Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas is Coming!

Lovely service at church today. In keeping with this year's theme of "To heck with Advent, let's just cut straight to the Christmas carols!" we sang "Good Christian Men Rejoice," which I particularly like, as well as "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming," which is also lovely but far, far beyond the capabilities of our congregation. Our priest's wife played the flute, coffee hour was excellent -- it was very nice!

And on the way home we went to Walmart to "pick up a few things." Sigh. We needed to go, we got what we went in for but... well... at any rate we shouldn't have to go there again until after Christmas, and That is a blessing!

I did a bit of baking in the afternoon and then popped over to my parents' to drop off some cookies. And admire their tree! Isn't it pretty? The same ornaments they've been decorating with all my life -- I love that tree. 

And I got to have a peek at my mom's Christmas present! An exercise bike!

Actually, I got to take it for a spin, and it really is quite the amazing little machine! Very quiet and comfortable, and the little screen up front keeps you posted on how fast your heart is beating ("frantic"), how many calories you've used ("laughable"), and how fast you are zipping along ("not very"). It gets all that from sensors in the hand grips, I am told.

And now that we are on holiday, Travis is finally Building His New Computer!

Very exciting, but also, given the cost of the components, rather nerve wracking. For Travis mostly, but for the rest of us as well. Cross your fingers for him and send good wishes, if you are so inclined. It will be a great relief when he has the operating system installed and it all actually Works!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Movie Day!

December 17th! The Battle of Five Armies! 

We drove a half hour to the next town over so that we could see the movie in 2D at 1:00. The theater was great -- there might have been twenty other people there, and it is a good sized theater -- but after sitting through all the ads and previews, when they finally started the movie, it was in 3D! The whole theater (all twenty-four or so of us!) erupted in groans and complaints. Mass exodus to the lobby, where the management offered an "Oops, there was a mix-up and 3D is all we have today!" They offered passes to come back another day, or 3D glasses if we wanted to stay and watch it. We decided to stay. It took me about ten minutes to get accustomed to the glasses (so the destruction of Laketown was a bit of a bust for me), but then I got used to them and did okay. Still not my preference, but I was able to enjoy the rest of the movie. 

And I did enjoy it very much. Plenty of silly bits, just as in the earlier installments, but also wonderful stuff. References to LoTR, elaborations on things Tolkien left vague (the dragon sickness, the White Council and the Necromancer, etc.), and, of course, plenty that Tolkien almost certainly never imagined. It was great. But Jackson didn't change the ending. And I'd have been outraged if he had, but it still made me sad. I knew it would. And now we have no more Middle Earth movies to look forward to. Except that we do! Next December we will get the Extended Edition version of the Battle of Five Armies, and we'll get to see it again with the deleted scenes added! And it won't be in 3D! 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Happy Saturnalia!

Our Latin club held its second annual Saturnalia party on Friday night. A bit early, according to Wikipedia, but the Romans were known for their practicality, and it was practical to have the party when our club leader was in town! 

Travis went as Dionysus/Bacchus, god of wine and some other stuff, and Katie as Zeus/Jupiter. Travis's dolphin is from the story where Dionysus is kidnapped by sailors. The sailors plan to sell him into slavery, but instead he takes over the ship and the sailors all jump overboard, where they are turned into dolphins. Apparently he was feeling unusually kindly that day.

Here Zeus is chatting with some of the goddesses.

 And here are Dionysus, a couple of Romans, and a barbarian.

A game involving balloons...

and one with toilet paper.

And this one, which required stacking cup skills. And here we've been wasting our time practicing declining pronouns!

Travis was quite good at this one. Pantyhose are pulled over the contestant's head, with an orange in one of the toes, turning the contestant into an elephant (the connection being Hannibal. and yes, we do know he was Carthaginian, not Roman.). The elephant then does his/her best to flatten all the Solo cups. It actually reminded me more of the attack of the oliphaunts in Lord of the Rings, but I'm sure Hannibal would have been pleased to have Travis on his team, as an oliphaunt or an elephant.

And this game had one person rolling dice, trying for doubles, while another person struggled into a Julius Caesar costume. If Caesar made it into costume and stabbed himself/herself, while crying "Et tu, Brute?" before the dice roller got doubles, he/she "won" and was out (this last bit was due to the disposition of the first person "up," who said that she would feel she had won if she was allowed to leave the game. Not one of mine, obviously.).

