Saturday, December 31, 2011

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggidy Jig

We arrived in Celina Wednesday afternoon and soon Dan came home from work. He has been doing short days. We were both relieved to see him looking better and doing well. We waited for Brandon to come home and then took them to JTs, their favorite restaurant, for dinner. I was so tired I couldn't make it through the news and gave up and went to bed.

We lingered over coffee in the morning and took off before noon. We made a stop in Findlay at Jaqua Fine Guns and had lunch at Cracker Barrel. Then we drove on to Centerville and found Peter and Ethleon in amazing health for a couple in their 90s. They were so happy to see us and we them! We visited for a couple hours, said our goodbyes and left for Cincinnati.

We had a 5 o'clock reservation to meet up with my friends. Donna #3 was sick and had said she couldn't come. When Donna #1 (I'm Donna #2 based on birthdays) arrived with Jerry, she said Cookie was sick so she and Butch wouldn't be there, so the four of us had a great time catching up since this past summer. Donna's steak and Ted's steak were not as requested so they both got entire new dinners and then they comped the dinner for both of them! A nice gesture from Texas Longhorn and made the evening even better.

We took it easy Friday until it was time to go to Ted's sister Kathy's house. His brother Kevin and Barb also came. We had Skyline chili for dinner and plates of cookies! Once again, we never moved from the table and sat talking until 11:30. His sister Peg didn't get away from her grandson's birthday party early enough to stop by. We see whomever we can when in town but with so many, we just can't see them all.

Saturday we found a message from Peg asking us to lunch but it was 4:00 o'clock by then. Ted called her back and apologized but I'm sure she was plenty busy anyway. We went to Mass and then to the Bier Haus (pretzel bread, turtle soup, hot bacon slaw, potato pancakes - this German girl's dream!) for dinner. Cindy, Tim, Ann, Todd and Nick joined the four of us. We expected them to come back to the house but Brian brought Jameson to the restaurant for Cindy & Tim to take home to watch and Ann & Todd had to deliver Nick (home on leave from the Air Force) to a party in Indiana. So the four of us went home, put the pies away and waited for the ball to drop. We were all in bed by 12:05!

We took off about 8 o'clock the next morning and made it all the way to Benton, AR just south of Little Rock. After a dinner at Western Sizzler, we watched some TV and turned in early. Today we arrived home about 2:30 pm. Ted has a sore shoulder so I'm doing the unpacking. I have things to do until Friday so the decorations will probably stay put until the weekend.

It was a great trip and wonderful Christmas but we're glad to be home.

Happy New Year to all my blog friends. I hope you will continue to read along in 2012.

It well may be that we will never meet again in this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me is made from what I learned from you
You'll be with me like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend...

Beautiful lyrics from "For Good" from Wicked.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Some Christmas Photos from Kara

This is a note written by Ted for Santa to Morgan and Sam. We are going to have it matted and framed to be put out every year so the kids will always have a sample of their Poppa's writing.

Date Night and Moving On

Keeping the day after Christmas relatively free was a good idea. Everyone was tired and not having to get dressed and be somewhere was a welcome relief. Allen and I put the Barbie Dream Townhouse together while still in our PJs. Morgan was so excited. She was so good in understanding that no one had time on Christmas Day to put it together. Sam worked on his stealth planes made of Legos. The kid is going to be an engineer. Ted took this opportunity to go to Great Lakes Gun Club. His Christmas present is being made in Milwaukee and won't be ready for awhile yet. Mine is sitting out in the drive.

We planned to go see Christmas lights and to exchange two things at Coldwater Creek in the evening but Kara got to not feeling well so we ate leftovers and kept our feet up.

Tuesday after the kids' dentist appointments, we went to Coldwater Creek. They had given Kara a wrong size for me and the top I bought Kristin was too big. We were able to get the correct size for both of us and another top for me for just $20 because of the sale prices. I also bought a $240 coat for $85. The one I am wearing was a gift from Jaime, our Mexican foreign exchange student, in 1993. When you only wear it one week a year at most, it takes a long time to wear out. Actually it is still fine but a change was in order.

We all started getting ready for our "dates" as soon as we arrived home. Four of us were going to the Detroit Opera House to see Wicked. That was Allen & Kara and Sam & me, my first date with my only grandson. Grandpa, on the other hand, was taking his three granddaughters, Cassie, Ally and Morgan, to the movies to see Arthur's Christmas and to Pizza Hut for dinner. Kelly and Pat took advantage of not having to cook dinner for the family and exchanged some gifts and ate at Red Robin.

Wicked was sensational and I'm so glad I went. The Opera House is right across from Comerica Park and Ford Field. The Fox Theater is on the next block. This area of Detroit is still very nice and they have built townhomes and lofts that are quite attractive. I wish them well in bringing the city back to what it was during it's glory days.

Today we move on to Celina, OH to visit with my brother. He had a pacemaker put in and then developed pneumonia. He is still not "up to snuff" and we are anxious to see him and his family.

Tomorrow we will leave there and hopefully be able to visit with the Thomson's in Centerville. They recently celebrated their 67th anniversary. They married on the day Ted was born. When Peter retired in 1984, Ted took his place and we've been like family ever since. Last Christmas Peter was hospitalized and we were unable to see him. While I was in Florida this past summer, Ted drove up from Cincinnati and took them to lunch. They were both doing well then.

Our three nights in Cincinnati are filled. Thursday night is dinner with my two friends Donna and Cookie and their husbands. We are going to Ted's sister Kathy's house on Friday for dinner and to see his family. New Year's Eve will be spent with my sister and her family.

New Year's Day will find us heading south. We have a very busy 2012 planned and we need to get home to start it.

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called "Opportunity" and its first chapter is New Year's Day. ~ Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Wishing you all a healthy and happy new year.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas 2011

Our timing was perfect. We had just pulled into the cell phone lot when Kristin called and said she was in. We drove to Arrivals to pick her up and winged our way to Troy. We stopped at Kelly's to drop off Kristin and to have lunch because Kara was not home yet. Afterwards we all went to Kara's for her delicious spaghetti dinner. That evening I wrapped the gifts I had sent directly to Kara's house.

Friday morning I resumed my bowling career. It started on the 10 alleys in the basement of St. Bonaventure School when I was about 10 years old. It ended in 2001 when I moved to Texas and was in need of a hip replacement. Ted, Kristin, Ally, Allen, Sam, Morgan and I decided to give it a whirl. Let's just say I was about 40 pins off my average. I would have done better if I had used my own ball that Ted gave me as a gift for my 19th birthday. It's in our garage on the new shelves!

Friday evening we all went to Greenfield Village's Holiday Celebration. Greenfield Village is part of the Henry Ford Museum complex in Dearborn, MI and is a great place to visit. We rode the carousel, took a wagon ride and stood around open fires and sang Christmas songs with strolling minstrels. We helped the group in the Stephen Foster house by ringing bells while they played.

A big hit was Santa Claus who was on a balcony of a big home but I don't remember whose. There were ladies in red velvet in the audience and they had direct contact with Santa. Imagine the kids' surprise when he called out "Merry Christmas, Morgan and Sam. I'm so glad you could come tonight."

We ate at the Taste of History restaurant and then went to the train exhibition that Sam loved. A friend sent an old Lionel train set with me for Sam and he's been playing with it every day. This gave him all sorts of ideas to expand his set. We watched the glass blowers make candy cane ornaments and beautiful candy cane bowls. The last sight was fireworks before leaving for home.

Christmas Eve we all attended Mass at St. Mary's of the Hills where our son-in-law Patrick lectored. It was a nice service, not too crowded and we were all able to sit together. Afterwards we went to Kelly's for a great dinner. Pat's family was there too and after dinner we left so they could have their family gift exchange. There was much to do back at the ranch in anticipation of Santa's arrival. Kristin spent the night so she would be here in the morning for the kids' Christmas.

