Happy Holidays 2008

These notes record the events of the period from Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve. We deferred our Christmas card, but here is our Summary "insert." 


We were spending our third Thanksgiving in Key West and staying at the Wicker House on Duval Street for three nights. To read about how we got here, see "On the Road 2008." I awoke at 6:00 AM, put on my heart monitor, and headed out to run to the sunrise. I left about five minutes before my calculations had indicated for viewing sunrise before I turned around, so I saw the sun pop up over my shoulder on the way back. The sunrise was gorgeous. When I got back, we ate breakfast in the courtyard of the Wicker House. Then I brought my laptop to one of the common rooms so that I could use the free wi-fi.

We walked over to Schooner Wharf Bar for lunch. Then we walked to Garrison Bight and found that Captain John of the Greyhound V party boat has retired, but the boat is still running. We walked down to White Street Pier and walked out to the end. Then we went to the Southernmost Point. We stopped in at La Te Da and made reservations for Friday night's dinner and the show afterward. Cathy took a nap while I got online with the computer again.

I took a mostly cold shower as the hot water ran out and stayed out the rest of the day and evening. We walked up to Mallory Square for sunset. Then, we stopped at Bad Ass Coffee so I could get a four shot cappuccino. We wandered down Duval Street to the Square One Restaurant to meet Cathy's cousin Ruth Ann and husband Harry. Our waiter didn't seem to know how to wait tables and totally skipped a round of drinks. The food was OK, but the portions were a bit meager. We enjoyed getting together with Ruth Ann and Harry.

After dinner, we stopped in a deli for some snacks for the room and headed back to the Wicker House.

Friday, November 28

I got up a bit after 6:00 AM and took my time getting dressed. I walked down to the foot of Duval Street and out on the pier there to view sunrise (pics: 1,2,3). I saw a Carnival cruise ship come in, heading for Mallory Square. After breakfast, we did our part for Black Friday by shopping for a few Christmas presents. We dropped the gifts back at the room and then walked to Garrison Bight and boarded Captain John's Greyhound V for a fishing trip from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM (pics: 1,2,3). As we headed out, we saw a sailboat, converted into a submarine for drug running. The day was beautiful and the fishing was good. I joined Cathy on the sundeck when we moved between spots and for the hour's trip back to the bight. We walked back to the room after the trip. After cleaning up, I walked up Duval Street and picked up my packet at Hog's Breath Saloon. I also stopped in Bad Ass Coffee for a four shot cappuccino to get me through the night. We walked down Duval to the La Te Da restaurant for dinner. We talked with Chef Alice before and during dinner. We had a good meal and then went upstairs for the drag show, "Randy Roberts Live." We enjoyed the show and had great seats due to being restaurant diners before the show. The show let out at 10:00 PM, so we headed back to the room. It was a very noisy night with many loud drunks.

Saturday, November 29

I got up at 6:00 AM and Cathy joined me at 6:15. We got ourselves ready and packed all of our bags for later checkout. We walked down to the coffee shop toward the foot of Duval and had coffee, a scone, and a piece of coffee cake. This is the same shop that used to be across the street. After a quick stop back at the room, we headed up to Hog's Breath for the Hog Trot 5K (pics: 1,2,3). It was a good morning for a run. The course was different this year and included a loop through Fort Taylor State Park and a short stretch on some soft sand. I kept my heartrate between 150 and 168 bpm (158 bpm average) and felt pretty good the whole way. My official time showed a pace of 9:53 per mile which was good enough for second place in my age group (60-69) and another mug trophy. We hung around the bar for the door prizes (none for us) and some of the awards. We hustled back to the room, found the car, and checked out by 11:00 AM. We drove up Route 1 and stopped at Boondocks on Ramrod Key for lunch. We detoured to the Royal Palm area of the Everglades National Park and enjoyed walking on the Anhinga Trail, viewing alligators (pics:1,2,3), turtles, fish, and flora (pics: 1,2,3). There was much more water than when we visited two years ago. We called ahead and stopped for pizza at Luigi's on our way back to the campground. After unpacking, we enjoyed the pizza for dinner. We watched football games before heading to bed at 10:00 PM.

Sunday, November 30

I got up at 6:00 AM and scrounged up enough loose change to buy a Sunday paper. We had some rain during the morning. After lunch we drove to Publix via Starbucks for some shopping.We also went to Wal-Mart for a few items. As dark clouds gathered, we took a 3.7 mile walk along the airport path. As soon as we returned, it started to rain. The rain continued throughout the night I viewed the movie "Hitchhiker", which was too gory and scary for Cathy's tastes.

Monday, December 1

I worked on bills while Cathy attended an exercise class. I also drained the fresh water tank. Then we went for a walk/run. I did the 5K run at a 10:43 per mile pace. After lunch, we went on a shopping swing to the RV Supply for antifreeze, to Ann Taylor Loft, and to a UPS Store. When we got back, I went for a bike ride to Oakes Farm for a couple of items. After dinner, we helped to decorate the clubhouse for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 2

It rained really hard at 5:00 AM. I got up and looked at the RADAR and saw a thin, intense squall line going over us. The forecast called for 30-40 mph wind gusts, so I donned my raincoat and went out and stowed the awning. I went back to sleep for almost an hour before getting up at 6:30 AM. Cathy did four loads of laundry. As the morning wore on, the air seemed chillier and the wind picked up. I rode my bike for for about 10 miles by doing 3 laps of the airport path while Cathy walked a lap. After lunch, we drove to the Hollywood 20 theaters to see "Four Christmases." I thought the movie was very uneven and the editing was terrible. Cathy had to wake me up during one long stretch of tender moments, but I laughed aloud at several other scenes. I got a cappuccino at the nearby Starbucks as we headed back to the RV. We viewed "House" after recording it on the DVR. It got very chilly as the evening wore on.

Wednesday, December 3

I got up at 5:00 AM to turn on the heat and then stayed in bed until 6:00 AM. It was 45 degrees outside, but the wind had lightened. Cathy went to her exercise class while I browsed the Blog-O-Sphere. I put out the awning. The Wednesday Times crossword was very easy, especially when compared to the difficult Monday and Tuesday puzzles. Cathy went over to the clubhouse to help with the continuing decoration task. I suited up and went out for a five mile run and two mile walk. This was my longest run in many months, but it felt good, especially in my soul. We ate a late lunch. Then, we drove to the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary to see the marsh when it's full of water. It looked so different from our other trips there when it was dry (pics: 1,2,3). The downside was that we didn't see any alligators. From the sanctuary, we headed to Publix via Starbucks. After we brought our groceries back to the RV and cleaned up, we went to dinner at Carrabbas. We went in the takeout door and headed right to the counter at the open kitchen. We enjoyed dinner as usual.

Thursday, December 4

I slept in until 6:10 AM and went out to get the newspapers from the machines by the office, as I do everyday. We had a leisurely breakfast and then lifted weights. Around 10:25 AM we left on a bike ride to the Isle of Capri. This was a round trip of 36.5 miles with a very tough stretch along a narrow shoulder of the busy Route 951. We stopped for lunch at the Isle of Capri Fish House, where we went with Bob and Marianne last February. On the way back, we spotted a couple of urbanized Ospreys on top of a light standard. We arrived back at the RV at a bit after 4:00 PM. Bill decorated the outside of the RV for Christmas and then we walked over to Happy Hour. We grilled a pork chop and eggplant for dinner.

Friday, December 5

I got up at 6:00 AM. When I went out for the papers, I noticed that the USA Today was still Thursday's paper, so I only got the Naples Daily News. The morning was warmer and more seasonal. Cathy went to her exercise class while I worked on crossword puzzles. When Cathy returned, we went out for a walk/run. I ran 5K and walked almost 2 miles. Cathy walked for 3.7 miles. After returning, we drove to the RV Center to get a shorter sewer hose. Next, we headed to the Lely Resort and stopped at the Greenlinks hotel/condos to get a brochure. Finally, we stopped at a kayak place to check for used kayaks (none). After lunch, we took a 9 mile round trip walk to the beach. We stopped at Bad Ass Coffee en route. We also strolled through the historic district and stopped at the beach (pics: 1,2) near the fishing pier. I took the opportunity to lay down on the beach for a while and was hit with a frisbee (I always seem to be hit with something when I rarely lay on the beach). We walked in via our bike route and back via Fifth Avenue. We discovered that going to the Fifth Avenue beach would be a 7 mile round trip. We grilled a pork chop and veggie burgers for dinner.

Saturday, December 6

This was a big football day. We lifted weights and then went for a short bike ride. We went to Publix via Starbucks just before lunch. After lunch, I settled in for a whole day of watching football games on TV. Cathy went for a walk in the late afternoon. I cooked a pasta dinner.

Sunday, December 7

It rained hard for a couple of minutes at about 1:30 AM and I had to get up to close vents and windows. I slept in until almost 7:00 AM. It rained for a couple of minutes just after I went to get the paper. Then the day became sunny and nice. We went for a run/walk. I grabbed a quick shower just after lunch. We drove to Tin City, parked, and walked to Cambier Park for a free Christmas concert by the Naples Band. We carried our NASCAR chairs and I took a photo to justify my calling them that. After the concert, we stowed the chairs back at the car. Then we stopped at Starbucks for my cappuccino and walked to the beach. We walked along the shore down to the fishing pier and waited for sunset. It was windy and there were big waves on the Gulf. I took a multitude of sunset photos (pics: 1,2,3,4,5). We walked to the 3rd Street Historic District and took a few photos of the lights there (pics: 1,2,3). Then, we walked back to the car and drove to Bonefish Grill. We sat at a high table and got into a long conversation with the guy across the table from us. The conversation started normally, but after he had downed four glasses of wine, he became weird and incomprehensible. We left rather hastily after our meal before the guy had the chance to explode.

Monday, December 8

I got up at 6:00 AM. It was a bit chilly in the morning again. From the Internet, we found that the RedBox dvd rental machines are in some Wal-Marts in Naples. We set up an account and reserved "Tropic Thunder." Then, we drove to the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market on Airport Pulling Road and picked up the dvd. We continued on to Publix via Starbucks for some shopping. After lunch, Cathy walked and I rode my bike around the airport and explored the north side which is full of industrial centers. We went to Happy Hour at the Gazebo before grilling chicken and vegetables for dinner. We viewed and enjoyed "Tropic Thunder." This was an excellent movie with a great cast. I was howling with laughter during most of the film.

Tuesday, December 9

It got up to 85 degrees today with blue sky and high humidity. Cathy did a large batch of laundry to start the day. Afterward, she worked on a blackberry/goat cheese salad for the women's luncheon. I went out for a very sweaty 5 mile run and 2 mile walk. By the time I got back to the RV, Cathy was at the luncheon. I ate lunch and then drove to Wal-Mart to return the RedBox dvd. The dvd was rejected 5 times before I noticed that a troubleshooter was working remotely to fix the problem. As he tinkered with the system, I saw that it was based on a Dell computer running Windows XP. After he rebooted twice, I was able to return the dvd. After I returned, we got ready and walked toward the beach along Fifth Avenue. We stopped at the Naples Coffee Shop so I could drink a cappuccino in the air conditioning. We walked to the beach and lay on beach towels until we sat up for a very nice sunset (pics: 1,2,3). As we left the beach, we realized that the Naples Christmas Parade was forming in the historic district. I had read about the route in the newspaper and knew that it would turn on Fifth Avenue. We decided that the best way to view the parade would be at a sidewalk table in a restaurant. We found a good table at the Bella Maria Restaurante. We had a tapas meal and enjoyed the very long parade. The air temperature was in the high 70s, so it was funny to watch all of the participants in their furry Santa hats. After dinner and parade, we walked back to the campground. As we crossed the bridge over the Gordon River, we had a nice view. When we returned to the RV, I dumped the tanks and took a shower. Then we watched "House", which we had dvred.

Wednesday, December 10

We talked to Katie early after her doctor's appointment. She had been in the hospital again overnight, but her doctor was not saying that the birth was immanent. Cathy went off to her exercise class. I signed up for two tickets to Atlantic City for next Tuesday morning. Next, I called Enterprise and arranged to come in on Friday to extend our car rental contract. Then, I called Jim Sosna and let him know that we had made flight arrangements. Cathy went over to the clubhouse to help make gingerbread houses. After lunch, we drove to Fakahatchee Strand and walked on the Big Cypress Boardwalk there. We saw a pair of Bald Eagles at their nest. There was lots of water there. We also saw turtles, an alligator, and lots of birds (pics: 1,2,3). We made a shopping stop at Publix via Starbucks. When we returned to the campground, we attended Happy Hour at the Gazebo. We had leftovers for dinner.

Thursday, December 11

This was a very rainy day. We holed up for the morning while it poured outside. After lunch, we went to see the chick flick "Australia", which graded 7 out of 10 on my leg cramp scale. By the time the almost endless movie had ended, the rain had stopped and I collected my Starbucks reward. We went to Carrabbas for a good dinner.

Friday, December 12

It was windy and chilly to start the day. Cathy went to her exercise class. When she returned, we went for a walk/run where I ran for 5K. After lunch, we drove to the Turner River area of the Big Cypress National Preserve. On the 21 mile drive, we saw several alligators (pics: 1,2,3,4,5), including one swimming, turtles, and lots of birds (pics: 1,2,3). We got a good open view of the Everglades on the EW portion of the loop. We stopped at Publix and Starbucks on the way back to the RV. When we returned, we found the Santa Claus materials for us to wear on Saturday night at the party. We bundled up against the evening chill and went to Happy Hour. We grilled a pork chop and veggie burgers for dinner.

Saturday, December 13

It was windy and warmer. I put up the awning and we lifted weights. Then, Cathy went for a walk and I went for a bike ride around the airport area. After lunch, we drove to Bealls and did some shopping for Cathy's Santa's Helper costume for the Christmas party. Then, we stopped at Starbucks and Oakes Farm. We chilled out for a couple of hours in the late afternoon. Around 5:30 PM, we headed over to the Rec Hall for the Christmas Party. The hall was very nicely decorated and the 16 tables full of guests were ready for a fun time. We were seated at Table 9 with the remarkable octogenarian Mary Kay and two other families. After a buffet dinner, we danced for 45 minutes and then slipped out of the hall to dress for Santa's visit. At the right time in the singing of a song, I ran into the hall in my Santa suit with a PFD underneath to add some bulk. Cathy entered shortly after and acted as Santa's helper. She and Jan, one of the owners, sorted through the gifts for each guest couple, while I made sure to hug each of the women. Our part of the show lasted around 45 minutes. I dashed from the hall and we returned to the RV to change back into party cloths. We returned to the hall and danced until 10:00 PM. We visited Mary Kay's park model home on the way back to view her extensive clown collection.

Sunday, December 14

This was a beautiful day. We started with a 3.7 mile walk along the airport path. Then we drove to Tin City, where we parked for the day. We walked to the Fifth Avenue Coffee Shop for lunch and then back to the car to pick up beach stuff. We walked down Fifth Avenue to the beach where I immediately set out for Gordon Pass to the south. The round trip was 6.4 miles. I lay on the beach until sunset (pics: 1,2) when I returned to Fifth Avenue. We walked back to the car where I slipped on a golf shirt. We drove to Bonefish Grill, where we enjoyed dinner sitting at the bar. After dinner, we drove to Publix for a couple of items. We watched the DVRed SNL when we returned to the RV.

Monday, December 15

I awoke at 4:00 AM with the sound of rain. We had a tropical cloudburst which was hard enough for me to go outside to check that the awning was draining properly. I got back to sleep until about 6:20 AM when we both arose. Cathy went to her exercise class. I went out for a 3.5 mile walk and 5 mile run (10:00 per mile). We walked together for over a mile towards the end. When we got back, Cathy did some loads of wash. I got our boarding passes printed in the office. We spent the rest of the day readying the RV for our absence and packing. We attended our last Happy Hour for a while. We dined at Olive Garden where we sat at the bar. I took a shower in the men's room at the campground.

Tuesday, December 16

We awoke at 6:30 AM. We were heading for the airport at 6:55 AM. The traffic on I75 was surprisingly light, so the drive to the airport was easy. Dropping off the rental car was also a breeze, so we were in the terminal of the Southwest Florida airport by 8:00 AM. We ate breakfast at Starbucks. It took only 15 minutes to get through security and then we settled down to wait for our 10:35 AM departure. We read the NY Times and the New Yorker magazine as we waited. We took off on time and had a smooth flight. When we landed in Atlantic City, we heard and felt that both tires on the nose wheel blew out. The plane didn't lose control, but had to stop right at the intersection of the two runways of the airport. We had an hour and 20 minute wait on the plane while the plane was towed out of the intersection so that the airport could re-open and the passengers could deplane and load into vans for transport to the terminal. It was 41 degrees and raining hard. Meanwhile, our friend Jim Sosna was waiting in his car outside of the terminal. We finally got in Jim's car and drove to the storage yard to pick up the XTerra. The battery was very low, but the car started. We thanked Jim and drove to Starbucks for lunch and a bathroom. When we came back out, the battery was dead. We called AAA and Cathy went across the street to pick up toothpaste and other toiletries. The AAA battery truck came fast and jump-started us. We drove home to pick up some clothes and kept the car running. Then, we drove to the Montreal Inn in Cape May to check-in for the night. Again, we kept the car running while we went to the room to change clothes. We drove to Cape May Court House for a meeting of the Pollution Control committee that I'm on. Then, we drove to Alfe's in Wildwood for the annual banquet for the committee. We all had a good time and the car started to get us back to the motel. I finally got a shower and we both got to bed about 11:00 PM.

Wednesday, December 17

We both were up by 6:30 AM. We had a pretty busy day ahead. The temperature was 38 degrees and a west wind was blowing at about 10 mph, so we felt the cold as we walked up Beach Avenue to eat breakfast at the Blue Pig in Congress Hall. We were met by a friendly hostess and a roaring fire in the fireplace. We enjoyed oatmeal for breakfast. I also had a cappuccino and a granola/yogurt parfait. We walked back to the room after a stop at Dellas General Store for a couple of items for Rachel., We packed, and were on our way by 9:45 AM. We made a stop at Gorman's Liquors for a couple of gift items and then proceeded to Jim and Linda's house. I helped Jim carry an air conditioner downstairs and out to the garage. Next, we went to LeGates Farm to check on fruit baskets, but they were all made-to-order. We drove to ACME and picked up a couple of fruit baskets and bottles of wine. We delivered Christmas cheer to Beth and Bob Findley and our neighbors Joy and Tom. We went back into our house to get the rest of the items that we needed to take to Pennsylvania, including wrapped presents. Then we went by the Villas post office to tell them (again) that they had the wrong zip code for us in Naples. We stopped for gas at WaWa at $1.47 per gallon. Then we ate lunch at Avalon Coffee in North Cape May. We ended our little Santa run with a stop at our neighbors, Fran and Jim. We were on the road at 2:00 PM, heading for Doylestown. I decided to let the GPS determine the route and she took us over the Walt Whitman Bridge, out the Schuykill Expressway, up Roosevelt Boulevard, onto Broad Street and then Ogontz Avenue to Route 309. We took our usual back way on Lower State Road once 309 stopped being limited access. We made record time (2:20). We were surprised to see snow on the yard at Katie and Tom's house. Cathy went with Katie to pick up Rachel. Then, we went to Roman Delight for dinner. Tom joined us during the meal. After we returned to the house and Rachel went to bed, we watched a couple of old episodes of "House" before going to bed.

Thursday, December 18

We awoke at 6:30 AM as did the whole household. I was the only one not in a hurry as Tom was dropping Rachel at daycare before going in fairly early, Cathy and Katie were going for Katie's ultrasound, and I was just hanging out until the women got back. I found our door lock frozen on the XTerra and walked to Giant to get a can of WD-40. Also, I bought a razor blade scraper to remove our Obama/Biden sticker from the back window. Around 10:00 AM, Katie had a conference call, so Cathy and I took off on a multi-stop shopping and shipping trip. We went to a UPS Store and Target in Warrington and then to Giant near Katie and Tom's house. When we got back to the house, it was time for lunch. After lunch, Cathy and I drove to Peace Valley for a 6.2 mile walk around Lake Galena. We were bundled up for the cold as we walked. We saw a guy fishing from a small boat and we spotted an immature Bald Eagle in a tree. We also saw and heard a huge raft of Canadian Geese. Finally, we spotted a Great Blue Heron. After our walk, we picked up Katie and drove with her to Saxby's Coffee in downtown Doylestown. From there, we walked to Gap for Kids for some clothing for Rachel. We had a bit of a smorgasbord for dinner. Katie and Rachel watched a video on birthing before dinner.

Friday, December 19

This was Katie's birthday, not necessarily her birth day. Traditionally, in our family, Christmas decorations waited until this date. Even in Katie's house that is no longer true, but in the spirit of the old days, here is my first picture of Katie and Tom's Christmas tree. It was supposed to snow overnight, but the precipitation was delayed and is now predicted to include less accumulation of snow. Tom dropped Rachel in daycare and then got on his bicycle trainer for a workout. The rest of us ate breakfast. As the morning wore on, ice and rain and the temperature fell. We headed out in two cars for Doylesdown and went to Saxby's Coffee and then to Lilly's for lunch. After lunch, Tom went back to the coffee shop to study some work-related materials. The rest of us headed back to the house and chilled out until mid-afternoon. Tom and I went out to Giant. I stopped in the Dollar Tree for some balloons for Katie's birthday. Tom and Cathy cooked a great birthday dinner for Katie with the traditional roasted chicken with the orange inside. The ice cream cake after dinner was a good finishing touch.

Saturday, December 20

The temperature was 25 when we arose. After breakfast, I wanted to drive to Peace Valley to walk around the lake, but when I went out to the XTerra, the key wouldn't go in the lock. I sprayed it with WD-40, but it still wouldn't turn much. I unlocked the tailgate door and set off the car alarm. I crawled in and opened the passenger door from the inside, but I couldn't start the car. I thought that the electrical system might be messed up, so I called AAA and they sent a tow truck. The driver sprayed the lock with the nozzle in the WD-40 and that freed it so that the alarm could be reset and the car started. Another mini-adventure. I missed my walk, but Cathy, Rachel, and I drove to Alex and Phil's in Glen Mills. We stopped at WaWa and picked up some soup and sandwiches for lunch. We all ate lunch at Alex and Phil's. Rachel enjoyed playing with her cousins. Phil, Erin, Bridget, Rachel, and I all worked on a 300 piece puzzle and Rachel put in the last piece. I was amazed at how well the girls all did in puzzle solving. While we were there, the Glen Mills Fire Department came by in a mini-parade with Santa and candy canes for the kids. We left around 3:30 PM and stopped at WaWa for water and coffee on the way back. When we got back, we assembled Rachel's Thomas the Train set.

Sunday, December 21

There was a layer of ice on everything when we arose. After breakfast, I got so bored that I went out and scraped ice off of the cars in the driveway. Cathy and Rachel baked cookies. After lunch, I drove to Peace Valley and walked a bit on the sheer ice of the path before giving up. By the time I got back to the house, Cathy and Katie were on their way to Target. I volunteered to shop at Giant and used their shopping list. I had to call Cathy several times to get advice or clarifications. After I got back from the store, a bit of sunshine had started to melt the ice from the trees, creating an interesting effect. When the women got back, I helped carry in some packages. Then I put out the trash can and a couple of recycling cans. During the day, I was able to do most of the Sunday Times puzzle. We had a chicken dinner from Mystery Chef and I had red beans and rice. It got very cold and windy overnight.

