Haul Out The Holly

Our tree, she is UP, you guys.

Tree 2011 Phase 1

There she is in her original, unadorned splendor: about 7½ feet of fine Fraser fir. She smells divine. I love Fraser firs the best of all because they smell piney and citrus-y and they are really good about holding on to their needles.

Tree 2011 Phase 2

This year we used two strands of plain white lights and two strands of clear globe lights. I'm pretty sure all our lights will need to be replaced for next year, because they're all starting to unravel. If anyone has a line on frosted and/or pearl globe lights, let me know. I love me some globe lights.

Tree 2011 Phase 2A

We let Shae put the star on the top of the tree this year. I'm pretty sure that by this time next year, she'll be able to do it without even needing a stepstool. I really wish they would stop putting Miracle-Gro in all the food at school. Maybe pizza really IS a vegetable.

Tree 2011 Phase 2A Complete

O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree, how lovely are your branches! (G says that in the original German, the words to "O Tannenbaum" translate to "how lovely are your needles," but we don't listen to him.)

Tree 2011 Phase 3

We have more ornaments on the tree this year than we did last year, but we went with the same color scheme: bright aqua, lime green, hot pink, sparkly purple, gold, silver, and white, with a couple of random clears and bronzes, and that one blue sweater ornament up there near the top. We only got four new decorations this year (two aqua butterflies, a pink-and-purple fish, and my new favorite.)

she is called "sparkleduck" and I LOVE HER.

Sparkleduck, ladies and gents. Isn't she lovely? Isn't she WONDERFUL? This is probably the best dollar I ever spent at Target on Christmas ornaments in the last two weeks. Shae and G did most of the decorating while I stood around and freaked out because my Martha Stewart Complex got aggravated by all the straight lines and color-non-randomization, but Sparkleduck is all me. (Oh, and yes, we hid the Hula Pickle, but I can't tell you where because I am not sure if Shae knows how to work the Internet. But TRUST ME.)


Nine Things I Was Thankful For On Thanksgiving

1. Turkey hats.

doin' the turkey dance! (like the chicken dance, but with cooler hats.) #mykidisawesome

2. Babies in turkey hats.

passing the turkey-hat torch.

3. The last of the summer flowers.


4. Painted concrete ducks.


5. Uncle Quack's piano.


6. Joyful noises.


7. The young and the young at heart.


8. Titanic.




Catching Fire

So. There was a bonfire on Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, just like there is every year.


This year's was slightly sad, at least at the beginning, because it rained for like an entire week beforehand, so all the wood and all the ground and everything were wet and muddy and basically difficult to set on fire.


But we had a good time anyway, even if we only stuck around for like 10 minutes and barely managed to get any good pictures at all.


The operative word in that last sentence being "barely."


Because the ones we got? Pretty alright, if you ask me.


Sunday Supper

Olive oil
Three carrots
Three ribs of celery
Small onion
Some boneless skinless chicken thighs
Chicken broth
Diced tomatoes
Fresh thyme
Fresh rosemary
Fresh sage
Kosher salt
Fresh-ground pepper
Balsamic vinegar
Hot buttered baguette



Very Short Movie Review: "The Muppets"

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We're kind of having a lazy weekend, what with it just being Thanksgiving and all that turkey still digesting and all. We were supposed to go get our Christmas tree today but we never got around to it; it's on the agenda for tomorrow. If we get around to it.

What we did do was go to the movies. We saw "The Muppets" because OF COURSE we did. We loved it. At least, I did. It is nice to see movies that don't rely on fancy CGI and special effects, with scripts that are cute and clever without being twee and precious.

Kermit, Piggy, Animal and the gang were spot-on; Jason Segel, Amy Adams, and Chris Cooper were perfect; the cameos were exactly as awesome as you expect Muppet movie cameos to be. Loved the blend of old and new songs. Overall, I think everything was done with just the right amount of winking at the audience.

