Category Archives: family

Why zoos aren’t usually open in the winter in the northeast

Last month, The Nephew, his mom and I went to the science museum in Schenectady to see butterflies and a planetarium show and also play with huge Lego blocks and train sets. It was very much enjoyed by all parties and the minute it was done, The Nephew’s mom and I started talking about our next adventure, but weren’t sure what it would be.

She sent me a message on Facebook not long after I’d gotten home saying that The Nephew had already planned our next adventure.

Your nephew wants our next adventure to be at the zoo! I told him it’s too cold for a zoo in the winter so we can go in the spring or summer. He said with his infinite wisdom “Mom, the animals don’t just disappear in the winter. Take me to wherever they put the zoo animals when it’s cold. Maybe Aunt Amy will know.” Impossible to argue with that!

Well, I have to agree. How can you argue with that? So I began to research local zoos.

At first, I thought of the Binghamton Zoo, which used to be open year-round when I was a student. I know this because friend R. and I used to go there, and once went the day after an ice storm and were the only ones in the zoo and it was just the best. The animals were all frolicking just for us, and I got a puma to come out of its home by saying “rrawr?” and it said, “RAWR” and came out and we had a happy talk through the wire. He seemed very engaged. He was probably lonely. Or wanted to eat my face. Debatable, I suppose.

But the Binghamton Zoo is no longer open year-round, and a lot of other zoos nearby are also closed for the winter, so I started to despair until I found…

THE UTICA ZOO!

Open year-round and a mere 90 minutes away. We would see our animals in the wintertime after all! AUNT AMY WINS!

So we packed ourselves into the car, and an hour and a half later, we arrived at…

The Utica Zoo!

Driving through Utica makes me sad. It was a grand town, once, and now it’s kind of falling apart, and the buildings have a lot of broken windows and are filled with lost grandeur. You can see how beautiful it must have been, once, though. The buildings are beautiful and stately in that old-fashioned way, and look like they’re waiting for the next act…but the next act isn’t coming, I don’t think. I think the show’s been cancelled. And things like that hurt me. I love history. I don’t like when things are thrown away like that.

On the drive there, mostly The Nephew played Angry Birds and said, “Aunt Amy! Play this level, it’s easy!” but they were never easy, and then he would sigh like I exhausted him and he would say, “Oh, just give it to ME” and then he’d solve it in a second. (I’m terrible at Angry Birds. Those pigs are WAY wily.) He also is fascinated with family relationships. “Aunt Amy, who is your mom?” he’ll ask me, and I’ll say, “Your grammy is my mom!” and he’ll laugh and say, “Oh!” and then he’ll say “Aunt Amy, who is your dad?” and I’ll say “My dad is your grampy!” and he’ll laugh and say “Oh!” and then finally he’ll say “Aunt Amy, did you know my daddy’s mom and dad are my grammy and grampy?” and I’ll say, “Yes, did you know your dad is my brother?” and he’ll say “OH!” and this always cracks him up and he laughs. To REALLY make him laugh, I call his dad my LITTLE brother. “No! He is a grown-up MAN!” he’ll say, then giggle and giggle. I enjoy that kids don’t understand that once, the GROWN-UPS were ALSO kids. This makes me smile, to think that in a child’s mind, we’ve always been this age.

So there were a few signs when you first entered the zoo saying “paths may be icy.” We were all, “pooh pooh! How icy can they be?”

The answer is…glare-icy.

Apparently, in order to stay open all winter, they had to cut back on grounds maintenance. None of the pathways had been cleared at all. There was ice and snow and SO MUCH ICE ZOMG, and of course The Nephew tramped along it merrily (and fell once, but picked himself right back up like he’s made of rubber and kept-on a’runnin’.) At one point, the path just STOPPED, and we had to tromp through the snow, and The Nephew was all “well, now we are lost in the WOODS!” and he was sort of right. But then the path started again, sort of. It got so bad I purposely walked through the snow instead of on the path because the path was slipperytown. Bad news, Utica Zoo! I realize salt wasn’t probably a good idea with all those animals. But sand? Maybe? Or don’t be open? Because you are COURTING DEATH with those paths, you guys.

Other than the DEATH-ICE, and how cold it was (we all had windburned faces and chilly legs and hands when we were done) and the fact that about half of the animals were gone (I don’t know where…I guess wherever animals go when it’s cold? Vacation? Florida, like retirees? Just inside in the groundskeeper’s buildings? Anyone know?) it was kind of an awesome zoo. You know how much I love zoos. It would take a lot more than a little ice to put me in a terrible mood.

What’s that?

You want to see photos of our day at the zoo?

Ha, it’s like you don’t even know me. I took a MILLION photos of the zoo. The whole time, I told The Nephew’s mom, “This is for a MOST IMPRESSIVE BLOG I will be writing about this adventure!” and she said, “Of course you will!” She totally knows about the bloggery. Most of my people do. It doesn’t even shock them anymore.

Let’s go to the zoo!

First we had to go to the bathrooms, and outside the bathrooms, randomly, was this loose peacock. The Nephew was all “LOOK AT THAT!” and wanted to I think either pet or ride the peacock, but the peacock was having none of that and booked it away from us. (Isn’t it pretty? I’ve never seen one up close!)

Here’s The Nephew chasing it as it walked away. He really wanted a pet peacock.

