Monday, December 29, 2008
We had a really lovely Christmas this year. Eric and Anna spent Christmas Eve at Oma and Opa's as is the tradition; while they were gone I frantically wrapped every single present. Anna, completely out of character for her, wanted me to curl her hair, because going to Oma and Opa's is special. How adorable is she?
Then Christmas morning Eric came over first thing so that we could all spend Christmas morning together. I can't tell you how blessed I feel that this is our situation, that my current husband welcomes my ex-husband into our home so that Anna gets to spend Christmas morning with all of us. She is at a GREAT age right now where she wanted all of US to open our presents first, because she was so excited to see OUR reactions. She and Eric made two bird-houses for me and she painted them. Very cute.
All Anna wanted for Christmas was (get ready)...an ostrich egg. Yes, my child is WEIRD. She is really, really into rocks and crystals and fossils and bones...since she was just tiny she has collected bits and pieces of nature: antlers found in the deep Oregon woods during a mushroom-gathering hike when she was less than 3. A coyote skull found in the woods of N. Idaho (I've never had the heart to point out that the hole in it's skull is likely from a bullet). A wing from an owl. Feathers. Rocks. Shells. Bird nests. The top of her dresser looks like it belongs in a natural history museum. So when mom and I were in NYC and Kim took me to Evolution, I found several really cool things for Anna. And then, when I got back, I showed her the website. She spent HOURS pouring over their offerings. Finally she announced that she simply could not live another day without an ostrich egg. THANK YOU internet. I love the look of complete rapture on her face as she's clutching the large egg to her chest.
I have to say, I NAILED it with the gifts for her this year. At Evolution I found a Horse Anatomy kit, a teeny sea-horse in a bottle, a gorgeous beetle, a beautiful rock to add to her rock collection and a book on identifying rocks and crystals. I also found, on-line, a "crystal-mining" kit, which is essentially a block of porous concrete type stuff with several rocks and crystals inside and some tools. The child then has to dig and scrape and brush away the concrete to get to the stones. That was a big hit. After finding the treasures, she ran and got her rock-collection display case and put them inside. I am so glad that she is not into dolls or Barbies; I love that she loves to learn. It certainly makes it fun to shop for her.
I hope you all had a wonderful holiday. Now. I'm off to drive home in the howling, 30mph winds and blowing snow. Fun!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
(if you just click to get it started, the slideshow will begin and advance itself.)
Ok!!! Finally, here is a slideshow of my trip to NCY with my beautiful mom. These are only some of the photos; now that I know how to do this, I'll post more soon. Picnik and Flickr came through for me. Photobucket: YOU SUCK.
Anyway, our trip was so much fun, I can't even tell you. It started out a little sketchy. In fact, so many things went wrong that we started a list. But the thing is, each thing that went wrong ended up being resolved fairly painlessly. To wit:
Mom lost her boarding pass at the Las Vegas airport and did not realize this until we were BOARDING. Silver lining: They quickly and easily reprinted one for her and we got on the plane.
We arrived at the Long Island airport to POURING RAIN and our driver was nowhere to be found. When I called to check, I was told at first that there was no record of a reservation. We were exhausted and overwhelmed and we'd been travelling for over 12 hours with nothing but some peanuts and a Cinnabon to eat. Silver lining: Luckily I had printed the emails exchanged between me and the car service and they sent a car right away. Our driver was charming, interesting, and gave us great advice on what to do and what not to do in the city.
We arrived at the hotel, only to be told that our reservation had been cancelled. Here we were in a city we didn't know at all; it was pouring rain and we wouldn't even have known where to begin looking for another hotel. Silver lining: The front desk realized that the cancellation was THEIR error and they had a room available. It was similar in size to a cruise-ship room, but hey, it had beds and at that point, that's all we cared about.
Our plan on Friday was to spend the day exploring Rockefeller Center, including a tour of the NBC studios. We waited in line and our group filed into the auditorium for a short movie clip. But first, they had to check everone's tickets because they somehow had an extra person or two. So one girl went around with a flashlight checking all our tickets to make sure we were supposed to be part of the 11:00 group. Apparently, 1 or 2 extra people were NOT acceptable. Then, they had to check agian. Then they checked a third time and then one of them had to go confer with the manager. We are all really grumbling, ready to get started and irritated that whoever was the intruder didn't just admit to it. Finally, she came back in and said "Ok, apparently someone here is actually booked for Friday December 19th. I need you all to look at your tickets again." Yep, you guessed it. Silver lining: They were able to get us in on the next group. And as we were touring the SNL studio, we saw Seth Myers.
