My Favorite Time of Year is Here

Fall is my favorite time of year not just because my birthday falls during this season and I milk every stinking second of it and force everyone to be nice to me, but because the weather is absolutely perfect. It’s neither too hot nor too cold and the foliage begins to change colors. It’s probably prettier in New England but, even in Kansas, Fall is breathtaking. I love Fall!

We had some fantastic weather this weekend so we took advantage of it and drove around in Alex, the newest member of our household fleet.

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Grandma was super excited to ride in Alex yesterday citing that it’s her first time riding in a convertible in all of her 92 years. Brian was like, “Had I known she we be so excited to ride in a convertible I would have gotten one years ago.”

Alex is definitely flashier than Bebot but to me, a car is a car. I actually still prefer driving around in Bebot so I’ve only driven Alex a couple of times. Brian gets to drive Alex a lot more than I do even though Alex is technically my birthday present.

I know, I know. My new Frye boots and my new iPhone were supposed to be my birthday presents but I’m milking this birthday thing, remember?

Anyway, since we haven’t given Brian’s truck to his dad yet (we promised Jenni that we would help her move so we’re hanging on to the truck until then) I’m either driving the truck or Bebot. Mostly because Bebot has great gas mileage.

My little sister Nickira noticed Alex in garage last week when we came home to say hi to Brian after spending the afternoon at the Wichita Art Museum and the Keeper of the Plains. She was curious about the new vehicle because she hadn’t seen it before and wanted to know whose it was. After she found out it was mine, she wanted to ride in it. It’s amazing to me how a ten year old can tell the difference between cars and know that one is better than the other. I suppose Bebot can’t transform into a convertible but the top was up on Alex the first time she saw the car parked in the garage yet it still intrigued her. Maybe it’s mostly that she hadn’t seen it before? Whatever the case may be, I found her reaction to Alex quite interesting.

Here are some more pictures of Alex. Enjoy!

Family Brunch at Cracker Barrel

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Jenni and Ben were in town visiting this weekend. They spent the night on Thursday night before heading to Kansas City on Friday and spending the night there coming back on Saturday. Since they were in town, they joined us for the monthly poker game at Rune’s. I was worried about taking them to poker for fear that they would be bored. Little did I know, Ben is an avid and skilled poker player. He took third last night. As for me and Brian, let’s just say it was an expensive evening and leave it at that. LOL.

It took us about an hour to get home last night, but that’s a story for another time. Needless to say, we were up too late and had to be up early to meet everyone for brunch. I’m glad I’m a morning person or I would have been cranky about the wait.

Jenni and Ben got there first. They were told there would a 35 minute wait, which is long but not unreasonable. Anyway, we find out later that a group of nine who arrive after us got seated before us while we continued to wait. After waiting almost an hour, we were finally seated. In the mean time, the wait gave me a chance to play Ben a game of checkers. I’m thinking that I might switch to checkers because I’m actually not bad at it. I have a better record at checkers than chess this year.

Brunch was good despite the slow service. Our server was nice. I can’t really blame her for the mix up with the seating. It took a long time for our food to arrive but that could have been the kitchen’s fault. They were probably just busier than usual that day. I didn’t want to let these things affect the rest of my day though, so I chose to be more tolerant about the whole situation. Plus, I was just really grateful for the wonderful company (and free lunch because mom and dad paid – LOL).

After brunch Brian and I took grandma to Kohl’s to pick out a watch. We had promised her one for her birthday but didn’t get a chance to buy it because we had a busy week following our trip. This actually worked out better because then grandma got to pick out the exact one that she wanted.

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Overall it has been a great day so far. We had a great time with family, got grandma’s watch, and Brian fixed her computer. Hope the wonderfulness of the day continues tonight at bowling. I’m looking forward to winning some points again tonight so we can start moving up in the rankings.

Pictures From the Annual Filipino Ball

The Filipino Ball is a celebration of milestones — debutantes, wedding anniversaries, achievements — in the Filipino community. It’s a chance for us to relive prom night in that we get to wear our fanciest clothes. Women are in beautiful gowns and men are in colorful and stylish barongs. It’s a pretty formal event so you can be as fancy as you want to be. Brian opted to wear his tux this year. Yeah, we’re still trying to get our money’s worth. LOL.

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These are some of my favorite photos from last night. Huge thanks to Jennifer Cannady for taking the photo above. I’ve put on some weight in the last couple of years and actually don’t look too bad in this photo. LOL. Brian, my very own James Bond, looks amazing as always.

