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How To Have The Perfect Thanksgiving*

Going along with my family’s method of sticking to “new old traditions“, we did Thanksgiving our way. Perhaps you might want to change it up sometime, too? Here’s how.

1. The very first thing you do is make reservations at your favorite Brazilian steakhouse, which is also known as a churrascaria.

2. Start talking excitedly about “Meatsgiving” and make comments about the stretchy pants you’ll need to wear after it’s all over. Also, debate whether it’s best to starve yourself during the hours leading up to dinner or if it’s best to continue normal eating practices, thus keeping your stomach in practice.

3. Spend Thanksgiving Day completely relaxed and smiling. Enter the kitchen only when you’re looking for lunch or a snack—that is, if you’re not one of the people who prefers to eat little to nothing all day in preparation for dinner (see number two).

4. Arrive at the churrascaria on time for your reservation, because you know you’re not the only family who celebrates Meatsgiving and you don’t want to lose your table.

flowers

5. Make sure that your place setting includes silverware and a napkin, along with churrascaria mainstays, mini tongs and the two-sided (red for “stop” and green for “go”) paper disc that indicates whether you’re ready for meat.

6. Order the national cocktail of Brazil, the Caipirinha, because it’s a special occasion. AND it’s delicious. AND they usually make it pretty strong. (Only enjoy one if you’re driving later!)

caipirinha

7. Only eat ONE of the Brazilian Cheese Breads from the basket that is delivered to your table, because you don’t want to fill up before the meat arrives.

8. Go to the beautiful, expansive salad bar knowing that you should only get a couple of tiny pieces of non-filling foods, because meat is coming. Stay away from cheese (too filling), couscous (too filling), and potato salad (what??).

9. Finish your salad bar choices and then flip your disc to the green side. Soon your table will be visited by gauchos who bring all kinds of meat on a stick.

10. Ooh and aah at the first gaucho who comes by.

Meat on a stick

11. Try not to be overwhelmed when gauchos start swarming your table. IT’S MEAT. ON A STICK. Smile!

meat on a stick 2

12. Enjoy your leisurely Meatsgiving dinner by eating an embarrassing amount of meat. Become extremely full.

13. Order dessert anyway in spite of the fact that you really don’t think you should, because it’s included and—if you’re me—you MUST have the creme brulee, even if you have to put yourself in danger of exploding. You just have to.

creme brulee

14. Somehow, get yourself out to your car and drive home.

15. Put on stretchy pants like the rest of America.

16. Think about next Meatsgiving.

*According to my family and me.

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Happy Thanksgiving 2014!

I had every intention of writing an actual post this evening, but after Meatsgiving we came back home and played “Outburst” for two hours and now, at 10:50 p.m. I’m dealing with my normal level of exhaustion plus the added bonus of an oncoming meat coma, so I’m just going to say that it was a really nice day and I’m thankful to have spent it with my family.

I’m also thankful for you. Yes, you.

More tomorrow. Meet me here?

Ooh, I said “meet”. Sounds a lot like “meat”.
Zzzzzzz…..

Happy Thanksgiving

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New Old Holiday Traditions

If there is anything for which I am well-known, it’s that I’m not a huge fan of the holidays and holiday traditions.

Wait, it’s that I have a Type A personality.

Wait, it’s that I love tea.

Wait, it’s that I’m a very cheerful, optimistic person.

Wait, let’s go back to that holiday thing.

I’ve explained it many times before; it’s not that I don’t like the holidays in general. It’s more about not fully enjoying the pomp and circumstance that comes with the holidays: the decorations, the fuss, the clutter, the stress, the “we have to do THIS and THIS”…I’m a creature of habit and it all gives me a stomach ache. I’d much rather have togetherness and special activities on a random day that doesn’t “require” togetherness and special activities, which makes me a little unusual. It’s okay. I own it.

“I Don’t Do Holidays Well” Example One:
My sad, sad, sad Halloween decorations, which were the subject of my fourth Suburban Scrawl post back in October 2007. They were pitiful, they are pitiful, and they didn’t even get displayed this year.

“I Don’t Do Holidays Well” Example Two: The fact that I’m sitting here on my couch leisurely writing a blog post while 95% of the rest of Americans who are currently at home are cooking, cleaning, or entertaining relatives. And possibly pulling their hair out and/or sweating.

Our Thanksgiving this year will take place at one of our favorite restaurants, a Brazilian steakhouse. Meatsgiving, as we call it, is what we celebrate when my parents drive up from Tennessee for the holiday. (When we head down to Tennessee, Thanksgiving is traditional. And not in my house, of course.)

If you were to ask me when Hanukkah begins this year, I wouldn’t be able to tell you without Googling it.

Suggest that I might want to pull out and use one or more of the many holiday-themed serving items that my relatives have generously given to me and I might scowl.

I have felt terrible about my holiday shortcomings for years, until recently. A couple of months ago I had a conversation with D in which I apologized for being a terrible holiday mom and I felt terrible for his future spouse and the future spouse of his brother, because they were going to likely have two “meh” husbands when it comes to holidays. When he looked at me and said, “It doesn’t bother me a bit. You know, we just do things differently. You just have to ‘do you’,” I thought “OH MY GOSH, WHO RAISED THIS AMAZING YOUNG MAN??” (Hint: It was me! And his dad!)

He’s right. We DO do things differently. Meatsgiving may not be what one thinks of when it comes to a traditional Thanksgiving, but for us it IS a holiday tradition.

It’s a holiday tradition that each year we set the menorahs out a little closer to Hanukkah because we forgot to do it earlier.

It’s a holiday tradition that I complain about holiday traditions.

We may not celebrate any of the holidays like everyone else (okay, we DON’T), but that’s okay. Being ourselves and finding our own way to celebrate—or not celebrate—has become the holiday tradition around here, and I’m fine with it.

Thanksgiving flowers

D brought these home because he thought “it was a good idea”, and that’s a holiday tradition I can get behind.

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Read, Share, Listen.

I find myself unable to think about writing anything this morning other than a post about the current racial tension in America, while at the same time I can’t seem to locate the words to do that. I thought I’d go ahead and provide some links to posts written by people who are much more eloquent than I. Please read and share.

Arnebya’s post, Again. And Again. And Probably Again:
“Until we change the mentality that rights are distinguishable by race, that black boys are subpar citizens who should automatically be feared, we change nothing.”

Keesha’s post, Dear White Moms:
“I need to know that you are not merely worried about this most tragic of worst case scenarios befalling my son; I need to know that you are out there changing the ethos that puts it in place.”

Rochelle’s post, What’s Behind My Tears Over Ferguson:
“Notice and acknowledge color. Notice and acknowledge that our experiences, our outlook on life might be different because of it.”

Kelly’s post, I Speak Girl:
“Everything changed. His presence was enough. His Whiteness was enough. Their youth was enough. Their Blackness was enough.”

A’Driene’s post, His Name Was Tamir Rice:
“Tamir was a 12 year-old black boy playing with a toy gun in a park who suddenly found himself having a confrontation with police that proved fatal.”

Momo’s post, Just Listen:
“Just because I was privileged enough to be born with white skin doesn’t make me privileged enough to not care.”

Alexandra’s post, When Silence Serves No One in Ferguson:
“Our world is not the world that others experience.”

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Auto Awesome = The Next Level Of Awesome

Like most people, I use my phone to take pictures much more than I use my actual camera these days.
I have it set up to backup my pictures to “the Cloud” (oy, so mysterious!) but it occurred to me that maybe I should back them up to Google+ as well. I started that process a few days ago. It takes a long time when you have nearly 2000 pictures.

One of the really cool things that Google does, when it finds that you have a group of pictures that are taken around the same time and are similar in some way, is to engage its “Auto Awesome” feature. It will create a photo booth-style collage, a fun GIF, or even add fun animations to your picture.

A few months ago when D was home, he grabbed my phone and took nearly 75 rapid-fire selfies. This is something he does with any phone that is left within his reach. Annoying—because MY phone!—but hilarious.

After those selfies were backed up, Google applied Auto Awesome to it and the result was highly satisfying. I think you’ll agree.

IMG_0584-MOTION

It’s keeping me laughing, which is pretty handy considering it’s Monday, you know?

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Sunday Reading

After getting through my personal crisis yesterday (thanks, Internet!), Jim and I took the evening off and then spent much of today tying up the rest of the pre-Thanksgiving loose ends that needed attention.

Roxie spent today doing the same thing she did yesterday, which was pretty much this:

Flopsy

Sigh, what a life.

Anyway, here’s some Sunday Reading for you. Enjoy!

I absolutely adored Angela’s beautiful tribute to her youngest child (Number Four!) over on Jumping With My Fingers Crossed. The post was chock-full of love and positivity and sweetness, and you should go read it right now.

While there’s technically no reading to be done in this case, my sistuh-from-anuthuh-mutha’s Wordless Wednesday post on This Full House was a really cool GIF of her cat, and I keep going back to watch because it’s mesmerizing. I will have something related for you in tomorrow’s post, by the way, so stay tuned.

It must have been a sentimental week for me, because I loved Angela’s post (above) and also swooned at the post Elaine wrote on The Miss Elaine-ous Life in honor of her fifteenth wedding anniversary. SO SWEET FOR REAL, OMG. I love Love, don’t you??

Last but not least, there was hilarity going on over on Wendi Aaron‘s blog when she wrote a response to the article about the morning habits of 12 women leaders that was making the rounds. Wendi asked twelve of her friends for their morning routine and the result was her post, “The Morning Routines of Twelve Women Weirdos”. I found the post almost as funny as the fact that the service Wendi is now using for blog security wouldn’t allow me to comment because she has apparently blocked comments from the country in which I live. After a hysterical private exchange via Facebook messaging in which we were trying to figure it where it all went wrong, I told Wendi I didn’t get why I would be blocked since we’re both in the States. Wendi then told me that it’s probably because she’s in Texas, which is a whole other country, so her security system wasn’t necessarily wrong. I emailed the security system as the block message suggested, telling them that I was only trying to comment on my friend’s site and “we’re both Americans, in America!” so I’ll let you know how that goes. In the meantime, go visit her.

What good stuff have you read this week? Lay it on me, in the comments!

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Reason #829 Why I Love The Internet

The internet is pretty awesome.

Okay, it is awesome if you set aside the ways in which it sucks. I’m focusing on the awesome today.

Here’s the thing. It’s very common for people on the internet to band together and come forward to be supportive when there’s a personal crisis going on. There’s always someone on the internet to say, “Oh my gosh, me too!” or “Don’t worry; that’s totally normal!” whether you’re talking about physical issues, mental issues, home repair issues, kid issues, or any other kind of issue, really. The Good People of the Internet* are right there, helping others feel better.

I was having my own crisis earlier today. It was really bad, you guys. It’s called a messy house.

THE STRUGGLE IS REAL, YOU GUYS.

Jim and I selected today to do some huge cleaning tasks, in light of the fact that Thanksgiving is in just a few days and my parents and sister will be here. Oh, and the boys will be home.

I actually bought new cleaning supplies for the occasion, as if to publicly declare the level of seriousness with which I would address the chores at hand. Is that weird? Don’t answer that.

Anyway, I filled my brand new bucket with water and brand new cleaning solution, and then got down on my hands and knees and used a brand new scrub brush to clean the part of the floor that is right under the cabinets and appliances.

It was TERRIBLE, you guys. Very traumatic. But I got through it.

After that, I dumped out the bucket (eew) and refilled it so I could use my brand new mop on the kitchen floor.

What I discovered when I was finished was shocking, so hold onto your hats: the floor was suddenly clean. CLEAN.

Huh. Well, that’s interesting.

I decided to report my findings to Facebook.

mop those floors!

Funny, right?

Definitely funnier than what I could have posted: “Fun fact: I haven’t mopped my floors in a really, really, really long time and I feel like a total slob. #Embarrassing #Ugh #Sigh”

I’m glad I posted it how I did, because it was only a matter of minutes before a ridiculous amount of likes and comments appeared, likes and comments that had me feeling all warm and fuzzy from the internet’s embrace.

As it turns out, I’m not the only one!

BY FAR.

I mean really. Lots of people with dirty floors out there. I’m overjoyed to have found my tribe.

As usual, the friendly snark was plentiful:
“I don’t believe you. Come over and prove it.”
“I don’t believe you either. I need a demonstration.”

Friends also straight-up aligned with me:
“MYTH.”
“Weird.”
“So I hear…”
“Huh. I should try that sometime.”
“Mop?”
“What is this mop thing that you speak of?”

One even offered another helpful hint while simultaneously expressing her solidarity, you know, in case mopping happened to be the gateway drug to dusting**:
“I have heard that dust can be eliminated from surfaces if you wipe it up. I wouldn’t know.”

So you see, it doesn’t matter what your personal crisis is. Big or small, your internet friends will step in and instantly have you feeling so much better about yourself…until the next problem rears its ugly head.

But let’s not talk about that right now. I’m going to bask in the shine of my kitchen floors for a while.

*Note that I am distinguishing the Good People from the Bad People in this case, because of course there are lots of bad eggs out there.
**It was.

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Friday, I’m In Love

I had a really good day today.

The funny thing is, it was almost identical to any other day as far as my activities were concerned:
– I went to The Dailey Method for my class.
– I did some grocery shopping.
– I talked to a couple of friends on the phone.
– I worked.
– I drank tea (duh).
– I tried not to let my dog drive me insane.

In fact, with the exception of the grocery shopping part, that list pretty much encompasses almost every single one of my Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

Why was it so good? I have a few ideas:
– I was feeling ill (just a bad cold) yesterday and stayed on my couch almost all day, so I’m sure that feeling better today helped things along.
– I laughed a lot more than usual (which is a lot on any given day!) on the phone with my friends.
– I showered and applied makeup BEFORE my workout, which is always controversial in a funny way because everybody notices and they all want to know where the heck I think I’m going, which is hilarious.
– Class itself was hysterical, and laughing for an hour while pushing your body through a tough morning workout is a pretty good way to start a day.
– AND it’s Friday, which is like the icing on the cake.

It doesn’t even matter. Just like the randomivity of the beach ball, the butterfly shirt, the veil, the palm tree backdrop, and the confetti in this video, when all the parts work together just right they create a whole that is completely awesome. THAT was my Friday.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to enjoy the rest of this amazing day. I hope you do, too!

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Couch Potatoes.

Ten days after J was born, Jim started his first civilian job after fulfilling ten years of service in the Navy. The new job was about ninety minutes from our house in Wisconsin and so in order to avoid the commute in his first weeks of working long hours he lived away from us Monday through Friday and came home on the weekends.

This lasted for seven months—much longer than we originally anticipated—due to the fact that it took us that long to sell our house.

J was a fairly easy-going baby and D, at around three years old, was a great helper. Although it was definitely difficult spending five out of seven days being in a different state from Jim for an extended period of time, the boys and I had a great daily routine and we did fine.

Part of that routine was taking pictures and video. That’s a part of the routine of most families with new babies of course, but especially for us: I wanted to document as much as possible so each weekend I could show Jim what went on while he was gone.

Some of my favorite pictures of the boys from that time were taken after spreading a blanket over our couch and posing the boys there. I took so many “couch pictures” that if you were to look at them all in a row you’d wonder if I had any imagination at all. I happen to look at those pictures as pretty much the same kind of method parents today use to chart the growth of their kids, by posing them with the very same item in each picture.

A stuffed animal or a couch. Same thing, you know?

I don’t remember much of the detail of those days because even though for the most part things went smoothly, I was still operating under the fog of having a new baby. What I do remember is that it was a happy fog, and I’ve got lots of pictures to remind me.

Mar 1995

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Just Noh.

I’m in a mood this afternoon, because I scheduled a workout for 4:30 p.m. and one of my least favorite things to do is drag myself away from whatever I’m doing to go take an afternoon class.

I used to do my workouts mostly in the evening or at 5:30 in the morning almost exclusively, so it’s not like I’m new at this, but I’m a creature of habit and changing up my schedule today hurt. I’ve grown quite accustomed to doing my 8:30 a.m. class and then being finished for the day. Actually, the fact that this is bothering me so much really tells me that I probably need to change it up more often, even though today was completely “an accident”. I thought I had a work obligation this morning and remembered that a friend scheduled herself for today at 4:30 so I thought, “Ah! I’ll go workout with her!” Then I discovered I could’ve worked out this morning after all, but I kept my reservation as is because I’m a good friend. As much as I want to see her, UGH THIS HURTS. Mentally, you know.

And if she’s a no-show, she will never hear the end of it.

Still, I’m making it work. It’s actually a very good day to be “in a mood”, because last night my sister took me to see the West End production of “Billy Elliot: The Musical Live” on film at our local movie theater and if you’ve ever seen the musical or the movie on which it was based, you know that the script and screenplay are both full of adult language. Curse words galore, and with an added bonus: the British accent that I love so much.

Billy Elliot the Musical Live

I’ve been home alone—well, with Roxie—all day so it’s been hard to practice saying “Sod off!” and other spectacular profane words and phrases (like effing but the real f-ing word but spoken as if from England) while using my best British accent because the dog could care less but with the mood I’m in, I’m walking around still doing it and likely sounding like a crazy person.

Luckily my dog is a troublemaker so when I’ve told her “NO!” today I’ve shouted “NOH!” just like the Brits do in “Billy Elliot”.

“NOH!”

“NOH Roxie! NOH!”

I may have told her to “sod off” once or twice too, but she just stared at me, trying to get me to give her a treat like she always does so I don’t think she’s scarred for life or anything.

It’s time for me to change and head over to the studio. I wonder if my friend will mind if I express myself in a profanely British way while we’re getting our workout on. I think I’ll try it. Mixing things up can be good for you, you know.

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