Dec. 31: It’s been real, 2008.

Oh, you. You people coming here looking for something interesting or amusing or informative. You’re silly. I have nothing interesting or amusing or informative to say. I have no year-end review. I have no resolutions to share. I do, however, have a disgusting cough and am on the verge of hacking up some semi-important organs. That very real concern is keeping me from doing much of anything else this evening.

We’re less than two hours away from 2009. I had a busy and exhausting day and I’m not sure I’ll be able to stay awake until midnight. This makes me feel old; I don’t think I’ve missed ringing in the new year since I was 10 years old. Le sigh.

We’ve got tickets to The Color Purple tomorrow night. It’s one of the big shows of the Broadway in Portland season this year and I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully my cough won’t piss off the performers.

It’s anticlimactic, yes, but it’s my last post of 2008. See you next year.

Dec. 30: The Manullangs’ holidays

During our Christmas celebration last year we made plans to spend Christmas 2008 in Sunriver. Because that’s been our plan all this time, we handled a lot of our decorating and gifting with that in mind. We considered not putting up a tree here at home, but eventually decided to put up an artificial one, just to give a somewhat holiday-ish look to the inside of the house. Vic put up some lights and yard décor, as usual. We got a wreath. Otherwise the house looked much less Christmas-y than it usually does.

Most of my shopping was done in late November (I try to order online as much as possible) and I simply had to wait for deliveries. There was just one trip to the post office needed, which I planned to make sometime in the two weeks before Christmas. I also made sure that the gifts we purchased for the people who would be in Sunriver with us were small and easy to transport so we didn’t have to leave any of them at home.

We arranged to kennel the dogs and have one of the neighbor girls check in on the cat and fish. Distributed small gifts to the neighbors early. Planned little to no holiday baking.

Then the storm hit. Portland is crippled with an inch of snow; we got several inches in one day. School was cancelled every day for the last week before vacation was to begin. The errands I could have run while the kids were in school could not be run because 1) they were home, and 2) I could not get out of my driveway.

The city was just beginning to handle it and return to normal when the second phase of the storm hit and we got several more inches of snow. The next day we got freezing rain. For two days after that, more snow. It had been years since we’d had such bad weather for such a long time.

At first my biggest weather-related concern was whether my mom could get here from Medford. She planned to drive up the day before we were leaving for Sunriver. Knowing that we were expecting freezing rain, she was able to shift her schedule to come up early and avoid it.

In the mean time, Daryl and Sally’s flight from Boston was cancelled and rescheduled to arrive in Portland on Tuesday (three days late).

The cold temperatures last longer than we all expected, and the roads were virtually impassable the day we were supposed to leave Portland. We decided to try again the next day in the hopes that the roads would be better. They weren’t. With great regret, we cancelled our trip to Sunriver.

Our relaxed days of celebrations were now going to take place at home. My mother-in-law and I delegated the gatherings and we planned from there. Vic baked chocolate chip cookies. I made a batch of Russian tea cakes. We dug into the popcorn can gifts we’d received rather than make any more last minute goodies. I was wishing we’d decorated a little more, but at least we had a Christmas tree up. And really, with all the snow outside it was hard to forget it was Christmastime.

Everyone came to our place for Christmas Eve (“everyone” being Wellington, Darlene, Mary, Daryl, Sally, Presley, and the four of us). We had our traditional Chinese dinner and used our Chinese dinnerware. The kids opened some gifts, the most fun being Mad Libs (remember those? They’re still just as fun!). Mom gave Presley and Katie matching snowman jammies and Jack got some cool light-up Star Wars jammies.

Mad Libs!
Scout could hardly wait for us to clear out some of the gifts under the tree and make room for her to lay down
Darlene and Mary: Don't we have the cutest grandchildren???

The kids woke up around 7 on Christmas morning. It nearly killed them to wait for us grown-ups to come downstairs, get coffee, find the cameras, get comfy on the sofas, and finally give the okay to start tearing open their presents. The biggest hits were the Nintendo DS game systems for the kids, a gorgeous ruby ring my sister gave me, and the gift cards Vic received. Mom also kinda liked her ticket to see Wicked with me in March.

Later that morning we (barely) triumphed over the ice and snow on our way to Darlene and Wellington’s, where Daryl had prepared brunch for us. We all had more gifts to open and spent the afternoon relaxing and wondering how we were ever going to be hungry for the dinner we had planned. It was a relatively perfect day, and the first true white Christmas I’d ever seen in Portland. Katie and Presley both got American Girl dolls from Grandpa & Grandma and spent most the day changing their clothes. Jack spent most the day being very happy he did not have an American Girl doll.

Jack, Scout and Katie anxiously awaiting the official start of Christmas morning
Sally and Presley
Katie and Presley

Of course, we ate a huge dinner because that’s what Manullangs do. Eventually the four of us and Mom trudged back over the ice and snow for the 1.2 miles home. Thank goodness for tire chains; we saw lots of cars stuck and abandoned.

Temperatures rose on Friday, and by Saturday Mom decided it was safe to drive back to Medford. Later that day Ted, Alec and Abby came down from Seattle. We all met for dinner at the Spaghetti Factory, then went back to Darlene and Wellington’s for more gifts.

Sunday morning Darlene and Wellington hosted breakfast before Ted, Alec and Abby headed home again. Just before we went over to their house, Jack lost one of his two loose front teeth. He was very excited to show off the big gap in his mouth.

Jack, toothless

Tomorrow evening everyone’s coming over to our place again for New Year’s Eve. Katie and Jack have informed us they’re staying up until midnight this year. We’re pretty sure Jack will crash before 10, but Katie’s a late-nighter so she’ll make it, no problem.

Our holidays weren’t much like we had envisioned all year, but we have few complaints. We were all together and had a joyful celebration. That’s what it’s all about, right?

Dec. 30: Babbys

How have I missed this little gem?

If you’ve spent any time reading message boards (most any kind and for whatever reason; I’m not making judgments here... nope...), you’ll enjoy How is Babby Formed.

Dec. 27: A gift of mental illness

Vic gave me a puzzle for Christmas. It’s a Wicked puzzle, 1000 pieces, and as you can see, the colors are primarily black, green and white. This means it’s nearly impossible to put together and will cause me much frustration. And he knew this; you know he considered this before he bought it.

For this reason, I’m pretty sure Vic’s counting on the puzzle to make me crazy. He wants me to end up institutionalized, wouldn’t you agree? He reminded me how lazy he is and said it seemed like an awful lot of effort to get rid of me, but I said, “That’s the genius part. No one would ever suspect it was the puzzle.” He shook his head and walked away.

He does that a lot.

Dec. 27: Scary family tree

This morning Jack called my mom’s dog “Uncle Gilly.” I suppose that’s about right, if my mom’s Gilly’s mom too. That means Gilly’s my brother and Jack’s uncle.

Vic: “Then I guess Gilly’s my wacky brother-in-law.”

Jen: “Lucky you! You’ve got a nutty sister-in-law who drops her pants at parties, and a brother-in-law who thinks it’s perfectly fine to show up everywhere pantsless.”

Vic, watching Gilly in the backyard: “Yeah, well at least Kathy doesn’t poop on our deck.”

Dec. 24: Good grief

The Office Christmas, in Charlie Brown style:

Dec. 24: Happy birthday to Jen E

Big birthday wishes are being sent across the country today to my bloggy friend Jen E of Momma Blogs A Lot. Since she was born on one of the suckiest dates on which a person could be born, I offer her these virtual gifts.

First, a birthday cake...

Next, since everyone celebrates around the time of Jen E’s birthday with a tree, I think she deserves her very own birthday tree. Not Christmas-y at all. Like it should be.

When Jen E comes to visit her mom in Washington state, she needs to fly down to Portland to visit me too. I know if we could meet in person we’d be lifelong friends.

There’s a lot of snow where Jen E lives right now. Here’s something she can set outside to get rid of it and get life a little closer back to normal. About 1,200 of these should be enough, right?

Lastly, a Barnes & Noble gift card just wouldn’t cut it for Jen E. So since I can give her anything virtually, I pick Amazon. All of Amazon. The whole dang store. Go nuts!

Happy birthday, Jen E! I hope you’ll get to do lots to make this a very special day.

Dec. 23: Fugly sweaters

These are super awesome. See many ugly Christmas sweaters, modeled by idiots. Here’s hoping you don’t see one of these things under your tree this year.

Dec. 22: Snowed in

We didn’t drive to Sunriver today. The roads around Portland are pretty much impossible to drive on, even with traction devices, and crossing over the Cascades certainly isn’t going to be any better. We’ll try again in the morning. If not, well, I don’t want to think about that right now.

Here are some photos we took of the madness. This was how the table on our deck looked yesterday morning:

And this is how it looked this morning:

It snowed even more today and we got another several inches’ accumulation. Much shoveling has been required. The snow’s too dry to pack so the kids aren’t cleaning up the yard by making snow people and having fights, etc. Basically the snow’s just getting shifted a little, but not disappearing. And there’s so much snow covering the cars, I thought my Jetta was the minivan.

We stayed indoors most of the day. We watched Christmas movies, played board games, read books and played with the dogs. It was fun. For being snowbound, things could be much worse.

Dec. 21: It sucks to be me

We’ve got no less than one foot of snow on the ground here in Clackamas/Happy Valley. A foot! We haven’t had this much snow in, like, forever. Most of today there was freezing rain, which created a hard, thick shell on top of all the snow. Then this evening it snowed at least another inch. This all stopped being fun a long time ago.

Mom made it up from Medford fine yesterday. Traveling up I-5 was clear and easy until she got to Salem, where the roads were suddenly covered with packed snow. She has snow tires but it still took her an extra long time to drive that last hour; she got here in one piece and that’s the important thing. Of course, her car is completely frozen now, and we can’t get into her trunk to get our Christmas gifts (so she says)…

Gilly, Mom’s giant puppy, was not a big hit with Millie. She disappeared for most of yesterday after he got here. We found her at the front door last night, smelling like a campfire. I have NO idea where she spent the day. She’s been shut in our bedroom all day today because we don’t want her to sneak out again before we leave tomorrow. Poor kitty. She’s confused and lonely and nervous whenever she hears Gilly’s huge bark.

We’re not sure what’s going to happen with our plans for tomorrow. We’re supposed to take off for Sunriver but we’re not sure the roads are even drivable right now. I guess we’ll just check forecasts and road conditions in the morning and decide then.

Daryl and Sally’s flight from Boston was cancelled yesterday and they can’t get to Portland until Tuesday. Then they’ll have the drive to Sunriver; we’re not sure we’ll be with them on Christmas Day, but we’re hoping everything will work out as planned.

OK, it doesn’t really suck to be me. I’ve got my mom here and even if we can’t get to central Oregon I know we’ll spend Christmas with family. The snow will probably disappear before we run out of groceries. The kitty will either get used to Gilly or show him who’s boss. And when we’re inside our warm house, sitting around the Christmas tree with our bellies full of yummy holiday food, the view of our snow-covered street is really quite beautiful.

Whether we make it to Sunriver or not, I’ll be posting occasionally. The Sunriver house has wi-fi. Gotta love it.

Dec. 19: Gratitude

My friend Sherilee does a regular Friday Night Grateful Moment on her blog that I always enjoy. It makes me see how complain-y I can be. Thinking of what makes me happy isn’t hard—there are plenty of things—but the really big stuff that went on this week (the weather), well, it sucked, and memorably so. I’m really, really, really trying hard to be positive here.

I am thankful that I got out of the house today. I ran some important errands. I got a much-needed haircut when Marvelous Michelle managed to squeeze me in before her vacation. The roads were clear—even dry in some places—and I came home feeling like I accomplished something good. That’s a nice feeling any day, of course, but when you’ve been trapped in your house by the weather for what seems like an eternity… Nice. Very, very nice.

