Pat and Clay Christmas Letter 2004

25 December 2004

First, we want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Since we can't hold off this letter until we get the 2004 Christmas photos, we'll start off with last years Christmas night family get together.

It was at Donna's and had about all the bunch except Betty and the Nixon's. Fr. Herb got in and we were able to have Christmas Day Mass at Pat & Clay's. We all then went to Donna's for dinner, family present exchanges and the "white elephant" family game of gift choices. The game is that each person brings a wrapped gift (usually something from the attic or that they don't want) and puts it in the pile. Equal cards are dealt and then one drawn from a matched deck. The first winner picks and opens his present. From then on, each one has a choice from one of the drawn presents or one in the pile. It continues until all the cards are gone with a little friendly blood letting. In the past, some of the little guys teared up because they didn't get what they wanted. This time, all was well. It's one of those things that all look forward to. All were filled, got a lot of presents and had a good time.

On New Years eve, we had an indoor pool party at Mike's along with 2 birthdays (Lisa's and Zack's). It was topped off with presents, cake and ice cream and fireworks. The fog comes when it's COLD outside and the pool is heated real good.

Early in the year, Clay needed to cover the wires behind the TV set with a photo divider. He had a 15 frame unit and has 14 grand children and one great grandchild. So for your awe,

Bill & Dawn's: Chris, Davis, Theresa
Bob & Kathy's: Tina (Ashley), Laura, Robby
Betty & Ken's: Andy, Logan
Mike & Lisa's: Zach, Greg
Donna & Randy's: Jake, Anna, Tricia
Mark & Lisa's: Clay R

In February, Clay came up with a case of shingles. Apparently, it's something left over from chicken pox (which he had in 1943). We had never seen them before and he had to go to the dermotologist to tell him what he had (one photo included).

It was about the time of the only snow day this year.

Betty got a new puppy, Zoe.

In March we got an '04 Honda Odyssey to replace our '96 Odyssey. We went out looking for a big SUV that could hold 7 adults with easy access to 3rd seat, but no joy so went to our proven Odyssey. A new neighbor of Betty's in Texas flew in to pick up our old one. They had been looking for one but prices were high and all we wanted was what we could get on a trade-in.

Right after that we sold the 10 acres in the county next to us that we had for 24 years. As you can imagine, it was just about all capital gains. We do, however, get to use up all of the capital losses we built up in the stock market the past few years.

Betty's new dog is growing, growing, ......

In April we did the annual family Easter party at Mike's with eats, swimming and hunting plastic, stuffed Easter eggs.

As you can see, the hiding places were some what easy.

Also in April we did 2 weeks in Dallas with Betty and kids. The 2 grand kids are doing great. They're still into soccer, hockey, baseball, etc. as you see. We were fortunate and did not miss out on any of the kids sports events, neither games nor practices this time.

They got a NEW dog which was in the training mode when we got there and still was when they came in for the summer visit with her.

More dog tales later.

In May, it was prom time for Bill and Dawn's last child, Theresa. As usual, it was busy, busy, busy. Oh, yes and big bucks for hair, nail, etc. It's getting where the dress is a low cost item.

As you would expect, also in May, it was graduation time for Theresa. It was outside and hot but we all made it through it.

The next day they had a pool party with about 80 people.

Theresa is now accepted and going to Southern Poly Tech here in Marietta. They now have all 3 kids in college; the 2 boys at Ga Tech.

June brought half of the family going to Gulf Shores for a half of a week. We stopped by Columbus and picked up Bob, Kathy and Robby. We did swimming, the customary motor cars and a lot of eating.

Of course, we got to Lambert's, the "Home of the Throwded Rolls"

In July, Ken brought Betty, the kids and 2 DOGs in for 5 weeks. Zoe, the oversized puppy was still operating in the training mode. It was an effort to keep up with Zoe's training. Betty did most of it but Pat helped out some and Clay did the minimum.

The summer started off with American Adventure and then ice skating.

They swam most every day at Bill's pool except thoes days they were at Mike's, Mark's, or Bob's pool, or at Gulf Shores or in Tampa.

In August, Clay got another plug-in hard (40GB) drive bringing him up to 440GB. His laptop of 2 GB was full and he wanted to transfer his photos to David Danhauer at the get together (below) who is working a Danhauer version web page. Clay is working on a 20GB Houston web page with his 6,000 photos. His is still bigger than yours.

