Christmas in Solvang

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If you live outside California, you may never have heard of Solvang- a charming village near Santa Barbara that was founded by Danish settlers in 1911 (the name Solvang means “Sunny Fields” in Danish).

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When deciding whether to visit Solvang, ask yourself, is your favorite part of Ikea the cafe where they serve the Swedish meatballs with lingonberry jam?  Well, Sweden is pretty close to Denmark, and Solvang is even closer. Velkommen!

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Dave and I thought Solvang would be great for winter break because of its kid friendliness and extreme Christmassyness.

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Just about every business in town had its own Christmas tree out front, with ornaments from edible…

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…to drinkable.

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While we weren’t able to partake in the wine tasting that Solvang is also known for, we did eat…

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Danish pancakes at the famous Paula’s Pancake House

And eat…

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Authentic “Ebelskiver” donuts at Solvang Restaurant

And eat…

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Pink sugar…now that’s how you keep a kid in her stroller.

In a town that’s only a few blocks long, I counted several ice cream parlors, 2 chocolate shops, a fudge shop and at least 6 bakeries.  It was the best last hurrah before taking my gestational diabetes test that I could ever ask for.

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The only thing we didn’t eat was this gingerbread house. Because Anna and Elsa can’t be homeless.

Between meals, we did find some other fun things to do, like visiting the adorable miniature horses at Quicksilver Ranch.

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And feeding some very hungry and demanding birds at OstrichLand USA.

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Do they not look like muppets to you?

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My muppet:

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We checked out the Sunny Fields Park playground, which looks like a medieval castle.

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Perfect for princesses who like playing hide and seek.

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And really big slides.

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We stopped by the Hans Christian Andersen museum (above a wonderful book store, The Book Loft), which is free and very educational.

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Though I’d grown up with such Andersen classics as Thumbelina, The Ugly Duckling and The Princess and the Pea, I somehow never realized that he wrote the original The Little Mermaid.  It’s a point of pride among the local Danes, so Solvang is bedazzled in mermaid imagery, which was very pleasing to a 3-year-old girl I know.

Interior wall of a Solvang Restaurant.

Just beware–a few pages into reading aloud, I discovered that in Hans Christian Anderson’s version, the The Little Mermaid gets her tongue cut out (yikes) and a bunch of other gruesome stuff that got Disney-washed later.  Good thing my kid can’t read yet.

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Narrowly avoided scarring her for life.

We also partook in some extremely kitschy shopping.  Solvang seems to be a premiere source of cuckoo clocks, faux antique tea sets and dolls that might kill you in your sleep.

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Walking around town, day or night, was always a hoot.  I never did find out where this horse-drawn trolley went, but I hope it’s how people commute to work.

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If you’re interested in visiting Solvang, we enjoyed staying at The Hotel Corque, which is well-located at the edge of town and has an upscale farm-to-table restaurant, Root 246.  We also had good meals at Cecco, Succulent Cafe, Paula’s Pancake House and all of the bakeries.  If you get there, please bring back some more Ebelskiver.   Happy Holidays!

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Read All About It

Are you by any chance:

(A) Stuck in line at the post office mailing holiday gifts?

(B) Killing time in the pick-up line while a bunch of jerks I mean very nice parents at your kid’s school take their sweet damn time?

or

(C) Trying to find a reason to stay seated at your computer so you can finish a second cup of coffee and a bunch of sprinkled Xmas cookies that are so disgusting/delicious for breakfast?  (Or is that just me?)

Well let me help you out with some reading material!

Here are 7 ideas for family fun time over the holidays…

Find out why Nicole Kidman and I would totally be BFFs…

Ever have a head cold while pregnant?  It sucks…

But having a high risk pregnancy is not so bad…

I’m more worried about what to do with Viv when I go into labor

And the sudden appearance of mean girls in her life (or am I just projecting?)…

Speaking of Viv, why must her birthday be so close to the Chanukah/Xmas/New Year’s?

Hope you’re having a wonderful holiday season.  Leave me a comment and say hi!

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7 Reasons I Hate Wearing a Bra

Loyal Readers: I wrote the following post for mom.me.  When I write for that site, they judge me based on number of views.  So if you want to read my bra story (because it’s funny!) please do, but if you don’t have time and want to help a girl out, just click on the mom.me link at the end of this post and it will count against my total.  This is the world we live in now.  Print is dead.  Long live clicks!  Thank you and now back to the blog.

bra

When I was 13, I was desperate to wear a bra, even if it meant stuffing an A-cup with toilet paper to compensate for my flat chest. These days, all I want to do is remove my bra. Desperately. Sometimes I can’t even wait to get home and I’ll whip off my bra in the car (using the same through-the-sleeve trick that Jennifer Beals employed in “Flashdance”—it’s magic!).

