Nothing like waking up on Jan 1 with a mind-blowing hangover. But truthfully, I don’t remember the last time that we actually left our living room on New Year’s Eve, let alone stayed up until midnight. Years, I’m telling you, years.

So it goes without saying that our night out on the town had to be a go big or go home kind of evening. Starting with bowling and ending with dancing at some vaguely European-Middle Eastern-type of swankfest that used to define my 20s but is now just a blip in my hazy memory.

Waking up as a vegan on Jan 1 was no treat. Where were those greasy yet restorative egg and cheese sandwiches? The burgers dripping with fat? I had to console myself with quinoa sliders, which I assure you aren’t at the top of anyone’s hangover list. But Thursday brought some well-needed grease back into my life when I was able to track down a vegan cronut. Nothing like starting a January cleanse with cronuts, vegan or not. Give an inch and I’ll take a mile.

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Although I welcomed cronuts on Thursday morning, it was also time to say goodbye to a few of my favorite places. So long seafood counter at Whole Foods, you’ll be missed. 25 more days until we’re reunited.

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But I’m getting well-acquainted with a set of healing vegan foods this month, including lots of hummus and guacamole, 36 ways.

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It was an odd Christmas this year, fun, but odd. Mostly it was the weather’s fault, which was having an existential crisis and couldn’t decide if it wanted to be summer or winter.

On Sunday when we headed up to the lake, it felt hot in the car. Like really hot, put down the windows and strip down to a T-shirt hot. I turned on my mobile and saw this:

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Hmmm….I admit that I’ve never seen that in December, let alone November, but we went with it. When we got up to the lake, we ran down to the dock, eager to dip our toes in the water. Unfortunately the lake was still frozen.

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Unperturbed, we suited up and got ready for a few of our favorite summertime activities. Emma dug out her swimsuit, while I made myself a BLT.


We considered breaking out the Slip ‘n Slide but figured that the ground might be too muddy, so we headed back inside to do another favorite summertime activity: decorate our Christmas tree. Pardon me, a favorite wintertime activity. Now you can see how confusing this was for everyone.

Tree decorating is really Lauren’s domain. She does it so well that I’m hands off about the whole thing. We end up with a bunch of bare spots and hand-drawn ornaments but it gives our tree a certain look that I’ve grown to love. My dad’s question: “Is your tree decorated?” Answer: “Yes.”

At last, just in time for Christmas, it snowed. Hard to believe that after a 70 degree day, we snuck in a white Christmas after all.

Christmas morning was the usual chaos. Toys were unwrapped and opened, game pieces went missing, pieces were retrieved, garbage bags were stuffed, pieces again went missing and were thought to be in the garbage bags, pieces were again found, cocktails were made, toys were defended, claims were staked.

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Man, I need a vacation. I’m winded. Hosting a birthday party for six year olds isn’t for the faint of heart. Birthday parties are a blast, but they’re high energy. And this year I had a few wrenches thrown into the mix to make things even more chaotic.

Starting with the cupcakes.

Lauren asked to have a cupcake decorating party this year. No big deal, I prepared the week before. I baked a few trays of mini cupcakes, and popped them in the freezer.

The day of the party, I took them out of the freezer, and let them defrost in the kitchen. I pushed them to the back of the counter and off I went to finish up some Christmas shopping.

I got back to an apartment that looked like it had been ransacked by a mob of hungry thieves. Kitchen a mess, sofa cushion shredded. And a full tray of cupcakes + their wrappers had disappeared.

Only one man was to blame:


Look at that face. Guilty, nauseous. He’d snuck back to my bedroom to camouflage himself in an attempt to hide from me. Apparently he’s learned a thing or two from the Amazonian tree frogs.

Upon inspection of the main room, I was happy to find that he’d eaten some cupcakes, and buried others between the couch cushions and had crumbled them to pieces trying to retrieve them from the cracks. In case you were wondering, that doesn’t make a mess at all.

Fortunately I’d made enough cupcakes to feed a small army, so I vacuumed, frosted the remaining bunch and set them up on the table, just in time for our guests to arrive.

I don’t know why I bothered cleaning in the first place. If you’ve ever hosted a birthday party for a crew of elementary school kids you’ll know why. It was messy again 3.2 seconds after they arrived.


But they had a ball. Cupcakes were frosted and bedazzled to their hearts’ content.


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We’ve been looking forward to this all year: our annual visit to Macy’s to see Santa Claus. I’ve been bringing my kids to Macy’s since Lauren was 11 months old, making it 6 years running. And although there are plenty of options to see Santa in New York, you can’t beat this production. It’s over the top, from the life-sized toy trains, to the Nutcracker dancing bears. So each year, we brave the crowds and head up to 34th Street to experience a little Christmas miracle of our own.

Sam was pensive before our visit.


ME: What’s up?

SAM: Are we going to Santa’s office?

ME: Yes.

SAM: Is Santa mad at me?

ME: Why are you asking that?

SAM: Because you were mad at me yesterday.

ME: Why did I get mad at you?

SAM: Because I was sitting on Emma.

ME: Santa probably wouldn’t like that. But I don’t think he’s going to be mad at you. What are you going to ask Santa for?

SAM: Transformers.

ME: What else?

SAM: Um, uh, Flashlight Friends?

ME: Is there anything else? I think you had a list, right? Here it is. You listed Transformers, Optimus Prime, Autobot, a Helmet, Thundercracker, Flashlight Friend, and a penguin.

SAM: And chocolate.

ME: Perfect, what do you think he’s going to say?

SAM: Um, I’m mad at you?

After promising that Santa wouldn’t be mad at him, we had a quick lunch at home. Midway through lunch Sam panicked that he’d forgotten to add Pete The Cat to his list. So he found higher ground and yelled to Santa that he also wanted “Pete the Cat Saves Christmas.”

I reminded him that we were heading up to Santa’s office shortly and that he could pass on the message in person.

So we bundled up and hit the road.


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Is it ever the holidays without a fun holiday party? I think not, which is why I was so excited this weekend to head up to the lake for our neighbor’s annual party.

And nothing says “road trip” like crossing the GW bridge. Look at us, happy, energized.

Our car rides are predictable. Sam always passes out immediately.


And Jackson keeps us on our toes, threatening to vomit. Look at that inverted tail, it was brewing. We’re lucky that Lauren keeps us informed with detailed status updates.


Up at the lake, Lauren and Rodney decided that fishing in sub-zero weather is a perfectly reasonable winter activity.


Minutes later, they were back inside, eager to warm up. I grabbed emergency supplies: a wool blanket for Lauren, and this for Rodney:


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