Christmas and more

Christmas Eve day was spent frantically crocheting on Christmas presents before we headed to Marquette to visit with Grandma.  She really liked the afghan that the family made for her (4 family members each crocheted 4 squares and I assembled them all).  Robert got a couple of neat gifts from Grandma and Aunt C and we all got some nicknacks that had been at Grandma’s house.  Mom and Rick and I provided some Christmas music for the residents of the facility where Grandma lives and they really enjoyed that.  Mom played the piano and Rick and I sang and then I played the trombone for a little while.  Then we had our traditional Christmas Eve dinner of pizza before heading to church where I did more music.  I sang "Do You Hear What I Hear?" for special music, played "O Holy Night" on my trombone during the offering, and played the first Communion hymn on the piano so Mom could go to Communion.  I went during the second hymn after Mom got back.  After we got home from Church, there was more crocheting and present wrapping.

Christmas morning found our stockings filled and overflowing with gifts from Santa.  We got all kinds of fun and useful things.  Here’s what I got in my stocking: Book – "Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover’s Soul", cross stitch Christmas ornament – "Tis the Season to be Jolly!", ceramic blade safety cutter, ceramic blade letter opener, red & green M&Ms, sheep tape measure, 

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assorted flavored lip balms, small calendar with adhesive backing for my car, and snowman socks.  After we were done opening our stockings, Mom & Rick made donut puffs for breakfast, and then I went back to my crocheting to get at least a little bit more done.  

Once the family started arriving shortly before 1, the fun chaos began.  Once everyone was here, there were 19 of us, including 3 ages 6 and under.  It’s always great having the whole family together and all my cousins!  We had tons of wonderful food for Christmas dinner, and then presents galore.  The kids get gifts from everyone, and the adults do a drawing earlier in the year so we only give/receive one gift.  It’s always fun to see who had who and what they got.  My cousin A had my name and she gave me a framed picture of flowers that she took, some guava butter (body butter and lip butter), a sparkly snowflake ornament, and a book – "Eat This, Not That 2011".  After presents were done, we had dessert.

After everyone had left, we got more presents wrapped and "reloaded" the tree.  Apparently red was the color of the year for wrapping paper as there was A LOT of red paper under the tree.  And enough presents that it took us almost 3 hours to unwrap everything – and that was just the 6 of us.  Here’s what I got:  Mom’s Busy Year calendar, scented candle, box of Cafe Mocha for my Keurig coffee maker, "My K-cup" for my Keurig, purple Camelbak sports bottle, pour spout for pans/bowls, Faith Lutheran Church 100th Anniversary cookbook, piano salt and pepper shakers, music towel, purple "RUN" t-shirt, green "RUNNING" t-shirt, t-shirt – "I wasn’t born in the U.P., but I got here as soon as I could.", 2 books – "Cook This, Not That: Kitchen Survival Guide" & "Cook This, Not That: Easy & Awesome 350-Calorie Meals", notebook surge protector, cross stitch chart – "French Country Cat" by JBW Designs, gift card for Shell gas, "Harley Girl" hat, bike repair stuff – tools, spare tubes, under-seat storage bag; finished cross stitch piece – "Cats are like potato chips. You can’t have just one.", finished cross stitch piece – "Home is where you hang stuff" and a 3-peg rack to hang "stuff" on, and a homemade fleece hoodie with music notes on it.

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Sunday morning was church, and I played the prelude, offertory, and postlude all on trombone.  After church, we went to Marquette for some shopping and to visit Grandma again.  Then we spent the rest of the day relaxing and I did more crocheting.

Monday was a relaxing morning and then we made pasties (pronounced pas-tees) in the afternoon for an early dinner.  After we ate, we headed to Marquette to visit Grandma, do a little more shopping and other errands, and then we drove around and looked at all the winners of the Christmas lighting contest they have each year.  There were lots of great displays.  We stopped for a snack of donuts part way through the Christmas light looking. 

