The Holiday's–Part III–The New Year's

So, stretching out the holidays a little more…

New Year's weekend, we had a family wedding in southern Indiana.  My cousin was getting married to a wonderful woman on Saturday.  And a big snowstorm was supposed to hit between here and there.

We headed out right after work.  In fact, I drove the already packed car to work in the morning, and then Cora and The Daughter took the L downtown and we left from there, saving us at least an hour and a half.  As we were getting ready to leave, we were getting texts and phone calls from my mother and sister.  My sister and her family got scared off by the weather, and decided not to go.  My parents were already down there, and wanted my to check the weather every 30 seconds.  We hit the road for a the 5 hour drive, planning our own route on the interstate, and not listening to the GPS that wanted us to take every side cow path imaginable to save 50 feet.

When we got to Champaign, IL, I got a call from a friend of mine who was about 2 hours in front of us, telling us things were getting dicey.  Well, everything was smooth sailing until 15 or 20 miles north of Terra Haute, the snow started falling and the visibility was dropping dropping and the roadway was getting slick.  Then I got a call from the friend again.  He was about an hour in front of us, and told us we'd better not travel any further south than T.H., and recommended the Drury Inn.

Have you ever stayed at a Drury?  I was very happy, and would definitely recommend them.  They gave us a late checkout, which we needed (the Daughter is not a morning person), the room was clean, the breakfast was outstanding, free wi-fi.

Anyhow, the next morning, the roads are cleared and we made it to the wedding in plenty of time.  The church was still decked out for Christmas and looked marvelous.


And so did the bride, as she sat in the church waiting for the festivities to get underway.


She was escorted down the aisle by her two sons (it was both of their second marriages)


The kiss…


The couple…


The fake cake..


That's right, "fake cake".  Oh, it was actual cake, but no one ate it other than the little bit they fed each other.  We all got CUPCAKES!


The Daughter made a friend with the Groom's grandson…


And, of course, MY beautiful bride and I had a wonderful time.  And we did notice that they used the same colors the we did.  (Thank God the groom didn't have the same color scheme as his first wedding.  White tuxes & rainbow-pastel shirts.  I still have nightmares about the pale yellow frilly shirt I wore that day.)


And as the bride and groom made it to their table, they were shocked to find…


that the groom's brother had placed a positive pregnancy test on the table.


The next day, we went out to my aunt and uncle's house for a while and then had to drive home because, for the first time since I entered the workforce in 1988…

I had to work on December 31st!

We all left work early, because it was dead, and the three of us just hung out here and had a good time.  I'm the only one who really hit the bubbly (sparkling grape juice) at all, and we were crashed out by 12:30 or so.

But, as we were getting ready for bed, the first flush of the New Year brought a "drip; drip; drip" from my toilet.

Welcome to 2013!


"The Holidays"–2012–Part II


This year for Christmas, we decided to do something a little different, and NOT live out of suitcases and spend a Christmas in our own house.  Not the most popular move with my mom, since we wouldn't be driving down state to see them, but we went down for a visit in early December, and would be seeing them the next weekend at a wedding, so I hope she understood.

We followed as closely as we could to Cora's family traditions, which are a bit different than ours.  We are a "Christmas Eve" family.  That's when the big party was, and the exchange of gifts.  Christmas day was smaller, and then we would have a late lunch at my sisters, and maybe put together a jigsaw puzzle.

Cora's family is Christmas Day.  On Christmas Eve, cookies were baked for Santa, and stockings were stuffed in preparation for the next day.

CookiesCora & I decorated some cookies. Cookies-01The Daughter did her Nightmare cookies, too.
Cookies-02But then Santa came in and ate one of the cookies… Cookies-03All of the cookies.

Christmas morning started slowly. We had a breakfast of eggs, bacon, fruit, and cinnamon roles.  So yummy.  So full of bacon.


And then we broke into the stockings…


That's mine on the left, the Daughter has the middle two, and Cora's is on the right.


The Daughter had two stockings, this one, topped by Shock from The Nightmare Before Christmas. The other stocking had Barrel. She already had Lock, so now she has the full set. And a huge pile of chocolate.


The wife got a Kermit the Frog PEZ dispenser (and she looks marvelous, doesn't she?), and huge pile of chocolate…


Oddly, this is the present I was most excited for Santa to leave her. It's a shutter remote for her camera, so she can be in the pictures without having to race the self-timer.


And always an orange in the toe. But if you know my wife, it had better be one of Terry's dark chocolate oranges.


Among the treasures that I got in my stocking was the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang DVD.  I love that old movie.  And we would watch it later in the day.  Oh, the man that could smell children.


And after the stockings were opened, we all posed for a group portrait.  If you look REAL close, Cora has the remote control shutter control in her right hand.

After a little Chitty Chitty, we headed over to our neighborhood park to enjoy the surprise "White Christmas" that we got thanks to a little lake effect snow.  And we decided to share our bounty with some of the locals.


