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Photo Friday (on Saturday)

Keeper Extraordinaire.

 

Napping.

Somewhere…

 

Hiking part of the S-R-K.

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Elf-tastic

Yes, it’s that time of year again… makes me laugh every time.

 

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

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Got Friends?

I have 300 friends, or so Facebook tells me.  THREE HUNDRED??  I don’t think I can name 300 friends, let alone “friends” Facebook says I have. Let’s set aside larger questions of what is a friend, and when does someone become a friend vs. an acquaintance. Also a topic for another day —  whether someone who was a friend many years ago once again a friend today because, through the magic of Facebook,  I am constantly aware of the mundane details of their lives…they are a Yankees fan instead of a Mets fan, their kid was a robot for Halloween, they are sitting in traffic on 95…

I can’t remember when I caved and joined The Great Timesuck — it may have been around reunion time a couple of years ago when the curiosity about the kid who sat next to me in Mrs. Passor’s 5th grade class got the best of me. It gave me something fun to do on the train, too. I  friended everyone I used to know,  just to see what they were up to now. I accepted Friend Requests from everyone whose name I recognized…and some I didn’t. In at least 2 cases I had to message another FB friend or my brother (who refuses to get on FB because “if I wanted to be in touch with these people, I would be…”) to figure out who has contacted me.

Fulfilling voyeurish tendencies quickly lost its charm and, like many FBers, the “I wonder what happened to so-and-so” folks comprise a pretty large portion of the 300 “friends” I rarely interact with anymore. Unfriending them seems mean and unnecessary so there they sit. I don’t know why I care, as I am well aware I have been unfriended by several people I quite like and I don’t care (Joanna, Penny, Melissa, I’m talking to you…) so I don’t know why I think other people would care. Bygones.

Beyond scoping out what happened to the Head Cheerleader, Facebook has had some unexpected benefits.

I have a large, extended family. Raised Italian Catholic, it’s a requirement. Also typical for Italians, half of my family is not speaking to the other half at any given time. This means that I have a lot of cousins I have either never met, or haven’t seen in 20 years. I actually had to have one of my cousins raw me a family tree to help me figure out which kds and spouses went with which member of my dysfunctional family. But, Lo… through the magic of Facebook I chat with them far more than I otherwise would. Sometimes this means weekly instead of biennially; sometimes it means weekly instead of “ever”; sometimes it just means the potential for contact is increased.  My cousin Anna, who I more or less grew up knowing decently well, checks in every so often and we’ve reached out and touched someone fairly frequently. I’ve even seen her a bunch of times.  My cousin Jessica — I actually haven’t seen or talked to her since she was about 4 (she’s maybe 23 now) but we touch base and trade a few words at least weekly. Kinda cool, I think, and it has made me seriously consider making a trip to her hometown to see a lot of her aunts and uncles. My cousins Jeremy and Jenna…I don’t ever remember meeting them…but it’s nice to know they are there. 🙂

Reconnecting with friends I used to be pretty close to but since drifted away from. Jeanne, one of my best friends in high school, for example. We were close for years, we argued over something stupid, feelings were hurt, we drifted apart.  Bang, 20 years and one 20-year HS reunion later and I can’t tell you how delighted I am that we have reconnected. She is also conveniently married to another old friend I am delighted to get reacquainted with as an adult, and they are now one of my must-do visits when I go back to my hometown. A college pal, Ali. Three years younger than me, we didn’t overlap a lot in college and in all honesty she started out as one of those “oh wow,I used to know you…wonder what she’s been up to the last 18 years.” But guess what — if we go 3 days without touching base even  if just briefly, it’s a long time. And I am reconsidering Colorado as a potential location for work travel so that I can see her in person again. Claire in Australia, my uncle in Louisiana, and Megan in Pennsylvania — same deal…people I don’t see nearly enough, but have more of a connection to now.

Yes, it’s a time suck and yes, there are far too many stupid annoying applications and dumb pointless games…but overall, I’m hooked.

 

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On Being a Gleek…

It is a well-established fact among my family and friends that I am a total dork. My kids know it, my husband knows it, my parents are *proud* of it (I think they believed that dorks don’t do drugs or get pregnant in high school). One of my friends and cow-orkers once counseled, “you really should let people get to know you a little bit before you show them what a spaz you are.” Not only am I a dork, I’m a musical, theatrical dork — and have been since I was 8. If there was a chorus, a choir, a church folk group, community chorus, or a cappella choir, I was in it. The group in my office that sings spoofed songs at holiday parties and summer picnics? Yep. Every musical and drama from 7-12 grades? Dork, Represent! These days, I sing at weddings, funerals, and karaoke bars (and office parties — see above). I sing in the shower and in my car. Yes, I’m the girl sitting next to you in traffic belting out Total Eclipse of the Heart into my water bottle-microphone.

