Archive for November, 2010

Turkey Day at the Muldoons

We Muldoons love Thanksgiving. We love it a lot! It is a day to kick back, relax and eat our body weight in food…and by food, I mean a beautifully prepared assortment of fall vegetables and and a huge quantity of roast turkey! Preparations begin the night before; the tables are set, the celery and onions are chopped for the stuffing, the bird is thoroughly defrosted & massaged in preparation for his big appearance the following day and the pumpkin pies are baked. T-Day we sleep in, make cinnamon rolls and watch the Macy Day Parade in our pajamas. By 10am the Turkey is stuffed, dressed and put in the oven. Before long the house is filled with the mouthwatering smell of our roasting bird. The Langford and Delang clans arrive in the early afternoon and the eating extravaganza commences. We gather around tables heaped with mashed potatoes, pureed squash, sauteed beans, roasted corn, mounds of stuffing, gravy, crescent rolls, and expertly carved turkey (thanks to Pat!) and oh, yes, there is cranberry sauce too!

This year we were very happy to have Francesca share our traditions and I think she survived the eating frenzy quite well, despite the fact that she decided that cranberry sauce is the most disgusting thing in the world. Halfway through dinner I explained the turkey-tryptophan phenomenon and warned her not to feel too bad if she unexpectedly fell off her chair into a food coma. In fact, it is quite normal for all of us to waddle like the poor bird we have just consumed, into the family room to collapse in front of the television. This year we were compelled to watch “Galaxy Quest” for the millionth time because we felt Francesca was way too deprived for never having viewed it previously. She may have to see it a few more times however, if she plans on keeping up with the rest of us as we repeat catch phrases and our favorite lines from the film at random. Although, she is a quick study and quite possibly already has some of the key phrases down…”Never give up, never surrender“…”Hey guys, there’s a red-thingy moving toward the green-thingy. I think we’re the green-thingy“…By Grabthar’s hammer, by teh Sons of Warvan…you shall be…avenged!” Isn’t it great to hang with people who share the same warped sense of humor?!

We wrapped up the evening with slices of pumpkin pies smothered in whip cream and a delicious chocolate pear torte that Vic very skillfully made for us. He also came up with another unexpected dessert…chocolate covered Brussle Sprouts…which pretty much bombed, but we bravely tried them and spat them out anyway.

Another turkey day done…another Muldoon memory made. It was great to have the boys and girl off from school for the week and Ryan home from college. Monday we return to our busy schedules, thankful that this crazy, active family could slow down for a few days and spend some quality time together.


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The ghosts and Scrooge

It is tech week at Irvington’s conservatory theater and “A Christmas Carol” is coming to life! As if by magic (but really the result of hard work by the kids, parent volunteers and the director Linda Jackson) sets, costumes and props are being finalized and lines are being memorized. This week the kids are at the theater from 3 pm until 9 pm every night. There are no breaks for weary or for thespians apparently! The show must go on and be be perfect…and by the looks of things, it is going to be spectacular! So, don’t forget to buy your tickets. Go to the Irvington website to purchase tickets online. Hurry they are going fast! You don’t want to miss this one. Opening night is Thursday December 2nd and the show closes on Saturday December 18th.

Francesca in costume as the School master with her students

Poster for the production (designed by me)



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West Side Story

Saturday we saw West Side Story at the Orpheum Theater in San Francisco. It was a wonderful production! A performance that makes you glad that theater exists and that there are set designers, actors, singers and dancers who come together and combine forces and work together in such a magical way that we observers are transported to a different world, at least for a few hours. Jenny, Lizzy, Karen and Francesca and I drove into the city late Saturday morning and enjoyed lunch at “Pucini and Pinetti” before strolling down Market street to the 2pm matinee performance at the Orpheum. San Fran was delightfully bright and sunny with just a touch of fall crispness. It was a gem of a day. We left the theater tapping our toes and singing refrains from the unforgettable musical score. Yep! Definitely need to get out of Fremont more often and make more excursions into the city!  Video of the show on San Francisco ABC7.


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Halloween 2010

We celebrated October 31st this year with renewed vim and vigor, delighting in the fact that this would be Francesca’s first dose of a real American Halloween AND her first time ever “trick or treating” on American turf. Halloween it turns out, it not celebrated widely in Italy, and it has only been recently that dressing up on October 31st and “fare dolcetto o scherzetto” (trick or treating) has started to catch on across the Atlantic. I guess, some American traditions are just too cool to keep down on the farm! But, according to Francesca, although Halloween my have a weak toe hold in “il bel paese”, nothing compares to the cult status that we Americans give to this fabulous holiday, where little kids, and yes, adults, dress up and demand candy from their neighbors without blinking an eye. Weeks in advance of the big spooky day, we decorate our houses with large spiders, bats, ghosts and pumpkins and we plan our costumes, our parties, and our trick o treat strategies so as to be fully prepared to celebrate in haunting good style.

So, in keeping with the “spirit” of the weekend we kicked it off Friday night with a trip up to the renovated Paramount theater in Oakland, to see a screening of the 1931 original Bela Lugosi Dracula movie. The show was made complete with an organist who entertained us prior to the movie with selections from Phantom of the Opera. I have to admit I wasn’t as scared as I had hoped to be, and the bats bouncing around on the strings and Bela’s intense looks were a bit more comical than menacing, and even though Kyle really didn’t see the point at all because the special effects according to him were “just plain lame”, it was still a pretty good time. Saturday night Pat and I dressed up for an “all adults” halloween party. Seeing that we have just returned from Rome, we opted to dress up as “The Gladiator” aka Russell Crowe and “Lucilla” the beguiling daughter of Roman emperior Marcus Aurelius. We are pretty fetching as a roman couple don’t you think?

Sunday morning, the day of Halloween, was spent carving pumpkins and I am happy to report that the kids still have all ten fingers (and toes for that matter) intact. As darkness descended upon Fremont, the kids congregated at our house to put on their Halloween costumes. Casey and Michael went as Miss Piggy and Kermit the frog (adorable!) and Francesca was an exotic geisha complete with white face paint (awesome!). Turns out a blond curly roman goddess wig can also double as Miss Piggy “up do” and while Francesca was game to paint her face, despite the fact the white paint was really light gray, giving her a ghoulish appearance, for some reason, we just couldn’t get Michael to agree letting the girls paint his face a bright emerald to match his costume! I guess it is true..it just isn’t easy being green! Kyle, while working for two weeks on his costume, ended up with a rather strange concoction of an old man mask and a box to which he strategically spent an evening applying caution tape. Not quite sure the significance, but you have to give him credit for effort!

The kids went out into the night and haunted the streets of Warm Springs and came back all very content and with sacks and sacks of treats. All in all, everyone agreed it was another fabulous Halloween!

Here are some of the scary highlights:

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