Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas 2010

We had a nice and quiet Christmas this year. Sure was nice to finally stay home for a change. We had parties and were gone every weekend in December.

Gary had Thursday off from his work, so he got the day to himself. He didn't know he had it off until he got to work that morning and they told him to go home with pay. I had just pulled into the parking lot of the court house when he called me to get him. I was two minutes late getting clocked in. Thursday was also when the court house had their annual Christmas brunch. It is just a small get together before the holdiay and we much on brunch stuff. I didn't think we were going to have a brunch will all the construction going on. When the head janitor told me that the notice was in our last paychecks I told her that I didn't get anything. She said she didn't either. She went and found out that the notice was printed in real small print on our check stubs. I am now one of the employees who don't read their check stubs. I do now. At the last minute I made some cookies for the bunch.

I had Friday off, so spent the day cleaning house. Jennifer had it off too so she helped. I picked Gary up for lunch and he told me that the store was having an inhouse raffle for the employees to win items such has a computer, tv, golf bag and other bunches of goodies. He said with his luck he would win the golf bag because he doesn't play golf. When I picked him up he was waiting outside with a golf bag. I just laughed. He said he actually won the canoe, but one of his co-workers wanted the canoe so they traded. We have an item for the HOG White Elephant party next year.

We rented movies to watch over the weekend, but ended up watching them all on Christmas Day. We even watched a couple movies on tv. I did make it to church in the morning, was too tired to go to Midnight Mass. I fixed dinner and then we just munched all day long and watched movies.

I got a new digital camera for Christmas. I actually knew I was getting it because Gary told me to order it. I did on Monday and it arrived Thursday afternoon. I have a Nikon D5000 digital SLR camera with a 18-55mm lens. I've been snapping photos at home and learning all about the whistles and bells on it. Haven't had a chance to take it out and have fun, but that will come when I go to the dentist on the 4th. I also got a new leather vest, another piece for my village and a scented oil burner.

Gary got a pair of leather gloves and a big jar of mixed nuts and a $50 gift card for The Outback. Jennifer got a new jewelry box, some jewelry and money.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Being a Grandma is Fun

I am a grandma by default. There are 9 grandchildren between my three stepchildren and six live here in Hardin. Three call me Grandma Pat, the others I'm just Pat and that is ok too. The kids range in age from 16 to 3. There are 6 girls and 3 boys.

Carl has two girls that live here, Alexus (10) and Mariah (7). These girls are the ones who call me Grandma Pat and they even call Jennifer their aunt. They really like it that Jennifer has the same name as their mother, even though she spells her name different. The two girls with their mother take tae kwon do lessons from us.

Donnie has three kids and a step daughter. Shayla (16) is his step daughter that we have adopted as ours. Brandon (14), Tristan (8) and Elyse (4). Brandon and Tristan take lessons from us too. To these kids I'm just Pat.

Linda is living in Evanston and she has three kids. Alyssa (13), Andrew (10) and Brandy (3). We don't get to see these kids.

I admit that I had a hard time with the kids calling me Grandma, but it has grown on me and it's pretty easy now. I would tell our friends that we would spend time with Gary's grandkids and they would look at me funny and ask "well, aren't they your grandkids too". You should see people's faces when I tell them that the kids are my grandkids. Some know my three kids and are surprised to see that they have kids this age. Then I have to go through the whole thing and explain how this works.

This weekend we were busy with grandparent duties. Friday night at the basketball game, Elyse and her dance class performed for half time. They were real cute and I got some photos. Not very good because my camera just doesn't have the range, but they will work. Brandon is in 8th grade and he playes in the high school pep band. He plays drums and is real good, he even gets to play the drum sets. I got some photos of him playing, but those didn't turn out at all.

Yesterday we spent the afternoon shopping with Brandon, Alexus and Mariah. We got them gift cards for Christmas. Gary talked to their mom and told her that we would like to take them shopping and out for lunch. The kids were so excited and couldn't wait until after Christmas, so we took them yesterday. Brandon turned down going hunting with his Dad, just so he could spend time with us.

I rode in the back of the pickup with the girls and let Brandon have the front. More leg room for him and he could visit with Gary. I colored with the girls. Been quite a while and my coloring skills in a moving vehicle are rusty.

We plan to take Tristan and Elyse later. The invite was extended to Shayla, even knowing that she wouldn't want to be seen out in public with us oldies.

Even though the kids' mothers are no longer married to Carl and Donnie, Gary and I still get along with them. We didn't take sides when they split and we always talked to Jenifer and Sasha. In fact Sasha works in the court house with me, so I always get updates on what the kids are doing.

Jennifer and I get alot of hugs from Alexus and Mariah. Mariah even got her Aunt Jennifer a gift for Christmas.

Being a grandma is alot of fun, can't wait for more.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dinner Party

December is the month for parties. This past Saturday we were invited to a friends house, Dick & Joan Russell, for a dinner get together. All we had to bring was a dessert or salad. I told her that I would be bringing a dessert.

