The Chronicles’ 2010 Year End Review

I find “best of” emails or lists or blog posts really stressful. I have a memory like you wouldn’t believe but for the life of me, I can’t remember a lot of my “best of” moments of the past 365. So. We’re going to be all relaxed about this and make a list and if it’s not as complete as it should be, oh well, maybe better luck to myself next year.

Let’s go over some things that happened in 2010.

I got married. For the second time. In a close-as-I’ll-ever-get-to-a-white dress. *Good thing about this is that people LOVE to say this to me: “You’re the only girl I know that’ll marry the same guy twice.” Good one. Morons.

I can almost stretch my leg up to my head with one hand, while balancing on the other foot. I’m at about 75%. I think this is a very handy skill and will continue on with my progress.

I officially changed my name, which means moooove over happy hour…there’s a new HH in town.

I traveled to three new countries this year. (Armenia, England, Montenegro)

I successfully lived through my secret testing of the German socialized medical system. It works. I am living proof.

I upped my blog readers daily by 200% this year. I’m pretty proud of that and thankful that people are either interested in/humored by my ramblings OR are almost near death with boredom that they choose to read pretty regularly. πŸ™‚

I am almost 100% debt-free, leaving only my student loan to pay off, primarily not paid off because I’m lazy.

Now. Let’s go over last year’s four resolutions, none of which I accomplished. More and more proof that I am not perfect. Boo.

1. Read 50 books. I think this was slightly ambitious, though I’m willing to give it another go. I think I read 23 which is annoying.

2. I didn’t go to another continent and with at least three weddings to attend in 2011 back in the States, I am not going to try this again this year because it just won’t happen. Maybe 2012.

3. Lernen Deutsch zu sprechen. I am not even close to conversational, forget fluent. I can, however, understand more around me that is being said. So that’s progress. But not much. This I will keep working at. Must.beat.zi.Germans.

4. Win a photography contest. You’d have to submit something to win. Perhaps, work on laziness would have been a better number 4.

And so. I will have to think about this year’s (probably worthless) resolutions and post tomorrow, when all is fresh and new.

For now, we’re off to meet good friends in Stuttgart for some food, drinks and lots of New Year cheer. Oh, and Germany is famous for people lighting firecrackers off at each other so that should be fun. My first New Years in Germany!

Until 2011…..

Everybody Hates Chris, the Tussin edition

Or at least his school of thought when it comes to sickness at my house. Chris Rock, I hate you. In all fairness, I should be blaming my husband, but seriously, that is too easy and to be honest, it’s Chris Rock’s fault that I’m miserable when couch-ridden, delirious with the sweats and spewing awfulness from the mouth and nose.

Seriously, I blame Chris Rock for fucking with me every.time.I.get.sick. And it’s all because he had to go and do his little Tussin skit which apparently every man on EARTH subscribes to.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wd-EBG3a7jU

So, let’s go back to Monday, when I start to feel the sickness in the back of my throat. It’s scratchy and I start with the sniffles and I can feel the throbbing behind my eyeballs which (this time) has nothing to do with vino intake and so I am pissed. I am getting sick. I go to the store. Alone. I have to go alone if I want the medicine that I want. Otherwise, I am chased by my Mr. H with the same question he asks every time, “Are you going to get some Tussin?”

No. I never get Tussin unless I am coughing up piles of phlegm and it’s flourescent. I get dayquil and nightquil and lemon cough drops and some of that throat spray, depending on how badly I really want to swallow because that Sucrets spray is a friend of no one. And since I’m alone, I get them all with some soup and some tea and figure I’m good for the night.

I’m not on the couch one hour in my sweaty misery after work when he asks, “Did you take some Tussin?” I roll around and moan. I know his second attempt at medical advice is next. “Want some juice? You can have some and then go for a walk.” Like clockwork.

It’s 25 fucking degrees outside. I hate “walk it off” more than I hate “get some Tussin.” And what I hate more is what I know he’s going to whip out next, (wait for it)

“It’s too bad you don’t have a super immune system like I do. Must be from all those times you took that medicine. Tighten up, Heath. You should work on that.” Ohhhhhh, someone is A GODDAMNED COMEDIAN. He LOVES to talk about his immune system, sometimes I think in third person, like it is a goddamned superhero. I go to bed, refusing Tussin and feeling like a train hit me. I pray I don’t have man-flu pneumonia again.

Tuesday morning: He finds me in the spare room, surrounding by two waters, a juice, 93 cough drops and a year’s supply of used tissue.
“What are you doing in here?” he asks, pulling my covers off to inspect me. He is mesmerized by my beauty.

“You were snoring too loud and I couldn’t sleep and I’m dying.” He is not on the bed anymore. I hear him down the hall. No, wait. He is coming back. He sits on the bed again. I roll over to face him. Oh, jesus FUCK.

“Here. Be a good girl and take some Tussin.” Down the hatch he forces it. He smiles, proud of himself. “There, you should feel better.”

He calls three hours later from work.
“Did you take some Tussin?”
“No.”
“How about you take the dogs for a walk?” I can barely stand without wanting to pass out. I am getting angry.
“Please stop calling me with your worthless advice.” We hang up.

He comes home from work. He alternates between singing, “You are my Sunshine” and “You’re my favorite girl” over and over again, just mocking, mocking, mocking. I haven’t showered now in two days and I am borderline death. I am going to punish him when I am well enough.

“Do you want some Tussin?” That’s it. I’m going to bed. I don’t leave bed for another 18 hours.

Until now. I am up today and out of the house. So. Since today I’m well enough to lift my head for longer than three minutes at a time, I thought I’d write about my never-ending battle with Tussin, Chris Rock and my husband’s *helpful ways.

*(I will note that when asked to rub my face/nasal area, my Mr. H complied on day 1 but on day 2 started charging me 2 euro/min for said sickness face massage. Ahhh, marriage.)

Christmas wrap-up, 2010 edition

Christmas this year was fantastic and I feel really blessed to have so many great people in my life, most importantly my family, my husband and the good friends we’ve made here that are now are extended family in Europe.

Each contributed to making this year’s holiday celebration really, really special. After our friends left on Christmas Day, we layed around for about 36 hours straight, and somewhere between our third and ninth movie we went over how fantastic this year’s holiday was and how thoughtful (most) everyone was. Maybe it isn’t so bad when we make our own celebrations. A lot of things are missing from home, but we are starting to do a really great job of making our own new traditions.

Like our Christmas walk. Much like the days when my Dad would take us on long hikes in the snow to wear us out or burn off holiday calories, my Mr. H suggested we all head out for a walk in the forest after Christmas coffee and snack time. And so we did, primarily to check out just how much snow we really did get in the 24 hour Christmas winter snow extravaganza that we got on Christmas Eve into Christmas morning. (please take note of how awesome our furry hats are) I think from looking at the trees and my porch that we got somewhere between 8 and 12 inches, which has left the Germans in nothing but a crazy frenzy to keep those sidewalks clean. We of course declared a no shoveling holiday and so I’m sure we’re really popular on our street this week.

Now. What fun stuff did we get for Christmas? Well, too much to get into, really, but there are a few things I wanted to post.

1. I got my MAGIC PANTS from my Mr. H and I couldn’t be more excited. Magic pants, you may ask? Well, for normal people I think they’re called “Compression Tights” and that’s for when you’re using them to be athletic, which is kind of the point but we all know that’s not why I have them. So stupid story short, after drinking a bottle of wine some night at Thanksgiving I try on our friend Justin’s cycling pants and they are AMAZING. Granted, I was drunk and already somewhat limber but REALLY. All I want to do when I’m in these bad boys is just STRETCH. And kick my legs around. AND I can be caught squatting for no good reason and instead of walking around, I like to lunge in them. And so I told my Mr. H if he got me a pair for Christmas I would most likely be the most athletic wife he’s ever dreamed of having. (and I said I’d have to get some hiking boots to go with them but that was just a trick, reallY) So he gave me the, Pants don’t MAKE YOU athletic, Heather, look and I was all, Um yeah, did you just see me bang out 4 squats? That’s four more than you’ve ever witnessed before and so VIO-FUCKING-LA! I got me my magic pants. Magic because they make me athletic, which I am not. They are top gift number one, OBVIOUSLY. (*picture doesn’t represent my pants or my feelings about my pants or the level of stretching I can actually do that well. Will work to get another more accurate picture of me in my pants soon but at least you can see Moxie is in awe of my abilities, as you all would be)

2. Bucket List items. Traveling and seeing the world is technically why we’re here and so it’s really great when we put in the effort and find weekend getaways where we get to experience something new together. And so in the spirit of crossing more things off our bucket lists, we both ended up giving the other person a weekend away to do something we’ve always wanted to do. And so what are these weekends?

First, is the dog sledding weekend in Switzerland that I gave him, as he’s always wanted to go dog sledding and doing it in Switzerland seems pretty badass. And it’s Valentine’s Day weekend, which will make it even more fun and probably pretty romantic. Wooo hoooo. Apparently the deal is that you hike up a mountain with the dogs and then sled down, only to end your trip in a teepee eating fondue over an open fire with the host family and dogs. Sounds awesome, though they don’t speak English and so we’ll have to brush up on our dog related German. Should be interesting.

