This weekend was a busy one.

In addition to completing the redo of Evan’s bedroom (now our guest bedroom), Erin paid us a quick visit to pick up her car (after having had the transmission replaced – ouch!), Evan called us to tell us that he and Cassie have set a date and a place, Paige had her baby, and then the Super bowl to top it all off.

It was an event-filled weekend.  I’d kind of like to spread these things out if I can but this time, everything happened at once.  Still fun though.

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Well this holiday was quite a time – we have a new fiancé’ in the family after all. We only got to see Cassie when they came over after Christmas to get her ring sized at the jewelry store but that was enough. We had bought tickets to see Mannheim Steamroller and we all went although we were all a bit underwhelmed. Still, we got out of the house and that was worth something – we had not really done much of that up until that point. Too many college bowl games perhaps.

I had good intentions for doing something productive during the break but apart from taking down the Christmas decorations, I can’t point to much of anything. I did go out into the garage and run some wood through the surface planer but I have much more to do. I decided that our Christmas tree is ridiculously old (I can remember buying it when the kids were still preschoolers) and that I would put it out on the curb (after the mountain of other trash that has accumulated because they only come once a week during the largest trash-generating week of the year. Not that I’m bitter. )

But at least, that’s one thing I will not have to drag back up into the attic. I think I’ll start replacing all my lights with LEDs as well so that should be fun. One day I’d like to figure out a way to make it easy to put up the lights outside but I haven’t come up with anything yet.

We had Mel’s family Christmas get-together on Saturday and it was one of the best ever.  It was here in town at her sister’s and so it was a quick drive for us.  It was bigger than usual due to Evan’s recent engagement and since he brought Cassie with him, they were the center of attention.
We also have two others in the family who are pregnant so there was no shortage of things to talk about.
The best part though was just getting to sit around with Evan and Cassie.  We got to know her better and talk openly about the upcoming marriage.  We had sort-of known this was coming but didn’t know any details and therefore couldn’t really discuss it with anybody.  It was a relief to get it all out in the open.
Now is our chance to think back on all those things that our family did to annoy us when we got married and NOT do those things.  Mostly we butt out and let them do what they want.
New Year’s resolution #1:  lose weight so we look good in wedding photos.

I have had to sit on this news because I sort of knew it was in the works but now the truth can come out.  This is the biggest Evan-related news since he was born:  he is now engaged to be married to Cassie.  I am really excited – I feel like I’m getting a new daughter.  One who is already grown up!
He recently (December 1) asked us some questions about diamonds and where he might be advised to do his shopping. But on Friday, the 14th, he popped the question.

I update this blog less and less.  I’m not sure why since I have more time to do it now that the kids are out of the house and I am not traveling out of town every week.  But on the other hand, I do spend more time on projects around the house.  I guess it’s the influence of Facebook and Twitter. This has always been pretty much a diary anyway…
This year, we spent Thanksgiving over at Steve’s farm south of Fayetteville.  I always enjoy going over there – it’s a very pretty place and always relaxing.  Thanksgiving was pretty warm this year so we got out and walked around the farm a fair amount.
Evan had season tickets to the Razorback games this year and somehow picked up an extra which he offered to Erin.  She jumped at the chance and so the two of them and Cassie sat together in the student section.  Cassie and Evan are officially pretty serious so I can include her in my reports now although I’ve never mentioned her before.  Mel thought it would be fun to go as well so we picked up a pair of tickets from StubHub and were set.  The game was on Friday so we just arranged to sleep in Steve’s spare bedroom that night.
The holiday itself was more low-key than usual since it was just us, Steve and Elaine, and the PJs.  All their kids were away at another family’s Thanksgiving feast and so without any little kids there, it was pretty quiet.  As I mentioned previously, Steve and I took a few walks around his property.  I was just enjoying the weather but he, like most people with lots of property, was walking his property lines making sure everything was ship-shape.  He has six cows now and needs to make sure that the fences are in good order.  Because of the drought, his pond levels are way down which makes this a good time to clear brush away from the banks.
Mel was not feeling very well on the following Friday so Steve went to the game with me.  The forecast was for sunny and mid-50’s which sounded nice to me.  I had not counted on the constant 20 mph wind.  Our seats were up in the upper deck – so far up that when there was a military plane flyover during the anthem, I was tempted to duck.  I do not like heights and this upper section is very steep – I was pretty nervous.  By the end of the first quarter, we were chilled to the bone from the wind and went down to the concession area to cower in a sunny corner away from the wind and warm up.  An usher offered to let us sit down in the student section since it wasn’t full (major holiday after all) and they wanted it to look full for the TV cameras.  We jumped at the chance since it was down “in the bowl” and out of the wind.  By that time we were just too cold to warm up much though and as the sun set, it got colder so in the 4th quarter we headed for the car to await the kids.
One gripe about Razorback stadium: to get to the upper deck, you must enter at one gate only.  I don’t know if you can scan your ticket anywhere else but if you go in that gate, you immediately start up an interminable ramp to the very top; it doesn’t go anywhere else.  You can then walk all the way across the top to where the concessions are and find a mystery stairwell that goes straight down with stops at all levels.  So either way, you’ve got quite a hike in front of you if you sit up there.  To get down to where Evan and Cassie were required this Everest expedition.  To all architects:  ain’t no sense in that.
I was surprised that Erin (who is legendary for being cold natured) did not go with us.  She soldiered on; huddled downwind of Evan and Cassie. After the game, we met up with Mel and headed to dinner; taking Cassie with us.  We then left Cassie and Evan there and headed home.  She and Evan left for Hollister, MO to see her family.  Saturday and Sunday were enjoyable times with Erin; decorating the tree and doing a bit of shopping.  Erin now has a hedgehog for a pet and so that was interesting; at least during the moments when the hedgehog was awake which is not much.
When holidays end now, we find ourselves getting pretty melancholy.  The kids now really only visit us at the holidays (and other isolated times) and then leave.  This always leads to a bit of grieving and I find that if I keep really busy with chores, I do better.  I therefore spent the remains of the day vacuuming, putting up the rest of the decorations, and sorting out my workbench area.  Of course, with Christmas coming, we have something to look forward to.

Recently, Erin got found out that she was awarded Top 10 Freshman Women status which was an upgrade from the Top-20 status from before.  Needless to say, as a parent this is a proud moment.  We the parents were invited to a reception Saturday morning.

She had earlier been invited to the president’s house for a reception; I wish I could have gone to that but we weren’t invited.  Luckily there was a photographer there and we got a photo.

They were also recognized on the field during halftime of Saturday’s game with TCU.  This was an ironic situation since my Ph.D. is from TCU although I never really could get into their team when I was there.  When you’re raised as a Razorback, it might seem feasible that you could also become a Horned Frog, (one ridiculous animal to another)  but it was not to be.  I never learned to care.  Even less so now that Erin is at OSU.

Sadly, tickets to the game were not provided so we had to hastily procure some from StubHub.  Yay StubHub!  They never let me down.

The reception was early in the morning in one of their fancy reception rooms and she got a plaque.  Then we frittered away a few hours hanging out in her apartment and having lunch.

We had brought along Mel’s sister and husband and so we had someone to share the experience with.  Erin’s new boyfriend came along too.

Getting to see your child’s picture on the Jumbotron at a Big-12 game is one of those things that leaves an impression on you.  I keep trying to tell myself that it’s just a superficial thing and that the real value lies in the things that led up to this and the things that this implies about her ability to secure a good future for herself.  But it was still really cool and even though the accomplishment is hers, I feel proud too.  To her credit, she doesn’t let this stuff go to her head; she left right after that to go change and get ready to sort recycling after the game.

I want to say that we did a lot of things right to make this happen but I must say that she has been smart and ambitious (as well as social) ever since she could talk.  We can only take so much credit.

I keep thinking I should get her a job where I work and then the two of us can take over.  Just kidding.  Maybe.

 

Recently, Erin was chosen as one of the top 20 freshman women at OSU.  Just yesterday, she got upgraded to the Top 10 which is as good as it gets.  Mel and I are super proud.  She has already had her photo made with the president of the university as part of the Top 20 thing so I don’t know what other things she will do.  Last year, they were recognized at one of the games so perhaps this is coming up.

They announce this to the recipients during classes where they walk into class and announce it publicly.  Erin had seen the others get chosen during her engineering classes and presumed that she didn’t make the top 10 cut.  But I guess they were just going alphabetically and so during her last class – a 1 hour credit activity class in welding – someone showed up.  So she didn’t get announced in engineering classes when she looked good; she got announced in front of a bunch of ag majors in her welding helmet, gigantic leather gloves, and plaid shirt.  Talk about helmet hair.

Oh well.  She’ll have time to clean up for the photo ops.