Saturday, December 31, 2005

My Top 10 of 2005

Happy New Year, everyone!

The Salad Family wishes you and yours health and happiness in 2006. I didn't make any resolutions this year, but I did some reflecting on the one just past, and here are the highlights:

1. The long-awaited and much-hyped birth of baby Violet, the most sweet natured, strong willed, good humored, chubby cheeked baby ever.

2. Seeing Wilco at the Greek Theater in Berkeley with both girls (their first rock show!).

3. Seeing Dan Zanes and Friends at Herbst Theater.

4. Preschool! Sweet, sweet preschool. Why dost thou come only twice a week?

5. Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince, the best book by J.K. Rowling yet, in my opinion, tying for best book of the year with Until I Find You by John Irving.

6. Get Behind Me Satan, by the White Stripes, a truly original and inspiring album and band.

7. BBC's The Office on DVD - the most brilliant TV show in the history of television, hands down. "Freeee loooove on the free love freeway, the love is free and the freeway's long..."

8. Having a totally potty trained 3 year old. Quite possibly the best of the best of 2005. Changing those dipes were gettin' nast-y.

9. The public beat-down of the O.G. (Original Girlie-Man), a.k.a. The Governator, in November, when every single one of his bullshit initiatives was shot down by the voting citizens of California. Take that, Ah-nold!

10. Blogging - if I'm doin' it, you know everyone else is, too. Bloggers of the world, unite!

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Santa clause.

We don't want to be those parents, but Mike and I have been going back and forth, debating whether or not to play the Santa card with Hazel this year. It's not that we have any reservations about pulling one over on her; that is so not the case. And we don't want her to be the kid on the playground that shatters someone else's Christmas dreams... but, it just seems like kind of an elaborate charade. A bit high maintenance. And we're kind of lazy.

Yes, she knows who The Big Guy is. She knows all about Rudolph, the flying sleigh, the North Pole, yadda, yadda, yadda, thanks to countless showings of the Burl Ives' stop-motion animation Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. We recieved a DVD version for Hazel's first Christmas, and played it for her last year, and she became obsessed. She loved it, especially Hermey/Herbie (we say Herbie) the elf who wanted to be a dentist. I guess she empathized with his plight. She adopted Herbie into her menagerie of characters that she likes to pretend to be, and made us call her Herb all last Christmas. And well into the summer. All this to say: she's pretty well schooled on all things Christmas, and knows that Santa, like Rudolph, Herbie and Yukon Cornelius, is a character. Not a real person. And herein lies the root of our dilemma: do we tell her that Santa is real, and will come and bring her presents on Christmas Eve? What of the fact that we have no chimney? Will she expect Herbie, too? Will the (very thin) line between toddler fantasy and reality become inexplicably blurred?

On a whim one evening, while putting Hazel to bed, I mentioned that on Christmas Eve, if she's really good, Santa will come to our house while we're sleeping, and leave a really special present for her, and one for Violet. She must have spent a good deal of time mulling this morsel of holiday information over, because by the next morning, she was full of questions. And the anxiety had set in.

"How does Santa get in our house?" she wanted to know. "Hosie will bark at him!"

And later:

"Mama, I don't want Santa in our house!" she wailed. "We sleep here, and he comes, and I'm scared!"

I tried explaining that he won't wake her up, Sana will just tiptoe in, leave her present, and go on to our neighbor's house.

"But I don't want Santa," she pouted. "I don't like that beard. He's crazy!"

While putting her to bed one night last week, Mike reported some confusion on Hazel's part about whether or not she could get up in the morning. "I have to stay in bed until Christmas Eve?" she asked.

Leave it to Hazel to be the only kid in the world who is afraid of Santa Claus. I have never in my life heard of anything so ridiculous. Instead of running the risk of Hazel dashing some kid's Christmas hopes on the playground in 3rd grade, she'll be the kid running, shrieking away from the mall Santa, fear and panic splashed across her face. She'll spend her life looking for a man (or woman) who measures up to Herbie the elf.

Gosh, I can't wait to tell her about the Easter Bunny!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The War on Christmas

Will someone please tell me what the hell is going on here?

As usual, the Republicans are stirring some ridiculous shit up, in hopes of distracting the American public from the real issues at hand, among them the fact that the Bush administration has no exit strategy in Iraq, treatment of P.O.W.s (or "terrorists", as they like to call them these days), the environment, execution by the state and more, by launching a War on Christmas.

Jerry Falwell, James Dobson and the religious right are up in arms and ready to monitor, lobby, boycott and litigate over the way the people of this country choose to celebrate the holiday season. Falwell, Dobson, et. al, say this effort is actually to fight back against "liberal secularists" who are "trying to drive God from the public square." Those secularists apparently include the American Civil Liberities Union, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, large chains such as Target and Walgreen's, and anyone else using the general "Happy Holidays" greeting this holiday season, as opposed to "Merry Christmas."

Personally, I really don't get what all the fuss is about. I like the "Happy Holidays" greeting this time of year, and I use it, because it's all-inclusive. Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Kwanzaa - it's all implied. It's one-stop shopping! But according to Falwell's 'Liberty Counsel' and Dobson's 'Focus on the Family' the "Happy Holidays" greeting is a wolf in sheep's clothing, and they are targeting retailers and schools - yes, schools - who they think "slight" Christmas by "bending over backward" for inclusivness. These groups are even raising funds through their websites to finance watchdog groups and private attorneys who kick up a big ruckus over Target using "Gather Round" as a holiday greeting, and battle with public school superintendents who think it's inappropriate to have nativity scenes on their school campuses.

I would find it hysterical, if I didn't find it so disgusting, that the organized right is telling the overwhelming majority of the population of the U.S. that it should feel persecuted and oppressed if someone wishes them "happy holidays." I would find it unbelievable, if I didn't find it so typical, that conservatives are using language like "war" and "christmas" together. I would find it silly, if I didn't find it so frightening, that the government of this country, so concerned about "freedom" in the middle east, so vehemently opposes freedom of, and freedom from, religion in this one. This is the path of the modern day Christian?

This year, for the first time in her life, Hazel is old enough to understand how, and most importantly, why, we are celebrating the holidays. I say holidays because in our family, we acknowledge all the special days of the season, including Hannukah and Kwanzaa. Hazel is old enough to understand that different people celebrate different holidays in their families, and in the world, and that all the holidays are equally important. She still has lots of questions, though:

"Why did we get a Christmas tree, Mama?" she asked last week. "Why do we put orna-mins on it?"

Yesterday at the park she built a menorah on the swing out of sand, stuck eight candles in it, sang happy birthday to herself, and blew them out.

I've tried to stress that this is a time to celebrate the change in season, to enjoy and be thankful for our family and our home, and to give things to the people that we love. I've also really tried to impart to her that Christmas is a time for giving things to people who need them, especially to kids who are not as fortunate as we are, and who have very little to eat, wear, or play with. I was really proud of her the day we cleaned out her closet and she chose the toys, clothes and DVDs she wanted to donate to the kids at Redwood Family House.

I feel very uncomfortable with the religious aspect of the "winter holidays," I'll be honest. I do not consider myself a Christian in the biblical sense of the word, and especially not in the cultural sense of the word, which, these days, has visions of "morality" police, right-wing zealots and the federal government dancing in my head. I prefer to think of myself as a little bit of everything, or at the very least, tolerant and respectful of all of the religion and spirituality the world has to offer, and hope to raise my girls as such.

So, I guess that makes me one of those liberals plotting to "ban the sacred Christian holiday." Or whatever. You can officially label me liberal freak for jumping into the 21st century, and acknowledging that there are not just Christians, but also Jews, Buddhists, aetheists, Rastafarians, Hindus, Muslims and so many more, who make up this country. Because isn't now, more than ever before, the time to embrace our differences and celebrate not in spite of them, but because of them? To make peace? To show each other kindness and love? Isn't that what the holidays, whichever ones you celebrate, are all about?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Salad Girls Update

What's new and exciting in the world of Hazel and Violet, you ask? Well, dear reader, both girls have achieved some major milestones in the last few weeks, as well as managed to pick up a few new words, tricks and idiosyncracies. Here's a short list.


