November 30

Started today having breakfast with friends; ran some errands and then wrapped and decorated some more.   Picked Liam up from school and always enjoy the sweet/funny things he says out of nowhere.....but today he threw me for a loop when he asked if we could go to heaven to see GG (my Mom)...."we could get a plane and fly up there".    Well, that sure brought on the tears...

Mark and Philip arrived in Charleston this afternoon and Philip caught a flight back to FL.    New crew comes in tomorrow and Wednesday, they'll be heading south towards St. Augustine (350 miles) in 4-5 days depending on weather!

I had a fun evening with my Monday Night Friends catching up.

Good-bye November and onto the hustle and bustle of December....enjoy!!!

November 29

Rainy, gloomy Sunday, but I started the day by going to church with the Campbell's.    Came home and put on the Christmas tunes, and did some decorating, wrapping, made 2 loaves of banana bread, sent a bunch of e-mails and just thought how quiet and lonely it is here by myself after the busy week of little boys running around laughing and having fun!

Mark and Philip are in Myrtle Beach tonight - had a good 150-mile trip from Morehead City.    Tomorrow they are off to Charleston (wish I could be with them - neat, neat city)!

Time to get back at the reading which has really been neglected!   Bye for now...

November 28

Up and going at a very early hour today.   Mark, Philip and Annette left for the airport at 4:30 AM; Michael and family were on the road at 5:01 AM.   Everyone is where they need to be and all day long, as I scurried around changing beds, straightening up the house, cleaning and a bit of decorating, I thought of so many happy memories from this past week!    Just such a treat to all be together and the cousins thoroughly enjoyed each other - Brady cried and was sobbing last night when Liam and Connor said "good-bye"!

I accomplished a lot this morning, but by 10:00, I was just wiped out so went back to bed for a good 2-hour nap.   Then did some more decorating (cutting way back this year and having a "simple" Christmas!)    My kids cannot believe that!   

Mark and Philip are in Morehead City tonight on Catrina and hope to get to SC border tomorrow.    Was a beautiful day here in IL and also for all traveling by land, air and water.    The guys are happy to be on the boat again and I'll be holding down the home front for the next 10 days or so!

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving weekend ?    We are all so blessed!

November 27

It's Black Friday but no one was interested in venturing out to the malls and other shops this crazy busy day!    Michael, Anne and families went bowling and had a ball....later in the afternoon, Brooke and I walked down the street to visit our neighbors, Norma and Darrel.    Friends, Donna Rae and Ed stopped in for some holiday cheer and got to see our kids/grandsons!    We ordered pizza from Monical's (kids' favorite) and then had a surprise birthday party for Drew who will be 10 on December 1st!   How can that be???

Liam in fine form

That's a big ball for Davis to handle as Brady looks on

Drew ready to roll that ball

Davis and some of his marvelous creations with Legos

Annette, Brooke, Pat and Donna Rae chatting 'round the kitchen table

After pizza, everyone sprawled out to enjoy "Elf" and had some good laughs

Drew with his birthday cookie (Carolina Panther colors) and cousins

The birthday boy with Aunt Annette and Uncle Phil

Ooohhh Connor loves that frosting!

November 26

Happy Thanksgiving!    We started the day by all going to 9:00 Mass for my Mom.   While the guys took the boys to Cracker Barrel, we girls tackled the kitchen and started preparing some hors d'oeuvres and then other goodies for the Thanksgiving feast.    Ryan called late morning and we all got to talk to him - a REAL treat!!!   Went to Anne and Patrick's at 1:00 and what a fun, delicious day we had...the cousins all enjoyed each other and some of the big folks enjoyed Texas Hold'em poker and others, played dominoes.

The Thanksgiving table complete with beautiful centerpiece which Ryan sent me.

We girls enjoying a toast with delicious cranberry punch that Annette made

Chef Patrick making the gravy as the bird waits to be carved

Grandma and Grandpa with their 5 grandsons
We certainly give thanks for these little guys!

November 25

We spent a fun morning at the Ropp Dairy Farm with all 5 boys, Michael and Brooke.    Michael has been here several times in years past as the Ropps were our boys' 4-H leaders.   The grandsons had so much fun with all the animals (llamas, Jersey cows, kitties, and Tom the Turkey).    The boys enjoyed seeing how cheese is made, got to sit on the tractor and climbed into the combine.   It was a neat learning experience on the farm and we bought some delicious cheese to take home!

Connor milking the cow

"Amanda" getting friendly with Drew

Brady with Tom the Turkey

Davis pets one of the calves

Liam feeds "Amanda"

Philip and Annette arrived in the afternoon.....we all went to Green Gables, a favorite hangout famous for their cheeseburgers.

Davis, Brady and Connor

Drew and Liam

November 24

I went with Michael, Brooke, and all 5 grandsons to the Sugar Grove Nature Center.    What a fun morning we had and the boys just ran and ran!   Here are some highlights:

Connor, Davis, Brady, Drew and Liam in the "Nut House"

Here's our boys - front and center on stage

Brady and Liam shoveling sand

Drew and Davis


Grandma and her boys

November 23

Mark and I, Michael, Brooke, Drew, Davis and Brady all took off in the morning (after Dunkin Donuts) to visit the Great Grandparents - 1st stop was to see Great Grandma Ruth and Great Grandpa Harland and wow....we had a great fried chicken dinner with all the trimmings!!!    Then to see Great Grandpa Pete.    We helped him decorate his Christmas tree, picked up his mail and had snacks with Daddy from the room downstairs!

Great Grandma Ruth and Great Grandpa Harland with the boys

Great Grandpa Pete and his North Carolina great grandsons

Brady trimming the tree

Brooke trims Grandpa's nails

Really cool plane that Davis built

November 22

It's Sunday...............Michael, Brooke and the boys arrived yesterday afternoon - lively times around our house!   Anne, Patrick and boys came over and what fun for the 5 boy cousins to hang out!

Went to church at 10:00 - beautiful day to be out and about...

Mark, Drew and Davis went for a bike ride; later Brooke and I rode the bikes to some fun shops!

Sweet Brady playing with the bowling pins and ball.

The kids/kiddies at Avanti's for dinner and then followed by Mark and I giving a presentation to our boating friends on "Alaska"

Beautiful Christmas cactus which our friend/neighbor, Candy has "plant-sat" for while we were traveling.   My Mom always had beautiful plants and she would be so proud!!!

November 20

We got together with Wayne and Myrna, long-time friends (Mark and Wayne used to work together).  We had a great dinner at Outback and so much fun catching up

Myrna and Wayne

November 15

We had breakfast at the Waffle House in Louisville and enjoyed eating and visiting with Jim (Mark's brother) and Lydia.    Instead of the interstates we took the rural route home.   The last 1 1/2 hours, we had rain and it hasn't stopped!!!   Sounds like a wet, cool week ahead!

Lydia and Jim

November 14

We left at 7:00 today for Louisville..........stopped for breakfast and then shopped a bit in Indianapolis.   It was a lovely day - sunny and warm (hit 71 at one point)!   We were here to celebrate Mark's sister, Sharon's marriage to Darrell.   We went to 5:00 Mass and then had a lovely dinner and party.   Great to all be together and welcome Darrell to the family!  Here are a few nice memories:

Darrell and Sharon

Grandpa and Grandma

Played Hand & Foot at the hotel after the party.
Back row:   Sue, Karen, Sharon, Darrell and Beth
Front row:  Doris, Joan, Pat, Janet and Lydia

November 13

Wrapped more gifts and had a nice dinner at Central Station and catch-up with long-time friends, Lee and Tamara.

November 12

Whew...........what a wild and busy week.    Mark and I have been cleaning out our basement and he hauled 2 truck loads to Home Sweet Home Mission.    Also been Christmas shopping, wrapping for Adopt-a-Family, having lunch with friends, dinner with our neighbor, Joe and a visit with friends to talk about Alaska.   Went to a Veteran's Day program and lunch with Exchange Club and today, took my Dad to eye appointment and out for lunch.

Tonight we have Liam and Connor - always a fun time!    They played with legos that their Mommy and Uncles Michael, Philip and Ryan so enjoyed many years ago.....

 What shall we build with all these legos?

November 7

Happy Birthday to Mark!!!    And what a fantastic day it was.....picture-perfect weather (November has been so incredible after wet, chilly October).    He talked to his parents, my Dad, all our kids (including Ryan from the Persian Gulf) and grandsons!    Lots of good wishes via e-mail and phone calls, cards and even birthday cake from our neighbor!    Had some delicious steaks on the grill for dinner!

We started watching "Carrier" last night.   It is a 10-part documentary that was on PBS several months ago.   We had just seen a small part of it, but now have the DVD and each night watch 2-3 segments.   It's all about life aboard the USS Nimitz (Ryan's ship) and so-very-interesting!    Takes on a whole new perspective of what day-to-day life is like on a carrier with 5,000 shipmates.

Grandpa, Liam and Connor opening birthday presents...

November 5

We are home!   Another pretty day!   Unpacked and settled in!   I got a haircut and visited with some of the neighbors!

November 4

Happy Birthday to my Aunt Marian and friend, Barb!!!!   We are in Lebanon, IN tonight after another beautiful day for traveling with lots of sunshine and fall colors.

On October 25th there was a terrible rock slide on I-40 near the NC/TN border causing all 4 lanes to be closed.  The clean-up and repairs to fix  could take 4 months and cost $10 million.   We were rerouted to the north and back west.

Tomorrow, home sweet home!    Sure enjoyed our adventures on Catrina and seeing new territory on the water!    Here's 2 more pics of the boys taken this morning.

Drew (4th grade) and Davis (2nd grade) off to another school day!

Sweet Brady before pre school

November 3

Beautiful day in North Carolina...after running errands and finishing up all the organizing and stowing on Catrina, we left New Bern at 12:30.    Enjoyed the fall color along the way!   Tonight we are visiting Brooke and the boys (Michael is traveling).    Great to be here and hang out with our sweet NC grandsons




November 2

A chilly, dreary day in New Bern, but we got an early start to the day with shopping at Wal Mart and Lowe's, breakfast at Waffle House and back to Catrina to organize more stuff.   Mark and Barbara picked us up at 9:15 and we drove around New Bern and enjoyed all the charm of this little southern town.    We visited the Tryon Palace, home of the first royal governor of North Carolina.    If you're ever in these parts, it's a "must see" attraction along with all the lovely old homes.

We had a truly southern lunch at the Chelsea Cafe - "shrimp and grits" - oh my.....another winner!    Spent the afternoon on Catrina with Mark still organizing.   Drove to Mark and Barbara's home for excellent dinner and conversation!   Said our good byes and hope we can meet up in FL this winter!

The Tryon Palace

Pat, Mark and Barbara admiring the beautiful gardens

Another little ditty for New is the birthplace of Pepsi Cola in 1898!

November 1

 After enjoying 80 degrees yesterday, we left Belhaven this morning in much cooler (60), windy, rainy conditions.    We cruised 63 miles and had 1 hour of wild & whoolly waves......not my thing!!!   We arrived in Bridgeton, NC this afternoon and this completes the first part of our journey of getting Catrina to Florida.   It's sure been a fun 5 days in all new territory of boat travel for us!    Friends from Racine who were dock mates for several years came on board this afternoon and what fun we had catching up.    Mark and Barbara retired to New Bern (just across the Neuse River) from Bridgeton 4 years ago.    We had an excellent dinner at MJ's Raw Bar downtown.    Tomorrow, the plan is for Mark and Barbara to show us around New Bern and visit the Tryon Palace.   We also have several things to finish up on Catrina in preparation for leaving her for 1 month.

Barbara and Mark

Some interesting facts about New was the first capital of North Carolina; home of the state's first printing press; first publicly chartered school; home of the first motion picture theater and the first to hang electric Christmas lights above city streets.   It is also the home of  popular author, Nicholas Sparks.
More ditties on this charming southern city coming tomorrow....