Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!!

Just a quick post to let everybody know that all is well here in Michigan! We're finally getting a little bit of snow, and the boys are happy! They were able to build snow forts in the back yard this morning, and Tom actually had to plow the driveway!

We've enjoyed several days of sleeping in, watching movies and playing games . . . just relaxing in general! The boys have also been watching Ebay for the Ipod touches that they want to buy. Bryce won one last night, and Nicolas is still watching several.

Last night we enjoyed a pre-New Years Eve dinner at a nice restaurant with Tom's parents. We had a gift certificate that was going to expire today, so we beat the crowds and had our dinner on the 30th. Nicolas and I shared prime rib, and Tom had a prime rib sandwich -- all were yummy! Expensive, but good, and a nice atmosphere.

This afternoon, the boys are running their radio control cars at a local hobby shop that has an indoor RC track. They have racing on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons, but the boys have to work on their control some more before they enter any races. When they get home we'll get cleaned up for Mass, and then head over to Tom's brother's house for another Christmas/New Year celebration. This brother and sister-in-law were in Chicago for Christmas, so we're having our celebration with them tonight. Tomorrow we have several families coming over for a party here, and then on Sunday my family will be coming up to celebrate my Mom's birthday.

It'll be a busy end to this relaxing holiday break!!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas from rainy Michigan!

Whew! It's been busy around here lately! So much to do -- shopping, baking, wrapping . . . all to get ready for a couple of days of entertaining! It's exhausting! When I have time to sneak a few minutes to read Howard's journal, it makes me envious to read about the slow pace of their days, and the total lack of stress -- even going into the holidays! I cannot wait until that is our life, too!

But, it's not yet, so we make the best of what we have. We have had some great visits with friends and family. We started out with a gathering of some of my college friends and their families last weekend -- we get together each year for a Christmas dinner, and this year Tom and I were the hosts. Our annual tradition includes a picture of all the kids gathered on the couch -- it's fun to look back at how our families have all grown over the years!

Earlier this week, Tom finally found a car that would suit our needs. It's a 2003 Taurus, just under 70K miles, and clean -- not a bad deal, and a huge relief to finally have another vehicle! No pictures yet, but I'll have to remember to get one this week. We had just a little bit of snow, but it was enough for the boys to spend hours out in the yard with Nicolas pulling Bryce around with his 3-wheeler. Now they'll have to wait for a new batch, since the warm temperatures and rain wiped out any snow we had on the ground!

Finally, Christmas Eve arrived, which is my family's day to celebrate. We all gathered at my Mom & Dad's house . . . lots of presents, TONS of food, and some entertainment by my niece's 2-year-old twins!

We got back home around 1am (thankfully the rain held off, and we had a dry drive home!!), and quickly got everyone to bed! Nicolas and Bryce were still up bright and early, and ready to open gifts . . . Casey enjoyed her presents, too!

We had just finished with gifts and were thinking about what to make for breakfast, when suddenly our power went out! We waited a little while to see if it came back on, then a call to the power company told us that it might be later in the afternoon before it came back on. We decided to just get dressed and head out to IHOP for breakfast -- turns out it was a good choice, because it was the only place open! After a delicious breakfast, we joined Tom's family at his brother's house from more gifts and, of course, more food!! Our nephew got "Rockem, Sockem, Robots", and he and Bryce had fun with it.

Now we're back home, and settled in for the evening . . . and watching the news about the attempted terrorism on a plane coming into Detroit . . . so glad that plan was crushed!

Merry Christmas to all of our blogging friends, and safe travels to everyone on the road!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It's been crazy here . . .

Where did the time go?? It seemed like we were just getting things ready for Thanksgiving, and now it's almost time for Christmas!! The boys have had non-stop basketball games . . . the tournaments are this weekend, and then that will be over for the year. Tom's car died (blown engine) last week, so now we're frantically looking for a replacement and making due with the truck for now. Of course, the weather had to turn nasty just as we took the truck out of its nice warm, dry garage! Oh well, what can you do?!!

