Tuesday, December 31, 2013


In German, you say 'Frohes Neues' for 'Happy New Year'. To pronounce the German phrase with a thick American accent, you would say 'Fro-yes No-yes'. To further butcher their holiday greeting, I took out the yeses and started shouting 'Frono!' at anyone that would listen to me.

As it turned out, nobody listened to me; they were too busy helping. Like Sarah, who was supposed to be making a salad.

I kicked Peter Skywalker out of the kitchen and told him to get the drinks ready. Peter can be a bit lazy at times, so he recruited Chiara to help mix up a few drinks.

After knocking back a few shots of Strawberry, Peach, Mango and Tangerine-flavored Fanta that they are normally not allowed to have, the kids started to get a bit loud. I didn't even try asking them to be quiet; any good parent knows that the only proven way to get children to shut up is to give them a video game. I'm an excellent father.

I used the brief moment of silence to finish the chili I had been cooking since breakfast. As we were setting the table, I realized that it had been almost an hour since my last selfie.

I've suspected it for years, but the tiny bunny ears poking out over my head have finally confirmed it - my children don't respect me. At all.

Dinner was loud, but great. If Angie would have finally given up her naggy little rule that the kids can not eat and play video games at the same time, we probably could have had a win-win meal.

After checking on the apple crisp, I went into the pantry to get paper towels and caught Chiara and Peter. By their feet was a huge pile of gummy bears, candy canes, a bag of hard candies and a pile of cookies. Peter was also caught cold-handed with the ice-cream that was supposed to still be hard when the apple crisp was finished.

In a few years, Peter and Chiara sneaking around in a closet might really worry me, but for now, it was luckily just thievery and deceit. Whew!

After confiscating their sugary loot, I made the rounds to make sure that all of my boys were equally as wound up.

Tommy. Check.

David. Check.

Everyone seemed genuinely excited, but it wasn't at the 'over-the-top freak-out' level that it needed to be before midnight. We still had a few hours to go, but if you don't balance the sugar levels correctly, you can wind up with a bunch of cranky underteens crashing too early. Even worse, they might want to stay up after midnight and jeopardize your all night poker-thon.

I made the call and brought in the Jell-O that Sarah had made. Chiara and Peter's night of kleptomania raged on as they stole the portions meant for Angie and me. Thank you - we hate Jell-O.

I gave it another 20 minutes and then called everyone front and center for another pulse check.

'Over-the-top freak-out' level. Check.

Sarah helped keep the roller coaster going by blowing up a stick of dynamite on our dining room table.

Peter only played it cool until the big bang, followed by confetti and gifts littering the living room. Then he was giggling like a kid as he snatched up tiny toys that only smelled burnt.

In Germany, it is a tradition to melt lead figures on a crack spoon and dump the liquid metal into a bowl of cold water. You then fish out the destroyed figure and use a magnifying glass to read the list on the back of the packaging to determine your fortune for the coming year.

I looked at my watch. With forty-five minutes to go, we had time for one more adrenaline kick and kids, you know, they just love to play with fire.

'Bring out the lead!'

Peter wasn't bored, but he wasn't exactly interested in liquid metal.

'Hey lover-boy! How 'bout you focus on the spoon?'

Peter turned redder than the candle and was probably about to say something quite witty when I started barking orders. See, Angie's not the only one.

'It's time! Let's go! Shoes on, coats on! Come on! Move it! Move it! Move it!'

We made it to the corner exactly two minutes before midnight. Damn we're good.

We had a mega-pack of fireworks and a bunch of rockets to launch, not to mention the stockpile Sarah had brought. I knew that we would be outside for a while, though, so I brought two bottles of Champagne. I know, I know. I put the Boy Scouts to shame.

Peter disappeared with his Godfather to shoot a couple 'real' fireworks.

I stayed behind with Tommy and David, who were still thrilled with penny crackers and sparklers. Sebastian and Peter rejoined us at about the point that Tommy tried to eat one of the sparklers.

'Tommy! Stop singing into the sparkler! You're going to burn your lips!'

I don't get it. I explain in advance how serious and careful you have to be when playing with fireworks, but do they listen? No, of course not. I really don't understand where they get it from.

As we reached the end of our ammunition supply, I came across a rocket with a broken stick and curiosity got the better of me. In case you are wondering what happens when you stick a rocket with only half of the stick in a bottle and launch it, it flies up to about eye-level and then tears off down the street horizontally and almost takes out an innocent group of bystanders who duck quickly and then start shouting obscenities.

I very rarely do stupid things, but when I do, Angie is somehow always there.

'Okay, Rocket Man, I think it's time to go home.'

As we passed the group of people with quick reflexes, I countered profanity with a greeting that is certain to go viral.

Ladder Talk:
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: That Chiara and Alessio came over and that we watched 'Dinner for One'.  
David: New Year's 'cause it was so pretty with the fireworks.
Tom: The fireworks.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: That Tommy cried.
David: I didn't have a worst part.
Tom: That I did hurt me everywhere.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: To play with Chiara and Alessio.
David: I want to say everyone a good New Year 2014 and play with my friends.
Tom: [Tommy's roller coaster ended after his worst part of the day and Blubber-boy could not finish Ladder Talk]

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