Saturday, August 22, 2009

School, Owls, Lego's and more!

I started keeping my nephew Waylon when he was just six weeks old. This past Monday, he started Pre-K at the local elementary school. I was saddened this past spring when his mom (my sister) told me he would be going to school in August. I am happy that he is going to be getting services there that I could not provide for him, but at the same time I am missing him on the days that I keep his little brother Wyatt. I did have the privilege of getting Waylon ready and taking him to school. He cried when I took him (he didn't want to stay) and Wyatt cried because he wanted to stay at school. I wanted to just pick him up and love on him and bring him back home with me. I didn't though, because I knew that he needed to be there and also because his parents would not be very pleased with me. His teacher said he didn't cry for long, which made me feel a whole lot better about leaving him. One thing that I can say about not having Waylon during school hours with me is that I now have time to have that one on one bonding time with Wyatt. I have never really had time for just Wyatt like I did with Waylon. So this past week started my days of Wyatt bonding. Actually next week will be the real thing, my kids don't start school until then so I had to share Wyatt with "Tyr" (Tyler) and "Kaen" (Kaelyn) as he calls them. I did get to sit with Wyatt at the table while he and I colored an owl, then I cut it out and he did the gluing with a little help from "Tes" (that is how the boys say my name, I guess they hear us saying Aunt Tania's and to them it sounds like Tes). Wyatt really liked playing with Tyler's Lego's (hint hint Crystal). Yesterday Wyatt, Tyler and Kaelyn came out of the bedroom with Kaelyn playing her guitar, Tyler playing drums (that he made from some boxes) and Wyatt playing a trumpet (out of a paper towel tube). Not only did they have a band of their own, but they were a marching band. I love to watch Wyatt march. He would tell me, "Watch Tes, I march). It doesn't get any sweeter than that.

Wyatt with his "ow"

Playing with Lego's

"Little Drummer Boy"
Waylon came to my house after school on the days that I was keeping Wyatt. One of the first things that Waylon did when he got here, was to go over to the computer and want me to turn it on for him. After I would turn on the computer he would show me what he wanted to play (every time it was the Publix Preschool Pals). He would spend about ten minutes playing then get down and go play with something else.
I know that Waylon is going to have a great year at school. He has two very sweet teachers (Mrs. Christy and Mrs. Wendy) and I know that they both love the kids that they are working with. Yes, I will miss him during the day, but I will still have him in the afternoons and I'm almost positive that if I tell Crystal I need a Waylon fix, she will let me spend that time with him.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Family Reunion

Today we got together once again for a family reunion. This time it was for my side of the family, (my mom's family). We were able to visit with my mom's sisters, brother and their children and grandchildren. Also in attendance were some of her cousins and their children. When my mom's dad was still living we would have this reunion every August. Then as some of the older generation started having health problems, the reunions were few and far between. Eventually they stopped having them. Then four years ago, some of mom's cousins decided to get together and start the reunions again. The first two years that they did, the attendance was really good. However, the last two have not been well attended. I know that the last three years our family has gotten the award for having the most family in attendance. I would have to say that is partly because this is the only time that we see some of mom's siblings, and we look forward to seeing them and of course getting to eat some of the best coconut cream pie that my Aunt makes. (YUMMY!!!)

I hate to say it, but we just take for granted that we will see them again at the next reunion. The sad thing about it, is that they don't even live in another state, just up in the northern part of the panhandle. So I have decided that I am not going to wait for the next reunion, Chuck and I are going to take the time to take our kids to see my aunt and her family. I want my children to know my aunt, uncle and cousins, not just know who they are, but to know them like I do. I also want to get to know my cousins children better.

Our family

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A homecoming to remember

July 30, 2009 - This is the day we are supposed to be traveling back home. We were up at 4:00 a.m. to finish getting everything together, then dropping off the rental car and catch the shuttle to the airport. Everything was going great until we got to the airport. When printing our boarding passes at the kiosk, Chuck saw where our 9:15 flight had been delayed to 9:50. That wasn't so bad, we could still make our connecting flight. Then when we got to the gate, the sign reads that the flight has been delayed to 10:40, not looking very good for us. So Chuck goes up to the attendant at the gate to see if we are going to be able to make our connecting flight. While he is waiting for the man to retrieve our flight information the display at the gate changes to having our flight delayed until 11:00. By this time we know we will not be able to make our connecting flight. We found out that our flight was delayed due to mechanical problems. After standing at the gate for about an hour and a half we finally had a flight scheduled for the next day. The nice thing about it was that everything about our flight is the same as today's flight, just a different day.

