Debbie Schilling and Tom Bundy's Photos Page: 2021 [Main] [Contact Us] [Events] [Family] [Fun] [Garden] [Misc.] [Photos] [Search] [Site Index] [Travel]

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Our new card game obsession is Mille Bornes. It's been around a long time but we had never played it before. Taken 1/1/21.
We went to visit Tom's mother in Dayton and drove The Ocho, our brand-new class B RV. This makes Ohio officially The Ocho's second state. Taken 1/2/21.
The next day, Tom went to Audrey and Dean's house to help them set up their new portable pool. Taken 1/3/21.
As thanks, they gave us tickets to Christmas Nights of Lights at the Indiana State Fair, so we bought a third ticket and took Claire to see it.
She seemed to enjoy it and we sure did too. Taken 1/3/21.
For Tom's retirement, Debbie bought Tom a sampler set of cocktail mixers, so on the first business day of Tom's retirement, we picked one at random, then mixed it with the associated beverage and drank it. Day one: Sydney Sunrise, mixed with vodka. Taken 1/4/21.
Day two: Caipirinha mixed with rum.
Day three: Margarita mixed with tequila.
And so it went, one per business day (when we remembered). Day ??: Singapore Sling mixed with gin.
Day ??: Tropical Painkiller mixed with dark rum.
It took the entire month, but we eventually made it through all 12. Welcome to retirement, Tom!
A week into retirement, Tom announced that he was interested in learning how to bake bread. So he did.
His first loaf turned out great. Taken 1/8/21.
We wanted to take an overnight trip in The Ocho so we could test out the water systems. The closest campground we could find that had water was south of Louisville, so off we went.
We brought along a little party USB light which was fun.
We love sleeping in our little RV! Taken 1/10/21.
It turns out that Tom was serious about learning how to bake bread. Here's his first take on an Italian loaf. Taken 1/12/21.
Jill gave us a grow-your-own-mushrooms kit for Christmas and by mid-January, it had produced its first mushrooms. Taken 1/14/21.
Here's our sweet girl, Claire, at her dentist appointment. The staff gave her some cool sunglasses to wear during her appointment. They didn't last long on her head. Taken 1/14/21.
A week later, she was at her doctor's office, getting lots of forms filled out to prepare for moving into a group home. Over the previous month, she had done a dinner visit, an overnight visit, and a weekend visit, and was now ready for the next step of moving in. Taken 1/21/21.
Meanwhile, Debbie had been busy gathering, mending, purging, and labeling Claire's clothes (long and short-sleeved bodysuits and pants), ...
... gathering socks and purchasing more, ...
... purging, patching, and labeling pajamas, ...
... buying and labeling new batteries, chargers, and screwdrivers for toys, ...
... and purging, cleaning, and labeling an assortment of Claire's favorite toys, along with a million other things to pack and get done. We wouldn't need nearly as many clothes, toys, and supplies at her dad's house and ours, so we filled quite a few boxes for Goodwill.
The day before her move, we took lots of pictures of her. She got to have her favorite breadsticks from Fazoli's for dinner, ...
... and we took every opportunity to stuff some last-minute calories in her. Taken 1/21/21.
When the big day came, we loaded up the van with all of her things, ...
... and got one last picture of her before she moved.
The house manager and program director surprised us with freshly purchased linens for Claire's bed.
We got all of her clothes put away in her dresser and closet, arranged the rest of her things around her room, and got our last hugs in before leaving her there. She seemed very unconcerned about it all, which made it easier on us. Taken 1/22/21.
On the way home from moving Claire in, we picked up some Mexican food from La Hacienda to cheer ourselves up. As we talked, Tom mentioned a test launch in Boca Chica, Texas, the next week, and Debbie suggested that we drive there. When it sunk in that we could actually do it, we started to pack.
Forty five minutes later, we drove to our storage facility and loaded up The Ocho.
Two days later, we were in Boca Chica, Texas, checking out the great view. We stayed for four days and then drove home. Read all about it here.
Tom decided to get fancy and try butter fan rolls. Success! Taken 1/31/21.
Being in a pandemic meant that Debbie got to participate in an owners meeting for the condo community in which we inherited a condo last year. There were some familiar faces, some familiar names, and a whole lot of strangers neighbors we haven't met on the call. Taken 2/2/21.
Debbie made the tough call to cancel this year's Schilling Reunion when we learned that our venue wouldn't be available for the date we had reserved and when it became clear that our family would be very divided on the subject of vaccination. A few of us got together online to float some ideas about a virtual reunion but we eventually scrapped that idea too. Taken 2/3/21.
With Hostess Suzy-Qs just a weak imitation of the pre-Hostess bankruptcy version, Snoballs are Debbie's favorite Hostess treat now. And who can expect her to resist throwing valentine-colored treats in the grocery cart? Taken 2/5/21.
Even though we were in a pandemic, we picked up Claire every weekend for an overnight visit, alternating weekends with her dad. Fortunately, she and her housemates had just gotten their first vaccination. Claire got to have a special dip in our swim spa before we drained it for the season. Taken 2/12/21.
