Archive for the 'Extended Family' Category

“O, the infinite value…”

Of a skilled Research Consultant.

A mere 20 minutes after I posted “Sunset in Somerset” in which I bemoaned our failure to locate Scott’s dad’s grave marker in Somerset, Kentucky, Katie sent me this link, which please do click. As you can see, the upright gravestone we so diligently sought does indeed exist (Whew!), and there’s a good reason why we never found it: We were scouring cemeteries in the city of Somerset in south central Kentucky, but Scott’s father’s U.S. headstone is not and never was in Somerset at all; it’s in Warsaw, a city on the Ohio River some two and-a-half hours (146 miles) north of Somerset!

I feel simultaneously both somewhat dumb (or at least ignorant) and very, VERY relieved.

To Katie I can truly say, “Yes, good has been done here. Thank you!”

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I do remember blogging.  Honest, I do!

I go through these periods of time when I blog regularly and feel so productive and happy, but those periods are inevitably followed by times of hecticness – either literal or mental – in which I blog not at all.  Rather, I don’t blog on the computer.  I am ALWAYS blogging in my head!  Nearly every day something happens that makes me think, “Now that would make a great blog title!” or “Oooh, it would really be fun to blog about that!”  But the time isn’t right (I’m standing on the bridge in the rain during my final lap. . . or I’m in the shower. . . or I’m driving – or being driven – down the road with Andrew. . . etc.) or I just don’t have time, and so it never happens.  Then, when I do get around to it. . . you know, my Aunt Mil gave me a “round to-it” when I was a kid; it was a cross-section of a tree limb, about an inch thick and four inches in diameter, with the word “TUIT” wood-burned into the surface and then varnished. . .  As I was saying, when I do get around to it, I feel guilty that I haven’t kept up, and I feel a need to go back to where I left off, but it’s too long ago, and I can’t remember what I was going to say, and I regret that that memory is now lost and won’t be written about, and I get discouraged, so I don’t write anything, and then the next day it’s all worse!

So today, I am going to just say, for the sake of saying SOMETHING, that I am really, really thankful that my mom is OK.  A few days ago, she suddenly lost consciousness in Wal-Mart, collapsed, and landed hard on her back and head, giving herself a concussion.  After an ambulance ride, a couple days in the hospital, and an awful lot of tests to try to figure out why she had this very scary episode, it was determined that she is almost old (well, she’ll officially be old in a few weeks).  She also has some rather complicated heart issues that can’t actually be corrected, but that mean that her heart works very hard and can’t keep up when her brain requires extra blood.  Now, while there is certainly nothing humorous about her situation, one does wonder what exactly it might be about the meat department at Wal-Mart that could require extra blood flow to the brain.  Anyway, Mom is home now and recovering, with instructions to take it easy, avoid certain positions that send extra blood to her legs, and see her cardiologist again in ten days.

I am also thankful for my amazing husband, our four wonderful children, and a great place to live.

I am not thankful that I am hopelessly unable to beat my amazing husband at Ticket to Ride.

I will blog again soon.  Without feeling guilty.

What a nephew!

Last week, our nephew, Christian, came from North Carolina to spend some time with us and attend a one-week Christian (no pun intended) camp with Andrew at Kids Across America.  Christian is 15 and was adopted by Scott’s sister, Kristy, last year.  He is – like all of us – a unique fellow.  He and Andrew spent some time at Silver Dollar City (on what had been the hottest day of the year to that point) and another half day at White Water (where they both favored the KaPau Plummet slide – the one where the floor suddenly drops out from under you and you basically free fall down through an enclosed tube – a slide I would not go on for $1000 dollars!)  We also went swimming at Big Rock, where a horse fly harassed Christian mercilessly.  “We don’t have horse flies in North Carolina.  And since I’m not a horse, why is he after me?!?!”

Christian is big into eating (cereal at any time, watermelon when available) and sleeping (in the car, on the couch, under the desk, on his bed, at the breakfast table, really anywhere).  When he’s asleep, only an earthquake will wake him.  He has a fun sense of humor and a good attitude around the house.

The camp they attended is designed for inner city youth and there were some 200 such kids there. . . plus Andrew.  = )  It was a real eye-opener for him.  His very first words to me when they got back were, “Mom, thank you for not being a crack-head, a drug dealer, an alcoholic, or dead.”  Both guys seemed to have a good time at camp, and they were very talkative to Scott all about it in the car on the hour-long drive home.

His trip out here was Christian’s first time to fly, and not only did he have a connecting flight to catch at Chicago’s O’Hare, he had to change airlines and terminals!  With a short layover on the arriving leg.  He managed it OK, but said he had been frustrated in Chicago because his boarding pass said “A” (concourse?) and “They don’t have an “A” there, so I kept going in circles!”  His suitcase was painted to look like a soccer goal – very colorful and distinctive – and when we went to the American counter to sign him in and check his bag for his return flight, the ticket agent said, “Hey!  I remember that bag!  I remember seeing it when it came in, and I see a LOT of bags!”  Then, to his colleague, “Hey, look at this bag!”  To which the co-worker said, “Oh, yeah, I remember that bag when we unloaded it.”  Pretty funny.  I would think it’s pretty hard to have your suitcase leave an impression on an airline employee, but Christian did it.

Now that Christian has returned home, we’re getting back into a more scheduled routine.  Andrew’s doing his 10th grade schoolwork with a good attitude – so far – despite the fact that it’s a heavy load that requires a lot of time.  Today he cleaned the church, did school, did some house cleaning here for Scott’s men’s group meeting tonight, did more school, went to worship practice, and did more school.  Now he’s relaxing with an episode of “Duck Dynasty” and a bowl of cholocate chip cookie dough ice cream.

I am relaxing by blogging.

 

Special visit

My folks came to see us today, specifically because . . . drum roll, please. . . all of our kids are home at the same time!!!  What a blessing to have all eight of us around the table again.  That hasn’t happened since Christmas of 2011.

We talked, ate, did a lot of dishes, discussed, “toured” the new camper, played pinball, and played pool.  There was no “Trouble in River City,” but Grandma did sink the eight ball with style to give our team (Grandma and me) a well-deserved win over the opposition (Grandpa and Jessica).  However, I guess I should tell the full truth:  Scott and Katie then proceeded to beat Grandma and me, first in one of the shortest eight-ball games in history, and then in one of the longest!

I especially appreciate their coming to see us, because I know that they are both in pretty much constant pain and traveling is difficult.  It was a fun time and a very special visit.

Extra-nice grandpa

In honor of a major event in our lives, our kids are planning a totally wild and crazy trip to hear comedian Tim Hawkins, who will be performing in Little Rock.  The details of said trip were only worked out today.   The trip is tomorrow.  As some of our readers may know, Team Roberts is rarely inclined toward advance planning.

The tickets for the event were sold out online, but Our Purchasing Agent learned that a very few tickets were still available left.  However, they were going like hotcakes and could only be purchased in person, more or less immediately, at the host church in west Little Rock.  Four hours from our home and thirty minutes from my parents’ house.

Our Purchasing Agent contacted my dad, a man historically NOT given to fits of spontaneity, and he very graciously hopped in his Toyota, high-tailed it to west Little Rock, and obtained the requested tickets.  Wow!  He is truly an extra-nice grandpa!

Disappointed devotee decries dead daisies

Actually, they are iris (not daisies), but that messed up the alliteration.

My parents were up for a brief visit last week to attend our piano recital, and Mom commented that she was MIGHTY tired of going to my blog and seeing “The iris are blooming!”  In fact, when she came by the house the next morning, she informed me in no uncertain terms that the iris are obviously dead.  Of course she’s right, and I really will make every effort to post something on a daily basis.  To that end. . .

Scott’s mom is visiting right now, and we are all enjoying having her here.  There are several predictable results of a visit with Mom:  few to no academics, wonderful meals and baked goods that I do not prepare, plenty of bridge (accompanied of course by plenty of bridge mix), the constant realization that every time you reach to wash the dishes or fold the laundry or straighten a room or iron some clothes, it’s already been done (WOW!), and ice cream at all hours of the day and night.  = )

The above go without saying, but it’s also fun to get to share with Grandma the kids’ AIM presentations, our piano recital, our home group fellowship, and – in a couple more days – Jessica’s GRADUATION!

Because my time is limited, I will add only that there are several non-iris flowers blooming in our yard right now.  Pansies, marigolds, and coreopsis I recognize, but the rest of them just came up in the front bed, and while they are quite pretty, I have no idea what any of them are called.  They are NOT called iris, however.  The iris are  – while technically not dead – done blooming for this year.

