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Location: Northern California

Monday, December 17, 2007


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

I've decided that I need a vacation from blogging so I'm going to take one. Have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year! I'll be back in 2008.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Santa Mommy reporting

[Updated: I don't know what I was thinking but it's actually only 8 days until Christmas. Oh my! Maybe I should be panicked after all.]

T minus 11 days! I'm feeling good about this Christmas season. I'm done shopping for the kids and for Mike, and the remaining items on my to-do list aren't keeping me up at night -- always a good sign.

Out of town family members -- Most things got in the mail last week; a couple more packages will hit the counter at the post office tomorrow morning.

Kids -- I'm done shopping for them unless I see some must-have item on deep clearance. They're getting some simple toys, doll clothes, and art supplies. Nothing too fancy. I've been tossing things into a closet for months; I still need to go through everything when the kids are both at school to make sure one child doesn't have a disproportionate number of gifts.

Mike -- I got him a gadget for the geek who has everything. I think he'll get a kick out of it. I'll reveal more after Christmas! I also got him some items of a more practical nature.

Teachers -- I got a small something for each of the head teachers. At Emily's school, a bunch of parents are going in on a present. Thomas is giving each of his teachers a Starbuck's gift certificate.

Holiday baking -- I'm reducing the number and kind of cookies this year. Honestly, it's too much work, plus most people face a plate of cookies with a groan and a frown. This year I'm baking mini loaves of banana bread for the neighbors on either side of us and chocolate chip cookies for the kids's classmates.

We're off to a holiday party, followed by a birthday party at a jump house party place. I have a feeling I'm going to be overdressed at the second party, but that can't be helped.

Friday, December 14, 2007


'Tis the season to be teary

I don't know what's wrong with me. The other day I was taking the kids to art class when the holiday classic Little Drummer Boy came on the radio. Before I could sing, "pa rum pum pum pum," I was crying so hard I could barely see to drive.

Have you ever listened to the words of that song? It's so sad!

Then Mike sent me a link to this video. In his email he described it as "almost funny." Funny?! Is funny supposed to make you cry? Maybe tears are the new laughter.

Gee, and I haven't even watched It's a Wonderful Life yet. I'm not sure my holiday-stressed hormones can handle it.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Close encounters of the caller ID kind

"This bottle of champagne is for my hairdresser."

"Is it customary to give your hairdresser a Christmas present?"

"Well, I really like her and I think we have a friendship. Like today when I called to make an appointment, she knew it was me on the phone."

"Oh, you mean she has caller ID?"


"Well, maybe you do have a psychic connection. Otherwise, welcome to the nineties."

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


A perfectly pleasant place

I was out to dinner with some friends recently and we started talking about the suburban paradise in which we live. Our city, San Mateo, is a suburban town located 20 miles south of San Francisco. It boasts a population of about 92,000 people. It's nice here, certainly a nice place to raise a family. But sometimes it can seem lacking in something that might make it interesting or exciting or anything other than a nice place.

That night we brainstormed some taglines for our pleasant little suburb. I remembered a couple and came up with some more this morning while I was walking around our local indoor mall. Feel free to use these if they also apply to your town!

San Mateo -- A perfectly pleasant place.

San Mateo -- You won't get shot here.

San Mateo -- A nice place to die of old age.

San Mateo -- We're dull on purpose.

San Mateo -- Smile!

San Mateo -- Where people sleep.

San Mateo -- We've had an indoor mall since the 50s.

San Mateo -- A place where grandparents come to visit their grandchildren.

San Mateo -- A perfectly acceptable place to call home.

San Mateo -- A ghost town after 10:00 PM.

San Mateo -- It's nice if you are.

[P.S. Yes, I like living here.]

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Hair of the Ruffles

MOM is just WOW upside down
Originally uploaded by marytsao
Is it possible to get a hangover from too many chips smothered with French onion soup mix dip? If so, I had one this morning after pigging out last night while watching Tivo'd episodes of What Not To Wear. I was tired, my head was throbbing, and my mouth was dry from complete and total salt-based dehydration. Yuck. Not a pleasant way to wake up.

Maybe that's why I was crabby all day, yelling at the kids for being... well, kids. I just wanted to be alone in my chip and dip-induced misery, but today was not a school day. Therefore the kids were at home, and I spent most of the day alternating between picking up toys and screaming at them to help me pick up toys. Finally, around 4:00, when their high-pitched screams of joy woke me up again from the nap I was trying to take on the couch, I made them put on their pajamas with the idea that I was going to send them to bed without their supper. Good riddance!

By 4:30 I realized the error of my ways. Mike had a welding class tonight and wouldn't be home for dinner. I could make something at home out of a frozen chicken breast and half a can of corn (what was in the refrigerator since I didn't make it to the grocery store today). Or I could go out to eat, thereby not having to cook or clean up afterward. But going out to eat meant that I would have to retract my "to bed without supper!" declaration. Decisions, decisions.

Of course, it wasn't like the kids were in bed. Ya, they had their pajamas on but they were doing a whole lot of bouncing off the walls and not a whole lot of sitting quietly while contemplating their sins. Deciding they were too young for that particular punishment--and that I was too lazy to try and drum up dinner at home--I asked them to put their clothes back on; we were going out to dinner.

Not surprisingly, the kids started behaving a lot less like animals and a lot more like well-behaved little people once we were out in public. I felt better, too. Even though in theory I like spending some days at home, the reality is that being inside with the kids for hours on end drives all of us crazy.

After dinner we even went on a Target run. The kids were a little freaked out to be in Target at night, but they quickly got used to the idea and sat nicely in the two-kid train cart while I got the cookie sheets, laundry detergent, and personal hygiene items that I so desperately needed.

The day was saved, but the next time you see me with a bowl of chips cradled in my lap, can you please remind me that eating crap makes me feel like crap? Thanks.

Monday, December 10, 2007


On pirates and horses

Emily and Santa
Originally uploaded by marytsao
I'm alive!

I'm alive, but busy, busy, busy. What else is new? December is definitely my crazy-making month. Thomas's birthday was a three-day event filled with lots of pirate booty. It started with his actual birthday, which was a family-centric day. The next day he celebrated at preschool with cupcakes. The third day-o-birthday was the day we had his friends over for a pirate-themed party.

The pirate party was a lot of fun, and apparently all the kids were talking about it at school today. Isn't that cute? At the party one kid refused to leave and his mom had to leave him here; his dad finally picked him up an hour and a half after the party ended. I was flattered, but also tired. It had been a long three days and I still needed to get gussied up for the Google holiday party.

Remember that outfit I wore to last year's party? Hopefully not, because I wore that outfit again, from the dress to the make-up. I did get a new jacket and shoes, but the rest was all last year. Wearing the outfit twice suddenly made the cost seem much more reasonable. Plus it was easy, and this year I'm all about the easy. My parents were in town for Thomas's birthday, and my mom was kind enough to watch the kids overnight so Mike and I could have a whole night out and off. I was happy to sleep in a hotel room that had blackout curtains and a breakfast buffet.

My parents returned to Illinois on Sunday, and the Tsao family went on its second flight together with Mike as our pilot. This time we went from Hayward to Watsonville, where we had lunch at Zuniga's, a Mexican restaurant at the airport. After returning from our flight, we went to Fry's Electronics. Because that is what geeky families do for fun.

Today was a typical Monday for me, but tonight Emily met her new best friend, Santa! She decided that this year she wanted to give that guy a big 'ol hug, which she did. Right before asking him for a horse for Christmas. Interesting. I wonder if she'll settle for a book about horses or perhaps a small, stuffed horse.

Well, that's the exciting stuff that's been happening around these parts. Can you believe it's only two weeks until Christmas? Eek!

Thursday, December 06, 2007


And the winner is...

Originally uploaded by marytsao
The winner of the giant Miffy doll giveaway is Zoe! [UPDATED -- Zoe, Your email address isn't working. Please email me mary dot tsao at gmail dot com and send me your address. Thanks!] Thanks to all who participated.

It's Thomas's 3rd birthday so we've got a full day of fun and tantrums planned. Apparently, Thomas never got the memo that the terrible 2s are supposed to be over.

Hope you're having a great Thursday!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Holiday card roundup 2006

I did this in 2005, and it was a lot of fun. I meant to do it again in 2006, but then I never got around to it. In fact, I completely forgot about the idea until I discovered a box yesterday filled with--that's right!--the holiday cards we got last year. Therefore, and with the idea that it's never too late, I give you the Holiday Card Roundup 2006.

Holiday Cards: Give and Ye Shall Receive. Donna of Socal Mom echoes this sentiment in her post today about holiday cards, and I'm here to tell you that it's true.

Number of cards mailed: 98
Number of cards received: 51

Number of cards containing or featuring a holiday photo: 35
Number of cards not containing a holiday photo: 16

Number of cards featuring newly married people: 1
Number of cards announcing a new baby: 1
Number of cards announcing a new home: 1

Number of cards featuring children in matching outfits: 5
Number of photos featuring entire families with matching outfits: 0

Number of cards featuring little girls with hair bows: 3
Number of cards featuring a child wearing a Santa hat: 3
Number of cards featuring a child wearing a holiday bandanna: 1

Number of cards featuring a child sucking his thumb: 2
Number of cards featuring a child with his tongue stuck out: 1
Number of cards featuring a child who looked like he was Photoshopped in: 1

Number of cards featuring dogs: 5
Number of cards listing the dog as one of the family members: 3
Number of cards featuring a dog wearing a holiday bandanna: 2
Number of cards featuring a dog wearing reindeer antlers: 1

Number of cards from colleges looking for alumni donations: 2
Number of cards thanking us for supporting a neighbor boy's school fundraising efforts: 1

Number of cards taken in front of the Pacific Ocean: 5
Number of cards taken in front of some other body of water: 1
Number of cards featuring a family that looked cold: 2 (down from 3 last year!)

Number of cards from people I've never met: 2
Number of cards from people I met on the Internet: 2

Number of cards that were hand delivered: 1
Number of cards that came with a check: 1
Number of cards that came with a homemade holiday CD: 1
Number of cards that came with a holiday newsletter: 1

Number of Happy New Year cards: 3
Number of Happy New Year cards that were the exact same design: 2
Number of cards designed by people who clearly hold degrees in graphic design: 2

Number of photos featuring kids cuter than my own: 0

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Chicken soup and holiday cards

Christmas tree: after
Originally uploaded by marytsao
It was raining when we woke up today and shortly after a heavy fog set in. The kids and I decided it was a bad day to leave the house. Instead we stayed inside, where we ate brownies, made chicken soup, and addressed the envelopes for our holiday cards. The kids ate the brownies; I did the rest.

It feels good to have the holiday cards off my to-do list. Yesterday we finished the holiday decorating, and now it's full steam ahead to Thomas's 3rd birthday on Thursday and his birthday party on Saturday. This year it's all about his preschool and playgroup friends so I'm mentally preparing myself for a dozen little people running around in pirate gear. Should be crazy but a lot of fun, too.

It's that busy time of the year. Lazy days like today are good for me. I'm trying to take care of myself by not overdoing and getting too stressed out about trivial stuff. So far I think it's working; I don't feel nearly as crazed as I did this time last year. Let's hope that's still true after this upcoming weekend. Note to self: Don't forget to breathe!

Monday, December 03, 2007


My Kingdom for a Miffy

What a great weekend. It was so nice not to have to blog or work on a novel. I want to tell you all about what I did do, but first I promised my good friend Mir that I would help her in her quest to give away a bunch of adorable, giant Miffy dolls.

Want one?

Here's the deal:

  • See that Miffy doll to the right? Please note that she is 28" tall and a Ty's exclusive. Also note that she is wearing pajamas, not a space suit.
  • Ty's would like to give you one of these, through a random drawing on my blog.
  • Due to the gigantic nature of the box in which Miffy will be shipped, this offer is for U.S. residents only.
  • To enter, go to Ty's Toy Box and browse their merchandise. Then come back here and leave a comment telling me which Ty's item caught your eye. For example, I think I would die from cute overload if I saw my little guy in a pair of these Curious George gym shoes.
  • You have until 11:59 PM on Wednesday night to leave a comment. Don't forget to tell me what item you like!
  • On Thursday morning I will randomly pick a winning commenter while drinking my morning coffee and announce it on ye olde blog.
  • That lucky person will receive their very own Miffy doll, courtesy of Ty's.

Easy enough, eh? Mir also wants me to tell you that right now Ty's is offering automatic free shipping on domestic orders over $65 (and a $10 shipping credit for international orders over $65), and that through December 3rd (that's today!) you can also use coupon code HOLIDAY5 to take $5 off a $50+ order.

Good luck, my friends. May the Miffy be with you.