Archive for the ‘holidays’ Category

Years old!

Today was my birthday.

Through fantastic home cooked meals, disproportionate investments by offspring, phone calls from loved ones, and yes, Facebook Wall posts, I felt as loved and celebrated as I wanted to.

And through 10s of thousands of documents that HAD to be reviewed today, and the ever-growing to-do list at work and at home (i.e., kids’ school commitments, which may or may not include, oh, i don’t know, producing a major school play????), I was reminded that 3 dozen is far from 3.  Or One Dozen.  I am old.  And my birthday does not matter all that much, except to those who are dear to me.  And I thank them for their love and consideration.

Onward !!!  (because tomorrow is Beloved’s birthday!  And I have gifts to wrap, and a cake to wrap!!!)

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The landlord!!!

The numbers mentioned on the house were too high for the work required (which I am lowballing – couldn’t know how bad the damage is until we get it inspected, which we’re not doing for the price it’s offered at).

Beloved loved the apartment.  He hasn’t said that, but I know him.  He was grinning and nodding and his eyes were open wide.

We had our best laughs when I walked into the bathroom closet, and then around the corner.  The corner in the closet.  The bathroom closet.

We have yet to say “we’re sending a check tomorrow,” but he knows I’ve moved the money around, and he knows that I told the girls that while we won’t tell them it’s definite, the only remaining question is what room will function as what.

Unlike the house which is for sale, it is not touching the fence between it and the train tracks.  But yet, when I got off the T to meet Beloved at the apartment, it took me all of FOUR minutes to walk from the stop to the door step.  And in that four minutes, we said hello to representatives of three different families we know well.

And while we were on the balcony, deciding what kinds of chairs to put out there, we glanced across the street to see someone jumping up and down in their picture window, waving arms wildly.  Beloved said, “Is that [J’s friend]?” and I said, “No, I think it’s [J’s friend’s mom].”  Beloved said oh, and adult wouldn’t jump up and down like that.  I said oh yes she would! and then the jumper jumped straight out to her porch and said, “HI!!!  Move in!!  Move in!!  The neighbors are great!!!”  (It was the mom.  We volunteer together at the kids’ school.  I like her a lot.)

E keeps asking “Are we moving in?  Are we moving in?”  She’s annoying me.  But I don’t know why we aren’t just saying it out loud.  I guess because first I had to call the house person.  And then I had to turn on American Idol.

(Okay, we just told them – we’re dropping off the check tomorrow.)

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Last Saturday (or the one before?) was mine and Beloved’s wedding anniversary. Whenever Groundhog Day was – that was our day.

Before our anniversary, we talked about what we would do. Perhaps I asked. He responded, “Well, it’s not that big of a deal to us, right? Isn’t that the way we’ve always felt?”

There was a little sadness in me. Because while I know that we have always played down “marriage” and our participation in the game, we are married now. I am glad about that. I love him. I’m glad he’s my husband. I think he is such a true, real, fantastic partner. And I thought it would have been nice if we had a babysitter, and we could go out and just gaze into each other’s eyes. (I must admit – I am capable. I’m capable of being hugely giddy over my adoration for Beloved. It’s scary sometimes, really.)

But alas, it was a busy weekend.  I had work to do, E had a school project to do, the house was a mess.  Beloved was working frantically on school work.  He took the day of our anniversary to work at the library for the day, and was planning to be home as dinner was going on the table, at 7 p.m.

I did cook a very nice pot roast for dinner that night.

After dinner, I went looking for him.  He was hiding … wrapping a gift.

A gift!!  But I didn’t get a gift!  I was going to stores looking for circuitry items, and reviewing documents, and roasting a cow!  I thought our anniversary was “no big deal?”  Why a gift????

The gift was sweet – he went with the paper theme of our first anniversary.  I told him I felt like a heel – he told me to think nothing of it, that I’ve done enough for him already (like he hasn’t done enough for me already).

Then Valentine’s Day rolls around.

We never have done Valentine’s Day.  We always did Chinese New Year, instead.  Some of this was timing – when we were living in CA, the girls had a 4 day weekend at President’s Day which they tended to spend with their father, and that just so happened to be the same weekend as the Chinese New Year festivals in San Francisco.  So Valentine’s came with a quick kiss, and Chinese New Year became our Valentine’s Day.

One year, since we moved back to New England, we made it to New York’s Chinese New Year celebration for a romantic weekend.

