Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Goodbye 2014

Today is the last day of 2014.  In addition to meaning another year is being left behind us, it also means that for the third year in a row, my family and I have successfully completed the Holidailies challenge of posting entries to our blog every day of this month – with each of us contributing one out of every 4 entries.  Life is ordinarily chock full and December is even busier than the rest of the year.  Which makes our accomplishment all the more impressive to me.  I am very proud of our family and feel so blessed to have each of you in my life!

For my last entry of 2014, I want to highlight some of my personal favorites of the year:

-- Numerous school concerts for both kids (including 2 performances at School Board meetings and Holly in All-County Chorus)
-- Walking miles and miles of the Old Croton Aqueduct trail
-- Lots of summer tennis at Maplewood (even more than last year)
-- Lots of early morning and weekend workouts at Planet Fitness – more gym visits this year than any other year I can remember
-- Amazing performances by both kids in The Sound of Music, Godspell, Humans of New York (the musical), Crazy For You, Romeo and Juliet and The Wizard Of Oz
-- Our Universal Studios/Disney World trip in February – it amazes me how different our trips are every 3 years based on how much the kids have changed in the interval
-- Our Spring break trip to Hawaii – so much fun, hiking, snorkeling, doing yoga on the beach at sunset, attending a luau, coming out of the epic sunset each night, massages at the spa and more.
-- Our summer trip to Norway – we didn’t really know what to expect and we ended up really enjoying and experiencing new things.  Personal favorite was hiking, kayaking and rib boating on the fjords
-- Our Christmas week trip to Dallas/Fort Worth – crazy Christmas decorations at Gaylord Texas, best bbq ribs (Lockharts) and brisket (Pecan Lodge) we ever ate, got to learn about Texas history, created our own film festival and spent some quality time together.
-- Grayson’s first foray in attending sleep away camp at French Woods – it was much harder on us having her away that long that it was on her being away.
-- Reed getting his learner’s permit and learning to drive
-- Laughing our butts off with our friends at the Telluride Film Festival (and not having to work during the festival this year)
-- Lots of Broadway shows (including Grayson's obsession, Heathers the Musical), movies and family dinners
-- Starting our college visits with Reed
-- Reed auditioning for and making Chamber Choir

Wishing all of you a happy and healthy 2015 filled with fun, love and laughter.

-- Frosty

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Nemo On The Roof

Remember when I wrote about the similarity between Frank Underwood and Macbeth? This piece is gong to be a bit similar.

After doing some kickass character analysis, I came to a fabulous realization of an intense similarity between the constable from The Fiddler on the Roof and Bruce the shark from Finding Nemo.

In case you are uncultured, allow me to remind you who they are: 

The constable is essentially the antagonist of the show who is originally friendly with the Jews of Anatevka until his Russian heritage forces him to turn against them. 

Bruce is also more or less the antagonist of the movie who originally tries to be friendly with the fish until his carnivorous nature kicks in and he too turns against his original friends. 

Do you see what I'm getting at here? I know. I've blown your mind once again. What can I say, I just can't help myself. But seriously though, it's pretty crazy. Remember the line from Nemo where Bruce tries to control himself from opening up to his true nature, "Fish are friends, not food"? You could basically insert the same line into Fiddler for the constable and it would work. Jews are friends, not... enemies? I guess. Just something to think about. 


- Frosty

Monday, December 29, 2014

When in Texas, Eat as the Texans Do

My parents read that in Texas, there are three types of main restaurants. Tex-Mex, Steakhouse, and BBQ. Today we ate a TON of food. And when we did, we hit 2 of the 3 types. We ate small croissants at the hotel for breakfast, and then we drove for like 45 mins to a hiking spot where we were going to go on a nature walk. To my GREATEST dismay, the path was closed, so we drove to a barbecue place, called Lockhart Smokehouse, instead. We ate awesome prime rib, chile rubbed pork loin, beef brisket, pork ribs, and they were SO GOOD. I ate until I barely had room for a dessert of s'mores bread pudding (without raisins!). After that, we want to an art gallery and a museum in Fort Worth, and then, we ate more! We went to a Tex-Mex place called Torchy's Tacos. We ate an array of fajitas with beef, chicken, beef, and chorizo, and then ate Lil' Nookies (fried cookie dough balls) that were amazing. All in all, it was a successful day in the stomachs of the 4 Calling Birds.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Favorite Things In Westchester And Beyond

A Alamo Drafthouse movie theater in Yonkers: great movies, unique preview short clips, bottomless bowls of  popcorn and the best peanut butter chocolate milkshakes anywhere!

B Broadway Shows - My family has been fortunate to see a wealth a shows this year: Heathers, Book of Mormon, Curious Incident of the Dog in Nighttime, This Is Our Youth, Once, On the Town, Kinky Boots, Hedwig & the Angry Inch, All the Way, Nutcracker

C Classic Christmas in NY - Window shopping, visiting Santa at Macy's, and hot cocoa at City Bakery. yum!

D Driving, driving everywhere has taken on new meaning with a new driver in the house working on his permit. 

E Edgemont - Our small but spectacular community in southern Westchester.

F Film Festival in Telluride, Colorado - Eating, drinking, hiking, good friends and fabulous films.

G Gaucho Grill in White Plains - Delicious steaks, great service, but most importantly: Mojito perfection!!

H Hudson River - Beautiful views, lovely to hike along and great restaurants dot the shoreline.

I Immaculate Heart of Mary - Spending a lot of time at church this year readying my daughter for her Confirmation.

J Jack o Lantern Blaze - Unique Halloween-tastic display of jack o lanterns at Van Cortlandt Manor.

K Kensico Dam - Awesome place to ride a bike up around and down, with beautiful views.

L La Bella Havana Cuban food in Yonkers. How could something so simple as rice & beans be sooo delicious!

M Maplewood Club - My absolute favorite place to play tennis in the summer.  Where else can you find courts in the *shade*?

N Noni's in Scarsdale - has the best sandwiches. Period.

O The OCA (Old Croton Aqueduct) Trail - In 2014, I have been thoroughly enjoying continuing to walk this 44 mile trail a few miles at a time with my family.  Great conversation, fresh air and great exercise!

P Planet Fitness - convenient, right around the corner from Starbuck's and super cheap at $10/month.

Q Quenching my thirst at the aforementioned Starbucks's

R Rye Playland - love the boardwalk, perfect place to get my salt-air fix and view of Long Island Sound

S Snow Days - nothing beats being housebound with family while watching the white stuff pile up outside.

T Travel - As much fun as Westchester is to be in, it is also fun to occasionally get out.  Travel this year included the obligatory tri-annual trip to Walt Disney World, Hawaii, Norway, and Dallas.  

U Universities - Time to start the college tours.  So many to choose from....

V Volunteering - Plenty of opportunities to do unto others here in Westchester: in the school district, through the Junior League of Central Westchester, etc.

W Westchester Mall - Been around for 20 years and still a great mall to shop at!

X eXploration - love that you can drive 20 minutes north and go apple picking at an orchard or drive 20 minutes south and go to a comedy club in the City.

Y Yoga Haven - Best place in Westchester to get your Namaste on!

Z Zoo - Bronx Zoo, that is. The closest you can get to gorillas ever - side by side through a glass wall.

Thanks for reading. 

- Eve

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Broadway Day

As part of the kids' Christmas gifts this year, we planned a Broadway Day -- two shows in one day with dinner in between. 

The first show was "This Is Our Youth", a comedy by Kenneth Lonergan. It starred Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin and Tavi Gevinson. While I enjoyed the show, and especially the performances, I couldn't shake the feeling that the actors were performing an early draft. I'm sure there are plenty of people who loved the show and will say I'm nuts but it just didn't feel fully formed to me. It is billed as a comedy and there were certainly funny parts, but the tone was not very comedic and there was not much humor in the ending. Plus the dialogue got repetitive a number of times, rehashing ground that had been covered just moments before.  All that being said, the most pleasant surprise for me was Kieran Culkin. It has been many years since I've seen him in anything. He gave a performance that was bold, daring and delivered some of the biggest laughs. Overall, interesting and enjoyable but not my favorite play. 

The second show was the musical, "Once" based on the movie. The show is closing on Broadway on January 4th. This is the second time Pat and I saw it and we thoroughly enjoyed it both times. The voices were amazing, it was inventively staged on a single set and the musicianship of the entire cast (each of whom plays at least one instrument throughout the show) is so impressive. Unlike the first show, Once tells a complete story and feels fully formed. My wife felt the acting and writing were better written and more consistent. My daughter left the theater asking if we could buy the Broadway cast recording. 

Both kids enjoyed both shows. My daughter, who generally prefers musicals over plays, preferred Once, saying that she found TIOY a bit depressing. My son said he enjoyed both shows. He said TIOY kept his attention throughout the entire show while he felt Once was slow at times. Both kids really enjoyed and appreciated Broadway Day and it led to some interesting discussions about the shows. The weather cooperates and made it pleasant to walk around the city so overall a very fun and successful day. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road?

