Thursday, September 30, 2010

You Capture - Togetherness

Beth's You Capture subject for this week is Togetherness so of course I visited Striebel Pond because I know there's always lots of togetherness there.

And I couldn't post Striebel Pond togetherness without including some of our feathered friends.

Here are the swans all bunched together:

And here we see that although birds of a feather do stick together, sometimes birds not of a feather stick with them:

These guys were together on how to pose for the camera.

And these guys, together, weren't interested in posing for the camera at all.

For more togetherness, visit Beth at Ishouldbefoldinglaundry and, remember, it's more fun if you join in and post your favorite Togetherness shots from this week.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Shrinkvivor Challenge Check-In #3

It's been a rough week in this challenge for me. After my easy-breezy 6.4 lb weight loss last week I was feeling very pleased with myself. Sure, I knew that this week would be more challenging but I also knew I was committed to doing everything right! Almost everything that is.

I think I rocked out the fitness challenge by averaging over 100 minutes of true fitness exercise every single day. And I stayed faithfully within my Weight Watcher points. Now I wonder though if I was a little too faithful. I only dipped into my weekly points a couple of times; and one day I even failed to use 4 of my daily points. I think I cheated myself by not eating enough.

Why would I make that ridiculous sounding statement? Because I got stuck. Truly stuck. The day after the weigh in my weight went UP and I've been struggling ever since. That's probably why I went a little overboard on the point counting. Weight Watchers tells you over and over that you've got to use all your points to keep from slowing your metabolism. I guess I thought I knew better.

And while I rocked the fitness challenge I can't say I did well on the non-fitness challenges. Despite the fact that I thought drinking so much water the week before made a dramatic difference, I couldn't seem to find the time to get it all in every day this week. What was I thinking?

And I failed the non-fitness avoid-fast-food-at-all-cost challenge dismally. The day before that challenge came out Mr. Right was working late. He suggested I go to Taco Bell rather than make something for dinner because he knows I like it and find it fairly Weight Watcher point friendly if I make smart choices. I said no - we'll go tomorrow night when you're home to which he replied, "it's a date". As soon as I heard the challenge, I emailed him and told him no fast food. His response was, "It's a good thing Taco Bell isn't fast food!" He's a funny guy for sure. And we went to Taco Bell - twice in the past week. Since then I've researched my go-to favorite - chicken soft taco with nothing but lettuce and I can't find a definitive Weight Watcher friendly point amount. Some say 2.5 some 3 some 4. I guess Taco Bell isn't as good of a choice as I thought.

So, although I did great on the fitness, I didn't do so well on the non fitness challenges. And I certainly didn't do as well in the weight loss category. I did lose though. I slept in - sometimes that helps for me - and tipped the scales 2.6 lbs lighter than I did last Wednesday morning.

I'm happy but realistically, I'm afraid this coming week is going to be even more challenging than last.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Looking Back Tuesday - Santa Rosa, New Mexico

We were just babies really, Mr. Very Young Right and I. Probably about 21. He was in the Air Force back in the days when every young man served in the military unless there was a good solid reason for a deferment. He was stationed at Holloman Air Force base near Alamogordo New Mexico way in the southernmost part of the state, only about 80 miles from El Paso, Texas and Cuidad Juarez, Mexico. I worked for the Civil Service as a secretary at Holloman.
We had flown home because Mr. Very Young Right’s grandmother had passed away. It was two airline tickets we could ill afford and so for the return trip, we arranged to buy back my 65 Volkswagon Beatle and drive it home to New Mexico. This was a car that I bought right out of high school. When I got married, we saw no reason to have two cars so I sold it to my sister who sold it to my dad to give to my brother who was in college at the time. Now it came full circle back to me.
We got a late start when we left that day. Repairs were required to make the car trip-worthy and long, sad good-byes needed to be said. Here we are just before we left, young and confident. We knew that if we drove all night, we’d get home in time for an hour or two of sleep before we went to work the next day.

