Back to Oklahoma and Missouri

The week before this past week (April 27- May 4), we were in Oklahoma visiting with our youngest son and his family (a.k.a THE GRANDKIDS!).  They had recently moved from Moore, OK, to Edmond, OK.  We were excited to finally get to see their new home, and they were excited to show it to us.

As a family of five, they were in dire need of some more “space” in which to live.  They went from a house approximately 1500 sq. ft. to one around 2400 sq. ft.  It is a really nice house in a nice neighborhood.  It has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a great room (kitchen and living room totally open!), and dining room on the first floor.  It has one bedroom, a bathroom, and a family room upstairs.  And MOST IMPORTANTLY, when you live in Oklahoma, it has a lovely storm shelter with access from inside the garage.  During our week there, we spent one afternoon and evening glued to the weather forecasters on TV and ready to go to the storm shelter on a moment’s notice.  That’s just a way of life in the springtime in Oklahoma.

The day after we arrived was a very special day for our oldest granddaughter, Jade.  It was her prom.  Jade and her mom spent the whole afternoon getting ready for the big event:  hair, makeup, getting dressed, pictures, etc.  We (the whole family) were lucky enough to get to have dinner with her and her date and his family.  They chose a sushi place for dinner and that was a first for Jack and I.  However, we weren’t brave enough to try any sushi.  Maybe next time.

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Jade’s dress really looked pretty on her. Jade’s date’s sister did her makeup and did a fabulous job.

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Just a beautiful young lady!

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A friend of Jade’s mom did her hair. It was really pretty; elegant and sophisticated but not too much or too “old” for her.

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Jade and her date, Micah.

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Ooops! Micah closed his eyes. The guys have to learn that they must look good in ALL the pictures because the ones that the girl looks best in will be the ones used or posted! 😆

Monday evening was another special event:  both granddaughters were being inducted into the National Honor Society (Jade – High School) and National Junior Honor Society (Kylee – Middle School).  Since they are both home schooled through Epic Charter School in Oklahoma, the induction took place at Rose State College with all the other Epic Charter School inductees.  There were A LOT of students receiving that honor that night.  I’m SO glad we were able to attend this special event.

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Sorry, this is a little blurry.  They are one their way to the stage.

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Miss Kylee walking across the stage after her name was announced.

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Miss Jade walking across the stage after her name was announced.

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Of course, Jackson had to get in the pictures with his sisters (L to R: Jade, Jackson, Kylee).

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Man! These grandkids are growing up WAY TOO FAST!!!

The rest of the week in Oklahoma we just “hung out” with the grandkids.  I took the granddaughters shopping a couple of times.  Jack and I played numerous games with them:  Scrabble Alphabet Scoop, Trouble, Jenga, and Animalopoly (just like Monopoly only with a jungle animal theme).  Why, oh why, did I say I’d play that Monopoly game?!  Jackson beat us all!  He is going to be a shrewd business man some day!  Too bad I didn’t get any pictures of us playing any of the games.

We did discover one pitfall:  When you leave your dog with the granddaughters while you run an errand, you come back to this:

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All wrapped up in a blanket because they thought she was cold.

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We like to keep Zoey’s hair in pigtails. We came home to the pigtails BRAIDED!

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They said Jade had to hold Zoey while Kylee braided. 😆 It did look pretty cute, though!

We spent the next week (May 4-10) in Springfield, MO, visiting Jack’s mom (Lill), brother (Carl) and sister (Carol) and her husband (Delano).  We played a lot of Skip Bo games with Lill, and I’m sad to report I didn’t win ANY of the games at all.  Jack won most of the games with his mom coming in a close second.  We had good visits with Jack’s Aunt Jerry and Aunt Glenda.  When we visited with Carol and Delano, we also got to see and play with their newest great-granddaughter, Francis.  Man!  She is a doll!  (I can’t believe I didn’t get any pictures of her)  Carl was down with his back, so Jack just went to his house one day to visit with him.  Thursday afternoon we took Lill for “lupper” (lunch/supper) at Asian King Buffet at 2:00 (Chinese food buffet with a  Mongolian wok).  From 2:00-3:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays Senior Citizens (age 60+) only pay $4.99!  It was a pretty good meal!  I didn’t take ANY pictures while we were in Springfield – BAD BETTY!

Today (May 11) we got up early and are on the road to Arnold, MO (south of St. Louis).  My folks live there and so does my younger sister, Lisa, and her family.  We will be spending about a month there.  My parents are in their late 80s; mom is in a nursing care facility, and dad still lives at home.  It will be good to spend some time with them since we have been gone for 4+ months.

Since the next month will be all about spending LOTS of quality family time (and not about traveling), I probably won’t be blogging much.  However, who knows: we may find some interesting places to “visit” around the STL area that I could blog about.  We will see ….. just don’t give up on me if I don’t post anything for a month or so.

When we leave the STL area, we will be heading North for the summer.  We’re not exactly sure just yet where; maybe Michigan or the Wisconsin Dells area.  I guess you’ll just have to wait and see when I post again and tell you where we are.

So, for now ….. “On the Road, Again!”

Betty

Summer Fun: June – Part 4

Before I officially start my Part 4 post, I forgot to include a couple of pictures with the Part 3 post (click here for Part 3 post).  The day we went to Grant’s Farm was the day before Father’s Day.  On our way home, we stopped by my parents house just outside of St. Louis and took my dad out for supper. Here’s a picture of my 83 year old dad.  He looks really good, doesn’t he?  I am so blessed that both my parents are having 80-something birthdays this year!

LOVE YOU FOREVER, DADDY!!!

LOVE YOU FOREVER, DADDY!!!

Another photo I forgot to include with Part 3 was this one.  Jackson bought this get-up with his Naughty Nickels (I’ll explain those after the grand kids come to visit later this month – that’s a real teaser!).  Anyway, I asked him if I could take his picture, and he said sure.  I suggested we go over to the fireplace.  He struck this post ALL ON HIS OWN!!  Lol!  Such personality!

This little guy is always coming up with the mot unique things!  :)

This little guy is always coming up with the most unique things! 🙂

NOW, on to Part 4:

As I said at the end of the Part 3 post, the grand kids really worked hard on one special project the week they were here with us.  My grand kids and their parents live in Moore, Oklahoma.  Most of you are probably aware of the EF 5 tornado that ripped through Moore on May 20th this year.  Fortunately it missed our son’s home, and they were all safe in a friend’s storm shelter.  However, many people were not so lucky.

Pictures just can’t portray the actual devastation and destruction a tornado of this magnitude can wreak on a community.  Since I was familiar with the area and the subdivisions of homes that were demolished, my heart just ached when I saw it in person.  You just can’t even imagine it’s impact on you until you see it in person!

The subdivision surrounding Plaza Towers Elem. School.

The subdivision surrounding Plaza Towers Elem. School.

Plaza Towers Elem. School site and memorial.

Plaza Towers Elem. School site and memorial.

Another subdivision.

View looking southwest from the teacher’s parking lot at Plaza Towers Elem. School (the direction from which the tornado came).

Another subdivision nearby my son's home.

Another subdivision nearby my son’s home.

THIS IS GOING TO SOUND LIKE I’M GETTING OFF TRACK, BUT PLEASE KEEP READING.  The adults on my side of the family decided many years ago to stop exchanging gifts at Christmas.  Instead we wanted to put our money together to help others who are struggling to make a memorable Christmas for their family or just going through tough times financially.  Each year my sisters and I take turns finding a family in our area to “adopt” either by purchasing gifts for the children from a list supplied by the parents or giving them the cash to use as they see fit because the situation warrants this to be the best way we can help.  In the past we have helped a single mom and her son, children of a family whose mom was going through very difficult health problems, a family who lost everything in a freaky flash flood, a family with several foster children, and a family whose 3 year old was diagnosed with cancer.  There are others, but I can’t remember them all.

After the Moore tornado hit so close to our son’s home, my sisters and I were talking about how we wish we could help, but we all lived so far away.  One of my sisters suggested that we give our “Christmas gift” to a family in Moore now instead of waiting until Christmas.  We all agreed, so I asked my son and his wife to help us find someone who really needed our help.

HANG IN THERE WITH ME; I’M GETTING TO THE PART WHERE MY GRAND KIDS COME INTO THIS STORY.

I collected the money from each family member.  One night I was on Facebook and decided to tell my FB friends about what my family was doing.  I invited anyone who wanted to help by contributing to our little fund to get in touch with me.  I also found out that Copelin’s Office and School Supply in Norman, OK, was setting up a fund for the teachers of the two schools that were completely destroyed.  These teachers lost all their personal school supplies.  I was assured by the owner that all money donated would go directly to the teachers who lost everything.  I also put on FB that I was collecting money to take to Copelin’s for the teacher’s fund.  In addition I posted that if any of my teacher friends had some “gently used” school supplies they no longer needed, I would be glad to take them to Moore when I took the grand kids home.  I would see to it that some teacher who lost everything would get those school supplies.  I also posted a link on FB to Copelin’s website if anyone wanted to go online and make a direct donation to the fund.

ENTER THE GRAND KIDS:

One day the week my grand kids were at our house, they overheard me talking with a friend about the school supplies and money I had been collecting to take to storm victims.  All three grand kids are very sensitive about this topic; they have seen the devastation and have friends who lost everything or whose houses sustained a lot of damage.  They even had another Navy family live with them for several days after the storm because their house was badly damaged and the husband was out on deployment (my son is in the Navy and flies on the E-6B Mercury aircraft with the TACAMO VQ squadrons out of Tinker Air Force Base).

The oldest grand child said that she wished there was something they could do to help raise some money to help tornado victims.  I asked them all if they wanted to have a lemonade stand to try to raise some money.  They all said, “Yes!”  I hadn’t really thought this through and began wondering what, where, and how we would do this.  My husband said we could set up our lemonade stand in front of the bank where he works.  All I needed to do was buy the supplies, make a sign, and set up the stand.  Once again, I used social networking and  posted on FB about the lemonade stand my grandkids were having to help raise money for storm victims in their hometown.  What did we ever do before social media when we wanted to “get the word out” about things that were happening?

We decided we would sell lemonade on Friday that week.  We set up the stand in front of the bank from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  It was hot (no shade on the bank parking lot!), but the grandkids really enjoyed pouring the lemonade for the people who stopped by and talking with them.  Here we are in front of the bank right after we finished setting up.

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I kept busy making batches of lemonade and the grandkids worked hard.  Many people stopped and bought lemonade, and they usually gave more than the asking price.  Some people specifically stopped by because they saw my posts on FB and just wanted to make a donation.  As the money came in, the grandkids got really excited because they thought that looked like A LOT of money.  I told them that we would just have to wait and see how much we made after we paid Papa back the money he gave us to start with.  I didn’t want them to get their hopes up too high.

Meanwhile Mike’s wife, Jennifer, had been asking friends in Moore if they knew of anyone who lost everything in the tornado and did not have any insurance.  Jennifer’s friend, who is a Physician’s Assistant in Moore, said one of their receptionists lost everything when her apartment was completely destroyed.  She didn’t have any renter’s insurance.  The receptionist is a single mom with two children; one in high school and one who attended Plaza Towers Elementary where seven children were killed.  Fortunately her child came out of the school with only cuts and bruises.  She was living with a friend until she could save enough money to buy appliances so she could rent another place.  Now we had our family to “adopt.”  I began letting all my friends on FB know about this family we were adopting.

I am so proud of my friends and the community I live in.  The lemonade stand made $298.00 all by itself!  I also had donations from a couple of churches in town as well as from many individuals.  Some specifically wanted their contribution to go to the “adopted” family and others wanted their money to go to the teachers’ fund at Copelin’s.  I had donations come from various other communities as well, and even one donation from one of my old high school friends.   By the time I took the kids home to Moore, I had $2,525.00 to give to the family.  That should definitely help our young mom purchase appliances!

My husband’s cousin teaches in a school somewhere around Seattle, Washington.  It was close to the end of their school year, and she was telling her students about my son who lives in Moore and my posts on FB to raise money to help tornado victims.  Her students wanted to help raise some money, too.  They chose to help by having a coin drive and to donate the money to the teacher’s fund.  After their PTA saw how much the students raised, they voted to match that amount.  That school sent a check to Copelin’s for a little over $360.00  Total donations for the teachers’ fund was a little over $500.00 just because of a few little posts on FB!  In addition, I took several boxes of school supplies donated by my teacher friends.  I retired from teaching a year ago and had given away almost all of my personal school supplies, but I still had 4 boxes of paperback books (3rd-5th grade reading level) from my classroom library that I had purchased over the years with my own money.  I immediately knew those boxes were going to Moore!  Jennifer had a couple of friends that teach at the destroyed schools, and they took everything I brought.

My daughter-in-law and I could hardly wait to present our “adopted” family with our early Christmas gift.  When we got to the doctor’s office where she worked, she was at the front desk (she didn’t know either of us).  Jennifer told her we were there to see Nikki (the PA) and we sat in the waiting room.  When Nikki was free she came and got us and took us to the break room.  Then she went to get Jamie.  When Jamie saw us in the break room, she had a perplexed look on her face.  I tried to speak, but I got all choked up.  Jennifer immediately spoke up and BEAUTIFULLY explained everything.  Jamie cried, and we all cried.  This young mom was SO grateful and SO thankful.  She hugged us several times.  We talked a little while and she shared stories of her experience, sentimental things (photos, etc.) they found and could salvage as they dug around in the rubble, and other tornado stories.  We took a couple of pictures, and she gave me permission to use the pictures on my FB page (and blog) to let the people who contributed see who received our gift.

L to R;  Jennifer, (daughter-in-law), Jamie (gift recipient), and me.

L to R; Jennifer, (daughter-in-law), Jamie (gift recipient), and me.

My simple words here cannot adequately describe this young mom’s joy, excitement, gratitude, and thankfulness.  My grand kids learned a valuable lesson about hard work and helping others, and they saw complete strangers care enough to want to help, too.  It was a fantastic blessing to participate in this endeavor with my grand kids, with the people in my community, and with my FB friends to do a little something to help a few people who had lost so much.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO HELP:  You can go to Copelin’s Office and School Supply’s website and make a donation to the fund for the teachers of Briarwood Elem. and Plaza Towers Elem. Schools who lost all their personal school supplies.  Click HERE and scroll down the page; click on where it says “Donations for Briarwood & Plaza Towers Teachers.”  Thank you!  May God bless your generosity!

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