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Will had his first communion today. This is father Joe and the first communicants along with their religious education teachers including Mama who co-taught the class.
All the family including Uncle David and Aunt Catherin with Father Joe.
The Danz family.
Will's proud family with Father Joe.
Will and the Blessed Mother in front of Saint Benedict.
The banner Will and Mama made together.
Finally, we celebrated Will's first communion at home with a cookie Mama decorated and some gifts for the special young man.
This photo of my grandfather and me is one of my favorites. With Donelda in town for Will's birthday, we took the opportunity today to visit family in Goltry that we hadn't seen in a while. We dropped by the farm to pick up a gate my grandfather made (subject of a future post) and took the opportunity to recreate the photo.
Me, Drew, Will and Landon. Same building in the background, just the garage doors have been replaced...along with the passage of more than 40 years.
A more scenic view of the farm as a background.
Aunt Donelda joined in. All of my grandparents' progeny.
We had two miscarriages before we were immeasurably blessed with our three boys. Recently our church bought new missalettes and hymnals. For a small contribution, parishioners could put a dedication in the front.
We dedicated two books to Baby Danz. Today after mass, we broke up into groups and started searching the hundreds of books in the pews. About half way through, Drew found one. We didn't keep searching for the second. We moved the one we found to the pew we sit in most often and have enjoyed seeing it occasionally since then.
Twin cousins Caroline and Charlotte were baptized today. (Technically they are Mary and my nieces and our boys' cousins, but I write this blog in my head for and from our boys' perspective, so I call them our cousins.) Here the girls are being blessed with the sign of the cross.
Msgr. Thomas Tank, pastor of Church of the Ascension, welcomes the babies being baptized and asks what the parents request from the church, "Baptism."
Caroline is baptized while held by her parents, Michelle and Matt, with big sister Gillian in the foreground. Caroline's Godparents, her Uncle David and Aunt Mary, look on in the background.
Charlotte is baptized in the arms of her father with her Godmother holding her hand as Michelle and her Godfather watch closely.
The proud parents, Michelle and Matt, with their beautiful girls, Caroline and Charlotte, and Godparents.
The beautiful Madison Family, Michelle, Caroline, Gabe, Gillian, Matt and Charlotte.
The happy parents at the conclusion of the ceremony with Caroline and Charlotte.
This weekend we all went up to Kansas City to see the boys' two month old twin cousins: Charlotte Gianna and Caroline Faith.
The new cousins were the center of attention. No, I'm not even going to pretend that I can tell them apart.
Drew giving some love to one of his new cousins.
Will did a great job holding his new cousins too.
Landon was even a natural when it came time to hold one of his new cousins.
Gabe and his new sister.
Will taking another turn...I believe with the other new cousin.
Drew administering some paci love.
Mary and one of he new nieces.
Will with Aunt Michelle and a cousin.
Uncle Matt and one of his newest daughters.
Six and a half years ago we caught a giant one-eyed frog roaming our house (Drew right). Tonight, after the boys had their bath, we found another one (Landon top).
Drew was 2 years and 2 months old then and Landon is 3 years and 4 months old.
This evening, just as the sun started to set, I asked Aunt Donelda if she had gotten any pictures with her nephews during her visit. She said she had not. So, with the boys barefoot but still in their Sunday clothes, we ran out into the backyard, grabbed a chair off the patio and placed it in the grass where I thought the light and background might be good and snapped off a few photos which came out great. This just might be one of the best photos of Aunt Donelda and her nephews.
Will and I resting together on a quiet Sunday afternoon.
Missing tooth boy, Will, was all smiles at the dinner table tonight most likely in long anticipation of his upcoming birthday celebration.
I just wanted a simple picture of Will smiling but he wouldn't be serious and give me a "normal" smile until the end. When I later checked my pictures on the computer...I saw that they had all turned out great...except the one where he smiled like I wanted. It was the only non-Will in the bunch.
Will, Landon and Drew after church today.
This is the last day Aunt Donelda is in town so we made sure to take some family photos.
The Danz family!
"Smile for the camera." "We are smiling." "I don't see a smile...smile for the camera." "We are smiling." Repeat to hilarity.
Aunt Donelda and her three nephews...Huey, Dewey, and Louie a/k/a Will, Landon and Drew.
This weekend we all drove up to Kansas City to visit the cousins. On the way up we stopped for a break as a relatively new rest stop 40 miles north of the Oklahoma/Kansas border on 169 where it crosses 400, North of Coffeyville, Sourth of Chanute. The caretaker, who was in the process of keeping the facilities spotless, mentioned that he had raised the flags that morning and that he thought they looked pretty good. I couldn't agree more.
