Thursday, March 1, 2018

Our Cabin-On-Wheels - A Sneek Peek

I promised to show you our new cabin-on-wheels but I'm not quite ready to show you what ours looks like. I need to take some photos to share what we've done to make it our own. I always decorate and make minor changes so our trailers don't look like every other one on the lot. Until I get a few more photos to share I'll give you a tour from the manufacturer's website. We ordered some changes but the footprint of the trailer is the same.

Our new trailer is made by Outdoors RV in LaGrande, Oregon. That's on the eastern part of our state where it gets real cold in the winter. The folks in LaGrande know how to keep things comfortable and warm in the winter. These trailers are made to withstand cold temperatures and for cold weather camping. There were several models we liked but this one had all the bells and whistles on our list. Since we've had two trailers before we already knew things we wanted in another trailer. We planned all along to upgrade one more time and this is the one we absolutely love! So, please make yourself comfortable and join me for a tour.

Our trailer looks like this. Two doors - one on the back into the main living area and one into the bedroom. We have a big awning that makes outdoor living comfortable. The square door toward the lower front of the trailer is a pass-through storage area that can be accessed from either side of the trailer.
The other side of the trailer looks like this. You can see where the slide-out 'room' is. Slides sure add a lot of living space to a trailer. Some RVs have multiple slides but we are happy with this one. You can see the door on the other side of the storage pass-through.
This is our floorplan. I'll explain some things as we go along.  The 'front' door is the back door. As you can see, it leads into the main living area. The floorplan shows a television in the bedroom. It's wired for it but we've chosen not to add it to our trailer.
As we step inside you will see a panel of controls on the end of the overhead cabinet to your right. Some manufacturers put all of the controls behind a cabinet door so they aren't visible and, honestly, I wasn't thrilled to have them here but they really do make it much easier to see and control things in and out of the trailer. With the push a button we can extend the awning or pull it back in. Our last two trailers had manual hand-crank awnings. This is so simple. Press another button and the dinette slide moves out to full extension on its own. When it's time to get ready to move down the road my sweetheart asks me to 'put the slide in' and I push that button and it comes inside the trailer and stops in just the right place. When I take photos of our trailer I'll show you what that looks like when the slide is in for travel. Other controls here turn on the water pump for sinks and bathroom water use when we're not hooked up to water. We turn on our hot water tank and can check the levels of our fresh water tank and our holding tanks here. We added a solar panel to the roof and one of these controls turns it on. It's really amazing that we can stand in one spot and handle everything we need to keep things running or ready to move. I mentioned that I wasn't thrilled to have the controls right here. That seemed like a prime spot for decorating - maybe a small bulletin board or a welcome sign. Or something. But not buttons and controls! My sweetheart had an idea and it was good. His idea made sense. I'll show you what it is when I share more photos.

We chose a different color scheme for our trailer. We have brown leather and different fabric on the valances and the dinette seats. You will see the difference when I show you our trailer.
The kitchen is on the rear wall of the trailer and it wraps around on the far wall. To the right is our refrigerator. This refrigerator is bigger than what we had in our last two trailers. Next is my stove and microwave. The sink is in the corner and I love the sink covers that are made from the same material as the counter top. They provide extra work space when I need more room.

