Memorial Day Weekend

Susan and Corey brought the kids to us and visited for a bit before going to a concert and heading home the next morning.  We’d been telling Corey about Big Tony’s West Philly Cheesesteaks so we had to have lunch there and everyone gave it a big thumb’s up.  Pretty darned close to the food we love from Philly and South Jersey!  The kids got right in the pool and we took a walk after dinner.

Susan and Corey left the next morning and we took the kids with us to run some errands at a couple of garden stores and grocery stores.  Grabbed some lunch at the cute little cafe at one of the garden stores, where Aidan ordered a grilled cheese sandwich that was much more “gourmet” than he usually eats, with several kinds of cheese and some fig jam on it.  He was a good sport and did his best and Grandpa finished the rest! That night we went over to Sarah’s and babysat all the kids while she and Miles went to a concert.  Elle had a soccer game and Ally could not wait for her to get home! She finally arrived late and they were happy to have a cousin sleepover.

The next day we were invited to the Dallas Athletic Club with Sarah and Miles for Memorial Day festivities. The kids enjoyed swimming, getting fake tattoos, eating cotton candy and snow cones, and having a big ole time together.  It was hot but fun for all!

 

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Easter

My son in law Miles’ parents invited us to join them for Easter brunch at the club in their housing development in Cleburne. We had a lovely time with them, Miles’ grandmother, Miles’ brother and sister in law and their two kids, plus Sarah, Miles and our three grandkids.  Rich talked with the chef briefly and told him he was happy to be on the other side of the buffet line after many years of doing the same thing! Brunch was good and we stopped to take some of the requisite “posing in the bluebonnets” photos that are iconic in Texas this time of year.  We went back to the in-laws’ home for a couple of hours to visit and then came back to Dallas. All in all, a nice relaxing day!

Happy New Year!

Our busy days continue! Bonnie, David and kids arrived on New Year’s Day.  We were already at Sarah’s when they drove in and we all shared a nice New Year’s dinner along with Miles’ brother’s family and some friends of Miles and Sarah.  Rich made black eyed peas for good luck; well, technically he made peas and rice, known as Hoppin’ John in the south.  Not exactly what my Texan daughters are used to, but everyone gave them an A+ anyway.

David stayed till Wednesday, then flew home while Bonnie and the kids stayed on till Friday.  We had a great time and squeezed in as much fun as possible: late Christmas presents, games, drawing, playing, reading, talking, went with Sarah and her kids to see “Coco” and pizza afterwards, great meals by Rich, lots of laughs and conversation.  It’s been really good to have all the kids and grandkids around through the holidays and I feel completely blessed that this family is mine.  Love them so!

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.

All the good stuff

My ex has two aunts who live in Dallas and I was always pretty close to them during all the years we were married.  When we divorced, the battle lines were, unfortunately, drawn and some of his family, whom I had known for 30 years, did not want to have anything to do with me any more.  It was sad, especially,  to lose nieces and nephews I’d watched grow up. Nevertheless, there are several family members who have stayed in touch and maintained relationships with me (even becoming friendly with Rich after we got together).  These aunts are in the latter category and we always have a lot of fun when we have a chance to meet.  Last month, Sarah and I went to lunch with them and we decided we’d set a date each month so it didn’t fall by the wayside.  A few days ago, I was to pick up one aunt and thought about texting before I left my house but I figured she would be ready. Imagine our surprise when I knocked on the door and she answered in her robe!  We both had a good laugh and she quickly got dressed so we could go.  We met up with the other aunt (they are sisters in law, were married to brothers who are now deceased) and had a great time at lunch, talking and laughing and catching up.  One of them just turned 80 and the other is 90! Love these ladies!

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Beck’s 7th birthday was on Thanksgiving and they were out of town, as were we.  Since then it’s been one thing after another and we finally managed to have a little birthday outing with him a few days ago.  We’d asked him if there was something he wanted to do, somewhere he wanted to go, or if he just wanted to pick out a gift and have a snack.  He chose to go to Toys R Us and then to stop for a treat.  Easy, right??  Well, not so much!  Note to self: Toys R Us is too big and overwhelming and overstimulating for a kid to make a choice if he doesn’t have something in mind already.  Beck loves Legos but has a million of them and Sarah said he did not need any more since he has still not finished putting together a large set he got for his birthday. I knew he really wanted to look at the Legos but he walked on by and started perusing the other shelves.  Oh, my goodness, we walked up and down every aisle once, twice, three times, four.  The only thing he *really* wanted was a $150 R2D2 robot.  We told him we were sorry but that was too much money.  He was sweet about it but we could tell he really wanted it. We encouraged him to look for smaller, similar items but that was not cutting it.  So we wandered some more. I even told him he could get Legos if that’s what he truly wanted, so what if his mom said no! LOL We suggested some educational things like science experiments or a microscope or art projects but he was not interested.  He finally picked a couple of little packages of Star Wars characters and I told him since they were small, he could get something else.  This led to more wandering around the store. At one point, he did say, “We could be on our way home if I got that robot.” Funny boy!  Eventually we found ourselves in the nerf gun section.  I don’t like toy weapons and will usually not buy them for any of the kids but by then I was worn down and when Rich spied a four-pack of little guns, Beck was excited that he could have some friends over and divide up into teams and shoot at each other. So I said okay and off we went.  Thankfully he was pleased with his choices by the end; we were afraid he would just settle for something, anything, and be disappointed soon after.  But he was sweet and thankful and happy–he really is such a good kid.  Rich said next time we will just buy any of the grands a gift of our choosing and present it to him or her instead of torturing them with so many choices and decisions.  Lesson learned!  We asked Beck if he wanted to go somewhere and get a snack so he suggested his favorite place, 7-11, to get a slushie and a treat.  🙂  We love this kid!

Tuesday was my last day of volunteer work till after the new year. We had a little party and Rich was nice enough to make homemade tomato soup and croutons to go in it.  The weather was terrible, pouring down rain–just what I needed on a day when I was hauling a bunch of stuff!  We had a nice time, the soup was a big hit, and we all brought home little gifts from each other.  I love these ladies, too!

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Now we are on Day Two of what I am calling our Six Days of Quietude.  Sarah, Miles and kids have gone to Colorado for Christmas and we will not have Susan’s kids till the 26th.  We do not often have so many days by ourselves and we don’t really hang out with anyone in Dallas other than family. So far we’ve done housework and laundry, had a flat tire on the car, got the tire repaired, did some shopping and gift wrapping, watched some TV, read, went out to eat, and today I made another big haul at the thrift store–score!

25497961_10210683076569494_4292776563060692455_n13 books, 13 toy vehicles, 3 little journals, a word-find book, a jump rope, 3 whiffle balls, plus a holiday “peace” decoration for me.  $21 minus a $10 credit I had earned, minus a special holiday scratch-off for $5 more.  So, in essence, all of that for 6 bucks!  I am proud!  The kids’ room is getting pretty well stocked so it might be time for me to quit!

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!