Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas Dads and Dads to be! It is a great day to be a dad. Sure you have to get up early (actually late by normal weekday standards). But the look on faces of the kids is priceless. What I liked best was the boys giving their gifts outs. The really had though long and hard about what they wanted to get each other. And they were so happy when the other one opened the gift they had gotten the other. Caz had gotten Demi a pair of fuzzy socks and PJ's. He was delighted when she opened it. Coco had gotten Caz a certain Bionicle which Caz loved. All around it was just a great Christmas morning.
And here's a tip: Legos and Bionicles are great gifts for boys 6 and 8. It keeps them occupied for a long time building those things. Dad got some nice quiet time later on when they broke those open.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Letter to Santa

The boys crafted some very fine letters to Santa this year. They were really enthusiastic about it. What really cracked me up was both of the boys asking: How's the North Pole? How are the elves? How is Fred? Yep! Fred Claus. The boys really got a kick out of that movie. I thought it was funny too. It was definitely a good family movie. Some laughs for everyone, young and old. So now Fred is a Christmas icon, just like Rudolph and Frosty. At least he is to Caz and Coco. They could not wait to write their letters and get them into the mail. And when they got their responses, Caz had a reply sent right back in under 10 minutes. Talk about your Christmas magic. This is one of the things the season is all about. The excitement and innocence of kids. That's what helps bring the magic about.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Return

The trip back from the island was actually shorter than the ride down (8 plus hours in the car), but a nerve wracking trip. The initial forecasts were for another Nor'easter starting on Sunday. We contemplated starting back on Saturday night. But we kept our eye on the weather and the call was for the start of the event coming earlier and being mostly rain. So we waited and started out on Sunday morning. Coco starting getting carsick despite the Dramamine. Demi had to make a pit stop about 35 minutes into the trip. The wind was strong and constant. The rain was coming down hard. So I took it slow and easy. The kids were great again. The watched a movie (Elf), read, and Caz even napped for a bit. Demi left her glasses at her sisters, so I decided to drive the whole shift. My back was bothering from two nights of sleeping on an air mattress. I could get a fuzzy transmission of the Patriots-Jets game. Of course the delays put us close to Gillette Stadium close to the end of the game, so I was dreading the exodus from the game, jamming up the roads. Fortunately, the bad weather kept it a close game, which in turn kept the fans in the stands until the end. We were past the Razor with about 5 minutes left to play. As much fun as we had, and as great as the kids were in the car, there's no place like home (to quote Dorothy). Of course, seeing rain the entire trip, it hadn't occured to me that it may have snowed.....8 inches...before turning to rain. Did I ever mention that I have the best Dad in the world? He plowed me out before it turned to rain. I would have needed back surgery otherwise. The slush I did have to shovel, nearly broke me. It weighed a ton. And then some.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Griswald Christmas Vacation

We're off to the Island for the annual Christmas with the in-laws. The kids are really looking forward to seeing their cousins. I think this is great. We don't get to see them as much as we would like, but I love that the boys genuinely like to see their cousins. I only had 2 cousins growing up and it was not the same. Part of it I am sure, is that I was the oldest by 4 years. And my oldest cousin was a girl. Just not a lot in common. The family holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas) were generally the only time I would see them. With the Griswalds, all the cousins seem to get along. They are really well behaved when they are all together. Our kids are old enough, that I don't have to be on top of them every minute. It's hard. There are 10 kids and 14 adults milling about the house. It can get very chaotic. It's fun though. The dinner is great. Just a ton of food. Sauer Braten, Turkey, Ham, Stuffing, Mash Potato, Sweet Potato, Gravy, Green, Beans....well you get the picture. And dessert? Forget about it. Cheesecakes, cookies, brownies, fudge, chocolate fondue, gingerbread....The Griswalds put out a great spread. But the company is what counts. My in-laws are great. The work hard to make it fun for everyone.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

You Rock!