So it should come as no surprise that I fell in love with Glee! from the moment it aired. It’s High School Musical for adults. It’s living vicariously through TV to become, for an hour a week, the thing I wanted most as a kid yet lacked the self-confidence and drive (and probably the talent) to achieve — a musical theater star. It’s the biggest feel-good thing going on TV. It makes me Smiley McSmilerson on Wednesdays. [I’m in withdrawal, though, since it’s been pre-empted for the World Series. I was raised to believe the Yankees suck ass in general, but when they interfere with the only show I bother to watch on TV they move from blechy to downright sucktastic.] But I digress…

If you don’t believe me, check out the football team doing the Single Ladies dance and tell me you don’t Love. This. Show.

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Book Meme

I shamelessly stole this from Radical Mama because I, too, am brain dead lately. Yet I feel the need to post.

The top 100 or so books most often marked as “unread” by LibraryThing’s users. Bold the books you have read, underline the ones you read for school, italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
Catch-22
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi : a novel
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick

Ulysses
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre

The Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Iliad
Emma
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha
Middlesex

Quicksilver
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury Tales
The Historian : a novel
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World
The Fountainhead

Foucault’s Pendulum
Middlemarch
Frankenstein
The Count of Monte Cristo
Dracula
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible
1984
Angels & Demons
Inferno
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les Misérables
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Dune
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes : a memoir
The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
Cryptonomicon
Neverwhere

A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
Dubliners
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Beloved
Slaughterhouse-five
The Scarlet Letter

Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Lolita
Persuasion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye

On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit
In Cold Blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield

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Never before have I been moved to jot down quotes while on the road with my cow-orkers. I don’t know what about this trip was different — that cow orker C and I were celebrating our 10-trip anniversary, that there was a male cow-orker present, that I out-aged the youngest member of the team by 13 years, that we were in Nebraska and Missouri and what else is there to do there after work besides patronize the local watering holes, that we drove *between* Nebraska and Missouri and what else is there to do in the car for 3 hours besides be rude … so here they are in all their glory. And I duly note that the only ones from my mouth are the very few with no curses in it (as the boss I feel it is my duty to shut up and buy beer and offend people as little as possible.) And as an aside, I note that the night I flew home, my cow-orkers “sheltered in place” in C’s hotel room while a tornado ripped through Kansas City...

F-ing Congress, they can ask for anything.

This is how I learned to snow ski.
Do you KNOW how?
F-you, man.

With a name like Quaalude you expect something with a little punch.

F-you bitches, I’m wearing Lucky jeans

Mmmmmmm. Anne Bancroft.

Sorry, you seem to have lost your filter. Would you like it back?

What the hell was that?
That was my sympathy.
That was the coldest piece of sympathy I’ve ever received, you cold-hearted bitch!

I’ll try to restrain my inner asshole as much as possible.

Why do they call it Missour-uh and not Missour-eee?
Because they’re f-ing hicks.

Hey – your inner asshole has escaped.

Now THAT’S a tramp stamp.

“My inner asshole is coming out…”

“I’ve eaten nothing but desserts and beer for the past four days”

“This is kinda’ fun because I’ve never had sisters”

“Remind me to stop winking at the bartender”

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In July 2006, HGTV filmed an episode of Kidspace in our home. Over the space of 3 days, they renovated 2 bedrooms — A’s room became a Backyard Barnyard and K’s room was converted to an art space/play room. The episode *finally* aired on March 28, 2008! (episode # HKID-313) Thank goodness for DVR or I would have totally missed it!

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Vegas, Baby!

We have done the Vegas thing several times – usually with the same couple- and it’s always a blast. My MIL came down to watch the girls for a few days and our friends took LG to Vegas and dropped her off with Grandma, who lives in a nearby suburb. I know people used to – and still do – bring kids to Vegas, but Vegas as a family destination never sat well with me. “Hey everyone, let’s take the kids to the Capital City of Gambling, Alcohol, and Sex!” I much prefer the more recent attitude of What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas…” So without straying too far from that mantra, I’ll share some highlights of our 4 day/3 night trip.

