Sunday, November 30, 2008

Neil is 6!

Neil's birthday party was today. It was a spectacular spectacle of children with light sabers chasing and whacking each other -- a great success!

Dear Neil,

You rock! You are 6 years old and so much fun. You sing, dance and air guitar your way through life.  Whatever comes your way, you have to touch it, lick it, roll in it... You have to experience everything as fully as you can. It's going to be a long, rich life for you my son.

The night before you turned 6, you reminded me that 6-year-old boys no longer have ham (think fat baby thighs. that's where the ham hides.). So just before you went to sleep, I had to sneak upstairs for a ham attack. You giggled and giggled and giggled. I hope I remember the sound of your laughter for ever. It's a sound that fills your heart.

You make faces like your Daddy. You stand like him too. When I look at Daddy's childhood photos, it's your face I see. Grandma Jane must catch her breath when she sees photos of you. I'm sure it's like looking at your Dad.

You are a walking cliche machine ("Now, that's the way I like it!" "Oh, yeah, baby!" "Bring it on!"). 

You will play basketball on a real team for the first time in January. You are very excited. I'm not sure if you are excited about basketball or excited about being like Jack. Probably a bit of both.

You are not excited about reading or about tying your shoes. Both things I think you should be excited about. But you are excited about Star Wars: The Clone Wars. And you are excited about using the computer and about playing baseball with Jack. You love to cook. You and Jack watch Iron Chef America and can name all the Iron Chefs. We keep toying with the idea that we will have our own Iron Chef competition. Mom loves it that you and Jack WANT Mom on your team. It may be the only competition where Mom is picked first.

We got your first report card a couple weeks ago. You are a very good student. When your teacher, Mrs. Evans, told you to write very neatly because it was for your report card, your printing was better than Daddy's! You work hard at school and are kind to others. I've seen you and I'm very proud.

You are a great snuggler, Neil. You still want to curl up on the couch under a blanket (the red fleece one). And even if you don't have ham anymore, you do have slightly chubby cheeks and just a touch of the softness of a little guy still.

You don't like it when you get embarrassed. You still hide behind Mom. You don't like it when you don't know something. You might appear easy going, but I suspect there's quite a perfectionist in there.

Your legs are long and scarred with bumps, bruises and marks from all your adventures. The perfect way to be a 6-year-old boy!


*That's another thing about you Neil. You are stubborn and social conventions do not concern you. You don't spell MOM that way. You write it OMO and then you say, "That's the way I do it." I like your confidence kid.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

So close

So close! I've almost blogged every day for a month. And I almost missed it today... but here I am with little to say.

Except that we watched Spike TV (whatever channel number that is, but a Pierce Brosnan Bond movie was on it) and can you guess the demographic from the ads? World of Warcraft and male enhancement pills. Literally, those were the only ads, over and over and over.

And did you know there is a male enhancement soda? You can get two free when you sign up for one of the pills.

Good night...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Post mortem

So we're in recovery mode from Thanksgiving. The dinner itself turned out well considering that my mother and father managed to squash two major childhood beliefs in the first 15 minutes we were there.

Sweet Neil was showing Marna and Pa the space in his mouth where his tooth used to be. His first tooth and first experience with the tooth fairy -- he was quite excited.

That's when my mom launched into a story about my youngest brother (he's almost 14 years younger than I am)...

"Remember when you kids didn't think I would remember to put money under Brian's pillow when he lost his first tooth?"

I stared at her in stunned silence. My boys looked at me confused. I had to take action.

"You mean when you FORGOT that the tooth fairy would be coming and you thought you should do it?!" I said as I tried to casually kick her back into the present.

"What? No. Remember when you guys put money under Brian's pillow...."

"Mom. You MEAN when you were ADDING to what the tooth fairy brings," I said kicking her harder.

She stared at me. "OH. OH."

There's a moment of silence. I briefly think we are in the clear.

And then she says, "You kids never believed in the tooth fairy or Santa. Why should you?"

That's when my dad starts in on Santa. "There was no Santa when I was a kid. You got a flannel shirt and they told you to like it!"

