another misAdventure

"We are all of us living in the shadow of Manhattan."

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Time Tickers

Everyone seems to want to sell me watches now, even more than they want to sell me Viagra. None of them seem to have any grasp of English.

OK, on to the next part of the holiday posts. As we last left off, we'd just arrived at my mom's house.

Day 2 (Fri, Dec 23): Did some errands for my mom in the morning, including grocery shopping. In the afternoon I went shopping in Omaha with Matt and Kalen while Kathy tried to pick up some baking tips from her grandma and Ryan did whatever Ryan was doing (mostly playing on his GBA, I think). Kalen had a particular thing she was shopping for, I had gifts for several people I wanted to try to find, while Matt was mainly along for something to do.

We started in what I think of as the middle of Omaha (Dodge, west of 72nd, though I'm probably off geographically). The store Kalen had an address for apparently had closed, so that failed. Got some shirts for Bob, DVDs for Matt and Ellen (whether I really pulled off the sleight of hand to avoid Matt seeing his Battlestar Galactica and Serenity DVDs I don't know, though he claims he didn't know). Went further west to the Westroads and failed to find Mom's electronic Bible, or anything else at the bookstore. I don't even remember what else we went in there for. Then we went to Maple and way-out-west to find the second store Kalen had listed. That store was open, but didn't have what she wanted. Went to the Borders out there and got some books for Mom and a gift card for Ellen. Got one book for Kalen so she'd have some gift to unwrap, but failed to remember anything Kathy wanted (I forgot to bring the lists I'd printed), so I decided she would just get a check. Still failed to find the electronic Bible for Mom, and I couldn't figure out who carried it that I could find in Omaha. Tried for that a couple more times back around 72nd and Dodge (and got the wrong network adapter for her Tivo in the process). Finally, went down to the Old Market area for one more shot at a store for Kalen's goal. Once again, the store was there but she couldn't find the exact thing she wanted. Finally, nearing 6pm, we headed back to MV for dinner.

I called Ellen after dinner, and she was out shopping. I let her know that I was unable to get the electronic bible, and Kalen could tell me exactly where she'd seen one near Fox Valley. Shortly later, Ellen callen back and reported success, so that bit was taken care of. Yay!

Day 3 (Sat, Dec 24): A little shopping in town in Missouri Valley, gift wrapping (badly), wrote checks for the kids (and for Bob, but that was for baseball tickets, not Christmas). For dinner we went over to Beth's house to visit Ellen's family (though Ellen wasn't yet with us, she was working at the time). We had chili and potato soup over there, as is traditional for Christmas Eve at their house. After dinner we played the DVD version of "Family Feud" - basically Tjarks's vs. Briggs's (I think the only exceptions were Brian's girlfriend on the Briggs team while we had, I think, one of our nephews - Emery maybe?). Many people thought this was fun, but I wasn't crazy about it because the answers on the DVD were grouped oddly, so things we though should be grouped wound up as separate answers. There was also a game of Munchkin going on at some time in there, which would have had Matt, Ryan, Daniel, and probably Kalen and/or Kathy and/or Emery, so I'm sure I'm mixing up when these games were happening and who they were happening to. We went back to my mom's house at about 10pm, getting there just after Bob got in.

Day 4 (Christmas Day): I set my alarm early so I could help mom get the turkey ready on on to cook. That accomplished, I went to pick up Ellen from airport. She got in just after 11am, and we were back at mom's place by noon. Since that didn't take long and the food was ahead of schedule, we were able to have a great Christmas dinner at about 1:00 rather than closer to 2:00. We opened gifts after dinner and then relaxed for a while. Later in the evening, we went back over to Beth's for some leftovers and to visit with Ellen's family and swap gifts there. Some people went to play Family Feud again (which would up boys vs. girls), but I'd had enough of that so I stayed downstairs with Ellen and her mom, Elaine. Elaine got a dice game (Bunko) for Christmas from someone, so the three of us wound up going through a game of that.

