Monday, November 28, 2011

Don't Stop Believing

Big Sis clearly wanted to talk with me about something. She was looking at me intently, wrinkling her nose, and "ummm"ing.

"Mom, I just don't see how parents could be I still believe in Santa, even though kids at school make fun of me about it."

I sort of saw this coming.  I'd been warned that 3rd grade was the end of innocence.  And though I figured the demise of my little fairy follower's naivete wouldn't come easily, I anticipated playground chatter and our daughter's subsequent speculation. 

"Really, honey?  What do they say?"

"Some people say they know Santa is their parents.  And that I am dumb for thinking Santa is real.  But, if Santa is parents, then you'd have to set an alarm clock to get up in the middle of the night?  And that would wake us up, I don't think so.  Also, I think I saw Santa once when I got up to go to the bathroom.  When I was five." 

"I remember when I was a little girl I heard Santa's sleighbells above our house, right as I was falling asleep.  It was one of the happiest sounds I've ever heard." 

"It's the Easter Bunny I really wonder about, though...I mean, how can one bunny hide all those eggs and deliver all that candy?"

"You know we're talking about magic, here, right?  The Easter Bunny is probably not like Spot. know?  Maybe he is?  How do I know?"

"It would be so cool if Spot were the Easter Bunny."

"Here's the thing, kiddo.  You're not going to feel sure about Santa until you're a parent yourself, and you realize Santa really does happen.  And Santa doesn't care if you believe in him or not; he comes anyway.  So kids can go ahead and talk about how he's not real...but not believing?  How is that fun?"

"I love you, Mommy." 

Note:  keep your cynical, unbelieving kids away from my ingenue, willya?

Thursday, November 24, 2011


This year we ate on Wednesday; today is reserved for visiting Grandma and delivering desserts to Christie's Place

I went on a long run yesterday morning and thought of what I'd say when it was my turn to contribute my words of gratitude at the dinner table.  I concluded that I most thankful for my deep sense of fulfillment and contentment.  And for the relationships in my life which have strengthened.  To have a rich and meaningful life...?  'Nuff said.

Yesterday was spectacular, despite missing our far-flung family members.  We watched a few first-season episodes of ALF  (oh my gosh; still so hilarious!), gobbled turkey prepared three ways, played Catch Phrase, and chowed pumpkin cheesecake. 

I brought a squash dish, and the epic battle between me and tough-skinned gourds was worth it (it's a whole lot easier to cut a squash in half and bake it than it is to peel and dice, yikes). 

Here's the recipe:

Roasted Squash and Sweet Potatoes

1 each:  kabocha, butternut, and acorn squash, peeled and cubed.
3 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 large leaves swiss chard, finely shredded
1 onion
1 tablespoon butter
1/3-1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 teaspoon pepper
dash cayenne pepper
1/3 cup pine nuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Arrange squash and sweet potatoes in a shallow baking dish.  Add swissh chard, and toss with olive oil and kosher salt.

Saute/caramelize onions in butter, garam masala, and sugar until just brown.  Add to pan, mix.

Roast; toss squash intermittently.  Dish is done when squash is soft and bubbly. 

Toast pine nuts in a skillet and sprinkle on top before serving.

Have a beautiful Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 21, 2011

List: First-World Burdens (for Which I Am Ultimately Grateful)

1. I ordered $200 of groceries from, including free home delivery and a free turkey, only to have my credit card fraud department cancel the order (seemed suspicious, all those groceries).
2. The duvet cover tumbling in the dryer: swallowing socks, sweaters, and skirts, and necessitating its unrolling every ten minutes.  Drives me a little nutso.
3. Songs by Adele and One Republic overplayed on the radio: It's gonna be a good life when she finally finds someone like you.
4. The kids keep needing feeding.
5. Our freezer is overfull and something cold and hard falls out and onto my toe each time I open it.
6. The remote for our (non-flat-screen) TV no longer turns the TV on and off.
7.  Marcona almonds are pricey.
8.  Pretty sure I can't drink a pint of IPA and drive. 
9.  The Jason Mraz concert is sold out.
10.  One of the sliding doors of our van fills with water every time it rains.  Slosh, brake, sloooooosh

On the flip side, I'm able to buy $200 worth of groceries; own a clothes dryer; can listen to the radio (and turn it off); have ample food for my kids ($200 worth, for now), a full freezer (see groceries), and a TV; can splurge for Marcona almonds and enjoy an IPA at home; saw Jason Mraz live with Colbie Caillat last month, and drive a minivan. 

It is a good life, One Republic.

Monday, November 14, 2011

We Belong...We Belong, We Belong Together

Here's how I entertain myself in a minivan with three girls in the back rehearsing a Taylor Swift song:

Girls: "She wears short skirts; I wear tee shirts...she's cheer captain and I'm in the bleachers..."

Me: "I just don't understand why she wears shark shirts. Why not a dolphin shirt?"

Big Sis: "SHORT skirts, Mom! Short SKIRTS. C'mon, let's keep going."

Girls: "Dreaming 'bout the day when you wake up and find that what you're lookin' for has been here the whole tiiiiiime...If you could see that I'm the one who understands you, been here all along so why can't you seeheeheeeeeeee you belong to belong to me."

Me: "I think it's 'Why can't your sleeves belong to me'."

Big Sis: "No, it's not. It's 'WHY CAN'T YOU SEE YOU BELONG WITH ME'."

Me: "But maybe she really likes his sleeves."

Big Sis: "Pfft. Let's do it over again, and everyone remember their solos."

Girls: "She wears short skirts; I wear tee shirts...(la la la)...why can't you seeheeheeeeeeee you belong to belong to me."

Me: "Maybe it's 'Why can't you sneeze'?"

Big Sis to Girls: "She's just joking. Let's start from the top."

