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Tag: grandparents

Never Too Old

Never Too Old


This year marked the first year that my grandpa was unable to go with us to see Thomas the Tank Engine.  He was still anxious for us to go, however, so we made the annual visit for the 10th time in a row.  Here are my very big kids enjoying the adventure provided for them by the grandpa who still has a big kid inside of him too!


We rode in a plush covered car this time, and had it nearly to ourselves!  Our train trip was enlivened by lots of stories from the conductor who rode with us.



The garden railroad is always one of my favorite places to spend some time.  There is a timeless fascination in looking into a miniature world.



Yep, that’s me–what’s with the enormous green hat?  I love that hat, but it sure looks weird!


I’m not sure how many more memories we will make here, but we certainly have a big pile of ones from the past decade.  I am grateful.

Escape to Santa Fe

Escape to Santa Fe


When my parents were in town a few weeks ago, we managed to escape south for a few days and spend some time in Santa Fe, NM.  It was a fun adventure, punctuated by excellent food, family game-playing, and tons of museum time.  Something for everyone!!











Here are our top picks:

Best breakfast: The Chocolate Maven (not Southwestern, but such wonderful baked goods and we could watch the bakers at work while we ate)

Best lunch: I can’t even remember–pretty much, Mexican food here is just really good all the way around!

Best museum: My personal favorite is the Folk Art museum that features a HUGE room full of toys and miniatures.  That’s where many of the pictures are from, and was one of the places the kids also enjoyed most.  I think Than’s favorite was the art museum, and my dad liked the history museum.

Best memory: TIME together–car time, eating time, game time–I just like to be with my family!!



Our annual Idaho vacation nearly always includes a camping trip, and this time we did it at the very end of our week away.  Nate and Kerry were able to join us and Nate even found out about a campground none of us had ever visited before.  It was a wonderful way to end our time together.


Our campground was very shady with a great hill for exploring, a stream across the road, and plenty of treasures to find for our campground scavenger hunt and our Genesis 1 group devotional time.


Campfire meals included hobo pies and Dutch oven green chili chicken.  Yum!!  One morning we traveled to the nearby town of Lava to go down the water slides, swim in the pool, and eat pizza for lunch.  Nathan loved the smaller water slides, and Katya got over her fear finally and went for it too.  Nate, Kerry, Dad, and Than were brave enough to go on the big long slide, but mom and I didn’t take that plunge.


And of course, what would camping be without S’mores?!!  Thanks especially are due to mom for planning all the food, packing most of the gear, and keeping the campsite organized, and dad for hauling the trailer up there, splitting wood, and giving everyone places to sleep.


We enjoyed talking around the campfire, playing with glow sticks, hiking around the area, discussing favorite Bible verses, looking at the stars, and playing several games.

This is my favorite picture from the whole week.  Love this tribe!!


Growing Up

Growing Up


When does growing up turn into growing old?  Is it a number of birthdays, a state of mind, or a place in the generational family tree?


Grandparents have been heavy on my mind and heart recently.  When Nathan was born, Than and I had eight grandparents all living independently.  We were thrilled to introduce our new baby to these special people, knowing it wouldn’t last forever.


When Katya came along, we still had all eight!  Each of them was a memorable and distinct person to our toddler son, and we wondered if our infant daughter would know them as well.


By the time Katya was 4 and Nathan was 7, four of the eight had moved into senior facilities of one kind or another.  Both of my kids knew and loved them.


Shortly after Katya’s 6th birthday, just before Nathan turned 9, we lost two of the grandparents in quick succession.  There was sadness over the loss, more sadness over watching people around us grieve, and lots of questions about heaven from the kids.


Now, with Katya 7 and Nathan almost 10, one more face is missing from the lineup.  Two of the remaining five are currently in rehabilitation facilities following serious health challenges.  Life continues to change, and as my kids grow older so do my grandparents.


I am so grateful to these grandparents, both the ones that are mine by birth and those that are mine through marriage.  I am grateful to be part of a family that is tied together–in places, still four generations deep on this side of heaven.  I am grateful for these wise people who have patiently shaped and molded my parents, and in turn me.  I am grateful for the opportunity to watch 8 different colors and styles of aging, 8 different men and women farther along the road that I too am traveling, 8 different stories that feed the roots of my own story, 8 different faith journeys that still point to a faithful God.

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The most dramatic spiritual conversion story I have ever heard can’t top the power of a life given to God all the way through to the very end.  I am privileged to be watching these stories playing out, and challenged by the ways I am needed to be part of their lives.  I wonder what my own road will look like, if it will be as long as theirs, and how I will act and live when I am in their shoes.  I welcome the lessons I am learning, and wonder if the “Thoughts on Aging…” notes in my journal are at all close to the thoughts I will really have when the end is so much closer than the beginning.  I hope that I continue to grow up, and I am grateful for the growing up that God still has in store for my grandparents.


(Note, all the photos in this post feature my Grandpa Topping.  I’ve lined them up in chronological order, starting when he went to serve in WW2 and ending with Katya’s Bible presentation at Christmas.  The baby and the girl with the glasses are me.  Gramps is the one most in my thoughts today, and he’s the one I have the most photos of!!)

Spring Break-The People

Spring Break-The People

Road trip adventures and tourist destinations are great, but the best part of our spring break trip was the people we got to see.  We met some memorable new people along the way and had fun recording names and a brief note about each of them in my travel book.  Our tow truck driver, the mime, a hard working security guard, a stone carver–so many interesting people, each with their own life and story.  (Speaking of which, what’s the story on these crazies?!!)


