Thursday, December 22, 2011

Together Again!

Pete and I finally made it to the movies to see the new Muppet Movie! I was apprehensive at first, there has been allot of crappy Muppet stuff floating around in the last few decades. Even when we went to Disney last year, the Muppet Experience totally crapped out, not even Disney seemed to care about the Muppets. But I must take my proverbial hat off to Mr. Jason Segal - AMAZEBALLS.
Not to insult Jim Henson's son, but I think it really took a Muppet to know a Muppet. Someone who truly loved and understood what The Muppets were all about and that was Jason Segal - A life long Muppet Lover. This movie has been his brain baby for years and years and I think he delivered just what all these babies of the 70s and 80s wanted, a REAL Muppet movie. Not a remake of a pirate movie or a Christmas Carol. A real original script where the gang bands together to come out on top in the end.
Even though it's still hard to listen to Kermit because it makes my heart ache for Jim, they really tried. The jokes were back to Muppet standards, the plot was smart and the musical numbers were fun and catchy.
I think whoever was in charge of The Muppets (Don't want to outright blame Disney or Brian Henson) lost site of who the Muppets were. They tried to gear the jokes towards children and the plots were recycled. They lost what made them so special. When I was younger I didn't understand half the jokes in the original movies. I didn't know what the hell a Presbyterian was??! But they were magical. They were talking and dancing frogs and pigs!! That's all we needed. The jokes were more geared towards the parents and when I saw my Dad laugh, I wanted to laugh. It was something we could watch together and both enjoy.
After Jim Henson died the magic went with him and suddenly The Muppets were unknowns. Sure the true fans stayed loyal and still loved them, but we wanted something new and were constantly disappointed. In the last 10 years out of all the children I nannied, NONE of them knew The Muppets on their own. I had to introduce them to all of them! So Sad. They can tell me every Pokemon character, every plot to all the Star Wars Movies and recite every Harry Potter book, but they don't know who Kermit is. It's not fair, why did Star Wars get to prevail??
This day and age the world has gotten a bit rougher around the edges. Not that The Muppets aren't edgy but to an 8 year old today, they do seem babyish. The Muppets are funny without hurting feelings. They don't rely on beating the crap out of each other or hurting someone else's feelings to be funny. They are kind of like puppet Ellen DeGeneres. They just make you feel good if you give them a chance to dance!
But now, with the release of the new Muppet movie, it's like they have a whole new lease on life!! Kids were seeing the previews on TV and seeing stars like Selena Gomez in the preview (So Smart) and they were relating to it. They had no idea what The Muppet Show was but if it was good enough for Selena Gomez it was good enough for them. Grown ups began to remember why they loved the old gang so much and children started to get interested. This isn't Elmo we're talking about here, Elmo is for babies as my goobers pointed out. The Muppets are for bigger kids. They were right to know the difference between Sesame Street and The Muppets but until now I think they were one in the same to them.
The movie was a wonderful ride. It was an adorable story that paralleled exactly what was going on in real life. The Muppets were back to their old tricks and it was so great to see the set of The Muppet Show up on the big screen. We laughed at the gags, we cried at Rainbow Connection and we actually clapped at the end ( I HATE when people do that by the way).
Seeing this movie through me right back to 1987, sitting on the couch with my parents, eating burnt popcorn out of a Florida Gator plastic cup. It was like a giant hug from my past, and right now being all preggo and emotional there wasn't anything I needed more. I went right home and hugged my old Kermit doll, the one with the pilly fur and missing tongue. I missed you buddy.
I left that theatre feeling so grateful for the trip down memory lane and so thankful that my children will get to experience The Muppets the way they should be. I pray that this helps them pick up again. I pray that when I take my own goobers to Disney The Muppet Experience will not only be fixed but added to. So thank you Jason Segal for keeping the dream alive. And Thank you Jim Henson for being the amazing, genius dreamer that you were. Your Magic Lives On In Our Hearts.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Secret Is Out!