If you love the Muppets -- and I imagine you do, since I love the Muppets, and you and I love all the same things, right? -- then you'll like this movie. This is, in my opinion, exactly the right way to reboot a franchise. Highly enjoyable. 8/10.


Bittersweet Birthday

Today is my grandmother's birthday.

It would also have been my grandfather's birthday, and my grandfather was older than my grandmother, so today is literally the first birthday my grandmother has ever had without my grandfather.

And yesterday would have been their anniversary.

I can't imagine what it must be like to know that it's your first wedding anniversary and your first shared birthday after your husband of many years has passed. To have to celebrate those things on and around Thanksgiving, a holiday that is all about family, and to get through that without the one person who was your family for so long ... I just can't imagine.

Yesterday on our way to Thanksgiving dinner, Shae saw a "shooting star" -- really a contrail, but anyway -- and she said, "Mommy, make a wish." And I did.

I wished for my grandmother to have a happy birthday. And I really hope she can. And I really hope that everyone else remembers that today is her birthday, too.


Today We Give Thanks

I don't know what anybody else is giving thanks for this year, but I'm giving thanks for good examples.


This year would have been my grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary.


Today would have been their 60th wedding anniversary.


My grandparents set an example without even trying to, of how to be and stay married.


And today, as I celebrate Thanksgiving with my family, their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren, I am thanful for their good example.


Feed The Tree

We also climbed some trees while we were at the park.


Shae claims she doesn't "know how" to climb a tree, but she does just fine, I think.


We also found a funky old stump to play with.


And an old log to use for a balance-beam-slash-jungle-gym.


I suppose it goes without saying that we love the park.


Feeding The Spirit Animals

Unrelated story: I was in a gray mood this morning, so I thought that listening to Christmas music might help. It didn't, and I also learned that in the song "Do They Know It's Christmas?" at the part at the end where they're all singing the chorus, everybody is singing "Feed the wooooorld!" when all this time -- 20+ YEARS! -- I thought they were just singing "We know, oooooooooh!" I feel like an irredeemable idiot (assuming that I am not already, in fact, an irredeemable idiot).

= = = = =

While we were out enjoying the warmish weather yesterday and discovering that Shae's spirit animal is the wood duck, we did in fact take some time out to feed the ducks.


There were SWARMS of them, and for the first time in as long as I can remember, we fed many different species actual ducks without any interference from Canada geese. Those things are NASTY.


In case you were wondering, the Chef's Selection for the day was stale heel ends of whole-wheat bread and crushed up stale ice cream cones. They really seemed to like it. Not sure if these ducks are particularly hungry or what -- they seemed like they were all a good size to me.


Notice the large bite mark out of the corner of this piece of bread. That is there because someone wanted to make sure that "everything is OK" before we fed it to the ducks. We've gone out in the past with stale cereal and didn't get a lot of takers.


This duck whistle from Wawa amuses me. The ducks seemed unfazed, but Shae really believes that she was communicating with them. A regular Dr. Doolittle, that one.


As you can see, feeding the ducks in exhausting. And highly meditative.


Aix Sponsa

According to Wikipedia, "[t]he wood duck or Carolina duck (Aix sponsa) is a species of duck found in North America. It is one of the most colourful of North American waterfowl."


This kind of duck is one of my favorites, because it reminds me an awful lot of my daughter. It is stunningly beautiful, with distinctive plumage and pretty eyes, just like Shae.


Since they're ducks, they're excellent swimmers, and I noticed today that they tend to be partial to bread and stale ice cream comes -- not unlike Shae on both counts.


They also have great big ol' sass-mouths. So, you know, my kid is apparently not just part mermaid and part goldfish, but also part wood duck, too.


Grocery Stores And Other Scary Places

Since Thanksgiving is coming up and we're going to just about get familied-out next week, we decided to stay home for the weekend and get some stuff done around the house -- mostly straightening up the living room so that we'll be able to get our tree next weekend, as per our tradition. But also, because we kind of can't justifiably live on Chinese take-out and pizza for the next week because we are civilized, dammit, we also had to go to the grocery store.

Um, have you been to the grocery store on the Saturday before Thanksgiving? It's a horrifying place. I can't believe I am saying this, but it might actually be scarier at the supermarket on the Saturday before Thanksgiving than it is at the mall on Black Friday. Because -- and, again, I can't believe I am saying this, but -- the mall appears to be equipped to actually let you buy things.

I mean, yes, we did manage to buy things. Your standard staples: milk, cereal, bread, peanut butter, stuff to make chicken pot pie in the crock pot, frozen mini chocolate eclairs. I also got a 21-pound turkey which is now taking up half of the bottom shelf of my refrigerator, which is ironic because I'm not even going to be cooking it, but it was free with my shopper's card points, so what do I care? I'll eat squished up bread.

But navigating the grocery store on a busy weekend is pretty rough. Our supermarket tends to be crowded on a normal weekend anyway but MY GOD, between the giant stacks of corn cans and stuffing boxes and fancy displays made up of sweet potatoes as big as my head and enormous bags of marshmallows, it's hard to see around corners. The aisles all seem tight and everybody is in a hurry and there is something in the air that causes multiple nuclear meltdowns near the yogurt bunkers.

Oh and hey, I was also with my kid, who seems to be stuck firmly in "naughty" gear, with no amount of threatening to call Santa helping. AT ALL.

Then again, on the upside: I have that giant free turkey in my fridge.


Thoughts About My TiVo

1. I wish every TV show had Joshua Jackson in it.

2. It looks like Kirk Acevedo is in every TV show.

3. Stephen Root makes an excellent crazy person.

4. The best insane genius anywhere every is John Noble.

5. Seriously, why doesn't every TV show have Joshua Jackson in it?


It's Not You, It's Me

It's been a really bad day and I don't really want to talk about it just yet, so as a token of my appreciation for your patience I offer the following additional pictures of my kid with balloons.

Two Balloons
Bored With Two Balloons
Pop And Lock With Two Balloons
Tired With Two Balloons

And thank you for your support.


Tasty Tuesday

Let's say you're all running late one Tuesday night because your husband got stuck in an endless meeting and you had to stop at the CVS on your way home from work to pick up yours fancy prescription toothpaste, so you collectively decide to forage for your dinner and he's having a bowl of cereal and the kid is having two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but you don't really want either of those things, so you find some mini hash brown patties in the freezer, and while they're baking you poke around in the fridge and find some quasi-questionable cherry tomatoes, so you cut those in half and throw them in a small skillet with the tiniest bit of flavored oil and seasoned salt and you toss them around and kind of pan roast them, and then maybe while those are cooking you take about ⅓ of a cup of southwest-flavored egg substitute and one egg and you scramble them together with some chives and a couple of tablespoons of reduced-fat Mexican-style cheese and about two ounces of cut-up turkey lunch meat, and then you take the tomatoes out of the pan and cook that whole egg mess up until it's nice and scrambly and just the way you like it, and you put the egg stuff on a pan and you put those tomatoes on top and you take the hash browns out of the oven and om nom nom and do you know what you have then?

You have one hell of a delicious dinner, is what you have.


Chew On This

I have bruxism. And apparently it is way worse than I thought.

I just got back from the dentist, and basically I am going to be spending a lot of time in her office over the next six months to a year or so. From grinding my teeth plus overzealous brushing plus drinking soda by the bucketful, I have basically worn almost all the enamel off almost all my teeth. The only tooth in my entire head that appears to be fundamentally unaffected is the one that isn't even "factory equipment" any more -- it's the tooth that had the root canal and now has a crown.

I'm pretty sure this is nothing to be embarrassed about -- this isn't like the last time I went to a new dentist's office, when it had been more than 5 years since my last cleaning. Then I ended up having to have my bottom two wisdom teeth pulled, and I needed a gum debridement, which was maybe the most awful thing ever, mostly because for weeks afterward I needed to use this awful special mouthwash that tasted like black licorice and made everything taste funny.

I am not kidding when I say that black licorice is NOT a good flavor for mouthwash.

I guess I am going to have to have a bunch of teeth bonded, two cavities filled, and eventually I will have the other two wisdom teeth extracted, because basically they aren't doing anything except making it harder for me to keep the rest of my molars. I'll need to change the way I drink my soda -- smaller volumes, use a straw, only at mealtimes -- and then I will need to swish with a flouride rinse immediately afterwards. I have to get prescription toothpaste, too, which is something I didn't even know existed. Oh, and my new toothbrush? Is the same size as the toothbrush my kid uses.

I will say this about the new dentist: she is quite wonderful. She is the same dentist who takes care of Shae, and she is practically an old pro at the office, even though she's only been there twice. I am a complete wuss when it comes to dental work. I know it needs to be done, and I actually think that poor dental hygiene is one of the unforgivable sins, but there is something about getting needles in my mouth that I will never be 100% comfortable with.

I understand that this office also uses nitrous oxide, so maybe I will be okay.


Five Things I Am Curious About

1. We have all of the Shrek movies, all three of the original Star Wars triology movies, the first four Harry Potter movies, and all of the Toy Story movies -- why does my kid always want to start with the sequels, and never the first movie in any of the series?

2. Why is it colder inside my house than it is outside?

3. If onion rings are so delicious -- likewise for the Bloomin' Onion and other equivalent appetizer things -- and if green bean casserole is so damned tasty, why is it that French's french fried onions straight out of the bag are so vile?

4. Is there any smell in the universe more powerful that the peculiar aroma of microwave popcorn?

5. How am I going to resist eating the crispy skin off this rotisserie chicken until dinnertime?



We're all wearing blue today. Even Shae, who doesn't even know why the rest of us are. Because we don't really know what else to do. We've made a donation, but we really don't know what else to do.


Heavy Machinery



Okay, yes, technically this is a foundation. Whatever. Shut up. The reason why this foundation even exists right now is because of CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT! RAWR! (I love the little sign that says "OUTSIDE," and I wonder what would happen if, say, some wiseass blogger who was possibly illegally trespassing at a construction site might have removed that sign and put it, say, inside the foundation. What would happen? Not that I, personally, know anybody who might do such a thing.)


There was a bulldozer at this particular construction site -- the new spec home being built on the lot next to the home of the Hello Kitty party girl -- but Shae didn't want to pose for pictures in front of that. She was much more interested in the backhoe.


Not that I blame her. You can't climb into the giant shovel part of a bulldozer because a bulldozer doesn't have a giant shovel part. Duh. (At least I think that is the difference. I thought the bulldozer was actually a backhoe, and that the backhoe was a front-end loader. You know, because the giant shovel part LOADS from the FRONT END?)


Now I am wondering what it is that I asked my husband to buy me when he took me out for dinner for my 21st birthday and we went to Red Robin and I drank an entire birdbath margarita all by myself and got so drunk that I had to lie down in the booth for a little while just to make the room stop spinning and then on the way home we passed some heavy machinery and I basically begged and cried until he promised to buy me a backhoe but what if I really secretly wanted a bulldozer all this time and maybe it means we NEVER EVEN REALLY GOT MARRIED oh my God MIND BLOWN.




Riding In Cars with Boys

My husband's going to have his hands full when Shae gets old enough to drive, because she really loves riding in cars with boys.


Especially, apparently, boys with dinosaur hats, or mohawks, or whatever.


Of course, who among us does not greatly enjoy just stomping the snot out of the gas pedal?


Looks like her new little boyfriend enjoyed the joyride, too (sunglasses added to protect the innocent).


At least, I think that's enjoyment and not sheer, abject terror.


Meanwhile, you might be wondering what I will be doing while my husband is dealing with our daughter riding in cars with boys.


I'll be in the nuthouse, with all the nuts and the squirrels, where I belong.