Saturday, December 31, 2011

Wild New Year's Party

Here is a picture of our wild New Year's Eve party. The boys wanted to stay up until the ball dropped in New York but Marshall only made it to about 9pm before he was asleep. Clancey on the other hand is still awake and playing games on his tablet. I think Clancey thinks when the ball drops its going to be dropped from the roof of a building and crush something so I imagine he is going to be pretty disappointed when it finally does drop. Although I have to say that it would way more exciting if it was tossed off the empire state building on to a bunch of cars. While our party isn't a wild affair I can't think of a better way to spend the turn of the New Year then to spend it with the family. :-D

Trip To The Mall

With Christmas just getting over it seems like it doesn't make sense to the mall but the kids enjoy walking around the mall so it made sense to go. We've visited a number of stores so far. The video game store, the sports store, and the book store. We've had a fun day so far and the kids may each come home with something but I'm sure mommy won't care too much. Marshall found a book about aliens he really wanted and I can hardly deny the kid books when he is the ravenous reader that he is and of course I had to get Clancey a book too. Been a fun day so far.

Clancey Riding The Carousel

When we got to the mall Clancey spotted the carousel right away and wanted to ride it. Marshall on the other hand knew his stomach probably couldn't handle it so he sat it out. As much as Clancey wanted to ride when it first started he looked a nervous but as the ride went on he started to really enjoy it, as you can see from the picture.

Boy Day

It had been quite awhile since the boys and I had gone out on a boy trip together, plus after being home all week Jen was probably ready to kick me out of the house for awhile. As a change of pace the boys and I headed down to Iowa City instead of our standard trip to Cedar Rapids. Like nearly every boy trip we headed over to Panchero's for lunch before we headed over to Coral Ridge mall to walk around a bit. Not sure where we are going to go in the mall but I'm sure we will find something to do. I'm thinking we will stop by the video game store and book store for sure but beyond that I dont know. I guess we will just play it by ear and see where the day takes us.

Go Playing Master

Marshall is turning into a Go playing master and beating me pretty consistently now. We haven't advanced to playing full Go yet, we are playing capture 3 right now but I'm not sure it really matters. If he can beat me consistently at capture 3 I'm assuming he will beat me at full Go to, once he got the hang of the additional objectives. With Chess I've been playing it for years and have a huge advantage on Marshall but with go we are both starting from the beginning and his extraordinary intelligence is showing because he is picking up the game strategies way faster then me. The kid is just a natural. It sure is fun to play a game with Marshall that is a challenge for us both, I can see us playing a lot of Go together in the future. Thanks Chad.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Third Harry Potter Book

Tonight about a half hour after I put the boys in bed I heard one of them coming down the stairs. We've never had any issues with the boys not staying in bed so I was curious why on of them would be coming down the stairs. I look up and see that its Marshall, he is carrying his latest Harry Potter with him and he is wearing a big smile on his face. Well Marshall was coming down stairs because he had just finished the third Harry Porter book and wanted to trade it for the forth one. Plus I think he wanted to make sure that Jen and I knew that he had finished yet another book. That kid never ceases to amaze me and I can't tell you how proud of him that I am.

Chad And Laura Visit

Today Chad, Laura and Cecilia made their annual visit to see us. Like I said in my earlier post we hadn't seen them since last December so it had been quite a while. They keep a blog similar to mine which means we are able to keep up with their lives even though they are all the way out in California. Have to love social media as it let's you stay in touch even when you are a long ways away. It was good to see then again today and just catch up. Chad bought Marshall a Go board for Christmas and then took some time to teach is both to play. Turns out Marshall is quite good at go and beat me a number of times. I'm going to have to practice so my 7 year old son isn't constantly beating me. Cecilia is as cute as a button and I think she had a good time playing with the boys. In fact when she left she gave Clancey a whole bunch of hugs and didn't want to go. All and all it was a fun day and we can't wait to see them again.

