Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year

It's about 2 hours to midnight (not two minutes, mind you) so I'll wish you a Happy New Year now. Hope 2007 is a great year for everyone! Since I've taken a week off from blogging, I'll be spending the week catching up. So I should get to everyone by Friday! So much has gone on in the last week I need to blog about! I'll have to put some notes somewhere. Anyway, I thought it best to go chronologically, so I'll start with Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve is always spent with my family. It's a much bigger deal in our Italian tradition than Christmas Day. It's worked well for us over the years as we then always spend Christmas Day with the Wife's family. No trying to figure out whose turn it is. Also, it allows us to get all the craziness out of the way early and actually enjoy a quiet Christmas Day.

For those of you not of Italian heritage (or if your from a part of Italy that doesn't have this tradition), Christmas Eve is a fish day. Kind of like Fridays during Lent or Good Friday. I'm not sure why that is. It's just one of those things. The meal is pretty standard. We start out with TONS of shrimp cocktail (shrimps, for those of you that don't have off the boat parents). My mom usually gets 3 to 4 pounds of shrimps, the BIG ones. The Wife and I like the spicy cocktail sauce with plenty of horseradish in it.

The next course is linguine or spaghetti with red clam sauce. You get a full dish of pasta. Now, I'm not talking cereal bowl size dishes here. We're talking the real deal pasta dishes that are like 12 inches in diameter and two inches deep. Full of pasta. Unless you say you only want a little. Then you get a 3/4 size helping. Served with bread, of course.

Are you full yet? Don't matter, we're just getting started. Next comes the main course. Fried shrimps, bakala (baked salt cod), fried calamari, seafood salad, perhaps octopus, sometimes some fried red snapper, fries (cause the kids like fries), and salad. You always have to have salad. There may even be another vegetable, usually broccoli. And you need fresh lemon to squeeze on to your fish. You first peel the fried shrimps, then wash your hands (try peeling fried shrimps sometime and you'll understand), then you squeeze lemon on the shrimps and whatever other fish you have on your plate.

Once everyone is satisfied, you clear the table and bring out the fruit and have coffee. Usually nuts are served at this time as well. After sitting for another maybe 15 minutes or so, the desserts come out. Pie, cheesecake, jello, brownies, you name it. The final cherry to put on top of this meal is roasted chestnuts (chestenuts, as my parents would say).

Now, it isn't the copious amounts of food that make the Wife crazy every time we spend holidays at my parents. It's the volume. Whenever the whole family gets together, we have maybe 15 adults there. Don't sound like too many, does it? Well, have you ever HEARD 15 Italians talking? They're all speaking at the same time, at a sufficient volume to be heard at the end of the street. All carrying on about 3 conversations each simultaneously.

Additionally, it's Christmas Eve. Meaning, 5 grandchildren ranging from 4 to 10 would like to open presents. You recall the meal described above? Well, as you could imagine, it takes a while to get through such a meal. Around 2 to 3 hours. Which makes sense for a meal that size. However, the kids are done pretty much after the pasta. And spend the rest of the time running around the house creating havoc and asking about every 10 minutes, "Is it time to open presents yet?" The highlight of this year was when one of my nephews tried to jump a gift bag that contained wine and knocked it down the stairs. Lost only one bottle!

But family gatherings at my parent's place are by definition loud and hectic. I, of course, actually look forward to it. You grow up with it, it's comforting. The Wife hates it, as her family was just the opposite and enjoyed "quiet" meals on the holidays. But we survived, got the boys to bed at a semi-reasonable hour, and managed to get to church on time on Christmas. Plus the boys got stuff they liked, including a Game Cube. The Wife and I got a bread maker from my parents which we finally tried out today. Made pretty good bread! I'll have to keep working with it.

Next post will skip Christmas Day per se and talk about something that hit me while in Church that morning.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Merry Christmas

Hope everyone had a great Christmas and that Santa was good to you. The boys were very pleased with their gifts, especially their new GameCube. They're currently playing Lego Star Wars II. It's quite amusing but the boys are still learning to work together to play the game.

