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 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.

Well, that was the whole holiday.  Over a month without any blogging.  Does anybody blog any more?  Not like we all used to but this is still valuable to keep a record of life.  Somebody will read it eventually.  I think.  I hope.

Anyway, after the entire fall spent out of town working, I enjoyed lots of time off.  The kids both came back from the university and we spent lots of time doing stuff and generally getting caught up.  The highlights:

Evan accepted his job offer from ABF in Fort Smith.  He didn’t want us all to road-trip over there to look for apartments though.

Erin managed to get all A’s even though she was sweating most of them.

Linda came up for Christmas.

I found out from the ophthalmologist that I have cataracts and will need to have lens replacement surgery.

I bought myself a Kindle Fire, an airsoft pistol and some other goodies.

Evan spent a few days with his girlfriend Cassie up on St. Louis and then she came down here at New Years and they went on down to the CRU thing in Fort Worth, TX.

Lots of stuff happened. I’ll try to fill in a few details soon.  It’s hard to write anything amusing though now that the kids are away and I’ve been so busy at work.