We ordered our trailer without the back-splash you see in this photo. It's made of glass, has the company logo and has a space between the wall and back-splash that would be a nightmare to keep  clean. We have some great plans for back-splash. That will be added soon. The stove has a folding glass cover that is 'up' in this photo. You can see the manufacturer's sticker on the cover. The cover helps keep the stove top clean and protected from dust when we travel on back roads that aren't paved. When it's down it also adds work space.
I love the stainless double sink and the pull-out faucet. My faucet is bronze and matches all of the faucets in the bathroom area.
The trailer slide holds the dinette that is next to the end of the kitchen cabinet. We absolutely loved this big dinette. We could seat six at the table if we were all friendly and cozy. The table is bigger than most and the window on the side is very large. We've already enjoyed some wonderful views out this window. The smaller windows on each end of the slide are a good size, too. You can see a drawer under the dinette seat. There are drawers for storage under both seats. My last trailer had cabinet doors for the storage area under the seats and I almost had to lie down on my tummy to reach things inside. I was thrilled to see two drawers in this model.
Here's another view of the dinette.  You can see the skylight that lets in a lot of light. The pleated shade is closed in this photo but we keep it open most of the time, especially at this time of year. You can see our entertainment center just around the corner from the dinette.
We have a large TV and a great stereo system with surround sound throughout the trailer. When we ordered the trailer we made a change in the cabinet area below.  You will see that when I share photos of our trailer. The straps you see in this photo are used for security when we travel. I don't leave them attached when we live in the trailer.
Our seating area is across from the dinette slide. We chose two swivel recliners in place of the sleeper sofa. The recliners are comfortable and fit our lifestyle well. You can also get a glimpse of our dinette table top. It's made to look like repurposed wood. It fits the style we've chosen for decorating the trailer. The counter under the television and the bathroom sink counter are the same.
This photo shows a feature we really wanted in another trailer - lots of storage! And we have it. the cabinets beside the sofa are incredible. The pantry is next to the sofa and the two doors to the left of the pantry are a big closet!  Three big drawers underneath and two small drawers give us a lot of space, especially when we take long trips. We were determined to have enough closet space and storage so we can live in our trailer for a few months at a time.
You can see the pantry, closet and storage area well in this photo. The hallway leads to the bathroom and bedroom on the front end of the trailer.
 The bathroom sink is at the end of the closet, just across from the door into the 'powder room'.

Across from the sink is the door into the bathroom. It is a little room with the potty and bathtub/shower. Our first trailer had a tub that was so small I could bathe in a few gallons of water - with my knees up under my chin. While I won't be able to stretch out and lounge for hours in this one, it's much bigger and deeper than the first. A skylight in the shower adds height for tall people and it brings a lot of nice light into the bathroom without sacrificing privacy. The trailer came with this shower curtain. It's not my style and I quickly made a change there. Our new curtain is so much better!
The bedroom is at the front of the trailer. We have a queen-size bed that came with a very comfy mattress. We can walk around the bed which is the only way to go. Nice big nightstands are something we've not had and 'shirt' closets and storage overhead are great. There is storage under the bed where we put extra supplies and things we don't use often. I'll show you that when we tour our cabin-on-wheels. This bedspread comes with the trailers but it didn't stay long in ours! We had a new quilt ready and waiting to add some color and comfort to our bedroom.
I'm glad I could give you a tour of an 'on-the-lot' trailer like ours. Soon I'll take you on a tour of our new cabin-on-wheels. You may wonder why I call our trailer our cabin-on-wheels. Two reasons. I have a blog friend who has a wonderful cabin in the mountains of eastern Oregon. One day I commented that I wished we had a cabin, too. She replied, 'Oh, but you do. Your cabin is on wheels and it can go anywhere your heart desires.' She's right - this is our cabin. Our cabin-on-wheels. We've chosen to decorate this one in vintage cabin style. You'll see what I mean soon.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Gifts From The Heart

Some very special people have given me gifts over the past couple of months and I can't wait to share them with you. The gifts are special because they come from the heart of the people who gave them to me.

