Category Archives: Random Family Fun

A little photo journal of Austin 2021 <3

For the record, traveling to see our son for the first time after a year and a half of Covid crazy (thankfully he has been able to come home but we have not been to see him) during the 20th anniversary of 9/11 for someone who carries far too much emotion any one human being needs to deal with may have pushed the envelope for this girl right here.

So as I decompress and hydrate myself from water loss due to tears, here are some photos from our little getaway to Austin this past weekend.

First off, I never ever ever get tired of having a window seat on a plane. While I suffer severe fear of heights when my feet are firmly planted on planet earth, I find looking out a plane window to be one of the greatest delights and can’t resist snapping pictures…

We also enjoyed the snacks tremendously since we could remove our masks while eating and drinking…we stretched that out as long as we could…

John had a bunch of fun and interesting things planned for our visit, but first we made a stop to his new office…

and I think all the moms would agree that stuff like this is just the best to get to sit and watch.

I am picture-hanging challenged so I just enjoyed watching these two work their magic.

We took in a baseball game at Round Rock with one of John’s high school buddies who also migrated to Texas.

John wanted us to see Fredericksburg this trip and particularly the National Museum of the Pacific War. Fredericksburg is the home of Admiral Nimitz and let me tell you, they have spared no amount of square footage or ink to detail the entire story of the Pacific portion of WW 2.

It was like taking a history class…we literally spent three hours walking through and reading as much as our brains could absorb.

If you remember from my opening paragraph, my emotions were already on high intensity overload and when I read the dates of things and thought about my own parents being married several days before Christmas 1942, it hit home what things they lived through and just soldiered on with little complaint of the hand they were dealt.

My dad was born into the first great pandemic and the opening shots of WW1. My mom was born a year later. They lived through the Great Depression, the terrible flood of Louisville the year my mom should have graduated from high school. They were married at the onset of WW2.

They worked hard to make life good for me and to serve others and I am so thankful for them increasingly as the years pass.

The museum was hard. The hatred and conflict and horrors of war was not played down in the displays. Things our country did..things other countries did…showed the depth of cost that wars bring.

And so it was rather sweet to step outside and visit this lovely garden…

a gift from the people of Japan.

This sweet sign explains the heart behind it:

My mom and dad served in Japan after the war and made lasting friends with several Japanese families. They loved the country and their time there and I am grateful that is my memory planted from the war as a gift from my parents.

We returned to Austin in time to watch this one play softball..

which was fun to be cheering him on again from the bleachers and he still blows me kisses when he scores a run so that was sweet.

Afterward we made a run to Home Depot, cause that’s our thing…

We ate lots of good food, enjoyed being a part of a slice of his every day life and as always unsuccessfully fought back tears when we parted ways.

Always fun to visit Texas and always hard to leave that boy behind….but thankful he is always close at heart.

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Beach life, best life <3

I should have labeled this a bunch of randoms. Also be forewarned, it is as much photos as words, but both are important so bear with me.

We stayed at Santa Rosa Beach this time and found it to be quite family friendly area. The condo we stayed in provided public beach access within walking distance, lots of food and ice cream places and miles of walking.

It is not as congested and built up as some areas closer to Destin and we enjoyed the beach area, although one day we did enjoy a beach located in a state park area.

Once again the trip coincided with dear friends and the kiddos had a blast whether on the beach, in a pool, ordering ice cream while their parents had a date night…

or stalking reptiles in the wild…eeeeek….

all good.

I pray protection over these ties that bind in the years to come and hope these two families grow up and grow old together. We have been blessed to enjoy the ride and be included in the fun.

Friendships are fragile.

Sometimes they are lost on ground that one or the other or both cannot move past.

We know the heartache of this kind of loss and we know the joy of longevity that decided there was nothing more important than the relationship.

One day we enjoyed a little “golf” outing on Zach …

reliving Rachel’s childhood.

We took our three to Big Kahuna’s back in the day and as far as we can tell they have not changed one single thing except the prices….$$$$$$$$$$

Rachel proved she still has it with a couple of holes in one…

and while we sweated off several pounds of water, we had a great time.

And this one proved you don’t even have to swing a club to enjoy Big Kahuna’s:

Russ treated us to a Dolphin Cruise again.

We did one two years ago and enjoyed it thoroughly.

The first one we did was on a smaller craft, this one was a double decker – both wonderful.

We saw a lot of dolphins and even some jelly fish which was interesting to watch.

At the end, the captain thanked us for joining the fun and reminded us that Jesus loves us.

That was a perk we weren’t expecting <3

As I looked through other photos, I realized that beach pictures can reveal more of us and our children than we need…but I am vulnerably sharing this one because it represents a most tender realization that this may have been the last year Caroline comes to tell me she’s tired and would I please hold her so she can rest a widdle bit.

I also share it as proof positive for those of you in my life who, when I say I cannot just wash my hair and go and you have told me you are sure it would be fine…it isn’t.

