Friday, June 15, 2012

Big Brothers, Little Sisters, Goat Cheese and Why My Children Talk So Much

We were sitting at the table the other night and of course there were four different conversations going on at the same time – which is difficult to do when there are only four people (and one dog) seated at the table. But given the love of gab that we all possess, somehow we managed to make enough of a cacophony to drown out what each other was saying, and making us all talk louder to compensate. Nicole kicks me under the table, it was intended as more of a nudge, but because of her sheer excitement in sharing a story with me it turned into a full blown kick. I howled and she apologized and then launched into her story. It had something to do with her friend’s brother who played a trick on her, not Nicole, but the friend. Now sometimes, at that point, when I know I’ve heard the story before or when it is a story which will add nothing to my life and in fact take up three or four minutes that I will never get back, I put on the listening mother face and check out. I’ll think about what I want to read before I go to bed, if I’m going to leave the dishes in the sink tonight and do them in the morning, or struggle to remember if I’d crossed all the must do’s off of my to do list for the day, all while nodding my head, smiling and looking like I’m enjoying every minute of her story about the cousin’s uncle’s brother’s sister’s niece. Oh, come on, you know you’ve checked out, too, I’m just the only one stupid enough to admit it in print. Someday, when my daughters are in therapy, they will look up this blog – because you know that NOTHING you write on the internet EVER goes away – and show it to their doctors as proof of my bad mothering…but until then… So, I’m busy not listening to Nicole, when she says something that catches my attention. She says, “My friend’s brother tried to convince her that goat cheese is made out of goat feces.” Well, that stopped dinner conversation. For whatever reason, I found it incredibly funny and very big brotherish to try and convince your little sister of something like that. My brother used to do things like that to me all the time, including the time he tried to convince me I was adopted. So I found it very, very funny. David didn’t. He made a nasty expression as he tried to choke down the last of the ricotta cheese from his lasagna and Natalie, who only caught half of the conversation, misheard it and asked, “What about goat faces?” Again, more laughter. Nicole went on to explain, and now I was really listening, that her friend’s brother not only told this to his little sister, but backed up the claim by putting up a fake entry on Wikipedia explaining how you make goat cheese from goat feces...not goat faces. Oh, this was getting better and better. David shouted at Nicole, telling her that goat feces was not appropriate dinner conversation. But he said the word feces again and like a group of kindergarteners, a poop word, even a sophisticated one like feces, made us start laughing all over again. I was impressed, in the 21st century a big brother could use the internet to convince and gross out his sister…note to self, reason number 907 not to trust entry postings on Wikipedia. So I asked Nicole if the posting was still up. She wasn’t sure, but said it was under, “How to make goat cheese…” save yourself the time, I looked it up and it’s not there. His parents probably made him take it down. But probably only after they had a good laugh themselves. This came after a week of weird dinners. We must all be a little punchy, tired from all the end of year activities and eager for our summer to start. A few nights earlier, on a Sunday night, we hadn’t managed to get ourselves fed before 8:00pm and as the clock drew closer to 9, decided we better get dinner in us before it was time for breakfast. Unsatisfied with what was in the cupboard and with me temporarily on cooking strike – I was ready to cook at 7pm but nobody wanted to eat then – David decided that we should go out to eat. We arrived at the restaurant and there were only two other tables taken. We ordered and for some reason, the more water the girls drank, the funnier they thought everything was. The waiter didn’t help the situation. He kept complimenting them for their manners and humor –one of which all kids should have – if you have good manners, nobody cares if you’re funny and if you have a good sense of humor and make people laugh, they’ll put up with a little bit of bad behavior…but only a little – so with all the attention, my girls reallly decided to put on a show. They were laughing loudly, guzzling back water to the point where I made a comment about them being camels and that launched them into another conversation about another friend which I really didn’t need to hear…particularly at 9:00 at night when I still haven’t eaten. But in our house, you can’t mention camels without mentioning Nicole’s best friend, who LOVES camels. So I tuned out for a bit, wondering when the waiter was going to bring my gluten free beer, if gluten free beer would be any good, and why I even bothered to order beer of any kind since I was headed for bed in less than 30 minutes. And Nicole continued talking about camels, and her friend, and next thing I know, I’ve agreed to let her and her friend go on some camel safari in Morocco for their sweet sixteen birthday! Hell, all I got for my sweet sixteen was a watch, which broke, and a warning that you could get mono from kissing boys. But my kid, she wants an international adventure tour. Serves me right for not listening. Oh, and next time, I’ll skip the gluten free beer. BTW – I asked Nicole something the other day and she looked at me blankly and said, “Sorry, I wasn’t listening to you…just blanked you out.” So clearly, I’m NOT the only one who does it.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Books and Boobs

I was reading Time Magazine the other day and found myself inspired by an article about John Irving. If you haven’t read him, you should. Books such as The World According to Garp, Cider House Rules, and A Prayer for Owen Meany are a few of his creations. He is a writer’s writer. His work always cuts into me, shocking, funny, honest and accepting of humanity often overlooked. The article about Irving was the only reason I cracked open the magazine. I almost canceled my subscription to Time a few weeks before when they featured an attractive 20something mother on the cover breastfeeding her (very tall for his age) 3 year old son with the caption, “Are You Mom Enough?” Are they kidding? The article was about Dr. Sears and his attachment parenting theories and how it encourages women to breastfeed their children long after their children can not only say the word breast, but spell it, type it into the computer, and tweet pictures of themselves sucking from it. No prude am I, but seriously folks, in my opinion, if your child can get the milk out of the refrigerator and pour a glass all by themselves, they have no business still breastfeeding. Appalled as I was about the idea of breastfeeding into the toddler and elementary years – one woman was breastfeeding her 8 year old until he recently self-weaned – I wondered why hadn’t anyone called DCF (department of children and families) on these parents and on Dr. Sears himself for advocating this. But then I read the article and you know what? Sears’ theories didn’t seem as extreme as you’d think. It seemed more like his followers were the ones taking it to the extreme and Time was using that to sell more magazines with its titillating (pun intended) cover. Actually, to my horror, all the components of attachment parenting where pretty much things my husband and I had done when raising our children – Breastfeeding , co-sleeping, babywearing, childled learning, etc. - we just hadn’t read a book about it and weren’t following “the method.” We had done attachment parenting – except for the extreme breastfeeding part. I breastfed both girls until they were about 12 months and/or until their teeth came in and they thought it was funny to chomp down hard on me while breastfeeding and watch me scream. The first time that happened with both was pretty much the last time I breastfed. Because honestly, after all the things your body goes through to have a baby, I think getting bit on the boob is the final indignity and really just shouldn’t be tolerated! So, I was a little worried to realize that what we had done was part of an actual parenting movement. I’ve never been a joiner of movements. In fact, I think I’m more an anti-joiner, taking pleasure in my steadfast refusal to participate in organized group activities – Brownies, Girl Scouts, cheerleading, college sororities, etc… David and I hadn’t tried to be part of a parenting movement. Honestly, we aren’t that organized. When our kids were babies, we were just trying to stay one step ahead of them, not be out numbered, and try to keep them alive until they were old enough to call 911 on their own. Attachment parenting, eh? Who says having your children adore you and be attached to you is a good thing? Our girls are now 9 and 11 and they can’t get enough of us. In fact, they like us too much if that’s possible. They want tell us everything, go everywhere with us, want us to play every board game, Wii game, and video game with them. We will need to stock up on dynamite to get them out of our beds. I think it’s time for a little detachment parenting. I keep waiting for the time when they will turn into surly teenagers and want nothing of us. What a relief that will be! Well, maybe not a total relief. It will probably be too quite around the house and I’ll miss the board games just a little bit. But at least we’ll get our bed back. The other day, my husband saw a baby being pushed in a stroller down the street. He cooed at it. Have you ever seen a grown man coo? It’s not pretty. That was fine, I ignored him and kept walking, not to be impressed by every pretty babyface I see. Then he turned to me and said, “Hey, maybe we should have another one…” and this isn’t the first time he’s said that recently. I screamed. I couldn’t control it. It just burst out of my mouth. “Do you know how old I am?” My mind was trying to grasp what he was saying as if he had suddenly started speaking in tongues. “Do you know how old you are?” He looked at me, slightly hurt by my response. I wasn’t sure if it was because I’d called him old or because I said I didn’t want to have another child. I continued. Sometimes you have to hurt the ones you love. “Besides, you want to know the most important reason we can’t have another baby?” He waited for me to bestow my great wisdom on him. “We can’t have another baby because if we did, we’d be outnumbered.” So much for great wisdom, but he knew I was right. We already have two children. Having a third would put us at a disadvantage. He’s a numbers guy, he knows about things like that. He agreed, said he was just having a moment. I suspect it was the leftover beef he had for dinner. So I learned about attachment parenting because I wanted to read about John Irving and his new book. I’ve always admired his work so I guess it was worth going back to Time Magazine (which I still hold with some disregard for that sensationalistic cover.) But I had to read about Irving. I love reading about writers, particularly novelists, who (in my opinion) I believe have a much more challenging job than screenwriters. Yet despite Irving’s many critical accolades, he humbly believes that every time he sits down to start on a new work, to go head-to-head with a blank piece of paper, he is a beginner, learning the craft anew. I imagine that’s what it would be like if I tried to have another baby. A beginner, starting anew with a blank piece of paper. We could do that...or we could just get another dog.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Nest of Freaks

