Saturday, December 23, 2006

New Addition to the Family!

Yup - we've added a new member to our family. No, we didn't wait nine months for its arrival and no it's not fury with four legs. 'Shroom's and Lolli's Christmas present from their parents is their very first pet - a betta fish.

After a few days of talking up the fish, the kids had decided they wanted a red one (although we had to convince Lolli that pink bettas were not that common). We had purchased a neon blue (kids' choice) tank and some multi-colored marbles (again, kids' choice). I managed to dig up an old aquarium rock from our old broken 15-gallon tank.

[SIDE NOTE: Air Boss and I, B.C. (Before Children) had a hexagonal tank with about 18 fish - all of which died the same day. Long story short, I woke up one morning, smelled something fishy in the living room and screamed for Air Boss to "get over here!" as I saw all our fish floating belly-up on the surface of the water. They were all cooked to a greyish-white color. The heater's thermostat was broken and the fish were literally cooked to death. Tragic. Very tragic.]

By the time we got to the pet store, the kids were more fascinated by a cage full of albino white mice. Ick. Double ick. Ick. Ick. They didn't seem at all interested in fish.

Well, we got 'Shroom and Lolli to focus on the task at hand and in the end, they picked a beautiful blue fish with faint red streaks at the base of its fins.

"What shall we name him?" I asked just as Air Boss was about to pour Mr. Blue Betta into the new (very colorful) tank.

"Omigee!" was Lolli's quick response.

"Yeah, Omigee!" was 'Shroom's agreeing vote.

Omigee (pronounced "oh-ME-gee") it is. He's happily swimming about in his new home - very glad the over zealous and very curious preschoolers are in bed and no longer tapping his tank and smashing their noses on it.

Welcome to your new home, Omigee!

Oh, and in case you were wondering, "where did 'Omigee' come from?" it all originated from a little stuffed car Lolli received as a gift. Although she never saw Disney's "Cars" movie, she became quite attached to the little Italian car named Luigi (voiced by Tony Shalhoub). Somehow 'Luigi' morphed into 'Omigee' in her little toddler voice.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Big Lights, Big City

Yesterday was our first trip as a family of four to NYC. Our goals for this trip:

* see about a gagillion Christmas lights
* stand beneath the BIG tree at Rock Center
* step into kiddie-heaven (i.e. FAO, as in FAO Schwarz) and last, but not least,
* don't get run over by those darn taxis

Dear husband, Air Boss, was quite the man as he maneuvered the car in and out of crazy city traffic--like a helo on a rescue mission--where every hour is rush hour. We forgot how little airspace there is in the city and how easy it was for the GPS to lose satellite. Yup - we were driving blind (at least for seconds here and there). Air Boss made it to work this morning with about five hours of sleep.

Four yr old 'Shroom and his two yr old sister Lolli were great on the trip as well. Can't complain as we had just dragged them through 22 hours of driving to and from Toronto just a mere four days ago (more on that trip at a later date).

Overall the trip was fun but very short--for every hour we were in the city, we spent about two hours driving. All in all, I thought it was fun (a bit stressful at times and I wasn't even driving!) and I believe we accomplished all our goals.

Here's my best guess as to what each of us took away from that trip:

me: although my blood pressure rises immediately upon entering Manhattan, I can see how so many people are attracted to this city that never sleeps (or is that Vegas?)

Air Boss: there's so much more to see than what four hours allowed us

'Shroom: "I see one , two, three taxis! Mommy, there are three taxis here!" (when in actuality there were about eight to ten within yelling distance)

Lolli: no real thoughts here as she was too busy kissing the noses of all the FAO teddy bears within her reach

Merry Christmas all you folks in the Big Apple!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Apathetic Shoplifting

The shoplifting suspect was an older gentleman with salt and pepper hair. I didn't notice him at first until I saw him throw a decorated Christmas wreath into his shopping cart.

His action seemed so unusual of one picking out a Christmas wreath that I took a more deliberate look at him. His demeanor was anything reflective of the holiday joy and his sour expression was further accented by the fact that his wreath was haphazzardly thrown in the shopping cart on top of his groceries. His BAGGED groceries.

It suddenly dawned on me what was going on.

"Excuse me, sir," I began without really thinking through the possible ramifications of what I was about to do. "Did you pay for that wreath?"

The man glared at me and walked off. Although no words were offered from him as either affirmation or denial of his action, his stoney silence and rapid walk was enough for me to put two and two together.

