Monday, November 17, 2008

The Hostess With the Mostest...

At least that's how the saying goes. In my case, though, it should say, "The hostess with the hostessing anxiety." But see how it doesn't quite flow as well?

When Husband and I decided to haul our lives out to the left coast, I declared, in a moment of indignence and poutiness (at least I can admit it, right?) that if we were going to make a go of being Californians, we had to create roots and traditions as a family. I suggested (read: demanded) that all holidays for the first year be held in our new "home", to foster a sense of "home" in a place that, at the time, I couldn't imagine ever feeling like "home".

Husband agreed without much of a fuss. Perhaps it was the added bonus that making Los Angeles into Holiday Central for us meant that we did not have to deal with a two and a half year old repeatedly kicking the seat-back of some poor sap's airplane seat for six hours straight. Never underestimate the power of avoiding having to hold a toddler's legs still for 1/4 of a day.

Now, that first holiday is swiftly approaching (as are the in-laws), and I'm starting to realize exactly what I've gotten myself into. These people aren't going to want spaghetti and meatballs for Thanksgiving, which is a shame, because I kick some serious culinary ass with spaghetti and meatballs (or so I've been told, and yes, I realize that's not really a difficult dish, which is kind of my point). Turkey? Not so much.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not regretting the decision to host Thanksgiving. I am actually really looking forward to it, in a browse through cooking magazines to find the perfect recipe for mashed potatoes and spend way more than is reasonable on things like table runners, gold chargers and napkin rings (none of which go with our china pattern, which is decidedly UNThanksgiving-y, which means we need new plates). And of course I'm looking forward to it in a visit-with-the-family-and-show-them-where-we-live-our-lives kind of way. I am blessed not to have the type of relationship with my inlaws that makes one need to borrow a week's worth of Xanax from a friend (and I don't say that only because they read this...), so that's not the issue. I cannot wait to see Ethan get reacquainted with Grandma Judy and Grandpa Harry as well as his Tia Emi and Tio Pete and baby Sofia. And I can't wait to have the house full of family, telling stories and watching movies and having meals together.

My source of stress comes from the "oh my god, what if something is undercooked and I make everyone sick," kind of anxiety (i.e. Frank Costanza giving food poisoning to his entire battalion in Korea and suffering flashbacks into his old age, anyone? "No good!!! No good!!").

I am also sure that this brand new experience is going to dredge up some awesome control issues. I am learning that I have a serious problem asking for help and I tend to interpret someone's attempt at help as an indication of my own incompetence (please feel free to spin your finger around your ear in a traditional "koo koo! she's koo koo!" motion. I accept that). So I am anticipating that by next Tuesday I'll be swirling in an whirlpool of self-doubt and defensiveness, and hey, who doesn't LOVE that in a hostess?

Husband is very familiar with this self-doubt and defensiveness maelstrom; it's a wonder to me that he agrees to let me host a play date, let alone Thanksgiving (again, the seduction of avoiding the airplane/toddler equation is almost unbeatable). He knows that my craziness will probably extend from shopping for ingredients to chopping vegetables to finding room in the refrigerator to reheating the ordered turkey (see, I will have an opportunity to muck that up!) to setting the table. And it will probably involve me drinking quite a bit of red wine.

So to my wonderful family traveling great distances to spend the holidays with us--if I seem like a bit of a whackadoo in the day or two leading up to Thanksgiving, please don't take it as a sign that I don't want you around or that I don't want you to help. It will just be me grappling with my inner perfectionist (which we all know from my lack of housekeeping and culinary skills lies dormant for the better part of the year--she's got a LOT of work to do to get all that Martha Stewart out in those 48 hours). But take heart, only a few weeks after Thanksgiving, my side of the family will be arriving for Hannukah, so I will try my very best to keep some of the crazy for them, too.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Seriously, though, with the driving...

It's hard to overstate just how emphatic this child is that he should be the one behind the wheel of my car. It's my own fault. One day I thought it would be cute to let him hold my keys and use the automatic lock button to lock the doors as we walked into the house.

