Two Weeks Before

We took Will to see the Nights of Lights at Lake Lanier a couple of weeks before Christmas. Will really enjoyed all of the lights, and he enjoyed the carnival rides at the end even more. He rode a children’s ride all by himself, and he had the most intriguing, mischievous look on his face the whole time. We rode a merry-go-round, a roller-coaster, and bumper cars, too. I was really impressed with how stoic he was in the roller-coaster. He wasn’t scared of the rickety, unsteady, high-G turns whatsoever. While riding bumper cars, we had to fight over the steering wheel – which was apparently quite funny for Malin to watch.

Also a couple of weeks before Christmas (or maybe it was more like three weeks…), Malin and I received our Christmas gifts from one another. We bought each other stuff to open on Christmas day, also, but our main gifts were wrapped up well in advance of the big day.

Malin’s early gifts were a fancy new lens for her camera – a Nikkor AF 85mm f1.8D – and a new PDA phone – an AT&T 8525 Pocket PC Phone (with Windows Mobile). Unfortunately, I don’t know how to use her camera (the D200 is not for casual, point-and-shoot photographers), so I can’t show you a picture taken with the new lens. I can post, however, a picture of her new phone. It’s fancy (and was less than a 100 bucks, refurbished):

AT&T 8525

Malin’s gift to me was allowing me to buy new wheels for my Camaro. It was in desperate need of a full set of tires anyway, so what better time to buy new wheels, too? I didn’t actually take a “before” picture, but I found this picture online of a car that looks just like mine. So here is the car’s old wheels:

Camaro with factory 16 inch wheels

Here’s a shot of the new wheels. Will is there, pointing out a train going by (there are train tracks not too far from our house that, because we live on top of a hill, can be seen from our yard):

Camaro with 18 inch C6 Corvette wheels

The difference may be subtle in appearance (though they stand out to me…), but the biggest difference is their size. The old wheels were 16×8 with 245-series tires (meaning the tire’s contact patch with the road is 245 millimeters wide). The new wheels are 18×9.5 with 275-series tires. That means the sidewall is one inch narrower, and the width of the contact patch is over one inch bigger. Both of those facts add up to one thing: better handling. They aren’t quite as good for fuel economy unfortunately because the total weight of the bigger tire and wheel is greater than before, but I haven’t really noticed a difference so far (and I’ve gone through three tanks of gas with ’em).

To make sure you get a good look at the new shoes, here are a couple more shots:

The Weekend Before Christmas

The Saturday before Christmas, we went to dinner with my mother-in-law. This was our main Christmas gift to her: a fancy-schmancy dinner.

We ate dinner at the Dining Room at the Buckhead Ritz-Carlton. Our friends Scott and Karyn watched Will for us that evening. Dinner was awesome. We had a very nice bottle of wine (a Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley in California – I can’t remember anything else about it right now, I’m afraid), and a fantastic eight-course dinner. The menu indicates only five courses, but that doesn’t include the amuse bousch or pre-dessert. It also didn’t include an impromptu course that was described by the server as a “gift from the chef.”

Dinner was phenomenal. Highlights follow:

  • Butternut Squash Soup with Maine Diver Scallop, Date Cream, and Apple Shavings.
  • Beef Tenderloin with Duck Fat Potatoes, Robiola (a type of goat cheese) Gnocchi, Osso Bucco Carrots, and a Confit Shallot
  • Peppered Goat Cheese (lots of black pepper) with a Celery and Arugula Salad with Piquillo (sweet red pepper) Jam

The next night, Malin and I went out with several friends of ours. Scott and Karyn (our babysitters from the evening before), Bob and Christine (newly-weds whose wedding we attended in July), Jake (my brother), and a few other friends of friends. Christine and Karyn are both pregnant, so Malin coached the two of them through much of the night, assuaging their fears and anxieties, no doubt.

We took this large group to one of our favorite places in town: the Brick Store Pub in downtown Decatur.

A good time was had by all, and the next day was Christmas Eve… (you’ll have to wait until part 2 to hear about that)