Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A new day, a new adventure. Sunday morning we got out (some sooner than others) and toured around Aix-en-Provence before we had to pack up and get out of the hotel (noon ckout). We had a nice brunch of huge omlettes, fake hamburgers (max will explain) and then headed back out to head to Valbonne and the Laffargue's. It rained on us some as we drove to Cannes and followed Emmanuelle's recommendation to get near Valbonne and call as we would never find their house. We did and she came down, found us and led us back to their house. There house was beautiful and so were they! We had a little family huddle with drinks and appetizers before we mounted up (boys in one car, girls in the other) and drove via windy roads down to Antibes for a shoreline hike. And it was neat! We then proceeded over to Cannes to the famous beach lined avenue (where the Cannes film festival is) for dinner.

Monday we had a great morning around the house- after a great "french" breakfast, the kids hit the pool, the adults (minus Jon-Michel, who had to work) hit the small villlage of Biot. After yet great french lunch we bid adieu and headed west to St. Margharita Italy- near Genova for the night. We had a whale of time finding Hotel Europa. We did find a Hotel Europa but this one was a 4 star one in apparently the wrong town. We finally found it, had dinner and went to bed.

Tuesday we drove on into Florence, with a stop on the way in at Pisa- to see the leaning tower, and tour the baptistry and cathedral. It's simply amazing that we found it without maps and or direction signs- we just kind "felt" our way there. Let's see- find the town, find the old part of town, look up! We had lunch and toured and shopped before heading on to Florence.

Our hotel in Florence was right in the middle of old town- right in front of the Duomo cathedral. That is great for a location, tough for finding it and driving a car to it. We did pretty well after I decided to cave in and activate a data plan (with GPS) on my IPhone. That did make it considerably easier.

Today Wed. we hit the famous Uffizzi museum early at 8am because it is typically sold out and has humongous lines if you don't have rsvns. We didn't. We got into the museum on the second shift of walk-ins however and according to the kids, they have now had a lifetime supply of midevil art and sculpture. We also walked over the Pointe Vehicco to the Petti Palce- the home of the famous DeMedici family. They thought the palace reminded them of our house- NOT. Had lunch and kind of took it easy this afternoon- some shopping, gelato slurping, etc.

More later.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


After many years of thinking about taking the kids to Europe, it was finally time to, as Nike preaches- Just Do It! We thought seriously of doing this last summer- even to the point of getting the kid's passports- just never committed by picking dates and buying tickets. As my dad use to say about our many family summer vacations- there's never the right time or enough money- you just have to go. With him passing at age 61, I'm sure glad he lived that theory and didn't put travel off till retirement! (Not that I suspecting that that will happen to me!)

Anyway, after buying tickets and a lot of Alice's hard work and extensive research we boarded the plane to Barcelona on Monday June 14th. Our flight was long but ok. We stopped for a layover in Philidelphia before continuing on US Air to Barc or BCN as it's known in shorthand. It was an 8 hour flight from Phili but with time zone changes we arrived at 8:30AM their time- 1:30AM body time of June 15th. I think most of us dozed on the flight after 2 movies but we were still in a daze at landing. We got through baggage and customs and found our way to the rail station to catch the metro. Alice found us a furnished apartment in the Badal district of Barcelona on the internet and we found it despite BCN's address system- not like ours! Badal was a little away from the central tourist area but metro accessible. It was three bedroom, kitchen, living room- a full apartment and quite nice. We settled in.

We really hadn't planned much activity our first day- knowing that we would all be tired and sleep deprived so we all napped for a while to recharge the batteries. After waking up, Alice and I went and walked the neighborhood to check out the environ and bought some fruit and bread, etc. to have something to snack on. We headed out in the PM to the Las Ramblas- the big pedestrian avenue in the main part of the city, which was amazing! It was fully packed, beautiful, lots of street performers and hundreds of shops, pricey hotels, etc. We stopped in one of the outdoor square's restaurants and had a meal of tapas- the traditional spanish series of small meals- this one consisting of shrimp, meatballs, sausages, seafood salad, greek salad and some add'l items we are not even sure what they were. After dinner we worked our way down to the end of the Ramblas- the port. By 10:15 we were pretty shot so caught the metro home to crash.