I’m back. Not that I’d gone far. I just haven’t been able to write for a few weeks, maybe longer. It’s not because I’ve had writer’s block. It’s just the opposite…I’ve had writer’s diarrhea. I have been writing so many different projects at the same time that something had to give…and sadly it was the non-paying (but often much more therapeutic) writing of the blog.But it was a momentary pause, not a full stoppage. And even if I cannot write about the craziness of juggling marriage, work, and family, it doesn’t mean the insanity ceases. The chaos of family life didn’t stop. In fact, the waves of chaos have grown to a full blown tsunami. It got so bad at one point that I thought about getting rid of my husband and children. Not in a nefarious way…despite all the CSIs I’ve watched, I’m still not a good enough liar to get away with much more than parking in a red zone without falling apart and giving a full confession under cross examination. No, I was going to get rid of them the old fashioned way. One day – I think it was the morning that started out with the kids forgetting to feed the dog they begged for 8 months ago and complaining about taking her out, spilling chocolate on the sofa they weren’t supposed to be eating on, and not caring that they didn’t empty their lunch bags from the night before and whole sandwiches, cheese sticks and yogurt which could have been saved had to be thrown away - I was so fed up with my kids (ages 9- “but I think I’m 40” and 11 “but I act like I’m 2”) that I decided to take them back to the hospital. I rationalized, I gave birth to them at Cedars and Cedars can take them back. I was going to write out a note explaining why I was returning them, pin it to the backs of their shirts, drive by the hospital entrance and slow down just enough to push them out without them scrapping anything on the pavement. I went as far as to write the notes. They read, “Dear Hospital, I am sorry that this did not work out, but I am going to have to return these babies. I know they are no longer babies. That is the problem. They have grown to the point where they don’t listen, talk back, and constantly ask me for money…particularly at the mall. Please return them from whence they came.” I even signed my name to the note, taking no shame in my return decision. After another incident which involved throwing food at each other, (them, not me, although I probably would have felt better if I had thrown some food), I told them my plan to take them back to the hospital and read them my note. They thought it was hysterical. They weren’t mortified at all. It didn’t cause them to recognize their bad behavior and regret not only driving their mother to the edge, but actually over the edge and into the ditch. No, they laughed so hard, I was afraid they were going to pee in their pants or spit food out of their noses…something else for me to clean up! Nicole’s biggest issue with my note was my use of the word, whence. “Who uses the word ‘whence’ anymore?” she complained. Having clever kids sometimes has disadvantages. Natalie pointed out that even if I got rid of them, I’d still have daddy around. I had a plan for getting rid of him, too. I wrote another note. This one was addressed to his mother and read, “Dear Mama Jewel, I am sorry that this has not worked out, but I’m going to have to return your son. I know there was all that mention at our wedding about ‘until death do you part,’ but clearly, I can’t wait that long. You did not inform me that he does not listen, talks back, and does not know how to cook. Please accept this return…” More laughter from the girls. They pointed out that grandma wouldn’t take him back. They’re right…she’s too clever for that. She’d decline delivery, write “Return to sender” with a Sharpie on his butt, and ship him right back to me. Writing the notes was very cathartic. It also made me laugh to realize I had almost the same complaints about both the girls and David…except the girls can cook. They’ve all been on better behavior recently. Maybe the notes put the fear of God in them after all…or maybe not. I think the change has come more with me than with them. I’ve learned to better accept and not get so frustrated by my family’s dysfunctional functioning. In some ways, I think I’ve embraced it. A dear friend of ours was describing her workplace and lovingly dubbed her co-workers, “A nest of freaks.” We have now embraced that as our family description. Anytime anyone does something…usual for our family…I sigh and think, “Yup, that’s us, nest of freaks.” Laughter is good for you. So I promise, it won't be so long between posts anymore.

