So, you know how we live in a mostly Orthodox Jewish neighborhood?  Well, there is at least one Reform family a couple of streets over.  This is a giant, inflatible Hanukka Bear.  They also have a giant menorah and a light up Star of David.

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Not nearly enough snow…

Again, I love snow.  I am in full glory when we get 12+ inches.  Over the weekend we got big snow on Saturday and then a couple more inches on Sunday.  Good times.

Here is Rummy, enjoy the fresh snow Saturday morning:

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I thought that S should wait to dig us out until after the snow stopped, but she had other ideas.  She actually enjoys shoveling snow.

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The owner (I think) of the little gas station around the corner from us is a very industrious man.  He has a Jeep and this winter he put a plow on it so he could run a side business plowing driveways.  I want to hire him on the days that we get ton of snow, but S wants to do it all by herself.  Seriously?  This picture only shows half of our driveway:

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All day Sunday S complained about how much her arm and back muscles hurt.  I had very little sympathy.

Rested and ready, part four…

Also during my blogging absence, we hosted our first Thanksgiving in our new house.  Last year, even though we had just moved into the house we spent the holiday with my family in Wheeling.  But this year my mother came to visit for the holiday as did my brother, MK, and his girlfriend, Ginni

It was really nice to get to do all of the cooking again.  And I am so happy that we re-did the counters and the sink before I attempted to cook a big meal here.  The old kitchen would have grossed me out for food prep.  It was nice to find out that our kitchen is big enough to cook a holiday meal in without being cramped.  My mother bought me a huge roaster which I cooked the turkey in and that freed up the oven for pies and side dishes.  I have to say that the turkey prepared in the roaster was the best I have ever tasted.  When it was first done cooking and had rested for 30 minutes, I cut into it and all this juice poured out.  I feared that it wasn’t done or something, but no, that is what a truly moist turkey is supposed to be like.

And take a look at this magnificent pecan pie that I made…

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Good times.  In fact, I would hope to get to host Thanksgiving for the rest of my life in this house.  It was so homey.  I think this might actually be one of the most perfect holiday homes ever.

But then there is Christmas…  Christmas belongs to the S family.  It always has and I fear that it always will.  Christmas Eve is really the big thing for them.  There is a family party at the home of S’s grandparents.  They decorate the house full of Christmas splendor and they spend weeks making their special pierogies, which are the main Christmas food.  We always unwrap some gifts at their house and we play Christmas Memory for the Christmas Cup.  Oh, yeah, and we drink a lot.  This year S and Bud added a new holiday twist with a musical performance of Christmas tunes.  S  played her sax and Bud played her flute and we all sang along through five songs.  I taped it and made a dvd for everyone in the family.  Good times.

We always stay past midnight on Christmas Eve, which means it is too late to travel anywhere else.  S’s brothers now have wives and houses not far from the parents, so they get to go home at the end of the night.  But we have to stay with her parents in the most uncomfortable guest bed ever.  In the morning Gil and Bud come back over to the house and we unwrap gifts and have a special breakfast.  Because of these activities, we don’t get around to seeing my family until late in the day on Christmas.  Sometimes it makes me sad but I would never ask S to give up Christmas Eve with her grandparents.

I hate that we might never get to celebrate Christmas in our own home.  And even though we have lots of decorations, I can’t really get into decorating for Christmas because we aren’t here to enjoy it.  This year we didn’t even get a tree until the 22nd and even then, I didn’t so much want one.  I only went out to get it because S really wanted a real tree for our house.

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That’s Rummy wondering why we brought nature into her house.

The one real Christmassy thing I did this year was bake.  I baked dozens upon dozens of cookies.  S took some of them to school and gave them away as gifts.  We took some to her family and some to my family.  And on one fateful evening, Emma and Rummy got into the cookies while we were out.  They ate about six dozen cookies.

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You cannot tell me that those are not perfect peanut blossoms…  Rummy says they tasted great too.

We had a wrapping paper theme again this year.  We went with a plain, brown postal paper and then tied the packages with lovely ribbons.  Classy.

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The best gift we gave this year went to S’s mom.  We gave her a very easy to use MP3 player, bringing her into the digital age.  Nobody else would have given it to her, having no faith that she would be able to use it, but we had the faith.  We pre-loaded it with some music so that she would have something to lsiten to before she gets comfortable enough to download music on her own.  She loved it.  And she loved it all the more because we believed she’s be able to handle it.

The second best gift we gave went to my niece, Shaggy.  She is four and maybe the gift is a bit too old for her, but she seemed to be ready.  We got her a remote controlled dragon fly from Radio Shack.  It zips and zooms in the air.  She seemed to really like it.  And her older sister was jealous, so we knew for sure that we had picked the right thing.

