Five Things About Last Night's "Glee" (S3E2)

Sorry it's been so long, but you guys: SO BUSY, and yet so boring at the same time. So let's talk about last night's "Glee" since everybody else is, OK?

#1. West Side Story is one of my favorite musicals ever, and watching the audition process took me back to a place I never, ever thought I'd want to go again: my freshman year of college. I absolutely hated college (most of it, anyway, definitely major chunks of those four years that weren't spent in a classroom), but one of the few things that I actually enjoyed was being a part of the inaugural company of the First Year Players at Syracuse University. We did West Side Story that year, and I played Anybodys, and it was seriously one of the best times I ever had in my life. Even if you include my falling desperately, helplessly in love with two different cast members and having my heart broken many times over because of it. West Side Story is so much fun to do and I am so glad I had the chance to be in that show - the 1961 movie version with Natalie Wood and Rita Moreno remains, to this day, one of my favorite films.

#2. I hope I am not the only person who mentions this on the Internet or in real life today, but even if you used color-blind casting for the William McKinley High School production, there is no way on God's green Earth that Mercedes could ever play Maria. Sure, she has the vocal chops for it, but she is just not the Maria type. And it's not just because she is the "big girl" or the "black girl" - she is just not THAT girl. I'm not entirely certain that Rachel is quite right for the part, either. If I were casting the show using students from WMHS New Directions, Maria would be played by Tina. Kurt would be absolutely THE most fabulous Riff ever, Mike would be Chino, Puck would be Bernardo, Finn would be one of the Jets (one of the ones in the back who doesn't do much dancing), Quinn and Brittany would be Graziela and Velma. In this scenario, Mercedes would be best cast as Anita, although she would have tough competition from Santana. Blaine, of course, would be Tony. I don't know what to do with Rachel, exactly - she's almost too much for West Side Story. She's really more of a Desiree Armfeldt from A Little Night Music (the part that was recently played on Broadway by Catherine Zeta-Jones).

#3. Oh, that whole adoption thing? Makes me think about things that I'm not entirely sure I want to think about. I wonder sometimes if Shae's biological mother ever wants to see her - if she even remembers that Shae exists. And I worry what would happen if that were the case. Knowing what I know about Shae's birth mom, I don't think it's likely that she'll ever want to make contact, but ... what if? Imagine I am Shelby Corcoran in this scenario - am I in any position to make demands? Can I say, "I won't let you see this person that you gave birth to unless you meet my standards of dress/behavior/lifestyle/sobriety"? Certainly I want to prevent my daughter from being exposed to the kinds of things I know she was exposed to as an infant (i.e., REALLY BAD STUFF, let's leave it at that). Our adoption is closed, and right now I don't have any particular interest in letting Shae's biological parents be a part of our lives, for better or for worse. Maybe I am overprotective or overly possessive or living in denial. All of these things are possible, maybe even probable. I shouldn't have to think about this stuff after watching a silly TV show with lots of singing and dancing in it.

#4. "Somewhere" and "Something's Coming" are my two favorite songs from West Side Story, full stop. I could listen to Lea Michele, Idina Menzel, and Darren Criss sing those songs all day, every day, for the rest of my life, and I would die happy. I do wonder if "Glee" is ever going to do the "Tonight Quintet," and if so, how and when, and whether everything is going to tie back to anything happening in the story arcs for the actual characters, and whether they'll switch up any of the voice parts, or whatever. (I can't find a good video of the song to show it in context from the musical, but go watch the movie version - I can't recommend it enough, and you'll know this song when you see it.)

#5. There were supposed to be five things on this list but I ran out of things, so HOORAY FOR "GLEE!" Or not, if you hate "Glee." I won't judge. I hate the Kardashians and the Real Housewives, so it's not like I don't have my own problems.


Obliviously On She Sails

The first day of fall came and went without mention in our house. We didn't try to balance an egg on its end on a table or celebrate the equinox by dancing naked in a field with other hippies or anything. It was just, for us, another day among all the other days of the year, another day of work and school and leftovers and television shows, albeit one with a higher allergen and irritant count than might be considered completely comfortable.

One of the unintended consequences of taking our vacation over Labor Day, during the very last unofficial week of the summer, is that once it was over, there really wasn't much left to look forward to. We missed all the picnics and parties, all the pools are closed for the season, and since Shae still has another year of pre-school, we didn't really have any back-to-school or ready-for-kindergarten shopping to do. It occurs to me that September might possibly be the saddest, slowest month of the year.

