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December, 2007

Thursday, December 13

I think weíve mentioned that weíre going to be here at MacDill AFB until after Christmas.  So there isnít much new going on with us.  Weíre working every day on the business side of life.  Iíve gone shopping several times at the thrift stores.  Weíve visited with family that live here in the area. 
One Saturday when we visited Macís mom we took the scanner with us.  I scanned the family pictures she had (several hundred) and Mac labeled them as to who was in the picture, date, etc.  We spent about 4 hours scanning photos.  Mac still has to finish labeling.  When completed Mac and his mom will pick some pictures to add to her digital frame.  Weíre glad that we can do this for her and for us.  Now the pictures are stored in several locations, where fire or natural disaster cannot destroy them.
Mac built a table for our new TV, it looks great and it is just the right height for viewing comfort.  When weíre traveling the TV can be stowed between the legs.  He used an oak stair tread for the table top and it has a nice rounded edge.  He used 4 square oak table legs.  It needed no staining, just a clear coat of varnish.  It really looks nice.  Oh, in addition he covered the wall behind the TV table with some paneling and used molding for the edge.  The wall had some water damage and needed repairing.  So he covered it attractively with paneling.  I really think it looks nice.  He did a great job.  Now he just needs to build something for the area where the old TV was; right now itís a gaping hole there.
Our furry companion K.C. (Kitty Cat) who was on deaths door back in September has gone to heaven.  These three months weíve struggled to get him to eat enough.  Heíd eat some and then heíd quit eating again, only eating a little tuna juice and maybe a nibble or two of food.  He again lost weight.  He never seemed to be suffering though so we continued trying to feed him and keep him alive.  Since September weíve seen all the family that loved K.C., everyone got to say goodbye to him and tell him what a special cat he was.  Late Monday afternoon he started throwing up and acting like he was suffering some.  We had already made the decision that if he was suffering weíd put him to sleep.  We hugged, petted, and loved him telling him how much joy he had brought to our lives these past 18 years.  He peacefully passed away at the vets office.  He will be missed. 

Saturday, December 15

Sorry it's been so long since I posted, and I'm glad that Chris posted on Thursday.  I know a lot of people try to follow our blog, and it's disappointing for you when we don't write anything for a week or two. 

We've enjoyed visiting with family lately, my mom, and our daughter Nikki and grandson Austin.  We took a few more pictures of Austin, click on the photo of him for more.

Chris mentioned that we bought a new TV and I built a table for it.  We needed a new TV because there was no comfortable way to watch the old TV. It was located in the front, 90 degrees left of the recliner loveseat.  The TV needed to be directly in front of the loveseat, and with the space available nothing but a flat screen made any sense at all.   While shopping, and looking at price tags, my scotch heritage came to the forefront and I went "bottom fishing".  I bought the least expensive 32 inch LCD I could find.  It's a Westinghouse, and was only $549 at Best Buy.  We've had it for several weeks, and we're completely satisfied with its performance. 

I did a lot of thinking and planning regarding how to mount or position the TV.  We wanted it secure for travel, but at the right height for viewing.  We also wanted it to look OK.  I originally thought of a simple rectangular unit built of 1x10s.  Instead I bought an oak stair tread and 4 oak parsons table legs and put together a simple and functional piece.  It's attached to the wall and the floor, and I hope it stays put.  While traveling, we'll put the TV underneath, and it will fit snugly between the legs.  In the before and after photos you can see the wiring is run loose.  I still need to conceal it somewhere.

Sunday Morning, Dec 15

Have you ever noticed that sometimes your brain doesn't fully engage?  It's as if only half of what comes in sticks.  It's 5:00 AM and the wind woke me up.  Last night we listened to the weather report and knew to expect windy weather.  I remember hearing "north winds" which would be the best for us since our awning is on the south side of the RV.  We have the awning tied out, and usually leave it there unless severe weather is forecast.  Well, for some reason it didn't register in my brain that we'd have winds from the west too, before they shifted, along with some potentially severe thunderstorms.  Now I'm sitting here praying the awning makes it through the next half hour.  There's a point of no return that you pass where trying to take in the awning may be more dangerous than just sitting it out.  We passed that point about 15 minutes ago while I was sleeping.

Hopefully the awning will make it.  One concern is that the awning is old, and could rip at the seam.  I've already made a small repair to the fabric two years ago.  I think we can get another 2+ years service from it, but not if I keep leaving it out in severe weather! 

Family Photos  Since I'm up, I'll tell you about what we did yesterday.  A couple weeks ago we had scanned all of my mom's family photos, mostly snapshots.  I then separated them into individual files, rotated, cropped, corrected fading, etc. Yesterday we visited her and reviewed all the images.  She picked a hundred or so to load onto a digital photo frame that I gave her last year.  It worked very well.  One benefit of scanning is that you get a better look at the images.  A small picture when scanned and enlarged can reveal details than you haven't noticed before.  This is especially true of old black-and-white photos which come out very nice.  

Addictive Word Puzzle  If you find yourself with a few days of nothing to do try this  Chris found it in a forum discussion and we've been working on it for part of the last 3 days.

Wednesday, December 19:

Itís beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  No it hasnít snowed here in Tampa.  The front of the RV is stacked with presents for family.  Iíve been wrapping presents the past few days and stacking them in the front passenger seat.  The stack is growing and growing. 
Weíve picked up some inexpensive presents to give to family members just to have some fun on Christmas unwrapping presents.  The main gift to everyone is a trip to Disney World as mentioned before.  So Iíve had a blast looking around for presents for everyone that theyíd enjoy and that werenít very expensive.  Iíve been amazed at how much of it Iíve found at the thrift stores.  I had a goal of brand new, still with tags, items to give as gifts and I have found plenty of very nice quality stuff to give as gifts.  Iíve probably spent less than $100 on gifts.  So again if you havenít been to a thrift store lately you really need to check them out.  Youíll be amazed at some of the great quality items that youíll find.
While shopping at Goodwill a couple of weeks ago I picked up 2 rolls of Christmas wrapping paper.  The rolls were less than $2.00 each and are quite large rolls too.  At another thrift store I found a large bag stuffed with Christmas ribbons and bows for less than $2.00 so I picked it up too.  I am quite pleased with the wrapping paper.  It is good quality paper that you canít see through, wide rolls to wrap even my largest present.  So as mentioned Iíve been wrapping presents and having a blast wrapping them in ribbon, making bows and streamers and using the ready-made bows. 
Speaking of thrift stores reminds me that I havenít mentioned that I started selling my thrift store finds on eBay this year.  So the front of the RV also has some shipping supplies stacked up there too.  Iím quite happy with how much of my stuff has sold.  There are a few items that didnít sell but thatís to be expected at times.  Most things do not stay hot sellers for a long time.  Back when we were living in our house I had noticed that Brown Bag Cookie Art molds brought a pretty penny on eBay.  Iíve picked up several during our travels and now that I want to sell them they arenít as collectable as they once were.  At least the ones I have found arenít as collectable.  There still are a few molds that sell for quite a bit on eBay, I just donít have any of the big sellers.  Iíve sold several of the cookie molds I had though.  The ones that I didnít sell will be given to daughterís family in Illinois.  My granddaughter is interested in baking and decorating so she will love having a large assortment of cookie molds to work with.  Every thing else that I have has sold and at a very nice profit.  Iím glad that Iíve finally got around to getting it sold.  Now I can start looking again for more treasures to sell. 
Because I had so much to sell at once it looks like a shipping department in here.  We have some shipping boxes, a huge bag of packing peanuts, 2 boxes of different sized bubble wrap and various other shipping needs stacked around the RV.  Once itís all sold and I can get in the routine of buying and quickly reselling the items it will be easier to handle.  You know youíre selling a lot when the UPS store personnel recognize you!  I am embarrassed to say that I know I have more stuff to sell in storage but I donít know where itís at.  We really need to get that storage unit organized!
I havenít mentioned my parents lately so Iíll just write a bit about them now.  Back in October was when weíd gone to Livingston and helped them out.  My dad had been in the hospital and then went to a nursing rehab center from there to gain some strength.  What I had not mentioned was why he was so sick and weak and wound up in the hospital.  He had got a bladder infection due to an enlarged prostate.  He was allergic to the first medication he was on for the infection.  By the time he was on the second medication the infection had gotten pretty bad.  In his weakened condition he couldnít even walk which is the main reason the doctor put him in the hospital.  He received IV treatment and soon kicked the infection.  He had a catheter in to fully drain his bladder so that he wouldnít get another infection.  Once he was strong enough physically he went back to the hospital and had a TURP (transurethral resection of the prostate) operation.  He recovered nicely from that operation and was strong enough to go home.  Heís been at home now for a few weeks. 
The main thing Iíve that never mentioned is that my dad had been diagnosed with Alzheimerís for a couple of years now.  The doctor and my mom had decided to not tell my dad of this diagnosis.  What good would it do?  I think Mac and I were in a bit of denial about it.  We werenít around him enough to see and notice the differences, my mom was.  This last trip we both did notice the difference though.  Unfortunately he has become an unpleasant and extremely grumpy person from this disease. 
My mom called me last night crying.  It seems that he has become very verbally abusive towards her.  Sheís not in good enough health to be taking care of him and her, and to deal with the verbal abuse that this disease is causing him to heap on her.  I hope that I helped her to understand that he needs to be in a facility that can take care of him.  It wonít do either of them any good if she gets ill from trying to take care of him.  It is a hard decision for the family members to make but I think itís the best one we all can make.

