Thursday, December 31, 2009

doing just a little bit o'good

just before 11:00 on christmas day, a tahoe full of do-gooders arrived in pasadena and parked here:



then crossed the street and arrived here:



stood in line to check in here:



and accepted duties to stand at long tables laden with food provided by countless other volunteers here:



walked past tables full of folks creating holiday cards here:



and then found their places in long lines in the bright sun here:



one found himself standing in front of a couple of actors, loudly discussing their previous roles in shows and miniseries here:



a couple of camera whores stopped to snap themselves here:



the teen made a face as hairnets and plastic gloves were passed out here:



a super duper dork promptly unwrapped hers, plopped it on her head and grinned happily here:



the teen grudgingly acquiesced and donned her lovely net here:



then the dork nearly gagged as this super goobery dude stood in front of her in line wearing this t-shirt advertising the kama sutra (ewwwww!) here:



after an hour of waiting, the group finally found themselves tapping the previous shift on the shoulder to release them from their duties to take their places here:



and found that there were more volunteers than homeless folks to feed as they ended up serving food to more of the former than the latter here:



meanwhile, more and more trays of donated food continued to be dropped off and added to the pile here:



after maybe fifteen minutes of serving, the teen and the rest of the gang found themselves on the receiving end of those shoulder taps and began heading back to the parking lot here:



and arrived home, nearly an hour ahead of schedule, and sat down together to enjoy lunch here:



next time, we're gonna find another organization that actually needs our help. we'd stood in line for the entire first hour of our "shift," served food to more fellow volunteers (we couldn't understand how they felt okay actually accepting that food!) than those in need, and felt rather like cattle that was herded from one line to the next without actually having provided any real service. there was much disappointment here.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

making christmas wishes come true

the hub and i capped off christmas eve by playing santa and elf. while i wrapped the last of the gifts for the girls to open the next morning, he sat on the floor and opened the giant, 40-pound box that contained the bean's new dollhouse. when he'd expressed his concerns over the size of the box, MIL and i brushed it off. "it's probably mostly packaging," we said.

heh.



the damn thing was almost bigger than the entire apartment. holy hell. and yet i couldn't stop giggling every time the hub stopped to give me the evil eye as he worked. it was just so ridiculously funny.

meanwhile, i was busy crafting an envelope out of wrapping paper to place these in the teen's stocking:



i knew she'd had no clue that i'd scored tickets for the love of her life's upcoming concert, despite the zillion times i almost slipped up and either said something in her presence or via twitter. i was totally excited to see her reaction to these.

i'd spoken to my cousin/MOH, r, earlier in the week. she and her man were in town for the holidays, and we'd compared schedules to see when we could connect. i'd told her that i had no plans to attend the family christmas party, and since she knows the backstory, we decided to meet up on christmas day sometime in the afternoon. and then she dropped some awesome news: they're engaged! i'm so excited for them, and stopped off at barnes & noble to pick up my customary gift for brides with a brand new sparkler on their finger:



i was particularly amused at the second magazine, which carried the tagline "inspirations for the asian bride." living in colorado, i had a feeling this wouldn't be readily available for her once they returned home, and i giggled as i anticipated her reaction.

even mollydog had a couple of presents to play with on christmas morning, courtesy of the hub. as much as he professes to hate that dog, i know deep down he loves her as much as the rest of us do.



finally, the gifts were wrapped, the dollhouse was fully assembled, and the stockings were filled. it was late, but we sat around reading for a while before we finally went to bed, knowing we had a long (but fun) day ahead of us.



and like clockwork, the bean was up by 7:30. we had her scurry into her sister's room to wake her up, and then she came into the living room and got a first look at her new toy. "dollyhouse!" she exclaimed, and ran right over to check it out.



when the initial excitement wore off, she picked up a stocking and brought it over to me.



the dog liked her presents.



the first thing the bean saw in her stocking was a tin of her favorite things in the whole world. "emenemenemens! open, please," she said. and since the same rule applies on christmas as it does on one's birthday in the wan house, she got what she asked for - despite the fact that we hadn't yet had breakfast. nor had she gone potty in the chair, which is usually the sole condition under which she's allowed these little treats.



the teen required just a little prompting before she dug into her own stocking. and she loved everything in there, from the juicy perfumes to the concert tickets to a pair of jonas brothers socks. and, in keeping with the theme, she also received a new JB calendar for her room.



the bean saw the light.



having failed miserably last year to secure one of these mascara bonanzas for the teen, i'd made sure to order it online the moment i'd heard they were once again available. she seemed pretty happy to find it under the wrapping paper.



meanwhile, the bean continued to unwrap presents quite happily.


the teen laughed as she opened her snuggie, and promptly pulled it out to wear.



