Christmas at home and in Tyler

We had a quiet Christmas Day at home and enjoyed a meal with Rich’s ex brother in law Bob and his girlfriend Amy. Bob was married to Rich’s sister Vesta years ago and they have two sons together. They have kept in touch because of the kids and, at some point, Vesta let us know that Bob was taking an interim CEO job at a small hospital near our house. How random is that? He’s been here for several months and we have managed to get together periodically. It’s been nice for Rich to have a friend here and someone to hang out with once in awhile.  Now Bob has taken a permanent job at a hospital in California so he will be leaving soon. We were invited to dinner at his apartment where he served homemade gumbo and Rich made creme brûlée for dessert. We had a nice time visiting and will miss him when he leaves! (Also some of my recent thoughts via meme and a pic of all our Christmas cards…I love hearing from people at the holidays).

On the 26th we drove over to Tyler to see Sarah, Miles and kids. We were really happy to see them again and they seemed equally pleased to see us. 🙂  We had a nice charcuterie platter for lunch, opened gifts, played games, and hung out till it was getting close to dark. I didn’t really want to be on the road out in the country with deer moving about. Did I mention my youngest daughter Susan hit a deer recently on her way to work? She is fine but messed up her car pretty badly. We got home around 6 PM and the drive wasn’t too bad, though there was lots of traffic the day after Christmas.

Cookie Decorating Party and Bad Santa

Sunday Bonnie and I left the kids with Grandpa while we went to shop for stocking stuffers.  Stockings were always my favorite thing to do for my girls when they were growing up and now that they have their own kids, they have continued the tradition of fun stocking stuff.  🙂  David was off doing a wedding all day, poor guy gets no peace!  We went to World Market and found a few things, then just as we were leaving, David called Bonnie to say he had forgotten some of his equipment and needed her to bring it to him in a bit. We rushed over to Target and got most of the rest of the stocking stuffers she wanted, came home, Bonnie laid out some clothes for the kids to wear to the cookie party and went to take David’s things to him.  I got my shower and then started getting the kids ready, Bonnie got back home with a few moments to spare, we finished up and headed for the party at Bonnie’s sister in law Leigh Anne’s mom’s house.  We arrived just a few minutes ahead of Santa’s appearance, so….perfect timing, right?!  Santa came in with his “ho ho hos” and had a seat in a big easy chair. The kids gathered round and he recited “The Night Before Christmas” from memory, then each of the little ones went up to sit on his lap and have pictures taken.  As they finished, they went into the kitchen to decorate the cookies we’d made; there were also some arts and crafts projects to do, and they enjoyed visiting with their friends while taking part in the activities. Santa came into the kitchen and sang Christmas carols with everyone, then offered to take pictures with any adults who were interested. Always game for something funny, Bonnie and I decided to pose with Santa. At first we were sitting on the big overstuffed arms of the chair but he said “Noooo” and patted his knees. Okay, this was awkward and we protested a little bit but he was insistent so we gave in and sat on his lap. Now it was really awkward! One of Bonnie’s friends took a few pictures and we were about to jump up when Santa said, “Let’s make it really fun…lean in and pretend you are whispering in my ear what you want for Christmas.” I think at this point we just wanted to get it over with so we both played along for a couple of seconds and then excused ourselves quickly. Made us think Santa was a bit of a perv and hopefully did not do anything inappropriate with the children! Until he marred the experience, we were super impressed with him–he’d gone all out on the costume, was very kind and interactive with the kids, etc. But hmmmm. Bonnie’s sister in law and her sister got roped into doing the same thing and all they could talk about was how creepy it was, too. Note to Santas for hire: don’t be weird.

Bonnie’s hand is on her own knee but at first glance the second picture looks a little inappropriate. Despite feeling creepy, we did have to laugh out loud when we saw it.

Luke had another soccer game right after the party so we cheered him on and he made three goals! Great job, Luke! We’d been invited to go caroling that night but by the time we got home, we were all tired and hungry and the weather had become much colder so we decided against it. Made dinner and got the kids into bed; David and his brother Jonathan came in from the wedding around 9:30 and we all sat and visited awhile. David was going to bring lunch for all his students the next day (he’s an awesome teacher!) and Bonnie and Rich had started some pork in a slow cooker earlier. David was grading papers and thinking out loud about what else he needed to do. He still needed rolls, and some ingredients to make cole slaw for pulled pork sandwiches so Bonnie and I took pity on him and went to the 24 hour grocery store around 11:45 PM. I don’t really know how these two can function on as little sleep as they get and then having to be in the classroom all day! We went to one store and got some of the items but they were buffing the floor and wouldn’t let us go to the produce section. What?! The only other place open was Walmart, which I boycott, but I relented since the situation was dire. 🙂  There we found the rest of the ingredients we needed and Bonnie decided she might as well finish shopping for stocking stuffers since she has no time during the work day. We finally got home around 1 AM! Now I am a night owl anyway so it was not that big a deal to me except we were getting up early to take the kids to school. Oops.  Bonnie and I headed off to bed while Rich and David made the cole slaw and finished everything else up. The next morning David was up again around 5.  I sure hope he gets some rest during Christmas break!! Rich and I helped with the kids at 7 AM, David took Ada, along with all his lunch food, and Bonnie left for her school. I drove Emery and Luke to their school and then Rich and I hit the road back to Dallas. Whew, a busy, busy trip but so much fun with everyone!

