Celebrating Jack

Jack’s Kindergarten teacher has a “special week” for each child in her room and I am not surprised that Jack is already the teacher’s pet and got picked for the first week’s celebration. 🙂 That kid is a charmer and everyone loves him. Sarah invited us to come to his classroom event and then to stay for his birthday party at the house. We had to wear masks at school and our temps were taken at the door. That made me feel semi confident, though I am not really sure what good temperature checks do. Then we walked into Jack’s classroom where the teacher was wearing a shield and one little child in the back had on a mask, but no one else. I could have sworn Sarah told me that masks were required at school! Jack was given a big seat of honor up front and Beck, Sarah, Miles, Rich and I joined alongside. The teacher was super sweet and told us all the things she loves about Jack, especially that he is a great hugger and will get up out of his seat sometimes just to come and give her a hug. She pointed out a poster behind us that Sarah had helped him make, showing his family and all of the things he likes. The teacher said one day that week, Jack got to ask all of his friends in the room to tell what they liked about him and the teacher wrote it up. Someone even mentioned that he was charming. LOL Funny that a Kindergartner could come up with that word.

Then each of us had to tell something cute or funny about Jack, starting with Beck, who told about Jack falling down the stairs and needing stitches when he was younger. Beck told the story really well and gave just the right couple of beats before adding, “AND he accused me of pushing him!” Everyone cracked up and it was pretty cute. Sarah and Miles told sweet stories about him and then Jack skipped over me and went to Grandpa. LOL Rich told the story about how Jack would always pretend that he “didn’t really come” to our house while he hid by the door as his mom “explained” why he wasn’t there. This would go on for a minute or two with us asking why he hadn’t come and Sarah making up outlandish reasons. Eventually Jack would always jump out, laughing, and honestly seemed to believe every single time that he had fooled us again. I told about Jack loving to go to the thrift store with me and look for treasures. Then the teacher said a prayer for us and the whole class sang a song for Jack. We had our masks on but all I could think was all those kids were expelling all of their aerosols toward the old grandparents up front. LOL

We then went to Sarah and Miles’ for Jack’s birthday party. They had rented a huge water slide for the kids to play on, which was a big hit! The kids swam and played on the trampoline and a swing, hit a piñata, and ran around the yard. Rich commented that it was the perfect venue for a kids’ party. Some of the parents stayed and Sarah was glad to meet new friends, though Rich and I stayed away from all of the people not masked nor distancing. I think they just don’t feel too concerned in their small town but I have fears it will come back to haunt them eventually. Hopefully not. 🙂

All in all, a very sweet and happy day for our little guy.

Happy Birthday, Miles, and some of the kids head back to school

Happy birthday to our son in law Miles! We have the best conversations about life, he’s smart and funny and talented, a great dad and husband, and all around good guy. We love you, Miles! 🎂💥🎈🎁🎉🎂💥🎈🎁🎉

Sarah and Miles’ kids go to a private school in Tyler, where classes are fairly small and they are taking lots of precautions so they have returned to in-person school this week. Elle is in 7th, Beck is in 4th, and our little Jacky Boy is starting Kindergarten! Fingers crossed everyone will stay safe!

A day later, Aidan and Ally returned to school in Clyde. They’re in a little town and a fairly small school district as well, so the decision was made to go back in person. Ally is in 7th and is trying out for the volleyball team. Last time we saw her, she had some pretty good skills so hopefully she will get to play. I don’t know if it’s the same as when my girls were in school and everyone who wanted to play was able to play but they divided them up into A Team, B Team and C Team based on abilities. I’ll be waiting to hear from her! Aidan is a high school junior and that just blows me away! How can this kid be getting so grown up? He will start an aircraft mechanics program this year, a joint effort between his high school and Texas State Technical College. He is pretty excited and it will give him a good boost into a career if he completes the program. He said it doesn’t start till the 31st so right now they are meeting in the library and doing “book stuff” to prepare.

Meanwhile, the Amarillo crew is postponed till September, even though their parents are already back at school doing their prep duties. It will be interesting to see how the school year plays out. I know people on both sides of the equation, those who think kids need to be at school regardless of the risk, and those who would not send their kids for a million dollars because they think it’s unsafe. I suppose I am fortunate that I don’t have kids at home any more and am not a teacher so I am not as emotionally invested in the issue. I worry about my grandkids (and my daughter and son in law who teach) but I guess I think it’s worth a try to see if schools and families can handle it and keep everyone safe. I worry about parents who have to work and can’t leave their kids at home to do online schooling and don’t have a reliable child care arrangement. I worry about those families who don’t have the resources to make online school work. I worry about those who don’t have accessible internet or a quiet place to log on for school. And I worry about the virus spreading through classrooms. It’s such a weird and uncertain time. Here’s hoping we get through this relatively unscathed (but what are the odds?)

