Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Gav girls' guide to holiday greatness

1. Pick out a tree

The tree we were *supposed* to have

2. Then decorate it

Decorating the tree


3. Bake cookies



4. Then eat them



5. Visit Santa


6. Play in the snow


7. Build a snowman



8. Get dressed up


9. Snuggle up on the couch and read a book


10. Leave cookies for Santa


11. Wear warm jammies


12. Sit next to the tree and take it all in


13. Hug someone you love


Merry, merry Christmas, everyone!

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Monday, December 22, 2008

I hope you dance

In my opinion, one of the best things about children is their utter lack of inhibition.

I so respect the way they run – wildly and sometimes with little regard to control or destination. I admire the way they sing – loudly and with no concern about whether or not the words are right, never mind things like key or pitch. And while I’m overall quite grateful that adults aren’t apt to strip down to their underwear just for the heck of it, there is something to be said for being totally, 100% comfortable with your own naked body.

I also love the way they dance – so different than most adults. They move whichever way their bodies take them. They don’t think – they do. They twist, bounce, whirl, twirl and jump. They throw their arms around, kick their legs wildly in all directions and shake their bums on – or off – beat. It doesn’t matter because it’s all about living and loving the moment.

Nowhere was this more evident than at the ballet class we got to watch last week. Peanut’s been taking the class since September with 11 other little girls. Class is held in a closed room with no windows, so this is the first time we were able to see what they do.

The girls in their black leotards and pink tights moved about the dance floor – following the instructor’s direction– but putting their own personal interpretation on the movement.

Freestyle dance

Position number . . . not sure.

I don’t see any latent talent in Peanut. No hint of raw potential or future accolades. But she moves with freedom and pleasure. She smiles and laughs and spins and claps for herself. She is having the time of her life. I hope she always enjoys dancing the way she does now.


Enjoying it

Of course, we were enthralled – how could we not be watching such a sight – joy in its purest and most natural form.

The proud family

* * *
At a wedding we went to recently, only a few dozen guests danced. The rest sat on the sidelines. I firmly believe that whenever there is music, you should get up on the dance floor for at least one song. I guarantee if you do, you’ll have a much better time overall.

And maybe, just maybe, try to let go a little. Lose your inhibitions. Spin. Wiggle. Lose yourself in the music, even if only for a beat or two.

And then take a bow – even if only in your own head.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Christmas story, told twice

On Tuesday, I had the great honor of attending my daughters’ school production of The Christmas Story.


You see, Loaf’s class participated in the morning pageant, and Peanut’s was in the afternoon.

In the morning, Loaf was a “Little Angel,” which essentially means she sang in the chorus. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Except, she didn’t sing most of the songs. Instead, she alternated between turning herself completely around, back to the audience, and, when she was facing forward, staring wide-eyed at us as if she was thinking, “What are all you people DOING here?”



Later, when I asked her why she didn’t sing the songs (which we’ve been practicing for weeks), she replied that the costume made her, “too itchy to feel like singing.”

Which I can totally understand. Being itchy doesn’t really put me in a festive, sing-y kind of mood either.

About an hour and a half after Loaf’s pageant ended, Peanut’s began.

After last year’s pageant, where she played the role of “sheep,” she told me that this year she was hoping to be either Mary or an angel. She even practiced at home.

I tried to stay as neutral as possible, because the roles are drawn at random.

“Any role will be great,” I told her. “They’re all important.”

Then one day, I picked her up and she had a little more spring in her step than normal.

“Mommy! Guess what?” she said excitedly. “I’m Mary!”

She practiced her line (Mary rode a camel and Joseph walked along) diligently and delivered it proudly and loudly.


However, she didn’t like the lipstick they put on her (and really? Does anyone think Mary wore lipstick? Or that a five-year-old needs to wear it in a preschool play?) and she spent the rest of the pageant picking at or wiping her lips. Seriously, the whole pageant. What the hell was in it? Acid? Her poor lips are still all chafed.

Mary, unhappy about her lipstick

What was in that stuff? Acid?

So there we are. The good news is, Loaf already has Mary's line memorized, so if she gets the role next year, she'll be good to go. Provided she's not too itchy to recite it, that is.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Crime scene: Do not cross

Case number: NJ 1041366335023940

Incident: Assault

Investigating Unit: Feline Decoration Unit of Protection (F'D UP), a division of the NJ Pet Police

At about 0600 hours on December 16, 2008, Mark Gav of Morris County, NJ walked into his living room to discover it was the scene of a horrific crime.