Early Christmas in Amarillo

Next stop, Amarillo! We arrived around 4:30 with Bonnie getting home from work. David was already home with the kids because Ada had been sick and he’d picked her up from school early. I headed to the bathroom immediately after hugs all around and for the first time ever, managed to drop my phone in the toilet.  I have always been super careful with my phone but I do put it in my back pocket and totally forgot it was there. I heard a plop and it was completely under water. Fished it out really fast, dried it off, and David went to get me some rice. I read all the protocol and put it in a baggie of rice, hopeful that it would be okay. Wrong! It came back on a couple of times but never worked properly again. UGH.

Anyhoooo, moving on from the phone fiasco, we had a really jam-packed visit but loads of fun. Friday Ada was still not feeling great so we kept her home with us while Bonnie and David both went to their teaching jobs and Emery and Luke went to school.  The kids wanted us to bring them lunch from Rosa’s so Rich stayed home with Ada and I went to get food and to eat with them at school. Of course they have different lunch hours so I went to see Emery first and then came home for a little bit. Rich made Ada a pizza and she was asleep on the couch when I got back. He said she would take a bite and go back to sleep. LOL Poor girl.  I had fun eating with the kids and Luke’s teacher said he’d been excited all day so that made me happy!  🙂

When Bonnie got home from work, we took the kids to get a new ornament for the tree. They all LOVE animals and invariably choose kinda garish, shiny ornaments each year. Bonnie and I were laughing at how funny they were but the kids were in heaven and who can say no?  After dinner we helped decorate their tree and they opened their presents from us. They were super sweet and seemed to like everything. 🙂

 

Early Christmas in Clyde

We’re making the rounds for Christmas and started in Clyde at Susan and Corey’s.  First up, Ally’s junior high choir concert! She did a great job and it looked like the kids were having lots of fun. The choir director seemed like a good guy who was enjoying himself along with the kids. I asked Ally afterwards if she liked him and if he had a fun class and she answered in the affirmative. Each of the choirs sang a lighthearted amusing song along with the typical holiday fare and the director danced along with the kids. The other good thing about a small school is that the programs are relatively short. haha

Susan and Corey managed to be off work while we were visiting, which is unusual! We all went to lunch with our friend Karen and it was great to catch up with her.

Between school and work, we didn’t see a lot of Aidan–that kid is busy and we are proud of him for having a job and being responsible! We did manage to exchange Christmas gifts one night after work. We love spending time with these sweet kids and having lots of good conversations.

We went out to eat, ran errands, hung out at the house, talked and laughed, and had lunch the last day with Susan and Corey at one of my favorite places, Hickory Street Cafe.  Then we had to say our goodbyes as we headed down the road to Amarillo.

Christmas Time

Here’s a little round-up of the holidays.

Rich’s sister Vesta had a long layover at DFW on her way to a friend’s in Georgia. We picked her up, took her to lunch, and visited for several hours before having to return her to the airport.  It was a nice surprise to get to see her!

Volunteer party, looking at Christmas lights, playing in a huge box is better than anything, hot chocolate always hits the spot!

Visit from my friend Susan, gifts and cards from near and far, holiday toys donated to refugee families, Christmas Eve and Day with Sarah and Miles, along with Miles’ family. It was a lovely season and we are appreciative of the many people who bring so much to our lives. Thank you to all and let’s hope for peace, love, and justice in the new year.

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Merry Christmas, a Little Late

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We had a quiet Christmas with all of the kids and grandkids occupied elsewhere.  Chatted with everyone on the phone and had a relaxing day at home, just the two of us.  The day after Christmas, we met Susan halfway and brought Aidan and Ally back to Dallas with us for the rest of the week.  They are always easy and lots of fun!

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Our week was full. We decided to go to The Galleria and try ice skating one day but that was a bust.  When we arrived, the zamboni was out on the ice and a hundred people were standing around on their skates waiting to get back on the rink.  A look around revealed that there were probably another hundred people in line waiting to pay and get their skates.  We watched for awhile and eventually those who were already skating got back out on the ice.  It was packed.  Rich and Aidan immediately decided they were not going to get into that herd of skaters.  Ally was still interested so she and I got in the long line while the guys went to wander the mall.  We waited 15-20 minutes while barely moving forward and Ally finally said she changed her mind and didn’t want to skate after all. I felt bad for her but it was probably a good decision considering the crowd. I called Rich and he didn’t answer, texted him and didn’t hear back. We had no idea where they’d gone so we went up one level to Starbucks. While I was waiting for my tea, Ally spied them looking down on the skating rink trying to find us.  🙂  I told her to run out there and tell them where we were while I continued to wait.  Then she saw the Build a Bear Workshop next door to Starbucks and wanted to look around–she had never seen the store before.  She had some Christmas money with her and was very enthusiastic about getting a stuffed animal so we did the whole process and she had a ball. She was so excited to get a cute little reindeer with a “beating heart” and a winter cape.  We met back up with the guys, did a little more shopping, and braved the traffic back home.

