Friday, November 29, 2013

A Happy Thanksgiving at Lake Whitney

For the second year in a row, Dan and I were privileged to spend our Thanksgiving Day with Chris, Kelsey and the kids at a state park, and enjoy a wonderful outdoor feast. They set up camp on Wednesday and plan to stay in their cozy pop-up trailer until Saturday. Joining us, this year, was Jason (a.k.a. JDog), a long-time friend of the C. Judds. This year's setting was Lake Whitney State Park. It was a quiet and peaceful place for a day of thanksgiving. Well . . . as quiet as a day can be with two grandkids and three dogs. Across the road was another family with two children who turned out to be fun playmates for Clara and Robert.

Grandpa and I spent Thanksgiving night at a hotel near the camp ground, and returned to spend the morning with everyone on Friday. You see, our idea of roughing it is spending the night at the nearby Hampton Inn.

The Food

Clara and Robert helped me make the turkey's tail out of strawberries, bananas and grapes. Since Chris is allergic to poultry, this was the ONLY turkey we had on our Thanksgiving table. But we did have a delicious baked ham. Also on the menu were mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, a relish tray, rolls, pumpkin pie and cookies.
JDog was the chief fire pit cook, using his handy-dandy cast iron Dutch ovens over the fire. His specialties were corn bread and peach cobbler. He also made the mashed potatoes and warmed up the ham. 

Some say that the Tryptophan in turkey causes sluggishness and sleepiness in those who eat it. But even though there was no turkey on our table, sleep overtook these fellows after the meal.

Sunset.  During the daytime, it was fairly warm - at least warm enough if you were in the sunshine. I think it reached 60 degrees. In the shade it was chilly, though. And as soon as the sun set, it got downright COLD. I think it dipped to freezing overnight.

At the Lake

Clara was relentless in trying to skip a rock. She came close a few times, but never got one to successfully skip. 
Grandpa tried to convince us that he caught this fish.
Robert was fascinated with the dead fish, and had to poke at it a bit with a stick.

Searching for shells, bugs, worms, and any other creepy crawlies

Looking through his "binoculars"

Robert threw a rock in the water, and Max thought he should try to fetch it! He didn't get too far out, though, before getting a little panicked, and heading back to shore.

More Fun

I brought a couple arts & craft projects, including this M&M turkey project. Robert didn't want to put too many of the candies on the picture, because he had plans to eat the leftovers.

Kelsey brought a couple Indian headband kits. 
Isn't this a precious little face?!
Clara was surprised to see her Mama climb the tree behind her. Kelsey started to venture up a bit higher, but Clara got worried and warned her, "Don't fall, Mommy. I don't want you to die!"

The Deer

Whenever we drove in or out of the park, we saw deer alongside the road. As we were leaving today we pulled over and took a few pictures through the car window.


We are truly thankful for so many blessings in our life. For our family, in both New Mexico and Texas; for our health; our home; our friends; our country; and our God and His providence - to name a few. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

52 in 2013 - #34 Theme of the Week: Young

Dan took off Friday morning for a weekend at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) with Chris. One of the things he finds most rewarding, when it comes to our move to Texas, is that he gets to spend father/son time with Chris at fun events like this.

With Dan gone, I decided that it was a good opportunity for me to go see Kelsey and the kids. I drove over Friday morning and came home this afternoon. It was a fun-packed couple of days with my favorite YOUNGsters. 

On Wednesday Clara had a date with the dentist, who removed four of her baby teeth in preparation for some oral surgery that she will be needing. X-rays show that she has an extra permanent tooth trying to move its way down, in front. One of those teeth will need to be surgically removed. The extracted baby teeth left her with a stunningly awesome smile. (You should go read about her experience at the dentist's, on Kelsey's blog - here. Sounds like an amazing dentist.)

This first picture was the smile that greeted me when we picked Clara up from school on Friday.

Before heading home, Kelsey stopped by the park so the kids could burn off a little energy.

And then we made a quick stop at their favorite used bookstore, where they each got to pick out some reading material. Here Big Sister Clara is helping Robert read a book. They usually get along well together, and at one point yesterday afternoon I heard Robert tell Clara, "You are the best big sister ever!" Awww.

