Monthly Archives: August 2010


Our family just said a final goodbye to Grandma Smith.

For those of you who don’t know, our kids spent the night with her nearly every weekend. If we were out of town and they couldn’t stay over, she would ask us to bring them by the very day we returned. She spoiled them rotten with snacks, toys, outings to the park, movies, clothes, whatever she could afford on her fixed income. I myself was very protective of her, she knew it, and she used that to her advantage when she needed an enforcer.

Grandma was tentatively diagnosed with multiple myeloma only three weeks ago.

Three days later, she suffered a stroke. Laurel was with her at the time, and handled the emergency with the maturity and grace we expected.

None of us knew then how quickly her illness would take her. Only a few days later we received confirmation of the myeloma. Greg and his sister Becky had to tell Grandma her stroke and other medical conditions made the cancer untreatable and that it would be terminal.

Less than a week after that, we were summoned to the nursing home where she had been undergoing rehabilitation from the stroke. We held her hand, stroked her hair, and were blessed with the opportunity to tell her what she meant to us while she was still lucid and responsive. Some images I will never forget – Laurel courageously keeping vigil by Grandma’s side for hours is one of those.

The next morning, on August 25, 2010, she passed away.

She once told me that the only thing in life she ever wanted was to be the best grandma she could be.

And she was.

We miss her so.

laurel grandma


Two-point-five weeks ago we went to Chicago.

Yes. I know, I’ve not done any updating here. There are good reasons for that, more on it later.

We rode Amtrak and it wasn’t bad even though the QuikTrak Kiosk (Simply scan the barcode from your e-mail!!! Couldn’t be easier!!!) wasn’t working and the lovely ticketing agent blamed it on our printer. At 6 a.m.

In front of Greg.

Who knows better.

Then she kept screwing up and starting over so that we stood there for fifteen full minutes while the other ticketing agent cycled through others with the same issue like she was flipping through a deck of cards. Then she told us that on our return trip we would have to deboard the train in Springfield and ride a bus back to St. Louis because of high-speed rail construction.


Well, I really do want the high-speed rail.

We got to Chicago only a few minutes late and went to our condo where we were greeted with a big pile of dirty laundry in the bathroom. Nice, right? Oh, and lots of lamps didn’t work right, but the condo WAS in a fantastic location and we made the best of it.

We ate lots of pizza. LOTS of pizza. We visited the Museum of Science and Industry (even though I got us lost for a few minutes), the Shedd, Navy Pier, rode bikes along the shore, and generally wore ourselves out.

The return trip on Amtrak was FREEZING but otherwise uneventful, and at the last minute we were told that we wouldn’t have to deboard the train for the bus after all.

And there you have it:

We All Have Our Reasons.

Last night’s conversation included this little gem:

Michelle, puzzled: “Ethan, why are you wearing your sandals? We’re not going anywhere.”

Ethan, matter-of-fact: “Because I want to. And it’s Wednesday.”

Of course.

Are You Looking at my Head Gear?!


Today was a Very Big Day indeed.

You may remember Laurel pre-orthodontia:

Jacked-up teeth before

You might even remember how she looked immediately following affixation of the braces:

Jacked-up teeth after

But today, after 8 long months, Laurel’s braces came off…


and she celebrated with bubblegum and popcorn.


But it’s not over yet. Now she has head gear. But if anyone can rock the head gear, Laurel can rock the head gear. Observe:

Head gear is here!

And now she can be like Shelly: