Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hunter's hosting tonight...

Hunter created and hung his party streamers to get the party started. Stay tuned for the evening's events.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bein' in the Banyan

We took our readers to the banyans on the boulevard in downtown Venice. Of course, climbing took precedence but after 54 picture poses, Hunter and Blake settled on the bench to prove their reading skills and escape to word worlds.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Crow's Nest

Becky here in Venice, Florida. Last night we celebrated our time together by dining at the Crow's Nest, a popular, high-end bayside marina and restaurant. While there, the table next to us asked us to take their picture; they returned the picture-taking favor to us. Two of their party had sailed from New York (they started their southward sail two months ago, stopping along the way to sleep and have some fun) with a goal of reaching relatives in Venice. We were invited aboard their ship. It was dark but I did my best to get a few shots of their Christmas (red sails) ride.

G-Whiz, It's Christmas Day 2008

Roused early by two boys, we opened presents on the lanai. We had to keep the gifts small and flat for travel so many of them were gifts of day trips. First gift trip up the next day: The G-Whiz Museum in Sarasota, hosted by Blake. We spent several hours there unwinding puzzles, solving problems, creating and learning lots of things. Blake came out saying, "I learned I didn't know everything!"

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Thanks, Kathy and Jeff

Christmas Eve 2008 was made extra special with the handmade gifts of pajamas and "I Spy" books for Hunter and Blake from Kathy and Jeff in Alaska. After church at the Venice Theatre (Emmanuel Lutheran is getting a makeover so it wasn't ready for services), we adjorned to the lanai and backyard for dinner and a Red Velvet "stacked cake" that Hunter made. After Hunter read the Christmas Story, the boys opened their gifts from Alaska and spent the rest of the evening wearing what they said were "comfortable" (feels good on the skin) flannel jam-jams. Thanks, Kathy, for your continued stitching. We love it that you're keeping up Grandma's pajama tradition.

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas Eve.

Monday, December 22, 2008

We Wish You A Merry Christmas!!!!!

Hey everyone, Becky and Al here from Venice, Florida. For sweet end-of-the-year moments, we and our adorable grandsons brought cookies to our neighbors. We would have brought them to you if you'd been in our neighborhood.....oatmeal cookies with cranraisins, sugar cookies, and chocolate chip cookies...nothing really unusual but cookies filled with love and wishes for your good health and peace on this erupted earth. We were received by our neighbors with elegant grace, tips for the best place to find shark's teeth (Nokomis Beach), and best wishes for the next new year.
Merry Christmas to You...and as Blake sings, "Santa Baby, hurryin' down the chimney tonight!"

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Peppermint sticks and sugarplums...

Becky here. Gingerbread seems to be the theme this year. It all started with Blake's graham cracker house at school the day before he got on the plane with his Mom and a popular sports hero, Leonard (ISU football players don't want their full names used).

Here are a couple gingerbread houses we built and decorated to make the Shamrock House a happier place...don't you love how the tree was topped off by a hungry little mouth?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Thank you Adam and Kim

Adam and Kim came home from Florida with the holiday spirit. Saturday night they invited the Underwoods to their house for a Christmas celebration.
Luck has it, after several days of snow and cold, the air warmed up, the snow melted and we enjoyed an evening of 50 degree weather out in the little white house.
Adam and Kim decorated for a Blue Christmas as they had just come back from the blue skies and water that we are getting ready to leave for. Blake read a book to Adam and Kim (one they game him as a Christmas present) and Hunter sang the President song for Kim as she is a history buff.

Next, we feasted on pork loin, boiled veggies, rolls, salad and sparkling Blueberry wine (Peach juice for the boys). We finished off with a super chocolate brownie and pumpkin pie for the less brave souls.
We didn't stay long as we had to scurry off to the envening's entertainment.

Blake and Hunter may have been the youngest guests at the sold out Mannheim Steamroller concert in Des Moines that evening, but they were not the least attentive or poorest behaved.
We all really enjoyed the concert. It was the perfect evening for us all.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Waiting for the boys...