Day 5 (Mon, Dec 26): Lazy day after Christmas. We put together a turkey casserole for lunch, and then helped pack up stuff for Bob to take back home as he left that afternoon. Monday evening we did something else that has been traditional when we get over to Iowa, everyone in Ellen's family went out for dinner (because these other times listed above usually had people going in and out and were not as organized -- this was the organized get together). We drove down to Council Bluffs to Famous Dave's, and had 20 around the table. That's six from our family (me, Ellen, Kalen, Kathy, Matt, Ryan), four from Ellen's sister Beth's family (Beth, Don, and their kids Brian and Rachel), five from Ellen's brother Lyle's family (Lyle, Debbie, and their boys Emery, Daniel, and Kaleb), Ellen's mom Elaine, Brian's girlfriend (who's name I'm blanking on), Rachel's boyfriend Carlos, and Carlos's parents.

Of course, with a group of 20 it's a rule that someone's order get's screwed up. What's the rule, >= 8 people? Anyway, they had the wrong sides for my meal and Brian's, and Brian's was late as was Carlos's mom's (IIRC). So, we wound up with extra sides as they replaced the mistaken ones. Kathy managed to put together a meal of side dishes, even though Famous Dave's isn't exactly famous for being vegetarian-friendly.

Day 6 (Tue, Dec 27): Hmm, I can't remember what we did on Tuesday. Not a lot. Got things packed and ready to go home. I think this is the day that I tried to install the wireless network connector on Mom's Tivo, and discovered that while I had gotten a supported model, it was only supported on an earlier revision, and Tivo just refused to talk to the adapter. So, that's an issue to resolve another day.

Day 7 (Wed, Dec 28): Drove back to Aurora. Nothing exciting here, as we pretty much drove straight through other than stopping for lunch at Newton. I called the other car (caravan of two cars, mine and Kalen's) and gave them a choice for lunch: Perkin's or Country Kitchen. Ellen and Ryan (in my car) chose Country Kitchen, while Matt and Kathy (in the other car) accused me of not really giving them a choice, that they may as well be the same restaurant (though they had no problem with stopping at one).

So, that was Christmas vacation in Iowa with the family. The rest of the vacation falls under the category "Dungeons and Dragons", which I'll deal with tomorrow.


  • Rolex knock-offs in particular, yeah -- since sometime in November I don't believe I've ever had so many people presume I was looking for a watch. It appears to have tapered off, being overtaken by overtures from prospective Russian brides named Svetlana.

    As for the holidays, that's entirely too much traveling and visiting for me, probably enough to squelch my envy of being able to take that much of a block of time off. Sometimes I think my ideal vacation would be a solid week off in which on two to three of the consecutive days in the middle of it I'm sent to solitary.

    Well, let's make that a second choice. The ideal vacation is one I don't have to come back from, though I suppose that eliminates itself from the "vacation" category...

    Your shopping frenzy on the 23rd and into the 24th almost managed to make me feel as if I was better prepared than I'd thought this year. 2005 was too busy, though; I was entriely too close to the holiday without a single present bought.

    Chili and potato soup as traditional fare for Christmas Eve is an interesting choice. Is that a longstanding tradition? Out in this part of the country at least the only traditional Christmas Eve meals I've kept running across involve seafood, which I've seen as particularly strong, long-standing traditions among Polish and Italian families in particular. In both cases it's apparently due to Roman Catholic traditions, though I don't recall us having any such Christmas Eve preference.

    By Blogger MJ Norton, at 1/20/2006 10:08 AM  

  • The chili and the potato soup (to be clear, that's two choices, not one recipe) isn't a regional or cultural thing, it's just what Ellen's family has settled on as convenience as much as anything. I don't know/recall how far back that goes, Ellen will have to remind me. I think we used to have this back in her parents' house on Christmas eve and so maybe it goes back further in her childhood. Or maybe I'm just not remembering properly and it's a more recent thing that developed after Beth and Don moved into their present house. Ellen can correct me (or maybe Beth, since I know she lurks here).

    As for the "lot of visiting", mainly it's just bouncing between my mom (and my brother for the time he was there) and Ellen's family (Beth's house, where Ellen's mom lives in the walk-in basement apartment). Those two houses are a total of about five blocks apart. Everyone in Ellen's family mentioned in this post lives in the same town, but we mostly visit with them at Beth's house.

    My shopping frenzy was nothing like in past years, where I have done pretty much everying in 8 hours on Christmas Eve day. I swear every year I'm going to get ahead of it in the next year (and recently, that I'm going to do all the shopping online a few weeks earlyi). I never manage to keep to that, though.

    By Blogger Tim Tjarks, at 1/20/2006 11:30 AM  

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