Wander project Christmas 2019


The pictures are all from Christmas day this year. I am mostly throwing out a few more of the pictures taken that day. I often find myself remembering more and more about an event as I take the time to document the event. This year was the 2nd that we didn’t go to Indiana, but stayed in Maryland. We did call and talk to my mom and my youngest sister in Indiana in the morning. We also had a nice holiday lunch as a family. My son-in-law and daughter headed off to their second celebration at my son-in-law’s father’s house. Traditionally when the kids were little, we only made Ebbelskivers (I’ve been told that is Danish for Apple Slices) with apple filling.

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This year we also made cherry and peach. The peach was a request by my wife. We also made Maine Blueberry filled! The Maine blueberry jam was picked up on our trip to Maine early this fall. Everything we bought in Maine had one of three things. Blueberry flavor or scent, Moose shape, or my wife’s favorite category something she thought was cool.  Anyway, our son-in-law is allergic/has a really bad reaction to Blueberries so we made apple, peach and plain. Our daughter likes plain without any fruit in them. We sometimes we roll hem in powdered sugar before serving them. But we do not do that every time, and we did not do that Christmas morning.

The last part of the process was sharing presents. My daughter gave each of us the beautiful paintings that she created. My wife and I gave everyone in the family socks. The socks gift is an homage to her mother. She always gave socks at Christmas, every year!  The best part of the day for me though, was having the kids all there. It took me back to the days when everyone was under the same roof. Our daughter and son-in-law arrived at around 830 in the morning. Different than the old days. We did end our Christmas celebration with the stairs picture. I don’t know why that picture still speaks to me, but it does, It is a picture that I find to be iconic for me. I guess there is always something that each of us holds dear!

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wander project the Dogs


There is a walk we take, well actually over the past few years it has been four different walks. We, by we I mean the management team of Labradors (Raven and Dylan) get bored if we walk the same way every single walk. So we vary the walk. In the summer, because the labs are older, we walk less than we do in the winter. In the winter, we walk less now than we did five years ago. But that was a different time and a different walk. My dog, Dylan, is very particular about walks. When I am working in my home office, he normally starts asking for the walk around 430 in the evening. He runs to the door of my office, stops, glares at me and then runs away. That is repeated until we go on his walk.

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Raven is always ready for a walk, but she is less invested in the walk preparation. Raven is ready to go when it is time to go, but she will go whenever. IT is runny; the two of them have very different personalities. Raven, got into the car the day we adopted her and picked the twins. We had driven down to Richmond Virginia to meet Raven. The second stage was if she and Dylan got along, she would join our family. She and Dylan got along, and she has changed our family ever since then. Raven will eat anything, thereby forcing us to Bungie cord the pantry doors shut in the kitchen. If the doors are left just closed Dylan can open the door and Raven eats everything in the pantry including plastic.

We probably spoil our dogs. But they bring much joy and happiness. Raven spent the first part of her life with us trying to figure my wife out. My wife, allergic to cats, is more of a cat person overall. There is a difference between cat and dog people although it isn’t what people normally think it is. Many cats are sociable and friendly. Cats are more about a level of independence that dogs don’t often do. My wife, as a professed cat person, hadn’t connected with the dogs that had lived with us in the past. Yes, she loved them, but Raven decided that beyond the twins, my wife was going to be her 3rd person. Raven worked on my wife almost every day for a year.

Now Raven has three humans devoted only to her happiness!

Dylan has me, although now he does try to get my wife to do things for him!

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Wander project Christmas Day 2019


I get photo requests from time to time, ergo yesterday’s Hawaii post. Today it is the bows on dogs post. In part, we started the bows on dogs post many years ago. It was something that started with my daughter and her dog, Fran. Fran hated the bows. She would throughout Christmas she would knock the bow off, and my daughter would put the bow back on. Now, with Raven, Dylan, serenity, and Tamsyn, it is harder and easier. Raven will work hard to keep her bow on her head. The other three will work hard to get the bow off their heads. Dylan knocked him off in about 20 seconds. He kept it on long enough for a couple of pictures and then, he was done!

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I left the bow off his head. He and I have an agreement. I don’t make him do things he doesn’t like unless it is important for his health. In the case of a bow on his head, cute, but doesn’t do anything else. He knocked it off and I left it off. Raven, when she comes off, stood where it had fallen waiting for someone to put it back on her head. She loves wearing things! We did not do searchers this year. IT was a lot warmer (50 degrees outside) we didn’t even start the fire. For years in Indiana, it was always cold so we always had the fireplace going. The last couple of years haven’t been cold enough for a fire. At least not on Christmas day, a week ago, we had highs in the low 30’s.

The last thing we did, the opposite of the picture from years ago, was the kids on the stairs pictures. A couple of dogs got involved in the picture as well. It was a production to get the kids on the stairs again. In part because the little kids of years ago, are now a lot bigger. In part because now we have one more kid. And because the dogs joined into the fray! Still, it was fun to reconnect pictures of today with things we did many years ago! It is funny when you look back at the moments in pictures. It becomes a tradition over time. That process of becoming a tradition is what makes the holidays special. Every family has its tradition, the way they deal with the holidays. You add to that overtime!

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wander project Christmas


Happy Holidays to all!

(for those who celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas to you and yours this 25th day of December 2019).

The pictures today are of Hawaii. The wander project is hitting Paradise Bay Hawaii. There are pictures from several events that occurred. The best thing for me was getting up early in the morning and blogging! This was back when Niume was still around, and I realized most of the Hawaii posts were on Niume. I have covered the trip to Hawaii a few times on Virily but nowhere near to the depth.

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The trip in 2015 was focused on remembering my father. He did not want a funeral or awake. He wanted all of us to be together to share a meal. It was his last wish. My mother decided that all of us, together in Hawaii, was the answer to that last request. My father loved Hawaii. He loved anything tropical but Hawaii was a place he had gone to often in his life. We spent the first few days in Hawaii on a cruise. It was the Norwegian Cruise line’s Hawaiian Island hopper. We ended up visiting seven islands. Each of the islands had a unique expedition. From hanging out on the beach to visiting Volcano National park, we have fun every day. It is interesting that where we had stood at the Volcano national park was partially destroyed in the eruptions of 2018.

The primary pictures shared today are from Paradise Bay. We spent our last four days there. We rented cottages on the beach. Each morning I got up before everyone else and watched the sunrise. There are a couple of pictures of the sun rising. There is also a picture of the expeditions that were taken while hanging out at the Bay! The first expedition was the daily walk the Twins and I took. The second was my wife and daughter heading out into the Bay with one of the resorts Kayaks. I will share more pictures and memories from Hawaii later this year. But this is a starting point, images and memories that I promised another Virily member I would share again!

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wander project Christmas 2018


There is an old song (100 bottles of beer and the wall) a version of which is 1, take it down, pass it around and then skip a few 99 100. So, I am doing that for Christmas memories. We are skipping a few and presenting pictures from last year. Last year and this year are different than the day of old. IN part because we didn’t go to Indiana. We first went to Indiana, in particular, to visit my folks when we were engaged back in the early 1990s. Until last year we had gone every single year except for the one-year (2013) that I was sick. Last year we stayed in Maryland and it was fun for different reasons. I missed hanging out with my mother, sisters and brother-in-law nieces and nephew.

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Our daughter had not been to Indiana for a couple of years, May 3, by the time we decided to stay in Maryland and have Christmas with the family.  The pictures are from the house, Christmas day 2018. Then it was the engaged couple, my daughter and future son-in-law and this year are the first official Christmas with a new son-in-law! Last year was a dog water year. Well, three of the dogs got sweaters. Raven, our black lab, loves playing dress-up. She loves hanging out with and being around her people. Dress-up for her is a blast and so the picture of her wearing her sweater could have been taken any time during the day. She wouldn’t take her sweater off once humans put it on.

Serenity doesn’t love sweaters like Raven. Tamsyn loves her sweater. My dog, Dylan (sometimes called Bear), doesn’t like clothes. The only clothes he will wear is one outdoor jacket. He wore a mini-tux to the wedding and didn’t do dress up. So the picture of The Bear, Dylan is him hiding by me not wanting the Girl (my daughter) or the mom (my wife) putting clothes on him. When Dylan doesn’t like the way things are going, he runs to dad. Its funny how dogs are. Over the years, Christmas has changed. The people have gotten bigger. The amount of time spent as a family has gotten smaller. The group of people got one bigger this year, but not going to Indiana made Christmas smaller in 2018.

