Pancake (2003-2017)

Our Pancake was selective. We always joked about how he would rub against our guests’ legs but hiss if they touched him. It took years for our best friends to become “acceptable” to him. And, I’m not sure he ever met a vet that he didn’t injure. (Sorry about that to all his vets, by the way.)

But for me, he was like putty. He would sit politely at my feet and look expectantly at me until I acknowledged him. When I tapped the arm of the couch, he’d hop up and sit next to me, cozy and content, under my arm like I was a spy movie villain and he my faithful minion. If I was sitting on the bed, he’d sit with his tail or leg touching me, just to be sure I was there. When my husband and I slept, he slept between us until it was time for his evening rounds. He led us upstairs every morning and evening; I still “see” him at the top of the stairs sometimes or darting around a corner ahead of me. I miss him so much.

He flew across the country with me, from Chicago to Seattle. He lived in three different places over our time together, one of them a temporary apartment. He could have freaked out about that, but he didn’t. For him, home was wherever we were. He loved to watch birds. He loved kicker toys. He loved being up high and sleeping in sunshine. He loved us. He protected us, from threats both laser and insect.

We adopted him when he was three. We held him in our arms and said goodbye when he was fourteen. We will love him always. We are so proud to have been his home and so happy he chose us.

Thanksmisukah

This has been a whirlwind of trips. We spent Thanksgiving weekend in Detroit, mostly. We visited with family, and we gave out Hanukkah gifts (and received some from our close family on that side). Getting to see the adorable nephews was awesome. I can’t believe AN1 is going to be old enough for his Bar Mitzvah next year! He’s almost taller than I am. AN2 is a hoot. He’s even more of a ham than AN1 was at his age, which is hard to imagine but still true. On our way home, we stopped for an overnight in Indiana. This was one of the first Thanksgiving trips in MI/IN that we’ve done where there hasn’t been snow. There were some flurries in Detroit at one point, but nothing stuck. I skipped out on the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, mainly because they just weren’t that good this year.

Right after Thanksgiving weekend, DH had to go to Vegas for a bit, which gave me time to work on the job hunt. Right after DH got back from Vegas, we hopped on a plane to Asheville, NC to visit a casino down there and then drive to Charleston, SC to visit with my family. Asheville is a really pretty area. I wish we’d had more time there to explore, but I was eager to head down to SC.

For this SC trip, we had decided to rent a house out on Kiawah. DH was doing the Kiawah Islands Half-marathon to close out his 13.1-in-13.1 goal for the year, so having a place on the island was going to be convenient for him to get to the race start. It also allowed us to all be in one place for gaming and such. My parents fed us homemade food all weekend, which was awesome. It was too chilly for the beach or swimming, though still shorts weather for those of us acclimatized to northern reaches. DH and I enjoyed a nice walk around the island at one point, and he even did 20 miles on the day after his half marathon in preparation for running the Goofy in WDW in January.

DH completes 13.1 Half-Marathons in 13.1 States!

We introduced my parents to Ascension and played Empire Builder a few times. We also played sillier games like Zombie Fluxx. Mostly, we enjoyed each other’s company. 🙂

And, I have to say that while the vacation rental wasn’t as easy-breezy as the All Star Vacation Home in Orlando, it was still an awesome experience and certainly a great value. Per night, it was less than staying in a single hotel room on Kiawah would have been, and it was about the equivalent in cost of having two hotel rooms at normal to average city rates. We had a three bedroom house on stilts overlooking a small pond. There were three separate outdoor tables as well as a big dining table inside and a small table in the kitchen. Each bedroom had a small TV, and the main room had a big TV. I’m really thinking that I might try to coordinate “TravelCon” at some point, where I get a bunch of gamer friends together and we get a house at some scenic location but mostly have the intent to play games and socialize all weekend.

All in all, we had a good holiday season, and we were pretty much done with the holidays by mid-December, which was nice. 🙂

Happy Pancake’s Day!