And for me? My Mr. H gave me a trip to go HOT AIR BALLOONING IN FRANCE this spring! How.fucking.exciting. AND, since I’ve never been to the Burgundy region, it’ll be like seeing a whole new France, which I’m so excited about. I REALLY love France and though this picture of where we’re going is small, are you KIDDING ME? Wow, it’s going to be a really fun spring.

I received a lot of other thoughtful, meaningful and fun gifts but I’ll have to update you on them later, maybe as I set up my new office, because that’s where most of the gifts now belong. And lucky me, it’s kind of slow at work between now and NYE so I should have plenty of time to get some household stuff done.

But there you have it. My mini-Christmas wrap-up. Hope you all had a fantastic and festive holiday with family and the ones you love! πŸ™‚

Favorite Things, Christmas 23rd edition

As there are only TWO DAYS LEFT UNTIL CHRISTMAS, I thought I’d share a few more of my holiday favorite things.

Furry hats. I used to have three furry hats but I gave the one Katie’s wearing to her for Christmas because I can get myself another one in Armenia next month. So I’m back to two, which means in January I am going to work on a furry, most likely Eastern European, collection. They are fancy.

Festive German door decorations.
And yes, they do sell wreaths over here, which I would normally have picked, but we WON THIS WITH OUR COWBELL at the exciting German auction we accidentally attended in Garmisch. And it has all the elements–Christmas ornament, chocolate and sausages. Who needs a round wreath when you can have this number? Plus, if you get locked out of your house, you can eat most of it and sleep under the branches and you might not die. Win-win.

Old school ornaments. The type I was talking about yesterday, the ones that you buy every year and add to your collection which will one day you will pass on. Now. This one has always been one of my favorites. It was my Dad’s and it was on my very first tree, two months after I was born.

AND LASTLY.

Christmas sleepovers! (NOT TO BE MISTAKEN WITH NASTY CUDDLE PARTIES) See, we invited a few of our friends that didn’t go back to the States to come spend the night at our house tomorrow night so we could all wake up on Christmas together. Sounds festive, right? I thought so.

Last year Christmas was a little lonely and a lot quiet without our families. We thought they were coming this year for Christmas, but since they didn’t, we still stayed and will celebrate it with friends instead! Otherwise, you realize that nothing changed from the night before when you went to bed. There’s no coffee waiting for you in the morning and nothing is in the oven. Stockings don’t look different and after a 15 minute present opening session, there’s not that much do with only 2 people except watch movies and do something with what you got for Christmas. Which I’m actually fine with, but to be able to have a few more people over is going to be fantastic. Here are the confirmed players for the festive Christmas 2-day extravaganza.

The Youns. Our favorite ninjas, mostly because they let me call them ninjas. That’s Steve Youn, fellow cyber crime fighter of terror and Ms. Koko, herder of small people extraordinaire. They came over the same time we did and are fantastic friends and travelmates. Steve has the best laugh (giggle) and thank god for Koko, our voice of reason….I love, love, love them both.

Ms. Caroline. My sweet, southern, partner in crime. She’s my go-to white wine drinking buddy and late-night you can find the two of us performing “We are the World” high atop people’s couches, entertainments systems, or maybe we’re just usually on the floor, wrestling, laughing or trying do to the worm. Seriously, our dance moves together are EPIC. She is so much fun to be around and I (we) love having her as a sidekick here in Germany.

The BRUISERS. Their real last name is Abruzere. They’re our favorite hicks from West Virginia. (they claim they’re from VA but that’s a lie) They are great fun to harass and love to give it right back to us, which we appreciate. Tracy is one of the world’s sweetest and selfless gals I’ve ever met and Damon is great fun to play games with since he typically loses. So far we’ve won his Livestrong bracelet (we had to take it. He lost at pool hahahah) AND his dignity, which he usually loses once a week at our house. Anyhoo, they are beyond loyal and always ready for anything and we love having them (and their two kids) in our lives.

So, there you have it. Today’s edition of my favorite holiday things.

Hope you’re having a festive week!

Christmas traditions–Past and Future

Christmas is a two day celebration at my house, or at least it’s going to be from here on out. I’ve been thinking about which new traditions we can start, which to keep from our parents and how to make our Christmas celebrations this year and for the future BETTER. Here are a few traditions that are important to me, some I can live without and a few I plan on starting and keeping from here on out.

Choosing the tree and set-up. Growing up in my house, the kick-off for Christmas is always the day after Thanksgiving. That’s when we get our tree. I’m a big fan of this tradition, as I hate shopping and there’s something fun about continuing the holiday high you have from Thanksgiving. Plus, it’s usually the best chance to have all family members in the house at one time.

