Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Time

Here are some pictures of our Christmas preparations and celebrations.

Putting up the tree and decorating at my parents' house is always a 2-day affair. There are stacks of totes full of ornaments, figurines, candles and all sorts of miscellaneous Christmas crap. Getting the angel in position and hanging ornaments on the top of the tree requires a very tall ladder. Marli was in the Christmas spirit this year, complete with Santa hat!

These are just a few of the decorations we put up around the house. The big toy soldier gives me the creeps sometimes. It always scares me into thinking there is someone else in the house with me when I'm there alone. I know, it's childish, but I'm not the only one who gets the feeling. My child does too!

On laundry day, Marli made pretzel treats with Hershey Kisses and M&M's. They were tasty and everyone loved them on Christmas Eve.

This is my mom's tree on Christmas Eve after everyone opened all their gifts. I love Christmas Eve. I love the Christmas decorations at Mom's house. The only thing missing was a fire in the fireplace.

We went to Mom's house for coffee cake and leftovers on Christmas Day. That is when we exchange gifts within our immediate family.

Marli got an iPod from Kristi and family. She was really excited! Can you tell? We gave Tyler gift cards to so he can buy Cubs tickets or Cubs stuff. Marli wrapped it, in several boxes, using a whole roll of wrapping paper! Lizzie was thrilled with her bathrobe from Grandma and Papa. Emily thought she was hot stuff with her credit card. All the kids got Visa gift cards from Grandma and Papa. That happy look on my parents faces is due to the gift certificate from Merry Maids that Kristi gave Mom. Smart gift idea to give a woman who works full time an hour from home. I gave her useful stuff - gloves and slippers.

We hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and send warm wishes for a happy and prosperous New Year!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Concert in the Cold

Who could resist $6 concert tickets? No matter that it was 50 degrees outside. No matter that half the crowd was there just to see ZZ Top. No matter that the aroma of not-so-legal smoking materials wafted in the air. It was a fabulous concert! I had a blast!

Rodney Atkins was great! He should be headlining his own shows!

Brooks & Dunn were amazing!

ZZ Top still rocks after all these years!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

What I did today

I spent the day hanging out at my sister's house with my nieces, and their pets. They swam, they ate, they argued, they Easy Baked some interesting concoctions that were supposed to be a cake, brownies and cookies. They made a mess of fingernail polish. They pierced my eardrums more than once with screeches of pain, anger and delight. I did my laundry, for free, in air conditioning. It was a little slice of heaven.

Here is the "day spa" which involved Emily and Lizzie painting Marli's nails some interesting shades.

This is the final result of the nail painting.

This is Barkley. She's the best dog on the planet. She's also a little camera shy.

This is Sugar. She's older than dirt, but the sweetest, most lovable cat ever!

This is Cookie. He squawks anytime the girls' start screaming.

This is Hope, the newest addition to the family. She doesn't like to be held, she's a huge fat cat and she is the daughter of the cat that has adopted my dad at work.

Friday, July 18, 2008

At the races... Yeehaw!!!

After torturing me for 2 days by text message and email about the fact that they were at the NASCAR races at Chicagoland Speedway, Jen and Mo begged an extra ticket from their hosts and invited me to the Sprint Cup race Saturday night. Needless to say, I was out the door in a heartbeat!

The traffic was much better than I anticipated and parking was not bad at all. I was a little worried given all the rain we’d had over the previous couple of days. Jen and Mo met me at the entrance to the infield and we headed over to the Expo area to spend some money. While I was waiting for them, I spotted Jamie MacMurray and Kasey Kahne being driven around on golf carts. On the trek over to the Expo area, Richard Petty passed us. You couldn’t miss the guy in his signature black hat, but of course, Jen and I noticed and Mo missed it completely.

It must have been fate that the first trailer we encountered was a Newman trailer. I got shirts for Marli and me and a sticker for the car. We wandered a bit more, I got stuff for the other kids and then we headed back to the infield. I had no idea what to expect and boy, was I surprised with my first view of the track!