Our contract with our Realtor ended on Dec 1st, and we opted not to renew with him for now. I'm working on a 2nd blog -- showcasing the house -- which we'll link to from a Craigslist ad. We'll try the self-marketing thing for awhile, and see how that goes. Of course, as soon as our house was dropped from the multi-list, we were inundated with calls from realtors wanting to list it for us!

Speaking of that other blog, that's what I'm supposed to be working on right now, but I just wanted to stop in here and post an update -- just so everybody knows we didn't fall off the face of the Earth!

I'll leave you with a picture of our Christmas tree!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Christmas Lights

We had another great weekend around here, with temps in the 60s and plenty of sun!  We took advantage of this great weather, and got out our outdoor Christmas lights.

As usual, only about half of the lights would work! LOL!  We're not interested in buying anymore . . . so we just made due with what worked.  I think it turned out OK.

Tom also worked on one of our landscape lights that suddenly went out last week

and had a little help from Casey!!


Monday, November 9, 2009

Ahhhh . . . Indian summer


What a beautiful sunrise I was greeted with as I came down the stairs this morning!  We've had great weather the last few days!  High 60s and sunny . . . can't beat that for early November!  It's supposed to cool down a bit this week though, in the low 50s, but then we might get a repeat next weekend!!  If only it didn't get dark at 5:30 . . .

It was another busy week of things that didn't seem important enough to blog about each day.  The boys started the week off with basketball games on Monday and Tuesday.  Both teams lost their games on Monday, but rallied nicely on Tuesday.  Bryce's team was playing last year's league winners, and they gave them a run for their money.  Bryce even scored a few points -- here he is on the free throw line!

He made the shot!  They had been behind by quite a bit, and in that period, regained quite a few points.  It was really exciting -- every boy from Bryce's team who was in for that period scored at least once!  They didn't win the game, but it was very close -- they played really well.  His coach's biggest challenge is getting everybody in the game -- they have 22 players on their team! 

Nicolas' team did really well, also -- they won their game on Tuesday.  I don't have any pictures this week, because I was running the scoreboard . . . and I'm not good enough to do that AND take pictures!  Nicolas is playing really well this year.  His biggest challenge has always been to be aggressive enough . . . to really get into the action.  Not a problem this year . . . he's been quite the rebound king!  We've seen a huge boost in his confidence!

They both have games tomorrow, and then Nicolas has another game on Thursday.  He has more games than Bryce because not every school in the league has a JV (5th/6th grade) team.

I did a little bit of sewing last week, and finished my fall wall hanging.

I just love how it turned out!!  I dropped it off to the quilting lady on Friday -- along with the last 2 quilts I had finished.  I should have them all back in about a month.

This weekend, we took advantage of the nice weather and did some outside cleaning.  We spent most of Saturday cleaning the RV, and on Sunday Nicolas gave Casey a bath and we cleaned our gas grill.  While cooking some sausage for breakfast, it wasn't working quite right, so Tom took a look underneath.  Turns out that the venturi tubes had rusted through, and were no longer directing propane to the burner -- that's a problem!  We took it all apart, cleaned it up, and found some replacement venturi tubes online.  Hopefully we'll get it back together and be back in grilling business in a week or so.  We do grill all winter -- as long as there's not a foot of snow on top of the grill, we use it!

On Saturday night, my sister and brother-in-law had their annual fall bonfire.  It's always in early November, and it's usually freezing, so this weekend was a pleasant change!  It was perfect sweatshirt weather, and if you were close enough to the fire, you didn't even need that!  We had a really nice time -- most of my family was there, including one of our cousins, and several friends of the familiy . . . LOTS of good food! 

That brings me back to today . . . the weather is still nice, and I'm enjoying having the doors while I work.  Speaking of work, I'd better get back to it -- lunchtime is over!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A beautiful fall day

Last night we went to a Halloween party with several other families from the boys' school.  We had a really nice time -- lots of good food, conversation and drinks!  We started out with some appetizers while the boys got into their costumes . . .

I made Halloween cookies -- pumpkins and leaves . . .

and gingerbread mummies.

Nicolas and two of his friends dressed as bikers

Bryce was Zorro, and one of his friends was a biker, and another was a Star Wars guy.

I have to show you these close-ups of Nicolas . . . he looked so realistic, not to mention MUCH older than 13!!!

Check out these flames on the side of his bandanna -- he HAD to have them, and it took me two hours the other night to embroider them!

Even a couple of the Moms got into the act!

Once they were all ready, we headed out to go trick-or-treating.  Here's the whole group -- all boys!

It was a pretty quiet night for Halloween.  We didn't see many other kids out, and had to skip quite a few houses that did not have lights on.  It was a chilly night (mid-40s), but it didn't rain.  We stayed out for a little over an hour, and then the boys were all ready to go back to the party.  Once back at the party, our host family had created a "Haunted Trail" in their backyard -- complete with skeletons, iguanas, crocodiles, chain saws . . . and shots of Crown Royal for those that completed the trail (adults only, of course!!).

Back inside we feasted on ribs, chicken wings, shrimp, couscous, crackers, cookies . . . an endless buffet, it seemed!  We had a really nice night -- all the parents gathering in the kitchen, and the kids hanging out in the basement and outside.  The party broke up around 1am (but became midnight once we moved our clocks back for the end of daylight savings!), and we went home and to bed.

Today we went to my parents' house for dinner.  Mom had some leaves to burn, so Tom and I and the boys gave her a hand.

Here's Nicolas and Bryce with Grandma.

It was a really nice weekend, and now we're settled in for the evening.  Have a good week!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Today the boys have their All Saints Festival at school.  All the kids dress as saints, and in the afternoon they have games set up in the gym, and they get to win bottles of pop, angel food cakes, and lots of candy! 

Here are my saints . . . .

Saint Dominic on the right, and St. Francis Xavier on the left.

Since Nicolas is in 8th grade now, his class doesn't play the games anymore, but they work the games with the parents (and the moms manage to save some candy for them!).  I'll be heading over there in a couple of hours, so I'll try to get some pictures for a later post.

It's been a busy week around here.  Nicolas has had basketball practice every day after school, and Bryce had practice twice.  Their first game is on Monday, so they need to get up to speed! 

I went out to dinner on Wednesday, with three of my girlfriends from college.  We had a nice evening -- we toured our one friends new home, and had a relaxing dinner at a local diner.  Here we are at dinner.

We don't get together quite as often as we'd like, so the evening is always full of "catching up" with what everybody, and their spouses and kids, are doing.  We always manage to stay out later than we plan, too!!  We also planned our annual Christmas Dinner Party, which has been a long-standing tradition.  This year it is at my house . . . it wasn't really my turn, but since we're hoping that this will be our last Christmas in the house . . .

OK, well I have to keep this blog short so I can get some work done before I head over to school for the festivities.  Have a Happy Halloween and All Saints Day!!

P.S. I'm experimenting with fonts . . . what do you think??

Monday, October 26, 2009

A perfect day for a road trip!

We woke this morning to a partly sunny sky and temperatures in the mid-40s, promising no rain and temperatures that were expected to rise into the 60s.  Looked like a good day for a road trip, so after dropping the boys off to school . . . we headed to Elkhart, IN to pick up our camper from Duncan RV -- hopefully the last time for awhile!!

