Friday, December 31, 2010

Things that make Bjorn cringe

Jennifer gave Meg a dress up set for Christmas. She absolutely adores it. And so does Andy.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Oh, the loot

Here are the kids on Christmas morning. Note the matching pajamas. When Dad and I went shopping, we got four pairs for all four little cousins that matched. They are more boyish than girlish, but while the girls can wear blue, Andy would cry and whine (more than normal) to wear pink.
Here is Meg attempting to ride her balance bike. This is about as far as she's gotten on it. See the cookies and milk for Santa in the background. Santa was too tired (and maybe even a little drunk) after cooking his beef stew all day that it was actually a struggle to make sure to consume the cookies.
Bjorn's new shoes that despite my best efforts, were not exactly like his old ones.
Here's Dad in front of their house attempting to ride Mom's pogo stick. As you can see, he's wearing the back brace and suspenders he got for Christmas (I imagine he picked them out himself) as well as his Christmas sweater. It's a miracle we didn't end up in the emergency room.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Wow. After weeks of planning, plotting, purchasing, stressing, listening to the whining choruses of, "I want it right now," and , "But what if I don't get any presents!" Christmas is over. Bjorn made his Julia Child beef borgonionne for everyone on Christmas Eve, and damn, it was amazing. Bjorn was a champ in that the recipe calls for about 25 different steps, including cutting and drying about 100 different pieces of meat, and takes about eight hours to make start to finish. Damn it was worth it though. I consider that one of the Christmas presents to me!

We had 12 people all together for dinner, including four children. It was awesome to get to use the full range of our house for entertaining, complete with using every dish in the house. It took four loads in the dishwasher to get everything clean. So fun to have room to get out all that wedding stuff and entertain on such a grand scale.

Dallas did get like two inches of cold rain that day, the first precipitation of any kind all month. I was insanely jealous of all the snow throughout the rest of the South and blizzard warnings on the eastern seaboard. Fortunately good wine, good food and good family eased my jealousy.

It was a lot trying to keep our family traditions from Virginia and merging them into the new world order here complete with my cousin from Sydney, my sister on crutches from knee surgery and my uncle in a wheelchair. Like I made the mistake of hauling all our presents to my parents which meant Christmas morning was more bare with just a few Santa gifts. We also tried rushing over to their house to open presents after stockings and Santa, but we managed to annoy them by being late and I annoyed my own family by rushing them. We'll figure it out.

Of course, what works this year most certainly won't work next as we are thrilled that Bjorn's two brothers, his mother and all the kids are planning to come for the holiday. That would be the five of us (plus or minus Jennifer who isn't sure), four siblings and their spouses, four kids aged four to 15, plus Bjorn's mom. I am glad to have a year to get enough sheets and towels for everyone, but that's a good problem to have!

So far, winners for the holiday:
Bjorn's homemade Swedish glogg
Meg's new Yo Gabba Gabba bath toys
Andy's Nerf basketball hoop
Bjorn's beef stew
This iPad from Dad (Bjorn is insanely jealous)
Mom's egg nog
Dad's wine selection
Meg's dress up clothes (Andy also uses the shoes for "tap dancing"
Meg's new kitchen
Super Mario Galaxy
All the new puzzles

Surprisingly, the biggest duds are what I considered the biggest presents for the kids. Andy got a remote control helicopter that's harder to operate than it seems. Meg also got a cool "balance bike" that she can't figure out at all.

P.S. I have discovered Boardwalk Empire. Damn you, HBO. That's good stuff.

The bike I spent weeks researching. I was so excited to see her take off on it and she just can't figure it out at all right now. They did spend an hour fighting over my uncle's stocking stuffer, an old school magnetic toy. Typical. I am so getting these kids a box next year instead of the toy that goes in it.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Enough, now

As if the Christmas season wasn't enough, Andy went and lost a tooth (his third) last night. We were already at a party too late and then my niece, Megan, was coming to spend the night. After I'd read three stories and was tucking them in, finally, at something ungodly like 10:30, he pulls his tooth out. The going rate this time? Two dollars.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Damn you, NPR

I listen to a lot of NPR these days. Part of this is because the local radio stations in Texas seem to want to lynch all the Democrats and Obama himself. It's not like there is a legitimate debate here, but people screaming at me through the radio about how evil Obamacare is, how he's not a citizen, etc. etc. So I listen to NPR.

A few weeks ago, I heard a review of a book, "As Meat Loves Salt."

I remember when I first idly opened this book over my morning coffee. I had other plans for that day, yet after about 10 pages, I put those plans aside. Indulging myself, I curled into the living room armchair and galloped on as the sun rose high. I don't, alas, often say this of any novel as an adult, but I could not put it down.

High praise, right? So I checked it out of the library. I went so far as to ask for an inter library loan (which is friggin awesome. Seriously. Any book in the country except new bestsellers is available for this inter library loan. If I work this right, I may never have to buy a book again).

So I read it and it's terrible. Well, I'm sure it's got artistic merit, maybe even be a classic, like Faulkner. But by golly, it was dark, sad, depressing, violent and, unbelievably, erotic, if you consider gay rape erotic, that is.

In a change of subject, my sister survived her knee surgery and is recovering slowly and painfully, but recovering. My mother returned to Dallas with my Uncle Bobby who is also recovering from his stroke slowly, but at least he's here where we (well, my mom) can look after him and his care properly.

Also on the health front, Andy and I are recovering from the stomach flu. Fingers crossed we are better by tomorrow as the party circuit starts tomorrow night and goes through Christmas. I. Can't. Wait. I hope to start feeling better so we can properly enjoy the merriment of the holidays in our new hometown.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The barfs

So, what's the protocol when your daughter vomits all over the bathroom at Wal-Mart?

Poor Meg. We went Friday night to the super Wal-Mart so I could get a few groceries and some stocking stuffers (I also need to enjoy that she's still young enough I can slip those past her; Andy is starting to ask some serious questions about Santa). We hadn't made it past the produce section.

"My tummy full. I need to pee."
"Really? Because I just asked you before we left. But okay..."

So we abandon our cart and go into the bathroom. For some reason, I picked the handicapped stall. The toilet's too tall, but there's room for me to stand with her.

"I can't go!" She whines. And I start to get annoyed because she's doing this a lot lately when she wants a change of scenery. Not this time.
"My tummy...." And then she proceeds to throw up forward all over the floor. Fortunately, she spares my clothes, but I'm looking around wondering how in the world I'm going to handle this. She then throws up another time. The first was all red, compliments of the "red" party at her school on Friday where everyone brought in something colored red. I know, good times.

By now, she's crying and I'm trying to comfort her without covering myself or stepping in the mess all over the floor while wondering if the barfs are done. After a brief assessment of the situation, I hang up my coat and purse, take off all her clothes and start cleaning her up in the sink. Naturally the other lady in the bathroom at Wal-Mart is as nice as she can be and is talking to Meg helping calm her down, too. I take off my sweater after I wipe her down and put it on her. I sneak out to get a plastic bag and put all her stuff in it -- clothes, jacket and shoes - and we make our exit. I do tell the manager at the check out that my daughter threw up in there. "It's okay," she says cheerfully. Clearly she's not going to be the one cleaning it up.

After we get home, she throws up a couple more times, mostly dry heaves. By the next morning, she's back to normal. Go figure.

Lots going on this week. My sister is having her ACL fixed tomorrow and my uncle with lung cancer is leaving his occupational rehab on Tuesday and my mom flying out to Odessa, Texas, and driving him him back to Dallas so she can better look after him. Please keep them in your thoughts. Oh, if that wasn't enough and then we have Christmas. I am mostly prepared. Mostly.

Edited to add that since I wrote this at 8:33 p.m., she went and threw up again. This time, all over Bjorn and the bathroom off the kitchen. I am hoping it's just that she drank some old milk she found (don't ask) but it could be an extension of Friday, strep or just one of those things. She doesn't have a fever, for now anyway.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Happy holidays

I'm totally biased, of course, but this is pretty darn adorable. Here's what he said when he handed it to me when I picked him up this week, "Here, Mommy. This is for you. It's a Christmas ornament. It's breakable so don't let me touch it. Okay, Mommy?" That kid is sadly as subtle as his parents.

