Sunday, July 31, 2011

Northwestern New York State

The drive across Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania was actually pretty boring and last night we parked at a WalMart in a lovely little town in Ohio. This afternoon we arrived at our first planned destination and are staying about 40 miles from Niagara Falls!

After setting up and settling in we drove up to Golden Hill State Park on the Lake Ontario shore and visited the Thirty Mile Point Lighthouse.

This area is fascinating. Here's an anomaly for you. We are staying in a rural area surrounded by farms. The barns and other outbuildings are enormous and connected to each other which I assume reflects the necessity of protecting livestock and equipment during the long harsh winters. Yet...I swear there are more backyard swimming pools per capita in this area than there are in the San Fernando Valley...and at least five percent of them are in-ground pools! Go figure!!! [by the way: I don't claim any authenticity of these numbers, it's simply my observation]

Gotta get some sleep tonight so we can explore more of the area tomorrow but I wanted to share a couple of photos and let you all know that we're okay.

Lovin' Life ~~ Busily Meandering

Moments ~ Rain & Pony Rides

June 26 & 27, 2011

I hoped I mentioned a little while ago that I may be sharing Moments from the kids visit with us for quite some time to come. I know that I mentioned the torrential rains that fell on the day of Dylan's party at W&M's house. Here is a very special Moment from that day. Ross is grilling in the pouring rain while Amber holds our huge golf umbrella to shield him as much as possible. That's our family in lovin' action!

What County Fair would be complete without a Pony Ride? Unfortunately, the rain put a real damper on that, causing the Pony Ride to be rescheduled and held on the following day. Now this was not just any ole Pony sirree. This is a Pony Ride that is only held on very special occasions at the W&M Campground. These Moments were captured in the following shots of all six kids riding the pony.

You must have observed the advanced equestrian skills demonstrated by all of our kids! No one was thrown that day, so there's the proof!

Lovin' Life ~~ And Remembering Special Party Moments

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Moments ~ Shelby's in the Newspaper!

One of Shelby's most exciting Moments this trip was learning that her photo was in the newspaper! My brother, Tom, had e-mailed me saying he had seen Shelby and me in the hometown paper. I quickly e-mailed W & M and my BFF Dorothy to please send copies. Shelby immediately asked "What was I wearing that day?" Since we would have to wait a few days before getting the newspaper in the mail, we quickly pulled up that day's photos and found that she had on a quite acceptable that girl!

I had noticed the photographer when we all went to watch the firemen fill the city pool on June 24th but never dreamed they would pick a photo of us to print in the Carlinville Enquirer~Democrat the following week.

Here is a scanned shot of the photo they printed...

When was the last time your photo was published in a newspaper???

Lovin' Life ~~ And Totally Unexpected Celebrity!

What Was Your First Clue?

Perhaps the photo gave it away? Yes, we are ON THE ROAD AGAIN! We left home a few minutes past 8:00 this morning. This time we're heading for the far northeast.

Did you notice the new traveling companion on my desk? It was a gift from my sister when we were all together in June and provides three of life's necessities...a fan for cooling, an emergency supply of chocolate, and a smile every time I look at it.'s blue! Everyone who's anyone knows that blue M&Ms are my favorites.

We have been so busy shopping for a special little girl's upcoming birthday, organizing & copying 2010 and 2011 photos to send Sandee, preparing for this trip, etc., etc. that I am far behind on blogging. Hopefully, I'll get caught up now.

Lovin' Life ~~ Ready for a New Adventure

Sunday, July 24, 2011

An Art-Full Saturday

Rich and I enjoyed a late lunch of salad loaded with all kinds of yummy ingredients yesterday. Then, glancing down as I raised my fork, I saw this...

Does this remind you of a face that could have been painted by Pablo Picasso? Could a salad have been his muse? Remembering the famous $28,000 grilled cheese sandwich of a few years ago, I immediately wondered if my forkful of salad could be auctioned on E-Bay. At the same time, I was trying to adjust my camera with my left hand for a clearer shot when, much to my dismay, this miraculous work of art slipped from my fork. Alas, fame eludes me yet again...giggle!

On a more serious note, Greg & Jenny had given Rich tickets to the play, Faith Healer by Brian Friel, at The MAC. It was last evening.

Faith Healer is about the life of faith healer Francis Hardy as monologued through the shifting memories of Hardy, his wife, Grace, and stage manager, Teddy. The play consists of four parts, with a monologue making up each part. The monologues are given, in order, by the faith healer, Francis (Frank) Hardy himself; his wife, Grace; his manager, Teddy, and finally Hardy again. The monologues tell the story of the faith healer himself, with each of the three characters giving a different recollection of the same events.   ---Wikipedia

We had never attended a play as thought provoking as this. Because each part was a monologue, it required complete attention to the lines and silences and movements and expressions of these gifted actors. The intimate design of Theatre 2 in The MAC also enhanced this performance. We'll both remember and talk about this one for some time. Thanks, Greg & Jenny, for this fabulous gift! 

Lovin' Life ~~ Enhanced by Humor and Art

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Oh What a Storm!

After our all too brief respite from the heat yesterday morning, the temps climbed back into the 90s; I closed the windows and turned the air conditioning back on. And, this horrible summer weather continues. About 2:30 this morning, we were awakened by bright flashes of light followed closely by loud cracking booms piercing the nearly total darkness!

I decided to photograph the storm but my camera is simply too slow to catch those split second flashes. Here is my one in 114 shots...and I'm thrilled to have captured even one!

Another good shot is this one that captured the hail during a particularly long, bright lighting of the sky by multiple flashes of lightning.

Occasionally the sky looked like this during lightning flashes. You can see the torrential rain, the water standing on the fairway, and the waviness caused by rain running down the dining room window.

But the other 111 shots looked like this...giggle!

Lovin' Life ~~ But Not Summer Storms

Moments ~ Polish Dinner

Tuesday June 28, 2011

Remember the pierogi I made here with plans for a Polish dinner? On Sandee's last evening before returning home, we enjoyed them along with some of Joe & Frank's amazing smoked kielbasa and several other side dishes.

Lucky for me, I had kept a few of the frozen cheese pierogi and some kielbasa, which we had for dinner last night. Without further ado, I'll continue my tutorial on preparing pierogi, the way Rich's mom taught me.

After thawing, place in a skillet with a generous amount of melted butter and brown on both sides.

Just look at these beautiful pierogi!

I also had some of my favorite Scalloped Pineapple in the freezer which made a perfect accompaniment to the pierogi and kielbasa...oh my, what a feast we had last night!

Unfortunately, all of the photos that I took the evening of our Polish family dinner were bad. But, we all enjoyed the food...and even bad photos are good reminders of special times together.

Lovin' Life ~~ And Moments Together

Friday, July 22, 2011

Windows are Open!

Oh yes...finally...a break from the beastly heat and oppressive humidity! A storm passed through here a couple of hours ago...a perfect storm of dark clouds, wind, and blessed rain. The temp has dropped from yesterday's 100° to our current 74° which seems downright cool in comparison. 

After I went onto the deck to shoot this lovely scene, I opened windows to fill the house with natural air and listen to the chirping of birds.

This is not the first time I have wished for a way to capture the breeze, the smell, the sounds, the movement of trees and clouds, the pure pleasure of experiencing a quick change in the weather after a spell of extreme conditions.

Lovin' Life ~~ And Relief from the Heat

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Moments ~ An Ugly Flower

Thursday June 23, 2011

Shortly after arriving in Carlinville, we went to see Mom. She was so excited to see Sandee and her Arizona great-grands! It had been a year since they were there.

Today's Moment is about a flower. One of Mom's stories that evening was about the fresh flowers that the staff had placed on each table in the dining room. The ugliest flower she had ever seen was the one at the table where she sits. The crux of the story was that she and her tablemates decided to take matters into their own hands and they switched their flower with one from another table...gasp!

When the kids and I took a hike around the halls of her building, we made it our mission to check out the flowers in the dining room. We didn't have any trouble finding the one that starred in her story since all the others were fresh and soft and quite lovely...

