Celebrated Mark's 40th birthday today at Dean's parent's house. We ate vegan chinese food. It was good, it was different. The girls ate it. I guess I don't totally get the point of making 'fake' chicken out of tofu when you aren't a vegetarian. Call me crazy. :)
The best part of today was taking a walk around Larsen Lake with the whole family. There are blueberry fields around the lake and it was just beautiful in the late afternoon light.
Afterward we went back to the house and ate cake. Dean and I went with Ellen later to take the girls to see The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It was a little intense, so I was glad that Avery fell asleep almost right off. Viola really enjoyed it and as we were leaving suggested we see it again. It was pretty much how I remember it except maybe not with so much of a battle scene.
We have lots of plans for the rest of this week. Must get sleep!
Christmas is over and we spent today recovering. Okay, not so much recovering as decompressing. Everyone slept in until noon and then we went to Barnes and Noble to do a little post-holiday-sale browsing. The, of course, we went next door and got some coffee. The rest of the day was spent at the Power's family home. Our girls played with their girls. Margaret and I gossiped and laughed away the day. We had a recap of Christmas dinner with ham, turkey, sweet potatoes and all the rest. Finally, we came back to the hotel at around 10:30pm and now everyone except me is sleeping.
I've been up watching '24'. I can't seem to stop.
What do I say about Christmas? The best part of the day for me was when my dad opened his gift: a gift certificate for new skis from Sturtevants. He is an expert skiier and has skiied for far too long on his outdated rossignols. I think he was in complete disbelief and that was pretty exciting.
The worst part of the day was checking my e-mail to find a message from Dean's brother attacking our gift-giving habits. It is a long story but essentially, Dean's sister Ellen and I were trying to give advice to Mark on selecting a gift for his wife, Yingbo, for Christmas. This advice was unsolicited. Mark's idea of a fine gift to her was a leather-bound notebook from Harvard(he picked it up there as he has been working on a project for his company in MA). I wouldn't have a problem if he'd just said, "Hey, I got it covered, don't worry about it". Instead, he chose not to say anything and then write me an e-mail. The other thing was that in his defense of his gift-giving and his anger at us for interfering, he made some statements which implied that Dean and I are posturing by trying to give everyone expensive gifts at Christmas. He also said that the only reason he gives gifts at Christmas is 'defensively' so he doesn't have to feel guilty, out of some social obligation.
This really set me off because I am a generous person. It gives me a great deal of pleasure to give things to people. I always try to select thoughtful gifts, not necessarily expensive ones. Ultimately, though, I am not a very frugal person. I don't worry about whether there will be enough money. Dean and I are relatively smart about our finances and I don't tend to throw money away. When I do buy something I prefer to purchase items of quality that will be useful and last. I may not be able to see family whenever I want throughout the year, but I'll be damned if I can't buy them a nice gift on Chrstmas if I want.
Anyhow, it really upset me to think that all these years, I thought that we were doing something nice- trying to get nice gifts at Christmas for people in Dean's family. It makes me sad to think that all this time I've just been breeding resentment and feelings of forced obligation.
I didn't even really want to go to Dean's parents on Christmas afternoon for dinner. What made me go was that my parents weren't going to go over if I didn't, and I know Dean's dad really enjoys spending time with my step-dad. I know, too, that my family enjoys seeing Dean's family and having a relationship with them. I also try never to miss an opportunity to spend time with Ellen and Marty. They are definately people I'd want to be friends with, even if I wasn't related to them.
So I went and had a really good time. We ate turducken and, as always, Dean's mom put together a fabulous dinner. Ellen brought this really interesting and tasty sweet potato salad and a rice pilaf that was to die for. The kids enjoyed themselves and eventually ended up asleep- Avery in my arms. It was a sweet moment and I gave pause to consider how many fewer opportunities there have been lately to cuddle her to sleep in my arms.
Christmas morning was great. We opened stockings and mine was stuffed withan interesting assortment, including twinkies and fritos with bean dip, leading to jokes about 'dreaming of a white-trash christmas'. Dean gave me a fat gift certificate to Starbucks, some bar accesories(a new shaker), some most excellent books(Jimmy Carter's new one), and apparently, I'll be getting a new saddle when we get home. Yippee!! The girls were excited about their ice skates for about five minutes until they moved on to all their my little pony stuff. Avery has become very attached to this moving, meowing cat that Grandma Marguerite gave her. They both got a doctor's kit and a cabbage patch doll(they've already figured out how to put the two together :) ). Avery was especially excited about her new ballet slippers from my parents. Viola keeps finding excuses to get undressed and put on her new bathrobe.
