Nov. 29: Don't miss the Bi-Polar Express

One of the things that is NOT fun about the holiday season is the grey weather in Portland. Bleah. Nothing like taking a perfectly pleasant time of year and mucking it up with blustery-ness.

How was your Thanksgiving? Ours was unusual this year. My mom invited us to Walla Walla for the holiday, but a couple weeks ago I realized that Vic would have to work the day after Thanksgiving and was on call for the weekend, so we'd either have to make the trip very short or drive separately. On Wednesday I met my mom halfway between Portland and WW and handed Katie and Jack over to her, then went back home to spend Thursday with Vic. This was the best solution I could think of so we could all be with family for the day. On Friday morning I drove up to WW by myself and spent the weekend at my mom's. We had a good time--didn't do much, but it was wonderful to just hang out and relax together. Katie and Jack love being at her place, visiting Nana, and playing at the great parks in town. Mom had LASIK surgery (she prefers not to say she "had her eyes done") a few days before all this and is doing really well.

When the kids and I got home Sunday evening we were greeted by a house lit up for Christmas! Vic had hung lights on the porch and trees and bought a few new decorative things, and it was fun to see everything all festive. We're no Griswolds, but we have some neighbors that are, and the kids love to drive or walk around our nearby streets to ooh and aah at all everyone else's handiwork.

One of my personal favorite activities this time of year is to make fun of people's Christmas lights. This is definitely not one of Vic's favorite seasonal activities, nor does he really enjoy that it is mine. Nevertheless, I rarely hesitate to comment on the crappy job some people do hanging lights. A whole section of the icicle lights is out? Oh well, hang 'em anyway. Every fourth or fifth bulb is dead? Meh, who cares, it's too much trouble to fix. All the light strings blink except one? Well, I am not going to try to find one of those lights with the red tip, just to make them all do the same thing! Then there are the houses with the light strings that aren't quite long enough (or are too long) for the house line, but instead of trying to even things up, the idiot hangers just leave it, assuming no one will drive by, point, and laugh. They obviously have not met me.

I know I sound witchy, Scroogey, psychotic, shallow, and Grinch-like, but I really do love Christmas. It's just the people that make it ugly that I think should be punished severely.

Cool things I recommend for Christmastime, or gift giving/receiving, or whatever:

  • has some fun and unique photo gifts.
  • TiVo. If you don't have one, get one. Or buy it for someone else. TiVo is the best invention in the history of the world, and I am not exaggerating one bit.
  • An Amazon Wish List is a great way to keep track of stuff you want. And at this time of year, you can direct other people to it when they ask what you want. For the sake of those putting things under your tree this year, make a Wish List!
  • The 2005 movie version of "The Producers" starts in late December. If it's anything like the Broadway show, it is not to be missed.
  •, where you can order postage with your picture on it. No Hitler stamps, please.
  • Starbucks gift cards. You can never have too many, and you can never give too many. If you receive one and you're not a coffee drinker, do not despair; they have a strawberries and cream frappuccino-like drink that is dee-lish. They also sell some decadent treats this time of year.
  • Want to read some laugh-out-loud Christmas stories? Check out "Holidays on Ice," by David Sedaris. You'll pee.
  • Online shopping tips:,,, and other similar sites are fabulous for price comparisons. And check out coupon code sites like for more savings.
  • You've probably seen them already, but they're worth watching again. These are the holiday movies I recommend this year: Love Actually, Christmas Vacation, White Christmas, Elf, A Christmas Story.

Here are pictures of Jack's fourth birthday party. Can't think of anything else for now.


Nov. 2: And on your left, Memory Lane

Man, I was doing so well for a while, writing more often and feeling like I'm not totally wasting web space. Bleah.

Well, Halloween is over for another year, but here are pictures. It took weeks of preparation this time, because for the first time Katie & Jack both totally "get" the holiday. Jack decided with the arrival of the first Disney costumes catalog a few months ago that he wanted to dress up like Captain Hook--or as he says it, "Tackin Hook." Katie took longer to decide and I was trying my best not to influence her too much. I loved the JoJo costume, and it would've been nice and warm, but Katie didn't like it. She ended up choosing the Dory (from "Finding Nemo") costume, which was also very cute. Lots of people thought she was a bird, but she still looked cute. Now both kids are having a ball dressing up and pretending to trick-or-treat. I keep telling them I've run out of candy but they won't go away.

Check out the page of the kids on their new scooters.

Can you believe I'm old enough to be attending my 20th reunion? Me neither! As Ralph Wiggum says, "It's unpossible."

It's a girl! It's a girl! My friend Debi is having a baby girl! Pretty cool that she'll have a cousin so close in age; they'll probably grow up like sisters. I can't wait to meet them both.

I took a trip to southern Oregon a few weeks ago with my mom, grandma, and sister. We had a delightful time visiting family and friends. My mom pointed out all the houses she (and we) had lived in, the schools we went to, and other points of interest. It was a lot of fun to see these places, even though things have changed a lot in 30 years. One of our favorite parts of the weekend was getting to see my uncle perform in a musical, "The 1940's Radio Hour" and attending the cast party afterward. The other was getting to see our aunt Hazel and our favorite cousin, Deanna. Our least favorite parts of the weekend were, well, never mind.

I just finished reading the sequel to "Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West." It's called "Son of a Witch," by Gregory Maguire. Now I'm reading Amy Tan's newest novel, "Saving Fish from Drowning," and I'm enjoying it very much, as I have all of her books. It's not getting great reviews, but so far I don't see why.

Sarah Vowell was in Portland last week, and Ed and I went to see her. She was hilarious! I haven't read much of her stuff--mostly just heard her on NPR--but I've ordered all her books. She's fabulous and her humor is similar to David Sedaris--you just can't lose.

And speaking of funny things, here's a graphic from today's edition of The Onion: tonight's TV schedule.

Vic and I had our first parent-teacher conference a couple weeks ago. Katie's teacher said she's doing well and is impressed with her drawing skills (obviously inherited from Auntie Sonya). She also said she has "leadership potential," and Vic said, "Oh, Jack's gonna LOVE that." It went so much better than the only parent-teacher conference I remember being part of, which was when I was in 5th grade. Mrs. Webster said I rolled my eyes when she asked me to do things sometimes. I don't remember doing it, but I remember thinking she was ridiculous, so I probably did. I fully expect to have a similar conversation with one of Katie's teachers someday, and I fully expect my mom to sit back and laugh when I tell her about it.

Coming up in the next few weeks: Debi's visit, my mom's visit, Jack's pirate-themed birthday party, a "family night" at Katie's school, and Thanksgiving in Walla Walla. The coming holiday season seems a little early; didn't we just do Christmas?




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