Here Comes The Jackpot Question In Advance ...

... what are you doing New Year's Eve? Not sure what you have planned, but I'll be spending the night with my family, my husband, my delicious daughter, at least one Nintendo Wii, some sort of board game(s) involving Trivial Pursuit at a minimum, and a fresh bubbly dish of my "Million Dollar Crab Dip." I can't share the exact recipe -- it's an "ancient Chinese secret" that I will leave to my daughter in my will, and plus besides I never follow recipes anyway (they're more like suggestions, not unlike speed limit signs) -- but here is the recipe on which my concoction is based so that you can enjoy something similar yourself.


from "The Complete Cooking Light Cookbook"
© 2000 by Oxmoor House, Inc.

  • ¾ cup fat-free sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh onion
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ¾ teaspoon dry mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 8 ounces light cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup (2 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 pound crabmeat, drained and shells removed
  • Paprika
Preheat oven to 325°F. Combine sour cream through cream cheese in a bowl. Stir well with a whisk or hand mixer on low. Stir in cheddar cheese and crabmeat. Spoon into a 1½-quart casserole that has been coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 325°F for 30 minutes or until bubbly and thoroughly heated. Serve warm with sturdy crackers or breadsticks. Makes 3⅔ cups (which isn't very much because this is one of those things that can be totally snarfed right out of the bowl with a spoon, like the infamous Pumpkin Dip).


Whatever you're doing tonight, be warm, be happy, and above all else: be safe. Happy New Year!

PS -- Kathy Griffin is co-hosting New Year's Eve coverage on CNN with Anderson "My Other TV Boyfriend" Cooper, so if you're not doing anything else, it might be worth checking out. Kathy is the shizz, yo!


Resolutions, Schmesolutions

So. Apparently I made some New Year's Resolutions for 2008. Before I start breaking my resolutions for 2009, let's see how I did in the past year (edited for brevity, because if you really want to read all the side notes, you can just click-a-roo and stuff) -- I added my comments at the end of each and crossed out the stuff I actually did:

10. Make a flaming dessert. -- EPIC FAIL. No flaming desserts this year.

9. Be less artsy and more fartsy. -- EPIC FAIL. Have you seen some of the goofy things I did to pictures of my kid?

8. Stop getting into discussions about the Philadelphia Eagles. -- FAIL. I was doing OK when they stank out loud and nobody thought they were going anywhere, and also when our entire city was basking in the delicious glow of the Phillies' World Series win, and then, BOOM! Holy crap, how did this team make it to the playoffs this year?

7. Eat more vegetables. -- This one is a WIN!, surprisingly. Well, maybe not so surprisingly, actually. We are trying to teach the Cupcake good eating habits, and the best way to do that is to have a few of your own. Also, I actually do like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and creamed spinach, so it's not like it's a chore to eat these things.

6. Learn to say "please," "thank you," and "fast" in as many languages as possible. -- EPIC FAIL. But I've been busy changing diapers, watching Dora, and blowing shit up in WoW, so it's not like I have any spare time or anything.

5. Forgive Santa for giving my husband "Guitar Hero II" for Christmas. -- Accidental WIN! Because of (1) WoW and (2) Cupcake. We haven't played "Guitar Hero" in months. Cupcake, on the other hand ...

4. Somehow, some way, forget the words to "Surrender" and "Possum Kingdom." -- Another accidental WIN! Mostly because I haven't listened to much music in the past few months that wasn't written by the Laurie Berkner Band or sung by freaky-ass live-action figurines.

3. Blog more regularly. -- WIN! Now that I have something to blog about.

2. Finish the goddamned novel that I have been writing in my head. -- EPIC FAIL. For now, anyway. I couldn't finish NaNoWriMo, but someday I will write a damn book. It might be a memoir, but it will get written.

1. Live well, laugh often, and love much. Especially myself. -- WORK IN PROGRESS. The living and the laughing and the loving of other people, I can do. Myself, not always so much. But I will continue to work on it.