Traffic was light and the weather was great, and we had an uneventful trip south.  In Angola, IN, we made a quick stop for diesel (what's up with fuel prices??  they are going through the roof all of a sudden!) and breakfast sandwiches, and then we continued west on St. Rt. 20.  We were making really good time, so we decided we could afford a quick stop at the bulk store in Shipshewana.  After stocking up on oatmeal, dried fruit, and spices, we continued on to Elkhart, arriving at Duncan at 11:30.  Although they knew we were coming, the Technician who worked on our RV had gone home early, so another technician had to review our repairs with us.  Newmar had finally agreed to add a 2nd landing gear motor, so now we have 2 separate motors with separate controls.  The major work was complete, but the old button location was left wide open under the old access door, and they forgot to weld a nut onto the new motor to allow it to be manually operating with a socket, which was something they had told us they would do.  The technician we met with today took care of those things, but it meant we had to wait around for a couple of hours, and didn't get back on the road as quickly as we had hoped.

Here we are waiting, as Marcos is welding a nut onto the new landing gear leg . . . so that we have a manual way to raise and lower it in case the motor fails.

Everything worked out though, and the new jack motor works fine -- although it seems to move faster than the old motor . . . not sure why . . . so I just have to be really careful not to get the RV off-level from side to side.  We made it home with just enough time to get the camper parked in the barn before we had to pick the boys up from basketball practice.  After a quick dinner at Wendy's, it was back home for showers and studying for tomorrow's science tests. 

The next 6 weeks will be pretty busy with basketball -- they have practice or a game pretty much every day starting next week.  Luckily for us, Duncan winterized our RV -- it had been sitting outside the last few weeks, and we were getting some pretty cold nighttime temperatures.  So, that's one less thing for us to do . . . we just need to clean it up, but that can be done while it sits in the barn.

OK, back to work tomorrow, so I had better get to bed . . . .

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Quilting Road Trip

On Saturday, I went with 3 of my sisters on quilter's road trip to 7 quilt shops in Ohio.  It was a bus trip sponsored by one of the shops, and we traveled all over northwestern Ohio. This was almost the scene I saw when arriving at the departure point.

The bus left Toledo at 7:30 am, and I arrived there just in time -- the last person to get on the bus!!  I was hearing about our "late start" ALL DAY!  We arrived at our first shop just a few minutes late, and began our day of shopping.  This shop is in the middle of an old-time country village [Sauder Village, in Archbold, OH], and it's really cute.  I'd love to come back sometime and check out all the other little shops.  The must have been having a firetruck show, because we saw this in the parking lot.

As we traveled around the Ohio countryside, we saw lots of beautiful fall colors.  It was a gorgeous day!  Here are my sisters -- Diane, Deby and Tina -- in front of the entrance to Sauder Village.

The bus was full -- 56 women, and Marion, our bus driver

He was quite a character!  He was full of jokes and funny stories, and the ride was quite an adventure, to say the least!!  At one point, Laura (his 900# GPS voice) directed him to make a wrong turn, and he was trying to get turned around on this 10-ft. wide country lane -- not happening!  After much screaming and unsolicited advice from the ladies on the bus, he decided the best route was to just continue forward and find a cross road that would get us back to the main road.  This was the view out the windshield!

Much to everyone's relief, we did find our way back to the main road, and were on to the next quilt shop.  This next stop was a favorite of many on the bus, including my sisters and I.

Doesn't look like much on the outside, but inside they have bolts of fabric stacked to the ceiling!  We were only supposed to have 45 minutes per shop (for 56 women - yeah, right!), but at this stop they stretched it to an hour!  We finished our shopping, and then headed back out to the bus to pick up our box lunches.  Diane and Tina are ready to hit the road!

Everyone had their choice of ham or turkey on a croissant, chips and an apple or banana.  We enjoyed our lunches on the uneventful trip to the next quilt shop.  This next shop was really nice, but woefully unprepared for a busload of shoppers -- even though they knew we were coming!  They only had one cash register, and with at least three-quarters of us in line with purchases, it was a SLOW process.  At all of the other shops, they had a person with a cash box and a calculator who could handle the cash purchases, but that apparently didn't occur to these guys -- they had one person running the register, and two other employees standing there with nothing to do!  We finally got out of there, and had time for a couple of pictures while the others were still in line!

