Holiday Giggles

Die Hard PalzFirst, a quick little tidbit. For my new Christmas decorations this year, I picked up a set of Palz block-figure toys from the movie Die Hard (yes, it is a Christmas movie — just look at that box art).

Some of you... well, die hard Die Hard fans may remember Al Powell’s sarcastic line (referring to the FBI agents), “They’ve got the universal terrorist playbook and they’re running it step by step.”

So what’s the little FBI agent figure carrying? Yep, the Universal Terrorist Playbook.

(Special holiday bonus: Things I Learned from Watching Die Hard. Don’t say I never gave you anything.)

Second, a confession to all of those who may have been baffled by my unorthodox “holiday card” this year — yes, I was the one who sent you the “Your New Monkey” letter. I figured it was a hell of a lot more fun than the usual family-update newsletter.

Monkeys are funny.

Okay, so here’s the real holiday story. We had two Christmas celebrations this year — one with my family (on Christmas weekend), and one with Pam’s (on New Year’s weekend). Unfortunately, Pam’s brother had picked up some gifts for the girls that they’d already received the weekend before. Our ten-year-old was fine, gracious — she gave no indication that the gift was a duplicate. But the seven-year-old was not so subtle. Pam tried to goad her out of her melodramatic pout, making every effort to save face, but the little one wasn’t catching on. “But we already got it!” she finally cried out, to Pam’s consternation.

“Honey, when we get a gift we already have, we say, ‘Thank you for thinking of me,’” Pam offered in a brief attempt to explain proper gift-receipt etiquette. “We can always trade it for something else later.”

Her pout still not quite erased, our youngest went on to open her next present — also from Pam’s brother... and also, alas, a duplicate gift (in this case, a new book).

Without missing a beat, she turned to him and deadpanned, “Thank you for thinking of me.”

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Just thought I’d take a moment to do a little website promotion. There’s a new site, MotherReader, which is a sort of an unpretentious book reviewing blog. The focus is primarily on women’s books and children’s books, but there’s certainly some crossover appeal. In fact, it was the site’s author (the titular “MotherReader”) who originally turned me on to one of my favorite books of recent years, the oft-mentioned Things My Girlfriend And I Have Argued About.

Still, for those of you who are looking for a more concrete connection, I think you might be able to use some basic deduction to figure it out...

It’s just getting started, so if you head over now, you’ll be able to read it right from the beginning.

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Weekend From Hell, or at Least Purgatory

Okay, so it can’t compare with David Seitzinger’s woes, but this weekend is still going to stand out at one of my least favorite for a while...

It all started with such promise; Pam and the girls — along with my visiting father-in-law — had gone down to Virginia Beach on Friday, leaving me here alone (just getting my father-in-law to leave is cause for jubilation — he means well, but...). The plan was that I would attend an off-to-school party for Julia Ames, take care of the cats for one more evening, then follow them down to my mother-in-law’s on Saturday morning. Of course, this meant I’d have to drive the aforementioned father-in-law’s minivan (since, not having any back seats, it couldn’t have fit the kids), but no big deal, right? It’s Virginia Beach — three, four hours tops. Okay, so the van’s A/C is broken, but how bad could it be?

Try eight-and-a-half hours bad. With the alternate routes socked in just as badly as I-95. Of course, I didn’t have my map with me, being in someone else’s car... and it’s Virginia Beach, for crying out loud — I’ve driven it dozens of times, if not hundreds. Little did I know. And to add insult to injury, when it really counted, I couldn’t even get off to get water, a need that became more and more pronounced as the day wore on.

Finally, after phoning ahead for alternate route suggestions, I managed to get off at Route 30 — normally an hour-and-a-half South, but five hours after I’d started this time around. Sopping wet, and literally dizzy from dehydration, I staggered into a 7-Eleven and picked up some Nectar of the Gods. At least nominally replenished, I continued on my way — through one of the worst rainstorms I’ve ever driven through. Sheer determination kept me from making the otherwise sensible choice to pull over, but I was slowed to a five-mile-per-hour crawl.

So much for Saturday.

Sunday was supposed to be my “beach day,” but my daughter’s having been stung by a jellyfish the preceding day made her reluctant to go back. Not that it mattered — the weather was lousy. Sticking around the house wasn’t too appealing an option, as Pam had spent all the preceding day stuck in the middle of the long-running battle between her parents, and was desperate to get out. So we ended up spending the afternoon at the Children’s Museum of Virginia in Portsmouth; a lot of fun for the kids, but nothing particularly enlightening for the adults. Then it was back to playing middleman (or more like staying out of the way while Pam played middleman... or middlewoman...) between the in-laws.

Monday morning meant packing back up and keeping an eye on the aforementioned father-in-law as he raided mother-in-law’s attic for a few boxes of items he’d left, and then we were back on the road, exhausted but at least moving at a decent clip.

And then we got home to find our back yard covered with mushrooms and our satellite receiver on the fritz. So chalk up another two hours on the phone with tech support (you know it’s bad when you stump regular tech support, and they have to pass you up the ladder), only to find out that the receiver’s dead, and long-since out of warranty. So I’m stuck with shelling out for a new receiver — excuse me, a refurbished receiver, since they don’t make our model anymore.

All right, there were a couple of bright spots (technological, naturally) in all of this. A brand-new iPod made the trip down slightly more bearable. And in the end, I was able to finagle an upgrade to the receiver at a substantially reduced rate (and without committing to a higher monthly subscriber fee).

But I’m still gonna have to pull all those mushrooms...

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