I brought a bracelet-making kit for Clara. It took the efforts of Kelsey, Clara, me and the Internet to figure out how to turn these little rubber bands into colorful bracelets. The instructions that came with the kit were totally useless. But, after Kelsey found a video that made it clear, Clara mastered it in no time and was making bracelets off all colors.

Robert enjoys riding on this tow-along-bicycle. He and Kelsey went for a little trip around the block to show it off for Grandma.

Finally, today at noon, we went to a unique restaurant called Clay's for lunch. It has both indoor and outdoor seating - we sat outdoors. There is a huge sandbox area for the kids to play in, as well as some outbuildings for animals. Today there were only pigs, a horse, and a peacock. Clara really enjoyed visiting with and petting the horse, but Robert didn't want to get close enough for a photo.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

52 in 2013 - #33 Theme of the Week: Food

This is what I call "Linda's Giant Salad." It is what I eat, almost every day, for lunch. And I love it!

This salad has more calories and carbs than you might expect, but it is my biggest meal of the day and seems to be working for me. I'm still doing well at keeping my blood glucose levels normal, without any medication, and maintaining my weight loss. In the past 14 months, I've lost a total of 76 or 77 lbs. (depending on the day), but have lost no significant weight in the past couple of months. Maybe I need to cut Linda's Giant Salad in half and start eating Linda's Medium-Sized Salad for lunch. Or maybe I should just eliminate the pickled beets and the crispy onions.

Linda's Giant Salad totals 360 calories and 32 grams of carbs. If I eliminated the beets and crispy onions (recent additions to the recipe, anyway), I could cut it to 280 calories and 19 carbs. Yes . . . I concede, I need to make those changes.

Sometimes I think that I burn up a lot of the calories just in the process of chopping up all of these ingredients:

Romaine lettuce
Spinach leaves
Cucumber slices
Grape tomatoes
Red bell peppers
Black olives
Pickled beets
Cauliflower (missing in this photo)
Chopped crispy bacon
Chopped almonds
French fried onions
Newman's Own Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Celts in Kilts

(Please be patient. It may take a while for the video clip to load.)

Something in Thursday's newspaper caught my eye. It was an article about the 52nd annual Scottish Games and Gathering of the Clans, happening this weekend in Salado (about 12 miles from where we live). My mother's father was Scottish; he was a McIlwrath (one of many spelling variations i.e. McIlwraith, MacIlwraith, etc.). His parents were both immigrants to America from Scotland, making me 1/4 Scottish.

This morning I headed south to take in the festival, not knowing what to expect. I arrived around 9:45 a.m., and stayed until 2:30 p.m., fully enjoying myself all day long. The weather was good - neither cold nor hot. It was a bit overcast most of the day, but by afternoon most of the clouds burned off.

The highlight of the day, for me, was the opening parade and ceremonies. I was surprised at how many bagpipers there were in Texas! And how many clans were represented. At one of the booths I learned that the McIlwraths were probably from the MacDonald clan (or maybe the Fraser clan). I think I need to do a little more research on that.

One section of the grounds was dedicated to bagpipe and drum competitions. In that area there were about seven or eight stations, where pipers were performing. continuously, before judges. So, for those listening, it was a real cacophony. There were pipers and drummers of all ages (and all ethnicities!).

On a stage in another part of the grounds were the Highland dancers, also competing for high scores, where I enjoyed watching some of the young girls competing for points and awards.

In a large open field, a series of Highland games were taking place . . . stone throwing, hammer throwing, sheaf tossing, weight for height, and caber tossing. I spent most of my time there. I especially wanted to see the caber tossing, but I had to leave for home before that event began. Maybe next year. There is also an evening event that I might go to next year, known as the Tattoo (an outdoor military pageant).

Getting ready for the Stone Throw

Add caption

The Sheaf Toss - A sheaf of hay, weighing 26 lbs., is tossed, using a pitch fork, over a bar, which is raised as the game proceeds. Here the bar is being raised.

The sheaf of hay is stabbed with the fork. Usually they put the fork in several times, trying for the best position in the sheaf, and making the holes loose so the hay will easily fly off of the fork.

Oops! The fork isn't supposed to fly - only the sheaf!
These were the two finalists for the sheaf toss. The one on the right was the winner, tossing it over the bar at 19'

This is the Weight for Distance throw. Later in the day was the Weight for Height throw.