At about 3:30 or 4 o’clock in the morning, we entered the city limits of Santa Rosa, New Mexico. Don’t ever go there.
When we encountered an oncoming car, Mr. Very Young Right dimmed his lights. The car made a U turn and as he pulled up behind us, his rollers came on and we were pulled over. The local police officer informed us that we only had one dim headlight. As long as our brights were on, we were fine but when we dimmed our lights, there was only one.
Instead of writing us a warning ticket which any legitimate law enforcement officer would do, he told us to follow him to the one open gas station in town – in fact I’m positive it was the one and only open establishment of any kind within 50 miles of where we were. When we arrived, he told us to get the headlight fixed – THERE!
There was an old man working the graveyard shift who the policeman must have felt didn’t have enough to do; and, that was who was going to repair our faulty headlight. So the guy hunkered down in front of the light, took it out, dropped it on the pavement, and smashed it to smithereens. No big deal really right? Wrong.
He installed the new headlight and guess what. It worked fine as long as the brights were on but as soon as we dimmed the lights, there was only one working lamp. Obviously there had been nothing wrong with our light to begin with, but now it was shattered on the pavement of this gas station.
So, the old guy stepped back and said that’ll be $9.95 (or so). Of course that was significantly more money back then than it is now; but that wasn’t the point. The point was that we were forced to go somewhere to get a light fixed that wasn’t broken until the guy broke it and then we had to pay for it. Furthermore, he couldn’t fix whatever was making the light not work properly in the first place.
So Mr. Very Young Right said that we weren’t going to pay for it. The guy said if you don’t I’ll have the police on you before you get down the street. We said please call him right now because our light still isn’t working right. He said I can’t call him right now because he’s off duty. We said well then we’re leaving and he said he’d call the police. Mr. Very Young Right told me to wait outside because he said he wanted to say something to the old codger but I wouldn’t. I’ve always wished I had.
We left town later than we should have, angry, and extremely tired.. And as soon as we got on the highway leading to the barren desert we’d be driving through for the next 2 or 3 hours, we hit a very small bump and the headlamp that the guy had installed changed position so that it was aiming straight up in the sky. Another little jolt and it cast its rays out over the desert on the side of the road. And that’s how we made our way into Alamogordo - with a headlight lighting up everything but the road ahead. But it didn’t matter because we were so tired we could hardly see anyway.
We did make it to work that day but we were both late and yes, we actually admitted we were human and slept a couple of hours before we went in.
After all that though, our advice to you is that whatever you hear or read about Santa Rosa, New Mexico, don't ever go there.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday Musings

Of course I already talked about what a great weekend we had despite a couple of little glitches (computer crisis); but there are a couple of things that I keep thinking about.

I'm thinking about how stoked I am that the weekend is over, my Weight Watchers points have reset, and I never even used all my flexible weekly points much less my activity points. I'm also thinking about how relieved I am that my weight has budged a little after my dramatic loss last Wednesday where it seemed to get stuck.

I'm also thinking about this family.

They're so young but I'm so impressed with them. I took these pictures even as Jack was suffering from a finger wound he'd incurred as they walked out our front door. So his mom and dad worked hard to comfort him and distract him so I could get that picture that I wanted.

Nobody complained and Jack didn't even cry but it was a distraction for them that they overcame for me.

And then I look at my house after this weekend. The playroom looks better than it did when they got here. The bed is made and the pack and play is put away along with all it's bedding. And there are no toys, coloring books or crayons around the house. Furthermore, they cleaned everything up so seamlessly that I didn't even know they were doing it or I would have told them not to bother.

What an agreeable little family. They also had to divide their visit between us and Amber's dad and his family; and, once again, the goal seemed to be to try to please everybody. I'm so impressed.

And most of all, they let me take pictures of them constantly. Wait! They didn't just let me. They tried hard to pose when I wanted them to and go about their business when that worked better for my photos. I love them for that.

There was only one tiny little sign that maybe I was overdoing the pictures. Nobody said anything really. I just got the vibe that maybe I should lay off a little.

Okay, next time they come maybe I'll give them a little break from the picture taking. After all, I can't have my great grandson giving me raspberries every time he sees me.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Great Weekend All Around

First of all I'm back on my desktop again thanks to our wonderful son-in-law, Brian. He's got to be the best computer guy EVER and we're so lucky to have him in the family. Don't be jealous. Really I wish everybody could have a Brian in their family. It would be such a good world.

Getting my desktop back was, of course, a highlight of the weekend but it wasn't the only one by a long shot.

Friday night, Amber and her family arrived. They live about 3 1/2 hours away so it was a weekend visit and, as everybody knows, there's nothing better than having family over for at least a weekend.

We didn't have a lot of time to visit, especially with the kids, on Friday because they arrived a little on the late side.

But we made up for it on Saturday and this morning. Jack who is twenty months old started his Saturday with Toaster Strudels for breakfast and I love that you can see by his face his great enthusiasm for them. That's how my face looks too when I eat them. I could go for one right now if I weren't trying to survive the Shrinkvivor challenge.

Dane who is just five weeks old posed patiently while his brother ate.

Later on Beth and her family came by and Noah and Jack proved that a pair of sunglasses doesn't have to be in perfect condition to be fun to play with.

Chris taught Jack to play his first musical instrument:

which required a lot of concentration from Jack but he did it!

Later, Dane showed off his physique for a couple of quick pictures before he went to bed.

Then, this morning Amber played with Dane

while Jack practiced smiling. He had been watching everybody else smile for pictures and he began to work on it too. His first effort looked a little more like a grimace

but then with the help of his hands, he began to get it down

Then, before I was ready, it was time to take that final family picture

before they drove cheerfully away, leaving me to wonder when they might hurry back for another awesome visit.

The only thing I know for sure is that it won't be soon enough.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Viruses - we don't like them. Probably we pretty much hate them. They knock us down and make us feel horrible while we're down. But, they seem to be inevitable. Even the most isolated among us can be susceptible. All it takes is one little slip, one unsanitized shopping cart, or a sneeze from a fellow parishioner.

And so it is with computer viruses. The most innocent and careful user is vulnerable. Sure we're always told, 'don't open any files that you're not absolutely sure about' but not even that seems to protect us. They're out there and it seems that they can find insidious ways of invading our most sacred places.

The way I understand it there are real viruses and viruses that aren't real. But whether they're real or not, they incapacitate us to the same degree. The difference is that the real viruses actually attack and kill our precious files. The fake viruses throw up a window that tells us our computer has been infected by a dangerous virus and that we need to scan our files with their software and then download the solution at a cost of about $60.00. Until we do or until we get rid of their presence, our computer is rendered unusable. Whether or not the solution would even work is open for discussion. I haven't heard of anyone purchasing it and then successfully using it yet; and I don't intend to be the one to check it out.

As you've probably guessed, I've been attacked.

My desktop is suffering the effects of an unknown invader and it's not looking good. I think it's a fake virus and I hope so because I haven't backed up my files in a couple of months. There are lots of pictures (a few thousand), not just of You Capture subjects but of grandchildren and a newborn great grandson and his birth. Now once again I vow that I'll never go so long without backing up my entire system again.

So here I am on my new, not so Mary friendly laptop. I'm thankful that I have it but it's not the same as the desktop that has everything in it that has happened in my life for the last ten years or so and some things from much farther back than that. I can navigate around that old desktop without even really thinking about it whereas this laptop seems cumbersome and challenging in every application.

So my desktop is sick and that makes me sick but the thing that troubles me the most is why. Why are there viruses? Honestly I don't think I would ever intentionally do anything that I knew might hurt somebody; but there are people out there, probably geniuses really, whose sole purpose in life is to create and spread evil viruses that they know will cause untold misery and heartbreak. I just don't understand it.

So you tell me. Why are there viruses?

Oh! And just so you know. This particular virus is not contagious. Otherwise my laptop would have it too.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Does Everything Really Happen In Threes?

Wednesday was one of those days when things just seemed to happen.

I was cleaning my glasses just like I always do - not often enough but just often enough that I could at least peer out at the world and see a little when....snap... oh-oh.

That was the bad news. Broken where they couldn't be fixed. But you know what, it was okay, because I've always pretty much hated these glasses. They're heavy and thick and ugly. I've been going to the same optometrist for.....wait for it.....46 years! I started with him right after I got out of high school and have been with him ever since. He's awesome. However, a couple of years ago he sold his practice to a large group - Midwest Eye Consultants - and I haven't liked anything - at all- about them yet. The person who helped me pick out the frames seemed catty and bitchy to me and he was proud of it, they were delivered over a week later than promised, they were inordinately expensive and I never felt like I could see properly with them. (I usually removed them to read.) So... I hated that I broke them but I didn't hate it completely if you know what I mean.

