Wednesday, December 31, 2008


We had an excellent Christmas here. (Well, other than the tons of snow we've been getting and the sub-freezing temperatures.)

I had Christmas Eve off so I was able to attend the get together we have with friends each year. Like last year it was at Bill and Donna's house. Bill and Donna are the parents of our friend Kathy.

Here's Kathy (in the red) with Jackie and Anne.

Kathy, Jackie and Anne

Bill and Donna have an absolutely gorgeous house They also have a fairly large backyard with lots of trees. Here you can see part of it with snow (surprise!).

Bill and Donna's Backyard

Mark (Jackie's husband) wore his new Christmas sweater to the party.

Mark In His Christmas Sweater

Mark bought it as a joke to wear for Christmas. It's a woman's sweater. I think it'd look better without the tee shirt under it.

And here's a picture of Mark, Kathy and Anne.

Mark, Kathy and Anne

And Jackie and me.

Jackie and John

Aunt Marta was visiting for the week. She and Sydney had a wonderful time playing together. They frequently sat up on the bed in "Grandma's Room" (that's what Sydney calls the guest room) looking through wrapping paper tube telescopes to try to find pirates.

Aunt Marta was at the party and Sydney brought Penguin (the one she got at Sea World in February - he's her favorite bedtime stuffed animal).

Sydney, Aunt Marta and Penguin

After eating and nibbling on excellent food that everyone brought we eventually got down to the present unwrapping. We let the kids go first then booted them out of the room to go play with their new stuff.

Sydney, of course, liked everything she got, but two presents stand out as apparent favorites from the party. First is a blanket that Kathy's boys made for her. They made a blanket for each of the kids (Caden and Rylan - Mark and Jackie's boys - and Sydney). Sydney really likes hers and it is a regular part of her bed now.

The other present was a little Yorkie (I think?) stuffed dog in a carrying case. She's pointing at the pink case in this picture.

Sydney Opening Presents

We got home around 8:00 pm. Sydney spent much of the trip home looking up in the sky for any sign of Santa. When we got home she had something to eat (she wasn't that interested in the food at the party for some reason) and then we checked out NORAD on the computer to see where Santa was. Luckily he was still visiting the east coast.

Sydney went to bed and we expected her to fall right asleep despite the excitement. She only had a short nap on our way to the party earlier in the day and it was almost two hours past her bedtime. But when I went to check on her about fifteen minutes later she was still awake and had a silly grin on her face when she saw me.

I went in, tucked her in again, kissed her on the cheek and told her I thought she would be asleep. Her reply was, "Daddy, stop bothering me."

The next morning she got up at her regular time (7:00 am) and was very excited. So were we! Aunt Marta got up and we called Grandma and Grandpa to come over. (They stayed home on Christmas Eve. Partly because of various ailments that limited them and partly because of the weather.) Sydney had a bite to eat while we waited for Grandma and Grandpa M to arrive.

The first thing Sydney did when it was present time was to put on "her" Santa hat. (It is generally worn by a stuffed Snoopy Anne has, but Sydney decided she was going to wear it this year.)

Santa Sydney

She was very excited and had a good time opening presents. She got a lot of things and just about everything she opened was, "Oh, boy. Just what I wanted for Christmas!"

She was particularly excited about two of the presents she got from Santa. First was a pre-school laptop.

Sydney Opens Her Laptop

She's wanted one for some time and always plays with them in the toy aisles of the store when we go.

The other particularly exciting present was a new baby doll set. It is a newborn doll that comes with a stroller, crib/bassinet, car seat and diaper bag. Here is Sydney jumping up and down with joy.

Sydney Opens Her Doll

Santa was also very good to the three of us by bringing us all new Redskins jerseys. Here we are wearing them while watching them lose the last regular season game on Sunday. (Sydney's is several sizes too big so she can grow into it.)


There is only one thing that Santa seems to have missed out on this Christmas and that was a purple hippo.

Sydney's favorite cartoon character, Kipper, has a purple hippo squeeze toy. Sydney has been talking a lot lately about wanting a hippo like Kipper's. After the stockings and Santa presents were opened we were ready to move on to other gifts. But Sydney had other ideas.

She was still very excited about her Santa presents and getting "just what I wanted for Christmas" as she looked at the presents still under the tree. And she asked Mommy, "which present do you think has my purple hippo in it?"

There wasn't too much of a problem with it, luckily. One thing Santa had put in Sydney's stocking was a purple snake/anemone squeeze thing. Mommy quickly explained that that was probably as close as Santa could come to a purple hippo toy. Sydney seemed satisfied with that.

(If anyone happens to find a purple hippo squeeze toy let me know. And, yes, we did also try explaining before Christmas that the purple hippo was probably a dog toy and not a little girl toy, but Sydney didn't seem to care.)

As much as Sydney loved all the presents she got from everyone there are two others that will get special mention here seeing as I have some video to go with them. First, Sydney got a harmonica from Grandpa M. He enjoys playing and she likes to listen to him. So she got one and immediately took to it. (She even "taps it out" as instructed by Grandpa every time she's done playing it.)

The other gift is the sled that Grandma and Grandpa M got her.

Between our two houses is a giant pile of snow the snow plows push up. The streets have been packed snow so it's been easy to slide down it and into the street. On Saturday, though, a plow came up our street to clear things out better since it had actually warmed up to a little above freezing. It cleared the street a lot better and pushed more snow around to make it easier to get from driveways to the street. In the process more snow got piled up on that pile. It's now over eight feet high and has a rather steep drop to the street. We won't be sledding on it anymore. But there are a couple local areas that are supposed to be good for sledding.

We had a great Christmas here and we hope everyone else did, too. Happy New Year to all of you. We wish you the best in the upcoming year and hope everyone has a great 2009.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Pre-Christmas Stuff

So, like most of the country, it seems, we are buried under snow. It couldn't get warm enough fast enough for us to not have a white Christmas. But more on the snow later.

I took a couple pictures earlier this week and knew I sorely needed to do a blog update. So I pulled the memory card out of the camera tonight so I could upload pictures. When I stuck the card in the slot on the front of the computer the little green light didn't come on.

Uh oh.

The computer didn't recognize or read the card for some reason. I tried all sorts of complicated, technical stuff to make the computer recognize the card. I pulled it out and then put it back in. I did that again. And a third time. I pulled it out, blew canned air into the slot and onto the card. I pulled it out, sighed, and set it aside while I went and did some browsing.

About twenty minutes later I tried again. The little green light came on this time! But the computer still didn't want to recognize the memory card. So I finally resorted to restarting the computer and that seemed to work.

At the beginning of November I got a gingerbread house kit from work. We sell them there and then people can turn them back in for coupons to the restaurant. They're then displayed and voted on for a contest. But we didn't turn ours back in. I just got one because I figured Sydney would like making it. And she did.

Sydney Makes a Gingerbread House

Sydney got that apron from one of Grandma M's friends. She made it especially for Sydney.

Sydney Makes a Gingerbread House

We all helped make the gingerbread house a little bit and it turned out pretty well, I think.

Sydney the Proud Architect

There are a couple more pictures of the finished house over at the online photo album.

A week or two ago Sydney came to the conclusion (with the help of Mommy and Daddy) that she didn't need to eat in a high chair anymore. She either eats from her booster chair at the table or from one of the high stools at the kitchen counter. (We're going to need to buy a third stool.)

Sydney Eats at the Counter

Over the last several weeks Anne has been making Christmas cookies. Sydney has been helping. She really enjoys standing on the step stool and helping Mommy measure out, pour in and mix up the ingredients. She helps cleaning up, too.

Sydney Likes the Beater

So late last Tuesday night it started to snow. It was off and on at first. Then a switch got flipped and someone forgot to turn it off again. It kept snowing. And snowing. And snowing. And about 36 hours later it finally stopped. For a little while.

A Lot of Snow

That picture was taken sometime Wednesday morning, I think. Long before the snow stopped. But you can already see how it was piling up - even under the patio cover. Yay!

I'm not sure what the records were, exactly, but they say we set records for the amount of snow that fell in a 24-hour period. For this area it was the most snow at one time since, um, sometime in the early-1900s, I think. It might have been the late-1800s. It was over 100 years, but I don't remember how much over 100 years.

Anne said on the news Thursday they said the small city where we live got 29 inches. The city where I work (slightly higher elevation) got 37 inches.

One nice thing that came out of all the snow is that our bird feeder finally got a visitor. We got the feeder back in early November. Since Sydney likes looking out the front window and she's always excited to see an animal I figured she'd like to watch a bird feeder. Of course, it was a little late in the season to set it up, probably. Most of the birds were gone for the winter and the ones sticking around didn't know it was there so it'd be chance that would bring them around.

And just by chance we got a ton of snow dumped on us and a bird found our feeder.

The First Bird at the Feeder

I believe it's just a little sparrow, but I don't know birds that well. And it only seems to be that one bird that comes back to eat the seeds. We have yet to see more than one bird at the feeder at a time.

And tonight we're getting more snow. The temperature hasn't been above 20°F in two weeks now. (If it has it hasn't been much above it.) And many of those days (like today) we have a nice arctic wind blowing in that takes the windchill well into the negatives.

We had another three or four inches of snow between last night and today. And now we have another winter weather advisory for tonight and they're calling for six to eight more inches overnight. What a fun winter this has been so far. I can hardly wait to see what the next three months bring us!

I won't wait as long for the next update. I promise. I'll be doing a post-Christmas post by next Sunday at the latest, I think. Plus I have videos off Anne's cell phone. She's been bugging me for several months to put those on the blog. So there are two posts right there.

Oh, and for anyone interested, potty training is pretty much finished. Sydney is in underwear all the time, even when going out, except at night when she wears a pull-up. She goes to the bathroom on her own, both pee and poop. (We still have to help her wipe poopies.) And even though she has some potty stickers left she rarely ever puts them up anymore. Sometimes if she's upstairs she will, but I think most the time she wants to get back to playing or doing whatever she was doing before she went potty.