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Posts from the ‘relationships’ Category

my game of thrones obsession

I am obsessed with Game of Thrones and it’s only getting worse.

Unlike my friend Kathryn, who has consumed approximately 20 hours of the show in the last two weeks while holding down a job, I started watching the HBO show from day one. That’s because I am a sucker for period dramas. And the commercials led me to believe that the show was a period drama, set in the Middle Ages. I didn’t realize the show had dragons in it until it was too late. Dragons, as everyone knows, are shorthand for nerdsville. And I left nerdsville at least ten years ago.

The reason I got hooked on Game of Thrones early on is this character, whose name is Drogo, but who I referred to throughout 2011 as “my boyfriend.” His pecs, as you can see, are seriously distracting. As is the perfectly applied eyeliner. But it’s really the beard that gets me.

drogo

Before you start being all worried for Tom, consider that the guy who plays Drogo is actually the real-life husband of Lisa Bonet, on whom Tom has had a crush for approximately three decades. Lisa Bonet is a real person so she could THEORETICALLY fall in love with Tom, whereas Drogo can’t fall in love with me because he’s pretend. So really, the person you should feel bad for is me.

Back to Drogo. In case you think I’m weird, most women who watch the show think Drogo is hot. Linds thinks he’s hot and she doesn’t like muscular men, or beards. Cuz says he’s a H2 check on her hotness scale. Cuz’s hotness scale, called BUNAH, is super complicated, but basically an H2 check means, Cuz would tap that.

As for me and Drogo, our romance was shortlived, because (SPOILER ALERT) he dies at the end of Season 1. I got over it quickly, though, because Game of Thrones is literally ground zero for hot bearded men. Witness:

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Robb Stark here starts out as a boy in Season 1 but morphs into a full-grown hottie by Season 3. I attribute it less to any physical transformation and more to the fact that Robb becomes King of the North and therefore becomes very powerful. Power is hot.

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Jon Snow is also a Stark but is illegitimate. So he has a chip on his shoulder and an outsider’s mindset, which means he’s your classic tortured hero. His storyline forces him to be in cold places all the time, so I don’t know what his chest looks like. But he looks good in fur. Sometimes you just have to go on faith.

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Jaime Lannister is a really bad guy for the first two seasons, but (SPOILER ALERT) something really bad happens to him in Season 3, and then he gets all humanized. Personally I found him hotter as a bad guy, but whatever. I had this same issue with Eric the Vampire from True Blood, who went from being a stone cold fox in the first few seasons to turning into a mealy-mouthed nice guy in the latter seasons. What could be less hot than a nice vampire? Nothing. Anyway, back to Jaime here. His character pushes a kid off a castle wall and has sex with his own sister. None of that detracts from his looks, of course, which are exceptional.

It doesn’t even gross me out to think that if any of the characters above actually existed, their beards would have lice and bits of mutton in them. Nor does it bother me to know that in real life, the actors who play these men are very short. I have a feeling that the guy who plays Jon Snow is like, 5’2″. All I know is, I saw him in a fashion spread in GQ and something wasn’t right. Nothing wrong with being 5’2,” of course. But I’m almost 5’9″. It ruins the fantasy of having a hot bearded guy at my disposal when I have to think about kneeling down to make out with him. But whatever, it doesn’t matter. Because it’s a fantasy. Game of Thrones gets that. I get that.

I wish I could say I’m just into the TV show. But I can’t. I’m deep in the throes of the third book, which is very well written, and in which major stuff starts happening. I’m roughly three or four chapters ahead of where the show and Tom are, which results in Tom and I bonding in the following fashion:

Yoona: “Tom. Shit just got REAL in the book.”

Tom: (wide eyed, sits down). “OK. You have to tell me. Immediately.”

Yoona: “Do you really want to know? Because it’s crazy.”

Tom: “I WANT TO KNOW I WANT TO KNOW I WANT TO KNOW!!!”

Yoona: (disclosure of major plot points).

Tom: “Hoo boy.” (Pause). “Who’s Arya, again?” Then: “Why did you tell me all that?”

tom birthday

Short bearded guys on TV come and go. But there’s only one real-life Tom. He’s 6’4″ and all mine.

