Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas

T'was the day after Christmas, and now it is time to catch up! Both boys got home last weekend and there hasn't been a free minute since.

We had a good Christmas here, with one small hiccup in our festivities, but more on that later. Here are some photos to go along with a brief description of our activities.

I, of course had to work on the Monday-Wednesday before Christmas, but I left Jim and the boys lists of things to do to get ready for Christmas and that worked out pretty well.

Tuesday night we went to the Syracuse basketball game with Bob, Sally and Liz. We ate a quick pizza dinner in Corey's apartment before heading over to The Dome to watch SU dominate Oakland University.

On Wednesday, Jim, MaryAnne and Zach arrived and then the fun really started. A cousin photo was taken to document the event.

Gram hosted Christmas Eve dinner and here are some shots of the attendees. They all look so happy because dinner is about to be served!

The hiccup to our festivities that I alluded to earlier was that Grandpa woke up Christmas Eve day not feeling well. He had some of the same symptoms he had when he had his heart attack back in October so he was admitted to the hospital. After some tests and procedures, he is hoping to be discharged in the very near future. But since he missed our Christmas celebration, we took the celebration to him. Tucker took his guitar and Corey took his banjo and we all sang a rousing chorus of "We Wish You A Merry Christmas", which fortunately did not get us thrown out of the hospital.

Gram, GranDad, Jim, MaryAnne, Zach and Grandma joined us on Christmas morning for the giving of gifts. And I must say, we all must have been very good because many beautiful, thoughtful and generous gifts were exchanged. Here are some photos from our Christmas morning.

Here is a photo of Tucker modeling his handknit sweater with matching hat. I am so happy that they both fit and he seems to like them both!

We were joined for Christmas dinner by Bob, Sally and Liz which made for a full, lively dining room.

Here is a photo of the "kid's table" modeling the paper crowns that were part of the surprises in the Christmas poppers that were at each person's place at the table.

So, all in all, it was a good Christmas celebration. We thank everyone for their contribution to making the day a wonderful holiday memory. We are grateful for the family and friends who joined us on Christmas and for the many ways they all enrich our lives.

Merry Christmas and hope all is well.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My $3608.86 Mistake

Apparently I dropped my ATM card after getting cash from the bank's ATM in Tops Market on Sunday. This was a Visa/ATM card, but we never charged anything with it, we only used it to withdraw money from our checking account. I was unaware that I had lost this card until I got home from school yesterday and there was a phone message from our bank's fraud department. This representative said that there was suspicious activity with that card and the bank made the card inactive.

I was stunned when I heard all this because I have never lost, misplaced, or mishandled a credit card or ATM card. There is a place for every card in my wallet and every card is in its place, until Sunday. The bank rep told me the procedure for disputing all the purchases and I have started that ball rolling. Today I had to call the police to report the fraudulent activity with my lost card and the officer wrote it up as grand larceny.

There were 32 fraudulent purchases made, totaling $3608.86. It looks like the criminal, low-life, scum-bag who found my card and could not do the right thing and turn it in, traveled up and down Ridge Road spending money at the mall and the Walmart plaza.

The good news is that the bank said that they insure against crimes like this and we should get all of our money back after the bank investigates these purchases. It shouldn't be hard to prove that I didn't make these purchases because I was probably at school when most of these purchases were made and like I said earlier, we have never used this card as a charge card.

So, I am feeling a bit like an idiot for letting this happen, but I am also mad as h*ll that there are people in the world that would spend so much money that did not belong to them. I guess they will have very exciting Christmas morning, but I hope all their purchases haunt them. When the police officer was writing up the crime report, I was telling him that I didn't understand how people could do such a thing and he looked at me and said, "Ma'm, you don't have a criminal mind."

So, in the hustle and bustle of this holiday season, please take an extra minute with your cards and cash and make sure everything is secure. You might as well learn from my mistake.

Bless Jim's heart, when I told him about what had happened, he said, "It's only money."

I cannot write anymore, because I am too upset.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Letter 2009

Merry Christmas to all of our family and friends! Once again, I am going "green" with our 2009 newsletter and posting it to my family blog. If this is your first visit to The Empty Nest, welcome!

As we look back on 2009 we have many things for which to be thankful. We are employed, healthy and blessed with many friends and family members who make our lives exciting, interesting and blog-worthy! So here is a quick overview of our year in words and photos.

We once again started the year at Jenny Lake enjoying Mother Nature at her winter finest!

Early in 2009, Jim was inducted into the Greater Rochester Track Club's Hall of Fame, a great honor indeed.

And while those of us living in western New York were dealing with winter's realities, Tucker was spending a month in Mexico, dealing with Mother Nature Mexican-style!

We took our annual trip to Ottawa in February with our friends Bob and Sally and once again thoroughly enjoyed the ice-skating on the Rideau Canal.

We extended our February trip to Canada by traveling to Quebec to spend a night in the Ice Hotel near Quebec City. The hotel was a beautiful place and certainly a unique experience, but we probably don't need to go back again in the near future. This next photo shows an overview of the hotel, followed by a photo of the bar/disco area and the third photo is of our room. The beds consist of a mattress on a bed of ice!

Due to something better coming along, I did not do any long bike tours this year, but did manage to get 2 new, or new to me, bikes. My new Trek was purchased when I thought I was going on a week-long ride in Wisconsin. This bike replaced a 17 year old Trek and bikes sure have come a long way in 17 years!

Travel was a big part of our year. In addition to our Canadian adventure, Jim and Corey traveled to see Tucker in Utah. They had 10 days of canoeing, hiking and general male bonding.

