Friday, January 19, 2007

Catching up

Well, it’s been a while since the Mom has chimed in…I’ve just let Jeff show you charming pictures of Tenley with diapers on her head and regale you with some of the fun from their evenings alone. So now Mommy (aka Princess Snarky) has returned to tell you tales from the holiday and beyond, with more than my usual dose of sarcasim.

Ghosts of the Christmas Past

It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. At least that’s what Andy Williams tells us. I don’t know that it was really wonderful, but it was definitely interesting and occasionally humorous.

As usual, Tenley made out like a bandit this holiday season. Grandma Suzie went totally crazy and bought her a Play-Doh Creativity Center, luggage, books, a hoppity ball, and various toys that are musical instruments or require hammering. (Thanks Mom…next year could you put some Excedrin in my stocking??) Daddy & I anted up with a starter set of GeoTrax, a LeapFrog toy, and helped Santa deliver a Fisher-Price Learning Desk. Grandma & Grandpa provided DVD’s, books, Cinderella Legos, a name plate for her door, etc. etc!! In addition to this she also got more toys, DVD’s, and super cute clothes! I still have no idea where I’m going to put all this stuff. I’m currently looking for a women’s shelter that I can donate her older toys & clothes to.

Jeff did pretty well too: a guitar, a digital picture frame, clothes, books, & DVD’s. I had a great Christmas: I got clothes & beauty products, yoga classes, TimTams, jewelry…and the fish. No not a live one, but rather a Gurgling Fish Jug. I saw one of these for the first time a year ago at Gaynor’s house. They’re made in England and when you pour liquid from them air gets trapped in the tail and they make this hilarious gurgling sound. I fell in love with Gaynor’s and resolved to find one for myself on my next trip to England. Lucky for me, the Acorn catalog had them this year and my fabulous husband got me one.

There are always dark moments in the holiday celebration. If you don’t believe me watch The Family Stone, or even The Santa Clause. Here were some of ours:

The Car. So apparently it’s not a good idea to drive around for 3 months with your check engine light on. We spent the 1st month thinking it was an electrical problem since my car also says the parking brake is on even when it’s not. We spent months 2 and 3 thinking it just really needed a tune-up. Well, we were right- it did need a tune up…to say the least. Apparently the exhaust valve on cylinder one was cracked and had a hole in it so it had completely shut down. Cylinders 2-4 were totally mis-firing. Result: a whole new head unit. It was also time for a new timing belt and a water pump, so since the engine was going to be out, we did that too. Oh yeah- I was also completely out of brake fluid (it was a wonder the car was stopping) but as a result I had chewed up the pads and was about a day away from eating my front rotors. All this 2 weeks before Christmas. Joy to the world. At this point Jeff and I cancelled Christmas for each other (we’re going to have Groundhog Day) and we’d like to apologize to everyone for the meager gifts we were able to afford. 12 days and $2000+ later I got my car back, but it still sounds like a sewing machine. I’m hoping the adjustment it’s having in 2 weeks fixes that…otherwise there’s a visit to the dealer in my future.
Extra special thanks to Aunty Meg who kindly loaned me her late mother’s PT Cruiser so I didn’t have to rent a car; and Kim who loaned me Jaxon’s portable car seat.

The Pez dispenser. Grandma Suzie thought the resident 2 year old would get a kick out of opening the head and getting a little piece of candy. She was right- and we watched in horror as the Kreature did this repeatedly and shoved every single one of the grape candies in her mouth. It was so full that she couldn’t talk and could hardly chew. We just had to ride it out and wipe the flood of purple drool off of her chin. The Pez dispensers and their bounty have now been hidden.

51.6 Miles. Jeff’s family had the good fortune to spend most of his life all living within 10 miles of each other, which came in really handy at the holidays when a tradition of breakfast at his Grandmother’s house at 8am on Christmas day was established. However, 38 years later we live 51.6 miles away, her daughter is 60-70 miles, 1 son & his wife and their daughter are in Oregon, Jeff’s parents are 6 hours away in the middle of the state, 1 grandson and his wife & daughter are in Chicago, etc etc. The problem is that old traditions die hard, and when Tenley came home I became the Wicked Witch of the West and followed Nancy Regan’s advice and just said “no”. It wasn’t much of a problem last year, but this year every one had other engagements, so by the time we showed up 10:30ish we didn’t get to see much of anyone. It’s so nice to see Jeff’s whole family, but it’s become difficult & inconvenient to try to drive to Pico Rivera by 8 on Christmas day…especially when someone who shall remain nameless doesn’t open her presents very quickly, and then want s to play with them.

Feliz Ano Nuevo- 2007

I rang in the New Year working at the El Torito and house sitting for Kim & Zak, which was 3 days of alone time bliss.

So far this year:

Changes are abounding in our house. I think Tenley is about to have a little growth spurt because she’s eating constantly and has started taking marathon naps and sleeping later than usual.
Poor LaFred has entered little kitty puberty – she’s an early bloomer. While I was house sitting over New Years, Jeff said that he was getting no sleep because Fred was roaming the house crying piteously all night…but she stopped about 3 days later. Now she’s doing it again…but this time I was here to see it: he neglected to mention that she’s also doing the dance of seven veils & no dress and walking around with her butt in the air. Yes, she’s “in season” and she’s calling for a boyfriend. We made a call too- she’s going to pay a little visit to Dr.Robinson next week.