I took this while we were waiting for a table at Houston's on the Plaza in Kansas City. It is already one of my favorite pictures. At first glimpse, it doesn't look like much. But, on closer examination, you can see so many different layers which are combined with the contrasting vertical and horizontal elements. You can see inside the restaurant (through Landon and me), the horizontal blinds with their vertical ladders are just inside the glass, the Houston's logo on the glass, Landon and me on the sidewalk, parked cars on the street, a motion blurred SUV next and buildings in the background. Additionally, there are the contrasting brick patters between the sidewalk and the building across the street along with the six circles scattered throughout the image. I think it's a really interesting composition.
The cousins after a terrific lunch: Drew (7), Landon (22 months), cousin Gabe (2), Will (4 1/2) and cousin Gillian (3 1/2).
Earlier this year in May, we had our formal family photos taken at Woodward Park by a friend of Mary's, Carrie Richardson Fry of Carrie R. Richardson Photography. From that session, we got one of the best pictures of the boys to date: Will (3), Drew (6) and Landon (13 months). I couldn't be more proud.
It seems almost impossible with three boys the ages of ours to get a photo where everyone is looking at the camera with a really great expression. While this photo is not perfect, it might be the best overall picture of our family. There are three more after the jump to show how hard it is to pick out the "best" one.
Landon recently started feeding himself.
Landon's new nemesis...his spoon.
Open mouth and...it usually goes in.
I shall conquer you spoon! After the jump...the end of the meal.
Oh yeah, this was easier than I thought it would be.
I finished feeding myself Mama.
Another milestone accomplished!
I was home early today and it was really nice outside so I though I'd take the boys out in the backyard for some pictures. This one came out pretty good, if not a little boring.
To create a more interesting picture, I told the boys...who already weren't too excited about taking pictures...to turn toward each other and smile. And, this is what I got. Truly, a couple of boys. The photo taking went downhill from there.
Landon loves to help out his older brother when they are playing on the family iPhone.
Landon won't hesitate to point out a great move.
Landon celebrates another victory!
Drew doesn't need as much help.
But, Drew is just as much fun to watch.
The screen is kind of small so sometimes you have to get real close!
Aunt Donelda is in town for Will's fourth birthday. You wouldn't think a simple photo with everyone smiling and looking at the camera would be that hard...you (and I) would be wrong. In fact...*cough* *cough*...you won't exactly find this particular photo in our photo library.
Three awesome brothers simply being all brotherly...and in need of haircuts (next post).
Mama spotted a wild bear on the loose today! Luckily it just turned out to be Landon after a bath. Below, the little guy can just barely crawl and he's all about pulling up to see what his big brothers are having so much fun doing. Landon's figured out the best toys aren't on the ground!
[Update: I've been told that I don't know the difference between a wild bear and a puppy dog. I suppose the floppy ears do give it away. Whatever.]
Just a great photo of three year-old Will being himself.
After church and lunch today, Will, Drew and I bundled up for some fun time enjoying Tulsa's latest 6 inches of snow. Unfortunately, it was too cold to make a snowman, the snow just wouldn't clump together well enough. But, we were still able to make some snowballs, have a snowball fight, and run around doing all kinds of silly stuff. In the end, we were all cold and tired and had a great time!
With Drew's napping days long gone and Will moving into an every-other-day habit, Landon has become my newest napping buddy.
I turned the corner to see 8 month old Landon looking at a cloth book, properly oriented, propped up against a stuffed toy...apparently reading. I exclaimed, "Ha! Caught you, you can read can't you?!" Of course, Landon resumed his ruse of being a typical infant with no plans for world domination by babbling, rolling over and drooling. Nice try Stewie, I'm on to you!
Our own little Baby New Year, Landon (8 months), on New Year's Eve 2009.
Landon looking toward the new year.
Will (3) and Drew (6) on New Year's Eve 2009.
Note: the photos are not photoshopped, rather they were taken with a star shaped filter I made. More information can be found here.
From Landon, Drew and Will and the rest of the Danz family, have a very merry Christmas!
Will, Landon and Drew visiting Santa Claus.
Our Christmas tree this year is just a little bit bigger than "normal." It's a little wider and I had to trim quite a bit to get the star properly wedged against the 10 foot ceiling. After the jump, a bonus picture of the boys with Santa.
Landon checking out Kris Kringle.
It is Christmas Eve and all through the house not a creature is stirring...except Landon who is so excited about Santa coming that he can't keep his tongue in his mouth!
