Friday, March 16, 2018

They Grow Up (and Lose Teeth) So Fast . . .

We have been traveling and doing shows for a long time – and it seems even longer when the time is measured in “kid years” . . . the following pictures and narrative appeared on this blog in July 2011 after our annual summer visit to Grapevine, Texas . . .


I have seen Lucia and her family a lot since then – they live two or three miles from our mail center.  So when I go to Grapevine, Lucia and her brothers can’t wait for me to get back – because I almost always come back with boxes of goodies from their grandparents (Jane McLaughlin has helped us in Grapevine for more than 20 years).  But Grandma and Grandpa (Jane and Weldon) are visiting this week to help out while Natalie is on a mission trip – and that prompted a visit to the mail center this morning . . .


Where Zoe got to make a new friend – she has seen Lucia before, but not since she was little.  And Lucia is now seven – and missing her two front teeth.  I asked her how much front teeth are going for these days – and she told me she didn’t know, because she hasn’t put them under her pillow yet!  She also made sure that I understood that the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny weren’t real, and that her parents handle those duties.

I was crushed . . . I still believe.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Family Matters . . .

I am very close to being caught up now – I think the only thing left is to run through the highlights of what the family has been doing over the past few months . . .

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This was at the end of October – Emily wanted to do a 5K (walk, not run).  She and I walked around my hometown (which is on the side of a hill so it’s good exercise) for weeks leading up to it.  And then the rains came – the entire trek was an absolute mudbath through fields of muck.  It was miserable while we did it – but I told Ryan and Emily halfway through that ten minutes after we finished, one of them would say it was fun.  And I was right . . .


My last driving lesson – my brother-in-law’s family always comes in for the holidays, and in three of the past four years one of his daughters has come in with a learner’s permit.  So we go for a drive to Jungle Jim’s – one of the most eclectic groceries I have ever seen.  It’s a place where you can find just about anything – has sections for items from lots of different countries – and it’s like an amusement park setting.  It’s also in an area where the apprentice driver can go on back roads one way, and on interstates the other – so it’s great to experience lots of different types of driving.  This year’s student was my niece, Natalie (right) – and Emily decided to come along for the ride.

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The passage of time – the picture at left is from Christmas Eve Eve last year – seemed only fitting to recreate it this year with the guest of honor . . .

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For an 11-month-old’s first Christmas, there is a lot of exploring to do . . .


And lots of waiting arms to climb into . . .


This was our first family Christmas picture with a baby in it since 1994 – and our first family Christmas picture with a girl baby in it ever.

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My kids and their new toys – Ryan has a thing for vintage Star Wars lunch boxes, and Emily has become a fan of all things knitting . . .

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And of course, there were cookies – lots and lots of Christmas cookies.  This is our oldest family tradition, dating back to the days when it was just Mom and Dad and me.  There was a time when we thought December was too hectic and we might have to discontinue this, but all three boys howled in unison that it was their favorite holiday event.  So it lives on.

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My niece Jordan was extremely happy – this is the first time she has had a chance to eat the cookies she decorated.  Jordan is gluten and dairy-free – but I discovered this Sugar Cookie Mix on that trip to Jungle Jim’s.  I have looked for new ideas and recipes that work for her ever since she joined our family.


This was the first delicacy I discovered for her a few years ago – gluten-free dairy-free snickerdoodle cupcakes.  I hadn’t iced them yet when I took this pic to tantalize her.  They are so good, and you would never guess that they have no dangerous stuff in them.

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More cookie decorating shots . . .

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And more goodies that came from my kitchen over the holidays.

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Finally, Amelia’s first birthday was in late January – and it brought together both sides of her family for a celebration.

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Conner is a Star Wars person – Gina is a Harry Potter person.  So Amelia will likely be a hybrid kid – and I figured a collection of Star Wars children’s stories would be fitting.  I can tell that Emily sees Amelia a lot – they usually end up in each other’s arms quickly.

And with that, I think we are finally caught up.  I can now start watching for more current events to report . . .

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Our Furry Families . . .

For those of you who took the time to vote for Connie Williams’ grandpuppy last week – the results came in a few hours ago and “Baby” was a runaway winner – thanks!

Meanwhile, an update on some of the pets in my household . . .


This was Nala around the holidays, wearing a look of innocence after being discovered inside a gift bag playing with a ball of tissue paper . . .


A January project that Ryan and I constructed in his condo – he saw a picture someplace of a cat loft that cost several hundred dollars, and decided that he could design something just as good from scraps and clearance items from Lowe’s.

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Ryan was being very protective as Casanova made his first trip up the wall . . .


Freya, who runs the show in the family, spends the most time in the loft now, but occasionally allows Casanova to visit.

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Zoe usually likes to have her own space to survey the landscape from the end of the couch -- so imagine my surprise recently when she decided to spend a little "close-up" time and curled up right next to me.


Alas, after a few minutes things were back to normal . . .

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Memories of Warmth in Texas . . .

January was awful in Ohio – I don’t think even the snowbunnies like temperatures below zero, and we had them on eight different days during the month.  Thankfully, on two of them I was in Grapevine, Texas . . .

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It was single digits when I left Dayton – and required putting something called Diesel 911 into the fuel tanks to keep the fuel from gelling.  So I was thrilled when I crossed into Texas and took a pic of the thermometer to send home.  And of course one of my first stops as I approached the Metroplex was for an In-N-Out fix . . .

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62 degrees on setup day – made me wish I had packed my golf clubs in case I had some daylight after we finished.  And I did – so I found a hiking trail near Lake Grapevine and spent a couple of hours until dusk enjoying the weather and the exercise.

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The booth was busy within a few minutes of the opening of the show, and Jane and I did our best to take care of everyone . . .


But at one point, Jane stepped away to get a bite to eat – and I looked up a couple of minutes later and a customer had taken her place at the demo table and was drawing a crowd!


This is one place where there is plenty of room around the clearance table – wish I had more at other shows . . .

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Every show – there are adorably cute kids at every show, and they love to sit at our demo table and learn.  Don’t these just warm your heart?