Sunday, December 29, 2019

Saturday, December 28, 2019, MN

Leading up to Christmas, I finished shopping, mostly for ingredients for last minute gifts and baking/food treats for Christmas.  The weather here has been in the mid 30s as far up to upper 40s and is forecast to be mild through the holidays.

At Ben and Jill’s house Christmas Eve, we had enchiladas for dinner and then we played the Right/Left Night Before Christmas pass the gift game. The girls were very focused on the story and the gift (Rubik’s Cube) ended up in the hands of Lois. We then proceeded to have our family gift exchange - more like a present frenzy with the kids. Norah and Camille got Amazon Fire notebooks and Charlotte’s biggy was a Fitbit. They also got clothes, books, and games. I got the gift that I always look forward to - a photo book of the girls and a nice, framed photo of Ben and the girls.

Charlotte shared her room and bed with me, as Granny and Papa were in the guest room. I woke up Christmas morning with her arm around me and a “Merry Christmas Grandma Rose”, followed by a discussion of how Santa might be able to bring toys under adverse conditions. Like no snow, no chimney, how can he deliver to ALL children in the world on one night. We came up with endless possibilities. Norah and Camille slept in and finally, Charlotte couldn’t wait any longer, so she went to their rooms and announced that the stockings were full and there were lot of presents under the tree. Those gifts were all toys and most of them had lots of small components - Legos, play sets with accessories.

Ben made omelets for breakfast and we hung out and played with all of the new toys. The girls were so busy that us adults even had opportunities for great conversation.  Lois and Dennis contributed the main course for dinner - beef tenderloin steaks, I made Garlic Rosemary Baked Potatoes, and we had green beans for a side dish. Dessert was my Cranberry Cake with Hot Butter Sauce. I wasn’t sure how the Gluten Free version would turn out but it tasted the same as the wheat flour version but the texture was a bit grainy. I would say it was a big success.

After dinner, the grandparents packed up and headed home.  We managed to get a few group photos before heading out.

This morning, I had to go to my CVS orientation at their regional office in Mendota Heights.  During the early morning hours we had freezing rain and the roads were treacherous. When I walked .frisco, I got to the sidewalk and couldn’t walk without slipping - everything was coated with ice. I went back to the apartment and got my Yaktrax (a gift that I gave to Ben and Jill and myself), put them on my shoes, and was able to walk. What a great investment!

I headed out, thinking that the roads would be salted and it was very slow going and I saw cars in the ditch just a short distance from home. I continued, taking it slow and easy. I got to the Mendota Bridge and the entire bridge was filled with cars at a standstill. I waited about 15 minutes and then took a nearby exit to attempt another route, heading east along the Mississippi River, then crossing and going south on Hwy 13. As I approached Mendota, there were many cars crashed and spun out at the base of a small hill. I was able to get through with my car in 4WD and the lowest gear, crawling at about 5 mph. When I got to the next small hill, the same was true with cars that attempted to go up the hill only this time, there were many cars involved.  Again, I was able to inch my way to a road that would get me to where I was going.  At one point, I sat there contemplated what my next step was and I watched a woman in a Honda come slipping down the hill (too fast, I’m sure) and her car slid, spun, and smacked right into another car.

The orientation went well and I got my training schedule. Lots of computer modules and some on the job training sessions - a total of 240 hours of training to be completed over the next 90 days. Hmmmm! Am I up to this? I’m going to give it my best and see. It seems like a very good company that values their employees, gives recognition (money and gift cards) for great customer service, and certainly makes an investment in training their staff.  Again, I heard good things about the store that I will work at and my manager, Peter.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Friday, December 19, 2019, MN

My preparation for Christmas is almost done, although I had packages arrive yesterday and another that is due to arrive on Monday. I finished sending cards and got the annual gift of family calendars sent out by snail mail and email today. I still have a few things to get at the grocery store and the last of the packages to wrap.

The Communities at River Crossing had a holiday happy hour on Wednesday evening with some snacks and wine and a complimentary caricature drawing. The artist was a former sketch artist in court and has been doing caricatures for years.  Since I had never been drawn before, I got in line and this is what he did.  I think the resemblance is pretty close.  I also had a nice chat with a couple of ladies who live at Graham Place.

Yesterday morning, the girls had their Holiday Concert at school and it was so nice to be able to be here for that. The kindergarteners performed first with several short songs and they were followed by the 2nd graders, who were a bit more experienced with stronger voices and they did some acting too. Of course, I had tears in my eyes with a great feeling of pride.

I decided to stop at Brueger’s for a bagel and as I got out of my car and was heading to the door, I heard Lois call my name and she and Dennis decided to do the same thing. As we were sitting there eating, Ben walked in to grab a bagel and take it home, so we chatted a bit. And then just as we were packing up to leave, Jill came in so we chatted with her for a while. What a strange coincidence that we were all thinking of the same thing and of the same place.

When I left there, I stopped at my new place of employment as my boss said that he would reimburse me for the $50 fee that I paid to register with the Board of Pharmacy and I also picked up my uniforms. It’s official now. I have my orientation on the 28th, training on the 4th, and my first shift is on the 5th. I’m looking forward to learning something new and having some contact with the public.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Monday, December 16, 2019, MN

Well, we survived our 4-day weekend with the grandkids and we all felt a little bit tired yesterday and the girls were starting to get a bit short with each other. Lois was up early taking Charlotte and her friend Riley to a birthday party in Plymouth. And Norah had a play date at Marina’s house, so I dropped her off and picked her up.  

I made a pot of stew for dinner and Dennis helped me chop up the ingredients. It turns out that I really didn’t know how to operate an Instant Pot, as I discovered I didn’t have it in slow cook mode after about 5 hours.  So, on to Plan B - I pressure cooked it for a half hour and then kept in warming for the last hour and it turned out just fine and tasty enough that the girls even ate it.

We did some crafts in the afternoon and the girls each took long baths and played with Barbie dolls in the tub.  They also put on a play and and a puppet show for us.  

Camille is dressed and ready for the play.

Norah came home wearing Marina’s Anna dress.

After dinner and cleanup, I headed back home, as Ben and Jill were going to be involved with the girls and we would have time to visit anyway. It felt good to get back home and after unpacking, I spent an hour talking on the phone with Tom. We sure don’t have a problem finding things to talk about and it always feels good to chat with him.

I slept in this morning, enjoyed my coffee and reading the news, and took a leisurely long shower.  After wrapping Christmas gifts and finishing packing Pat and Tom’s gifts for mailing, I headed to the post office. Google told me the nearest Post Office was a mile away in Mendota, directly across the Mississippi River from me, as the crow flies. I think it is the smallest post office I have been in - only one employee and about 8 parking spots in front of the building that is shared with an attorney’s office.

When I got back home, I worked on finishing the 3 elf hats that I have been crocheting for the girls. I only had the tail of one to finish and to make the pompous. They are ready to go and I will deliver them tomorrow so they can wear them a few times before Christmas vacation.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Saturday, December 14, 209, MN

After getting the kids off to school on the bus, Lois and I decided to go check out an estate sale in St Paul. We stopped by my apartment so I could search for an Amazon box that was delivered on Wednesday (I didn’t find it before I left) and so she could see my apartment. I picked up some library books that were due and then we headed to the sale. The house was a Tudor style home built in 1927 that had thick plaster walls, huge wooden beams, and rustic heavy wood doors. The house had been sold and the owners were getting rid of the last of their items. I only bought a book but saw several things that I liked, although the prices were much higher than most estate sales.

Friday night is movie night, so it was low key and relaxing. I went to bed right after the kids were tucked in.

Today has been a whirlwind, although we did get to sleep in a bit and didn’t have to be moving until 10:30. We packed lunches and snacks and hats, gloves, and snow pants for ski class and headed out for Camille and Norah’s gymnastics class. After that, they got into their ski clothes, ate their lunches as we headed for the Hyland Hills Ski Resort.  It was difficult to pick out our girls amongst all of the others on the slopes, but we did manage to spot them now and then. I am impressed with their sense of balance and none of them are afraid.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Thursday, December 12, 2019, MN

Well, now I have almost 2 weeks of catching up to do. Where have I been and what have I done?

The big news is that I have landed a job!  Several weeks ago, while at the local CVS, I noticed a sign that they were hiring pharmacy technicians. I applied and immediately got calls from 2 stores in nearby towns, but I really am only interested in the one store that is about a mile from my home and is in a tiny little Target store, so not a huge pharmacy and it has no drive-up window - small and close to home. So...I was picking up a prescription last week and saw the sign still up. So I asked the technician if they were still looking for help. She spoke with the pharmacist and he came out to talk with me, asked if I had time for a brief interview, pulled up my application and resume and I was hired on the spot. I felt good knowing that this little old lady could still pull off an interview and still had what it takes to land a job. I was hired to work up to 20 hours a week with a weekend day every two weeks. The little store is closed on all holidays.

Last week was spent registering with the State Board of Pharmacy, getting my high school transcript, providing a sample for a drug screen, having the background check done, and ordering uniforms.  My orientation is scheduled for December 28 and that will be followed by the pharmacy technician certification and on the job training. I’m kind of looking forward to the interaction with customers and learning something new, and of course, the paychecks will help replenish my savings account.

I’ve also been trying to get organized for Christmas, doing some store shopping, some online shopping and working on some elf hats for the girls. 

This week, Wednesday through Sunday, I am doing the Granny Nanny thing with Jill’s parents at their home while they are in San Francisco for Ben’s annual Christmas Party and to connect with friends. I hope they have some time to relax and just hanging out with adults will be so nice for them.

Last night, we had dinner ready for the girls when they got home and than I took Charlotte to her gymnastics class. It’s a whirlwind around here in the morning - they have their checklists for making sure they do all of their steps in getting ready for school and then Dennis scurried them out the door to the bus stop - it was almost 20 minutes late.

I had my first shoveling, cleaning snow off my car, and driving in the snow experience in 17 years and it wasn’t bad. My Arizona RAV4 handled it just fine and got me where I was going safely today.

It was another after school scurry, and when the girls got home from school, we had Lois’ homemade chicken noodle soup and salad for dinner, then headed out to the YMCA for some free swim followed by swim classes.  They are all doing so well - improving their skills and just love the water.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Saturday, November 30, 2019, MO, MN

I had conversations with both of my sons on Thanksgiving morning and then celebrated the holiday with my siblings and their families at Amber and Joel’s home in Lee’s Summit. The kids are growing up so much and I got to meet little Oliver, the son of Ashley and Chase for the first time - he is going to be 2 in February.  Amber and Joel’s home is beautiful and it was all decorated for Christmas. I didn’t get photos, so I’m hoping that others send me theirs.

 Oliver, Brittany (background), Lincoln, Rita, Barley, Olivia, Stella

Ashley and Oliver

Rene gave her usual Thanksgiving blessing and and dinner was served. Everything was so tasty and everyone made a contribution.

I had planned to head to Springfield to see Randy and Julie and their families, but I learned that most of their kids were gone for the holiday and Julie had a weekend commitment, so the plan was changed and Randy decided to come and visit us on Friday. We had a quiet, relaxing evening watching Dolly Parton’s 50th Anniversary at the Grand Ole Opry.

My sweet sis, Rita and I watching Dolly

I went to Bob’s and hung out with him and Randy on Friday morning and then later in the afternoon, we all went to Stella and Josh’s house to hang out for a bit and to see their home - she had most of her decorations up, all but the Christmas Tree that they had just gotten that morning. And then we topped off the day with dinner at Texas Roadhouse.

Randy and I

Stella, Rita, Penny, and I

Josh, Barley, and Randy

Because Randy came for a visit on Friday and the weather forecast for MN (a wintry mix for late afternoon and snow on Sunday), I decided to head back home on Saturday. That was a wise decision as I traveled through a light, misty rain and dense clouds the entire drive. North of Des Moines, I hit heavier rain and high winds. The farther north I drove, the more snow there was in the fields. Just south of the cities, the rain became more icy but the roads were still clear and then when I turned off on my exit, it was snow and the roads were covered from Tuesday and Wednesday’s snowfall. I patted myself on the back for timing the drive perfectly.

My last gas stop at Clear Lake, IA