Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Tanory Tantrum's 2012 Christmas Letter

Dearest friends and family,

I hope this letter finds you well. 2012 was a great year for us Tanorys, as are all years that begin with a little midnight hanky panky (even if one's wife doesn't know it).

This year I was remarkably lazy, even for me. For example, January marked the most blogs that I've written all year, coming in at a whopping 9 blog posts. The four people who routinely read my blog were mad, but nobody else noticed, so I guess it's OK. About the only exciting thing that happened in January was that I bought a strap for my glasses, which I've lovingly termed "the strap-on," and wore it for several months before deciding that my chances of having anyone else talk to me ever again were significantly raised when not wearing my strap-on.

[Picture: Me with my strap-on... for my glasses]

February brought on two of my favorite times of the year: The Super Bowl and Mardi Gras! We made mini pizzas in the shape of footballs for the Super Bowl, but they seemed to come apart whenever we played "Tackle the Person with the Mini-Pizza Footballs." They were also hard to throw as spirals.

The family dresses up for a theme every Mardi Gras, and this year we went as characters from Peter Pan. I dressed up as Captain Hook, but later changed because our little cousin David made a much better looking Hook. But I guess there's a flashing cow in Peter Pan, because that's what I changed into. I just can't help flashing my udders to foreigners during Mardi Gras. It's like I have Mad Cow Disease!

[Picture: Throw me something or I'll make you walk the plank!]

March was actually pretty exciting. First, I baked my first ever cakes for Betty's birthday. They were delicious, except for the part in the very center that didn't get cooked all the way through.

[Picture: Crazy-eyed cake killah!]

We also threw a birthday bash for my daughter, who turned 4 in April but we had her party in March. She got a new car, but her insurance is through the roof.

[Picture: Don't worry, she's got her permit.]

This were going great at Annie's party until my son, the super spy, had an epic chase scene through the middle of our party. Just look at him on his getaway car!

[Picture: This spy car isn't going to drive itself through a chase scene, people!]

March also brought along a tornado. Yes, Prairieville got hit by a twister! But even more amazing, I coached my daughter's soccer team, the Angry Birds, to a 6-2 first place championship in the YMCA youth league. (Well, we were either 6-2, 5-3 or 4-4 depending on if we counted certain scores as actual scores. Some of the kids were still figuring out that they can't use their hands in soccer. But nobody was counting, so we're going with my count.) I lost 15 pounds coaching soccer.

[Picture: Still more exciting than watching soccer on TV!]

April 1st brought along April Fool's Day, and I only tricked one person into thinking that I had quit the blog this year. To celebrate Annie's fourth birthday, Betty and I won her some birthday money by getting first place at the Cajun Code Fest code-a-thon held in Lafayette.

There were several really high points in May! For starters, my son turned two and was officially enrolled in the Terrible Two's Training Program. And my daughter had her first dance recital.

[Picture: Making a wish for more loot!]

Also in May, our good friend Jay got married in Natchitoches. Not only did we eat all the meat pies in the Meat Pie capital of the world, but we also had late night at a Huddle House next door to our hotel. (Note to self: the eggs at the Huddle House are radioactive.) I coached Jay's nephews in soccer so was like a rock star there. No soccer coach ever had it so good! While in Natchitoches, we saw the Steel Magnolias house, then watched Steel Magnolias on NetFlix. Don't believe Betty if she tells you that I cried. I totally saw the ending coming.

In June we went to Washington, DC, to show off the software that made us winners of the Cajun Code Fest. We stayed with my wonderful cousin Elizabeth in the Southeast quadrant of DC but partied with our friend Shelly in the Northwest quadrant. Don't worry, we did the cupcake tour that took us through all four quadrants of DC. While we were away on our trip, my son decided to potty train himself. Either that or my parents potty trained him while we were away. Regardless, now I'm stuck as being the only person who continuously wets his pants every day.

[Picture: This really happened]

Also in June, my extended family made a Happy Birthday video for my dad. No family is cooler than mine!

In July we went to the Great Wolf Lodge in North Carolina. We spent our anniversary there, spent Fourth of July there, and then headed to Atlanta for the annual family reunion on Betty's side of the family - which is one of my favorite parts of the year.

[Picture: Great Wolf Lodge makes us have great big smiles!]

On the way to and fro North Carolina, Betty and I shared The Red Pyramid, book 1 of a series by Rick Riordan. We took turns reading it and raced to see who could finish it first. (I won, because I interrupted her while she was reading. Sabotage!) In Atlanta I jumped off a pier in nothing but my underwear and accidentally flashed my junk to a family member while helping my daughter out of the lake. It was a great trip!

In July, Betty and I also took part in a Cupcake Competition. My flavor, French Toast, got crushed by Smores. I was down in the dumps about it until my cousin Ben started a blog, Napkins from Work, where he posts pictures of the song requests that he gets on napkins at Pat O's in New Orleans. It's ridiculously funny and we haven't stopped laughing about it since.

August brought along the Olympics and Hurricane Isaac. It should be noted that, after sitting in our house with no power after Hurricane Isaac, we purposefully subjected ourselves to post-Hurricane-like conditions by going to tailgate at Tiger Stadium for several hours the following week! In August we also went to the Children's Museum in New Orleans, and Betty and the kids got a spot on their promotional video. (My ugly mug was left out of the video. Either that or they're making a second video, "See, the Children's Museum is for Kids of All Ages!")

September... September... hmm, let me think about what happened during this month. Well, the replacement refs were finally kicked out of the NFL after making a horrendous call in the Packers / Seahawks game. Also, we took my son to his first LSU football game (vs. Towson, alma mater of Elmo) and he was awesome! Peter, despite only being two, called better plays than our offensive coordinator.

In October we became serious about selling our house. So we did all the usual stuff: had a garage sale, put some stuff into storage, and cleaned both the inside and outside of the house. I even found a new love for pressure washing!

[Picture: This is the only SFW pressure washing art from this page]

In October I dressed up as Honey Boo Boo for my office's Halloween costume contest. I didn't place, but I was number one in annoying people that day.

[Picture: Why oh why oh why?]

In November we officially put our house up for sale and then got it under contract the day after Thanskgiving. To celebrate the sale of our house and a new beginning in a new house, my sister gave birth to her first child, John Bobby, Jr!

So now it's December. What have we done in December? It's actually been pretty busy. For starters, we went to my cousin Matt's wedding... er, well, just the reception. I had my first and last martinis there, and got to see friends and family that I haven't seen in a while. We also celebrated my birthday, the Mayan Apocalypse, my brother's birthday and then Christmas, in that order. I quit my piano lessons this month but am still working on improving my piano skills on my own time. (If anybody needs someone to play Meat Loaf's "I Would Do Anything For Love" on the piano, I've got you covered!) Last, we found a new house in Baton Rouge and have signed the billions of forms needed to get a new loan.

Sorry that I'm late with my Christmas letter, but just like everything else this year, I've completely slacked. My resolution for next year is to be more proactive... which will practically be impossible to not be, considering how extremely lazy I've been this year.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas, a fantastic 2012, and I hope everyone will have an even better 2013!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The End of the World (As We Know It)

According to people who have no knowledge of the Mayan culture, the Mayans apparently decided that the world is going to end on December 21st.

This is good news for me, as it means that we won't have to celebrate my brother's birthday later in December, so he can't steal any attention away from me. Also, and more importantly, it means that I don't have to buy him a gift, since nobody will be here to enjoy it anyway.

Brother, I would have done something ridiculously special for you this year had we had a chance to celebrate your birthday. Instead, just know that I will spend that money on a slammin' End of the World party in its place. It will be spectacular.

Actually, the Mayan calendar is sort of like the Wheel of Time books by Robert Jordan: a lot of the foundation was borrowed from other sources but it still makes for a fine work of art, it's really all about a never-ending cycle, and the author didn't live long enough to see its completion.

We know of course that December 21st really just represents the end of the current cycle as well as the beginning of a new cycle. Beginnings and endings were very important to the Mayans. And for people who didn't have the Internet to reference or TI82 calculators to store their calculations in, the Mayan calendar is amazingly accurate. You can read more about the specifics of the Mayan calendar here.

So instead of the gloom and doom of thinking the world is going to end, this December 21st I'm going to look at the day as the end of an old cycle and the beginning of a new cycle. I'm going to not only make New Year's resolutions, but New Cycle resolutions as well. This is a time that we can all decide to be better people and live better lives, or we can continue doing the same old crap as always and be stuck in an infinite loop.

So please join with me on December 21st and pledge to be a better you. Whatever you plan on doing, do it without hesitation or fear of failure, and do it to the best of your ability. And don't care if anyone is watching or hoping that you fail - and there will be many - because those people are just stuck in their old cycle.

But no, Brother, you're still not getting a present... unless the New Cycle includes free same-day shipping.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Happy Barfday To Me!

Happy birthday to me!

My birthday was on 12/12/12. That's what they usually call a Golden Birthday, but I had my first Golden Birthday when I turned 12 on 12/12. So I like to think of this one as my Platinum Birthday.

On either one of my two Golden Birthdays, everything I did was Golden with a capital G. When I ate breakfast it was a Golden Breakfast! When I kissed Betty goodbye when I left for work it was a Golden Kiss. When I took a shower it was a Golden Shower.

Uh... let's scratch that last one, shall we?

Also, 12/12/12 was not so much of a birthday as it was a barfday. That's because my family was sick over the weekend and up through my birthday.

It started with my daughter, Annie. She got sick Saturday night and was sick for most of Sunday morning. She started feeling better around noon, just in time for my son Peter to start puking every fifteen minutes starting at 3 pm. The poor little dude... everything he ate or drank came immediately back up. It was tough watching him wretch into a bowl.

I went to work on Monday, but came back feeling like I was going to hurl and/or blow an O-ring. As it turned out, I did both... at the same time. I was running in and out of the bathroom while carrying our trash can, and at one point had both ends spewing like a fire hose at the same time. It was pretty miserable - but good blog material!

Betty's been pretty healthy so far. I mean, she's been sick and has been achy, but I think has been the best off out of all of us. Which only means that it's a just a matter of time before she gets us all sick again.

The circle of life!

So two days before my birthday, I was barfing. The day before my birthday, I was keeping Charmin in business. The day of my birthday, I went back to work and hopefully infected everyone there.

If I can't have a nice healthy birthday, then everyone else should suffer, too!

Betty wanted to make me breakfast in bed, but since we all have a stomach bug, we settled on toast with a candle in it. It was pretty delicious, actually. After dinner we ate cake without icing, which my son threw up later that night. Watching him throw up made me want to throw up, and so...

It was a very Happy Barfday to me!

Thanks for everyone's birthday messages over email, text, Facebook, snail mail and phone. It really meant a lot to me. It meant so much to me that I'm thinking of doing what I did last year, which was to change my birthday on Facebook to be the current day every day for at least a month. It's amazing how many people forget that they just told you Happy Birthday the day before!

Monday, December 03, 2012

How Not to Sell Your House

I've been perusing other people's homes online and in person for almost two months now, and so I think that makes me an expert in how NOT to sell your home. Here are the reasons why we have outright rejected someone's house (written as if I'm talking to the sellers):

1. Filth

The number one "house killer" for us is if you've left your house filthy. You know who you are. You knew we were coming to see it, you'd moved all your crap out of your house, but you didn't bother to clean the damn carpets, didn't bother to clean the walls, the baseboards were brown from dirt, you dumped mop water into your jacuzzi tub and then didn't clean it and all the spouts were growing fungus (yes, we really saw a house like this), and your fan blades were caked with dust. You are filthy swine and nobody should ever live in your house again. They should firebomb your house to rid the neighborhood of all the pests and bacteria that have been accruing there for the last ten years. The worst part is that you lived in all of that filth before you moved out, and we can't see ourselves letting our kids into your disgusting cesspool that you used to call home. Shame on you!

2. Location

Do the train tracks run ten feet behind the fence in your back yard? Is that why all of your pipes have burst and the floor is all moldy? No? Hmm... well maybe you're the person whose house is in a new and glorious neighborhood but is next door to the ghetto. (Baton Rouge is sadly famous for this.) Is there only one entrance and exit from your neighborhood? Do you live at the front of the neighborhood and so every other resident gets to speed by yours? I have to tell you, if you're going to make me fix up all the pipes because the house shakes every time the train passes by, or if I have to have an armed guard at each of my doors because the crime rate in your neighborhood is off the charts, or if I can't let my kids play outside without fear of them getting hit by your dumbass teenager taking turns on two wheels, then you'd better drop your price another $30K. Which leads me to...

3. Price

I know you love your house. I know you made a lot of great memories there. But dammit, you're selling your house for more per square foot than it costs to buy a new house. Why in the world would I ever pay you more for your twenty year old house, where your AC is dying and your carpets needs to be replaced, when I could get something new for cheaper? Do you not realize how this works?

Oh, and if you're the owner of one of the houses that were filthy, then you have no business marking up the price of your house so that it's $25K higher than everything else in the neighborhood. If you want us to pay top dollar for your house, your house had better be frickin' top dollar! You'd better have your house clean, you'd better have a termite contract, and you'd better have something incredibly awesome in and/or around your house for me to pay you that much. Instead of paying more for your house, I'll give you a dollar so you can buy a clue.

4. Amenities

I'm happy for you if you have a pool. My kids are young, so I look at a pool as a hazard to be avoided. Same goes for a koi pond. When you look at a koi pond you probably see your giant orange and white fish serenely swimming around their four square feet of personal universe and then you feel relaxed. I, however, see a death trap. We can agree to disagree.

But if one of the selling points of your house is that you have a giant master bathroom, then there probably shouldn't be a giant crack along the bottom of your shower. If you accentuate your beautiful light fixtures in your house's write-up, the light fixtures should be fit with working light bulbs and the actual light should not be hanging by a thread from the ceiling. (Again, I'm talking to you, Person-Whose-House-Is-Overpriced.)

If you have a fence that is being held up by another long piece of wood, you should probably get that fixed. If your gate doesn't open and is therefore unusable, I'd probably get that fixed ASAP if your house is marked up. A gate and a fence are great things to have, if they're not going to fall on my kids and crush them. If you have a garage door, it would be great if you left the garage door opener for us to use. If you want to state that the house needs work or is a fixer-upper, or is being sold "as is" then we're cool. If not, I'm deducting $10K from my offer to fix all this crap.

Last, but not least...

5. Smells

Never in my life would I think that the smells of one's house would be a "house killer." I barely have a sense of smell, after all. But one house we looked at smelled of cat piss. Not "cat urine" or "cat pee," but full-fledged "cat piss." It smelled like the cats had basically drank all the milk in Baton Rouge and then made it a point to pee on every square foot of carpet. To make matters worse, some kind of aerosol spray was used in an attempt to mask the cat piss smell.

Look, if you love cats, that's cool. I mean, we all have our flaws, am I right? But for crying out loud, clean your house before you put it on the market. If my wife is covering her mouth and nose with her shirt so that she doesn't have to breathe in the smells of your house, something is really wrong.

Also, if you smoke then you should get your house professionally cleaned before you put it up on the market. Not only is smoking a disgusting (and sadly addicting) habit that will reduce your life expectancy, but if you smoke then you probably don't realize how bad your house smells. It smells really bad. Like, almost cat piss bad. Stop smoking, and then spend all the money that you're saving from not buying cigarettes on getting your house properly cleaned.

In conclusion...

My kids perpetually destroy our house. It's like the ancient Egyptian stories of Ra being reborn every morning and having to fight monsters during the night: we pick up our kids' toys every night, and then the next day they take out every single toy and throw it on the ground. It's a never-ending battle.

But when it came time to have people come over to see our house, we had our house clean. The kids toys were put away, the dishes in the sink were cleaned and put away, and the carpets were vacuumed.

We had a plan: if we got a call to see the house, we threw every piece of laundry into a laundry basket and shoved it into the back of our van. And we made sure that any deficiency with our house was fixed before we put it on the market - we had our tiles professionally cleaned, we steam cleaned our carpets, we power-washed the house, etc. We had some work on the siding that was done after an offer came in, but we had tried to get it fixed before. At least we tried!

So if we can do it, so can you. There's absolutely no excuse for a disgustingly filthy, smelly, overpriced house that needs a lot of work. Because if you do choose to put your house up for sale like that, you will end up on somebody's blog, and it will not be pretty.

Good luck!

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Another Successful Tanory Wedding!

My cousin Matt got married on Friday. (Congrats, Matt and Katie!)

The wedding was in New Orleans and a lot of my family came down from Minnesota, Virginia and Texas to be there. We chatted on Facebook and determined that most of my fam was staying at the Marriott on Canal Street, so the night of the wedding Betty and I booked a room at the Marriott on Canal Street.

Wait, what's that? They weren't staying at the Marriott on Canal Street? They were staying at Courtyard Marriott Iberville Hotel on Iberville Street? Yes, we of the Tanory clan are not very good at coordinating activities and schedules. That's part of what makes it so much fun to all get together.

But no worries. Had we stayed at the same hotel as my family, we would have probably all just gone out, got drunk together, possibly tricked our female cousins into going to a transvestite strip club, then gone back to the hotel and played a massive poker tournament until the wee hours of the morning. Instead, we got something better:

A hotel with an Irish Jig competition.

This weekend New Orleans was host to the Southern Region Oireachtas, otherwise known as the Irish Jig Competition in laymen's terms. Girls (and some guys) wore wigs, expensive dresses, lots of makeup and fancy shoes, and jigged around every inch of open space at the hotel. They danced in the lobby, they danced in the hallways... one girl (who won 5th) danced in the elevator for us. They were actually really fun to watch, and everyone we talked to was extremely friendly. It even left an Irish song in my head all weekend.

Having a thousand young girls dancing around me in New Orleans normally wouldn't have been a bad thing, but the Marriott on Canal Street has "fancy elevators" that basically make getting to your room and completely unnecessary hassle. Instead of pushing the "Up" button from the first floor, you instead have to enter your floor number into a large digital pad that is placed between six elevators. Each elevator has a letter (ie, Elevators A - F) and the pad's monitor then tells you what elevator to stand in front of. Also, each elevator takes forever and a day to bring you where you need to go. With hundreds of girls milling around the lobby, it took us longer to get into an elevator than it does to get through the light on Airline and Highland in Baton Rouge during rush hour.

I felt like an old man at that point. I kept muttering to anyone who would listen, "In my day we had two buttons - up and down - and we liked it that way! Gone are the days when you could guess which elevator will open!"

Inside the elevator, there are no buttons. You go where it takes you. And if you get into the wrong elevator, kindly wait 20 minutes for another elevator to pick you up, because that's how long those things take to get anywhere.

I only bring up the Irish dancing and the awful elevators because Betty let me know about them every 10 minutes for the rest of the trip. She didn't want to stay at the Marriott. In fact, she was sure that the rest of my family was NOT at the Marriott, as she had spoken to every other member of my family on the phone or through email whereas I had only Facebooked them 2 hours before the wedding. She wanted to stay at the Crowne Plaza, which is located next door to the Ritz-Carlton, which is where the reception took place. But did I listen? No!

