Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Winter Thaw...

This snowflake looks way too cheery for how oppressive the weather was last week!!!

As last weekend was approaching, the thermometers were dipping into the 20s, then the teens, then a final threat of a possible 0.  You know what I said?  We're out of here!  And so we went!  I scooped up my kids and took off to California where the temperature was a dreamy 83 degrees when we landed in Burbank!!!  It was heaven.

Hello California...notice the attire...BLISS!!! ;-)

Our purpose was to escape the cold, visit family and just plain THAW!

We had some spontaneously fun activities...

We had an adventure in Griffith Park on a Faery Hunt  in the rustic trails of the mountain.  The kids enjoyed the interactive activity and spectacle of faeries and trolls and gnomes popping out from behind trees and under bridges and following the storyline.

Then we enjoyed some great Authenic Mexican food in West Hollywood at El Coyote.  You might recognize it from Prop 8 fame last year where one of the owners donated to the cause and then the West Hollywood crowd went into a tizzy over it and did some boycotts, etc. Delicious and funky fun atmosphere.  It's a great W. Hollywood institution!

The kids couldn't get enough of swimming and being free of their 50 layers like they have here to survive.  I loved not having to bundle them up and just letting them play outdoors for hours on end!

Oh, also, one highlight for our family is reconnecting to our roots.  My family is Jewish and whenever we are out there on a Friday, I always look forward to the singing and challah and grape juice and the ritual of gathering at a beautiful table for Shabbat dinner.  It's so fun for the kids to play with their CA cousins.

This was taken with my phone...oops!

On Sunday, we had a great time with our Simi Valley family!  The kids were so excited to see their grandparents and cousins.  Grandpa took all 3 kids to the park, while grandma and I tried to recreate my Moroccan B'steeya and sort of failed. Oops!  It's a good thing it was just a practice run for her dinner in a few months.  Better luck next time! ;-)  (Sorry, no Simi pictures this time.)

On the steps at my Aunt's in LA

Old friends reunited!

Then we headed to Las Vegas to visit some old friends, old, old friends that we adore from our time on 67th and Broadway days.  Rose and Sonny have been so good to us over the years and it looks like time may be coming to an end for our darling Rose, so a visit while she's still well was appropriate.  It was a short visit, but a good visit.  We hope to fit a few more in, ok?! (hint hint!)

Surprise visit to Rose on her 87th Birthday!

A trip to Vegas isn't complete without a visit to the Strip.  We had fun with our dear friends Kyndra, Lexie and Sterling hopping around to all of the attractions we could fit in.  We hit the Aquarium at Mandalay Bay, the Fountains at Bellagio and the festive seasonal Gardens.

Sophia's dream! A real chocolate fountain.

Happy Chinese New Year!

Wesley & Lexie--can't wait to fast-forward 15 years from now!  ;-)

It was a great trip!  We felt happy to find the sun, but were even happier to come home to daddy and the comforts of home! xoxo

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Christmas Card 2008

A funny thing happened this year--I got all caught up in Christmas and the hustle and bustle that I never produced the perfect Christmas card.  Usually, I put a lot of thought into the production of a clever card and blurb about our updated life, but this year, I was just too in the moment of all of our holiday events, that it just never got done.  As the weeks were rolling along into December, I was buying into the media buzz about the tanking economy and thought wouldn't it be funny to recycle one of our cards from year's past and just update some of the items from it?  I have a stack of over runs of postcards from 2006 when I was pregnant with Luke and we were chopping down our tree.  I could have just printed some stickers of Luke and stuck them in between the kids, added a few current facts on the back and called it "recycled!"  We had a few laughs about the prospect of doing this, but then I just couldn't spend the time to be so witty and was thinking it would probably take about the same time as procuring a new card, not to mention money.   Then I came across a picture I took of the kids in Central Park on Thanksgiving Day.  I joked with the kids that it was the "money shot" and explained to them what that meant.  Literally, of all the photos I took of the kids together, it was the only one worthy of a print!  I started thinking;  I could still go "green" because several years ago, when I was preparing for our annual card, I bought two different styles of cards and enough in each design with the thought that I'd return the losing design.  Well, I did try to return all 15 boxes, but since they were seasonal, my favorite "red bullseye logo" store wouldn't take them back and so I was stuck and have been storing all 15 boxes of cards in my Christmas stuff for the last 4 years.  Brilliant, I'll just print pictures and marry them to the cards and call it good.  Aside from being dated looking, it was good.  And it still took a lot of time. And it's still my top 3 things about Christmas that I love so much--receiving your cards and letters!  With Facebook and the blog, I wasn't sure I could whip up anything you don't already know, so I just signed most of the cards to add that personal touch.  Afterall, isn't a blog the ultimate in a perpetual Christmas letter?!  I was surprised this year that the return of sends to receives was about 80%!   So, now I did my part of going green for 2008.  2007's effort was a little more substantial, but every little bit, yada yada yada...