I was up first and soon everyone was ready for what turned into a 2.5 hour present opening marathon. Morgan said she must have been on the nice list all year long.

We finished none too soon to get ready for our 2 pm guests' arrival. Kristin's friend Sheetal came as well as Kara and Allen's friend Bill. Kara fixed her traditional and wonderful Christmas meal which we all enjoyed.

All the girls played Barbies with Morgan and had a great time laughing at Awkward Family Photos on a calendar Sheetal gave Kristin. We had a great Christmas with the family.

“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.”

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hitting the Road

My bunco group celebrated their 11th Christmas together at the home of one of our newer members.

She has the most fantastic home and her decorations for the holidays are over the top. Everything was so beautiful.

She served a lovely lunch prepared by her husband after we played Christmas Jeopardy. We used our scores to determine order of choice of presents. When we left, the hostess had a filled candy jar for each of us. Ted had driven me there, waited with the hatch up on my car, and filled the entire back with groceries from the group. He then took them to the food pantry at church.

Carol drove me home, I changed clothes and we were off. We drove to Marshall, checked in to a Days Inn then went to eat. We drove to the "Winter Wonderland" display on the courthouse square afterwards. I've read about this in magazines and always wanted to come see it. They had train rides, carriage rides, a rocking horse ride, bounce house slides, ice rink and food vendors all nestled around the old court house that is all lit up with music playing. There were lots of people out enjoying themselves.

We had a reservation in Memphis but changed it to Jackson TN and drove there on Tuesday. With Ted's Hilton status we were given a room on the concierge level. Their executive lounge was across the hall. It had started to rain so we stayed in enjoying coconut shrimp and the company of the hostess in the room, Barbara. Others joined us and we had a great evening without leaving the hotel.

There was a wonderful breakfast the next morning which we imbibed in then left for Cincinnati. We stopped in Shepherdsville at the Zappo's shoe outlet that we visited this past summer. Everything was 70% off and we bought two pairs of boots and two pairs of shoes for $135, saving over $400! Merry Christmas to us!

We stopped at Sam's on the way in for goetta for Kara and found the noise cancelling headphones Patrick wanted. Their gas was $2.89 while Speedway next door was $3.39. Yikes! It pays to shop around. We filled up and drove to Karen's. We spent a quiet evening after a dinner of Ronnie's chili and a Christmas movie.

We timed our departure the next morning to pick up Kristin at the Detroit airport on our way to Kara's.

"Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childhood days, recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth, and transport the traveler back to his own fireside and quiet home !"- Charles Dickens

Friday, December 16, 2011

♫ ♫ Over The River and Through The Woods ♫ ♫

One party to go and we're off! Today I don't have to be anywhere - woohoo! We are going to dinner tonight with Gerre and Barry, and I am shopping for one last gift, but my social services are caught up. I will finish the year with 32 of my required 50 hours under my belt. I've already plotted my remaining 18 in the new year.

Terry and Carol came for dinner on Tuesday. Ted grilled pork tenderloins and I made wild rice, corn, green beans, cole slaw, cranberry jello, apples and cucumbers. Can you tell I was cleaning out the refrigerator as I went? I had mint chocolate chip ice cream and was going to serve Gerre's Christmas cookies but Carol brought the rest of her apple cake from Canasta and we ate that. Seems she was using up her food too.

We never left the dinner table. Ted's family has always been what I call "table sitters." I loaded the dishwasher and stacked the excess and we sat and talked for several hours. We just don't have a lot of one on one (or two on two I guess) time with them. We all are so busy and lots of time are out of town alternately. We enjoyed our evening.

Wednesday morning I went shopping for black slacks, red sweater and flannel nightgown for my 74 year old senior. I didn't think that list was difficult but red sweaters just aren't out there. I finally found one, some charcoal slacks and a blue nightgown that was a heavy knit but I couldn't find flannel. I asked for gift receipts so hopefully she can exchange anything she wants or needs to. Merry Christmas, Dorothy, whoever you are.