I made a chocolate cheesecake for the dinner. I made it Saturday morning and it turned out nice. We left Hardin later in the morning to get some shopping done, so packed up our stuff and headed out.

What a nightmare it was getting around Billings on Saturday. Alot of traffic and it was slow going to get anywhere. In order to move around, you better head where the traffic lights were. If you wanted to get on a street without the benefit of a traffic light you probably should have brought a book to read to get across the intersection. The stores were pretty crowded too. We did get some of our shopping done. Gary said that he would never shop during the Christmas season again. It's only this crowded on the weekends when people are off work and the out of towners come in to shop. Just image what this weekend will be like shopping.

We went to our friends the Butterfields house to follow them to the Russell's house. We had been to the Russells once before and it is not an easy place to find, especially in the dark. We got there at just the right time.

There were nine couples at the dinner and we had a great time. It's always a great time when we get to spend it with our friends. The dinner was at 5:30 pm and we didn't leave until 10:00 pm, as I had to get home. The meal was delicious and all the women laughed over stories. One of the girls ( she is a girl only 19) will never be the same. We are getting her educated and her boyfriend doesn't have a chance. Keep in mind that I'm one of the young ones of our group of friends (under 50). That poor girl was blushing all night and her boyfriend sat at our table. He said our conversations were more interesting than the mens.

We were all sent home with a package of Joan's homemade fudge, very yummy, and some lasagne.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tae Kwon Do Party

Last Saturday was our annual Tae Kwon Do and Judo Christmas Party and Awards Banquet. It is held at the Billings Hotel every year.

This is a dress up party and Gary just hates it. Not the party itself, just the fact that he has to wear his suit and tie. He swore that when he retired that he would never wear a suit and tie again. I like to dress up real nice once a year.

This year we spent the weekend with our friends in Billings. Friday night is the Toy Run party, Saturday is Tae Kwon Do and Sunday is the Toy Run. Last year we drove back and forth, this year we stayed with our friends the Butterfields. I think they just wanted to see us dressed up in our fancy clothes.

We had to be at the party by 5:00 for a short business meeting and also for the instructors to sign the black belt certificates. We got a run down on what happened during the year and a schedule of events for the upcoming year.

Every year there is a raffle for prizes and this year the grand prizes were a blue ray dvd player and a 27" flat screen tv. There are also other items wrapped up. This year they tried something different. Each school had to make a basket for the raffle. I made our basket with different flavored coffees and teas. It was hard coming up with an idea and I didn't want to make one strictly for a male or female. You don't know who would end up with the basket.

We had our meal and it was very good. We had three different kinds of salads, rice, mashed potatoes and gravy, chicken and roast beef. It was very delicious. There were all kinds of desserts on the table. No chocolate for me to choose from so I was forced to take a piece of raspberry cheesecake. Oh the sacrifices one has to make.

After dinner is the awards. All people who are third degree black belts and above have to come up front. I am the only woman high rank. My job was to pin the roses on the people as they came forward to receive their black belt certificate. I just handed the people their flower, or else it would have been a huge mess. Most of them didn't want it pinned on anyway, just two people did and I didn't poke them. I received an award for 2010 Outstanding Associate Instructor. I was surprised. I received a very nice plaque that we will hang up in our school.

After the awards the fun begins. A DJ is hired every year for the dancing and in between they draw tickets for the raffle items. I buy $10 worth of tickets. After a drought for the past couple years, I did win a small raffle item. I got a mobile organizer. Not sure what I will use it for, but have decided that I already have a white elephant item for our HOG group next year. I didn't win any of the big prizes, but then there is always next year.

All dressed up
My award

Monday, December 6, 2010

Roaddogs Toy Run

Jake & Aletha Moran; Gary; Kitty & Dale Butterfield

What a busy weekend we had. Friday night we headed up to Billings for the parties. We stayed at our friends the Butterfields for the whole weekend.

Friday was the Roaddogs Holiday Jam at one of the bars in town, Bones. We go to this place for our HOG meetings and they do cater to bikers. There was a live band and dancing. This year the band was Zen and they play classic rock. Music from the late 70's to the 90's. Funny to think that the music we listened to when we were teens is now considered classic. To me classic rock is the music from the 50's & 60's. We got there early to get a big enough table and to save seats for our other friends who were coming to the party. We got a table right in front of the band so that we can see what is going on. We ate our dinner and waited for our friends to arrive. There were some already there when we got there, so our group had two tables with enough chairs with backs to sit comfortably. To get into the party you either paid a cover charge or you had to bring a toy, we opted to bring toys.