I hope, on this eve of the second big winter holiday, that you and yours have a wonderful day!\.doc

wander project Cardinals…


I am taking a break from Christmas pictures to share more of the bird study I did one Christmas day at my parent’s house. First, my dad had his backyard declared a bird sanctuary by the State of Indiana. Dad was a biologist by his first two college degrees (Bachelor’s from Wisconsin, Masters from Michigan both in Biology) before he became a science educator. He grew many things over the years. But there was no spraying in the back yard. That was for the birds, literally. This particular day it was cold and windy, and the bird feeders were full. So the Cardinal came to visit. Female Cardinals are a lot harder to see than the males, on purpose by design, etc., but I got a few pictures.

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So, no snarky comments, just 12 bird pictures. Well, I do have one Snarky comment. I do not like the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team. All other Cardinals, even the Arizona Cardinals, are ok in my book. The St. Louis Cardinals are not ok. The fun thing that particular day, other than capturing the occasional picture, was sitting at the table and talking to my dad. He and I often spent the holidays talking. Dad, once his hearing aides were in, really struggled with the noise level in the house during the Holidays. So he and I would leave the office area, and sit in the dining room and talk. The only reason I took the pictures on that particular day, was dad pointing out the Cardinals.

He also, my father, didn’t like the St. Louis Cardinals in case anyone was wondering. Dad didn’t often root for professional teams. He loved college sports. So we were talking, and dad pointed at the Cardinals. I had the camera so I took the pictures. There are many more than the 12 I’ve shared today. Some of the pictures not shared were not particularly good. All the Cardinal pictures and other birds come from 2004. December 25th, 2004 to be exact.  I remember the birds. I don’t remember the conversation. I do now wish I had taken the time to lock the conversation into memory. Dad and I, mom, and I and my grandparents were always people I could talk to, count on, and I wish I remembered more of what they said to me.

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wander project Christmas 2005


Last Christmas is the number one song on the Billboard Charts. It was originally released back in 1994 or 25 years ago. This set of Christmas pictures comes from 2005 or 14 years ago. We were settled into a routine by then, this being the 6th year of the routine. We would open presents at home and then head down to my mother for the family event. The picture different now of the stairs. Where it had been my daughter rushing in to wake up the twins, she was older now. She would stay a little later than the twins did to talk to the adults. She was a teenager now, and you can see in the picture she was not as awake as either of the twins were at that particular moment.

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Funny how going to bed at 8 pm every night helps you get up early. I was up already, camera in hand — coffee in the pot, the day ready to begin. Fran would get a bow on her head. Funny but she spent the read of the morning trying to get the bow off. It was a tug of war that went on for many more years, the two of them, the bow and trying to get the bow off. We had a gas fireplace in the living room, and I would on Christmas morning light the fireplace. It heated part of the room, but it was more for effect than warmth. We had transitioned to a new couch in the living room by that point. The couch in the basement had been in our houses in Cincinnati, and it was nearly dead.

The two couches before were now gone. Kids tear up furniture! Funny thing is the solid wood table that was in our living room is still with us. It hasn’t died. But the couches did. Kids are tough on couches and other furniture. I would light the fire. Then I would turn on the stereo in the living and tune it to a radio station that played Christmas music. We had gotten Sirius the year before, although back then, it was just XM radio. The XM box was connected to the stereo and we turned the station of holiday classics and filled the living room and the center of the house with Christmas music. The smell of coffee, the sound of the music and then releasing the kids from the stairs so that they could in fact commence their Christmas.

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wander project Christmas 2004


As we move along the path towards another Christmas of the past, we see older kids. Each moment, search hour helping them grow. 2004 was a year of great change. I started working on a global team at work, so my travel increased even more. I was all around the world. But that was about a holiday, a moment with the family. We started the morning early, the kids wanting to start at 5 am. The dogs also wanting to start the day at 5 am. We normally would make breakfast (and the dogs would be fed) and then as said now several times head down to grandma’s house. The funny thing is, we went through the snow the year before, but there was no river on the way to Grandma’s house.

