Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Well, I finally get a chance to sit down and write about Christmas 2009 while I delay my exile (Mandy has banished me to the couch so she can sleep without me waking her up with my sneezing and coughing). It was wonderful, and we all very much enjoyed it between the food, plenty of fellowship, and of course the presents.

Christmas began for us on Christmas Eve day when Mom bought herself a new HP laptop as a gift. She loves it, and so does Mandy especially (a few words here: webcam and self-portraits should give you the picture). Later that afternoon, we went over to Uncle Josh's house for the clan gathering with Grandma Linda. We first enjoyed various appetizers and the like for supper, and then afterwards we went to the basement for something new: singing. Uncle Josh had printed out some sheets for Christmas songs like "O Christmas Tree," "Silent Night," and "Jingle Bells," so we all gathered around Hannah, who played the piano, and Noah, who played the violin, while we sang. We sounded good, and Uncle Josh even offered us a rare look at his bass version of "O Holy Night." After singing, we went back upstairs and opened presents. I don't remember everything we got, but I do know that Seth got a tie and a shirt (he wore them on Sunday and looked rather sharp) as well as a sweater, Mandy got a purse, a shirt, and a makeup kit, while I got a purple shawl, some black gloves, some earrings, headphones for my MP3 (which fit my ears beautifully), and a makeup kit. After opening presents, the adults and older kids participated in the white elephant gift exchange. This year included a Joel Osteen video, a dial-up modem, moon pies, a train set, my old college textbooks that I couldn't sell, a snuggie (which we got and which is really, really warm), a book on beer dieting (which ironically I ended up getting), vienna sausage, and stuff like that. After that, we settled around to pass the rest of the evening with conversation and grazing off of the food table. Things turned interesting when Noah brought out his violin and played some tunes while we had a bit of a hoe down in the living room. I captured some videos of the event, but I've yet to upload them or the pictures, which I shall try to remedy at some point. All in all, a wonderful evening.

Christmas morning. Mom woke up first to start making the bacon for the quiche, which woke up Mandy who took great delight in forcing Seth and me out of our beds. Ironic that 11 AM is her normal wake-up hour on vacation but Christmas morning she wakes up at 7 AM; there's something perverse about that. Anyway, so we got up and ate some leftover sausage to tide us over until breakfast, then we opened presents. Dad got a beer magazine, some tobacco, a new lighter, a sweater, and a sleeveless coat. Mom got a package of lambaic (a sour beer made of fruit), a new cutting board, a new collander (which we all love using much better than the old one), and a new purse. Seth got new headphones, a new MP3, new shirts, a set of keys, and a new book for his drawings. Mandy got a UGA sweater, matching hat and gloves, a set of keys, a few keychains, and a notebook. I got a durable notebook with the Celtic scroll design on it that I'm still finding a use for, a gift card to Cato (which I spent on two shirts yesterday), a cute outfit from Cato, two keychains, earrings, a portable hard drive (there's a story behind it that I won't tell now) and a book called "Dead Men's Secrets" (which I read in two days). After opening presents, we ate breakfast and watched "Joyeux Noel", a foreign film about the Christmas ceasefire during World War 1 (very touching movie. See the Ramblings blog for a more detailed review). The Greers invited us over for lunch, and we enjoyed ourselves with talking, good food, and a tense game (forgot the name) between Seth and Caleb. After spending the afternoon there, Mandy stayed to spend the night while the rest of us went home.

On the 26th, we went to Grandpa Mike's house for the clan gathering there. There was the usual feast and the grazing and conversation. In the basement, the kids played video games. Noah, Mandy, Seth, and a non-blood relative played a multi-player Mario game; their commentary of "hey, leave me a penguin suit!" "hey, come here, Alex, and I'll throw you in the lava" "press A! No, you cowards!" "Mandy, you're going to debtors' prison for losing that many lives" was half the fun while I focused on a tetris game. We stayed there for a few hours then went home.

On the 27th (Sunday) we had the Bowman family over for lunch. This is a large family of 11 people, but we managed to fit around two tables. Mom made beef stroganoff, salad, rolls, lemon cheesecake, and a chocolate torte for the meal, and everyone seemed to like it. After lunch, we kids (both older and younger) went outside to play frisbee then later went on a little walk. We were all tired afterwards, but we thoroughly enjoyed it.

And that's what our Christmas was: busy yet fun. Lord willing, we're driving to Florida on Friday to visit Grandpa Large for a few days (and I'm hoping this cough goes away before then), and then we'll have one more week before we get back into our normal schedules. Well, mostly normal. I'm not going to college next semester, and I'm waiting to go back next fall. In the meantime, I'm hoping to find a job (I turned in several applications today for various places) to keep me busy.

