Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve pie

Dash & Rosie helped make a lovely pizza-pie this evening. This was
Dash's first foray into pizza-making and he loved it! Monkeyrotica made
the wonderful crust by hand, then they added sauce, olives, browned
sausage, mushrooms, pepperoni, and two kinds of cheese (provolone and
mozzarella). Soooo tasty!

Also, Dash is modeling his new haircut. He trimmed a few locks off the
top on his own, and it was necessary for me to give him a serious cut
to even it out. I managed to trim it dry, with shears! He freaked out at
the clipper--too noisy & hurty. I think he looks quite handsome.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I have a bird in my office!

Weegee the Senegal parrot was shrieking up a storm in his bedroom-cage upstairs. Once I brought him into the office with me, he became completely chill. He just wants to be near his flock (i.e. me), you know? Purely instinctual behavior.

I just made an appointment for him for a well-bird visit at a local avian vet. Unfortunately, the closest "local" vet is 45 minutes away, not far from my office. Maybe they would board him while I worked? Finding an avian vet or one that treats exotics is troublesome—we had a fabulous vet for years (since 1990) who relocated to Pennsylvania in 2005. Since then, Weegee's records have been shuffled to three different vets.

We haven't been to Dr. Stahl's office before, I'll let you know how it goes. From their website, it looks like they have some pretty interesting and committed staff, all with bizarre exotic-animal collections of their own.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Everybody loves ice cream!

Rosie and Dash eat mint-chocolate-chip ice cream cones with the Os! Yummy.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Ballerina doll! Finished.

She's felt with some ribbon, beads & embroidery. Rosie has already claimed her. I was planning on making more and giving as gifts, but other handmade gifts (commissions) took precedence! I still hope to make more. She's sweet.

I published a how-to step by step series of photographs and commentary on my new craft blog. Go check it out!

Playing off our Xmas dinner

Again, Rosie and I are burning off energy at a park, all by ourselves. It's not even that cold out! Are people inside playing Wii virtual playground instead?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Feast of Lights: flashback

Back when my dad worked at the National Labs, many of his coworkers came from all over the globe. Highly educated engineers, physicists, and scientists from Germany, Poland, China, India, or Russia all found important work to do in their fields alongside Americans from across the country. No matter their religion, when December came around in the '70s, there was an office Christmas Party, complete with Santas everywhere, angels and reindeer, and songs about glorifying the savior's birth. Christianity was assumed, but if you were Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, or Muslim you came to the party anyway, because you were expected to or just to celebrate the spirit of the season (and there was free food!). In the time before political correctness, expecting a nod toward any non-Christian religion at a mainstream office party was too much to hope for.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, my sister M. and I featured regularly in the singing at the ANL Xmas parties. We dutifully learned our songs in elementary school chorus class to prepare for the annual Christmas choral program. We were pretty good! Our little eight- and six-year-old voices were sweet and earnest. One year at his office party, my dad asked us to sing our favorite Christmas carol. After a brief conference (in which I argued for my favorite, a beautiful song in a haunting minor key), we sang this lovely song:

I remember Mama lighting the Menorah,
Then covering her head she'd start to pray.
When Papa finished reading from the Torah,
Mama, smiling down on me, would say:

May your days and nights
Be a feast of lights
The eternal flame, may it glow in you,
And the Holy One,
May He know in you
only love.

May the light of peace
Shine and never cease
And the glow of wisdom illumine in you
May you never hate, though it's human to
May you know love.

May you go through life
With your head up to the sky
May you never walk in shame
In sight of the light of the One
Who has no name
This I wish for you.

May your days and nights
Be a feast of lights
Have a warmth for all of humanity
For without it, life is but vanity
May you have love.

May you have faith, and
May you have strength, and
May the Lord grant
Your life will have length
May it be sweet but strong 

May your days and nights  
Be a feast of lights
Your whole life long. 

(There are more verses, but the Internets fail me for locating them. Update: third verse contributed by Anonymous! Thanks! 2nd Update: More verses added by additional anonymous readers! Again, many thanks.)

Of all the many unsuspecting, long-suffering Jewish coworkers at the Christmas party? There was not a dry eye.

Happy Belated Chanukah, Merry Christmas, or whichever holiday you celebrate this season. May you know love.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Office Christmas Parties Past

This past Sunday, Monkeyrotica and I took Rosie and Dash to a Christmas party at our friend Kathryn's apartment. She served Jul Glögg, a traditional Swedish Christmas punch, and the guests trimmed the tree. Or, to be more accurate, my kids (they were the only under-20 contingent) decorated the bottom half of the tree by themselves and several other guests added ornaments to the upper half. We had a lovely time, catching up with friends we haven't seen in forever, like Ed (been staying on the down-low), or Carri and William (down from NYC). The glögg was tasty, but I preferred the champagne cocktails; Monkey, can you get that recipe from Fritz?

Even though the setting was nothing like Christmas parties from my childhood, it nevertheless felt familiar. I remember holiday parties with my dad's coworkers, all researchers and scientists at Argonne National Labs, where my sister and I were virtually the only kids there. The parties would be very casual and open-ended. We would be mingling with intellectual adults, listening in and attempting to keep up with their conversations (my, aren't your children precocious, Jim!), playing pool (there was always a billiards table), sampling from the buffet, and there would always be the singing!

Back then, it was the '70s and folk music was king, but today I don't know anyone who brings a guitar to a party and gets everyone to sing along, do you? At those parties, a couple of those scientists would bring along lyric sheet copies (mimeographed?), start strumming away, and we would all carol our hearts out. M. and I were fair singers at the time (or at least our parents liked to volunteer us) and occasionally we would sing a duet of a favorite tune we'd learned in grade school for the group.

Ok, there wasn't any singing at Fritz and Kathryn's party, but just the same, the kids were the entertainment, with an audience of adults watching them, carefully, with focus and enthusiasm, perform a creative task well. They were complimented on what a good job they were doing, hanging those tiny, delicate ornaments, and how well behaved they were! I'll see if I can get some photos of K & F's tree and post later! It looked gorgeous!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Dance video added!

Since my post about the Winter Dance performance is well below the fold now, here is a quick link so you can view the video that I (finally) posted! Enjoy!

Oh, and I'm in the back row, center.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Clemyjontri park

We have this whole park to ourselves today!

Rosie & I just got back from a mid-day boat ride in D.C. So we stopped at this fabulous park to burn some energy before she heads into my office with me. On to office party #3! This one should be nicer though, an intimate potluck with coworkers & a secret santa gift exchange.

UPDATE: Actually, if you were following my tweets from Thursday afternoon, you learned that we were not entirely alone! While Rosie was frolicking around the lovely, empty park, three teenaged boys (at least 16, as they drove themselves there and were all much taller than little-me) arrived. At first I thought they might have brought a younger friend, but no, they were jumping and swinging and whooping it up around the sized-for-elementary-schoolers equipment themselves.

All of us were leaving at the same time and as they were getting in their car (emblazoned with a Gonzaga HS sticker), I overheard one of them tell the other two, "This park is awesome! I'm totally coming back."

You know, I feel exactly the same way. Clemyjontri rocks!

How far does Santa need to go to get here?

Monday, December 15, 2008

I want my Friday evening date-night back.

So, last Friday. The kids had a great time! They spent the eventing at Auntie M's new house where she has set up an entire room for them. Their special room-at-auntie's is outfitted with sleeping bags, new toys, games, craft supplies, and books. I picked them up at around 11 p.m. Friday night and they were sweet and sleepy—Thank you Auntie M, for taking care of Rosie & Dash! I piled them in the car and headed home and all were abed before midnight.

Auntie M was babysitting so that Monkeyrotica and I could attend a party. Mr. Monkey's car battery was dead, so he spent his day thusly:
5:30 a.m. leave the house for dealership to beat Beltway traffic.
7:00 a.m. dealership opens, wait for hours on end, listening to gawdawful Xmas tunes
12:00 p.m. leave dealership and spend a few hrs grocery shopping among foul-smelling denizens of NoVA, head home to pack up car with kid-entertainment items
4:00 p.m. pick up son, pick up daughter, travel the Beltway for 90 minutes.
5:30 p.m. obtain food for offspring, drop them at Auntie M's, spend 45 mins in tollroad traffic
6:15 p.m. pickup wife, inform her that going to a party is the last thing he wants to do after driving around in traffic since 5:30 a.m.; wife ignores Mr. Monkey, she looks party-fabulous and ready for fun!

[UPDATE: I had to add here, that there are no photos of this event. It's my own fault, as I couldn't find our camera anywhere that morning. I texted Monkey before he left the house and asked him if he knew where the camera was. He replied yes, he did know. There you go.]

Here's where a series of weird, annoying things happen in which steam blows hard and heavy out of Mr. Monkey's ears. We get to the party at the appointed time, check in, but the bars don't open until 7. We check our coats. A fire alarm blares and we are directed to leave, so we uncheck our coats and go outside for 20 minutes. By the time we get back in and re-check the coats, the bar is not quite open and we really need drinks. waaaait...Bar Open! A friend orders a Southern Comfort from the hotel lobby bar. The bartender doesn't know what that is (or a few subsequent drink orders) so we all order vodka tonics, just because she knows that one (don't bartenders need to be licensed?). We sit for a while, because the ballroom doesn't open until 8, but boredom sinks in and we wander the lobby. Since Monkey and I arrived in separate cars, neither of us plan to drink heavily.

At 8 p.m. we are all allowed to enter the ballroom, a.k.a. the refrigerator. All the ladies promptly don their date's jackets. I find a seat, then reach for my condensation-beaded water glass which shoots out of my fingers and sprays water and ice all over the table. No servers in sight. There are a few speeches and lots of clapping. 9 p.m. comes and goes as some servers start mysteriously arranging and rearranging trays around the room. A D.J. starts spinning some holiday music. Monkey continues to clench until Dave Brubek's Take Five plays, which relaxes him a small bit.