This is the anniversary of our adoption of Pancake. 🙂 We’ve had Pancake for 5 years now, so it’s a very special anniversary. To celebrate, Pancake got a new bamboleo toy and tuna for dinner!

I recently read a post called, “Thanks a lot, asshole.” If you haven’t already read it, go check it out now. I’ll wait. 🙂

I decided to do my own version for Pancake’s Day:

Five years ago, I adopted Pancake from the wonderful Tails of Hope shelter, and they had gotten him because he’d been abandoned. Despite having been in a loving foster home, Pancake was very scared.
pancake_sink
Being in a carrier terrified him, and as that’s the only safe way to transport a cat from place to place, he was spending lots of time in the carriers to be shown to people. He was angry, and he would lash out at people who were interested in adopting him because he was in a carrier at the time. He did the same thing with us at first.

After we got to know each other, Pancake came to trust us. Now, he sleeps in our bed. He gets up every now and then to patrol the house, but every morning when I wake up, he’s right there, ready for head pats and nuzzling as I become awake. When we go out of town, he misses us so much that he follows us from room to room when we get back and howl-meows if he loses track of us. And here’s the thing…he’s the best cat. Seriously. I never had to train him to not go on counters when I’m cooking or not to beg for food; he just knows. He doesn’t shred things that he shouldn’t (at least not on purpose). I have been able to change his food, his litter, to move him temporarily into a different room…no problems. The one time he got out to explore the giant outdoors, he came dashing back home, even though it had only been his home for a brief time.

This is Pancake now:

So, although I say FUCK YOU to whoever abandoned him, I also say thank you for giving me the opportunity to meet and love this cat. He is loyal, protective, loving and affectionate. He’s amazing. So yeah, thanks, asshole. Couldn’t have done it without you.

My boys are sickly :(

Those who follow my tweeting may have seen that the two most important males in my life, DH and Pancake, are both in need of surgery. 🙁

For DH, he is getting a bullectomy. I’d love to link you to a site explaining it, but much googling (and binging) has led me to few if any results. I mean, there’s one site that talks about it in reference to emphysema (which is apparently the most common way to end up with a giant bullae in your lung) or to COPD (other common way), but neither of those apply to DH. DH has a congenital bullae. It is possible that he’s had it for 2 years or 20 years. It’s caused by a weakness in one area of the lung that causes a pocket to form where there shouldn’t be one, hence being common in patients with emphysema (b/c that weakens the lung tissue). It isn’t causing him any immediate breathing problems or stress, but it could burst or become infected (the latter being more likely) at any point and cause him lots of pain and potential lung collapse. The thoracic specialist/surgeon said that if DH were in his 70s, they might not bother with it, but with him being in his 30s, the chances of it becoming bad are higher. So, to remove the large bullae, what they do is go in kind of like they did for my gall bladder (although they won’t blow him up the same way…they’ll collapse his lung and get room to work that way, from what I’ve read…I watched a video of it being done), with camera and instruments. First, before they cut in, they’ll send a camera down his throat and into his lung to verify that it’s where and what they think it is from the cat scan. Then, assuming it is, they’ll do the bullectomy using 3 small incisions for camera and instruments, triangulated to allow them to work without tripping over each other. They’ll basically remove the air from the bullae, and there’s some other bits, too, but the point being, they’ll make it so his lung can inflate fully again. He’ll be in the hospital for 2-3 days following the surgery, and during that time, he’ll have a chest tube. The surgeon said he’d be able to work again in about a week but that it’ll take 3-4 weeks for him to be at 100%. DH and I still need to talk more about the plan for this. He came home for awhile, but he was restless and wanted to go to work. 🙂 So, he’s at the casino now, and he and I will figure out the details later…but surgery is scheduled for 7/6. It’s very likely that I will work remotely from the hospital during that week, though I need to check in with work on that…I may also just take the week off so I don’t have to worry with it, but problem is we have a project milestone that I need to be there for during that week, so…well, point being, it’s a TBD situation.

While DH was finding this out, I was at the vet with Pancake. I’d been neglectful and not taken him in for a checkup for ~18 months. (I’d taken him in because he had a bump on his head during the summer last year, but I hadn’t scheduled a check-up b/c Banfield ticked me off during that visit…and then my work project (now cancelled) kicked in and I lost track of time until now. Point being, I was a bad cat parent. 🙁 ) So, I was taking him a new vet that is a cat-only practice. And around the same time I made the appointment, coincidentally, his breath got really nasty smelling. I’d changed his cat food, so I changed it back, but the really nasty breath persisted, so I asked them to take a good look at his teeth, figuring he probably needed a cleaning and he’s at the age where I might need to start brushing his teeth. But, it was worse than that. He has advanced periodontal disease. His gums are all pus-filled and nasty. He’s already lost two of his small grooming teeth in the front. 🙁 And I feel terrible because if we’d caught this earlier, it’d be better. Plus, he’s probably been in pain, although, as cats do, he’s hiding it. He’s been eating dry food and such, and his appetite is strong and healthy. But, anyways, this is why yearly check-ups are important, because this sort of thing can sneak up on you. He probably had some plaque build-up that just got worse without care and I didn’t realize it. 🙁 Anyways, so he’s getting a full cleaning on Monday and they may have to take his teeth out if any of them have more than 50% decay. The vet said his gums are receding badly, that there’s a bump on his canine teeth that is visible that shouldn’t be visible, so she suspects that he will have some teeth that have to be removed. The good news is that this doesn’t really affect his lifestyle. Even with no teeth, he can still eat both soft and hard food. It may change his face structure a little, but generally, the most important thing is that he won’t be in pain. And I feel like a total jerk, because I let it get to this point, unknowingly, but still. I should have known better, and he should have been seen 6-8 months ago, and maybe we wouldn’t have gotten to this point. Granted, Maggie never needed a cleaning in her life…she had all her teeth when she died, and she never had more than a tiny bit of build-up that the vet cleaned with a little scraper and a regular cat toothbrush…but all cats are different. The vet pointed out that some cats are more susceptible than others. These are excuses, though. I was a bad owner, and Pancake is suffering for it. 🙁 Pancake goes in for dental cleaning and potential (likely) surgery on Monday. He’ll be on antibiotics until then, and he’ll be on painkillers and antibiotics for a week or so afterward. And tonight, he’s having Alaskan salmon.

Speaking of Alaska, some of y’all may know that we were tentatively planning to take a cruise to Alaska in July. We held off on booking to see what happened with DH’s lung thingie. Given things as they are, we’re going to skip the cruise this year. DH will probably be recovered in time, but we don’t want to tempt Finagle’s Law by booking a non-refundable cruise. 🙂

In other news, I’m doing fine! 🙂 Also, it’s too damn hot outside. You may have seen my tweet that my credit cards melted into one congealed mass in my wallet, that I’d left in my car all day while at work. My Dad quipped, “That’s one way to consolidate your credit cards.” 😛 He’s too funny for his own good.

Grandma Update

Grandma RC passed away yesterday afternoon, around noontime. It had been kind of uncomfortable for a few days, because they really thought she was going on Wednesday (hence me flying out that night)…and then she was moved to hospice care at the hospital, and she held on (albeit drugged and mostly asleep) until yesterday. On one hand, it felt very morbid to me to be sitting around essentially waiting for her to die. It made me angry, too. She was ready to go. She wanted to go, and the last thing she would have wanted was to have everyone making a fuss because she wasn’t gone yet. Yet, we as a society don’t trust each other enough (and probably with good reason) to let a family and the grandma they love just decide that it’s time. The closest equivalent is hospice care…and while nothing there is there to prolong life, it feels like in this day and age, you ought to be able to press a button and just be done, peacefully. But…that’s neither here nor there.

