New Yer's Eve - 2013

Can't believe it's the last day of much to be thankful for and so many wonderful memories!    Although the year started with the sudden death of Mark's dad on January 9th, we are all richer for having known this wonderful, humble man who was a great role model for his family and friends!
Two new babies joined our family and what a joy both Luke and Blair are....and very thankful for our other 5 grandsons (Drew, Davis, Liam, Brady and Connor.)    Our health and good travels are high up on the list, too.
Mark and I took Mike and Theresa to the airport this morning for their flight back to Chicago.   We then went to Grampa's for breakfast (a favorite from when the kids lived in Dania Beach).
Ryan is back in Pensacola.....
 .     The water was turned off for 2 hours while Philip and Mark worked on the irrigation system.    
Got the house tidied up, laundry going full speed and then Annette, Luke and Grandma went on a little shopping jaunt to Target and Costco.   We found a few specials left from Christmas at 50-70% off.
A good little shopper
Annette, Luke and I went for a walk in the neighborhood and always enjoy the pretty decorations.   Here's Santa - Florida style!
Ole Santa on the beach with his shades, drink in hand, under a palm tree
Philip grilled some delicious rib eyes and shrimp for our New Year's Eve dinner!    We are all tired and do not plan to ring in the New Year....not even up to games or cards!    So.....
here's wishing you all a  VEERRY

Monday - December 30

Hi all.....been one week since I did some blogging......we've been having so much fun in Florida at Philip, Annette and Luke's home, along with Ryan, Theresa (Mark's sister) and Mike.    We all enjoyed Luke's 1st Christmas - of course, he was more excited about all the boxes, paper, tags, etc.   
Hard to believe Christmas is over and about to ring in 2014.     These game fanatics have been enjoying their marathon of games from morning to late night or sometimes the wee hours of the morning!    Ryan has been part of this "game weekend" for the past 17 years.   Mark and I have joined them for euchre, dominoes, Shanghai  and Tripoli.     The eating has taken on new levels - so much good stuff in the house and just enjoying each and every morsel!

Mark and I have Daisy in her spot about 7 miles from here till Saturday when we'll leave for Marathon.    Got things organized and we'll be ready to roll.   But till then, lots more time to cuddle and enjoy Luke - what a delightful, happy boy he is at 8 months!
In between all the games and eating, we gals managed several trips (walking) around the neighborhood with Luke and Mark and I have taken a daily bike ride going further each day.   Tine to get these bods in shape!    Also had lots of fun in the pool and hot tub.
Our niece Cory got engaged Christmas Eve to Kyle and are planning an August 16th wedding!    That makes 4 weddings in '14 (2 nieces and 2 nephews all on Mark's side). weddings and family gatherings

I am getting oh-so-so close to crawling....

Ryan and Luke playing Dominion

Grandpa and I took Luke for a stroll early this morning and let the others sleep in....

Last night for all of us together in the hot tub....FUN week!
Annette, Mike, Philip, Luke Ryan, Theresa, Pat, Mark
Mike, Theresa, Pat, Philip, Ryan, Annette
Mike, Theresa, Philip, Ryan, Annette, Mark

Monday - December 23

Very cold today, but sun was shining brightly.   Took the boys to our Monday morning breakfast outing.    I called Marty to get the latest.....he's doing ok, just lying low for awhile and anxious to hear what his heart doctor says - possibly a triple bypass?
Connor had received a $25 gift card at the family Christmas drawing Saturday night, so after breakfast we went to Barnes and Noble and he was very nice to share with Liam and each of the boys picked out some books, activities, etc.  
Searching for just the right book
Home for lunch and then I ran "one" more errand and got a manicure.    Played card games with the boys in the afternoon.   I got the last of the Christmas decorations, clothing, sox, jewelry, etc., put away and now ready to bring on the shorts, t-shirts and flip flops!!!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my Dad today....he would've been 96.   Thinking back to 1 year ago today when ALL my family were together at Bob and Linda's.

