Didn’t We Almost Have It All.

And for my next magic trick, I’m going to combine two holidays and two linkups into one post!

It’s Christmas and Hanukkah which = Chrismukkah! It’s Ask Away Friday (AAF) and Finish the Sentence Friday (FTSF) which = AAFFTSF? FTSFAAF? Yeah, that’s a mouthful. We’re going with it. I’m feeling ambitious. I even have a soundtrack:

Of course I have an awesome partner-in-crime today, and combining linkups was her idea! She also has a history of both Christmas and Hanukkah in her life, the way I do, so this is really perfect for a nice and easy(ish) Friday after a heck of a week of activity and slight sickness (not me, though). Introducing, for the second time, Dana from Kiss My List!

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We have also since met since we first swapped over a year ago.

I bounced into the dorm she shared with Lisa of The Golden Spoons & we ate cookies together as if we’d doing so for years.

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Sorry if you’re seeing this photo on her post too. She thought of it first!

What is #AskAwayFriday? Well…

#AskAwayFriday was created by the amazing Penny from Real Housewife of Caroline County as a place for us to connect with other bloggers by asking them ten questions to really get to know them. The sky is the limit with the questions you ask!

Meeting other bloggers and making new friends is one of the best parts of this online world!

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Tamara from Tamara Like Camera,
Tiffany from Mrs. Tee Love Life Laughter,
Christy from Uplifting Families,
Stacey from This Momma’s Ramblings
and
Amber from Bold Fit Mom

Grab our brand new button, follow our amazing hosts, hop through the great link ups and make some new friends!

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Make sure you check out Dana’s answers to my holiday questions, HERE. And here are my answers to her questions:

1. First, finish this sentence: When I’m really old, I hope to look back on my life and know that I…

Well, that’s loaded! When my grandmother died earlier this year, I had an existential crisis about it. I felt so sad that someone who lived 100 years, without cancer, heart disease, or diabetes, & someone who lived life on her own terms and lived BIG still died. She just died. It wasn’t a movie death. It was quiet and heart-shattering. For her 100th birthday, one of the biggest realizations I had is that I want to live big, but in a different way than I thought when I was younger. I used to think it was all about glitz, glamour & money, but now I think that living big is living with big HEART, and living freely and getting out of the boxes that this world will try to shut you in. That’s it. I want to live on my own terms and with big HEART.

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2. What is your earliest holiday memory?

I can remember lighting Hanukkah candles, or maybe even unwrapping Christmas presents (both?) in my old house – my first house. We lived there until I was five, and it was in Rockaway, NJ on a hill. You could see the Twin Towers from my street.

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3. Tell me about a holiday tradition you remember from your childhood. Do you keep that tradition with Cassidy and the kids, or have you created a new one?

We haven’t created a new Christmas morning yet. We still do it with my parents and as many siblings as possible. We talk about it changing with the five of us kids all grown up and starting families, but the thought is too heart-breaking for me. As it’s always been and now, we all have a gigantic Christmas morning together. We were always allowed to open the stockings at 7:00am (and seriously why do people sleep late on Christmas morning and ruin it for the rest? I’m talking to all of YOU, the ones who don’t have kids. YET.) Moving on. We all sit in a circle and open our presents, one at a time. Then we have a huge breakfast and a flank steak/homemade french fries dinner. Although in recent years, it’s gotten so time-consuming, that we have to break halfway through opening gifts to eat breakfast. Then we dive back in. It takes HOURS. It’s fantastic.

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4. Yes or no:

a. Eggnog – NO! Well, maybe. I haven’t had it in years. I don’t remember liking it, though.
b. Candy canes – Meh. Only if they’re fruit-flavored, and then still, I’d rather just eat fruit.
c. Fruit cake – I have never tried it! I imagine NO, though.
d. Latkes – Heck yeah! When well made, they’re exquisite. And your jacket will smell like oil for a week.

5. I know you like to watch holiday specials and movies. Tell me a few of your favorites: classics and new, cartoon and human. If you had to have one playing over and over for 24 hours straight, which would it be?

Hmm…! I tend not to like watching movies more than once. I suppose background noise is ok. I do love It’s a Wonderful Life, Love Actually and The Family Man. I think my favorite and the one to play for 24 hours straight is Scrooged.

6. I’m only asking this because your kids don’t read your blog. Do you remember when you found out the truth about Santa? Share if it’s not too traumatic.

Yes, and it’s funny because I was in the Hebrew School parking lot! I was about ten or 11 and I don’t remember it being traumatic – just honest. It’s about the spirit of the holiday anyway. It’s real and it’s spectacular.

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7. Describe what your Christmas day will look like this year. Assume you are not snowed in!

It will hopefully look a lot like what I described in question #3! I guess I got ahead of myself.

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8. Was there a gift that you REALLY wanted as a child that you didn’t get? How did you handle it? James has jokingly asked for an ATV; is Scarlet asking for something over the top?

Scarlet’s requests are all doable.. so far. I can’t really remember anything specific that I repeatedly wanted and didn’t get. I’m certain I wanted a trip somewhere to meet Tim Curry, and why didn’t I get that one, Mom???

