Sunday, December 27, 2009

Post Christmas Report

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Christmas. Like many of our friends and family, we were snowed in for Christmas. We had planned to visit my folks in SD but Jack Frost decided to show off and drop around ten inches of snow last weekend. It made our pine trees look as if they had multi colored cotton candy on their branches as the Christmas lights shown through.
It also turned our porch roof into a carnival stage as each bulb melted its way through the snow.

As it was, we still had a nice family Christmas. Since we were home, we were able to attend Christmas Eve church service. The kids really look forward to this because they get to hold a lit candle and sing Silent Night. By now the kids can recite the candle rules by heart. Never tip a lit candle! We've never had a candle mishap, but I can still remember an event from my childhood involving open flames in church. I was probably ten years old or so and I was diligently holding my lit candle. I only flinched a little bit when the hot wax dripped on my finger. However, just a few people down the pew sat a friend of mine holding his candle. He was a couple years older than me so I'm sure he was ready for a little hot wax. One thing he forgot however, was to hold the candle a little bit away from his body. Because when it was time to pray, he bowed his head, dipping his bangs into his flame. It only took a quick forehead slap to put out, but the burnt hair smell provided a good after church story for him.

After church, we headed home to harvest the gifts that had sprouted under our Christmas tree for the last few weeks.

The kids each got a pair of ski goggles with a camera included. So that meant they each had to wear their goggles to open the rest of their gifts.

Once that was done, it didn't take too much convincing to get ready for bed. Sweet Pea however required some pre-Christmas preparation before bed. For some reason, she got it into her head that she needed curls in her hair for Christmas morning. So we found a dozen curlers and Lady Di obliged.
SP also had to sleep on the floor under the blanket tent she rigged up with her dresser and window. I guess a special night needs special sleeping arrangements.

And here is the result in the morning.
We then went outside to play in the snow and all of the curls disappeared.

Since the snow kept us home, it also kept a number of people in town home bound. So we ended up enjoying our turkey and mashed potatoes with another neighbor family. We ate, played games and watched the kids play Mario Kart.

After our company left we realized that no one had inquired into their Christmas stocking yet. Santa was right on the mark this year. Each child received a Wii game. SP got Littlest Pet Shop and Number One Son received Star Wars Force Unleashed, his first teen-rated game. We draw the line at games with blood, shooting and killing. This game has fighting and a lot of lightsaber slashing, but it seems quite tame compared to the violent games some of N1S's friends talk about.

All in all, we had a great Christmas even if our travel plans fell through. One positive result of the blizzard was the return of our annual snow hill. Every year our favorite plower (Ronnie) piles all of the snow from the cul-de-sac next to our driveway.

This year we have the tallest pile he has ever made. When we play king of this mountain we really want to stay king. I found out that grown ups seem to fall a little harder down this hill than in years past.
Hopefully, the snow will take a break from falling now. I'm tired of clearing the driveway twice daily. A little sunshine, even if it's cold sunshine, would be welcome.

Friday, December 18, 2009

O Tannenbaum

For the last two years I have posted pictures of our Christmas trees. When Lady Di and I were first married, our goal was to have a different Christmas tree in each room of our future home. At one time we peaked at five Christmas trees. But for the last few years we have scaled back a bit. Our tree total has shrunk to four. But we only decorate three of them, as one tree sits outside on our porch.

Last week, the last ornament was placed on the last tree. So, for your enjoyment, is our third annual Christmas tree revue.

Once again, this is our 'fancy tree'. Or as Sweet Pea calls it, 'The grown-up tree'. Not much new to it. It is still gold and burgundy with white lights. I took the picture from the floor to make it look twelve feet tall.

Next is the Grandma tree. We received this tree from my Grandma Bernice and it is decorated with white angels and homemade ornaments from Lady Di's Grandma Ollie. It sits upstairs and shines out the front window acting as a Christmas beacon to all who travel through our cul-de-sac. It also acts as a nice night light when I have to descend the stairs in the middle of the night to let the dog out.

Thirdly, is the kid tree. This tree catches all of the homemade, cartoon and colorful ornaments. Since the kids are now tall enough to reach past the bottom half of the tree, we let them decorate it. This tree gets new ornaments added to it every year, so it's starting to look a little full.

This year, SP thought all of our Star Trek guys needed to be together but made sure that Yoda and Darth Vader were on opposite sides of the tree.

Here's our little elf making sure everything is Christmasy.

This is a quick picture of our outside Christmas cheer. It's about the same as last year. Red, white and green lights with a new tree on the porch. We also decorate eight trees in the back yard but I just can't get a usable picture of them. Our recent snowfall has really given the trees a colorful glow.
It's hard to believe that Christmas is only one week away. We usually leave the decorations up until New Year's Day. So it's only two more weeks until the dreaded basement relay to find all the boxes to match their ornaments.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

March of the Bumbles.

Tonight we honored the age old tradition of watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer as a family. Like many, I have watched this show religiously for the last thirty-five years or so. That was way back in the day when it was almost new. Back then, we had to make sure we read the TV guide each week so we wouldn't miss it. Because it was only on once a year and it was just too much of a bother to get out of a chair to surf the other three channels we had.

But here we are now, forty years in the future. We haven't gotten our hover cars yet. And we don't eat our seven course meals in a capsule. But we can enjoy the luxury of watching a DVD of Rudolph whenever we want.