At 9:30, a server comes to our table with a tureen of soup. Did I mention that our place settings have no bowls? No mind, she pours fishy-smelling soup into the charger plates. I ask, "Excuse me, what kind of soup is this? My husband has a shellfish allergy." The server answers, "Soup? Yes." Another server comes to take the soup-on-plates away, as others are bustling around with bowls. Monkey doesn't get to eat the lobster bisque. There's a mildly funny interlude in which Monkey gives her back his bowl several times and she keeps handing him fresh bowls of bisque. "I can't eat this!" and "Severe shellfish allergy!" are not in her vocabulary. There is no beverage service (if you need a drink of any kind, you must leave the ballroom and find the bar out in the lobby).

9:45, the salad course is served: mixed greens, with strawberries and candied walnuts (if you're lucky—one person at our table only got the greens). We wait, and wait, and make awkward conversation about how hungry everyone is and how nobody thought we had to wait until 10 p.m. to eat on a Friday. One tablemate threatens to leave and get food at McDonald's if the main course doesn't show up soon. At 10:10, covered platters are spotted, emerging from the catering area.

10:15 p.m. Our surf and turf plates arrive! The two jumbo prawns feature grandly atop every item underneath. Oh, wait. Monkey can't eat them either. Suxxorz!! Ignoring the flames pouring out of Monkey's ears, I sacrifice my mini-mignon filet, take his prawns and we scuttle out of the ballroom as soon as we are full.

Bust. At least we didn't pay for a sitter? Next time Monkeyrotica tells me that he really, really wants to go home and that going out will suck, I promise to be a better listener.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Studio holiday program, featuring Nylonthread!

This is my second year with the dance studio that I joined shortly after enrolling Rosie (and discovering that they had adult classes). Every year there are two performances: the main recital in June that is a grand 4-hour production (1.5 hrs for children's classes, 20 minute intermission, and 1.5 hrs for teen/adult classes) with participation from all of the 50+ classes in the studio, and the holiday program that shows just a select few dances (8, this year) from the advanced classes. (woot! I'm advanced!)

Dance video up! Enjoy!!

My class practices the modern style of dance, which is fluid, athletic, and has basis in ballet and jazz styles. I love it. The instructor is the solo owner and choreographer, but uses assistants from the advanced classes to help wrangle the youngest dancers. While there are many ballet, jazz, and tap classes throughout the week, there is only one modern, so I feel that I'm in an elite group (I don't like to be part of the horde). There are six students, Mary, Maddie, Gabi, Emma, Michelle, and myself, with only two teenagers in the group—the rest of us are 30–50-somethings with kids of our own.

Gabi was telling me just before our performance that a relative of hers was shaming her a bit for taking dance classes! She was hearing, "Aren't you a little old for that?" and, "It's a bit undignified to be dancing around at your age, don't you think?" Ugh. We are having so much fun! I fully support having fun. Pooh-pooh to all those pooh-poohers. I'll have to admit that I feel old going to DJ dance clubs these days, since they're populated by kids almost 20 years younger than me, but in a dance class for adults? I'm in my element. (I'm also having just as much fun in step aerobics.)

Our dance was to "Angels We Have Heard on High" by Mannheim Steamroller, cut to just 120 seconds. (no, I am not making that up and to his credit, Monkeyrotica knew what I was talking about when I referenced it the first time.) Here's the tune on YouTube, with someone's Xmas lights synched to it:

I borrowed an older costume from a dancer who wasn't participating and wound up having to repair it moderately. Costumes are only purchased for the June recital, so we scramble to find alternatives in December. My lovely garb was a black and red leotard with gold trim, a mandarin collar, and flared sleeves, and a side-split, full-length skirt.

So where's the video?!? I know you read the first few lines and have been scrolling around for it! As soon as I get it up, I will add an update with the video, hopefully before the end of the weekend. Truth be told, I haven't viewed it myself. I know I made one fumble near the beginning, but recovered fine and the rest of the dance went well!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Dish duty

I somehow let two full days of dishes accumulate in the kitchen. Horrors! Weegee and I are hanging out, enjoying each other's company while I get the dishes out of the way. Woo. Harold Budd is cycling on the iPod and the kids are downstairs with Monkeyrotica, watching Ren and Stimpy.

I actually get a kind of thrill when I come up with ways for Weegee and I to spend quality pet-owner time. He spends so much of his day alone and, quite honestly, comes fifth (including me) in the family hierarchy. Cheers, little bird-guy!

Fabulous Day, Rosie!


This is Rosie's daily behavior report. Her two columns are "Get my work done" and "Be nice to my friends." The rows are all the segments of her school day. Today, she had all "Yes" answers. Fabulous! Keep up the good work.

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