getting out of hood river was easy but getting to chambersburg, pa for the holidays was like out of a john hughes movie minus the eighties soundtrack and musical montages. p.s. there's NOTHING better in my book than a musical montage preferably one resulting in an nerdy girl (who is really pretty to begin with) turning into a prom queen of sorts. and you know they always have to cast the pretty girl as the underdog because no one wants to see a truly unattractive person go through all that only to reappear only slightly LESS unattractive. i'd much rather see angelina jolie with dry hair and rockports than that unfortunate looking girl from flight of the conchords who, let's face it, with a chin like that has very little chance of improvement.
so dane and i travel alone because danny has to work and will be joining us a few days later. we have something like 82 layovers in various regions of the u.s. and i decide to NOT bring the stroller so that i can make these various connections more efficiently by not having to wait for the stroller at the gate each time. smart mommy i am.
we make it to denver and are bumped from our plane along with 80 other passengers (for reals!) because they had to downsize the plane. dane and i wait in a line for 4 HOURS trying to get re-routed only to find out that the next flight would be the next afternoon. 4 HOURS with nothing but the baby bjorn. LUCKILY my sister-in-law's folks live just outside of denver and joyce very graciously came and fetched us as fast as she could. so i got to stay overnight in a gorgeous home which was MAJORLY decorated for christmas and even had a steak dinner to boot. DElightful. what wasn't so delightful was the fact that dane was getting sick and so was i. i went to bed at 8:45. dane and i were sharing a big bed and he for the life of him would not could not sleep. i kept looking at the clock each time saying, "ok, it's 10:oo now. for SURE he will fall asleep now." and then, "ok, it's 11:00. for SURE he'll sleep now, right??" he would slam his head down on my chest and snuggle and semi-fall asleep and i would eeeeever so gingerly try to move him off of me and BAM! awake. this lasted till almost 2 in the morning. joyce had to come and poke me awake for like 35 minutes, i was so exhausted.
so we get to the denver airport and i had been bumped up to first class for all the trouble, which sounds wonderful but even if you're in first class and your child is screaming because you've been SITTING ON THE RUNWAY FOR 2 HOURS DUE TO A BRAKE PROBLEM it's not like you can tap him on the shoulder and say, "dane! look! it's okay! you can stop crying! there's FREE CHAMPAGNE for mommy! only she can't drink it or DO ANYTHING for that matter because you are doing your angry fish impression." i'm pretty sure one year olds are thoroughly unimpressed by ANYTHING first class can offer.
but i will say that 2 hours later when the plane finally took off, dane fell asleep on my lap much to the relief of my fellow rich travelers. there were a few warm smiles of compassion but mostly there was lots and lots of no eye contact. DON'T LOOK THE MOTHER IN THE EYE. DON'T LET HER THINK THAT FIRST CLASS IS FOR CHILDREN. FIRST CLASS IS FOR IMPORTANT PEOPLE SUCH AS OBESE ACCOUNTANTS AND GAYS.
we finally made it to the baltimore airport where i was greeted by my wonderful dad who for the record was dressed in a black velvet sport coat and an ascot and jeans. what a dude. all dressed up for his girl.
we arrived in c-burg to my folks house totally decked out in cool modern christmas from top floor to bottom floor. the visit was short but VERY sweet full of food, wine and lots and lots of love. on christmas day, we drove to new york to visit danny's family where it was all wonderfully noisy chaos with three kids running around jacked up on holiday spirit. i swear i barely had to parent dane what with all the toys around. we even had a christmas goose and i had to stifle the urge to speak in a cockney accent the whole day. i didn't even say, "GOD BLESS US EVERYONE".
on the way back to portland, danny and i TOTALLY lucked out with a row to ourselves and tvs in every seat. it was awesome. dane cried alot at the beginning but then he slept and then he woke up really happy and cute.