Monday, December 22

The temperature dipped to 10 degrees by 6:30 AM when I arose. The wind was blowing and gusting to 40 mph to amplify the misery. Tom headed out to work very early. I walked to Giant and Rite-Aid and then got to walk back to Rite-Aid again with Cathy's insurance card. We ate an early lunch and then Cathy, Rachel, and I drove to the malls in King of Prussia. It was still cold and windy, so our time outdoors was uncomfortable. There were the expected huge holiday crowd at the malls. Rachel had a hand in picking out presents for Tom and Katie. We stopped a Starbucks for a cappuccino and hot chocolate. Cathy made a stop in Ann Taylor Loft while we were there. We did a lot of walking in both malls, using Rachel's stroller most of the time. Rachel was able to view two Santas from a distance and got one of them to wave at her. We fought heavy traffic on the way back to the house. We had a good hearty pasta dinner.

Tuesday, December 23

We all slept-in until almost 7:00 AM. The morning temperature was in the low 20s and didn't get much higher all day. Cathy, Rachel, and I ran a couple of errands and then drove to the Montgomery Mall to walk a bit. We stopped at Starbucks for a cappuccino and a kid's hot chocolate. Then, we bought an electric screwdriver, with two plastic toys to be disassembled and assembled, for Rachel at KB Toys, which is going out of business and had everything marked down by 40%. We ate lunch at the food court. Tom and Katie went out for lunch. When we returned, Rachel and Katie took a nap. Later in the afternoon, Tom, Cathy, and I went shopping at Giant. We had burgers for dinner. After Rachel went to bed, we viewed the DVD version of "Dark Knight." It was definitely dark and very well done. I had thought that the Heath Ledger push for an Oscar was just sentimental, but now I feel that it would be deserved.

Wednesday, December 24

There was freezing rain in the morning. The Philadelphia ABC station reported on multiple multiple-car accidents in the metropolitan area. Katie and Tom went out for an 8:00 AM doctor's appointment for Katie. There was no information about when the baby would come. Cathy baked name-tag cookies, and I painted initials on them. Rachel and Cathy painted the rest of the cookies with various designs. The "paint" was red icing. I did a workout on Katie's elliptical trainer and then took a shower. After lunch, Cathy and I drove to Alex and Phil's house via a liquor store for a bottle of wine and Border's for a cappuccino. The rain continued for most of the trip. We had very little time at the Stoop's before we had to leave for church. We went to the children's service at 3:00 PM. The program was very well done and we all got light sticks for the closing hymn. Back at the Stoops, I got a photo of Cathy and Alex and the Stoops' Christmas tree. Also, I took one of the festive Christmas Eve table. Cathy and I spent about an hour playing with the kids' XBox dance program. We had a good dinner and left at about 8:30 PM. Traffic was surprisingly heavy, but the temperature was in the high 70s, so conditions were safe, even with the rain. When we arrived back at Katie and Tom's, Rachel had just put out a snack for Santa. Cathy read "The Night Before Christmas" to Rachel. Most of us went to bed at a reasonable hour, but Tom stayed up working on presents and cooking materials until 3:00 AM.


When I awoke at 6:20 AM, not another creature was stirring. I put on the lights and saw that Santa's snack had been consumed and the stockings were filled. Rachel's present from Santa was a fancy Ariel doll. Rachel also got her very own digital camera which she used to shoot scores of photos. Rachel also got a doctor's kit from Bill and Stacy. She pulled it out of the box upside down and thought it was a grill. Rachel liked the doctor's kit, but said that she was going to be an engineer. We gave Rachel a kid's laptop, which pleased her since she sees the rest of us on laptops often during the day and evening. Tom gave Katie a beautiful pearl necklace and earring set. Later in the morning, after many other nice gifts, we started to get brunch together. We had a great brunch of pancakes, biscuits, and fruit. Then, we put the turkey on and Cathy got the table ready for Christmas dinner. I did the NY Times puzzle in forty minutes while everyone else napped. Katie felt increasingly uncomfortable as the afternoon wore on and she and Tom left for the hospital at about 3:50 PM. Alex, Phil, and family arrived shortly after 4:00 PM. Alex and Phil pitched in and helped to get dinner ready. We had a great Christmas meal, but were missing Katie and Tom. Those with presents to receive, including me, opened them. Katie called around 8:00 PM and said that she was staying at the hospital overnight. The Stoops family left shortly after the call and headed back to Glen Mills. I did a personal best at pigging out on this day. Tom and Katie returned at 3:40 AM.

Friday, December 26

I awoke at 6:50 AM and discovered that Katie and Tom were back. It was a bit warmer during the day and got all the way to 40 degrees. Cathy and I walked the 6.1 loop around Lake Galena. Then, we went to ACME to drop off a RedBox DVD and shopped at Genardi's where I drank a cappuccino. Cathy, Rachel, Katie, and I played UNO during the late afternoon. We had leftovers for dinner. After Rachel went to bed, we watched "Love Actually", which I had endured once before.

Saturday, December 27

I slept-in until 7:00 AM. The temperature wasn't too bad, but it stayed very foggy and misty all day. Katie, Cathy, and Rachel went to see a kids' movie. Tom and I drove to Lake Galena and did a 5K run and 3 mile walk. We went to Starbucks in downtown Doylestown after the walk/run. We watched football for the rest of the afternoon and into the evening. After dinner, we viewed another chick flick, "Two Weeks Notice."

Sunday, December 28

I slept-in again. It was warm, almost balmy, as Philadelphia set a high temperature record for the date of 66 degrees. I played with Rachel for a couple of hours with her mazes and numbers books. Matt Merkle arrived during late morning. We ate take-out pizza from Nat's for lunch. Cathy, Matt, and I took a 6.1 mile walk at Lake Galena. It was great to walk in warm air. Cathy and I picked up take-out from Roman Delight for dinner. After Rachel went to bed, we watched "The Cooler."

Monday, December 29

I slept-in yet again until after 7:00 AM. Matt was awake in the family room when I came down for breakfast. Tom dropped Rachel at daycare. Later in the morning, Tom, Matt, and I brought a lot of stuff to the Salvation Army. We went to Moe's for lunch and I picked up a cappuccino at Starbucks after lunch. We did a bit of shopping at Best Buy and an auto parts store on the way back to Katie and Tom's house. Tom grilled filets mignon and portabello mushrooms for dinner. We viewed "Transsiberian", which was a very good suspense film.

Tuesday, December 30

I slept until after 7:00 AM and did a crossword puzzle before Matt awoke. Cathy and I dropped Rachel at daycare. I did a few more crosswords during the morning. The adults all drove to Doylestown in 2 cars and went to Lily's for lunch. Tom and Matt stayed in town for a movie. We dropped Katie back home and then drove to Montgomeryville for some shopping. We tried to go to a Thai restaurant in Doylestown, but ended up at Los Serapes for a good Mexican meal. After Rachel went to bed, we viewed the chick flick, "Wimbledon."

New Year's Eve

I repeated my awakening sequence of the day before. After breakfast, Cathy and I took a walk at Lake Galena. The wind started blowing hard by the time we left there. We got back in time for lunch. After lunch I worked on our Summary for 2008. I looked for a "best photo" of the year, and came up with this one. Matt left for Ohio after a good visit. Tom and I went out to Giant for shopping for a New Year's brunch for us and the Stoops family. Afterward, we went to the Doylestown Starbucks, where I tried a soy milk cappuccino, which was too sweet for my taste. Rachel played her first unassisted game of UNO and won two of the three hands. Cathy won the other. We had a nice end of the year meal and then settled down for a long evening of TV watching. We stuck with ESPN where LSU drubbed Georgia Tech. We had a speakerphone conference call with the McArthurs from Georgia. It was cute to hear Rachel and Sarah talk with each other. The adults stayed up for the ball drop in the Big Apple and a couple of lame "sports" on ESPN, including a truck which landed on its side after a back flip.

It was a great year. We enter 2009 with even greater expectations.

William G. McArthur