Friday, September 30, 2011

Joyeux anniversaire, Kelly!

Yes, happy 40th to French!  Given that I have no foreign language skills, it is a real treat to have a daughter-in-law who speaks French.  Not only did Kelly bring much needed language skills to our family, but her musical ability is much appreciated, as well.  I especially enjoyed watching her play piano for Adam from the time he was only a few weeks old.  It seems with two active young boys, there is little time now to indulge her interest in piano....but, maybe someday again.  I understand Joe was particularly delighted to have a "donut birthday breakfast celebration."  I hope the rest of your special day is everything you envision.  I hope you are thinking of some place special for you and me celebrate with a birthday lunch during my October visit.  Perhaps some place Thai!!!  Passez une bonne journée.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Isaac aka Toddler Extraordinaire

Is there anything more endearing than witnessing a baby's first steps?  Imagine the change in perspective and sense of mobility as a baby crosses that threshold from crawling to walking.  I would love to have had a decoding of Isaac's mind as he embarked on his new status.  It was such a thrill to see his face last month as he took those first steps.  As we have observed his determined, wobbly gait via Skype, there is no doubt that this young man is ready to explore the world.  Diane says it is so amusing to watch as he gleefully explores each corner of their house.  Clearly, he is quite proud of his new status.  So, Nana and Grandpa want to convey a bevy of virtual Hugs and Kisses to celebrate Isaac's first birthday!!! Can't wait to see you in a couple of weeks to bestow the real things.....perhaps we can also add a nice messy chocolate cake.  Clearly being a little guy who loves to eat, we might have to appropriate a portion for the rest of us first.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Happy B'day, Favorite Son!

From before he was born, Jeffrey has always been the kid closest to my heart.  You see, his long, lanky 8 1/2 lb. body was crammed under my rib cage so high that I still had bruised ribs for days after he was extracted via C-section 45 years ago.  At that time, any C-section baby was placed in the neonatal unit for the first day or two.  Also at that time, C-section mothers were given significant quantities of pain medication.  In my doped-up state, I cried as I first viewed Jeff (all 8 1/2 pounds) as he lay among those preemies.  In my foggy brain, those long arms conjured primate images for tree swinging instead of the foretelling of the handsome 6' 1'' man he would become.  Over the years, those long arms have wielded baseball bats, basketballs, tennis racquets, hockey sticks, fishing rods, woodworking tools, and hoisted over his head two adored sons...and there is still nothing better than a hug in those arms of My Favorite Son.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Lights, Camera, Action!

Today's birthday girl, Sophia Elizabeth Catalano, seems to always be creating a movie script in her mind.  What a delicious imagination resides in this four year old curly headed wonder!  I am always amazed at her choice of characters to inhabit as she plays.  One day a princess, the next one of her favorite Disney horses "Spirit" or "Rain".  It is so fitting that she be Sarah's daughter since Sarah's pediatrician dubbed her "Sarah Bernhardt" as an infant.  I am so pleased that Sarah's creative genes are being passed along to another generation.  So yes, Sophia!!! It is finally Friday, and we send a big Happy Birthday Hugs and Kisses Fest your way.  I can't wait to get to St. Louis so we can officially celebrate with a "Birthday Tea Party."  Be thinking of who we will pretend to be.....

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Change of, not me - Diane and Steve!

Yes, three years ago Diane and Steve's life forever changed.  Owen Claes Young made his grand entrance and life has not been the same in the CA Young household.  Gerry always says, "Getting married is nothing.  Having that first child is the game changer."  For Nana and Grandpa, it has been a blast watching the development of this paragraph spewing, train obsessed, swing and water loving bundle of energy.  Watching him incessantly jump into the pool brings flashbacks of his mother's inability to heed my pleas of "Wait, wait - there's no one to help you!"  Brave?  Hardly....I think they both were just born with that "It's just so much fun, I can't stop myself" gene.  Couple that with their wicked grin and the mischievous glint in their blue eyes and it's easy to see why they are so much fun to be with.  Happy Birthday, Owen.  We can't wait for your Three Year Old adventures....we hope to share as many as possible with you.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Big Bang on the Third

I bet you think EVERYONE celebrates with a big bang on July 4th...well, in the Claes Family July 3rd is even a bigger day of celebration.  It's Diane's birthday!  Of course, Caron certainly did not think so the day we brought her home; however, I am sure she now thinks having Diane for a sister is cause for BIG celebration.  Gerry's impression of Diane's birth is seared in his memory as the hottest July in St. Louis history....and the air conditioner was broken in his car. 

In 31 years Diane has added mountains of blessings to our lives including a delightful son-in-law and now two heartbreakingly adorable grandsons.  Happy Birthday, Diane.....and thanks for the memories!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Rubber Chicken Circuit

Well, it seems politicians are not the only people to be subjected to the "rubber chicken circuit."  Saturday night we invited three couples for dinner on the deck.  Their names will remain secret to protect the innocent.  As the last guest left, Gerry and I turned to one another and said, "THAT was the worst food we have ever served guests."  Gerry prepared two "beer can chickens."  These have always been the juiciest, tastiest chickens he prepares on the grill.  In my concern to be sure we had enough to feed eight people, I bought the biggest chickens I could find at Stauffers.  Big mistake.  They must have been the oldest chickens imaginable.  I placed a bite of a breast in my mouth and immediately placed it back on my plate.  Pure rubber.  I don't know how some of the people managed to eat it.  One guy even had seconds, I think.  Well, it didn't get any better.  Dessert was a disaster.  Again, a tried and true Rhubarb Crisp recipe; however, I used rhubarb that I had frozen.  The rhubarb turned into slimy goo.  Although polite, more than one person just could not consume it - me included.  Fortunately, the wine was good and the company terrific.  I just hope they will accept a rain check if I promise to buy pizza!  This was the first time I ever wrote apology notes to guests.  I think I am getting too, too old to entertain and in the future need to call the caterers.

I have been trying to update entries to our China experience.  I think I only have three days left.  It was a fascinating trip, one I recommend to everyone.  It was truly a visual assault, and one can develop mental fatigue trying to absorb so much history, current culture differences, and the relationship between modern China and the USA.  I think more Americans need to be cognazant of China; certainly, even average Chinese are constantly aware of the USA - and in a competitive sense.  When I complete the final three entries, I will let you know so you can go back to review them, if you wish.