 

 

We watched the original “Jumanji” on TV one night and then went to see the new version at the theater the next day.  It was more entertaining and funny than I expected it to be and we all enjoyed it.  We stopped by to see their great-great Aunt Frankye and had a nice visit.  We went out to dinner one night, played a lot of games at home, did some English and math on Kahn Academy, read stories, and chatted about life.

Friday their cousins were finally home from their trip to Colorado so they were all excited to get together. Bonus–Sarah and Miles had stopped in Amarillo on the way home and brought Emery with them. The three girls are the best of friends (most of the time) and really, all eight grands get along great. Aidan is getting a little too old to play with the young ones but he is still awfully sweet to them and tolerates a lot of their attention since they all adore him. We went over to Sarah’s around lunch time and they immediately began playing.  Aidan and I left to run some errands and then came back to our house where Rich was working on dinner. Susan and Corey arrived early evening, then Sarah and Miles and kids came over to join the rest of us for dinner.  I was thrilled to have so many of them here at the same time, wishing Bonnie and David were present too.  Many funny stories were told during dinner and then we played a game called Song Pop Party, which was pretty cutthroat as we are all quite proud of our musical knowledge!  Such a good night with the kids and grandkids!

 

 

Today Frankye came by the house to see Susan and Corey, then we went to Sarah and Miles’ house for brunch, more chatting and more Song Pop Party!  Later in the afternoon Susan and Corey and kids loaded up and set out for home.  Sure will miss them!

 

 

That was Phase One of Late Christmas.  We have tomorrow free, then Bonnie, David and kids will arrive for New Year’s.  I hope all of you who celebrate Christmas have had a lovely season, and that everyone has a fabulous 2018.  Here’s to more peace, love, and understanding.

Charlie Brown Christmas

Sarah and I took the kids to a local production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” this evening.  It was super cute and the kids loved it.  At the end of the show, the cast led the audience in singing Christmas carols as well as “Happy Birthday” to any kids with November and December birthdays. Beck’s birthday was in November so he stood up with the rest of the honorees and beamed while everyone sang.  He swears that “Charlie Brown” looked right at him and pointed at him during the song.  Too cute. Afterwards we got to meet the cast and the kids got the actors’ autographs.  Jack took his program and walked right up to each and every character.  Adorable! It was great to see the kids enjoying themselves so much and a great time was had by all–I think Sarah and I laughed more than the grandkids during the show!

 

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like…

IMG_9370 (1)I am always a last minute Christmas person.  I can remember back in the day when we didn’t even put up our tree till Christmas Eve–that was the tradition–and then we left it up till New Year’s Day.  Now it seems that people are putting up decorations after Halloween!  Not to sound like an old fogey, but I can’t see the point in starting THAT early!

Since we don’t have kids at home, we don’t go all out on decorations any more. In fact, I sold/gave a lot of stuff away when we left Alaska.  But I finally put a few things up on our mantel and hung the wreath my friend Tammy made me a few years ago.  Today I actually got out and did some shopping, and I’ve mailed most of my cards. So I suppose I am getting closer to being ready!

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Sarah invited me to go with her to a gathering of a group called Seek the Peace the other night.  The organization works with refugees and has a weekly meeting with young girls to work on self worth and decision making and empowerment.  One of the struggles of refugee children is that they often do not feel that they fit in and are sometimes targeted for bullying and ostracism.  Unfortunately, the graduation rate for refugee kids in Dallas is very low (33%).  Through Project Shine, it is hoped that young women will feel supported in their efforts in many areas of life, including finishing their education. Seek the Peace does lots more (read about it here) but we joined in a holiday party hosted by Project Shine.  We took Elle with us and all of us enjoyed interacting with the “Shine Girls” who were mostly from Malaysia and The Congo; we had snacks, made wreaths, and took photos together.  Elle made some sweet new friends and it was great to see her talking and laughing with girls from differing backgrounds and customs.  She has a tender heart like her mom and grandmother.  🙂

I picked the grands up from school yesterday and we hung out for awhile so Sarah could get some errands done.  We had a lot of fun as always.  Love having these kids nearby!

Susan and Corey’s kids will be here on the 26th for a week and we are looking forward to that. Everyone’s schedule is off this year so we won’t have all the kids and grandkids at the same time. Bonnie and David won’t be here till the 1st of the year.  But I am counting my blessings that we are not so far away any more and we will get to see everyone at some point!

Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas!