Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The Season Is Over

Yes, the season's over. Not Christmas, but fantasy football. I'm pleased to say that even though I benched Reuben Droughns, I won my game anyway, and ended the season 5th in a ten team league, with a .500 record of 8 - 8. Not bad for a rookie manager.

But the Christmas season really doesn't end until New Year's Day. That's the day that my immediate family gathers at Mom and Dad's for our get-together. I'm not going to go into details about what we do, but it does involve presents and LOTS of food.

And speaking of food and presents, today is Carl's birthday. He's 41. Happy Birthday, Sweetie! This may sound strange, but Carl never wants gifts on his birthday. All he asks for is to choose the dinner menu, and to have German chocolate cake with pecan-coconut frosting for dessert. This year he asked for chicken alfredo. I also made peas. Know what you get when you set a can of peas on a lazy susan and spin them around? Whirled Peas! What do you get when you dump a can of peas on the ground? Peas On Earth!

OK, enough bad vegetable jokes.

Carl's reading a book I just finished, "The Wit and Wisdom of Winston Churchill". What a great book! You have to get this book and read it. You'll be astounded, and you'll fall out of your chair laughing, I guarantee.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Wisconsin Dreamin'

Carl, the girls and I went to the Wilderness Resort in the Wisconsin Dells over Christmas. This was our gift to each other, and a replacement for the vacation we didn't take this summer. I could write pages upon pages about what we did, but I'll try to condense it as much as possible.

1) Getting there: uneventful, except for getting lost in Madison. This is a town that really needs a highway bypass.

2) Where we stayed: we rented a "villa" for 4 nights. This is basically a two story townhouse type of thing with a kitchen, living room, two bathrooms and two bedrooms. It was very nice, except that the water was extremely hard.

3) What we did: we got in on Wednesday, unpacked and went to bed. On Thursday and Friday we played in their two indoor waterparks, the Wild West and the Klondike Kavern. The Wild West was more fun, with more to do, and the girls loved it. The girls got to play in the indoor "playground" for the first half of Saturday. This was a kind of fort-thingy with tube slides, climbing nets, and air cannons that shot Nerf balls. After lunch (which wasn't that tasty and was way overpriced) we went back to the Wild West waterpark. Evenings (all four of them) were spent in the villa, where we watched movies or read books or played games - real family time except for the few hours I watched NFL football and cursed the choices I made for this week's lineup. More on that later. MUCH later.

4) Coming back: we took the scenic route so as to avoid Madison. This was fine, and very pretty. Wisconsin has this strange geography where you see flat farm fields, then all of the sudden behind the field a hill rises steeply upwards. I'm going to spend some time looking up why Wisonsin's like this, but I think it's due to the way the glaciers moved through the area. The only bad part about the scenic route was Mary. She'd had a cold coming on, and she was sniffling pretty bad Sunday morning. So we gave her a couple boxes of "kleenex" provided by the hotel and told her to blow her nose so that her ears would unplug. However, the "kleenex" is actually industrial grade sandpaper and by the time we got to Black Earth, Mary's nose was raw and chapped, and she cried all the way from Black Earth to Platteville, poor girl. We tried to find someplace to stop in Mount Horeb or Dodgeville, but we couldn't see anything from the highway. By the time we got to the Platteville exit, I told Carl "I don't care if we don't see anything from the highway, get off anyway!" We did, and fortunately the first place we saw was your friendly neighborhood Wal-Mart. I ran in and bought Mary some kids' Benadryl and some decent Kleenex with lotion. I also bought some candy to make the rest of the trip go easier. After Wal-Mart we found a place to eat and after that, got back in the SUV and headed home. Poor little Mary was asleep before we even left Platteville, and we got home safely and quietly.

So here we are, home at last. The girls are tucked up in bed, I'm here blogging, and I have no idea where Carl is. Probably upstairs crashed on the bed. I think I'll join him.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

A First Time For Everything

This past Saturday the girls and I went down to my parents' for the weekend. We had two things to do on our agenda: on Saturday, go listen to the trio my brother Keith is in, Acoustic Timbre; on Sunday, go to a family Christmas party involving my dad, his brothers and their families. Carl did not come with us as he had classes that weekend. However, the Wednesday before we left I got a surprise call from my brother Keith inviting me to play my autoharp with his trio. Of course I leapt at the opportunity! I practiced hard (so hard, in fact, that Carl had to do some minor repair work to my 'harp) and on Saturday I got to play two songs with the trio. I had alot of fun, and I must say I didn't do too bad of a job, either. The only hitch in the whole night was when my girls got into a spat and Boo-Boo came running up on stage to try and get my attention. Oh, well. That's why we call her Boo-Boo. But anyway. It was a real privilege and honor to get to play with Acoustic Timbre and I hope I get to do it again sometime. Pleeeze, Keith?!?

