Happy Birthday, Sarah!

Yesterday was my first-born’s birthday.  My life was sweetly changed when I became a mother to a little girl so full of life and joy and sassiness. I am proud to be her mom, proud of all she’s done through the years, and proud to watch her parent her own kids on an almost daily basis. She is loving and compassionate, kind and caring, lots of fun, and a wonderful example to her little ones about how to treat others. We have great talks about all kinds of interesting and sometimes hard stuff; she is hilarious and regularly cracks me up with her stories; I have a big time hanging out with her and I couldn’t be more grateful that we live in the same town where I get to be involved in life with her, Miles and the kids. It’s really been a blessing to be close by and to make up for lost time after all those years far away in Alaska.  Now if we could only get her sisters and their families to join us in Dallas, life would be complete!  Happy birthday, Sarah! We love you!


Earlier in the day, I took Ally, Aidan and Elle to “Altitude,” one of those trampoline jumping places and they had a good time wearing themselves out.  We then brought Elle back home because her family was going to Beck’s closing ceremonies for the day camp he’s been attending all week.  Ally was invited to go with them so Aidan and I headed back home.

Later, Rich, Aidan and I met Sarah, Miles and the rest of the kids for dinner at Ida Claire (cute southern name for a restaurant, huh?) to celebrate Sarah’s birthday.  We enjoyed our meal and had a great time visiting with everyone.  Miles left early to take Elle to soccer practice with Ally in tow; he later called back to say practice had apparently been cancelled and they were going home.  Ally then spent the night with Elle and Beck came home with us for the night.


Aidan and Beck swam and then watched “The BFG” before bedtime.  This morning I picked up Ally and Jack at Sarah’s house and brought them over to ours.  Sarah and Miles are having a little weekend getaway for her birthday and Elle has gone to her other grandparents’ for a visit so Rich and I will have Beck and Jack along with Aidan and Ally for a couple of days. We are staying at Sarah’s since there’s more room and all of the boys’ stuff is more handy here.

Bonnie and her three kids arrive either tomorrow night or Monday morning, so we will have all 8 grandkids here for a couple of days overlap. That should be a blast for all and I am hoping against hope I might get a group photo since those are very hard to come by!

How’s your weekend going?

Movie, Library, Book Store, Swim

As promised, Ally and I picked Elle up a little after 11 AM and set out for the movie theater to see “Despicable Me 3.”  The girls enjoyed it and I think I might have dozed off a couple of times. LOL

After the movie we drove to the library to get some books.  This brought up many happy memories of my own times spent in libraries as a kid. When we lived on an Air Force base in Germany, our family regularly went to the library after church every Sunday to check out our books for the week.  I can remember walking up and down the rows in the kids’ section, seeing so many titles or cover art that caught my eye and having a hard time narrowing it down to decide which ones to check out.  I can still picture myself with a huge stack of books in my arms and my mom telling me to “put some back for next time!”

My mom loved to read and we inherited old Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books from my grandparents; we read books of poetry and fairy tales, biographies and story books; my mom had us recite poems to her and write our own stories.  The headboard on my parents’ bed contained a bookcase,  full of interesting volumes that I was not yet old enough to browse (except for The Lives of the Saints, which I did get to read cover to cover).  I would sometimes nap or rest in their bed, staring at all of the titles and wondering what the books were about.  Funny, I can still remember some of them, this many years later:  Profiles in Courage, PT109 (They were Catholics and thus JFK fans), one called Below the Salt, (I always wondered what that meant…now I know), and some James Bond novels.  🙂 We also had a huge set of encyclopedia, which I loved looking through and was grateful to have when I was older and had to write reports for school.  But going to the library and finding something new and different was always such a joy.

When my own girls were young, we often went to the downtown library to find books to bring home, even though we had more books than we knew what to do with.  I loved passing that tradition along to them and they all loved books when they were little, being read to before they could read and then reading on their own. We were also premium members of the Overdue Club.  I am not sure why we could never seem to return our books on time but we were always in arrears.  🙂   Once they started school and began using the library there, alas, our trips to the public library slowed down quite a bit.

Needless to say, I feel that libraries are so important for all of us but especially for people who cannot afford to buy books of their own.  These days libraries also provide computer services and classes and free lunches for kids and after school activities and more. I even read about librarians in Philadelphia who are trained to administer Narcan because so many people are overdosing on opioids on their grounds or even inside the library itself. Now that is probably something they never imagined they’d have to do when they were studying library science.  And here in Dallas, people who are homeless are welcomed into the central library instead of being treated as a nuisance. As a former social worker,  I was happy to see that some libraries are now employing social workers to assist patrons who may need services beyond the library’s offerings.  Libraries have been on the forefront of meeting the challenges of a changing society.  I hope they will always be with us.

Back to our day!

