23 December 2006

Happy New Y

Today in history ...

in 1888, Vincent van Gogh cut off his left ear.

Soooo, partly in honor of my husband, who is a big fan of van Gogh, and partly because I was bored, I have compiled a list of some items you could buy for van Gogh lovers as last-minute Christmas gifts:

The Unemployed Philosopher's Guild carries several items. There is the van Gogh doll with detachable magnetic ear

the coffee mug (the ear disappears when the mug is hot):

and then, my personal favorite, the pill box. It says Crazy Things Happen If You Forget to Take Your Meds!
Shakespeare's Den offers the van Gogh action figure. He comes with 2 interchangable heads--one prior to Dec. 23, 1888, and one after:

Or how about a charm? (I found these on ebay.) Very tasteful, don't you think?
Not so tasteful is this t-shirt from threadless:

This shirt from sendatee.net is a little better. It says Ear today, gone tomorrow:

And last, but not least, you could always send them this chocolate ear from favors to treasure:

20 December 2006

christmas cookies

Amy, Christina and I got together to decorate Christmas cookies today. We had so much fun--and the kids did, too, of course. Christina had a nice lunch spread for us and tons of cookie dough for the children to cut out and then decorate with icing and sprinkles. Hey! That reminds me! I left my cookie cutters over there! Sigh. Oh, well. With 2 babies and a diaper bag and all of the various stuffed Elmos and sippy cups, it would be a miracle if I didn't leave a trail of babystuff behind me everywhere I go! I do think sometimes the Lion is a little like Hansel, leaving his own trail of Cheerios in his wake. Jonathan and I find them everywhere! I was in the laundry room the other day, tossing clothes into the dryer and I crushed one under my foot. It scared the crap out of me! Who knew a Cheerio crunching underfoot could be so loud?

Anyway, we really had such a great time today. And Christina had a little goody bag of cookies for each child and a Santa Claus sippy cup for each of them to bring home. So sweet.

Bluebird is very excited about Santa Claus. We ask her, "Who's coming?" And she says "Santa Claus is coming!" Then we ask, "What does Santa do?" and she tells us he "puts presents under the tree!" I don't know if she realizes what a present is, so Christmas morning will be exciting indeed.

Seriously, though, she must think Santa is so incompetent! Every special we've watched--Dora, Mickey Mouse, Handy Manny, you name it, we've seen them all--Santa always needs these other guys to come and help him out. Either his sleigh has broken down or he's gotten lost or left his presents behind... he always needs someone to come and save the day.

19 December 2006


I am becoming obsessed.

It's funny to me that I have never been to England. And I love all things English. Jonathan and I watched a program on London the other day, and there was (of course) a section on the Tower. I think I was literally drooling. I asked Jonathan, how many Americans can name all the wives of Henry 8th, in order, and tell their fate? Me! Me! Pick me!

Catherine of Aragon, mother of Mary 1, divorced

Anne Boleyn, mother of Elizabeth 1, beheaded
Jane Seymour, died after birth of her son, Edward
Anne of Cleves, divorced almost instantly
Katherine Howard, beheaded
Catherine Parr, outlived Henry, married Thomas Seymour and died in childbirth

I am a complete and utter geek.

I cannot wait to walk in the Tower, to step where Anne Boleyn stepped. Incredible!

Jonathan's best friend, Andy, emailed us yesterday. He wanted to know if we wanted him to take us to a football match--or maybe to a horse race--while we are visiting. Our answer? Yes! And, yes!

I have so many places I want to see. So many, many things I want to do... Most of my favorite authors are English--Agatha Christie, P.D. James, Ngaio Marsh, Mary Stewart... I want to visit as many bookstores as I can find and look for old hardbacks of their books. I was lying in bed the other night, telling Jonathan this and he got very quiet. Then he sighed. "I wasn't going to tell you this, but the London Book Fair will be taking place while we are there."