One of humankind’s most asked questions is the one I’ve asked above: why did the chicken cross the road? I think the answer is pretty simple, to be honest. It’s chock full of symbolism, metaphors, and wisdom concerning the human experience. Why did the chicken cross the road? One reason is to find out what lies beyond. For the limited and mindless world of the chicken, what is across the road is almost beyond comprehension. When you’re a bird that is generally regarded as less than intelligent and you exist so that you and your babies can be eaten by humans, I think that it’s perfectly understandable that what is “on the other side” becomes an area of mystery. Think about it. It’s almost like our perception of death. We just don’t know what lies beyond the concrete walkway of life. We can guess all we want, but we will never really know, yet it gives us a mysterious sense of purpose. When the chicken tries to cross the road, it is in the pursuit of the answer to a question that it can’t really answer. It gives the chicken a reason to live, besides becoming shish kabob. When somebody really dramatically says, “I’ll see you on the other side”, in a movie or something, they mean that wherever they end up after they endure whatever the hell it is they’re doing, they will be together in an entirely different and mysterious kind of place. When the chicken crosses the road it is very simply trying to find out what is “on the other side”. The chicken is trying to discover that other place that we just can’t wrap our heads around. It will never find it, but the whole act of it is built on an existential idea. That’s right. A dumb joke you’ve heard all of your life is really a parody of existentialism and the purpose of the human experience. I know I probably just blew you mind, so take a couple of minutes to take it all in.

I’d like to include a disclaimer that I was not under the influence of any substances, legal or illegal, while writing this piece.



Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Traditions

The dictionary definition of tradition is:



[truh-dish-uh n] 
the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs,information, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice

But, the question often posed is, “If a tradition is new, how can it be a tradition?” The answer is, well, I’m not really sure. But I do know that the traditions that certain groups of people keep reflect who they are as a group. And that once you create something that you want to be a tradition, like always putting the star on top of your tree, as long as you keep at whatever it is you want to do, it will eventually become a tradition.

My family has many Christmas traditions. Some of the things that my family does on Christmas (and Christmas Eve) have been traditions for as long I can remember. On Christmas Eve, or Eve’s birthday, we first go out for lunch at a nice restaurant, and then we hang out at home before caroling. After we carol, we go to church and watch the little kids perform the Christmas pageant. After we get home, we eat Eve’s favorite birthday cake of War Cake (see Ode to War Cake to learn more). I sleep on Rudolph’s bedroom floor on an air mattress so that Grandma can sleep in my bed. We watch The Polar Express, and then Rudolph and I go to bed so Saint Nick can bring gifts. We wake up in the morning, open gifts and stockings in a flurry of thank yous and wrapping paper. Afterwards we end up napping, reading one of the news books we got, or helping make dinner. We eat dinner, consisting of sauerbraten and Kartuffel Gloesse, pickled beef and potato balls. We end up just sitting around and watching some of our new movies. Christmas traditions are my favorite traditions.

Merry Christmas!

Love and Mistletoe, Holly

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Birthday Reflections

So today is my birthday, it is Christmas Eve, and I have to write my blog entry.  Kind of feel like I have to write something about milestones or life reflections, and that is certainly a worthy exercise.

Let’s see, at the ripe old age of 47 er… 48, I am exactly the same distance from 28 as I am from 68.  Gives you pause, doesn’t it? 

What would I tell my 28 year old self?  The first thing that comes to mind is: Take better care of your knees!  Although I am not exactly sure how I would have done that – which is probably why I didn’t do it in the first place.

The second thing that jumps in my mind is don’t spend too much energy and effort on people who are not worthy of the finite amount of time one spends on this Earth.   As the song says, we’ve only got a 100 years to live.

The third thing I would say to my 28 year old self is: Good job!  You are on the right track building a beautiful family, a wonderful group of friends and a nice career.

Now, the next question is: what shall I tell my 68 year old self? Yes, continue to take care of your knees…but what else?

To my 68 year old self I would say: I am doing my best to continue a good work/life balance.  I am trying my hardest with daily exercise and sleep (okay, I promise to work on that one a little bit more) and trying to eat as many vegetables as I can.

Next, I would say to my future self: I promise to get all of those photos in albums before I have grandchildren and take even more photos!

And lastly, I think I would say: I promise to continue to enjoy the ride and live with purpose, making many new memories so I will have a whole library to reflect on come the day.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!