Friday, November 28, 2008


This is actually the first Black Friday we've been around for in years.  Last year, we were in Austria.  The year before that, it was Cancun!  In 2005, we made our first trip to the UK.  The year before that we had just moved to California.  And 2003 was our first year with the babies and, of course, with Mema.  :)  But it's the 2002 Black Friday that I remember most fondly.

I was 6 months pregnant then, still working, and nearing my max weight of 209 lbs pretty rapidly.
I'd somehow gotten it into my head that I really wanted to go shopping the day after
 Thanksgiving, and Amy, rarely saying no to me at that point, reluctantly agreed.  So, off we go to the mall where we spent the entire day fending off questions about just how past due I was, whether I was carrying quadruplets, etc, etc, etc.  And despite my actually wearing slip-on sneakers that day (for those of you who can even believe that I owned a pair), and despite the fact that we stopped every other store for snack, and despite the fact that Amy was carrying all 10 bags herself, the contractions began setting in around 3pm.

Amy quickly ushered me past the hordes of other shopaholics, struggled to get me into the truck, and got me on the phone with my OB.  And so began the first day of mandatory bedrest, which lasted through the holidays, through a move to another house, into the new year, into their 40th week, and up to their due date.

So, rather than do my part to help stimulate the economy today, I think I'm gonna wrap myself up in the monsters and remember everything it took to get them here.

Anyway...there's always Cyber Monday to shop.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Okay, folks, so here's my big recommendation for a great Christmas gifts for the under 9 crowd.  The kids are in love with, like head over heels for, the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osbourne.  The stories are part mystery/part adventure and all centered around a brother (Jack, 8) and sister (Annie, 7) who time-travel via a magic treehouse in their backyard (ala Quantum Leap, for you 80s babies like me!).  

So, yes, very educational -- lots of history, lots of science, lots of literary references, lots of moments of having to use good judgment, lots of sibling behavior lessons, etc.

I'd downloaded #1-#6 from iTunes onto my iPod a while back for our last vacation and they've listened to them religiously ever since.  Mommy, though, finds the audiobook voice of Annie very creepy (I know, sounds like a potentially juicy therapy session to me, too), but we may have to take a step back from technology on this one and go with the real live paper and ink versions to maintain familial harmony.

So then as luck would have it, while visiting Tia Sonia last week, I came upon books 7 and 8 and quickly snatched them up.  The kids happily devoured them within minutes and are now ready to move on.  Logging onto the website, I was excited to discover that there are at least 37 more that we have to catch up on.  They're pretty easy reading for the kids, and, apparently, there's even a musical (although sadly mostly touring the midwest).  :(

So here are links to the first 8 in the series that we can personally recommend:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I love flying.  

I hate -- HATE, HATE, HATE!!!! -- the night before a flight: the stress of leaving my family, writing little notes and sewing sock puppets at 2am (yes, I'll post pics when I get back),sorting through piles of clothes, packing your life into little baggies and too-small compartments, having to actually CHOOSE outfits in advance, which always makes me feel claustrophobic in some way - constraints on my freedom - loss of free choice...

what if I change my mind? 

what if I'm not in that mood? 

and how, in God's name, can I leave any shoes behind?

But then I'm at the airport, and I invariably find it all to be surprisingly calming when I have to travel somewhere by myself (emphasis here).  Something about being alone, though, amongst a sea of strangers, the anonymity of it all, the disconnectedness, feeling free of any social or familial obligations.  I don't know exactly.  

And I tend to feel really confident when I travel -- despite whatever shit I happen to be going through at home because, well, because these people don't know me.  They don't know any of my faults, can't catalogue my insecurities -- hell, I can be whomever I choose to be.  So, I walk around feeling really self-assured and can see in the faces of others that I'm obviously projecting.  But not that bitchiness that I know you're thinking I'm referring to (Elise!).  It's something else, I think.  Because, evidently, I'm very approachable.  

Men and women.  Old and young.   Speaking varying degrees of English and needing assistance.  Everyone seems to think it's okay to talk to me -- that my personal space forcefield has been temporarily disabled -- that I'm at their personal disposal.  And the most surprising part is that I'm uncharacteristically not so annoyed.  

People are always so kind and really helpful to me.  With the lifting of my fashion-sans-function bags into the overhead, and with the changing of seats if I'd prefer the window or aisle that day, and with my always taking up way too much space with all my accoutrements overflowing onto the seat next to me.  

I never end up sitting next to the woman who's coughing up a lung, or just won't shut up about her aching corn-adorned feet, which of course she must reveal during the course of conversation , or the man who drools while his head falls on your shoulder as he naps, or the obsessive networker with no impulse control or ability to self-censor.  I almost never get the annoying child kicking my seat  - and the few times that I have, I've had no problem standing up and turning around to ask him directly to stop when his mother chooses to ignore it (which works like a charm, by the way).

But, for whatever reason, I seem to have pretty good travel karma.  And my faith in humanity, trite as that sounds, is temporarily restored.  Or else it's just that the flight attendants have been especially generous with my vodka tonics these days.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


"Mama, I wish I was a bird."

"Why, papa? So you can fly?"

"So I could follow your plane all the way to Massachusetts so you wouldn't be lonely."

Monday, November 17, 2008


I know where every single clean restroom is with a purse hanger and/or bag table in the stall within a 5-mile radius of the kids' school.

No, it is not sad! Shut up!

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Saia's finally found something she seems to be a little excited about!  Gave her my digital one afternoon when she was pouting boredom and instructed her to walk around the backyard and shoot things that she thought were interesting. Here's her first attempt at a "show":  


"Mama," she says, pointing to the microwave as it begins to beep. "The corn is done."

