Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Why I am a Bad Traveler, Reason 244.

Invariably, on the night before any trip, I announce to anyone who will listen that maybe it’s best if we don’t go. Would it not be better to stay at home and wear pajamas and fight about whose turn it is to sweep under the table?

Other than missing the cat, the real reason I hate to leave is because I hate to pack… mostly because I am an awful packer. I tend to under-pack and by under-pack I mean forget underwear. I also tend to assume I’m going to want to wear two outfits for about six days straight.

My under-packing does not extend to toiletries. Three quarters of my bag is taken up by bottles which will inevitably leak all over the two outfits that I have brought for six days.

I also do not believe in practical luggage. I like a pretty little bag. Sometimes I like a pretty little bag that doesn’t properly close. I also like a pretty little bag without wheels that I am not able to carry on my own.

I am currently deciding which attractive yet impractical bag to bring with me. Maybe I will bring two.


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Bubble, Bubble…

I’m feeling pretty good today. I’m feeling good because I believe this is the first day in two weeks that someone in this house has NOT had some form of the stomach flu. 

This flu was especially nasty because a) it coincided with Thanksgiving traffic and we suffered through a five hour car trip, much of it spent while holding a bag of a child’s warm vomit and b) because when we returned home from said trip, we found a puddle of sewage bubbling up in the basement. Every time somebody flushed a toilet (which happens quite often when the stomach flu pays a visit), the pipe in the basement would spew sewage. 

I immediately got on the phone and called plumbers. Plumbers can be so very dramatic that I half expect them to burst into iambic pentameter. I have a particularly bad memory of a plumber visiting our very first house in LA and taking a video of the scope he did of the plumbing underneath our backyard. The video was dark, creepy, and emotionally narrated. It soon became known as the “Blair Witch Plumbing Project.” It was LA, so perhaps an out of work actor was doing our plumbing and filmed the video, but I soon learned that all plumbers have a flair for the dramatic.

It’s never a good sign when you call a plumber, describe your problem, and hear him say, “Uh-oh” or “Oh, that’s pretty bad.” It’s an even worse sign when the plumber you have called says, “I think this job is too big for me, you need to call a plumber with BIGGER equipment.” (Read: NO thanks, lady. I’d like to take lots of your money. Really, I would. But your house sounds like Chernobyl.)

The problem sounded enormous. Plumbers gasped and sighed at my descriptions. Nobody was interested in coming to help. I was quite sure that whoever did come to help would leave our house with all of our money in hand. 

I was all but ready to tell the kids that they were getting plumbing for Channukah.

The plumber who finally agreed to come (and who frankly sounded excited by the challenge) arrived first thing Monday morning. I think plumbing is a great job — not just because of the bucks involved, but because people are REALLY happy to see you. After twelve hours of no plumbing and with several family members on the tail end of the tummy bug, our house was beginning to resemble a large, furnished port-o-potty. I almost leapt into the arms of the unsuspecting plumber at our front door. I think I may have scared him a bit with my exuberance. He beat a hasty retreat to the basement to fix the problem. 

A couple of hours later, he emerged victorious. Crisis averted. The problem was not a bad as it sounded. At least for now. We live in an old house. Even with updated plumbing, problems arise. 

Here is a picture of the bag-o-vomit. 

And here is a picture of a toilet in our house. I could have taken pictures of the basement spewage, but even I have my limits. 


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Thanksgiving. All Eight Nights.

Fiona came home from preschool and explained to all of us that Hanukkah was just like Thanksgiving, because both were holidays about freedom of religion, or more specifically, about freedom from religious persecution. Efram has been teaching me all about colonial history, something I know virtually nothing about (It seems I had been confusing Jamestown with Jonestown because I couldn’t figure out why Efram was learning about a suicidal cult.) Those eight nights of oil may have been something to behold, but from what I learned this week, it’s a bloody miracle those pilgrims survived at all.

But this year’s overlap has really given me pause to try and be a little more thankful. It’s not always easy, what with the full cross-country-move-meltdown the kids are subjecting me to. (I don’t know how else to explain the fact the at any given moment, at least one of them is extremely pissed off at me. I know when Sidney is mad at me, because she calls me “Mrs. Lady.”)

I’m thankful for many things, but mostly that M doesn’t mind that sometimes I wake him up in the middle of the night to yell at him about the remote.

I’m also thankful that I no longer smell like a latke, thanks to a three hour shower that was something out of Silkwood.


