Monday, November 29, 2010

Giving Thanks in Popular Bluff

That's what my youngest brother always called it when he was little - after all, what seven-year-old knows what a poplar tree is? So "popular" it was... and now that we're all grown, we just don't get there often enough.

So it was a special treat to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving in Poplar Bluff this past weekend at our grandparent's home. We had a smaller than usual Thanksgiving gathering, with Ann, Tara, Thomas, and Rob and families unable to make the trip due to work, other family gatherings and distance; but none had a better reason than Michele & Rob, since she's due with baby #3 any day now. (Can't wait for that phone call, when we find out if it is a boy or girl!)

So it was just Susan and her family, Dave and me (Jace was with dad's family) and Mom/Dad and Grandmother and Grandpa. But even though it was a small group, we had such a nice visit, and loved the warm, cozy beautiful home that Grandmother and Grandpa have lived in for the past couple of years.

Grandmother promised she wouldn't go overboard trying to cook everything, and she kept her word but still put together a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner - Dave helped with the ham, and made some sweet potatoes.

Dad enjoyed the fire in the living room, relaxing and reading the paper, and soon it was naptime.

The Zartman boys enjoyed their time, since they had the Wii to play games, but they're looking forward to hangin with Jace in just a few weeks for Christmas.

Grandpa presented Grandmother with a very sweet card for their 57th anniversary on Friday morning, and they then celebrated with all of us at Myrtle's Cafe. Now that Grandpa is retired, this is his daily morning routine to see all the other guys in town and have some coffee. I like to go with him early when we visit, and enjoy a cup of coffee with him and the guys.

So Myrtle's was how we wrapped up our Friday morning before heading home, and I understand that Grandmother and Grandpa got in the car a few hours later and headed to the Branson Landing for a romantic anniversary weekend. (Are you taking notes, Dave and my BILs? A romantic weekend, after 57 years of marriage!)

It was a wonderful weekend, and I was so glad that we were able to celebrate at Grandmother and Grandpa's home, thankful to be with what family could be there, and ready to see the rest of the family at Christmas.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A night of "Remember when...."

Last weekend was a blast from the past for my husband, as we attended the wedding of a one of his college friends, Busby, who was getting married for the first time. I had heard stories about college days with Shawn, Hartman, Fish and Kidder over the last couple of years, and it was great to finally meet Fish and Kidder and their wives. I had already been fortunate enough to meet and spend time with Shawn, and his awesome wife Lucas, who live in St. Paul; they were down to the lake with us a couple years ago, but that was the last time we'd hung out.

Lucas is a photographer, and I always love seeing all of her photos on her blog. This one below was just with her little point and shoot camera, but she makes pictures so fun, both the ones she takes AND the ones she's in. And Dave liked her tip of always shooting self-portraits from a higher vantage point- like the pic below- no extra chin!

We enjoyed the wedding and reception at a renovated historic firehouse in downtown Springfield, and then a party afterwards at one of the guys' home - and all with the convenience of our own chaffeur, 16 year old Neil, who was happy to collect the cab fare to schlep us to and from each location!

Enjoyed Thanksgiving yesterday with family and back home today. Hope everyone has safe travels and wonderful holiday.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Unpacking and Relaxing

It has just been one of those times where there is so much going on that the last thing on my mind is take time to sit down and write about it. That sounds so negative, like everything is bad, but it isn't. All is good, at work and at home. Long story in a nutshell, we found an incredible deal of a home, right down the street, almost twice as much room, and we were going to rent our current home to a friend. We had a contract on the other home for almost 90 days (and no, I didn't talk about it in the blog, wanted to wait until it was finalized) and then it didn't work out - after packing up our entire home, hiring a painter for the new home, and all that jazz. So the last three-plus weeks have been spent UNpacking all of our things, putting new carpet in our bedrooms, and trying to juggle all the normal everyday life stuff at the same time.

I do love our house, and we have both agreed over the past few weeks that it all turned out for the best. With the uncertainty of the economy, it absolutely is the best financial decision to stay put right here, and not to have two mortgages or homes, even with one being a rental.

This weekend is the first time I'm feeling like I am back to normal at home, can just sit and breathe and relax - things are, for the most part, back in place. One of our projects as we have settled back in has been to convert the third bedroom into what I'm calling the "game room". As I just wrote that phrase, it made me think of the Seinfeld episode where George's dad converts one of their bedrooms into a game room so he and friends can have a man room to play pool, but it is such a tight squeeze that they can't even extend the pool cues to play without hitting the wall! Our's isn't like that - no pool table, just a new leather loveseat and flat screen TV for Jace and friends to enjoy X-box and TV. A good compromise for a second living area, which was one of the things we really were looking forward to gaining in the other home. But this works well, and Jace really likes it.

It has been a whirlwind week, we were out of town last Sunday and Monday (more on that in a minute) and then getting the house back together in time for my parents' visit this weekend. I was glad that they came to visit, it certainly did help me put things in high gear to get everything unpacked and back in order (we just didn't let them into the garage to see the boxes and other stuff that isn't yet put away!). Paige also came home this weekend, her only trip home this semester - she is so busy every weekend with studying, so we were very lucky that she did have time to break away, and Jace and my parents were thrilled to see her. She and Dave made their curry and rice recipe last night; it actually isn't a spicy Indian curry, but rather an Asian curry that Dave's mom taught Paige to make.

After enjoying the curry and rice, Jace got the chess board out and Paige sat down to play a game with him. He joined the chess club at school a couple of weeks ago, and was happy to have someone to play him. Now that baseball season is over, he's signed up for a couple of after school programs - he did cross country after school for eight weeks this fall, and now chess club runs for the next two months. He's already looking forward to challenging my brother Thomas at Christmas, since Thom is who taught him to play chess a couple years ago.

Speaking of Thomas, Dave and I went to KC on Sunday last weekend and met him for lunch along with Paige and her boyfriend, Ryan. Thom was off work for the day on Sunday, and we were in town to see the Zac Brown Band that night at the Sprint Center in the Power & Light district. I didn't get to see his new apartment since we were crunched for time, so he and I made plans for me to come back up after Christmas one weekend, and get together for a day/evening.

He did stay with us until early evening, and met our friends from Dave's work, Dawn and David, who organized a group of us to see ZBB.

I'd not been to the Power & Light district, and it really was a lot of fun. We had a room at the Hilton there by the arena, and started the evening out watching the Chiefs play the Raiders at McFadden's. The boys had a couple of drinks early on, but since the other guys had to work the next day, they were pretty low key with the cocktails the rest of the evening.

The concert was great - one of my favorite things, to see live music. I'm not a huge country fan, but do like a few singers/bands, and the Zac Brown Band is one of them. Some great musicians, and a lot of fun to hear live. Dave likes their "beach music" which is along the lines of Jimmy Buffett, one of their influences. For me, when Zac Brown talked about growing up in Georgia, playing guitar and listening to James Taylor's Greatest Hits when all his friends were listening to Nirvana - that had me clapping and cheering, and our young friends (Dawn and David) laughing at me. Call me old, I guess, but JT is a classic.

We both enjoyed the evening, and have already bought tickets to head back this summer and see Kenny Chesney and the Zac Brown Band at Arrowhead Stadium - AND we bought an extra pair of tickets as well, should any family or friends want to join us!

I'll finish up now, so I can settle in and catch up on my DVR'd Thursday night TV tonight, while Dave and Neil are out in the living room watching a DVD on fly fishing and preparing for a full day of fishing tomorrow. I'll be cozy in bed while they are up and out the door at 6:30 AM - as luck would have it, in our first REAL cold weekend of the year.