Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A promise

Sunday evening my husband and I were both exhausted from our weekend excursion up North. We were able to hustle our daughter into bed without a fuss but the boys were wired. It was their normal bedtime, 8:00pm, and my man had fallen asleep.

I usually give them a bedtime snack. Years ago they were waking up hungry in the middle of the night and a breakfast bar or crackers keeps their bellies calm for the arduous 8-9 hours of sleep. But Sunday I could barely keep my eyes open, they were being irritating, and all I wanted to do was sleep.

"Time for bed."

"But we didn't get our bedtime snack!"

"Sorry, you were being too silly and wasted too much time. Time for bed."

"But you promised!"

For the first time ever, both of the grown-ups fell asleep before the boys. While drifting off I could hear them setting up a camp site in the bottom bunk resigned to their hungry state.

When I woke up the next morning, this was on my bedside table.

Monday, January 29, 2007




My window looks funny. I can't see out of it.

Yes, honey. That's ice. On the inside of your window. Do you see the temperature shown up here?


What does it read?


What's in front of the 13?

A line.

That's right. It is -13 right now.

And daddy is freaking out right now on this country highway that the engine doesn't freeze.

It didn't. And they got to play in lots of snow. As it fell. We rode in a two-horse open sleigh (through off the Jingle Bells reference) and swam in an (indoor) pool.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Traveling North

As if it isn't going to be cold enough here, we're driving somewhere tomorrow even colder. As in a day-time high tomorrow of 2 degrees. That's the high.

My mother called me worrying that I wouldn't dress the kids warmly enough. Now I know she thinks I am truly incompetent. Because I was thinking of having them run around outside in their bathing suits. Wet.

So we're off to snow country to actually have the kids see some white stuff associated with winter. None of us ski so we were planning to ride in a, yes, one horse open sleigh but it may be too cold for that. Not worth experiencing Jingle Bells if it means losing a nose. This could be a good hang-around-the-resort-kind of weekend. By the pool.

Don't worry. It is indoors.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Kissing Asses

One of the songs given to my family last month is the Dixie Chicks' Taking the Long Way Around. My friend told me that we "were one of the families who wouldn't care that they say 'ass'" in the song. Apparently he and his wife were concerned about some of their family and more conservative friends.

They didn't realize my kids get sent to their room for saying butt instead of bottom when referring to the part of the body that is sat on. Ass would just send me over the deep end. I get laughed at about this but I feel like allowing butt is a slippery slope to butthead. And the idea of hearing a six year old yell "Mom he called me BUTTHEAD!!" over and over is enough to send me into the bottle of gin.

So my boys are singing perfectly in harmony to the following lyric:

I drank with the Irish
Smoked with the hippies
Moved with the shakers
Wouldn't kiss all the asses that they told me to

And not once they have asked about asses or what it means to kiss an ass.

But one day my daughter, clear as a bell said, after singing that lyric:

"She kisses asses."

To which I replied:

"Actually, no, what they are saying is she DOESN'T kiss assess"


And that was that.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Saying goodbye

How do you say goodbye to someone before they go into a casket?

That was the question posed from the back of the van.

I told them about Frank and his call from the hospice. It was a Monday evening when they were four and a half years old and the baby had turned one year old. We had all just walked in the door. I was still in my suit when the phone rang. No one had been fed. I broke the family rule of turning on the TV before dinner to keep the kids quiet.

We talked a little about our shared memories. We met in Florence during my junior year abroad. He and his wife were American ex-pats and would take me in when I wanted to get away from the other students. Whenever we went out for a cappuccino he would always pay with a loud "Let your father's tax dollars pay for this!" He was retired from the Foreign Service and told wonderful stories about bringing his piano to Afghanistan, speaking fluent Hindi in India or getting drunk with Soviet operatives.

That night, with the kids watching television, I asked him how he felt. It was hard for him to speak. The cancer was eating away at his brain.

Frank was in his 70's so some may say he lived a long life. But he still composed symphonies and recorded them in Prague. He was working on several compositions. He had to cancel a trip to Europe because he was too weak.

He said "I'll see you this summer when I visit" I knew this wouldn't be true. That this was good-bye.

"That's right. I'll see you. Bye."

I hung up and burst into tears. He died that Wednesday morning, 36 hours later.