Oh, and this is my favorite: On the Metro on the way back to the hotel from Rockefeller Plaza, it was Friday night and the subways were just packed. At each stop, a few people would get off but ten times more would try to cram on. The conductor kept saying "Do NOT block the doors. You can't stand in the doorway." And then at the next stop the same thing would happen: "Do NOT block the doors. If you can't fit onto this train, there is another one right behind us." Of course, no one paid any attention to him at all and continued to cram their way in and block the doors. Finally, the conductor got so mad "Because you people aren't listening to me and it's causing delays" he decided to SKIP OUR STOP. He just announced that there wasn't going to be a stop at 28th street and that the next stop would the 14th st. That would mean a 14 block walk, in the dark, back to our hotel and I would have ended up carrying mom on my back I think. Lucky for us a kind local woman recognized our "tourist-in-headlights" look and said "I am going to 28th street too; we'll just get off and get on the next train". Which we did and that conductor was kind enough to STOP AT THE DESIGNATED METRO STOPS and so we were able to pop up right in front of our hotel as planned.
The rest of the weekend went relatively smoothly. We toured the city and saw the sights and I became a pro at hailing cabs and we got to see Kim and it was really an all-around fabulous trip that both mom and I will remember forever.
I love NY. And my mom is pretty cool too.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Eric and Anna and I skiied to the store for baking supplies. Have you ever tried to x-country ski in 3 feet of powdery snow with a gallon of milk, a few pounds of flour, a bottle of wine, two pounds of butter and 3 dozen eggs in your back-pack?? Luckily my ex-husband was willing to be my pack-mule. Anna is doing so well on skis! She fell down several times but she'd get up smiling and keep going. We were very proud of her great attitude.
Ok, I'm off to the Tribal Christmas luncheon and then HOPEFULLY home for the weekend. Will post more later.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
So now I'm just DONE working with photos today and ya'll just have to wait until tomorrow. Me? I'm going to go crawl under my desk and suck my thumb while watching the snow fall.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I love everything about it: Going to a tree farm and finding just the right tree, bringing all the boxes of ornaments and decorations up from the basement, hanging the lights out on the porch, stringing up our paper snowflakes across the living room, the fire burning, and always, ALWAYS playing the soundtrack to Charlie Brown's Christmas as we lovingly unwrap each ornament.
This year we planned on doing all this on Sunday as rest of the weekend was full: Anna had birthday parties to attend both Friday and Saturday nights, Saturday was spent running errands and doing some shopping, and Sunday morning we had company coming for coffee. Also Sunday morning, Eric picked Anna up to take her over to Coeur d' Alene to have breakfast with his family and then to go into the woods to pick out and cut down the tree for his house. So by the time Sunday afternoon rolled around, Anna was tired, grouchy and DONE with the whole Christmas tree thing. I could see that the window of opportunity for Christmas cheer was diminishing, so I adjusted my hopes of going out to a tree farm and agreed to just go to a nearby tree lot.
We brought our tree home and as David and I wrestled it into the tree stand, Anna wandered off and got a book, settling in the big chair next to the fireplace to read. I was disappointed that she wasn't as excited as I was to decorate, but I wasn't going to let that hinder my little fantasy. I got some apple-cider and cinnamon sticks simmering on the stove and then turned on the music. I figured that once she saw my excitement as I re-discovered our favorite ornaments, she'd join in.
Instead, she got up, went over and TURNED OFF MY CHARLIE BROWN. Nobody messes with my Charlie Brown, and I told her so, quite nicely. "But I can't READ if there's music on!!!!", she wailed. Now remember, Charlie Brown is soft piano music. It's not as if I was listening to AC/DC. Again overcoming my disappointment that she wasn't interested in decorating the tree, I suggested that she go UPSTAIRS to read if the music was bothering her....because there WAS going to be music playing in the living room. "But I don't WANT to go upstairs. I'm comfortable here!!!!" I decided to just go about my Christmas business and hope that she would get involved. Instead, every time I went into another room to get something, she'd turn the music off....and I'd come back into the room and turn it back on, again urging her to go to another room if she was going to require complete silence in order to read. We went back and forth like this for at least 15 minutes, and finally, I just lost it. I marched into the living room, leaned down into her face and yelled
"We are going to have some GOD DAMNED CHRISTMAS MUSIC ON!!!"
Now that's the spirit.
I will post about our NYC trip once I get our photos downloaded.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
My daughter is the funniest person she knows. That's me, in a wheel-chair WITH a cane. And, um, a small afro apparently.
Later today I leave for Boise to hook up with my mom and tomorrow evening we'll be in NEW YORK CITY, baby!!! I am soooo excited I can hardly stand it.