it was wonderful but i was so happy to get back to our cozy home. so happy in fact that i just made a duncan hines yellow sheet cake with chocolate frosting and i'm gonna eat the whole thing. actually, i'll pretend to just nibble on it all day long by slicing reeeeally thin slices until, well, whattaya know?? the whole thing is GONE.
it is about 10:30 in the pm and i went to bed a little bit ago and decided i really wanted to try to post something to the ol' blogosphere. as i was lying in bed not sleeping i realized that i NEVER go to bed without danny or he without me. it's never "hey, i'm gonna stay up and watch this show" or "i'll be right there, i'm just about to finish my book on the couch." i really appreciate the fact that we go to bed together every night. it's nice and cozy and i like it.
so dane turned ONE on saturday december 19th. amazing what a year can bring. i know it's trite and cliche and everything i want to say about it sounds unremarkable, but damn, i was really excited to celebrate that day. i used to swear i would never have a party for a one year old. i always thought it was self indulgent and a greedy way to get people to buy things for your kid. as the day approached, i realized that i really wanted to make it special because it IS so special and once in a lifetime and yes, it's self indulgent but in a good way. you get to celebrate the day that changed your life forever. so we had a little party with cupcakes and pizza and some good friends and their kids and lots and lots of presents. the best was in the morning danny ran to the store to get a few things and i reminded him to get a balloon for dane. he came back with the house from "up". it was very sweet and made me a wee bit teary.
the party was really cute and fun and i'm sure dane didn't appreciate all the hard work his mommy and daddy and his auntie stephanie did (she made the beautiful and delicious cupcakes above!) but we have the pictures to prove it so he can thank us later.
danny and i decided a few weeks earlier that we would have a christmas party that same night except that it would be a winter solstice party and everyone would dress in summer clothing and we'd drink fruity drinks and eat guacamole and there'd be plenty of self tanner lying about if one was so inclined (turns out, more than one were so inclined). i was surprised since it was like negative 2 outside but people came dressed in their summer finery.
at about midnight my neighbor jess came bursting into the party yelling all out of breath for me to go with her and her friend to jacks. i had been waiting for her to come to our party all night and wondered where she had been instead of this party that she was so looking forward to. i believe the actual words which came out of her mouth as she tried to catch her breath were:
MOLLY. KARAOKE. WHITNEY HOUSTON. I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY. JACKS. AMAZING. I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY.
it was like trying to get lassie to tell you that timmy fell down the well.
for those who don't know, jacks IS amazing. it's a gross dive bar/chinese food place that has a dance floor and karaoke and a whole lot of CHARACTER. it is also the place where one of the single greatest things happened to me. i was karaoking there for the first time and let me tell you that it was legendary if i do say so myself. it involved a lot of lionel richie, bon jovi and kick-ball-changes. i'm telling you by the end of that night the crowd had swelled from 3 to at LEAST 14. it was so amazing, in fact that the next time i went there, the mrs. karaoke lady said as i walked in:
"MOLLY!!! i was just about to close but we'll stay open for you! sing as many as you want sweetheart!!"
now i know how bono feels.
so when jess burst into the party dangling the jacks carrot at me like that i got all upset because i CAN'T LEAVE MY OWN PARTY JESS! about five minutes after i yelled that at her, danny quietly said, "you know, if you wanna go to jacks, you should go." i pretended to waiver then i LEFT MY OWN PARTY. when we got there, however, the karaoke was over but the dance party was in full swing and we had an awesome time.
