Gabriel Days

Mike and I kept our youngest grandson, Gabriel, for the final three weeks of school.   It was enjoyable and sometimes challenging.  He recently turned four and is a busy little man.  Mike, or I should say Grandad, had him for the first hour he arrived, I am not an early riser and Grandad enjoyed his early time with our Gabriel.  Grandad and Gabriel are best buddies.

As a side note please know that I am totally aware that Webster prefers to spell Grandad with two ds.  Spellcheck is always annoyed with me.  My version is the way the grands pronounce the name they call their grandfather.  Sorry if this bothers anyone, I am a correct grammar/spelling freak but since I am also the writer I get to choose what is OK for my blog.

I played hours of Hulk, policeman, Doctor, house, trucks, hide and go seek,  Ipad,  and watched Disney Junior, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Monsters Inc.  We played outside as often as the weather allowed, sometimes cleaning the front porch, gardening, or four-wheel riding.  We did errands and he was a great little helper.  We had lunches in many different restaurants and he was a polite well-behaved addition to our twosome. DSC_1286_edited-1   DSC_1285_edited-1

We enjoyed our days with Gabriel but I worried I was being neglectful of his pre-school training.  I decided every day we would spend a little time “learning”.  I started with the alphabet, choosing H because H is for horse and Gabe loves horses.  We worked on colors, he is great at those.  We painted one picture daily, using paint with water pages.  He totally loved the cup of water with the paint brush.  “Are we playing school?”, he asked.  “Nana, do you want to be a teacher when you grow up?”, another Gabriel question.  I love his questions, and our conversations.DSC_1284_edited-1 DSC_1286_edited-1         DSC_1280_edited-1

One day I fixed “busketty”,  Gabriel’s favorite meal.  He loves warm hot rolls with his spaghetti but I only had the makings for garlic toast so I thought that would be a good substitute.  I had too many things going on that day and the toast broiled a few seconds too long.  The edges were a little brown but I was quick to formulate a plan, explaining to Gabriel that Colton (his big cousin he loves and adores) prefers his toast with these dark golden edges.  Gabriel contemplated  my words, studied the toast and just when I thought I had successfully finessed my grandson he looks up and says, “I wish my Colton was here, I would give him my toast”.

Our three weeks with Gabriel has come and gone but we made some sweet memories together.

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Mixed Prejudices

My two youngest grandchildren love to visit “Old McDonald”, their name for the fast food place known for its golden arches. I, of course, do not share their love for this place but my desire to please them does occasionally have us partaking of happy meals. Grace and Gabriel always seem to enjoy their boxed food but the highlight of the visit is playing in the indoor PlayPlace.

We made a golden arch stop this past week. My Grace and Gabriel made quick work of their burgers, gogurts and apple juice anxious for the climbing and sliding to begin. The playground area has tables for the parents, grandparents and assorted other care givers to sit and for me, endure the least amount of time I feel will make my little ones content with the experience. My biggest problem with the playground is the garden of germs I fear exists inside it. Everyone who knows me understands I can be a little germaphobic, (could NOT find that word in the dictionary, who knew?) I want things neat and orderly and I like things clean and this playground will never meet my standards. There are other parks for small children but the Oklahoma heat pushed us to choose the ONLY indoor playground in our city.

As my grands were playing I noticed a large group in the center of the room. There were super cute little ones in high chairs, they had very curly hair and beautiful skin the color of café au lait, three beauties to be exact. I could tell there were many other children with this group and I decided perhaps a small day care was there for lunch. I observed the small ones feeding themselves fries and worried (I do that) they would choke. After the fries came ice cream cones, the cones were handed to them and the mess that followed was monumental.

