Sunday, March 30, 2008

Magical Day at Grandma's Place

It was Sunday at Grandma's Place again today. We met cousins in the parking lot at the nursing home, and surprised her for lunch.

The nursing home that my Grandma stays in right now is a pretty darned nice one. It's in the middle of a field, with small ponds surrounding it. It is owned by fat little duck couple that circles it on an hourly basis. They're like bowling balls with wings and bills. We were lucky to be greeted by them this morning:

I threw my shoe into the photo to show you how friendly they are. Seriously, when I stooped down to get a closer photo, they were so eager that I couldn't get far enough away from them to get a focused shot:

There's a resident dog that helps deliver meds, and you're welcome to bring your own dog in, leashed, any day you want. There are tons of dogs visiting on any Sunday. It makes ME so happy, I can't imagine how it lifts the spirits of the residents.

There's a small aviary. These cute cuddlers could cheer anyone up.

Grandma's nursing home has Wii! I've never even played Wii yet! I imagine these folks would kick my bee-you-tex! They also have electronic bingo--can't make it down the hall? Play from your room!

On the days we visit beloved Gma, we give her a break from cafeteria food! My cousin Gina and I run to carry out food from one of Grandma's favs:

A steak hoagie is one of her usuals, but she opted for a cheeseburger and fries today. I get a chef salad, because they make their own bleu cheese dressing, and it is LOADED with garlic. Yum-O!

After lunch, a couple of decks of cards were brought out, and Crazy-8s was the game of the day. I was apprehensive at first; Mom doesn't remember numbers so well. And card suits? Oy! Is this a good idea?!!

I was overlooking something, in my apprehension:

Her Mother was there.

My sharp-witted grandmother gently led my mother through 2 hours of Crazy Eights.

Her daughter.

Her little girl. "Hearts, you need, or a seven. Draw. Again. Again. There you go. Put that one down. No, on this pile."

And I relax as I realize: My Grandmother gets it. She knows my mother, and her condition, she patiently and lovingly helped her pick the card she was to play. She sometimes pulled the card from her hand, but always handed it back to her, saying "play this one."

At one point, when I changed the suit to Spades, she had my mother throw down her last Diamond, and cheered to my mother, "You won!" We wisely, laughingly, followed her lead: Mom won! Yayyyy!

After wearing ourselves out with cards, we retired to Grandma's room, and listened to Mom's cousin Mary tell a story about herself and Mom:

When they were younger, Mom decided that she'd like a hot-oil treament on her hair. Melting vaseline was how THAT was done. Mary balked "won't that solidify, after it cools?" Mom assured her it would not, so they forged ahead with Mom's hot-oil treatment.

The vaseline, of course, did solidify. There was no washing the stuff out; they even tried Ajax. Mom just had to let the stuff wear out of her hair, and we laughed as we contemplated the state of her pillowcase.

Crazy; those girls were just crazy.

Little did we have room to talk. Cousin Gina and I (Mary's daughter) ran out to lunch today, and commented on the dog atop this crane

See it? Right there, on top of that orange crane construction thing? On the left! See it?!

"Is that a dog? On top of that crane thing?!" she said?

"My god!" I agreed. "Yes, it is a dog. Or a wolf, or something. What IS it? What is that crazy dog doing, on top of that of that thing?"

On and on we're squealing about that dog...

Click to embiggen.

It's not a dog at all. It's just pipes. Or something. And I don't even know if that's a crane, honestly. Shut up. How should I know?

...and maybe these apples don't fall too far from their trees, yes?

At any rate, it was a lovely day. I'll close now, with a photo of this sign I spotted on the way out of town:

That's Kankakee, Illinois, folks. Reserve your tickets now.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Losing It

I happened to be in the same room when a show called "Big Brother" was on tonight. You may have heard of it. I sat down to watch some chick named Chelsia completely lose it, and begin smashing up a bowl of Easter eggs. I wasn't clear if they were her eggs, or the reality-show roommate's eggs. I wasn't actually clear on much of anything except that she was squeezing cracked, boiled eggs through her fingers, while ranting and making crazy-eyes. I found a video of it here, but it's windy, and she's whiny, so I'd skip it, if I were you.

Meanwhile, her little scene reminded me of a coworker losing her cool some years ago. SICK, she was, of other employees leaving their dishes stacked in the company sink, so that she couldn't even wash out her freakin' coffee cup.

Can you say "hormonal"?

"YOU WANT DIRTY DISHES?" she yelled, to no one, as she opened up the company fridge..."YOU GOT 'EM." Out came the mustard. She decorated the dishes with mustard, and then found some bacon bits. She ran the water, floated the bacon bits, and went back to the fridge for more. Every available condiment was emptied on some poor soul's dishes, while I sat watching like a deer in the headlights. "Run," I told myself, "you're officially an accomplice! You know too much!"

I haven't spoken of it until today. It's been my dirty little secret. Whewwwww, so good to get that off my chest, after 9 years...

Have you ever witnessed someone losing it?

Scoop! I want the scoop! Give it, and a weight will be lifted off your chest. That's right, give me the gossip, and you'll feel soooo much better. Give it. Just tell me. Just... tell...ME. JUST TELL THE STUPID STORY ABOUT SOMEONE LOSING IT; JESUS, WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL, JUST SPILL IT! LEAVE A FREAKIN COMMENT! GET OVER YOURSELF! WHAT'S YOUR PROBLEM ANYWA....

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Misc. Chinatown Snapshots

There's never a lack of photos to be found in Chinatown, even though there's not that much area to cover. Here are a few sights I found interesting on Saturday.

Doorbell Chaos:

"Hi, is Bob there? I'm sorry, I'm looking for Bob. Bob? Oh, excuse me, do you know which doorbell is Bob's? I'm sorry to bother you, but..."


We don't need no steenking kiosk!

Bins full of stuff that cost $1085.oo/lb.

Fish market. We watched a man use a net to pull out a big fat fish for one customer. Just as I was saying to Clint, "does he kill that right h...", an arm holding a huge rubber mallet flew up, and WHAM-O! Even though the prospect of fish that fresh sounded good to me, I felt a green & shakey for about 20 minutes after. Bleah.

On to the butcher case. This guy kind of growled at me. Not much of a language barrier there; though I don't understand a word of Chinese, I'm pretty sure he said "put that camera away, white girl, or I'll grind you up with sage and sell you for $4.59/lb." I did as I thought I was told.

This sign was on the wall in the ladies room of the public library. Is "menstrous" even a word? I had to look it up; it is a word. However, I think to be used properly here, it should be "menstrouses." And there was no box there anyway.

Little tip for those of you that haven't visited Chicago's Chinatown: There are no public restrooms. Ask for one, and every shopkeeper will send you to the library. I suppose you could slip into a restaurant in an emergency, but I always feel obligated to stop and order at least something to drink, which in turn sends me hoofing it back to the library.

Last but not least, this sign brought out the Beavis and Butthead in both Clint and me.

Heh, heh. Heh heh heh.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Lemons to Lemonade: World Fruit Market

Many thanks to everyone for the comments, e-mails and well wishes for my sister, over the weekend. There's a link on my sidebar to the website, I'm going to move on for now, if that's ok. I promise to keep you posted.

Clint and I got out of dodge this weekend: a road trip to Chicago. We ran the ethnic neighborhoods on Saturday, doing a little photography, eating a lot of food, and, after parking the car and cabbing it, warming ourselves in this or that Irish pub.

Sunday plan was to stroll down Michigan Avenue, do a little shopping. Unfortunately, I'd guessed WRONG when I guessed that everything would still be open on Easter Sunday. Everything was not open. Everything, except for restaurants and grocers, was closed.

When life give you lemons, you know what to do: Get some lunch then head to the World Fruit Market on Devon Street, Chicago's Indian neighborhood...where you can buy more lemons.

This photo from The rest are my own.

I've touched on it here before, and I have to say it again: I love this neighborhood produce place. It's...well, neighborhood-y. And bright. And fresh. Fresh fruits, fresh cheese. There's a butcher case full of stuff I would never buy, like fresh heads. Not human heads; Lamb heads. Or maybe they're goat heads, I'm not sure. And fresh hooves. There are also more identifiable meats that make you wish you'd brought more of a cooler along: fajita mix, and roasts, ohhh, yummmm.

We skipped the meat purchases, but stocked up on inexpensive fruits and vegetables, and I freshened up my spice rack. The spices are crazy-inexpensive.

Most of these cost $1.99 a bag. A jar in our local grocer with 1/4 of the content costs almost twice as much. I bought crushed pepper, cumin, coriander, black pepper, javentri, cinnamon, coriander, whole dried chili's, and bay leaves.

We got produce also. Peaches were 74 cents/lb. I brought back a couple of Israeli-grown persimmons for my boss. Lemons, limes, cumin leaves, cilantro, and the freshest, juiciest ginger you'll find anywhere was also on my list. In the front of this photo is fresh, green garbonzo beans.

I've only seen garbonzo beans (chickpeas) either dried or canned. I had no idea they even started out green! I stood in the aisle fretting to Clint that I wanted to buy some, but didn't know what to do with them. A very nice Indian lady stepped over to tell me what to do: Toast them. Her daughter helped her where her English faltered; the were so sweet! Toast them whole, then pop them open, discard the shells and eat the bean inside as a snack. No oil? No spices? I asked them? No! Nothing, just toast them!

Well, alright! My boss, Yoram, has since informed me that this is best done over an open fire. Maybe I should have Clint take them to work with him...

Tonight's project...

The spices and produce came to a total of $33. That many spices along would have cost me upwards of $80 in a local grocery store.

So my agenda for the next couple of evenings is filled: Indian cooking. I'll slice the limes into some club soda, and get busy on a roaster full of biryani, and a big pot of cilantro chicken. All will be wrapped in my trusty food saver, and frozen, and we'll be set for Indian food for weeks to come.

Sometimes, it's kind of nice when things don't go your way, yes?

World Fruit Market
2423 Devon Street
Chicago, IL

Friday, March 21, 2008

For my sister: Teri Pittman Benefit

Sigh. I guess I have to tell you sometime. It's difficult. I've been putting it off, until I can talk about it, and until we know more, and's just time to tell it:

After finishing up her chemotherapy, my sister's CAT scan revealed several new tumors. They have declared them "inoperable" and given her the choice to continue with chemotherapy, if she wishes. She will see the specialist in St. Louis next week, in hopes that they have a miracle, or at least, a better solution, up their sleeves. She IS, by the way, opting to continue with chemotherapy.

In the meantime, her illness has been financially devastating. One expense alone, a wound pump she had to wear after her surgery, cost her $784 every 2 weeks, after insurance. She wore it for 3 months.

So, close friends are throwing a benefit, to raise a few bucks for Teri and her family, to ease the financial load, and help them get back on their feet.

It will be at Radmakers, in Tolono, IL on April 20; there will be food, music, an auction, a 50/50, and more.

There's a website: The Teri Pittman Benefit, with buttons to allow you to leave her a message, or donate a buck to the cause, or an item for the auction. As of this writing, it was still in the works, but should be running fully, in another day or two.

Please, help spread the word, and c'mon out on the 2oth to support the family.

If you can't make it, prayers are good too. I'll keep you posted!

Thank you.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Canned, 1984

Rewind 24 years: I was 21 years old. I'd just quit my job to go back to school, and suddenly found myself separated from my husband. Moving back, temporarily, into my old bedroom in my parent's house...I needed a job.

I landed one at a KwikCopy on Campus, but for some reason, with trepidation on the manager's part. I hadn't worked with the public much, she told me, "and we don't think you're going to work out."

Hey, how much experience could I have had by then? I'd waited on the public for 3 years, and then worked in a printing factory for 2 more after that; I had absolutely no doubts that I would wow them. It wasn't rocket science, for heaven's sake; it was a copy machine and binding tool.

I arrived to work early, on the first day, as one does on their first day of work yes? The girl in charge showed me where to stand.

And without another word, she opened the doors for business. She then exasperatedly snapped at me to get people's orders! ring them up! answer the phone! transfer calls to other satellite stores! This, of course, with no tour of the cash register, and no explanation of which line which went to which satellite store. Furious, she was furious! Eeeeeeeeeee!!!

The straw that broke the camel's back was when I was ordered to take a passport photo. In the corner stood a large black camera with an actual drape over it, that I was to step into to take the photo. Having no direction here either, she was again furious that I didn't know how to run the camera, barking orders at me from across the room and flying into a rage when I finally pulled about 4 feet of film right out of the camera, exposing all of it, ending up with a huge mess and a frustrated customer in a hurry to get on her way. Talk about a Lucille Ball episode!

