Thursday, November 28, 2019

Surprise in Front of My Eyes

Steve has been cooking my eggs this week.  I thought I'd better take a quick picture to mark the occasion, since this was our last meal together.

He paused for 1 second so I could take a picture.  My camera was almost quick enough.

Ben has been sleeping at Jeff's with all the cousins, but last night he stayed here.  When he realized Steve was leaving, he tackled him.

After Papa returned from the airport, he and I drove Ben to Uncle Jeff's.  There we found Sammie and Richie, who had arrived to retrieve Bradley.  Joseph and Richie were mildly curious about each other.

Dave's family was packing up and heading out.  This was a moment with many good-byes.

Corinne joined us from work.  Richie was delighted to see her.

I was excited about our plan for the day, since it was originally my idea.  The basic plan stayed the same, but it flip-flopped all over the place during the week.  As it turned out. Sammie, Richie and Bradley joined Papa, Corinne, Ben and me at our favorite aquarium in Grapevine.

Corinne taught a class here earlier in the year, and her payment ended up being a deluxe membership.  We took advantage of that today.  This was the very spot where she taught and a picture was in order.  I love my camera, but it struggles when the light isn't great.  I was having an unusually difficult time today.

Ben is a frequent visitor to this aquarium and he knew all the fun places. He enjoys saving the turtles.

Richie did not realize the turtles were inanimate, and he was concerned about approaching them.

This aquarium rehabilitates injured sea turtles, and this guy swimming by is one of these creatures.

With lots of light at this particular exhibit, my camera was fine.  However, my pictures of the manta rays were unusable.

It was at this point that Sammie pulled out his cell phone to take a selfie of his family.  I saw the picture appear on his screen, clear, crisp, in focus.  I immediately put my camera away and pulled out my cell phone.  Voila!

I love that many of the exhibits look plastic, but they aren't.  This is a real, living anemone.

My cell phone was in fine form.

The kids were in fine form, too.

Richie and Bradley had a great time.

We all had a great time.

One advantage of using my cell phone is that it will, completely on its own, decide to doll up a photo.  It chose this Moray eel, which again, looks plastic, but this was definitely a living creature giving me the creeps.

Check out this jelly fish!  I love jelly fish, and at every aquarium I stand by the tanks and try to get one good picture.  I took six photos with my cell phone today and every one was perfect.

My sneaky trick with my regular camera is to use the sport setting, take pictures as the fish swim by and hope for the best.  Not today -- one picture, and it was perfectly in focus.

I was so pleased with this picture of Richie.  I have loved seeing him this week.  He's learned how to talk since the last time I saw him.  In fact, I would say he's had a vocabulary explosion.

Bradley is a great help to his dad when it comes to little brothers.

All of us enjoyed strolling through the exhibits.  This was a fun adventure for us.

In case you are wondering why Papa and Corinne look a little warped, they had posed on the other side of a fish tank.  But once again, my cell phone did a great job.  I had to take three pictures, not because my phone couldn't focus, but because fish kept swimming in front of their faces.

Again, real, not plastic.

I thought it would be fun to have Richie and Ben inside this pop-up with Bradley.  Ha.  No way did that work out.

Large petting tanks are the last exhibit in this aquarium.  Kids can use one finger to touch.  Today we learned that where the kids are touching is not only the anemone's face, but, well, it's also the backside of the anemones.  Yes, gross.  Fun news for little boys to hear, though.

Richie was not interested in touching.

We learned today that 40% of sharks lay eggs.  Sammie is holding a shark egg shell.

Being Thanksgiving day, we did not find a suitable place to eat after the aquarium, which actually did not come as much of a surprise.  We came back to Corinne's home where she whipped us up a feast in 10 minutes.  I loved chatting with Sammie about his recent trip to Ghana while the three kids played together.  Corinne pulled hot cookies out of the oven and I dished up Blue Bell's latest:  Salted Caramel Cookie.  I couldn't quite remember the name, but Sammie was already familiar with it and finished the sentence for me.

Too soon, it was time for them to leave.  As I'm finishing this post, Steve, who was routed through Florida to avoid the storms in the Midwest, and Sammie are home.  Dave's family is continuing their vacation elsewhere.

To complete a perfect day, Papa joined Ben and me in several rounds of Go Fish!  We tied the first game.  Papa squeaked in a win for the second.  This has been a happy Thanksgiving week!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Do You Eat Smoked Wasps on Nachos?

For some reason, the force is strong with these guys. It's not just the red hair (trust me on this), but their faces, their cheeks, their smiles, their eyes.  I'll show you.

