Jam-packed!

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!

Cousins

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!

Birthdays and Father’s Day

I consider myself very fortunate to have three great sons in law.  Honestly, these guys are all very hard working, responsible, kind and caring, and super sweet to their mother in law–which you know is not always the case! I lucked out!  They are all good human beings, fine husbands to my daughters, and wonderful dads.  Happy Father’s Day to Miles, David and Corey!

We had a quiet Father’s Day. Although Rich has no kids, he was a great step-dad to his ex-wife’s kids and still stays in touch with them and their kids as best he can.  He came into our family when my girls were grown but they love him and the grandkids have always known him as “Grandpa” without worrying about blood relations. We babysat Sarah’s kids the night before and  said we were going to take a day off after all the recent activity.  So we mostly lazed around the house–a nice day!

June is also a big birthday month. We celebrated my 63rd while Aidan was still here; I had volunteer work that day and the ladies at the agency had a nice potluck for me and another volunteer, Gabriele.  Although we are often miles apart on social issues and political leanings, I really do love these women and enjoy our time together each week.  Later, Rich fixed fajitas for my birthday dinner and we had a good evening at home with Aidan while Sarah’s family was still out of town. I failed to get any pictures, though!

Grandson Luke is my birthday buddy, born on the same day 5 years ago. What a great birthday present for me!  He is a sweet boy with a very kind spirit  (even got the “Heart of Gold” award at his Preschool–something that thrills his social worker grandma to no end!), loves superheroes and pretending, running and playing, teasing his sisters, telling jokes and stories, and keeping us all laughing.  We love him like crazy!

Finally, happy birthday to my hubby, who is 8 days younger than I am and doesn’t ever let me forget it. 🙂 He is not much into celebrations so we spent the day running errands and then he cooked dinner because he did not want to go out for his birthday. I was going to make him a banana cake at his request but at the last minute he decided he didn’t want one since we are back on our “eating healthy and trying to go to the gym” kick.  I’m thankful for our peaceful, happy life and grateful that he took to being a Grandpa in a big way even though he married into this mess after my girls were adults.  The grandkids love him and he is much more fun than I am, just ask them! We’ve had lots of adventures in the last 14 years and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Teen Time, Cousin Time, Soccer, Camp, Concert, Oh My!

Aidan’s mom asked him on the phone one night if he was bored and he said no.  She asked how long he wanted to stay and he said “another week.” After another week and a day, we drove half way to meet Susan last Saturday.  We had a great visit and the house seems a little empty without Aidan now! He was a typical teenager: staying up too late at night and sleeping in most mornings (unless we made him get up for an activity), eating a lot, wanting to lie around on the couch with his phone in hand, and not talking much.  🙂  Still, he’s really agreeable and pleasant and would do anything we asked, including math and reading and cleaning up after himself (most of the time).  We tried to come up with something fun to do each day, though it’s been so hot outside that some things were just out of the question.  He swam in our pool, we went to see “Wonder Woman,” we played a round of miniature golf in the beating sun and enjoyed ourselves, though we were a sweaty mess by the end.  We played lots of games at home including a never ending game of Rack-o in which we are keeping on ongoing score, and Rich taught Aidan how to play backgammon. We watched several movies on TV.  The guys went kayaking at White Rock Lake while I was at my volunteer work, and they went to see “The Mummy,” which I declined to attend. 🙂  I “made” Aidan take a walk with me around the neighborhood a few nights after it cooled off and we visited the nearby neighborhood garden with chickens. We went out to eat a couple of times and made his favorite meals at home, stopped off for frozen yogurt and snacks while out running around. We had some talks and laughs and made some memories. Can’t ask for more than that. Love this kid!