Grandma RC lived a very long life. We were looking at some of her papers last night, and there’s some really cool history there. There was a tax form from 1944. There was a marriage license from her mother as well as her own license.

We’re headed over someone else’s house this afternoon to listen to the Rabbi and then take visitors. The funeral will be tomorrow morning.

Hasty Road Trip

DH’s grandmother (his dad’s mom) has been in and out of the hospital (in MI) for the past 4-5 days. We’ve been getting regular status updates via e-mail, and as of this past weekend, it seemed like she was okay, hence me not mentioning this already. But…things change fast. DH’s parents have been in FL, but they’ve been told to come back. Not to be callous, but I’m not sure how else to say it: grandma is at the “see her now or you might not see her again” point. So, DH is headed to Detroit. I’m staying here for now and doing normal things.

Our ski trip for this weekend is in jeopardy, of course. If things continue to get worse, I’ll be headed to Detroit, too.

Happy thoughts welcomed…

Time Travel

As many of you have noticed, the blog has gone back in time to catch up on posts from our (very awesome, wanna go back NOW) Disney trip. As such, I skipped over quite a few events that would normally warrant a blog post. I don’t want to spend another month re-capping, so below is a one paragraph, catch-all summary of the things that were, January 2009. As is fitting for anything dealing with time travel, I shall start with Lost

Lost is back on! Desmond’s baby named Charlie, the others speak Latin, woohoo! B* made me a cake with a Dharma logo. It was delicious…disappeared very quickly, did Ben turn the wheel, shift cake through time? Obama officially president, yay! Didn’t care about inauguration until the day it was on, then was sad I couldn’t watch live and had to work instead. Re-org’d at work into new group but otherwise similar. Got one estimate for the pipe burst repairs from the guy(s) who did our basement, liked their work, but the painting estimate alone was higher than was to paint whole basement. Something smells funny in Denmark, yo. Business name is of the form, [name] the [job]er…which led to Joe-the-plumber, bob-the-builder joking between DH and I. DH has been working odd hours at his second job. Very stressful. Ran Survivor at Mensa AGOG. Had to scramble to get to the minimum ten to play, but once we got there, it was AWESOME. Everyone had bonzer good time. Yay. Knee has been hurting alot lately. Also, period has been irregular. (Not related.) WTF is up with me? Wish knee would stop hurting. But yet, I will be going skiing on Saturday, yay! And knee can just suck on that, thank you very much. Pancake continues to be adorable kitteh. Races me up the stairs. I almost won last night, but only because he let me have a 5 step head start. Thought L4D was an evil time suck, but then Mr. Moo introduced me to Braid, which now is on my bedroom xbox (not mytsukata gamertag). Damn you, Mr. Moo! Got special L4D achievement last night for blowing the witch’s head off, Cr0wnd! Sweet. So cold outside. But weather Saturday promises to be ski-awesome. Found giant and strange fruit at the store, called Pomelo, is huge and we could kill a small child with it, but we won’t. Instead, will eat. Also got some honey tangerines. Enjoying finding and trying out new fruits. Finished second term of class, am 12.5% done with MBA. Group project ended much better than it started. Next term, taking two classes: Effective Leadership *coughbullshitcough* and Negotiations & Conflict Management (win win win). Hoping negotiations will make me awesome at negotiation such that I can help Mensa with hotel negotiation stuff. Will speak quietly so they have to lean in, then will change meeting location suddenly without notice…then will threaten to kill their daughter. 🙂 Oh and how did Frogurt’s shirt fit Sawyer? Nonsense.

First Lostie to catch the embedded (very subtle) clue in the style of Lost gets something nifty, though I’m not sure what. Adoration? That’s nifty, right?

Vacationing – yay!

We left for FL on the 1st, after spending the night at the Moos’ house. They were nice enough to offer to not only let us stay with them for NYE but also to drive us to the airport. We played games, and I was happy to see that Mr. Moo is enjoying his XBox 360. 🙂

As many of you know, we’re in FL to go to Disney. Well, actually, it started as that we were going to go visit DH’s family, specifically a cousin who lives in Montana but would be in Orlando en route to a cruise. We found out that there was a bridge regional that same weekend, so we figured we’d see the cousin, stay at the bridge hotel, and maybe go to Disney for a day or two while there. Well, then we found out about Disney’s buy-4-get-3-free promotion, so we decided to stay for a week at Disney. And, my parents agreed with us that it’d be a great idea for them to come down and spend the week with us at Disney. Long story short, after booking flights and hotels and negotiating schedules and whatnot, the trip plan was:

Jan 1 – fly to FL
Jan 1-3: Stay with DH’s family and visit with them
Jan 3-4: Stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom lodge
Jan 4-10: Stay at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside resort (click the link for more information about the resort than you could ever need to know but might want to know 🙂 ) and spend week doing Disney with my family and/or bridge
Jan 10-11: Stay at the bridge hotel (Buena Vista Palace)
Jan 11 (late) – fly home

Now, there was much consternation between DH and I about how much of the Jan 3-11 would be bridge and how much would be Disney, but we eventually arranged a schedule that made us both happy. I won’t bore you with the scheduling details, but they existed…just trust that the day-to-day plans that you will hear about are as per our agreements and will make us mutually happy. 🙂

Anyways, we’ve spent the past two days with DH’s family. I got a manicure this morning early, which I’ve realized I got horribly overcharged for…and it was a crappy manicure to boot…lots of messiness on the edges. But, it will survive until this evening, which is all I need. (More on that later. )

I got to spend time with a (relatively) new little cousin, who is a baby and who is super-adorable. She is social. She hams it up for anyone nearby. She hates to sleep. She loves to eat. Our cousins that are hosting us have been great, and they have a beautiful home with two giant floppy dogs. 🙂 But, today we are checking into the Animal Kingdom lodge, and it’s going to be AWESOME. I can’t wait. In fact, I’m gnawing at the bit for DH to get out of bed so we can pack and get going. Even though our hosts are great, I just can’t wait to get Disney-fied. I’m working on homework so that I won’t have to worry about that. Oh, and it turns out that dreadpirateains is in town, too, so I’m working on meeting up with him while I’m here, probably sometime this afternoon. 🙂 Yay!

Last night, we went to Universal Citywalk for an evening of drinking and carousing. I had a “mojito sandwich” beforehand: mojito, then pomegranate mojito, then mojito. (all from Bonefish, where we had dinner with DH’s aunt and grandma) We went to the Rising Star lounge for karaoke with a live band; DH did his unparalleled rendition of Love Shack to great applause. We also went to a couple of dance clubs. It was cool, but nothing compares to the now-defunct Pleasure Island.

So, I need to get back to homework. I should note that my plan is to blog periodically but save them in a hidden status until we’re back. I don’t like posting blog entries that make it clear that we’re not at home, just on the off chance that some person with bad intent manages to link this blog with our home address. You might see some very generic twitters from me when I’m out of town, but it’s likely that the blog will go into radio silence…and since my posting is sporadic anyways, it’d be darn hard to guess if I’m not posting because I’m not home or because I’m just not posting. Anyways, once I’m back, I’ll unlock all of these posts and you’ll be able to see them with the proper timestamp. 🙂

Hanukkah down, more to go!

We braved the storm and ORD to visit the Detroit area this past weekend for Hanukkah with my DH’s side of the family. 🙂 Despite receiving 8-10 inches of snow on Friday early morning and morning, our trip to ORD from Gurnee was relatively uneventful. We’d packed two large check-in suitcases, one of clothes and toiletries and one of presents. All the presents made it to Detroit safely, with wrapping intact. (I took the risk of wrapping the presents before leaving home, because I had wrapping paper that I wanted to use up, and I like to hide the presents.) I’d shipped two of the larger presents directly to our destination, and I got up a little early on Saturday to wrap those.