This year, once again because of work and school and kids’ projects, I only heard it an odd chatter out of the corner of my ear “gung hay fat choy!”  Crap.  Another holiday missed.

So here’s Valentine’s Day.  The kids are too old to make cards (J still brought some purchased cards with lollipops taped to them), work had me running more ragged than ever before, life is just insane.  I’m on my way to work thinking, “Wow, this is such a non-holiday for us.”  We had, however, discussed how we were going to make our girls feel special – Beloved got them chocolates from their favorite neighborhood specialty chocolate shop, and I brought the home roses.

(What the fuck?  Since when does it cost $50 to bring roses home for your kids?  Since you buy them from the florist in the lobby of a fancy-pants downtown office building, that’s when.  Apparently.)

I had a meeting that morning.  I spent a lot of time out of my office.

When I returned, there was, sitting on my desk, a gorgeous vase full of tulips.  I was stunned.  When I first saw the box, I even wondered if it was from my father.  Beloved has never sent me flowers before.

The card was signed by all 3 of my loves, because Beloved is not greedy at all.

At least there was a fancy chocolate shop on my way home, and I could save face.

These are two of the 1,000 ways that I suck.  I don’t think ahead, I don’t plan, and I end up a lousy wife.  I was thinking later in the day on Valentine’s Day, as I was figuring out how to scramble on the way home to prove that I don’t suck 100%, that I have become a shitty husband.

I was at lunch yesterday with some colleagues, and the other woman said she got flowers on Valentine’s Day, and I said, “You know, we don’t really do Valentine’s Day” and the man interjected to say, “us either,” and I went on to say, “but my husband surprised the crap out of me and sent me flowers.”  To which the man slumped over in dismay — thinking he sucks, too, because he did not get anything for his wife.

But it is typically a man who does that – who takes someone’s word for it that “it’s no big deal” just to find out later that they let someone down.

Although – to be fair – Beloved did not seem at all let down on our anniversary.

But I want to be better!  I want to find the PERFECT thing every year.  Something unique, something wonderful, something that shows how well I know him, and how much I adore him.

That’s going to take some planning.

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My daughters – two wonderful, intelligent, creative, funny, loving individuals – are spending their holiday vacation with their biological father. 

They arrived in his care on Monday (Christmas Eve) at approximately noon.

Christmas was Tuesday.

Woe – wait.

Guess when they last saw their biological father?

Well, that would be August 5th.

I spoke with E on Wednesday – her 2nd or 3rd day with her biological father.

She was telling me of some strange voice mail recordings on her cell phone.

I responded with, “Did you share them with [fuck-head]? What did he think?]

She responded: “I can’t, he’s been out all day – he isn’t here.”


I see.

I know that the vast majority of parents need a break. They want their parents, or in-laws, to give them a hand iwth hte kids – to give them some breathing room – some adult time.

But the vast majority of parents have contact with their kids more than 10% of the year.

Seriously – my ex does NOT.

Does he really need a break?

After 48 hours?

If I only saw my girls for a total of [quickly doing math] 25 – 35 DAYS!!! per year … you can be certain that I’m not “going out” for a day – or even an evening – while I am with them.

But I also would never make the decision to live first 1,000 and then 2,000 miles away from them. After moving 3,000 miles away — the distance only shortened by their other parent’s decision to go to law school on the other coast.

Why does he continue to take their summers from them? To insist on removing them from their everyday lives? I do not understand. If his time with them is so very disposable – why put them through it?

I am anxious for some explanations. If anyone has a theory – or a disagreement with my assessment – please, let it be known.

I do not understand.

They’re such great people.

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I have been sad about the tiger incident since the first time I read about it, at post-Christmas day 3 a.m., while suffering from insomnia.  I used to visit those tigers.  I’ve seen Tatiana in person.My first sadness was over the re-realization that no matter how much tigers seem like the world’s biggest, cuddliest kitty cat, they really want to rip my throat out.   I love those animals.  Tigers and lions and leopards.  I always have.  When I go to the zoo, I could sit there and watch the cats forever.Once, in Oakland, a tiger peed on my shoe.  That zoo had a fence, not a moat.  Apparently, the fence allows visitors to get within pee-ing distance of the tigers, without endangering their lives.I am upset that a tiger got shot.  Not in relation to anything else about the story – it’s just SAD.I am upset that people think it’s fun to torment animals – even if that is not what happened here (although I believe it is, despite the lack of hard evidence) – there are accounts of it being a new “fun afternoon” for teens.  “Hey, Dudes!  Let’s go to the zoo and give the gorilla hell!”  Apparently, the gorilla at the SF Zoo now gives visitors the finger when they bother him.  Unless they bother him too much, then he starts to pace and shake and get really agitated. Poor little kitty.

