Thursday, December 30, 2010

Hop, Skip and Jump Heading South

The day after Christmas we all went to Kelly's for dinner and spent some time with Shannon, John, Katie and new baby Cullin. You may remember Katie from last summer when she sang It's a Grand Old Flag in its entirety for the 4th of July. She will be 3 in February and sang Frosty, Rudolph, Jingle Bells and Deck The Halls for us. Then she proceeded to recite the Lord's Prayer and sang Jesus Loves Me while signing the song as she is being taught at Sunday School. Shannon says she is so smart she scares her.

We played some Mexican Train and another round of Catch Phrase and it was as much fun as Christmas night.

Tuesday morning we took Kristin to the airport for a noon flight and continued south. Kristin's plane was on time and she arrived home safely. We tried to reach Peter for three days and when we finally talked to his wife we learned Peter had been hospitalized for 11 days and was not able to have visitors. We are so saddened to learn of this development but had to respect his wishes. So we drove down 127 and stopped in Eaton for a short visit with Ted's cousin Pat. I took a couple pictures of the snow covered farms along the way. It didn't snow on us the entire time we were gone but we did run into about 3 minutes of awful rain right before we stopped for the night in Arkansas on the way home. It came and went very quickly but we were 5 miles from our exit and stopping anyway.

We arrived in Cincinnati in time to dress to go to Ted's sister's for dinner and to see Kevin and Barb. Mike and Kathy both had the flu so were unable to come. Peg asked us to pick up Aunt Eileen, age 83, and Uncle Bill, age 93, so they could visit too. Dave flew home from St. Louis just in time to eat. We had a good visit and some Skyline chili. It was good to see everyone but I forgot to take a picture!

Thursday we met two of my grade school friends for lunch. They just happen to be seeing each other now. Jerry's folks bought my childhood home when I was about 10 and he ended up in the same class in elementary school as Donna and I were. Donna went to school with me from K-12.

Afterwards we stopped at Sam's to get brats, goetta and frozen Skyline to take home with us in the two coolers we brought with us. Then it was back to Karen's for a short visit with their daughter Cindy and her husband Tim before leaving again to meet my niece Jill for dinner.

She is an excellent quilter and made us both Snuggies like you see on TV. I know they'll be great in the RV on cool evenings when we don't want to turn the furnace on. You are covered up but your hands are free to read, use the computer or hold onto the remote. We always enjoy our visit with her. She is such a sweet girl and looks so much like our Kristin. Once again I forgot to take a picture.

Cindy had brought over all she had collected for our family reunion goody bags for us to take home. We'll have more room in the RV and truck to take it all to Pigeon Forge than they will have in their Prius. When we got home from dinner we did some rearranging in the car to get things situated. Ted said we need a semi to get all this stuff back. I said we just needed to pack it better. We are full but we have it all in there.

We left at 8:16 Friday morning (one minute past Ted's announced departure time) and traveled southwest taking a different way home. From Elizabethtown, KY we took the Wendell Ford Fwy. to I-155 to I-55 in Missouri and south into Arkansas, west of Memphis. We believe this saves about an hour over going Louisville-Nashville-Memphis along I-65 and I-40. And there was no traffic. That was the best part.

We stopped in Brinkley, Arkansas for the night after being on the road for close to 10 hours. We checked into a motel, went into town for a BBQ dinner and then right back to the motel. I was in bed asleep by 9 pm. Ted said he didn't see the ball drop so he went to sleep before 11 pm. For those of you in the Eastern Time Zone, we in the Central Time Zone have to watch at 11 pm or we're looking at street sweepers in New York at midnight CST!

We arrived home today at 4:30, wished Chris a Happy New Year, then went to church at 5:00. I've been through the mail, paid the bills, and still have lots of unpacking to do.

Here is a picture from Kara's Christmas e-mail since she never got around to sending cards. She had overnight company for 9 straight days and nights so we'll just have to forgive her.

Here's my favorite picture and I've chosen the caption: "Here's lookin' at ya sweetheart!"

Wishing you and yours the best of everything in 2011.

Monday, December 27, 2010

What A Very Merry Christmas

The kids were up bright and early on Christmas but they had to stay upstairs until Mommy said it was OK to come down. Aunt Kristin helped them pass the time at the top of the stairs.

It's a good thing we took pictures the night before because it took no time at all for the room to descend into chaos.

Santa was good to me and Ted. We got new camping chairs, an I-Home for our I-Touch, Wheel of Fortune, Amazing Race and Bowling Wii games, another set of remotes for the Wii, a cover for my Kindle, Wii Fit and Board and a gift certificate for Amazon. Good thing we have the Expedition to get all of this home.

We had our traditional German breakfast of goetta and toast before we started preparations for dinner. Of course we had to have a "few snacks" for the company coming over.

There was another round of presents and more paper strewn about.

Kristin's friend, Dr. Varde (Sheetal to us) arrived with a huge fruit basket. She said she hoped we didn't mind but she was re-gifting it to us! That tells you how much she feels a part of our family. When it was close to dinner time, Kara noticed her neighbors were home. They are Chinese and usually travel during the holidays. She called them and they and their daughter Angela came to eat dinner with us. Sheetal and Kristin got within a half hour of eating at the adults' table but, alas, once again they ended up at the children's table. This is a running joke within the family too.

We played Catch Phrase and laughed until we cried. Some were rolling around on the floor laughing. Cassie told her mother that if we were playing Survivor she would vote her off the island after losing a point. No present in the world can ever be as good as having your family all around laughing and playing together.

Sunday we girls went shopping at Great Lakes Crossing. It has been 15 years since we moved from this area and I was amazed at the amount of Middle Easterners present. I thought I was north of Dubai instead of Detroit. I can really see a change in the demographics of this area.

We shopped Lord & Taylor where we found $108 cashmere sweaters for $20, Jones of New York where Kara tried on every pair of slacks in the store. She is very disproportionate top to bottom and is having a hard time getting clothes right now. Since she doesn't stay in a size for long, she doesn't want to invest great amounts in these transitional clothes. We found great bargains and she came home with two pairs of slacks, two skirts, a pair of jeans and several tops. We stopped at Strasburg Children and I bought gifts for Katie and Collin who we will see today. Shannon's parents have been so good to Morgan and Sam through the years that I wanted to reciprocate now that they have two grandbabies. Shannon has been part of our family almost as long as Sheetal.

We all met at St. Andrews for Mass at 5:00 (though some of us shoppers were a tad bit late!) and then went to Big Boy for dinner. It was the only restaurant that could put 11 of us all together right away. We had eaten at Olga's at the mall and weren't too hungry but the guys had all skipped lunch and were more than ready to eat.

Today is a "let's get our act together" sort of day. We are taking Kristin to the airport tomorrow for a noon flight and heading to Celina, OH. Kara is expecting more company passing through from Chicago to New York. We are having dinner at Kelly's later today so we need to have things ready for Tuesday morning before we leave for there this afternoon.

I'm glad we aren't any further east than we are. Those folks are having bad travel days!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Dashing Through The Snow - Not!

We left home leaving Chris in charge a little before 8:00 on Tuesday morning. It was already in the low 70s and from what I understand, continued on into the low 80s. We stopped at a Waffle House somewhere along 59 and arrived at our hotel outside Memphis around five. We used a Hilton Honors free night stay awarded to Ted last March for staying 3 nights at Hiltons in a certain time period.

After a nice breakfast included with our room we left about 8 o'clock and arrived at Karen and Ron's in Cincinnati around four. We had a nice evening visiting but went to bed early because we were tired from traveling. We had coffee with Karen in the morning and left about 9 o'clock. We stopped in Bowling Green for lunch and arrived at Kara's at two. The kids were all excited to see us and wanted to know if we brought presents for them with us. There was no snow until northern Kentucky but it was just residual from a storm last week.

Kara fixed a sausage and apple dish for dinner that Ted really liked and told Kara to give me the recipe. Afterwards she and I went to the mall for some last minute exchanging and returning ... and presents haven't even been distributed. We came home and watched Christmas Vacation and Jim Carey's Grinch before calling it a night.

Christmas Eve, Kara and I cooked and baked in anticipation of our Christmas dinner. Joining the 11 of us will be Kristin's doctor friend who she has been friends with since 1981. Allen picked Kristin up at the airport late in the afternoon and after dinner we all went to church. What a wonderful present to be all together. We stopped at Kelly's on the way home to say hello to her in-laws. We came home, got the kids in bed and watched Christmas Story and then were off to bed. I'll post pictures and more later. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas to All

Quiet weekend. Right! We were to meet Susan and Vince for lunch Friday but it was Rebecca's day to clean so they said they would just come over to our house after lunch. Then Vince had an unexpected Civil Air Patrol meeting come up so Susan suggested we meet them at the country club for dinner Friday night instead. That worked for us so that's what we did. Bob and Pat joined us and we had a really nice time with the four of them.

The lady buying the double mattress called Saturday morning and said she had borrowed a truck from work and wanted to come over around noon to pick up the bed. I was getting my hair cut early so that worked out too. The truck was dirty so I gave her a plastic tablecloth to put down first. One more thing out of here!

I was running out of time to see everyone so I called Jody to see if she would be home before we went to church. She was out but Dave said she would probably be back so we stopped and she was there. I gave her a gift and she gave me a nice basket of goodies that I'll be taking with me to Michigan. There was even a bottle of Riesling wine. Good friends know what you drink!

After church we changed our Chik Fil A routine and went to Jack In The Box instead. I think this is only the second time we've ever eaten at one even though they are all around. Our other time was in Honolulu back in 1985. I guess we weren't overly impressed way back then. We just had a burger before heading to bunco. We were playing for Terry & Carol in the St. Anthony Church group. Who should walk in but our neighbors Jeanette and Dick playing for another couple we know. You just have to mind your p's and q's when you are out and about. Everyone was in a festive mood. We had a lot of fun and it was almost midnight when we got home.

I spent Sunday getting ready for our trip and for my luncheon on Monday. Getting the leaves into the table, positioning the pads and then delving through the tablecloths to find the one that fits when it is fully extended takes longer than you would think. I set the table and then left for the grocery.

Once I got back I had a lot of chopping and cooking to do. I made a cheese, meat and fruit platter, bought a small circle of shrimp and made my pesto dip that everyone really likes. That was for appetizers. For lunch I prepared an antipasto salad, tortellini soup and bread followed by spumoni ice cream and biscotti. By the time the Survivor Finale came on, I was almost too tired to watch. I kept falling asleep.

Today's lunch went very well. Everyone brought food for our church pantry. Ted took it over right away and it filled two shopping carts. We all talked, had a gift exchange (I got a Christmas plate) and then had lunch. It all went well and everyone was very complimentary. Judy and Michele stayed behind to help me get dishes into the dishwasher and it helped a lot.

I have to finish getting the rest of my warm clothes together now. I've gathered up all that the kids left here over Thanksgiving and packed boxes with snack foods we can all eat when we're there together. The car is loaded except for my clothes so I better sign off before I get in trouble with you know who. Chris will be down tomorrow after we leave so I'll have to check in with him tonight before it gets too late.

May your Christmas be merry, your days be bright, and all your wishes come true.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

And The Beat Goes On

Tuesday night we met Tommy, Susan, Jay and Stella at El Chapparo for dinner. Afterwards they came back here. I made flavored coffee, put out my butter cookies and Ted fixed dishes of peppermint ice cream. Our four guests all took their turn at playing a bowling game on Ted's Wii. I think Tommy won. I had to teach him the "We did it" Dora dance. It's obvious he has no grandchildren! We had a great time with them.

Our weather Wednesday was perfect and we had a lovely day to help distribute the gifts to Women Shelter and Interfaith families. I saw tables & chairs, lawn mowers, mattresses, TVs, computers, bicycles and much, much more go out for about 200 families.

The most amazing thing transpired while we were talking to Marian from Junior Forum who is from Ireland. Her brogue is easy to pinpoint and Ted, being of Irish descent, was talking to her about where she is from and where his family is from. She told us of recently talking to a man in the supermarket line who had just visited a relative named Alice in Ireland ... who lived in the same town as Marian's mother still lives and Marian knew her. We continued talking and she mentioned her brother was 60, a doctor and becoming a priest. Ted and I looked at each other. We attended Mass last August in Gainesville, TX and there were two seminarians on the altar with the priest. One was an older, Irish doctor becoming a priest. It was her brother! The world gets smaller and smaller.

Today we had our Newcomers Christmas luncheon at the country club. Two tables of us "old timers" had agreed to go. Most of us don't do the luncheons much anymore. It was nice to see people I haven't seen in some time. The food was OK and the singer was very entertaining. The nice part was that they told us they were going to tear up all of our checks and pay for our lunch. What a nice surprise! I'm not sure that's fair to the rest of the organization that didn't attend but I'm not on the Board anymore so it's not my problem. While cleaning the pantry I came across a canister set I had and asked a Newcomer gal if she would want it since it matched her kitchen perfectly and she agreed. Turns out she was parked next to me and the switch was easy to make.

The people came tonight for the double mattress, box springs and frame but it wouldn't fit in their small SUV and they have to come back. I gave her a mattress pad and set of sheets since no one in our family will have a double bed anymore as well as the frame to take with her now. The newest sheet set I bought will go to my friend Judy who just bought a double mattress set for her daughter but neither of us knew what the other one was doing at the time. If she likes the bedspread, I'll give her that too. I'm in a straightening up, giving away, donating, tossing out kind of mood.

We don't have a big weekend planned. I need to get ready for my bunco luncheon here on Monday. Chris will be coming down before we leave on Tuesday. He wanted to know how to turn all the lighted decorations on. He's in his element again.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Still At It

Ted did not have to report for jury duty. When we called they said his date and time had been cancelled so that paved the way for us to continue on with all our plans. Susan called and invited us to join them at the country club for the Friday night buffet but we declined. It was just good to stay at home for a change.

Saturday we went to Mass and then met Gerre, Barry, Sue Anne and Tom for dinner. We tried a new restaurant but soon realized getting a table for six wasn't going to happen easily so we went across the street to a relatively new Italian place and had a great meal. We stayed and talked a long time with no one rushing us. Gerre and I walk and see each other all the time but to see Sue Anne twice in one week was a real treat

Ted went shooting on Sunday while I stayed home to get ready for Canasta here on Monday and made deviled eggs, a spice cake and some butter cookies. At 4 o'clock we went to the neighborhood party and I took my eggs there. I couldn't find wonton wrappers to make the Crab Rangoons and I knew I had what I needed for deviled eggs so I just bought an extra dozen while at the store.

Monday I got all three of the tables set with Christmas tablecloths and finished getting me and the food ready just in time. I tried to make it a little more festive than normal by purchasing two food trays from Randall's supplemented by some of my own things including the spice cake and butter cookies. They put a good dent in everything. My mango tea was gone but no one drank any flavored coffee! You just never know what they'll eat or drink. Anyway, I won my dollar back for being low. I just didn't have good cards but that's the way it goes.

Today we have to take Terry and Carol to the airport in the morning. Tonight we are meeting Jay, Stella, Tommy and Susan for dinner. We all plan to come back here to finish off the butter cookies and maybe even the spice cake. I have some peppermint ice cream too. We haven't seen Tommy and Susan since we all left the valley in October.

I put an ad on line in our neighborhood "newspaper" to sell our double mattress. I am replacing it with a queen size mattress. Both of our married daughters are used to sleeping in a queen bed so that will make it more comfortable for them (and anyone else) even though they don't come very often. The other bedroom has twin beds which works for the grandkids in each family. I could have sold the mattress several times over but a lady is coming to pick it up on Thursday night. I want to have some painting done so I won't get the new mattress until that is done. Chris normally sleeps in that room so he'll have to use a twin bed or sleep in ours which he has always refused to do. It's up to him!