at last, it was time for the final gift - the pièce de résistance. because i'm a butthole, i'd wrapped it in several layers of paper. she untied the ribbon:


ripped off the first two layers, and groaned as she realized what was happening:



but it was well worth the suspense.



because of operation downsize, she figured that the #1 item on her wish list was waaaaay out of reach. and actually, for a long time, it was. but the hub managed to pull a rabbit out of a hat and was able to swing it this year - the long-awaited, much-desired macbook.



and as she pulled it out of the box and powered that puppy up, she grabbed her phone to send a triumphant text to a friend who'd wanted one just as much as she had. said friend had beat her to the punch, texting her the afternoon before to gloat over the early christmas gift he'd opened.



my stocking yielded some super fun reading material, a sweet card, and some always-needed lip balm.



but that wasn't the end of my surprises - i opened a big box to find something i'd least expected: the boots i'd coveted for months. and since i've kept my hatred for my current 'do quiet from the hub, who would no doubt utter an "i told you so" or two, he snapped away as i excitedly modeled my new shitkickers.



this was a present i'd bought for myself.



in case you were wondering, i'd bought the hub just one small gift - a padded shooting vest he'd mentioned wanting a few weeks ago. so romantic, i know. but then, right after i ordered it, we'd agreed that our gifts to each other would be the fact that we'd been able to buy that laptop for the teen. seemed like a good idea to me. heh.

as we finished up the gift-opening and admired all of our new loot, we had the yule log on in the background.

Link

i scurried into the kitchen to make some breakfast - nutella-filled æbleskivers. it'd been a while since i made a batch of these delightful little puff pancakes, and in poring over recipes and debating them with the teen, she decided this was what she wanted for christmas breakfast.



in between bites, the bean had a blast with her new "dollyhouse." i love the nutella smudge on her cheek.



and then she decided she wanted to try out my new boots. kinda gives "over-the-knee boots" a whole new meaning.



after we were all showered and ready, we headed over to the grandparents' house, where i was going to cook christmas dinner. the roasting rack was all ready for me, with a nice, thick layer of rock salt in the bottom of the pan.



FIL took out the ginormous slab of meat we'd bought at restaurant depot, unwrapped it, and sliced off a chunk to make it fit on the rack.



per the lawry's recipe, i sprinkled the fatty cap of the meat liberally with seasoned salt.



as soon as we popped the still-mooing pan into the oven, we took off. FIL, brother wan, the hub, the teen and i had volunteered to help serve christmas dinner to homeless folks in the pasadena area, and our shift started at 11. at the last minute, brother wan's new girlfriend decided to join us too. more on that in the next post - it needs its own space.

later, after we'd returned to the grandparents', it was time to exchange gifts. most of them were for the girls, as the rest of us had decided to scale back big-time on presents this year. operation downsize was in effect for more than just us in 2009.

the bean had fun going through a giant gift bag from her uncle, full of adorable new clothes.



the teen sat quietly in the corner, unwrapping the gifts that the ILs had bought her during last week's shopping spree.



once the bag was empty, the bean decided to play bag lady with it.



look - a sorely-needed, much appreciated whole new wardrobe!



the ILs had a couple of things for her to open, too. the first was this cute little game that blew colorful little "butterflies" into the air. there were little nets included for catching them in. it was totally cute.



see?



MIL had tried and liked this lemon-scented lotion at sephora last week, and so i'd made a mental note to return and scoop it up for her. she was quite appreciative and twisted it open right away to moisturize her hands. the bean got in on the action, too.



she was super excited to open a new "blue's clues" DVD.



by then, the prime rib was ready. look at how much it shrank! but it was ribeye - which always means a lot of fat marbled throughout the meat. yay for flavorful, tender beef!



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brother wan and i whipped out the side dishes - mashed potatoes and super rich additions: creamed spinach and creamed corn. oh, so good.



i made up plates for me and the hub and then sat down to stuff myself silly.



but not before admiring my fabulous boots again.



i'd also whipped up a batch of those delicious hot cocoa-flavored, marshmallow-topped cookies. i placed a dollop of chocolate topping on each one and left them to set while we cleaned up.



MIL was the first to make herself something hot to drink, and i plopped one of those little mini-houses onto the rim of her mug.



the rest of them were lined up carefully on the table, next to the rest of the dessert line-up.



the bean is a magnet to coffee. her radar picked up her grandma's hot mug, and she made a beeline for it.



"drink it, grandma?" she asked. "have some?" but when she was denied a sip of coffee under the disapproving eye of her mommy and daddy, she settled for a nibble of the cookie house instead. "emenemenemens!" she chortled happily.

merry christmas to all, and to all a good night!
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