I'll try to upload pictures of Christmas soon, if I can snag Seth's computer. In the meantime, I should get to bed and hope I sleep better tonight.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Begins

Well, we're just about ready for Christmas. As of Friday, everyone's Christmas shopping was done (finally! I hate shopping at the mall during the holidays; makes me feel claustrophobic), so we could focus on the white elephant party that evening. The party was a lot of fun, and we all enjoyed it. We played a couple of games, including paper telephone and movie charades, and towards the end we watched "Napoleon Dynamite." Mom tried a wassail recipe, and oh, it was delicious! Nothing like hot apple cider to brighten a cold and otherwise gloomy day. The elephant gifts went well, and I got a goldfish in the process. No, it wasn't dead, and in fact Artie (the fish that I've been forbidden to re-name) seems to be doing splendidly in his new glass bowl with fish-friendly water. One of the gifts that evening was the infamous mannequin head that Mandy calls "Erica." She and Bethany found it in a box years ago, and the thing creeps me out. It was a gag gift last year, and this year she made a comeback and is now back in our house. Cliff loved the Vienna sausage we gave him (I had the idea of putting it in a Victoria's Secret bag to see if I could scare anyone with it. It didn't work, but it was fun anyway), and people liked the ball hoop you could put on your head... well, as long as you're not wearing it and become the target. All in all, a good evening. The next day, Seth and Mandy went to a birthday party and saw "Avatar" with some friends afterwards, which they enjoyed.

With all the presents wrapped and such, now it's time to focus on the food aspect of Christmas. Mom bought two pumpkins, and since yesterday I've been helping her mash them up to make real pumpkin pie. So far, one pie has been made, and it looks delicious; we're going to try it out on the family on Christmas Eve. Not only that, but we're having the entire Bowman family over on Sunday (since their two oldest sons are visiting from Texas during that time), and so Mom's got the menu planned out. It looks to be a good yet busy weekend coming up.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


In light of the White Elephant party tomorrow, I finally snagged Seth's computer to upload pictures. Enjoy!

Corn Maze:




Party at the Bowmans:


Friday, December 11, 2009

O Christmas Tree

Sorry for the lack of posts. I've been busy with working on this 12 page history paper that's due next week (I can't believe that I couldn't find any books on the Byzantine empire. Thus I got stuck with the internet instead) and am battling a cold. On Monday I was feverish and just out of it, but on Tuesday I felt more functional. Right now I'm facing the dreaded dry cough. My defense? Vitamins and lots of water. Mandy also has been battling, but this time it is her teeth. The orthodontist put another wire in her mouth for whatever reason, and her gum is growing over it, which is causing some discomfort. I know she will certainly rejoice when her braces come off, as they have not been kind to her these past few years, but she has been a trooper.

Nothing much has happened this week or last except the Christmas tree on Saturday. For about a week, we had planned to get our tree, watch "A Christmas Story" (which has become an annual tradition), and have Zaxby's for dinner. The afternoon was bitter cold when we went to Home Depot to see what they had. Mandy was hilarious, trying to hold up these massive trees and nearly falling over at one point. After buying a tree we liked, we went home to decorate it. With the piano out of the room, we finally had enough space for a tree, as for a few years we never bought one. Then we watched the movie and ate supper. My favorite part about a real Christmas tree is its smell, how fresh and green it is; nothing compares to it, and I love it. The cats like the tree too... drinking from the water, that is. We're constantly refilling the bowl, but that's to be expected when you have seven beasts in the house.

Ok, back to work. Got to get this rough draft of the paper done today.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Well, I'll jot down this quick post before bed, else I will forget about it tomorrow.

Thanksgiving was wonderful. It was the first real family reunion that I've attended since returning from Houston, so it was nice to see everyone again. Mom made rolls and a huge batch of mashed potatoes, and there was plenty of food. Uncle Jason fried two turkeys (which were delicious), and then there was the stuffing and the gravy plus a bunch of side dishes. I don't think I've ever eaten so much potatoes and gravy and creamed corn in my life before. After the meal, the kids ran outside, but they soon returned inside when it proved to be very cold and windy. The adults sat around the table (there were about three or four tables that we joined together so everyone could see and talk to each other) and talked about various subjects like roughing it out in Montana or hilarious childhood memories from Dad and the uncles. We stayed there for about six hours before everyone began to depart. When we got home, it was around 7 PM, but it felt much later. We watched a couple of movies (well, I watched one of them. I was busy working on nano word count) before going to bed while Dad brewed.

On Friday, Mandy, Sunny, and I got together to spend the night with Grandma Linda. We spent a few hours in the later afternoon shopping for Christmas presents before going back to the house with Papa John's for dinner. Grandma taught us a new card game, and we had a blast with it, staying up late to see who would win. In the end, Grandma won, and even Mandy, who had been in the negative zone for the first few games, ended up with a higher score than me. Saturday dawned warm and sunny as we drove up to Tangier Outlets in Commerce for a few hours. It was packed there, but we found some good stuff. I bought a few things for myself, and I contemplated brown boots, which seem to be the fashion nowadays, but I'm waiting until after Christmas when they are sure to be much cheaper. The crowds started getting bigger and we were getting hungry, so we went to McDonalds for a late lunch then went home. All in all, a good weekend.

Otherwise, nothing much has happened since then. Mom and the kids went to a planetarium on Monday (which meant waking up at 6:30. Ugh), and they enjoyed it. I discovered that I have this week and next week of classes before finals, which is freaking me out a bit because I'm still trying to think of a topic for my 12-page history paper; once I know that and get the research, my fingers will fly. We're still talking about Plato in philosophy, which is still making my head spin though reading it I see subtle topics that are relevant and seen even in today's modern society. It's interesting, to say the least.

Well, I've got to get to bed. I've got to get to school early tomorrow for a longer philosophy class (because we spent one entire class period discussing good literature instead of Plato, so now we have to make it up. Thanks, John).