Not to brag, but Santa was extra good to me. I got pearls from my mom and dad. I got a blow torch from my sisters- seriously. It's a little one for making creme brulee, but still! Ellen gave me Desperate Housewives on dvd, praise jeebus, now I can watch it over and over again!
It was a good Christmas for the most part, but really, I'm good for another year on spending time with some relatives. That's always how it is, right?
Avery with Grandma Yo on Christmas Eve:
Me and the Christmas Fritos:
The three of us sisters:
Avery in her new finery:
Grandpa Steve and Lily the Wonder Dog:
Mama & Papa, twoo wuv:
My little sugarplum:
Well, after yesterday's episode at the mall which ended with me crying and screaming all the long drive back to the hotel, I awoke this morning resolved to make today about the kids. I know that seems counterintuitive, the kids were an absolute nightmare last night so, you know, make a fun day for them. But really, while my kids occasionally behave badly, the over-the-top misbehavior of yesterday I feel was the result of too much neglect, too many hours sitting in cars and shopping malls and being out of their normal routine. So we went to the Discovery Museum at Factoria Mall.
We spent probably four or five hours there and then met my parents for dinner at Red Robin. The kids loved every minute. We had a little break to read "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" out on a bench, but otherwise it was all about playing with the water toys, climbing in the tree-house and playing with the extensive train set. Avery wore erself out enough that after mac & cheese at Red Robin, she crawled into my lap and fell asleep in my arms. In a short while, we'll be heading over to Margaret's place so the kids can all play together. Later, we'll wrap gifts back at the hotel.
Looks like all ggifts have arrived on tinme, including a massive box from the Monastery Bakery in Virginia which makes the WORLDS BEST FRUITCAKE (and I don't even really like fruitcake, but this stuff is da bomb!). Between all the wine, choclate and fruitcake... I have no idea who to give all this stuff to... I'm going to just start eating and drinking it all now I think.
This is the most unprepared I've been for Christmas. Usually, before we even leave for Seattle, I've got everyone's presents squared away- shipped and wrapped. We've been shopping over the past couple of days. I even had to place a one-day delivery order with Amazon. I'm worried stuff won't show by Friday and I'll be picking through the leftovers at the mall come Saturday. At best I'll be frantically wrapping gifts for the next few days. At worst, I'll be one of the pathetic millions thronging the mall this weekend probably dying of carbon monoxide poisoning behind some old grandpa's buick as I wait for a spot in the parking garage.
The kids have been a trial. I don't know what's up, but they've been extra cranky and fighting like cats & dogs. I mean, I know their schedules are screwed up, they're out of their regular environment and having to deal with relatives who have different household rules than we do... but come on, do you really have to hit and kick each other every 60 seconds? Can you like hold off for, I don't know, two minutes instead?
The good news is all this stress has led me to find ways to relieve said stress. Let's just say that the counter and the shower in our hotel room bathroom have been getting put to better use than they've probably been in a long time. I wonder when the kids are going to start wondering why mommy and daddy keep locking themselves in the bathroom?
So, no relatives for today. We're meeting up with friends. I'll drop Dean and the girls off so I can go have lunch with Andrea and then Margaret and I are meeting up to take our kids to the 'indoor park' (aka germ factory) at the mall.
All I know is I must get me to a Starbucks asap.
PS Nancy is the only one who wants a present? Sad people, really sad. And here I thought my demographic skewed toward alcohol consumers. Send me those addresses, you'll be glad you did.
So, I'm in Seattle. We're here for our annual Christmas sojourn. In keeping with my mental status this year the theme is "Booze". Everyone is getting wine for Christmas.
It's time for last call, folks. Send me your snail mail addresses and you'll get a holiday gift. It might be a while before the "Booze" theme comes around again, so I'd jump on this one. I don't promise it will arrive by Christmas, but you may have something to celebrate with by New Year's.
So, we drove up. I know, I'm insane. Work even pays for my flight. So why didn't I fly? A bout of insecurity left me feeling the need to know I could throw everything into a vehicle and high-tail it the hell out of here at a moment's notice.
Haven't you noticed, everyone seems a little fragile this year?
