Search it
Recent Comments

Entries in summer 2010 (5)


Summer Fun-My Favorites Part VI

We left Virginia, arrived in Dallas, had one full day and then left again.  This time we were headed to Florida to spend time with Mike's family.  His mom picked us up from the airport and we headed to the beach.  Wendy, Mike's sister, and her family were already there awaiting our arrival.  That's when the party would start, of course.

Actually, our time in Florida was much like the rest of the summer, both difficult and great.  Mike changed his plans and met us in the airport because of the miscarriage, rather than coming two weeks later.  The kids didn't know he was doing that, and it was sooo fun to watch them see him, recognize him, think that it couldn't be him, and then realize that it was him.  It was so good to have him there at the beginning of our trip.  

Even though there were hard times personally, I did enjoy watching the kids have fun.  And I also enjoyed watching movies and eating brownies with Wendy (and sometimes the husbands) which is absolutely a tradition.  I had fun trying to capture some of the moments on film (on Compact Flash?).  My kids love the beach.  They love being there with their cousins.  They want to be in the water and down in the sand.  I like to be on the beach, but not sandy, and near the ocean but not in it.  Having the camera hanging on my shoulder worked out for couldn't get wet and sandy!  And I got my summer fun pictures.

Whether they were in the pool or on the beach, they were busy!


Eliana was practically in heaven with so many playmates around...


And having Mike there was such a blessing (especially since I couldn't go in the water)...


Aunt Wendy was the master at getting Eliana to forget that if she was tired and cranky...


We discovered a pretty little mermaid washed up on the beach!


A little rain couldn't keep them out of the pool...


Just hangin' out...


At the end of our trip I said to Wendy,"I need you to come home with me!"  She got Eliana to shower without screaming, eat her chicken nuggets, and pee on the potty.  They were pretty tight.


Eliana got more and more comfortable in the water while we were there...

It doesn't hurt to have strong arms in which to jump.


This next picture is one of my all-time favorite pictures, ever, ever, ever...

I mean it.  When they spend so much time together, they begin to act more like sisters than cousins.  It's wonderful and a pain in alternating moments!  They are so close, though, and I hope that that continues until they are old ladies watching their families play at the beach all together, still.


"Untle Bobby."  She was a fan.


You would think that spending so much time at the beach would lead to a lot of "I'm bored"s but there was always something to do, some more fun to have...

And if we did hear,"I'm bo-ored!" we would just stick them in the middle of the ocean in a little rubber boat.


Here is another of my very favoritest pictures.  I think they look so tough.


It's all fun and games...

until someone gets their eye salt-watered...


A chocolate popsicle on a rainy day...could it get much better than that?



and giggles...


Speaking of giggles...trying to get a picture of the ten cousins with their grandma led to a few.

Both pictures and giggles.


Eliana learned how to make superhero arms.  She has no idea what superheroes are, but now, without a doubt, she knows how their arms go...


I just loved watching them; they were always moving...


Okay, this is so funny.  Here is a picture of Eliana from this summer...

and this is Eliana when she was eight and a half months old...

I'm not even sure what to think of that.  Was she having a flashback?  I don't know how someone makes that face one time, much less two times.


These two were like Frick and Frack...they played together and it was so cute.  They are a little over a year apart and we didn't know how they would act around one another this visit, but they got along like pancakes and syrup.  Or something like that.


You haven't lived until you've flown a homemade kite...


A self-portrait...


Wendy's kids spent the first part of the summer learning about Hawaii and then hosted a luau...we learned the hula...

The Christian missionaries banned the hula soon after they arrived on the island (islands?  I must not have been paying attention very well to the lesson) (I mean, I know that Hawaii is more than one island, but I don't remember the exact history and timing of the banning of the hula) because it was "too sassy". 

Wendy and I made a pineapple upside-down cake.  I think she actually made the whole thing, so by "we" I mean that she got the ingredients together, mixed, and poured, and I stood around in the kitchen and then took the cake out of the oven.  Also, I helped hold the cake for the picture.  These are very important jobs and not to be taken lightly.

Do I not look like an Amazon next to my petite sister-in-law?


I have about 759 pictures of Christian skim-boarding.


 Eliana at the beach is like extra sunshine and rainbows mixed into your day...


Michaela is in her element when we are at the beach...

She cannot get enough of the ocean or the sand. 


I believe this will be how I remember Christian as a boy when he is all grown up and I am an old woman thinking back on our summers at the beach...


I'm already nostalgic about it.  I know it is a very unusual thing to spend so much time away on vacation.  It is something I don't want to take for granted in the sense that I am flippant about it.  As I look back on these pictures I see so many memories being made.  I wonder how vivid they will be for the kids.  I hope they do remember and treasure the times with family, whether in Virginia or in Florida.  Or Dallas, for that matter.  I need to remember that.


