Saturday, June 25, 2011

Dylan is 10 Years Old!

And he is thrilled to be 10! Here are a few shots of his birthday today. We are having his party tomorrow. Here he is opening a few gifts in the motorhome before their cousins arrived.

Dylan, his brother & sister, and their three cousins played in the yard at our private W&M Campground.

What a blast: riding toys, yard games, lots of trees, a huge yard, and endless imaginations!

The long-awaited (by our kids) movie Cars 2 opened nationwide today...on Dylan's birthday. Thirteen of us were there for the first showing today. The word "awesome" was used a lot as we left the theater.

Repairs have delayed the opening of the town pool. My brother heard that they were using a fire hose to fill it this evening. We all loaded up and drove over to watch. Some may giggle at our small town ways but this was cool stuff to see!

I love this mural on the side of the pool house.

Dylan always picks Chili's for his birthday dinner but the nearest one is probably fifty miles away. He loved the pizza from the local pizzeria though so this was a hit for his birthday dinner.

There were lightning bugs to catch...

...and balloons to blow up for decorations tomorrow.

His Great-Grandma Pogue was here of course, and before the evening ended his Aunt Barb and her son, Ryan, came from Kansas and his Uncle Tom and his son, Chad, came from near Chicago. His Uncle Greg and Aunt Jenny got in much later.

This was a great 10th birthday and there will be lots of fun again tomorrow...if it doesn't rain...please, please, please.

Lovin' Life ~~ And Family

Thursday, June 23, 2011

They Are Here!

Yes, their flight was cancelled but they got on the last flight of the day and arrived at the early morning hour of 1:00 a.m. Wednesday. We all stayed up until 3:00 a.m. Again last night, Sandee and I stayed up talking until after 3:00 a.m. this morning...yawn...

Here they are: our daughter, her beautiful kids, and our son at his new house.

They are all (mostly Grandpa) loading the RV; I should at least get dressed...teehee

Lovin' Life ~~ Lovin' These Kids

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

An Ode to Larry

Our daughter and her adorable ones will be here tonight! As though we didn't have enough to do in preparation for their arrival, Rich came home this afternoon with a new ceiling fan for the breakfast nook to replace the one that bit the dust months ago.

He modified the old fan's light fixture to fit the new fan, since that is the main light source for my computer. There is very little that MOAO can't do; the man is amazing! I love the size of the new fan too; the old one was a tad too large for the nook. Now I have a gentle breeze again when I sit here at the kitchen table reading blogs, managing photos, talking on the phone, texting the kids, playing games...

This is Larry. You can see him hanging just above Rich's pocket in the photo above. Yes, he dangles at the end of the pull chain on our ceiling fan but he is much more than just that to us. Larry came into our lives many years ago, when we still lived in sunny southern California. While camping with our friends, Bill and Deanne, in the Sierras near Mammoth one summer weekend, we strolled through a craft fair. That's where we found Larry. The guys shared many laughs at their own jokes about Larry that weekend...use your own imagination...giggle, giggle!

With all the fun memories of that weekend often coming to mind when I look up and see Larry, I wouldn't trade him for all the pull chain dangles in the world!

Lovin' Life ~~ And Reminders of Fun Times

Monday, June 20, 2011


Rich's mother was smiling down on me today. For the first time in more than seventeen years, I made pierogi. Not long after we were married, Ma taught me how to make these and also her white borscht which has a sausage-water base. All the years that we lived in California, we celebrated Christmas Eve with the Polish traditional dinner...Oplatki blessings, no meat, an odd number of dishes and even a bit of straw under the tablecloth. I loved doing this for Rich and I loved that the kids got to experience this part of his heritage.

After moving to Chicago, Ma made the pierogi until she was no longer able. Since then Rich's sister, Marianne, has always made them for our family Christmas and Easter dinners. This week I decided that I would like for our grands to experience this too.

We have always made them days ahead, often freezing them, because they take time to make and the kitchen becomes a disaster area. There are many variations but, in our family, we make cheese-filled pierogi and sauerkraut-filled pierogi. The sticky dough is simply flour, salt, and milk combined and then rolled fairly thin on a flour covered surface. Three to four inch circles of dough are cut out, filling is placed in the center, the dough is folded into a semi-circle. The seam is pinched closed, then you pull and twist to make the braid-looking edge seen below.

The filled pierogi are dropped into a large pot of rapidly boiling water to cook for about 10 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, the boiled pierogi are removed from the pot, placed in a bowl, and drizzled with melted butter.

After this step, I put them in the freezer for another time. When we have our dinner, the thawed pierogi will be lightly browned in butter and served hot.

I am pleased to say that I remembered how to finish the edges without hesitation and that not even one was too thin or not completely sealed which means that none of them fell apart in the boiling water! Not bad, huh Ma?
Lovin' Life ~~ And Family Traditions

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Party Central

Even on Father's Day, here at Party Central we are busily preparing for next weekend's birthday party.

Lovin' Life ~~ Bein' Silly

Happy Father's Day to Our DADS!

MOAO is the best DAD my kids could ever have had. He gave them a whole wide world of experiences and the safe, happy home that eluded us in their early years. I LOVE YOU RICH! Thanks for being such a great DAD!

Our son-in-law is the best DAD our amazing grandkids could ever have had. He is dynamic and always present in every aspect of their lives. We love you Shawn! Thanks for being such a great dad!

Lovin' Life ~~ And Our Great DADS

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Even More Deliciousness

What a week! Since Monday afternoon I have been in touch with six of the folks who worked with me at the college, my neighbor gifted me with her special meatballs, I played cards with friends two nights, Dora had surgery, I had dinner with a former co-worker, had a bizarre "it's a small world" encounter with someone from our family's past, discovered a local El Pollo Loco restaurant, completed some of my party planning tasks, made RV park reservations for the trip we're taking the grands on while they are here, exchanged a million texts and calls with my grands, and just closed the week with a delightful catching-up-on-all-that's-new several-hours-long lunch with a great friend from the college.

We finally relinquished our table when the dinner crowd started piling in...seriously.

She even brought me an early birthday gift since we only see each other a couple of times a year (gotta work on improving that!).

Her gift wrapping is always exquisite, even when the gifts are in a darling bag like this butterfly one, but I forgot to take a picture before opening the photo album. I suppose y'all are drooling over the delectable oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. She is a great baker; her baked goods are what I have missed more than anything else in that office! And just look, I couldn't keep Rich out of them long enough to finish taking pictures!

Lovin' Life ~~ Good Friends; Delicious Gifts

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fabulous Food Friday

We drove into the city today to shop at the BEST Polish market anywhere (true, no matter what others may tell you about their favorite Polish market)! Before Sandee goes back home after her visit here, we are planning a special dinner at home and the only place to get the BEST smoked sausage is at Joe & Frank's Market. I tried so hard to capture the delectable scents there, but my camera can only do so much.

Just look at these gorgeous sausages though and imagine how wonderful it would be to experience the scent and the flavor. The number of workers behind the counter give you a clue as to how busy they are all the time.

They also have a big selection of bakery items. After pondering his many choices, Rich's amazing will power won out and he didn't buy anything...impressive! Hard to believe I know, but these types of pastries are not appealing to me so it's easy for me to pass on by.

As if that weren't enough deliciousness, we noticed an El Pollo Loco restaurant catty-cornered from Joe & Frank's Market! OH MY!!!

El Pollo Loco was one of our very favorite fast food options when we lived in sunny southern California. This location has been open for two years and we only found it much good eating foregone...such a travesty!

I love their works of food art...

Rich loves their salsa bar!

We both love their food...

My deluxe Pollo Bowl, which includes a perfect combination of flavors, and a side of sweet corn cake.

Rich's chicken breasts and hot salsa.

We will be driving into the city much more often for lunch now! They had opened three locations in Chicago but this is the only surviving one so, PLEASE, if you're in the area eat at El Pollo'll be forever glad that you did.

Lovin' Life ~~ Finding Heaven on a Plate


If there's a theme to this week, it is 'reconnecting' ~ with friends in our neighborhood and former coworkers. I played cards a couple of evenings with friends who also travel extensively in their motorhome that we haven't seen for months and other neighbors with whom we only spend time occasionally. Have I mentioned lately that I love our neighborhood?

Earlier this week, I got a call from a former coworker, Dolores. We had not talked for nearly two years and she left the college a couple of years before that even. That led to conversations with my former boss and another coworker the next day. Those casual office conversations with folks who get to know each other well is something to be missed in retirement.

Last evening, I had dinner at Dolores' where we really got a start at catching up on all that's new in our lives. She has moved in the past year to a beautiful apartment on the fourth floor of a building in a lovely wooded area where she overlooks the tree tops from her balcony. We enjoyed every bite of the delicious dinner she had prepared...

...and lots of great conversation on her balcony as the evening waned.

Lovin' Life ~~ And Reconnecting With Friends

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Still Crushin' On...

...Season 7 American Idol winner, David Cook ~~ rather, his music of course! notified me today that David Cook's "sophomore album" will be released on June 28th. It is titled This Loud Morning and can be pre-ordered here at

Sadly, neither Amazon nor David Cook have ever heard of me so it's not like I get anything out of this. I'm just trying to let you know that more amazing music is coming our way.

Lovin' Life ~~ And DC's Music

Monday, June 13, 2011

Wall Drug ~ 1995

My sister and I send e-mails to each other; we rarely talk by phone these days. Is that okay? Sometimes the technological world seems to be spinning rather fast for me.

Anyway, in our exchanges about the upcoming special birthday weekend for my grandson, she mentioned that she and her son are planning a trip to South Dakota later this summer. I suggested that they not miss stopping at Wall Drug in Wall, SD. It can be hard to miss...teehee...not! There are Wall Drug billboards along the interstate about every ten feet or so for hundreds of miles, or so it seems.

We stopped there on our way home from our trip to the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks in August 1995. Remembering our trip there, I decided to take a few minutes hours and scan (lovin' this technology!) a couple of photos. Of course, once I start there are so many I want to scan.

Here we are with our friends, Bill & Deanne, at Jenny Lake in the Tetons. I LOVE the Tetons!

