Thursday, December 27, 2007

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmastime is here!

"And then the true meaning of Christmas came through and the Grinch found the strength of ten Grinches, plus two!"

I don't want to leave the impression that Christmas Eve was all bad because it was filled with lots of good stuff too. For instance, polMom and I ran into friends at Krogers and had a very nice chat in the canned vegetables aisle. Now I know what you're thinking. You're thinking the best grocery store conversations take place in the produce section ... right? However, on this day Fate put us together in canned vegetables and it worked out very nicely. We got to catch up and as a bonus got a great recipe from them for a seasoned oyster cracker snack.

We also came home to the decorated tree and were able to have lovely dinner at home with the family. We had pork chops marinated in lemon and garlic, mashed potatoes, broccoli, and sugar snap peas. We even had sparkling apple cider for the kids. It was actually very nice to not be rushing around in the evening (the early evening anyway).

We opted to go to Saint Michael's Christmas mass at 9:30pm instead of the true midnight mass at the Cathedral that we did last year. The mass at the Cathedral is beautiful and wonderful and full of the spirit of the season but you don't get home until 2am which was just wasn't in the cards this year. Maybe next year we'll be better organized and ... no ... never mind. Anyway, the mass at Saint Michael's was great although highly attended which meant the five of us were sharing four seats for most of the mass. I personally had the opportunity to develop an intimate relationship with the concrete post next to me. In the end we decided a long-term thing wouldn't work and we've agreed to just be friends.

The music program at Saint Michael's is wonderful and, unlike DysfunctionalChurch's new design, the nave was built for great acoustics. The singing accompanied by violins, trumpets, french horns, clarinets, and even a bass guitar put us all in the proper mood. We also saw lots of friends there so it was in a better Christmas spirit that we traveled home.

The kids hung the stockings by the chimney with care and hustled on up to bed. polMom and I then pulled the traditional Christmas all-nighter in which we help prepare the way for Good Old St. Nick. This year were helped along in our quest by watching "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason" and "Speed." It was more background noise as neither one of us could probably tell you what happened in either of these DVDs. We finally went to bed about 5-ish which netted us about three hours of sleep each. But it was worth it.

[Click here] to see our Christmas Eve Flickr album.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Dah who dor-aze!

"He puzzled and puzzled till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas... perhaps... means a little bit more!"

Maybe ... but that didn't stop us from running all over town on Christmas Eve spending lots of money because, as lovely as the sentiment is, in the end somebody's got to go out and buy the roast beast. And, of course, the who-hash.

As you can see from the picture, the tree finally got decorated. ChaplainScout called us on Christmas Eve morning to let us know that his wife was ill so the big Christmas Eve bash that we attend at their house every year would be canceled. We felt very bad for the family, wished his wife a speedy recovery, and then selfishly realized that we now had to come up with a dinner for Christmas Eve. So we tasked the children with decorating the tree as polMom and I took our lives into our hands and headed out to ... (cue ominous music) ... Ukrops. On purpose. On Christmas Eve.

When we arrived we were greeted by the entire population of Richmond. Okay ... maybe I exaggerate. It was only everyone who lives west of I95, south of I64, east of 288, and north of the River. I have never seen it so crowded and though we were gripped by fear we had to persevere because this is where the roast beast Edwards Country Ham was and you can't make proper ham biscuits without it. Ukrops also had the last six packages of Pepperidge Farms Party Rolls in a 60-mile radius which are also a required component of ham biscuits. Six years ago we were forced to use Sunbeam Dinner Rolls and there are still family members that hold it against us to this day. Finally, Ukrops is the only store in the area that carries Crystal Hot Sauce that was needed by the WestPointCrowd. So into the store we went.

We sneaked in through the Back Door (which is a real thing at the Village Ukrops) and the first thing we noticed was that the lines at the checkouts were about 15-deep. We immediately vowed to get only the things unique to Ukrops and leave normal items for a normal (and hopefully less crowded) store. Our primary objective, the deli counter, was all the way on the other side of the store so we needed to be swift and agile. We eschewed the normal carts and grabbed the last thin "sports cart" ... the James Bond Aston Martin of shopping carts. This allowed us to bob and weave through the sea of humanity clogging the aisles. We were moving pretty well until we hit a 20-cart pileup at the butcher area from all the uber-organized people trying to get the party trays they pre-ordered on Labor Day. I saw a small hint of daylight between two carts and forced my way through. Now I had a clear shot at the deli counter as I raced a 72-year-old grandmother for the next "now serving" number. I executed a perfect turn around the European cheese stand and easily grabbed the next ticket, 93, and looked up to see what number was currently being served.

Number 78.

After waiting for a period of time that can only be described in geologic terms, they finally got around to take my order. My order? Oh no! I've been here so long I've forgotten. Oh right, ham biscuits. Six sets. A quarter pound per set. Pound and a half of Edwards Country Ham. Sliced thin. No ... thinner. No ... thinner than that. [sigh] Yes, that'll do (but should be thinner as it needs to melt into the biscuit). Slice, slice, slice. Anything else? No, that'll do. Thank you.

I regroup with Polly who's holding a defensive position at the cheese stand. No ... wait ... she's shopping! Apparently the kids need cheese (I don't question anymore I just react). We've also decided to obtain those items on our list that are in lightly defended areas that we might spot as we fight our way back to the other side. We manage to get oranges, apples, eggs (organic AND free range), cream cheese, Crystal Hot Sauce (4 bottles ... can never have enough hot sauce), bread, and toilet paper. We made a feint towards Ukrop's White House rolls to throw off our pursuers and came away with the Pepperidge Farm rolls fairly unscathed. A quick (relatively) march through the checkout and we were able to breathe fresh air again.

And live to fight another day.

Monday, December 24, 2007

It's Christmas Eve?!? Oh holy ... night

The clock on the computer tells me it's 1:23am which means it's officially Christmas Eve and, as usual, we're nowhere near ready. I took this picture of the tree on Friday afternoon ... and it still looks the same. We've had three abortive decorating sessions so maybe we can find time before Santa arrives to throw a couple of decorations on it. Or we could just go for the minimalist natural look ... harking back to the Martin Luther-inspired origins of the tree as described by Garrison Keillor:
Martin Luther was walking through the cold, dark woods at night when he looked up and saw the stars shining through the branches of a tree and thought "The stars in heaven are boundless but are contained here within the branches of this humble tree. I'll cut this tree down and take it home and set lights upon to celebrate the birth of Christ, the Light of Lights, here on Earth."

But that was a story told to us by women and men know differently. Martin Luther was walking through the woods, it was night, it was cold, and it was dark. And he walked ... WHAM! ... straight into a tree. He hit it hard and as he lay there on the ground a bit stunned he said "if someone would put lights on that tree this wouldn't have happened."

So we're not procrastinating, we're rejecting the crass commercialism of the season and harkening back to a simpler time to preserve the true meaning of Christmas ... and procrastinating.

CollegeGirl is home ... sort of

polMom and the boys went and picked up CollegeGirl from William and Mary on Friday morning. They all kicked around W'burg and shopped while waiting for polMom's sister in West Point to be home as the boys would be spending the night with their cousin. After dropping off the boys, the girls came home, unloaded CollegeGirl's things and then we all went to dinner at Guadalajara in Short Pump.

The restaurant came highly recommended by a couple of polMom's buddies but we all found it pretty mediocre with fairly bland food. Probably won't be making a return visit.

After we got home, CollegeGirl assumed the position we've become used to as shown in the picture here. She slept right through to about 3pm on Saturday, got up, got dressed and went out with her high school friends to dinner and a movie. She was awake about 10am on Sunday but never left the bed, fell back asleep and ended up wandering downstairs about 4pm. We did manage to actually have dinner with her and watch The Amazing Race before she left again for another movie with friends. Plus, if we're willing to stay up until 2am we can spend some quality time with her.

We are experiencing technical difficulties ...

We're not sure what's going on but we've been experiencing sporadic problems with our wireless broadband so articles we wanted to post the past couple of days have been on hold. Please stand by ...

Friday, December 21, 2007

Cloudy moonlit night

As I was walking back into the house from taking Christmas pictures I noticed the moon shining through the overcast sky between the branches of the trees overhead. I stopped and set up the tripod again and snapped a few pictures.

Christmas lights going up slowly but surely

Look what was waiting for me when I finally got home from work! polMom and the boys not only raked up all the leaves (again) but also got the snowmen up and wired up the downstairs window snowflakes so now we have all four of them functioning. I still need to get the blue light garland hung around the window frames but we're slowly making progress. It looked so nice that I ran out after midnight with the camera and tripod to get some pictures and post them to the Flickr account. You can see the set by clicking here.

I also took some pictures of the blue light globes we have hanging from the holly tree at the front of the house by the driveway. These used to hang on our big dogwood out front but, alas, we came home from Thanksgiving to find the main branch snapped in half so we had to cut it down . However, the globes really work in the holly and we're pleased with how nice they look. I can tell you are too. Thanks!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Okay ... okay ... I'll start posting again!

You know you're falling down on the job when your own parents unsubscribe from your blog and specify the reason as "content no longer relevant."


So I'm going to try and post at least one thing each day to give everyone a glimpse into what's going on in our lives. Note the word "try" in that sentence. I'm not promising anything as I'm not sure we're interesting enough for a daily post but we'll see.

Say goodbye to the Twitter posts

I did use a service called LoudTwitter that collects up your daily Twitter logs and posts them to your blog. Turns out that it's too loud and posting the collection of logs defeats the purpose of micro-blogging in the first place. So I've turned the service off and deleted all the old Twitter logs from the blog site. If you're a Twitter user you can still follow me on my Twitter page.

School's out!

Henrico County schools had their last day yesterday so the boys are out until January 2nd. CollegeGirl takes her last exam (French) tomorrow so we hope to have her home either tomorrow night or Friday morning. Her classes start back up on January 16th but I think freshman are supposed to be back on the 12th. Either way, we get to have her home for an extended period of time which will be very nice!