This stop put us about an hour behind on our schedule, which only got worse when "Laura" gave us  some more bad directions!  Kindof re-thinking the whole GPS purchase . . . LOL!  When they planned out this trip, they did not factor in any room for errors (which we had plenty of), and apparently planned on faster speeds than Marion was accustomed to driving! LOL!  After the next stop we pretty much threw our schedule out the window -- we were ready to go, the last two shops were ones we'd never been to!

Luckily, the people at those last two shops were willing to wait around for us -- since we were arriving after their closing times!  They were really nice shops, but took us almost to Cleveland!  We finished up around 8pm, and settled in for the long drive back to Toledo, arriving back to our cars at 9:45pm!  The original plan had us getting back at 7pm . . . so much for that!  We didn't mind, though, we had a great time and made some great purchases!

Project #1 -- a fall wall hanging

Project #2 -- a Christmas wall hanging

Project #3 -- the background fabric for the "I Spy" squares that will be in my mailbox soon

Project #4 -- a table runner for the RV

And a couple of things that I just liked, no particular plan for them yet!

That's it -- I spent the least of the 4 of us, but I am still very happy with my purchases, and have my work cut out for me for awhile!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Another quilt project done!

The colder the weather gets, and the more I read other quilting blogs, the more I want to sew.  Just tonight, I finally finished this little quilt that I started last spring!


Once I have it quilted, it's going to hang on the wall in our lower level family room -- we still need to do some decorating down there!

Tomorrow, I'm off on a Quilt Shop Road Trip with 3 of my sisters.  I'm actually getting up at the crack of dawn to get to Toledo by 7:15am to catch a bus.  Then it's the 4 of us and about 50 other women heading off to 7 different quilt shops around northeast Ohio . . . over 12 hours!  At least we don't have to drive!! LOL  It's going to be a fun day!  We're all looking forward to it!  I'll let you know how it goes . . .

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Apple time!!

It's certainly been fall-like (actually more winter-like!!) around here this last week!  The weekend was decent (mid-50s, but sunny), and we managed to get some outside work done.  The asphalt around our mailboxes (on the right-of-way to the county road) was breaking up pretty badly, so Tom and the boys cut it out and we bought some cold patch and filled it back in.  It turned out pretty good, for a couple of amateur road-repairmen.  In the next week or so, we have a guy coming over to fill some cracks in the road, and he said that he would go around the area that we patched as well.  That should seal the edges nicely.

Other than the road repair work, and the usual laundry, we didn't do too much.  Today the boys had a half day off school, so we decided to brave the 45 degree day and go pick apples.  The three of us go every year -- we pick a bushel of apples (golden delicious are our favorite, but we also picked some northern spy to make pies), and then get a dozen donuts and a gallon of cider -- YUM!  This year, since it was so cold, we opted for hot cider to warm us up!

Here's Bryce, waiting for the tractor driver to come back and take us into the orchard. 

Nicolas, too . . .

Both of the apple varieties we were looking for were at the same tractor stop, so we quickly filled our bags.  We all had an apple snack -- there's nothing better than an apple picked right off the tree!  YUM! 

Here comes the next tractor! 

Better get back here, Bryce!

Now that Nicolas has braces, he has to cut up his apples.  So, he brought along a pocket knife so that he could have an apple snack, too. 

This was record time for apple picking this year!  Less than 40 minutes and we were back out of the orchard!  I'm not exactly sure how I did this back when these guys were both toddlers and I had to carry two 1/2 bushel bags of apples, and keep track of the boys!!

Well, that was our excitement for the day.  After taking the apples to the car, we got our donuts and hot cider, and then headed home.  I had put together a crockpot of chicken noodle soup before we went to the orchard, so all I had to do when we got home was to add the noodles and meatballs.  It was a great dinner for a chilly day!!