Boy? Girl? Mermaid?
Well, I don't think it was that much of a secret. I have a feeling my lack of drinking and dropping off the face of the earth for a while kind of started rumors. Not to mention the "thing to do" right now is be preggers, so really I'm just following it "It"crowd. Or maybe I just really want to get a good jump on crossing things off my 40 before 40 list! In fact I'm killing two birds with one stone, because becoming a mother (#1) has forced me to finish a regimen of vitamins! I have been a Nazi about my prenatal vitamins and I think I have only missed 1 or 2 days in over 13 weeks! So I can go ahead and cross #10 off my list too.
Seriously though it feels really good (and Uber strange) to have it out in the open. It's like we can't take it back (not that we could) and it's all over (Even though it's just begun). It's a very strange feeling that I'm only just starting to embrace.
Unfortunately with friends and family there have been allot of miscarriages around and it was always in the back of my mind, it still is. It never really occurred to me that a woman could just get pregnant, and have a baby. Just like that without a miscarriage. I forget that a healthy pregnancy is the Norm, not a miscarriage. Even after our second ultrasound and hearing the heart beat we were still a little apprehensive about telling the world. By then our family and close friends knew but it felt scary to put it out into the universe. And by universe I of course mean Facebook.
There will always be things to worry about, I know that will never stop. But if I don't sit back and enjoy the ride I will miss all of the fun!! So far everything is looking perfect and they say we are right on track so that is what I will focus on!
It was an easy first trimester especially compared to some of my poor friends. I heard so many horror stories that I was convinced something was wrong because I wasn't living with my head in a toilet! I think I was just lucky and I am so grateful for that! I've said it before, I never win anything and nothing really ever seems to go my way the first time around so I really beat the odds with not being sick! I mean it was no picnic. I constantly felt hungover, I couldn't stand the smell of ANYTHING, I always thought I was going to throw up but never did, I didn't poop for weeks, I couldn't sleep at night and I had ZERO appetite. The only thing that made me feel better was seltzer water and watching Ellen Degeneres. Seriously, who knew she was cure for morning sickness??
Pete has been beyond amazing. So supportive and encouraging. He is reading up on his Daddy books and trying to learn as much as he can. Even though I have raised children for the last 10 years, I still need to brush up on the basics. How much do you want to bet that my Mary Poppins Nanny magic will disappear when it comes to my own child. All this time people thought I had the magic touch, but maybe it only works on children not of my womb!! Can't think like that...
We are going to find out the sex. A. I'm such a planner I really don't think I could just wing it when the baby gets here. and B. I wouldn't want even a second of disappointment when I see my baby for the first time. I fear that my "mothers intuition" would take a wrong turn and I would be convinced it was a boy and start bonding with my son. Then when "he" finally arrives and they tell me it's a girl, I just know there would be that split second heart brake and I can't take that. So for our first child at least, I definitely want to know the sex. I'm sure everyone has their own feelings about it and I'd be really interested to find out why you did what you did and for what reason!
I feel like I am training for a marathon now. I am just an information junky and would love to hear any stories (Only the good ones. Yup - No more horror please) about the birth of your children or your pregnancy! As soon as I get my energy up it's off to prenatal yoga and our first childbirth class. Can't wait to see Pete with that Sympathy belly on! He's going to be such an amazing father and I am so grateful to have him with me on this journey!! We are 13 weeks down and the clock is ticking until June. I always look forward to summer, but this summer will be like no other!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Chopping #5 Off The List!

That's right, I am just flying through this 40 before 40 list! Look at me go! In case you don't remember (you really should be taking notes) #5 on my list was chopping down my own Christmas tree! Thank you Very Much New Hampshire! We actually bought a house down the street from a cut your own Christmas Tree farm! Or as Pete likes to call it "Get it yaself trees"
What a fun and super rewarding new tradition we have started! Usually we would pile in the car and head down to the IHOP parking lot to fight the masses for a $75 Blah tree that was already half dead. NEVER AGAIN!
This was so fun and sooooo easy! They provided saws and dollies to haul your trees back to them where they shake all the dead needles off and bind it all up for you! $45 got us entertainment for the afternoon and an almost 10 foot tree!!

