Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas Recap

Overall the Christmas weekend was pretty painless. The Van Rooy party was a smaller gathering than usual although I didn’t really notice since even a fraction of Adam’s extended family far outpaces my entire extended family. Without Santa or any little ones we all basically sat around talking and eating pizza. There were some gifts exchanged and then people got ready to leave. Adam’s grandmother, aunt, uncle, and cousin were leaving for Florida later in the afternoon and everyone knew his grandma was anxious to get on the road. They drove down in a huge RV. Must have been an interesting trip. Anyway, when we got back home and I went to work baking about 10 dozen cookies while Adam tinkered with his car and had a ridiculous amount of firewood delivered. Good thing he went out and bought a wood rack the previous evening because it wouldn’t have fit otherwise.

Sunday was the day of our party. It was also the day of blizzard-like conditions. As the hours of blowing snow went on we got the feeling that we might be stuck with a ton of leftovers. We got a couple phone calls from people cancelling on us. We ended up with a pretty small turnout – basically our parents and Adam’s aunt, uncle, and grandmother, and cousin (not the ones going to Florida, obviously.) It was still a good time. I got to watch The Muppet Christmas Carol and eat some good snacky foods. That said, we’ll be eating those snacky foods for the next week or so. Especially those cookies. I think we can handle that though. (I didn't take any pictures of the food - the camera was in the cat room and I didn't want to risk having to corral them inside there again if they got out...)

I put the tree back up around noon after confining the cats to their room through the duration of the party. After everyone left we let the cats out and they beelined for the tree. We decided to have our Christmas right then and take down the tree to avoid additional damage. By far the most popular gift was a little pouch of catnip given to the cats by my mom. We opened the box when it arrived and we initially put the gifts in the rodent room with the rest of them. But the cats just wouldn’t leave their gift alone so we had to hide it from them. Now we know why.

They chew on it, rub their heads on it, throw it around, fight over it, carry it around in their mouths. It’s seriously kitty crack. JC is generally pretty easy to get all crazy-like and hyper but the other two are pretty calm. Give them a little catnip though, and they turn into maniacs. Conner especially enjoys rolling around on the pouch, aggressively defending his position whenever JC or Ted try to join in his romp. Now we know what to get them when we want to have three wound-up cats randomly stampeding through the house with abandon.

Monday was Christmas Eve and we didn’t really have much planned. We headed up to Menards for their 48% off all Christmas stuff sale. We found some good items: a pre-lit Christmas tree for next year, shatterproof (and hopefully therefore kitty-proof) ornaments, Christmas cards. What we didn’t find were lights for outside. They didn’t have the clear twinkling ones we wanted so we’ll have to keep an eye out for those next year. We didn’t do much the remainder of the day. We headed up to church around 8:30. The bells played in the concert before the 10PM mass as well as during communion. Then we packed up, wished everyone a Merry Christmas, and headed home to bed. Way past my bedtime!

Christmas Day we slept in kind of late. Well, we woke up at 7 with the alarm but then both of us fell back asleep until almost 9. We went over to Adam’s parent’s house at 2 for their Christmas gathering. Adam’s mom was my Secret Santa and she got me a gravy boat (a reaction to the drooling cow at Thanksgiving, I’m guessing) and a huge wooden cutting board. After finishing up a late lunch there we headed over to his uncle Rich’s house. Adam started working on his uncle’s computer while we waited for his parents to show up. It took a lot longer over there than I had anticipated. We didn’t end up leaving until after 7PM. And I had the ham sitting in the sink defrosting all afternoon and anticipated a 1 ½ hour cooking time when we got home. I was pretty close too. We ended up eating dinner around 9. The ham turned out very well although the probe thermometer I borrowed from Adam’s mom didn’t go off so I think I might have set it wrong. Oh well. It all turned out ok and we have more leftovers. Woo! Makes Adam’s night to make dinner pretty easy!

Then Monday morning it was back to work. There weren’t a whole lot of people there and it remained pretty light for the rest of the week. Of course I was there for the long haul, having no vacation remaining and being kind of busy anyway.