We got our tickets in the mail. We fly out on April 6th (our five year anniversary) to Amsterdam, then on to the big E. We are going to stay with Andy and his girlfriend, Teresa, for four days at their home in Lincoln. Their baby girl, Gabriella Eliza, is going to be christened on April 8 and Jonathan is her godfather. Then Andy is taking us into London, where Jonathan and I will spend the remainder of our trip.

I am trying to talk him into going to see "The Mousetrap" while we are there. It is the longest running show in theatre history. And it's Agatha Christie. Did I mention I love her?

I can't wait!
I can't wait!
I can't wait!

12 December 2006

11 December 2006

cultural differences

In four months, I will be in London. I am so excited! I think I have always wanted to be English. My friends, the DWAFS, know what I mean by this.

I have never been to England. But I know I will love it. I have only been to Rome and to Stuttgart, Germany. Well, wait, we had a stop-over in Heathrow on the way home, which was all I saw of England. And then, something so traumatic happened to me at Heathrow. I can't believe I am actually going to tell this humiliating story here, but what the hell, why not, right? And let me apologize, in advance, if you happen to be German. All you German women out there, please don't be offended by this stupid story.

Okay, here goes:

Jonathan took me to Rome for our honeymoon in the fall of 2002. Like I said, I had never been anywhere before. Wow. Anyway, I knew I was in trouble before we had even gotten on the plane. We were getting our boarding passes, and there I am, in my usual jeans and black Converse. Jonathan was telling the woman at the desk that this was my first trip to Europe. She was sighing and saying how wonderful it is, how I would just love it there, blahblah and that you can always spot the Americans because they are the only people over there wearing sneakers. Ha ha, so funny, right?

I felt very conspicuous in Rome. Not only is Jonathan a giant compared to the men over there, not only am I as white as one of the marble statues, but I was wearing Converse. And jeans. And I hadn't packed a blowdryer, so my flat hair was in a ponytail the entire time.

If you've never been to Rome, this is what the women look like there:

Seriously. All of them. They are all dark and gorgeous with big bouncy hair and huge sunglasses and they wear little stiletto heels everywhere. On the cobblestone even. So I felt very out of place.

Any way. Then we go to Stuttgart for a few days to visit Jonathan's Onkle Herbert and Tante Inge. And it was crazy how different the women looked! In Germany, they all looked pretty much like this:

Anyway, very different from the Italian women, shall we say?

Soooo, on the way home, we had this stop-over in Heathrow and I was so excited. We get off the plane and it is freezing cold so I put on my big black coat and my scarf and I immediately head for the Starbucks kiosk to order some coffee. When my order was ready, (God, this is so awful) the barista leans over and hands me my Mocha and says, very loudly, like he thinks I am hard of hearing, "Guten tag!" I could have died! He thought I was German!

So I am determined, the next time I am in England I am going to look like one of those Roman women. I will be thinner and I will leave my sneakers at home. And I will bring my blow-dryer. Although, I will probably not use it, because I am lazy, but Jonathan told me Saturday that my ponytail suits me, so there.

06 December 2006

the London diet

My friend, Kurt, was trying to get me to buy some chocolate yesterday in Borders.

I told him I was on a diet.

My friend, Kris, said, "Oh, yeah, that's right. She's on the London diet."

Kurt: "The London Diet? What's that?"

Kris: "Oh, you know, it's where you just eat scones and drink a lot of tea."

05 December 2006

goodbye, girl

Jonathan and I buried Maggie today in the back yard. We buried her with some old towels and her food bowl and her water bowl and her brush and her leash and some treats and 2 hot dogs.

She was a good dog. She lived with us for four lovely years. She was Jonathan's dog, really. We never even knew how old she really was. Four years ago she was wandering around our old neighborhood for days until Jonathan lured her into our yard by grilling some bratwurst for her. She wouldn't come near anyone else. She growled at me at first if I got too close. I was afraid of her. Which is silly in retrospect. Maggie was the gentlest, timidest dog I have ever known. But she looked a little frightening, I guess. She was fat and shaggy and black. Part Newfoundland, so you can imagine... We brought her to Petsmart to be shaved last summer after our clippers broke in her thick fur and people saw her heading in to the grooming area and just laughed. She was just one giant furball.

