The Beauty Around Us

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Posts from the ‘Family’ category

Grandpa Bob and Grandma Linda’s Special Day with Harper

Bob and I spent one-on-one time with our granddaughter Harper this past Saturday.  We like spending time with both of our granddaughters at the same time, but we also treasure the one-on-one times that we have with this as well.  We spent one-on-one time with Harper’s sister, Juniper, in late April.  This past Saturday was special time with Harper.

We picked up Harper at her house around 8:30 am.

We arrived at the Erie Zoo at 10:00 am. The line to get into the zoo was long — longer than I have even seen it.  It was Big Equipment Day at the zoo, but it wasn’t crowded like this last year!  We decided to come back later in the day.

Leaving the zoo, we drove to the Tom Ridge Environmental Center (TREC).  The highlight of our visit to the TREC was being on top of the observation tower.  We rode the elevator to the top of the 75-foot tall tower.


Harper on top of the observation tower
The bit of blue you see in the background is Lake Erie.

IMG_20170603_104621Harper and I on top of the observation tower
Lake Erie and Waldameer are visible from the top of the tower.
(photo by Bob)

Inside TREC, we quickly walked around the exhibits.  Harper pushed buttons on some of the exhibits and showed some interest in other exhibits.  We probably spent half an hour or less inside the TREC.

From TREC we visited Presque Isle State Park. We made two stops on our drive around Presque Isle: at North Pier Lighthouse and at Waterworks Playground.

Harper enjoyed walking with us on the pier to the North Pier Lighthouse.

The Waterworks Playground is located adjacent to the Rotary Pavilion and across from Beach 7 (Waterworks Beach).  Bob and I have passed by this playground many times.  I always thought it would be a good playground at which to take our granddaughters.  We didn’t take Juniper here during her one-on-one time with us because it was raining.  It is a very nice playground, but the climbing ropes were somewhat scary for Harper.  A bumble bee flying around didn’t help either!

Harper on one of several climbing ropes.

IMG_20170603_121130This is all the further Harper climbed.
She was frozen in place.  I helped her down.

From Presque Isle State Park, we drove to the local McDonald’s Restaurant and ate lunch.  After lunch, we returned to the zoo.

It was 1:30 pm, when we made it back to Erie Zoo. There was still a line at the entry gate, but the line was at least a quarter of what it was at 10:00 am.

We had a good time at the zoo seeing the animals, riding the Wildlife Carousel, and riding the train. I put together a slideshow that highlights our day at the zoo.

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Also a video of the zoo train as it departs, with Harper and me on board.  We are in one of the last cars; you should see Harper waving at Bob, who was recording the video.

Please click here, if you are not able to view the embedded video of the Erie Zoo train.

It was 4:15pm, when we left Erie Zoo. We stopped at Country Fair for cold drinks, before making our trek back home.

We returned Harper home at 5:45 pm. Juniper was excited to show me that she got her fingernails painted. While Bob and I had one-on-one time with Harper, Stacey had the same with Juniper. Stacey said that she and Juniper had a good day, except for the hour she spend arguing with Juniper over why she can’t go to the mall. Harper and I had “a moment” too. She was not going to sit with me in the zoo train; she was going to sit behind Grandpa, not me, on our way home.  Harper was mad at me because Grandma wouldn’t let her sit on top of the bronze statue’s head at the zoo. Through no effort on my part Harper did sit with me on the zoo train, and she sat behind me on the way back home.  Life with 5-year-olds….

It was a long, but fun, day.  I think our next family adventure will include both of our granddaughters.

Our Twin Granddaughters’ Fifth Birthday Celebration

Harper and Juniper’s 5th birthday was earlier this month. Yesterday, Stacey hosted a party to celebrate her daughters birthdays.