While the apartment was great, we were certainly not ready for sleeping in the city. Even though our building had exterior sound and light shutters, it was LOUD! Both from traffic and interior- other)apmt sounds. No one slept well the first night, which I'm sure was also due to jet lag/naps. Most of us had our Ipods plugged in or read to try to doze off but it didn't help. Of course everyone was exhausted by Tuesday we were a little slow out of the gate- probably close to noonish. Our first stop was the Sagrada Familia, the Gaudi designed cathedral featured in all Barc references. It is something. What's most ironic to me is that they haven't had a religious service in the place in hundreds of years- it's been underconstruction now since 1884. And the construction was hot and heavy when we were there. I think they expect completion in 2033. Talk about not Just Doing It! We then walked down to Gaudi stop #2 (there's lots of them in BCN). Gaudi designed an apartment complex for a rich industrialist (his main sponsor) and his friends called the Casa Mila. It was just as bizarre as his other creations. The tour consisted of his wild rooftop terrace and a typical apartment occupying the entire 6th floor- set up as it would have been in his day- the teens-20's. We walked (alot of walking!) on back down to the Ramblas for lunch so we could also watch the Spain/Switzerland world cup match with the Spainards (they are known to flood the Ramblas after a victory). Instead we ended up in the back room of this restaurant with a bunch of Swiss fans, which was good because Spain lost- ha. Alice wanted to see the beaches so we walked down to the beaches then after the mandatory daily gelatio we headed back to the apmt. Everyone still very tired.

I really thought by the third night here we would have this sleeping down but some still had problems. So even though we went to bed at 9PMish, I was shocked to be the first one up at 10AM. I went on over to the bakery and picked up breakfast (or more likely- lunch) and was able to check my email with their wifi. BUT I also found out at this time that our electrical converter was not working for the laptop so I ran out of battery pretty quickly and couldn't recharge it. Oh no! So much for our planned use of the computer. Everyone was finally up and moving at the break of noon and we headed out to the Montijuc area to check out the 1992 Olympic site, the art museum (no interest except Al & I) and various other attractions in the area. It was kind of ironic that they were having a Harley Davidson show at the nearby convention building. Unfortunately because we got such a late start on the day, we made it to our next stop- the beautiful music hall about 15 min's after the last tour so we didn't get a chance to see it. Maybe on our way back through BCN before we leave? We had dinner locally then headed up to Parc Guell- the last Gaudi design stop- where Gaudi and his industrialist bought a mountain and decided to decorate it up. It frankly was a little disappointing to me for the hype given in the brochures. Alice wanted to go back to Montjuic where they had a music/fountain water show (kind of mini version of the Bellagio's) It was ok- very short.

Friday was our transitional day as we leave Barcelona on to our next destination. Everyone actually got up early due to necessity and I went over and got our rental car, we checked out of the apartment, survived driving through BCN to get on A7 motorway towards Avignon France. We did have one "culture" stop at the Pont du Gard- the famous roman three story aquaduct outside of Avignon. It was huge, which proves that pictures in books cannot replicate "being there". We headed on into Avignon and like in the old days- headed to the tourist info office at the train station to get a room (since we could book on the non-working computer). Since were tired of city night noise and had a car we chose a rural hotel the Hotel du Parc near Entraigues- a small town outside Avignon. This place was an adventure! It didn't help that we got totally lost trying to find it (because of my mis-turn) but once we got there we kind of cracked up. What a classic french hotel! We'll have to tell you in person what this place was like- or better yet- have the kids tell you. We had a french feast at their restaurant that night even though we had no idea what we were ordering (we had a little french and staff had no english either) The kids were disappointed that their room didnt have pope chairs like ours did!

Saturday, we were slow out of the chute again (see kind of a trend here?) and stopped at McD's (ok, a concession) for breakfast. It was unlike any traditional McD however. Called Quick, they only served "french-like" breakfast items- pastries, expresso, etc. Alice commented she's yet to find a good glass of cold skin milk. We headed into Avignon and toured the papal palace. Seven popes in the entire 14th century decided that France would be a better place to host christianity then the political turmoil in Italy at the time so they moved to Avignon where they built this complex. The tour was ok but the topic was somewhat depressing as all they talked about was the wealth collected by the popes and how they withered away the money on themselves (have things changed?) Avignon, in general is a neat town and I would like to spend more time here sometime but not today. After touring we headed via country roads down to Arles, a roman settlement where we toured the roman remains- a collesium, ampitheatre, and other remains before heading down to St. Marie du le mer- a small coastal village recommended by the Laffargues- french friends of the Lehoczky's. We got there and checked the place out. When we went to book a room, we discovered that none existed. It is apparently a very popular weekend escape destination for the french and showing up Saturday afternoon w/o a rsvn wasn't a good idea. The village was actually alot more commercial than I anticipated- reminding me of Destin.