She looked kind of like a black bear, and was roughly the same size, too. I remember Lesley's little boy, Patrick, pointing out our window at Maggie, asking, "Mommy, what is that?" and Lesley saying, "I think it's a dog."

She had been really slow, much slower than she even usually was. And when we brought her to the mountains last weekend, she wasn't able to walk more than a few steps so we left her in the van. I think she just liked being with us.

She hadn't touched her food all week. And then yesterday, when I got up in the morning, she was gone. And I had a very bad feeling, like maybe she had wandered off into the woods to die. I called Jonathan and asked him if he had seen her when he left for work. He said he had, and that she had probably just gone down to the stream for some water. But I didn't think so. She wouldn't be gone that long.

So, all day I kept scanning the woods. It's amazing how many black shapes there are out there that look like a big, black dog if you stare hard enough. Finally, both babies were asleep and I went outside to look for her.

It was bitter cold. I even wound my scarf around my face, it was so cold. I kept praying, Please, God, let me find her before Jonathan gets home. Like I said, she was his dog, really. And I knew that would be very, very hard for him to handle. I had no idea how I could possibly move such a large animal, but I figured, I'd deal with that when I found her. Maybe I could just cover her with a blanket or something, make her look more peaceful.

I found her and it was horrible. She was in the stream. She was still alive. I think she had gone to the stream, just like Jonathan said and had fallen and been lying in the freezing water all day.

I have no idea how, but I managed to pull her massive body partway out of the water. I simply could not lift her the rest of the way, and there was still a good one hundred feet of woods with deep trenches between us and the house. So I did a very awful thing.

I left her there.

All alone in the water.

And I ran as fast as I could to the house. I didn't know what to do. ohmyGodohmyGodohmyGod was racing through my head. I called an Animal Hospital and they suggested I call Animal Control. I called Animal Control and then I called Jonathan. He was pulling into our neighborhood when I called him, so I called Animal Control back and told them not to come. Then I called my mom to see if she could leave work to come and babysit for us so we could both take Maggie to the vet together. I knew it was going to be a very sad vet visit and I didn't want Jonathan to have to take Maggie all by himself. My mother, angel that she is, came over right away while Jonathan pulled Maggie out of the water. He kept saying, "I can't believe you got her out of the water." She was just so heavy.

We put her in the back seat and covered her with dry towels and brought her to the vet. And put her to sleep. It took them for ever to find a vein because she had been in the freezing water for so long that her veins were constricted. But after about a half hour, they found one. They started to administer the medicine, and Maggie lifted her massive head and looked down at the syringe. She seemed so very, very weary. Then she put her head back down and looked at Jonathan and then she sighed and was gone. It was so quick. And so peaceful.

We still can't believe she is gone. We are both so tired. I hate this kind of emotional exhaustion. I'd much rather be physically tired. My head hurts, my eyes feel swollen. They sting. I am just so sad. But I am very proud of my Jonathan. He was very brave. He keeps thanking me for somehow pulling Maggie out of the water--he keeps saying, Seeing her lying in the water would have haunted me forever. Yeah. Tell me about it.

04 December 2006

ideology at 4 am

The Lion woke up at 4 this morning. I guess I really can't complain, because this is the first time he has woken in the night since he was about 4 months old. It's so fascinating to me how these little babies are born and they immediately possess personalities that are so distinctly their own. And how ridiculously unfair that I was blessed with these 2 amazing sleepers and my poor friend, Amy, was given not one but two babies who barely sleep at all. Sitting there in Lion's room with him in the halfdark I really thought about Amy a lot, wondering how on earth she is surviving. I mean, she is breastfeeding still, too, so downing endless cups of coffee to get through the day is not a possibility. And on top of not getting any sleep, her little girl, Maggie, is in preschool now so Amy is constantly getting sick. Amy, I am thinking of you. You are truly a Wonder Woman.

It was really very sweet, sitting there with the Lion, holding him in my arms, listening to his "Curious George" soundtrack. I can remember sitting in that same big armchair with Blue, who was never a very cuddly baby. She would be squirming around, standing on my lap, pulling my hair or beating on the back of the chair with her little hands while I tried desperately to savor the moment. My little boy, on the other hand, is very content just lying in my arms. It never ceases to amaze Jonathan and I how mellow the Lion is--how he can just lay there. Jonathan asks me all the time, "Do you think something is wrong with him?" But I remember he used to ask that about Blue, too, as she tried desperately to wriggle out of his arms.

The "Curious George" soundtrack is Lion's lullabye CD. Jonathan bought it for him when he was just home from the hospital and for the rest of my life, whenever I hear Jack Johnson sing I will think of my son. As we sat there this morning in the chair, listening to the music I wondered if the familiar songs reminded the Lion of me. And then I got to thinking, Who/what am I to Lion? (You can get very philosophical at 4 in the morning.) To Blue, I am Mommy. I am more mellow, much less playful than Daddy, but I also shout less, too. Mommy is the one she runs to when she is hurt, Daddy is the one who comforts her when she is scared. Our roles are pretty clearly defined. But who am I to Lion?

Am I the familiar sound of the "Curious George" soundtrack? Am I a bottle? Am I dark hair to tug on? Am I coffee breath? Am I a clean diaper? Am I his whole world?

Jonathan tells me all the time how much the Lion loves me. And I know it is true. He is my boy. I am the one with him for most of the day. I am the one who sees that his immediate needs are met. Which is not to say that Jonathan doesn't. He is much more involved than most fathers. But he has a dayjob. And by calling the Lion my boy, I am not claiming all of his affection. He loves Jonathan too. He calls him dada and he has a special, huge smile that uses every part of his fat little face that only appears when he sees Jonathan. And he loves Blue. He can't seem to sit still when he sees her. And he follows her around the house on his hands and knees like a little puppy.

But I am something different, something more. I don't know how to put it into words. To him, and to Blue when she was littler, I am the world. I am sort of an extension of Lion, in his mind. He knows who we all are, and he even has a name for Jonathan. But I remember it took Blue for ever to finally call me mama. And I don't think it is a linguistic thing. She was already saying much more complex words, like balloon and good girl. I think, and I don't mean to sound conceited at all, but I think it is just that Blue didn't see why I needed a name, because I was Everything.

03 December 2006

size matters

I am determined to lose 35 pounds by April 1st. No foolin'. Jonathan and I are going to London then and I want to look fabulous.*

Wish me luck.
I don't know what has happened to me. When Jonathan and I met, I was very thin. I had been skinny my whole life. I think it was after my brief first pregnancy that my metabolism just came to a screeching, frightening halt. I've had my thyroid tested, and unfortunately there is absolutely nothing wrong with it that I can blame my excess weight on. It is just all the junkfood and couchwarming that is conspiring against me, I guess.

It sucks, too, because when I was so thin, it was not at all in vogue. Not like now. I guess I am destined to be out of fashion! This was before anyone had even heard of Kate Moss. I was called every stupid nickname in the book in high school: Olive Oyl, Twiggy, Toothpicks, Spaghetti Legs, Chicken Legs ... there were lots of derogatory names about my legs. I remember looking at all of the normal-looking cheerleader types in my high school who were so popular and confident and thinking, Oh, well, I will be skinny at our reunion and you probably won't, so there! But that didn't happen. What happened was they all looked pretty much the same. Damn.

But I keep thinking, at least I was thin once. So I know I can get there again, right? Have I mentioned this theory before on this blog??? Sooooo my goals:

1. to eat less
2. to exercise when possible
3. to pray for a miracle

*I don't just want to look better for our trip, either, but I want to be healthier and set a good example for Lion and Blue. That is something I really need to work on. I think I am a pretty good mom, all things considered. They are relatively clean and well-fed and I read to them and all. And if I do yell at them I apologize to them afterwards. And I think I don't tend to freak out over the silly, little kid things that they do from time to time (for example, when Blue flings poo around her room like she did Friday night). But I need to feel better in my own skin, so that Blue doesn't grow up hearing me denying compliments or putting myself down all the time.