Went tree spinning tonight at the Zilker Christmas Tree--an old honored Austin tradition that my dad and my husband have finally participated in, and it will probably be another lifetime before they do so again (:-) ) We did get to see Doug and Luciana, which is always nice, and Jonathan got to spin under the tree with his Boppa, Daddy, Mummy, Auntie Jenny, and he also got to walk Homer to the car when it was time to go. Who could ask for more? I did get a funnel cake that was shared by all, although we did wish that Brian (Dale's dad) was there to eat the rest, since he's so good at it.
Afterwards, Jen & Stepan took Homer back to their house, then came over to ours to share some dill smoked salmon and some caviar in my dad's new caviar serving dish that Mom gave him for Xmas. The caviar was actually a little bland, but we don't know if that's a comment on the caviar or a comment on our taste buds.
Then we settled down to watch The Terminator, which turned out to be a lot more campy than ieither Dale or I remembered (it was an Xmas present to me from Dale)--Jonathan [meaningful throat-clearing here] gave Terminator II to me last year for Mother's Day.
May I say at this point that no matter how campy a movie is in terms of soundtrack or graphics, it is SO COOL to watch it on a a 57" widescreen television?!?!?!?
While my parents babysat last night, Dale and I went out to see The Two Towers, and we greatly enjoyed it. Anyone who's on the fence about whether to see it--go ahead and get to a theatre.
Jonathan opened his bingo game today and is having loads of fun spinning the wheel, getting a ball, and placing it on the master. We haven't even gotten to the bingo cards yet!
Going tree-spinning tonight at Zilker Park with Mom, Dad, Jennifer, & Stepan (and Jonathan and Dale, of course). My dad is trying to get someone to tell him exactly what tree spinning is, and nobody will. And he won't leave my thermostat alone either but keeps turning it up to 70 (which is suffocating!). I finally gave him an old robe of Dale's and a sweater, and I informed him that if he wore something other than a short-sleeved shirt he might stay a little warmer.
Dale and I got ourselves a Christmas present that was delivered this last Sunday morning--a 57" widescreen Hitachi HD television. It's the size of our entire old entertainment unit! All day Sunday it loomed in our den, casting a long shadow over everything.
But watching the first part of The Fellowship of the Ring on it with Jonathan (NOT the battle scene but the introduction to the Shire, Frodo, Gandalf, and Bilbo Baggins at home in Bag-End) was awfully cool. It's like having a movie screen right in our own room! Perhaps we'll start charging admission... We've watched a movie each of the last two nights (Apt Pupil and Gods and Monsters).
Are still considering exchanging it for a 43" (which would stick out 6 fewer inches into the room), but this big one is sure growing on us. Perhaps we could get used to having a monolith in the den.
It's funny having the karlhub.com site be a secret until Christmas. I keep checking my blog to see if anyone, like my lovely auntie Rita, has made any comments, and only then do I remember that she doesn't know about it yet! I think the karlhub.com site was a wonderful inspiration by my cousin Meredith, and I hope very much that we are able to keep it interesting and active for more than a couple of weeks.
Meredith: btw, Joy (Dale's mum) loved the song you wrote for Jennifer & Stepan's wedding.
This is probably a good place to say to the rest of my family (those who don't yet know about karlhub.com) that I am very glad and thankful that I have such a nice family that we'd even want to do something like this. We are so lucky to have a family that's nice to each other, likes to do things together, and talks more than once or twice a year; the older I get (and yes I know my bones are creaking now at my ripe old age of 32), the more I become aware that not all families have so much laughter when they get together, nor do all families call each other first--instead of friends--to share something, whether it's a triathlon or a ski trip or what. So--I'm glad you're all my family!
Ok, hopefully I've gotten the Xmas stress attack out of my system for this go-round of the holidays. Wires have gotten crossed every which way the last few days, with some of the results being a very nice office lamp stuck in the utility room for a couple of days and some stinky Stilton cheese on the futon (didn't know until nearly 24 hours after it was delivered that the box contained Stilton and thus should have been refrigerated immediately). Other things too have contributed, but I think all have been resolved and I shouldn't therefore have any more STRESS this holiday season. My quota has been fulfilled. :-)
Mailed off 75 Christmas cards this afternoon, none of which had been written at this time yesterday, so that's a major achievement too. There are still some I'd like to send, but they'd all be new to my list this year (people I've met through the family history stuff, mainly) and at this point I consider them optional. That's because I still have LOADS of presents in our closet that require wrapping, and also 3 stockings that need fringe attached with my glue gun--and I wanted to get both of those things done before Mom and Dad arrive on Sunday. Hmm, better not write too much more about that or I will get stressed again.