To cap the holiday festivities, Andy has strep. I got a call from the school nurse that his was complaining of being really tired and presented with a 101.5 temperature. By the time I arrived 15 minutes later, it had spiked to 102.1 even with him lying on an ice pack. The adorable nurse who is at least 10 years younger than me insisted I take him to the doctor where a quick strep test was positive for strep. Some omnicef and Motrin later, he's bouncing off the walls again. Modern medicine simply rocks sometimes.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Chap this

This stuff is awesome though quite expensive.
Good thing I've still got a tub of it lying around.
Meg's in a phase right now where she likes to lick her lips and chin. It's probably because it's getting dry and cool here (hard to believe that would ever happen) and it feels good. She's been getting nice red rings on her chin. I was putting Chapstick and Neosporin on, but neither was making much difference until I had the genius idea to use some some diaper cream. It seems to have the basic properties of needing to resist moist areas. I also have loads of this very awesome butt paste (no paid product placement, just a fan). To my surprise, it works great! It also smells way better than A&D ointment which also works well, but makes me gag ever so slightly every time I use it. Go me!

Meanwhile, despite all the holiday excess, it's occurring to me that Andy's birthday is in a month and I need to be thinking about some kind of birthday. Last year I got away with just inviting the boys in his class, but with his new love affair with a girl in his class, we certainly can't leave her out which means inviting all 22 kids. Any ideas for good birthday party places? We haven't been to a lot here so I am not sure where to start.

Thursday, December 02, 2010


Meg's school had a Christmas carol event tonight where all the classrooms paraded out one by one to sing songs for the families. Thankfully it's Texas so it wasn't cold. Meg is second from the last. Mom came with me and caught it on video. Too cute! Well, too cute if it's your kid. To anyone else, not so much probably.

We have been digging out the Christmas decorations here. It's been so fun to have a new house to decorate. It's definitely got more room for decorations and the formals here really lend themselves to it. Plus, I turned on the gas fireplace. So awesome! I was a purist before, insisting to anyone who would listen (probably obnoxiously, which can be my style) that wood burning was the way to go. I was wrong. This is so much cleaner and nicer and without the smoke smell.

What's no so great? The eight cavities the dentist says I have. I know, EIGHT. Who knew that was possible? I just went to the dentist last year! Two of them are replacing two old silver fillings that appear to be decaying, but the other six? Geez. I am going to have to get serious about flossing probably. Shit. In response, see the video my sister Elizabeth sent me. She better be careful. I have some incriminating photos and 600 friends on Facebook.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010


We went back to Virginia for Thanksgiving. It was a really good trip seeing family and friends. In fact, it was such a good trip I found myself a little wistful that we'd left it all behind. It was sort of like that first Thanksgiving home after going off to college. Sure, I liked school a lot and sure I had new friends, but nothing quite compared yet to everything I had at home. Plus, it was so fun seeing everyone at home again when it was all a big party and lots of interesting stories to catch up on. I even went into the office one day and caught up with everyone there. Lots of good, exciting personal news happening in the office that I was happy to hear about, too.

All that said, I was happy to get home yesterday and sleep in my own bed knowing the kids would (more or less) sleep in their own beds. The kids shared a room at Margareta's, which worked fine until about day three or four when Meg realized 1) she could get out, 2) she could smack her brother around and 3) she could roam upstairs to where we were sleeping. The guest bed is plenty big and comfy for two, not so much for three, including one who sleeps perpendicular.

We are now actively making plans to host all of Bjorn's family here for Christmas 2011. Bjorn and I are thrilled at the thought of having everyone stay with us here. This gives us a year to stock up on furniture and air mattresses for the kids and think of things for everyone to do, besides the customary eating and drinking lots.

Here are the kids (and their ginormous Pillow Pets TM with Fafa at Dulles Airport.

Meg and Andy (he's the blur of stripes) using Jennifer as a horse. She was thrilled. Obviously.

Margareta and Willie -- family friends for more than 40 years. Isn't that cool?

The kids and Fafa working a puzzle.

Auntie Viv and Andy.

Andy and his BFF Liam (and our BFFs Jenny and Sean). It was so fun seeing them and drinking their fine wine and beer.

Some of the C-spot girls (women?) at a friend's birthday party. They are just awesome.