Saturday, December 27, 2008

Holiday Cheer

Hello and happy holidays, lovely readers. Although I meant to post more this month (um, last month), it seems I've gone from one holiday activity to another and am finally in the post holiday relaxation phase. I consider this time between Christmas and when everyone returns to work and school after New Year's to still be "the holidays," so in no way do I feel delinquent bringing you the following holiday cheers...and maybe a few jeers.

  • Cheers to the friends and family who sent a steady stream of greetings to our home this month. We love seeing your pictures and hearing about your adventures. Extra kudos go to those of you who were so clever with your words and funny with your photos or actually hand wrote a note. I put up all the cards we receive on our glass doors and by the end of the season, the whole thing looks like a very diverse, festive, old-school Facebook Friends Collage.

  • Cheers to the teachers who put together so many class parties, holiday programs and festive activities. Even though I may grumble about all the holiday projects that come home each year, I love having that stuff around. A friend of mine still decorates her home with her son's holiday drawings and artwork from the early grades. That son got married this summer! My kids' gifts to us were a gorgeous ceramic tile with a colorful hand print and a calendar with our family's birthdays and other important dates highlighted. Thanks teachers!

  • Jeers to getting laid off a week before Thanksgiving. Anytime is a bad time to be out of work, but it takes a special kind of scrooge to give you the axe at the holidays. I'm confident that my friend, Karma, will prevail in the end.

  • Cheers to celebrating both Christmas and Hannukah. Both holidays are special and fun and I feel lucky that we get to enjoy them both. What would December be without our tree and ornaments and latkes and gelt? This year we turned off all the lights other than the tree when lighting our Menorah. It provided a lovely glow for the occasion. The kids are getting into reciting the blessings and lighting the candles themselves and it's lovely to see them participating. We know so many families who observe both holidays and I enjoyed sending them this card:complete with wishes inside for a Merry Chrismukkah and L'Shanah Tova (Happy New Year). Speaking of Chrismukkah, check out . Here's someone who's taken the meaning of "Moses is Moses, business is business" and run with it. Very cute and clever. Although I still despise Hannukah ornaments.

  • Cheers to the Wii! We're all having so much fun with our new toy. Finally, there's something the family can all enjoy.

  • Cheers to my dad who came up with the best Hannukah present ever: all the home movies of me until age 7 on DVD. How much fun to see baby ME and my mom and dad as young parents. Way to go Baba.

  • Jeers to yet another family malady: this time Ray's messed up his neck and shoulder and has been in intense pain. This is in addition to 2 kids with messed up stomachs, 3 kids with colds and my stupid cough/cold/congestion that is back before it ever fully went away. Things seem to be improving slightly but it's been a difficult week for all of us, especially him.

  • Cheers to a great New Year's eve and day after. We went to my parents', where I effectively abdicated all of my parental responsibilities and didn't think for a good 24 hours. At least 12 of those hours were spent sleeping. It's just what the doctor ordered.

  • Cheers to all of you. Thanks for hanging in there with me and reading my rants and ramblings this year. I could promise more regular posts in the coming year but I know me and my crazy life and I'll just promise to do my best. Here's to a happy, healthy and prosperous new year for us all, with just enough humor thrown in to keep us sane.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Speaking of Reality TV...

If you haven't already, I really encourage you to check out Fox's Secret Millionaire. The premise is that a millionaire goes incognito into a very poor part of the country and must live on welfare wages for a week. During that time, he or she must also identify three individuals to help with a minimum of $100,000 of his or her own money. I've been so inspired by the people that have been featured as the recipients of the gifts. Even in difficult conditions, many are finding ways to help others, giving of their own homes, time and resources. What I also like about the show is that it highlights problems in our country that many of us just don't think about from depressed former coal-mining towns to cities that have never recovered from Hurricane Katrina. Along with changing the lives of the people they help, I'd like to think that the millionaires also go away from the experience with a new outlook.

This show is a far cry from Temptation Island and some of the other reality crap that we've been forced to endure. I highly recommend it and hope Fox keeps it around for a while.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Biggest Loser Finale Wrap-Up

I have to admit, I'm a newcomer to the legion of The Biggest Loser fans. When I first heard of the show I thought it would be a cheap exploitation of fat people for studio profits. After hearing how good the show was from many friends, we finally got hooked last season. I no longer think the contestants are being exploited but the for-profit aspect of the show still bugs. Sugar free gum is not diet food, Bob. Telling us it is makes you look silly. Anyhoo, last night was this season's finale and it didn't disappoint. Here's my take on the winners, losers and others. Oh wait, the losers were the winners. So confusing.

  • Ed and Heba: So much to say about these two. First off, it was a total slap that Ed begged the viewers to vote Heba into the finale and they voted him in instead. That should be a clue as to how likable these two were. At first they seemed like the cute newlyweds and she was kind of pretty and he was the funny guy. But as the show wore on, Heba showed her true colors, her meanness and her ruthlessness. Who could stand one more second of her incessant crying and whining. I felt sorry for Bob for having to train her. She was awful to watch. It wasn't a big surprise that she won the $100,000 consolation prize. Of all the contestants that competed for that prize, she was at the ranch the longest. Amy should've won that. All that being said, they looked great at the finale. However Heba, losing 100 pounds doesn't give you license to go braless on national TV. WTF? It looked like she tucked her boobs into her pantyhose. Ick.
  • Vicki: Ugly is as ugly does. I honestly cannot imagine going on national TV, letting the world know what an ugly, evil human being you are, then having to go back into your community and having to face people again daily. For you non-TBL watchers, think Corinne at the Survivor finale (watch reality TV much?). I seriously can't ever imagine being that mean right to someone's face. It's one thing to be motivated to win a game; it's another altogether to be mean, nasty, cutthroat and awful to perfectly nice people who are there for the same reasons as you. Her treatment of Phil & Amy (more on them later) was beyond disgusting. I think if her children were older and watched the show they would be so embarrassed by her meanness, cheating and underhanded tactics (and their dad's too). I also think it'll be difficult for her to maintain the weight loss. They showed how hard she had to work to prepare for the finale and that it gave her almost no time with her family. That pace will be difficult to maintain without the obvious motivation she got from the possibility of beating the other contestants. As hard as she worked, she still came in last place at the finale. I give all the credit to Karma.

  • Phil & Amy: Oh my gosh! How great did these two look? Phil and Amy were my favorite couple and I hated the way they were treated by Vicki and her lackeys. You could tell Bob was sad when they left and wasn't overly thrilled that Vicki stayed when Amy was gone. It was so wonderful to see them back, looking amazing! Amy rocked her red dress (and I loved that she wore red when so many others wore black) and did look smoking hot! They were gracious in the face of those who treated them so poorly. And even nasty Vicki admitted that Phil helped motivate her when she was home and feeling down. Did you notice how Phil looked at Amy when she was onstage? You could see his love for her written all over his face. I am so happy for this nice couple.
  • Michele: Hooray for awesome Michelle!!!! What a deserving winner. It seemed like her formula for success was simply working hard and staying above the pettiness and backstabbing. How much fun was it when she hung in the glass box seemingly without a care in the world while Vicki cried and whined and couldn't get down? Her efforts were for the right reasons: to get healthy and improve her life. Along the way, she strengthened her relationship with her mom, and began to not just rely on herself, but value who she was and realize that she was worth taking care of. Such an important lesson for a young woman to learn. I imagine it must have been difficult to be the only black team member left with three horrid blue team members left. Yet she kept her focus and kept working hard. Although she scares the crap out of me, Jillian did a great job helping Michelle stay on track and WIN!

I'm so glad another season of The Biggest Loser will start in early January. It's always inspiring to see these transformations and the cat fighting is a little bonus entertainment. Hopefully they can leave the evil awful people out of the cast next time.

Update: Today's LA Times states that likability cost Heba the biggest loser title. She did, in fact, lose a higher percentage of her starting weight than Michelle. But her scheming and bullying made her a target of the TV audience who voted to keep her out of the finale. Vicky, meanwhile, has had to change her home phone number due to harassment and death threats. They both state that they were depicted inaccurately and that viewers are uncomfortable seeing such strong women. Bullshit. Viewers are uncomfortable seeing such horrible women. And Vicki seems to be reaping the proper consequences of how she played the game. Thanks again, Karma.

Friday, December 05, 2008

From Turkeys to Santa

It's been a while, loyal readers. Life gets busy, you know? So, what's been going on since I blogged you last? Julia got glasses: big trauma that has turned into a good thing. I'm proud of her, and proud of how we handled it. Ethan is Ethan. He's all about play dates, Lego, and staying up 2 hours after he's in bed and playing the dark. Bunch just gets better and better. He's figured out how to give kisses. But he's sneaky and gutsy and thinks he's one of the big kids.

It seems like Halloween was just yesterday, and now here we are, less than 3 weeks from Christmas. Thanksgiving was great. Once again, my cousin Sissy hosted and I had so much fun watching the kids play with their cousins (and cousins-in-law). There was all kinds of food, to which I happily contributed. Only problem with not hosting Thanksgiving is that you don't really get to control leftovers (plus there were NO leftover sweet potatoes and Julia has been waiting for them since last Christmas), so we had Thanksgiving again last night, with Ray's mom, who is here visiting. I made my first ever real turkey breast and it came out awesome. I almost think a monkey could make it but I don't want to disparage my own turkey-roasting skills. Plus: holy crap. Costco mashed potatoes. They must be from the gods.

Oh yeah, the other thing that happened last month was that my poor husband became one of the half-million plus Americans who lost their job. The week before Thanksgiving. Happy Holidays to us. After the requisite anger, cussing, and a few days of mopiness, we're back in the holiday spirit. Maybe it's all the meds I'm downing daily for this godawful cold-turned-sinus-mess-plus-incessant-back-agony-from-all-the-nights-spent-coughing-on-the-couch (not to mention the mind altering drugs humming in the background) combined with the persistent sleep deprivation, but I'm not freaking out. I wasn't thrilled with Ray's previous work situation. Besides, we'd known for a while that this layoff might happen. He was working for a land developer. Duh. So, I'm confident that something much better is in the works. In the mean time, it's great to have Ray home, especially while I've been sick. The kids are in heaven; I'm already worried about how sad they'll be when he goes back to work.

Tonight we went Chrismukah shopping while the kids stayed with Grandma Dooley. We had a great time! It's not about how much we spent. Sure, I love buying expensive gifts for friends and family. I am a shopper at heart, after all. But it's also fun to get creative, find bargains and make our budget work. It reminds me of Christmas shopping in college. But I also know that we are so lucky, so blessed. It's not about the job, the income, or any of that. I love this time of year and an uncertain financial situation isn't going to change that. So our halls are decked, we've got visions of latkes in our heads and it's time to be jolly. We're going to enjoy this bonus family time and look forward to the next good thing. It's all good.