So, we rolled with the punches and decided to go on to another city- Aix-en-Provence, an unplanned stop but what the hay? We got lost getting into the city (another reoccuring trend) before seeing a Best Western, where we stopped for directions and possibly a room. They were full but sent us over to an extended stay type hotel the Adagio which is where we are. We discovered last night that Aix is really cool-sophisicated and full of energy as we wandered the streets last night. No one here stays home on Saturday night was our conclusion.

Today we head on over to the Laffargues near Valbonne for the night. We look forward to it.

More later.

I will add pics to this later when I find time.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Purdue Drop Off Trip

Thursday Aug 18: As my email to family stated earlier this week , the somewhat dreaded moment had arrived. We left Thursday the 12th to take Sam to Purdue. We left JC late afternoon so we only drove to St. Louis for the night & on into West Lafayette Friday morning. Got to town about 1:30 and after eating started working on our list of things to do. Sam is going to try to establish residency in Indiana (to eventually qualify for in-state tuition) so we stopped by the Motor Vehicle dept to transfer his drivers license. Getting his license didn't work out however because I had accidently mis-typed his name as San instead of Sam on his insurance card and they wouldn't accept it as legit. Grrrr- Government! Sorry, but that's pretty darn picky! We also found out that he had to take a 50 question test, which was never disclosed to us when we called earlier last week. Being one who never wants to fail a tests, Sam said he would at least like to review the book before taking the test. Anyway, we temporarily gave up on that and went to a nearby Old Nat’l Bank (Chris's bank) branch office and opened a checking account & ordered a credit card. We then explored around campus and West Lafayette & per the hotel receptionist's recommendation had pizza at Arni's Pizza. (We were told this was the best pizza in Indiana & it was good but we don't think it probably is) Alice then insisted we get back to the hotel for the debut of Monk's new season- of course!

Saturday we were up and at’m and heading for Earhart (yes- Amelia's) dorm at 8:00- Sam's check-in time slot. We were one of the first ones to move in because we had lots and lots of volunteer help hauling his stuff 3.5 stories up to Rm 409. We started unpacking, making the bed, & getting the room set up. By 10:30 it was pretty well put together & we were starved so we walked over to Union to get some breakfast. Then, as all parents w/students do- we headed to WalMart. By the packed nature of our car, I thought we pretty much brought everything he needed but $200+ later, I guessed we didn't. I labelled it as Sam’s Xmas-in-August event. (Lately he's seemed to have a lot of Xmas's!) We had to stop at the bookstore also to buy Purdue tshirts for everyone. With the frig and all of his dorm storage slots all filled up, I thought we were done. Nope another stop at Target for more! Alice & I attended the parent orientation session on campus at 3 then we hung out on campus & at dorm until we went to dinner at Lafayette Brewery downtown at six. Sam had some activities in PM so we headed back to the hotel.

Sunday we headed back out to campus to exercise and then back to the hotel to shower. Sam was understandably not interested in showering with all the chaos at the dorm. (Lots of parents were checking out the restrooms during move-in) His roommate- Greg Self arrived and moved his stuff into the room while we were cleaning up. Greg is also an Engineering Honors student from near Charlottesville VA. He & his mom flew out so he only brought a couple suitcases of clothes & personal items with the intent to buy everything else he needed here. Sam got a hold of Greg & he & his mom joined us for lunch at Triple XXX - this legendary hole-in-the-wall restaurant near the Purdue campus. (It's name sounds like a strip club!) It's a pretty unique place- there are no chairs and tables- just bar stools & counters & it had good and cheap food. They have been featured on "food network" & are famous for their homemade root beer, peanut butter topped hamburgers, & other signature items.

We dropped Sam back at the dorm then Alice and I took off for Indy to see our college friends- the Porters. We had a great evening at Porters with great food and great company and didn't get back to Lafayette until 11:30PM. It couldn’t have been a nicer visit.