I'm going to give myself partial credit for that last one, so I completed about 45% of my resolutions for the last year. It's an "F," of course, but all things considered ... I'll take it. I like to set the bar high.


Baby Boom

Jumping jellyfish, there are babies everywhere these days! Yesterday my grandparents' house was full of them. Not just the Cupcake, either, but also Joey -- and by the way, we got the Cupcake when she was almost a year old, so by then she was already a "big girl," but even so, I can't imagine her ever being as teensy-weensy as Joey is. Holy tomato, he's a little guy! I held him to give him a bottle the other night and it was like he wasn't even there. My mother's handbag easily outweighs him by 10 lbs. And trust me: my mother's handbags are not nearly as cute.

But yesterday the whole gang was at my grandparents', and I do mean The Whole Gang: my mom and dad, my sister and brother-in-law plus Joey, me and G plus Cupcake, my other sister and her fiancé and even the dogs at one point, my Aunt Bet and Uncle Jim plus two of their daughters AND their daughters' boyfriends/fiancés, my Uncle Joe "Quack" and Aunt Sally plus their two kids, my Uncle Ed and Aunt Kathy plus one of their sons, my cousin A.J. and his son, and my cousin Nancy and her husband plus their baby daughter, visiting from Greece. Whew. All in one (pretty small) house. And there were still leftovers afterwards.

It was like going to a bingo -- practically everybody got a baby as a door prize. It was AWESOME. Who doesn't love babies?


Isn't She Lovely?

My sister and brother-in-law got in yesterday with their delicious baby. (More pics of him to follow, pinky swear.) We did Christmas all over again, exchanging gifts and eating some cookies and having pizza. This was one of the presents for Cupcake from Chicago -- a Little Tikes vanity and stool set* that was picked up for a song at a yard sale. (Yay, environmentally and budgetarily conscious holiday shopping!)

Now -- I know what you're thinking: "But, doesn't this run counter to the whole 'I am not going raise a girlie girl' parenting philosophy?" Yes. Oh yes, it totally does. BUT. Even I recognize that there is nothing wrong with pretend play. She loves the little hair dryer that makes noise and blows the tiniest amount of air. And I recognize that sometimes it's not all about me and what I want. She can be cute and frilly if she wants.

It's the "being spoiled rotten" part we're trying to avoid. Also, the eating of candy all day long even though we're trying to teach sensible eating habits. Although I will be the first to acknowledge that we're getting better with that too.

* This is not the exact item, but it's pretty close. Ours is more pink, as you can see, but they're pretty similar. Also, our batteries are dead, so the vanity doesn't talk, but insofar as I have a pretty strict policy against toys that make noise, I am not so much complaining about that.


A Day Late

Looks like Vimeo is finally working -- here is the video I wanted to post yesterday. In retrospect, it's probably only interesting to me, but that's no reason why you all shouldn't enjoy anyway:

Merry Christmas again! And, as they said in "Christmas Eve on Sesame Street," oh so many years ago -- keep Christmas with you all through the year.


Christmas Morning

Merry Christmas everyone! Or Happy Hanukkah, as the case may be! Whatever holiday you are celebrating, I hope you got what you really wanted this year. We did.

Love XOXO, rockle, G & Cupcake.

PS -- There was supposed to be a video but Vimeo is jacked up right now. Maybe later, or tomorrow.


What Is The Opposite Of Abominable?

Whatever it is, Cupcake is it.

Share The Love

Don't often get political here, but when I do, I want to do it well, and I don't think there is a better way to do it than by linking to this picture. The T-shirt says it all, I think, so no additional comment from me is necessary.

(Although I did really enjoy this comment from one of the posters: "Incandescent happiness - [you're] doing it right.")


Candy Everybody Wants

Oh yeah, we played in the snow. And, uh, because it needs to be mentioned: my anonymous mother has big balls. Ahem.


Snow Day

Cupcake spent the day with my sister. They're at my parents', pretty much snowed in. It's raining here, but just 45 miles away they're expecting a total of 3-5 inches. Fun! Not sure what was on the agenda today but it must have been exhausting, because I received this picture from the field:

Photo by Shelleybeans!