114 things about the reunion

We all enjoyed a superb reunion with Scott’s side of the family in Waxhaw, NC July 18-24.  Present were:

Mama Kay (a.k.a. “Mom” or “Grandma”)

Kevin, Elsa (for the 1st two days only; Leah and John couldn’t travel)

Stuart and Susie, Lily, Maggie, Jon (Hannah had to work in CA to pay for college)

Scott and Patty, Katie, Jessica, Josiah, Andrew

Milt and Becky, Ian (for 1st 5 days only), Rachelle, Amanda, Isabel

Kristy

Uncle Cliff and Aunt Nell (for the last day only)

Special memories and factoids include:

1.  It took 17 hours to drive to Waxhaw.

2.  We went in the van plus the Camry Scott bought for his mom.

3.  He paid $450 to have the A/C in that car fixed before we left.

4.  The A/C worked fine in the cool of the morning, but in the heat of the day, it only worked for 30 minutes at a time.  Then it would have to be turned off for three minutes.  Scott was steamed.  Literally.  Something like the defrost timer needs to be replaced.

5.  He very graciously drove the sweat-mobile and let me drive the van.

6.  We picked up Kevin and Elsa at the airport in Charlotte at 10:45 PM (on our way to Waxhaw).

7.  Kevin looks exactly like his dad!

8.  After leaving the house at 4:45 AM, we finally staggered into our JAARS apartment at midnight.

9.  Stu, Susie, Jon, Scott, Andrew, and I stayed in a very nice 3BR apartment at JAARS – compliments of Stuart’s and my allergies to Becky’s cat.

10.  For the most part, Jessica and Maggie stayed at Grandma’s apartment (with her two kittens) and they (the girls, not the kittens) helped a LOT with the cooking, over many days and meals.

11.  Everyone else stayed at Becky’s house.   That would be six Joneses, Kristy, Katie, Josiah, Kevin, and Elsa, for a total of nine to eleven folks, (I think).

11.  We had a photo shoot at the pond near our apartment the first morning at the unbelievable hour of 9:00 AM.

12.  The highlight of the whole trip was seeing Mom walk up to the man sitting at the picnic table and scream, “KEVIN!!!”  (She didn’t think he was coming.  Scott got him there.)

13.  The humidity in Waxhaw, NC in July is approximately 214%.  It’s so humid that in walking 30 feet to your car, your scalp sweats.

14.  A gang of us went swimming at the JAARS pool on Saturday mid-morning to mid-afternoon.  It’s a small pool, but everyone had a lot of fun.

15.  Those of us who did not swim played games.  It was pretty hot, but we were very thankful to be in the shade.

16.  Some lunch supplies were brought to the pool.  We made sandwiches and ate whatever.

17.  Several of the ladies played Bridge over lunch.

18.  I took pictures.

19.  Of people swimming and/or turning flips into the pool.

20.  And eating.

21.  And playing Bridge.

22.  That first night, Susie served Sunshine Chicken Salad at our apartment.  It was yummy and tastes best without any dressing.

23. Sunday morning, many of us went to church at Calvary Church in Charlotte.  It’s huge and beautiful, and Billy Graham used to go there.

24.  Elsa didn’t want to go to church, so Scott stayed “home” and talked with Kevin.

25.  The Joneses plus Krit and Mom stayed after for Sunday school, but the rest of us came home so I could madly chop fruit for my fruit salad, for lunch.

26.  It accompanied White Chili for 21, also served at our apartment.

27.  Along with two 9×13 carrot cakes!

28.  Sunday afternoon, we all said our emotional goodbyes to Kevin and Elsa.  Milt drove them to the airport for their flight back to Dallas.  They would get in around 7:30 PM and then drive a rental car back to Austin.

29.  Due to a forecast storm in Dallas, their flight was canceled.

30.  There were no more flights on any other carriers going to Dallas that evening.

31.  Milt brought Kevin and Elsa back to his house (a 45 minute drive)

32.  It never stormed in Dallas.

33.  Monday morning, Becky took them back to the airport again.

34.  Monday – Wednesday, a subset of us journeyed to Litchfield Beach, SC.

35.  There’s no good way to get to Litchfield Beach from Waxhaw.

36.  Six Robertses, plus Mom, Maggie, Milt, Ian, Rachelle, and Amanda made that five-hour jaunt in two very fully packed vans.

37.  Meanwhile, Bec stayed home to drive Isabel to her classes each morning; Krit stayed home because the beach is a pain for her; and  Stuart, Susie, Lily, and Jon made a day trip to Sliding Rock and to see some relatives of Susie’s.

38.  Tuesday and Wednesday, the Florida Robertses went up into Virginia to visit some college friends of theirs.

39.  The last part of their drive home was in a heavy and protracted thunderstorm, the likes of which they don’t usually experience in south Florida.

40.  We had to take all our own sheets and towels to the beach house – or pay an extra $120 linen rental fee, which Scott was not about to do.

41.  The use of walkie-talkies while traveling in vans is maddening to some drivers.

42.  I am some drivers.

43.  At Piggly-Wiggly in Litchfield Beach, you can find fresh green beans, Moose Tracks ice cream, and contact lens solution, but no dish cloths.

44.  After a meal for 12, it’s hard to clean up with no dish cloths.

45.  Scott’s mom LOVES to cook, and she brought along enough food and ingredients to cook for an army.

46.  Teenage boys at the beach eat like an army at meal times and like scavengers at all other times.

47.  There were wooden posts along the driveway of our beach house.  These posts can grab vehicles.

48.  I did don a swimsuit and trudge out into the surf.

49.  I liked everything about being in the ocean except the waves and the salt.

50.  Ocean water is very salty.

51.  Ocean water shoved up your nose when a wave knocks you down and holds you under water so long that you can’t figure out which way is up is even saltier.

52.  My favorite activity at the beach was walking along the beach and looking for neat shells.

53.  The kids (all eight of them) spent hours the first night tearing throughout the beach house and surrounding area, playing hide-and-seek, and talking on the four walkie-talkies.

54.  While we adults were playing bridge in the evening, Uncle Milt used one walkie-talkie to break in on the kids’ conversations, and he was way too funny!

55.  A family at the beach was using the same frequency.  They kept asking Michael where Cass was.

56.  Milt told them Cass had been abducted!

57.  But they figured out that it was a joke and changed to another frequency.

58.  Ian and Josiah had a grand time together, as did Jessica and Maggie.

59.  Jellyfish scored multiple stings on nine of our crew the second evening.

60.  If I NEVER see another game of Risk or Monopoly, it will be too soon.

61.  Risk and Monopoly take forever to play.

62.  I do not play Risk or Monopoly.

63.  All the Jones and Florida Roberts families play Risk and Monopoly with a vengeance.

64.  Thursday morning, several of us (Scott, Mom, Susie, Katie) took a tour of JAARS.  It was interesting and I’m glad I went.  We did quite a bit of walking, and it was humid outside.  As well as hot.

65.  Stuart watched Jon and Andrew while we toured.  Thank you, Stuart!

66.  We got to see to office where Mom volunteers as a receptionist, computer person, and mail stuffer on Thursday and Friday afternoons.  We did not get to see Uncle Milt’s office, where he works on Old Testament helps for those who are translating the Bible.  Mom hasn’t seen his office yet and REALLY wants to.

67.  Thursday lunch was compliments of Grandma at the JAARS cafeteria, where she volunteers on Mondays as a baker.  It was very good.

68.  After lunch we were scheduled to go to a local park for the afternoon.  Mom would do a cookout supper there for all of us.  Her choice.  Remember that she loves to cook, and the more elaborate a meal, the better.  Hauling to a park everything necessary to cook and serve and full meal for 18 would be no big deal for Mom.

69.  But it was hot and humid, some of the folks were tired of being constantly on the go, and on an earlier scouting trip Scott and Katie had determined that absolutely everything at the park would cost money:  parking per vehicle, picnic table rental, lawn game rental, swimming per person, paddle boats rental, canoe rental, etc.  I asked Katie if there were bathrooms at the park (yes) and if you had to pay to use them.  She said she thought you could enter them for free, but we joked that you might have to pay to flush.

70.  We convinced Mom to punt the park, and instead we all spent that afternoon relaxing at the Jones home.  I did not play Risk or Monopoly, although many others did.

71.   Sometime mid-week, Mom managed to scape her car along the side of Krit’s car.

72.  Now Mom’s red car has gray paint stripes , and Krit’s gray car has red paint stripes.

73.  Becky took Ian to the airport for his flight to California.

74.  She lost her Palm Pilot somewhere at the airport.

75.  Bec is very calm and rarely gets stressed, but losing her Palm Pilot was fairly unsettling to her.

76.  That evening, Mom made her awesome baked beans, and Scott grilled the meat.

77.  Some of us played Casino on the porch.   No gambling was involved.

78.  Stuart and I ended up  spending a LOT of time that week on the huge Jones front porch.  Avoiding the cat.  Did I mention that it was humid out there?

79.  One afternoon, Susie and I found ourselves alone at the apartment and we had a great, long conversation.  Very fun!

80.  Friday morning there was a scheduled trip for all to the Monroe Aquatics Center.  It features a lap pool, a water park, a walking track, and raquetball courts.

81.  I am not majorly athletic.

82.  But I packed a swimsuit and walking/sweating clothes and joined the gang at Bec’s house at the scheduled departure time of 9:15 AM for our 30-minute drive to Monroe.

83.  But Bec was still in her PJs.

84.  Then there was a lot of confusion over who would go.  In which vehicle(s).  Utilizing which car seats.

85.  But Scott and Mom needed to go ahead to Monroe to get her new car licensed, so they departed in Mom’s car, leaving the rest of us to figure out #84.

86.  It turns out that Bec’s (dental) crown had broken off the night before, and she had spent the entire morning trying unsuccessfully to find a dentist who could re-cement it.  That day or any other day in the near future.

87.  Bec was flustered.

88.  Then, when Bec called to confirm that she could bring some 13 guests to the Monroe Aquatics Center on her family pass, they said she could bring four.

89.  This was a problem – especially since Scott, his mom, and Andrew were already in Monroe!

90.  Standing in line at the license bureau.

91.  Four minutes away from the Aquatics Center.

92.  So Becky eventually talked them into letting eight people come.

93.  Mom ended up coming back home alone, and I volunteered not to go at all.  WHEW!

94.  Instead, I spent the afternoon with Katie, Jon, Amanda, Stuart, Susie, and Mom.

95.  Playing Take Two and watching Jon (6) and Amanda (9) wheel and deal like real estate agents in yet another game of Monopoly.

96.  Eventually, the rest of the gang got home.

97.  But Scott hadn’t been able to get the car licensed, because there had been a lien on it, and they had to have the ORIGINAL lien sign-off form; no fax allowed.

98.  We (Stuart, Susie, Jon, Amanda, Mom, and I) walked over to the JAARS pool, which was maybe 1/4 mile away.  We took a shortcut through the woods in order to have more shade, but did I mention that it’s very hot and humid in Waxhaw in July?

99.  While walking, who should we see driving into the Penn Lodge, but Aunt Nell and Uncle Cliff!  What a happy reunion!

100.  They accompanied us to the pool and took a dip.

101.  That night we all went back to Bec’s and ate miscellaneous leftovers and stuff.

102.  We had two tables of Bridge going on the porch.

103.  Including KRISTY, who played with Katie against Becky and me and WON!

104.  There were a lot of June bugs buzzing around and landing on the porch tables in the evenings.  I guess June bugs like humidity.  There was a fair amount of that in Waxhaw in July.

105.  Using a deft finger flick, Uncle Stu perfected the technique of “Spin the Beetle.”

106.  He even caught a half dozen or so in a cup!  Quite gross.

107.  That night, Aunt Nell told us she and Mom would clean our apartment for us!  (We were required to leave it totally “hotel-room ready” for the next guests, and I had no idea how we and the Florida crew would do that and still get on the road early.)  What a blessing!

108.  That night we packed up, and the next morning, we were up very early to load and meet back at the Joneses to pick up our other three kids.

109.  Scott mounted the cuppers courts up top between the luggage racks (where the wind sawing through the tie-down straps droned a steady E-flat for the next 872 miles) and wedged all the luggage into the “trunk,” up the back window to the roof, all over the floor, and in between all the seats.  We then shoe-horned in the kids.

110.  Be it noted that the kids were VERY cramped on the way home, but they didn’t complain.  They volunteered to drive, but we didn’t let them, simply because we dreaded trying to cram ourselves into the spaces they were so longsufferingly occupying!

111.  It took 16 hours to drive home, and we arrived at 11:00 PM.

112.  A&W in Poplar Bluff has amazingly poor service.

113.  We enjoyed a full, fun nine days with family, and, despite the stress of planning and pulling it all off with only three weeks’ lead time, the trip was very worth doing.

114.  Mom loved it, and we should probably do it more often than every ten years.


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