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It was all, “listen, dude, I am JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU” and The Nephew was all, “No, seriously, come back, I will play “In Your Eyes” to you on a boom box! YOU COMPLETE ME!”

Then we saw some goats. I know some people who like goats. I took a lot of photos of these fellas.

This one looked like a genetic abnormality. Therefore he was my favorite.

There were none of those little feeding stations at this zoo. I hear rumors that they all had to be removed because hooligans were breaking into the zoo to steal the money in them. This goat didn’t get the memo. He wanted me to feed him. I had no food. Only Tic Tacs. I don’t think the goat wanted Tic Tacs.

This goat looks like he knows a secret. Do you think it’s the secret of why they didn’t put any sand on the paths so we almost died like a hundred times?

This goat was chewing on a log. I don’t know why, either. But it made me laugh. He was SO FOCUSED on this. He didn’t even look up. Look at his funny pupils! This is why I love goats. They have curious eyes.

I think this is the genetic abnormality goat again. I was a fan of his.

ZOMG GOAT! Stop with the log, already, people are going to think you have a complex!

Next was a thing I loved, and I think I need to get it on a teeshirt.

I BITE! And there was NOTHING IN THE CAGE! So it was totally scary for no reason. I like that it’s in ALL-CAPS.

But then the bitey thing came out. What do you think it was? A cougar? A wolverine?

Nope.

This stork-thing. I would think he pecks and pinches more than bites. Just to be safe, though, in case his beak was hiding sharp teeth, we didn’t poke him.

This is his wanted poster. I BITE, DAMMIT!

Yes, I know. That’s a lot of snow. We’re really mired in this neverending winter up here.

Thought you’d like to see some adorableness. Here’s The Nephew taking a photo-op in front of the children’s zoo. He has many layers on. We were chilly, yo.

Yeah, I know. Worst photo ever. See, my nice camera totally died almost immediately and I had to use my phone for the rest of the day. This is a zebra. He was really far away and to get to him, you had to cross TREACHEROUS ICE. So I decided to zoom in as far in as I could and call it a day. HI, ZEBRA! (He totally finds me fascinating. Look at him checking me out.)

This is a camel I decided to call Spicoli. He seems to be stoned, and really laid-back. I think he would call you “dude” a lot and laugh inappropriately. Look, he totally has hay in his hair and he doesn’t even CARE. And he looks like he’s grinning at NOTHING. (Also, apparently in the winter, this kind of camel grows a lot of dreadlocks, and their humps droop randomly to one side or another. Just makes them look more like stoner-camels to me.)

This was some sort of peacock with a huge lacy tail. There was no sign on this exhibit so I can’t even tell you what kind. I liked how fancy it was. This peacock would ALWAYS get invited to the dance.

MERKA!

The Nephew didn’t see this eagle at first, then when he did, he was kind of tired, and said “That doesn’t even LOOK like an eagle” and I said, “No? What does it look like?” and he sighed and said, “A big bird with a yellow beak.” But later when we asked him what his favorite animal was, he said the eagle.

Oh, pretend there’s a photo of a sea lion here. They wouldn’t stay out of the water long enough for us to photograph them, but they were very cool. One popped up long enough to kind of clap his flippers at us, then disappeared again. I do so like sea lions.

Why does every zoo have Cotton-Topped Tamarins? These things freak me out, man. Where’s that stoner camel. He’d calm me down. I think he has something that’ll help me out with that.

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Snakes! This one’s pretty. I think it was a corn snake.

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I don’t remember what kind of snake this is, but the photo turned out well. Sometimes that happens.

These were gigantic pythons, and they would most definitely eat you and digest you. I even like snakes but I’m glad they were safely behind glass.

The website said there would be so many turtles and tortoises, and there was only this one. This is for Heather. She is my tortoise-friend and she said I would love this guy the most of all the turtles and tortoises. She was right, considering he was the only one. Sadly, this is not a very good photo. Good grief, why is it so RED? Sorry, Heather.

It is very hard to see, but up in the upper left-hand corner of this one is a beautiful owl. I love owls. I went “hoo! Hoo!” to him but he was all “I’m napping, lady, sheesh.”

This is not a helper mule, as much as I’d like it to be. This was just a donkey. He was pretty cute, though.

This was a HUGE Flemish rabbit. The sign says they can grow to 28 pounds. I was all “The Nephew! Come see this huge rabbit!” and he came over and said, “Aunt AMY, that rabbit isn’t that huge. He’s just really fat. I think he eats too much food” and that made me and The Nephew’s Mom giggle.

Look at this guy. He’s GORGEOUS. I sincerely want an owl. On the way home, we saw two hawks, too. It was a raptor-bird kind of day.

Look! He looked at us! He wanted to be our friend!

It’s hard to tell, because he’s very blending-into-the-landscapey, but this is a beautiful lynx. He watched us the whole time but not in a scary way. In a “bring me home!” way. The Nephew said I could bring him home, and he PROBABLY wouldn’t eat Dumbcat. I like them odds.

I saved the best for last. What do you think is best?

What’s that? You can’t see them very well? I CAN FIX THAT!

LIONS!

At first, The Nephew said, “I don’t think I want to see lions…” in a scared little voice, but then he realized they wouldn’t eat us and he was cool with the lions. This one was pacing the whole time we were standing by it. He wanted to eat our whole faces. I loved him.