July 4

Day Two!

Swimming in the pool, floating in the lake, paddle boarding, kayaking, tubing, surfing, kneeboarding, jet-skiing…you name it, the kids did it all. Corey is great with the little kids and took them out on the boat both days, plus dragged them in a tube behind a jet ski. Most of the adults took younger kids on the jet skis and had a blast.  David and Bonnie cooked brisket and we had tacos and sliders for lunch the second day. Sarah and Miles cooked dinners both days but we didn’t stay to eat…I am sure we missed out on some good food!

Ada and Jack have both learned to swim so they were having contests in the pool–who could hold their breath the longest, who could tread water the longest, who could swim from one end to the other the fastest. Ada swims and swims and swims and takes the deepest breaths when her face comes out of the water. She sounds like she is struggling but she is not. We were cracking up. She is also so light that when she did a cannonball, it barely made a splash.

Elle, Beck, Emery and Luke told us all about going to camp and we caught up on their other news. Aidan told us about his plans to do an aircraft mechanics program when he goes back to high school in the fall (if schools reopen…). Ally is looking forward to playing volleyball in 7th grade, while Elle will continue with soccer. Beck will start an acting class, which was one of his loves when he lived in Dallas. Jacky and Ada will be in Kindergarten…not our little babies any more.  Susan is going to take prerequisites so she can apply for LVN school. Bonnie and David will be going back to teaching and wondering about the circumstances; Bonnie will also be coaching volleyball, basketball and track this year (if athletics happen). Corey says once Aidan is out of high school, he and Susan and Ally are moving to Granbury. They have talked about this before, so we will see! 🙂  Miles and Sarah bought some land near Lake Tyler and are going to build a resort/wedding venue. Life seems good for all of the family and that makes me happy, despite the virus and the uncertain outlook for the future right now.

We left before dark but the kids had a big time watching fireworks and setting off some of their own from the dock.  Here’s to next year!



July 3

Last year my girls and I decided we’d get together 4th of July each year instead of trying to force the issue at Thanksgiving or Christmas. It has become harder and harder to get everyone together on those holidays and just ends up with me being whiny if they can’t come. So I finally said I was willing to forego those if we could commit to doing something once a year (any time, I don’t care!) with everyone. We had so much fun at Sarah and Miles’ for July 4 last year that we made it happen again. Of course, our plans were made long before the coronavirus hit and that changed things up a bit. The kids are not overly concerned about getting sick; I think they are mostly cautious about who they are around and what they do but they are not socially distancing the way Rich and I are.  I told them we’d come over each day on the 3rd and 4th but we would stay outside and not get in anyone’s faces (even though this is hard for me as a very huggy/kissy grandma) and we weren’t going to spend the night since there were 14 other people sharing air and space in the house. I know they think we are a little overboard but we just don’t want to take a chance on getting ill.

Anyhoooo, we drove over on the 3rd and I was SO dang happy to see all three of my girls, all three of their hubbies and all eight of the grandkids! We visit Sarah and Miles some, and we had Ally for Spring Break, but we hadn’t seen Aidan or any of Bonnie’s crew since before Christmas. That’s too long for me!

Rich and I took our own food and drinks and just kinda camped out in the yard  and on the dock watching all the fun. I did go on the boat once and sat up front away from everyone else. The grandkids had a ball swimming in the pool, playing in the lake, riding jet skis and going out in the boat, tubing, surfing, hanging out with each other and enjoying being together. I’m glad they all get along and seem to like being in each other’s company. Ally, Elle and Emery spent a lot of time together, Luke and Beck are good buddies, and Ada and Jack REALLY love each other.  Aidan is older than the rest but he is still such a kindhearted kid and played with the little ones in the pool, throwing them in the water and letting them ride on his back. He was also a big help with the bigger kids when they wanted to try to surf or kneeboard behind the boat. Of course we enjoyed just sitting and chatting with the girls and their husbands.

Here is an overload of pix from Day One. 🙂

Lake Tyler Visit

I told Rich to “humor me” as I picked up a throw blanket from the couch, held it up the length of my body and above my head, and told him to give me a hug. He looked rather puzzled but obliged.  It worked! We could hug without any skin touching or breathing in each other’s faces. I told him I was going to take my now-named “hug blanket” with us to Tyler to see the kids. I called Sarah to tell her we were on her way and laughingly told her my idea.  She said, “Oh, good! The kids were just asking if they could hug you this time and I said no!”

