Kristopher and Mary collage.jpg

Ben’s childhood friend Kristopher and his wife Mary visited a few days with us in May. Although Violet has been in the magnolia many times, neither Ben or I ever even considered climbing the tree. Kristopher, who is a kid at heart, wanted to scale it right away. Mary and Ben were up in no time with him. See if you can find Ben and Kristopher in the tree.


Violet and Archer enjoying a rare rain shower. My parents will visit a few weeks later and fill the planters pictured behind them.


Violet woke up early one morning and made breakfast for the family, complete with labels. She even made Ben his morning “proteen shake”. What a sweetie!


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mothers day collage.jpg

Started this post on Mother’s Day. Wanted to document how my kids were at that time. Lots of old news coming your way.

Archer loves to snuggle first thing in the morning and a few times throughout the day. Right now he’s pretending I’m the mommy tiger and he’s the baby tiger. He recently told me “Mommy tiger, I say roar littlely and you say roar bigly, ok?”

When I was little I’d play with the Barbies for hours with my best friend Beverly, by myself, or on the rare occasions, even my sister. I still remember some of the little scenarios we came up with. I’m seeing the same type of interest starting to blossom in Archer and he’s using a variety of toys for his pretend play. His favorite medium are his superhero figurines. For awhile we were eating at McDonalds waay too frequently to try to collect all the Skylander figures. He collected most but never got the big TreeRex figure he was after so I’m watching for it at secondhand stores. He’s also had pretend conversations with his puzzle pieces. Vehicles pieces go to work then put themselves to bed in their sheds. Shape pieces serve as the sun and stars and talk about how bright they are. One time Archer used his farm puzzle and wanted the barn to have a speaking part along with all the animals so he named it “heehaw”. He said heehaw ate chicken food and laid a bunch of eggs. You may guess little heehaws hatched from these eggs, but you’d be wrong. Heehaw lays farmers.

Archer has turned a corner and started attempting to be hurtful with his words. He recently mumbled “I don’t love you”, which I ignored. Not fifteen minutes later he apologized on his own for what he said and told me he really loved me a lot.

Archer is into space. He especially likes talking about the sun and he can identify Earth and Pluto when he sees a diagram of the solar system.

Violet is finishing up the first grade. Her teacher told me that Violet no doubt had a strong will and probably would for the rest of her life. Early on she realized this and the ineffectiveness of saying something like “you must turn in 15 sentences”. Violet will shut down if she is given an order like that and her teacher added that “I will lose her”. Instead she encourages Violet to give something her best effort and Violet always provides something of very high quality, within her own parameters. Here is what she made me for Mother’s Day.


When Violet comes home from school these days she makes a beeline for our magnolia tree. She likes to hang upside down and swing off the branches. Sometimes she sits in the tree and makes things out of leaves and tape with Alexa, our neighbor. Her excitement regarding chicken-ownership has waned since one attempted to peck her in the eye and drew blood from her foot. I think the heat is addling their little chicken brains!

violet tree collage.jpg

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A Day in the Life

26 May 2013

Today has been a day of emotions.

Apprehension and Dread. Our hen Freckles wouldn’t move from her outdoor nest last night despite our pleas, bribes, and prods. I woke up worried that she’d either be a pile of feathers (attacked overnight while out from the protection of the coop) or that she would be egg bound. I had read that if she were egg bound, she’d need a warm bath and a vegetable oil vent massage which I would hate administering as much as I’m sure she would hate receiving. Fortunately she made it through the night alive but she was drenched this morning from overnight rain showers. She was scratching around for bugs by the time I went out to feed her. Ultimately I think she was just a little broody and the rain washed away her hatching intentions.


Gratefulness and Relief. Archer has been coughing for the past couple of days. Last night he was particularly wheezy so I called to schedule an appointment with urgent care first thing this morning. After the doctor checked him over she mentioned that she should send him on to the ER if she were just looking at his breathing rate, which was much too high, but that his other vitals were not as abnormal. After receiving steroids and a double breathing treatment, he was a new man.

Boredom and Annoyance. I don’t do well with nothing on the calendar. I like to be busy and after a few days staying in due to rain, it was beautiful out, but we needed to stay in so Archer could recover. We wasted away most of the day watching too much TV I had serious cabin fever.

Extreme pride and Happiness. It was really already past “brushing teeth time” but in order to salvage a little piece of the day I encouraged the family to go on a “family walk” (with Archer in a stroller). Violet wanted to ride her bike as usual. When Ben added air to the tires the training wheels got knocked about rendering them ineffective. Ben said he could either try to fix them or take them off. Without hesitation Violet announced she wanted them removed. I couldn’t believe it was happening. Teaching Violet how to ride a bike had been on my to-do list for probably a year but I kept waiting for the perfect circumstances… great weather, trip to a nearby park with lots of big flat safe areas to learn, after long talks about readiness, etc. It turned out this monumental milestone of childhood wouldn’t happen according to my prescribed notions, but naturally and spontaneously.


I suited Violet up in protective gear while Ben took the training wheels off. Violet talked about how the girl around the corner, who was a year younger, already knew how to do it so she thought she could handle it too. There was a flicker of worry when Violet first sat on the bike. She mentioned that she wanted them back on, but after a little encouragement from Dad she was game again. Ben talked about it being easier with speed and the basics of stopping. They headed down the street together while he held her torso. He was barely holding on that very first time. They changed directions and headed back towards the house. I hope I’ll never forget the feeling I experienced when I watched her take off from him, Ben waving his arms to show me she was on her own. I could feel a mix of love, happiness, pride, a sense of honor, and everything else good rising up from my chest and bubbling over in my eyes until I had to blink away tears to see how it ended. Violet is a super star. She didn’t fall once. She wanted to keep riding over and over until well after dark. She is so excited and proud. What a day!

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One Response to “A Day in the Life”

  1. Grammy says:

    What a day! And yay for Vi! You’re a trouper! Big hug!

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Spring 2013

24 May 2013


Easter morning our kids wake up to a string tied on their doorknobs. They follow the lines which take them to each of their easter baskets. Archer was sick with a fever during this time. You can see the bed set up in his room where I slept the night before.


Violet picked out this sweet little dress for Easter. Since Archer was sick we stayed home from church that morning, but she wanted to wear her dress anyway. She is standing next to our newly planted cedar elm.


We had Easter dinner at Tootie and Unky Gar Gar’s house. I brought Archer and tried to keep him quarantined in the back room but he just had to come out to enjoy the cascarones, so lovingly made by his aunt and uncle.



Archer, Violet, and Grammy on a ride at the bluebonnet festival.

bluebonnet festival

Violet and Grammy keeping tradition alive. The picture I took right after this one shows Violet with her hands in the air.


V and Daddy on the slide

zoomed in slide

Hmm, this doesn’t look like much fun.


I guess he liked it after all! He didn’t want to do it again.


The next weekend found us “camping” with friends. Our family had one of the youngest campers that weekend so we were spoiled with the spacious, climate controlled house. These girls went to preschool together.


Archer wanted more “mushroom sandwiches”. He decided a few days before this trip to start potty training. I brought our little training potty and lots of outfit changes. He did pretty well, considering.

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My top ten (no, eleven) trip to Taiwan (Heart of Asia) observations!

Glass bottomed Maokong Gondola

1) I’m a typical American big space-taker. I like to spread out with all my stuff, and spaces in Taiwan are smaller, from apartments, to restroom stalls, to crowded sidewalks.


2) Scooters are everywhere! Streets are banked with rows of scooters; in traffic, they’re like hordes of insects surrounding the cars.

3) We took a lot of cabs and the traffic was scary to me. Lanes are just a suggestion, merging is every man for himself, and the scooters are swarming. But it works, with no road rage! Americans would be killing each other.

Red is a lucky color. Chinese New Year decorations are on the door behind Violet.

Violet serving the fried rice while Ben prepares the tea

4) The Mandarin language is daunting. Getting the correct intonation on each syllable seems impossible, and the written characters are so complex. It’s all Greek to me!

Traveling Annie and Violet with the Ding Tai Fung guy

5) I like the New Taiwan dollar (NT). Just dollars. No extra tax. Coins: $1, 5, 10, 50, bills: $100, 500, 1000. When you buy a Starbucks frappe for $135 NT, that’s all you pay. (That’s about $4 or $5 US) It was odd to be charged $135 for a frappe, pay with a $1000 bill and get $865 change! Also cool: they don’t expect tips.

Ximending Shopping District

6) I can spend money anywhere, no language barrier! I say, “How much?”, they whip out a calculator to show me the amount. No problem!

An interesting display at Longshan temple

7) I like the newspaper in English, the Taipei Times. I learned a lot about Taiwan and surrounding countries by reading the front page. And it has good crossword and sudoku puzzles.


8) Surprise! I love the food. Pork dumplings, beef noodle soup, fried rice, sweet potato fries, breakfast pastries, egg tarts, candied strawberries on a stick, bubble tea. I did pass on the cold dressed fungus, and what looked like raw pork intestines.

Watching the students at the Chiang Kai Shek memorial

9) People are out and about…families in the parks on Sundays, shoppers, walkers, scooter riders, groups in Starbucks. And I don’t recall seeing anyone overweight!

Sweet potato fries with a delicious seasoning

10) The world is small. I still played Words With Friends, used my Visa card, used an ATM, and was comforted by the familiar: Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Starbucks, 7-11, KFC.


11). Bethany is amazing. She planned and executed a life-changing, never-to-be-forgotten trip for Violet and all of us. I am so grateful for the opportunity to go. My connection to my granddaughter’s homeland is complete (for now). Thank you, BBVA!

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3 Responses to “Vickie’s Take on Taiwan”

  1. Pat Salem says:

    Hi Vicky, WOW, the pictures are amazing, really good depiction,catching the life in Taiwan………so great that you the opportunity to go……out of town but be back May 26th….looking forward to getting together, and work out…..thanks so much for the pics, you have a beautiful family,……..blessings to you, Pat

  2. Carol Buhler says:

    Vickie, what great pictures and blogs of your fantastic trip. Most of us would just dream of a trip to the Far East, but you experienced it and saw your grandchildren’s responses to different sights, sounds, smells, and tastes. I remember that even Europe has a set of different scents than the U. S. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Jimmie Jenkins says:

    Vicki, Loved the pictures and your bravery in all that traffic! Although, probably not any worse than in Atlanta these days. Your grandchildren are so awesome! Violet is so cute and your grandson looks so much like Ben. Very sweet and handsome children. How does one person plan and execute a trip like that! Bethany is amazing! How long did you stay and did your husband go also? A dream trip from anyone’s perspective! Tell Ben high for me. Love you all, Jimmie

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