We all agreed with their great-grandma that this was not a flower one would expect to find gracing a dining table!

Lovin' Life ~~ Finding the Ugly Flower!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Moments ~ Shelby & Dylan Dance

Wednesday June 29, 2011

There were so many fun & special Moments while the kids were here that I'm going to post some of them in a series by that name. 

While hanging out at the house, a song came on Jackson's I-Pod that Shelby's second grade class danced to at their school's talent show this past spring. She started dancing to show me their performance; I decided to film it. Well, by the third take Dylan was standing behind me doing an exaggerated version of her dance which caused her to fall into giggle-land. I asked him to step in front of the camera and dance along with her for the next take and here they are...

Lovin' Life ~~ And a Fun Dance

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Today I Am 62!

Ah yes, today is my birthday! The day began with a call from our daughter and then my next door BFF treated me to a long chatty breakfast...what a great way to start any day!

This afternoon I opened gifts and more cards. Are you excited to find out what's in these lovely gifts? I certainly was...two of them I had guessed correctly but the other two were a total surprise.

I won't keep you in suspense any longer. The first one I guessed was Janet Evanovich's latest Stephanie Plum book, a signed copy from our BFFs Deanne and Bill...hmmm...can you refer to a guy as a BFF? I wonder? The other one I guessed, which was from Sandee and family, was the recently released second album by David Cook. I LOVE his voice and the lyrics to the songs he records.

Now for the two surprises. Rich gave me a 500g USB drive which means that when we're on the road I'll have all my digital photos at hand. The biggest surprise of all though was the I Love You, Grandma book. Each page is read in the kids' voices with comments by them too. Oh my gosh...having their voices read to me, in this house that is oh-so-empty since they left, is an absolute treasure.

I'm not sure why, whether it is my camera or YouTube, but the sound on my movies is never great. Still, I wanted to make a movie of this book to share with all of you.  I hope you enjoy this half as much as I do every time I turn the pages of this beautiful book and hear their sweet voices!

But wait!! There's more!! In addition to all the cards and several e-mail greetings, I got calls from my mom, my sister, my brother, Bill & Deanne, a couple of  friends, and my precious grands! Thanks to all of you for making this such a special birthday!

Lovin' Life ~~ And My Happy Birthday!

Monday, July 18, 2011

We Partied on Sunday

Continuing the shameless promotion of my own 62nd birthday, I'll now share some photos from yesterday's celebration. By the time I returned from C'ville yesterday, Rich had planned and shopped for a birthday dinner. Joining us were Marianne, Greg, and Jenny. That earned him the featured spot in this post!

Just feast your eyes on this delectable appetizer of prosciutto wrapped shrimp that he prepared and then grilled! We also had grilled chicken breasts, baked beans, corn-on-the-cob, and my favorite Marianne-made potato salad...yum yum!

He even lighted candles on my favorite Turtle Pie.

I think all my wishes come true!

As though the company and meal weren't enough, I got sweet cards plus...

This sketch of their family room by Jenny. I had no idea she could draw!

Marianne gave me these bejeweled flips. Don't you be lookin' at those 62 year old feet; I just wanted you to see these darling flips.

Lovin' Life ~~ And Having Many Happy Birthdays!

Portraits ~ Me & My Kids

Here begins my shameless promotion of my own birthday. Tomorrow I will be 62 years old. Age by number has never bothered me because when I look back, there isn't much I would do over. The reason is that every step...the easy, the difficult, the seemingly impossible...has lead me to where I am today. And I love where I am today!

Down home this past weekend, I finally got to see the photos that my SIL took the day of Dylan's party. She took some great ones, but today I want to share some silly ones.

Here I am, looking all the world like myself...royal crown and all!

Here are my progeny...NOT looking like themselves at all.

Although...what is that saying about "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree"????