There certainly was an air of "Hunter/Gatherer" as we waded through the pine tree forests. Every time I thought we saw a good one, it seemed to have already be taken or had a group of small children running towards it. You had to be quick and determined. At first I didn't really enjoy the idea of "killing our own tree" But then when I thought about the THOUSANDS of cut trees in those IHOP parking lots that don't get used, this seemed like a way better idea. And what a happy little life it lived, raised by a loving family with a dog and children, with a beautiful view of a barn and lake. Not too shabby. Now it lives with us.
We had the perfect spot to put this massive tree, right in the nook by our stairs! That way we could climb the stairs to put the ornaments on top and of course our star. We still needed a ladder for the front though. Because it wasn't shoved against a wall we had to make all the sides even!
Every year my favorite part of the holidays is getting out the ornament boxes and unwrapping the toilet paper to each ornament. It's like... well... Christmas! I never know which one I'm going to get and what memory it will evoke! I have my favorites from my childhood like the Czech glass ones and the babies in the walnut shells. There are my squirrels and polar bears which I collect like an addict. The racists ones from Pete's childhood. And the engraved ones that Pete started to get me the year we started dating to document all of our Christmas' together. Each one is so special and SHOULD have a place on the tree.
However this year we decided to go all Potter Barn on this tree's ass. Every year our tree looks the same, because every year we put the same ornaments on. This year we decided to go with a theme, a woodland theme! Since we have this giant farm house in the middle of the woods, it seemed fitting.
I must say it is the most gorgeous tree we have ever had, like EVER! It is covered in feathers and squirrels and mushrooms and all sorts of woodsy goodness, though as my sister pointed out, while cute, the felt penguin should not have made the cut. She's right. We have never had a tree like this before. It brings so much joy and warmth into our home. we can't help but sit on the couch and repeatedly say "Look at the Tree! Just look at it!" And the best part is I was still able to put some sentiment into it. My walnut babies made the woodland cut, The tree skirt was made by my Mom and it was on our tree growing up. Also most of the Squirrels were given to us by family and friends so that makes them extra special!
We even themed our wrapping! We have birch, birds and gnomes hugging our gifts under the tree. With hemp and raffia for bows and a galvanized tub for a tree holder the image works so well together. Also a little tip for making fancy paper go further - news paper! I bought a $9.00 roll of awesome paper at The Paper Source (Which only gives you two sheets) and really made it stretch by using it in pieces like strips. I would wrap gifts in newspaper and then add flare with the fancy paper. It gave all the gifts a unified look and I really made the good stuff stretch!
Now the hard part is waiting until Christmas to actually open all this goodness that is taunting us! And I have to let my inner child out and not be afraid of ripping the paper. Maybe next year we will have a new theme and the woodland paper won't match. I have my dreams set on a "travel tree" with vintage travel tags and all the ornaments we have collected from around the world on our adventures! But that's next year, for now I'm gonna cozy up to my furry woodland friends, and Pete.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Little Christmas Cheer

Christmas is here!! I love the Target commercial that is on now. The parents are saying goodbye after Thanksgiving dinner and thanking their daughter for a great time. When she closes the door and turns around the whole house has been decorated for Christmas and her husband is in an ugly sweater drinking eggnog. It really does feel like in the blink of an eye after you loosen your pants from too much turkey BAM! It's Christmas!
Well we LOVE Christmas around here and this is our first Christmas in our new home and we couldn't be more excited to dress it up and start some new traditions as a family! In preparation for the big tree event we started small with making some Cranberry/Kumquat garland, a few decorative pieces and I also made Pete his very own advent calendar! They were all fun to make, inexpensive and easy!
First the Garland...
We really should have used fishing wire but we couldn't find any so thread worked. We tied a match stick (with the sulfur part taken off, so it was just wood) to the bottom of the thread to catch the berries and then with a needles started to thread cranberries and kumquats. Usually I am very OCD when it comes to things like this and it has to be exact, like 27 cranberries and 1 kumquat REPEAT. This year I decided to chill out and i just strung however I damn well pleased. We made about 4 of them and other than Hurley trying to eat all of them, I think they came out great! We had to hang them off the chandelier to keep them away from Hurley until we had the tree, but now I may have to make more because I kind of liked how they looked!
Decorative pieces...
This was easy because most of the work was done at Thanksgiving! I just swapped out the orange leaves and Fallish things for pine cones and greenery. The cranberries and acorns still look great and I added a squirrel - of course! Also my forever a Girl Scout aunt, showed us all of the awesomeness we have in our own back yard! So by cutting a few branches and berries we made a really pretty piece to add some festive charm to the corner. But because it is real, you do have to keep it in water to keep it alive! we also kept it high up because we didn't want Hurley eating the berries. Damn that Dog. We also added some berries, and greenery to our lanterns and around the windows.
Advent Calendar...

