Thursday, December 27, 2012

Meeting Dad's Expectations

Wayne spent all semester waiting for his helpers to come home to do some projects.  Fortunately he decided early what those projects were so they could be psychologically prepared.  First was to finish painting all the interior doors and replace the door knobs.  The downstairs was done over the summer, and the goal was to complete the upstairs before the new year.  Michelle's been a great worker, even if she had to take off a couple of days to stay in bed with the flu, but now that chore can be crossed off the list!
Jeff's job was to paint the back wall of the house.  First step was to "unpaint" it, or clean it using the pressure washer.   (Thank you YouTube for helping us remember how to unplug the pump to get it going again after months of non-use.)
 The second step was to prime everything.
The third and fourth steps were to roll on the paint.  Note to self:  Read the instructions on the can before starting, not when cleaning up.  We thought we were done after one coat, but this fancy "lifetime warranty" paint requires two coats.
Pressure washing made a huge mess of the windows (another note to self), so cleaning them got added to the list.  The inside doors were finished by then, so that job fell to Michelle.
Now the projects are completed, so the kids can really enjoy their break from school.
It's kind of hard to tell, because it's still the same color, but at least the back wall looks wonderful.  Next phase: one of the side walls.  Who wants to volunteer and when???

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Celebrating in Style

For the past couple of years, Wayne's company has made a deal with a local hotel to provide reduced rates for their employees on the night of their Christmas dinner, supposedly because there's an open bar and they want to reduce the number of drunk drivers on the road.  That's not a problem for us, but it provides a good excuse for a mini-stay-cation.  This year's hotel was The Breakers. We thoroughly enjoyed our little get away! 
It's a gorgeous building on impeccable grounds with a beautiful view of the ocean, and it was decorated so perfectly for Christmas. 
We lucked out and were given an upgraded room, which meant we could actually see the ocean from our window.  (They called it a "partial view" room.)
Although I love cooking, any time I don't have to is a special treat.  And when it's at a fancy restaurant, that's even better.  Wayne's been to the Flagler Steakhouse several times on business and decided that it was time to share that experience with me.  The food was delicious, and pretty too.
Wayne also decided this would be the perfect place to host Michelle's wedding reception (hopefully that day is still a ways in the future!) - a covered second-story pavilion overlooking the ocean.  I tried finding out how much money we'd have to save to do that, and couldn't find the information any where.  That tells me it's going to be way more than he wants to spend!  But it would be gorgeous.
There's just something so relaxing about watching the waves go in and out, and in and out!  In fact I took a little video just for you!  (Sorry if the wind's too noisy.)
The wind wasn't too noisy for Wayne to sleep, though!  A mid-morning nap is definitely out of the ordinary.
The culminating event of our weekend of extravagance was the actual company party.  It was held at the Everglades Club, which looks like a nondescript little place on some side street away from downtown.  However, inside it was spacious and elegant.  The rooms were absolutely beautiful and the food was nothing short of amazing edible art, and it was delicious too!
It was fun seeing how other people spend their days, but I wouldn't want to do it all of the time.  I'm very content with my regular life.  And I'm grateful I feel that way!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Eve in Luanda, Angola

The Luanda Zone
Can you spot our elder??
A traditional White Elephant Gift Exchange
Thank you to the wonderful adult couples who are there to be great examples and leaders!

Merry Christmas!

Just wanted to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and assure you that we kept the familiar family traditions as much as possible.  Not pictured are our Christmas Eve traditions which included dinner in the dining room, reading Luke 2 and singing Ross Farnworth's Cantata.  It's not quite the same with a lot of the family missing, but we managed, and it meant there was more roast beef for the dad.
Christmas morning we had our traditional scrambled eggs and cinnamon rolls, took the "kids by the stockings" picture, and enjoyed opening presents.
Since we have a missionary out in the field, the highlight of the day was speaking with him.  We tried Skype, but the connection from Africa wasn't that reliable, and the phone worked just fine.  Elder Steven is doing great, and we're all happy that he's happy.  (This afternoon I even watched the 50-minute video that his mission president posted.  Steven's only in it for a few seconds, and even then it's not the most flattering photo, but if you want to see his zone, go here and scroll forward to 38:18.)
Everyone was happy, and there's plenty to keep us busy for a while.  Fortunately, nothing required assembly!  We were able to enjoy a fairly relaxing afternoon snacking on treats, playing games, listening to music and even doing a couple of projects.  We feel greatly blessed.

Merry Christmas!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a Bit like Christmas

Slowly, but surely, things are coming together for our Christmas celebration.  You'd think that after 10-12 years of mild Florida winters I'd be used to it, but it's still difficult to feel "Christmas-y" when it's a balmy, humid, 80° outside.  However, don't get me wrong, I'm just fine not having to deal with cold and snow!  In addition, the work involved in decorating isn't quite as much fun when you're doing it alone, but that's okay too.  At least I can do it totally MY way.  Hope the college students approve :)
Each year since our tree passed the 10-year warranty date, we say it's time to replace it. This year we even went to the store and looked at our options.  However, despite the number of needles that needed to be swept up when the job was done, our old tree still looks beautiful.  Now it just needs some presents to go under it.
As far as the outside lights go, it's not much, but it's 100% more than last year, so we're calling it good.
I had some handsome help with the second tree, and the job went much faster.  
Isn't it interesting how each house has it's own personality.  We're trying to decide if it's overkill to have two trees within sight of each other.  (In our past houses they were totally separated.)  Come on over and give us your opinion!
Finally, we had our ward Christmas dinner.  Didn't the set-up committee do an awesome job?  And they're smart as well.  They decided to set up during seminary time, and we couldn't not take advantage of the opportunity to have the youth help.  With everyone working together, it only took about 15 minutes to set the tables (which were already in place) and tie the bows on the chairs, and then we let the RS sisters do the centerpieces by themselves so they wouldn't have to worry about over-eager help leading to broken vases.  That left plenty of time for a seminary lesson as well.  

Later, the food was just as delicious as the setting was beautiful, and it was only topped by the portrayal of the nativity by the Primary kids.  No way could that be called a polished performance, but it captivated the audience who felt the Spirit.  And that's what Christmas is all about.  Hope you're having fun celebrating this month!

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Rest of the Trip

As hard as it may be to believe, our Thanksgiving weekend activities involved more than just eating and playing with grandchildren.  Instead of participating in "Black Friday" shopping, we had (as someone else called it) a "White Friday."  I'm glad there was no snow involved.  Instead, we spent the morning at the Jordan River Temple. 
(While there I had the sad realization that my 2,000-mile temple visits closely approached the number of 200-mile temple visits for 2012.  One more year until the 50-mile trip will be an option; we can hardly wait!)
We continued the family history theme in the afternoon by going to the library in Salt Lake. Unfortunately, it was a bit frustrating.  I guess Grandma Agnes is in no hurry to help us find her parents.
We loved spending time with our children, but it was also nice to have brief visits with some brothers and sisters.  
Aunt Julie has some pretty neat toys at her house.
But Evelyn was still mostly fascinated with searching for the baby.  Can you believe he slept through all of the  hide-and-seek game?
Richard's family
Hopefully, one of these years our trips will be long enough so we can include visits to cousins and friends, too.  Until then, know that we waved to you on our way to the airport!
 Now, on to December and the marvelous, magical Christmas season - another reason for giving thanks!!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Surprising the Dad

Although his birthday is in August, when the kids realized BYU would be playing basketball in the Marriott Center during our Thanksgiving trip, they decided to give him tickets to the game for his birthday.  It's been over 25 years since we've attended a game on campus, which made it a wonderful treat.