Ben was in elementary school when this picture was taken.  Can you see Kyle in this face?

I can't help but see Joseph.

The earliest picture I could easily find of Kyle was taken in 2014.  I see Joseph's eyes peeking out.

Jacob had just rolled down the stairs for some breakfast when I first saw him this morning.  I told him his hair looked great and he said he already knew that.

Nate brought extra feet on his trip.

Sometimes we have been able to coax kids to join us on our walks.  Not today.  We didn't try very hard, either.  I don't know what that says about us.

Yesterday was a busy day, but I thought maybe today there would be time for puzzles.  I was right!  Ben jumped right in.

Bradley chose a pirate puzzle, one I had never put together before.  It was great!

Julia and Jane worked on a jungle puzzle and put in the last piece as I clicked my camera.

Kate asked if we could play Go Fish! before she had to practice for an upcoming performance.  I'm always willing to play Go Fish!  Others joined us.  We practiced not peeking at other people's cards.  I think that explains what we are seeing here.

Ben joined us and brushed up on the rules.  He's actually a fan of just asking in general for the creepy doll or the bikerman and hoping that card appears in front of him.  We are a little less cooperative than that, but not much.

Julia and Jane moved to the Seven Dancing Princesses puzzle and Papa and I had Ben all to ourselves.  Once this kid got the rules down, he focused on paying attention to which cards we asked for, and the two grandparents were sunk.

We were saved by the lunch bell.

I spied Ella across the room, the only time I saw her today.  She has worked a lot this week.

Lunch was nachos made with Jeff's pulled pork.  This is no doubt the best pork I've ever had.  As Jeff explained the recipe to me on Sunday night, it seemed so complicated.  There are several steps, and from start to finish, 48 hours elapse.  No meal is worth that much trouble, I said Sunday.  But I kept thinking about the meat and then it showed up again for lunch today.

I sneaked half of the last piece of apple pie for my dessert.  I don't know who got the very end, but it disappeared.

Joseph is not getting pie, which I believe explains his face.

Jacob and Kate sat across the table from Papa.  He borrowed my camera to take this picture.

The lemon meringue pie was a popular choice.  I later stole a bite of the roasted pecan pie and nearly melted away.

After we'd all had pie, I asked Jeff to teach me how to make his pork.  He chose to write it down for me.  Bless him.

The rule that is probably the most important is not to fiddle with the recipe, and if I think of any shortcuts, I can't take them.  One of the intermediate steps is to smoke the pork.  I'm embarrassed that I was mentally already deviating from Jeff's instructions, and I asked if he thought I could take that particular step with the pressure cooker.

I have a smoker, but I'm afraid of it.  Dave listened to Jeff's instructions and said he'd help me make this next month when they visit.  Whew!  I asked him if he'd used a Big Green Egg before.  No, he said, but he was not concerned.  We then had a conversation about wasp nests in his smoker.  Things significantly devolved from there.

Joseph, unwilling to nap, ended up in Papa's lap.  He spied two mikans on the table and thought they were toys.

Joseph has enough teeth that zesting them became a possibility.  Papa Ben peeled one.

Section by section, Joseph let Papa feed him the mikan.  Joseph was also pretty excited about being on the kitchen table.

My camera and I wandered around to check on what everyone else was doing.  Julia had found her dad and uncle working on a 1000-piece puzzle.  This was the second one in two days for them.  Masochists, I say.

This crew was playing Magic.  I inquired after noticing that Bradley and Luke did not have cards.  They were fine, just watching, they said.  I invited them to help me with another puzzle.  No thanks, they said.  I had many questions but did not ask any of them.

Ben, however, accepted my invitation to play with the Memory tiles.  We worked on the rules, which seemed to be a big challenge for him.  But he got it!  And, he beat me, which is honestly true, but I never get a second turn after a match, a handicap which keeps kids in the game.

Aunt Jill invited Ben to help her and Julia make cookies.  He accepted!

He wanted a bite of the cookie dough, but Jill said he'd have to ask his mother.  She said, "Only one spoonful."  Ben complied.

These were pretty good cookies.

Uncle Jeff invited us to play frisbee golf in the park.  No matter that it was raining and cold, some of us actually accepted.

Despite the cold and the wet, we had a lot of fun.  Perhaps it's fortunate that everyone else is watching Frozen II tonight.

Thank you, Julie. You're Welcome, Louie.

Did I really want to start this last post of Steve's visit with another picture of my groupies watching Star Trek?  I sure did.  We'...