Tomorrow Ted and I both are working at the pavilion distributing gifts to families idenitfied by Interfaith and the Women's Shelter. Yesterday the donations arrived, today they are being sorted to get each family's gifts together and marked and tomorrow it all gets given out. I'll get 4.5 service hours for Junior Forum. Hmmm ... I wonder if I can claim Ted's too?????

Friday, December 10, 2010

Whew! And Still Two Weeks To Go

Our lunch Tuesday was wonderful and Gail's house looked fabulous! It's a beautiful home to begin with, tastefully decorated, and her Christmas additions were breathtaking. She spends six hours alone doing her gold and white 10 foot tree. We were given gold butterfly ornaments and butterfly notebooks as presents. It was a most enjoyable affair.

Wednesday Ted and I went to church in the morning to the children's Mass. It is always so uplifting to see the little ones doing the readings, leading the songs and BEHAVING so well in church. That evening I met Sue Anne for dinner and left poor Ted to fend for himself. Our 5 o'clock date kept me out until 10 p.m. We did a lot of catching up. She is working for Hallmark and Lone Star College so we have little opportunity to get together.

I drove half of my neighbor ladies to Navasota on Thursday for our holiday luncheon. We went to Martha's Bloomers Cafe, garden store and gift shop. We had a private room and another great lunch. When we returned we met at Gracie's to exchange gifts and have dessert and coffee. Ida collected money from each of us for the Food Bank. Once the gift giving was finished I had to leave so I could get dressed again for another party!

Junior Forum's Christmas Party was being held and I needed to meet up with the carload of ladies I was riding with at 6 o'clock. We all had presents and gift wrap to donate to Interfaith and the Women's Shelter so we were totally filled up. I bought a doll and layette set as the gift and took three rolls of paper. There was a mountain of gifts when we arrived. In their normal efficient manner, when we left, the gifts had all been bagged up and put into cars to be transported.

We had an open bar for an hour, a delicious dinner and then entertainment by our own Merry Melodies, our group that goes out and entertains in senior homes, for organizations, schools, etc. What started as a Christmas Carol performance turned into a rendition of Mele Kalikimaka complete with the hulu and then another round with gals from the audience getting into the act.

After that it was a medley of all the dances you see at weddings and such where no one needs a partner. The dance floor was full and no men present was not a problem at all. It was a fun night!

After walking 4K with Gerre this morning, I now get to stay close to home the rest of today. I do need to go to the store to start food preparations for Monday's Canasta gathering here. I'm also making Crab Rangoons for our neighborhood party on Sunday afternoon. All that will keep me busy and out of trouble for awhile.

I have some gifts to wrap and I want to start getting things together for our trip up north. Chris hasn't been here to stay in so long that I wasn't sure he wanted to come back. But he jumped at the chance. His mother had back surgery and he has been out walking with her. He is a good son I guess but he likes when he spends time alone here. We're grateful for that.

After 5 we have to call to see if Ted has jury duty next week. That could put a wrinkle in our plans but we'll just have to deal with it if he does.

Remember, with all this partying, if you are going to drink, don't drive! God bless MADD who has raised everyone's awareness of the danger of drinking and driving and taught us to designate a driver.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

And So The Parties Begin

Ted talked to Jay on Friday and he invited us over to Rayford for bingo night. We weren't doing anything else and it would give us a chance to visit him and Stella plus all the Winter Texans we have met over the years. Jay suggested we meet at James Coney Island for a bite first. We always have a good time with these two and Friday was no exception. None of us won anything at bingo but Warren did make me and Ted "honorary" name badges for Rayford Crossing.

Saturday was church and dinner out with Terry & Carol. They had been trying to take us out for our birthdays since the fall so we finally made it. We had an excellent dinner at Perry's followed by coffee and dessert at our house to exchange Christmas gifts. They are leaving next week for Chicago and will be gone over the holidays.

