Very Merry Zurek Christmas

No dog to wake me up at 6:00 AM!  I managed to sleep in until 9:00.  What heaven.  We were in no hurry to get moving.  Since everyone thought we were out shopping for a shirt this morning, it worked to our advantage to do it last night.  Breakfast was starting to sound pretty good though.  On to food at that point.

We arrived at The Mansion around 11:00.  Rick and Joe were sitting around the living room watching some sort of cartoons or something.  That was fine.  Alex was exercising downstairs.  I think Rich went down to heckle him through the remainder of his work.  Could be, Rich felt guilty?  Probably not.

Kelli came home around 12:00.  She took Lucy for a walk around the walking path.  Rich decided too late that he wanted to do that.  So we both suited up and headed out.  The path to Valhalla Lake starts on the left.  We walked the path and met a lot of dogs and their owners on the way.  I’d say this was a pretty popular place to go walking.  We saw a spaniel, box, Border collie, a nice mix, and a couple of other dogs.  I really only notice the dogs and not their owners that much.

The wind was pretty strong until we reached the tree line.  The break gave us some relief from the bracing bite of the cold and wet wind.  We reached the lake and Rich saw a muskrat swimming out across the length of the water.  He saw Rich about that time and sunk under the surface.  We didn’t see him anymore after that.  We turned up the trail to go on the dirt path through the woods.  It was a very nice trail and a nice stretch of the legs.  We headed back to The Mansion.

We got back to the house in time for the magic hour.  The Louisville Kentucky basketball game started at 2:00.  I had prearranged to make sure I could watch the game downstairs.  I settled in on the couch and began to get ready for the rivalry game.  Now, I’m a Louisville fan for the most part.  I watched the end of the Indiana Georgetown, which I didn’t really have a vested interest in.  On to Louisville at the Yum Center!

So I followed the game as the family ebbed and flowed around me.  Unfortunately, the Cards didn’t live up to their hype this year as the 4th ranked team.  Kentucky was a much better team this year, for a bunch of sophomores and freshmen.  According to my nephew, Joe, Kentucky had recruited all of the All American players from the high schools.  Amazing.  I guess winning is everything.  So I was downhearted to see that Louisville lost.  I guess I’m not picking them in March Madness.

Upstairs, we arranged ourselves to do the gift exchange.  The little kids along with Erica and Greg sat in the floor to get us started.  The adults took up places around the edges of the living room.  Vanessa acted as Santa to pass out the gifts.  Between the families, we had gifts between the adults.  Everyone gave to each of the kids.  I have to remember how much money Rick got.  I don’t remember seeing it.  Thanks to all for the gifts and the wonderful time to exchange admiring glances and quips.

It was time to decide on what to order for dinner.  Erica and Greg went out for chicken and sides.  Alex ordered pizza and tacos from two different places to be delivered.  This was going to be a lot of food.  Oh wait, these are Zureks and we have a lot of people.  The pizzas arrived first followed closely by Eric and Greg.  Soon, the tacos arrived and we began to eat.  It was all so wonderful.  I think we were hungry by then.

After dinner, the watching of the TV occurred.  We started with Goldfinger featuring a very young Sean Connery.  This was followed by a cult horror flick, even though I like Bruce Campbell.  I came in to work on the blog from yesterday.

Pretty soon, it was time for Vanessa, Chris, and the kids to leave for their room at the hotel.  I just had to have pictures of everyone.  We got the cousins together for a picture.  I’m not sure they were all looking at the camera though.  Even Greg is included in these shots.  I did get Vanessa and her brothers together for a shot.  No outlaws this year.

Now the remaining Zureks have settled in.  Kelli and I are working on blogs in the dining room.  Alex, Rich, Jon, and Patty are in the living room watching TV.  Erica, Greg, Joe, Rick, Patrice, and Janine are downstairs in the basement playing Cards Against Humanity.  It’s definitely a Christmas celebration.

Pretty soon, it’ll be time to go back to the hotel and relax some more.  With some luck, I’ll sleep in again until we all need to meet up for breakfast in the morning.

I’m tired for sure tonight.

Today, we travel to Michigan

I got up with Sascha to get things started.  I needed to make sure she went out and came back in to eat before we left to drop her at the kennel.  Unfortunately, she was spending a few days at the kennel while we went to Michigan for Zurek Christmas.  I knew she wouldn’t be happy about it, but at least she would be safe.  The kennel treats her pretty well, but not as nice as she would like to be treated.  They also don’t have a big red chair for her to take over at her will.