Boys Are Home

About an hour ago the boys got home from there visit at mema and papa's and just in time to see Cecelia. Today Chad, Laura and Cecilia are coming out to visit us to have lunch and hang out for a while. Chad and Laura are friends from college who got a jobs in California after graduation and once a year at Christmas time they make the trek back to visit everyone. Its been a year since the last time we saw them and we are looking forward to seeing them. Clancey is especially excited to see Cecelia and, in fact, has been waiting at the front door waiting for them to show up.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Afternoon Out

On the last day that the kids were going to be at mema and papa's Jen and I used the afternoon to run some errands and go out to eat. Tomorrow we have some college friends that live in California coming to visit us so we thought we should run into Cedar Rapids to get some food for their visit. Plus as good as the kids are it is just easier to get groceries and run errands without them in tow. I also wanted to go and price treadmills out to see how much a good one would cost. After we got all the stuff done on the west side of town we headed over to the east side and had pizza at zoeys's. I'm not sure you can say you have ever had a good Chicago style pizza until you've eaten at Zoey's their pizza is absolutely amazing. We dont make it there much but when we do it is worth the trip. Once we were done there we got our groceries at Aldi and made our way home. Not too bad of day.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Pain Cave Command Center

While my pain cave didn't change a whole lot, I did get it cleaned up and got my stereo put up. As you can see I also moved the shelf that was in front of my bike to the other room to make more room in the pain cave. Now my pain cave is clean has plenty of room and can be dedicated to hard training. Its nice to have a clean basement again for another year at least. :)

Cleaning The Basement

Today Jen and I are spending time doing our annual basement clean up. Its not as bad as it was last year but it still did manage to get pretty cluttered over the course of the last year. We just got a dumpster delivered again this year. We have filled a dumpster full of stuff every year for the past 3 years and we still seem to find more stuff every year to throw out. We will try to have the dumpster gone before Friday when papa gets here so he doesn't have to see "the good stuff" we are getting rid of. Once we get the basement clean I'm going to attempt to build a table for my workout room so I can set my stereo up and put a new TV in. Possibly put a new space heater in as well. Sure be nice to not have to workout in a 55 degree room in the middle of winter. I'll keep the blog posted on the progress we make today.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


So what do you do when you have the whole house to yourself and have no kids around? That's right people, you take some time to yourself and relax. This afternoon after we got home Jen and I took some time to ourselves and did some reading. I've been reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and Jen has been reading the help. Kind of feels good just to sit on the couch and enjoy a good book without being interrupted ever few minutes by kids who need something. That happens more to Jen then to me so she is really enjoying her down time. Plus I think the kids enjoy being spoiled at mema and papa's. I'm quite sure that Clancey never has to eat anything he doesn't want which means he eats an awful lot of cinnamon rolls. Well o better get down and get my bike ride done so I can enjoy my relaxation the rest of the night. Maybe later Jen and I will fire on movie, kick our feet up, and enjoy the bottle of wine I got her for Christmas. :)

Birthday Lunch At Hickory Park

On our way home from mema and papa's, without the boys, Jen and I decided to stop at Hickory Park for a birthday lunch for her. Has become somewhat of an annual for Jen and I to stop here on our way home from Christmas with mema and papa. It isn't that often that we get to go out with just us. Not that the boys misbehave or anything but it is nice to have a meal and have adult conversation the whole time. Although to be honest a lot of it focuses on the kids and how awesome they are but still we get to talk about it with just the two of us which is nice. Now its time for the long trek back across the state and then we get to spend the next couple of days cleaning the basement, which has become somewhat of an annual thing too.

Video Chat

This morning when the boys got up they were messing with their new tablets and Clancey figured out how to do video chat. He was pretty excited to be able to see people he was talking to on the screen. I think I got about 15 video call requests in 5 minutes. I'm thinking I may regret teaching him how to use video chat very quickly when I'm at work and he is trying to call me ever two minutes. ;) Mema and papa are going to love it because they can talk to Clancey everyday if they want. I bet papa ans Clancey will be talking everyday.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Jen's Birthday

After we got done opening presents we decided to celebrate Jen's birthday a day early. Mema made a great dinner of roast, potatoes and green bean casserole. Part our after dinner entertainment was watching papa watch LMAFO Sexy and I Know It on YouTube. If you have never seen this video you should go look it up and watch it right now, it is funny as hell. Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, yeah! One good thing about the holidays being over is we will finally be done stuffing ourselves with food. After this last meal I am officially stuffed and done eating for a while. It is going to take weeks of out season training to take all of this weight off. I guess that is what the holidays are all about.

More Presents

We just got done opening the last presents of the year. The picture above is of the boys modeling their new hand knitted hat and scarves that mema made them. It is amazing that people can actually knit stuff like this, it looks so darn complicated. Mike and Michelle made it over and it was good to see them. The boys scored well again and had a good time. Now let the count down begin for next Christmas only 365 days to go, remember this is a leap year.

Made It To Mema And Papa's

After a three hour drive across the state we made it to mema and papa's for our last Christmas of the year. First thing when we got here Clancey wanted to show papa his red Angry Bird and then show him how you play the real game on his new tablet. Marshall as you can see was on the phone asking Mike and Michelle when they were going to get here so we could open gifts. They said they weren't going to be here for a while so we had plenty of time to eat some lunch. Plus it gave me some time to torture the kids a little about not getting to open presents until after supper. ;)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

New Pajamas

I couldn't resist putting up a picture of the boys in there new pajamas that they got for Christmas. Pretty hard to not think that a kid in footy pajamas is cute as a button.

End Of A Long Day

Here we are at the end of Christmas day once again and it was a great day. After we had a late turkey dinner we loaded the boys along with their new scooters in the Subaru and headed to Tipton. I needed to run some intervals and with it being 45 degrees out I thought it would be nice to run them on the track instead of my crappy treadmill in the basement. Jen thought it would be a good idea to bring the boys along so we could get outside and the boys could ride their scooters. The intervals went surprisingly well considering I had just eaten a huge turkey dinner and did a 2 hour workout yesterday on my bike. I'm looking forward to my day off tomorrow, this week's workouts were some of the toughest to date. Tomorrow we will be making the trek across the state to visit mema and papa for our last Christmas of the year and then Tuesday we will be celebrating Jen's birthday. We will also be heading home on Tuesday and leaving the boys with mema and papa for a couple of days so Jen and I can get a couple days to get some stuff done around the house ans possibly go on a couple dates. Should be a fun week.

Christmas Morning 2011 Part #1

Christmas Morning 2011 Part #2

Christmas Morning 2011 Part #3

Christmas Morning 2011 Part #4

Christmas Morning 2011 Part #5

My Fine Bird

After about a 20 minute argument about who actually cooked the turkey, neither one of us wanted to claim credit cause that meant we were stuck for life with turkey cooking duties, we finally settled that it was me. Since I put the turkey in the bag and then into the oven the credit was officially given to me so now I am the official turkey cooker now. Turns out that the turkey is freaking awesome. Could be the best turkey I've ever eaten in my life. Can't wait until the green bean casserole and potatoes are done so we can start our fancy Christmas dinner. :)

Enjoying The Day

Here is a picture of everyone enjoying the afternoon in their own way. Jen reading her new book, the boys playing a game that they got and, you can't see it, but I was watching my new Taylor Swift concert DVD on the TV. It is nice to just be able to sit back and enjoy some down time. No things lingering out there that need done, no drama, just enjoying being together and having a good day.

Marshall The Track Designer

Right after we got done unwrapping presents and Marshall played some Angry Birds first thing he wanted to do was clean up the den so he could build a track. Marshall is very creative when it comes to designing railroad tracks and has done some amazing things in the past. Now with a huge new box of tracks he is going to make some huge tracks and likely city's to surround them. I see community and regional planning in his future. Maybe after his PHD's in astrophysics and meteorology.

Preparing The Christmas Turkey

This morning I got stuck with turkey preparation duty since Jen didn't really want to deal with it. I figured since I requested it that it was only fair that I get it ready to go in the oven. Making turkey is way easier these days in the era of baking bags. Before you had to put it in the oven and then keep basting it in an attempt to keep it from drying out. Now days you just put it in a baking bag and forget about it until it is done. Heck even I can make a good turkey dinner that way. Now we only have to wait a couple hours until it is done.

Christmas Morning

After all the anticipation here it is Christmas morning and the boys were excited as heck to get to opening presents.  I was quite surprised both of the boys slept in until 7am before they came in to the bedroom to see if Jen and I were awake.  I was being naughty so I pretended to be asleep to see what they would do.  Turns out that they just came in peaked at us and then thought it best to not wake us up.  At that point they went into their bedroom turned out their clock/radio and started having a dance party to Christmas music.  Finally Jen couldn't stand it anymore and had to get out of bed and tell boys it was time to open presents.

Before Elfy left last night to head back to the North Pole for the year he left the boys another gift right by their beds.  Kind of creepy to think that small little red elf was walking around the boys bedroom at night. This time it was a gift basket with cookies, a game and some bath soap for them.  Apparently Elfy thought the boys stunk and needed baths being here for the month of December.

Of course every good Christmas celebration has to start with the opening of stockings.  The boys were pretty happy with the contents of their stockings and Clancey got the candy cane that he has been telling everyone he wanted from Santa.  In fact, Santa brought Clancey 24 candy canes so he is going to have plenty to last him for a while.  For Jen Santa was really nice.  He brought Jen a book she has been wanting, The Help, the new Adele CD, and a bottle of her favorite wine.  Sounds like one day that the boys are gone Jen is going to want to kick me out of the house and Jen kick back and relax by herself.
Finally after all the waiting the boys got to dive into their presents and let me tell you Santa was generous this year.  The boys got a whole bunch of nice things.  Marshall got a bunch of new books, some blocks, Tinker Toys, more railroad tracks, and some clothes.  Clancey got a Red Angry Bird, some blocks, Monster Truck Hotwheels, some cool T-shirts and some books of his own.  I'm not sure I named all the gifts but there were so many I can't remember them all.  I may have to gather all the presents together with the kids and take a picture just so we can remember them all.  Jen got a new art video projector for her sign making business.  I probably should have given it to her earlier when she had that nearly dozen signs that she had to paint.
After all the other presents were done I got out the presents I had picked out for the boys.  After the last few months of letting my kids borrow my Xoom all the time I got them each a tablet of their own.  This turned out to be an Angry Bird Christmas all around.  Angry Birds toys, Angry Birds clothes, and finally Angry Birds the game for them to each have.  I have this sneaking suspicion that we are going to be seeing a lot of the top of their heads in the coming days as they stare continually down at their new gadgets.  All in all it has been a great Christmas so far and I'm happy that everyone loved their new gifts.  Now we get to spend the rest of the day playing with all of our new things and just enjoy being a family.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Message 2011

Kids In Bed

Well we put the reindeer dust out, read The Night Before Christmas, and put the kids in bed. Now Jen and I are wrapping some last minute gifts, watching A Christmas Story and waiting for Santa Claus to arrive. All in all it was a good day and a great Christmas season. The worst part about Christmas getting here is that after all the build up it is over just like that. I think the kids are going to go crazy over their presents tomorrow. Now that the kids are in bed I can let the cat out of the bag and tell you I bought both of the boys their own Android Tablets for Christmas. They play with mine endlessly and now they will each have one of their own.

Christmas Eve Afternoon

When I got home from my annual trip to Walmart Clancey was still down for his nap which, by the way, he went down very well for.  In fact he raced me up the stairs and jumped right into bed.  I think Clancey realized that if he went to sleep the faster the day would go and the quicker tomorrow would be here.  As you can see Marshall was fully engrossed in playing video games on the Xbox.

Jen, bathed in the heavenly light, was relaxing and organizing pictures on her laptop.  I think the light was like this because it was surreal to actually see Jen just sitting down and relaxing for once.  She has been going nonstop since about Thanksgiving so for Jen to sit and relax it deserves light from the heavens.
Finally after talking about it for two days Marshall and I sat down for our chess game.  Marshall is getting really good at chess and I have to pay attention or he takes advantage of me.  The game ended up as a tie after I ended up making a couple poor moves and lost a couple of key pieces early.  By the very end we each had a knight, 4 pawns and a king.  Neither Marshall or I are good enough to win with that selection of pieces and we called it a draw.  Not bad for a 7 year old.