Guitar Hero Epilogue: One day later, Caz and Coco have decided that they want to be Rock Guitar Gods. They went from watching on the sidelines, to getting into the game. Caz seemed to pick it up very quickly. Coco gets an A for effort. The little guys certainly has the moves. Caz has a little swing and taps his foot to the beat. But Coco is Eddie Van Halen, Jimi Hendrix, and Pete Townsend all rolled into one. And he sings. It is really a spectacle.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Guitar Hero

Guitar Hero III - Legends of Rock - Video Game Review

I received this game for my birthday. The complete Wii package with the guitar. It was an instant hit. It is technically rated T for Teen, but my boys love it and so far no issues. They have character that play the music and sing while you are playing, but you are so focused on the Simon Says like "notes" and colors flying at you fast and furious. Now that said, a few of the character I refer to as the Hard Rock Harlots (only to Demi of course). They have the half shirts and minis. Coco referred to them as cheerleaders. They come out for Kiss's Rock and Roll All Nite. Naturally, that is his favorite song. The kids were a little stand-offish at first. Their fingers had trouble with the frets. But when they saw how much fun Demi and I were having, it made them try it. Caz quickly improved. No one has guitar moves like Coco. He is Jimmy Hendrix, Pete Townsend, and Chuck Berry, all rolled into one. Caz actually sings while he plays. This game is a great party game too. We had 8 adults over and played until 2 AM on a Saturday night. Rock on!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

O Christmas Tree

Caz made me the perfect Christmas tree this past weekend. He was all gung-ho to help me set up my Dickens Christmas Village in the bay window of the living room. He accompanied me to the very, cold attic to take the boxes out of storage. He helped me build and paint my new platform to elevate the display. He assisted my in unpacking the individual buildings and in inserting the lights. Caz was a superb helper. After we finished setting up the display, I made a comment that I wished I had bough some of the accessories, like trees and bushes, because the display looked a bit sparse. Not long after that Caz disappeared to the basement for a while. When he resurfaced, he asked me to come take a look in the living room. There in the display, I saw a homemade Christmas tree. Caz had used green construction paper, and cut out a tree. He decorated it with ornaments and trimming. Then he used card board to make a base, so that it could stand all on its own. I was floored. He did such a great job. But it was the thought that went into it. He was inspired by my off-hand comment, to make something for me that he knew I needed and wanted. Is it any wonder that my sons are the treasures of my life? This is what being a Dad is all about.

You Say It's Your Birthday

The boys were eager to say the least, to help Dad celebrate his birthday this weekend. They decided that dinner at the new Longhorn Steakhouse would do the trick. At least for starters. Demi's chocolate mousse cake helped too. But the boys really got excited by Dad's birthday present: Guitar Hero III, Legends of Rock. They actually let the old man play first. Not too shabby. Actually, the boys were a little intimidated by the game.
Coco and Caz were very good about letting Dad do some of the things he wanted to do on the birthday weekend. We tracked down a new place to get our Christmas tree. Our old place was cut down for space for a house. So we found this really nice Christmas tree farm. We got to see the Golden Compass. All around a good day. What I liked best was that the boys wrapped all the presents. They were so eager to do that, and did such a nice job with it. They are really understanding what it means to give a gift, and all that goes with it.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Bah Humbug

Did you notice how early the radio stations were playing Christmas music 24-7 this year? Two weeks before Thanksgiving there were two stations at least. Or did you notice how early the stores had the Christmas displays up? I am not certain but I am pretty sure it was the day after Halloween. Is this really necessary? Shouldn't I be able to get a rake in mid to late November at Job Lot? Do I really need the garland, lights, extension cords, flood lights, and inflatable Santa's for my fall clean up? Good Grief, Charlie Brown! I am all for the free market system, but has the media marketing machine really come to this? Tell me I am wrong. Go ahead. I dare you.

'Tis The Season

The holiday season is fully upon us. I keep trying to explain to the boys, what all the hype is about. I try to explain the Christmas spirit. I actually usually refer to it as Christmas Magic. The magic aspects seems to resonate with the boys more. Of course it helps explain a lot of things too. When you talk about Santa, you get a lot of "why" questions. The boys still believe, so you can get away with a lot of "Christmas magic" answers. For example: "How does Santa get down our chimney with the wood stove we have instead of a fireplace?" Answer: "Santa uses his Christmas magic." It works for how Reindeer fly or how he gets to all the houses in one night. By the way, only grown ups can know the phone number for Santa. We're not allowed to tell kids. Keep that one handy. You never know when you are going to have to call Santa to ask him to double check the naughty list if the kids are acting up a bit.
The boys and I had a long talk about the meaning of the Christmas spirit. We talked about generosity. We talked about thinking about others needs and wants. We talked about charity. We talked about how all the noblest feelings and intentions of human kind tend to surface and culminate at this particular time of year. Caz and Coco asked a lot of great questions. I think they were happy with the answers. They were so enthusiastic about helping to pick out toys and gifts for the Toys for Tots type bin that my workplace is putting together. They didn't squawk once about getting something for themselves. It is these types of talks that I hope the boys latch on to and remember years from now. Time will tell.