After school let out, I had my turn to spend some time with Tucker, when I went to Idaho to do a Salmon River trip. I joined 20 other folks for 6 days on the river and Tucker was one of our guides! There were other passengers and crew members who I knew from previous trips which made this trip extra special.

Some of you may know that Jim has travelled to Finland for business several times in the past couple of years. He has always gone when I have been in school, so I was unable to tag along. Well that changed when he had to go in early August. And that coincidentally aligned with when the World Master's Track and Field Championships were being held in Finland. So off we went for 2 weeks in Sweden and Finland for business, pleasure, and some international competition. Jim entered the Steeple Chase event (running and jumping over barriers, including a water hazard!).

And he took 3rd place in his age-group! He was so happy, and I was so proud. He got to run wearing a USA uniform and I got to wave the American flag while he was running!

We flew into and out of Stokholm and took an overnight ferry, more like a cruise ship to and from Helsinki, a highly recommended way to travel between the countries.

We fell in love with Stokholm as soon as we started walking to our hotel. It is city built on a series of islands so there always seemed to be a water view with boat traffic and bridges. In both countries we enjoyed walking through narrow streets of the old parts of the towns and even climbed to the top of a couple of old church steeples to get wonderful views of the cities. While in Finland, we took a day trip, via a ferry, to the country of Estonia where we walked through the capital city of Tallinn all day.

While Jim was working in Helsinki, I boarded a train for a two-day trip to get to the Arctic Circle. The train took me to the town of Rovanemi, where I caught a local bus to take me to Santa's Village and the Arctic Circle. It was a pretty touristy place, but now I can say that I have been north of the Arctic Circle!

One of the things that was hard to miss in both Sweden and Finland and was most impressive was the huge number of local people who rode their bikes everywhere! We were happy to rent bikes in both countries for some sightseeing, because both countries are so biker friendly. When I got home, I started searching on Craigslist for a cruiser type bike and after a couple of weeks I got a good deal on this pink cruiser! I love it, and rode it to work a good number of times before the weather changed.

This year also included some trips to Jenny Lake,
some fiber festivals,

and time spent cheering on the RIT hockey team.

This fall we made a trip to New York City to see Corey and the Syracuse University team race.
On the way home, we stopped in Poughkeepsie to walk on the newly opened Walkway Over the Hudson. This is a restored train bridge that was recently opened for pedestrian and bicycle traffic and it was great fun to walk the 1.25 miles across and back again. Check it out if you are ever in that area and are not afraid of heights!

In December Jim's Dad celebrated his 93rd birthday and there was quite a family gathering at senior Robinson's new apartment complex for a birthday dinner.We were especially grateful for this birthday celebration as George was hospitalized for about a month in October and November with some heart problems. He has made a fine recovery!

Tucker and Corey will both be home for Christmas and for that we are grateful. We will also be joined by Jim, MaryAnne and Zach, which is a rare treat!

We hope that you and your family are well and can find joy in this holiday season. Our wish for you is peace and joy in your world and in the global community.

Hope all is well.

Love, Jim and Marji

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Houseful of Fun

My last post was when we were anticipating the arrival of Jim's family for the celebration of Grandpa's 93rd birthday. We have been really busy so there have been no updates since their arrival. I will write this now while our guests are playing Wii.

Jeanne, Mark, Michal, Elizabeth, Terry and Britni all arrived in time for Grandpa's dinner. Jim drove to Syracuse and brought Corey to town for the festivities, so we were a table of 11 at the Home.

Corey and Michal outdid themselves with their get-ups for the evening. In some other post I will explain why Corey is wearing a sash that says "Mr. July 2010!"

After our birthday dinner we posed for a family photo.
We returned to their apartment for birthday cake and a rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday!"
Some of us ended our evening by breaking out the Rock Band, at 10 PM! This was no problem for any of the others, but I had to get up and go to work the next day! It was great fun!

Jim has had a bit of excitement in the last 24 hours. He left for a race in Lexington, KY at 4 PM on Thursday. He was riding down with 45 of his teammates in a big bus. The weather was questionable when they left with high winds and intermittent snow squalls. There was some concern when it took them 1 hour and 45 minutes to get from Victor to LeRoy on 490, a trip that can usually be made in less than an hour. The going was really slow on the Thruway with the conditions deteriorating with every mile they travelled east. After about 6.5 hours they were on the other side of Buffalo, a trip that normally would take about 2 hours. They had been driving through lots of white-out conditions much of the way. When they got about 9 miles from the last exit on the NYS Thruway, they came to a complete stop, where they stayed for the next 14 hours! Yes, you read that right, 14 hours! A tractor-trailer had jackknifed at the toll booth, 9 miles ahead and no one could move. The Thruway was closed for the next 14 hours, then a turn around was opened up 3 miles ahead of where Jim's bus was parked. By this time, all 46 runners realized there was no way they were getting to Lexington on time and even if they did, they would be in no condition to run so when they were turned around on the Thruway, they all decided to have the bus driver just continue on east and bring them all home. So I picked up Jim at 4:30 PM and he has some funny stories to tell of this adventure.

He got home in time to spend some more time with his family. We had a good Ponty's supper and have been playing Wii for a while. Hopefully, we'll get some Rock Band in tonight!

For the record, we did get a nice Christmas tree last Sunday. And now we are really glad we did that when we did because this weekend will be much colder than last weekend.

Tomorrow is my spinning guild meeting and I am looking forward to going as it has been a very long time since I was in town for that meeting. Tomorrow night we will go to a RIT hockey game.

Hope all is well.