Travels with Bentley

Travels with Bentley
Bentley - our Heartland Bighorn

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Friday-Sunday, December 29-31, 2017 Getting Ready, Family Christmas and Happy New Year!

Friday, December 29, 2017

A good part of today was getting ready for our immediate family Christmas tomorrow at my daughter Misti's.  I spent the morning taking care of things I needed to get done at home.  I am trying to finish some last minute paperwork that we want to store in our safe deposit box, so I spent a few hours this morning getting that completed so I won't have to worry about it next week.  

I needed to stop at the bank to get cash to put in Christmas cards for our kids and their spouses, at the courthouse to pick up some copy paper boxes from sister Crystal (great for hauling and packing things, large gift boxes, etc.)  I'll make good use of them tomorrow for several things.

I also needed to call to check on my prescriptions at the Cherokee Health Center.  All of my prescriptions have been mailed to our mail service in Pittsburg, except one and they are still waiting on it to be signed off on so they can process it.  They suggested I call back after lunch to see if it will be ready today.  (Note:  Guess what, I forgot to call them back with everything else going on this afternoon - so it will have to wait until Tuesday.)

I had a gift I wanted to deliver to a friend of mine.  You might remember Betsy gave me a gift after we stopped at the mall awhile back and I wanted to reciprocate plus I found a great little cross made with debris from the Joplin tornado that I thought she would really like.  After lunch Dean and I drove to Chetopa for a short visit with her.  She is having a small sitting room added on to her house, and we peeked out the back door to see how it was coming along.  Unfortunately, we couldn't stay too long as I needed to get back to Oswego by 2:30.

Since Misti has offered to have our family holidays at her house I wanted to go back and help get some things done at her house in preparation for tomorrow.  Haleigh, her daughter/my granddaughter watches my cousin's grandson, Isaiah during the day.  While I was waiting on a few clothes to dry, Isaiah and I played two games of Uno - he beat me both times!!  Haleigh's dad picked her up around 4:30, so I took Isaiah home with me until Misti got off work.  

Once home, I made hard boiled eggs in my Instapot that I will use for my potato salad, and boiled my potatoes.  Tomorrow morning I'll assemble the eggs, potatoes and remaining items.  I'm also making calico beans, so tonight I browned the hamburger and bacon and will finish those in the morning as well.

We decided to order a pizza for dinner.  We were both tired.  It was a long, busy day for both of us and we still have another big project to finish yet tonight.  Dean was getting ready to leave to pickup the pizza, when Misti arrived to pick up Isaiah.   After enjoying our pizza, we gathered up a sack of prizes I had purchased earlier today at Dollar General and all of the cash I had been saving in my purse, as well as some loose coins we had thrown in a small container in the bedroom.  Then we spent the next couple of hours making two plastic wrap balls that we will use as our "game" with the grandkids and the adult kids.  We made a smaller one for the grandkids (12 and under), and a much larger one for the 13 and over bunch.  We did this last year but found the adults get a little wild.  We thought it would work better if the younger ones could unravel a plastic wrap ball of their own.

By the time we were finished with all of that, all we could think of was falling into bed and getting some rest.  

Saturday, December 30, 2017

I was up at 4:30 this morning.  As soon as the coffeepot was turned on, I started gathering all of the ingredients for finishing the potato salad and the calico beans.  I made two apple pies at Thanksgiving and I froze one of them, so it went into the convection oven as soon as it reached the appropriate temperature.  Once the salad and beans were assembled, I set down to drink my coffee, and read a few emails and blogs.  

I couldn't doddle too much with all I still had to do this morning, so after doing all of the dishes, I showered, dressed, fixed my hair and then headed to Misti's with the food I made.  After dropping everything off, I headed to Parsons.  My first stop was at Walmart to pick up a cookie cake for our grandson Roman's 7th birthday.  His birthday party is scheduled for Jan 6, and since we will not be here I wanted to surprise him today with the cake and his present.  His birthday was December 28.

My next stop was to pick up my grandkids, Kamron and Jaxson in Parsons, my son Marc and wife Jen's children.  Marc and Jen left this morning for a short weekend trip to Las Vegas with friends and the kids will spend the day with us.  I ordered a smoked meat tray from Timbercreek Meats in Parsons for the main course of our meal today.  It include pulled pork, sausage links, smoked chicken and ribs.  One final stop before leaving town was at Walgreen's to pick up a gift card.  

We made it back to Misti's shortly before 10.  The meat went in the oven right away on low heat to warm it up.  Shortly before noon everyone had arrived except our granddaughter Dacy, who had to work today, but she will join us as soon as she gets off work.  Misti made a green bean casserole, DIL Renae provided pecan and key lime pies, an assortment of cookies and two kids of candies, homemade rolls and bread and some deviled eggs.  We  definitely had plenty to eat.

We decided to go ahead and open gifts before lunch since our youngest son Jarred, wife Andrea and daughter Emerson need to leave by 1:45 to head back to Wichita.  The kids all had a great time and were pleased with the gifts they received.  I failed to take any pictures.

I think everyone was ready to eat when we finished so we got right to it.  Everything was so delicious!  Of course we all pieced off and on the rest of the afternoon, too!

As soon as we got all of the wrapping paper picked up, we moved right into the games.  Kids first with the plastic wrap ball.  If you have not played the game, this is what we did.  We started with the main prize in the very center of the ball, and then wrapped plastic wrap around it, and every 4 or 5 times we wrapped around it again, we added another gift.  Gifts included pens, money (bills and coins), candy bars, small bags of candy, light up balls, tic-tacs, toothbrush, lotion, etc.  While the first person is trying to unwrap the ball, the person next to them begins to roll two dice.  As soon as they roll a double the first person has to stop unwrapping the ball and pass it to the person who was rolling the dice.  The dice moves to the next person, and when they roll a double the next person has to stop unwrapping and so on until the wrap is completely unwrapped.  They had a fun time and everyone won something.

Then it was the adults turn - and let me tell you, they get a little wild.  Lots and lots of laughs.  To make it a little more fun, and maybe a little more difficult, they must put on a pair of gloves before they begin unwrapping the ball - sometimes they never get a chance to even start unwrapping the ball because someone has already rolled doubles before or by the time they get the gloves on their hands, and on and on it went until DIL Casey finished unraveling the plastic wrap to win the Grand Prize of $30.  

Jarred and family had to leave shortly afterwards.  Shortly after they left, I asked Brett if his phone had enough battery left to Facetime with our son Matt and his family who live in New York.  He did and in no time we were connected and there they were.  Smartphones can be a great thing to have!  Matt's son Josh had a huge brightly colored, swirled lollipop that was as big as his face.  When he put it up to his mouth to lick it - we could not see his face.  We asked where he got it and he told us at Crackle Bear.  We sure had fun talking to him and his sister Sarah.  