Next we spent another hour getting all of our suitcases back, a total of seven (four of us then Chucks parents and brother). When we went down to baggage claim we had to talk to the lady there (she wasn't very nice), we gave her our claim tickets, she called someone then told us it would be a while before they called her back to let her know if they were able to find our luggage. My brother-in-law Doug asked if thirty minutes would be enough time for her to find out something. She said it would be, so we started to leave out, but before we did, I gave her the sweetest "Thank you sooo much for helping us, we really appreciate it." and all this was done with a smile on my face. You know, she actually smiled back and said "Glad I could be of help". So thirty minutes later we headed back to baggage claim, and what do I see, our luggage. I go in her little office and tell her we are there to pick up our stuff, she says," They could only find six of the seven bags." You guessed it, mine was the one missing. After telling her what it looked like, she called the guy back, and in about ten minutes I had my suitcase back.

July 31, 2009- We are headed home today! All of our flights were on time and we made it back into Florida without any problems. Our drive home seemed to take forever. I was so ready to be home. I had a wonderful vacation with my family!!!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Chapel and the Garden of the Gods

July 29, 2009- Today we decided not to take a guided tour as we had earlier in the week, but to do our own touring at our leisure. Our first stop was at the United States Air Force Academy. When we arrived there we stopped at the visitor center, where we took in all of the academy displays. I was really impressed with one of the displays, down at the bottom of the plaque were these words, "Who will go send me." Isaiah 6:8. We walked along the trail to see the Cadet Chapel, this is one of the most distinctive buildings in the country. The Chapel was beautiful, both inside and out.

Chuck & Kaelyn walking down the aisle of the chapel

A view of the chapel and dorms

While outside at the Chapel we were able to have a great view of the Cadet area. We observed the Cadets marching and practicing their drills.

Our family on the trail from the visitor center
to the Chapel.
Once we finished our touring at the Air Force Academy, it was time to stop off at the gift shop. Tyler loves planes (one day he would like to design planes for the military) so he bought a couple of posters of planes that the Air Force uses. You would have thought those posters were secret plans for something the way he has protected them.
Next on our stop, something for lunch. We ate at the Balanced Rock Cafe in the Trading Post at the Garden of the Gods. After lunch we got back in our rental cars and drove through the Garden of the Gods. If you are ever in Colorado Springs, make time to visit this interesting place. All I can say is it is gorgeous!

The Scotsman

My sweet little girl

My strong young man!
We had a great time today, very tired, but a great day!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

An Aquarium and Bass Pro Shop

July 28, 2009- Today we took Tyler and Kaelyn to the Downtown Aquarium. We were not sure how long it would take us to walk through and look at everything they had there. It ended up only taking about an hour to explore the aquarium. We saw some pretty neat and unusual animals there. I was not able to get pictures of everything that I wanted to, as taking pictures through the glass tanks they had there didn't turn out very well.

After our visit at the aquarium we went to the Cherry Creek Mall, where we had pizza for lunch. Tyler and Kaelyn did a little shopping and both got a Denver Broncos hat. Tyler went with a blue one with the orange and white logo, and of course Kaelyn had to have a pink one with a white logo. After the hat purchases we stopped by the ice cream shop so the kids could get ice cream. While they were doing that I walked over to Cinnabon and bought Chuck and myself a cinnamon roll to have later in the evening with our coffee. Several years ago Chuck and I started having coffee in the evenings together, (when the weather is nice we have it outside) and this is our time to have together to talk or sometimes just sit quietly together. The kids know that they are not supposed to bother us unless it is a true emergency. No we don't just ignore our kids and not have time for them, but we do carve out time for us and try to spend at least 30 to 45 minutes each day with just alone time, some may say, "why can't you have that time after your kids have gone to bed?" , my answer to that question is, I believe that our children need to see there parents having time for one another and see parents loving each other. Okay, so I know I've gotten off from telling about our trip here, sorry, but I needed to get that out for some reason.
We got back to the hotel in time for Chuck and the kids to put on swimsuits and head to the pool for some afternoon swim time. I opted to stay in the room for some rest time. When the "fishies" got finished swimming it was time to get ready to go eat dinner. We met up with my father-in-law and mother- in-law, and also my brother-in-law and went to the Bass Pro Shop. We ate dinner at the restaurant they have there. After eating we spent some time looking around. Tyler and Kaelyn both bought a shirt, I know they could have gotten one of those here in Florida, but they were just itching to buy something there. There was a shooting range there that Tyler and Kaelyn were able to shoot at some targets. Bless Kaelyn's heart though, I don't think she hit many of the targets that she was aiming for, but she did have a good time.

Tyler taking careful aim to hit his target

Kaelyn trying her best to hit something.

These were the targets they were trying to hit.
It was nice to have a relaxing day with my husband and kiddo's. I am so thankful that I was able to make memories with them.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Whistles, Bells and Mountain Peaks

Echo Lake

Monday, July 27- This morning we were met at the front of our hotel at 7:45 by Ray with Gray Line Tours. He picked us up for the tour that we signed up for - Whistles, Bells and Mountain Peaks. We traveled westward and climbed the foothills (actually we rode in a mini bus) along the squaw pass. There were many photo opportunities which of course we took advantage of. We stopped at the historic lodge on Echo Lake, (which is a natural lake) for lunch and time to take some pictures. The pictures just don't do this lake justice. It was so gorgeous. As I looked around at my surroundings I was reminded that God created everything that I was seeing. He is the master artist.

This is one of the old dining cars of the railroad

I saw this little chipmunk while our train was stopped
We then headed to Sliver Plume to board the Georgetown Loop Railroad. We rode this 19th century narrow gauge railway at over 9,000 feet above sea level. After our train ride we drove through the historic silver mining mecca of Georgetown. We saw Victorian homes, buildings and some rather unique shops. While stopped in Georgetown we went into a candy/ice cream parlor, where we each got an ice cream cone. I decided I would try a flavor that I had never had before (unusual for me, I know). My choice, pralines and cream, this was some of the best ice cream I have ever eaten. I do believe I have found a new favorite. While in Georgetown I visited this little shop by the name of Aspen Creek Gifts, I bought Kaelyn a very cute little necklace there. The lady in this shop was just as sweet and friendly as she could be. She had a variety of things in her shop, fine jewelry, woolen apparel, log furniture and contemporary art. If you ever get to Georgetown, Colorado stop by and see her at 509 6th Street.

The store front with the American flag is the Ice Cream Parlor we visited

When we were finished in Georgetown, we headed back into Denver by way of the scenic route. I think we were all glad to get off that bus at our hotel. A fun day, but very exhausting!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Reunion Time

Kaelyn & Tyler with my in-laws.
July 25, 2009- This is the day that we had the actual "family reunion" that we went out to Colorado for. The reunion was for my father-in-laws mothers side of the family, (okay, so are you totally confused?). Chuck's grandmother passed away just a few months before Kaelyn's first birthday. We were able to meet some of her sisters and brothers. She has one sister that looks exactly like her, if Chuck had not told me about Aunt Elvina, I would have walked in there and seen her and thought that it was Grandma sitting there. As I said in the previous post, Grandma was born in Haigler, Nebraska. She didn't move to Wray, Colorado until she was older, she lived in Wray for about six months to a year before moving to Washington, DC. While in DC she worked for the State Department and met Grandpa during World War II, he was serving in the Army. They married and eventually moved to Pennsylvania before moving to Florida. We had a good time at the reunion, one thing that I can say about this family is they like to have fun. They had a softball game going on, I think the youngest person playing was about 4 and she was just a runner for one of the older ladies. I'm not sure how old the oldest person to play was, but I imagine they were pushing well over the age of 70.

Some of the family
Later that afternoon we drove out to this field that is home to the "three corners". This is where Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska meet. We were able to stand in all three states at once. It was pretty neat, I stood in Kansas while my husband stood in Nebraska and we kissed. How many people can actually say that they have kissed their spouse while in separate states? When we left the three corners it was time to head back to the reunion site, and say our goodbyes. Then we headed back to check out of the Butte Motel or as Kaelyn called it the "BUMO" because of the partially missing sign. We drove to Ft. Morgan where we found a comfortable hotel got a good meal and slept very well.

Standing at the three corners

On Sunday (July 26th) we went back into Denver. Since we could not check into our hotel until 3:00 p.m. we took the kids to BOONDOCKS, where we were able to do mini golf, go-karts and laser tag. So much fun. After we were finished there it was time to go to our hotel (Staybridge Suites) and check in. Chuck's parents had already gone and checked in, they also checked Doug in but our room was not ready so we had to check ourselves in. Anyway, when we got there to check in, you guessed it, our room still was not ready. Apparently the room they were going to give us had a guest that had a medical emergency and had to go to the hospital and the doctor didn't release them until well after check out time. So the next several minutes of conversation between us and the guy at the desk goes something like this:
Me: "They don't have swine flu do they?"
Guy at the front desk : "Oh no" (like he would really know). He assured us that he would put a rush on our room getting cleaned.
Chuck: "What room will we be staying in?"
Guy: "Room 407"
Me: "Okay, so the rest of our family is here on the ground floor, and we are on the 4th floor, is there any way that we can get a room on the ground floor too?"
Guy: "I don't think so, but let me just check for you, well we do have a guest who has not checked in yet that has a ground floor room, let me see if they requested this particular room. No they did not, we can go ahead and put you in room 107 which is a ground floor room."
Me: "Thank you so much"

Good grief, you go on vacation with family and then hotel staff wants to split you up. I just knew I didn't want to walk four flights of steps everyday coming and going to our room as much as I knew we would (I'm not much of an elevator person). We had a very nice room. It was a two room suite. There was a small kitchen equipped with a full size fridge, sink and dishwasher, then a two burner stove top and a microwave. The living room was open to the kitchen and had a sofa that pulled out into a bed (which the kids took turns sleeping on). The bedroom had two queen size beds and then there was a nice bathroom. We were very comfortable in our room.

After settling in our room it was time to go find some dinner in this big city of Denver. We found this excellent BBQ restaurant right down the road from where we were staying at. Sam Taylor's BAR-B-Q, let me just say they know how to make some good ole BBQ. I got the pork plate with baked beans and potato salad, Chuck ordered beef brisket and ribs. I didn't try the ribs, but I did have a taste of that brisket and it was some kind of good. So if you are ever in Denver and want some good BBQ, head on over to Sam Taylor's. One thing that was disappointing is that they do not serve sweet tea in Colorado. So needless to say we were glad to get some sweet tea when we came home.

Here are some random pictures that were taken on our trip.

Standing on the "Butte" overlooking the town of Wray.

This barn sits just past Aunt Elvina's home

Tyler, Kaelyn, and Chuck relaxing. Notice that they all have their own bag of beef jerky.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Vacation to Colorado

We just returned home last night from our vacation to Colorado. It is going to take me several days to post everything about our trip that I want to. So please be patient with me, I want to tell you all everything and have you enjoy the pictures as much as I enjoyed seeing the sights.

On July 24 (Friday) our family along with Chuck's parents and his brother Doug left the Jacksonville airport headed for Colorado for a family reunion/vacation. This was the first time that Tyler and Kaelyn had ever flown. Tyler loved it, you would have thought that he was a frequent flier. Kaelyn on the other hand was a little nervous. She held on to my arm and hand so tight as our plane was leaving the gate, (Tyler sat with Chuck across the aisle from us) I looked over at her and saw that she was crying- she told me that she was scared (this was the first time that she ever mentioned that she was scared about flying) of course I started tearing up and wanted to cry right along with her. I knew that I needed to keep it together for her sake though. So I told her that there was nothing to be scared about, when we know that God loves us so much that He cast out the fear that we may have. It was then as we were getting ready to get on the runway that she wanted me to pray with her. What a BLESSING! She still cried and laid over on me until we got up in the air. It didn't take long for the tears to go away. Our flight was great. We landed in Atlanta and had just enough time to use the restroom before boarding the plane for the last leg of our trip out west. When we boarded the plane in Atlanta to head out to Denver, Kaelyn was a pro (you would have thought she had flown dozens of times) she joked around with her Uncle Doug and talked so easily (yes she was back to being herself) .

Once we arrived in Denver, we had to ride the "subway train" to get to baggage claim to pick up our luggage. Kaelyn really enjoyed this ride, and was a little disappointed when it came to an end. It didn't take long for us to get our suitcases, (thank God nothing got lost). After about an hour and a half we finally had our rental cars (My mother-in-law had made the reservations weeks before, but still had to stand in a very long line and then it took forever once they reached the counter) and were headed to Wray, (about a two and a half hour drive) where the family reunion would be held on Saturday.

Chuck & Kaelyn riding the "Subway Train"

When we got into Wray, (a very cute little town) we went to the Butte Motel (let me just tell you, the town of Wray only has a few motels and the one we stayed at was the best one in town). Needless to say this was not the Hilton, no where near it. When we went into our room it smelled all musty and in general just down right gave me the creeps. The curtains on the windows looked as if they were about to fall apart. I just sat down on the bed and felt like crying, I didn't though. After getting our rooms we went "exploring" around Wray. While we were out we saw that some of the streets were blocked off to traffic. They were having their "Wray Days" . We walked around there for a little while, then got back in our rental car and drove to Haigler, Nebraska, (this is where Chuck's grandmother was born) it was about a ten minute drive from Wray. We thought just maybe we could find another hotel to stay in, but no such luck. As a matter of fact, the nearest town with a decent hotel was about an hour and a half away and it was already late, we were all tired and just ready to get some sleep. So we knew we were just going to have to stay at the Butte Motel for one night, but we were checking out the next day and driving that hour and a half Saturday evening after the family reunion to find another hotel to stay in before driving back into Denver. We couldn't check into our hotel in Denver until Sunday afternoon.

In defense of the sign at the motel looking like this, they had a tornado come through earlier in the week and took part of the sign. This message was on the sign, "Our sign went with Dorothy and Toto".

More of our Colorado trip will hopefully be posted tomorrow.