And while we're on the subject of musical firsts, last night was Hannah's first ever band concert. She plays trombone - in fact, she's the lone 'bone in the fifth grade band. But she did really well, and Carl and I are so proud of her. However, during the concert, it started to precipitate outside, one of those nasty rain/snow mixes. No one knew it, though, until Eric Huinker (the principal) came into the auditorium at the end of the concert in his winter jacket and told the audience what was going on. So we trekked out to Candy and started for home. Carl was driving, and it was Candy's first trip in da snow, and I told him "If you wreck my new truck, I'll (insert violent verb here) you." Carl wasn't daunted, though, until he tried to turn left onto the main drag and the truck didn't want to go along. Carl managed to stop before we went into the ditch and he got righted and kept going, limping carefully along behind the other creeping traffic. We had the truck in all-wheel drive but it took Carl a while to get a feel for both the first snow event of the year and for how Candy handles in that situation. But all went well, and we happily, wearily and safely pulled into the garage. And Carl remained uninjured.

In football news, I won my first game in the consolation playoff bracket. So the worst I can do is 6th place. Hopefully I'll win this coming weekend, have a .500 season and be 5th in the league. Problem is, I'll be out of town for the last half of the week and I don't know if I'll have internet access or not. I'll need to make my decisions on starters late today, which is bad, because you never know about last minute injuries or arrests.

Well, I must be off to do laundry. And since I probably won't be able to blog again until next week, y'all have a Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Effects of Fantasy Football

I've been the manager of the Weenie Meisters for 14 weeks now. My record is 6 wins, 8 losses, and I'm 6th in a 10 team league. Not bad for a rookie manager who had absolutely no idea of what she was getting herself into. I thought I'd do alot worse (ie, win no games and be last in the league) so I'm pleasantly surprised.

However, managing a fantasy team has had an effect on me that I positively did not expect, and that is, it changed the way I watched football. Take last week, for instance. I had three wide receivers on my team: Muhsin Muhammed of the Carolina Panthers, Eddie Kennison of the Kansas City Chiefs and Donald Driver of the Green Bay Packers. I can only play two WR's per Sunday, so I had to choose between Kennison and Driver since Muhammed is my first choice receiver. I went with Kennison for several reasons (and I don't have enough time to enumerate them all). This made watching football tough, because I like the Packers, but since Driver was on my bench I found myself yelling at the TV, "NO! Don't throw it to Driver! Throw it to Franks or Green, anyone but Driver!" Brett Favre ignored me, and Driver racked up 11 points. Completely useless points, and I found myself growling before Monday Night Football, "Kennison had better come through in spades for me". That hurt, because Kansas City played against the Tennessee Titans, one of my favorite teams, and the one team that has a distant (and I do mean distant) relative of mine playing on it. (He's the punter, Craig Hentrich). It was hard, rooting for the Chiefs against the Titans, but I did it, except for those moments when my distant cousin was on the field. Didn't you just LOVE the fake punt he pulled off? No wonder opposing special teams are afraid of Cousin Craig. But anyway. For the rest of the game I was urging KC on. I was especially urging Trent Green (KC's lousy quarterback) to throw to Kennison. He did, and Kennison got two touchdowns, and also one tackle when Green didn't throw the ball far enough and the safety intercepted the pass right in front of Kennison. Fortunately, Kennison did come through for me and gave me 16.5 points, enough for me to handily beat my fantasy opponent. (Sorry Kelli!) But I find myself rooting for teams I never thought I would. I root for Pittsburgh and not for Dallas because I've got Rothlisberger at QB and I dumped Testaverde. I root for both the Bears and the Packers, which makes it really hard when they play each other. There's only two more weeks left in our league's season (we don't play week 17) and I'm in the consolation bracket against a team that posted 117 points last Sunday (compared to my 90.5 points). I've got some fine tuning to do, and I have alot of thinking to do now that I have FOUR wide receivers (I picked up Drew Bennett of the Titans). Decisions, decisions, decisions.

And speaking of decisions, my wonderful hubby Carl has decided to replace our old dishwasher. There are several reasons for this. One, a new machine isn't that much more expensive than the cost of fixing our old machine and two, Carl got a nice gift certificate from work that he plans to use toward the purchase of a new machine. Three, the machine we want is on sale and Four, we get another 10% off if we go in Saturday at 7 am and buy it. So that's what Carl plans to do. And since he's taking next week off, he'll have plenty of time to install it. What a manly man, my husband, able to install dishwashers and fix truck engines, yet able to spend quality time with his family. What a guy! (Insert contented sigh here.)

Well, I must be going. I promised the girls I'd bake cookies today so that they could frost them when they get home. 'Bye now!

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Of Trees and Tools

Today I assembled the white, lighted outdoor tree that Carl let me buy. It’s a long story about how I talked Carl into this, but oh well. I will say that part of his criteria was that it be on sale. No problem. My criteria were that it didn’t talk, sing or dance. (Sorry Shannon!) Anyway, so I put the thing together in the garage where it was warm, out of the wind, and where the tools were. You’re not supposed to need tools to assemble this tree, but I ended up needing a side cutters to snip off the packaging wires, a rat-tail’s rasp to deburr the inside of the base so I could insert the legs, and a large Labrador-mix dog chewing on a towel. OK, so the dog’s not a tool, but he’s nice company. I am, however, thinking of changing his name to Jerry Tarkenian.

