Thursday, August 27, 2015

Improvisation is the Name of the Game

The kids wanted to make cookies.  I did not want to go to the store again!  We looked in the pantry to see what was available and I found a recipe on line for sugar cookies that didn't need baking powder.  We didn't have enough white sugar so we added some confectioner's sugar. Sarah and Miles use a whipped yogurt spread instead of butter so we used that where butter was called for.  I had no idea if these cookies would turn out AT ALL but the substitutions didn't seem to matter and they were actually very good.  Kinda cakey.   Then we made the traditional confectioner's sugar/milk/vanilla frosting and the kids each picked a color for their frosting.  We found some sprinkles so we were good to go!
That night, Beck and Elle wanted to sleep on the couches in the family room.  Okay, why not?!  They settled in and Beck went to sleep pretty quickly but Elle and I stayed up for awhile and had the best talk about all kinds of important things.  I just love it that she is old enough to have serious conversations with me--it was so interesting and fun to hear what goes on in the thoughts of a 7 year old.  We talked about everything from getting ears pierced to why many men don't like to cry in front of people, to Elle's hopes that our cats will still be with us when we move to Dallas, questions about my dad who has been dead since I was 18, and lots more.  I loved it!
 Love these sweeties so much!
The next day Beck had a "popsicles at the playground" event at his preschool, where the kids were supposed to be able to meet their new classmates for the upcoming year.  I didn't put Jack down for his morning nap because we had to go but I figured we wouldn't be there long and he could have an early afternoon nap.  Of course, he fell asleep in the car seat on the way to the preschool.  I had originally planned to just carry him in my arms while we were there, though in retrospect it would have been a good idea to take a stroller.  I got the older two out of the car and then decided I would just let Jack sleep and carry him in his car seat.  Oh, my goodness.  Bad idea!!  That thing was so heavy and we had to walk quite a little ways to get to the playground from the parking lot. I actually had to stop twice and put him down and take a break. What was I thinking??  People were looking at me limping along like I was a lunatic.  We got to the playground and I set his carseat on the ground for the duration while he slept away. The kids had a popsicle and played a little bit but never did see any of Beck's friends or classmates.

It was really hot outside so we didn't hang around for long. One of Sarah's friends recognized me and we chatted for a moment. She said I got the grandmother award for bringing all three kids by myself and allowed that her mom would have never done that.  LOL  I was happy to get a little validation.  :)
The kids wanted to make a welcome home sign for their parents, who were arriving later in the day. Again, I did not want to go to the store so we set about searching for items we could use.  Elle found these red cards but we couldn't locate any scotch tape or string/thread to hold them together. I was quite proud of my improv here:  dental floss, paper clips from Miles' office to hold each card onto the floss, and black electrical tape to hold the sign on the wall.  Pinterest worthy?!  Well, "A" for effort, at least!
 The kids added some of their special cookies and cute little welcome home notes that they'd written.
 Mommy and Daddy are home and they brought presents!
Sarah and Miles were delayed at DFW because their bag did not make it with them.  Elle kept wanting me to text Sarah and see where they were.  Several times it was "still at the airport."  The kids were SO anxious to see their parents!  Finally Sarah texted that they were about to turn the corner so we went out into the back to watch them approach the carport. OH, such happiness!  It was sweet to see their little reunion.
 Another picture of Jack eating. haha
 The next day was Miles' birthday so while he was at work, we made a cake and decorated the house.

Miles reading his cards.  Happy birthday, Miles!  I am very lucky in the son in law department--all three of my guys are just the best.  Miles is such a nice person, great husband to Sarah and wonderful father.  And he even likes his mother in law pretty well.  :)  We get along great--I am very happy to have him.

After a fun night, it was time for me to pack up and get ready to leave the next morning for Clyde, Texas, where the fun would continue at Susan and Corey's.  I had a short stay in Dallas so I will be visiting with them some more on my way home in September.  I loved keeping Elle, Beck and Jack--they were really sweet and easy, even if I am feeling a little old to be doing the 24/7 thing with kids.  It can be exhausting! But in a good way, for sure. I loved every minute of it!

The Case of the Leaky Baby (and other Gigi mishaps)

I am paranoid to drive in Dallas with the grandkids in the car and try to avoid it at all costs.  Usually there is someone else around so I leave the driving to them!  But this time, I was on my own and we needed to make a Target run.  I had promised the kids they could get a toy and I needed a few things as well.  After Jack's morning nap, we decided to go for it!  I didn't think I needed to take his whole diaper bag so I set out two diapers and a package of wipes and we went out to the car.  I got all three buckled into their seats and then realized I must have laid the diapers and wipes down on the couch on the way out the door.  I was too worried to leave the kids in the car alone while I ran back into the house, and I did not want to unbuckle all three and take them inside, then have to start all over. "We won't be gone that long," I thought. Even Elle said, "It's okay, Gigi, we won't be gone very long."
I drove to Target, which is not that far from their house, with no problems--hurray!  I got everyone out of the car, put Jack into the seat of a shopping cart, and we made a beeline for the toy section, where we browsed for a good thirty minutes while Elle and Beck weighed the merits of various toys on Gigi's approved list and price range.  Once they settled on one thing each, we went to pick up a few other items we needed.
While walking down an aisle, I thought I smelled something, and sure enough, Jack had done his business in his diaper.  I figured we were almost finished and we could just rush through the rest of it and get home in no time.  We quickly picked up the rest of the items and meanwhile Beck had climbed into the cart, where he said, "Gigi, why is my toy all wet?"  Oh, my goodness, I looked down and Jack's diaper was leaking (just #1, not #2, thankfully).  We had swung into Starbucks (inside Target) because I was dying for some tea and had promised the kids a drink. I thought it wouldn't take too long, but, of course it did!  Finally, I had my tea and the kids had a strawberry smoothie and we were just about to walk away when a woman said, "Ma'am, your baby is dripping all over the cart!"  Major Grandma Fail!  Although her tone let me know that I was a terrible mom, I was kind of impressed that she actually thought I WAS the mom.  LOL  On the other hand, she could have been feeling sorry for these kids who had such an old lady for a mother, who knows!
I had bought diapers but I have to admit that I couldn't bear the thought of trying to take all three kids into the restroom and change Jack in there so I just loaded everyone up in the car and drove home.  I know, I know. Terrible!  Remember I said it wasn't that far, though, right??!  Got that sweet boy cleaned right up and all was well in the world.  We spent another hour trying to put together the lego toys the kids picked.  Let me tell you, I am not that great at following picture directions. Something about that "spatial relations" thing that I've never really been a champion at.  Please give me written directions and I will manage a little better!  Eventually, we were finished, and quite proud.
You'd never know this boy was a preemie!  He has a good appetite and likes all kinds of food so he has really caught up on his weight.
 Yay!  We did it!!
 More swimming and hanging out in the back yard.

At some point I had texted Sarah and asked her if her dishwasher was broken. She said it had been fine when she left.  I swear, I could not get the thing to work--it would turn on for less than a  minute and would then turn itself back off.  I tried everything and it would just do the same every time.  Then it didn't seem like the water in the kitchen sink was getting hot.  It would get sort of a tepid warm but never really hot.  So for two days, I was boiling water on the stove and washing dishes by hand in the sink!  Sarah's friend Candace stopped by one afternoon with her three boys, just to say hi and see how we were doing.  Of course, the boys wanted to swim so we invited them to stay for awhile and they had a big ole time in the pool while Candace and I were chatting.  I happened to mention the dishwasher so Candace went to look at it and started it right up.  What the heck! I don't even know what she did differently but it was fine.  Then I admitted to her that I had been boiling water to wash dishes and we laughed about that.  Later, after Sarah was home, she said it just takes a long time for the water to get hot.  I know I waited and waited but I think I must have been pushing the handle in opposite directions, not sure which way was hot and which way was cold, so I never gave it a chance to heat all the way up??  Or something!  I am not sure how I can be so clueless sometimes!  But luckily there were not really any problems with the dishwasher or the hot water.  Just Gigi problems.
Candace's son Finn and Beck
I said "everybody wave" and it looks like two of them did.  :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


I'm in the middle of a Texas visit to all the kids and grandkids. Rich could't come this time so I am making the rounds and getting in lots of good "Gigi time."  I left Unalaska on August 14th and had a long layover in Anchorage, but my  friend Tammy was also there so we met up with our friend Donna for a nice dinner and conversation before Tammy dropped me back at the airport for the red-eye to Seattle. I managed to sleep some on the Seattle flight and the Dallas flight, so I was not quite so exhausted as I sometimes am when I arrive at DFW. Good thing because I was on babysitting duty for Sarah and Miles' three kids while they went on a short trip for some R&R in Mexico!  Miles' mom had the kids till I got there, so we did the hand-off and she headed home to Cleburne.  I was so happy to see these little munchkins--it had been way too long!

When we were in Rome, we kept seeing these guys on the street trying to sell some squishy pig-shaped toys that they would throw down onto a plastic-wrap covered board.  The pig would make a squealing noise and flatten out completely onto the board, then pop back up into shape.  Eventually, after seeing them quite a few times, Rich thought that the boys would get a kick out of them so we bought three for Aidan, Beck and Luke.  We carried them around for the rest of the trip and when we got home, I was going to mail them to the kids.  I asked Rich if he thought they were still good so he opened one up and proceeded to throw it down onto our table and our kitchen floor several times, unfortunately splatting it open and "ruining" it!  We also noticed there was NO squealing noise.  After a little internet research, it appears that other people had the same experience and it's somewhat of a scam because none of them make any sounds AT ALL and the sellers basically have a little squealer device in their hands that they use to embellish the toy. LOL  Although I had never seen anything like these toys before, I guess I just don't get out much because they are readily available online and have been around for years. haha  So I ordered a box of 12 more in various shapes and colors and brought the box with me to distribute to all the kids while visiting.

