Thursday Thoughts

Religion from Roomba
In my blog post yesterday, I talked about the newest member of our family – Rosie Roomba. I neglected to show you a photo…..

Even as I was writing the post, Rosie was busy vacuuming our bedroom floor. When she finished, I went to check out the results…..

You have all heard of the people who see images of the Virgin Mary on their toast or in their mashed potatoes. Well, I think Rosie might be giving me spiritual messages. Can you see the cross clearly imaged into the carpeting? Hmmmm. Well, at least she’s not leaving me Satanic images.

I Spy
I probably go to my neighborhood King Soopers nearly every, sometimes a couple of times a day. While I always have good intentions, I rarely (and I mean RARELY) remember to bring my own bags, despite the fact that they are almost always in my trunk. That, my friends, simply means I’m too lazy to walk back to my car to get them. Anyway, yesterday I was making at the grocery store, and for a change, I had my own bag. It was sitting in my cart. I went through self-check, something I nearly always do. I had scanned the first item and laid it in the bagging area when the scanner (in her friendly female voice) asked me Do you have your own bag Dummy? Well, the truth is she didn’t say dummy, but she did ask me – FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER – if I had my own bag. I’m pretty sure King Soopers has joined ranks with Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Comcast and is spying on me. How else would she know that I had my bag with me? I wish I could use their spying tactics to make the world a better place.

Slimy Business
When Kaiya is anywhere around, there is likely at least TALK about making slime. And, much to her delight, her cousin Grace (who was one of the visiting dignitaries from AZ this past week) is a slime connoisseur. So, not surprisingly, this happened….

Aunt Bec was there to provide supervision. Cole and Faith are steadfastly sticking to Play Doh, thank you very much.

The Heat is On
I never thought these words would come out of my mouth, but I’m about ready to have the temperatures cool down a bit. Today — when it was supposed to be a bit cooler — my car thermometer showed an outdoor temperature of 63 degrees. Day before yesterday, it hit 81. But just wait. The first cold and snowy day, you will hear Nana’s Whimsies complaining!


Thursday Thoughts

Bee Update
Dagny and Maggie Faith stopped by on Monday to visit their Zierk cousins (who Bill and I were watching for a couple of days). I pinned her down to get an update on the bees. She admitted that she and her father had not checked for a while, but she seemed entirely unconcerned about the queen bee. In her mind, things are fine and honey will be available soon. Being a bit more skeptical, I would feel better if she had actually SEEN the queen, but then I’m not a beekeeper and never will be. I am, however, a honey-eater, and eagerly await D’s Bees Honey.

Climb Every Mountain
I’m going to give you a heads-up on something that will be happening on Sunday. Eleven-year-old Dagny, who has been taking climbing lessons for quite a while, is going to be undertaking her first outdoor technical climb. A friend will guide her on the third Flatiron Mountain in Boulder. The climb will involve quite a bit of elevation and some rappelling. More pertinent to me, it will involve a one-hour hike to even get to the base of the mountain. Bill and I – along with much of Dagny’s kin – will be there to cheer her on. That is, presuming I can make it up to the base of the Flatiron. Fingers crossed. Allen plans to climb as well. Bill and I plan to eat a picnic lunch and hold our collective breath. I will get back to you about the whole adventure.

Back to Normal
I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I had been watching Kaiya, Mylee, and Cole for the past couple of days while their parents are out of town. I dropped them off at school yesterday with a kiss and an I-Love-You, dropped off the suitcases and car seats at their Nana Carol’s and Papa David’s house, where they spent yesterday afternoon and night. As for me, I spent the afternoon sitting in my La-Z-Boy watching the most mindless television imaginable. I’m not apologizing either! But here are a few photos of our adventures…..

Kaiya and Cole made fluffy slime on Monday. Shaving cream makes it fluffy. While the whole slime thing is kind of lost on me, they love it.

Monday afternoon, the kids and I went to Willow Creek Park and played on the play ground a bit. Well, they did. I watched. We then walked a bit to nearby Willow Creek, where Cole threw in about 5 lbs of sand a handful at a time. Kaiya and Mylee preferred racing leaves down the waterfall.