Little did I know then that what I heard as a mere, innocent "beep" was actually the call of the Siren to Ethan, beckoning him to dash mommy's sanity against the rocks.

Since then, I spend a lot of time searching for my keys. Early onset Alzheimers, you ask? No. Early onset boy/car infatuation, more like. Now that he can climb furniture like a monkey, and move various pieces of other furniture (chairs, etc) to facilitate said extreme toddler sport, the only place I can really safely deposit my keys is on the mantel. Given that I forget to do that a lot of the time, I often find myself reaching for invisible keys off of the diningroom table or the table in the foyer. Invisible because my stealth monkey, erm, child, has lifted and absconded with them. Maybe they are between the cushions of the couch, or in his bin 'o Thomases, and once I found them in my laundry basket, but they are rarely where I left them if I dont' leave them at practically ceiling level.

Once my neighbor knocked on my door and asked if our car was having electrical troubles because the alarm kept randomly beeping at odd intervals. Imagine my pride and unabashed glee at telling her, no, the car's electrical system was fine; it was just my toddler standing in the living room window, randomly hitting the "lock" button on my key ring and listening to the pretty music of the Nissan. I have found that since enabling my son to become a public nuisance and noise polluter, I am getting better at putting the keys on the mantel.

While I can admit that my Murano is sloppy second option to Husband's Audi in Ethan's eyes, it is more readily available to him, as it's the car that transports him the vast majority of the time. Therefore, he apparently thinks he's got a better chance with it than the Audi. We've managed to convince Ethan that "daddy's car is sleeping" when he gets home from work, and that he cannot disturb the Audi because it needs its rest to drive Daddy to work in the morning. My car, however, gets no such break because it is always "waking up" to take us places.

It is only in the past few days that the need to beep the locks has blossomed into a dire need to actually be the one behind the wheel. Again, my fault. One day while waiting for Husband to arrive home, Ethan and I were wandering around outside and he innocently (as if) asked to sit in mommy's seat in the car. Foolishly unaware of what lay ahead, I obliged and hoisted Ethan into the driver's seat.

What transpired can only be described as magical. Well, I could describe it a lot of other ways, but from the 2.5 year old's point of view--magic. He found the radio. He found the wipers. And the lights. And the horn.

When I was a little girl, I used to sneak into my father's car in the evenings and mess with all the dials and knobs. I would set the volume on the radio to high, I'd turn on the wipers, I'd put the seat all the way back, and anything else I could think of to give dear old dad a big fat "GOOD MORNING!!!!!" when he left for work in the morning, while the rest of us were still asleep. This, apparently is my payback.

Since that trip to the front seat, Ethan is a boy obsessed and spends much of his day telling me that he NEEDS to drive momma's car. Phrases like, "No, I drive!" and "I need to drive Mama's car," and "I can drive, Mama," spill forth from his mouth any time transportation is required. And the tantrum that ensues upon being rudely relegated to his car seat is unprecedented. The indignation and look of abject betrayal plastered all over his face (predominantly in the protruding lower lip and the furiously knit brows) would be amusing if he weren't so genuinely hurt (okay, though, it's still a little amusing).

It matters not how much I try to explain to him that his legs are too short to reach the gas and breaks, and that he doesn't know how to work the transmission, or you know, read, he truly believes that his life's purpose right now is to drive my car.

Poor kiddo. He's got a long 14 years ahead of him. And so do I.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

They Grow Up So Fast

This morning, Ethan informed me that he was going to drive my car today and that I could sit in the back seat. He is so going to be on the evening news as "youngest joy rider ever."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ethan saves the day...

Well, that's perhaps an overstatement, but it sort of felt like it at the time.

It has only been recently that I've been able to, shall we say, use the facilities without an audience. Who ever knew that something as simple as 20 seconds alone in the bathroom would become a luxury in the land of Toddler. Fortunately for me, Mickey Mouse has become more riveting to Ethan than talking me through my bodily functions, ("you're peeing, Mommy," etc., etc.).