I'm jealous. I could totally use a nap. Anyway, we're heading up there to spring her but it's more likely that we're just going to end up sleeping over. Which could be worse, I suppose: it will be a crowded house, but at least we will be surrounded by most of our favorite people.

And possibly there will be French toast in the morning, which is never a bad thing, no matter the price.


As If I Were Not Already Depressed Enough

Maybe it's time to crawl in a hole and die until Christmas.
Y / N / Abort / Restart ?

Confidential To My Sister Who Is Half A World Away In Chicago Which Might As Well Be Another Damn Planet ...

... I am listening to "Christmas Eve on Sesame Street" on my iPod, and I remember all the cracks and skips in the record which transferred over to the digital recording, and I remember all the times we played this record to put the cracks and skips there, and I still remember every single one of the words ...

... and I am crying, because I miss you.


Pointless Update

An useless little addendum to a post from earlier in the week which you are more than completely free to ignore if you want. I was reminded by my mother, "Anonymous," that it is important for me to remember, with nine days to go until The Big Day, that I already got what I wanted for Christmas. No, not the iPhone (squeeeee!) -- the Cupcake. And when you actually get what you want and what you need, then it is time to quote another prophet, and remember that "all you need is love."

Yeah, I know, this post sucks. But I'm going home soon to play with my new toy some more and maybe I'll get another cool picture. Or mess around with Shazam, which is easily the coolest set of 0's and 1's ever strung together. You go follow your own bliss now, k?


iPhone iFirst iPhoto

Sad but true fact: this is one of the first pictures I took with my Christmas present, an iPhone. Less than two seconds, with no special light settings or enhancements or anything. I think that, for a throwaway snapshot, this one is pretty damn good.

Which means either (1) my regular camera is junk or (2) I am a terrible photographer or (3) how in the holy hell did I live without this thing for so long? (The iPhone, not the tree.)

Don't Panic

I realize that my last post was kind of a downer -- sorry. We're all still alive, just so you know. I didn't go postal and I didn't get all Sylvia Plath. Not that I have not had my moments, but maybe the best thing about being in and out of therapy for 20 years is that you learn to appreciate the value of the old adage: "This, too, shall pass."

Here. Have a picture of my kid. It's not good, but it's cute, and considering the eleven kinds of hell we went through to get this far -- WHY WON'T YOU JUST SIT STILL FOR 10 SECONDS SO WE CAN TAKE YOUR DAMN PICTURE FOR THE CALENDAR, OH MY GOD YOU LITTLE BOOGER! -- well, at least she's smiling.


Bah Humbug

This is the part of the holiday seasons that makes me batshit butternuts crazy and drives me half to drink and causes me to lose sleep and sometimes laugh out loud to the point of tears at possibly unfunny totally random shit that I read on other people's blogs. (Or maybe it's funny, I don't know, I'm not a nurse and I don't play one on TV. What-the-fuck-ever. MOVING ON!)

I call this time "The Doldrums," or perhaps "The Humdrums," or if I am feeling especially belligerent and self-lothing, "The Dum-dums." In any event, it is the time between St. Nick's and Christmas, that two weeks or so where nothing is necessarily happening except that the list of unfinished holiday-related bullshit lengthens as the number of hours of daylight shortens.

The older I get, the less I feel like dealing with this crap. And of course some of the drama is of my own making, which only exacerbates the problem. For example, every year I ask myself: 70 Christmas cards? Really? How do we even fucking KNOW this many goddamn people? And not even half of them send us cards, so why do we continue to bother?

And the answer, of course, is that these people are our friends and family and if we don't send Christmas cards, hand signed and hand addressed and hand stamped, if we don't do this, then I will be completely consumed with Catholic guilt and I will die of shame and my husband will never be able to show his face in public again because of my failure in my wifely duties.

