Thursday, November 28, 2013

Gobble, gobble, gobble! Thanksgiving, 2013!

Alright, alright, I know I use the same lame Thanksgiving title every single year, since like 2005 or something, lol, same with my Hippity Hoppity Egg-citing Easter title too, lol. : )  But, you know what, I wouldn't be me, if I didn't use it! : ) So, we must stick with tradition and just keep it going, shall we. : ) Anyway, today for us Americans in Japan, today was Thanksgiving. I hope for those of you, who celebrate it, had a wonderful day and spent it happily eating and enjoying your time with your family and loved ones. And for those of you in America, it's probably much too early for dinner, many of you are probably dreaming wonderful dreams of that turkey you'll eat later today. : ) So in advance, Happy Thanksgiving fellow Americans, from our family, here in Japan. : )  My dad stayed back in Guam this year but that's only because he was just here a month ago for undokai/sport's day. Plus, more then likely the boys and I will be going to Guam in December for a weekend to go and see, Catching Fire. So, we'll get the chance to see him pretty soon. My dad had an afternoon potluck though at his condo, he roasted a turkey and everyone else brought a dish, I think he said 3 families came around for that, they all brought a few side dishes, my dad also bought some pies from a little bakery and then according to my dad who just called me 30 minutes ago, they went for a swim at my dad's pool, everyone had just left then he called here.  : )  

We just kept things super simple as always. On this side of the table, we had stuffing, black olives, green beans, mashed potatoes. Thanksgiving plates, to up the festive know what I mean, same with our and we also had Pepsi twist with ice, inside everyone's wine glasses. : )

This side of the table we have those delicious Costco dinner rolls, we toasted them in the toaster oven and buttered them, they taste so good like this all warmed up and toasty. We also have cranberries this side of the table, turkey, gravy, and 1 of our 2 homemade pumpkin pies made it onto the table. 

The boys went to school today since it's obviously not a holiday here, but we picked them up early today at 1pm. Noboru had to be at work at 4pm today. Which means he'd have to leave the house at 3pm. So we had a very early meal at 1:45pm. I did pack Noboru 2 sandwiches and some Lay's potato chips for later if he gets hungry. : ) 

Turkey with gravy, mashed potatoes with gravy, dinner roll, cranberries, green beans, black olives and stuffing. I was pretty stuffed after all that. : ) 

This way, we could all eat together as a family. : )  I'm glad we could do this.  We did go around the table as tradition and said what we were thankful for, big and small. For me on the big scale, I said I was happy our family all had their good health, are all happy, and that we were fortunate to travel so much this year, like Hawaii., Denver, Guam. Happy we have such wonderful extended family. On the small scale, I said I was thankful for, the Black List and Witches of End End, meaning good new Fall TV shows to enjoy all winter long. : ) Yes, I really said that. : ) I also said... I'm thankful Catching Fire is out now and hopefully we can hurry up and see it. : ) I was also thankful most of our Christmas shopping is done, bought my dad's 2 days ago, yippy! : ) So everyone we love is taken care of. : ) Noah said he was thankful on the bigger scale this year that he got his trophy in swimming. For what it's worth, Noah was aware since last week that he had to say what he was thankful for, so he's been deeply thinking of his answer all week! lol. And on the small scale, he said he came in 2nd place on the practice marathon today! So we'll just see how Noah does on December 7th when the real marathon happens. @.@ : ) Anyway, Noboru's was cute, he big and small this year is I am happy that you 3 are happy! : ) Yes, that is REALLY what he said. And I just went, awww. : )  Branden said on the big scale I'm glad I was the school VP this year. And on the small scale I'm happy I got my radio control car. 

Oh Mr. Dimples, don't grow up on me too fast now! : ) You are still my little boy no matter what though, no matter how big and how much you stretch out....always and forever kiddo. : )

When I see this pie, I see Noah's little hands helping rolling out the crust and cracking the eggs to go in the pie filling. : )
Wednesday, the day before, I made the.... from scratch butter crusts for 2 pies. 

Chilled the crust in the fridge from around 10am until the boys got home from school. 

One crust done and perfectly in the pie pan, and Noah about to roll another out with help from me. Branden was doing homework, but he makes pies with me too. The bowls are on the table near Branden, I made a small pot of chili concarne, Texas style chili beans on Wednesday night. But we had to get the pies into the oven before I could throw the dinner dishes and the pie dishes into the dishwasher. : )

Noah measured the pumpkin pie spice and stirred it in there really well. This was only half stirred when we took this pic. : ) 

Baking with my kids, I know the both of them will have countless amounts of memories baking with me when they grow up. : ) But I am cherishing this time now, so much so. : ) So on one hand I see a delicious pumpkin pie made from scratch and on the other hand I see, an evening spent with my son, in the form of a pie. Wonderful either way. : ) 

This was taken around 3:30pm, this evening. I was cleaning up the dishes and the boys were helping me big time! Noah by wrapping the dinner rolls and wrapping the gravy dish and by collecting all the silverware and putting them in the dishwasher. Branden by putting plastic wrap over every dish that needed plastic wrap on it and there were many. : ) I meanwhile, started slicing all the white meat onto 1 plate and all the dark meat onto another plate. We had music playing in the kitchen.  We jammed and sang and danced to.... Royals by Lorde, Popular Song by Mika and Ariana Grande, Katy Perry.. Roar, I Wish by Cher Lloyd, White Walls (the clean version) by Macklemore and then right before we were just about to be done, Noah belted out, When I was Your Man by Bruno Mars, lol. Yep, we sure do, love to sing and dance while cleaning up around here! : )

Goodness are these mikans super sweet. Anyway I left the mikans near the turkey breast to scale how much turkey is left. Needless to see, we will have turkey dinner and/or turkey sandwiches all weekend. : ) And we also, have this same amount of meat left but dark meat also on another plate. Plus one and a half pumpkin pies. We will have leftovers for days, for sures. : )  Happy Thanksgiving again everyone, friends, family, long time readers... much love from us here! : )

And if you're reading from America, good luck and hope you get some excellent Black Friday Deals in person if you can! : ) One of these years I will make a point of being in America during Black Friday. : ) I have things in my cart at, and Old Navy, as I type this out right now. I am waiting for the Black Friday deals to start online, so I can process my orders. Hahaha, oh geeze, my post is getting longer by the second, so I better end this post here. Gobble, gobble, gobble.  : ) 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Denver trip, part 1

I usually don't want to break up for example, 1 vacation post into, like part 1, part 2, part, 3, you know what I mean, right. : ) But, I really think that's the way this Denver trip is going to have to go. Last week, when I finally got around to put my pictures onto my external hard drive, I was surprised, I had 970 pictures from the Denver trip (including pics of the things we brought back also) At that point, I felt so totally overwhelmed by the sheer volume of pics, ykwim, because, wow 970 is quite a lot, so I have been procrastinating posting. And then 2 days ago, I widdled the pics down for a post and gee, we're talking still massive amounts of pics. So, for this time, I think there's just no other way, then me making this Denver trip into like 3 or 4 posts. So, in advance, I am really sorry about the whole having a part 1,2, 3 and possibly 4. : ) But, I just don't think there's any other way. Alrighty, having said all that, onto post #1. : )  We flew out of Haneda airport, November 7th. We were originally going to fly out November 8th via Narita, which is way closer to us, however, if we could get ourselves to Haneda, we could leave a day early.  And heck, a day early sounds great to us, so that's what we did. We left Haneda bound to Los Angeles, California. Also, I'm sure many of you heard or read, a week before we left, LAX was in the news because of the shooting and killing of a TSA. We arrived at LAX around 5pm-ish Thursday November 7th, yep two November 7ths. : ) A lot of the immigration officers had a line through their badges out of respect because of what happened to the TSA the week beforehand.  The officer that checked all our passports was so awesome! And smiley and nice! We zipped through and went and grabbed our empty suitcases. We all carried our carry-ons which contained our clothes. Having flown through LAX a ton of times, my mom lives in California (but 1 1/2 hours away) anyway we took a shuttle to the hotel. The same hotel we stayed at last time, where we get an airline discount. The great thing about this hotel besides from them having a great morning breakfast and clean rooms, is they have a Taco Bell literally a 2 minute walk from the hotel and a Mc Donald's 2 minutes the other way. It's super close to find good eats.... when you have no rental car and you'd like a little something to eat, without having to buy costly room service, you know what I mean. We went to our room dropped our luggage, all went pee and we all walked to Taco Bell around 6pm-ish, Thursday November 7th. After we ate, we walked the 1-2 minutes to our hotel,went to our room and all took showers, brushed our teeth and immediately went to sleep because our timing was all off and we knew our flight the next day was leaving at 6am so we had to be at LAX by 4am Friday. Which means we needed to wake up by 3am so we'd have enough time to get ready all 4 of us. Good thing is, we all suffered major jet lag! Which means we all woke up at 2am, Friday morning. : ) Awesome, so I brushed my teeth, washed my face, put my makeup on and did my hair. Noah brushed his teeth combed his hair and went to the bathroom and then got dressed. Branden woke up, got ready. Noboru was the last to wake up, but we still had tons of time to spare. We left our room around 3:45am, took the elevator and shuttle back to LAX, we were too early for breakfast, hotel breakfast starts at 6am, but they put out a nice muffin tray, blueberry, banana nut and chocolate, we do enjoy this particular hotels breakfast though. The boys each had a blueberry muffin. Noboru had a coffee. And it was much too early for me to even want to think of food. : ) So, we shuttled it to LAX and were there in about 5 minutes.  This picture of Noah was in our room in Los Angeles, California at the LaQuinta, Hotel.  Can you believe we were the 3rd family in line, that early on Friday morning? Gee we thought we were early, turns out there were 2 families earlier than us, lol. : ) We checked in at Delta, dropped our empty suitcases in the baggage drop and headed through the TSA, and went to McD's to feed the boys. It was 5am-ish. And we were like MC Donald's 2nd customers that morning. : ) The boys each got a sausage Mc muffin combo and a juice and hash brown. Noboru ate. My body must have been all messed up time wise, because the thought of food for me was like blergh at that point, I did have a hot coffee from Mc D's though. Everyone ate and then we went and sat at the gate. Caught our flight from LA to Salt Lake City Utah.  

We had arrived in Utah about 10-15 minutes early. We arrived around 8am-ish ,mountain time. It was immediately cold. Colder then what, we were used to. : )  We got our rental car, it was a weekly rental and we drove out of the Salt Lake City car rental spot at 9:10am. And headed to the highway and Colorado bound, via Wyoming, we went.  If you are looking at this picture, yep, highway 80 towards Cheyenne, here we come!

These pics are from Wyoming. The sun was shining, but the air felt really crisp and had a bite to it. You could see snow for sures where the sun wasn't shining. 


Growing up in Colorado, I can tell you what Wyoming was famous for, they were famous for their fireworks! : ) Fireworks were pretty much banned to light them in Denver city limits growing up, you'd have to go to a suburb and let them off, if they were allowed, sure in Denver, some blocks/streets didn't mind if they weren't blackcats or super loud, but it depended on if you neighbors were okay or the "call the cops kind." On our particular street our neighbors didn't mind fireworks as long as it was before 9pm and we didn't mind either. And the fireworks you could buy in Colorado, sure but the types we could buy, were limited. However, every year we'd hear things like,  "oh the Amici's are driving to Wyoming to buy some fireworks, anyone want anything?" Yep, people making a Wyoming run around the 4th of July was pretty common, when I was growing up, so funny how all these years later, we saw all these signs. These signs, just made me smile.  : )

Wyoming license plates. You probably can't see the picture of the plate. The picture on the Wyoming license plate is of a cowboy on a bucking bronco. Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, the cowboy way of life, is just how it's been for years, sure now a lot of it's now city.   And yes it is true, I am as comfortable saying, hello, as I am comfortable giving you a warm...."hi ya'll" either way are normal for me. : )  Anyway, by now it was 1:30pm-ish and it was lunch time and by now I was hungry. 

I had the apple pecan chicken salad, with a pomegranate vinaigrette.  And a raspberry lemonade.

This was perfect for me, I was hungry sure, but didn't want to eat anything overly greasy or too overly heavy. This had both red and green apples, real blue cheese crumbles, sweet cranberries and roasted pecans, and a few slices of grilled chicken breast.

Noboru had a cesar salad and a huge chili. Branden had a large chili and Noah had a small chili. The boys also split a cesar salad and a frosty. : )

More Fireworks billboards. This is *so* Wyoming. : ) 

Friday, November 8th and it was 3:53pm, early evening, and the temperature was indeed dropping, it was 47 degrees F, but settled in the high and mid 30's F during our drive to Colorado. 

When we saw this sign, that said if you're going to Colorado, via Fort Collins, head this way. We were like, woh! Finally....we are so close to being there. It was just really good to see actual signs that said Colorado on them. : ) A sight for sore eyes, I tell ya. 5 years in the making. : )  We checked into our hotel room in Westminster, Colorado. Sure I have tons of family but there's nothing quite like privacy of coming and going when you want. You know what I mean. We unloaded our empty luggage, our carry-ons and went to the rest room washed our hands and headed to dinner and to Walmart to get normal sized shampoo and conditioner, versus the teeny tiny thimble size bottle of just shampoo the hotels usually give. And that's not enough shampoo for all 4 of us. Besides I use conditioner and being in the US for about 9 days or so, we could use a regular size bottle of shampoo, etc. 

We went to Popeye's. The kids and I each got a chicken strips and mashed tater with gravy and biscuit combo with drink. Noboru had a couple dark meat pieces of chicken combo. We all sat there just chillaxin'...."OMG, we made it!" Can you believe we made it?" I can barely believe it. "Doesn't it feel good to have arrived?"..."totally!" A few happy deep sighs. A few sips of our sodas. Couple spoons of our mashed potatoes. Bliss. We had indeed made it. 30 minutes we spent in Popeye's. An eternity for a fast food place. : ) We were just all tired.... we just took a what, 7-8 hour drive. And by gosh, we finally made it, not even counting the early wake up time in LA. But we made it. At last at last. So I think we were sorta savoring our meal. And just in bliss mode there at Popeye's. : ) Okay after all that... we all hopped in the car and we headed to Walmart. Which was a short 5 minute drive from Popeye's and a short 5 minute drive the opposite way of the hotel. 

First thing that hit me when I walked in the door of Walmart was, the Denver Bronco cupcakes. Okay don't laugh but, let me try and explain Japan, it feels like I'm the only Denver Bronco fan in the whole country. You know what I mean? I'm sure there could be more of us out here, but it feels like it's just me and my lonesome, ykwim? : ) And the boys and Noboru too of course. But yeah here in Japan, it's no wonder I feel like the only one... especially way out in the countryside. It does get lonely....being the only one. You must really love THAT team ykwim. : ) But somehow me seeing these...I felt instantly...I am home! With people and folks just like me! At long last, I am finally home!!!!. It just felt really really good seeing those cupcakes, on so many levels. And no, I didn't buy any of those cupcakes, but they did make me smile.  We bought a Pantene BB shampoo and conditioner we all used during our trip, a big bottle of each and we also bought a biggish travel sized tooth paste, the hotel had toothbrushes. 

Everyone took turns showering and shampooing and soaping up, putting on pjs. And we all zonked out. We all woke up super early Saturday morning, but better then the first day. We woke up around 4am. We all took an hour to get ready considering 4 people sharing 1 bathroom. I think we did pretty good. 

My Heidi Klum NB sneakers. They were comfy and stylish for all the walking we did from Haneda, to Colorado and all the stops in between. : ) 

I'm glad the sink, blow dryer and mirror were separate from the toilet and shower/tub area. 

La Quinta has free breakfast, and we took advantage of that, by having it every morning except 2 mornings. They had waffles, you make yourself, the batter was there and it was super easy to make them. Fresh bananas, apples and oranges. Hot coffee, hot chocolate, fresh juices. 

Noah having a hot chocolate and a chocolate muffin. Branden had a bagel, he toasted. they had mini butter, mini cream cheese, mini peanut butter anything to spread on whole wheat toast or a bagel. They had cold cereal and oatmeal. They had no eggs or bacon or anything but it was perfect enough for us, wait, I take that back, they did have hard boiled eggs every morning. And like I said free, and more then enough to fill your tummy up on, every morning until lunch time. Around 6:30am we headed to Walmart. 2 Walmart's were very near our hotel. Very close proximity.

They had the Chex Mix holiday bags out already. I didn't buy any but wow, didn't it look great! : )

All Thanksgiving foods were all front and center. Cranberry stuffing, turkey stuffing.  Super cheap Walmart prices. 

Like it says, "holiday classics made easy" and I agree, why make it any harder on ourselves then need be. : )

Herb stuffing and cornbread stuffing. I was tempted to buy the cornbread stuffing but Noboru made a slight face and said, "can we just get the stuff we usually use?" Bless him, he's just not too keen on big change. Alright, I said. : )  He's got a really mellow personality, I have a really mellow personality. 

This was the twin pack size and it's what we usually get, so we picked one of these and one smaller sized one too. 

Ready to spend 2 hours at Walmart boys? Sorry kids. : ) The bright size is, the boys were awesome, they were busy looking at items, reading items. Time seemed to slip by them too. : )  Very good boys.

Americans sure do love pumpkin, don't we? Pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin cake, pumpkin bread, pumpkin frosting!!! You name it, we more then likely make it in pumpkin flavor, no doubt! : ) 

Pumpkin pie bars, pumpkin spice filled cupcakes!

Caramel apple frosting, caramel apple cookies. Caramel apple lip balm, I saw it, Caramel apple lollipops, I see those every year too. : ) 

Now these I bought! Hot Chocolate brownies, we bought 2 of these and 1 of the hot chocolate cupcakes. reminds me of rocky road brownies, I'll add some walnuts in them too. Yumm. : ) 

3 boxes of cereal , they're everyday low price is $5. Yep, $5 for 3 boxes of cereal. OMG! what a deal. Didn't buy it though. Only because we were worried about space in the suitcases. 

Lakeside Amusement Park, closed for the season. 

For lunch we went to our favorite Mexican restaurant, we used to always go to. Chips and all the different varieties of salsa, some are mild and some can put you on fire, just about. : ) 

Branden's meal. His meal looked so good, I should have picked what he had. : ) Hahaha. He had a cheese enchilada, bean tostada and side of rice and beans.

Happy and just about to dig right in!

Noah and his kids meal, bean and cheese tostada and side of rice and beans. 

I had the chili relleno plate with a side of rice and beans. Also it came with flour tortillas. This was so good.

Noboru had a huge bowl of pork green chili and side of tortillas. We went visiting family after lunch. And then we went to a few other shops, like Target, Walgreens and Walmart for something we forgot and we then went back to the hotel, dropped off our stuff and headed to the free standing Chick-fil-A for supper.

Noah loved their chicken nuggets and their lemonade is so good, he also enjoyed his waffle fries. 

I wasn't feeling like fries, I just had a sandwich for supper only. And a large lemonade, Noboru and I shared. Branden had a combo and Noah had a kids combo. 

Branden loved the waffle cut fries too.

Next morning we had the free hotel breakfast again, it's just a really hearty meal and fills you up. We then went to one of my best friends house. Two of my other friends were there to meet up with us too. And their kids. I'm not sharing pics of our visit with friends or family this trip. But I will tell you that, it was awesome to be with them again. Like I explain to my boys. You know Branden how you have a very best friend Genki, since yochien. or you Noah, how your best friend was Hikaru-kun in yochien and now you have about 5 besties at shogakko/elementary school. And how special those friendships are to you. well, mommy had her own version of a Genki and Hikaru too. Except their names are S and K and A. :  ) And the boys know, my besties. They see me skype them. These girls, well ladies are part of my heart. : ) And will be forever. They do read this very blog and comment to me via email. But yeah....we still find ways to share or lives. And it was nice to get together for 1 whole morning, we got there pretty early. And 1 more time before we left too. Around 11am, we left my best friends house and Noboru and the boys and I went to Kohl's and TJMaxx
Noboru bought me some very pretty earrings from here. I picked them out, they are one of my Christmas presents this year.

Noboru bought me a really pretty Ralph Lauren black cardigan with the pink pony on it. 

I snapped this pic while I was in the dressing room at TJMaxx trying on the RL cardi and a pair of 7 for all mankind skinny cords. These were a super skinny fit and made my butt look so good! However, Noboru said, are they gray or are they black? @.@ I said,  "ummm sorta in between, I guess, but it's okay because I look amazing in these." And I do mean...freaking amazing in these. Now wait, before you throw a tomato at me, if you are a girl you will totally understand, and "get this" 100%, because when you find a pair of jeans or pants that make you look freaking fantastic, buy them! Do not let anybody talk you out of them! Because not every pair of pants will do that, it's rare to find "the" pair. Well, as you can probably guess what already happened,  yep....the color of the cords were called into question and the color of the pants were Noboru's focal point, my focal point was more so on the fit and how good I felt wearing them, dykwim? : (  Gah!!!!! I didn't buy them, I said....I'll come back for them another time if I decided I must have them. Well, you know what.... there was no other time, I never got the second chance. gah!!!! This was my only 1 major thing I regret this trip. I should have said, "I love you darling but color be darned I have to get these pants because if I don't I'll kick myself for months for it." Can I just say...Gahh!!! One more time. : )  Oh and for what it's worth, in Japan a pair of 7's will cost about 18,000 yen -19,000 yen, even in America they are NOT cheap, but at TJMaxx, where they have name brand stuff for super cheap deals, theses were a steal at $29.99.  Grumble, grumble, grumble. . : (  Oh well, no sense in crying over spilled milk, I know, I know.... it's happened and logically speaking even if I hopped in a plane this second and went all the way back, odds are they're gone, there was only 1 pair in my size. : ( Drats! Bright side is lesson learned, you see it, you like it, price is right. I will not be talked out of them, next time. : )  So the silver lining here is, I will be wiser next time. : )

After hitting Kohl's and TJMaxx, we went to Target near FlatIron shopping mall and shopped around some (got a really pretty cosmetic box/bag at Target, a Christmas present) and also had lunch there. Pizza Hut personal pans for the boys and I and hot dogs for Noboru. And free refill Mountain Dew. 

We then went to Flat Iron mall, where we were for hours. We spent a good hour at Old Navy. I spent 10 minutes in Sephora, thanks to my list, I wasted zero time at all. And I hit the Mac counter at Nordies, bought 3 eye shadows, 1 new blush, 1 new lippie and 1 powder foundation of what I usually use. The majority of the makeup, I use is Mac. But I do use other brands too. : ) We also bought a Family Guy calendar for 2014. And that's it, I think. Oh yeah Noboru bought a Wii game at Game Stop.

These were right at the front of the Old Navy store, army green/olive green, ykwim, anyway they're called the Rockstar and are a super skinny fit and cargo pockets. I loved these when I saw them, tried them on in the dressing room and Noboru bought these for me. Love these pants! They are so form fitting and look really nice on.  After we left the mall, we were exhausted. We had a full day,  visiting my besties. Shopping at Kohl's, TjMaxx, Target, Flat Irons. We were so totally done. We were hungry so we went to our old fave pasta place we used to go to. 

We had Italian salads, the dressing is so good here.

Handmade pasta and huge handmade ravioli they make here. We had a nice leisurely dinner. We had gotten so many things scratched off our lists. Visited with family (day before) and also with friends. Got the handful of things we needed for Thanksgiving bought already. We started to feel shopping was for the most part done. Minus the Christmas present Noboru was going to get me in a few days. But we were now just going to enjoy it a little more the next few days and take it all in. 

The next day for example we got a nice sleep in, we slept in until 7:30am our jet lag was long over. Our only plan this day was to go to the outlets, which only took 1 hour. Then we would go to the cemetery to pay respects to my grams. And we had planned a movie, we went to see Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2. So, again the first 2 days we were pretty busy, but the rest of our days were quiet. And enjoyed to the fullest. Ahh, I snapped this pic because the American flag we know, but the flag to the right is the Colorado state flag. It made me happy seeing this very often during our trip. : ) At the outlet, we went to the Gap Outlet, I got a pair of Gap boyfriend jeans, so cute. And 3 or 4 v neck long sleeve tops. Branden got 2 Gap long sleeve tops and Noah got 1. Oh right, there was an Old Navy store across the street and we popped in there for about 30 minutes, Noboru bought about 6 t shirts. And I got 2 blingy sweatshirts and 1 sweater and a pair of black leggings. We then went to the cemetery. 

The cemetery where the majority of my family is buried is so beautiful. Mountains in the distance, pine trees everywhere. Very quiet and peaceful. Gorgeous views.

So many geese walking around. 
I took many pictures of my grandma's area that came our crystally clear, but I think for my grams privacy, I will use the 1 blurry pic, but you get the idea, at least. : ) Noboru was paying his respects to my grams. She knew him and he, knew her, she thought he was the one. : ) And she was right. She used to tell me after we started dating, "you look so happy" and I would tell her, "I am so happy grandma". She has a very tall headstone, it's over half Noah's height and he's 8. : )  She was so loved and adored and cherished by all of us in our family. I miss her terribly. I still remember her phone number to this very day and she died 12 years ago.  I love and miss you grandma.  Anyway this is the end of part 1. I'll try super hard to get part 2 up, but as you know, Thanksgiving is this Thursday, we took the turkey out... to put in the fridge to start slowly defrosting this afternoon. And tomorrow, I will start making the homemade butter crusts for the pies from scratch. So, it's slow coming but I'm getting there and this helps me a lot by breaking this trip into parts, part 1, 2 and 3, so hopefully I can get it up faster now. : )