I dug out my old ones which I liked a lot better but you'd never guess it by the way I've disrespected them. I think on a long road trip once I brought them with me as back up but didn't put them in a case. That's how I got all these abrasions on the left lens.

And at work one day, out on my route, I opened a heavy door without paying attention and scratched the right lens almost all the way across the top.

But still. They'd do. And really? I like them better - with all their faults - then the newer ones.

Shortly after this mishap, I walked outside and looked at the small pond with last year's babies in it and saw a pretty little guy caught in the net and hanging head down. He was still in the water but it didn't look good. If I hadn't been so sure he was dead and so worried about him living if he wasn't, I would have taken a picture. I grabbed some scissors, cut the net very carefully, and he swam away like a shot. What a relief! And, what next. That's two.

My daughter, Amy, called. She has strep throat. There you go. Three unhappy occurrences right in a row. Once again the old adage proved itself true. Everything happens in threes.

Then Beth called. "I think I broke my toe".

See everything does not happen in threes - sometimes they happen in fours.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

You Capture - Flowers

I thought it was pretty clever of Beth to make her You Capture subject this week flowers now that the flowers are all gone for the season. She really does want us to get out there and work! But the joke was on me. All I had to do was look around and they were everywhere.

There were scads of wildflowers at Striebel Pond - sometimes I just had to look for them.

And sometimes they were right before my eyes.

Sometimes some of them were dead.

And sometimes all of them were dead but they were still flowers and there was a certain beauty to them.

There are still flowers blooming around my koi pond.

And I even found flowers at Beth's in her flower bed.

And in her house - flowers given to her by people who love her.

And these are always the sweetest flowers of all.

For more flowers, visit Beth at Ishouldbefoldinglaundry but don't just visit. Show us the flowers that you found this week.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Shrinkvivor Challenge Check-In #2

What a week it's been! I knew I had my mind right for this challenge. I'd been working on my mental attitude ever since I heard this was coming. I asked myself questions like, "Is this how I want to look for the rest of my life?". And, "Is food - what kind, how much, how often - really the most important thing in my life? Really? Is that it?"

I knew what the answers were of course but I'd never really addressed my eating problems in that way and so brutally before. When the challenge started, I was ready.

I made myself a list of disciplines.

1. Bed by midnight.
2. No Quakes or Cakes
3. Shred Daily
4. Walk Daily
5. Weight Watchers Meetings Weekly
6. Fruits and Veggies on hand at all times
7. A glass of water every hour and fifteen minutes

Of course a couple of these changed a little. It's hard to be in bed by midnight when Mr. Right works until eleven some weeks but during these weeks I get to sleep late. I probably should have made that one that I'd get at least seven hours of sleep a night.

And the glass of water every hour and 15 minutes changed when the Shrinkvivor non-fitness challenge became drinking about 95 ounces of water a day. That system worked much better. For the timed water drinking, if I missed a glass, it was just missed. For the total ounces system I was able to get it all in no matter what.

Also, I changed the no Quakes and no cakes discipline a little. The Quakes were my nemesis and they're out but I do allow myself one Hostess 100 Calorie Strawberry Cake pack per day.

I've followed my weight watchers points religiously, shred level one every day and even dipped my sweaty toes into level 2, walked a minimum of 3 miles a day, and attended my first Weight Watchers meeting. Even when out of town this week for a couple of days I managed to get in every shred and every walk. This was due in part to a very supportive daughter who even went on my walk with me.

So what did all this dedication get me? Drum roll please. I lost 6.4 pounds this week. I'm so stoked! When I started the last Shrinking Jeans challenge I did almost as well the first week but I was a different person mentally back then. When I realized that I had gained so much after the end of the last challenge and before this one started, I knew it was time for a real change. And I think I've made that change. It's not as much in my body as in my head.

I think I see a shopping trip in my future

Friday, September 17, 2010

I'm No Great Cook But .....Yum!

