This year we decided to stay close to home for the holidays. Partially out of necessity as we’re going to be shelling out big bucks for a kitchen remodeling in the next month or so and need to keep our costs down but also out of a need just to relax a little and catch a breather before the Christmas Holidays hit us with full force.

We weren’t even going to have a Thanksgiving dinner but Tyler insisted so Izumi went out and got a small turkey and gave it a whirl to great success. The bird was excellent and with sides of stuffing, brussell sprouts, and cranberry sauce, it was a real treat. We popped a bottle of this year’s Beaujolais (warning: tacky flash site) and had a feast.

On Friday, just because we had never seen it in person, we decided to join the hoards at the mall for the annual running of the bulls bargin hunters. While we didn’t make it by the 5 AM openings of some of the stores (we didn’t wake up until 6:30 and there was a mix-up when Izumi navigated us to Pleasant Hill instead of Pleasanton) we did get a sense of the madness at a local toystore. We saw a mad dash for the last box of 100 piece Lego sets for $9.99 – little chipped, “That’s ok, I’ll take it!” says the crazed lady.

The line to pay snaked around to the back of the store but we were there just for a Transformer which we had promised to pick up for him the day before. He had lent it to a “friend” of his that is also in the middle of moving away. His “friend” then “misplaced it” and it looks like the Razorclaw is in a box somewhere on the way to Ohio. Tyler was devastated and there was a valuable lesson in there somewhere about giving up your material goods to the great karma God in the sky but there we were, back at KB Toys for another fix. Anyway, because our Christmas shopping is out of the way (thank you Amazon!) we could afford to be laid back about the hunt and just enjoyed the conversation.

There was a running narrative from the lady behind us who was giving us the lowdown on all the toys we passed in the aisle. Did you know that Mattel has updated the classic card game Uno with a new variant called Uno Attack that shoots out cards at you from a machine? Seems like a thinly veiled way of getting a toy shooter into households that don’t approve of toy guns for their kids, “Look mom, can I have this? It’s just a card game.” Kid later mods it to shoot out poker chips or something and has some real fun. Lesson to teach basic math skills through card game, out the window.

Also overheard was the conversation from the stock room. Inside piece of market data. The Darth Vader Voice-Changer Helmets are not selling well. Maybe for the kids they aren’t. I just read a review on Amazon and it looks like this might be a runaway hit for insecure middle managers:

The mask arrived at the perfect time. Morale was low, and my employees were starting to undermine everything I told them. I found their lack of faith disturbing, so I scheduled an emergency meeting for my team. Showing up five minutes late — waiting until the tension was thick — I made my dramatic entrance into the room. Wearing all black and my Darth Vader Voice Changer Helmet, I could literally see beads of sweat instantly form on their foreheads. My imposing visage made my statement clear — I was the boss.

Sounds like a scene out of The Office.

We finished up our morning with some well-deserved caffeinated drinks and headed home. A couple more stops where we picked up an industrial-sized dustpan (don’t ask), some handmade soap, and some other knick-knacks and we were done for the day.

Later I’ll post about the rest of the weekend which included a trip to the Mystery Spot and Santa Cruz.






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