Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006 Christmas Memories

This Christmas, like all others, is filled with many memories. We went to Mame's (Dad's 92-year-old mother) on Christmas Eve, as is our tradition every year. Everyone was there, except Danielle who was at her boyfriend's. We had plenty of food and we played bingo, both traditions!

This is Mame with most of her great-grandchildren.

After Mame's, we went to Mom and Dad's for more food and to exchange our stockings.

Uncle Tommy and Matty listen to the musical Christmas story.

Matty and Benny are watching Curious George.

While we were at Mom and Dad's, Santa stopped by! Benny was so excited, Matty -- not so much. And Caleb knew Santa was Uncle Tommy.

Here's a video of when Santa arrived:

Here are the boys with Mom and Santa

Caleb's reaction to his new bicycle!

It was great to see the kids open their presents and be excited. Ben, Wendie, and the boys opened their presents at Mom and Dad's on Christmas Eve since they would be with Ben's family Christmas Day. Matty was excited about every gift he opened. It was too cute!

Mom made ham and turkey with all the fixin's for Christmas Dinner. It was delicious, as always. I left Mom and Dad's with the chills and aches so I went to bed when I got home. Fortunately, the flu didn't last long, but it made me tired. I had off work Monday - Wednesday, which was nice, but I didn't get anything done I wanted to because I was in the bed! I went to work for a couple of hours on Thursday and worked all day Friday.

I hope your Christmas was filled with many memories and that 2007 brings you much love, happiness, and joy!

I'm hosting New Year's Day dinner at my house - making the traditional pork and sauerkraut with dumplings and mashed potatoes.

Happy 2007!

Friday, December 22, 2006

My Christmas Letter 2006

December 21, 2006
Dear Family and Friends,

It’s hard to believe it’s Christmastime 2006 already! It seems like just yesterday that I was writing my 2005 Christmas letter!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to each of you!

Now for a family update:

Mom and Dad celebrated their 39th anniversary on December 15th! Tommy took them out to Red Lobster (Mom’s favorite place). It was a last minute kind of thing; Tommy called for me to join them, but I was at Andrew’s 8th birthday party, along with Caleb, and 15 other kids!

Dad turned 69 on December 16th! He's in good health and still enjoying retirement and his grandsons! He enjoys doing ‘stuff’ around the house and helping out Mom. He’s such a good man!

Mom's birthday is December 5th and she turned 62! We celebrated with dinner at Mom and Dad’s. I made barbeque, Wendie made a salad, Corie made the cake, and Tommy got the soda and ice cream. Mom loves spending time with her grandsons. She and Dad typically watch Benny and Matty for a few hours one or two days a week and Caleb likes to stay overnight whenever he can! If it's a school night, Dad takes him to school in the morning. She and Dad love and adore their grandsons and love spoiling them! Mom will retire in April after 20 years with Pennsylvanians for Right to Work. She came in the office to help us out on a volunteer basis. We hired her not long after – she’s good! She’s the detail-oriented, organized one!

We celebrated Corie's 38th birthday on November 15th at Mom and Dad's. Corie’s business ( is growing! I’m so pleased for her. She hopes to be able to buy a house soon! We’re looking forward to having her and Caleb with us this Christmas. Caleb is in 3rd grade and doing very well! He turned 9 on August 17th. He played baseball again this year and made his first double play! He caught a fly ball and got a runner out at second base! A very proud moment for Mom, Dad, Corie, and me – we were there to see it happen! He also hit a double earlier in the season! Caleb is an active Cub Scout and enjoys all the activities. Sometimes, Uncle Tommy participates with him.

Ben, Wendie, and the boys are doing well. Ben continues to work for I.B. Abel in York as an electrician and teaching an electrician's class two nights a week. He loves his wife and boys and it’s so evident! We are blessed to have him in our family. Wendie loves being home with the boys and enjoys selling items on eBay on occasion. Ben will be 38 on March 21st and Wendie will turn 37 on March 25th.

Benny turned 4 on July 23rd and is still quite the conversationalist. He can tell you about metamorphosis! He started Preschool in September and he loves it! He enjoys all the crafts. He's a sweet boy, and he loves Thomas the Tank. He’s asked for only one thing from Santa this year – a magnet Thomas the Tank. He got to actually ride Thomas this year! Wendie sent us the pictures through Snapfish, I ordered most of them, and made Benny his very own 7x7 album of his visit with Thomas! Wendie did all the journaling! Matty turned 2 on November 15th. He’s growing up too fast! I love it when I go to their house and both Benny and Matty run with their arms up for me to pick them up!