I am blessed with reasonably perky, smallish boobs that can hold their own without much support. The only things getting in my way of total bralessness are my nipples, which can turn a conservative outfit into a wet t-shirt contest just by saying hello. So I brave the bra, even though I hate it, for many, many reasons:

1. The underwire is trying to kill me – I’ve heard men complain that they feel choked by their neckties. Well how would they like having a wire bound around their solar plexus? My bras cut off my circulation and make me short of breath, like some turn of the century woman in a corset. I don’t know if this is a fluke of my anatomy or a poor fit, but decades of bra experimentation have done nothing to solve the problem.

2. They’re itchy – Even the smoothest, lace-free styles irritate my sensitive skin, making me claw at my back like a self-grooming monkey. Very attractive in public.

3. The straps give me back fat – Naked, I look okay. Stick a bra on me and all of a sudden there are weird pockets of flesh oozing out the sides. Maybe my skin is just trying to get away from my bra? (see #2)

Continue reading at mom.me…

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My Daughter’s First Nutcracker Ballet (aka Just How Long Can a Preschooler Sit Still?)

Since my nearly 4-year-old daughter is taking ballet and wears mainly tutus these days, I couldn’t resist getting tickets to our local production of The Nutcracker. I’d like to tell you we dressed her up for the occasion, but this is pretty much a typical day around here.

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When I was growing up in Connecticut, my mom used to take me into Manhattan to see The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center, and it was a big deal.  I loved the music, the dancing and the pageantry – especially the Christmas tree that magically grew on stage — and I was really excited to share our tradition with my own daughter.

Before the show started, we took Viv down to the orchestra pit to see the musicians tuning up.   See kid, not all music comes from mom’s iPod!

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Once the ballet began, she had a lot of questions:

“What is that boy doing to the nutcracker?”

“When is the tree going to grow?”

“I want to meet Clara.  Will she come down off the stage?”

“Can we go see the musicians again right now?”

That’s when I realized, ballet is great for kids because there’s no dialogue to talk over.

There was a point where the Snow Queen came out twirling in a gorgeous white gown and Viv was utterly mesmerized.  I totally teared up watching her, the same way I did when she choreographed her first dance to “Let it Go” in our living room.  They move me, these milestones that mark my baby growing into a girl.  Hold me closer, tiny dancer.

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During intermission, she easily talked me into buying her this tiara.

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Which, five mintues later, was discarded into my purse for “making my head hurt.”  I resisted telling her that you have to suffer for beauty.

Viv got a little squirmy during the second act, with a couple of tense moments where Dave and I wondered whether it was possible to make a break for it, and if we had time to carry her out over the heads of a dozen seated ticketholders during the applause between dances.  But she made it through with a little help from our friend gummy bears.

I’m always worried that we’re watching too much TV and other junk (like straight to video Little Mermaid sequels) at home, so I was thrilled to give Viv a traditional live theater experience.

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Of course, after the show, she told me, “I really liked that movie, mama.”

We’ll work on it.

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9 New Years Resolutions This Mom’s Guaranteed to Break

It’s that time of year again, so let’s wipe the slate clean and set some personal goals for 2015, shall we? As a first-time mom, I’m always looking to up my game, and I know I have lots of room for improvement. Of course, with every well-intentioned resolution comes the realization of just how easily I’ll screw it up.

1. No more using TV as a babysitter – If I need to occupy my daughter while I do some work, I’ll just set up a quick craft. Except that art projects nearly always lead to glitter in the floorboards, Play-Doh in my fingernails and “washable” (yeah right) paint all over my kid, while the TV just has that neat little on/off switch. Hmmm.

2. I will be more patient – When my preschooler asks me the same question 17 times in a row, I will not holler her first name in exasperation like it’s a swear word. I will calmly say, “Asked and answered, sweetie.” Because I’m sure that will work flawlessly to stop the madness.

3. No more short-order cooking at dinner – My kid is notorious for requesting pasta ten seconds after I plate her quesadilla, but with baby #2 on the way, I’ve got to put my foot down on specialty meals. At least until that sad little puppy face implores, “But I’m hunnnngry.”

4. I won’t check my email/texts/Facebook in front of my kid – The latest Kardashian nudity scandal is never more important that what my 3-year-old is saying—it just seems that way at the time. So I’m turning off those chirpy notifications and hiding my phone. Except whenever another Cosby accuser comes forward. I’m all over that.

Continue the list at mom.me…

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