Happy Birthday, Miles, and Back to School for the Kids

Our son in law Miles turned 40 on August 19.  I know it’s a cliche but I really cannot believe he is 40!  He and Sarah went to high school together and I knew who he was back then but didn’t really get to know him well till they were in college. Still, I have known him for more than 20 years now and he has been a part of our family for almost that long.  We are pretty big buddies and have great conversations about many topics.  He is smart, talented, funny, hard working, a great dad, and an all round good guy.  Happy birthday, Miles! We love you!

Summer is over and the grandkids have started a new school year.  Well, technically, Jack has not gone back to preschool yet–his doesn’t start till after Labor Day. We have a 9th grader, two 5th graders, a 3rd grader, a 2nd grader, a 1st grader, and two in 4-year-old preschool.  So far, so good; everyone reports liking their teachers and enjoying school at the moment!  Oh, and it’s son in law David’s 14th year teaching economics at Amarillo High! Here’s to a great year for all!

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One Last Hurrah before School Starts

Two days after I got back from Seattle, we went to Clyde TX to get Aidan and Ally for one more visit before summer was over.  We picked them up, stopped for lunch, and headed back to Dallas in a driving rainstorm.  I hate having to be on the road when it’s pouring down rain and visibility is poor, especially because people seem to drive like maniacs. But we made it!

 

We had a great week, as always. The first several days were spent with the Dallas cousins, playing at our house or theirs, swimming, eating together, a couple of sleepovers, lots of games, baking cupcakes, went to the park, took a little hike through the woods, Sarah and I took the younger ones to see “Christopher Robin” and all enjoyed that while Rich and Aidan stayed home and watched “older” movies on TV.  They also went to see the new “Mission Impossible” another day while the rest of us hung out.

Toward the end of the week, Elle and Miles went to Oklahoma for a soccer tournament so Ally and I went to get pedicures to cheer her up for Elle being gone.  🙂  We went to the same salon near our house where we’d taken Sarah and Bonnie’s girls a few weeks before.  I asked the man in the front if I could get a pedicure and Ally could get a “kid’s” pedicure.  He said yes and told us to go pick out our polish. A few minutes later, he approached us and asked, “How old is she?”  I said “11” and he said, “She looks like an adult.”  What in the world!!  She does not look like an adult!  I told him no, she is a kid, and he acted like I was trying to rip  him off.  He then brought me the price list which showed children’s pedicures for kids 10 and under.  Okay, sorry, I didn’t realize that, so just give her a regular pedicure!  Then we went to sit down and the tech started to remove Ally’s nail polish and realized it was “gel.”  Well, I had no idea about this either! Apparently her great grandmother (Corey’s grandma) had taken her for a pedicure a few weeks earlier and they got the gel polish. And apparently it is a big hassle to remove it so I was really on the salon’s sh#$% list by then. I was sitting there wondering how much this was gonna cost me!  Finally we were finished and I was pleasantly surprised to see they did not charge me for removing the gel polish at least. I guess it was a small consolation for having to pay for a full price pedicure instead of a (10 and under!) kids’ one.  🙂

 

We had been looking for something fun to do with the kids and came across the Texas State Railroad, an historic steam engine that runs from Rusk TX to Palestine TX.  Rich and I thought it would be interesting and the kids were agreeable so we drove to Jacksonville the night before, spent the night in a hotel, and caught the train the next morning. Before boarding, we took a little tour of the engine and the kids posed for photos.  The train ride itself was a bit less interesting than we had anticipated.  The tracks run through the Piney Woods which are pretty but there was little to see except trees all around and an occasional clearing.  Luckily there was a snack bar onboard so the kids got drinks and snacks and that killed some time.  🙂  We arrived at the Palestine station and had an hour’s layover to look around and have some lunch.  The line for lunch was a mile long and everything was very pricy so we convinced the kids to have another snack on the train and we’d get a late lunch afterwards. 🙂  The train finally left to return to Rusk, the kids had more snacks, and I have to admit that we all took a nap on the return.

 

We stopped at Pizza Hut and had pizza and salad bar before driving home to Dallas. It was a nice little change of scenery and a peaceful day and the kids were sweet about it even though I don’t think they had a fabulous time.  It was our last night with the kids so we played games and chatted and then got up the next day to take them halfway home to hand them off to their dad.