Most important, however, was the time we were able to spend with family.  My grandparents were, as always, welcoming hosts and it was a joy to be together again, sharing conversations and adventures and meals and even a jigsaw puzzle or two.


Than took the kids on an adventure trip one day so I could have some dedicated time with my grandparents, giving us a chance to do some gardening, visit the grocery store (a favorite pastime for the two cooks in the house) and talk about life.


We were also grateful for a well hosted family dinner at my aunt’s house, providing a chance time to catch up with aunts, an uncle, and cousins.  Another cousin came to visit for lunch one day, two cousins came for dinner one evening, and much to the kids’ delight we got to see their second cousin three times during the five days we were there.  I am so grateful for all the St. Louis Shaws who adjusted their schedules to be with us.


God gave us safety, rescue, new experiences, good memories, and rich times as a family of four and an extended family of over 15, with lots of other combinations in between.  I am so very grateful.



Celebrating the Resurrection

Celebrating the Resurrection

Holy Week often seems more hurried than holy, even though each year I wish that it would somehow magically be different.  However, God is faithful to remind us of His great love and sacrifice, the gifts that make possible all of the joyful and necessary activities that fill our days.  Here are some Easter highlights….

The unexpected treat of decorating Easter eggs with our neighbor, invited in my my children when they were delivering hot cross buns.


Bits and pieces of four different generations from both sides of our families, gathered at our house to share the afternoon.


Cousins who get along well and enjoy each other thoroughly.  (No, Katya doesn’t have glasses yet, that is just a dress up pair that she was enjoying for the day!)


A front-and-backyard Easter egg hunt that kept both kids and adults entertained.  Nathan even had the kindness to run some eggs across the street for the little girl who lives there!


The delight of fun treats, large and small, hidden in eggs and given from loving family members.


Not photographed but still important moments to reflect, serve, and rejoice at our church’s prayer walk, Good Friday meal, and stirring Easter service.

And my favorite, 21 people gathered together because of the miracle of God’s saving love for us.  As we read in 1 Peter 1: 3-4 “According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading…”


He is risen!

Christmas with Family

Christmas with Family

We were so glad to have my parents and brother with us for Christmas, and enjoyed celebrating with the Baylor families a week later.  Here are some pics…

Making gingerbread houses on Christmas Eve:


Hooray for Christmas presents:



After Christmas dinner was finished, there was another coloring tablecloth!




A little Christmas concert (yes, Nathan played too, but that picture didn’t turn out!):


Our Christmas Day crowd:


Not pictured–tromping through a beautiful snowstorm on Christmas Night before returning to the house for games

Some of the cousins, heading outside to play on New Year’s Day:


Thankful in November or January

Thankful in November or January

We were thankful to have the fun of hosting Thanksgiving dinner at our house, with Than’s parents and his brother’s family here to celebrate with us.  It is delightful to watch the cousins at play, and to see how much they enjoy each other as they grow.


We traded the traditional turkey in for herb roasted pork loin this year, but it was accompanied by the usual complement of favorite side dishes, including Matt and Kimi’s homemade rolls and homemade pies from Jan.  Delish!

A fun feature this year was the color-your-own-place tablecloth, providing amusement to kids and grownups alike as the day progressed.  I promised the kids I would photograph it (much better than keeping it!) so here it is, a before and after…



Food, games, laughter, family–a good day of celebrating God’s blessings.

Butterfly Visit

Butterfly Visit


Thanks to a free Saturday morning, some tickets gifted by a good friend, and a request from Grandpa Train, we took a visit to the Butterfly Pavilion.  We were quite impressed with all sorts of invertebrates on display.  Daddy even held Rosie, the tarantula!


Of course the highlight was the actual butterfly part.  There were SO many winged beauties fluttering around, and very few people visiting, so we had plenty of time and space to enjoy them.  Katya even had her wish come true–a butterfly landed on her skirt, and ended up slowly making its way all the way up her shirt and eventually crawled onto her hand.  She was thrilled!






It was a treat to be able to enjoy God’s creation in such an up-close way.  It was also a special time to share with Grandpa Train, and we got to enjoy lunch later with Grandma Sweetie too.  Good memories!

Another Train Adventure

Another Train Adventure


Since it has been at least two days since I posted a train photo, I decided it was time for some more!!  Yes, I know there were train pictures at the start of summer from the Cumbres and Toltec, and train pictures for the start of autumn from Day Out with Thomas, but there was train activity in between too!  On the last Saturday of summer vacation, Nathan and I got to travel with Grandpa Train and his railroad club to see a foundry and historic depot in Strasburg, CO.


Although we didn’t ride on a full-sized train, we did get to ride a mini train through the field of a man who works at the foundry.  He repairs engines all day, and then comes home and plays with engines as a hobby too!!

I think my favorite part was watching the workers in the foundry.  They cast and machine all kinds of parts, using some tools that are over 100 years old.  They custom build parts to repair historic locomotives and keep mini trains like the one at our zoo running.  We watched them heat and pour bronze into a mold while we were there.


Another cool part of the trip was getting a glimpse into my grandpa’s history.  He enjoyed telling the story of the time he was stranded by a snowstorm in this very depot, spending the night sleeping in front of this pot-bellied stove as a teenager.


Nathan had the distinction of being by far the youngest member of our group, and he was a good participant.  He enjoyed riding the train, eating a hearty lunch out in the field, and investigating the variety of historic buildings and objects at the depot/museum.


Hooray for cross-generational adventures!!  May there continue to be many more to come!