I’m going to be obnoxious and show you a lot of photos of this lion. He was my best fella.

Isn’t he so PRETTY? I do love big cats.

And you know what you have to do when you’re around the lions.

You HAVE to make a lion face! (Those lions don’t even care.)

Then we discovered one of my favorite things at zoos…

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One of these “you are an animal” face-thingies! First The Nephew was a lion. You can also see Aunt Amy behind him holding him up so he didn’t fall on the little teeny-tiny piece of wood he was standing on in order to be a lion. I especially like the paws on this thing. Very realistic.

I am a scary lion! This is totally my Facebook cover photo right now, yo. This is like the best thing ever. RAWR I AM A SCARY LION (who is also holding a Utica Zoo sign, for some reason!)

Then we were cold and tired, so we hoofed it to the gift shop and The Nephew decided he wanted a scary lion thing that bit things and grabbed things but we convinced him that really he wanted a spelunker’s hat with a VERY cool flashlight built in (when I told him the word “spelunker” he repeated it and giggled – this kid LOVES learning, it is so good for my heart) and I got a NEW FRIEND!

His name is Trent. He is a very brave tortoise, and not at all afraid of Dumbcat. (Right after this photo was taken, Dumbcat randomly started purring and headbutted poor Trent right onto the floor. Oh, Dumbcat. That’s no way to treat your new housemate!) Don’t even mock my warm flannel PJs, yo. It’s going to be NINE DEGREES tonight. Where is my spring?!?!)

Then we all went to a diner and The Nephew had pancakes and french fries (which was an awesome combination, I thought) and I helped him clean up some spilled milk and I told him I was helping him because I loved him all the way to the moon and back, and he said “I love you TWO TIMES that!” and I kissed him on his little head because that made me have tears. Oh, do I love that child.

Then it was time to go home, and tonight I am ouchy from walking and ouchy from windburny but we had a lovely day. But I would recommend that you probably don’t go to a zoo in the winter that DOESN’T upkeep their paths, though. Total liability. Otherwise? Good times had at the zoo by all. Including the animals. They were probably so sad to see us go. We’re excellent zoo visitors. No one was as happy as we were. We won zooing!

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Troubleshooting and chatting it up with Amy’s Dad

Dad’s in Florida. He’s in his condo by the ocean for two full months. He left at the beginning of January and has been there, therefore, for most of the month.

Dad is bored out of his skull.

His people don’t arrive until February (my aunt and uncle, his sister and brother-in-law, are arriving then, and his cousin is visiting then, and I think he’s going to visit another cousin then – yes, my entire family has become a flock of snowbirds) so Dad’s been hanging out at buffets and the American Legion (do NOT ask him if they’ve given him a fez; he’ll just yell “THEY DON’T WEAR FEZZES!”) and walking on the beach and getting scratchers at the 7-11 and – best of all – calling me up at all hours to tell me things. Or texting me. Or emailing me weird links, like “You should read this good site, do you know about this?” and it’s MSN.

Dad said he's not doing well on the scratchers this year, and therefore I will no longer have an inheritance. Oh, well, I wasn't betting on one, anyway.

Dad said he’s not doing well on the scratchers this year, and therefore I will no longer have an inheritance. Oh, well, I wasn’t betting on one, anyway.

So I thought you would enjoy a glimpse into the type of conversation Dad and I have been having lately. You like such things, right? Right.

Oh, a thing you need to know for this to make sense…

Dad bought a laptop so he could take advantage of the free wifi in the condo. Dad’s never had a laptop before. Or high-speed internet. It’s like Dad was released into a very big playground. Or the ocean. Without a lifevest. Or a map, to completely muddle this metaphor.

So, I had the day off today. I had car work to get done, which got done a lot sooner than planned (also, goodbye, savings! sniff), so I used the day to do all of my usual after-work errands like grocery shopping and laundry and such, so I don’t have to do them after work this week. I was PROACTIVE! And when I got home Dad sent me an email to call him RIGHT AWAY so I did. (Dad + boredom + high speed internet = lots of email, you guys.)

So of course I called him. It’s a day off. Lots of time to talk to Dad.

Me: Hey, old man. What’s up?
Dad: Stop calling me that.
Me: Fine. Howdy, young lady, what’s shakin’?
Dad: Not at all better.
Me: But funnier.
Dad: Not really. I have a computer question.
Me: I will answer that!
Dad: You broke my computer.
Me: That’s more an accusation than a question.
Dad: Remember you made me put that antivirus on here?
Me: Yes, so you didn’t get viruses and no one stole your identity.

Oh, Dad would HATE this.

Oh, Dad would HATE this.

Dad: It gave me a virus.
Me: The antivirus gave you a virus. No, I don’t think that’s how that works.
Dad: No! True story! Ever since I bought it, the computer keeps shutting down if I walk away for ten minutes.
Me: Huh. That’s weird. Did you change any settings?
Dad: What does that mean, settings. No. I put on this virusy virus thing.
Me: Well, go into the settings of Norton and see if one of them says “sleep settings” or “power saver” or something.
Dad: That is SMART. Where are Norton settings.
Me: I don’t know, I’ve never needed that. Click on Norton? It’s probably at the bottom of the screen or something.
Dad: It WAS! You’re good at this.
Me: Yeah, I’m totally an IT guru.
Dad: It says I need to sign into Norton.
Me: Sign into Norton, then.
Dad: It says I don’t know my password.
Me: Do you know your password?
Dad: No.
Me: Did you write down your password when you signed up?
Dad: I did but I wrote it down wrong.
Me: Well, that’s unhelpful.
Dad: There’s something to click if I forgot my password! Should I click that?
Me: Yep.
Dad: This is exciting.
Me: SO exciting.

Look at my excited face. LOOK AT IT!

Look at my excited face. LOOK AT IT!

Dad: I am resetting my password now.
Me: Maybe use the one you wrote down, then you already have it written down.
Dad: Man, you are really good.
Me: Yeah, I’ve got brains to spare.
Dad: SOMETHING IS WRONG! SOMETHING IS WRONG!
Me: Uh-oh. What’s wrong, jellybean.
Dad: It sent me a reset link and then I reset it and then it said it was wrong AGAIN.
Me: OK, well, there’s something wonky with Norton. Try again tomorrow.
Dad: That’s not a solution.
Me: Turn the computer on and off?
Dad: That is also not a solution.
Me: Oh, it surely is. Turning things on and off fixes more than you know.
Dad: I’m just going to give up now and go watch television and think about how terrible my life is.
Me: Do you want me to try to talk you through the computer settings and see if those somehow got screwed up?
Dad: No. I HAVE TO GO NOW.
Me: OK. Bye. Love you.
Dad: Grumble grumble grumble grump love you bye.

TWO MINUTES LATER!

THE PHONE RINGS!

Me: Yo, s’up, Pops.
Dad: I got into Norton.
Me: How’d you do that?
Dad: Don’t even know.
Me: Fair enough.
Dad: What do I do now?
Me: I don’t know. Let me ask the internet.
Dad: How does the internet know about my computer problems?
Me: Because the government’s watching you.
Dad: I KNEW IT!
Me: Foolish. Because other people often have the same problems you do, if you Google problems, they can help you.
Dad: But then the government knows you’re having a problem.
Me: *sigh* Yes, there’s always that. Oh, ok, here. Someone had the same problem. I’m going to talk you through how to fix this, ok?
Dad: STOP TALKING SO FAST.
Me: I wasn’t…ok. FIRST. CLICK. ON. NORTON.
Dad: Well, if you talk slow, I just feel stupid.

(Eventually I talked Dad through clicking some boxes and unclicking some other boxes and setting some things. This took a very, very long time. Pretend there’s a musical montage here, or something.)

Dad: Is this even going to work?
Me: I don’t know. I’m not there. Try going to your desktop and changing your power saver settings there, too.
Dad: What’s a desktop?
Me: Like, if you turn on the computer, before you open the internet. On my computer, it’s where I have that big picture of The Nephew scowling because I love his attitude.
Dad: I don’t have this on a desk, though, it’s on a table.
Me: NOT THAT KIND OF DESKTOP.
Dad: I found the control center. Is it there?
Me: I don’t know. Is it?
Dad: THIS IS SO HARD.
Me: It would be easier if you were HERE and I could SEE the computer, yes. Yes, it would.
Dad: Your brother just sent me gibberish email.
Me: What does that mean?
Dad: He sent me an email that said “IDK what a good price is.” What is IDK.
Me: I don’t know.
Dad: Should I look it up online? Did he make a mistake?
Me: Oh, this is like an old comedy routine. No. It MEANS I don’t know. IDK equals I don’t know.
Dad: Why didn’t he write I don’t know?
Me: It’s textspeak.
Dad: But it’s an email.
Me: Yeah. It’s a thing people do.
Dad: You should write a whole thing out and not confuse your father, is what I think.
Me: Write him back and say LOL.
Dad: I will not say LOL.
Me: Ooh, say YOLO.
Dad: I DO NOT SAY YOLO. Is my computer fixed?
Me: I guess you’ll see the next time you don’t use it for ten minutes in a row.
Dad: If Norton ruined my computer I’m going to call them up and yell at them.
Me: Oh, they’ll like that a lot, I think. You’ll be very popular.
Dad: Your governor hates me.
Me: What? Is this related to what we’ve been talking about at all? I think I have conversational whiplash.
Dad: No. Look up what your governor said now. He wants to kick me out of our state.
Me: Shush, I like our governor. He’s all gruff and cranky and passionate about things and I think if you make him mad he’d either punch you in an alley or shoot you in the face.

SO MAD!

SO MAD!

Dad: LOOK IT UP.
Me: Oh, so he said extreme conservatives don’t belong in New York State. Huh.
Dad: I’d like to have him come upstate and say that! WE WOULD TROMP HIM!
Me: I don’t know. He seems pretty badass. He might punch or shoot you. Or give you a really dirty look.
Dad: When he runs for president you’d vote for him.
Me: Is he the Democratic candicate in this scenario?
Dad: Well, duh.
Me: Then yes, I’ll vote for him.
Dad: Who are you. WHO ARE YOU. I am so disgusted.
Me: I am going to watch television now, and write a blog post. Are you good?
Dad: Yes. Don’t tell the internet where I live.
Me: I won’t.
Dad: Or put up photos of me.
Me: Nope. Won’t.
Dad: Or tell them what I like to say or do or wear.
Me: OK. Noted.
Dad: THAT IS HOW THEY GET YOU.
Me: Yes. I’m sure it is. Go play on the beach, bub.
Dad: I might call you later.
Me: OK. I might answer.
Dad: GOOD. You SHOULD answer! If I call you ALWAYS should!

