Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Gift ideas: What not to buy

We have entered the wonderful time of year where we are all flooded with Christmas catalogues and gift guides and enthusiastic recommendations for the perfect gift for your brother's sister-in-law's dog walker. What we hear much less often though are the cautionary tales, the recommendations of gifts gone wrong, the "steer clear at all costs." Personally, that's what I'm looking for, and in the spirit of being the change I want to see in the world, I present to you my top three gifts not to buy this holiday season.

1) A digital picture frame for the grandparents. I know, coming in hot here. This one is ALWAYS on the "top lists for grandparents." And I admit, on the surface, it seems like a great idea. They don't have to pick their favorite pictures! It's a gadget that will delight and amaze their friends! The love the grandkids! All good points. What they don't tell you though is that while your parents may be savvy enough to link the frame to their albums, they likely are not savvy enough to put their pictures into folders or figure out how to hide pictures. Which means that Thanksgiving next year will get awkward VERY fast when you see the frame, squint a little to figure out what picture it is, and then realize that that's an angle and a situation you had hoped to NEVER see your parents in. Ask me how I know. My parents are dead, so they won't know that I told you. 

2) Play-dough and slime. All I can say here is "WT actual F?" I am a ball of anxiety on Christmas day, panicked that a gift will be accidentally thrown away with the insane amount of trash we seem to create regardless of how many earth-friendly wrapping options I choose. It's neurotic and honestly not my finest quality. I do a lot to create holiday magic but I suspect that manically putting everyone's gifts in their own special box and then nagging everyone to keep track of pieces is not one of them. And every year I fail. But lo and behold, the one and only gift I would beg to fall headlong into the garbage can is the one that sticks around like a b-reel horror film character. 

3) The slime that everyone suggests for adults' stockings. I know you've seen it, and in theory it seems like such a great idea. I fell for it. I really did. Last year every adult of driving age got a tub of the pastel colored goo and I gleefully put mine in my car, for use at stoplights/gas stations/car washes. It was going to change my life! I was going to become a "clean car person." But alas I did not become a clean car person. What they don't tell you is that this goo does not tolerate temperature fluctuations well (ala California in the summer.) So at a stoplight, when I channeled my inner Martha, I instead ended up with a handful of sticky snot melting through my fingers. It was everywhere, and every effort I had to make it stop just made the problem worse. I drive a manual. So when I say "everywhere" I really mean it. 

Okay. Your turn. What's on the top of your Must Not Buy list? 

Monday, November 27, 2023


 I literally took a single picture on Thanksgiving. I didn't get any cute "cooking in the kitchen" shots or a posed family photo with the feast in front of us. What I did catch is this moment when all three kids were serving themselves pie and Eli dosed out the whipped cream straight from the can, the way the Lord intended it. And honestly, I'm not mad about it. 

I have been reflecting on gratitude a lot lately. For someone who can fall down the green-eyed rabbit hole pretty quickly, it's a refreshing change. Sure, there's lots of things I'd love to have: a cleaner house, newer clothes, more vacations, animals that don't smell. But damn, I have so much to be grateful for. Like a husband who still makes me laugh and a house that I love and warm water and kids that are hilarious and sweet and like being around all of us. And whipped cream. Always whipped cream. 

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Kitten update

I haven't updated on the kittens! They're quickly becoming non-kittens, and poor Kirby got to be re-neutered a couple weeks ago. Turns out One Nut Kirbs was an inaccurate nickname. But on the plus side, he's not peeing on stuff anymore! 

They're just so fun. They're both getting bigger by the minute. Kirby likes to hang out with us and Boo spends most of his time in Averson's room. Both of them like to sleep with C and I, which is just delightful. They're a little saucy and sometimes swipe at my geriatric dogs when they know they can't get back to them and there was a situation with one of C's crayfish (we can't talk about it, but just know there are no witnesses so any allegations are purely conjecture) but I definitely think we're turning into a cat family 


Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Disneyland and Universal and LA, oh my!

 So... a few months ago I reached out to my Disney travel agent and booked a trip to Universal and Disneyland, told my sister, and then promptly forgot all about it. Until about four days before we were slated to leave. And that's how you get to condense all your typical neurotic energy and planning anxiety from weeks and months to three short (oh my god why are days so short) days of selective laundry and throwing shit together. 

I highly recommend it. 

We hit this trip HARD. We drove down on a Friday (6 hours) and checked into a hotel that my Beverly Hillbilly clan just could not get over. I finally had to whisper-yell "act like you've been indoors before!" after the third exclamation over the lobby staircase. In their defense, it was a nice hotel. The best part though was the outdoor patio they had with a giant checkers set that inspired literal hours of playing various games and challenges

On Saturday we met up with my sister to go to the La Brea Tar Pits and the LA Abandoned Zoo. I did not have high hopes for either of those adventures but they turned out to both be a blast! At the tar pits you can literally find asphalt (not tar, the place is misnamed) bubbling up out of the grass. We poked a lot of sticks into it. And the zoo was such a cool, unique experience. It's the LA Zoo from the 20s and when it got decommissioned, they just... moved the animals? So now there's all these enclosures you can climb around in. It was gritty and weird and urban and pretty cool for all involved. Also, Eli had paint pens in his bag (I don't ask questions anymore) so everyone got to contribute to the community art. 

Sunday was Universal Studios, with an early entry into Super Mario Land (or Nintendo World?) PSA: If you get to the parking lot at 8:00, you won't get to the actual park until 8:30. There were a lot of feelings about that. BUT. Nintendo Land did NOT disappoint. It's every fantasy every 80's kid ever had about being sucked into the original Mario Brothers. There are bricks to punch and everything is bright and cartoony and they have little mushroom benches that were the perfect place to people watch. Unfortunately my sister and her girls ended up stuck on the ride for over an hour in what was not the last ride they had to walk off of, so that was kind of a bummer. But we soldiered on! Sydney discovered a love for thrill rides, I took Averson and my 8 year old niece on the Harry Potter ride that we all loved, and Eli and C spent half the day collecting gold coins and geeking out together. There were a lot of good moments, but my favorite will always be the pure joy on Eli's face after he bought the Toadstool hat.

I <3 the Jurassic World ride so very much


After Universal, we drove to Anaheim and checked into our Disney-adjacent hotel. The kids also declared this one "so fancy" but it was decidely more utilitarian than the first. But it had bunkbeds and a juice dispenser in the breakfast room. So keep that in mind if you're planning hotels with kids. They're very easy to impress. 

Disneyland was Disneyland. I worried that my kids might be too old or that I might be overwhelmed, but man, big kids are THE BEST. It was a constant reconfiguration of groups with everyone getting to do the things they wanted with people who also wanted to do them. At some point in the trip, C and I were able to hang alone with each of the kids which was an absolute DELIGHT, plus we got to hang with different combinations the whole time. Eli is contagiously enthusiastic, Sydney loves a thrill ride and is absolutely hilarious, and Averson is so thoughtful, curious, and sweet. I came home with such an appreciation for my motley little crew and so much gratitude that they're mine. 

He asked for this picture first thing

She decided that she wanted a Loungefly bag as her souvenir, thoughtfully picked this one, and was absolutely content with it for the rest of the trip

He was most excited about the monorail. I just love this kid. 

My traditional Haunted Mansion picture

Late night Matterhorn crew! Pro tip: If you're wearing a super cute mini skirt, don't ride in the front seat. You will end up trying to figure out how to avoid showing hundreds of strangers your chonies. And you'll get wet. Ask me how I know...

I went back to find our pictures from the year we bought passes. Apparently Averson's first trip was when she was 10 weeks old. I literally have NO memories from that trip. But look how tiny they were!

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Halloween - Belatedly

 Huh. One minute you're thinking to yourself, "maybe I'll try some version of writing every day in November!"  Then you look up and realize it's mid-month and you never even posted Halloween pictures

This year felt like that thing people say about not knowing it's going to be the last time you pick your child up. Every year I have my three kids on my stoop in their costumes and even though Eli is basically an adult, I wasn't totally ready for him to not be in the picture. And then Sydney had her friends and I didn't want to be ridiculous, and then Averson wanted a store-bought costume and picked the most popular one of all time, complete with bleeding mask. And lo and behold, I am officially the mom of big kids and next year I don't even think they'll need a chaperone for trick or treating. 

BUT I love working somewhere where people are enthusiastic about shenanigans, my boss sent me an axe transforming my costume from "Barbie" to "Serial Killer Barbie," the pink jumpsuit is still an absolute delight, and my birthday was wonderfully feted. Plus Eli's girlfriend's car really iced the cake on my Barbie day 

Subway Surfer and Ghostface

Birthday Donuts!

Minions, but make it fashion

I love my work people