Last weekend when I went to the grocery with our house guests, Anna and Noah, the trip was pretty much focused on items necessary to ensure their having the best visit with us EVER. But my eyes wandered a little when I passed the meat section and I saw some giant, beautiful porterhouse steaks on sale. That was the good thing. The bad thing was that even with the nice, deep discount, they were still $17.00. My thoughts ran like this: Mr. Right has been working so hard lately and, although I've tried hard to make sure he doesn't have to do anything at home, he still deserves a special treat. I felt very sure of myself BUT I stilled called him to make sure he thought it was a good idea too.

I bought them and Monday evening when just the two of us were here I thought to grill those steaks. I'm not much of a cook and I'm certainly not much of a griller. I've just kind of figured out a system and used it even though it didn't make a lot of sense. So Monday I looked online for grilling times for porterhouse steaks and started my project.

I stacked my coals and lit them. Normally when the flames die down and the charcoal turns white, I spread it around and get ready to grill. This might explain why my fire loses heat before my meat is done. This time I waited for the fire to die down but started spreading the coals as soon as they were about half white - sometimes even less than half.

Then I seasoned the steaks and put them on the grill. Twenty-one minutes later I took them off and they were awesome!

Here they are just before I removed them from the grill and after I had cut a wedge out of one of them to check for doneness.

Can you believe the size of the tenderloins on these babies?! And those tenderloins absolutely melted in our mouths. That's mostly what I ate of mine and the rest went into Mr. Right's lunch for the next day.

Here's one of them next to the flashlight I had to use to see what I was doing. We tend to eat late and that coupled with the sun going down too early, made for challenging grilling.

So that's it for my most successful steak grilling ever. Except for one little confession. I knew I was going to join the Shrinkvivor Weight Loss Challenge on Wednesday and I always think I have to eat wrong right up until the diet starts.

The next meal is my favorite, low point, delicious diet meal - broiled pork chops.

Mr. Right loves pork chops and I've always browned them and then cooked them in a little water with the lid on but no more. Now I've learned to broil them and they are delectable!

First I spray them with a little no fat olive oil and then season them with salt and pepper. I toss them on the broiler pan and put them on the second to the highest level under the broiler. I watch them pretty carefully to make sure they aren't overcooking and when they start to get brown and the tiny bit of fat on the edges gets crispy, I turn them over. This is after only a few minutes. Once they look browned and a little crispy around the edges on the other side, I remove them and cut one to check for doneness. Here they are:

I calculated the point value of each one based on the calorie and fat content listed on the package and they came out to 3 little Weight Watcher points each. That, with a 3 point baked potato (baked in the microwave in a baggie with a tiny bit of water and an opening in the bag) comes out to a 6 point dinner. Of course I had green beans which are no points and I added spray butter and 2 tablespoons of fat free sour cream to the potato for an extra half point.

This is the best, low point dinner ever. I could eat it every night and it takes about fifteen minutes to throw together.

It almost eliminates all my excuses for fast food.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

You Capture - Photographers Choice

This week's You Capture challenge, Photographers Choice, should have been so easy. If all I had to do was peruse my photo files, it would have been easy to pick out my favorites; but, it's a lot harder to take my camera and try to capture my favorites. I mean I stared at that heron a long, long time before he finally decided to take flight.

And I took about 30 butterfly pictures before I got the one I liked. I even got one of him flying away. I was trying to capture a wildly beautiful sunset when the geese flew through and the seed head shot cost me about 10 practice takes before I got the one I wanted.

To see favorite photos of all your favorite bloggers, visit Beth at Ishouldbefoldinglaundry and if you have some favorite shots from this week, join in.

Shrinkvivor Challenge Weigh-In #1

I am super excited today. It's the first day of a brand new challenge over at the Sisterhood. It's the Shrinkvivor part that I'm excited about - not the first weigh in.

The first weigh shows that I've gained back a good portion of the weight that I worked hard to lose in the Down and Dirty in Thirty challenge. I'm not happy about that. I think it was caused by a combination of things - one of which was knowing that this challenge was coming. But mostly it was my lack of self discipline and that's the part I'm going to try to change.

