8 posts categorized "Friends"

September 23, 2011

{these moments}

{these moments} - A Friday ritual. Four photos - no words - capturing moments from the week. Simple, special, extraordinary moments. Moments I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment(s)' in the comments for all to find and see.



Idea courtesy of Soulemama.  


Lest I forget, two more images as reminders of special events this weekend...

Happy Birthday, Mom




and Happy 7th Anniversary, Salty Dogs!




February 23, 2011

Three for Three

IMG_1109 IMG_1121 This past Sunday, the Little Guy turned three.  I had planned (in my head) the uber-party of the year for many months. I even had (gasp) a hand-crafted, hand-stamped invitation idea.  I simply needed to find a template, print out tons of head shots of the LG and let loose with the crafting craziness.

DSC_4503 Then October 8th hit and my life took a nose-dive.  Quite honestly, it's not (or wasn't) the cancer, but the doctors, the hospital, the bills, and the stress of figuring out stuff we were never supposed to have to worry about.  I am an unusual breed in that I was not so much freaked by the diagnosis (well, at first, but it faded) but how they were going to treat it.  As all of you kind, gentle readers well know, this took a bit of a toll on me.

IMG_1126 As the days passed, when not wrapped up in my fear of treatments, surgical and otherwise, I occasionally glanced at my kids and realized that I was potentially screwing up their lives in more ways than one.  Not only had I becoming slightly emotional and crazed on a regular basis, but they needed to keep going...and I was simply not keeping up.

IMG_1128 I suppose I did a passable job at Christmas.  We didn't go overboard and the kids enjoyed each and every gift more than we hoped.  I breathed a sigh of relief when the holidays were over, only to begin stressing mid-January.  I remembered that I had intended on a huge fire truck/man/house themed birthday party for Nicholas.  We would coincide the party with Peter's second R & R, we would invite all of his classmates and local friends and there would be cake, ice cream, fun but useful party favors and, of course, this would all take place at a local fire station.

DSC_4536 DSC_4522 I could see the glee in his eyes months away.  Nothing screams Nicholas like a firetruck wailing down the street.  Nearly every day he plays "Fire Chief" with Peter. (Yes, they play school and fire men together...and, yes, it is as sweet as it sounds.)  Construction vehicles still have their place, but it was to be a fire station birthday, no question.  However, I just wasn't up for it.

DSC_4538 Somehow, a certain crafty person glommed onto this fairly quickly.  She recognized my stress level peaking and knew that I wanted for Nicholas to have a fun day that didn't require me to go nuts. She also had long been aware that Nicholas had but one wish for his party:  he desperately wanted Baby Nate, the Salty Pup, to be in attendance.  How else to better assure this presence than to have the party at his home?

DSC_4544 Dr./Auntie Salty Dog made mention a few weeks ago that perhaps the festivities could take place at her house.  She could "throw up" (HA!) a few decorations, provide a bit of food, a cake and perhaps even a few partygoers.  Another extremely crafty friend has a daughter a few months younger than Nicholas and they have always gotten along swimmingly, so she was first on the list after Nate.  I verified that she was 100% sure this would not be an issue and decided that sometimes taking offered help takes just as much courage as denying it.  I let go of the reins, willingly handed them over and Sunday was the party of Nicholas's dreams.

  Th_IMG_1173 Whether he was riding in Baby Nate's fire truck (how cool IS that?), visiting the fire station in his full regalia, enjoying yummy barbecue and fire house chili, playing with 'put out the fire with marshmallows', devouring yummy chocolate cake or simply running around in circles with his Fire Chief hat on, it was a 3 Alarm birthday to be sure.  He did not miss the 18 plus friends from school, he had a tour of a local fire station (crayons and coloring book included!), no worries about decorating, directions, too many kids, too few...everything was just right.  Three kids for the big three...perfect in all respects.

If you are absolutely digging the hand-crafted decorations, you can learn more about the Dr./Auntie Salty Dog's crafting at the Crafty Dog.  Now off to try and figure out what to do for a certain soon-to-be 9 year old....


July 21, 2010

We *heart* nature

IMG_4937  so much so that we finally decided it was time for a camp.  Despite the fact that there are oodles of day camps in the area, I couldn't justify spending the money for a regular camp.  If I found a specialty camp, that would be one thing, but we have the neighborhood pool across the street and so much to do in the area.  Then I noticed that the nearby Nature Center was having a week-long half-day camp for those ages 6-10.  

