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DIY snow globes

It all goes by so fast!

One day you’re telling your kids, “It’s August! We are not talking about Halloween costumes yet!” And the next, Christmas is over.

I love the rev-up and all the energy and the happiness and kindness at this time of the year. What I don’t love is the feeling I have when it’s all over. The feeling that lead me to ask the grocery store clerk yesterday, “When do I let it all go?”

“Let what go?”

“Um. Christmas?”

She paused.

“Right now. Today. Christmas is over.”

Talk about a crash-landing!

But before I go packing it all up, let’s have the week in review, shall we? Behold, my cell phone pics from the last seven days. You can follow me on Instagram if you like.

"...you're the shit!"I had a student my first year teaching at the high school level who was so much fun. Years later, I taught her little brother. He was also so much fun and such a great, voice-filled writer. This year I supervised a big essay he had to write as a senior, and I have never seen a kid more thankful in my life. He gave me this note and a gift card to the awesome pizza joint where he works.

A $37.50 gift card, to be precise. He thought $50 was “awkwardly large” and $25 wasn’t enough, so he split the difference. And, as you can see, he is the first student to tell me I’m the sh&*. Whoa. 

I have arrived!

gift bags for the homelessWe started off our winter break with each of the girls making a gift bag for a homeless person. I loved that they stuck in things like Christmas cards and cookies and stocking caps and carrots. We drove around to find someone to give each one to, and they were both so very grateful. My girls insisted on getting out of the car and walking them up to each person. I loved that they weren’t afraid and that we talk about this issue enough for them to know that everyone has value.

At dinner that night, while sharing the best part of her day, Annabelle said it was this activity. I’m not gonna lie – I felt like I had done something right!

On Christmas Eve, we passed one of the gentlemen, and he was wearing his new, warm hat. He waved and smiled and gave us a thumbs-up. It felt so good!

my straight, red hairWhen I’m not saving the world – haha! – I am obsessing over my hair. The first day of the break I totally gave in to a lot of me-time and self-care. I got my hair cut and let them blow it straight. This is what I ended up with. I read an entire “Sunset” magazine in one sitting, took my kids to a play, and then took myself to see….

"Hunger Games: Catching Fire" ticket stub…the newest Hunger Games movie, while the mister took them to a Christmas party. This movie was way better than the first one. Way. Way. Better.

Expect a review soon.

Going to the movies is part of Christmas for me. It reminds me of college breaks and seeing a zillion of the newest releases with my friends back home. In fact, this afternoon I am off to see “American Hustle” with my brother! I am on a Jennifer Lawrence streak.

sweater mugMy friend Chris? She read in my blog that I saw this cute mug at Target, and then she bought me one as a hostess gift for my cookie party last week! A mug with a sweater! Is there anything cuter?! So thoughtful.

DIY snow globesI know Pinterest is crazy and makes us all feel like we are not doing enough. But once in a while you’ve just got to give one of the things a try. My girls and I made these super-easy snow globes last weekend. Seriously: jars, hot glue, little trees, and Epsom salts. No water! Instant-coziness.

"Pioneer Woman Holidays" & "Cranberry Christmas"Besides going to the movies, reading in front of the Christmas tree is my other “it feels like Christmas!” thing. I spent an afternoon reading the The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays: 140 Step-by-Step Recipes for Simple, Scrumptious Celebrations {such fun!} and my old childhood favorite, Cranberry Christmas (Cranberryport). My kids now love it, too, and Clementine’s new favorite expression is “Suffering codfish!” just like Mr. Whiskers.

Is there anyone out there who shares my love of this book?!Painting xmas eveChristmas Eve morning found these three out in the garage, painting. Yay!

Matt playing piano for GrammyChristmas Eve night found us in our usual spot: Uncle Rich and Aunt Gay’s house. Our entire family gathers there each year for appetizers and drinks and a very rowdy gift exchange. It was noticeably quieter this year with my cousins both absent, but we made do.

Matt asked my Grammy if she’d like a private concert. He played carols on what was her dad’s piano long ago. She looked like a little girl. It was such a beautiful moment.

light boxHere’s what I got for Christmas: a light box! Rad!!! I am both excited and intimidated to try it out. Matt spent hours constructing it and shouting, “Don’t come in here!!”

Thermos & "Mouseton Abbey"Seriously. I don’t need fancy things on Christmas morning. A new thermos? A new book? A new charm? A letter from Santa? Those things all say that there were people listening to my heart all year, and that’s all you really need.

Maybe a cinnamon roll or two can’t hurt…

Hope you had a Merry Christmas! Good luck putting all those decorations away…

movies to snuggle up with this summer.

One of the zillions of cool things about traveling internationally is that you get lots of time to watch lots of movies on the flights. While flying – well – sucks, we can at least all agree how awesome it is that there is rarely a movie playing overhead anymore for all {including small, curious children} to see. The advent of the movie player in the back of the headrest in front of you is a game-changer.

