Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Visits from ‘Family’

One of the nice things about being in our hometown of Quincy over the holidays is that it is a gathering point for many of the folks we consider family as they come home for the holidays.



We were able to have a brief visit with Michaelena (Miki) and John while Trevor was here.  (I stole their picture off Facebook since I seem to be forgetting to get out the camera a lot lately!)

We don’t get to see Miki often since she has moved to KC for grad school but she is one of several of our sons’ friends who we consider extended family and love to see over the holidays.






Luke, our “#3 son’, and his lovely wife Lindsay were in town this year for Christmas and so we invited them to the house for brunch on Sunday.   Of course, since the Bears played at noon, the next 3 1/2 hours were spent lounging in front of the TV together watching the Bears win.  


Since Kyle and Jenni’s dog, Staley, was still in residence, Sox took refuge from the rambunctious pup on Luke’s lap. 


For some reason our darling little Sox, seems to, at times, have some real flatulence problems giving off an aroma worse than you might imagine for such a small little cutie.  Well she chose her lap time with Luke to let loose so he had Ken’s Sudoku book nearby to help fan away the repeated putrid outputs!!  We all got a good laugh from it and Luke was a real trooper continuing to let her cuddle on his lap despite the consequence to his air space!

On Monday I started battling a really nasty head cold during the night and couldn’t sleep, so I started on the ZICAM.  I dressed for the day but was moving pretty slow.  Because Ken’s sister, Ann, from Bloomington, IL, had found that her car had no breaks on Christmas Eve, she left the car with Ken and returned home with her sons and their families.  So, Ken had a adventure he needed me on -- a 4 mile drive taking the brakeless car  from our house to the mechanic.  I followed him in the jeep, while he drove at a snails paces and juggled  the gears and emergency break to deliver the vehicle for repair.  I brought him back home and found that even that little trip had me worn down, so I slept all afternoon instead of accomplishing our planned Christmas decoration teardown.  Ken woke me in time to meet our good friends, the Ellsworth family who were in from Atlanta, GA.

It’s a Frericks/Ellsworth tradition to meet whenever they are at town at Cassano’s, a local restaurant with a style of pizza they haven’t found back in Georgia.  Afterward, they come back to our house.  Since the Falcons were playing, of course, we were watching the game.  But, Ken decided to also introduce them to ‘Hand n Foot’. 


The result was a marathon 3-hour game.  The concensus was that the Ellsworth’s were now hooked on game and were planning on some family rematches when they got back home!   I think after a lot of tutoring from Ditka, Kenny (yes, Ken’s godson and namesake!), will be ready for the rematch!


It’s now Tuesday morning and we are one-day behind on our preparations for ‘snowbird lift-off’.    The Audi, now 5+ years old (and of course, now out of that wonderful Audi warranty) is showing signs of a gasket problem.  Ken wants it fixed before we leave in case Trev needs it  as a fallback  for his travels if the old Buick is fussy during bad weather.   We are dropping it off at the export mechanic today when we pick up Ann’s car so waiting for its return may be the new critical path to takeoff.

There seems to already be a full schedule of visitors at Hotel Frericks here at home while we are on the road and Ken has added some interesting new little security system features and technologies to keep the home nest safe during our upcoming travels. That means all of the visitors need to be apprised of quite a bit of  security procedures which is now one more addition to our pre-flight checklist. With all of this plus vigilant neighbors and pop-in relatives to keep an eye day and night, leaving the sticks n bricks is a little less worrisome.

The weather window is looking good for a Friday or Saturday takeoff ,

We leave you today with a picture taken from our kitchen window this morning.  While the winter scene is lovely, we will be glad to leave it for awhile!


Hugs, C

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Frericks Family-Home for the Holidays

Trevor had a 4-day weekend and so arrived home on the 23rd.  Unfortunately, since she works retail, Leah was not able to make it down to Quincy so Trev split his 4 days with the first two here in Quincy.







Ditka likes having Trev in the kitchen since he seems to ‘accidentally’ let some samples make their way down to furkid level.




Kyle and Jenni came in the evening of the 23rd since they have a friend have a graduation party.  I offered to play taxi service for the evening since I knew ‘tis the season for having sometimes a bit too much holiday cheer.  It turned out to be funny because I got the call to pick up Kyle and Jenni.  Then when I was halfway to Barney’s to pick them up, I got the call to pick Trev up at Barney’s.  They had been at the same place for 2 hours and not seen each other!  Well, it made for easy taxi service!




Jenni had no sympathy for Kyle regarding the prior night’s partying. The next morning, she enlisted him to help her in creating her contribution to the next party’s goodies before he’d even had a chance to hit the showers!






It’s always good to have the gang back around the breakfast table.




