So here are my New Year’s resolutions:

  • Become an early riser
  • Get Felicity to sleep in her crib at night
  • Keep my kitchen cleaner than I did this year
  • Flatten my stomach
  • Blog every day

What are yours?


Review: Apples to Apples

I just have to tell you all about Apples to Apples, because it is arguably the best card game EVER.

I played it once in high school, and we’ve played it several times with Dan’s family. Finally, last month, we broke down and bought the game.

Well, that is to say, I harassed Dan until he agreed.

We’ve played it with various members of my family 3 times since then, and few things bring me more joy! Let me share the merriment with all y’all:

Everyone has seven red cards. The red cards are nouns. Random nouns like “Mel Gibson,” “Machine Guns,” and “My First Kiss.”

There is a stack of green cards. The green cards are adjectives. Funny adjectives like “Sick” or “Sensual.”

So when it’s your turn, you are the judge. You draw a green card and read it aloud, then lay it on the table.

Everyone chooses a red card that they think the judge will like. It can be literal or funny, but it must pair with the adjective.

When everyone has passed a card to the judge, the judge mixes them up and reads them aloud. Everyone gets a good laugh, and they often inspire some incredibly hilarious, random comments from the players!

After the judge reads them all, he chooses which one he likes best.

“What the heck? This one is hilariously ridiculous!”

“Was it yours, Matt? It sounds like you!”

Matty wins again! He wins a lot, cuz he’s pretty darn funny. Brian gives him the green card. At the end of the game (which we play till we get bored, but technically you stop sooner than that), whoever has won the most green cards wins.

Here we have the green card “Busy.” The submitted red cards were “A Bull Fight,” “Industrial Revolution,” “Machine Guns,” “Antarctica,” and “Hangnails.” Matt, the judge, chose Antarctica, because it’s cool, plus it’s got lots of moving glaciers.

MY card was Machine Guns. Dang nabbit!

Like I said, some pretty hilarious things are said during this game. My favorite came after Matt read off a bunch of cards, including one that said “Lemons.” Apparently, “lemons” is one of his favorite words. Flushed with excitement, he exclaimed, “Me and Jake made a website about lemons once! It was so YELLOW, it was AWESOME!”

It’s still hilarious, and that was 3 weeks ago.

In fact, the first time I played this with Dad and Matt, I shot water out my nose for the first time ever (and I hope also the last time). It was THAT DARNED FUNNY.

So, seriously, you have to get this game. Nothing will keep you happy and healthy in 2008 like a great big dose of laughter!

Free Garbage

Let’s preface this post by saying that our apartment is less than 800 square feet.

With 2 kids, you can probably understand why I’m rather picky about what come INTO my home and what STAYS in my home.

I am very intolerant of clutter.

This doesn’t mean, of course, that my house is uncluttered, but it does mean that I drop stuff off at Salvation Army every few weeks, and that I rarely buy anything without first determining where it will be kept and whether it is awesome enough to deserve that space in our cramped quarters.

And it makes it frustrating to be on the receiving end of many Christmas gifts.

But that’s not what I wanted to tell you about. I wanted to tell you about a time that I went to Albertsons a few weeks ago.

Oh, on another bunny trail, I just have to tell you that I despise Albertsons. Particularly MY Albertsons. We have one next door to our apartment complex, and I have run there many a time to grab just a couple things when I’m in a hurry.

I’ve learned that my odds of leaving empty-handed and steaming are about 3 in 4.

Not only are their prices ridiculous and their selection atrocious, but their shelves are quite frequently empty. If I’m running to the overpriced store to grab something, I probably don’t have time to find an employee and wait while he checks in the back for more.

I pretty much always drive the extra mile to Fred Meyer now.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes!

So I was standing at the customer service desk at Albertsons to return something, and this clerk comes by and shoves two plastic packages into my hands.

“Want ’em? They’re free! They’re Rice Krispy Treat cutters!” Before I could answer, she ran off.

I was floored. First of all – RICE KRISPY TREAT CUTTERS? Talk about the ultimate useless kitchen item! Who in their right mind would make Rice Krispy Treats – a not-terribly-fabulous dessert with no food value whatsoever – so often that Rice Krispy Treat cutters would be a logical addition to their gadget drawer?

Second, what was with the assumption that I wanted them??

She came back a few minutes later, and I handed them back to her.

“Um, I don’t really want these.” I said.

“Oh, they’re free.”

“I know, but I still don’t want them.”

“Are you sure??”

“Yes, I wouldn’t use them.”

“Well, you could give them to your friends!”

“No, I don’t think my friends would want them either.”