To make it even more special, the kids decided to surprise him with dinner beforehand.  Well, actually, Dad paid for dinner, but the kids picked the restaurant, which was the real surprise.  We have good friends from Florida who moved to Utah earlier this year.  They decided to buy a pizza place in Provo, and we kept that tidbit of information a secret from Wayne.  (There are some advantages to not being on Facebook.)  When we were trying to decide where to eat before the game, Wayne suggested The Brick Oven, which is where we went for our first date.  However, the kids convinced him to try a new pizza place, Nicolitalia Pizzaria, and he was okay with that. 
As you can see, the soda and breadsticks were a hit with all ages, and the pizza was good, too.
As he placed the order, Wayne mentioned that we had come all the way from Florida to eat there, and the clerk surprised him by saying, "That's interesting.  Our owners are from Florida, too, do you know M___ & E____?"  Wayne was sure it wasn't the same people he knew, and it was fun to see his jaw drop when he realized it was!  They even came in while we were there and we had a wonderful little visit.  So, if you're ever in the mood for pizza while in Provo, you know where to go.  

Then it was off to the game.  I had forgotten how loud the place could be, but the babies didn't seem to mind.  (We covered their ears whenever the crowd got super excited.)  What a fun experience.  Thanks, kids!

BYU won - That was a nice bonus for the Birthday Boy!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Samuel's Blessing Day

As mentioned, the main purpose for our trip to Utah was to meet baby Samuel and participate in his special blessing day.  Although on occasion he still denies being a grandpa, I think Wayne secretly enjoys it, and he's a great one.  Just think how awesome he'd be if we lived closer!  
Playing with Wyatt
Taking care of Samuel so the moms could work on dinner preparations.
Fed, changed and contented - and it lasted all the way through sacrament meeting!
I just love this picture of the happy parents with their new addition.  Wyatt was having too much fun with aunts and uncles and cousins to get in the picture.
We're so proud of Weston and his willingness to do what it takes to be an honorable father and priesthood holder.  It was a special day, and we're glad we could be a part of it.
At the church - I hope the other cameras got better shots!
Afterwards we gathered at Megan's parents for dinner.  Thanks, Roger and Linda, for hosting all of us!  The food was delicious but the company was even better.
So glad that at least one set of great-grandparents was able to join us!

Having fun with "My Man's Man" with the next generation.
He was having so much fun with all of the toys and attention!
Finally, I just had to get some pictures with Aunt Michelle.  We're so happy she's had this chance to spend time developing those relationships.  Hooray for colleges close to family!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

"Girls' Night Out"

or "Trying Something New From Pinterest"

The last time we had our little family reunion, all the girls went to the pottery place together and made something.  That was so much fun, we decided to do a "girls only" activity again.  It was adapted just a bit due to schedule conflicts (so you'll see some guys in the photo), but it was still a lot of fun.  The shopping for supplies was the "girls only" part, then we worked on our projects at home.

Here was the inspiration from Pinterest:

It didn't turn out quite like we had expected, but we still had a lot of fun together.  You must make sure that your bead openings are big enough to go around the wire's curves.
And then you also need to find the correct kind of wire.  We tried the aluminum wire from the craft store.  It didn't hold its shape extremely well.
So, when I got home I got some steel wire from Home Depot and tried again.  It was still a little floppy, but it works.  So, now we each have an Abacus Bead Advent (or Christmas Countdown, which is the more correct term). 
I'm leaving it on "day 13" because I like the symmetry.  Michelle can fix it when she comes home if she wants.
We also tried one other project - Firefly Christmas Lights:
This one turned out much better.  Just tie pieces of tulle (we got the 6" wide spool and cut them into about 8-9" lengths) on both sides of the light bulb in a string of lights.  Michelle did one and set it on the windowsill of her dorm room.  You'll have to ask her for a picture of the finished project.

Next time we'll have to spend a bit more time planning our activity, but I'm already looking forward to the next one!