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This dragon is cooking rice I had sort of a weird birthday this year... it seemed to be dragged out over a month, culminated in two parties, and it seems like I got relatively few gifts. Well, I say relatively few, but again, spread out over a month and a half.

My mom sends me care packages, and I got a nice vest and some luminarios (Mexican lanterns), a shirt, and some other gewgaws (along with things for the dog and our niece). So that accounts for about half of what I got. Then while Arno and I were out shopping one day, we happened to go by Bloeker to see if I could find a rice cooker and/or slow-cooker... I had asked for one, and really hadn't been able to think of anything besides that. (I wasn't even sure they existed here.) Turns out, not only did we find out that did both functions, but it was on sale for a very good price! So we did the sensible thing and bought it there and then. This was initially supposed to be Mom's gift to me, but when it comes to exchanging money overseas... eh, it's just easier to keep things to one country. So the rice cooker was actually Arno's gift. I didn't give him the chance to wrap it; I decided I needed to test it out and made chicken pot pie with it... came out fabulously delicious! And later in the week, I made rice with it too... and kind of burnt it. I didn't think that was actually possible with a rice cooker, but if you leave it long enough, yeah, it gets gummy and scorched. Lesson learned.

SO by the time my birthday rolled around, I'd already "opened" most of my "presents." And since I hadn't really thought of anything for people to get for me (though I thought of several things the week before... not really enough time for people to find them in time), I ended up with some fancy shampoos and a stack of cash. I suppose I'll try to put those toward the things I finally thought of: a hard-deck for Dance Dance Revolution, a small sewing machine, and put at least some toward my wedding dress and trappings.

I said I had two days of birthday party... the first was just having the family over for cake, coffee and snacks. We picked up cheese, sausage, crackers, chips, salsa, and I made a crapton of guacamole (that I ended up eating mostly by myself). Most of the time we spent entertaining Lois. I brought out my My Little ponies for her to play with, and she was over the moon! I'll let Arno explain about playing with the duckie with her. The second was actually when we celebrated Sinterklaas at Simone and Gio's. When Sinterklaas doesn't fall on a weekend, sometimes families move the feast to a weekend for convenience. (Normally it's Dec 5.) Mostly it was time to watch Lois open all of her presents, eat, and exchange December-calendar lottery scratchers with each other in Sinterklaas's name. Lois was very wound up and playful. She got several items for her baby doll, a stuffed bunny from a popular Belgian program, a Little Pony, and a Little Mermaid doll, among other things. She was also in charge of bringing everyone's presents to them and eagerly helped with unwrapping.

It was an exhausting weekend on the whole, especially given what I've said before about socializing.

This dragon is rice-ing above all this

We've been eating a lot of rice, lately. ;)

The ducky, the ducky... Well, once upon a time, my mom got me a gag gift of a giant plastic white duck (with money taped to it). She told me I could throw the duck out, but I kept it and stored it on top of the cabinets in the bathroom. While playing with Lois, carrying her on my shoulders and such, she saw it and was very amused by it. Later my mom spent time playing with her, also in the bathroom, where they threw the plastic duck back and forth. Lois was of course under instructions not to 'tell uncle Arno', so naturally she came over to me and suggested that we start throwing the duck around as well!

From there on things just got worse and worse. First we threw the duck. Then I had it 'swim' around me without coming back out from behind my back, leaving Lois to look for it. She had a lot of fun crawling around me looking for the duck while I continued moving it to where she couldn't see that. "Magic", she called it. Then she sat on the duck, and I pushed her around the bathroom and eventually through the house, going "quack, quack, quack". Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is how a 37 year old man spends his time around a little child.

And you know what? There's a sister on the way for her!

Anyway, this has little to do with rice. But hey, you people in the comments, just because she has people's limbs in the fridge door doesn't mean Beedoo! would skin Riptide and cook his entrails! I mean, geez, she's not a monster... :)

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