Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Shopping Adventures of Carynn and Nana Shanna

As mentioned in one of my previous postings, one of the things I was looking forward to was sharing my favorite shopping venues with Carynn. Thanks to Michael's (Papa's) willingness to Ty-sit we were able to do just that, and often too! Here's my/our favorite spots:

Deseret Industries Thrift Store
Michael and I discovered the DI (as locals call it) last year and have furnished our home here with some of our finds. Our first visit this year all four of us went. I discovered some great things for the house. Helpful hint-ALWAYS go to the Outside Yard first! That's where I've always found the best "stuff!" I did this visit too. Michael/Papa exhibited/exhibits a huge amount of forbearance while I/we are in DI. Carynn found some great books and toys for Ty. I found some items to use in decorating AND organizing the house and filling some of those bare corners. My other favorite areas at DI are the aisles that house baskets, plants and decorative items. Michael likes the clothing area as he's been able to find some great long sleeved shirts-so good for running/walking. DI-a fun time was had by all.

Carynn and I made return trips (note the plural) to Deseret Industries. We found some plants to use in the bedroom/spare room/outside. Another thing I like about DI is at least twice while I've been there when others have noticed what I had in my shopping cart (How can you not notice a five foot tall ficus, right?) they've pointed out other things to me that they thought I might be interested in. That's how I got the great plant that is now residing outside by one of the rockers.

The week that Carynn/Jamie and Ty left and Michael was gone for a funeral, I did a solo DI run. Bargains galore! I'll share more about the masterpiece I found/created in another posting.

PS. I don't always buy at DI, I often donate too! There's a "rule" that says for everything that you buy and bring into your home something else needs to be removed from it, that way you'll cut down/eliminate junk and keep a balance. I don't always follow that "rule" but I try to keep it in mind. I have picked things up at DI carried them around in the shopping cart, counted the cost (not just in money, but space, etc.) and put them back. I'm disciplined, really; or most of the time. :)

Grandma Tobler's Bakery
I told Carynn about the yummy cinnamon rolls, etc. at Grandma Tobler's. We slowed down to park and I read the sign that said they'd moved. We were disappointed, but determined that we'd check out the new location. We went into Aunts and Uncles (or is it Uncles and Aunts?) instead. We did find Grandma Tobler's later. Delicious!

Aunts and Uncles
I don't know that I made it into Aunts and Uncles last year, but Carynn and I did this year. It had home decorating items and it's in this great old home (at least a hundred years old-probably closer to 120 is my guess). Many of the items are new "old" things. It's priced comparable to what you'd find in town. We enjoyed it and I'll be back.

Way Cool Dirt Cheap
I "discovered" WCDC last year. I purchased a great pot to put in one of my DI finds (a tree). I enjoyed acquainting Carynn with the store. She decided that their name is a misnomer as while the items are way cool, we didn't particularly find them dirt cheap. One of my favorite things to do there (other stores too) is to play "Guess the Price." Let's just say we always guessed low even when we tried to guess high.

We had an adventure when we came out of WCDC. The Yukon wouldn't start. As we'd had no hints that we were going to have trouble with it (nothing on the trip down or even at our previous stop) we were quite surprised. While the prices at Way Cool Dirt Cheap aren't we can attest that the staff there is Way Nice Very Helpful. One of the staff spotted us looking at the car, she brought out jumper cables. Another staff member pulled his car over, attached the cables and started the car. He also recommended (in his opinion) the best place to go to get a battery (Checker's) and also shared the information that they'd install it for free. Michael called at that time (he must have been in psychic mode) and we told him what was going on. As we only have the one vehicle here and Ty was still asleep, he was only able to give moral support. The nice guy at WCDC also advised us to make Checker's our next stop because as soon as we turned off the ignition we'd be staying wherever we stopped until the new battery was put in. I will be writing a nice thank you note to the WCDC people.

Checker's Auto Parts
I'm more "into" hardware stores and home improvement centers (a legacy from my father I think), but approached Checker's confidently (the only way to get things done really) while Carynn kept the car running just in case they turned out to be not so helpful. They seemed to be understaffed and busy, but when I got the sales associate's attention and stated my/our case he was happy to help. I had already consulted Michael regarding the battery-we opted for midrange price-wise. So when Jack, the Checker's guy, answered all the questions correctly I popped outside, signaled to Carynn to stop the engine and within 20 minutes or so we were able to continue on our way.

