03 Jan 2011

Three Weeks

7 Comments Family, Personal Crap

Eighteen days ago, Garrett had his last day of school before Winter Break.  I was excited, but I was also wondering how the hell we were going to fill eighteen days with fun and education and food and, well frankly I was wondering how we were going to do any of it. And now it’s over and I want another three weeks! Okay, maybe I’m looking a little forward to having a routine back, but truthfully these last three weeks have been a total vacation.

We’ve been to the museum, the park, and Kidspace. We’ve had play dates and plenty of meals out. We’ve played Wii Fit and Diego’s Dinosaur Adventure. We’ve played with thousands of dinosaurs, we’ve BEEN hundreds of dinosaurs, we’ve celebrated with friends, we’ve spent time with family, we’ve napped (and napped), we’ve read stories, we’ve made up stories. And this time has flown. This morning when he said he didn’t want to go to school, I was SO close to saying, “Let’s have one more day at home!” But I know we need to get back to reality, at least a little bit.

Christmas Eve was a joy. We spent it with good friends and incredible food (an almost daily theme these three weeks). Our friend cooked a feast for her husband and the three of us, sending us home with enough for more meals. We laughed and talked and ate, and Garrett played with the awesome toys they bought him. Christmas was incredible. Our first little miracle was that G woke up at 5:55, but went back to sleep until 8:00! I guess that was his gift to us. When we all got up, he padded into the living room in his footy pj’s and gave the appropriate gasp when he saw his gifts. He methodically opened every one, stopping completely to change into his NEW footy pj’s, with dinosaurs all over them. He was grateful and so sweet. We spent the rest of the day hanging out, going to the park, napping, and playing with new toys. I’d call it perfect.

New Year’s Eve afternoon, my in-laws drove in from Oregon. That morning, G and I had a play date at an indoor kid’s wonderland and we got home to see Grandma and Grandpa waiting. He only gets to see them about twice a year, so it’s always a very big event. It’s an understatement to say he was happy. He immediately shut himself in his room with Grandma Farm (his nickname for her) and played and played.

Now, Russ and I haven’t left the house on New Year’s Eve in 10 years. We always have the party at our house. Always the same friends. It’s just the way it is, and it’s the way we like it. But this year, Grandma and Grandpa volunteered to watch G-Man so we could party ELSEWHERE! So at 7:00, we kissed our little boy goodbye and drove to Denny’s to meet the other two couples we spend NYE with, and have our “Big Tip Dinner”.  (See the end of this post). It was supposed to take place closer to Christmas, but all of us kept getting sick.

Denny’s was just as greasy as I had remembered. I ordered the Moons Over MyHammy with hash browns. Lo and Behold, our server(s) were GREAT! They were busy, so Manny started us out by getting our drinks. He was lovely, so we asked if he could serve us, but it was Vicki’s station and she’d be by soon. Vickie was equally as lovely, and they both busted their butts to give us great service all night. It was almost as if they somehow knew what we were there to do. But they didn’t. They were just hard-working, kick-ass servers.

We decided to give $50 to Manny and $100 to Vicki. They both deserved a part of the tip, but she was there with us more. First we called Manny over, slipped him the $50 and said, “Happy New Year”! He wished us the same, as he folded the money and placed it in his apron without looking. Vicki did exactly the same thing. So, as one of my friends pointed out, it was a true “mitzvah”. No reward, no reaction. Only knowing that we did something good, and hoping we made someone’s night a bit brighter.

The rest of the night was spent together at our friend’s house, drinking and laughing the night away. We stayed up until 2:30!!! Russ and I actually slept over, (we came prepared), and had our first night away from G in a very long time. (Yes, I missed him.) The next morning we had some coffee and watched the Rose Parade before bringing home some In n Out and hanging with our boy and his grandparents. That night was dinner at our favorite pizza place.

Yesterday, more food. More play time. More laughter. Our last day of vacation took us to Eagle Rock to eat at a Polish place we had all seen on Diners, Drive-ins & Dives. It was fun and silly, and the perfect meal to end vacation with, because it was heavy and fattening. This morning Grandma and Grandpa Farm left, G went back to school, I grocery shopped and cleaned the kitchen, started a diet, and sat down to write.

I loved every moment with my family and friends these last few weeks. Reality’s good, but vacation is even better.

I hope your 2011 is filled with wonder and awe. I plan on having a spectacular year. I hope you do, too.

Happy New Year!

24 Dec 2010

The Fat Man’s Dropping Gifts Tonight

11 Comments Family, Personal Crap

Well, here we are. Christmas Eve. And finally, I get to live out my childhood Christmas fantasies through my son. Tonight, Santa will stop by our house, eat some crispy oatmeal cookies, drink some milk, and drop off a ton of gifts to Garrett.