Early fall can be so off-putting, especially this year, when we haven't had an Indian summer, and all signs point to none coming. It started raining here at the beginning of August and it almost hasn't stopped for six weeks, the temperatures gradually but consistently dropping, ever-so-slowly so that you didn't realize it, until one morning you start needing a jacket in the morning and you never really stop. Everything is changing to shades of yellows and browns that will fade to grays and whites before we know it.

That's partly why I waited as long as I could stand it before I posted this one last picture from vacation, one of my very favorites, a veritable oasis of life and air and light and color among the leaves that are already falling and the grass that is already growing dormant and the claustrophobia that is already starting to close in on me, as the seasons change and the weather changes and everything changes, like it or not, and so it goes.


And obliviously on she sails.


Eaters Gonna Eat: White Bean Chili

Normally I put the foodie stuff over on my emergency backup blog but this stuff is SO GOOD that I'm sharing it here with all of you because I love you. No, wait: I was hiding under your porch because I love you. I don't really know why I'm sharing this recipe. Maybe because it's rainy and damp and icky outside and I think you all need to spice up your lives? I dunno. Just make it and eat it, and then eat some more, because I said so. You can trust me, I'm from the Internet.

Based on Paula Deen's recipe

4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter
2 cans (4½ ounces each) chopped green chiles
1 pound ground chicken or turkey
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¾ cup diced onion
2 cans (15 ounces each) navy beans
1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans
5 cups chicken stock
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon white pepper
¼ teaspoon chili powder
2 pinches red pepper flakes
½ bunch parsley leaves, chopped
1 can (11 ounces) white shoepeg corn

  1. In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Drain chiles and set aside. Add ground meat, garlic, onion, and chiles to pot and sauté for 8-10 minutes or until meat is completely cooked through and vegetables are softened, stirring occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile, drain and rinse beans. When meat mixture is browned, add beans and chicken stock to pot and increase heat to high. Bring to a boil. Add remaining ingredients. Reduce heat to medium and cook for another 1-1½ hours, stirring occasionally, or until desired consistency is reached.
  3. Drain corn. Stir into chili and allow to heat through for about 5 minutes. Serve immediately, or properly cool for crock pot reheating.
NOTES -- I made this with ground turkey, because I couldn't find ground chicken. The recipe calls for cilantro instead of parsley but I was in a hurry at the store yesterday and grabbed the wrong thing. I like it this way so that's how I'll make it in the future. You can use half the can of corn if you don't like a lot of corn in your chili, but I do; you can also substitute yellow corn, or even Mexicorn or a can of the black-bean-and-corn blend if you want to add some color. I made it last night and then reheated it in the crock pot this morning (1½ hours on low and then switched to "Keep Warm" setting).

My regular chili has more of a subtle heat to it; this is spicy right up front, but not too hot (because I won't eat it if it is). You can omit the chili powder and reduce the amount of cumin if you don't like it to be hot at all. A plop of sour cream and a sprinkle of cheese on top when you serve can also help cut the heat. Let me know if you like it!



These pictures need basically no commentary, so I'm just going to go ahead and throw them up for you to enjoy (although because this is my blog and I never shut up, I will have a few little things to say at the end).

That scarf is by Michael Kors. MICHAEL M-F'ING JUDGE ON M-F'ING PROJECT RUNWAY M-F'ING KORS. And that kid is ROCKIN' it like the superest supermodel ever. Naomi Campbell, watch your back, because Gladys Leibowitz rides again, people.


I Don't Know How They Do It (Or What "It" Is, Exactly)

These were supposed to go up yesterday - sorry. We had technical difficulties at home (i.e., the power inexplicably went out and I couldn't get the pictures uploaded sooner). Now if you could only tell me what is happening in some of these pictures, I would owe you a great debt.

LBI 2011 755

File under: My kid is weird and plays with random things she finds on the beach.

LBI 2011 037


LBI 2011 226

Kids in buckets are hysterically funny, full stop.

LBI 2011 156

So this horse walks into a bar, and the bartender says, "Why the long face?"

LBI 2011 019

It is apparently never too soon for wee ones to learn the "bish, PLEASE" face.

LBI 2011 050

He is up to something, but I can't remember what.

Whoa, dude, SERIOUSLY?

LBI 2011 Jaime 139

Fetching, just fetching.

LBI 2011 Jaime 108

Got milk? (I have never seen an actual milk moustache in the wild before.)

LBI 2011 392

Joey didn't really like the ocean much (it was really rough anyway), but he LOVED playing in the sand.

LBI 2011 367

Now SHE, on the other hand ...

LBI 2011 452
LBI 2011 451

One day on the trip -- I think it was Tuesday but it could have been Wednesday, I don't remember -- we had a lot of rain and the kids needed to be entertained, so we got out the bikes and they literally, yes LITERALLY, rode in circles around the garage for HOURS. It was probably one of the better nights we had, honestly, because they just did loops and figure 8's until the pretty much keeled over.

LBI 2011 465

Makayla even got in on the action -- my parents took turns pushing her around in the stroller, following the other kids, like the smallest, strangest, most adorable parade you've ever seen in your life.


Haldaman Family Portraits, 2011

When we go on vacation, we always try to get a picture of the whole family, having fun together (or at least pretending to). We managed to get a shoot in on Sunday night, before some of the boys had to go home for work.

LBI 2011 548 - Version 2
LBI 2011 553 - Version 2

You can see that we tried to match everybody within the "family groups" -- my youngest sister and her gang in white, my middle sister and her peeps in blue, my posse in green, and my parents in pink. Except my mom didn't have a pink shirt, so she's the outlier. Which is pretty much typical for her, anyway. (In a good way, always.)

LBI 2011 571 - Version 2
LBI 2011 569 - Version 2

We also did a semi-formal shoot on Thursday night with just my parents and the kids, everyone in white. It was a just a touch overcast and very humid that night, so the combination of the elements plus the lighting plus my general ineptitude made for slightly gauzy photos, but I like them. If I actually knew what I was doing, these pictures would have been amazing. (Also: not sure if you can tell, but my nephew is wearing a tiny little guayabera shirt with monkeys embroidered on it. ZOMG MONKEYS! Little boys' clothes are SO CUTE. Why oh why don't they make anything that cute in my size? Although I'd never rock it quite as hard as he does, the handsome little devil.)

LBI 2011 498

I also got this picture of my parents on one of the balconies of the house, which is one of the best pictures that has been taken of my parents in the last 30-some-odd years. Are they not among the cutest parents ever? I hope my husband and I are that adorable after we've been married for almost 40 years.

LBI 2011 578

Some other sub-family pictures that came out great. (I don't know where the nice photo of my little family is, but whatever, it isn't as lovely as these are, anyway.)

LBI 2011 703

Totally gratuitous, but COME ON. Work it out, Miss Divalette! I miss when Shae was smaller and less attitudinal and she would sit still and pose for pictures for me. Experience leads me to suspect that Makayla won't do this for much longer, so we all took as many pictures of her as we could. Plus: hello, she's gorgeous. (I think this looks like a catalog picture. Baby sold separately.)

Caption for this one: Girls' Club, Class of 2011.

And all of the "biological" Haldamans, on the last day of vacation, which was also the nicest, weather-wise. Because of course it was.

Tomorrow: OUTTAKES! The silly photos are always the best. (A quick sample, via Instagram.)


I'm On A Boat

While we were on vacation we took advantage of a Groupon -- no, my capacity for cheapitude does not extend to vacations (in fact, I think there is NO BETTER TIME to be thrifty than when you are on vacation, if only to awe the world with your mad shipping ninja skills) -- and we all went for a whale watch. (OK, "marine mammal watch," technically.)

Yes: all of us. All eleven of us -- thirteen, if you count the camera and the contraband stroller as one person each, as I do -- drove an hour and a half south on the Garden State Parkway, each way, to take a three-hour boat tour. On an overcast, windy day, with a hurricane just over a week past, another tropical storm looming just off the coast, and three more weather situations brewing.

And it was AMAZING.

LBI 2011 072
LBI 2011 Jaime 049
LBI 2011 540

The kids loved being on the top deck of the ship, just hanging their heads and arms over the side of the railings, feeling the wind in their faces. We honestly could have driven around in a big circle for three hours and they wouldn't have cared.

But. BUT!

Dolphins. Tons of f'ing dolphins.

LBI 2011 172
LBI 2011 180
LBI 2011 287
LBI 2011 300
LBI 2011 415

Now for all I know, these are the same four or five dolphins in every single picture, and I don't even care. (The captain said there were about 35 in total; I don't know.) They were RIGHT THERE. I could have leapt off the side of the boat and ridden on the back of one off into the sunset. (I didn't, but only because I was afraid would misjudge the jump and fatally rack myself on one of the lower decks, and of all the undignified ways that there are for me to get myself killed, "impaled on the oar of an emergency dinghy" is not really near the top of the list.)

(Also, if I got the camera wet on my way to a watery grave, my husband would never have forgiven me.)

LBI 2011 484

Trying to maintain one's composure and act like a civilized human being when there are ZOMG REAL LIVE MOTHERTRUCKING DOLPHINS RIGHT OVER THERE SQUEE! is exhausting, yo. Plus I think I might possibly have gotten whiplash or something, because the water was REALLY rough -- we didn't see any whales because we couldn't get out as far as the boat normally goes because of all the storms and whatnot -- but at the time I didn't even notice because I was so busy checking "see live dolphins up close in the wild" off my bucket list.

