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Billy Crystal Rocks The Oscar’s!!!


As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about….more celebrating the movies! While I may by addicted to programs like Modern Family, American Idol and anything on HGTV or the Food Network, my all-time favorite show of the year is The Academy Awards.  Even though Eddie Murphy is awesome, I couldn’t be more excited with the triumphant return of the fantastically fabulous Billy Crystal as host, and he did not disappoint!

Billy always opens with a show stopping video montage; this year included a scene from The Artist, a kiss from George Clooney and a visit from the darling Justin Bieber. The best part, however, is Billy’s signature Best Picture Nominee’s Oscar tribute song; hilarious, clever, irreverent and poignant. We were off to a great start….

The stars were certainly shining tonight. Tom Hanks was dapper and adorable, J Lo and Cameron D were bootylicious and Sandra Bullock was lovely. But the first big award of the night was presented by the very handsome, yet super intense, Christian Bale (while he may be Batman, I lean more towards the delightful camp of a Batman by another name; George Clooney). While Melissa McCarthy was fantastic in Bridesmaids (not just because she is a Chicago girl) and Jessica Chastain was charming in The Help, the night belonged to Octavia Spencer, also from The Help. Her acceptance was emotional, beautiful and sincere.

With Amanda’s life in gymnastics, we are HUGE Cirque Du Soleil fans. Their salute to going to the movies was introduced by my childhood favorites Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, and it was incredible. To quote Billy Crystal, “I pulled a hamstring just watching that!”

The Fighter’s Melissa Leo presented the award for Best Supporting Actor. I must admit I only know Christopher Plummer from The Sound of Music (Edelweiss), so I was rooting for one of my all-time favorite’s Nick Nolte (love him in 48 Hours, North Dallas Forty and Down and Out in Beverly Hills), but Christopher Plummer won and, at 82, he was utterly charming. He and Betty White must be drinking the same Kool Aid!

On a side note, I just have to say that Angelina Jolie is a true, classic, Hollywood movie star. She is absolutely mesmerizing (Jennifer Aniston; eat your heart out!)! I’m just saying…..

Nick Charles, his wife Nora and their dog Asta

Michael (Greed is Good) Douglas is AMAZING! He presented the Best Director award to Michel Hazanavicius of The Artist (which was such a wonderful throwback picture, making me think constantly of Nick Charles (my Nick’s namesake) and his faithful companion, his darling dog Asta), though I was a little surprised that Martin Scorsese wasn’t recognized for Hugo.

The lovely Natalie Portman presented the award for Best Actor. While the competition was tough in George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Gary Oldman and Demián Bichir, Jean DuJardin was the big winner for The Artist. I was half expecting him to give a wacky acceptance speech like Roberto Benigni, but he was far too classy.

Colin Firth was wonderful last year in The Kings Speech. Tonight he presented the award for Best Actress. I adore Meryl Streep, but was really surprised that the statue didn’t go to Viola Davis, who was truly wonderful as Abilene in The Help.

Tom Cruise hasn’t aged a day since Risky Business. With nine Best Picture nominees he had the honor of announcing the winner. It was no surprise; the night belonged to The Artist, a truly delightful and entertaining film.

In just over three hours, Billy Crystal was fantastic as the host on the 84th Academy Awards!

More Billy Crystal, more Hollywood, more movie favorites, more Academy Awards…..

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Things That I Am Thankful For…..


As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about…..more giving thanks! This week, I was especially thankful for my eight hour, round trip, road trip on Tuesday to snag Nick for Thanksgiving break (I’d gladly walk over hot coals to be with him). Wrigley was “Wrigley excited” when we got to campus and after much badgering (from me….who is the grown up here?), Nick finally relented and allowed Wrigley to take the grand tour of his dorm and check out his digs. The scent of smelly boys was, apparently, spectacular!

There was a lot of fun to squeeze into a few short days.

I’m thankful that over his 19 years, Nick has developed rich and rewarding friendships. He made a bee-line for B-Dub’s (aka…Buffalo Wild Wings) to meet up with his high school pals. Wednesday was devoted to a brother/sister outing with Nick’s oldest friend, Miguel, and his kid sister, Mrs. McGoobles (who happens to be one of Amanda’s nearest and dearest’s), with the evening reserved for a visit with Chuck’s parents; pasta and looking at family pictures. It was perfect.

