Looking Back

I figured I’d do a 2009 repeat of my end-of-the-year post from last year. As we say good-bye to 2009 (and I know a lot of people are celebrating that 2009 is over), here is my year in review:

It’s been an amazing year, both here and IRL. I’ve gotten so much more out of writing in this space then I ever imagined.   It has helped be be part of both my local community and the big world-wide internet community.   I can’t wait to see what 2010 brings!

Looking Ahead

There is no doubt that 2010 is going to be life altering in many ways. The arrival of baby 2.0 will make sure of that. But right now, I’m having a hard time looking even that far into the future. Just taking a look at my/our January calendar is making me tired – excited but tired.

We will be heading to Disney on Ice in just over a week and I predict M will loose her mind when she sees princesses! and ice skating! together in one show. Then my mom is coming up for the long (for her, not schmucks like me who have to work) MLK weekend to help paint the baby’s room (and maybe M’s room, too – if we hustle) and this will make it official – our guest room will become the baby’s room and then there is no denying the impending arrival.

After that comes a jam-packed week of a Cavs game followed by yet another 36-hour trip to Las Vegas for work. I don’t mean to sound whiney but these biannual trips lost their luster after the 2nd one – now they are just exhausting. It’s nice to go to a warmer place even for a few days, but I really do find Vegas kind of gross and dirty. The hotels are nice, but I’m not a big gambler and when you’re only in town for about 27 hours which is book-ended by 4 ½ hour flights it gets old really fast. And Vegas while pregnant? Yippee! At least I will get to see my college friend who is due with her first baby just a few weeks before I am.

Looking past January my eyes go out of focus as all I see are days whipping past at break-neck speed until mid-April and my due date. February and March are hectic times at work and are the dreaded never-ending grey winter months of NE Ohio where you feel like you are doomed to never see the sun again.

And all I can think about is “OMG, are we really doing this again? What were we thinking?” There are 3 things that my mind is dwelling on at the moment: 1) I will never sleep again after 04.2010 and this makes me very grumpy. 2) The great fear of my water breaking in public has returned – this gets me more freaked out then any other part of the birth process. And 3) I had better get a private hospital room. If I have to share a post-partum room I’m going to be livid.

So there you have it – my excitement and fears for 2010. Well, the first quarter of 2010 anyway. The rest of the year is up in the air.

This is How We Do It

Growing up all of our Christmas Eves were spent at home, with just our immediate family.  Once in a while a grandparent or 4 would join us but for the most part it was just the 5 of us.  We did extended-family celebrations before and after Christmas, sometime even heading to Toledo or Defiance on the afternoon of Christmas Day. But Christmas Eve was the calm in the storm.

As an adult I can really appreciate this tradition where at least one day of the holiday season can be spent as a family.  When my older sister got married she established the same tradition for our generation – and thus one by one as we all got married we stopped going to my parents for Christmas Eve & Day.  At first my mom was crushed, but over the last 11 years my parents have embraced their holiday vacation freedom by traveling – last year they took a cruise, this year they are in the Florida Keys.

And best of all, I have no horror stories about dragging us, the kid, the dog and all the swag from house to house while her schedule goes to pot and she gets more and more overstimulated and cranky.  We did the extended family thing last weekend, therefore the last 2 days have been just the 3 of us relaxing.

Mark and I both worked until noon on Christmas Eve but that afternoon we took advantage of the fact that we still had some snow and went sledding.
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That evening we had a relaxing dinner, drove around to check out Christmas lights and M opened gifts from her cousin & Uncle in FL my BFF from college.

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Duplo

Everyone got to bed at a good time.  M was up a couple of times during the night and seemed to be up for the day at 6:30 but we managed to hold her off until about 7:15.  She was awfully excited to see what Santa had brought.  After checking to see if he ate the cookies and orange juice (her choice) she left out, she dug into her stocking where she found the DVD of Snow White, a Santa doll (the only thing she asked Santa for) and a Care Bear’s card game.  Under the tree were more gifts including Candy Land, a trampoline, a tent/tunnel set and a tea set.  Just enough to open without getting bored with the process, not so much that she forgets about half of what she received.

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candyland

trampoline

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The rest of the day brought several rousing games of Candy Land, tea parties, a long nap in her new tent, 2 viewings of Snow White, lots of time with the Lego Duplo farm and lots and lots of jumping:

jumpA trampoline is my new recommended gift for anyone in a cold climate with a preschooler – she loves it and jumps all day long.


Happy Holidays

This morning I stopped at Starbucks on the way to my office, ready for the sweet thrill of a Peppermint Mocha.  As I was waiting in line (in a predominantly Jewish suburb, no less), I witnessed something I had only read about before.  No, it wasn’t the abominable snowman showing up for a half-caf quad-shot venti mocha with extra cinnamon and soy milk. But it was just as shocking.

The woman ahead of me in line actually scolded the barista ringing her up for saying “happy holidays” when she passed over her change.  The customer got all huffy and said “You know… you can wish me a merry Christmas! It is Christmas Eve after all!”

The poor barista looked dumbfounded and muttered a quick apology while the customer seemed to wait for the barista to correct herself.  After a few awkward moments the customer turned to those of us in line and, clearly looking to start something, loudly asked “Don’t you wish she would just say Merry Christmas instead of being all politically correct?”  Everyone kind of looked at their shoes for a second and the barista looked as if she wanted to crawl under the counter.

After a few silent seconds of the customer frantically searching our faces for support I piped up with the lie “No, I don’t.  I’m Jewish.  Can I order my coffee now?” That shut her up pretty quickly and she hustled out of the door.
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I am so sick of these self-righteous assholes pretending that December is all about Christmas and nothing else.  Last I checked December plays hosts to Rohatsu/Bodhi Day, Hanukkah, Christmas, Karthigai Deepm, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, Sabarimala Mandala Puja, New Year’s Eve and the ever-popular Festivus. And as far as I know there is no way of visually figuring out which (if any) of these holidays a person might celebrate.  If you are pretentious enough to be offended by the word choice of a simple greeting, don’t take it out on the store employee who probably has no choice in the matter – take it up with the manager or the corporate office that sets the policy. Then maybe go get some therapy to find out why your panties are all in a bunch over something so trival.

And don’t get me started on the origins of the Christian celebration of Christmas…because if we are going to be truthful, it has nothing to do with the actual birth of Jesus and everything to do with adopting/stealing ancient pagan dates and traditions in order to bring more people to the church.

Happy Holidays not politically correct it’s just correct, so here’s wishing you and yours a very happy end of December and a prosperous new year.

Sugar Shock

I love to bake. On Sunday I set out to make our holiday cookies.  The only ones I make every year are cut-outs and peanut-butter kisses (but we use mini peanut butter cups instead of kisses because Mark is a PB freak). The others on the list were made on a whim.  So, after sitting down with my recipe box and binder I came up with a stack of 5 recipes and got started. I had high hopes of finishing it all in one day (ha!).

First up – were the PB Kisses:P1060998Tip: parchment paper is your friend (if someone wants to get me 2 1/2-sheet pan Silpats for Christmas, I could save some trees). Use it on your pans for quick clean-up but also prep all your cookies at once on parchment, without having to wait for an empty cookie sheet.

P1060999Mini Peanut Butter cups get really melty.  So after they cool on the rack, I pop them in the freezer to firm up.

These got separated into 2 batches – one for Christmas and one for Mark…there was no way he could wait to gobble these up.

Next I made the cut-out dough and put it in the fridge to chill and rest.  I’ve been making cut-outs for the family since high school when I got disgusted with my mom using store-bought cookie dough to make them. In her defense she used to make them from scratch but with 3 kids (and all the cussing that came from the kitchen), she found an easier way.  Anyway, I have a system for making cut-outs which usually takes 3 days because I normally make a double batch of dough.  Day 1: make dough, separate into 4 batches and flatten on parchment, chill overnight. Day 2: roll, cut and bake. Spend hours cleaning up all the flour. Day 3: frost cookies beautifully with homemade buttercream, preferably using melted chocolate for detail work – yum! But this year it was a single batch and I did everything from dough to baking in one day.

Then it was on to oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.  I tried a new recipe that was just okay, no photos since everyone knows what oatmeal chocolate chip cookies look like.  The recipe made a TON of cookies, so there are some for now, some for Christmas and a big bag in the freezer for the future.

Next I took a 2 hour nap and woke up with a huge headache, but the baking must go on! I made no-bake square buckeyes (which are buckeyes, made into bars and topped with melted chocolate so you don’t have to roll and dip). They are basically just peanut butter, sugar and butter – yum!

Then we moved on to rolling and cutting the cut-outs.  M had a blast helping me press the cookie cutters in the dough, but the real fun started when I gave her the dough scraps for her to play with.  She made cookies, a “santa cake” and a “princess castle cake”.

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I had grand plans for finishing out the evening by making chrusciki or Polish “Angel Wings” (that’s not the recipe I use, but you can see what they are). I’m the only one left in my family who knows how to make them, because I took the time to have my Busia walk me through the process a few times.  They are delicate, not too sweet fried dough sprinkled with powdered sugar.  People love them. But, I was exhausted and chrusciki are very labor intensive, not to mention that the recipe makes dozens and dozens of cookies and I’ve never had any luck halving the recipe.  And my Busia would haunt me if I wasted half of the dough. So I went to bed, instead. Monday night I entertained the thought of making them, but I didn’t have the energy.

Tuesday night we had a rare week-night date at the Cavs game with awesome seats. Plus we got two Shaq bobbleheads.  Score!

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Tonight, we frosted the cut-outs with homemade buttercream frosting but no chocolate because I am lazy.  M again had a great time “painting” the cookies when her fingers weren’t in her mouth (don’t worry, we separated those out).  She even made a few to take to her teacher. She was so proud of her work.

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And now, with 4 of the 5 recipes done I’m calling it quits.  Our extended-family Christmas is this weekend and hopefully most of these cookies will be consumed.  I used to do huge plates of 7-8 different kinds of cookies for friends and co-workers, but this year I just don’t have the time or energy.  Funny how being 5 months pregnant will do that to you.

What are your holiday baking traditions?

Disney On Ice – Ticket Savings & Give-a-way

Disney On Ice presents Let’s Celebrate! It’s one colossal party on ice, with all your favorite Disney friends!  Enjoy a winter wonderland with Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, a Halloween haunt with the Disney Villains, a Very Merry Unbirthday Party, a Royal Ball with the Disney Princesses and more in a magical medley of holidays, celebrations and festivals from around the globe. Come join the party when this spectacular ice show visits Cleveland in January!
You can use the code MOM when purchasing your tickets.  It is valid for four tickets for $44 for Monday-Friday matinee shows (any additional tickets are still priced at  $11), and $4 off Friday night and all weekend shows.
I am hosting a giveaway for a family 4 pack of tickets to the show on 1/9 at 7pm at The Q.  Leave one comment for your chance to win.  Tweet/Facebook this giveaway for your second entry (please leave me the url in the comments).  Giveaway ends Dec 20th, 2009.  Good luck!

Congratulations to the winner of the family 4-pack of tickets to the Jan 9, 7pm show, Julie!  You can pick up your tickets at the will-call window up to 1 hour before the show.  Enjoy!

Winner

Disney On Ice presents Let’s Celebrate! It’s one colossal party on ice, with all your favorite Disney friends!  Enjoy a winter wonderland with Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, a Halloween haunt with the Disney Villains, a Very Merry Unbirthday Party, a Royal Ball with the Disney Princesses and more in a magical medley of holidays, celebrations and festivals from around the globe. Come join the party when this spectacular ice show visits Cleveland in January!

You can use the code MOM when purchasing your tickets through Quicken Loans Arena.  It is valid for four tickets for $44 for Monday-Friday matinee shows (any additional tickets are still priced at  $11), and $4 off Friday night and all weekend shows.

Cleveland Reactivation Disney On Ice Flyer

And, thanks to MomCentral and Feld EntertainmenI am hosting a giveaway for a 4 pack of tickets to the show on 1/9 at 7pm at The Q.  Leave one comment for your chance to win.  Tweet/Facebook this giveaway for your second entry (please leave me the link in comments). Giveaway ends at 5:00 PM Dec 22th, 2009. The winner will will be able to pick up their tickets at the Q’s will call window the night of the show. Good luck!

Disclosure:  I was given 3 tickets to the show to promote this event.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Thanks to lots of other CLE bloggers, I had a huge list of holiday cheer I wanted to experience.  And in the last few weeks we have been busy checking things off that list.

I finished off my shopping at local places and hit the Bazaar Bizarre where I scored a couple of things for me (90% of the shopping was done before Thanksgiving, given my general fear of shopping centers during the month of December). I got my “Hot Rod” Williams shirt from C.L.E. Clothing and will be sporting it at the game next Tuesday.  We hit a bunch of fun things and the girl is so enamored with all things Christmas that it’s been lots of fun.

There’s been lots of unbloggable things going on lately, nothing bad just not for public consumption yet so I don’t have much to say.  So, instead of rambling on anymore, here are some highlights of the last few festive weeks:

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The Night of Lights @ Legacy Village
(tip for anyone going next year – go a little early and get a spot on the balcony near Melting Pot – best view, no crowds)

holiday2Helping me get the assigned side dishes together for Thanksgiving at my parents

holiday3The annual making of graham cracker houses at grandma’s house

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holiday5Cousins M & A and M stringing popcorn and cranberries for the birds and deer at grandma’s house

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holiday7At Kringle’s Inventionasium in Tower City. Very cool for me and Mark, M was a bit freaked out by it all

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holiday10Meeting the Abominable Snowman & Rudolph at the Public Square Tree Lighting

holiday11Watching the fireworks at Public Square, with Terminal Tower dressed for Christmas in the background

holiday13Of course she helped decorate the tree.  This meant she put every single ornament on one branch. We did some rearranging.

holiday12Her favoriate ornament – Rudolph (purchased for her in 2008)

holiday141800 lights and countless ornaments from my childhood (the oldest, still in tact ornament being a 1984 breaddough angel I made in Sunday School). We get a new family ornament and M gets a new ornament every year.

Last night we started a new tradition – lighting a menorah and playing dreidel. M is learning all about Hanukkah at her Jewish preschool and was asking where our menorah was at home.  We figured why not? So after a mad scramble on Friday night (after I realized that Hanukkah started this week and not next) to get a menorah failed, we made one together using Play-Doh.  It’s a fun new twist on our holiday and assures us at least 30 minutes a night of all 3 of us around the table playing a game.

All that’s left is an early Christmas celebration with my family (my parents travel during the actual holiday), a relaxing Christmas at home and then the Cleveland Children’s Museum New Year’s at Noon party.

I hope you all are having a great holiday season and are avoiding the stress that can come with it!