The weather had prevented our Adorable Nephews (AN1, now age 7, and AN2, now age 3) and their parents from arriving until Saturday afternoon. We had made arrangements to have lunch and conversation with some friends that moved to Grosse Pointe this past year, Jim & Stacey. So, we didn’t see the ANs until after we got back. We had a really enjoyable visit with J&S, though. They took us to a great pub, and they took us on a brief driving tour of Grosse Pointe’s mansions. There are some really neat houses there, of all sizes. It wasn’t cookie-cutter at all, which I found refreshing. I mean, I love our house and our area, but the houses are from one of four layouts, some reversed or shifted, with varying trim and colors. It’s not as bad as the intro sequence of Weeds with the little houses all made of ticky-tacky, but it’s in the ballpark. On our tour, I was most attracted to the houses with towers and turrets and intricate brick and stonework. (Having done some cursory research this morning, it seems I am most attracted to a style of home called Richardson Romanesque. But, really, I just like towers and turrets and stonework. 🙂 I guess I really want a castle.)

We played Bridge with J&S, and I sampled a gingerful ginger cookie that S had made. Oh, it was so good. I love ginger cookies. Do you think ginger kids like ginger more than normal people? I wonder.

J moved to take a job teaching, and it really served to remind me that my DH would be an excellent teacher. Part of me really hopes that he ends up teaching as a late-life career. But, I’m off topic. 🙂

So, after lunch, touring, and bridge, we rushed home for Hanukkah dinner so as to not displease the hostess. I quickly changed from my jeans (which had gotten wet and soaked from snow-walking) into a pretty skirt that I’d gotten during the awesome IGIGI sale. I’d planned to dress up a bit anyways, but in this case, it was motivated just as much by not wanting to have cold legs. The ANs were thrilled to see us, and we promptly (well, mainly my DH) started an activity for them in the basement to help burn off energy before dinner. The first activity was trying to catch a ball thrown by DH in mid-air, and plopping down onto a cushy exercise mat to land safely. My part of the activity was to try to catch a picture of each AN mid-flight. I got LOTS of good pictures, too. 🙂 The second activity was a race around the basement (hard to explain, but it’s nicely laid out to be a racetrack), with a hurdle leap. The mat was the hurdle and the landing point. Our adorable cousin, who is the same age as AN1, joined us for the race. Then, our last activity was another mid-air ball catch, this time using an old playset as a jump point. All of this was video-d and photo-d by yours truly. 🙂 Adorable cousin’s younger sister (who is just a bit younger than AN2, I think) joined us for the last activity, although her jumps were assisted by her grandpa, and her ball catches were after she had landed. She clapped and celebrated every time, though, and she would have kept doing it over and over all night had we not stopped the fun for dinner.

For dinner, I had LOTS of latkes. 🙂 I love latkes. I also had some kugel, which has never been as good as the first year that I had it. It was a meatless dinner (well, there was tuna salad, but that’s out of my bailiwick), which made me a little sad. On one hand, I firmly embrace the idea that milk stuff and meat stuff should not go together, in my case for taste reasons rather than religious prescription. But, given a choice, I eat meat. 🙂 Also, my MIL makes an awesome brisket. Nonetheless, it was all delicious, and best of all, I didn’t have to cook or fetch any of it. 🙂

After dinner, adorable cousin (who really needs her own moniker…maybe AC1?) led AN1 and the rest of us in a Hanukkah singalong, with songs that she’s learned at school. (Yeah, I video-d it. 🙂 ) And then, she passed out papers that she had clearly written and made herself with the following written on them:

Name_______
My tradition is___________
Who:
What:
Where:
Why:
When:
(and she informed us that she forgot to put “How” but that we should add it…she also clarified that it did not have to be a Hanukkah tradition but that it should be our favorite tradition)

Her mom told us (as we were teasing her for making AC1 write out 22 sheets of paper by hand and not introducing her to the concept of a printer or copy machine) that AC1 had completely surprised her with this…that she had just asked her mom how many people would be at the party and then showed up later with this pile of papers and told her mom what she was going to do. 🙂 So, I thought this was the coolest thing ever. My tradition was the (for lack of a better title) Aunt Barbara gift game, which I will get to next. 🙂 But, the best part was getting to hear everyone’s traditions and what they wrote. I think AC1’s mom is going to type it up at some point. (AC1 is my friend on Webkinz, by the way. She and her mom are as into Webkinz as I am, which is cool. AN1 is getting back into Webkinz again, too, which is also cool.)

After the kids opened their presents (and it was the celebration of excess that you would expect and want for a kids’ holiday gathering), we did the Aunt Barbara gift game. The game has two parts. The first part is for the kids (and I’m told that my DH did this when he was younger). Aunt Barbara has one present for each kid and puts it in a row. Then, the kids stand in front of the presents. When they get older, she will tell them things like “2 of you are correct” or “none of you are correct”…but at this stage and age, she just basically says “nope, that’s not right” or “yes, that’s right.” Once they are all standing in front of the correct gift, they get to open it. This is an awesome tradition, and it’s one that DH and I are hoping that we can inherit at some point. 🙂 It’s a logic game and a present! What could be better?

So, the second part of the game is the adults’ part, and this is really kind of like a White Elephant or Yankee Exchange, except that all the gifts come from one person (or two people, since I’ve been adding to the pile lately). The gifts are generally things that Aunt Barbara gets as freebies from the casino, or at Black Friday doorbusters, or from coupons throughout the year. That is, it’s not necessarily great and awesome stuff…but it does all tend to be useful to *someone*. It’s very rare that there’s a gift in the pile that is just an absolute dud. I will say, though, that through strategy and dumb luck, DH and I have managed to score at the exchange every time. 🙂 This year, he got a rolling briefcase with spinner wheels, and I got a beautiful bracelet. Last year, I got a tea set that I adore (even if I rarely have opportunity to use it), and he got me a necklace with a pink zirconia horseshoe charm on it. 🙂 I’d added a bunch of earmuffs to the gift exchange, an SD card, and a pocket kite. Last year, I added a bunch of things I’d gotten through work to the pile.

The adults’ exchange is never without controversy. This year, the controversy was that one of our uncles decided to take a gift from the pile and not unwrap it. He just left it sitting there and dared anyone to take it from him. 🙂 It was an interesting idea (and a brilliant strategy) but DH and I rightly pointed out that if we allow that strategy in future years, there’s zero incentive for *anyone* to unwrap their present. The first people will always leave it unwrapped. If it’s a good gift, they’re more likely to keep it. If it’s a less-good gift, they would have gotten stuck with it anyways. So, I’m pretty sure that will get added to the rulebook for next year.

There’s also always laughter. This year’s fun exchange item was a personal massager, which AC2 (who is ~3 and female, remember) really liked and kept wanting to use on people. I’m sure you can imagine the double and triple entendres that ensued, so I won’t recap them here.