Another great Christmas is in the Peine/Blair family books!  Even though we were tired, it was worth it all to watch the kids having so much fun, and hearing all of the laughter they shared with each other.  Everyone seemed to have a really great time.  I know Dean and I did.  Renae and I helped Misti get things cleaned up in the kitchen and the food put away.  Heath and Brett's families stayed for awhile to visit and Dean and I left about 5:30 to take Kamron and Jaxson back to Parsons.  We returned home a little after 7:00.  Needless to say we were both bushed and were glad to head home to Bentley for some much needed rest.

Sunday, December 31, 2017 - Happy New Year!

I was awake at 4:30 this morning and I woke up itching.  I still have this crazy rash.  It seems to get better in the day and then flares up again at night.  I took a couple of Benadryl and turned the coffeepot on.  I also had to refill my weekly rx container to make sure I had the correct dosage of prednisone for each day going forward.  

I enjoyed my coffee as I read a number of RV blogs from the past couple of days.  It seems I get almost caught up and then I don't have time to read them and they pile up on me again.a

After breakfast, we got ready for church.  Man, was it cold out side this morning.  Brrrrrr!  I'm not made for these cold, artic blasts.  It was a beautiful morning even if it was cold.  As always our pastor provided a wonderful sermon and we had some great music before we parted ways until next year!  

Misti needed to go to Joplin to pick up products for Project Prom at Sam's.  Their group will be manning the concession stand for Recreation Commission basketball beginning next weekend.  She wanted to know if I would like to go with her after church and I agreed.  We took my van and boy did we have the back end of it loaded down with drinks, candy, chips, paper products. etc.  We will be leaving our van here in Oswego, most likely with Misti while we are gone.  Since we have no plans for tomorrow, she took the van to her house and put it in the garage so we don't have to unload and reload it.  

Misti and I really got a workout while we were at Sam's.  The pop and water was quite heavy.  We had one of those large flat carts and it was piled high!  The Sam's in Joplin was recently redone and nothing is where you expect to find it so it was a bit of a scavenger hunt trying to find all the items on her list.  We were lucky enough to get a second workout when we moved everything from the cart into the van.

Since we did not eat before we left, we pulled into Wendy's as we were leaving Joplin.  We both ordered a spicy chicken sandwich, fries and a drink - the sandwich was very, very good.

When we returned to Oswego, Misti took our van home and placed it in her garage.  We'll deliver her car later this evening.  Dean was in the middle of the Chiefs/Broncos football game and wasn't ready to leave right then.  

Once the game was over, I found a few leftovers (ham and beans for me and leftover pizza for him) we could have for our dinner, and did a dandy clean-up job in the refrigerator.  Since Dean enjoyed a large bowl of popcorn before I got home, he wasn't too hungry.

We spent the rest of the evening watching TV and waiting to see if we could make it to 2018.  We haven't been awake at midnight on New Year's Eve for many years and I have a feeling tonight will be no different.

Dean and I would like to wish each of you a very Happy New Year.  Thanks so much for following along with our travels.  It's now 9:57 and at the rate of yawns I am dealing with I'd say I'll be asleep in less than an hour.  Goodnight all!

Friday, December 29, 2017

December 26-28, 2017 - Keeping Track of the Days, Shopping & MORE Medical

Tuesday, December 26, 2017 

Since we are no longer working I seldom look at a calendar, therefore I have a hard time keeping the days straight - I typically know the date, but not the day.  With Christmas being on Monday this year it has thrown me off even more, as it seems like it should have been on Saturday or Sunday to me.  A friend of Dean's once told him after retirement that is was like having "6 Saturdays and a Sunday" and that is how I feel.  The days kind of run into each other until Sunday arrives.  

Dean's had a "cold" the past several days and today I woke up feeling like maybe I was getting it.  My throat was scratchy, and my ears felt a little plugged, so I started taking an off-brand of DayQuill and NightQuill, hoping maybe I can get rid of it before it gets too bad.

Since there are a few things we are expecting to arrive in the mail, we decided to check it today.  I am expecting the prescriptions I left in Vinita, OK last week as well as our new drivers licenses.  We drove to Pittsburg -- there were no prescriptions, however our drivers licenses were there, along with quite a bit of other mail.  I called the Cherokee Health Center when we returned home.  My prescriptions had not been mailed yet as the doctor was off for a few days before Christmas and through today.  I think we will just drive to Vinita Friday to pick them up.  Since we are leaving on Monday, I'd like to make sure we have them.

By the way, we've had no more problems with any freezing of Bentley's pipes and we are keeping very warm and toasty here inside.  It sure is cold outside though.  As I check the temperatures in Texas, shortly after we arrive they should be back in the 70's.  I do look forward to those warmer temps!

I packed up my Christmas tree and a few other things to take to storage later this week, updated our budget spreadsheet with recent expenses and spent a good part of the day updating the blog through Christmas Day.  

Wednesday, December 27, 2018

Today I spent the day with my two 16 year old granddaughters shopping in Joplin, MO.  We have done this for the past 4-5 years now as part of their birthday present from Papa and Nana.   I felt really good this morning and my throat was not bothering me but I noticed I had a little bit of a rash on my thighs.  Hmmm....wonder what that is all about?

Dean had to go to Webb City, MO this morning as well.  After we left our new doctor's office last week, the nurse called Dean and said the doctor noticed a couple of other things on the blood test results we provided her (the test was taken a couple of weeks prior to our appointment).  She wanted him come in today for another blood test.  So we'll both be heading in that direction this morning.

Before I left town this morning I had to stop at our local title insurance company, Realty, Inc. to give my niece Nikki her birthday card.  Even though she's "a few years older now", I can still remember the day she was born like yesterday.  She was the first grandchild on our side of the family, so it was a very exciting moment.  I had only been working at the city office for two months.  I was so excited I could hardly stand it.  My boss, Rufus Monroe, finally said why don't you just go on over there (her mom was at the Columbus, KS hospital), and I didn't hesitate to leave.  I had barely walked in when they told us the baby was here.  I will never forget seeing her the first time....she was one of the prettiest babies I've ever blemishes, wrinkles or anything that you often see with a newborn.  She was the only grandchild in our family for over two years until my daughter Misti was born, and she never lacked for attention.  A very special girl who's grown into a very special "young" lady!  Love you Nikki!

Next stop was to pick up Haleigh and then on to Columbus to pick up Dacy.  Haleigh's birthday is October 30 and Dacy's is November 23.  We've had a hard time finding a date that would work for all of us and I'm so glad we finally worked it out.

