Sunday, December 30, 2007

The hits from coast to coast

Growing up, one of my New Year's Eve traditions was listening to the Big 89 countdown of the top songs of the year on WLS in Chicago. I'd sit by the radio to listen and actually wrote them all down a few years. Some New Year's Eves my parents went out, others they didn't do as much and would take us out to dinner and get us home by midnight. The countdown would start at about 6, our babysitter might make us a pizza, and I distinctly remember reading a Hardy Boys book one year while listening. When I was 10, the countdown was as much a highlight as staying up until midnight.

So what has my over-nostalgic self done to relive those New Year's Eves? Assembled those Big 89s on my iPod. It's not the same as listening to the original broadcasts with DJs and in AM, but it's still fun. My only dilemma -- I have eight playlists for eight years: 1979-1986. Too much music to listen to in the week before the New Year. I'm enjoying 1981 right now. I'm trying to find any Z95 countdowns (Z95 was WLS-FM and started compiling their own charts, by 1986 I mostly listened to it instead of WLS-AM) and might compile Billboard's year-end charts, too.

The No. 1 songs for those years I have. Without even looking:

1979: My Sharona, The Knack
1980: Lost in Love, Air Supply (what kind of year was it for music that this was No. 1 on a more-rock-than-Top-40 station?)
1981: Start Me Up, The Rolling Stones
1982: Hard to Say I'm Sorry, Chicago
1983: Every Breath You Take, The Police
1984: Let's Go Crazy, Prince
1985: Sussudio, Phil Collins
1986: Sweet Freedom, Michael McDonald

Cool, huh? OK, it's official, I'm a geek.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Auld lang syne

Over!

Christmas has come and gone, and though it was great, I'm a little happy it's done. I'm ready to put away the ornaments, take down the lights, throw out the tree and temporarily erase holiday songs from my brain (and if I ever hear "Christmas Shoes" again, there's no telling what I might do). Does that make me a after-the-fact humbug? It never seemed like I was able to immerse myself in the holiday like I used to. I've worked a lot the last week, including getting called in Wednesday and anticipating three more shifts in the next four nights, so that might be souring my mood slightly. Packages we sent early last week to relatives still haven't arrived -- that's not helping either.

Christmas this year was something to get through rather than enjoy. I suppose that's my fault, looking too far ahead again. Christmas morning, when the boys opened their presents, was still wonderful. They had a blast and made out like bandits, and they let me sleep until 6:30 (though it's weird opening presents Christmas morning when it's still dark out, the flip side of late sunsets on the back end of a time zone). Thankfully, I had all of Christmas Eve off this year (after working the last two), but on Christmas day, which I volunteered to work (and always do) thinking it would be an easy shift, overtime and I'd be Christmased out by then, the shift wasn't so easy (for reasons beyond my control) and I didn't really want to leave Wife and the kids. I'm happy the holiday is over, but it did go too quickly.

I'm working New Year's Eve -- no biggie, we wouldn't be going out anyway -- then it settles down again. Bring on 2008.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Holiday road

Christmas is almost here! The boys aren't at that age yet where they freak out over Christmas, but give it another year for Eldest and he'll be there. Oddly, it doesn't seem like I've listened to enough Christmas music this year, even though it's been on every other radio station for two months now. Christmas music always gets me in the holiday mood more than anything else, even that tree in our living room. I'll resolve not to listen to any real music tomorrow, then prepare to be sick of Christmas tunes around noon on Christmas.

It's been a tiring week for Wife and me, and I think that's just the way it's going to be every Christmas, even when we aren't stressing about preschools and children unnecessarily waking us up in the middle of the night. I'm looking at it this way: Christmas Eve is the start of 2008. Let the year begin anew.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ho, ho, ho

We took the boys to see Santa today. A local shopping district has a Santa Shack, and we've been going every year since 2004 to the same place and the same Santa. Eldest at first was a little nervous, but came around, gave Santa a hug and told him he wanted a rocket ship for Christmas. The only problem is, he's been saying for the past three weeks that he was going to ask for a tow truck. The lesson to be learned here: Take your kids to see Santa before shopping. We hope he forgets about the rocket ship before Christmas morning.

Eldest also posed an interesting question to me: How does Santa get inside if we don't have a chimney or a fireplace? We assured him he would, then he pointed to the ceiling vent in our kitchen above the stove. Santa better call Jenny Craig if he's going to fit down that vent.

Littlest did great with Santa, no crying, no fear, nothing. We got a nice picture, drove around and saw some Christmas lights, then came home. Dec. 25 will be here soon.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I'm already on my way out

The title of today's post is from "Return of the Jedi." The Millennium Falcon and Wedge's X-wing have reached the core of the new Death Star, Lando points out the reactor Wedge should target, and Wedge replies "I'm already on my way out" before he fires, meaning he's completing the task at hand and getting out of Dodge in one action.

It's been a seemingly long, unproductive week. I don't know if it's the lack of sunlight, not getting as much sleep as I should, eating like crap, not exercising much lately or our struggles with Eldest's preschool, but it has just seemed like a blah few days. I generally feel a little of this malaise every winter, but usually not until after Christmas. Maybe it's just being antsy -- antsy to start the new year, to get a new routine in place once Eldest switches preschool (oh, by the way, we're switching Eldest's preschool), to start exercising again and to live healthier, to write more, to get the house in order. All that is still a few weeks off, and combining it with the lack of daylight this December, I am antsy.