Cole and his Play Doh. What more can I say?


Can I Go Back to China?

My sister Bec returned Monday evening after a two-and-a-half week trip to China and Tibet. She walked into our house looking perkier than I would have looked – or even than I looked at that moment. Because, God bless her, she walked into a Grandkids Zone. Bill and I were watching Kaiya, Mylee, and Cole while their parents had dinner and went to see Wonder Woman with free tickets that Court somehow accessed.

Perhaps after nearly three weeks of trudging up ten million stairs in air that makes Leadville seem like New Orleans, a few kids with Play Doh seemed easy peazy.

What are the first words that you say to someone who has been gone for 19 days visiting a communist country where the people cook animals that we pet? Can I fix you a martini?

Yep. For better or worse, that’s what I asked her. She declined, pointing out that she had been awake for nearly 24 hours straight at that point (being, like me, unable to sleep on an airplane) and straight gin would have resulted in her falling face forward. The idea of Kaiya saying, “Nana, why is Aunt Bec sleeping on the kitchen floor? Why, Nana, why?” simply didn’t seem like a good option.

As the evening went on, between cleaning up spilled lemonade, breaking up fights over Play Doh, fixing butter noodles for the kids and pasta with pesto for the adults, and slicing more watermelon than one would think would fit in those little tummies, I was able to have bits and pieces of conversation with Bec.

Since I was offering dinner something like 15 minutes after she entered our house, I asked, “Are you even hungry?”

Her reply: “My body doesn’t have the slightest idea of what time it is, or even what time zone it’s in, so it doesn’t know if it’s hungry or not. Let’s just eat and see what happens.”

We enjoyed our dinner, and more so, enjoyed getting snippets about her trip. Snippets, that is, between me running off to lift 3-year-old Cole from the play house which he has discovered he can climb into, but has not yet mastered getting out of. And I had to move quickly because a headfirst dive was not out of the question.

Remember the playhouse?

But anyone who knows her, knows that Bec is nothing if not a trooper. So as the hours passed and Court and Alyx had not yet appeared, she helped entertain her great nieces and great nephew…..

When their parents finally showed up, they had their own story to tell. They had, indeed, gone to the theater where the movie was to be played. The 7 o’clock movie time came and went. It was announced that the film operators (who these days are undoubtedly 13-year-old computer geeks) couldn’t get the film to play. After 45 minutes of trying, they showed Terminators 2 3D instead of Wonder Woman, apparently thinking that offering a 3D movie would make up for making movie goers wait 45 minutes.

All was well at the end of the day. The kids were carried to the car a little past 10, and seemed no worse for wear. (Cole had fallen sound asleep on the living room floor and when his dad lifted him up, he was like a life-sized Raggedy Andy doll.) Bec finally fell into her bed around 10:30, though her body didn’t really know what time it was.

Bec’s China trip will be a guest post soon….

…. but in the meantime, we need to get her body convinced that it is back in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

Memorial Day Memories

Well, yesterday was Memorial Day. Kick off to summer. However, tick tock, tick tock. Countdown to Fourth of July, when summer’s half over. That is how my mother would have looked at the day. I come by my Glass-Half-Empty mentality honestly. To be fair, she wasn’t negative about all things. But when it came to summertime, she simply thought it went by too quickly.

Any more, I think all seasons of the year go by quickly. Time flies even faster as you get older.

Enjoy every day. And I have to tell you that we did, indeed, enjoy our Sunday celebration. The springtime weather has been pretty unpredictable so far, at least in my Glass-Half-Empty mind. A lot of rain (which Glass-Half-Full people would say is good for the crops), and temperatures chilly enough that my heat was still going on in the morning. Yesterday I just turned it off, thereby taking away our thermostat’s option of turning on the heat. It’s almost June, for heaven’s sake. If our thermostat doesn’t like it, it can take it up with Google Home.

