Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas Vacation

December 23rd was the last day of school for LPMHS, and as is tradition, we walked down from the school (grades 6 & 7 & 8, the HS still has classes) to see a movie at the Palace Theatre for free...


It's a great time, and a cold walk...the 23rd began well below zero, but the kids all had a fun time on the 3/4 mile walk down to the movie...


Main Street was pretty quiet...except for us...


We saw "Despereaux", which was eye-candy-tastic without being very good, but again, the kids had fun with each other and with their teachers...


We came back and had a nice lunch before an afternoon of skating and sledding on the hill and oval just outside the LPMHS...the center window on the 3rd floor (and the one to the left of it) is my classroom...the oval covered with 6th graders is the one that speed-skaters used in both the 1932 and 1980 Olympics...the white framework just past my building is the 1980 rick where the miracle on ice happened...yup, I work in a cool place...


We drove down to NYC to see my family for Christmas after school ended and got in late that night...the next day we went to see the Big Apple Circus...it was a blast!!!


After the BAC, we came home to enjoy the night before Christmas with family...Ben and Brad played a cool Charlie Brown Christmas game that LaLa gave Ben...


We worked together to build a gingerbread house...


Astonishingly, it worked out pretty well, I think that the addition of Brad's boyfriend Lucio might have made the difference this year...


The Christmas Tree was beautiful, hung and decorated with care (and plentiful micro-management as well from what I hear)...


Maggie was exhausted by all of the people in her house...she's used to about 22 hours of sleep each day, and we were cramping her style a bit...


We decorated the table a bit for the Christmas supper that was planned for the next day, and the gingerbread house held a prominent position...


Ben loves reading with his Anti-Sarah...


The tree had a respectable pile of presents underneath it, which was added to by Santa later that night...


Gail and Ben read "The Night Before Christmas" with the assembled group...I love it, and get all mushy while mumbling the words under my breath...


The next morning, we opened presents at the crack of 9:15, when Brad and Sarah arrived...we were happy to wait until the family was together, and Ben is old enough to learn some patience (certainly more than I had at 6)...

In the picture above, Fuz is holding some of his coolest presents...emergency socks and underwear...just add water...honestly, he tested the underwear...they poof out to be a full-sized pair of boxers, albeit wet ones...


Ben's Great-Grandmother (almost 99 years old) came for the supper and enjoyed some time with Ben...he picked out the owl in her lap when we visited the Syracuse Zoo, and was showing off an ornament that he made in school...


She loved his tie...yellow labradors with antlers...he likes to dress up for family get-togethers...not one of my genetic gifts to him, but grandma loves it...I shaved and wore dress pants (which is more than I do for almost anyone on Earth...I love my Grandma!)...


They had a great time talking together before and after the supper...


The main course for the Christmas supper was a massive tenderloin that was expertly wrapped in bacon by Gail (TMI warning: this is coincidentally a long time wish of mine in general, and also makes up the majority of my funeral directives)...


Brad and Ben both got Cat-a-pults for Christmas, and spent some time before and after supper flinging tiny cats around the apartment with these handheld launchers...


One of my favorite gifts came from my dear sister, and is a pair of mugs with a picture of a brain and the legend, "i love you more than zombies love brains"...she's just swell!


Ben got a bunch of lego from Santa, and has been working his way through them like it was his job ever since...this was a Mars Mission Vehicle, that was really cool once assembled...

Muz and D and Ben headed out to Connecticut the day after Christmas and Gail and I remained for a few days to enjoy the city and some fancy restaurants and sleeping in and reading and such...it was a delight, although we did miss Ben...


On Sunday (12/28), I headed down to McSorley's Old Ale House, an ancient pub that's been serving jaded New Yorkers tiny beers sold in pairs since 1854...it's a fun place, which is a good thing, because I got there before the people I was meeting arrived, and had to drink 4 of the beers (2 light, 2 dark...I'm an equal opportunity drinker) before they arrived...