And because I know you’ve been dying to know what I watched, here you are. All of these are available to watch at home, so make a date with your hubby or your bestie, pop some popcorn, put your kids to bed {in no particular order}, and have a date night at home, will you? Because it’s summer. And you should stay up late.

silver-linings-playbook

Silver Linings Playbook“: For some reason, I want to start off saying that I am not one of those ladies who is ga-ga over Bradley Cooper. Back when he was on “Alias,” he was cute, but baby ducks are cute. And Jennifer Lawrence? I wasn’t super-impressed with her in “The Hunger Games.” So when she won the coveted Best Actress Oscar this year for her role in this film, my curiosity was piqued. And when the camera kept cutting to Mr. Cooper in the front row, crying and laughing and hanging on her every word, it was clear to me that they had experienced a huge connection while working on this film.

With Robert DeNiro.

Plus, she seems lovably dorky in real life, and I may know some people like that. Um, sign me up.

I watched this before I took my Ambien on the way to London: totally worth staying up for.

Here’s the thing: it’s gritty. It doesn’t quite seem locked to any one time period. It’s not flashy. It almost feels low-budget in the way “Good Will Hunting” did – they don’t need to hook you with anything but the awesome storyline. And hook you they do.

You’ve got Bradley Cooper’s character: he has spent eight months at a mental facility after going ape on his wife’s lover and discovering he has been living with bi-polar for his whole life. He’s released to the custody of his parents, who certainly have their own issues. He is trying hard to be a better man for his wife, with whom he really wants to get back together. He is like a walking self-help book, but also a ticking bomb at the same time.

And we’ve got Jennifer Lawrence’s character: she has recently lost her young husband in an accident. She’s been escaping by sleeping with everyone she knows. She loves ballroom dancing, but has never had a partner. She’s got a mouth on her and also suffers from mental illness.

They make a deal that forces them to spend time together, and it just breaks your heart in all the best ways. And Robert DeNiro playing his dad? So vulnerable. This film was just absolutely brilliantly cast. I loved every second of it. If you’ve been afraid that it’s too heavy and therefore haven’t watched it, it’s not what you think.

You can do it!

the-avengers-

Marvel’s The Avengers“: Meh. I know! I know! Everyone loved this flick last summer, and it made serious bank. Here’s why I think I diverged from popular opinion…

…I love Pepper Potts. You by now know that I love all things Gwyneth, and her nerdy – yet flirty – turn as Pepper is so incredibly entertaining. And I find Robert Downey, Jr.’s “Iron Man” to be absolutely lovable. He is funny and really an unlikely hero. And he needs Pepper to make it all work. I loved all of his scenes in this film, but there just weren’t enough. And there wasn’t enough Pepper Potts! I guess that’s why it was not called “Iron Man.” Or “Pepper Potts.” Hello – I am slow sometimes!

Will you be mad if I say I fell asleep near the end?

This is 40

“This Is 40”: Out of all the movies I watched on the return flight from Munich {a day of travel where I succeeded in staying awake for nearly 24 hours so as to stave off jet-lag!}, this was by far my absolute favorite. If you haven’t seen it, you must. Today. And then tomorrow. It’s that good.

It made me laugh out loud over and over {on a plane full of sleeping people}, cover my eyes, groan, gasp, cringe, get a little teary, and probably yell, “No he/she didn’t!!” more than once. The last movie that did this to me was Meryl Streep’s “It’s Complicated,” so it’s been a few years. And my poor co-worker Steve – he watched it on the plane, then he told me to watch it so we could talk about it, then I kept hitting him while I watched it or pausing my movie and his to be like, “What!!?? This is so good!” And when it was over we had a four-hour conversation inspired by the film, and he never got to finish the movie he was watching. I am sure he will be oh-so-happy to see me at the end of the summer when we are back at school.

This story – minus a few things and plus a few things – is what my life is like. Except I am not forty. Not YET. But it’s out there, man.

It touches on everything about being part of a marriage with kids and being an adult in mid-life: body-image, time alone, raising kids, having a career, wanting to be wanted, wanting to still be you, money, your parents still driving you nuts, date night – you name it. It’s all right here. No one knows what the heck they’re doing as a spouse or parent or even as a grown-up, and this movie is not afraid to show you.

I could point out the specific parts of the movie that I totally related to, but I have to keep some mystery from Mr. Fresh Scratch, who is so sweet that he reads this every day. We’ll talk later, okay?

"Jack Reacher"

“Jack Reacher”: Co-worker Steve had this on his iPad, and the domestic part of our journey had no free movies, so we grabbed a splitter for the head phones and watched this.

Are you a fan of Tom Cruise? I am a fan of his acting. And I think he did not smile even one time in this movie, which was too bad, because it is Tom Cruise we are talking about. But I digress.

This had brilliant cinematography and awesome chase scenes while he was driving that sweet ride in the picture above. And the plot kept turning in on itself, making me re-think everything I thought I had figured out, which I like. I enjoy a movie that keeps me on my toes.

The basic plot is that Jack Reacher is a rogue investigator who is super-smart, and he comes in to help exonerate an old Army buddy who is being charged with a killing-spree. There are meth-heads who are plotting against him, but you know it will be okay in the end, because, hey, it’s Tom Cruise. Right?

Very entertaining. Just the kind of movie that would’ve been fun to see at the drive-in.

What about you? Seen any good rentals lately? I’m always up for suggestions!