We arrived in Joplin before the mall opened so the first stops were at Khol's and Target, but we failed to find anything.  By the time we made it to the mall and parked it still wasn't quite time for the stores to open, however there are a few side doors that lead directly into the mall, so we parked near one and headed inside.  Man, today is the coldest day since the first part of further than what we walked we could definitely feel it too!  Once inside, we did not have to go too far before we noticed one of the stores the girls wanted to visit was opening their doors and ....... the shopping began.

The mall opened at 10am and it was after 1pm when we left - by then the girls had spent most of their money, and fortunately they were able to find several great bargains.  They did a good job and we enjoyed ourselves.  Now for the best part of the day - OLIVE GARDEN!!!  This is a favorite for all three of us.  I asked the girls on the way there what they were going to have - like I didn't know - and  of course, it was the same thing they always order - Fettuccine  Alfredo with chicken.  

Our meals were wonderful.  Haleigh made a slight change and instead of chicken chose shrimp with her fettuccine.  I typically get soup and salad, but today I decided I'd have the Chicken Parmesan.  As usual, everything was delicious.  One of the things that Dacy likes to tell is how Nana always mixes the salad with the dressing better than anyone else does.  I want all that dressing on every piece of that salad when I take a bite!!

Haleigh and Dacy

We headed home after our wonderful lunch.  We dropped Dacy off, and Haleigh and I were back in Oswego around 3pm.  I didn't buy a thing today....there was a day that would never have happened, but when I think about buying something now, I have to think about do I have room for that in my new "house"?  I did seriously think about buying a plastic bowl at TJ Maxx.  I only brought two mixing bowls, a large plastic bowl, and a small glass bowl to Bentley.  Since then I've found out I really need an in between size and I've had to improvise a few times.  While I still have all of my kitchen items in storage - finding it is a different story.  It is something I'll probably end up buying but it must be a really good deal, and I would prefer a collapsible one.

When I returned to Bentley, Dean had a mess in the kitchen - but I was actually happy about that.  He had just finished installing our new kitchen faucet.  The original faucet that came with Bentley was loose and would swing around while driving.   No matter how many times Dean tightened it, it would work loose in just a few days.  I had suggested changing it before, and fortunately Dean finally decided enough was enough and agreed we should buy a new one a few weeks ago.  He thought today would be perfect time to install it, since I will be gone most of the day.  We had to install it "backwards" in order to make it work with the holes already cut in the counter top.  It will be a bit of an adjustment but I will get used to it.  Here's a picture:

The handle should be on the right, but as you can see we would have had a second hole in the countertop.  While it came with a piece that we could have used as a base under the faucet, it didn't quite cover the hole on the right.  Fortunately, it came with a soap dispenser and I really wanted to use it to keep the soap container off of the counter, so the only thing to do was put the faucet in with the handle on the left.  I'm already getting used to turning the water on with my left hand rather than the right.  Eventually it will be second nature ---  I hope!!  It is a HUGE improvement over the original one!

I mentioned to Dean that the back of my left knee was really itching, so I changed out of my jeans into a pair of light sweat pants.  WOW, the back of my knee was covered with a fiery,  red rash.  That's when I noticed how the rash on both of my thighs, my stomach and my arms had spread a lot from what I noticed before leaving this morning.  This happened one other time since I was diagnosed with sarcodosis.  I had started taking a medication for heartburn (a side effect of sarcodosis).  The doctor thought it was probably a yeast rash and had me quit taking the heart burn medication and to start taking Benadryl.  After a few days it cleared up, so that is what I started doing today.   By the time we went to bed the rash had not improved much even though I had taken Benadryl regularly throughout the day, and took more before going to bed.  Hopefully it will be better tomorrow.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The first thing I did when I got up this morning was check to see if the rash was any better.  It was about the same and was very itchy.  I continued to take the Benadryl but now that cold or sinus infection I felt was coming on earlier, seems to be worse.  With all of the medication I'm taking, I'm not sure what I need to take to get rid of these, so I made a call to our new doctor this morning about 9.  I had to leave a message, so I hope to hear back from her office soon.

Backing up a bit, I had a hair appointment this morning at 8 to get my hair trimmed.  I will miss Marla while we are gone, and do worry a little about finding someone in Texas that I will feel comfortable with.  Hopefully, the other ladies I know that will be wintering there will have some good suggestions.  

When I returned from my hair appointment, Dean told me the nurse from our new primary care physician's office had called with the results of his blood test.  Fortunately, they came back and everything is fine, so that was great news.  

Since I packed up the Christmas tree and a few other things, I told Dean I'd like to take those to the storage unit.  We have several other things that need to go as well and I'm ready to get them out of Bentley.  The couch has almost been entirely covered  and I'm tired of looking at all of it.  Wow, it sure looks roomy with all of it gone!

On our way to the storage unit I called the doctor's office again.  Evidently no one had checked the messages, as they were unaware of my earlier call.  They tried to catch Dr. Broce's nurse but she was with a patient, so they had me leave a message on her answering machine and we waited for her to call back.  She returned my call around 2pm, and told me I should go to Urgent Care to be seen, as they were booked full both today and tomorrow and would not be able to get me in.

So we headed to Webb City.  While I could have gone to Parsons, I decided since all of my doctors are in the Joplin area and associated with Freeman, I preferred going to the Freeman Urgent Care, as they would have access to my medical records. We arrived a little after 3 and it was nearly 6 before we left Urgent Care.  This is one time I was really glad to have a smartphone - it helped the time go by much faster.

A nurse finally came to get me and took me to a triage room.  We were fortunate a room became available before we left and we didn't have to return to the waiting room.  It wasn't too much longer that the doctor came in.  As he was looking at my chart, he asked me if Dr. Smith was my primary physician and I explained that she used to be, but we had recently moved to Dr. Broce because Dr. Smith had closed her practice.  Come to find out he used to work at Labette Health in Parsons, KS many years ago and knew her personally.  

He took a look at my rash and examined me to see if I had a sinus infection.  I shared with him that I had sarcoidosis and earlier this year I had also experienced a rash.  After asking me a number of questions, and taking a look at the rash, he thought the rash was directly related to the sarcoidosis and possibly due to the recent change in the dosage of prednisone, decreasing it from 15 mg to 12.5.  Again, another side effect of sarcoidosis - rashes.  He wants me to increase my prednisone back to 15 mgs for 2 weeks and then try reducing it again after I have finished the round of antibiotics he is giving me - as I do have a sinus infection.  I just started taking the reduced dosage of prednisone on Monday or Tuesday of this week, and that is when the rash started so it seems to make sense.  I hate to complain about this disease because I feel so blessed compared to other people I have read about, but these side effects could stop at any time. 

