Monday, December 31, 2007

2007—Year in Review

Here's a photo tour of some of our family's 2007 highlights:

My new job at the bookstore. Wow, was my hair long.

Gary being recognized by his employer at a special dinner at Millennium Park. Gary didn't know about the recognition in advance or that I was invited to the dinner meeting to witness it.

Nikolas taking T-Ball lessons. He really enjoyed learning about the sport and he loved his coach. He will be joining the league this Spring.

Celebrating Gary’s 40th birthday with friends, family and Cheese Pizza. What a wild and crazy night!
Nikolas meets his idol at Kiddieland.
Gary and Nikolas first visit to the renaissance fair. Nikolas loved the jousting and got to ride a pony and a camel.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

New Christmas CDs added to my collection this year:

Here are the CDs I have added to my collections thanks to gifts from family this year:

Monster Ballads Xmas

Holiday Classics Volume 5
My sister bought this for me. Her employer, Ace Hardware, put out this charity CD with proceeds going to the Children’s Miracle Network.

Disney Channel Holiday

…And Christmas For All: The Holiday Tribute to Metallica

Hell’s Bells of Christmas: The Holiday Tribute to AC/DC

A Jingle with Jillian

This CD continues a tradition that Gary started of trying to find me the most unusual holiday CD for a gift. Past contributions included Hanson (which I ended up liking), Mary Kate & Ashley Olson (they don’t sing much), The Christmas Chickens, and American Idol’s own William Hung.

This brings my total number of Christmas CDs to 216 and song total to: 3575.

How we celebrated this year

12/23: We celebrated with my side of the family this past Sunday.

Anybody want to claim this gift?

12/24: On Christmas Eve, we put out reindeer food before leaving to hear Grandma Mary play organ at church.

12/25: Santa has come! Thankfully, Chewy stayed up all night to guard the presents.

Nikolas insisted on opening the biggest box first.

The Tower of Loot (and the mound of wrap to the right)

After church on Christmas morning, we went to Grandma’s house for supper and presents with Gary’s side of the family.

Monday, December 24, 2007

WOW Christmas (Word)

A two disc collection of songs by the top contemporary Christian artists. The “WOW” series is to the Christian market what “Now That’s What I Call Music” is to the pop market. Stand outs include “A Christmas To Remember” by Amy Grant, “The Christmas Shoes” by Newsong, “Don’t Save It All For Christmas” by Avalon and Clay Aiken’s version of “Mary Did You Know?”

WOW Christmas

Sunday, December 23, 2007

WCBS FM101.1 The Ultimate Christmas Album Vol. 4 (Collectables)

More great holiday tunes on this fourth collection including “Christmas Is” by Johnny Maestro & the Brooklyn Bridge, “Merry Christmas Baby” by Otis Redding, David Bowie and Bing Crosby’s duet “Peace on Earth/The Little Drummer Boy,” and the comedy skit “Christmas Dragnet” by Stan Freberg.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

WCBS FM101.1 The Ultimate Christmas Album Vol. 3 (Collectables)

The hits just keep on coming with the third CD of this series. Highlights include “ All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Santa’s Doo Wop Helpers, Mavis Staples’ “Christmas Vacation,” Eartha Kitt’s “Santa Baby,” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Me” by The Supremes. My son would add to that list "Jingle Bells" by the Singing Dogs.

Friday, December 21, 2007

WCBS FM101.1 The Ultimate Christmas Album Vol. II (Collectables)

As the cover states “25 more great songs for the 25th of December” including “Dominick the Donkey” by Lou Monte, “Donde Esta Santa Claus” by Augie Rios, “Give Love on Christmas Day” by The Jackson Five, “ Pretty Paper” by Roy Orbison and “Someday at Christmas” by Stevie Wonder.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Merry Christmas to all!

Since this weekend is going to be super busy, I thought I would post a holiday greeting today.
The artwork by Nikolas was featured on the cover of his preschool Christmas program this year.

Christmas blessings to you this holiday season and may the generosity of God's gift to the world fill your heart with joy that last throughout the coming year.

WCBS FM101.1 The Ultimate Christmas Album (Collectables)

You can normally find this disc and it’s five other volumes under local radio station call letters (here in Chicago it was available under WJMK 104.3 when it was the oldies channel). Special selections include “Baby’s First Christmas” by Connie Francis, “What Christmas Means to Me” by Stevie Wonder, “Christmas Ain’t Christmas (Without the One You Love)” by The O’Jays and Brook Benton’s “This Time of The Year.”

