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Showing posts from December, 2010

Books of the Year

Best Fiction
Room by Emma Donoghue
Jack is 5 and the room he was born in is his whole world; it’s a soundproof, escape-proof garden shed in which he and his mother are held captive. Jack narrates the book, and although he’s definitely precocious his thoughts and views are spot-on five. And the relationship between Jack and his mom is wonderfully drawn; it captures perfectly how a mother can love her child beyond measure (and go to extraordinary lengths to keep him safe and nurtured in spite of difficult circumstances) but still be irritated and worn down by the never-ending demands of motherhood. As soon as I finished this book the first time I immediately started reading it again from the beginning.

More really good fiction:
Mathilda Savitch by Victor Lodato
Abide With Me by Elizabeth Strout
The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker

Guilty Pleasure
Faithful Place by Tana French
This doesn’t quite fit into the category of “well-written literary fiction” like the above books; it’s more of a “can’…

Aunt Fran

Chris's great aunt Fran lives in Indiana and has never met our kids. But not a single birthday or holiday (major or minor) goes by without the girls receiving a card from Fran, and each card has a dollar bill inside, folded to look like a bowtie. Mallory and Phoebe get so excited when they see Aunt Fran's handwriting on an envelope (on Halloween she makes her letters squiggly, to spooky effect). Thanks, Aunt Fran, for thinking of them.

Mallory herself almost never lets a day go by without drawing a picture or writing a letter to someone, so I think she's preparing herself to step into Aunt Fran's shoes in a few decades' time. That thought makes me smile.

Christmas Past

I don't know what I miss more tonight -- the people in this picture, or being young enough to be on the receiving end of all the work that goes into Christmas.

Hope yours is merry and bright.

Santa Claus came to town

Last night I took the girls to the Chamber of Commerce to see Santa Claus. (Santa had originally planned to come to the park gazebo, but it hasn't hit 50 degrees here since December 1, so the town decided that the Chamber office would be more comfortable.) He was a very nice Santa and spent a long time with each child; which was nice for the child of the moment but not so nice for those standing in line. However, we were the the third family to show up so we didn't really have to wait that long.

He and Mrs. Claus, who was sitting beside him in a gingham bonnet, were both a bit judgey when it came to wish lists, though. The girl ahead of us asked for a cell phone. "A cell phone? How old are you?" Santa asked. The girl said she was 10. "I'll have to think hard about that one," Santa said. Mrs. Claus interjected: "Honey, you don't need a cell phone until you start to drive." The girl looked a bit upset. Mrs. Claus leaned over and said to her …

Missed Manners

Both of my Girl Scout troops celebrated the holidays with a gift exchange, so I picked up two packs of Squinkies for Mallory and Phoebe's contributions. "What if the person who gets this already has Squinkies?" Mallory asked.

"Well, that's what gift receipts are for," I said; but then I saw the opportunity for a Teachable Moment. "Actually, though, what DO you do when someone gives you a gift you already have?"

"You say, 'I have this at home!'" Phoebe said.

"Well, no. You should just smile and say 'Thank you!' The person doesn't need to know that you already have it; that might make them feel bad."

"Oh, and then you can take it back to the store and get something else?" Mallory said.

"Yes, you could do that," I said. "But you shouldn't tell the person you're going to do that."

"Yeah, but remember last year? When I got that High School Musical doll from Sarah at my p…

Have yourself a marshmallowy Christmas

If loving this ornament -- Baby Jesus and his parents, as marshmallows, on a graham cracker -- is wrong, I don't want to be right.

Nothing is ever easy

Last night I sang the extended lyric version of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer to the girls -- they'd never heard it that way, amazingly; although I admit they were more perplexed than amused. "Like Monopoly? What does that mean?" Mallory asked halfway through. I soldiered on and gave it the big finish: "You'll go down in history! Like Columbus!"

Phoebe said: "What's a klumpus?"

"Yeah," Mallory said, "I've never heard of a klumpus at Christmas time."

"Columbus," I said. "Like Columbus, like Christopher Columbus."

"Who's that?" Phoebe asked.

"You know," Mallory said. "He was with the Mayflower, and all that."

The rest of the story

So we called lights out at 12:30; Mallory and one friend went right to sleep in the guest room, but the three other girls had to be gently reminded at 1:15 to stay in bed; reprimanded at 2:15 for playing a board game on the bunk bed; and yelled at at 3:10 for doing heaven knows what but it was making a lot of noise. Finally all were asleep; they woke up at 8:00 asking to make friendship bracelets. I fed them doughnuts and went to Phoebe's Daisy Scout meeting at 9:30, for which I felt totally unprepared (Phoebe had spent the night at my in-laws, btw). Got home around 12:30 to Mallory asking me to help her with her new Easy Bake oven and Phoebe asking me to set up the Christmas tree.

All I wanted to do was take a nap.

But I didn't. Chris helped Mallory easy-bake; I got down the tree. And then we got a freak snowstorm. All in all, it was a pretty exciting weekend for my birthday girl.

Now the birthday has been celebrated, the tree has been trimmed, and the snow has melted (alth…

T minus 39 minutes...

11:22 p.m.

Mallory announced halfway through the movie that she was tired and going straight to bed when it was finished. "That means everyone she has to go to bed," she announced. I was foolish enough to hope this would come to fruition. Instead, she got the dreaded second wind. They played a game; they danced and sang to Miranda Cosgrove. Just now they demanded that Chris draw portraits of all of them. Alternately, they'd like to make friendship bracelets. I heard one girl tell Mallory to set her alarm for 3 a.m. so they can sneak downstairs and watch our Elf on the Shelf change positions. (I'll explain that one later.)

Mallory's happy and having a good time and I'm glad about that. But man, I'd really like to go to bed now.

Just heard ominous crashing noise from upstairs. Not sure if I really want to investigate. So tired.

9:25 p.m.

Four girls arrived on time. There was much screaming and giggling and attempting cartwheeling. Pizza, cake, pinata dispa…


Happy birthday to one of the two most beautiful girls in the world. I love you!