Wednesday, December 29, 2010

White Christmas Party

Who hasn't seen the movie "White Christmas", with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Clooney? 

It is a classic!  For many years as we raised our kids, our family has gathered together in December with other family and friends to watch "White Christmas" while sipping cider and snacking on treats.  All those memorable songs come bursting forth in my mind  ..... "Counting My Blessings", "Snow", and OF COURSE "White Christmas"!  And, as the years went by, how much fun we had counting, not our blessings, but the editing errors in the movie!

We wanted to share this tradition with our home group this year, and when Barb brought it up everybody was onboard in a flash.  Destination: Zuspan's, on Monday before Christmas.  Everybody brought finger foods or cookies for snacking, and we provided the warm cider (and wine, if you must know!) and enjoyed the evening.  After some fellowship time, we played a Christmas song game and then on with the main feature.

Let the grazing begin!

From left, Bob Calvillo, David Trujillo, Barb, and Kerry Kraft.

From left, Elizabeth Kraft, Tracy Darling, Paul and Nathan Kraft.

Ruminating over the Christmas Song game are: Steve Becker, Kevin Vandemark, Stephen and Tracy Darling, Ellen Becker.

Also deep in thought are: Carol Trujillo, Nammi, Bianca Vandemark, and Kerry Kraft. Nathan Kraft and Anna Darling mug for the camera when they should have been concentrating on the game!  (Sorry Nathan, this was our only picture of Anna - that's what you get when you make faces at the photographer!)

It was a fun night.

Rockwell at the Smithsonian

Not that we are huge art lovers, but Norman Rockwell is one of our favorite artists.  There is just something about his paintings that we really like.  When we heard that there would be a Rockwell Exhibit at the Smithsonian Art Museum, we knew we had to go.  And we finally did in mid-December.

A photo of Norman Rockwell at work in his New Hampshire studio.

In his early works he used models to strike a pose as he painted.  Later, he photographed models in various poses and painted from the photos.

To read this, click on the photo to enlarge.

The pieces on exhibit were original sketches and oil paintings from the collections of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas.  Apparently they are both big collectors.  We enjoyed it very much.  Unfortunately, we couldn't take pictures of the art pieces, but you can view more at the Norman Rockwell Museum web site:

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Kennedy Center Awards 2010

For the third year in a row, we have been fortunate enough to attend the kick-off luncheon for the Kennedy Center Honors.  Because Boeing is the exclusive underwriter for the Gala luncheon and supper on Saturday, our office was given two tables at the luncheon on Saturday December 4, so we attended again this year.

The honorees this year included Oprah Winfrey, Merle Haggard, and Sir Paul McCartney, as well as a couple of other people who we really didn't know about.  Unfortunately, Mr. Haggard couldn't be there but the other four honorees were.  We also saw a number of other notable people, including Nancy Pelosi, Michelle Lee, Barbara Walters, and Diana Ross. 

We had a fun time at the luncheon and were able to take a few pictures.  As usual, most of the honorees and celebrities made a fairly quick exit.  We had to be quick to get a photo of them.

Diana Ross looks on during the luncheon presentation.

Oprah's long-time beau, Graham Stedman also watches as Oprah is introduced.  (Or is it Attorney General Eric Holder - they look a lot alike!)

Barb (in background) looks on with a smile as Dan gets a picture of Barbara Walters after the luncheon is over.  We are told the younger man in the foreground is Paul McCartney's son.

Sir Paul McCartney. 
Just behind him in the red is Speaker Pelosi. 
Front left is another honoree, Jerry Herman, who wrote the major Broadway shows "Hello Dolly", "Mame", and others.

Unlike any other honorees we've seen in our three years, Paul McCartney did not beat a hasty retreat - he remained in the dining room for a while and them moved into the foyer where there was more room for people to gather and meet him.  He seemed very gracious to all the "regular" people as they greeted him and got a picture taken. 

We tried to get in for a picture, but there were a lot of people trying to the same.  Several times we got close, but then he would turn to somebody on the other side and we lost our position.  As he started to make his way out, Barb and I got into position at the exit door.  Just as he was turning to leave, we got his attention and Barb got in for a picture.

As you can see we got a great picture.  We really aren't celebrity-groupies or idol worshippers, but it was a fun moment to meet (ever-so-briefly) somebody like this.  When we got home, Barb uploaded this photo to Facebook and had about 20 responses within an hour, including our Pastor who even wove it into his sermon the next day!  (Barb was pretty embarrassed about that.)

As I said at the start of this blog, this is our third year attending the luncheon, and we have had a good time at each.  (See also "Lunch with our new friends" (2008) "Kennedy Center Award Luncheon 2009" for our prior reports.)  This may have been our last chance to attend, depending on when Boeing moves us back to Seattle, so we wanted to make the most of it.

And we did!

Until the next post, God Bless! 

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Special Party

Knowing we would all be together at Thanksgiving, we decided to put together a little surprise party to honor Mom and Dad in a milestone year - Dad turned 80 in September and Mom will do so next year.  Well, that became a little more challenging than we thought ... what with Cindy Malaysia and us in Virginia, planning such and event was challenging.  In the meantime, Mom and Dad decided to put together a dinner since we would all be together.  Then, Mom decided she wanted to surprise Dad for his 80th.  So we ended up with Dad preparing for a little dinner gathering in honor of the family getting together while Mom was planning a little surprise for Dad while we were preparing a surprise for Mom and the grandkids were preparing a surprise for them both.  Aaack!

That was a little crazy, but it worked out in the end and we had a great time.  We actually pulled off the surprise for both Mom and Dad!  We also had invited our extended Texas family, Aunt June and Uncle George, Stephen, Lisa with Anthony and Elena, Lynn and David.  What a wonderful night!

Dan leads in raising a toast to Dad, who was very surprised ...

Then Cindy announced that this party would be in honor of Mom, too, much to her surprise.....

Mom and Dad pose in front of the picture posters with photos from their life.

Aunt June and Uncle George enjoy the festivities.

The first and second cousins pose.

The highlight of the evening was that each grandchild read a list of their favorite memories of Grandma and Grandpa, five each, which totalled to 80 favorite things about their grandparents.

One by one, each of them read their list to G&G.  It was a very touching time.

These were captured in a very special photo book and presented to them afterwards.

It was a beautiful night, and a chance for the extended family to honor the love and devotion of Mom & Dad, Meemaw and Peepaw, Grandma & Grandpa, Uncle Doc & Aunt Joan.

Mom and Dad - We love you ... thank you for all your love, devotion, and blessings through the years.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Little December Snow

Winter is coming - a couple of weeks ago we had a little bit of snow, not much but enough to give us a pretty, white backdrop.  We like snow, a little bit at a time - not that monster storm that hit us earlier this year!  (See "More Snow - 24 Inches and Counting", "27 Inches and a Downed Tree", and "Beauty After the Storm".)

The critters look different in the snow.

The Christmas lights glow prettier when the snow reflects their colors.

As I write this, the Virginia-DC area is expected to get more snow as a big winter storm heads up the east coast.  Let's hope we don't have anything monumental to blog about in the next few days!

Thanksgiving in Texas

OK, the title gave it away.  We spent Thanksgiving in Texas with Dan's family.  All 19 of us were together on Thanksgiving Day as our kids and spouses made it to Texas, too.  We had a wonderful time together.

The king of the carvery, Dad prepares the turkey.

It used to be an adults table (those were the good old days), but they are all mixed together now!  Clockwise from the left: Babette, Jeff, Dad, Nate, Barb, Michelle, Cindy, Mom.  Not pictured: Dan.

And, at what used to be the kids table, clockwise from the left: Matt, Callie, Kara, Ann, Todd, Nic, Connor, Kyle, Jeffrey.  Not pictured: Kacie.

The cousins patiently pose for a pic together as the paparazzi snap photos.

Later on, the cousins pose with Grandma and Grandpa outside by Grandma's candy canes.

The brothers hold court.

The Matriarch relaxes.

And we end the day together with games, games, games, including this rousing round of multi-handed solitaire. 

We had a wonderful time together that day and through the weekend.  On Friday we had a formal portrait taken:

On Friday night we had a special dinner, but will save that for another blog.  On Saturday we played the second bi-annual indoor black light golf tournament at Shankz.  Here we are afterwards:

We followed that up with dinner and games at Todd & Ann's Saturday night, our last full gathering before people had to start heading home on Sunday.

Thanksgiving - a time to give God thanks and praise for all His immeasurable gifts in our life.  Our family, one by one and all together, is a great blessing.  We are thankful for each other and the joy we share when we are together.  

Thank you, Lord!  

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Facebook Is Becoming A Problem

Yes, I said it .... Facebook is becoming a problem ..... for our blog.  It has become so easy to upload photos to Facebook that Barb can, and usually does, upload photos from an outing or event the same day.  Blogging takes a little more thought and effort, to make a blog page the least bit interesting.

Take for example Barb's picture with Paul McCartney.  Those of you on FB saw it within hours, while our Blogger readers haven't seen it yet.  Or mobile uploads .... I can take a picture on my Blackberry and have it on FB in minutes.  Once these have been shared in the cyber world it is a little hard to apply the effort to get it on the blog.

However, we are committed to keeping our blog as current as possible a) for our non-FB friends (and yes, there are a few) and b) as a diary of our adventures in DC.  So stay tuned, while we have a little quiet time during the Christmas break, we will try to get caught up.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Love the Fall Colors

Fall colors seem to be drawing out longer around here this year.  While some trees have totally lost their leaves, there are still some that display brilliant colors.  Here are a few trees around our neighborhood that make it so enjoyable as we come and go ...

a tree across the street, morning (left) and afternoon (r)

a neighbors tree with our house in the background

Others around the corner.

Hope your autumn has been a season of blessing.  Soon we head into winter.  Christmas is right around the corner!