I’m thankful that while dragging a teenager out of bed in the morning is never an easy task (particularly on a holiday), Nick was remarkably agreeable in joining me and my girlfriends for our Turkey Trot. There’s nothing quite like starting the day with a 5 mile run! The rest of our morning was spent over breakfast and the most recent episodes from our favorite TV program, Modern Family. Thank God for the DVR! Later, we stuffed ourselves with turkey and all the fixin’s with my family. We were especially thankful that Wrigley managed not to swipe a single item off the dinner table. Not because he was good, but because he was on a very short leash (we of little faith).

 I’m thankful for moments spent with my best gal. As it turns out, Amanda is sometimes her mother’s daughter. We rolled out of bed at 3am to hit the Black Friday sales with a trip to the outlet mall. There were people EVERYWHERE! The wait to get into the Coach store alone was an hour and twenty minutes, at four in the morning. Talk about shop ‘til you drop!

I am thankful for the world’s greatest mom and most generous step-father. In celebration of George’s 70th birthday, it was my pleasure to do the cooking as they entertained 40 friends and family in their home. We feasted on shrimp cocktail, crab bisque soup, smoked salmon and caramelized onion dip, steak crostini’s, chicken Caesar salad spears and gourmet pizza. The most touching part of the night was when Nick and Amanda spoke about their Boppa and lead the crowd in a rousing rendition of Cole Porter’s You’re the Top!

I’m thankful that the five of us had part of a quiet day together Sunday morning. We watched old family movies, snuggled with Wrigley and had lunch together before we loaded Nick and his laundry back into the car, headed for College Town, USA.

I’m thankful that Chuck took one for the team by attacking the round trip road trip, because there is little worse than leaving Nick behind at school.

However, I’m most thankful that we’ll all be together again in a few short weeks for Christmas!

More time together, more Modern Family marathons, more turkey with all of the fixin’s, more reasons for Thanksgiving……

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Emmy’s Schmemmy’s!


As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about…..more Emmy Award’s! I am absolutely in love with the fantasy of going to the movies, which is why my favorite show of the entire year is the Oscar’s. However, what sustains me throughout our ordinary daily lives is…..television.

 

The Emmy’s is like a gigantic kick-off to the fall season. However, before we celebrate this past year of entertainment (and look forward to the coming weeks. Yay!), we must acknowledge those who have been here for us, supporting us, for the past 90 days; our friends at Bravo! A great big hat’s off to Bravo for making our summer bearable. While ABC, NBC and CBS have been showing ho-hum, boring reruns, Bravo has had the decency to entertain us with new programming. Housewives after Housewives, Millionaire Matchmaker, Top Chef, reunion shows with cutie pie Andy Cohen (Mazel!) and my all time favorite human being on television; Jeff Lewis of Flipping Out. I love him because he is a total ball buster who happens to have a big heart and exquisite taste.

 

This year, the Emmy’s were hosted by the fabulous Jane Lynch, otherwise known as both Sue Sylvester on Glee and Charlie Sheen’s therapist on 2 ½ Men. She’s amazing, and while I love, love, love, her, she just wasn’t as funny as Jimmy Fallon last year (whom I also love, love, love and isn’t as funny as Craig Ferguson. Maybe Craig Ferguson should host the Emmy’s!).

 

We are such total Modern Family maniacs at our house that I refuse to allow anyone to erase the second season we have recorded on our DVR until someone buys me the DVD compilation for Christmas. With all the awesome new TV coming in the next 24 hours, it’s a good thing we have 2 DVR’s. Julie Bowen, Claire on Modern Family is very, very good, but I wonder how she edged out Jane Lynch? I really thought that she and Gloria (Sofia Vergara) would have cancelled each other out. Ty Burrell was fabulous this season as the fumbling Phil Dunphy. Thankfully the Emmy voters got that one right.

 

Unfortunately, this Emmy show was a complete dud! It was about as boring as the Academy Awards with Anne Hathaway and James Franco. The first funny moment happened 45 minutes into the telecast when Rob Lowe and Sofia Vergara introduced the nominees for Lead Actress in a Comedy. Amy Poehler was a riot! When her name was announced as a nominee, she sauntered up to the stage as if she were the winner. The other nominees; Melissa McCarthy, Martha Plimpton, Eddie Falco (who was rockin a hard body like she was Madonna), Tina Fey and Laura Linney, all followed suit. They held hands on stage like they were contestants in a beauty pageant, just waiting for Miss America to be announced. Melissa McCarthy won for Mike & Molly and she was crowned with a tiara and awarded with a beautiful spray of roses. She’s from Plainfield, you know.

 

As insane as Charlie Sheen had been when he fell off the deep end in the spring, I was kind of hoping for a little tiger blood fighting warrior, but he must have been on his meds, darn it. He wasn’t humorous in the least as he announced Jim Parsons, from the Big Bang Theory, as Lead Actor in a Comedy. Clearly I am not smart enough to get it; how did he beat both Steve Carell and the amazing Alec Baldwin?

 

After another 30 interminably boring minutes, was the second amusing moment of the evening; the “epic” musical event starring Andy Samberg and Michael Bolton. Apparently Michael Bolton hadn’t been embarrassed enough with his dismal performance on Dancing with the Stars, because now he agreed to dress up as a singing Captain Jack Sparrow. I must admit, we did get a little chuckle when Ed Helms, John Stamos and Maya Rudolph dressed up as Justin Timberlake, Andy Samberg and Lady Gaga, singing, “It’s not gay if it’s in a three way,” (the SNL rerun episode aired last night).

 

Margo Martindale won for Supporting Actress in a Drama in Justified (I’d never even heard of that show). Peter Dinklage was your Supporting Actor Drama for Game of Thrones (clearly too high brow for me). Julianna Margulies (who will always be Nurse Hathaway on ER ) was Best Actress in a Drama for The Good Wife. Since she is married to Mr. Big, I might consider checking that one out. Kyle Chandler was the Best Actor for Friday Night Lights. I haven’t seen the TV show, but the movie was excellent! Apparently, we don’t do dramas.

 

While they looked amazing, the boys from Entourage were as boring as their final season, though they kicked off the awards for the best in mini series; Supporting Actress, Maggie Smith (Professor McGonagall of Harry Potter fame), Supporting Actor, Guy Pearce (?), Lead Actor, Barry Pepper (he was awesome as Roger Maris in *61 and Saving Private Ryan), and of course, Lead Actress, the beautiful Kate Winslet.

 

The show was so uneventful that it couldn’t end soon enough, but not before awarding Modern Family and Mad Men as tops in Comedy and Drama.

 

With all that celebrating behind us, we have an entire season of our favorite television to look forward to. Hip, hip, hooray for the idiot box!

 

 More beloved television shows, more favorite characters, more time laughing together as a family……

 

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Time Spent Together, the True Meaning of Christmas….


As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about…..more meaningful holiday memories. You know my mantra is more of everything is always better. I love stuff! I adore clothing and jewelry, shoes and handbags, lusciously draped fabrics and passementerie (fancy French word for decorative trim. Oh, so chic.), gallery displayed artwork, gorgeous furniture, whimsical appointments, an eclectic collection of music for my I-Pod, delicious food and great wine (or cheap wine)……just to name a few of my fav’s. However, more than anything, I love my devoted family and cherished friends.  

While stuff is great, and it is (!), the experiences that we share with the people in our lives are so much better! The gift of time is the gift that keeps on giving.

I’m always reminded of the generosity of my only sibling, my brother, Ray. He takes his role as uncle very seriously. Even though he lives out of state, he makes being a part of my Nick and Amanda’s lives a priority. When Nick broke his right ankle 4 days before his 16th birthday (perhaps a sign from the Heaven’s that Nicholas was not quite ready to get his driver’s license) my brother hopped on a plane from Atlanta to bring him Rock Band and make his birthday special. The Rock Band jam sessions haven’t been quite the success without him because each team apparently needs a good drummer and Uncle Ray is quite the percussionist. He flew in for 24 hours to see Amanda walk across the stage as she received her 8th grade diploma from Our Lady of Perpetual Donations Grammar School (unlike Jethro Bodine, who only graduated from the 6th grade, we were pretty sure she’d be a shoe in). He was here as his Godson, my Nick, turned 18. He’s attended more than his fair share of hockey games and has helped Amanda with her science fair project.

That’s what it’s all about; being together, celebrating each other and creating memories. Santa may have a tough time squeezing his big red bag down the chimney for my good little girl and boy, but the real focus is on what’s important; each other.

 

Our family, Christmas 2009

Last Christmas, Chuck and I got cross country skies. We rented a pair each for Amanda and Nick and had the very best time criss-crossing the grounds at Cantigny and the golf course at Arrowhead. It was so great to be outdoors, laughing at our ineptitude, picking each other up when we fell (some of us more than others. You’d think the one accustomed to daring fetes across a 4” wide balance beam might be able to stand up longer) and being together. We’re totally counting on some more snow so we can do it again this year.    

We love playing games together as a family (Trivial Pursuit, UNO Attack and Spoons top the list), enjoying our times at meals together (though Nick often asks, “Do we have to watch the Food Network while we’re eating food?”), watching the kids at their sports, admiring all of the good (and terrible) things that Wrigley does, and sharing some of our most favorite television programs, like Modern Family (which we DVR each week so all four of us can watch it together).

This year, on Christmas Eve, we’re keeping some of our traditions alive. In the afternoon, we always have snicky-snacks and splishy-splashes with my dear friend Judy (who’s like my sister) and her family. Then the eight of us then head over to attend mass together. I’ve always hosted Christmas Eve dinner, a huge feast; crab bisque soup, strawberry salad with a poppy seed dressing, a peppercorn crusted beef tenderloin and homemade chocolate pudding for dessert. Chuck had an amazing and completely innovative suggestion; instead of all of the pomp and circumstance, let’s don our pajamas and order in, Chinese food, from our very favorite restaurant! My mom and George were totally on board. Who knows, maybe a new tradition will be born.

More time together, more family memories, more meaningful experiences, more Merry Christmas’s……

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Families That Text Together, Stay Together…


 

 

As the More is More Mom®, I am all about….more texting! Seriously, I don’t know how we ever lived without the cell phone and all of its inherent advantages. Once upon a time, when I was a youngster, we had exactly one telephone in our entire house. The day we got call waiting, I nearly lost my mind. There was nothing like saying, “Hey, can you hang on a minute? I’ve got another call.” When I was a teenager, we bought our first answering machine. As the resident know-it-all, I took it upon myself to craft a snappy message that included playing annoying music in the background. It was sooooo cool. While all of these advances in tele-communications were amazing, nothing compares to the invention of the cell phone…….

Thirteen years ago, when we bought our house, I was super psyched that it came equipped with an intercom system….that played music (once again on the cutting edge of technology)! Granted it only played cassettes, but I could have totally made a mix tape. I had these visions of being able to answer any visitors at our front door from any room in the house. I romanticized that the possibility of reaching any member of my family, at any time, day or night, would be as easy as the flip of the intercom switch (largely reducing the need for screaming at each other any more than was absolutely necessary.).  I LIVE FOR MUSIC (interestingly enough, I am not musical in any way, shape or form, except for my complete and utter appreciation for smart lyrics…..and a good beat that you can dance to) and fantasized about jamming to the tunes, from room to room.

Well, as it turned out, our intercom system was somewhat of a bust. When our house was built in 1986, I am fairly certain that our builder didn’t have the foresight to imagine the innovations in technology over the next 20 years, so the existing system wasn’t quite up to par. In fact, there was always this faint, sort of annoying, humming noise. Over the years, as we have painted each room, one by one, we have removed the intercom docking stations, dry-walled, mudded, taped and painted for new and improved, smooth and beautiful walls.  

The question then remained, “How do we reach one another with out screaming at each other throughout the house?” I mean, there is bound to be a certain amount of screaming, even amongst the most civilized of families (and the remainder of us savages do nothing but scream, about; coming down to eat, the children cleaning up their bedrooms and the piles of discarded personal items, the children and their thoroughly unbearable arguing with one another, the fact that it is time to leave and we don’t have an extra moment to spare, the fact that the homework isn’t finished, the fact that it is well past everyone’s bedtime…the list of reasons for hollering are absolutely endless.).

There in lies the beauty of the cell phone………and unlimited test messaging. As teenagers, our pals have had cell phones for a number of years (with an unlimited text messaging family plan…which is way cheaper than being charged per text message. And man, I tell you, these teens surely know how to let their fingers do the walking…..it’s a snap!). Now, sometimes as a substitute to screaming, we text each other important messages, such as; come down for dinner, you are late for practice, hey, turn on ABC, you’re missing Modern Family (the best show on TV), have you finished your homework, would you care for dessert, it’s time for bed.

Why not? It’s so much more civilized than the screaming. We all have our cell phones growing out of our ears (like an appendage…….except for Chuck, who never has his phone on hand for our convenience past the end of his busy work day. I suppose that he is tired of being tied down by the chains of in-humanity. Whatever! The rest of us are on the edge of our seats, anxiously awaiting communication from the outside world……or even inside the house.).

You’ve heard the old adage, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” As the More is More Mom®, I am highly in favor of more meaningful family communication, more of the time, with…..more texting (Only not while you’re driving…this is a PSA)…..

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