Friday, March 9, 2012

It Never Gets Old

I have two friends who I have known since before I could speak in full and occasionally grammatically correct sentences - one since the age of 4 and the other since age 6. We don't live near each other. We don't even live on the same coasts. But whenever we get on the phone with each other it is as if we just talked yesterday. We quickly and easily fall back into the patterns of our friendship as if they lived close enough for me to lean over the fence and borrow some sugar... or vodka.

My friend T., or Traerbear as I used to call her as a kid and occasionally still do, is a designer, but so much more. She illustrates and publishes children's books, blows glass, even choreographs fountains! Her talent amazes me. She has worked on the fountains at the Grove in Los Angeles, Bellagio in Vegas and even braved the heat of Dubai to make water dance and delight crowds. And now she makes jewelry. Here is her link:

I am so proud of my old friend as she ventures into something new. And it made me realize something about longstanding friendships - they never get old. Unlike me. Thanks to those of you who sent birthday greetings to Facebook. But instead of growing another year older, I'm ready to start counting backwards. My younger daughter asked how old I was turning this birthday. I said 21. She didn't buy it. Then I told her 105. That, she said, sounded more reasonable. So I have to finish writing now so I can go get a tummytuckfaceliftliposuctiondyejob. Some things never get old...others do. Now if only I can stop making that annoying old person grunting sound every time I get up from my chair...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Eating and Drinking

When I was a kid, in order to encourage us to finish the food on our plates at dinner, my mother would say, “There are starving kids in China who would love to eat that…” and of course, my brother and I would offer to pack up the food and send it to them. But of course, now we live in another day and time. When my own children leave food on the plate, I used to say, “There are starving kids two blocks from here who would love to eat that.” But now, because of the childhood obesity epidemic, I don’t even bother saying that anymore. If they leave food on their plate, oh well, next time I’ll know to make their portion sizes smaller.

Yesterday, at the doctor’s office, my kids’ pediatrician was talking to me about the evils of juice boxes and sodas, leaving no options other than to let my kids drink water, or water, or maybe some water with some artificial diet powder in it. Not really appealing at all.

But then I ran across this article about what parents in Brooklyn are serving their little ones to drink – Babyccinos! Specially made, decaf espresso coffee beverages that upscale parents can order (for $2.00 a cup) at their local coffee house for their kids. Really? I think I’ve lived too long. So now when a kid doesn’t drink everything in their cup, the mom is going to say, “There are thirsty children in Studio City who would love a Babyccino!” Read the article at:

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

My Dog Thinks I'm a Bitch (and I'm sure she's not the only one...)

