Spring Break, Part 2: Amarillo

We filled up our days with the Amarillo crew! Emery wanted to do a craft so I suggested my go-to project: pop-up cards.  Elle and I have made several so I feel a little bit accomplished in that one crafty area. LOL Emery and I found some Easter cards that looked pretty simple and we enjoyed working together.  We also played a matching game and she beat me 22 to 7.  That girl has a fabulous memory.  Or Gigi’s has really declined!  Grandpa taught them to play “Go” on his iPad and made some paper airplanes with Luke.

One day we all went bowling and had a blast.  Since there were so many of us, we only bowled one game; I felt like I was just getting warmed up and would have done better if we’d bowled another.  🙂  Bonnie won, of course–we always have to brag about her being a state champ when she was little. She will never live that down.  I was on tap to have the second highest score but Rich came back at the end and beat me by three pins.  Somehow my score did not get photographed with everyone else’s so I guess I could have claimed that I won.  🙂  As you can see, none of us are great bowlers!  Bonnie suggested Rich and I should join an old people’s league and make new friends.

Emery and Luke rode bikes and I pushed Ada in a stroller to the park near their house one evening.  I was a nervous wreck with them riding their bikes but we did okay!  They love to go to the park and had a good time playing, plus we met several people with dogs so they got to pet the dogs and throw a ball to one of them.  Always a bonus!  They met an older guy with one arm and that was also interesting. You never know what kids will say but he volunteered first, “I bet you’ve never met a man with only one arm!”  Luke tried to touch him and asked if the rest of his arm was inside his shirt.  I’m sure the man has fielded all sorts of questions from kids before because he was not the least bit bothered by any of it.  He asked them if they always wear their seatbelts because he lost his arm in a car wreck.  They were quite fascinated by that!

Another day, we went to the public library for a St. Patrick’s Day activity.  The kids had a great time doing more crafts,  joining a scavenger hunt, and the highlight of the day was supposed to be making “gold slime” at the final station.  Apparently the volunteers working there did not know how to make slime because no one’s would firm up.  Luckily the kids were not too disappointed and moved on to doing some coloring pages.  They checked out a bunch of books, then we had to read all the books when we got home.  I love it that they love to read, even if my eyes were starting to close by the time we got to the 5th or 6th book!  Emery is already a great reader in 2nd grade, reads with emotion and proper inflection and knows how to use punctuation as she reads.  I was also impressed with how well Luke knows his math facts (Kindergarten) and can add pretty big numbers in his head.  Ada is such a talker and showed me how she can print her name. I told her she’s lucky to have a short name with just two letters to learn. 🙂 They are all really smart kids and have funny personalities that keep us laughing.

I went with Bonnie to donate blood for one of her friends.  I used to donate pretty often when I lived in Abilene but we had nowhere to donate in Unalaska, so it had been many years.  They were happy to see me since I am O-Negative, universal donor.  We had a long wait since the blood center was busy (a good problem to have) so we were there a couple of hours.  Bonnie and David have been involved with the blood center since Emery was a baby and received some platelets while hospitalized for cancer.  There’s a really cute photo of Emery and another of her with her parents along the wall at the facility (along with other kids the center has helped). Made me kinda teary-eyed to remember those scary days.

Our last night, we stayed with the kids while Bonnie and David went to dinner and an overnight stay at a B&B for their 13th anniversary.  We told the kids it was PWP Night (Party without Parents); we ordered pizza, had ice cream, watched a movie, played Mexican Train and Rack-o, and read books in bed. We let them stay up late which was probably a good move because they all went to sleep pretty quickly and slept through the night.  Bonnie and David returned the next morning and we headed back to Dallas.  It was a quick trip but a good time, as always!

And you never know what you’ll see at a pit stop on the way home.


Spring Break

We usually get Aidan and Ally for Spring Break but this year they went to Corey’s grandmother’s so we were a little bit at loose ends! Sarah and Miles were going out of town with friends so we decided to go to Amarillo to see Bonnie and David.  But first, our friends Susan and Randy came in from Mississippi to spend the night with us on their way to see Susan’s mom.  We had a great time hanging out and catching up. They are some of my dearest friends from way back in my Abilene days when Susan and I were doing social work, raising kids, planning subversive activities in conservative West Texas, and supporting each other through our ups and downs.  Since we’ve been in Dallas, we haven’t managed to see each other as much as we thought we would because that thing called life keeps getting in the way.  Hopefully it won’t be as long till our next get-together.  So glad they came to see us!


Before Sarah and Miles left town, we picked up the boys and took them for a treat at the new frozen yogurt place near their house. The kids are silly and we always enjoy our time with them.


I’m a fan of the podcast “Pod Save America” and we had tickets for a live show here in Dallas last night.  So great to hear intelligent discussion about the state of our government, along with some really funny stuff too.  Have a listen if you haven’t heard it before!  Here’s a link.


March, So Far

We voted in the Democratic primary and took Jack along as he was staying with us that day.  Doing our part to turn Texas blue.  Or at least purplish.  🙂  Stopped by the garden and then came back to our place to play for awhile.