The Roaddogs also auction off alot of real nice stuff, this year the big stuff was a 50" HD tv and a grandfather clock like the one I have. Some of the other items were laptop computers, smaller flat screen tvs, digital cameras, leather coats and more nice stuff. There is also a silent auction at the same time, but nothing that I wanted. At one point Gary was trying to get the bar servers attention during the auction, so without thinking he raised his arm. I grabbed his arm and put it down, then informed him that he just placed a $130 bid on an item. Fortunately he was outbid in no time. Whew. All the money raised on Friday night is then spent on Saturday morning for the toys to deliver on Sunday. The paper reported that $23,000 was raised. We had a great time with our friends and dancing to good music. We left the bar at 12:30 and then stayed up and visited with our friends until 2:00 am.

We slept in a bit on Saturday morning, got up around 8:00 which for us is sleeping in. Also our friends were up and about and it would have been rude to be lazy. Saturday was our tae kwon do party, but all of that info will be in another post.

Sunday morning we packed up our clothes and loaded our truck up and then went down to the fire station to meet up with our friends and be in the Toy Run Parade. The Christian Motorcyle group hosts a breakfast for everyone, they serve biscuits and gravy at no charge, but we leave a donation for them. Got to visit with people and watch the bikers get their bikes ready for the parade. The side streets of Billings are horrible, not plowed and there are deep ruts and ice. It was cold about 20 degrees, cold enough but not below zero like last year. We drove the parade route in our truck. Everyone arrived at Rimrock Mall in one piece.

We managed to find a parking space and make our way into the mall to help unload the toys. I carried in one load then stayed inside and took photos. The goal every year is to bury the Salvation Army tree, which was done in no time.

Gary and our friend Kitty caught a family stealing a bike, a very large bag of toys and a large stuffed animal. I missed it but apparently Kitty saw them carrying this stuff and said that it didn't look right. All of the stuff should be going in and not going out. She turned around and Gary followed her and confronted the family. The items they were trying to walk out with were already delivered to the tree. The guy said that he though that this stuff was for anyone "poor" to take. Anyway, the toys were taken back and delivered to the tree. What kind of dirt bag would steal from the Salvation Army.

My photos of the weekend are posted on my Picasa site, but here are a couple from the parade.
The trucks loaded with toys.
The Salvation Army tree getting buried.
Didn't take much time to bury the tree.

Friday, December 3, 2010


We had a nice and quiet Thanksgiving at the Liming house. The weather wasn't great, had alot of snow and it was cold, but started to warm up. I cooked up the meal with our favorite holiday foods. We had invited some guests to come, but only one was able to make it. The other one got called in to work. I was afraid that we wouldn't have enough turkey, but there was alot of meat on that 10 pound bird. We did have our leftovers.

I took Black Friday off, not to go shopping for the big deals, just because with the schools closed for the holiday work would have been very long and boring. Jennifer had to work Friday morning, so we decided to go shopping when she got off at 3:00.

We left Hardin around 4:00 pm. Jennifer didn't get off work until 3:30 and by the time she got home and changed out of her uniform it was 4:00. We stopped at Wal-Mart as I got my photo Christmas cards done and needed to pick them up. I also had to get the stuff for my basket I'm making for our Tae Kwon Do party on Dec. 4. We got all of our must haves done and now to the fun part.

A couple years ago I started working on a Christmas Village. I have quite the collection of buildings, now I need people and the little stuff that makes a village. That is a hard quest this year. Normally I am able to get the village stuff at Wal-Mart, but not this year. We even looked in the mall and nothing. We stopped off at Target to look, nothing. I decided to check out K-Mart and if nothing then we could go home. I found paydirt. Picked up some people for my village and I'm happy. Couldn't believe how hard it was to find Christmas Village stuff. I did get some ideas on what to get Jennifer this year. Told her not to buy stuff she needed with Christmas coming.

We had a good time and enjoyed ourselves. The best part was no snow, had good roads and good weather. It was on Saturday when I found out about the Christmas parade Billings has on Friday night and we missed it. It would have been fun going downtown and strolling the streets. Maybe next year.

It snow again on Sunday all day and night, this time we had wind so that caused some drifts. Monday morning the front of my car was all drifted in. Fortunately the back was clear so I was able to get in and out of the driveway. In one week we have had 2 feet of snow on the ground.

I know that it is winter and we do get snow in Montana, but do we have to get it all at once. Gary bought a snow blower last year with the theory that once he bought it, it wouldn't snow again. Good investment, he has been out several times already blowing the snow. He does our neighbors walk too. Just in time for the state snow plow to plow all that snow and then some right back on the sidewalk.

The city has been printing the snow removal code in the paper and the briefs. Property owners are required to have the snow removed from their sidewalks four hours after the snow or by 11:00 am which ever comes first. Also property owners are not allowed to put the snow in the streets or gutters. Some people do and some don't. Even the city wasn't very fast on clearing the city owned sidewalks. It was a couple days after the last storm that the city removed the snow off of their walks. We are so glad that Mom's neighbors take care of her sidewalk.

This weekend we are busy with parties and the toy run. Tonight is the toy run party, then tomorrow night is the Tae Kwon Do party and Sunday morning is the toy run at the mall. Will tell you all about our weekend next time.