Thursday, December 23, 2010

2 Days and Counting

Heard in the car today:

"What are you doing?"

"Where are you going?"

"Why are you stopping?"


"Get out of my way..."

"Get your foot off the brake!"

"Who taught you to drive.. my grandmother?"

There were several "sentence enhancers" thrown in for good measure but since I try to keep this family oriented I figured I should leave them out.. no matter how important they were for getting my point across in the moment.

All that drama and the kids weren't even with me.

I shopped more today than I have the entire year put together.

My feet and my sanity paid the price.

But I did have good parking mojo which was fortunate because I made 12 stops which means 12 times I had to enter parking lots that were filled with people who think they can park like the stunt drivers in car commercials. You know the ones.... the car comes careening down the aisle doing about 60, slams on the brakes and does a drifting sideways skid into a spot that someone else was just turning into?
Yeah, those.

But my mojo only worked in the parking lots. Everyplace else, not so much.

I spilled food on myself (now theres a shocker) so I had to keep my heavy sweater on to cover the fact I'm a slob and I about passed out from over heating in one of the stores. I had to buy a lightweight shirt so I could finish shopping.

And then I ended up in Target at the same time that the local "adult day care" facility had a field trip. I was scoping out the toy section when I suddenly found myself the object of attention of one of the field tripees. He was wearing a crash helmet, carrying a teddy bear and smiling like it was Christmas morning. (He was 2 days early).

He introduced himself as Sam and followed me around asking me questions. He told me how pretty I was and wanted to know if I wanted to come back on the bus and have dinner with him.

Right about then his supervisor showed up and herded him back with the others.

After 7 hours of schlepping I finally made it home. Just in time to cook dinner. Lucky me.

Maybe I should have taken Sam up on his offer.

I think I may pass out now.

I still have to wrap everything I bought today and pray that I don't have to go out again tomorrow.

And since the kids can't wrap their own stuff, and wrapping is one of the few things Jeff admits to not being able to do, I'm on my own.

So it's late now and as I sit here sharing the desk chair with Wednesday (she has more of the chair than I do) I realize I better get my self to bed because I have an awful lot of elf duties tomorrow which go beyond wrapping and into cookie baking, mother-in-law entertaining and sanity finding.

I might have trouble with that last one.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Way Back Wednesday ~ 1966/67

Yes, the holidays and impending arrival of the Mother-in-law have gotten me way off track. I have barely had a moment to think straight let alone put thoughts together to write.

I've got about 15 minutes to myself right now. The kids are in their room plotting last minute strategies to improve their Christmas morning haul, Jeff is teaching, and grandma is watching Without A Trace in the living room on my spot on the couch.

I figured I would use this Way Back post to feature my first couple of Christmas trees.

My mom has this labeled 1966 and my first Christmas tree.
But I was born in 65 so I'm pretty sure she got the year wrong. Since I don't have any pictures of me by the tree, its all speculation.

This was a real tree and the last real one we would have until my mid teens when I insisted we stop using the old artificial one.

The giant brown teddy bear (which of course) I still have was given to me by my moms mom. Its still in really great shape for its age. I also still have that rag doll with the blue handkerchief on her head. Her name was Tatters. I also really like that cool blue poodle!

This is the next tree in the photo album and it's labeled as 1967 and the other photos with this one have been labeled 66  and 68 so I don't think she knew what year it was really. I assume she did what I have done which is take pictures, not label them then have to figure out when each was taken years later.

This was the first year of the 5 ft Sears tree that should have been the 6 ft model but the wrong one arrived and my parents never bothered to return it. My dad built a big wooden box with an attached stand that we used every year so it would be taller in the living room that had 15 foot high ceilings.

Look this year we finally had drapes in this room!

I got some nice dresses and a darling Kewpie doll that (surprise!) I still have. When I blew up the picture and looked at it real close I see ornaments that I still have too.

I hope you are having a wonderful holiday, no matter what you celebrate.
We finally got a check and I can start Christmas shopping for the kids.
I haven't been kidding all this time when I've said I hadn't bought anything yet.