Tenley’s vocabulary continues to grow and evolve at an amazing rate, with some interesting acquisitions… This weeks was “no way Jose” – used correctly I might add- and when we asked her where she learned this she just giggled, and when we asked her when she learned this she said “mmmmm…Wednesday!” We also hear road rage from the backseat… tonight a light turned green and she told her dad “move it stupid!”…hilarious, but not good. Also falling into the “not good” file is the incessant and insistant use of “NO”. This is frequently accompanied by foot stomping, running away, and outright defiance. On the bright side of language, she is communicating her needs (boots! Hat!) and wants (sucker! cookies!) better, and has started responding to things her TV shows like Elmo & Blue’s Clues ask her. As for ansewring questions, "why" still eludes her.

Rain Man. Occasionally Tenley goes Rain Man on us and gets fixated on something and will repeat it continuously to the point that you just want to duct tape her mouth shut and run screaming into the night. Sometimes this is something like “Oobi? Oobi? See Oobi? Oobi? See Oobi now?” repeat. Repeat continuously regardless of location, ability to grant request, and response. Or “Boots? Tenley boots? Tenley new boots. Want boots. Boots? Boots? Boots?” this has gone on for weeks. See the problem is that it’s January, so all the stores have are flip flops & bikinis. We finally got lucky the other night and found these pink English riding boots on sale at Pumpkin Patch. Now the pink boots are worn with everything.

Speaking of fixated, my kid is obsessed with the Wiggles. She wants to watch “Wiggle Safari” all day & all night, and she knows which song comes next (see previous post about Queen of the Roses) and tries to do all the dance moves. Funny as heck to watch. So like a good parent, I about killed myself to get tickets for the upcoming Wiggles concert in March. If she had any, Tenley would throw her underwear at them – and she’d love to bring a rose for Dorothy the Dinosaur- so we went to great lengths to try to get tickets on the floor so she could join the toddler mosh pit. Alas, we were denied. We got no joy in the presale- only 2 sets of tickets we didn’t want. Fortunately, Lloyd at Ticketmaster understood my plight and made a huge exception and allowed me to return them. Grandma Suzie and I were poised and ready when they went on sale at 10am today, but the best we could do was row 10 of section A…so we are center house, but we’re in the raised section (actually only 4 rows from the rail). I doubt Tenley & Jaxon will care where we sit.

The next few months promise to be full of Tenleylicious activities:

Feb: Chinese New Year, Riverside County Fair
Mar: Sea World, The Wiggles concert
Apr: Easter
Random: Visits to Granma & Grandpa, Zoo/Wild Animal Park, Long Beach Aquarium, snow days, and maybe Lego Land.

So there should be plenty to post about very soon. I’ll leave you with a little story about Tenley’s newest ….um…friend….

Mrs. Cotton

For those of you who don’t know us personally, you may find it interesting to know that Jeff works in a historic house that is haunted. Honest. We believe the ghost to be the wife of the former owner, and she’s really quite harmless. Most of the time she does things like re-arrange the conference room furniture, open windows and drapes, and play with an adding machine in one of the upstairs offices. Lots of strange sounds are heard and many people have witnessed shadows moving, but only 1 person (Tara’s son Dalton) has ever really seen her. Until now. Now 2 people have seen her- Dalton…and Tenley.
The week before Christmas I had to drop Ten off at Jeff’s office on my way to work. Ten loves Holden House and especially loves going up and down the staircases. Everyone else had gone home so she had run amok down stairs and then started pestering her dad to go upstairs. Jeff kept having to tell her no because he was busy with something. Then it got very quiet. Jeff looked over and saw Tenley standing at the base of the stairs, looking up, as though she were examining something and trying to make sense out of it. “Tenley? Do you want to go upstairs?” Long pause. “No” as she shakes her head back and forth, her eyes never leaving the 2nd floor landing. “Ten? What are you looking at?” “Lady.” Ok! Time to go! Jeff couldn’t actually leave fast enough. Tenley, being polite, happily waved into the darkness and said “Bye Lady! Nice time!”

Nice time indeed.


Christi said...

Thank you for the mega update! Tenley is charming as ever. Love the fish pitcher.

Shelley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shelley said...

Wow - Lots going on at your place. Glad you had a good Christmas in spite of all the problems.

Oy, I feel your pain on that tradition. That's a tough one.

We had a similar tradition and used to pack up all our gifts and trek to my parents' place, which is only about a 15 minute drive, for breakfast and gift exchanges with Grandma and Papa on Xmas morn.

Not only did it become a colossal pain to rush through our own morning together as a family, but I started to feel it wasn't fair to Gillian (at the time, we didn't have Charlotte) and that she was missing out on her own "magical morning" which I really relished as a kid. We were missing out on making our own memories with our kids. Plus it became just way too stressful - I actually ended up dreading Christmas.

I think the last straw was 4 years ago when I was in such a rush I broke my toe, and in spite of the pain and my better judgement, plowed through the day cooking, washing dishes, etc. (which I paid for later - took about a year to heal!).

After that, we decided it was time to start our own family tradition for Christmas Day. And now, we stay at home ...all day.

We enjoy a leisurely morning opening presents, and eating a nice quiet breakfast (which I make the night before). Simple.

And later that day, we watch football while the kids play. Funny thing is that everyone now gravitates over here. But it is always optional, low key, and just plain fun. It works and sanity is restored. And we found it is easier for the non-working grandparents to come here (even stay the night if they wish), than for us to try to get our act together (now with 2 kids) to get to their place.

Sometimes you just have to evolve your traditions to make it work for your family. Times do change. Interestingly, my parents were good with it once we explained.

Hey let me know when you get down to OC next. It would be fun to get the girls together. We only live about 20 minutes from Disney.

Happy New Year,