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Time-Life Treasury of Christmas Volume 2 (Time-Life Music)

Unfortunately, when they reissued the first volume (see yesterday's post), they did not include Volume Two, another 2-CD set. This coupled with volume one would provide you with hours of holiday cheer. This set includes “The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole, “Jingle Bells” by Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters, Red Foley’s “Frosty the Snowman” and “Jingle Bell Rock” by Chet Atkins.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Time-Life Treasury of Christmas Volume 1 (Time-Life Music)

Oh no! Here is another bummer—Time Life apparently re-released this 2-CD set (on 9/11/01 of all days). When the reissued it, they cut each disc down to 12 tracks. The original 1987 release had 22 songs on Disc 1 & and 23 songs on Disc 2. This was the quintessential Christmas collection, the CD to turn on when trimming the tree or baking the cookies. The holiday classics by the artists who made them famous: Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas,” Gene Autry’s “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” José Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad,” Burl Ives’ “Holly Jolly Christmas” and “Mary’s Boy Child” by Harry Belafonte.

Monday, December 17, 2007


Gary and I have watched ever season of Survivor since it has debuted and this has been the first year that I didn’t really have a favorite to win. I was hoping for Frosti only because he was from the area. I guess Todd deserved to win, but I hated that he won because he was so smug about it. He basically called the jury a bunch of losers, for goodness sake.

I have a theory about the voting (It will probably sound sexist, but God really did create men and women differently): If in the game, a player lies and generally plays a “dirty” game and blind-sides a man, he will be much more willing to give that player their props and their vote (ala Jean-Robert). But if the same thing happens to a female player (like Denise), she will be less likely to “forgive” the player. I also think that even though Amanda basically screwed the same players as Todd, since it was a male dominated jury that tipped the votes to him as well.

Some other random comments:

*Both Amanda and Denise's biggest mistake was not voting off Todd when they had the chance.

*James was too nice/gullible for the game. The only mean thing he did was not giving the second idol to Todd as a thank you.

*With all the pixelating of Amanda’s backend, I am now convinced the girl has a tail.

*Courtney, who I couldn’t stand at the beginning, but grew on me, should keep her survival pigtail style instead of the punk look she had at the reunion show.

*I’m excited about the next season: super fans vs. super stars.

*My idea for the next twist: Delay the final vote until the reunion show allowing the jury to view the entire season before casting their vote OR allow them to change their vote before the results are read.

The Best of Cool Yule (Rhino)

There is lots of good stuff on this collection including “Papa Noel” by Brenda Lee, “(I Want a) Rock and Roll Guitar” by Johnny Preston, Gary Walker’s “Santa’s Got a Brand New Bag” and “Christmas Is My Time of Year” by three out of the four Monkees (Davy Jones, Mickey Dolenz, and Peter Tork).

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Platinum Christmas (Arista)

In the tradition of a great K-Tel records or a Now That’s What I Call Music CDs this compilations of the hit-makers of 2000 includes Britney Spears’ “My Only Wish (This Year)”, David Matthews’ “Christmas Song” and “Christmas Day” by Dido.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Happy Christmas Vol. 2 (BEC Recordings)

More holiday tunes by Christian artists featuring Flight 180’s awesome version of “O Come All Ye Faithful.” Other stand-outs include “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch” by Sixpence None the Richer and The Normals’ “Peace Child (O Come Emmanuel).”

Friday, December 14, 2007

Happy Christmas (BEC Recordings)

This CD features alternative Christian artists performing some alternative renditions of holiday fare (The O.C. Supertones’ “Joy to the World” and “Holly Jolly Christmas” by Bon Voyage) along with some lesser know gems (“You Gotta Get Up” by Five Iron Frenzy and Sarah Masen’s “Heaven’s Got a Baby”).

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Preschool Christmas program

Tonight was Nikolas' preschool Christmas program, "Show and Tell." Nikolas was one of the wisemen, as you can see his crown was a tad too big.

Sorry for the quality of these pictures. We thought we had good seats, but then the preschool teacher and her assistant sat right in front of us and were moving around a lot directing the children. I tried to fix these as best I could.
Nik is on the far right of this picture.

And here he is back in the classroom after his big performance.
A funny side story: Tonight before we left for the show, he mentioned that he didn't want to go to this school anymore. I asked him why not because he has a lot of friends there. He said that yes, he did have friends, but Isabella (who was in his class last year) wasn't there anymore and that she was the "love of my life". Oh honey, there will be many more girls...

Dr. Demento: Holidays in Dementia (Rhino)

Because nobody can stop the onslaught of novelty tunes Dr. D has thankfully provides us with 17 more humorous holiday tunes. Stand-outs include “The Pretty Little Dolly” by Mona Abboud, “Hanukkah Rocks” by Gefilte Joe and the Fish and The Waitresses’ wonderful “Christmas Wrapping.”

Dr. Demento: Holidays in Dementia (Rhino)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dr. Demento Presents the Greatest Christmas Novelty CD (Rhino)

The king of novelty music does Christmas with this 1989 disc. Even though it contains one of my least favorite holiday tunes, Elmo & Patsy’s “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer,” it does make up for it with fun songs such as “I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas” by Gayla Peevey, “Nuttin For Christmas” by Stan Freberg and Bob and Doug McKenzie’s “Twelve Days of Christmas.”

Dr. Demento Presents the Greatest Christmas Novelty CD (Rhino)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas On the Town (Time-Life)

If I was stranded on a polar icecap and could only bring one Christmas CD this would be the one! It has my all time favorite Christmas song on it, Nancy Wilson’s “That’s What I Want For Christmas.” Unfortunately, this Time-Life 2-CD set is no longer available retail, but I did find several offering on ebay. Other great tracks include “Dig That Crazy Santa Claus” by Ralph Marterie and his Orchestra, “Kris Kringle” by Tommy Edwards, “A Marshmallow World” by Brenda Lee and Julie London’s “I’d Like You For Christmas.”

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Very Special Christmas 3 (A&M)

While this third installment is not as good as the first two, it still provides a couple of wonderful songs including “Oi To the World” by No Doubt, “Christmas” by the Blues Travelers and Dave Matthews’ “Christmas Song.”

A Very Special Christmas 3 (A&M)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

A Very Special Christmas 2 (A&M)

This second collection of popular artists’ holiday songs for charity is just as good as the first. “Christmas All Over Again” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, “Please Come Home For Christmas” by Jon Bon Jovi and Paul Young’s “What Christmas Means to Me” are some of the gems.

A Very Special Christmas 2 (A&M)

Breakfast with Santa...and Dora

Nikolas and I went to Brookfield Zoo on Saturday for their Breakfast with Santa. We met my friend Jennifer and her son Michael there. This was our first time and it was very nice. Fisher Price sponsored the event, so there were Planet Heros, Imaginext dinosaurs and Dora & Diego toys to play with in the lobby. They had a nice buffet, with a pancake decorating station for the kids. Besides Dora, they had Rudolf, Frosty, Mrs. Claus and a festive tiger visiting the tables while we ate to wonderful holiday music provided by a three-piece band.

Santa stopped by the banquet room to say hi on his way to meet with all the good little girls and boys. Nikolas came prepared with his list, which Santa asked him to mail to his North Pole address.

I found out from the clerks that were printing out the photos that Mrs. Claus has trouble keeping her eyes open during photos.

All the kids got a "treat" from Fisher Price. Nikolas and Michael both got a Diego ocean animal set. After he got his gift, Nik went up to Mr. & Mrs. Claus and thanked them for the present.
I was really proud of Nik, he kept telling us that he was going to be too shy to talk to Santa, but while we were waiting in line he announced, "I'm not going to be shy!" And he wasn't. Our town has a special mailbox set up for North Pole delivery, so we will be sending his list on to SC this week.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

A Very Special Christmas (A&M)

This charity collection (proceeds go to Special Olympics) has slowly went down hill with every follow-up release—the fourth was a collection of live versions and the final volume (5) was released in 2001. This first compilation features the rock artist tunes you are probably familiar from radio play including Bruce Springsteen’s “Merry Christmas Baby”, “Santa Baby” by Madonna and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” by John Cougar Mellencamp.

A Very Special Christmas (A&M)

Friday, December 7, 2007

A Different Kind of Christmas (Risky Business)

This 1994 release includes recording from artists such as Fishbone and Poi Dog Pondering. Most of the songs are not traditional holiday classics. My favs include “The Christmas Twist” by Syd Straw, “Mary Had a Baby” by Bruce Cockburn and “All I Want for Christmas” by Timbuk 3.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

St. Nicholas Day

Ok, we are Lutheran but with a son named Nikolas we have to celebrate this Catholic holiday. St Nick always brings Nik something to help him celebrate the season and this year was no different.
Christmas sticker story books...

Playmobil Santa and his reindeer....

Here it is assembled (that is an angel--not an elf next to Santa)...

A hippo ornament (Nik's favorite animal).
Santa also left a note stating that he is looking forward to seeing Nik on Saturday when we are going to Breakfast with Santa (and Dora) at the zoo.

A Classic Cartoon Christmas Too (Nick at Night Records)

While the first CD had all the title tracks, this volume has some of the greats like “Heat Miser” and “Snow Miser” from Year without a Santa Claus and “Silver and Gold” and “There’s Always Tomorrow” from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Again, new copies seem elusive—Amazon had listings for used ones only.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A Classic Cartoon Christmas (Nick at Night Records)

All your favorite songs from those timeless animated Christmas classics such as A Charlie Brown Christmas, Santa Claus is Coming To Town and Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer are collected on this and the follow-up CD. Unfortunately, it looks like this is no longer being produced. I did see used copies on Amazon starting at $30.

My Favorite Christmas Music

Yesterday concluded my top 15 single artist Christmas collections. Today I will continue with the first of my favorite compilations (various artists) CDs. Unfortunately, quite a few of these CDs are no longer available retail.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Christmas With the Chipmunks Vol. 2—The Chipmunks with David Seville

This is the title of the record album that I own. The Volume 1 and 2 CDs available both have different covers and neither have the exact same track list as this record. Neither one includes my two favorite tunes “Hang Up Your Stocking” and “Wonderful Day.”

My purchasing recommendation would be to buy Christmas with the Chipmunks [Capitol Bonus Track]. With this CD you will be getting both of my favorites as well as the always-popular “Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late).”