I'm going to try to post over the next week or so but it might be lean until the first of the year!

Friday, December 17, 2010

What to-do list?

Sometimes life tries to tell you that you are frazzled.

It gives you little hints.

Tonight in the kitchen, for example I couldn't figure out why my electric hand mixer was so freakin' hot.

It might have been that I plugged in the iron by accident.

Maybe I was subliminally thinking about how wrinkled my shirt was when I put it on this morning.

It doesn't help that kids are in such a frenzy over the impending holiday that they are vibrating like jell-o.

Katherine made herself a bracelet out of jingle bells and she was dancing around the house sounding like a deranged reindeer on uppers.

I finally had to confiscate the thing, promising she could have it back for the school party tomorrow.


Even though I got a huge amount done today, I don't feel like I am any farther along on my to-do list.

OK so maybe I don't actually HAVE a to-do list but if I did, there wouldn't be a whole lot crossed off of it.

I did manage to bake cookies for the teacher's gifts. I made spaghetti sauce. I ran another practice for the song the kids are going to be performing on the weekend. (And I hardly yelled at all). I cleaned the huge mess that I made in the kitchen from the aforementioned projects. I cleaned out the litter box. I spot cleaned the carpet in the den. I took a shower and washed my hair.

But I did not decorate the tree (the 5 ornaments hanging on it do not count). I did not make any progress in straightening up the house for the impending mother-in-law visit. I did not clean any of the bathrooms (also in anticipation of said visit).  I did not work on the quilt I want to give Katherine for Christmas. I did not eat within my recommended calorie allotment (see earlier kitchen projects for explanation). I did nothing to better my cardio health, but I haven't done that in the last month so THAT was no surprise. I didn't start wrapping gifts (Oh wait, I haven't bought any yet so I'm off the hook on that one). I didn't find an extension cord for the outside lights. The neighbors are going to think scrooge lives here.

I keep asking myself how I can get so much done and still feel like I accomplished nothing.

Then I remember that I'm a mom and that pretty much explains it all.

Hope the teachers like homemade cookies since it was all I could afford this year.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Way Back Wednesday ~ 1963

The holidays are upon us.
Even if we aren't ready for them to be.
So I thought I would use my next 2 Way Back posts for Christmas pictures.

This set is from 1963 (maybe 64).
My parents are visiting their best friends of the day Don & Jody Remer.
They had a cool little apartment in the heart of Hollywood.
They also had a poodle named Pierre.
Over the years they had several poodles.
Pierre, Pierre II, Pierre III.... You get the idea.

Here are my parents with Don and Pierre who is sporting a handsome Christmas bow.
Don't you love the the silver tree behind them?
And all the cool cards pinned to the vintage curtains?
Love my dad's 50's tie.
I wonder how long it took for my mom to get ready?
That hair style didn't come easy.
She is wearing her mink stole that my dad bought from her from a furrier in Beverly Hills called AJ Lipsey.
It had her name embroidered inside.
I (of course) still have this but unfortunately it didn't fair particularly well through the years and has a split near the top from where it was hanging. I don't really know what to do with it because I would never wear it but it was so special to her that it feels wrong to sell it.

Here are my mom and Jody (and Pierre) holding gifts.
I wonder what's in them? In the first picture my father is holding the gift that Jody is holding here.
If you look closely you can see a rubber fire hydrant under the tree on the left.
Pierre must have been a good boy this year.

My only question is why the photographer felt it necessary to sit on the floor while taking the picture?

Hope your holidays are going well and that Santa is feeling particularly generous this year.
At least that's what Jeffrey said yesterday.

Hand in there..... only 3 more days 'til Friday!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Nintendog Hell

Jeffrey and Katherine are sitting in their room discussing the countdown to Christmas.

I'm sitting in my room trying to think of a way to tell them that Santa had a labor dispute with his reindeer and there is a good chance he might not make it to our house this year.


This has been a week of one crisis after another.  I keep hanging on assuring myself that THAT one was the last one for the week and it can only get better from here.

