Monday, December 25, 2017

Every day has a sunset

Christmas morning always comes earlier than I'd like, but the boys were actually somewhat civil this year. The first wake-up call was from, surprise, surprise - David. He tried convincing Angie and me that he should be allowed to open his gifts while his brothers slept because removing all of his gifts would only make it easier for his brothers to find theirs. I tried to explain to David how life really works, but he disappeared in mid-sentence.

A few seconds later, I heard David singing opera as loud as he could just outside Peter's room.

'Peter's up!'

Next, I heard the home phone ringing. David answered and then ran into Tom's room screaming.

'Tom, wake up! Telephone for you!'

Tom then crawled out of bed and grumpily grabbed the home phone from David.


David then pulled his cell phone from behind his back.

'Hi Tom. Merry Christmas! Bwhahahahahaha!'

Before Tom could complain, David had raced into our room.

'You said we need to wait until Peter and Tom are up. They're up. Can we open the gifts now?'

I gave David eight points for creativity, ten points for persistence and twenty-five points for being a pain in the ass.

I then went to the the kitchen for pot. Unfortunately, I could only find the kind that you pour coffee into. Angie and I then proceeded to guzzle liquid energy as the gift frenzy kicked into full gear.

Peter was the first one to strike a pose with his prize gift. Oddly enough, he ignored all rules regarding teenagers receiving gifts and actually liked getting clothing.

In his defense, he also got into knitting with his Oma on our last trip stateside. Okay, this doesn't really help his defense, but I'm sure this outing will score points with my mom.

David took a different approach. He got mega excited about a bell for his bike.

Kids get excited for different reasons, so this might even be normal if it weren't for the fact that David's bike was stolen several months ago and we had already explained to him that he would not be getting a new bike until spring. But hey, have fun with that bell!

Tom took a Mr. T approach.

'I pity the fool that takes pictures of me!'

Let's ignore the fact that the Santa Claus beard-hat was actually Peter's gift from Santa. Peter didn't mind, though, and I'm guessing that you can guess Santa's interest in the matter.
There were many other gifts that were victims of the present-frenzy, but the next one was the one that brought all the gift receivers to a frenzy.

At first, my parents' surprise gift remained a surprise. It wasn't until we explained to them that Oma and Pop-pop had paid for a hotel plus tickets to the Mary Poppins musical in Stuttgart that they started to huddle with joy.

After this year's present frenzy, we made our way to Frankfurt. Today is Sonja's birthday so we decided to surprise her by crashing her pre-planned museum visit with her parents. On the way, we stopped by to pick up Barbara.

A few years ago, we, as a family, handed over the 'late torch' to Barbara and she has never disappointed us. I'm pleased to announce that today was no exception. We were on time and Barbara had just gotten out of the shower. Angie was pissed, I was indifferent and my imagination was cracking up as it envisioned Barbara, snickering away as she blow-dried her hair, muttering over and over again 'yeah, take that for stealing my childhood sticker collection'.

When we got to the museum, we tried not to stand out. As I mentioned, we were there to surprise Sonja on her birthday. I won't say how old she was turning - that would just be embarrassing.

After waiting outside for ten minutes, we called them and asked them where they were. They explained that they had been there for almost an hour and were waiting in the restaurant which, oddly enough, is exactly where we had agreed to meet them. I thought about rethinking my thoughts on whether Angie's brain should be allowed to organize anything, but I looked up and got distracted by a flashy photographer.

The museum exhibition was called 'Diorama' and focused on optical illusions and three-dimensional miniature models. Outside the museum was a an open-air rotunda that boasted a mirrored ceiling. Every ten seconds, the lighting would dim, revealing a second mirror that created the illusion of an endless tunnel of mirrors, which is just what the world needs. One BILLION mini-me's!

With detective-like skills, we eventually found the birthday girl hiding in plain sight in the exact place where we had arranged to meet. Ha, ha - gotcha!

After brunch, we dumped our coats and bags in the lockers by the front entrance and made our way up the elaborate staircase to the exhibit entrance. Heidi had invited all of us so she had the tickets. She handed them to the uniformed lady at the entrance. She had a hand-held bar-code scanner and began to scan each ticket with a level of complete disinterest that I had not thought possible. Each scan registered a BEEP! which was the only sound echoing off the walls. Even the boys seemed to be quietly mesmerized by the robotic movements of the woman scanning our tickets.

As the woman scanned the second to last ticket, Heidi realized that she had reserved a ticket for Leif, who had opted for studying the optical illusion that his pillow makes when his face is planted in it.

'Sorry, sorry! I gave you ten tickets, but there's only nine of us - one person couldn't make it.'

Robot-lady gave Heidi a blank stare and replied without emotion.

