Christmas vacation - Going home!

Ohmugosh whatimizzit?  That's how all of today has been.

I woke up to a buzzing cell phone (I miss my fancy alarm clock) and headed to the basement to get my clothes.  (Win for having clean clothes to take home!)  Then Dad made Mom and I breakfast.  Bonus for him not cooking me fake bacon (what's the point of that really?)

Dad dropped me off at the airport shortly before 10am for an 11:10am flight (are you sure that's enough time).  TSA did have a body scanner in use but they decided I didn't look suspicious enough and sent me through the normal metal detector.

I arrived at the gate in plenty of time and went about entertaining myself with all my technologies.  Paramount in my entertainment were the camera on my cell phone, several episodes of my new favorite show, Castle, and some songs including Beggar's Prayer, Everybody Loves Me, The End (Pearl Jam), and Angel Dance

Watch as many many men try to fix the plane before we leave...

Finally onboard

CVG was a ghost town

That's right: Cincinnati Ohio's airport is in Kentucky.  Don't let it freak you out.

Midway through my entertainment the chaos started.  "They need more nitrogen on the plane, you can't board yet".  Then, "we'll take off half hour late" which turned into 1230.  At 1230 the plane wasn't ready to take off so they gave us all meal vouchers and told us to come back in an hour.  A little after 130pm the plane finally took off.  I was sitting next to a really cute guy but he was a smoker and really frustrated about having blown all of his connections so I didn't chat him up really.  Sorry.

Once I got into town I was pleasantly surprised that the snowfall was about how I'd left it.  (You know they had a Snow Emergency here on Christmas day.)  Bonnie came and got me from the airport and ferried me home.  I slept on the couch for a while before making myself dinner.  I'm thinking now I'll sleep in my bed.  I have two doctor appointments (same clinic, ease of scheduling) in the morning and then I'm heading to the office.  Who knows what I'll get into there.

Christmas vacation one day at a time: Tuesday - the best day ever

Why's this the best day ever?

Let's start off with the fact that I didn't roll out of bed until like 1030am.  When I did roll out of bed, I threw on my running clothes (which are so gross at this point they could walk around by themselves) and went hill running - Cincinnati style.  Really, my face hurt so bad I knew my sinuses were backed up and running would fix it.  I just didn't have it in me for another trip over to Lunken, and I really didn't have time.

After running, I had a "breakfast" of Goetta, the 'other' Cincinnati treat.  Win! 

After 'breakfast' I headed over to see Chris and Alicia, last seen together during the toilet seat incident.  We hung out at Alicia's.  She's takes care of bats that need rehabilitation (like they were injured or sick and need care before being re-released) in her spare time and by our luck, had a bat that wasn't hibernating.  I was so excited because it's been a long time since I've had the chance to play with bats.  If there was a way I could net bats all summer and still be a social worker, I'd probably  try to work it out.  We got to feed this little bat.  It took a few bites of my fingers, as these suckers will, but mostly stuck to the meal worms.  So excited!

Look at my glee!

Today, I will happier than a bird with a french fry: I will be as happy as a bat with two mealworms!

After the bat got lunch, so did we, at Skyline duh!.  We tried for a repeat of the toilet seat incident but we were sober and they didn't have any good seats so we walked around Sears for a few minutes looking for duct tape and reflective tape and reliving a few other incidents from our past.

Once you know her, it's not unusual that Alicia has like twenty lighters in her pocket.

We went back to Alicia's awesome pad and she showed us some of her favorite YouTube videos (what is Kitten Wars exactly?) and I showed her the first Ragnar 911 video, and this year's Ragnar 911 video too.

After seeing Alicia and Chris I had a bonus dinner with Aunt Barb, Uncle Tom, Gramma and my parents.  Dinner was fine but dessert truly rocked.  Aunt Barb had so many desserts most people wanted to sample them and took a bit of each.  But I was all homemade cannoli?  hell yeah I'll have another.  And so I did.  Many many times.  I had like three.  It's just what was filled that no one else took.

I watched some of the Vikings game with Dad while doing laundry.  Hopefully that'll be dry soon so I can do some packing and go to bed.

Christmas vacation one day at a time - Monday: The day after the day after

Monday is something of a blur right now.  I know I woke up late and failed to run.  After that, I had a breakfast of chocolate cookies and coffee.  Win!

Mom and I headed north to see Jenny and Doug and eat yet another meal at Skyline.  Win #2!  We headed over to see Voyage of the Dawn Treader in 3D.  While the 3D was no where near as cool as Avatar, it's totally worth it to see the film in theaters.  There's nothing like hearing the lion roar in surround sound.  Before and after the movie I got a tour of Mom's old life in Sharonville (oh, that's the farm where we used to buy our eggs).

Then we headed down to the Krohn to look at all the holiday flowers.  There was a brass quintet there playing.  They were, um, well, yeah.  But I can't play the trumpet at all so I'm done casting stones.