By Monday I finally realized why Alice wanted 4 days to drop Sam off at school. If we hung around long enough, we would become bored & tired of one another and Sam would be truely ready for us to leave & that was just about the case! At 7:30AM we dropped by the dorm, said good-bye and headed out on our 10 hour return trip. It went ok w/us arriving home at 5PM to our remaining (& abandoned-for-4-days) children.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Colorado 09

Wednesday the 22nd of July we left for a little break out in Colorado. The drive out was pretty normal except we got caught in a massive micro-burst storm in Goodland, which was kind of bizarre. We decided to bring Annie along for this trip- a first for her and this caused a couple extra stops along the way- but Alice's bladder was full each time anyway. Who would have guessed that Annie & Alice's bladder were comparable? We left JC at about 4PM so it was midnight when we got to the condo. We unloaded and naturally crashed.

Thursday; I thought, due to the late arrival that everyone would sleep in but was surprised when everyone was up around 9ish. I never sleep well the first night in the mountains but surprisingly I slept pretty well although it was hot in the room even with our window open. We headed out for a hike about 10:30 and hiked for about 1:30 hrs up the trailhead above our condo. Needless to say, none of us had yet adjusted to the altitude so I felt especially winded as we climbed up the mountain. I mentioned to Alice numerous times that I really didn’t want to have my heart attack on day 1. nor burn myself out going too long or hard the first day. At one point we climbed down this massive vertical face and all I could think about was climbing back up it on the way home. Alice commented that she should have brought cheese to go with our whining but finally relented and we turned around. The climb back up and out wasn't as bad as I thought it would be but I'm pretty sure I maxed out my pulse rate more than once. At one point Max took a break and sat on a log and apparently his cell phone fell out of his pocket. Luckily he realized it not too much later and was able to go back and find it. That would be his #2 lost phone in Colorado as he lost his phone while at a CO. church camp earlier in the summer. We all survived, cleaned up and went for lunch in Frisco at Alice’s new favorite Mexican place- Hacienda Real. We did some shopping on the way home and then vegged, swam, tennised, etc. back at the condo.

Friday our day began again with a 2 hour walk on a different trail up to a moutain Lilly Pond. I huffed and puffed as usual but other than the hard vertical climb at the beginning this trail was easier. Still manged to get the ole heart rate up there quite often & was breathing pretty hard.
Cleaned up and we headed over to Frisco to eat & rent bikes. Alice, Sam and Molly took off for Dillon- about a 6 mile ride and I hung with Max. Max has never really rode a bike- esp. for any distance so I was greatly concerned with how he would do. (Yes there is certainly some parental guilt here for the always-cheated 3rd born!) Despite a rough start with frequent stops and minor crashes, he did really well. The longer he went the more comfortable he got. We made multiple loops around Lake Dillon lakefront & it was pretty nice. Max thought that he deserved some treat after putting up with us biking so ice cream did the trick! Alice fixed dinner at the condo and we went down to the pool and watched a movie in PM.
Saturday we once again went for another hike on yet a different trail and although we intended to go for only a short walk, it didn’t quite work out that way. Every turn seemed to take us farther away from the condo. We finally figured out how to get back and 2 hours later made it. We intended to go "short" because we had to leave at 11AM to drive over to meet up with Alice's cousin- Lee in Nederland Co- near Boulder.

Our trip over to Nederland was fairly eventful because our IPhone directions wasn’t very accurate. We eventually made it there via Central City and Black Hawk and a very curvy Hwy 119. I can’t imagine traveling these roads in the wintertime with snow and ice -it was challeging enough on dry asphalt. Made it there and found Lee and had a nice balcony terrace lunch before Lee took us on the grandtour of the area. A massive storm hit us- including hail, heavy rain, etc. ut we managed to make it up to Gold Hill then down via the backroads to Boulder Canyon. It was well....interesting. We went through Ward CO., which is an abandoned mining town taken over by squatters. We stopped in another old mining town Gold Hill, which was the center of the 1859 gold rush. We stopped and went into the town’s general store, which looked like it had been there in 1859 and had ice cream and pie. It was a fun stop. Lee headed back to Boulder and we watched some mountain climbers in Boulder Canyon and stopped at some waterfalls before driving back to the condo.