At noon, she said "I was told you'd never work out, and they were right!"

I was fired. 4 hours after I was hired.

I was, at the time, young and shy, and in light of the state of my marriage, too insecure about my ability to do anything right. Stunned, stressed, demoralized, I hit the sunny sidewalk and wept all the way back to my car, and all the way home, where, to top it off, I had to tell my dad I was canned.

That which doesn't kill us, eh? I'm a *lot* older now, and a *little bit* wiser, and know that hell would freeze over before I bothered to shed a tear over the two dingbats that set me up on that dreadful day. I laugh now, and shake my head.

So tell me: Have you ever been fired? Give us the dirt!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy Birthday Grandma

My grandmother is 89 today. She's 90 minutes away from us, but has flowers on the way, if they're not there already.

We visited her last Sunday, and had a blast.

She fell extremely ill last November, and returned to a nursing home for medical care. She was not in good shape, and we walked around in a sickened daze for a few weeks as we were "put on standby." She rallied, though, and was coherent and getting stronger in December.

Last December

She was stronger yet, when we saw her on Sunday. I'm not sure if you can tell the difference, comparing this photo to December's, but she's filled out considerably, having a new, heartier appetite. She's in therapeutic rehab. She's still in a wheelchair, but uses a walker for exercise. She was proud of herself for doing 2 laps around the nursing home last time she'd been up.

Last weekend.

She kept us in stitches on Sunday, telling us that although she can't get around in her wheelchair, her elderly roommate is able to pull herself along using her feet, in a kind of sitting-walking motion. Her roommate, then, will get behind Grandma's wheelchair, and scoot both of them down to the cafeteria for lunch. "Only, she doesn't steer very well," she said, "and sometimes she runs me into the wall." She started giggling: "Oh, I'll bet we're a sight to see."

She's not particularly thrilled to be in a nursing home right now, but can still find humor in the Lucy-and-Ethel antics of getting to the cafeteria. I love this about her; I love her strength, and can see her influence in all of the women in the family: We may grumble or shed a few tears at the hand we're occasionally dealt, but we usually find ourselves laughing in the very next breath, and having to acknowledte that life is pretty darned good.

Raise your green beer to my Grandma today folks, and cross your fingers that we'll be celebrating her 90th with her in her own kitchen.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Quarter in Your Butt: The Rules

Ok, due to popular demand, I've backtracked and gotten the rules for the Quarter in Your Butt game that I blogged about a few days ago. I paid a price, too: I took a good scolding for not listening to the rules the first 100 times I was told, and had to promise to carry a steno pad around with me, to take notes the next time Homer Speaks.

A sidenote: Homer's name is really Tom. Man, when you start hanging out with firefighters and EMTs, you NEED a frickin steno pad just to keep everyone straight. Not only is there a tight "brotherhood" between about 80 dozen of them, they all have 2 names. Homer is Tom, Junior is Ryan, Clint is Cletus, Dawgett is spelled Doggett, but his name is really Steve, there is more than one Chad, and Roger is imaginary altogether.

I digress.

Homer called me tonight, with The Official Rules of the Quarter in Your Butt game, which we have no name for. We decided that it would be ok to name it something that has "Rushing Construction" in the name. That is the name of Homer-Tom's construction business. Who couldn't use some thinly-veiled advertising, after all? Hey! They can build Decks and Sunrooms and Sheds and Garages...Rushing Construction, Homer, Illinois.

Crap, I'm digressing again. I shall cease and decist.

The Rushing Construction Quarter In Your Butt Game Rules and Regulations

  1. To begin with, everyone gets a double shot glass.
    What is that? They were playing with big ol dixie cups the night I was there!
  2. You fill YOUR shot glass with whatever it is that you are drinking, and set it aside.
    Or, if there aren't enough glasses to go around, just name your poison, but be ready to drink it.
  3. Fill one double shot glass with any liquid (even water will do), so that IF the quarter lands inside of it, it won't bounce out. Set the glass on the floor.
  4. The first person to play puts a quarter in their butt, or their crack, or their buttcrack, and then scoots across the floor to the glass, and tries to drop the quarter into the shot glass.
    I did not find the regulation distance between the starting point and the glass. It somehow seems funner the further away it is. Let's make it 1/4 mile. Or 5 feet. Whichever.
  5. The Player with the Quarter in his or her butt tries to drop the quarter into the shot glass.
    • If the players makes it, he gets to point to any of the OTHER players, and force them to do a shot of whatever they're drinking.
    • The player gets to go again and again, until he misses the shot.
    • If the player misses, it's the next person's turn.
    • If the player hits the rim of his glass with his quarter, he gets to try one more time.
    • If the player hits the rim of his glass a second time, he has to forfeit his turn, and drink his own shot.
I never did find out how to determine the winner of the game.

You know, I don't really see that this has to be an adult drinking game. Quarters in your butt are fun at any age, and way better than pin-the-tail on the donkey, I figure. Adjust the rules, throw in a few prizes, and you can play this game at your child's next birthday party!

Easy for me to say: I still haven't summoned the courage to try it. Secretly, I'm afraid the quarter will get lost. It'll get lodged up there, and not come out for 4 or 5 days. Like finding a popcorn hull in your teeth: When did I eat popcorn??! Look:

SEE? I'm not crazy! That's HomerTom right there, teaching the game to everyone. As far as we know, he never DID find that quarter! It might pop out the next time he plays Nogla*, for all we know.

At any rate, there's the game, for those of you who asked.

If you're up for a challenge (Steakbellie), HomerTom swears that someone dropped a dime into an OpenPit Barbecue Sauce bottle. Game on; we'll see you on SpikeTV!

Homer has left the building.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Camera Unload

More attempt to catch up, and clear random photos out of the "To Blog" folder, and off of the laptop.

This photo was taken in a parking garage elevator last August, at O'Hare airport, before I put Brian on the plane back to Iraq. We had time to kill when we got to the airport, so we meandered over to the Gaslight Club at the O'Hare Hilton, to get a drink.

We were stopped at the door though, and the maitre' d pointing out that there was a dress code: No sleeves, no service. I tried to reason with him: "My son is going to Iraq; you won't let us in for a cup of coffee?" His terse response: HE can come in; YOU may not.

Hmph. God forbid someone see my arms. This is what the waitresses in the Gaslight wear, by the way:

If Brian had known that, he might have just left me and Clint on a bench and gone in for that drink on his own, eh?

The last Bizarre Food I tried. I love coconut, but this was YUCK.

Look what I found, at the same party as the quarter-butt game. It was (they were?) just sitting there on top of the refrigerator. Like I'm going to pass up THAT photo op; would YOU?

This is my office. Brian made that colorful little painting on my bulletin board, when he was 8 years old or so. Isn't he just precious?

Oh, that's me, and Clint's friend, Homer, bobbing for meatballs at a Halloween party last year, after a few bottles glasses of wine. I had never met the people that threw that party before that night. I haven't been invited back. I wonder why.

There's my garage. Last summer. It looks a lot like that now, only with boxes and boxes of care package stuff also.

That's it for now, there's plenty more to come, but they're scattered all over memory cards, computers, and jump drives.

Feel free to post your mundane photos, if you have any floating around.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Best Kept Secret?

...Or am I just the last goob on the face of the earth to find out about these things?

Cash keys for parking meters. Good for use in Urbana, Campus, and Champaign parking meters. You can own one for $17.50 through public works (see here for more details), and then choose how much of a cash balance to keep on it. (Not refillable via internet. Sorry folks, you have to go back to the parking offices when these run out of moolah!)

Champaign's New Parking Costs: Grumble, grumble. Although I can see that these new parking meters will bring in revenue for our fair city, I always found the inexpensive parking (25 cents/hr, free after 5:00 and on all weekends) to be charming, and a welcoming perk to hanging out downtown.

Most of the businesses there are those that invite you to stay for hours: coffee shops to study in, tons of outdoor cafes, bars to frequent, and a few fine dining establishments, to linger over fantastic dinners.

Alas, 75 cents an hour now, and a 2-hour time limit! Aurgh! 2 hours? That two-hour time limit has changed the message from "Welcome to downtown!" to "Welcome to downtown. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out."

One just has to bite the bullet and follow the rules. These cash keys are extremely convenient if you're a debit-card carrying down-townie such as myself. When the 75-cents/hour parking costs kicked in, the change in my ashtray mysteriously dwindled to nothing but pennies in the blink of an eye.