I’ve so enjoyed watching Elle play volleyball this season. The whole team has really grown and improved in their skills. We watched her final tournament, in which her team took 2nd place against older, bigger girls and showed a lot of heart and determination, plus some amazing plays. So proud of these Emoji Aces!


Workday in the community garden is always fun because we get to visit with more of our fellow gardeners and spruce things up in the common areas.  I worked in the butterfly garden while Rich helped haul wheelbarrows full of mulch.  We were both pretty tired by the time we got home, but hurray for a good workout!


My brother Joe, sister in law Denise, daughter Ellie, her husband Blane, and Blane’s dad came through town so we all had a great dinner by Rich at Sarah’s and a lot of laughs with all.


Granddaughter Ally turned 11 years old, hard to believe! She is a sweet, chatty girl who is very outgoing and makes friends wherever she may be. She has a kind heart and a big smile for everyone! She’s silly and sassy, smart and funny, great at reading, basketball and softball, not to mention beating us regularly at board games. We love it when she comes to stay with us and she’s one of our best travel partners ever! We love you, Ally!


This Kid!

Jack is our youngest grandchild, 3 1/2 years old now.  We probably spend more time with him than any of the grandkids and we’ve been a steady presence in his life since he was a baby so he is quite used to hanging out with Gigi and Grandpa.  He is a sweet boy with a very happy attitude and the best smile.  He’s become quite talkative and a little jokester as well, keeping us laughing with his comments and silly antics.  Since he was pretty little, he’s been very interested in sports and is weirdly talented in any sport he tries.  Until now, he hasn’t been old enough to play organized sports but loves playing with his older siblings any chance he gets.  Now he is signed up for 3 year old soccer.  Check out this picture!  I am cracking up!


Morikami Japanese Garden and Museum

On my last full day in FL, I decided to take a Lyft to the Morikami Japanese Garden for the day.  My driver was a nice enough guy but did not speak any English so we had a bit of a language barrier.  He wasn’t sure where to go, found the garden, but entered on a service road where we almost got creamed by a semi truck coming out. That was fun!  He dropped me and I had to climb under a fence to get into the main building.  But no worries, all was well in the end!

The sun was shining and it was a lovely day wandering around the gardens.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and finished it with a stroll through the museum and great lunch in the cafe.  I was interested to see that it is rated one of the top museum cafes in the nation!  I can see why–the food was amazing.  In fact, I wanted more! Read more about the garden here.


My driver back to the hotel was a reasonable white guy so I told Rich that his team was redeemed after the other night. haha

Kathi and I went back to the Atlantic Ave area for dinner at a place called 32 East, where we had some pizza and arugula salad, both delicious.  We enjoyed chatting with our server who was from Haiti and had the most positive attitude!


On one of my Lyft rides, I had seen a train speeding by and asked my driver where the train went.  He said “lots of places.” I asked if it went to the Fort Lauderdale airport and he said yes.  So I looked it up and found that there was a station very close to the hotel and it was only $5 to get to the airport. Score!  Much better than paying another $40 on Lyft. I made arrangements with the hotel to take the shuttle over to the train station the next morning.  Kathi and I had a pleasant last night in the hotel and then said our goodbyes the next day as she still had another half day of training and I had to leave in the AM to catch my plane. I’m really glad she invited me and had such a nice relaxing time!

The shuttle took me to the station the next morning and I purchased my ticket for the train.  As the departure time approached, we started hearing messages over the loudspeaker that the train was delayed 35-40 minutes.  I had allowed several hours but certainly did not count on any big delays!  I eventually asked one of the transit officers what I should do and he seemed to think I would still be “okay.”  He gave me an 800 number to call, which I did, and was told the train was on its way and should be at our station in a few more minutes so I stuck it out.  It did arrive soon after and we all loaded up. Another thing I didn’t realize was that the train did not go right into the airport but to a station about 15 minutes away and we all had to get on a shuttle bus. By then I was a little anxious but thought I still had plenty of time.  Thankfully, this was true and I made it through security with time to spare; even had time to get a tea and a snack before boarding.  The flight home was good and Rich was there to pick me up.  It’s always nice to get back home!

Sunny Florida

Day Two I went down to our free breakfast with Kathi before her training, then returned to the room and went back to sleep for a little while.  Hey, it’s vacation, right?  Eventually got up and showered and dressed and decided to go out exploring a little bit. I stopped at the desk to ask how far the shuttle would take me and basically it was just to a nearby mall or a beach.  We have malls in Dallas and I am not that interested in spending my day at a mall! Didn’t really want to go to the beach by myself so I did a little research and found an area called Mizner Park, an open air shopping/eating area not too far from the hotel.  Called for another Lyft and spent a few hours wandering around, and some lunch,  looked at some cool little shops, and got a ride back to the hotel a little before Kathi would be finished.  I met some of the nicest people driving for Lyft.   On my ride to Mizner Park, I had a woman from India who had her 6th grade son with her because she’d had to pick him up from school for an appointment.  She was lovely and was working three jobs to make ends meet along with her husband.  They have another son with special needs and her 6th grade son (who’s doing 9th grade work) wants to be a pediatric neurosurgeon so he can help kids like his brother.  He was very smart and polite and friendly and I have no doubt he will go far in life.  I was so touched by their stories that I felt like I wanted to do something nice for them. After getting out of the car, I went into the app and was going to leave her a $100 tip but the crazy app would not let me leave more than 200% of the ride. I was so annoyed. So I left her the max but I felt sad that I couldn’t do more.  Dang it!

