Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy 2013!!!

It would not be a proper New Year's Eve without paying tribute to Dick Clark. (At least not on this blog!) But on New Year's Eve, Dick Clark never really dies does he? He lives on as a fixture in my memory as part of the celebration.

Dick Clark and New Year's Eve are synonymous. Even major health issues did not keep Dick Clark out of Times Square. He suffered a stroke in 2004, but that did not stop him from participating in the New Year's Eve festivities that bear his name. He struggled in his speech, and although his enthusiasm remained, I found him difficult to watch in the later years. In April 2012 Dick Clark died and some of the sparkle of New Year's Eve died along with him.

Leave it to ABC to keep Dick Clark around for yet another New Year's Eve although post mortem. Tonight ABC will broadcast Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve Celebrates Dick Clark. This two-hour special that will go down the "Dick Clark memory lane" of hosting New Year's Eve live from New York City's Times Square since the 1970s. That's about as long as I can remember. Proving Dick Clark does live on, ABC continues the tradition with Dick Clark's Primetime New Year's Rockin' Eve With Ryan Seacrest. (That's a mouthful.)

So set your DVRs if you need your fix of Dick Clark to make your New Year's Eve celebration complete. Happy New Year!

Friday, December 28, 2012

The High Line Solitude in NYC

The High Line NYC
The next time you're out and about in New York City and need a break from the crowds, try the High Line. It's actually the most interesting urban park I've experienced in years. New York City's newest green space offers a sort of escape from the maddening crowds of Manhattan. At least that was my experience on a cold December morning when I was happy to leave the mass of humanity far behind me along 6th Avenue at Macys. My fellow travel companions also found the High Line a welcome change.

The High Line is actually an elevated railway that was built in the 1930s for freight trains. However when the trains stopped running in 1980, the line fell into a state of disrepair. After sitting vacant for years, it was set for demolition. Enter Friends of the High Line, a non-profit organization, who worked with the City of New York, transforming a dilapidated railroad into an elevated public park. Construction began in 2006 and the first section, running from Gansevoort Street to West 20th Street, opened in June 2009. The second section that opened in June 2011 runs from West 20th to West 30th Street.

The blogger enjoying
the High Line
Despite my winter visit, I could tell that this park is impeccably maintained with natural gardens that actually incorporate the old rail tracks into the landscape. The walkway runs about a mile from where we got on at West 30th Street through the Meatpacking District, West Chelsea, and Hell's Kitchen. There are views of the Empire State Building, the Hudson River, and numerous art galleries and studios. The High Line Art Commission also includes art scattered along the walk. While strolling along, we noticed small figures that were part of the current Lilliput exhibit. This exhibit runs through April 2013 and features minuscule sculptures of actual urban-dwellers developed by six artists from around the world.

The High Line view on a December day
The High Line does have genuine "green space" (i.e., a lawn) at the 23rd Street entrance as well as a small amphitheater and built-in wooden deck chairs for capturing the sun. We encountered very few strollers, but then it was quite cold. I did notice that it was heavily traveled by small, roaming packs of European tourists who were curiously not smoking. I figured that out later—no smoking, dogs, or skateboards allowed on the High Line.

More High Line art
We found the High Line an excellent diversion and well worth the time to seek out. I hope to visit again sometime in the summer to experience the gardens in their full glory.
For more information check out the attached link.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

Christmas Eve day has just dawned. All is still and quiet and bitterly cold outside. For the moment all is calm. Most of the presents are wrapped, the cookies are baked, the fridge is completely packed, and the house is ready for the relatives who will be celebrating Christmas with us. Only one child is up and wandering around the house. I have so much to be thankful for this season.

I wish I could personally wish all of my readers a Merry Christmas but since that is impossible my virtual Christmas greeting will have to suffice. My wish for you is a blessed and happy Christmas surrounded by your family and friends. Cherish this Christmas. I wish you peace, love, and plenty of laughter.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Similar Obsession?

As a child I remember visiting my grandparent's house where the main level of the house had a dining room containing numerous china cabinets full of dishes. So many cabinets and dishes that the back end of the house was eventually jacked up and reinforced to support the weight. Downstairs in the basement were glass cases filled with rows of meticulously arranged rifles and guns. Both of my grandparents had hobbies. Perhaps obsessions with dishes and guns.

Nearly a week after the horrible beyond belief scenario of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut gun control debates are heating up. Certain types of guns are flying off the shelves in anticipation of a major crackdown on gun sales in the US. Did you know that over 3 million Americans own an AR-15? This was the gun used against children in that horrific massacre last Friday morning. This gun is heavily marketed toward men and promoted on cable TV shows and in video games. Probably the same video games my boys play on the Xbox.

CBS News had an interesting breakdown of why people own a AR-15.
  • 49% target shooting
  • 22% hunting
  • 28% protection

It's sad to think that we live in a country where people truly believe they need a gun of this calibre for protection.

A dozen Sid Dickens tiles hang on my foyer wall. That's about the extent of any organized collection I own with the exception of the collections of dishes I've inherited from my grandmother's overflowing dining room. My husband has countless golf clubs in the basement. Our tiny obsessions perhaps, but it would be difficult to kill a bunch of innocent children in a few minutes with a Sid Dickens tile or a Wedgwood dinner plate.