Picking of the ornaments. Every year, our parents took us to pick out our yearly ornament, which I just loved back then and am now truly grateful to have over a decade’s worth of tiny, special memories that I can hang on my tree and one day show my kids. Every year now, when I pull them out of my Christmas box, I look at them fondly, usually remembering where and when I bought each one.

Cookie Day Bake-off: Every year my mom hosts a cookie day in which all available ladies (cousins, aunts, grandparents, SILS, friends, etc) come over and bake one or two of THEIR favorite type of Christmas cookies. At the end of the day, there are about 10-15 different cookies to choose from and share and each person walks away with a festive bag full of yummy treats for the week or to give away. I missed this year’s cookie day and will have to start my own on this side of the world which means I’ll also have to start being an active participant. Everyone at home knows I’m merely the spoon licker and good for unwanted advice on frosting and sprinkle placement. The making part is what always gets me. πŸ™‚
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Midnight Mass. Pass. When we were younger, we used to alternate years where we spent Christmas Eve. When at my house, my mom used to bully us into MM when we were too young to find our own transportation places. At my father’s, it never even came up. I suppose at the time it was a nice gesture to Jesus, swinging by to wish him a happy birthday and all, but this is a pass for the future. 1. No one belongs in dress-up clothes on Christmas Eve. 2. I’m not going to go to the house of someone that I think is the equivilant of the Easter Bunny. 3. You should be drunk and celebrating or in your bed at midnight because Santa won’t come if you’re not.

Chinese food on Christmas Eve. Yes, please. After years of switching holidays, my parents struck some deal where my father just had us every Christmas Eve and then we were returned to the house Christmas morning to be with our other siblings. For awhile my Dad and Judy used to treat us to really expensive dinners in nearby towns. It gave us the chance to dress up on Christmas and order something fancy and festive at a restaurant that did not qualify for daily dining. I think my favorite was White Barn Inn, because it was so pretty and magical and probably the first place I ever ate a 4 course meal.

That tradition faded with the years, though, and was replaced by something even better: Chinese Christmas Eve Takout Night.
Every Christmas Eve we would order a Pu Pu Platter for too many, 90 sides of duck sauce, and eat our faces off, filling piles and piles of napkins with yummy chinese grease. Then, when our MSG levels were topped off, it was boardgame time, which usually included some Apple game, a word scrambling game, Trouble, Yahtzee and who knows what else. THAT, board game playing and Chinese food eating, is exactly what I want my kids to be doing every Christmas Eve. I believe it’s called holiday family bonding.

Stockings. When you’re older, sometimes parents try to phase out stockings. Stockings have always been the best part about Christmas morning (until David and I joined forces and starting spiking our coffee) and I wouldn’t trade them for anything…except that all the siblings at my house did. We told the parents that if they were going to cut down on anything, it’d be presents, not stockings. So, when my mother finally does decide to make good on her word about cancelling/limiting/cutting down on Christmas (she makes this empty promise/threat every year and it never,ever happens), our house will be down to just stockings, which is fine.by.me. Except not now. Not at MY house. At my house we will have both stockings and presents until we breed children and send them to college and then I will most likely mimic whatever my mother did.

Making of Gluhwein: We’ll have to start this tradition this weekend and keep it up for all years to come. I mean, c’mon. We live in Germany. We have to pick up something from this country that stays with us for life and it certainly isn’t going to be their sunny dispositions or terrific accents. So Gluhwein it is. I already posted the recipe here: theheatherchronicles.wordpress.com/2010/12/08/diy-gluhwein/

Going to see The Nutcracker:
My grandmother, better known to the world as Cupcake, took me to see my very first Nutcracker in Boston around the time I was 7 or 8. I remember thinking I was the fanciest person there, with my dress and tights on. Around every corner there was something magical and I was so thrilled to spend a winter evening in the big city. That and when we left the show, she let me pick a gift for myself, and so I picked a tiny necklace which held an even tinier ballerina. It was almost as pretty as my favorite Sugar Plum Fairies, which is why I picked it.

Now I’ve gone since with a few guys since I was 7 and it always ended badly. You’d think a nice night out at the theater during Christmas would be a dream, right? No, this never happens. A lot of male pouting or sleeping while sitting up or getting hammered is what usually happens. I think if I were to continue this tradition, it’d be a ladies night out thing–possibly a mom, Cupcake and sister tradition, aka people I don’t have to drag kicking and screaming. **(this does not include my Mr. H. I have never even asked him to go so he can’t be blamed for this. Yet.)

So, for now, those are all of the traditions I’m going to write about. I’m sure in the next few days, I’ll remember more and we’ll do another holiday tradition go-round.

What traditions will you keep from your childhood?