They heat the place with a coal stove in the middle of the room, and keep the menu as simple as the beers (light or dark, only their beer, nothing else but cans of soda, just try to order a tartini or sea-urchin and 3-fruit chutney tartlet in here)...


I was meeting some friends from Zombie Squad, specifically the newly formed New York chapter of Zombie Squad, and along with Derek and Melissa, a couple of new faces came along to add to our numbers...now if we can just convince them all to come to the winter camping trip in February...


That night, after an awesome supper with Gail at a spectacular steak place, we came back to the apartment to help make cookies for my sister Sarah's birthday party the following evening...she had the brilliant plan of having a cookie-decorating party, which turned out to be all kinds of fun...


Cynthia was the mistress of dough-rolling and cookie cutting...the rest of us mostly danced and drank and carried hot things to and fro...there were lots of tiny cookies cut in the beginning of the evening and lots of ginormous cookies cut towards the end of the evening...I'm not judging, simply reporting...


The party itself was a blast, with about 20 people coming to the apartment to help Sarah celebrate her 50th birthday (...really 38th...), a good time was had by all...above you can see Sarah and her girlfriend Wendy...


Gail and I holding the cookie of LOVE...


Once we got started, it was serious business for hours...


Sarah lived the part of her cookies...here you can see her assimilating the crabiness necessary to decorate a crab cookie...she's honestly like the Marlon Brando of cookie-decorating...


There were dozens (hundreds?) of clever and funny and pretty cookies made that night...


Gail made the clever and intricately scribed "Happy Birthday" heart, and I made the zombie gingerbread man...everyone brought something unique to the party, I brought a disturbed quiet and awkward glances...(sorry Sarah)...it was a really fun time for everyone...


The morning after the party, Gail and I headed out to CT to join Muz and D and Ben, and partake of Ben's favorite dining experience in the world...FUJI...a hibachi restaurant where they cook the food in front of you, set things on fire, launch food and booze into peoples' mouths, and offer strange Japanese soda served with glass marbles in it...we had a great time...

It has been a great vacation, and (not but, and) we're ready to head home tomorrow to fetch the hounds from the kennel and rejoin our lives in Lake Clear, already in progress...

Happy New Year everyone!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Early Morning on a snowy day

We all got up early this morning and had a nice chunk of family time before I had to leave for work (at 6:30)...we made coffee (and herbal tea for Ben) and started a fire in the upstairs fireplace, and sat listening to Gail read a cool Ben-book that we're all enjoying...


Gail and Ben and Moe (the rat) on the couch...


When I joined the couch-crew, Cedar also decided to pile on...he is getting more and more cuddly the older that he gets...and he was still a bit wet and cold from the new-fallen snow outside (we got about 4" overnight)...

It was a really nice morning, and it was tough to hit the road when it was time for work...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mid-December

We're deep in the middle of December, and the weather is yo-yo-ing...warm and cold, wet and dry...the house is feeling festive, thanks to Gail...Penny continues to grow into a lovely choco-lab...Ben is excited about heading down to NYC later in the month...



Ben likes watching the fire in our upstairs fireplace...

Yesterday was the Lake Clear School Holiday Program, with shows at 10am and 1pm (I went to the 10am show, and Gail went to both shows)...



The little school (K-3) only has about 45 kids, so they could all fit up on the risers for the group songs at the end...



Ben's class did a couple of great songs...


He even got to introduce one of them, along with his friends Brennan and David...


The building-principal, Mr. Dora, sang a song with the 2nd graders...


Although I tried to keep an open mind, I'm something of a traditionalist when it comes to Elementary School Christmas shows, and the "Elfis" show didn't entirely work for me, despite the flawless performance and cuteness of the entire 3rd grade...


The group numbers at the end were wonderful, seeing all of the kids in the school sing some holiday classics...and poke each other...and wave at parents...I almost injured myself with my smiling...


video

Here is a video of the Lake Clear Elementary School students singing, "Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer".