Christmas 2005

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and yours, his and hers, theirs and its. (I have a lot of pronouns approaching their expiration date that I need to use up. It’s what I get for buying them at Costco.) 2005 was a good year in the Muse & Scott household; to wit:

Veronica continues to pin the Cute-O-Meter and has quite a vocabulary for a two-year-old. A few of her favorite expressions are “Holy cow!” and “Oh my goodness gracious!” It’s so much better than this summer when she was saying “Goddammit!” when her blocks fell over, which is cute at first, but then it’s just horrifying and you can’t take her out in public. Ronnie is already using a computer. She can control the mouse and get Dr. Suess stories read to her the way her father would if he wasn’t playing no-limit Texas Hold ’em on the internet. She is a bit of a daredevil, but that will subside should she make it to three.

Jacqueline is the youngest 3rd grader at her new school, Seattle Country Day School. I was psyched because I wouldn’t be driving to Issaquah twice-a-day anymore, but going to North Queen Anne takes exactly the same amount of time. Jacqueline likes her new school a lot and has made many friends. She hates Christmas vacation and can't wait for school to start again. She was on the cross-country team where she got to wear the smallest running shoes we could find, and she finished non-last in every one of her meets.

We are blessed that both girls are bright, healthy, and dislike The Wiggles. (If you don’t know who The Wiggles are, you are also blessed.)

Beth has been spending one week a month in Beijing. She tells me it’s for business and I choose to believe it. Being away one week a month could be hard on a family, but fortunately Beth timed her cycle so that the week she’s gone, I don’t really miss her. She hired a hundred Chinese programmers to pound out a project for Microsoft Exchange Server. Beth says Beijing is quite chaotic as an orgy of construction tries to put a happy face on the city in time for the 2008 Olympics. Frankly, I doubt the Chinese have the organizational skills to pull it off; I mean, have you seen their fire drills? Chinese Fun Fact: Like all communist countries, China is a worker’s paradise, so the government decreed that no one has to work when the temperature gets above 40 degrees C (the ‘C’ stands for ‘Communist’), but Beth says all Chinese thermometers stop at 39. She says some days it would hit 39 before breakfast and stay there all day. I’m glad I failed to make the Olympic team again.

Beth also found time to make me this lovely Christmas sport coat, at my request. Maybe next year I'll get matching pants.

We added a cat to the household this year: a 7-year-old orange-striped tabby from the Humane Society that Jacqueline got for her 7th birthday. He came without claws, which our furniture likes, and with the name Stony, which Jacqueline thinks is from his two circular markings rather than his being abandoned by potheads. He is an unusually personable cat, in that he actually likes people, and will follow the kids around the neighborhood like a dog. Despite his lack of claws, he will challenge and run off every cat or squirrel he sees, and even a few dogs. Lord help him if he ever gets in an actual fight and finds out that other cats have pointy things on their fingers. He’s also a good sport about the mild abuse he gets from the toddler, but when he can stand no more, he attacks Veronica viciously with his phantom claws—pap! pap! pap! sound the impotent blows as they land. Ronnie is also in for a nasty surprise some day regarding other cats’ paws.

This spring, we went to Maui, as per usual, and ran into half of you there. We're going again in April; see you then? The girls enjoyed the beach (Yes! They have one now!), Jacqueline enjoyed the waves, and Little RonnieCakes went native.

This summer, I built a two-story tree fort in the front yard, with a swing, curly slide, and tire swing. Our house became something of a gathering spot for neighborhood kids looking for ways to wile away those long hot days while their moms ran errands or napped with uncle Smirnoff on the couch. I used these opportunities as a stay-at-home dad to nurture these youngsters in a more masculine way than they might have been accustomed to. For example, one day we talked about what religions the kids’ families were, and then we had a foot race to find out whose religion is best. Another time, we talked about the different kinds of pets each child had and I used this as a “teaching moment” to discuss differing animal lifespans, and then we used math skills to figure out how old each child would be when their pet died. You gotta make those memories; it all slips by so fast.

On the self-improvement front, I developed psychic powers this year. My power is limited, however; it only works with children and I can only see three minutes into the future and that someone will be crying, but it is 100% accurate.

On the car front, I got one speeding ticket and one second-degree negligent driving, which is what the State Patrol hands out for what they call “aggressive driving”. I called it “keeping right except to pass” and chalked up the cop's anger to my being so hard to catch. He wanted to also write me for failing to signal a lane change, but I objected strenuously because I always signal my reckless maneuvers well in advance. He said “Are you calling me a liar?” I said I was merely suggesting a lack of observation on his part and pointed out that even when my turn signal is on, half the time it’s off. I emphasized this point by opening and closing my fingers and thumb in the universal pantomime for a flashing light. (Feel free to use that.) I can’t be sure, but I think that’s when it went from speeding to second-degree negligence.

The rest of my year was pretty good, but being a homemaker is taking a toll. My masculinity continues to erode and I figure I’m only about 51% man, 49% woman right now. I bought myself an apron this year and that almost pushed me over the edge.

Being Mr. Mom is also changing me in a neurochemical way such that I’ve become way more emotional, by which I mean I actually have emotions now. I have always been in touch with my feminine side (I probably touch it a bit too much, and lately it has been whining that I never take it anywhere), but now I’m a freaking Hallmark card of weeping schmaltz. Example: A while ago I was channel-surfing and stopped on a promo for a Lifetime original movie starring Meredith Baxter Birney and probably Peter Coyote and welled up thinking “Oh, that poor woman.” (Pathetic, I know. It used to be the only time TV made me cry was the Lou Gehrig speech in Pride of the Yankees, or when the porno tape jammed.)

Here’s how bad it has gotten: I was flipping through a Christmas ornament catalog (that’s ‘A’); stopped at a page featuring depictions of home and hearth that made Thomas Kinkade paintings look like strip mall blueprints (that’s ‘B’); as I thought how nice they would look on our tree, I felt myself puddling up like Richard Simmons at a bake-off (that’s ‘C’); it was September (that’s ‘D’). Hell, it wasn’t that long ago that I shot Christmas ornaments with a BB gun for fun, and now pretty ones make me weep? Throw in my cookie baking and my B-cup man boobs and I may already have crossed over to the pink side, which would make our household the third lesbian one on our block. If that happens, I promise I'll install web cams.

Merry Christmas & Happy 2006

Bill, Beth, Jacqueline, & Veronica