But Sunday’s weather was simply beautiful. The sky was blue all day long with not a raincloud in sight. The temperature was a perfect 70 or so. Jen arrived on our doorstep around 10 and she and I made our quick trip to Fort Logan National Cemetery and were home before noon. A short time later, Kaiya, Mylee, and Cole showed up with big smiles on their faces, and their daddy had an even bigger smile because he got a few hours of time to himself. The kids fully intended to spend the day with Play Doh. Because, as you recall, they do love Play Doh…..

Instead, I made lunch for them and they ate it outside, and that’s pretty much where they spent the rest of the day – outside. They caught roly poly bugs, they built a village in the sandbox, they spruced up Papa’s horseshoe pit (if you call adding sand to the pit sprucing it up, and by the way, don’t tell Papa).

And they ate watermelon. And then ate more watermelon. At one point, Jen said she doesn’t think she’s ever seen a single human eat as much watermelon as each of them ate. Kaiya informed me well into her fourth or fifth slice that the first bite of the point of the watermelon slice is the best, because it’s sweeter than the rest. I’m pretty sure there is no science to back that up, but she would not be dissuaded.

While my ribs were roasting in the oven, I made ceviche. I followed my nephew Erik’s recipe in which I cut up tilapia into cubes, added red onion, cilantro, jalapeno, and salt and pepper. I then squeezed somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 or 15 limes over the whole dish…..

…..and let it cook….

It was delicious….

When growing up, Mom always made baked beans for any summer gathering. At some point, she gave the assignment to me. In hindsight, I recognize that she was very smart, because she always told me (probably making sure to whisper so that no one else heard) that I made the best baked beans and that’s why she had me make them. Every single time. Given that her beans recipe consisted of a couple of cans of pork and beans, some ketchup, some mustard, some brown sugar, and some worcestershire sauce, I’m pretty sure a 5-year-old could have made them. Nevertheless, I proudly made the beans then, and I proudly made them Sunday to accompany my ribs. No recipe needed.

And, by the way, Kaiya likes a little bit of pie with her whipped cream….

Late in the day, Allen and Emma stopped by to say hi, and to bring a dozen Voodoo Donuts….

At the end of the day, before the kids headed home, we put them in the bathtub to clean up before they put on their pajamas. As you can see, they were just a bit dirty…..

Just a sign of a really good day.

Saturday Smiles: More Smiles!

This week has gone by in a flash, but here are a few things that made me smile while in Denver last weekend, if you can stand a few more photos of that trip.

My sister Jen came to visit on Sunday, and we had the opportunity to go geocaching. We greatly missed my geocaching buddies Maggie and Dagny, but still, ended up one for two in our search. Here is Jen uncovering a geocache that was stuck inside a log….

The spring flowers are blooming in Denver, though since we left town, they have had to bloom through a bit of snow. Here, though, is a particularly pretty tree of some sort that we came across while on our geocaching adventure….

I have mentioned on numerous occasions that our Zierk grands love Play Doh. Love, in fact, is not a strong enough word. There was a lot of creating going on, but perhaps this simple sculpture says it all.

What is it, you ask? According to its creator, Kaiya, it is unicorn poop. All it needs is eyes and a mouth, and it could be an emoji.

And finally, Alastair’s birthday was Wednesday, two days after we left. So he celebrated with us on Saturday. He turned a mighty 12!…..

Don’t you love my gift wrapping?

Have a great weekend.

Thursday Thoughts

Home is Where the Heart Is
Bill and I arrived back in Denver on Tuesday afternoon. Court and the three kids picked us up at the airport. Kaiya and Mylee were happy to see us; Cole probably would have been, but he was out like a light, deep into a dreamland nap. He seemed happy enough when he woke up, and then became very happy as time went on. Particularly when he learned that, despite the fact that we have been gone for three months, there was still Play Doh around the house. Simple needs.

Movie Date
I had made tentative plans to take Kaiya and Mylee to see Beauty and the Beast; however, it seems Cole didn’t want to be ditched. I was promised by his dad that he could sit through a movie; however, given the fact that the movie is more than two hours long, is NOT animated, and it costs an arm and a leg to see movies these days, I elected to forgo a date to the theater and substitute a movie date at our house. I bought all the necessary candy, popcorn, and soda pops, and rented three kids’ movies from Redbox. It was a movie extravaganza.