Driving up through Oregon was an adeventure. I'd like to bitch and whine but really I found it exciting. We'll be telling tales of jack-knifed semis and overturned cars for years to come. All the while we laughed knowingly, jackasses who don't know you never touch the brakes when there is a sheet of ice under your car. Portland was gridlocked. We crept through the city. Dean and I had long talks and drank hot cocoa from gas stations. It was the best twenty-four hours of the year. That's right, folks, the drive I usually make in 12 hours took us a full day.
We're staying at the Red Lion in Bellevue. The rooms have all be recently renovated and the beds are amazingly comfy. Although, I'd pretty much sleep on a bed of nails rather than rely on the kindness of fanily for accomodations. Everyone is just happier when we stay in a hotel. Plus, I like the daily maid service.
I've been working like a dog. I've even been to visit clients since we arrived. Can I just say, I love working in the wine industry? I love my clients. What a bunch of savvy, eclectic people. And I get to eat lunch with them. But work finally seems to be going well. Mike is back from Costa Rica, so I'm no longer 'busier than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest'. Now I get to focus on my own clients a bit more.
Christmas shopping is almost done. Everyone is getting great gifts this year, I'll tell you all about it later because I wouldn't want to ruin any surprises.
I'm entirely engulfed in '24'. God, I love that show. I miss my Tivo right now, especially my Daily Show. Sad little Bunky.
Hope everyone is having a safe and happy holiday.
PS my children are constantly trying to kill each other. Is this normal behavior? They are really loud, too. Do they grow out of that? (Hm. Maybe not, I'm kinda loud myself).
Yes, the countdown to Christmas is on. It's ON!
We put up the tree last night at 1:30 am. Being the good mom that I am, you can see my children have highly regimented bedtimes before midnight. Not. Avery hung all her ornaments on one branch. Viola was most concerned that we didn't have an angel for the top. We finally dug one out.
I loaded up some old Christmas CDs into my iTunes and we had some holly-jolly dancing going on. Then, to wind down, you know at 2:30 am, we listened to the Vienna Boys Choir sing Highlights from Handel's Messiah. I did end up having to download #56 from iTunes. How could #56 NOT be a highlight?
The best part is now my Carpenter's Christmas Portrait is all queued up. Woo hoo!
Hey, a little holiday weight loss secret? You might think that eating a whole box of See's Peppermints would make you gain some weight? Nope, not at all. In fact, as long as you remember to eat the whole box all at once, you'll probably lose a couple of pounds.
Since all I ever seem to do is BITCH lately...
Today a sweater came that I ordered. I was so happy because I coveted it from the moment I saw it. It is a pale blue, mid-thigh length wrap sweater that ties around the waist. When I first encountered it, the price was $95 and I just couldn't stomach the idea of forking over almost $100 for a sweater. Well, not for a blue one, maybe for a black one that I could wear with everything... Anyhow, I went to the website to see if it had been discounted and it was gone. I was sad. But then I came across an old catalog from this place and so I went back to the site and entered in the actual item number for the sweater. LO! There was the sweater and in stock and the best part, only $20! So I bought it. HA!
I was so happy, I wore it over my pajamas today, even though I wasn't going anywhere special.
Viola is sick. Her asthma has gone full-blown. She's been getting albuterol and pulmicort via the nebulizer most of the day. She was coughing so hard earlier, I finally broke and gave her some of the 'good' cough syrup just so her little body could have a rest.
I'm tired and my shoulder is all hurty. It's funny because it actually hurts more now that it is immobilized.
Did I mention I got a new laptop from work on Wednesday? That's a good thing because I don't think my clients were going to have any more of this "sorry, my comuter is broken again" crap. I was regularly getting messages like "The internal temperature of the computer has reached an unsafe level".
I've been doing some Christmas shopping. It's pretty exciting. I bought the girls ice skates! How much fun will that be? I'm going to have to dig mine out. We used to go skating on a lake when I was living in Germany, so I had my own skates.
I'm going to ride this weekend. Misty is going to lunge me. It could be very bad or very good. Hopefully, I won't break anything else. :)
Thank you to everyone who wrote comments on my last post. I'm glad I'm not the only one flying the Mommy-Dearest flag, but I'm sad, too. Does everyone have mother issues? Are my girls going to feel about me like I feel about my mom? That just makes me incredibly sad.
Jodi- I'm sorry that we had similar childhoods- I wouldn't wish it on anyone. I mean, I don't want to soud all melodramatic and like it was all bad... but there were parts that I could really have done without.
