Monday, October 25, 2010

Declan With The Baby In The Mirror

Poor Declan. After spending nearly two hours in a hospital waiting room with me, AGAIN, he was hungry for a little guy time. With the baby in the mirror.

How cute is he?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mexico Beach, Florida

If memory serves, this photo was taken in 1988 in Mexico Beach, FL. We stayed at the El Governor Motel, which we found to be perfect for our family. It was small, older but clean, reasonably priced, complete with a kitchenette. Perfect place for Jeff to have his morning cereal, and hide behind the boxes. Jeff never was much of a morning person.

The original El Governor was destroyed by Hurricane Opal in 1995. It has since been rebuilt into a multi-story hotel, but continues to get good reviews from guests. Mexico Beach is a neighbor to Destin, an area we loved and returned to several times. With it's squeaky white sand and clear emerald waters, it was paradise.

The photo is awful in quality, but wonderfully rich in memories. Note the boys are all wearing the same swimming trunks...easier for me to keep an eye three little boys. Everyone was wildly happy to be playing on the beach, in the sun and surf. Terry and I washed sand out of little body crevices for days afterward. Alyssa wore a crown of seaweed, the boys ran in and out of the surf. Everything was simpler, everyone was together

I miss those days. Well, except for washing sand out of crevices.

Overland Park Arboretum

Thursday was yet another beautiful fall day, in this string of lovely days we've had this year. After errand-running and lunching with Alyssa and Declan, the arboretum was calling my name. And I happened to have my camera with me, all the better.

I don't know what year the arboretum opened, but I used to take the kids and dog there when it was nothing but a trail hacked through the woods. It is so much more now, and it is truly wonderful.

The only thing I miss? The solitude.

Friday, October 22, 2010

I Ask You, Could I Have Been A Tomboy?

Returning to my gun-toting ways, half a century later.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Say Hello to Lilly and Anna

It's no secret how crazy I am about Jackie. This also extends to her family, for as anyone who knows Jackie, knows how devoted and committed she is to them. How can you not adore the whole package?

While society places a high value on appearance (and these girls are very lovely indeed), it is their inner heart, spirit and sweetness that is so extraordinary. With parents as kind, caring, loving and devout as theirs, there is no way Lilly and Anna could be anything but exceptional. Unfortunately, there is no human way to capture that kind of beauty.

Lilly, at seven.

Anna, at four.

P.S. Anna and Alyssa? Soul mates.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

We've read your MRI, schedule an appointment right away. Thank you, bye-bye.

Alyssa had an MRI at Research Medical Center Friday afternoon. While she was being scanned, Declan and I hung out in the radiology waiting room. Declan entertained several patients with his smiles, his plastic spoons, and his unusual habit of wanting to hang upside down to view the world. He lasted for about an hour, got a little whimpery and fell asleep on my shoulder. I rearranged him, and puppy dog, and we waited for his mama.

When Alyssa rejoined us an hour and a half later, she said that she was told that if she waits, the doctor will read the films and give us results. However, there was a new trauma arrival in the ER the neurosurgeon must deal with first. That's fair, and we are glad to wait. Waiting now, rather than suffering through the weekend, is fine with us. Declan is now awake and restless. I take him and the stroller out to the hallway and walk and walk and walk to entertain him. I love the long straight, uncluttered halls of Research and always have. I remember visiting my mother in the lobby of Research circa 1960 after her head surgery. Research is comfortable and familiar, and I don't mind the quiet time with my thoughts.


One hour passes. Alyssa asks the radiology desk to call the radiologist reading her films to inquire about our status. Alyssa leaves for the bathroom, and of course, the MRI staff person calls. I take the call and am told the radiologist has read the films, conferred with the neurosurgeon and Alyssa is to make a follow up appointment right away.

Wait, we stayed for THIS? No, I told the woman, we were told to wait for results, not for directives to schedule an appointment. This is not okay, I said through slightly clenched teeth.

