Monday, December 22, 2008

Joy Vey

Christmukkah was a total success. First of all, Hillary made some excellent appetizers -- grilled sandwiches with brie and apples and walnuts in them and these wonderful things calls "bratzels" -- hot pretzels with swiss cheese melted on them and bratwurst on top of that. (German sausages are generally a HUGE part of all Jewish holiday celebrations, for those not in the know.)

The highlight of the evening, of course, was the gift exchange competition:

Team Berman provided the following:
-gift bag with the word "Joy" printed on it
-Elvis rear-view mirror hanger (complete with swivel hips)
-Children's book titled "To Bethlehem We Go"
-Cranberries CD "The Faithful Departed"
-angel figurine

Team Canedo provided the following:
-bottle of Bell's winter white ale
-bottle of Yoo Hoo chocolate drink
-CD single of John Mayer's "Your Body is a Wonderland"
-birthday candles
-Grands buttermilk biscuits

Can you guess the holiday carol that either of these gift assortments represent?

Team Berman came closest to the pre-determined spending limit ($20) without going over (they were at $19.52; our total was $19.45); they also provided more "gift-y" components in their assortment of clues and had a clever play on words in their gifts, whereas the Canedos were much more literal. Team Canedo guessed their holiday carol, however, and Team Berman was not able to guess theirs; also, Team Canedo did a much artsier presentation of their song lyrics. So who is the overall winner? No one cares -- we're too busy thinking about our entries in the Peeps diorama contest next spring.

Team Berman also gave Avery an adorable stuffed Rudolf that plays "Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer" when you squeeze its hoof. Avery loves it more than she has ever loved any toy, as was evidenced by the 915 times we had to hear the song on the way home from Bethesda.

Bermans -- clogging your toilet and Avery doing a Hong Kong Phooey over Sammy's head with the inflatable guitar aside...we had a great time and truly appreciate your hospitality. Viva Christmukkah!

Friday, December 19, 2008


(NOTE: When you ask your "friend" to photoshop a picture of you onto Kate Winslet's body it's probably a good idea to specify which photo she should use.)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cornhole Nation

Conscientious readers Dilettante and Dilettard have just discovered what may be the greatest Wii game, ever:

"Bags" -- which is Wii's answer to "Cornhole"

How is it possible that I am such a Johnny-come-lately to any game with such a dirty-sounding name?

Some scatologist I am.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

'Tis The Season To Bully Little Ki-ids, Fa La La La La La La La La

Subtitle: Well, she started it.

There are lots of adorable children in Avery's classroom. And one royal brat. There's always one. The one who gets in everyone else's face and the one who tells other little girls that they cannot play doll house unless they, too, have a ponytail. She's a big kid and rough and mean. A royal brat (have I mentioned that?).

This morning, when I dropped Avery off, the kid got in Avery's face. Right in her face...for no reason other than to annoy her. I said, "Stop doing that." Ten seconds later, she was doing it again. I said, "I said stop doing that!"

I then went to put a few things in Avery's cubby, turned back around and the kid had Avery in some kind of bear-hug-against-her-will and was pressing her face into Avery's again. So, I got right in her face and said through clenched teeth, "Listen...I told you to stop it and you BETTER stop it now," and gave her the meanest look I have that goes something like this:

She then ran crying to the teacher.

Christmas really seems to bring out the best in me. This reminds me of a Christmas past when I also got into the spirit of the season.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I'll Probably Blow The Whole Illusion By Referring To Them As "Crescents"

A couple of years ago, I remember Oprah Winfrey (because the last name is necessary) saying that she ordered croissants from Williams Sonoma to have on Christmas morning. This was after she had "defeated fat" and was allowing herself carbs only one day a year and thus chose this particular way in which to indulge.

I've been intrigued since then. I may not be able to afford the $50 million house in Montecito (this year), but in some small way I could feel as rich as the richest woman on the planet, if only through the magic of mail-order frozen pastry.

So, this year, I went ahead and splurged. I ordered some chocolate croissants from Williams Sonoma so that Canetto and Avery and I can have them Christmas morning (with coffee and mimosas...I'm already drooling).

We received them a few days ago (packaged in dry ice so they stayed frozen and weighing a ton...I'm hoping it's all the butter), ironically arriving on the same day that Oprah announced she's fat again.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

It's Like The World Is Out To Annoy Me

With words like "goblet". Gross.

