Hot Streak

In sports, you don’t mess with a hot streak. You keep doing the same things in hopes that they help you extend the streak. If you’re Steven Seagal, you keep making the same movie over and over. In real life, it doesn’t work the same. However, every now and again, if you’re paying attention, you’ll find yourself in a hot streak. This happened to me on Wednesday and Thursday. I’m hoping it extends all the way to Saturday.

Wednesday morning, day after Christmas, we decide to get up fairly early and take advantage of the early openings and after Christmas sales at several stores. We were figuring that a decent number of folks would treat the 26th like a second Black Friday. Luckily, we were wrong.

We showed up at Target a little after 8 a.m. and purchased some new HD electronics that they were practically giving away. Mom scored with the after holiday price slashing on wrapping paper, etc. And I’m not kidding here but 90 percent of the people in the store were women doing the same thing as Mom. From there we went to the mall and were nearly the first ones there. Using the same skills Sgt. Highway taught Recon Platoon in Heartbreak Ridge, we adapted, overcame and improvised. We made a beeline to the cellphone store and activated Riley’s new phone. BOOM! Done! Of course this new phone costs me $25 more a month on my plan. Anyway, while that occurred she shopped and found herself some deals on new sweater Uggs and some jeans. The jeans are way, way, way too expensive. Totally refused to buy her these despite nagging that approached new cell phone nagging levels. So she tricked us. She actually used some of the wisdom and lessons we have imparted to her. She saved her money, asked for and then saved gift cards until she had enough money to buy both without any help from us. I was both pleased and disgusted. Kinda like how you feel after enjoying a Tom Cruise movie.

I mean you feel pretty good that she showed the perseverance and patience to save and plan. That’s good. Too bad the Baby Boomers didn’t have the same talents. But you also feel pretty disgusted that she spent that perseverance and patience on boots made out of sweaters and ludicrously overpriced jeans that just look like somebody took a bedazzler and big heavy stitching to them.

Its weird what becomes cool. Cowboy boots and Jordache jeans back in the late 70’s. Shredded up faded jeans in the late 80’s. Now bedazzled jeans that really just look like Rob Halford’s leather pants he wore while fronting Judas Priest. Except they’re jeans. Whatever.

Anyway, all of us were able to exercise our various gift cards and Christmas cash successfully. New TV’s. Check. Rye’s cell phone activated. Check. Beating all the lines and waiting at the mall. Freaking check. We evidently were the only folks who knew about the early opening hours. We went through the stores faster than Carl Lewis in ’84 Summer Olympics. Awe. Some.

Then Thursday morning I call Direct TV to upgrade two of our standard receivers to high definition receivers. When I’m done with the phone call I’ve upgraded to two HD-DVR’s that will be networked together with our existing HD-DVR and I lowered my monthly bill by $30. A savings which pays for Rye’s new phone. Oh and the new HD-DVR’s will be installed on a day I can be home all morning. And its before the first round of the NFL playoffs. No cost for the install either. Which left me with the dilemma how to store and/or get rid of the two old TVs. Hmmm. Local garbage collector doesn’t take old electronics. Or the dehumidifier from 70’s that’s been in our basement for, well, ever. Or the old computer monitor we still have. Or the other old TV that’s packed away.

But there’s a place just a mile from my office that does. And they are open on New Year’s Eve. All I have to do is bring them all down. Furthermore I brought one of the three old TVs that we have into my office to replace the vintage Reagan-era TV in there now. And I successfully programed it without incident. So I went to Target and got a new phone with an answering machine built in to replace the phone and answering machine I’ve had since Clinton’s first term. Bill, not Hillary. Also got a new clock radio to replace the one that I’ve had since college. No, we don’t use our cell phones as alarm clocks. Sorry. Some things just need to be turned off at night. Remembered to get my sister a birthday card too.

BOOM! Hot. Streak.

So yesterday morning I did what anybody would do after experiencing a two day hot streak like that. I bought a powerball ticket. Then this morning I went bought a Hot Lotto ticket.

Expecting big things Saturday night!

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Christmas Cleanup

We succeeded at Christmas. Christmas #2 at the in-laws was good and Christmas morning was better. It helps having a third grader checking the snow cover on neighborhood roof tops for boot prints and reindeer tracks. She’s stone cold positive she saw some too. I think she was right.