While we were in the waiting room I also worked on a list of things I needed from Walmart.  Since I needed to get the prescription filled this evening in order to get started on it right away I had them send the prescription to the Walmart that is practically next door.  We did our shopping first and while Dean was paying I went to the pharmacy to pick up my prescription.  The pharmacist explained the need to eat something before taking the RX as it can upset your stomach, and not to have any dairy products at least 3 hours before or after taking it.  

By now it was 7pm and we had not eaten since noon.  We were both hungry so we decided to try one of my dad's favorite places, Lotus Garden on West 7th in Joplin.  It was pretty good, although there was not as much variety as most Chinese restaurants do, but it was cheap at $6.50 per person.  It felt good to know we were finally headed home soon afterwards.  

We have now decided to wait until Wednesday, January 3rd to leave for Texas due to the below freezing temperatures in the forecast the next few days   I'm disappointed but on the flip side it gives us a few more days with family, and that is always good.  We plan to drive it in 3 days, breaking it up into 7-8 hour driving days.  This is not how we like to travel, but sometimes you just need to do it.  We plan to take at least a week getting back, when we return home the end of March.  We have a few stops we want to make along the way and do not want to be rushed.  That's what full-time means to us:  no rush!  Since we are committed to paying for three months at the resort where we will stay, we want to get there as early as possible.  We are leaving a little early on the tail end so we can spend some time in Wichita with our boys and their families.   We're not sure if we'll have a chance to see them again until we return from Matt's and our tour of the New England states, sometime in September.  

I can't believe how our calendar for April and May 2018 is already filling up - much of it is doctor appointment follow-ups before we head out again, and a few camping club rallies.  We are making it a point to leave several days open to get plenty of family time in while we are here too.  

Just three more days until we welcome in the New Year of 2018.  Dean and I have been retired for four years now and it has flown by.  We love it and we are at least as busy now as when we were working.  How we managed to get any personal things done before, I do not know.  We've had the best time though and I'm so thankful we enjoy being together and for the most part doing the same things.  I do think it's good we have hobbies where we also have time to spend with others.  Dean has sure enjoyed playing golf with a group of guys many mornings at our local golf course, and I have enjoyed my once a week time with a Bible Study group, lunch with good friends, writing this blog and reading many other RV blogs, as well as reading a few books.  

Tomorrow I'll be getting ready for Christmas with our kids and grand kids which will be at Misti's house on Saturday, Dec 30.  It may be a few days before I have a chance to get back with you.  Just in case it's after December 31 - I want to wish each of you a very Happy New Year!  Thank you so much for following along on our adventure.  I look forward to giving you more travel content of the places we see and the things we do, once we begin our route south and in the months to follow - on our full-time adventure in our Travels with Bentley!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

December 25, 2017 - Christmas Day & RV Problems

December 25, 2017 - Christmas Day & RV Problems

Dean and I did not exchange gifts this year - neither one of us could really decide on anything we wanted.  Possibly we'll come across something when we get to Texas.  I have posted several things to a Wish List on Amazon but after perusing it, there is nothing there that I had to have.  The things I'd really like to have are more expensive, so maybe we are better off to just work towards saving the money for things like new pull down day/night shades, slide-out covers, solar set-up/inverter, etc.  

Breakfast was so good yesterday I decided we should have it again this morning and we did a full repeat.  I bought some frozen biscuits yesterday while at the grocery store, since we didn't have any bread with our breakfast yesterday.  I pulled the package out of the freezer and realized we should have put those in the oven first, so back in the freezer they went.  Besides, it seems wasteful to use the oven for over 30 minutes for 2 biscuits while we are using so much propane daily to keep Bentley warm.  Later in the day, it occurred to me I could have used the convection oven for baking.  Sheesh!!

After breakfast, and completing our morning routine we headed to Parsons to see what Santa brought Kamron and Jaxson for Christmas.  As we turned into Marc and Jennifer's driveway, Kamron called me and said, "Dad wants to know where you are," and I replied "We are coming up your driveway now."  Good timing!

Jaxson was so excited to show us all of his gifts.  You might remember his fascination with the Statue of Liberty earlier this fall.  He received a small statue of it and a blanket with the statue on it. He "loved" them!  He was having a great time and his excitement was contagious.  Kamron loves to draw, paint and do crafts.  She received a number of pens, markers, books teaching how to draw different objects, etc. and she was thrilled with them.  Of course she received a number of other gifts as well.
Kamron in her new chair!
Jaxson playing with one of his new toys!

Kamron gave me some presents - she does this every year and it's so sweet that she thinks about me.  This year she gave me a beautiful ceramic snowflake coffee cup with lid, a bracelet for "A Mom", and a small angel holding snowflakes.  Later in the day after we returned home, I made some caramel hot chocolate in my new cup.  After taking a selfie, I sent a text to Kamron with the picture attached, telling her I loved her.  She responded - Love you too and nice photo with an emoji smiling real big with tears flowing form its eyes.  I can hear her laughter!!
Reminds me of Wilson on "Home Improvement" and better yet you can't see my chipmunk cheeks!!  Lol!
The coffee mug and bracelet Kamron gave me for Christmas.

Since my Fitbit broke several months ago, I no longer have a watch so when Dean asked me if we should think about going, I was shocked to hear him say it was almost 11.  We need to pick Haleigh up in Altamont at her dad's on our way home so she can have Christmas at Misti's.  I called Misti as we left to see if she was ready yet and she said, yes I sent you a text, however I had not received it.  (Misti's text came in on my phone tonight at 5:24 - glad it was not an emergency message.)  She said son Logan was on his way there now.  We said our goodbyes to Marc, Jen and the kids.

Haleigh was ready to get to Mom's for her second Christmas of the day!

We made it back to Misti's around 11:45.  Logan was already there and they were enjoying biscuits and sausage gravy with hashbrowns, and she offered us some as well.  Dean and I enjoyed another breakfast for our lunch.  Then it was time for pictures in front of the tree - a ritual for Misti and the kids, then she distributed their packages.  While maybe not as excited as Jaxson was, both of them were quite happy with their presents.

I even managed to get a smile from Logan!

Dean was wanting to get back to Bentley.  One thing I did not mention earlier is a problem he found this morning.  The waste water line is allowing water to pass through the shut-off valve and it was frozen when he checked it.  It is supposed to warm up enough it will most likely thaw but he wants to get something done to keep it from happening again tonight since it will be below freezing again and the temperatures tomorrow are expected to remain below freezing throughout the day.  Of course nothing is open, so that makes it more of a challenge to find what he needs to take care of this.  While at Marc's we asked him if he had any heat tape and it just so happened he did.  He told us he didn't want it and to keep it when we were done.  Once we were back at Bentley, I called my cousin Todd and owner of the RV Park we are in, to see if he had any insulation, so Dean can wrap it as well.  Again, we were very fortunate as he had some.  He wasn't in the park at the time, but when he returned awhile later Dean went to his shop and was able to get what he needed to protect the line.  What a blessing Marc and Todd were to us and we so appreciate their help!

Tonight we had taco salad with the leftover taco meat from earlier this week.  It tasted great and was so light after all of the heavy food we've had the past few days.  We are ready to get back to our regular eating habits but we still have one more Christmas dinner - December 30 when our kids will gather at Misti's.  

Saturday, December 23, 2017

December 18, 2017 to December 24, 2017 - Doctor Visits, Christmas Program, Shopping and More

Monday, December 18, 2017 - Dietitian Visit, Shopping, Christmas Program

This week is going to be a busy one, with several doctor visits scheduled, among other things on my list.  I'm a list maker - if I want to be sure it gets done, it goes on my list and I get great satisfaction when I mark it off.  Having this list is also great when I want to look back to see if and when I followed up on something, completed it, mailed it, made an important phone call, scheduled something, etc.  It's a great reference tool and I keep my notebooks for at least a year so I can look back if needed.

Last night was a very long one - I don't know if I ate too much yesterday or what but my stomach hurt all night.  I'm not sure I managed to sleep more than an hour.  At 3:30 I finally got up, just sure I was going to get really sick, but I never did.  As the day went on, it went away, so I assume it was from just too much rich food.

Often when I have just a few dishes from the night before I leave them until after breakfast the next morning and then do them all, and that is what I did this morning.  As I was putting things away I realized I did not have the serving spoons I took to the Community Center yesterday.  Once the dishes were done, the bed made and a few other to do's were completed, I drove to the community center and sure enough someone had put them away in one of the drawers after doing the dishes.  When I left there I returned the building keys to City Hall.  

Dean played golf this morning.  He is only playing 9 holes since he is going with me to Vinita later when I meet with a dietitian.  Since I didn't get much sleep he doesn't want me going by myself, and that is probably a good idea.   Riding lulls me to sleep pretty easy on a good day, let alone when I didn't have much sleep.

Since I had not seen my Aunt Lil for awhile, I stopped at her house for a short visit.  I enjoy spending time with her.  She will be hosting her three boys and their families at her house for Christmas.  She's been busy preparing for it - decorating, baking and planning activities.  I'm sure they will have a great time together.  Her boys are a hoot when they get together and I always enjoyed our family Christmas' together back when we were younger.  We had so much fun playing games with them.

After returning home, I kept busy with a little paperwork and soon Dean was pulling in.  We ate lunch and were soon on the road to Vinita.  I scheduled an appointment with a dietitian at the Cherokee Health Center in hope she could offer some suggestions for weight loss.  While I've dropped 20 pounds I would really like to lose another 30 pounds.  More importantly I'd like to maintain it.  Of course this time of year is probably the most difficult time to do this.  At this point, I will be happy to maintain my current weight through the holidays, but I definitely want to get back to losing again after the first of the year.  Walking has probably been the best thing we've done, but diet plays a big role as well.  I'm not sure we'll get much walking done, if any, this week since all of our doctor appointments are scheduled at 9, which requires us to leave home by 8.  Next week does not look good since they are calling for much cooler temperatures.  But we might manage to get a day or two in and that's better than none. 

We arrived a little early, found the dietitian's office and waited for her to call me back.  After she came to get me, she told me if I wanted to have Dean come back I could, that it's often helpful when a spouse hears what she has to say as well, so he joined us.  I was very happy when she weighed me - it was only a couple of pounds more from what I weighed a few days ago - I weigh once a week, and always first thing in the morning after I get up.  Today it was late at 2:00 pm, plus following that big dinner yesterday.  It's not unusual for me to weight 2-4# more later in the day, so either someone's scales are off a bit or today was a good day.  She had me weigh with my shoes off, and then she measured my actual height.  My height has always been stated as 5' 5", but today I discovered I am only 5' 4" with a precise measuring.  

I was expecting a discussion about types of foods to eat, ideas in preparing foods, etc. but it was much different.  Instead she explained these new rules for eating:
1.  When you are hungry - go eat; but always start by drinking a glass of water first - then wait 20 minutes.  If you are still hungry, then you should eat.
2.  Eat what you want, not what you think you should.  Eating what you think you should does not always satisfy you, so she suggests getting rid of the food just because they are supposedly good for you, and keep foods that you truly like and that will satisfy you.
3.  Eat consciously - which I think is the most important one of all!  Focus on only eating - no book, paper, television, radio, cell phone, etc.  Take a bite, put down your silverware, slowly chew each bite 20 or more times as you think about the flavor and all that you enjoy about the food.  Swallow.  Rest.  Now, are you still hungry?  If so, pick up your silverware and have the next bite.  If not - stop eating.  It's always okay to leave food on your plate.
4.  When you think you may be satisfied - STOP eating.  You will almost always eat less than what you are used to, because you are eating slowly and paying attention to each bite.  Your body will recognize when it has had enough.  

Dean and I talked about this concept of eating and see where it could make a big difference.  We are interested to see how it works out for us.

My daughter's high school class adopted a family this year and they are all either donating  money to purchase food, or buying presents (clothing and toys) for the children.  One of the presents that was purchased was a scooter for one of the children but it was too small for their age.  They didn't have time to send it back and order a new one so Misti asked me if I could check at Walmart to see if they might have one in stock as the presents are to be delivered tomorrow.  Walmart is right down the road from the Health Center and we needed something as well so I was glad to help out.  Fortunately, we found exactly what they needed and I was able to get a new ink cartridge for our printer.  

By the time we returned home we had an hour or so before dinner.  I don't remember what we had now but I remember we applied the new rules given to us by the Dietitian.  We were impressed how much of a difference it made and we believe this could be a real asset to both of us.  We are so often mindless eaters - watching TV or reading while we eat.  It will be a challenge to change this habit, but we feel it could prove to be the answer to only eating when we are truly hungry as well as eating less than what we think we need.  Time will tell.

Tonight is the Christmas program at the Oswego Junior High/High School.  My granddaughter Haleigh is a sophmore this year and participates in choir.  My sister Cindy's grandchildren Dani, freshman and Kass, seventh grade are both in band and choir.  Dani is a very talented singer and plays the trumpet; while Kass plays the saxophone.  All of the kids did a great job - with many solos performed!  