Gift-wise, it wasn’t really a big year for getting things and that’s just fine. I’ve got a lot of junk all over the house already. My most anticipated gift was the ice-cream maker that Adam got me. I don’t remember what prompted the thought but I noticed that the KitchenAid stand mixer I have has an ice-cream maker attachment you can buy. I looked at that but figured it was too expensive and not really what I had in mind. But when we were at Lowe’s for something a few weeks back I took a look at their small appliances section and found this Cuisinart one.

Totally simple, only takes 20 minutes, and there’s no salt or cranking to worry about. I made my first batch - Peanut Butter Cup - last night.

Yum. Adam also got me a gift card to BBB (which I can always find something to use on. Heh.) and I got a cookbook from my mom. I sense a theme… I got Adam a couple of fun office desk toys from Office Playground along with a Mr. Beer “make your own beer” kit. My dad and Cheryl gave us some giftcards for PetSmart and Good Company, both of which we’ll obviously have no trouble using either. Oh - and an absolutely delicious raspberry cheesecake that we smartly decided to hide from the rest of the party attendees.

I think I totally forgot to mention this when we got it, but Adam’s parents gave us their gift a little early. His dad took the design of the IKEA headboard set we liked when we were out there last summer and built us a headboard/footboard/bed frame. It’s got “secret” compartments in the headboard and keeps the mattress pad from shifting all over the place.

So, a pretty good Christmas week although it's alway a little weird when the holiday ends up on a Monday or Tuesday. No plans for tomorrow night that I know of. I expect to be working late and we'll have to see where things go from there.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Holidays In Full Swing

It has been a pretty busy week around here. Thankfully the weather seems to be holding so far but we’ll see how things end up for our party on Sunday. I heard the terrible phrase “Winter Storm Warning” on the radio at lunch so it might be messy.

Monday was our last handbell practice before the Christmas Eve mini-concert and mass. It’s definitely a lot easier doing five pieces up in the choir loft than it was doing 14 down in front of the church. But knowing how worried we all were going into the concert makes the more than decent results so appreciated.

Tuesday was the annual IMA Christmas meeting. Our original speaker, an FBI agent from Washington, DC, was lost at the last minute because the government pulled their approval. Go figure. So instead of money laundering and terrorism we had a speaker about loss prevention instead. Not quite as flashy, but still interesting and eye-opening. We had an ok turnout – right around 30 people – and the gifts and raffle prizes were great this year. We didn’t win any of the raffle drawings but I got the cutest dip bowl and spreader that looks like one of those round striped mints. (Look for a picture of that after our party this weekend.) Adam got some kitchen towels that were nice, but that he regifted to his secret Santa at work since we didn’t really have use for them.

Wednesday we headed to Skyline with his parents to see some stand-up comedy. They had won free tickets in the drawing the club holds so all we had to cover were drinks (there’s a two drink minimum.) The host wasn’t too good and the headliner was ok. The opening act, Mike Merryfield, was undoubtedly the best of the three. He’s apparently a local although I’d never heard of him. All in all, a good time was had.

Today we’re apparently having a load of firewood dropped off. We (and by “we” I mean Adam and his dad. But I supervised!) had previously re-stacked the wood we already had to organize it when Chris and Katie cut down all kind of trees in their yard and gave us some of the results. So now we get to do it again to make room for this additional lumber. I doubt we’ll have any problem burning through it since we seem to have a fire going pretty much all weekend, every weekend.

Tomorrow is Adam’s grandma’s party up in De Pere. I suspect it will be very different from last year’s since there will be a drastic reduction in the number of babies in attendance. Adam was even told to forego his Santa routine. It should still be a good time – his relatives are fun. After we’re done there it’ll be time to come home and bake an obscene amount of cookies. Mmmm, cookies. I admit I’m cheating a little and most of them will be of the pre-fab persuasion. We got four boxes of frozen cookie dough to support the Catholic Central cookie drive at church a couple weeks ago. Aside from some Snickerdoodles, I plan to just arrange and bake the dough.