Shortly after Betty got here, Pat and Clay took a long weekend to run to KY for the annual making of BERGOO. Pat's sister, Jean has her kids, grandkids and great-grandkids show up to make the equivalent of brunswick stew. Their cabin at Lake Malone along with 4 RVs handle most of the traffic with a few doing a one hour day-trip from Owensboro. Fr. Herb and Skip & Frank made it too. It was nice to see most the Graf's (Joe's in Norfolk) and all of the Danhauer family.

The bergoo was great along with the fish dinner at "Fat Johnny's", and the Danhauer Sunday buffet.

While we were gone to KY, Betty, Donna and Lisa got to Six Flags and to bowling. At Six Flags, Andy and Theresa both won a 4 ft stuffed dog (see photo). They won them at 3 pm and had to carry them around until 8 pm when they left. Theresa's was tore so she took it back for a smaller white dog.

The stuffed dog was too big to get into their Odyssey along with the kennel and kids so we took it to Rockwall when we went on October.

In August, Dawn injured her back by breaking a chip off of her lower spine cartlege. An operation removed it but it was followed by an infection in the area. They did antiboitic flushing but it required a daily IV infusion of stuff. She seems better but having ups and down days.

Luckly her mother, Sandie retired from teaching in CA and move back. She lives with Dawn while she found a place and was able to do the majority of helping Dawn.

She found a condo in Vinings which looks quite good. It was the demo one so she got a lot of add-ons for free. Nov was the move-in time.

Then there was the traditional Stone Mountain park visit. We had a great time even though we did not stay late for the laser show. We had a lot of top winners at the Farmer's Barn. Jenny A. was really Anna and the remaining leaders used almost their real names.

Near the end of the Betty and dogs visit, Ken flew back and they did a week in Tampa. They left the dogs with Donna. We have to admit that they were right good getting Zoe house broken. Neither pooped on the carpet the whole time. They knew to go to the patio door and bark when it was time even though we thought that sometime they did it when they were bored.

When Donna kept them, however, the doors and house was different along with having 4 cats in the house so Zoe pooped on the floor two days out of two. When we found out about that we brought them back and had no problems. Strange.

When they got back, they did some local mountain climbing and falls watching. Please note Logan's 2 front teeth dangling on a string but he won't finish them off (out). He really looks better than that.

And in late October, we went to Texas to visit Ken, Betty and their kids. We did, however, go via Tunica (south of Memphis) and visited all ten of their casinos.We spent 5 days (and some money) there but had a real good time. We had a driving tour through Memphis to see Beal Street and Elvis's place. Didn't feel like walking in but filled in that square. We came back from TX via Vicksburg where Clay won a $125 jackpot on a penny slot which helped to defray the Tunica visit.

When we got to Rockwall (outside Dallas) we did the customary baseball, soccer and baby setting Zoe, the dog. She had a major hip operation and had to be held back the whole time we were there.

We got to the monthly flee market weekend at Canton. Canton is up to 8,000 booths now. We usually meet Ken's Mom and Dad (retired & golfing) for lunch and a visit. They are moving into a new home in Tyler. Pat & Betty went back the second day. They also went to south Dallas's Sam Moon's import stores 2 times for more bargains.

And on 31 October, we went to Ken & Betty's church for their annual Halloween event. Pat & Betty did the bouncing castle thingy, Andy ate and Clay took photos.

The candy didn't keep Clay from enjoying all the Mexican places in town. Pancho's has the best chile relleno he's had since he was last at the Red Onion in LA.

We got to see the eclipse while there. Logan took copys of photos to school for show-and-tell.

We took a tour of Fort Worth Stockyards. It's not as bad as it sounds. It's more like and outdoor mall. We took a train ride to Grapevine on an old-timey train, saw DFW airport, the museum, had lunch at Panera Bread and dinner at Bahama Breeze. It was a very enjoyable day.

We did Turkey Day at Bill & Dawn's this year. She was still recovering from her back operation but doing much better. Bill and her children helped her mother with the feast. Bob and his did dinner with Kathy's family, Mark did it with Lisa's family and both came over for desert in the evening. All had a good time and left full.

Some of Dawn's friends and co-workers came by and David brought his new "friend", Sharen.

Donna and family went to North Carolina and Randy's family and Mike went to Nunan, GA and Lisa'a family.

Again, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Pat and Clay Houston