I've already mentioned Home Depot, but did I mention the way cool dirt cheap lamps I found there? Originally priced at $66 and $88 dollars I got them for $23 and $28! Woo hoo! Heaven, I'm in heaven (picture me singing that song slightly out of tune but gleefully). After the completion of Paintapalooza they reside in the master bedroom and living room.

Pier 1
Carynn and I have a "tradition" of visiting Pier 1's after Christmas sale. Though it was a little late (after January 1) we still found some bargains we couldn't resist. Some will go in my "to be given as gifts" stash. Others we started using right away.

Tai Pan Trading
One of my Utah friends introduced me to Tai Pan last year. Carynn had a taste of Tai Pan Trading on our way back from stopping at another friend's house that lived out that way. (This friend had transported some items from our WA home to UT when they moved down at Thanksgiving as we knew we would not have room to bring those items ourselves.) Ty was with us our first visit to Tai Pan. He was a happy shopper and did quite well as we meandered. We determined to do a return trip sans Ty another time; which we did.

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
They hadn't made up our favorite kind of caramel apples, so we "made do" with some chocolate....Oh, the sacrifices one makes...

The Outlet Stores
Carynn found some gorgeous boots at one store, I found a white dress shirt for Michael and a purse for me at another.

Michael's Craft Store
Another "old" friend. I enjoyed their Christmas clearance.

Dollar Tree
What is it about Dollar Tree? I'm not quite sure, but for me it's a place of possibilities all for a dollar or less. There are multiple Dollar Tree's here and I've sampled nearly all of them. It's another old friend.

Any store that has their sales associates greet you with a golden token so you can get your Krumpet candy (colored m & m's), and have a chance at $5 off of your purchase (if you get the right color of m & m) is going to be a place that I can enjoy. No $5 off m & m when I placed my coin in the slot of the huge vending machine (not for Carynn either), but I did find 90% (that's no typo) off of this cute Christmas tree in a pot. Carynn liked the store a lot too. We were only able to stop that one time during her visit, but I'll be back!

We also visited the "usual suspects"-Walmart, you know the store you love to hate; Target, I found a cute bathing suit for water aerobics (Thanks Carynn for your help) and of course the grocery store.

While I wouldn't call myself an Olympic-quality shopper (in honor of the Winter Olympics that will begin shortly), I think I do fairly well. Lest you think that I spent tons of money doing all of this shopping (Michael may think so), I didn't. I think, overall, I shopped with a great deal of restraint. :)

You can call it "retail therapy" if you like. I won't deny that it brought a certain amount of pleasure. No, it was more than that, it was fun! Thanks Carynn for being my shopping buddy! Ty, when you came with us, you were a trooper! Michael, thanks for understanding.


Saturday, January 30, 2010


Home Depot is our friend...You would think our best friend because we (Carynn and I, Michael and I or just me) have been going there it seems like every day since we got here. But I digress....Here's what happened:

Monday night, January 4-Home Depot for child proofing supplies

Note to readers: Carynn and I found the best time for us to do OUR exploring, errands, etc. was during Ty's afternoon naptime when Papa was available to be with him.

Tuesday afternoon-Home Depot for paint choosing and painting supplies. I picked out Behr Paints Classic Taupe for the living room/kitchen/hallway walls with the color called Cliffrock as an accent for the long way in the living room. I was a little hesitant in that I didn't want the overall effect to be too dark. Carynn's a great sounding board she shared her opinion (she happened to like what I'd picked out and I think was even a little surprised that I was willing to be so BOLD) and then let me make the choice since it's my house.

We wanted to get at least the living room area painted as we were having a couch delivered (thank you Ashley Furniture) on Wednesday afternoon and I didn't want to hazard getting paint on it. So Tuesday evening Carynn started prepping for painting. This is not a favorite task, but so important that it's done correctly. You can have the best looking paint, buy if you've done a lousy job prepping it significantly takes away from the overall look. I could tell you stories.... Anyway, after Ty was down for the evening, we began in earnest.

We had borrowed a ladder from one of our neighbors-we have tall ceilings so couldn't quite reach with our three step step ladder. Carynn did the lion's share of the work-what I like to call the "hard stuff." She did the cutting in at the ceiling (we left the ceilings white) and at the right angles where the accent color abutted the taupe. I rolled the paint roller and went along and looked for spots we missed. We ended up doing two coats on nearly everything to get the coverage we wanted.

I'm a paint convert! Wow! The Classic Taupe and Cliffrock really makes the white trim POP! The home seems more warm, more finished and more livable already and that's with just the living room done.