Sweet Mercy. Are you kidding me?! 

One of the dogs ran outside and I sent the kids after him. "Stay out there."

Now, I didn't believe in the tooth fairy or in Santa. That was my parents' choice. It was not a tradition they were interested in or had time for, I suppose. In fact, my mother is quite proud of how I would tell all the neighbor kids how stupid they were for believing and how I would "set them straight." I'm sure I was very popular with kids and parents.

But my husband believed, and it was important to him that our children believe or at least have the chance to believe in magic and mystery and childhood things.

I have to say that one of my lifetime favorite moments was when Jack was 2 and came down the stairs on Christmas morning. He didn't see the tree or the mounds of gifts for him around it. All he saw was an empty plate and glass where the night before he had left cookies and milk for Santa. Jack couldn't contain himself. The joy was contagious. Santa had been there! It didn't matter what he had brought. It mattered that by magic he had come.

I tried gently to remind my mother and father that our children believe in Santa and the tooth fairy and that we expect them not to dispel these myths. Though it was a bit like closing the barn door after the horse was already loose.

"Why should they believe in Santa?!" my mother starts in again. "You kids never believed. Why should they?"

I can see my husband about to lose it. "Why shouldn't they?!" he asks my mother.

I think I'm thankful that my dad interrupts and starts in on "kids these days." He covers spoiled kids, loser kids, too many self-esteem movements and the drugs kids are on these days...

Forty-five minutes later my dad is still going, but we are coming full circle. The kids are outside playing. My parents have stopped talking about Santa and the tooth fairy. And I feel like I've been run over by a bus.

The kids haven't asked about the tooth fairy or Santa. We haven't brought it up. But I'm sure it's coming.

I don't have any idea what to do when it does...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey Day Part II

I am not in a turkey-induced coma, but I am enjoying some well-deserved wine.
And I deserve it because Thanksgiving dinner STARTED with my mother telling my children that there is no tooth fairy and there is no Santa... It only got better from there...

Happy Thanksgiving

It's turkey day. The main action is happening at my parents' house. I'm making focaccia to add to the feast. The house smells soooo good. Warm and bready.

I'll be back later. This is just in case I fall into a turkey-induced coma and never return... It could happen.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ladies room hazards

My friend Julie would really like Michelle Pfeiffer to know that it was not her pee on the toilet seat at Nordstrom's last night.

Two friends and I ended up at The Grove last night. We dashed into Nordstrom's for a little potty break (and a serious look at purses that are worth more than the rent on a large condo in Valencia).

We waited in line and poor Julie got the stall formerly occupied by a messy person so she did what any of us would do when you got to go and the bathroom has a long line. She performed a carefully balanced squat and took care of business.

But as she was leaving who should need to go but Michelle Pfeiffer.

"Great. Now Michelle Pfeiffer thinks I pee on the seat..."

It was just that kind of night people.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I got to get out more

AHHHHH. Almost didn't make it! But here I am... It's been an interesting evening. I'm planning a post on how this stay-at-home mom needs to get out more. It's not a good sign when you have no idea where your make up is; if you have black flats anywhere; and your kids have no idea what nylons are... stay tuned.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fun with kids

Neil is having trouble blending sounds as he tries to read. He's been stuck here for quite some time. I can't tell if he won't slow down and make time to sound out a word, or if it truly is a stumbling block.

The kid can memorize words like you wouldn't believe. He can find The Backyardigans on the TiVo list. He can read the grocery list (but only the items he likes to eat). He can pick words out of something I'm reading.

But phonics? Not quite clicking.

So we've been playing word games. Tonight we were taking a letter combo and changing the first letter to make a new word (you know, add a c to "up" and it becomes cup).

We started with "an": can, fan, pan, man, tan, etc.

Then we moved on to "at": sat, bat, rat, cat, etc.

Jack suggested "am." So we started with: Sam, Pam, ram ...

"Dam!" Neil yelled out and then he quickly covered his mouth.

"Neil said a bad word!" yells his big brother. It's anarchy.

