Thursday, December 27, 2007

Smells Like Christmas

When I was a very little girl, before my parent's divorce - or, at least before my mother's remarriage - we spent Christmas Eve at my mother's parent's home. I would sleep in a big bed with my mother's youngest sister, who was only 3 years older than I. We would lie awake and wonder if Santa Claus would really come, and, if so, how he would get into the house, since it was without a chimney.

My grandfather was an engineer - an engineer who designed engines for a large tractor company that I won't name here. He had convinced my youngest aunt and I that the mechanism that allowed Santa's sleigh to run was HIGHLY SIMILAR to the mechanisms that ran his beloved tractors. Because he appeared to be able to make ANYTHING run properly - from dishwashers to the ancient Model-T he kept in the garage - we believed that he must know of what he spoke. My grandfather had us convinced that Santa Claus would stop at his house for an engine tune-up, sometime in the middle of the night, and that Santa would drop off our gifts at that time. No chimney, no problem. Have a brilliant grandpa who can fix Santa's sleigh, THAT was the answer!

I'm not sure how I thought OTHER CHILDREN, children whose grandfathers weren't necessary to Santa's operation, got THEIR gifts, if THEY didn't have a chimney. Evidently such a question never occurred to me. (As it also did not occur to me that a sleigh pulled by magic reindeer should not actually NEED an engine tune-up from a tractor engineer...)

My grandparents were raised on rice farms in north central Arkansas, and they brought their Christmas traditions with them to Michigan. When my aunt and I would run downstairs on Christmas morning, we would find our stockings stuffed with whole pecans and oranges and tangerines. (And we always ate rice with butter and cinnamon for breakfast, and it wasn't Christmas with a pecan pie.)

As I grew older, I learned that Santa Claus did not bring oranges, tangerines or pecans to my friends, and yet it didn't occur to me to wonder why not. I still loved to crack the pecans open - there was something truly satisfying about cracking open the hard shell and digging out the meat of the pecan - something I only did at Christmastime.

Husband purchased a bag of oranges late last week, because Lana asked for them. We've never been big eaters of oranges around our house, they are a pain to peel and eat, and both Husband and I, usually, if we're going to make the effort to eat citrus, prefer grapefruit. But, Lana wanted oranges, so oranges were purchased.

On Christmas Eve morning, I sat at our kitchen table, peeling an orange with a Pampered Chef citrus peeler (which, I am telling you, for .75 is one of the best products I have purchased from any kitchen supply company.) Anyway, I was looking at the Christmas tree in our family room, and peeling the orange, and I realized that very little smells more like Christmas to me than the scent of a freshly peeled orange. I know that most people think of pine or cinnamon when they think about Christmas smells - but, to me, it smells like oranges, and brings me back to those magic Christmas mornings of my childhood. It could have only smelled MORE like Christmas if I had had some pecans to crack open at the same time.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, filled with the smells that make you feel most at home!


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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Gabriel loves Santa, Lana is not sure


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Thursday, December 20, 2007

No Love for BIG LOVE?

(Spoilers for the HBO Series Big Love, episodes 1-1 and 1-2 below, so, consider yourself warned.)

So, I checked out the first disc of Season 1 of HBO's "Big Love", solely because it is produced by Tom Hanks and because the cast includes Amanda Seyfried and Tina Majorino, who played Lilly Kane and "Mac" MacKenzie on Veronica Mars. (Incidentally, it also has Kyle Gallner, who played Beaver Casablancas on VM, but, I didn't know that until he showed up in a scene. And then I thought to myself, "Wow. Did the producers of Veronica Mars walk onto the Big Love set and yell, "GIVE ME ALL YOUR DECENT ACTORS WHO CAN BELIEVABLY PULL OFF PLAYING TEENAGERS!" or was it vice versa? I digress.)


I watched the pilot and most of episode 2.

I will say that the show is well-written and has an incredibly talented cast.

And it creeps me right the h*ll out.

"Wait wait!!" I hear you saying. "But, Lawmommy, you have admitted in this forum that you really LIKE watching DEXTER and that is a show about a serial killer who chops other serial killers INTO TINY VERY BLOODY LITTLE PIECES AND KEEPS THEIR BLOOD in a hidey-hole behind his air-conditioner, but the show about POLYGYNY creeps you out?"

To which I say, "Yes. Yes it does."

I can't put my finger on what, exactly, bugged me most. I hated the patronizing attitude of Bill (the husband.) I hated the creepy concept of the "sister-wife". (I've been creeped out by this idea since we covered Polygamy in my Family Law course in Law School, and read an article written (anonymously) by a woman who claimed to be a licensed Utah attorney who was living in a polygynist relationship, who stated that without the assistance of her sister-wives, she wouldn't be able to go to work and support the family. To which I wanted to scream, "HELLO!! HIGH QUALITY DAYCARE IS A MUCH BETTER SOLUTION THAN SHARING YOUR HUSBAND WITH TWO OTHER PEOPLE YOU FREAK!!!")