I told the boys this story. Crying while driving.

It's hard to say good bye to someone before they go into a casket. Very very hard.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Yucky white shirts

We played the green team again this past Saturday. This was the team we played against for our first game of the season. The "White Ghosts" just kept scoring white the green team looked lost. There was even the little guy who circled our team and called us the "yucky white team" with tears in his eyes.

Little green guy was Mr. Confidence on Saturday. This kid, who is shorter than my toddler (more a comment on the size of my toddler), scored two baskets during the game. He got past or around much taller kids and just nailed the basket. He's not on my team. I don't coach this kid. But I was so proud of him. So happy for him. And he looked like he had won Olympic Gold.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

I swore never to do it

I wasn't going to compare them.

I wasn't going to talk about bodily functions.

But this cannot go without mentioning.

My guys, my six-year-old guys, are still incapable of "holding it". When they realize they have to go to the bathroom, it causes absolute panic. They scream bloody murder until they get to a bathroom, or at least a bush on the side of the road. And that has been done. On the side of very, very busy highways. With me declaring that if our van is hit they are responsible. Start that therapy fund now. For all of us.

So my daughter, my sweet, smart, funny, sophisticated daughter, has started to officially "potty train". She is 2 years old, 8 months and 26 days. Her brothers started (yes on the same day) at 3 years, 3 months and 3 days (I kid you not). Blessedly they actually finished it all in 5 days. She's taking a bit longer. But that is all forgiven in light of this actual event.

Tonight, after we got in the van to go get her brothers, she announced she needed to go back into her school to "go potty". We were late to get them. I asked her to wait. Blessedly she said "o.k." and sang along to YMCA (played 5 times). It took us about 15 minutes to get to their school. I expected her pants, underwear and seat to be wet. Soaking wet. I was just grateful she didn't scream the entire ride.

She was dry.




"Honey. Do you want to use the bathroom in your brothers' school?"


And she did.

How can a two and a half year old girl keep her wits about her with a full bladder while two six year old boys can't?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Armor museum

Last month, my brother and sister-in-law did their annual holiday trek across the country to visit 97 family and friends in 10 days (only a slight exaggeration).

Much to my surprise and the kids' joy, we got them for an entire day. Uninterrupted.

This is the special aunt who caused the boys at age 2 years old to scream at the top of their lungs at the entrance of a fine arts museum because they were so excited to see her. This is the uncle who buys the cool shirts. These are the folks I flew across the country to visit for a long weekend so they could spend time with their then 8-month-old niece. I love these folks.

So what did we do after picking up the boys from the half day of school before Christmas vacation? We took a road trip to an armory museum an hour from our house.

It was terrific. I love bizarre museums. Do you have any?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Because you asked

Well at least Kate and Chelle did after reading Powder before the Protest. That is me holding up the blue circle in all my 1992 splendor.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Two basketball games

We went to two basketball games in less than 24 hours. Friday night we went to a professional game. It was one of those evenings that made my husband's frequent late nights more bearable. We were in the firm's suite overlooking the court. To give you a sense of where we were, the television cameras were to the right of us.

So we had food, drinks and our own bathroom. We did share the space with 8 people in their 20's. They pretty much left us alone. Or rather we gave them the space to be in their 20's at a game with free beer.

The boys were just thrilled to watch grown-ups play. I would've been too if those grown-ups actually played well. When a teammate threw a pass, and it bounced off the other player's back, in disgust I told the boys they play better.

For the most part, our daughter entertained herself with the Internet access. Which made me realize that is what we need at the little court we play kindergarten basketball on. That or leave her at home with a babysitter so my husband can watch the boys play and I don't have a ruptured disc. Essentially she wants to be held by me while I am coaching. Which means all 39 pounds of her are riding piggy-back as I am running up and down the court. Or else crying hysterically on the sidelines as my husband clutches her. At one point last week he took her to the playground outside the gym. Cars were slowing down because she was yelling at the top of her lungs "Don't take me!! I want my MOMMY!" He brought her back in the gym and I lugged her around so her father, my husband, wouldn't be accused of kidnapping.