Monday December 24:

Merry Christmas everyone!  We're in Tampa and spending Christmas with family.  The day after we're heading for Disney World with kids and grandkids in tow.  We'll try to post again before the year ends, and of course there will be Disney photos. 

Monday December 31:

Weíre back in Tampa in our wonderful RV after spending 6 days in Orlando with our family.  It was wonderful to be with the kids and grandkids, to watch them have a good time.  One of the main reasons we did this was to create wonderful memories for the grandkids.
On the first day at Disney World we all quickly agreed to never again come at Christmas time.  It was so incredibly crowded at the parks, especially at Magic Kingdom.  Spring breaks are at different times across the country but Christmas break is at the same time for every school.  We will never again go at this time of year.  Itís not fun to be around so many people, the lines were long, and it started bringing out the worst in people.  People just didnít seem to have the laid back letís-have-some-fun attitude as they usually do at Disney.  But overall everyone had a great time and enjoyed themselves and thatís all that really matters.
We had rented a house for our stay in the Orlando area.  It was much cheaper than renting hotel rooms, and bigger than a condo as weíve done before.  We had a 4 bedroom, 2 Ĺ baths, 2,600 square foot house for about $700.  We had a kitchen with lots of dishes, pots and pans, and everything that we needed to cook any meals we wanted.  There was also a washer and dryer to use and we took full advantage of that luxury.  Since we knew there was a washer and dryer no one had to pack large amounts of clothing to get through the week there.  The bathrooms also had plenty of towels; we washed those too; 8 people use a lot of towels.
We had spent Christmas day with the family at Macís momís apartment.  We had a fun-filled time opening presents and watching the kids open their presents.  Austin wasnít as interested in what was in the box as he was interested in unwrapping them.  He had a great time pulling the paper off of the boxes.  He was ready to unwrap another one before he noticed what was inside the present.  What fun it is to watch little ones.
We had lots of food, too much as a matter of fact.  We wrapped it all up afterwards and took it with us to Orlando, it didnít go to waste. 
We left Tampa the day after Christmas, got to our rental house and unpacked the cars.  The girls and I then headed for the outlets.  We found 3 character outlets but the only one we spent any money at was the Disney outlet.  We found some really nice stuff at very reasonable prices.  I bought 2 throws/lap blankets for our loveseat.  I debated with myself on getting them and finally decided to buy them.  They were only $14.95 each and are large enough that we can wrap up in them when itís cold.  They are brown polyester fleece and have Cinderellaís Castle and Walt Disney World embroidered on them.  I really like them and think theyíll look nice on the loveseat.
We had bought everyone 4 day park hoppers and started our Disney adventure on the 27th at Magic Kingdom.  As mentioned it was very crowded and got worse as the day progressed.  All the parks were very crowded but seemed less crowded in the morning hours.  The kids visited 4 parks, Mac and I only visited 2 parks, Magic Kingdom and Epcot.  We spent a lot of time at Epcot, there is so much to see there. 
The last full day in Orlando, the 30th, Mac and I volunteered to babysit Austin.  We spent the day at the house and the kids all went to the park.  We were tired of the parks and so was Austin.  We had a great time with him.  He played and talked and what a little mocking bird he is.  Iíd forgotten how much fun little ones can be.  We had a blast.
The 31st we all left Orlando.  Mac and I drove back to Tampa with a short stop at Camping World.  We didnít buy anything but had fun looking at stuff.  We spent most of the day unpacking and resting when we got home.  We enjoyed returning to our home.  It may be small compared to the house we rented but as Dorothy says ďThereís no place like homeĒ!

As Chris said, we had a great time this past week -- having most of the family together for Christmas, then visiting Disney World with kids and grandkids.  We try each year to get the family together at least once for a few days.  In the past it was usually at spring break, but Amanda and Lindsey's schools stopped having spring break so we've shifted to Christmas.  Next year we're talking about taking a cruise!  Not sure if that will happen, but it's one possibility.  I'm sure we'll be back to Disney in a couple of years, but not at Christmas!

Since Chris and I only visited the parks 3 days we both have one day left on our park hoppers.  The Florida resident passes are good for 6 months from first use, so we plan to visit once again before leaving the state in the spring.

If you're looking for the end-of-year camping summary report it's here at the end of November.  The projections made at that time were unchanged during December.

Continue to January 2008

December 2006

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