But the break I was hoping for might be arriving on schedule.

Six months ago, I blogged about the first technical day of summer. Here we are, six quick months after the longest day of the year, and I am coming up on the shortest day of the year. I'm a definite spring/summer person, and winter hasn't even begun. But something very interesting about the tilt of our Earth -- the earliest sunset isn't on the first day of winter. The latest sunrise is, but not the earliest sunset. For the past two weeks, the sunset has been at 5 p.m. Salt Lake City time. Friday, it will be 5:01 p.m. (Thanks to The Old Farmer's Almanac for the info). And since I'm not a morning person anyway, the later sunset, even by one minute, means one thing -- I'm already on my way out.

Monday, December 10, 2007

O Tannenbaum!

One of our Christmas traditions is not to get a tree until after Eldest's birthday. We want to try to separate the two occasions, and though he's going to make out like a bandit this December, we've been good about not pushing Christmas until Dec. 10.

Today was Dec. 10, and our first order of business was getting a tree.

We have avoided Christmas tree lots for a few years now and instead buy from someplace cheaper, either a cactus/perennial store (seriously) or, the last two years, a Smith's Marketplace (like a Meijer's). We went tonight and picked out a tree, a 6-7 foot Grand Fir that Eldest helped select. Of course, we steered him in the right direction, but pointed one out, we looked at it, and we all approved. It's difficult to know how good a tree will look until all the branches drop lower (sometime tomorrow it should thaw out), you just pick one that looks straight, but it's the perfect height (we don't have a tall ceiling in our living room.

It should be fun to decorate, we just have to keep the hooks away from Littlest. We'll see how overloaded the top of the tree is with ornaments, and how bare the bottom is, by the new year.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Four!

There was something in my life Sunday that wasn't Saturday -- a 4-year-old.

It was Eldest's birthday Sunday, and he is now 4. It's been four years since he was born, a day I remember so vividly, from what I was wearing, what I had for breakfast, and oh yeah, that we had a baby that day. I've been a father now for four years.

Shock and memories aside, Eldest had a good weekend. We invited some of his friends to a tubing hill in Park City on Saturday for his party. I was nervous about the party, because it did snow the night before and the storm hadn't quite cleared out completely, and because it was going to be eight 4-year-olds on a mountain. The weather cooperated, and the party couldn't have worked out better. A few other parents went tubing too and helped, and except for two kids who didn't want to slide down more than a couple times, no problems on the hill. Even those two had fun when we sang Happy Birthday to Eldest, who had so much fun and was so happy his friends came to his birthday party.

Only glitches -- Littlest was too small to go tubing yet wanted to and threw a couple minor fits, and in the warming tent, another gathering was taking place that was attended by Santa! As soon as he walked in, I looked at wife and said "We're never going to top that." Someone from the other party came over and said our kids could visit Santa, too, but Eldest didn't want to. I'm not sure if he was afraid or unwilling because it was his party, he wasn't going to be upstaged by some guy in a ridiculous red suit.

Sunday was much lower key after the busy Saturday, which was fine: Eldest got to play with his new toys, eat mostly whatever he wanted to, and revel in being 4. It was his best birthday weekend ever.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Saw a brachiosaurus

We did keep Eldest out of school today, and instead I took the boys to a dinosaur museum to which we have a membership. it's a fun museum, with plenty of kids' activities, and it was the first time we went since Littlest began walking full-time. We all had a good time. Eldest played dinosaur games on the computer, Littlest got a kick out of this little cave in the Triassic Period, both loved digging for fake fossils.

Besides it being a good day, it reminded me how much I love our little adventures. Go someplace, eat some snacks I have stashed in the car, enjoy the day. We've gotten away from that since Eldest started school, I'm going to find a way once he switches preschools. I know these adventures won't last forever, that the boys will get older and there won't be as much free time, so I better plan them now.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Ills of society

All four of us our sick. Not tremendously sick, just little lingering colds/coughs that are hanging around. I'm waiting for mine to turn into JARS -- Joe's Annoying Respiratory Syndrome -- basically the bronchitis that follows just about every cold I get. Eldest was coughing a little bit at school (probably where he picked this up, as he was coughing first), and his intolerable teacher asked if he was tomorrow not to bring him in because "he puts his hand in his mouth so much that we can't have that." Funny, we don't see him putting that hand in his mouth at home or anywhere else, something in his preschool is stressing him out enough to do this or the teacher is overexaggerating. Just part of the preschool problems we've been dealing with, more on this to come.

Oh, I did witness Eldest put his hand in his mouth on the playground when I was picking him up -- to lick the snow off his fingers. Yes, the playground was full of snow today and they took the kids outside in it anyway. And didn't try getting his gloves on.

So we might keep Eldest home tomorrow just to avoid me getting called if he coughs once, and me saying something I'll regret later. One day he's not there is one day he's not there, not one day he's missing. We want a good week before Eldest's birthday, no sense spoiling it on Tuesday.

In the meantime, hurray for Mucinex -- JARS hasn't been so bad this time around.