Later on, we got to see AN1 and AN2 open Wii Rock Band. We think they’ll really enjoy it, and it’s something all of them can do together, which is cool. We also got them Bobbing Bumblebee (well, mainly for AN2), and that’s a fun one. 🙂

In other holiday-ish news:

  • During the weekend, I finally got around to reading through the guidebook and giving my “must do” list to DH for our upcoming Disney trip. As I expected, there are more than twice as many things I want to do at Epcot as at any other park, included but not limited to the Japanese gardens and the Behind the Seeds tour. Animal Kingdom is going to be a big one on this trip, too. The San Diego Wild Animal Park gave me high expectations, though. Also on the list, I really want to take my parents to DisneyQuest, because it is uber cool, and to Disney’s mini-golf, because mini-golf is our family tradition. I am very upset that Disney has taken Pleasure Island away, because I *loved* Pleasure Island. I loved being able to clubhop without bouncers and without cover chargers. And, there was dancing EVERYWHERE…and good drinks!
  • We are planning to go on the (forever pushed back) inaugural ski day on Christmas day. Stay tuned for details.
  • I am sending out holiday cards this year (in usual Amazing Mail format and in the usual closer-to-new-year’s-than-Hanumastice timing). If your address has changed since last year or if I don’t have your address and you want a card, please e-mail me your address by end of day tomorrow. Do *NOT* put your address in comments on this post, as the comments are public to google.

ThirtyCon

First, I can’t believe my Dear Husband has beaten me to blogging about ThirtyCon. 🙂

In fairness, I wanted to get the photos ready to be posted along with this, hence the delay. (I’m re-touching some of the photos to get rid of digital camera noise, blurring, focus issues, etc.) To frame up the weekend, here’s some quick statistics:

  • Sleep total (over 3 nights) by me: ~20 hours by best estimate
  • Number of times Time’s Up: Title Recall hit the table: 6
  • Crayon games played: 2
  • Power Grid: 2 (including new China map!)
  • Agricola: 4 (and the birthday girl avoided every single one!)
  • Bridge: 4-5 boards
  • Calories burned dancing: At least enough to not only balance out having had several slices of cake but also to cause me to lose a pound for having done so!
  • Unique visitors (does not include us, does not include instances where people left and came back): 16
  • Knights in Shiny Armor: many, and you know who you are. 🙂
  • Songs played in Rock band: at least 30…and that doesn’t count the kids playing on Sunday

Overall, ThirtyCon was a raging success. B* and his cousin surprised me with a cake themed after the game Portal. (It was not a lie. It was delicious and moist.) We had loads of fun gaming and dancing on Friday night. B* cooked breakfast for us on Saturday, and more gaming commenced shortly thereafter. We flavor tripped. Pears taste DELICIOUS when flavor tripping. So do limes. You don’t realize that limes have a unique flavor until you remove the sour. Dinner at the Japanese place was awesome, and I teared up trying to give my speech. (The message survived, but the details had to be excluded lest I bawl like a wee babe.) Then, there was more gaming…much laughter. I think everyone teared up at some point from the laughter during Time’s Up. We have all new sign language now for dial M for murder, Alice…and a bunch of others that are slipping my mind right now.

Overall, I had so much fun. I got to spend a weekend being spoiled rotten, with my favorite people around me, doing the things I love to do, and that has to be the best way to spend a birthday. It just has to be. 🙂 Today, with work and homework and such, is just an utter disappointment by comparison…not to mention that I’m exhausted. 🙂

Pictures are up in the Gallery for your viewing pleasure. No captions yet, but most of them are self-explanatory. 🙂

Pancake’s day!

Today is Pancake’s day. This is the day that I’ve chosen to celebrate Pancake’s birthday. Much like George Washington, Pancake’s celebrated birthday is not the day he was born. We decided to celebrate Pancake’s day on the anniversary of his adoption date (roughly, as we will always celebrate Pancake’s day on a weekend that we are home). Check out the August 2006 archives (click any post title to read the whole post) to reminisce about Pancake’s early times with us. 🙂

As his Pancake day treat, Pancake got a new water fountain. I also made him a special treat of tuna for dinner last night. However, the still-full dish this morning tells me that Pancake, despite tuna being his favorite catfood flavor, does not like actual tuna. Strange kitty! Maybe it’s the lack of garden greens?

PS – Check out Pancake’s gallery for some Pancake Day pictures!