Ok, 5+ weeks and no posts, what gives?
Basically, after Vista shipped, I took a much needed vacation. I was looking at losing 2 weeks of vacation at the end of the year and I decided to spend some of the time I would have carried over and just take off until the new year.
It's funny. I used to ask my friends who retired early what they did with all that time, and they invariably answered: "It's not a problem at all - there's tons of stuff to do". Ya know, they were right - there IS tons of stuff to do.
I mostly spent my time off wrapping Christmas presents (my side of the family's Christmas was 20 people this year so there are a lot of presents to wrap (it'll be 24 people next year since my brother's family joins us on odd years), adding in Valorie's family and friends here in Seattle means we do presents for something like 40 people). I also spent time schlepping the kids to various events and shopping and generally just puttering around. It was really quite relaxing (and quite the change to how my life was before we shipped).
And then we had the windstorm. On the night of the storm, Valorie and I sat on our front porch and watched the trees across the street bend back and forth. It was truly freaky - there was essentially no wind at street level, while the trees across the street were bending at least 20 degrees. I was convinced they were going to snap.
We lost power at about 6PM on Thursday the 14th. What we didn't realize until later was that we lived at essentially ground zero for the windstorm powerline damage - while there was no damage at all in our neighborhood, the same couldn't be said about the power lines around our house. On Friday morning, we left the house to get supplies (always after the fact) and drove to Woodinville-Duvall road which was simply devastated - trees across the road held up only by power lines, power poles snapped in half, traffic and street lights lying twisted in the middle of the road.
While power was out, we never bothered with the shelter thing, we just ate out at restaurants and drove around taking care of last minute things (silly stuff like dealing with the load of laundry that was running in the washing machine when power went out). Fortunately power came back at Microsoft on Saturday afternoon, so we were able to go and get showered in the locker rooms (thanks Lisa for the towels). On Sunday night there were a half a dozen families scattered around my building who had decided to camp out for the duration.
We left for the east coast on Monday the 18th still without power, the power didn't come back at home until sometime on the 22nd (I called into home daily and when the answering machine picked up, I knew we had power).
Christmas itself was very fun, it was great seeing everyone in our family again - we spent the first week with my mom in NYC (we saw Spamalot and the Big Apple Circus (a holiday tradition, this year's show was particularly impressive)).
We next drove up to Boston and celebrated Christmas with the rest of the family, which was again great - lots of great food, conversations, etc. Gift highlights for Christmas were: Sharron's getting her ears pierced, and Daniel receiving the most remarkable pair of Chuck Taylor Converse All Stars I've ever seen (I didn't even know they MADE shoes in metallic gold). Here's a link to the shoes.
And of course getting to see all the "littles" again was really cool - my cousins have 5 kids all under 6 between them so there are tons of really cute kids running around all the time.
We then returned to Albany for a couple of days with my immediate family - always a lot of fun, including a birthday dinner hosted by my sister Edie (we had chicken puff (an old family recipe ) and a Carvel cake (we don't get them on the West Coast)) :).
And after all that, we then returned to Seattle and started dealing with the aftermath of the storm - everything in our freezers is toast, so we're restocking the house.
Oh, and now that I'm back at work, I'm dealing with six weeks of email backlog. That's also "exciting", but in a different way.
Coming up? Well, Daniel's been cast as Demetrious in the Village Theatre's Kidstage production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream", so he's going to be in rehearsals essentially non-stop for the next 5 weeks, then he is in the ensemble for the Overlake School's production of "The Robber Bridegroom". So we're gonna be doing a ton of schlepping :).