So we walked a few extra blocks from our hotel to the Ritz, because we didn't get to our room in time for the wedding. (The elevators may have had something to do with that.) This gave us a chance to take in some sights, sounds and smells. New Orleans looked and smelled like it always does: like a beautiful, rose-smelling diamond covered in a hobo's vomit. New Orleans is a beautiful and terrifying city all at once. On the one hand, it's the murder capital of the US. On the other hand, it's got some of the best food and music anywhere.

Did I mention that valet parking at the Marriot was $40? Betty assures me that it's probably only $30 at the Crowne Plaza. OK, enough about that!

The reception was awesome! First, it was great to see all of my family from all over the US. We danced, we laughed, we compared unibrow length and thickness. Second, I got to see a lot of my fraternity brothers - some of whom I haven't seen in 10 years! Third, the food was outstanding. Fourth, the band was incredible, and my favorite tune of the night was Sweet Child O' Mine (in which I hit the high note at the end). But last, and key to this blog, was that there was a guy named Craig who worked the martini bar at the Ritz, and we became fast friends.

Craig, if you're reading this, I hate you. I mean, my stomach and head hate you. Also, the rest of me does as well.

Betty and I started out drinking wine. She likes red and I like white. Then I took a shot of something. And then we started drinking blueberry and lemon drop martinis. A lot of martinis. Like, probably 5 each. Or more like 8. I lost count after 4.

So this morning we woke up in severe pain. Our heads hurt. Our stomachs were revolting against the rest of our bodies. I hurled a few times then called for a late checkout and took a nap. When we finally got up, we tried to walk to get food, but couldn't stray too far from our hotel because we needed access to a restroom in case one of us (ie, me) had to puke again.

The wait for the damn elevators took 10 minutes, and then we made six stops on the way down. Betty almost lost her proverbial lunch in the elevator, which would have made for a much better blog post. Our heads were pounding from the Irish dancers practicing their jigs in the elevator.

Finally we made it outside the hotel. Had we stayed at the Crowne Plaza then we would have been close enough to meet my extended family for breakfast. Alas, we were several blocks away, and that was too far for us to sway towards. Walking down Canal, holding our arms out to latch onto light poles and other objects to keep us upright, we probably looked like characters from the Walking Dead. I was sweating profusely by this point, and people were actively avoiding me. I seriously thought about puking in a trash can on the sidewalk. Hey, when in New Orleans, right?

We saw a PJs across the street and made our way across to it, but the line was too long. We settled on getting a Sprite, Powerade and some Ritz crackers from a CVS. Betty checked out while I went outside to get some fresh air. I leaned against the wall outside, hung my head, continued to drip sweat as if I had just run a marathon, and probably looked like one of the homeless junkies swaying and sweating ten feet away from me. The CVS didn't have a restroom, which is lucky for the CVS because I would have destroyed it.

When we got back to the Marriott on Canal Street, I stopped for a brief second while my body told me all the nasty things it was going to do to me. Then I made a run for the bathroom. I was like the star running back on your fantasy football team, sprinting, cutting and bounding away through the throngs of tourists, concierge help and Irish dancers. I burst into the bathroom and shoved aside a kid going into the last open stall, and then puked everything that I had ever eaten or drank in my entire life into the toilet. The automatic toilet flushed. I tasted a hint of blueberry and lemon drop martini, and then I puked again.

We left New Orleans, having done none of our usual activities that we love to do when visiting: we didn't go to Cafe Du Monde or Central Grocery, we didn't get any pralines. We didn't see my family again and we even forgot about the Comic Con at the Convention Center. All we could think of was that we had to get home to our kids. And beds. Because we both needed another nap.

But we did get to see Matt and Katie on their wedding day, and we got to see all our family. And that made it another successful Tanory wedding!