We had dinner with Anne, Patrick, Liam and Connor at Firestone Pizza - very good and our last time to all be together until they come to Florida for spring break the end of March - yeah!

Mark will be winterizing the house tomorrow and I will spend some time with Liam and Connor at their house till Patrick takes us to the airport for 5:15 flight - Florida, here we come!

Sooo looking forward to spending Luke's 1st Christmas with him - and his Mommy and Daddy, Uncle Ryan and Mark's sister Theresa and Mike.

Wishing you all a very


Friday-Saturday, December 20-22

We are happy to be home with all the weather conditions this weekend; but what fun we had!
Friday, Bob, Linda, Dick (cousin) and Mary came in the afternoon and after some drinks, snacks and visiting, we set off for Rosie's and a delicious dinner followed by the
WONDERFUL, VERY ENJOYABLE Martina McBride "Joyful Christmas 2013" concert.   Along with a few of her country hits, she belted out all the Christmas classics in that rich, clear, beautiful voice accompanied by a 12-piece orchestra and singers and did 7 wardrobe changes!   The choreography was outstanding!     Sure left there on a "high"! 

Before the show....
Pat, Mary, Linda, Mark, Bob, Dick 
 Saturday we were off with Anne, Liam and Connor (Patrick played at a big Christmas party in town) - weather was iffy, but made it ok and stopped in Mendota at the Lutheran Home to visit my Aunt Marian and cousin, Jim.   

Liam, Connor and their Great Aunt Marian

Jim and the boys

And then to Mark's family Christmas celebration starting with lunch, visiting, cards, 4:30 Mass followed by big catered dinner.   Lots of chatter and kinfolk, meeting new boy/girl friends, enjoying the babies, food galore, presents, games and on and on!!!!     I'm sure "Dad" was looking down on us and smiling at his family having such a grand time!
It was icy as we traveled back to the hotel.    More games and fun in the meeting room - some into the wee hours of the morning.    Woke up to 3" of snow.....after a quick breakfast, we picked up Anne
and boys who had spent the night at Mark's sister, Karen's home.    Stopped for a brief visit with his Mom and then on home.   Roads were icy and slushy in spots.    And finally, about 1 hour from home, all was clear.    Stopped at McDonalds for late breakfast and home at noon.    What a fun surprise the boys found when they got home....Elfie was hanging out on the kitchen counter in a pile of "snow" (flour)....
"Snow Angel" Elfie
Mark got the truck all cleaned, filled with gas and tucked away in garage for the winter.   Unpacked, did some laundry and glad to be home and out of all this wintry weather.    It is supposed to be very cold the next 2 days, so we can't wait to get to Florida.

  Michael took his boys to the Panthers/Saints game today in Charlotte.     And here they are on national TV.... 

 Go Panthers....Drew is really contemplating...
Panthers won 17-13
And here's little Sis in some Christmas finery... 

That big bow makes such a fashion statement

Fun little shoes

And the news out of Florida today is that Luke has a tooth coming in!

Just in time for Christmas - my first tooth!

Liam and Connor came over this afternoon and are spending the night.   

 Connor and I played Blitz (wish Brady had been with us as he professes to be "The Blitz Master"!)   Mark and Liam played "21". 

So good to see lights on in Marty's house tonight - he came home from the hospital late this afternoon.    Still no results from all his tests and his heart doctor is out of town till after Christmas.   AARRGGHHH...

We had soup (tomato and chicken noodle) and grilled cheese sandwiches for supper.   Mother Hubbard's cupboards and fridge are getting pretty bare....

Boys are watching  "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"!
    I'm gathering the little bit of Christmas d├ęcor and starting to put away!

  Boys took baths, had a snack, said their prayers and off to dreamland!


Thursday - December 19

My day has been blurry................went for eye exam, got the eyes dilated and so...oh well, all went well although probably in 1-2 years, will need cataract surgery!   Mark and I are enjoying a rare day at HOME!  
Since my eye doctor's office is in the hospital, we went to see Marty for a very brief visit.   He's   hooked up to a bunch of machines and having tests today.   He was in good spirits
Did a little packing for FL (our clothes and most of our stuff are already on Daisy), so should be able to travel "light"?
 We are so blessed with wonderful neighbors who keep an eye on our house when we're gone!    Marty (east); Joe (west); Sue (south); Candy (north).   Joe is a former police detective and Sue was an IL state trooper.   Pretty good protection eh?
Keeping a close eye on the weather this weekend as there is talk of  freezing rain, sleet, snow depending on how system travels.    My brother, Bob and Linda and cousin, Dick and Mary are coming tomorrow.   We have tickets to see Martina McBride's Christmas show, so hope they get here and back home safely.    And Saturday, we are off to party with Mark's big family!  They will be coming from CA, AZ, KS, VA, KY and all over IL.
First Christmas without the Patriarch of the clan.....sure will miss "Dad".
As the day went on, it just got gloomier and drearier and then news that Marty has 5 blockages in the lower ventricle of his heart.   They are not able to do stents cause of twisted arteries.    Tomorrow they will do a viability test to determine if he can have open heart surgery?    We feel so for his 4 kids....4 years ago on December 29th, they lost their Mother, Angie.  
Blair is 5 months today!   Our little sweetheart is growing up so fast.....2 new pics of Blair and Davis

And Luke.....VaRoom  and away he goes
Anne and the boys came over after supper.   Patrick and his band were practicing at the house, so...Anne did Christmas cards and I played war with the boys

Hanging out with Grandpa

Wednesday - Deember 18

Brilliant blue skies and sunshine today, but windy and felt cold despite the 35 degree high!    Mark and I exercised, Claire picked me up (she's a great chauffeur) and we met Margie at Bob Evans for breakfast and long chat.    Sooo happy for Margie who has had cancer twice and now in complete remission.   Prayers are ongoing for her, but what a wonderful Christmas present!!!
Margie, Claire, Pat
Came home, did some laundry and then back to eat lunch with Exchange Club friends - said my good-byes to this great bunch as several will be snowbirds like us and next spring till we're all back home.    I went to Fresh Market this afternoon and then got a pedicure (ready for Florida with my  toes painted "Tropical Punch").
Went to Liam and Connor's Christmas program at school tonight - Pre-school thru 5th grade. 
  Patrick did the sound and lights - very enjoyable and the huge crowd loved the extra special effects.
Pictures didn't turn out very good, but here are our little guys...
Connor and 2nd graders singing their hearts out

Liam in his bow tie
Sad and scared to hear that our neighbor and dear friend, Marty had a heart attack this afternoon.    Saying lots of prayers tonight....

Tuesday - December 17

The morning was dreary, snowy and windy, but then the afternoon was bright and sunny!     Got my wrapping station in the basement cleaned up and put away!    Did some laundry and Claire picked me up at 11 for lunch at Biaggi's where we met Kathy......always a gabby time with these good friends, and along with a glass of wine and delicious lunch, we did chat non-stop.
Kathy, Claire and Pat
enjoying a Christmas luncheon and last time we're all together until Florida
Today's mail brought a bunch of cards, letters and pictures - love it!!!   So fun to connect at least this special time of year and catch up with family and friends near and far.

Mark and I went to the communal penance service at St. Mary's tonight.   Beautiful full moon out there but it is COLD!   

Monday - December 16

Up early to exercise and some more snow blowing for Mark as we have a fresh blanket of white overnight.    Breakfast with the neighbors and then ran a few errands including dropping off all the baby clothes at Birthright with much gratitude!    Always makes me feel so good that we Sublettians can do our small part in helping out these babies and moms in need.
Did some tidying up around the house, got some of our stuff together that we're taking to FL and Mark went to the Red Cross and donated blood.
One week ago today I mailed a package to Brady in NC - a tin of the pretzel, rollo and m and m treats.   Gal at post office said they would arrive on Wednesday.....well, they just got there today!    But so fun to get a phone call from Brady after he got home from school thanking Grandma.   And then the extra treat of face time and seeing Blair bounce and jump around in her jump-a-roo!    She was so happy!
And here's Luke and Pooh just hangin' out this afternoon,..
Ahhh..the good life down here in sunny Florida!
Our neighbors, Fari and Mandy put a bit of festive cheer on their camper!
Tonight we had dinner at  Mandarin Garden and great chat with long-time friends, Steve and Peggy over  several cups of tea.   It had been a long time since we were together, so fun catching up AND all of us eager to get to Florida!!!

Steve and Peggy

Sunday - December 15

Sunny and bright when we went to 8:00 Mass; came out of church and dreary and cloudy and that's the way it was rest of the day.    I was home for a short time and left to pick up Ann and then 3 more Sublettians (Jane, Marilyn and Deb) in ElPaso.    Off we went to the Senica Oak Ridge Country Club for Christmas luncheon/gift exchange and non-stop chatter with our fellow Sublettians (14).  
Besides our re-gift exchange, we bring baby items for Birthright and once again, these good friends came thru with a large array of darling baby clothing, blankets, bibs, sox, diapers, etc.
Just a few of the many outfits we oohed and aahed over
3 pretty ladies...Marilyn, Debbi and Anita
My Sublettian friends
As we enter into the last full week before Christmas, I wish you happy days of shopping, wrapping, baking, card writing, partying, staying stress-free and healthy and please don't forget...
 The REASON for the SEASON!

Saturday - December 14

Woke up to a beautiful "Winter Wonderland" - 4" of pristine white covering everything.
Mark was out using the snow blower early.....hope it's a "one" time job this year?  We were off to Liam and Connor's hockey game.    Home for a bit and still snowing.  The Airstream camper in background belongs to our neighbors across the street.    They are parking in our side space for the winter - Mandy is totally refurbishing it!
Hockey stars!
Thinking of the families and victims from one year ago at Sandy Hook elementary.
God bless them all....
Love this photo taken yesterday in NYC - Ryan and photographer are following the formation
We went to Anne and Patrick's late morning for a very enjoyable afternoon celebrating Christmas!    Good snacks, opening presents, enjoying the boys with their gifts, playing euchre, boys out in the snow and delicious dinner from Biaggi's topped off with yummy chocolate lava cake (Mark's favorite) Anne made in the crock pot.

Boys in their new shirts....Connor (Notre Dame) and Liam (Blackhawks)

The anticipation of what's inside this big box?

Ahhhh....a Blackhawk shower curtain for the boys bathroom
One final picture before our goodbyes and taking some great memories of an early
Christmas 2013 celebration home with us.
Went to Gerry and Linda's for our Mid Illini party (boating friends).
Big crowd, lots of wonderful hors d'oeuvres and desserts, wine and wassail!


Friday - December 13

Up and at'em and off to 8:00 Mass.   Met Claire at church and then drove to her lovely home for delicious mimosas, hot cinnamon spiced tea and yummy pastries.    So fun being together and chatting the morning away...
This afternoon, the city came by with their equipment to dig up a tree stump.   When we were in NC for Thanksgiving, the city came and cut down the tree cause it had that emerald ash borer disease.    And now the stump is gone!    The tree was between the street and sidewalk, so belonged to them.   It was planted several years ago and had gotten to a nice height, but.....lots of trees in town were lost to this ash borer stuff.   Mark ran some errands when I got home
Digging up the stump with heavy-duty equipment
Been meaning to include a picture on the blog of this beautiful, bountiful Christmas cactus that Mark's Mom has in her front this flower and oh-so-pretty this time of year
 (My Mom always had one in full bloom, too).
Christmas cactus
 A pot of chili is simmering on the stove and we are hunkered down waiting for the
 flakes to fall....
Snow started around 5ish.    Around 5:40, my friend Allie texted that the Blue Angels were going to be on CBS news.    We quickly switched channels and got to see them do a flyover at Ground Zero and 1 World Trade Center (taped earlier this afternoon)!    The photographer was with Ryan taking photos.    Neat, but very quick!!!   Thanks again, Allie.   There's several pictures and video coverage online - Ryan texted how neat it was!!!
Enjoy your weekend!


