Friday, December 19, 2008

The Christmas Tree Farm

I notice that it was only about three posts ago that we were at this same farm, Old Baker Farm that is. The “middle aged” Baker must love folks like us, and we see him every time we go out there. I doubt that Old Baker cares in the slightest because he just turned 99 or something. We bring all 5 of us out there 3x a year for whatever seasonal item they may be selling. It is fun, don’t get me wrong…

Brenna and I were looking at each other after about 2 minutes realizing that 3 kids in a Christmas Tree farm creates certain “containment” issues. The kids are quite adept at Sun Tzu’s Divide and Conquer strategies by their very nature. They all split up and run in a tree farm where hiding is not only easy, but can be done without even intending to.

We spent a lot of time yelling the kids names when they were 5 feet from us. “What?” would be heard from the missing kid from right behind a nearby tree.

The search was difficult this year. We don’t have a big spot for the tree, so only a certain size would be practical without needing a Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation type of moment. You know the one…The tree’s too big and he ends up using a chainsaw in the driveway to make it fit. This scene also presented all of us with one of my favorite bits of script

Todd Chester: Hey Griswold. Where do you think you're gonna put a tree that big?
Clark: Bend over and I'll show you.
Todd Chester: You've got a lot of nerve talking to me like that Griswold.
Clark: [looking at Todd's wife, Margo] I wasn't talking to you.

Yep, it’s still funny, but I digress.

We walked forever to find a suitable tree, and during that process, the kids got bored and ended up sprinting through a muddy corn field. Cute, but it didn’t help with any of the tree search. Bryce and Ansley were off and running!

Aiden wasn't far behind either.



When we did finally happen onto a good tree, Bryce insisted that we take a vote on it. I had to modify the voting rules so that the parent’s votes counted 2x as much as the kids’.

Why you ask? Simple...

I knew they would gang up on us and pick a 150’ tall sequoia of a tree complete with an extended family of flying squirrels, a bee hive, and a bear living in the trunk… Fortunately, Brenna and I won the vote, and even more fortunately the kids didn’t fully understand my blatant vote rigging that even a Illinois politician would have been proud of...

Here is a mental note for our selection process next year and something for any of you first time parents, never give a saw to a kid that is wearing his coat like a superman cape. Things can go wrong…


Look baby goats! Can we take one home???

Trimming the Tree

When we got the tree into the house and opened it up, we noticed that it has a bad case of tree scoliosis, and as the kids put it, “Its Fat!”
I don’t care that the angel is leaning precariously and that it’s obese. The tree is fat not the Angel...
It’s a great tree and will hold a whole ton of presents!

I wonder if a Titanium Bike would fit under there?

Winter Mountain Biking

It’s been a while since I wrote anything related to biking, and I’m sure that you have been holding your respective breaths for more adventure stories. Well then! Wait No More faithful readers!

I took a good 30+ mile mountain bike ride that included Oak Mountain to see some of my favorite trails. I figure that even during the darkest part of the year I needed to get some riding done and it was a good day for it. (45 degrees and cloudy) Well, with three kids, one must ride when one has the time rather than when the conditions are perfect.

Cold Toes

I rode out and found that the recent and seemingly unending deluge of cold rain has changed the trails a good bit. Trails that, during my past rides this year, had been in great shape were transformed into washed out rivers of mud and displaced rocks. I realized that a “fast” ride was not going to be in the cards as I had to bounce and yank the bike over and around an array of rocks dislodged by the rivers of mud as they coursed down the fire trail that we ride to the top of the ridge; never mind the fact that I was dodging these while trying to navigate the slop and mud as well. I had mud everywhere possible when I reached the section of the trail with several creek crossings. These creeks had been dry in months past, but I found instead raging torrents…ok that may be a bit of hyperbole…let’s say there was actually water in them for a change. Of course this water was about 40 degrees and on the last crossing I found that when one is clipped into pedals there is a point that you can’t get your feet high enough to cross without soaking yourself. When it happened, I thought, “Well that’s just great since I have 20 miles to go” Ok, I’m paraphrasing there…the actual thoughts were far more…uh…linguistically colorful.

By the time I reached the top of the ridge and started down the single track to Blood Rock, I couldn’t feel my feet at all. That is probably the farthest point from the house too, so I was in it for the long haul. Numb feet and all.
Oh well…biking is fun right?

Wear a Helmet!

I met a fine example of a Blood Rock victim when I got to the bottom of that section of trail. He was covered in blood, mud and was still smiling. Being that his physical and apparent emotional condition seemed an odd combination, I figured that he must have a concussion, so I stopped. He had literally split his helmet in half. Not dented but completely split it. It was held together by the cosmetic plastic shell and straps. I was amazed that he hadn’t killed himself with an impact like that. We walked for a bit as he recovered, and I think we should set his helmet up in a shop somewhere to encourage others to wear one. Had he not had one, he certainly would have been in serious trouble, like eating hospital food and needing adult supervision…forever.

Nature Modifies a Bridge

Toward the end of the ride there are a series of bridges and I rode up on this one pretty quickly. Thank goodness for disk brakes! I’m thinking that the winter rain and storms of late have really taken a toll on this trail, and I am curious how long it will be before the park rangers or the B.U.M.P team chop up the tree and rebuild the bridge.

Personally, I think they should leave the tree right where it is and build a cool narrow slatted bridge up an over it. That tree is big enough to not go anywhere for years. It would be a neat feature for the trail but probably a maintenance problem, so I’m guessing that my idea won’t go anywhere.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Getting old

For my most recent blog update it is probably somewhat incongruous that my subject is about getting old and the method of blogging is via a cell phone... ah nevermind.

Two things:

It's official, am getting hard of hearing. I swear I just heard my daughter yell from the bath that she needed me...ahem..."to make lobster bisque for Aiden". As I am sure this is not what she said, I am sure I have lost my hearing.

Secondly, since I have not bothered to go and find out exactly what she needed, I am sure that I have become "the old man" around the house.

Fun fun!!