Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

The 12-Week Break

Hey everyone!  If you’ve been checking up on me, THANK YOU!

I’m a-okay and unfortunately did not take a 12-week break from blogging because I hit the Super Lotto.

I overindulged for the entire 2011 holiday season….


…. then headed to the California coast until the holidays were officially DONE.


I took complete and total advantage of the time off from work…off from blogging…off from all responsibility.  And, it was glorious.

To ring in the new year…I headed to the desert.  Some people find the desert bare and ugly. I find it amazingly beautiful.  The Palm Springs / Palm Desert area of California is one of my favorite places to visit.


Hello Desert!   Oh how I have missed thee…

IMG_5068 The battle of the UNs #10 and #11 were conquered bright and early on this mountain.

Next up was the Rose Parade…

IMG_5113  IMG_5145

There are two things that are not shown during the TV broadcast:

1) The before-parade craziness….


and 2) the after-parade mess….combined with religious fundamentalists on roller skates, dodging the trash and crowds.

IMG_5197 IMG_5194

And then came….2012.

If you haven’t been paying attention to the paper placemat at your local Chinese restaurant,  this is the Year of the Dragon….which, according to my previous co-worker Linda Sun, is supposed to be a great year for me. I distinctly remember talking to Linda 12 years ago about how 1999 was such a bad year.  She asked my birthday and said not to worry, because 2000 was the Year of the Dragon and I would have a super year.  It follows the absolute worst year, the Year of the Rabbit.

I don’t know much about the Chinese Zodiac other than what Linda told me and the tidbits on the paper placemats at China Garden. Regardless, if the Chinese are right, the worst year ended and the best year began….and it’s been a fierce 6 weeks so far.  I’ve been working intensely, playing intensely, and ready to start blogging again.  Most of all, I’m super excited to find out what you’ve all been up to!

Oh….and I almost forgot to tell you about the final, top-secret, #12 task that I completed to officially Battle the UNs.


…it will take a while to explain, so be sure to check back for the next post.

How has 2012 been treating you so far?

U: Udon Umpire..wanted

Do you argue?  Bicker?  Have hot debates at the family dinner table?

The weekend started off peacefully…

Then, the sugar rush set in after the Easter Bunny came and filled up baskets.  

There are no kids in my house, but yeah, the Bunny still drops by…

Then came the cooking…with more sugar.


With all that glucose pumping through everyone’s veins, the family dinner table was missing one person…an umpire. 

“Did you read Sheila’s e-mail…about her dinner out with Luke?” my mother-in-law asked.

Yeah, that was funny,” I replied, remembering the e-mail about Luke eating worms

“He’s really smart for a 6-year-old, but when he thought those bean sprouts were worms, Sheila must have died laughing.”


Me:  It wasn’t bean sprouts.  It was noodles.  He ordered Udon Noodles with Vegetables.

Her:  No, it was the bean sprouts,because she said that he said that the worms were crunchy.

Me: No, it was definitely the noodles.  Noodles are slimy like worms.

Them: Yeah, Tracy’s right.  Bean sprouts don’t even look like worms.

Her:  They most certainly do look like worms…little worms.

Me: You’re wrong.  Have you ever even SEEN an Udon Noodle?  Even adults would mistake those things for worms.

So it went.  My family sat around the Easter Sunday dinner table having a conversation, bickering match, argument, about bean sprouts vs. udon noodles and their likeness to worms.

Anyone know a good umpire family therapist?

How do you differentiate between a friendly debate and an argument?  Have you ever let a small disagreement escalate too far?

P.S.  I was wrong.  It was the bean sprouts.  A nice “Happy Easter” phone call to Sheila, with an “oh by the way, what did Luke mistake for worms?” allowed us to move on to the topic of dessert.  Caf.  Decaf.  Caf.  Decaf.  Caf!!!!

