Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Christmas Story - The recap and proof there is a Santa Claus

When we left off Christmas Eve day, I was preparing the servingware used to deliver Santa his treats at our house. The real action with this stuff takes place after a trip up to my wife's father's family Christmas.

We usually celebrate Christmas on several different occasions. Kids love it. I think I drive to much. Someday, I hope to find a happy middle ground. Until then...sigh.

The trip up to OhCountess' grandparents house is always filled with fun and food. After indulging in far too much food, we adjourn to the basement were the gifts are passed out by the kids. This is a pretty big deal because this is a pretty big family.

Part way through passing out the gifts, Santa shows up every year! He's such a good fella. All the grandkids get presents from Santa, even us almost 40 somethings with kids. Loads of fun!

When it's time for the hour long drive home, we pack up the kid's loot in the minivan and head back. I must admit that this year, my wife and FIL got me a great surprise of a present. For those of you in the south, and not even necessarily the deep south, you might not appreciate this, but for all you upper Midwest guys; they got me insulation for the attic in my garage! What a great present! I'm now saving up for the furnace that goes in there.

When I built the house, we installed the duct work, thermostat wires, gas line and electricity. All that's missing is the furnace unit itself. A few more poker tournaments, and I should have it. BTW - we got the insulation installed yesterday. Takes about an hour with 3 guys, one of which is named Grandpa and is watching the kids. Thank you Grandpa!
Once we get home and just before the little one slips into extreme deep sleep, we gotta get things ready for Santa. Remember, the bowel, plate and cup?

I'm sharing with you a few action shots of the girls getting it ready.

Seemed to me like OhPrincess2 was taking charge this year. I think she really wanted to make sure everything went just right!

We've got carrots for the reindeer.

There's cookies and milk for Santa.

I'm eyeing up that big box containing the rest of the cookies. There are spritz cookies in there. Anyone else sometimes wonder if those are a Class 1 Narcotic?

By mid January I'll have the shakes. Why do those cookies only get made once a year?

The girls did a great job of getting it ready!

They even allowed me one nice shot all posed and smiling.

This wasn't the first take. Getting them both smiling is always a trick.

We have very strict rules in our house in regards to Christmas morning. No one is allowed to leave the 2nd floor of the house until Mom and Dad are ready to get out of bed. OK...Mom is ready to get out of bed.

There was that year a while back when OhPrincess1 got that Barbie Talking Townhouse for Christmas at Grandma's house and someone thought it would be a good idea if I had that set up and ready to go Christmas morning. I'd swear there was a thousand 1 mm square stickers to put on. 3:30 AM that thing finally was done. I'm not bitter.

All in all, the kids got far too many toys. I ate far too much food but we had a blast following Santa using NORAD's tracking tool. It was working fabulously on my iPhone.

When mom gave the green light to head down stairs we got an immediate status report on the state of Santa's treats. THEY WERE GONE! OMGoodness! There are little bits of carrots left with teeth marks!

OhPrincess1 was happy to report that Santa is also a cookie dunker too! We here at the OhCaptain residence love to dunk our cookies in milk.

I present to you a close up of Exhibit A.
These are the carrots left for the reindeer. You can clearly see that they were indeed eaten. Several of them have teeth marks.
Exhibit B.
The milk cup. There was definitely something going on this cup last night. Look at the bits of cookies stuck to the sides and bottom of the cup. Well? Still not convinced?
Exhibit C.
Crumb, crumbs and more crumbs. We all know what a huge hurry Santa is in on Christmas eve. He ate these so quickly that he left quite the pile of crumbs. Mom and Dad were certainly grateful that Santa kept the crumbs to the plate, a little on the table, a bit more on the chair. OK. Santa wasn't really that neat.
The rest of Christmas morning we spent with just our family. We exchange gifts just between the four of us. At some point, someone notices that beside a few presents under the tree for the kids, Santa filled our stockings to the brim. More chocolates and goodies for EVERYONE!

Later on, we packed up the minivan and headed back to our home town to celebrate with my family. More food. More gifts (all of them fabulous!) and having my wife watch "A Christmas Story" for the first time. Yes, I was shocked. She know understands the lamp and the "put your eye out" jokes I sometimes mutter.

Christmas is a wonderful time of year. On Friday, we had one more Christmas celebration. My MIL and boyfriend, my SIL and niece came to our house. Ah! No driving. In exchange for the car keys, I took my first crack at roasting a turkey. I've cooked many things in my life, but never roasted a turkey. Being the geek that I am, I turned to King Geek Cook #1, Alton Brown, and prepared the bird "Good Eats" style. Here's Part 1...truly inspirational stuff.

But tomorrow, I go back to work. A three day week and then it's New Years. Another forced day off for us. I haven't decided if there will be more time off or not. Maybe, maybe not. I do know that I'm starting to look forward to a life returning to a bit more routine. I have things I need to be writing about. I went to Vegas not too long ago but returned to the real world too busy to write about it.

I hope all your holidays were spectacular and the time with your family was rewarding and revitalizing.

What was your Christmas like? Has Alton Brown saved your meal? Could there be a more perfect show for the geek that likes to cook? Is it possible for me to continue writing questions?

Happy Holidays everyone!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Putting out a spread for Santa

Again, Tismee2 over at Squared Off put up a post that I just needed to share my answer to with more detail.

She asked her readers what traditions there families had when it came to take care of Santa on Christmas eve. What a great question!

One of the things I like most about these here intertubes is it's power to break down the Atlantic Ocean. Tismee2, you see, is across the pond in England.

I'm fascinated by how different cultures handle similar events and holidays. Santa, isn't an American, he's a citizen of the world.

What I'm showing you here today is something my wife, the world greatest decorate and detail keeper, picked up at the Pottery Barn a few years ago. It's the Christmas Eve Santa Treat Kit. Flip Fantasia!

Each year, after spending Christmas Eve with OhCountess' father's family, we come home and prepare a spread for Ol' Saint Nick and his entourage. They get the good stuff at our house.

What's on the menu?

  • Milk
  • Homemade cookies
  • And for the reindeer - baby carrots.
I'm gonna try and snap some pictures later, more like action shots, but for now, notice how clean and shiny they are for tomorrow morning there will be messy dishes!

What kinda spread do you put out for Santa on Christmas Eve?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Your Santa Tracking Headquarters

We take Santa very seriously in our house. In my attempt to make sure everyone is informed, I'm adding this post to help all those waiting for Santa keep track of him, but please remember, you must be in bed and sleeping when it's your turn no matter how excited you are...period. That means you too mom and dad.

Use this gadge to track Santa on Christmas eve!

Merry Christmas Everyone from my family to yours!

Yeah, yeah. I know. Written posts would be cool. I'm taking offers to sell things to buy more time. I'm still in the 3 digits behind on reading everyone else's blogs. I apologize.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Now this is a winter storm

If you go back through the blog, you should see other pictures I've
taken looking off the deck. This is that view. You are correct. You
can't see my neighbors house. We can't see across the street in the
front either.

Enjoy! (I don't think we are leaving the house today)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

New Christmas Traditions

Since I'm one of the new guys on the floor, I don't understand the history behind my office's holiday traditions.

One of my goals for the Las Vegas trip was to find a "White Elephant" present for the floor's office party. I had no idea what this involved, so I had to look it up...and I'll be honest, I still didn't get it.

Today was our party. When we were in Las Vegas, at M&M World (Highly recommend this), they ran a special that if you spent $45 you got a free M&M dispenser with one of the color characters on top - works like a bubble gum machine. I know, it was free, but we bought enough to get 2 more...I wanted one so I figured others would as well.

All in all, I think most of the gift were acceptable. Many were fun, some practical and others made you scratch your head.

I present to you, the gift sitting in front of me after the stealing and exchanging was done. I think it was a win...this is kinda cute. You think princesses will like? It sings!

Sometimes I wonder what I've gotten myself into.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Let's pause for station identification

We are back from Las Vegas. This geek was essentially without Internet for almost the entire time we were gone. Seems I could never get the $30 in room wi-fi working (phone call to support lead to no where...calling back). For much of the weekend, the Edge network on my iPhone was also A.W.O.L

Not that it really mattered. OhCountess and I were having a great time. Beers were drank. People were met. More beers were found and drank. Poker was played. Much laughing. Much beer. More laughing. Oh! We found a buffet (like that's hard to do in Vegas). I finished 5th in a private poker tournament for poker bloggers. Over 9 straight hours of poker action. Believe it or not, large multi-table poker tournaments are draining. (I know, how can sitting in a chair for 9 hours be me, brain jello is the result)

The weekend was filled with things I want need to write about.

But first, I need to sleep. As is expected of Las Vegas, I hadn't seen the back of my eyelids for much of the weekend. I'm wiped.

Google Reader has ~500 unread entries. Read or write? I'm choosing to sleep for tonight.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Goodbye Tundra

About to leave on our trip. Not sure I'll miss this weather.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas Traditions: The Kitchen

Probably the most important room during the holidays is the kitchen.

I love food. I love cooking food and I really love eating food. Probably why this site exists.

This room gets the royal treatment every holidays season. The Santa bowel bowl you see in the center of the island? Holiday M&M's...oh boi!

I have no idea where OhCountess got this little bit of holiday cheer, but seriously this is the coolest thing I've ever seen.

Santa's clothes hanging on the line!

I love it!
This plate rack on the wall is one of my wife's most brilliant decorating touches.

Each holiday, season or when ever she wants a change, all she does is changes the plates. OMG! How simple but how powerful. 

I never have to change out the rack, but she can change out the plates with ease.

I love my wife.

The corner where our sink is doesn't avoid the touch of Christmas cheer.

We have another string of Santa's clothes drying. This plate rack is always cool.

I'm surprise, but at first, people don't always know what it is.

(It's a snowman...shh)

Last, as we head to the mud room, We have this one last sign.

Bah! Hum Bug!

Happy Holidays!

Tomorrow, we are heading to Vegas. I'm sure I'll be sending posts from my phone until we are settled (like you really get settled in Vegas).

Stay warm!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Christmas Traditions: Part 2

When we last talked, the topic was decorating the tree. Today, the topic is short and sweet.

Tismee2 over at Squared Off, has asked (more then once) to see more of the inside of our house. This is entryway right next to my office.

OhCountess is a fabulous decorator! Every where you turn in our home, she's got the details covered.

The Santa rug is one of my favorites. I just love crossing it to get to my desk.

So, my faithful readers, what are some of your decorating traditions? Have you started yet? When are you getting your pictures posted?

As OhPrincess2 likes to say, "I love it when we get our Christmas on!"

Monday, December 08, 2008

Christmas Traditions

I'm gonna catch you up on our holiday traditions before they pass me by, I swear. Tismee2, thanks for the idea!

When last we talked about the holidays at our house I showed you a bit of the outside of the house. Whew! So glad I got that done. We are about to get 10 inches of snow. Well, at least that's what the weatherman said. We'll see.

This past weekend, we finally got the inside of the house done. Today, I'm gonna share the decorating of the tree.

The decorating of the tree is a HUGE deal in our house. OhPrincess2 has cried herself to sleep a couple of times wanting to decorate the tree.

2 weeks ago, we got the tree up and the boxes with all the ornaments located. Some how, I always figure this should be an easier process, but it never is. Our house gets the full Christmas treatment. There is very little missed. That ends up being a lot of boxes. No wonder my back hurts?

Each year, one of the girls gets to put the topper on the tree. I try to make sure it's not the same girl two years in a row...and they remember who it was. This year it was OhPrincess1's turn. This is the second year on this tree, you'd think by now we'd remember that the topper is too tall...hmm.

Probably my favorite part of decorating the tree is that it truly is family time. We do it as a team. The TV is turned off and the Christmas music is turned on. Everyone has a special ornament that they get to hang and then it's off to the races.

When it's all done, the soft glow of the lights just warms the room.

OhCountess even got a few presents wrapped. It really starts to feel like Christmas with this part done.

One tradition that we've kept since our first Christmas as husband and wife is that this ornament is the first one on the tree. To us, this symbolizes the beginnings of our family. Two kids fell in love and created a home. This ornament started it all.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Have you seen my marbles?

Lately I've been struggling. I've been stuggling to find time to write. I'm only now catching up on everyone's blogs. Google Reader hasn't even come close to 0 unread items in WEEKS.

It might be that I'm in the final months of my 30's. Maybe it's the coming of winter. I wouldn't discount the kids have finaly got me to crack, but I'm making a leap into the unknown and I'm taking the Mrs. with me.

Thursday afternoon, OhCountess and I are boarding an airplane whose final destination is Las Vegas, NV.

We've gone to Vegas before, but this time is much different. 

As some of you know, I play a bit of poker in my free time.  I chronicle my pokering adventures in another blog called OhCaptain Poker.  Yeah, yeah. I know. 2 blogs. I'm crazy. Actually, don't forget the photography blog and the blog chronicling my efforts to get into smaller jeans.

So what am I babbling about? You know how those crazy mommy/ladies have that big BlogHer thing that they babble on and on about? Well, poker bloggers aren't nearly that organized. Heck, daddy/guy bloggers aren't that organized.

Next weekend, poker bloggers are gathering, by consensus mind you, in Las Vegas for the weekend. Dang! Aren't poker bloggers creative. Gather together in capital of gambling to play poker, laugh, drink and meet face to face, and somehow, I convinced OhCountess that not only it exists but we should go.

I'm about excited as a teenager looking forward to their first after-prom party. I don't know what to expect. Ever never really done anything like this before. Any thing this impulsive.

I've had the pleasure of meeting one of the bloggers in person before. She's a very nice Canuck and I'm looking forward to seeing her again. Our first meeting was only for a few short hours and much of that time was spent with people sleeping.

This coming weekend is going to blur my blogs for a bit. They will converge into a swirling mess of spinning words and photographs. 

The weekend doesn't have much structure. There are no real planned events other then a private poker tournament at the Venetian (OMG! I get to play in a private poker tournament at the Venetian!!!!) This tournament sounds like a blast. All the bloggers playing one big private tournament with the bounties on each player being something that they brought that represents them and where they are from. I'm thinking I will bring a framed copy of the photo...what do you think?

Friday afternoon, I'm joining a group of the more geeky bloggers and heading to the Pinball Museum. Ever wonder how rich you'd be if you hadn't dropped uncounted quarters into those things?

The other highlight of the weekend is that OhCountess and I will be travelling together again, just the two of us.

Stay tuned! We are finishing up our Christmas decorating this weekend. It does really takes us 3 weekends to get it all up which probably explains why we leave it up through most of January as well. There's lots more to come!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Oh Me oh me oh mememe

Who knew? Saw this meme on (and was tagged by) Sean at Instant Donahue. What the heck...I'll even cross post this on two blogs...I'm feelin' saucy...

I'm a Porsche 911!

You have a classic style, but you're up-to-date with the latest technology. You're ambitious, competitive, and you love to win. Performance, precision, and prestige - you're one of the elite,and you know it.

Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

Consider yourself tagged for reading this and I'm one of those tech guys that knows you read don't tick me off!

(just kiddin' - I don't tick off easy :-D )