Annual Walmart Trip

I just got back from my annual last minute trip to Walmart and it wasn't as busy as I thought it would be. Turns out that if you want to find eggnog on Christmas eve you are pretty much out of luck. I went to 2 stores and there was none to be found. I did manage to find some french fried onions for our green bean casserole tomorrow. I did also find a few last minute Christmas gifts for the wife so she should be pleased. Now its time for some chess with Marshall and I probably should find some time to actually wrap some my gifts at some point today. I think I'll wait until later, wouldn't want to ruin my streak of doing things at the last minute. ;)

Lunch Time

Here we are at the start of our day of consuming large amounts of calories eating lunch. We decided we should have something that resembles real food today before we spend the rest of the day eating treats. We just put Clancey down for a short nap and while he is down I'm going to make my trip to Walmart and then play chess with Marshall. Once he wakes up we will play some kinect bowling and I can once again show my kinect bowling supremacy.

The Elf Situation

Let The Fun Begin

After 2 hours spent in the pain cave doing a bike/run brick, no off days for the Ironman,  the fun can begin. I just set the computer up so the boys and I can track Santa Claus as he makes his way around the world. Right now he is over in Nepal delivering gifts and won't be here for a while yet so we have some time for fun. First thing I'm going to cut up some meat and cheese while Jen makes some guacamole and then some of her spinach artichoke dip at my request. Once we are done with that I'm thinking it will be game time. Maybe some kinect bowling and for sure some chess with Marshall. Later today I have to make my annual trip to Walmart for some last minute shopping too. Going to be a fun day. :)

Remembering Christmas Past

This morning I was looking through old blog posts from Christmas and came across this video of Clancey dancing in Family Foods with some duck bubbles that we ended up leaving the store with. Sorry for the blurring video but technology just wasn't as good as it is now days when I took this video.

Christmas Eve

I can't believe that tomorrow is already Christmas day and as you can see the naughty little elf left us a mess to pick up last night. Here is the note that he left us.
"Marshall and Clancey,
I've so enjoyed my time at your house, and to show you how much I've asked Mrs Claus to make her special cinnamon bread for your toast.
Please enjoy these mugs for your cocoa. For now it us almost time for me to go. But before I do I must tell you what I like most... a snowy, white Christmas. Look what I made for you....just like at the North Pole.
Your Friend,
Since he left the boys some nice treats I guess I won't be too mad at the elf but I'll be keeping my eye on him for next year.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Decorating Christmas Cookies 2011

Decorating Cookies

We are in the midst if our treat making frenzy and as you can see we may have gone a little crazy. We have a ton of everything and probably enough sugar treats to keep the boys up for the next week. Be sure to remind me when the kids are acting like crazy loons that it is partly fault for requesting all of these things. Although i have to admit that Jen and I are as excited for Christmas day as the boys are. I think they are really going to like there gifts. Which, if Marshall wasn't an expert reader, I would tell you about but since he is you are going to have to wait to find out just like the boys have too.

Exit Sign Painter Jen, Enter Baker Jen

Jen is finally done with painter all of the signs that needed done before Christmas and now she has moved on to making treats for our big celebration tomorrow. I guess she doesn't actually get to rest but now the boys and I benefit directly from her efforts. Plus we won't make her stay up until 2am making treats for us, that is unless she doesn't get done.;) just kidding. So far she has gotten the cookie dough made, cupcakes baked, and the crust for her vegetable pizza. Next up is baking the cookies while I make almond bark pretzels and the meat and cheese tray. On a side note I decided to take the day off from working out since tomorrow is one of the toughest workouts of the year. It is a 1.5 hour long vo2 max ride followed by a 30 minute run. My plan is to try and get up early and get it done before I start stuffing my face full of treats. That means I better not stay up too late playing video games or I won't get out of bed.