Growing up Jewish, I never felt completely left out, but I always longed to know what it was like to celebrate Christmas. One year my parents let us wake up to one gift each, in exchange for them sleeping until 11:00. I thought it was a good trade.

And I remember having a big debate with my brother in our garage about whether or not Santa Claus was real. I wanted so badly to believe, but I was 8 or 9 and that ship had sailed. My brother made sure of that.

But now all of the magic of Christmas is a part of my life, and I’m loving every minute of it. It doesn’t make me any less Jewish, mind you. It just makes my life in December a little more hectic and a lot more fun. And it forces me to spend a lot more time in the kitchen baking Christmas-inspired desserts.  It’s also a holiday that forces you to be a little more creative, and to tickle your child’s imagination with images of Santa and reindeer, elves and the North Pole.

We’re very blessed to have our little family. We’re very blessed we get to celebrate two different holidays at this time of year. We’re very grateful and humbled that we have a home in which to celebrate, friends and family to share the time with, and the chance to make lasting memories.

We’re still not exactly sure how tomorrow will pan out in terms of what we’re doing after present-opening. But whatever it is, I’m glad I get to share in this holiday. And I’m so excited to wake up with my husband and my son, to open gifts and be together.

I hope your holiday is filled with joy and laughter, and that you’re spending it with people you love. I truly believe these are the greatest gifts of all.

Merry Christmas!

22 Dec 2010

I Ain’t Didn’t Get No Sleep, So I Tired

11 Comments Toddler

Allow for me to describe to you the last several hours.

Garrett went to bed at 8:30 and I proceeded to try to plan an upcoming trip we’re taking. At 10:00, I woke Russ from Garrett’s floor (occasionally, he or I will sleep next to G’s bed for a bit), and he and I watched some House Hunters, and made fun of the people on TV.  After some marital canoodling, it was time to do a crossword puzzle and go to sleep. It was midnight, but I knew Russ was waking up with Garrett this morning, so I was about to get eight hours sleep.

At 3:00AM, I could hear our cat Sonny meowing. Sonny’s an outdoor cat, and he’s taken to SCREECHING in the middle of the night, until one of us brings him some food (even though his bowl is full) and tells him we’ll see him in the morning. It’s raining in L.A., so I’m feeling extra bad for him.  I held him for a couple minutes and went back to bed.

At 3:48, Garrett magically appeared in our bed. Russ had apparently taken him to the bathroom and now G wanted to sleep with us. This doesn’t happen often because G likes his own bed. But when it does happen, he’s usually great at going to sleep, or asking me to take him back to his room.

This time was different. Garrett was talking. He was talking a lot. It was like someone was paying him by the word. Then he was thirsty, so I got him some water. I guess the lack of sleep made me not put the lid on right, so at approximately 4:23AM, Garrett spilled the water all over the bed and all over me. He was apologizing profusely as I changed my pajama pants and got a towel to sleep on. Then Garrett decided my collar bone made a comfortable pillow. Then my stomach was where he wanted to lay his head. Then the talking started again. This time he wanted to know if the sun was up and if it was wake up time. It wasn’t. Not by a long shot.

4:55 AM. Garrett wanted proof it wasn’t wakeup time. He made me pull back the curtains to show him that the sun wasn’t up yet. I did. Then I told him I was taking him back to his room, which was met with a big, whiny, “Nooooo! I’ll stop talking. I promise!”

Then Sonny’s screeching started again. This never happens. We usually get one screech a night, we take care of him, and he’s good until the morning. This time G heard the screeching and it freaked him out. So I put on my robe and slippers and put Sonny in the soft carrier he sleeps in. I zipped it up and brought him in the kitchen. Side note for you cat lovers:  Sonny pees all over the place. He’s been fixed, but it doesn’t seem to matter. If he’s loose in a house, he’ll mark it. The entire house. That’s why he’s outside. He’s been outside for seven years now, and he’s doing just fine.

Back to my story. At 5:30 AM, G asked once again if it was wakeup time, and if he could have a snack. This time I said, “Yep. It is. Let’s make it happen.” So that was my night. It’s now 6:30, I’m writing this post, and G is on the couch, full of Kix and blueberries, watching Spongebob Squarepants. I’ll wake Russ up in about an hour and I’ll go back to sleep. Hopefully, Garrett will take a five-hour nap around 10:30.

I got about three hours sleep. And somehow I still really love this kid.

Then again, I might just be delirious from lack of sleep and really hard rain.