Sunday is our party. I have this feeling that between the possibility of heinous weather and the dismal RSVP results we’ve gotten, we might end up sitting there staring at each other for three hours. Luckily I realized this early enough that I had time to go find The Muppet Christmas Carol to have playing on the TV in case we get bored and lonely. Sunday morning will be some prep work (like putting up the tree… again…) and crockpot meatballs and then early afternoon I’ll kick into Martha Stewart high gear with the two mini appetizers and the dip I have planned. Nothing too difficult or showy. Just yummy. At this point I think I’m just short one serving bowl and I might end up using my African animals one. Or maybe I should bring back the Halloween bowl from the basement. In any case, everything appears to be under control. For now.

Monday is Christmas Eve, obviously. I’m not sure we have anything planned except for the aforementioned 9pm handbell commitment. I’m all done with my shopping. I just have a few things to wrap. Christmas Day we have a ham to contend with and we’re doing the Paalman Christmas thing in the early afternoon. Wednesday it’s back to work and since I’m all out of vacation I’m in it for the long haul. I’m generally ok with that. I should be able to keep myself busy with year-end stuff. I hope. We’re doing inventory on the 31st and I was pretty impressed with the decent number of volunteers I got to help count. I was fearing the worst, anticipating counting the whole plant by myself, so that’s a relief. Plans for New Year’s Eve are up in the air right now and it’s totally possible that we’ll end up sitting at home, falling asleep way before the ball drops. Wouldn’t be the first time…

And then it’s the new year. It looks as though the first two weeks of January will be insanely busy for me at work. It also looks as though I’ll be working at least 3 or 4 hours on Saturday the 5th. I’m hoping that by Friday I can get enough of my stuff done that I can get out of it but that seems unlikely. Boo for stupid accounting schedules.

That seems like a thorough enough recap for now. Merry Christmas everyone.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Kitty Rampage

Ok, not really. But they de-tailed their mouse. Bwahahahaha. That just cracks me up. Almost as much as when my dad asked me how Jean De-Claude was on Sunday. How did I not think of that one?

JC is doing fine. Being more obnoxious than ever since we have to confine him in the rodent room for most of the day. He's taken to doing "the Ted" which involves stopping dead in his tracks and flopping onto his side for no apparent reason:

But he's just so adorable, it's almost ok that he follows you around like a dog trying to trip you at every step. Almost.

Staying Alive

How did it get to be Wednesday already? Wow.

Anyway, the weekend that is now so far in the past was more interesting than some others have been. On Friday night we decided to go out for dinner since I didn’t feel like cooking and Adam didn’t either. We went to The Ground Round at the golf course for the first time in quite a while. The last time we were there was during the scary karoke night. This time we got there right in time for Happy Hour Trivia. Woo. And they’ve added little flat screen TVs by all the tables. And you can change the channel so you can watch something other than sports. Double woo. Anyway, we ordered food, had fun watching “How It’s Made” on the Discovery Channel. At the end of the 6 questions (most of which I totally guessed about) we handed in our answer cards and waited for the results. The winner would get a $50 gift card.

Of course, why would I be telling you this whole thing if something significant didn’t happen? Turns out I’m a pretty good wild guesser. I got all 6 answers correct. Although one other person got them all right too so they split the prize in half. Still, $25 for random guessing isn’t shabby. It will fund our next “don’t feel like cooking” night out.

On Saturday we did a whole bunch of shopping and running around. I think we were gone from around 9am to almost 4pm. We started by heading up to Green Bay. We visited with Dave and Adam’s grandmother for a while. We were lucky enough to have the planes that were doing the flyover for the Packer game the next day fly right over us. Now, her house is on the flight path for the airport so this is not unusual. But these planes were flying veeeeery low. I’m talking brushing the treetops low. So they were veeeeeery loud. But hey, Adam got to see a warbird something or other close up so he was happy. Who needs their hearing? It’s over-rated. We stopped by PetSmart (since we were in the neighborhood) for some pet stuff (duh) and then headed back to Simon’s to get some cheese. Then we made stops at a few other places (Walgreens, Blockbuster, Walmart, Petco, probably others but I kind of lost track.) We also stopped by his parents’ house somewhere in there I think. When we got home we unloaded everything and I went back out to do the grocery shopping. I made dinner, we watched TV. That’s about it.