And if you are wondering if squirrels like graham crackers, I can tell you that this little dude sure did.

And then there were these two flying squirrels…


We got home from the park, and snacked a little while we started making dinner, and aiming for about 3:00.

The menu included:

  • Turkey breast.
  • Garlic mashed red potatoes.
  • Gravy.
  • Stuffing.
  • Green beans with onion strings
  • Orange / Cranberry muffins
  • Chocolate pie


The turkey was a Jennie-O that comes in a bag that you have to simply cook for 3 hours.  The potatoes and stuffing were instant.  The gravy came with the turkey, the muffins and pie from mixes and the green beans (French cut) from a can.

We even ate it off my grandmother's old dishes.

And it was all freakin' awesome.

About the only downside was when I reached into the utensil drawer for a serving spoon, but instead ran my middle finger across the blade of the mandolin that was hiding in there.

And the BLOOD gushed.

And gushed.

And didn't stop gushing.

I kept my cool and kept the blood out of the food.  It took way more than a simple Band-Aid, but thanks to a lot of white tape, I was back in the game.  And mostly hid my hand for the rest of the pictures.  And I'm not sure which I'm more proud of:  that I didn't utter a single swear word, or that my wife didn't freak out, either.  Smile with tongue out


One of the first things I opened were DVDs of the new Spider-Man and The Iron Giant.  The crazy psycho-eyes are for the Iron Giant.  


And Cora got this swanky backpack that came from The Candy Bar.  Thanks Candy, she absolutely loved it.


And the Daughter got some more Nightmare wear.


And an armature for making more animation models.


And more nightmare stuff for The Daughter…


And professor Remus Lupin's wand to add to the wife's collection…


And then I got my favorite gift of the day.  A kiss from my wife.


We kissed, and the punk Daughter got ready to take our picture, but then had us hold the pose for like, 15 seconds before she actually took the picture, so at this point, we are both trying not to laugh.

I hope you all had a great Christmas, as well.


"The Holidays"–2012–Part 1

So, where are we?

Late December, that's right, and that means the holidays.

And what kicks off the holidays?  December 22 – My birthday, of course.

It was a Saturday, and since the Mayans didn't kill us all off (or something like that), I got to celebrate it.

We got dressed up a little, we piled in the car and drove up to Wheeling for a late lunch feast at Bob Chinn's Crab House.  This is my favorite restaurant.  It's so good.


Some members V of the group clean up a V whole lot better V than others.


And then I got ready to rip into some crab legs.  I just couldn't fork over the coin for the king crab legs.  But I did use that yellow ripper and reduced that pile of snow crab legs to a mound of shell in no time flat.


With a little help from my little friend.  Oh, Mr. Bob Chinn's Mai Tai.  You are a thing of beauty.


Since it was my birthday, they brought over a peanut butter, banana, and chocolate pie that was outstanding (Oreo crust.)

Stuffed to the gills, we made it home.  The food coma started to set in for me.  BAD.  So I went in to take a nap, while Cora and the Daughter decorated my birthday cake.  (No bake cheese cake, I'm a a simple man.)

And then came the "showered me with gifts" part, including:


Yes! I got a POP! Captain America while wearing my Captain America T-Shirt!


And a pile of DVDs (Planes, Trains… The Dark Knight Returns, and the Firefly Series.)


And, no, I'm not yawning, I got a book that would help me speak Wookiee. Obviously, I'm practicing, much to The Daughter's chagrin.

Yup.  Good birthday.


Christmas Season–Art Institute–Old Water Tower

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I went to the the Art Institute.


In under 24 hours.

The first was for my company Christmas party.  Cool venue. We were limited to the Modern Wing, but that wasn't so bad.  Saw a Picasso and then one of my favorite paintings:  Time Transfixed by RenĂ© Magritte.  It was a big echo chamber that made conversation impossible.  The food and drink was good (the mini-corndogs were AMAZING), but I eventually got tired and had to head home, because the next day…


I was back at the Art Institute.  The Daughter had a project for her art class where she had go to the Institute and write about 10 different pictures that caught her eye.  I think this was her favorite:


Song Of The Lark by Jules Breton.  The rising sun looked like it was on fire, and the peasant girl looked a lot like Jennifer Lawrence.


This was my favorite "new to me" picture: The Old Temple by Hubert Robert.  It is one of 4 massive painting in a set, of Roman ruins.  So many little sub-scenes in the picture.


Even the wall paper outside the bathrooms was pretty cool.

AI-05 AI-06

I was out one day after work, heading to Water Tower Place looking for a calendar for Cora.  While I didn't manage to find a calendar that night (what kind of mall doesn't have a calendar pop-up store at Christmas?), I did get a couple of nice shots of Chicago's Old Water Tower and the pumping station next store.



And I think that the most impressive was this Lego (yes Lego) model in the Water Tower Place Mall.


And that brings us to…