Today was the annual raking of the leaves and, this time, I had two "helpers." Rake two piles, leaf-vacuum one, rake two piles, vacuum one.... Once I realized a photographic opportunity was at hand, I ran and got the camera. The result was one of my favorite pictures I've ever taken, Drew in flight and Will close behind. For the curious, the exif data reports: Canon EOS Rebel T1i (500D), Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens, 1/250 sec, F8.0, ISO 800, 18.00mm, no flash, auto exposure.
Will and Drew sitting in the leaves.
I couldn't decide which of these two photos I liked best, so I posted both.
Mary took it upon herself to try and herd cats today and...amazingly enough...got an awesome picture of the three boys, all of them looking at the camera!
With the boys out numbering Mama three to one during the day, Drew has stepped up to be a huge help in taking care of Landon when Mama needs a few minutes to get something done. Looks like the little guy is in good hands!
Today we attended the wedding of Sheena Bier and Thomas Shaughnessy at the Basilica of Saint Louis, King, The Old Cathedral, near the St. Louis Gateway Arch.
It was a beautiful wedding ceremony attended by many friends and family.
The new Mr. and Mrs. Shaughnessy.
Cousin Gabe wasn't particularly excited by the day's events.
Will, with his classic "Will look," was quite enamored with his cousin Gillian.
Click on "Continue reading" for many more family pics and the boys tearing up the dance floor.
Drew and Will just killing time in front of the church.
The Madison family, Matt and Michelle holding Gillian and Gabe.
All of the Madisons, all of the Danzes and some of the Youngmans.
Landon and cousin Gabe hanging out at the reception after the wedding.
Aunt Catherine and cousin Gillian.
Cousin Gillian and Mary.
Aunt Michelle and Uncle Matt.
After so much seriousness and good behavior, you just have to break out the silly!
Mama and Drew tore up the dance floor.
Drew used his new found dance skills with his cousin Gillian.
Will wasn't about to let Drew have all the fun.
Will shows Gillian his moves, this is how you tear up the dance floor!
Will soon graduated to some serious break dancing moves.
Long time friends, the Shaughnessys and the Youngmans.
Madisons, Danzes, Shaughnessys and Youngmans.
Landon in the loving arms of Grandma Youngman.
Grandma must have said something funny!
Three brothers: Will, Landon and Drew.
Mama and Daddy with their three sons, Landon, Will and Drew.
Aunt Donelda came to visit for an extended weekend with the boys to coincide with Will's third birthday. The boys took advantage of the situation to show off their latest video game accomplishments. Video games are always more fun with someone watching you!
Aunt Donelda discusses one of the finer points of Chutes and Ladders with Drew and Will. They are playing on the exact same board that Aunt Donelda and Daddy played on when we were kids.
Landon loved spending time with Aunt Donelda and was perfectly content to have her feed him lunch.
Will, Landon and Drew with Aunt Donelda.
Gabe was all smiles while being anointed with the oil of chrism.
The Godparents, Michelle's sister Angela and Matt's brother Josh, joined in for the baptism.
More photos of the ceremony, reception and family after the jump.
Proud parents Matt and Michelle and Father Francis Hund look over newly baptized Gabriel Paul Madison.
Reception afterward was held at Art Source & Design.
Mother and child, Michelle and Gabe, share a moment.
Gabe, Michelle and Grandma Youngman.
Uncle Matt in a classic pose.
Drew and Will looking handsome for the baptism.
Matt, Gillian, Michelle, Grandpa Youngman, Gabe and Grandma Youngman.
Kids: Josh, Gillian, Gabe, Emma, Drew, Will and Landon. Adults: Mike, Angela, Matt, Michelle, Don (me), Catherine, Jim, Lorraine and Mary.
It's bath time for Landon.
"Yeah, this is fun!"
"OK, I've had enough."
All the cousins were in town today for an impromptu family get together.
Cousin Gabe was not pleased with me taking his picture.
In fact, he was quite upset with the whole process.
"Just come a little closer Uncle Don, and I'll knock that camera right out of your hands!"
Cousin Gillian doesn't mind being photographed and showing off the most beautiful eyes in the world.
Testing the waters of Ma and Pa's backyard pool.
The seven cousins: Drew holding Landon, Josh holding Gabe, Will, Emma and Gillian.
Pa and Ma and their seven grandchildren: Gillian, Landon, Drew, Gabe, Josh, Will and Emma.
Drew is very helpful with Landon when the little guy needs some comforting while Mama is busy.
Will and Landon are napping partners (Elmo too!).
Is there anything more peaceful than a baby sleeping?
Three brothers: Will, Landon and Drew.
We are really fortunate that the boys get along with each other so well. Both Drew and Will have been nothing but loving, kind and protective of Landon since day one.