“Oh. Okay…”

Does this make me a freak? It seemed to me like a disgusting display of how stuff-oriented our society has really become. To think that she had a hard time even UNDERSTANDING why I wouldn’t want them.

I wanted to say, “My garbage is free, but I still take it down to the dumpster!”

Maybe I should have.

Christmas Has Left the Building

It’s all packed away!

[sigh of relief]

The funny thing about Christmas is that when it comes it makes you feel all warm and cozy, and when it leaves it makes you feel all clean and aired-out. It’s kinda nice.

I asked Ariel to help me put everything away. She quickly agreed, and spent the rest of the time playing with the beads that had been on the Christmas tree. I can’t say I minded, though; isn’t this what memories are made of?

But look, everything Christmas in our house is in this tub! Isn’t it beautiful?

Of course, the reason why it all fits in one tub is that we have less than 800 square feet. I wonder if some day I, like my mom, will have a good 15 boxes or so to lug downstairs every December. Hopefully not quite that many. But I would like my home to be a little Christmassier.

Notice that total word improvisation right there! Impressed?

The Best Christmas Ever

This Christmas started with a lesson learned.

Last night, I stayed up until after 1 am. As I mindlessly browsed the web, I came across a post about how to fall asleep quickly and sleep deeply through a mild form of self-hypnosis.

It sounded easy, and I thought, You know, I need to get up at 6am tomorrow morning to make Candy Cane Coffee Cake. This could be perfect!

So I went to bed and did what it said – basically, you were supposed to close your eyes and stare at the little lights that flash around under your eyelids for one minute, then lift each limb for 30 seconds, letting it drop down naturally when you’re done, then do the same with your head.

I did each step, then lay there blissfully and let the sweet relaxation wash over me. It felt wonderful! I drank it in, waiting for sleep to envelop me. And… nothing. I spent almost the entire night lying awake with my eyes closed or in a half-dream state, never successfully sleeping.

In the end, I got 3 hours of sleep last night, and that only because Dan got up with the girls and let me sleep in. I felt like someone had pulled a prank on me.

Needless to say, I had coffee this morning. And nobody had coffee cake.

But once I got some caffeine pumping through my veins, everything was much better, and Christmas morning officially started.

Aunt Suzi bought Ariel a little wooden nativity for Christmas. She loves it! I love it because it is lead-free, and, apart from a couple shepherds’ staffs, plastic-free.

She played with it while I prepared breakfast – sans coffee cake.

Felicity waited patiently – she was so smiley this morning!

Ariel loves fruit – and scrambled eggs! She couldn’t wait!

After breakfast, Dan read the girls a Christmas story. Errr… he tried to. The stories were a little long for Ariel’s taste, with not enough pictures, so there was too much page turning to finish one. Oh, well!

Our gift for Ariel was a toy cell phone. We knew that she would love it more than pretty much anything else we could get for her, so we decided to go for it, despite the fact that it was another plastic toy. She was pretty happy!

She also sneezed.

After Ariel went down for her nap, it started snowing! We haven’t had a white Christmas here in Portland since I was 5 years old! What a magical addition to the day!

After coming in from photographing the bush, I commented to Dan that, with our fun, happy morning and no let-down from presents (you can’t be disappointed if you already knew you were getting nothing!), this was the best Christmas I had ever had.

Dan agreed.

Tasty Tuesday: Salsa Verde Chicken Burritos

Hope on over to Makeshift Meals for this week’s Tasty Tuesday post!

A Junkless Christmas

‘Tis the night before Christmas,
And all through the house
Not a present is wrapped
For my beloved spouse.

The stockings aren’t hung
In our home anywhere
And under our tiny tree
The counter is bare.

The toddler is nestled
All snug in her bed.
Tomorrow, she won’t
Play with phthalates or lead.

And Dan’s playing WoW
(As he does when he can),
While I sit here blogging
And nurse Fiffy Ann.

I’m not in a hurry
To wrap or to stuff.
Just look around –
We have more than enough!

Why tear wrapping paper
To shreds in a flash,
Then haul out three bags
Of Christmas-themed trash?

Why bring in more plastic
Or another cheap toy.
For those aren’t the things,
That bring us true joy.

My Ellie has one gift
To open Christmas morn,
And to open it, no paper
Will have to be torn.

Dear Fif has no gift,
But she’s too young to care.
We’ll get her one soon;
No rush – El can share!

As I look at the toys on the floor
I must smile,
For I know that their number
Won’t grow for awhile.

So I exclaim, as exhaustion
Robs me of my sight,
“A junkless Christmas to all,
And to all a good night!”