Oswego is very fortunate to have a wonderful music/band teacher.  Mr. Blackwell is retiring at the end of the 2018 school year.  I'm happy for him but what a loss for our school system.  The kids love him and he truly enjoys working with them.  The program tonight was really enjoyable, as they always are.  Dani has sang at a number of events in Oswego and the area.  She was selected to sing the National Anthem at a couple of Joplin Blaster baseball games when the minor league team played there...a few years ago.  She posts live videos of her singing on her Facebook page, and she's building a pretty good audience.

By the time we returned home we were ready to chill and that's exactly what we did - in front of the TV until it was time to go to bed.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

This morning we have appointments with our new primary care physician, Dr. Broce.  Her office is in Webb City, MO which is a little farther from home than our previous PCP who was in Parsons.  We decided that since we are going to be on the road a good part of the year but plan to return to the area in the spring and late fall each year; and that all of our specialty doctors are in Joplin and affiliated with Freeman Health Systems, we could try to schedule our appointments to see more than one doctor in a day or week when we are home.  Since we can take our home with us, we can choose to park near or in the Joplin area for whatever time is needed to attend these appointments in the future.  It's convenient to make the appointments 3-4 months out when you have a much better selection in order to get several scheduled within a few days.

We were both very pleased with our selection.  Dr. Broce was very easy to talk to, very attentive, and took the necessary time to cover everything in our medical history with us.  We did not feel rushed and manged to take care of several things.  Two of my medications had run out and she provided prescriptions for those as well as a prescription for medication to help with osteoporosis.  While I have not totally reached the stage of osteoporosis, I do have some thinning of the bone in my hip area that is most likely from taking the prednisone.  She suggested that I take it as a preventive until I no longer have to take the prednisone, and that we continue our walking as that is great for maintaining healthy bones.

When it was Dean's turn he asked if he could get a flu and pneumonia shot and they were able to give him both.  How life changes - as a kid you cry and scream to keep from getting a shot and as we get older we are begging for them.  The doctor renewed all of his medication as he just received his last refill, so now both of us are in good shape for the three months we will be in Texas.

I'm sure we were in her office for more than an hour, possibly a little longer and we were very satisfied with how well she covered things, gave us time to ask questions and then recapped what she would be doing for us.  It sure helps to ease our concern in losing our previous PCP when she recently closed her practice.  We really liked her and were fearful of not finding someone as good as she was.  Our fears were put to rest today!

We had a number of things to do when we left her office before an appointment we have at 1:30pm at Roper Honda to have the oil changed in the van.  Our first stop was at Coachlight RV Sales in Carthage.  When we camped at their RV Park, adjacent to their Sales and Service Shop, during November I found these picture frames that you can peel and stick many times in order to hold pictures on the walls of the RV.  I have wished since then I had purchased seven of them, as I have an idea for displaying 5 x 7 pictures of each of our kids and their families along with one of Dean and I on a wall in Bentley.  Unfortunately they only had 3 frames in the store but they will order more and mail them to me when they come in.  Dean had a couple of items he needed for Bentley as well.  Since Coachlight is not too far off I-44, we hopped on the Interstate with the intent of exiting on South Range Line near Steak and Shake, where we planned to have lunch.  However, we took the Route 44 exit which brought us into Joplin on 7th Street instead.  That was not a problem as we were able to take Duquesne Road south to 32nd Street, to Hammond Blvd that led us to our lunch location.  We decided to apply the dietitian's suggestion of eating what we liked but taking the time to really concentrate on our lunch.  We ordered a double cheese steakburger with fries, and an extra small order of fries for me, and water to drink.  We asked them to half the burger so we could share it.  Before they brought our meal we each had a full glass of water.  We enjoyed each bite of our meal and felt very satisfied with what we ate.  Normally Dean would have ate the entire sandwich and the fries and I would have had a large grilled chicken salad - much more than what we really needed.  Not only were we satisfied but our meal was less than $6.  If you remember I mentioned in the last blog post that we needed to look at reducing our grocery and restaurant budget.  If we continue to cut back on the size of our meals we could definitely manage to do that, an added bonus!

Our next stop was at Hobby Lobby to return something for my Aunt Lil, which took very little time.  From there, we drove to Roper Honda for our scheduled oil change, arriving a little early, but as usual they got us right in.  I think this is one of the most efficient places I've ever been to.  We've had our Odyssey van for 8.5 years and it has been the most reliable vehicle we've ever owned.  We bought it here and they have always serviced it.  I think I mentioned that we have been thinking of selling it.  We've been too busy to really get that done so we will wait until we return in April to make that decision.  In less than 30 minutes they were done.  Now we will head north to Pittsburg KS to pick up our mail.  It's been a week and I'm sure we have accumulated quite a bit.  

Yes, we had quite a stack waiting for us - about 1/3 of it was confirming address/phone number/bank changes and several insurance renewal policies (for vehicles and RV).  The one thing I do not miss is all of the junk mail that is typically noted: for resident at this address - I suppose it will eventually catch up with us as the new address becomes available through various sources, but we'll enjoy not having to deal with it until it does.

As we headed out of Pittsburg, I remembered I wanted to pick up a couple of gift cards but one of the places I wanted to stop, Chicken Mary's didn't open until 4:00.  

Click to enlarge and read the history of Chicken Mary's, Frontenac, KS

We had some time to kill so we stopped at the Pittsburg Mall.  I purchased one gift card while we were there and stopped in Penney's to look around.  I found a shirt I really liked and it was on sale so I purchased it.  We continued walking the full length of the mall and taking the time to just look around before turning around and walking back to the car.  At least we are getting some steps in.  We arrived at Chicken Mary's right at 4:00 and I think we were the first customers through the door.  Since we made the trip here, we decided we should just have dinner as well.  While we ate more than we should have, we did restrain ourselves and only ate half of what we ordered, and took the rest of it home with us for a second meal.  Tuesday happens to be Senior night and we received a 10% discount.  With it, we will be able to enjoy 4 meals between us for just over $5 each.  I love the savings.  It's now a challenge - how much can we save?  By the time we got home it was well after 6 pm.  A very busy, but another productive day.  

Wednesday, December 20, 2017 - More Doctor Visits, Shopping and another trip to Vinita.