Have a great weekend, ya'll. There will be stories and pictures next week.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
So now that we are BFFs, Maddie and I e-mail back and forth every now and then, because, you know, actual LETTERS are soooo last decade. Below is the email I got from her this morning:
heey kate i cant belive ur going 2 ny im sooooooooooooooo jealous. in zkewl we r making center pieces and delivering them, then on the 12th we( the whooole 6th grade) r going to the mall 4 secret santa (hohoho) shopping 4 preasants 4 little or big kids!!!!!!!!!!!! it will be sooooooooooooo much fun :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)yes we have put /\ i luuuuuuuuv the smell 2!!! we got all messed /\ with the lights so we have 2 kinda sorta redo them soya 4 christmas break i especially want to chill but i want to have christmas reeeeeaaaaalllllyyyyy soooooooooooooooooooon wooooooooooooooooooooooooooohooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo any ways im really x-ited 4 nye (new years eve) and nyd (new years daay) r'ent u?????? i just love playing with my c-mas preasants and my daddies side of the family all go to church and stay the untill midnight ( 11-12 ) its cool kuz my bff emma goes 2 our church 2 sooo we sit 2-gether and get all sleepy and stuff sooya its really fun
b t w (by the way) a.k.a. p.s. 17 days until c-mas and 23 days until nye aaaaand 24 days untill nyd!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)
Seriously. What the hell? Am I completely old and out of touch, or is this kid speaking a foreign language? In fact, when I just ran a spell-check, my computer coughed a few times, started smoking from somewhere deep within and then melted into a puddle on the floor.
Monday, December 8, 2008
I was incredibly lost and overwhelmed living in a neighborhood, and, as expected, I fell in with the kind of kids that you don't want your children hanging around with. Those are always the kids who will take in a new-comer; they are misfits themselves, so there are no high-standards you must meet in order to become a member of their group. These girls were older than me by a couple of years, and from crazy, seriously dysfunctional families.
One of them, R., had lost her mom to cancer. Her dad was a creepy Jr. High band-teacher who blatently leered at her and her friends as we passed through the kitchen and left his Playboy and Penthouse magazines in the bathroom. Now that I am older I am certain (based on her advanced sexual knowledge and inappropriate behavior) that he was molesting my friend, his daughter.
Another one, L., had, at the age of 10, the body of a very mature teenager; an older man who lived in a house a few blocks from our elementary school took notice and began inviting her in to his house for a coke every day on our walk home from school. No one else was invited or allowed inside.
Another friend, B., lived in a rickety, old, falling-down house with no furniture other than mattresses on the floor. The house was always full mangy dogs, cats with ring-worm, and an endless parade of drug-addicts, carnies and (inexplicably) cross-dressers.
This was back in the day when kids left the house in the morning and our parents really had NO idea where we were, who we were with or what we were doing, as long as we were home by dark. Even then I knew that these were "bad kids", the wrong crowd, and yet it was all I had. I can only imagine the course my life would have taken had I not met my friend Kim.
Kim lived just two blocks from me. We were the same age, but had never had the same teacher. Then one summer I was in Spokane (Washington) with my grandma visiting my uncle. My grandma and I were downtown shopping when I saw a familiar little red-head coming toward us. We shyly said hello, and my grandma and her mother started a conversation, marveling that Kim and I lived in the same neighborhood in Boise and then ran into each other in downtown Spokane. Turns out Kim and her mom were in town visiting her grandma. Meanwhile, Kim and I were staring at each other's shoes: we both had on brand-spanking new identical blue suede Earth Shoes. (Shut up. Earth Shoes were very IN in 1976. And they're back in now, you know.) Before parting ways, we agreed on a play-date the next day at her grandma's house.
Once back in Boise, we began to hang out even though we still didn't have the same 5th grade teacher. By 6th grade we were in the same class and we became inseparable. She was funny as hell and SMART. I was enthralled by her parents, her mom especially. Jennifer had been just SEVENTEEN when Kim was born (it was 1964 after all); so when we were 10, her mother was a very hip 27 year old. Her parents smoked pot, listened to National Public Radio, drove convertible European cars, and discussed politics at the dinner table. Kim and I were as close as sisters all through jr. high and high school. But I could never understand why she was so MORTIFIED when we'd come home and her mom would be mowing the front yard in a teeeny macrame bikini, or when they had dinner parties full of other interesting 30-somethings and we would come downstairs to find them passing around a bong and singing along to the Beatles White Album. Me, I was completely smitten.
Not to discredit my own parents, who were also smart and funny and loved me. But, well, they were OLD. My mom was 33 when she had me; heck, she was practically a GRANDMA (43!!) by the time I was 10. (Hi mom! I love you! I'm sorry I thought you were old. Now I'm almost 44 and my daughter is only 8. Pay back time.) Anyway, I have always felt that Kim's mom had a huge influence on me in terms of style and books and my addiction to NPR.
