The Beauty Around Us

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog

Posts from the ‘Family’ category

Nature Play Area

I have had this blog post in mind for almost two weeks, ever since my granddaughters and I visited our local Audubon Center.  I wanted to share a few photographs of my granddaughters, as it has been a while since I did so in this blog.  Also, I wanted to showcase the Nature Play Area at the Audubon Center.

According to its website the Audubon Community Nature Center “is a 600-acre wetland preserve that includes over five miles of trails, a native tree arboretum, picnic areas, a natural play space, and educational gardens for you to explore daily from dawn until dusk. … The Nature Center itself is home to the Blue Heron Gift Shop and three floors of interactive exhibits, including live animals, which inform and engage visitors of all ages. …  You can visit Liberty, a non-releasable Bald Eagle, in her enclosure near the [Nature Center] building.”

The Audubon Center is located approximately 12 miles from our house at 1600 Riverside Road in Jamestown, NY.  We walk the trails and visit Liberty frequently.  We have visited the Nature Center building, as well, but just a few times.  This blog post, though, is about the nature play area only.

The nature play area is located near the Nature Center building.

In Mar 2016 the nature play area had a tunnel made out of a tree and stepping “stones” made out of trees.

Mar 2016
Our granddaughters climbed through and on the tree tunnel.

Mar 2016
Bob and our granddaughters check out the stepping “stones” made out of trees.

I can’t recall if there was anything else to play on in the nature play area during our visit in March 2016.

During our visit to the Audubon Center on October 7th the girls found three new additions to the nature play area.

The girls had fun pretending they were stuck in this shelter.

The girls are sitting on Tank, a 12-foot and 1,500 pound concrete turtle.

Last fall, Tank the Turtle was created and donated to the Audubon Nature Center by Mike Whitmire of Whitmire Block and Outdoor Living, Starbrick, PA.

Spotted Salamander

The most recent addition to the Nature Play Area is this spotted salamander, which was also created and donated to the Audubon Center by Mike Whitmire of Whitmire Block and Outdoor Living.  The spotted salamander measures roughly 14 feet from its nose to the tip of its tail.  The spotted salamander had not yet been named.



Christmas 2018

We celebrated Christmas three times.

Christmas celebration #1 was held on Sunday at my brother and sister-in-law’s home.  We left our home in Warren PA at 10:30 am en route Jim and Judy’s house. Jim and Judy live about an hour’s drive north of Pittsburgh. We arrived at Jim and Judy’s house at 1:00 pm.  We thought we were the last to arrive.  But that was not the case.  While we were filling our plates, Judy’s brother Donald and his wife Gina arrived.  Others who came to Christmas dinner, in addition to Jim and Judy, Donald and Gina and Bob and I, were our nephew Michael, his wife Kailey and their three children; our nephew Jared, his wife Sara and their two children; Sara’s parents; and Judy’s mother.  Our niece Emily and her husband Dan and their daughter, who live in Minnesota, were not able to join us this year.  Christmas dinner included turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, noodles, sweet potatoes, pickled eggs, and corn.  Dessert included pumpkin pie, chocolate dream pie, cookies and a gingerbread cake.  We departed Jim and Judy’s house at 3:30 pm, as gifts were being opened.  Bob and I did not participate in the gift exchange; however, Judy made sure I didn’t leave empty handed. 

Judy made this wooden sign for me. Great job, Judy, and THANK YOU!

We returned home at 6:00 pm.  It was good to see my brother and his family and the others.  We had a very good visit with everyone.

Christmas celebration #2 was held on Monday at Stacey’s house.  We left home at 1:30 pm and arrived at Stacey’s house about 15 minutes later.  Chris (Stacey’s mother) and Jay arrived a short time later.  Our dinner included roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing and, for dessert, apple pie, ambrosia, and brownies.  Harper and Juniper received a surprise visit from Santa Claus.

Santa Claus is showing our granddaughters that their names are on his nice list.

Santa Claus brought the girls early Christmas presents.

Harper and Juniper with Santa Claus

Stacey, Chris, Jay and I knew Santa Claus would be stopping by.  Nevertheless Santa Claus took Stacey and me by surprise.  We expected Santa to come to the front door.  Instead he came to the back door.  We heard bells and “ho-ho-ho” a short while before he made an appearance.  At first we didn’t know what we were hearing.  To me the noise sounded like it was coming from a radio.  Stacey and I got up from the table (we were finishing up dinner) and walked into the kitchen.  We were looking out the kitchen window, when Santa’s face appeared.  He startled us!

After dinner we opened gifts.  Everyone was happy with their gifts.

I took a few pictures, after we opened our gifts.

“Big Grandma” Chris and her granddaughters

“Big Grandma” Chris, Grandma Linda, and our granddaughters

Stacey and her daughters

While we were at Stacey’s house, it snowed. 

Snow fell on Christmas Eve!

It stayed cold through Christmas Day, so we had a white Christmas.

