Thursday, December 31, 2009

stuck on this

A friend handed me this as we were walking out of Barnes & Noble last night. It's a magnet, but I might wear it as a necklace:

Saturday, December 26, 2009

a christmas in pictures

It's a wrap:

Lights in our house for the very time = huge success:

Presents hiding everywhere:

Arriving at Mom's:

...with care:

My careful opener:

Reilly gave everyone money. Queue music:

Alyssa is the only 21 year old who can pull off Spongebob pants:

I only wanted two things. The new mega lint roller...

And this. Out with the old, in with the new:

If this moment has been on facebook it would have said, "Reilly just became a fan of PEA COATS!"

The ubiquitous text break:

Reilly opening the mega Pet Smart gift card Quinn got her...

...and the hug heard 'round the world. (Sniff.)

Some people carry jumper cables, while others opt for the deluxe standard sized travel Scrabble game. With my classic board and my smaller travel board, I literally have no excuse not to be playing at all times. Bring it on:

Game on:

Um, Alyssa left us all in the cold with a double/triple on 'dioramas' and 'exit.' Obviously the board is cursed and I'll have to exchange it. I will add that Reilly immediately played a double/triple and screeched into the lead:

Reilly's life as a multi-national Guitar Hero superstar begins. (She kicks it yo!)

As does Quinn's life of sniping and warfare with Is and Titey:

And to all a good night:

Friday, December 25, 2009

on the twelfth day of christmas, leave no sale behind

Sometimes the best way to allay the OMG-my-wrapping-crisis-has-become-Armageddon on christmas eve is to hop in Kendra's caravan and get a tattoo. This is what we did yesterday, early. Did I mention Kendra carries a cattle prod, can't always parallel park, often interrupts riveting stories, about which she asked, to point out a chicken, and always looks to the ocean for direction when downtown? Despite the early morning murderous fog, caramel brulee lattes boosted my patience and in we went.

Fun squared, or triangled, in some cases. ;):

Kendra's Derby wife, Angie. I was jealous that Kendra got a lefty:

Alas, I got a lefty too :)

Damn, you'll find this scene in virtually all situations nowadays:

Sam and I laughing at the 10.5 years it will take before she is confident enough in the exactitude of her design to put it to skin:

Bye ladies, for now...and I don't care if the position is called 'blocker,' I stand by being a 'basher,' you'll see...

on the eleventh day of christmas, the lucky bird got some early worms

I'm not in it for the presents. Ever. I can never think of what I want, and instead devour my lists for my kids, family and friends like liquid crack. It is no secret that shopping is my narcotic of choice, but I always forget that I am on people's lists as well. And since I never ask for anything, my poor people have to conjure up their own ideas. This year, which has overflowed with joy and peace, rivaling fucking Pleasantville every step of the way, friends and family really rose far and away above the usual, and I just have to say, the thermostat in my heart rose for the first time in a long time.

Now, I have wicked anxiety about receiving and opening gifts. Really bad. Like I can't do it. I am to opening presents what Howie Mandel is to shaking hands. And yet, people seem invested in my receiving more than the package.

Well before christmas, I was lavished with a veritable bounty of the most thoughtful, generous, and downright there-just-are-no-suitable-adjectives gifts, all early enough to grease my wheels for the season.

Here are some faves:

The rainbow musical note necklace from Jennifer. Seriously, I can think of no more meaningful, happy symbol, and she assured me it doesn't mean I'm limited the the Indigo Girls, lol. I am so in love with this:

Next up, I was lured into a really elaborate and sweet scheme and ended up walking away in these heavenly alternative to my much-loved but predictable Danskos. Thank you Debe, you are the best jerk ever:

Just yesterday, after excorcising the christmas out of myself, I got another perfectly-timed "survival kit" from Dyan, and wanted to be all poignant and cry, but instead I laughed my ass off. First of all, she put 2,000 sticky notes explaining everything, such as the would-be-lame stocking, saying, "Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a goddamned stocking five minutes before christmas? It was either this or a western boot." Ha ha ha. Then a dvd of an actual movie her family made, hand sanitizer to hang of my belt loops--I'm debating the likelihood of using that one, the Bitch word magnets, which are absolutely splendid, these incredible little storage containers that lock that I might just keep like that. She also sent coffee-coloured Sharpies and said if I already had these, she would be truly impressed by my Sharpie affinity. I did not in fact have those but my Sharpie hoarders nest will kick her ass! There was also a really sweet magnet with a quote from a child, and some irreverent gum I will never open because it has Barack Obama's face on it. The gifts were awesome, but it was her card that kinda branded my heart with a white-hot reminder.