<>But I digress. So I put the tree together, plugged it in to test it, and it works great. Now all I have to do is take it outside, put it where I want it and stake it to the ground so it won’t blow away. The tree manufacturer provides you with stakes, but these are teensy-weensy chicken fried stakes that would pull right out of the ground if you sneezed in the tree’s direction. I needed big, strong Porterhouse stakes that would hold the tree down in a hurricane. I wanted tent stakes, but I couldn’t find any. I did, however, buy a 4’ rod of “weldable” steel which I cut into four pieces and bent into stakes in my bench vise. These stakes are twice the diameter of the stakes that came with the tree, and a good three inches longer. (Insert a “Tim the Tool Man” grunt here.) I’ll probably wait until Carl gets home to take the tree outside and stake it down since Carl has a better idea of where to place the stakes. After all, he’s the one who passed Physics on the first try. <>

On another note (LA!) I won this week’s fantasy football game and am now in 6th place in the league. Rah rah rah!

Friday, December 03, 2004

Government Insanity, Part Two

For the past two years, our congregation has put on a "Living Nativity", and I mean living. We had actors dressed in perfect costumes (which were large enough to accomodate our insulated overalls). We had a cool set (partially designed by me, but made into reality by a bunch of other people smarter than me) and tapes and CD's people could play in their cars that told the Christmas story as they drove along down the set. We had people managing traffic who did a marvelous job despite the fact that our church building is located along one of the busiest streets in Cedar Rapids (Collins Road). We even had real animals: Jacob's sheep, goats, calves, donkeys, miniature horses and an honest-to-goodness camel. It was quite a production, but it was the only one like it in town and it presented the real, true meaning of Christmas in a way that people could enjoy.

Well, enter once again the City of Cedar Rapids. I'm not sure exactly what the problem is, but I got a call tonight informing me that the Living Nativity was canceled for this year because the City is hassling us. I have no doubt that the guys in charge (Kevin and Dennis) will work hard over the next year to make things right (because these are two really wonderful and competent guys) but its still incredibly aggravating to have this ministry opportunity taken away from us because of bureaucratic over-regulation. I guess we must be doing something right, because Satan is working overtime (via the City) to make our service to Christ as difficult as possible. Well, guess what? My Master is more powerful than Satan, and he ain't gonna win.

So there!

Quick Note

When one has a large, albeit artificial, tree in one's house, one must be extra vigilant when you let your very large dog in for a visit.

No, he didn't, but I was watching him.

Oh, I lost my last football game, and am now 8th in the league.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Getting In The Mood

I'm finally really starting to get into my Christmas mood (despite the best efforts of the CR Building Dept). I've got almost all the decorating done. All that's left is the girls' rooms, and first I have to clean them. I did Mary's room today; it took me around 5 hours to complete. Tomorrow I tackle Hannah's room. Hers is worse than Boo-Boo's. But the girls are providing us with a lot of holiday entertainment. For instance, one of our favorite Christmas CD's is Riders In The Sky "Christmas the Cowboy Way". On this disc is the song "The Twelve Days of Cowboy Christmas", which starting from Five goes:

"Five golden notes
Four fiddlin' kings
Three bass thumps
Two manly strums
And a yodel-a-dee-ee-yodel-oh-ah-tee"

Hopefully you all know enough about Riders In The Sky to understand what these lyrics mean. If you don't, leave a comment and I'll explain later. But I digress. I played this CD on the way to Williamsburg last Saturday, and the girls' thought the lyrics were "Three bass thumbs, two manly skunks" so now whenever that song plays the girls sing their lyrics, and every time they do it, it sounds hysterical. I guess maybe you had to be there.

Another "you had to be there" moment came tonight at the dinner table. Mary was in a really good mood, and reminded me at the end of the meal to take my meds. (I have a twice daily prescription.) Anyway, she went and got my script bottle and even offered me some of her juice. Awwww! Then I said to Carl, "What a smart girl to remind Mommy to take her meds" and Carl said "Yes, she is smart" Then I turned to Mary and asked "What made you so smart?" and she said "School made me smart. BUUURRRP!" What a lovely Kodak moment. (Insert heavy sarcasm here.) This is my precious, innocent little angel, and she burps like a frat boy. Definitely her Dad's genetics, not mine.

So I'm sitting here, blogging away, and Carl comes in from the kitchen where he's doing his homework and reads what I've written. He walks back into the kitchen, and belches. Loudly. Gee, I wonder where Mary gets her example from...

There's been some other stuff that happened today, but I can't remember what it was because I'm really tired. Therefore, I'm going to bed.