Ultimate Premiere Pack (2 Unrestricted admission tickets and 1 $10.00 gift certificate to use at the concession stand), and an Applebee’s gift card. I call it (drum roll) “Dinner and a movie”! It went over pretty well with one couple, but apparently the other couple has a friend who’s a manager at the theater and they get in for free all the time, so it was no great deal for them. Ah well – next year we’ll know, eh? We showed up at Fred’s sister’s house a little after 9, and ate around 10. Fred’s mother brought sausage balls, a red velvet cake, no-bake cookies, and zucchini bread. Fred made hash brown casserole and blueberry coffee cake. Fred’s sister made a breakfast casserole that was basically eggs and sausage, and it was reaaaaallly good. I got seconds on both the hash brown casserole and the breakfast casserole. I do love the breakfast foods. After we ate we opened presents (we got money from Fred’s mother and stepfather, along with a Parisian gift card, some zucchini bread, rice krispy treats, and kitchen towels). We also caught hell from Fred’s sister, who was under the impression that we weren’t getting anything for her and her husband, that we were just buying for the kids, so she was taken by surprise when SHE got a “Dinner and a movie” pack, too! Just watch: Next year she’ll get us something and we won’t get them anything! Heh. We sat around and talked for an hour or so and I just kept getting sleepier and sleepier – all those carbs, I’m sure – and we left around noon. We stopped by Fred’s office on the way home to get my presents (he has them delivered to work so I won’t be compelled to snoop), and came home. I dozed for an hour or so in my room, and he dozed for a while in his, and the spud sat in her room and wrapped the presents that were from Fred to me. (He’s going to be so screwed when she’s not living at home anymore and he has to do his own wrapping!) Around 4, we left for Fred’s father and stepmother’s house, a little earlier than everyone else was going to be there, because Fred needed to hook up their new TV for them. He did that pretty quickly, and then was going to hook up their new printer – a gift from us and Fred’s sister and her family – only when they opened the box, they discovered that the printer was cracked all to hell and back. The box was a bit damaged when Fed Ex dropped it off (without requiring a signature, I should point out), but there was so much styrofoam in the box that we thought for sure that the printer would be okay. It was not. Fred packed the printer back into the box and now I guess he’s going to have to fight with the company to get our money back, or get an undamaged printer. (Note to ourselves: check the item in the box next time we get a severely damaged box) We spent three or four hours at Fred’s parents’ house visiting with his stepsister and her family (I mentioned her husband last year; he lost a great deal of weight, and I’m pleased to announce that he’s kept it off! Must be nice!), and saw his sister and her family again. We didn’t have Christmas-type food this year; we had lasagna, and it was really good; everything they serve is always really good. But then, I guess they’re probably not going to be all “My god, that roast sucked. Let’s serve it at Christmas! My favorite part of the meal, though, (aside from the coconut cake, I mean) was the green beans and carrots. Fred likes his green beans cooked to absolute mush, and I prefer a crisper bean. These beans were cooked perfectly, and then (I think) tossed with olive oil and basil. YUM. A high point of the evening was when we were opening gifts and Fred’s sister – who’d given Fred’s (and her) stepmother plates that she collects as a gift (my god, wouldn’t it be easier if I gave everyone names instead of referring to them by their relationship to Fred?) – told the story of how she’d gotten burned out on wrapping presents, so she handed the plates to her husband – who is an engineer (also French, but that has no bearing on this story) – and asked him to find a box and wrap them. When she hadn’t seen or heard from him in an hour she went looking for him, and found him sitting in the middle of their bedroom floor BUILDING a box for the plates out of a huge coat box. He’d even made a diagram and everything, and she’d saved the diagram to show it off. The box was pretty amazing – very strong and well-made. I turned to Fred and said “YOU are an engineer! You could do that!”, and he gave me a look that indicated that perhaps I shouldn’t get my hopes up. We sat for a while and talked, and then we watched some home movies that Fred’s sister and her husband brought with them from their trip to France and Scotland (I WANT TO GO TO SCOTLAND, DAMNIT), and around 8 we left for home. Oh, quick story to illustrate my dorkiness (please note that I was carb-dopey aside from my natural dorkiness): I was handed a box addressed to Fred and I while we were at his father and stepmother’s house. It was from Fred’s niece and her husband, and I looked up to see them WATCHING ME. I got stage fright and so when I opened the box and saw a perfectly cute pillow with a snowman picture on it, I completely overreacted and acted like it was the most perfect gift I’d ever been given in all my life. Fred later said to me, “I didn’t know WHAT the hell you were going on about!” Such a dork, I am. So we came home, and Fred and I exchanged our presents to each other, and the spud began opening all the presents that had come from her relatives in California. I got a bunch of books from Fred (which I was expecting), a paraffin spa (which I wasn’t!), and the coolest little thing – a metal keychain with a picture of Miz Poo etched on one side of it. I tried to get a picture of it, but it didn’t come out, so you’ll have to imagine it. My favorite gift that I gave to him – aside from his “More cowbell” t-shirt, that is – is the picture he took while he was hiking in the Fall, a picture that really showed the changing colors. I ordered an 8 x 10 print through Shutterfly, and then took it and had it matted and framed in a simple black frame (and white mat). It came out really well, and we’re discussing doing the same thing with three more of his pictures and hanging them in a group over the couch in the living room. I was in bed pretty early that night – we all were, I think – and I slept in until about 8, when Fred came up to tell me it was raining and he wasn’t going to go for a hike (he later changed his mind after the rain stopped). I got up and showered and told the spud to come downstairs so we could open presents, and we spent the next hour doing so. I got a ton of stuff – my sister, in particular, went overboard this year, which serves her right for starting her Christmas shopping so early, the brat! – the Virginia Lanier Bloodhound series, an iTunes card, Victoria’s Secret Body perfume and lotion (smells EXACTLY like the So Sexy shampoo and conditioner), and just an absolute ton of stuff. A nightgown from her cat Tigger. I can’t even REMEMBER everything she gave me. Oh! A Bookland gift card, which I am looking forward to using. I got a wallet – a YELLOW wallet – from Brian, which is a good thing, ’cause now I don’t have to go shopping for a new wallet like I’d been planning. I got the Ender’s Game series from my brother and sister-in-law, which I wasn’t expecting at ALL – I had Ender’s Game on my wish list, but hadn’t thought to put the rest of the series on the list! I got a Willow Tree figurine from my mother (when I opened it, I was like “Oh, crap. Didn’t I just get rid of a bunch of knick-knacks?”, but I put it up on the mantel, and I’ll admit – I like the way it looks.) and a bunch of stuff to remind me of Maine. So with the presents opened, I made a batch of Mandarin muffins (SO GOOD) and the spud and I ate them for breakfast. Fred went for a hike, and I wrestled with the spud’s mp3 player, trying to get it to play the songs I was putting on it; eventually I gave up and told the spud to wait ’til Fred got home. The spud and I watched a crappy movie (Four Brothers. Oh, the cheese.), and after a few hours Fred got home with our dinner: Indian food! Yum! Then Christmas day was very quiet – we spent the rest of the day just hanging around the house. Fred and the spud watched a movie, and I did some cleaning (I took down all the Christmas decorations and put them away, for one) and some surfing, and then he and I started pulling stuff out of the computer room so he could paint this morning. When we pulled my desk away from the wall, OH, the nastiness. I can’t even describe it, so here’s a picture: We moved in in August of 2001, and this is the first time I’ve cleaned behind that desk since. I went around and vacuumed behind my desk and Fred’s, then dusted the dust bunnies off the wall and ceiling, and finally went around and scrubbed the baseboards. By the time we were done with that it was 7:00 and time to start watching TV. We watched Million Dollar Baby, and I shouldn’t be surprised at how good it was, but I was. Today has consisted mostly of Fred painting the computer room while I went to Petsmart, did laundry, ran to the post office, and thought about packing. Tomorrow the spud and I leave for Maine, and we’ll be back on the 5th. I wouldn’t expect any entries before the 6th – I’m not taking the laptop with me – but of course you just never know, do you? Oh, the finished computer room: According to the paint chip, it’s American Tradition Valspar, Twilight Blue, 2001-1C. I like it. I like it a LOT, considering that I wanted a plum color and Fred talked me into blue. I guess I shouldn’t question his color choices, should I?