Nancy- You can write me any time if you need to talk. I hope your health is okay. I hope that's not the big issue. Keep in touch, okay?
Liz- Thanks, as always, for the recs. I'd like to et out to some good shows this season. We always had fun going to Moss Beach and D'Alonzo has had some well-done shows. I don't know, but Spring Downs was atrocious. Maybe the weather really took it out of me and I was in a bad mood but I couldn't believe the facility. We paid $35 to rent stalls and they didn't even bother to clean them- just locked their current occupants out in their paddocks. Wow! And it was about the longest one-day show I've ever been to. Oy.
Well, I just wanted to check in and say happy Friday! I really need a weekend. One more week and I'll be on the roadtrip from hell driving toward Seattle for a JOYOUS Christmas. Woo.
Life has been crazy and I miss you all.
I don't know where to start.
Winter is here full-force and I feel robed in malcontent. The cold weather, grey skies, holiday pressures and unending work are weighing me down. It isn't a depression, really, more of a melancholy. Are we sure that humans really aren't supposed to hibernate like bears?
On Sunday I took Apollo to a horse show in Portola Valley. For all the prestige associated with Portola Valley, the venue was less than adequate and the show was poorly, poorly organized. It was bitterly cold. Misty and I took our horses and a couple of her students and their horses. While we arrived at the barn at 5 am to lunge and groom the horses and wrap their legs for transport, said students were late and then proceeded to putz around with unnecessary details while failing to take care of business like leg-wrapping. Did I mention it was cold? Ice, ice, to-the-bone cold? Once at the show, it took forever for the classes to come around. There was infinite waiting because they did the hunter-over-fences classes first in which competitors ride one at a time. In flatwork classes, everyone is in the arena at once and judged simultaneously. We brought home a couple of ribbons and had at least one very good ride. The real success story of the day was that Apollo was calm and cool-headed. I fought with him a little on the jumping course, but nothing major. Even when it got dark and cold he didn't spook once on me.
By the end of the day my whole body was one big ache. I had to go back to the barn and break down all the tack and the horses. Cosette, Foxy and Apollo all had to be fed and groomed. When I left, my hip and shoulder were throbbing and I hadn't brought enough advil. On the way home, I decided to stop at the ER to see if I could talk them into giving me a cortisone shot. You know how I'm like 80 years old, right? Well, I figured, then I wouldn't have to drive all the way to the city the next day to see my primary doc. Well, they did x-rays in the ER and it turns out my shoulder is broken. Yeah, there is a big break through the head of my humerous where it goes into the shoulder socket. Nice.
So, as of right now, I don't have to have surgery because the orthopedic surgeon says it looks stable. He's going to check it again in a couple of weeks. For now, I have it strapped to my body in a sling. Anyhow, I'm pissed off because first, I have enough health issues to deal with and second, I can't ride. The second makes me the most pissed off.
Then the other day my mom called me at 7am (Good morning!) to tell me how pissed off she is at me for what I wrote on my blog about her! Well, if that is the worst anyone says about her and I know it isn't, she should be happy. I'll say that the same applies to mom that applies to anyone else who stops in here for a read: "If you don't like what you read here... buh-bye. Don't read it." I'm tired of being responsible for my mother's emotional well-being. I've decided that my worst feasr in life is not dying by fire, dying by drowning or public speaking, rather becoming my mother. Does that sound completely harsh and cruel?
Well, no, let's get into this. Why exactly would I want to become a person who manipulates her children? Why would I become someone who rarely has a good thing to say about anyone? Why would I want to be someone who tries to build favor with one child by playing them off of each other? Why would I want to be someone who tries to buy people's love and friendship?
Here are a couple of goodies I remember from my childhood: walking home and upon reaching the top of our hill getting a stomach ache wondering "Will mom be in a good modd, or a bad mood". On a good mood day there would be art projects and cookie-baking. Bad mood days meant screaming and hair pulling. Guess which one we had more of? And let's see... I loved how mom would be so perfect and nice to us when she had company over. When it was just us, we were lucky if being ignored was the worst of it.
And still I have to keep asking myself: why can't I get past it? Why can't I get over it? Why can't I just sail on by with a smile on my lips?
Maybe it's because deep down I believe that it's me, my fault. I did something to not be quite loveable enough for her.
Who we really are comes out in the crucible. We love our children, we're good friends, we're good employees, good wives, good lovers, good writers... whatever we are, we are. But really, you only know for sure when you are who you are, even when it's hard.