Thursday, December 31

2009: the year in review

Favorite book: The Road. Under the Dome came in at a close second. And, Speaks the Nightbird gets an honorable mention.

Favorite movie: The Wrestler.

Favorite music: I thought it was going to be another bust this year, but Josh Homme (of Queens of the Stone Age) put together a band with Dave Grohl and John Paul Jones and thus the first release from Them Crooked Vultures became my favorite album of the year.

2009 was definitely less stressful than 2008, however it was not without its own kind of excitement. I guess the biggest event was me quitting my job and going to work for Brian. It's really more of a lifestyle than a job, though. But, I like it.

We didn't get much motorcycle riding in this year, unfortunately. No bike trips, either. But, we did go to Cleveland, yes Cleveland, for vacation. And, we had a really nice time.

I have a lot of grand plans for 2010, so stick around and see how things pan out.

Wednesday, December 30

cross country

This was another book from James Patterson's Alex Cross series. This time, Alex goes to Africa to track down a killer. This was a quick read, but it didn't leave me with much.

Sunday, December 27

the 5th day of xmas

Today was a normal Sunday with football playing on the tube all day. The Steelers still have a slim chance of making the playoffs, so that makes some of the other NFL games interesting, since the Steelers will need some help in order to make the playoffs.

Brian's parents stopped over for a Christmas visit in the early evening, so that just about concludes our Christmas visiting schedule (only one visit remaining!).

I was pretty much lazy all day and I fear that is going to continue into the rest of the evening.

hard candy

To put it succinctly, this was a movie about a pedophile who meets a 14 year old girl on the internet. But it definitely takes a turn for the unexpected and morphs into more of a psychological thriller. I'd say it's worth watching, but it probably takes a special kind of audience to appreciate it.

Saturday, December 26

the 4th day of xmas

I didn't tell the story of the bike that Jake got for Christmas this year and there's no better time than the present...

We bought Jake a new BMX bike sometime last month. We stored it in the office basement so it would be out of sight. On the 23rd, Brian started the assembly only to find out the front forks were bent, so he took the bike back to Toys R Us and exchanged it for another one and put it together that same night. Everything looked ok, but on Christmas morning, Jake noticed that one of the spokes on the rear wheel wasn't connected. After determining that the wheel would have to be taken off (and this was the rear wheel which would have been a big pain in the neck) and the tire removed in order to fix the spoke, not to mention the fact that the part we needed was missing, Brian had to take this bike back to the store, too. This was a little disappointing for Jake, but it wasn't like he could have used the bike yesterday anyway. Long story short, they gave Brian the display model (he wasn't about to assemble the bike for the 3rd time or go back to the store due again due to missing or broken parts) and Jake now has a new bike, which he did get to try out today.

The funny thing is that I was looking at bikes online, which is where I like to do my shopping, and all of the reviews were bad because the bikes were arriving damaged or with missing parts, so I decided to buy it locally, only to run into the same issues.

After Brian and Jake returned from the store, one of Brian's friends stopped in for a visit. He lives in California and he and his girlfriend (who we had not met until today) were in for Christmas. The guys played pool for a bit and we got caught up on things.

Other than that, it was pretty much business as usual today.

Friday, December 25

the 3rd day of xmas

This morning started pretty early--6:30 AM to be exact. Jake couldn't contain himself any longer, so we all got up and opened presents. I got an iPod touch, so that has kept me busy for most of the day. While Jake and I played with our new toys, Brian finished up one last Christmas gift that he made in the shop.

Later in the afternoon we went to my in-laws for dinner, which was nice. After dinner we came back home and my parents and brother stopped in for a visit.

Since then, I've been on the computer/fooling around with my iPod. I even managed to spend one of the gift cards I received for Christmas. But, next, I'm going to sit back and relax for a little bit before I hit the sack.

the 2nd day of xmas

Because we work for an awesome company, we had Christmas Eve off work. After not having much time off this year, I was definitely looking forward to the long weekend.

We spent the morning wrapping up some Christmas-related stuff, then Brian and Jake played the role of Santa and delivered presents to the neighbors and a few other friends.

By the time they returned, it was time to go to church (4:30 service). We made like Catholics and left after communion so we could get to my parent's for dinner on time. Thanks to the weather being ok, my Grandmother and her sister were able to join us for dinner (which was excellent, by the way).