Now, Where Did That Go?
Allen and Emma have been housesitting at our Denver abode since January, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I walked in the door. What I found was an immaculate house, and a lovely display of sunflowers, a bottle of wine, two chocolate bunnies, and some fresh fruit, along with a sweet card. Nice housesitters, no? As would be expected, they have made the house comfortable for themselves, which means un-kiddifying it, given the fact that they have no children. So the grands were surprised to find an empty cookie jar, an absence of kids’ cups, and the Legos were nowhere to be found, though I was able to find Play Doh, as mentioned above. A few Facebook messages resulted in being able to locate the Legos, so crisis averted.

Flower Power
We have made it a habit to come back to Denver one time during our winter stay in AZ, but it has always been in February. That, of course, is too early to see any spring flowers. Then, by time we get home for good in May, the spring flowers are long gone (except for a few late-blooming tulips). So it has been fun to see my spring bulbs bursting into view this year….



The central plains in general – and Chicago in particular — had snow on Thursday. That wouldn’t normally impact us. After all, Bill’s mom lives in assisted living and has no reason to be out in the snow. No concerns there. Our kids who had visited her for Easter were long since home, so we didn’t have to worry about their safety.

Nevertheless, the Midwest weather conditions resulted in our plane – waaay down in Arizona – being delayed by a couple of hours. The plane, you see, originated in Chicago.

However, it was all good because we had nowhere we had to be once we landed in Denver. At least not that night. And it was a good thing because security in the Phoenix airport was as bad as I’ve ever seen it. Between snowbirds heading home after Easter and Spring Breakers’ vacations winding down, we settled in for a good long wait. It was fine because we had nothing but time. What’s more, when I checked my email later, Frontier had given me a $25 voucher for my trouble. I won’t turn that down.

We had not a lick of food in our Denver house. It seriously looked like the home of Cindy Lou Who down in Whoville after the Grinch had stolen all of their presents and the roast beast. So once we were settled (and we are grateful that the house was standing in one piece), we ordered Greek food to be delivered, because as usual, the Yellow Bug refused to start. Dead as the proverbial doorknob until such time as we could get the battery a charge. Which we eventually did.

Starting Friday, from 8:30 on, we had grandkids. The number varied based on the time of day. It started with two — Dagny and Alastair. Three more arrived at lunchtime — Kaiya, Mylee, and Cole. The original two went home for a bit, but two more came in their place — Addie and Maggie Faith. Finally, the other two couldn’t stand that there was fun going on without them, and showed up at my front door, cheeks red from riding their bikes the three-block distance to our house from theirs. I bought a family pack of Oreos Friday morning and they were mostly gone by Friday afternoon. Meghan Trainor may think It’s All About the Bass, but in our grandkids’ minds, it’s all about the Oreos.

Besides Oreo crumbs, here’s what time with the grandkids largely consisted of…..




cole play dough


As you can see, now that Cole is almost 2, he is no longer happy just carrying around the Play Doh can; instead, he wants to get his hand in the mix.

Jen came for a visit on Saturday and spent the night, along with Kaiya and Mylee. Cole came for the day, but went home in the evening with his mommy and daddy. A couple of things have changed since I saw him last. First, he has lost all of his little toddler looks. He is now all little boy. Second (and related), he will have nothing to do with the portacrib in which he used to comfortably and cheerfully nap. It’s not enough that he weeps bitterly when I put him in it because he doesn’t want to miss out on the fun; now he is able to crawl out of the crib. After his cries subsided on Saturday afternoon, I quietly tip-toed into the room to see if he had fallen asleep. He greeted me cheerfully at the door. Oh boy.

A swing full of girls. Well, and Cole....

A swing full of girls. Well, and Cole….

Saturday evening we had a princess party. When you are the grandfather and brother of girls, you adapt. As you can see, Papa and Cole were happy to join the festivities. Anything for the pound cake and ice cream with chocolate toffee sauce that were the princess treats.

cole papa princess party

Cole princess party

It’s the story of life with two sisters….

Sunday following church, we dropped the girls off at their home and had lunch with the other grandkids.

I’m tired.

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