Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve

We do not do anything for New Year's Eve typically. We're just not that interested in putting our lives on the line due to drunk drivers. So we made a nice steak dinner (awesome to be able to grill out on December 31st!) and I am having a nice glass of wine as I sit at my computer. Today has been pretty introspective as I have spent the last two days scanning documents and photos of my ancestors and current family members. I had asked for a Flip-Pal Scanner as a present since I had seen one in action at the Federation of Genealogical Societies annual conference in Springfield earlier this year. It is amazingly light-weight, runs on batteries and scans 4" x 6" pictures like a champ. For larger documents or photos, you simply remove the cover, flip it over and scan the item in pieces. As long as you have properly overlapped the scans, the stitching software provided puts it all back together with no seams. Amazing!

Anyway, as you can gather I received one for Christmas so I have been putting it through its paces. It does a wonderful job, and I have been uploading the scans to my family tree. I have been thinking a lot about the people in the photos. What was their day like? How in the world did they manage to raise 8 (or 10 or 12) children? How did they feel when their children moved away to another state? All the strangers in the box and the stories that will remain untold. While our lives today may not seem all that important, down the road our descendants may be very interested in how we spent our time. What stories will you preserve in 2012?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Unwrapped

Andy and Megan left for home at 8:00 this morning. They are anticipating a 13 hour drive. Ugh! Hopefully they will not run into any of the crummy weather that passed through here the other day. We had a really nice time with them. On Monday Megan's parents and two brothers drove over from Indiana to spend the afternoon and evening with us. We ordered in pizzas so that I would be able to enjoy myself and not spend the whole time in the kitchen.

Yesterday we went to the botanical garden to see the Gardenland Express Holiday Flower and Train exhibit. This is something we try to go to every year. I have to say that I was pretty disappointed this year, as were Andy and Megan. Playing off of the year long "Treemendous" theme at the garden, it was really an exhibit about trees with the trains playing a small supporting role. Jim thought it was the best ever, but then he is a landscape architect. We didn't spend much time at the garden, instead heading over to Gringo Jones and the Bug Store to do some browsing. On the plus side we did find some ceramic house numbers that we want to glue to the concrete steps down by the street in front of our house. Since our house sits so far back from the street it is hard for people to see our address. We had a nice brass sign down in the front planting bed for a few years, but after some kids stole it we decided we would go this route instead.

Katie is at a movie with a friend, so it is just the dog and me here at the house. It seems so quiet after the hustle and bustle of the past few days. I guess this is just the warm up for mid-January when Katie takes off again for the last part of her college program.

Friday, December 23, 2011

On the Eve of Christmas Eve

For some reason this year I had all my shopping and wrapping done early. I need to make one last stop at the grocery store tomorrow morning to pick up the meat for Christmas Eve dinner. I am going to go early so that I don't turn into a grouch. In fact, I think hubby and I are going to go workout at 7 a.m. and then hit the store right after. Andy and Megan are due to arrive around 12:30, and I still have to tidy up the guest bedroom and bath. But that shouldn't take me too long.

We picked Katie up at the airport Sunday night. The place was fairly quiet at 9:00 at night. Since we had arrived a little early we walked through the airport looking at the improvements. Nearly all the glass has been replaced from the tornado, though we were surprised to still see a few windows boarded up. What's up with that? The new waiting area for those picking up passengers from the D concourse is quite nice, as are the two new luggage carousels. I think all of those are being replaced eventually.

It has been great to have Katie home. Being able to connect with her via phone and Skype was great, but nothing beats being able to talk to your kids face to face. She is still a bit jet-lagged, but we managed to get some things accomplished this week. Most notably today we dealt with US Cellular. We had just purchased Katie a new phone that would work in China right before she left in August. Unfortunately it was stolen while she was there. US Cellular gave me the bad news that there was an issue with the $100 rebate, and also the insurance on the phone. They told me they would not replace this (expensive) phone. We had Katie buy a cheap phone in China so she could keep in touch with the other students, her teachers and her internship supervisor. I decided to wait until she came home to deal with US Cellular again. We worked with the store manager today and she immediately took care of both of the issues. She gave me the $100 credit, which has been applied to my bill, and gave Katie a replacement phone. Woo, hoo! I did not anticipate such a great outcome. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

Last night was the office party. We went to the Moolah Bowl on Lindell for eating, drinking and bowling - not necessarily a winning combination, at least for my bowling game. The building is beautiful and contains a standard size (if there is such a thing any more) movie theater on the upper level, as well as a tiny theater that has couches and lounging chairs to sit on while you watch the show. In the lower level is the bowling alley, which was closed until 10:30 p.m. for our party. We had a really good time at the party, but I feel like I didn't get a chance to talk to everyone since you kind of had to stick around your bowling lane for when your turn came up. But it was fun nonetheless.