"Yes, babe, I know," I reassure her. "I've got it."

"Mama," she cries, "the cobbler is going to burn," as she sniffs the air when the peaches begin to drip on the oven element.

"Don't worry, honey," I say. "I'll take care of it."

"Mama," she calls out again, "the pasta is boiling over."

"No, sweetheart," I say through gritted teeth. "It really is just fine. I've got it all under control. Trust me."

And that's when I realize that she doesn't. It why she's always mothering her brother, and contradictory with her Mommy, and all up in my kool-aid (a favorite Amyism). She doesn't trust that any of us can do a better job than she can.

And where most people would say, "Oh, poor baby, what have I done?" I can't help but beam a little on the inside - because on the outside, of course, she's on the verge of her third freaking timeout for smarting off again!!

Friday, November 14, 2008


So, it's been two weeks since I resigned.

And I've been to the grocery store at least 5 times, Costco an easy 3, Starbucks EVERY single day since, and Target a cool 8 times. And not just to the one closest to me. PUH-lease! The shame. The horror. No, no, I patronized 3, yes 3, different Targets in 3, yes 3, different cities in less than 14, yes just 14, little days.

And do you know what the first thing I noticed each and every Target has in common? Just how many things there are out there that I just never realized I needed! No, seriously, people -- neeeeeeeded!

How did they know? These brilliant minds, these geniuses of branding and demographics research, these Einsteins behind Target marketing. My god, it's like they're reading my mind! Around every corner was something I just had to have more than the last. How had I so clumsily missed these treasures on previous visits? How had they escaped my grasp? To think I could so brazenly call myself a decent cook without that 12" teflon aerated pizza pan all these years?! How I had made my family suffer through an infinite number of soggy crusts! And here it was on sale. What an utter fool I'd be to walk on by. And oh, how considerate of them, the gods of the bullseye, to place this teeny-tiny muffins pan right here on the next shelf. Why, I don't even have to move to get my hands on that one. So now I'm not only feeling like a better person, but dammit if I'm not just the freaking pillar of efficiency!

And trust me when I say that I am really good. I'm just zooming along, boy, knocking out my actual legitimate list in less than 20 minutes. But that was just the tip of the iceberg.  It was only 9:30, afterall, and I didn't have to pick up the kids from school until 1.  

Have you any idea how many things there are for a $1 there? 

My cart was quickly overflowing with individual tissue packs that rub your nose raw, travel-size wipies that dry out in 2 days, Q-tip packets of 10 that barely have enough cotton and almost always make your ear bleed (but just a little), and, let's face it, people, you really can't ever have too many little bottles of hand sanitizer on a rubber string, can you?

And then it happened.  After 3 1/2 hours of hunting and pecking, I finally came up for stale, filtered retail air to the most unbelievable sight.  There I was in the middle of Home Improvement picking out yet another price-cut washcloth, the color of nothing that exists in nature, when I found myself surrounded by a sea of zombies. Tens of what used to be women, all shells now, husks with giant red carts for their fifth appendage, shuffling up and down the aisles scanning anything with a Price Cut, Sale or Clearance tag.  All of them dressed from head to toe in workout wear they no doubt purchased at Target...on clearance, of course, with coffee stains down their chest, bags under their eyes, pale skin with the tint of flourescence, and no intention of extending their cardio efforts beyond racing between Home Decor and Seasonal to ensure they picked up the very last holiday wreath for $23.99.  Every last one of them with a vacant faraway look on their face, like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, forever lost in the worm hole of Issac Mizrahi and Mossimo.

Was this my destiny?  Is this my path?  It couldn't be.  That's not me.  I had a list.  I was still dressing in my business casual clothes, doing my makeup and hair, wearing heels, for crissakes  -- high ones!!!  

But I find myself adding new necessary little things to my list daily - seal-a-meal bags, dog treats, the 145th mini sprial bound notebook for Santiago this year. And I'm trapped once again in the vortex. "At Tarjay," I'll text Amy, "Need anything?" And she's just no help -- in fact, she's little more than an enabler, she is, fostering my addiction with coupons and a Target credit card. Watching silently as I dust off my hot pink Nike outfit. Contributing not only willingly but eagerly to my long as, of course, they continue to advertise the best price for Red Bull and Tom's Toothpaste.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Black and White

No, this is not another political perspective. You'll have to visit my other blog for that (when I get around to updating it, of course).

This is about watching Chago draw the other day - his current obsession is with little spiral bound notebooks - one picture per page. No, it's more like one scene per page -- like a comic book, you know? And after going through several notebooks in just two weeks, I finally ask him why he only draws in black ink, thinking it must have something to do with the fact that he's just always in a hurry, no time to go back and color things in, always on to the next picture in his head, right?

No, he tells me. "They're stories from long long ago, Mom," he explains with just a hint of condescension in his 5-going-on-15 voice. "That's why they're in black and white."

Monday, November 03, 2008

I DID IT!!!!

I quit my job.

After 4 years (and of that, at least 3 1/2 years too many), I finally gave my notice and walked out the door.

Ever the worry wart, however, I'm of course plagued with the gnawing "what the hell am I gonna do now?" question pounding in my ears. What kind of a person walks away from a perfectly good job with the economy in such a state, with poverty at such a high, with unemployment rates skyrocketing, for f*ck's sake?! WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING!!????!!!

Why, I'll just start a new blog, replies one of my more optimistic personalities. I'll chronicle my new life (temporary though it may be -- or not, depending on my mood that day), note my every new adventure, make this a grand social experiment, chart my new journey, gory details and all...YAY! a new project!

Hey, it's either that or another baby.