The forecast we looked at before we headed out said that it would rain 5 of the 6 days we were going to be out there. Fortunately, rain the mountains is pretty spotty and up until this point, we had lucked out. Sunday however, it rained and rained and rained. We decided hiking would be miserable so went for brunch then shopping Nike, Coach, Timberland, Old Navy, Bass, Sports Authority, Adidas, Ralph Lauren, etc. Everyone got new tennis shoes and something else Max found a new favorite store- Zumiez, which had a lot of skater stuff (even though he really isn't a skater as such)

Monday we headed over to Breckenridge's Peak 8 amusement area where they have the alpine slides, bungee tramps, climbing walls, mazes, putt putt, etc. It's kinds of a ripoff, in my opinion, but the kids had fun so that's really all that matters. Alice had wanted to have a picnic all week (for some reason) so we stopped in Frisco by a lake for a picnic then back to the condo. It started raining as soon as we got back to the condo and continued on & off after that. Met up for dinner with the Schoenrocks from JC who were out at their place that weekend. We ate at an Italian restaurant in downtown Frisco Tuscato's. It was very good and we had a good time.

Tuesday, we left about 9:45CT and got home about 6PM. Nice, uneventful return trip home. Our 2005 Honda van did turn over 100,000 miles at Ks mile marker 44 on this trip. That averages about 22,222 mi's per year. Ouch! Alice wants the van to last a couple more years but not sure, at this pace, that it will.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Good Day y'all!
Time for another dreaded're thinking...already? Hope that all is well with you and yours!

We recently saw a fantastic show at the JC middle school by a international musical group called Barrage. If you ever have a chance to see them, do so...they are terrific. Barrage is a professional group consisting of 5 violinists, a bass, guitar and drums who play a variety of types of music. They came to our JC Middle School as part of their musical outreach program- doing an afternoon workshop for JC's string program (now over 100 students) and then performing that night. We found out about them from someone who had seen them perform at McCain auditorium and they told us not to miss it. They were right- they were terrific.

The weekend of the 24th Molly and Alice went back up to KC for the KC Coed gym tournament. This is a huge meet- probably about 600 competitors from 5 states. Molly's session was Saturday night- 5-8:30PM. She did well winning the all-around with 1st in bars and floor, 2nd in the beam and vault. Her trophy was a bobble-head gymnist- a little different & pretty funny looking. We've seen her head do that a few times (bobble) so it's fitting.

Last Monday the high school hosted their annual Academic banquet. I think it's great that academic achievement gets some spotlight. There were 279 out of the 1600 students at the high school with a 3.5 or better gpa and probably 800 in total attendence at the gym. Sam and Molly both made it across the stage without tripping this year. We were so proud of their walking skills.... (& their grades too!)

Last week was my Small & Rural agent ins convention. I've always wondered how this convention does so well- It's in the dead of winter, requiring travel in sub degree weather, ice & snow; it's held at a tiny, semi-ancient (circa 1970) Holiday Inn in Salina, and over 1000 agents, company & exhibitor folks show up. What's with that? The association is still not quite sure why this event is such a hit every year but they sure aren't about to change anything. I think it does well because nothing else is going on in late January, it's centrally located in the state; it's heavy on educational classes (so lots more agency employees are there) and it's cheap. It is also proof that people attract people and it is probably the only opportunity during the year to see fellow agents and company folks. One big ole party.

This last Saturday I drove down with Mom to Blackwell OK to pick up her new car. It's a 2006 Buick Lucerne, previously owned by her brother (who never keeps a car longer than 2 years or so - if that long). Her Lexus is a 2001 with 82K miles so it's getting older; the Buick has front wheel drive = better driving on ice and snow; has more room for her and her friends; can be worked on locally instead of having to take it to KC or Wichita & suspect that parts are cheaper and easier to get. But it's fairly clear that mom still loves her little Lexus, so think she's having a couple second thoughts about it. The Buick fits in her garage but it's pretty snug. I'll give it a little time- maybe it's just adjusting to change. In the meantime some of her grandsons are all pretty interested in her Lexus!

We watched the Superbowl last night. Wanted the Cards to win but frankly didn't really care that much who won. Was glad that it turned out to be a pretty good game as the first half looked pretty lopsided.

Sam and Max are getting ready for tennis season. Both are taking group lessons over at indoor courts (Cottonwood) in Manh. Molly is in the thick of gym season and will be gearing up for track season in the near future. The K-State pole vaulting team works out at Molly's gym so Alice talked to the K-State coach the other night to see if she could get some help. He said he couldn't do anything because she could be a recruit (we all kind of laughed at that one) but he thought that some of the student athletes might be able & willing to help her. We're certainly not thinking this as a college career - we just want her to be successful, in her own mind, at it.