We arrived after two hours in the car and I pulled out my mask and my blanket. Told the kids what we were going to do and everyone thought it was pretty hilarious but we were excited to get a real hug after months of no contact. Miles took the photo below, which is even funnier than I could have imagined it to be.

Their dock is about finished and it was a nice breezy day so we sat out by the lake and watched the kids play in the water, ate our lunch, had a fun game of “Garbage” with separate decks of cards so we weren’t passing them back and forth, saw the chickens, the new pool, and the ongoing construction, caught up on news, and just enjoyed being together.  It did my heart good. Now I just wish we could see the other two families!


Social Distancing Visit at Lake Tyler

We decided to go see the kids yesterday. Sarah and I had talked late last week and bemoaned our lack of contact. She said they really wanted us to come visit but understood if we were not comfortable. Rich and I talked it over and he was surprisingly agreeable. He has not really wanted to be around anyone, especially kids who might have been exposed to who knows what. But I think he’s getting a little tired of the whole thing too. We discussed taking our own cooler of food and drinks and just sitting outside so we were not touching a lot of common areas inside the house. Sarah said she’d bleach down the bathroom close to the backdoor and that would be “ours” to use.  She said the kids were already “trained” not to get close to people but she would reinforce it.

We had a pleasant drive over and arrived a little after noon. After hellos from a distance, we went to the back yard, where Elle brought out the baby chickens they just got. They’ve already grown a lot and I failed to get any pics of them before she put them back in the house where they are staying under warming lights for a couple of weeks per instructions. We then climbed the outside stairs to the rooftop above the new master bedroom/bath that’s still in progress. On the roof, Miles has built a fancy chicken coop and they will also put in a veggie garden. Again, no pix! I think I thought I would go back up before we left and then I never did.

We sat on the patio and had our lunches from a distance, catching up on news. The kids were really sweet and hung out with us for quite awhile before wanting to go swimming in the lake. After lunch, we moved down to the new dock they are building, which is super nice and I quipped that Rich and I could just live on IT.  🙂  It was actually pretty cool and breezy near the water so we didn’t get hot at all and enjoyed watching the kids play while the adults kept chatting. There’s a family of swans who swim by daily and they made their appearance when we were visiting.  One of the family dogs, Clyde, came out and started barking at the swans. Sarah said this is a daily ritual, Clyde barks, the mother and babies back off and the daddy swan comes closer to the dock, hissing at Clyde. We got to witness this and it was pretty hilarious. That swan is not the least bit afraid of a big fluffy dog!

At one point Jack ran toward Rich and tried to hug him, Rich and Sarah both said no and he retreated with a sad look on his face. We explained to him again why he couldn’t get that close to us right now and he said, “But I want to hug you so bad!” It was really sweet and sad at the same time. Honestly, earlier I thought I could just put on my mask and give them all a brief side hug with no facial contact but Rich got a little stern with me so I let it go.  I am not nearly as worried about getting the virus now as I was when this whole thing started…which is probably not good!  I mean, I am still using all precautions but I didn’t feel like we were at super high risk around Sarah and Miles and kids. She said there were no cases at the lake right now, though of course she is going to the store and running errands. Then we found out that they are basically “quarantining” with Miles’ cousin’s family, who also live at the lake. They say they are only seeing each other but who knows what else can be introduced?  I guess we will keep our distance a little longer, but we had a really nice visit and will probably do it again. Now I wish we could see the other kids but they live too far for a day trip so we’d introduce further complications of having to spend the night. So it may have to wait awhile.

Sure do miss everyone and it did my heart good to have this time with the kids.

(Extra pics are from the drive over and back)

More Spring Break Fun

Susan and Corey had plane tickets for Las Vegas for part of Spring Break and decided to go ahead and go, despite the current worries. We lectured them about hand washing and sanitizing everything they came into contact with, and told them we did not want them bringing anything home to the “old folks.” Originally they were flying in and out of Austin because they found less expensive tickets, but Corey was able to call and switch to Love Field without any additional cost. That made it lots easier on them and would put them back in Dallas the following Sunday to pick up Ally. We had lunch, played a few rounds of Sushi Go, took a walk around the neighborhood since it was a warm, sunny day, then Rich fixed dinner before we took them to the airport. Fun to see them and get to visit unexpectedly!