Upon investigation, officers confirmed the victim was an approximately seven-foot-tall Norway spruce. The victim was lying at about a 30-degree angle, face down against the back of the couch.


The victim was still screwed into its supporting stand, but numerous ornaments were broken and the garland and lights were hanging off of it. The carnage was disturbing even to veteran investigative officers.

(Note, the following photos are rather graphic and not for the faint of heart.)





At approximately 0700 hours, with officers’ consent, homeowners Mark and Kimberly Gav decided to move the victim to the floor fearing their young daughters may try to sit on the victim or use it as a slide if it was left at an angle.


Both homeowners confirmed that the victim was observed to be fully upright when they went to sleep at approximately 2300 hours on December 15, 2008. Homeowners said they did not hear anything during the evening, leading the investigating officer to believe this is an inside job.

They also confirmed that both their pre-school daughters were asleep. The mother checked on one, who was sick, several times throughout the night, while the other spent most of the night in her parent’s bed kicking them and flailing about.

Upon further questioning, it was revealed that the whereabouts of the household’s four cats could not be confirmed at various times during 2300 hours on December 15 and 0600 hours on December 16.

Therefore, all four were brought in for questioning.

Suspect one: BadCat


A black female with white chest and gold eyes, approximately 10-years-old.
Whereabouts during time of crime: Asleep on the homeowner’s bed until approximately 0400 hours.
Past record: In all the years BadCat has lived with homeowners, she has never shown interest in the Christmas tree or its ornaments.
Possible motives: Cat is still extremely pissed off at homeowners for acquiring three cats in March 2008.
Verdict: Possible suspect, but not likely given past record of good behavior.

Suspect two: Janey


An Abyssian-mix with green eyes, approximately 3 years old.
Whereabouts during time of crime: Unknown
Past record: Undetermined, though homeowners feel cat is too fat and lazy to scale a Christmas tree.
Possible motives: May have thought glass bird 2/3 of the way up tree was actual food.
Verdict: Possible, though suspect’s physical size and shape makes it unlikely.

Suspect three: Ben


A striped gray male with brown eyes, approximately 18 months old.
Whereabouts during time of crime: Observed sleeping on sick child’s bed most of the evening and then in homeowner’s bed around 0500 hours.
Past behavior: Unknown history, but has not paid much attention to the tree since it was erected on December 7, 2008.
Possible motives: Fun and adventure, has close ties to Molly, prime suspect in the case
Verdict: Ben remains a likely suspect, possibly an accomplice, but until further evidence can be obtained, is free on bail.

Suspect four: Molly


A striped orange female with gold eyes, approximately 21 months old.
Whereabouts during time of crime: Unknown for entire period under question.
Past behavior: Suspect has shown mild interest in the Christmas tree, crawling under it and batting lightly at low-hanging ornaments, but homeowners did not feel behavior was anything to worry about.
Possible motives: Fun and adventure
Verdict: Remains prime suspect both in plotting and execution, but evidence too circumstantial to formally prosecute. Will remain under close observation by undercover officers from the Feline Decoration Unit of Protection (aka F’D UP).

Officers have already observed Molly returning to the scene of the crime, a classic indicator of guilt. They are especially disturbed with perpetrator’s boldness, staring at them defiantly.


Homeowner has re-decorated tree and tied it to the bolted-in curtain rods behind it, but remains concerned that the perpetrator will come up with new and more creative ways to torture the victim.

As a further preventative tactic, homeowner is now deciding whether cat would make nice mittens or earmuffs and is looking for input. Thoughts?

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

A clean sweep

Today, I swept the kitchen floor.

A perfectly ordinary task, right?

Except, today, I had help. Loaf was home and when she saw me go for the broom, she ran to her room to get her pint-sized version so she could pitch in. The floor was messy from lunch with crumbs and bits of food all around the table.

I swept it quickly into a small pile and set the dustpan up to collect it. Meanwhile, Loaf worked diligently trying to corral a lone peanut into the bin.

"Come on, little peanut," she cooed gently, as a errant sweep of her broom sent it careening in the opposite direction.

"No, this way peanut. This way," she persisted, knocking too far in the opposite direction this time.

I watched, patiently, for her nut to join the rest of the fallen food in the dustbin. Again, she pushed it along with the broom.

"This way, nut. Go in there," but once again, she missed the dustpan.

She paused for a moment, assessing the situation.

"I just pick it up and put it in," she finally concluded, stooping down to pick up the nut and toss it in the dustpan.

"That's great, honey, that's just fine," I assured her, trying not to laugh.

Which just goes to show that sometimes, even the most ordinary can become extraordinary when you least expect it.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Hot cocoa, anyone?