- Poops in the potty. Finally. She is now officially done with potty training. Yesssss!

- Swears. No, I'm not proud of this fact, although I do find it hilarious - especially when she uses the words correctly. And yes, she gets it from me. Verbatim quotes include: "Shit! I forgot to watch Rudolph today!" and "Mama, I'm not gonna poop in a goddamn diaper anymore."

- Dresses herself by herself, even if the ensemble du jour includes buttons, snaps, velcro or tights. She can also tie a knot, if her shoes are lace-ups. Cannot color coordinate for shit. (Oops, there I go again...)

- Writes her name. Let me say that again: writes her name!! That just blows my mind.

- Loves her sister. This is a relatively new development. Both Mike and I were shocked almost to tears when we saw Hazel put a defensive arm around Violet at a birthday party last weekend, and shoot the strange girl approaching her with a toy the hairy eyeball.

- Plays guitar. Mike hasn't started teaching her chords yet, but she got a miniature guitar for her birthday, and straps it one several times each day to accompany herself belting out everything from Dan Zanes to Christmas carols to the White Stripes. Can also be seen playing the harmonica, keyboard, tamborine and (after Christmas morning) the melodica. Naked.


- Crawls! She's been doing what I call the "commando", which is to drag herself across the floor with her arms, for months, but the in the last 2 weeks, she has mastered the traditional crawl. This kid is not even 7 months old yet! I smell big trouble.

- Eats! Everything! Last night she had meatloaf. The night before that she had rice, lentils and an entire pear. She has never met a food she didn't like, and devours, literally, anything you put in front of her, from broccoli to chicken soup to bananas to beans. She picks up Cheerios and soft chunky foods like a pro, and gets almost everything into her mouth. If it something she really likes, after each bite, she goes "Ahhhmmmmmmm," and sighs, before whacking the highchair tray and grunting insistantly for more. Word on the street is that Violet is the new Daisy.

- Copycats. If you blow a raspberry, Vi blows one back at you. If you laugh, she goes "AH AH AH!" and sort of cough/laughs as if she, too, is in on the joke. She loves to play peek-a-boo. She thinks it's hysterical when I groan "we're LAAAAAATE!", which is pretty much everyday.

- Pulls hair. Gotta watch out for that. She is fascinated by hair (perhaps because she has so little of it?), and has shocking death grip; a lethal combination.

- Loves her sister. No news there, though. Violet has thought Hazel was pure gold since day one. Loves to show her love by pulling Hazel's hair. Grins her drooly, two-toothed grin if even the slightest attention is paid to her by The Big Kid. It's priceless.

And that's what's new with the Salad Girls.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Happy Birthday, Mike!

And many happy returns on this, your 34th birthday!

When you come home tonight, your birthday dinner of meatloaf, smoked gouda and bacon mashed potatoes, and garlic sauteed broccoli will be waiting for you. We'll have a chocolate torte with 34 candles to blow out, and you can open the gifts the girls and I picked out for you. When they hit the sack, you and I can enjoy a glass of red wine and a movie or a CD.

I'll try to have the girls bathed and PJ'd before you come home, to spare you the trials and tribulations of bathtime on your special day ("I don't want to wash hair!" and "Make my towel like a burrito!" just don't have the same ring as "Happy Birthday" do they?).

It makes me so happy to be celebrating another year with you. You are such a joy; your genuine kindness towards everyone you know makes me strive to be a better person. Your exuberance and energy when you are with our girls warms my heart. You are the greatest husband and the best dad in the whole world. I love you. Happy day!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Violet Redux

Apparently, Jennifer Garner does not read my blog. Pffft.

According to my sources, she gave birth to daughter Violet Ann Affleck this afternoon. *Sigh*

At least I can be happy that they chose an original middle name, instead of stealing Olivia, the bastards. And I bet our Violet is cuter, too. So there.

With a twinge of resentment, I bid you congratulations, Bennifer. Violets of the world, unite and take over!