Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Tom and the boys and I are spending a quiet evening at home for New Years Eve – OK, maybe not so quiet with all the ping pong going on – but anyway, it’s just the 4 of us tonight.

We cleaned out closets yesterday, so this morning Tom and I made one last run to Kiwanis to drop off a bunch of clothes and blankets and toys.  After that, a stop at Dunham’s to exchange some gifts that Nicolas got for Christmas and a quick trip to Kroger for the makings for homemade pizza for dinner.


While the boys enjoyed a “Jaws” marathon (I, II and III!), I did a little sewing and then got the pizzas started.  Everybody got their own personal pizza . . .


. . . and YUM, they were good!


After dinner and some ping pong, we settled in to watch “Inglorious Basterds” . . . it was definitely an interesting movie – you had to pay attention, reading subtitles much of the time – but REALLY graphic . . . wow!  Now we’re watching the New Years Eve Shows from New York City (switching back & forth between NBC and ABC), and waiting for the ball to drop.

We wish all of our friends, family and fellow bloggers a safe, happy and healthy 2012!!

Happy New Year


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Celebrations

Merry Christmas to all of our blogging friends!


December was pretty busy with shopping and wrapping and baking . . . followed by all the celebrations . . . and now we’re finally settling down and getting a little rest!

Christmas Eve started with a morning baptism for my niece's baby, Jaxon.




After some coffee and cookies at my sister’s house, Tom & the boys and I rested up for awhile at my Mom’s house and got some things ready for dinner.  After mass, everyone gathered at Mom’s for dinner and presents.

Bryce got to know his new baby cousin,


and Tom got in his “baby fix”!


He’s a little sweetie, and he adapted to all the new people holding him pretty well! 

My sisters and I made a quilt for my Mom, and she was surprised . . . even though she was with us when we bought most of the fabric – and even helped pick some of it out!


Christmas morning at our house was pretty relaxed – now that the boys are older, we’re not having to get up so early in the morning!

They still love to open presents, though!



Nicolas has been asking for a belgian waffle maker (the rotating kind that many of the motels have in their continental breakfast area) for 2 years now – and he finally got one from his Aunt Diane & Uncle Danny.  He was SO happy . . . and we had belgian waffles for Christmas breakfast!


Later that afternoon, we joined the rest of Tom’s family at his brother & sister-in-law’s house for more presents, and a delicious prime rib dinner.


our hosts – Dave & Denise


the cousins waiting for presents

We enjoyed all of the Christmas festivities, and now we’re looking ahead to the new year . . . hoping it brings some changes for us!  We’ve got the house off the market for now, but will put it back on in the spring, unless something happens in the meantime . . . we’ve got a couple of potential prospects that we’re keeping an eye on!

We’re still working on thinning out the “stuff”, but for a few months we’re adding a ping pong table to the lower level – it gives the kids something else to do besides the XBox!


Hard to believe it’s been sitting in Tom’s parents’ basement, unused, for 20 years or more!



The boys are having lots of fun with it – all 3 of them!


That’s all we’ve got going on right now – hopefully 2012 will be the year that we join all our RVing friends on the road!  Happy New Year!

Monday, December 5, 2011

The search for the perfect Christmas Tree

This past weekend was our traditional weekend to find our perfect Christmas tree.  For years, we’ve been going to the same Christmas tree farm where we would pay $25 and could cut down any size tree – and we’ve come home with some huge ones – some years we would have to cut another foot or two off the tree just to be able to stand it up in our living room!  A few years ago, their supply of frasier firs dwindled and we had to switch to douglas firs – also a very nice tree, and with the added benefit of being not quite as heavy.  Last year, this wonderful family-run tree farm closed up because they didn’t have enough trees for people to cut, and the new trees they’ve planted will need several years before they are ready.

Last year, we found a new farm and for just a few more dollars, we had a beautiful, tall douglas fir for Christmas.  They were unsure if they would be open again this season, so last week I called and found out that they were closed.  Disappointed, we searched again for a new tree farm.  There are several about a 1/2 hour north of us, so on Saturday we headed out in search of our tree.  There was still snow on the ground from last week, but it was warming into the mid-40s on Saturday, making the round a muddy mess.  As we drove around looking for the various tree farms, Nicolas cringed every time mud splashed up on the sides of the truck!

The 1st tree farm we visited promised “The best trees at the best prices!”, and at $40 for any size tree, it wasn’t too bad a deal.  Unfortunately, as we walked around the farm, we realized that the pickins’ were pretty slim!


We gave up on this farm and headed down the road.  We stopped at a couple more that weren’t much better, and even at a house where a lady was letting people cut down trees in her backyard!  Her trees actually looked pretty nice, but with prices STARTING at $70, we decided to keep looking!

We finally ended up at the Broadview Tree Farm,


along with a hundred or so other people determined to get their tree before the rain predicted for Sunday!  The majority of the folks were jumping on the wagons and going out into the field to find either a white spruce ($40) or canaan fir ($45).


Any size, same price sounded pretty good until we heard that the tallest we would find would be “about 7 ft.” . . . then we weren’t so anxious to jump on the bandwagon!

We inquired about other fir trees, and she directed us to a patch of douglas firs over behind the barn . . . we walked in that direction, neglecting to ask about the price . . .

Mr. Christmas (Nick) wasn’t too thrilled with the available trees, but we were running out of options, and daylight!  We finally settled on a 9 ft. tree, although narrow and not too full, and Nicolas got to work with the saw.


The boys carried it (pretty much effortlessly, according to Nick!) back to the cashier, where she “oohed & ahhed” over the beautiful tree we found, and we forked over $63 . . .


. . . the most $ we’ve ever paid, for the smallest tree we’ve ever had!  Oh well, we have a tree, and it will look beautiful once it’s up and decorated!

