Tuesday, February 10, 2009

On to Austin

The second half of our January Texas interlude was to Austin. But the trip began with a visit to the Blue Bell Ice Cream factory halfway between Houston and Austin. Alice and Martina met there for the grandparent exchange and we all visited the factory and sampled the delicious ice cream. Mmmmmmmmm... We were so busy enjoying our treat at the end of the tour that I forgot to photograph it.

Andrew and Ella are sick of touring and want to know when they get to the ice cream!

That's Mia riding the cow home being led by the little bronze girl and Grace. Moo...

Sophie, Grace, and Mia stand in front of the old ice cream delivery truck. It looked in better shape than our two cars -- certainly a lot shinier.

In Austin we spent a week mostly lounging around, playing games, reading stories, and just enjoying each other's company.

Here Ashley is counting her marbles, the reward for doing chores, etc. that can be cashed in for money. Want to share some with Gramma please?

We took both Ashley and Jonathan out for breakfast on different days. Here's Jonathan enjoying an alien pancake at Denny's with a big hot chocolate on the side. The gal who served us was originally from Pittsburgh and was familiar with one of our favorite restaurants, D.J.'s in Weirton, OH that serves the best ribs and potato skins on the planet. Small world! We're always striking up conversations with folks who turn out to be connected. On one trip to Houston we were served by a retired schoolteacher at a dinette in Louisiana. He was from Wheeling, Larry's home town, and had gone to school and been best friends with one of Larry's cousins. That was eerie -- what are the odds?

And here's Andrew enjoying a chocolate yogurt. I'm curious...Is the enjoyment measured by the degree of yogurt that ends up on the face and body? Bathtime!

Paige and I had a great time doing jigsaw puzzles together. I love them and so does she. We did four before she moved on to other activities. And isn't she as pretty as Jasmine? You gotta love that angelic expression.

And here's why these kids are so good looking -- our son Neil and daughter-in-law Martina. We had a nice outing together to Roy's in Austin which is just about the nicest restaurant I've ever eaten at. The food is Hawaaian and served in real style. I didn't take my camera unfortunately or I would have taken a picture of the dessert, a chocolate souffle filled with molten chocolate. Did I say I'm a choc-o-holic?

And I had to include a picture of cleaned-up Drew. Isn't he a cute little guy. We joke that he looks like a troll doll I have, but the doll is really cute so it's no insult. I think calling him an elf is a better image. He definitely has cute little elf ears. Miss you, Drew!

A highlight of our trip was going to lunch with a dear priest, Fr. Robert Bradley, who lived in our parish in Alexandria when he was the chaplain to the Poor Clares. He is still active and shepherds the Latin Mass community at the Cathedral of St. Mary's. We were so pleased to see him looking so well although he's having some sciatic nerve problems which can be miserably painful. Please keep him in your prayers. When I'm critical of the Jesuits I always thank God that I know a wonderful one in Austin. As long as there are a few I have hopes the order won't die out completely. St. Ignatius, pray for them, especially your faithful servant Fr. Bradley.

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