Saturday, December 27, 2014

Vennard Christmas 2014



Today we celebrated Christmas on Hubby's side of the family.  The Vennard Family Christmas was held at Peggy's house....aka the Old Vennard Family Homestead.

Noah chomps on some pre-dinner chocolate while Mom Wendy and Uncle Matthew look on.  Elsie is smiling in the background.


Cousin Gabriel very graciously shared his chair with Elsie.



Until Elsie found Aunt Peggy's favorite chair.





And finally settled in to share the chair with her brother Noah.


Kenny donned the hat to play Santa Claus.


Noah and Elsie (and Gabe) got plenty of gifts to open.   Yes, that is a gigantic "Whitman Sampler" that Elsie is sitting on, courtesy of Kenny.  Hubby ended out getting it in the gift swap!


Kenny gave us all the rules and passed out the numbers for the Yankee Swap.


"The Ove Glove" got exchanged with Jeanne for some Parker's Maple Syrup.


Jeanne couldn't believe she ended out with that "Ove Glove"!  Although there was an exchange after the gift swap was over and she ended out with some Memory Foam pillows.


Hubby's brother Doug holding his grandson, Gabe.   Gabe's dad Ryan.....Matthew (hidden) and Kenny.


Umpa gets to take home a "hopped up on sugar" Gabriel!


And this is how Hubby and I relaxed after a fun-filled crazy day with family!


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas with my Kids

We stretch out our Christmas partying in this household.   We started with my kids:

Tree and presents ready to go!


One of my Christmas angels.....Emily 


Memere and Audrey both rocking our Christmas Penguins


Jamie Nick and Doug



Pepere and Audrey 


Audrey loves the unicorn that Emily gave her


She's just gorgeous!


Audrey loved Memere's singing snowmen.  It didn't take her long to figure out how to press the button and make them play.


Emily shared her dessert cookie with Audrey....who loved it!


Our Christmas brunch  table


Pepere in his glory showing Audrey the fundamentals of the piano!


A little snuggle with Memere


Emily was our Santa Claus.....handing out the gifts


and opening them!


Audrey needed some coaching but caught on pretty quickly.


Audrey's walking!!  Here she goes over to get the snowman started,
then when  Mom picks her up she says "Walk!!"


video



Our Christmas gift opening always ends out in a paper fight!


video




Wednesday, November 26, 2014

100 Things I'm Thankful For......

1.  My Hubby - he is always at the top of the list because he's the thing I'm most thankful for.  He is patient, kind, smart, funny, sexy and he "gets" me.  I love him more than anything else in life.

2.  My son Doug -  he's such a good man.  He's a hard worker - he's managed to work his way from job to job and is very successful.  He's also a great Dad to his daughter.  She will always remember the wonderful times they've spent together.

3.  My son Nick - another good man.  Another hard worker.  He's been working for the same company since high school and I know they appreciate all he's done for them.  He's also a wonderful father to his daughter.....she is very blessed.

4.  My daughter Jamie - she's a strong, confident woman.  She works hard, is fun-loving and kind.  She's all a daughter should be and more. I treasure her friendship.

5.  Doug's wife Kara - she's a beautiful woman- a wonderful mother - a good wife to Doug.  She's very smart and is a valued teacher.  I love having her as another daughter.

6.  Nick's wife Kelly - she's also a beautiful woman - a wonderful mother and a good wife to Nick.  She's doing a fantastic job of raising Audrey and she makes Nick so happy.

7.  My granddaughter Emily - smart, funny, beautiful inside and out.   She's so much fun to be with and I love that she's so thoughtful and kind.

8.  My granddaughter Audrey - a sweet, sweet baby.  So smart - talking so much already!  and she loves to play with Memere and Pepere.

9.  My step-daughter Wendy - she is a very hard worker.  She's going to school, working and caring for two children.  A lot of work for anyone!  Yet she's always patient with her children and very thoughtful of her father.  She's a lovely lady.

10.  My step-son-in-law Allan - He's found his niche and is working hard to support his family.  He's a good Dad to his two children and he makes Wendy happy.

