Amarillo Sweeties

The day after Halloween, Rich and I flew to Amarillo to babysit Bonnie’s kids for a few days.  We usually drive but David found some Southwest Airlines tickets on sale and bought us some–how nice is that?!  We got in at noon and Bonnie and Ada picked us up. We had a nice time catching up with them, then Emery and Luke got home from school and David got home from work so we all had a nice dinner and played some games with the kids.

Bonnie and David flew to San Francisco at 6 the next morning so Rich and I were responsible for getting all the kids up and ready for school, lunches packed, hair done, teeth brushed, etc.  I didn’t know how that would go, but they were all very cooperative and it went off without a hitch.  Emery and Luke go to different schools pretty far apart so Bonnie car pools with another mom; they alternate days taking each other’s kids so neither of them has to go to both schools.  I lucked out and the other mom did the further run so I just had to take Emery and her friend to their school a few blocks from the house.  Then I came back and finished getting Ada ready for her preschool and a different friend of Bonnie’s came to get her. Whew! Thank goodness for helpful friends!

After school Rich and I picked up Ada and then the two girls at the closer school while the other mom got Luke and her daughter at their school.  Then we had to do it all again on Friday!

After school both days we played some games, the kids played together while Rich got dinner made, they had baths, we read stories, and everyone off to bed.  Saturday, I went with Emery to a special event while Rich stayed home with the other two.  Emery is a part of the Childhood Cancer Survivorship Program and they always have fun activities for the kids.  This day we had to meet at the survivorship office, then we were all taken by limousine to a photography studio where all the kids had their pictures taken as their favorite superhero.  Emery had chosen to wear her Hermione costume from Halloween.  The limo was fancy with mirrors and leather upholstery, bling and laser lights.  Emery was quite impressed and thought it was super cool. When we got to the photo studio, all of the parents (and Gigi) got out first, then the kids emerged from the limo to applause and paparazzi-like picture taking.  It was cute to see them.  Inside the studio, Emery got to have her hair and makeup done, which was big fun for her, then the staff helped pose her for various pictures as Hermione.  They are going to digitally embellish the photos with backgrounds to match each particular superhero and have a big photo reveal party later.  I have to admit I was a bit teary eyed watching these kids have so much fun on a special day.  Although Emery is healthy and doesn’t remember her treatment for cancer as a baby, there were other kids there who were bald from chemo or wearing a mask over their mouth and nose to avoid germs so you know they are still in a battle.  They all seemed to have a wonderful time and were so excited!

Sunday we took a run to Target and got a few groceries along with a toy for each of the kids. Emery picked an Etch a Sketch, which she said she’d never had and always wanted. Luke got some lego characters which Grandpa had to help him put together back at home. Ada chose some “Hatchimals,” which I thought might be disappointing to her when she got them home but she LOVED the little creatures that she “helped” hatch out of their eggs.

We had a full few days, read books, colored, worked puzzles, watched Emery hula hoop like a pro, played games, did homework, talked, laughed, told stories, the kids told “jokes,” which were really just them asking random questions and then trying to make up answers…so funny!  Sunday night we went out for tacos and burritos and then cleaned up the house for Mommy and Daddy who would arrive late that night.  Got everyone into bed and Rich went to the airport at 11:30 PM to get Bonnie and David.  They had a great trip to Napa with another couple, enjoyed visiting a bunch of wineries and were glad to have some time off from work and kids.  I’m glad we were able to help out!

Monday we got the kids off to school and Bonnie, Ada and I went to run some errands before picking the kids back up.  Emery’s birthday is coming up (on Thanksgiving this year) and she has been wanting to learn to sew.  Bonnie borrowed a sewing machine from her sister in law’s mother and after school I took Emery to Jo Ann Fabrics to buy some fabric and sewing supplies for her birthday gift.  Oh, my goodness, she had the best time looking around the store and trying to decide what to get!  She definitely has her own ideas and told me that she is very interested in fashion design.  She wants to make some clothes for her dolls to start.  We bought several kinds of fabric, a little sewing kit, thread, buttons, and bows.  She was so happy!

After work, David (with some help from Bonnie and Rich) made a nice dinner while Bonnie and I dropped Emery off at her hip-hop dance class.  We watched part of the end of the class and the kids were super cute. We came home and Luke and Ada had to show everyone their latest dance moves as well.  I have to say I got REALLY tired of Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do.”  LOL

Tuesday morning we got the kids off to school again and took Bonnie out to lunch before she dropped us at the airport.  It was a great visit and I’m so glad we can be a help to the kids so they can have a little time off once in awhile.