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And quite frankly – no. I’m not sad.

We had our holiday. It was the day marked on our calendar all year. We had a fantastic holiday – with a delicious dinner, family and fun gifts. It was everything we had hoped for.

Today did not feel like a holiday.

[Oddly, and perhaps the topic of another post – it doesn’t feel as much like a holiday in public, either, as I’m used to.  Anyone else feel like there’s a bit of spark missing?]

The girls left wondering what sorts of stuff they’d accumulate while gone, dreading the heat, and looking forward to seeing loved ones.

One conversation:

Me [to E]: Are you excited to go to [state]?

E: YES!!!!

Me: What would you do if the flight was canceled right now?


Me: Honey – you just said you were excited

E: That’s because that’s what you wanted me to say. You want me to be happy, and excited, and so that’s what I said, but I’d rather stay home.

Oh. Okay.

J was a little nervous last night that the plane would crash. Which made me a bit nervous. To say the least. I cuddled with her in her bed until she fell asleep, feeling safe in her mommy’s arms, and there was little sign of the fear this a.m.

They got on the plane without incident. And I know they’ll have a good time, because a) they often do, and b) they’re at their grandmother’s house, and she works hard to spend time with them and make sure they have a good time. In age appropriate wys.

They brought gifts, they brought summer clothes. They’ll have fun.

Meanwhile …

Beloved and I went shopping at Whole Foods on our way back from the airport, and we bought filet mignon, scallops, jumbo shrimp, the fixins for scalloped potatoes, asparagus, fancy olives, fancy cheeses, and anything else that was too-expensive-for-kids and delicious.

Then we came home and took a giant NAP (I am a bit under the weather, and airport-wake-up-time was 5 a.m.) We got up, and I went to the liquor store to buy the ingredients for gimlets and martinis, since my parents endowed me with a new bar set, and then we went to a MOVIE!

We saw No Country for Old Men. I liked it. I think Beloved did, too.

Then he made bacon-wrapped scallops and grilled asparagus, and I tried a specialty Gimlet featured at a bar up the street (it’s yummy … a traditional gimlet with a splash of Chambord Liquer to color/taste things up a bit).

Christmas day’s agenda?

  1. sleep until we don’t feel tired anymore
  2. go see “I Am Legend”
  3. Then skip over to “Sweeney Todd”
  4. Come home – where I may do work. Like, lawyer-work.
  5. He will make dinner — the filets, the potatoes, some green beans.
  6. While I nibble on cheese and olives and make more gimlets. We found the martinis to be way too strong and straight. I should check into the fruity ones for another time – but for now, all the stores are closed.
  7. Then we’ll watch a movie at home.

No stress, no pressure.

Just the two of us, good movies and good food – while knowing that the girls are spending time with people who love them, and that they are happy.

If they’re not happy – E has her cell phone on her, and she can let me know without permission or supervision.

Ahhhh, children growing up. How nice.

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[written on 12/22]

Last night was our Solstice celebration. It went very well.

We had a nice dinner together, with holiday music in the background, then we pulled last minute things together and sat around the tree (i.e., Solstice Shrub).

While we were waiting for Beloved to finish up so we could open presents, E remarked on the relatively small number of presents under the tree. She was not complaining. She said she remembered how, when she was younger, it was so exciting to see the huge mound of presents under the tree. But that by the end of the morning, it was all very overwhelming. She said that she liked how it felt more relaxing to have less.

Then she spoke for me, and said that it was partly because she and her sister never bothered to think of each OTHER in regard to the holiday, and so there were at least 2 less gifts under the tree.

[grumble grumble says the mom, noticing that they each thought of TWO secret santa gifts for their friends at school, but had to have teeth pulled from their heads before they could think of something for their parents, and never thought of anything for each other. grumble grumble.]

It doesn’t matter that the mound of gifts was small, though – this was by far the most I’ve ever spent at the holiday season.

What does this mean our materialism and the holiday? I’m not sure.

I decided way back when they first came out with the video Nanos that I wanted to get them for the girls. I liked the size of them – I love the practicality of iPods (how much easier is this? Than having giant albums or shelves full of CDs?). I didn’t think that they cost too much for the benefits they gave.

Yet, they’re expensive, and as gifts go – they’re a biggy.

But in the interest of having a less materialistic holiday, should I buy them for the kids as soon as I think of it? Should they think it’s just normal to come home from school and casually be handed the latest tech toy?

In other words – every thing we got for the holiday was something we were going to get. We waited, or hurried, for the holiday, because it gave us a reason to buy these things for each other (and in some ways, with Beloved and I, for ourselves). It justified the financial outlay. But then our holiday, which is an attempt to move away from the commercialism of Christmas, did end up quite gift-centric, and we all were quite spoiled.

We did not get “filler” gifts. We did not aim to make the pile under the tree bigger. I started my annual guilty twinges yesterday (there’s not enough! we need more!), and Beloved stopped me. The point is not to make a giant pile of gifts. But I was worried that Beloved had so few things. But as you will see … one of his things cost more (but just barely) than everything else under the tree combined.

The run down:

The girls loved their nanos, and their books from Beloved: E got the Complete Far Side Collection, and J the Complete Calvin & Hobbes. Both set are very well done and beautiful inside and out. We also got them a docking station for their iPods. When we were done opening gifts, and even in the middle of the gift opening – and again this morning – the books were devoured. They poured over their own and each others, and were very impressed with them.

J spent a lot of time with her Nano last night, but E was content to wait until today (and the books and sledding have still taken priority).

I got Beloved a MacBook Pro.

It’s actually something that he’s needed/wanted for years, and we haven’t been able to afford it. With me in school, extra tech funds often got poured into being certain I had what I needed, and he just got my hand-me-downs and leftovers.

Finally, he gets to have the newest computer in the house, and – quite frankly – the fanciest!

He more than deserves it.

And the girls got him Photoshop for Mac.

I got an iPod touch (woo hoo! It’s so gorgeous!) and a watch. Beloved and I actually went shopping together for the watch. I think it’s this one (the smaller), except that face looks white, and mine is a pearly-silver.

I am in love with my watch. I haven’t had one since my old one broke on the day of the bar exam (isn’t that scary? Is there a day in the life of a law student/post grad that you need a watch more than THAT DAY? And mine broke? But it didn’t break until 7 p.m. Isn’t that also a little scary?).

I also got a great big thirsty wonderful bathrobe in forest green. It almost makes me want to take a shower.


I still don’t feel good after all.

So we were all spoiled, and we were all very appreciative.

And while I think that this year was this way for many reasons (first time we have funds to make these kinds of purchases; short on time and planning; sheer laziness), I hope that next year we can return to a bit more of the home-made flavor of our Solstices in the past.

I think I missed it.

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I have a wicked sore throat and all over achy-ness. Beloved and J were suffering from this over the past week – we let J go into school late because of it yesterday, and she put herself to bed early all week. Beloved earned “sleeping in” rights in the mornings.

And now that I have it, I’ve earned an afternoon to myself. But do I want it?

I feel kinda lonely.

But when they were all just home, I was grouchy and cranky and whiney and pouty.

So maybe they have all earned my afternoon alone.


The girls met friends at the sledding hill, and Beloved is helping out with the pre-Christmas insanity at work.

I am blogging.

And whining.

And I think getting ready to watch some Heroes episodes on Hulu, thanks to my friend Sue.  She posted some episodes for me previously, but now, thanks to her, I have independent viewing rights, and can watch from Episode 1 of the current season.  It’s so good to see my old heroes again.  Sweeties that they are.

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Lazy Solstice

We aren’t very good this year about our Solstice tradition.  I don’t know how it happened – we can’t say it’s because we’re “too busy,” because we’re no busier than usual.  Yeah, I’m working full time now, but I work during the evenings 1/2 as much as I did when I was in school.  E is in after school care less days a week and has more time at home.  Beloved may be busier, though, and since he’s often the great Motivator – that may have some to do with it.

See, our idea has always been that we MAKE each other gifts for solstice.  It’s our break from the consumerism that has become Christmas.