I think I was offended by the inherently unbalanced relationship between Bill and the three wives.

I think I can honestly say I would find this show easier to watch if it involved three wives sharing three husbands. (Okay, but, then it would probably have to be aired on a different kind of cable channel.)

I was really appalled by the scene in which Barb and Nicki (played by Jeanne Tripplehorn and Chole Sevigny) are treated to the sound of their husband VERY LOUDLY banging the third wife while they try to make breakfast for the rest of the family. I can just say, categorically, that in such shoes, there would have been BLOOD SHED. BLOOD SHED THE LIKES OF WHICH WOULD IMPRESS DEXTER. Not angry egg whisking as was the response of the sister-wives.

But, maybe I'm just not good at sharing. Call me crazy.

I found myself really disliking Bill, and really feeling badly for the character of Sarah (the oldest daughter, played by Amanda Seyfried) for the obvious discomfort she felt with the "I have three mommies and one of them is barely older than I am" scenario. that the point of the show? Am I supposed to feel uncomfortable? Am I supposed to dislike Bill? Should I even bother continuing to watch soley because I am a fan of Jeanne Tripplehorn, Amanda Seyfriend and Tina Majorino? Should I give this show another episode or two before I throw in the towel and move on to the first season of Heroes or Boston Legal?



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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Bad Blogger

Why is it that the holidays are supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, and yet I generally feel like I haven't got a second to just enjoy them?

Lana and Gabriel are practically apoplectic with excitement about Santa's upcoming visit. Lana is not keen on the whole, "we buy presents for eachother and then we have to keep it secret for a few weeks" thing. She wants to wrap the gifts and then have the intended recipient open them IMMEDIATELY. She is bursting with the desire to tell Husband what she and I and Gabriel purchased for him, and likewise to tell me what she and Husband and Gabriel have in store for yours truly.

(I have heard whispered rumors from the troops (aka Lana and Gabe) of "Hello Kitty" themed pajamas under the tree in my size. Is it sad and pathetic to be a 35-year-old woman who is happily looking forward to this rumored present?**)

We made cookies for Gabriel's class the other day, and I, through sheer random luck, found a recipe that makes AWESOME Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookies. And by awesome, I mean, REALLY REALLY REALLY freaking good. They were so good that I am going to link to the recipe, because, what I am saying is...they are GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD. So, the recipe is here. YUM. (You have the cream the sugars, butter and peanut butter together for a good amount of time.)

So, anyway, between all the Christmas shopping, baking, wrapping, and, oh, writing a fascinating (NOT!) 10-page brief on why the interest of a valid mortgage holder in good faith is superior to a leasehold interest in a piece of real property (anybody want a copy for some bedtime reading?) I haven't had a lot of time to blog. And I also had to evict a crack-whore and her pimp from a really disgusting apartment, so, hey, just call me "Santa Claus."

I've also been watching a lot of Ask A Ninja. Which, if you haven't been watching Ask A Ninja, YOU MUST WATCH. Good grief it's funny stuff. (Funny enough, for example, to make you forget for a few minutes that you just evicted a prostitute from her humble abode.) You will laugh like the laughingest laugher. Here is my favorite one so far, it's the Ninja speaking on The Hollywood Writer's Strike. Funny stuff, my friends, funny stuff: Ask A Ninja On The Writer's Strike.

Other media stuff I'm kind of obsessed with these days:
1. The new Finger 11 song, Paralyzer. Why do I love this song so much?? I don't know, but, I cannot get enough of it. The video is here: Paralyzer
2. has put some episodes of "My So-Called Life" on it's website for your viewing pleasure. It's not "Veronica Mars", but, hey, it was a good show the first time it aired, and, honestly, are you going to watch all the reality tv crap they are going to start airing on Primetime? (Please say no. PLEASE SAY NO.)
3. Christopher Moore's book The Stupidest Angel. My new favorite Christmas book. (Warning, it does contain many swear words, zombies, and a talking fruit bat.)

Hope everyone else is having a calmer Christmas season than I am!


**In the same vein of being happy about the possibility of Hello Kitty pajamas, a few weeks ago I was attending a status pre-trial on a case I thought was fairly straightforward. We were sitting in the Judge's chambers, and opposing counsel dropped a bomb on me that I was TOTALLY not expecting. I didn't have a pen out, so, I grabbed by purse and yanked out the first pen I found and began writing furiously with it. The judge and opposing counsel were quiet for a moment while I wrote, and when I looked up at them, they were both smirking. "Nice pen" opposing counsel said, and the judge laughed, and I realized I was writing furiously with a fuzzy, pink Disney Princess Pen. (The pen was Lana's. Not mine. I swear.) I blushed and then said, "well, I guess you gentlemen don't have any princesses at home!" Such is my life....

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

In which I am forced to quote the lyrics of a cheesy Chicago song

For quite some time, I have been frustrated by Lana's steadfast refusal to walk upstairs by herself. (I mean, Lana is physically capable of walking up stairs - it's just that she refuses to go to the second floor of our home if no other family members are up there.)

I was not understanding this, since the upstairs is where all of our bedrooms are, and Lana seems to like her bedroom and the toys that are there. But, she will only play in her room if other people are also upstairs.

We have had angry scream-y mornings in which I have asked her to do something, which, in my mind, is TOTALLY REASONABLE while I am trying to get Gabriel out to the bus on time, and Lana and myself into the car immediately thereafter. Namely, I will say, "Lana, please go up and put on some socks" or "Please go up and get your hair brush and a pony tail holder."

And then Lana will say "No," and I will say, "yes" and Lana will say, "NO PEOPLE UP THERE!" and I will say, "SO WHAT?" and the conversation just goes downhill from there and ends with me stomping angrily upstairs or going upstairs WITH HER to get whatever item it is that is needed and feeling frustrated that she is being disobedient.

I was about at the end of my rope with this when, a few nights ago, we got a bit of insight into the situation.

As is our custom, all four of us were sitting at the kitchen table just before bed. Gabe and Lana were eating their snack, I was reading to them from Encyclopedia Brown, and Husband was grading papers.

Lana had finished her snack and I had finished The Case of the Purloined Watermelon or whatever whodunit the good Encyclopedia had been delving into that night, and Gabriel had one more peanut butter cracker to finish. Husband told Lana to go upstairs and start brushing her teeth. (It is easier to get teeth brushed when both children are not in the bathroom together. I don't know what it is about teeth-brushing-time that brings out the worst persnickityness in them.)

"Nobody up there," Lana said.

"Gabe will be up in a minute. You go on upstairs and start brushing your teeth." Husband said.

"But, no people upstairs. Nobody upstairs." Lana continued.

Husband looks frustrated and says, "Just go on up and brush your teeth. Mommy and Gabe will come up in a second."

Lana's face bunches up with near tears. "If I go upstairs, and everybody stay down here, you will leave me. You will go away. You will leave." She blurts.

Stunned silence.

"We will never leave you." Husband says categorically.

"Yes," Lana says, "you will leave."

"We will never leave you by yourself. Not ever." Husband says again.

"You will," she said, in a quiet, sad voice that made it clear she believed it was only a matter of time before we betrayed her in this way.

Suffice it to say that I worry that, as an adult, Lana may have abandonment issues that could rival those of Meredith Grey...

In a way, I am relieved that Lana feels that she can communicate her fears to us. On the other hand, I find it heartbreaking that she worries that we are not really her forever family and are engaged in some kind of elaborate hoax to leave her alone and helpless.

I must confess that, when I went into her bedroom that night to sing her a song before sleeping (normally I sing her "I'm In Love With A Big Blue Frog" and "The Other Day I Saw A Bear"), I found myself crooning the first verse of a song with which I was obsessed as a pre-teen girl enamoured of The Karate Kid movies.

Yes, I had to sing part of [gasp] The Glory of Love, namely:

I will always love you
I will never leave you alone
Sometimes I just forget
Say things I might regret
It breaks my heart to see you crying
I don't want to lose you
I could never make it alone

Sometimes, only the cheesiest love song can say what really needs to be said.


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Sunday, December 02, 2007


Some time ago, my Girlfriend A~ (aka Vanilla Caribou or Perpetual Student sent a gift to Lana and Gabriel that included a CD called "O Canada." It's a collection of Canadian songs sung by Canadian Children. The cover of the CD features a Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman and a Maple Leaf.

The point I am trying to make is that it is an extremely CANADIAN album. (Which makes sense, since Canada is where A~ lives when she is not running around Northern Ireland writing her thesis and taking pictures for her blog.) The album is more Canadian than The Barenaked Ladies and Bryan Adams put together. It's like a little audio helping of maple syrup and poutaine (poutine?).

Recently, Lana has decided that she LOVES this album. She LOVES it.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I must also say that Lana LOVES the song "Cyclone" by Baby Bash and T-Pain, and also "Bubbly" by Colby Callait (sp?) - so, there really is no cataloguing her musical taste.)

But, at any rate, she is especially fond of two songs from the "O Canada" album, namely, a folk song entitled "Farewell to Nova Scotia" and the Canadian national anthem.

And I just have to say that I find it extremely incongruous, to be driving my newly emigrated Vietnamese-American daughter through a snowy mid-Western day while she happily sings, "Oh Canada, My Home and Native Land" in the backseat of the car...


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