Sunday, January 23, 2011

Busy Me

I haven't had a lot of 'quiet time' to work on the blog for the past few weeks. As expected, my parents arrived on January 4th. My Mom wasted no time in scheduling a whole bunch of "projects" to occupy our time. My Dad, who takes a much more laid back approach to visiting, has kept himself busy in different ways.

The first two days of my parent's visit was spent adjusting their body clocks to California time. The weather has been superb, with temperatures in the 70's and 80's. My parents have been taking advantage of the warmth with daily walks - taking a favorite nature trail along the nearby protected Canyon ridge. There have been many reported sightings of coyote, mountain lions and beautiful Golden Hawks in the area, though they haven't run into any of these creatures... yet!

One of the first "projects" my Mom and I tackled was refinishing our patio furniture. Though we prepared well for the task, it took a lot longer than expected. Our glass top table is unique - it is rectangular in shape and can comfortably seat 8. It was a rare find when we purchased it back in 1998. (At that time, Hechingers was going out of business and we got an awesome deal!). We had to drive to 3 different stores to procure the matching chairs. The set has been moved to 5 different homes and really needed to be freshened up. We sanded, primed and painted the table trim, legs and all 6 chairs in one day. It was a long day!! Results were great, though:

My Mom was also on hand to see the "fruition" of her efforts from her last visit... We had planted a lemon tree in a container last November. When we had the sprinkler system and sod installed last April, I moved the tree from the container to a small planting area in the backyard. We're finally seeing lemons on the tree which made my Mom nearly squeal with delight!

Josie has been absolutely overjoyed to have her Grandmom here. Everyday she custom orders her breakfast: pancakes, yokey eggs, bacon, english muffins - you name it, Grandmom makes it! They play cards together in the afternoon, arrange Josie's stuffed animal collection, and generally just hang out together. My Mom is totally taken with Josie's friends who are at the house every afternoon. They play outdoors until it gets dark and Mom loves taking out little snacks and drinks to them while they play.

Maddie had finals this past week so she was really hitting the books. She did manage to squeeze some time for mischief with her Pop-Pop though. The two of them have always been as thick as thieves - and my Dad takes great pleasure in having Maddie chauffeur him around in her car. No complaints from anyone as they always return with Maddie's gas tank having been filled up by Pop and some extra change jingling in her pocket! My Dad is also loving the fact that the football games start at 10AM out here. Although, his usual routine of having a beer while he watches the game seems a bit inappropriate at that time of day!

Mom has helped me execute a few of the plans I had on hold, waiting for her input. I found some decorative items for the kitchen that I wasn't sure about... she thought they were nice so I went ahead with them. She also motivated me to get the upstairs hallway squared away. I had all the items (tables, original watercolor paintings we purchased in China and a few of my framed photographs from our trip to China in 2006) and I had an idea of how I wanted to use them. My Mom just jumps right in and says "Well, if you don't like it, you can always change it". Right she is!

The top photo is what my desk looked like this morning - covered with all the things I still need to get to... returning the Ariel princess shoes that are too small for Josie; putting photos on CDs for my sister and my sister-in-law; scanning the kids award certificates and other important documents; flight arrangements for our summer vacation (can I just tell you that airfare prices for the summer are RIDICULOUS!!!); and filing of my genealogy records. My cousin, Liz, in Sheffield, England just sent a package of photos to me this week. More lovely photos of my Grandmom in her youth - which I just love having. I have to get them scanned and then get the photos and documents entered into my REUNION software.

My parents left yesterday on a 7 day cruise from LA to Mexico. They've not taken a cruise in a few years and they really splurged with a mini-suite for this trip. We were all so excited for them and I know they are going to have a great time.

I will enjoy having my computer and plenty of 'quiet time' this week... maybe I can knock out a few of my tasks and get my desk cleared off a bit! I'll let you know how I make out! 'Till next time... Have a great week!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Visit That Made My Heart Sing!

Last Night we had a wonderful visit with our friends, Tom & Marlene. It had been about 10 years since we sat in the same room and shared so many laughs. Tom & Marlene are in California to escape the cold of St. Louis. I believe they are golfing their way up the coast from San Diego - then heading to Palm Desert for more golfing and visiting. I think their trip should be called the Tom & Marlene Reunion tour! They are visiting so many friends along the way - Tom's logistical prowess is really being put to use!

I met Tom & Marlene when I was waiting tables in Annapolis, MD. They had been visiting the United States Naval Academy - their daughter Megan had been accepted to the Academy and they were getting the lay of the land. We struck up a conversation as I took their order. I think that day we spent maybe two hours exchanging stories and laughing quite a bit. It was instant chemistry and the start of a decades long friendship.

Once Megan was through the roughest part of her plebe (freshman) year, Tom & Marlene visited Annapolis about once a month. They always came by to share time with me - if I wasn't working they would visit me at home. Back then, 'home' was my apartment with my dear friend Karen. We lived on Prince George Street, in the heart of historic Annapolis and just two blocks from the main gate of the Academy.

Through the 4 years that Megan was at the Academy, we came to know each other's families. I visited St. Louis and went to see Kelly, Tom & Marlene's younger daughter, at her college. My parents shared Sunday dinner with T&M before they would catch the late flight out of BWI for home.

When I was pregnant with Maddie, Tom & Marlene were so solid in their support and friendship - I honestly don't know what I would have done without their constant love and attention. Marlene considers Maddie "her baby" . Last night, you would have heard the squeals of delight from both of them half way down the block. Tom seemed thrilled to see Maddie so 'grown up' and I think she's now the same height as him, if not a shade taller! And, Josie took immediately to her Uncle Tom - playing piano for him and sharing her silly bandz. This is a huge deal in our house, as our Josie is the most reserved child with those she doesn't know well.

Tom & Marlene are now the grandparents of 5 beautiful souls: Megan and her husband, Chuck have Patrick, Brendan and little Colleen. Kelly and her husband, Steve, have two daughters - Peyton, who is the same age as Josie, and Taylor. I can't tell you how much I adore my extended Midwest family! I can guarantee that the girls and I will be visiting St. Louis soon. Aunt Marlene would like Maddie to see some Mid West colleges and Josie MUST share some Princess Time with Peyton, Taylor and 'Sunny'!!

Josie's meltdown at about 8:15PM marked the end of our visit. Poor child didn't have a nap and was up at 5:30AM. She really was upset and told me directly, "Nobody is paying attention to me!" Ooops! There goes that Mother of Year Award again :-(

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Visiting the Rose Parade Floats

We were up bright and early this morning to make the hour drive up to Pasadena to see the floats featured in the Tournament of Roses parade. The clouds were dark and threatening to rain. Temperature was about 43 degrees and we saw snow on the distant mountaintops. It was a beautiful drive.

We watched the parade from the comfort of home yesterday. I have to say that one cannot fully appreciate the beauty of the floats (even HD!) until you see them up close and personal. The attention to detail is astounding. I tried to capture some very close shots so that the details could be seen. These are some of my favorites from the visit:

Anheuser-Busch float

HGTV Dream House float

Only one organization provided this type of chart... I really enjoyed locating each of the species used on the float.

City of Beverly Hills float detail - Spectacular!