December 2018
As one might expect, our calendar got a bit busier in December.  We still had a few doctors appointments and Tom has continued with Physical Therapy sessions.  Tom had his
usual bridge and poker nights while Mary was a Bingo winner for a change, and continued to spend time in the sewing room.  Then there were the "unusuals.
"
Mary often joins a group of lady friends on Sunday morning outings to Starbucks. Some of the ladies have been going at the same time for years and know the patrons and
baristas well. Its always a fun time for the gang.   The same gang has a game night once a week - another opportunity for chatter and laughs.  One of the ladies hosted a
holiday "Wine and Paint" party where the ladies enjoyed lunch, wine and got into the holiday spirit by hand-painting designs on wine glasses.
Madonna, Mary, Laurie, Deanna, Marilyn, Gladys and Particia
on their weekly "raid" at Starbucks.
This night it was a game of "Telestrations" that
brought on fits of laughter.
We transformed wine glasses
into Santas and snowmen
or pine tree forests.
To continue with the game theme, we joined our old neighborhood gang for a dinner and game night.  While waiting for the food to be delivered everyone tried their hand at
"Jenga" -- trying to remove a block from the tower without the rest of the blocks falling.  After downing the fresh hot baked chicken dinner we played "Chase the Ace" card
game.
Some of us were successful.
Others were not!
Our area of Arizona has acres and acres of cotton growing.  It seemed to us that the harvest was quite late this year...there are still some fields yet to be harvested.  Its
always interesting to see the process up close, and we had that opportunity the day we had visitors Dick and Liz here from Toledo.  We peeked over the wall surrounding the
park to watch.  Meanwhile, in Austin, Texas, our daughter Ann completed her coursework and graduated from Austin Community College with a degree in Accounting.  Her
final semester internship has turned into a full-time job at Apple.  We're quite proud of her!    Another "Quilt Till You Wilt" night was on Mary's agenda as we reached
mid-December.  The sewing ladies enjoyed dinner, fun, and made several handy items using placemats for a starter.  Someone in the group always has some unique ideas
for projects.
Here's a load of fresh picked cotton being dumped into a "packer".
We had a fun visit with Dick and Liz
Conrats to our graduating daughter, Ann.
The ladies are ready for some instruction.

And then came Christmas.....
Because of having lived in an RV, this was
the first year since 1999 that we had a  big
Christmas tree.
To get us in the spirit of the season, the park sponsored its annual Christmas Golf Car Parade...we did not participate in the decorating contest, but we did follow the
parade for a bit.  We do have some creative people among our residents.                                    We welcomed a visit with Mary's cousin Geoff and wife Bethann as they
passed through Arizona on their way from home in New Mexico to their daughter's home in California for the holiday.
The reindeer were prancing on the roof...of the golf car, that is.
Santa came down the chimney and landed in a golf car.
Bethann and Geoff couldn't wait till they got to California for an
"In and Out" burger, so we joined them for dinner.
Our family began arriving on December 23.  Ann, Matt, three granddaughters and a fiancé, and the family dog arrived late that night after driving straight through from the
Austin, Texas area.  They stayed in one of the park's "Vacation Rental Homes" just a block away from our home.  The Michigan crew...Reid, Kathleen and Evelyn arrived early
Christmas Eve by plane into Phoenix.                              We introduced granddaughter Coffey's fiancé, Nate, to our family Christmas Eve tradition of preparing Christmas
morning breakfast by squeezing fresh orange juice and getting some alcohol laced French Toast soaking overnight.  Before sending 3-year-old Evelyn off to bed, we
spread "reindeer food" on the front walk and put out cookies and milk for Santa.  Coffey read us "The Night Before Christmas."  Evelyn made sure we all had a stocking to
be filled.
Everyone had a task fixing breakfast for the morning.
Evelyn counted out the stockings.
Coffey read the traditional story before bedtime.
All the work was worth it...breakfast was delicious.
Evelyn had finished eating...ok, let's open presents!
After presents, Evelyn was ready for a walk....hat -
check...sunglasses - check...park ID badge - check!
With Christmas Day over the family was ready for adventures outside the house.  It took two vehicles to get us places, but that was part of the adventure.  First off was the
McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale.  It is a huge public park with no entrance fee that has a very large model railroad museum built and staffed by volunteer
model railroad enthusiasts.  What wonderful displays!!!  There is also a great playground, picnic areas, a model depot, and of course, a store.  For a small fee you may also
ride a scale "steamer" train through the park's arboretum, ride a vintage carousel or tour some retired rail cars.  It was well worth the drive to Scottsdale.  On the way home
Mary, Merrick, Reid, Kathleen and Evelyn toured the Phoenix Zoo.  They found it to be a well laid out and pleasant place, but being in the warmer southwest climate it
doesn't have the variety of animals we've seen in other places.  They still had fun!
At the railroad park, we rode the carousel...
and the miniature train.
At the zoo we saw lots of animals, and
got to touch some of them.
A little closer to our home, we went out to Arizona Skydive in Eloy to watch the skydivers.  There was constant action in the sky as a collegiate competition was taking
place.  None of us were brave enough to sign up for a jump, however.  We were content to watch the tiny specks in the sky turn into the colorful parachutes and the
speeding fliers slide across the grass in front of us as they landed.                          We did "try our hand" at the bowling alley...none of us did well enough to compete
professionally but we had a great time - especially Evelyn, who unlike the rest of us chose a ball for its weight and finger hole size, picked a different pretty color every
time. :-)
Here they come!
The skydivers have a lot of equipment, including
cameras on their helmet.
Evelyn had a little help from Grandpa as well as a
ramp for her ball.
It was a friendly family competition with no real winner
and Evelyn beat a few of us!
Back at the park we kept busy with some long walks, a trip to the pool, visits to the dog park, some games of kick ball on the empty ball field, shooting some billiard games,
kite flying, some wild charades and some often frustrating table games.  It was a busy week with lots of different adventures.
We tried, but none of are good enough to "run the table."
Charades can bring out some interesting parts of our character.
"Left-Right-Center" was just one of our competitive table
games during the week.
Evelyn colored the kite and
helped put it together and fly it.
She also showed Grandpa how to access
photos on his new I-phone.
From looking at the clothes we were wearing in some of the photos you can tell that the weather wasn't the greatest for an Arizona Christmas this year.  But we certainly
enjoyed having the family all together.  We had some great times and made some wonderful memories.  We were so happy to have our newest family member, Nate, join us.  
It was so much fun seeing the grandgirls/cousins play together.
 All too soon our week together came to an end with Coffey and Nate heading to New York State and some
time with Nate's extended family, the rest of Ann's family driving back to Texas, and Reid, Kathleen and Evelyn stacking up some more air miles on their way to Michigan.   
We are so blessed that, in spite of the miles between our homes, that we are able to get together as a family.  
Here's wishing you all a great 2019...filled with happiness, good health, peace and love!
Ann brought everyone some sort of flannel PJs with penguins on
them...we were toasty warm for our Christmas morning together.
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