I thought I'd take this little lull before we go see a movie to throw up a quick post about our Christmas dinner. I had such high hopes for it. The plan was roast beef, winter vegetables, mashed potatoes, and green beans. Unlike Thanksgiving, where we prepped a lot of it the day before, we didn't get the chance to do that this time. Our appetizers worked out nice, antipasto and shrimp cocktail. However, when we checked the roast, even though the thermometer said it was done, it wasn't. Nearly 2 and a half hours in the oven, just like the cookbook said, and it was rarer than rare. So we ended up slicing and broiling it to get it cooked. Also, our mashed potatoes, which usually come out quite good, didn't.

Despite these culinary woes, dinner was actually pretty good. Everyone said the food tasted great, even though it took a little longer than expected to prepare. We had the Wife's family over, her brother and sister-in-law, brother's mother-in-law, and nephew. All in all it was a nice afternoon/evening. Being with family is always a good thing. We busted out the home made cookies for dessert which were very tasty.

All in all it was a pretty good day. More to follow on all of the festivities, especially the big Italian thing on Christmas eve.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

I wanted to wish everyone holiday felicitations now while I have a chance. I'll be off work next week (yeah!) and home with the boys (wish me luck). As a result, I don't know how much I'll be on line. Hope you all have a great Christmas and get everything you need if you don't get everything you want.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Not what I wanted to blog

I had a cool post in mind about the awesomeness of the blog community, but it's 11 pm and I need to crash soon. I spent the evening at karate (Maverick earned his orange belt! Yeah for him!), wrapping presents, and helping the Wife make kick as Pecan Tassies. However, that took me to now, as I just took the last batch out of the oven and need to let them cool before taking them out of the muffin pans to fully cool. Then I'm getting my ass in bed.

So my killer post will have to wait a while. I've also got another rant brewing from all the crap I'm hearing out of our illustrious Dictator-in-Chief. But again, it will have to wait for another day. I will give a quick shout out to my Lois, who I will say a prayer for. Check out her blog for details, but suffice it to say that she was in a bit of a pinch, but will come through just fine because she has faith in the Lord. I pray he gives her not only what she needs, but more than she asks for. Love you to death girl!

For your amusement

I heard this on the radio this morning and thought you'd all get a kick out of it. I found it very funny. Enjoy!

I Can See Your Camel Toe

Sunday, December 17, 2006

I made it out alive!

Well, to paraphrase our beloved Commander In Chief, Mission Accomplished! Yes, the Wife and I have completed everything we meant to get done this weekend. Last week the Wife emailed me with a little note with all the things we'd done that weekend. I shall use that technique now to describe our weekend. Please note I'm on call this weekend so I'm carrying a pager I have to respond to.

Friday: The "weekend" began after dinner. We stop at a couple of stores looked for a gift. No success. So we got to Target. Found a few items, but not many. We really needed toys for my nephews, but selection sucked. We did get a birthday gift for Maverick's new friend. He was invited to a birthday party in the middle of the week for Saturday. We decided to try Toys R Us since it was nearby. Managed to find all the other toys we needed. However, Grasshopper (and I) had a major meltdown. I had to take him out of the store crying and helling "why do you hate me?" We screamed at each other in the car. I stepped out and the Wife called on the cell phone, which is what I needed to calm down. Spent the next 10 minutes holding Grasshopper and calming him down. After putting the boys to bed, we stayed up until 11 pm doing Christmas cards. Crash and go to bed.

Saturday: Got woken up at 6:45 by pager to notify me the guard was in the building. Slept for 45 more minutes, got up to take the boys to karate by 9. During karate, I ran to the auto parts store to get wiper blades for the Wife. Drop all the Christmas cards in the mailbox. After karate, we get gas, stop at the liquor store to get wine. Stop at Tim Hortons for gift certificates. Get some cash from the ATM, get more Christmas cards since we were short, head home. Plan was to go grocery shopping before lunch. Finish up Christmas cards first. Go to the post office to drop off cards and mail out a gift. Stop at Panera Bread (new bread shop in town) and get free loaf of Asiago chees bread. Get a call from my cousin wanting to get together. He'd call me with a time a little later. We shift gears and go into cleaning mode. He calls back and says how about in an hour? AHHH! He shows up as I'm about to vacuum. Oh well. We have a nice visit. Take Maverick to birthday party and leave a little early to get some gift cards from local movie theatre. Drop off Maverick, stop at Tim Hortons for more gift certificates, mail a card I missed, get home. Finish cleaning, go grocery shopping and let the Wife pick up Maverick. Make dinner. I had planned to finish shopping after dinner, but the Wife is experiencing "female" symptoms and is too tired. Boys didn't feel like going out so we stay home instead and watch The Wild on Pay-per-View. Very funny movie.

Sunday: Get woken up at 6:30 by pager. Get up at 7:30 to get ready for Church. Go to 9:30 mass, come home to change, off to the mall to finish shopping. We get all the rest of our gifts purchased, home by 1 pm. Have lunch. Actually crash for a little bit. By 3 pm, I'm off to church again to play at the Alive at 5 mass. Set up, rehearse, play. After Mass, quickly move gear across the building to play at a youth Christmas party also in the church. Play for the kids for about a half hour. Get fed AWESOME turkey dinner with all the trimmings as part of the party. Sit with the teenagers in the band, discuss sex and answer questions on my marriage, including the 5 minute synopsis of our 20 plus year relationship. Get home and give Grasshopper shower, get kids in bed. Boot up laptop and write post.

Again, I managed all of this in a little over 48 hours, including a little time for sleep and watching football. I should be exhausted, but I'm not. The Wife is tired no matter what, as it's that time again. And other than the meltdown with Grasshopper, we didn't kill each other this weekend. But the shopping is DONE! Of course, now we have to wrap the presents and plan Christmas dinner. We're having the Wife's family over for dinner. Which should be nice. It's much less stress when we do things here. But at least all the things I have left to do, other than grocery shopping for Christmas dinner, can be done here at home.

So how was your weekend?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

So much time, so little to say

I'm always amazed at how the Holy Spirit works through Faith on Fire. Last night, we played Christmas Carols (yes, the real deal) during the weekly Wednesday worship service at church. I spoke to our drummer before hand. I tried to find out where his frustrations with the group were coming from. Listening to him, I could completely relate. He's feeling many of the things I've been. How sometimes it feels more like work than fun. How sometimes the gigs feel more like obligations and infringement on our time than a ministry. Getting excited for a gig to have something go wrong.

I explained that these things are normal. I think he feels a little better, but he does need to work this out on his own. I came to that gig not wanting to do it at all. I had a long day. I wasn't looking forward to it in the first place and after work I just wanted to hang out at home and not go anywhere. I didn't play particularly inspired and it wasn't one of my best performances.

But when we were done, I was smiling, and I felt a whole lot better. Something about playing music with this group, even if I don't do it very well, lifts my spirits. All things considered, it can only be the Holy Spirit working through them. There's no other way to explain it. It's why I keep doing what I'm doing. Because I need to.

To totally switch gears, the most amusing google search to find my site is "great hurt over christian husband too friendly with a coworker". Not sure exactly what this person was looking for. But they were looking for a while. My site was DEEP in this search, like more than 12 pages in. I found a post from last year that had nothing to do with that, but may have mentioned coworker. One thing I did realize is that I don't rant as much as I used to. I'm not sure if I'm just getting boring, getting old, or just don't care. Either way, I sounded much more angry a year ago.

This weekend is going to be the marathon "get all the Christmas shopping DONE" weekend. Since it's the last real full weekend before the blessed holiday, I'm just going to make sure everything that needs doing (with the exception of wrapping) is done by the time I go to bed Sunday. Of course, there's karate, birthday parties, and Alive at Five this weekend, so my insanity will begin after work tomorrow. If my head doesn't explode, I'll give you an update on the success on Monday.

And finally, from an old Navy pal who now has a PhD and is now a college professor, the real reason you got the grades you did in college (assuming you went):

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

On a Mission from God

Tonight was band practice. It went as usual until the end. We tried to have a "serious" conversation about whether or not to play at a Wednesday worship service at church. That's when things go interesting.

If you were watching a reality TV show, you might think this was the part where the band falls apart. One of the singers appeared to be yelling at everyone (she was just being passionate), the drummer said he wasn't "feeling" it any longer as a member of the group, with no elaboration. Another singer tried to express her feelings and just burst out crying. Interesting way to end the evening.

All in all, it's probably not as dramatic as it appears. However, there's issues within the band that should be addressed. I think many people are feeling the strain of trying to fit things into their schedules and perhaps too many demands being made on them. I need to contact one of the other leaders to try and get a feel for what's going on.

For myself, there are times I'm not feeling it either. I always enjoy playing music with this group. But there can be a frustration about the whole thing at times. Some of it is just part of being in a band. I don't know about the rest. It's something I'll have to pray about.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Getting closer to done

Today was our big day off shopping. It went fairly well. We started out with breakfast with the boys before school. Both of them got a kick out of it and were mostly behaved at the restaurant. Grasshopper wouldn't shut up, but that's not unusual. He has a problem knowing when to stop talking.

After dropping the boys off at school, off we went. We hit the Christmas Tree Shops first, figuring that it should be dead on a Monday morning. It was. It just opened in our area and I heard it was a veritable zoo on the weekend. We got some wrapping paper and other assorted gift wrapping paraphernalia. Then it was off to Target. Beyond a couple of video games for the boys, most of the shopping was for us. So, by about 10:30 am, we had NO actual Christmas shopping done yet. Granted, I hadn't expected to get any actual Christmas shopping done at those stores, but still. I had to keep the Wife's spirits up.

Next up was Toys R Us. Normally, I avoid that place like the plague, but surprisingly, they actually had better prices that Target on some of the things we were looking for. It shocked the hell out of us since usually they're the most expensive toy store out there. We also managed to find a new canine friend for Grasshopper (the non-living kind). Again, since it was a Monday, there were no crowds to be found.

Then it was off to the mall. We did a little better there. We had our list of who to buy for and what to get for most of them. We had a couple of people on our list that we had no clue on. Over all we did well. For those with definite gifts on our list, we bought the gifts. For one of the people with no idea, we got a gift. For another with no idea, we managed to get some ideas. A few others we need to get some gift cards, but that should be no sweat.

Overall, I'd say it was actually a nice day. I can't remember the last time the Wife and I got to just go out like that and not spend most of our time getting the kids to either behave or shut up. We got to sit and have a nice lunch for a change. We got to wander stores without someone saying "I'm bored, I want to go now" or "Ah man! I hate that store!". However, we did realize how old we were. We were shopping for maybe 6 hours total. Including driving time between stores. We were tired, man! The Wife and I split up for a little while and I sat down at a Starbucks to wait for her. My feet actually hurt! I didn't realize I was tired until I sat down. Damn that didn't used to happen.

Anyway, it was a nice day and I hated for it to end. It was nice to live a fantasy of no work, kids, or anything and just pretend we were retired empty-nesters. The illusion only lasted for maybe an hour or two, but what a blissful hour or two that was. One day, we'll actually get there. It will be nice. I feel like we're in much better shape now for the holidays. Not quite done yet, in good shape. I'm sure the Wife still thinks there's tons of things to do, but I think it's manageable. We even managed to not only visit my parents yesterday, but bake cookies too. Really goooooood cookies. That you have to hide or you'll eat them all.

So it's back to work and the normal grind tomorrow. Sigh.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I'm so tired and inspired

All at the same time. I just finished watching the DVD Classic Albums: A Night at the Opera. This is such a must for every Queen fan. Basically Brian May and Roger Taylor, with clips of Freddie, explaining all the tracks. I smiled, I laughed, I cried.

I picked up my guitar and I want to play it all night long. It reminded my why Brian May is one of my most favoritest guitarists. He's just so amazing he makes me just fall in love with the guitar all over again. I could just sit, hold the guitar, and play stuff for hours and hours right now.

But it's late. And I should go to bed. But if anyone wants an idea for a Christmas gift for me, the copy of the above DVD was burned for me, and is flaky. So a REAL copy of the DVD to have for my very own (hint, hint) would be just fabulous.

So good night all. Take care of those you call your own and keep good company.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Two sure signs winter/Christmas is coming. Buying snow tires for your SUV and a Christmas tree.

That's right, the Wife bought new snow tires for her vehicle. Granted, she really needed them. Her tires were very fucked up. And LOUD. It sounded like those jacked up SUV's with oversized mud tires, and it's supposed to sound like a car. Traction would most likely have really sucked, had we had real winter weather. Of course, we're out some decent change for these things since she's got 18 inch tires and there's only like 5 kinds of tires that fit. But her safety is more important than money, and I don't have her insured for THAT much. I don't think I could even pay off the house. So I'll keep her around for a while.

Also, tonight we actually went out and bought our Christmas tree. The boys were very excited. We have it up and have the angel and lights on it. We'll begin decorating it over the next few days. I'll put up a picture for Jude when it's done. Now it's on to all the other Christmasy things we have to do. On the suggestion of one of my co-workers, the Wife and I are taking Monday off from work to go Christmas shopping. We'll take the boys out to breakfast before school (which I'm sure they'll love. Maverick LOOOOOVES breakfast), drop the boys off, and enjoy a day together with not crowded stores. If I'm REALLY lucky, the majority of the shopping will be done.

Lastly, a different co-worker burned me a copy of the DVD Classic Albums - A Night at the Opera. It's a VH1 special on the making of the album, track by track. I watched a little of it during lunch today (having a laptop with DVD rocks!) and it's very cool so far. Neat little Queen fact: to get the 20's, using a megaphone on vocal sound for Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon was done by singing into a microphone, going out of the mixing board to a set of headphones placed in front of a can, then putting another mike in front of the can. That mike was used for the final vocal track. Can't wait to watch the rest of it.

Anyway, I'm having trouble keeping up with your blogs. I usually read during lunch at work, but now I'm having to do more work at work, which sucks. So I'm trying to keep up as best I can. If it looks like I'm not coming round, that's probably why. But I will visit you all, I promise.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Tis the Season

Well, we got little accomplished this weekend in the way of preparing for Christmas. We did go to a Christmas party last night, the annual event held by our high school friend P. It was a lot of fun, as usual. There were tons of kids running around this year. They must have been all well behaved, because we never yelled at our kids and didn't hear anyone yelling at their kids. The Wife was talking with P and they both agreed they're having trouble getting into the season this year. I'm not totally into it yet, but it's still early for me.

We starting to get some ideas now on our Christmas lists. Some of it we'll get on-line, but I need to wait until the end of the week when there's money in the account. First of the month is the mortgage payment, and since I get paid every other week, this time the first came on the off week. I hate that. Anyway, I did get some items purchased for the boys on Friday. The Wife would have gone, but it was windy and her tires are shot. The item was large and required the SUB to bring home, so I braved the wind and bald tires. New tires are on order and should be in Tuesday. I'm SOOOOOO thrilled I have to purchase tires for her vehicle after 20,000 miles. If this pair doesn't last, I'm going to get rid of the thing. I swear!

Today we went to the Genesee Country Museum. It's a working village set in the mid 1800s. It was corporate appreciation weekend and since my company is a sponsor, we all got in free! It was nice. They had a Civil War Santa (he had on a Star jacket and red striped pants), a 19th century Father Christmas, as well as traditional Santa. We had a wagon ride drawn by horses, and the kids got to decorate cookies. Quite pleasant. Today wasn't as windy as yesterday so the cold didn't feel too bad.

How are you mid-West types holding up? It looks like that part of the country got pounded. I feel for you guys, but better there than here.

A last couple of updates on the whole Legal Guy Jerk situation. As I said, our VP of Operations called me to find out what happened. She was very supportive. Our legal staff went out of their way to show appreciation for me and my team. The admin assistant brought us bagels. Her boss (the top legal type in our office) went around and collected appreciation stickers from each of her staff for me and my team (it's one of those deals if you fill a board with them, you get a free goodie). She also got me a Dr. Seuss book, Marvin K.Mooney Will You Please Go Now!, but put a post it over it with the person's name. Oh my God, I was dying! She's too much.

She also told me a couple of other incidents about this gentleman. First, he's never heard of the 5 P's (prior planning prevent piss-poor performance, piss-poor is one word people). He came out to Rochester to do a town hall kind of meeting. His secretary had the day off, he didn't check out a laptop prior to coming to ensure he had access to his office, AND he forgot all of his presentation materials in the office. THEN, when he left in a huff, he didn't tell the person that rode in with him he was leaving effectively stranding her in Rochester. The other personnel that were part of the team had to leave early to get her back home. Words cannot begin to describe this guy. Good thing he doesn't work for me, because he wouldn't for very long.

To end on a positive work note, I'll be in Syracuse tomorrow for a few hours for some meetings on integration of our networks. I'm getting involved in more things and I think my name is starting to be recognized in the right circles. While I'm not one for playing political games at work, the best way to get promoted is to show the right people what you can do. I'm a firm believer in action speaking louder than words.