My "little" brother, Tom, turned 35 on December 18th! He's working for Wackenhut Security as a senior supervisor, having 16 years with the company. Our nephews adore him. Matty calls him “Hommy!”

I celebrated my 21-year anniversary at Pennsylvanians for Right to Work on May 2nd and celebrated by 41st birthday yesterday! How is that possible?! We celebrated Dad’s, Tommy’s, and my birthdays on December 16th at Mom and Dad’s. In March of this year, I signed on to become a Creative Memories Consultant, and I love it! I enjoy helping people preserve their memories and being able to attend conferences and meetings to learn new things.

I continue to be active at Country and Town Baptist Church, though I’m taking a break as Church Clerk and no longer post the Sunday School attendance. I'm chairman of the Missions Development Council and teach the Preschool II class on Sunday mornings with Cindy. I’m also taking a break from playing Bunko, though I am signed up as a substitute. I’ll rejoin the woman's small group in January that meets on Sunday nights. We’ll be studying the book of Daniel. I’m looking forward to participating, when my schedule permits, in the newly revived Women’s Ministry at church.

The Alvarez kids are growing up, too. Ashley is 16 (she’ll turn 17 in April), a junior, and has a steady boyfriend, Travis. She has a job at TJ Maxx. Andrew is 8 and in 2nd grade. He’s a Steelers fan and enjoys video games AND doing homework! Austin ,my little buddy (I was in the delivery room when he was born!), is 6 and a half and in 1st grade. He also enjoys video games and tormenting his older siblings! He had a really bad stomach flu this year and following a sonogram, found out he’s missing a right kidney. He’s the one who gets sick the most in the family, just recovering from another cold. Caleb, Andrew, and Austin had two sleepovers at my house this year. They love coming to my house, I think just to torment my cat, Penni! We always have fun together! On their most recent stay over, we played Monopoly! Scott returned safely from Kuwait in July and has settled back into his working and home routines. Vickie got her driver’s license right before Scott returned home! Now I can call her up and say “Do you want to meet at Starbucks?” or any other place! And she now has “wheels on her behind!” She is always out running errands or shopping! We still get together on Tuesday nights for dinner out or at her house.

That’s it for now. Let’s remember the Reason for the season and to keep Holy in the Holidays! I’m sure trying….and trying to not get frazzled! If things I want to do don’t get done, they don’t get done. Life goes on!


Luke 2:11 - Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.

(If you'd like the email version of my Christmas letter that includes pictures, send me an email ( and I'll be glad to send it to you.)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

It's my birthday!

I had a memorable day today! I've grown accustomed to my birthday not being remembered by too many since it's close to Christmas. If you have a close-to-Christmas birthday, I'm sure you can relate.
But for a 41st (hey, how did that happen?!) birthday, I have many memories from today!
My family celebrated my birthday on Saturday, along with my Dad's and brother's birthdays, so today I received phone calls from Mom and Dad and each of my siblings. Plus, I received several e-cards, Susan (boss) bought me lunch today (she does that a lot!), Jo sent in a gift, Amy and Carol each gave me a gift, Linda gave me a gift yesterday, as did Judi and Vickie and the kids. Plus, tonight, Patti and Kay took to me out to dinner at Cracker Barrel and they each gave me a gift, too!
My Mom was going to bring lunch in to the office - deviled roundsteak (my favorite!) - but she is sick. I hope she's well enough to go out to lunch tomorrow to celebrate Judith's retirement.
I believe I will end my birthday celebration by heading upstairs to do some reading, even though I haven't done Christmas cards yet! I haven't been able to do squeeze in much reading lately.
I'll turn 41 at 10:41 this evening!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Andrew is 8!

It's hard to believe, but Andrew turned 8 on December 12th. His party was held on the 15th at the Bowling Center on the Navy Base. Sixteen kids! You read that correctly - 16 kids! Most of them from Andrew's class. But they were good and only one minor bowling injury.

Andrew bowls.

I got Andrew a Steelers jersey. He's a Steelers fan!

Andrew makes a wish!