Jill, Jared, and their kids came over to celebrate Jill's birthday.
Jill opened her gifts and her traditional inappropriate birthday card.
Kelly enjoyed some time in the egg chair in the basement when we all went down there to play with video games and the disco ball. Taken 2/13/21.
We left on 2/16/21 for a 23-day road trip in The Ocho. Our route took us through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, and back home again. Read all about it here.
While we were gone, Claire visited her dad at home. His new puppy, Luca, likes to be right next to her. Taken 2/21/21.
Tom's next baking challenge was sandwich bread made in a covered Pullman pan. Taken 3/11/21.
We were very excited to get vaccination appointments just a few days after we returned from our Southwest roadtrip. Shot #1: done! Taken 3/11/21.
When Claire comes home to visit, we like to take her to do something she enjoys. Here's her very favorite park.
She gets into the slide by sitting on Mom's lap, then Mom lowers her onto the slide.
There she goes! After four or five trips down the slide, she walked back to the van, indicating that she was done.
Of course, she always gets to have Fazoli's breadsticks for dinner! Taken 3/12/21.
The only good thing about having to have virtual birthday parties is that we can participate even if the party is for a friend in Washington. We had great fun wearing party hats for our friend Marley's 80th birthday party. Taken 3/12/21.
The NCAA Final Four was heading to Indianapolis, and special signs had been placed on the highways. Both I-65 ...
... and I-70 were magically transformed into Hoosier Hoops Highway. Taken 3/13/21.
There was a houseful of kids, dogs, and grandparents when we went to Jared's house ...
... for a brief birthday celebration for five-year-old Johnny. Taken 3/13/21.
We made it home just in time to watch the finals of Melodifestivalen 2021. Swedish music is the best! Taken 3/13/21.
Freezing rain left hundreds of tiny icicles on our patio furniture, which was temporarily removed from the patio while Tom was updating it. Taken 3/15/21.
It's good to have St. Patrick's Day traditions. Taken 3/17/21.
We got a pair of cool card decks from Audrey and Dean for Christmas, and had a great time working together to solve the puzzles it contained. Taken 3/19/21.
After switching internet providers and getting new cable run to our house, it was safe for Tom to begin reworking our patio. He worked on it a few rows of bricks at a time for weeks. Taken 3/20/21.
Our Mesa condo tenant, Ralph, often sends a recipe with his rent check so its fun to try them. This dessert recipe made with blueberries was quite tasty. Taken 3/20/21.
Hmmmm, this can't be good. First, we had to replace our water heater, then had to replace our water softener a week later, so we got to know our local plumbing company pretty well. Taken 3/22/21.
Debbie was a guest on a podcast on March 23 that was posted in April. Taken 3/23/21.
She later received a lovely thank you package from the hosts.
Carol sent us a fun puzzle about national parks. When we were done putting it together, we discovered a couple new parks that we needed to visit. Taken 3/24/21.
Tom leveled-up his baking even more by making calzones from scratch. Taken 3/25/21.
A year into the pandemic, we were still seeing our best friends regularly via Zoom. Taken 3/26/21.
While their parents went house-hunting, we spent time with our grandkids. We brought along The Ocho for them to see and we ended up spending a couple of hours in it. Left to right: Bennett, Kelly, Liam, and Johnny.
Johnny and Liam were able to play in the hallway space underneath the bed.
All four of the kids enjoyed creating artwork in the dinette.
Grandpa and Kelly spent some time playing with Barbies as usual. Taken 3/27/21.
Tom made croissants! He tucked some chocolate into a few of them too. Bliss! Taken 3/29/21.
When it was time to get our second vaccination shots, we were babysitting Johnny and Kelly.
So Gram Gram went in first to get her shot, then Grandpa went in. We set up a little playroom in the back of the van to keep everyone occupied the whole time. Taken 4/1/21.
Then we had a fun overnight with them. The next day, we made Shrinky Dink jewelry.
We also got our almost-annual pictures of the kids in Gram Gram's garden.
Only a few flowers were blooming, but the kids picked some daffodils to bring home to Mommy. Taken 4/2/21.
Our Claire was featured in the Phelan-McDermid Syndrome Foundation's April newsletter. This is a picture taken eight years ago, which is why it lists her age as 23.
We made a framed collage of photos to decorate Claire's room at her new group home.
While we were there, we saw that Claire had mangled the blinds next to her bed. She's got a history of doing this, but we wondered how to fix it.
The next day, Debbie spent 20 minutes untangling them and putting them back together again while Tom rearranged Claire's room so she couldn't reach them with her feet anymore when she's lying on her bed.
Here's our sweet little hurricane. Taken 4/4/21.
We returned to a surprise on our front porch. Sneaky Audrey and Dean had dropped off a box of chocolate-covered Twinkies for us! Taken 4/4/21.
On 4/5/21, we jumped in The Ocho and spent five days touring Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, collecting a few more state capitols, Merci Train boxcars, and national parks. Read all about it here.
While we were on our road trip, Claire had a virtual neurology appointment. We called in from Pennsylvania while Claire participated for a few minutes from her group home, with the assistance of staff. Taken 4/7/21.
Here's a cheesy bread loaf, baked by Tom. Taken 4/10/21.
Jill sent us this fun family photo. Even Jack the dog made it into the picture if you look closely. Taken 4/11/21.
Tom heads into his old office about once a month to visit and answer questions. Debbie makes him take pictures while he is there so we can keep making their annual photo collage even though Tom is retired. Taken 4/12/21.
Tom keeps busy in retirement with lots of different projects. Here's the chaos while he was in the middle of adding a new printer and a new scanner. Sounds easy but it involves streamlining a lot of cables hidden under the desks. It was very pretty when it was done but that's not nearly as interesting a picture. Taken 4/18/21.
Debbie finally realized that it was time to get rid of her family's 60-year collection of National Geographics, ranging from 1950 to 2010. It's been a very slow process because it turns out that there a lot of fascinating articles in them. At the rate we're going through them, we might have them all recycled by next year if we're lucky. Taken 4/19/21.
A month after starting the patio project, Tom had over half of it done. Now, it was time to dig up some bulbs and transplant some primrose plants to accommodate the newer patio size. Taken 4/19/21.
We love pretty winter scenes, but in April? C'mon! Taken 4/21/21.
It was a sad day when Claire's Liquid Habitats soap dispenser finally stopped working. So we bought two smaller clear soap dispensers, split up the little toy frogs and pebbles, and made two tinier versions of this - one for Claire and one for her niece and nephews. Taken 4/21/21.
Aloha! We hosted a virtual Blue Hawaii-themed virtual birthday party for Dean, complete with luau bingo and Blue Hawaii welcome cocktails, half of which was delivered to Audrey and Dean before the party. Taken 4/24/21.
The patio is done! We set up all of the furniture but waited to put the canopy cover on until we returned from our epic road trip in May. Taken 4/26/21.
Tom drove over to his mom's house in Dayton to help his brother and his mom spread mulch.
As usual, Tom was covered in mulch when they were done but he never seems to mind. Taken 4/27/21.
When Claire came home for an overnight visit, we thought she had taken her housemate's toy, but it turns out that her thoughtful caregivers bought her a toy just like it for her to keep.
Claire's first photo collage turned out so well that we made two more for the other walls in her room at her group home and put them up when we dropped her off after her visit.
Every picture features Claire with her family.
After dropping off Claire, we headed to Jill's house to help her get it ready to sell. Taken 5/1/21.
The next day, we came back to help again. Everyone's hard work paid off when the house was sold a week later. Taken 5/2/21.
We took a wonderful 25-day road trip in The Ocho in May, visiting Wisconsin, Minnesota, North & South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and Wyoming. Read all about it here.
Ooooh, Debbie's favorite clematis, Andromeda, was thriving in its relatively new location on the patio. Taken 5/30/21.
Our rhubarb plant was thriving as well, and Debbie tried a new recipe: rhubarb upside-down cake. It was delicious even if it wasn't very appetizing to look at. Taken 6/2/21.
It was our house's turn to get a mulch delivery, which is obvious from Tom's mulch-covered clothing. Taken 6/3/21.
Every time Claire comes home to visit, she gets to take a relaxing bubble bath. She was home on a Thursday night ...
... because she had a very early morning hospital appointment the next day.
Claire got an MRI done of her head, and had to be fully sedated for the 45-minute procedure.
She did very well, and had no problems once she woke up.
While Debbie and Claire were at the hospital, Tom was at home making his first attempt at a gluten-free loaf for Kelly to try. Taken 6/4/21.
The next day, Jill and Jared came over with the cutest grandkids ever to visit overnight. We had lots of fun in our luxurious 10' inflatable pool, which Tom set up in a hurry the day before.
At bedtime, all of the kids got baths and posed for an adorable picture in their pajamas.
After the kids were tucked into bed, the grownups headed to the basement to sample some Schilling ciders we had brought back from Minnesota and to play some rounds of Pit and Charty Party. Taken 6/5/21.
Morning came very quickly for Gram Gram, who was the one who got up when the kids did, serving breakfast in the basement and keeping them entertained until everyone else got up.
We finished the visit with a tasty lunch from Rackz. Taken 6/6/21.
We hadn't seen any Brood X cicadas in our area when they were emerging from their 17-year slumber so we went to Fort Harrison State Park looking for them. We definitely found them! Taken 6/8/21.
Tom decided to refinish a table of Jill's that we were storing for her while she was in the process of moving. Taken 6/9/21.
Refinishing went so well that he refinished our dining room table a week later.
Six days after Claire's MRI, we found her results on IU's patient portal, then went to IU to get a CD of the actual scans to see the findings for ourselves. After being diagnosed with 22q13 deletion in April 2020 and Ring-22 in September 2021, we knew there was a chance that she had neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2). Her MRI confirmed it, showing bilateral inner ear tumors, approximately 10 tumors in her brain lining (including two visible at the top of her head here), and a nerve sheath tumor outside the base of her skull. Fortunately, they are probably not malignant and none seem to be causing any side effects yet. This picture shows the two largest at the top of her skull. Taken 6/12/21.
Early in the year, we bought a large laminated map of the United States. We use it to help plan our road trips. We've placed stickers for places that it would be nice to include on a road trip, including state capitols we haven't photographed yet, Merci Train boxcars, Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, and national parks. When we've visited one of them, we remove the sticker. Here we are planning trips on Route 66 and US-1 for later this year. Taken 6/13/21.
We brought home several flavors of Schilling Cider on our last trip, which we occasionally enjoy in our 10' inflatable pool. Taken 6/15/21.
We took an overnight trip to Michigan in The Ocho, visiting Michigan's capitol and Merci Train boxcar. Read all about it here.
Greg and Luca stopped by for an early evening visit while they were out on a walk. Hard to believe that Luca is still a puppy and has more growing to do! Taken 6/17/21.
Mmmmm, Carbone's pizza. We brought home two frozen pizzas in May, so it was time to enjoy one. Taken 6/18/21.
We gave matching Star Wars summer clothes to our grandkids and they got a chance to wear them while on vacation in Branson, so Jill sent us this cute photo. Taken 6/21/21.
While on vacation in April, we discovered that Tom's beloved former neighbor's headstone in Ohio hadn't been updated since her death, so we arranged to have it done. The monument company was kind enough to send us a picture of the updated headstone. Taken 6/24/21.
Claire's room was starting to fill up with things she had acquired since living there. There's a canvas that the staff helped her paint, plus an Easter bag that contained new purple Crocs for her on Easter morning. Taken 6/26/21.
We saw a rock-paper-scissors sculpture in Gillette, Wyoming the previous month so it was time that we finally take a picture of our own rock-paper-scissors sculpture around the corner from our house. Taken 6/26/21.
We put down a deposit on a world cruise in 2023, so we marked up the large wall map in our kitchen with the route it will be taking. Each dot sticker marks a night of the cruise, with each month in a different color. Here's the South American and Pacific legs of the cruise.
Here's the South Pacific, Australia, and Asian portion, including an overland trip to Uluru (Ayers Rock).
Next are an overland tour to the Taj Mahal, then sailing to the Middle East and around Africa to the Mediterranean. Fingers crossed that it actually happens! (January 2022 update: it won't. We cancelled the trip because we didn't have faith that it will actually happen with the itinerary intact.) Taken 6/26/21.
Tom's next garage-based project was building a drink holder for our grand-dog, Jack. Taken 6/29/21.
As a result of Claire's neurofibromatosis 2 diagnosis, she had an appointment with an ENT doctor who is an expert in NF2 and does research on NF2 treatments.
Claire's hearing was tested by placing her in a sound booth while the technician played sounds out of different speakers. She demonstrated that she still had basic hearing despite the tiny tumors in both inner ear canals. Taken 7/1/21.
On his birthday, Tom brought birthday treats into the Device IQ office even though he doesn't work there, because he always enjoys seeing his friends.
That evening, we headed to Red Lobster for dinner so birthday boy Tom could fill up on calamari and crab fettucini. As always, we took a stack of food home with us to enjoy later. Taken 7/2/21.
But that wasn't the end of the birthday fun for Tom. He spent the entire rest of his birthday evening loading up a moving truck with furniture from our home ...
... to move into Jill and Jared's new house the next morning. Taken 7/3/21.
Jill, Jared, and Tom unloaded our moving van, Jill took Kelly to her ice skating lesson while Jared and Tom went to Jill's house to reload it and another moving van they were using. Gram Gram had the exhausting job of watching the grandsons in air-conditioned comfort at the new house. We played with puzzles, tossed pillows around, ate snacks, and made beautiful landscapes with stickers.
Jill and Kelly returned and ordered pizza while we waited for Tom and Jared to join us.
By late afternoon, the all-important TV had been moved in and it was time for some quiet time. We called it a day around dinner time after getting both trucks unloaded. Taken 7/3/21.
The next day, we were at it again. Tom and Jared loaded up their moving truck at Jared's house while Debbie and Jill were unpacking things at the new house. At some point, Chinese food appeared and was devoured. We headed home around 4:30 ...
... so we could get cleaned up and be downtown for Audrey and Dean's Fourth of July party ...
... in their fancy suite at the JW Marriott. It featured amazing views of downtown Indianapolis and the surrounding city.
We were joined by Derek and India and we had a great time.
In addition to seeing fireworks going off in every direction up to the horizon, we enjoyed the fireworks display at Victory Field ...
... and in downtown Indianapolis in a display set to music broadcast on WIBC. Look how pretty our capitol building looks! Taken 7/4/21.
The next morning, we were back at Jill and Jared's, unpacking and prepping for movers to deliver furniture from Jill's old house. By late afternoon, everything was moved in ...
... then we headed to Jared's old house to clean it. We enjoyed a fancy Mexican takeout dinner in the empty house before tackling the cleaning. Taken 7/5/21.
The next morning, we went to Jill's old house to clean it, meeting our house cleaner Tara there. She had also come to clean Jill and Jared's new house on Saturday morning before we started moving things in.
When we were done there, we headed back to Jill and Jared's to do some more projects. Tom installed furniture and shelving upstairs, ...