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(the old song Over the river and through the snow to grandmother’s house we go. The horse knows the way to follow the sleigh). Between Indianapolis and Bloomington, there isn’t a river. There are a couple of creeks but they are not much to consider. One of them is little more than a creek bed most of the year. My daughter and the twins, standing at the top of the stairs while I made coffee. The two dogs weren’t asked to wait on the stairs. They came down to the kitchen, pointing out that making them wait for food was at best illegal. At worst, it was cruelty. We had made Gwen change her ways when Fran arrived. Gwen had her bowl of food out all day and ate when she was hungry.

Fran ate when there was food in the bowl. Labs will overeat if you let them. So we started feeding the dogs in the morning. We found that out very early with Fran. She loved food! In 2004 we did not buy the twins another vehicle. The jeep was in the garage and they, the twins, had riven it around the driveway many hundred times. This was the 3rd of the Bionicle years. Bionicles were Lego creations that the twins loved. But in 2004, we transitioned from me having to put them together to the Twins doing it. They spent time the day after Christmas assembling. Later they would create all sorts of interesting creations with the Bionicle parts. We sat in the living room of the house and relaxing with coffee opening presents. Another perfect Christmas day!!!!

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wander project Christmas 2003


2003 we were well underway with kids growing. You can see bigger kids on the stairs coming down. Our daughter kept the twins upstairs until my wife and I woke up. Normally, it was me wandering to the Kitchen and starting the coffee. Once the coffee had progressed to the point where there was a cup for my wife, she would get up and drink her coffee. We would then stand at the base of the stairs waiting for the kids. I put my coffee cup done and had the camera to take them down the stairs picture. It is and was a tradition. Funny how those things start. You don’t think about how cool that moment is until later on. The light bulb over our heads as we realize, wow that is a cool moment.

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I would love to take credit for the idea to have the kids pose on the stairs but it was never my idea. It was our daughter’s idea.  She was the one that saw the concept in a movie or book and wanted to recreate it. 2003 was a year I was traveling all the time. So it was nice to be able to be home for a few days. I was tired but happy. Travel has a huge amount of wear and tear on you. Christmas 2003 was the first transition year for the kids. They used to get many bigger gifts because they were less expensive. This year, 2003 was the year they all began to love playing video games. Video games cost more money overall than action figures and toy garages do.

Fran was right in the middle of Christmas as was her tradition. At some point a couple of years before our daughter put the first bow from the first present she opened on Fran’s head. Fran spent the rest of the morning trying to get the bow off. Our daughter put it on, Fran shook it off and our daughter put it back on. That would make me laugh every single time. Fran was a big fan of having an early breakfast before we would take off. Fran’s rule in life was always. Why wait, let’s have breakfast now! The picture frames on the way down the stairs would only last three years. But for this year they were there. We had family photos printed and in the frames on the staircase.

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wander project Christmas 2002


Fluffy and filler, snow covers everything. We did not have many white Christmas’ in Indiana. 2002 is the only year I remember. But Christmas started early. The kids were ready to go at 5 am. Bleary-eyed, I would stumble to the kitchen and make coffee. Then take a cup to my wife. The kids would wait on the stairs. The dogs didn’t wait, and they were checking out the presents. Gwen did much care for the noise. She would watch form a distance. Fran just got in the middle of the kids and helped open presents. She learned the first year she was with us, that there was often food in the stockings! So if you are careful, food spills. Labs love it when food it’s the floor.

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It is a 50/50 chance then that they will get the food! It was dark and cold that Christmas of 2002. But as I said, the kids were raring to go. We would open the presents that Santa left for the kids and then head down to Bloomington to my parent’s house. We would call the in-laws in Florida (my wife’s brother and her parents back then) when we got home from Bloomington. We would usually head down around 10 am, and have lunch and relax heading back home around 5 pm. 12 hours is a long day with the din of happy kids. Funny how the noise is the thing that gets to you at the end of a day like that. This is the first year that I remember taking the stairs picture.

I think e took it once as well in Cincinnati but I cannot find those pictures. They are lost in an organized folder. Because there isn’t a way now to search that folder I will have to find them by happenstance. So far not much luck in finding them. We would open the presents and then I would make breakfast while my wife clutched her coffee cup. Funny how coffee becomes the best adult part of Christmas. Other than the sheer joy of watching smile. Smiling because they got something they wanted. Christmas around 2002 was the first of the bicycles. Bionicle’s are a Lego creation that had to be put together. In 2002 I had to put the toys together (with my wife). After opening, there was still work to be done!

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