I'm Drinking As I Write This...

There was a kid at Avery's school who was a very sweet kid (at heart), but he had a bit of a biting problem. (Sadly, a couple of months before this whole Twilight craze or this whole situation could have turned out differently...)

He had been written up numerous times and spent a lot of time in the office. But, it was never a real issue until he bit one kid in the face and it broke the skin and caused the kid's parents to threaten to sue the school if Biter was not suspended permanently from the school. (Trust me when I tell you that this is an excellent school and this was HIGH DRAMA for this place...nothing more than a scraped knee ever happens there.)

Biter's mom has another kid at the school, so although Biter had to move schools, the other kid still goes to Avery's school and I still see his mom and dad during drop-offs and pick-ups occasionally.

Such as this afternoon. Biter's mom was logging out on the computer in the lobby, so Avery and I were behind her in line waiting our turn to log out, too. Just then, Avery realized this was Biter's mom and said (pretty much as loud as she possibly could), "Mommy -- why does "Biter" (she used his real name) bite everyone?"

Fortunately, Biter's mom is a good sport and laughed about it and told me the Biter missed his friends here. Secretly, though, she was probably thinking, "bite me."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Johnny Pecker

Every so often, Avery will sing a song or mention a story that she has learned at school. She has a great memory and can recite things she's heard only a couple of times.

One character that she continues to mention is named "Johnny Pecker" (and yes, I, too, thought this was an odd choice of names for a children's character, but then figured it might be a chicken or something...)

When I asked her about "Johnny Pecker" she told me that it is in a book she reads at school. I did a google search on this (this has worked in the past to help me identify books she has mentioned) and came up with a couple of XX rated sites. I'm not kidding about that.

So, when I picked her up from school a couple of days ago, I said, "show me the book about Johnny Pecker." She walked over to the book shelf, looked at a few books, then pulled out a book about an ant. I leafed through the book and it was all about an ant named Bart going to work. There were no other characters in the book. I said to her, "this is not about Johnny Pecker...where is the Johnny Pecker book?" and she kept insisting the ant book WAS the Johnny Pecker book. I keep insisting that it was not. Finally, she took the book from me and pointed to the cover.

The author of the ant book? Bonny Becker.

Lessons here:

1) Never doubt her. Never. I've learned this lesson repeatedly.
2) Don't look up "Johnny Pecker" from the work computer.
3) Be thankful that I did not ask her teachers who "Johnny Pecker" was.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Dude. Totally.

I totally love the song "If I were a boy" by Beyonce and R. Kelly. And not just because we almost named Avery "Beyonce"...

Monday, December 08, 2008

(Off-Color Headline Removed)

On Sunday morning, we drove down to the Ritz Carlton in Pentagon City to see what was marketed as a "life-sized gingerbread house", featuring eight foot walls and more than 200 pounds of candy. (Since our little one has assembled gingerbread houses for the past two years and is just fascinated by them, we figured this would be a must-see.)

Let's just say that whoever promoted this thing is an LLPOF*

This was a creativity-lacking, over-marketed, gigantic piece of crap (not unlike Britney Spears' music career). It was not free-standing, as we had expected...just sort of a broom closet with the walls covered in gingerbread rectangles. In the center of each rectangle, someone had stuck on a piece of candy with frosting. (And by the way -- I would estimate that maybe, MAYBE five pounds of candy was used -- nowhere near 200 pounds.)

Thanks for ruining Christmas, Ritz Carlton Pentagon City.


*LLPOF = Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire

Music To My Ears

Because I am such a philanthropist (read: I donated a clarinet that had been sitting in my closet for about 30 years to GMU's Instruments in the Attic program), Tim and I received tickets to the GMU Christmas Concert last night at the Performing Arts Center on campus.

We were also invited to a reception beforehand, which was also attended by University President Alan Merten and his wife. From there, we walked over to the Performing Arts Center for the concert.

This is the first year for Instruments in the Attic. I was one of about 35 people who have donated since it began (in September). So, I got my name in the program, and then the program sponsor gave a nice speech on stage and asked for those of us who donated and were here tonight to please stand up -- and then gave our names (only 5 of us went to the concert). So in the sold-out concert hall, I got to stand up and be recognized personally.