Last night before going to bed I tried the shirt on that I purchased at Penney's yesterday and was so disappointed.  It just didn't fit well enough to keep so that will be another stop we will make while in Joplin today.   As we left town, we stopped at Aunt Lil's to drop off the money they refunded for the return I made for her yesterday.  As I left she handed me a little tin full of chocolate covered peanuts (Dean's favorite candy); and a really cute cross clip for our sun visor that says, "Dear Lord, protect me, my passengers and all I pass by with a steady hand and a wonderful eye."  What a nice surprise, it was so thoughtful and fitting with our travels!  And.....Dean was thrilled when he saw those chocolates!!  

My first appointment this morning is at 9:00 with my ophthalmologist.  My first visit with him was back in June when I started learning about all of the issues that can arise with a diagnosis of sarcoidosis.  Not only can sarcoidosis create eye problems, but also from taking prednisone.  At the June visit Dr. Jordan found my pressure was higher than normal, which he thought was probably a side effect of the medication.  He told me at that time, they want to see pressure at or below 20, and mine was 26.  He did not see anything unusual with my eyes to indicate there was a sarcoid problem.  Since I was on a dosage of 40 mg of prednisone at the time, he wanted to wait six months and then conduct a field vision test.  That's what I will be doing today.  

First they checked my eyes to see if there was any change from when my eyes were checked a couple of months ago.  As that time, I was starting to experience significant blurriness when reading.  The exam indicated I need to have the reading portion of my glasses changed.  Since my insurance only pays for one pair of glasses every two years, and since I can see pretty well to read without wearing my glasses, he suggested I wait until February to take advantage of the insurance benefits.  That's what I have been doing and it's working pretty well. 

There was no change in my vision today, so the next step was to dilate my eyes and wait for the medication to take effect.  Once the appropriate time was up, it was time for the field test.  They gave me a box similar to a remote control with only one button on it.  There was a dot in the middle of an entirely white area.  I was to stare at the dot and every time I see a flash of light, which was always outside of the spot in the middle, she asked me to press the button.  At times I felt like I couldn't keep up and other times it slowed down considerably but she said I did good so I was pleased with that.  A second test was to take pictures of my eye for the doctor to review.

Next I met with Dr. Jordan, the ophthalmologist.  He looked at my eyes with various equipment and asked me how I was doing.  He was pleased with the testing and also with the fact my pressure has dropped from 26 to 21 since my last visit.  While it was still slightly elevated (preference is for pressure to not be above 20) he felt it had probably dropped as my steroid dosage decreased and expected it would continue to do so.  The pictures they took of my eye earlier showed no problems.  I was pleased when he said he would not need to see me again for a year, unless I would experience any problems.  What a relief!  

I have another doctor appointment at 1:40, so we had time to run a few errands.  Our first stop was at Sam's.  Dean purchased his hearing aids there about a year ago.  One of the tubes that sets inside his ear, to keep the hearing aid in place, slips out occasionally.  The hearing specialist advised she would need to send it in for repairs and it would take about two weeks to get it back.  Dean didn't want to do that knowing if we missed it here we'd have to wait for the mail to be forwarded to Texas.  He mentioned we would be going to Texas to stay for a few months this winter.  She  suggested taking it to a Sam's Club there, plus the company is located in Texas so the turn around might be faster, and we can have it sent directly to the RV Resort where we will be staying versus going through our Pittsburg, KS address.

Our next stop was Walmart's.  I need to buy some Avery labels so I can make new travel cards.  As we meet different Rver's, we trade these cards to keep in touch with each other.  Our current cards include a picture of our truck with Bentley, our names, phone numbers and our email address.  I only have one card left so I'd like to print more before we go south.  They did not have any in stock, so we moved on to Penney's where I returned the shirt I bought last night while we were in Pittsburg.  I looked around for something else but I was just not in the mood to shop.  Since we needed to waste a little more time, we walked the entire length of the mall and back- which gave us some much needed exercise---we managed to get in over 5,000 steps today!  When we left the mall, we headed to Logan's for lunch.  Today we decided to share a club sandwich and fries.  It was perfect and we kept our bill under $10.  We've already saved at least $20 in dining out this week alone.

We still had an hour before my next doctor's appointment, so we stopped at Office Depot to check prices on business card stock.  Wow, Walmart was cheap -  it was over $30 for a package here.  I'll check Amazon later!  

We arrived at Dr. Slocum's office about 20 minutes early.  Fortunately for me, the person scheduled before me did not show up so I was able to get right in.  I was thrilled when he told me he was going to reduce my prednisone again, this time from 15 to 12.5 mg.  I feel great and reducing this just makes me feel better knowing some of the side effects will begin to ease as the strength of the steroid is reduced.  He wants me to follow up with another Pulmonary Function Test in April when we return.  He gave me a prescription for the new dosage of prednisone that will cover the time we are in Texas so we will have all of the medication we need taken care of until we return to Kansas in April.  I feel like a walking pharmacy though!! 

Well, you would think we might be done for the day and that now we can head back to Oswego, but no, we have one more stop.  We are headed back to Vinita to the Cherokee Health Center to drop off my prescriptions from Dr. Broce and Dr. Slocum.  We went straight to the pharmacy when we arrived.  Unfortunately they could not fill the prescription for the osteoporosis medication, so I will call Dr. Broce's office to see if there is another type I can take instead.  All of the other scripts they will fill and mail to me tomorrow.  Hopefully, they will ALL arrive before we leave for Texas.

Now we are finished and we can go home!  We were home before 5:00 p.m. and boy, were we tired.  Three days of this on the go, go, go all day long makes us a little weary.  And unfortunately it wasn't something we WANTED to do, so very little fun involved.

We were glad to be at home this evening and I was even glad to cook.  As much as I enjoy a meal out, I was glad to be home and glad to fix our dinner.  We kept it simple and had tacos - 2 each.  Back in the day when I made tacos it was nothing for us to eat 4, 5 or even 6 each, but we were both pretty satisfied with the two I made for us.  We enjoyed a Hallmark Christmas movie before heading to bed.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

I was up at 4 this morning and enjoyed my two leisurely cups of coffee before Dean got up.  Once we had breakfast we got ready and left Oswego at 7:45 for Joplin.   I was originally taking Dacy and Haleigh to Joplin today for their annual birthday shopping trip and lunch at Olive Garden, but I cancelled on them so I could go with Dean for another Dr. appointment.  Dr. Broce was able to get Dean into see a urologist this morning to follow up on some of his test results.  Fortunately, they determined all was well, so we feel like we've been set free to continue our "Travels with Bentley"!  Woo-hoo!

Believe it or not, we didn't hang around Joplin at all but headed straight home.  We were pretty worn out from all of the running we've done this week that we just pretty much lazed around the rest of the day.  

One of the things I did today was check Amazon to see what the prices of the Avery card stock "Business Cards" are.  Wow - they were less than $10 for 200 of course I ordered them right away, and they will be here next week in plenty of time for me to print new travel cards before we leave.

I still had some paperwork to do and I worked on that for awhile and managed to get most of it done.  A couple of things will need to wait until next week.

I needed something to keep me busy, so I decided to read a couple of Christmas novels I downloaded a few days ago.  I don't read books as much as I used to but I love a good Christmas book and in no time I was entrenched in the story.

Friday, December 22, 2017

This day must have been pretty boring because there is little I can remember about it.

I did ride to Parsons with sister Cindy and my Aunt Lil.  I went mostly to ride along and enjoy their company, however I did need a few things that I was able to get while we were there.  We had a nice visit as always.

Once we returned home, I put the few things I purchased away and then texted Dacy and Haleigh to reschedule our shopping trip for next week.  We decided on Wednesday, December 27.  Hopefully there will still be a few good buys left after after the big "day after Christmas" sales.  What we look forward to as much as the shopping is our lunch at Olive Garden.  It's a favorite for all three of us.

Most likely I spent the rest of the day reading my Christmas book.  I have a tendency to get lost when I read - probably why nothing much comes to mind about!

Tonight I made a sausage pizza, adding some pepperoni to my portion.  It tasted so good!  Afterwards we settled in for another Hallmark Christmas movie.  It is raining and snowing, and it will be our coldest night ever in Bentley.  It will be interesting to see how it goes.  Even though the movie was pretty good, I couldn't make it to the end.  Shortly before we went to bed it started raining again but I didn't hear it for very long....

Saturday, December 23, 2017

This morning we woke to a dusting of snow on everything.  I was afraid there would be quite a bit of ice after the rain we had.  It didn't appear there was much ice, if any, and by the time I left around 10:30 this was about all that was left - on the west side of Bentley where it was shaded.

After breakfast, I stripped the bed, put new sheets on, showered, changed out the towels, and loaded up the rest of the clothes and headed to my daughter's to do laundry.  I'm taking the laptop with me so I can complete the newsletter for our Escapees Chapter.  Once I had completed it I sent a copy to the officers to review before I send it out to all of the members tomorrow.  Just want to make sure I don't forget something important.  While it's really not that difficult to do, it's just busier that normal for us trying to get so much done before we leave. 

It was about 10:30 when I arrived at Misti's.  Even though I only have four loads of laundry, it sure extends the time when you can only do one load at at time.  Fortunately the RV Park we will be staying at in Mission has a laundromat on site - so every 10 days or so, laundry will only take me about 2 hours.  I like the sound of that!

Dean has had a bit of a cold the past couple of days - nothing serious - just not feeling as good as he would like.  He feels pretty good during the day and then starts feeling worse near bedtime.  He is pretty bored today and is tired of being inside and watching TV, worse yet, he doesn't have a project to work on, or a garage to go to so he's feeling the loss of his "man cave" this week. 

I left Misti's and stopped at the grocery store before heading home for lunch.  We have both been in the mood for ham and beans, one of our favorite meals, so we will be having that in the next few days.  Originally I planned to make this for dinner tonight, but by the time I finished I was just not in the mood.  It was almost 5:00 before I was back at home. 

Instead, we decided to have dinner at our local Mexican restaurant, Mi Pueblo.  We both like their La Prima - rice and chicken with cheese sauce over it.  We each ate half of our meal and brought the rest home for lunch tomorrow.  Some friends of ours (Jim and Diane Bentley) happened to be sitting across from us.  We enjoyed visiting with them.  Their oldest son and our youngest son went through school together and are still very good friends.  I went to grade school/junior high with Jim and Diane at Chetopa, Diane since Kindergarten and Jim joined us in junior high.  Jim is the brother of our RV dealer, hence the name Bentley!  It's always good to see them and visit.  

After a drive through the park to look at the Christmas decorations once more we headed home to watch TV.  Home Alone 2 happened to be on and we enjoyed watching it - well, most of it.  I fell asleep before it was over, as usual.  

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Here it is Christmas Eve!  Since we are not having Christmas with our kids until December 30th, and none of my sisters had plans for this evening we are all getting together at sister Cindy's house for appetizers and dessert.  My contribution will be spinach artichoke dip and a cheesecake, and I'll be working on those this morning.

After Dean made us a delicious breakfast of fried potatoes (I didn't have any hashbrowns), eggs and ham I cleaned up the kitchen so I could make another mess!  

My plan was to make my first cheesecake in my Instapot so I gathered all of the ingredients then pulled out the pans I had ordered several months ago and to my surprise they were not what I remembered.  I thought the bottom was removeable on one of the pans - similar to a springform pan - but rather than a removeable bottom  - it was actually a lid, so I moved to plan B and made a no bake cheesecake instead.  Fortunately I found a recipe that called for ingredients I had on hand, and some that I needed to use soon so it all in all this worked out for the best. 

Once the cheesecake was done and in the refrigerator, I made the spinach artichoke dip.  It's been a few years since I've made this and I'm looking forward to enjoying it later this evening.  Once I had cleaned the kitchen dishes up a second time I wanted to do a little cleaning.  I really wanted to vacuum, but Dean was watching the KC Chiefs game so I put that off.  Instead I wiped down all of the cabinets/furniture in the living/kitchen area, then swept the floors.  It needed to be done and it helped pass the time until about an hour before we needed to leave for Cindy and Elmer's.  That left me just enough time to change clothes, put on makeup and bake the spinach/artichoke dip.

We were to be at Cindy's by 5:30 and we were the first to pull in a minute or two later.  Crystal and Lonie were right behind us, and Jody and Mark pulled in shortly after that.  Cindy said she was beginning to wonder about us - she had all of her food out and ready.  I had to smile as we each put our dishes out, thinking, yeah, we were going to keep this simple, but there sure was a lot of food being laid out on the bar.  Of course, that also means I'll probably eat more than I need to...again.  Boy, this time of year is so hard when trying to lose weight.  I tried a little of everything and refrained from having any seconds, which was not easy as it was all so good.  The guys set at the dining table and the girls moved into the living room where both groups remained for the rest of the evening, visiting among ourselves.  Fortunately, Cindy and Elmer's kitchen/dining/living room is all open, so we were able to converse with the guy's, or they with us as we chose.  I think everyone had a good time and before we left we had to get pictures of each couple, the guys together and the gals together.  Here are the results:

I love the open living area Cindy has in her house.

Our guys:  Elmer, Mark, Dean and Lonie

Crystal and Lonie

Mark  & Jody

Dean & Cheri

Elmer & Cindy

Blackledge girls, in order of birth - Cheri, Cindy, Crystal and Carla Jo (Jody).