"It's not a bad word," explains Dad. "Think of a dam that beavers build."

"Yeah," acknowledges Jack. "Not like 'Damn kids.' "  

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Wedding bells

Just got back from a young friend's wedding shower. It was a joyous, fun event. The bride was cute and delighted by every gift. Every pan, serving dish, place setting was graciously welcomed. Even a butter dish deserved great attention. It was sweet and reminded me how it felt to be starting out, how it felt to be setting up a home, a marriage and a future family.

Reminded me how a set of bowls or dishes could make you feel like you were really starting out together building something.

There are many things in our home that we received as shower and wedding gifts. I cook almost daily in a pan that my dad's friend gave us. I frequently use the Pyrex bowls that a co-worker gave us. The flatware in the drawer is from another of my dad's friends. The dish I make cheeseburger pie in for my husband is from our friend Mary G. The candlesticks, the fancy serving platters, the quilt we sleep under (thank you Grandma Pederson) were all gifts.

There are lots more. As I reach for one to use in our daily life it still brings a little thought of the person who was generous enough to give it to us, to help us make a home, a marriage and a family. Almost 14 years later, thank you still.

I remember when we were young and EVERYONE was getting married. Or at least it seemed that way. 

One year, Dean and I attended 9 weddings. I think we were in three wedding parties. That's a lot of bridesmaid dresses, shower gifts, tux rentals, wedding gifts and various functions to attend. We were on the wedding social circuit.

Now that we are old and cranky, not so many weddings. Now we are just grateful when people stay married. Grateful that we are still married.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Those little LEGO figures that come with some LEGO sets...

You know the ones the dogs keep chewing up....

Turns out they can be expensive to replace ....

Lombardi Ranch

I know it is well past Halloween, but this is one of my favorites. We've been going to Lombardi Ranch since 1979. My poor brother Brian is now 28, almost 29, and we drag him most every year. It's tradition.

I have pictures like this of Brian and now of my kids.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Tribute

A friend of mine's aunt died today and I'm honored to say I cried.

Aunt Trudy was an amazing woman. I'm glad to have known her. Many years in the diplomatic services and a strong spirit gave Aunt Trudy envy-inducing stories. She told stories of places and times read about but not seen by most of my generation (or the previous one).

I had the pleasure of meeting Aunt Trudy for the first time before my friend's wedding. I was chastised for showing up at the motel without any wine. I was just supposed to pick Aunt Trudy and Aunt Rose up. I thought I was picking up elderly aunts.

Well, they may have been elderly (only very, very slightly and I imagine Aunt Trudy was only very slightly elderly until she died), but they had spirit. A lot of spirit. I was young (26 or 27) but not as young as Aunt Trudy.

I was not long back from Prague and missing it terribly when I met her. Aunt Trudy had been in Prague during the famous Prague Spring of 1968. She would describe places, buildings and even scaffolding that she remembered. I had been there in 1991 and nothing had changed. I loved her instantly for the way she described a place that I cherish.

She had an appreciation for the world and its offerings that comes from being well-travelled.

I remember being in her hotel room after the wedding. We were celebrating and celebrating. Taking our time and truly honoring the wedding of Kristie and Tim. Aunt Trudy regaled us with stories of contraband liquor in Kuwaiti hotels, inappropriate escapades for women of her generation, and adventures in exotic locales. 

Aunt Trudy was the kind of woman to inspire you to be more than you are currently being. She had spirit, intelligence and a strong will. She lived life to the fullest. Something I think some of us forget to do.

I am told that one of her nieces brought champagne to the care home in England where Aunt Trudy died. She and the staff toasted the woman.

An appropriate tribute -- one I plan on participating in. There's a good bottle of champagne on the shelf and I think it's been waiting for tonight. Here's to you Aunt Trudy...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

On guard

War has been declared at our house. We will not go down without a loud and boisterous fight. I'm not exactly sure who we are fighting, but there's been some serious action today.

I have no dining chairs. Most of the blankets in the house are being used. There are no available pillows for anyone. I had to "borrow" this computer chair to type this. But it doesn't matter because...

We have a kick-ass fort!

And Neil is standing guard.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I'm a virtual superstar!

We have a Wii and the boys love playing baseball. It's become a family bonding experience. Sure, we all play together. I've been known to bowl a mean game.

But I'm really talking about our avatars. There's Mom and Dad. There's the grandparents (Marna and Pa). There's the uncles. There's the fake hideous relative named George.

And we all end up on a baseball team whether we are really playing or not. It's computer-generated quality time.

My dad can't play baseball in real life (he uses a walker), but his avatar's been known to hit a home run on Wii baseball. 

I'll hear the shouts: "Go Pa! Go Pa!" It's as if Pa had really saved the game. They cheer and applaud him as if he were in the house.

Same goes for Marna (my mom):

"Marna's up!" 

"She's good!"

I've been scarred by the years of parks league softball my dad made me play, and a truly bad season of intramural softball in college (there was a lot of beer, so truly it wasn't that bad). I'm not a big baseball fan.

But on the Wii, my boys actually want me on their team. It's changing my whole attitude toward sports (just the attitude, not actually participating in them)... I could be a superstar!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Not quite a 100 bucks

I heard this strange noise in the middle of the night. I went to investigate.

It was a little boy digging through his bed trying to find the tooth fairy pillow. (It had fallen between the bed and the wall.)

He fished out the treasure the Tooth Fairy had left.

"Five dollars!" ...

"and GOLD!!" (a gold dollar coin)

He jumped up to get his wallet from his sock drawer (that's where all tycoons keep their money, I believe).

"Five bucks!"

He crawled back under the covers and was fast asleep, dreaming no doubt about how far those 5 bucks would go...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Neil's first tooth

You thought I wasn't going to make it today, didn't you?

Neil lost his first tooth this morning! He was sitting on the stairs right after he woke up. It's his sunny little spot where he can see downstairs, but he can take his time waking up before he joins us. 

Out fell his tooth, right into his hand.

He is very excited. He thinks the Tooth Fairy might leave 100 bucks.

If you're 5, you should dream big.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The whole tooth

Neil's about to lose his first tooth. It's wiggling and wiggling. He's working it, but not yet. Soon though.

This afternoon he had a serious question for his daddy.

"Does the tooth fairy come every day?"

"He only comes when you lose a tooth."

"Yeah, but can I lose it today? or another day? Will the tooth fairy come on Mondays?"

"The tooth fairy will come any day you lose a tooth and put it under your pillow."

"But Dad," butted in big brother Jack, "Remember that time the tooth fairy didn't come? You said it was his day off."

Oh yeah, that time.

"Union rules have changed since then."

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Dean was rescued by a family friend who was able to get him home. I am forever grateful.

We are hunkering down with supplies, movies and each other. Life is good.


So I woke up this morning when a friend called about this. They had been evacuated because of the fire, and she was wondering about Dean in the hospital. I began to aggressively wonder too. 

Turns out I can't get to Dean. The freeways and roads between him and me are closed. I don't like it. Feels like the '94 earthquake when I was in the West Valley and he was in Santa Clarita. It felt like forever without him.

Right now he's still in a hospital bed. He's heard rumors that some patients have been evacuated. 

I had planned a sweet, family post today about how we managed to pull of movie night in a hospital room with Daddy. We did. We watched "The Wizard of Oz" on hospital TV, sipped tomato soup brought from home, fresh bread and little boys taking turns snuggled into the non-surgery side of their dad. It was good.

And now today ... This could be an adventure-filled day.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Just in case I don't make it back later today. Here's my blog post and it is decidedly NOT stellar!

Dean is good. He is very tired, but looks good and will come Saturday. He's in room 315 and you can call or visit.

Thank you to everyone who has (and continues to) prayed for us, helped us, picked up kids or just called to make me feel better. Love to you all.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Surgery day

Today is surgery day (11 a.m.). Pray for Dean (and his crazed wife).  
Neil is hoping for Dad gets a hole in his chest like Iron Man. Mom is not so much hoping for that...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It's always the roomie

One of Dean's hospital roomies is an elderly gentleman who has been having very loud conversations with Arnold Schwarzenegger and singing along to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

"What I've got you've got to get it put it in you.
What I've got you've got to get it put it in you.
What I've got you've got to get it put it in you.

"Give it away. Give it away. Give it away now..."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Overheard in the ER

Nurse: "So you are driving yourself? Is that why we aren't giving you pain medication?"

Patient in bed next to Dean: "I'm a truck driver and I'm supposed to work tonight."

Nurse: "OK."

Patient: "But if you want to dope me up, I don't really care. It's cool."

ER without George Clooney

We spent the day in the ER today. Dean is still there. I came home to feed the dogs, let them run a bit and catch up on e-mails (do you see why I need an iphone?!).

Looks like Dean does not have severe acid reflux/heartburn. Looks like he has been having gallbladder attacks for the last year and a half...

He's being admitted to the hospital (He's enjoying the morphine) and eventually will have surgery (I think further down the road).

Take care.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Let the fun begin

November is an odd month in the school calendar. The kids don't have a full week of school all month and we won't be on a regular schedule until next year because here comes parent conferences, Thanksgiving, Christmas, school programs and parties, New Year's and suddenly it's the middle of January and please, Dear God, let the kids return to school on a regular basis with regular hours!

Today the kids are off for Veteran's Day, and they are off tomorrow too. There's been a sleepover, video games since 6 a.m., mounds and mounds of sourdough toast, and a heated debate over Legos. I'm planning on tossing them outside to play for awhile -- a long while. 

I think it's the healthiest thing to do.

Especially since I just threatened to duct-tape Jack's mouth shut if he yells at his brother one more time over a video game...

Sunday, November 09, 2008

History lessons required

Dean took the boys to a Civil War re-enactment yesterday. Our boys are still young so their knowledge of the Civil War is limited. We didn't realize how limited until yesterday.

Neil told me he saw our president speak. George W. doesn't seem like the Civil War kind of guy, but who knows...

"Yeah, I saw President George Clooney."

Ahh. After a moment of inner speculation on the awesomeness of a George Clooney presidency, I let Neil know that George Clooney isn't the president and the person he actually saw was an actor playing our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. I tried to throw something in there about the Gettysburg Address (which the actor had recited), but Neil was too busy with his 19th century gun toy.

Jack didn't like the cannons, but he did like the Civil War military hat he brought home (Northern issue of course). 

Neil wanted to tell me about the battle he saw. 

"The Civil War was a tie, Mom." 

Not exactly, my son...

"The Blue Team and the Gray Team shot at each other. Then one guy from the Gray Team tried to run away and his own Gray guy shot him!"

They aren't teams, honey. They are different sides in a war -- The North vs. the South. It's the Southern states and the Northern states of the United States...

"Yeah, the Blue team won the first battle, but the second one was a tie..."

It's not a football game. It's a war. What you saw was a re-enactment of certain battles, but the war was a long time ago... 

Neil was just staring at me blankly. And that's when I broke down and used Pokemon as an analogy (each battle has several fights... sort of like war. You can win a battle but still lose the war)... I am ashamed.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Girls these days

I stole a teen magazine from an actual teen girl. It's her own fault. She left it out on the kitchen table and her mom made the mistake of inviting me in for coffee.

It's been awhile since I read a teen girl magazine, and I might be old and fuddy duddy (I can't be that fuddy duddy, I just lifted a mag from my friend's kid)...

But they don't make teen mags like they used to... Or I wasn't reading the right ones.

The first thing that caught my eye was the article titled "What's up down there?" "Are you normal? Vanquish those vajajay worries right here."

I'm not sure Cosmo is that straight forward, but me and my vajajay feel much better after reading the advice.

Like any magazine targeted at the fairer sex, there are a lot, A LOT, of ads for tampons, pads, liners, etc. It's clearly a marketing definer.

My favorite is the tough girl soccer player kicking a red-wrapped present with the label "Mother Nature's Monthly Gift" under the headline "BRING IT ON." Ah, youth. Have a couple of kids and you start yelling bring it on to menopause...

