Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Christmas Blizzard

The weather meteorologists forecasted the Christmas Blizzard to be the worst storm to hit the Twin Cities since the Halloween Blizzard in 1991. I'm not sure if the storm lived up to the hype of that legendary storm since most Minnesotans were ready for the yards to be snow covered. Nonetheless, this was a huge event that people talked about for weeks.

Here's how it went:

Tuesday, December 22nd: People actually got a bit crazy. At home, when there's a 20-percent chance of snow, people flood Walmart so they can stock up on milk and bread. I circled the grocery store parking lot twice before I found a spot. Inside, I had to maneuver between grandmas holding long Christmas cooking lists, and grumpy husbands walking back and forth between aisles hunting a missing item. Lines at the checkout were long. People don't generally get that excited about getting "snowed in" up here, because that just never happens. But this was about as close to the milk-and-bread-at-Walmart hysteria that happens down South as I've ever seen up here.

Wednesday, December 23rd: Snow started falling in the afternoon. Big, fluffy flakes in 20-degree temperatures. This was enough to make people get in gear and make preps to take off work on Christmas Eve or drive to their destinations. When I came out of the grocery store (yes another shopping trip), the flakes were coming down fast and furiously and the roads were starting to fill up with snow.

Thursday, December 24th: Since we live in one of the best little towns in Minnesota, our roads were plowed by 5 am. Dave got up an hour before I had to leave to snowblow and shovel out the driveway and sidewalk so I could get to the garage to get in my car. At this point, we had 14 inches total on the ground. The weather report said we got 9 inches during the night. Made it to work in an hour and fifteen minutes, which isn't terrible. It snowed on and off all day, but it stayed fluffy and pretty. Bad roads in Brooklyn Park, though. Got home that night and decided to forego getting out in the snow again for the Christmas service. It still came down.

Friday, December 25th (Christmas Day): Snow kept falling on and off, but the temperatures started rising. That's not a good thing. By mid-day, we were seeing a sleet or rain and snow mix that turned to a yucky slush on the sidewalks. You almost cannot use a snowblower on this stuff because it's so slushy and it clogs the thing up. So instead of taking about an hour to get the snow off the sidewalks and drivewalk, it took about two and a half. (Thanks Dave :) Our Christmas dinner guests are natives of Northern and Western New York and hence, used to lake effect snow... so needless to say this did not hamper their drive to come eat.

Saturday, December 26th: A gray, yucky day and temperatures started heading south. The slushy snow turned into snow concrete by late evening.

Sunday, December 27th: The snow concrete that wasn't removed from roads has created sheets of ice on several city streets. It's amazing how hard that stuff gets. Temperatures fall and the wind chill is below zero. Icicles that are normally part of the springtime have hardened back up. My commute on Monday the 28th was worse than any during the blizzard.

The wind wasn't bad, but the storm did leave us with a bitter cold and more snow. We have big piles on the side of the streets that will most likely stay there until late April.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Best Christmas Light Display Ever

This Christmas light display is at the end of my block and it made me stop and do a double take on my way home from work one night.

My first thought was "Aw. Someone is putting up Christmas lights and they have a Santa hat on. Aren't they in the Christmas spirit?"

Then, "Are they hanging off the side of the roof?"

Finally, "ha! That is awesome!"

The lights outline one side of the house and the rest is piled on the ground. At night, it totally looks like someone is in the middle of putting up lights.

Merry Christmas folks!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


It's truly incredible how many things you need for a baby. Equally perplexing is how many things manufacturers market insisting this is something you have to have for your baby.

Dave and I have spent the better part of the past several weeks going through items and setting up registries. This took far more time than we initially thought. Registering when you get married is fun. You pick out patterns and equipment and go through scanning items you think will look good in your house and items that will add to your kitchen.

With a baby, it's much different. You have to think about safety and practicality. No, the over-hyped JEEP stroller will not fit in my car. Nope, this brand of crib has the highest rate of recalls. And nah, this carseat will only fit a kid until they turn x months old.

Dave and I are both information-oriented people. We work in news gathering information, so it's only natural that we usually think the more we find out... the less we actually know. After four hours of looking at cribs online one night, I decided we needed more help here. So, we called the baby planners.

In case you haven't heard of this new profession, it's about where wedding planning was 10 years before it became a popular and accepted profession and Jennifer Lopez glamorized it in the movies. They have their own certified organization. They sent out a weekly recall update. They help you with whatever you want. No, you don't turn it all over to them....unless you are willing to pay for it. Instead, they help you organize registries, information, appointments, birthplans, daycare, and installations. They cater to two types 1) working professionals 2) people without family nearby. Dave and I fit both categories, so this was a natural fit for us.

We met with our baby planners a few times to talk about we products we wanted and where we wanted to get them. We went through several questions ranging from the condition of our sidewalks in our city (rough, old and uneven, meaning a regular stroller would be much harder to operate), the size of my car (dictates car seat size), the size of our nursery (thinking cribs, monitors, etc), and our habits (we travel alot. So everything we need from a pack-n-play to a sling to a stroller to a carseat needs to be portable and versatile). After all of this, we got a 7-page spreadsheet with the three top choices each category divided up by safety and need. Convertible carseat? Choose from these 3 brands & types. This was truly awesome.

We spent about two hours at Babies R Us, one at Target, and maybe two on Amazon setting up our registries. The overzealous Babies R Us woman we'd spend 4 hours and come back several times to make decisions. Are you kidding?! Who has time for that? This after giving us a long spreadsheet saying we needed a long list of items that included a wipes warmer and a rubber duck.

We spent a bit more time adding to registries online, but I can't say enough good things about having guidance in this entire process. We are also enlisting the planners to help with our wierd childcare issues. (Do you know how hard it is to find someone that keeps a kid to 9:30 at night?! and with a varying schedule?!)

