Saturday, December 29, 2012

ComicCon New Orleans

 Tom recently took a road trip with friends to New Orleans to go to Comic Con.  Most of the pictures are of his friends--he doesn't have any costumes.  But the pictures sure look like they had a great time.  I don't know much about this phenomenon.  I recognized the Star Wars costumes but that was about it.  I had to ask Chris about what everything else represented.  He had to point out the Slender Man, Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek and Umbrella Special Forces costumes to me.
His friend, Mike, paid to get an autograph from Jonathan Frakes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and talked to "Data" who was sitting at the next booth so that was pretty fun to have a brush with celebrities.  They also went to eat at the famous Mother's Restaurant in New Orleans.  I didn't realize the history of the place until after he said that he went there.  But it was a hangout for Marines and they have a lot of military photos hanging on the walls.  Tom captured that in the photo of his three buddies all looking at the menu in line together although it is too small for you to see here.

Fun road trip to another world.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas

Tom couldn't come home for Christmas.  He used his leave in October so he didn't have enough to come home for Christmas.  Plus he has the time off of school to enjoy down there.  Maddy will be joining him tomorrow to celebrate the New Year together.  I was disappointed on an emotional level but understand intellectually that it is part of him growing up and being in the military.  After all--I haven't been home for the holidays myself since 1984.  I guess I know what my family must have felt all these year.  Still hard not to have your whole family together for Christmas.

We have never Skyped before with him or anyone else for that matter.  But one of my Christmas wishes was to Skype with Tom for Christmas.  Three of his classmates were also staying in Pensacola for the holidays.  One of them with a wife and children invited him and the other two to Christmas dinner last night which was really nice for him.  So we arranged to Skype at a time when we could do it with Grandma on Christmas Eve.  Chris got a kick out of Grandma discovering the wonders of video chat and was really happy to "see" Tom as were the rest of us.  We got to get a little bit of a tour of his room via his new iPad that he bought for himself for Christmas.  It was fun to see what his living space looks like.

I had a wish to go to Christmas Eve Candlelight Service this year.  It has been a really long time since I have been to church on Christmas Eve.  It was always a big part of my family's Christmas celebration.  It has never been a priority for Bill or Beverly so we just have never gotten around to going.  Chris went by himself last year and he was going to go to the 11:00 candlelight service at his church so I decided to stay up past my bedtime and join him.  It was a beautiful service.

Another Christmas wish was to get my computer moved out of Chris' bedroom so that I can give him more privacy.  We cleared out a spot in the living room for one of the desks Bill had at his office.  Chris and Bill set it up for me on Saturday.  Thrilled to have my new space.

I was originally thinking we weren't going to have any presents to open Christmas Day.    I gave Tom his present in October and Chris got money to go to a conference in St. Louis this week.  Bill and I never give each other gifts--we buy what we want as we want it.  It has gotten to be a minimalist event in recent years anyway with fewer and fewer presents to open.  But I was definitely feeling like such a big part of Christmas was going to be missing.  So my final Christmas wish was to go to the movie theater as a family for Christmas Day to make up for the "no gift" part.  We went to see "Skyfall" which was very exciting.  Enjoyed it a lot.  We went to Cinetopia to see it.  I have to say "I LOVE CINETOPIA!".  Bill and I have enjoyed our couple of visits to the original Cinetopia in their living rooms.  The living rooms are smaller and more comfortable rooms with ottomans and they have waiters to order food and drink from the in-theater restaurant.  There is a brand new Cinetopia at the mall with 23 theaters--with regular auditoriums, extra large screen auditoriums, living rooms and movie parlors.  We were able to take Chris with us to the movie parlor because it was one  that did allow the under 21 set.  I was pleasantly surprised at how much more beautiful and comfortable the movie parlors are than even the living rooms.  It seats only 24 people.  What is even more surprising is that even though it is so much more comfortable and smaller, the tickets don't cost that much more than a regular theater.  I think they probably make up the difference on selling food and alcohol though.

As it turns out, we did have a few gifts to open.  Bill and I found some Taylor Swift items at a silent auction a few weeks ago.  Bill really wanted to play a trick on Christopher by seeing what his reaction would be to opening it as his Christmas gift.  Chris really HATES Taylor Swift.  I couldn't give him a gag gift and not follow it up with something that he really might like to have so I got him some jeans and socks that he needed, a DVD and a gift certificate to our favorite bagel place.  Bill got his wish by getting exactly the reaction he was hoping for when Chris saw that he got a Taylor Swift gift.  Maddy sent me a vase she bought in Macau.  So we had a little bit of gift opening anyway even though I originally didn't think we would.

Our Christmas ended with a wonderful prime rib dinner.

So I missed my Tom terribly but we made the best of it and even though I didn't get much in the way of physical presents, I got my four wishes that made my Christmas a wonderful one.  I hope that you were all able to enjoy the joy of being with family as well.  After all, that is what Christmas is really all about.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Party Season

Bill and I always keep busy during December attending various parties that we get invited to.  This year was no exception.  As per usual--some are ones that we have attended in the past and others were new to us this year.

