Chris decided he wanted to add a baby rat to his family. He already has two females named Cognition and Curiosity. He brought baby Memory this week. Unfortunately, Cognition and Curiosity haven't taken too kindly to her. Chris was hoping that they would have a mothering instinct to take her in and accept her but he is calling them "Mean Girls" and they have been hurting Memory. She has learned that she needs to steer clear of them but hopefully they will all start getting along better soon.
I have been anxiously awaiting Christopher's return to celebrate the holidays with a little more flair. He decided to bring his friend, Luke, with him since he was on his own for the weekend. With two young men in the house, I realized that I needed to lay in some more food but was more than happy to do so.
I have been on call all weekend so have not really been able to venture out much. During the day on New Years Eve, the boys went into Portland to check out Powell's Bookstore and have lunch at a food truck. After they got home, we had a snack and called Tom via Skype. It was 2018 in Qatar already and he had celebrated by having his three allotted beers for the day and golfing in a simulator after his midnight meal. We had a wonderful rack of lamb dinner, some wine, and great conversation at our house. We watched "Hacksaw Ridge" after dinner. It was a very pleasant way to ring in the New Year. And per SOP, Bill and I were asleep long before the strike of 12.
I made a egg casserole to start out our day and then Chris and Luke went out to meet a friend for coffee and came back briefly before heading out to see another friend. Wonderful being able to celebrate with a couple of young people.
Bill and I also went to see Anne McEnerny-Ogle get sworn in as the first female mayor of Vancouver. She is a wonderful example of a community servant and has been serving as mayor-pro-tem and stepping in for the mayor a lot in the past year or so. She is going to do a great job as mayor.
A lot of wonderful things happened for Bill and me this past year. We have gotten to travel a lot and achieve some goals we have had. Some close members of our family have not had a good year though and I am hoping and praying that 2018 is a year of new hope and recovery for those that have been struggling this past year.
Shortly after last Christmas, Bill brought up the idea of going to Leavenworth for Christmas. We have been there a few times during the summer but never during the winter so I was all for it. I have had empty nester syndrome the last few years and have been struggling with the idea of Christmas and what would make it special for me and our family. I thought that maybe a trip to a Bavarian themed village that goes all out for Christmas was what I needed to make Christmas feel special for me this year. I made our reservations in Wenatchee which is 20 miles away thinking that would be close enough to enjoy the magic and have looked forward to the trip all year long. I had visions of beautifully lit buildings and trees and a German dinner with oompah music playing in my head all year long.
My original plan was to celebrate Christmas with Christopher over New Years weekend. We got a room with two beds just in case he changed jobs and/or would be able to join us in Wenatchee but really knew that it would probably be just Bill and me on our Leavenworth adventure. The plan ended up changing a little bit. Chris is still coming down for New Years but he made a totally unexpected trip to see us the day before we left. I had no idea he was coming and that the rats were coming with him until just a few hours before he left. He wasn't entirely sure at the time whether he was going to come home for New Years or not so I decided we had better open gifts while he was here. Our Christmas celebration with him was going to Dulin's during my lunch break and opening gifts after I got home from work. He spent the evening with his friends at church for a young adult Christmas party. It was very quick and no special meal or activities but we made do with the time we had available. I am planning a much more festive New Years for when he comes down this weekend.
Bill and I hadn't met Curiosity and Cognition yet so I was looking forward to seeing them a little bit. More out of curiosity than anything else. I have to admit that the idea of having rats for pets is a little unsettling for me but I am happy that they make Chris happy. We had a little bit of an adventure with the girls the night they arrived. I didn't hear Chris come in but I definitely woke up when he was scurrying about at 12:30 am. He felt badly for them being stuck in a small cage for so long that he let them out in the upstairs bathroom while he was taking a shower. I did have in the back of my mind as he was driving down that they might get loose and sure enough one of them did. Curiosity has a tendency to disappear at his apartment and true to form, she squeezed under the space between the door and the floor into Bill's office and was running around and hiding behind desks and bookcases. It freaked me out having a rat loose in my house so I got up and talked to Chris about an hour while he was trying to catch her. I finally gave up and left him to do the job on his own.
Friday morning, Chris left at the same time we did to go meet a friend for coffee before heading back to Bellingham so we said our good-byes and headed to the Gorge to start our adventure.
Bill loves going to Stevenson to have lunch at the Big River Grill so that was our first stop. We had decided to break up the trip north into two days and do a little wine tasting in the Yakima area. We had no idea which winery we wanted to go to. We just picked one out on the internet as we were driving there. We ended up going to Wilridge Winery on Naches Ridge. It was at a high enough elevation that we had our first snow while we were doing our tasting there.
We had decided that we were going to try to be good at least part of the time we were on our vacation so we took our food with us and didn't eat out in Yakima but I wanted to do more than just hang out in our room the entire evening. The woman at the winery talked about how much she liked the lights in downtown Yakima so I took a little drive there to wander and take a few photos.