Just had some endorphins courtesy of my lovely husband, who received a Cocomotion as one of his Xmas presents from his parents. I get to enjoy it as well! And with homemade, all-natural marshmallows from Whole Foods in it, things are looking up.
Finally I don't have to sit at a horrible set of shelves, and I have somewhere to put my stuff, and it's just wonderful. It's been years since I had a desk of my own, and I love it dearly. Thank you Brian & Joy!!
Mom and Dad have also contributed--within the next week I will get to pick out a desk chair of my own, courtesy of them, to go along with my new desk. I envision one with a 4-ft high back, in rich supple leather, with arms and possibly a massaging back . . .
Had a wonderful early Christmas on Sunday (it was an early Xmas with Brian & Joy before they returned to England--Dale, Jonathan, and I opened our presents from them, and they opened their pressies from us).
Upon getting up in the morning, Brian & Joy got to open their stockings that Santa had left for them (much to their surprise!), and it was a lot of fun to see the two of them sitting on the futon busily unwrapping all the little goodies they found in the stockings. Then we all got stuck into opening presents; had some Cafe du Monde coffee & Krispy Kremes (the beignets fell by the wayside since my mix was two years out of date); and tried to convince Jonathan to open his presents with a greater rate of frequency than one every two hours.
We had a brunch at The Granite Cafe, which was lovely and we had great service, and then we went back home to play with our new toys. The weather was wonderful here (we had our brunch outside), and in the late afternoon Jennifer & Stepan joined us for a Christmas tea.
Oodles and oodles of food for tea: honey-baked ham, smoked salmon, duck liver pate; 4 different kinds of crackers; Central Market brioche, nine-grain w/honey bread, and sourdough bread; stoneground mustard and fresh butter in my butter bell; and vegetarian hors d'oeuvres wrapped in phyllo pastry. Dessert included a dobosh tort (a layer cake), After Eight biscuits, double chocolate Milanos, chocolate ginger biscuits, carrot cake and cinnamon buns from Central Market, and peanut butter blossoms and Stepan's gingerbread cookies contributed by J&S. And tea, of course. It was lots of fun, and it was great to have Jen & Stepan joining us for it (especially since they ate lots of food--I have tons of leftovers).
Good news today--found out from my ob/gyn that I have a clean bill of health. Was so relieved that all I could do was go to sleep for an hour or so when I got the chance. It's quite something to have the weight of worry removed.
The last few days have been very busy trying to fit in things before Brian & Joy leave to return to England. In the last few days we have been to the factory outlets in San Marcos, the Trail of Lights in Austin (which made our little boy starry-eyed), Suzi's Chinese Kitchen on South Lamar, World Market . . . and Friday was just a lazy day, much needed. Kept Joy in her dressing gown cuddled with Jonathan on the couch until 10:30 a.m., and in the afternoon she and Brian took Jonathan down to the park on his bicycle. The only time I left today was to go to Antonio's to pick up dinner. Other than the 5 loads of laundry I did, it was heaven.
Tomorrow is busy busy busy too--gymnastics and Barnes & Noble for Dale, Jonathan, Brian, and Joy while I stay home to wrap presents and do a couple of other things in preparation for our early Xmas on Sunday. Since B&J leave on Tuesday, and we never get to open our Xmas gifts together, at Dale's suggestion we are going to have our own special Xmas before they leave.
We will get up Sunday morning and open presents while eating homemade beignets (a tradition started with my parents the first Xmas Jonathan was born), then we will go have brunch somewhere nice to get ourselves stuffed while avoiding me having to cook & Brian having to wash up; the afternoon will be spent playing with our new toys, I guess, and then in the evening we'll go see some Xmas lights (either in the neighborhood or go down to 37th Street) and then have a Xmas tea at home. We are all looking forward to it very much, and it will be a real treat to get to see delight on the faces of Dale's parents as they open their gifts, plus I think it will be really nice for them to watch Jonathan opening gifts and enjoying them.
I was completely astonished to hear about Trent Lott's remark that "when Strom Thurmond ran for president [in 1948], we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either". What in the hell did he mean--feminist issues? economic ones? (He denied that he was referring to racial issues.) What a completely asinine thing to say, for a politican--and scarier still, that a politician, either Democrat or Republican, would say that about someone who ran for president on a platform of states' rights and anti-desegregation--someone who said that "there weren't enough troops in the Army to force white southerners to end segregation and allow . . . 'the Negro race' into theaters, swimming pools, homes and churches."
This from the person that, after the president, is the head of the majority political party in American politics? Mortifying.
