Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

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I’ll Be Seeing You.

April 6, 2010

Dear Buddo,

I heard the news that you finally went Home the other day. It was Good Friday. I was in a car with my Mom and my two boys…. down in Florida, on our way somewhere. Dad called and gave the report, and I passed the news to Mom.

Surprisingly, I was able to keep my composure. Maybe because the boys were there. Maybe because it was not an unexpected turn of events. Maybe because it was so good to know you weren’t suffering anymore. Certainly, there was no doubt about where you were going… where you are now… pain-free and in the company of Jesus!

[How many tissues will it take to get through this post? We’ll see.]

You celebrated 72 years of marriage just two months ago… and you would have turned 90 years old on Easter Sunday. Ninety years! I have yet to live half as long.

Even though we weren’t blood relations, you always made me feel as though we were. I have known you since I was born… ever since my parents first brought me up to Conneaut Lake on one of their yearly visits. Did you ever hold me and rock me to sleep in my favorite porch swing? I don’t know for sure, but I like to think so.

That old cottage was great, wasn’t it? I remember the spring house, and the little galley kitchen, and the living room with the piano. I remember the table that folded up onto the wall, out on the porch. You had a game of “Don’t Break the Ice” that I loved to play with. I remember a narrow staircase that went up to the bedrooms. I remember spending a night or two on a very squeaky cot on the other side of your room, while you and Graydon laughed and whispered to each other “our guest is a little restless.”

You were a wonderful cook! And yet, as a picky little girl, I was a bit fearful of eating at your house. Especially that time when I learned that a favorite motto of yours was EAT IT OR WEAR IT! Ha ha. I always smile when I think of you uttering those words. Your delivery was unique. I never wanted to find out whether you’d make good on that subtle threat.

When I was younger, we typically came to visit and stay with you about one week a year. Later, our family acquired the little cottage right behind yours, and so my lake visits were longer and more frequent. And even as your own house — rebuilt now, so that you could live there year ’round —  got more and more crowded with grandchildren and great-grandchildren, you still made a point of telling me that summer didn’t truly begin until I showed up at the lake. I’m sure you were just being nice, but I always treasured those words. I pretended that you never said them to anyone else.

So many lake mornings began with me knocking on your door in the early hours, stealing a bite of whatever you had handy to eat, and relieving you of any stale bread so that I could feed the fish off your dock. Then I’d usually come back up to the house (but not through the front door! …always around back where you had a washtub ready for dirty feet!) and spend a little more time chatting. You would try to feed me more breakfast. You were always very concerned with whether I was the slightest bit hungry.

It tickles me to recall listening to you and Graydon gently correct each other as you both would give me a report of the latest news from the lake area…  who was in town and who wasn’t, stories about docks being put in for the summer, tales of how high the creek had gotten with the last storm, and perhaps a wistful recounting of a delicious meal you’d had at some local restaurant. Important news, all! And I loved to hear it.

The last several years were more difficult. You couldn’t do all the things you wanted to do. Eventually you couldn’t live full-time at your beloved lake anymore. You made a point to visit as frequently as possible, especially when all the family and neighbors were around for the 4th. You made valiant efforts to hide it, but you began to be more and more limited by pain.

I am so thankful that I had the privilege of sitting with you one Sunday morning last July, to keep you company while Graydon attended church. I enjoyed a few hours with you in your bright little house while we waited for a man to bring communion. You asked me to help pull out a few photo albums from a closet. We talked about random things. Then Graydon came home and we had a little lunch. I marveled at how deftly he divided one meal between the two of you without speaking a word…knowing exactly which things you would eat and which of your portion of things he could take for himself. The lemon meringue pie was slightly frozen in the middle, but we all agreed it was very tasty.

And then I left, with a final hug and a kiss on the cheek from my Buddo. I think we both knew in the back of our heads that we might not see each other again. I would never have begun to broach the subject, though. The sun was so very bright that day.

Lord willing, we will all gather again in a few months… the whole clan of extended family and close-knit neighbors… for another July 4th at our favorite lake. Bonfires on the beach, fireworks at the park, plenty of good food. There will be lots of noise and lots of kids running around.

And I will steal a moment to sit on your porch swing, and look out over the water and remember you.

Love always,
Laura

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Snow Day

January 7, 2010

Today was a snow day for Fayette County schools…  the first one of the school year, and probably one in a long line that is forming now. In fact, school had already been called off for tomorrow as well, by late afternoon today. That’s because here in Kentucky, snow is not just snow. It’s an event! A weather phenomenon unlike any we have seen or heard of! With white stuff falling from the sky!