Let Your Sham Rock

One great thing about living in Pittsburgh is that the people here know how to have a good time.  Pittsburgh is known to have one of the longest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the country.  I watched for about 2 1/2 hours on Saturday, and it was still going strong…


It wasn’t like exactly like the parades you see on TV, with professional floats, and bands, and dancing performances.  It was more like a big party on the street with local groups and organizations walking by.  Everyone was wearing green, blowing horns, and handing out Mardi-gras beads.

Parade 2

The most enjoyable part…was people-watching .  Isn’t this little boy just adorable with his red Irish beard?!

 Parade 3     Parade 4

After the parade came the parties.  There were strict rules this year that no alcohol was allowed on the parade route.  But, a few blocks away in Market Square there was one giant party going on. 

Market Square 

If you had any fear that the (hundreds of ) kegs might run dry at the bars…


No worries.  Simply stop in this place and pick up a suitcase of beer…

Drink Up

Some people I saw had too many green beers…and it was before 2PM.  Most of the overly-intoxicated were being taken good care of by their friends.  For others, things got a little crazy.  This guy decided it would be a good idea to jump in the Allegheny River while his friends cheered him on.  It’s cold here.  There’s been rain.  The river is flooded and brown.  A person could die in there.  DON’T JUMP!!!

Flooded Allegheney     River Jump

I have never been a wild and crazy party-girl, but I recognize that I’m far past the stage of my life when it seems like an acceptable idea to pass out on a public sidewalk.  Or spray paint my entire body green.  Or jump in a freezing cold river.  But for those who did, it was fun to watch. 

Merry Christmas.  Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Irish Santa

Do you ever act wild and crazy in public?  Was there a point in your life when you decided “I’m too old to party that hard.”

If you liked this post you may also like Folking Around.

My First Date With 2011

Welcome to the New Year, my friends.  I promised a recap of my first date with 2011.  So, here it goes…  But first, a disclaimer…

Some of my single friends follow dating advice columns.  Ya know, dating etiquette…what to do and what never to do on a first date.  Only, the advice doesn’t seem to work.  With nothing to lose but a little dignity, I decided to try the exact opposite.

Step 1:  Pick the Time, Day, and Place

Advice Column:  Meet on a weekday for coffee.  Or, somewhere casual where you can easily walk away.  Never meet at a house or a hotel room.  Avoid bars and places where alcohol will be served.  Never meet late at night. 

My choice:  Friday night.  Midnight.  Party at a mutual friends’ house.  Where lots and lots of booze will be available.  ‘Cause a first date meeting over coffee just never works.  Plus, I’ll stick only to champagne.  After all, champagne isn’t like real alcohol…is it?

Step 2:  Dress to Impress

Advice Column:  Pick a conservative outfit that reflects your own personal style.  Avoid all bright colors except red.  Men are attracted to women who wear red.   Don’t overdue designer labels, but dress with class.  Wear a soft fabric.

My choice:  I searched my closet high and low.  Sweatpants – no.  Business suit – no.  Strapless dress – no.  Old bridesmaid gown – ahh, no.  Everything else looked too boring or not appropriate for a first date.  Until I found…amist the sea of black…this fabo shirt…


 …no, I did not adapt it from a disco ball, but close.  Goodwill, sparkle rack, $7.

Step 3:  Reduce Anxiety

 Advice Column:  Arrive early, relax, and don’t drink alcohol.  Make sure the environment is calm and stay away from large crowds of strangers that may make your date uncomfortable.

My choice:  Drink champagne excessively and position myself in the center of a crazy party… teen idols included.



 Step 4:  Get to Know Each Other Slowly

Advice Column:  Keep the conversation light.  Don’t discuss religion or politics on the first date, and don’t talk about past relationships.  Above all, do not touch or kiss.  Avoid all contact that would be considered sexual.  Do not take your date home.

My choice I blame it on the champagne because  things are a little very fuzzy from this point forward.  I remember meeting 2011 at the stroke of midnight, immediately wrapping my arms around 2011 and receiving an equally robust hello.  And because I promised to always be truthful on this blog, I must admit that I broke the cardinal rule.  When I woke up the next morning, 2011 was still with me….you know where.  