Monday night luckily turned out to be a roaring success. I had reserved a room with a king-size bed at the Stephen F. Austin Inter-Continental Hotel and planned to turn up at his work about 5 p.m., dressed to the nines, and whisk him away for a spectacular dinner and a private evening at a hotel, sans three-year-old child. This would be the first time we'd spent a night together--alone--since Jonathan was born.
So--the first thing that happens is Dale doesn't get up until 9:30 a.m. Monday morning, saying he's all stopped up in his nose and throat. Hopefully it's just allergies and it will clear up once he's up and about. I agree with a smile and go out to the kitchen to worry.
Then he says he's going to work at home that day. Marvelous! Just what I needed! How can I surprise him by taking him to a hotel less than one block away from his workplace when he's at home? I smile again and say what a wonderful treat it will be to have him at home.
At 10 a.m. I take Jonathan to his three-hour gymnastics time and drop Brian & Joy off at Highland Mall; in the parking lot of the mall I call a colleague of Dale's and ask him to get together with Dale's manager, who knows about the surprise, to manufacture a meeting to get Dale into the office by 2 p.m. Tony says he'll do it, putting me in his debt for a big one.
When I arrive home, I hear, much to my great (manufactured) surprise that his manager has called him into work for a 2 p.m. meeting. We spend some time speculating about the purpose and its potential implications. I try very hard to keep the shit-eating grin off my face.
Then, while brushing his teeth, Dale comes into the kitchen, where I am quietly reading the paper since I can't pack for our outing as I had planned. He looks quite stiff--when I look up at him, he says, "I think my back's about to go." Everything has seized up, and he can no longer turn his head to the left (this is a recurring problem with him). Oh yes, much good it will do us to have a king-sized bed all to ourselves when he CAN'T MOVE! I smile yet again and suggest he call his physical therapist. Keep smiling and remind myself it's too late to cancel with no charges, and surely everything will work out, and also that possibly I should consider joining my acting cousin in New York City.
Eventually, Dale did go into work, the exercises his physical therapist prescribed via phone loosened up his neck, and I was able to surprise him; we had a lovely dinner at The Shoreline Grill, where as Dale so elegantly put it, his dinner looked like a painting, it was presented so beautifully. (Our meal included the duck liver pate for an appetizer, the fish (snapper) special for me, and Dale had the Lump Crabcakes & Grilled Shrimp for his entree; for dessert we split the chocolate tres leches, which is not on the online menu. It was all superb.) Then this morning in our room we had a fully cooked room-service breakfast, which we ate in our hotel-provided terrycloth robes. Yum.
So, today it was back to home with millions of things waiting to be done--dinner to be either cooked or bought (if bought--where from? what items to order? when to have it arrive? too many questions), bags to be unpacked, Xmas cards to be addressed (much less written), e-mail to be read, etc. Difficult returning to the real world after having spent a night removed from it. It was worth it though!
Yesterday was a busy day--Jonathan, Dale, Brian, & Joy to gymnastics and then to Barnes & Noble for escalator riding, snacks in the cafe, and storytime, while I went to mail birthday presents to Matthew & Courtney for their upcoming 18th and a Christmas present to my Grama Sprong in Kansas.
We all met up at the Bob Bullock Museum for lunch and the Border Radio performance connected with the Country Music Exhibit that's currently on. The show was great--they're doing it the last time on 4 January, and I recommend it--and Jonathan quite enjoyed it. He quickly picked up laughing at the jokes, and he clapped on the beat to the songs with everybody. Even the yodeling in one song was fun to hear! I think nearly all music is fun to hear live.
After that we finally got our tree from Papa Noel, as we have done for at least the last three years. It's a perfect size for our living room and holds our ornaments nicely. One thing new I used this year are tree clips to hold the light strings in place. I got two boxes of them from The Famous Christmas Store on I-35 in Austin, and boy I wish I had gotten two more! They work great for keeping the cords down and out of sight.
Today is a gray rainy day, so we went to two model homes to take Brian & Joy around, and to look for ourselves as well at what buying a new house might be like. Then we had a wonderful coffee at Texpresso and felt all cozy with our hot drinks and cookies and walnut scones.
Dale is busy with his parents getting them to record commentary over old 8mm footage that Brian had shot lo these many years ago. He's going to get about 30 mins worth and make a DVD out of it. If it works out well, we may try to do the same thing with some of the old Karl family footage. Anyone interested in that?
We (Joy, Brian, and myself) put out the house Christmas decorations this evening, and I must say it looks very nice and warm and welcoming. Candlelight is so attractive and gentle, much nicer than electric light. If I were rich and could afford to be eccentric, I think I'd have my entire house lit by candlelight only (didn't Cher do that?).
I have made a minor start towards the candlelight thing by ordering some Candlebulbs, which I intend to use at either a Xmas open house or simply for Xmas Eve and/or Xmas Day dinner. After that I'll use them for any special occasion that arises, even if just a night with my sweetie. I think they're going to look beautiful.
Now the only thing remaining (already got the lights on the bushes in front of the house) is to get a tree and decorate it, which we are going to do this Saturday afternoon. Jonathan is as excited as he can be about getting a tree. Something I've done for him this year is to get a little (about 1-1/2' tall) fake tree with a string of 10 lights and some unbreakable ornaments that he can decorate himself and have in his bedroom. I think he's going to love it. In our lounge (the den, or family room) I have put up a little tree (artificial) that my Grama Sprong put up for many years. It's very nice to have a tree that I remember seeing for so many years in my grandmother's house, plus it's really nice to have a little tree (it's probably 2-1/2' tall max) in the room we spend a lot of time in; in our house, the tree is out in the front room, where we do spend some time, but the kitchen doesn't open onto it unfortunately.
Also, I got Jonathan a bubble light nightlight as he loved the bubble lights he saw on a wreath today at The Famous Christmas Store. Dale said it looked like a lava lamp, so I'll probably get one for my dad as a stocking stuffer; my mom said she'd disown me if I got him a full-sized one, since he'd insist on putting it in a main room and she has no desire to modify her decor to accommodate a lava lamp. There's just no accounting for some people's tastes . . . and you can take that to be a comment on either my dad or my mom, whichever you prefer . . .
As I was having my coffee and oatmeal and innocently reading the paper this morning, I nearly lost my breakfast upon reading that the Bushes are going to decorate the White House Christmas tree with representations of 400 birds from across America. That is the most hypocritical thing I've heard (at least in the last 24 hours) about the Bush administration (no comment on Laura). If he likes native birds so much, what in the HELL was he doing relaxing all the environmental regulations last week?? Most things about his policies and the giant discrepancies between his words and actions I let roll off my back so that I live to see my 35th birthday, but this irritates me so much I could spit.
Also as a mark against the day, I spent an entire hour waiting in the post office to mail packages to England. Must remember next year to mail items earlier to try to avoid the lines (and, of course, the airmail charges). Luckily I had something to read with me.
After dropping Jonathan off at his Bal Pals (gymnastics) this morning, Joy & Brian & I went shopping (they never stop!). Learning Express for some final Xmas gift buying, The Container Store (good stocking stuffers, plus things for me to organize my stretch of wall in our study), then finally Linens 'n' Things. Wolfed down a baked potato at Whole Foods before picking up Jonathan. The 3 of them have just set off for the park, Jonathan on his bicycle and Nanny & Grandad on foot, as it's spectacular here today--barely any clouds and 70 degrees. Must take advantage of this while it lasts!
Medical problems continue for me (boo). I'll be glad when all my complications are resolved!
Saw another front-page article in the Houston Chronicle today about cell phones & driving. Ever since a study came out a few months ago demonstrating that brain activity is the same whether using a hands-free or handheld phone in the car, I stopped chatting on mine, for the most part, while driving. Not worth the risk.
Watched a great episode of Coupling last night on BBC America. That is definitely an inspired show and is always good for some laughs.
Hello Family Members, yet another of us has arrived in the blogging world, and suddenly I'm going to have much more to do than simply kibbutz on other people's blogs. Hmm.
Since this is intended partly as a Christmas present to the previous generation of our family, I want to first say, "Merry Christmas!" And I love all of you and hope everyone's had a happy holiday.
Dale's parents Joy & Brian are here with us now. Yesterday Jonathan and I took them down to the Victorian Christmas on Sixth Street, and we spent the entire day down there. Got there about 11:45 a.m. and left about 6 p.m. Jonathan was enchanted by the little children's carnival and went in the giant bouncy castle, rode with me twice on the tubs of fun (where you sit in a little thingy and spin a wheel to make yourself go round really really fast), sat in a little train for nearly half an hour, and rode the little train that goes around the perimeter of the festival with me. We had an early dinner at B.D. Riley's pub and thus got to stay late enough to see the stalls hang lanterns to see by as the sun went down. It was very pretty and a good time was had by all.
Today Dale is busy hiding speaker wire (we got new Bose speakers to replace the two huge things I'd had since my senior year in high school, and Dale has mounted them on the wall to save floor space), and I think later he is taking Jonathan to the Children's Museum. I will probably relax on the couch and work on my genealogy stuff as I have a new software program, The Master Genealogist from Wholly Genes, to learn and it's a doozy. But now I can work on it in comfort since my sweetie set up a wireless network yesterday for me (love that bonus money). It's awfully nice!