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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!

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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!


Birthday shenanigans and thoughts and…poison?

WHOO-HOO BIRTHDAY!

So I’m officially (of course) writing this BEFORE my birthday but we’re just going to pretend it’s actually my birthday right now because by the time you read this, I will have been a whole new age for almost 10 hours. Yes, my lucky mom had me right in the wee hours of the morning (and two weeks early) because I was in a HURRY to be born, dammit. THERE ARE ADVENTURES TO BE HAD, MOM! said wee, slightly-premature and totally-jaundiced Amy.

So far, and it’s not even my birthday yet, there have been happy surprises. I got presents from my mom and a couple of my aunts when my parents were here this weekend, and when I came home today I had cards waiting for me (THANK YOU R. and BFF!) and then…there was THIS!

Well! THIS is mysterious. You know what they say about taking candy from strangers. DON’T DO IT, is what they say.

Luckily, this was NOT from a stranger! It was from my most favorite Andreas!!! (The hint is the Åland Post at the top of the photo. Those are Andreas’ islands.)

So let’s see what surprises from the land of Finns arrived just in time for my very special day!

DELICIOUS CHOCOLATE! Milk chocolate and milk chocolate with cashews! (Cashews are my favorites. YUM.)

This is a very fancy box of chocolates that I neglected to take a photo of the inside of, but they’re like the prettiest kind that you don’t want to eat because they’re so pretty. But trust me. I’m going to eat them. Because, CHOCOLATES, yo. (Andreas knows my affection for all things chocolate.)

A MOST BEAUTIFUL NECKLACE! My guess is that Andreas’ super-talented fiancée made it, but he’s asleep right now so I can’t confirm this assumption. It is silver and purple and matches so many things I own and is so, so me. I can’t even describe. I am crazy in love with it. I opened it and my eyes went HUGE and I went “ooooh!” I can’t wait to wear it!

And…finally…

SWEDISH POISON!

OK, so this only MIGHT be Swedish poison. Other things I decided it might be: perfume, or some sort of foodstuff. See, as you can see, the tag is in Swedish. So I was like, “WHAT COULD THIS BE?”

So of course I tasted it.

Then I was like, “OMG, this immediate tasting of a thing that you have NO IDEA WHAT IT IS is proof of your complete and total love and trust of Andreas, you know, because there are very few people that you would just taste a mystery substance without thinking it could kill you. Or make you grow larger or smaller, like Alice.” Then I giggled.

(It tasted like lemons and sugar and…mapley? And it was very sticky. NOT A EUPHEMISM.)

So then I researched it and “granskott sirap” is some sort of spruce-needle syrup. And the site I checked (and translated with Google Translate, which makes me laugh like a moron because it makes so many mistakes) said it’s helpful as both a cough syrup AND an ice-cream topping, and I seriously laughed SO HARD and emailed Andreas all, “It cannot be both. They are so disparate. OR CAN IT?”

Also, how cool is that bottle? It looks like it’s from an old-timey apothecary, and it’s SO not allowed to be mailed. Whenever you go to the post office they’re all “ANYTHING LIQUID, PERISHABLE OR GLASS?” as if they’re about to take you away in chains if you say yes. BREAKIN’ THE LAW FOR MY BIRTHDAY! THAT’S MY ANDREAS!

Thank you so much, Andreas. I love it all so much, and you are the best of the best.

Also, I totally saved this from LAST year so we could talk about it THIS year. Am I a planner, or what?

LAST YEAR’S BIRTHDAY HOROSCOPE! Let’s see how well it did!

I am a Libra. We like balance and lie a lot. Also, we're PRETTY. *blush*

I am a Libra. We like balance and lie a lot. Also, we’re PRETTY. *blush*

…you are at some sort of a turning point in your life, in terms of personal growth. Events that occur this year act as catalysts that get you in touch with some important issues in your emotional life. Your emotions run high, and mood swings or identity crises are possible. There may be some kind of conflict in your life arising from a great urge to do something different. The year ahead promises to be a busy, dynamic, and significant period in your life.

Yeah, actually, that’s not bad. This year saw a lot of shit go down, and mood swings is kind of an understatement. Also, not only was there an URGE to do something different, I DID something different. So, right on, last year’s horoscope.

You are able to see your life in terms of the big picture this year, and thus you more easily manage stress and your enthusiasm is natural. Others tend to be helpful and supportive.

Maybe over the last few months of the year; not so much the first part. Meh on this one, birthday forecast. (Although others were QUITE helpful and supportive; I have amazing friends.)

Your social life will likely increase and bring you in contact with more influential, powerful, or simply happy and helpful people. Educational, publishing, freelance, and promotional efforts can thrive this year.

Ooh, this is nice. I totally met INFLUENTIAL and POWERFUL people. (Also happy and helpful people.) And I’m working in both publishing and doing some freelance writing this year, and wasn’t doing either at this point last year. BOO-YAH, HOROSCOPE!

There was a huge paragraph about love crap in here. I’m cutting that shit out. No time for love, Dr. Jones.

So, not bad, horoscope, not bad. Keep it up for the year ahead. Predict me a funny guy who knows how to wield a semicolon, more time to write, and all kinds of travelly adventures for the upcoming year, please.

So, this past year: it’s been up and down; unemployment and new employment (times three) and doing things that I love; it’s been heartbreak and depression and joy beyond imagining; it’s been meeting people I never thought I would, in person, and giving them furious hugs, and seeing long-lost friends and relatives again, and giving them equally furious hugs. It’s been both a year of the best things and a year of the worst things, all rolled up into one. I don’t know how to judge such a year. I suppose the best I can say is I am thankful for the good things, more so than I can say, and the bad things…well, if nothing else, they taught me their various lessons, and moved on, hopefully leaving me wiser, and none the worse for wear.

I’ve written a lot; I’ve read a lot; I’ve laughed a lot; I’ve cried a lot. Most of all, I learned a lot. And I loved people in my crazy way I have. And I tried to leave things better than I found them. I am hoping I was successful in that, if nothing else.

This is my last year of my thirties; I plan to live it to the fullest. Adventures and travel and laughing and loving and living and living and living. And then living a little more.

Thanks for coming along for the ride, people of the interwebs. Knowing you’re all out there makes for a very happy birthday indeed.


Who knows what evil lurks in the depths of your morning brew?

This isn’t a real post. Well, I suppose it IS, but it’s not. I have half an hour before I have an appointment (day off today, baby! LADY OF LEISURE!) and when I get home will be working on the real post which will go up tomorrow unless I am kidnapped by a Yeti. But you deserve something. It’s a beautiful Friday. Sunshiney and all.

So a couple weeks ago, I was shopping for sj‘s birthday present (Think Geek really is the best for all things awesome, and no, they’re not paying me to say that, but if they WANTED to pay me in, oh, I don’t know, gift cards, I’d take ’em) and saw a present I knew would be perfect for Andreas. Sometimes that happens. I can’t help myself. I see a thing and think of one of my loved ones and it just pops into my cart. I might have a problem. Some people have a problem with impulse-buys; I have a problem with impulse-buys for my friends. (And lately, shoes. What the hell? I’m almost middle-aged, have never cared about shoes in my life, and suddenly have discovered the joy that is well-made, nicely-fitting shoes. AND I CANNOT GET ENOUGH OF THEM. I apologize that I always scoffed at you people and your love of shoes.)

So I bought sj’s presents, but also the present for Andreas, all on-the-sly-like, and mailed it off to the land of Finns without telling him. It was supposed to take two weeks to get there. The lady at the post office was VERY STRICT about this.

It took four days. What the hell, USPS? It took my dad, who is about four hours away, three days to get his Father’s Day present; it took Andreas four days to get his present, and he is on A WHOLE OTHER CONTINENT. I find this suspicious.

Anyway, once he opened it, I was treated to the following on Instagram, which I thought you would all enjoy.

“Enjoying a perfectly innocent-looking cup of cappuccino.”

“But what’s this? Something is poking out of the coffee!”

“Mein Gott im Himmel! Eine kleine Tintenfisch!”

Hee! WIN! I bought Andreas this:

It’s an Octopus Surprise Mug! Because he loves octopuses. And also I love surprises.

Time to get my oil changed. I assure you that’s not a euphemism. (Side note: I was up until 2:30am last night because I had to drive to Massachusetts, watch a play, come home, and review that play. I woke up at 9:30 but wasn’t happy about it. Maintenance came to fix my wonky air conditioner at 10-ish. I was in pajamas and my hair looked like I’d slept with a bunch of wolves last night who spent the night playing hairdresser with their paws. And he’s apparently a new maintenance man I didn’t know existed. AND HE IS SUPER-HOT. So the whole time I tried to hide behind the entertainment center and smooth my hair down surreptitiously. AND HE WAS EVEN NICE TO DUMBCAT AND COMPLIMENTED HIM ON HIS STUB TAIL! Oh, good grief, life, why are you trying to kill me.)

Oh, and SIDE NOTE TO THE SIDE NOTE: he didn’t even fix my air conditioner, because randomly last night, it started working again. SIGH. He said to call him again when it’s not working. I will, sir. I WILL. I will call you and you can bet I won’t be wearing ripped jogging shorts and a stretched-out teeshirt NEXT time. Rawr. (I’m exaggerating. I don’t even own anything that’s more dressy than that.)

Happy Friday, all. And hey, Andreas? You’re the best. Most sincerely. Don’t know what I’d do without you. So stick around, you. OK? Good. Glad we’ve settled that.


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