Lunch with the Smiths


Kris and I met up with the Smiths for lunch today. Though Meter was wary of Kris-Stranger-Danger, she cuddled up to me, which made me very very happy. Yes, having lunch with two little girls who have a balloon and a tiara between the two of them, is a fabulous way to start a new year.




Yeah, and, about that tiara, I couldn't resist.

The tiara looks good on me.

MMMM housewarming!


Kris and I went over to Mark and Megan's for their house warming party. I tragically didn't remember the invite correctly, and missed that it started at 11:00 AM, thinking it started at 1:00 PM and showing up at 2:00 PM would be fine. It was supposed to end at 3:00 PM, so I was dumb.

We arrived some time soon after 2:00 PM, and chatted for a moment with Brynne and Chookie and Shirley and Martha and Doyle people before Megan walked in with Meter on her hip. Oh, little kid, please tell me you've forgiven me, please, oh, please, I thought, as I asked Megan if I could hold Meter. Megan said sure, Meter resisted. I eventually won her over, and she let me hold her and play with her.

With her pigtails, oh my goodness, does Meter look like Mirabelle.


Eventually, Mark came over from socializing with other guests, and sat down with us to talk. When I handed him Meter, Mark commented that she's been having a rough week. He brushed aside her bangs and showed us a lovely flower of a bruise. Aside from Meter's gum dive, she rode her tricycle off the deck and managed to land on her head.

Either that kid is going to be the toughest kid on the block or Evel Knievel's logical successor.


Thanksgiving at the Smiths


This holiday season, Kris and I have pretty much made no plans. No, that's not quite right, we've made some plans. In particular, we've planned NOT to travel for the holidays. This is a big break from my family's usual plans of gathering for Thanksgiving, which typically leaves Christmas open for Kris' family gatherings in December. However, with all of my travel this year, and finances being as iffy as they are, we've decided not to join the mass migration to other parts of the country.

Besides, how would Kris be able to play World of Warcraft from his mother's computer? I mean, really?

So, when Megan let us invite ourselves, er, invited us over for Thanksgiving, we jumped at the chance. I enjoy big family gatherings, and the Smith family qualifies for both big and family. Besides, the new house needed proper family christening, and what fun would that be?


Since we were heading over hill and over dale to the Smiths' house, and hills crush Kris' car's gas milage, I drove us up to the house. When I arrived, I noticed that the parking pad next to the house was empty. After checking that the other easy parking spots were full, I circled back around to part on the parking pad. That was when Kris spoke up.

"You're not going to part here, are you?"

"Yeh, I was planning on it."

"Can't we park back up there?"

"No. Look, there are four parking spots here. Dinner is in like an hour, we're probably the last people here. I'll just park here. Besides, Megan said they put in an extra spot."

"Why aren't you parking on the side?"

"Because the tenant parks on the left."


Take that, gravity!

Megan later confirmed that EVERYONE avoided parking on the new parking pad, so I had better have parked there! I made sure Kris heard her, complete with a confirmation that he had.

So, you know that Calvin and Hobbes strip where Calvin is just walking along in one panel, and in the next there's this blur with a tail on one side? Yeah, the one where both Calvin and Hobbes are in a heap in the third panel? Yes, that one.

That was us, when we approached the front door of the house. Together, Kris and I were Calvin. The part of Hobbes was played by Kevin, who came rushing us from the side of the house and tackled the two of us, to much merriment and greetings.

The tackle just set the tone for the whole evening, which was marvellously spectacular. I managed another bear hug from Matty, and lots of chatting with Kevin, and Mark, and Mark's parents, and Megan's parents, and TWO grandmothers (which is crazy! Mirabelle and Meter have a good chance at long lives). I wanted to help Megan out with the dinner, but, well, she was done.

The meal, holy moly, I swear must have taken Megan all day plus two, even though she denies it. She made the entire meal a Smitten Kitchen recipe meal (which could have ended disastrously when SK's monthly bandwidth quota was exceeded this morning and everyone was locked out of the site, except that Megan is resourceful and used the Google cache to retrieve the recipe details she was missing), which meant it was completely Kris friendly.

Think lobster, and you're close to how wonderful the meal was.

The house is looking fabulous. I really like the design choices they've made with the house. I need to ask about the flooring. Thinking of putting it in at the Indiana house.

So, when people ask us what we're thankful for, I'll say with no hesitation that having friends like the Smiths is one of the biggest blessings in our lives and we're incredibly happy for their presence in our lives. I'm glad I don't need a big holiday to know or remember this.

Hanging out with Meter


Megan needed a little help this morning, with the handful known as Meter. When she asked me to help out, I jumped at the chance, er, gracefully accepted. Megan needed about an hour, so she helped me fit Meter into a front sling and off the two of us went.

We wandered down the main street of Los Gatos, looking into windows, wandering into various stores. The first store we went into was the one I was looking for: Williams Sonoma. We went in, wandered through the baking items, the various fancy glasses (which I dashed away from quickly when I realized that Meter's reach was greater than I thought), the mixes and sauces, the knives, and the cooking implements. I was looking for some small pie dishes, similar to the ones I received from Max and Rosa at our wedding: a set of four 5" pie plates for mini pies.

Alas, Williams Sonoma didn't have them, but they did have a set of four towels that match Andy's kitchen and a spatula that doubled nicely as a Meter chew toy.

Fifteen minutes down, another 45 minutes to go.

We managed to find a health food store which carried rice protein powder. I was momentarily discouraged when I first looked at their selection, as it was about 90% whey protein, 6% soy protein and 2% "tastes like crap" egg protein. Fortunately, I found the rice protein and was all set.

We wandered down to the end of Main Street, before turning around and wandering back to the other end of town. That trip included a detour into the Apple store. Meter was fascinated with all the colors and buttons. Not that I blame her. Have to start these kids early, so that they know quality.

Eventually, Megan was done, and the three of us wandered to a cafe to pick up lunch and, the best part, dessert. I ate mine before lunch, as all good dessert should be eaten first.

We then walked back to Mirabelle's day care, and waited for her class to end so that all of us could have lunch together.

While we were waiting, Megan had to head into the office for a permission slip, so I continued to wait for Mirabelle's class to be over. Megan was still gone when the classroom door flew open and a rush of little people came pouring out of the room into waiting arms of crouching parents.

Mirabelle, however, stood just inside of the room, as everyone else ran around. She stood there, looking down, looking so sad. I had intended on waiting for Megan, but seeing Mirabelle standing there, all by herself, the tiny little girl looking so sad, I just had to go and say hello.

After I said hello, Mirabelle looked up at me, very confused. Recognition danced across her face after a few seconds, and she smiled, launching into an excited tale of kittens on a pillow, kittens on a PILLOW, KITTENS ON A PILLOW!

Megan, Meter and I sat down to eat lunch, but Mirabelle kept running around excited about the map of the complex, and the KITTEN on a PILLOW, and the acorns, and oh, oh, oh! The DRINKING FOUNTAIN! How exciting was the drinking fountain? She kept running to us, then running back to the drinking fountain to take a drink, then back to us, then back to the drinking fountain. Every once in a while, she would also return to us and announce she used the DRINKING FOUNTAIN!

So much fun.

Eventually, Meter ate Mirabelle's quiche, minus the hot pepper parts, thereby earning both Mirabelle and Meter their just desserts.

Gingerbread men were never so tasty.

Birthday ice cream, number 1


Since I won't be around here for my birthday, Kris allowed me to have a small birthday celebration tonight. Andy came over after practice, as did Mark, Megan, Mirabelle and Meter. We ordered in food. Andy and I went to pick it up. After consuming, we all drove California Carpool style to Coldstone for ice cream. My birthday ice cream.

I (unsurprisingly) brought my camera. After walking into Coldstone, I lifted up the camera and said, "Smile!"

This is what I received in response:

Megan? Quick on the draw.

Andy? Not so much.

Mirabelle? Well, she knows how to smile and laugh. Oh boy!

The whole trip was fabulous. Like Coldstone would ever be anything but fabulous.

Happy birthday, Megan!


Today we all decided on the Old Spaghetti Factory to celebrate Megan's birthday.

Okay, we didn't decide, really. Megan decided for us, as a communal dinner sort of thing. Good times, especially the cheese with spaghetti topping I had. Yum.

I don't know how old Megan is, but if I had to guess, 27. Yeah, maybe 28, but don't tell her I thought that.

Not so faire


Megan and I went with the girls to the Maker Faire today. Only, we didn't quite make it. And Mark came along.

Our original plan was to head up around 10:30, head into the faire around 11, and leave around 1:30 or 2. The cost was $25 a person, but, well, two crafty women tooling around with two small kids in tow? Yeah, we'd see what we needed to see in those three hours, and boy, would it be worth the $25 a head, kids free!

Only, we didn't figure on the lines. The lines, the lines, the lines.

The first line was on 101 N to get onto 92 W. Megan pretty much said "screw this!" in a much nicer way, and went north on 101 to 3rd St. Megan's navigational abilities are impressive, as she turned left on Delaware after crossing 101, and voila! we were on our way to the fairgrounds, which were ON Delaware, about a mile south. We managed to bypass about a hour of sitting in traffic with the detour, and find a great parking space on the parking shuttle bus route, so we didn't have to walk to the fairgrounds.

We arrived, to discover two lines: the 45 minute credit card line, and the 30 minute cash line. Mirabelle and I jumped in one line, as Mark and Meter jumped in the other, and Megan went off to figure out which line we wanted to be in, and how long we would be in the line.

After looking at the line, seeing the next line inside, realizing it would be 12:30 before we managed to actually get into the fair, we gave up, and went off for a different adventure.

We ended up at Central Park in San Mateo, mostly because the park has a train for kids to ride around on, but also because it was close, and we were hungry and ready for lunch.

The great thing about parks is that they enable you to learn, without really trying. Take, for example, the cork tree that I learned about. I thought it was just a weird tree. Turns out, it's actually a weird, FUNCTIONAL tree. How's that for learning?

I also learned that, hey, you know what, people do go to the park for lunch and resting by a tree in the shade.

Who knew?

After lunch, the only appropriate thing for a two year old to do at a park is, well, you know, break the law.

So, with a little encouragement, Mirabelle did just that.

Okay, so maybe it wasn't "a little." It was, however, certainly appropriate. Civil disobedience at a young age! Ah, it warms the heart!

What? What did Mirabelle do?

Well, the sign behind her reads:

"It is unlawful to enter or use the elevated stage area at CENTRAL PARK without a CITY permit."

The sign is actually quoted like that, too.

Of course, Mirabelle was by far NOT the only person up on the stage, sharing it with a runner, an old dude and a dog, but she was the cutest. And! She was up for a continuing adventure. Like, battling the bathroom wind monsters. I tell you, Mirabelle's wind kung fu knows no limit!

Neither does how much she's able to impress me. Without hesitation, when we arrived at the playground, she wanted to go up! So, up she went to the top of the playground equipment. "Ladders? They're for climbing. Even if the rungs are slippery, and I have to hang on with one pinky while I manage to get my footing." That's what she was telling me.

Clearly she's done this before, as neither Mark nor Megan worried about her zooming up to the top. Me? I was a wreck during her climb.

One of the best parts of climbing up, is coming back down.

After the junglegym, we had to leave for other afternoon plans. We buzzed through the Japanese gardens, seeing the small japanese maple trees, the pagoda, a couple bridges and, of course, the fish.

All in all, a pretty wonderful day with the Smiths. Who needs a faire when you have a Mirabelle to keep you company?

Growing up


Megan, Mirabelle, Meter and I (oooooo, you could say the four lady M's!) went to Ikea today for lunch, because Ikea is just where you go for lunch with a 2 year old and a 2 month old. It's true. You knew that, right?

Mirabelle surprised me several times on the trip by asking me full questions complete with the proper intonations. Imagine a fifty year old woman projecting the question, "How are you, Kitt?" through a two year old girl's vocal cords, and you might get a hint of how wigged out I was at her questions.

It's neat watching her, though, seeing her develop a personality, much like watching Liza go from a toddler to this amazing little person. Not that I'd call her little to her face - she's practically to my shoulder already! Don't I feel short.

At one point during our Ikea adventure, Mirabelle and I decided to "run this way!" and off we went. Megan called after me a few moments later, "Hey, Kitt, do you have one of my kids?" I'm not sure how sheepishly I had to answer, "Yes, but she started it!"

New baby!


When Mark and Megan were over last night, Megan realized she was going into labor. She had had contractions yesterday morning, but they subsided. She wasn't getting a repeat tonight.