Today was another relaxing day, and I was actually the last one up for a change.  It was me and Ryan’s 8th anniversary today!  We took Robert ice skating at the neighbor’s across the lake.  We walked across the lake to get there.  I skated as well, and another neighbor girl came over, too.  Robert did really well for his first time ever ice skating.  We all had a lot of fun.  Then I got stuff mostly packed up and we went to Grandma’s house to go through stuff in there and take or make note of what we wanted.  Shortly after we got home, we headed to the Up North Lodge for our anniversary dinner.  The whole family goes and it’s a fun time.  Thanks for dinner Rick!!  After we got home, Aunt C came over and we visited for a while and I got to meet her friend B.  Everyone else has met him before.  After they left, I did more packing and Ryan started getting the van loaded.  I did get a little bit of crocheting done as well.

Today’s high:  32
Current:  19





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Locks of Love Donation

Yesterday was kind of a do-nothing day.  Which is fine with me since I’m on vacation.  I played on my computer and did a whole bunch of crocheting on Christmas presents.  We got to visit with Grandma for a little while at our house and it was nice seeing her.  We had Advent service at church in the evening and it was a really nice, short service for the last Wednesday of Advent.  Then it was home and we had sauna and boy was that nice!!  I sure miss having sauna all the time.

This morning I was up a little earlier than yesterday and after some computer time, Mom and I headed to town for a Mom & Me shopping trip.  Ryan and Robert went out on their own.  Mom and I went all kinds of places doing all kinds of last minute Christmas shopping, and boy was town a crazy mess.  I think everyone was out and about today – craziness.  And stupid drivers.  And shortages of open checkouts (except at the grocery store).  The grocery store was kind of nice, even though there were TONS of people there.  They had EVERY checkout lane open and they had an employee going around offering free cans of pop (Coke or Diet Coke) to the customers waiting in line.  Mom and I had planned on going to lunch, but we ran out of time as we had to get back to Gwinn for my haircut appointment, which we were late to, but we called and let them know.  My appointment was for my Locks of Love donation cut.  It ended up being about 16" of hair instead of the about 12" I wanted, but it’s all good.  It will grow back and it’s for a good cause.  See pics below. . .  Once we were home, Mom and I got all the groceries and other purchases inside, and I got presents wrapped.  Then it was lasagna for dinner and more crocheting.

Today’s high:  26
Current: 25

Before:

During:

After:

Three LONG days of travel

Sunday morning we were on the road by 0630 and stopped at a little donut shop for donuts for breakfast on the road.  We drove through New Mexico and into Colorado and ended up in Colorado Springs for the evening.  We had really nice weather for driving and even sat outside when we stopped for lunch at McDonald’s in New Mexico!  Our hotel was really nice, but we had to pay for parking and it was not wireless internet.  I hit the fitness center for 3 miles on the dreadmill while the guys went and played in the pool.  It was a good way to unwind from the day of sitting in the van.

Monday morning, we were again on the road by about 0630 and we headed east.  Once again, we had beautiful traveling weather and a VERY long day.  We ended up in Cedar Rapids, IA, for the evening, at another really nice hotel.  But this one had free parking AND wireless internet.  We got in quite late, so we just got Robert to bed and did computer stuff and went to bed ourselves.

This morning the guys slept in some, but I was still up early and I got 4.37 miles in on the dreadmill in the fitness center before waking the guys up.  It was our shortest travel day, but awful weather and roads most of the way.  Ryan did a great job driving, despite the conditions.  At one point, though, we followed a car that was going about 30.  Yes, the roads were bad, but no where near THAT bad.  Come on people – it snows and is slippery every winter.  Why must you forget how to drive?  It was really nice finally pulling into Mom & Dad’s driveway and getting the van unloaded.  And of course, it’s always good to be home with family, especially for Christmas!  

I got close to 20 hours of crocheting done in the car on the way here – finished 2 Christmas presents and made a good dent on a third.  Lots more crocheting to do before Christmas, though.

