Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Christmas Bucket List: A Christmas Story House Museum

Before I get started, I just wanted to let you all know that I will be on Live in the D’s mom panel tomorrow, Wednesday, November 27th.  Please be sure to tune in to NBC at 11am!

The Christmas season is almost here!  It is one my favorite parts of the year - minus all the drama surrounding family get together, but that is a post for another time.

One way of keeping focused on joy and setting that warm, fuzzy holiday mood is watching Christmas movies.  I have watched some of my all-time favorites so many times that I have developed a deep, emotional connection to the characters and even the settings of these movies.

I would love to say, “Merry Christmas” to George Bailey as he runs through downtown Bedford Falls.

I would love to stand next to Clark Griswold in his front yard along side of Cousin Eddie as he successfully turns on all “250 strands of lights, 100 individual bulbs per strand for a grand total of 25,000 imported Italian twinkle lights.”

I would love to rush down the stairs with Ralphie and Randy on Christmas morning and see Ralphie open his Red Rider BB gun.

So image my delight when last January I saw a commercial for small business software (I don’t even remember what it was now) and discovered that you could actually visit A Christmas Story house.  I googled it to make sure it was real, and then put it on the calendar for November and was reminded by this Rochester Mediapost.

Last weekend, my dream came true.   We packed up the kids and sojourned to Cleveland to see the house where the exterior shots were filmed.

As if this wasn’t awesome enough, the backstory is very touching.  Brian Jones always wanted to be a naval aviator, but failed the sight test.  Devastated, his parents sent him leg lamp to cheer him up.

Seeing how popular the lamps were, Brian made a business making and selling them on eBay.  When his wife emailed him that the house was for sale, he bought it sight unseen and never having visited Cleveland.

Fast forward to today, the house is remodeled to look just like the Parker house and is an interactive tribute to A Christmas Story. 

Here are some of the things we did.

You can pose with the Red Rider BB gun.  Doesn't Thomas look a little like Randy?

A Christmas Story House Red Rider BB Gun Mommy on the Spot
"You'll shoot your eye out, kid!"

You can take a photo with the blue bowling ball in your lap.

A Christmas Story House Blue Bowling Ball  Mommy on the Spot
Harrington made sure to do the squeaky voice.

You can look at the crate with the leg lamp.

A Christmas Story House Leg Lamp Crate Mommy on the Spot
"It's a Major Award!"

The bathroom is set up just like the movie with Lifebuoy soap, the hamper with Little Orphan Annie comic and decoder pin with a notepad that says, “Don’t forget to drink your Ovaltine.”

"A crummy comercial?  Son of a bitch!"

We all sat under the sink like Randy.

A Christmas Story House Under the Sink Like Randy Mommy on the Spot
"Daddy's going to kill Ralphie!"

A Christmas Story House Under the Sink Like Randy Mommy on the Spot
That's right!  I fit under there!

And speaking of Randy, we saw his bib!

A Christmas Story House Randy's Bib  Mommy on the Spot
I wish I had a cute photo of Thomas in the bib, but he refused.

We saw the turkey baking in the oven.  

A Christmas Story House Turkey Dinner Mommy on the Spot
I was just waiting for the Bumpass Hounds to crash on in.

We saw Ralphie and Randy’s room.  

A Christmas Story House Ralphie and Randy's Bedroom Mommy on the Spot
I could almost hear Ralphie's mom yell, "Ralphie, on the double!"

And check out the decorations in their room.  

A Christmas Story House Oh Fudge Mommy on the Spot
I think this one speaks for itself.

I even pretended to call Mrs. Schwartz! I know the photo is blurry, but I couldn’t resist!

A Christmas Story House Calling Mrs. Schwartz Mommy on the Spot
"He didn't hear it from his father!  He heard it from your son!"

Afterwards, we went to the museum and saw some actual photos and costumes from the movie.  (My favorite was the Ralphie’s mom’s dress and bathrobe)!

Then we did some damage at the gift shop.  
A Christmas Story House Leg Lamp Salt and Pepper Shakers Mommy on the Spot
Leg Lamp salt and pepper shakers? Yes, please!

I’m so glad that we did this together as a family and had a great time!  The kids might have thought I was crazy since they don’t share the same affinity for A Christmas Story as me (not yet, at least), but I hope they have some warm, fuzzy memories. 

A Christmas Story House Family Photo Mommy on the Spot
So close to being our Christmas card photo.

Not only am I glad that we did this, but I am feeling inspired that someone took his passion and made a living from it. 

What a way to start off this holiday season!

**I was not compensated for this post.  This was just us on a family getaway and was so awesome I wanted to share.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thankful Thursday: Yoga and Kids

This week I really had to struggle to find things to be thankful for.  I have had A LOT on my mind, and I feel it all came crashing in on me this morning when I had my first ocular migraine since I was 25, which may or may not have coincided with getting married that year.  So yes, I did my best to shut that down (the migraine, not the wedding) so I could plow through my to do list.  And in retrospect, if I had to do plan that wedding over again, I would seriously consider eloping.  But in the spirit of focusing on thankfulness, I will save that for another post.

This week I am thankful for yoga.  Red Lotus Yoga is one of my most favorite places in the whole entire world.  I know I have said it before here, here, and here , but I always leave recharged and more positive.  This week I was able to make to yoga TWICE!  The main message was to think about how we could apply what we learn about our edge on the mat to life off the mat, especially around the holidays.  The same breath we use to work through a difficult pose can be applied to a difficult personal situation.  I really needed to be reminded of this, especially when it is so easy for me to get wrapped up in drama.  Thank you, Red Lotus, for offering me respite during the holiday season.

I am also thankful for my kids.  Lately, I feel that I am just pushing through to the next thing, the next task, and the next item on the never-ending to do list.  Today I had two special moments that made me pause and be thankful for the magic hidden in everyday moments.

Here is a picture of Marie.  She was so proud to dress up like an author.  When I took this photo of her, she said, “Are you taking this photo so when I become an author at my first book signing, you will show this to me?”

thankful thursday mommy on the spot

I was struck by the confidence of her voice, void of any doubt and full of certainty.  I was inspired how she is so sure of herself without any sense of cockiness.  It made me question why I feel the need to temper my dreams and accomplishments.

I am also thankful for Thomas.  Here is a photo of us after lunch, cuddling on the couch as I read him his Lego catalog.  He kept on making sure I was covered on the blanket because he didn’t want me to be cold.  At lunch, he said I never have to ask for a taste of his macaroni and cheese because I can just have it.

thankful thursday mommy on the spot

He has the biggest heart of anyone I know, and I am so thankful for that.

What are you feeling thankful for today? 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Raw Chicken Dare: Thanksgiving, Roasted Turkey, and Anne Burrell

Awhile back, Elizabeth from Flourish in Progress dared us to do something that scared us. I chose the only fear that I could reasonably conquer while still raising babies: my fear of raw chicken. I made progress, but never did the final step of cooking a whole raw bird. And for a little background, I had a terrifying fear of raw poultry. At my lowest of my low, I refused to buy it and eat only precooked chicken strips I a bag. On the rare occasion when I did cook raw chicken, I had some weird rituals about cleaning with bleach and using paper towels, but a lot of that has been alleviated with the new recommendations of not rinsing the chicken before cooking.

 Well, that and therapy.

I decided it was time to just do it already.  Mostly because we are hosting Thanksgiving. I was excited, yet the whole never having cooked a turkey before was looking over me. And because I'm one to prepare, I decided to practice on some chickens before the big day. I mean, I didn't want to fail and have to make peanut butter and jelly for everyone. I just don't think the wine would have paired well with that, no?

So I finally decided to try Anne Burrell's recipe from Cook like a Rock Star. The chopping of herbs and vegetables was totally in my comfort zone, but the separating of the skin to apply the herb paste and trussing the chicken was totally not in my comfort zone.

Here is a photo essay of how I conquered my fear if raw chicken.  All photos are taken by my dad since Harrington decided it would be better to take the kids out of the house incase I freaked out and had a nervous breakdown.

First, I got a kick ass pan. It made me feel really grown up, not unlike the first time I wore red lipstick to a dance in junior high. 

roasted chicken raw chicken dare calphalon roaster mommy on the spot

Then I chopped up vegetables - easy peasy.

vegetables roasted chicken mommy on the spot raw chicken dare

The bag of guts. So gross. But not as gross as the blood that drained out. Blech.

roasted chicken raw chicken dare mommy on the spot bag of guts

Then, as Anne Burrell said, I lubed up the chicken. I cut my nails so incredibly short that there was no way a colony of salmonella could grow under there.

roasted chicken raw chicken dare mommy on the spot herb paste
My hand is in between the skin and the flesh.  I don't even know who I am anymore.

roasted chicken raw chicken dare mommy on the spot herb paste

roasted chicken raw chicken dare mommy on the spot herb paste
I can't believe that I am doing this.

Trussing was confusing. I watched Anne Burrell's YouTube clip like 5 times because my spatial relations skills rival that of a 3 year old. So I practiced.

 On my mom's thumbs.

raw chicken dare roasted chicken mommy on the spot trussing
Kinda like Cat's Cradle, no?

raw chicken dare roasted chicken mommy on the spot trussing
Trussing for real.

raw chicken dare roasted chicken mommy on the spot trussing

raw chicken dare roasted chicken mommy on the spot trussing
I did it! Yay!

Then I put the birds in the oven so I could start my OCD sanitizing rituals. I wash my hands and forearms as if I was scrubbing in for surgery.

raw chicken dare roasted chicken mommy on the spot santizing
I am scrubbing in for surgery!  Doesn't everyone wash their forearms after handling raw poultry?

Then I wipe the counter clean as many times as it takes my soul to feel clean. This day it was only 3, but I've gone as many as 10 20.  I may have changed my shirt in fear that some contaminated paste may have gotten on it. Extreme? Perhaps. But I have a raw effing chicken in my kitchen so let's just focus on the positive.

raw chicken dare roasted chicken mommy on the spot santizing

When the birds came out delicious and juicy, I felt elated. I was just aiming to not kill anyone with undercooked poultry. But it tasted delicious! I'm thinking this is similar to someone jumping out of Airplane to conquer her fear of heights. I feel invincible! Roasted turkey? Yes! Roast beef? Let's do it!   Pork roast?  Bring it.

raw chicken dare roasted chicken mommy on the spot
Ta Da!  The final product!

Have you ever conquered a fear?  How did you go about doing it?