When Kim and I were 16, my father was murdered. It was beyond horrible; I was in complete shock and denial for the longest time. I couldn't (or wouldn't) allow myself to hurt or to feel anything, really. Kim's mom Jennifer helped me then, too, all but forcing me to come to terms with my father's death. Then, a year or so later, Kim's parents divorced and she was devastated. I was able to be there for her, and we made it through the insanity that is jr. high and high school together.
During our 20s and 30s, Kim and I drifted apart (we were almost TOO close, you know?) and at one point had a falling out over something stupid and did not speak to each other for several years. Her mom Jennifer and I both lived in Oregon at the same time, and kept in very loose touch. When they came to the coast they would stop by, and a couple of times Eric and I visited Jennifer and her new husband in Bend. Then I heard through old friends that Kim's dad died. I contacted her to tell her how sorry I was and how much I'd admired him, and we've been back on ever since.
Why am I bringing this up now? Because guess who called me out of the blue on Saturday? Yes, Jennifer. She was in Spokane (which, in a bizarre twist of fate is where I live now) visiting relatives and asked if they could come by to say hello and to meet David and Anna. (Ironically, Kim and I both married east-coast Jews named David.) Jennifer looks just the same, and we had a WONDERFUL visit, talking about politics and comparing notes on books we've read lately. It felt so good to finally be a grown-up (as opposed to the messed up little punk I was in high-school) and to have her in my house.
And, AND later in the week when my mom and I go to NY, we get to see Kim, too. Both of them in one week? It's almost too good to be true.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Yesterday I received a letter in the mail saying that they were gathering more information to include in her file, "personality" type information. So last night I'm filling out the questionnaire, and I'm not too proud to admit that I was literally singing "My daughter's gifted, my daughter's gifted, nuh nuh nuh nuuuh nuh!" I am thinking that I will be one of the first parents to return the questionnaire, thereby confirming that she comes from superior stock.
This morning on my way out the door, I grabbed my outgoing mail and looked at this envelope. No stamp in the corner. "Hmmm" I thought, "I KNOW I put a stamp on this last night."
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Now, pass the shrimp cocktail.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Dunkin Donuts originated in Boston, so it's very special to Bostonians, like lobster from Main or Cafe du Monde chicory coffee and beignets from New Orleans.
I love the visual of him hauling his suitcase, a cup of coffee, a big white teddy bear (a gift from Grammy Susan) and a box of donuts through the airport. If only I had a picture of the white bear sitting next to him and the box of donuts on the table by his Bloody Mary in the "executive lounge" in the San Fransisco and Seattle airports (for there is no such thing as a direct flight between Boston and Spokane.)
Then he drove straight to Eric's from the airport to deliver them to her so that they were fresh. Is that not the sweetest thing ever? Needless to say, she thought that was pretty cool.
Yeah, I think he likes my kid. And I like him.
Monday, December 1, 2008
See, my mom is amazing. No, really. I know that you think yours is too, but mine really IS. She has been through so much that her life-story would make an amazing book. She would never admit that, but it's true. And she's come through it all with incredible grace and has earned the life-long respect of everyone who knows her. And on top of it all, she is unbelievably generous. She once took our entire family (her kids and our spouses) on a week-long cruise through the Inland Passage. She took me and my siblings to Washington DC. She has paid for countless trips, paid off debts, helped all of us buy our homes, helped put her grandchildren through college and on and on and ON. And she asks for nothing in return.
Now, there are two things that mom has always wanted to do. One is to go to Cornwall, England, the other is to go to NYC to see The Rockettes. So my siblings and I began plotting, and on her birthday this past summer, my sisters and I made a ridiculously embarrassing attempt at a Rockettes performance to tell her that she and I are going to go see the real thing. Why am I the lucky one to go with her? I dunno....I guess because I have done the most travelling in my family and am most comfortable with it. Also, I'm the only one who has ever been to NY before.
I've mentioned here before the trip to New England that Eric and Anna and I took when we FINALLY sold our house and business in Oregon. Part of that trip included staying with my best childhood friend and going into the city for the day. Truthfully, Eric and I both had very low expectations; we expected it to be crowded, dirty, ugly, smelly, dangerous. But we thought that since we were RIGHT THERE visiting Kim anyway, we might as well check it out. The crazy thing is, though, we both loved NY. I mean LOVED it so much that we went back the next day, without our local tourist guide. It was not at all what we expected. We adored Central Park (we couldn't believe all the amazing birds we saw) and I want to LIVE in the Natural History Museum.
So needless to say, I am so bloody excited to go back. We are, of course, going to see the Rockettes (and therefore Rockefeller Center), but other than that we are pretty open. We can't do a ton of walking (my mom's feet bother her) so I'm looking for ideas for what we should do with our 3-4 days there. We are staying in mid-town (east side). Anyone have suggestions?