11.  My step-son Kenny - a smart, funny and creative guy.  He's got so much talent and I enjoy all his work.  He's loving toward his Dad and me.

12.  My step-son-in-law Matthew- another very talented guy.  He's working very hard to make his talent successful and he's succeeding!   He's the perfect husband for Kenny. They make each other very happy.

13.  My grandson Noah- a very sweet boy and super smart.  He just started kindergarten and took to it like a duck to water.  He's a joy to spend time with. I love taking him on train adventures.

14.  My granddaughter Elsie - she's an adorable girl - smart and happy.  She's always willing to go along with whatever Noah's doing.  They make a great team.

15.  My home - buying our house was the very best decision we've ever made.  It is our sanctuary.  I love when hubby and I get to spend time alone together in our house or yard.  And I love that I can fill it up with family and friends and enjoy being a  hostess.

16.  My brother John- he's a smart, hard-working, loving man who is always there when I need him -either for work or fun.  He's always got my back.  I love spending time with him.

17.  My sister-in-law Ruth - she's a loyal friend.  She's very generous and would do anything for you if you needed her.  She's a good friend to me.

18 - My niece Laura - a sweet young lady with the potential to do great things.  She's smart and kind.  And she's so enjoyable to spend time with.

19.  My Dad - I couldn't possibly love my Dad any more than I already do.   He's taught me so much.  I wouldn't be the woman I am today without him.

20.  My Mom - she was my Dad's other half.  She was a strong woman who taught me how to be a wife and mother.   She overcame many obstacles at the end of her life and did it with dignity and grace.  I strive to be like her.

21.  My friend Sylvie - we've been friends for a long time.  We met as Girl Scout leaders.  When I needed a job she put in a word for me and she is now my supervisor.  I'm very lucky to work with a good friend - she's a great boss and we still manage to be good friends outside of work.

22.  My friend Kay - it's not often you get to work with people you like so much.  Kay and I get along so well they call us "Lucy and Ethel".   I enjoy working with her and look forward to seeing her every day.

23.  My Girl Scout friends - besides Sylvie, we have five other friends who were once Girl Scout leaders who we still see often -  Gail, Sue F., Sue T., Debbie and Carol.  We get together as often as we can and still enjoy discussing kids, grandkids, weddings, family, etc.

24.  My job -  it's easy to complain about your job, but overall it's a job I enjoy.  I like customer service and enjoy making people happy.  It's interesting and keeps me on my toes.  The pay isn't bad and the bennies are pretty good.

25.  Hubby's job - it has its ups and downs.   There isn't a lot of work for him right now, so I'm thankful he's still employed.

26.  My friend Joan - she's my far-away friend.  We met 30 years ago and then she moved.  We've kept in touch via social media, and we get along like two peas in a pod.  We got the chance to visit this year, and it was the two most enjoyable days of our vacation.

27.  My friend GS - she's a wonderful hard-working woman.  She is kind, compassionate and really cares about other people and the world.  She's created such a fantastic environment for us to present our music.  I'm thankful I've been able to have some heart-felt conversations with her and get to know her better.

28.  My Friday night friends - too numerous to count.   They all have such a fun-loving attitude and joie de vive.   As a non-musician, I feel thankful that I've been accepted and encouraged to join in  the fun.

29.  TCPOE - "The Coolest Place on Earth".  That's what we've named our Friday night Open Mic.   It's become such a great routine for us to go there almost every Friday night and sing and enjoy the company of our friends.

30. Our vacation- we took "the trip of a lifetime" this year and it all went perfectly smoothly.  Hubby and I are so compatible when we travel.  We had a wonderful time.

31.  The resources we have.  We have enough money to support ourselves, eat, heat our home, pay our bills and still have some leftover for vacations and entertainment.  I'm thankful we are able to work and support ourselves.

32.  Everyone has jobs.  All my family who want to work have employment.  It's wonderful that  no one is struggling.

33.  Health - Hubby and I are so fortunate that we only have the ordinary ills of those our age.  And it's all taken care of with inexpensive medication.

34.  Healthcare - we are on a healthcare plan that is affordable and takes care of our needs.

And......in no particular order:

35.  Ice Cream
36.  Fresh Vegetables from my garden
37.  My backyard where I can sit and read and relax
38.  Campfires
39.  S'mores
40.  That Hubby likes to rake because I don't!
41.  Clean sheets
42.  Sewing
43.  Using my pottery wheel
44.  Reading
45.  My published book
46.  My Sunday newspaper
47.  Herbal Tea
48.  Auntie Izy
49.  Crockpots
50.  Exercise
51.  The new bike Hubby bought for my birthday
52.  Music
53.  The Dollar Store
54.  Freecycle
55.  Craig's List
56.  Perennial Flowers
57.  Gardening
58.  Hiking (or in our case - walking in the woods)
59.  The ocean
60.  Newburyport waterfront
61.  Canoeing  (aka Canoodling)
62.  Canoodling
63.  Sunday mornings
64.  Going out to hear our friends play music
65.  Parker's Maple Barn
66.  Hubby's homemade maple syrup
67.  Driving a brand new 2015 Hyundai on our vacation.
68.  Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive
69.  Facebook - it keeps me in touch with family and friends who are far away
70.  Community Theater
71.  The New England Aquarium - home of the penguins!
72.  Online banking
73.  Online shopping
74.  Free shipping
75.  Amazon
76.  Netflix
77.  The library
78.  Boston Market Chicken
79.  Chocolate
80.  Cousins
81.  Benny - he makes me laugh
82.  Homemade pizza on the pizza stone Kara gave me
83.  The New England Patriots
84.  Tom Brady!
85.  Mom's spoon collection
86.  Photographs
87.  Survivor
88.  The Amazing Race
89.  The Dirty Girl Mud Run
90.  In-laws
91.  Valentine's Day
92.  Hubby's 60th Birthday Party
93.  Bob's help with the sound system
94.  Fall foliage
95.  Joan's jams
96.  Days off with nothing to do
97.  Watching my granddaughter play soccer
98.  Watching my other granddaughter walk
99.  My electric blanket
100. Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Final Vacation Day - Cincinnati Ohio

Bright and early in the morning we left Memphis for the final leg of our long adventure.   We were lucky enough to spend two nights under the roof of some very good friends in Cincinnati, Ohio.


I met Joan over 25 years ago at a library show and we started an instant friendship.  I began caring for her children in my daycare.  JJ was the same age as my son Nick and Mary was the same age as my daughter Jamie.   Not only did I care for her children, but Joan and I had one of those friendships that come along once in a lifetime.  We thought the same way, had the same opinions about family and raising children.....we just "clicked".   Sadly, Joan's husband Jeff was transferred to Ohio after I'd only known them a couple of years.   I took the kids and my husband (now ex) and we drove to Ohio the following year for a visit - and I hadn't seen her since then.  But we kept in touch via mail - and more recently through email and Facebook.

A few months ago, Jeff and Joan made a very short visit to New England and Hubby and I were so happy to have them over for breakfast.   Joan and Jeff got to meet my new Hubby and see our new house.   We all hit it off - again!   So when I broached the subject with Joan to stop by and visit on our way home from Memphis, she couldn't have been more enthusiastic.

I  knew it was going to be a great visit when I texted Joan to say we'd be later than expected, and her text back said, "No problem...drive safe.  It's cold and rainy here but warm and friendly inside."  And it was. I have never felt more welcomed in anyone's home.


Joan made us some wonderful home-made soup that first night.  She makes almost all her own food - including bread.   Everything was delicious.   We totally enjoyed chatting and visiting with them that evening.  Hubby and Jeff hit it off as well.....especially after Jeff showed Hubby  his vinyl collection!

The next morning, after a fabulous home-made breakfast, the decision was made to go to "Jungle Jim's"....a local grocery store that is so much more than just a grocery store!!

The outside of the store has statues of all kinds of animals.



Start your carts!


There is an amazing amount of crazy things hanging all over the place.  This Campbell Soup can sings when you walk past it.


The place is enormous....with every possible food from every possible country.  There were six aisles of cheese, most of which I'd never heard of.  And some $120/pound meat in the deli.


They sold all kinds of beer....which they let you drink samples of.   Hubby tried a shot before he bought a "growler".



Their bathrooms were voted the best public bathrooms in the country.  They look like port-a-potties on the outside, but are real bathrooms when you enter.


A different kind of Elvis


There are International Markets all over the place.  There was food from every country you can think of.


Hubby loved the Lucky Charms band.


The firetruck signifies the display of "hot sauce".


There were hundreds of different kinds.


After spending two hours or so in Jungle Jim's, Joan and Jeff wanted to take us someplace for lunch that screamed Ohio.   Skyline Chili fit the bill.


Everything on the menu included chili.   The waitress kindly helped Joan out with a bib.


We also stopped at the library -  Hubby's request.  And Jeff gave us a tour of Cincinnati.


After another delicious dinner, an evening of chatting, and breakfast, we reluctantly left for home.


Thus concluded our wild and crazy adventure.  

14 Days
3095 miles
87 gallons of gas
7 different hotels
17 restaurants
22 attractions
41 State and Provinces License plates
37 CD's listened to....almost all local artists
4 vinyl records
2 great nights with friends
1 $%#% speeding ticket
1 very fine cowboy hat
HOME



Tuesday, November 4, 2014

And the Rest of Memphis

We left Graceland and got to our hotel outside of Memphis around 6pm.  It was raining heavily and dark out so we decided we'd save going "downtown" for the next day and stay local to find something to eat.   We checked with the desk clerk and she said to just drive up and down the strip - there were plenty of restaurants.    

And this is where we had our third miracle of the trip.   We did not realize that at a certain point, the road went from a two-way road to a one-way road.   We figured we'd gotten to the end of the strip and turned around in a driveway to go back the other way.   And we were driving the wrong way down a three-lane highway.   Thankfully, the person coming towards us realized what was happening and stopped in the middle of the road and so did we.  Now we were stuck there with no way to turn around - until we saw blue flashing lights coming toward us.  We figured we were in big trouble, but so thankful that the officer was there to stop traffic so we could turn.   And once we were heading in the right direction, he turned off his blue flashing lights and let us go on our way!   The first restaurant we saw was Olive Garden -  I quickly decided to break my rule about eating at a "big box" restaurant and we pulled in for a wonderful meal.   Orlando turned out to be  our favorite waiter of the trip! 

The next morning we headed down to Beale Street.   Our first stop was the Rock n Soul Museum which was all about the beginnings of music in the Memphis area.






We then went across the street with the intention of taking a Gibson Factory tour, but all the tours had been filled up already!   


Gibson Factory gift shop



So we went down onto Beale Street to take in the sights for a while.







Eventually we got down the other end of Beale Street and we were at the Mississippi River!!! A first for both of us!




We had read about Mud Island so we decided to spend some time investigating that.


I don't know if you can see it in this picture, but there is a red monorail hanging from under the bridge, that you have to take to get over to Mud Island.


The cool thing about the Island is that there is a 1/2 mile long replica of the Mississippi River, including many of the towns along the banks.


I tried to get a photo of the sign on the bridge that says "entering Arkansas".   We didn't get over to Arkansas from Mud Island, but we did get there on the Riverboat ride we took later.


At the end of the replica of the river was a "delta"


We came back from Mud Island in time to take a ride on the Riverboat



It was a real paddleboat


The boat ride was narrated - the narrator made the ride enjoyable and funny!


View of the city from under the bridge



We headed back to Beale Street for some more gawking and to find something to eat.  At this point in the evening, the street was closed off and people could walk up and down the street with beverages in hand.




We ate at Flynn's......where I had some famous Memphis Ribs  (yum!) and Hubby had a sandwich that involved two cheeseburgers with pulled pork in between!



On our way out of town we saw our first cotton fields.....then saw many more!


Finally:   Our visit to Cincinnati