That's the very long story to explain the photo at the top:  Beck with two of the squishy balls.  Let me tell you, this has been the best gift ever in terms of grandchild delight and happiness but also the worst gift ever because they don't last any time at all before bursting from the slightest mishandling or throwing/dropping onto anything that is not completely smooth!  Originally I gave Beck two and Elle one because she had another gift. Beck LOVED his so much.  Unfortunately, he burst his first two pretty quickly. I told him he could have ONE more because I had to give the rest out to his cousins when I saw them later in the trip.  Of course, the third one burst soon after.  After much crying and begging that he would not ask for ANY more if he could just have ANOTHER ONE, I relented on #4.  I think it lasted till day two.  :)
We picked up a cute little wooden shoe pencil sharpener with colored pencils in the Netherlands for the girls. Yes, I realize I have gender biased gifts but I really did think they would like these better than the squishy balls.  I could have been wrong because Elle loved the shoe but she also loved the squishy balls and took a little bit better care of hers than her brother did.  LOL
Cute baby Jack!  I hadn't seen him since he was still a scrawny, preemie infant, and although I have kept up with photos and videos from his mama, it was still wonderful to see him in person and to see how much he has grown and progressed! And, in fact, the first time I picked him up, I remarked, "You're heavier than you look!"  I was a little concerned that he might be upset since he doesn't know me at all, but he is such a happy boy and came to me right away with no misgivings.  Yay!
 It was a hot day so we immediately headed for the pool
 Throwing the squishy balls up and trying to catch them before hitting the water

Beck and Jack playing together

We stayed home the first day, played and played, swam, had dinner, and then off to bed!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Spring and Summer in Unalaska, Happy Birthday, Luke, and Happy First Birthday, Ada!

We've had a fun couple of months!  Here's a quick catch up!

 It's the best time of the year, with green hills and lots of flowers blooming!
 Went out with my gal pals for my birthday.  It was warm enough to sit on the deck at the hotel!
 Sonia, me, Tammy, and Melanie
 Then upstairs for some yummy desserts!
We went out for lunch with our friends Kelly and Steve--enjoyed lots of good conversation and a very cutthroat game of food trivia.  Of course, the Chef won, but I was a VERY close second. He has taught me well!  Great seeing these two--we don't get together often enough!  (It was a little windy outside the Norwegian Rat Saloon!)
My birthday buddy Luke turned 3!  He wanted a Spiderman costume for his bday so Gigi and Grandpa obliged.  He is so much fun!  Rich also had a birthday in June but I apparently have no photos and he is not like his wife, who likes lots of attention on her birthday.  He would rather just let it slide. I don't think we did anything special and he probably even cooked for himself.  Hard to believe we are both 61 now.  My, doesn't time slip right past us when we aren't paying a bit of attention??  We did another online birthday give-back bash through Donors Choose and raised about $1700 for classrooms in need.  Thanks to all our family and friends who contributed!  
I had to say some sad goodbyes!  My friends Sonia and Melanie both have husbands on the Stimson, the State Trooper boat, which was transferred from Unalaska to Kodiak due to statewide budget cuts. These two have been in my core group of friends for a lot of my time in Unalaska.  Sonia left first, on the ferry.
 The "Trusty Tusty," the ferry Tustamena, which comes out to Unalaska in the summer
 Bye, bye, Sonia! I'm gonna miss you!
Tammy and I represented the Friends of the Library in the 4th of July parade, with our cool quote from Bob Dylan.
 I love a small town 4th of July!

Shell was in town so we had to show our opposition!  "Shell NO!" to arctic drilling.

We took the cats to see the itinerant vet who was in town and officing from the garage at a local home.  Ajax managed to get out of his carrier on the way back to the car, and all I could see was a streak of fur running down the street. Rich and I went out and looked for him several times to no avail.  Although he'd been lost in a neighborhood he'd never seen before, the crazy cat showed up at our bedroom window at 2 AM.  We were so happy he found his way home!  You might remember his adventure a few years ago when he was gone for 34 days.  Sure wish we knew what he was doing all that time!  If there was ever a need for a kitty-cam...
Melanie's turn to leave.  She's one of the people I've known the longest in Unalaska; we worked together at one point, and she's been my work-out "encourager" and Scrabble playing partner, among other things, for a long time.  I'm gonna miss her, too!
 We had a little dinner at Tammy's
At the airport with Melanie's daughter, Mandy.  Although you might never suspect we have a thing in common, she calls me her "soulmate."  :)  Love that girl and will miss her but I know she's going to knock them dead in Kodiak. She's super smart and a great all round person!
 Mel with friends
One last wave and she's off!

This little cutie turned 1 on August 11.  Happy birthday, Ada!  I was so glad to be present for her birth a year ago--such an exciting time!  We love her lots and can't wait to have more time with her soon!

Now summer is winding down and I am actually in Texas, making the rounds and seeing all the kids.  Blogging that long vacation really put me behind!  :)