I start another non-paying job tomorrow...(unfortunately I seem to be really good at getting these..I think it's call sucker!) KAIA asked me to be their rep on the Ins Commissioners Producer Advisory Board. The PAB consists of agents, company and department staff to discuss legislative, consumer and other statewide insurance related issues. In other words alot of hot air w/ probably nothing ever decided. (ha) We'll see.

More later

Thursday, January 22, 2009

January 22, 2009

Hey All,
Happy Anniversary today to the Wheats! No 58 today, I believe. I think their good daughter (Alice) went over and took them to lunch today. (Just kidding Mary!)

Thanks to Mary, Jay & Lucy for putting up with us last weekend. (Unfortunately John was in China) The JC Chamber retreat was at the Sheraton in Overland Park Fri & Sat so we finally had a chance to make our long-overdue trip to KC for the weekend. The kids were out of school both Friday (teacher inservice day) and Monday (MLK Day) but we still had to take two cars as my mtg Friday started at 8:30AM. (What kind of local loonies start a out-of-town meeting at 8:30am?) The possibilities of getting three teenagers out of bed at 6:00AM on an off day is also pretty low. Unfortunately a freak snow storm hit KC that morning so it took me almost 3 hours to get there. KC was the worse part of it, taking me 45 minutes to go the last 8 miles on I435 from I70 to Metcalf. It does remind me that maybe I don't miss living in the big city that much afterall. (Of course the Houstonites and Los Angelians could really school me on what real traffic is all about!)

Friday night we had a chance to get together with DeJesus's (former housemate), Jacobsons and Hoffmans (k-state sigs) for pizza & beer at Jose's new house. It was fun to catch up and amusing to see all the kids hang out together. (2 seniors, 1 jr, 2 sophs & max) Saturday after my morning session was over the Lehoczky's and we went out and played a couple games of laser tag, which was very entertaining. I admit that some days we would like to shoot our kids (& vice versa) so this worked out well. I will certainly remember next time to wear darker clothing as the combat area is black-lighted and I just happened to be wearing a white shirt that day. I think my opponents could see my "glow" coming before I even made it around the corner. After a nice dinner at Calif Pizza Kitchen Saturday night we headed home.

Sunday, we attended the open house & dedication for the $34M new addition to the Geary Community Hospital. Artist rendering & info at I think pretty much everyone in town was there. We couldn't even get into the room where they were doing the program and heard that tours afterwards would take 1.5 hrs (no thanks), so we decided to just venture through it on our own only. We ended up getting dragged into a small group of folks led around by our head surgeon Dr. Bollman. I'm pretty sure we saw & heard far more than the official tour groups were presented in a much shorter time. Pretty nice digs, not that I want to be there anytime soon. (or ever)

Molly's gym competition started earlier this month with a meet in Wichita. She ended up getting 4th out of the 15 girls at her level/age bracket which, considering her lack of gym prep time, is pretty remarkable. She & Alice (& maybe me?) head back to KC this weekend for the KC Coed, which is the only coed meet of the year & huge.

JC Middle School this week was the base of an article in the NY Times. I guess this NY reporter is just going across the country writing stories as he goes. He apparently stopped in JC for gas/food and asked the waitress if any of our schools had a diverse ethnic population that he could use to write an article on the inauguration and diversity and the waitress replied "In JC you could pick any of our schools and get diversity!". Here's the link:

Can't believe that it's 66 degrees here today. Of course, true to Kansas form it's suppose to be 20 tomorrow.

I had a Marysville Mutual board mtg & Millennium Bank's shareholder/board mtgs yesterday. (You can tell how much I got accomplished at work....nothing!) Marysville has had a really tough 2008 with a double whammy of the worst claims year on record and about a $1.6M hit on investment portfolio. Needless to say it was a tough year and a long meeting. There's frankly not a whole lot one can do about Kansas storms (including the Chapman/Manh tornado this year) nor the financial markets so we are holding steady. By state statute we are only allowed up to have up to 25% of our invmt portfolio in equities, & we thought we were being conservative at having only 10% in equities and yet, we still had this loss. Most of it was in highly regarded, highly diversified mutual funds. But in reality it's a paper loss & we'll just wait for the market to return. We did have one triple A rated bond go bad on us- Lehman Bros. (who would have guessed that that's the only invmt firm the govmt let go bankrupt!)