Jenny was a bit panicked when she realized I did not have a food processor for her to use to grind her cranberries for her covered dish for the Richmiller party.  I instead showed her how I ground cranberries using my Mom’s antique food grinder.   She used a Cranberry Relish recipe from my mother where I showed her that she could grind up all the key ingredients, cranberries, celery, nuts and an orange (including the rind) through this gadget.  The result was very tasty.  Grandma Costigan would have been proud!





My contribution was a double batch of my sweet potato casserole, one of Trev’s all-time favorites.



This is the first year we have not had the Frericks Christmas Eve party at our house for, I’m told, 8 years.  We were not sure how the winter was going to lay out and did not want to commit in case we decided to head South early.  As a result, Ken’s sister, Lois, and her daughter, Erin,  coordinated this year’s festivities which were held at the community room in the Quincy Mall.

We kick things off at 4pm with the ‘Switcheroo’ game.  Where you pick a gift, either from the unopened gifts, or take one away from someone who has already opened.  





Here, Ken’s mom, his sister, Mary, and Ken all seem pretty interested in the next gift being opened. 



It seems the gifts with alcohol-content always seem to move around the most!!


We all got some time to talk to cousin, Joe Gallaher, as well, as he called us from where he is currently stationed in Iraq.  We all passed the phone around the circle.  It was about 3 a.m. there so it was actually already Christmas Day for him.

We did not have a real big turn out this year.  It’s getting tougher each year as more of the great-grandkids have Christmas Eve activities and more and more have ‘the other side’ to balance when setting up their family holiday. 

We did 3 levels of family Christmas pictures….

Grandma with the grandkids…..


Grandma with the grandkids and the great grandkids!


Grandma and her kids, grandkids and great grandkids.


There was someone on CNN making a big deal of a woman who had 100 grandkids when you counted the great and great-great grandkids, so I decided to count for grandma Milly.  By my count she has, if you include those ‘on the way’, 30 grandkids and 40 great grandkids.  While the grandkid count is not going to change anymore, she could easily add on a lot more great grandkids since we know of two more on the way right now. 



After we’d played the game and eaten, the boys and Jenni decided to teach cousin James how to play ‘hand n foot’.  They used regular cards instead of skip-bo cards and it worked ok.


When we got back to the house we opened gifts since Trevor had to leave early the next morning to drive to Chicago.

Kyle models his new hat and scarf.  We got each of the couples a carved picture frame with their names carved in and a saying that we thought fit for them.

IMG_1610 IMG_1604 IMG_1603


I also got each couple a wooden recipe box with ‘Frericks Family Recipes’ carved on the top.  I’ve transferred about 50 of our favorite recipes to cards for them and will be using down time on our upcoming trip to continue doing that.  I’ve also transferred the recipes to a Google docs spreadsheet and developed a really cool database on my android to share the recipes so that they can have the info on their phone.  I really like the idea of having access to the list of ingredients for recipes when I’m at the store, especially when I come across a really good buy on something but can’t recall what all I need to include it in a favorite recipe.




I think one of my gifts for Ken was the biggest hit.  It’s a backscratcher with telescoping handle.  I got him one for the RV and one for the house.  He was quick to test it out!   He used one and hung the other on his pocket.






By 8am Christmas Day, Jenni and Kyle were off to the Richmillers for Christmas and Trevor was on the road to Chicago for Sobut Christmas.  Ken and I had a quiet day together at home with our only added company grandpuppy Staley who spent the time helping Ken with a 1000 piece puzzle while they watched football.


We hope that, like us,  all of you have had a wonderful Christmas full of friends and family, love and laughter!

Hugs, C

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Holiday Update #2 – The Cookie/Candy Tradition

For those who have been long-time followers of our blog, you know that one of my favorite Christmas traditions is making Christmas cookies and candy with my sister Kathleen’s family.

Below are all of Grandma Kathleen’s little helpers.


These are her youngest 7 grandchildren with 4 adult grandsons who have outgrown the cooking part of Christmas Candy day although they seem to all appear once it gets to be the ‘eating’ part of the day!


My niece, Sheila, supervised icing and decorating the Christmas-shaped sugar cookies.

Below, we added one more ‘sweet’ to the table, my god-daughter, Deanna’s newest addition, Abigail, now 6 months old, and making the most of getting her hands on those candied pretzel sticks.


This year even my nephew, Steve, got in on the act, trying to instruct his daughter, Stephanie and sister, Sheila, on the finer arts of toffee making—NOT!! Once again it took 5 batches of toffee before we had 2 batches that we judged worthy of keeping.


Below you can see the finished products, so many cookies and candies, that we couldn’t find enough space to put them all.


Another great day of holiday sharing with family! Kathleen is very blessed to have all of her children and grand children living in Quincy. I’m hoping that Jenni and Leah, though out-of-town, might get to make the trip to join in on this holiday project next year.

Hugs, C

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holiday Update #1 – Our Weekend in Chicago

The furkids are nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of T-Bones dance through their heads.


No, we haven’t dropped off the face of the Earth, but Ken and I have, like Ditka and Sox here, settled in to some quiet comfy winter-time here and somehow the blog got left behind.

So I’ll do a few summary updates here….


In early December, we had a wonderful long weekend in Chicago, visiting Trevor’s other family, the Sobut’s.  Amy Sobut has a beautiful home in Palos Park.



During the weekend we made a visit to the Science and Industry Museum

IMAG0037 Trevor, Ken and Leah studying the man-made tornado

 IMAG0035-1 Trevor and Leah at center of  World Christmas Tree exhibit

IMAG0039-1Ken and Leah studying an exhibit

We enjoyed several nice Chicago-based restaurants out in the suburbs including Portillo’s/Barnelli’s, Flat Top, and Bella Cafe which is operated by one of Amy Sobut’s good friends. 

Leah’s grandma treated us to the meal at the cafe and our visit with Grandma Sobut was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.  She is a tiny, feisty 94-year-old who still lives on her own, is an avid read (like the Wall Street Journal, that is) and is very interesting to talk to.  In size and intellect she reminded me of Hetty (Linda Hunt) on NCIS but I’m betting she was quite the little fox in her day as well! This is on tough tiny lady, having survived her husband and all 3 of her sons, all of whom passed in the last 10 years.

lindsay luke-1

We also got to spend time with our ‘#3 son’ Luke Henke, and his wife, Lindsay.  They live downtown in a little apartment in the Lincoln Park area. 

Leah and Trev drove us downtown to visit them and then we took them all out to dinner at a neighborhood pub, Wilde’s.  If I were going to have to live in the city, their’s is the kind of neighborhood I could enjoy.  Pretty much everything they can be found in small neighborhood shops in walking distance.  In fact, they both use public transit and don’t even own a car.  It is more like the lifestyle I saw in Europe than it is like living in smalltown Quincy.



On Sunday, Amy Sobut invited us all to kick back and watch football at her place.  She had a wonderful lasagna dinner topped off later in the evening with a variety of ice creams from the corner ice cream parlor, The Plush Horse.  Apparently King has a thing for their ice cream since he was really wanting Amy to share with him.

It was a really nice weekend and we’re homing that we’ll get to return the Sobut hospitality and have them join us for a weekend in Quincy. 

Hugs, C

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Autumn Weekends: Trev’s Transition

Trevor started his new job with McGladrey in Springfield, IL  on November 1 with two weeks of training in Chicago.  His apartment in Springfield was not yet available.  His Quincy Notre Dame high school team, where he was an assistant coach, was working their way through the state playoffs and were playing in Breese, IL the first weekend in November.  Their next round opponent played in Rochester, IL on Friday night of that weekend and the coaches were going to Rochester together to scout the team.  Somewhere along the line Trevor needed to get his vehicle which was still in Quincy since he took the train to Chicago.  Leah, still in school in Charleston, REALLY wanted to see Trev over the weekend since they don’t seem to be able to handle more than a few days apart!

Hmmm…Trev needed to be in a lot of places in Illinois over one weekend.  We decided to help him out with some of this logistics by bringing his car from Quincy as far as Kyle’s house in Carlinville since that would be on his way in between Rochester and Breese.    At the same time, Ken really wanted to  go to the Breese game and had major hitch-itch so he drove the RV down to Beaver Dam State Park on Thursday for a long weekend. I followed the next day in Trev’s car so I could get keep my Thursday hair appointment back here in Quincy.  It turned out to be a good plan since Beaver Dam gave us a central location to spend some time with Kyle and Jenni, some time with Trevor and Leah, and still a little time to enjoy the beautiful autumn outdoors.

Site 40 Beaver Dam State P

Ken settled in to site 40 with 50 amp service, since it was suppose to get below freezing and this allowed him to run both of our electric heaters.

Ken really enjoyed having some quiet time on his own and did lots of walking with the dogs through the woods and around the lake. (Reminder: mouse over pictures for captions).

Bridge along trail - Beaver Dam State Park Swamp - Beaver Dam State Park  Early morning fishing and breakfast at the lake Grandpa, Son, and Grandsons enjoying autumn weekend breakfast and fishing at the lake 

We took Kyle and Jenni to Ryan’s Pub for dinner on Friday evening.  That same eveing, Trev took the train in to Springfield where Leah picked him up and helped him pick out a winter coat for work before they joined the coaches at the Rochester game.  Leah then headed back to Charleston since she had friends with Senior Day ladies sports celebrations on Saturday.  Trev made it as far as Carlinville late that evening and then sacked out with Kyle and Jenni at their house.