On the first, we attended the Rotary Festival of Trees Gala as we usually do.  On the 8th, we went to the Army-Navy Football Game Party in Beaverton and then headed out to LaCenter to attend the Van Dinter's Christmas Lighting Party.  It was pretty amazing with an eclectic collection of lighting--heavily weighted toward Disney characters. 

On the 9th, we went to our friend, Karen Stanley's, home for a fundraising party for the Legacy Salmon Creek Foundation to raise money for the Child Abuse Assessment Team.  A group of high school students collected items for the silent auction as part of their senior volunteer project and we heard a presentation by the physician that runs the program.  As part of the evening, Karen invited a professional dancing couple to do Argentine tango demonstrations.  Karen has a ballroom at her home instead of a living room.  It is a beautiful room with parquet floors, mirrored ball, state of the art sound system, balconies overlooking the ballroom, etc.  She loves to dance and host dances at her home.

On the 14th, Bill and I went to represent The Children's Center at the Portland Air National Guard Base.  The Combat Operations Group hosted their 2nd Annual Chili Cook-off and Toy Drive.  They collected money and toys to give to The Children's Center.  It was kind of fun to go.  There were about 15 kinds of chili to taste with a little bit of rivalry going on and sharing of secrets.  And there were prizes for the best and the hottest chili.  It has been a long time since I have been to that kind of informal military get together but it was a fun lunch time.

On the 15th, we had our annual Columbia Aviation Association Christmas Party.  It was a pleasant evening--mostly spent visiting with our friends, the Oerdings, but others as well.

On the 19th, the Rotary club hosted their Christmas Ships Party at The Quay.  Unfortunately, we were there an hour and still no ships.  I wasn't feeling very well so we decided to leave before they arrived.  We did drive home along the river and did catch a glimpse of them although there was no place to pull over and take pictures.  Plus it was really windy and rainy--so not sure how good they would have turned out anyway.

So that was our holiday season in a nutshell.  Always fun to connect with our friends during the holiday season.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Another Manger Party--1969

Well--this is a blast from the past.  I created this layout for a challenge to scrapbook a childhood memory.  This is a picture of my sister, brother and me along with a couple of friends that my mom babysat.  The year was 1969.  We decided we were going to play out the nativity scene.  Darren played Baby Jesus--probably a little bit too old at age 3.  But it definitely shows the imagination of children in turning a cardboard box into a manger and baby blankets into robes. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Army-Navy Game 2012

Ever since Bill and I started hosting the Army-Navy game parties at CAA years ago, the Army and Navy alumni groups have watched the game together.  It was really fun when we hosted them as there was a lot of ribbing going on between to two groups.  It wasn't so fun for Bill and I--lots of food for me to cook, sometimes running out of food and having to go to the store to buy more, the sewer backing up one year and the In-Focus projector overheating another year.  We finally decided to call it quits and started looking for sports bars to have the parties.  We've been at four different ones in the past several years.  I think we have finally landed on Big Al's in Beaverton as being the best place--enough room and centrally located for most people.  Unfortunately--the gathering has lost the intimacy of our club where there was more give and take between those attending. 

We like to invite our friends, Jeff and Julie, to join us every year.  And Rollie has joined us a few times as well and he was able to come this year.  Army has lost ten years in a row.  So we have been pretty disappointed for years now.  We were really hoping for a win this year.  And the Black Knights came so close.  They were getting ready to score in the last few minutes of the game to go ahead and win but they fumbled on the 14 yard line and lost the ball.  That ended it for their hopes for this year.  I felt so badly for the Army quarterback who didn't get the ball into the fullback's hands. 

We always say--maybe next year.  Although it hasn't come true for a very long time. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Manger Party

The kids at church took this fun picture of the Nativity.  Always good to remember that the real reason for the season is Christ's birthday.  And it was a fun way to celebrate!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Festival of Trees

 Festival of Trees always kicks off our holiday season.  It starts the day before Thanksgiving for Bill.  He is in charge of the tree judging and tallies all the judging and votes to award the winning trees.  The festival starts on the day after Thanksgiving and runs through the weekend.  The Gala to sell the trees and various other fundraising auction items is the next Saturday.  As usual, the trees were beautiful.  The first place awarded by the judges is in the layout with the picture of Bill and me.
But the real crowd pleaser and the one that won the most awards including second place by the judges, the Mayor's Choice, the Rotarians' Choice and the People's Choice was a tree decorated by our friend, Karen Stanley, called Christmas in Paris.  It had lighted Eiffel Towers and French fans etc.  It was very nice.

It is fun to see the trees and fascinating to see how much they sell for.  The highest bid was about $2700 for a tree and the lowest was about $400.  But it all goes for great causes and charities.