We've been experimenting with using my old Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 Lens manufactured in 1987 with our new Canon EOS Rebel T1i/500D. The lens with a 1.8 f-number/focal ratio has a much larger aperture which creates a shallower depth of field than the kit lens which came with the Rebel T1i. Sometimes it creates problems in automatic modes by blurring portions of the picture you want sharp, but when it works, it works great!
Landon being held by Mama outside in the shade. You can see the very shallow depth of field as Landon's eyes are sharp but, just an inch or two farther away from the camera lens, his ears are blurred.
Landon inside, much more relaxed, getting some supplementing formula from Mama.
Will a/k/a Mr. Uncooperative, doesn't always like to play the part of a willing subject.
This is a classic "Will" expression.
I love this picture of Drew! Taken outside in the direct sunlight without a fill-in-flash. His expression is perfectly natural. A lot of times pictures don't really capture precisely what a person ordinarily looks like but this picture really does.
Joey, unfazed by my late night camera settings experimentation.
I believe he's thinking, "Enough with the pictures already."
Landon and Mama came home from the hospital just before midnight Sunday. Landon was on lights here at home Monday and Tuesday and now, finally, things are back to normal. Well, at least as normal as a home can be with a newborn, 2 1/2 and 5 year old running around. With the first two sons, I got the reputation as a baby hog. I've missed way too much time holding our latest edition. Time for some serious male bonding.
I kept thinking the photo should somehow be better. I don't know if I've accomplished "better" but here's another try.
Aunt Donelda stayed with us for a whole week, Saturday to Saturday. After Drew and Will's soccer practice this morning we all had lunch (except Mary and Landon who are still in the hospital), followed by Aunt Donelda taking off on the long drive back to Illinois. Thanks for all the help!
The joke is that we only know how to make one model child, identical looking males, healthy in all regards except problems latching and with high bilirubin. It is this last characteristic that is causing the trip back to the hospital with our little Umpa Lumpa.
Our first, Drew, was under light therapy at home for about a week. Will had high levels but just missed out on the fun. Although, he got to go back to the hospital too when mommy came down with an infection. Landon was on lights at the hospital and they thought the levels were such that he could continue treatment at home. However, despite being on the home lights all night and all day, his levels shot up so high that he had to go back to the hospital where they continued to rise. They were so high, that the possibility of a transfusion was discussed if the trend continued.
Fortunately, after a day of rising levels, things started to slowly drop back down. Since, I'm writing this after the fact, I can tell you that Landon and mommy had to stay in the hospital from Thursday to Sunday. This was followed by two more days of lights at home before we got our healthy "pink" baby back.
In the hospital, Landon and his teddy bear both wore shades to protect their eyes.
Drew was very compassionate and comforting to Landon.
Landon in his car seat at the hospital all ready to go home where Aunt Donelda, Drew and Will are anxiously awaiting.
Drew welcoming his newest little brother home.
Will is introducing Landon to Elmo and Yoda.
Drew, Will and Landon and Landon's welcome home gift a fun-with-foam picture frame Aunt Donelda and the boys made for him.
Thing 3 and Thing 2 are sure going to miss their Aunt Donelda when she leaves.
Did you say you wanted to see more pictures of Landon? Well, here you go...
Baby Landon in his St. John newborn bassinet along with his first teddy bear.
Landon in his Sweet Pea outfit ready to be photographed for the hospital's website.
The amazing Mary and her newest son Landon.
The proud daddy holding his newest son Landon.
Aunt Donelda who's in town for a whole week taking care of Drew and Will while mommy and daddy are at the hospital.
Aunt Catherine affectionately known simply as "Aa" to all Danz boys under four years of age.
Grandma Youngman holding Landon in the most experienced arms of us all.
Grandpa Youngman holding the youngest of his now seven grandchildren.
A very fortunate Landon with two wonderful grandparents.
Oldest brother Drew holding his new little brother Landon.
Drew is very proud to have another little brother.
Will is very excited to have a little brother.
Will has the best of both worlds, he is a big brother and a little brother.
My three sons...or, the Three Musketeers...Drew, Landon and Will.
At 12:46 p.m. today, Landon Walter Danz joined the world weighing in at 7 lbs, 10 oz and measuring 19 3/4 inches long/tall. Both Mary and Landon are doing wonderfully!
Will and Drew meet their new baby brother Landon for the first time.
All the Danz men together getting to know each other.
