09 December 2011

12 Days of Christmas for My Missionary!










12 Days of Christmas for My Missionary!

On the first day of Christmas
Do you hear what I hear?
Joyous harmonies and melodies
Quite pleasing to the ear!


 This Christmas stocking
 Filled with goodies and toys
 To relive your childhood
 And then share with more boys.

Christmas Day Three
Something merry to wear
To add to your collection ~
You’ll have plenty to spare!

On the fourth day of Christmas
This will be something nice:
A box of cool presents
To leave you smelling like spice?

On this fifth day of Christmas
You’ll laugh when you spy
These favorite sea creatures 
I’m not gonna lie!

And on this sixth day of Christmas
You’ll have sweet dreams
As you get warm and cozy
With one of your favorite teams!

Today's gift, 
If you really do care
 Is something special
 You'll need for your hair.
 We know for this mission
 You've truly been called ~  
 But your greatest fear before returning,
Is that you'll start to go bald!

 This eighth Christmas present
 Is refreshing and blue
 Please don’t wear too much
 Just a small spray will do!


Today’s gift is one
That's sure to make you smile,
Too bad you can't enjoy it
For at least a little while.

 This tenth holiday gift
 Is something you’ll need
 Morning, noon and night
 As you ponder and read.

Now this bag full of goodies,
 Some of them sweet
 On Christmas day eleven
 You’ll eat, eat, eat, eat!

And Finally it’s here   -
 The Big Christmas day!
 I’ve so little room
 But so much to say!

 Today is the day
 To celebrate His birth
 There will be much rejoicing
 All over the Earth!

This Christmas present
 Is sure to make you smile
 As you see lots of faces
 You haven’t seen in a while

Remember all these people
 Miss and love you too!
  And wish many blessings
To always shine on you. 

08 December 2011

Busy Days

The last couple of days have been pretty busy.  I am still decorating, little by little.   Yesterday mom came over and we wrapped presents for Mark.  In fact I still have a couple yet to wrap.  I'm planning on making some treats to send to him as well, maybe some Puppy Chow.   Not really puppy chow, of course, but a snack made with Chex cereal, chocolate and peanut butter - very yummy!  He has lots of presents coming - 12 in fact. The plan is that he will open one gift each day for 12 days before Christmas.  He promises that he won't open them all at once - but Greg did when I sent the 12 Days of Christmas to him.  I'll write a little verse to go with each day, such as . . . . . 

Today's gift, if you really do care
Is something special you'll need for your hair.
We know for this mission you've truly been called ~  
But your greatest fear before returning,
is that you'll start to go bald!

Can't reveal what it is though - not yet, anyway, just in case he has the opportunity to glance at my blog!  Well that verse only took a few minutes; so maybe after an hour I'll be done!  Hmmmm. . . 

And today, Mom came again.  If it weren't for her, the other Christmas tree would likely not be up.  But she came and encouraged me to lets get going with the other tree and so we did and here it stands.  I was then motivated to venture into my storage room to find the ornaments.  These are actually my favorite ones, because they're all the special ones the kids have created over the years, plus other memorable ones.  Okay, so it took literally half the day to get this little tree up!  I'm not even kidding.  After my joy in only 15 minutes  spent getting the pre-lit 9 footer up; this one was a major pain in the you know what.  First the branches were not all in the box, so that required me to go back to the storage area to find the missing ones.  If you'd ever seen this storage area, you would understand my frustration.   But I found them - Problem solved, right?  WRONG!!!  Parts of the stand were also missing; which I already knew, but I knew how to improvise!  WRONG again!  My plan was to put the tree in a tree stand that we had for real Christmas trees.  It had worked fine in the past, but this year, not so much.  We got it standing, lights strung - and then it started leaning.  Eventually it was no longer leaning, but closer to lying!  But after much rigging and muttering and threatened crying, we finally got it up.  And it's in the corner, where it belongs for causing so much commotion!  But it's pretty and so far behaving itself nicely.  As I have been writing, Angel, our Cocker Spaniel was attempting to lay down under it; that's one of her favorite corners.  "Don't you dare", I scolded.  She retreated, head hanging.  I don't understand what it is about the whole tree putting up thing that makes me feel so unChristmaslike; that is if it takes longer than 15 minutes!








06 December 2011

Do You Know the Real Reason We Celebrate Christmas?






As I was fixing Garrett's bowl of cereal this morning, I overheard a conversation between him and Gracie, one of the little girls that comes over to catch the bus.  

He was showing off our Advent Calendar, one of my favorite Christmas decorations that we've had since Greg was a baby.  Unfortunately one of the Wise Men has long since disappeared.  

Anyway back to the conversation - "Gracie, do you know the real reason we celebrate Christmas?"  
"It's Jesus's birthday", she replied.
"Yep, you're right!"

Her twin sister Marissa comes over to see what they're doing.
"Marissa, do you know the real reason we celebrate Christmas?" 
. . . . . . . . .

I think he gets it! - Pretty smart for a 6 year old.

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05 December 2011

Follow the Star

Tonight for family night we viewed a short clip depicting the visitation of the Angel Gabriel to Mary.  It can be found at BibleVideos.org and was just long enough for my kids to sit through it.  There's a total of 6  short movies so we'll hopefully get through all of them by Christmas.  We sang Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.  It was short and sweet which equals perfect for our family nights!  


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Afterwards at bedtime, I started reading Garrett this favorite pillow book that we bring out each Christmas.  He wondered why the Angel appeared to Mary in the daytime during the movie, but it was nighttime in the storybook.  Well, all I can say is that I was glad he was at least paying attention.  Alas, it was short lived and we couldn't make it to the 3 Wise Men he got so fidgety, actually obnoxious was how I described it.  And off to bed he went - not happily, I'm afraid.  So we'll learn more about the 3 Kings tomorrow.  I promise, Garrett, really.



04 December 2011

The First Ornament



I'm not stressing about getting everything done in a hurry this year. So as a result, my house is being decorated a little a time.  This weekend was productive.  I was able to finally convince three of my kiddos and a friend of theirs to haul up most of the Christmas boxes from our storage room.  There is still stuff down there in the basement, but I'm not stressing to get down there to find it. Anyway, most of the decorations are out; most of the ornaments  on the main tree.  The top is kind of bare, but the bottom branches are quite full, courtesy of short people with little hands.  I need to enlist the help of a taller individual to get it complete.  


This is a picture of the first decoration of this Christmas season, well not counting the Christmas tree!  


Yes, it's half snowman/half football.  And yes it's adorned in purple and gold instead of red and green.  Gregory had the honor of hanging this little guy on Saturday night, following the LSU win over Georgia in the SEC Championship game.






He's now surrounded by lots of red and green.  There's a little black and gold one hanging nearby too!  Imagine that!  They are new, purchased while home in Louisiana last January.  I was so excited when I bought them because they reminded me so much of Greg. And now he's home, ever-present and yelling and clapping when there's a team from Louisiana playing football!  And what a year to be an LSU or Saints fan!


So it was a good weekend.  Football aside, it's beginning to look a LOT like Christmas; now to start working on it sounding and feeling more like it too!
  

03 December 2011

Praying for the Christmas Spirit



This is one of my favorite holiday pictures of my kids.  This was taken 5 years ago and Greg was just complaining the other day how he didn't like doing this.  I guess we kept taking pictures over and over to try to find the perfect one.  Well, I think this one is pretty close to perfect.


It leaves me wondering, however, what I'm going to do for our Christmas card this year.  Lindsay won't be home until the 19th and of course Mark won't be with us at all this year.  This will be the third year that our family is not ALL together for Christmas. That makes me kind of sad, plus it just frustrates the whole Christmas card thing. I guess, I'll have to do something with individual pictures yet again.  


Oh well, I'll have to contemplate this dilemma later.  By the end of the day my house and tree will be decorated!  I'm hoping the Christmas music will help to lighten my mood, because the kids are seriously depressing it right now.  Perhaps the music will lighten their moods as well - I'm praying!

02 December 2011

The Real Reason



As I get ready to dash and make my sweet potatoes for the ward Christmas party, I remember a fun picture from the annual church celebration 6 years ago - the real reason for all the hooplah!


01 December 2011

Yes, They're Pretty Special

Last night I had the pleasure of going to dinner at Red Robin with my special sister, Stephanie and her special friend, Scott.  And it was truly a PLEASURE!  They were just purely enjoyable to be around!  Nothing was more important to them than the fact that they were in each other's company.  Stephie was girlishly giddy at times which I thought was so refreshingly sweet!  We were celebrating her 38th birthday and I left thinking that I could have easily scrapped the wrapped present - one hour with her sweet and special suitor was all she wanted or needed!  Acceptance, love, friendship, pure delight - those are true gifts.  And it was a gift to me - to be able to watch them and enjoy their conversation.

A dear friend has often voiced the sentiment of what it must be like to be in their world; that is the world of special people like Stephanie and Scott.  I think it would probably be a joyous place to be!  That's the word that keeps coming to my mind - JOY!  The absolute PLEASURE of being with your best friend.  (Although I made the mistake of calling them best friends, and Scott quickly set me straight.  They're not just friends didn't I know that? )  But that unconditional ACCEPTANCE is true friendship, even though Scott may not realize it.

So even though it wasn't my birthday, I think I received the ultimate gift!  It was a lesson in kindness, acceptance, love!   I began to ponder how judgemental, selfish and unaccepting I am.  As we embark upon this Christmas season, my prayer is that I can be more like my special companions and simply accept others as they are, without condition.  And maybe go a step further and not only find acceptance, but find joy in our everday experiences and most importantly in our relationships with those we love!  It will likely take me a while to find my way into that special world they occupy, but I think it definitely worth trying.

So thanks to Stephanie and Scott for what I'll call an early Christmas present.  It was fun to smile and laugh for so long!  Especially when Scott said, "Steph, let me finish, can I talk now?" Definitely no such thing as a Silent Night around those two!




21 November 2011

Not A Whole Lot Changes in Ten Years

Tonight we spent some family time watching home movies from our family vacation to Colorado, Utah and Yellowstone in 2001.  It never ceases to amaze me how little my kids have changed in the ten years that have passed since that favorite trip.  Yes, they have definitely matured during that time – but their personalities are much the same. 

Greg was the narrator for much of the video.  I’m still surprised by how much of a Southern accent he had back then.  I guess I never really noticed it as he was growing up, but boy was it obvious in retrospect!  He still speaks quite slowly; he was a little embarrassed watching, probably because his girlfriend was enjoying the home movies along with us – but I thought it was cute.  It’s just part of what makes him Greg and yet another thing to love about him.   You could tell he felt important because he was given the responsibility of taking the video.  He was sure to tell us what amazing sights we were looking at and would zoom in on the names of the various geysers, springs and mudpots in Yellowstone.  I’m grateful he provided those important aspects, so that now, 10 years later, we would know what we were looking at!   He was the obvious oldest child – reprimanding a younger sibling for saying something silly, hiking in the hundred something degree heat through Arches National Park with his 1 year old brother on his back, complimenting me by taking a picture of me and mentioning my weight loss – yes, I was struggling with weight even back then. 

Then there was Mark!  Questions, questions, and more questions!  Obnoxious noises followed by even more questions.  His dad repeating the same thing over and over and over again to him, until he finally complied.  Let’s see: spitting in the hot springs to see if his spit would boil; taking a stick and “writing” in these bacterial deposits in Yellowstone, despite signs warning to leave the natural habitat undisturbed!  Curious and destructive!  Hmmmm,  wonder how New York City and its inhabitants are faring!  But I love him like crazy and miss him terribly right now.

Lindsay was the boss, well kind of. I think she and Mike were competing for that job.   Should I be even slightly surprised?  She wasn’t bossy in a mean sort of way, which did actually surprise me a little.  She would just tell people what they were supposed to be doing.  Ummm, she still does that.  She was tough as nails, doing whatever her big brothers were attempting, but there she was playing with the little ones and making sure they were safe!  That’s my Lindz!  Gotta love her too! And something else that I noticed – she was almost always with me – when she wasn’t doing some kind of daredevil thing, that is. That kind of surprised me and made me smile just a little.  Maybe she didn't really mind being with me as much as I might have thought.  
  
Then Todd . . . thinking that he was as big as the others, following in their literal footsteps; showing that he WAS bigger than Thomas – taunting and teasing just a little.  Hmmmmmm. . . .     Throwing a big rock at Mark, crying when he didn’t get his way – I should explain that he was only 4!  Well, that still doesn’t explain the rock.  But cute, with a sensitive side that teared up very easily.  And Patiently holding out a Cheeto for a groundhog.    Yep, that would be Todd, more patient with animals than with his siblings.    A little bit more challenging – but I love him lots anyway!

Thomas was only about 18 months during that vacation.  He was still so little – but he was so good.  I remember how amazed I was that he tolerated 2 weeks of camping so well and so easily.  My biggest concern was keeping his face and clothes clean so that the bears wouldn’t smell him coming!  He was pretty quiet and rarely complained.   Okay, so Thomas is a lot more vocal these days and I’m sure he would have something to say about long car rides and staying in a tent and the outdoors for so long with absolutely no electronics!  But that sweetness and innocence is still there, even today.  Who can help but love Thomas?




Needless to say, Garrett was totally bent out of shape because he didn’t make an appearance in this movie.  My thought is this: after listening to all the kids’ fussing and crying, throwing rocks and screaming to go to the bathroom, plus looking at the loaded-down Suburban with barely room to spare – well, let’s just say I’m totally amazed that Garrett made an appearance at all!  Period!  He’s lucky he’s even part of this wonderful family, but then so are we.  

30 October 2011

Change is Good

Yes, I'm writing again.  It's been a while, I know. Today's topic is change, defined, it means to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be.  Today I am embracing change.  It started with a haircut last week, as well as a new color.  So I guess that would be making something a different form.   I'm liking that change so far.


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On Monday I will venture on a new course!  I am rather excited about it!  I have accepted a position with a home health corporation. (making my future course different.) I'll admit that I'm not looking forward to the 40 hour weeks for the next 2 months while I am in training, but I do so look forward to learning something new and starting a new phase of my career in nursing.  I'm especially excited about having more one on one time with my patients and actually getting to do some patient education, about medications, disease processes, etc.  That has by far been my favorite part of nursing - teaching!  Imagine that!  What better way to combine my 2 degrees/careers.  Ok, I actually wrote this last week - I have already completed my first week. I thought it went rather well.  The online training and huge orientation manual were a bit tedious, but I've learned a lot already!  I actually was ably to observe another RN during her patient visits, and I think I'll like it once I'm on my own - just so much new information to learn.


We've also done some home improvements - on the outside anyway.  It's not quite finished, but will be soon.  Otherwise things here are much the same.  Same hubby - just terribly busy of late, same kids driving me crazy!  Missing Mark and Lindsay a LOT, but enjoying time with Greg - it's truly as if he never left.  



Of course fall brings with it some beautiful changes in color and temperature!


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Another big change - Todd got his braces off! 







A new outfit for Garrett -
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Mark's also experiencing some recent changes in his mission.  Read his latest email also titled "Changes" at www.marksnymission.blogspot.com.   I guess it snowed in New York City this weekend.  I'm anxious to hear how he survived the early winter visit.  These are a couple of recent pictures on his 20th birthday:





Lindsay is adjusting well to college life.  I only talk to her about once a week, but we share messages by texting and on Facebook once in a while.  These were taken on a recent weekend visit to Utah to tell her best friend, Tre', good-bye as he leave for his mission to Puebla Mexico.




So there have been a ton of recent changes - but overall life is much the same.  I'm striving to live each day at a time, enjoying each moment as best as I can.  Some moments are more challenging than others.  Some are just plain crazy.  Others, quiet and peaceful.  Such is the life of me!

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11 July 2011

Day 9 ~ Garrett!

Well today, I will attempt to get back on track as far as writing here.  I was doing so well for a while!

Friday was Garrett's 6th birthday!  It's hard to believe.  Seems like yesterday the nurses were placing him in my arms.  I remember thinking, as those big somewhat goopy eyes stared at me, that he reminded me of Todd.  And what do you know - Garrett and Todd look the most alike out of all of my kids.  He's pretty stubborn and quick to anger like Todd too.  But he has such a sweet side too - he love to sit close to me, still loves to sleep next to me (when I let him) and loves to give hugs - like Mark.  He's very tender hearted and shows his feelings, like Thomas.  Bossy and independent like Lindsay - HA!  In constant motion and noisy, like Greg.  I don't believe Greg's quite so noisy now, but when he was little he was so energetic just like Garrett.  Garrett does well sitting still in school and usually in Primary.He'll watch a movie or TV show fairly quietly.  But every once in a while  he gets some sort of urge to move and make noise.  He will typically grab an action figure, sometimes a toy weapon of some sort, but more often than not he will get hold of some obsolete object ( a handy clip to hold big things together - like electrical cord bundles; tongs used to turn meat on the grill and who knows what else?) and then he goes.  He runs and runs, back and forth and makes interesting noises.  Often I'll stop him and ask him what he's doing and he'll just give me a sheepish grin and say "playing."  The other day he was looking for something (probably the clip I mentioned), and he said "you know for when I'm doing that noise thing."  So I have no idea what's going on in that cute little head  - but he's busy!  (Just so you know, Greg used hangers when he would run around and make strange noises - and I think he turned out pretty okay!)



Despite his sharing traits with his older siblings and picking up on some of their habits, both good and bad - Garrett is .. . .   uniquely Garrett!  We are so blessed to have him in our family.  I prayed to know if I should have one more child and received a very clear affirmation!  I know he was meant to be a part of our family and perhaps he's the child that will help me learn patience!  HA again!  I do feel rather old at times when I'm chasing him or having to physically remove him from a situation.  I'm often caught thinking, "I'm too old for this,what was I thinking?"   But it's a fleeting thought.  I love him dearly.  I'll put a positive spin on it and maintain that he is keeping me young!


Happy Birthday Garrett!  I hope I have many, many more birthdays to celebrate with you!  Love MOM


30 June 2011

Day 20 ~Awesomely Fun and Fabulous Evening

Last night, I had the absolute pleasure of attending a concert with Michael ~ to see none other than Keith Urban!To say it was a fabulous event would be an understatement.  Keith (cause you know I'm on a first name basis with him now) is an awesome entertainer, multi-talented and yet so down to earth.  I had attended one of his concerts about 5 years ago and vowed I would return.  And yes, I can't wait to go back again!   He was that good!  Are you getting that I thought he was wonderful?

 About halfway through the concert, he made his way to a platform that was situated in the middle section of the arena, very close to where we were seated.  Keith then announced in his wonderfully cute Aussie accent "who has the best seats now?"  Yep it was me, along with a bunch of other guys and gals.  Mike continued to encourage me to GET CLOSER.  Funny, that is actually the name of the tour.  So I did my best.  I ended up about 8 feet away from him, with only about 4 people separating me from the platform.  Yes, I was mesmerized, as I was singing along - I was thinking "am I really this close?"   I ended up wedged between some guy and a girl whose beer glass was dangerously close to my personal space. But I really could have cared less.  Yes, he was a truly a treat to behold - blue eyes, tight jeans, beads of sweat, beautiful voice!  

It was fun to feel like a young girl again.  But perhaps the biggest surprise for me was the grin on Mike's face. First of all I think he was surprised at what a great performer Keith Urban is.  He puts on a fantastic show for male and female, young and old.  But I think Mike kind of got a kick out of watching my girlish enthusiasm.  And wouldn't you know, I got pretty darn close, but Mike actually touched him!  Yes, he kind of got shoved and brushed his shoulder.  (sigh!)  So for a couple of hours my mind was on Keith, but Mike knows where my heart really belongs!









And here's a short clip of what we got to experience.  Mike's taking the video, towards the end the girl in the black bow - that's me!
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21 June 2011

Day 30 ~ Feels Like Summer

Yesterday I ventured out with Thomas and Garrett to Alligator Creek for some fun in the sun!  We met up with Heather and Chloe, friends from KC that used to live on our court.  The weather was perfect, not too hot and the water splashes from Garrett were refreshing!


Garrett was a little bit nervous about getting in the water alone.  He's so used to constant companionship!


But then a Justin Bieber song came on, he started dancing, and all was better!


Thomas and Chloe were great at entertaining Garrett.  He loved the lazy river.  And Thomas even jumped off the diving board into 12 ft water.  He was a little bit nervous, but he did awesome.  I really think he wanted to impress Chloe!


We finished up with a trip to Snobiz for some awesome snoballs.  They aren't on every corner like they seem to be back home in NOLA; they are few and far between here.  These were our first snoballs of the season.. Delicious!

19 June 2011

Day 32 ~ Memories of My Dad

Today is Father's Day, so today's picture is dedicated to my dad.  I am certain I don't say it enough, but I love him dearly.  He taught me to never give up, to believe in myself.  I know he was proud of me and he would just give me a hard time so that I would try harder.  He still does that. I won't even mention Big G, Little G and Fat G - oops I just did.  Hah!  All in good fun!
As I sit here brainstrorming fun memories ~ here's what comes to mind:
digging for worms in the dirt
squeezing next to him in his big recliner
me running to greet him when he came home from work yelling "DAAAAAADDY!"
teaching me to hold a bat
going to lots and lots of restaurants as I was growing up
his oh so corny jokes
him wearing my ma ma's wig just for fun
trips to the country to see his "old aunts"
long discussions about just about anything you can imagine: politics, religion, football, John Wayne movies
long walks everywhere - to church, to shops on Metairie road, parades, and even a long walk back home from Lakeside Theatre after "Star Wars"
throwing rocks in the creek in North Carolina
lunch at Bud's Broiler
dots of shaving cream on my nose
singing jingles in the bathroom as he shaved - Roto Rooter; Ajax the foaming cleanser
me being "the squirrel", Stephanie was "the rabbit"
watching the Stooges and Shirley Temple movies; Abbott and Costello; Laurel and Hardy
putting on the old records and dancing to songs like "The Baby Elepant Walk" and Al Hirt songs
the taste of salt as I kissed his face when he was working in the yard
Happy Father's Day! 



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17 June 2011

Day 33 ~ Simply, I Am Blessed

Without a doubt, I am blessed.  


My week has been less than spectacular.  I've had a cold that has dragged on, missed a day of work, got very little accomplished around the house.  And then today I was just starting to get back in the swing of things when the kids became very noisy, my head began throbbing and a virtually new computer purchased for Greg was no longer functioning.  Suffice to say that little human hands had been all over that computer.  I was crying, yelling, scolding and then found myself at the desk here attempting to address a graduation card.  I glanced up and saw the Facebook page open and read a few posts here and there.  I became even more irritated as I read about the successes and joys that friends were experiencing.   I admit, I should have taken pleasure in well, other people's pleasures, but not today.   Instead I began contemplating deleting my Facebook account so I wouldn't have to read about other people's good days and be left feeling bad about my less than good ones.  


So I expressed what I was feeling and this is what I wrote: I find Facebook to be such a downer at times. I really enjoy reading about others' experiences, but it can be a huge waste of time and I often come away feeling others have it more together and are just better at everything. So all in all it's probably not a good relationship. I think maybe it's time for an intervention.


And almost immediately family and friends came to my rescue.  I was reminded of all the blessings I have and not to take things posted so seriously.  Which, I of course, already knew.  But sometimes we must be reminded of even the simplest of things.    


So I'm thankful for the MANY comments!  It's nice to know that someone out there really is listening, or in this case, reading!  And that you cared enough to respond and not allow me to participate in my pity party for much longer.  True friends will be there when you're even a little bit down, confront you with reality when needed, call you on the phone, make you laugh and even offer chocolate!  So thanks again ~ I'll hang on to you guys, on Facebook and in the real world! 


So, as I was saying . . . I am blessed!  With so many tender mercies, too plentiful to number!  Here are just a few, in pictures . . .




Last month Lindsay and I spent a weekend visiting friends in Kansas City and went to the Princess Diana exhibit at Union Station.  This was the only picture we were allowed to take.  It was a replica of the cake from her wedding to Prince Charles. 


The next day we had lunch at the Plaza in downtown KC.  Very lovely.  We chose Cheesecake Factory for lunch.


Lindsay was becoming impatient waiting for our meal.


But she thoroughly enjoyed it when it finally arrived!



Here are a couple more candid shots taken with my phone:  Thomas after Tae Kwon Do

and Todd showing off his Sunday best


and last, but not least, a couple from Mark in New York