Then it was more Canasta! I was in the middle again and missed winning the "middle" prize by just a few points. I'm going to be happy to take a break from Canasta for awhile. I will get to play Shang Hai as soon as we get back in January.

It was off to the Friendship Center to deliver Dorothy's gift on Thursday and then over to the pavilion to help distribute gifts to 66 families sponsored by the Women's Center. Standing on concrete for four hours is as hard as pushing dollies full of boxes and wheeling bicycles out to cars and trucks. Some people are so appreciative they hug you and cry. Others have that entitlement attitude we all have come to recognize. But we smile, wish them all a Merry Christmas and wait for the next family.

I was pretty tired when I finally got home. Ted had defrosted some Italian sausages so that and Bertolli sauce made a quick dinner accompanied by Texas garlic toast. I started up the dishwasher, crashed on the couch and pretty much stayed there until bed.

I'm going to iron today and start getting my clothes together. All the gifts we are taking are sitting on Chris' bed but they'll be gone by the time he gets here. I'll leave his sitting right in the middle of the bed! His parents' house is still for sale and now there are a few others. Maybe they will have success after the first of the year.

It should be a quiet weekend followed by our Bunco Christmas Luncheon, complete with Christmas Jeopardy, on Monday. Then it will be Adios, Amigos on Tuesday.

Christmas gift suggestions: "To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect." ~ Oren Arnold

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

One Week Until Take Off

It was repair weekend as I got my hair cut and colored and went back to the prosthodontist. All this time and money to stay presentable. My bridge has been successfully removed and this morning the oral surgeon removed the roots which is all that was left. He also said I'm not a good candidate for implants so I'm feeling good about the decision to go with a partial. I wore one for years before the bridge so I can do it again.

We played Canasta Saturday night at what was a festive Christmas gathering, more so than normal. However, I'm not making any spending money at these card games but I have lots of company. There are way more losers than winners.

Gerre and Barry came over Sunday evening for dinner and we exchanged some of our Christmas gifts. They gave me a Lenox lamp that is perfect for in the bathroom through the holidays. It has a small candle and gives just enough light. Ted received a shirt that says "Tucker's Walking Buddy." He can use it in January when we keep Tucker again. I gave Gerre a Swarovski crystal bracelet I had made for her. The rest of their gifts have not yet arrived. Sure hope they are finished before we all leave town.

Monday I went across the highway to Gerre's house where the new Genealogy Group is starting up. We all talked about what we've done and what we hope to accomplish. Later in the evening Gerre came over and in no time had found my great-great-great grandfather who was born in Prussia in 1833 along with my great-great-great grandmother who was born in Hanover, Germany. I sent an e-mail to my Reunion Troops so I can update the family tree I last did for the 2005 Family Reunion. I asked for the new babies' birthdates and a few marriage dates to get that all up to date. Sometimes it is easier to get information about the dead people versus the live people. But several have responded already so I'm optimistic. I've already received a reply back from a distant cousin whose great-grandmother was a sister to my great-grandfather. Hopefully we can exchange information.

There was another round of Canasta at my sister-in-law Carol's Monday afternoon. I came in third but that doesn't pay any money. Because it is Christmas she had a lot of food for us and we had another party of sorts.

After the dentist this morning I drove by the Senior's Friendship Center to pick up a "wish list" for one of the seniors. I had received an e-mail saying they still had a large stack that had not been taken and their party is next week. So I'll be off to the shopping center tomorrow morning to buy a flannel nightgown, black slacks and a red sweater! Then - guess what? - I have to play Canasta! I miss playing Shang Hai but there's only so much time in a day.

Terry & Carol are coming over here for dinner tonight so I better go to the kitchen and start getting things ready. Ted is making pork tenderloins on his new Weber grill but I'm doing all the rest.

Don't forget "The Reason For The Season." Wish folks Merry Christmas. If they aren't celebrating Christmas, just what "holiday" are they celebrating?

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:15)

Friday, December 9, 2011

♫ It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas ♫

I had an easy day on Monday, just an appointment to confirm a Christmas gift but I was bummed when I learned it won't be here by this weekend when I need it but it will make it before Christmas. I had a chance to get caught up with the mail, the laundry done, etc.

