Cincinnati Christmas - Days 7 and 8

Monday was kind of a blah day.  I woke up (like this) and felt like I had rocks in my sinuses.  This sucks.  I kind of grumped around all morning lamenting my state of affairs.

In the afternoon Dad took me to the gym with him.  I did a great workout which somewhat loosened up my sinuses.  This is the "Cincinnati Sinus" effect most people know.  Oy.  I did an hour workout on the treadmill which nearly gave me a heart attack.  I did an interval of five minutes running between 10:30 and 9:30 miles and 2 minutes walking around 3.4 miles/hour.  I don't usually run anything below an 11:00 mile.  Then I did the elliptical for 30 minutes and a bike for 40 minutes.  My digestive issues are still with me too. Lovely.

By evening my stomach was finally ready to accept food.  It hasn't been normal since Dreidel Dash.  We had lots of leftovers.
Leftovers: done!  The Jicima leftovers and cauliflower leftovers were the best.  There is still a tiny amount of chili left (which I should remember for later).

Today I was felling mildly better because I'd found the allegra.  They sell the generic over the counter now.

Jenny and Doug collected me around 10am and we headed over to the Krohn which has an admission fee this year.  We were glad we got there early because we had plenty of room but the line for tickets was crazy by the time we left.

After the Krohn it was Skyline time. When is it not Skyline time?.  We found the new Skyline on McMillan, one confusing door down from its former location on said street.  After lunch Jenny wanted to go to the mall because she is a glutton for punishment.  We headed up to Kenwood for a remarkably fast trip.  Afterwards we stopped for dessert at my request.  Black raspberry chip is one of the flavors that doesn't reliably ship to Minneapolis yet.  I love Grater's!

I lounged around most of the afternoon because I was sans automobile.  Mom and Dad come home and took me over to the Green Dog Cafe for a great dinner with great coffee.  Then I headed down to Kentucky for a visit with Grandma, whom I hadn't seen yet on this trip.  If your name is Aunt Mary, you may have a postcard with this picture heading your way!



Cincinnati Christmas Day 6 - CHRISTMAS

Oh, I love Christmas!

830ish We woke up and did family presents.  I didn't have many to open, but I got some nice stuff and some hilarious gift certificates.  It was fun to watch Mom and Dad open their presents.  I had fun picking them out and glad they enjoyed them.
930 The cooking begins. Today was waaaay less stressful than yesterday. Our menu was one course, and the only appetizer was the Blue Cheese Port spread from last night.  We had chicken salad, cucumber salad meh, roasted potatoes hell yes you are!, and melon and proscuitto.  I ate 90% of the melon and prosciutto.  We had a fruit plate for 'dessert'.

1100 The company arrived and we ate, opened presents and generally hung out.  Jimmy, my cousin, is a total racist.  Perhaps this is why I only see you once a year?   Jimmy's girlfriend, Jennifer, is very nice and I think I'd like her if I spent more time with her.  My Uncle Jerry is nice and he sees Mom and Dad a lot now, which is something that has ebbed and flowed over my lifetime.

2ish Nap Time  I thought about going for a run but after two days of cooking, I looked at the couch and was asleep before my body was horizontal.

4ish or 5ish We headed down to Kentucky for the awesome tradition of Christmas Spaghetti.  Mark Chef Mark made raviollis and homemade pasta for Uncle Tom's sauce.  Yum!  I also wound up with a plane ticket and vacation date to Florida WIN for me!.  I played with all the kids and had basically a wonderful night.  Highlights include feeding Maximo a popsicle, playing with Luke with the present I got him, and the end of the night when Ben finally let me hold him!

Picture is unrelated - yes, that is a Q-tip in the wine opener.  The wine opener requires the Q-tip to function. 

I had help form the kids to take pictures.  Adults will do anything for a 4 year old with a camera.  Luke also practiced taking pictures of his feet, something I've totally been known to do as well.  Click HERE for more information.

At the end of the day  I finally got to talk to Amanda and hear about her Christmas thirteen people! which went really well too.

Cincinnati Christmas - Day 5. Christmas Eve!

Early - Oy  I knew there was not going to be running today.  I made bacon and eggs for breakfast.  I found myself disatisfied with the bacon I got yesterday.  Boo.

Shopping trip - day 5  This was another grocery shopping trip.  Mom and I hit Fresh Market for a few fun things and Dad not rushing me through the store  and then we stopped to see JoAnn and her fabric.  I'm having an issue where a blue jean button keeps popping out and then my pants are coming down.  It's an old crappy button, not because I'm fat.

 Walking in the sunshine I wanted a family walk today.  Mom wanted not to be on the dirt/mud/gravel trail to Ault Park.  We settled the matter by walking through the neighborhood.  Mom and Dad were bundled up and lamenting their 'no hats' decision.  I was in a fleece and sweat pants and just fine.  Southerners!

 Let the cooking begin  I cooked most of the afternoon.  Dad "helped" my doing the Brussels Sprouts. I took him an entire hour to prepare the sprouts for roasting.  If you'd listened to me we would've been done 40 minutes ago.
The menu was as follows:

Company!  Everybody come over and we ate.  Then I played with one of my favorite people in the entire world.  I'd show you a great picture but he basically doesn't hold still.  Ever.
 All the 'family photos' are blurry but this one is too cute.  Auntie - I want to play!

Aunt Barb got an iPod Touch for Christmas and was trying to learn how to use it.  Hilariously, the kids have to teach Uncle Tom first so he can teach her.  I referred Aunt Barb to the article that said to leave the operating instructions for all gadgets in the bathroom because studies show that's where the real learning occurs.
 This may be the least blurry of the family pictures.
 Showing off for the camera.
 I will eat ice because I'm teething!

It's 1037 now.  I feel like it's about 1AM.  I am exhausted.  The program for Christmas is to get up, do presents and then start cooking about 930am although that will be a lighter cooking job.  I'm hoping I can get in a run sometime before we head to Kentucky.

Cincinnati Christmas - Day 4: Grocery Shopping

I couldn't possibly go a day without shopping.  Today was no exception, although the subject matter was slightly different than the past few days.

730am Why did I think I was going to get up and run?  Turned the alarm off, went back to sleep.

830ish I got up and searched for fuel for the day.  Sadly, there was no bacon.  Maybe shopping would've been better with bacon?

930am Whole Foods sucks!  Sorry.  That was just my reaction.  Apparently I am spoiled by my little co-ops where I can reliably find *organic* produce.  Your name is "Whole Foods".  It shouldn't be *this hard* to find an organic grape or two.

A few minutes later - trying again at Kroger  That was really much better.  I sort of hate shopping at Kroger.  Putting the "all natural" stuff in the organic section is a lie!  Although this morning I was liking that these really big grocery stores do make some effort to have some kinds of certified organic produce, dairy and eggs because I could find most of what I wanted.  Organic limes but not lemons.  I wouldn't have cared except the recipe calls for eating the zest.  Where the farmers put all the pesticides.

Shopping with Dad was a basically positive experience although one year I think I should just have Mom load the gift card and let me go alone.  Mom describes Dad as "a rusher".  I had a similar experience.  He likes to cook but has no concept of how foods go together.  Because he lacks that basic understanding, he also fails to understand why I'm such a fuss pot about the kinds of crackers that will go best with blue cheese and all kinds of other ingredients.  Trust me.
Look at all those things we bought.  It wasn't even "a record" because the only meat I bought at all was bacon.  Imagine if there was a turkey!
That vague look of dread.  What is Dad doing?  Kroger was packed but apparently not nearly as bad as the cashiers were expecting later in the day.  Everyone was basically pretty nice while running into each other with our carts.

Lunch I finally got my first taste of this chicken.  I could see the oil oozing out of it you know that can't be bad.  It was great.

Wrapping presents with Mom Found a second use for the super-tall, or as I'm now calling it, "Time the Tool-man" sized wrapping paper.  Decided not to get Dad a restaurant gift certificate because I've seen everything else he was to unwrap.  Wow!

RUN!  I think I've mentioned a couple of times that my legs are stronger because of Circuit Class, Pilates and Water Running.  That means I move faster and my cardio vascular system protests by trying to kill me.  Today was all about pacing because there's so many hills on this run.  Running down the hills was all about "opening up the hips" as my Water Running instructor says.  Those hills are a bear to run up but so damn fun to run down.  Have I told you I'm still toying with running the full Flying Pig?


Jazzercise because I love my mother.  I'll deny it later, but the "dancing" is finally starting to click just a little bit.  I did not like how this girl did "core" work though.  Boo.

Dinner - Bangkok Bistro.  We had the eternal "take-out vs eat-there" discussion.  I almost always prefer take out and Dad likes to be waited on.  Mom doesn't really care.  I won today.  It probably didn't hurt that Dad had two beers after tennis and was pretty mellow. 
I always get the "Siam Noodles" which are supposedly "Pad See Ew".  I've had Pad See Ew in Minneapolis at several restaurants.  This dish can't be replicated.  I think maybe they put crack in it or something.  Yum!  We also spent some time strategizing about numbers of plates and bowls, table arrangements for 8 to sit in one place and cleaning.

Laundry - I forgot to wash my jeans which was a motivating factor for doing laundry at all.  Fail!  I'm sure someone else will have a load the jeans can go in.  The button keeps falling off my jeans.  Sucks.  I wonder if I can buy a new blue jeans button at Jo Ann's.  My Pooky Bear would know.
This book is in the basement next to the laundry machine it's a weird setup and I read it to my mom every Christmas.  ... this one has a little start, this one has a little car....

Cincinnati Christmas Day 3 - Theater Thursday

MorningWow.  I slept like a rock.  That's what I get after staying up all night to wrap presents.

9:30am Jazzercise with Mom.  Because she loves it.  Be nice!  It was fine really.  I actually liked this routine more than some of the other ones I've had to do.  Although I swear this girl made me do five minutes of hip bridges at the end.  My ass is on fire.

Kroger for a cup of coffee, cup of yogurt, and bananas for Mom.

Shopping trip - day 3  This time we headed not to Kenwood thank the lord but to Forest Fair Mall, Cincinnati Mills *hmm* "Cincinnati Mall' for Bass Pro Shops, Kohls, and a brief stop at Claire's where I buy all my earrings.
 These owls totally reminded me of the Qat Lady.

Lunch with Mom I had the calamari appetizer at Red Lobster.  I didn't eat it all.  Mom assumed that meant I didn't like it.  I assumed it was fried and I should pace myself. 

Slow beginning to the cooking madness  After the shopping trip, Mom came home and took a nap.  I came home and started making lists.
I am planning Christmas Eve Dinner for Aunt Barb who will bring her own food, Uncle Tom, Mark who is a chef and therefore intimidating to serve food, Irmghard, and Maximo who gets plain roasted sweet potato.  Maybe Aunt Barb will like one too.  I'm planning Christmas Brunch for Uncle Jerry, Jim and his girlfriend and my family.  Brunch is easier because it's only one course.  No appetizer.  Maybe strawberries and chocolate pieces for a nosh after, but maybe not even that.

Play time We headed over to my parent's friends condo which has a sweet view of the river.  We played around up there for a few minutes and then headed out for dinner.
Our theater selection of the night was Snow White by The Ensemble Theater.  As with last year's Cinderella, everyone came out of this play a winner.  No one was left out, even the bad "Aunt Queen" and Mirror Mirror.

After the play we headed back to the Condo-with-a-view for a night cap.  The view really is spectacular.
 Now imagine this picture if it were taken by a camera better than my cell phone!

More list insanity  After the wine had calmed me down a little, I came back and took another crack at the shopping list.  The problem was like five dishes needed cucumbers and several needed walnuts.  How many do I need altogether.  So, like the Qat Lady, I made a list organized by section of the grocery store.
Tomorrow morning before Dad and I head out, we'll cross off all the stuff we already have at home.  How much salt and Cinnamon does a girl really need?

Cincinnati Christmas - 60* on Wednesday!

I woke up and it was raining.  Guess who's not going for a walk with Marge.

Mark and his lovely wife came to pick me up and take me to the mall for shopping!  I was just along for the ride and to visit.  Mark's wife is one of the better shoppers I've ever met.
My favorite stores ever!  Lego and The Apple Store.  I didn't get anything at either place.  But there were presents purchased.  Bonus lesson of the day: don't let a one-year-old suck on the power chord for your MacBook.

The mall, and the Apple Store in particular, was a zoo.  Just like yesterday.  I was able to find one more thing for Mom.  It's looking now like maybe I need to get something else for Dad to even things out.

After exhausting ourselves shopping, we headed down to Kentucky so I could see more family. 
Obviously I couldn't wait to see this guy.  He was in a pretty good mood most of the night.  He is a crawler now.  Really fast.  I took some other pictures but he was zooming through them.  Hee hee. 

For dinner we headed over to see Cousin John and even more family.  We ate Skyline.  Every time I turned around, Mark had another beer for me.
It's always Skyline time in Cincinnati!

When I got home Dad and I did a crossword for a while.  He accused me of making some mistakes.  Lies!  He screws those things up much more than me. 

I eventually sent him and Mom off to bed so I could wrap presents.  I thought I was all done until I saw one more big package.  It's a tennis bag for Dad.  At first I was all "I'll take it out of the box Amazon used for shipping".  I quickly realized I couldn't just wrap it without a box because the shape would be a dead giveaway.

I was all "how and I going to do this?".  And then I was all "challenge: accepted".
 I actually had to move all the throw rugs out of the way to have enough space.  It's a good thing Mom had an extra tall roll of wrapping paper.

WIN for me.  Challenge: surmounted.

Cincinnati Christmas - Day 1 (Tuesday)

Oy!  I hate packing.  I finally gave up Monday night and decided that I'd take fewer clothes and plan to do laundry.  Really, my brain just turned off and couldn't plan anything else.

Crack of dawn -  Convinced myself to get out of bed.  Emptied all the old, or spoiled or will-be-spoiled-by-next-week food from the fridge and took out the trash.  Have I ever emptied this fridge before?  I then traded some hilarious texts with Neighbor Steve (former neighbor Steve?) about the closing for selling his condo.

Slightly after the crack of dawn - Neighbor Gib came to whisk me off to the airport.  Gib used to work for Delta (Northwest!) and his wife Mia still does.  Both had warned me the airport would be a zoo.  Especially security.  I planned a few extra minutes so I wouldn't feel stressed.

Arrive at the airport ::Looks around:: Where are all the people?  I walked right up to the security checkpoint.  No waiting.  They had to wait for me to get my photo ID out and load the e-ticket on my phone. 

Sit at the airport.  I was back in Concourse B for this flight.  Concourse B involves this little tunnel with all these neon lights.  Every time I go through it I feel like that tunnel is Minneapolis' answer to the tunnel at O'Hare airport which is like an acid trip.
The O'Hare Tunnel - from here
I didn't get a picture of our tunnel because it's way less interesting than the one pictured above. 
Once I got to my gate I realized there is nothing in the B concourse.  You have to leave the concourse if you want a cup of coffee.  So I sat around and entertained myself by taking pictures with my phone.

On the plane - I was "moved up" from 11C two rows from the back to seat 6C WIN for me!, and then no one was in the seat next to me.  Second WIN for me.  My flight attendant was Kenneth from 30 Rock.  No joke.  This dude looks and sounds like Kenneth.  He was really nice.
The flight itself was nice for the first little while and then bumpy as all hell the rest of the way.  I don't think I can blame Delta for having to fly over bad weather.

Cincinnati! Where are all the people?  I renew the question.

Skyline Time!  Mom picked me up at the airport.  We had to make one stop at the Ensemble Theater so she could exchange a gift certificate and then we headed to Skyline.
I know you want me!

Shopping with Dad  Dad met us after lunch and we went up to Kenwood so he could pick out a couple things for mom.  It was hilarious to walk into the tea store with him.  I actually felt kind of bad.  He wanted to get mom some decaf tea.  Dad knows very little about tea and was overwhelmed by the choices. 
Here's what I found while Dad was looking at sweaters.  I wonder if my Pooky Bear can make these.

Marge's Christmas Party  My parent's neighbor and our long time family friend Marge was having a get together for some of the people in the neighborhood and I came along for the food and beer to get to know my parent's neighbors.  Okay, sure.  There was actually one other person there who I knew.  We hung out there most of the night.


Cincinnati Christmas Day 9 and Day Coming Home

Wednesday - oy, how long have I been here? was a pretty chill day.

Mom and I woke up and went to Jazzercise.  Thank goodness, last one.  Then I headed back out to Kenwood for one last shopping trip with my favorite cousin. (I was with three people, they can fight over who's my favorite!)  Thank goodness also for the last trip out to Kendwood.  Double oy.

This is definitely my favorite picture of Maximo.  Mark was texting above his head.  I was singing Twinkle Twinkle or the ABCs or some such nonsense. 

Then we went with Marge for a walk down by the river in a new-ish city park.  I think I'd seen this park once before it was really built when I worked for the park board.  The full product was much nicer.

In the evening we went to my parents 'church' I use that term loosely for a Kwanza celebration.  I heard there would be drumming and was willing to go for the music.  I think that's actually why Mom wanted to go too.  Dad went because Mom and I both did.

Today I woke up late doh! and went for one final run.  I thought I went faster than my other run but the time is longer.  Either I went faster and hit more stop lights, or all that food is slowing my ass down. 

After running we went down to Kentucky to kiss the baby again *ahem* fetch grandmother for the ride home.  Then we came back and had one last turn at Bangkok Bistro, my real favorite restaurant in Cincinnati.  Yes, even more than Skyline.

It was about this time I realized I needed to pack.  That's right, I'm going home today too.  I spent a little more time on the couch in the sunlight and then headed off to the airport and Minneapolis.
Why does this store always have popcorn and the popcorn smell but it's always closed when I'm at the airport?  Boo!

I had a nice flight, it was more crowded than the way out but much less turbulence in route.  In Minneapolis there is no snow on the ground and the lakes are remarkably full of water and not ice.  We've been wondering how this will impact the New Year's Day Ice Plunge.  For now, I'm enjoying the weather!