Friday, December 31, 2010

Our poor kitties get the brunt of holiday wrath

Hello from rainy Wisconsin!

Christmas vacation is flying by fast! Both Becky and I have been off work since last Wednesday, which has for the most part been filled with delicious food, tons of time with both of our families, and relaxation. For Becky, this is "holiday break," as her work closes for the time period, and for me it's vacation, as my work does not. Amazingly enough though, I might end up using only one vacation day for the whole thing, between holidays, bonus days in lieu of 2011 raises (bleh), comp time, and a fortuitously placed snow day. Although I'm sad to have missed the snow disaster of the decade in New York City (which is pretty pathetic from the perspective of our Midwestern roots), I'm also quite happy to have missed it.

The brunt of the impact of the snow on us was born by our poor kitties. As we nestled in to our plastic Amtrak waiting area seats at Penn Station, waiting for the train to take us away to holiday wonderment, Becky pulled the envelope with the keys for our cat sitter out of her purse. We frantically decided to mail the keys to the sitter, figuring at worst that the cats would be one day late on their food. The keys literally needed to travel one mile, starting from one of the most major post offices in the country. A snowstorm intervened. By Tuesday night she still had not received the keys. As Becky frantically googled for bus tickets home, my parents suggested FedEx. We made it to a FedEx shipping depot five minutes before they closed and paid too much money to overnight a second set of keys to the cat sitter. Guaranteed by 10:30am the next day. Right. But only on days that are at least 96 hours from the last snowflake falling from the sky. By Wednesday mid-afternoon there was still no sign of either set of keys. Thankfully both finally arrived that early evening and she was able to get in (as Becky and I were boarding a flight across the country). The cat sitter reported back that poor Piccadilly had a gift bag around her neck that she needed to cut off. Our poor kitties!! Hopefully their eventful vacation is over.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tis the Season to be Jolly

Another weekend recap, oh joy for you! And this one is not even a week delayed! I fear that successful blogs should probably have more content than a typical weekend at our house, but I guess one of the magical things about having your own blog (or sharing one with your wife) is that you get to dictate the content.

Friday we made a third attempt at the Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson lottery. And apparently we are unlucky, so for the third time we did not win. This time (unlike at the second attempt) we were armed with enough cash to buy lottery loser tickets. There's only an hour in between the lottery at the show so our dinner options were limited. We picked Shake Shack, largely because they're offering peanut butter hot chocolate. As a bonus the flavor of the day turned out to be candy cane crunch.

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson was a good time and definitely worth seeing, but a little more... emo? random? something? than I expected. Pretty much I thought I was going to adore it, since it's one of those liberal-message-rock-musical-cult-following kinds of shows. The theater was totally decorated in red Christmas lights and chandeliers and stuffed animal heads - more than I've seen before (and we've seen a fair amount of Broadway in the last 4 years!) The songs were fun, but nothing I'm still humming now, although I'll probably listen on iTunes and consider buying a few. I was actually surprised that it seemed to be commenting just as much on Barack Obama as on Sarah Palin and the Tea Party, but I guess that's the liberal mood right now too.

We then headed uptown to join four somewhat inebriated high school teachers at a holiday party. Cocktail franks, a few drinks, and leftover birthday cake from Billy's bakery were enjoyed by all.

On Saturday our friend Stephanie and her adorable two-year-old daughter joined us in New Jersey. We cooked stuffed shells and hung out and introduced our toddler friend to the joys of decorating cut out cookies. The specimens photodocumented here are my creations, not hers!
Our cat, Cricket, took advantage of our focus on cookies, and decided that the stroller was a great place to take an afternoon nap. Our other cat, Piccadilly, was busy cowering in the bedroom. Gaining a little human sibling someday in the future is going to be rough on her, I think! Cricket may adapt better:

We helped Stephanie navigate the bus back to the city and ended up visiting the Rockefeller Center tree with them, since I missed it last weekend. Apparently we were not the only ones who had this thought - the crowd was crushing. Becky and I played bouncers for the stroller (although of course the biggest risk was probably one of us getting run over by someone else's renegade stroller).

When we'd had our fill of crowd we got some dinner at Five Guys. Yum. And now this blogging effort is making me realize we need to eat out less and eat some real food! Becky and I split off from Stephanie and daughter and revisited Columbus Circle. Still just as magical as previously advertised!

Sunday we stuck around home, cooking, cleaning, and watching movies. Thanks for making homemade rolls, Becky. I'm counting down the days to Christmas vacation! (And yes, Sean, I still need homemade rolls then even though I got some today!) We're now settled in with the ridiculously cheesy yet eternally beloved Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Happy Weekend to All, and to All a Good Night.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Last weekend was filled with all kinds of holiday festivities. Becky's mom came to visit us from Wisconsin to enjoy New Yorky Christmas goodness! Sometimes New York can be really obnoxious, but it really is a magical place to be at Christmas time. On Saturday Becky and her mom hit up Christmas markets at Bryant Park and Grand Central, viewed the Macy's windows and the Rockefeller Center tree, and visited the Bronx Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show. Becky and I also went last year, and learned that we probably would have gone much sooner if we had realized it was in fact not really about trains at all. There's an electric train that runs through it all, but the main attraction is all sorts of New York buildings rendered in natural materials.

Unfortunately I missed all of this (and therefore am going to make Becky re-do much of it), but fortunately it was for a good cause. Every year my work has a holiday party on a Saturday in December for all of the families we work with. We work really hard to decorate the gym, and then we have food and music and raffle prizes and of course Santa! It's a lot of work, but it's also fun to see the families in a more relaxed atmosphere and just have fun. I can't post pictures of the families since I don't want to get fired for not protecting people's privacy or anything, but here's a view of the gym before any of the clients arrived.
Afterwords we met up at Columbus Circle to shop the market (although I was running a little late and missed most of this) and view the magic. A few years ago Becky declared that walking through the Shops at Columbus Circle at Christmastime made her feel like she's in a movie, and even though I laughed at her at the time I actually have to totally agree. It's the quintessential mall-at-Christmas, with colorful flashing lights and a cheery holiday soundtrack, and sometimes even a sprinkling of fake snow.
We then enjoyed dinner at Acqua, an Italian restaurant we'd never tried before, and headed home to collapse.

Sunday morning dreary and early we geared ourselves up for a 9 am performance of The Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Apparently it is so popular that on peak weekends they pack six performances into a day. On principle we pretty much refuse to pay full price for theater and we could only find a good coupon for early morning or late evening, so 9am won out. The weather gods decided to pour rain. As a Midwesterner, rain in winter causes a lot of cognitive dissonance for me. But here on the East Coast, rain is known as a normal, if unpleasant, wintertime hazard. Standing on the street in New Jersey waiting for a bus while sheets of rain pour from the sky and 40 mph gusts of wind whip your umbrella around is a distinctly un-Christmasy way to start a day of holiday goodness. By the time we got to Radio City we were more than ready for some hot chocolate. Thankfully, they anticipated our needs and had a stand all set up. I asked Becky if she wanted some, and she jokingly asked if we could buy it and then take it to the bar and spike it. Why yes, in fact the hot chocolate bar will do that for you! Hot chocolate, caramel liquor shots, and fresh whipped cream quickly erased any memory of the out of doors. Our orchestra seats absolutely rocked and the show was full of Christmas wonder.

Next we braved the still-wet out-of-doors for much too long, in order to experience all the deliciousness that Sarabeth's has to offer. Sadly by the time we got seated they were no longer serving the Big Bad Wolf Porridge (or any of the other lesser porridges), but crisp potato waffles with chicken apple breakfast sausages can make up for pretty much anything. Seriously, those things are delicious. And I recently learned that they are not on the menu at Sarabeth's Central Park South location. Isn't that disappointing and odd?

By this time we were a wet and generally exhausted, so we returned to the Jerz for relaxing and Christmas cookie baking. This is Becky's yearly obsession, so perhaps she will regale you with tales from the kitchen. Let's just say, in one afternoon I think she finished off five varieties. Yum.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Deck the Halls!

As you are probably aware, last weekend was Thanksgiving. Which, in our world, meant 35lbs of delicious heritage turkey:

Okay, it actually also included a drive to Massachusetts, lots of other delicious food, Harry Potter 7 Part 1, and a fun weekend with our nephews. The only downside really was that Jen was on-call and ended up spending entirely too much time at the hospital and not enough time at home entertaining us. Oh, and the drive. I love spending time with my sister and her family, but I swear the drive to MA gets longer everytime we do it.

We bought super cute onesies for the boys for early Christmas presents (to us?). We maybe had to run around to about 4 stores to get these in the right sizes. I'm sure they actually want much more for Christmas than their aunties, but it's a nice thought anyways!

And here are some solo pictures of the little guys. I cannot believe how quickly they are growing into little boys. They both have gotten very in to clapping, as you can see from this action shot of Matthew:

And Thomas is a little cutie:

Someday I'll be a mommy blogger :) but apparently I'm trying my hand at being an auntie blogger for now... Guess I'm making up for my too busy sister's non-blogging. :) Hi Jen!

While we were in MA the town that my family lives in did their annual arresting of Santa:

Yes, they drive all around town with Santa and a police escort with blaring sirens. Way to kick the season off right.

This weekend we're at home, gearing up for the Christmas season. Becky's mom is coming to visit next weekend to participate in some New York City style Christmas fun (where Santa never gets arrested!), so this weekend was our opportunity to Christmas-ify the apartment.