I realize the right to bear guns is in the US Constitution, but that was written nearly 300 years ago in a completely different time. I'm not against people owning guns for hunting or even self defense, but do you really need a semi-automatic weapon with clips of bullets? Even scarier if you have more than one of these types of guns around the house.

I know that guns don't kill people; people kill people. People carting semi-automatic rifles end up killing people. Maybe it is time to rethink gun control laws in the US. Perhaps it is time to truly debate why civilians need these types of combat weapons given that these weapons are clearly falling into the wrong hands and killing innocent children.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The TSA and the Chic Mom with the Long Name

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and I don't get on all too well. Every time I travel something pops up. My recent hold up in the security line at New York City's La Guardia airport on Sunday afternoon was a new one even on me.

My first name "Christianna" has 11 letters. Standard boarding passes issued by Delta hold space for only first names with 9 characters. My name is always shortened to "Christian." My name differed from that on my Minnesota drivers license. This was never a problem in all my years of flying until I encountered a TSA agent who was new and not letting anything slip. Christian Shortridge set off all the alarms and the TSA sprang into action.

Now I've had so many different variations of my first name over the years as letters are dropped for whatever reason: Chris, Christi, Christian. My favorite was receiving mail for Christian Book (a misspelling of my maiden name of Boock).

Christian Shortridge and her annoyed teenage daughter were now holding up the security line. The agent would not accept anything else with my full name on it so we had to wait for a supervisor to review my case. The people behind me in line were uneasy and restless because of the hold up. 15 minutes later and 3 separate calls to contact a TSA supervisor finally resulted in a short TSA supervisor waddling over to the podium.

She seriously scrutinized my boarding pass, my government-issued driver's license, and my daughter before finally initialing and handing back our boarding passes. We were free to move on. Before we left, I had to ask her how I could avoid this mess in the future like shorten my name on the ticket so it would fit? Nope couldn't do that—your name is just too long. Sorry!

I'm hoping this was just a TSA fluke and Sunday was Catch Innocent Passengers with Long First Names and Delay Them Day. Watch out if your first name exceeds the allotted 9 characters. It's not your fault, but you may well be delayed anyway.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

One Chic Mom Returns to Work

After two years of searching for a job, this chic mom has upended her own self-proclaimed "Mommy Penalty" and is finally venturing out of the house and happily returning to the office. This is all a very "good thing" as my new employer had the foresight to see past what other employers could not envision: an entrepreneur with talent and drive despite being at home with her kids. If only other employers out there could have that vision and trust to tap into other Moms who have chosen to take time off and are now searching for employment.

So now a shift from shuttling kids around to commuting. The laundry and dirty dishes will remain. The long wanders around Target, the mid-day workouts at the gym, and hours spent volunteering time at the local elementary school are over. It's time to empower my own children to take care of themselves and not rely so much on me. My family can find their way along that winding road without me in the middle guiding them along. The baby days are past, and I'm embracing the next chapter of my life.

That chapter starts on Monday morning. The question on my mind is: How will I ever get myself and three kids (and their lunches, homework, and instruments) out of the door by 8 am? As if that isn't enough of a challenge, Mother Nature must throw in a twist. The first major winter storm of the season is expected to dump up to 8 inches of snow on top of the Twin Cities just in time for the Monday morning commute.

Bring it on! I can handle a few inches of snow after 15 years of caring for three kids. The snow will just make my first day on the job all the more memorable!

In case you are interested, I'll be the new Communications Coordinator for a small Twin Cities non-profit organization that focuses on the humanities. But don't worry, this blog will live on, and I'll continue to post about the adventures of being one chic working Mom in suburbia.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Royal Speculation: Baby Watch

I've often thought being a "royal" would sort of stink solely because of the paparazzi attempting to glimpse into your life and follow your every royal move. Now it seems that Kate and Wills (The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) are pregnant. Rather Kate is pregnant. Will is purely along for the ride.

Remember back in 1982 when Princess Diana was pregnant with William and the press never left the poor woman alone. They hounded her to her early death as we all know. Seems that history is repeating itself with Kate in Diana's role—that of carrying the heir to the British throne. If you haven't heard, Buckingham Palace confirmed today that Kate is pregnant. This announcement was probably a bit premature but necessary given that Kate is now hospitalized with horrible morning sickness and dehydration.

I guess in the press corp this must mean: "Let the speculation begin!" All major networks are carrying the news about Kate's pregnancy and hospitalization continuously. Although FOX News took it to the extreme by inviting a prominent doctor to wonder on national live television that perhaps the Princess could be pregnant with twins or triplets given her extreme morning sickness. That's quite the theory coming from a female doctor!

Perhaps the press should pause for a moment and think rationally. The Duchess of Cambridge is incredibly thin and maybe even more susceptible to morning sickness than other women. From my own experience, the first trimester of pregnancy (and even well into the second) means nothing but horrible morning sickness that lingers all day and into the evening. Just because she's hospitalized with extreme morning sickness doesn't mean she's carrying three royal babies.

Yes it's awesome that the royal couple is pregnant, but give Princess Kate a break. Leave her alone in her morning sickness misery and ease up on the "Kate and royal baby" watch! I must admit it is kind of hard to watch the wonder over an early royal pregnancy while on an alternate channel a story plays about children being killed in Syria's civil war and parents in anguish. It's all about perspective isn't it?