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9. How do I take a decent photo of a fully lit menorah or Christmas tree?

Ha! Well what are you using? I think a phone camera takes a nice one. With a dSLR, use a tripod! If you don’t have one, you can create a makeshift one by just using a table or whatnot. Use manual settings – a wide aperture but enough to get in the whole tree or menorah (read: not 1.4). Smaller numbers are better because of more light, but of course, not too much. That shouldn’t be a problem because you’re probably in a low light scenario with the tree, at least. I like a shutter speed of 250 or so to prevent hand shake blur, but hey, if you are using a tripod or a makeshift one, that shouldn’t be as big of a problem.

Am I confusing you enough yet? It really depends on so many factors..

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10. My last question is always a “Would You Rather?” So, would you rather have a nose that glows like Rudolph or pointy ears like an elf?

ha! Definitely pointy ears. Have you seen my hair? It’s thick and it covers my ears, hence why I never wear earrings. I don’t really love my nose (or even like it) so I wouldn’t want to draw more attention to it.

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Hey Guys, It’s Flat Tamara.

I honestly have no idea where this Wednesday post is going.

It’s Flat Tamara here, and I even wish I had a little cardboard or paper cut-out photo of my face on a stick the way people do sometimes when someone they love isn’t able to attend an event, so they bring along the cardboard or paper cut-out photo of that person, and take photos with it everywhere. I’d stick in a photo of Flat Tamara! Here’s Un-Flat Tamara instead:

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The only one missing is my dad! He was in the next photo but no one was looking for that one. Groups are not easy to photograph! I know this. And for your viewing pleasure, here is Un-Flat Cassidy doing as Un-Flat Cassidys do at weddings:

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Usually when I’m feeling flat and stale, the words still come. Even now, the words are coming. And while I feel a bit strung out, dealing with the second round of colds to hit this household, I’m happy that the words are coming. I have been spared from this cold so far and I’m feeling hopeful I can avoid it. Over the weekend, Des woke up on his half birthday (he’s now two and a half, so help me!) with a cold and a seriously adorable case of bedhead. And he let us sleep in on Saturday AND Sunday!

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It’s funny how it makes you feel so amazing and the world feels so different, and the day goes by so fast, when you get to sleep past 8:00 or 9:00am on a weekend. And then I can’t help thinking that life is usually not like that. Usually he wakes up early but Scarlet doesn’t and we rush to school and I face the day in a strung out way. I do mornings terribly. So on Monday morning, I took Monday mornings back. I went up to my favorite restaurant and ordered the #1 on the specials board:

“2 eggs, 3 strips of bacon, and warm pumpkin streusel with sweet cream butter”

And they were playing the only country song I love (other than ANYTHING on Nashville) while I ordered breakfast:

Back to the weekend. I went out of order, putting deliciousness and music first. So over the weekend, our dear Des had a half birthday. It started on Friday night when Cassidy was at his office holiday party and I got spontaneous and took both kids to Santa’s Trains at Look Park. We were first in line to see Santa, and Scarlet sat on his lap for the first time ever. Then we took an outdoor, singing train ride to see all the park lights, came back in for hot chocolate, and then went out to a pizzeria at Scarlet’s request. There, she had to go to the bathroom, so an awesome policeman watched our booth while I took two kids down into the bowels of the restaurant, past the fresh, rising dough, and into the dungeon, which was surprisingly clean.

It was a rousing Friday night.

I’ve also been watching a lot of Hallmark Christmas movies. In previous years, I couldn’t stomach Hallmark Christmas movies. Have they changed or have I changed? And there I go – out of order again. It’s a symptom of Flat Tamara. Here’s the antidote:

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On Saturday night, we celebrated Hanukkah with family and friends. I was pretty much as flat as it gets, and my dear friend noticed it, but what can you do? The latkes were divine anyway. On Sunday, we celebrated Christmas with another set of grandparents. Scarlet went to see The Nutcracker by a local ballet company, and Des goofed around for four hours.

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We talked a lot about paying it forward, when I told Scarlet about the time I paid for the car behind me at Dunkin Donuts, which really isn’t so miraculous, but we found out later that the woman I paid for did the same, and so on, and it caused a chain reaction of NINE cars paying for the one behind them. Cassidy told a story about picking up an old woman who had walked all the way to the co-op in the cold and was trying to take a bus home. Cassidy did better by her and took her to her home. Scarlet was in the car, and I have no doubt that they all charmed each other. It reminds me of the time I took a ride from a stranger in San Francisco. I realize how dumb that was but I was in my 20’s and he said he was a free cab service. He drove a VW bus and was playing the Grateful Dead, so I knew I was ok. I wouldn’t do it again, but no regrets from that time.

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After we got home from the Hanukkah party on Saturday night, late and crisp, I was sure Des was asleep. I lifted him out of the car and he looked up, sighed, and said, “Bootiful stars.” Those are the moments that make me un-flat.

Inflating moments. A good phone call with a good friend. A snowman cookie. And the baseball hat of a team you don’t love.

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And since we’re so out of order anyway, here are some photos I’m working on. They’re from June. Yup.

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