Monday, January 17, 2005

The Holi-daze

[Click on any picture for a bigger version.]

Sorry I've taken so long to get together an update about the recent holidays. I've had this post saved as a draft for a couple of weeks, at least, but never got around to finishing it. It's probably just as well that I can look back now on the last few weeks while being removed from the immediate stress of it all.

The craziness began when we got 10+ inches of snow on the morning of 12/23.
A White Christmas, to be sureThe infamous 'No-Plow'
I had the 23rd and 24th off from work as my Christmas holiday. Christy, on the other hand, had medicine to deliver to people (that's her job) regardless of the weather, even though her employer called to tell her the offices would be closed that day. So, on my first "day off," I was up at 6:30am shoveling snow so that Christy could get to work. My neighbor, who had attached a blade to his pickup truck, had promised that he'd have all the snow taken care of. Well, as you can see, that didn't quite work out. To be fair, he did come out later and helped get the rest of the alley cleared. Knowing that we'd be leaving the next day and not back until late Christmas day, I spent much of the day (off and on) shoveling our entire driveway so that it would be clear when Christy's family began arriving shortly after Christmas.

Christmas Eve was with Mom's family at my Mom & Dad's house. Since we were already going to be there for Christmas Eve and again on Christmas morning, we stayed overnight at their house and didn't have to travel on Christmas morning.
Christmas EveChristmas Morning
On Christmas morning, my sister's family came from Illinois and we had our gift exchange, etc. with our parents, and our immediate families.

Christmas evening we went to my Aunt and Uncle's house and celebrated with Dad's extended family. After spending the evening there, we drove home, I dropped off Christy and Hannah at our house and then drove to the Indianapolis Airport to pick up Christy's brother and his family who were flying in from California. Their flight was scheduled to arrive at 11:58pm on the 25th, but was about an hour late. Luckily, I had remembered to bring my book with me, so I didn't mind waiting. They arrived safely and I took them back to our house for the night. We didn't make it to church on the 26th. Sunday afternoon, Christy's sister and family arrived from Ohio. Later Sunday afternoon, Andrew and I went to their old house in Indy (which they're still trying to sell) in order to check on it, shovel some snow, and turn on the furnace to begin heating it so people would be comfortable sleeping there. You see, our house is about 900 sq. ft. The kitchen, dining room and living room are all open to one another which makes it great for entertaining, but with only two bedrooms, it isn't ideal for sleeping 10 adults and 3 small children. So for the most part, our guests spend their days at our house and their nights at the house in Indy. Not ideal, but it worked. Christy's parents and oldest brother arrived on Monday. Since everybody who was coming was there, we decided that it would be best to have our Christmas dinner and gift exchange that evening.

We made one mistake with regards to the frozen turkey we bought for Christmas dinner - we didn't start thawing it before we left to go to my parent's house on Christmas Eve. However, once we realized that a frozen turkey wouldn't thaw properly in a day and a half, we quickly realized that we would need a plan B. At Meijer, I found a fresh young thing named "Plan B" so I brought it back home with me and placed in the refrigerator. When the time came, we opened it, rinsed it, stuffed it, put it in the bag and in a roasting pan and in the oven. Following the guidelines that came with the turkey bags, we were expecting our 14 lb, stuffed turkey to be finished in about 2.75 hours. 2.75 hours later, the turkey looked great, smelled great, and the meat thermometer went to 190°, so we began carving it to discover that it was still underdone (Christy kept saying it was still "bloody," which, while true, seemed slightly more disconcerting and graphic than my preferred description, "underdone.") in a couple of places. Unfortunately, by the time we discovered this, the turkey bag was already in the trash, the stuffing was out and most of the other food was ready or nearly ready to eat. "Let's give it another 20 minutes," we said - still underdone. "Let's give it another 20 minutes" - still underdone. "Let's open presents and let the sucker burn!!" So, we opened presents, but the sucker didn't burn. Two hours late, it was finally done but some of the other food was past its prime. Christy makes killer homemade mashed potatoes, but these were glossy, gummy mashed potatoes. They tasted fine, but didn't look too great. All things considered, the meal turned out pretty good.

Tuesday, everybody went to the Indianapolis Children's Museum. It was busy there, but I believe that everybody had a good time, even those who were skeptical about going to a "Children's" Museum.
Aaron is diggin' the DinosphereKatherine smiling at the Children's MuseumGetting off the carousel at the Children's MuseumTaking a break at the Children's Museum

I don't think we had any concrete plans for Wednesday. A few people went to a matinee at a local theater. I spent most of my day putting together the nightmare that is American Plastic Toys' 'Doll Care Center.' Warning!: clicking on the image to the right will take you to the ASSEMBLY INSTRUCTIONS for this product. This may serve as permanent birth control for anyone not prepared for the often underrated "Some Assembly Required/Batteries Not Included" demands of parenthood. Please click or do not click based on your desired results. And in case you're wondering, this one wasn't a gift from somebody else. I did this to myself. Nobody to blame but me!

