Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Good-bye September ...

I can hardly believe this is the last day of September! A lot has happened in these last 30 days. We drove 3900 miles to and from Texas. We got to see our children and all of our nine beautiful grandchildren ~ AND we had a brand new grandson born in Minneapolis! I've been busy designing and making cards from some of the beautiful pictures we took as we traveled. We've returned to our volunteer work at church and we have so much to give thanks for!

West Michigan had some strong storms blow through on Monday and Tuesday of this week, the winds gusting upwards of 50 mph at the lakeshore with 8-12 foot waves crashing in ... and I didn't drive out to see it! I saw some film footage on the news and regretted NOT being there ~ but there was a lot of rain with that storm and I didn't want to drive in it!

I'm sorry to see September leave us so quickly. The weather folk are talking about a first SNOW here in Grand Rapids in not more than three weeks! That's WAY too early ~ and I'm not crazy about having a white Halloween ... but the holidays are just around the corner. We're looking forward to a wedding in Ohio this weekend, and hopefully a side trip to see Marblehead Lighthouse State Park (Sandusky). And then next week we're taking a few days and driving to Minneapolis to meet and enjoy baby Jeremiah. Perhaps October will surprise everyone, warm up and give us an Indian summer like we used to have when I was a kid ... well, I can dream, can't I?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Skyping to see Jeremiah ...

Jeremiah Cornelius is 11 days old today and we are STILL nine days away from meeting him. Last week Tuesday, though, Adam and Emily SKYPED us and we got to kind of meet him via the computer ... what a weird techological world we live in!
It looks like Jeremiah is flexing his little muscle here to show us what a tough little fellow he is!
I would have shown you these pictures sooner, but our only computer with a webcam is our laptop, which allows you to "snap" pictures during the video feed, which is a very cool feature. But once you've taken the picture, the computer puts it away in a file ... and we couldn't FIND the file!
But Grandpa Jones diligently searched today and then he forwarded the file to MY desktop and ... voila! Adam and Emily had called us a few days earlier, but Jeremiah was sound asleep after being awake and fussy, so they didn't wake him up and we didn't see him. But this time, Jeremiah stayed awake for a little while and wiggled around in Emily's arms. We got to see his eyes wide open, but we don't think he actually SAW us ... and then he got a tiny bit fussy ...
... and then he found the exact spot he wanted on his mama, cuddled and snuggled and ...
... fell asleep. How precious. Jeremiah is beautiful, isn't he? And doesn't Emily look great? We talked with Adam too, but somehow his face wasn't near enough to the camera, so he isn't in any of these pictures. We can't wait to actually meet baby Jeremiah in person and hold him for ourselves!

The Lord said, "I knew you before I formed you in your mother's womb ... "
Jeremiah 1.4

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fourteen for lovely Livie ...


Everytime we are with Olivia, we try to take some pretty pictures of her. For some reason, she is pretty resistant to having her picture taken. But when she is in the middle of a fun time, she relaxes, and then we have better luck!
When Olivia and her family came to Grand Rapids last summer, we did lots of fun stuff together. These pictures are of Olivia at the John Ball Zoo, riding the zip line.

We spent a morning over at Krupp Farms picking strawberries and visiting the animals at the petting zoo there ...

Olivia and I rode a camel together at the zoo ... one of the highlights of my summer!
I love this picture of Olivia touching the stingrays. She was pretty taken with them ~ they were amazing to touch.
This is a nice picture of Olivia doing the Skywalk at the zoo. Olivia is very athletic. She runs really fast. She is on the track and field team at her middle school. She also plays the flute in the band at school, and I think this year she is going to learn to play the piccolo as well.
Grandpa tried to take her photo while she was helping to set up the audio equipment at their new church ... but she was too quick for him this time!
Just last week, we were in Austin visiting Olivia and her family. Grandpa Jones thought he'd sneak on down to her bus stop and get her picture as she stepped off the bus. Olivia didn't even notice him standing in the shade of the shelter at the bus stop, so he did get this picture of her. I was going to wait at the house for Olivia to walk home, but then I suddenly had a terrible thought of Olivia's bus driver seeing Grandpa Jones (a total stranger) at the bus stop with his camera and all of his fancy lenses ... and had visions of the bus driver calling the police on him ... and I wasn't TOO sure Olivia would claim him as her grandfather!
So I ran down to the bus stop to rescue Olivia from embarrassment and Grandpa Jones from ... who knows what (!) ... and we all had a good laugh about it. Except the next day, Olivia did say that her bus driver asked her if she "knew that old guy with the camera" (!). We grandparents can be obnoxious with our cameras.
We hope you have a wonderful fourteenth birthday celebration, Olivia. We think you are beautiful, inside and out, and we love you very much!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Odds and Ends

