Tuesday, June 27, 2017


Early in June Brandon and Serene were able to go on their first real vacation of their marriage. While they were gone they asked Lisa if they could fly her out so she could watch the kids while they were gone. Well that is the kind of thing Lisa lives for so she was all in. We then decided that we would surprise the girls and I would go as well for the weekend. What a fun weekend it was. Brandon’s kids knew Lisa was coming but Lisa chose to keep it a secret that I was coming. I’m not sure why because we all know that the kids will be far more excited about seeing Grandma than they would be about seeing me.

We flew out Thursday evening but unfortunately the flight was delayed two and a half hours. Serene's dad, Paul Quinn, agreed to pick us up at the airport. I think he was regretting that offer when he dropped us off at 1:00AM.

Because I was only going to be there for a few days we had each day planned. Friday we went to the water park. It was a blast. Lisa and I took turns staying with the little kids and going with Sydney and Haley on the slides. Of course we were all able to ride the tubes around the lazy river.

I found it funny how Grayson kept crawling around in the water on his hands and feet rather than on his hands and knees. It wasn’t until the following day that we figured out why he crawled like that. The concrete is roughened up so you don’t slip but when you’re on your hands and knees the rough concrete really chews up your skin. The day after the park we realized that Grayson had a bad case of road rash on the tops of his feet. Oops. 

At the park they had a kids area with a large bucket at the top. By large I mean this bucket must have held two or three hundred gallons of water. 

The bucket was constantly being filled and it was hinged in the middle so that once it got full the center of gravity was above the hinge and the bucket would tip over and dump on the kids playing below. 

At one point Mackenzie got hurt and Lisa was tending to her when the bucket dumped. I was really wishing I had a picture of that so later when I saw Sydney hanging out below the bucket I got my camera ready hoping the bucket would dump. I lucked out and got a pretty good shot of Sydney getting drenched. Lisa was just as drenched as Sydney and she was totally surprised by it. I think Sydney was waiting for it. 

Saturday Haley had a softball game and then we went on a hike. I got some good shots of Haley’s run.

Here is Haley at bat. You can see Lisa and the kids in the background cheering her on.

She swings, she hits the ball and she’s off. I think she surprised herself.

And she gets a high-five from her coach at first base. 

Here she is on third with her eye on the home plate.

She heads for home…

And it’s a run for the Rockies.

After the game we headed to a nearby park with a cool hiking trail. The trail was only a couple of miles but they had all kinds of trivia for us to look at. It was a good educational event for the kids and a fun hike.

We ate a picnic lunch and then fed some of the sandwiches to the turtles in this pond.

At one point on the trail the kids got all excited because they thought they saw an owl in the hole in the tree. It actually did look a lot like an owl but once we got closer it was just an optical illusion.

After a nice relaxing hike through the park we headed back home and got ready for a nice camp out. We had Brandon line up a fire pit for us and we roasted wieners on the fire. I don’t know why but wieners taste so much better when they’re cooked on a fire. Following the wieners was the s’mores. I think the part that the kids liked the best was writing on the patio with the charcoal on the ends of their sticks. Sorry Brandon and Serene, I think it should wash off without too much trouble. 

And then we pitched the tent and camped out for the night. It was a little hairy at first positioning all of the girls so that no one complaining about having someone’s foot in their eye but in the end I think everyone fell asleep without being mad at someone. 

We just locked Grayson up in the dog kennel so he wouldn’t get into trouble.

As I’ve gotten older the ground has become much harder and I didn’t have an air mattress so I was quite concerned about getting a decent sleep. I actually slept surprising well.

It’s been a long time since we had to get five little kids ready for church. It actually went much easier than I had anticipated. These girls are really well behaved kids. We actually got to church fifteen minutes early. 

I don’t know what the fight was about but at one point Sydney and Haley were arguing about something. I saw a big tear running down Haley’s cheek so I had to take picture of it. I posted the picture and commented that seeing a tear on such a pretty face breaks my heart. Sydney saw what I posted and said to me, “it doesn’t break my heart”. You gotta love family. 

Monday was the Magnolia Market in Waco. Lisa loves that show and I have to admit that I enjoy it as well (but not nearly as much as Lisa does). In case you haven’t heard of it, the show is “The Fixer Upper”.

The town of Waco has been smart about how they exploit their new popularity so they have a free bus that loops through down town connecting to all of the shops and the Silo’s at the Magnolia Market. This allowed us to park anywhere we wanted and encouraged us to stop and check out a couple of shops.

I think the highlight for Lisa was the bakery. She loves cakes and sampled several of the cupcakes. Personally, my weakness is doughnuts and pies and since they didn’t have either I wasn’t too partial to anything. They did have a delicious peanut butter cookie that I had. 

I then wandered through the market place with Lisa and looked at a bunch of weird stuff that I couldn’t see much use for and then I took the kids and played in the play area while she and Sydney satisfied their need to take a closer look. 

I was worried about keeping the kids entertained, especially Grayson but it was so hot I think Grayson sort of turned into a zombie. I made sure he had enough water in him kept him where I could keep an eye on him. I did turn him lose on the grass a few times but for the most part he was content to just hang out in his stroller. 

I thought you might enjoy this contract between two sisters. Do you see the sweet innocent smile on Mackenzie’s face? Compare that to the wild and crazed look on Haley’s face. In case you were wondering what the blur is in the foreground, that is Haley’s running shoe trying to kick me in the face.

Lisa and Sydney finally came out and we fed the kids some very expensive lunch. Lisa then bought a small watermelon. Someone had the ingenious idea of cutting a hole in the side of the watermelon, chewing up the inside of the melon and then letting people suck it out with fat straws. There is nothing like a cold watermelon on a hot day. 

We then hopped back onto the bus and headed into town. 

On the way we stopped at an ice-cream shop. There is nothing like an ice-cream cone on a hot day. 

We then drove around Waco trying to find some of the houses that have been featured on the Fixer Upper and then it was back to Mansfield. 

And then it was Tuesday. Tuesday was when I had to leave. Sydney and Hayley both cried as I started packing up. Because they were crying Rosalie had to make sure she was crying louder than they were. She was all out wailing. You would have thought I was dying or something. And then poor sweat Mackenzie was smiling and playing with me. I love those girls and I am so sad that they live so far away.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Rick Marx

At 9:30 this morning Rick Marx passed away. It is sad to see a good friend leave this world but what a comfort it is to know that it is only for a short time. Well, I guess it doesn’t seem that short but that is what makes it so difficult. Lisa and I went to see him and Kathy on Saturday and then again yesterday. I’m really glad we did.

Kathy texted Lisa right away and told her that they would be doing a "Salute" for Rick at 11:30. We had no idea what that was but we both wanted to participate and support Kathy so we left work and headed right over. 

The salute was pretty special. They had us all leave Ricks room and they put him on a stretcher, draped him in the American flag and then a fellow from the Veterans Association stood in the hall and rang a small bell. Two orderlies slowly wheeled him into the hallway while the VA guy loudly announced Ricks name and rank and his branch of service and other stuff. It was very solemn and almost spiritual. 

What made it even more special is that Rick volunteered with the VA and this fellow remembered working with him. He even told Kathy that Rick kept a picture of her on his desk and that he obviously loved her. 

Lisa and I first met Rick roughly ten years ago. We went out for dinner on a double date and I’ve loved Rick ever since that first day so long ago. It is hard for me to judge time but it must have been three or four years ago that Rick went to see his doctor about a pain in his hips. He thought he must have pulled a muscle or something like that. He’d always been a very healthy man and worked out regularly. Imagine our surprise when we learned he had stage four cancer in his bones and he was given less than a year to live. Rick received many blessings and some of his blessings told him that it was not his time yet and he still had work to do here on earth. 

Rick has used that time well and helped a LOT of people in that time. Perhaps most importantly he helped his son Doug go through some very tough times. After giving his son some much needed support it was appropriate to see Doug by his dads bedside during his last days on this earth. 

Rick had many ups and downs since that first diagnosis. He went through a few rounds of chemotherapy and at one point he was on deaths door. He pulled through and recovered to the point that he was cancer free. I remember one day in the chapel just before church started I was playing “Clash of Clans” with my kids. They had created a clan in this game that is played on smart phones and we would fight daily battles against other clans. It was a good game for me because it didn’t need to take more than ten minutes a day and yet it kept me in daily contact with my kids. It was fun and our clan at its max grew to about 50 people, all of whom were close friends or family. We grew to be a true "Clan" and while we lived all over the content and many of us had never met we were "family".

At this point Rick was going through a very tough spell in his fight against cancer and spent most of his day sitting around his house dwelling on his problems. I suggested he join the clan and “Rick the Rock” was born. The game was perfect for him and he was instantly thrown into a family of fifty or more members. Everyone loved Rick and it gave him something else to think about other than his own problems.

In time the clan went the way of everything else in this life but Rick was now left with a new group of friends. After years of great health, Ricks cancer finally returned and he declined quickly. The last week or two have been very painful for Rick and last week he was finally taken to the hospital. Ricks son Doug arrived last week and him and Kathy have spent nearly every hour since at Ricks side. 

Losing a loved one is hard enough even when we know that they are in a better place and that we will eventually join them. I can't even imagine what it would be like without that knowledge. Rick, I am a better man for having known you.