We found a couple of books that Ally wanted and looked around the library a bit.  Both girls were searching for a graphic novel which was not available so we decided to stop in at Half Price Books.  Unfortunately, they did not have the particular book that Elle was looking for, either, so our next stop was Barnes and Noble, which (of course) has everything imaginable and both girls were allowed to find one book for Gigi to buy.  By then we were all parched so we got smoothies and iced tea from the Starbucks inside.

Back to our house afterwards, where the girls swam for an hour till Sarah came to get Elle.   These cousins are so cute and I enjoyed listening to them talk about the books they are reading, school starting back up, friends, things they like to do.  What a fun day we had!


Last night we had dinner at Sarah and Miles’, the kids swam and played, and Ally and Elle conspired to get Mom/Aunt Sarah to consent to letting Ally spend the night.  Aidan came home with us and we played games till bedtime.  This morning the girls got up and swam some more, then Elle had an appointment so I went to get Ally and Jack (Beck is at day camp all week).

The kids kept Jack amused, we all had lunch including Grandpa’s home made cookies (yum), then Aidan and Grandpa went to the movies while Ally and I stayed home with Jack, who needed a nap.  While he was asleep, Ally and I played a long game of Rack-o and she watched a little TV, then we drove Jack home after he woke up.

Rich made spaghetti for dinner and the kids swam.  I reminded Aidan about his Kahn Academy math work and his reading for the public library summer challenge, which made Ally interested in both.  After showers, they both read books and did some math problems before bed.  Ally was really into it and asked to go to the library tomorrow to pick up some more chapter books. That does my heart good.

We are having girls’ day tomorrow since the guys got to do something today.  We are picking up Elle in the morning and going to see Despicable Me 3 because it’s the only kids’ movie playing and Ally hasn’t seen it yet.  I wasn’t that crazy about it the first time but I guess I am seeing it again, and Elle is going for the second time so she can see it with Ally.  🙂  Elle has a tennis lesson, so after we take her home we will go to the library and look for some books on our list that we made tonight.

I have a little bit of a scratchy throat–sure hope I am not coming down with something!

Let the Summer Fun Continue

Yesterday we drove  halfway to meet Susan and pick up Aidan and Ally. For once, the traffic was not bad and we made good time.  Great to see Susan and chat for a little bit before heading back to Dallas.  After we got to the house and unloaded, we went over to Sarah’s so they could see their cousins.  They always have a big time together!  Sarah is feeling better, though still a little weak.  Hopefully she will be 100% soon!

Kid Stuff

My daughter Sarah has been having some medical issues so we’ve helped with the kids a bit lately. She ended up having her appendix out on Friday! Hopefully she will be feeling better soon.  Elle has been away at camp for the past week but we enjoyed having some time with Beck and Jack.  Beck and I played a few games of checkers and then he wanted to learn how to play chess so Grandpa took over.  Although a few people in my life have tried to teach me chess before, I never really learned the game.  I think it’s great that Beck is interested.  And my 66 cent bowling set from the thrift store was a big hit with both boys–anything to make noise and knock things around, right?!  🙂

Miles and Beck went to get Elle at camp on Saturday so I stayed with Sarah to help with Jack and make sure she didn’t need anything.  Elle had a fabulous time at camp and we were all happy to see her after a week away!

Tomorrow we are driving halfway to pick up Aidan and Ally so the summer fun continues!

Weekend Update

I haven’t done one of these in awhile.  When you’re retired, sometimes the weekdays and the weekends run together and you don’t remember it’s the weekend till it’s gone.  Other times the weekend is just too busy to sit down and gather your thoughts and post anything at all.  And sometimes the new neighbors next door are having a very very very loud party in the back yard on a Saturday night and you want to be friendly and welcoming and not a crotchety old lady and so you don’t say anything even though it’s super annoying to have to listen to a bunch of whooping and hollering at 12:46 AM.  You wonder what in the world they are finding they have to yell about at this hour. Seriously, have fun, kids, but don’t yell so loudly that I can hear you even with my windows and doors shut, the air conditioner on, and the TV turned up to something like 45 on the volume-0-meter (hubby’s doing; I will just place the blame on him right here and now).

So since I am still up enjoying the party to which I was not invited, I think I will do a weekend update.  Here ya go.

I haven’t done much with Refugee Services lately–they haven’t had a lot of tasks listed on the weekly opportunity email and I think perhaps the numbers of refugees have diminished. I’m hopeful to do something again soon. Meanwhile, here are some books that look like interesting reading.

Sad that this brilliant woman’s life was cut so short.

A fun story from my former hometown.

I’m in a tizzy about the health care bill.  If you think you will never need Medicaid, read this.

Or this.

Awesome. Watch! 

Great books for encouraging kindness in kids.