Anyway, jamming 16 people into Grandma and Grandpa’s house isn’t as comfortable as it sounds. A twelver of Michelob Golden Draft Light certainly helps but it doesn’t make you any smaller. Just louder, more flexible and tired. We traded names this year and I was responsible for one of my bros-in-law. So I asked Mom’s sister what he wanted. Four gallon clean and carry Craftsman shop-vac from Sears. She said he broke his other one. Done and done. Except when he opened it he announced, “Sweet, just what I needed since somebody broke mine,” he said while looking directly at Mom’s sister. Also got him a new gameday flask. It contains a half-gallon of your favorite beverage. Which is usually Templeton Rye. Upon observation of the size of the flask, Bails announced that Mom’s sister is going to need a really big purse to hide it. Which was both funny and extremely disconcerting. Here’s a pic:

bigflask

It’s funny because it’s big.

Christmas morning was, as always, awesome. Until you have kids, you really don’t realize how much fun it is to watch kids open gifts on Christmas morning. Especially when you get your 13 year-old a new smartphone that she has been nagging you about since the 4th of July. She got some other gifts but they really didn’t matter once she opened the phone. Kinz loaded up on softball gear. Sweatshirt, a cold gear shirt, tiger socks, practice shorts and a brand new softball gear backpack. Damn thing fits her helmet, glove, slider, two bats, cleats, sunglasses, pine tar, emery board, and sportsdrink. Bails, while excited, wanted to know how the elves made her new Steelers sweatpants and hoodie.

“Wait, did the elves make these. Because I saw this at the store…maybe they go shopping in disguise. Hey, are the short people at the mall really elves?”

“Did you check their ears?”

“NO! Oh my gosh, we might have walked right by some elves!”

Santa brought her a new lime green, her favorite color, hoodie and a barbie accessory case. He also left Just Dance 4 under the tree which was great because it kept the girls in the basement for the rest of the day.

And that’s a win.

Santa brought Mom a fairly sizable universal gift card, a new pair of Asics and a Troy Polamalu jersey. And its looks good.

I was pretty excited about my new gold Iowa State hoodie and my new pair of Asics. But I was really jacked up about my new Hines Ward and Walter Payton ornaments for my football tree.

Wait, what’s this you say? You don’t have a football tree? Hmmm…

Well here’s mine:

DSC02086x

There’s an evolving system of ornament placement each December as the collection grows. Hines and Sweetness get placed in the front and near the top. Anybody who lays out Ed Reed and Ray Lewis so often that those guys are complaining about his hits, needs to be near the top. And Sweetness, well, if one of your first football memories is Walter’s 275 yard game against the Vikings back in ’77, placing Sweetness anywhere but the top would mean you were asking for arse kicking. Joining them near the top of the tree are two Troy Polamalu’s (Home and away jerseys), Big Ben, and Dan Marino. Despite his performance against Penn State in the ’81 season finale, Marino still merits top of the tree placement.

Bottom of the tree? Brett Favre. Sure wish somebody would have explained “graceful exit” to the ol’ gunslinger.

Bottom and back of the tree? Tony Romo. He’s lucky I even put him on the tree. I’m embarrassed to put any Cowboys on the tree but at least Aikman and Emmitt have won something.

Hallmark, if you’re reading this, here are some suggestions for next Christmas: John Stallworth, Mean Joe Greene, Earl Campbell and Steve Largent. If I have to have a current NFLer, how about Megatron?

Hopefully you had an enjoyable Christmas too. Even if you don’t have a football tree.

Second Snow Day

Second snow day of 2012. Not snowing though. So I guess its more like a weather day or bad roads day. Plus it’s the last day before Christmas Break…yes, I’m still refusing to call it winter break. Because its not winter break. We could have winter break in January or even February. In fact a winter break in February would be warrented depending on the type of winter you happen to be having. Maybe not a whole week or anything but maybe like 4 day weekend. February sucks anyway. The month has nothing. Its like Beverly Hills Cop 3 of the December trilogy of months. Last and nobody cares about it. The kids get this break because of Christmas. Not sure why we have to pretend. Although we weren’t trapped in the house with the girls today. We both braved the roads and headed to work at least until mid-afternoon at which time we’ll bolt to get a head start on the drive to Grandpa and Grandma’s house. Only 15 degrees out there and the roads are pretty nasty. But at least now when we hear “It’s beginning to look a look like Christmas” we’re telling the truth. Before yesterday it was looking like the beginning of some random late fall day.

