Thursday, December 23, 2004
xmas letter '04
Dearest Family, Friends and Respected Foes,
As this contentious year grinds to an end, I think back and say ... whoa! A multitude of activities were engaged in with great gusto and expectation. Some were finished, others were expunged from the official record. We spent a great deal of time visiting family and being visited by locust ... errr, family. The former parental units have taken to their new role as doting Grandparents quite readily and have been rewarded with affection tenfold.
In previous years, I have rattled off the events in chronological order like some automaton. This year, well, I'll try to be a bit more entertaining and intriguing. First things first, the kids. Yes, the Turmultuous Twins of DOOOOM are doing quite well. They have just turned two this year and are starting to look more like their parents instead of chubby little cheraphim. Jacob has gotten all 213 of his teeth and Alexis is doing her best to get the last of her molars in place. Nothing is as scary as a woman scorned or a cranky little woman with molar problems. I think I runs in the family. For her lack of the two year molars, she is doing her best in absorbing language from the day-care professionals that surprises me every day. Little quips like 'Jacob is annoying me!' or ' Oh Man, what a mess!' whenever we change Jacob's diaper in her presence. Mostly, it is 'Jacob did it!' or 'MINE!'. Those last two are typically in reference to something she has done or some toy Jacob is currently playing with. For his part, Jake would rather be judged by his actions than his words. We have waist high child gates scattered throughout the house and we are finding that the only people that are being inhibited are The Mrs and I. The dogs could clear them with no problem.
The dogs, now 3, are starting to show signs of their true genetic nature. I'm pretty sure that Cornell University was doing some research on Mastodon DNA splicing and some of their experiments got loose. They live with us now. I had to put Thor on a diet once I realized that he hit 125 lb by stealing food from Katie. She only got up to 75-80 lb.
There were a set of projects completed this year that I would like to brag about. The biggest of them was the construction of the backyard play set. The whole family got involved in this. The rising of the St Louis Arch seems like a stack of tin cans compared to this Monolith. Two towers at 10 feet, two slides, two swings spaced across a 12 foot 4x6 beam and retaining walls all around. It took all year to build and the kids loved it the minute we let them at it. Both Dad and Paul lent their sinew and synapse on this one and I could not have done it without them. Completed Project #2 was finally splitting the truckload of logs that got dumped on my driveway a year ago. Sure, they were all cut up and stacked in the back yard quite some time ago, but trying to cram a 350lb block of wood into my nano-tech wood burning stove would be a feat beyond modern physics. Since I have just broken down and turned the heat on at the beginning of December, you can certainly understand my glee at having all this wood to burn. We heat our little mansion with gas heat and it has gotten mighty expensive lately. The winter thus far has been quite mild and the stove is holding it's own. This global warming thing might not be so bad after all!
Speaking of monumental projects, I would like to single out a set of friends of ours living in Rochester NY. Sean and Lucy (Sean was the best man at our wedding some 8+ years ago) were blessed this year with twins! We have had the joy of them visiting us this year and we returned the visit (well, short 100 miles) by giving them LOADS of our old baby stuff (car seats, strollers, etc..). Wish them well and say a prayer, they could use it! They are the 3rd set of couples from our class that has produced twins. I'm thinking this is some sort of CIA thing, or aliens. Maybe Elvis, not sure yet but I'm getting out the tinfoil hats just in case.
Speaking of tinfoil hats, I started blogging about my daily thoughts and events. It has been fun for the most part, and quite informative for the grandparents. The downside is that the Sunday phone call seems to be a bit shorter since everyone already knows what is going on at the 'Haupertonian Mansion'. If you are interested, drop in and take a peek here: http://www.mdmhvonpa.blogspot.com.
Other highlights of the year revolve around our fleet of cars. After renting a minivan to go on trips every few months, we finally caved in and bought one. When the rental payments exceed the monthly car payments, it's time to buy. We really did need it since we intended on driving out to Minnesota for a 3 week long trip. The mileage alone would have crushed our budget. Here is the fateful event that made this purchase timely. On a early June morning, The Mrs got her trusty Ford Taurus tangled up in the bumper of another car. Now, the other car had negligible damage and her car had a slightly damaged grill. The thing that killed the car was that the air bags deployed. The car was just over 80K miles and the airbag replacement would be 4K alone. Perfect car, totaled. ARGH! We had the Minivan, so there was little disruption in our daily schedules outside of the ramifications of having to find a new insurance carrier and dealing with the disposal of the dearly departed from our diminished fleet.
Speaking of Minnesota, we did go on that road trip. It was fun AND exhausting. I never knew Ohio was so wide! Jacob loved the Homestead and Alexis got to get her hands on some REAL farm animals. They proved to be exceedingly charming and endearing to the extended family. All 150 or so of them. They especially enjoyed throwing rocks into the Lake at the Family Reunion and running amuck on the Glenwood Golf Course at the Golf Invitational.
The Minnesota vacation was so exhausting, we had to take another vacation just to rest up! We went to Hershey Park here in Pennsylvania. We actually had a really nice time too. The kids became familiar with chocolate and we got to see some of the surrounding sites (more chocolate factories). Especially of interest to Jacob was the Model Train Museum. He has been a fanatic of trains ever since. Alexis, however, was more interested in the heated pool at the resort we stayed at. It had an adjoining hot tub that ended up being a bane to the adults. She would sit in the hot tub for a few minutes, then dash out and jump into the pool. Of course, we had to follow and the shock of cold water on a warm body took a greater toll on us than it did on her. We slept well at night.
Work is ... well, work. My new consulting gig is at a place called GSICommerce. I started there in March and expect to continue on for a year or two. Not very exciting work, but the seating arrangements are quite ... posh. I have been working at my current employer for nearly 8 years now. In the world of consulting, that is considered nearly a lifetime. This, of course, Is dwarfed by the bazillion years that The Mrs has been working at her Company. Her title right now, I believe, is 'Big Boss Mama that You Shouldn't Mess With - Level 5'.
In other news, Halloween was fun. Jacob dressed up as a devil again, but switched off to be a pumpkin. Alexis, however, was a kitty this year and was quite enamored with the concept. The day-care professionals had a great deal of difficulty with her costume. When it was time to go outside, she refused to allow it to be removed. We had the same problem when we got her home and were required to leverage the most devious tool a parent can bring to bear: bribery.
As this year comes to a close, we are doing our best to gear up for the Christmas season. The tree is up and decorated, exterior lights are on, presents are waiting to be wrapped. We expect to have the Wife's family down as well as my own. It will be a full house and the dogs will be happy to have a wider range of victims to extort food from. On the 25th, we will be heading up to North Jersey to go to the wife's family gathering and let the kids wreck someone else's house for a bit.