Yes, yes, I know -- I bring this on myself. Christmas is only one day out of the year, and it's not supposed to be about presents or obligations, but about families and togetherness and celebrations of joy. I know all this. But the expectations! Everybody expects something, even me, and we feel put out and let down if these expectations are not met.

I wish I could turn it off, all of it. Turn off the lights tonight and wake up tomorrow and it will magically be Christmas. Cupcake will open her presents and G will open his and I will open mine and we will eat something, maybe some French toast and sausage, and then we will go back to bed and everything will be over. Done, until next year when it starts all over again.

So ... yeah, I'm depressed. It's the holidays. It happens. Never mind me. I'll just sing "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" over and over again, maybe read some Robert Fulghum books, and soon enough I will be done being Scrooge and I can go back to being me again. Not that being "me" is all that much better. But still.


Winter Wonderland

From the Christmas party that was thrown by our foster-adoption agency at a twee little local Catholic college. Notre Dame, that joint isn't, nor is it particularly high-budget. I do love me some paper snowflakes, though. Although these could use a little glitter or something.

The original is in my Flickr photostream, which you can get to by clicking on this pic. I love playing around with their Picnik photo editing tool, because I am a Luddite who can't manage Photoshop. Just in case you haven't noticed, I love their "soften" effect, which makes it look like I smeared the camera with Vaseline, like my kid is Joan Crawford or Rita Hayworth or something.

Not much going on -- was sick today, and took some naps, and mostly marinated in my misery, since this is my least favorite time of the year. I am working on an explanation, but it won't have pictures, and I know that's what you people are after. So I farted around with this one so I don't get nagged into an early grave. JAIME.


So Big

This is a picture of Cupcake after she climbed into her toy doll stroller, all by herself, and managed to get herself stuck. What's funny about this isn't that it happened at all, but that it's already happened more than once. Kids. Heh.


Um, The HELL?

No pix yet, sorry. The Cupcake Cam shots from the Christmas party the other night are all awful: she's either crying (Santa) or crazy-eyed (pony). Trying for better shots today at the Legion shindig.

Also, confidential to my sister / babysitter: WTF happened last night? Did the cats give you any trouble? It smells like they threw a kegger in the basement. Good Lord.


Cupcake Update

(1) Went to a party last Saturday night, didn't get la -- wait. WRONG STORY. Went to a party last night, and discovered that Cupcake will do whatever she can to smuggle ponies home from the circus, but she is terrified of Santa Claus. Maybe it's because the role of "Santa" was played by an unfortunate-looking halitosis-afflicted undergrad at a weensy little Catholic liberal arts college, or maybe it's just because it is kind of creepy to sit on a strange man's lap. Unless you're into that sort of thing. Or you work at Scores. In any case, I figure that once Cupcake makes the connection that Santa Claus equals presents, she'll be all right with it.

(2) Yesterday I discovered that Cupcake knows what a pigeon is, and can pick one of when there are several birds sitting on a telephone wire on my car, obviously plotting how they can cover the maximum square footage of Volkswagen with poop by doing the minimum amount of work. "Look, Mommy, pigeon!" It kind of freaks me out a little when she speaks in discernible words and complete sentences. Although it is reassuring that she will probably never qualify for a role on Rock of Love since she is already functionally literate.

(3) Company Christmas party tonight! Whee! That has nothing to do with Cupcake, but if you get drunk-dialled tonight, now you know why.

Hope to post assorted pics over the weekend. Peace out.


And Now For Something Completely Different

Five totally random things that I love about the holiday season that have absolutely bugger-all to do with presents:

1. Clementines. Also called "Algerian tangerines," which sounds so sexy and exotic, doesn't it? There is something so right and perfect about these bright and happy oranges in the wintertime, and especially around Christmas when the nights are at their longest and the little bit of remaining daylight is consumed by stress, fatigue, ennui, and (in my case anyway) the annual bout of seasonal depression. They are easy to peel, easier to snarf down, and I have yet to meet a person who doesn't like them. Even the smell of them is cheery. When I pack my lunches I need to limit myself to only two per day, or I would finish the whole box before I got a single present wrapped.