However, this morning, I found myself in a bit of a conundrum as, after a minute or two of blissful solitude in the loo (thank you, mystery mousekatools), I reached for the Charmin and found an empty cardboard roll instead.


He may have spent the rest of the day whining like a banshee, and following me around, begging to be carried until I wanted to rip every last hair out of my head and run screaming out of the house, declaring, "MOMMY DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE!!!", but at that moment, he was my hero because when I called, "Ethan? Can you help mommy?" the child got up from his riveting pre-school programming and followed my directions to the floor of the linen closet, where the spare toilet paper is stored, and brought me a brand new roll.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Some things...

I really should get with the program and figure out how to use Twitter so I can update the blog a bazillion times a day when Ethan does cute things, like on Sunday when he ran down the frozen food aisle at Gelson's, arms spread wide, declaring at the top of his lungs, "I'M A WILD MAN!" because I merely suggested, in a normal decibel and with no flourish, that he may in fact, be a wild man. Or how after watching an episode of Backyardigans about volcanoes, he approached me, pointed to his diaper and said, "Mommy, my bum is a volcano." (and indeed, it was.)

But I don't get the whole twitter thing (I am 37 years old, damn it; let me age gracefully!), so I'll just have to try to remember as much of the adorable toddler quirkiness as I can and report to you when I get a few minutes here and there.

In general "blog housekeeping" information, Ethan had his 2.5 year appointment today and he may actually be the scrawniest hot dog, tater-tot, ice cream eating toddler in the universe--22 lbs and 6 ounces. This is where my mother in law (hi, Judy!) chimes in and tells me that Husband was equally petite at that age and I turn off the "stress out" button. It's a routine we've had since Ethan was about four months old it works out well for me.

Also, I realized after my election party post that I was completely negligent about Halloween. How could it be November 11th and I've not plastered my blog full of bumble bee pictures? Seriously. Bad mama.

"Bumble bee, fireman. Fireman, bumble bee...."

checking out his loot.

strapping on the candy feeding troughs...

smiley bee

People go batshit (no pun intended) crazy for this holiday here; next year we'll have to get some skeletons or something because unless your yard looks like a voodoo graveyard, people don't know that you've got candy. Want some candy? We've got extra....

Ethan and the good witch of Studio City.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I know, know...

I said I was going to post more often, I posted frenetically for a few days and then POOF! I disappeared. I guess I'm sitting out this NaBloPoMo, as it is already the 5th. Perhaps I will champion the cause of delinquent bloggers everywhere and make this the inaugural post of NaBloPoWhIDaWeFeLiItMo, which would stand for National Blog Post Whenever I Damn Well Feel Like It Month... that will probably work out well for me.

Anyway, it's been busy. My mom was in town and we magically managed to get through an entire week, PRE-election, no less, without letting too much of our opposing visions of Blue and Red get in our way too much. We swore off FOX and MSNBC (I love her enough to endure the Olberman/Maddow withdrawals and they ain't pretty) and we did quite nicely. Although I have to admit, the second we got back from dropping her off at the airport, my television was tuned to MSNBC for the better part of the next 24 hours.

Ethan is asserting his independence more with each day. Most of the time it's just plain old bossiness ("You tickle me!!!" or "Ready to get up, Mommy," which is spoken in a tone of implied command). We're doing a LOT of "I need you to say 'please'" just to offset the tone o' brat that comes through in some of his, erm, requests. Thankfully he always obliges and is happy to "please" and "thank you" his way into getting his way all. the. freaking. time.

Although, Husband and I have decided though that "WANT DADDY'S KEY!!!!!! please." now has to be met with a stern "nope. Sorry. No can do, kiddo," because as he becomes more comfortable with that particular proverbial pot of gold in his clutches, he feels freer and freer to roam the house with them and deposit them G-d knows where. This is a problem as the key is one of those shmancy computer-chip jobbies that can't be replaced at your local ACE hardware store. Given the amount of cash I drop on this kid's toys, he really doesn't need to run us a couple hundred in fancy key replacement costs. So Daddy's key is now officially on the very short list of things that are off-limits to Ethan.