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If you recognize my dress it’s because I recycled it. It’s the same dress that I wore to the American Heart Association benefit earlier this year. I would have preferred to have worn a new dress but life has been hectic and I didn’t have time to shop. Rather than stress about it, I figured I’d just wear one of the ones I already had hanging in the closet. I wore new jewelry to freshen it up a bit. This is the Kahlo line. If you’d like to see it up close or want to schedule a trunk show, contact me.

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Mom and dad with the Cannadys at the Filipino Ball.

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Obligatory selfieā€¦ because we have to take at least one of the two of us.

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The Filipino Ball is the one time a year that we get to see people who we don’t normally see on a regular basis. Kids babies and children grow up to be adults almost overnight it seems. It’s like one year they were children and the next they’re hosting the event. Yes, I’m talking about Jenna. She was a baby when Brian and I first started attending the gala and now she’s a grown woman. Amazing. Brian and I still feel pretty youthful but this is the one event that’s guaranteed to make you feel old. Before the evening is even over I always end up wondering, “Are we really that old?”

We must be because I actually enjoy the event now and I didn’t used to. In my youth I used to dread having to attend. “Do I really have to?” This was one of those parties that was forced upon you by your parents. I don’t know how the other kids felt or how the kids today feel. It was not a fun party for me. It wasn’t really that much fun watching old people drink and make fools of themselves on the dance floor. Now I’m one of those old people. It’s awesome how time can change your perspective.

It used to that you couldn’t pay me to attend now and I’m actually paying to go. If you told me years ago that this would happen, I never would have believed you. LOL.

The Filipino Ball has become one of those events that I actually look forward to attending each year. I love watching the kids grow up and watching families expand as they welcome new family members. As long as I can look youngish and have my handsome James Bond by my side, I really don’t mind feeling old for a night.

Grandma’s 92nd Birthday

We celebrated grandma’s 92nd birthday at Firebirds last night. It was also a late birthday dinner for Brian and late Father’s Day celebration. We didn’t have time to figure out what to do for gifts for everyone so we just decided to buy everyone dinner. It was a little lazy on our part, I know; but what can you do when you’ve just gotten back from traveling and you have to get on with everyday life real quick? I was back to my day job and teaching my Zumba classes right off the bat.

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Without further ado, here are some of the pictures from last night.

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Mom and dad were able to join us so that was great.

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Brian got a card that makes noise and some cash for his birthday from his mom and dad. He is so easily amused.

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Mom really thought this was a half portion.

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Brian got ribs. He said they were very good.

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Grandma got pasta.

Dad got a wood grilled salmon.

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Kevin got a cheeseburger.

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I had a Fireside BLT with grilled salmon.

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Donna got meatloaf.

David got a steak filet and fries.

We all shared a couple of slices of the banana cream pie.

Close up!

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Grandma got a nice card from the Firebirds staff.

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We had to take a selfie!

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Here’s a photo of the Brubakers outside the restaurant after dinner.

Picture from last night.

Firebirds Wood Fired Grill on Urbanspoon

Food at the restaurant was actually better than I remembered. I have always liked their bread because it reminds me of pan de sal. The servers brought us several loaves well before we could even finish one.

I’m not sure about the others but my food was pretty good. The last time I had salmon at Firebirds it was a little overdone. It seemed that way anyhow. I thought I would give them another chance and get salmon again. This time to just add to my salad. The salmon was done absolutely perfectly. It didn’t dry up so that was great.

Our server recommended their seasonal dessert, a banana cream pie on steroids. We shared two slices of the pie. It was delicious. I hope Brian learns how to make it because I would love to have some again. LOL.

Brian Gets Balls, Bowls 172

Brian inherited a couple of bowling balls from his late grandfather a few years ago, but he never got them drilled. He just kept bowling with them even though they didn’t fit properly. It wasn’t really a big deal when we were only bowling occasionally (as in, once a year, if that). Since we recently joined a summer bowling league with mom and dad, we figured it was time to get the balls properly fitted.

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We left the two bowling balls at the bowling alley’s pro shop and they said to just come 30 minutes early the following Sunday to pick them up. For the first time ever Brian switched to a finger tip grip. When he tested the balls, he got three strikes and a spare. He was hesitant to go from conventional grip to finger tip grip at first, but now I think he’s sold. LOL.