See? Good times.


Children and Other Wildlife

So. We survived vacation. It rained and there were a lot of late nights and early mornings and entirely more bug bites that I ever thought were possible -- obviously, it's been a while since I went camping -- but we survived. Not just survived, but thrived, really, except for that one time when I got that killer pain in my neck-and-back, and a couple of stubbed toes, and a pedicure that didn't even last a week, and some rough surf, and someone drank all my Malibu (and it wasn't me), and possibly someone else consumed quite a lot more Oreos than might perhaps be considered seemly (and maybe it was me that time). Still. Isn't that why they call it a "vacation"?

LBI 2011 414
LBI 2011 147
LBI 2011 235

We hung out by the (heated) (private) (in-ground) (wonderful) pool.

LBI 2011 205
LBI 2011 317
LBI 2011 346

And we frolicked on the (gorgeous) (mostly private) (mostly deserted) (almost eerily quiet) beach.

LBI 2011 060
LBI 2011 713

And we dug around with heavy construction equipment on the dunes, which is generally considered off-limits, but not here.

AND THERE WERE DOLPHINS, which I will show you tomorrow. (For more pictures in the meantime, although sadly none of marine mammals, you can check out my Tumblr-slash-Instagram-photo-dump.)

All in all, I can't complain.


Book Review: "Slow Love" by Dominique Browning

I'm on vacation this week, and every spare moment has been spent in a book. What I've been reading between wine coolers is Slow Love: How I Lost My Job, Put On My Pajamas, and Found Happiness by Dominique Browning, a memoir about the author at midlife, working through the abrupt changes that lead her out of her corporate office in Manhattan and into her pajamas in Rhode Island.

Much of the book is about the author's working through a long-term relationship with a legally-separated-but-not-divorced man, whom she eventually realizes is ambivalent about their romance. If you could even call it that; I don't think it's particularly romantic to spend more than a few months working things out with someone who repeatedly asked why it mattered that he remained married to his wife.

Ultimately, it felt to me like that relationship ambivalence bled into the pages of the book. It is beautifully written, almost lyrical, but behind the pretty words there is a strange lack of emotion. Every time I felt Brown had turned a corner and was getting to the point where she would finally find happiness, she reeled herself back and only seemed to find a grudging, almost unappreciated acceptance that I found frustratingly disappointing.

We'll be discussing Slow Love over at Blog Her Book Club this month -- if you're interested, why don't you join us? I'll be there as soon as I get back from vacation.


Grab Bag: Happy Birthday From The 2000 Phillies

This post is part of a sort of "blog hop" series that hope to contribute to semi-regularly -- The Grab Bag: Writing Prompts for Bogged-Down Bloggers. Of course, I don't normally have trouble coming up with something to write about as long as I have pictures, but when I don't ... well, that's the trouble. So I am really excited about having some kind of starting point, at least, for not-necessarily-kid-related blog posts, since I'm all out of pictures for the week (and anyway, I'm kind of getting tired of using them as a crutch {which of course I just originally typed as "crotch" because OF COURSE I DID, durr}). The "theme" for Week 1 is "Memorable Birthdays" (paraphrased, of course -- more details at the link). Feel free to join in, if you want; add a link to your post in the comments over on Dancing Lemur's blog, and then browse everyone else's contributions as they come aboard.


We're not really birthday people in my family. I mean, we have birthdays, because everybody has birthdays, but we've never really been the sort to throw giant parties just because we could. We'd have family and a few friends over for cake and ice cream, and of course we got cards and gifts and flowers and special dinners and stuff, but birthdays have pretty much usually been low-key affairs.

When I graduated from college and got a full-time job, I started making a habit of taking a vacation day for my birthday. I mean really, who wants to get up at the ass-crack of dawn so they can go into a cube farm and forcibly socialize with people they don't like very much on their birthday, when they'd rather being doing literally anything else, including laundry? Not me.

The year I turned 26, my parents wanted to do something extra-special for my birthday, so they treated my husband and me to an afternoon Phillies game. The weather was gorgeous, as luckily it often is in this part of the country in early May, and that early in the baseball season, even the Vet was lovely. It was a businesspersons' special, an early afternoon game, so I basically got to spend the entire day with my three favorite people in the world (my husband and my parents, plus my sister and a couple of her friends from Princeton). My name appeared on the Phan-a-vision in giant letters, and I freaked out slightly because the entire City of Philadelphia saw how old I was, and I got a free cap, and an entire baseball stadium sang "Happy Birthday" to me and I got confetti thrown in my hair by total strangers.

It was, in a word, amazing.