Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tea Party Catch Up

What’s been going on? Oh, nothing. Just a little sadistic torture minus the fifty shades of Edward Cullen. My season of discontent with all entertainment award governing bodies. Three generations of Kirschners attempting to rid their homes of clutter by passing it off to each other. And The Package. That’s all. I should probably cover this in three different posts, but who am I kidding? I might not get back here until March.

First, my dear friend Beth got me the deal of the century at Fitness Revolution to do four weeks of boot camp. Thankfully, I’m not obligated to fight overseas when I’m done. And while the fetus arms are coming along, they have got quite a way to go.

Confirmed: I no longer know how to jump rope. I’m serious. It can’t be done.

Also confirmed: The more I do mountain climbers, the more I hate them. The more I do mountain climbers on sliders, the more I want to throw a kettle bell at Dan’s head. I’m willing to go up to 22 pounds on that one if it makes him feel better.

Consolation: I may not be able to do many push ups in a row, but damned if my ass is NOT sticking up in the air like some other people’s are. (Nobody I know personally, of course.)

Additional consolation: I no longer feel like I’m going to drop one of those slam ball thingys on my head. So I’ve got that going for me. Which is nice.

What happens next? Well, I have 5 classes to go, but I think it’s safe to say, I will be just as motivated to get off my ass as I was when I started, so Melissa has some work cut out for her as my personal fitness champion. On the bright side, I should be able to zip my jeans up easier for at least a week.

* * *
Next up…as far as the Golden Globes and SAG awards are concerned…

Dear Tina Fey and Amy Poehler,
I want to have your children. Perfect opening monologue and just kept getting better. Can you please host all award shows from here on out?

Dear Jodie Foster,
I have no argument against anything I think you meant to say. The problem is I'm not exactly sure you meant to say what I think you meant to say, because you were practically incoherent. Train of thought. Please stick to one.

Dear HFPA,
I get this feeling you don’t actually watch television. Probably because you are above it. But I'm going on record to say Girls is the most over-rated show currently on television. I watch it. I occasionally enjoy it. I think Lena Dunham relies heavily on the shock value of letting herself be filmed naked. And I think you want desperately to appear hip enough to "get" it. Maybe that's the problem. Maybe I don't "get" it. I also don't get how Smash even gets a nomination over Veep, Louie, 30 Rock, Parks & Rec, or New Girl? Other notable drama snubs...Walking Dead, Sons of Anarchy, and Game of Thrones. How do these not even get mentioned and that hack job Nashville does? Lastly, there is absolutely no reason that Benedict Cumberbatch should not have won for Sherlock. Not with that competition (or lack there of). I could expect this at the Emmy's or some People's Choice Award, because people haven't seen it. But how could you ignore the sheer genius of this man playing a sheer genius? Shame!

Dear SAG card holders,
The category Best Acting by an Ensemble in a Motion Picture is not the same as Best Motion Picture. I almost want to let this slide, because I really do want Ben Affleck to get his moment since other people seem to want him to fail for some reason. And I’m definitely fine with him getting the Golden Globe and if he wins the Oscar. But Argo and Zero Dark Thirty are plot driven. Silver Linings Playbook and Best Exotic Marigold Hotel are character driven. Character = Acting. This doesn’t seem like a hard concept.

Dear Anne Hathaway,
Give any and all awards you win for Les Miserables to Eddie Redmayne. And please stop pretending your speeches are so spontaneous. Also, do not compare your career to Sally Fields. She was GIDGET for Christ sakes. You will never come close to how cool that is.

Dear Jennifer Lawrence,
Please never turn into Anne Hathaway.

* * *
On to the anti-hoarding efforts.

For the past few years, 9 times out of 10, when I show up at my grandma’s, I leave with something she’s looking to get rid of. This is great for me when it’s a cool serving piece for the china cabinet or a truck load of blue mason jars. She’s also come to a point in her life that she wants people to have certain mementos, which are often things that we originally gave to her as presents. This is also fine. But I’m telling you right now, if I get back the soap dispenser shaped like a toilet that says “Hey, don’t forget to wash your hands” when you walk by, it is immediately being wrapped up for the Cousin Christmas white elephant gift exchange. Sorry, Granny.