It was a pretty sight and I liked the fun snowflake lights on each of the light poles. Very festive! It reminded me of the song "Silver Bells".
Saturday morning we drove from Yakima to Leavenworth. It was a beautiful sunny day. We drove through the Wenatchee National Forest and I was in awe of how beautiful it was with all the snow on the trees. We got to Leavenworth about noon but it was totally the wrong time to be there. It was so crazy busy and we couldn't find any parking so we finally gave up and drove to Wenatchee to check into our motel, have lunch and find something to do. We tried to go to the museum there but it was closed early for the holiday so we ended up finding the Stemilt Creek tasting room nearby and did some more wine tasting.
We drove to Leavenworth early on Christmas Eve morning to avoid the traffic and crowds. We ate at a diner and wandered around town and into a few shops during the morning.
I do love seeing the Bavarian themed buildings there.
We wandered down to get a peek at the Wenatchee River. They have a nice walking trail along the river but it was so cold-about 5 degrees- and our fingers were getting numb so we didn't go too far before we headed back up the hill to see if there were any shops open yet.
Jack Frost was definitely nipping at our noses. Other than eating, drinking and shopping, there isn't a whole lot more to do there so we left after spending about three hours in town. At the time that I made our reservations, I think there was still availability for lodging in town but it was pretty steep so I decided to go for a motel in Wenatchee thinking it would be "close enough". Not so. If I had to to it again, I would definitely splurge to get at least one night of lodging in Leavenworth. My whole Hallmark-like Christmas fantasy didn't come true. We didn't get to see the lights or have a German meal with German music playing like I had hoped for when we booked the trip. If we had actually stayed in Leavenworth, I would have had the experience I had hoped for. We had a nice time seeing the village and wandering around a bit but it wasn't the Christmas I dreamed of so I have to admit that I was a little disappointed.
We had started going to movies as a Christmas tradition a few years ago so Bill and I decided to go to see "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" at the theater in the afternoon. It wasn't a great movie but was an enjoyable diversion. After we got out, we decided we had better figure out what we were going to do for dinner. We were out of HMR entrees and I had already decided that I wasn't going to have one for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. We started calling around to a few restaurants and they were all closing really early for the evening so at 3:30 in the afternoon, we headed over to Claudio's Mexican Restaurant before it was too late. We had a fabulous Feliz Navidad dinner and margaritas to celebrate Christmas Eve.
Even before we left home, I had a feeling that maybe three nights in Wenatchee might be too long. Given that it would be harder to find things to do and anywhere to eat on Christmas Day than it was on Christmas Eve, I wasn't too sure of what we would do if we did stay and Bill really wanted to travel back home on Christmas Day instead of the day after. It made a whole lot of sense to me too.
We woke up to a White Christmas in Wenatchee. It made driving through the mountains a bit challenging but they had the roads salted pretty well. We came home via Snoqualmie Pass and the Seattle area because going back our usual route to Satus Pass was going to be a little more difficult than sticking to the freeways west of the mountains as much as we could. As it turned out, we wouldn't have had to leave home to experience a White Christmas this year. It snowed here in Vancouver as well and we still have snow on the ground three days later.
Not long after we got home, Tom called us via Messenger. He has been deployed for the past couple of weeks in the Middle East. I rallied our friends and family to send him Christmas cards and some even sent gifts which was really nice of them. We had a pretty long conversation with him. He had worked Christmas Eve going on a refueling mission. We joked that he helped Santa refuel that night too. So grateful for Skype technology to be able to share our Christmas with him for even a little bit. God bless him and all our troops who aren't able to spend the holidays with their families.
I came across this meme on Facebook this year and it really resonated with me. For a long time, I have struggled with gift giving. I struggle with what to get for my family and always feel badly when someone gives me a gift and I don't have one to reciprocate with. I felt like the meme gave me permission to not be forced into the whole gift giving, rush around and bake lots of cookies mindset. But what it hadn't done yet was help me to realize that I don't have to work so hard to find something "special" to celebrate Christmas. I was still setting myself up to be disappointed. I felt terrible that I didn't have a special meal for Chris when he was home just before Christmas. It wasn't my fault because he came practically unannounced and had made plans with others but when I thought that he might not come home again during the holidays, it still made me feel guilty that I wasn't making Christmas special for him. And I set myself up to be disappointed in a trip that I had been looking forward to all year long by setting highly romanticized expectations. Bill and I had a great time just being together and I need to remember that moving forward. Don't set high expectations. Just take things as they come and enjoy the truly important part of the holiday celebrating Christ's birth and just being with the ones that we love and truly being "present" in our interactions with them.
Hoping that all my family and friends had an enjoyable Christmas whether with family or on their own.
Bill bought a new (used) tuxedo about a month ago. His old one definitely was not going to fit any longer since he has lost so much weight. He bought it without any real plan for wearing it though so I insisted that he wear it to our flying club Christmas party. I felt like I was going to the party with James Bond and I was a Bond girl.
