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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Birthday fun... VIDEO GAMES anyone?

     It's that time of year again. Our son will be 11 years old, and is definitely at that 'tween' stage of his life.  He made a major leap of his main interest a year and a half ago, going from Thomas the Train to Star Wars, is becoming more independent (he made Jiffy Pop popcorn completely on his own the other night) and is totally obsessed with electronic games.
     We invited 3 of his classroom friends (Jonny, Deakon & Carter) over for his birthday party on Saturday, one day before his birthday.  Michael suggested going to the pool for an hour or so before hand, or going sledding, but all the boys invited immediately turned down the pool activity.  At the time that we were planning his party, we didn't even have any snow, then it warmed up after we did get some.  We have snow once again, but I don't expect them to spend even a few minutes outdoors during the actual party, let alone going to the state park or the water tower hill to go sledding, as they are all big into gaming.  Perhaps in the late afternoon, or tomorrow morning, anyone who stays overnight might be more interested in going outdoors.  Carter wasn't able to stay overnight because of wrestling, but he stayed a few hours longer, only leaving when he had too lol.
     Wesley's main gift is still in transit, as I ordered it earlier this week.  I had hoped it would be delivered by tomorrow (FedEx delivers on Saturdays here, but UPS does not, unless it's a 'special delivery'), but it has only traveled from it's origin of Texas to Tennessee as of this afternoon.  Michael had told me that he didn't care if it was a couple of days late for his birthday, and not to ask if the seller was willing to change the delivery method in order for us to get it sooner.  I totally understand that outlook, as this item was a splurge, considering that I had already picked him up a few smaller and less expensive gifts.
    On a related note, as a birthday gift to myself, I ordered a canine DNA tester for Dakota this week as well.  It was listed as being on the FedEx truck for delivery today, but it turns out that they took it to the post office for delivery instead.  Oh well, another couple of days doesn't really matter, but it would have been nice to get it today as it was listed.
     UPDATES:  The party was a hit, with two of the boys asking to come back over for another sleepover this weekend, but I had told Wesley not so soon... I need a weekend off lol SO TRUE!
     Surprisingly, the boys DID go outside, wandering out while Dakota and I had gone for our walk.  As we got 2/3 of the way home, I could hear the boys yelling.  Soon I realized that it was so loud that they must have opened the slider for some fresh, they were actually OUTSIDE!   Normally, when I let Dakota off her lead as we approach our property line, she merely trots ahead of me, usually getting a bite or two of some fresh, cold snow, before heading in with me for a big drink of water.  This time, she ran ahead and straight to the back yard to play with the boys,  assuming her self-assigned roll as the 'referee' which her fur coat resembles.  If people or other pets get loud, she assumes they are getting too rough and therefore steps in to break things up.

      Wesley & I bought this HDTV in the evening of Black Friday... LOVE it!  We also set up the old HD large screen that my brother Leon gave us when they moved home.

It just so happened that there were FOUR boys, and when Wesley ran upstairs before we sat down to have cake (cowboy brownies) and icecream, he came back with the FOUR Star Wars character masks he had collected so far.  Perfection....

   While looking for cake decorations, I saw these tiny mustaches, remembered what Roberta Davis's family (Jonny's mom) had done a previous summer, and added into account the boys' ages...hmmm!

I misspoke earlier... there were actually FIVE BOYS attending!  Michael had to show the boys his record high score!

Wesley received some great cards, cash gifts and a GameStop gift card, all of which are perfect for his current interests as well as the locally limited variety of gaming or Star Wars items.  Now he can combine his money to pick out something larger/more expensive which he has wanted for a while, or even order something online.

      The tv we replaced, Leon's pass-me-down.  I think the boys used 3 different game systems: Our Wii and PS2, plus one of the boys' game cube, seen on the floor in the above photo.

    We ordered 2 Hungry Howie's (Wesley's favorite) pizzas for lunch.  Dinner was a high-class kids' favorite: Mac and Cheese plus hot dogs.  Dad even gave Dakota a hotdog bun (some were stale).

        NOW I see why they have the wrestling game out!

     The boys were still pretty loud at midnight, but around 1 am they were talking quietly.  I laid in bed, worried that one of the boys would soon be walking into our room to tell me that they wanted to go home because they missed their family, which has happened in the past.  Nope... Michael said they were probably talking about GIRLS!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

4-Wheelin' For Our Health...

    After a frustrating day yesterday, dealing with Fibro fog and the resultant mistakes on my part, as well as the dishwasher not dispensing the cleanser AGAIN, today started out on a better track.
    Until..... I decided that I needed to buck up against the negative wind chill temperatures today (it was already 9 degrees warmer this morning than yesterday morning) to take Dakota for a much needed walk.
     We had trudged through the 6-10 inches of fresh snow nearly all the way back to the furthest corner of the cemetary before I remembered that I had planned to drive over with my truck each time we got a fair amount of snow, thus keeping a walking path cleared for the two of us.  The past 2 winters we lost a lot of walking days, especially last winter, with over 110 inches of snowfall here in Ludington!
      So off we went, 4-wheelin' together again!  I would LOVE to know what Dakota was thinking each time we do this..."But mom, we were just here... walking!  Why are we driving around and around again?"
    After I had made 3 or 4 passes through the cemetary, taking alternate routes so we would have a few different paths to walk, the county plow came down the road.  I made sure each time I approached the road that there was NO traffic coming, so I would not get stuck attempting to get out onto the road after stopping for traffic.  I lucked out and the plow did not bury the driveways more than my truck would handle.

     It has now been a few days since I originally began this post.  Problems with the 2 pellet stoves, a few days apart, are now past, and we are REALLY blessed to have them, as we have had our first BLIZZARD conditions of this winter, and the new year. 
     Three days off from school, LOTS of wind, blowing snow, and MULTIPLE MULTI-CAR (30-100+) PILE UPS on US-131 as well as I-94, have created a lot of concern, worry, and headlines this week.
     Perhaps this weekend I will take the time to post some of the photos we've taken both at home and while driving home from the store in a white-out, which came up while Wesley & I were at Meijer to pick up a few things BEFORE the storm hit.

   The photos above do NOT do it justice.  Even at speeds of 30 mph we were driving beyond our visibility, so it was a headlights on, even lower speeds, white knuckle drive home.  I would NOT have gone out if I knew it was going to get this bad so quickly!

     The photo above was taken after we had received 10-12+ inches of fresh snow.  Wesley is shoveling a path for the cats so that they can jump from the deck to their cat door which comes into the living room.  As usual, Dakota was enjoying the snow storm tremendously, and I had to call her in and dry her off with the blow drier.  If she wasn't black on top, we'd never find her during the snow storms.
     The biggest snow days were Jan 8-10th so far, and with the warm weather (36+ degrees) today, Dakota and I finally ventured back to the cemetary with the truck.  What a greasy, slippery mess it was when you'd try to turn.  I was able to make a few laps though so we have more paths, and wider ones at that for our walking....until the weather changes AGAIN. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A rare family visit. Remembering some summer fun...and cuteness!

   It has been approximately 7 years since my oldest nephew and his wife flew out from California to see our family.  Their older daughter, now 7, was only a few months old at the time.  They had a second daughter who will turn 2 this September, so there were four of them flying this time.  They were lucky that both girls didn't really mind the flights.
      My oldest brother (grandpa to these two girls) hosted a Gleason-Leohr family picnic while they were here, and they also celebrated with my sister-in-law's family as well during their 2 week stay.
    This trip was full of 'firsts' for the two girls.  I can't believe it, but they had NEVER seen FIREWORKS before!  They also went to Lake Michigan for the first time as well.  Of course, it was the younger niece's first plane trip as well, and although they had a layover in Denver, both girls seemed to enjoy the trip, like an adventure.
    When I found out that we had not only one, but TWO baby girls to be born in 2012, I was immediately spurred to create baby girl albums.  I gave both mothers their albums during this visit and the family picnic.  I am also creating copies for all us aunts and grandmothers as well.

 Skylar, granddaughter of my brother Robert.

 Walking off (not) into the sunset... Jordan's girlfriend Marci, Skylar, and Robert.
Robert's daughter Jennifer with her daughter Skylar, the first grandniece born in 2012.  Skylar is a VERY girly-girl, & her nursery was done in a baby animal theme, so her album is made of not only the pink & green, feminine items as on the cover, but also contains several animal prints.

     I created Gleason Girl albums for the ladies of our family as well. Aunt Pat's is seen above. Rather than concentrating on the two youngest girls, I included bits of each of us in order of age.  If I did not have a newborn photo, I used the photo at the youngest age available.  I included a more current photo of them when available, & included wedding photos of myself & adult niece Sarah.
     Aunt Pat ended up crying TWICE, first when I gave her the ORIGINAL (& only copy?) of her brother's (my Uncle's) senior album, seen below.  She wasn't expecting either of these gifts, and I think she really appreciates them!

     My cousin Marvie (Marvin Jr.) was one of many relatives on this side of the family, who I have not seen in several years, so that was a special treat.  There were also a lot of new family members who I had NEVER met!  Needless to say, I took LOTS of photos & am trying to share them with as many as possible.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Mystery of the missing purple glove: A Pellet Stove ODYSSEY!

     Another home maintenance issue came up this morning.  Wesley & I got up to the wonderful situation of the pellet stove on the main floor of the house not running, and it was only 64 degrees on that floor.  As soon as I got up, I remembered waking up earlier and grabbing my sheet and comforter to pull it up to my face, so when I came downstairs, the thermostat for the stove was the first place I went!
     "Auger Jam" read the error screen.... trying the 'retry' button to no avail, I reached for the pellet stove user's manual, plus fired up the laptop, anticipating a needed search for how to remedy the situation.  After turning on the furnace and turning up my pellet stove in the basement, to help warm the house while I worked on the problem (AFTER getting Wesley to school), I set off to my usual morning routine of everyone's breakfast and preparing Wesley's lunch.
     Within a few minutes I found both the error message information and schematics for the parts that I needed to work with, and told Wesley that I had to remove a cover from the stove to work on it later.
     One youtube video search later and approximately an hour (the same as the video's creator had estimated) of tedious but easy work, and I had heat again!
     I assumed that the stove had the same problem as his... pellet dust build up blocking the auger and it's eye, but low and behold, as I removed the auger from behind the burn chamber..... I HAD SOLVED THE MYSTERY OF THE MISSING PURPLE GLOVE!!!

     As usual, I took photos as I went through the steps of removing pellets, removing the wiring and the auger.... and THE GLOVE CAUGHT IN THE AUGER!  The above photo shows the twisted shape of the metal auger with the glove twisted up in it, and the auger motor and wiring harness in the lower left corner.
     I was both surprised and greatly relieved that I may have solved the problem so quickly, and hoped that I hadn't damaged any of the wiring while I did it.  I sent Michael another text message (yes, I've begun texting him since we found that it SOMETIMES reaches his phone from our home) that I had 'made fire', and posted on facebook that I thought I deserved a nap. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

So much to catch up on, AUTOSHIP, and getting a LOT of pages done utilizing kits!

      (This is one of many catch-up posts that I am completing, after FINALLY finding a program which works with both my laptop & blogger.  It has been over a year since I began the struggle of posting, needing to load my photos onto a memory card from my laptop and load them into blogger with our old pc upstairs.  For some reason I was only able to add text to my blog with my laptop.
Now, from this fall...)
      I was lucky enough to obtain the AUTOSHIP of Inspired Inc's (Lisa Bearnson's collaborative kits) Top Page Layout kits!  After going through a 'dry spell' of not creating many layouts or other papercrafting projects, I have gotten several done in the past few months.
    ( The single shipment of the Christmas/holiday order is still available at: )
     I was even featured on the 3 BIRDS DESIGN blog, with a page created using 3 Birds Design lines!


     Utilizing the Inspired Inc layout kits, I was able to document several of our summer activities, such as our (almost) daily walks with Dakota.
   I have a ton of layout photos to post, as well as our Halloween adventures and other fall activities!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Brill Christmas Dinner 2014

     Michael and I were able to attend the Brill Christmas Dinner again this year.  I was sick last year and didn't remember that they had changed venues.  We went to James Port Brewery (Restaurant) and had a wonderful meal.

     Michael had a Bourbon steak, while I had the Lake Perch dinner.  Delicious!  Michael tried a different cider flavored beer, which was not what he was expecting.  I enjoyed a chocolate mouse cake with cherries....yum!
     I met a new friend, who also suffers from chronic pain, so we had a lengthy discussion separate from the dinner table, and I plan to invite her and her husband over sometime soon.  On our way home, Michael said that he had told her husband he expected we would be spending New Year's Eve together lol.

Gleason Christmas 2014 at Sarah's home

     My niece Sarah hosted the Gleason Christmas this year, in the old farm house home of herself, husband Paul, and his son Ryan.  Brandon is now living down state with his dad, but always comes to his mom's home for Christmas.  This year, her oldest son Alex moved back down to North Carolina, and now he is currently planning to move in with his girlfriend Amie.  Sarah was blessed with them driving here for several days over Christmas, returning to North Carolina after celebrating Christmas with the Gleasons.
This is the NON spicy meat...

This is the majority of her Christmas village, with a few pieces in the living room, and the rest in the school library.

    Wesley has been exchanging gifts with Brandon for the past few years, as they are the only non-adult children/grandchildren who regularly attend this gathering.  We followed Sarah's exchange gift guidelines of gifts being purchased from second-hand stores, yard sales, etc.
(Nearly) vintage STAR WARS puzzles from
Aunt Deb; these were Justin & Jordan's when they were little!

My FATHER'S hatchet...
     For the 2nd time this Christmas season, I broke down in tears in response to seeing Wesley's gift.  He had asked for a hatchet, after reading the book of that name at school.  A young boy became lost, with only a hatchet to help him to survive.  When Wesley opened his gift from Brandon, I realized that it may have been one of my father's, and when they said yes, I was already in tears.  It is very rusty, and needed to have the handle reinforced, but that doesn't belonged to my late father.  The fact that it is rusty only reinforces that fact, as he had several tools which were rusty, damaged, repaired and repaired again.   The attitude of those who grew up during or after the great depression:  that idea of repairing rather than replacing an item..... using, re-using, and using them up.