18 Dec 2010

Flawless Saturday Question

28 Comments Flawless Saturday Question

What is the one gift you are most looking forward to giving this year? Can you already picture the look on the face of your child? Your parent? Your friend? Your grandkid?

I’m not going to lie. G-Man is getting quite a haul for Christmas. Some of it is stuff I needed to buy him, like a robe and warm, footy-pj’s. But he loves getting that stuff, so he’ll be thrilled.

He’s definitely getting some dinosaur stuff, which I know he’ll love, including a dinosaur caller, a dino blankie, and a head-lamp to look for dinos in the dark. But I think I’m most excited about him opening his indoor-tunnel-tent. We love making forts and watching movies in them, and this will be a whole new experience. I really think he’ll love it and I can’t wait to see his face when he opens it.

There’s one other thing I’m very excited about giving. This is an idea I heard from a friend of mine last year that another friend of mine reminded me of this year, that I’m sure is going to be the beginning of a long-standing tradition. We’re doing it instead of exchanging gifts with our closest friends. I encourage you to do something similar. Six of us are going to dinner somewhere VERY inexpensive, like Denny’s or  IHOP. At the end of dinner, each couple will leave the server a $50.00 tip. That’s it. No questions asked. It’s just a Christmas bonus for a hard-working server.

I’ll post about it afterward. We keep wondering what we’ll do if the server is mean or the service is terrible. I think, no matter what, we’ll leave the tip. It could warm the heart of an angel, or soften the heart of a grinch. It could go either way!

I look forward to hearing the gift you’re most excited to give, and whatever “charity” or fun tradition you might be starting or continuing.

Christmas is just around the corner, folks! Hope yours is very, very merry.

17 Dec 2010

On the Fifth Day of Sickness…

6 Comments Health, Personal Crap

It’s Day 5 and I’m still feeling lousy. This morning my husband got up with G-Man AGAIN and handled everything. I got up just in time to see G ride off on his tricycle with Russ cheering him on. Then they came home and G got on his scooter for round two! I’ve done NOTHING in five days. NOTHING! Russ has fed me, fed Garrett, played, and done everything while I’ve slept or watched TV.

Okay, I had a meeting on Wednesday and I’ve done some dishes. But that’s it!

I hate feeling so detached. The TV-watching has been nice, because I never get to do that. But otherwise I feel helpless. I just spoke to my doctor who says I should expect a few more days of feeling like this, but that I don’t have to cancel my mom’s birthday dinner tomorrow night. Luckily, we’re going out. Originally I’d planned on cooking. That wouldn’t have worked out.

So, as I’m writing this I get an email that I’ve been “tagged” in a video on Facebook. This girl I went to high school with has been tagging me in these videos she’s making about her cancer. Her friggin cancer. She already had a mastectomy several years ago, but now her breast cancer has metastasized and she has it in her lung and her spine. She has a four-year-old son. We weren’t close in h.s. and I don’t know her at all for the past 20 years, but I know she’s a woman, a wife,  and a mom. And while  I’m here for five days complaining about a fucking cold, she just got home from having part of her spine replaced with titanium and is dealing with a life-threatening disease.

We, as a society, need to come up with a way to appreciate our health every second we have it. EVERY SECOND. How do we do it? Why does it take a massive illness to make us see? It shouldn’t. I know we’re human and we can’t live every day thinking about how tenuous our health is. But it is, damn it. And every day that we feel good, normal, and completely human is a day to be celebrated.

I watch her videos and think, “There before the Grace of God…”.  I pray for her and her family that she beats this. If you have an extra prayer, please do the same. And for goodness’ sake, please also thank God if you’re healthy and if your family is healthy. I’m doing that right now.

16 Dec 2010

No More Naps

9 Comments Toddler

Oh dear god. I think it’s for real this time. No more naps. We made it three years and almost three months of blissful, three-hour naps daily. But now he goes in there, sits for a bit, then calls me. I kiss him. I leave. He calls me five minutes later. Then it’s time to admit he’s not going to nap and I give him a book or DVD, he sits in there a little longer and then it’s over. It’s over.

And just in time for his three week break from school!!!

We’re lucky his naps lasted as long as they did. A LOT of kids stop napping at TWO! But holy cow. This shit is serious now. Break time is OVAH!

Right this very second, he’s sitting on his rocking chair with three books, reading very sweetly and quietly. This should last about four minutes and then we’ll go play.

This kid is growing up and going through phase after phase in the blink of an eye. Everything seems to be going by so quickly, it’s just crazy. I want to hold on to each moment before it flies away.

