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This fall our cat Joey of unknown years, maybe about 13ish, developed goopy eyes. He'd always had crud in the corner of his eyes so when it got a little more prevalent, I didn't think too much of it. Then, one of Joey's eyes started to get cloudy and we took him to the vet.
After oral and topical medications, Joey's eye infection cleared up but not before he developed a full blown cataract in one eye.
Other than losing vision in one eye, Joey's now doing fine. At first he was a just a little bit off when jumping onto things, but he quickly adapted and is back to following me around the house, sleeping the day away and taking occasional breaks to complain about his food.
Will, Drew and Landon visiting Santa Claus at the mall yesterday. Landon was a little overwhelmed seeing Saint Nicholas up close but Santa knew just what to do as he had Landon move off to the end while Drew held his hand.
Will, Drew and Landon, as well as Mary and I, wish you all a very merry Christmas.
Will, Landon and Drew in front of the nativity scene at our church. Happy birthday Jesus!
Our Christmas tree all decorated with 1360 lights! (We counted when we took them down and I edited this post.)
We don't recall where it came from but our Santa ornament isn't too old. It's a simple figure of Santa Claus putting on his gloves, no doubt suiting up for his busy night. A few years ago I gave him a little more descriptive name...Proctologist Santa! This year he got a new name...TSA Santa.
Aunt Donelda brought with her boxes, bags and tins filled with homemade cookies. Starting from 12:00, moving around clockwise and ending in the center: Nestle Toll House mint-chocolate chip cookies, loaded oatmeal cookies, chocolate gooey butter cookies, Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookies, peanut brittle, rum balls, Nestle Toll House frozen sifted-flour chocolate chip cookies (just like our Grandma Buller had waiting for us every year we went to visit), and peanut butter balls. It's hard to pick a favorite but the rum balls and peanut butter balls sure stand out as do the frozen Toll House which really bring back memories of visiting my Grandparents and later my Grandmother. Who knew sifted flour was the secret to getting the texture right!?
Donelda arrived today from Chicago, a day late due to car troubles, driving a rented SUV. This allowed her to bring down Rudolph which had adorned my parents home each Christmas from 1994 to 2002. I was living in Oklahoma City in 1994 and visited Mary in Minneapolis for Thanksgiving. We went to the Mall of America on Black Friday which still stands out in my mind because the mall was not at all crowded despite being the day after Thanksgiving. I bought Rudolph and we took it out to my Ford Taurus but it wouldn't fit in the back seat or the trunk no matter how hard we tried. So, we took it back inside the mall to the store and had them ship it to my parents in Palatine.
My dad put Rudolph on the roof of the house partly because he was afraid of it being stolen but also because that's just where Rudolph belongs. I never saw him put Rudolph up but am told he had rigged some sort of pulley system to get him up there which he continued to do well into his 70's.
I didn't have time nor the inclination to stand out in the cold to get a good picture of Rudolph. A still image doesn't do him justice anyway as the lights continually move around the silhouette. Rudolph's red nose originally just consisted of a few red silhouette lights. But, my dad rigged up a red C9 bulb to better show off Rudolph's nose-so-bright. Rudolph was the perfect edition to our Christmas lights which the boys insist we add to each year. Look out Griswolds, the Danzes are coming.
I took a few photos of last night's lunar eclipse. This one is from 2:27 am. It was a little hazy which affected the clarity of my shots but, at least, it wasn't as cloudy as was predicted. It was also a little foggy and all my equipment was lightly coated with moisture. Thankfully everything is weather resistant. On the positive side, at least it wasn't real cold. I'm a little disappointed in the quality of the image, but its better than nothing.
A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes behind the earth so that the earth blocks the sun's rays from striking the moon. Last night's lunar eclipse was the first to fall on the same day as the winter solstice in 372 years. But, otherwise, lunar eclipses are not particularly rare and actually come in clusters. There can be two or three during a period of a year or a year and a half, followed by a lull of two or three years before another round begins. The next total lunar eclipse is just a year away, December 10, 2011. Hopefully, the conditions will be better for photographing!
For a comparison of how sharp of a picture I was hoping to get, see my prior photo of the moon.
The classic Jesus train with the Merry Christmas caboose.
Mary pointed out a beautiful reflection as we walked around the grounds. Be sure to bundle up well and take time to enjoy a hot chocolate as we did.
The main pond always provides a photographic opportunity.
Frosty the Snowman has a big heart.
Now here's a photographic nightmare...a brightly lit display with two little troopers posing right in front. If you use a flash to light up the foreground subjects, the display gets washed out. Balance the photo so the display looks good and the foreground subjects are too dark. My solution...take a good picture of the display and photoshop the heck out of the boys boosting their brightness and tweaking their contrast. I've seen photos in front of this flag elsewhere on the internet but none any better than this one. Without combining two differently exposed images, I don't know how to get a better image.
Mama and the boys pose with Santa and the American flag. More pictures after the jump.
Noah's ark in lights.
Some children made of lights playing in front of the lights.
Christmas carolers singing to the visitors.
The lighted bridge is in the background which changes colors and patterns to Christmas music.
It really is amazing the number of lights they put up.
Finally, I tried to play around a little with a shallow focus for an artistic effect. Not bad, but it could be improved (tried not to keep the family waiting too much while I played camera man).
Will starred in his very first play today, his pre-school's Christmas play. He got to be one of the three shepherds that visits the newborn Jesus.
Will took his role very seriously.
Each shepherd carried a staff, or a "cane" according to Will.
Here the shepherds are traveling to see the newborn King.
The shepherds are at the manger with Mary and Joseph kneeling and the three kings on the right.
Will on the right continuing his shy, quiet, demure, well-behaved manner. I think we'll try putting a shepherd costume on him at home.
Today Landon took his snack over to the couch, set up a pillow for his back, grabbed a book and made himself comfortable...all by himself.
This is what my keyboard actually looks like...I think I need to step away.
Today we picked out this year's Christmas tree, a Frasier Fir I think.
I like to get the tree netted as it makes getting it into the house and into its stand much easier.
Also, I'm always amazed when the huge tree is squeezed through the chute into its tidy little package.
That net reminds me of how my clothes fit after the holiday season.
Behold, our Festivus Pole! The past few years we've scraped our 10-foot ceiling with the Christmas tree but this one isn't more than a few inches over 8 feet.
As always, we have the best automatic tree waterer around.
Actually, this year we upgraded to the dual automatic tree waterer!
A neighbor's son had his birthday party at Bouncy Barn today. Drew and Will had a blast bouncing and playing in the various inflatables. But, the real surprise of the day was Landon.
Landon was a late walker, not achieving the milestone until about 15 months. But, he has far surpassed his brothers in the important realm of bouncy-ladder climbing, accomplishing in months what the other two took years to either physically master or mentally overcome. Having two older brothers has really pushed Landon along as he fearlessly undertakes whatever task is necessary in order to keep up.
Side note: shooting the video was a bit of a challenge given the indoor lighting and shooting through the inflatable's screen, even through two screens at one point. But, the video came out surprisingly good. (Vimeo version after the jump.)
By now, Landon has watched Drew practice piano for almost a year, probably close to 300 times. He very much loves to play piano with Drew and by himself. Lately, Landon has developed a shoulder shimmy move that he does to music. When we saw him doing it while he was playing the piano, we had to grab the camera. (Vimeo version after the jump.)