(oh, that sounds nice. i like marshmallows. and who doesn't love caroling. in the snow, no less!)
they'll be scary ghost stories
and tales of the glories
(WAIT. go back, go back.)
of christmases long long ago
(no, no, no. can we get back to the thing you just sang about? no, not the parties part. the other thing. about the ghosts. yeah, because my childhood is filled with memories of us all sitting round the fire on christmas eve, sipping hot cocoa and trying to guess what santa will bring us and NOT getting the charles dickens scared out of us so we'd spill our hot cocoa everywhere possibly injuring one another, possibly outing an eye, even.)
we went on a hike this weekend. we live in the incredible pacific northwest and really, hikes should be something non-negotiable. we should be doing these things alot. except i'm a pansy.
we get to the trail and it is about 3pm. danny has done this one before so he insists upon being the one to wear dane all the way up. he says something like, "it's a HIKE", implying that it is indeed an incline. i don't know what i was thinking but as soon as the trail began to go UP, my body began a mutiny. the voices in my head began chanting and spewing things like, "you did NOT sign up for this molly! your legs are HURTING ALREADY! IT'S ONLY GONNA GET WORSE! THIS CAN'T BE GOOD FOR YOU! IT'S GONNA GET DARK SOON! IT'S NOT EVEN PRETTY HERE. DON'T EVEN BOTHER TRYING TO GAIN ANYTHING GOOD FROM THIS BECAUSE DO YOU FEEL THAT TIGHTENING IN YOUR CHEST AND LUNGS? THAT IS GOD'S WAY OF PUNISHING YOU FOR GETTING OFF THE COUCH AND PUTTING DOWN THE US WEEKLY. YOU BELONG ON THE COUCH YOUNG WOMAN!"
this goes on for quite some time, this barrage of inner negativity. i am seriously huffing and puffing and danny is the one carrying the 19 extra pounds of love. i am such a wimp. it's embarrassing. at one point i ask danny how long we've been hiking because i'm sweating. even my HANDS are sweating and he says, "uh, maybe like 10 minutes?" and oooooh man, do those voices in my head get really riled. then danny does some half mumbled calculation of how long we've been hiking and how long till we get to the top and one point twenty one jiggawatts and space time continuum and pronounces, "i think we're a quarter of the way there."
his eyes give away that he's messing with me. instead of laughing like any NORMAL person would i get all yell-y at him with the "WHY WOULD YOU MESS WITH ME WHEN YOU CAN SEE I'M CLEARLY DYING?" and "THAT ISN'T FUNNY! IF I KNEW WE WERE ALMOST THERE I COULD MAYBE ENJOY IT KNOWING THAT THERE IS A LIGHT AT THE END OF THIS NEVER-ENDING GODFORSAKEN NO MAN'S LAND OF A TRAIL!" and "I'M THIRSTY!"
we made it to the top soon after my ranting ended and it really was beautiful and worth it until danny decided we needed to find a "fetching stick" for ally. didn't we just walk through a FOREST? so he continued on for what seemed like another 2 hours and 16 miles to find a "fetching stick" for his beloved. and by the way, our dog does NOT fetch and i didn't believe this mission to find a "fetching stick" to be one of any importance whatsoever until lo and behold, she fetched. not just once but like 6 times. a true record for the most non-dog dog there e'er was.
then dane decided to hate nature, hiking, cold weather, his mom, his dad, his non dog dog and his 18 layers of patagonia fleece. we high-tailed it down the mountain thinking that he was just getting too cold and/or bored with all the fetching business. moving did not help. there was a steady stream of snot pouring out of his nose and his cheeks were frozen and his hands were frozen and he cried cried cried like i have never heard. it seemed to take twice as long to get down that mountain. once the car was in sight, i knew he'd be fine. we'd get him cozied up in the car seat and crank the heat and give him a bottle and he'd be back to his normal delightful self but no. he had worked himself up so much that i actually had to hold him and shshshshsh him all the way home. what a pansy.
so with the big holiday fast approaching i am swept up in a haze of nostalgia. we haven't decorated this year because we are going back east for the actual day and i figured dane is too little to care whether or not mommy and daddy put up a tree. at least that's what i'm hoping. maybe secretly he is angry and is plotting his escape to go live with our more christmasy spirited neighbors, jess and kyle. they have, in their words. "griswalded the shit" out of their house. except they have a really menacing looking santa perched in their second floor window which they "found on the side of a road somewhere". it's creepy. but it makes me like them even more, if possible.