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This picture was taken at DK the Asshat’s house Christmas evening.  The dragonfly had gotten off track and flown into the Christmas tree.

Okay, so now the blog is all caught up.

Rested and ready, part three…

We have gotten to see ‘Lil Bud quite a bit in the past two months.  She attended S’s surprise party and we attended her christening and then we saw her again for her first Christmas. 

This is the best picture I have gotten of the child…

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You see, ‘Lil Bud is the first new baby in the family since S’s brotherel Jeffe’, 25 years ago.  This is a whole new S generation.  Everyone crowds around her and wants to hold her.  She is constantly swarmed with people.  She is a celebrity.  So, I cannot show you how adorable she is. 

But I can show you the neat little car seat blanket that S knitted for ‘Lil Bud.

Rested and ready, part two…

Okay, so in late November the S family threw a “surprise” party for S’s 30th birthday.  The reason I put surprise in quotes is because I was in on the planning the whole time and I know that S hates surprises so I kept her informed every step of the way.  I’m not a stupid woman and I knew I would have to live with her after the party was over.  I made the decision to be an informant because I wanted to save my own skin.  You can judge me if you want, but I had to do it.

For some strange reason the entire S family (S  excluded) loves to throw surprise parties.  In fact, the only party that they throw that is not a surprise party is their New Year’s Eve party and that is just because of the logistics.  Both brothers proposed to their now-wives at surprise parties.  Both parents have had multiple surprise parties.  The grandparents were thrown a surprise 50th anniversary party.  And the surprise parties also must have themes, often elaborate themes.  Usually involving costumes of some sort.

When they approached me back in July about a surprise party for S, I kind of balked a bit.  I knew she would hate any kind of party but a surprise party more than any other kind.  But, I was totally rolled.  This party was happening whether I was involved or not.  Hell, this party was happening whether S was involved or not.  That is just how the S family rolls.

They did consult me on the theme and the guest list.  I suggested either a Harry Potter theme or a physics theme.  Both ideas were shot down.  The theme ended up being 30th birthday, which seemed to work out well with the decorations and such.  The guest list was more difficult and I lost that fight.  S is not fond of large groups of people.  Also, she is only close to a handful of people in her extended family.  I rattled off the names of those people and only a few of them made the 25+ guest list.  There ended up being cousins in attendence that I know S hadn’t even seen in the 11 years that we have been together.  And yet, there were a couple of cousins missing that S would have loved to have seen.

I was badgered relentlessly by S’s mom to invite S’s friends from here in the Northern Ohio area.  But the party was in Pittsburgh.  And Pittsburgh is at least two and a half hours away from where we and our friends live.  And the party was the weekend before Thanksgiving.  I wasn’t about to extend invitations to people to drive that far the weekend before they traveled to their holiday destinations.  Mrs. S feels like I really let her down by not getting any of S’s friends to the party.  I feel like I kept S from going ballistic and murdering us all by not inviting any of her friends.

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Even though S was fully aware of all of the party details, I still had to pretend that she was not.  We got into Pittsburgh about an hour before the party started and Mrs. S begged me to kill some time before bringing S to the house.  No problem.  I took S down to the Pitt campus because she wanted to get some new pictures of her favorite building to hang in our dining room.  That would be the Cathedral of Learning, her favorite building in the world. 

My favorite building on Pitt’s campus is the Heinz Chapel

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After we took our pictures we went and got some coffee at a Sheetz where I purchased yet another Steelers travel mug.  S and I made up a story that she was to tell her family after they yelled “surprise” wherein she would pretend that she got mad at me for driving her all over the city when we were supposed to be getting to her parent’s house for a pre-Thanksgiving meal.  Her family totally ate that story up.  She really sold it, to the point where we both even started to believe it.  And it made the whole S family thrilled that they had pulled off yet another surprise party.

So, yes, S is now 30 years old, and it came as no surprise.

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Rested and ready, part one…

Okay, so it took me longer to recover from that election debacle than I had expected.  I was far too upset to blog and so I did not. 

But I think I’m ready to give this another go.  During my sabatical I missed my first ever blogging anivesary.  I should try to honor that at some point.

Anyway, what have I been doing in my off-line time?  Lots.

First, I should mention that I never actually got around to posting about our September trip to the Yankee Peddler festival with S’s mom and dad.  Good times. 

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Here we are, entering the festival at about noon that day.  As soon as we got inside, S and her mom bought an apple dumpling with ice cream and offered to share it with the whole group.  I don’t like communal eating, so I said a polite “no thank you” and S’s dad doesn’t so much care for sweets.  The thing is, he totally took a bite and that is the point where it turned into the trip from Hell.  There was a bee under his spoonful of dumpling goodness.  The bee ended up in his mouth.  It stung him inside his mouth.  It stung him on his lips as he spat it out.