I'm told to call the neurosurgeon's office and maybe they can tell us more. Well, hello, the office is connected to the hospital. I think we will be one of those annoying patients who show up and want answers. I think that's fair exchange for spending several hours stuck in a hospital basement. With a baby. During nap time.

We walk over and ask nicely for results. The staff behind the counter resemble deer stunned by headlights. I don't think they are used to patients showing up and demanding results (albeit nicely). Someone skitters away and gets the PA, who kindly informs us that there was no change since Alyssa's MRI in June.

So there.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Christmas 1960

Christmas 1960.

Where do I start??

1) Seriously Mom, I need new jammies, someone apparently had a sudden growth spurt.

2) Brother is looking on, angelic. It's just an act.

3) I seem to be questioning something, like is that all? That's ALL Santa brought? There must be a mistake.

4) Note the tinsel. That stuff is probably illegal now, toxic maybe? Rusty liked to run past the tree, grabbing a mouthful as he flew by, as fast as his stubby little legs could carry him. Once he succeeded (failed?) on his mission as he brought the tree down.

5) Note that it is dark outside the picture window. It's either very early, or very late. Although we did open our gifts on Christmas Eve in later years, I certainly hope we were not doing it at that age. Talk about killing Santa, Mom & Dad.

6) Love the furniture. Love it. There are people today who would fight over it. The curved sectional was a chenille fabric, in a lovely 1950's salmon tone. The coffee table echoed that curve, rather like a boomerang. The carpet. The carpet! It was a sculpted loop carpet with a rose pattern. SO my mother. The end tables and lamps were around until this year.

7) It's wonderful, isn't it?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Thank you, Google

Google, because of you I can now Google Talk - which is essentially IM - with Jeff. No longer must I drop .10 cents every time Jeff and I exchange a text message. Thanks, I appreciate it!


An Epiphany

An Open Letter to My Family:

I had an epiphany today. Although minor by comparison to other epiphanies, it was still rocked my world and is setting me on a different path in regards to creative outlet.

I am a memory keeper.

That means that I am not a scrapbooker, per se, but one who wants to record stories, memories, thoughts, dreams. I am not driven to put memories down on cardstock, rather to share them in a more immediate manner. I thought I was a scrapbooker, but it turns out that I am not. Scrapbooking is too slow for how I mentally process things. Plus, I have too many things swirling in my head that I want to get down. Now. I have always loved to write, and have wanted to write for my own pleasure but lacked a platform or format. While time and tide waits for no man, my thoughts won't wait for paper and paste. I am fearful of memories and moments slipping away from me.

I think this new paradigm has been evolving in my mind since my mom passed away. We all know we should seek out our parents memories, stories, wisdoms, but sadly we often don't realize how important it is until it's too late. Although I have many stories from my Dad, I am bereft of stories from my mother's childhood and youth. I regret that those are lost.

I wonder if Declan and my other, future grandchildren will wonder about me, as I have wondered about my parents and grandparents. Never having had a grandfather leaves me wondering what that would have been like. When I think about Heaven, I secretly wish that my grandfathers will be there, waiting, eager to give me the unconditional grandfatherly love that I missed. Is this not what faith is all about? I believe that my own life would have been enriched by knowing my parents and grandparents' hopes and dreams as well as their regrets and losses. Would we find common threads woven through the generations?

And so here I am, with my wee blog (having been immersed in the Outlander series for the past several weeks {months?}, I find it easy to slip in to a little Scots vocab occasionally). I do this for no one but myself; I have my own selfish reasons, but if anyone else finds it interesting, so be it. I have pictures to share, memories to gift to the future and words waiting to file out. In an orderly fashion, I hope. I want not only to share random bits and pieces of my own life - as I see it - but of others, as it unfolds. I pray for guidance that I never say hurtful words, or share things that should have been left private. My original intent was to write only for myself. I was afraid that if I shared, two things would happen. One, I would have to edit what I say. Since I am far, far from perfect there are things that I possibly would write about for my own peace, but not for the consumption of my family. Two, that by sharing I am also opening myself up to criticism and someone else's displeasure in what was written. I came to the solution of one, if I have things to write about the are better left private, this blog is not the place for that anyway. Two, just be kind in your critique and you know we can always talk. This family, as a whole, talks things out pretty darn well. We're gifted like that.