My daughter has a way of finding the perfect gifts for me. This is what she gave me for Christmas. I'm sure you can understand why her heart raced a bit when she saw these pillows. She knew they would be the perfect gift for me. She always seems to find things I love and this time she really outdid herself!
Our son and daughter-in-law gave us a gift that keeps on giving. This photo was beautifully framed and now it hangs in the family photo gallery in our hallway. It touches my heart every day as I scoot by and see if there. We have been so blessed to have our children and grandchildren close by but the photos help us remember how much they mean to us when we're apart.
My sweetheart knows me well and, at times, he comes up with the most amazing surprises for me. He had planned to keep his Valentine's gift a surprise until the last minute but when he thought about the possibilities of a snafu, he decided to tell me two weeks ahead of time. The anticipation was almost as much fun as the gift. He saw an ad in the local paper and he knew I would absolutely love the event. He called and got tickets and when he told me I could hardly believe my ears!  A concert. I'm a musician and I love music so a concert is always a delight. But a concert of music from my youth? Even better!  The evening before Valentine's Day we had a nice dinner on our way into Portland.  We parked and walked to a fully restored vintage theater that is the home of many wonderful events. The night was clear and comfortably warm for this time of year. I love downtown Portland and seeing it at night is always a delight to my heart.
And then we were there!!!
Johnny Mathis in person! An evening to stroll down memory lane with familiar songs from my youth! The concert began with a few romantic pieces played by the Oregon Symphony Orchestra. They fun and familiar pieces, led by the young associate director. The director wore a light gray suit (black tie and tails), a big red bow-tie and bright red high-top sneakers! He talked and interacted with  the audience and explained why he had chosen the pieces they played. Often we heard the stories behind the music. He had a great personality and he made listening quite fun.  Intermission - and then what we were all waiting for! Johnny came onstage to the sound of thunderous applause. His performance didn't disappoint. I had a bit of trouble keeping quiet. I really want to sing along with him and I'm sure I wasn't the only one in the theater who felt the same way. Song after song and then it was over. What an evening! But there was one more treat in store for me. Something that wouldn't thrill some people but it was like frosting on the cake for me.

My sweetheart has been trained as a sound technician. He has been the 'sound guru' at our church for many years. He always loves to see the equipment and the people behind the scenes who make it possible for us to hear what is being sung or spoken. He knows they work very hard and often are unappreciated. True to form, on our way out, he stopped by the sound booth and engaged the sound technician in conversation. Soon they were talking about things that were foreign to me. It seemed like  my sweetheart enjoyed that almost as much as the concert. As we said goodbye and turned to leave, the sound man handed me his program notes for the evening. Oh, my - what a treat! To have the list of songs sung and have a souvenir unlike anything others took home made me smile.
We walked to our car and headed toward home but the evening wasn't over yet. My sweetheart stopped at the restaurant where we had eaten dinner earlier that evening so we could have dessert together. It was the perfect ending to a date that I will always remember! Before we left the theater I bought a two-CD set of forty of Johnny's favorite hits. And I may or may not play them over and over and sing as I work around the house. It's possible that I may be about to drive my sweetheart over the edge with my constant renditions of music that touched my heart when I was quite young. And it touches my heart again in this season of life!

It's not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.Mother Theresa

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Oh What A Week!

(Disclaimer: All photos were taken with my cell phone. Quality is what it is! 😊)

Life has been busy for us over the last few weeks but this last week has been a very busy - and exciting - week in a lot of ways. And we've had some sad memories, too. 

I've shared through the past few years about our oldest grandson who was a high school football and basketball star.  He's a fine young man and we are so proud of him.  Through the spring and into the summer he was actively recruited to play football by three mid-sized universities and he spent a lot of time talking with the coaches on the phone and in person and checking out the schools. When all was said and done he made a commitment and he signed a letter of intention to play football for Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri. He graduated from high school last spring and made a decision that was a hard one, but wise. He chose to stay at home for the Fall Term so he could work and save some money. His plan was to go to Missouri to begin school this month so he could go through Spring Training with the football team and begin to play football next Fall.  Part of that decision was influenced by the fact that there will be more athletic scholarship funds available to him this spring than what was available for last term.  Last week that plan became reality. Our son and daughter-in-law traveled to Missouri with him to help him move into the dorm and get settled so he could begin classes. We were happy that this day had finally arrived for him but it was hard to tell him goodbye and know he will be so far away.  We miss him but we're so happy he is pursuing his education and we know he is exactly where he is supposed to be. Thanks to technology we are staying in touch!

Last Tuesday was a big day for us. It was a day filled with some sad memories and excitement at the same time.  A year ago last Tuesday my dear, little mother walked through Heaven's gates! Our memories of that day will always stay very clear in our hearts and we reminisced and shed a few tears and missed her all over again. At the same time we were very aware how much healing has happened over the past year. That's just what she wanted for us - healing and for us to move forward with life. A few weeks ago I told my sweetheart that I wanted to do something special on that day. I didn't want to sit at home and be sad. Little did I know what God had planned.  Only He could have orchestrated the events of that day!

If you've been following my blog you know about the fire that destroyed our travel trailer last August. Long before we had settled with the insurance we knew what we wanted for our next trailer. We have always planned to upgrade one more time and, in that process, we have enjoyed going to big RV shows in Portland and Salem for several years. During that time we quickly narrowed it down to the dealer we wanted to work with and we ruled out a lot of RVs and amenities that we did not want.  We visited our favorite RV dealer often through the years so it was easy to know where to start. Shortly after the fire we began our search. Long before our insurance claim was settled we knew exactly what trailer we wanted. In October we ordered a brand new trailer that was scheduled to be manufactured in Eastern Oregon shortly after the beginning of this year.  We ordered it - and then we had to wait! And wait we did. It seemed that it would be such a long time before our trailer arrived but while we waited we planned and bought things we knew we would need. We were getting ready!  A couple of weeks before Christmas we drove to the dealership to sign the final papers before our trailer arrived. We didn't need an appointment, we just chose a day and and went in unannounced. The salesman we were working with saw us coming and he met us at the door with news. The factory had started production of our trailer model right after Christmas! In December - not in January, as planned. Just that morning the factory had called to tell them the date that our new trailer would be completed and when it would arrive at the dealership. When our salesman asked if we would like to pick up the trailer the morning of January 9th (the anniversary of my dear mother's passing) I immediately said yes. My sweetheart questioned me - he wanted me to sure of my decision. I told him I was sure - it was time for us to make a happy memory on that date. And I knew if my dear, little mother could talk to me she would say, 'Don't you dare put your plans on hold! You get that trailer and you start going again!' And so that's what we did.

My sweetheart and I counted the days and then he began to count the hours! And before we knew it, the day came for us to pick up our new trailer. To say we were excited would be the understatement of the year. Our salesman saw us drive into the parking lot and he met us at the door of the pickup. He did a fanfare with his voice and his smile was almost as big as mine! Normally, each day they park the RVs that are being picked up that day behind the service department. I was tempted to run around the corner of the building and look - but I didn't. I made myself wait! We went into the office and our salesman told us it would be a few minutes before we could see our trailer. I was a bit surprised it wasn't ready because we know their normal routine. He said because it was raining he was having one of the service men move our trailer into a service bay so we wouldn't get wet! Give that man an extra bonus!! Within a few minutes he opened the back office door and we stepped right into the service department, turned to the right - and there sat our brand new trailer. In real life! Tears filled my eyes - this was what we had waited for.  The trailer was really here and we were about to step inside and see what had only been a dream until now. We had spent a lot of time in this same model on the lot but the interior color wasn't what we wanted, plus we had several optional amenities added. As I stepped through the door all I could say was, 'Oh-h-h, I LOVE it! It's perfect!' And smile and smile and smile. Everything was just as we imagined. Plus a few small extras the dealer had added as a surprise. I know I must have touched every surface and opened every cabinet and closet door and smiled at everything I saw. One of the lead service men did a 'walk-around' with us to show us everything inside and outside, how it worked and how to maintain and handle things.  Much of that information wasn't new to us because of our previous travel trailer experience. After our tour was finished we went back to the office to sign the final papers - and then the trailer was officially (finally) ours! We talked to the dealer, to the gal in the office who had handled all the paperwork and financial business and to our salesman. I hugged each of them and told them 'thank you' didn't seem adequate for all they had done for us. In turn they said the thanks was really to us. We stepped back outside - and there was our new trailer - hooked up to our pickup and ready to take home. Even though it was raining I wanted a few pictures of it in the parking lot. Our salesman offered to take pictures with us by the trailer. And he did!

I couldn't contain my tears as we drove out of the parking lot and turned onto the street toward home. They were tears joy! My heart was overwhelmed with gratitude and it spilled out of my eyes and flowed down my cheeks. There was a sense closure to the long journey from the trailer fire - and there was anticipation of new things to come. I've told people over the past months that, without our trailer, we have felt like we had our wings clipped. The day we drove home with our new trailer we knew we were free to fly again!

It wasn't long and we were at home. In the empty spot by the driveway where my memory always saw a burned, charred, ruined trailer, now I saw a beautiful, new trailer. And my heart sang! I wouldn't be surprised if I sang out loud, too, because that's what I do.

We got busy and began to move into the trailer. Things came out of closets and out of storage places and into the trailer. We made the bed with our fun new bedding and set up housekeeping. I'll give you a tour soon. Things are very different from our last two trailers and our decor is different, too. Clue: when I asked my sweetheart how he would like to decorate this trailer, he said, 'Like a hunting cabin!' After discussing that idea we decided to make this the cutest cabin-on-wheels. Not so much 'hunting' - focus on the 'cabin'. We're still in the process of deciding and figuring things out but we have a good start.

Last year after my dear mother's memorial service we spent a week at the Oregon Coast with our trailer. We went to a wonderful RV park right on the bluff above the sea. My sweetheart surprised me the day we checked out. When we went into the office to let them know we were leaving he reserved a week for our anniversary this year. Never in our lives have we ever reserved anything a year in advance but it was fun to know that we would be back and enjoy the incredible view and the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks below. When we first heard that our trailer model wouldn't begin production until after the first of the year we thought we might have to change our plans. We asked our salesman if he could find out when we might have our trailer so we could change our reservation, if needed. The day in December when we walked into the dealership and he told us when we could pick up our new trailer he said, 'you don't have to change your reservations - you can go to the coast.' So, we had two and a half days between the time we brought the new trailer home and the time we left for a week.  That's where we are now - we are watching the winter waves crash on the beach and the rocks below and listening to the refreshing sound of the surf. Here's where we are.

And our view from the back of the trailer on the driver's side.
The first two days we were here were gorgeous - almost unheard of on the Oregon Coast in January. The morning after we arrived we woke to sun and warm temps. And this was our view from our big dining area window. (This window is one of two exit windows if both doors are not available to exit in an emergency.)
A couple of evenings ago we were out for a walk with my little dog, Joey. We stopped and had a good, long visit with some other RVers. Late in the afternoon the clouds had started to roll in from far out at sea and it wasn't long before all traces of sunshine were gone. The cloud cover was getting thicker by the moment and we knew there would be no possibility we would see the sunset that evening. But were we ever wrong! As we stood and talked to our RV neighbors all of a sudden we looked and were totally in awe of the scene we saw.  It was obvious that God had taken out His paintbrush and painted the sky!
We knew that the maiden voyage of a brand new RV can reveal problems or adjustments that need to be made. We thought we had arrived with no issues but when my sweetheart came inside to sit down after he had all the outside setup things finished he discovered something that had happened as we  traveled. The big shade on the window behind our recliners had fallen down. It wasn't just the shade that fell down - both of the brackets that hold the shade in place had come unscrewed. At first he thought we would have the dealer repair it when we got home but new neighbors arrived that evening and their living area windows looked directly into that window. My sweetheart decided to look things over and repair the shade himself. The next morning he drilled two more holes in the bracket so he could add extra screws. Then he put it back up and it has worked great without falling down ever since then.
There were quite a few options we could choose to add to our trailer. There was no question that we wanted to add a fireplace! Early in our RV show experiences a dealer had told us one of the benefits of having an electric fireplace in an RV. Electricity is included when we're in a park with full hookups. He told us it makes sense to use the park electricity to heat an RV instead of using our propane (furnace). We liked that idea, plus I love the cozy feeling of our fireplace. And Joey thinks it's absolutely wonderful, too! I'm sure he thinks we did this for him. (You can see the reflection of the rug I added in the living area but this gives an idea of the fireplace.)
The best part of our week was yesterday when we celebrated our anniversary. Number forty six! Forty six years and I'm often asked the secret of a long marriage. I always say, 'the grace of God and a very patient man!' We are just a few miles from where we spent our honeymoon all those years ago so yesterday we went there for a late lunch in their wonderful restaurant. We were the only ones there at first so we were given the corner table with the best view. After lunch we drove to a neighboring city to the south where we stopped at an antique mall to browse, made a few other stops, drove to a parking area that overlooks the sea and we ended up at a favorite restaurant beside the beach. We had a wonderful dinner and a decadent dessert - something we don't do very often. It was a sweet day - we were together and in a place we love.
These mugs were a Christmas gift from my dear cousin. We thought our new cabin-on-wheels would be a good place to enjoy them.

Very soon I will share a couple of long-overdue posts and then I will return to The Grand Trip so I can share the rest of the journey we took last Spring.  And I will give you a tour of our new trailer. When I share it with you I think you will understand why we are so in love with our cabin-on-wheels. We are appreciating every little detail about this place that is going to take us to places that up till now have only been a dream.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Winter Trek Toward Home

In my last post I shared about a few days we spent with our son and his family at a wonderful vacation house in Central Oregon.  When we all said our goodbyes and exchanged hugs we headed different directions to get back to our homes.  My sweetheart and I took the northernmost route home over Mount Hood, my favorite mountain in the Cascade Mountain range of Oregon.  The roads were clear when we started our trip home. We traveled down a steep grade to the bottom of the gorge where we passed through a Native American reservation.
Not long after we passed through that little town we drove up another steep grade on the other side of the gorge and drove on a flat plateau for awhile. It always seems as if we're on top of the world here. The sky seems so big!
We began to notice more snow along the side of the road and we were pretty sure there would be quite a bit of snow on the mountain pass ahead.
It wasn't long and the terrain changed.  We were in forest land - and beginning to climb to higher elevations.  The world around us was beautiful. Snow-covered trees stood in the shade on side of the highway while trees on the opposite side stood tall and green in the sun.
The scene kept changing as we continued to climb the mountain pass. We were definitely in a winter wonderland!
It wasn't long before we came to a line of trucks and cars alongside the road. A highway sign let us know that tire chains or traction devices were required for the road ahead.
My sweetheart is a very good driver in snow and ice. He knows how to handle the vehicle - and he's not a fan of putting chains on the tires of our car. But, when it's required, he complies. I felt bad because he wasn't feeling well and there was nothing I could do to help.
While my sweetheart worked to get the chains on our car I walked my little dog. He's not a big fan of snow - especially when it comes up to his tummy! Across the highway from the chain-up area where we stopped was an area for cars and trucks that had come over the top of the pass to take off their chains. I noticed a family across from us. The father had already taken the chains of of their car and he patiently waited while the kids finished making a snowman beside the road!
Soon we were on our way again. Slowly we made our way up the mountain pass. The road was packed with snow that had frozen. My sweetheart taught me long ago that it's wise to drive slowly when chains are on the tires. And that's exactly what we did!
We got to the top of the mountain pass safely and began our descent down the other side. It wasn't long before the pavement was bare. Chains were no longer needed.  The sun was setting as we drove down the mountain and into the valley below.  Our time away with our family was wonderful and our winter trek toward home had been beautiful but we were very  glad to get home again. No matter where we go - there's just no place like home!

Friday, December 29, 2017

New Traditions In The Making

So many of you shared your lovely Christmas decorations on your blogs and I was inspired! Inspired, yes.  Motivated to do more than I did, no. This Christmas was different - far different - than planned. It came quietly and here we are facing the end of the year and looking forward to turning our calendars to another new year.

This Christmas was the first one without my dear, little mother and, even though I knew it wouldn't be easy, I had no idea how very hard it would be! I had plans - oh, how I had plans - but we didn't do any of them. Instead we did some other things. New traditions, perhaps.  Good things with family that helped all of us celebrate time together. 

