Archives for category: Family

There’s a small window of time between December 22 and December 24 that is probably the best time of the holiday season.

Your Christmas shopping is probably not done, but your Christmas parties and social obligations are fulfilled.

Folks switch from deciding how much rum will be needed for the eggnog for their party to doubling that amount for anticipated family gatherings.

Singles, couples and young families start the trek to Grandmother’s House via planes, trains and automobiles. Entire families and empty nesters head to a warm tropical place for that One Kind Of Holiday We’ve Always Wanted To Do.

The tree lights and yard decorations are left plugged in overnight by accident. Sparkly little boxes and brown-boxed Amazon packages start to take real estate under the tree.

The office becomes quiet as projects wind down, the push to get that last 2014 report out the door. Senior level folks disappear until after the new year.

Everyone is getting tired of the holiday sweets but can’t stop baking them. Plates of them show up in the office kitchen. Coworkers slip packages of sugary gratitude to each other. Some conspire together to raid the office box of chocolates.

Some folks pound out baked goods like it’s their job, each morsel a piece of perfection. Others try to recreate their mother’s baked goods from their childhood memories then stress out because they don’t come out the same, despite explicit instructions from Mom. Dad, once again, makes his rum cake a bit too strong, so much so that children shouldn’t breathe near it.

Horrifically funny photos of small children crying on Santa’s lap show up on Facebook.

Clever Elf On The Shelf pranks are abound. An Elf drowning in flour while trying to make a “snow angel”, GI Joe holding Elf hostage… the ideas are endless. And hilarious.

But after all the baking, cooking, working, traveling, wrapping, pranking, decorating and drinking, there’s that sweet spot. And it happens right about now. Between December 22-24.

That one moment when you think you need to think about everything and then suddenly – nothing. Your brain absolutely goes blank.

It’s probably a split second feeling. Or for five seconds. But it happens.

And then you embrace the anticipation. The good anticipation.

You know something is in the air, despite whether you’re a believer of Santa or the Grinch. You can’t avoid it.

And then you can’t help but smile a little. Then breathe. Then relax.

You look forward to the evening of Dec. 24. Not the 25th, but the 24th. When no more can be done. It is just physically, mentally, emotionally impossible to cram in anymore than you already have.

You can just… be.

It may be at 5 p.m. when driving to the store for the last time or midnight as you wait for Darlene Love to perform “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)” on David Letterman’s show. Or it may be those last few minutes before you head off to bed on Christmas Eve, when you admire the glowing tree a little longer, regardless if it came out of a Martha Stewart catalog or it’s an itty-bitty sweet Charlie Brown.

You know it will happen. It’s like a big mental sigh of relief.

You’re enjoying the holidays.

11:13 a.m.

It’s quite late in the morning and I still feel like I just rolled out of bed. It was a sorta early morning, with the alarm going off at 6:15, but in usual form, I didn’t drag out until 6:50ish, after hitting the alarm 3 or 4 times (?). My roommates in college hated bunking with me. I don’t know where I picked up the habit.

I’ve been telling myself the past few days that my work schedule would be writing in the a.m., video and photo editing in the afternoon. I’ve kept up the afternoon schedule, but the a.m. schedule has been a little more difficult. Other things come up – phone calls, stuff to post to our blog/web site (which takes way longer than I really ever think it should, for some reason).

I thought I’d do a little warm up, try to crack open the brain a little so I can crank out what should be a relatively easy story that is already written in my head. Read the rest of this entry »

A look at the pictures from my sister’s baby shower in April 2011. She flew in from Italy, I flew in from Australia so we could see our parents and she could freak me out with her big belly.
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After wasting 600 words of my brain drafting a negative post recently about how mentally and physically crappy I felt about 2010 and how I’m clueless about 2011, I decided to check Twitter for a second and my friend Katie posted this article from Nerd Fitness:

Well, that was just a kick to my pity-party, Negative-Nelly ass. Kinda like when @RedHeadedWriting bitch slaps the world and tells everyone to stop whining and F’ off and go do something with themselves.

I scratched my head and that stupid foggy cloud over my head lifted. Then I started thinking about the goals of 2011 and the future. It’s all part of the way my head works when it comes to something big: panic, fret, get upset, complain then buckle down and be productive. Read the rest of this entry »

In our family, my father is known for his smoked turkey. So much so that even his ex-wife/my mother won’t turn down a chance for a bit of the juicy hickory-smoked meat. Being a man who grew up in Mesquite, Texas and barbecues weekly, if not monthly, he seems to know what he’s doing. And each year, I appreciate that damn turkey more and more.

The Bird.

Dad has been involving me in the process the past few years and I decided this year to get some video of the process, Classic Dad/Former TV Personality Commentary included. This four-part segment goes from putting it on the smoker to the first taste test, over a course of 18 hours. Dogs, snow, fire and bad Star Wars music included.

Putting the Bird on the smoker (it’s a little long; the first 1/3 of the video is prepping the grill and the last 1/3 talks about prepping the bird):

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I’ve never hosted Thanksgiving before. I’ve always headed to someone’s house for a potluck, bringing the Midwest staple of Green Bean Casserole and my family’s Texas Pecan Pie. Or I’ve actually gone to Texas to celebrate with family, lugging some vegetable from the PNW to cook up as my contribution.

This year will be no different – I’ll be headed to the immediate homestead of Cincinnati, Ohio, where the Vetrano Family reunion will be held, instead of Houston.

But as I was listening to a cooking segment on the radio this morning, I started thinking about all the amazing yummy things I’ve come across over the years that would make up an amazing Thanksgiving table, with a take on some traditional staples. Here is my list of what would be on my table: Read the rest of this entry »

15 minutes: 10:56 a.m. July 4, 2010

I went for a run today. I find I typically like to go for a good long run on holidays. Off the couch even, for a good hour or so, it feels great, no matter what.

As I got deeper into it, randomly throwing in hills here and there, mapping out my route in my head as I turned a corner or reached a ridge, making this run longer than I intended, I got to thinking about this whole patriotic/freedom thing. And I realized how thankful I was for being able to run in clean, safe neighborhoods. I didn’t have to worry about being unsafe, kidnapped or threatened. I’m a woman free to do her thing. I’m a person in a country with no rules over my head about how much skin I can show in public, how to wear anything, how to walk, talk, behave. Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve been wanting to do this little recap lately, to reflect a little on the past, but mainly to make myself accountable for the future. I’ll admit, I’m stealing this idea from the various blogs that I read.

Pursuits for 2010:

Wear more dresses

Fight cravings for coffee (which i don’t really like much in the first place) and reach for tea instead

Hit up some PNW classics – Mt. Adams, Mt. Constance, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Si, Seven Lakes Basin, Royal Basin

Raise $4,000 and climb Mt. Rainier

Climb more with the ladies

Climbing solid 10bs in the gym by June, maybe even lead in the gym too!

Build up confidence about sport leading outside

Be comfortable with doing 50 mile bike rides

Really stand up when I’m not happy about a situation

Try to be more patient with my family

Visit sister in Italy

Get as much house stuff done before the weather turns nice, then ignore all house things until winter

Accomplishments 2000-2009, (in some relative chronological order):

Graduated college

Spent a month in Europe post-college

First post college jobs: worked at a TV station as a writer, did my first ever waitressing gig and freelanced for a magazine, all during the same 6-month period

Packed my car with 99.9% of my belongings and drove 3,000 miles from Cincinnati to Seattle for first real job as a reporter and real life

Learned about life in small town community; learned that no matter the size, community is community, with all its bitches and pleasantries

Thought I moved out here to be an artsy writing brooding type; found out that I’m more of an outdoors, outgoing, adventure,  photography type

Moved from being a journalist to what I probably should have done initially – public relations (and still trying to figure out that one.).

Loved stories about Indians and their cultures as a kid; now find myself adoringly working for them as an adult

Gotten considerably more bitter over time

Managed to tweak back, tweak shoulder, tweak knees, tear a miniscule wrist ligament and tweak shoulder again. Getting old is a bitch.

Tried hard to not have the heart trampled on; probably suffering some because I haven’t let it happen enough

Never in a million years thought i’d do this: Buy a house on my own

Never in a million years thought i’d do this: Become a landlord

Never in a million years thought i’d do this: Become my own DIY plumber, electrician and general fixer-upper

Learned how to mountaineer, rock climb, road bike, mountain bike and practice yoga

Completed a few sprint triathlons

Learned to SCUBA, went to Hawaii

Learned girls-only trips around the world are fantastic

First close family member passes away – grandfather

Got back in touch with family values and morals

I may live 3,000 miles away or farther from immediate family, but you can never escape them

Three Days of Celebrating Grandpa

Wednesday 6 p.m. Oct 21

gmagpaI’m sitting in my grandparent’s home office in Houston and drinking coffee out of the “Grandpa Ohio University” mug, while Uncle Tim calls old friends and neighbors. I’ve started to look at pictures of him, but have to back away. It’s hard. He was married to my grandmother for 63 years. He went peacefully in his sleep after a long hard year of illness and being in and out of the hospital. What started out with going into the hospital for a broken hip turned in to a year of him fighting like hell to keep on pushing his will to live for his family and mostly, his wife. While his hip got better, the doctors diagnosed him with a bevy of issues, such as pulmonary fibrosis and a form of leukemia. The poor man was on oxygen from the day he entered the hospital on October 5, 2008 until he passed away October 19, 2009. Prior to that fateful day in 2008, he’d been taking care of Grandma, who is in the early stages of Alzehimers. He was paying bills, cooking meals and keeping the house going.

Today, more than a year later, and almost a year since I’d seen him, I’m writing up notes to speak at his funeral, while making a CD of music for the visitation.

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