Rick and Rich got moving and we started packing the car.  Now Sascha is aware that we are leaving.  She just isn’t sure how far she is going on the trip.  Not far.  I finished getting things taken care of and Rich got Sascha into the car.  Now we were on the way to drop off Sascha.

I pulled into the kennel and Sascha got a little worried.  She is always happy to get to the kennel and have everyone greet here.  She just isn’t happy to stay.  When it came time for her to walk to the kennel from the office, she jumped on me and held on for dear life.  Poor baby.

After dropping Sascha off, we headed on to breakfast.  I wanted to try out a restaurant in Palatine before we got onto the highway.  It’s called Route 14 Café.  The food was OK, but nothing spectacular.  At least I know now.  After breakfast, the road was calling our names.

I’ve been going down 53 to 355 and then to 80.  This takes me out of the way of some of the major traffic.  The ride was smooth and not too many cars.  We stopped at the Lincoln oasis just before the Indiana state line.  The weather was beautiful.  Hard to believe this was Dec 26!

Back in the car, we keep moving forward into Indiana and then into Michigan.  We head to South Haven so we could visit with Rich’s grandmother.  Busia is 92 and still going pretty strong.  We had gotten kishka and halava for her as a gift.  I was bringing what I thought was Zurek soup to her as well.

We arrived at her house and tried to raise her.  She was telling us to come, but we just couldn’t hear her through the door.  Her voice isn’t quite that strong these days.  Once inside, we hugged and wished each other Merry Christmas.  We sat around the kitchen table and talked about the current state of our lives.  She was getting us caught up on some of the other family members around the country.

I gave her the presents we brought.  She wanted to try the soup right away.  After I had it out, we discovered it was Rich’s mushroom gravy!  He had rummaged through the refrigerator last night and moved things.  This displaced the containers I had arranged so I didn’t have to think about it when I went to pack things.  In all fairness, I didn’t even look at the container.  I grabbed the one where I had placed it for packing.  Good news, she has mushroom gravy for dinner.  Bad news is Rich lost his mushroom gravy for when he gets home.

We soon said good-bye to continue our travels to Holt.  First, I wanted to go by the beach to check out the view.  The waves weren’t too high and people were walking along the pier to the lighthouse.  We went by the cemetery to say hello to Rich’s mom.

As we were waiting at one of the traffic lights, I got honked at by a motorcycle because he was afraid I wouldn’t go when the light changed.  I do have Illinois plates and he just figured I was another tourist.  Funny thing was, he got behind me again after we left the cemetery to get gas.  Stupid guy.  He didn’t honk this time though.

We got gas and headed back on the road.  Along the way, Rich was playing with his new GPS.  It has a lot of cool features that the old one didn’t.  He was playing with the connection between the GPS and his Smartphone.  They just don’t stay connected.  We noticed that the GPS also tells when there is a delay expected on our route so we can take a detour, if we choose.  That will come in handy.

We got into town and to our hotel.  During check-in, we found out that we had been upgraded to a suite!  That’s so cool.  So it’ll be like a honeymoon for Rich and me tonight.  So home for the next few days would be very nice.

On to Alex and Kelli’s house.  They were waiting for us.  Alex was actually in the process of making a cheesecake.  He’s a great cook.  We toured the new basement area with new floor and completed walls.  Alex had gotten his bar into place.  It all looked really nice.  Of course, Rich and Alex had to have a drink at the new bar before we could leave for dinner.

We make a decision on where we plan to eat and then we gathered everyone up.  Rich, Rick, Joe, and I headed out for Famous Dave’s.  Joe navigated to get us there.  We arranged for a table to fix 8 for dinner.  Alex, Kelli, Erica and Greg arrived behind us.  We had a great dinner, joking around, and enjoying a leisurely dinner.  Erica decided that the kids should all go out for ice cream at the MSU store in Mason.  I’m not sure the guys had the opportunity to say no or not.

I believe Greg said he would pay for ice cream, but he said it right when the bill came.  I started to hand it to him, but he quickly retracted the statement.  Oh no, he couldn’t afford that!  It was worth a try.  Alex and I split the check.  It seemed fair.  Of course, I had to get the money out of Rich since I didn’t have any.  Alex and Rich had to finish their beers before we could leave.  I think the waitress was worried that she still needed to do something for us.

