family fun in Winthrop, Portland and Pendleton. Trips are fun. Trips cost money. But trips that cost money are more fun than trips that are totally free. Hence Stumptown, Round-Up and the 4th of July were more fun than a trip to the toilet. I couldn't even find a single photo of Madeleine with her charming, I-just-swallowed-Ipecac face for the entire summer.

and finally, Exhibit D:
The Year 2006. We lived and laughed and loved each other, and while it seems like it should be free, it wasn't. But it is freeing, and for that I will gladly incur the debt as 2006 comes to a close.
It's so wonderfully worth it.

Happy Holidays to all of you. Consider this your Christmas Card, unless I find a way to sell my body for some stamps...

Mignon, Jim, Madeleine and Quinn

Friday, December 15, 2006

Recycling. For kids' sake.

I'm sorry, but I have to recycle. We've got two birthday parties today and one tomorrow and Madeleine's is in a week (apparently everyone in Montana got really busy in late March five years ago...). A week full of seven days that are going to seem about 45 minutes long. And also I haven't done Christmas Cards, Quinn is emptying the contents of my wallet and stuffing them down the heater vent and my feet are really freaking cold. That last one is neither here nor there, but it is incredibly distracting when I'm trying to be creative.

So here is the impetus for last year's First Annual B-List Blogger Ornament Exchange Crap:

December 12, 2005

I went to hell yesterday. I mean a cookie/ornament exchange party. I am down on these, in general, because I like my own taste in cookies and ornaments much more than the friends of friends of friends that I meet for the first time at these parties. Who knows if they rub raw pork on their counters before rolling out their mayonnaise and clamato juice holiday shortbread? But. The 5 dozen cookies I came home with were only nauseating because I ate 5 dozen of them. Hence the photo. The ornaments were ugly, as anticipated, so I hid mine in my cookie tin after I saw all the little cheap-o ones hanging from the ornament tree. A plastic car with Scooby-Doo (albeit, in a Santa hat) hanging out the driver's side window? Everyone knows Scooby doesn't drive! Except maybe when he's trippin' on Scooby Snax. I really like classic ornaments, painted or blown glass and the like. The only plastic we have are from previous ornament exchange parties. Before I learned. [Updated to add: Plastic ornaments apparently do serve a purpose. Toddlers can chew on them without a trip to the emergency room. Glass balls? Less satisfactory toddler snacks.]

However, and here's the going-out-on-a-limb part, with all that said, and feeling confident in those of you I've met in this blogging business, I am proposing an ornament exchange. If you're with me, just comment and I'll think of some way to draw names or some business like that.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Not weather, stripping. Weatherstripping, you know?

You know how you settle into the holiday freak show after Thanksgiving? Floating along in a flashy-light haze, eating everything in sight, spending money like it's someone else's problem... then Christmas comes up, taps you on the shoulder and whispers into your ear, "Twelve more shopping days left, Sweetheart." Well here in Montana, Christmas hits you in the head with a shovel, stuffs snow down your back and gestures towards its crotch in the general direction of the calendar. "Yo, bee-yatch, you've got 27 puzzles to buy for your nephews and you fucking idiot - what were you thinking with this whole [said in a very naughty playground voice] 'Blogger Ornament Exchange' shite??"

As I was recovering from the shovel incident this morning, I started picturing the calendar in my head, to see who was going to receive stuff on time and how long I could put off taking the family mugshots for our Christmas card. The calendar, as appeared in my head, was a 12' strip of all-weather seal, laid down in the living room amongst the forest of fallen pine needles and candy cane stains. I scowled at this image. I told myself a calendar should look like a hula hoop, floating in water, but I couldn't get rid of the weather strip image. I can not make myself think of time, or the calendar in particular, as a circle. It has a beginning and an end, and when you get to the end, you turn around and run quickly back to the top to start over again. Like a playground slide. That, in fact, would be a cuter image, but all I've got is the weather stripping.

I'm not trying to get all metaphysical here. In fact, just typing that word made my hands curl up, all arthritic-like. I'm wondering at the simplicity of my mind. I have to think of Big Important things like time, gravity, electricity, feelings in terms of animate objects. Time=weather stripping. Gravity=stretched out rubber band. Electricity=quickly moving water. Love=snuggles (sorry - vomit). I've wondered if this would prevent me from ever being a "great thinker," but then no. I think! I think a lot! About a lot of stuff, that's, like, real deep, you know? In fact, I'm a really great thinker. But this whole weather stripping=time thing is starting to really bug me, because I don't like Christmas being the Grand Finale of the year. I'd rather the Grand Finale be Earth Day, or Secretaries Day, I think. Because secretaries and The Earth don't get nearly enough fanfare and no way would The Earth ever hit me in the head with a shovel.

Today I told myself I'd start working on the hula hoop in water image, but then I googled weather stripping, and I got this. A roll! I can do this! I think I can, because I think. Oh, and hey, look out for Christmas. He's starting to get pissed the whispering thing isn't working. He's thinking about trying goosing.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Time's Up and Me!Me!

I couldn't just say Time's Up. You lost. You will not receive any presents or good cheer or an ornament from a fellow blogger who may know a lot about your bathroom habits, but has no idea what your voice sounds like. What I mean to say is, I now have 15 participants in the Ornament Exchange, and I'll be sending out addresses this evening (if Arabella and Stephanie and TB will get off their lazy pregnant asses and send me their particulars). So you see, that doesn't make a great post, and because of that, I will do as V-Grrrl asked and present you with...

5 Strange Things about Me!Me!

1 strange thing about my life: I am 34 years old but I feel like I'm a 19-year-old boy with a sponsor and a sweet dEck (emphasis, because on a quick reread, I wouldn't want to confuse anyone). It disappoints me that it is inappropriate for me to wear skater chick hoodies and baggy cargo shorts. I also hate the word inappropriate and think it doesn't apply to me. I consistently have dreams in which I can ollie over a garbage can, but in the same dream I will be told by my former soccer coach that I'm too old to try out for her team, and anyway, why am I not wearing any pants?

1 strange thing about my body: I have a very small head. It is disguised by my bizarre hair and enormous brains.

1 strange thing about my personality: I have a very short attention span, even for things I really enjoy, which means this list of 5 is now over.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Ho ho horniments!

More Christmas peripherals (if you've come here for wordy posts about bodily functions, please check back in a couple days)...

It's that time again:
The B-List Bloggers Holiday Ornament Exchange

Last year a few of us B-Listers did it, and it was cool. In 2005 Arabella, Tammie, Stacey and Mrs. H took part - check the links if you want to see what's in store...

So here are the details:
- If you'd like to take part, e-mail me your first and last name and your address and I will coordinate who you will send your ornament to. (My email address is in my profile.) Who YOU will receive an ornament from will be a big ole mystery.
- If you're concerned about privacy, let me know. I'll try to pair you up with others that have similar concerns.
- If you don't want to participate, why have you read this far?
- If you still don't want to participate, but are continuing to read, let me tell you something: I bought a tie for Jim yesterday for our holiday party. It was charcoal with different colored squares. I brought it home and Jim pointed out that it was exactly like Larry King's interview background. He was right. Then he told me from now on he will only wear flat-front pants because pleats are passe. He didn't say passe though. All the other stuff was freakin hot, but if he'd said passe, that would have been much less hot.

- Now, back to
The Exchange
... I'd like to have all the responses by Monday, so let's make the song of the day Get Down On It. Hey you - get your back up off the wall!

Update: Hmm, that was a ho ho-hum first-day response. Now I have to leave this up all weekend so everyone can see it. I think I'll add some pictures.

It's like he thinks he's David Blaine or something. VOILA!

This sums up my first year as a stay-at-home mom. If Madeleine was 15 she'd be all, "Jesus mom! How do you fuck up Campbell's soup?"

But she's not 15 yet, and instead writes notes like this to her sick cousin.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

All I want for Christmas...

A motorcycle
Update: I'm a little overwhelmed right now. I was going to write something frivolous about the disaster that is my holiday decorating, but I got an e-mail just now. An occasional commenter and wonderful man and friend sent me notice that he had fulfilled this wish. Soon a nurse will be travelling to remote villiages in South Africa to treat sick people. She'll have her own motorcycle, her own helmet, and someone who was once hurting and making his children scared and sad will be well because of Jason - aka JMo. This may not be the appropriate response, but I think he should totally get laid tonight. Thank you Jason. You are a good person. You make me want to be good too.

A bag

A leader

Some music

A job

How about you?

Monday, December 04, 2006

So you think you've got a new idea, then...

Yesterday Madeleine went to a birthday party for the little guy that lives next door. He's a good friend of hers, and his mom is a good friend of mine. We had a busy weekend, and in place of regifting something crappy that Santa brought last year because he couldn't read Madeleine's Christmas letter very well, we did some last minute shopping for a gift, wrapping paper, tape and Clicky Black Shoes on the way to the party. There were no Clicky Blacks, which wasn't a heartbreaker, considering it was a gymnastics party and I doubt Clicky Blacks are especially helpful in the giant foam pit. But we did find some Lego thing and a racecar thing and all the rest. It was slightly stressful because we were late and I had to wrap the present in the front seat of the car. My wrapping job was so alarmingly shitty that I purposeful scrumped up the tape and wound torn paper around the batteries so it looked like Madeleine did it. I should be embarrassed by this, but it's not the first time it's happened.

Anyway, after the screaming - er, I mean the gymnastics part - was done, we migrated to the meat locker for the cake and presents. It was 34 degrees in the party enclosure. It's a joyous area, with a cement floor and 7-foot ceilings. Instead of blowing out the candles, the blue-lipped children huddled around them, nervously eyeing the dark corners of the room as if a skinned cow was going to come shooting out on meathooks. Pretty standard for winter parties in Montana. Ho-hum, can't feel my toes again.