We’ve known each other for 2 days now.  The relationship is going well so far, although I did find out that 2011 has some baggage.  I guess at our ages, everyone is going to be carrying along at least some baggage.  I just pray that the bags are packed light.

I hope that your 2011 is off to a wonderful start. 

I Wish…

Wherever you are … 

…have a very Merry Christmas.

It’s been a very cold December in Pittsburgh and my furry boots and heavy coats have already gotten quite a work out.  When the holidays are over, I’ll be ready to say bye-bye to winter.  I wish I could wish winter away.  Where is Mr. Heat Miser when you need him?

Yes, I know he’s not a real person.  But a girl can dream.  Plus, I love redheads.

I’d like to wish for 80 degree temperatures on January 2.  But since I am not Mother Nature and the Heat Miser is not my son, I won’t hold out hope.

When I use the word wish, it usually applies to things that are impossible, or beyond my ability to affect.  Like…wishing that my mom wasn’t sick.  Or that my brother was coming home for Christmas.  Or that Elvis was still alive.  Do you wish for impossible things too? 

However, some wishes do come true, because wishing involves believing.  And believing starts a chain reaction.  Believing means that you have positive thoughts.  With positive thoughts, desire and empowerment are bred.  And when you have power and desire, you become motivated to play your part in making the wish come true. 

So, the next time you say “I wish that ________,”  fill in the blank with something that is within your ability to do, or change, or help with.  Then maybe, just maybe, your wish really will come true.   

If you could make one wish this Christmas…even if it is not within your power…what would it be? 

Merry Christmas and to all a Good Night.

Twas the Week Before Christmas

Oh Christmas cookies, how I love thee…

and Christmas chocolate-covered everythings, how I love thee even more…

but the two things that I love the most about the week leading up to Christmas are:

spending time with family…(love you, Grandma)

and decorating the tree.  Every time I travel somewhere memorable, I buy an ornament as a reminder.  Each year, tree-decorating becomes a trip down memory lane.

Hello Patriot.  I remember you!  The girls’ trip to Boston, 2006.

Oh yes, NASA.  How could I forget the time I nearly missed Caitlin’s wedding because of you.

Having holiday traditions is comforting.  On Thanksgiving , I went against tradition and enjoyed the day with friends instead of family.  It was great and a welcomed break from routine.  Christmas, however, will be all about tradition. 

Christmas Eve at my parents’ . 

Christmas Day at his. 

In fact, I’m sure that we’ll have the same exact menu at each that we had last year, and the year before that, and the year before than, and..  okay, okay, I won’t type it out 40 times. 

Generally speaking, I prefer routine.  Or, planned changes.  Having a plan makes me feel safe.  I am not wildly spontaneous and don’t make major life changes unless I think them through and plan them out.  The bigger the change, the more I plan.  The more there is to lose, the more I think.  

It’s been a long 2010 and quite possibly the last Christmas that my mom will be celebrating with us.  TRADITION, you are welcome here.  No planning.  No thinking.  Just sitting back and letting the Ghost of Christmas Present take the lead. 

What are you doing this week?  Are you following tradition, or mixing it up a bit?

Blessings and More

From my table to yours, have a very Happy Thanksgiving.

On Thanksgiving Day there will be many homes across America filled with family and friends.  All will be expressing thanks for each other, health, happiness, freedom, and the other blessings of their lives. 

When my turn at the table comes to answer the yearly question of What are you most grateful for this year?…I’m going to answer honestly without repeating anything that has already been said.   If I’m last in line, and all the good ones have already been taken by the 12 people before me, I have a few things in mind that have blessed my life this year…. 

I am thankful for saunas, monkeys, hot water, tweezers, socks, funny hats, Thomas Jefferson, and lobster ravioli. 

Enjoy your day.  Also, try to focus on one holiday at a time.  There is a lot of Christmas out there already.  If you find yourself lost in a Superstore holiday display…

for the sake of your sanity…find a way OUT!

Do you frequently count your blessings, or take the simple things in life (food, shelter, and other basics) for granted?