On the way home, my driver was a  lovely man from Jamaica who talked on the phone with his 9 year old son for a moment and it was just so sweet.  His son asked him to bring him home some ice cream and he said, “Now, son, you continue with your homework please and if you get it finished, I will bring you some ice cream when I come home. I love you, son.”  He spoke to me with such pride about his children and about studying to be a nurse himself.

After returning to the hotel, Kathi and I made reservations at a place I’d read about called Dada near Atlantic Ave in Delray Beach, one of the places we wanted to visit.  We called another Lyft and this time we got a crazy old white dude who had a 2nd amendment fetish and was lecturing us while driving like a maniac.  He was so caught up in his diatribe that he missed our exit and then he had to speed faster to try to make up the time since I told him we had a reservation.  Seriously, I was texting with Rich back home telling him all about it and that I hoped we made it to the restaurant!  Eventually we did and he apologized and we said “no worries,” but I was glad to get out of that car and did not give him the best rating.  🙂   Dinner at Dada was fabulous–the restaurant was in a cool old house and it was packed inside and out so I was glad we got a reservation.  After stuffing ourselves, we walked around Atlantic Ave for awhile.  By then we both had to pee really badly and couldn’t find a public restroom.  We finally stopped at a Starbucks because I told Kathi “you can always use the bathroom there.”  Well, of course this one had a sign that the restroom was for customers only and it was locked.  I took one for the team and ordered ANOTHER iced tea that I did not need and we were given the code for the bathroom.  We walked to an un-crowded area and called for a Lyft, where we were picked up by a neat guy named Fernando who took us back to the hotel without incident.  🙂


Trip to Boca Raton

My sister was invited to take part in a training put on by the Anti-Defamation League in Boca Raton, FL.  She messaged me and asked if I wanted to tag along and keep her company: she had a free hotel room I could share and I had enough miles between Southwest Air and Alaska Air to fly round trip.  So why not?   A little vacay in sunny Florida seemed like fun to me!

I was flying out of Love Field on Southwest at 9:20 in the morning and received a message that lines in security were going slowly so please allow the full two hours.  Ugh, I am not an early morning fan, but set my alarm and got up and dressed in time to allow for traffic and arrive at the airport at 7:20.  Rich dropped me off and I had TSA Pre-Check so I went through security in about 5 minutes.  Now I had almost two hours to kill, or so I thought, until I received a text from Southwest saying my flight was delayed till 10:30.  LOL  I could have slept in!

So I found some breakfast and a seat at my gate and finally loaded up to leave around 10:15.  It was a little bumpy taking off but not bad (since I have been desensitized by flying in and out of the Aleutian Islands for years), leveled off for most of the flight and then was very bumpy again coming into Ft. Lauderdale.  But we landed okay and I saw a Starbucks as I was walking to baggage claim so I decided to get an iced tea before getting my suitcase since I had about a 45 minute ride to the hotel.  While I was in line at Starbucks, a pilot walked up behind me so I said hello and asked him if he was in a hurry  because I would have let him go ahead of me if he needed to be somewhere quickly. He said no, he learned not to hurry a long time ago.  I told him that was a good philosophy especially in his line of work where I preferred that he be very methodical about doing his job.  🙂  He asked me where I was going and I said I had just landed and was on my way to baggage claim.  I asked him where he was going and he said “Houston.” I said, “Oh, I just came in from Dallas,” which led him to figure out that he had been my pilot.  I told him thanks for getting me there safely and it had been a little bumpy but I just kept telling myself, “it’s like riding in a car on a bumpy road.”  He laughed and I thought he was going to say it wasn’t that bad but he agreed “It was pretty bumpy out there today!” At some point I had ordered my tea and then he stepped up to the counter, ordered a coffee, and told the barista that he would pay for both.  He told me, “That’s an apology for the delay out of Dallas and the bumpy ride.” So nice! I told him we had to take a selfie but I took it too quickly and it’s pretty blurry.  Still, great to know there are kindhearted people out there–thanks, SW Pilot whose Name I Failed to Get.

With my free tea in hand, I got my bag and headed out to the “ride share” lot to get a Lyft over to Boca Raton.  I have to say I felt bad for all the taxi drivers sitting there waiting for a fare while we all got into Ubers and Lyfts. I can understand why taxis are not happy about this new sharing economy.  My driver was a lovely woman from Venezuela and we chatted a bit as we made our way through lots of traffic and a few wrecks before arriving at the hotel. Kathi was already in her conference but she’d left me a key at the desk and I went up to the room to relax and wait for her return.

That night we joined her fellow conferees for dinner at a great farm to table restaurant in Boca Raton and then retired for the evening in our room. We were laughing about sharing a bed as we used to do when we were young kids and would fight over who was on whose side of the bed, who was touching whom,  who was scaring whom and who was tattling to Mom.