Now, when we woke up this morning to put our youngest son on the bus (we thought), there was no snow on the ground, other than the light remnants of a dusting we’d had a day or two ago. And it was cold… yes it was cold. It has been cold here lately, the kind of cold that has many people making jokes about global warming and how they wish it would come to their neighborhood.

But we had no snow. We had the anticipation of snow. Snow! But nothing had happened yet.

And under these circumstances… Fayette County likes to call off school in a pre-emptive fashion. Because the weathermen said there would be snow! Maybe as much as TWO to FOUR inches!

It did finally snow a bit, and at least it turned out to be enough for the neighborhood kids to do some sledding in our yard. You could still see the grass through the snow in a lot of places, but at least it wasn’t the pathetic amount of snow we had last season. Here are a few photos… click any for a larger view:

[We have a nice hill that runs down our driveway, right into our backyard. Safe for sledders!]

[Brent has no shortage of sweet girls to chat with.]

[Really, we are lucky to have a great bunch of neighbor kids on our street. I’m bummed that Aaron isn’t in this shot… he was inside at the time. But maybe you can spot Brent in the back with his tongue sticking out. Maybe.]

And… at the end of the long day, after all the running in and out and snow boots on and off and water tracked all over the floor… I had this ready for supper! Homemade sourdough bread and chicken noodle soup. Mmmmmm Mmmmmm Good. 🙂

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“Time Will Tell” Overture

August 26, 2009

School started in Fayette County about two weeks ago. Whee!

A day or two into the new session, Aaron (almost 11) came home excited about playing in the band at school. He played violin last year in the 4th grade orchestra, and seemed to do okay with it, but I think he was in it more because some of his friends were playing than anything else. Let’s just say that no tears were shed on the day that we took that rental violin back to the music store.

Well, this year the school is offering band in addition to orchestra. So Aaron came home one day thrilled that he was going to play trumpet. Yes, he was convinced that he wanted to play trumpet. I am pretty sure that, once again, a great deal of this decision is based on a couple of his friends who are also going to be playing in the band. I read through the paperwork about band practices and what the students will need to do in order to participate, and Glenn and I agreed to encourage him to try.

A few days later, Aaron came home excited again, because that day at school they had all had the opportunity to try out some different band instruments to see which one they were most interested in playing and/or see which one the band instructor recommended for each student.

Aaron told us he was going to play trombone.

This dismayed Glenn a little bit (Glenn played some trumpet when he was younger).

We asked Aaron why the switch to trombone, and he said that he “didn’t have trumpet lips” and that the trombone would work better for him. I have a feeling there might have been a little more to the story than that, but… whatever.

Every day since then, Aaron has come home asking if we can “go get his trombone now.”  When will we get the trombone? Can we go get the trombone? How about that trombone?

We still haven’t figured out exactly where we might end up renting a trombone from, but today we were able to go to a friend’s house and borrow a trombone, at least for a little while. And how lucky are we? Because how many people do you know who have extra trombones laying around?

So the trombone came home, and Aaron immediately got it out of its case and started  to assemble it. I came up from my office and walked through the living room on the way to the kitchen, and Aaron said “it’s going to get loud in here!”

Oh, dear.

A few minutes later, Glenn and I were standing in the living room watching Aaron put the trombone together. We were there in our living room, just the three of us and our dog. Our wonderful, energetic, young, high-strung dog, Brody. You know, Brody? The dog who was just lying on the floor of the living room minding his own business? Yeah, that dog.

So we were all there when Aaron put the instrument up to his lips and suddenly… I don’t know how to spell trombone sounds. How about…

PAAAARRRRRP!

Close enough, I guess.

And immediately upon hearing this strange new un-spellable sound burst forth from the midst of our living room… our poor, unsuspecting dog FREAKED OUT.

So the next 10 minutes went something like this:

Aaron: PAAARP!

Brody: BARK! (sits. lies down. stands. spins.) BARK!!

Aaron: PAAARP! PAAARP!!

Brody: BARK! (sits. stands. stand on hind legs. attempts to eat trombone) BARKBARKBARK!

Aaron: DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DAAAAAAAAA (Now playing the trombone like a kazoo. I didn’t know this could be done. Did you?)

Brody: BARKBARKBARK!  (sit. stand.) BARK!      (lie down. stand. chase tail.) BARK BARK!!   bark.

And so it went.

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And if we had any doubts after this impromptu performance, of how this school year is going to go? It was all summed up by Aaron himself, in a voice simultaneously tinged with thrill and awe, as he put the trombone back in its case and said:

“I’m not going to be good at this for a long time!”

5th grade, here we come.

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Dear Mom, there are hardly any photos of the two of us. Why is that? Also, Happy Mother’s Day… I love you.

May 9, 2009

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Disney Recap: Day Seven (The end!)

April 21, 2009

Friday, April 3, was our last full day at Disney.

It was very rainy Friday morning, so we took our time getting up, eating breakfast and getting ready. I did a couple loads of laundry in the hotel’s laundry room, to avoid being inundated with dirty clothes the minute we arrived home from vacation.

We decided to go back to Animal Kingdom first, since it was the only one of the main parks that we had not been to at least twice. Rain stopped in the late morning and we got to the park around noon.

We went to get passes to ride Expedition Everest again, and then headed over toward the Jungle Trek. On the way we bumped into my cousin Jim and his girls again. It is a small world, after all 🙂

disneyday7-003The Jungle Trek is a walking tour where we saw several animals and exotic birds. Probably the most memorable sight was that of the giant fruit bats — these creatures were big and ugly like you might see in a cartoon! They really did resemble the classic “bats in the belfry” type bats you would see flying around castle turrets…

We next went to check out “Planet Watch” which involved riding a train over to a sort of nature center where you can see and learn about some wildlife. The boys enjoyed the snakes, lizards, and insects on display… there was also an area like a petting zoo where people could get up close and personal with some animals, but those animals turned out to be just a bunch of goats, really. Whatever!

After we returned to the main part of the park, Aaron realized he had left his camera behind somewhere. We back-tracked and figured that he must have left it somewhere in Planet Watch. The staff was very helpful in trying to locate the lost item for us. Luckily, someone had found the camera and turned into the office at Planet Watch, so we were able to recover it without too much trouble.

Finally, our time to ride the roller coaster came around, so we hopped on and enjoyed one final ride there. Aaron chose a tee shirt from the Expedition Everest gift shop that says “Scream Like a Girl.” Then we headed on our way out of the park.

disneyday7-016We decided to go to the Downtown Disney area to eat at Planet Hollywood (we had a voucher for some free food there) and do a little souvenir shopping. We had a bit of trouble getting there because there was no direct bus from the park — so after some confusion and a bus ride to the main transportation center, we took the monorail to Epcot and then a bus to one of the resort hotels close by, and finally caught a bus to the shopping district.

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[Planet Hollywood was fun, but it was very loud and the food was nothing to write home about.]

We found some souvenirs in a couple places in the Marketplace area, then headed back to the lodge. I really had in mind to see the Magic Kingdom “Wishes” fireworks from the proper vantage point in front of the castle, since I hadn’t seen the whole show yet. Glenn and I left the boys in the room (they were not interested in going back out) and took one last boat ride over to the Magic Kingdom. The timing was perfect for us to get off the boat, get onto Main Street and work our way up near the castle in time for the fireworks to begin. It was impressive! Glenn especially liked the fact that someone dressed as Tinkerbell flew down on a long zip line from the top of the castle. I thought the show was a splendid way to top off the week at Disney. The weather was very pleasant and the music and fireworks were all, of course, Disney-perfect.

After the fireworks, we made our way to the ice cream parlor for a treat, and then did some final shopping at one of the big gift shops on Main Street (The Emporium). Later, we said goodbye to the Magic Kingdom as we took the boat back to the Wilderness Lodge one final time.

A word to my parents… we cannot thank you enough for the wonderful week we had at Disney World! It was a very special trip that I do not know if we would have ever gotten around to taking otherwise. We are still sorting through some pictures, and will be sending some goodies in the mail to you very soon!

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Disney Recap: Day Six

April 18, 2009

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Thursday turned out to be my favorite day of the vacation.

We started the day with breakfast down at the hotel café, and the headed to Typhoon Lagoon water park, arriving around 10:15am.  We rode the “Crush’n Gusher” right off the bat – it’s an actual water roller coaster where you ride a tube on an up-and-down path. That was a good ride, and one we hadn’t seen at other water parks before. We also rode a few other water slides – some with inner tubes and some without. The “Humunga Cowabunga” was the steepest and most intense ride (although I don’t think anything could compare to Blizzard Beach’s “Summit Plummet” that Glenn and Aaron rode).

The Lagoon also has a huge wave pool, which generates a 6-foot wave every 90 seconds. That wave really was impressive… there would be a sound like a canon every time the wave was sent out, and everyone in the pool would just start screaming as the wave barreled through and cleared everyone  and everything out of its path.

The final attraction at the park was the Shark Reef, which was a neat chance to snorkel over a live coral reef full of fish and small sharks. Over all, I’d say the Lagoon is a very good water park, but not enough to spend an entire day there. We left around 1 or 1:30.

After we had the chance to get  cleaned up and into dry clothes back at the lodge, we headed over to Magic Kingdom. Our main goal was to see about riding the famous Space Mountain, since we hadn’t been able to ride it up to that point. We got fast passes, but they weren’t good until about 10 p.m., so we had lots of time to kill. We headed across the park to see about riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad again, but we were slowed down considerably – for the third or fourth time since we’d been to Disney World – by a parade!

A word or two about the parades at Disney World: Enough already!

And now back to our program.

When we did finally make it to the other side of the park, we found the lines very long for any of the rides we wanted. We decided to take the park train around to the front of the park and catch the monorail over to Epcot Center for a while… however, just as we were leaving the front gates of Magic Kingdom, we remembered that Glenn had wanted to see the Enchanted Tiki Room (he had seen it in CA at Disneyland as a child). So, we turned back into the park and as we headed toward Main Street USA I pulled out my cell phone to take a quick snapshot. It was then that I noticed that I had just missed a call from my cousin Jim Robertson — he was also in the Magic Kingdom that day with his three girls! SO I was able to find him coming off of another attraction and we caught up for a bit. It was great, because we hadn’t seen each other in decades! He even got to meet Glenn and the boys as they were coming out of the Enchanted Tiki Room (which, much to Glenn’s chagrin, was “under new management” and not much like the show he rememebered from long ago).

Me and my home-boy, chillin' near the lake at Epcot. Word.

Me and my home-boy, chillin' near the lake at Epcot. Word.

At this point we did leave the Kingdom and head for Epcot. The monorail is a nice, quick and easy ride between the two parks. We went right in and rode one of our favorite rides of the week – Test Track – and only waited about 20 minutes by using the single rider line. After that we went over to the World Showcase area in hopes of finding supper. We ate in “Japan” and enjoyed some sights along the way. Glenn especially liked all the bonsai that were on display as part of the huge Garden Festival that was underway at the time.

Glenn and I (sporting light-up mickey ears) waiting for IllumiNations to begin.

Glenn and I (sporting light-up mickey ears) waiting for IllumiNations to begin.

After supper we turned the boys loose (walkie talkies in hand) to go back and ride some more rides while Glenn and I continued through World Showcase and planned to catch the nightly “IllumiNations” show on the lake. Our timing was perfect as we made our way around, and we ended up arriving at the prime viewing location just in time to get some great seats (“seats” meaning that we found some great spots to sit on the ground). The show was incredible! A combination of flames, fireworks, electric lights and lasers… we could actually feel tiny bits of ash falling on us at certain times, from the giant fires that they ignited on the water. I’m sure the boys would have loved it, but we couldn’t convince them to leave Mission: Space which they were riding again. The show finished up around 9:15 pm and we met the boys and headed back on the monorail to return to Magic Kingdom.

We arrived just in time to use our fast passes, so we walked right on in to the ride. On our way, a man offered us three additional fast passes that he wasn’t going to use. This was a great gift, because we LOVED Space Mountain! The boys and I rode it right away a second time using the additional fast passes.

Ride Review: Space Mountain: Space Mountain, Space Mountain, Spa-a-a-a-a-ce Mounta-a-a-a-a-in!!!  Hey, what a great ride! I had really no idea what to expect. All I knew was that Space Mountain was the ride that everyone has talked about at Disney World for a long, long time. I didn’t know what kind of ride it was, or anything. And really, could it be all that great considering how old it is compared to so many of the newer, fancier attractions these days? Well… Space Mountain is basically an indoor roller coaster. And, it is quite retro. Think Star Trek, the original version with Captain Kirk. When you go inside and you finally (it did seem like a really long way, and we weren’t even fighting with lines since we used fast passes) get to the center of the “mountain” where the ride actually starts, you look up and see the sun, planets, stars, moons, asteroids etc being projected all over the inside of the massive domed roof. And then you see the little cars come around to be loaded up, and they reminded me a bit of the cars on the old Wild Mouse ride at Conneaut Lake Park. So I got in thinking, gee, I hope this doesn’t turn out to be a big disappointment. But from the first turn where your car goes down a long “tube” full of laser-looking lights, you realize that it’s going to be a great ride. It’s pretty fast, with lots of turns and dips and ups and downs…a nice long ride and one that is thrilling enough that most people are dying to ride it, but also “tame” enough for younger children to ride with no problem. I give it four stars!

The park was getting ready to close at 11 p.m., and we had about half an hour left to try to ride something. We trekked across once again to Big Thunder Mountain and practically walked right on since the crowds were thinning out. Then, we were even able to squeeze one last ride in — Brent had been begging to ride Splash Mountain, so we did. I think we were just about the very last group to ride it for the day. It was long, mildly exciting (the last hill was great) and we did get splashed pretty good.

As we finally left the park, it was a very pleasant night. We caught our boat back to the Wilderness Lodge and we all got ice cream at the snack bar before heading up to bed. It was a long, wonderful day!

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Disney Recap: Day Five

April 15, 2009

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We returned to Hollywood Studios not long after it opened on Wednesday morning. The first thing we did was head straight to the Aerosmith roller coaster to get a fast pass… the park was already getting busy and the wait time for that ride was already more than an hour! We got our passes that were slotted for a few hours later and then headed next door to the “Tower of Terror.”

disneyday5-037Ride Review: Tower of Terror. The Hollywood Tower of Terror is set up as though it is an old hotel from the 30s or 40s. When you go through the line they first give you some backstory about some celebrity who was there and went on the elevator one night, then the elevator was struck by lightning and ever since then it has been haunted or possessed or something. I was a little fuzzy on the details, but the atmosphere of the hotel leading up to the actual ride was excellent. The ride itself involves loading people into a large elevator (seated and buckled in) and then the elevator goes up and enters the Twilight Zone at some point, and starts moving through the halls of the hotel. We passed various ghostly figures and visions (really, the effects are pretty good!) and then the elevator reaches a point of total darkness. At that point, “lightning” strikes your car and suddenly the elevator plummets in a free fall! I screamed as loudly as I ever have! Of course it stops before it hits the ground… what I wasn’t prepared for was the disneyday5-001second time the elevator shot upward, and then dropped again. This was repeated at least one more time, or possibly twice. It was honestly very difficult for me to tell sometimes whether we were going up or down! By the time it was over, the man in front of me was probably deaf from my screaming. I thought it was an excellent ride all around…. from the details leading up to it and the special effects, to the actual ride. This was the first time I had ever been on a ride that takes you up and drops you. It was terrifying, and I wanted to ride it again!

After the Tower, we headed to the other side of the park to check on some other rides that interested us. We rode  simulator-type of ride called “Star Tours” that was OK but not great. We checked show times for a couple stunt shows we wanted to see, and then ate an early lunch at “Pizza Planet.”

disneyday5-028The timing of some of the things we wanted to do was a little tricky to work with our fast pass time slot… but we were able to do the Studio Backlot tour where we saw some neat movie special effects and how they are filmed. After the tour we headed over to the Rock’n’Roller Coaster, which we thoroughly enjoyed again.

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Next it was time to catch the Indiana Jones stunt show, which was a lot of fun. We got to see how stunt men perform all kinds of dramatic stunts as they recreated three different action scenes from the original “Raiders of the Lost Ark” movie.

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We went to see “Journey to Narnia: Prince Caspian” thinking it would be some sort of cool interactive experience, but it turned out to be nothing more than  a10-minute synopsis of the movie (which we have seen already). So, that was one disappointment today. To feel better, we all got a snack afterward. They sell some delicious root beer floats at the snack stand back over by the roller coaster!

As we made our way to the final big stunt show we have wanted to see, it started to rain again. It rained enough that we were concerned that the show might be canceled, but it stopped in time for everything to proceed as planned. This feature, called “Lights, Motors, Action!” involved some excellent stunt driving feats. Lots of car chases, motorcycles, even a jet ski… and of course, plenty of fire and explosions. I took several pictures of the show as it was really quite impressive.

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After the show, we were ready to head back to the lodge, but took a small detour when we happened to run into some friends from church on one of the park streets. We stopped a chatted a bit before finally heading out to the bus stop.

Once back at the lodge, we decided to let the boys eat supper themselves in the café, and then spend some time in the hotel arcade. Glenn and I checked on the possibility of eating at the nicer table service restaurant, but with no reservations we were out of luck. We ate at the café and then sat at the pool while the boys had a late swim. We did catch a little bit of the Magic Kingdom fireworks show from the hotel beach… they are partly visible from across the lake… and we heard the quirky music from the nightly “Electric Boat parade.”

There are lots of ducks that live around the lodge, and some of them get right into the pool along with the hotel guests! Earlier in the evening we had seen an entire family, including several ducklings, swimming in the deep end. It is also common to see lots of bunny rabbits milling around in the landscaped areas around the lodge. They seem to be very accustomed to people.

I think this day was the only day that we ended up visiting just one park. It was nice to be able to go through this whole week at a leisurely pace. More details to come in the next installment!