All I Want for Christmas is to Hang Out with My Parents

Screen shot 2014-01-29 at 1.16.23 PMI never had the cool parents. I was the 12-year-old  who had to stay home when my friends went to see a PG-13 movie. I thought my world came to a crashing halt when my parents refused to let me watch “Bring It On” at a friend’s birthday. My mom got annoyed when I wanted to listen to Radio Disney in the car, even though I was determined to belt every word to “This Is What Dreams Are Made Of” by Hilary Duff (or Lizzie McGuire. Or Isabella. Not sure where we ever landed on that one.) I was discouraged to call friends’ parents by their first names, even though that’s what all my friends were doing.

Even through high school I wasn’t granted much more autonomy. It wasn’t irregular for my dad to call the parents of a friend who was having a party, to make sure it would be supervised. My midnight curfew was set in stone, as I was reminded at 12:02 a.m. that “late is late.” I blamed my sisters and my middle child status for much of my misfortune. One was perfect with straight A’s and zero wrongdoings. One was the youngest, a quirky but promising student. And I felt glazed over, like a rack of barbecue ribs, slowly turning on a less-than-perfect spit.

The truth of the situation is that I was over-dramatic, ornery, and self-centered in my adolescence. I threw blame at my parents every chance I could, and I lashed out when I knew they had me mentally cornered. Fake crying about the monotony of my tragic life seemed more logical than addressing a problem at its core and talking through it, so proved my friends Kristin and LC. (Actually it was mostly Jess-ka. Screw Jess-ka.)

Things changed once I got to college. I felt “free” — and rightly so — as every college freshman should. I ate Zebra Cakes for breakfast BECAUSE I COULD, and I came home at 3 a.m. BECAUSE GREEKLAND WAS A MAZE. But by the end of first semester, I started to realize how often I called my parents (not just for money, but thankz Daddy*) but for real stuff too — like asking why business calculus was a mandatory course, why guys still thought bodily functions were funny, and also to tell them about the amazing people I met. As the semesters passed, I found myself wanting to go home not to see high school friends or go to a tax-free mall, but to see the duo that had made my “previous” life so unbearable.

My parents are now the first two people I always choose to hang out with. Maybe it’s because I’ve grown up a little. Maybe it’s because they still buy my meal when we go out to eat. Maybe it’s because they were very much “parents” when I was growing up. If you think about it, being friends with your mom when you’re 14 is really an odd concept. I’m not saying parents don’t care about what’s going on in your life when you’re that age, but you can only connect on so many levels. When general interests and conversation levels veer more to that of an adult, you appreciate more of the same things. Like wine. Hosting my parents at my favorite Ames bar during graduation weekend last spring was one of my most favorite memories from college. There were my friends, elated at our recent accomplishments; my dad, basking in the miracle of college-town cocktail tabs; my mom, shaking her head in both pride and terror at the bridge that connected my life with hers. And now as I pack up and get ready to head north for Christmas, I can’t help but think how freaking crazy you have to be, to want to be a parent. It’s a tumultuous, life-long commitment. But maybe they go through the dark days (a.k.a. when their spawn is between nine and 19-years-old) because they know the good stuff is coming: intelligent and meaningful conversations, successes that throw us forward, a genuine appreciation for all they’ve done.

Merry Christmas and keep the wine coming. Our parents (and us maybe if we’re somewhat employed or doing good things with our lives) deserve it.

*never have I ever referred to my dad as “daddy.” Nor should anyone. Besides babies maybe.

VS Fashion Show: Post-Game

Candice Swanepoel’s bust busted out the $10 million bra to start the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, because her body and that budget are two things we can all relate to.

I’m watching all these angels and hearing them speak in their South African/German/Brazilian accents, and Picture 1I suddenly wondered why they aren’t the spokeswomen for everything. Their sexy, husky voices make me want to buy lipgloss and drink scotch neat at the same time. Then the music starts and vocals kick it into full-gear; a familiar voice, a homely face. I’m having flashbacks to junior high and my black nail polish phase and now I’m wondering how I ever forgot about Fall Out Boy. Ugh, am I more than YOU bargained for yet, Patrick?

FOB continues on with an actually great performance (I mean, nothing can be worse than Black Eyed Peas, VS Fashion Show circa 2009) while the angels show us what they would look like if they were all British. You see the angels’ bods and that hair – THAT HAIR – and you immediately assume that’s what you would look like too, if God gave with both hands. It takes about nine seconds to get past that thought, so you find solace in the fact that it’s gotta be impossible for them to date anyone. Like, where would a normal human take an angel on a date? Probably the nicest Olive Garden you can find. But then the screen pans out, and I’m like oh Adam Levine. That’s who takes you on dates. Because one of you (the one with the tan and the boobs) is engaged to Adam Levine.

Before the angels escort us to Paris, one of them is kind enough to remind us that Taylor Swift is THE All-American girl, who coincidentally is wearing the British flag. Music keeps going and models keep walking, and I’m getting lost in a sea of the one angel who has the audacity to have short hair, the one who’s wearing yellow rubber gloves, and then one who kinda looks like Britney Spears.

Finally Miley makes a musical (but figurative) entrance for Parisian Nights, as “FU” paves the way for the angels. IT’S ABOUT TIME MILEY GOT SOME ATTENTION. Attention is quickly stolen as Adriana Lima starts off this portion. She’s one of those girls who is fierce AF. She’s also the complete opposite of Lais, who fell during rehearsal last year and had to sacrifice her spot in the show. But don’t worry — Lais’s dreams came true this year, and she’s able to walk again via this conversation:

“You fell last year, so, you’re the best now.” K.

Continue reading

Cranberry Salsa

What is a better time to tell you one of my favorite holiday recipes than right between the holidays? Well, before Thanksgiving would’ve been helpful, probably. But just like you, I was experimenting different sleeping positions on the couch and keeping track of just how many things pair well with mashed potatoes. And after a weekend of feasting, I’m going to give it to you hard and straight – no one likes cranberries. I mean, they’re in everything (juice, smoothies, bread, yogurt, bagels, etc.) but have you ever seen someone eat a single cranberry and go, “Wow. This berry, man.” No. But you will get that reaction if you take a holiday staple and turn it into something way better – i.e., cranberry salsa.

You will need:

1 32-ounce bag fresh cranberries

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced

4 tablespoons chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons grated onion

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Rinse the cranberries, tossing away any stems or weird looking berries. Put them into a medium saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Cook over medium-high heat for a quick 2 minutes.

Drain well and put them into a plastic container. (A glass container probably looks better but like, who owns glass tupperware?

Add the remaining ingredients and mix them with a wooden spoon. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. 

A really cool thing about this salsa is that your batch is good for a week, and it goes with pretty much any holiday food ever. (Turkey and stuffing are my favorites.) It’s got some spicy kick, but not until the end. (If you can handle spicy ketchup, you’ll be more than okay.) It’s an easy recipe. It’s salsa — all you have to do is mash things together. Plus it looks nice and people will once again mistake you for being a great cook.

photo (20)

photo (21)

photo (23)

photo (22)

photo (24)