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With his brand new bowling shoes (only worn twice so far) and newly drilled and fitted bowling balls he was probably feeling pretty legit. He actually bowled better than the rest of us on his first game.

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Mom, dad, and I cleaned house last week when we were supposed to be sandbagging and then totally tanked yesterday. Well, dad did alright. Mom and I didn’t live up to our averages. Needless to say, we lost to the opposing team. Blech.

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The men carried us last night. It as a little disappointing but at least the other team was nice about it. They didn’t gloat like we would have if we would’ve won. LOL. I’m kidding! We wouldn’t have gloated. We are good sports too. Anyway, congrats to both Brian and dad for bowling above their respective averages.

As for me, I plan to bowl my first 200 game of the bowling league (and my first one of the year) next week. Stay tuned!

Flip and Ching Join a Bowling League

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After over a decade of marriage Brian and I finally joined our first bowling league. It’s a mixed league at Derby Bowl on Sunday nights. We are on a team with mom and dad. We named our team ALOBAKER because it’s a combination of our last names. Not very creative, but it works. LOL.

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Our first league night was last Sunday. We had to be there early for a league meeting, to make some decisions about what to do about the holiday weekend, prize pool, etc. We also had to pay our sanction fees. The guy in charge of the league gave us the option of paying $21 to be sanctioned for a full year or $10 for just the summer league, which is an option if you’re not interested in being eligible for awards.

Brian asked what option I wanted. He was leaning more towards just paying the $10 because he didn’t foresee joining another league after this one ends. I was like, “Hello? Do you know who you’re talking to?” I want to get awards!

We both opted to pay the full sanction fee. Dad hadn’t bowled in a league in several years so he had to pay the sanction fee as well. Mom was already a sanctioned member.

Since the three of us were new league bowlers we had to set our averages. I wanted to set a low one so I could get a higher handicap. I think that was the plan for all of us. It was not to be, though. Dad bowled amazing. I bowled pretty well too despite all my efforts to sandbag. Mom says the more you try to sandbag, the more relaxed you are and you actually end up bowling better.

Let me explain the whole bowling handicap concept. The idea is to add points/pins to the score to make the game more competitive for less experienced and expert bowlers alike. Without the handicap the better bowlers will always win and it wouldn’t be as much fun playing. Handicaps equalize the playing field so as long as you bowl your average game or better then you have a fair shot at winning.

The handicap is based on a percentage of the difference between a bowler’s average score and the basis score. For our league we agreed upon a bowling handicap of 90% of 210. Since I bowled an average of 150 over three games last Sunday, my handicap is 54.

Here’s the calculation:
210 – 150 = 60
60 X .90 = 54

This means that when we bowl next week I get to add 54 points to my total for each game. This is why I wanted to set a low average. I was actually going for 130 which would have given me a handicap of 72. Knowing that I’m fully capable of consistently bowling an average of 150, that would have given me a 20 pin advantage. Now imagine if Brian and dad sandbagged also. We’d win every week!

Alas, I set my normal average. I tried to sandbag, but it didn’t work. Mom blames it on the law of averages — the belief that outcomes of a random event will tend to even out. For instance, she bowled 192 on her first game and 200 on her second game. Guess what she scored on the final game. She bowled a 109. It is a terrible game by mom’s standards but she explains it away as the law of averages at work. Mom’s average is around 170. The average of her three games that night is 167, not far from her typical performance. So she predicted that she would bowl a lower scoring third game because the law of averages assumes that it has to balance out.

I believe in the law of averages over the long term, but I avoid thinking about it or using it to explain events because I think it then becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. If you bowl two great games as mom did and you believe that the third game will be crappy (because of the law of averages) then that’s exactly what will happen. Why? Because energy follows thought. I think mom was fully capable of bowling a 600 series that night. She’s done it before so it wouldn’t be such a fluke. She just had to believe that she could do it rather than thinking that the third game was the balancing event according to the law of averages. As for me, I intend to bowl better than my average every week from here on out. I want to win some awards, darn it!

Happy Birthday, Eli!

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We celebrated our nephew Eli’s 8th birthday on Saturday.

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This is his older brother, Logan. He is taller than his mom Jenni and me. He’ll be taller than his stepmom and his dad before long. They grow so fast!

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Our nephews’ dad Matt and their mom Jen.

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Matt with Brian. I love this picture because they’re under a sign that says “Mom’s Day Out.” LOL. I love our little family.

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Bowling Revival

I’ve decided to start bowling again and I’m dragging Brian with me.

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I was inspired to start bowling again after bowling a 243 at my work’s Bowl for Kids’ Sake fundraising event on Saturday. It was nine pin no tap, but still. I’d participated in many of these fundraisers before and they’ve always been nine pin no tap, but I’d barely break 200. Somehow I’d keep bowling 8s and not pick up my spares. I was in the zone this weekend, though.

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Here are some pictures from Saturday.

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Faith’s son is so adorable.

Here’s our team photo.

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Here’s the chocolate gift basket that I won for getting the highest bowling score out of all the women bowlers. It’s full of chocolatey goodness from the Farris Wheel and I’ve been enjoying it over the last few days.

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On Sunday we went bowling again to celebrate dad’s birthday.

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Dad kicked everyone’s butt at bowling. I joked that we were letting him win on account of his birthday but truly there was no way that we could have come close. Dad is just an awesome bowler. He bowled a 187, 184, 203, and 182 on Sunday.

Guess who took second? Me, of course. I bowled 134, 146, 145, and 150. Not great, but it’s about how I normally bowled when I used to bowl regularly.

Brian didn’t do too bad. He bowled 156, 122, 122, and 145. I don’t know what happened to mom. LOL. She normally bowls really well but she she did the worst that day. Her scores were 137, 135, 119, and 122. She’s probably going to hate that I posted that, but I post everything. LOL.

Anyway, while we were at the bowling alley we saw the flyers advertising their summer leagues so we decided to join the earlier of the two Sunday night leagues. Figured it was time I got another hobby because I don’t have enough of them already. Ha! Jokes aside, this weekend reminded me of how much I really enjoyed bowling back when I used to do it and how I’m actually pretty good at it. So it’s time to take it up again. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get even better.

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We’re the kind of people who go full out when we get into something (well, I am anyway) so we ordered a pair of bowling shoes for Brian which arrived today.

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They’re his very first pair of bowling shoes. They fit great and look fantastic. I’m excited for him to break them in!

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I didn’t get any new bowling shows because, even though my bowling shoes are over ten years old, my bowling shoes are still fine. I did, however, have to get a new bowling bag because the one I had was pretty icky. This new one was cheap and looks great. I love the separate shoe pocket also.

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Oh, check out what I found when I was cleaning out my old bowling bag. Yes. It has been that long since I last bowled regularly. I’m pretty rusty but I didn’t do to shabby this weekend so perhaps there is hope for me yet. I’m so excited for this summer! I can’t wait to kick some butt at bowling!

Grandma’s ER Room Adventure

Shortly after the New Year my Grandmother fell in her apartment. When she called me she said she had fell and broke her wrist. I immediately called 911 and had an ambulance sent to her apartment. When I got there the EMS were already on site and I let them into her place. We stabilized her arm and got her to the emergency room. This is where the fun started.

Normally my parents are the ones who get called, but my dad works for Boeing and he now works in Oklahoma. So this was my first time doing this and I was unprepared. Once we got to the ER they got her in a room and started asking her questions. We went through the normal ones like what how many surgeries have you had, when was the last one and so on. Then they asked her about her medications and after we went through all of those she pointed out that she can’t take a series of pain killers because she has an allergic reaction to them. Then he asked if she drank. She said she likes a glass of wine from time to time. Then he asks if she does any recreational drugs, without missing a beat she said “Yes!” I started to laugh. The nurse looked at her strangely, then she took a moment and processed the question in her head and realized what he really asked.

You see, she thought she heard “Do you recreationally drink?” And she answered accordingly. When she processed the actual question she started back paddling to correct herself. Then we all had a good laugh. It’s good when you can take a moment like a broken wrist and hip and still have a good laugh.

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Christmas 2013

This year is the first year that we brought our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day celebrations under one roof. It used to be we would celebrate Christmas Eve at my parents’ house in Derby and then we would be at my in-laws’ house in Wichita on Christmas Day. However, Brian’s parents sold their house and officially moved to Midwest City, OK last month.

We figured that, since we were going to be hosting Christmas Day at our house anyway, we might as well host Christmas Eve as well. It worked out perfectly also because our nephews celebrate Christmas Eve with their other grandparents (Jennifer Cannady’s parents) who live just around the block from us.

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Christmas Eve started quietly enough with Brian showing grandma his new laptop.

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Donna made deviled eggs. Yum!

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Mom made lumpia, menudo, chicken macaroni salad, and fruit salad. For someone who never cooked when I was growing up, my mom actually makes really delicious food.

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Brian made crockpot chicken adobo and chocolate chip cookies.

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I made what we call el cheapo (ground beef, peas, and carrots) because it’s easy to make and goes well with steamed white rice.

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We had way more food than we could ever eat. We could have invited all of our friends for dinner and still would have had leftovers. Seriously.

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We played a few rounds of Catch Phrase after dinner. It was hilarious! The adults also exchanged gifts while we waited for the boys, that way we could focus on the kids when they arrived.

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Brian and I got mom and dad a pasta night gift set and Downton Abbey Seasons 1, 2 & 3 since dad mentioned that he really loved that show during Thanksgiving.

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I also got mom an Origami Owl living locket necklace and then a gift card to Tower Hobbies for dad. We try to keep the gifts pretty even.

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We got Jenni $25 to Rue 21 (she loves that store for some reason) and I gave her a bunch of workout clothes (a couple of UnderArmour tanks and a pair of Zumba sweatpants) in hopes that she’ll start working out with me again.

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There was nothing implicit about my request either.

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After the boys arrived, it was all about them. Here are some photos.

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We got the boys matching Superman shirts (because Brian likes Superman most out of all the superheroes) and then Eli and QQ both got PlasmaCars. We gave Logan $50 cash, which is about the same price as the PlasmaCars, just to keep things even.

Mom, dad, and Jenni got Logan a big TV for Christmas. I’m not sure what else the boys got, but they usually do pretty well. Christmas is not about presents, but it’s always fun to watch their eyes light up.

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The next morning was all about grandma and my in-laws.

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We each got them stockings full of their favorite goodies.

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They all got booze and chocolates in their stockings, among other things.

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Brian made quite a breakfast!

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When Kevin, Kasey, Kyndra, and Andrew arrived, we all headed to the basement to exchange gifts while we waited for lunch to be ready.

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We got Andrew a bunch of Thundercats toys, which is what Kevin told us he wanted. For Kyndra we got a little cheerleader bag, a box of Russell Stover chocolates, and a makeup kit. Kasey told us that is what she wanted. I guess she’s of that age now that she’s starting to get into cosmetics.

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For Kasey we got a set of Hello Kitty glasses and a Hello Kitty flask because she loves anything Hello Kitty. We got Kevin the Alien Anthology [Blu-ray] box set. We figured he would enjoy it.

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I got Donna an Origami Owl living locket necklace also just like the one I got for mom. I got the necklace, locket, mom plate, and two birthstone charms. The funny thing is other than the necklace (which I got in two different styles) the lockets themselves look almost identical because Jenni and Kevin were both born during the month of November so they have the same birthstone and then my birthstone and Brian’s birthstone are pretty much the same color (pink).

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For David and Donna to enjoy together, we got a bar set and the same bamboo cutting board with multicolor mats that we have because they mentioned that they liked ours a lot when they were staying with us last month. David got the same Alien Anthology collection we got for Kevin and also the Star Trek: The Next Generation Motion Picture Collection to complete his Star Trek movie collection which we started earlier this year.

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It’s not just kids who are fun to watch as they open presents. Adults are equally fun to watch also, specially grandma. We got her a tin of her favorite Christmas cookies from Sam’s Club (which David and Donna got for her also, so she ended up with two tins this year), a sleigh full of Ghirardelli chocolate goodies, a couple of Disney DVD movie collections — the Classics (Gnome-Mobile / Darby O’gill & Little People / One & Only Genuine Family / Happiest Millionaire) and Herbie (Love Bug / Herbie Goes Bananas / Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo / Herbie Rides Again).

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After exchanging presents, it was time for lunch. Christmas Day lunch consisted of mac and cheese, Donna’s scalloped potatoes, pork loin, etc. Kevin and Kasey brought some treats too. Again, we had way more food than we could eat. Even after grandma took food home, Brian and still had a ton of leftovers. Our fridge was full for days!

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This is our Christmas celebration in a nutshell. The two days were a whirlwind of food and merriment. It was actually kind of a relief when it was all over. LOL. We cleaned the house throughly from top to bottom the day after Christmas and then we take down both Christmas trees today. Slowly but surely Brian and I remove all evidence of the Christmas mayhem that ensued and prepare to welcome the new year ahead.

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