Thank you for keeping in touch and I promise a more contrived card next year! 

xoxo  The Smiths

Wesley 4, Luke 18 mos, Sophia 7

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Might As Well Face It, You're Addicted to....Facebook?

(Post by Evan)

“I can stop any time I want to,” is the phrase we’ve all heard from many who have addictions. Most of the time it’s not true. As much as I hate to admit it, I recognize that I have had addictions over the years including everything from pistachio nuts to video games. I just discovered my latest addiction: Facebook.

I spent a wonderful weekend with friends in the Berkshires where I enjoyed relaxing on the ski slopes and chilling. (A casual mention of the -6 temps might be appropriate here.) When it was time to leave, I dutifully cleaned up, packed, and loaded the car for the return trip. During the multiple runs to the car I was breaking a sweat, so I hung up the ski parka I was wearing by the door while I finished the task. As you have probably surmised, I forgot to pick up the parka when I jumped into the car. What does this all have to do with my Facebook addiction? Tucked away in the upper left pocket of the parka, was by Blackberry Curve.

Now many people would be upset about losing their mobile phone access. There are plenty of phone addicts. Just witness all those who walk around in public with the Bluetooth earpieces plugged in. I found that while not having my phone was inconvenient, I also found it kind of liberating. The worry of someone calling me from work to ruin my holiday was magically erased. However, rather than using it as as a phone, I realized I use my Blackberry more for the mobile Facebook application to update my status and check up on my crew of FB regulars.

I felt a little more lonely now, especially since my family was out in California. I wasn’t in agony by any means, but I kept on wanting to reach into my pocket for a quick fix. I never realized how many times a day I used it until I didn’t have access. The good news is that I didn’t have to wait too long to get it back. My friends brought my parka home with them on Monday evening to New Jersey. I drove to their place after work on Tuesday from my office for the happy reunion. My Facebook activity should return to normal levels now.

[Update: I discovered later that my Blackberry had developed a new problem. I have to reboot it every time I want to use it now. At 2 minutes per reboot cycle, I think my Facebook quick fixes will be severely diminished….]

Monday, January 12, 2009

What Happens in Vegas... a rockin' good time! Last weekend was a long anticipated trip to Sin City to celebrate one of my best friends, Kyndra's birthday! She was converged upon by two coasts with Allison representing California. We miss the days of all hanging out in NY.

The weekend was chock full of fun activities and lots of "chick chat."  

Of course.

The original Charlie's Angels (at least one of us is...LOL)

Highlights: (the mentionable parts, at least)

In 'n Out
Nail Therapy
Mamma Mia Sing-a-long 2am style! (complete with Tide stick microphones!)
Making Fondue -- cheese AND chocolate!
Uncontrollable giggles and giddiness 
Switch Restaurant at the new Wynn's Encore Hotel


Cirque du Soleil's Beatles LOVE show at the Mirage!!!! <---highly recommended!

Happy Birthday, Kyndra!  And many more to come...AND reasons to celebrate!!!  COT 4-EVA!!!

On the flight home, Luke had a celebrity babysitter.  Richard Belzer from Law & Order was enchanted by Luke and didn't mind the toddler attention. The funny part was, I was oblivious as to who he was until I could tell there was a little buzz and chatter about him an hour into the flight then it dawned on me he was a celeb.  Luke even kept helping himself to his bag of Blue Chips-one by one.  He couldn't have been nicer about it!  It was entertaining watching the reaction of basically the whole plane since they all recognized him.  Luke also passed out magazines to all the passengers in rows 1-5.  Back and forth to the galley to retrieve more from the most cordial flight attendant, Edwin.  Thanks, JetBlue!  Plus the legroom is awesome!

One more indulgence:
Chocolate fountain--Bellagio