Saturday's game with the kindergartners was a good game (especially since Little Miss Internet spent it with a babysitter at home). Lot's of passing and some of them are understanding dribbling. The two superstar shooters keep running with the ball as if they are on the football field, or couldn't be bothered with bouncing it a couple of times. Next week, I become the hard-nosed coach who demands dribbling. Baskets don't count if there wasn't some ball bouncing before the swish.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Powder before the protest

I've dragged my sons to a couple of rallies, generally to protest cuts in government programs. There are photos of them as 10 or 11 month olds wearing stickers on their hats showing support for the state Medicaid program.

What I haven't shown them is an AP photo of me from the Washington DC pro-choice rally in 1992. I'm clearly visible holding a blue "Keep Abortion Legal" sign. My mouth is wide open in mid-shout.

By then I was not a regular reader of fashion magazines. A friend called the house in New Orleans and told one of my housemates that there was a photo of me in a magazine. I wasn't home so he ran to the store and bought me a copy. He left it on my futon (don't laugh, you had one too) with a note:

How to powder before the protest, see page 36.

And that, my friends, is how I ended up in Glamour magazine.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bodily bracelets

I was putting one of my brass bangles from China on my two-year-old's wrist. Etched in the middle of each one are dragons and birds with their swirling tails extending out. A colleague from a different job brought them back for me after she visited family in China. I was trying to explain to my daughter the significance of the bracelets.

"Someone gave me these bracelets."

"Some one (pause) gave them to you?"

"Yes. They're from China."

"They're from vagina?"

"No. China. The country. China."

"Bracelets from vagina" and she walked away.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

HSM in my head

I'm not sure who to blame.

I've kept the wonderful world of Disney out of our lives (Beauty and the Beast and Mary Poppins don't count). I'm particularly horrified for what passes as music on the Disney radio station. What little I knew about High School Musical ensured my kids wouldn't hear it.

But I forgot about the school playground.

So when a friend (or at least I thought she was a friend) sent us her kids' favorite songs on a CD as a holiday greeting I was flattered. She had received our various birthday CDs for years and said those compilations were some of her kids' favorite discs. They in turn had been nagging her to make their own and specifically wanted us to have it. They even had songs from our CDs (Sweet Caroline and Fly Me to the Moon). There's Barbra singing Jingle Bells. Now my kids are learning "Love that dirty water."

And then there are these two songs from High School Musical, or HSM. One about being in this together (whatever this is) and keeping your head in the game (complete with squeaking sneaker sounds). Surprisingly my guys knew the songs. They claim other kids sing them on the playground. Alright, I can deal with the music.

Then the goddess truly conspired against me.

My brother's wife's cousin (got that?) works for a marketing company that promotes movies. She invited the boys to her office and let them walk into a room full of movie posters, promotional materials and DVDs.

She handed them High School Musical - the 2-DVD Remix. And we've watched it. Multiple times.

During the third viewing in four days I had an inspiration. The director-choreographer (really, watch the credits) must have made this to be fodder for a drag show. Seriously - who would come up with "Sharpe" as the Queen of the Drama club, or have the heroine writhe around on a school stairwell during her big emotive song if he didn't want it to be recreated by elegant men in high heels with better waists then most women? I have visions of Velveeta La Plauche returning to the stage.

Now I can barely contain myself. The kids can't figure out what is so funny.

Monday, January 08, 2007

A Kind [future] Man

Basketball started up this past weekend. Everyone was a bit rusty. One poor kid returned after missing all but the first practice. He had a minor surgical procedure requiring him to lay low for a few weeks. This truly tiny guy just looked so lost as everyone ran up and down the court, passing, getting rebounds and generally hustling.

On the other end of the spectrum was kid with the awesome name. He was also a bit rusty ("only" making three baskets instead of his usual seven) but there were these moments of sheer brilliance as he faked left only to go right (remember this kid, and everyone else, is six years old).

At one point, awesome name had a perfect breakaway and I yelled to him to stop. He looked at me blankly. I told him to pass the ball to tiny guy. He turned toward his teammate, gave him a big grin and gently passed the ball. Tiny guy got it and promptly threw it into the hands of the other team. Perfect breakaway ensued with a basket. For the other team.

