Christmas in Pittsburgh 2015
Pittsburgh, PA/Bushnell, FL - Events of Friday, December 25 to Wednesday, December 30, 2015
We were looking forward to Christmas morning with great anticipation. Although we knew Lydia still wouldn't be old enough to have developed a real excitement for Christmas, we also knew she would be much more aware than last Christmas when she was only 5 months old.
Sure enough, Lydia's face lit up with a big smile as she came into the living room on Christmas morning and saw the lights on the tree and all the gifts stacked underneath.
Lydia's first gift was a new chair. It is just her size, and she loves it.
One of Lydia's favorite gifts was J. Michael's old smartphone. She has always been fascinated by cell phones and iPads, so Lora and J. Michael gave Lydia J. Michael's old cell phone to play with. The phone has been deactivated, so the screen lights up and the camera works, but that's all it does. She knows how to turn the phone on and how to swipe the phone to unlock it. She also sometimes walks around with the phone up to her ear.
Another of Lydia's favorite gifts was a Playskool Busy Gears.
Music plays as the gears turn. The gears can also be moved around and stacked.
Toward the end of the morning when most of her other presents were unwrapped, we give Lydia the rocking horse Paul put together a couple of days prior. Lydia was excited, but as we suspected might be the case, she was also a little afraid of it because it's kind of big.
Several of the adults pretended to ride the horse in an attempt to convince Lydia it was fun. We even put Freeway on it.
We eventually coaxed Lydia to get onto the horse, but she was wasn't happy about it. We decided not to push it and to give Lydia more time to get used to the rocking horse before making another attempt.
We normally take turns opening gifts until everyone's gifts have been unwrapped. Lydia, on the other hand, opened a gift and played with it for quite a while before moving on to the next gift. Of course, there's nothing wrong with that - it makes Christmas last much longer. Lydia didn't finish unwrapping all her gifts until late on Christmas evening.
One of the last gifts Lydia opened on Christmas Day was a set of large Legos from us. The box was almost as big as she is, but she only needed a little help from Dad to get it open.
On the day after Christmas, we headed over to J. Michael's mom's house for dinner and the annual family gift exchange. There was a lot of good food and a lot of good fun. Family members draw names and give gifts only to that one person. Kids, however, get special treatment and get gifts from all the aunts and uncles.
After we had dinner and after everyone had opened their gifts, Paul spotted a rocking horse sitting over in the corner. The rocking horse has been there for years and has been used by all the grandkids. Since it was smaller than the one we got Lydia, it was easy for Paul to convince her to try it. Paul started her off with slow, gentle rocking. She eventually enjoyed going faster and faster.
The following day, it was no problem coaxing Lydia onto the bigger rocking horse at home. She giggled as we rocked it for her. Later on Sunday when J. Michael's mom came over, we got Lydia to pose for a photo on the rocking horse.
By Monday, Lydia started asking to be put onto the rocking horse. She even started getting the hang of rocking it herself.
We spent most of Monday hanging out and playing with Lydia. On Tuesday morning, we said our good-byes after posing with Lydia for one more farewell picture.
Since we took time to play with Lydia before we left, we got on the road a little later than usual when we headed south to Blueberry Hill. That was another good reason our plan to make the trip in two days instead of driving straight through was a good idea.
Not only did we get a late start, but there was also a longer than usual traffic backup north of Charlotte. That section of I-77 is always slow anyway, but this year, there is construction in that area which apparently contributed to several accidents. Fortunately, we checked traffic using the Google Maps app on our iPhone before we got too close, and we were able to re-route our travel using the app. It took us over hill and dale, but because the app takes traffic into account when calculating travel time, the app assured us it was at least 14 minutes faster than any other route. The other good thing about the detour is we were able to keep moving most of the time instead of creeping along in frustrating stop-and-go traffic. Traffic delayed our arrival at the Hampton Inn in Rock Hill, South Carolina, by over an hour.
We got up early on Wednesday for our second day of travel back to Blueberry Hill. There were only a few slow-downs on I-95 toward the South Carolina/Georgia border. However, after we got into Florida, another check of traffic on our Google Maps app showed heavy delays farther south on I-75. Construction to widen and improve that section of the highway started before we left Florida last year, and the narrow lanes passing through a couple of the construction zones again caused several accidents. Once more we were able to alter our route to travel cross-country for the last 15 miles or so to avoid the backup. We pulled into Blueberry Hill around 4:00. After we got the truck unloaded, we had some dinner and relaxed the rest of the evening.
We'll have another update sometime after the first of the year. In the meantime, we want to wish everyone a...
...Happy New Year!