Girls: "She wears short skirts; I wear tee shirts...(la la la)...why can't you seeheeheeeeeeee you belong to belong to me."

Me (parking): "I know what. It's '...your belongings are with me', like, don't worry, they're not in the Lost & Found."

Big Sis: Sighs of exasperation.

Little Sis: Giggling. "Or, Mom, it could be '...your artichokes belong with me...'"

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Six weeks ago I entered NPR's Three-Minute Fiction Contest.  I didn't win!   But I am not fazed; I've entered several contests over the years and I am grateful for the challenge and incentive to write.  I once entered an edited version of this blog post in a Real Simple magazine essay contest, and I was a finalist in this blog entry contest

The premise of NPR's seventh contest of this nature was to write a fictional narrative of less than 600 words featuring one character coming to town and one leaving.  My story is not autobiographical, but inspired by a time a friend left me his car at the airport.


The car was right where she said it would be, on the fourth floor of the parking garage, midway down the third row from the elevator. My heart skipped with surprise and satisfaction that our wacky plan worked. Now, for the key. She’d duct-taped it inside the right rear wheel well (“Say that 10 times fast,” she texted with a smiley face).

She’d written directions from the airport to my hotel and folded them over the top of the steering wheel (“In case you’re as GPS- and iPhone-deprived as I am”). Back in the day, she’d refused to use the microwave.

She was the first thing I thought of when I read the wedding invitation. I hadn’t been back in years—five, to be exact, since things ended badly, with both of us ready and not in our own ways. I’d moved away. Meanwhile, she remained in our college town, working as a post-doc in a lab at the university. That much I could tell from Facebook, where we were friends but not correspondents.

Still, I could call her, I thought, for coffee. I didn’t not want to. So after I booked my flight I found myself leaving her a message in a cheery, nervous voice: “Hi! How are you? My old roommate is getting married…remember her boyfriend of forever? They’re finally getting hitched, and I will be in town…anyway, I thought maybe we could get coffee, or something…call me if you want.”

She called back within the hour: happy to hear from me, disappointed that she, too, would be at a wedding that weekend, out of town. When we established that our respective flights left no overlap time, she thought of something. “Wait! If your flight arrives after I leave, and you take off before I return, I could leave you my car at the airport…” Before I could protest, she continued, “You would save me finding a ride or taking a cab, and I would save you a rental car…I mean, unless you’re traveling with someone?” “No…” I replied, adding, “And you?” before I could think better of it. “Nope…This is perfect! Parking will hardly cost anything because our flights are close. I’ll just text you the car’s location after I park and you do the same!”

Over the next eight weeks we conversed regularly over Facebook, mainly idle chitchat about my running and her biking and inquiries about our families, and then confirmations that our plan was still a go. Now here I was, in the driver’s seat of her familiar car, turning the key and hearing the CD of a favorite chanteuse in her player. I peered around for evidence she’d changed irrevocably. She still drank Starbucks soy lattes; she still stored bike jerseys in her car.

The wedding events were a blur of reunions and hugs and how-have-you-beens, of helping bride and bridesmaids with hair and having reasonably interesting conversations with other solo guests once or twice removed from the bridal party.

She texted on Saturday to ask how the car and I were doing. “Still running!” I replied, and “Giving myself a dollar for every time someone asks if I am seeing someone.”

“Weddings,” she texted back. “So awkward.”

On Sunday I left the post-wedding brunch early to have her car detailed. At the gas station I popped open the fuel tank door to find a note taped inside: “Thanks for reaching out.”

As I put on my shoes at the end of the security area I realized that if I accidentally missed my flight, I could probably meet her at her gate.

Monday, November 7, 2011

List: Things That Give Me the Heebie Jeebies

1. Used sofas left out on curbsides for free.
2. Crawl spaces under houses.
3. Proximity to fluids I shouldn't but could accidentally drink, like a cup of water soaking dentures, or a retainer.
4. Cars parked in strange places with someone sitting in them, doing...I am not sure.
5. Undergarments abandoned in public spaces.
6. Strangers who stare.
7. Organs as food.
8. The thought of having my palm read or consulting a psychic.
9. The certainty that I am about to encounter a Bad Smell.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

On Behalf of Her Client

I received a voicemail at work from Elder Counsel this morning:

"Umm, Mommy, Little Sis really REALLY wants to wear her sparkly shoes to school today.  So can you just let her...?  Errr...can you call us back and let us know?  K?  Love you; bye!"

I called home.  Big Sis answered.

"Hi.  May I please speak to the lawyer for Little Sis?"

(Giggle).  "It's me!"

"Did you call  to ask me if Little Sis can wear her sparkly shoes today because I told her they're not school shoes?"

"Wellllllll, she asked me to..."

"Uh huh.  So she sort of hired you to be her lawyer."

(Giggle).  "Yes."

"Can you please ask your client if today is P.E. day at school?"

(Muffled):  "Mommy wants to know if you have P.E. today."

(In background):  "I don't know."

"Mom, I don't think she has P.E. because today is a short day."

(In background):  "Yeah, I don't have P.E. because it's a short day."

"Please tell your client that she can choose one day of the week to wear her sparkly shoes, and if she wants it to be Thursday, great, but she can't wear them on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Friday.  Okay?"

"I will tell her."

"And, are you wearing your running shoes today?"

"I can't find them.  Do I have to wear them?"

"Your boots are giving you blisters."

"But, Mom, that was because of the fishnet stockings I wore with them for my costume."

"Still, I think you shouldn't wear your boots every day.  Did you look for your shoes in the basket?  In your bedroom?"

"Yes, they're not there!...(pause)...Okay, I will look harder."

"Good idea."

"Thanks, Mommy!  I love you!"

"I love you, too.  Tell your client the same thing."