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Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Greatest Gift Ever?

Whenever a birthday or Christmas comes around, I always tell Amy that on October 12, 2009 she gave me the greatest gift that anyone could ever receive (a PlayStation 3) and that she should never worry about getting me anything ever again.  This year, she got me a present that may knock the old PS3 off the mantle.  Behold the egg muffin machine:

Oh yes, it does EXACTLY what you think it does.  All you need is an English muffin, and egg, a slice of pre-cooked  Canadian bacon, and a slice of American cheese to create the only homemade fast food item that is actually as good as the one from the fast food place itself.

Bad kitty!  Get away!

You just pop the muffin in the toasting slots:

Pour a little water into the steam pan:

Crack an egg into the (cute) miniature frying/poaching pan:

Place the bacon on the steaming tray:.

Replace the cover, hit a button:

And seven minutes later (and after some easy assembly) you have an egg muffin that rivals the fast food chains.  Brilliant!  And since the egg is actually poached with steam, you LOSE WEIGHT eating them.  The steam also melts all the fat in the bacon and makes it really supple.  Nice!  I've eaten like 12 since Christmas.

No kitty!  Bad kitty!  My muffin!

Victory: Amy
P.S.  Before you send me nasty comments, you should know that I consider the Grunion a VERY CLOSE third-best present ever.

The Grunion vs. Christmas 2010

The Grunion was 2 months old when Christmas came around last year, so we didn't have much of a celebration.  This year, the Grunion had been doing what he called "research" online about Christmas and subsequently demanded to know what it was all about.  I don't know what kind of "research" the kid was doing, but he seemed to have it all wrong.

GRUNION:  Hey Dad!  Chachie's on the front lawn doing that thing where he tries to burn the house down!  Is that a legitimate Christmas activity?

CHACHIE:  Chicken wings were a part of the very first Christmas.  The three wise men brought the baby Jesus gold, frankincense, myrrh, and chicken wings.  Learn your history, kid.

GRUNION:  I read online that we're supposed to totally DESECRATE the tree with stuff before we light it on fire.  I'll sacrifice my elephant bath toy to the tree cause he's been insolent lately.

We had a small get-together at our house on Christmas eve and the Grunion opened a bunch of presents. 
GRUNION:  So lemme get this straight, you want me to rip up all this stuff?
AMY:  Well,  you're supposed to just rip off the paper to see what's inside.

GRUNION:  Hmmm.  But I'm not normally allowed to rip the paper off stuff.  Seems like some inconsistent parenting if ya ask me.

GRUNION:  Sweet!  A noisy thing to annoy mommy and daddy over and over and over and over and over.

GIBBY:  Jenkins!  Bad kitty!  You are not allowed to rummage around under the tree!

JENKINS:    How bout now?

LORETTA:  Look!  I'm a present too!  Look at me!  Look at me!
GIBBY:  Loretta, have you been saving that box since 2007?

On Christmas morning the Grunion opened more presents.
GRUNION:  How did the fat guy in the politically incorrect fur suit get in the house?  We don't have a fireplace-and I saw you lock up the joint last night.
GIBBY:  Never mind that, just open some presents.
GRUNION:  Here we go again with the paper hypocrisy.  These are wrapped really well, though.

The Grunion tracked down two empty microwave popcorn boxes (that originally contained gift certificates) and played with them non-stop for 4 hours.  He wanted me to note that it's particularly fun to bang the boxes against the strings of the guitar.  For 20 minutes.  And scream at the same time.

By mid-morning the Grunion was surrounded by gifts.

GRUNION: I think I've got this Christmas thing figured out.

GRUNION:  It seems to me that Christmas is about giving.
GIBBY:  That's very insightful and-

GRUNION:  Giving presents to me.

GRUNION:  Toys, boxes, noisy things, food.  All for me.  All mine. Muhu ha ha ha ha ha

Victory:  The Grunion?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Z's Birthday Party

Last Friday night we went to Z's house for his first birthday.  The theme was Yo! Gabba! Gabba!, and Z's mom Cindy MADE a bunch of hats and balloons that were awesome.  In fact, they were so awesome it made me JEALOUS of her skill.  Mental note: Eat Cindy's brain to gain her skills!  Here's Cindy and Amy wearing DJ Lance hats:

Here's the Plex "head" she made:

And here are the balloons (they all ended up on the ceiling).

Mark and I were selected to attempt a photo with all the kids wearing the hats, but the attempt failed miserably cause Z started crying, which made all the kids start crying.  I looked damn good though.

The Grunion was having trouble with the concept of a birthday party where HE didn't get any presents.
GRUNION:  So,  what are we supposed to do?  Just sit here and watch Z get stuff?
AMY:  Yup.

GRUNION:  Forget that!  I'm going over there to see if I can scam something!

GRUNION:  Z!  How bout slidin some presents my way?
Z:  Back off!  I'm pretty sure one of these is the 14-inch Bowie knife I asked for!

MADELINE:  You are such a crybaby Grunion!  Waaa!  I want some presents!

GRUNION:  Who are you?  And why are you pitchin me attitude?

MADELINE:  Beat it kid!  I'm workin this birthday for any leftover presents.  Don't make me cut you.

GRUNION:  I am Plex!  It is my birthday too!  Give me some of those presents!
Z:  Lame.  That's not even how Plex talks.

US:  Happy birthday, dear Zack, happy birthday to you!

Z:  Hmm.  Seems like a waste of energy to bring the cake to my mouth.

Z:  Much better.

GRUNION:  How embarrassing.  I would never make a cake-spectacle of myself like that.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

1,300 Mile Beer Run

We decided that the perfect present to get the Bandit for her birthday was a case of beer-so a beer run was in order.  For most people, a beer run is a quick trip (usually a few minutes away).  For us, it's driving 1300 miles with Chachie to Munster, Indiana (just south of Chicago) to pick up some of the best beer on the planet at the 3 Floyds brewery.

I drank 4 cups of coffee before we left, so I was pretty excited.  An hour into the trip Chachie said to me, "You know, you don't have to talk the whole way to Chicago."  Oh snap!  While we were "not talking" I formulated our cover story to tell any strangers why we were driving a big cargo van up to Chicago from Arkansas:

STRANGER at GAS STATION:  Arkansas huh? So, why are you headed to Chicago?
GIBBY:  Actually, we're funeral directors on our way to collect the remains of a man who specifically directed in his will that he not be transported via commercial air carrier to his burial site in Arkansas.
STRANGER at GAS STATION: That's weird.  Why didn't this guy want his body-
GIBBY: Well, I'm really not supposed to talk about it-family confidentiality you understand, but my colleague and I figure that he either hated flying or had something against the airlines.  Maybe be was a railroad magnate or something.  Anyway, it's not something we can really talk about so we kind of just keep our mouths shut and go about our business of trying to ease the suffering of the surviving family.  It's really tough, but we carry on because that's what we do, that's what we do....
STRANGER at GAS STATION:  *blank stare*

When I was finally "allowed" to talk again I told Chachie this cover story.  He didn't understand why we needed a cover story and said I was weird.  Then he told me I couldn't talk for ANOTHER HOUR.  Dammit!  North of St. Louis everything that's not asphalt is frozen.  Oh, and it's 20 degrees.

20 degrees was a picnic compared to the 8 degrees it was when we got to Chicago.  It's so cold the light is actually orange like this at night.

I kept telling Chachie the camera wasn't working right and I made him stand there like this for about 5 minutes.  He was freezing.  Tell me not to talk eh?  REVENGE IS A DISH BEST SERVED COLD!

We met the Little Rock crew (visiting Chicago as well) and went to this artsy-fartsy Greek restaurant downtown.  Everyone got twisted.

DUKE:  Seriously, who's taller-me or Alan?
US:  Um, it's REALLY close.  Stand up straight....

The next day, we went to the promised land of beer (Munster, IN pop. 25, 511).  The 3 Floyds brewery/pub is in the middle of an industrial park.  It's really weird.  There are all these ugly electrical, plumbing, and chemical supply buildings all around with this pub/restaurant stuck right in the middle of it all.

Shannon kept loudly declaring that she hated beer and that she should get "extra points" for drinking fancy-schmancy cider (that costs $12/bottle) which she claimed is "just like beer."  We gave her no extra points.

ANDY:  We'll have all of page 3-minus the salads.
WAITER:  Ha!  Funny.
ANDY:  ***stern look***
WAITER:  Oh, you were serious.  Okay, I'll get the order in.

Page 3 included baked four-cheese macaroni:

Scotch Eggs (sorry about the quality of the pic):

A jumbo Chicago dog for Chachie:

And fries!  The fries were made in-house, natural-cut, and cooked properly.  They were pretty good (and there were a lot), but the 6-dollar price knocked em down to an 8 out of 10.

Also as part of our "page 3 order" we got two different large pizzas, a chicken sandwich, and a brisket sandwich-but I quit taking pictures cause the people in the pub were getting annoyed by all the flashes.  Needless to say, we were BLOATED.  We told the waiter we had a long drive and needed 5 cases of Gumballhead "for the road".  He didn't even blink. That must happen a lot there.  Later that night, I decided to sleep next to the beer to guard it from thieves.

The next day we drove home and I wrapped up a case of Gumballhead for the Bandit.

The Bandit said it was the best present she ever got, and that everyone might as well stop giving her presents cause this one could never be topped.  Sweet!