2011 was a year of blessings, trials and wonderful memories. As we get older we realize more and more that it is the people in our lives that matter - not the things.  Thank goodness for our friends and family. As always we hit the travel trail often but we also made sure we spent many weekends enjoying our home, our dogs and each other.  
In February we traveled to the panhandle where J.L. (my dad) had a pacemaker "installed".  He was thrilled with the results and continues to stay busy.  This is what an 84 year old tractor driver looks like.

Faye (my mother) is 5 years post cancer diagnosis and cancer free.  Julia (Mick's mom) maintains her independence with help from her best friend, Bitsy, a true example of living a Christ like life.

With the harsh winter and the horrendous heat of summer all of our folks spent a good bit of time indoors.  Thank God for their patience and understanding.


  In March Micky and I joined Casey and Katy at the boy's state basketball tournament where we enjoyed cheering for the Idalou Wildcats as they won it all.

The next week we met Marvin and Linda in Vegas and enjoyed watching basketball, walking our legs off and seeing Marvin get hit on by the show girls.  St. Patrick's day in downtown Vegas is a party.  Everyone should see and hear a rock'n roll band wearing kilts and playing bagpipes. 

  The trip to Vegas (five nights in a king size bed) convinced us that it was time to upgrade.  Two adults and two dogs in a queen size bed might have worked except Pippen likes sleeping cross ways.  So we bought a king size mattress and the two piece box springs and picked up a previously used king headboard and headed home.  We did stop off and buy some king size sheets too (wow not cheap).  At home we stripped all of the beds and opened the new sheets and started the washer.  We painted the new headboard and then began the process.  The twin bed was dismantled and moved to the attic above the garage.  The full bed was dismantled and moved to the smaller bedroom.  Our queen bed was dismantled and replaced the full bed.  Then it was time for our bed.  We hauled up the headboard, the frame and the box springs (2 pieces).  Then we went to get the mattress.  Well folks - it wouldn't go up the stairs.  A tape measure confirmed the fact that our stairway and the mattress were not compatible.  I was devastated, not because it wouldn't fit, but no way was I going to undo all of the moving and put it all back.  And the price of those sheets!!

Thank goodness Voni chose that time to call and visit.  She mentioned their king bed was actually 2 twins pushed together.  So we took the king mattress back and purchased two twins.  Viola - king sized bed.  Pippen still takes her 1/2 out of the middle.

  I lost my dear friend Anita in April.  She kept us laughing, yet horrified at the incompetence of our elected officials.  She was so proud to be an American and much too young to die.   
  Jan and Glynn came to visit in May when they attended Kinzie's graduation from some school in this area.   Michael, the young man in Bethany's life graduated from TAMU Corpus and found a job almost immediately.  He didn't even have time to set up a tent - much less protest.  (ok - no more politics).  Well done Michael!  
  I celebrated a milestone birthday in June and Micky surprised me with a trip to Mexico.  My favorite kind of gift.  We spent a week lounging on the beach and floating in the pool.  Turning sixty isn't so bad if you say it fast and say it on the beach :-)  
  Our Bogota kids came to visit for the month of July.  Over the 4th of July we had my parents, Marvin, Linda, Joni, nieces, nephews, great nieces, great nephews plus all of our kiddos.  The 3 generation "Not So Newlywed" game, a photo contest with categories such as most white trash, most embarrassing, most ahhh as well as the compiling of a scrapbook for my parents were the highlights of the weekend. We celebrated my parents 65th wedding anniversary and enjoyed having everyone here and getting to meet Martin, Ralph and Riley.  
  The last weekend our Bogota kiddos were in the states we had all of our kids and grandkids at the house.  We enjoyed a lively water balloon fight, steaks on the grill and had Christmas in July.  This was the first time in ten years we had celebrated the holiday with all of our kids. 

Nati and Katy enjoyed playing with Grammy's makeup brushes and informed Gramps he had to "go away" because they were getting ready for a party.  Language was no barrier for those two - whether playing or fussing - they seemed to be able to communicate.  Martin enjoyed the dog door and the consensus was that July is not the best time to go to the Waco zoo.

After looking at this photo - here is a big hint - take your group pictures first thing - don't wait till the end of a month long reunion with tons of food and limited sleep.

  We spent August recovering from company and praying for rains that never came.   September brought an end to the NFL strike and we almost saw the end of the Big XII but there was no end to the heat and drought.  My boss retired and our Institute was combined with another and things became a bit topsy turvy at work.  I was moved to a new work area with windows and a nice big desk and a new supervisor.  Changes are working out very well - however I'm still counting the days till retirement.
  Mick and I decided that we would spend a day at Six Flags - just the two of us (before we got too old).  HA!   We were pleasantly surprised to find the park almost empty the day we went.  Of course it might have had something to do with the fact that it was 109 degrees. 
  We met Gary and Voni for a Ranger game and watched them lose a close one.  We traveled to the panhandle where we visited friends and family and attended the Tech vs Nevada game with James and Mendy. (one of the few they won)  I still miss the Pirate!!  
  In October Voni and Gary came down for her yearly heart doctor appointment.  We took a detour over to Kinder for a long weekend with a little gambling and some alligator bites.

I had another rude awakening of old age - cataract surgery.  Other than going to work without eye makeup it really wasn't a big deal.

November was our yearly get away with the Buleks from Edmonton.  George and Tamara met us in San Juan where we spent a couple of days pre-cruise. Then we boarded the Serenade of the Seas and took a 7 day cruise around the southern Caribbean.  We stopped at islands I had never dreamed of seeing and spent our evenings catching up on family, work and of course our dogs. They talked us into trying Escargot and we both admit it wasn't too bad.  Micky spent one whole dinner hour convincing Tamara that Texans really do eat calf fries.

George retired this year and has assured me it doesn't take long to get used to not going to work.

We always start and end our time together with a toast:

Dai bozha

(die [as in to die], bo, zha [like the second g in garage])

meaning "God's gifts" in Russian.

  Here we are having a toast at the "birth of the Pina Colada".  Old San Juan was an amazing area. We enjoyed shopping, sight seeing and a Flamenco floor show.

2011 will end with no bowl game eligibility for our Red Raiders - the first time in 18 years - just another reason to dislike Coach Tupperware along with boring offense, no defense and 66 points for the other team - GRRRR.   We will head to the Panhandle to spend Christmas with our folks and check on Paulette and our other friends in the area.

2012  travel plans include our regular NCAA March Madness trip to Vegas and a huge birthday celebration for Mick, a week on the beach in Florida and we are finally going to Isla with the Buleks.  We have one more week scheduled - just haven't picked the destination yet.  My mother keeps telling us we need to slow down - but we are terrified to try it - we might not get started again!! 

  Bethany is enjoying a full time job and is being trained as the HR director for her company.  She is still in Corpus and hopes Michael will get to stay there once his training is complete.  She wants a new car and a puppy, but she is showing her mature side by waiting till her finances and future plans are a bit more stable.  (And we are very proud of her restraint.)

Lori has changed jobs but is still working from home.  Their company, Capitol Environmental, is doing well and Casey stays very busy. In May they celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary with a trip to Amsterdam and Paris. Katy is a doll with an amazing vocabulary and a very independent streak.  She is 3, will be 4 in May.

Luchi is still with the same bank, but has transferred to a new branch.  Jamie continues to teach history at the school Natalie attends.  Natalie is taking ballet and violin lessons and is the ultimate drama princess.  Martin likes his rocking horse and tormenting Nati - which is turn about fair play.  Martin enjoys pulling up the neighbors flowers and knocking on their doors.  Nati will be 5 in January and Martin will be 2 this December.

Micky - well he either likes to travel or he is a very tolerant man.  He is waiting for a new boss to be appointed and a farm bill but really would be happier than any farmer in Texas to see the end of the drought. As a loyal Red Raider fan it has been a tough fall. Some weekends were almost too much to bear. 

As for me - I am down to just a little over a year till retirement.  I don't hate my job but I'm ready to let someone do it while I enjoy my house, my dogs, my yard and my grandkids or stated differently - my time.  I would like to spend time with our folks, take them on a road trip or two and I want to do laundry at 8 am instead of 8 pm. 




A special thank you to each and every one of you for being a part of our lives.  

We wish you a wonderful holiday and a happy and healthy 2012.