 

It was another good visit and we are always sad to see them go.

Cousin friends

I love this picture so much that I am giving it its own post.  I know Ally loves to come stay with us but part of the reason (okay, maybe the main reason) is that she gets to hang out with Elle. These girls have so much fun together and I thought this was a super cute photo of them.  Elle (on the left) is 10 and Ally is 11.   Aren’t they adorable?  And sweet, kindhearted, funny, talented girls, too.39208329_10212217006836792_8720406232344559616_n

Off to Seattle

My friend Tammy still lives in Alaska but comes to the lower 48 for a good bit of the summer.  Last year we met in Oklahoma after she visited her father in Missouri but this year we both had crazy schedules and it looked like we weren’t going to be able to get together.  She said she was going to be in Seattle for a little bit and why didn’t I try to come up and meet her there?  I thought it would be too difficult and/or pricy but managed to find mileage tickets on good ole Alaska Airlines so I booked my flights and went up to see her for a few days.  We had a great time just hanging out and talking about life.

Flying out I was at the very back of the plane and the toilets stunk to high heaven from the beginning. I don’t know if the plane had already flown somewhere else that day or if there was some sort of problem, but it was very stinky. I was seated on the aisle and the middle seat was empty, with a young man who looked maybe 13 in the window seat. The rest of his family were sitting behind us.  He was wearing shorts and flip flops and commented that the plane was hot. I told him it would probably cool off when it got started and a lot of times it is really cold on planes which is why I carried my blanket with me. He looked at me like I was a little crazy but then it did get really cold and  he commented later that he was freezing.  He put on a hoodie but no long pants.  Much to my surprise, with about 30 minutes left on the flight, he moved to the middle seat, put on his seat belt and asked if he could share my blanket! I was kinda taken aback by it and had recently been reading articles about women being molested on planes so my mind was going a mile a minute thinking it through.  On the one hand, he was just a kid and innocent, right? On the other hand, it just seemed awkward!  I started to just give him my blanket but I was cold myself so I did pass some of it over to him and let him share it. Thankfully he kept his hands on the outside!  I hate to be suspicious but you just never know! And then I felt bad for feeling suspicious.  Luckily all was fine and we landed soon!

I didn’t get in till after 4 PM so the first night we went to eat Thai food and then took about an hour’s walk around Tammy’s neighborhood before settling into her condo.  The second day we decided to take the Light Rail to the University of Washington station and then walk another mile and a half to the Japanese Gardens.  The Light Rail is great and we were happy not to have to drive. On the other hand, it was already hot when we got off and we were sweaty and tired by the time we arrived at the gardens. What were we thinking?! The gardens were pretty but I imagine more colorful and lush in the spring. Of course, here we were, walking around some more in the heat! We definitely got our exercise that day. We decided we were NOT walking back to the train station and we were hungry so we took a Lyft to a place called the Skillet Grill for a late lunch. Really cute diner type place and we enjoyed our food. Meanwhile, Tammy had texted her son Jack who lives in Seattle and he said some other friends, Derick and Hannah, were visiting him so maybe they could meet up with us after lunch. Derick and Jack grew up together in Unalaska and I knew both of them when they were kids…now they are 20-somethings.  Hannah is Derick’s girlfriend whom I had met once when she came to Unalaska with him to work for the summer. It was a nice surprise to get to see all three of them and catch up on their lives. After our visit, Tammy and I walked to another train station, passing by the statue of Jimi Hendrix.  Pearl Jam was in town doing two benefit concerts to combat homelessness but they were sold out and we didn’t have the energy to go to the stadium and wrangle with scalpers.  Sure would have liked to have seen them, though!

The next day we were tired and slept in; it was hot again so we decided to go to a movie instead of venturing outside for long.  Then had some Mexican food for dinner and called it a night! My last day there, we had arranged to have lunch with several friends and my cousin so we left the condo early, rode the Light Rail to the waterfront area and walked a few more blocks to Ivar’s Acres of Clams.  It was great fun catching up with my friend and former coworker Pipa, who now lives in the area, our cruise friends Linda and Ed who came over on the ferry from Sequim, and my cousin Rob who lives in Seattle.  Rob has autism but is very gregarious and knowledgeable about a number of topics so he fit right in and made friends with everyone over lunch. We then walked to Pike’s Place Market and wandered around a bit while visiting some more. Rob had to leave for an appointment and soon after that we walked Linda and Ed back to the ferry so they could return home. Pipa hung out with us for a couple more hours and we enjoyed catching up on everyone we knew back in Alaska, had a snack and some tea at Top Pot Donuts, then found another former Alaska “youngster,” Emma, at her place of employment and visited with her for awhile. We missed a few friends who couldn’t make it but I was super happy to get to see the ones I did!

I had a late night flight to return to Dallas and we were sitting around Tammy’s condo waiting to go to the airport when she got a text from another friend saying someone had just hijacked a plane from SEA TAC and the airport was shut down! What in the world! Tammy doesn’t have a TV so we started searching on the internet and could find very little information. Meanwhile we were semi-panicky because her condo is RIGHT by the airport in the flight pattern and we were half afraid this guy might fly the plane into the condo development or crash into it.  I called Rich and asked if he’d seen any news about this and he had not. I don’t think he thought it was real at first because he flipped through the channels and couldn’t find anything. He looked online and we all found some vague stories without much detail. Our friend texted Tammy several more times saying that fighter jets had been scrambled and then that the plane had crashed or been shot down. We then heard that the airport was open for take offs but had a backlog of planes trying to land. Eventually we decided we should go on over and try to see if my plane was going or not.  It was super weird and we were a little freaked out, that is for sure.  There was a lot of traffic piled up around the airport but we eventually got in and I went to check on my flight. I had told Tammy if it was delayed too much, I was just gonna see if they’d let me rebook for the next day. She said she would circle around and wait to hear from me. When I got to the desk, I was told we were “on time” and only Alaska Air was delayed so I decided to go ahead and try to get home. Went to my gate and there were no seats at all. There were lines everywhere of people waiting for customer service to rebook their flights.  We actually boarded on time but sat at the gate for another hour. The pilot came on and said he assumed we had all heard about “the incident earlier” and that we were delayed because the baggage handlers had a big stack of bags they were trying to get to various airplanes.  I was sitting next to a cute kid from Alaska who was on his way to college in Colorado–he said he had flown in from Anchorage earlier and sat on the tarmac for three hours while they waited to deplane. (Thankfully he didn’t ask to share my blanket!) Eventually we took off and made it to Dallas at 7 AM, about an hour late, so it could have been a lot worse. Rich was there to pick me up and we came  home and went to bed since neither of us got much sleep overnight.

I was really sad to hear the recordings of the guy who took the plane; it sounded like he was struggling and I wish he had been able to get some help before ending his life this way.  Very thankful no one else was hurt.  Although that was a very surreal ending to my trip, I had a lovely time and it was a nice respite from my busy days here.

 

Amarillo Crew Comes to Town

Bonnie and her college roommates/track teammates planned a little reunion getaway to Austin so we agreed to keep her kids while she was gone. She came a few days early and hung out with us and the Dallas gang before going on her trip.  Susan and Corey also came into town one day so they stayed and had dinner with us.  It was the first time in ages I had all three of my girls together in one place. That makes for a happy mama!

Swimming with cousins, pedicures and Steel City Pops for the girls

Playing at cousins’ house, lots more swimming, sleepovers

Birthdays

My daughter Sarah’s birthday was July 28 and Miles invited us all out to brunch to celebrate.  A couple of days later, Rich cooked a lovely meal at our house and their family came over to join us.  Happy birthday to Sarah, who is kind, smart, funny, and beautiful inside and out! We love her bunches.

Granddaughter Ada turned 4 on August 11.  She is smart and sassy and full of life, a talker and a thinker and an explainer of important ideas, a singer and a dancer and a happy, joyful girl. We’ve had lots of fun with her this year, playing games, reading books, taking walks to the park, swimming, talking about all kinds of topics, and laughing at the things she comes up with. We can’t wait to see what the next year brings! We sure do love this little girl. Happy birthday, Ada!