Jake chattered the whole way home. He wasn't excited about Christmas or anything (right). We didn't really do anything after we got home. In fact, our gifts are still sitting on the dining room table. Normally we'd put everything under the tree, but Buster was a little too interested in the things we brought back from "The 1st Day of Xmas" so we've been putting stuff away instead.

This was the first year that Jake didn't believe in Santa, so we didn't have to stay up until he fell asleep (we put the presents out this morning instead--more on that in my next post), though we were still up later than usual.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 24

double cross

This was another book from James Patterson's Alex Cross series. Either I'm sick of this series or James Patterson's writing isn't what it used to be. I think it might be the latter. The book was entertaining enough but it really lacked depth--the characters were very one-dimensional. That said, I have another one sitting here and I'm going to read it, too, so I guess they aren't that bad.

Sunday, December 20

the 1st day of xmas

Brian's sister and her family came in this weekend so we headed to my in-laws for an early Christmas dinner. It was quite riotous with all of the kids opening gifts. The weather was definitely Christmassy. This is the only time of year I don't mind having snow--it doesn't seem like the holidays without it. However, I could have done with a little less--the roads were pretty bad on our drive there, but by the time we left, it had quit snowing and the roads weren't as bad.

Saturday, December 19

more fall tv

I heard some good things about The Middle so I started watching it and now everyone in our house really likes it. Good show. ABC really has quite a Wednesday night line-up. If they could only figure out the 8:00 slot they'd be golden. Wednesday has replaced Thursday as my favorite tv-watching night. In the past few years, there haven't been a lot of new sitcoms. And the ones that have come out haven't been very good, so what a nice surprise to find three new shows that I love this season (The Middle, Modern Family, and Cougar Town).

I'm also in the midst of watching the first season of True Blood. I heard all of the hype surrounding it when it first aired, but I held off until I was sure it was something I was going to like. Though the fact that Alan Ball (producer of Six Feet Under--one of my all-time favorite shows) was producing didn't hurt matters. Finally, I succumbed and now I'm obsessed with vampires. What a great show!

Monday, December 14

jingle bells

I'm not quite ready for Christmas, but almost. I hit a number of milestones today. For one, I put the last of the Christmas cards in the mailbox this morning. I used to actually go to the post office and mail them, can you believe that? Now, I put a bunch out each day until they are gone. It works just as well, but without the trip to the post office.

I also finished baking tonight. I only did three batches of cookies this year, much like I have been doing the past few years. That number seems to work out well, though I'm still usually sick of cookies until all is said and done. I did five batches of dog treats again, too, but if you ask the dogs, it's not enough!

Over the weekend, we decorated the house (inside and out) and put up the tree. We even did a small tree at the office this year. Here I am wishing I didn't have to decorate at the house and I end up having to decorate at the office, too. At least we have an employee to help!

I still have to wrap the gifts. Normally I would have this done by now. In previous years, we would send Jake to the grandparent's at the beginning of the month and Brian and I would spend an evening wrapping gifts. That didn't quite work out this year, though. But since Jake figured out the Santa thing, we don't have to be as stealth about it either. So, I'll probably just wrap stuff as I have time. With eleven days to go, I'm sure I won't have any problems completing this final task.

Saturday, December 12

the amazing panda adventure

Jake saw this movie at school last year and wanted to watch it for Family Movie Night, so we watched it last night. It was ok, but not great (from an adult point of view). Of course, that kid watches The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, so no one's accusing him of having discerning taste. But, since we do the Family Movie Night thing for him, we have to let him choose the occasional movie.

Thursday, December 10

back to normal

It seems that all of our December projects are doomed to fail. After a few excruciating days with "Crazy Buster," we put him back on his full dose of medicine. And just like that, he's back to normal. Well, normal for him. Maybe we'll try again next year. Or the year after.

Tuesday, December 8

under the dome

This is the latest book from Stephen King and I have to say that it is the best book he has written in years. I could not put it down. Clocking in at almost 1,100 pages, it is a formidable read. But, I was hooked from the beginning and spent every spare moment reading it.

Basically, a dome comes down over a small town in Maine and the shit hits the fan from that point on. At the beginning, I kept thinking about the Simpsons movie where a similar thing happened, but that parallel was quickly forgotten as I kept reading.

