Friday, October 31, 2008

Word association quiz

What do you think of when you hear the word "Milwaukee" (as in Wisconsin)????

Brewers . . . breweries . . . Happy Days . . . Laverne & Shirley (and Lenny & Squiggy) . . . cold . . . snow.

Well, for most of my life, when I heard that word, I immediately associated it with some of my relatives on the Ryals side of the family. Uncle Dean, my dad's brother, moved there as a single man out of grad school, married his wife, Chris, and they raised five kids there (4 boys and a girl, with one of the boys and the girl being twins born on Christmas Day 1976). I can remember going to visit the Dean Ryals family at least twice during my growing up years. One time when I was probably three years old, it was Christmastime and there was a LOT of snow on the ground. I mainly remember seeing my mom fall off of a snow mobile and crying because I thought she was hurt (she wasn't and got up laughing). The other time was in August when I was twelve, and I remember going to the zoo and feeling so big because I could carry my one-year-old twin cousins (probably not at the same time) and do things to make them laugh. My uncle has now passed away, but Aunt Chris, and two of the "boys" are still in the Milwaukee area.

Fast-forward to June 2005, when I started my job at Northwestern Mutual Financial Network. Suddenly, I had a new association with Milwaukee, since that is where the "home office" for NMFN is located. Over the past three and a half years, I have had the opportunity to go to Milwaukee on business four times, and have been able to reconnect with my aunt and cousins while up there. This past week, during dinner with Aunt Chris, Keith and Dennis, my aunt brought out some yellowed, folded pages, that turned out to be a story I wrote when I was in third or fourth grade about a mom who gave birth to twins (a boy and a girl) on Chrismas Day. It just happened that I wrote the story for school in mid-December, and then Aunt Chris actually had twins, my cousins, Dennis and Cindy, on Christmas Day that year! My mom had sent the story to my aunt and she had kept it all of these years. We all had a laugh reading my story at the restaurant the other night.

I'd say being able to see Aunt Chris and my cousins after all these years is one of the best "perks" I've received from my job at NMFN! And next time I go to Milwaukee, I need to look for the famed "Bronze Fonz" statue my cousin told me about . . .

Monday, October 20, 2008

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Yesterday we celebrated my dad's 72nd birthday with lunch from Bar-b-Cutie and an ice cream cake (his special request). I love that my dad can live close to his two grandchildren, Daniel and Erica. I realize that we are blessed to be able to be living in the same city (even within two miles of each other) and that we all are happy about that! Our family spent many years living miles apart, so we don't take this for granted.

We took the traditional birthday pics (for our family, it's blowing out the candles and holding up the gifts after they're opened), but I also got some great shots of Dad, Jeanette and Erica. The blue and pink quilt has special meaning, because when Dad became a Grandpa for the first time, thirteen years ago, he brought this quilt back from his trip to Ridgecrest, NC, a favorite and memory-filled family vacation spot. Now, his new baby granddaughter can benefit from his gift. Only God knew back in 1995 that a quilt with both blue and pink squares would be appropriate for Dad's grandchildren!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Highlights from a great weekend

We didn't have any huge plans going into the weekend, but it was fun and relaxing and we got to spend some time with family and friends and just hang out together at home. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Visiting Erica during some "awake" time on Friday night and watching her play on her activity mat. She was six weeks old on Friday and is starting to smile and be aware of things around her.

  • Going to the Celebration of Cultures in Centennial Park with Daniel, Grandpa, Jeanette, Russell and Erica (Grandma was at a conference at her church and we missed her being with us).

  • Shopping and dinner with Daniel on Saturday night (white chocolate lava cake at Chili's is "to die for" and having Daniel actually let me play guitar while he played the drums on the Rock Band demo in the store was so fun!).

  • Today's experience of communion, along with the sermon from Exodus and the Gospel Transformation lesson this afternoon, were all evidences that God is at work in all things to grow me closer to Him.

  • Spending Sunday afternoon sitting out on the deck with a book while Daniel and his friend, Ryan, ran down the street yelling "Five and O, five and O, five and O" after the Titans beat the Ravens put a big smile on my face!

Well, nothing was really earth-shattering, but it added up to a good weekend for me and Daniel.