In another "it's a whole new ballgame now" show of independence, Ethan decided to take himself on a little field trip the other day. I was babysitting a friend's little one and while I was getting her a sippy of water in the kitchen, Ethan announced matter-of-factly, "I'm going to Starbucks! Bye bye!" and proceeded to push the screen door open and waltz down the driveway. Fortunately I heard him and intercepted his little sojourn before he could turn onto the sidewalk and down the street. Seriously. I'm putting a cow bell around his neck.

In "Liberal Indoctrination" news, Ethan participated in his second trip in his lifetime to the polls this week. Aside from flirting with James Van der Beek (of Dawsons' Creek "fame"), and the guy who plays "Horn-Rimmed Glasses" on HEROES, both of whom were in line with us, Ethan sat quietly while Mama tried to figure out California's "could you make it a bit more complicated by maybe making me vote in Morse Code, please?" voting system. It wasn't too bad, but seriously gave me standardized testing flash backs that I could have lived without.

On top of that, a day earlier, Ethan joined me in rallying for Obama and against a proposition to ban gay marriage in our state. Thankfully Obama won, but sadly, so did the proposition. It's hard to celebrate one victory when my heart is breaking for so many people who were essentially told by their fellow Californians that they are second-class citizens and unworthy of a basic right. I just keep trying to remind myself that 50 years ago, Barack Obama would have had to ride on the back of the bus, and now he is our President-elect. I can't help but believe that someday, those who teach their children love and tolerance will outnumber those who teach their children hate and prejudice, and then it won't matter who loves who, or how; it will just be enough that there is love.

So, anyway, at the rally, Ethan's cute little mug won us a spot on the City Hall steps, right behind the mayor and several other Angeleno big-wigs. He spent most of the time trying to take a snooze and I spent most of my time holding up "Vote NO on Prop 8" and "HOPE" signs with the others up on the steps, while news crews took film and pictures. I have no idea if we made it onto the news, either print or TV because immediately following the rally and all of the next day was a flurry of Election Party '08 preparations and I completely forgot to pay attention.

Either way, I'm proud to be introducing Ethan to the idea of finding your voice and standing up for what you believe in. I'm sure he doesn't remember our participation in the Delta ticket-counter nurse-in two years ago and I'm sure he won't remember this as anything more than a distant blur, if at all; but I want him to know that no matter what he believes, his voice should be heard.

Speaking of voices being heard, at about 8pm PST last night, our roof was about blown off by the collective celebratory scream as CNN announced that Obama had indeed won the last electoral votes needed to be the next President. Husband and I had a small group of our friends and their little ones over and we decked ourselves out in red, white & blue and Obama for the occasion.

The victory would have been sweet had I been sitting all alone, but to be able to share it with Husband, my child and people we've come to care about here made the celebration monumental to me and solidified my appreciation of community and a shared cause. I longed to share the moment with friends back East, too, for whom I knew the news was just as, if not more, significant; but I was still so satisfied looking around my living room at kids laughing and blowing noise-makers, completely unaware, for now, how this election changes their worlds; and husbands and wives, hugging with joyful tears in their eyes, because they do know how this election changes the world for their children. It was amazing.

Ethan on the steps of City Hall with Mama, someone's grandmother, and a bunch of people who want to get married.

Ethan's stroller o' HOPE.

After the rally, enjoying a lemonade @ Starbucks

See, I DO have friends out here...

Gloria's Obama wine (cue the conservatives complaint about us liberals drinking the kool-aid)

Note to self: order smaller hats...

hats, pin-wheels and a bowl full of leis..

Nekkid Uncle Sam wants change his diaper.

Wish I could say I made it. Thanks, Jane! You are my baked good ambassador of HOPE.

Ethan's victory dance. Complete with Thomas the Train back pack