The universe is laughing at my attempt at humor.

Just a little peace and quiet is all I'm asking for this morning. Just a tiny bit of time that I can take a few deep breaths and try to ready myself for whatever the universe feels like throwing my way next.

Apparently Nintendo has other plans.

Both kids have the game Ninten-dogs which was obviously designed by people who have never matured past 10 years old. It is a game played on the Nintendo handheld game system that allows you to adopt and train your very own puppy. And it has voice recognition so you can teach the little thing its name and make it do tricks and come when you call it etc etc.

Well my children have adopted dogs that listen as well as a 2 year old child.

All that has been seeping through the wall today has been a combination of voices asking, pleading, yelling, demanding and scolding their canine charge to obey them.

"Sit... Sit... Sit... Sit... Sit... Sit..."
"Lay down.... Lay down.... Lay down.... Lay down...."
"Come here.... Come here....Come here.... Come here...."
"Bad dog! NO NO NO NO!!!"

What sadistic game designer thought up this thing?

Finally Katherine decided that her dog was unteachable and erased her file and started over.

I imagine my own life with one of these options.... Hmmmmmm THIS last week hasn't worked out so well... lets go to the menu screen and click "Do-over" and see if I can improve on things.

Don't you wish.

But anyway.....

She chooses a small brown lab as her puppy and proceeds to name it Glob-a.

Jeffrey announces that this is the stupidest name he has ever heard.

"Well I think its a great name."

"Where did you think that up anyway?"

"In my head. Look at him..... Isn't he the cutest little brown puppy you've ever seen?"

"Yeah I guess his name makes sense.... he looks like a brown glob of..."



"Knock it off!"

Lots grumbling..... "Well it sounds like a stupid name to me."

It appears someone isn't thinking of those good deeds and Christmas karma he was talking about earlier in the week.

Less than 2 minutes later, drifting through the wall, the naming ceremony begins to take place.

This is the part of the game where the owner must get the puppy to "learn" its name by repeating it 150 (thousand) times until either a small bell sounds indicating that the process is complete, or the parent who has had to listen to it tosses the game out the window and hopes a car runs over it before the kids can retrieve it.

"Glob-a... Glob-a... Glob-a... Glob-a...
Glob-a... Glob-a... Glob-a... Glob-a...
Glob-a... Glob-a... Glob-a... Glob-a...
Glob-a... Glob-a... Glob-a... Glob-a..."

Over and over in monotone.


"What...? Oh dang now I gotta start over."

No... no really you don't.

I talked her into watching a Christmas special on TV (WAY down the hall) just so I can try to collect my brains that have oozed out my ears and are littered all over the room.

If I make it through this holiday season with my mental state in tact it is going to be a Christmas miracle.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Little Slice of Karma

Occasionally Jeffrey comes to me with philosophical musings.
Things that make me wonder myself about the reasons behind the universe.

"Mom is there such a thing as Karma?"

"Some people think so"

'"Well what do YOU think?"

"I think it's important to be good to people and treat them the way you would want to be treated whether or not there is Karma."

"Who is this Karma anyway? And why does she get to decide whether you've been good or not? Is she like God or Santa Claus?" (Jeffrey took it upon himself to decide that Karma was a she.)

"Karma's not a person.. it's a thing."

"Huh? How can a thing make decisions....?"

"Karma is a belief held by many East Indian religions that if you do good deeds, then good things come back to you. And if you do bad things than bad things come back to you."

Long thoughtful pause.

"Do you believe that?"

"I believe that you should always be good to other people and try to do what's right regardless if you get rewarded for it or not."

"Is it bad that I'm trying to be good, you know to "have good Karma" right now so Santa will deliver more gifts on Christmas?"

(Somehow it always comes back to that)

"Well it would be nice if you tried to "have good Karma" all year long. That's what really counts. Doing good things even when you don't have too."

"Thats a lot of work. And what if it doesn't pay off? I mean, what if I do all this good stuff and it doesn't matter in the long run?"

"Then you have the satisfaction of knowing that at least you did the best you could and didn't add bad stuff to the world."