I hemmed and hawed and finally came to the conclusion that it might not be a bad idea.  Only Kelsey could attend, but perhaps she would meet future class (or school) mates and if nothing else, have a bit of a break from the siblings for a bit.  This would then (theoretically) give me less of a complex about unpacking during the day...or at least fewer kids to worry about while unpacking.

IMG_4939  We had not been to the Nature Center in ages and I forgot what a gorgeous, treed area it is.  Since our last visit, they have added a "Nature Playce" with a short trail for kids.  Kids (and parents) can grab a guide that lists nearly all of the wildlife and their habitats.  There is a special garden designed just for the purpose of attracting butterflies and there was no shortage of them while we visited.  

IMG_4941  Kelsey and I journeyed there Monday afternoon to learn more about the camp and find out if spots were still open.  They were, but Kelsey spent the entire time lamenting "camp" and  being a bit grouchy about the whole thing.  Kelsey kept muttering under her breath, "I don't want to go, I don't want to go!"

To her credit, the director who gave us a tour remained unfazed.  I think she assumed Kelsey would complain, I would drop my encouragement and that would be that. Kelsey asked when we left if she "had" to go.  I offered she could try it for a morning, after all, it had to be more exciting than watching me unpack. Lo and behold, the idea grew on Kelsey and while I was doing dishes that night, she ran into the kitchen, gave me a big hug, and said, "I think I am going to like Nature Camp!" 

Off she went Tuesday morning.  She was a little nervous, but between taking a hike, meeting two "damaged" (rescued) owls, and learning more about butterflies, she had a fantastic time.  She ran up to us when Nicholas and I came to get her and extolled the many virtues of the camp.  I began to feel a bit guilty last night as Nicholas started to beg to go to nature camp.  Not really a possibility for the under-three, still trying to get out of diapers set.  Then I received an email...

IMG_0155 IMG_0162   It was a reminder of a playgroup meet-up.  I dismissed it at first, thinking that I should stay home and unpack (even though I likely wouldn't get that much accomplished).  I then realized it was not only going to be held at a nature center, but there would be kids Nicholas's age, and it would be another opportunity not only to get him out of the house and rediscover local outdoorsy spots in this area.

Score a point for Long Branch Nature Center in Arlington!  The Nature Center isn't huge, but has a cozy play area with puzzles, a little clubhouse section, toys, and books.  The front room has several aquariums with snakes and frogs, and a fish pond is off to the side.  If one happens in at the right time, there may even be an opportunity to feed the fish.

IMG_0159  The best part?  Long Branch not only has a paved trail around a viewing pond, but a path down to Long Branch Stream.  It is a very easy walk down to the stream, though it will feel like a bit of a hike on a humid day like today.  Little Guy was appropriately attired in his crocs and spent the next 20 minutes running around in the flat bed of the stream, climbing up boulders (in his mind), wading through the deliciously cool water, and throwing rocks.  He was not along in this fun, as all of his new playgroup buddies wanted part of that action.  Had we not had to pick up Kelsey, I am fairly sure we could have happily spent the afternoon there.

IMG_0160  Not only did we have much outdoorsy fun, but I ended up several friends that I haven't seen in quite some time (well, one a few weeks and another 7 years...). It also gave me the opportunity to meet other parents at the playgroup that I had heretofore only chatted with online.  Had I stayed at home, I am sure I would have unpacked a box or two...but would have missed out on friends (for both of us), the nature center and stream, and that reaffirming feeling of accomplishment for having done something that makes the soul so very happy.  With next Tuesday looming in the distance like a grumpy black rain cloud, I am so glad I made the effort to get out.

Notes regarding Long Branch:  it is about 400 feet back from the street, down a long, windy road.  It is a "two lane" road, but really only room for one car at a time (with a few small pull-off areas).  Parking can also get tight and you may want to back in (good advice, D.!) if possible.  If it's a warm day and you visit the stream, don't forget your hats (we did *sigh*), sunscreen and water shoes.  An Ergo or carrier might be a good idea if you have a sleepy toddler, but strollers can easily make the trek to the stream.  

May 31, 2010

And they're off...

IMG_2025 IMG_4623 IMG_4634 With a giant belch of exhaust, the truck heaved to the left...to the right...back to the left...then righted itself again and managed to finally pull forward.  All 15,000 pounds (give or take) of our 'stuff' was headed east.  Odd for a change that our household goods will only be crossing rivers and going through woods, save for 250 pounds.  The only items shipped over any large body of water will be those that Peter chooses to send by UAB to you-know-where.

I have to say this must be the least stressful move yet.  I finally let go of the notion that we have to do everything ourselves, and hired painters and house cleaners.  Brilliance in action and well worth the money.  We were able to focus on the move, not fret about matching colors or whether the fridge was clean enough, and Peter (bless him) uttered the magic words when the maids left yesterday,

"I am hiring a maid/housecleaning team to come to the house next year on a biweekly basis."

It just doesn't get more romantic than that.

Now don't get your panties in a wad or think he's gone off the deep end, but with three kids, a cat, maybe a dog (yes, it's time, a shelter visit is in order..), he decided that's a necessity.  You know what? After parceling out jobs during this move, I have realized that doing it all on a regular basis (much less just during a move) is a worry I don't want.  I think a little help may just aid me with holding onto my sanity over the next year...along with exercise (really need a good Yoga class), learning how to sew (and knit),  photography lessons, that occasional glass of vino, and, of course, my dear, sweet kiddos and all of their activities.

IMG_4643 IMG_4647 Now before all of that happens, we have to finish up life here.  In case you are wondering, we are sort of pretending everything is status quo.  Kelsey went to Camporee* this weekend and I will assume is having an absolute blast.  When we aren't trying to Freecycle remaining items (anyone need a stainless steel wastebasket for their office?), we are enjoying local events like the San Ramon Farmers Market (The Green Lantern's grilled artichokes are not to be missed) and the San Ramon Art and Wind** Festival.  We are hitting favorite eateries for the last time and I will have one final jaunt into the city this week.  It's hard to imagine that this time next week we will be on our way...

Oh, that reminds me: the itinerary.  Some have asked, and here is the (extremely) tentative plan:

  • 6 June, depart San Ramon and stop in/around Barstow area
  • 7 June, drive to Flagstaff
  • 8 June, visit the world's largest hole in the ground (just couldn't resist...) and head to New Mexico
  • 9 June, drive, drive, drive and spend the night in Oklahoma City
  • 10 -12 June, an 'extended' stay in Memphis (technically Germantown) to hang with the 'rents and eat the world's best BBQ!
  • 12 June, drive, drive, drive and spend the night somewhere on the TN/VA border
  • 13 June, arrive in Edgewater (home of Baby Nate!), and celebrate a certain someone's birthday...

IMG_4648IMG_4649So, until next Sunday,  we are happily ensconced in our second room in ye Old Residence Inn.  We received a hearty welcome from the staff upon check-in and enjoy the fact that Caitlin can walk to and from school (and the library!) for one more week.  Nicholas is sad to miss the carpool with "John John" (Cait's carpool buddy), but we still have the frantic race to get Kelsey to school...at least some things don't change.

*End of the year Girl Scout Camping trip...s'mores, tents, hiking, swimming in lakes, campfires, and scary stories galore. 

** Nicholas decided that the firetrucks were THE reason for the festival.  They had the ladder extended all the way...if there had been an "ananance", too,  we might never have seen the rest of the goings-on...

May 18, 2010

Sulphur Creek

I wasn't kidding. Movers and packers be darned, I WILL conquer the parks of Northern California.  I have a voluntarily compost-turning, dirt-piling, nature-loving little boy who adores playing in the rain and lives for his outdoor playgroup.

IMG_1935 IMG_1937 The fact that it was merely drizzling today was not enough to keep us away from the Sulphur Creek Nature Center in Hayward.  The morning was supposed to be an outing, "Toddler Time" for our Nature Playgroup, but we could not attend due to Nicholas's swim lesson.   Linda, our intrepid group leader, knew we had swimming and would miss the main part of the meet-up. She was kind enough to offer that we could visit and picnic after the Toddler Time class.  She mentioned that there were many animals on hand to be seen, gardens, and (obviously) a water-go of the creek sort.

The girls accompanied us as today happened to be a teacher work day.  We could not sleep in too much this morning due to the lessons and the need to pack up for our lunch with Linda and Cy.  Despite the fact that they stayed up way too late watching Julie and Julia last night (true Foreign Service kids, right?), Cait managed to wake up on her own at 6:45 a.m. and Kelsey followed not long after.  We hurried through breakfast, sped off to swim lessons, and by 10 a.m. were headed to the Nature Center.

IMG_1938 IMG_1939 Having never been to Hayward nor the Nature Center, I had no idea what to expect.  It was hidden back on a residential street merely minutes from 580.  After turning in, we easily found parking (two spacious lots), and tromped down the stairs in our venture to locate our friends. 

The first treat was the footbridge over the creek.  Nothing fascinates Nicholas like a water-go, and I completely understand.  There is something so beautifully mesmerizing about the flowing of the water, and the green of the surrounding foliage is just brilliant.  It didn't take much of a reminder to get Nicholas headed down the bridge and through the animal rehabilitation area into the the Discovery Center.

IMG_1941 We missed the class, but no the opportunity to "touch and feel, not steal" the snake skins on display.  Nicholas was enthralled by the turtles paddling about in the aquarium, and enjoyed 'talking' with them until the class was  over.

IMG_1944 As with other nature centers in the area, the Discovery Center is generally closed on Mondays, with the exception of Toddler Time classes.  There was nothing more to investigate inside, so we returned to the great outdoors to meet the wildlife.  

I think the coyotes had to be our favorite.  I am not sure how many I have seen in the past, but I know viewing (and talking to) them today was a first for Nicholas.  A fox was the immediate neighbor, though he was having a bit of quiet time.  He was up in a perch, sound asleep with his tail wrapped tightly around his burnished fur.  Nicholas insisted he had a blanket, and we decided with the warmth of the fur, he did look as snug as a bug in a rug. 

A deer ran down from the hills, and proceeded to prance around the edge of the property.  I am sure we were startling him, and we just watched from a distance.  Lunch time came quickly, and as with all of the parks, there were no shortages of places to stop and nosh.  The rains became more apparent while we were eating, and we opted for a quick hike under the lush canopy of trees on the hillside that surrounded the center.  The deer had come back, and the boys just couldn't get enough of him.

IMG_1943 The climb gave us a better view, and we were within spitting distance at times.  The deer would stop for a moment or two, and the boys were just fascinated.  The girls certainly found his antics entertaining, but the boys are still so young and absorbing so much, so quickly.  Such a treat to see the looks on their faces and the excitement in their young voices.

It seemed like we had just arrived, but by this time it was nearly noon and the rain was getting harder.  This pleased Nicholas to no end, but the girls were getting antsy to return home.  I knew a nap could be in the offing soon, and we wrapped up our visit with a final look at the rooster, ducks and magpies.  Another look in the creek, and we were back in the car having enjoyed yet another taste of the outdoor beauty that is Northern California.

April 23, 2010

Liar, Liar*!


Well, he didn't really say that, but the implication was there.  I told Peter there was a park with Redwoods only 30 or so minutes from our house, and he didn't believe me.  Nope, he tried to convince me that the only park with those gorgeous, tall, stately (and oh, so, shady) trees was Muir Woods.  Recently my friend Linda mentioned a more local Redwood park, and I realized this was the place I had heard about so long ago...but had been told didn't exist.


Now don't get me wrong.  We LOVE Muir Woods.  We can all fit inside the hollow tree for family photos, and one feels millions of miles away from...everything.  They have trails for every type of hiker, the trees, of course, recycling bins, compost bins, the snacks sold are wholesome, and with one exception, I just feel one with nature being there.  Corny, but true. The Redwoods are just awe-inspiring.


What is not awe-inspiring?  The drive.  One has to go along a twisty, windy road for what seems like days, after it has taken almost an hour just to get to that road.  It is eerily reminiscent of the way leading in and out of Colonia Tovar **(a little German village nestled in the mountain top just outside of Caracas).  We prayed non-stop the entire time we hugged the side of the road as the one lane (for two cars) wound around the side of the mountain, going up and back down. This type of driving (and, more to the point, road) did not bode well for those with weak constitutions.

It's not hard then, to recall the ride home after we visited Colonia Tovar with Auntie Shannon.  Caitlin was about two and had been very excited about the day.  Colonia Tovar is famous for its strawberries, and we were so excited to taste them.  Caitlin ate loved them, and  ate berry after berry.  We were in strawberry heaven until the long, twisty ride home. We stopped counting after 6 emergency stops (with little to no parking area) and Cait hasn't eaten a strawberry since.