It has been a few years since we have gone to the Christmas party. We were in Hawaii last year. I can't even remember the last time we have attended. The format was a little different this year. The clubhouse is getting to be over 20 years old and needing some updates done. So we had an auction this year to help raise funds including an oral auction for several items. When we first had the clubhouse, they had several silent auctions to raise money to help pay for the building. Bill was in charge of several of those. Fortunately, we are mostly out of the leadership track-at least for the time being.
We sat with our friends, Jeff and Julie, again this year as we usually do. Not sure of the story behind it but Jeff decided he wanted to go to the party dressed like Willie Wonka. So James Bond and Willie Wonka sat together at dinner last night.
Walt Swan was named Member of the Year this year. Well deserved and he is the first member to be awarded for a second time.
When December arrives, that means the holiday party season gets started. Over the years, Bill and I have usually had a relatively packed December of various holiday celebrations. Some have remained constant over the years, some no longer happen and occasionally new ones get added.
Last week I had three different events. I think Bill attended a few other business related ones without me.
This one was business related but I went along too. Jim West invited us to go to the Southwest Washington Contractors Association Holiday Dinner. The theme was really fun this year-Christmas Around the World. There were lots of costumes worn by the volunteers that represented a lot of different countries as well as aviation and train related costumes like airline pilot uniforms. They even had Chinese Dragon Dancers and drummers for entertainment before dinner. Bill had to get a photo with Delano who was dressed as Santa. He said he looked like an elf next to Santa.
On the way back from the beach, we stopped in Aurora, Oregon to go to the Wine and Chocolate Walk there with the Oerdings and the Gustafsons. Several businesses in town had local wineries offering tastings in their stores as well as local chocolates. There are a lot of antique stores in Aurora so most of the stops on the walk were antique stores but there was also a winery at what used to be one of the banks in town and a hazelnut factory store. We had lunch at the Aurora Colony Pub so we had something on our stomachs for more wine tasting and stopped at the White Rabbit Bakery to have some cookies and coffee before heading home. It was pretty much an all day event. Bill and I weren't much interesting in doing shopping but Jeff and Julie spent quite a bit of time looking at various antiques.
Thursday night I was invited to our friend Shannon's home for a wine, appetizer and white elephant gift exchange party. We live pretty close to her--just a few blocks away-but most of the women at the party are her close neighbors and I don't really know any of them even though we only live a few blocks away. It was a fun to talk to a few of the women and the gift exchange was a hoot. I took a true white elephant gift of Snoopy Christmas glasses so I got a little worried when the first few gifts opened were really nice gifts. As the night progressed, I relaxed a little given that my gift was at least tame compared to what some of the others were getting. We had a lot of laughs over some of the things that people came up with for gifts.
We have a few more events over the next few weeks between now and Christmas but here is a glimpse into what our last week of parties was like. Hope everyone is enjoying their holiday seasonal parties as well.
I've been itching to go to Lincoln City for awhile now. I think going to Cannon Beach with Tom over Labor Day weekend started it. Gave me a taste of being at the beach but we weren't able to be there for very long. With our anniversary this week, I thought it might be nice to go. Even if the weather wasn't great, it would be a nice little getaway. When we were at the beach during a bad storm several years ago, it was fun to watch the ocean from our room in that wild state. I knew no matter what the weather was, we would enjoy it.
Even though there were some awesome off-season deals to be had, I splurged a little bit and got a room right on the beach at the Best Western Motel. There is something about watching the ocean that is so fascinating and mesmerizing. I can just sit and watch it all day long and being able to do it from one's hotel room is so worth it.
As luck would have it, it did rain a fair amount. Bill wanted to stop at Spirit Mountain on the way there for lunch. He had been there once on a tour but I had never stopped before. Once we got to Lincoln City, we went shopping at the outlet malls for a short time before we went to see if we could check into our room. Bill needed to buy some clothes. Having lost all that weight, we have had to start buying clothes so that he has things that actually fit him. Luckily it stopped raining about that time so I went out to enjoy a walk on the beach. I climbed around on the rocks a bit hoping to see some starfish. No luck on the starfish but I did see a few hermit crabs and some anemone-at least that is what I think they are called. It started raining again as I headed back to the room but was thankful to get some actual time on the beach to explore and take photos. We got to see an awesome sunset before we walked down to Kyllos for dinner. We both had the crab stuffed halibut and prawns for dinner and peanut butter pie for dessert. Awesome anniversary dinner.
We had to head back toward Portland relatively early as we had made plans with friends in Aurora (that will be another post). We soaked in our last few moments with the beach and got to see a double rainbow before we left.
Bill wasn't sure why I wanted to go (he indulged me) but having been there, he is now thinking we might need another winter getaway to the beach in a few months. We'll see. It was a nice trip to spend some time together and celebrate our anniversary though.