... while Debbie continued her organization of the basement. Taken 7/6/21.
Debbie's former stepsister Katy sent her another large box of family memorabilia. Debbie had a great time going through it all. This collection of things included Debbie's dad's school report cards, taxes, mortgage records of his houses, and lots of other fun things to be sorted and scanned.
One of the treasures was a complete set of Debbie's grandparents' memoirs in their original form - as six photocopied installments sent to their children each year for six years. These were the basis for the complete memoirs that Debbie published on their behalf in 2005. So Debbie immediately bought a comb binding machine ...
... to turn them into attractive booklets (after scanning them, of course). Taken 7/11/21.
We were riveted when Virgin Galactic's SpaceShip Two Unity entered space ...
... with four commercial astronauts onboard.
You've got to admit, that Sir Richard sure does know how to brand his products. Taken 7/11/21.
Tom headed down to Jill and Jared's house again to get some tasks done around the house. One of them was to plant some lovely hostas that Jill had brought from her old house. Taken 7/13/21.
We had a nice visit from Ariel and baby Jenna. Taken 7/14/21.
On Claire's birthday, we brought her home for a visit and to participate in a virtual appointment with her neurologist.
While Debbie and Claire were doing that, Tom was baking a Bundt cake to bring back to Claire's house for her birthday.
Claire got to play with her special birthday cake musical toy and bring it to her group home for a few days before it gets put back in storage for next year.
Claire's housemates celebrated her birthday with her after dinner. Taken 7/14/21.
Grandpa Tom was back on the job helping to assemble furniture at Jill and Jared's house. Fortunately, he was assisted by Kelly who used her own screwdriver. Taken 7/15/21.
Audrey and Dean came over to celebrate Tom's birthday a little later in the month than usual, bringing with them a bunch of fun whisk-themed birthday gifts and activities. Taken 7/17/21.
It was fun to see Jessica and David at a shower for their baby girl due two months later. Taken 7/18/21.
More rockets and human space flight! This time, it was Blue Origin's chance to bring billionaires into space. Taken 7/20/21.
We braved air travel for the first time since the pandemic started when we flew to the Bahamas for a week-long cruise. We stayed on the ship except for the two-day visit to Coco Cay, where we rented a private beach-front cabana the first day, ...
... and a private over-water floating cabana for our 25th anniversary the next day. Taken 7/26/21. Read all about the trip here.
When Debbie's former assistant Paige put out the call to give away free Orchard Software squishy fruit and toys, Debbie was happy to pick up a large box to share with therapists in the special needs community. Paige was kind enough to oblige Debbie's request for extra blue trucks for the grandkids in her life. Taken 8/3/21.
What do you do when you haven't seen your friends in person for over a year and three of them have had a birthday that ends in zero? You celebrate! Taken 8/9/21.
Tom finally was home long enough to put together his excellent space shuttle LEGO set, complete with a Hubble telescope that fits inside. Taken 8/11/21.
We had another fun pool day with the grandkids. This time, Gram Gram had four new sets of goggles for them to play with underwater.
After all of her pesky nephews and niece were out of the pool, Claire got to have some fun.
She played a couple of rounds of "Go Away - Come Back" with Mom, which always makes her smile.
When everyone was back inside and dried off, we played A Game of Cat and Mouth, which Audrey and Dean gave Debbie for her birthday. The kids loved it so much that they begged to take it home, where Jill reports they play it a lot. Taken 8/14/21.
Tom's next big summer project was regrading the former kitchen garden to turn it back into lawn, which involved moving a bunch of bricks, creating a new wall closer to the house, repositioning underground drainage tubes, and then seeding it all. Taken 8/16/21.
After a few more days of work, the project was complete and ready for grass seed.
We took off on what was supposed to be an 11-day RV trip to Iowa and Minnesota for Debbie's delayed high school reunion, but a broken air conditioner and blistering heat, followed by torrential rain with a leaky poptop sent us home after just four days. It was fun while it lasted, but enough was enough and we decided to sell our little RV. Read all about the trip here. Taken 8/23/21.
When your brother tells you about the latest tropical flavors of Mountain Dew and you show an interest, don't be surprised if a case of Mountain Dew shows up on your doorstep. Thanks, Doug! Taken 8/27/21.
One of the nice things about being retired is getting to go to the ramen restaurant the moment it opens in the morning. Tom does love his ramen and Debbie can't resist a sushi bento box. Taken 8/30/21.
We went down to our storage facility to pick up The Ocho one last time. We took it in for service to get the air conditioning and the leak fixed. Of course, Camping World declared the air conditioning was working as designed and they couldn't reproduce the leak, but it was worth a try. Or in the case of the leak, it was worth three tries, since that's how many times we unsuccessfully took it in for service. Mmmm, lemonade is delicious. Taken 9/1/21.
Tom decided to learn how to make pasta one day, so he did. It was tasty, but let's be honest, store-bought pasta is also tasty, so this probably won't become a regular occurrence. Taken 9/4/21.
