Christmas Eve on into now CHRISTMAS DAY!
and even the day after christmas

Christmas Eve went well...
actually for a disfunctional family with a spotty holiday track record...things went AWESOMELY WELL!

in the AM of Christmas Eve (december 24th to those who do not celebrate this pagan american consumer driven holiday) my father came over with a stack of wood on his aging Jeep Cherokee
we added some of the final pieces to the back deck
it was brisk and cold
I tried to clean up the ladder steps of the clubhouse that were a tad icy and slick from Dean's expressive urination from the top level earlier that morning
along with the slippery ladder steps there were cold metal power tools and the moist and chilly presure treated wood that were less than plesasant to the touch
so our efforts were kept to what must be done and little more
the roof to the Kids Klubhouse was completed all the way down to Kristmas Lights!
then a few very minor boards here and there as well as some caps to the 4X4 posts
a few more lights....including some mulitcolored christmas lights down the side of the slides
nicely offsetting the white and blue "icecle lights"
there can never be enough Christmas Lights!
that was dad was gone as quickly as he had arrived

by the time my father left there it was time to step out for a family lunch before the Holiday Madness really began
with the Honda Element loaded up with kids we drove the short distance into Adams Morgan
a distance that would be short enough to walk if we had a little more time and was not picking up loads of holiday libations
Lisa was set on going to "the diner
so the diner it was
our christmas eve brunch idea was not entirely original
we hesitiated and contemplated other options
the wait was shorter than the hostess claimed and once seated we were greeted by the ever friendly and sweet manager
she joined us in our booth and asked where we had been and what we had been up to
I stated simple and plain.... "we are old and square"
when honestly it is just not possible to try and eat out with an active three and a half year old and a rapidly developing 10 month old
one or the other...sure
but both? both is a guarentee of some sort of disfunciton that prevents someone from having a good time
not to mention the chance that your effort to have a good time may impose on the efforts of others to have a good time
it is vital to remember that as cute as a child may be in the eyes of its owner
food being spit up on the shoulder of a stranger is not always a pleasure for the recipient

after our botched order and our very satisfying meals we headed home
(the errors were made in our favor so I had no complaints...yummy bacon and sausage!)
those additional cups of coffee after my already several morning cups along with the greasy sausage and bacon my hangover was cured

now with the hangover behind me and more accomplished that I have ever intended
with a look at the watch it seemed a tad tight
but I opted to blow some steam by hiking he dogs
sure there was Paella to be cooked
but for my sanity and the dog's well being I went for a hike
an orange juice/Red Bull mixture was created
then into the woods

perhaps more caffiene that I needed that day
perhaps more caffiene than I needed that week
but I wanted to perform
did not want to drag

the march with the dogs was everything that I needed
the dogs got theirs and I got mine
Roscoe, Brutus, and I were all feeling a tad less anxious and a tad more prepared for the holiday festivities
there is something special about a brisk winter hike on a holiday afternoon

once home Roscoe and Brutus retired to various corner, Brutus under the dinning room table and Roscoe on the dog bed in the hall
as I moved to the kitchen where I layed out all my ingredients and two conflicting Paella recipies
perhaps it was an overdose of caffiene or the pressure of the holiday meal
but my mind began to spin
although I had cooked Paella nearly a dozen times
it is always a bit of a crap shoot
I was unsure of how much SAFRON to use
so I played it safe and cooked two with Safron Rice and the other with a Jasmine rice and a tad more"threads" of safron (which in this case turned out to be too little or too few threads)
the food was a hit
the three lobster tails were just a taste to go along with the endless rice, mussels, clams, shrimp, chicken, and vegetables

after dinner we went into the front room with the fireplace rested dormant and a christmas tree filled the corner that is usually occupied by Roscoe's dog bed
the room was cramped with five kids under 5, parents, a grandparent, and more toys than I had ever imagined
the exchange was chaotic
my angelic son Dean grew to be possessed by more and bigger
we had to step back, regroup, and reinstill the spirit of christmas
deprioritise the toys

that evening ended


with little time to rest the next day began
Christmas Day at my dad's in Bethesda, Maryland
pretty much the same cast of characters
but swap out my two mix breed dogs for my dad's one pure bred dog Max, the ever enthusiatic Black Lab
then switch out my mom for my father and stepmother joyce...move from Mt Pleasant to bethesda...put my dad in the kitchen and bang
another cramped living room with a tree in the corner
five kids under five tearing at wrapping paper
then reaching for the next gift before they are able to enternailze what they had just recieved

after the toys the kids went to the basement for a DVD
which bought the adults a few seconds to try and chew their food
my dad's Christmas Curry Butternut Squash soup was a hit as usual, enough made that everyone left with some tupperware doggie bags
turkey with all the fixens and all the sides
not sure about everyone else, but I most certainly had to loosen my belt more than one notch
in situations like this it is not uncommon for the kids to choose play time of dinner time
other than cookies and candy very few kids slowed to eat
for the most part Dean was running on candy canes and the excitement of the day

slowly each part of the family puzzle loaded up their own car with their own christmas cargo and then pulled off to the respected homes
our family being the last to leave
it was good to have a few minutes of chill one on one with Joyce and my father
the whole event can be chaotically overwelming
all the toys
all the toys
there are all the toys

I am currently trying to figure out a better way to approach the holiday in future years

another gathering successful as usual

not much to say on that one

the maddness continued
funny how this all happened...
a few friends were supposed to come over for a drink or two on thursday night
they could not make it so they reschuduled for Sunday
well, I failed to realize that I double booked them with my in-laws
so the doorbell rings...
before I know it I have a room full of friends and family
no place to sit and nothing to eat....well...nothing prepared as of yet

as the converstation flowed... people grew to be more comfotable
with a look at the clock I realized that I had guests for dinner
a quick mental revision of the previous dinner plans I took a few block chilly hike with Tim's wife to the local "bodeaga" for some hot dog buns and some rolls
only to return and fire up the gas grill
move to the basement for some hot dogs, sausage, and kileabasa
and of course those little weiners which I prepared with a special sauce (always a holiday treat)
to my amazement the food was a hit
Greg's wife Anime had brought a Tiramesu desert that she had prepared
there was ice cream
and some super tastee Root Beer from Duck's microbrewry in North Carolina

all went well
after dinner the inlaws left
lisa bathed Grant, topped him off with the breast, then put him down to sleep
Dean was so easy to convince to go to bed...
I took Dean up stairs....we wrestled and I chased him....I put his PJs on and he tore them off
finally he was settled down enough to read a book and start another
2/4 through "Where the Wild Things Are" Dean said he was done with this book and tried to get out of bed
I gently pushed him back and pulled the LEAP PAD from behind my back
while he tried to squirm to escape I started to work the LEAP PAD
with the pen-like mouse (stylus of sorts) I clicked on the appropriate buttons as I verbalized my actions
went through one page
then started another
before I could start a third page Dean was demanding that he do it himself
so I passed the stylus off to him and instructed him step by step
then slowly pulled myself out of his bed, said good night, and closed the doors

only to return downstairs with Lincoln Logs and various other toys in hand to play with at the table
Greg, Tim, and Snoopy were all very entertained by the various toys
we even took some photos of the final group project with the Lincoln Logs
(snoopy has the image, perhaps I can post it later)

it was a tad awkward at first to have the double booked event
but everyone flowed with it
glad it happened
could have never planned it
very glad it happened
there may have been no other way to host these friends during this holiday season
they too got a window into my world