At 10:30 the doors opened and the local crowd came in to drink and/or bowl. It was definitely time for us to leave. I'm sure they were looking at Jim and me, wondering who let the old people in! We got out of there around 11:00 and came back to our car to find a nasty surprise. We had gotten a parking ticket! And so had all the other employees parked at the angled parking directly in front of the Moolah. I looked around for any kind of signage that would indicate we should not park there, and I didn't see any. One of the other employees noted that it was down about 10 cars or so from where I had parked. Not nice, St. Louis City police! If you are going to make the parking spaces in front of businesses permit parking only, then have the courtesy to post signage so we stand a chance of knowing this fact. It amazes me that with the city being in decline (not to mention the #1 murder capital in the US) they would do something like this. I can guarantee that we will have our next event in the county where employees can park by the venue for free.

Are you listening, Mayor Slay?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree

By last weekend I had all the decorations up, including the tree. We normally don't get our tree too early because we purchase a real one and the needles always seem to drop so soon. But we did get one slightly early this year since our weekends are super busy this year. During the week I got the Christmas cards and letters in the mail. I wish I could say I was done shopping, but that simply is not the case. I do have some gifts purchased and have ideas for a few more. Katie is really the stumper this year as she is not here to give me ideas. Since she is in finals this week, I won't bother her with prompting until later in the week. She gets home Sunday night, and I cannot wait to see her!

Friday night we went to see "The Rat Pack" at the Fox Theatre. It was really good - similar to "Jersey Boys" in that it was the music of the particular group, but without the background story of the guys in the group. I think I actually enjoyed it more than "Jersey Boys" due to that fact. It was like an old Las Vegas Show. However I did not enjoy the behavior of the woman sitting next to me. She was fairly quiet during the first half, but then I don't know what she was drinking (and perhaps smoking?) at intermission. During every song and some of the dialogue in the second act she would shout out "woo hoo!" (particularly during Dean Martin segments when he was discussing his drinks) I'm looking at her like "We are not at a Justin Bieber concert here!" It was truly annoying. I had to angle myself towards Jim so I didn't get drunk on her fumes. I might have anticipated something like that at the Pageant, but it was pretty ridiculous at the Fox.

Last night we attended a Christmas party for one of Jim's business groups. I had a really interesting time discussing traveling and genealogy with one of the couples there. It is nice to find some common ground with people you only see once a year. The food was amazing as always, and I simply loved the Oreo Truffles they had there. Oh my! I think Katie and I will need to make some of them when she gets home.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Sicker Than a Dog?

Yesterday after I worked out I ran to Target to pick up some household items and additional wrapping paper and gift tags. When I got home I immediately sniffed something in the air. And it was not a good something. The dog was laying in his customary place on the couch in the conservatory, looking as innocent as a new baby. Walking through the house with my nose in the air (literally), I found that the dog had gotten sick in the sitting room off of the front entryway. And I don't mean by vomiting, which would have been way easier to deal with in this case. Our house has lots of hardwood floors, with some tile thrown in. Does the dog utilize any of that floor space? Oh no...he chooses the oriental rug to do the deed. The one with the long, white fringe around the edges.

Grabbing a bucket with water, carpet cleaner and a cloth, I knelt in the middle of the rug to begin the cleanup. Big mistake, I realize as I feel something seeping through my jeans. Apparently there was some spraying that went on. Ewwww! Without going into more gory details, I did the best I could with the rug. But I'm thinking it may be making a trip to Woodard's this weekend for a professional job. I doubt I did a thorough enough job.

This time of year Kirby's allergies kick into high gear. He has tested positive for moderate allergic reaction to grasses (fescue, rye, bluegrass - basically everything in our yard) as well as evergreens (also abundant in our yard). But what seems to bother him the most is junipers. I always thought it was weird that his allergies are worse in the winter, when most things have died off. But guess what blooms December through February? Junipers! Who knew? So I have an appointment to take him into the vet today for a check-up. He will probably clean out his ears, which tend to get infected when the allergies kick in, and perhaps give Kirby a prednisone shot. That shot lasts about a month and really relieves his itching. Poor Kirby - today it is going to get worse before it gets better!