Don’t worry, interwebs, Dad will have friends to play with soon. Only a few more days. I think he will manage to retain most of his mental stability with people to interact with. Hopefully, anyway. I mean…

Crap. Gotta go. Phone’s ringing.


Hippos eat hippo bread: Christmas recap, Nephew-style.

I am finally at rest, after a day of running around like a crazy and doing all the things. Dinner is in the oven and there will soon be delicious ham and vegetables and rolls and chocolate, all provided by Mom (thanks, Mom!) and then I will go into a food coma. I have been attempting not to nap for a while. I have to work tomorrow, and I’m pretty sure if I fall asleep and nap at 5pm, sleeping tonight is going to be nigh-on impossible.

I hope you all had lovely Christmases (or Wednesdays, if Christmas isn’t your thing; I’m perfectly ok with you having a wonderful Wednesday.) Today worked out very well here in Amy and Dumbcat-land; it was a very good Christmas. Very happy all around.

This morning I went to visit The Nephew – and yes, as predicted, not a single photo was taken. Too busy hanging with my best little guy. I always do that. He greeted me at the door with an epic case of four-year-old bedhead and wearing the happiest pair of Christmas pajamas you’ve ever seen, with Santa and the reindeer in rocketships. “AUNT AMY!” he said. “Hey, buddy, Merry Christmas! Did Santa visit you today?” “YES!” he said. “Do you want to see my presents?” “Yes, I do, but I have to take my boots off first, ok?” He sighed, a long-suffering sigh. “Oh-KAY,” he said, and waited none-too-patiently for me to take off my outer layers so I could look at all of his Christmas goodies.

He got LEGOS! And an ANT FARM! And a TRUCK! And a SPIDERMAN THAT CLIMBS THE WALL! (That one confused me; I had utterly no idea how that thing was staying on the wall, to be honest. It was loud like a vacuum. Maybe it was vacuuming itself to the wall? No clue. It was pretty neat, though)…

This is the Spiderman that sounds like a vacuum. He also does sweet donuts on the wall which make Nephews laugh and laugh.

This is the Spiderman that sounds like a vacuum. He also does sweet donuts on the wall which make Nephews laugh and laugh.

…and some games and books and cars and a game for his LeapPad where he got to be a pirate and “get DOUBLOONS, Aunt Amy!” He wanted to make things with his gigantic Lego set, but it was time for brunch and that was going to be a whole thing. So we lured him away from Legos with the promise of cinnamon rolls, which he called “monkey bread” and said was his favorite food of ALL TIME! and then we had a conversation called “what animals eat.” “Do you think monkeys eat monkey bread?” “Yes!” “What do you think rhinoceroses eat?” “RHINOCEROUS bread!” “What about hippos?” “Hippo bread!” “What about nephews?” “NEPHEW bread! But also monkey bread, because it’s my favorite!”

This is The Nephew's FAVORITE! (Also universally enjoyed by monkeys, apparently.)

This is The Nephew’s FAVORITE! (Also universally enjoyed by monkeys, apparently.)

Then we opened presents. I got him books, which he was ok with, but then he was like, “Aunt Amy, is there anything else for me, do you think?” and I said, “Yes, I think there might be” and then he opened his remote-control plane and he was MOST excited and ran around driving it here, there and everywhere and laughing when it ran into people and his mom said I won because that was the longest he’d played with ANY of his toys that day. I WIN! (I do so like to win Christmas.)

This was a pretty neat plane, if I do say so myself. You could control it with your body AND a button. Very high-tech and swanky!

This was a pretty neat plane, if I do say so myself. You could control it with your body AND a button. Very high-tech and swanky!

I also got lovely presents like the most beautiful jewelry! The Nephew’s mom is very good as shopping. She has excellent taste!

Then we played Superhero Chutes and Ladders. I got to be Iron Man. (I kept saying, “I AM IRON MAN” in my best Robert Downey Jr. voice, which made me totally happy.) He wanted to be Ice Man, who was really Silver Surfer but when The Nephew says “NO! IT IS ICE MAN!” you listen to him, yo. So we Chuted and we Laddered and when The Nephew realized he wasn’t going to win he was like “I think I don’t want to play anymore” and then cheered for his mom, but then I SNUCK IN FROM BEHIND AND WON! Much like Iron Man would, I think. And then The Nephew said, “I wanted you to win all along, Aunt Amy” which was a very politician-like thing to say. Well-played, The Nephew. Well-played.

Damn you, chutes! DAMN YOU!!!

Damn you, chutes! DAMN YOU!!!

Then it was time for me to go home, so The Nephew could go to his other grandparents’ house for ANOTHER Christmas (he gets lots of Christmases!) and so I could open MY presents. YAY FOR PRESENTS! The Nephew told me he loved me and Merry Christmas AND thank you and gave me a heroic little hug with his cuddly pajamas and poky-uppy sleepy hair and my Grinch heart grew three sizes that day.

Then it was home for me, and I totally put off opening presents for another hour while I emailed and generally futzed around on the internet because a., I wanted to tell my people Merry Christmas, and b., because the longer I could put off opening gifts, the longer Christmas would last. I’m no fool!

But then it was opening gifts time. And whoo, was there a lot of opening gifts all up in here! I got money and an ornament shaped like sparkly bacon and gloves that are specially formulated for using your smartphone while staying warm, and sparkly nailpolish, and honey to put in tea (because for some reason my grocery store is hiding it, and I really wanted that while I was sick and was SO SAD I couldn’t find it) and gift cards and warm socks and super-cuddly pajama pants and lots of soap and pampering-myself things because I am obsessed with them and these solar light things that look like little frogs that I can put on my porch, and a toy for Dumbcat that’s supposed to be a mouse that runs around in a circle but he’s just confused about it and walks away from it whenever I turn it on, and a cookbook of bacon-related recipes called Fifty Shades of Bacon (hee!) and salt and pepper shakers that look like kissing penguins and lip gloss that smells delicious and pins to put in my hair to make me look like a lady and delicious chocolatey treats and all the orange Tic Tacs because I am obsessed with them and MANY MORE THINGS that I probably should have documented but I’m not the best at such things. In summation: I got all the things for Christmas. No one else got any things, apprently, because I got them ALL! (Thanks, Mom and Dad and BFF and Nanny and The Nephew’s Mom!)

Crappy photo of gifts, post-opening. I'm not the best at documenting things.

Crappy photo of gifts, post-opening. I’m not the best at documenting things.

Then I made a delicious meal, thanks to my mother, who provided all the items FOR that meal, and now I am completely all’s-well-with-the-world and watching television and lazily thinking about going to bed so I can be prepared to go back to work tomorrow. Work’s going to be quiet this week. Most people took the rest of the week off. Which was probably smart, but I’m planning on saving as many of my vacation days as I can for next year…because BAM, I’m going to need 10 of them for late May/early June, yo. You need a couple of weeks if you’re flying off to Europe to visit some of your favorite folks, you see. IN LESS THAN FIVE MONTHS NOW! I mean. Not that I’m at all psychotically excited about it or anything. NO NO NOT ME.

So. It’s been a wonderful Christmas. It made up for last year’s terrible Christmas. MORE than made up for it. Also, were you aware that sometimes, the best gifts you get for Christmas aren’t even something you can wrap? I got a few gifts over the days leading up to Christmas that weren’t the kind you wrap, or the kind you put in a gift bag – and you know what? Those gifts won Christmas. They were the kind that you can’t put a price on, because they’re priceless. Actions and deeds and kind gestures. So as much as I like winning Christmas (and I do, I SO do) – don’t underestimate the weight of a simple action, or word, or deed, especially around the holidays. They sometimes mean just as much, or more, than a gift you spent months shopping for, and wrapped in the prettiest of paper tied with a bow.

Huh. Guess you were right about this one, Grinch, you nasty, wasty wump!

Huh. Guess you were right about this one, Grinch, you nasty, wasty wump!

Hope you all had the best of Christmases, or Wednesdays. One more week until 2014. Can you even imagine? Come on, new year, let’s do this thing!


I still want a hula hoop!

Mom. Mom. Mommee. MommE. I Help with blogge today? A litle bit?

Mom. Mom. Mommee. MommE. I Help with blogge today? A litle bit?

Happy Christmas Eve, people of the bloggiverse! I know, this is posting at a weird time. It’s been a (typical, for me) strange Christmas Eve: I had to work half a day, then it was all the running around, and now I’m loafing and enjoying the rest of the day from the comfort of my couch. I don’t plan on moving until bedtime. OK, fine. I’ll probably move a little. I mean, or else I’ll get bedsores. Couchsores. Something along those lines. Right?

And who wants couchsores on the happiest of days before the most happy day, I ask you? No one. The answer is no one.

So Dad was coming up today, because he and Mom couldn’t come up this weekend as planned due to the gigantic ice storm up north. So he made a whole plan-like scheme-thing to come up today, meet me after work, drop off presents, pick UP presents, take me to lunch, and then hit the road. This is because he loves me, and I am spoiled rotten. I’m grateful for the former and surprisingly ok with the latter.

I rushed home after work (after a quick stop in the parking lot because friend K. was picking up friend A. and I HAD to give her Christmas hugs! I mean, come on, who could stop themselves from doing that?) and who did you think was waiting for me at home?

Dad…AND ALSO MOM!

She SURPRISED me!

She told her boss that my dad was coming down and her boss was all, “Then why are you here?” and she was all, “No one else is here to cover the department!” and her boss said, “No one’s here anyway. GO HOME” and so Mom DID! And got in the car with Dad and came WITH him! Aw, what a happy surprise!

So Mom and Dad brought in THREE LOADS OF GIFTS! Because, as mentioned, I AM SPOILED! One of the loads was all the food I need to make myself Christmas dinner just like they’re having at home tomorrow. I know, right? SO SWEET!

And as for the rest of it…

TAH-DAH!

Look at all those presents, yo!

Some are for Dumbcat (because he’s Mom’s grandcat so of COURSE he gets gifts!) but the rest are for me me me! Some from BFF and one from my grandmother and the rest from Santa! That’s what the tags say. Who am I to call gift tags liars, I ask you?

I think this means I have been a very good girl this year. I don’t think someone naughty would get all these gifts, would they?

