A good bit has been happening. Over Veteran's Day weekend Charles and I traveled up to central IL so he could meet my family. As I said previously, between winter weather possibilities in late February and the distance away from family I do not expect them to be here for the nuptials. I felt they needed to at least see and talk to the fellow who has swept me off my feet. We arrived on Friday evening and Saturday met my sister Diane at Schooner's for king tenderloin sandwiches and those famous onion rings. I also took him all over Bloomington-Normal to show him all the places I had lived and worked. Sunday my brother Phil and wife Jen hosted us all at their home. All but one sister was there and even a few of the nieces as well along with two of the great-granddaughters. Charles is still talking about what good cooks we have in our family and raving about Karen's (Jen's mom) cherry pies. Always good to spend time with my family.
Originally we had planned on stopping on the way back at brother Steve's Tennessee home as he was still recuperating from his double major surgeries in October. As my parents, Charlie and I were visiting Saturday evening, the family room room door opened and there he stood with wife Jan right behind him saying "I hear there is a party going on". I don't think there was a dry eye in the room. We had visited him at Vanderbilt in mid-October right before his discharge home but this was so special to have him with the family after we almost lost him--twice.
Thanksgiving was celebrated twice in one day with my instant, soon to be acquired family. Charlie's youngest sister Penny hosted his family gathering in Lincoln, AL. Later in the day we had been invited to join his daughter-in-law's family near Lineville, AL, a county or so away. Below is a picture of us in Penny's back yard. The two guys are Charles' sons--Brian on his right with his wife Melissa and her two daughters Raleigh and Graclyn. Missing are the oldest daughter and her two sons. Jeff is on his left with wife Michelle. Charles is holding Abby, the twincesses Emma and Araya are in front of me and Michelle while Zeke is standing in front of Gramps. Jeff has an older boy in high school but Trenton lives in Kentucky with his mom. I have met him though when he visited last summer.
Abby and I--Charlie's two best girls, I'm told
Right after Thanksgiving my sister Diane and brother-in-law Rick headed down to Gulf Shores from Illinois. They had rented a condo at Crystal Shores right on beach till the following Saturday and invited Charlie and I to come down while they were there. However, we left on Sunday November 27th to go visit his sister and brother-in-law near Destin, FL. She was the only sibling I had not yet met and Gulf Shores was about a two hour drive to the west of there. It seemed like a good opportunity to visit with them. Danny and Ellen both work at the Sandestin Resort and took us over there after supper to look at the lights and stroll around the lagoon and park like area. This oversized chair, below, reminded me of the old "Edith Ann" skit by Lily Tomlin on Laugh-In. Ellen is such a stitch and I think I laughed until my sides ached! Their neighbor had come by and he was kind of egging her on. I was warned that the situation would be similar if Ellen and Gary their brother who is closest to her in age get together.
We got to Gulf Shores Monday afternoon and started the return trip on Thursday December 1st that week. We strolled along the beach trying to avoid the jelly fish--ugh there! I love the water though it was a bit cool and windy. There were storms coming in so one day we did have some rain. Charlie and I went souvenir shopping and out to lunch that day so we avoided most of it. The four of us did a nature walk at the state park one day as well. Fun times! Diane and I worked on the wedding invitation/announcement thing we planned to send out and talked about some of the wedding details. She is going to be my matron of honor, after all. Diane took this picture after we left, LOL.
We have had the grandkids take turns staying overnight with us though Abby has been here a bit more than the others because she is not in school yet. She and Gramps are tight though since she was born after he had retired and his wife and mother-in-law had passed away. We've also been on grandparent detail as Michelle had Christmas shopping to do. Brian and his family live just down the road from me about a mile or so. Charlie had been living with his son Jeff and his family about 33 miles from here in a small apartment in their home. We are usually back and forth from there once or twice a week, sometimes more, especially now that we are gradually moving his things to the house.
I had two Christmas parties on the same day for my two Tuesday quilt groups but missed the JOY meeting due to the return trip from Gulf Shores. I've gone to see Trolls, Dr. Strange and Rogue One which is more movies in the theaters than I have done for years. Because the whole family is into the Star Wars series, I have now seen 3.5, 4, 7 and parts of others on the marathon on TNT that proceeded the release of Rogue One, LOL. Not too worry about the ones I've missed as the DVD's are on hand along with lots of "Dr. Who".
As expected I have barely even stepped into my sewing room. That's okay though. I will--when things settle down a bit around here. He is encouraging me to do so as he knows it is something that I enjoy. Smart man!
He's nursed me through family emergencies, tooth issues and a long run of bronchitis. Recently I've returned the favor---bout of flu and a miserable toothache and subsequent extraction. Later this week I'll have to suck it up and drive the van back from Birmingham and the VA hospital and the eye doctor appointment. I hate driving in Birmingham and on I-20 but I'll do it for him.