 Mid-December found my sweetheart and I traveling to the South Coast of Oregon to visit my dear cousin and her hubby. We visited them early in December last year and had such a good time. During that visit she and I became aware of an annual event in their community that we wanted to do. We missed it last year so we started planning to do it this year. And we did! A gorgeous, old silent movie theater in her town has been restored. The original pipe organ that was played during the silent movies era is still there! It was in need of restoration and many long hours have gone into restoring the pipes and bellows, the miles and miles of connections and cables. One Saturday afternoon each December a free Christmas concert is presented to the community by two organists who know the old organ very well. And that's where we wanted to be on that Saturday this December!  We arrived early enough to choose good seats. I played some pipe organ in my college years and I knew I wanted to be where I could see the organists hands and feet and watch as keys were played that made the music resound through the pipes high overhead. There is nothing quite like the sound of a pipe organ - unless it is the opportunity to play one!  There is was. The Mighty Wurlitzer!

Photos taken inside the old theater with my cell phone don't do the organ or the theater justice. I  walked over to get a closer look and the anticipation of what we were about to experience began to seem real.
It wasn't long before the first organist - a very talented lady - stepped up and began to play. She has a special history with this old organ. She grew up in the area and spent many hours at the theater during her high school years so she could play the organ. She went away to college to study music and then returned to teach music in her hometown. She is part of this special concert every December and has been for many years.  The music she played filled the theater with such happy sounds.
The next organist was introduced. Not only is he an organist - he's the man who has done the restorations so he knows this old organ better than anyone else.  His style was very different than that of the first organist and such a complement to what we had already heard. He had an amazing sense of humor that rang out loud and clear through his music.
After a brief intermission we joined him for a Christmas sing-a-long. The sound of our voices and the mighty organ filled the theater.
As we shared the rest of the day with my cousin and her hubby, we four decided this just may have to be a new tradition for our holiday season for years to come.

Soon after our return home we began to prepare for more travels out of town.  Our son and daughter-in-law had invited her parents and the two of us to share a vacation rental home in the central part of our state. What fun we had for three days with our dear ones, including four of our grandkids plus our oldest grandson's best friend.  The home was wonderful and just perfect for us.  Five bedrooms. Four bathrooms. A living room. A game room. Huge kitchen. Something for everyone. Room to spread out and relax. We stayed in the room with the bay window on the left.
The house had been decorated for the holidays and Christmas music filled all the rooms when we arrived.
This vacation rental home is part of a large resort. This home sits along the golf course and nearby are other activities - swimming, racquetball, a full-sized gym, fitness rooms and more. The teen grands spent a lot of time in those activities and the younger grands enjoyed swimming and a short game of golf on a smaller course. 
When the older grands weren't out and about they were busy finding things to do back at the house. There were board games and card games and memory games and ideas thought up from below and above.
And in the family room - a pool table. Hours and hours of pool games. Games perfected. Some not so much. While the younger set was out and about the grandpas ruled the pool room.
And in the kitchen - food.  And more food. Christmas goodies galore. Snacks and nutritious meals. A walk-in pantry temporarily filled during our stay.  In the evenings it was interesting to see the grands and some of the adults retreat to the living room for quiet activity. Adult coloring books took center stage. Some handcrafts were on the docket and, of course, a silly game or two. There were treasured conversations sprinkled throughout our time together and the bonds of relationships secured tighter than before. The evening before we left a light dusting of snow began to fall. I will never forget the excitement in our youngest granddaughter's voice when she looked out the window and then turned and squealed, 'Grandma - it's SNOWING!!!'  Early the next morning the sun began to shine as preparations were made to head home.

And just after daybreak, a familiar sight outside our winter retreat home. Deer! Two, at first, and then many. All watching us and not afraid as long as we kept our distance.
Our belongings were packed away in our cars. Hugs were given and promises to return again. Perhaps this, too, will become a new tradition for our family. That seems to be a good plan. Time away - time together - time to share old memories and make new. Time to step away from the busy-ness of the season for quiet time together.