Monday, June 22, 2009

Las Vegas newcomer

I guess it's my turn to chime in on our newest family member. This week I was a newcomer to Las Vegas to see Mikayla. I don't suppose there is much to be said above and beyond what others have so well provided. She is a pretty little girl who spends most of her time sleeping, eating and pooping. She does wake up a few hours a day and seems to be attempting to figure out what this new world is all about. She does know how to say she is hungry, although sometimes it can be confused with "change my pants!"

Now Max and I have the best of both worlds here in Las Vegas. We go to bed early, sleep late, and get to play with Mikayla during the day. Mom and Dad get night duty, and as you see below, they tend to catch naps whenever they can.

And Max is pretty good at double tasking. Holding Mikayla is something she seems to be pretty good at, and will at times also read facebook or email or even knit.

And Brandy is already well into the double tasking mode. Mikayla needs food regardless of whether or not Brandy has school work to do.

We did spend Father's day here and it was great to celebrate with Will on his very first Father's day. Please excuse this next picture, as it does not have Mikayla in it, but we did celebrate with a fine dinner

And then of course needed a Father's day picture to go along with the meal.

And regardless of whether it was Father's day, we also took some Mother - Daughter/Mother - Daughter pictures.

So enough of these family shots. Here is the star of the show.

And finally, my favorite picture.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Shelby, Samantha's Birthday, and Flutterbys

Last weekend was a very busy one for us. Shelby (my niece Kelly's daughter for those of you who don't know the family tree) came down from Bluffton to spend the weekend with us. Shelby will be a senior next year and wanted to visit U.C.'s campus as a possible college for her. The fact that Aaron (Shelby's squeeze) is also a student at UC may have had some impact on the decision, and certainly did have an impact on the fact that her interview was on Thursday, but she didn't leave until Sunday. We loved having here and hope she does come to UC so we can see her much more often (like when she needs to do laundry and eat a good meal). I know it's premature- to hope that UC is the final choice- but I can hope can't I?
We also did a pre-celebration of Samantha's first birthday. Her real birthday was June 10 (same as Brandy) and her big party was June 12, but we think its fun to spread birthdays out, so Kevin, Mary, Sam, and Taylor came over for Brunch on Sunday Morning and Aaron and Shelby joined us for French Toast, Sausage and fruit salad. Sam got to open her presents from us and Taylor did offer some occasional help.

And of course there were presents- but I must tell you I think Samantha rather considered them more of a nuisance- My guess is she'll be more enthusiastic next year- and the next- and the next....

Then after breakfast we all went to Krohn Conservatory to see the butterfly show that they are having there. The butterflies were all in the seasonal room (where we had Brandy's reception) and it was filled with flowers and hundreds of beautiful butterflies. Krohn's will always be one of my favorite places to be in Cincy- It is always so very beautiful. And of course since Brandy and Will's wedding was here- and we all spent such an enchanted evening I always relive that wonderful winter night every time I go.
Here are some pictures:

We go places- and do things- with our Grandbabies that we just wouldn't do otherwise- and it is so much fun. Now there's really no reason that we couldn't just take the time and go to Krohn's to see the butterflies- but we'd just never get around to it- I know us- we'd sit by our pond- or take a walk in the neighborhood- or watch a ballgame- But with our babes we find the time- And I am so very glad!

Pretty Family!
Sam and her Daddy!

And her Mommy!


More Shelby and Aaron (the BIG REASON UC is so appealing?)


And of course SAMANTHA OPAL- our birthday girl!

And of course, we had to have a picture of Sam and her Grandma sitting on the butterfly chair.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Family Graduation

It's that time of year and graduation is in the air. We were wonderfully surprised to get an invitation to Kyle Richmond's graduation. There has already been two blogs of this event posted by Tracy (, but here is our two cents worth.

There's absolutely nothing better than a weekend with family! And when Tracy told us we were "REALLY INVITED" to Kyle's graduation we knew we wouldn't miss it. Not only would we get to celebrate this most special of days with Kyle (well mostly with Tracy- I think Kyle might have rather spent the day fishing- rather than dressing for the ceremony)- but we'd get to spend the day with Bill et al. We were excited!

Kyle is Tracy's first born, and for those who don't know the family tree, Tracy is the first born of Bill, my Mom's first born. OK, so Tracy is my niece and Kyle my grand nephew. We didn't see much of Kyle while he was growing up, (he did go with us- and several of our children- and Mom and Dad- to New Mexico to see Bill and Ellen one summer about 12 or so years ago- Kyle was so little- but he was a real hiker- he and Matthew and Don and I hiked the trails around Bill's beautiful New Mexico home-the wild flower pictures from that trip live on our bedroom walls- And there is a picture hanging in the front room of the beauty- and Kyle and I are little specks in the trees- great pic- lots of people comment.) Or for that matter we didn't get to see much of Tracy either. Her marriage took her to a number of different states where Rob, her ex-husband worked for Lowes. Given that she is now settled in Springdale, Arkansas and Rob is off in Alaska to yet another Lowes, we decided it was a great time to renew the relationship and bring Tracy and her family closer to ours.

So Max and I headed south to Arkansas for the Memorial Day weekend and Kyles graduation. It's 700 miles from our house to Tracy's so we left on a Friday when Max got home from work and drove to the middle of Missouri, spent the night at "America's Best Inn" in Rolla, Missouri. Trust me, the name greatly exceeded the the motel itself, but given that it was cheap, and we were only there about 9 hours, it served its purpose. The only thing I can say nice is that it didn't smell too bad- not sure they can use that in an advertisement...

The next morning we got to Tracy's just before noon and met Elaine, Tracy's mom and my brother Bill who were already there. Bill brought some house guests with him, Slick and Denise who are long time acquaintances of his from the UK. Bill was fairly adamant about eating lunch at AQ Chicken House (, one of his favorite dining experiences in Arkansas (how many can there be?). I am sorry we didn't get pictures of the place, but we left in such a hurry that I didn't even think to bring a camera. This place is famous for chicken fixed any way you want it unless you are thinking of something healthy. A speciality is breaded and fried chicken livers served with dipping gravy. I do want to add that they had WONDERFUL fried chicken livers- I loved them- What a treat! Just looking at it made me want to go back and take another Plavix and a couple more Lipitor. They even had breaded and fried French Fries.

After lunch was the graduation ceremony held in the U. of Arkansas field house. There were only 400+ graduates so the ceremony didn't take too long. I think the highlight of the ceremony was the commencement speech given to the graduates. Usually this is something along the lines of: The door is now open for you to succeed, or Set your sites on high goals because you can achieve them, or Your high school education is your first step toward higher education. But this speaker was a local car salesman that never went to college. His message was that a person could succeed in life by going to work after high school and washing cars and sweeping up cigarette butts, and if you worked real hard at it, you might someday be as successful as he had been in the 10 years since his high school graduation. With 7 kids we are something of an expert on graduation speeches- and we really only remember the bad ones. And Matthew- if you're out there reading this- the speech that hot afternoon at Muskingam is still the worst I've heard- It will take a lot to top that one! Long- Boring- Long- Boring-Hot- And the guy even restarted when he was stopped for the paramedics to remove the lady who passed out- Long- Boring (Did I say Long- Boring)- the worst.

Our seating was not very close, and so we really didn't get many pictures of Kyle. Tracy has already posted some in his cap and gown on her blog. Here is Kyle getting his tassel moved from the right side to the left and the now graduated Kyle walking by us.

They also had a camera which projected to the overhead scoreboard above the field house. Unfortunately, they didn't really think that some graduates might be taller than others, so we only saw part of Kyle move by as his head was cut off from the picture

Of course the mother of this graduate alternated between the joy of a first born graduating and a few tears because of a first born graduating.

After graduation we all went back to Tracy's house for libation and dinner. Tracy absolutely waited on us- talk about pampered- Wow- And she made the best Beef Strogonoff (Grandma's recipe- and Grandma would be proud.) Bill and Elaine were both there along with Tracy's two younger girls, Katie and Jesse. We didn't get to see Becca, Tracy's daughter that came with Rob although we did meet her at Mom's funeral last October, but we did get to finally meet Bobby, Becca's brother. So now we are almost caught up with Tracy's family. It's about time.

Jesse and Elaine

Probably the most interesting event of the evening happened later in the evening after the girls had gone out, Bill and friends had left, Kyle was at a graduation party, and we were left with Elaine and Tracy. Now Tracy has two dogs, an enormous Mastiff and a Basset named Beullar. Beullar seemed to be having some itching problems on his back side, and Elaine quickly diagnosed it as "anal gland" problems. But not to worry, because Elaine was well experienced with these types of problems and could quickly relieve Beullar's itch if only she could find some latex gloves. Tracy quickly provide the gloves and Elaine explained my role in this effort. I believe my response (as Max captured below) was: "you want me to do what? so you can do what?"

The "treatment" involved not only the gloves, but also picking Beullar up so he was in the sink (my job), apparently to isolate the offending expressed anal gland material, and finally some butter. Elaine, using the butter for obvious lubrication (anyone see Last Tango in Paris?) quickly performed her canine proctology technique only to reveal that Beullar probably was just itching. Thank goodness for sparing us the cure, but poor Beullar did suffer a somewhat mortifying and humiliating procedure.

I believe after that experience we all decided to call it a night. If you listen real close you can still hear me screaming with laughter!

I will mention here that in contrast to the "Best" in Rolla we stayed at a Doubletree- and it really is the "BEST"- everything you want- great bed- marvelous linens- and a warm cookie.

It was great to see Tracy and reconnect with her kids. Families are too valuable to waste.But mostly I want to thank Tracy for a wonderful, wonderful time! She is an absolutely marvelous hostess- And we had an absolutely marvelous time! Thank you Tracy!