We also focus on Solstice instead of Christmas because

  1. I feel like a hypocrite when I slam Christianity left and right and then steal their holiday for the sake of the magic, songs and tree (no baby – no future deaths and washing of sins – that’s not the part I want).  And “Festivus” is stupid.  And I have a lot of respect for the cycles of nature.
  2. The girls are gone for Christmas every other year.  The first year they were gone, I tried to do an early “Christmas” and it was gross.  Just gross.  Then the second year, Beloved and I did Solstice (12/21) with the girls.  It was so much nicer.  We had our own holiday, we did different things.  Then, the next year, when we had them for Christmas, we did Christmas – Santa and everything.  We didn’t like it.  We went overboard, we bought too much  stuff, and we were generally not thrilled.  So we decided for us, it’s Solstice every year.  This is working very well for us.  Especially because the years that we do have the girls – we go to my parents.  So it’s not like we celebrate on the 21st and then sit around twiddling our thumbs on the 25th.  We do our more homey, low key celebration on the 21st, then pack up the car and have the big thing on the 25th.

Last year, we were pretty good.  I made the girls kick-ass scrapbooks.  I am serious- these things ROCK.  I showed a friend the other day, and she was drooling over it.  I had taken my 4 bins of old school and art work, and my giant crate of photos, and culled it all down to the best-of-the-best.  It was focused on our time in Berkeley – in the house we lived in right before we moved back east.  It was where we lived when I was a single mom, and for some of it, my sister and her son lived with us.  It was a time full of great memories.  And the scrapbooks prove it.

This year, though.  We suck.  I decided a long time ago that I was getting the girls iPod Nanos for the holidays.  I know I can’t make a Nano – but honestly, it’s too big of a gift for them to have outside of a special ocassion.

So, as I posted earlier, I decided to make them cases.  I used to know how to crotchet, and I figured I could re-teach myself with the aid of the internet.

I did.  I retaught myself.  I bought some yarn a couple of weeks ago, and one night last week, I retaught myself.  Then I thought, “wow, this is easy and fast.”  And I put the stuff away.

Last night, I had to fight to get and keep the girls in bed at 9, and then I started on E’s case.


I am 1/10th of the way done.


So, the girls are getting Nanos, and a rain check for the cases which will (hopefully) be done by the time they get home from the Sunny South.

They also chose something to BUY (within a spending limit I gave them) for Beloved.

I don’t know what they’re doing for me …

But this is not a very crafty Solstice.

Oh well?

I mean, I’m a little disappointed, but at the same time – we’ve still scaled way back from a consumer-focused Christmas.  The girls will be more than fine with getting their one big gift and a few others.  They don’t have huge wish lists, we won’t stick a bunch of wrapped “filler” under the tree.

We’ll have a quiet afternoon at home, a yummy shrimp-over-pasta dinner, some Christmas music on the Pod, and we’ll be happy.

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My Snowy Vacation

The girls leave on Monday for their father’s house.  Or his mother’s, this year.

At one point, Beloved and I dreamed of going back to Amsterdam for a holiday romantic get away.

But that was back when I thought being an Associate at a big firm would make me RICH.  (Ha!)  We can’t afford a trip that costs thousands of dollars.

(Quick aside – my first student loan payment is due TODAY!  Private loans don’t kick in until April.)

So while the rest of my department is taking next week as vacation, I will be working.

But tomorrow is our Solstice celebration.  And I thought it would be nice to have a day to prepare.

So I’m home today and tomorrow.

Only I’m not preparing today.  I’m going to a 10 a.m. concert at the girls’ school, and then I’m getting J a “secret santa” gift for this afternoon, and then I’m getting the girls and two of their friends and coming home for about an hour before we grab a car and go to a play.

But spending this time with the girls was another reason for taking the days off.  Since they’re leaving soon, and that’s always a little (but honestly, just a little) sad.


It’s snowing.  I let Beloved sleep in this morning while I got up to usher the girls out the door.  This is unusual.  I’m usually leaving when E gets up, and he is the morning parent.  But he is not feeling well, and I don’t mind doing things I rarely do – so we switched it around.

There were warnings on t.v. last night about the snow/ice, but I thought not much of it.  I told the girls to wear rain boots, because the rain is melting the stacks and stacks of snow, and I don’t want them soaked.  E said, “it’s raining” at one point.  Then J later said, “it’s snowing.”  I thought of checking Boston.com to see if they were talking about weather.

There on the screen was the link to “school closings.”  Huh?  I hadn’t even considered that school would be closed!

It’s not.  Apparently, those just north of us (including southern New Hampshire) are getting dumped with snow, and are closing school.

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