To Hunter and Blake: Can't wait until you get here so we can pick out a Christmas tree.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Countdown to Florida

The shrine the boys are buiding on the mantel with the Florida Postcards they get every day is almost done. That must mean we are getting close!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Becky here. We spent Kim and Adam's last morning at the Venice Airport where a Fly-In was happening. A fly-in resembles a car show where visitors can examine sports planes close-up and consider buying one. There are raffles and air demonstrations and plenty of tarmac food. Serendipitously, Adam bumped into Eric, his old friend and flight instructor, and they had a chance to catch up. Eric now works for a flying service that taxis rich and famous people around central Florida. John Travolta was his first customer.

I tagged along with my camera not understanding much of what I was seeing, except for the colors...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Ultimate Challenge

The new school year brought many interesting new things for the Underwood boys.

During conferences we found out Blake is VERY social and a whiz with Math and Science. He has become the teachers helper in math. Mostly because he was getting bored and either talking to the other kids or drawing little tiny pictures on his papers. Mostly Pokemon characters. We have our own museum. Since his plan is to go to college to play baseball and be an architect we decided he is right on plan. Here is Santa.

When we visited Hunter's teacher the first thing she said was, "Hunter is such a sweet kid" we listened thinking, okay. Then we found out he is also a math whiz, but is on his own clock. We knew that. Never try to rush Hunter, it will not be worth it.

Back at the beginning of the school year they both came home excitedly waving sign up sheets for the school chess club. We signed them up and ever since a week hasn't gone by without a good chess match at our house.

So I guess it should not be a surprise that the utlimate object of their desire was the NEW! LEGO Castle Giant Chess Set. It has 2481 pieces and can actually be used to play chess.

Assembling the ulitmate chess set takes extra time, patience and orgnizational skills. First they had to assess the contents. Then they needed better working conditions (table and chairs)

Then they sorted the pieces into like piles. Then one page and one piece at a time they began to assemble. They are two days into it and they are about half way to game time.

Meanwhile it is freezing and snowy outside and they have no idea.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thanks, Kim and Adam!

Wow, what a couple of fast-paced days we did! Kim and Adam treated us to a two-day extravaganza of entertainment in Orlando. I'm poring over my pictures to show you but I was unable to do the visual experiences justice.

Day One: Orlando's Museum of Art, a Christmas walk-about in downtown Winter Park that ended with an evening in The Wine Room where we tasted rare and not-so-rare wines, a flight of cheeses and charcuterie. Delightful! Kim happens to be a marvelous travel planner.

Day Two: Disney's Hollywood Park gave us glorious experiences borne of the movies--fires, storms, crashes, towers of terror, music and other sounds, shows, rides, Christmas lighting beyond all Christmas lighting, and an evening lighting fantasmagoria starring Mickey.

Please accept my humble display shots from a pretty poor digital camera just can't capture so much ACTION!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Where did November go?

November flew by and we only managed to take two pictures all month.

This is Blake handing out programs with his Best Friend (#20) Carl. They had their First Communion that day.

Hunter and Blake's First Communion.
Everything went well and no one had to drink the yucky wine, they had grape juice - Whew!
Our Thanksgiving was very traditional. We had turkey, ham, noodles, potatoes, beans, jello, cranberry sauce, pecan pie, pumpkin pie and apple pie. There was much more, but it is hard to recall it all.
The highlight was Hunter singing to the tune of Yankee Doodle Dandy all the of Presidents from Washington to Obama in less than 2 minutes with only 3 stops to take a breathe. Try it, I bet you can't do it.
Dave's dreams all came true last night as Hunter and Blake joined the pee wee Valley Tigers Wrestling Team. Not only does he now have two little wrestlers to nurture and grow, but one of them was singled out (of 120 kids) on the first night as an example to follow. They were all very proud after their first night. Photos in the future.

Into the Cockpit

Landon's on his way home from Ireland. He was invited to sit in the cockpit of the Aer Lingus plane.