This I was particularly proud of! Again, super easy. All it took was some match boxes from the dollar store, some pretty Festive paper, a glue gun and some candy! First you empty the match boxes (save the matches you'll always need them!) and tape them together starting with 9 and then decreasing by two each time. You should have 5 levels. Then wrap each layer in pretty paper and tape or glue it on. Hot glue the levels together and with a marker or number stamps, add the numbers 1-25 on the outside of the match boxes. Fill with candy, toys or little fortunes/love notes. It's a really special way to count down to Christmas!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Thanksgiving to be Thankful for!

Thanksgiving is uber important for my family. On my mother's side of the family - The Drapers, the tradition has gone back 5 generations according to my Grandfather and not much has changed. Though we don't have finger bowls anymore (don't talk about it in front of my Grandfather) We do have a very similar menu to what he had as a child. We always have place settings, sit boy/girl (no married couples together), eat with real silver and my Grandfather carves the Turkey.
The Drapers do Thanksgiving the way it ought to be, I'm pretty sure my Grandfather gave a tutorial at Plymouth Rock about how to carve a turkey and why we must also have sausages served along side it. When I was a child we had Thanksgiving in my Grandparents basement. I think there were about 50 people there, well that's what it seemed like from the kid's table. When I got a little older we started to go up to Jaffrey NH to my Great-GrandMummy's and the table would stretch through the sun room into the house. We would play in the secret passages and barn and run in the fields until our pumpkin pie came bursting out of us. Then years later my Aunt Kim and Uncle Kip took over the hosting in their gorgeous, open concept home in Groton, Ma. That's really where it has been held for the longest time that I can remember. The best years are when our Maryland family makes it up, usually every other year and we have the whole clan together, which can reach to over 30!
For me, Thanksgiving isn't just another holiday, it really represents why my family is so amazing and reconfirms how lucky I am. It's like a recharge for me. My mother passed away just days after Thanksgiving when I was 17 and it is a really hard time of year. The only thing that really makes it bearable is being with Drapers. We have had so much loss in our family, that we are bound tighter than any other family I know. Cousins aren't just cousins they are like siblings, and my aunts and uncles are more like parents to me and that goes for our extended Draper family as well. I can't help but be moved to tears every Thanksgiving, no matter how many of us can come. I look around that table and the tradition and love basically punches you in the face. I wait for it all year. It's really a time to remember my Mom and others that we have lost, it makes me feel closer to them knowing that we are carrying on the tradition. And it really helps me prepare for the Holiday season. Though it's a happy time of year and I love it, it also brings allot of sadness. So for me, Thanksgiving is like the start of a hibernation in a sense. The way a Bear eats as much as possible before the snow so it can hibernate and get through the winter. I fill up on love and family and "Mom-ness" on Thanksgiving and it helps me get through the rest of the holidays without her.

But this year my Aunt Kim had rented out her Groton house, having moved to Hull Ma. It didn't seem that we would have a place big enough for the clan to gather. Then it dawned on me, CHELLO!! Pete and I just bought a giant house that is begging for a Thanksgiving dinner! And so, Pete and I were able to cross #6 off the list of 40 before 40. We got to host a big Thanksgiving dinner, small fro Drapers (16) but big in general!
This was a HUGE deal here! (Thank you Kim for taking this on for so long!!) Not just the physical aspect of figuring out how to arrange tables and cook food but also keeping my grandfather happy. Now that he has discovered email, I felt like I got one every ten minutes. "Remember the real silver.... I must insist on drinking from a real glass... The laid pudding needs to cook for 4 hours.... Should I bring my own Bourbon... Are you making the place settings?..." It was allot to keep up with, but that's what makes it so special.
We pulled it off beautifully. It was an amazing day and it all seemed to run so smoothly (with LOTS of help!) Pete smoked a Turkey on the grill to free up the oven and our amazing neighbors let us borrow their oven for the Laid pudding (that needed 4 hours to cook.) The thank you notes I received afterward from people were so touching. It really is just as important to them as it is to me and I was so happy to be able to continue it and hopefully we will be able to for years to come. Though next year we may reach 30! THAT will be the real challenge but we are ready!
Here are just a few small things we did to make the table look festive!

First were the ever important place card settings. We had plenty of wine corks saved up (Don't judge me) so I took some old Squirrel cards we had left over from our wedding (Thank you Etsy) and I made wine cork place settings. So much easier than I thought! I think it helped that I used the fake wine corks, they were much easier to cut. All you have to do is slice a small sliver off the bottom so they sit flat. I started with an exacto knife but really a big serrated knife worked way better. Then you make a slit on the top of the wine cork, big enough to slide the cards in. Easy Peesey and super cute!
We also took some left over vases (also from our wedding) and places some fake fall foliage in the middle. I found them at Joanne's Fabric. They were wire cranberries, acorns, leaves and other doodads. I stuck them in the middle with some green plant foam and then filled the outer edges with real cranberries and acorns and it was the perfect way to add a little color and a little Fall to the table! Our candle holders were filled with extra cranberries and whole nuts in their shell. It took all of 30 minutes to put it all together and it really looked great!
The whole day was allot of work and a ton of planning but it was so worth it. I think my Mom would have been proud...