Coinciding with my mother’s retirement and my brother’s second exodus from my parent’s home, my father has commenced what I’m going to refer to as The Great Excavation. Much like at my grandmother’s, I’m very likely to be presented with items that have been found in the attic or basement during one of his archeological digs. Unlike my grandma’s, it is more likely to be a piece of crap from the 80s that should never have been saved to begin with (example: box of cassette tapes). Fortunately, my dad doesn’t seem to have a problem with putting them at the curb if I wrinkle my nose at him.

To top this off, Scott and I (mostly Scott) have been trying to redefine our own basement in order to fit his many Storage Wars projects. We have been pretty brutal. It actually started before Christmas when I gave a big plastic tub full of Christmas decorations to my sister-in-law Barbi (welcome to the family), moved on to the monthly culling of any toy I could potentially impale myself with if (read: when) left on the carpet, and finished up with the disposal of all things superfluous that covered the tree lawn this morning for bulk pick up. Sometimes I wonder how I get so much crap. Then I read the above two paragraphs.

* * *
Finally. Just in case you were wondering. The Package has been purchased. And just in case you don’t know what The Package is. It is the NKOTB – 98 Degrees – BoysIIMen tour. The Package will be in town June 9 if you are planning to block me on Facebook or Instagram. The Package is the best name they could have ever come up with for this event. EVER.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Tournament of Roses - Part 3

Editor's Note:  My dad is really unhappy with the seats they gave us at the parade and I think I further aggravated this when I mentioned I couldn't see Jane in my last post.  So I apologize to the person at Premiere Sports if you got an extra earful that day.

Just wanted to tie up a few loose ends from the family vacation...and I'll tie it up with nice bows around the souvenirs that we shopped for.

After the parade we went back to the hotel.  No, for the 50 millionth time, we didn't go to the Rose Bowl.  End of story.

It's January 1st, 2013 (or as The Bloggess calls it "In The Library" - so crazy, it makes sense) and you know what that means...American Girl is introducing their "Girl of the Year".  Oh, you didn't know?  You don't live in my house of many catalogs.  Well, we're also near Los Angeles and you at least know what that means, right?  Yep, just a short taxi ride from The American Girl Place. 

In case it hasn't been mentioned here, Zoe has what you might call a slight obsession with "babies".  Her Bitty Baby in particular and Kit is a close second.  Technically, the historical dolls are meant for girls 8 and up, but Zoe is advanced for her age when it comes to doll guardianship.

Morgan has an American Girl doll, too.  Molly.  She asked for it for her 7th birthday.  It stands on top of her dresser.  She occasionally lets her go to Aunt Zoe's for an out-of-time-continuum play date with Kit (Molly is from 1944 and Kit is from 1934 - in case your AG history is a little rusty).  Morgan is not maternal.  She does, however, own a rather large nature preserve of stuffed animals.  It's a no-kill shelter.  Therefore the population only multiplies.  Not unlike rabbits.

There are people of the belief that AG is a little, shall we say, pricey.  And it seems weird to them that I would submit to the mass and brilliant marketing scheme that has pulled my four-year-old into their cult.  But I have to say, you get what you pay for.  And I am paying for the sheer joy that I saw on Zoe's face when we walked into that store - her first time at Mecca.  (And she takes VERY good care of her AG's!  It's bizarre.)

Now this could have gone very badly, because once she entered Kit's room on the second floor of the store there was a moment of "I want that, I want that, I want that." But I forged ahead and said I would purchase one thing for Kit and one thing for Bitty and she could purchase one thing with her Christmas money from the great grandmas.  And while, it wasn't exactly music to her ears, there was not another word.

She picked a nightgown for Kit and Kit's dog Grace.  There was a moment when we got to the Bitty section and I knew she was going to go straight to the crib that she had hoped Santa was going to pick out for her, but they were luckily out of stock so I didn't have to go through the whole spiel about not being able to get it in our luggage and instead we got Bitty a lovely white Christening gown?  (Yeah, I don't know either. Zoe thinks it's a party dress.)