So scoff if you may, but I firmly believe going to the experts in this case is time and money well spent.

Monday, December 21, 2009

First snowstorm of the year.

Our first snowstorm of the year hit nearly two weeks ago and ushered in a week of bitter cold temperatures. It's one thing to go to negative temperatures in January when you've had a month of twenty-something temperatures. It's entirely another to go from 47 one week to -5 the next. After one of the warmest Novembers on record, this was a tough transition to say the least.

On the day the storm hit, I get home from work to find Dave adamant about getting a Christmas tree. For a nice Jewish boy, he's pretty passionate about Christmas trees. Since we didn't have time to go cut down our own, we had planned on throwing our support to a boy scout troop or charity. Since these groups all have the good sense to shut down during what was supposed to be a record snowstorm, we wound up hunting down the perfect fir at a Home Depot. Surprisingly enough, we weren't the only ones out buying a tree in freezing temperatures and flurries.

We found a nice Frasier fir and it smells up the house very nicely. Merry Christmas, folks!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Who cut the cheese?

Today one of the stories on the assignment board that I just had to have was a lady carving a 500 pound block of Wisconsin cheddar into a Minnesota Viking. These are the kind of stories I really get a kick out of. I mean, who does this stuff?
Apparently, Sarah, "The Cheese Lady" does. She's been carving up cheese for 15 years all around the country. She's carved up everything from Brett Favre as a cheesehead to an astronaut at the US Air and Space Museum. There's something rather ironic about Sarah carving Wisconsin cheese into a Minnesota Viking, and several people noted it.
Sarah says cheddar cheese carves up the best, and it's much like working with clay. The difference? "You can't make a mistake because you can't put it back. If you do make a mistake, you get to eat your mistake."
Yum. Good thing I'm not a cheese carver.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Belly with an attitude

In the middle of the Christmas rush, I haven't had much of a chance to write.

But this was so good I couldn't pass it up.

This week we hit 27 weeks and everything was good at the routine check-up. When you go in monthly for a checkup, it all becomes rather routine: urine test, weight, measure, miscellanous advice on this is what's next, baby's heart beat... with maybe something random thrown in there that makes parents-to-be coo and smile or maybe grimace and look at their partner with that, 'oh, didn't know that would happen' look. Routine is good. We are happy with routine.
This week, the nurse held monitor to my growing belly to hear the heartbeat. And when she did, the baby hit the monitor in the exact spot where she put it. It was a hard enough hit to make my stomach visibly jump and the monitor move. She looked at me, we laughed, and she said something to the effect of 'you've got a little stinker in there.' Then, she put the monitor back on my stomach in the same place, only to have the same thing happen again. We laughed, and she decided to move the monitor to a different area to hear the heartbeat. Apparently junior liked this much better.
I think he or she was definitely showing off a nice little Scotch-Irish temper.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Annoying Christmas Carols

What's the number one Christmas song that annoys you?

I've been asking several people this question since the Christmas radio stations starting playing yuletide tunes 24/7. Here's what I've found:

4. Christmas shoes: While it has a wonderful message, it's downright depressing. Especially when you play it between Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and White Christmas.

3. Last Christmas I gave you my heart by Wham: Let this song die, please.

2. Elvis Blue Christmas: Elvis is Elvis and he's the king, I know. But hearing this song repeatedly makes me compare him to a hound dog.

1. Feliz Navidad: I know you are making an effort to be cross-cultural, but do we really have to hear this song once an hour? It's like bad Mexican food. Please, Kwanzaa musicians, if you come up with a song make it bearable because it will go in the mix too.

I tried to come up with a number five to be all well rounded, but I didn't really find any consistent answers. Any suggestions?


Tis the season for round-the-clock Christmas! I love this time of year. I love the spirit of goodwill, the thanksgiving, the reason for the season, the extra time and effort made for family and friends, the decorating, the entertaining, and reconnecting. It's warm and fuzzy and it's nice.

As a result, I tend to do Christmas in a big way. I send out more than 100 Christmas cards. I designed and ordered them back in October, but start thinking them up during the summer. I don't do birthday or anniversary cards and this is the only time of year I reconnect with several people, so I figure it's worth it.

I usually plan out my Christmas cookie plan of attack a few months out. After making dozens, I send boxes to relatives living in three other states. I love to bake, plus Dave and I never would eat all of it, so I figure this is worth it too.

I also shop for gifts nearly year-round. It's not a concerted effort, instead it's just a matter of picking up items when they remind me of someone or when they are on sale. I like putting thought into gifts. If you don't, why do it out of obligation? Occasionally, like this year, I embark on a big making-something endeavor. And usually, like this year, I regret it before it's all said and done.

To top things off, I love to wrap presents and spend way too much time making them look pretty. After all as my relatives love to tease me with my excuse, "presentation is everything."

I realized this week that maybe it's time maybe to scale back some of the craziness. I was asleep when Dave came home from work, and I told him something like, "Dave, I don't think I'm going to make as many Christmas Cookies this year. I'm too busy." And then, I went right back to sleep and didn't remember much about it in the morning. Yes, I'm sleep talking about Christmas Cookies. I wonder if Martha Stewart has ever done this.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Prairie Poster Girl

Guess what? I had no idea, but someone texted me yesterday to let me know I'm the poster girl for this year's Christmas prairie experience: www.threeriversparks.org

It's a picture taken from two years ago when I had first moved to Minnesota. I'm going to be out there a few times this year, but I cannot fit into my Victorian garb this year. So, I have a tent dress to wear instead that I plan to belt down with an apron. Sans apron, three people could fit inside of it with me.

There will not be poster girl pictures taken of that one.