Camouflage and Holiday Lights

Today was concert day.  I ended up sleeping in and missing my scheduled run with K.  But it all worked out as she didn’t sleep well and texted me at 0530 to let me know that she wasn’t going to go run.  She gave me a ride to concert set up/rehearsal, but she came over early and we exchanged gifts.  I had crocheted a scarf for her and she gave us a coupon for "Unlimited Robbie Sitting" and a gift card to the local movie theater.  She’s such an awesome friend!!!  Then we headed to the Performing Arts Center where our concert was going to be and helped with set up, decorating, program stuffing, and then we had sound check and a complete run through of the concert.  Ryan came and picked me up as K was staying to help decorate a little more after.  Once home, I got everything finished packed and ready to go out to the car.  We had dinner and then I got into uniform and we headed back for the concert.  Our theme was Camouflage and Holiday Lights and the concert went really well.  There were several hundred in attendance and it was a lot of fun.  Once we got home from the concert, we got the van loaded and in the morning all we have to add is toiletries, computers, and a few other last minute things.  I did some crocheting and now I’m heading to bed.

Today’s high:  64
Current:  48





The final week!!

Ok, so it’s been a week again.  Oops!  Monday we had the day off from work and I went with Ryan to Tucson for his appointment at the VA.  It’s always nice getting to talk to his care team.  After we got back from Tucson and picked Robert up from Child Time, he got some big brother practice as we had to pick up baby G as well (we’re authorized pick up people for her) since her mom and dad (H and B) were not able to pick her up in time.  We went to Target to get a few things, and the cashier congratulated us on our new addition.  LOL  You should have seen the look on her face when we said we were just babysitting. 

Tuesday was a weigh in for me in the morning – I’m well under my table weight (the weight the Army says I have to be under or I get taped for body fat percentage).  Then the rest of the day was admin work in the morning and holiday concert rehearsal in the afternoon.  Then it was home for crocheting.

Wednesday morning was a record PT test for me.  I did 46 pushups (100%), 76 situps (100%), and ran my 2 miles in 17:06 (92%).  My total score of 292 was my best PT test ever!!!  And I did more situps AND scored higher than anyone else taking the test that morning.  The rest of the day at work was pretty easy.  An award presentation at morning formation, holiday concert rehearsal, 2 reenlistments, crocheting at lunch, and then another award presentation after lunch.  Then I headed out and got my allergy shots and then headed to the church for the funeral of the choir member that passed away over the weekend.  It was a pretty tough service for the choir to sing at, but we made it through.  They did laugh at me a little bit – with my combat boots peeking out from under my choir robe.  I didn’t have time to change before, so I just went in uniform.  After the service was done, I headed home and got some stuff done around the house. 

Thursday was our dress rehearsal for the concert.  It was at the theater on post, even though that’s not where the concert is going to be held.  We went through the whole program twice and then were pretty much done for the day.  Ryan was shopping at the PX, so I just went home with him (K had given me a ride in the morning).  Ryan and I got Robert’s presents wrapped before we went and picked him up from school.  We headed back to post so they could both get haircuts and then it was home for family gift wrapping time.  Robert enjoyed helping wrap presents that are from him.  And I got more crocheting done.

Today was Robert’s holiday program at school, so I went to work late so I could go to the program.  I videoed the 1st graders singing their 3 songs and reciting "Twas the Night Before Christmas".  It was a really good program.  After the program was done, I headed to work and got there just in time for safety briefing, holiday concert briefing, and leave procedures briefing.  I did have a little bit of admin stuff to do, so I got that taken care of before heading home for the day.  Once home and changed, Ryan and I headed out for errands and a manicure & pedicure for me.  I think we’re about done with Christmas shopping now.  After errands were done, we came home for a while and I got some laundry done.  Then we picked Robert up from Child Time and headed to Walmart for cat litter and cat food and we decided to eat at McDonald’s while we were out.  Once we were home, I got laundry finished, more presents wrapped, laundry folded and packing started.  A came over to see where the cat food and stuff is and get a key to the house.  She’ll be watching the cats while we’re gone.  I did get some crocheting done this evening as well.

Today’s high:  60
Current:  45

Cantata Twice and a Clean Van

This morning the choir did our cantata at both the 0800 and 1100 services at church.  Ryan and Robert came to the early service, as did my friend K!  After the first service, we went to a few different auto parts stores to get the new studs we needed and then headed home.  Ryan started working on the van and when it was time for me to go back for the second service, I just walked back to the church, since it’s a whole 1/4 mile away.  The cantata went really well at both services and the congregation really enjoyed it.  After the service, I was walking home and the guys were heading out to go to yet another auto parts store so they stopped and picked me up.  We ended up at the auto parts store, Lowe’s, and then we tried a new restaurant for lunch – My Big Fat Greek Restaurant.  It was really good food!  Then we headed home and got the van finished up.  Ryan had put new studs on one side of the van while I was at church the second time and then I was able to help him with the second side.  After we were done with the studs, we cleaned out the van!  We got rid of all the papers, Robert cleaned up his toys, and we even dragged the vacuum outside and vacuumed the van!  It sure looks a ton better.  After some relaxing and my weekly phone call home, we went to Coldstone for ice cream.  K came with us – after she helped jump the van.  Yup – our battery died from having all the doors open for so long this afternoon and one of the lights inside got left on after we went inside.  Thank goodness for friends like K!!

Today’s high:  70
Current:  50





Days 11-12 and the start of a WEEKEND!!

Day 11, Thursday – It was a normal day!  We had holiday concert rehearsal in the morning and did some admin work, including a trip over to Finance in the afternoon.

Day 12, Friday – Half day!!  We had a full holiday concert rehearsal in the morning and then I did some admin work.  I went to Korean for lunch with K and B and that was a lot of fun.  Then it was home and thus ends the 12 day work week!  We brought the van to Discount Tire for our 1600 appointment for rotation and balance, but we ended up with 2 new tires as well as the old ones were really worn.  At least it was just 2 and not all 4 that needed to be replaced.  While they were working on the van, we went across the street to Sonic for supper.  Oh, during the afternoon, I also got my cross stitch group’s Secret Santa package ready to mail and finally got my ornament finished into an ornament for that package.  And in the evening I finished a cross stitch project that I’ve been working on since June that was supposed to have been mailed today.  

Let the weekend begin!!  We slept in this morning.  I’m going to call this week a bust as far as running is concerned.  I didn’t get anything other than my 5 miles on Monday.  Ugh.  I made banana bread for breakfast and it was really good.  Then we went outside to start working on the rear brakes for the van.  That’s when we discovered the shoddy workmanship from last night at the tire place.  We were missing a lug nut on one tire, and a stud had been broken off on another.  So we went back to Discount Tire and Ryan talked to the manager.  They got the lug nut taken care of and called Brake Master for the stud.  And the manager agreed that that was unacceptable, and the guy that did the work on the van will not be working for Discount Tire anymore.  So we went to Brake Master and they were supposed to be waiting for us and get us right in.  Well, it was about 15-20 minutes or so before they got the van in and they had said an hour and a half.  Luckily we all had stuff to do while we waiting.  It was getting close to an hour and Ryan went to check and see how it was coming and they had made like no progress.  "It’s too rusty so we have to do it a different way."  Yeah, ok.  Whatever.  They said it would still be another 45 minutes or so, and the guys were getting hungry, so we went across the street to Arby’s for lunch.  After we ate, we went back and still waited probably 20 minutes before they were finally done.

Once we got home, it took Ryan less than an hour to change the rear brakes.  But as he was putting the lug nuts back on, he broke another stud.  So we’re going to replace all the studs on that tire.  They are pretty rusty – probably from all the NY and MI salt and other crap they put on the roads in the winter.  That, and the van has 121,500 miles on it and we’ve had it for over 6 years.  I got laundry done while we were working on the brakes.  Robert and I both helped some.  After it started getting dark, we headed to the golf course on post for NOEL – Night of Extraordinary Lights.  It was done by MWR and was an excellent event.  They had "ice" skating – but it was a special hard plastic/rubber mat surface.  We decided that Robert’s first time ice skating would be on REAL ice.  But they had Santa there, and hay rides to go out and look at all the lights they had on the golf course.  It was a lot of fun!  Oh, and Robert had a s’more as well.  We stopped at Subway on our way home for supper.

Today’s high:  71
Current:  52

Here’s Robert helping Daddy with the van. . .