Around 8:30, after an hour of contractions spaced by five minutes, she called her parents to let them know they should head down to take care of Mirabelle when Mark and Megan went to the hospital. Around 9:30, Mark, Megan, Mirabelle and I drove back to their place for Megan to shower before heading to the hospital. The plan was I'd watch Mirabelle until Megan's parents arrived, Mark and Megan would head to the hospital.

Megan's parents arrived around 10:30, before Megan had left for the hospital, so my work there was light.

This morning at 7:30, Megan left me a message on my cell phone. Mayanna Kathleen Smith was born at 6:31 AM, 10 fingers, 10 toes and a shock of blonde hair.

I'm never sure when hospital visits are okay. I know when Kris is in the hospital, he doesn't want visitors. When I'm with him, I don't want visitors, because I don't like having to explain what's going on with him. We try to skip that whole thing by just not telling anyone he's gone into the hospital unless we really need to tell them.

Kris' hospital stays aren't the joyous occassions births are. So, I called Mark to explain my hesitation in visiting, that I didn't want to add to the cacophany of visitors. He laughed, said he understood, and hung up. He called back a couple hours later to tell me visiting would be good now, so I left a delicious dinner at Andy's and dashed over.

Megan and I talked for a while. She told me about her day, which made me happy I hadn't come over earlier - lots of people, not so much sleep. But I'm very glad they invited me over when they did.

For future reference: when a hospital says visiting hours are over, visiting hours are over. Waiting two hours to leave means the hospital is locked down, and you'll have to walk 3/4 of a mile through and around the hospital, looking for the approved (and un-alarmed) exit back to your car.



Megan invited Kris and me over for Thanksgiving dinner. She knew we were orphaned this holiday, where "orphaned" is, of course, defined as too cheap to buy expensive tickets to visit our loved ones, opting to spend that money on flights to the Midwest for everyone to work on a house I bought instead. Or so I tell Kris.

I thought we'd have Mark and Megan, their parents, us, Doyle and Shirley, and maybe a couple of Mark's brothers. I was delightfully wrong, as we greeted Megan's parents, Mark's parents, Megan's sister (whom I had heard lots about, but only met in passing before), her significant other (who I've known for DECADES, but only after confirmed he was, indeed, more than 20 years old), all three Smith brothers of Kyle, Kevin, Matthew (who is now Matthew, and no longer Matty), both Smith grandmothers (though only one is actually a Smith), Mark's Dad's brother, his guest, his son and his significant other, a coworker of Mark's (another orphan), Kyle's Emily (who rocks, and hey, did you know she's beautiful in turkey dinner candlelight?), and Mirabelle (who slept thought much of the afternoon, and was the only person under 18 there (yay, Matty, er, Matthew).

I'm sure I'm missing a few others who were there, but that's just it: the living area was filled with three tables of people from four generations of Smith's. The house was filled with the smells of amazing food, and sounds of dozens of people talking in merriment. I can say that, because I sat at the children's table with Doyle and Shirley and Kris and Matty, er, Matthew, and Lucas and Kevin and Emily, with Kyle at the head of the table, and there was much merriment at our table.

After dinner, I wandered into Keith's office to work out a problem I've been gnawing on for a while now, from a personal site I've been working on. While I was working, many people came to visit with me, which was really cool, as I was able to catch up with them one-on-one in a quiet room instead of in a big crowd with lots of noise. Heather and Vinny and Vincent's mother showed up after dinner, with Heather being one of the people who came to visit with me. We talked for probably half an hour, which was about 25 minutes longer than any other conversation we've had. It was nice to finally talk to her, as we've been in the same social circle for years and never actually talked.

Rock Band started up about an hour after dinner, with the Smith Brother's Band rocking the house. Mark was on ocals, Kyle on drums and Kevin played guitar. Their first song brought down the house, with the entire family watching their musical exploits. Their second song was one that, well, Mark had never heard of, much less knew of, and, well, they failed that song. When they started back up again, Shirley grabbed the microphone as Mark's backup singer, and recovered their score.

The entire afternoon to evening to night event was wonderful and in some ways completely amazing. My family hasn't had the big family Thankgiving dinner since we stopped going to my aunt's house, many years ago. I miss that gathering and its festivities. I'm incredibly thankful that Megan and Mark let Kris and me share with their family's festivities.

I'm also amazed my kale dish was completely eaten. Even Mirabelle liked my cooked carrots. Of course, even brussel sprouts taste good with enough olive oil, garlic and balsamic vinegar, eh?