Mom spent her snow day on two conference calls and doing emails. I did not. Instead I explored NFL content on youtube. Struck gold too. 1975 NFL Playoff gold! Complete highlights of each of the four divisional playoffs games. It was awesome. AFC was stacked that year. Steelers went 12-2 while the Bengals and Raiders both went 11-3. Two of the Bengals three losses were to Pittsburgh. No wonder they hate us so much. Oilers and Dolphins didn’t even get in at 10-4. Then Vikings went 12-2 and led the league is just about everything. That ’75 team was their best team of the 70’s. Total shame they let it slip away against the Cowboys in the Hail Mary game. Watching highlights you feel the shock and disappointment of Vikings fans. Vikings-Steelers in Super Bowl X would have been awesome. Anyway, also discovered that somebody had put together a condensed version of the ’75 AFC Championship between the Raiders and Steelers in Pittsburgh. Watched the whole thing. Curt Gowdy, frozen astro-turf, sideburns, very mid-70’s.

Regardless of my love for 70’s NFL football, tomorrow is Christmas #2. I doubt I’ll be getting a vintage Mel Blount #47 jersey. Mostly because Nike sucks too much to make one. But we will have 16 of us jammed into the house. Which should lead to lots of Christmas inspired cheer and love…probably some Miller Lite tallboys too…and likely some material for this blog…

Christmas pic of the day:

Christmasfireplace2

Vintage NFL pic of the day:

vintageforeman

First Snow Day

First snow day of 2012. We’re all home as travel is not advised and a towing ban is in place. That wasn’t about to stop Mom as she has a plethora of self-confidence when it comes to driving in snow. Sure she’ll take refuge if there’s a tornado warning and we’ve dealt with a couple floods but when it comes to snow, she thinks she’s an Alaska State Trooper. It’s not like she’s driving what Nicholas Cage was driving at the beginning of National Treasure either. It’s a Chrysler Pacifica. Thankfully her office closed and the choice was taken out of her hands. But not before she volunteered to drive our neighbor to work. Or, to be more specific, she volunteered me to drive our neighbor to work.

Anyway, here’s a pic of our deck this morning.
snowdaychristmaslights

Here’s a pic looking out our front door.
DSC02062

Here’s a pic of the Immaculate Reception. 40th anniversary is Sunday. Just saying.
Francosgreatcatch

Anyway, even though it’s a snow day, I’ve still been up since 5 a.m. Mom previously described need to challenge nature’s ability to impede driving had me up early to shovel out the driveway. About 3 inches up by the garage door and about 12 down at the end of the driveway. And it’s the heavy wet stuff. Plus it came down pretty fast yesterday evening when the temps were still above freezing. That means the snow provided a nice insulating blanket for all the moisture on the concrete. Which meant as soon as we shoveled off the snow, the moisture froze. Naturally we started by the garage. Which meant we were trying to shovel a foot of heavy white snow after we were already tired and most of the driveway was now frozen. We slowed down a bit at the end. Mostly because we’re old.

Blowing around pretty good too. Lost three major branches on one of our big white pines out back. Poor tree has had its butt kicked pretty good over the last few years. But its still standing. Kinda like the American taxpayer. And Pirates fans. John McClane in Die Hard too. I went out back to try and knock some of the snow off the branches that were sagging down to the grass. Sorta worked.

Best thing about the snowstorm is that it cancelled all our stuff last night. Rye’s superfluous dance performance was cancelled, then rescheduled for February. Which meant we were home last night with nowhere to go, no one to deliver and really nothing to do. Sometimes I think God takes a peek and decides, “yeah, you know what, I’m just gonna go ahead shut this sh*t down.” So everybody gets a break.

So Mom wrapped presents. I was on bow and label duty. Everything is wrapped. Everything. Stuff for early Christmas #2 and stuff for the big day. Before Christmas Eve. We’re very impressed with ourselves. Thanks for the shutdown God! Awesome! Plus, its supposed to clear up this evening through Christmas Eve so it’ll be clear to travel. Excellent work in the weather department Big Guy. White Christmas, clear roads and a bonus day off before Christmas vacation! Now let’s talk about the Steelers winning their last two games and the girls managing not to torture each other while trapped in the house next week…

Christmas Panic

ChristmastreeoutsideOkay, first, we saw Lincoln this weekend. And its freaking awesome. I can’t even describe how much I liked it. Of course I’ve worked in politics for 20 years too. Anyway, I also narrowed our Christmas to-do list down to a single gift. And today is the really the first time it sort of hit me. Sudden panic. Christmas is only a week or so away. And there are at least 4 gifts still in route. One of Mom’s is among the yet to be delivered gifts. So a moderate amount of panic related to that situation. Especially when I couldn’t find the electronic receipt acknowledging that the order was actually made. Found it though so crisis averted. For now.