You know how newborn puppies nuzzle their mothers when it's time to fall asleep? Well, our rescue puppy, who we think was separated from her litter soon after birth, clearly thinks of me as her mother because I cannot lie down without her immediately curling up next to me. She will then proceed to lick the air, or the sheets, or your fingers if you hold them out for her, and she will continue licking until it soothes her. Then she falls asleep. It was very cute the first 200 or so times she did it. Now, however, not so much. And really, it's not because the sheets have all been slobbered on or even because I have the vague feeling Franny is stalking me, waiting for me to lie down. It mostly bothers me because my daughters have started imitating the dog, piling on top of me whenever I get in bed. It's like a large puppy litter on a queen size mattress, pushing and shoving, vying for the space closest to the bitch. Problem is, I get to be the bitch and only one of the three crowding me is really a dog. And the dog is a lot lighter than my kids are and takes up less space. And unlike the dog, who licks to unwind, my children unwind by telling me about their day. However, by bedtime, I've already heard about their day several times over - once when I picked them up in the car from school and asked, "How was your day?" Again, when my husband got home and asked them, "How was your day?" And then at dinner when they turn to us, looking hurt and say, "Doesn't anyone want to know about my day?" At which point we have to remind them about the two times we have already heard about the girl at school whose sister's cousin's best friend's brother went to school with Victoria Justice or about the boys in Algebra who told them to visit the website, "Pen" (BTW, I was happy to hear that my very verbal daughter figured out that word play without us having to point it out, and even more pleased that she was smart enough not to visit the website on her own!)

Despite my best efforts to break up the litter and get everyone to fall asleep in their own beds, it never works for more than a night or two. With great determination, I will push them off of me and walk each of them down the hall to their bedrooms (including the doggie bed in the kitchen), kiss them good night and tell them to stay put. I left the dog in the kitchen with a biscuit by her bed. I took Natalie to her room and tucked her in, told her to stay put. Natalie hates it when I tell her to stay, and usually says, "Woof" in response. I took Nicole into her room, promising to check back on Natalie before I went to bed. Nicole climbed under the sheets and warned me that if she is uncomfortable, or if she's not feeling well, or hears something outside her window, or her bathroom isn't working, or the temperature in the house is too hot, she will come into our bed later. (I'm hoping this will stop by the time they're old enough to drive.) I reminded Nicole about the twentysomething guy we talked to who was working at the Home Depot who told us that he only recently stopped sleeping in his parents' bed. Nicole offered that up as proof that her and Natalie's "occasional" nighttime forays into our room were normal. I pointed out to her that the guy from Home Depot climbing into his parents' bed when he's old enough to vote is abnormal. That disturbing visual convinced her and she fell asleep in her own bed. I went back in to check on Natalie, and she'd dozed off with a book in hand. I headed back to my room, thrilled that I was going to get a night without the puppy pile-on. I pulled back the sheets, only to find my dog, Franny, burrowed under the covers. Oh well, two out of three isn't bad.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Bucket List

This morning, my eight year old daughter told me she needed to write a bucket list. After I got over being stunned that she even knows what a bucket list is, I asked her why she felt she needed one.

“The end of the world is coming on 12/21/21. There are a lot of things I need to get done before then,” she said, very seriously.

I am proud that I didn’t laugh. I tried hard to look pensive, considering her words for a minute, careful to answer in a way that didn’t dismiss her feelings or statement. “Yes, I can see where you’d have a lot to do if the world was ending then.” Boy, that Mayan calendar really has her concerned. “Are you afraid?” I asked.

“No, just worried that I won’t get everything done in time,” she said.

“Like what?” I asked, really curious about the contents of her bucket list.

Without missing a beat, Natalie rattled off the items that she needed to get done before the world ends at the end of this year. She’d clearly given this some thought:

Go to Stanford. (I told her she wasn’t old enough to go to college yet. She amended her statement and said, “Go to a summer program at Stanford.”)

Get married. (Again, I reminded her of that age thing…she shot back, “Fine, a crush…”)

See Paris, tour China, and eat pizza in Italy. (I told her those were all great, but that I wasn’t sure we’d have time to fit all that in over summer vacation.)

Go on a shopping spree. (I cringed a little at the materialism, but then figured, hey, shouldn’t she have one visit to the mall where the sky’s the limit? I mean, if the end of the world is coming, why not go out looking one’s very best ? I did remind her that if for some reason, the Mayan’s prediction didn’t come true, those bills would have to be paid. She said she’d worry about that later.)