He was an infant just seconds ago. I would hold him and breast feed. Then he was drinking milk from a bottle and eating real food. Then he was asking for mac and cheese and apple juice. Then he knew every kind of dinosaur that ever lived and was reasoning with us and…

Oh crap. He’s in the living room. He’s walking toward me with a Toy Story stamp.

Napping phase is over. Moving on to the next one.

I love this little, non-sleeping boy.

But, good lord I’m going to miss his naps.

13 Dec 2010

Random Tears

10 Comments Personal Crap

This morning I was watching TV and a commercial came on that was all Christmasy and snowy and happy. It was a  clothing ad, I think. I started bawling. BAWLING! Out of the blue, I was sitting on the couch, my face in my hands, sobbing.

Now, sometimes a woman just has to cry. I always refer to Holly Hunter in “Broadcast News”, where she has to unplug the phone and inexplicably sob for just a minute, before she starts her day. That happens sometimes. Other times, there are reasons behind the tears. But they’re not always easy to decipher.

Today when I was crying, I tried to figure out why as it was happening. Here’s what I came up with:

1. I’m really sick this morning. Sore throat, headache, achey, exhausted. So, I’m naturally more vulnerable and apt to cry. I also feel awful that, since yesterday afternoon, I’ve been unavailable for Garrett because of how I feel. I hate that.

2. The visuals of the holidays in the commercial immediately made me think of how hard it is when you’re older to live up to the beauty of the holidays from your childhood. Then I thought about how much I want Christmas to be an incredibly magical time for G-man, and how I hope his life is beautiful and magical even as he grows up.

3. I thought about how weepy I am from just having a sore throat and how parents who are actually very ill must feel when they can’t participate in their child’s life. I pray to God I never know what that’s like.

4. I then thought about what happens when a child gets ill. This thought is always so sickening, so painful, that I immediately shoo it from my brain. I pray to God we never know that pain.

5. My head then went to my cousin who has throat cancer and is fighting for his life right now. I know he feels helpless and I hate that for him.

6. Then I thought about how lucky I am, and how lucky we are as a family. And how I never want to lose sight of how blessed we are, now, at this moment. And that it’s the moments that matter.

Yup. All of that went through my head in a matter of minutes. And then I pulled it together and went to the doctor. Women are weird, man. I don’t know how we get through a day, really. Come to think of it, we probably wouldn’t if it wasn’t for all the random crying.

11 Dec 2010

Flawless Saturday Question

19 Comments Flawless Saturday Question

What is your best, worst, or funniest holiday memory?

Mine is from nine or ten years ago, and it’s the best and the worst!  Russ and I were newlyweds and still living in our town house. We had tickets to go to Oregon for the holidays to be with Russ’ family for a week. And then we both got the flu. We were miserable!! We canceled our trip and bunked in our apartment. I’m sure we were a little relieved, just because we both hate to fly. But I remember us both being very sad we weren’t going to see Russ’ family or open gifts by his mom’s big Christmas tree, or be surrounded by all of her decorations, or eat cinnamon rolls Christmas morning. We only got to see them once or twice a year, and since my family didn’t really celebrate Christmas, this was a pretty big let down.

So we weren’t going anywhere and we were very sick. We stayed in our apartment watching TV and eating soup. Then came Christmas. I must have been feeling a tad better because I got the makings for a meager Christmas dinner: Ham, biscuits, etc. And then came a Christmas miracle. My parents asked if they could spend Christmas with us. Really? We were surprised. Didn’t they have a Barbara Streisand movie to see? Chinese food to eat? (Typical Jewish Christmas traditions.)

About an hour later my folks showed up, we ate a hearty meal and then we sat down to watch A Christmas Story. We were laughing and having the best time. It actually started to feel like Christmas. We finished watching the movie and then sat around and talked for a while, and ate some more. Then they left, and Russ and I felt all warm inside. It was such a great, impromptu, cozy, happy, and yummy Christmas. We felt blessed and joyful. It will always be one of my favorite memories.

NOW TELL ME YOURS!!!

08 Dec 2010

Holiday Poem

18 Comments Uncategorized

Twas the last night of Hanukkah when all through our sty

Not a latke was eaten, we opted for Thai.

A fun trip to Target was had by we three

In hopes that some shopping would be done by me.

The child went crazy and ran ’round the place,
While visions of spending dough flew past my face.
And pappa in his polo and me in my jeans,
filled up the cart with a list-full of things.

The lady at checkout, she scanned and she scanned,
while pappa and Garrett walked off holding hands.
And into the cart, in what seemed like a flash,
Flew bags-full of crap for which I owed cash.

I pulled out my wallet and my Target plastic
And then noticed something strange and fantastic.
I finished my shopping, it hadn’t been hard,
And used my cool coupon for a Target gift card!

