Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Thanksgiving Day and Thanksgiving Trip

We had planned to lay low on Thanksgiving Day other than going out to eat for a nice meal, but when the restaurant prices exceeded what we thought was a reasonable amount to spend -we decided to pick up a Thanksgiving meal and bring it back to our apartment.   Our friends, Karen and Alan, also planned the same thing except they weren't planning to have the traditional Thanksgiving meal.  While out doing some Christmas shopping, Karen and I stopped at the restaurant to place our orders and to Karen's surprise, the restaurant wasn't offering the clam chowder that she and Alan planed to have.  And the turkey dinner that I ordered included a 20 pound turkey!  So it just seemed right for us to spend Thanksgiving together!

We had a great time enjoying good wine and a meal that I didn't have to prepare (I even forgot to serve the cranberry sauce!).  My favorite dish was the delicious salad that Karen brought!  We watched football and played Apples to Apples and laughed- a lot!  So thankful that we got together with our friends!

The next morning Steve, Walter, and I left for Yosemite.  When we found out that we were moving back to Florida, we quickly began making a list of places we wanted to visit before we left and Yosemite was high on the list.  

Walter is such a good traveler- which is a good thing, considering that he will be riding with us back to Florida!

We ended up going to the Sequoia National Park first which was beautiful!  

On our way to see the General Sherman Tree we drove through the Giant Forest.  It was crazy!  It looked like something out of a movie.

We spent the night before arriving at Yosemite and got up very early to see as much of the park as we could.  Some of the roads closed in October due to snow, but we still enjoyed the valley.

Sometimes, it was a little too cold for me to get out of the warm car, but our moon roof provided the perfect views for me!

Then we traveled to the area that was burned this summer; it went on and on for miles.

Some of the burned area behind Walter.

We returned to L.A. late on Saturday in order to beat the many anticipated travelers returning home on Sunday.  So thankful that we did!  And so thankful for our trip to Yosemite!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Exploring the Artist Within

One of the things that I wanted to do while in California was to explore some of the world of art.  I've never taken any classes, not even in high school.  I think I feared not being "good enough" and I let that keep me from even trying.  

Debra is one of my friends that I met while here and she is an artist.  Below are some pictures taken during an art show she held at her home with some other artists.  

 Debra doesn't intimidate me at all, like some artists do.  She is humble and encouraging and puts me at ease.  She invited me to attend a two day watercolor bootcamp with her this past summer.  I was surrounded by a lot of people who had so much art experience and at times I did find myself way out of my comfort zone.  But I kept telling myself the words that Debra has encouraged me with so often, "Just have fun.  Don't focus on the product, but enjoy the process of doing art."  It was my first leap into the art world and it sparked something in me that I have kept dormant for a very long time.

I then enrolled in two online courses, one called Watercolor Lettering and the other was Colored Pencils and Birds.  I enjoyed them both, but especially the bird class.  

Below are some pictures of Debra and I "playing" with art on her patio; we're making paste paper which currently we are in the process of making into a book.

I'm so thankful that I met Debra and I look forward to exploring so much more in the vast world of art.  I'm already enrolled in three more online classes beginning in January.  The gift she gave to me will forever be with me, even if I only use it for my enjoyment, but hopefully I can share it with my grandchildren as well.  One of the first rooms that I'm going to put into order when we return to Florida is to make one of our spare bedrooms into . . . a little art studio . . . I never thought I'd say those words.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Walter's Training and We're Moving!

While we were away on our two week trip back in November, Walter was being trained for 3 weeks   He's always been stubborn and has selective hearing, especially when he's around small children (due probably to the fact that when we got Walter, Silas was a big part of our lives and the two loved playing together).  So when we realized that we were going to be away for two weeks and that this training was actually a little cheaper than just boarding him, we signed him up!

He was so happy to be home!  And we were so happy to have him home!  These pictures were taken after the 90 minutes of training that Steve and I received by Walter's trainer.  Walter was exhausted from all the hard work.

He now wears a shock collar (it's not that bad so don't worry all of you dog lovers!).  We don't have to utilize the collar except when he doesn't listen to our commands.  For the first time, I feel like I have him under control.

I think Walter looks like he's smiling in the picture below!

The very next day, I took Walter on a walk where he walks unleashed.   He ignored my verbal commands and the commands of his collar and ended up in the lagoon!  And I thought I had control!  Ha!

One week after we returned to California we received the news that we are moving back to Florida.  Our departure date is Jan 13th; it was going to be Jan 15th, but Allison's baby shower is on Jan 18th in N.C. and it's a long drive from California!

Steve and I have a peace about our return, though we are sad about leaving this amazing state and the amazing friends we've met here.   Steve will continue to work on the project but from his home office.
By the time we leave I will have been on vacation for two years!  I think I'm going to have some adjusting to do to "real life."

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Family Time!

From Florida, Steve and I drove to Norfolk to see Natalie.  I had planned to spend a week with her while Dan was out on his ship and Steve arranged to work at a facility nearby.  It was so good to be with Natalie again and see Finley as well!  She's such a sweet dog!  

Steve and Natalie carved a pumpkin and I dressed Finley up for Halloween.

Natalie made some delicious treats to take with us to Atlanta for the surprise wedding celebration for Shelby and Scott that was being planned.
And I wrapped a lot of random items I'd received as giveaways on talk shows in L.A. so that we could have a white elephant exchange with everyone.
We had a fun week with Natalie and arrived very late in Atlanta on Friday night.  The poor cake we made just about didn't make it on the long car ride.  But it sure tasted good!  isn't the cake banner so cute that Natalie made?

Banners were hung and decorative wedding cookies that Allison made were served with the cake.  Steve and I were the only ones that were able to attend their wedding in London, Ontario so we all wanted to celebrate!

The next day we went to Allison's baby shower.  It was so much fun celebrating baby boy P's upcoming arrival.  I wish I had taken pictures : (

On Sunday we all went to Piedmont Park with food and games in hand.

That night we had the white elephant exchange.  It was a lot of fun seeing the random stuff that people ended up with- some of the gifts weren't so bad.

It was really nice to be together- it had been way too long!  We missed you Dan!  

Thanks Allison and Brian for having everyone and for all the delicious food!  And thanks to everyone for making the effort in order for us to all be together!

Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Trip to see Silas!

 On October 24, Steve and I began a 13 day trip to Fl, Va, and Ga.  Our first stop was to Florida to see Silas play soccer.  We arrived late on Thursday night and on Friday, Steve went into work and I got together with a few of my friends.  I sure do miss them!

Steve and I enjoyed a late afternoon walk on the beach after he got off work.  Florida's beaches are beautiful!

On Saturday we went to Silas' soccer game!  We were so excited to see each other!  He's quite the soccer player!  What fun!

 Afterwards we went to Steak N' Shake.

Then on to Fort Matanzas!

We loved looking for the jellyfish!

From there we went to Marine Land!

Then we went to the Washington Oaks State Park.

We had a very full day and then back to the hotel for some bedtime stories and to get some much needed sleep!  We were so thankful that he got to spend the night with us!

The next morning Papa took Silas to several parks after breakfast.  So fun!

Then out for lunch where we gave Silas a photo album with pictures of our time together.

He said it was the best gift ever!  He's so sweet and we miss and love him so!  We left with a great desire to be more present in his life!