Happy Birthday Oliver

Today the last two members of my family both celebrated birthdays. Among my large family, this is the only occurrence of shared birthdays, and interestingly, they happened at the end of the year, creating a big finish. So I can focus on each person, I’m writing two blog posts today. 

This is my grandson Oliver’s birthday post. 

After winter weather moved in yesterday, I was unsure whether Oliver and I would get to enjoy our birthday lunch and shopping trip today. Although the sun was bright, helping to clear the roads of their icy layer, the temperature never rose above 14 degrees. My son and daughter-in-law and I discussed the situation via text messaging, and agreed the roads were safe. The birthday outing was on! 

Before meeting Megan in Joplin, to pick up Oliver, I looked up his name. 

“Oliver, you are learning to develop patience, and discovering that perseverance is a trait worth cultivating. You are good at absorbing knowledge and retain it well. While you can be charming or play it cool, most often you are a mixture of both. People don’t realize that you tend to hold things inside and suffer in silence until you can’t remain silent any longer, then you may express yourself strongly. 

You desire to inspire and lead, to control what others do. You are giving, courageous and bold, action oriented, energetic and strong willed. You truly want to make a difference in the world, and this attitude draws you to cultural interests, politics, social issues, and the cultivation of your creative talents.


I see the truth in these words about this handsome, active boy, who turned nine today. Patience hasn’t been a word I have associated with Oliver. And yet…I have seen this child grow and change so much this past year. He is learning that sometimes you go after what you want. And sometimes, you wait and the perfect opportunity arises. He is incredibly bright, remembering well what he learns. And most definitely Oliver can turn on the charm and dazzle people with his big smile. Or he can hold back, coolly appraising others or situations, weighing options before he acts. 


The section about holding things inside is true as well, something I’ve come to understand about Oliver recently. He is more shy and reserved than people at first realize. This sensitive boy has come to trust me, and with that trust, he has opened his beautiful heart and shared more about how he thinks and what he feels. New people, especially, or being in a crowd of strangers, can make him feel uncomfortable and less likely to engage with others. I appreciate Oliver’s honesty. 

When we are together, such as we were today, I don’t make him talk to people that he doesn’t know. If he wants to engage or answer a question a well meaning store associate or waitress asks, that’s totally up to him. I’m finding that if I will talk to the new person first, keeping a friendly and casual conversation going, Oliver is much more likely to join in on his own, and feel good about that. Everyone is unique. I’m grateful for this grandson’s perspectives and gifts and how he relates to the world. 


Today we enjoyed lunch at IHOP, where Oliver put away a stack of pancakes. We chatted about a broad range of topics. Rather than spend his birthday cash all on toys or on one big item, he asked if we could go to the mall. There is a place set up there, with cords and pulleys and trampolines, where the adventurous can bounce and somersault and leap high into the air. That’s what Oliver most wanted to do. 


And that is so like this energetic boy. He loves to move…run, climb, jump, do tricks…and he likes having an attentive and appreciative audience! Courageous, bold and action oriented all describe Oliver well. He used some of his birthday money to rig up and jump for 10 minutes, that infectious grin on his face, his athletic form spinning effortlessly into somersaults and back flips. I cheered and took pics and video, capturing his fun, capturing Oliver, and who he is at this moment. 


I have no doubt this boy will become a leader of others or a creator of big ideas. As I drove him home, he examined the one toy that he purchased at the mall…a hovering UFO type craft that is controlled with hand movements…and allowed his imagination to spark, thinking up possible inventions. Someday this kid, who is learning to channel his energy in remarkable ways, will come up with a million dollar idea that benefits many. I will enjoy seeing who he becomes and what he creates as he grows up. 

Happy birthday, Oliver. I love you so much! 

Christmas Shopping with Oliver

As Christmas approaches, it is time for a tradition that I initiated last December…taking each of my five grandchildren out for dinner and shopping. These outings allow me to have one-on-one time with the kids and the children have an opportunity to buy gifts for their family members. 



I picked up Oliver after school and off we went. The kids make the decisions about where to shop, what to buy, and where to eat for dinner. Oliver is the middle child in his family. He is used to his older brother or younger sister calling the shots. He politely asked me questions about what I thought we should do. However, when I returned the decision making back to him, he grinned and quickly picked out two stores to shop in. 


Oliver selected great gifts for his family, in a minimal amount of time. On the way to Freddy’s, his choice for dinner, we played a game of “What’s your favorite…”. We both like the color blue. My favorite movie is the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. His current favorite is the recent Middle School comedy. I like to vacation in Scotland. He enjoys Florida and Branson. 


We discussed school and Christmas and football over dinner. I was thrilled to discover that Freddy’s has a veggie burger on their menu. I tossed the bun. Oliver was brave and tried a bite of my unconventional burger. He not only picked up our meals when our number was called, he also cleared our table after we ate. 



Our fun evening concluded at my house, where Oliver wrapped his purchases. He likes all the plants that I have in my house. “You live in a greenhouse, Yaya!”. He’s right! 

I treasure these times with the grandchildren. Each child gets my full attention. I get to engage in lively conversations and hear that child’s unique thoughts about life and the world. Oliver bemoaned the fact that he still has seven years before he can drive. I am quite content for him to be a child for a while longer. I know how quickly the years will pass. All too soon he will be waving that driver’s license and heading off on new adventures. Even then, though, we will have dinner together and go Christmas shopping, Oliver and Yaya. He’s already offered to drive. 

Saturday Night at Roller City

I’ve definitely had a roller skating theme going on this weekend. Last night’s high school musical, Xanadu, had roller skating as a key element of the story. And this evening I ended up at Joplin’s Roller City with three of my grandchildren while my son and his wife had a date night. 

Roller City was the place to be tonight. There was a happy crowd of kids and teens, parents with youngsters and a few grandparents watching from the safety of the sidelines. After a quick dinner at Chick-Fil-A we arrived ready to join the roller party. 




The kids had a blast. The boys soon switched to in-line skates, eager to give them a try. And Aubrey started off with a trainer to help her keep her balance, but she quickly abandoned that skating aid and was zooming around the floor without it. 

I watched from the comfy bench on the sidelines, content to cheer kids on, offer drinks of cold water and snap pics. In typical fashion, Aubrey made a new friend before she even stepped onto the shiny wooden floor. She and Bella were inseparable until Bella had to leave, and then amazingly, two of Aubrey’s classmates appeared to keep her company. 


The boys were adventurous as they mastered the in-line skates. They kept a watchful eye on their little sister and perfected their techniques. I timed them as they made loops around the floor and gave them frequent thumbs up signs as they beamed at me on their way by. 

All three kids fearlessly participated in every event and game. I was very proud of their efforts and determination. Oliver explained that even if he didn’t win a race, it was good practice. What a great attitude. 


Watching them, listening to the pop songs blaring overhead and the whirring sound of skate wheels on the wooden floor, I was transported back to my childhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where my sisters and I spent Saturday afternoons or evenings at Skateland. I loved skating. 

I realized tonight that skating, like swimming, was a form of meditation to me. No matter how crowded the pool or the rink, I created my own solitary bubble around me, finding a way to be alone amid so many people. The almost hypnotic act of skating around and around the rink freed my mind to think and ponder while my body settled into a rhythm. 


I miss skating, having given it up after the car accident 21 years ago. I feel so good now, so healthy and fit, that I was tempted tonight to pull on a pair of skates. 

Soon. Soon I will. The kids and I agreed that we need to visit Roller City often, and bring their cousins Jonathan and London with us next time. I’ll let the whir and swoosh of the skates keep calling to me, until I am ready to answer. And then watch out kids, Yaya is going to take to the floor. 

Jump, Jump, JUMP

I enjoyed an afternoon and evening with grandsons Joey and Oliver. After picking them up from school, we discussed possible activities for our time together. Checking the movie theater, we didn’t find a film that we wanted to see. And the boys had recently played miniature golf. Our quest for fun ultimately took us to Northpark Mall, in Joplin. 



At the mall we visited the remote control shop, and watched the sales clerk fly a drone over our heads. The boys tried on masks at the recently opened Halloween store and discussed ideas for costumes. 

It was while we were leaving that store that the boys spied the jumping trampolines and harnesses at the end of the corridor. Their eyes lit up as they turned eager faces to me. 

It looked fun to me. Of course I said yes! 



It was fun! Joey and Oliver harnessed up and I snapped pics and shot video while Papa Greg held our stuff. We laughed as we watched our grandsons jumping, spinning and flipping, 30 feet up in the air. We were envious. Twenty five years ago, Greg and I would have harnessed up as well. I was impressed with the acrobatic maneuvers that the boys executed. 


