Monday, December 12, 2011

Family Adventures: A Very Busy Saturday

Image via The Coca-Cola Company

Saturday was chock full of fun. We headed out late morning and didn't make it back until after Our Girl's bedtime. If there was a theme, it was Santa Claus. At eight years old, Our Girl still seems inclined to believe but I'm getting the feeling we may not have much longer. For instance, she has something she wants to put in our stockings this year so I think she's catching on that much of the magic of Christmas morning occurs with parental assistance.

First, we stopped by the Jericho Center Country Store to visit with the Jolly Old Elf himself. The store has been in business for a couple of centuries now, since 1807. They take holidays seriously. In addition to Santa, they have a great haunted house at Halloween.

Then on to the Fine Scottish Bistro (aka McDonald's) for lunch. Yes, I know all of the horror stories. I've read Fast Food Nation and seen Super Size Me. The Playwright spent much of Thanksgiving weekend regaling us with tales of all the unmentionables that go into McNuggets. I know that choosing McDonald's for a family meal is downright irresponsible. But it's fast, cheap, convenient and an easy sell for the kid. She and My Wife both got Mighty Kid Happy Meals so she managed to score both a Hello Kitty toy and a Bakugon.

Our nearest Mickey D's is now open 24 hours, both lobby and window. Long gone are the days when I had both hankering and freedom to pursue a 20-piece box of nuggets at 3 o'clock in the morning. The last 24-hour McDonald's I went to was in Roppongi in Tokyo some 13 years ago when I had the lifestyle to appreciate it.

Next, a movie at Essex Cinemas. Film is more or less the household hobby, though it's mostly home viewing. We haven't gone to the theater very much as a family. Essex is the closest cinema to us and the last film we saw there was the original Happy Feet, released in 2006. That was, in fact, the first time we ever took our daughter to a movie theater and it completely freaked her out. She did not deal very well with the dark combined with loud noises. We did better with Ratatouille the following year. But then I took her to the IMAX theater at the Natural History Museum at the Smithsonian and the 3-D Deep Sea did not go over well at all.

Our Girl is older now and with so many great family films out at the moment, it seemed worth trying again. We showed her the trailers for Arthur Christmas, The Muppets and Hugo and let her choose. This won her over:

We're big Wallace & Gromit fans at our house. As such, we all had high hopes for the latest Aardman Animations production. This was the first picture of her own choosing that Our Girl ever posted on her bedroom wall:

Photo via Video Games Blogger

Essex Cinemas has done quite a lot in the past few years to draw couch-bound ciniphiles like us back to the movie theater. They now have several 3-D screens, including their T-Rex Theatre, opened in 2010. We might have to check that one out at some point, as well as their Club Take 2 for the 21 and over crowd.

This was actually my first time seeing a mainstream movie in 3-D. Our Girl wasn't freaked out at all, either. I asked My Wife afterward if she thought it was worth seeing on a big screen or in 3-D and she said no to both. It's still far cheaper to wait until we can watch at home so such considerations are important.

Image via

I thoroughly enjoyed the film, a CGI affair as opposed to Aardman's usual claymation. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars on Netflix. I'll admit there were times when the story dragged a bit but I had genuinely watery eyes by the end. So, for the record, that's no tears for The Time Traveler's Wife but plenty of them for Arthur Christmas. What can I say? I'm a sucker for "Spirit of Christmas" stuff.

After a few errands, it was on to the Mocks for dinner and board games. Mrs. Mock made yummy beef yakitori for dinner. Afterwards, we introduced them to a game we've been playing for a few years now: Carcassonne, a medieval-themed map building game. My Wife prefers board games that are easy to learn and can be played in under an hour. I favor ones in which no one is eliminated - everyone gets to play through to the end. Carcassonne meets all of the above requirements.

Image via Collections Wow

It's good to share games with friends for many reasons. The Mocks invented some new Carcassonne jargon. Mock referred to a card played without a follower attached to it as an "orphaned" tile. Mrs. Mock determined that one of her monks was a Hare Krishna. Mock won - beginners luck...

Next, we set up a more child-oriented, cooperative mystery game (title?) in anticipation of the kids joining us. Wouldn't you know it, they begged off, leaving us to solve the mystery on our own! What gives?

Finally, homeward. It was a great day but I was exhausted, in bed by 9:30 - quite early for me.

On the broomball front, we lost again, 3-0, but we played hard. I took three spills in the span of about 5 minutes. The first time, I banged up my shin. The second time, I was wounded in pride only. The third time, I landed hard on my backside and was genuinely worried for a moment that perhaps I'd broken my tailbone. I didn't. Three days later, I'm healing just fine. I actually managed to play some afterward, though I sat for the entire third period. There's talk of playoffs this coming weekend but I've heard no official word yet.


  1. ...Santa brought Nan a NEW W & G short that we can share with you on Saturday!!!