Friday, July 27, 2007

Lazy days at Grandma's house

Wednesday 25 July 2007
Everyone went over to Meijer Gardens Wednesday morning
to play at the Children's Garden and playground.
I stayed home to do some household stuff
and the pictures taken at the Gardens are in Grandpa's camera still ...
In the evening, we had invited Roy and Nana
and Tom and Judy
to come and see everyone here from Texas.
It was a nice evening, so we hung out on the deck ...

Karis and Andrew
Karis decided to enjoy the kiddie pool, without water
Roy, Nana, Suz and Olivia
Roy was very happy to finally meet Sabrina and her family
Sabrina has made some beautiful cards for them
and she even made a very cool book of family pictures
and sent it to them a few weeks ago ...
Look at Nana laughing --
they are enjoying a story Sabrina is sharing about the kids.
This is Suz!
Suz and Sabrina are good friends -- they were roommates
at Calvin for three years when they lived at the
campus apartments.
And small world -- Suz's mom (Margie) and I know each other
from Detroit!
Margie attended a neighboring Detroit church
and our youth groups joined together for activities now and then.
Suz is a singularly wonderful person,
a great writer, and we always love to see her!
Tom and Judy stopped by as well,
although I failed to get them in a photo
(Tom was glaring at me like he didn't want his picture taken!)
We had a nice time of fellowship
and enjoyed a yummy dessert Mr. Jones had baked ...
Jackson got to stay up late and enjoyed himself hugely
moving furniture around our deck ...

Thursday 26 July 2007

We had hoped to go to Muskegon today to have another beach day.
But the weather did not cooperate.
Plus -- what fun is it to go to Muskegon
when Gail is away?
Do you remember me telling you about our friends
in Muskegon who live near the lighthouse?
Well, Gail was doing a mission of mercy
for her younger sister in Wisconsin, taking care
of all six of her children for a week so that
she and her husband could "get away."
So we didn't go to Muskegon.
Since it was rainy and miserable outside,
we went over to Rivertown Crossing Mall
so that Jackson could play at the Treehouse playground,
and we girls could shop.
Mr. Jones came along, but he is not a Mall person.
He was content to entertain baby Karis.

But first thing in the morning, the girls came and hung out in my room.
We tried on hats and looked at Grandma's jewelry
for awhile so that Sabrina could take a shower in peace.
Baby Karis at her cutest!
Is it even possible to take a bad picture of Olivia?
We thought this hat was perfect on Karis
Olivia looks ready to hike through the desert
in Grandma's safari hat ...

After we got home from the Mall and put the little kids
down for a nap, Sabrina and I escaped to one of her favorite stores.

Mystery Picture
Can you find Sabrina?
Which store is she in?

The rest of the day was spent doing fun stuff with the kiddos

We got out all of grandma's crayons and markers
along with her Ed Emberly drawing books
and made pictures and colored for quite awhile.
I had some sticker books for Jackson that we did
together the day before.
But I failed to take any pictures!

Later in the evening,

Olivia and I played her favorite game
(because she always wins!)
I have a beautiful Memory game.
It is just faces of children from different parts of the world
and you turn all the cards over
and try to match two cards together!
I am really really really challenged with bad memory.
Olivia won the first game 18 to 6
The second game, we gave me a handicap --
I could look at three cards each turn --
and I lost even worse that game!
Olivia had 20 matches to my pathetic four!
But we did have fun.
I thought Olivia was going to die laughing at me!
Notice the Title of the Game --
Emma and I played it a lot when she would come over.
She mostly liked looking at the faces of the children
and hearing about the countries where they lived ...

Friday 27 July 2007

It was time for Sabrina's family to pack up and go!
Grandma's toys were well played with --
they were no longer lonely!
Jackson especially liked the Matchbox trucks
that his uncles Jesse, Shane and Dylan played with
when they were little boys so many years ago ...

Three busy Rauch grandchildren ...
Jackson reading his new book about Diggers
(which is going to have to be mailed to him in Austin
since it was left here in the family room!)
And then it was time to load up the van
(which Sabrina did in an amazingly brief amount of time --
she is the most organized mom!)
with luggage, toys, children, memories ...
and a last kiss from Grandpa ...
And then they were off!
Mr. Jones and I will see them again in September
after we spend a week in Houston
with our new baby granddaughter.
Thankfully, September is not too terribly far away ...
but already our house seems lonely!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Fun in the Sun

23 July 2007 -- MONDAY -- We decided to spend a day at home to let the little ones rest from traveling. Jackson was just happy to be at "Boppa's house" playing with "Boppa's trains", meaning of course our Thomas, Percy, Donald, and Mollie trains in the family room. But we did manage to coax him outdoors for some water fun. This slip-n-slide is actually Jackson's that Sabrina brought to us at Christmastime because their backyard in Texas wasn't suitable for it. So we hauled it out of the garage and set it up to play!
The water was SO COLD! Jackson wasn't sure
he wanted it sprinkling on his head ...
Olivia demonstrated how to slip and slide (perfectly!)
Baby Karis was content to stay with mom
and play at the water table.
We had a pretty quiet Monday, just what we needed.

24 July 2007 -- TUESDAY -- We headed out in the early afternoon to Grand Haven for a beach day. It's a good thing we didn't heed the weather reports, because they forecasted rain for the most part of the day, and it did rain at our house quite a bit of the morning. We decided to take a chance and just drive out to the beach anyway. I'm so glad we did. It wasn't too terribly crowded and not too hot. There was a nice off-shore breeze too. It was one of those hazy days ...
This is still one of my favorite spots on earth ...
... and I don't think there will ever be a time
when I don't thrill to this sight ...
Look at Jackson in his beach outfit,
a truck in each hand --
Olivia has already tested the water and concluded it is pretty cold.
Jackson got the diggers out and made roads
and hills and holes ...
I like his Speedo life vest ...
We girls decided to "tunnel" in the sand
Olivia and her mom actually dug an arm's length through
the sand and reached each other ...
I dug a secondary tunnel, you can see the entrance
on the front left of this picture ...
This was a posed picture that Andrew had set up ...
but I snuck in a shot of my own ...
I like it very much!
I bet you are wondering where on earth is Baby Karis
and Grandpa? Me too!
Olivia and I had run down to get a spot on the beach
and Grandpa took Karis on a separate walk on the pier ...
So Karis isn't in on these family pictures ...
Oh! There she is ...
I really like her beach hat and outfit ...
she is a real cutey ...
Karis snuggling with mommy ...
We played for close to two hours and then packed up
our beach stuff and took a walk into town ...
We wanted to check out the shops and get a bite to eat.
We had dinner at Porta Bellos (which I am sure I have misspelled)
and then walked along the canal for awhile.
And then since all of us grown-ups were tired,
we headed on back to Grand Rapids!

Trains at Marion and Findlay, Ohio

22 July 2007, Sunday. The Jones Family reunion was over and we were on our way back to Michigan with the Rauch family joining us for the week. We had stayed overnight in a hotel in Marion, so it was completely logical that we would head on down to Union Station to watch trains before leaving town.

By the way, Marion, Ohio is the hometown and burial place of the 29th president of the United States (and publisher of the Marion Star) Warren G. Harding. Marion is the rail center for CSX, Conrail and Norfolk Southern. Trains come by the station almost every 20 minutes or so.
The Model RR Club wasn't opening up until 2:00
in the afternoon and the Museum/Gift shop wasn't open on Sunday
Olivia up on the tower, which is the best place to watch trains
Jackson quickly climbed up after Olivia so that he could see too
While we awaited the first train, Olivia entertained herself
(and her brother) exploring all around the station.
Karis was totally into it
and so was Sabrina!
But Grandpa was in his glory ...
He is as happy around trains as I am with
lakes, flowers, nature, farms, etc.
He had his camera all ready to shoot ...
Jackson & Olivia on a piece of train equipment
(I would tell you what it is called, but I haven't the slightest idea)
This is where the Club meets, and they have a pretty nice layout
(I have seen it in prior years)
But they weren't going to be opened for another couple of hours ...
Andrew did not grow up LOVING trains
so this was a bit of a STRETCH for him ...
However, I think he did very well
waiting to see the trains.
Finally! A very very long train arrived!
It was SO LOUD!
We stayed at Union Station for over an hour. We saw two trains come by. The second train, Olivia and I counted cars. I counted 53, but Olivia counted 54. Oh well, I never have been very good with numbers! We wished we had counted cars with the first train because I think there were well over 100.
Since we couldn't stay to see the layout at the Marion train club, Grandpa said if we went on up the road to Findlay, we could see some more train stuff there. So we stopped and ate a hearty lunch at Cracker Barrell and then headed over to Findlay.

The layouts were very cool in here ...
but Grandpa told me these were "display layouts"
not "operating layouts".
Mr. Jones seems to prefer operating layouts
because with them, you can actually control your own train, etc.
This was a very funny SOOIE train ...
See the head of the pig and its rear end?
I thought of Emma and how much she would like this train
(Emma LOVES pigs)
There were HO model layouts ...
as well as LIONEL layouts --
this one even had model planes flying overhead.
Jackson was having a good time here.

I had a hard time getting good pictures --
the lighting was tricky ...
And then it was time for us to take a ride
on a model train outside!
This train is usually pulled by a cool-looking steam engine
but it was being repaired ...
We saw quite a lot of trains on our trip! Everyone had a good time, especially Grandpa and Jackson. Andrew survived (whew!) his father-in-law's constant train talk and then we were back on the road to Michigan!