Mom got us a GPS unit for Christmas. I wrapped the empty box and put it under the tree, because there was no way I was going to wait a week to start using this awesome little gadget (she gave us permission, by the way). No, a GPS is not a necessity, especially since I can navigate the Portland area just fine, but it’s so darn much fun. One of the options we went for was text-to-speech; that means it speaks street names, so instead of saying “turn right in point-two miles,” it says, “turn right on Sunnyside in point-two miles.” Coupla things that are funny/weird so far: it says “Barkshire” instead of “Berkshire” (annoyingly often, too, as that’s one of our cross streets) and “Interstate Two Hundred Five” instead of “Two Oh Five.” I gotta navigate on the west side to hear how it pronounces “Couch” and “Terwilliger.” Heh heh.

With the exception of one, all Christmas gifts I’ve ordered have arrived and will be ready to distribute on Christmas morning. As I do most of my shopping online, this is a big relief. The one that hasn’t been delivered yet? I ordered it in late November. Grrrr.

I re-connected with two dear friends on Facebook this week, friends that I lost touch with a long time ago. It kinda makes me love Facebook again, like I did when Sherilee and I found each other last summer.

There is an amusing blog I’ve been following called Queen B Mommy. Lately the posts have been link-y (and less funny), but the entries around Thanksgiving were especially entertaining.

Christmas cards have been coming in the mail. We feel so fortunate to have such good friends and loving family. (No, my grandma doesn’t send us one. I know you were wondering.)

I mentioned them in my last post: Clementines. Yum.

Just finished reading a surprisingly good book: The Pixar Touch: The Making of a Company. It’s about how Pixar started out and eventually became the entertainment powerhouse they are today. I think what’s amazing about it is that these are not people who are overpaid for their work; they are hugely talented artists and the best in their field. It makes you happy to root for these guys when you see how hard they worked to make such fun movies.

Not sure what is going to become of our Christmas plans, but in an effort to keep this post more positive than most: Christmas is coming! That makes me gleeful.

Don’t worry; Stuff Jen Says will return to its regular snarky, complain-y content soon. Tomorrow, probably.

Dec. 19: My darling Clementines

I’m doing almost no holiday cooking this year. I mean, not special stuff, like baking. I don’t know how that happened this year but I’m not lamenting this. So far it doesn’t feel like anything’s really missing, partly because the Delightful Dawn showered us with a yummy holiday cookie plate earlier this week.

In the middle of this cookie plate were a bunch of Cuties, also known as Clementines. Some people call them (incorrectly) tangerines or tangelos or mandarin oranges. According to the Cuties web site, they are a hybrid fruit—a cross between a sweet orange and a Chinese mandarin. And let me tell you, I don’t eat them very often, but when I do, I can’t stop! Somehow every year I forget how much I enjoyed them the year before. Dawn put five or six Cuties on our cookie plate, and after I gobbled them up, I sent Victor out for more. And two days later, they’re long gone. And I want more and more and more.

Oh, and I almost forgot… Last night I made fudge. This doesn’t count as cooking or baking because the recipe requires so little effort. But if you want a pretty tasty fudge, here’s one I can recommend.


2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup butter
1 cup chopped walnuts (if desired)

  1. Melt butter and chips and milk together, then stir in nuts.
  2. Pour into well-greased dish.
  3. Refrigerate immediately to set.

Ideally you’d use good chocolate and all that stuff, but that means a trip to Williams-Sonoma or somewhere equally inconvenient. Also, this recipe is often touted as microwaveable, but if you’ve ever tried to melt chocolate in a microwave without scorching it, you know why that’s a bad idea. I recommend using a saucepan or a double boiler.

Can a fruit and candy critique pass for my good Christmas deed? That would be awesome, thanks.

Dec. 19: Bite me, Mother Nature

We got more snow and freezing temperatures overnight. Today is the fifth consecutive day of unscheduled school closures, and it’s crazy how long this has all gone on. Really, it’s rare for us to have more than one or two days of this kind of stuff in a year, and those days almost never come in the same week.

