Michelle has two dogs, and how they would get along with Tanner was the major wildcard of this trip. It turns out Tanner was fine with them, and Scout the beagle was fine with Tanner, but Ebi the corgi was not fine with Tanner. As soon as Michelle let the dogs out, Ebi jumped on Tanner and bit his ear. I pulled Ebi off him, and Tanner retreated, with Scout bounding off after him. Michelle and Eric reined in Ebi, and after Scout and Tanner got introduced, they tried again to introduce Ebi to Tanner, but Ebi still was nipping at Tanner. And Tanner got right in Ebi's face, making it very clear he wasn't going to put up with that crap. So long story short, Michelle's dogs spent most of Christmas weekend in their kennel, and barked at Tanner whenever he went outside (Tanner slept in the guest cottage with me, while her dogs slept in the house).
When Tanner wasn't dealing with the dogs, he was trying to come to terms with the baby. This was my first time seeing Grace. She's cute enough, with big ol' chipmunk cheeks and a tuft of blond hair. She seems pretty chunky, I suppose--everyone comments on what a big baby she is, but she seems fairly typical to me. She's nice enough, I suppose, as babies go, and I'm sure once she can talk and control her bodily functions, we'll get along swimmingly. Tanner didn't like her, though, especially when mom or I would hold her. I think Tanner was afraid he was being traded in for Grace, and we were going to leave him there. He never really relaxed the whole trip, and just didn't have a very good time. On a happy note, Tanner was so upset, he would get even more anxious than usual when seperated from me, so I was able to get out of going to church on Christmas Eve. Stayed home and checked out Michelle's digital cable instead.
Christmas was fine. I got pretty much what I expected. Not a lot of gifts, but mostly stuff I wanted. I got the latest releases of MST3K and The Simpsons on DVD, as well as Lifeboat and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I also got some books, an Allison Moorer CD, and a clock radio into which I can plug my iPod (works pretty good, except it lets out a horribly obnoxious beeping when you set the alarm, which is annoying when you're trying to set the alarm at two in the morning and others are asleep). My sister got me a martini shaker with stuff in it, so that you can make a lemon drop martini just by adding vodka. Neat idea. I got my sister We Love Katamari. Unfortunately, so did Eric. So I need to return that for her and get her a gift card. I also burned her a copy of the Katamari Damacy soundtrack, which I put inside an iPod box, to keep my mom from guessing that I was giving her an iPod (used, my old 20 gig model). We listened to my iPod on the drive up, and she had nice things to say about it, and seemed very excited to have one of her own (especially as she will be flying up to Michelle's pretty regularly, and will have a lot of time to kill in airports). I had uploaded her CD library onto the iPod, as well as other CDs I thought she would enjoy. I got her Brian Setzer's Christmas album, among others. Then a few days before we left, she suggested that I buy "Barry Spitzer's Christmas music" for us to listen to on the long drive. Once I figured out what she was talking about, I was bummed she had to come up with that idea independently. But she was still surprised on Christmas morning. She even said, god help me, "Now I can listen to Barry Spitzer on my iPad" (I've given up on correcting her, instead just trying to move her over to at least a more reasonable wrong name, like "Brian Seltzer"--I mean, I'm pretty sure no one named Barry has had much success recording rockabilly songs). I also gave her a copy of The Orchid Thief I came across while cleaning out my closet, which I thought she might enjoy, as well as season two of Columbo (unfortunately, I bought season two on sale some time ago, unaware that season three--which includes the Johnny Cash episode--would be out in time for Christmas). I got Eric a collection of home-made monster movies on DVD, which he seemed to enjoy, as well as some odd CDs. But the most exciting gift was probably Michelle's gift for Mom. Through a friend with extensive connections, she was able to get my mother a personally autographed picture of Judge Judy herself. Quite a coup.
Christmas was over around 9:45 or so, and I went back to bed. After I got up and we ate, I joined Michelle and Eric on a trip to the movies. We were going to see the dreamworld of magic that is Narnia, but it was sold out. So we saw The Producers. It was okay, not nearly as bad as the reviews suggested. The direction of the film was terrible, but in a rather fascinating, what-the-hell-were-they-thinking-when-they-set-up-this-shot sort of way. The main problem with the film was that it was unnecessary: Most of the funny bits in the movie are from the original, and were better back then. In particular, Matthew Broderick is no Gene Wilder. Making the whole thing seem particularly pointless was, that the weakest part of the musical is the music. The songs aren't funny, and just serve to slow down the pace. The only exception might be Will Farrell's numbers, which were pretty funny, especially his audition. I can't really recommend it, but it's not as bad as the reviews suggest.
After that, we had dinner and killed time playing games. Mom got herself a game for Christmas, the Turner Classic Movies version of Scene It, one of those DVD-based board games (and let me just say right now, someone needs to release the old Clue VCR mystery game on DVD...I bought the original off eBay some time ago, but was shocked to learn that just about anyone else who remembered playing that game in the early '80s had rather unpleasant memories of it, and getting people to play it with me is difficult). We played a game of that, and Mom won, though I was at least competitive, while Michelle didn't do very good (Eric doesn't watch many old movies, and it showed). Mom had one handicap in the game, though, in that she couldn't keep her mouth shut during the DVD segments, and would repeatedly give away answers to the question that would ultimately be asked. After that happened several times, a clip from To Have and Have Not came up, and Mom volunteered that Lauren Bacall was 18 when she acted in that film. I joked that the question would be about Bacall's age, and then, sure enough, the question was, "How old was Lauren Bacall when this movie was released?" The answer was 20, not 18 (though she might have been 18 when the film was shot, if it took a long time to release), but it was multiple-choice, so Eric got it right. Yet after that, Mom still would talk during the questions. (We played another game last night--Michelle is down here for a wedding--and things went more smoothly, and though Mom won again, it was an extremely close game)
We drove back Monday morning, leaving around 7:30. I was sure that traffic would be much worse on Monday, especially as it was raining. But it wasn't bad at all. The only traffic we hit was by Magic Mountain. We were home by 3:00, and Tanner was very relieved to be back on his own turf (so was I, truth be told). It was too bad that Tanner didn't get along with Michelle's dogs, but otherwise it was a good trip.