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So, within twenty minutes of entering the Yankee Peddler festival, we headed to the First Aid tent.  The paramedics on hand were not all that helpful but they did give Mr. S some ice for his face.  At first, beyond the pain, Mr. S seemed unfazed by the stings.  But ten minutes after we left the First Aid tent his lips started to swell up.  I resisted laughter even though both S and her mom found the sight funnier than Comedy Central.  Okay, when I sat down with Mr. S to eat some fine, fine bean soup and he couldnt reall eat without some G_d awful slurping, I did kind of laugh.

Once his cheeks started to swell up larger than his lips, we had to leave the festival so we could get him some Benedryl.  Yeah, we were back in the car before 2:00.  Normally, Yankee Peddler is an all day afair, but not for us this year.

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And this is what Mr. S looked like on the ride home.  Of course, we took pitures.  We took pictures on the camera phone too and sent them to the whole S family.

Yankee Peddler was a total bust this year.

I shall continue my adventures in another post.

Sarah Palin rally…

I didn’t think I was going to make it to a McCain/Palin campaign rally.  Two weeks ago we almost went to a McCain rally in Toldeo, Ohio, but it was a two hour drive and Sarah wasn’t going to be there, so we skipped it.  There have been other opportunities, but they have been on week days and at iunfortunate times. 

Yesterday, Sarah had a rally in Canton, Ohio and since it was a Sunday, I really thought we would go.  But S had boat loads of homework and there just wasn’t enough time in the day.  But then I got one last opportunity.  The Ohio GOP sent notice that they had added one more local Palin rally for Monday morning.  While I felt bad that S wouldn’t be able to go with me, I jumped at the opportunity.

I picked up my rally ticket at the Mayfield McCain/Palin office late last night.  The ticket said that the “doors” opened at 6:30 am.  I live about 45 minutes from Lakewood, where the rally was held, so I had to get up pretty early and skip driving S to work.

I didn’t get over to Lakewood until about 6:45, but I got a great parking spot and the lines moved briskly.  It was total kismet.  I was meant to attend the Palin rally.  Since I got there so early, I was able to get a standing spot right near the stage.

This is a shot taken right as I got into the rally area.  It was held outdoors in Lakewood Park.  It was kind of warm this morning, but cloudy and there were sprinkles.  It did not bode well for the two hour wait until Gov. Palin arrived.

Once I got into my really great rally viewing spot, I started to make the aquaintence of the people around me.  There were a lot of people.  A lot of families.  A lot of school children.  I thought a Monday morning rally might be sparse, but no.  There were probably about 4,000 people there.  I haven’t heard “official” numbers though. 

Anyway, everyone was so nice and so excited.  The cool thing about the bleacher seats behind the stage is that anyone could go sit up there.  People weren’t being chosen by demographics.  That was cool.

The campaign people handed out free baseball caps that read “CLEAN COAL”, little American flags, “Country First” signs, red pom-poms and Joe stickers.  I got one of each to bring home to S.  I also bought her a Sarah Palin button and a John and Sarah campaign sticker. 

Various local politicians took the stage, which was nice.  And then there was an Ohio country music singer who did a couple of songs and the National Anthem.  At about 9:15 Sarah Palin finally arrived.

Now, I think Sarah Palin is a great politician.  A true natural.  I think she is smart.  I think she keeps her promises.  I think she is a reformer.  I admire her for lots of reasons.  But I have to tell you, she is about 1,000 times hotter in person than you can possibly believe. 

Sure, I thought she was attractive before.  But I’ve never understood the people who claimed she was “smokin”.  Until today.  Gov. Palin is wicked hot.  Before today, I was rooting for her.  After today, I am totally smitten.

Oh, yeah, and Todd was there too.  Just as cute as he is on television.  G_d, he seems like such a wonderful husband and father.  Everyone should have a Todd in their lives.

I should also add that Sarah made the skies clear up and the rain go away.  She is amazing.  She controls the weather. 

Good speech.  Lots of energy.  I am hoarse from cheering and my hands ache from clapping.

At one point, when she was talking about taking reform to Washington, I yelled out “Veto Pen” and I swear that both she and Todd turned and winked at me.

I’ve never really been one to attend political rallies before.  Well, not since college anyway.  I really didn’t see much point in them because I always make up my mind well before the last weeks of an election.  But now I see the whole point of adding “just one more” rally.  Before today, I would have been upset and disappointed if McCain/Palin lose the election.  After having attended the rally, I can now say that I will be broken hearted if they lose.

So much so that tonight I am going to go make some phone calls at the campaign office and tomorrow I am going to be an official poll observer.