Clint picked one of these up for me, and I just lurrrrrrrve it. Poke it into the meter, it gives you a balance. Once more, and it subtracts a quarter from that balance, and puts 20 minutes on the clock.

It's much easier than hoarding quarters, but you still have to vamoose by 7 p.m., if you arrive downtown at 5.

Enjoy your dinner.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Letters from Kids

PowerBlogging II: I'm determined to unload a few months worth of photos and videos, to get caught back up on my life, so this is next up: Letters from kids!

We had a few schools participate in our Thanskgiving and Christmas care package events, so were were able to enclose a packet of letters to each soldier on our list. We had over 600 letters from grade schoolers, for our Christmas event, each and everyone of them precious.

Many of them also made us laugh, for their sheer honesty, concern, and well, downright blunt-ness (is that a word?)

Read on for a few that were enclose in Brian's packet:

These little kids, they don't dance around their feelings.

Sometimes, we could maybe learn a thing or two from them.

Even if they are only first graders.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Quarter-In-Your-Butt Game

I'm reminded, here and there, lately, that I haven't been blogging as much as I used to. Aye, I cannot deny it. I'm busier now, than I was a year ago, and by the time I can sit down and write, I'm braindead.

The truth is that I'm also having a ton of fun, and have enough blog fodder and photos to last me years. I am considering just inundating you with highlights, in order to get caught up. PowerBlogging, BAM-BAM-BAM!!! 100 Blogs in a day and I'll be caught up! Double dog dare me?

Well, I'll throw just one at you, for now.

I did manage to score this video for your viewing pleasure from a party we went to a few weeks ago, at Angie & Ryan's. Their first party in a big, heated garage they built last summer. There were 50+ in attendance, happy for a break from February cabin fever.

I can fit 4 of my house into this garage. It was large enough to clear space to play ladder golf (referred to as redneck golf, in these parts) on one side, get a darts tournamant going on the other, and hold mountain of food on yet another end.
Redneck golf game

If none of that thrilled you, you could have joined THIS group, in which Homer was teaching everyone a drinking game, involving putting a quarter in your butt, walking it over to a cup, and dropping it in. He's been telling me about this game for a year, but I'm so prone to being gullible that I'm often suspicious. I wouldn't bite.

Angie was game though, and proved to all of us that the sport is legit, AND that she rocks at it. So, to prove to you that I am out having fun (albeit at other's expense), I present to you:

Angie Playing the Quarter in Your Butt game:

I wisely waited until she had a few more glasses of wine before I asked her "do you mind if I blog that video?" Timing is everything, folks, she was all for it! Put it on the internet! Yay!

Can't you just hardly wait to see what else I have in store for you?!

Monday, March 03, 2008

On Smiles...and a Smiley Quiz

Brian called yesterday, and he loved the Virtual Birthday Party. Big thanks to everyone that played along; geez, you just went above and beyond, collecting photos for us! I had a big old silly grin on my face all week long, as photos rolled in.

Speaking of Smiles, how well do you think you are at spotting the real deal? The BBC's Science department has a cool quiz that you should take if you're bored. You look at approximately 20 1-second videos of people smiling, and then tell whether you think the smile was genuine or fake.

While I took the quiz, I imagined each person at my table at Cafe Kopi, and that I had just regaled them a hilarious story. I mean knee-slapping hilaaaaarious, I am snorting and wiping away tears, and then THAT is the smile I got in response. Quick! Real or Fake?

I admit that I had little confidence when I placed most of my answers, but I still got 19/20 correct. I guess you shouldn't go around pretending that you think I'm funny when you don't think so. I will apparently be able to spot your insincere smile from 100 yards.

If you need any practice beforehand, here's a photo of MY fake smile, from a girls night out, last September:

Not real.


Sunday, March 02, 2008

Happy 22nd Birthday, Brian

Hey Kiddo,

Happy Birthday. Since you can't be here with us today, we've decided to send ourselves to you. It's your very own virtual birthday party!! Hope these photos put a smile on your face, and remind you how much we all love and miss you: just tons!

Love you with all our hearts, can hardly wait for you to come home!



***Go ahead and leave Brian a birthday wish in the comments, or email me at if you'd like his email address! Tons of thanks to all that helped out; we love you!