Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas 2008

Gabriella Grace was born on December 23 - her Great Grandma Loretta Larsen's birthday. We all delighted in Gabby's pretty face, pink skin, soft hair and tiny size! She looks great in pink, too, which is a good thing since that is Owen's favorite color. Owen's first visit to the "hotsipal" to meet her was not without incident. He cried in the elevator and refused to go near it again. (We later found out that he thought we were calling it an 'alligator'... but aren't sure if his anxiety was because of that or because of the weird feeling you get when you ride on an elevator.)
Owen met his "baby sister" for the first time... but was most interested in hugging his Mommy

There was much excitement and anticipation as we waited for their arrival home from the "hotsipal". Soon enough they came through the door and we welcomed them home; Rachel, Roger and their baby, Gabriella Grace. It was Christmas morning and we all felt as though we had received the sweetest kind of gift... reminding us of the gift that God gave us on that first Christmas so long ago... We sang Happy Birthday to Gabby, and we sang Happy Birthday to Jesus - at Owen's prompting.
Here is Owen welcoming his baby sister home.

Here is Owen in front of the Christmas tree.

We enjoyed a traditional Christmas dinner of turkey and all the trimmings...

and before we could get the dishes done, Roger and Owen were tearing into the presents! (Our family tradition lets the youngest go first and they sure did!)

Here are Roger and Owen showing off their matching Father-Son Vikings pants.

Rachel and MaryBeth were next,

with the rest of us opening ours last - but certainly not least!

Thank you one and all for the nice gifts. We are thankful for the thoughtfulness and generosity of our children (and of Mimi too). They have continued to shower us with love and gifts - time after time - year after year! We love the Memory book that captures highlights from our lives together. It will be a cherished album. Thank you!

Owen enjoyed playing with his many new toys...

Thank you for the Tonka digger, Aunt Lori. It is like Grampa's!

Here is a photo that is another "tradition":
the 4-generation picture!

GG-ma Mimi, Grandma Mama, Mommy and Baby Gabriella.
Since she may not remember her first Christmas we wanted to have lots of pictures to show her some day!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Colorado visit...

Happily we got to meet little Elodie Ruth Olsen!
Child of my child. Firstborn of my firstborn...
It was a special moment for all of us.

Phil savored quiet moments
and sang his baby granddaughter to sleep...

We celebrated family at the Thanksgiving table;
enjoying one another and giving thanks for the
chance to be together! We are so blessed.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday visitors...

We were surprised by not one, but two, different young bucks that came through our yard. We had to keep the dogs inside while we enjoyed these beautiful deer.
They may have been scared out of the forest by hunters that had gone in the early morning on their relentless pursuit of these beautiful creatures.
Too young! Please leave these guys alone... They are still curious and unaware and perfectly lovely as they move around; exploring the planters, bird-feeders and shrubbery... Let me enjoy them a little longer. Perhaps they are the twins that were raised by a young doe which would pass through our neighborhood on a daily basis three short years ago!

These whitetail deer are just an example of the species that is Wisconsin's state animal. Male whitetails re-grow their antlers every year. Bucks less than two years of age typically have short spiked antlers. However the number of points or thickness of the antlers do not determine the age of a buck. Antlers begin to grow in late spring, covered with "velvet" which they rub off on the trees in their habitat. These Bucks have a symmetrical antler arrangement. They are the same on both sides and the points grow straight up off the main beam. Antlers are a coveted "trophy" for hunters.
This is their mating season, or "rut'. The bucks use these antlers to mark their territory by rubbing on trees and occasionaly to fight with other males. Bucks shed their antlers when all females have been bred, from late December to February.
We hope they come a visit again!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Happy Birthday, Karen...

Don't be too shy to have yourself a Happy Day!!
Go ahead and live it up...

Sunday, November 09, 2008

More pictures...

Mommy and Baby...

The dangling burp trick...

Resting up...

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Elodie Ruth...

Introducing our beautiful new granddaughter, Elodie Ruth.
A picture is worth a thousand words...

Monday, November 03, 2008


I can't think of a lovlier place to be "waiting" than in the mountains of Colorado. ...Waiting for a baby, that is.Julie was a wonderfully good sport and didn't even consider sitting around. While waiting out the days past her "due" date we kept busy enjoying bright blue skies and unseasonably warm days. After going out to lunch one day we hiked the peninsula in Lake Dillon. Another day we walked around Lower Cataract Lake. (Which, by the way, will also be an ideal spot for fishing and picnicking some day! ) The walk around the lake (probably 2 miles roundtrip) crossed the falls and Cataract Creek at the far end of the lake. The falls dropped down the cliffs to the creek and splashed over rocks and under a bridge making a fun place for the dogs (and us) to play.
A couple of the days we just walked around the block in her neighborhood or relaxed in the sun on her big front porch. As usual, we went one day to Hot Sulpher Springs where we soaked in the relaxing hot mineral springs that overlook the Colorado River. Reluctant to leave, we stayed until after dark!

You can't escape the costume party if you are with Julie and Todd at Halloween! It was hard to choose from their selection of costumes, but I finally settled on being a "cow" - udder and all! Julie went as a clown and Todd was a Pabst afficianado with an afro... go figger...

My visit was made complete with a visit from Aimee and her pup Jasper. After spending a great day with Jewels together, I took her up on her generous offer to drive me to the airport! Aim, you made my day and what a great opportunity to get caught up. Thanks so much...
Nope, no baby yet. But we sure hope she comes soon! We are all so anxious to meet her! As I write this I remember how many weeks I was "overdue" with my first baby girl.
And I also remember that old lady that pronounced so glibly to me: "When the apple's ripe, it'll fall!"
Yeah, right, lady!!!!!!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Cross Country...

It was a beautiful day for a cross country meet and Nagawicka Park was especially decked out with fall colors at their peak. I originally went just to be outside to enjoy the weather, but I also wanted to watch some of my "kids" compete. Kevin, Rachel, Josh, Sam, and others. I saw the Physics teacher there. He was doing the same thing. Something he said is still ringing in my heart... "It's all about relationships, isn't it?"It has been fifteen years since I last attended this big meet and the memories came flooding back. At that time I went to watch my own kids run. I loved those days and I especially enjoyed the cross country meets. I was always an enthusiastic parent spectator: I'd begin at the starting line watching the runners take off; I'd dash up the hill to the next vantage point; run across the park to another spot where I could see them as they emerged from the woods; then it was down to the finish line to cheer them in! "Push it!" "Go!" "Lean forward!" "Catch the one ahead of you!" "Faster!" "Pass her!" "Now go get the next one."
Today I went to watch my "school" kids. They were surprised. Delighted even. Hearing me on the side of the trail, they would glance over at me and I would see a tiny flicker of recognition. I even sensed that they pushed just a little bit harder then. Afterwards, "Wow, you came!" "Thank you!" "Did you see me catch them right after that turn?" "I was off my personal best, but my knee was really hurting."
"But you finished strong! You did a great job!" I shook their hands, met some parents and came away proud of each and every one.
"You're right Mr. V, it's all about relationships!" The teaching will come later......

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Dear "Birth Mother"...

Somewhere in Wisconsin is a lovely young woman and, though I don't even know her name, I already love her. I thank the Lord for her and have promised myself to pray for her. Having nurtured new life for nine months - all the while praying for wisdom - she made the beautiful decision to place her baby girl in the loving and capable arms of my friends Sara and her husband Chris. She could not have made a better choice and, if I could talk to her today, this is what I would say:
"I met tiny Emma Grace on Friday. She was only 9 days old, slightly less than 8 pounds and nursing sweetly from a bottle. In spite of her diminutive size she had already turned her new home "upside down"! Though quiet, the joy in their home was palpable. Sara was so graceful as she lovingly tended to Emma; Chris showed fatherly pride in his baby's charm.

"She is so calm!" I remarked. Emma stretched and yawned and curled her tiny arms about her round face. She peeked out of her sleep to see the new faces, rolled her lip down and blinked in the light. Her beautiful hands, long arms and legs, and slender feet were so delicate. Sara glowed and Chris smiled; their love for their tiny daughter shining in their faces. It was beautiful, natural and utterly complete! Thank you for your courage and your love."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Anniversary Celebration...

A full weekend of fun was planned for the family's celebration of our 40th Wedding Anniversary. All our girls as well as Mimi came home for the occasion and there was no shortage of food, fun and celebration! We traveled in style in a 12-passenger van! We ate in the "Pope's Room" at Milwaukee's famous Buca di Beppo restaurant. (The Italian food and the Red Velvet cake were out of this world!) We tailgated at Miller Park and took in a Brewer game. (they lost...) The guys golfed at Rainbow Springs while the girls "showered" Julie with baby items for her little girl which is expected to arrive in October.
Phil enjoyed the "experience" of grocery shopping with the pros - Julie and Lori. We took walks and runs and sat around in the yard. Some of us enjoyed a late night campfire while others of us enjoyed the early mornings with Owen... We enjoyed hanging out in the kitchen making breakfast together (we used our new griddle) or snacking on "Skinny Cows" (are they really legal?) We tried Calimari, tasted non-alcoholic beer, played pool and even tried a new "softer" t.p. (Thanks to Julie and Lori.)
Slightly short on sleep, everyone has headed back home and to work, remembering the fun times and wishing they didn't fly by so quickly! Our Fiftieth will be a calmer affair...?

Rog & Rach, MB, Jewlie 'n Todd, LoriJo and Constantin
Front Row: Owen MM and Phil

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Forty Years...


A tribute to 40 years...too many memories to even begin to mention. To tell you the truth, we just can't imagine that it has really been that long! Where have the years gone?
Thankfully we have our health and strength, our family and EACH OTHER. We have meaningful and satisfying work, great kids, places where we like to travel and a lovely place to call "home". God has blessed "exceedingly and abundantly, above all we could ask or think!" I guess we will trust Him for the next year or forty more!