So guess what happens when you have children (yes, Kelsey, too, on occasion) with you who are still prone to motion-sickness (and like to exacerbate it by reading novels in the car while on the uber curvy road to Muir Woods)?


Lots and lots of low grumbles, small moans, and then finally, just as you have passed the last scenic overlook with room to park the car for an emergency stop...the actual request to pull over and, well, you can figure it out.  We haven't made it to Muir Woods once without someone getting sick, and can't even consider taking the shuttle there (from a random parking area) for that reason.  When my friend Linda (yes, the lady who can get anywhere in Northern CA without a GPS) suggested we have a nature outing at the nearby Redwood Park, we signed on that dotted line immediately.


Now, if only I had just Googled this place last summer, we would have been in heaven on those terribly hot and sticky days.  Instead, we rushed over there today, hurrying to try and fit it in and everything else on our pre-move to do list.  Gorgeous.  Utterly gorgeous.

It's in Oakland, just off a long, twisty road, but not nearly as long as the road to Muir Woods, and minus the drive to get to the road to Muir Woods.  We parked inside the main gate, and headed toward the playground to wait for the rest of the group...it wasn't that hot out, but cooled off incredibly once under the shade of the trees.

After a bit of playtime, and meeting up with other folks, we continued our walk.  We ambled along the trail, stopping to see banana slugs, water-gos (creeks), fields of wildflowers, picnic tables (they are very big with the 2 year old set), and random empty shelters that have benches and windows.  They create hours of entertainment, believe it or not.

We only had to depart as we finally ran out of food.  Nicholas even consumed the emergency fruit bar, which led us to a cranky state of affairs by the time we were back in the car.  Luckily for Nicholas, Cy was able to share a bit of his extra snacks, and all was well with the world. It was a very happy Earth Day, and, yes, we carpooled.

*Pronounced in the manner of Carol Kane in The Princess Bride.

**There is now an actual web-site for Colonia Tovar!  When we lived there, the best directions we could find were:  Leave Caracas, drive outside the city, turn right at the McDonald's, make a right turn once you get to the middle of the little town in the valley, and then stay on that road until you go up the mountain and back down into the town.  Oh, and it's about a 1.5 hour trip, one way.

April 06, 2010


was the first word out of Nicholas's mouth yesterday when he awoke from his nap.  Kelsey was nearby and quickly reminded him that I had left on the airplane that morning.

The next utterance:


IMG_1673 Yes, I need to be quite clear:  95% of the reason I came to visit is this absolutely adorable new Little Guy, Master Nate (short for Nathaniel).  I have house-hunting to do, but I have been extremely nervous about that and would much rather spend hours playing with this sweet wee one.  Yes, the notion of buying or renting a new house is exciting, but the fact of the matter remains that I am obtaining the house for the four of us to live in and for Peter to visit.

If we are lucky, he will spend a sum total of 40 days (give or take) in said house over the next year.  When I have asked for his thoughts on the matter, his response was that I knew best.  Translation:  he won't be living there, so his opinions shouldn't hold as much water.

IMG_1677 On the contrary, they do.  Not only will this be a landing pad, should we come back to the area for training (well, theoretically), but I really, really hate making big decisions like this by myself. We are married, it will be our house, so we should both have a say. Therefore, I am quickly preparing a list of homes that we are slated to visit tomorrow, so he can send his yea or nay before he retires for the evening (don't forget, he is three hours behind).  And, I absolutely, positively, will not stay up until 4 a.m. tonight trolling real estate sites.  Not that I did that last night, though technically, it was only 1 a.m. for me...so, really, I went to bed early, or at least on time.

Given that  I spent most of the day on planes, though, I was alternately wired and exhausted.  I schlepped from Oakland to Salt Lake City to Minneapolis to BWI.  I have to say, for the most part, it was extremely smooth sailing.  I expected huge lines and delays, and found next to nothing in both departments.  Oh, except for the passengers who refused to sit down or turn off their electronic gadgets despite many requests from the flight attendants for cooperation (we are talking 15 or so minutes worth of repeated announcements).

