Jump!

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We finally set-up the trampoline that we got the kids got for Christmas.  I won’t tell you how much fun we had setting it up. The sheer joy when we thought we were almost done and then had to completely start from scratch – even though we watched 1,000 YouTube videos on how to put it together. And then, once we restarted, had to undo and start again! Did I mention it was 10 degrees out and my husband was fighting a cold? Good times.

In the end – we did it. Because we had no choice. We couldn’t have a half done, 15 foot trampoline in our backyard. We have neighbors ya know. But the kids love it. It’s what they’ve been begging for since 2008. Literally. We’ve decided that when the kids are done with it – when they’re like 30 – we won’t even bother taking it apart. Again. We’ll just move.

(I just noticed that my girl is still clutching her cell phone. Mid-air. Incase she gets a call. Or tweet. Or text. Sigh.)

checking in…

So whatcha been up to? Hope you’ve been having some Christmas fun.  Here’s what we’ve been doing – non sequitur.

  • Started my Christmas shopping in September hoping to get ahead of the game, but the game won. I am still not done and it’s 2 days after Christmas.
  • Went to the ER the day before Christmas Eve (long scary story with a happy ending, all is good).
  • Made 12 dozen cookies. 12. Dozen. 144 cookies. Know what I learned? Even after making 144 cookies I still want to eat cookies.
  • Headed to NYC on Christmas Eve and came home with tons of great gifts and happy memories (and saw a truly ugly sweater, thanks Aunt Stacy).
  • Hosted a neighborhood gathering at our house a day after finishing my first week at a new job. It sounds stressful but it was so much fun. It was the perfect way to kick off our holiday fun – and I learned how to make eggnog. And I also learned that you can only drink about 2 cups of eggnog before wanting to throw-up!
  • Had some killer Chinese food on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Fa ra ra ra ra, ra, ra,ra ra.
  • Decided to cave in and get the kids a trampoline for Christmas. Look for future posts titled, “Why did we buy a trampoline?” and “Were we nuts when we bought the kids a trampoline? Yes!”.
  • Dropping off my girl for a session of winter camp today, sniff…sniff. It’s only 4 days but I really don’t like it when she’s gone.
  • Went to see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Don’t listen to all those Rotten Tomatoes. It’s a sweet, visual, musical movie. Does it have anything to do with the short story? Nope. But it does make you want to visit Greenland and Iceland – so there’s that.
  • Only watched A Christmas Story 3 to 8 times, much less than last year.
  • Santa brought our son some more inappropriate Xbox games. What can you do, that Santa is a crazy mofo.
  • My girl wanted a saxophone for Christmas and we decided to go for it. Instead of buying it outright (incase she changes her mind like the guitar. or the ukulele. or the harmonica. or the…) we decided to rent it from a music and arts store. What happened next was a tragedy of errors that resulted in us going to that store 4 times. I have only one thing to say to the 8 dudes that work there,” dudes, wearing a skinny tie and having a hipster beard only makes you look smart if you aren’t completely incompetent and stupid. You morons.” Sorry. That is all.
  • After we drop off my daughter at camp, we head directly to my parents house for Christmas Part Deux. Time to push aside the figgy pudding and make room for the garam masala.

To go with the bullets that make no linear sense – here’s some random photos from the past few days! I’m sorry the boy has no shirt on – but that’s how he rolls in the house. Just keepin’ it real. xoxo

 

Here’s me wrapped up in a blanket reading my new cookbook (Pioneer Woman!) and my son looking like an angel playing a killing game. I have guilt. Can you tell?

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Can you guess which plate of food is mine? Hint: it’s the one that burns going down.

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Even in her “ugly” sweater she looks beautiful!

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Here’s my two favorite men. I think next year they can switch places in the picture :-).

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She loved her saxophone, no thanks to the dopes at the music store. Sorry.

 

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This is my kids exchanging gifts they bought for each other. Is there anything better than that?

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Awkward.

That moment after you lay everything out to make Christmas cookies and you think to yourself… I coulda been watching a cheesy holiday movie. Sigh.

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It’s like a slap in Thanksgiving’s face

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It’s sad when you pine for a blow-up turkey on the lawn. This is a house in a nearby ‘hood.
Can we take it one holiday at a time people? Can we? Please? Put up a light of two, but don’t break out snowmen.

I’m riding my pumpkins out until the very last day of November. Whether my pumpkins like it or not.

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Only Boring People Get Bored

Here’s a random list of all the things I’ve been doing/seeing/eating/buying/worrying about/disliking/loving/wanting in the last few weeks:

  • Every year, in prep for the Oscars, my husband and I try to see all the nominated movies (we’re crazy like that).  This year we’re almost there – minus his absolute resolve to NOT see Le Mis.  I saw it. I started crying during the first scene and haven’t stopped since. 
  • I’ve wanted a nutmeg grinder for a long time. Many a day I strolled into Williams Sonoma, coveted and then walked out. It’s not expensive. But then you start thinking about how much nutmeg you actually use in real life and how absurd it is to have a special little grinder for it – and then the $30 may as well be $3,000.  Long grinder story short – my secret santa gave me the damn grinder for Christmas. And I haven’t used it once. And I probably won’t touch it until next November. But I LOVE it and it makes me insanely happy. Insane being the key word. Picture below.
  • My sister-in-law hurt her leg and spent some quality time with us in the begining of January.  She was trapped on our couch with a giant bag of ice  and looking for a new show to watch – we asked if she had ever seen Breaking Bad – she hadn’t. You know what’s better than finding a good show to watch on Netflix? Watching a good show again with someone who hasn’t ever watched it. It’s like tv philanthropy.
  • Downton Abbey started again – oh happy day! Recent favorite Maggie Smith line, “Don’t mistake vulgarity for wit.” I vote for a Lady Grantham spin-off, who’s in?
  • I went formal dress shopping with my teenage daughter. This should be the name of a new horror movie. Just kiddin’…anyhoo.
  • Tried a new hummus recently. Bobbi’s Hummus. It’s basically 3 parts garlic to 1 part chickpea. Lots of lemon and freshly ground pepper. I love you Bobbi, and your heavy garlic hand.
  • I got a pedicure last week for the first time since hurting my foot – which is still a bit sore.  I went to my favorite nail place. Esther runs it. She’s a nice Korean woman who I’ve gotten to know well enough for her to tell me that her real name isn’t Esther and the other two girls aren’t Anna and Tina. Last summer her son came to work in the shop. We call him Tom but you get the point. Tom does all the pedicures. Just thought you should know.
  • I tried giving up bread for 2.5 seconds on Thursday, January 3rd. Epic fail.
  • Legos are the devil.
  • The end.

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Faux Baking

It’s not really faux.
You do turn an oven on.
Our wonderful neighbors make this every year and I promptly stole the recipe.
Actually it’s more of a trick than a recipe.
But it’s so good and it’s so easy.
Here’s what you need 3 ingredients:
Small pretzels, Hershey kisses, and M&Ms.

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Preheat your oven to 175. See, told you it was baking.
Then spread your pretzels out on a sheet and put a kiss on top.

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Bake for 4 minutes and take out.
Add an M&M and smush down. Smushing is a technical baking term. Let them cool and done!

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Trust me, your people will be happy. Your people will love you. More. Finally.

On Not Being a Grownup at Christmas – GUEST POST!

A big thank you to my little bitty sister for this great post! And look at those jazzy handmade stockings. Show off.
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Last week, while lamenting to my colleagues that I had no idea what to get my boyfriend for Christmas, we ended up having a long conversation about the family present exchange. That’s when I realized that, shockingly, I have some pretty strong opinions on the topic. So here is my Family Present Exchange Philosophy
(FPEP):
In our family, Christmas is about the presents. Once I explain, you’ll realize that that wasn’t the saddest sentence ever to grace this blog.
Our family – cousins, aunts, uncles, significant others – gets together all the time. We celebrate every little thing with a big family get-together, and for the most part, it’s great (tis the season to overlook the drama). American holidays, Indian holidays, Hindu holidays, Christian holidays: it’s all fair game. Next year there’s even talk of getting a menorah (we’re equal opportunity around here). And there’s always food, fun, and more food.
But there generally aren’t presents. Indians are all about the benjamins, which is practical and smart, just like we are. That’s why Christmas is so great (here comes my FPEP); to me, unlike gifts of cash, Christmas presents represent the time and thoughtfulness of the giver. I don’t really care if I’m getting another fondue pot or something from the Dollar Store. Cheesy at it sounds, it really is the thought that counts to me. This person went out of her way to think about what I might like, spent hard-earned money on it, and then wrapped it in pretty paper (Here my colleague, the globetrotting poet I share an office with, disagreed. She wished her big Irish Catholic family would just give her money, instead of the “crap I’ll never use” they usually give.)
But it’s not just the stuff. It’s the entire experience. I love opening presents. I love that we all move away from the TV and sit around the tree. I love the anticipation of finding out what’s under the wrapping, and heck, I love the wrapping too. I spend way too much time thinking about how I wrap my presents, and I like giving my family the presents I’ve spent my time making beautiful.
During this conversation at work, another colleague recommended that my boyfriend and I get something for our apartment – a shared gift. He and I had considered this option, but we decided it was far too grown up for us. We wanted the presents, however small and inexpensive, but full of thoughtfulness and love.
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S.O.S

It’s been busy.

It’s been saving-the-world busy.

Except I’m doing the opposite of saving the world.

I’m just doing conference calls, and meetings, and yelling about homework, and yelling about cleaning.

Know what I’m not doing? Working out. Volunteering. Blogging. Cuddling with my babies and watching Christmas movies (not that those giants want me to cuddle with them but you get the point).

Hope you are doing well in your worlds. Hope you are enjoying the season. The rainy, humid, foggy, season.

Sigh.

 

 

It’s the most Amish time of the year

Every year, for the past 5 years, we’ve been invited by a favorite aunt to the middle of Amish Country for a Christmas get together.  It’s hokey, it’s cheesy, it’s exactly what you need to kick off the holiday season. It’s like a mini reunion in December – and it’s perfect. Here’s the cast of characters this year – as you can tell by our faces, a good time was had by all! Sometimes you laugh, sometimes you get laughed at – that’s what our family is all about!

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That’s our cousin Dennis over to the right, there will be a whole post about him and his amazing momma. Jazzy xmas sweater Den!

We also put our tree up – inspired by everyone else’s beautiful trees on Facebook. I know loads of people don’t like FB, they think it’s evil, and it might be. But where else can you see everyone’s Christmas tree? Or everyone’s turkey? Or everyone’s summer vacation pics? For a nosey rosie like me, it’s perfect.  What were talking about?

Christmas trees. They are all beautiful. Every single one. Fake, real, tall, short, it doesn’t matter.  And every ornament tells a little story (even if the story is that you walked into Pier One and got it for 60% off).  Here’s some ornaments from our tree and the stories that go with it.

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Almost 10 years ago, our very dear friends gave us this beautiful wooden angel that they picked up in Italy.  It’s one piece of wood, hand carved and I wish my pictures could do it justice.  I’m obsessed with the little feet, and the little toes. Don’t judge.

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This ornament was waiting in our mailbox when we moved into our very first home. It was the week after Christmas and we didn’t even have a tree that year, but we kept the ornament hanging in the kitchen until March.  It’s no coincidence that it’s from the same favorite aunt that organizes the get togethers every year.

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And ofcourse we have some handmade ornaments on the tree – this one was made by my burly husband when he was a little wee tot. I asked him where he made it and how and why and what was his most precious memory of this ornament but all I got was,” I have to run to Home Depot”.

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This little ornament breaks my heart every time we put it on the tree. I worked right down the road from the World Trade Centers, where they’d have a holiday fair every year, I’d go but never really buy anything – except this little ornament.

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Two years ago, my husband and I were in the living room watching TV (shocker!) and as if in slow motion, we saw our entire tree come crashing down. We both tried to save it, but it was too late.  It was like a an ornament crime scene. Broken glass and cracked ceramic everywhere.  Sad right? Thought you should know.

So here’s the tree in its glory. We still believe in Santa in this house so there aren’t any gifts under the tree until Christmas morning (which also gives me until Christmas Eve to run around like a lunatic and buy presents).

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Hope you are all getting into the spirit of whatever holiday you celebrate or don’t celebrate.

Forget the holly — haul out the Hallmark Movie Channel

 

GUEST POST alert. RD strikes again!

Some people who know me might be shocked to discover that I am a rabid fan of the sappy holiday movie. Beneath my jaded, hard-bitten, work-a-day veneer lies the mushy heart of a true romantic. Most of the year, I am able to hide this chink in my otherwise sturdy armor, but at the holidays, the jig is up and the tissues are out.

I am not a snob either, of course the classics like It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street, are always in heavy rotation, but I am also a sucker for the cheesy, un-original fluff that one is likely to find on Lifetime/Hallmark Channel/ABC Family and the like. Have you seen Holiday in Handcuffs, starring the too-buff Mario Lopez (of Saved by the Bell fame) and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, aka, Melissa Joan Hart? I predict that it will become a new classic. It’s a fun, opposites-attract, Christmas kidnapping caper, that is so unlikely, you almost believe that it must have happened, because who could make that crap up? I LOVE IT!

Some of the other must-sees on my list include:

The Christmas Card — not surprisingly, a Hallmark standby. Starring the great Ed Asner, and some other people I don’t know, it’s a sweet, slightly predictable tale about finding true love where and when you least expect it. Plus it’s set in the Pacific Northwest, so the scenery is breathtaking.

A Holiday Affair — Starring Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh. Call me Psycho (get it?) but I love this old black and white that you can sometimes catch on Turner Classic Movies. Allegedly, Mitchum was “forced” to make it by his management team because he had been caught smoking pot for like the 100th time, and they thought it would be good for his image. Whatever the reason, he’s dreamy and charming in it, and Janet Leigh is beautiful and gutsy–she had “moxie” or whatever they called it back then. I could do without the weird, pointy bra, but that’s another story.

Christmas In Connecticut — Another black and white sigh-fest starring Barbara Stanwyck. It has some funny, Three’s Company-style hi-jinks, but in the end, the right couple ends up together, and there’s lots of snow, and sleigh rides in a rural New England setting that looks like it’s straight out of a Currier and Ives print. I try to watch it twice if I can.

The Holiday — This is a semi-new fave, that I’m sure is much more familiar to most people. What can I say? Jack Black, Kate Winslet, Jude Law. Lots of house-porn with a luxe California beach home and a quaint English cottage. “Meet cutes” and witty, snappy dialog make it even better. Oh, and Cameron Diaz is in it too, but I don’t let that stop me from watching it with a bottle of wine…I mean, glass of wine.

There are many more I could list, but this entry is probably already much longer than WMEP anticipated. Besides, I heard Love Actually is coming on soon, so I have to go anyway….

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