We went through our gift inventory and we’re good with everything there. We also navigated our way through a normal weekend. Grandparents Day at school on Friday for Bails who also had a friend stay overnight. Dance class for Rye and Kinz Saturday morning and an extra dance performance at the mall for Rye on Saturday afternoon. Which was cool because Rye’s dance was first. Which made us the first ones done. But all I could think about were those mall tours by Tiffany back in ’87. Which of course brought up memories of lyrics my buddy made up to her one and only hit that fall. If I remember correctly:

I think I’ll blow chow now
There doesn’t seem to be anyone around
I think I’ll blow chow now
The heaving of my guts is the only sound

Anyway, the trip to the mall gave us the chance to use some of the gift cards that Kinz and Bails have received for birthdays and early Christmas #1. Took the two of them into Aeropostale. By myself. Went well. Kinz found herself a new t-shirt and sweatshirt and still has $17 left on a gift card. Bails, through some creative math from Mom, went into Justice and used some gift cards, coupons and the in-store sale and paid $3 for two pairs of jeans! Yes, jeans that she tried on and liked! High hopes that this will help with her morning trials and tribulations. Still some lolly-gagging this morning but one victory at a time. Oh, and she also got a necklace with a big moustache on it. Yeah, I thought it was weird too. But whatever.

I think that’s all that is left is wrapping. Which sucks. For Mom. I can’t really wrap. I’m a major proponent of gift bags. I like gift bags like Karl Rove likes Super PACs. I wrapped all the presents I purchased once. When I came home for Christmas during my freshman year of college I decided I should wrap everything. Little did I know that this required skills. And some rudimentary knowledge of geometry. Watching me do it you’d think it took a degree in advanced physics. I made it up as I went along. Kinda like the TV execs who approved ALF. Except people were generally happy when I gave them my presents as opposed to those stumbled upon ALF.

Anyway, just need to confirm a couple addresses and the Christmas cards are out. Gifts just about done. One more orchestra concert tomorrow and a dance exhibition Wednesday night and all that’s left are the usual activities. So by Thursday around 7:30 we should be done with kid stuff. For roughly two weeks. If you don’t count driving to Grandpa and Grandma’s house on Friday evening for Christmas #2.

Seriously…

Terry Bradshaw’s coat in this clip is awesome. Seriously awesome.

Oh and I’m seriously considering throwing in the towel regarding morning discipline. Because, and I’m just spitballin’ here but I think utter failure is about where we’re at. Additionally, I have no idea how to fix, or even improve, the situation. Nor have I been formulating possible strategies or even tactics to employ. Right now I’m sorta sweet on the whole “giving up” idea. The Colts did it in week 13 of the ’77 football season to keep the Patriots out of the playoffs. And I’m pretty much for anything that keeps the Patriots out of the playoffs.

Anyhow, Kinz and Bails fight in the bathroom while they get ready for school. Aggravating but not really radical news. There is one sink right in the middle of the bathroom counter. But the mirror runs the length of the counter so despite the relative lack of counter space because of the sink location, there is plenty of mirror space. However with the aforementioned sink placement you always have one person standing directly in the middle forcing the other person off to this side or the other. That of course leaves an entire side of the counter unused.

Solution? Kinz gets up 15 minutes before Bails so she has the bathroom to herself while she brushes her teeth and hair, etc. This has led to her getting down to breakfast faster which has led to her getting ready faster. And faster is better. Nobody gets punched in the face. Kidding. Mostly. It also has given her a good 30 minutes to read. She’s in two different reading groups at school that require her to read. A lot. And despite a few hiccups, she’s done pretty well managing her own time and has met the deadlines. Problem pretty much solved with respect to Kinz.

Sometimes however, Kinz isn’t totally out of the bathroom when Bails gets up. So they’ll pick at each other a bit. But compared to what it used to be, we’re still counting the current bathroom situation as a win.