Now we are back at home and it was cool and drizzly today.  Rich went to the store to pick up some things we needed but I didn’t leave the house.  In fact, I spent a lot of the day under a blanket on the couch! I told Sarah we were having a day of rest today and then we will get back into the routine!


October is Fading and We Turned our Heater on

Suddenly it’s rather chilly in Dallas!  Even after all those years in Alaska, I still hate to be cold so it’s true when I say we “braved” 36 degree weather this morning to watch Beck play one of his last fall baseball games.  I layered up in one of my AK hoodies, took a hat and a blanket with me, and thankfully I was just fine with the sun shining down on the bleachers. These kids have really improved since last spring and suddenly they are all hitters! I don’t think anyone struck out today. Beck got a hit each time he was up to bat and he seemed happy about that.  Sarah says he doesn’t really like baseball too much (even though he wanted to play with his friends) so it’s good when he enjoys himself on the field. He mostly played outfield but took at turn at catcher in the last inning.  Cute boy!

Earlier in the week, we finally prepped our garden plot and then went back another evening with Beck and Jack to get it planted.  The boys had a good time helping Grandpa dig in the dirt, planting potatoes and a variety of greens, brussels sprouts and broccoli. Hopefully the rats will not get our produce this year!

Last Sunday night we went to the beautiful Majestic Theater downtown to see Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul.  I mostly know Steven from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band and from his activism against apartheid in the 80s but he’s also well regarded for his role on “The Sopranos” and his radio show “Little Steven’s Underground Garage.”    Mainly I know that he loves music and all of its history and its forefathers and foremothers, definitely on fabulous display at this concert.  First off, he has a band with a capital B–a full horn section, two percussionists, keyboards, bass, another guitar besides his, and three amazing female back up singers/dancers.  They started out with a Tom Petty song, “Even the Losers,” and rocked on for a couple of hours with a combination of classics, originals, and showcases for each of the band members.  Although I expected to like the concert, it definitely ranks at the top with my all time favorites.  Great job, Stevie and Disciples of Soul!

Finally, a little shout out to my youngest daughter, Susan, who was named Employee of the Month at the nursing home where she works.  Susan has a pretty significant learning disability and has struggled in school and work most of her life.  This year she completed a CNA course and passed her state certification test, which was a huge accomplishment. She loves her residents and I know she is a very caring person as she tends to them daily.  She has improved in her skills over the last year and was deservedly recognized by her coworkers this month.  I am really proud of her and know that this honor will give her more confidence as she continues in her career.

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Friends, Family, and Rock ‘n Roll

Our good friends A. and B. came to visit from Alabama for a few days last week. They don’t like their info on the internet so I am honoring their wishes by not posting any photos.  I love to document everything so it is hard for me not to do it! LOL But since they were disinterested, I didn’t even take any pix. So there! We had a great time talking, laughing, trying to solve all the world’s problems, and eating a lot of Rich’s good cooking. A. went with me to my volunteer work and was a big help since she is also a former social worker and kinda knew what to do to assist in the process.  She also won over all the “little old ladies” with her sweet southern charm. They were wishing she lived here so she could come back on a regular basis.

We stopped by to see Sarah, Miles and kids since our visitors knew Sarah as a child and wanted to meet the rest of her family.  We went out to eat one night, did a little bit of driving around, and went to the 6th Floor Museum at the Texas Schoolbook Depository to see the JFK exhibit.  Though we have lived in Dallas two years now (as of today, I think!), we had not been to see it yet.  It was very interesting and a lot more detailed than I expected.  Also a bit timely since the remaining records from the assassination will be released soon.  Rich and I are old enough to remember Kennedy being shot so all of the historical info and memorabilia in the museum brought back a lot of memories of that time.  I was attending 4th grade at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Georgia and for some reason I’ve forgotten, we were all in the cafeteria watching the film “The Last of the Mohicans.”  The principal, a nun, came in at the end of the movie and announced to us that the President had been shot dead.  We had to stay late at school, get down on our knees, and pray a full rosary for him.  I don’t know that I understood the impact of the death of a president at that point, but I was not happy about having to say the rosary before being allowed to go home.  That’s the mind of a 10 year old, I suppose.  I do remember watching Kennedy’s funeral on TV and seeing his little son saluting him as the horse-drawn carriage went by.  I think maybe it hit me more then, that someone’s daddy had died, more than the fact that the US had lost a president.

After our friends left, I picked up all the kids from school one day and we stopped to get treats.  Later that evening, we went to the book fair at their school, where they all picked out some books and I bought a few to add to my collection in what is becoming “the kids’ room” at our house.  Saturday we watched Elle’s volleyball match, in which she scored the winning point in the second game.  It’s been fun to watch her team of 9 year olds as they grow and improve in their skills.

Yesterday Rich and I went to see a local production of “Hair.”  It was at a small theater and set up in the round with the band occupying the middle space and the actors spread out around the venue and moving through the audience quite a bit.  It was fun to see it up close and was quite an intimate experience (at the end, one actor sang “Let the Sun Shine In” while staring directly into Rich’s eyes…which Rich found quite uncomfortable!) At certain points, audience members were also brought out to participate in various scenes.  The production was based on the original show so it had quite a few differences from the movie that most people have seen; definitely had a grittier tone about the Vietnam War and the happenings on the street.  Afterwards, there was a short interaction between audience members and the cast–interestingly, the young actors agreed that they could relate to the times in 1968 because the times today seem quite similar.

We could only take photos prior to the show so these were taken as the cast got ready to perform.  There was also lots of cool knitting/crocheting around many of the trees outside on the grounds.

Tonight we have tickets to see Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul at the Majestic Theater.  Looking forward to that, too!


Weekend Update

We’ve been having some beautiful fall-ish weather in Dallas.  Of course, who knows if it will last.  It could be 90 again tomorrow (I didn’t bother to check the forecast). Rich has been busy doing lots of yard work and fixing things up outside.  Ajax and I hung out on the front porch “spotting” Rich in case he fell off the ladder with the power trimmer in his hand. Thankfully he did not.  🙂

Grandson Jack came over for an hour yesterday morning while his mom volunteered at the kids’ school and dad went to work.  We had a nice visit and then I took him to his preschool.  Did a little shopping to spruce up our apartment before some friends come to visit from out of state on Monday.  Had a coupon from Nothing Bundt Cakes–buy one bundlet, get another free, so of course I had to stop by and get a red velvet for Rich and a lemon for me. I thought I was getting the mini bundts that are kinda like cupcakes but these were actually small cakes.  Dessert after dinner!

I’m a little obsessed with all of the horrible news lately.  Hurricanes and fires and people suffering in too many places in the world.  Our ridiculous president and his responses to those disasters.  Should I say his disastrous responses to those disasters? Mass killings and yet the NRA and the administration pursue the “more guns, all the better” philosophy.  Dismantling the Affordable Care Act, which Rich and I rely on at the moment.  Doing away with subsidies for health insurance, which we again rely upon.  Thinking about canceling the Iran agreement.  Inept and incapable appointees at every cabinet department. Honestly, how can anyone support these f-ing morons? I wish Tillerson would just admit that’s what he said and be done with it.  Despicable Harvey Weinstein is finally confronted publicly and once again the floodgates open with more and more women telling their stories. I am so sick of (mainly) old white men who think they are entitled to do and say anything they want to women. Every woman I know has encountered these guys throughout our lives.  Isn’t it time for it to end?

With that in mind, read on and try not to be too despondent.  Yes, I am in a mood.  🙂

Higher premiums predicted for people who supported Trump.

This.  I really don’t get it.

Sociopathic baby men. 

It’s The Onion but it rings true.

Okay, a feel good story. 

Lin-Manuel Miranda is a national treasure.

I’m impressed with these local folks in the American Black Cross. 

Allrighty, have a lovely weekend, all. Get up, stand up, resist.



Pumpkin Time

We went over to Sarah and Miles’ the other day when the kids were off school for Columbus Day  Indigenous Peoples’ Day and had a big time painting and carving pumpkins for Halloween.  Well, Rich was the only carver and just did one this year, a Lego person’s face for Beck.  It took the whole time that the rest of us were painting so we didn’t make him do another one. 🙂  Sarah had looked up lots of ideas on Pinterest and we went to town trying to duplicate the ones the kids liked best.  Of course, the hands down favorite was Captain Underpants.  🙂

We’re pretty proud of our creations!


My New Jersey Home

I am not sure if I can technically claim New Jersey as home.  I have only lived in the state a few times in my life: as a baby, as a high schooler for two years, and as a graduate student for two years. But both of my parents are from NJ and although my dad was in the Air Force, which took us all over the world, this is the place we always returned.  My mom has lived in a little town called Laurel Springs since my dad died in 1973.  This is the same town where she grew up and where my grandparents lived most of their adult lives. I have lots of aunts, uncles and cousins in the area, though the number is dwindling by the day.  I’m at that age, unfortunately, where the “older generation” is quickly aging and I’ve lost some cousins as well, sad to say.  Although I am not sure I could ever live in New Jersey again, there’s something about driving across the Walt Whitman Bridge in Philadelphia to “the Jersey side” that always feels like a homecoming.  Some of my earliest memories are here: sleeping in little cots at my Grandmom and Grandpop’s house, watching my dad drink beer and play shuffleboard at the neighborhood tavern, family reunions, the sea breeze “down the shore,” the smell of a deli as I walk in the door, that distinctive Jersey accent.  My brother and I were recently reading an interview with Bruce Springsteen (yes, of course we are fans!) where he used the word “Grandmom” and it made me really happy.  It’s such a NJ name. Well, maybe East coast in general, I am not sure, but I claim it for NJ.  In fact, maybe I should have taught my grandkids to call me “Grandmom” just to continue the link back to the old home town.

Several months ago my sister and I booked a sale flight from Austin to Philly so we could spend a week with our mom.  The sale did not include Dallas, so my sister was nice enough to come to visit us for a couple of days before the trip even though she lives in San Antonio, much closet to Austin.  We had a good visit here, dinner out with Sarah and Miles, an easy drive to Austin, left her car at off-airport parking, and flew on to Philly.  We got in late at night so my cousin Tim picked us up and dropped us at Mom’s.  Coincidentally, my brother Joe and his wife Denise were also coming in a couple of days later and stayed the duration of our visit before leaving for a wedding in SC.  It is unusual for all four of us siblings to be in the same place at the same time (our other brother lives in NJ not far from Mom) so we had a good time hanging out and catching up.

The week flew by and we did not see as many people as we usually do but managed to squeeze in quite a few activities including pedicures, massages, enjoyed “Victoria and Abdul” at the movie theater, took a few drives, spit in tubes to send off our DNA to, did some research on our family tree on both sides, went to find our Grandpop Rice’s grave which we’d never seen and found an aunt and uncle at the same spot.  Saw a few cousins and two aunts, went out for a family dinner with all my sibs, niece, nephew, Mom and aunt, had lots of good talks and big laughs, reminisced, brought home some children’s books from my childhood, ate several hoagies, frozen custard, fudge from the shore and local pizza (can’t be beat).  I was happy to have some time with Mom and my sibs and to immerse myself in the Jersey-ness of it all.  In the middle of that, we were shocked by the mass murder in Vegas and the death of Tom Petty–so much sadness in the world and I feel like nothing I say makes a difference these days.

Rich drove to Austin and met us, we dropped Kathi at her car and headed back to Dallas. Sarah and Miles are in Charleston for a little anniversary trip, which is coincidentally where Joe, Denise and their girls and hubbies were going to be so they will see each other there.  That will be fun!

Brought back some hoagie rolls since we seem to have a hard time finding the right kind in Dallas. Yesterday we went to Jimmy’s Deli to get all the fixings and Rich made us some delicious hoagies for lunch. Tomorrow is our group work day in the community garden so we will be there in the AM.  Back to the routine!



I missed posting our son in law Miles’ birthday while we were on our vacation.  Miles lives here in Dallas so we get to see him pretty often.  He’s such a good guy and we have a lot of great conversations about many issues and current events.  He’s also a fabulous dad to three kids and a fantastic husband to my daughter Sarah. I just can’t say enough good things about him!  He’s a hard worker but also knows how to have fun with the kids and to encourage them in all their activities.  We’re lucky to have him in our family.  Happy belated, Miles!

Youngest grandson Jack turns three in a couple of days.  We’ve been lucky to be around since his earliest days and he’s grown up with Gigi and Grandpa a few minutes away.  He loves Grandpa and wants his attention whenever we are together.  He’s a really sweet kid who does not get upset easily and walks around with a happy attitude.  He loves Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and playing any kind of sport. Even at this age, he can slam a baseball, kick a soccer ball, and hit a golf ball–just has a lot of natural talent which is pretty amazing and funny.  He likes to come over to our house and hang out, looking for the cats and attempting to hold Ajax.  He’s very loving and a completely easy kid.  Yesterday he had a party for his birthday and had a blast with all of his little friends.  Happy birthday, Jack!  We love you like crazy!