The attention-seeker in me found this to be pretty great.

And it really is a great program...every music major at GMU has to be proficient in 16 (not a typo) different instruments in order to receive his or her degree. Of course, this means they have to rent instruments or find ways to purchase them in order to practice, which can get prohibitively expensive for a student.

If you have any instruments you're not using and want to help a college kid (especially since so many GMU Music Majors go on to teach music in DC-area schools), this is a great way to do it.

Friday, December 05, 2008

New Yawk

So I'm getting grief from my partner in crime (ahem...Dori) for not posting about my recent trip to NYC. I get intimidated writing about this stuff because I'm afraid that I will not do it justice -- it is so much easier to write about minutiae.

In list format for some reason, here goes:

- drive on Friday afternoon took only 4.5 hours door to door. Arrived with worst sore throat of my life. Dori, being a certified aromatherapist and herbalist got me stoned and I soon forgot about the pain. (ha ha -- that's not what herbalist means, you silly people). She gave me throat soothing tea and essential oils to rub on my neck. Then she made me a great dinner and then we read through the "crazy letter file" that I had saved from back in the time that I worked for the ORGANIZATION THAT DOES NOT HATE FREEDOM. For having to change plans completely due to mah durn sickness, it was actually a really fun night.

- woke up feeling fantastic on Saturday. We took the train into Manhattan and met John and Mer at Bubby's in Tribeca for brunch. A little kid ('bout Avery's age) walked by the booth in which we were sitting. I glanced at him, then looked up at his dad and was like, "holy crap -- that's Jon Stewart" (not out loud...I'm not that ridiculous). He and his wife and two kiddos came in to eat. Dori had just mentioned that she was going to be his second wife, so it was a coincidence (or was it, homewrecker?) that he was there. We pondered the idea of walking over to his table and asking if we could possibly get a picture and if he said yes, handing the camera to him to take OUR picture. C'mon -- you know he would have found that funny. As it was, we decided that he would probably rather just have a nice brunch with his family.

- from there we walked over to Tribeca Cinemas for the Big Apple Film Festival. My friend, Meredith, was starring in one of the fims being screened, so we got to meet the writer/director/other actors. Plus, Tribeca Cinemas is just such a cool urban space. Not that we were biased, but Mer's film was easily the best of the six or eight films that we watched.

- Mer and John went home after that, because Mer was leaving for California the next morning and had to pack. Dori and I headed out for drinks in the West Village. We went for cocktails at The Blind Tiger and The Slaughtered Lamb (we hate all animals, apparently) and then had to find Taco San Loco (long story).

- Back to Bubby's so Dori could try their pie (she's a connoisseur -- all 115 pounds of her). Bubby's got high marks on their pie.

- Met back up with Mer and John at Tribeca Cinemas for a big closing night party. Lasted all of about an hour and then headed back to Summit. (Which, by the way, is one of the most charming little towns, ever.)

- Sunday morning, Dori and I drove back into Manhattan to meet her friend, Jessica, for brunch at the Blue Ribbon Bakery. Brunch was fantastic and Jessica is hilarious. I loved her within about three seconds of meeting her (the first two seconds were touch and go). She's a poet who is published in some great poetry magazines (not surprisingly, I'm nowhere near smart enough to know the names of these publications), and she had an excellent story about a tofurkey. 'Nuff said, really.

Headed home after that. Made it in 4 hours and 15 minutes. Really a nice and easy drive. There is absolutely no excuse for why I don't make this trip more often.

She Can Invite Friends Over To Play With Those And Her Collection Of Glass Shards

Avery wrote and decorated her first letter to Santa a couple of nights ago. That explains why every centimeter of our house is covered in glitter.

Sweetly (or strategically), she begins the letter by telling Santa everything that she is going to get for him (pretzels, cookies), before asking for what she wants (such as "more knives"). Honestly...she said that when I asked her what she wanted for Christmas..."a big bag of M&Ms and more knives."

(scratches head)

Thursday, December 04, 2008


In addition to this work week making my head feel like it will 'splode, (, this week at work sucks further because my very favorite co-worker is leaving.

He's the guy in the office that has a way of making everything fun, who gets along with everyone, and who is respected by everyone because he really knows his stuff.

