Glenn's Junk Chest

An assortment of Glenn's writings, photography, gaming resources, flash movies, and other creative output.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Family: Christmas 2004

Well, my family and I went down to visit my in-laws in Missouri this year. The journey itself takes about 9 hours for us, and was a little more eventful than usual since there had been a heavy snowstorm there. Cape Girardeau has many strengths, but neither its citizens nor its infrastructure were quite up to the 14" or so of snow that got dumped on them for Christmas this year.

As we drove south out of St. Louis and into this blizzard, I was astounded afresh, as I am every year, at how bad people are about driving in adverse conditions. When I hit the slick, icy roads, I slowed down to what I thought was a reasonable 30-40 miles per hour in the right lane, which was somewhat clearer. That didn't stop people from trying to pass me at 60 in the ice-covered left lane, however, and I kept thinking as they wobbled past that I was going to see one of them crash right there in front of me. Thankfully, I did not, but we did see plenty of evidence that other drivers were not so lucky. We kept saying how drivers in Missouri didn't know how to cope with the conditions, but while there may be some truth to that, I tried to remind people Wisconsin has no shortage of people that drive like idiots as well.

Marble Trail
I enjoy the showmanship of the whole Santa Claus thing, but am kind of insistant that the illusion remain a little threadbare. I bought the children a box of marbles this year, and when my kids decided to leave out milk and cookies for santa, I left a trail of marbles from the base of the Tree around the room, under a table, and behind a sofa to the crumb-covered plate, where I left a note that said "Thanks". But when the kids needed to put the marbles away, I went and got the marble tin from my bedroom. I think that's the tone I want to set, little hints here and there, but nothing that overtly shatters the illusion before they're ready.

Despite my family not having as much money as we have in recent years, we managed to exchange some pretty nice gifts. In large part, this was due to Kit's generosity. Kit, a friend of ours who we game with regularly, has been working in an IS position at AmericanGirl for about a year now, and one of the perks of working there is a chance to grab some merchandise at year end. As a result, we were able to give each of the girls more presents that we had originally planned, including an awesome AG Minis boutique set and a Girls of Many Lands doll and book for each of them. (Spring Pearl and Leyla). The girls were very excited about these things. Thanks Kit!

AG Minis
Ivy's special present this year was an Easy-bake Real Meal Oven, which she'd asked for and was very excited about. I've played with it a bit with her, and I can see the appeal. So far, we've made some cookies, some mac and cheese, and a few mini-pizzas. I find myself wanting to hack it to make it hotter, because I'm finding it hard to get the pizza crusts to come out right. Still, it does work.

Rose's "most-wanted" present this year was a Glow-in-the-dark Care Bear. I'm as surprised at anybody at the sudden resurgence of interest in toys like Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake (not a work-safe link), and My Little Pony, but there's no question that it's what Rose really wanted. For more than a month, she's been telling everybody she can that she asked Santa for a "Glow-up Care Bear". She's usually pretty understandable, but a lot of people were thinking she was saying "Blow-up Care Bear", and it was funny seeing them try to figure out exactly what that was. We got her Bedtime Bear, and each night before bed, we charge it up for her by holding it up by the light.

I got Liana two things she wanted. Firstly, I got her the X-men Legends game for the Gamecube, but I threw it in with another cheap used game so that the package would look like the Return of the King Extended Edition. Secondly, I got her the ROTK extended edition, but I wrapped an audio tape into the gift with it so that the package wouldn't look like what it was. It all felt very devious.

Happy Rose in Snow
Liana and I got her parents a nice kitchen knife. We usually end up doing a lot of cooking when we visit there, and every time I needed to cut up meat or vegetables, I tripped over the fact that their knives were either small or serrated. (I will spare regaling you with the many horrors that a serrated knife visits upon both the vegetables and the cutting surface beneath.) I don't know if the gift will convince them of the merits of having good cutlery, but I used it a few times before I left, and it's really nice. Hopefully they enjoy using it.

I myself recieved a spanking new Nintendo DS. I'm was especially excited by this because I had steeled myself not to expect it because it was really stretching our available budget. It's pretty awesome. I've been playing Super Mario 64 DS and Ridge Racer DS on it, and am eagerly looking forward to the new implementation of the best GameBoy Advance game, Advance Wars DS, even though it's not out until late in the year. Just looking at the little 3D rendered graphics on the thing makes me drool over the potential titles that might be coming. I hear the PSP is supposed to be even more impressive. I can hardly wait. (Fortunately, the fact that the DS has a slot for GBA games means that the waiting won't be too painful.)

One of the best parts is that Super Mario 64 DS is a really, really great game that I somehow missed entirely back when I used my Nintendo 64 more heavily. They've apparently juiced it up during the port, but I get all the advantages of playing a really great game on my new handheld without having to replay something I've already done.


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