The girls’ birthday party was held at Betts Park, here in Warren PA, from 3:00 pm until 6:00 pm. Bob grilled hot dogs, which were accompanied by light refreshments. The party had two themes: Trolls and Beauty & the Beast. If I remember correctly, Juniper chose the Trolls theme and Harper chose the Beauty & the Beast Theme. Both girls, however, like Trolls and Beauty & the Beast. Stacey’s choice of pavilion was excellent, as it was close to a playground. All the children had a great time playing on the playground equipment, while waiting on the hot dogs to cook. Highlights of the birthday party included a pinata filled with toys, an appearance by Belle & her Prince, and the opening of presents. The party was well attended by all three sets of grandparents, as well as other family members, and Harper and Juniper’s friends.

I created this collage to provide you a glimpse into our granddaughters’ birthday party. Each photograph in the collage may be enlarged by clicking on them individually. Enjoy!

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Preschool Graduation

Our granddaughters graduated from preschool this afternoon.

Congratulations Harper and Juniper!
Job well done!

Harper and Juniper will enter Kindergarten in September, this year.  My oh my!  How time flies!

Family Visits

I visited a few members of my family this past Tuesday and Wednesday. Bob is acting boss this week at work and was unable to accompany me.

Although I enjoy visiting with my brother and sister-in-law and their entire family at once, I feel a lack of quality time with individual family units.  I was in search of quality family time, with available family members, during my solo mini vacation.

I departed home at 6:45 am on Tuesday, May 2, and arrived at my middle nephew’s home at approximately 10:20 am. It was a windy (the wind was gusty at times) and rainy (off and on) drive through Brookville, Punxsutawney, Youngstown and Indiana to Jared and Sara’s house.

I never knew that there was a Youngstown, PA even though it most likely was put on the map during President Trump’s campaign and subsequent election.  Driving through Youngstown, I passed by the Trump House.  I didn’t stop to take a picture. On hindsight I should have stopped!

I visited with Jared and Sara and their two daughters from 10:20 am until 2:00 pm.  During this time I talked with Jared and Sara, met my 8-day-old great niece Emma for the first time, and played with Kyla.  It was also the first time I had visited with Jared and Sara in their home.

Jared, Sara and I talked about a variety of things e.g. Kyla’s likes/dislikes, how my grandchildren and stepdaughter were doing…Emma’s birth…Bob and my vacation plans that include a week in the Outer Banks, which introduced a conversation regarding a cruise vs. a beach vacation..that we will see each other again in July at Jim and Judy’s camp…Jim’s construction work on the camp…Stacey’s vacation in Hawaii/scuba diving. There was very little lack of conversation during the entire visit.

I held Emma for at least 2 hours.  She slept the entire time that she was in my arms.  When Emma pooped, I handed her over to Jared. He changed Emma’s diaper and then fed her.

_XZ209058-day-old Emma

Sometime after my arrival and when Emma awakened from her nap, Kyla fell asleep.  When Kyla awakened from her short nap and Emma had been fed, I took a few more pictures.

_XZ20911Jared, Sara, Kyla and Emma

_XZ20910My two youngest great nieces
Kyla will be 2 years old in a few days.

Kyla has a ride-on bug.  I played with Kyla on the floor. She rode the bug, and we chased each other (with me on my hands and knees) around the room.

XZ020924Kyla and I

Too soon, it was time for me to leave.

From Jared and Sara’s house, I drove to Kittanning PA.  The drive to Kittanning was somewhat eventful. A tree branch was snapped from a tree and flew through the air like an arrow toward my moving car! The branch flew over my car, landing on the other side. Thankfully, the branch did not hit my car! It was good, too, that there were no other vehicles around me at the time. A little farther on my drive, Route 66 was closed due to an accident. I am thankful that the GPS rerouted me! I was about 25 miles from Kittanning at the time.

I checked into Quality Inn Royle in West Kittanning at approximately 3:30 PM. I cashed in a free night (10,000 points) for my night’s lodging. I relaxed in my hotel room until 5:15 pm. I met my brother and sister-in-law at Kings Family Restaurant around 5:45 pm. We had a wonderful visit, just the three of us, while we ate dinner.

XZ020925Jim and Judy at Kings Family Restaurant

I returned to the hotel around 7:45 pm. I video chatted with Bob for a short time, wrote in my journal, and went to bed soon afterward.

I awakened the next morning at 6:00 am, after a good night’s sleep.

My hotel room accommodation included a complimentary hot breakfast. I ate breakfast around 7:00 am.  I relaxed in my room until it was time to leave to go to my oldest nephew’s house.

I arrived at Michael and Kailey’s house around 9:00 am. I visited with Kailey and my youngest great nephew for the next almost 3 hours.  As was the case with Jared and Sara, it was also the first time I saw where Michael and Kailey lived.

Oliver was taking a nap on the couch, when I first arrived.

Oliver taking a nap

Oliver awakened within 30 minutes of my arrival.

_XZ30935-EditOliver and I

_XZ30941Kailey and Oliver
Oliver will be 1 year old in July.

_XZ30942Oliver is such a happy baby!

During my visit I played with Oliver, and Kailey and I chatted. We talked about shows we watch on TV. I think I interested Kailey in “Longmire” and “The Man in the High Castle”. We talked about upcoming vacations.Michael, Kailey and family will be vacationing at a campground in Maryland in July. We talked about a few opportunities for us to get together again…my granddaughters’ birthday party later this month…Oliver’s 1-year birthday party in July…CelebrateErie in August.

I was not able to spend time with Michael, Kaleb and Anna this visit.   Mike was at work, and the two older children were at school.  My brother and sister-in-law have one more child, a daughter, who lives at least 1,000 miles away with her husband and daughter.  Emily wrote that anytime I want to make a road / plane trip to her house, I have a place to stay!  I responded that I may take her up on that offer of a place to stay one day.

I left Kailey and Oliver around 11:45 am and began my drive home. I hadn’t made it too far, when I saw an accident…not along my route. The accident was near the intersection of Route 66 to New Bethlehem and Route 422 toward Indiana, on Route 422. I saw a small red truck on its roof. I was going towards the left lane to get on Route 28/66 toward New Bethlehem. I got only a quick glimpse…traffic was beginning to back up and there were several flashing lights and then the vehicle sitting on its roof. Later I learned that there were no injuries, only damage to the truck.

I returned home shortly before 3:30 pm, after making several stops along the way.  I stopped for lunch at Burger King in New Bethlehem.  I made a bathroom stop at Kwik Fill in Marienville.  I stopped in downtown Warren, picked up my stepdaughter Stacey, and drove her to the dentist.

What a wonderful couple days I had!  I found the quality family time that I was in search of.  I hope that each family member whom I was able to visit with felt the same way.



Grampa Bob and Gramma Linda’s Special Day with Juniper

We picked up Juniper, our almost 5-year-old granddaughter, at “Big Grandma” Chris’s house shortly before 9:00 am on Saturday, April 29, and left en route Erie.

In Erie we spent the day visiting the Erie Zoo, visiting the Tom Ridge Environmental Center, driving around Presque Isle and eating a late lunch at McDonalds.

We arrived at the Erie Zoo around 10:20 am. We lucked out by securing a parking space right in front of the main entrance to the zoo. I suspect our luck had more to do with Saturday’s weather (chilly and rainy) than our early arrival. After showing our membership card and ID at the gate, we were admitted into the zoo. We saw all the animals without getting too wet. We only got a quick glimpse of baby Otis (new orangutan) before mama orangutan covered herself and baby with newspaper and a sheet. A highlight of our Zoo visit was seeing a kangaroo and a baby wallaby and its mama on the walking path, rather than far from us behind the wood rail fence.  Juniper rode both the Wildlife Carousel and the train. Bob rode the carousel with Juniper, and I rode the train with her.  I put together this slide show to highlight our day at the zoo.

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Before leaving the zoo, we purchased two bags of cotton candy, one for Juniper and the other for Harper. We spent approximately 1-1/2 hours at the zoo. We might have been there for a longer time if the playground was still there. The playground was removed recently. A new playground will be installed by late May.

From the zoo we drove to the Tom Ridge Environmental Center (TREC). The TREC, which opened its doors in May/June 2006, is the gateway to Presque Isle State Park. Its entrance is across from Waldameer Park.  Bob and I hadn’t been there in a while, and it was Juniper’s first visit. There are more child-related activities there than we remembered. Juniper enjoyed her visit.

As we entered the lobby of the main entrance the first things to catch Juniper’s eyes were three floor-to-ceiling towers.  Each tower was filled with carved wooden scenes about Presque Isle.  Each scene had movable parts!

Three Towers of Carved Wooden Scenes About Presque Isle

Erie200702_009One of the many carved wooden scenes

The next thing that caught Juniper’s eye was a HUGE fish.

XZ290886Memories and Monsters Exhibit

The “Memories and Monsters” exhibit has the visitor walking through the middle of a HUGE fish into a small theater area.  This exhibit takes you back in time to the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s when things were very different on Presque Isle.

Near the big fish was a hands-on room, especially designed for preschoolers.

_XZ90895Hands-On Activity Room

Do you wonder what everyone is looking at through the windows?

XZ290889There is a bird feeding station outside the windows.
The bird feeding station was visited by a turkey the day we were there.

Before leaving TREC, we stopped at the gift shop. Juniper picked out two streamer toys, one for her and one for Harper. I found a picture of the same or similar toy for sale on Amazon.

When we left TREC, we drove around Presque Isle.

It was after 1:30 pm by the time we completed our drive around Presque Isle. We stopped at McDonalds, located near Presque Isle, for a late lunch.

As we were leaving McDonalds, I telephoned “Big Grandma” Chris to let her know that we were running behind. We were supposed to pick up Harper at Chris’s house and take both girls to “Little Grandma” Sue’s house, where they would be spending the night. The plan was to pick up Harper and arrive at Sue’s house between 3:00 and 4:00 pm. As we were running behind, that wasn’t going to happen. Chris ended up taking Harper to Sue’s house, and we dropped off Juniper there shortly before 5:00 pm.

What a wonderful day we had with Juniper!  We are looking forward to a similar experience with Harper in a few weeks.


Welcome Baby Emma!

Emma Elizabeth
(photograph by Jared, my nephew and Emma’s father)

Bob and I have a new great niece. Jared and Sara’s daughter, Emma Elizabeth, was born at 5:50 pm on April 24th. She weighed 7lbs. 12oz. and was 19 inches long.  Emma has a big sister, Kyla, who will soon be 2 years old.

Welcome to the family baby Emma!

Sunday Outing with our Granddaughters

On Sunday we spent the afternoon with our granddaughters, taking them on an outing to Allegany State Park near Salamanca, NY.

We picked up the girls at their house between noon and 12:30 pm and drove to Allegany State Park, entering the park via the Red House Area. Our first stop was at the new Red House Area nature boardwalk.

I first learned about the boardwalk via a YouTube video, captured by Paul Crawford, a few months before the boardwalk was completed. Paul Crawford is the volunteer Administrator, Photographer and Videographer for the Allegany State Park Facebook page.

What a wonderful new feature of Allegany State Park!

_XZ90533Red House Nature Boardwalk

Harper and Juniper took our photograph, once we reached the overlook at the end of the boardwalk.

XZ190538Juniper took this photograph of Bob, Harper and me.
Good job, Juniper!

XZ190540Harper took this photograph of Bob, Juniper and me.
Good job, Harper!

In Paul’s video he mentioned a duck blind at the end of the middle section of the boardwalk.

_XZ90531Duck Blind

The boardwalk was nice but will be nicer later in the year, when the plants surrounding the boardwalk spring to life. I am sure there will be lots of waterfowl to see later too. We didn’t see any birds, turtles or waterfowl.

When we left the nature boardwalk, we planned to go to the Quaker Run swimming beach playground. We were very disappointed to find the road to the beach closed. I had talked up the playground to Harper and Juniper, and they were looking forward to playing there.  I hope that the road to the swimming beach opens up much earlier than summer so that we have the opportunity to visit the playground sooner, rather than later!

The girls quickly got over their disappointment, though, when we found another playground on the way home.

Our day outing with Harper and Juniper was wonderful.  All four of us had a GREAT time!



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