Christmas celebration #3 was at our home on Christmas Day, with only Bob and I in attendance.  Bob and I opened our Christmas gifts to each other in the morning.  We are happy with our respective gifts.  I prepared Christmas dinner, which we ate around 2:00 pm.  Christmas dinner included baked ham, baked potato, whole berry cranberry sauce, cauliflower and broccoli medley and, for dessert, pumpkin pie.  The ham was a spiral ham.  We have lots of ham leftovers!

’Twas a very merry Christmas for Bob and me. We spent the Christmas holiday with the people who mean the most to us.  We are so blessed!





Black Friday

We spent several hours with our granddaughters Harper and June on Friday, November 23.

We picked up the girls at their house around 10:30 am. 

We drove to Friendly’s Restaurant in Jamestown NY, where we had an enjoyable lunch. 

Friendly’s Restaurant provides kid’s activity placemats to entertain children, while waiting for food.


Our granddaughters, Bob and I at Friendly’s Restaurant

The girls ordered their usual meal–hot dogs and macaroni and cheese with an ice cream sundae.  Both girls chose Rudy the Reindeer sundaes. 

Rudy the Reindeer Sundae (photo obtained from Friendly’s Restaurant website)

Bob had a fish dinner; I had a BBQ chicken sandwich with fries.  Both of our meals included a small sundae.  Harper didn’t eat her macaroni and cheese, but she ate most of my fries.  Juniper didn’t eat any of her hot dogs.  I asked for a box, and we took home the macaroni and cheese and hot dogs for the girls to share later.  By the way, when we returned home and I had a good look at our restaurant bill, I noticed that Bob and my entrees were reduced by 50%.  Happy Black Friday to us!

After lunch we drove to our house, where the girls played for several hours with toys and on their tablets.  We also watched TV.   I had to chuckle, when June asked me what was in the gray plastic tote.  The tote is the girls’ toy box.  For a while now I have brought out only a few select items for the girls to play with, when they visit.  On this visit, though, I brought out all their toys.  June asked if she could open the tote, when I told her their toys were inside.  I said sure.  When she opened the tote and saw the toys, June’s eyes got big and she said “Wow!”.  There was not one new toy in that tote!

The girls talked with Judy (my brother’s wife), too, via Facebook video chat.  That was a fun call for the girls, as they put on silly faces and hats and played some quick games with Aunt Judy.  

When I finished putting away the girls’ toys, after their Friday visit, I was missing one toy–the baby doll that Harper had been playing with.  I found Harper’s baby on Wednesday morning.

Lost baby found

I found Harper’s baby in one of my kitchen drawers.






The word dexterity comes to mind, when I think back on the time I spent with our granddaughters this past Wednesday (August 5th).

Stacey and the girls arrived here around 1:00 pm. I fed them lunch – sliced turkey, cheese, applesauce and goldfish crackers. After lunch, we went to the playground…to a new-to-us playground. Actually we went to two new-to-us playgrounds.

It amazes me each week that we go to a playground the improvement I see in each girl’s dexterity. I never had the opportunity to watch children grow, as I never had the pleasure of having children of my own (Stacey is my stepdaughter).  I didn’t live near enough to my niece or nephews to afford me the opportunity to watch them grow either.  I am very happy to be given this opportunity I have now with my granddaughters to watch them grow.

Our first playground destination was at Island Park in Youngsville. For the first time Harper and June swung in a regular swing, not in a baby swing.  The playground had swings low to the ground that were rounded, not flat across.  Another first …  I saw Harper and June use their hands and legs to go up and down a spiral climber. Their arms are still too short to reach the climber, so I have to carry them from the playground platform to the climber, when they want to climb down from there.  In addition to swinging, sliding and climbing the girls had fun playing in the Brokenstraw Creek.

We stopped for a short time at the Hilltop Park playground, also located in Youngsville, on our way back home. The highlight of that playground was a slightly swinging balance beam that the girls enjoyed walking across. After a couple tries, holding onto my hand, June was able to walk across the beam without holding on to anything. Harper gained confidence to walk across the beam without holding my hand.  However, she held onto the bars on either side of the beam, as she walked across it. If we return to this playground (or find another playground with a balance beam), I am certain that Harper will walk across it without having to hold onto anything like her sister.

The girls had lots of fun at both playgrounds.  Here are three photographs and a short video from our afternoon playground fun.

Harper enjoyed swinging on her stomach.

This video shows Harper swinging and going up and down the spiral climber at the Island Park playground.  The video also shows June swinging at the Hilltop Park playground.

Do you see Harper’s pride at being able to go up and down the spiral climber?

At the Island Park, there is a pavilion with a deck
that overlooks the Brokenstraw Creek.

We walked underneath the deck to the creek below.

Harper and June had a good time playing in the creek.

Stacey and I both preferred the Island Park playground. The playground equipment at Island Park was close together. At the Hilltop Park playground the equipment was spread out. The Hilltop Park playground was better suited also to kindergarten and elementary school age children. The Island Park playground was geared for younger children.

New Pink Tricycles

A few days ago I wrote about a UPS delivery.  Two pink tricycles were delivered to our door.  We opted to purchase identical tricycles to minimize the fighting of who rides which tricycle (it worked!).

Our granddaughters rode their tricycles for the first time today.

Harper and June rode their tricycles to the end of our street.  We were practicing for when they will ride the tricycles to the playground.

The girls are riding back towards our house.

The girls need to build their leg muscles.  It is a lot longer ride to the playground than it is to the end of our street.

Harper and June like their new pink Radio Flyer tricycles!

When the girls returned to our back yard from their short ride, they parked their tricycles and said they were “taking a break”.

Day at Camp

Yesterday Bob and I took our granddaughters to my brother and sister-in-law’s camp, located near St. Mary’s, PA. We picked up the girls at their house at 9:00 am. It warmed my heart, when I saw Harper and June sitting on their porch step waiting for us. Stacey said the girls were very excited to go with us to camp.

We arrived at camp around 10:30 am. The drive to camp was uneventful. The girls stayed awake for the entire 1 ½ hour drive and did well entertaining themselves with the books and small toys that were available in a basket between their seats.

Harper and June’s activities at camp included swinging on a tire and on a swing; playing hide ‘n seek and story time with Kaitlyn.  A guy, who has a camp two camps up from Jim and Judy’s camp, had captured recently three rattlesnakes nearby.  I am glad we didn’t come across any rattlesnakes, while at camp! While playing hide ‘n seek, an older girl was with Harper and June at all times just in case they came upon a snake!  Another fun activity was making Styrofoam snowmen.


Making Styrofoam snowmen

It was Christmas in July at camp this year.  Dinner, which we didn’t stay for, was going to be turkey and all the trimmings.

A small part of the hill across from camp was decorated for Christmas. My sister-in-law gave Harper and June a reindeer and snowman to take home, when we left camp at the end of our visit.

Oh, and I have to share a dialogue that my great niece, Anna (seen in this photograph helping Harper tie her shoes), and I had.  When Harper and June changed into their swimsuits, Judy gave each of them one of Anna’s shirts to put on as a coverup.  Anna was not around at the time.  Anna noticed Harper’s shirt later in the day.  Here’s how the conversation went between Anna and me.

Anna:  I have a shirt similar to the shirt that Harper is wearing.

Me:  Oh?  How is your shirt different?

Anna (after a short pause):  It doesn’t have a heart on it.

Me:  Do you have a shirt similar to the one that June is wearing?

Anna:  No; I don’t have a purple shirt.

We brought Harper and June’s 3 wheelers with us.  Jim and Judy had a couple 3 wheelers and a ride-on jeep at the camp.

Harper and June and these two boys had a fun time riding round and round.

We didn’t stay for dinner, but we did eat lunch at camp.

This was the children’s table.

Lunch included hot dogs, sausage, butterfly steaks, Buffalo Chicken Dip with chips, raw vegetables, and fruit.

After lunch (and changing into swimwear), we walked down to the creek.

The kids dropped their Styrofoam snowmen into the creek.

Whose snowman would reach the finish line first?

June’s snowman made it to the finish line first!

This was the second year that Bob and I have taken Harper and June to camp.  The girls were much more brave in the water this year than they were last year.

Harper and June braved the cold water and sat down in the creek!


Thank you, Amber, for helping me to keep an eye on the girls in the creek!

Another highlight from a day at camp was when Harper and June met a friendly giant.

Harper and June were enamored with Troy.  I think the feeling was mutual.

We left camp around 4:00 pm and dropped off Harper and June at home around 5:30 pm.  The day at camp wore out Harper and June.  The girls slept all the way home!

UPS Delivery

UPS stopped at our house late this morning.  The box that they left on our front porch was too bulky and heavy for me to take inside.


20150710_155245952_iOSI unpacked the box outside on our porch.

I shared this photograph on Facebook shortly before 1:00 pm.  As of 3:40 pm today, I had received two comments suggesting what might be in the unopened boxes.  Tim wrote “New long distance lens?“.  Richard asked “60#s of newspaper wrapping?”.  I will end the suspense.

Photo obtained from babyology

We purchased two pink Radio Flyer tricycles for our granddaughters to use, while at our house.  Aren’t they going to be surprised!

The Frog and PenguINN

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog

Bicycling the beauty around us

This is a bicycling journal.

Forester (Farster) Ancestry

The Ancestry of My Grandpap Roy Wilson "Pete" Forester (1915-1989)

The World according to Dina

Notes on Seeing, Reading & Writing, Living & Loving in The North

Skid and Sandy On The Road

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog


Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog

Brown About

The Motorhome Adventures of Joan and Stephen

My Mommy's Place

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog

Viewing nature with Eileen

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog

Deep Thoughts

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog

Rambling On

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog

Talk and Chatter

Reviews, talk, and fun

Senior Moments

The random musings of a fairly active Tennessee retiree

Pics & Pieces

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog



Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog


Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog

Linda's Peaceful Place

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog

Life's Funny Like That

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog


Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog

I'll give you a piece of my mind

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog

Hospitality Lane

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog

Gretchen's Traveling

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog

An English Girl Rambles from 2016 to ....

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog