Wednesday, December 27, 2006

No place like home for the Holidays

First off some general comments of mine, this was the first Christmas since moving to Michigan over five years ago that we did not have a White Christmas. I really missed that. In fact, yesterday was the first day in two and a half weeks that the temperature was not above 40 here! This is not common at all!

I also noticed this year there were many less houses decorated for the holidays. Christmas since the divorce has always been very difficult for me, so, external decorating of my house was just not going to happen though I did do some indoors for the kids, particularly Danielle. Compared to previous years I spent little on the X and just got her a funny card. No need to bother her or myself with one professing love, etc. She gets nothing out of that and it only makes me melancholy (though I must admit I did pick up such a card but common sense prevailed, so it sits now unused in an envelope with some other Christmas cards that I may use next year. Anyway, I will admit that I was not as down by Christmas this year as I was the last two. ANYWAY on to the Holiday weekend recap - Working until 6PM Saturday night, headed home to cheerful collapse on couch for some holiday shows; I was so beat I had a festive dinner of Ice Tea and Bar-be-que potato chips since I did not feel like going to the store!

Christmas Eve Day was fun...I got up a bit before 7 so I could go do the shopping for Christmas dinner tomorrow. My idea of being there right when Forest Hills foods opened was a good one, as there were not many people in the store. I was in and out in under and hour with everything on my list except fresh basil for the sauce.

I did some work from home, wrapped gifts for X and extra gifts for kids. Headed over to X's at 5PM with 3 out of 4 gifts. Mom and Dad arrived shortly thereafter and we headed off to Minados for Chinese buffet. We arrived back at Deb's and kids opened Christmas eve gifts. Then Mom, Dad, X, Danielle and I watched March of the Penguins off of DVD which was the Christmas eve gift the X had chosen. Headed home after that and checked out some additional holiday fare off of the many items I had recorded on the PVR over the past couple of weeks.

Christmas Day - I had to be at X's for the 9AM opening of the Christmas gifts (She has a nice big living room and a nice big tree, unlike the pathetic small fiber optic I tree I bought for my house simply to make Danielle happy). This was the first year we did 9AM, it used to be 7:30. Anyway I overslept and rushed like mad to get the pot of pasta sauce on the stove so I could make my 1PM target for dinner. I rushed out of my house at 9AM and as I was turning into the X's street two minutes later my cell phone went off as kids were wondering where I was. I took the usual movies of kids opening their presents and headed home swinging by McDonald's as Christopher really wanted MCD's for breakfast even though we were sure it was closed, I thought I would check. EVERYTHING was closed as I expected.

I got home and cleaned up the house and began making the coating for my Chicken Parmesan, a secret mixture of breadcrumbs and spices. I then zoomed back to the X's house as I had forgotten her heavy frying pan as I only have one, and then arrived back home. I mixed some garlic butter for the garlic bread I was making and left that to steep in its flavors, and then two frying pans full of hot olive oil later I began coating and frying the chicken and putting it in glass Pyrex dishes. When three were filled I put them int he over to bake and began cleaning the incredible mess in the kitchen. The chicken done baking I removed it, added sauce, covered with foil and put it back into bake. I then spilt two loaves of bread and spread one with the garlic butter which was threatening to escape from its tub, and the other with spread seasoned with a bit of extra virgin (how can a virgin be 'extra' virgin....can someone explain that to me?) olive oil as Mom can't eat garlic. about 10 minutes to 1PM I was ready to put in pasta but there was no sign of anyone. Called X who made excuse about being delayed by kids. Mom and Dad arrived about 1:10PM and I added pasta to water, breads to over, and removed chicken. X and kids arrived and X topped chicken with mozzarella cheese after I sprinkled them with Romano. She then zoomed out for 7-11 as Mom and Dad will not drink diet soda and that's all I had in the house plus some diet ice tea. X returned, we all sat down to an excellent dinner. This and the cleanup (which Mom and the X took care of most of) behind us we opened the last of the Christmas gifts. Deb's brother Tim called form Florida and we all took a turn talking to him, then we watched a Christmas episode of Becker off the PVR.

Around 6PM everyone left. I invited Mom and Dad back for left overs tonight, we shall see if they can make it and because the X could not I made her a plate. Chicken Parmesan is her favorite, in fact that is why I made it for dinner. From that point the rest of Christmas day was a real nose dive with the kids gone. The empty house can be bad enough most days but on Christmas it shines.... I called my brother and Dad's houses and left holiday messages. I did hear back from my brother and his wife later. Here it is Wednesday and my Dad still had not called back. He must be at his girlfriends for the holidays. Did not even get a Christmas card from him yet (it's Wednesday today). Watched some TV until bed time and that was it; time for bed.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Happy Holidays to all!

No matter what your religion is I just want to wish everyone and their families and friends the best during this Holiday Season! A little peace and love could do a lot to cure much if not all that is wrong on the earth! How can you have war with someone you love? How can you let people go hungry? How can you hurt someone???

SO..........HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL!!!! Now, for those that DO celebrate Christmas and are into computers as I am, below is a link to an excellent free 3D Santa game. I ended up playing until after midnight last night!

Santa Ride 2 Game

For those who like screensavers, here are some that I have created over the years that are free

Happy Holidays 2000

Happy Holidays 2001

Happy Holidays 2003

Happy Holidays 2005

Take care everyone!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Smack that Penguin!!

From what I have seen on-line the high score for this Smack the Penguin game is 328. As shown below in my lunch time game, I hit 320. See if you can beat that score! It's fun!

A Gourmet Taste Treat!

I have posted about food in the past and some excellent meals I have prepared. This brief post is to communicate a sandwich Gourmet Taste Treat!

Take your favorite sandwich on some really good bread (preferably with assorted meats and cheeses of your choice, NO veggies), and layer on the bottom and the top, along with mayonnaise, your favorite brand of bar-be-que potato chips. Press it tightly together and enjoy! It is awesome! Fantastic! Food for the gods! They should be showing this on the Food Network. I have been doing that for years so I thought I would share that. I will have to do that for lunch today!

And so on, and so forth

It's been weeks since the last post; been busy at work, things of interest (to me anyway!) are listed below:

The X was out of town from the day after thanksgiving until late on December 9th. Since the divorce that is the longest I have had the kids. Of course her trip, work related doing some jobs down in Florida to bring in extra bucks, had to come at the time when we are busiest at work. It was great though having the kids for such a long period! I still so hate being alone in my house when they are not there. Since the bus comes to my house for school 15 minutes earlier than their mom's house I drove them to school every morning. She will be leaving again on the 29th of this month, and a final trip in January.

Scott had his holiday concert and he sand a solo. That as great and we were in the third row so I recorded the whole song and got a good shot of him at the microphone.

I put up my meager Christmas decorations and went over to the x's house with the kids and we got her tree down from the rafters and setup so it could be decorated when she returned.

Since my last post on 12/3 there has been NO more snow, there have days approaching 60, with average temps in the 40 range during the day and above. A very strange December but one that will be easy on the pocketbook for heating costs! Right now it is still doubtful that we will have a white Christmas, something I thought here in Michigan we could always count on. Scott was mentioning that the other night that he wished there would be snow for Christmas.

The X's brother, who had come out to Michigan over a year ago left for Florida when he is moving with a friend he met in Chicago. At last check the were still jobless and looking for an apartment.

I was sick for over the week with flu-like symptoms. Scott and Chris missed 4 and three days of school with assorted ills and Danielle and Scott missed a day last week with sore throats.

Did 99% of my Christmas shopping on line....that was fun, and no crowds to contend with! I really find myself missing my family back home in New Jersey all the more around this time of year.

In any event, everyone have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The weekend so far.

Well, we did get snow, enough to make things icy and a real pain in the rear on Friday. After getting home from work I used the snow blower. Saturday was better; no snow and sunny for parts of the day; after we picked Scott up in town from his Art class we headed to Meijer's and got Danielle and new bedspread as she had mentioned she was too cool at night. We had lunch at MCD's returned home, and after a bit headed over to the X's house where Chris has to snow blow and Scott had to change the Guinea pigs cage. Well, we got there and realized we did not bring the litter from my house were it was for speedy, Danielle's dwarf she and I snagged that and then headed back there. I was amused to see my 18 year old snow blowing with the discharge cute pointing.....directly in front of the snow blower. I got out and mentioned this and he explained he could not figure out how to turn it to the left or right, and he had tried. This is my son whose math knowledge drawfs mostly everyone...even some teachers. I turned the crank the did this and refrained from any additional comments. Danielle and I headed back here and Chris and Scott soon arrived.

I played with Windows Vista (still can't use it 100% as my primary desktop) and the kids played video games and such. Chris had two friends over and they did not leave until 7PM when of course the three kids cornered me that they were hungry. I ordered pizza and since delivery time was up to 90 minutes Chris and I headed over (after mapping the route as I had never been there) and picked it up. We ran into Mom and Dad (the X's folks) awaiting a table as they were staying to eat. We snagged the pizza, came home, ate, watched TV, played games, etc.

Sunday morning brings more snow...looks like this evening I'll be snow blowing again....the whole week is supposed to be cold and snow on and off. Joy! Hard to believe last Wednesday and a few days before it was in the 60's.

Friday, December 01, 2006

SO, what's happening these days?

What has happened since the last blog post.....well.....of noteworthiness are the following (and some pictures may be posted for some of these events)

Boys got their Wii system
X headed to Florida for 15 days
Chris' 18th Birthday
Scott's 15th Birthday

Chris spent 15 hours inside the Miejer's here in town to acquire a Wii gaming system. Scott spent some of the time with him though he was excused for 3 hour dinner and TV break at my house with the X and her brother. We had chinese food and then watched the two hour first episode of Dead Like Me. We had been watching the replay of this on series on the sci-fi channel but had missed the two hour start). According to the X they did not get back home until 1:30AM with their purchase. I was most impressed with the way the boys stuck with it; Chris had a wrist band and could roam freely in the store but could not leave. So, that is certainly better than waiting outside the store all night to get in! Miejer's is open 24 hours and has food, drinks, BATHROOM's, etc.

Thanksgiving was great. As I like to call it our dysfunctional family (Me, the kids, the X, her folks, and her brother) met a tmy house where I had been cooking since before sun rise. I made a 20 pound bird with my famous cornbread and sausage stuffing, corn bread, biscuits, niblet corn, peas, onions (cooking in with the turkey), home made gravy, and mashed potatoes. For Chris I made a nice buffalo sauce to go with his turkey. This year for the stuffing I omitted the traditional sage turkey seasonings and everyone loved it. The X, who never eats stuffing, actually did and had some seconds, and my daughter loved it too. We also celebrated the family gathering of the boys birthdays since they occur within a week of each other. They got loot from the relatives. From Deb and I we had combined their birthday money and gotten money from Santa for xmas presents they would have gotten so they could afford the Wii. Befroe desert the X headed out dropping Chris and Scott of at Meijer's so they could pick things up; Scott got a Zune media player and Chris some game, I forget which. They eventually returned. For dessert we had Ice Creak cake and a pecan pie Mom and Dad brought. This was accompanied with the traditional flaming candles on the cake and the off-key singing of "Happy Birthday".

Thanksgiving this year was also Chris' birthday. 18 years old! Seems like yesterday I was holding him in my arms for the first time! I am so proud of him. I also can't understand why he is now old enough to go get shot and killed in a war, yet has to wait three years before he can legally have a beer....go figure!

The day after thanksgiving the X and some of her company headed south to Florida. Evidently to make their bottom line they are doing some last minute quick high paying jobs down there. While I love having the kids extra time (today is the end of the first week) it could not have come at a worse time since at work we are hitting for our site and our two sister sites the culmination of two years -planning and work to transition us over to a new infrastructure. And of course this week we had the boys sick. Three days for Scott and two days for Christopher. And of course two of those days I got little to no sleep as Scott was barking like a seal all night. Oh well, stuff happens!

The Sunday after thanksgiving we had turkey leftovers. I bought more biscuits and we basically had the same meal again, though their were enough biscuits this time for the kids; they each had four if they wanted them.

Scott's Birthday was this past Wednesday, he had been sick Monday and Tuesday, but had rallied, and overall we had a good day and went to Red Robin for dinner. We stopped at Gamestop on the way back so he could pickup the new Sonic game for the Xbox 360. Later in the evening he was very sad that his mom couldn't be there for his birthday. I explained, and I am sure he understood, that his Mom's work required she be away on that day. He was sick again yesterday and is doing better today. I told Scott this weekend I would take him to his favorite Chinese buffet as an additional birthday treat.

OK, what else is going on.......mundane things like I cleaned out the gutters on the house, got the snow blower ready for the winter (which started today with the ice storm now turned to snow) , and that's really about it. Last night I made home made chicken soup for dinner. One other noteworthy point is I heard from a good friend and coworker from my new jersey days. Tyrone, if you are reading this I must tell you talking to you today was indeed the highpoint of the day! Thanks so much for taking the time to call!