"Did you take that wreath without paying for it?! Mister, did you steal that wreath?!" I yell at his backside as he ignored my questions. Somehow I just had a hard time letting it go.

What surprised me was that there were lots of other people around me. What this man did was an overt--not secretive--attempt to take something without paying for it. It was almost as if he was challenging someone--anyone--to call him on it. And I did.

But no one else even raised an eyebrow. Not even after I bombarded the man with accusational questions. They didn't even look at ME funny. They just went on their own business as if neither he nor I existed.

I don't know if that man was ever caught but I believe I did right by reporting it to an employee of the supermarket (albeit, it was a young teen who was retreiving shopping carts from the parking lot).
I'm trying to figure out if I'm more apalled by the brazen burglary of a Christmas wreath or the shameless apathy of those around me.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

What Is the Meaning of All This?!

I've been so wrapped up with this holiday season (pun not intended, although quite apropos) that I've been feeding my family out of the freezer--literally. Frozen veggies, potstickers, chicken nuggets - anything that Costco sells in the freezer department that can be warmed/cooked in the microwave has been the staple of our dinners. And I'm not proud of it.

This year instead of the usual 10-12 dozen cookies I bake for school teachers, bus drivers, neighbors, and friends, I've decided to go "low-key" and try my hand at making creative soap bars. I've even tried to have the kids help out by making colors and mixing the melted glycerin. Ha - I should have known better. I'm a perfectionist and somehow preschoolers mixing colors into pleasant soap hues isn't exactly a realistic expectation.

Oh - and there's the Christmas cards. Photocards with handmade paper inserts for a personal handwritten message. Complete with stickers ("artistically" displayed by the aforementioned preschoolers) colored (or smudged) by Crayola. What was I thinking?! This quick-project-done-in-front-of-the-TV became two nights of intense labor.

Yes, the kids do know it's Jesus' birthday. They know about Santa. And they thoroughly enjoy seeing all the colorful lights out at night. But really, what is the meaning of all this craziness to which we all somehow allow ourselves to succomb? How do my soap, hand-made Christmas notes, freezer dinners, late-night online shopping "excursions" all relate to this season?

I know and yet I don't know.

I've been encouraged by my dear friend Laurie to take these little snowmen books and write a kids' story for my children. Something that will bring meaning of this season down to their level of understanding. Perhaps I can salvage what's left of this month and make it significant and important and not chaotic and trivial.

Well, here's to making the most of this Christmas. I've given up on the salon-quality soaps (although I have a few more "definitely-one-of-a-kind" soaps to make) and who cares if the handmade cards totally look slapped together. I have something more essential to do.

I going to write the story of Christmas for my kids . . . and for me.

Friday, December 1, 2006

The Jacket Saga Has Ended

One of the many items that I currently own but will "ditch" (sell, give away, donate, toss, lose, etc.) before the westward migration will be my thick royal blue Columbia jacket. I've had this jacket for seven or eight years. The jacket looks great, and despite the age on the jacket, it looks hardly used. Columbia makes some good stuff - or at least it made me a durable jacket.

This jacket, which slightly resembles "Cookie Monster blue," has kept me warm and toasty in the long and frigid New Englanders. I don't know how many blizzards the jacket has kept me warm while I shoveled snow and cleared off my car. It had even protected me as I slid down ski slopes slightly bruised and definitely ungracefully on my arse.

. . . but I hear that the winters in LA aren't that frigid and I'm not even sure if the temperatures dip low enough to warrant a New Englander to even break out the fleece (well, maybe a fleece vest). Who knows - I've yet to learn about those rainy winters.

Anyway, I figured I would try to sell my jacket and use whatever I manage to get for it toward the purchase of a new (or used) jacket that will get me through one more winter yet will be versatile enough so that I can wear during the mild winter temps in SoCal. Bye bye thick polyfilled jacket--hello, three-in-one jacket systems.

To make a long story short (or "a long story longer" as my sister always says I managed to do when narrating an event), I tried Craigslist (interested parties who never showed up) and eBay. I had taken numerous photos (one would think I was selling a house--which I will, later on) and carefully washed, dried and packaged it so it would be ready to ship.

Two eBay postings later, my auction ended with no bids. I feel guilty buying a new jacket while I still have my old (but faithful and immacuate) blue jacket. Guess what I'll be wearing while I'm shoveling out from under this season's first snow storm?

You guessed it. I'll be dressed in Cookie Monster blue.