Meanwhile, Elle’s team won the championship in the soccer tournament in Illinois, so that was pretty exciting!  Over the course of many games, her team scored 30 goals and she had 10 of them.  Sarah said this tournament really increased Elle’s confidence and she played strong.  They also had a lot of fun vacationing in the Chicago area.  They got home while Aidan was still here so he got to have some cousin time; he might have been thankful to have some younger people to hang out with after all those days with grandparents. 🙂

And Emery went off to camp for the first time! She was excited to go and suddenly seems awfully grown up at age 7!  Things have really changed with camp–now you can look on a website to see photos and can send your camper emails.  We sent a couple of messages but never heard back so we assumed that was a good sign that she was having fun. Sure enough, Bonnie said she loved it!

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Sister was glad to have Emery home again!

Aidan spent his last night at Sarah’s with his cousins as Rich and I had longstanding tickets to see Boz Scaggs at the casino just over the border in Oklahoma. We had fun at the concert–kind of an early birthday present for Rich who has always liked Boz and his music. Once again we found ourselves with all the other “old people” at a casino concert–seems so odd! Thankfully Boz put on a good show, still sounded strong, and there were apparently a lot of fans there who knew all of his songs and were most appreciative of the performance.  Michael McDonald was the opening act, originally the singer for the Doobie Brothers, and he also sounded great (plus he still has a full head of white hair, which annoyed Rich a bit). We drove back and got home around midnight, then picked Aidan up the next morning to take him to meet his mama. We were sorry to see our boy go,  but I think he’s coming back again this summer either with his sister or at a different time.  We will have a couple of weeks off before they or their Amarillo cousins come to town.

Aidan’s Here

School’s out and Ally has gone to stay with Corey’s grandmother in Brady, TX.  Aidan stayed home because he had a motocross race last week and when we were there in Clyde recently he told us, “I am going to come to Dallas before I go to Brady.”  I asked, “Are your parents aware of this?”  “No!” he said.  I told him he might want to discuss it!  He is 14 now and Ally is 10 so I think their age difference is big enough that they don’t really enjoy the same things any more and don’t really like to hang out together all that much. I think he wanted to come by himself rather than both of them coming together. So we told  Susan and Corey that was fine with us and they could either come separately this year or both come together at some point, whatever works out.  Everything was fairly vague and I said just to let us know if and when he was coming alone.

Meanwhile Sarah and Miles and all three kids were going to Detroit and Chicago for a vacation and a soccer tournament for Elle.  Although we enjoy all of the time we have with the grandkids here in Dallas, we were thinking it would be nice to have a little downtime while they were gone!  🙂 So, of course, Susan called to say that Aidan wanted to come last Friday, which was the exact day Sarah and family were leaving.  So much for downtime, right?!  I know we could have said no or postponed his visit,  but when a 14 year old wants to come spend time with the grandparents, you don’t really pass that up.  I know those days will come to an end when he will have more important and more fun things to do than to hang out with the old folks. So we said yes, of course, come on!

We met Susan and Corey halfway to pick Aidan up on Friday.  We ran into a lot of hard, driving rain on the way but still made it in good time, got Aidan, and headed back to Dallas.  On the way home, the weather took a turn for the worse, we had a ton of traffic, wrecks on the highway, delays, problem after problem and it took us four hours to drive 91 miles!  OMG, what a day! We were tired by the time we got to the house.

We’ve been having fun and keeping Aidan occupied.  There was a free family day at a samurai exhibit on Saturday, which we all enjoyed. We’ve been to the garden a few times, he and Rich went to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie, we’ve watched movies at home, played Rack-o and Mexican Train, got in the pool, gone out for frozen yogurt, been to the store several times, and today we went shopping for and set up an apartment for a refugee family arriving from Afghanistan.  I signed all of us up for the library’s summer reading program so he is reading 20 minutes a day and we also got him on the Kahn Academy website so he is working on his math skills there.  We keep looking for more things to do and have a few ideas in mind, plus Saturday is one of our required work days in the community garden so we will drag him along with us.  🙂

He’s really a good kid and very pleasant every day.  I know he did not want to get up early this morning and do the apartment set up but he got out of bed as soon as I woke him and did not complain at all.  I appreciate that! We’re not sure how long he is staying but we will enjoy the time we have!