Our problem begins with Bails getting dressed. Her process, we’ve surmised, is the same as the fiscal cliff negotiations. She not really doing anything and even when she’s faking doing something, she doesn’t really put any kind of effort into it to really sell us on it. The problem is that despite a plethora of clothing choices, mostly because she gets everything the other two girls haven’t destroyed, she has some self imposed limitations. But first let me describe the landscape of this problem. Bails has a drawer full of pants. Black, faded denim and your standard denim colored jeans. At least six pairs. She has at minimum four pairs of denimesque leggings and some dark gray leggings that look like they are courduroy. And then she has several pairs of sweat pants and work out pants. Black, red, gray, navy. But, and I’m not exaggerating, she’ll only wear four specific pairs of pants without a fight. Or at least a very terse and animated conversation. Black jeans, dark gray courduroy leggings, red Iowa State sweat pants and one pair of denim leggings.

She has a variety of t-shirts that she’ll wear under one of the three hoodies that she rotates between. She wears a hoodie everyday. Every single day. Not being flippant. She’s lost two since the year started. They’ve vanished. The playground at school is like the Bermuda Triangle for hoodies. And purple camouflage fleece jackets evidently. Lost that too. That leaves her with two gray Iowa State hoodies and an orange Chicago Bears hoodie. Luckily, she received a black North Face hoodie for early Christmas. Rumor is Santa might be bringing her a couple more. All just conjecture and innuendo at this point. But, point is, she doesn’t really argue about her t-shirts and her hoodies – although she probably wears the same 10-11 t-shirts all the time. The real problem comes when one of the four pairs of pants on her preferred list isn’t clean. God forbid we don’t keep up with the laundry and they are all dirty at the same time. Oh wait that’s all the time. Like all the freaking time.

She’ll sit in her room and do nothing when she discovers that the preferred pants are not clean. You walk in and ask what the hell she’s doing and she’ll whine about none of the pants she likes being clean. Oh, hey, how about that. Maybe a good decision at this point is to wear one of the other 20 pairs of pants in your freaking drawer so you don’t miss the freaking bus and I get a call from school wondering where the hell you are. How about that? Hmmm! Yeah, I think maybe you just wear something else today.

This, of course, just escalates. But I did get her to become comfortable wearing the faded denim jeans with her orange Bears hoodie. But just that particular hoodie. Why? Well if she wears one of gray Iowa State ones with those jeans it looks dumb because they are almost the same color. Of course.

Okay, first, faded denim and gray are not the same color. That’s like saying the Chiefs and the Redskins are wearing the same uniform colors. Second, what? It doesn’t look dumb. Jeans go with hoodies. Period. There are no color restrictions. There aren’t even color preferences. They just go. Done. Move on. Nothing to see here.

But even when you frustratingly get her dressed, she goes back into the bathroom to brush her hair. Usually, and thankfully, teeth are normally done. She brushes her hair and puts in and takes out a pony tail 39 times. Every morning. Why? Because there are bumps in her hair. That’s right, freaking bumps. She wants her hair to be perfectly flat as it is pulled back into the pony tail. So I leveled with her.

“You have two options if that’s your goal kiddo. Either shave you head and then there’s no bumps in your hair because you don’t have any. Or load up your hair with melted animal fat. Or used motor oil. Either one will work. That’ll smooth our your hair and get rid of the bumps.”

She also only will wear one pair of denim leggings because the other three are too big and always have, you guessed it, bumps in them. Bailey is more anti-bump than Nancy Pelosi is pro-botox.

Anyway we have this problem. No idea how to fix it. Dictatorial edict isn’t working. Threat of corporal punishment isn’t working. Right now the only thing that worked was when I told her that if this is the way things are going to happen then she probably doesn’t need to have a friend sleepover tonight. That solved the problem Wednesday morning. But then yesterday morning she couldn’t find the Iowa State t-shirt she wanted to wear with her Iowa State sweats and hoodie. Oh yes, we suggested she look in all the folded but not quite put away yet, laundry in her room. Wasn’t there. Downstairs in the dryer? Wasn’t there. On the drying rack? Wasn’t there. In her dirtly laundry hamper? Wasn’t there.

Which means she lost it, it evaporated or she threw it in a corner somewhere. So here’s what I did. I walked into her room, around her bed to the night stand. It was at this point that I got down on all fours and looked under her bed, then between the bed and the night stand.

Hmmm, there it is. And its dirty.

She could not have cared less though. So the decision is to fight and demand she wear a different t-shirt – which would have led to her insisting on wearing a different pair of pants. Which were also probably dirty. Or just let her where a t-shirt again.

I let her wear the freaking t-shirt. Because I have a breaking point. And if she wants to smell like a foot while she’s at school? Fine. At some point you just don’t care anymore.

By the way after we did that that yesterday morning, I’m shaving and I realize that its Thursday and I need to take Kinz to school early today for orchestra.