I will note a few things. First, this movie had a ridiculous amount of "bad" guys in it. It's hard to believe there could be so many in such a small town, but I guess if you can suspend belief enough to believe there's a dome over a town, this shouldn't be that much of a stretch. Second, the ending leaves a bit to be desired. It ends on somewhat of a positive note, but overall the tone of the book was rather depressing. I remember being about half way through the book and thinking, "How can this possibly go on for another 500 pages?"

I was surprised when this book arrived at my doorstep (thanks to being in the Stephen King Library). But, I was even more surprised at how much I liked it.

Monday, December 7

door fail

We were going to install Jake's door this evening. I read it's easier to finish doors after they are hung so we wanted to get right on it. Brian took some measurements and realized that the door jamb was not wide enough. The doors we bought were designed for drywall and we have plaster, which is thicker. Brian remembered seeing doors with larger jambs at Home Depot, but thinks they were too large for our purposes. He's going to double-check, but it's not looking good. Unfortunately neither one of us thought to check this measurement before we headed to the store.

Back to the drawing board--quite literally, perhaps.

Sunday, December 6

making concessions

We had grand plans to make solid cherry doors for the rooms throughout our house. The first one was supposed to be for the bathroom that we remodeled four years ago. It just never happened. Luckily we kept the old door up. Jake was supposed to get the second door. Unfortunately for him, his door was removed when we remodeled his bedroom in 2007.

Part of the problem with the door-making thing is that making doors just doesn't hold Brian's interest like making furniture does. The second problem is that it's impossible and/or expensive to find cherry thick enough, so he was going to have to laminate boards together in order for this to work.

An idea struck me the other day--why don't we just buy some doors and call it a day? So, we went to Home Depot today and did just that. They are the plain old standard doors that everyone has, and not unlike the ones we're replacing. But, at least I'll be able to stain them cherry and they'll kind of match our trim.

I'm not coming out of this empty-handed, though. Brian is still going to make the closet doors, of which we have a large number of. These will be easier to make because they won't be as thick as a regular door. Plus, they will be in the style I wanted. Jake's closet door is up first since he doesn't currently have one. Brian has already started on it, but probably won't get back to it until after the new year.

to die for

I added this movie to our queue way back when I was on a Nicole Kidman kick. I didn't know much about it, but read it was one of her better movies, so I figured it was worth a watch. It was. The movie was about a fame-seeking woman (Kidman) who hires three teenagers to kill her husband. I thought it was going to be a drama, but was surprised to find out it was billed as a comedy. It definitely was not a comedy in the traditional sense of the word. I guess you could call it a black comedy, but I never can get into those types of movies, so I hesitate to call it that. Unlike most black comedies I have seen, it was actually funny in parts. The movie really defies categorization, though. And, that makes it all the more interesting.

Friday, December 4

he's two!

It's hard to believe that we've let Buster live this long. He turned two today. While he is 100 times better than he used to be, he is still one high maintenance dog.

That said, he's doing so much better than before that we're going to try to take him off the medication we put him on last year. Hopefully the training we have done with him has taken effect permanently and he'll be ok off the meds. If not, we can always keep going with it. We're going to wean him off slowly because even if we can't get him off them completely, he might get along fine on a smaller dose.

Buster has finally gotten to the point where we can leave him loose when we leave the house for a little bit. I still don't trust him enough to leave him loose all day while we're at work (or elsewhere). I barely trust him when we're only gone for an hour or two (we just got a new couch last spring and I always picture it ripped to shreds whenever we return home from anywhere and Buster has been left in the living room). However, I have to say he does much better upon our return when he is left loose rather than when we lock him up in the hall (less hysterical barking).

Brian takes care of Buster's exercise needs, which are also less than they used to be. The two of them go jogging a few days a week. I guess it helps keep both of them in shape.

Buster is definitely done with the puppy craziness. Two is a magical time. I can only hope that he keeps improving with age.

Wednesday, December 2

stuffing

I have been obsessing about stuffing since Thanksgiving. I love stuffing. This year, there were only two pieces left after Thanksgiving dinner. My mom was nice enough to send one of them home with us. We hadn't been home for very long when I pulled the turkey and stuffing out of the fridge and ate them. Cold. I didn't want to take the chance that anyone else would eat the stuffing. At any rate, it wasn't enough, so I bought some bread cubes this weekend and made stuffing for supper today. We had baked breaded chicken breasts and asparagus, too. And there are leftovers!