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Sleeping Room

When we first moved into our new home we knew that we were compromising the size of our bedroom for the size of our living space. I mean it made sense. This house gave us a huge dining room and a living room to die for in exchange for a bedroom that really only fits our Queen size bed, night stands and a dresser. And with the slanted ceiling Pete has to duck to get into his side of the bed. But it's super cozy.
The sky light lets in tons of natural light so the room feels bigger. The way the bed is positioned, (the only place it would fit) allows us to look at the stars at night and wake up to a view of the trees and the farm next door.
All of our bedrooms in the past have been really good sizes. Large enough for our desks, TV, chairs, bookshelves, etc. But they were all in apartments, so really you needed to keep all of that in your bedroom. But now we have a whoooooole house to lay out all our crap, not just a room or two. So we made the executive decision to NOT have a TV in our bedroom. I know, I know, pick your jaw off the floor. It's unheard of. Well it was for us anyway.
Beofre, I was a total insomniac, it would take me hours to fall asleep. I would have to have the TV on for the noise to even consider getting some shut eye. And even then I would wake up multiple times because my brain would be racing and I would wake up exhausted every morning.
But now the simple act of taking the TV out of the bedroom has made all the difference in the world! I have never slept so well in thirty years! Only when we are in Maine do I get this kind of rest! Not having electronics in the room has allowed my brain to shut off. Bedrooms are for sleeping and doin' it. All that other stuff needs to find it's own space or it will get inside your head.
The best part is I have finally found the time to read again. I have read 17 Novels and numerous "how to" and information books in the last few months alone! And now my gift to you is a brief summary of some of the novels that have lulled me to sleep at night. That way you will have some books queued up when you decide to yank that monster out of your bedroom too!
All SEVEN Harry Potter Books by J.K Rowling
For YEARS Pete has been trying to get me to read these books. And as I told him time and again, "I'm not into your Dungeons and Dragons Crap!" (Side note: My husband really isn't into any of that I just thought that's what Potter was) But then my goobers that I nannied for really started to get into them. We couldn't go anywhere without a book or two in toe. They became absolutely absorbed into this world and they were so sad that I had no idea what they were talking about. So I promised Ben that I would read the first one. And really that was all it took. I was hooked. I read a few books in between just to keep my head clear, but really I just zoomed through them and loved every single second of the ride. I may done it years after the masses but I did it on my own time and was able to watch the Movies as soon as I finished the book! I swear i was dreaming in Potter but it was worth it!
Sunday At Tiffany's By James Patterson
It started out with promise. A little rich girl spends her Sundays having tea and window shopping at Tiffany's with her imaginary friend while her high falootin mother ignores her. eventually she grows up with all sorts of relationship issues and runs into who she remembers as her imaginary friend. Not so imaginary. It was headed in a really great place but stopped short and didn't explain allot. I think there is a made for TV movie already hopefully that will be better.
Bossy Pants By Tina Fey
Let me start by saying I adore this woman and all she has done to pave the way for women in comedy, but I was never really into celebrity memoirs. I had heard a few good things and decided to try it out. My life would not be the same if I had not. I laughed so hard I peed a little. I seriously would keep Pete up at night trying to hold the laughter in but shaking the whole bed. This book is really just a series of essays (Very David Sedaris but from a woman's point of view) about growing up, her parents, becoming a woman, becoming an actress and becoming a mother. She is so honest and open you can't help but fall in love with her over and over again as you turn each page. I seriously think I did some real internal damage from reading this book it is LITERALLY side splitting humor. Can't recommend it enough! Pete read it as soon as I was done and also loved it - just so you men out there don't dismiss this! Aaaaand as a little incentive, you learn how she got that scar on her face...
Lost and Found By Carolyn Parkhurst
I bought this book because of her last novel The Dogs of Babel - Now there is an amazing book. This one, not so much. It essentially is about a reality game show that travels the world on a scavenger hunt in teams of two. She tried to say that the book is all about the teams and the secrets they reveal as they play. But she really only goes into depth on a few people. And she sprinkles in way too much lesbian stuff, and not even the good kind! I finished it, and it was okay at best but I was very disappointed. the Dogs of Babel is an amazing book that you should definitely read but dog lovers beware, sometimes it's hard to take!
Raven Stole The Moon By Garth Stein
This book fell into our laps because of his first novel The Art of Racing In The Rain - AMAZEBALLS. Seriously a MUST for any dog lover, or anyone with a beating heart. Stein can really tell a story. This book was not as good as Racing, but did not disappoint. It's the story of a mother who is enveloped by grief after  her little boy drowns in a village in Alaska. The story starts to weave us through her emotions and desperation to learn the truth while mixing in Inuit magic and Native American stories. You really get sucked into the mystery and you cheer for her tirelessly. By the end you're not really sure what is real and what is fantasy but its a really intense ride.
Me Talk Pretty One Day By David Sedaris
Sedaris is my home boy. He's the little gay man I always wanted and ask for every Christmas. I adore his work and have read all of his books up until this one and I am sad to say this was not my favorite. Again, a collection of essays which he is so brilliant at. It started off with such promise, stories of his childhood and his father. Essays about his father's desperation to turn his family into a band and growing up as a closeted gay boy. But then about halfway through He goes to France and never returns. Essay after essay that loose their humor and travel in and out of France. They had their moments but really they would have been edited down to the better ones. I still love you David, but you owe me.
Room By Emma Donoghue
I adored this book. I wanted to hug this book and tell it everything would be okay. I wanted to cuddle this book on a rainy afternoon and watch Ellen with it and give it warm cocoa. I will never quite know how Donoghue takes such an awful subject manner and makes you fall in love with it. It's the story of a college girl that is kidnapped and kept in a shed for years and years, repeatedly being raped by her captor with no escape in sight. But the story is told through the eyes of her 5 year old son who was born in this room and this room is all he knows. Its a story of unconditional love and bravery. You can't help but melt with every word that comes out of his mouth. He is so innocent and it's heartbreaking but I promise it has a wonderful ending. I read this in one sitting. I had to make sure everything would be okay.