2. "Money for Nothing" by Dire Straits -- the complete 8:26 full-length version. This is a song that I came to adore later in life than I should have; for years, I claimed to "hate" this song because of the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards, where this video beat out a-ha's "Take On Me" for Video of the Year. I still contend that the latter video is far superior, but I'd have to (continue to) be an asshole to insist that Knopfler's song isn't infinitely better. Plus, it was parodied by Weird Al, so you know it's good. This song is the perfect antidote for those all-holiday-music-all-the-time radio stations, especially when the stereo is turned up to 11.

3. The smell of snow. I am not a big fan of driving in inclement weather, but after a lifetime of living in the Northeast and especially after four winters in Syracuse, I have learned to love it when the afternoons get cold and the skies turn that particular shade of grey and the air smells clean and frosty. If you close your eyes tight and pay special attention, you can also detect the slightest aroma of rich hot chocolate with extra milk and lots of Marshmallow Fluff and maybe some freshly-baked snickerdoodles. Or maybe that's just me.

4. Old holiday movies on cable. Blasphemer though I may be, I have never been a fan of "It's a Wonderful Life" (face it, Capra was the U.S.'s answer to Leni Riefenstahl, and Riefenstahl was better at her job), but I am apparently genetically programmed to be unable to turn off "A Christmas Story" or "A Muppet Christmas Carol" or "White Christmas" if I come across them. Same with the new classics that I associate with Christmas lately: "Bridget Jones's Diary" and especially "Love Actually."

5. Christmas cards. Love to get them, but I love to send them, too. Even though I usually send out about 850 squillion every year, it is still one of my favorite things to do to prepare for the holidays. Sometimes it takes months to find the perfect cards, sometimes only seconds, but it really is one of my favorite things to do in December. Because I am some kind of masochist or something.


Tree 2008

Attention, ladies and gentlemen -- praise the Lord, for the goddamn tree is done. Alert the media, and then send liquor. Lots and lots of liquor.

A few things I have learned about doing up a tree this year: don't do it with a toddler around. Wait until they're in bed or with grandma or off to college, because if you think that getting your tree done right is hard when it's just the two of you and some cats ... well, imagine that multiplied by about 1,000. And then add in some whining and some "Blue's Clues." And did I mention please send liquor?

Another thing is: I always, ALWAYS, buy too many lights. I don't know where I come up with my lightage calculations, but they're just flat-out wrong. We had to buy new everythings this year because when we cleaned out Cupcake's room we misplaced half our lives. I had some really nice gold star ornaments from the year we got married -- gone without a trace. Awesome (and highly coveted) frosted globe lights -- missing in action. Poof! I thought some stuff was in my parents' garage, but apparently they were only able to find my Easter lights (LOL WUT?) ... which, if I recall correctly, were in a box labeled "Halloween" (WTF?!?).

So, anyway, the details: Fraser fir, approximately 7½' tall, fresh cut. "Vintage" cast iron stand (which means "I don't remember when we bought it"). Two strings of clear 100-count mini lights and two strings of clear 70-count globe lights. Six gold-and-silver 8-point star ornaments, six gold-and-silver pointed-oval-shaped finial ornaments, six gold balls (three shiny and three frosted), six silver balls (three shiny and three frosted), two jingle acorns, one gold apple and one gold pear. We used gold and silver scroll ornament hangers and everything is plugged into a green indoor extension cord. No partridge, sorry!

No tree topper -- not yet anyway -- because the one we bought was multicolored (scandal! vomit! seizures!) and was therefore promptly returned. Don't know that one is really necessary, but I will keep my eyes out for a nice one anyway. Hello, Martha Stewart complex! I also bought three extra strings of clear 100-count lights which are going back. Because AH MAH GAH, did I think I was lighting Rockefeller Center, or what?

Tree, lights, star ornaments, finial ornaments, ornament hangers all from Lowe's. Balls from Wal-Mart. Fruit ornaments, acorns, tree stand all from private collection (read: rockle's basement).