After very entertaining performances from Joey and Oliver, our little group settled into a booth at Garfield’s off of the mall food court. The boys dined on quesadillas and nachos while I had a plain baked potato with a side of steamed broccoli and Greg enjoyed fish. Garfield’s, with their white paper tablecloths and cups of crayons, provided the perfect opportunity for a fun game that we play. 

Joey started us off by drawing a crackling fire. Each of us then took turns drawing more objects, contributing to the picture and expanding the story, round and round, until we were all giggling over the result. Our food arrived and in our excitement I failed to get a picture of our finished masterpiece. This activity is a great way to express creativity on several levels, laugh together and engage in conversation. 

I loved spending time with two of my grandkids. I listened to their stories, and laughed over their antics. My grandchildren are all adept at going with the flow and seeing what unfolds. And when a fun opportunity presents itself, well….they jump right in.

Watch Joey and Oliver JUMP


Hooray for (Grand)Kids Day

What a happy, serendipitous conjunction that today was Hooray for Kids Day, and I got to spend it with three of my grandchildren. My son and daughter-in-law both had to work today, and it just so happened that this was the only day that I did not have appointments. Another beautiful concurrence. 


I love children and spending time with them. They have such fresh perspectives on the world and share so sincerely from their open hearts. I am truly blessed that my children and grandchildren all live nearby and I get to see them often. 

Today Joey, Oliver, Aubrey and I played at their house, had lunch at Chick Fil A, toured my garden, watched the newest Ice Age movie at the theater and shopped at Toys R Us, before returning home in time to meet Megan. 

These kids, who are 10, 8, and 7 (Aubrey and Oliver have birthdays yet this year so that they will then be 10, 9 and 8), were wonderful companions today. They were kind, smart, funny and intuitive. Their affection for each other was obvious and they treated one another with respect. This is a big deal because they are a blended family. It can be challenging to find ones place in a new family dynamic. And yet Joey was the big brother in all ways today, helping me with the other two, and helping Oliver and Aubrey. Oliver is definitely the go between, spending time with Joey and Aubrey, joining in their favorite activities, while also exploring his own interests. And Aubrey is the sister, compassionate and nurturing, seeking out guidance from the older boys while also being confident enough in herself to do her own thing. 



On this hooray for kids day, these are the special moments that stood out:

Joey – I could see the teen lurking in the boy today. Joey has grown so much this year. He doesn’t wait for me to ask him for help. He anticipates the need and takes care of it, keeping toys picked up, caring for the animals and offering assistance. When we piled into the car to head to lunch, Joey ran ahead to open car doors, making entry easy and allowing the heat trapped within to escape before we entered. Conversations with this young man are thoughtful and interesting. 

Oliver – It’s not easy being the younger brother, trying to figure out who you are apart from an older brother. Yet I see this boy discovering who he is. The kids had money they had saved to spend at the toy store today. I added to their stash. Joey had the most saved up, with Oliver and Aubrey having about the same amount. Oliver appeared before me with a wooden box he had purchased at a yard sale. He asked if I liked it. When I said yes, he offered to sell it to me…for $5. I love that he thought of a way to increase his spending money! He possesses a great entrepreneurial spirit. Of course I bought the box. 

Aubrey – And I purchsed a craft that Aubrey had made, for the same amount. She saw an opportunity, and seized it. This girl was the first child awake this morning, giving us time for girl talk. She noted my haircut and that I’ve lost weight. After she inquired about my age, she quipped, “Wow Yaya, you looked really young for being so old!” Aubrey keeps me humble…and laughing. She is a keen observer of life and I appreciate her insights. At the beginning of the Ice Age movie she whispered that a father mastodon had issues letting go of his daughter as she prepared to marry. She nailed it. That was indeed a predominant theme that developed in the movie. 

This was a special day. School is beginning soon and the grandkids will all be busy with studies and friends and extracurricular activities. I cherish these last lingering days of summer. I cherish these kids. 

Surrender 134: Nachos for Joey, Cheeseburger for Oliver

Today I finished up lunch time with the grandkids at their schools, with a double treat. Grandsons Joey and Oliver attend the same school. This year, their lunch times are back to back. I showed up with the boys’ orders: Nachos Bellegrande from Taco Bell for Joey and a cheeseburger meal from McDonalds for Oliver. Dr. Peppers and chocolate chip cookies completed their meals. 



Oliver, who is finishing up second grade, had lunch first. His class was entering the cafeteria as I was and he called out to me. As soon as his teacher gave him permission, he joined me and selected a place to sit. 

We had fun catching up. I asked him all about his recent activities and he asked me about mine. As school is ending, I asked him what he had most enjoyed about the past school year. He was quick to tell me about the fun classes he goes to that change with the days of the week: PE, art, music and computer lab. He’s especially enjoying computer classes, now that they are allowed to play games. As he ate, Oliver, who likes to try unusual food combinations, created the chocolate chip cheeseburger! He assured me it was delicious. I’d like to let him sample a donut hamburger, made with a beef patty between two glazed donuts. 


Our conversation turned to sports. Oliver will be playing football for the first time this summer, as a Tiger. We discussed sportsmanship, after Ollie told me about a classmate who displays anger when he loses, arguing about the rules or the call, and ultimately stomping away to seethe. Oliver’s eyes softened as he told me it’s not about winning or losing. The fun is in getting to play. Just play. I’m so proud of his attitude. I’m looking forward to watching this bright and wise boy play.

Oliver was the last child to leave the lunchroom, before the next group arrived. His amazing principle chatted with us, took a picture of us for me, and let Oliver stay a little longer. Inquisitive and charming, Oliver lingered to talk and hug on each other until the fourth graders filed in. After a final embrace and a non-embarrassing kiss on the side of his head, he tossed his trash and trotted away, just as Joey arrived at the table. 


Joey, completing fourth grade, is looking more and more like a young man. As he started on his plate of nachos he began our conversation with questions about how I was, how was my day going, what all had I been doing. He got the jump on me, this sweet, creative and thoughtful boy! 

We discussed a broad range of topics, from school to summer vacation to movies to sports. I love these one on one times of talking with each of my five grandkids, watching their earnest, expressive faces, listening to their thoughts expressed. I value what they have to say. I marvel at their keen intellects and perspectives. I asked Joey what his favorite thing about the past school year was, and he shared about the fun day his class had yesterday at the 40 Mile Party. 


Intrigued, I wanted to hear more. Apparently each child in the class set a goal of running 40 miles this semester. Every day they ran a mile or two at recess or during PE. For completing their goals, the whole class had a day long field trip yesterday, that included time at the park, a pizza lunch and time at the Y. I was impressed! What a great way to encourage kids to set healthy goals and accomplish them in small, manageable steps. And how fun, the celebration.

In fact, today seemed to carry over that party atmosphere. Everyone was in high spirits and casual dress, students and teachers and the principal all, as the last days of the school year are winding down. I’ve never seen a school principal who engages so well with his students. He interacts with them, in fun and educational ways, as they eat lunch. He let the kids play a game called Pick a Door, in which 6-8 kids at a time leave the cafeteria and one by one, they re-enter from the hallway through one of four doors. The kids in the cafeteria hold up fingers to indicate which door they believe the child will enter through. They love it, laughing as they count up how many guesses were correct. I only guessed when Joey entered in, and I guessed correctly. He came back into the lunchroom through door number four. 

As lunch with Joey concluded, I hugged him and kissed the back of his head. He cleared away his trash as I gathered my things to leave. Suddenly he was behind me, slipping his arms around me for a last tight hug. I love how affectionate each of my grandchildren are. They freely give and receive love. Delighted, I turned to embrace Joey again. His face lit up with a beautiful smile. 

As I drove away after those fun lunches, with a smile on my face and tears in my eyes, I thought about all five of my grandchildren. These kids. These fun, smart, talented, loving kids. I believe I am at my most authentic self when I am with any of my grandkids. They allow me to be me, fully. They allow me to be my quirky, creative, loving self. I hope they know that with me, they can do the same, be exactly, and fully, who they are at this moment…and in every moment throughout their lives. I love each one dearly. I am loved in return. 

I am a blessed, and grateful, Yaya. 

Surrender 57: Games, Minions & Silly String

Today I picked up grandson Oliver from school and hung out with him until his mom got home from work. There’s nothing unusual about picking him up, except that for the first time, I only picked up Oliver from school. Aubrey was with her mom today. Joey had an overnight event. It was just Ollie and me this afternoon. After he thought about that a moment, realization dawned. He, and he alone, got to decide what we would do. He liked that!

 

Oliver opted for stopping at Casey’s on the way home, for a snack and a slushie. As we ate, at the house, we played his favorite card game, which involved sharp eyes and quick reflexes. He won! 

After building a mini fort on the sofa, we sat together while Oliver played Clash of Clans, a video game. All my grandkids know I’m not talented at playing electronic games, but I enjoying observing them as they play. I watched Oliver’s sweet face become a study in concentration as he intently focused on his next move. 

 

When he tired of his fighting clansmen, we giggled our way through the Minions movie. I had not seen this animated film and I enjoyed watching these endearing yellow beings and hearing Ollie laugh during his favorite scenes. Although the minions have been in two other movies, this one focuses on their “history”, from the beginning of time, until they meet a certain despicable person. It was great fun.

This charming boy and I talked this afternoon. Being the middle child, he sometimes doesn’t see his own talents, focusing instead on his older or younger sibling. He is gifted, and in more ways than running fast, jumping high, and climbing any tall object. One of his talents that impresses me is his ability to create amazing photos. 

I spent a couple of hours last Monday with Aubrey and Oliver while Joey had a dental appointment. When my son got home, he joined us in the backyard, playing with the kids and giving them rides on his broad shoulders. I took a picture of Oliver and Nate, that captures a fun moment. 

 

When it was Aubrey’s turn to climb on Nate’s shoulders, I handed my phone to Oliver and let him take pictures. His photo far exceeds mine in composition. He has such a creative eye. I look forward to seeing what he does with his gift. 
 Oliver’s amazing photo.  

As Megan neared home, Oliver and I headed outdoors into the chilly late afternoon air for one last activity. Some might question my decision to buy an eight year old boy a can of silly string, however I included it in our purchases at Casey’s so he could try it. What fun he had, especially when he silly stringed his Yaya! My only regrets were that I didn’t get a picture of the pink string shooting toward me…and that I didn’t have my own can of silly string. I would have gotten that boy back! 

 

We had a great afternoon together, Oliver and I. I love having all my grandkids together. And I love having one on one time with them as well. When there’s no one to take turns with, when you don’t have to wait to tell a story, it allows for a time of deeper connection.  I can listen with my full, undivided attention. I can learn more about that child. I can be shot with pink silly string. These times are precious to me. 
  

Surrender 21: Playing in the Moment

Nothing keeps me in the moment and surrendered to the flow of life like being with my grandchildren. I enjoyed an afternoon with Dayan yesterday. Today, I had the pleasure of spending time with Joey and Oliver. 

It was much too cold to be outdoors this wintry afternoon. No problem…we moved the fun inside. After snacks and a bit of down time watching a cartoon, the boys decided to play an in-the-house version of a basketball game, PIG. 

  
I surprised the boys by telling them I knew this game and used to play it too. Using a clothes hamper as the hoop, and a rainbow colored ball, we began. 

 

One person picks a spot to stand and makes a shot. If the ball goes through the hoop, or in this case, into the hamper, the other players must attempt the same shot from the same place. If someone misses, he or she takes the letter P. And the next player sets up the next shot. A second miss earns an I…and the third a G…and then you are out. 

 
We had fun and we were pretty evenly matched! I was glad to discover that I can still sink a shot. 

  
The boys moved to a checkers tournament. I confess I lost in the first round. That was okay. I got to sit and watch them play and figure out moves. Again, these two were very evenly matched in skills. Their game ended in a draw, and then became a fun, spirited wrestling match on the floor! Carl the dog literally piled on here. 

  
With their mom on her way home from work, the boys picked up toys and while Ollie finished up, Joey and I began a shared drawing. This was truly a surrendered moment that flowed into a new game. I started by quickly sketching a dragon. Joey added a dog. And the story began. I drew the tree and added to the story, and Joey sketched in baby dragons hatching from eggs. Every picture added to the drawing and the story. 

What a creative way to share an adventure. When my oldest grandson was a small boy, we began telling back and forth stories, adding a couple of sentences at a time. We called these The Adventures of Dayan and Yaya. This method of shared drawing created a fresh way of story-telling, The Adventures of Joey and Yaya. I look forward to doing more of these with Joey and also Oliver, Aubrey and Jonathan. 

  

I so appreciate the perspectives of children. How refreshing, as I reconnect with my inner child, my creative artist, to spend time with kids as they freely express their creativity. They inhabit the moment, and the next and the next, as easily as playing. 

Teal Swan says “What sets youth apart from adults, is their ability to recognize and surrender themselves to happiness.” I surrender as well! 

  

Journey 343: Dinner & Christmas Shopping with Oliver

This year I decided to take each of my five grandchildren out individually for an evening of dinner and shopping. It gives the kids the opportunity to select gifts for their immediate family members and allows me precious one on one time with them. Tonight Oliver and I launched the dinner and shopping with Yaya tradition. 

 

Oliver chose Chik-Fil-A for dinner. We chatted about school, family, friends, and the boy who threw up in class today.  
 

Shopping got underway at Toys R Us, where Oliver picked out gifts for his siblings. A boy has to have a little fun in the midst of thinking about others.  
 

This adventurous kid can’t resist jumping through such an inviting structure. 

 
Perfect landing. 

 

Ta-da!

We had a fun evening, Oliver and I. He made great selections for his family. I loved the thought he put into his choices and his obvious delight in having surprises to put under the tree. He even picked out the gift bags and the two huge bows for Joey’s and Aubrey’s presents. One grandchild has completed his shopping. Four more to go. I love this time of year! 

   
  

Journey 301: Treats & Tricks

October has been one gorgeous fall day after another. Even the rainy days were welcome, and beautiful in their own way. This week concludes the month, and my journeys have reached the 300’s. The year is winding down. On this perfect autumn day, had not one, but two highlights. 

  
I had the pleasure of having lunch with my cousin William in Neosho. We were overdue for a chat and a shared meal. William suggested one of his favorite local restaurants, Cafe Angelica, on the Neosho Square. I was delighted, as I’ve not eaten here before. 

 

What a great place! I loved finding a cafe with a cute name that had a charming interior to match. Even before we ordered lunch, I was captivated. The French country decor was so inviting. And the food was marvelous. We each had the lunch special which included half a sandwich, a salad and a bowl of soup. William loves the chicken curry salad sandwich and I had one as well. The potato soup was delicious and perfectly complemented the chicken curry. 
 

I enjoyed my first meal at Cafe Angelica and look forward to sampling other entrees. Most of all, I enjoyed seeing William and catching up. By anyone’s reckoning, he has had a challenging year. His mom’s birthday Monday was a bittersweet reminder of his loss. He and his uncle celebrated the day by preparing some of Mindy’s favorite foods. I find that very touching. He reminded me in his quiet, sincere way today that he’s here, he’s journeying, he’s figuring out the path that’s been laid before him. I continue to be so proud of this young man. 
 

After my return to Joplin, I totally switched gears, into high energy mode. For the first time, I picked up Aubrey, Joey and Oliver from school. Not such a big deal, except that not only do they attend different schools, the schools are in different towns! Fortunately Aubrey gets out 25 minutes ahead of the boys. We had plans for the afternoon and the kids were ready for an adventure. 
With all three kids in tow, we visited the Halloween Store, at the Northpark Mall. We have a big family Halloween party Saturday and I offered to take this trio shopping for costumes. That might sound overly ambitious, taking three active children into a store full of props and costumes and accessories. It was a blast! The kids were golden. None of them knew what they wanted to dress up as, so we looked and discussed and tried on options. 

I am very grateful for the help of a friendly woman in the store, who cheerfully fetched costumes in different sizes, made suggestions, and answered questions. There were lots of questions. The kids were great to sort through a variety of options and make decisions fairly quickly. I was very proud of all three. My only regret was that I completely forgot to snap pics of the process, which had comedic elements. It was a busy 45 minutes and I apparently needed an assistant whose only job was to take pics. Ah well. We have memories. 

We carried our purchases to the mall food court and had snacks before reversing our trip and returning home. I love watching these beautiful children as they chat and laugh and observe their world. I learn so much from them. We listened to songs on the ride home, everyone singing along. 

The kids humored me, once we arrived at their home, and donned their costumes so I could get a photo. Aubrey’s outfit is on over her clothes and Joey has other pieces of his costume to pull together. Oliver’s is complete. He cracked us up by saying he was smiling behind his mask, since I couldn’t tell. Saturday will see everyone fully costumed. It promises to be a fun day. 

Today was a fun day too. From Cafe Angelica to the food court, from Neosho to Joplin to Carthage, it was a memorable journey.