Uncle Gus holds the pinata and Andrew takes a swing with the soft bat! It took a while for it to break, but once it did, candy went everywhere!

It was a fun evening celebrating Andrew!

Birthday Celebrations

We have four birthdays in December, plus Mom and Dad's anniversary! On Saturday, we celebrated Dad's (16th), Tommy's (18th), and my (20th) birthdays at Mom and Dad's. We had tacos and 3 birthday cakes, made by Corie! Well, Tommy loves cheesecake, so she made a cherry cheesecake for him! The kids had fun with the train set under the tree and all of Mammy's animated Christmas decorations and ornaments.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Tommy makes a wish!

I make a wish!

Cousin Love! Matty and Caleb

A great picture of Uncle Tommy with Benny and Matty!

Dad opens a card.

Tommy has some help from Benny opening his presents.

Caleb took this picture of me opening a card.

It was a fun evening being together with family and celebrating all the birthdays!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Christmas Tour of Homes, Part 2

Continuing on with the Christmas Tour of Homes, we'll walk through the living/dining room to the kitchen.

My Christmas dishes are the Pfaltzgraff Winterberry pattern, which I use from December - February. I just love this pattern. I have a service for 8 and also have the silverware, glasses, tea towels, napkins, kitchen rugs, and oven mitt. Many of the pieces have been gifts over the years, for both Christmas and birthday, since my birthday is December 20th. The picture of the S&P shakers, creamer, sugar bowl, and tea mugs on the Winterberry ceramic tray is up close so they all look big!

My stove. I burned the back two Winterberry burner covers last year by turning on the wrong burners, and I haven't been able to find another set. :( Updated on 12/16: I just bought a new set of Winterberry burner covers on eBay for $14.99! I knew you'd all want to know that!

The shelf over my sink, which includes Winterberry candle holders, soap dispenser, and candy dish. And yes, there are Hershey's chocolates in there! Help yourself! =)

I also decorate my powder room, off the kitchen, in snowmen!

Well, that's it. I hope you enjoyed the tour! I've enjoyed your visit!

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Tour of Home, Bloggetyville Style!

I'm excited to be participating in my first Tour of Homes, Bloggetyville Style, hosted by BooMama! Blogger, however, is giving me fits tonight. I've tried to upload the last five pictures twice, but to no avail. So I thought I'd write about the pictures that did upload, publish this post, and then go back and edit and see if it works. **Well, it didn't work, so I'll have to do two posts!

Welcome to my home! I've lived in my townhouse for 11 years, and I love it!

This is the outside view, complete with my Boyds Bear "BELIEVE" flag, Christmas wreath on the front door, and a Warren Kimble snowman small flag.

This is the first "grouping" you see when you come in my home. Normally, at Christmastime, you'd see a live Christmas tree, but I didn't put one up this year! I just didn't have the energy and I'm not hostessing anything this Christmas, so I decided not to. The patchwork snowman is from Home Interiors and he dances AND sings! The santa on the chair is a gift from my best friend, Vickie. And the other decoration is also Home Interiors.

But I do have a Boyds Bear Christmas Tree that lights up. It's one of my favorites.

This is my banister going upstairs. There are white lights on the garland.

This is a grouping over the loveseat. Normally, for Christmas, the picture would be "wrapped" like a Christmas gift. I didn't get around to doing that this year.

My dining room table.

Another Home Interiors "grouping" beside the entertainment center in the living room. Go here to see the top of the entertainment center, decorated for Christmas.

This decoration sits on my living room window sill/my cat's window seat, facing out for folks to see the white lights on the little tree.

I do have a nativity set - the Thomas Kinkade one. When I took it out of the box to put on my entertainment center, there were 3 broken pieces. I was so bummed, I put it back in the box and took it back down to the basement. I even tried to glue the pieces back together with super glue, but it didn't work. =(

Edited: So I mistyped the Title of my post - I forgot the "s" on Home; when I fixed it, the link on BooMama's page didn't work. I switched it back, without the "s," which will drive me nuts to have a misspelling! Hopefully the link will work on BooMama's page, though.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Call the Poweece!

While I was in NY this past weekend, I got each of my nephews a zipper pull - they look like a NY license plate and have their names on. I gave Caleb his when he, Mammy, and I went out to dinner on Monday night. I decided to mail Benny and Matty's in a get well card for each since they are both sick.