They were in the new Turn 4 area of the infield and I think if I wanted to, I could have spit on the track from where we were. Holy cow! It was amazingly calm around there despite RV’s packed together like sardines in a can. Except for the spot directly across from us; it was empty. I really think Fate was on my side this weekend!

I thought it was loud in the grandstands. Man, was I wrong! It was so loud that we couldn’t hear a thing that was going on. I brought my radio and headphones figuring I could listen to the broadcast on US99 and protect my ears at the same time. No way that was happening. So really, we had no idea what was going on outside of our view, which while nice and close through turns 3 & 4, left a lot to be desired on the other side of the track. It wasn’t a terribly exciting race, no major wrecks, not a lot of bumping and passing. But it was an experience I’ll never forget, that’s for sure. I took pictures of several of the busses for my dad to look at so he can make his own. Though I think after having experienced the race from both the infield and the grandstands, my ideal way to spend time at the track is to camp out/tailgate in the parking lot, but watch the race from the stands.

After the race was over I hung out with Jen & Mo a while since I figured it was silly to fight all the traffic. We wandered all the way around the infield. We saw a bunch of haulers leaving, though none of the important ones (Newman). We saw a massive pile of tires and some of the most bizarre RV/bus setups you could ever imagine. One RV had a slide from the top to get down. A few slots actually had little pools to kill time in. And I saw more bean bags being thrown in one place than I ever have before in my entire life (I have to get a set of those).

Thanks Jen and Mo, I had a fabulous, once-in-a-lifetime night!

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Sunday, July 6, 2008

More Fireworks

It was another crazy day. We hauled ourselves up to Palatine for Jillian's graduation party. There was, of course, plenty of yummy food and drink and lots of family. Unfortunately we had to bow out early to get Chelsea home so we missed out on some of the fun, like cake, s'mores by the fire pit, and swimming.

We drove straight through to Bourbonnais to drop Marli and Chelsea off at Chelsea's house and headed over to Great-Grandma's. We visited with her for a bit while Lee did some work there. We made a few more stops, then pulled over to the side of the road to watch the fireworks. Actually, we pulled into a parking lot of a small plaza that would enable us to get the heck out before all the people at the mall swarmed the roads.

The show didn't start until after 9:30, but when it did, it started with a bang. I honestly thought they were starting with the Grand Finale. The show went on and on. I, of course, forgot the camera (story of my life), so Lee suggested I try to take pictures with my phone. Imagine my surprise when it actually worked! Not all that well, but they are not bad. Here are a few of the better shots. Those lights at the bottom, that is Northfield Square Mall. They light them off from behind the mall every year. The show went on for so long that we actually got bored and left early. We were probably 5 minutes out of town when I saw what I assume was the Grand Finale out the back window of the car.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Independence Day

We broke tradition this year and actually went to the park to see the fireworks. We dropped the van off in the parking lot at the park in the morning with the chairs and coats. We walked back later in the evening. I'm so glad we did that. By the time we got there around 8 the whole area was a madhouse. We met up with Marli and her friends on the walk to the park and that was about the last I saw of them until the fireworks were over.

After the fireworks show we went to my parents' house. From their deck you can see all the fireworks you could ever want to see. We usually go to their house for the fireworks because you can see the shows from at least 4 different towns, not to mention the assorted pyromaniacs in the area. The fireworks were too far away to get pictures of, but Marli and Chelsea made interesting enough subjects!

When we got home, Lee's ex-wife called that they were taking Nate to the ER, so Lee and I hopped in the car and headed down. He's all good now, but it was a LONG night. So you will please excuse me as I head back to my bed for some more shut eye. There will be more fireworks pictures posted tonight or tomorrow. Bradley is doing their fireworks tonight and since we will be in the area anyway, I have decided that we will stay and watch them too!