It was at this time that I noticed the older children were entering the play area carrying their ice cream cones. There is a sign that clearly states no food allowed in the PlayPlace. One little boy carried his cone into the playground but was eating it as fast as he could so I thought perhaps there wouldn’t be too big a problem. Moments later another little boy had his cone dripping all the way down his hand and arm and onto the floor and went running into the playground. At this point I went to the entrance and called for my Grace and Gabriel, I told them we had to leave because there was a child dripping ice cream all over the equipment.

Rounding up my two is never easy and I had to enter the play area to recover them. They were both pretending either English was not their first language or that they could not hear my voice and it took many attempts. I had no idea I was about to be ambushed. I turned to see if Mike had successfully captured one of ours and the “mother” (I am being so generous with that word) of the ice cream drippers was standing beside me wanting a confrontation. She had a napkin in her hand and was saying “Where, where is the ice cream, I don’t see anything” and pretended to wipe the floor. I looked her straight in the eye and said “probably on all the children’s feet”. Her comeback was “I suppose you don’t have water at home”. At this point I realized she wanted to argue and I did not want to participate. I said, “leave us alone, I have nothing to say to you”. I gathered my sweet ones and we went to the restroom provided and I washed their hands with lots of soap and water, knowing when we got home I would also scrub their little feet. They were happy and unaware of any confrontation, but my Gracie asked “why was there ice cream on our slide?”

Even though I had made it clear I was not going to argue with the woman she never hushed. Mike told me as we left some other parent reported the situation to the Old McDonald staff and they spoke to the group about the “no food allowed” rule. I noticed the other guests were giving me looks like “you go girl” as we exited, I thought they were happy for the rule enforcement. Later Mike explained to me what was said while the kids and I were washing. She loudly told her children, (I guess they were not a small daycare), not to grow up and be like “them” (Mike and I). She told them we were prejudiced and did not like them because they were “mixed”.

I have thought about those words a lot these last few days, “prejudice” and “mixed”. I have decided I am both, my family is mixed in many ways, we have Native American ancestors, we are of French descent and I am sure a multitude of other nationalities. I have one black son in-law and two Caucasian, I love all three. I am most certainly “mixed”.

Now for prejudice, I am also prejudiced, we are all prejudiced. I have little to no tolerance for laziness, I cannot abide ignorance (when it is a choice), and I detest dishonesty and hypocrisy. But wait, there are more, I am also prejudiced toward abusers and molesters, for those monsters I have absolutely zero tolerance. Yes, I harbor prejudices.

My Old McDonald experience has made me reflect on myself. I have admitted to being mixed and prejudiced and I am ok with both. I know I am also open minded, I love with all my being and I always try to do the right thing. I am ok with that too.

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Valentine’s Day

February 14th is always a day to think about love. I am truly blessed in that area. I love so many people, I even have things I love, places I love, and ideas I love. I have friends that are beyond special, family I would do anything for and a man I love more than life. You may think I have forgotten my love for our Heavenly Father, but no, I know every love I have previously mentioned came from Him.

Even though my Valentine and I have celebrated this day 42 times (40 years as husband and wife) we planned a short outing for this one. We only drove as far as Tulsa but he planned the days filled with things I love.

We ate dinner in a nice restaurant, spent a little time at the Riverspirit Casino (an activity I enjoy, him not so much) then spent the night at the beautiful Doubletree Hotel.

The next day there was a wonderful Vintage Antique Show. He made sure I was there before 9:00 a.m. to enjoy early buying privileges. There was a 200+ year old cupboard I asked about fitting in the truck, he was sure he could find a way. As most antiquers are likely to do, I did a quick run through of the building then walked it all again, he never complained and offered to make a package run to the truck.

We eventually headed to Jinx, one of my favorite antiquing cities in Oklahoma and later had lunch at our favorite steakhouse. The day included some other shopping, Michaels for some scrapbooking supplies, my Michael doesn’t particularly love that store and Bed Bath and Beyond, which I know is not on his top 10 list either.