I've been a little bit "blue" this week. Being on this side of our trip to Texas is always a little rough for me. I've been looking through all of our pictures and decided to post a few random ones. They are a little bit out of order, not intentionally, but Blogger will not allow me to move any around right now ... so it is what it is!
You have to love this embroidered sign, don't you? Rachel pointed it out to me when we were in one of the many shops we looked around ...
We've actually seen this sign (above) in many places throughout Texas, even at Fort Bliss in the PX! Yikes.
And this picture of Lottie was too cute NOT to post ...
We tried to take a few pictures to remember the vast difference between Texas and Michigan ...

These pictures remind me of an old western movie, with thirsty cowboys running out of water in their canteens, etc.
Let's see ... oh, when we got to Ft. Bliss to see the kiddos, I pulled these weird nose/glass disguises out of my bag. I told Matthew, Ems and Chris to make weird faces at me and I would take their picture. They thought it was SO hysterical!

Here's Matthew getting all serious about the Playdough ... he takes his playing VERY seriously sometimes ...
And I'm not sure which of the kids had the idea to make a long train first ... and then which of them decided to make it an animal circus kind of train, but both Chris and Emma worked very hard on this!
One day, we had about ten minutes when we were waiting for the grown-ups to get ready to go somewhere, so I was playing a little animal guessing game with Emma, Chris and Matthew (just to make the waiting more bearable). I would make a sound, and they would guess which animal I was imitating ... and then it was their turn to make a sound. We did all of the regular animals, but then I told them to try to make the sound of an UNusual animal, so it would be more difficult to guess. So Christopher said, "Ding, ding, ding. ROAR!" (and Christopher's ROAR was an extremely LOUD one!) Emma guessed a lion. Christopher shook his head, NO! Matthew guessed a Tiger. Christopher shook his head, NO! We guessed every single animal we could think of and then we gave up! Christopher, very straight-faced said: "A dinosaur snowman makes that sound!" Well! Christopher certainly isn't lacking in imagination at least!

This is how Emma looks when she is proud of something she has done ... I love this look on her face and I love to do art work with her.
Emma and I were talking on the last day I was there about how far Texas was from Michigan. Emma was saying she was concerned I would forget about her. I was alarmed to hear that, so I responded: "Emma! I could never forget about you. You live right in Grandma's heart. I take you everywhere I go!" Ah, but Emma was NOT going to let me get away with an error so huge as that. She said, "No, Grandma. JESUS lives in your heart. I just live in Texas." Hmmm. Out of the mouth of babes ...
This is one of the shops in Bandera ... I like that last line: Stuff You Need.
And here is Nicolas getting smooshed by Nia and Nathan in the hammock ... now that's the good life!
And little Nia who had apparently gotten a bit carried away with an orange marker earlier that morning ... but Grandpa didn't care one single bit ... she is precious.
Lottie enjoying a relaxing moment in the hammock ... ah, peace and contentment.
And here is Queenie enjoying some ice cream the night we had she and Nathan's birthday party.

And here is Mr. Nathan waiting for us to get ready to go shopping in Bandera ...
I noticed we didn't get quite as many pictures this time around of any of our GRANDSONS and I feel very disappointed by that ... I've decided it is because they are TOO FAST for us. By the time we get our cameras ready, they have moved on to the next thing ...
Jackson still enjoys trains ... but he also builds really well with LEGOS and is very good at all kinds of puzzles too.
Jackson and Karis both painted with me for awhile, so I'm glad to have this picture of it.
And Karis stuck to me like glue ... and I enjoyed her very much. We were driving in their van one day ~ me in the way back, and Karis in her car-seat in the middle, and this was our conversation.
Karis: "You know what, Grandma?"
Me: "What, Karis?"
Karis: "I LOVE you, Grandma!"
Me: "Wow. I love you too, Karis. And mommy loves you a ton!"
Karis: "You know what, Mommy?"
Sabrina: "What, Karis?"
Karis: "I LOVE you twenty-eight ... NINE ... and ONE!"

This is Karis's bunny. I think she looks a little bit sad. Me too, bunny. Me too.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I am SO not ready for this ...

We arrived home from Texas in the darkness Friday night, so I didn't really get a look at what had transpired in our yard during the 18 days we were traveling. I had expected tall weeds and nasty-looking grass, and there was (IS) plenty of that ... but NOT my beautiful tree out front with almost all its leaves turned RED and FALLING!

I love Autumn ~ really I do! I love the change of seasons we experience here in Michigan. I love the rich autumn colors, the smell of burning leaves, a glowing fire in our fireplace ... but I can completely do without the CHILL in the air that accompanies it! I really detest being cold. My joints rebel against it and my entire body aches. Sigh.

It's just that we didn't really have anything that could be considered WARM about our summer here in West Michigan this year. I love it HOT. I love it HUMID. I love the thick warm air ... it doesn't even have to have sunshine with it ... I'm okay with clouds! This is the last day of summer! Tomorrow IS the first day of fall! But I'm NOT ready to just accept that summer is gone yet! Perhaps we will have a really LONG and WARM Autumn this year ... or perhaps two weeks of a truly HOT Indian Summer in mid-October! I'm just NOT ready for the COLD!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Day Eighteen: Safely home!

After being cooped up in the van for almost 14 hours today, I am glad to say we have arrived home, safe and sound! We drove away from our hotel in the pouring rain (again!) this morning just before 8:00. But by about noon, the clouds and rain disappeared, we entered Illinois, and had clear blue skies the rest of the way home. It was really soggy all through Arkansas and the tiny bit of Missouri we drove through. It was obvious they'd had a lot of rain already, and were forecasted to have another solid week of it.

We finished up listening to our Daniel Silva novel on CD this afternoon. The book was interesting all the way through, and the reader did such an excellent job!

We stopped for only one meal today, in the early afternoon, and were just too tired to care about eating the rest of the way home. We did grab a drink and a small ice cream cone to enjoy as we drove, but that was about it. And after unloading the van tonight, we grabbed a piece of toast and tried out the excellent peach pecan jam Nick and Rachel made for us ... yum!

Since we made no side trips to Corpus Christi or to Galveston this time, our mileage was right around 3900 miles. Last fall, it was closer to 5000 because we went south to Corpus Christi and also drove up to Minneapolis to see Adam and Emily. We are going to visit Adam, Emily (and baby Jeremiah) as a separate trip this time.

We have a ton of pictures to upload to my computer. I'm going to try to look through them in the next few days and then post some of the better ones I haven't shown you yet. But for now, good night!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Day Seventeen: We are in Forrest City, Arkansas

We packed up lots of our stuff late last night and just had to do the last minute packing this morning, and then it was time to hit the road. We really don't like saying good-bye ... it's a hard thing to do with grandchildren! Sabrina's family has tentative plans to come see us during Christmas break, so we just talked about when they would be coming to Michigan instead of concentrating on leaving everyone today. We were able to eat breakfast with and kiss the grandchildren before we left town just before 8:00 this morning.

I didn't take many pictures while on the road today. So this is just going to be a short narrative of our day. The skies were gray and the clouds heavy all throughout our morning drive, but we didn't actually encounter rain until just after lunch, about 140 miles short of Texarkansas. And then it rained pretty much the rest of our drive ... and much of it was a hard, pouring kind of rain that makes driving even more tedious.

We listened to discs seven and eight of our novel and enjoyed that very much. We also saw what we think might have been a bobcat cross the road just after we passed through Hope, Arkansas. We're not sure because it was too far ahead of us, but it walked just like a cat and had the tail of a cat, but I've never seen a cat that large and sleek before!

Our drive was completely unremarkable, and we are thankful to have arrived safely in Forrest City which is about 50 miles west of Memphis. We plan to get a very early start tomorrow morning and drive right on through to ... Belmont!

What was foremost on our minds throughout today was the birth of our 10th grandbaby. Jeremiah Cornelius was born to Adam and Emily at 12:32 a.m. this morning. He weighed six pounds nine ounces and measured 20 inches. Emily was in labor all day long and part of the prior night, so we were really happy and relieved to hear this good news this morning. Last night I didn't sleep real well and dreamed they had the baby and named him Constantine Powers and were going to call him "Connie"! Yikes. Dreams can be crazy. Adam has posted a few beautiful pictures of mom and baby over on their blog. Grandpa Jones and I are going to go home and rest up, and then see when Adam and Emily would like us to come and see this little cutie. We'll take a ton of pictures when we go to Minneapolis and we'll be sure to post them.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Day Sixteen: Our last day in Austin

This was our last day to be in Austin, and we woke up to clear blue skies and absolutely perfect temperatures ... a first since we arrived here five days ago! Sabrina decided we should take advantage of the great weather this morning and take a look at Pedernales Falls State Park, which is only a 30 minute drive from her house. Since it was Wednesday, Karis was able to join us since her preschool is only two days per week (Tuesdays and Thursdays).

As you enter the park, there are all kinds of signs warning of flash floods. One sign showed a picture of the Pedernales River when it is normal. The picture right next to the first one showed the river just FIVE MINUTES after the first picture was taken ... and the river had risen dramatically and was gushing everywhere. We read all of the warning signs about flash floods, and then set out on our hike.
We could hear the rushing water through the woods and down pathway to the river. This is the sight that greeted us at the end of the path.
Karis was ready set to go! She had her pretty blue tennis shoes on and was going to take a big girl hike!
So we walked through the forrest, listening for any sounds of wild animals ... and then grandpa snuck up on her and roared like a bear ... you should have seen the look on this tiny girl's face! She grabbed Sabrina's hand and actually held onto it for the next ... five minutes!

Where we started, there was two possible pathways down to the water. We started out taking the pathway to the right, which was really rough rocky steps that led down to sand and more rocks ...
Our pictures really do not do this place justice. It's just spectacularly beautiful in every way.
We saw a little gecko on this rock and it posed very nicely for its picture ...
Grandpa Jones took this picture of him and then it sped off ... about 90 mph! We actually saw a few more geckos as we hiked this morning and had fun watching them.
This is a little spring that runs underground for eight miles before surfacing here ...
These pictures are not in the correct order, but I don't care! I have mixed in some of my pictures and some of Grandpa Jones's pictures just to try to show you how beautiful it is here. The sound of the water was just amazing, and I loved the contrast of the water falls and the calm pools of water surrounding it.
The water was crystal clear, but since we'd had so much rain the prior weekend, the water had been much higher down here and so the sand had been churned up. Karis liked getting as close as she could to the water's edge. She did slip and fall once, and so soaked both shoes and her little bottom ... she wasn't pleased, but there was nothing that could be done. I got a soaker too, and that made her feel a little bit better I think.

Grandpa Jones got the best picture of this heron ... I got some good ones, but my zoom lens isn't as good as his. Between the two of us, we took over 400 pictures in two hours this morning. I don't have time to go through all of them, but some of them are really really nice.
It's a little tricky to hike here, but Sabrina is a climber and Karis takes after her mama ~ although there were places where Karis was pretty nervous ...

She doesn't stay nervous for very long ... which, of course, made US nervous!
This is MY picture of a different heron. I can't wait to get home and use my photo editing software on my PC in my office. I will be able to fine tune many of my pictures and make many a card from them!
I could have been happy spending many days here, hiking different paths, getting as high up the rocks as possible, and watching the wildlife. There is nothing like being out where the unmistakable hand of God has left His awesome mark.

We left the falls, returned home for lunch, some of us took naps ... but I baked some cookies for the kiddos during naptime. When I was in Bandera with Rachel and Nick and we stopped at that half price bookstore, Rachel had found a cute book of railroad craft ideas and in it were these sugar cookies decorated like a railroad crossing sign. These are the cookies I made this afternoon.
When Jackson came home from school, he ate two of these enormous cookies!

We waited until Olivia got home from school, and then since it was actually HOT, we all went to the pool for a very refreshing swim.

We ate our last dinner in Austin over at the Salt Lick, where everyone enjoyed ribs, sausage and all kinds of delicious meat, grilled and barbequed Texas style!

Well ... it was kind of a day in paradise, and we are thankful the weather cooperated for one really really nice day! Grandpa Jones and I plan to be on the road very early tomorrow morning ... but we are anticipating an important phone call about a very anticipated little baby ... hopefully, I'll be able to post some news before we get on the road in the morning.