How To Charm The Socks Off Me

December 30, 2005

When Lean on Me (upbeat Club Nouveau cover) comes on the car radio, unconsciously dredge from the depths of your 80’s mind vault a long-suppressed dance move (only rivaled in popularity and sheer idiocy by the Robot) and bust out ss-ss-ssnaking… snaking around.

And when I catch sight of you in my peripheral vision enthusiastically doing the Snake and turn to watch you for a moment in wide-eyed wonderment before finally blurting out, “Ohmygawsh! Are you… Snaking?!”, just freeze for a moment (mid-Snake), then smile sheepishly at me and reply, “Well, yes. Yes, I guess I am.”

Of course, it goes without saying that at this point all semblance of coolness will flee the car as momma, dad, and kiddos commence to bust the funky music and break it down Snake-style.

Little things I love about you (Anniversary Edition)

December 29, 2005

(Note to TGIM: Hey! I didn’t forget, I just thought it was still WEDNESDAY, I swear!)

That after thirteen years and three children, you still gawk like a horny teenager and whistle appreciatively as I strut my stuff around the bedroom en deshabille.

That you have almost learned that I am SUCH a poor sport and absolutely cannot stand to be the butt of practical jokes: like the time soon after we were married when you thought it would be oh-so-hilarious to pour ice water on me while I was in the shower, then jump in with me pointing and jeering, “Woo-hoo-hoo! Ha, ha, HA!” (I still feel just awful about the handprint welt I made when I slapped you in the chest… no, really); or the time you played that dandelion trick on me and I yelled and punched you so hard in the chest your little sister thought we would be getting a divorce before the week was over (I still maintain shoving a dandelion in my mouth is not in any way amusing); or that New Year’s Eve when we were playing Monopoly with your brothers and you freaking bankrupted me within the first ten minutes, causing me to burst into tears, throw my game piece at you, and stomp out of the room in a huff (okay, in my defense? I was EIGHT MONTHS PREGNANT with our first child and WAAAY hormonal). Consequently you have been forced to direct all your prankish ways toward the children, who, incidentally, will totally be needing therapy when they grow up.

That you give me almost exclusive control of the remote control. Of course, this is mostly just to avoid hearing me whine and kvetch, but still! And you don’t even complain TOO much about my compulsive need to adjust the volume, my incessant commentating, and a sad tendency to rewind. Um, a LOT.

That even though you claim never to meddle in anyone’s bidness (because RUDE, right?), every time you get on the phone with one of your six brothers, the words, “What you oughta do…” pop out of your mouth, accompanied by a lengthy discourse on just what YOU would do if you were in his situation. Time and again, as you well know. Of course, this is pandemic in your family– that’s why your sister-in-law Amy calls all y’all The What You Oughta Tribe– so it is more endearing than annoying, due to the whole genetic aspect. But still? Kind of annoying. But mostly endearing!

That you totally support my American Idol obsession, even going so far as to attend the American Idols LIVE concert at the MCI Center in DC on my birthday. Even though I was totally decked out in my Constantine t-shirt. Even though when Constantine burst onto the stage belting out Hard to Handle I was all, “Oh, yes you ARE hard to handle, you hawt little Secret Greek Idol Luvah, you! Rawr!” Even though I kept making a break for it down the aisle trying to capture on video his Bohemian Rhapsody. Even though the stupid, hatin’ security guard repeatedly chased me back to my seat yelling, “Stop running in the aisles! It’s against fire code! Hey! Get down off that chair! It’s a safety hazard! Blah blah blah!” to which I cried out, “BUT I’M SHORT!” Even when Carrie came out singing Inside Your Heaven and all the Idols came back out and joined in at the second verse, and I teared up as I swayed and waved my glowstick. You just smiled understandingly at me and said evenly, “I will stand, but I am NOT waving the glowstick.”

That you still willingly attend movies with me despite the sad fact that I am a unrepentant Movie Talker and there is just no reforming me.

That, although you are freakishly strong (right Kalki?), ruggedly sexy, and would rather drive a nail through your thumb with a nailgun (remember when you actually did that?! OUCH.) than have to hit the mall and shop the sale with me, you totally recognize there is no shame in getting in touch with your feminine side and will unabashedly enjoy watching arguably “girly” shows such as Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars with me, as well as old reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And although we used to squabble over the Oil of Olay face lotion (until I finally bought you your own bottle, you big baby) and you often sneak my “special” (read: “pricey”) Aeto Bamboo & Wild Mango Fortifying Hair Mask, I can honestly say I would not want you any other way.

That even though we found ourselves engaged after knowing each other only six weeks, and we almost gave my mother a heart attack when we insisted on being married a mere six weeks after that, I could not have picked a more perfect husband. Luckily! Because good LORD, man! How crazy was THAT?!

That you are an extraordinarily loving and involved father to three of the most precious people in my life. They (and I) are lucky to have you.

I love you, TGIM.
Happy 13th anniversary.

Random Thoughts on a Slow WAH Day

December 28, 2005

I have recently decided that when people ask me “How are you?” the best reply would be “I’m doing swimmingly, thank you!” Because I really enjoy saying “swimmingly.” Also, I think it sounds posh. Bonus.

Last night the kiddos discovered a recipe for Alphabet Pretzels in ZOOM! magazine, and in a burst of domesticity not to be rivaled by even Martha Stewart her very self, set to work intent on making the best damn “MOM” pretzel EVAH! Unfortunately they chose to disregard the very first– and arguably most crucial– instruction: “Check with a grown-up before you start this.” You know, due to the yeast? And the 350 degree oven? And the questionably clean hands? Oh, and the 10 bazillion cups of flour I might have been saving for, I don’t know, baking perhaps in the near future but now must settle for discovering in these nasty, unusable clumps in every nook and cranny of my kitchen? And the honey! Dear God, the HONEY! That being said, how could I refuse to eat the fruits of my children’s labors, even if the first M looked more like a sort of squiggly mountain and the O was decidedly lacking in salt due to a production glitch? It can’t be done. Shiz went down rough, I tell you what, but my kiddos smiles were worth it.

I am so in love with Patrick Park’s song Something Pretty. It’s pop-folksy and melodically poignant and utterly honest and excruciatingly sad, but even with lyrics such as “I’m the open sign that’s always busted/I’m the friend you need, but can’t be trusted,” the song is not lost to defeatism. Dude draws you in and you feel that somehow he– or we, or they– will somehow rise above it all, overcome. It’s beautiful… I don’t know. Maybe it’s just the freaking wicked, old-timey blues sound. Honestly. What’s not to love about a musician with a bluegrass banjo picking it old school?

When one has spent the past four days roaming the house in slippers and pajama pants wondering if showering is truly necessary since no one is around anyway and even though the fridge is full of nothing but three-day-old pumpkin and apple pie, plus a bit of left-over roasted butternut squash and carrots, and even though the milk is almost gone there is really no need to hit the grocery stores just yet as there are still plenty of packets of instant oatmeal and they come in assorted flavors and everything and the juice boxes are still holding up pretty well and no one really needs whipped cream on the pie anyway, my question is this: is it time to stage an intervention? Um, just wondering.

Yo, yo, yo, dawgs! American Idol 5! It’s coming! It’s COMING! My wee Ryan! The Dawg Pound! Tantastic Paula! Simon the Man-Breasted! All I have to say is you better lose yourself in the music, the moment… this opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo? Snap back to reality, ooh, there goes gravity… Woo!… Okay, fine, maybe Eminem said that, but still. You know? AI5! It’s friggin’ coming!

How to Amuse Me and Horrify Me at the Exact Same Time

December 27, 2005

When your younger sister and I have to run to Target to find the perfect birthday present for her little friend’s Almost Sleepover Birthday Party (a present which Birthday Girl’s mother dictated MUST be a Bratz Doll but not any of the Bratz Rock Angelz series because Birthday Girl already has all of those, and probably not any of the Bratz Midnight Dance dolls, and no Mini Bratz–chintzy!– oh, and definitely not any of those Bratz Babyz because they are creepy– have you seen them?!– and they give Birthday Girl nightmares. And absolutely NO boy Bratz. But any other Bratz doll should be fine.) and you are left to your own devices, and I begin to feel a bit guilty for leaving you behind, especially around lunchtime, and I call to ask if you want me to bring you something to eat, just go ahead and cheerfully inform me that I don’t need to bring you a thing as you have already made yourself a super good lunch: Doritos, vanilla ice cream, and hot chocolate.

Further, as you have officially named December 27th “Marshmallow Day” and have licked and sticked to your face all the mini marshmallows left in the pantry before dancing wildly around the house to the music from Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (which, incidentally, can still be heard blaring in the background), I may want to pick up another bag on the way home.

“Peace, the world in solemn stillness lay…”

December 23, 2005

choice 2

Merry Christmas, all! I mean, Season’s Greetings! We hope you are all happy and well, and that you have been good little boys and girls so Santa Claus, er, I mean Saint– no, that’s not it… Wait, how can I even think of endorsing a man as Eurocentric, closed-minded, and disapproving as Santa Claus, a man completely obsessed with rigid value judgments like ‘naughty’ and ‘nice’? I mean, who is he to say?! Huh?! JUST WHO DOES HE THINK HE IS?! GOSH!

Sooooo, moving on… in honor of the season, how about a few Christmas Carols, oops, I mean Holiday Ballads of Strictly Secular Joy? Those are always fun this time of year! Oh! Here’s one we all know and love! I’ll start. Feel free to sing along if you know the words:

I’m dreaming of a multicultural non-denominational winter solstice,
Just like the ones I used to know…

Pardon? You don’t know that one? Oh. Well, surely you know this one!:

Frosty the Snowperson! Despite the effects of global warming was a jolly, self-actualizing, soul…

What? Come on, you know, with the catchy “Thumpity thump, thump” chorus? No? Huh.

Um, Rudolph the Differently-abled Reindeer-American? No!… seriously?!


You know, all this politically-correct holiday hoopla has me a little stressed out, I don’t mind admitting. Add that stress to the expense of family pictures, Christmas cards, postage for Christmas cards, shipping and handling charges, gratuitous lighting displays and assorted festive paraphernalia, Black Friday impulse buys, presents for kids, spouse, parents, grandparents, co-workers, bosses, teachers, and party hostesses, not to mention the last-minute gifts I had to buy– full-price! In crowded malls!– to reciprocate gifts from People With Whom I Did Not Until Recently Know I Was Exchanging Gifts, and boy howdy! I’ve got myself a panic attack waiting to happen, I tell you what.


Is it New Year’s yet?

Aw, I kid. Kidding! I’m a kidder. That’s what I do. My family and I are in fact quite full of the holiday spirit and are feeling extraordinarily thankful for the blessings we have received this year. If it takes dancing on the edge of financial ruin with the Spirit of Pagan Commercial Greed to have these warm, tender feelings in our hearts, well, then so be it!

Now, a little about our year, snapshot-style:



* Six-year-old, Allison, waiting for Hannah to finish with soccer practice (therefore alone for once in the backseat of my car), belting out Emmy Rossum’s Angel of Music from Phantom of the Opera over and over and over and OVER while thoroughly engrossed in perfecting her performance by singing into the silvery backside of my iPod (which makes a fab impromptu compact mirror, FYI). Almost in tune and utterly heartfelt, to boot.

* Allison, (while visiting AZ this summer) on a drive with Grandma Sue to the neighboring town of Show Low (which is a good 50 miles away from St. Johns), apparently contracting a bad case of diarrhea of the mouth: After a solid half-hour of talk, talk, talking her way through Barbies, outdoor swimming pools, the scenery, the shapes of clouds, Pioneer Day parades, Pokemon, and what she would be buying with her allowance at Walmart, she announced to everybody in the car (Grandma, Aunt Kim, and her Game-Boy engrossed bro and sis), “I’m tired. Everybody be quiet so I can sleep.” She then proceeded to bitterly complain about the noise level in the car for the next ten minutes until they arrived at their destination. Yep. She’s a keeper.

bball* Seven-year-old, Hannah, getting down with her mercenary capitalist self when– after a season of timidly skirting around the soccer ball but never really coming into contact with it– she took her Daddy up on his promise of a dollar if she made “just one goal” by immediately penetrating the fray, kicking the ball right out of the cluster of girls, and (with a pack of Blue Dolphins hot on her heels), taking that ball to the net and KICKING IT IN.

* Hannah, creating a dioramic world of red-scarfed, pipe-cleaner reindeer, free-standing pipe-cleaner heart trees, origami snowflakes, and bejeweled Polly Pockets, blending almost indistinguishably against a lovingly painted background in an old cardboard box.

cherry blossoms 24 td

* Nine-year-old, Tanner, wearing his (thankfully!) lightweight airplane pajamas under his clothes all day at school because changing was apparently not an option in his mad rush to beat his sisters to the last two packets of instant oatmeal. Maple-flavored.

* Tanner, that weekend his sisters took a much-needed break from their Phantom of the Opera Love Fest and indulged themselves in a little R & R with Barbie of Swan Lake. To demonstrate his displeasure, Tanner would periodically walk into the living room and make deprecating remarks regarding the movie. Now, the girls were so involved in the world of beautiful princesses and unicorns and enchanted forests that they were not a bit bothered by this. I, however, being less enraptured, grew more and more impressed with my son’s dogged perseverance and critical ingenuity. He was brilliant! A veritable geyser of wit and sharp punditry! A genius of epic proportions! An illustrious career in political commentary or the entertainment industry surely awaited him! I was lost in dreams of his greatness!…

Until he walked in, took a quick look at Odette and Lila the Unicorn deep in conversation onscreen, then said in his very best disparaging nine-year-old voice, “Well, that’s just stupid. I mean, REAL unicorns can’t talk!”We laughed him out of the room, poor boy. Ah well, a political career ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

* Aaron, kicking it old school in our bedroom, drinking hot chocolate and watching a fresh episode of Veronica Mars with me. Oh, and making comments such as, “Ooooh, Logan shouldn’t have done that, huh Cat?! Veronica is gonna be ticked!”

* Aaron coming home from a day of mountain biking with the guys from work, all covered in dirt, darkening bruises, a wicked looking gash on his shin, and a huge smile on his face. When I was more horrified by his injuries than duly impressed by his obvious prowess on the bike trails, and asked him what the other guys looked like, he informed me that he, unlike the wussies he biked with, didn’t believe in mamby-pambying it down the hill. “I left ’em in my dust!” he bragged. “I only crashed twice, and the second time I hit a rock and– woo!– flew right over the handlebars! Oh, but don’t worry, Cat! I was wearing my helmet and was only out for, like, a minute.” Yep. He’s so not biking with the boys anymore.

* Cat (me!), to whom something quite unexpected happened… Something I wrote– me, Cat, ME!– was selected for publication in The Washington Post! And they PAID ME! Actual MONEY! And they wanted my PICTURE! Which, sure, was scary and a little strange, but whatev. I was all, “Hey. It’s your readership at stake.”

I totally wore my Constantine t-shirt.

Honestly. Paying ME to write? Suckers.Okay, Aaron says that is quite enough of my silliness, thank you very much. Whatever. Way to kill the glee, Aaron. Gosh.

Okay, okay, truly (and I do mean this, really!) may the spirit of Christmas fill your hearts– this year and always– on that O, so Holy Night.

With love and peace,
Cat, Aaron, and family

Merry Freaking Christmas!

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