Wednesday, January 6- We deliberately gave ourselves the night off. During naptime Carynn and I visited some of my favorite places (see separate post) and at night we saw Sherlock Holmes. Great movie.

Thursday, January 7 - We wanted to get the kitchen done before I left for our nephew's wedding so we began the prep work and got to it after Ty went to bed. We decided that we might as well get as much painted as possible so I did the taping in the front hall too (5 doors mind you PLUS the pantry door in the kitchen makes 6 doors! I don't want to tape anymore, but I will if I have to.).

We kept painting and painting and painting and it was getting later and later and later. I eventually pulled my suitcase and carry-on from our bedroom closet and threw my clothes on top of them so I could pack for my trip the next morning and not disturb Michael too much. (He gave up and hit the hay around 11:00 PM or so.)

We painted until we ran out of paint. The kitchen looked SO good (the hall as far as it was done did too.) Carynn pulled the tape and started putting the switch plates back on. I started putting the kitchen back together. Carynn went to bed around 1:30 AM and I stayed up and packed. I also couldn't resist doing some more "finishing" touches to the kitchen.

Can I have another WOW!

To be continued....



One of the "reasons" (if we needed one) for Carynn to come was to help us brighten up our living spaces in our Utah home. Yes, she brightened it just with her smile and personality, but I'm talking about another kind of brightening here--paint!

While this (meaning Utah) home was well-thought out when it was built and was also well-maintained by the previous owner, it definitely was hiding or obscuring some of it's best features under a bushel because of its lack of color. EVERYTHING is painted white. The countertops are even white laminate. The ceramic tile in the entry is white. The kitchen cabinets are also white washed, AND the outside of the house is white stucco; so we knew that we'd be adding some color. Last year's visit (nearly 2 1/2 months) went by so quickly and I was overwhelmed at the thought of painting. I think too that it's good to "live" in a space before you decide to make some changes. That way you get a feel for how light and shadows affect the space.

So last year no painting happened, but a few other "permanent" cosmetic changes (light fixtures, valances) did. Now it's time for (drum roll please) PAINTAPALOOZA!


Settling In

After our arrival in Southern Utah it was time to reacquaint ourselves and acquaint Carynn and Ty to some of the area's beautiful and unusual attractions. I also considered it my motherly "duty" to introduce Carynn to my favorite places.

With those thoughts in mind, Tuesday morning we headed out to show Carynn and Ty the park. We bought our yearly pass ($75.00-expensive, yes, but good for ALL Utah state parks) and as we drove through the park we pointed out some of the features. We drove to an overlook just outside the park boundaries and Michael (and Carynn) took some pictures. It being an overlook with a tremendous drop, both Carynn and I were in what I like to call, "Keep Ty from injuring himself mode." As he's an avid explorer this is not always an easy task. Ty enjoyed his exploring and we kept our eyes open to things (rocks, cactus, dangerous drop-offs) that could hurt him. This did not stop him from enjoying his exploratory forays at all, and yes, he did fall a time or two; but nothing that was injurious to him or our mental health.

On our way back through the park we stopped at the dunes. Ty LOVED the dunes! We made a mental note to come back with shovel and bucket so he could dig to his heart's content. What made everything so much more enjoyable was that it was over 50 degrees so we were comfortable in our sweatshirts and you could actually be outside without freezing.

THAT is the reason we have come south again for the winter. We're so glad that Carynn and Ty can experience that with us.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Road Trip Part 2 Idaho Falls to Southern Utah

Monday's a new day. We all wake up early bright-eyed and bushy tailed. After breakfasting on yogurt, granola, juice and doughnuts we load back up and begin the second a final part of our journey. We had great weather yesterday and are blessed with great weather again today. (That's one of the reasons that we left on Sunday versus Monday or Saturday-trying to get past the passes before the next storm system came through.)

We retained the same configuration for the last part of our journey; it had worked so well. The roads were fine and we made good time.

When we were an hour or so North of Salt Lake City Bret called. He and Laura had flown there for Christmas and he stayed since he had business meetings to attend later the first week of January and she had to get back to Seattle for her job. We determined to meet Bret at the South Towne Mall. This was almost a deja vu kind of experience as South Towne was "our" mall when we lived in Sandy, Utah. It was wonderful to connect with Bret before he headed to Brazil. We enjoyed an early lunch; Ty enjoyed the kids area and running around the mall. Michael (Papa) bought some tokens and Ty really had fun riding the little carousel that they have near the food court at the mall. Claire stayed in the car and did fine;she sleeps most of the time anyway. Before we left the mall Bret greeted her and gave her a love. She's been a good dog and even with her foibles as an elderly dog (canine dementia,etc. see also Road Trip Part 1) she is a well loved member of the family. It was wonderful spending time with our son. We missed seeing Laura, but hope to see both of them in February.

We left South Towne after an hour and a half and drove straight through to Cedar City where we fueled up. The final 45 minutes went quickly and then we were here! It was later afternoon. We did trips to the store for much needed groceries and also much needed child proofing supplies.

Glad to be done driving!


Road Trip Part 1 Home to Idaho Falls

8:30 AM Sunday morning January 3, 2010-- Doors (to the house) are locked; thermostats (plural) turned down; toilets winterized; Jamie's left for their home; we're in the car and ready to go. Seat belts buckled: check. Prayer said: check. Let's go!

We start out in in what I like to call the standard parent/child configuration-Michael's driving, I'm at shotgun, Ty's in the back seat behind Michael, Claire is in the middle and Carynn is behind me. We get maybe 50 feet out of the driveway and Carynn calls out something like, "Ooh gross, Claire just pooped on the seat." We pull over, I get rid of the poop, Carynn and I do a switcheroo and everyone else retains their original positions. The dog is still somewhat disoriented. (She has issues occasionally. Unfortunately this is one of those occasions.) Somewhere between home and Montana I move her from the seat to the floor. Which is a good thing because when we get out to stretch our legs and fuel up, what I think is leftover poop smell is actually NEW poop smell. By this time I'm not feeling too charitably towards the dog. She does eventually settle down though so that's good for all of us. In fact, now that she's taken care of business (twice) she seems to have run out of ammunition, so to speak.

We discover early on that Ty can just barely reach the portable DVD player with his foot (since Michael needs to have his seat all the way back because he has long legs) and that's not a good thing, so I change the position of the DVD player by balancing it on the small ice chest just out of reach of any of his body parts. Ty's favorite movies this trip are the Ice Age sequels. He calls them the "elephant" movies. We also watch parts of WallE and Cars during this part of the trip. We enjoy our sandwiches and other snacks, but Ty doesn't really nap. I have a few tricks up my sleeve with some new books and small toys for Ty. I've also brought our magnetic letters for him to play with. These end up being more of a mess as Ty has discovered that when he puts things (toys, magnetic letters, books) in the slot in the arm rest, they disappear until we either stop or I undo my seat belt and do the long stretch over him to retrieve whatever it is he's dropped down the slot. He's not being malicious mind you, just curious and finding out about cause and effect.

Our stop for the night is a Motel 6 in Idaho Falls. They're pet and child friendly. We found out from the friendly desk clerk (she really was nice, I'm not being sarcastic.) that if we drive just a mile or so more there's a McDonald's with a great Playland so that Ty can play and get the kinks out. We do the drive, get our food and Ty enjoys the Playland. Between their trip to Oregon for Christmas and now this trip Ty's been cooped up for significant periods of time. He's been a champ about it, but it's really great when he can play as he's more of a doer than a sitter. He also caught some kind of upper respiratory thing from his Oregon cousins, so that he's in a good mood at all is a blessing.

After Ty's getting ready to go to bed ritual: jammies, teeth brushed, fluoride and book read, it's time for prayer and he's down for the night. We all get comfortable and after Ty's asleep Carynn opens the connecting door and goes to sleep herself. Michael and I settle down (Claire does too) and it's good night for all of us.

We're halfway there!


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Road Trip Preparation

You're probably asking yourself why I'm devoting a post to Road Trip Preparation. Well, it's been a while since we've done a road trip with an elderly dog, our married daughter, her 2 year old son and ourselves. Wait a minute...We've never done a road trip with the aforementioned variables. There definitely was a great deal of thought into the details of packing and preparing for a 1000 mile journey and being away from our home for 4 months.
1. Since our return last year from southern Utah I had been accumulating needed items (note this is MY definition of need, it may not be yours or my husband's) in a large plastic covered container. As I'd come across something, I'd pop it in there. The container was getting pretty heavy, so a few weeks before we left I moved the bin to the garage floor. All kinds of miscellaneous items were placed in the bin, and later near and on top of the bin.
2. As we're traveling with a young child we needed items for his comfort, which would also be for our comfort. To rephrase an old saying: When a two-year-old isn't happy then no one's happy. These items included: Portable DVD player and assorted movies; miscellaneous snacks; small toys and books, one blankey and one bear (Elmo). In addition to these items were the necessities-diapers, wipes, and 2 sippy cups (in case one gets temporarily misplaced). We also travelled with an umbrella stroller and brought the jogger so Ty could go on bike rides with us when we got to Utah.
3. Clothing-Since Michael had left some clothes there, he didn't bring quite so many clothes as I did. I left very little there (a robe, some slippers, and a few long sleeved shirts) so I brought quite a bit with me. Between us, we had 1 large suitcase, 1 garment bag, 1 duffle with shoes in it and a garbage sack (easiest way to pack) of jackets and outerwear.
4. Claire's stuff-Since we were traveling with Claire we had items for her comfort as well as her food. We were a bit surprised that she hadn't passed away since she nearly did the week of Melinda and Landan's wedding. She's rallied and so we had her food, an extra bag of her food and her blanket. We also brought her sweater which she hates to wear, but in case it got cold we wanted her to have it. We brought two leashes and because we didn't have room for her dishes, we used plastic ones.
5. Stuff to work on while we're in Utah-Michael brought our scanner so that he could continue the task of scanning all of our photos. He's made great progress, and wants to continue to do so. I brought a sewing machine that Carynn gave me. It's newer than the one I brought down last year. I also included a tote bag of cross stitch kits and yarn and a knitting frameso I could make some knit hats for the Humanitarian group that's very active in Padre Lakes.
5. Small ice chest with sub sandwiches, yogurt, cream cheese and soda pop. In addition to these items I had a tote bag with crackers, granola and raisins for all of us to share.
6. Carynn and Ty's stuff- Besides the things I've already mentioned-Carynn and Ty had one large suitcase and a duffle bag that included his lifejacket.
7. Three bicycles and the bike rack to mount them on the back of the Yukon. Bike helmets, gloves, etc. were tossed in the back.
8. Lest we forget-we each had our carry-on items. Those things of either sentimental or material value, plus what we needed for our planned overnight stop in Idaho Falls that we wanted close at hand. Besides the scanner (see item 5) Michael brought our cameras (digital and video), our laptop, and our ipods. My keep-it-close-to-me bag held Michael's medical info, our bills and other correspondence, my scriptures and whatever I thought of at the last moment to put in there. My purse I kept separately. I'm not exactly sure what was in Carynn and Ty's carry-on but know that it included what they'd need for the two day trip that they didn't want buried in the back with the rest of their clothes, etc.
9. Random stuff like the shovel I threw in just in case we got stuck in snow, an end table to assemble to go along with the rockers that our friends the Billingsleys had kindly dropped off and placed in our garage, the pillows for the rockers and some other decorative items to hang on walls or display.
10. The kitchen sink (Just kidding).
I had begun packing the vehicle on Thursday and Friday. I ended up unpacking it on Saturday so we could try to rearrange what was already in there and try to fit it Carynn and Ty's things. If you look over the list again, you'll see that we could either fit the "stuff" in or the people and dog in. I was stressing out when Jamie and Carynn said, "You have a rack on top, why don't you use it?" I dismissed their suggestion because I didn't want to buy an expensive car carrier. They left to get a piece for the DVD player and when they returned with the piece and an expandable soft-sided vinyl roof top carrier; AND it only cost $40.00. I was very relieved and gladly reimbursed them the 40 bucks. We filled the carrier up, Jamie strapped it on top of the Yukon and voila we had enough room in the vehicle for us to sit, maybe not comfortably, but at least we could all fit in. I had had visions of us looking like the Beverly Hillbillies as we drove down the road, so I was very pleased that the only outward signs that we were filled to capacity were the bike rack and the perfectly respectable roof top carrier.

Melinda, Landan and Landan's friend Justin had joined us for dinner that night (we celebrated Melinda's 20th birthday early with one of her favorite meals, plus presents, cake and ice cream) and left late in the evening. Carynn, Jamie and Ty enjoyed the birthday dinner and festivities (Carynn made a yummy cake too) and spent the night so we could get an early start in the morning. I stayed up late working on Melinda and Landan's wedding scrapbook, not done but coming along nicely, and hit the hay very tired, but as ready for our journey as I'd ever be. Michael went to bed earlier than all of us, but stayed awake until I joined him.

Stay tuned for Road Trip Part 1


Happy New Year

As the stake YW presidency was reorganized-Jenna stayed as President, the rest of us were released-my New Year's Eve was freed up from responsibility. A friend invited us over to celebrate and ring in the New Year with the thought that we wouldn't have to ACTUALLY stay at the party until midnight if we didn't want to. The food was great, the company wonderful and yes, we headed home near 10 PM. So true to her promise, our friend had us all do a countdown, we drank sparkling whatever (they had numerous choices-I stuck with apple cider), blew our horns threw our streamers and then headed home. According to one of the other attendees the party broke up around 10:30 PM with another mini-celebration of the New Year before they left.

Michael and I did watch the ball drop at Times Square and both of us were sad that Dick Clark, that perennial teenager, still has communication issues from his stroke a few years back. Part of me applauds his bravery at still participating in the New Year hoopla on a lesser level, another part of me wishes that he wouldn't.

Carynn, Jamie and Ty made it back safely from Medford. As we're leaving for southern Utah on January 3rd (Carynn and Ty with us), the last part of 2009 has been getting ready for our journey. I did say goodbye to a dear friend-Cynthia J. and her family are moving to Logan the first part of January. They'll be missed.

Happy New Year!


Merry Christmas!

With Carynn, Jamie and Ty going to Medford; Bret and Laura to Salt Lake City and Lynette and her boyfriend Sam staying on the Westside to Christmas with his parents; our only children in town were our newlyweds, Melinda and Landan. They had Christmas Eve with his parents and came to visit us for Christmas. Christmas we were able to speak with everyone else by phone, including Michael's dad in Texas.

We were blessed however to be able to have extended family come visit. My sister Erin, her daughter (Taurie), and my mother arrived around 8:00 PM Christmas night. My sister Karra, her husband Carl and their children: Isaac, Preston, Colton and Kloey were in very late (11 PM) that night too. It was wonderful they could come!

Saturday, the 26th, on Melinda and Landan's recommendation we decided to catch Avatar at the downtown IMAX. We ordered our tickets online for the first showing (11:30 AM) and for Kloey-Carl bit the bullet (usually Colton volunteers) to be Kloey's escort to see the Chipmunk Squeaquel. Those that weren't seeing Avatar opted for Sherlock Holmes. We arrived early for the movie, I picked up the tickets from the pre-order kiosk and after waiting somewhat patiently, everyone arrived and we dispersed to our movies. Avatar ended up selling out so I was so glad that we had pre-ordered our tickets. A good time was had by all.

It being the day after Christmas, traffic was horrendous trying to leave the mall. After the movie we decided to drive to REI, Melinda and Landan (in their car) too. The cousins were going to shop for Isaac (the soon to be missionary) and for sales. Because Michael had snagged a great parking space (on one of the lower levels) we were out fairly quickly. We never ended up meeting up with Melinda and Landan because it took them OVER an hour to get out of the parking garage and our REI stop was brief.

We always like to play games when the cousins come. In this instance we did a repeat of Bananagrams. Landan was a multiple winner as were Erin and Karra. Sadly, though I know many words, I couldn't quite put it together (that's a great pun if you know about Bananagrams), put still had a good time.

Erin and Karra did dinner for Saturday night, Fritoladas. Sunday evening we celebrated Preston's 17th birthday a day early with Chicken Alfredo and Spaghetti. Instead of a traditional birthday cake I made Blueberry Muffin Cake with Vanilla Sauce. Very yummy. I've decided that warm vanilla sauce is one of my favorite things. The recipe is one I got from Tomoko Simons when we lived in California. If she ever writes a cookbook (she has said she'd like to) I'll be first in line to purchase it.

My Uncle Tom's 90th birthday celebration was scheduled for Monday the 28th in Mesa, Arizona. Since we weren't able to be there I called him earlier in the week and arranged for the family to talk to him on Sunday night. We all were able to do that. He's such a good man. He was a wonderful husband to my aunt Georga, who passed away nearly 3 years ago. He remains actively engaged and faithful in all things. As I said, a very good man.

The family started dispersing on Monday. Karra and her family had basketball practice, etc. so they left Monday morning. Erin, Taurie and Mom were able to stay until Tuesday, it was great that they could. It's still hard for me to imagine "little" Taurie a college freshman. My how time flies. Mom wasn't feeling that well for the visit, but enjoyed having everyone around. It was poignant for me as I won't probably be seeing Isaac for a while since he leaves for Brazil on February 10.

Merry Christmas!