We're back from our Christmas vacation in Miami - as evidenced by the many pictures of pink flamingos and festive decorations on this post.



(These work better when it's cold outside - in Florida, the candy just sliiiides down.)

It doesn't matter how many times I've driven on the Rickenbacker, I always do a little gasp on the approach to Miami Beach and fall in love with my hometown when we're headed back home all salty and toasted amidst the palm trees swaying in the warm December breeze:


My mom's Christmas tree:


I can guarantee that I will NEVER have a snowman on my tree - because I have a foot of snow outside my door AT THIS VERY MINUTE and you can't pay me to make one. I guess you always want what you can't have!

Of course, there was more to our vacation than Nochebuena and the beach. I also got to hang out with fellow latin superstar Diego Marquéz:


This being Miami, Diego was salsa dancing with his handler as I brought the kids over. My son wanted nothing to do with this culturally accurate Diego. I think he prefers the Nick Jr. version.

All in all, a wholesome family vacation.

And then there was Rock Band.

My brother and SIL are known for their Rock Band parties. They’ve told us about how they and their friends dress up in their best rock star finery and all about the “Battle of the Bands” competitions they wage. Competitions over a VIDEO GAME. That’s, like, a step beneath a Star Trek convention, except that there’s beer involved.

We not-so-secretly laughed at their geekiness. I mean - a video game party? COME ON.

But then they invited us over to see what all the excitement was about. We picked up some Miller Beer (not Miller Genuine draft, mind you - we picked up “the champagne of beers” otherwise known as “the cheap stuff“) and showed up at their house. What we found was my brother tapping away at a plastic drum set-looking thing, a plastic guitar at his feet and a mike on the couch.

He was, in his words, ”warming up.“ HA HA HA.

We shyly watched him and them more people arrived. And they brought strobe lights, and a bass guitar, a mic stand, and a smoke machine that was synchronized to the music. Let me repeat that - the strobe lights AND the smoke machine machine were synchronized to the music. And the music was loud. And my brother’s TV is like 100 inches big. And I drank some Miller beer. And some orange juice. Spiked with Malibu.

I think don’t need to tell you what happened next:


(That's me in the scarf. You know, the one taking the lyrics to "American Woman" a little bit too seriously.)

(But, guess who got a 96% score? THAT'S RIGHT.)

Rock on, man.

Let me just tell you this: If you are Of A Certain Age you will find yourself wailing ”Living on a Prayer“ and ”You Oughta Know“ and the Rock Star software will tell you that you are awesome, so you will want to sing ”Creep“ and ”Buddy Holly“ and OMG THEY HAVE JOURNEY AND JIMMY BUFFET! and you will have to be forcibly removed from the microphone.


Which is fine, because then you will play the guitar on Bon Jovi’s ”Dead or Alive“ and you will believe that you’re Ricky Sambora. And you will declare to the world that you ARE A ROCKSTAR.