Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hold onto Nothing

And Greg he writes letters
And burns his CDs
They say you were something in those formative years
Hold onto nothing
As fast as you can
Well still pretty good year

If you don't know that song, you must go listen at once. It's the song that plays on a loop in my brain every New Year's. 

And I think 2011 was a pretty good year. When I think back to what I've been doing these past 12 months, it doesn't really seem monumental, just...good.

Let's see...

I ran a 5K, which was pretty amazing. 

I went back to Vegas (twice), which is an important part of every year. 

I got a new job, which was a big change. 

I made a pake, which was fun.

I drove the Pacific Coast Highway with my family, which was awesome. 

I guess, most importantly, I got to see nearly all of my friends at some point this year (which is a bigger feat for some than others). We're all pretty healthy. We have a nice house to live in and good food to eat. 

Yep, pretty good year.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Narrowly Averting Salmonella and Other Things

My home vacation turned into a semi-real vacation this week. We made a quick little jaunt down to Chicago. It was actually far too quick; just drive down one day, stay one full day, drive back the next. Still, it was fun.

The highlight was the trip to the Museum of Science & Industry. This is one of the only museums that holds a special place in my heart, thanks to annual trips back when I was young and my grandparents lived in Chicago. It's still very much the same as it was then...they seem to just add things on rather than take things away.

Our trip happened to coincide with the Dr. Seuss exhibit. The exhibit would have actually made more sense in an art museum, seeing as it centered on his life and work as an artist and writer, but I am not one to argue with any exhibit featuring Dr. Seuss. (Plus, I think maybe the blatant advertising for Seuss Landing at Universal Studios Orlando might have been the "industry" part.) It's always fun to get a look into the life of someone who found success doing something they would have been compelled to do even if no one had paid them. Very inspiring.

A lowlight of the trip was our attempt to eat at Frontera Grill. Due to the uncharacteristically haphazard way in which this trip was thrown together, I missed my chance to make reservations (they take a few, but mostly it's all first-come, first-served), so I figured we'd go early and chance it. Seeing as it was a Wednesday night, I figured we had a shot. I was wrong, of course. People must line up before they open just for a chance to eat that amazing ceviche...we got there 45 minutes after they opened and there was a 2 1/2 hour wait for a table. Sigh. (I would have considered waiting had there been room in the bar, but no.)

Seeing as we'd just paraded the boys a mile through downtown on foot to get there, we had to find another place to eat. This brought us to Maggiano's. I usually avoid chains when on vacation if possible, but seeing as we no longer have Maggiano's here in Minneapolis, I figured it was sort of like eating somewhere we couldn't eat at home. Most importantly, I knew the kids would eat it.

We got seated within 10 minutes at a half-moon booth (my favorite). There was a piano player regaling us with Piano Man and Rocket Man right in a row. And I was feeling proud of myself for ordering the chicken marsala rather than my beloved fettuccine alfredo, which is so damn good that I usually try to convince myself that this time those 3 pounds of butter and cream won't make me sick (I am almost always wrong). All was well.

And then the food came.

Everyone else's was fine, but when I cut into my chicken, it was shiny and pink. I kept my vomit inside and alerted the waitress, who gave me a look that said "Not again!" She also immediately said she'd send the manager over. The manager didn't show, but I did get a new plate of chicken. I sawed off a corner, inspected it's opaqueness, and began eating. I was three bites in when I decided to cut into the center again (I don't know why I didn't do this first, I think I was just hungry)...this time it wasn't just pink, but there was a lovely blood vessel in it. Yummy.

I flagged the waitress down again, showed her the meat, and said, "Now I'm too worried to eat any chicken," to which she replied, "I'm worried for you." Well, great.

In the end, I didn't eat, but I also didn't vomit. Plus, I got free wine for my troubles. No, I won't ever eat there again, but hey, at least no one was killed...namely, me.

And after all that excitement, it was time for bed and then up in the morning to drive home. So yeah, I've had better trips to Chicago. But, it was nice to have some uninterrupted time with all four of us. I think we'll go back in the summer. And I'll make all the proper fact, maybe I should start planning now.

Friday, December 23, 2011

All I Want for Christmas

I am on home vacation. Home vacation is when you're off work for an extended period, but you aren't going on a trip. It's still a fairly new concept for me. One of the perks of my new job is that they're closed the last week of the year (with pay!), plus they gave me vacation hours that I needed to use by the end of the year, so I've been off since yesterday and don't have to go back until Jan. 3!

It's really fun to wake up and not go to work on a workday, but I definitely have the nagging feeling that all of this time off would be better spent on a beach...or in New York...or Las Vegas...or, well, anywhere involving an airplane. I'm not entirely sure that I actually want to be gone. I think I just might not want to have to cook or it possible that my entire travel obsession can be boiled down to that desire? Hmmm...something to think about.

So, yeah, it's almost Christmas. I have to admit that even though I love being the parent in the Christmas equation, I do sometimes miss the days when I could just list off things I wanted and have a reasonably good chance of receiving them. Actually, all I want this year is a scraper paddle for my mixer. And a trip to Las Vegas. And a dog that will snuggle me and won't make me (or Aidan) sneeze. And peace and love. But mostly that scraper paddle...

Monday, December 19, 2011

Time and Pie

I don't know where the time goes. The weeks have just been rushing past me and suddenly it's always Monday again.

I've been at my job for 8 weeks. I'm starting to get the hang of it, although I never feel like I'm learning fast enough. I have yet to feel particularly smart in this job, which is both humbling and exhausting, but everyone I work with has been helpful and supportive and genuinely nice and that makes it easier. Plus, I'm learning stuff, which is always good.

Other things happening in my world lately include Owen going to see his new therapist every week. She is wonderful and Owen likes her a lot and I am hopeful that she will be able to get through to that place in his brain that sends him into a panic every time the unexpected happens. I am also hopeful that it will become clear whether or not public school is a hospitable place for him. Obviously at the moment it feels like it's not, but I know how important it is to try to help him learn to cope in the neurotypical world, so I'm fighting my instinct to pull him out of there and run to an underground bunker where no one will ever make him feel bad yes, I'm trying to stay rational in the face of one of my worst fears (that the public school system will crush his soul). I make no promises as to how long this will last, but we're trying it for now.

Also on my mind: vacations. All I want to do is plan vacations, which I suppose isn't new, but it's more intense lately. I have zero plane tickets booked at the moment, which is actually a little unusual given my travel compulsion. However, we're planning to take an "educational" trip to Mexico in March (so Aidan can practice his Spanish, of course), so I've been obsessively reading hotel reviews and checking airfares, even though I swore I wouldn't book anything until 2012. There's also a Vegas vacation on the horizon...I'm trying to wait it out for pool season, but I can't actually give you a good reason for that since laying in the sun gives you cancer and takes precious time away from the slot machines...although I do think sipping cocktails by the pool is good for the soul.

And finally, Christmas is on my mind, of course. I love Christmas - it's almost the only thing I like about winter. We're spoiling the boys, as always, although I suppose it's all relative: Aidan put 5 VACATIONS on his Christmas list and he's not getting any of least not for Christmas. But hmmmmm...I wonder if every vacation we take for the rest of his life could just be positioned as an early Christmas present...something to think about. (P.S. Why didn't I ever think to ask for vacations for Christmas?)

And with that, I leave you with this quintessential Christmas image. I think it conveys the spirit of the season...
Stuff your face.

(P.P.S. Baker's Square, if you ever want to hire me to preach the virtues of Candy Cane Pie, I am totally available.)