Hot cocoa!

We went to a tree farm on Saturday to get our Christmas tree and they offered free cocoa, of which my kids drank more than their fair. However, I think more went on their faces than in their bodies.

Click here to see who else is wordless today.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Can Mr. Gav come out and play?

Anyone who knows my husband, knows he’s a bit quirky. He’s also, usually, the funniest, most personable, most social guy in the room.

He’s the one at parties surrounded by a crowd of people. The one who makes people feel welcome and appreciated. He has a snappy, good-natured retort to just about everything. Sometimes his comments are a bit odd, but you can’t help but smile at them.

He has a natural gift with people – I’ve always said that you could drop him in a room with 100 people who don’t speak a word of English and within an hour, he’d have made a host of new friends (who he’d stay in touch with long after the event ended).

Well, it seems his gift extends to the thigh-high set as well. Yes, obviously, the girls adore him and all the silly things he does to help keep their lives interesting.


But, it goes beyond that.

Mark has acquired quite a fan club at the girls’ preschool. The school has a large common room where everyone congregates in the morning. On the days he drops them off, he often runs around that room barking like a dog with a throng of at least a dozen squealing kids running after him.

One day last month when I was bringing the girls to school, they entered the common room before me. Upon seeing them, a small group of boys got very excited and ran over to the door, anticipating Mark’s entrance and five minutes of insanity before classes start. When they saw me, they clearly could not have been more disappointed. Their little faces dropped like a stone thrown off a tower.

Oh, it’s you, one of them lamented, walking way dejectedly.

Last week after school, Mark spent an hour running around the common room with our girls and two other children who were signed up for Extended Day. The next day, one of them told me it was the “most funnest Extended Day ever.”

But the cream on the cookie came on Friday, when one of Peanut’s friends asked her mom – in complete seriousness — if Peanut “and her dad” could come over to her house this week for a play date because “her dad is so fun.”

Can you just picture it? Mark and Peanut arriving at this woman’s house, ringing the doorbell and then the two of them spending the day there playing? I can just imagine him chasing them up and down the stairs and all around the house.

The mom was even (sort of) in favor of it, thinking she’d go out and get some shopping done.

Someday in the future, Mark’s quirks are probably going to embarrass the hell out of our daughters. He’ll say something and they’ll give him the old Tween Girl Eyeroll and a “Daaaad.”

But for now, they get the honor of having the coolest, most entertaining Dad in town. So entertaining that, at the request of the school’s director, he’s playing the role of Santa at the school’s Christmas pageants next week.

Ho! Ho! Ho!

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Friday, December 05, 2008

Haiku Friday: Oh, oh O.J.!

Anyone who has known me for a while knows that I was totally obsessed very interested in the O.J. Simpson murder trials. I watched Court TV everyday. Read the papers. Watched the news. Read every article I could get my hands on about the trial, lawyers, evidence, jury, etc.

And when the verdict came down, I ranted and raved for DAYS.

That was over 13 years ago, but I've never forgotten - or forgiven - the miscarriage of justice, the utter mockery of our system - that went on in that courtroom. So today, the day O.J. was sentenced to nine to 33 years in jail, I can't help feeling a little giddy and gleeful.

I bring you: Haiku Friday. The O.J. Goes to jail edition:

Haiku Friday

Oh O.J. Simpson
Escaped prison many years
Justice here at last

O.J. cried in court
Says he didn't know it was wrong
Ha! Bullshit I say

Day I've waited for
Jail: Nine to thirty-three years
Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

O.J. got off once
This time no dream team in court


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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

My favorite things

I curl up in bed with a daughter nestled under each arm. I read - rhythmically - from a collection of Dr. Seuss stories. The cadence of Seuss's poetry a soft lullaby. I use my "NPR" voice, carefully pronouncing each word, talking slowly and emotively.

Within minutes of each other, they sleep, my beauties. Peanut is draped across my belly, while Loaf dozes and turns on her side. I keep reading for a few minutes more, ensuring they're deep in slumber's grasp.

I set the book down and continue sitting. I stroke Peanut's hair and twirl my fingers on Loaf's back.

This is, they say, the season of peace. But too often, it becomes a season of stress, hassle and rush.

Tonight I sat in a silent room with my daughters draped around me. I let the many things I have to do wait. I stopped the madness and let life crawl to me for a change. I let the stillness wash over me, wiped the to-do list from my mind and absorbed the present - fully and completely.

A gift to myself: Time. Memory. Harmony. Family. Peace.


Try finding that at the mall this holiday season.

Snuggle time

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