“Hey Kinz you have to be at school early today right?”

“Yup!”

Then I hear the panicked footsteps of Kinz coming up the stairs when she realizes she was supposed to be at a neighboring school at 7:15 to practice for her orchestra concert. Unfortunatley, the clock says 7:34.

Crap.

So I finish shaving by using the same method you use when you dethatch your lawn. Just shredded my face. I looked like somebody colored it by making a whole bunch of tiny dots with a red sharpie. Awesome. But I got Kinz to the practice fast enough that she only missed one song. Pretty good. And Kinz, to her credit, calmed down and took it in stride. Weird for her. But a pretty normal morning for me.

Oh, here’s the wintery Christmas pic of the day so everybody stays in the holiday spirit: wintercountryroad

Rethinking Early Christmas

I used to feel like an early Christmas stole a little bit of the magic from Christmas morning. Especially for the girls. To me, it seemed the whole anticipation of Christmas morning and the unbearable waiting on Christmas Eve was weakened by having an early Christmas. I was wrong. It just makes Christmas more awesome. You get to see family and relive the stories of the glories of Christmases past. Like in ’78 when Santa brought me a two foot tall Godzilla. Back in ’08 Mom got me Tour of Duty: Modern Warfare. That pretty much wrecked the rest of the day. Anyway, an early Christmas gives you the chance to wear or use your new gift before Santa comes. For example, I was given this for early Christmas:

Steelerssweatshirt

Normally I’m a purist when it comes to team gear. The gear should be limited to the official team and/or school colors. As you may have noticed this sweatshirt is a non-traditional shade of gray. And its from Nike. I don’t like Nike. Jim Delaney, ESPN and Nike have everything they can to destroy college football. The idiots in the NFL corporate offices decided to turn over their gear design to Nike last year. Now I fear Nike will kill tradition in the NFL. They already turned the Seahawks into Oregon. I mean if you had to choose between these two options, the decision is obvious. To everybody except Nike.

seahawks12 >seahawks70s

Anyway, Nike calls this sweatshirt color “anthracite” and it has these weird stripes on the sleeves and hood. I’ve never had a Steelers sweatshirt that wasn’t black, gold or the traditional heather gray. So I’m already living dangerously. But its just really freaking cool. So I’m making an exception. And I also decided to test its karma ability by wearing it for Sunday’s game vs. San Diego. If you saw the score, then you know this sweatshirt crapped itself on the big stage. And its not like I can give it another shot. Steelers lose another game and they are out of the playoffs. So once again my theories are proven correct. You wear only proven gear on game day. You never cheer for your enemy for they will always let you down. And weddings should never be scheduled for the fall. Anyway, unproven gear needs a full training camp and some early season tests before you break it out for a December game. Thanks for nothing Nike. This sweatshirt is limited to midweek wear now. I don’t think Bails had her Bettis jersey on for the game either. That didn’t help. She did ask Santa for some new Steelers gear for Christmas. No chance I get Rye to wear team gear anymore unless she’s actually at the game. She’s too cool now. Kinsey, hmmm, maybe. I need to lean on her a little bit.

Published in: on December 12, 2012 at 9:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Giving up on perfect

Christmas-Tree-FireplaceWe had a sermon at church Sunday about giving up on perfect. The theme was that folks worry and work so much to have a perfect Christmas they forget about the stuff we really should be thinking about at Christmas like family. And the NFL playoffs. Probably something about the birth of Christ too. But instead we’re worried about making Christmas perfect by doing nutty stuff like ironing napkins. Seriously, people do that.

Now, you may or may not have an appreciation at Christmas for things like napkin flatness. If you do, then you’re probably obsessing about the napkin’s uniformity for you and not so much for your guests as they probably care less about it than you do. Just saying. Anyway, I’m one of those folks who simply does not have that same appreciation. Not that I’m advocating for dirty napkins or napkin lumpiness or even napkins thrown onto the table and left as they land. I think that’s like showing up to a game at Heinz Field wearing Ravens gear. Getting punched in the face is justified. Christmas or not.