The next day, Tom was back to baking. This time, he made a gorgeous chocolate babka loaf. Unfortunately, it didn't taste very good, but this was one of only a handful of failures among dozens of successes in his first year of baking. Taken 9/5/21.
Can it be? After a year and a half, Debbie had finally finished weeding, sorting, scanning, and processing four different deliveries of her cousin's family photos, slides, and scrapbooks. This stack of boxes doesn't even include the boxes that had previously been returned. Taken 9/6/21.
Claire was back at her ENT doctor's office for a follow-up appointment to get her ears cleaned out again.
Her mom took this opportunity to get a close-up shot of her beautiful hazel eyes. Taken 9/9/21.
We spent the rest of September on an East Coast road trip. We drove to the top of Maine and drove US-1 all the way down to Key West. Taken 9/13/21.
On our way out of town, we dropped off our RV to sell on consignment and it sold while we were on the road. Taken 9/21/21.
It took two weeks to reach Key West and we had a great time seeing all the cities and towns that US-1 goes through. Read all about the trip here. Taken 9/27/21.
We made it back just in time to celebrate Audrey's birthday with her at the Drury Inn. This year's birthday theme was pansies, one of Audrey's favorite flowers. Taken 10/1/21.
Dean's mother, Anna, had passed away while we were gone, so we were grateful to be able to attend her beautiful funeral service. Dean made a fantastic playlist of songs in her memory for us to enjoy. Taken 10/3/21.
Debbie's uncle Mark surprised her by sending her this vintage wooden gavel. It had belonged to her great-grandfather Harry when he was in the Wisconsin legislature in the 1930s and 1940s. Mark and his siblings had been rough on it by using it as a nutcracker for many years, but Mark gave it a little attention so it looked good as new again. Taken 10/3/21.
Dean's sister-in-law gave us her family recipe for cherry-chocolate cake, so Baker Tom gave it a try. It was his first buttercream frosting and the whole thing turned out great. Taken 10/5/21.
We returned from our East Coast trip to find the new grass seed in the back yard had filled in nicely. There was now a green lawn where there had been only dirt and wood chips the last few years. Taken 10/7/21.
Look at these adorable kids! Jill sent us this pictures of our grandkids - Kelly, Liam, Bennett, and John. Taken 10/9/21.
The next day, we got to see them in person. We got out the Halloween boxes and had some fun playing with the costumes inside.
We also did a Mountain Dew taste test of the three different flavors that Doug sent so we could report back with our opinions.
Kids get hungry and Gram Gram always has kid-friendly food around to get on the table at a moment's notice. Taken 10/10/21.
Four days later, we headed to their house to help watch the kids and do some projects around the house. John and Kelly helped Grandpa dig up a tree in the front garden that was going to outgrow its space very quickly.
When Liam and Bennett arrived, everyone spent some time playing and/or watching videogames in the playroom.
Once again, hungry kids need snack time. Taken 10/14/21.
We enjoyed a fun lasagna dinner evening with Karen, Jess, and Erin, but the only photo we got was this first clink when Karen first arrived. Taken 10/18/21.
Tom went to Dayton to see his mom and brother, and to eat some of his mom's delicious homemade minestrone soup.
As always, he came home with some vintage items, including these old Northmont Baseball shirts from his youth. Taken 10/21/21.
Another treasure Tom brought home was a box of cars that belonged to him and his twin brother, so we got them all out and sent photos to his brother. It was no surprise to find several identical pairs of cars in the mix, one for each twin.
We headed to Jill and Jared's house to celebrate Kelly's seventh birthday. She had a mermaid-themed party with shimmery cupcakes. All five of Jill and Jared's parents and one set of grandparents were in attendance, and we had a nice time being with them.
Meanwhile, the kids had a blast in the bounce house. Taken 10/23/21.
As he did every month, Tom went into his former office to say hello and to help out with anything they needed. Here, he is helping to setup colleague John's computer. Taken 10/26/21.
After an overnight visit, we returned Claire to her group home wearing her jack-o-lantern shirt for Halloween.
Meanwhile, her sister's family staged a photo shoot with their Halloween costumes: the Scooby Doo gang.
We were enjoyed Halloween by hanging out with our neighbors as we gave out candy. Nolan and Jack gave us their scariest poses while little Margaret toddled around in her adorable lion outfit.
We had to leave before trick-or-treating ended because we had to be in Chicago by the end of the evening. We were here to start our epic road trip on Route 66, which begins in downtown Chicago. Taken 10/31/21.
Eight days later, we were at the end of Route 66 on the Santa Monica Pier in California. Read all about the trip here. Taken 11/8/21.
We were in Kanab, Utah, when we had a chance to celebrate Liam's birthday with him over FaceTime. We had left his birthday presents with his family before leaving for our trip so he could open his presents with us. Taken 11/18/21.
After 20 months, we went to Claire's former day program to pick up her belongings. The day program was still closed, but some kind staff members let Debbie in to gather Claire's things, including extra clothes, shoes, bandanas, toys, and and batteries. Taken 11/23/21.
The salt and pepper shakers that Jill had modified for her high school sign language class were looking a little ratty, so it was time to peel off the paper labels, but not before taking a photo to remember them by. Taken 11/24/21.
Tom practiced making two batches of rolls before Thanksgiving, ...
... so the batch he brought to Jill's was absolutely perfect.
Even though all four of Jill and Jared's kids were there and we enjoyed seeing them, somehow only Kelly got photographed. Taken 11/25/21.
Claire spent Thanksgiving with her housemates at her group home, but came to visit us a few days later. Taken 11/28/21.
The next morning, we took her in for an eye exam since her group home requires an eye exam every two years. It's pretty tricky to truly check her vision, but the doctor said her eyes look healthy, so that's nice.
After dropping off Claire, we were thrilled to get our COVID booster shots as soon as we were eligible.
Next, we headed to the grocery store and picked up some important holiday items, such as Limited Edition White Hostess Snoballs, ...
... and Gingerbread Snap'd Mountain Dew, which Doug had told us about. It was surprising tasty. Taken 11/29/21.
Tom headed back to Dayton again to help his brother Mike move some of his belongings, having recently moved from Oregon to their mother's house. Taken 12/1/21.
The next day, we had mulch delivered as an experiment to see if winter-applied mulch slows down the appearance of weeds in the spring. We'll see. Taken 12/2/21.
When Claire's Winnie the Pooh electronic book toy broke at her group home while we were on vacation, and the backup toy wasn't there, her dad had to come to our house to get the extras we had stored away. As soon as we got home, we scoured eBay and bought seven more in addition to the six or seven extras we've bought previously. Our girl really, really loves her Winnie the Pooh. Taken 12/3/21.
It was fun to see Phil for the first time in almost exactly two years and we enjoyed finally meeting Whitney too. Taken 12/3/21.
We were honored to be invited to the annual Device IQ holiday party even though Tom no longer works there.
We had a delicious steak and seafood dinner with extra flamy dessert.
As always, Debbie made sure that everyone was photographed, especially the current group of employees. Taken 12/4/21.
The next day, we got prints made of all the pictures we had gathered at Device IQ over the past year, including the night before, and put together the 2021 collage. Sure, Tom doesn't work there anymore, but we have a tradition to uphold.
See how nice it turned out? Taken 12/5/21.
Poor Debbie! She had to drink the most disgusting concoction of Gatorade and Miralax for hours and hours to get ready for her colonoscopy the next day. Taken 12/6/21.
Everything went well and she was happy to learn she wouldn't have to have another one for seven years, which was a big improvement over the three-year gap since the last one. Taken 12/7/21.
Lucky Tom! All he has to do is sh*t in a Cologuard bucket every three years and drop it off at UPS instead of get a colonoscopy. He did it the same day as Debbie's colonoscopy in a show of solidarity. Taken 12/7/21.
Baker Tom learned how to make meringues, and made several different flavor/color combinations. From left to right: almond, mint, pineapple, and raspberry. Taken 12/8/21.
Jill helped all four tots (and dog Jack!) make garden stepping stones, just like she and her sister had when they were little, so Tom varnished them for her to protect them in the garden. Taken 12/9/21.
Our next-door neighbor John alerted us that Santa would be arriving in five minutes, and sure enough, fire sirens were blaring as a parade of municipal vehicles drove slowly up the street with all of their lights on and then some.
It was great fun seeing Santa and especially our littlest neighbors' reactions to seeing him. They had made him a sign and he stopped to thank them for it. So very cute! Taken 12/10/21.
Jill and Jared came over to celebrate Debbie's and Jared's birthdays, which are just five days apart. Tom made a multi-layer version of our new favorite chocolate cherry cake.
We played a fun new game, Do You Know Me? Poor Jill wasn't very happy about one of the things she knew about her mom. Hahahahaha! Taken 12/12/21.
We gave Jared a soup-themed assortment of gifts, and they gave Debbie a memoir-writing basket, complete with Debbie's favorite candy Junior Mints, Jill's favorite ballpoint pens, comfy slippers, and two books about writing memoirs. Time to get writing, Debbie!
Omicron was sweeping the nation and our Claire had been diagnosed with COVID two days earlier, so we took an at-home test to make sure we were okay, especially after attending a holiday party the week earlier. Negative!
Later on, we celebrated Debbie's birthday quietly at home. She opened birthday cards and presents in the evening and had a very relaxing day. Taken 12/13/21.
Claire's group home was under quarantine, with many of the residents testing positive for COVID, so we dropped off gifts for the staff by handing them through the door and waving through the window.
Later that evening, we celebrated Debbie's birthday with our wonderful friends, Audrey and Dean, over Zoom. It was a sock-themed birthday with sock puppet activities and a fun assortment of gift socks. Taken 12/17/21.
We decided to rearrange Jill and Claire's bedrooms, moving Jill's room's color scheme and furniture into Claire's, so Claire's would be more cheerful when she came home to visit.
Jill's room is larger so it now has the larger bed in it, and we opted for a grey color scheme which goes nicely with the vintage photographs and family tree on the walls.
This was all a good opportunity to finally organize our excessive linen collection. When we were done, the linens were moved to Jill's closet and organized perfectly, and we had stacks of linens and blankets to take to Goodwill and the Humane Society. Taken 12/18/21.
We needed to drop off some things for Jill so we met her at Kelly's ice skating lesson. Here are our beautiful girls getting Kelly's skates on.
That evening, we had a little holiday party with Jess, Tyler, Karen, Kris, and Erin. There was a beer sampler and Chinese food, ...
... a gift featuring a t-shirt for Jess that was drunkenly designed over a Zoom party last year (and blurred out for decency), ...
... heartfelt toasts required for every party guest, ...
... a white elephant liquor bottle exchange, ...
... and a hilarious game of Ransom Notes. Not pictured: a dip in the swim spa with later on. Taken 12/18/21.
Our little neighbor, Jack, stopped by with a box of goodies from his family, ...
... so we gave him a tour of our house. He was impressed by how many stockings we had up on the mantel. Taken 12/19/21.
Debbie's Aunt Carol was coming to visit so her Uncle Herb sent a tower of treats and a large gift box, both of which featured delicious pears and lots of goodies. Taken 12/20/21.
Carol arrived on Wednesday evening and we knew we had a lot of activities to get through before she left, so we started with Elmaro Winery's 12 Wines of Christmas and turned it into a guessing game. Of course, Carol won. Taken 12/22/21.
Tom made us delicious Swedish pancakes for breakfast the next morning.
With so many activities to get through, we wrote them all down, put them in a glass, and then pulled out a slip of paper each time we were ready to start a new activity. We did a fun donut puzzle that comes in a bag to sign and pass on to the next person (which will be Jill, with the goal of passing it around to all of our relatives).
Tom tried making lefse for the first time, but it didn't quite turn out. The strul (also known as krumkake) that he made before Carol arrived was very delicious though, so he gets Scandinavian points for that. Taken 12/23/21.
Among our Christmas eve activities were playing Careers, watching Hamilton, eating shrimp cocktail, and putting together this puzzle, which we all signed when we were done. Taken 12/24/21.
On Christmas morning, we watched the Queen's Christmas Address, ...
... then did COVID at-home tests to make sure we were all still fine before sending Carol on her way to see Debbie's Uncle Mark.
Claire's house manager sent us pictures of her and her housemates enjoying Christmas morning. Claire had received brand-new Christmas pajamas so she could look as festive as her housemates did.
We also received this picture of Jill and Jared and their four cuties, also in festive Christmas pajamas. Taken 12/25/21.
With Christmas Day behind us, it was time to put away the empty advent calendars. This season, we had enjoyed a wine calendar, a Bonne Maman jam calendar, and a chocolate calendar.
The day after Christmas, Jill's family came to celebrate Christmas with us. The kids ran through the house to check out all of the Christmas goodies.
We got a classic pose of the newly-engaged couple. Jared had proposed to Jill nine days earlier using her grandmother Irene's wedding set with a newer diamond. We are so happy to be gaining Jared as a son-in-law and to be able to officially call Liam and Bennett our grandsons, even though we've been doing it for over a year already.
Smile, everybody!
Getting four kids to pose nicely before opening their presents is nearly impossible.
The kids opened their presents and emptied their stockings, then they had one surprise left. You know that giant wooden box in the sunroom? The one that Grandpa said is just a box?
Well, it turns out that it is actually a giant hot tub with room enough for everyone! It's a good thing that we had new inflatable vests ready to go and that their swimsuits were already here. They were thrilled with their special Christmas surprise.
Jill gave us the Paqui One-Chip Challenge for Christmas, so we had to try it. We put our food safety gloves on, poured glasses of milk for each of us, and split the Carolina Reaper tortilla chip four ways. Then we ate our small chip portion and suffered for the next 30 solid minutes. A couple of hours later, Jared asked Jill, "Hey, remember when you tried to kill us with a chip on Christmas?" and we all laughed about it.
Meanwhile, Carol made it back home after visiting her brother, and sent us this picture of the Trempealeau catfish with its festive Santa hat on.
We opened our gifts from Doug and Susan, and Debbie immediately had to model her new Grogu pajamas to send to them. Star Wars fan Tom now finds Debbie irresistible. Taken 12/26/21.
A few days after Christmas, it was safe enough to visit Claire again. We brought her a brand new floor rug for her room and it looks great.
She had received a Christmas teddy bear from the house manager.
Tom had tried again to make lefse because Claire really loves it. This time it worked, and Claire got to have lefse fresh off of the griddle when she got to our house. Taken 12/29/21.
The next day, we took Claire to her doctor for her annual physical and to get her guardianship report signed as we have to do every two years. She alternated between walking around the exam room and cuddling on Mom's lap while we waited. Taken 12/30/21.
On New Year's Eve, we put together the Van Gogh Starry Night puzzle Debbie received from Doug and Susan for her birthday. Doing puzzles on New Year's Eve is a standing tradition from Debbie's childhood. It was especially appropriate that the puzzle was Starry Night as that was a favorite of her mother's, and this would have been her 80th birthday.
We had a fun evening exchanging gifts and toasting the New Year virtually with Audrey and Dean.
Happy New Year! Taken 12/31/21

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