My Christmas list finally finished, I said,
“Let’s get you home G-Man, for it’s time for bed.”
We ran to the car, we like doing those things
For all of the laughter and joy that it brings!

And once we got home, he finished a movie
About DINOSAURS! Now, isn’t that groovy?
He asked for a waffle, for hunger was nigh.
I’m pretty sure this kid is not thrilled with Thai.

As Dad brushed G’s teeth and got him all ready,
I walked to the kitchen and held myself steady.
The sink was still full with some dishes you see,
The dishwasher also was feeling hungry.

So with everything clean and a song in my head,
I kissed my sweet son as he headed to bed.
Then ten minutes later arose such a fright!
We hadn’t lit candles for this, the last night!

I tiptoed so quiet into Garrett’s lair,
And asked him to join us in one final prayer.
He nodded with pleasure to get out of bed,
And listened as the last “Baruch” was said.

His eyes-how they twinkled, reflecting the light!
His cheeks were like roses, he was truly a sight!
With one last, big kiss that he had for his Pop,
We walked back to his room. In his bed he did flop.

With that it was over, no more dreidel to play,
To be honest, we hadn’t at all anyway.
The gifts were all given, the candles all lit,
Our eight crazy nights were all done. That was it!

And now with our stockings all hung up with care
and holiday songs filling the once-quiet air,
We move on to Christmas and the joy that it brings,
We’re lucky we celebrate two special things.

But let’s not forget the heart of the season,
To be grateful and humble is really the reason.
To be close with all of our family and friends,
And pass on traditions which never will end.

I couldn’t feel luckier. Me and the boys,

Know all of this nonsense is much more than toys.

It’s all about being with people you love ,

Whether with a menorah, or white beard and gloves.

And if this poem’s confusing to you,

The point is my son is half Catholic, half Jew!

Happy Last Night of Hanukkah!
Merry Christmas!

07 Dec 2010

Old Before My Time

10 Comments Personal Crap

It’s August, 2001. I’m about to be 30. We’re at my friend’s birthday party in the backyard of our apartment complex. It’s a great time. Food, booze, cake, friends. It’s a warm night in the San Fernando Valley. We’re sucking back margaritas and laughing our asses off. And then we run out of margarita makings.

Russ and I volunteer to walk to the liquor store on the corner. We’re definitely too tipsy to drive. It’s a quick walk, but it feels long because of the drunkenness. We get to the store and there are two boys dressed a little too well standing outside. They’re trying to look older than they are. They’re trying to look successful. One of them says, “Excuse me, would you guys…” And before he can finish his sentence I blurt out, “ABSOLUTELY NOT! AB-SO-LUTE-LY NOT!”  They were clearly going to ask us to purchase alcohol for them. I was almost 30, but really I was 70.

Then Russ and I walk into the store and I start laughing my ass off. I think Russ said something like, “Jesus, Lisa!” But he was laughing, too. “I’m so old”, I said. “I didn’t mean to snap at them like that, but they’re too young to drink. What’s wrong with them?  What’s wrong with me?”

We made our purchase (which we were old enough to make) and took the back exit so we didn’t have to pass them again. The thing is, I’ve always been this person. At the age of 12, when my friends had make-out parties, I was literally taking beers out of people’s hands. I didn’t mind the making out. As a matter of fact, I voraciously participated. But the drinking? I was not a fan of the drinking. I never understood why people needed to be “altered” to have fun. And yes, I realize that in the first paragraph of this post I said I was tipsy. I’m not saying I never get tipsy. I just don’t have to get tipsy. And I certainly didn’t have to before I was of legal drinking age. (Yes, I hear myself. Geez.)

I rarely did anything so fun that I could get in trouble for it. I was always very tame. And I guess I thought every one else should be too. It’s not that I’m no fun. I’m fun. Remember the girl who was voraciously making out at junior high parties? That was me! But I never went too far. No, sir! Just far enough.

So you’d think I would rebel at some point. You’d think I’d be dying to just “get out there” and “tear it up”! But I’m not. I’m just not a “living-on-the-edge” kind of girl. (Although I obviously live on the edge of using too many quotation marks.) I don’t feel like I’ve missed out or like I never had my youth. I had it. It was just sober. And fantastic. So what if I was yelling at 19-year-old boys when I was 30! They deserved it! And yes, I’ve been a grandma for most of my life. And yes, in case you’re wondering, there was that one night at the age of 16 when my friend and I raided the liquor cabinet and each did a couple of shots of kahlua or frangelico or something. Wild times.

I’m just praying to God that G has about the same level of thrill-seeking that I had. And that he enjoys it just as much.

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