I did get on the scale with a new attitude though. I thought: this is the last time I will EVER see this weight. And then I went to the Sisterhood post for the day and saw that Christy had written "pucker up those lips and kiss that number good-bye! Take a picture of yourself kissing that number good-bye. Take a picture of yourself, too. For posterity. Because you’re never going to see that weight again. It’s all down-hill from here!" which is exactly where my resolve is this morning.

I intend to really work this challenge. I've got lots of new resolve and a whole list of disciplines that I intend to abide by faithfully for seven weeks.

This challenge is based on the Survivor reality series and has tons of amazing prizes for two people but I'm not expecting to win either one. My prize will be being part of a great team and the mini shopping spree that Mr. Right has promised me if I can reach my goal of losing 20 pounds. It's a huge undertaking and will require the greatest discipline but maybe lots of discipline is what I need. I've just got to quit thinking of weight loss and getting fit as something I can do halfway.

So I'm ready to start again only this time I'm better prepared and my mind is exactly where it needs to be!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Does Jillian Michaels Lie?

For anyone who's not familiar, Jillian Michaels is one of the trainers on the popular weight loss reality show, The Biggest Loser. I'm not a huge fan of hers but I think she's sincere and dedicated.

Some time ago she came out with a workout video called The 30 Day Shred. The concept of The 30 Day Shred is that by mixing cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and an intense focus on the abs you can noticeably change your body in 30 days.

There are three fitness levels but I'm still stuck on level one. I can't imagine how many deceptions I'll find in levels two and three considering all her truth stretching in level one.

I'm sure she means well and I suppose there's an issue of my hearing what I want to hear or just hearing the first part of a statement and embracing it only to have my high hopes dashed seconds later.

Jillian starts out the video introducing her two 'best' girls - Anita for the beginners to watch and Natalie for the more accomplished exercise buffs to follow. Jillian tells us if we want to look like Natalie, just keep our eyes on what she does and do the same thing. Now I know for sure no matter how much I watch Natalie, I'll never be as tall as her or have the same complexion; but, I know that's not what she means.

The fibs I'm talking about crop up all through the video. The video starts with arm crosses and a windmill type exercise to warm up and we go right into 30 seconds of jumping jacks. There are a couple more easy warm up exercises and then another 30 seconds of jumping jacks. The good news about this second set is that Jillian clearly states that that's it for jumping jacks. And in the next 20 minutes of this video, we're going to do jumping jacks THREE more times! Deep down I know she means that that's it for jumping jacks during the warm up but I can't help it. I get excited when she says last set of jumping jacks and even though I know they're coming, I feel betrayed during the next three sets.

And then there are the lies of expectation. There's a time during the squat and press when she says "remember, if this is too hard for you....." and you're expecting "don't do it" but instead you get, "watch Anita". That's a little disappointing.

Also there's a time during butt kicks when she says "if you think you're going to die," and you're already hearing, "stop for today" or "take a nap" when she disappoints you again by saying, "stick with Anita".

Or how about after an ab muscle exercise that she ends with the word, rest. The st is barely out of her mouth when she says okay guys, jump up, grab your weights...... without skipping a beat. There's no room for rest in there.

Somewhere in the middle of the side lunge with shoulder raises she announces that we're almost done with strength. This is going to be it for workout one. So I think workout one is almost done but she meant that the strength part of workout one is almost done. Sure I might be looking for cues that aren't there but she's giving them to me too.

But in all honesty there are things that Jillian says that I do take as gospel.

Like when we're doing push ups, she reminds us that there's no resting here. You don't get to work out for twenty minutes and take a break if you want to see results.

And when we're jumping an imaginary rope she admonishes us that so often people don't think they're strong enough. That they are told just take the stairs. Jillian says that's a false message of lethargy that's not doing you any favors. You are capable of working out!

And the ultimate truth of this workout is that when you finish, your heart rate is up and you're sweating profusely. I don't care how old you are, that's got to be good for you.

Tomorrow I will have done level one of The Shred ten days in a row and that's the goal I told myself I had to reach before I could peek at level two. And I'm going to eventually get through all three levels because ultimately I love the Shred.

I love that it's twenty minutes and in our heart of hearts we know we can do anything for twenty minutes. I love that it changes exercises constantly and covers cardio which we need and strength which we want.

And if truth be told, I think it's Jillian's little deceptions that keep my mind slightly distracted so that I finish the whole workout every time.

I think maybe Jillian Michaels knows exactly what she's doing throughout the entire video.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Great Grandsons

We really needed to visit our granddaughter, Amber, in Garden City, Michigan. Her second child was born on August 19th and Mr. Right hadn't even seen him yet. Not only that, but I was suffering from a serious lack of pictures for his photo file. So we went. We got started late because, yes, we were exhausted from the first part of the weekend. Also, I was determined to shred which of course necessitates a shower; and, the skimmer and filter pads had to be cleaned for the big pond. We finally got on the road about 12:30 our time which is 1:30 Amber's time.

Recently I bought a new laptop - my very first one. I've always hated being disconnected when we travel or even when I babysit for a few hours at someone's house. What we didn't buy was the G4 service which would allow me to be online as we drive down the road. I'll get it if it has to be my only Mother's Day/birthday, Christmas presents combined for the next four years. But right now we don't have it. I did take the laptop though and wrote a few posts as we traveled. I plan to include stories from days gone by on my blog and as I thought of stories, I wrote them out. It really made the time fly and I felt like I accomplished something as well. Hopefully, you'll enjoy reading about our haunted farm, thieving neighbors, wildcats, traveling and tons of other legends from days of yore.

But back to today's subject.

One of the side perks of visiting baby Dane was to fill his photo album with up-to-date pictures like these:

Here he is getting to know his great grandpa:

And here's Jack trying on the big double stroller that Amber's dad sent along for her:

Amber's mom, our daughter Amy, also lives near Garden City with her husband and children so the plan was that we'd visit Amber for awhile, then we'd all drive to Texas Roadhouse for dinner.

Here's Dane getting ready for his first real outing:

Dane was the big reason for this trip but not surprisingly, his big brother Jack who's about 20 months old, stole the show and the camera as you'll see as you read further.

We arrived at Texas Roadhouse and connected with Amy and her family right in the parking lot. As soon as Jack saw Jenna and Jeremy, he knew everything was going to be good.

We went inside and had a nice area all to ourselves to wait for our table. Texas Roadhouse does not take reservations but they do take pride in their call ahead seating. We had called ahead and it's a good thing because we waited about 45 minutes after we got there. So I filled the time doing what I like to do best, taking pictures. Here's Amber and Chris.

And here's Jack grooving to the country music that kept us company while we waited.

Amy can't get enough of her grandson and it's easy to see why. He's such a loving, smart, entertaining little guy.

Jack's step grandpa who doesn't get to see too much of him, tried to warm up their relationship:

But Jack immediately started looking for an escape route:

And Jack's step grandpa thought this was hilarious and adorable.

The kids played with Jack which was entertaining for everybody.

But soon the long wait started to take it's toll and boredom began to set in.

I have to give Jenna and Jeremy credit however because they kept Jack happy the entire time.

Finally we were seated and Jack got the primo spot - right between is young aunt and uncle.

And while Dane patiently waited, we ate.

After dinner the party split up but not until I'd grabbed a couple more shots.

Here's one of all four kids.

And here's one of Amy's little clan. We had a stranger take a shot of everyone including Mr. Right and I but, alas, it can't be shown. It will however be posted where I can look at it often to remind myself of why I joined the Shrinkvivor challenge which starts Wednesday over at

Finally, after Jack's step grandpa showed how strong he was, Jack warmed up to him.

Jenna said good-bye in the parking lot.

And Great Grandpa and I headed back to Amber and Chris' for another short visit before we headed home. Jack and Mr. Right played some ball.

And Jack showed us his buttons.

Dane finally got something to eat too and felt much better.

You can see it's true by how gratefully he's gazing at his mommy.

And then we got the good-bye shot. How lucky can anybody be to have a grandson-in-law who is the one that remembers the good-bye shot and insists that they have to get one of us. Wow. We are blessed.

We got home about 11:30. I wrote one more story on the way and we ended a really fabulous, jam-packed weekend.

I have to admit though, that this post would have been up earlier if this woman hadn't needed her rest so badly.