The next day I worked four hours at the thrift shop. This is the last day I was signed up for until January when we can request our next six months of work. I will need 12 hours I think but with being gone all of February and two weeks in April, my choices are going to be limited. I may be back at the thrift shop again.

Later in the day I kept an appointment with the prosthodontist. I have a bridge that is attached to a tooth that is in bad shape. Two regular dentists have stood around wringing their hands so Kara suggested I try this route. This Saturday he will remove the bridge and on Tuesday an oral surgeon will remove the offending tooth. He doesn't feel I'm a good candidate for implants, and at $4000 each I'm relieved, so I will have to go back to a partial. I spent so many hours in the dentist chair and dollars getting that bridge that I may cry when it comes out. It was wonderful while it lasted.

It has been cool here, way below average, but that didn't stop us from enjoying a trip downtown with the Day Trekkers to visit the Sam Houston Heritage Museum. There were 22 ladies in all. We visited four of the homes: Kellum-Noble House, Nichols-Rice-Cherry House (of Rice University fame), San Felipe Cottage and the Statiti House where I took a few pictures.

I remember kitchens like this from when I was a little girl. We had this type of stove and there was no such thing as cabinets under the sink at that time. We even had the same black and white tile floor. I scrubbed it every Saturday on my hands and knees.

This original chandelier intrigued me. It is fashioned as a basket. The push button light switches are still used in this house.

Another thing we had in the house where I grew up was a sewing machine like this one. Instead of electricity, it was powered by pushing the treadle with your foot. No wonder I never learned to sew!

And of course I would never pass up an opportunity to take a picture of an antique bar of soap from Procter & Gamble where I worked from 1963-1981. Some full time, some part time depending on the babies coming.

Afterwards we had lunch in River Oaks and the food was fantastic. I had vegetable lasagna that was outstanding. Everyone raved about the food.

December 8 is a day we go to church in honor of the Virgin Mary so we started our day off at 9 o'clock Mass. The school children do all the readings and singing so it is very enjoyable to witness that. Right before noon I walked two doors down to Wanda's to our neighborhood Christmas party and luncheon. Fourteen of us gathered for our Stealing Gift Exchange and a great meal prepared by my wonderful neighbor. Everyone kept stealing my gift but I ended up with a cute ceramic Santa Claus that you can put a tea light in so I was happy.

I had to hurry home to get ready for the Junior Forum Holiday Party and dinner. I picked Peg up at 6:30 and we rode together. It's nice to see everyone in party clothes instead of the blue/white or blue/beige of our work uniforms. It was very festive, a great meal and a fun round of "The Twelve Days of Christmas." Our table was "six geese a laying" and we had to pop up and use our acting skills to lay eggs! We were voted funniest table.

Peg helped me load one half of the gifts brought by everyone into my car. One half went to Interfaith and my half went to Northwest Assistance Ministries this morning.

I met Kathryn at 8 o'clock and we delivered our toys and were back home by 9:30. We took time out to pose with the hula hoop for the newsletter.

She and I had a great conversation on giving, not just through the holidays but all year long.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Fun, More Fun, Then Rain

We reported for duty Friday morning to help Madame Boomer take all the stuff into the rally hall. Feeding over 100 people three times in two days takes lots and lots of "stuff"! I also took the opportunity to decorate my table and one for Patrice. She didn't get to come because 10 minutes before they were to leave, a tree fell on their trailer and truck parked in front of their house. Talk about bad timing. Another one of the group had their RV broken into while in storage so they rented a cabin for the weekend. Their TVs were ripped off the walls as well as cabinets. It makes me so mad to hear of such senseless destruction of others' things.

Afterwards, Stella, Susan and I went to Wal-Mart so they could get their gift exchange presents. I didn't do much when we got back except prepare my hot dogs, chili, buns and shredded cheese for the informal get together Friday night. It's a smaller crowd because some people are still arriving and need to get set up before it gets too dark.