I hope to further expand my meager talent in photography, and to share that progress here. Why? Just because I can. It certainly will not forward anyone else's skills. I find photography deeply satisfying. Sometimes I feel boxed in, here in the wilds of Johnson County, but we'll see. I would love to expand my collection of lenses and experiment with what is possible. I would like to take a class or two, but it's hard to find the time. I know I've come a very long way from the day Terry first bought me the Rebel, and I've loved the journey.

I will not tread specifically on topics that I know are off limits. I may speak in general terms, though. If there is a post which you are uncomfortable with, let me know and I will either edit or remove it. I do hope that others will write guest posts. How fun would that be?! Guest posts are subject to my approval, of course, but it would be interesting and fun. And that brings me to the point of this blog.

This is an interesting family. I had an unique childhood, growing up nowhere and everywhere, knowing terms like 'pig', 'dope', 'inspector' and 'right-of-way'. My dad was a great storyteller and I can only hope to serve his gift reasonably well. This family is unique with having had three sons serve in the military. We have Alyssa, who has shown unparalleled grace of getting through challenging times without self pity, bitterness or anger. There is your dad, whom I know in a different way than you do. I know a man who was a wild child, left to his own devices as a teen, maybe stuck a toe or two in the waters of trouble, but emerged with so much love and caring for his family that one might question it were the same person. We have a family that others only dream about having, and it is here I will celebrate it.

I hope you're okay with that.

Janet, you can stop worrying about keeping this a secret. You did good.


PS - This is not to say that I've entirely given up scrapbooking. There are still some aspects of it that appeal to me. With some help and cooperation, I would really like for each of my sons to have a military scrapbook, and mini albums....something that is small and focused, is something I see continuing.

PPS - You may share this if you so desire.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Looks Oddly Familiar

According to my mother's handwritten note on the back, this photo was taken in California, circa 1960. I would hope that's the last time I was seen topless in public.

And doesn't it look oddly familiar to this? The similarity is creepy.

And by golly, Grandpa's got himself the next generation of Bigfoot-movie-watcher keeping him company.

Caprese Pasta Salad

My family loves Caprese Salad, so when I saw this in America's Test Kitchen's 30-Minutes Suppers, I knew I had to try it. It was good, although too pasta-y for me, so the recipe below reflects a reduction of pasta by half. I doubled the dressing as I find a dry pasta salad very unappealing, and I was glad for it. I don't think it will replace our summertime Caprese Salad, but it was yummy and more substantial.

Somewhere in Italy, Jeff had Caprese Salad. I remember him ordering it, but I don't remember where we were at the time. You have to hand it to the Italians, they do simple food to perfection.

Caprese Pasta Salad

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
salt & pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/3 cup EVOO
1/2 half pound rigatoni
2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 cups halved fresh mini mozzarella balls
(if you can find pearls, no need to cut)
1 cup basil leaves, roughly torn

1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Whisk vinegar, garlic, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and pepper flakes in large bowl. Gradually whisk in oil.

2. Add 1 tablespoon salt and rigatoni to boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain pasta and rinse with cold water.

3. Transfer pasta to bowl with dressing and toss with dressing, tomatoes, cheese, and basil until thoroughly mixed. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.

Serves 4.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Hi, Uncle Kyle.

Uncle Kyle is funny.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Day with Deanna....Rose that is.

Alyssa and I decided to enjoy a gorgeous fall day and take Declan to Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead. Over the past 20+ years, it's changed from a small park to an amazing little touch of country in the city.

Alyssa & Declan heading into the Farmstead.

The geese are resting in the cool shade, it was easily in the mid-70's by this time.

Declan and his new favorite toy. Plastic measuring spoons. Yes, folks, you read that right.

Goats, goats, goats everywhere. I would not like them here or there, I would not like them anywhere. Channeling Dr. Seuss! In spite of this sweet little goat wanting to nibble on my skirt, they were cute, cute, cute, with bulging tummies. (More about bulging tummies coming your way soon.)

Alyssa bought Goat Chow, so the goats all chased, followed, tugged at and jumped on her.

Declan still chewing on his spoons.

Hi Declan! Mema loves you, you are so cute!

Snack time! Now, no one get jealous, but Declan's got himself a banana to gnaw on in that little mesh bag.

"Ew, maybe someone else would like it", he muses silently.

"I'm not too certain about this banana business."


"I'm trying to like it....", he vows.

"How about an In-n-Out Burger right here on my tray??"

Trying out the stroller as a teething ring.

Declan, ready to move on to something different.

Hi Declan, you are such a good baby!

Seriously, darling! You are surrounded by nature, soak it up, let it inspire you.

This is a pen of pregnant goats. About thirty of them, to one baby daddy.

Hello, are you Baby Daddy?

Or is it you? (We had to be discreet with the baby there, so didn't check out anyone's "junk".)

Hi Declan!

Big boy on the fence, pretending he can do it all by himself.

No! Please don't eat the daises! (name that movie)

Standing proud amongst the flowers.

Going for another snack.

Bottle time = sleepy time. Wait for it.

...And there it is folks, just as predicted.

Declan had nature thrust upon him and he lived to tell the tale. And what better way to end the morning than a milk coma?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Hey you! Declan, I'm talking to you. You are 7 months old now and you have stripped the cute clean off the vine.

At 7 months you are almost sitting up and almost crawling. We seem to be stuck in The World of Almost. It's okay, though. I've warned your mother that her world is about to change. She smiles and says she knows, but really? She doesn't. Not nearly. Haha, the joke is totally on her! But, watch you prove me wrong and be a baby that just sits and watches the world go by...but I suspect not. When Jackie and Jane both held you this week, you just started climbing up them like a monkey. Oh! That reminds me, it comes naturally. Your Great Grandpa once said that your Uncle Kyle clung to his back like a monkey to a branch (at night during a thunderstorm, understandable.)

You are back to food and really digging it. In fact, last week you had apple cider donut and cut up cooked carrots. You gagged and made funny faces, which is totally normal. And your bottle? You hold it now, thanks to a nifty new bottle with handles. You usually can be found hanging on the bottle with your left hand, patting the bottle with your right. Shaking occasionally...doesn't Bond prefer his stirred? Wait, no Martini's yet for you. And when you are finished with your bottle, you just pitch it away. An empty bottle is no good to you anymore and you have zero interest in it.

You are still quite the little fella but you will catch up. Your britches hang down, you are in dire need of a pair of suspenders. And maybe a bowtie? Speaking of bowties, your mama had an appointment last week with a bowtie-wearing neurosurgeon. We liked him, and we hope that he will bring us nothing but good news for your mama.

We found out this week that you will be having a girl cousin. Second cousin actually, but who's counting? Aunt Cameo and Uncle Joe had a sonogram and were told with 80% certainty that they are having a girl. Eighty percent? I think we can do better than that. One quick look by Elaine confirmed this exciting news.

And speaking of cousins, your baby girl first cousin in Germany is due just after Christmas. We think her name will be Viktoria. We have so many hopes and wishes for this precious baby, and pray hard they will come true.

I think you have an empathic soul. Monday, lunching with all the girls, Baby Avery started crying. Suddenly and unexpectedly, you burst out crying, too. Avery's crying really upset you, and I think that's sweet and tender-hearted. Since you never cry, this was quite the event, earning you lots of love and pats from the girls. Way to work it.

You raise your eyebrows, you do a funny cough/laugh thing when you know we are trying to get you to smile. It's like you are trying your darnedest to accommodate, but what a chore. I swear I've seen you raise one eyebrow, which is interesting because although I've always wanted to do that, I can't and I don't know anyone on our side of the family who can.

You're growing and changing and learning and discovering fast, and it's a joy to watch and be a part of. I can't wait to see what the next month brings.

Love, Mema