Millennium Bank is still doing well. With the slowdown in the overall economy we've seen the slowdown at the bank. We are still ahead of schedule and are profitable on a cash flow basis. We are definitely not part of the national "banking" problem as we have zero bad loans and are still looking for borrowers- loaning money to the deserving. I guess MB received the ultimate in confidence boost when mom changed her checking & savings over to the bank. Whew...only took me 2 years to convince her. ha

The kids are having Wii withdrawal as their Wii drive crashed a couple weeks ago. It's been mailed in for repair. It's probably just wore out...kind of like me...

Gotta get back to work.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Happy New Year to All!
I believe we survived Xmas and New Years but not quite sure yet. A few casualties!

Sunday the 21st, we had a traditional xmas brunch with mom at Peking's chinese buffet (ok, so it's not so traditional- maybe in China!) before she got on the big plane and flew to Gail's. We were all stuffed with our favorite dishes and everything would have been perfect if I didn't get a fortune cookie that said "If only you had practiced!".

The Lehoczky's arrived Monday night and we continued our traditional pre-Xmas eating trend- mexican at La Fiesta. Eating at this place truely brought us closer together because they always seat 11 of us at a table suitable for 8. We were one tight-knit family. Hopefully it will be the last time I share a salsa bowl with Max while sitting on his lap (& vice versa) Oh well, it was fun. I am certainly glad that Alice and Mary didn't order the 32oz margaritas again this time.....

Wednesday we did the traditional (are you seeing a trend here?) decorating of the Xmas cookies. Molly, Lucy and Alice did the baking and everyone did their Picasso best design work. Needless to say some of the cookies were very abstract in nature. Alice was doing her best to promote the heavy use of red hots but there were very few takers. We went to Xmas service Wed night and Molly was one of the wisepersons (wise men in non-PC verbage) complete with beard and all. Needless to say we had to remind the boys (w/ heavy threats) to watch what they said to her regarding her whiskers.

Xmas morning was a little more relaxed than in the past because we have 3 teenagers who prefer to sleep in more than opening presents. NOT.. Actually Sam & Max did have to wait around for sleeping beauty to open her eyes despite Max's constant lobbying to wake her up, throw a cat in her room, etc. Everyone came over for Xmas dinner, which was very good followed by opening presents, a late afternoon walk for some/nap for others and eventually dessert (about dinner time). There was a heated apples-to-apples game which followed and Baboc is still trying to figure out what criteria Max used to make his selections. (Hint Baboc, there is no criteria!) I think everyone slept well Xmas night.

Friday we gathered at the Meadowlark video center to all watch Mama Mia, which Mary had received for Xmas. The kids all took the backrow lounge chairs and tolerated the movie and Aunt Alice singing and trying to dance along with the movie. Following lunch the kids all headed to Molly's gym. They had given her a key so she could work out over the weekend when they were closed so they had the whole place to themselves.

Saturday we let the dust settle some- did some work etc then ran up to Topeka to quickly spend some Xmas money. (It burns hotter in some pockets more than others!)
Sunday Kent, Lynn and Diana brought mom home from her flight into KC and we all had some tortilla soup and visited. Monday they went to go see the JCHS Band's final practice before they left for the Cotton Bowl parade and game. We all went out to eat Monday night.

Tuesday, Sam and Molly left the house at 4:30AM to head down and load up the buses headed for Dallas. They stopped in Oklahoma City at the Murrah Bldg Memorial and performed a concert there during noon hour then headed south. They had a boatload of activities including the band competition (they won!), the parade, & the game's half time show as well as a NYE party at South Fork, a trip to a video amusement place, a Renaissance eating place, etc. Needless to say that when they arrived home Sunday at 1:45AM, they were tired.

Likewise, Alice Max and I loaded up the van and headed west to Colorado Tuesday to ski a couple of days & bring in the new year. The young folks down our hall, we determined, did enough partying for all of us NY Eve. NY Eve day
was sunny & warm & the snow was good & it was a little cooler and cloudy on Thursday but fun & good exercise none-the less. Max tolerated being an only child for once.

So this weekend has been pretty much been a "collapse" weekend. At dinner time Saturday 2 of the 3 kids were still in their pajamas. We did manage to get the tree and interior xmas decorations down Sunday and will wait for a warmer day to arrive to tackle the outdoor ones.

More later