Saturday, March 16, 2013

Someone Turned Eight!

Birthday parties are a lot of fun, but especially for grandchildren who turn 8!
We love this middle sister -- she is such a sweetheart.
Her baptism was very special.
Which is what we expected, because she is so special.
Big sister is a wonderful granddaughter, too.
 
The sisters played a duet for Ben and me.
We had so much fun together!  Jeff took the girls and me roller skating.  Yes, it's true -- I went skating and had a blast!
We also played Mexican Train, and sometimes the games became very creative.
But wait -- there's another sister!
I can't get enough of Little Sister.
We also had loads of fun with two brothers -- constant laughs and motion!
We went on a lot of walks.  Some involved feeding ducks at sunset.
Ducks like frozen hot dog buns (Kids do, too.)
During this visit I found willing playmates to help me with my box of toys.
Big brother loves to play with my memory tiles.  He and I played constantly.
Big Brother is a good big brother.
And Little Brother is a panic.  All the time.
He can make anything fun!
And then, who should appear?  Boo!
Boo fed me grapes, and also fried okra, because he didn't think he'd like the latter.
He does like his mother, though.  And he likes walks.  And ducks.
Jeff is the king of walks.  Anytime I hinted I'd enjoy getting outside with the kids, he was there for me.
Of course, we never walked alone.  This picture, btw, was taken by Big Sister, who loved experimenting with my camera.
If there's a definition of a perfect night, it was last night on our walk, at sunset, with ducks, kids, frozen hot dog buns, Sam and Jeff's families, and lots of giggles.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Fun, Food, and Spring!

I've just spent a week with Dave's family south of HoustonOur trip coincided with their week of spring.  Our visit and spring were both glorious!
To my surprise, my Texas-born son has grown some facial hair!  To his surprise, I loved it. 
I travel with my own toys, and I found a new one -- a big hit!  Matt mastered it.
Matt and Will attended a birthday party during our visit.  Their group of friends has a private island where they shoot their Airsoft guns, birthdays or no birthdays.  The island is in the stake president's back yard.  These are parties where adults join in to have a great time.  Yes, this is Texas.
These grandchildren have many talents.  I am always so impressed with them!  Will recently scored high on a marimba solo and performed it for us.
These kids also love to eat.  It's so much fun to cook for them because no one is picky.  I made butter chicken, my favorite Indian dish.  They scarfed it up!  This is the pan after everyone had enjoyed firsts and before all the seconds.
Jacob in particular loved this.
Matt was the naan-masked bandit.
Even Nate loved butter chicken.  Nate loves everything and is such a happy child.
I got to know Julia a little better on this trip.
She loves her daddy.
She warmed right up to Pop Ben, Nate's moniker for his grandpa.
It's funny for me to spend a few days with a little person and realize she has her own personality and preferences.  She is, by the way, able to dress herself.
My absolute favorite thing about visiting here is that I play games non-stop.  Jacob loves to challenge me and is quite an aggressive player.  He gets my queen every game no matter how hard I try to protect her.
I see these pictures from our trip and my heart just melts.  I had so much fun with Melanie!
These kids are all great help in the kitchen, from cooking to washing dishes and loading and unloading the dishwasher.  This particular morning Jacob and Melanie made crepes.
Melanie helped me make chocolate mousse cake.
I gave Melanie a particularly serious responsibility.  I asked her to lick the bowls.  You might laugh, but this was important, as mousse cake is a dessert with raw eggs.  If Mel got sick, we'd know I had used a bad egg.  To be honest, she was hesitant, but clearly there was a big perk to this job.
That night, Julia scarfed up her little piece of dessert.  Then she squawked and made it clear she wanted out of her chair.  I washed her hands, set her down, and she ran to Daddy.  He picked her up and she opened her mouth like a little bird for more mousse cake!
Oh, we ate so well on this trip!
This is a picture of the first time we made cookies.
Please let me tell you about Sirius.  He was an abandoned puppy Dave found -- truly a heartwarming story.  He is the best dog ever!  At night he sleeps in the guest bathroom, and when he's ready to go to sleep, he drags his little bed into the bathroom and hops in.  Seriously.
Matt and Will left on a 50-mile canoe trip during our visit.  Carolyn helped them make fire starters from dryer lint, egg cartons, and parrafin wax.
With a little coaching from Pop Ben, all the kids had a blast!
Did I mention these kids are also creative?
I love Mexican Train, and I love being with people who with play with me day and night.
I love Dave's fish tanks.
I fed Bandit one shrimp every day.
I could spend my vacations anywhere in the world, but I chose wisely and came here.