'I'm sorry, I'm not the cashier. There's nothing I can do. I've already scanned the tickets.'

The woman then slowly moved the last ticket to her hand-held scanner.


She handed the tickets back to a rather flabbergasted Heidi and Barbara tried to make the best out of a bizarre situation.

'Oh well! There are worst things that could happen.'

Most normal people would have taken Barbara's statement as rhetorical, but Robot-lady apparently felt compelled to chime in.

'Yeah, there are worst things. I just read an article about a pregnant woman in her seventh month that just found out that the baby has a tumor and they could both die.'

Trust me, I have initiated my fair share of awkward silences, but this is probably the first one where I was the one to break it.

'Ok, boys, how about you go catch up with Mama and don't make any eye contact with the lady scanning tickets.'

Like Mama, the boys are crap at following orders. They did run away from Robot-lady, but instead of catching up to Angie, they chose to plop down on some white blocks and pose for an upcoming GAP ad.

The museum itself was a let down for several of us - just for different reasons. For me, it was simple - I thought we were going to be looking at a lot of optical illusions, but there were none. There were just a bunch of miniature models and most of them looked like some of the science projects that Angie and I have made for the kids over the years because they had forgotten about them until bedtime on the night before they were due.

Angie and Barbara got super interested in the exhibition boasting an Axolotl.

If you're a normal human like me, you probably don't know what an Axolotl is. Unlike me, you might actually care, so I'll tell you - it's a Mexican salamander. They then spent about an hour searching for it before Google informed them that the Axolotl is nocturnal. I found it funny that a museum that is only open during the day would have an exhibit of a creature that, by nature, hides all day long. Angie and Barbara were not equally as amused.

Klaus was not amused by any of the exhibits, but it was this one that put him over the top. At first glance, it looked like a Native American riding a Harley.

Klaus and I approached together, both of us wondering what the hell this had to do with optical illusions or three-dimensional miniatures. On closer examination, it was a transvestite Indian sporting neon nail polish and fishnet lingerie riding a Suzuki.

'Oh, this is just ridiculous!'

With that, Klaus exited stage left. On his way out he caught a glimpse of Tommy and David's review of the 'Diorama' adventure. 

Tommy was so happy to leave that he started doing cartwheels on the way out.

David also did a cartwheel. Kinda. Okay, it didn't resemble anything like a cartwheel. He basically threw his body at the ground and damn near broke his wrist.

Angie was glad to leave the museum without any broken bones. I was just glad to leave the museum. I think Klaus was on my side of the camp.

Outside, we herded everyone together for a group photo. Just before taking the shot, Angie suggested that we all go for a coffee.

Like Garth Brooks, Klaus is not big on social graces, so I initially assumed that his glance to the heavens was a call to be saved. Turns out he was just admiring the only interesting attraction that you could see, which, by the way, you could do without even purchasing a ticket.

We then thanked Heidi again. We don't get to see each other often enough, so it was nice to visit with them. In the end, though, we skipped the social caffeine rush, which meant that we were actually on time for turkey time.

The meal was, as always, great. By great, I of course mean that it made us all a bit fatter, but isn't that what Christmas is really all about? I mean come on - just take a look at Santa.

After dinner, the boys tried forcing everyone to join in a new role-playing game that involved werewolves. Horst was the only one that managed to escape that fun. Halfway through the game, as I had my head down on the table and was being tapped on the shoulder to indicate that I was a victim, I reflected on how Opa had actually managed to get out of it.

'Hey, Opa - do you want to play a new game with us where village people use clues to find out who is the werewolf?'


I've learned a lot from Opa over the years, but today confirmed for me that the fountain of wisdom is far from drying up.

After revealing and subsequently killing the pesky werewolf, the younger generation moved into the living room. Peter, David and Tom have been fine-tuning their lady skills and Sonja indulged them for hours as they played games and swapped jokes.

After a nice visit, we made our way home. On the ride back, the boys giddily talked about all the cool stuff they had gotten and how awesome this Christmas was. By the time we got back to the ranch, the cattle had worked themselves into a stampede of happiness.

Every day has a sunset, but it doesn't always end with your children power-hugging you and loudly whispering in your ear how much they love you. Unfortunately. 

Ladder Talk:  [No creatures were stirring, not even a mouse - so I could not get to Ladder Talk]
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: ZZZZZzzzzz....
David: ZZZZZzzzzz....
Tom: ZZZZZzzzzz....

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: ZZZZZzzzzz....
David: ZZZZZzzzzz....
Tom: ZZZZZzzzzz....

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: ZZZZZzzzzz....
David: ZZZZZzzzzz....
Tom: ZZZZZzzzzz....

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