Tuesday, January 20, 2015

That January Lull - A Return to Normalcy

The holiday season - from Halloween through New Year's Day, and including two grandkid birthdays - is so busy. And then all of the hubbub just STOPS. January has not been a blog-worthy month. We have just been settling back into our normal routine and our normal diet, after all of the holiday festivities and feasts.

I'm back to my art classes, my ESL tutoring, my ladies' Bible classes, my Bible Bees preparation and teaching. Dan is back to cooking us breakfast every morning, taking care of car maintenance, and playing on-line games with Chris and Clara.

It's been a month for replacing things. First came our stationary recumbent bicycle. We both used it a lot, and we just wore it out, I guess. The pedal mechanism failed. It was going to cost almost as much to get the replacement part as it would be to replace it. So we got a new one. We both like the new one better, but would rather not have had to buy it.

The other big purchase was a new dishwasher. Our old one was still working. At least it was working as well as it ever had . . . which was poorly. We got fed up with having to re-wash things as they came out of the dishwasher. And tired of having to run the dishwasher only when we went to bed, because it was sooooooo noisy that we couldn't carry on a decent conversation or watch TV. It was the dishwasher installed by the house-builder, and it was bottom-of-the-line in quality. So we stepped it up several notches and got a beautiful new Bosch dishwasher. It's so quiet that we don't even know that it's running! And every dish, every pot and pan, and all the flatware are coming out sparkling clean.

And speaking of replacing things, I called the orthopedic surgeon's office yesterday to get an appointment to see about getting my left knee replacement surgery scheduled. I wanted to get this done as early in the year as possible, so as not to ruin another summer with rehab. Sadly, I waited a little long, since I can't even get an appointment to see him until March. I'm sure that April will be the earliest I'll be able to schedule the surgery, which will mean I'll still be hobbling until June or July. That will make the third summer that we have been dealing with recovering knees. I had my right knee done in June of 2013. Dan had both of his knees done in the spring and summer of 2014. Oh well. We only have four knees between us, so this means we will be DONE!

Yesterday I had lunch with two good friends - Wynn, who has moved away and is now living in Huntsville (she had to come to Temple to take care of some personal business), and Susan, who is so busy we seldom get together. Since it was close to my birthday, they made it a birthday lunch. Wynn gave me a wind chime, with a brass turtle at the top - she loves turtles. She instructed me to hang it out on my back patio and to think of her every time I hear the bells tinkling. I'm eager to get it hung.

I'll also be having lunch out today, with my art class buddies. There is a fun little lady in our class, who is turning 94 this week. (You'd NEVER guess her to be that old!) So we are going out to celebrate her birthday.

Like I said - not many blog-worthy events this month. Kind of sad when a new exercise bicycle makes it to my list of highlights.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas Part 2

Chris, Kelsey, Clara and Robert rolled into town on Friday evening. Our extended Christmas with them was really fun.

Here's a little peek into our time together.

Clara is pretty happy with all of the American Girl doll accessories she unwrapped.

Clara spends some quiet time playing with some of her Legos and with Robert's Magnatile set. 

Robert asked Santa for some Ninjago Legos, and Santa REALLY delivered! Besides these three sets, he has two more at home! Oh, you might notice the cellophane wrapper on his head. Yes, after two days of Christmas picture-taking, his patience with posing ("Say cheese") was wearing a little thin, so he got creative.
Chris helped Robert to sort the pieces, so they were easier to to find; then Robert went page by page, following the directions to assemble this nearly-200 piece Lego set.

All finished!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Day 2014

Christmas Day was relaxing and enjoyable. We started the morning with a special breakfast treat of fresh kolaches, from our local Kolache Kitchen. Then we exchanged gifts.

Here's Mom, showing off a painting of a pear that I did. Although it was only an exercise, she really liked it, so I had it framed for her. We also got her a portable ice-maker for her apartment at Stoney Brook, so she can have iced tea whenever she wants.

Tim has been playing all day with his quadcopter drone with HD camera. Sadly, we forgot to get an SD card, so he wasn't able to take any video, but we'll pick one up tomorrow.

Dan will be kept busy for a while, putting together his wooden model of a working trebuchet. He enjoys small woodworking projects (like the doll house we built for Clara last year), and has always been interested in trebuchets, so it seemed like a good match. 

And Dan knew just what to get for me . . . a table-top easel. It'll make painting a lot more enjoyable!

Even after opening presents this morning, there were still packages underneath the tree. They are for Chris, Kelsey, Clara and Robert, who will be coming to celebrate Christmas with us a little late. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Tim is Here!

Tim arrived, to spend Christmas with us, on Sunday evening :-)

Tonight we took him to see the Christmas lights at BLORA (Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area, which is located on Fort Hood property). They put on a marvelous annual Christmas light display, which takes about an hour to drive through. I was doing the driving this time, so I only snapped a few quick photos for you. It is much more spectacular than these snapshots would lead you to believe. Mom didn't go with us this time, by the way, because she went a week or so ago in a Stoney Brook bus.

It wasn't quite dark when we began the course, but got dark pretty quickly. As you can see in this picture, BLORA is on the shore of Lake Belton.

The entire manger scene stretched out too far for me to capture in a single picture, but here are the wise men traveling to Bethlehem.

You drive through this tunnel of blinking, pulsating lights to exit the park. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

It's That Sweet Time of Year!

I've started my Christmas cookie baking! And I'm looking forward to having friends and family around to help us eat them all up!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Happy Birthday Clara

Clara turned nine years old yesterday. I can hardly believe she's growing up so fast! Dan and I drove over to Katy yesterday morning. We got there about lunch time. Clara was in school, but Robert and his Mommy were home. At the end of the day we went to school to pick her up. She didn't know we were coming, so she was surprised to see us there.

This was her second big surprise of the day. Her first one was that her daddy spent the day at her school, volunteering in the "Watch D.O.G.S" program. The Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) is a school-based father involvement program. The dads spend at least one day a year helping in their kids' schools by reading with students in small groups and doing other things as assigned by the school principal. Of course, Clara was proud as punch to have her daddy at school all day long.

In the evening, we went to the Rain Forest Cafe for Clara's birthday dinner. Dan and I had never been there before, so it was as exciting for us as it was for the kids. The interior of the restaurant is like a jungle. There are all sorts of life-sized animatronics inside, including elephants and gorillas which were the noisiest of the bunch. Every few minutes a huge thunder and lightning storm occurs, and the animals go pretty crazy. All of the noise was a little overwhelming for the kids. Robert always hid his ears and sometimes covered his eyes, as well, while he waited for the storm to pass and the animals to calm down.

"Too loud!"

For dessert Clara got the chocolate VOLCANO. It was really pretty, with a sparkler in the top and lots of chocolate syrup running down the sides of the decadently rich chocolate cake slices which cradled vanilla ice cream. Yum! The wait staff brought it out singing a loud Volcano song, with lots of clapping.

Once we got back home, the kids took their showers, got into their p.j.s and then got to watch a Frosty the Snowman video before going to bed.

This morning Dan and I went to a nearby hospital, where Clara's school choir (3rd through 5th grades) performed. Kelsey was volunteering at the school for their Santa's workshop, so couldn't be there. I took pictures and recorded some videos for her, so she wouldn't miss out, completely. (This is just a short clip.)


I didn't have any trouble finding Clara in the crowd!