A Boomer donated lots of little gifts and I won a desk vacuum called Henry. It will clean your keyboard and all the crevices on your electronics that you can't reach otherwise. I can't wait to try it out.

There was food galore but we put a pretty good dent in all of it. I was in charge of that clean-up committee but our people are so neat they don't leave much for us to do except put the chairs back in place at the tables.

There was a big breakfast Saturday morning and I sure wish I knew who made the apple french toast casserole. It was yummy. Sandy asked me to call the table numbers which I gladly did. When breakfast was over, the fellows held their annual Texas Hold Em tournament and Ted won. His name will now go on the trophy and we get to keep it until next year.

Rick and Brenda came over to visit with us and some other folks and everyone was glad to see them. They weren't staying for dinner so once they left I got ready for the BIG party. Here is Don, our sound man, dressed as the Grinch ... and then he met Santa! They had to distribute all these gifts.

Every table appointed a person to choose four presents and distribute them at their table. Then everyone chose a number. Madame Boomer called different directions to various tables, various numbers until Carla eventually stole my mini-chopper from me! Bah humbug!

We had quite a crowd, delightful dinner companions and a feast fit for a king.

When the party was over we went to Tommy & Susan's motorhome for some dessert before calling it a night. This morning we went to Mass at 8 o'clock. We came home and got buttoned up to leave. But before we did that, I donated a pint of blood at the Gulf Coast Bloodmobile that the Boomers had arranged to be at the campground in honor of Barb and Bev, both of whom died recently. When I was finished, we headed home in the rain.

One more great Christmas weekend with the Texas Boomers. Our schedule next year is such that we probably won't make more than two of their outings. But I know they will always welcome us when we can make it.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas is Just Around the Corner

Gerre & Barry came by Sunday evening to get Tucker and he was so glad to see them. All this moving around probably confused him to no end. Monday morning I was still looking for him out of habit. Gerre brought me a beautiful silver slide as a thank you present.

My jury duty was cancelled so I had the day to get some things done. I have half my Christmas cards ready and a few gifts wrapped. I also took down my Fall things on the porch and put out the Christmas ones. While I was in the attic I got down what I am going to use on the table I am decorating at the Boomers Christmas rally.

We had glass doors installed on the guest bathroom tub so we stayed close to home on Tuesday. The ceramic towel rack had to be removed and set in about an inch and a half so that necessitated the tile guy coming before the doors could be installed. While waiting, I made a cake and chicken salad sandwiches for a funeral on Wednesday. Later on Ted went shooting and I met Gerre for dinner then went to the funeral home for a prayer service for my friend Jean.

Most of the funerals I cook and serve for, I don't personally know the people. But this time it was a friend of mine from Senior Pals at church. She was one of the first people I met when we moved to Texas. Rose and I were able to slip out to receive Communion during Jean's funeral Mass but spent the rest of the time preparing the luncheon. Afterwards I had a nail appointment and completely forgot to go to Happy Hour.

Ted took our trailer to the campground Thursday morning while I attended the Continental Breakfast at 10 o'clock then moved on to the Thank You luncheon at church at 11:30. I was careful not to eat too much at either place. The first grade mothers fixed lunch for the "funeral ladies" as we are called. The children sang Christmas songs and we were each given a cardboard house filled with cookies made by all the first grade mothers. It was such a nice show of appreciation.

I stopped home, picked up the rest of my things and drove to the campground where several folks had already arrived. There are over 50 rigs coming in for the Texas Boomers Christmas Rally. After some visiting, about 40 of us went to the Mexican restaurant across the street for dinner. I only ordered two soft tacos because I felt like I had been eating all day.

Today we have to prepare the rally hall for the weekend festivities. The tables will be decorated by individuals so most of the work is bringing the food items into the kitchen. Tonight is a gathering with casual food and the start of a fun weekend. I'll take pictures and publish again after the weekend, otherwise these get too long.

Christmas is not a date. It is a state of mind. ~ Mary Ellen Chase