Adopt 3 more dogs and 6 children. (I started to tell her that she was too young to adopt children and that we don’t have space for more than one dog, but then I realized I was being a downer and simply told her it was admirable to want to help other people and animals.)

After she’d completed her list, I mentioned that in 2000 everyone worried that chaos would ensue when the clocks flipped over on New Year’s Eve because (as they warned) the computers and other tech devices were not prepared to change from the 1900s to the 2000s – the infamous Y2K. I told her how the media and everyone else talked about the awful things that would happen – all computer data being lost – bank accounts, investments, anything important that was kept on computer; the financial, transportation, and healthcare systems coming to a stop because of their reliance on computers; and prison doors popping open and allowing criminals to roam free because the prisons had computerized security systems. What they pretty much described was the end of the world as we knew it. There was great consternation in some circles. In others, we just backed up our computers and printed out vital documents in case the system went down temporarily. Well, Y2K was a big nothing, I told her. Not a thing bad happened. She considered my story, then said with more confidence than an 8 year old should have, “I want to get these things done…just in case.”

So Natalie is writing her bucket list and planning for our end of the world party on 12/21/12. She asked if we knew any Mayans to invite to the party. I told her I’d work on it.

See you on 12/22/12.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Birthdays and Other Things in Common with Mass Murderers

One of the things I love about kids is that you can fall into conversations with them that you would never have with adults. There are some things in life that kids just haven't learned about yet…although that never stops them from talking about it. I had one of those conversations yesterday.


Natalie - 8
Nicole - 11
Dawn - young enough to have seen Star Trek in reruns, old enough to know not to list her age


In auto line for after school pick up


Dawn's car, aka momuv, aka place where kids leave their 1/2 eaten sandwiches and empty gum wrappers in the cup holders.

Dawn surfs her phone, leaving the car on (and draining her battery) so that Natalie can wear headphones and entertain herself by singing along with some inane pop tune on Radio Disney.

Nicole hops into the car, tosses her backpack into the seat.

Nicole: Hiya!

Dawn: How was school, hon?

Nicole: Really exciting…

Natalie: (talking off her headphones, interrupting) …exciting…what?

Nicole: Today in class we learned that Max, Becca, Dee Dee, and Hitler all have the same birthday.

Natalie: Who names their kid Hitler?

Dawn bursts out laughing, uncontrollably, realizes that Natalie doesn't know who that is. Guess third grade hasn't covered world history yet.

Nicole: Hitler isn't in our class.

Natalie: Then why were you celebrating his birthday?

Nicole: We weren't!

Dawn, now laughing too hard to intervene, tries to calm herself, can’t. The conversation continues to veer off course.

Nicole: We wouldn't celebrate his birthday…

Natalie: But you said Max, Dee Dee, Becca, and Hitler all have the same birthday…did they bring cupcakes?

Having just calmed herself, the cupcake comment sends Dawn back into another wave of laughter. Dawn tries to explain between laughs.

Dawn: Hitler is not in their class, Natalie…Nicole, she doesn't understand…

Nicole: Oh God, no, Natalie, he's bad.

Natalie: Whose class is he in?

Dawn laughs harder, tears in her eyes, unable to catch her breath.

Nicole: Natalie! He's not a kid…he's a bad guy in history…They were just all born on the same day.

Dawn: You were studying history today?

Nicole: Yeah, and Max pointed out that they all had the same birthday.

Natalie: (Disappointed) So there weren't any cupcakes?

Dawn starts laughing again.

Natalie: (Sincerely upset) Why are you laughing, Mommy?

Dawn: (Between laughs) I'm sorry. It's not funny. He was a bad guy who hurt many people.

Natalie puts her headphones back on in a huff, suspects she's being lied to.

Natalie: I didn't think anyone would name their kid Hitler.

Nicole: Does anyone want to hear about my day?

Dawn starts another laughing jag as they drive off.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Christmas Fail

Many things didn’t get done this Christmas. No cards were sent, baked goods were half baked and most of them were eaten before we could send them off in pretty little gift bags. Some gifts barely made it out the door, others still sit in the back seat of my car hoping to make it to their recipient sometime before they are too old to wear/use/eat it. I did not send thank you notes for the lovely and thoughtful gifts we received. I did not set a beautiful table on Christmas Day, or New Year’s Day for that matter. Although I am the queen of eating off paper plates, I make it a habit to insist that on those two days of the year (at the very least), I rise above paper and plastic, and serve my family a meal off of something that doesn’t have to be recycled…But not this year. It was a major Christmas fail.

David and I both worked through the holidays. David worked long hours on the days leading up to Christmas, New Year’s Eve day and night, and all day on New Year’s. That blasted a hole in the seasonal holiday traditions we’d developed over the years. Hard to go caroling or drive out to see the lights at Candy Cane Lane when daddy doesn’t get home until 2am. I worked on a production the week leading up to Christmas, and all day on Christmas Eve. I loved the experience, it was amazing and I’d do it again in a heartbeat if they ask me, but that, in addition to fighting off a cold (a war I didn’t win), and a general sense of being overwhelmed by the holidays, meant a few things had to give. And give, they did.

I managed to feed the family over the holidays, but only after spending enough to boost the economy of the entire Los Angeles restaurant industry. How many times do you think you can go to McDonald’s, Starbucks, Jamba Juice, El Torito, or Big Mama’s Pizza in one week? You don’t want to know.

I hate shopping, hate malls even more. I usually plan out and do all of my holiday shopping online so I can limit the number of times I have to step foot in a mall and fight with some old lady (who I’d normally be really respectful to) because she’s about to steal my parking space and I’m one step away from ripping off her front fender and dragging her out of the car by her blue hair. But I didn’t plan ahead and order in time for online delivery, so I was forced to go to the mall. I dragged myself from store to store, mumbling under my breath and complaining as I bumped shoulders with other shoppers. My daughters, who (of course) LOVE going to the mall, were delighted. I rarely take them during the rest of the year, ranting that the mall is really just a large shrine to greed and over consumption which I only succumb to this time of year. Nicole looked at me sadly and complained, “It’s really not fair that we have a mother who doesn’t like to shop.”

Every day leading up to Christmas I’d open the mailbox I’d see another beautiful card from friends and neighbors near and far. I’d imagine the comments from people who didn’t see our picture card in their box and feel worse thinking about all those friends of my parents who would say something about not receiving any cards this year, or worse, those people who’d cross our name off their mailing list because they didn’t get a Christmas card from us this year – “Ah, one less card to send,” they’d say.

Yesterday, I’d finally gotten rid of my guilt over not sending out greeting cards for the first time in 13 years of marriage, or over the fact that for all the major holidays in December we ate in front of the t.v. with paper plates on our laps deciding what we’d watch on t.v. The holidays are over and it’s time to face the New Year.

At dinner last night, we discussed the New Year. My eight year old daughter, Natalie, reminded us all that the Mayans predicted that 2012 would be the end of the world. I told her that I generally don't worry about predictions made by people who are now extinct. (If they were so good at predictions, why didn’t they see that coming?) My husband jokingly suggested he’d try to start them up again, see if the Mayans could get a deal like the Native Americans and get their own casinos. Fiscally, not a bad idea, but practically, pretty offensive and rather implausible. Nicole, my eleven year old, was concerned about the exact date on which the world was supposed to end (according to the now distinct Mayans). We couldn’t remember if it was December 12th, which would be 12/12/12 (which would be kind of cool), or if it was December 21st, which would make sense because it is the solstice. After a few minutes of trying to determine which would be the best date for the end the world, Natalie, who has been worried about this Mayan prediction for almost a year now, reminded me that we’d have to serve quesadillas to commemorate it. “They always serve quesadillas when the world’s about to end,” she said…where does she get these ideas??? Then we spent another few minutes trying to decide which date would be a better day to have an end of the world party, 12/12 or 12/21. Either way, you know the best part about throwing an end of the world party? You don’t have to clean up afterwards. Happy New Year!