Happy Birthday my love.

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talking sh*t about my kids

A couple weeks ago, my friend Mandy sent me a video of her kid doing something funny, and then immediately expressed remorse because she’d invaded his privacy. I felt respect for Mandy in that moment. But it was the kind of respect I have for people who go on hunger strikes. Whenever I hear about someone on a hunger strike I try really hard to think of an issue I feel strongly enough to starve for, and always come up short. An end to man sandals, maybe.

Before that conversation with Mandy, it had never really occurred to me that my kids had privacy rights that could be violated, least of all by me. Clearly not, because I blog about them. I share details about my kids that will likely anger them in the distant future when they are old enough to read blog posts, although Tom won’t let me write about the really interesting episodes. But I rationalize that I feed them and clothe them, and once this blog really starts making some serious coin, they can take pride of ownership in the family enterprise.

Not going to happen, my friend Courtney likes to tell me. She regularly reminds me that once my kids get older, I’ll have to stop blogging about them. She’s right, of course. Thank God I’ll still be able to write about Tom.

I’ve been feeling badly since noticing recently that I talk a lot of shit about my 3-year old. Tate is very cute. I’m his mom and, being a realist, I’m also prone to suspicions that my kids are less cute than I think they are, but I’m pretty sure he’s objectively cute. And it’s a good thing he’s cute. Because if he wasn’t so cute, I might have left him at Whole Foods months ago, bundled up in a basket with a rolled-up wad of cash and some Legos.

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Finn was 3 at some point. But Finn was never like Tate. There’s the first parenting no-no: comparing your kids. I can’t help it. If you go through an experience once, it’s human nature to expect a similar experience the next time around. Finn was energetic and Cuz remembers that he was mean at that age, but he has always hated getting in trouble. Tate could care less about doing the right thing. I blame this trait on Tom’s Caucasian genes, because Koreans are all about doing the right thing.

I might tell Tate not to kick a ball in the house. He will look at me, give a toothy grin, and then drill me in the face with the ball. I have no tools in my parenting toolkit to deal with stuff like that. I mean, I do, but Tom, being a liberal white person, frowns on spanking. Sometimes I have to pretend like I didn’t feel the ball hit my face, just to buy myself time to figure out what to do. FUCK!, my mind screams. WHAT DO I DO??? During moments like that I swear I can feel the weight of all my Korean ancestors looking down on me and shaking their heads in collective shame.

We worry so much as parents because we love our children more than cheap words can express. I know Tate will be ok. Even in my bleakest moments I have respect for his strong will, a quality I’m still hoping to develop at the age of 36, as related to food and portion control. Also, I try to remember that he’s 3.

This too shall pass. I know that because my friends say so. Friends like Mandy, who love and worry about their own children. And that’s why I talk shit about my kids, I guess. Being honest about how scary parenting can be makes me feel less helpless. It makes me feel less inadequate. It makes me feel less alone.

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potato of love

Ah, romance. We all want more of it. Even if you’re married, like me. ESPECIALLY if you’re married, like me. Sometimes I tell Tom that he could be more romantic. Flowers. A handwritten note. A surprise gift. After twelve years of marriage, the surprises can feel few and far between.

I’m equally to blame. Last Friday, Tom grabbed me in an impromptu embrace and tried to wrestle me onto the bed. In full daylight, with the kids only a floor away! What could be hotter? But the housekeepers had just visited. And our bed had just been made, to perfection. “TOM!! NOOOOOO!!,” I screamed, as he pushed me backwards onto the mattress. Tom sighed, his mood deflated, and then walked off to check scores. I smoothed out the duvet, assuring myself that all was pristine.

Or a couple weeks before that, when Tom tried to corner me in my closet. That time it was the overhead lights. All I could think about was how much my face looks like Alice Cooper’s under those lights. I don’t feel sexy when I feel ugly. I shoved Tom off of me and ran to pat some retinol on my face.

The more I thought about the romance thing, the worse I felt. If I wanted more romance, I shouldn’t just sit around waiting for it to be visited upon me. I would try a spontaneous gesture on Tom, in hopes of receiving spontaneous and expensive gestures in return.

At the mall, I moseyed into a See’s Candies to eat some samples, and saw a potato made out of chocolate.

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It was boxed in green and dusted with cocoa powder and it had little things stuck in it that made the potato look like it had eyes. All in all, I was charmed by the verisimilitude of the thing. It was so funny. A chocolate potato. For St. Patrick’s Day! SO spontaneous. Tom would love it. I bought one and rushed home, eager to begin the romance.

At home, I changed into my pajamas and placed the box on his pillow. And then I waited for him to come to bed. But then, I fell asleep. The next morning, Tom didn’t say a thing about the potato. I tried to be gracious about it, but I was annoyed.

“Did you see the thing I left you on your pillow?” Tom looked up from brushing his teeth. He rinsed, and then smiled. “Oh yeah! The potato. Super funny. Thanks babe.”

Thanks babe? That was it? Couldn’t he see that I was trying to be romantic? Getting dressed, I saw that he had left the potato on a shelf in the closet. I moved it to the bathroom, and placed it between our sinks.

And there it sat, for two weeks. After the first few days, I was mystified. Tom can eat a pound of Sour Patch Kids in one sitting. I’ve seen him cram an entire chocolate bar into his mouth. I know my man. He likes candy. So why wasn’t he eating the potato? I opened the box and took a small nibble. It was totally delicious. I closed the box back up and pushed the potato closer to his sink, right next to his shaving cream.

Every day the potato sat there, I felt rejected. And then one day, the potato was gone. Where was the GD potato? I sent Tom an email, and waited impatiently for his response.

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A wholly inadequate response, I felt. I’d given Tom a bouquet of flowers and he’d hit me in the face with them. He made it ten times worse when I confronted him by phone. “Babe. I’m sorry,” he stammered. “I had no idea it was that important to you. It just looked…gross. I mean, why would anyone want to eat a chocolate potato?” I sat there, speechless. I mean, he ate bags full of gummy candies that looked like little children. But Tom wasn’t done. He had some salt he wanted to rub into my wounds. “I mean, a part of it was already eaten and that made it even more gross, like a…like a RAT ate part of it or something.”

Anyway. Even though he rejected me and my romantic gift, it felt good to think about Tom, and to think about doing something nice for him. I feel like I’m flexing a muscle that’s rusty from disuse.

I’m already plotting my next act of romance.

mama’s boy

Finn loves himself some Daddy. They hang out together and watch sports together and wear matching jerseys and generally behave in a manner that leaves me with the uncomfortable sensation that I gave birth to my husband’s best friend.

It’s been this way for years, but enough is enough. The day before Valentine’s, Finn ran into my arms at pickup, waving a doily heart. “I made a valentine, Mama!” We ran to the car and I eagerly spread it out on my steering wheel to read it. Finn’s learning how to write phonetically, but I was up to the challenge.

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“Happy Valentine’s Day Daddy I love you I hope you have a good Valentine’s Finn.” Daddy? What was this sappy drivel? I flipped it over to see if I’d missed the part addressed to me. Nothing. My c-section scar started to itch, like it does whenever I experience a difficult parenting moment.

I peered at Finn through the rearview mirror. He beamed up at me. Where’s Mommy’s valentine, my eyes must have said, accusingly. His smile faltered, and he looked away.

That’s right. Look away, little man. I felt a blackened charcoal briquet in my stomach, slowly burning through the lining. Jealousy. I was jealous of Tom! How beneath me. That settled it. This daddy business had gone on long enough. It was time to remind Finn how awesome his mother could be.

I had the perfect opportunity, because we were leaving for a three day ski trip with my friends Whitney and Pete. Tom was slammed at work and was staying behind with Tate, so Finn would have no option but to pay attention to me, for three whole days. I would be his sun, his moon, his stars.

I started the weekend with a bang by buying him Sierra Mist at dinner on the way down to Bend. Finn loves Sierra Mist. It is scary the things Finn will do for a can of Sierra Mist. He once ate a saucer of green beans for Sierra Mist. But this time, he didn’t have to earn his soda. I sat across from him at the diner in Madras, and watched his eyes roll back into his head when he took his first sip. That’s right Finn, I felt like saying. Mommy is the architect of your happiness.