Back at the mansion, we settled in to talk as Rich and Alex continue to enjoy libations.  Pretty soon, it was getting late and I was tired.  We said good night to Rick and everyone who normally lives in the house.  We headed over to the hotel to settle in and get some rest before the celebration tomorrow.

First, we decided to go and look for an open store.  We found a Meijer that was 24 hours.  There were few people out tonight.  I went to look for bubble bath to use in the in-room Jacuzzi.  Rich forgot his Christmas shirt and didn’t really have anything to wear for the day tomorrow.  We found a nice red and green plaid flannel shirt.  Unfortunately, the Lions stuff right next to it.  We have a t-shirt and some refrigerator magnets.  A little poorer, we got out of the store and on our way to the hotel.

Good night, all.

 

Christmas Day 2014

We slept in this morning.  That’s the benefit of not having little ones at this time.  Even Sascha slept in this morning.  I think she was tired from the scootering yesterday.  She made three separate trips out.  But she was so happy.

I got up and got Sascha outside where she promptly took up station in my flower bed.  It was going to be a great day for hanging outside.  I went in and started the coffee.  This was second day of electronic newspaper and I still hadn’t gotten the paper on the tablet.  That was my goal today.  I spent the morning snooping around on the tablet to see what I could do.  Then the guys got up.

The first decision was whether to do Christmas first or breakfast.  Rick voted for presents first.  Since Rich didn’t care, Rick put on the Santa hat and passed out the gifts.  Sascha’s gift came up first.  We had gotten a rawhide bone for her, which I stuck in her stocking.  Rick opened the packaging and handed it to her.  The reaction was priceless.  Sascha doesn’t want to chew the bone.  She wants to guard it.  She even growled at Rich when he got too close.  Hmmm, wonder what this is about?

Our tradition is to open one gift and then move on to the next person.  We do this until all the gifts are gone.  I normally don’t have that many gifts, so Rich and Rick continue through theirs.  My bottle tree didn’t come wrapped so that was one down for me.  Santa brought the guys the normal underwear and socks.  There was a fishing lure tying station, a hi-tech turntable, a beagle calendar, and a rawhide bone.

Rich made the statement earlier this year that he needed gargoyles for the garage roof.  I found him a nice pair that I thought might fit nicely.  Now he’s thinking that maybe they would be better on his cube at work.  They might ward off anyone looking for help or who wants to get in the way of some real work.

Breakfast was up next.  I made sausage gravy and biscuits with eggs.  It just wasn’t my day.  Rich’s eggs got a little more done than I intended.  There are just days when things go better than others.  At least I wasn’t making dinner.

After clean up, we each headed off to our own thing.  I got my tablet out and finally got things up and working again.  Now I can read the paper from this device.  Maybe this will be incentive to do more with the tablet.

Over the afternoon, Sascha was keeping an eye on her new bone.  I think each of us spent some time messing with her.  She didn’t growl anymore though.  At one point, she went outside and I put the bone on her pillow.  She came in and went in search of the toy.  She moved it out to the middle of the room and put a guard on it for about an hour.

Rich was fixing dinner tonight.  He started in with his mushroom gravy, which he really loves.  Since the weather was nice, he decided to cook the standing rib roast on the grill.  It worked beautifully.  He finished off with Yorkshire pudding and braised brussel sprouts.  Rich and I had a very nice Merlot with dinner.  Christmas is still one of the better eating holidays in this family.

Rich and I took Sascha for an after dinner walk through the neighborhood.  The weather was still pretty nice.  It was a great day for a walk. Sascha doesn’t like the nose harness we use, but at least she is well controlled.  There might have been a few animals out in the dark since her ears and tail were up as we walked part some of the wooded areas.  We made it through the circuit and back to the house without incident.

This evening, we are very satisfied with full stomachs and happy hearts.  It was a great Christmas here in our house.  We plan to continue and enjoy our vacation and the rest of the holidays.

Merry Christmas to all!

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells
Sascha and Rick on Christmas morning.
Sascha and Rick on Christmas morning.
Rick giving Sascha her gift.
Rick giving Sascha her gift.
Sascha hanging out with Rich before the gift giving.
Sascha hanging out with Rich before the gift giving.
Santa Rick distributing presents.
Santa Rick distributing presents.
I got the platter that Rick made in Ceramics.
I got the platter that Rick made in Ceramics.
Rick got underwear from Santa.
Rick got underwear from Santa.
Rich got underwear from Santa.
Rich got underwear from Santa.
Sascha is only guarding the bone and not chewing it.
Sascha is only guarding the bone and not chewing it.
Quilt calendar for my desk.
Quilt calendar for my desk.
Real Men wear kilts t-shirt.
Real Men wear kilts t-shirt.
Po; Moneky Lounge juke joint shirt that Rich wanted.
Po; Moneky Lounge juke joint shirt that Rich wanted.
Joy got new fuzzy slippers.
Joy got new fuzzy slippers.
Isn't this the perfect shirt for college?
Isn’t this the perfect shirt for college?
Rich got new shirts for work.
Rich got new shirts for work.
Sascha is watching that bone.
Sascha is watching that bone.
Hmm, Fannie May mint meltaways.
Hmm, Fannie May mint meltaways.
Rich got Firefly ornaments for the tree.
Rich got Firefly ornaments for the tree.
New hoodie for Rich.  Let's hope it doesn't catch fire.
New hoodie for Rich. Let’s hope it doesn’t catch fire.
Rick got an all purpose tool for that college dorm room.
Rick got an all purpose tool for that college dorm room.
New beagle calendar for the kitchen.
New beagle calendar for the kitchen.
Prove that science is sexy.
Prove that science is sexy.
Rich got a new Garmin for those driving trips.
Rich got a new Garmin for those driving trips.
Science officer pjs for Rick.
Science officer pjs for Rick.
One of those pair of gargoyles that Rich will find a place for.
One of those pair of gargoyles that Rich will find a place for.

Fly fishing tying station

Rich got a beer calendar.
Rich got a beer calendar.
Still guarding that bone.
Still guarding that bone.

Christmas Eve 2014

Vacation is nice.  I got up early with Sascha, but ended up back in bed since I was so tired.  I got up late because of this rotation.  Breakfast was simple because Rich had eaten in the meantime.

The day was pretty low key.  Rich started the makings for Zurek soup using a recipe that sounded very similar to what Marcin and Aneta had brought for Thanksgiving.

Around 1:00, Barb, Mike and Josh showed up with their new Husky, Damon.  They had lost their previous Husky, Spike, and had wanted a replacement.  Barb had contacted Free Spirit Husky Rescue, where we had gotten Sascha.  Damon was there under the alias of Clyde.  He is beautiful, but really needs some love and care.

They were curious to see if Damon was interested in running.  We invited them to come by and see if he would run with Sascha.  Damon is taller than Sascha, but definitely underweight at this time.  He didn’t mind getting into the harness.  I think he is just an easy going type of dog.  He doesn’t mind too much.

Rich got everyone connected to the lines and headed out.  Of course, Damon didn’t understand any commands, but he followed Sascha fairly well.  He loved to run though.  His tail was wagging and his ears were up.  This was a great way to get rid of some energy.

Gracie, Barb and Mike’s daughter, stopped by hoping to see Damon in action.  We had finished at that time, but Mike had gotten some good video of the run leaving and coming back in.

We went in to get warm and talk.  Damon went around to everyone for his share of the love.  At one point, he allowed Rick to rub him down.  He presented his belly and invited the love.

Sascha and Damon seemed to get along well.  This might have been the first annual Running of the Huskies.  I hope Damon gets a chance to try out more running.  He seemed so happy to do the run.

Dinner was:

  • Zurek soup
  • Pierogi
  • Sausage
  • Rye bread
  • Cheese platter

Rich had me break out some Christmas wine.  This was a white wine with Christmas spices.  It was really sweet, but not too bad.

After dinner, we drifted off to do our own things.  I tried to quilt, but broke my frame!  Rich is working a repair on the broken part and so hopefully I can try again tomorrow.

Finally, it’s time for bed.  We read for a while as Sascha sleeps and makes sounds.  Rick must have been excited by the look of this selfie.  Time for Santa in the morning.

We had Zurek soup, sausage, pierogi, and accompanying items.
We had Zurek soup, sausage, pierogi, and accompanying items.
Rick's selfie as he waited for Santa.
Rick’s selfie as he waited for Santa.