Monday, April 24, 2017

Saturday, March 18, 2017

We Will Miss You, Grandpa!

Written by my cousin, Anna, who clearly has a GIFT of words and said this during grandpa's eulogy:

"My Grandpa died yesterday. 

I wrote my fair share of obits during my brief but memorable time as a reporter. I never felt like they capture the essence of a person, and how could they? A formulaic grouping of information fact-checked by a stranger working on deadline is not the best proving ground for nuance. An obit is a record of a life but not the essence, even if all the names are spelled correctly. 

Families are complicated organisms. They take a lifetime to contemplate and understand, if that's even possible. But here are a few things about my Grandpa I will carry with me - not so much an obit but a personal perspective. 

My Grandpa was born in 1923, 3 years after his mother's right to vote was recognized. He was the second of 6 sons. He was born with a cleft palate and had a speech impediment after he learned to talk. As soon as he was able, he grew the mustache he would continue to rock for the rest of his life. He lived in the same town in mid-Missouri most of his life, only leaving his country once. He served in the U.S. Army, which took him to Japan for a year. Before he left, he purchased the farm on which his family would grow up. 

He fell for a girl from home. He was not put off by the college degree she had when he had not gone to college or that she was two years older than he was. They enjoyed almost 55 years of marriage together, and he carried her picture with him every day. She taught school, and he farmed as their family grew: 5 children, 8 grandchildren. Just before he died, their 10th great grandchild was born, and the arrival of their 11th is expected next summer. He and Grandma traveled all over the United States when their kids were young, visiting family and state capitals. This travel was done by car, with 5 kids and no electronic devices or GPS. As their kids married, those spouses and their families were welcomed as valued members of the family. After my cousins and I came along, my grandparents showed up for musicals, baptisms, football & basketball games, and graduations. He was a life-long St Louis Cardinals and Mizzou Tigers fan. Grandpa cared for my Grandma at home throughout her long battle with Parkinson's disease. They've been apart since her death in 2004. Until yesterday. 

He liked to ask my opinion about things: politics, the places I'd visited and the people I met there, the stock market. Sometimes we agreed; sometimes we didn't. But he wanted to know what I thought about things, and he knew me well enough to know I would tell him. 

My Grandpa didn't tell me about work ethic and why it matters. He showed me. He didn't explain what it was like to love someone so completely your story gets bound up in theirs, and the two cannot be separated. He showed me. He didn't discuss strength, faith,  integrity or many other qualities. He showed me. Admittedly, punctuality was never one of his strengths, but dinners can always be reheated. 

I am thankful Grandpa stayed with us as long as he did. I'm also thankful he's at peace."
Anna Nichols


My dad and uncle stripping off sod in the family cemetery
with the one-room schoolhouse in the background.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Valentine's Day 2017

Valentine's Day was fairly eventful and FUN this year:

cookies, flowers, parties, mailing and receiving packages and snow... 
with a BIG surprise at the end. 


posing with mommy at preschool
Owen super-thrilled to be helping with party cookies.

Yes, it SNOWED about 2" on Valentine's Day.

Owen's 5-year-old class

Valentine's treats arrived from grandma via Amazon.

It just so happened that final negotiations for the VAN ended on Valentine's Day...  The spark hasn't died; the romance is, indeed, ALIVE!  :)

Monday, February 13, 2017

1st-Grade Square Dancing

Ever since Kaden started school it's been hard to get him to open up and talk about what goes on during his day.  For the longest time many of our conversations went like this:
"Hey! How was school?!"
"Name one thing you all talked about today."
"Ummmmm...." (long pause)
"What did you do in writing today?"
"Uhhhh... I forgot...."

He loves school, has friends, does well, just doesn't talk about it much. I can't even tell you the names of half of the kids in his class.

He's been a little better this year, in 1st grade.  BUT in January he hopped in the car after school and immediately started talking about their square dance unit in PE and how excited he was about it.  
He even got a special square-dance award one afternoon for being so enthusiastic about it during PE/music time. 
So, OF COURSE, we got excited about going to the square-dance performance in February!  
And OF COURSE Julie announced that their family was coming too.  

Marley giving Kaden "eyes" each time she passed by.  Hilarious!
Even Nonnie and Papa came to watch this event. 
(Hopefully Grandma can come when it's Owen's turn in 2 years.)

swinging to the right and left
promenading around the square
Evelyn, Ellie Jo, Kaden, Luke, Owen and Gracie

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Owen Turns 5!

When asked, Owen said he wanted a "hulk cake" and to go out to dinner at The Big Texan. 
When prompted over the next several weeks, these requests didn't change.  
so if we were going to make a chocolate cake, it should at least taste amazing...
This cake was a proven winner!  Real chocolate, a stout beer, and coffee along with caramel-buttercream.  You really only needed a couple of bites to be satisfied with this one.  

my disastrous kitchen
(between holiday and birthday baking)

picking out green M&Ms to smash

meanwhile... cards came in the mail...
even this special one from our very special friend, Kaaren.

THE Hulk cake

Onward to the Big Texan...
with friends and family... open invitation to anyone who wanted to attend
Julie & Evelyn

Miss Grace and mommy

cowboy serenade

The birthday man with his GIANT burger 
(that actually sustained him for three separate meals).

When at the Big Texan...

My cousin, Andy, was even able to make it in time as he was driving back from California.

Daddy and Gracie shooting 

Owen, Andy, and Kaden

Dow brothers

pure happiness
Papa choose another winner.

new shoes. 

Owen also got several other birthday presents, including his Paddington Bear and book from Grandma. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

Missing Teeth

1st grade. When all kids begin to look more like jack-o-lanterns then 6-7-year-olds.

Kaden lost his bottom teeth months ago but the top ones became loose this fall.  He was very hesitant about pulling the top one out so after weeks of it seeming to hang by a thread, I made a deal with him, "as soon as you pull it out we can put up the Christmas tree."  
(Kaden LOVES all things holiday.)  
Bam!  That's all it took. Within minutes, Kaden walked back into the bedroom, tooth in hand. 


a couple weeks later...

The 2nd top tooth was about the same but with a yank from Julie.  

Ice-cream reward for that one.