Anyway, giving up on perfect isn’t something to which I can relate. Mostly because I’ve never really strived for it when it came to family gatherings at Christmas. The gathering of family is about 90% of the deal to me. But listen if you want to iron napkins and elaborately decorate the table with 19th century English candleholders and put out luminaries along your driveway and show up for dinner in a black top hat adorned with holly while wearing this vest:

Christmasvest

Hey, good for you. Nice job and good effort. I just don’t place the same value on all that. Well I kinda do want to wear the top hat and vest. At least once anyway. And I do put up a modest amount of Christmas lights. And Mom and I do have a pretty damn good collection of Christmas decorations. What can we say? We like seasonal décor. But go ahead and scroll down and you’ll see that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday mostly because of its informality. Now don’t get me wrong, formality and tradition is one of things that make Christmas great. It’s just that if you want to cook a turkey and crack some beers on Christmas Eve, I’m good with that too. Although I’m partial to perogies on December 24th. Google it. Take your time. When you’re done, you’ll want perogies too. And my Mom’s homemade poppy seed roll. Pretty much good after that. A little formality and tradition makes its feel like Christmas. But the flushness of the napkins doesn’t add to the holiday. In my opinion of course. I mean you get your family and friends gathered near, once more, flip on It’s a Wonderful Life or Scrooged, brake out the Christmas microbrews and that’s a good holiday as far as I’m concerned.

December and Things

Snow-covered-Christmas-TreeLots of things just scream December at you. The crunch of snow under your shoes as you walk across a parking lot. Watching an NFL game with the snow coming down. Classic NFL clip below. Bring back these Eagles uni’s. And the Children’s Christmas Program at church.

Rye has aged out of the program. Too old. Like Franco Harris in a Seahawks uniform. But Kinz and Bails are still in there. Kinz was one of the narrators while Bails was a shepherd. A shepherd with a purple and gold outfit completed by a nice pair sparkly purple boots and sweet shepherd’s crook. The purple and gold didn’t go over all that well with Mom. Bears played the Vikings yesterday and Cutler reverted back to his Brett Favre circa 1993 form. Kept her from booing Bails as she walked up the aisle.

Anyway, the Christmas Program caused a wee bit of consternation in our house. Mostly because we’ve missed a few practices. The girls have been practicing during Sunday school for the last month or so. We, however, were gone last weekend in Colorado. Then we missed the Wednesday evening rehearsal. Mostly because this rehearsal got lost amongst other December calendar additions we are scrambling to fit onto the calendar. The normal dance and gymnastics lessons are locked in. But we’re adding a chorus concert, an orchestra concert, three additional dance activities for Rye (not of which involved dancing by the way) and Bails has grandparents day coming up this Friday at school. And we are schedule to help with dinner at church on Wednesday. So we just forgot about the Christmas program rehearsal. No excuse. We just freaking forgot. Despite some scheduling conflicts, we did manage to show up to show up for the dress rehearsal on Saturday morning. Turned that was okay as Kinsey had no problem reading her lines and Bails seemed to have little issue herding the little kids dressed as sheep.

But geez, am I the only one who sometimes gets the feeling that either you’re stretching your kids (and yourselves) over too many things or you start believing that the folks running all the activities honestly believe that absolutely nothing else is going during the month of December.

What is the freaking deal with this? Does every single organization on the planet need a holiday luncheon? Why do we have orchestra and chorus concerts in December? November and January are perfectly good months that don’t contain the biggest holiday of the year. I mean we went through October with nearly nothing extra or in addition to our normal routine. December rolls around and its like we’ve added another kid. Saturday morning we had the dress rehearsal along with dance for Rye and Kinz and it felt like a day off. I mean everything happened between about 8:45 and 11:30. That means by lunchtime, Mom and I had no more transportation and logistics to concern ourselves with in regards to the kids. Seriously, we were done by noon. NOON. That means despite our proximity to the winter solstice, we still had over 4 hours of daylight. So we went Christmas shopping. At the mall. On a Saturday. With just about 2 and a-half weeks to Christmas. And it was…awesome.

Really. Totally sincere about that. We didn’t have any kids. They didn’t call us either. I even went in a store smaller and less interesting than Brighton called Francesca’s. It not only had absolutely nothing for dudes, it had absolutely nothing for women that dudes would find remotely amusing. What it did have a lot of was staff. So I escaped. Which is a more manly way of saying I fled. But it didn’t matter. It was still fun. The only person I was responsible for keeping out of trouble was me. A task that was far more difficult to do manage when I was 18. Now? Not so much. Turns out I’m not too hard to keep in line.

In fact we completed so much Christmas shopping we had this thing called “time.” From I’m told its what you have when you get all your stuff done prior to the prearranged hour. So we went to a movie.