My Valentine and I don’t always exchange gifts anymore, we are of the age of having everything we need and most of what we want. Having made that statement I totally love and appreciate that he gave me a couple of days he planned with things I love. I will finish by saying, “thank you sweet Valentine, I am so glad you are mine”.

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Disney Return Trip, Days 6 and 7

Day 6, Sunday, June 9, 2013
This day was a little sad; I wasn’t really ready to head home. Our return trip started super early Sunday morning, we had to be at the Disney Magical Bus stop at 4:00 a.m.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The big plus side of this plan was being in Oklahoma City at 11:15 a.m., giving all our Monday morning workers the day to rest and prepare for their work week. Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men, little did we know the day ahead of us.

We arrived at the airport on time, successfully negotiated the security and luggage checks and found our terminal. The plane boarded, we thought soon to be Houston bound (our connection).  Then the drama began; we waited onboard one and a half hours for the repair of mechanical problems with our plane, never good news. We began to feel déjà vu; Tuesday was happening all over again.

Finally, we arrived in Houston on a repaired airplane and yep, you guessed it, our connecting flight was long gone. We eventually found a United Airlines Manager who became our friend and lifeline.

We were able to get four standby tickets and the plan was for Courtney, Roy, Colton, and Kinsey to be on the first Oklahoma bound flight.  This was not an easy process; they boarded one at a time and had a United employee working diligently on their behalf, without her help they would never have had seats.  Kinsey was the last one to board (Mike stayed with Kinsey so she was never alone during the wait).  The United “angel” pleaded with the pilot that she could make room for this little girl, she told him she was very small and her only luggage was a teddy bear.  She had assistants bring her pieces from the  luggage hold then held them up for the plane to view.  If no one claimed the luggage it was removed from the plane.  A few large suitcases were discarded and Kinsey was allowed to board.

In a period of 3 to 4 hours the nine of us left stranded in Houston collected enough standby tickets to wallpaper a room. None of the standby flights were successful for us. Our United Manager, by now he is Brandon to me, told me he wanted to secure each one in our group a confirmed flight for the next day and hotel rooms. The weather was deteriorating quickly and he explained that soon flights would start being cancelled, every passenger in the airport would have to reschedule and hotel rooms would be filled. I watched a line of two people (I was one of the two) grow to a line of more than one hundred unhappy frustrated travelers.

With Brandon’s help our group headed to a hotel and we were given vouchers to pay for food for the evening. The afternoon we spent in that stormy Houston airport terminal was not all negative. When you have hours to pass that can open the door to communication which can lead to strengthening relationships.

I want to mention that in the hours of conversation I shared with Brandon I learned that United Airlines is a reputable company that tries to do the right thing. Months earlier our group of thirteen had booked tickets to and from Florida, this consisted of a total of four flights. The actual number of flights  changed to nine flying on two different airlines, and of the nine flights the thirteen of us traveled together on only two flights. Brandon knew there was no way to give us back the days we lost flying (or NOT flying) with his airline but he did what was in his power to do. Flight vouchers were issued to all thirteen of us, covering the entire cost of our flights.

This was an exhausting and extremely stressful day, a Sunday I never want to repeat but we survived with a vacation story none of us will ever forget.  I always try to find the positive side and in this situation I am happy to say all thirteen of us are taking vacations in 2014 with our flights already paid for.

Day 7, Monday, June 10, 2013
Charity, Mike, Grace, Gabriel and Tyler had another 7:00 a.m. flight, this time they boarded, flew and arrived in OKC, on schedule and basically problem free. Jake and Eric were able to change their 1:15 flight to a 10:30 a.m. and traveled safely home. Mike and I had a 11:15 a.m. flight and spent our Monday morning shopping.   I found a Brighton shop and made my layover more enjoyable. We brought up the rear and were the last, exactly as we wanted it, to step back on Oklahoma soil.

Our travel days were far from ideal but I was grateful we were all safe and hoped someday we would all look back and share a chuckle. Vacations are really about spending time together, experiencing new things and most importantly creating memories.
I have shared my memories of our Disney trip but there are so many more, I would love for the rest of my family to add to this. Each one of us had a different experience, my words have of course come from my perspective.  Would my dear family please add your thoughts and share at the very least a special memory. Happy blogging.

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Disney Day 4

Friday, June 7, 2013
On day four Jake and Eric had plans to spend part of this day having a dolphin experience. It was off of Disney property but it was one of those “bucket list” items for Eric so I was thrilled they had made the arrangements. They swam with dolphinsIMG_0036    IMG_0039,

even kissed a dolphinIMG_0037 IMG_0038, and had beautiful photos with them. I have to admit I think I would have loved meeting the dolphins too, but oh those really tight black outfits, not sure about those.  I hope Jake and Eric will add some details of their dolphin experience to this blog.
Day 4 found Tyler, our 26 year old bonus grandson, Mike and I at downtown Disney. We decided to splurge on Cirque Du Soleil tickets and their theatre is located there. After securing our seats we strolled for awhile shopping, Mike and Tyler both tried some bikes Mike Harley D_edited-1 Tyler Harley D_edited-1they asked if they could purchase (they were Harley’s). We spent many hours with Tyler on our trip; he even stayed most of the nights in our rooms. We worried he would be bored with the “old people”, but he told us many times he was having a great time and thanked us again and again for bringing him.

This trip was a celebration of family for Mike and me. We were celebrating the beginning of our family because forty years ago this very month we were married. We had brought three generations to Florida and felt really grateful Tyler was with us. The first night we checked in Mike and I were given buttons to wear that said “happy anniversary, 40 years”. Disney staff is so well trained to notice the buttons that I bet we were told “happy anniversary” more then 100 times. These happy words made us smile every time and be thankful to be so blessed.
Everyone but Jake and Eric met at The Crystal Palace for our lunch reservations.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This meal included such guests as Winnie the Pooh, Eyeore, Piglet, and of course Tigger. I look back and think no one enjoyed the characters more than Gabriel OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA .     Pre-trip I had worried Gabriel, who just turned 2, was too young for the full Disney experience. I was so wrong, he found so much he could do, so many to love and he absorbed every ounce of Disney magic possible.  Charity has always been a Tigger fan.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA        Roy, Courtney and Kinsey visited with Eyeore OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA.  Kinsey   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA hugged Eyeore.   Lunch was satisfactory and filled our tummies, our young ones paraded with Tigger holding Gabriel’s hand, which filled our hearts.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Right outside of the Crystal Palace there was a photo spot.  We took turns posing and or smooching for the Disney cameraman. Here are just a fewPhoto0533FourBySix Photo0536FourBySix        Photo0539FourBySix Photo0541FourBySix     Photo0546FourBySix     Photo0552FourBySix

Charity, Mike, Grace and Gabriel found another photo spot Photo0519FourBySix and also got to meet Buzz Lightyear Photo0524FourBySix       Photo0525FourBySix.
After lunch we divided, this was our first really sunshiny day, translation hot day. The hot afternoon found many of us back at our resort for some much needed rest. I spent some time at the beautiful pool. Mike, Jake, Courtney and Roy listened to a one hour presentation about Disney’s Vacation Club. We were staying at Saratoga Springs, a vacation club resort, and they were interested in the feasibility of being a member. If you are able to go to Disney yearly I think it might be a wise investment. I think an annual Disney trip might diminish its specialness, maybe that’s just me.
Our family had evening reservations at the Grand FloridianPhoto0564FourBySix for dinner with Cinderella and Prince Charming.    The wicked stepmother and Cinderella’s step sisters were there too.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA One of the sister’s was very interested in Jake and EricOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA; Gabriel once again captured the heart of a princess, Cinderella.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  Tyler posed with Cinderella as well OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe food was our very least favorite; we had imagined the Grand Floridian to be the best. I ate a slice of pizza from the children’s buffet, enough said. Princess Kinsey and Princess Grace danced with Prince Charming and hugged and posed with CinderellaOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA, they had become use to being treated as royalty.

The Disney cast (from street cleaner, photographer, sales clerk, ticket taker, to every character) are all trained to bow or curtsy, offer respect and reverence and love every little princess. I saw a young sales clerk at the Disney Emporium bow on one knee in front of our Princess Grace; she looked him up and down and with a tiny smile dismissed him with a curtsy, her little hands holding her dress on both sides. I also witnessed Princess Grace being asked for her autograph, she happily granted their request. On the bus that transported us to and from the parks when a princess was aboard the announcement was given, “attention Disney vacationers, please make sure you are on your royal behavior because we have a princess on board”.
As day 4, now evening, continued, we spent time with Courtney, Roy, Colton and Kinsey. We wanted Roy to experience the vintage Disney rides, he had been on every roller coaster from Space Mountain to Splash Mountain to Thunder Mountain (wow, I never realized Disney kind of has a thing for that “mountain” word ). Roy, Courtney and I rode Pirates of the Caribbean and the Jungle Cruise, Disney classics. I had worried most about my son in-law, Roy, having a great Disney experience. This was his first time and not really his, for lack of a better phrase, cup of tea. Now that we are post-trip and he and Courtney are already planning a return trip I think that speaks volumes and makes me happy. Then all six of us rode “It’s A Small World” together, everyone loves that. It was time for fireworks, Kinsey sat on Mike’s shouldersOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA and we all watched the sky light up again.
This might be a good time to mention my Colton. I feel certain he had a really great time, he used the word “awesome” too many times to count and I received many Colton hugs always with a “Nana thank you so much for bringing us”.  I truly love all my grands the same, I have just known and loved Colton, the oldest, the longest.

Charity and her little group had made plans to meet Princess Aurora from Sleeping Beauty Photo0585FourBySix Photo0590FourBySix and also Princess RapunzelPhoto0600FourBySix Photo0596FourBySix, and wouldn’t you know Gabriel had found another pretty princess to lovePhoto0613FourBySix

Jake, Eric and Tyler hung out together that evening.   These two pics were not on our photo pass when we got home. The guys remembered sporting their new Mickey hats and were disappointed this shot was lost.   Mike made a phone call to Disney’s incredible photo department and together they tried to pinpoint a general time and location and among thousands of pictures taken that evening Disney’s people found the photos.  A little more of that Disney magic.Photo0627FourBySix    Photo0621FourBySix.
After the fireworks we went different directions from the Branch family and miraculously happened upon Charity and her family. It is late evening and we are all anxious to enjoy some fun rides.   Grace and I started with Dumbo.   The Disney cast member helping with the Dumbo line was intrigued with Princess Grace, (Gracie was wearing her Cinderella gown again) and questioned her about her evening and her feelings toward Prince Charming. Princess Grace told her she had danced with him that very evening, the young line assistant admitted she too had a crush on Prince Charming and said she wished she could have been at The Grand Floridian and danced just like Gracie.

Grace and I rode Dumbo two times, the sweet young men let us stay on and avoid the line. Not to be outdone Gracie then found her Grandad and asked to ride Barnstormer, twice for that one too. We made our way back to FantasyLand and all 6 of us rode Peter Pan, Charity and Mike finally riding just the two of them, Gabriel with Grandad, and I had the honor of Princess Grace. After another It’s A Small World we chose beautiful horses on The Carousel as our final ride of day 4. We stopped at The Disney Emporium as we headed to find our bus home, Grace and Gabriel had a nightly ritual of choosing their favorite character stuffed doll or animal to add to their collections.
We closed Magic Kingdom as day 4 drew to a close. The Disney bus took us back to our resort which I have never described. I mentioned it was called Saratoga Springs and was part of Disney’s Vacation Club Resort. Each of our four rooms had a spacious foyer, a nice kitchen, a living area with a large sofa bed and big flat screen TV, a balcony, a great size bedroom with another TV, a huge jacuzzi bathtub, a separate room for the shower, another room for the toilet, and a closet with a stackable washer and dryer. Very nice rooms and such a step up from our original rooms you would need a tall ladder.

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Forever Friends

If you are a lucky and truly blessed person you have a circle of people you will love forever.  To borrow a phrase one of the people in my circle used today, you have a “forever friend”.   Often time or distance or circumstance kept us apart.  Family, work and everyday life took priority, and appropriately so.  But I have found when you have a forever friend all the space and time that has separated you melts away when there is a need.

Attending the memorial service for the sister of one of my forever friends has given me cause for reflection.  Big sisters are special and I enjoyed hearing two of her nephews share their memories.  I too have fond memories of this unique lady.  She was in my life when my forever friend and I were teenagers.  I always thought she was “cool”, she never told us we couldn’t do something.  She would usually insinuate that if we believed we were old enough and smart enough we should go for it.  Looking back she may have been using psychology on us.  I loved and admired the fact that she seemed to always have a “cause”. She was an easy person to love, a characteristic I think is not learned but God-given.  She will be remembered and missed, two things we should all aspire to be.

My forever friend was a great little sister, she can be proud of the time and love she willingly gave.  I will close by saying thank you to my forever friend, I am glad you are in my circle and I will always always always be there for you.


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Talking to Santa

In our area of Oklahoma we have had an early ice/snow/arctic cold front.  I didn’t sign up for this, this is not supposed to happen, especially not this early, it is not even real winter yet.  I get cabin fever pretty quickly and I guess it is a trait I passed to my daughter Courtney and my granddaughter Kinsey.  Over the weekend Mike and I decided to brave the cold and the slick roads and because we knew Courtney and Kinsey were batching it (their men were hunting) we invited them to join us.  When we phoned to see if they needed anything  their answer was “yes, out”.

One of our destinations was the mall.  We shopped at many stores but as we approached the center of the mall we came upon Santa’s hangout.  Kinsey convinced her Grandad she should visit with the jolly man in the red suit.  Grandad is pretty easily convinced by his grandchildren, which of course makes him a good Grandad.

Courtney and I continued shopping and did not witness Kinsey’s Santa visit.  Mike shared their conversation with me the next day.  I knew I would share it in a blog. It went something like this,

Santa asked “What would you like Santa to bring you for Christmas?”.

Kinsey answered “I really want Shellie May”.

Santa, perplexed at never having heard of this doll asked   “Does Shellie May wear a pretty dress?”

Kinsey responded, “She doesn’t wear a dress.”

Santa followed with “Oh,  does she wear a cute shirt and pants?”

Kinsey said, “No”.

Santa, now with eyebrows raised a little and  concern in his voice he asked “What does she wear?”

Kinsey told Santa “A necklace!”

Santa glances toward Grandad, both men a little uncomfortable  when Santa says, “What kind of doll is Shellie May?”

Kinsey replied matter- of- factly, trying her best to be patient with this Santa, “Shellie May is not a doll, she is a bear.”

Santa and Grandad exchanged looks of relief and after high fives and hugs Kinsey was ready to continue her shopping.  She shared with Mike that she would love to meet the real Santa.  She knew the mall Santa was really just a helper, not like Santa’s elf helpers,  because of course Santa’s elves were very small.

Shellie May is in fact a companion bear to the Disney bear “Duffy”.   Last summer our family visited Disney World and Kinsey came home with a much-loved Duffy, she has talked for months of  wanting Shellie May.  I hope Santa can make his magic happen because Shellie May can only be purchased in Tokyo’s Disney.  I believe in Santa’s magic.   When Mike told me this story I knew it was meant to be shared.

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