the tail-end of the year of the dragon

Hi, everyone (reading this)! Happy 2013! If your New Year’s resolution was to read more really long not-that-interesting blog posts, then … you’re welcome.

Our Christmastime/Winterpalooza was really nice. So many people skip town that London gets really quiet and peaceful almost. Luckily our Aussie friends stayed and so we had Christmas Eve lunch with them at – where else – Wagamama. And Greg came to visit the weekend right before the holiday and it was great to have him for like the 5th time or something. In his honor, we all made the terrible decision to order Papa John’s late one night. This bad American pizza does not improve on other continents. And did you know they charge extra for the garlic dipping sauce now?

IMG_2331 Line up Simon Jonah Adeline 241212

IMG_2546We bought this beautiful Winterpalooza tree this year but after just a few days, it completely dried out. Watering is not my forte- I think because I am Jewish and therefore ill-equipped in holiday decoration management. So it looked a little Charlie Brown-ish for about a week or so, but that did not dampen the pure elation and joy that little kids bring to Christmas. I feel like Jonah is at that sweet spot age: old enough to know about all the secular aspects of Christmas lore, old enough to fervently and excitedly believe in Santa Claus, and old enough to get ridiculously excited over every detail, like seeing a picture of a snowman or leaving carrots out for the reindeer, but NOT old enough to be greedy nor understand quantity, volume and monetary value when it comes to gifts. He gets as excited over a jar of bubbles as his much-requested Mike the Knight toy. We really enjoyed one of our last years before our kids start asking for iPads and mobile phones and gaming systems and cold, hard cash for bail. We also got Jonah into Elf – a win for everyone.

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Even though this was not our first rodeo, it had somehow escaped us that Boxing Day is like the biggest, craziest shopping day in the nation (and what’s with the 1/2 price perfume thing??). So when Bryan set out to exchange a shirt at Zara, I got some desperate SOS messages on my phone- in one of them he said in the store “It looked like God threw up human beings”. The possibilities for that visual have delighted me for days on end.

Bryan’s office was closed through the new year so we basically had our first ever, true Staycation. London was pretty much overcast and rainy almost every single day of it, but we did not let that deter us. We visited the:

Horniman Museum

IMG_2635Horniman is a private collection of natural history, musical instruments, photographs etc. on a huge family-friendly expanse in South London and I had been wanting to go for a while. We really enjoyed it, and the bonus at the very end were the views to central London.

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V&A Museum of Childhood

IMG_2651This is another museum I had been wanting to check out for ages. It was so engaging and good for kids and adults alike, that we ended up there twice in a two-week span. It’s a collection of child-related toys, objects, and clothing from the 1600s to modern times, as well as containing numerous fun activity stations for kids like a sand pit, climbing frame, arts & crafts, robots, light show etc. So basically while the urchins were distracted, Bryan could absolutely FREAK OUT about seeing an intact Tyco electric racing set (no seriously, that is him looking longingly at it) and I could exclaim victory when finally coming across a Jem and the Holograms doll.

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And it reminded me I had the Heart Family too!


And I am drooling for this vintage Maclaren. Wish they still made the pattern.


Windsor Castle

IMG_2725Who knew when we spontaneously decided to finally visit the castle and charming town, we would be sharing the train with 9,000 die-hard rugby fans going to a match at Twickenham. Decked out in their gear and drinking and carrying on, no one could believe we didn’t want to alight at Twickenham. Yes, we were the only people left on the train after that. I have never felt so American. The day was very rainy and there were lots of people queueing and crowded in at the castle and there was the obligatory welcome audio message from Prince Charles (his posh/congested accent grates), but the castle was totally worth the visit. Pretty spectacular actually. We couldn’t take pictures inside, but managed a few in the pub afterwards. It looked pretty similar to the Queen’s State Apartments.

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Science Museum

IMG_2785I take the kids to the Science Museum all the time, but it was fun to go with Bryan and have more time there and also on a day when over a school break so the place was teeming with families. There is a lot I have never even explored there and it just solidified for me again that it’s one of the most amazing museums we have ever been to. Jonah always loves the space shuttle and astronauts and planes and this time we took the kids to an IMAX 3-D. It was Simon’s first ever movie and he wouldn’t wear the special glasses, so I guess sorry about the vertigo, my toddler. There was also a bubble show every half hour that I have to admit even I was pretty into. But no matter how many cool things to see and do, nothing can ever compete in the eyes of a little kid with the water feature and toy boats in the playroom in the basement. It is a mass of young children going ape-shit with excitement and equally with paranoid horror that someone might steal their boat. It’s a frenzy, a free-for-all, a total and utter scene of toddler/preschooler crack-addled chaos. And the parents all just hover around trying to take pictures and break up gang fights.

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Our New Year’s was low-key and IMHO, perfect. We went out for dinner, had a dance party at home (to Jonah, the elevator scene in Gangnam Style has not jumped the shark) and then Bryan and I stayed up to watch the British chat shows where things happen like celebrities do shots of Jager through the nipples on an ice bust of Alan Carr, play games like “Who would you shag?” and pummel a piñata of Boris Johnson – thus reminding us this is not American TV.


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The fireworks looked incredible and I didn’t feel bad passing out at 12:15. My inspiration came from the hilarious Albert Burneko in Deadspin:

One of the things that changes when you become a haggard, grayfaced grownup is how you spend New Year’s Eve. When you were a hip, attractive, energetic young person, you spent the night traipsing between crowded, noisy bars, meeting interesting people and talking excitedly about your plans for the future, and your whole goddamn life was like a sexy neon-lit music video, and you were immune from consequences, and, God, you were just the fucking worst. Now you’re old, and the overwhelming odds are that you’ll spend the evening at a similarly old friend’s home with fellow exhausted parents, desperately fighting to stay awake so you can feel if only for a fleeting moment as though your entire life were not the property of your job and/or kids.

And if I couldn’t love Waitrose more, they were selling Jell-o shots for New Year’s.


OH and how about the Redskins?! Since the Jets are the embarrassment of the League right now (but read Bryan’s blog anyway), I think it’s fine for us to dig into the roots on my side of the family for once and Hail Victory. Both my brothers will be traversing the country this coming weekend for the playoff game, and Jonah and Simon will be wearing burgundy and gold.

I also wanted to thank so many of you for helping make my dad’s book so highly ranked in several Amazon best-seller categories. I was blown away by how many friends of ours contacted us to let us know they had bought copies – sometimes multiple – to gift to someone for Christmas or Hanukkah. It means a great deal to my father, who is passionate about history and writing. And it means a great deal to me to know you would support my family that way.

It’s going to be a good 2013, right? A time of renewal and hope and courage and I am sure the US Congress won’t do anything to depress us. That would never happen. Plus, Baby Kimye is coming. And Royal Baby. And I am getting a new niece or nephew!!! That’s the most important one: the baby coming straight out of Seattle and into my heart. Yeah, 2013.



Filed under beautiful joy too, celebrities, culture i guess, family, fiscal responsibility, holidays, london, photos, politics...sike!, royals, sports, tv, weather

3 responses to “the tail-end of the year of the dragon

  1. summer

    Hooray for a Seattle baby! Such happy news! Congratulations to J&K and all!

  2. toshalot

    oh my goodness! jonah is SO SO SO funny!
    yay, josh and kaci!!!!!

  3. sonjey

    Congrats to Josh and Kaci. This is very exciting news for the Utt-Fisher families….. Hooray for another grandchild, niece or nephew!…Wonderful week of sharing and adventuring with the family. Can’t wait to be together again!

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