Scene making and meeting Lord Farquaad

I swear. There can never be a situation where I show up somewhere or meet someone and I just blend in and go unnoticed. In all fairness, I usually try to get some sort of attention most of the time. I enjoy meeting people and I just love entertaining and I don’t see the value in being boring so whatever. However. There is a time and a place to make a scene and yesterday was neither.

Last week we get an email telling us some VIP is going to be strolling through our building around 11am so make sure our doors look nice and be on call, which really just means either be ready to stand in the hall for an hour waiting for someone who usually doesn’t want to meet you OR carry about your business and don’t be a pain in the ass in the hall. And the door thing? We were in the middle of prepping the doors for the Christmas holiday door contest, something I will never understand or get behind (I know. I am no fun). Grown adults, wrapping their doors and discussing who gets to the be the elf and why don’t we have enough bows on the door? Good god.

SO ANYWAY. Yesterday we get an email that the VIP is the BIG BOSS, the biggest one I’ve ever had without having the luxury of meeting him, and that he is running late but he will be in the hall and to be ready at 11. Well, fancy that. Lucky me, I am wearing my grey turtleneck dress and pretty tights, my hair looks less nest-ish than usual and I am wearing lipstick. So actually I should say lucky for him.

Now. The BIG BOSS (who I will not name because I do not need to be fired) is kinda a big deal around here. And the world. He’s the (and this will be in code for again, the purposes of keeping my job) Bestest Working With People That Are Not Enemies Leader of the Continent I Live In. OFAWHOLECONTINENT. So he’s someone you’d like to meet and while doing so, not make a complete ass out of yourself.

And not smack with a door. Which I almost did.

So I was going to be ready for 11am but then The King, one of my coworkers, comes in and says he’s in the building and be out right now. Well, look. Now is not 11am which is what the email said and I had to blow my nose and finish an email and so I waited and then next thing I know my office is empty and I hear laughing in the halls and so I hurry on out and choose the middle door to bust out of, and like I’m some contestant on Let’s Make a Deal, I choose the wrong door.

As I fling open the door, I smack my girl NP in the back, sending her teetering forward, almost right smack into Lord Farquaad, which is who the BIG BOSS kinda looks like, and then I look up and he’s right there. Oh good god, why are we inches apart and why do I always pick the wrong door??? So he was just STANDING THERE RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME he scared me so I jumped, like I was totally caught off guard, even though I WAS heading out there to meet him.

“Well, hello there. Happy Holidays,” he says and sticks out his hand.
I gave him my best firm handshake and looked him right in the eye. Woulda made my Dad proud, as we hate people with dead fish handshakes. Means you can’t be trusted.

“Well, hello (insert his title), sir. This is a bit awkward. Er, I’m so sorry. It’s very nice to meet you.” I meant it. It was great to meet him but it wasn’t going exactly how I had planned in my head. Yes, I had already planned it in my head. We’d meet, he’d love my sunny disposition and fantastic sense of humor and before you could say promotion, I’d be in his fancy little headquarters office in no time. DELUUUUUUUUUUTIONAL, much? Why, yes.

Anyway, back to reality. Good god, everyone in my whole division was looking at me, most laughing, including the General and his COS. What.a.disaster.

“Oh, no problem. I was just getting ready to address the team.” and then he carried on, blabbity blah, shook a few more hands, wished everyone a happy holiday and he was off to spread more Official Holiday Cheer.

Then I got a hard time for almost taking out the most important person on base, for causing a scene, for being generally ridiculous. But then I was thanked for always making things interesting and keeping things light and for being memorable.

Which.IS.the.WHOLE.POINT.OF.MY.LIFE.

So, I win and I met him finally. Happy CE holidays to me.

**To anyone I work with or know through CE, if you forward this to anyone and name this person, AND GET ME FIRED, I will find you and it will not be pretty. Thank you.

Funny ass gals and let’s get magical (and selfless) this week!

Friday night was a lazy night for us here in Deutschland. We spent most of the night watching TV, eating pot pie (from the Ultimate Pot Pie baking competition we held earlier this week) and playing on different laptops. I was bored and when I’m bored, I usually look around for new sites or blogs to fall in love with and add to the old blogroll. Lucky me, in searching “funniest blogs,” I found two badass gals online that are HYSTERICAL. True story, I typically think I am the funniest person on earth and so it takes a lot of effort to admit the following:

I.am.not.the.funniest.person.on.earth.I.am.not.the.funniest.person.on.earth. (tear shed, chin up, chin up)

So. I will be third funniest. I am voluntarily placing Becky and Jenny above me. They win. For now. And so let’s meet them, as they are my segway into this bigger, more sappy blog I planned out yesterday in my head. (**NOTE: Just because I introduce you to them does NOT mean you can stop reading my daily nonsense. I will not appreciate that shit. BUT, you’re welcome anyway.)

