Thursday, December 25, 2003

Merry Christmas!

Two quick scenes, before I tell you about our holiday.

1) There was a discussion recently on a board of women living overseas (primarily in Asia) about how many Asians feel no qualms about taking photos of strangers' kids. Several people chimed in on how their kids had either been photographed alone or with strangers in the picture. I could have commented on how people tend to trip on themselves to stare when we're out in public but that no, no one had ever stopped to take a picture. Well. Yesterday on Christmas Eve we needed to pick up some last minute items from the grocery, so we went to Powerplant Mall and took a snack break with some pretzels. Sitting there, minding our own business and a young Japanese woman appraoches our table. You guessed it, she asked if she could get have one of us take her picture with OUR children. It actually happened and we were too flabbergasted to say anything but "uh... ok" and snapped away. Our kids will now be stars on a page in some strangers photo album.

2) Ian wanted to buy the new TIME with Saddam on the cover. There's an article in there on the Gnostic Gospels that was of interest to us, but when we found the magazine on the shelf, the girls said almost in chorus "It's Hagrid!"

So, you're either shaking your head or chuckling mildly. Either way, here's all about our Christmas.
The night before Christmas Eve we took the kids out for a night time drive to see the lights in our neighborhood. We were supposed to go caroling with Ryan and Laura but with 3 of us having coughs it didn't seem like a wise idea, but hopefully next year. I made snickerdoodles which didn't turn out right and brownies that are OK. I should quit trying to do this cooking stuff. Even straight arrow recipes just don't work right for me. After nearly 7+ years of trying, I accept that I can not cook. Or bake. I don't understand how foods cook or what the proper order in creating foods is. Unless it's something directly out of a jar I am completely handicapped. It's liberating to understand and accept that.
But there is hope. One of my gifts was Alton Brown's _Heat + Food = Cooking_, and perhaps he can enlighten my clouded brain on the matter. The kids, bless their hearts, say that I am a great cook. Well, at least the best cook in the house. That's something, even though Ian doesn't cook and the kids aren't allowed. I guess it's OK to be first in an area that no one else is competing in. Right? Oh, and before anyone gets the idea that Ian is trying to tell me something (which he probably is but that's beside the point), I had put this book in our amazon cart many many months ago. I've known I need help for a long time. I wonder how much cooking classes for dummies cost.
Back to the holiday. Christmas Eve morning, and we were awoken by the sounds of a very miserable and furnace temperature Nicholas at 4 a.m. Instant thoughts were of the flu, but now that we're into day 2 and his fever seems mostly gone I'm guessing it was a 24 bout of a nonspecific virus. What I've read about the rabies vaccine doesn't lead me to believe that fever is a common side effect. Either way, it seems to be done and Nicholas was able to enjoy his gifts and play at the playground this morning.
After our trip to the mall on Wednesday morning (read above), we prepared for the arrival of Laura and Ryan. The plan was to have grilled burgers, french fries, corn on the cob, macaroni salad, fruit salad and enough desserts to choke a horse.
Without matchlight briquets, the grilling was off to a bad start. First Ian tried to start the charcoal as it was. No go. So he and Ryan stopped at Rustans to get lighter fluid. Three bottles of lighter fluid later and still no flame, we bagged it and broiled the burgers in the oven. The corn that had begun in the microwave had been forgotten half way through and when the burgers were done, they were still uncooked. Thankfully the macaroni salad I'd done earlier in the day so we did have something as a side. With the oven busy with meat, the french fries were put aside and we substituted chips. And though there had been thoughts of fruit salad, seedless grapes are what we ate. The burgers were good. The macaroni salad was passable. The grapes and chips were a hit. Thankfully with Laura's background in making extra yummy goodies, dessert was covered with an assortment of homemade cookies, chocolates, fudge and minicheesecakes. She said that they'd used 10 pounds of sugar and I don't doubt her one bit. Yum.
Then the debate began. It was 7:30 and Mass was at 10:30. Oh you silly people, you. Did you really think that Midnight Mass would be at -midnight-?? Pshaw. So, it would take 15-20 minutes to get the kids in bed. Then we'd have to get them up around 10 to get ready if we wanted to get there just in time. At most, they would have about 2 hours to sleep. Would that work for or against us, we wouldn't know. Jonathon was being cranky, so he was easy. With no nap during the day one was definitely called for now. At about 7:45, Nicholas said he was tired and wanted to go to sleep. OK, that was 2. Rebecca was tired but didn't want to go to her room, so she curled up on a chair and fell asleep. Hmm, that was easier than I anticipated. Katherine was the only kid awake and seemed determined to stay that way, so we dusted off Scrabble and had a game with Katherine and I forming a team.
Ryan and Ian have been playing chess on-line for weeks now at RedHotPawn, and Ian wins more games than not. That was not the case here and it became quite evident as Ryan started rattling off acceptable 2 letter words that sounded more like Tagalog than acceptable English. And even though Ryan's first attempt at a word ended with forfeiting his turn (for future reference, sog is not a word, verb or otherwise), the game ended with everyone within 6 points of the lead. Katherine did well for her age, coming up with plenty of words and even some places to put them.
Katherine was winding down when Scrabble ended, but it was time to go to church. Ryan and Laura are Mormon but had expressed an interest in attending Midnight Mass. They made the mistake of asking us what to expect and we honestly couldn't say. Previously Ian was talking them out of the idea since we've been less than impressed with the services at our church. But we figured, what's one more adventure? Unfortunately we didn't get out of the house until 10:20 and while there was talk about how this was a Catholic country and therefore attendance shouldn't be too different from a regular Sunday, it quickly became apparent that we would be standing through Mass. In the back. With hordes of others. Thankfully the service was short at just over an hour and had plenty of Christmas carols thrown in. Even better, the collections were being donated directly to relief efforts for the Leyte landslides. Unfortunately, the string ensemble from the Philippine Philharmonic and choir were barely audible, the soloist/cantor would drop out midway through songs, and the director chose some musical versions of prayers that I'm unaccustomed to singing. I was standing next to Ryan and singing what I could between coughing fits, but Ryan has a lovely tenor voice. He'd be a good addition to Saint Michaels.
Back home after our blessing from the priest, the kids finally got their second wind. It was time for hot chocolate and if we could stand it, presents. That's a post for later.
This morning Jonathon was up too early with everyone awake by 8 and revived enough to play. Ian took the kids to the playground, but for Katherine who was too tired to behave properly. Brunch was a baked french toast casserole (again, passable but not great) and scrambled eggs. Now, it's rest time as we're all really too tired to do much else. Finding Nemo and SW:ANH have kept the kids occupied, at least those who have managed to stay awake (*ahem* Ian). But now it's time to get going.
At 4 p.m. today we're meeting Dr. Judy to have the 2nd rabies vaccine administered to Jonathon. Wish us luck.
Oh, and Merry Christmas :)

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