one christmas sticks out in my head. it was, i think, 1983, during the days when our entire family on our dad's side would get together at our aunt greta's and uncle boomer's house in falls church, va. it was non-negotiable. no one ever said, "you know, i really don't feel like it this year. let's just stay home." we never missed it. and i'm sure for my folks it wasn't the easiest task prying the gifts out of our greedy, maple-syrupy hands, getting our act together and hitting the road for an hour and a half drive (often in the snow, those days). but once we got there all the kids would high tail it into the basement for some rough-housing, sparing us the boring grown-up conversations. that is, of course, until it was time to eat and play charades, the latter always involving MASSIVE amounts of cheating from the men in the lahr family...there was for SURE army crawling into the ladies area to eavesdrop on charade ideas thus resulting in the men guessing the charade in one word or less.
each year at thanksgiving we would draw names for the exchanging of christmas gifts. this was a brilliant idea. just when the soul-crushing depression hits when you think there are no more gifts to open, you are hit with a lightning bolt of pure joy when you remember that there, is in fact, ONE MORE PRESENT!!
so this particular year, my name was drawn by my infamous uncle dick. he was my dad's older brother. he was a tornado of a human, as i remember. he was the guy who would show up at our house at 3 in the morning banging pots and pans together to announce his arrival. he was an amazing cook; making duck a l'orange for my mom and dad. the image of him playing air saxaphone with his pants halfway off his butt always sticks with me. that sounds weird but it was funny. always funny. so when i found out that he had drawn my name, i was cautiously optimistic. maybe he had somehow talked to my mom and dad in preparation for this event! maybe he knows that all i ever want are dolls! dolls dolls dolls! ok, or yeah, i mean i'd TAKE a stuffed animal. it's not like i'd be RUDE or anything. or maybe he found out i loved esprit clothes! finally, it was my turn to receive. it was a small box. ok, ok that's good! maybe it's a bracelet or necklace or jewelry of any kind! better yet, maybe it's a miniature! (i was obsessed with mini stuff) (still am). so i open it and it's a...wait for it...
yep. not even a kitchy girly one. just a small red swiss army knife. i mean, he might as well have gotten me a book on the history of math. pretty much the worst present for 9 year old molly. ever. of course everyone thought it was hilarious and started laughing so i, of course, laughed too, trying to pretend like he didn't just RUIN my bonus christmas and thanked him with a hug.
looking back, i realize that was a pretty brilliant move and totally in character for uncle dick. sadly, he is not with us anymore. he died shortly after that christmas and i often wish i could tell him that story from my perspective and laugh with him about it.
that christmas was a great time in life. pre-divorce, care-free, and lots and lots of love and laughter. man, i've been blessed and i love my family.
i cannot believe what a good eater dane is. it is such a freedom to not have to struggle, coerce or cajole him into eating. it's fun taking him to restaurants because number one; he can't walk yet so he doesn't realize all the fun he could be getting into and two; he eats whatever we eat. i'm talking french onion soup, cheeseburgers, japanese noodles, veggie burgers and the list goes on.
it is the opposite of me when i was little. i remember actually being stressed out when dinner would be put on the table. one time i refused to eat my dinner and my mother made me sit at the table till bedtime and then put the dinner into the fridge until the next day when the cycle would begin again. me not eating, her steely cold eyes upon me, me still not eating, staring at the cold grey lumpiness of old dinner. i also remember a birthday party where there was a carousel and soooo many gifts and my mother made me give away all of them to poor kids. and then there was that one day when she found wire hangers in my closet and she called me very calmly and said, "chrisTINE...what are these wire hangers doing in your closet? WHAT did mommie say? NO. MORE. WIRE. HANGERS. EVEEEEEEEEEEER!!!"
oh wait. that wasn't my life. that was "mommie dearest". i forgot.