Later Wednesday, Christy's sister's family went home to Ohio, except they (intentionally) left their oldest son, Nate, who wanted to stay and be with the family.

Thursday, Christy's parents and oldest brother left to return to Michigan. Christy and I ditched the remainder of the family at our house (we did leave them the other car so they could get Nate to his friend's house, which, conveniently, is located in Anderson), ditched Hannah at daycare (we were fresh out of cars by then so Hannah didn't get one) and went to Muncie to run some errands, eat lunch and catch a matinee.

Friday (New Year's Eve), Nate got dropped off early at our house by his friends' parents, Andrew and Carol ran errands in Indianapolis before coming back to our house for the evening. Christy's sister's family returned from Ohio to pick up Nate and to celebrate the New Year with family. Everybody, including all three of the children under 5 stayed up until and past midnight on New Year's Eve.

Hannah & KatherineKatherine & Hannah

Saturday, (New Year's Day), Christy's sister's family left again, this time with Nate.

Sunday, Andrew and Carol went to their old church, moved out of their house in Indy and spent their last night back at our house. It was a hectic week, but we were pleased to get to catch up with family, especially Andrew and Carol and Katherine, whom we hadn't seen since they moved to California in March. Mainly with all that's happened, I'm just happy that everyone is healthy and safe.

Monday, we got up early, and went to the airport for Andrew's family to depart from Indy. They arrived safely in California later that day. I had the day off work, did some merchandise returns, some other shopping, and saw the new Phantom of the Opera film (Review coming shortly).

Tuesday, I went back to work.

Wednesday, I went to work, but because of the ice storm coming, they were shutting the servers down at work, so I left a little early. At home, we lost power sometime during the night.
See post entitled, Homeless

Power came back on 5 days later.

We were able to be home for 3 nights, then...

...we got evacuated from home due to nearby Magnesium Fire - See post entitled, Homeless...Again!

Oh, and I was in a minor car accident last Thursday. Nobody seriously hurt, but it easily could have been a lot worse.

Needless to say, it's been an exciting year so far, and it's only January 17th!

Films Recently Watched:

Shrek 2 (2004) dir. by Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury, Conrad Vernon
Better than the first one, but will still fade over time with so many recent pop culture references......

Meet The Fockers (2004) dir. by Jay Roach
I wanted to see Phantom, Christy wanted to see The Polar Express and each of us was willing to go to see the other if the timing worked out better. Neither worked out, so we saw this instead. Bottom line...O.K., but not as good as the first one. I felt like there were too many main-ish characters in this film. The first one was mostly about the relationship between Stiller's and DeNiro's characters. While there were important supporting characters, the source of the conflict in the first film was clearly between Greg Focker and Jack Byrnes. The sequel throws in Greg's parents (played by Dustin Hoffman and Barbara Streisand) as new main characters and a handful of new supporting characters. There was still conflict between Greg and Jack, but also between the Focker family and the Byrnes family and more pointedly between Greg's father, Bernie (played by Hoffman) and Jack Byrnes. Add to the mix a cussing baby, a surprise illegitimate child, a potty-trained cat and a horny dog and you've got the mess of a movie called, Meet The Fockers. "Keep It Simple, Stupid" is often good advice and certainly would have been in this case.

High Noon (1952) dir. by Fred Zinnemann
Received DVD as a Christmas gift. Watched with family while several others went to see Darkness at a local theater. I watched this movie for the first time several months ago when I was exploring some of the classic Westerns. A great old story about an ex-sheriff, Will Kane (Gary Cooper) who chooses to stay and defend his town against a group of outlaws and their leader, Frank Miller, whom he put away in prison, but is now returning on the noon train. The townspeople abandon Kane to do the fighting by himself -- and all this on his wedding day!
The editing in this film is amazing (it won the Oscar for editing). Most of the film runs nearly in real time. Watch for the way shots of various clocks are used throughout the film. This film is a perfect example of how editing can be used to create tension. If you've never seen this classic, I highly recommend it. I doubt you'll be disappointed.

Duel (1971) dir. by Steven Spielberg
Received DVD as a Christmas gift. Watched with family, including several who had never seen it before. See my earlier review.

A Christmas Story (1983) dir. by Bob Clark
Watched With Family

Christmas Vacation (1989) dir. by Jeremiah S. Chechik
Watched with Family

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