Saw Skyfall. Now I’m somewhat of a Bond purist. Not like I am about NFL uniforms and college football rivalries but I do believe that a Bond movie needs to contain certain elements. This is a good movie. It is also a good Bond movie. I think it is Daniel Craig’s best effort. Although, let’s be honest, it wasn’t going to take a whole lot to top Quantum of Solace. That was awful. Like Danny Wuerffel winning the ‘96 Heisman levels of awful. Solace may be as bad as Timothy Dalton in License to Kill. Loved Skyfall’s nod to the past with the Aston Martin complete with headlight machine guns. It was the Bond version of wearing throwback uni’s. Awesome. Going to try and go see Lincoln next weekend. Then This is 40 during Christmas vacation. Can’t wait.

First Christmas

christmastreewallpaperWe started Christmas at 4:57 a.m. local time a week ago last Thursday. Early Christmas in Colorado with my side of the family. Roughly ten hours to Denver. Mom always drives the first leg. At that time of the morning my senses react the same way you do when someone asks you to sing the 4th verse to O Come All Ye Faithful. Sure you know the music, but its not going to be close to your best effort. Although Mom made it clear that she was pretty tired too so I was staying up anyway. Boo! Girls didn’t have those demands placed up them so they slept until the west side of Omaha. Good job outta Rye as she actually slept all the way to Lincoln. Once she was up, she was so enthralled by the scenery along that stretch of I-80 that she decided to do four hours of math homework. Which, to be completely honest, was pretty damn responsible of her. Although I could do without the incessant sighs and faux frustration about how it was simply impossible to get these particular math problems done. Luckily for me this was mitigated by Mom correcting her mistakes, walking her through the problems…and then immediately thereafter congratulating herself on her math awesomeness.

This is not annoying at all.

So you come up with games to keep your mind occupied. Like how exactly would you react if you saw a mountain lion. Would you keep going? Stop and take a picture to post on facebook? How about a squatch? You’d stop. No choice. But listen western Nebraska isn’t a very squatchy area. Worse than that though is northeastern Colorado from the Nebraska stateline to Ft. Morgan. The place is practically devoid of trees. Squatches like to have some cover. However, food sources are abundant as there are undoubtedly more cattle than people. I do sometimes wonder what its like to live out there. I mean other than really, really quiet. And brown. Very brown.

Regardless, I’m pretty sure Si from Duck Dynasty is the maintenance guy at the rest stop about mile marker 160. How sure? Pretty darn. Hat, beard, glasses, Vietnam stories, John Deere lawn tractor, the whole deal. It was Si.

And what’s the deal with Colorado and roads? I don’t want to offend anybody’s sensibilities or anything but Colorado sucks at roads. S-U-C-K-S. Sucks. Four years ago we learned of their absolute ineptness at keeping roads clear of snow. This year we became aware of their ineptitude at pouring concrete. Road crews all over the country pour concrete for major highways and it is flat. Not in Colorado. Nebraska for all its suckitude, knows roads.

Oh and if you’re going to be near the intersection of Sheridan and 92nd in Westminster, CO anytime soon you best keep your cool. Leaving the hotel Friday morning we saw four cops in about a one square mile area – including one unmarked car. It wasn’t like they were just at the Seven-Eleven filling up the Big Gulps and grabbing powdered donuts either. They were all coming from different directions. Most patrolled intersection in the Rockies I guess.

Stopped for lunch at the Arby’s in Ogallala. And let me tell you this. This place, traditionally, is only rivaled by the McDonald’s in Kirksville, MO in terms of speed and accuracy concerning your order. But luckily for us this place sits almost exactly sits on the line separating the central and mountain time zones. And they had a new girl working and she had no idea when any of the buttons were located on the register or how to modify an order. Oh and we managed to hit it right at the breakfast/lunch switchover. Didn’t know Arby’s had breakfast but whatever. I mean how do you even develop work schedules when your staff actually lives in two different time zones? Regardless we were pretty happy to be out of the car so the wait didn’t bother us. Its weird how good Arby’s tastes when you’ve been in the car for about 6 hours.

Mom also saw her first coyote on the way home. He was making his way through a corn field near the highway. She said it was probably a dog. She, of course, was wrong.

Santa brought Kinsey a new iPod Touch. You know that commercial with the girl screaming at Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween decibel levels? That is a remarkably similar scene to what we had when Kinz opened her iPod Touch. Pretty much all the girls have on their lists this year is electronics. Bailey at least gave us some options. She wants electronics and a cat.

So we have one Christmas down and two to go.