We got it home, and after a quick dinner we brought it in the house and got it set up.


Nicolas was ready to decorate, so he got started and I helped him (role-reversal!!).  We had plenty of lights, and actually even had 1 strand left over that we didn’t use!


There were several benefits to having a smaller tree:

1.  We could get all the way around it easily (usually we have branches smashed up against the windows, and sticking out in front of the fireplace)

2.  You can see the whole tree (typically, the top of our tree is in the skylight, and you can’t really see it!)

3.  Two hours later (NOT two days later!) we had it all decorated!


Nicolas still thinks we should have gotten a bigger tree, but at least it’s up and decorated, so he’s happy!


Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving & Black Friday shopping


The turkey was ready to carve, and the side dishes were waiting in the wings . . .


My brother was doing most of the cooking, while Mom watched  . . . Donnie had banished her from the kitchen!













Everything was delicious, and it didn’t take long for everybody to stuff themselves!  When we weren’t eating, we played some cards and checked out the Black Friday ads.



We had big plans with my Mom and 2 of my sisters & brothers-in-law for Black Friday, so we spent the night at my Mom’s.  On Friday morning, we hit the road early (9:30m . . . OK, not really too early!) to tackle the “doorbusters” where else but . . . .



It was a beautiful day, with temps near 60 degrees, and we we definitely not the only ones doing our “Small Business Saturday” shopping on Friday!


We all got some Christmas shopping done, stocked up on staples at the E & S Bulk Food Store, visited the puppies at Eash Sales, and opted for pizza for dinner.

It was a great day of shopping – and we didn’t have to deal with crazy crowds, pepper spray, or even get up at the crack of dawn!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Ford Driving Skills for Life


This truck travels around the country, presenting these programs at high schools.

On Saturday, Nicolas attended a teen driving program sponsored by The Ford Fund.  It was a mini version of the half-day program he attended back in the summer at our Test Track.  There were just 12 kids in a 40-minute session.  They started with an introduction to the program, and a description of the two scenarios they would experience.


The teens listen intently to the instructor as he describes the program they are going to experience.

The two situations the kids would experience were distracted driving and reacting to a rear-wheel skid.  In the distracted driving course, the kids followed precise directions to navigate around a small course, and then had to repeat that same course while attempting to text a message on their phone.


Nicolas driving a new Focus while texting.

The intent of this exercise was to demonstrate to the teens that there was no way they could be successful at all three objectives – navigating the course without hitting cones, maintaining the required speed, and texting the requested message – they would mess one of them up.  And they all did . . . even Nicolas . . . he was able to maintain the required speed complete the text message, but he flattened a few cones!

The other situation was the rear-wheel skid, in a Mustang that had been set up to skid very easily.


The Mustang was definitely the favorite car of the teens!

The kids drove around an oval course, and when they reached the correct speed, the car would skid in the corners.  The instructor explained to them how to steer out of the skid, and how to keep their eyes on where they wanted to go, NOT where they did not want to go.  Nicolas was anxious to get behind the wheel on this one, and he did really well.  Most of the kids were tentative at first, not going fast enough to get into a skid, but not Nick . . . he was skidding from the very first lap!


Even though it was just a mini-session, Nicolas enjoyed it, and got some good experience.  All the kids seemed to like the session, and one girl even ran up to her dad after getting out of the Mustang, and said “Let’s buy a Mustang!”  That’s another side benefit of this program – exposing these teens to new and exciting Ford cars may turn them into future customers!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Burning leaves and the housing market

We had an eventful week with a 2nd showing on the house on Wednesday.  The visit seemed to go well, but we haven’t yet heard back from them yet.  If nothing happens in the next week, we’ll take the house off the market for the winter, and put it back on in February, probably with a new Realtor.  We’ve given our current Realtor 2 seasons (3 with this Company), and we figure that’s long enough . . . it’s time to move on to somebody else.

We saw an article in the Sunday paper that said that luxury home sales have increased 43% from last year, and the worst is supposed to be over for that market segment.  That’s good news for us, and we’re hoping that starting fresh in the early spring will bring us some luck!

Yesterday we went to my Mom’s house for dinner – she had quite a few leaves down in the backyard, so Tom and the boys were busy raking and burning.




By the time the raking was done, and we were just watching the last of the fire, the “Supervisory Crew” arrived . . .


It was a nice day for working in the yard, and Grandma appreciated all the help!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fall Cleanup


With the fall weather settling in, we’ve been doing quite a bit of cleanup around here . . . trimming bushes, pulling out dead flowers, covering the A/C and getting the furnace ready to turn on.  We’re lucky that we don’t have many leaves (most of them just blow away), but we do have black walnuts.  In fact, we have a line of black walnut trees between the house and the barn, and this year was apparently a good year for black walnuts – we have tons of them!

It took 4 days, but the boys and I finally raked up all the walnuts and deposited in the back corner of our property.


That’s a lot of walnuts – too bad I don’t have something to make with them!

Nicolas’ favorite part is pulling the wagon with his 3-wheeler . . . in fact, it’s not too difficult to get the boys to work in the yard when they get to use the 3-wheeler.


After several hours of back-breaking work, Bryce is ready for a ride in the wagon!


So, we’re pretty much ready for the winter now . . . all cleaned up outside, RV winterized and packed away, furnace and humidifier cleaned up and ready to go . . . now all we need to do is sell this house so we don’t have to do this again!

Meanwhile, we brought Nicolas’ RV carpet and Poang chairs into the house, and Casey sure is happy – she’s been making herself at home in one of the chairs!


We were shocked the first time we found her there – she’s not allowed on any furniture . . . but for some reason she’s decided that this is her chair!