Friday, January 30, 2009

What I'll Be Doing This Weekend

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Writer's Block--A Timeline of Procrastination

No, no, not for the blog. I can almost always think of something to come here and yammer about on a daily basis. And I love it that you come and read. No, I'm talking about writer's block for my actual work writing. Writing that I am supposed to do for money, and so you'd think that would make me finish it in a timely fashion. You'd think.

I had a client's magazine deadline on Monday. My original plan was to have it all finished last Friday so I would not have that "oh my gosh, it's Sunday night and I haven't done my homework" panic attack that I remember so well from middle school, high school, college and graduate school. I hate, wait, let me rephrase that, HATE that feeling. Something looming over your head. I hate loominess. And yet, I let things looooooom.

So I had this big plan. And then Grandma died and suddenly there were far more important things to think about besides work. Flight arrangements, creating a 1,002 page schedule for Eamonn to follow while I was gone, cooking, cleaning, meal planning, baking, deciding what to wear (and then realizing it was going to be too cold to wear a freaking dress at the funeral in the end so I'm going to have to go shopping here for pants that are acceptable to the masses), and on and on.

So I decided I would write the stories Friday night (five stories in one night???) before flying out last Saturday. As if. I can't exactly recall what happened and what I did last Friday night--oh wait, I do recall--Declan's hockey team played between periods at the Detroit Red Wings Alumni v. Vail Mountaineers charity hockey game in Vail. We didn't get home until 10pm. Yes, yes, it's all coming back to me now. I was packing and still unshowered 30 minutes prior to leaving for the airport on Saturday morning. So no writing got done Friday night.

Saturday night. I arrived and Tara, Mom and I went through family pictures so the funeral home could put together a commerative DVD of Grandma's life. This is big in the funeral industry now, just so you know. And you should also know that I didn't actually do too much work on the picture project. I kind of sorted through some pictures wondering when I could discreetly slip off to bed without being labeled a lazy ass.

Sunday. We drove, in a "snow storm," to the small town my parents and grandparents were from and made funeral arrangements. I did a small amount of work. Just enough to get by with a completely different client. Still, nothing new written for the magazine client whose deadline was the next day. I just could not get motivated. Besides, we started watching Cranford, which, if you have not seen it, you should get from your local library and watch with your sister or your mother or your best friend. Oh, how I love period drama. I want to marry Judy Dench. I want to live in those times--but without getting scarlet fever, or cholera or the morbid sore throat, or whatever it was that they died from back then.

Monday. Time to Get Serious. I went to the library for most of the day. I was Really Committed to getting the articles finished. And then I realized that for two of the articles, the interview subjects had not sent me the final materials they needed to so I could actually complete the articles. I finished a different article and submitted everything I had completed to date. Then spent the rest of my time at the library gazing around, wondering if I would see anyone I knew (I did) and eating a contraband protein bar. We stayed up until 1am watching the end of Cranford. Then I had to stay up until 2am finishing documents for yet another client. The final two article for the magazine client? Still not done.

Tuesday. Was beset by a hopeless feeling that frequently overcomes me when I am blocked and cannot even get the first sentence down on paper (screen). Rules of writing would dictate that I just skip the first sentence, paragraph, or whatever it is that is blocking me and come back to it later, but I feel stubborn and don't want to do this. I will not write until I have an appropriate lead. This really only leads to doom. Anyway, I'm so tired from staying up so late that I can't actually write. I don't blog as punishment to myself, because I technically probably shouldn't blog if I haven't completed my actual work. Kind of like not allowing myself to eat dessert if I haven't exercised. No work writing? Then no blogging allowed.

Wednesday. I haven't heard from my client who needs the magazine articles even though I sent her some of them and asked her a question. I'm hoping that a gigantic storm has enveloped Denver and she can't get to the office and work, which means it's no big deal that I'm so behind. I place a hopeful call. No, she is there working on the magazine. However, she is one of those very gracious people and tells me that I'm not holding her up--she is placing other articles and I can send mine whenever. I ask if Christmas is OK. There is no answer.

This morning. I crank out one of the last two stories due: How to Survive, and Even Thrive, in an Economic Crisis. This is actually a good one and I didn't fall asleep once while writing it. I sent it. I feel relieved for about 2.2 seconds. One article to go.

Now. OK, it's the moment of truth. If I could just get started, I would have this thing finished in about two hours. I'm blocked. And we're going to Target because Tara says I need different types of hair clips to control my hair, which in Ohio resembles a lion's mane. An unkempt lion. Or maybe Janis Joplin. Plus, we are eating sushi tonight and I need to give that some thought. And popcorn. We are in a snowstorm and my mother ran out of popcorn. I don't know how someone actually does that, but there you have it.

Tomorrow. Is the funeral and so the work has to be finished today. Like now. The funeral was actually supposed to be today, but the storm, and to give Ohio credit, it was an actual storm--even by Colorado standards--has shut everything, and I mean everything, down in this city. The colleges and universities are even closed. Good grief. That seems a tad extreme, but I'm enjoying the still, cozyness of this day so you won't get any complaints from me.

I am willing my brain to become unblocked. As soon as I get back from Target. And eat sushi. And eat popcorn and watch Little Women with my sisters.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Miscellaneous Thoughts About the Buckeye State

I have been here 48 hours and I haven't seen the sun yet.

Humidity makes things really hot. . .and really cold. Dang! It's cold here!

I used to be psyched when we'd get three inches of snow and school would be cancelled. Now it's a mystery to me.

And before I begin this next section--a disclaimer: I am not a slim person. At all. I'm a wannabe slim person. But I do live in a slim state now. Which makes me feel slightly superior. . .until I look in the mirror. Anyway, Eamonn's family used to marvel at how overweight Americans were. This was back in the 90s and then convenience and fast foods hit England with a vengence and now they're a pretty chunky nation themselves (I'm telling you, watch You Are What You Eat on BBC America). I never really noticed it before until they mentioned it to me. And then I started looking around and realized they were right--there are so many overweight people in the U.S. in general. So anyway, I was about to board one of those small-ish planes from Chicago to Columbus on Saturday and I was once again surprised at how many heavy people were getting on the plane. We are such an unhealthy nation overall and it was a reminder to me that I need to recommit myself to a healthier lifestyle because I do NOT want people to look at me and think, "I hope she's not in the seat next to me," which frankly, is what I was thinking about a lot of these people. I hope I don't offend a lot of people with those comments, but as a country, we need to wake up and smell the coffee. Or water. Or some other low calorie drink.

With that tirade said above, I'm counting down the minutes until I can get to First Watch and have my favorite breakfast: Caps. Two eggs anyway you like (poached for me), served with broiled mushrooms (liberally coated with cheese), roasted potatoes and an English muffin. I dream about it.

I love central Ohio's local news programs. I like it better than the news in Colorado. When I come home, I can hardly wait to tune into Andrea Cambern. She's so darn cute. I didn't like her hair color and her bangs when we were here in August, but I'm sure that doesn't affect her news delivery. And Angela Pace? She's been on there forever. Where would central Ohio be without Angela? Their voices just calm me. I still relate more to Ohio news than Colorado news. We live 2+ hours from Denver, which is where our news comes from. Who the hell cares what's going on 2 hours away? Which I guess begs the question, why do I care what's going on a two-day drive away? Because I can picture pretty much everywhere they're talking about. Plus, I still have to read all that Ohio news for my Ohio clients and that's my excuse.

So no matter how much I poke fun at Ohio for it's top news story last night--labeled The Big Story (three inches of snow); the weather; or the poor eating habits, I still love it. Love it, love it, love it.

Now excuse me while I go eat some guacamole and chips. Just hope you're not sitting next to me on that little plane back home.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Prayer for a Friend

I know I'm forever asking you to send prayers or good thoughts to people. It's because you're so good at it!

Remember last fall when Finn was having such a tough time at school? Hmmmm, will we ever forget it? Anyway, I talked about two people who were so wonderful to Finn, who really took him under their wings and helped him through those challenging weeks. One person was Mrs. Angel, a kindergarten teacher. The other was Mrs. Librarian. I'm convinced that both of them are angels on Earth. I don't know how Finn would have made it through those first weeks without them. Both of them are such dear, dear ladies.

One of the things that helped Finn bond with Mrs. Librarian, whose name I can now tell you is Ruth, is that she is a cancer survivor. This woman is so fantastic. I felt an instant connection with her the first time I met her more than a year ago at a PTA meeting. She welcomed me to the meeting and then for some reason we got chatting. Someone had told me she was a cancer survivor and so I think we started talking about raw food. Several times I took her some raw experiments to sample. She was a great inspiration.

And then of course, after this fall, I am just so grateful to her for her quiet, gentle nature that really helped Finn find his way at school. She is amazing. Amazing.

On Tuesday night, I found out Ruth's cancer has recurred. She underwent surgery on Tuesday and is still in the hospital, frustrated, as we all would be, by the whole process. I get it. Boy, do I get it.

Would you guys do me a favor? Would every person who comes here and reads this go to Ruth's blog and just let her know there are people out here wishing her well? When you used to leave messages for me on Finn's CaringBridge page, it changed my whole outlook on the day. Heck, it still does. Strength in numbers. I'll never underestimate it. Let's barrage her with good wishes in her comment section. Her daughter, Sarah, is blogging the latest several times a day.

Thanks, everyone.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Growing Old Gracelessly

This afternoon I was reading documents on my computer and I realized I had to make the font bigger to read it. Is adjusting the font size our generation's version of those reading glasses you buy at the drugstore? I distinctly remember giving my mother grief when we went to a restaurant and she would have to move the menu up and back in front of her face to read it. We used to ask her if she wanted us to hold it across the table from her.

I don't know when exactly it happened, but at some point I stopped making fun of my parents for their "growing old" complaints.

It was probably around the time I realized I could no longer sit criss cross applesauce because my knee just didn't go that way anymore. Or maybe it was when I could no longer do a sit up without pulling an abdominal muscle.

I've been taking stock to see where I might be falling apart. There are good points and bad.

My hearing still seems intact. I can hear a bag of chocolate chips being opened at a hundred paces. Unfortunately, my metabolism won't let me actually consume them.

I can't smell the chocolate chips very well after my sinus surgery nearly three years ago. I don't get sinus infections anymore--a plus. I also can't really smell it very well if someone steps in dog poop--a huge plus.

I'm also find myself becoming more vain, but I'm trying to be very subtle about it. The other day we were getting ready to go skiing and I was putting on makeup. Those woman from Texas must be giving me a complex.

Eamonn: Are you putting on makeup before we go skiing?
Me: Um, yes.
Eamonn: Why?
Me: There's, um, sunscreen in it.
Eamonn: I thought you said we should all get more vitamin D by not wearing sunscreen sometimes.
Me: I did, I did, I absolutely did. big pause. . .There's a chance I'm getting a little vain in my old age. Just a little foundation. . .and maybe some powder. . .and some blush. I'm not wearing mascara though. (If you don't wear mascara, technically you're not wearing make up. That's my rule.)

Eamonn and I used to joke that when our kids left for college we'd have to hire someone to move them because we'd be too old to carry their stuff. For some reason I just can't shake that feeling.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Long Road Home

Eleanor "Floreine" Moffitt
May 16, 1915 - January 20, 2009

My Grandma, my Mom's mom, passed away today. I'm sad. Definitely sad, but there is a part of me that puts it into perspective--she lived to see and do so much.

I think I'm missing what was and mourning what used to be. Grandma had a long, amazing life, but Alzheimers took her from us a long time ago. So she hasn't really been Grandma for many years. We have actually prayed for many years that she would just slip quietly away and be free of the mind-stealing disease. Today we got our wish.

Does that sound weird to wish someone would pass on?

Instead of thinking about her these last years, I smile and remember her as she was: sweet; loving; sometimes silly; could fall asleep anywhere (including on the toilet and she actually fell off and broke her foot); teacher; wearer of rain hats to protect her hair (which she had "done" at the beauty parlor); always had mints, Wrigley's gum and tissues in her purse; a neat freak; slow eater; loved to eat out; well traveled; loved to shop; never documented checks she wrote in the checkbook, thus driving my Grandpa crazy; letter writer extraordinaire; liked to clip things from the newspaper and send them to us; member of church choir; woman of faith; loved Lillian Vernon's Eucalyptus Drops; never met a Marie's Candy she didn't like; aged gracefully; great giggle; patient; kind; perfect grammar (she was an English teacher); very organized; crazy neat; called toppings for ice cream "dope"; had a dedicated circle of friends called The Harem--my Grandpa drove them all around; mother; sister; daughter; aunt; grandma; great grandma; an amazing influence on my life.

My friends often didn't understand how much I loved to spend time with my Grandparents--I mean, who would want to hang out with old people? Me. As kids, we visited all of our Grandparents frequently--they were/are a huge part of my life. When I was old enough to drive, I visited even more often, spending the weekend with Grandma and Grandpa and their friends--eating out, going to church, playing Rummikub or Scratch, eating popcorn, grilling chicken, and watching some of their favorite shows like Matlock or Walker, Texas Ranger. Still makes me giggle. Usually they fell asleep during the shows. At night, they snored so loud I could hear them upstairs where I slept in my Mom's old room. They got up between 5am and 6am every morning because they had "things to do."

Grandma was a great correspondant. Tonight I dug out some of the cards she sent me while I was in graduate school. I'm so glad I kept them. Her newsy letters full of updates on their health, what they were doing, who they were doing it with, where they were going, and yes, even what they were eating still make me smile.

A little selection. . .

May 27, 1992
Dear Natalie,
Never worry your pretty head about being tardy (note: I bet you anything I sent her birthday card late!). We just enjoy your letters, so full of humor and exciting things that you and Andrea are doing.

Make your plans to visit us whenever you can. You will fit into our schedule perfectly. Whatever we do, you can join us. Don't even consider frozen meals. We always have some of those in the freezer! Ha! But of course, we want to drop in at Millner's, The Plaza Inn, and wherever your grandpa sees fit to take us.

We are almost ready to leave for Bellefontaine to see Howard Traul. He is working on our will and other special papers. We'll see Dortie and so some errands before returning to West Mansfield.

On Sunday we went to Kenton to see Gerri. She is well enough to be in a room now instead of ICU. However, she is not able to come home yet. In fact, she may need nursing home care for a few weeks. A good friend and a very plucky lady!

I must not keep gramps waiting! Our best to you and Andrea.

Your Grandparents

September 29, 1992
Dear Natalie,
Days speed by for you, too; we are certain. Lately we have been visiting Dr. Gleason. First I had a muscle problem in the left hip which he cured. Second, your grandpa showed evidence of high sugar and this proved to be a fact. Now, we are doing serious dieting, having met once with the dietician at Mary Rutan. Hopefully the sugar will be controlled, and we'll lose weight. Yesterday, he developed a severe sore throat so back to the dotor and now a round of antbiotics. We don't give up; we just rely on the dr.

There are some activities of importance this week, so we want a quick cure! At the moment your gramps is waiting for me to finish so he can go for the mail.

We hope that school is going well and that you like your new apartment.

Grandpa and Grandma

April 14, 1993
Dear Natalie,
For some reason, we did not give you this check when we saw you briefly upon our return home (note: they were always sending little checks to us. Do you think she suspected I spent most of it on beer?). Perhaps there is something which you need for your apartment. Enjoy it no matter how you spend it.

We are looking forward to seeing you on Sunday. This is proving to be the same type of week as usual--busy. I am just happy that we are able "to keep on keeping on." Also, we are anxious to hear about your new experiences.

Grandpa and Grandma

May 22, 1993
Dear Natalie,
Congratulations! Your 3.8 record is great, but we know your potential (note: this must have been big news in West Mansfield because with this letter I also found a card from their neighbor congratulating me on my grades).

This week has been the usual busy one. I really worked on the final preparation for Bible Study at Circle. Then Marge Reames was ill, so I did a halfway job of cleaning inside while your grandpa worked on the lawn and swept the walk. Last night the "gang" was here for cards after we ate at The Red Lantern. As always, we had fun.

Today we are taking several sacks of newspapers to the recycling center at Rushsylvania. Then we plan to deliver Mona Dally's birthday gift and visit for awhile. Perhaps we'll get to Heartland, too.

We look forward to seeing you on May 29.

Grandpa and Grandma

Me with Grandma and Grandpa--December '93 (I think it's '93. My Dad always said I should write on every single picture or I'd regret it. Dang it. Parents are always right.)

Aha! This date I know: December 21, 1996--our wedding.

Grandma and Grandpa holding Declan--June 2000 (the date was imprinted on the picture--I lucked out)

Grandma with Finn--Spring 2003

I cannot wait to get home to Ohio and be with my sisters and my Mom so we can share stories and giggle uncontrollably at our memories. Like the time Grandma ate dogfood. Or how she called Grandpa "Barney" (his name was Byron). Or how we would drive through the countryside, she and Mary Huffman in the backseat giggling like teenagers and recounting who lived in what farmhouse and little tidbits of information (never gossip!) about the residents. Or the time Grandpa drove me to a particular road in the country because "something special happened there." Me: "Was that the first time you and Grandma made out?" Grandpa: Gave me a withering stare (I think he was trying not to laugh). Grandma: Giggling uncontrollably in the backseat. Turns out they were actually driving in their car and were caught in a tornado on that road.

I'm so lucky. I got to experience a relationship with my grandparents, all of them, into adulthood. Three of them saw me get married and met my first child. To say I had a close relationship with all of my grandparents is an understatement--they were an instrumental part of my life, and I'm so grateful.

There are things I'm glad she wasn't aware of when they happened--9/11, when grandpa died, Finn's cancer. She was wise, but innocent and she would wonder about people suffering. I'm glad she didn't have to wonder about some of these things.

Grandma, I can still hear your your laugh; I can still see your smile; I can feel your hands rubbing my back; I see you standing in the kitchen, looking out at the backyard as you washed the dishes before you put them in the dishwasher. A lifetime of memories--all of them wonderful. Although you left a long time ago, losing you again is still so hard.

Monday, January 19, 2009


From Wikipedia: An oxymoron (plural oxymorons or, more rarely, oxymora) is a figure of speech that combines two normally contradictory terms. Oxymoron is a loanword from Greek oxy ("sharp" or "pointed") and moros ("dull"). Thus the word oxymoron is itself an oxymoron.

I remember the first time I heard about oxymorons. I thought they were so funny:

Military intelligence
Deafening silence
Icy hot
Same difference
Controlled Chaos
Nondairy creamer
Organized mess
Ill health
Jumbo Shrimp

This school year, I became aware of what I have decided is a new oxymoron: Sunshine Math.

Sunshine Math is an extra credit math curriculum that the kids bring home once a week. They don't actually get credit in their class for completing the weekly work. Instead, if they correctly complete a certain number of the Sunshine Math problems, they get rewards like a pizza party or some other chemical-ly, junk-y food that will send them into spasmodic fits so that we can't actually get them to concentrate and complete the next round of Sunshine Math. But I digress.

I may be alone in this, but I find nothing sunshine-y about math. In fact, it makes me feel distinctly cloudy or overcast when I open the kids' Monday folders and find the offending lesson for the week.

I probably get grumpy when the Sunshine Math turns up because it is so challenging that I can't even do it. Actually, I can complete the kindergarten level, but the third grade? Not even close.

Sad, I know.
Sunshine Math quickly became Eamonn's personal realm because it was clear I was in way over my head and apparently I was making comments like, "I would rather put a sharp stick in my eye," rather than help the boys with their Sunshine Math.

Now I longer break into a cold sweat, my mental health has returned, and I'm glad I don't have to do my least favorite thing anymore.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I Want My MP3

Recall that Finn was given an iPod Shuffle from Make-A-Wish the night before we left on our trip to NYC. He also received an iTunes giftcard (which I couldn't get to work--angst). Then an anonymous benefactor decided Declan needed his own iPod Shuffle and it arrived last week (thank you, anonymous benefactor).

But even up until Declan received his own iPod, the boys have been after me for weeks to download songs and load Finn's iPod. Well, Christmas came and went and I still hadn't done it. I promised today would be the day.

First, the giftcard wouldn't work, which caused much wailing and gnashing of teeth, but we loaded some of our own CDs onto the computer and soon the iPods were sync'ed and the boys were jamming. I have spent most of the day listening to them singing different songs at the same time. Comical, and yet slightly grating all at the same time.

When they weren't singing, they were telling each other: "Dude, you've got to hear this song (even though with the exception of some Thomas the Tank Engine songs on Finn's iPod, their playlists are the same).

They were so enamored of the iPods, I couldn't get them off their heads.


Oh yes, my children are watching TV and listening to their iPods at the same time. Digital overload anyone?

They wanted to sleep in the iPods, but I explained that they could strangle themselves with the headphones in their sleep. Because, you know, I'm a ray of sunshine like that. I think I just heard the theme music for Debbie Downer playing in my head.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Moving On

Writing a new post after the one I wrote the other day is tough. It's like a news anchor who has to deliver some tragic news in one breath and then turn around and talk about the county fair. How do you do that eloquently and without being disrespectful?

I'm sure most of you know by now that Zach passed away yesterday afternoon. I've been in a terrible funk.

So I think I'll just take a little pause and not post anything today. I'll be back Sunday night.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I can barely type this without being sick. Literally.

Some really bad language is ahead, so if this troubles you, please avert your gaze now or stop reading before the last few paragraphs.

Over the years we've come to "know" many CaringBridge families--some we've been fortunate enough to meet in person, some just through their CaringBridge pages.

From almost the first week Finn was sick, I found Zach's page through another CaringBridge page. When I first "met" the Finestone family, Zach was four years into his battle with neuroblastoma. All pediatric cancer is hideous in my book, but neuroblastoma is particularly awful.

Yet here was Zach, defying the odds. Living long past doctors thought he would, torturing his parents with his crazy teen antics, and ratting out his Dad, Scott, when he once broke wind in public (possibly my favorite Zach story). I got used to hearing about Zach's day-to-day life as an American teenager. I didn't forget that he had cancer, but he was focused on living and I was focused on reading about it.

And then things started to change this fall. Cancer came slamming back with a vengence.

Just days before we left for Finn's Make-A-Wish trip, the Finestone's learned there were no more treatment options for Zach. In all the excitement of making plans and looking forward to the NYC trip, I felt a terrible pall of sadness and anxiety. How could we be so happy and yet another cancer family is suffering so badly?

Reading Scott's updates is heartbreaking. I feel physically sick for this brave family that has fought so hard for so long--nine years. Nine. Fucking. Years. People. Would you have the stamina to go that long? Well, of course, we all would if that's what we needed to do, but just the thought of it is paralyzing to me. And then to have it end this way. Well. I don't know what to do with these feelings.

I want to say it's unfair, but I don't know what fair is anymore.

Please say a prayer for the Finestones.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Brain Crack

One of my dirty little secrets is that I read People magazine. I know, I know. Appalling. My brother-in-law says it's like crack for your brain. (Note: But I think when I take the back issues to my sister, he reads them). And I have to confess, I love that crack and I can't stop reading it. I'm addicted.

People is supposed to arrive on Fridays. But it rarely does out here because we apparently still use the Pony Express several days a week. Often it doesn't arrive until Saturday. In a worst case scenario, it doesn't arrive until Monday. That makes me very, very cranky. But when it does arrive on a Friday, I feel giddy with excitement. I'm shallow that way. I need my People fix.

In fact I get a little obsessive about it. Eamonn loves to recount this story: Years ago People arrived and I was saving it to read in bed. At bedtime, I set it carefully on the bed while I went to brush my teeth and wash my face. When I returned, Eamonn was reading People and would not surrender it. I started crying. I'm guessing I had severe PMS at the time. At least I hope that's what it was.

Where would I be without People? I wouldn't know anything about pop culture anymore, and we all know how important that is. I wouldn't know what the cast of Gossip Girl is up to. I've never watched the show, but no matter. I wouldn't know why Guy and Madonna got divorced or that Brad and Angelina are planning to adopt again, or any of the innermost secrets that Hollywood's denizens have revealed about them from "a source close to the star."

I rationalize this guilty pleasure by telling myself that I have to read so much accounting and auditing information for clients that I DESERVE to know who admits to having plastic surgery and who is just genetically better off than the rest of us. And I ponder the accuracy of what I read. I ask my friend who's an actor in LA if this stuff is true. She laughs and says, "I'm reading the same tabs you are! But it does seem like everything always ends up being true in the end."

Must run. I need to go and read the truth about Tom Cruise's family. I can't go to sleep until I know.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Marshmellow Detox Diet

The last few days have been painful as I come down from the high from a steady diet of hot chocolate, marshmellows, Christmas cookies and candy that have made up the four basic food groups I've been adhering to since the end of November.

It hasn't been pretty.

Today Finn had a friend over after school and they wanted to have hot chocolate and marshmellows. I could feel the sticky, sugary goodness of those marshmellows when I reached into the bag to pass them out. I wanted to stuff a whole wad of them into my mouth when no one was looking, but I had to settle for just licking my fingers afterward. And the hot chocolate? I was lurking around their mugs as they were finishing their snack, hoping someone left some dregs in the bottom that I could slurp. Because homemade hot chocolate? Nestle Quik doesn't hold a candle to it, I'm telling you. How could it with 1/4 cup sugar to every two cups of milk? I can't even begin to count high enough to figure out how much sugar we have collectively consumed this holiday season. But then again math has never been my strong suit and I tend to underestimate when it comes to how much food I consume. Perhaps that has contributed to my snug ski pants recently?

I know I blogged before about how I follow an online exercise program. You get a free coach assigned to you and you report in on your food, log your exercise, and get feedback (curiously, no one ever tells me I should probably eat more). Let's just say I didn't do much reporting in over the holidays. I mean, how was my coach going to respond to posts like:

Breakfast: Two eggs, whole wheat toast, 1/2 grapefruit, mug of hot chocolate the size of a small swimming pool with whipped cream and marshmellows.
Snack: 2 dozen Christmas cookies, glass of milk.
Lunch: Lean Cuisine, carrot sticks, half a tin of toffee.
Snack: apple slathered in peanut butter, multiple pieces of Marie's candy
Dinner: Skipped it so I could eat an entire batch of popcorn followed by another 2 dozen Christmas cookies dunked in raw milk.

(And you may laugh, but this is actually so close to the truth, it's sad)

Exercise--walking back and forth to the refrigerator, wrestling with lids of cookie tins, trying to hold the Marie's candy out of the childrens' reach, putting stamps on Christmas cards, locking the door behind the kids when they went out to play in the snow so they couldn't rush back in and find me with my head submerged in the cake taker full of Christmas cookies.

So the fact that I am now on cold turkey withdrawl from refined white sugar is made painfully obvious by my shrewish attitude towards the world. I'm like Elaine in that Seinfeld episode when she tries to not eat the office birthday cake. I've got the DTs and need some serious intervention. If only I'd saved a little piece of cookie to help in my detox process. Yes, date pinwheels are like methadone for me. I need them. I NEED THEM! GET ME A COOKIE! PLEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAASE. If you loved me, you'd give me a cookie.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Toffee

So I made The Toffee for my dentist's office staff (these are the really nice people who gave me a certificate for a massage) and went to take it to them on Friday. They were closed. I have endured an entire weekend of The Toffee sitting here in the house. It's a terrible strain. I could easily eat the whole thing myself. Right this second. I'll deliver it tomorrow, but I think I need to taste it to make sure it's still good. In fact, the picture above is of me about to taste The Toffee. This was an exceptional batch.

You, too, can make The Toffee. It's actually a crazy easy recipe, but for some bizarre reason, it just fails sometimes. There was one year when every batch I made came out right. That has only ever happened once. Usually one batch a year goes rogue on me. Sometimes more than one batch (Cynth, I'm with ya on that one).

The Toffee
1 stick butter
1 1/2 Tbl. water (weird quantity, I know)
1/2 cup sugar

Slowly dissolve the ingredients and then cook it until it reaches 292 degrees (you'll need a candy thermometer). It will seem like it's taking forever and then suddenly the temp will shoot up. So be ready. I mostly leave The Toffee alone while it's going to its temperature, but sometimes I go over and give it a little stir with the candy thermometer just to be nutty.

Once you've hit 292 degrees, pour into a round cake pan (smaller is better--maybe 8 inches). I have to tip mine to get it to the edges. Maybe I'll get smaller pans for next year.

Take 3 Hershey's chocolate bars, break them apart and place them on top of the hot base. I like to put the logo side down, but I feel that this isn't integral to the success of The Toffee. As the chocolate melts, carefully spread it across the base. Sprinkle with pecans.

Give yourself plenty of time for the chocolate to set--overnight is preferable! Do NOT put it in the fridge to try and speed up the setting process. I tried doing it this year and it caused the chocolate to separate from the base, which happens sometimes anyway, but I think I caused it this time.

Break into bite-sized pieces and store in a tin. Or eat it all right away and don't worry about storing it.

Here are some thoughts on my years of watching my Mom make this and then making it on my own. . .
1. The weather seems to impact The Toffee. I had this problem more often in Ohio where it was more humid, even in the winter. Don't make it on a rainy day. Or really even a snowy day. Try to make it on a dry day. I know what sounds whacky, but I swear it's true.

2. The Toffee will look different if made over a gas burner vs. an electric burner. I freaked out the first time I made The Toffee on my gas stove. My Mom's toffee always came out a nice light color on her electric stove. My base is dark made on a gas burner.

3. Sometimes bad things just happen to The Toffee. It's not you, it's The Toffee. Sometimes the base doesn't set up right. Sometimes the base separates while it's cooking and just fails. Sometimes it's so sticky it sticks to your teeth when you're eating it. It still tastes good, but you know something isn't quite right. Sometimes the chocolate separates from the base.

Such drama from a seemingly inocuous recipe.

But when all is said and done and you get a perfect batch, you'll know you've conquered The Toffee. It's a good feeling.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

As Seen on TV

Other than sweeps week, there is no other time of the year that I get totally jazzed about TV except at Christmas. (Yes, I'm still blogging about Christmas). Well, except for when a new season of Masterpiece Theater starts, but I don't talk about that much because it just cements my status as a huge nerd who loves period drama.

I love holiday TV viewing--kids' specials, classic holiday movies, holiday episodes of television series, new holiday classics--it doesn't matter. I love it all. ABC Family's 25 Days of Christmas? I should probably be sedated.

Years ago I started collecting Christmas shows on VHS. But over time, when you watch those VHS tapes a million times, they start to not work so well. For several years running now, How the Grinch Stole Christmas has had serious issues. Never mind that most of these shows run on network television at some point during the holiday season, the timing doesn't always work for me. In Ohio, the kids' shows always started at 8pm, which is past the boys' bedtime. And if you think I'm letting them stay up late just because Charlie Brown is on, you've got another thing coming. Out here in Mountain Standard Time the shows start at 7pm, which is slightly more convenient, but I just like the flexibility of the DVD option--which we have now moved to.

So now we're about 50% converted to DVD. And can I just put a plug in here for the DVD versions? They usually come with bonus episodes (because you know, it's so important to have even more TV time) AND documentaries about the making of many of these shows. How can you live without that?

The Christmas Viewing Season has to be very carefully planned. I can't just randomly sit down and watch the shows willy nilly. Some shows can only be watched during the day. Some only at night or on weekends, or at night AND on weekends. It's very specific and very complicated. I'm contemplating mapping it all out on Excel for next year so I don't get caught missing something because I don't have the right combination of day/night/weekend or during a certain activity time slots left before Christmas actually gets here. Because as far as I'm concerned, when the clocks strikes midnight on December 26th, all bets are off and if I haven't viewed something by then, it won't happen this season. It's just depressing to watch Christmas shows after Christmas is officially over.

After the Cookie Snob post yesterday, you're getting a whole new picture of my whackiness, yes?

So I'm going to run through my Christmas show list and brief you on what I watch when.

Miracle on 34th Street--This can only be watched in the last week or so prior to or on Thanksgiving Eve for obvious reasons. And it can only be watched in black and white. That colorized version makes me nervous. Everyone is wearing green. I love Maureen O'Hara (note: I pronounce it "O'HAIRA" which makes Eamonn laugh. He says it's "O'HAHRA." But then again this is a man who says baNAHna and toMAHto and calls men named Lance, LAHnce.). But back to Maureen. Have you ever seen The Quiet Man? That's a spring movie. Only to be watched in the spring around St. Patrick's Day. Sometime I'll do a post about how I arrange movies throughout the whole year, not just the holidays. I can tell you're very anxious for that post already.

It's a Wonderful Life--Because my timing was off, I didn't get to see it this year. A whole year without It's a Wonderful Life. Shameful. This movie is a daytime/weekend movie and must be watched while baking Christmas cookies. Only in black and white. Remember all the hullaballoo when it was first colorized and colorization was all the rage? Thankfully colorzation went out of vogue.

Holiday Inn--Another black and whiter. Also a daytime movie. Also while baking Christmas cookies. Preferably on a Saturday. I did see part of this one this year, but because I was baking Christmas cookies all alone (breaks your heart, doesn't it?) my attention was diverted by how much I had to do and I couldn't really focus on viewing and laugh at the part where the peaches explode and wish I lived in that house.

White Christmas--This is it. The mother of all Christmas movies. White Christmas gets more leeway than any other movie or holiday special out there. Day or night. Weekday or weekend. Cookies or no cookies. I'll watch it whenever with out prejudice. And we don't have to worry about colorization because it was the first movie filmed in VistaVision. I usually watch it at least two, if not three, times per season, which is easy to do because again, I can watch it anytime.

Little House on the Prairie: Christmas on Plum Creek & The Christmas They Never Forgot--Seriously. Saturdays only. Daytime. During cookie baking. This year I did get to watch them, but only because I created a diversion for the boys (I think I let them play endless computer games). If I didn't create a diversion, I'd never get to watch anything Little House related. They hate it. I think Eamonn brainwashed them. Erin also like to watch that episode where Miss Beadle sends the children home early on the day before Christmas and huge blizzard comes to Walnut Grove and kills a bunch of people. What kind of person gets holiday cheer from that?

A Christmas Story--When Erin bought us this movie in the mid-90s, I was resistant to adding it into our Christmas repertoire. Once I saw it, I was hooked though. Requirements: Night (weeknight or weekend, I'm flexible here), fire in fireplace, blankets, kids, popcorn, tree must already be decorated.

Love Actually--One of our new Christmas favorites. At night. Fire. Popcorn. Blanket. Husband. Fortunately, this is one Eamonn likes. Favorite scene: when Colin Firth is writing out on the dock and the papers go into the water. That whole narration when he's speaking in English and she's saying the same thing, but in Portuguese is so funny.

Elf--Another new favorite I thought I wouldn't like. When Buddy tells the fake Santa he smells like beef and cheese, I can hardly contain myself. Or the angry elf part. Love it. Week or weekend night. Kids. Blankets. Popcorn. Fire.

Andy Williams Biography & Andy Williams Christmas Show retrospective. Yes, Virginia, I do own these. The biography episode can be watched any time after Thanksgiving. The Christmas Show DVD must be watched very, very close to Christmas, or even Christmas night and it's better if my Dad is here.

Bells of St. Mary's--This is another one with some leeway because the movie spans a greater length of time. But I do like to watch it between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Usually while working out. Go figure. However, I fequently can't fit it in, so spring is another acceptable time for watching it.

Christmas Vacation--Never got to this one in this year. I like watching this when my Dad is hear because it cracks him up. Definitely a weekend night one.

Kids Shows/Movies--should all be watched at night on a weekend UNLESS school is already out for Christmas break and then they can watch on a weeknight. Other exceptions as noted. Additional requirements: In front of the fire, with kids, under blankets, with popcorn.
Charlie Brown Christmas
Little Drummer Boy
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
'Twas the Night Before Christmas
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Frosty the Snowman
Santa Claus is Comin' to Town
The Year Without a Santa Claus

Home Alone 1 & 2--1 could be watched during the day. 2, only at night.
The Santa Clause, Santa Clause 2, Santa Clause 3
Mickey's Christmas Carol--weekday during break
A Disney Christmas--all sorts of old fashioned Disney Christmas episodes. Weekday during break.
Jingle All the Way--may be watching during the day
Caillou's Holiday Movie--preferably during the day
Bob's White Christmas--yes, even Bob the Builder has a holiday special. I actually like it. Week or weekend night.
Arthur's Christmas--day option permitted
Thomas' Snowy Surprise--weekday preferred

I don't even think I can count high enough to calculate how much TV we must watch between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And this doesn't even include the required viewing of 24 Hours of A Christmas Story on TBS December 24th and 25th. It doesn't matter that we own the DVD.

Toffee Picture
In one final hurrah to Christmas, made a batch of toffee tonight to give away as a gift. It felt a little weird to be making it after Christmas, and frankly, it was a dangerous thing to do because I want to eat the whole thing. This is what it looks like:

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Cookie Snob

I hate Christmas cookie exchanges. I mean really hate them. I know hating isn't PC these days. But nonetheless, I hate the cookie exchange and everything about it. Why? Because I have very specific cookies that I make for Christmas and I don't want anyone else's cookies in there mucking up my plan. How's that for Christmas cookie snobbery?

Why is it such a big deal to me? Because growing up, we baked the same cookies each year with my Mom and now Christmas just wouldn't be the same without them. And one of the things that says "Christmas is here" to me is opening up my Mom's Tupperware cake taker and smelling the combination of cookies stored in there. In fact, when I became a grown up (and when that actually happened is still up for debate), I just had to go out and buy my OWN Tupperware cake taker so I could store cookies and enjoy that smell of my youth.

This is the cake taker:

We actually use the cake taker upside down. You would never put a cake in it like this. In fact, I don't think I've ever used it to carry a cake. But when you get it loaded with Christmas cookies and then lift the lid, that is one of the sweet smells of Christmas to me.

An overview of my cookie obsession (Please note that all of my raw, organic tendencies do not apply during Christmas cookie baking and eating. Because what would be the point?):

Let's start with the brown powder sugar-covered ball near the glass of milk. This is a bourbon ball. It's made with crushed 'Nilla Wafers, cocoa powder, corn syrup, powdered sugar, nuts, and copious amounts of bourbon. I usually eat about a half dozen of these at a time and probably am over the legal limit if I was to be breathalyzed after consumption. Which fortunately has never happened. They're best if they ferment for a few days so I wrap them in foil and put them in a tin while they get stronger.

Next cookie--the swirly looking ones. Those are date pinwheels. It was my great grandmother's recipe. You make the dough and roll it out and then spread the date/nut filling on it. You roll them up, wrap the rolls in wax paper, chill them, and then slice and bake later. This was my least favorite cookie growing up but my favorite now, probably because of my unnatural love of dates. Don't get between me and my medjools. The first time I ever made these on my own, it was December 1995. I remember it vividly because it was the first Christmas in our first house and I was so excited to bake. I mixed and spread the dough, cooked the filling and dumped it right on the rolled dough. . .and ended up with a giant pile of mush. I called my Grandma Moffitt to find out what I had done wrong. She was walking me through the steps and then made a comment about "and of course after you cooled the filling. . ." Oops. So there was nothing pinwheel-y about the date pinwheels that year. They were a drop cookie.

The pink and green cookies are spritz. Other people make these a lot, too. They're basically a butter cookie and made with a cookie press. I like these two shapes the best. Some of the shapes don't hold up well when baking. These cookies burn quickly. I burn at least one tray each year. The boys love these crispy little ones.

The white ball. We call them Russian teacakes, but I've also heard them called Mexican wedding cakes or even choke balls. I have to recount the choke ball story. During the Christmas season one year, the Columbus Dispatch had readers write in with their favorite Christmas cookie story. One woman wrote about how when she was a newlywed, she made these cookies for her new husband. When he tasted them for the first time, he accidentally inhaled as he took a bite of the cookie. For those of you who have never inhaled powdered sugar, it's not a pleasant experience. So the poor newlywed man wheezed and choked and gasped for air because of the wife's cookie. From then on, in their family, this harmless little cookie was known as the choke ball. Declan just choked on one yesterday. But we still refer to them as Russian teacakes.

The last cookie is probably technically a thumbprint cookie, but we call them Norwegian holiday cookies. I wonder if they actually eat those in Norway? I'll have to Google that or look in our Christmas Around the World book. It's a brown sugar dough flavored with almond extract. It's my favorite dough to eat raw. Growing up my Mom used green and red candied cherries in the middle. I never liked those candied cherries and when I would take a cookie out of the cake taker, I'd leave the cherry behind. You could always tell exactly how many I'd eaten. So as a grown up, I followed Tara's lead and eschewed the nasty cherries for jam instead.

I also make two kinds of candy: cashew brittle and toffee. I don't have any pictures of these because they always go first. Declan took a liking to the brittle this year and we had some ugly moments battling for the last few pieces. I think I'll make a batch just for me and eat it while they're at school tomorrow.

We also made cutouts, but the boys ate all those lickety split. As a time saver this year I tried a Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix I saw at Costco. Big mistake. They were horrible. We had to do them again with Ann's Famous Cutout Cookie Recipe.

While I was writing this post I wandered over to take a picture of the cake taker. There were eight date pinwheels languishing in the taker. There aren't eight anymore.

PS: Last night I talked about the Smoking Santa. Here he is. I was too lazy to get up and take his picture last night. Or perhaps I was too bogged down by cookies.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Few of My Favorite Christmas Things

Because I've decided that the Christmas season kind of flew past me this year, I'm going to do some holiday-themed blogs that I had wanted to write, some of which I even started, before Christmas, and for some reason, never finished.

When I was getting out my decorations, all the way back on the weekend after Thanksgiving, I planned to blog about some of them--the tacky and the great--and why I love them so. Each one of the decorations brings back a great memory and I love being reminded of them each year.

These little ladies are from Germany. My Mom has an entire band of angels playing different instruments. Some she bought when she and my Dad lived in Germany. Others were sent to her over the years from a family friend, Frau Weickert. Then Frau Weickert sent a few angels to me and my sisters. I love them and I think of her and also of my Mom's "band," which I used to love to stare at as a kid. I think I need to go to Germany to complete my set, don't you?

A teaching friend of my Mom's is very crafty and my Mom used to give us some of the stuff for Christmas each year. I love this guy. So simple. A piece of painted wood, a nail and a little wreath. Not that I could make it or anything, but I admire people who can. The date on it is 1988.

Another crafty item I love by Mom's friend. No date on it, but it's late 80s, early 90s, because I had it in my apartment in grad school. It was one of my first Christmas decorations (along with Santa above).

Now here's where some family holiday strife occurs. I love this angel--also made by Mom's friend. Yes, she's a mop. But isn't that so creative? She's a decoration, and in a pinch, if mulled wine gets spilled at a Christmas party, I can yank her down and clean up. Alas, Eamonn is not so enamoured of Mop Angel. In fact, he can't stand her. And yet every year, she appears. Angels are like that.

Mary's tree. Eamonn's Aunty Mary, who died in 2006, made this for us. Mary was famous for her projects. When you heard through the grapevine you were going to be the recipient of one of Mary's ceramics or sewing projects, you were sometimes a little apprehensive. The vest. That's all I'm going to say. But I love this tree. It reminds me of one we had growing up. I think of Mary every year when I pull it out. For the last few years, I thought it was broken because the lighbulb didn't light. I was sad, but I kept getting it out anyway. This year, Declan pointed out to me that I was plugging it into a surge strip that wasn't turned on. Christmas miracle! It works now.

This snowman was a new acquisition last year. I bought him at Pier One with a gift card Erin gave me as a housewarming gift (two years ago--I'm a little slow). He was filled with the BEST, THE BEST white hot chocolate mix. I was practically eating it straight from the snowman as dry powder. So this year I set him out, empty, and wished he was full again.

For several years I collected snowmen and Santas. My family showered me with snowmen and Santas of every imaginable type. Here they are. Some are kind of bizarre. But I love them.

The Trones gave this to us as a wedding shower gift on December 15, 1996. I wrote it on the box so I wouldn't forget when I got it. Trones, I think of you every year when I decorate!