Benny's card and zipper pull arrived safely. Matty's did not. We're not sure if it fell out of the envelope (I had it wrapped in tissue paper) or if someone took it out! Here's the conversation between Benny and I:

B: Thank you, Aunt Jada, for my key chain.
J: You're welcome. Do you like it?
B: Yes. Matty didn't get his. Can you call the poweece and tell them?
(poweece = police - hehehe)

I started laughing! I'm not sure he was amused. He put his Mom back on the phone and she asked "Are you gonna get right on that?" LOL

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

New York 2006

New York at Christmastime is busy! But it's fun to people-watch.

We stayed at The Waldorf-Astoria

We had a delicious room-service dinner on Friday night after getting to the hotel around 3:00 following our train and limo rides. On Saturday morning, I had the Bakery Basket Breakfast, followed by a bubble bath (yes ma'am, a bubble bath on Saturday morning!), then out for some shopping and visiting Rockefeller Plaza.

My breakfast My bubble bath

Actor Jon Voight was at Rockefeller Plaza so I snapped a picture of him. Then, of course, a picture of THE Christmas tree was in order, and of the ice skaters. On the way out of RP, I stopped at Crabtree & Evelyn and bought some bath salts. Heavenly!

From Rockefellar Plaza, I headed over to Saks Fifth Avenue. I found an ornament or two 0r seven for Mom! I dropped off my packages in the room, then headed for lunch at Oscar's. Oh my. I had a wonderfully delicious Reuben sandwich and equally wonderfully delicious french fries, with an iced tea. With tip, a $27.00 lunch.

After lunch, I sat in one of the lobbies of the hotel to sip my Starbucks Gingerbread Latte and people watch. The hotel had a Starbucks. Yes ma'am they did! I visited twice. It's a tad more expensive there.

I headed back up to the room around 3:00 to rest before the dinner in the Waldorf-Astoria Ballroom. The dinner was delicious. The filet just melted in your mouth. And the chocolate dessert? To die for!

I'm ready for the dinner

Susan and former Governor Dick Thornburgh

Even Ben Franklin made an appearance at the PA Society Dinner. Amazing, since he's 300 years old!

We headed home on Sunday morning, arriving back at the train station around 2:30. It's nice to go away, but it's nice to be home, too!

Friday, December 08, 2006

I'll be back!

Just in case anyone misses me (LOL), I'm in the Big Apple for the weekend. My boss attends a seminar on Saturday morning and while she's there, I go shopping! I do a lot of window shopping, although I do shop at Saks for an ornament for my Mom. She must have about 15 since that's about how many years I've been to NY, always the second weekend in December. On Saturday evening, we attend a black-tie dinner (thankyouverymuch) and then take the train home Sunday morning. Tonight, we'll be having room service. Yeah, baby! I enjoy going to Rockefeller Plaza to watch the ice skaters, and dream that I'm as good a skater as many of them!

These pictures are from 2003. My 2004 pictures are hazy - I didn't have a good camera or I didn't know how to use it! We didn't go to NY in 2005 because my boss had pneumonia. =( I'll post some pictures from this year when I return.

"See" you Sunday!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

My oldest nephew, Caleb

After participating in a blog contest, "Guess the real name of LoveBug," and after guessing that Caleb is LoveBug's real name, I realized that it's been a while since I posted anything on my blog about 'my' Caleb, my oldest nephew. So without further ado, here are some recent pictures of Caleb:

This is Caleb at his Cub Scout Cake Auction

Caleb and his Mommy, my younger sister. Caleb's Daddy is with Jesus, having passed away from a virus of the heart on July 5, 2001. Caleb was 3 (he turned 4 on August 17th that year).

Caleb eating lunch at my house when he, Andrew, and Austin (my best friend's two boys) stayed overnight.

Caleb at Mammy's (my Mom) 62nd birthday dinner.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Visiting Santa

Monday night was the Christmas Celebration at the square where Ben and Wendie live. They sang carols, ate cookies, and drank hot cocoa. Santa arrived on a fire truck, and Benny was so excited to see him! He waited patiently in line for his turn talk to Santa. He asked for a magnetic Thomas the Tank. Wendie said, "Matty, on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with the man!" You can tell that from his picture with Santa, but it's cute anyway.