We finally got the brush burnt off from the 4 holly bushes we are attempting to remove at the end of the lane. Apparently there is still some drought situation on-going but there had been enough rainfall to allow the State of Alabama finally lift the burning ban. (I've heard 17 inches behind on rainfall totals.) That burning off two large brush piles was an almost an all-day deal especially since we raked up another 4 or 5 wheel barrels full of leaves, brush and twigs on top of that and I dragged in a bunch of dried up stuff from the kudzu bank too. I know I sort of smelled like a smoked ham by the time I hit the shower--salty and smoky. We need some parts for the chain saw but are hopeful that the alligator lopper can deal with at least some of the stubby bits of the bushes that remain. We'll get back to those later.
Right now we are dealing with some plumbing issues in the master bathroom. I knew that the stool was leaning to the right and the flooring was suspect. Until recently this bathroom was seldom used and in fact, often had the water shut off in there to prevent the stool from self-flushing. A couple days ago, before the bathroom flooded, we had talked about the need to get this fixed down the line. He also wanted to replace or upgrade the bathroom lighting---well, he is a master electrician and qualified to do so! Go for it, I said. It will be addressed but on the back burner for now. Water was leaking from somewhere--the sink had water dripping a bit near the P-trap but the main deal was cracked tank on toilet. The master bath had a curved counter that extended over to the stool with a large mirror above. With a gap of only about 3 inches above the toilet tank, there was no possible way to pull the stool up without dismantling the vanity, counter top, mirror etc. We have made a couple of scouting expeditions to Lowe's to decide on what we might want for replacement and to pick up needed supplies. He cut out about a 2 foot x 2 foot section around the stool and rebuilt the flooring---plywood with particle board is not a good choice as pretty much disintegrated. As he was removing the rest of the flooring (two courses of vinyl flooring) this morning, we found that more of the crappy floor will need to come out but not as much as we feared.
Add in the wedding details--two months away, after all. We both had written down our list of friends and relations but I needed to track down the addresses. My Wedding Planning for Dummies said the invitations needed to go out about 8 weeks before the wedding. They hit the mail box on Saturday! I am thrilled to know that both my sisters are coming to the wedding along with my niece Randi. Janet said that Randi will either take pictures or video of the wedding as their wedding gift so we will have a keepsake and family members that cannot come can see it. The best thing is that Diane has arranged for Mom and Dad to fly with her so they will be here too! Dad will give me away--he officiated at my sisters' wedding and if I remember correctly, my brothers walked them down the aisle. I know that Steve and Jan are planning on coming down from Tennessee--they RSVP'd almost as soon as I said I was getting married, LOL. I think another of my brothers and his wife are coming too based on something Diane emailed me. I've gone to expecting just my matron of honor to come to a good many of my family members joining us. Charlie said just because I didn't have my family here the first time or didn't have an engagement ring, etc doesn't mean I can't have those things THIS time.
Charlie and I will meet with the pastor in early January to discuss the ceremony and get some questions answered about the fellowship hall usage. His daughter-in-law and I have had some discussion about the cake and food for the reception but will have to put our heads together a bit more. Melissa said maybe like this one below but incorporating teal and silver/gray (color of my dress and his suit) and possibly a traditional topper. I assume a rehearsal/rehearsal dinner deal will be needed too especially with family members coming in from out of state. Trying to keep this low-key! I didn't have to do any of this stuff first time around so what do I know about flowers, etc?
Christmas Day was low key for us. I told Charlie that he was to take the day off from doing anything in the bathroom though! Michelle and the grandkids left on the 17th for Kansas as they await the birth of her first blood niece or nephew any day now. The kids opened their gifts after school let out for break the day before. We had invited Jeff to come join us for dinner but he was not feeling well and bowed out. I had prepared what I could on Saturday tracking down a pecan topped sweet potato casserole that Charlie likes. We expect Jeff this evening after work so I'll pack some of those leftovers for him. I mentioned making ham balls or ham salad of some of the leftover ham but he says he doesn't care for either of those choices. I guess maybe I'll explore some other options! I'm not used to dealing with picky eaters but I'll learn.
It has gotten so warm this past week that I was able to drag the plants back outside again--low 70's and back to wearing shorts again. Seems so odd after about 5 nights of dripping water from the faucets and opening the cabinet doors to the exterior water source wall. Meanwhile, the Midwest seems to be going through ice and snow issues.
Guess that is about all I can think of to pass on at this point other than to wish you all the very best in 2017. You never know what unexpected things may come your way when you least expect it! I am living and loving my 2016 surprise, after all.