Saturday, December 29, 2007

When am I?

Vacations are weird things. Without any sort of routine, I have no idea what day or time it is. Well, time I roughly know, but early sunset in winter makes anything after 5pm a wild guess. Among the many interrupted books on my shelf is Henry Adams' Education, one of the more poignant aspects of which is that he considers himself to be an eighteenth-century person (due to family history and personal proclivities) stuck in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
I guess in educational aspects you can't be anything but backward-looking. But there is something deeper than that going on here. In a sense, everyone is an amalgamation of one's own formative years in confront- and collabor-ation with one's parents' formative years.
In my case, I think it makes me a mix of the tail end of the Cold War as lived in Berlin (also known as the Eighties) with a dash of Fifties' California and post-WWII Berlin. Happy Days as written by Heinrich Boell, if you will.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Julie's idea

I hope to do it justice here. It arose from seeing some of the new Playmobil toys and noticing the warning label translated into multiple languages.

She proposes something along the lines of:

GB: Ingestion of product has deleterious effects.
US: Keep this stuff out of your mouth.

I'd go one step further and keep the US as the GB one and let evolution take care of the rest. Wait. Maybe that's what Playmobil has planned anyway.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Coco Tuesday

Christmas was bountiful. Was it ever, yikes.
Coco is at an in-between age. On the one hand he'll just stop unwrapping presents in order to play with one that strikes his fancy. On the other hand he'll unwrap something and then say, "Now you can go to Target to get me that Headbangers Bowling game and wrap it and put it under the tree for me."

Monday, December 24, 2007

Madge Monday

I'll tell you what's cruel and unusual punishment: getting kids all hyped up about Christmas, putting gifts under the tree, then giving them a few days off school and telling them to be patient. Better yet: getting their greed all amped up and then telling them they're overprivileged.
It's ironic, though. Madge now understands the need to wait and therefore gets impatient with Coco, who doesn't.
And then there's the preliminary to the main event: the comparative under-the-tree package count. Whoopeeeee.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Going Package-y

Which means, not quite postal.
While Coco was at school, I went to the post office to send off some belated gifts - belated by kid-free standards, early by family-laden ones. At the window, finally, I was confronted by an employee who informed me that my re-used Amazon box couldn't be used as-was because it had advertising on it. No problem, I thought.
"Could you just sell me the postage for it now and I'll take care of the advertising at home?"
Apparently that was not possible because, once the postage was on it, I couldn't handle it again. Which, I believe, is bullsh*t. He just left out a bunch of info. He's allowed to tell me the postage and sell me the stamps. What he meant, I think, was that he couldn't put on one of his pre-printed deals for the exact postage - and, of course, that he was too lazy to do it the other way.
I said, "Okay, can you just tell me the postage for it, then? I'd like to know."
After he weighed it he said it was above blah-blah ounces and therefore had to go Priority anyway.
Then he reluctantly revealed that I could use the Priority Mail tape to tape over the logos on the box. Which I did to everyone's rejoicing.
An elderly lady in line behind me leaned close to me as he was busy with something else and said, "Battle well fought."
Which I find odd because I wasn't really out to battle anyone - I was just doing my infuriatingly slow maneuvering, trying to make sure I got all the details right. A Columbo, of sorts.
When I can't flirt with the employees, this works as well, if not better.
Come to think of it, that's probably how I ended up with the lovely wife I have - infuriatingly slow maneuvering: a Columbo of love.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


I'm not sure what Boxing Day is, but we had a pre-boxing setup day today. In the span of an hour and a half, DHL, UPS, FedEx, and the USPS made a visit with a Holiday Bonanza.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


On another walk with the kids, we went by the hardware store that has Christmas decorations in the window, alongside the perfect stocking-stuffer DirtDevil 9.2.
One of the decorations was a kneeling Santa who had removed his hat in order to bow his bald pate in the direction of a baby in a hay thingie (trough?).
Madge said, "Why is he doing that?"
I said, "I have no idea. It makes as much sense as a crucified bunny at Easter."
And, you know what, I think she got the point (the point being, of course, that Daddy's really obnoxious).

Aww is Vanity

We came out of the grocery store yesterday and I saw a nineties buick with vanity plates that said: AWW-DUN. Leaning against the car was someone New Jersey spit out, parka with fake fluffy fur, cigarette from fingers, hair greased back.
Now, is this guy just finished with something or other or is he actually a somewhat literate loan collector?

In this city, it wouldn't surprise me.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Coco Tuesday

It's Coco's imitation of George Clooney, I think. Or his equivalent of the Zoolander "Blue Steel" pose, "Red Gummies."

Monday, December 17, 2007

Madge Monday

Madge can be quite sensitive. Apparently she's been feeling bad for Coco for a long time. She thinks he may not be too smart because he had to, gulp, repeat Pre-K.

And she's not buying that everything before K is Pre-K.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Hide and Oops

Let's just say that playing hide and seek can be lots of fun, but can become uncomfortable when it is played in a very small apartment in the few days before Christmas.

On a similar note, I was guilty this the other week when we were at a playdate and the host had dressed as a pirate and I joined in the fun by being First Mate Snoop:
"Well, harrr, let's see what's in this treasure chest. A bunch of blankets and ... [closes lid hastily] more blankets."

When I retold this awkward moment to the host kid's mom (who was absent from the playdate), I tried to talk around the fact that I found presents and referred merely to hidden treats. To which she replied, "Oh, my mom stays here a lot and she's a big pothead."

This was one of the rare situations in which I enjoyed being misunderstood.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Ronald who?

Coco's way of saying things is still a source of joy.
He's not very original in calling the fast food chain "Old McDonald's," but I believe he is when he calls the spokesclown "Olmec."
In order to differentiate from the Burger King equivalent, "Toltec."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Anti-book club

Had another playdate today. Fun stuff, because Coco and his friend play well and the au pair is relaxed enough to just hang out and read or check email or whatever and not force a conversation.
She is still reading the same book she was reading last week. I think it's as much a matter of getting familiar with the language as it is a matter of following a story, especially since she says the book isn't very good. I asked her why she didn't just put the book down if it's no good and she just smiled and shrugged and said that she doesn't do that.
I could see the whole thing made her uncomfortable, like suggesting to a certain generation to just throw away leftover food or keeping a DVD past the due date and resigning oneself to paying the overdue fees.
It's really bugging me. Isn't it a bit like taking a bite from an apple, noting how mealy and slightly rotten it is and then deciding to finish it anyway?
I suggested the bad meal analogy and she said she'd not finish a meal, but she will finish the book.
I even offered to pay her for the book if she put it down and picked up a new one, but she wouldn't.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Can't Help Myself

I told myself I wouldn't write anything here that would mortify either of my kids if it were publicly known, and I really hope this will pass that test, though it really depends on their future personalities.
Specifically Madge's.
She was having a playdate this afternoon. I was helping Coco fall asleep since he really wasn't feeling too well - high-ish temperature and his "eyes hurt" - and needed a nap. While we were laying down I heard Madge run to the bathroom and an explosive commotion followed by a giggly whisper. "Psssst, [playdate friend]. Go to my room and get me some underwear, but make sure my dad doesn't notice." Her good friend had to go twice because she couldn't find any the first time.

That won't embarrass her later, will it?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Coco Tuesday

This weekend we got our tree. I put up the lights with Madge's help and Julie's supervision, which was very generous, as the lights are far from even. Then we took a little break. But while we weren't looking, our little elf started taking out some ornaments and gently placing them on the branches. He was in his own little world, awesome to watch. (Madge, of course, pitched in as soon as she noticed and the two of them had the tree done in no time.)

Monday, December 10, 2007

House Envy

Occasionally we go on playdates to houses that are, quite frankly, jaw-dropping.
We were in one such three-story gorgeous thingies today. The kids were watched by the nanny and the cleaning lady was doing her bi-weekly thing (as in twice a week, not every two weeks - right?) and I was trying very hard to just be happy for the people who lived there and not jealous of their twelve- or fifteen-foot ceilings or whatever they were.
The best I could come up with was this:

If I worked the playdate angle, I could probably manage to spend more waking hours in this house than the people who pay the mortgage.