Melikelikimaka! Bought this on our honeymoon in Hawaii. And when Bing Crosby sings that song, it just makes me smile.

I think this is an antique. It was from our box of Christmas decorations at my Mom's house. So it must be really, really old. Just kidding Mom. Truly, though, I think it's old. It feels really fragile. As a result, I'm too paranoid to even hang it on the tree because I don't want to ever have to tell my sisters, "Yeah, remember that cool old ornament? I smashed it." So it sits on shelf next to the tree. And I hyperventilate when one of the boys goes near it.

Love this. Bought it in Germany when I lived in Luxembourg during the summer of '93. I bought so much stuff--and may I remind you Marci, so did you--that I could barely get it home. I'm glad I lugged this along. I also have a really cool little incense burner that's a Santa. Smoke comes out his mouth. Eeek! A smoking Santa? I guess in the 'Twas the Night Before Christmas he does have the stump of a pipe held tight in his teeth and the smoke encircled his head like a wreath. Anyway, I've never burned it because I'm afraid I'll set the house on fire. Or that someone will think I'm smoking pot. Or the Christmas tree.

Ahhhh, my bargain one year. I had admired this in Pottery Barn years ago, but it was crazy expensive. After Christmas it went way on sale and I tracked it down at an outlet store. Love this. Sometimes I leave it out until April just to admire it.

This candle smells so good that I hardly burn it because I don't ever want it to go away. I bought it at my cousins' Aunt Linda's shop one year. She has this cool antique store in southeastern Ohio? Karen, help me out here. Anyway, she had a display with this candle set up just like this and I saw it and just bought the whole thing. I'm like that--no creativity of my own. I have to copy someone else.

On the top shelf here you see my shrine to Andy Williams. It has an Andy LP, the autographed letter Andy signed for me, and a picture of my Dad and Andy. One day I hope to add a picture of Andy with me. But I'd better hurry. He's getting old.

This Santa bicycle was on the cake table at our wedding. Some co-workers found it and bought it in honor of Eamonn's cycling career (and the fact that we got married four days before Christmas).

Good grief. I could go on. But I'll stop now.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Sound of Silence

I'm almost certain that I haven't actually been alone in the house for more than two weeks now. The boys went back to school today and the silence if deafening. But in a good way. If crickets could actually survive in this climate, I bet I could have heard them chirping.

I'm 100% certain that I was the only one remotely excited about school resuming. I had them in bed last night at 6:58pm in anticipation. Two weeks of not sticking to a time that was anywhere remotely near their normal bedtimes has come back to haunt us. Despite the early bedtime last night night, Declan woke up with huge circles under his eyes. . .the same ones that were there when he went to bed last night. If I got 12 hours of sleep would I have circles under my eyes? Actually, I think my circles are permanent, so it really doesn't matter anymore.

Take a look at a few Christmas pictures if you've got the time.

So while it was time to get back into a routine, I wasn't ready for the holiday season to be over. It went so fast, probably because we were gone for a week for the Make-A-Wish trip! I just would have liked a few more evenings of relaxing before Christmas got here--a night to sit in front of the tree and admire it, smell it, and maybe sit there with a book. I think the last time I did that was 1986. How time flies. It seems like yesterday.

Friday, January 2, 2009

363 Days of Flossing

It is with unhappiness that I inform you that I fell short on my 2008 New Year's resolution which was to floss my teeth every day. I missed two days. And I know exactly which two days they were, too: June 9 and 10, 2008. We were in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and it was the last two nights of our trip to Yellowstone.

The weather looked like this. . .

And this. . .

Yes, remember with me fondly. It was June. It was our summer vacation. It snowed every day.

Anyway, the last two nights of our trip we were staying at a KOA outside Jackson Hole. Nice little cabins, but no running water. So at bedtime, after consuming my weight in s'mores, I slogged off to the bathroom with all of my toiletries. . .except for my dental floss. And then when I got back to the cabin I couldn't be bothered to take the floss and go back to the bathroom and take care of business. And the thought of flossing and then not washing my hands or rinsing my mouth was just too much for my snow-clogged brain to handle.

That explains the first night of failure to floss. The second night? Probably just utter defeat at the weather and freezing cold temperatures. Maybe I hoped it was too cold for plaque to form on my teeth. But my dentist will make that call when I go for a checkup next week.

Wouldn't it be ironic if, in this year of flossing faithfully, I had a cavity? I can't bear the thought. I must do better next year. Or maybe if I do have a cavity after all this work, I should just quit altogether in outright rebellion. That would be so smart.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

I'm Giddy with Excitement!

Finn learned to ski today!

I thought it would never happen (again with the positive thinking, I know). Last year, he really wanted nothing to do with skiing. Looking back, it was probably a combination of still not a lot of stamina--he'd only finished chemo about four months before we tried him in a ski lesson--and also what we now know is low muscle tone from his sensory processing issues.

But this year seems to be different. Finn's occupational therapy has really helped strengthen his core muscles (I should be so lucky) and we can really see the changes. He didn't even seem to be able to stand on the skis last year. Yesterday when Eamonn mentioned about skiing, Finn expressed interest and we jumped at the chance.

We went to the Ritz Carlton at Bachelor Gulch. Obviously, the hotel is owned by the Ritz, but the ski area is part of the Beaver Creek resort. Anyway, they have a magic carpet (you'll see what that is if you watch the video below) that is open to the public vs. just being for the ski school. So we went there today and while I was out skiing with Declan (very poor skiing by me, I might add. I think I pulled a muscle in my left foot and thought I was going to have to be stretchered off the hill, but Declan, in a nice role reversal, talked me down.) Eamonn taught Finn how to ski!

Check the little bugger out:

I think he did the magic carpet about 30 times.

Now it's 8:10pm. Why isn't he passed out with fatigue?

As an aside, while I was originally taken with watching Finn, I soon became obsessed with how I sounded on the video clip. In a word: ick. Anyone who has ever heard me talk in person--is that what I really sound like??? And egad. I've got to stop shrieking like that.

And as another aide, WOW, the Ritz? That's my kind of place. Not that we could ever afford to actually stay there or anything. Beaver Creek is known for its Cookie Ladies--at 3pm each day, they come out with warm chocolate chip cookies for the skiiers. Sorry Beaver Creek, the Ritz comes out with hot cookies AND hot chocolate! Oh yes, I am easily swayed by hot chocolate. Clearly, my employee loyalty to Vail Resorts is for sale for the price of a cup of hot cocoa.