So the best party of the party? The gift opening, of course. Not just because of the mob scene of kids pressing forward despite the Event Staff trying to keep them back with tasers and plastic forks. And not because of the cracked-out expression of the birthday boy as he shredded Madeleine's cute attempt at wrapping. It was IO's gift. Yes, I confirmed. Her name was IO. [Insert your own joke/shrug/confused frown here.] She gave him A ROCK!! No, you misunderstand - I'm not shocked or appalled. I'm completely and utterly fucking in awe! The birthday boy was not particularly interested, because the second gift was a noisy, clanging sword, which made me realize what a freaking chump I am. Every party, every year, last minute shopping, trying to be clever, trying to disguise shitty wrapping jobs, trying not be one of the tossed-aside-toys-in-lieu-of-a-noisy-sword people. From now on, it's all rocks, all the time. Maybe we'll mix in a stick or some pea-gravel on occasion, if we're feeling frisky, but from here on out it's gonna be earth. In fact, I bet the whole thing will catch on. Other parents will see the rocks and think, dammit! I'm such a freaking chump - I'm doing that next time! Maybe we'll even name our gifts - they can be like pets! Pet rocks! Brilliant! And then my mind goes EEEERRRRRRRRCH! Oh. Well, we're still doing the rock thing. But we'll call 'em iRock. Because I do.

Friday, December 01, 2006

You can't force different.

Jim's beautiful friend is coming for a visit this weekend. They'll be spending the weekend hiking and hanging out, and I'm going to the Griz game with someone else. Jim's friend has that soft angel hair that looks edible and creamy perfect skin - lickable. Dan. Dan the pretty man. In college Dan dated a woman who's now a famous Gap model, another woman who was in Playboy, and basically anyone else he wanted. But he was also smart and a kind man. He was the Holy Grail. And he was Jim's roommate. Was that difficult? No. I don't, didn't, won't want Dan, because when I hear Holy Grail, I think Overused Metallic Cup. And I am so proud to be different.

I don't like stuff I'm supposed to: cheese on pizza, six-pack abs, Lost, Dooce, mojitos. Sometimes it's physical - cheese on pizza makes me feel like I'm swallowing a loogie - but for the most part I just hate being part of a group. I don't like to be grouped. I'd be the shittiest fish ever. If I were a Canadian goose, I'd totally fuck up the V. On purpose. But I'm not anti-social, I'm just anti-establishment. No, that's giving me too much credit - I'm just anti-should. We should fly south in an aerodynamic formation! Nah, how about let's go west all willy-nilly? If I were a goose, Winged Migration would've been more than just a stoner movie. It would've been Canonball Run, Avian Style. You should see Titanic! No, instead I'll rent it, forget to return it for 2 weeks, then run over it with my truck. You should finish reading Sedaris' Naked! No, instead I'll let Quinn draw all over it then use it to block the stench of dead mouse emanating from my heater vent. You should exercise! Nah, instead I'll just break into that second pack of Pockys. You should shower! Just No. I'm cool, see? REBEL!

As of yesterday I'm on our pediatrician's shitlist because Quinn sleeps with us and still drinks out of a bottle. As soon as I hear the "you need to..." come out of her mouth, the rest just sounds like she's chewing rocks. I just nod, smile and picture myself sitting behind the bleachers and smoking. Which makes me understand why I'm like this. I was a good girl. I always did what I was told. I always answered correctly. I never used the bathroom pass to make out with my boyfriend. I was like a clown balloon. The long phallic kind that clowns twist into various replicas of shit and stick them on the heads of children. When you blow them up a little and squeeze the middle, the air bulges out at the ends. That was me. I bulged out rebellion, but acceptably harnassed rebellion. Like instead of acid washed jeans (the normal) or cut up black jeans with safety pins (small-town ultra-rebellion), I wore huge tie-dyed baseball pants. Instead of Whitesnake (the normal) or Metallica (small-town ultra-rebellion), I listened to Harry Belafonte. Instead of eating pizza in the cafeteria (normal) or nothing (small-town ultra-rebellion), I'd eat a raw green pepper. Hm. Huge tie-dyed baseball pants, Harry Belafonte, and farting green-pepper girl. What the fuck.

Right. After giving it some thought this morning, in anticipation of Pretty Dan, I've come to realize I'm not a rebel for not liking Lost. It doesn't give me Street Cred to shun mojitos. It just makes me boring and strange at parties. I'm not the cool girl smoking behind the bleachers. I'm the girl jumping off the side of the bleachers and breaking her foot, all the while mocking the conformists that wait their turn for the steps. The dorky broken-foot girl in the tie-dyed baseball pants. Woo-hoo! Look at me and how different I am! Are you looking? Please look!