Morgan was also allowed to pick two things.  She picked a new Molly book and Molly's friend's dog Yank.  (She already has Molly's dog Bennett.) 

Just a quick side bar:  I struggled with Morgan's Christmas gifts this year.  All she wanted were these fossil, mineral, and geode kits.  Which is fine, but in comparison to AG, the short end of the stick.  Then her Girl Scout Cookie form arrived and she told me what her goal was this year...the Kindle Fire.  She only has to sell 2013 boxes of cookies.  Now, if you all want to help a Scout out, that's fine.  But otherwise, I think we have officially stepped into the technology phase of presents for Morgan.  Oy.

Technically, the AG store was just a little add on to Christmas so we asked the girls what they wanted as a souvenir.  Universal City Walk is full of stores and restaurants.  Some are your everyday Abercrombies and some are your typical tchotchke tourist traps.

Zoe had already scoped her souvenir the day before and had been talking about it non-stop since.  A pair of boots from Sketchers and a pair of flip flops from...wait for it...The Flip Flop Shop.  I'm not making this shit up. I explained to her several times what a "souvenir" was, but she held fast with the footwear (and she got an extra pair of kicks because it was buy one, get one 50% off at Sketchers).  She fell asleep with her boots on that night.  John Wayne would be proud.

Morgan just wanted...wait for it again...a stuffed animal.  So we went into what appeared to be toy store and she picked out one of those Ugly Dolls.  They sell them at Target.  They look like stuffed monsters or aliens or something.  But these were not not only ugly.  They were dirty.  Upon closer inspection everything in that store had grime all over it.  She was really disappointed as we steered everyone out of there before we became contaminated.

Luckily, the Universal Studios gift shop is outside the park.  It's clean and surprisingly economical.  I lobbied for the plush King Kong since the only Jaws items were magnets and post cards, but she went with Thing 1 and (honestly, it was REALLY inexpensive there) Thing 2.  I mean, considering the ticket prices to the park, I was amazed at the lack of mark up.  Well done, Universal.

So the only thing left to do is dole out my "thank yous".

First and foremost, thanks to Nana and Papa "SidandLeo" for pulling this all together and taking us on such a great trip that has provided us all (but especially the girls) with wonderful family memories.  I know how much preparation it takes our family of four to get somewhere, so coordinating sixteen of us seems like a Herculean effort.  It was beautifully executed and you can stop yelling at Premiere Sports now!

Thank you to every person that sat beside, held hands with, carried, played with and entertained our girls for the duration.  I know it was rarely Scott or I.  (Uncle Scott gained a mostly silent companion in Gabe to recoup his loss, which he thought was fun for a change.)  In particular, the 3MJs are absolute saints when it comes to this stuff.  Any of you want to live with us this summer? And thanks to boyfriend Brian back home who always responded back to Zoe's love letter texts!

Thank you, Scott, for not being disgruntled about the fact that you spent a traditional football day in a doll store.  You know that you are the hero for that!

And thank you, Jane Goodall, for saving chimpanzees.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Tournament of Roses - Part 2

In our ticket package, we received a couple sheets of paper with background on the Rose Parade and Frequently Asked Questions. I would like to comment on these here:

“This uniquely American event began as a promotional effort by Pasadena’s distinguished Valley Hunt Club. In the winter of 1890…they invited their former East Coast neighbors to a mid-winter holiday, where they could watch games such as chariot races, jousting, foot races, polo and tug-of-war under the warm California sun.”

This first paragraph baffles me, because (1) When did chariot races and jousting become a uniquely American event? Didn’t the Olympics already exist? And (B) Why would they choose those two particular events in 1890? Were there a lot of unemployed knights riding around Pasadena at that time? Displaced Roman gladiators?

“…a parade would precede the competition, where entrants would decorate their carriages with hundreds of blooms…During the next few years, the festival expanded to include marching bands and motorized floats…”

We jumped from carriages to motorized floats in just a few years!

“…the games on the town lot included ostrich races, bronco busting demonstrations and a race between a camel and an elephant (the elephant won).”

Umm, because ostriches, camels and elephants are so uniquely American? And who the hell would think to race these things? I’ll give them the bronco busting even if I don’t fully approve.


How long does the parade last?
2 hours from any given point.

What time does the parade start?
8:00 a.m.

However, this leaves out important information like what time I have to get up in the morning (before the ass crack of dawn) and how long will it take from the time I get up until the time the parade starts (long enough for Zoe to refuse everything in her boxed breakfast on the shuttle and change bleacher seats sixty-seven times, but not long enough to stand in line for a port-o-pot).

What are the rules and regulations along the Parade route?
Of the 15 listed on the FAQ, here are my favorites.

Overnight camping is permitted only on the night before the parade. Do not arrive before noon the day before the parade.
I just simply cannot fathom camping on a sidewalk on New Year’s Eve in the middle of downtown Pasadena.

Small, professionally manufactured barbecues elevated at least one foot off the ground are allowed on the parade route.
My family would never be able to follow this rule as a “professionally manufactured barbecue” is an oxymoron to them. Barbecues are meant to be welded together in the comfort of your backyard.

Do not bring tents, sofas, ladders, scaffolding and boxes of any type.
What is this world coming to when you can’t bring your scaffolding to a parade (which incidentally, my family does own)?

Walking in the street is not permitted.
Ummm….isn’t that what a parade is, by definition?

Prohibited items along the Rose Parade route include: weapons, sticks, poles, glass bottles and any items which may cause injury or interfere with the parade or spectators’ enjoyment of the parade.
Wow! That’s particularly vague. My brothers often interfere with my enjoyment of most things.

What exactly is the Tournament of Roses Parade?
That is, for real, on the FAQ sheet. I am not making that up. Although I find it interesting that one of the bullet points suggested it was patterned after the “Battle of Flowers” in Nice, France. So much for being “uniquely American.”

All in good fun, Pasadena. The floats are phenomenal and if you actually read the whole FAQ you learn that the Tournament of Roses pays the city $1.2 million to cover the costs and each year the Foundation gives $100,000 to community programs throughout the area totally more than $2 million since its inception in 1983.

You also would know that the entire surface of the float must be covered using a variety of flowers, seeds, bark, leaves, and other natural material. But we didn’t see any covered in hemp. Maybe next year.
And this is where I thank my parents for their extreme generosity and patience in planning this family trip. I think my dad was on the phone every day in December discussing logistics with someone. And often raising his blood pressure.
Morgan’s favorite float: Cat in the Hat
Zoe’s favorite float: she referred to it as “Bambi” but it was the one with all the wildlife animals on it

Scott and I sat on opposite ends of our group at the parade and later he asked me how I managed to contain myself when I saw the Grand Marshal of the parade. To which I replied I never could hear who it was.

It was Jane Goodall! Jane Fucking Goodall! Only the most-admired person of my whole entire life! Luckily I took a picture, even though I couldn’t really see anything other than that beautiful gray ponytail. I’m sure it would have been the same feeling that Zoe got when we arrived at The American Girl Place.

To be continued…

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Tournament of Roses - Part 1

To put a little more detail behind my recent facebook status updates and instagram submissions over the past few days.

Since Christmas 2011 we have known that my parents were taking all three families to California for the 2013 Rose Parade. It’s one of my mom’s favorite things (more on that later) in the universe and they had already gone once when my younger brother was stationed in LA and once with my aunt and uncle. So they are experts.

It’s a four-day trip, starting the day before New Year’s Eve when the Norcross contingent managed to leave a mostly clean house (miraculous) with two small suitcases containing clothes; a briefcase; a daypack with magazines, books, iPod, iPad, Mobigo, 3DS and all the cords necessary for charging and hearing; a soccer backpack filled with as many stuffed animals as possible (Morgan); and one other backpack with Kit, Barbie, Ken, and Bitty’s blender so she could make smoothies if she was hungry (Zoe).

(Oh yeah, Bitty brought her own backpack filled with changes of clothes for her and Kit. Luckily, the airport did not require us to buy her a ticket.)

Breezed through Cleveland security despite only checking one of the above bags.

Survived a five and half hour flight with 3 little girls, 2 medium boys, 3 teenage girls, and 8 adults (one of which had never flown before). Thank god for the Temple Run app and my new young adult fantasy fiction novel.

Hopped off the plane at LAX with my dreams and a cardigan. (Thanks for getting THAT stuck in my head, Mylie Cyrus.) And stepped into a balmy 50ish degrees. Cardigan not helping much. Umm, where are the 60s? I signed up for 60s! Oh well, we just left 10 inches of snow behind, I guess I won’t complain (too much).

First purchase from the hotel gift shop the next morning was a large scarf that you will see modeled in every picture of me for the remaining three days.

After a dinner at Bubba Gump’s (on the patio under propane heaters), we settled into the hotel for the night. Girls we asleep around 8 (which to them felt like 11) and I wasn’t far behind them.

In case you are wondering, Scott got up at 4 in the morning and headed out on a run around North Hollywood. He later advised against it, due to the incline that Universal City sits on, and the potential gang banging.

Our kids were up by 5:30 and ready for the breakfast buffet, along with the big busload of seniors from Sun City, also here to take in the parade.

I’m not sure if all kids are like this, but Morgan is obsessed with “favorite” things.

For example, as the credits start to roll on a movie… “What was your favorite part? Who was your favorite character? What was your second favorite part?”

On New Year’s Eve, we spent the day at Universal Studios. So of course there was “What was your favorite ride?” But there was also, “What was your favorite part of that ride?” and “What was your favorite ten seconds within that part of that ride?”

What was your favorite ride?
Mom: Transformers
Dad: The Mummy
Morgan: The Simpson’s
Zoe: Transformers

What was your favorite part of the studio tour?
Mom: King Kong
Dad: Jaws
Morgan: Jaws (sub-set: seeing how the robot shark worked)
Zoe: The man with the knife (referring to when a real actor playing Norman Bates came at the bus acting like he was going to stab someone – yes, that is my child – and honestly, it kind of gave me the heebie-jeebies, someone give that guy a real job).

What was your favorite part of Waterworld?
Mom: I liked it all (honestly, this was the last thing we did and I was tired of answering the question. I liked the diving show on Oasis of the Seas better.)

Also, we can talk our kids into just about anything…

Morgan really didn’t want to go on The Mummy, but we convinced her. And even though she started crying when the bugs exploded on us and the ride started going backwards, in the end she said it was fun. (It builds character.)
Except where T-Rex’s are concerned…

Despite the fact that when Morgan initially saw that the Jurassic Park ride was on a boat it was the first thing she wanted to go on, as soon as she found out it involved T-Rexes attacking us it lost all appeal and there was no changing her mind. Zoe did go on it, however. I’m pretty sure that it scarred her for life, along with Papa who got hit with every random water spray throughout the experience.

Seriously, EVERY ride in that park is scary. Even the Simpson’s ride has a psychotic Side Show Bob chasing you, trying to kill you. But since it was a cartoon, Morgan apparently didn’t find it as convincing. However, she did admit she is afraid of Whos (as in, the Whos down in Whoville – since they were still celebrating Grinchmas) and refused to take a picture with one of them.

So to top it all off, of course we walk though the House of Horrors and let mummies, werewolves, and Frankenstein’s monster jump out at our children right before bed time. And I am a person that HATES haunted anythings. Houses, forests, insane asylums…I have a fear that one of the people is going to actually kill me with any number of tools normally used for chopping down trees. It’s called suspensionofdisbeliefobia. Pretty sure it’s in Morgan’s DNA. Zoe might have missed that gene. (Also she was really pissed she wasn’t tall enough to go on The Mummy.)

I believe I mentioned that this all occurred on New Year’s Eve. After which we had a great meal at the Hard Rock CafĂ© in Universal City where Zoe, Morgan and Whitney first fell asleep.

We got back to the hotel a little before all our friends and family in Ohio celebrated the New Year. And surprisingly, Pacific Time shows Times Square on a tape delay, so every single one of us missed the ball drop since we were all snug in our beds not long after 10. Jet lag is a bitch and we had to be up at 4 AM the next day.

To be continued…