Thursday - December 12

12-12-70......................43 years ago today, Mark and I became the proud and shocked parents of twins!!!   What great joy these two have brought us thru the years... 

Michael Mark
Michael and his family
Anne Kathryn
Anne and her family
We went to Lucca Grill for Italian and pizza, along with assorted little birthday cakes and presents!   
 Earlier today....
We woke up to 0 degrees with a -13 wind chill!    Hard to crawl out from those warm, flannel, snowman sheets.   We.bundled up and met friends, Henry and Helen for 7:15 breakfast at Shannon's!    Always so fun to be with them (Mark and Henry worked together for many years and now they are getting closer to retirement)!   Lots of laughs, memories and catching up on families and all the goings on in our lives!!!
Henry and Helen
I made 2 cheese balls and did some baking.....always get nostalgic this time of year sorting thru recipes and those old family favorites.    Just seeing my Mom's handwriting on the recipe cards brings on the memories and makes me so sad she's no longer here.  Mom's lebkuchen cookies (a lengthy process) was "her" specialty each my nephew, Jason is carrying on that tradition!
We did get to 28 degrees today.   SNOW coming tomorrow, especially at night with 3-5" predicted!
Michael and Anne!!!

Wednesday - December 11

Today was all about being with good friends, eating and trying to stay warm!    Another cold, cold day!    But warm and cozy indoors....starting with taking Mark to eye doctor for 7:30 appointment.8:15 Mass where I met Anita and then to Coffee Hound for coffee/pastries and good visit.    Anita just returned last night from a big cruise to Rio.    Our former neighbor, Paul gave Mark a ride home (eyes were dilated).
Then home for a bit till lunch at Brenda's - so much fun being with our Monday morning breakfast gals AND, "Aunt" Ginny who will be 101 on Friday.   Enjoyed a very yummy lunch in Brenda's lovely home beautifully decorated for Christmas.   

Norma, Sue, Sigrunn, Brenda, "Aunt" Ginny
Missed you, Donna Rae

 I got a manicure later and then ran some errands - only got to 18, so NOT fun going in and out, but you do what you gotta do!

More pigging out tonight (oink, oink)....Mark and I went to the Exchange Club party - dinner at The Ozark House (wonderful food) and good crowd of good friends in a festive setting!!!    It is currently 3 degrees!    Nighty Night!

Tuesday - December 10

The day started out at "ONE" degree (at 6:30).....and then slowly climbed to 5, 7, 9, 11 and got to 25, but we had 30 mph winds!   Enjoyed all the sunshine, though!  We exercised and watched the
Weather Channel hearing all about FL being thee best place to be!!!!    Two more weeks!
 I picked Donna Rae up at 10 and we ran around town shopping in and out of the stores having a fun girls day out.    Had a delicious lunch at A. Renee and then more shopping....nice ending was peppermint mochas (skinny) from Starbucks and then visit at she and Ed's apartment.
Mark kept the home fires burning..... remember Toad is in FL, so just have the truck,
 but working out ok.   
Worked on cards this getting the mail these days and seeing Christmas cards and packages delivered!   
When we were in Spain, we met Darla and Kim, two gals traveling together (hubbies were home doing the fall harvesting).   They live just 20 minutes away (small world) and were so fun.   Darla is a travel agent and invited us to come tonight to an informative, casual gathering to hear about trips she is planning.....European River Cruise, Alaska and New Zealand/Australia.   Especially enjoyed seeing Darla and Kim again and meet their husbands.    We plan to all get together (Paul and Kathy, too)  in the spring when we return from our travels south...
Pat, Darla, Kim