In addition to concerns about my ongoing mental health, I’m trying not to think about a couple of things: whether my mom will be able to get here on Sunday, and whether we’ll be able to get to Sunriver on Monday. Interstate 5 is looking pretty treacherous right now, with several closings between here and Medford, so Mom’s trek looks iffy at best. And while there are a few different routes we can take to central Oregon, right now all of them are very, very white. So in an effort NOT to think about Christmas possibly sucking this year, I share with you this video news release from the Oregon Zoo. At 1:07 are the tigers rolling in the snow with no apparent travel concerns, and starting right about 2:32 is baby Samudra experiencing his first snow. He’s such a cutie—just like a kid, totally ignoring the adults’ disregard for the icy white goodness.

Dec. 18: Elfed Manullangs

Ah, it’s that time of year, when we get to makes elves of ourselves. We made these movies a few weeks ago and I forgot to post them to the blog then. Oops. I saved the best one for last, so if you only want to watch one of them, I don’t like you anymore, and make it the disco one. The videos expire on January 15, 2009, so plan your viewings accordingly.

The original Elf Yourself:

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Doing the Charleston:

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Swing your pardner:

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Shake it, Victor!:

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Dec. 17: A look under the hood

Today is our third snow day of the week and I am not-so-slowly losing it. I understand the school district’s top concern is for its students’ safety, but are they really better off stuck at home with parents that are on the verge of locking them in the closet? (I’m looking at you, Lori Lassen…)

For you, dear reader, this insanity should mean you don’t hear from me in a while. But I need a distraction, so instead it means you get a stolen post. Chris gave us a look under his hood and I decided to do the same.

My Blogger stats tell me lots of uninteresting things:

  • This is my 898th post since I started the blog in 1999. I made one post in 1999 and again in 2004, but have been slightly more post-y in other years.
  • Last year I reached a high of 379 posts and am on track to hit 400 this year.
  • Most of the Google searches that have brought people here to Stuff Jen Says are people’s names. However, the next most popular search phrase was “Zac Efron pantsless.” This frightens me in several ways.
  • In the past year I had 2,168 absolutely unique visitors with 6,639 visits. They spent an average of one minute, 39 seconds on each visit.

Typealyzer is a site that analyzes a blog to determine its writing personality. Results for Stuff Jen Says are:

ESFP - The Performers
The entertaining and friendly type. They are especially attuned to pleasure and beauty and like to fill their surroundings with soft fabrics, bright colors and sweet smells. They live in the present moment and don’t like to plan ahead - they are always in risk of exhausting themselves.

They enjoy work that makes them able to help other people in a concrete and visible way. They tend to avoid conflicts and rarely initiate confrontation - qualities that can make it hard for them in management positions

Except for the planning ahead thing (I insist on planning ahead, even if it’s impossible and even if I suck at it), this sounds like me. Interesting, since my Myers-Briggs personality type is usually INFJ or INFP. Does this mean I have multiple personalities? (Shut up, Chris.)

My blog’s readability (the level of education required to understand it):
blog readability test

Gender Analyzer: Man or woman, who is writing that blog?
We think is written by a woman (74%).

What’s the film rating of my blog?
OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets
(Apparently this rating is because I used the word “crappy” four times and “hell” once. Shameful!)

What’s my blog worth?
I’m hoping this analysis isn’t terribly scientific.

Cubestat says Stuff Jen Says is worth $190.53.

Website Outlook says is not a valid domain. I would like them to bite me. They do, however, find and say it’s worth $189.80. They should still bite me.

Dec. 15: Boo-YAH!

Sally sent me this fabtastic cartoon. It can totally apply to your Christmas visits with Republican relatives, so take notes. Check out Slowpoke Comics for more.

Dec. 15: Gift ideas

You gotta see these 10 Crazy Old Christmas Ads.

Wow... I hadn’t even considered putting some of these items under the tree this year. For those of you on my list, I apologize for not being more creative. I guess.


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