Finally, the gift exchange, in which popular gifts could be "stolen." Travis was pleased to end up with the turkey jerky and Rabbid he brought, but the gift Katie brought, the Popper Pig, was the favorite.

If you'd seen it in action, foam balls shooting at high speed from its snout, you would wonder how you'd managed so long without one of these!

So, that was fun.

And I didn't get any pictures of the Christmas Recipe Exchange party at the library on Thursday, but Katie and some of the other young library volunteers helped put it on, and Travis and I got to attend (we didn't prepare food or bring recipes, but she brought enough to cover for us!). It was really nice, and I met some friendly people and learned that the library does have a book discussion club after all! They are reading Life of Pi for January, which hasn't been high on my list, but which I'm happy to read if it means I can join a book group! I still haven't found any activities for Travis, but he is feeling cheerful because his most recent game, involving racing llamas, showed up, briefly, in a PewdiePie video.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Finding Some Holiday Spirit

The Christmas season snuck up on us while we were preoccupied with other things, but today our holiday mood got a jump start! Church was lovely -- beautiful music (though our priest is going soft and has us singing Christmas hymns during Advent) and good fellowship -- and afterwards the kind couple who have given us our tree for the past couple years invited us to stop by their farm after church and choose one for this year. Katie picked it, and it is a beauty. When we got home Katie helped me wrap up the cookies and candy we've made to send out (and Ed wasn't sorry to have her take over for him in that!). My dad came over while we were wrapping, to go over the latest findings in this year's edition of the Quest for the Perfect Place to Live (They want to move, and we do too, especially after Saturday's discovery that the Games Club which Travis has been looking forward to joining for the last couple months is really a Dungeons & Dragons club and not, as we'd thought, a computer game designing club. Big disappointment there! Unfortunately, finding a place that both families love and that fits our budget is not easy. We seem to be reaching the "despair" stage, at which my dad announces he will move to Costa Rica and play Pictionary with the monkeys.) 

Then we went to the Community Christmas Concert, which was just what I needed! All the songs were beautiful, and ... Tradition!

And the kids trimmed the tree! Well, Ed did the lights, and Katie did almost all the decorating (Travis really only came in to give me a photo opportunity -- it looks so much more festive with both of them!). But the important thing is that I didn't have to do any of it! (I made the hot cocoa, which is a contribution of sorts!)

So there we are -- chock full of holiday cheer! And, in the "adding to the festive mood" column, I should also note that Ed's dad and his brother, while both still in the hospital, are both doing well! His father is said to be walking again, which he hasn't done in years, and we hear that they are both expected to be released fairly soon!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Katie Cooks

Katie has decided that she wants to be on the Masterchef cooking show. She made calzones, a salad, and chocolate icebox pudding, and Travis put together a video for her. She also filled out an application on which she claimed that her mother has a "passion for cooking" (This is supposed to have encouraged her in her love of cooking. To be fair, she needed to fill in two blanks with the names of "relatives with a passion for cooking.") I signed the thing, despite her outrageous untruth. It was a very nice dinner!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

We had a lovely day here! The usual, which means the kids and Ed watched the Macy's Parade (and they called me in to see the Sesame Street float and KISS), Ed cooked the World's Best Turkey, my parents came over bearing pies, mushrooms, beans, and champagne, and we all ate too much and were silly.  Wouldn't have minded a few more degrees of warmth, but otherwise the day was perfect!

It was good!

Then after dinner we snuggled on the couches and watched The Desolation of Smaug (the kids each kicked in some money and we splurged for the extended edition!). My parents hadn't seen it before, and they were astonished at Peter Jackson's creativity. We watched it last night as well, but Katie and I are shameless fans and Travis was willing to watch it most of the way through again, to be friendly.

And then my parents went home and I cleaned up some rough edges on the pecan pie while listening to Alice's Restaurant. Definitely feeling thankful this evening.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Reading with Cat

It's been cold. When I settle on the couch to read (Hanawalt's The Middle Ages, in case you are curious. The odd looking image under my fingers is a bookmark, which I use to help myself focus. Focusing on Hanawalt while Katie chatters about what recipes she might prepare for her application to Master Chef Junior requires all my powers. And a bookmark.), Emma obligingly settles on my lap to keep me warm. Unfortunately, she insists on being on top of my arms. Both of them. And she is firmly convinced that she Must be pinning my arms down. This makes holding a book difficult. Emma is not concerned.

Katie kindly took this aerial view, just to fully illustrate the problem. And yes. That is a Lot of cat. (But she produces a vast amount of lovely warmth.)