Now let’s all thank the good Lord I live in an age of blow dryers, curling irons and enough hair product to transform that hot mess into something that is presentable <3

We talked some with the kids and adults about the value of returning to the same place annually and landed on the fact that it is exciting to go and see new places, but there is also a kind of comfort in returning to an area and visiting familiar restaurants, doing the same night time crab hunt, ordering ice cream at the same window, hitting up the beach one night in your good clothes for a sundown pic…that feed the soul.

In a crazy world that changes hourly, there is something about the ocean that reminds me of the constancy of God.

Day in…day out…

the surf rolls in, the tides ebb and flow…

They bring their treasures up from the deep and return for more…

while we go on with the daily…

trying to keep our footing on calendars and schedules and relationships….

God is in control.

He created the vast ocean and all that lives in it and He created us.

He cares for us and He holds us together.

He sustains our lives and our times are in His Hands.

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Vacation recap: first leg of the journey

I realize that this is the kind of post that is really a diary for me, but I also wanted to give you some information on some cool things to do if you ever get a chance to visit Atlanta.

And the things to do were the only “cool” thing in Atlanta because they certainly know how to take heat and humidity to a new level.

On Russ’s “bucket list” was a trip to the College Football Hall of Fame. Thankfully the crew was interested as well and we all had a wonderful time here. The staff is mostly young kids and they were masked and yet their eyes conveyed a love for their job and an enthusiasm for college football that was contagious.

As we waited in line to get tickets a young man chatted with all of us. He asked each one who our favorite college team is.

Obviously he doesn’t know I am a stadium hopper….LOL…I told him I am more a fan of the atmosphere and love attending different games and just watching the fans enjoy their traditions. I told him we buy the team shirt and just enjoy being a guest at different places around the country.

He actually understood me.

But we did have to pick a team to go with our badges so most of us went Illini, though Russ opted for Rachel and Zach’s alma mater Millikin.

Every collegiate team’s helmet was represented and when you logged in the corresponding helmet would light up for a brief moment. So fun.

Also please note the gridiron stance of this bunch of goof balls…

Obviously Joel listened well to Lola’s only football advice given over the course of her life – be the quarterback and be so good you don’t get tackled. Ever.

The venue offers three floors, with a lot of hands on features and a wonderful movie that would turn anyone into a college football fan.

At all the displays, your badge works to personalize your experience.

These two cats had identified as Illini fans, when Russ walked up it switched to the Big Blue.

Chick-filla is the sponsor for this place so …

even this celeb knew us by name.

We had the privilege of meeting Terry LeCount. Just a tad older than us, he played for the University of Florida and was the second black quarterback in the school’s history. He also played for the 49ers.

He was such a nice man and so kind. It was an honor to read about the years he spent mentoring young students and now his work at the Hall of Fame.

While the second floor had all kinds of fun activities to do, it was the main floor that grabbed the kids’ attention and they enjoyed burning off some energy trying to make touch downs …

and field goals…

We loved the huge mural that featured paintings for all the schools and we even found the Chief.

After a trip through the gift shop where we discovered why Lola asked us not to touch the pyramid display of Hall of Fame golf balls….we let mom hold our badges…

cause she’s a team player of the finest sort…

and headed to dinner.

Russ had eaten at the historic Varsity many years ago and heard it might be moving to a new location. So we braved the long lines and lack of air conditioning and enjoyed burgers and fries…

Being a non-meat eater and worn out from the day, one of us was less than impressed…

The next day it was up and at ’em for a good breakfast and then a short walk to the Braves Stadium.

Zach had gotten tickets to surprise the kids. At the time he bought them getting to see Acuna was the big draw because Graham is a huge fan. Sadly the young player is off due to an injury to ACL, but we made the best of it.

We got there early enough for the boys to get autographs…

and stayed long enough for Caroline to down most of this gigando container of popcorn…with a little help from her friends.

The stadium is beautiful and clean, the staff was so kind and we thanked the good Lord and our son-in-law that our seats were in the shade…

On Sundays, following the game, they let kids run the bases.

Apparently this is a well-known secret as we stood in line for a sweet forever. There were moments we thought about leaving, but so so soooooooo glad we stuck it out.

As we got closer to the entrance to the field, we could see that you followed the line of families around the outfield and then the kids ran from first to home while we were urged to move along up to retrieve them.

Have mercy. I had no idea what a thrill it is to be in the outfield edge of a major league stadium.

We were snapping pictures on the run and it was making me laugh I was so happy.

I have been blessed to see the home field of the Cardinals pretty close up, but never have I walked where they catch those amazing fly balls as they crash into the wall.


And yes our boys were throwing themselves agains the wall like they were making that miracle out, until they were told not to by an usher ….oh my gosh.

How could you be 10, 8 and 5 and NOT do it???

Of course they all ran the bases, and G waited for little Miss to make it around and then took her hand to walk her back to us.

It was so much fun.

We drove on to our night’s stop and found an amazing place for dinner called Full Moon BBQ where apparently the chicken was good to the bone…

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