Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A brief synopsis of my El Paso trip ...

I've been home for six days now and I am still going through pictures from my time in El Paso, in-between dealing with some difficult life circumstances ... so this post is going to be very brief.
It was HOT and DRY the entire week I was with Jesse's family ... triple-digit hot and so dry that my skin felt like it had been baked for a long time in an oven! Even the skin under my fingernails was hard and dry! We had strong winds as well that blew sand and dirt all over the place! Everywhere we went, we carried water bottles in my backpack because you really cannot be outside for very long in Texas without water to drink.
When I have time to do it right, I'll tell you about our library and public transit excursion on our first full day together. We spent a lot of our morning hours at the nearby playground, climbing on the equipment and digging in the rock-hard dirt so that we could somehow make a sand castle! We played in their brand new slip-n-slide and cool sprinkler, fed the neighborhood birds pieces of bread and watched them for hours, read almost two dozen books together, and of course we did a ton of art projects.
We were also able to see God's loving care for us in many ways, just in everyday situations. It was great to teach the kids about what a great and awesome God we have! I hope in the next little while to share with you a bunch of pictures and stories of our time together.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

It's Diana's Birthday ...

This is a picture I took of Diana this past Wednesday night, the last night I was in El Paso. The children and I had been talking about how many days until their mom's birthday and what we could do to make it special for her. So, we got out our "art stuff" and painted her some lovely pictures, made her some sticker cards, and decorated some nice bookmarks for her to use with her school work.

I'd like show you more pictures, but since I returned home 48 hours ago I have spent most of my time at the hospital with my mom, who had some unexpected surgery Wednesday. She was discharged home from the hospital a few hours ago and this is the first opportunity I have had to upload my pictures from my visit with Jesse's family. I have a lot of them to look through, and I hope to do that in the next few days and share some with you.

But ... the main purpose of this post is to wish Diana a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY. Thinking of you, Diana, on your special day!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Jackson is SEVEN today!

When I was trying to decide what to purchase for Jackson's birthday this year, I asked Sabrina if perhaps Jackson would like me to make him a book like I had made for Karis back in February for her fifth birthday. I wasn't sure, though, that I had enough pictures of Jackson to actually make into a book! He is a pretty active boy and doesn't stay in one place long enough for me to take a good picture. But I started looking back through my picture files and found so many nice pictures of him! I finished his book yesterday, and I am very pleased with it.
The picture of above is of Jackson, sitting at the kitchen table in his house in Austin last fall drawing some pictures for me.
Last summer, Sabrina came up to Michigan for a few days with Jackson and Karis. Jackson was the ring bearer at Dylan and Kelly's wedding. We found time to have a few beach days when we weren't busy with wedding stuff. We made a bunch of nice sand castles at the North Beach in Grand Haven one afternoon and put sea gull feathers on the tippy tops.
And, of course, we hiked out to the lighthouse at the end of the south pier. Jackson loves climbing the rocks that line the boardwalk by the camp ground.
There are NO beaches like this in Austin, Texas ... so it's a real special place to take our grandchildren when they are "home" for a little while.
This picture of Jackson in the waves was taken at the beach out in Muskegon on another afternoon (after Dylan's wedding). Jackson is a good swimmer and is actually quite fearless when in the water. We had so much fun in the waves that day!
We had such a beautiful summer last year. Perfect beach weather! Jackson was busy making roads for his cars and digging rivers out to the "sea" ...
We also visited Ada Park where Jackson worked this digger really well all by himself. Jackson is very mechanical and really did a good job moving dirt with this machine. He actually stayed right there for 20 solid minutes just digging in the sand ... so I have about 50 pictures of him doing it. I didn't realize I had taken so many, but I was amazed that he stayed in one place for so long and took the photo opportunity!
Here is Jackson swinging like a monkey on the monkey bars ... he is quite athletic and very physically active ... it's sometimes hard to keep up with him!
Doesn't Jackson looked so adorable in this tuxedo for Dylan's wedding? And this dance with Karis was just precious ... they look so serious! Jackson did a great job being the ring bearer. This was the first time he was ever in a wedding, and wouldn't you know it? They totally forgot to give him the ring to carry down the aisle! He was a bit perturbed about that! I don't blame him a bit.
These T-ball pictures have been stolen from Sabrina's blog ... isn't her camera so clear ... or perhaps it is just Sabrina's ability as a photographer. This is Jackson's second year playing T-ball. He was selected for the All-Star team this year! He has hit many home runs, he loves to slide into base, he fields the ball well, and has even played shortstop successfully.
What a great opportunity for Jackson to build his athletic skills and learn the game of baseball! We are proud of you, Jackson!
Here's hoping your SEVENTH birthday is full of happiness and fun. We are thinking of you, Jackson, and send you all of our love!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The last few days ...

It's been sizzling HOT in W. Michigan the last few days. I've been out and about taking a few pictures here and there.
Look at the nest Grandpa Jones found attached to a fallen branch on our front porch the other day! No eggs, cracked or otherwise ... I wonder who made it? And WHO taught those little birds how to construct such a cool house anyway?
I went back downtown Sunday afternoon to hang around Festival of the Arts. As I walked by, this youth choir was loudly singing, "Oh, How I Love Jesus!" They had a great sound. The crowd joined right in with them, those that knew the words to that great song!
I took another picture to show you how high the Grand River is ... see how the walkway is completely submerged at the bottom? Monday morning, I took a totally enjoyable walk with my friend, Karen, over at Meijer Gardens. The flowers there were SO stunning ...And look at the geese and goslings!
Tomorrow morning, I'm leaving ... on a jet plane ... from here to El Paso to spend EIGHT days with Jesse and his family. I won't really have access to a computer, so I'm going to happily UNplug while I am there. I'll post pictures and tell you about our time together ... about 10 days from now!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Yesterday at Festival!

The first weekend of June in Grand Rapids always means one thing to me: Festival of the Arts. We drove downtown yesterday afternoon and parked over by the fish ladder. I haven't been down here when the river has been this high for quite awhile!
Isn't that a pretty sight? We walked along the river and then crossed over to where the action was ...
I love going downtown for Festival of the Arts. It is so much fun to walk around and enjoy the aroma of all kinds of wonderful food cooking on grills! And little kids and grandparents are everywhere ... together! There is face-painting and great crafts to do ... I was badly wishing our grandchildren didn't live so far away!
This is Calder Plaza, where most of the arts and crafts tents are located. I didn't really spend much time looking at the great stuff on display and for sale because I wanted to be sure to be at Rosa Parks Circle in time to hear Dylan and Kelly's band play.
Their band has changed names several times. Presently, they are known as "Handmade." I like the name!
Dylan plays bass guitar, harmonica, and keyboards (if available).
I love to see Dylan this happy! He is completely in his element with these good friends and their music. They are a very talented group. They write all of their own music.
Kelly is the lead female vocal. Her voice is pretty amazing. She is just FULL of music and I love to see her perform.
It was a mild and wonderful breezy afternoon. Nice sunshine. "Handmade" played for about 30 minutes!
I absolutely love this picture of Dylan. He is so completely into this!

I had a lot of fun walking around the stage with my camera, taking shots here and there. I had even more fun last night editing all of the pictures.
This is a wonderful picture of Kelly, except the microphone is kind of blocking her beautiful smile. She is a natural performer.
After their set was over, they had to tear down so that the next group could occupy their space. We didn't see them afterwards, but walked to where we could get a bite to eat. I ate the grilled shrimp kabob and garlic toast ~ yum!
I so intended to get back downtown today and have a good look at the art, but so far I haven't done it! Maybe tomorrow ...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Walking around Reed's Lake ...

Yesterday morning my dear friend, Karen, and I walked around Reed's Lake ... the entire lake! It was a gorgeous morning to walk with one of the nicest people on this earth, enjoying her kindness and friendship. It was perfect.
I've hardly ever spent any time around this part of town, so I'm not familiar with it at all. Karen lives close by, so she showed me the new boardwalk area that goes out into a swamp/bog kind of place ... so beautiful! We could hear the frogs talking. The colors out there were just stunning ... and the lily pads! The lilies hadn't opened yet, so I didn't take any pictures of them ~ perhaps in a few days, I'll go back and see if they have bloomed. There were several cool webs along the boardwalk ... it was windy, so they weren't perfect ... and thankfully, the spinner of this web was nowhere in sight!
These delicate wild flowers were everywhere. I just love them. I'd love to dig a bunch of them up and transplant them to my back yard flower garden!
These two photos are the underside a flower that looks just like a sparkler on the 4th of July!
"I will praise Him from the bottom of my heart. Lord, who can compare with you?" PSALM 36.10
This is such a pretty place, isn't it?
The beauty of the place and Karen's company made quite a long distance walk (for me!) very pleasurable ... And then! I got to see something I had never ever seen before in my life ...
This swan couple had FOUR cygnets with them, although it's difficult to see all four of them in these pictures. I took so many pictures, hoping to get a few that would capture their amazing gracefulness and dignity ...

But that was the best I could do! I'm not sure I'll ever have another opportunity to photograph baby swans. But it is enough for me to have seen them with my own eyes!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Welcome little granddaughter ...

I've been TRYING to hold off posting the announcement of our newest grandchild. She was born two-and-a-half days ago! Her parents have a nice blog and regularly post pictures and newsy tidbits for us on it ... and I know they will post her beautiful pictures and all of the statistics regarding her birth as soon as they are able. Since I do not have any pictures of her, other than ones I could blatantly "steal" from their FB page, I can't show you her beautiful little face. Adam and Emily are hosting Emily's folks right now and I am certain they are too busy to think about blogging, etc. But I do not want to risk falling into the category of horrible mother-in-law and/or wicked step-mother ... so I have compromised with this posting.

Her name is Jasmine Genevieve. She is perfectly beautiful, and she is our sixth granddaughter! "Jasmine" means "little flower" and "Genevieve" means "white wave" ... aren't those cool meanings? Jasmine has very graciously evened the score of our grandchildren to six granddaughters and six grandsons. While we were waiting to hear news of her birth last week, I went shopping and picked out three darling interchangeable outfits for her.
I can't wait to give them to her! And I designed a special card for her birth ...
The Scripture on the inside of her card: "You gave me LIFE and showed me your unfailing LOVE." Job 10.11

Welcome to our family, Jasmine!