Oh, oh, Cincinnati, how I love thee

Mom practically begged Jenny and Doug to come over afterwards (I wanted them to come too, but she just wanted other people to eat the massive amount of food we have leftover from the party).  After dinner Mom tried to teach Jenny and Doug to play Bridge.  Bridge is easily my favorite card game to play.  Usually I have to play it on Yahoo Games because it's hard to find the correct number of people at my level (which is 'not that good') to play.  Bridge is also a strategy game involving card counting and math.  It's fun as hell.  But it's tough to be the person who doesn't know what's going on.  Jenny and Doug handled it well.

After Jenny and Doug left I spent some time talking with Deb since it's clear I won't get to see her this trip.  (Yeah, totally my bad.  I could've planned that better.)  Then I talked to Amanda and had to admit what my pooky bear and I got her for Christmas/Birthday (Birthday from me, Christmas from Kelly, again due to my screw up with planning) so she didn't go out and buy it herself.  Then I had to admit my admission to my pooky bear, who was very understanding.

Christmas Vacation one day at a time: Sunday

Today was the family Christmas party.  Oh wow.  To get the feel, play this video while you read the post:

For those who can't watch embeded video, check out the video on youtube.

Last night I went to bed late; I think I was up typing blog posts come to think of it.  This morning, I woke up similarly kind of late.  Mom and Dad had been up and going for a while.  I had some cereal and then they put me to work.

The party is at the clubhouse that's part of the association where my parents live.  We took two car-loads of stuff over and started to set up.  Honestly, Mom had some pretty specific thoughts about how she wanted things so once the heavy lifting was done, there wasn't a whole lot for me to do.

And then they started coming.  They kept coming all afternoon.  The family party is honestly something of a blur.  I know I got to play with all the kids and hold both little babies.  Merry Christmas Lizzo!  I had some of the kids take pictures for me too.  Adults will do things for a four year old with a camera that you couldn't believe.  It's like they loose their minds momentarily. Thank goodness.

Not eating shoes right now are you?

Best reason ever to give the camera to the 5-year-old: My uncles would never even think of this for me.

Obligatory pictures of Aunt Mary and I - she must've been using her camera too

Had to get at least one nice picture of Uncle Nick - he does silly and ridiculous so well

See - this party is a blast!

After most of the people left the party we cleaned the club house and took several loads back to the house.  I packed up the food and started dealing with the dishes before I was relieved of my duties. Off to Skyline I went.  That's right.  I'm like the only human being that didn't totally overeat at the party.  I knew there'd be a payoff later. After dinner we watched part of my favorite movie of all time before I lost my brain and had to stop.  Is it almost time for bed?

The next couple of days I have plans to see friends.  Jenny, Chris, Alicia, here I come.  I think Chris is hoping for a repeat of the toilet seat incident.  With Jenny I'm hoping to see the Krohn Conservatory and whatever else she wants to do.

Christmas vacation one day at a time: CHRISTMAS

Twelve hours after going to sleep last night, I woke up.  Truth be told, I'd been having nightmares about cooking Christmas dinner but we'll get to that.

Mom wanted to open presents before I started cooking.  (Yes, that's right.)  I got some nice stuff, including possibly the cutest pajama pants in life.  I can't tell if these are penguins or regular birds but I love them.

Mom and Dad didn't want me to do the brunch I'd thought of for Christmas.  Christmas is a hard meal to prepare because it has to do several things.  First, and most importantly, it can't be too much food or too rich because all six of us had at least one other meal with family that day.  Some of us had even more than that.  Second, it has to be brunch-ish because of the time of day.  Third, the protein can't be meat.  Fourth, it has to feed three men so what the hell do you do for a protein that isn't meat.  And because they'd been so opposed to my plans, I didn't feel like I could ask for help.  Nightmares make sense now don't they?

The menu was:
  • Appetizers: Pears and cheese, apples, the rest of the canteloupe from Christmas dinner (sorry, no more prosciutto)
  • Main course: Roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes; poached eggs over kale and toast, obviously, they kale had bacon in it
  • Dessert: I meant to have more of the apples and cheddar from last night but I forgot to get it out and we were all full

Mom and Dad were violently opposed to the poaching of the eggs because they felt I'd screw it up and Dad ddin't want cold poached eggs, they needed to come out hot.  Ok, I had my marching orders: poach the eggs last two seconds before everything is ready to be served.

I started by cutting up the potatoes to prepare for roasting. Chopping sweet potatoes is a special brand of hell that can't be appreciated at other times.  I have actually a blister from doing it.  Ow.  The regular potatoes were a pleasure.  Into the oven for roasting.

This is where the wheels came off the wagon so to speak.  There are only two racks in the oven and two jelly-roll trays, both of which were occupied by the potatoes.  But then I needed the same two trays again for bacon (twenty minutes at least) becuase I was in no mood to fry a pound of bacon *ahem* to clean up after frying a pound of bacon, and the other tray for all the toast I had to make.  Honestly, the poor toaster would've taken all morning and I already had the oven warm by this point. Meanwhile the kale is steaming on the stove top.  The bacon took a little longer than expected.

Ultimatley getting the kale and bacon together and then getting it on the toast (oh shoot, I just now realized I think I forgot to add vinegar to the kale, no wonder it tasted not quite right but still awesome because of the bacon) was fine.  I only screwed up one egg, broke the yolk trying to get it out of the water, it was fine going in.

Mom and Dad said they were sorry later.

After lunch I prepared the "baby shower" portion of the party favors for Sunday.  (I hope Mom and Dad to be feel better soon; they're both laid up in bed in Brooklyn).

Then, mercifully, Mom and Dad released me from servitude long enough to go for a run.  I ran hills, Cincinnati style and again I say Shovel your sidewalks.  I knew I'd be ok running in the street on Christmas day but I assure you, this is the only day I'll even be trying it.

After running, I headed down to Kentucky with the parents to get my Christmas spaghetti.  (I'm sure I've mentioned that meal before.  Oh yeah, every year in fact.)  It was a small crowd for spaghetti, just Aunt Barb and Uncle Tom (yes, I did just feed them the night before) and John, Jen and their two boys, Ben and Luke who was my playmate for the evening.  Lucky me because I had a blast.  We read about Santa, a dragon and a magical pomegranate and we played with blocks.  Then for fun, Luke texted Amanda all kinds of stuff. 

Christmas Spaghetti - my favorite meal of the entire year

Pictures like this are the reason you should let a 3-year-old use your camera!

Shoes: Almost as good as spaghetti

My favorite 3 year old in the whole world - he looks that sweet every time I see him!

When we got home tonight Mom started to go into panic mode about the party tomorrow.  My responsibilities are done.  I was meal captain for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day just to get out of being captain for tomorrow.  I'm upstairs typing blog entries for the past few days just to stay out of the wave of panic.  And I'm in my cute pants. Merry Christmas!

Christmas vacation one day at a time: Christmas Eve (Friday)

Oh my gosh; life is a blur.  I didn't run yesterday; I should do that now.  And so I did.  I headed back over to Lunken Airport for more running.  There were at least more people out running that morning.  I wasn't so lonely.

After running, I made Goetta, the other Cincinnati treat, and eggs for brunch while we made a game plan for the rest of the day.  Mom and Dad were fairly supportive of Christmas Eve's menu, and the fact that I was cooking allowed them time to prepare for the big party the day after Christmas.

The menu consisted of
Cooking was hilarious.  Mom and Dad came in at various points in the afternoon and helped with dishes.  Every time Mom turned around I needed her to wash the food processor again.  (I needed it for several dishes, also, it has to be washed if a tomato touches it, or gets near it, or sees it.) After being on my feet four hours cooking, I was relieved when Aunt Barb and Uncle Tom came to eat all the food.  We had a nice quiet night with them.  I even got a special present out of it.  I think I had to dishes too.  About the time they left, I went to bed.

Christmas vacation one day at a time: Day Two

Thursday morning I woke up and meant to run.  Although, I honestly didn't feel like it since I'd just run the night before.  Instead I had a light breakfast that was a mistake and made a list.

Mom, Dad and I headed over to Kroger, a special joy two days before Christmas.  I was in charge of Christmas Ever dinner (cooking for five) and Christmas Day brunch (cooking for six).  Honestly Kroger was fine.  Again it was late enough people weren't grumpy but early enough no one was traumatized from all the shoppers.

By the time we got done shopping ($300 later) we were all starving.  It's SKYLINE TIME!!!  Skyline was so full Dad couldn't find a place to park.  He sent Mom and I inside to snag a table while he addressed himself to parking in the neighborhood.

After Skyline we went over to Fresh Market (like Whole Foods, sort of) for the items on our lists we couldn't find at Kroger.  (Why are there no French Lentils at Kroger I ask you.)  I also picked up fancy sausage and bacon.  Mmmmm.

In the afternoon I told Mom and I need her car and suggested she not ask any questions.  I went to three restaurants for gift certificates for her and Dad.  I got a little gift certificate to a vegan place (the Love Hut?) where the guy had never sold a gift certificate before (serious) but the girl teaching him was nice and she gave me a free egg roll.  The I headed over to Green Dog Cafe which sells local food and it's pretty good.  The guy there probably had sold a gift certificate before, just not in a while.  Last was a little place called Doodles which was the most disconcerting experience of all three, and also the place I got the biggest amount on the gift certificate.  I got home in time to shower and change for dinner.

Mom got tickets to Cinderella at the Ensemble Stage Theater which is a really tiny theater downtown.  She wanted to eat at this place called the Lav O Matic, yes, it used to be a laundromat.  A friend of the family, Marge, was able to join us after her family's travel plans fell through and they didn't make it into town.  Dinner was awesome.  They had excellent beer and really good food.

Cinderella was fantastic.  It was actually a really engaging production.  They made Cinderella a total book worm who didn't want to go to the ball; the fair godmother was a "well wisher" so she gave advice and wished people well; everyone in the play lost one of their shoes at the ball; the prince had a much bigger role and he was a bookworm too.  Great!

After the play, Dad took us through St Bernard for the lights show.

Then I was finally able to wrap all my presents.