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At Whitney and Pete’s, there was more spoiling. I didn’t press him to eat veggies at dinner. He got to watch Spy Kids and play Nerf guns with his friend Travis. “Are you having fun, Finn?,” I asked. “So much fun, Mommy,” he said. I gave myself a silent high five.

But at some point, I stopped trying to buy him, and just observed him. This creature, this precious thing, with his big feet and his crooked glasses. On our way up to the mountain, I watched him in my rearview mirror as he talked to Travis. When Trav pointed to a picture of the Mona Lisa in his book, Finn’s eyes got big and he motioned to me. “Mommy, turn down the music.” He turned to his friend and took a serious tone. “Travis. Do you know what’s weird about the Mona Lisa?” Travis shook his head. Finn: “She has NO EYEBROWS.” Travis looked suitably impressed.

I skied behind Finn on the slopes, and tried not to let my terror overpower his delight as he zoomed down the runs. At night, I held him close and felt his breath on my face, and tried not to think that in a year, he wouldn’t want to sleep in the same bed with me, or let me hold him tight.

So, the weekend. I don’t think I reminded him of anything he doesn’t already know. But our trip together reminded me how awesome my son is, even if he does love me second best.

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finn and trav

a good cry

There’s a lot to cry about these days.  The headlines are lurid, devastating.  Bad news after more bad news.  And it’s increasingly hard to be shocked by it, or to feel something real.

I don’t cry often.  When I do, it’s not pretty.  I watch movies where the heroine is crying and her face is all soft and sympathetic and lovely in its vulnerability, and I think, I want to cry like that.  But I don’t.  When I cry, I look like a monster whose face is melting off.

I don’t cry when I’m happy.  I didn’t cry when my kids were born.  I still feel badly about it.  I felt love for the little goobers, but mostly I was shell-shocked, as I’d been throughout both pregnancies.  I barely knew where I was.  Added to the fact that I had an unplanned c-section with ten-pound Finn, and then another c-section with Tate, it all leaves me feeling like I should have a third kid to have a childbirth do-over, with the pushing and the tears of joy, and all the rest of it.

Tom’s dialed into his emotions and secure in his manhood and what that means is he’s not scared of a good cry.  Sometimes I’ll come downstairs and find him sitting alone in front of the TV, crying.  It might be Notting Hill.  Or a Red Wings win.  My Dog Skip.  The ESPN special about the Fab Five.  The Biggest Loser.  Love Actually.  I’ve seen Tom cry in front of Love Actually every December for the last twelve years.  A particularly devastating episode of CSI: Special Victims Unit.  The Olympics.  GOD, the Olympics.  He cries nonstop during the Olympics.

I envy Tom.  I wish I was more in touch with my emotions.  I guess it’s not crying that I crave, but the depth of feeling that leads to crying.

I once stepped into a small, dark church in Florence, put a coin into the light box, and was wrapped in the otherworldly glow of this.

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As far as art goes, this painting is really uncool. It’s by Pontormo, and he is a Mannerist, and one thing you learn very quickly as an Art History major is that you can’t ever admit to liking Mannerist art. Caravaggio made the Baroque ok.  But not Mannerism.  I mean, you can’t even like it ironically. It’s like saying you like Nickelback or Juicy Couture. I’m no scholar, but what I learned in my High Renaissance classes is this: Mannerism took the beauty and refinement of the Renaissance and forced it into grotesque places, by elongating proportions and using lots of pastel.

But man, you can’t control what speaks to you. Standing there in that cold, dark church, and seeing this thing as people must have seen it in the 16th century when people died young and often, I felt a rustle in the cold air around me. I felt religious. I felt MOVED. I sobbed my eyes out.  Who knows why.  But it felt amazing.

I cried for an ugly painting.  Why can’t I cry for something real?  I must be pent up, overdue.

I eagerly await the deluge.

juiced

What I love about the idea of a cleanse is the promise of rebirth. What I hate about a cleanse is that I seem constitutionally incapable of completing one. After watching Tom go on a food-based cleanse in early January, I felt bitter. Did he think he was better than me? He isn’t better than me, I muttered to myself. But how to know for sure, unless I completed my own cleanse?