Lovin' Life ~~ And Silly Portraits

My Mom's Hair

I stayed with my mom from Thursday until yesterday morning. While there, we had her hairdresser cut her hair when she had her regular Friday appointment. For the past few years, Mom had let her hair go straight because she has great difficulty raising her arms to comb or fix it. She finally decided a few months ago to have her hair permed again. When she told this story to Joyce on Friday while getting her hair cut, I was reminded as to why she made this decision.

Her mom, my much-loved grandma, was a beautician for decades and always permed Mom's hair. Mom told Joyce that she decided to get it permed again so that her mother would recognize her when they meet again...aaaaaw. She knew that Mother would be mad that she had not kept up her beautifully silver-white hair.

When I saw her after her perm, my first comment was "Oh! You look like yourself again!" I've heard others make similar comments. Now this is what my mom looked like for years. I'm so glad that she has her hair curled again!

This is a photo taken at her birthday in January. She's right, Grandma would possibly not even recognize her.

Speaking of good lookin' relatives with silvery bro and SIL this past weekend.

I, too, have silver-white hair and always thought that I would let it go natural, like Mary's (and Wayne's too!), after retiring. Unfortunately, it is only white on the top and sides; the hair on the back of my head is still very dark brown...geesh.

Lovin' Life ~~ And Hair Talk

Thursday, July 14, 2011

They Have Left Us

After a most amazing three weeks, the kids have gone home. Here they're boarding their flight at 6:45 a.m. yesterday. They have left us with 2,910 photos; they have left us with priceless memories; they have left us with newly explored places; they have left us with uncountable giggles, antics, snuggles, opinions, ideas, etc; they have left us with an empty, too quiet house; they have left us with more love than one can imagine. 

What follows is a very brief recap, with but a few highlights of things we did the last two weeks of their visit, beginning with our trip to Michigan in the motorhome. We drove to our RV Park near South Haven on July 2nd and explored the area that evening.

Our first beach was at West Side County Park the next day. I think the kids were happily surprised at the waves and sand at Michigan beaches since their previous beach experiences were in California.

On July 4th we spent the day at Dutch Village in Holland. We do have "Cheesey Good Times!"

The kids each got to lead a goat around the park which was a riot to watch. More accurately, I should say that the goats led the kids around the park.

On July 5th the crowds had thinned considerably at South Haven Beach so we spent a few hours there. They love being in the water, even the chilly waters of Lake Michigan.

Near Kalamazoo there is a place called Air Zoo where we spent the afternoon on July 6th. It is a perfect combination of air museum with many planes on display and simple indoor rides for kids.

It was back to the beach on July 7th. Silver Beach in St. Joseph is a fabulous beach with a playground and clean, modern facilities. We had so much fun there that we stayed for nearly six hours.

Grandpa left to check on the girls and brought back lunch!

We returned from Michigan on the 8th and spent the next day at Morton Arboretum with Greg and Jenny, finishing the day with a swim at our pool.

Grandpa calls this the "hood ornament pose." Interestingly, I don't think they have ever asked what a hood ornament is...see "Cheesey Good Times" above...giggle!

Taking advantage of their weekend off, we spent the next day at Navy Pier so that Greg and Jenny could go there with us too.

Another beastly hot and humid day, after walking the length of the Pier we decided to visit the Children's Museum to cool off a bit while playing there. I am so glad we did! They have added the most amazing feature! They converted a large room into a fort-building mansion. Because it would take many, many words to describe, here are a few photos. We had a blast in several of the other rooms in this museum too, staying until it closed, but this was so unique.

We love parks and this new one at the village center has some fun equipment that we had not seen before so we went there a couple of times.

Of course we spent a lot of time at home too. We watched old home movies, ate breakfasts where they serve the best pancakes in the world, pored over photo albums, looked at their mom's sealed wedding gown, shopped for clothes and electronic games, followed America's Got Talent and Wipeout, played games, rode the bike through the house, went to the movies twice, had many cool conversations, did lots of snuggling, and played the lap harp. I'll close with a movie of our favorite rendition of You Are My Sunshine.

And now I'm off to Carlinville to spend a couple of days with my mom, brother, and SIL.

Lovin' Life ~~ With Our Grands