Archive for December, 2007

New Year’s Eve 2007

What do you do for New Year’s?

The holiday brings out the cranky, middle aged me. We don’t go to parties – why risk the roads, and make arrangements for the kids and dogs should we decide to stay overnight? Plus, I rarely drink at all, alcohol is a migraine trigger for me.

So, we stay home, play board games, watch movies, and tune the tv to the crowd at Times Square when it nears midnight. We open a bottle of champagne, and I drink about 1/2″ worth. The last few years, our family has made fondue on New Year’s eve; cheddar beer fondue for a main course, and chocolate fondue for dessert. We get annoyed at the neighborhood fireworks; we live near a reservation, so they’re plentiful, and they stress the dogs and cost us sleep.

I gave the boys the option of going over to Seattle to the giant street party and fireworks display at the Space Needle, but they said they’d rather hang out at home, warm and dry.

On New Year’s day we take down the Christmas decorations and stow them away. My mom has an open house, but we were on the road so much at Christmas we’ll probably stay home for New Year’s day. (Plus, I’d just as soon not share my head cold with the world.)

I try not to make resolutions, nor dwell on the ones that I tried not to make last year.

What do you and yours do to celebrate the holiday?

Posted on Monday, December 31st, 2007 by Jeri
Under: holidays | 12 Comments »

Womb for Rent

An article in today’s news brings new meaning to offshore outsourcing.

In synopsis, clinics in India are providing full-service surrogate pregnancies to affluent Western women. The western parents-to-be get a bargain-priced baby, and the Indian surrogates make more money in a single pregnancy than they can make in a decade of hard manual labor.

According to the article, the Western parents-to-be are screened, and only those with evidence of medical problems impairing fertility are accepted as clients. Right. And – although I’ve never experienced the pain of infertility – whatever happened to playing the cards you were dealt?

And surrogate mothers are screened as well, they must be between 18 and 45, in good health, and have had at least one child. Once accepted, they live in the clinic, receiving constant medical observation, and their family is allowed to visit them. So, we’re creating a society where bearing another couple’s child rather than raising your own is a reasonable and acceptable bargain – if you’re poor enough?

This feels far closer to the dystopian future of Handmaid’s Tale than is comfortable for me. There is an an elite class of women whose wealth and circumstance confer upon them the opportunity to raise children – and an underclass of women whose poverty drives them to bear the medical risk and personal family consequences of giving birth to others’ children.

Who am I to tell these poor Indian women that they cannot rent out their wombs for more money than they can possibly make any other way? And for that matter, who am I to tell them that they cannot sell a kidney (they have a spare) nor a cornea (binocular vision isn’t essential)?

I’ll leave the ultimate question of right or wrong, good or bad, to those more versed in logical and ethical analysis. Personally, my gut reaction is that it’s wrong, wrong, wrong — classist, greedy, and oppressive.

Posted on Sunday, December 30th, 2007 by Jeri
Under: news | 7 Comments »

Italian Wedding Soup

This weekend’s adventure in soupmaking was Italian wedding soup.

It’s a clear meat broth filled with little bite size meatballs, just-cooked greens and elegant strands of egg. (OK, elegant when done by a pro, mine were just sorta lumpy.)

I used a recipe from Food Network, linked above. The three alterations I made – because I must alter recipes, it’s a compulsion – were:

  • use half beef broth and half chicken
  • double the meatballs since ground beef & pork come in 1 lb packages. Double was probably too much; 1 ½ would have been
  • made the meatballs by substituting packaged garlic herb breadcrumbs for the hand torn white bread & the meatball spices.

The ambitious Giada indicates 15 minutes of prep time and 20 minutes of cooking time. The cook time was accurate, but there’s no way anyone is making dozens and dozens of tiny meatballs in 15 minutes – not to mention the rest of the prep. She must have a crew of cook-slaves in her kitchen to do mundane tasks like making meatballs and washing and drying escarole.

It was a very good, filling soup – we will make it again.

Posted on Sunday, December 30th, 2007 by Jeri
Under: cooking | Comments Off

Taking Cover

HelicoptersMy family room is a dangerous place today. The dogs are hiding out on the back porch, and I’m typing this with a sofa pillow held over my head.

It’s raining helicopters.

My husband asked for a pair of mini R/C helicopters for Christmas, and he and the younger son are flying them now.

They are small, erratic aircraft with sharp little rotors and highly limited actual remote control. If they clip anything – the ceiling, the wall, another chopper, they immediately fall from the sky onto who or whatever is underneath them. (I’d assume this is fairly similar to real helicopters. ;) )

While the guys are having great fun, I think it’s time for the dogs and I to beat a strategic withdrawal to somewhere safe, like my home office. With the doors closed.

Posted on Saturday, December 29th, 2007 by Jeri
Under: entertainment | 5 Comments »

Musical Marathon

We are watching a movie musical marathon this Christmas break.

The oldest son, Ben, is a drama and music geek. His dream is to sing the Phantom in Phantom of the Opera. He’s in two plays in Jan and Feb, and his drama teacher has asked him to watch other noted musical theatre pieces to study different character types and musical styles. (You can’t perform everything in gothic Phantom fashion!)

So, on our list:

  • Hello, Dolly. We watched the Barbra Streisand/Walther Matthau version which was wonderful.
  • Fiddler on the Roof. We saw the Norman Jewison-directed version starring Topol, also a great show.
  • Chicago. Ben watched this last night, said it was depressing.
  • Hairspray. Ben enjoyed this, especially got a kick out of John Travolta in drag.
  • Rent. Ben enjoyed the music but was missing the cultural context to really follow the plot.
  • Guys and Dolls. Up next!
  • Singing in the Rain
  • Music Man
  • My Fair Lady
  • Grease. I saw this when it first came out, but his generation has not.

I’ve been watching the shows I haven’t seen before with him. It’s been fascinating to range through fifty years worth of filmmaking, as well as the longer historical view of some of the productions.

As I posted previously, we did all go see Spamalot in its off-Broadway tour this fall and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Jersey Boys is playing at the Paramount this winter break, although it’s never been on my list of must-see musicals. I’m not sure I want to spend $80 a ticket on a show that I’m not that interested in.

We are going to see a live production of Phantom of the Opera in Vegas in February – that’s his graduation present, 2nd row seats and a backstage pass.

It’s been fun – we’re getting a lot of entertainment out of encouraging his interests!

Posted on Friday, December 28th, 2007 by Jeri
Under: entertainment | 11 Comments »