Now, it may seem like a number of stops, but I enjoyed stopping in two new states, and although the terminals were a bit of a distance, who doesn't need to stretch their legs after a long flight?  What I don't understand?  How only 6 or so hours of flying can make one so darn tired.  Maybe it was just the lack of shut-eye Sunday night, but I easily slept through most of each flight, no matter how much background noise or turbulence.  Though I did stay awake long enough to realize that the woman next to me on my third flight was reading the exact same book as the woman next to me on my second flight, and the exact same chapter.  I know, completely unrelated to the story, but just struck me as so interesting.  Now the question:  do I find and read this book (particularly that one chapter) that is so captivating my fellow travelers or assume it was just a fluke?

Shannon, hostess extraordinaire, met me at the airport, and we hurried home to meet the baby of the hour.  Little Nate was in a semi-sleepy state, but blinked hello and dozed off and on while having a bit of nourishment.  We had much more quality time today and I not only got several smiles, but also quite a few giggles out of him. Considering he really only met me yesterday for the first time (not sure he remembers that Skype call when he was a week old), I was pleased as punch.  And, I must say, way more fun than fretting over real estate listings!  Which, reminds me, back to the list...

October 25, 2009

October Showers

Today could have been miserable.  Not only was the weather a bit iffy by some standards (not mine, I love rain!), but the traffic was a tangled, knotted mess when we least expected it.  However, too many good things happened today to make it anything but a happy success.

We started off the morning with a visit to old friends, two sisters very close in age to both Caitlin and Kelsey.  Cait has known the older sister since she was a year old, amazing given our lifestyle.  For whatever reason, jet lag, three years since we last saw them, tween angst, Cait was a bit nervous and shy.  However, they had time to catch up a bit, and promised to keep in touch.  

After a quick lunch, we scurried off to Janet's house to finish prepping for the shower with only a brief detour to check out the old house. Yes, we still do quick drive-bys, but they are totally for her benefit.  She freaked out about the "new tree" in front of our house (our old renters planted it), and, of course, bemoaned having to leave the neighborhood (4 years ago, but I get it).

Classically, we got caught in a nasty mess of traffic on 236 or Little River Turnpike.  Turns out we were lucky, though, as we missed the bulk of the storm. We arrived at Janet's in time to get ready for the shower, and head out for a few more supplies.  Then, the fun began...

IMG_3218 IMG_3215 Guests started trickling in at the appointed time, and then the Mom to Be arrived looking happy, relaxed, and just a bit pregnant courtesy of the adorable bump.  Drinks (Habibi Fizz & Lemonate) were served, games (Which TV Mom are you, Fill in the Nursery Rhyme, & Woof or Waa) were played, and the Mezza cuisine brought guests back to the table for seconds and thirds.  It was a combination of Lebanese Taverna, Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods at their best.

After (or during, for some of us) the Mezza, the gorgeous array of gifts was opened.  Shannon's Little Lad will have no shortage of clothing, toys, bath items, or sailing accoutrement.  The afternoon ended on a high note of chocolate cake (gorgeous and incredibly rich), and treats from a local chocolate shop. Without a doubt, the afternoon went off without a hitch, and the glow of happiness from the mom to be just lit up the room.

IMG_3200Babybib All of the thanks are due to Shannon's incredible circle of friends and family, both those who there in person and those who could only attend in spirit.  While Jen Pope organized the shower from top to bottom, to include the homemade cake (and frog atop the cake!), Janet was the official shower hostess.  Some of you may remember that she also hosted my baby shower eons (I mean, years) ago when I was pregnant with the wee one who was old enough to play bartender (simmer down, non-alcoholic drinks only) today!

Caitbecky Babyloot Ann and Erin created tasty beverages, and games that had everyone interacting.  Caitlin not only turned out to be a magnificent bartender , but also a waitress, taking plates and refilling so that all could truly relax and enjoy the day.  Nor can we forget everyone who drove in for the day from the extremely happy Grandmas, to cousins, co-workers, neighbors, & a last-minute drop-in for a photo-op from Jack, Janet's husband and photographer extraordinaire.

Note: I took the photo of the favors and the bib.  All other photos are courtesy of Janet, with the exception of the group photo, which was taken by Jack.  Many thanks to both of them!  Oh, and the significance of the bib?  It was my second crafty project of late.  The first was another bib that I did not feel photo-worthy, but gave to Shannon anyway, as I am sure it will still come in handy at meal time. The last picture is of Caitlin standing next to Grandma Happy (or Becky, Shannon's Mom)...love the shot, thanks, Janet!