(My family tends to go a little overboard with gifts. Anyone who knows me knows, upon receiving a gift from me, that it’s usually kind of out of control. I get a lot of “you went a little crazy here” emails once people start getting gifts. Here’s the thing: it’s what my family does. It’s what we’ve ALWAYS done. Christmases, birthdays, whatever. We do a lot of gifts on special occasions. It’s our thing. I have a little trouble NOT doing that. So anyone that’s ever freaked out about getting too many gifts from me – please look at that tree and realize it’s apparently genetic or something.)

Then we had Chinese food (and no one was at the restaurant and Dad LOVED that and was all, “IT IS A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE!”) and they hit the road because Dad doesn’t like to be late to get home or something, I’m not really sure.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. WHY HAVEN’T YOU OPENED ALL THESE GIFTS YET?

Because I like to make things last. If I were to open them all now, Christmas would be over! And Christmas only happens once a year, yo. You have to wait until NEXT year for another tree with all those gifts under it! So why NOT make it last?

So, tomorrow, actual Christmas Day, first thing in the morning, I’m off to visit The Nephew and his mom for Christmas brunch and the exchanging of gifts. I’ve been looking forward to this for a couple of weeks. Want to see why? Here. I’ll show you.

OMG YOU GUYS. Can you imagine a BETTER person to spend Christmas morning with? LOOK AT THAT FACE! He’s going to be so excited about gifts and brunch and LIFE!

Then after a couple hours of brunching and seeing all of The Nephew’s new toys, I will head home so they can go to Christmas at his other grandma’s house, and it will be time for…MY OPENING OF GIFTS!

That will make my Christmas Day last longer, and give me something to do while I’m watching A Christmas Story on repeat over and over. (That’s my Christmas Day movie. I’ve already watched the rest of my Christmas movies: Love, Actually and It’s a Wonderful Life and A Wish for Wings That Work and The Grinch, but the CARTOON Grinch, not the terrible Jim Carrey Grinch who looked like he was wearing a scruffy puke-green bath mat. These movies all make me cry  to a different extent. Christmas movies and cartoons make me weepy, what can I say.)

Then I will spend the rest of the day doing NOTHING. Maybe playing with my new presents, depending on what they are, I suppose. Chatting with my friends about THEIR Christmases. Then it’s back to work on Thursday! And Christmas is over for another year! Well, except for the planning for NEXT year. I’m always planning for next year’s Christmas. I want each Christmas to be better than the last Christmas for the people I love. It might be a bit of an obsession with me. I’m ok with that.

Hope you’re all having the best Christmas Eve! Even if you don’t celebrate it. In which case: I hope you’re having the best Tuesday night! I’ll come back soon and do a little gifty-gift show and tell at some point. Dumbcat says I can share his gifts with the interwebs. He doesn’t mind.

I am PRETIE, Momme! I am gud boye. I will shaer my prezents with interwebz! HAPPEE CHRISTMES EEVE INTERWEBZ!


I’ll show YOU, Boreas!

Howdy! I hope you all had the best of Thanksgiving weekends. Well, those of you that do such things. Meaning, I suppose, MERKANS. The rest of you didn’t do Thanksgiving this weekend, right? Right.

Here we are back in the real world. Well, mostly that means a month of buying anything that isn’t tied down in order to wrap it in pretty paper and gift it to others. As one does in December. I am…oh, I don’t know, about 40% done with Christmas shopping? Maybe? I should be further along but sometimes you have to wait for paychecks to come in. However! Christmas cards are done, and as soon as I’m done writing this, Christmas DECORATING will be done. Baby steps, ladies and gentlemen, baby steps.

Let’s talk about bad decision-making!

Sometimes, you make poor decisions. No, not YOU, specifically, but yes, probably you. I mean, I don’t know too many people who haven’t made a poor decision now and then in their lives.

Me? I make those decisions on the regular. Hilariously, the good decisions I make are usually mistakes. The bad decisions are the ones I agonize over and finally decide “let’s do this” and then BAM! BAD DECISION HITS YOU UPSIDE THE HEAD YO!

I also have the added problem of decision-making while under the influence of stubbornness. I am a stubborn little thing. If someone tells me what to do, I immediately want to do the opposite. I don’t ALWAYS do the opposite – I can usually talk myself out of it – but sometimes my stubborn gene sets in and I’m all “YOU CAN’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO, ‘THE MAN!’” and then look out, world, I am not using any sort of common sense to navigate. Like, none. At all.

At the beginning of November, I told my mom, “Wouldn’t it be fun to come home for Thanksgiving and surprise Dad?” We decided it WOULD be fun. So we all secretly planned it all month. And then a week before Thanksgiving WINTER STORM BOREAS raised its evil head.

O NO BOREAS NOOOOO!

O NO BOREAS NOOOOO!

WINTER STORM BOREAS (because we name our winter storms now) was supposed to be like the WORST THING EVER and dump like 18″ of snow on my whole route home Wednesday night. And at first I was all, “eh, I’ll just not go.” But then my mom started telling me I COULDN’T go. “YOU WILL DIE!” said Mom. And Stubborn Amy kicked in. STUPID BOREAS! STUPID BEING TOLD I COULD NOT GO! STUPID RUINING OF THANKSGIVING! STUPID RUINING OF SURPRISING! DOWN! WITH! THE! MAN!

So when the weather reports started saying the storm wasn’t as bad as predicted, I was all, “I AM GOING SCREW THIS” and got in the car right after work and took off. People said things like “are you sure?” and “um…Boreas?” and “you will die, maybe?” and “maybe you should text me when you get there? IF you get there?” and I was all “I WILL BE FINE I AM PLATINUM!”

It was raining here. I could handle rain. Half an hour into the drive, traffic ground to a halt. We started seeing signs that said “right and middle lanes closed due to accident.” We all sloooowly merged over. Come to find out two tractor trailers had not only hit one another, they’d tipped over, spilling their contents all over the place. It was quite nervous-making.

But I sallied forth! I WAS SALLYING!

The night started to get colder. The winds picked up. This led to frozen roads and the car getting PUSHED to ONE SIDE. The winds were that bad. So I had to use BOTH hands on the wheel and pay super-close attention. I started thinking, “this might not have been the best idea.” But! Stubborn! Sallying, dammit, SO MUCH SALLYING!

I stopped at the rest stop I always stop at and did some deep breathing. Whew. At that rest stop, you have about an hour, an hour and fifteen minutes, until you reach my parents’ house. I could do this.

Went in. Rest-stopped. Came out. And it was snowing like hell. A woman was crying outside the door. “I DON’T WANT TO DRIVE IN THIS ANYMORE,” said the crying woman. A frat boy fell down in the parking lot because so icy.

Effffff.

So what does one do? Get back on the slippery windy highway and drive back to Albany where the weather was better, but drive through all that again? Or keep on a’truckin’ (or car-in’, I guess) and just deal with what was coming?

Stubborn, stubborn, stubborn.

I kept going.

The roads got worse as I drove. At least on the highway you could see the lines. Nothing seemed to have been plowed once you left the highway; the roads were all packed-down ice and snow and slick. Slick, slick, SLICK. And it was snowing hard enough that I couldn’t see.

I’d told Mom I’d be home by 8; that gave me an extra hour in case of traffic or weather.

8 came and went. I couldn’t call anyone; it was too slippery to not pay attention to the roads, and I didn’t want to ruin the surprise.

I almost went off the road, all-told, 4 times. I cussed (at the weather, at myself, at other drivers) too many times to count. My check engine light randomly came on. I couldn’t change my playlist so I listened to the same 20 songs over and over and OVER. (Luckily, I loved them, so I was ok with that. And now I know ALL THE WORDS.) I said, “THIS WAS A VERY STUPID DECISION!” repeatedly.

But I kept driving.

And I finally pulled into my parents’ driveway at 8:40pm. Five straight hours after I’d left. My mom came to the door and looked FRANTIC. My dad came, looking confused, saw me, got BIG HUGE SURPRISED EYES, and then opened the door. I thought he would yell out, “what are you doing here?” and it would be all a happy surprise but he ACTUALLY yelled “THIS IS NOT FUNNY! NOT FUNNY AT ALL!” and then SHUT THE DOOR ON ME! He did not even help me bring in my things in all the snow. So I went in with all my things and was all “OLD MAN I AM SURPRISING YOU FOR THANKSGIVING COME GIVE ME A HUG” and he stomped in all “BOREAS SO STUPID WHAT WERE YOU THINKING” and then gave me a hug and said “it is nice to see you” very quietly so I won Thanksgiving.

This is getting hellaciously long, so I will rush through the rest. We had a lovely Thanksgiving, including the following things:

  • napping
  • sleeping in
  • hanging with The Nephew
  • eating our weight in Thanksgiving foods
  • watching Kill Bill 2 with Dad and having to explain the plot to him and giggling
  • visiting my grandmother
  • helping my dad figure out how to turn his new cell phone onto vibrate
  • ordering things for Dad on Amazon (“what is this PRIME? No SHIPPING? This is AMAZING!”)
  • rolling my eyes until they almost ruptured at the constant stream of Fox News that happens in that house
  • looking at eleventy-billion photos of Mom’s trip to Rome (“AMY! The statues were NUDE! Can you IMAGINE?”)
ZOMG! COVER YOUR EYES!

ZOMG! COVER YOUR EYES!

Then on Friday morning, after my nephew cheerfully greeted my sleepy-eyed self with “Aunt Amy! You are awake! Do you want to race?” (I did not want to race, but I totally watched HIM race), I packed up leftovers and the car and Dad filled it with gas and wiper fluid and gave me many pretend-gruff hugs and off I went. And luckily the drive home was uneventful (except Dad didn’t close the hood all the way, and I didn’t realize that until a couple hours into the drive, so Dad was all, “YOU! COULD! HAVE! DIED!” but I didn’t die. Obviously.)

So: yep. Very, very stupid stubborn idea. If I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t. That was a terrible drive. I’m too old for that shit. But, overall: a very, very good Thanksgiving. Got to spend it with my family, for the first time in a decade; got to read with The Nephew; got to hang out with my dad; got to eat so much delicious food. NOM.

But if I try to do something ridiculous like that again, please slap me upside the head and tell my stupid, stubborn self that it’s better to be alone on the holiday and alive than dead on the side of the road trying to get some turkey and family hangtime. Good grief.

OK, not as stupid as this...which made me cackle like a moron...but still pretty stupid.

OK, not as stupid as this…which made me cackle like a moron…but still pretty stupid.


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