I love this guy. Wish I lived in Wisconsin so I could vote for him.

Odd.  But amusing.  Or amusing but odd.  Whatever.

Happy weekend, everyone.  Sleep well while the partiers party on.





Hot Days of Summer

We took Elle, Beck and Jack to see “Despicable Me 3,” then Beck and Jack came to our house to swim for awhile when Elle went on to soccer practice.  They loved the movie, though I have to admit I am not a big fan of animated shows and some are definitely more lame than others.  🙂   The boys had a blast in the pool and Grandpa got in with them for a little bit while Ajax and I watched from the sidelines.

This photo popped up as my Facebook “memory” for the day on the 13th, taken in 2009.  Yes, in Unalaska I often wore hoodies and hats in July!  My, how things have changed!


I’ve been wanting some outdoor furniture for the front porch and kept looking at sets but didn’t want to spend the money. Imagine my delight when Sarah and Bonnie and their families bought this cute ensemble for Rich and me for our birthdays.  I think I will enjoy it a little more around September and October, though!



There are 31 first cousins in my generation of my father’s family.  My dad was the youngest of 8, well, really 9 because one child (Robert) died as a baby.  There were five females: Elizabeth (Liz), twins Jane and Catherine (Cass), Mary, and Teresa and three males: Harry Kirby, known as Kirby, George, and my dad Joseph (Joe).  They had a rough life growing up; my father’s mother died when he was a baby and his older sisters helped raise him and his next older brother, George.  Their father married a woman with children of her own and according to family lore, life became the stuff of cliched fiction with the stepmother favoring her own kids and leaving the stepkids to fend for themselves.  One story states that she would often get upset with the youngest two boys and sit them out on the front stoop with their belongings so one of the married sisters would come and get them. As an older adolescent, my dad lived with my Aunt Jane and Uncle Charles till he joined the Air Force at the tender age of 17. Now most of these family members are gone except for Teresa, Mary and George.  My dad died first, at the very young age of 42, from lung cancer. The rest have passed on as they became older and suffered health issues.  I really miss all of them and have fond memories of that generation of “Rices.” It makes me sad to know that there is so much information and history that is lost to us and I wish I had taken the time to learn more from my dad, aunts, and uncles when we were all younger. Here are a few recent pics of just a handful of relations.



Most of my cousins grew up in New Jersey, some within a few miles or a backyard of each other, while my family lived a nomadic Air Force life, only returning to New Jersey on vacations and between assignments.  We also had our “Chicago cousins” —  Cass’ eight kids, whom we only saw rarely, and Uncle George’s kids who lived in Utah so we hardly knew them at all.  But mostly I remember the NJ cousins and as a kid I was quite envious that some of my cousins seemed to be best friends and did a lot together, while we were the outsiders who only came to visit on occasion.

Over the years we’ve had a few reunions that many of us attended and I regularly see many of the NJ cousins to this day when I return to see my mom.  We aren’t the best at keeping in touch but thankfully some of us are on Facebook and get to follow each other’s lives a little bit that way.  And sadly we are all getting older and we have already lost a few cousins.

Recently my sister let me know that one of our cousins and his family were coming to San Antonio because their son was completing basic training in the Air Force and would be graduating.  So Rich and I decided to drive out and visit for a couple of days.

My cousin Tim is my Aunt Mary’s youngest son.  Funny side story:  His real name is Thomas but when he was a child, he was very small so everyone called him Tiny Tim which got shortened to Tim.  I always knew him as Tim and never knew the story behind it–just thought that Tim was his given name.  When I was visiting in NJ not all that many years ago, a bunch of us had gone to a softball game and then back to Tim’s house.  I heard his wife Brandi call him Tom and I thought I had misheard.  Then someone else called him Tom and Brandi called him Tom again and I finally said, “Did you call him Tom?”  She said, “Yes, that’s his name!”  What?? I always thought his name was Tim! So they explained that they’d originally met when they worked at the same place where he’d been hired under his official name and everyone there knew him as Tom.  She had always known him as Tom and most of their friends call him Tom. She laughingly said, “Your whole family calls him Tim but all of us around here call him Tom.”

We had a great time in San Antonio with Tim/Tom and Brandi, their daughter Veronica and their son Trevor, new AF airman Aaron and his girlfriend Jamie.  My sister had a potluck dinner on Saturday attended by her daughters Alana and Rachel and their hubbies and kids, her son Ryan and his wife and kids, her son Eli, and her ex-husband Alan, along with Rich and me and the NJ crew.  We enjoyed good conversation and catching up with my nieces and nephews and all of their adorable kids as well as the cousins.



Once upon a time I had an idea that it would be a cool project to photograph and interview each of my first cousins and put it together for posterity. I suppose I could have started this weekend but it didn’t even occur to me.  🙂  Maybe on the next NJ trip!