"True." (I could tell he was still unconvinced that the possible merits outweighed all the work involved).

It was about this point that I started wondering. Was there Karma? If there was than I must have really screwed the pooch at some point in the past. But apparently I was asleep when it happened because I could not for the life me think of what I could have done to end up where we are right now.

Oh great.. now I was starting to doubt myself. I felt like I have been a good person. Always trying to do for others.. to be there for my kids, to go out of my way for friends. Obviously those things don't matter.

Life's a bitch (and then you die!). Yup that's the truth. Nothing you do matters in the long run. You're either lucky or you're not. You're either given good breaks or dealt a lousy hand.

HUMPH! We know where I stand!

And as I sank lower and lower into a cascade of negative self talk, suddenly someone wrapped his arms around me and snuggled in for a really meaningful hug.

"I love you mom"

"Well I love you too Jeffrey."

"I just wanted to give you  a hug because you looked sad.
And I wasn't trying to improve my Karma"

He smiled his big goofy smile, hugged me again and bounced off to engage in another epic space battle.

OK, maybe all those good things I do is paying off after all.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Way Back Wednesday ~~ 1965

Welcome to Wednesday!
Today I found some Polaroids from October 1965.
I was 9 months old.

These were taken at the home of Francis Lederer who was an old time actor who started his career in the silent films of the 20's and kept right on going all the way through the 1970's. He died in 2000 at the age of 101.

Here is a cool collectors card I found of him when he was in Return of Dracula in the 50's. He was extremely well received in the role.

He was also famous for the house that he built in Canoga Park at the northern end of the San Fernando Valley.
He started it in 1934 with such care and detail taken in every aspect of it's construction that it was considered landmark quality right from the start.
He imported 14th and 15th century Italian and Spanish museum quality art pieces.
He also built a stable on the grounds that in the 1970's was turned into the Canoga Mission Gallery.
The house was damaged in the Northridge earthquake and is still undergoing renovation. 

My parents were invited to his house and allowed to take photographs, which ended up including me!

This first shot is of a painting by Alonso Cano who was a 17th century Spanish artist.
(Geez, I hope I am not touching it!)

This painting is entitled "The Black Madonna" painted in 1605 by Juan Villa Fono from Peru

And here my mom and I are standing in front of an alter that was brought in from a 17th century Spanish church.

This is in front of a leaded glass window.
The house was built to look as if it were centuries old.

This is a beautiful carved mirror with candlesticks.

And the last picture is of my mom and I sitting on a burlap type couch with ornate crests sewn to the back.
There is a carved Madonna and child marble statue on the table behind the couch.
On the back of the picture my mother noted that the living room we were in measured 35' x 50' and had a gorgeous view from the arched picture windows.

Hope you all have a really great hump day!
See you soon!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Math League

Now I ask you, whose kid shows up to the Math League meeting with no pencil?

Mine of course.

Jeffrey was invited to participate in the 4th grade math league. Which means every two weeks he is given 30 questions which he is supposed to finish in 30 minutes and then the group gets together and talks about the answers for an hour.

For most kids this would seem more like a punishment than an honor and knowing Jeffrey (who hates to sit quietly for any length of time) one would assume he would hate it.

Quite the contrary. He was ecstatic at being able to do math problems that (in his words) weren't boring.
And in my words weren't easy.

I was extremely helpful when he brought me the page to correct. I pointed out an answer that I thought he had done incorrectly and helpfully suggested a different (wrong) answer. It turned out THAT was problem he was called on to explain.

You're welcome son. (OK in my defense I misunderstood the question which is what they wanted you to do and I fell right into their trap).

So we arrived at the first meeting and discovered that no matter how smart you think YOUR kid is, there is always another kid out there who makes yours look like Pee Wee Herman. Which in Jeffrey's case isn't a far stretch since he can do the whole "Tequila" dance with surprising accuracy.

Yes, we are very proud.