What did awesome name kid do? He didn't complain or get mad. He kept passing to other kids. And he eventually got another rebound. I yelled "All yours!" He got his perfect breakaway.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Back in Black (AC/DC style)

She was a hit at the annual big city arts festival ushering in the New Year. Groups of people would stop, look at her, then laugh. Some even hung by her to be near and point. Was it her big blue eyes? The curly blond locks that make her look like a Botticelli cherub? Her bubbly personality?

No, it was her AB/CD shirt. Yet another cool gift from her cool Northwest Uncle and Aunt.

If you don't get this reference, click here. And if your child doesn't have a cool Northwest Uncle and Aunt to purchase this, you can find it here.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


I went to the Deval Patrick Inauguration. While I couldn't see the proceedings, it was still a sight to behold.

Good luck Governor. Many of our hopes, wishes and dreams are on your shoulders.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Three troupes

The kids and I took my mother into the big city for the annual New Year's First Night arts celebration (she was a trooper). The convention center is turned into a multi-floored festival of all things artistic - music, film, crafts, fine arts, dance and singing. We saw hundreds of people watching improv and sneaked the boys into a packed room for a percussion demonstration. We also watched skateboarders and cyclists do aerial stunts and trampoline dudes do a very funny act (involving bouncing very high off their bellies then pretending to be Superman - alright it was funny at the time).

Then there were the dancing troupes that rotated on a stage in the same room with craft tables. One group was the "Latin" group. Girls (and a few boys) ranging from ages 5 to 21 (according to their announcer) did mambo, salsa, merengue and other dances from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and other places. It was funny how they were all pretty ho-hum during the performance. You could tell they had been swinging their hips, working those feet and tossing their heads since they were two weeks old.

The "black" group was also made up of girls (and a few boys) ranging from 5-ish to older teen (no announcer for this one). There was more energy in their steps. You could tell there was a comfort in their movements. They also looked like kids who had been dancing since they were born. And not in that taking-classes-forever sort of way. What they were doing was second nature.

Then there was the "white" group. Oh, the white group was made up of nine pre-teen girls (no boys) who, well, were ridiculous. They sang covers and their own songs with headsets and coordinated dance moves ("Girls Just Want to Have Fun" will never be the same). The dance moves didn't have the fluid ease of the earlier groups, rather a crazed urgency of LOOK AT US WE CAN DANCE!!!! There were some parents dressed up in crazy I'm still cool outfits and it just had a general freakishness about it.

But what was gross were the little girls in the audience - 4, 5, 6 years old - staring up at them on the stage. And the performers were winking, smiling and pointing. I hope these little girls were told later that this group wasn't talented. And then listened to Sarah Vaughan, Rebirth Brass Band or Cole Porter on the car ride home.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Because the Erasure shirt is too small

Huh? The Erasure shirt?

Monday, January 01, 2007


Life is all about change. Isn't that an old cliche? My life seems to be in a constant state of change. This coming year is no different and it has me freaking out, well just a little.

Not only are we expecting our second child, we are expecting to move. The baby is exciting, wanted so badly and loved. The move, well is scary and unknown. Now sweet readers of the blog exchange, you may be wondering where we are moving this year. Me too! The location of the great, life changing move is unknown.

Sounds a little crazy right?

I am having a lot of anxiety about the vague nature of our future. My amazingly smart and dangerously handsome husband has been applying for academic positions in Canada, to take us home again. Unfortunately, the nature of his field dictates that he spend two years doing a post-doc position first. We have been in California doing just that, for a year and a half. So he *might* get an interview in the next few months or we officially apply for another post-doc in another location in the US.

Ultimately, change is in the air. Either way once our baby boy arrives we are heading on out. Hitting the open road of adventure. In the meantime I am going to try to not panic. Change is good.


My husband and I have moved a few times over the course of our marriage. Every time it gets harder to leave behind the amazing mothers I meet along the way. California has been harsh on us laid back Canadians. Neither my husband and I are cut out for this high paced, uber intense lifestyle. It really just is not our speed. Our daughter does not remember a life with out traffic jams, palm trees, beaches, zoos and Disneyland. Yet our son that will be born this year will never remembering being here at all.


Chelle, a Canadian girl living it up California style with her husband, daughter and pregnant with a son. Staying at home, keeping sane with her Apple computer, designing blog templates and going on endless adventures with a smart, shy toddler. You can find Allison, your blog host, over at http://soodz.com/blog.

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