Even though I spent quite a few years wishing we could trade lives, I am now thankful that I am not Nigella Lawson. I’ve got to come clean here. My little gratitude project has been somewhat hampered by the amount of time I’ve spent worrying about her. Poor dear.

Her life still seems incredibly glamorous. Her eldest son is probably not (as I write this) making homemade hockey goalie gear, which seems to have required the use of two full boxes of Cheerios and all the paper and packing tape in the house. Her younger son did not slice his hand open on a friend’s cracked iPad, requiring a trip to urgent care where it was glued up – something I could have clearly done at home. Her children most likely did not refuse to eat the tortellini soup she made for dinner.

Still, for now I’m glad to be me. I’d actually take my lot at the moment and not Nigella’s. (Ok, maybe just her boobs and kitchens.)

Happy Hanukkah everyone.


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Filed under children, Hanukkah, Uncategorized

Gee, thanks

Fortunately we made it through a Thanksgiving without having to go round a table and share the things for which we are most thankful. Public displays of cloying sweetness and weepy gratitude usually ruin the day for me, so I consider myself rather lucky this year.

But don’t think I am ungrateful. Hardly. Currently I am grateful for the following:

1. M’s grandmother Lisl, who is our only remaining grandparent and who lives in Portland. We are so grateful for her that we piled into the van at 1.30 yesterday, drove for almost three hours, had dinner with her, spent the night in a hotel we are unlikely to be welcomed in ever again (cute guy in room 812: I am super sorry and you were right, 6.05 is too early for anybody), piled back into the van of misery at 8 am, and drove for three hours to come home. All in a steady stream of pissing rain.

2. I am grateful that even though Bennett tricked Fiona into eating a jalapeño at breakfast, the entire ugly incident was over in six minutes.

3. I am also grateful that even though Bennett covered his crocs in duct tape (because they just weren’t waterproof enough before), that he didn’t feel the need to test them by filling them with pee in the car.

4. I am grateful that nobody wet a hotel bed. That’s a biggie.

5. I am grateful that I don’t feel worse after sleeping on the world’s shittiest pull-out couch. (Each time M would roll into the center of the bed, the mattress would snap into a V-formation, sending me flying into him.)

6. I am grateful that I forgot nothing when packing. Usually, somebody has to go without underwear, and that somebody is generally a child who could most benefit from a pair for extra protection.

7. I am grateful that this year I did not forget it was Black Friday and head to the mall for eyeliner, stockings, or a pillowcase. Awful.

8. And of course, rain and badly behaved children aside, I am glad to be home, preparing our own little day-after-Thanksgiving dinner, complete with my two year old sous chef. She is demanding, inconsistent, takes many, many tea breaks, but is good fun overall.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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Filed under children, parenting, Seattle, travel

The American Girl Doll Made Me Do It…

Why is it always the little things that throw us over the edge? We can survive days of abuse (read: parenting), and then fall apart in a glorious fashion when the smallest of things sets us off?

I should really only do things last minute, because it’s the best planned out weekends that go up in flames. We were supposed to be in Portland this weekend, visiting M’s delightful grandmother, staying in a hotel right near her house in what has become the hippest neighborhood in town. Despite some hairy trips to Portland (our lifetime ban from Sushiland comes to mind), it’s one of my favorite places to go. Instead of being there, on Friday night I could be found hiding in a corner of my kitchen hastily slugging a pina colada out of a Peter Rabbit mug, hoping nobody would find me, bug me or ask me to share. How did I get there?

Thanksgiving dinner at our friends’ was cancelled because one of her kids was sick. I am, as some friends will attest, hardly a germ freak. I’d expose my brood to the bubonic plague if it means getting out of the house, and I’ll eat food off of any flat surface — indoors or out. But we were scheduled to drive to Portland on Friday and there really are few things I dislike more than sick kids in hotel rooms (La Jolla: sheepishly asking the cleaning staff to change all my sheets every morning because Sidney had explosive diarrhea, and then finding said diarrhea later in the day in Fiona’s hair..). Still, we did the best we could and instead of Thanksgiving Dinner, M took four of the five kids to the Muppet flic and in a miserable twist of fate came home with a feverish, cranky Fi. So, we cancelled our hotel reservations and had our very own staycation. This term may be meant to refer to a low-cost holiday spent close to home, but to parents it has only one meaning: unsuccessfully fight off insanity while being trapped in the house with your kids (hence the covert kitchen cocktail, which a good friend brought over to lift my spirits). I spent the next day in an urgent care clinic with her (doctors’ office closed on Black Friday), and the rest of the weekend nursing her stomach flu/strep. In the middle of all of this, the dryer (which, thanks to the stomach flu has been working overtime) starts to make a sound like there’s a dead body banging around in it. There wasn’t; I checked.

But I was holding up. Until this morning.

I think we can handle sick kids, and whatever they throw at us (literally), because we know they can’t help it, and they are so wan and helpless. And not-so-secretly I feel like my own little ones are often easier when they’re feverish and feeble. It’s the other stuff that throws me over the edge. So, when Fi was finally on the path to recovery last night, when I had done a final load of laundry and pulled the house out of the pits of disrepair, I went to sleep thinking I’d finally get a full night and maybe even a bit of a lie in. But I made a fatal mistake before bed: I left my incredibly indecisive 5 year old select the American Girl doll she wants for Hannukah.

She has been negotiating for one for a while, and I, pulled into the lure and thrill of doll-buying (I still suffer through Lego, the Clone Wars, and a continual bevy of sports crap, so I really can’t be blamed for squealing with delight at all those delightful dollies) , let her convince me that together we could pick one out online. But as M reminded me when I was done, this is the girl who regularly leaves an ice cream store empty-handed because she can’t decide on a flavor (which may explain why she weighs 36 pounds soaking wet). We’d been talking about all the different kinds of dolls for weeks. I assumed she’d want one that looks like her, but she has other ideas. Finally she landed, I thought, on the Hawaiian doll. I love Hawaii, but I couldn’t figure out why she’d want the doll. It couldn’t look any less like her, and, pina coladas aside, our connection to the Aloha State is rather tenuous. Still, I let her lead, and together we bought it. Done and dusted, or so I thought.

At six o’clock this morning. Francie woke both her sisters, and then us, in a complete fit of hysterics: Between sobs, and gasping for breaths she revealed that she didn’t want the Hawaiian Girl anymore. She wanted the one her friend has. The Molly doll. M, who has surprising reserves of patience, did not kill her. And instead wisely removed her from my sight (but not before giving me a little I-told-you-so speech) while I made some coffee in this, my beloved, trusty years-old Bialetti coffee pot:

But after three days of togetherness, sickness, and the final early wake up, I made the fatal misstep of putting the coffee in the pot, and forgetting the water. I recognized it as soon as the handle and top, both made of plastic, began to melt off, and the smell of burning Italian plastic sailed through the kitchen. I knew what I’d done instantly, because as my friend Sarah will attest, I’d done it once before, soon after I’d gotten my very first Bialetti. But that was in 1996 when I was young and foolish. What’s my excuse now? The kids? Exhaustion? I can’t blame them for everything…

Oh yes, I know who I can blame for the death of my coffee pot, and for sending me over the edge after I’d gamely survived the long weekend: Effing Molly, the American Girl, who woke me up at six a.m., and who, when she arrives at this house, will be damn lucky if she isn’t immediately dismembered. Happy Thanksgiving Molly, wherever you are. And if you’re a wise as you look, you’ll steer clear of me when you get here…


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>Thanksgiving: Female Satisfaction

>I’m lousy at public displays of appreciation. I cringe through Thanksgiving meals at which I’m forced to be sincere in front of more than.. one person. But I know I have parental responsibilities, so I asked the kids what they were thankful for, wondering what they’d come up with — and because of my own predisposition to private displays, I asked them one at a time… sans audience.

The always profound Bennett: I’m thankful that Archie Manning was able to make babies. (For those of you who don’t know – he sired the famed football player Peyton Manning, and his brother Eli. I can’t believe I know this.)

Pensive Efram: I’m thankful for my friends, my family, my health and that I know stuff.

Sweet Frances: I’m thankful for you and Daddy.

Pissed off Fiona: What? I have no idea what you’re asking me. Please send that stupid baby back.

Sidney: burp.

And me? I’m thankful for M, and for five kids who make me laugh. And I’ve saved the biggest laugh of the week for now. (Even funnier then Bennett, examining a pacifier and asking me if that’s what real boobs feel like.) Here it is:

M took Bennett to run some errands.. including a trip to the drug store. They walked passed the section with birth control, etc., and Bennett saw a huge sign with, among other things, the words ‘FEMALE SATISFACTION’ written on it. Under the sign was a coupon dispenser for KY lubricant. Bennett ripped off a coupon and declared, “I think Mummy could use some female satisfaction, don’t you?”

I wonder how old he needs to be before I can mortify him with the story.

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