I’d done a cleanse twice before, and failed. How to guarantee success this time around?  I looked inward, hard. I don’t fail at things often, but that is only because I don’t do things that I think I might fail at. My yoga teachers might tell you that’s why I fail to progress. What was getting in the way of my cleansing success? I could think of two hurdles right off the bat. The first was the sheer duration of a cleanse. I felt that I could not help but succeed, if I could somehow cut down on the length of time to completion. The second hurdle was my utter lack of willpower when it comes to food. Forced to make my own liquid meals in a house full of food, there was no chance I’d make it. I’d need to avoid my kitchen altogether.

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So that’s how I chose a three-day juice cleanse. I remembered that long ago, my friend Kim had extolled the virtues of the juices at Portland Juice Press—in particular, a milkshake-like drink that came at the end of each day’s ration of juices. I researched the company online. Six juices a day, for three days? With daily delivery to my house? How hard could that be?

A three day juice cleanse, it turns out, can be very hard. In my baseless optimism and stupidity, I got so excited that I found eight friends to do it with me, including Tom, and scored a group discount. I’m pretty sure it was Gandhi that said, “Why fail alone when you can fail with a bunch of other people?”

The first day’s juices arrived on Tuesday morning at 7:30. I’m a sucker for good packaging and my six bottles of juices were adorable, colorful, and delicious. They felt like collectibles. The first drink of the day, the Shauca, was a grapefruit/ginger/mint combo that woke me up and kept me buzzing until juice number two, the Guru, a magenta beet-based concoction. So far, I wasn’t hungry. In fact, I was very full, from all the liquid. I’m not a good water drinker, and I could see straight off that the biggest issue with the juice cleanse would be the sheer volume of liquid. I peed probably 18 times that first day. I felt light. I felt energetic. I felt purified.

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Juice at work was a cinch. When I got home, though, I had to cook for my kids. I heated up a pan to cook their flank steak, and felt an alarming quantity of drool begin to pool in my mouth. I looked around the kitchen in a panic. I spotted a jar of raw almonds and ate eight. I felt like a cheater, but better the eight almonds than a raw flank steak eaten with my hands, I told myself. While my kids ate their dinner, I sipped on hot water, and thought about the Om sitting in my refrigerator.

The Om is Portland Juice Press’s raison d’etre. It’s hazelnut milk with a healthy dose of cinnamon and dates, and on a normal diet you’d probably reject it as hippie food, but what an Om tastes like after a day of fruit juice is a Cheesecake Factory cheesecake. I sipped on it to make it last longer, and then went straight to bed after a hunger-induced argument with Tom that went like this:

Tom: “You ate almonds?  Ha, you lose.”

Yoona: “You think you’re better than me?  You drank COFFEE.”

The next day, I woke up feeling alert. I ran to the mirror and was bummed to find that I was not visibly thinner after 24 hours of liquid food. I shook off my disappointment and ran downstairs to rip open my next box of juices. I drank three more juices at work and even got through a kid’s birthday party in the afternoon without eating. It helped that two other parents at the party were cleansing. We stared at our kids’ pizzas and bonded over our shared hunger.

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On the second day, my friends and I were in various stages of falling apart. I was highly irritable. People kept asking me why I was doing a cleanse, and I couldn’t remember. Anytime anyone talked to me, I wanted to scream, “Get off my back, OK?!?” Whitney reported headaches and fatigue, and that she had to lay down between clients. Tom called me around 2:00 to yell “THIS IS BULLSHIT!!” and then hung up the phone. Ethan texted me angrily at 7:30 PM that Linds had the gall to make popcorn when he couldn’t have any. Too weak for his Insanity workout, Erskine went to bed at 9:00 PM bundled up in a down jacket. Kathryn also reported feeling cold. Now that they mentioned it, I realized that I was freezing too. I googled it while nursing my second Om. Lowered metabolism while cleansing can make you feel cold, and lead to flu-like symptoms. My teeth chattered in excitement. My cleanse was working!!

Day 3 dawned clear. I dutifully sucked down my day of juices until I got to 5:00 PM. On the calendar was a law firm party. As any lawyer knows, it is impossible to get through a law firm party without alcohol or snacks. I’d never done it before. I’d never even heard of it HAPPENING. Could I do it now? As I pulled on my fancy clothes in my office bathroom, I realized my pants fit looser. Hot diggity! I high-fived my reflection and told myself I could finish the cleanse. After all, I only had 12 more hours to go before I could have food.

Tom and I both got through the party without food or drink. We weren’t even hungry. But it was after the party that we realized that life without food just isn’t that much fun. We had a sitter but nowhere to go, since we weren’t eating. So we decided to own our failure and fall off the cleanse together. We went to a Japanese place and went nuts. When I took my first bite of seaweed salad, the right side of my jaw clicked and felt strange from disuse.

Afterward, of course, I felt remorseful. I couldn’t even complete a three-day juice cleanse! What a loser I was. But then I realized that even my partial juice cleanse had been beneficial. It had reminded me that in my everyday life, I am surrounded by bounty, by choice. And not having that for 2.75 days had reminded me how delicious food is, how fortunate I was to have it, and how lucky I was to be able to turn it down for the sake of a body experiment.

I think I’ll try the four-day cleanse next time.

early bird special

The older I get, the more I appreciate having friends who can hang with me while I party like a geriatric. I’m tired. My feet hurt. Increasingly, late dinners and parties feel like work. At around 10:00 PM, no matter where I am, my internal clock starts screaming that I should be heading back towards my house.

Kate Moss once said, famously, that nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. Not to disagree with such a preeminent authority on food, but in my experience, lots of things taste better than skinny feels, like, for starters, buffalo wings and popcorn shrimp. Kate inspired me to come up with my own personal motto, and here it is: Nothing tastes as good as my bed feels at 9:00 PM. Not quite the same ring, but it works. I’m going to get it engraved on some jewelry.

Last year we went to the Crab Feed at my athletic club with our friends Chris and Lauren. We ate like pigs and swore we’d be back a year later. Tonight, the four of us feasted again, this time, with Kathryn and Erskine. I arrived at 5:30 PM to find Chris at our table, alone, in the middle of a dimly lit room full of older couples. Game on.

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“Crab Feed” is a bit of a misnomer, as they also have prime rib, which I enjoy primarily as a vehicle for horseradish. We took off our rings and piled our plates high. I hit the crab three times. Then I hit the dessert bar. During dinner, I looked around at my friends, and felt a sense of warmth. I understood these people, and they understood me. What could be better, than to be understood? Then I looked around and noticed a table of three couples in their sixties, enjoying the same dinner. Five of the six were wearing red sweaters. That would be us some day. The thought, disturbingly, filled me with comfort.

lauren

lauren and tom discuss mah jongg

I ate so much that by the end of dinner I had to lean backwards in order to breathe. When I got home and took my pants off, my body immediately expanded, like when Pillsbury crescent rolls expand after you break the seal on the canister. My jeans sighed in relief, and then crumpled to the floor, having given heroic service.

Crab Feed 2014. It’s on the calendar.

**On a wholly unrelated note, please be sure to visit next week as I document my three day juice cleanse.

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xbox nation

I haven’t been writing as frequently because, as I’ve mentioned in my last few posts, I’ve been busy surviving my kids’ winter break. They’re back in school now. The alternating bouts of ennui and frenzied activity that made up the past three weeks have died down into something more regular, more sane.

But before it disappeared completely, this winter break left something pungent in its wake. The afternoon of the roller-skating debacle, we drove home from the rink around 2:00 in the afternoon, with a car full of family and nothing to fill the time until the inevitable Chipotle run at 5:00. I looked over at Tom in the passenger’s seat, and saw desperation in his eyes equal to mine. “Let’s do it,” I said. “Let’s get the Xbox.”

We’d been arguing about getting a video game system for months. Tom grew up on a country road with few neighbors, and no game system at home. The way he describes it, it is an absolute miracle that he did not grow up to be an ax murderer given this deprivation. When he got to college, he apparently suffered severe sociological consequences when his frat brothers wouldn’t let him play video games. “They’d never let me play because they said I didn’t know how,” he’ll tell you, in a tragic and aggrieved tone that is totally at odds with the ridiculousness of the statement.

As silly as Tom’s fear-mongering was, it worked. I started to worry that if I never let my boys play video games, I would be inhibiting their social development.

So we got an Xbox Kinect. Waiting in line at GameStop, I tried not to touch any surfaces and watched as the cashier hollered at a woman standing in line. “Ma’am? You alright with your child playing ‘Call of Duty,’ rated M??” “You bet,” she hollered back, while cracking her gum. I clutched my Xbox tightly to my chest and promised myself that my kids would only play sports games, and that this was the only time I would ever need to be physically present inside a GameStop.

We bought a few games with the system, but really all anyone has been doing is playing FIFA 2013. The first time Tom played the game, he stood in front of the TV and stated without irony that the game was “the best thing that has ever happened to me.” I waited for him to look back at me with his sheepish grin, adding on the usual caveat (“except for you and the boys!”), but I waited in vain. He never looked back at me at all. Because I’d already lost him to FIFA.

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That first session, Tom and Cuz played for like 90 minutes and scored not a single goal between the two of them, even with several rounds of penalty kicks. A penalty kick is when you kick on the goal with no one in front of you but the goalie, who in this case, is not even a real goalie, but a computer generated figure that moves with all the grace and agility of Frankenstein.

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But they’re better now, because they play almost every night after the kids are in bed. They’ve taught Finn and even my Mom, although it’s unclear whether either Finn or my Mom know how to work the controllers. Last weekend, Finn played with his friend and neighbor Owen, and Owen beat him 8-1. “At least Finn got one goal,” I whispered to Cuz. “No,” Cuz whispered back, shaking her head. “Owen accidentally scored on himself.” I thought that simply buying the Xbox would be enough to assure my sons’ future social ascendancy. Watching Finn and Owen, I realized that I would now have to worry about my boys being good at video games. I stood up abruptly. “Owen, it’s time to go home,” I said.

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At least Finn is learning sportsmanship, even if he sucks at FIFA 2013. I overheard Cuz and Finn talking to one another in the car last week. “You’re not good at FIFA, Aunt Bora,” said Finn. “What are you even talking about? I scored on you the last game,” Cuz retorted.

“Yeah, but it was a cheap goal,” Finn muttered from the backseat.

Ah, long live Xbox.

bad parenting, winter break edition

My kids are on winter break, which is two weeks in duration but feels like it’s not a day less than 57. We are currently on day 7 and have another week to go. We’ve made gingerbread houses, gone to the playground, shot Nerf guns, constructed Legos. And then it was December 26th and we ran out of things to do. So we bowled, one day. Finn’s preferred method of bowling is to heave the bowling ball as hard as he can into the ground right at his feet, but he got the job done with the help of some bumpers. Tate played with a ramp and doubled my score.

Flush with success from the bowling, the next day, I suggested roller skating. Tom cringed and gave me one of those looks that indicates that he wants to say no but is powerless to do so in the face of my enthusiasm, which can morph very quickly into rage when challenged. Still, he tried: “I think maybe we should go ice skating instead? It’s easier.”

I humphed. Easier for whom, exactly? Tom grew up in Michigan where everyone ice skates from an early age. I ice skated for the first time when I was 24 and almost broke both ankles, which was an unpleasant surprise given that Koreans are historically very good at Olympic short track. Roller skating, however—now that was the stuff. I grew up skating at the Skate World out in Hillsboro, and I was really, really good. I mean, not to brag, but I was shooting the duck and skating backwards and I hokey pokey’ed on wheels even better than I did in regular shoes.

In spite of all that, in the face of Tom’s doubt, I wavered. The ice skating rink was much closer, and also inside this mall, which I love. But no. I’m not in the business of doing things I suck at in my leisure time. “The ice is cold when you fall,” I said, with an edge of steel in my voice. “I think we should go roller skating.” So we went roller skating. Not just us and our hapless children, but with poor Aunt Susan, Uncle Matt, and Grandma in tow.