The idea started as a birthday celebration for Birthday Boy’s 40th birthday and doubled as one of a couple of getaways we try and take each year with our friends– some with the kids, some without. This one was most definitely without. Turns out post-New Years is a fabulously inexpensive time to stay in Vegas hotels so we snagged rooms at Mandalay Bay for well under $150/night. At check-in, Birthday Boy was taken by the moment and made the absolutely fabulous decision to upgrade his room to a Penthouse Suite so as to get a view of this. Totally worth it and enjoyed by the four of us every night.

We at a late lunch at Burger Bar. We saw Bodies: The Exhibition at The Tropicana – very, very cool. We shopped. We had drinks at Rum Jungle, which is apparently a hot nightclub but clearly not at 8pm on a Wednesday night which is when us old people were there. We enjoyed That Gorgeous View from The Suite… complete with a bottle of wine.

Thursday the girls enjoyed the gym and the spa while the boys rode the 3 thrill rides at the top of the Stratosphere. They said the only one that scared them was the free-fall type ride. We took a helicopter ride at twilight and got amazing views of Lake Meade, Hoover Dam, and The Strip just as the lights came on. We had a fabulous dinner at Rosemary’s which is an off-strip restaurant that we cannot recommend highly enough. We enjoyed That Gorgeous View from The Suite…complete with a bottle of wine.

Friday we enjoyed the gym and the spa. We browsed. We shopped. We ate lunch at the posh Wynn hotel and enjoyed cocktails at the Wynn’s cool little outdoor bar beside a “lake” and a wall of water. We ended the evening at BATS in NYNY and had a crazy-good time at the Dueling Piano show. Best.Time.Ever. This has been a long-time favorite of ours — the only complaint we have is that it is SO much fun that it is way too easy to stay out until 2am. Ahem. We enjoyed That Gorgeous View from The Suite…complete with a bottle of wine.

As on all our good “We Four” vacations, we laughed a lot, loved a lot, ate and drank a lot, learned a couple of new things about each other, argued politics and religion, and generally increased our stash of awesome memories tenfold.

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Playing Catchup

What a whirlwind 2 weeks! Most important things first – K is all better – she came off the nebulizer the Friday after Christmas. 🙂

We spent Christmas Day having “Jewish Christmas” with Wreke and her family. BC, Jools, Beans and Muppet had a fantabulous time at the movies (Alvin and the Chipmunks, God help us all) and then with Chinese take-out back at Chez Wreke. Many thanks, my darlings, for the invitation!

That Friday and Saturday we had fun, impromptu neighborhood dinners with several friends at our house. Sunday we welcomed our dear friends and their “almost 4” daughter (let’s call her LG) to our house for several days of fun. They are temporarily living overseas (though these days she and LG are generally there and he is generally here – don’t ask…it’s complicated and no one is happy) so it’s always a huge treat when they are home in the states together as a family – we called in the troops and had a little party Sunday night with The Gang (aka the guys they went to high school with.)

Beans graciously shared her room with LG and Muppet, and Muppet graciously surrendered her room to the grownups. The kids got along wonderfully as they always do – especially the little ones. They are about 10 weeks apart and have been fast friends ever since they bonded in utero on a park bench in the Tuileries Gardens.

New Years Eve – an over-rated holiday imho, and known as Amateur Night by my friend Ann Marie – was just as it should be…filled with friends, family, laughter and love.

New Years Day was part recovery, part preparations for the long-awaited, much-anticipated trip in honor of Birthday Boy’s 40th birthday…VEGAS, BABY!

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Ho Ho Ho

We had our 4th annual Progressive Dinner last night. Amy had cocktails and appetizers – the hit of that course was Pear and Cranberry cocktails. I had the salad course this year which was easy-peasy (fuji apple salad with cider emulsion – quite yummy and very different.) Chris had the main course, which was a HUGE Asian feast – fresh sushi (both nigiri and maki), steamed and fried homemade hong kong and shanghai style dumplings (which I helped make – fun!), authentic fried rice, pickled cucumbers (funny DH moment…”don’t we just call those…pickles?”), stir fried broccoli, cabbage, sesame noodles…YUM YUM YUM. His mom is Japanese so he’s had years and years to perfect and experiment – it’s SO good. I swear he made enough food for 20 people – we’re having a group lunch today to finish up the leftovers. Debbie brought us home with a pear tart and individual triple-chocolate tortes with molten chocolate centers. WOW.

Before the dinner, I picked up my Christmas present — $1800 worth of new air flow sensors, brakes, and a timing belt. 😦 We also got the Christmas tree and raked and bagged 28 bags of leaves.

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