Alas, the mighty giant of 2007 has fallen and the cold days of winter surreptitiously buries it in a blanket of somber white snow. Of course, that is if you don't live in my neck of the woods where we are up to our knees in mud and muck. How was that intro? I was considering 'It was a dark and stormy night', but it was taken. Last year, I wrote a soliloquy of how I spent New Years Soaking in booze and the rapture of gluttony at the Family Friend Seliga's household. I spoke of how I would recant my professed allegiance with the sybarite ways of my heathen friends. Of course, I was quite accurate when I stated that all these promises and declarations made hovering over the toilet would be flushed away next year as quickly and cleanly as the refuse it was. Oddly enough, I was well behaved ... all things considered. Sure, there was a bit of drinking, and smoking cigars, and eating chunks of sugar-coated, deep-fried lard-balls. We discussed manly man activities and planned to go to the annual Sportsman's convention later in the month, only to find out that it had been moved from the usual local location to the wilds of central Pennsyltucky. Alas, it was the portend of an interesting year. Within days, I fully dislocated my right knee during karate practice. There I was, flailing about and writhing in some very real pain. Not the picture of manliness I like to project, mind you. Certainly, you should assume that the Twin Tyrants of Turpitude; Ghengis and Attila, took full advantage of my obvious weakness. Nothing draws the attention of a child like a joint brace that was not there the night before. Anything to gain an edge I me, I swear.
Shortly after my Birthday and the Tang So Doo test early in the month, I contracted some manner of highly infectious and rather persistent virus that settled in my chest and provoked a sinus infection. I was entirely useless for the rest of the month and ended up using two different inhalers just to get through. The Mrs was not entirely convinced that I was on death's door, but gave me the benefit of the doubt. Damn sickly husband, shirking his duties! In spite of my lack of effervescence, I continued to try to exhaust the Tyrants with double dipping Swimming every day followed by Karate practice, to no avail. I swear that aliens abducted them and replaced their innards with some sort of advanced black-hole energy source. The energizer bunny has nothing on these two.
The next month, the Mrs's Father came to visit. The children love to have Gung-Gung around. He must believe that we are raising the them as some sort of twisted psychological experiment. Every day he woke, he must have pondered what fresh hell he would be exposed to as they leaped on him at the truly warped hour of 0545. And speaking of grandparents, they got a lot of 'one on one' time this year with the 'can do no wrong' twins. They spent a week with them for summer vacation (vacation for us, mind you), another week when we flew out to Minnesota to reconnect with the ever burgeoning clan, and then yet another week when we all flew down to Disneyworld. Oh yes, that last trip was a rather spectacular experience. We learned all about the new TSA rules and what turbulence can do to Alexis's timid inner ear. We made great use of those free 'doggie bags' they have on the air planes. Of course, the opportunity to have a meet-n-greet with EVERY SINGLE PRINCESS on the Florida subcontinent made it all worth it. Jake, however, was thoroughly enchanted by the trip and the trip alone. Even though he did have a make-out session with various princesses and sullied their reputation. That was not the high-point of the mission for him. On the last leg of our return flight, he was even invited to survey the cockpit and 'play' with the buttons. Yeah, with today's regulation I would love to see anyone but that little conniver make their way into the inner sanctum of flight control.
I spoke earlier of the Karate Test early in the year. Since then, both Alexis and Jacob (code names: Attila and Ghengis) have tested successfully every three months along side of me. They are now both Green Belts and hot on my tail. They are now sparring in full gear and learning their first weapon forms with a staff. Needless to say, at 5 years old, they can be a rather formidable force but prefer to beat the tar out of each other when they have their gear on. This is good for my health and the welfare of my aging bones. I just barely beyond their level and have the opportunity to learn and practice what they know before they do. It keeps them interested and the rapid synchronous progression makes sure that the sibling rivalry does not become off-balance by the "I'm a higher rank than you" nonsense. Of course, if I manage to pick up another injury or virus, I'll be cow-towing to their on-the-mat demands! EGADS!