The first sign of trouble at the rink came when we were handed our skates at the rental counter. It was comforting, in a way, to realize that roller skates had evolved not at all in the twenty years since I’d last skated. Tate’s pair weighed like ten pounds, which is approximately a third of his body weight. I shrugged off the first seeds of doubt and strapped them on. And Tate seemed excited. All three of the men in my family have the trait where they can picture themselves doing something before they actually do it, and they are AWESOME in their mind’s eye. Once he had his wheels on, Tate was ready to roll.

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Until he moved his legs. He fell like eighty times and we were still on the carpet in the rental area. I started to sweat a bit, but laughed and soldiered on. I’d chosen roller skating when everyone else wanted to ice skate, and what that meant was that by God, these boys were going to skate if it killed me. I grabbed Tate under his armpits and skated him to the rink between my legs.

We gingerly rolled onto the rink and attempted to merge into traffic. If you’ve not had the pleasure of skating or skiing with a kid between your legs, it’s a fascinating lesson in physics. Your kid will put all of his torso weight backwards and lean into you, which propels their bottom half forward, so that the skis or wheels shoot forward at a faster speed than either of your bodies. Too complicated? Picture Tate, laying almost on his back, being held up solely by my hands under his armpits. From a distance it probably looked like I was pushing a wheelbarrow. We made it one lap around and my quads were on fire. I was sweatier than I’ve ever gotten in hot yoga.

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I looked around for Tom and Finn. Surely they were having better luck. I spotted them across the rink. Finn was between Tom and Aunt Susan, pulling on both sets of grown-up arms in an effort to avoid falling down. Tom shot me a look that said “Welcome to the hell you have created.” Yikes. I left Tate with Grandma and skated over to them. I took Finn’s hands from the front and skated backwards while pulling him forward. He was skating! At least for a few seconds. And the look he gave me from those amazing brown eyes—hope, elation—is what will stick with me from our otherwise traumatic roller skating experience. Not my back, which I’m pretty sure I threw out, or the image of Tom, powerless to stop, running a kid into the wall and shouting “I’m sorry!!” over his shoulder.

Ok, maybe I’ll have two images that stick with me.

the best of the season

I like creativity. But I crave order. And nowhere is this more apparent than during our annual holiday cookie bake. Linds comes over, for a full day. We bake approximately 400 cookies. We wrap our precious booty in tins and cookie boxes. We are a FORCE. The day requires coordination and two people who have cooked together enough to have figured out a rhythm.

This year, my boys wanted to help decorate the cookies. But I am very specific about my cookies, having learned years ago from the best of the best, my sister-in-law Susan. I strive for elegance, consistency, and precision in my cookie decorating. I abhor cutesy cookies and stick to a limited palette of holiday-appropriate colors. My kids don’t care about any of that. They just want to slide their feet around in flour, eat raw cookie dough, and sprinkle stuff.

Tate wanted to decorate a cookie. He ignored the red and green sprinkles we’d laid out, and did his own thing. And the end result was my worst holiday cookie nightmare, but it’s alright. It’s the holidays. He can have his blue and pink cookie. But I have to do my thing too. And I have a cookie platter to worry about, and my platter doesn’t do blue and pink. So I admit that I made Finn eat Tate’s cookie first.

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It’s been a stellar December. My husband gave into two years of begging and went to a Zumba class with me today. It took approximately 45 minutes of psychological warfare but I got the job done by requesting his presence at Zumba as my Christmas gift. Having given in, he shook his head and muttered under his breath as he slowly pulled on his gym clothes. “I am a sad, sad man.” Climbing into the car, he looked me dead in the eyes and said, accusingly, “Men all over the world have lost something today.” He was so down about it that I almost called the whole thing off, because Zumba is not a downer. It’s a party. But we made it to class. He stood in the back and I was worried he’d try to escape but he grinned throughout the hour and I grinned too, watching his long arms flail around in the mirror.

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What’s not to grin about? He loves me more than his pride. For that and so much more, I, in turn, love him more than is rational. And permit me this moment of emotion–love really is the best Christmas gift of all.

Happy holidays everyone.