Summer Fun-My Favorites Part V (or The One That Goes on for Decades)

In the midst of my summertime I felt overwhelmed, by many things.  I didn't feel, at the time, as though there was much joy.  The rough spots, which in reality were here and there rather than totally constant, felt so rough that they overshadowed any smooth parts in my mind.  While I have been looking back over the pictures I have been able to see that there really were some very joyful moments, that there was fun, and beauty, and love.  I'm going to keep sharing some of my favorite moments and pictures for the next few days...if you're up for it, stick around.

After our trip to Washington D.C., Mike had to return home; the four remaining Walkers stayed at my parents' house for a couple more weeks and packed in a lot of fun, some close to home and some farther away.

There were reunions...

How fun it was to see my daughter playing with my first roommate's daughters!  When we met just before starting college, we couldn't believe how many weird things we had in common.  We were two peas in a pod, and two very different girls all at the same time.  We were inseparable our freshman year.  It's hard to believe that we had not seen each other in fifteen years or so.  That is another story for another time.  It was wonderful, wonderful, wonderful to catch up with her.  Grrrnnt-da-grrnnnt.  That doesn't make any sense to most, but there are a lot of memories wrapped up in those nonsensical words.

I also got to see some of my best friends from my later years in college...I could go on and on about these girls.  These women!  I guess we are all old enough to call women now.  Weird.


There was a cookout with good friends, and a pool party too...

There are so many things that I love about these pictures.  I love the simplicity.  I love the contentedness.  I love the happy smiles.

I love my girls riding on four-wheelers.

I love sweet holding-hands moments...

We were at my parents' friends' house, and J. took the kids around on his quad bike.  He told us,"I went as fast as it could go, and she said,'Go faster!'"  Goodness.  What will we do when she's sixteen?!

As evening came on, we began the task of cleaning up.  The kids continued to play in the gravel drive.  Right before we left I discovered just how much fun Eliana had been having...

I have never seen such a dirty kid.  She looked like a chimney sweep.  But, my oh my, did she look happy.


The fun didn't end there.  Oh, no!  There were trips to museums...

where we did some questionable things to the children, but they had fun anyway...

There were building up and knocking down...(a.k.a. being a boy)

And the fun kept going.  Just when we thought we had come to the end of the museum exhibits, there were more!  The kids even played outside, in spite of the heat, scooping sand, looking for pretty shells...

And then they discovered a giant chess board.  How cool!

Christian thought he didn't want to be there, but then he would always have so much fun whatever was next.  We ended our time at the Richmond Science Museum with a little more discovery time, building and fooling around with physics.

They also had fun at the Children's Museum.

I love that my older kids still have a good time doing these activities.  They went from one thing to the next, and were so busy.  It was a great thing to do on another very hot day.


There was a trip to the beach...

We stayed several days in Virginia Beach.  I have one ocean lover and two land lovers.  (Christian has to warm up to the waves each year.)

It was still pretty cold.

Eliana preferred the warm sand...

and warm hugs...

And to cool us off, we had to go on a Blizzard run.  Of course, we did not actually run.

It's a tradition!

We squeezed in some synchronized swimming...

And made some new friends...(Dad never meets a stranger.  Mom just thinks he's getting stranger.)

True story.  My mom, Victoria, actually fell down these steps once.  Now she treads very carefully whenever we are here.

Eliana's idea of a hole-in-one was to pick up the ball and drop it in the hole.  It was great.  She had a lot of fun, and kept up with us, all six games!

Our time at the beach had to come to an end, and we headed back to Richmond, but not before stopping at the Yankee Candle Company in Williamsburg.  It may seem an odd place to take a break, but there is a big toy store in the back, a room full of decorated Christmas trees where it "snows", and a place to dip your own candle into colored wax.  And of course, there was this...

Not stopping was not an option.


Once we were back at my mom and dad's house, we had a few more days to visit.  One of the last things we did was take a trip to the zoo.  I've been to a lot of zoos, but somehow it's always fun.  Again, it was soooo stinkin' hot, but we were troopers and tried to see as much of it as we could.

Some of it really up close...

We saw the baby love...

And I thought I needed a boob job...

We saw sweet faces...

We saw calm and stoic faces...

And more baby love...

We saw penguins!

Those eyes!

And just after I took this next picture, the giraffe swung its head up and just about gave Michaela a kiss on the nose!  Of course, I missed that with the camera, but I'll never forget her face in my mind.

The animals were beautiful.  These guys were right next to...

this guy and he seemed a little...antsy.

We saw marching...

We saw sleeping... (Eliana said,"Why are they not roaring?!")

We saw someone who really needed to brush...(blue teeth??!)

We saw the Thinker!

Is that a big turtle, or what?

