The Fantastic Four or Three-Quarters

One week before Halloween Wyatt went from normal, wild Wyatt to going to bed early, on his own. And then the fever started. Over the next five days Wyatt spent a lot of time sleeping with a fever from 101 to 103.5. Just as Wyatt was showing signs of recovering, Ruslan came home from school with a 103 temperature. On Halloween he was still very tired and running a low fever. He didn’t want to trick-or-treat at all, but I talked him in to going to a few houses and then I walked him home.

Last year Scott and the children were The Guardians of the Galaxy and this year they returned as a different set of Super Heroes – The Fantastic Four. Scott – Thing, Juliana – Invisible Woman, Ruslan – Mister Fantastic, Wyatt – Human Torch.

Ruslan enjoyed showing off his long arms.


Wyatt hated the mask but we managed a quick group shot with the mask.

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The five of us set off and as expected after a few houses, Ruslan insisted he was ready to go home. I walked back to the house with him and then caught up with the others.

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When it got dark, the lights on Juliana and Wyatt’s costumes were really cool. We didn’t need flashlights and it was easy to keep track of them as we walked through the neighborhood.

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This was the first time in years that we have trick or treated without rain and it was relatively warm – no coats and no umbrellas – we finally lucked out with a nice evening. Fortunately Ruslan wasn’t too sad to miss it, we made sure that he ended up with lots of candy.



A decade
2 whole hands
The Big 1-0
Double Digits
Anyway you say it, Juliana is ten years old today and she couldn’t be more excited.

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The is very little middle ground with Juliana – it is either the best of times or the worst of times – everything is awesome or everything is terrible. At moments the lines between the two is very thin.

She is obsessed with cooking shows – especially challenges – cake wars, baking challenges – she takes them very seriously.

Her favorite color is blue and anything blue makes her smile. Pink is awful.

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Juliana wants to be friends with everyone and she loves with her whole heart. She even loves her little brothers even though “Why are they so annoying? They get into my stuff! Why do they have to be so loud?”

You never need to worry about Juliana sneaking up on you. If she doesn’t run into a wall on her way or knock something over and make accidental noise; she is incapable of walking into a room without talking. Sometimes by the time I start actively listening she is halfway through a story and I have no idea what she is talking about at which point I ask her to stop, slow down and start over. The words show no signs of slowing down.

If you have known Juliana for a while, you would know that for the first 8-1/2 years of her life, she lived in dresses and skorts. Kindergarten – 3rd grade she wore pants to school one time. The summer after second grade she suddenly decided that she would wear shorts – sometimes – it was a nice mix of shorts, sun dresses, and skorts. When 3rd grade was starting I asked if she wanted uniform shorts, “No, I only wear dresses and skorts to school.”

This past summer we bought some dresses and lots of shorts. She lived in shorts and at the end of the summer those new dresses still had tags on them. Pony tails and shorts were the norm and fancy Juliana appeared to be gone.

When it was time for back to school shopping she asked for uniform shorts and pants. I didn’t buy the pants at first, I knew there would be plenty of time later, but she kept asking. And on the first cool day of the school year she happily wore pants to school. She only wanted tennis shoes for school this year, no casual flats. Now that boot season is here, I expect we will have a mix of boots and tennis shoes for the winter.

Once school started she suddenly started dressing up again whenever we were running errands in the evening or weekends – the tags came off those new dresses and the fancy shoes reappeared. So we get casual Juliana for school and fancy Juliana on the weekends. It is interesting to watch her fashion choices continue to evolve however the love of glitter shows no sign of going away.

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My baby girl is growing up, the teenage years are coming, lots of changes are in our future, and she couldn’t be more excited about all of it. Meanwhile I would give anything to freeze time for just a little while.

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Grandma Lois

My strongest memories of Grandma Lois are from our annual visits to Erie in the summer and Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving will always remind me of her. I wrote about my Thanksgiving memories last year. Our visits in the summer were filled with lots of swimming in their huge pool, eating our favorite foods and snacks, and she always had special activities planned – road trips to Sea World, the circus, parades – there was always something extra fun in store when we were there. Foods that will always remind me of her: Bacon, toast, tuna noodle casserole, 7-up and Jello.

She loved scuba diving, socializing with friends (she kept in touch with her nursing school friends her entire life), and watching professional wrestling – they even bought a satellite dish so she could watch while they traveled in the RV.

She was born May 22, 1922 in Cleveland, Ohio and died on August 27, 2015 at the age of 93. Saturday we will bury her ashes with my Grandfather who died in 1998. She was a strong woman, much stronger than I think she ever knew.

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In 2007 I wrote a letter to her and asked some questions and it took a while but eventually I received hand-written letters in return. Here are two of her responses to me in her own words.

How Did You Meet Grandpa?
In September 1940 I started nursing school in Buffalo, NY. Came home one weekend a month. One weekend in 1941 had a Blind Date…Grandpa no blind date. He was setup. Never seemed to complain though. His friend Austin and my friend Dottie were going together.

Went to a movie {Gone with the Wind} and snack in Grandpa’s 1939 coup (tight squeeze). Dot had to sit on Austin’s lap. Me-squeezed in the middle. When he took me home he leaned over and kissed me. Dot & Austin almost fell out of the car. Sunday Austin & Bill {Grandpa} called at my home. Bill offered to drive me back to Buffalo. Austin went along to keep him company on way home. Next two years Bill came down every weekend. One evening he asked me if he gave me a Ring – would I wear it.

We were married June 12, 1943.

I have never understood this picture – it looks like 3 brides to me and has always been confusing because her bridesmaids also carried large bouquets and wore veils. Grandma is second from the left in the photo and Grandpa is in the middle on her left.

My Grandfather was in the Navy and went to Hawaii in 1944. My Grandmother stayed with her parents until he returned a few years later.

In August 1949 my Aunt and Uncle were born and just 14 months later my Dad joined the family. At the time that I was writing to her I was a working mom with only one child and I had full time daycare and normal working hours. I couldn’t understand how she managed with 3 little ones and the nursing hours.


What was it like to be a working mom?
Went back to work 11pm-7am. Had a sitter. Lovely lady 35 years old. Never worked but liked children. Paid her for 4 hours. I slept 3 hours. Picked her up and took her home. Had her for 11 years.

Then I went 7am-3:30pm in the operating room. Bill worked 3pm-11:30pm. She worked when needed. When the children were about 11 and 10, they informed me – no sitter was needed.

I loved my work in the OR. In 1984 hospital decided to cut down expenses. Everyone (entire hospital) age 60 were automatically retired last day of August 1984. I was 62 years old.

She volunteered at clinics and traveled with the county nurses to give flu and pneumonia shots. She continued volunteering into her 80s. She loved her work. She had two older sisters but she never knew one of them. Dorothy died in the 1918 Flu epidemic – I wonder if that is one of the reasons for her volunteer work.

She and my Grandpa bought an RV and traveled around the country and eventually settled in Florida for winters and retuned to Erie in the spring. My Grandfather died in Florida in 1998. She traveled a bit longer and then sold the small house where she and my Grandfather had raised their family and became a permanent Florida resident. She had a good support network and was in good health. (Picture taken 1 year before my Grandpa died)


When Juliana was two we went to Disney World and made a visit to see Grandma as well. Juliana was in a bad mood that day and had no interest in sitting nice for pictures but my Grandma didn’t care, she was so happy to meet Juliana.


I don’t think that anyone was more delighted than her when we announced that we were expecting twins. She had always hoped that the twins would continue in the family. She met the boys shortly before their first birthday at my cousin’s wedding. Her face lit up when she watched them crawl around outside; and for the rest of the day, one of the boys was in her arms.

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She spent some time in Pittsburgh that summer recovering from a fall and the children got to spend more time with her.

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She was never quite the same after the injury, but she continued to live on her own until after her 90th birthday. She lived a long, very full life and she will be missed.


All Smiles

Wyatt refused to smile for pictures for years – he would stare straight ahead without a glimpse of smile or deliver a straight lipped expression with his eyes pointed anywhere other than the camera. Something changed over the last year and now he smiles and makes eye contact and willingly holds still when I take his picture. Juliana is anti-pictures at the moment and Ruslan is the class clown of photo opportunities. So I will enjoy this smiling guy for a while.

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Occasionally I bribe the other two to cooperate – note that Ruslan is already sliding toward the edge to run away.

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The Same Yet Always Changing

After eight trips to Disney World, I feel at home when we visit. The familiar sights and sounds of Main Street welcome me and I am excited to visit my favorite places. The sameness of the Magic Kingdom over the years is comforting.

Cinderella’s Castle may be flooded with orange lights at Halloween and draped in icicles at Christmas, but it is still the same iconic landmark where I ate lunch when I was 10 years old and visited again when Juliana was 4.

Although there is usually a new ride, parade or show to see, I look forward to enjoying my favorite rides: Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and my favorite – the Tower of Terror. Experiencing them again with my children – hearing their delighted screams and giggles and seeing huge smiles on their faces – makes everything new and wonderful all over again.

As much as parts of Disney stay the same, the children…the children keep growing. This was especially obvious with Juliana on this most recent trip. She has changed so much since those early trips – she is no longer the little girl next to Minnie Mouse.

Age 4 vs now with Marie and Minnie Mouse.

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Age 2 vs now – I really miss those pigtails. Riding the bus and “holding” Tinkerbell.

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The Best Part of Our Trip


We knew that we wanted to go on a short road trip or two this summer and when Scott found out that Chelsea (English Premier League Soccer) was playing in Washington, DC, we added it to the list. On our last full day in DC we headed to into the city in the morning . . . → Read More: The Best Part of Our Trip

Washington DC – Day 2 – The One with Uncle Nick


Hot, humid, so much walking, wet, tired legs, family, adventure, so much walking, museums, monuments.

Monday was a very long day. By the time we returned to the hotel, the adults had close to 25,000 steps so the children had many more. There were some points where I didn’t think they would be able . . . → Read More: Washington DC – Day 2 – The One with Uncle Nick

Washington DC – Day 1


Since we didn’t have a beach vacation planned for this year we decided we would plan some smaller road trips. So when Scott found out the Chelsea (Premier League Soccer team) would be playing in DC this summer, the family adventure to DC was planned.

We loaded up the van and hit the road . . . → Read More: Washington DC – Day 1

Sometimes It’s Like We Aren’t From the Same Family


Last night Ruslan was standing in his bedroom crying after his bath. I went in and asked what was wrong and he cried, “The lotion tasted bad and it feels yucky in my throat!” Feeling very confused I asked he said that he lotion and when he confirmed it, I asked why. “Wyatt tried . . . → Read More: Sometimes It’s Like We Aren’t From the Same Family

A Day in the Life – 2015 Edition

Every few years I try to record a relatively normal day in our life. Usually I make a note to do this in a year where our schedule has changed – for example the year that Juliana started Kindergarten. This was the first year of school of Ruslan and Wyatt so during their last . . . → Read More: A Day in the Life – 2015 Edition