Tomorrow is his last day and I've been in a bit of denial this week (helped along by the insane workload mentioned above).

I've always done a good job of staying in touch with former co-workers and am sure it will be no different with him (especially since he and his wife live very close to us).

Whatevs. Still sucks the big one.

Is Indonesia The Real MILF Island?

Loyal reader Amanda gives us the following headline today:

Indonesia pushed to mediate MILF talks

Who knew it was world news worthy? And I suppose the better question is why haven't they asked me to participate? (ha ha ho ho hee hee chortle snicker titter wheeze guffaw laugh chuckle har har).

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I Was So Excited About Places That Offered Free Validation Until I Realized What It Really Meant

I finally added an application to count visitors to my two blogs. I've been meaning to do this forever...seems like such as waste that I've been blogging since 2004 and didn't add this until yesterday. (Especially since I am one of those people who desperately needs validation. Lots of validation. Really...I'm not kidding. Validate me.)

And here's the deal -- in one day, my counter registered more than 2500 hits on Brutalism and get ready for this....ten on the Dilettante blog. (Not unique visitors, mind you, but hits...)

I feel the love! Thank you, readers and faithful commenters!!!

Monday, December 01, 2008

It's Not Just A Job, It's An Adventure

Since Avery had such a fantastic first race experience doing the Goblin Gallop, I was so excited to register her for another. So on the Friday after Thanksgiving, she was all set to do the "Run with Alan Webb" at Reston Town Center to raise money for the Neediest Kids organization. (Alan Webb is the Reston hometown hero who holds the American record for the mile -- 3:46 -- the kid is a machine.) Because we were so excited about how much she loved her first race, we had invited her Grandma and Grandpa and also Aunt Lisa, Uncle Rob and cousin Cameron to watch her, too.

We showed up at Reston Town Center, got Avery's race number secured on her jacket and got her and Canetto all lined up with the other runners to begin the race. Seconds before the gun went off, Avery began having a tantrum. She took off at about a million miles an hour in the opposite direction of the race course. Somehow, she managed to tear her hat off and then in the ridiculous tantrum-style run that she was doing, her mittens also flew off. Tim looked back at me and burst out laughing, then ran after her.

Somehow, my 30 pound daughter managed to run to Talbot's, yank open the (very heavy) front door and race to the rear of the store and into a window display, where she retreated into a far corner and tried to hide from her dad. (I was outside documenting the entire thing on film while simultaneously wetting my pants.) Tim ran after her into the store and a saleswoman said to him, "you know, we really don't like kids climbing into the window displays," to which Tim replied, "you know, that's a coincidence, because I really don't like her climbing into the window display, either."

Tim did manage to get her out of the display, but she never did do the run. A few minutes later, she said to us, "I'm sorry I was so cranky this morning."

Still no idea why the tantrum and the absolute refusal to do the run...especially since she did seem to enjoy running (as fast as she could away from us, but running nonetheless).

Life Is Good.

Even though it started out with me being so sick I could not get off the couch and go to Thanksgiving Dinner, this was one of the nicest and most fun holiday weekends in recent memory.

I did join my inlaws at their house after dinner (Tim and Avery were already there), and we did our traditional British cracker thing and then exchanged Christmas gifts (since no one will be together at Christmas). We had such a nice time and Cameron (my 9-year-old nephew) and Avery had a blast together.

On Friday, Avery was scheduled for her second race at Reston Town Center. (Note: "scheduled to run" and "actually ran" are two different things...a separate blog post with photos will follow). We did stay at the Town Center for the annual holiday parade and that was fantastic. Krennie and Jack came back to our house late that afternoon and together we made a gingerbread house and ordered pizza. It was so much fun and so low key.

Saturday, it was back to the dentist for my remaining two tooth extractions. (And further humiliation for bringing a disc man to drown out the noise. I accused the dentist of being jealous of how retro-cool I am as he proceeded to mock me.) All I have to say is that laughing gas may be the best invention, ever. Saturday night I all but finished my Christmas shopping and then Sunday, we had brunch with the Bermans.

This is my kind of holiday. Low-key, no travel, seeing a lot of different people, and spending a ton of time with Canetto and Avery. I am so in the holiday spirit.