Christmas Eve Eve

Today it is 2 days until Christmas and Marshall's first full day off from school. The plan for the day is to spend the day getting all the treats ready for tomorrow, once Jen gets out of bed. The crazy lady was up until 2am finishing the last of the signs she had to get done before Christmas so now she can start actually enjoying the holiday some. On the treat docket we have, sugar cookies, almond bark pretzels, meat and cheese tray and finally Clancey requested cupcakes. I'm thinking tomorrow I'm going to gain a few pounds. Today I'm sure the kids are going to be bouncing off the wall with excitement but to be honest so will Jen and I. I think everyone is excited for the holiday.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pre-Christmas Present

The boys each got a $20 bill sent to them from their Grandma Naida for Christmas and since we were headed into Cedar Rapids to get our goodies for Christmas eve Jen told the boys they could each pick something out. Right now the boys are in the hot wheel isle trying to decide which hot wheel set they want. Looks like they are going to decide on the double loop set for Clancey and Marshall is going to get a Harry Potter game for his DS. Nothing like getting to pick a present out 3 days before Christmas. :)

Clancey And I Hanging Out

With this being Marshall's last day if school and both Clancey and I already on Christmas break we are spending the day together hanging out. As with any holiday break we both had to have our festive hats on to celebrate the fact that Christmas is only 3 days away now. Now poor Jen, on the other hand, has not actually sat down for a second this whole week. Most of her time has been spent trying to finish the dozen or so signs she had to get painted before Christmas break. Hopefully she will finally be done today so she can just relax and enjoy a little of the holiday season.

This afternoon, after Marshall gets done with school, the plan is to head into cedar rapids for a bit so we can pick up all the goodies we plan on having for our Christmas eve celebrates. I'm thinking I should probably stop procrastinating and head downstairs to get my bike ride in so I can actually enjoy the rest of the day without my workout hanging over my head.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Let Christmas Break Begin

Above I've pictured the official items of a quality Christmas vacation, the newest Elder Scrolls Game, my choice in caffeine, and beef sticks. Tonight after the kids go to bed my plan is to stay up most of the night playing Skyrim while i consume large amounts diet dew. I will also get credit for staying up late with the wife while she paints the rest of the signs she needs to get done before Christmas. Sounds like the perfect night to me.

Clancey's Eye Pre-op

Today Jen and I headed to Iowa City for Clancey's pre-op appointment for his surgery on January 13th. The appointment went good like it always does, everyone there just loves Clancey. Clancey is a bit nervous about having surgery and really doesn't want to do it. Last time it was a bit easier because he was to young to know what was going on but now he knows and is scared about it. He is a tough and brave kid I'm sure he will do great at it even if he is scared about it. We will just focus on Christmas for now and then worry about surgery once we get to January. Right now it is all about enjoying the holiday. :)

Let Christmas Break Begin

Today is the official start of my Christmas break and it could come none to soon. It sure is nice that once a year I get two weeks off from work and can just relax and not worry about it for a while. Tomorrow Marshall gets out of school early and break will officially begin for the whole family. We have big plans to play lots of games, eat lots of treats and just have some fun as a family. Also today marks the official start of my Christmas beard. Every year during Christmas break I forgo shaving for the duration and grow the Christmas beard. Last year I think I got sick of it and ended up shaving it off a bit early but this year I plan to try and stick it until the very end. Being I haven't shaved for a couple days already I'm thinking it is going to be quite the beard by the end. I'll be sure to post a picture of it at the very end so everyone can see how it turns out.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Lunch In Cedar Rapids

Today I decided to take the day off work and go to the doctor to see if he could give me anything to help with my neck pain. The doctor agreed that he thought it was the muscle and that it was likely stress related. He prescribed me a muscle relaxant and some physical therapy on it. He also said I would be able to take ibuprofen along with this muscle relaxant so hopefully I can make it into work tomorrow. Although I'm not sure it is that necessary to get into work tomorrow since its Christmas week and most people are already on vacation. If nothing else it will give me a chance to catch up on things that I'm behind on that I don't normally have a chance to do since I spend most of everyday in meetings.

Once we got done at the doctor I took the family out for lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant before we headed home. Can't go wrong with a good Mexican lunch :)