In my reply, I mentioned to my sister that one of my favorite photos is the one of me on a Jackalope at Wall Drug. Yeah, I'm silly enough to post it so bring on those comments!

What I neglected to mention though is that she needs to shelter her sweet son from the wanton women who hang out there.

Lovin' Life ~~ And Sharing Old Photos

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Picture Tree

In her comment on my post about Beaver Dam State Park, my niece mentioned the picture tree and wondered about the whereabouts of photos taken there. Well here they are! These were taken on May 30, 1977. Six days earlier my daughter had turned five years old, my niece would be three in August, and it was three days before my son's second birthday. They are so adorable!

The dude on the tree limb with them is none other than my chainsaw-wielding brother, the one mentioned in The Rest of Memorial Day Weekend in which I had to correct a grievous factual error about him!

After taking these photos, the little darlings played on the park's playground. Notice the merry-go-round, the tall metal slide, and the seesaws in the background. Today these are rare relics of the past. In Jacksonville, there is a small park that still has these and our grands loved going to that park when we would visit their Great Grandma Pauline.

A funny confession:  A couple of years ago when our daughter was here with our grands, we took Mom to Beaver Dam for breakfast as we typically do. While eating, we were reminiscing about lots of fun times there including taking pictures on that tree when the kids were little. We ALL decided it would be so great to take pictures of our three young grands on that same limb. Have you figured it out yet?

After breakfast we spent some time on the deck watching the hummingbirds, fish, etc in this lovely setting. Then we got in the car and drove to the location of our 'picture tree' where we immediately cracked up when we FINALLY realized that the 'picture tree' limb of 1977 was now twenty or thirty feet in the air! That darned tree had just kept on growing...and we just kept on laughing at ourselves!

Lovin' Life ~~ With Photos, Memories, & Laughs

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Beaver Dam State Park

is a short drive from my hometown. Mom has always loved this park and spent many hours hiking around the lake, often with my niece when she was young. When Mom and Dad had a camper, she spent innumerable weekends camped out there with friends...old and new.

A few years back, a new concession building with a large deck, a restaurant, and bait shop was constructed at the edge of the lake. The building is lovely, the food is good, and the view of the lake is fantastic in all seasons.This remains a favorite place for all of our family.

Before leaving on Tuesday morning, May 31st, my sister, her son, Mom, Rich, and I went there for breakfast. In the photo below, my Sis is supplying Rich with materials for his Jelly Tower. Please note the orange wrist bands he's wearing...a gift from my sister who took them from everyone's orange juice bottles...some kids never grow up...giggle!

While waiting for our food, I managed to tear myself away from all this frivolity to take photos of the snakes that we could see swimming in the lake outside our window. These are two different snakes but perhaps the same species at different stages? Can you identify them? I'm asking. They were fairly fast swimmers in open water but seemed to prefer slithering along the shore.

After a wonderful, funny, crazy breakfast, I did get this great photo of these goofballs...

...before Rich and I headed back to ready the RV for our trip home. This was taken in my rear view mirror as Rich followed me into town from the W&M Campground to hook the car up for towing.

Admittedly it has taken me a while but, finally, this is the last of my stories and photos of our family gathering on Memorial Day weekend.

Lovin' Life ~~ And Giggles

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Rest of the Memorial Weekend...

Edited on June 8th...yikes!

The days just fly by. We spent this past weekend working on some projects with my son and DIL but most of my time is being spent right here at my computer, working on photo projects. So how about we catch up a bit?

My sister and her son got in late Saturday on Memorial Day weekend, so we saw them on Sunday. My youngest brother and his son also came down on Sunday. It is a rare treat for Mom, and for me, when all four of us are together. So much of a treat in fact that not one photo was taken of the four of us together or with Mom...yikes...I am slipping!

We are all so lucky that W&M still live in our hometown and always make us feel right at home when we are there! Except for Sunday evening, when we all convened at Mom's for some much needed spring de-cluttering, we spent the weekend at their house. There's nothing like the shade of a big ole tree for sitting and visiting on a sunny holiday weekend.

Now this is proof that we are all made of tough stock. Kneeling in the rocks here to split a geode so that the boys could see the magic inside (with disappointing results though) is my brother...the one who took an axe  a chainsaw to his knee while chopping wood last fall. Speaking of "slipping", we got there soon after he came back from the hospital so how could I not remember that he took a CHAINSAW to his knee...OMG...memory gettin' scary here.

My tough-as-nails brother.

There was some sparkle in this one, but not what Rich and I had hoped when we bought these in Arkansas.

My most favorite (and only...teehee) sister!

My sister's most favorite (and only...teehee) son!

My baby all youngest children have to hear that throughout their whole lives?

My baby brother's most favorite (and only...teehee) son!

My other brother's most favorite (and only...teehee) daughter!

aka: My Niece

My niece's most favorite (and only...teehee) husband!

And their three adorable sons!

Thank goodness my daughter and niece broke that one child thing that all my siblings had going on.

My mom is most happy when her kids are around. She is so excited that we all plan to be there again the last weekend in June.

Lovin' Life ~~ And Family Gatherings