Sarah, Miles and kids were supposed to be here Friday through Sunday for a soccer tournament and visiting with Ally (and us). But the tourney was cancelled so we decided to drive over to Lake Tyler Friday and let the kids visit. Ally and Elle are very good cousin friends and actually Ally gets along great with the boys, too. She’d been looking forward to seeing them and we didn’t want her to be disappointed. We packed up Friday AM and stayed over till Saturday late afternoon. Not a lot of time to visit, but they packed in as much fun as they could!

Sarah and Miles have purchased 50 acres near their lake house and are planning to build some cabins along with a wedding venue. We took a walk around the property and enjoyed hearing about their vision for their latest project. These two always have an idea! We’re excited for them!

We had a quiet last night with Ally; Grandpa made spaghetti and we watched the latest “Jumanji” movie, which Ally had already seen but REALLY wanted us to watch.  🙂 This morning we got up and ready to go to the airport to get her parents at noon. We were sitting in the cell phone lot when a plane landed right in front of us. I said, “I wonder if that was their plane,” right before Susan texted “Just landed.” I’m pretty sure we watched them come in. 🙂  Since they’d been on the dirty streets and casinos of Vegas, we settled for elbow bumps and brought them back to the house for a few minutes while they got Ally’s stuff loaded into their car. They were anxious to get home and it’s a 3 hour drive back to Clyde so we said our goodbyes. We sure did have a good time with Ally–that girl is super easy to have around and always happy and pleasant. We’ll miss her!

Now Rich has gone to the store to stock up a bit (no, we don’t need toilet paper or hand sanitizer) so we can begin our self imposed “social distancing” effort. We don’t have a lot going on so we are contributing to the public good by staying inside as much as possible. My volunteer work is cancelled for this week. We are still awaiting word about our cruise to Barcelona in April but it is not looking hopeful. 😦

Wash your hands and stay healthy out there, people. I think it’s only going to get worse before it gets better.

Happy New Year, a Little Late

I started this weeks ago but never finished.  That’s my life lately!

We had a quiet New Year’s Eve.  Plans fell through to have granddaughter Ally join us for the rest of her holiday break so I was in a little bit of a funk. We almost always have Aidan and Ally in December/January but now he is working and she couldn’t get here so it felt strange to be on our own. Especially now with the Dallas kids gone as well! We were invited to a NY Eve party with friends and contemplated going but decided to stay home. I am sure it would have been a lot of fun but I couldn’t quite get motivated.

Later in the week, we met Sarah half way and brought Jack to spend the weekend. We have really missed this kid!! We had a lot of fun doing all the usual activities: lots of board games, playing on Grandpa’s ipad, walking to the park, reading books, watching movies, playing with toys, making a Target run to get a few little things plus “happy first day at your new school” gifts for Elle and Beck, going out for Mexican food, having Grandpa’s special pancakes and quesadillas (not at the same time), chatting and laughing and hanging out. Rich has a new ipad so he is letting the grandkids use his old one and download games on it, etc. Jack was convinced that it’s now “HIS” ipad and he wanted to take it home. We told him we needed it here for other visits with his family and his cousins and he was not impressed. 🙂  Before we knew it, it was Sunday and we drove part way back to meet Miles and have a snack at the Dairy Queen in Canton.  We enjoyed catching up with Miles on the latest doings at Lake Tyler and it sounds like everyone is adjusting well. Beck and Elle started their new school the following Tuesday and preliminary reports are that it was good. Elle texted me that it was “better than I expected,” and that she liked it so I am happy about that. She has been a little anxious about starting over in the middle of the school year, plus she went from being top dog in elementary school in Dallas to the new kid in middle school.

Happy 2020 and here’s hoping we will all have a year of “clearer vision” as my friend Susan says. We are certainly mired in a difficult time and I hope we can come out of it with more purpose and understanding.

Christmas at home and in Tyler

We had a quiet Christmas Day at home and enjoyed a meal with Rich’s ex brother in law Bob and his girlfriend Amy. Bob was married to Rich’s sister Vesta years ago and they have two sons together. They have kept in touch because of the kids and, at some point, Vesta let us know that Bob was taking an interim CEO job at a small hospital near our house. How random is that? He’s been here for several months and we have managed to get together periodically. It’s been nice for Rich to have a friend here and someone to hang out with once in awhile.  Now Bob has taken a permanent job at a hospital in California so he will be leaving soon. We were invited to dinner at his apartment where he served homemade gumbo and Rich made creme brûlée for dessert. We had a nice time visiting and will miss him when he leaves! (Also some of my recent thoughts via meme and a pic of all our Christmas cards…I love hearing from people at the holidays).

On the 26th we drove over to Tyler to see Sarah, Miles and kids. We were really happy to see them again and they seemed equally pleased to see us. 🙂  We had a nice charcuterie platter for lunch, opened gifts, played games, and hung out till it was getting close to dark. I didn’t really want to be on the road out in the country with deer moving about. Did I mention my youngest daughter Susan hit a deer recently on her way to work? She is fine but messed up her car pretty badly. We got home around 6 PM and the drive wasn’t too bad, though there was lots of traffic the day after Christmas.

4th of July

Last year Sarah and Miles bought some land at Lake Tyler, about 2 hours from here, and have just completed building a house there.  We were all invited to come out for a few days for the 4th and as luck would have it, everyone could make it except for son in law David.  I told the girls it was “Mom’s Dream Come True” to have (almost) everyone together for a change. It’s next to impossible these days and I am always a little whiny on holidays when one family or another can’t make it because of schedules. We missed David a lot because he is big fun so it was not quite my dream come true, but pretty close.

The house is gorgeous, the lake is pretty and peaceful, and there are more bunkbeds than you can count so everyone had a place to sleep.  When my girls were growing up, we often had family reunions on their dad’s side at Cedar Creek Lake where Aunt Frankye and Uncle Charlie had a cabin. I told Sarah she is “the new Aunt Frankye” and she definitely lived up to the moniker.

Bonnie left our house on July 2 and took her three kids plus Aidan and Ally to meet Sarah and Miles and their kids at the lake. Rich and I stayed back till the 3rd because I had my usual Tuesday volunteer work on the 2nd and we were meeting our friend Karen at DFW to give her car back to her so she could get on the road home to Abilene. We drove to Tyler on the morning of the 3rd and Susan and Corey came that evening, hauling their boat.  As soon as they got there, the kids wanted to go out on the lake so Corey put the boat in the water and they were out till almost dark.  We all had dinner together and had a fun time till lights out.

The next day, Jack got up and saw me in the living room and said, “What? You had a sleepover?” LOL I said yes, we were all staying! Then he saw Corey and said, “What? You slept over too?!”   After breakfast, the boat fun began in earnest once more. Various configurations of kids and adults went out all day long.  Rich and I rode along once and had a great time watching the kids learning to knee board. Corey was super patient and really good with all of the kids teaching them what to do.  Elle and Emery both got up their first time and were so proud. Of course Aidan and Ally are old pros because they’ve had the boat for awhile.  Then the kids had an absolute blast tubing. I wish I could post videos here because they are hilarious. We had some crazy tumbles and a few tears but mostly lots of laughter and instructions to “go faster!” and “again, again!”  In between we had some meals and snacks and played some games. Miles’ cousins (who also live on the lake) came by to visit. Sarah and Miles went out and bought a TON of fireworks to set off once it got dark.

Sarah is turning 40 at the end of the month (I’m not sure how this has happened…hard to believe I will have a child who’s 40) so she and Miles had planned a trip to Jackson Hole with 5 other couples they’re good friends with. They had an early flight out of DFW on the 5th so they’d arranged to stay with us till after the fireworks and then head back to Dallas while the rest of us spent one more night.  Rich and I were taking their three kids home with us till Sarah and Miles returned on the 9th.

It was twilight by the time the boat was put up and everyone was gathered at the house. I had been wanting a group photo the whole time but it was hard to get everyone together so I was trying to hurry them along to get a shot before it was too dark. At the last minute, Miles’ cousin came back by and I asked her if she would take a few pictures of us.  She agreed and we headed down to the water. Unfortunately, the lighting was terrible and she decided to use a flash, which was not the best idea. In all of the pix, we have the dreaded “flash eye” and I could not edit the photos to fix it.  Disappointing, but I have lots of memories in my head, right??!  We had dinner, the adults helped the kids with the “safe” fireworks, then set off some major fireworks that were pretty amazing and a little scary!  In fact, Jack did not like them at all so he and I sat back on a swing out of the thick of it. Afterwards, Sarah and Miles loaded up their stuff and their dogs and got on the road while the rest of us got ready for bed.

The morning of the 5th, we did a lot of clean up and Susan’s family left first, then the rest of us around 10 AM. Goodbyes are always hard but we really did have so much fun that we all left on a high.  On the way home with Sarah’s kids, we stopped to use the bathroom and get snacks at Buccee’s and who should we run into but Susan, Corey and kids! We gave another round of hugs and chatted for a few minutes before getting back on the highway.

I am not very nationalistic and not too much of an admirer of all the jingoistic “patriotism” of July 4. But I was happy to have an opportunity to have most of my sweeties together.  Next year, David!!