That's not too snarky, is it?

Madge Monday

We have a friend staying over whom we call "Auntie Pumpkin." In a way it's like calling a short person "Stretch" or a bald person "Curly;" in another way the moniker could hardly be more apt.
Anyway, Madge was addressing Christmas cards (yet another advantage to having a kid get bigger) and asked her, "Yo, Pump, what's your ad?"
Time to brush up on my lingo, or ling.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Vigilante Plumbing

There's a plumbing service in the neighborhood called Vigilante.
Not a big deal, but I saw a truck of theirs parked in front of the kids' school the other day.
On its back was a picture of a house and this text:
Are You Comfortable?
Is your home:
To Cold - To Hot - To Dry - To Damp
or just plain uncomfortable?


It wouldn't be so funny if it didn't have the repetition.
I have a feeling their writers were trying to be Shakespearean: Too be or not too be...

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A Treat I Wish I Could Share

It is a special kind of joy to hear a nanny from dee aylaands complain about "Pokemon, Pokemon, Pokemon."
The accent makes it, well, irie. (pock-ee-MAHN comes close)

Coco, full of surprises

We were going to a playdate in the cold when I responded to the au pair's comment about the cold, "Sure is. You need a hat."
Next thing I know Coco takes off his and hands it to her.
(He has a bit of a crush on her.)

Poor Louisa

Thanks to the NYTimes’ Reading Room I have picked up The Education of Henry Adams, by the educatee himself. I haven’t read far (yet) but am quite intrigued.
I’m tempted to pitch one sentence of this book as a movie (probably to Sophia Coppola because I can’t think of another director it might interest). The sentence is:

The life at St. Petersburg was hardly gay for her [Louisa Adams, wife of President-to-be John Quincy]; they were far too poor to shine in that extravagant society; but she survived it, though her little girl baby did not, and in the winter of 1814-15, alone with the boy of seven years old, crossed Europe from St. Petersburg to Paris, in her travelling-carriage, passing through the armies, and reaching Paris in the Cent Jours after Napoleon’s return from Elba.

The movie would end, I guess with the reunification of the couple, now more estranged than ever. It would take a lot of research, so it's lucky for me that the strike is still going on.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Coco Tuesday

Coco's temper is something else.
When he's fed up enough, he tells you to be quiet, and he keeps telling you to be quiet until you say "okay" at which point he shouts at you because you're not quiet. If you try to take the seemingly smart way out by merely nodding, he just keeps repeating himself.
Last Friday was the book sale day for his class and he was supposed to bring in five dollars.
But he didn't want the "five money," he wanted the "one money." When we told him his teachers said to bring in five, but if he were really insistent (we were trying not to be late) a five and a one would be no problem, he'd just have six.
So he tore up the five.

flat tire

Guess whose Crock-knock-offs finally died.

Madge and her friends apparently play a game during recess in which the point (for lack of a better word) is to kick off a shoe as far as possible and then hobble after to retrieve it.

And sandal-shoes were ideal for this game. No more.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Madge Monday

Our snow angel.

We had a sprinkling of snow yesterday, so we went out several times. As a snow lover, I have learned my lesson in childhood. Snow never lasts, so enjoy it while you can. Which means that we dragged out tired heinies to the playground at 7 am on a Sunday morning. On the plus side, though, we were the first to deflower the snow, as it were. And sneaky Madge walked backwards in order to leave misleading tracks.

After warming up, we went to the storage unit to get our sled and tried to make it to the skating rink, but our timing was off and the kids (especially Coco) were freezing in their non-winter boots, so attempted some sledding instead.

Finally, Coco fell asleep around 3:30, so Madge and I trudged to the skating rink.

I highly recommend going on walks with Madge. When she's not preoccupied with anything else, she's a delightful conversationalist.