We saw a lot more, too, but I am sure you are as anxious for me to end this post as we were to leave the steaming hot zoo that day.  We finally headed out, before we literally melted into puddles on the concrete.


You know, things are crazy in our family.  And when we travel, sometimes they get crazier.  My mom and dad have a quiet house, and that really changes when we come to visit.

There is a lot more noise.  Sometimes there is fighting and conflict (because that happens in families, right?).

But there is always a lot of laughter...

and I think that even though things get back to normal when we leave, and it gets quiet again...they miss the ruckus.  I do think they like it when we're around.

We have some good fun.



Summer Fun-My Favorites Part IV

My parents sacrificed the chance to sleep in one more time while we were visiting D.C. in order to drive to the city and stay the day.  We had talked about going together for the several days we went, but for several different reasons this new plan worked out the best.  They arrived, took a tour of our suite, and then we made an agenda for the day.  Again, we left around lunchtime.  Have I mentioned that I don't recommend doing that?

Mike and Eliana headed for the subway while the rest of us piled in Mom and Dad's car in order to find a parking space near the Smithsonian.  That was our first stop of the day.

In true Walker fashion (or maybe I should say Webb Walker fashion) I realized once we had parked the car and were making our way to the museum that I had left the stroller in the trunk.  We weren't too far along, so I sent the others ahead, and ran on back to get the stroller.  Dad and Christian waited for me outside of the Smithsonian.  Christian was sitting on the top step, but he saw me from across the street and waved to let me know where they were.

We met up with Mike and Eliana and headed for the dinosaurs.  It was tricky to get a good picture of the big skeletons because of the crowd.

Mom said this should make me grateful for the tiny roaches we have here.  I didn't think that was very funny.  All right.  It was a little funny.  But I'm still not grateful for any roaches.  Of any kind.  Bugs from the devil.

The Smithsonian was full of all kinds of wonderful things to see.

It kind of made me giggle to see some of these creatures' bones that were like the animals in the Ice Age movies.  They seem so wacky, but here are the bones to show that some very imaginative person didn't just make them up!

It's crazy how big these things were!

The mammoth skeletons were my favorite.  What does that say about me?  Hmmm...

Now, we thought the mammoth was huge, but what was really impressive was the size of the cookies in the cafeteria.  They were ginormous.

When we finally left the Museum of Natural History we headed for both the carousel on the Mall and the Air and Space Museum.  We crossed in front of the Capitol once again.

But really, how can that compare to a merry-go-round?!

They all had a great time...

Mom and Dad were happy to watch from the sidelines...much better for my mom to spectate than to ride.  She would then have to throw up, and I just don't think I could have handled pukers two days in a row.

Our final stop was the Air and Space Museum, which we flew through (pun totally intended).  It was getting late and we were going to have to get on the road soon, but we saw some very cool planes and other flying machines, and the kids got to go on a simulated ride.

It was a crazy trip.  What else would anyone expect from us? 



Summer Fun-My Favorites Part II 

Normal people who visit a place like Washington D.C., so rich in history and so full of interesting and meaningful places to see, would plan such a trip quite far in advance, making sure to eek out all that they could from each minute of each day.  Efficiency is key when your destination is our nation's capital and you only have two full days plus a little bit of time on your two travel days.

If you wanted "normal" and "efficient" then you would not be here.  For we are the antithesis to both.  Therein lies our great charm...  Isn't that what you call it?

So.  Here are some highlights from our trip to Mt. Vernon and D.C., along with some tips from some real Road Warriors (heavy artillery and tanks were left behind this time).

The first thing I highly recommend is to begin your trip several hours later than you meant to on a lovely Sunday afternoon, especially when you are headed up I-95 to Mt. Vernon, which closes early on the first day of each week.  You see, I-95 actually exists in a parallel universe where the space-time continuum does not correlate to our 60-second-per-minute-60-minute-per-hour-24-hours-per-day reality.  Instead, you drive what seems like 20 miles, but you have really only gone 3 1/2 miles.  The distance which should take two hours to cover takes seven.  The good news is that entering, traveling in, and exiting this alternate dimension does not cause physical harm, unless you count one's elevated blood pressure, and the pinches and kicks your children inflict on one another while crammed into the back seat of a sedan.

Once we arrived at Mt. Vernon we decided that we would have enough time to see a lot of what we wanted to see.  As we walked up to the Welcome Center it began to rain.  This was great!  By the time we had purchased our tickets it was pouring.

Crazy enough, it stopped raining very soon after it began.  You would think that a good, hard rain would have cooled things off, but it was not so.  It was about as hot as I ever remember it being in Virginia, and humid in ALL CAPS.  So...HUMID.  Walking around was more like swimming, the air was so wet.  Even so, I can still say that it was great.

The line to get in Washington's house was long even though it was close to closing time, so we thought we could wander through the garden first, then head back around to the house.  The garden was very beautiful.

There were many, many kinds of flowers and plants.  More than I will show here.

Mike told the kids,"George Washington was not only a great general and military leader, but he also loved gardening!"  I love that, the strength that it took to lead a new nation as it was blossoming, as well as the appreciation for the beauty he encountered in nature, and the desire to cultivate it.

We finally made it back around to Washington's home and toured pictures allowed inside.  It was lovely.  What a place!  And then the kids ran about in the grass just behind the about that for a backyard?

We wandered down the path and had time to visit the original and then the final resting places of our first president, and his wife, and then it was time to go.  Here is one good thing about being the very last people at a tourist attraction.  I got a sweet picture of the house!  I like looking at the positive side of things.

Although we did things a bit unconventionally, I think our visit was a success.  We were all hot messes, so we headed to our hotel to get cleaned up, have dinner, and chill.  Here is where I have some more tips.  First of all, I suggest you get a hotel in a town where there are no fast food places, and all the restaurants close at 6pm on Sunday.  Feeding hungry children after a scorching, sweaty visit to a dead guy's house should be a makes it fun!  We did finally eat, though, and watch a movie.  Then the kids went to sleep.  Since there were only two beds in the room, they had to triple up.  We didn't have a guard to keep Eliana from falling out of the bed, so we opted for the next best thing.

It was important that she not fall out...we had to get rest for the following day and the adventures that were about to unfold!



Summer Fun-My Favorites Part I

This is our final weekend of the summer.  We are about to say goodbye to sleeping in each morning, staying up every night, playing in the pool for hours, and eating dessert every day.

Except for the eating dessert every day.  How else do you expect me to make it through the school year?!

In light of these last days of summer I thought it would be fun to take a few days and recap some of our adventures while we were visiting the East Coast.  I took about 3000 pictures this summer, can expect to see a few.  I know you are about to wet your pants you're so excited.

We headed to Virginia at the beginning of June, the main reason being to celebrate with my parents as my dad settled into his retirement.  The first big event was a gathering in his honor, an afternoon set aside to look back at the years he spent at Oakwood Memorial Baptist Church, and to share and visit with many, many folks who had been a part of his history there.  There was a reception, followed by a program, and then a bit more time for visiting.  It was pretty amazing to sit in the sanctuary and see it so full of people who had both been touched by my parents and who had had a deep impact on Mom and Dad's lives as well. 

I was going to show a couple of pictures of the program, but I just realized that those pictures are on my parents' computer, and I forgot to get them on a disc before I left.'ll have to make up mental images of the full church, sweet faces, tears, laughter, the young man dressed up as Dad, and the spoof of his antics.  It was fun, precious, bittersweet. 

We also got to hang out with family that we don't see very often, since we live so far away.  My dad's brother and his wife

and my dad's sister

and her husband (my dad is on the left - you probably know that - and my step-uncle is on the right)

were able to come for the party.  I think it's been a while since the three of them were together like that (the siblings), and it was great fun.  I'm pretty sure that none of them had ever met Eliana.  She warmed up pretty quickly, though.

Now let's talk about Funcle Matt.  He is, as his nickname indeed indicates, a fun uncle.  All of the kids are agreed upon this.  And Eliana?  Well, she is supremely taken with him.  And I think it's fair to say the feeling is mutual.

These two have quite a relationship.  She moons at him.

She says things like,"You're Grandma!", confusing Matt and cracking her own self up.

She could hardly be pried away from him whenever he was around.

Well, that could be said for all of them, really.

Like I said, it was a fun family time.  But Dad wasn't into all this hanging around at home with us.  He got his retirement pants on and decided that now was the time to party.  Live it up!  Fiesta!  He told us,"See ya' later!  I'm goin' on a vacay!"


Aw, you know him better than that, right?  The kids helped him open some of his presents from different groups of people.  The Children's Department gave him a basket of goodies for a beach getaway.

And later, and this might have been one of my top three moments in Virginia this trip, my mom read out loud one of the funniest and sweetest letters I have ever heard in my life.  It was from one of the men that had been in the youth group when my parents first came to Oakwood.  It was full of really great memories and stories.  The kind that when told well (and he can do such a thing) they make you laugh until you wet yourself.

In hindsight, my mom probably should not have been the one actually reading the letter out loud.  But then again, that was part of the fun.

We also came across this little treasure...

While retirement is surely a time of transition and sometimes difficult changes, it is also a time to remember a lifetime of work, relationships, sharing, and love.  It was so good to be there with them, to see him enjoying all that was going on, and to look forward to the rest of our time together.


We stayed in Virginia for almost three weeks, and we filled up our days with a visit to Washington D.C., trips to museums, racing around on four-wheelers, and happy reunions.  Tomorrow you'll get more witty narrative and amazing pictures of our madcap antics.  You're on the edge of your seat, aren't you?