First, meet Becky and her blog, Mommy Wants Vodka. She loves the word fuck maybe even more than I do and I laughed reading her “About Aunt Becky” and her “100 things” so hard that I may or may not have slightly pissed myself while crying while exclaiming to really no one, “Oh my goooooooooooood, why is this girl so funny?????” Then I commented on her page that I had a girl crush on her, but not a lesbo crush, suggested we drink vodka together and basically admitted I wanted to be her online friend which is just fucking creepy in general. So, check, check, check her out. http://www.mommywantsvodka.com/becky-sherrick-harks/100-things-about-becky-sherrick-harks

) Now meet Jenny, who owns the very funny and fancy site, The Bloggess. She made me spit out ginger ale onto my hoodie the other night and I wasn’t even pissed about the mess, because she is that.FUNNY. http://thebloggess.com

But then Jenny made me cry. Which isn’t really typical or something I take lightly, but instead of wanting to choke her for making me cry, I just cried a little and then did what she asked.

If you check out her latest blog, you will see that she offered a few online gift certs up to anyone that was having a tough time providing for their family for Christmas this year. Apparently the response she received was a bit overwhelming and so, because she can’t gift card the world, she opened it up publicly. She has asked that anyone that can buy a $30 gift card this year (Target has great e-gift cards at http://www.target.com/e-GiftCards/b?ie=UTF8&node=123282901) for someone less fortune DO SO and she will even make it easier on you. You comment on her page (or email her at jenny@thebloggess.com) and she will match you up with someone who needs your help. You meet them, they meet you and viola!, you are matched for Christmas giving. You buy a e-gift card and email it to them and they have the chance to have a wee bit brighter of a Christmas morning. You give them a chance to believe in something bigger this Christmas and I think that is badass.

And so yes, I’m going to get all Christmas emotional on everyone. So here it is from the loud-mouthed, narcissistic, spoiled, sociopath in Germany. (I picked my very best qualities to highlight the importance of the following)

When I was in 5th grade, we had our first Christmas in our new house in the country. We also had the first and only Christmas where I think I ruined it by acting like a complete asshole. I think of this story every year around the holidays and have never brought it up–not to my parents and not even to my sister, because part of me hopes that they don’t remember and part of me has tried for awhile to forget myself. The other part of me just wants to go back in time and kick my own ass.

Christmas morning of 1990, when I was 11, we all woke up with the level of excitement of previous years, dashing into the living room, ready to rip apart the carefully wrapped presents, especially the ones with the sideways scrawl of Santa on them, which obviously were NOT from my parents, because the writing was so clearly not theirs. (you know the one I’m talking about—the left-handed, crooked Santa signature….what a classic) Now this year I didn’t even believe in Santa anyway. I just wanted my presents, all of them. NOW. So there we were, ripping away, the five of us, with our parents watching on, more than happy just to sit back, drink coffee and watch our faces light up and our shrieks grow louder and louder with each new gift lifted proudly above our heads, like we were a bunch of prize-winning fighters, showing off our gleaming title belts.

One by one, the presents disappeared from under the tree. To be honest, I don’t even remember what I got that year. I do know that my stocking was full and my list was probably 98% purchased, and I say 98% because I am positive something must have been missing because I did the following after opening what seemed to be my very last gift.

“That’s IT? We’re done??? There are no.more.GIFTS???” Loudly. For all of my family to hear. Maybe I half expected my siblings to jump up and down with me, slamming their midget fists up and down by their sides, helping me with my spoiled, ungrateful pity parade, on the very worst morning of all to pull such a bullshit stunt.

They didn’t join me and the room was just silent and I knew how awful and bratty and dirty, foul filthy mouthed I was. But what I didn’t know, until I looked up, was that I had just done the worst thing a kid could do. It was clear when I looked over at my parents. My dad didn’t even really look at me and my mom’s eyes had already filled up with tears. I don’t even remember if they responded. I think they may have just shaken their heads, turned to my happy and deserving of love siblings, and carried on with Christmas, disappointed that one of their kids was a bad, bad, wretched little twit that deserved to have her shit taken down to the church and given to people who actually deserved it. 100% of the population deserved those gifts more than I did. I had broken my parents’ hearts. On Christmas Day, no less. I was a bad seed.

And what’s funny is that for the past 20 years, I really have felt awful about this little unfortunate, tourettes like incident I pulled on my very loving and generous parents. Every year I have thought about it, and hopefully since I just admitted I’m a long-time, bratty jerk, we can move on and I can stopped tearing up every year about breaking my parents’ hearts (for this reason. Let’s be honest, I’ve done it a million times since). And the kicker? We’re not even all ruin your life with guilt Catholics. I am doing this to myself. So fucking weird. Anyway, so now that you’ve taken a trip with me down Asshole Lane, here’s the point.

It breaks MY heart when I read emails and stories from people who have had terrible luck this year, this decade, this lifetime. People who are only asking for a $30 gift cert so that they can provide ONE gift, just one, for their child for Christmas so that they get to see a face light up next Saturday morning. People who ask for things like a winter jacket or a pair of boots for their child, when I can see my jacket rack from where I write, and I know that I hate at least 2 of the jackets I own. It makes me sick that some people will wake up and carry on like every other day, or maybe their worst day, where they give the food they have to their kids, if they even have any, while I plan out some elaborate ham and quiche fat kid buffet to celebrate a holiday for a person I don’t even believe in. It bothers me that I sit around blogging about popcorn tins and snowflakes and the magic of gluhwein, when to some people, Christmas magic would mean that their heat gets turned back on or that when they wake up on Christmas, their fridge will be full, or they won’t be sick, or they might just get that job they’ve been praying for this year.

And so sometimes Christmas should be about a healthy bitch slap to the face, a holiday wake-up call, if you will. Maybe if you’re like me, you need to be reminded that you don’t really need that $100 perfume or $200 pair of fancy, furry boots. You just need a refresher in a simple and valuable life lesson about being selfless. And though it’s pretty clichΓ© to go through this every December, it’s probably better than nothing.

So. I signed up for two families and I hope you will do the same, or something similar this year. I promise, if you do, you will instantly remember what Christmas is supposed to be about and you will be happy that you made a difference in someone’s life. And if you don’t, you will most likely rot in hell. Or maybe not. Just thought that might help give you that extra push. πŸ™‚

Happy, happy six (holy shit, only SIX) days til Christmas from me and my slowly melting, getting bigger by the day, heart.

Marriage and bargaining, a true art form

Sometimes I think my husband tells me his brilliant ideas just to spike my blood pressure and make sure my ticker is working on a daily basis. Otherwise, I’m unsure as to why he tests me so regularly, knowing I have a tendency to losemyshit over nothing. Like today, he’s just full of nonsense talk today and GOD, I REALLY WISH I HAD THAT VOICE RECORDER I’VE BEEN WISHING FOR (any takers? http://www.amazon.com/Sony-ICDB600-Digital-Recorder-Silver/dp/B002ZZ60IY). A voice recorder would have really been useful in bringing out the tone of this little lunchtime chat we had today about the gift he wants to “give to us”.

You’ll probably get the gist, though.

“I want to get the TV this weekend, before everyone comes over for Christmas, so everyone can enjoy it.” The TV is a 50 inch Samsung, in white, as thin as paper. He thinks it’ll look faboo in our new living room, and while I agree, I do not want said TV, nor do I think we need to get it this week before Christmas just to please our friends who do not even know about said TV. I suggested we wait until the after-Christmas sales.

“They don’t have those sales.” I think he whined like an 8-year-old.

“Oh really. They don’t? What? Germany is the only country in the world that doesn’t jack up the prices and then jack them the fuck back down on the 26th? Please.”

“I’m going to jack you up,” he offered.

“Cute. You sound crazy. But fine. You want the TV? We’ll get the TV tomorrow and then since we were planning on getting a couch too, I get to pick the couch alone. You, TV. Me, couch. AND, when the TV goes on sale on the 26th, whatever the difference in price is, I get in cash to buy boots and clothes. Still want your TV?”

“That doesn’t even make sense, Heather. So if I get the TV, we spend extra money by getting you something else? No. What I’m trying to do is give us a gift, baby.” Here it comes. He is honestly going to try to convince me this gift is for me. I love this.

“Heath, what I’m trying to do is better our quality of life. I’m trying to give us something we can share, enjoy together, maybe even for the next seven years.” No he didn’t just quality of life me and propose we’re going to enjoy seven full years of this TV. I picture our current TV. We accidentally melted the bottom of it by burning a large candle under it for 12 hours straight without noticing the burning plastic smell. (*responsible adults) Seven years my ass.

“You know we are going to upgrade it again within seven years. Stop lying to me.”

“Why are you being so selfish? I am thinking about US. You are thinking about you.” He’s being slightly dramatic, considering the joint present he knows I bought us for Christmas is a weekend DOG SLEDDING TRIP IN SWITZERLAND. Um yeah. A bit different.

“You know, Christmas is about giving, not receiving.” I am just taunting him now–one of my favorite hobbies, actually.

“Fine. Then you are forcing us to continue to live in squalor.” He huffs.

Squalor? He used SQUALOR? hahahhahaah. Good god.

And so tonight I’m going to play the violin for my Tiny Tim and then tomorrow you can find me at MediaMart, where I’ll be standing in line, buying said TV. But not because he won. Because I am going to get my boots, clothes AND couch and this way just seems easiest.

Popcorn holiday tin and winter adventures

I love remembering what Christmas was like when I was little. As an adult with no kids, I realize how quiet and not-so-magical it is sometimes. So, until the day I have a few minis running around to entertain, I’ll just work on remembering all the things I loved so much about the best season of the year. But, to be efficient about this, instead of writing a post about all holiday memories in one huge post, I think I’ll just post them here and there, whenever I’m feeling nostalgic.

Here is something I came across in Christmas shopping online that made me laugh.

Did your parents always get the tradition popcorn bucket around the holidays? I can’t remember if my Mom’s house had it, but I know at my Dad’s it was a staple. He loved that stuff. I think he tried to make us think we loved it more than he did so he didn’t feel bad about eating the whole tin. hahaha. Whenever I see a tin now, 1. I have to buy it and 2. I have to smile. Who doesn’t love three different types of the same snack, all bad for you and none really tasting fantastic.

Until now. Or so I’m told by my office mate, NP. She swears by this stuff from Garrett’s and apparently so does Oprah. And you know if Oprah loves something, it’s to diiiiiiiiie for. After all, it’s one of her Favorite Things and I do NOT argue with anything on that list. (Said list, which I assume would be an easy way to find new Christmas gift ideas…http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/Oprahs-Ultimate-Favorite-Things-2010) But $85 for a popcorn tin? Well, if I knew I’d get it before Christmas, to enjoy on Christmas, maybe. But buying now would mean I get it in February and that is just not worth $85 dollars to me right now. So, no tin. If you have one at home, though, please enjoy for me.

Now here are a few pics from our adventures this weekend with Katie and Derek. Because of the weather and the fact that we paraded the dogs around with us all weekend, we stayed in Germany and decided to give them a tour of the lakes, castles and snowy Alps.
That’s me and Katie, posing in front of the Neuschwanstein Castle/snowy mountains. I am not wearing a coat because I was in the middle of trying not to throw up on the side of the road, due to some sort of endless stomach acid/gluhwein bile issue I’ve been battling. We look thrilled, though.

And here are Katie and Derek, enjoying sunset in Fussen, on our way to Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany. Unfortunately we weren’t able to go up Zugspitze as planned Sunday morning, due to the extreme cloud covering that made it impossible for gondola rides and mountain-top photo-ops.

And here we all are at the Olympic Training site in Garmisch, our third but not final stop on the Hopkins’ German Winterfest Prius tour. It’s disappointing that no one was training this weekend but oh well, maybe some other time.

We finished our trip by heading home on Sunday, only to find ourselves at Dachau. That is what happens when the boss (me) falls asleep and we let my Mr. H navigate in the driver’s seat. He does things like try to squeeze “one more thing” in, even if that last attempt at forced culture is a concentration camp. Now I had JUST told him that evil German work camps are NOT places we just “swing by” on the way home somewhere, but ugh, I was SLEEPING and I woke up to it. I will save the, “A Day at Dachau” post for some other time but here’s a pic I took of K, D and C coming out of one of the buildings.

Yeah, looks really fun, doesn’t it?

Bis morgen…

Lions: Christian, The and my new favorite song

It’s Monday and since we just got back last night from touring Germany and the Alps, I’ll need a night to compose a good post w/ pictures. Sooo, in the meantime, I have a new song to add to my playlist, compliments of my sister’s iPod, that I thought would be of interest. It’s a really, really great song.

Mumford and Sons’ “Little Lion Man“:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMt1Hzye-vk

It’s tip your stomach upside-down good and listen to that guitar. It makes me wet in the pants. ***Swoooon. File this somewhere near Pearl Jam’s “Black” and “Crush,” DMB.

And, because my head works in the most random fashion, it made me think of the video of that lion Christian, who had the love affair with his trainers. I’ll tell you one thing. Holy GOD, I’m a sappy, little monster after watching this video. I mean, really? A LION HUGGING MEN? Because he MISSES THEM?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNv2A4Kfx4k

Ohmygod. Please. This is almost too much for my frosty, blackened heart.

Lastly, I included the picture of the Chow Chow because
1. I losemyshit over them and I’ve been dying to have one since I lived in DC.
2. They are like baby lions and since you’re all aware how my mind works now, you know how I got from the song to the video to the thought to find a picture of a chow.
3. I wanted to because Chows make me happy and today is Monday and we all need a little something to be happy about on Mondays.

And so for now, that is all.