So tonight we popped in our DVD and sipped hot cocoa with marshmallows courtesy of Lady Di.

Our kids of eleven and seven years old, have also viewed this Christmas classic multiple times. Enough times, in fact, to start quoting lines and predicting favorite parts. One of the kids' favorite funny lines is from Yukon Cornelius himself. When the gang is floating through the fog on their homemade iceberg, Yukon comments, "This fog is as think as peanut butter."

Hermie then corrects, "Don't you mean pea soup?"

YC then counters with, "You eat what you want. I'll eat what I want!"

Both kids giggle out loud every time. The kids also like when Rudolph jabs the snow monster in the butt with his antlers.

One of my favorite parts is when Yukon's dogs won't mush. He shouts at them but they won't move. So Yukon decides to demonstrate by pulling the sled himself. Once he does, the dogs all immediately hop on for the ride. It just reminds me of what our own dog would probably do.

Along with the trip down memory lane, I noticed a couple of puzzling moments from the show which, for some reason, I was unable to let go. Now I know that Rudolph isn't a documentary and it was made over forty years ago, but I just couldn't shake my need for answers.

What started my curiosity was in the first 'Island of Misfit Toys' scene. I understand why the toys were there. Those toys were messed up! Come on! No one could ever want a spotted elephant, right? But I couldn't figure out the Dolly on the island. Aside from wearing a short plaid skirt in the middle of winter, what qualified her as a misfit? The show may have explained it when my attention was occupied with the jelly squirting water gun, so maybe I missed it for the last four decades.

Another inconsistency involved the bird who couldn't fly but could swim. At the very end of the special, Santa's head elf in charge of umbrellas cold heartedly denied the flightless swimming bird his umbrella and rudely shoved him out of the sleigh high above the clouds. It's true! See for yourself.

And what about the king of the misfit island. A flying lion named Moonracer? I have no problem with an avian-feline but isn't the name 'Moonracer' just a bit too 1960's hippie?

Hopefully, I haven't ruined the 'Island' for you now but I just have a couple more observations.

Firstly, when Rudolph sets out on his own because he is worried that he is putting his friends in danger, he leaves the door to their cottage WIDE OPEN! Guess he isn't worried about his 'friends' catching pneumonia.

And lastly, when Mrs. Santa is trying to get Santa to eat multiple times during the show, has anyone looked at the cooking she does for him? Each time she says he's too skinny, Santa has a plate of some grayish purple blob on his plate. And it matches the grayish purple apple and some other mystery consumable. If I didn't know better, I'd think Mrs. Claus was cooking clay in the kitchen.

But other than all of those things, we still enjoyed our evening together. We still sang Silver and Gold together. We still flicked our tongues in and out when Cornelius licked his pick ax for precious metals. Which also begs the question, who licks metal objects in freezing cold weather?
Next week, we're going to watch 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas' and I'm going to point out, to the kids, how all of those Who instruments couldn't possibly work. And there is no such thing as roast beast.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Kitchen's Alive With The Sound Of Music

We've always known Number One Son has had an ear for music. When he was a toddler we noticed him keeping the beat with his baby dances. In kindergarten we were surprised by N1S's music teacher when she told us of his solo in the upcoming vocal concert. He has been taking piano lessons for the last five years and even though he hates to practice, we can't let him quit because he has a knack for it. He can usually figure out a melody from memory and play it after a few tries.

We've always known he's had sensitive ears. When he was young, his hands were always jumping to his ears whenever a loud, unexpected noise would pop up. He hated automatic flushing toilets because he couldn't predict when they would flush and he didn't want his hands busy zipping when they were needed to plug his ears.

Which leads us to a day he experienced in music class last year. His fourth grade music teacher was playing a tune on the piano when N1S asked her if the song was in the key of G. His piano teacher had been teaching him recently about how to read which key music is written in. We had no idea that he was learning to listen for the key as well as reading it. N1S's music teacher did a double take when he asked her the key to the song she was playing. He was right, of course.

His teacher then announced to the fourth grade choir that they were going to try a little experiment with N1S. She played a note on the middle octave of the piano. When N1S answered correctly, she moved on to random notes on the upper and lower octaves. When he got those right she moved to the black keys. After that, she had to admit that N1S had something called perfect pitch. In other words, he can hear any random note out of the blue and know which one it is on the scale.

Needless to say, we were pretty excited about the news. So what do we do next? Is there a special school we need to find? Should we call Oprah before she retires? Is 'Name That Tune' game show still on TV?

I think we will just sit tight and let N1S use his special power as he sees fit.

Like last weekend when I was making lunch for both of us. (Heating up leftover pizza in the microwave).

N1S informed me that the hum of the microwave was the same pitch as the hum of the computer and also matched the beep of the microwave when the food is done. So as the timer approached single digits, I hummed to myself to match the hum of the microwave. At zero seconds the microwave beep matched my hum. I said to myself, "Well, anyone could've noticed that." "What note is it N1S?"


And the piano proved him right. So if anyone needs to know if their microwave is in tune or not, give N1S a call.

Stuff About Me

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I'm a 40 year old dad of two. My wonderful wife, Lady Di, and I try to keep the kids from blowing things up here in central Minnesota.