Ted went shooting Sunday and I stayed home and did all my Christmas cards. I can't believe I am so ready for Christmas this early in the month. I've used our American Express points on Amazon and have just gone to town! I love the $0.00 due at the bottom of the invoice. I did order Ted a Wii and a Kindel for myself too.

It's been chilly here the past few days and that was welcome on Monday when I went to play Mexican Train. Sometimes Christmas sweaters are just too hot down here but not this time. My gift was a hand embroidered towel done by the lady who runs this group. I appreciated the effort that went into the gift. We had lunch afterwards and then I stopped at Sam's to buy bulk food for the food pantry at church. My bunco group always fills the back of my Expedition as our Christmas project and I wanted to have my things on hand.

Today is the luncheon for Junior Forum Provisionals at a home here in our area. Our Provisional Group this year is labeled "butterflies." Everything that has pertained to us - notices, invitations, napkins, announcements, etc. have had butterflies on them. Even Gail's Christmas card to all of us had butterflies. At one of the stops on our way home from Austin I found a beautiful clear lavender tinted vase with butterflies. I immediately thought of Gail and knew it would be a good hostess gift for today's luncheon.

I'll let you know how she liked it next time!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Meeting Myself Coming and Going

Monday was our last trip to DermaColor about eyebrows. I think both Michele and I are entirely satisfied with the results now. We had a morning appointment and I had plenty of work waiting for me back home from all the company the week before.

On Tuesday I went to my neighbors for their craft sale. They were supposed to be at the hospital craft show but it was cancelled so they just did it at home. I bought a purse and a photo box. As soon as I left there, I headed to the Hand Me Up Shop to work in the afternoon. They waste nothing and I spent half my time cutting buttons off clothes destined for the recycle bin. Apparently there is a big market for old buttons. The big ones are easy to get off but the smaller ones can be a dickens. I used my route home as an opportunity to drop off Kathy's ice cream scoop, Judy's pie plates, Kathy's folders and Sherida's wine carry-all. Now the top of my dryer is cleared off.

My pantry was in a real state after everyone left so I took everything out, threw some stuff away and got it back in order. Then I tackled the double linen closet in the hall. Now I'm ready for the next call from Paralyzed Veterans. I love getting things orderly. I got the Christmas decorations out of the attic and decorated as much as I am going to. I don't do a tree, just the tabletops, mantel and front porch. If I wasn't having bunco and canasta here, I probably wouldn't have even done that.

Mealtime has been easy because we had so many leftovers. After warmed over turkey and turkey sandwiches, I made a turkey pot pie that turned out really well. By then we had shared the table with that bird all we cared to so I threw the last little bit, all dark meat, in the garbage. So long Turkey 2010.

I had to work at the Children's Immunization Clinic on Thursday so I set the alarm for 6:30. This was my first time at Tomagwa (Tomball, Magnolia, Waller) clinic and I had a lot to learn. I was amazed at all the shots kids need! We have to mark off on a sheet everything they have already received based on records we have or records they bring in, then determine what they do need. But you have to pay attention to age (are they old enough or too old), is the time lapse between the last one and this one enough? I was glad to learn a nurse goes over the sheet before the immunizations are given. Whew! They had me worried there for awhile. Then there is filing to be done and sheets to be filled out so the records can be put on the computer. In no time at all it was time to head for home.

I stopped at Wal-Mart for some toiletries and to get a boy's and a girl's present for the church tree. I found a Disney princess table and two chairs by a sign that said $19. Then I found a Matchbox Car Raceway for $19. When I got to check out the table was $27. I told the lady about the sign and she charged me $19. Some little girl and little boy will be happy I hope.

Back home I was wrapping up all the rest of the presents and I'm in really good shape. I ordered a lot off Amazon so those things will be arriving soon. Rebecca came today (thank you Lord!) to get all the sticky stuff off the floors, walls, furniture, etc.

So my house is clean and decorated, laundry is under control, presents are either here and wrapped or on their way. The weather is pleasant and the sun is shining. Now I just have to get to those Christmas cards.