Friday, November 07, 2008

Don't believe the kids

I have several friends who are substitute teachers and it's always good to hear what kids have to say. I found this one funny:

The students were asked to draw their eco-system. Most were drawing their homes.

One little girl had a picture of her house with several bedrooms. My teacher-friend commented how nice her drawing was and the little girl explained: "This is Daddy's bedroom and this is Mommy's bedroom."

My teacher-friend kept any comment to herself and just smiled at the little girl.

But the little girl had more to say, "They never sleep together. Oh, except on their anniversary."

Can you imagine what your kids' teachers know about you?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

New hope

On Tuesday night we kept the kids up to watch Obama and McCain -- both beautiful and graceful speeches in victory and defeat. We tried to convey how you can disagree with people and still not believe them evil. How in this country, the campaign might be a fierce fight but when it is all done we hope and try to reconcile in the end. We try to be one America.

We tried to convey the moment -- how incredible it was to see an African-American elected president for the first time in our country's history. We tried to convey that it was more than that. That we felt that hope had won (I can't believe I'm quoting Oprah. Someone send help.). We talked about how if we lived in or near Chicago we would have bundled up the kids and dragged them out there.

But our history was on the couch -- Mom's and Dad's hands meeting as we wrapped our arms around two little boys and prayed that it would be different.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Kids and politics don't mix

I've got a democracy hangover. 

So far this morning I've explained (to Jack) the Electoral College, the popular vote, the Religious Right, abortion and the moment of conception... Amazingly enough that last one did not evolve into the full-blown sex talk. I didn't say I was explaining any of this well. I need to get a cup of coffee in me before we go on.

Thank God the kid went to school.


I miss the newsroom. On big nights (elections, Oscars, crimes, etc.) you felt like you were part of something bigger. Disseminating information is a powerful thing, an amazing process. It's why I love newsrooms.

It's also a great cover for my obsessive compulsive need to watch CNN for hours, read every wire story I could find and then search for more to read. The internet does a decent job bringing that into the home, but it's missing the journalists hanging around throwing their two cents into the fray.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day

Life without idealism is empty indeed. We must have hope or starve to death. --Pearl Buck

This is it. It's Election Day. It's really still Monday night creeping toward dawn. I'm avoiding going to sleep. When I wake up will it finally be Election Day? Will it be historic? Will it be unbelievable?

Monday, November 03, 2008

Neil's list

Neil is writing his list for his birthday party. It's fun to watch. Very few social conventions. No need to invite people he "has to".

He's debating if Mom and Dad get to go ... 

Most of the people on his list are longtime buddies. He's thinking about this year's classmates but he's not sure if he can invite one boy from the red group without inviting them all. Apparently the red group in kindergarten is intimidating.

I go through the list of all the boys in his class (we aren't even pretending that girls are going to be at this Star Wars party). When I get to one boy, Neil comments, "He has a problem with biting and spitting."

He doesn't make the list, but Neil is going to not mention the party to him. "I really don't want him to bite me."

So maybe there are social conventions in kindergarten.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

I'm dry already

We welcomed the time change with great joy in our house. Any time we get an extra hour of sleep it feels like a miracle.

It's been a rough week at Chez Yerem: Dean has been very sick (but doing well today, thank you); the activities have been many; and sleep has been little.

We just played hooky from church and the Harvest Festival isn't till this afternoon. It's a limited amount, but it's free time. Yahoo!

And you probably don't care about any of that, but I'm trying to blog every day. Why hasn't Neil said something cute yet today? That's always good for a post... 

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Halloween Hangover

Happy Belated Halloween! We had great fun. Exhausting great fun.

Why do I feel like I've been run over? I remember holidays before kids. They were fun, easy, soooo much slower paced (though I didn't know it at the time. Who knew just getting only yourself ready to go to a place of your own choosing was such a luxury?).

Two class parties, creating an auction basket for the Harvest Festival on Sunday, homemade Halloween cookies and a trick-or-treat gathering at our house has me almost in a coma today!