And then there is the Manor. We finally put most of the final touches on Jakes room and the Master Suite. Given that, we can start to consider the future of the various bath rooms and power rooms. These will be considerations on though since we had to purchase a new water heater around Memorial day. I had been interested in replacing the ancient paleolithic era unit we had with a new-fangled tankless version, but found that the clearance for the exhaust pipe would not be sufficient. I was fortunate in that when the heater unexpectedly failed (the bottom actually rusted out!), the ever prescient Hero Dad and Super Grandma were there to lend a hand. Saved a few bucks by replacing it ourselves, but had no other alternative since it failed the Sunday before Memorial Day. What were the odds of that!? Other budget dings came in the guise of a failed washer that may have been the result of a clothing label getting lodged in the sewer pipe. About 25 foot down into the line ... that was A LOT of fun snaking out. I smelled of rotting detritus for days after fishing it out. I would have insisted that the Mrs do the laundry by taking it down to the local tributary (if it were not for the damned gators that were discovered lurking along the banks!) and smacking it on the rocks ... but then she would have a weapon to smack me on the head. That, and I do the laundry so the logic is completely flawed.
Speaking of V8 head smacks, I made a few trips to the emergency room this year. Once for Alexis who smacked her hand with a hammer and got a few XRays and a splint for her trouble. From hence-forth, it was known that if you play with daddy's Death-Tools-Of-Doom, you will get a 'Fat Finger Tummy'. Not sure who cried more on that trip to the local chop-shop. Later in the year, we had purchased a new set of beds for everyone in the Manor. Yes, the children too. We finally ditched the Mile Wide Water Bed. It was wrecking my back and keeping it heated to the correct temperature was getting expensive. That and the durned thing leaked. So, the Mrs and I settled on a style that looked good in the room and was not too expensive. One night shortly after we had assembled it, I was picking up various bits of dirty laundry (haphazardly strewn across the floor by your's truly), and I bent over to fetch and errant sock, I stumbled. After a blinding shock charged through my head, I picked myself up from the floor and pondered what had happened. Then I started to feel the tell-tale throbbing pain of having been smacked in the head. Putting my hand to the offending location, it came back slick with blood. I had plowed my forehead directly into one of the posts at the foot of the new bed and opened up my eyebrow right down to the bone. Well, that little adventure got me to the front of the line at the emergency room. They get nervous about people sitting in the waiting room with gushing head wounds. Makes the other patients edgy when you stop moving. I was in and out in less than an hour with about 12 new bits of fishing line. Another year, another scar.
How about we recount some less horrific and gristly activities this past year. The garden got an early start around Mother's Day. Did extraordinarily well and we managed with a bumper crop of pumpkins and tomatoes. We still have carrots in the ground at this time. And speaking of greenery, the zoysia grass is starting to spread nicely. I hope to transplant it to the back-50 sometime soon since the hounds of hell have pretty much managed to poison every inch of lawn with their acid urine. Anti-agricultural pursuits were taken as well with the removal of a few diseased trees on our turf as well as the neighbor's. I had the chain-saw so I got to keep the wood and they did not have to pay for an arborist to soak them for $1500 a tree. Win-win. Well, except for the arborist who is SOL. Speaking of soaking, we went with the Season Passes to Sesame Place again this year. Managed to get there several times when the crowds were not too oppressive with the crashing waves of unwashed humanity. There were times that we did go which were educational experiences. Things came up regarding what tattoos are and what they look like after 60 years ... and what body form/swim garb combinations are considered fashion no-no's ... and in some cases, atrocities against humanity. My mind screams madly now just thinking of it.
The Tyrants started kindergarten this year and have adapted nicely to it. We have found that augmenting their in-school activities with regular reading and flash cards have helped them improve their reading skills and they are at a point where they can actually read entire pages of age appropriate books (with a touch of help). Math is a bit tougher unless we relate it to jelly beans available for consumption or countries ripe for conquest.
Let's wrap up the year with an oppressive load of saccharine sweet platitudes, shall we? Shortly after we got back from our Thanksgiving trek to the Family FOB in Ithaca, we ran out to the local mall (which one, eh?) to get the annual Real Santa Photo of the Tyrants ... only to find that he decided to take the year off! A slightly different Real Santa had taken his gig for the season. The children noticed immediately. I'm hoping that last years cage match between Jake and Old Saint Nick was not the impetus for this sabbatical. This time though, both the little ones smiled and told Santa what they would like to see under the tree. Something about 'dispatching our foes' or some other oddity. The remainder of the last of this bear of a year is spent of setting up the tree, shopping for non-toxic gifts and returning all the toxic ones as we discover them via our own lab tests. Yeah, we let the 'Labs'; Thor and Katie, lick them and if they don't like them, they are returned. Oh, and a bit about me. I've finally got my weight down to 185, I'm doing the Sunday School Sargent at Arms thing again and I get to work the support detail this year during Christmas. Take the good with the bad.
Have a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year (drink scotch, it loves you more). Love, Hope and TiVo - The Clan Haupertonian
Labels: Christmas, Family