Saturday morning, Trev picked Ken and I up at the rig and we drove to Breese for the football game.  QND played well and won by a couple of touchdowns.  I forgot our camera and so got to use my EVO android phone for the first time to take pictures.  As you see below from the next 6 photos, I think it does quite a good job.

Coach Connell passing out game balls after victory over Breese Kyle and Coach Day - QND defensive line coaches

We were all three very hungry after the game and so decided to try out a little restaurant we’d spotted in the small town of Lebanon.  The place is called ‘Uncle Huffy’s Barbeque’.  We were REALLY impressed.  As their slogan says…’Ain’t no que like you Uncle Huffy do!’ I had ribs, Trev had the pulled pork and Ken had the day’s special of a spiced vinegar smoked ham that was something Uncle Huffy said he was trying for the first time.  It was all awesome, especially the sauce.  Uncle Huffy retired his pipefitter job a few years back to follow his true passion of cooking—we think it was a good move!

 Uncle Huffy BBQ - Lebanon, IL


Ken and Trev talking to 'Uncle Huffy'

Kyle and Jenni had overnight guests from Quincy on Saturday and we joined them them on Sunday for a picnic lunch on their patio on Sunday. 

 Sunday lunch on the patio- Ryan Craven, Ken, Donna and Danny Richmiller, Jenni and Kyle, Carol and Shannon Donley

Inside the house is becoming more and more homey as Jenni’s decorating touches can be found all around.  My sister, Kathleen, hand embroidered kitchen towels for each day of the week for a shower gift for Jenni.  Each is a different scene with a dog that she made sure to embroider black like Staley.  Jenni had the Sunday towel on display in the kitchen that day along with lots of hints of autumn decorations all about.

 Aunt Kathleen's 'Sunday' towel decorating Kyle and Jenni's kitchen









Ken and I headed back to Quincy during the middle of the week in preparation for Trevor’s move the next weekend.

Uncle Buddy Kurk was kind enough to let Trevor borrow his trailer so Ken brought it in to the garage mid-week and we began to load up odds and ends.  Trevor drove in from Chicago and Leah from Charleston on Friday evening and we began the loading.



Trev and Ken organizing Trev's stuff on Buddy's trailer

Saturday, the QND team played Rochester at home so we spent that afternoon in the cold autumn winds, watching QND battle hard but lose in the end.

We finished off the packing late afternoon.

Between all the packing and the afternoon braving hours in the cold, Leah was zonked out by supper time!  We were all feeling the same way and called it an early evening.

Leah zonked out with Trev's 'Little Leah' teddy  after pack up day

The next day was a caravan to Springfield.  Ken drove the jeep with the trailer.  I drove Trev’s car.  Trev drove Leah’s bug.  It was pretty windy so we had to take it slow and stop halfway so Ken and Trev could tighten the tarps.  They had done a really good job of arranging everything so it was a pretty uneventful trip with nothing damaged along the way.

We arrived at the apartments about 12:30.  Trev signed his lease and got his keys to Lake Pointe Apartments, #72.  I had not had the opportunity to actually see the apartments before and was very pleased with his choice.  The locations is great, in a new and growing section of Springfield.  The apartment is set up quite well for a single guy, having free high speed internet, its owner washer/dryer, dishwasher, disposal, microwave all included, with lots of closet and cabinet space. Everything looks brand new.  The facilities are a good fit too with parking right outside his private entrance, a 24 hour fitness facility and very nice outdoor pool.


By 3:30 we had everything unpacked and were on our way to Walmart to pick up a few miscellaneous items like a shower curtain and some hooks for hanging pictures.

By 5pm, we had the pictures hung, the bed made,  and left Leah and Trev to cook their first meal in Trev’s new home.

I forgot to get an actual picture of the front of Trev’s apartment, but you can see that if you are interested at the website link above.  I did get some shots of the rooms before we started moving in.

Trev's Lake Pointe apartment - bedroom 

 Looking in to Trev's Lake Pointe apartment living room from front door Trev's Lake Pointe apartment - kitchen Trev's Lake Pointe Apartment - bathroom Trev's Lake Pointe apartment - bedroom

We are now back home and this feels like we’ve just made a move to a new phase of ‘empty nesting’.  When the boys were at college, we figured there would be time when they would come back home for awhile.  But now, with this move, both seem to have transitioned to the next phase of their lives.  I found myself particularly maudlin when I came home because it really does feel like its just Ken and me in this big house now.  

So, to keep myself out of the doldrums, I’ve immediately started trip planning.  Next will be a long visit to visit Leah’s family and our #3 son, Luke and his wife, Lindsay in Chicago.  I’ve made hotel reservations since there is no place close to park the RV and its kind of risky to head north this time of year. 

It’s also time I started laying out a general plan for our first snowbird trip since we intend to hit the road asap after the holidays and Mother Nature allows.

Hugs, C