There was one little boy (Oliver) who stood up and gave an extremely articulate explanation of how he solved one of the problems.  "I understood that potentially every answer could be correct, but I realized that if I took the first number from the equation and subtracted it from the last number in the equation, then all the other numbers cancelled themselves out, so without having to do much more work I ascertained that the only answer possible had to be 0."

Jeffrey sat nodding away as if he arrived at the answer in exactly the same manner. I happen to know for a fact that when he was working on that particular problem he was using his fingers to count and subtract and it took him the better part of 5 minutes to arrive at the answer. But in his defense, he did get it right.

I think the whole experience will be good for Jeffrey. In much the same way taking karate is good for him. It will teach him to slow down a bit and focus. Something he won't do on his own.

Of course what really made him agree to do the Math League wasn't that he could get together with a bunch of intellectuals twice a month, or that it would look good on his college resume. It was because all the kids who participate get a trophy at the end of the year.

When I asked him if he enjoyed himself and he said it was fun, he immediately followed up with "I AM going to get a trophy for all this right?".

I assured him that no matter how he did, as long as he showed up at the meetings and tried his best he would indeed receive a trophy.

"Well thats good because I wouldn't want to do all this hard work and thinking and have nothing to show for it in the end."

I feel the same way. Where's my trophy?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Great Front Seatini Blows a Fuse

Once again the Great Front Seatini is being called upon to see into the future, look into the past, make sense out of the present and in general spout knowledge that no one but she could possibly know. Or want to know, but that's completely beside the point.

"What is it that I can help you with today my son?"

"I was thinking......"

"Uh oh..  I mean go on...."

"I was thinking about how many presents I am going to get for Christmas.
I know the amount I get is based on how good I have been."

"I always thought it was based on how much money we had in the bank... but anyway... go on."

"So I was adding up all sorts of things.
There are 25 days until Christmas and if I do a good deed every day until then that should count for something.
But then I was also thinking that there may have been a few times that I wasn't so good."

(Do tell)

"Like there might have been once or twice that I wasn't as nice to Katherine as I could have been"

"Really, only once or twice?"

"Then there was those few times I didn't clean my room up when you told me too."

"Just a few huh?"

"So can you help me with the math?"

"Is this regular 1 + 1 stuff or the new math?"

"If I am good for 25 days, then take off maybe 3 or 4 days from the past that I wasnt so good..."

"I see you are being rather generous to yourself..."

"Then I take into account how much I WANT to be good and multiply those days by that.... then maybe I can do some extra credit on a few days too... and add those in... and I know you have to pay Santa for the gifts so I wouldn't want you to have to spend too much.... so maybe we could divide all this by some number to take into account how much it all costs and then I wanted to add in the number of gifts that Katherine and I get as joint gifts because those count too.
So if you do all that, how many gifts do you think I'm going to get for Christmas?"

We're sorry the Great Front Seatini has blown a fuse and must close for repairs.
Please try back in 24 hours to see if the circuits have reset themselves.
Thank you for your patronage.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Way Back Wednesday ~~ 1958

This is my mom in the late 1950's when she and my dad started one of the first fake fingernail companies.
I still have a box of this somewhere (or at least I think I do). Of course none of the components would be good anymore. Probably most of them are evaporated or congealed. This was a real do-it-yourself kit where you had to mix all the chemicals together correctly then shape the aluminum form around your nail and finally paint the mixture onto the form and let it dry. In my wildest dreams I don't think I could accomplish this with any degree of accuracy. It would just end up a mess.  (But then again, this IS me we are talking about.)

I love the costume jewelry my mom has on. I still have the watch she is wearing in my jewelry box and it actually works. It barely fits around my wrist which even at my thinnest are much bigger than my moms. I do hope to wear it comfortably one day soon.

The photo was taken by a famous Hollywood Glamour photographer named John E Reed. He did a lot of shots for up and coming starlets. I'm sure he and my dad worked together at some point. This is a picture of his studio where the photo was taken which was on the north side of Sunset Blvd near Highland in Hollywood. Not too far from where I went to high school.

Hope you all have a great Wednesday... we're half way to Friday which is plus no matter how you look at it!