Tonight Susannah and Keagan came over and we did a little early switch-a-roo, as Keagan ate his rice. He is so beautiful I would eat him, and so sweet. The kids and I loved watching him open hid presents, using his "chocksticks" and literally hurling his punching bag across the house, knocking over the bowl of (ahem) chocolate sprinkles Reilly was eating as cereal. Shut up I had wrapping fever. This was a happy night:

Keagan helping Mommy open her presents:

And then, the perfect, most whimsical, warm, fantastic gift ever, and I'm still wearing them, from Sock Dreams:

They left me staring down the business end of one hell of a pile of naked presents, and as I went in to assess the situation, I heard a knock at the door. Eventually I asked who it had been, and Reilly said, "Someone brought you dinner for when you're wrapping." Um, yum? Perhaps I won't have to eat

And of course the early gift I got myself today, but that's another blog. I'm so thankful to have amazing people around, and for all their gestures of affection this season, especially since it's so effing late I'm pretty sure I'll miss real christmas.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

on the tenth day of christmas, there was no room at the inns

After the most raucous shopping trip in recent memory, during which Reilly smuggled Bella into the store and Quinn popped into Figaro's and picked up a large pizza on his debit card and ate it in the car, Debe and I realized we had never eaten in our lives. Starving on a Sunday night in Salem = death, and the lower the blood sugar gets, the more complicated simple things become. First we hit Venti's, a favourite haunt, where the atmosphere was unusually casual, as was the food, which was all set out buffet-style. Todd and I have known Dino for eons and I was a little taken aback by the presentation. That's when a small, friendly, and hella drunk girl announced that it was the staff christmas dinner, omg omg omg. We laughed so hard. They were pointing to ham-ish things and rolls, but we accidentally left in and drove away in 7.5 seconds.

Next up, Los Arcos, where I've been known to dine six nights in a row, possibly as recently as last week. It was 8:31pm, and the sign said they closed at 8:30, but I decided it would be so incredibly charming to walk in, oblivious to their signage, and ask for some food in Spanish that we would have our enchiladas pronto. But the charm was lost on them entirely and they replied by saying there was no food anywhere in West Salem. Hay caramba!

Suddenly I was struck by all sorts of genius and suggested we watch some shit movie at Northern Lights strictly for the food. Debe has never been. I told her to pull in so I could peruse the flicks, and she literally pulled right up to the handle of the door, prompting two security tweens to rush out. They were somewhat worried, I was nonchalant. They explained the last time someone pulled up like that it was to jack the register. (Um, hello, all for $90.00?) "No," I said, "She's not robbing you, she's from California," and we left, laughing again, but closer to death. Finally, just as I began to think of the Donner Party, I remembered Thompson's...DUH! It's no longer the crown jewel of my culinary circuit, but damn that fish was good, and we met some great people, from whom we were seated a centimeter away, so we're obviously family now.

So after an hour of inn-hopping, we finally found our dimly-lit manger. Oh shit, did I just liken the Baby Jesus to some cod? I'm going to post this really fast so I don't know.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

on the ninth day of christmas, i just have to know...

Has anyone ever tried to rush through World Market?

If you haven't, here's a hint: Seven minutes equals approximately $461.00, sweet Jesus.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

on the eighth day of christmas, these are the people in my neighbourhood

Today my to-do list apparently took steroids. I kept staring at it hoping I was drunk, rabid, or in Wonderland, but it only grew and grew. The worst is dreaded returns. Christ. After waiting in line for almost a half an hour at Fred Meyer because the darling tween ahead of me paid for a $400-something money order in ... and this is not hyperbole, pre-counted pennies, I made my swift return, fought off mean thoughts, and set out to get last minute things for Reilly and my mom. Only, when I turned around, I saw this little Who head staring up at me, with an even littler face staring out of her coat. Yep, it was Reilly. She and Todd were shopping. I asked her if she was supposed to have Bella in the store, and she shrugged mischievously. I told her to say she was in training to be a seeing eye dog if anyone asked, lol. She decided to come with me, so my plans to finish up her shopping were dashed. No worries, we'd just round out my ma's loot right? Right. Until my mom came around the corner. She wasn't holiday shopping. No. She just needed some Benadryl, one random item, to slay my plans and render me with an un-crossed-off list. It was totally surreal. I kept expecting to see Quinn, who was home alone, pop around the corner, having hopped a bus, just in time to see the horrific rubber chicken with a squeezable prolapsed rectum Mom and
Reilly insisted on getting for his stocking. So with Fred Meyer being of no use to me, we went to dinner. With Bella. She stayed in Rei's coat but then I got slack in my sneakery and asked Rei to go to up and order something to take something home for Quinn. That's when we got the boot. We were only halfway through our dinner, so that was totally awkward. Thankfully, they were slammed so we just stayed put and finished eating, which I realize is not the holiest of virtues to teach my daughter, who got a wicked case of the giggles, but neither is commemorating the Baby Jesus with a rubber chicken whose innards you squeeze out.

(Disclaimer: I'm no pro, so for now, video footage posts wherever the hell it wants to post, regardless of how I set it.)

Monday, December 14, 2009

on the seventh day of christmas, i dig chicks

So I love these shriveled, borderline disgusting upper-echelon Circus Peanuts, which dress up as chicks and rabbits for easter, and are called, coincidentally, Chicks & Rabbits. I take a lot of heat for this, but there are the occasional converts which make all the heckling worthwhile. But I only love the yellow ones. The blue and orange ones are bitter and they can suck it. I buy the bags that have the most yellows and don't reduce myself to the lowly colours until the tremors kick in. Some people claim there is no difference in taste, and they are obviously impaired. Yellow Chicks & Rabbits rock my world, for a few weeks each year.

The other night I stopped by Jacob's to deliver his birthday gift and was ushered inside by his uber-friendly, hospitable mom, and promptly served half a Costco cake. I hadn't been there in some time, and it was really nice to catch up with Jacob and Jen. Suddenly talk turned to my notorious lust for the Chicks and before I knew it, Jen appeared with this santa bag of yellow ones. I was so afraid I was dreaming. Last year she bought like 25 bags after easter for five cents at some Bi-Mart in Newport or something, and as the year wore on and they shared with others, they confiscated the yellow ones pour moi. I was so touched. I mean, love see no colour, but my taste buds don't have eyes, they just know yellows when they get them.

Thank you guys so much, and no, no fistfuls, I'm savouring them. Nonetheless, if this goose is going to get fat(ter), what better way to pack it on than these glorious Chicks. Jacob and Jen, you rock.

Friday, December 11, 2009

on the sixth day of christmas, i went coastal

Amidst the merriment and mania of the holiday, a swell of nostalgia has been pulling me to my old hometown, Newport, earlier this week. I spent two days there, peering deep beneath all the superficial changes to reacquaint myself with the city that changed my life a hundred times over.

Upon pulling into town around 9pm, I went straight to my high school. It's been 14 years since I was a Newport Cub (holy shit), and I was surprised by the emotion it stirred. Once upon a time the campus quad was the epicenter of my life, and now it feels like a wrinkle in time.

When we moved to Oregon in 1990, we planned to live in Monmouth, but a day trip to the ocean led us to Newport, a chapter of our lives that spanned 13 years.

I failed to anticipate that our most viable eating options late at night would be to knock on someone's door, but thankfully, we went down to the Bayfront and ended up at the Rogue, which was utterly surreal. Our host, a Quaker named Reuben, was also the manager and he welcomed us warmly and announced us that he's not capable of making most of what was on the menu. It was great like that. I asked for the turkey sandwich and he winced. Upon further perusal, we looked quizzically at the macaroni and cheese. That, he said, he could make. Probably. It took almost an hour and a half, and he had to read directions, and we were nervous. Meanwhile, our Sprites were running low and well, someone had to keep this place running:

La Quinta, Newport's finest:

My first Newport sunrise in 11 years:

Breakfast at the legendary Georgie's Beachside Grill with my fellow NHS classmate Dawna and two of her kids, Cody and Savannah:

Our first house in Newport, in Nye Beach, where we lived just long enough to meet Mesina across the street before moving into something bigger. This house has been renovated, as long as we're being honest:

Who knew that in this humble abode lived a 12 year old who would prove to be one of my eternal heartstrings. Can you believe this Mes?

Next up, Sand Castle Toys, specialty store for some christmas shopping:

It took everything I had not to buy this, sweet Jesus:

Our house in Makai, where Mom and Chris lived for 13 years:

The first apartment Todd and I ever had, with three month old Quinn. Ours was bottom front, #1:

The view from our apartment, I used to walk my Quinny along this road:

The cottage on Cottage Street Mom into which Mom moved once the nest was mostly empty:

Newport's Performing Arts Center, where my bff Zach and I were cast in A Company of Wayward Saints our senior year (I will never post pictures of that, lol):

Pizza Cucina, Newport's finest pizza parlour, where Todd and I met in 1994:

The world's loooooooooooooooongest Stephen King corridor, especially amusing when one is sopping wet just out of the hot tub, wearing a hotel towel (a.k.a. washcloth):

Wi-Fi rocks, but tracking down the grave site of an old friend who committed suicide sucks, especially when you discover he's all the way in Union. Worse still is having enough friends who have taken their lives as to warrant a day of visiting sites:

Visiting the grave of my dear friend from high school, Brian. My heart will never fully mend from this loss. Brian confided his intent in me the day before he took his life. I was 16, and terrified to reach out for him. I was afraid of seeming dramatic. I decided I would force him to join me in speaking to someone the next day but he shot himself that night, just as he said. Having just lost Jon, and spending the evening trying to find Stefan, was overwhelming. I have never driven faster to see my kids:

I took a rose to his grave on the 3rd of every month for almost five years, but it has been so long it was like realizing it for the first time:

This was a much-needed trip, seeing old friends, old teachers, old haunts, our homes, and reminiscence that was at times astonishing, dismal, foreign, thrilling, and sad. If we hadn't come here for the day back in the spring of 1990, Quinn and Reilly wouldn't exist. So it was all worth it.