Until 1am Sunday morning when I awoke to the unpleasantness of the “stomach flu.” I spent most of the morning either sleeping or in the bathroom. Adam was nice enough to go get some Coke and flatten it for me to try and calm my stomach down. It didn’t work too well. Then he was even nicer when I asked him to go to Walgreens for me right before the football game started. I still felt pretty crappy at 3pm when I had to leave to go to church for the handbell concert. I brought some Gatorade with me and managed to spill it on my white shirt. I was having a bad day. All things considered the bell concert went very well. There was a decent crowd and we even got a standing ovation. I ducked out before everything was cleaned up and bailed on the dinner out with my dad and Cheryl. I just went home and crawled into bed. I think I probably fell asleep for a few hours before Adam came to bed for the night.

Monday morning I felt a lot better than I had the previous morning. I hadn’t eaten anything since dinner on Saturday (which had so spectacularly re-introduced itself Sunday morning) so I was kind of worried what I might happen if I tried to eat breakfast. It’s that whole “I’m so hungry, but my body will rebel” situation. So I told work I might be late if things didn’t work out. I made some plain rice but chickened out after about three tiny bites. I gave up and just went to work with a bottle of Gatorade. I only made it about four hours before I felt like I wanted to throw up again so I left early to go home and take a nap before bell practice. Things were still a little uncomfortable during practice and when I came home I went to lay down.

Yesterday morning I was pretty much back to normal. I worked all day, came home last night and cleaned up the mess created by me ignoring the house for two days. I even mopped the floor. Well, ok, I had to mop the floor because when I was home for lunch I was on my way to put my glass of flat Coke back in the fridge and JC tripped me. He meowed AFTER he was already under my feet. Grrrr. He yelped, I flew, the Coke splattered all over. So yeah, the floor was a little sticky. Anyway, I tried to take care of some of the things I had anticipated doing on Sunday.

Today I’m doing fine. A little tired perhaps, but fine. Tonight is the first “Adam’s in charge of dinner” night and he plans on grilling steaks. Yes, I understand that there’s a good 6 or 8 inches of snow on the deck but luckily the grill is scooted up right next to the patio door. I’ve made Wednesday his night to make dinner with an “it can’t always be frozen pizza” clause. It might be a bit tricky since he works later than I do, but we’ll see how it goes. Other than that tonight will be full of more catch-up and normal Wednesday activities (laundry, garbage.) I also need to get my butt moving on the Lowe’s 0% balance transfer I’m working on since the first payment is due the first week of January… Speaking of finances, I’m also currently working on our 2008 budget. It’s not pretty, although I’m fudging some numbers until we find out how things shake out with Adam moving to a salaried position. Is it unreasonable to ask for a 10% raise? :)

UDPATE: Adam didn't make dinner. He stayed late at work, came home for an hour, and then went back to work. Oh well. Maybe tomorrow...

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Big S-N-I-P

Today was a big day for JC.

He was dropped off at the vet this morning, got the "all clear" from the vet regarding the FIP scare, and was then put under for surgery. He's no longer a "he", he's an "it." And for good measure we had him front paw declawed and gave him a few shots (round two of distemper and rabies) while we were at it. Poor guy. But apparently he was up and about soon after waking up. He'll be staying overnight at the cat clinic for observation (and, to a certain extent, to keep the other two cats from beating him up too much.) When we bring him home tomorrow afternoon we'll be keeping him alone in the other room for a few days since he'll need special litter and some time away from the other guys and their rough-housing. I'm hoping his personality doesn't change too much as a result of this operation but you never know until it happens.

For now, we can all enjoy this cool action shot of him attacking some paper towel this past weekend:

Next we have to figure out how to trick the other two into the carriers so we can take them for their well-cat checkups. Hmmm. Any ideas?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Dumped On

I'd say we got pretty close to the 6-7 inches the weathermen predicted. It started yesterday around 11:30 and didn't stop until late evening. We've already shoveled three times. We're reconsidering our decision to forego a snowblower.

Enjoy this one, Mom. It's probably headed in your direction...