Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Tunes

In my humble opinion, all you need for Christmas, in terms of music, is the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas, by the Vince Guaraldi Trio (OK...along with Santa Claus is Coming to Town and Merry Christmas Baby, by the Boss..."Clarence, you been good this year? Santa gonna bring you a new saxophone?"). Vince, Monty, and Colin managed to capture, in a very simple way, the bleakness and despair of the modern, secular holidays...and, at the same time, the hope and love of Christ's birth.

~Steve

The Christmas Chronicles, Part I

It's midnight, December 21st...do you know where your Desi is?

Now there's a no-brainer. Let's see...could she be...wrapping presents???

I would really like show you a picture of what it looks like right now, just 10 feet or so to my left. Desi sitting on the floor, tape and presents and wrapping paper all strewn about...and a Pepsi nearby. But I am prohibited, due to the sensitive nature of the contents of the program. (Get it parents?) That's the why of it. And what exactly is the how of it? How am I prohibited? Well, Desi has given me five reasons. ("Those are good reasons!")

So what you are seeing instead is the first wave of the 2006 Balla Family Invasion. Grammy and Grampy pulled in today at about lunch time. Andrew and Allyson follow tomorrow, and then Grandma and Grandpa finish things off with a Christmas Eve arrival. We are all turning into hamsters for a few days!

Today, the itinerary was simple--a long and delicious lunch at The Chicken Place, a Peruvian restaurant in downtown Wheaton (the Milanesa de Pollo is outstanding!). Then the kids and Grammy played Life, Grampy worked on his daily Sudoku, and Desi and I spent lots of money food shopping for 10 people (ouch!). The evening portion of the show entailed watching A Charlie Brown Christmas (see the quote from above), The Little Drummer Boy ("voice by Miss Greer Garson"), and The Year Without a Santa Claus (Snow Miser/Heat Miser).

And, of course, Mr. Hankey...howdy ho!

~Steve

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Four Ballas Biking

So yesterday we jumped on our bikes, pedaled over to the Metro, and headed into DC, for what turned out to be a day full of various little adventures. Here are some of the highlights from all across town (biking is a fun and efficient way to cover ground at the National Mall and beyond):

Lunch and the Norwegian Christmas at Union Station (We do have some Scandanavian blood running through us.)

Capitol Christmas tree (It's from Washington state this year.)

Treasures of American History (This is an exhibit of the some of the "greatest hits" of the Museum of American History, stored right now at the Air and Space Museum, while American History undergoes two years of renovations. Some of our favorites included Lincoln's top hat, Dorothy's ruby slippers, a sample of Fleming's original penicillin mold, R2D2 and C3PO, Mr. Roger's sweater, and Seinfeld's puffy shirt.)

White House Christmas tree (Let me just say how lame the Christmas displays are on the Mall. This is our nation's common space, our backyard...yet I wouldn't want to have company over with my own yard in such shabby repair. I know, it's probably just me, but I think it's a shame...)

Albert Einstein Memorial (This is one of the hidden gems of DC. A great little park with a bronze statue of the man that kids just love to climb all over.)

Starbucks (We all drink hot chocolate!)

E Street Cinema (This is a collection of small theaters where we have seen some great documentaries and independent and foreign films. This time, we checked out "The Cave of the Yellow Dog", a charming drama of a real-life Mongolian nomad family and what happens to them when their oldest daughter brings a stray dog back to the yurts they call home. Check it out if you get the chance...it is entertaining for both kids and adults.)

Well, it is getting late (and cold!) now, so we hop back on the bikes, pedal over to Union Station, Metro home...and collapse! A classic Balla day...

~Steve