A springtime snowstorm dumped about 6 inches of snow on Tulsa today, breaking an 83-year-old record. According to the National Weather Service, the previous record for the heaviest snowfall after March 21 in Tulsa was 3 1/2 inches on March 31, 1926, and since then, the city hasn't had more than 1 1/2 inches of snow after March 21. Nine Oklahoma counties, mostly in the northwest part of the state, reported approximately two feet of snowfall. In order to potentially get federal money, Gov. Brad Henry declared a State of Emergency for 50 counties including Tulsa...you know, because the federal government should send us money because we got 6 inches of snow. (Yes, our governor is an idiot and, yes, the entire system is broken.)
Drew and Will were all bundled up to play in the snow...the very wet snow.
Together, we made a giant snowman while it was snowing and blowing fiercely.
Posing with our creation. Mr. Snowman has Nilla wafer eyes and a carrot nose. Unintentionally, he also has a hula skirt due to the wet snow picking up the dormant grass. After the jump, Drew takes advantage of Daddy turning his back.
Daddy turns his back for second and Drew finds a giant snowball to throw my way.
Rocket-arm Drew releases a fastball strike right on target.
Revenge is a dish best served cold...cold like a huge snow-boulder knocking Drew into the snow. (Which was so fun, he insisted I do it several more times.)
Will, Snowman and Drew after their day in the record setting snow. I don't know why they are leaning, but they are definitely foreshadowing the events to come...and the next post.
This morning, Drew said: "Something's poking me in my mouth."
Sure enough, something was poking him alright...Drew's first adult tooth.
Mama took the boys to the park last week they had the whole place to themselves. (That's Spider-man on their t-shirts.)
Will showed off his mastery of the curved rock climb.
And, Drew showed off his mastery of the vertical rock climb.
We've been slowly...very slowly...going through things that we acquired from my Grandmother's house. This is me just a year and a half old with my Grandfather "Spiv" Buller taken in 1967 when my mother's parents came to visit us while we were living in Holland.
Gabriel Paul Madison was born today to Aunt Michelle and Uncle Matt! From their website A day in the life...:
Gabriel was born at 11:22 PM on March 3, 2009 (a square root day, as it was affectionately called). He weighs 8 lbs. 5 oz. and is 20" long. Mom is doing beautifully, and was (once again) a champ through delivery. The nurses kicked visitors out around 11:10 and Gabriel was born a mere 12 minutes later. Quick indeed.
CONGRATULATIONS Matt, Michelle and cousin Gillian!!!
There aren't many opportunities for Will to get some time in with the "family" iphone. First, I have to be home. Then Drew has to not be
hogging playing it. Finally, eliminate nap times, meal times and any time something Star Wars is going on and there are precious few minutes left. I can still remember some '70s round swivel chairs my parents had that I curled up in when my age could still be shown on the fingers of one hand. I wonder if Will will have a similar memory of this chair.
Since we're all still feeling a little under the weather, here is a picture from a couple of weeks ago of my better half and our two handsome boys.
Today Mama broke out the paint supplies for a creative afternoon activity.
Will started out using a brush. But, about half way though switched to his fingers.
Drew knew exactly what he wanted to express with his painting. The end result of both boys is as good as any of the crap Jackson Pollock ever thew down on a canvas. Much like Pollock's numbered works, Drew and Will's masterpieces are unnamed because the viewer should not search for representational elements in the paintings but, rather, "look passively and try to receive what the painting has to offer and not bring a subject matter or preconceived idea of what they are to be looking for." (Translation: I'm a talentless hack perpetuating a great fraud, please buy my paintings because I'm afraid of having a real job.)
I love Norman-Rockwell's "Connoisseur." I don't know what Rockwell was actually trying to say but, to me, he was throwing mud in Pollock's eye, saying, "Hey Jackson, I can paint as good a Pollock as you or anyone else, lets see you try and paint a Rockwell."
Recently I've had some extended discussions elsewhere on the interweb as to the definition of "art." I tend to a more restrictive classical definition that art takes talent not present in the average person. Art is not decoration, performance or that which any random person can imitate. Most of the people I've been arguing with have been brought up never to judge anyone or impose any kind of standard on people. They believe if someone says something is art, it is art. Or, if someone merely tries to make art, that their endeavor results in art. Otherwise, you might have to--heaven forbid--judge somebody or disappoint some precious snowflake and inform them that despite their best efforts they really are not artists. Such expansive definitions, ultimately, have no bounds and everything become art. If everything is art, then nothing is art. I conclude, my "restrictive" definition is the only logical definition and, ultimately, less restrictive.
Two more shots of Will and Drew as they finish up after the jump.
Drew, not shown here, has outgrown his car seat (not necessarily by a measurement provided by the manufacturer) and is big enough for a booster seat. After our typical shopping around and internet research, we finally found one we liked...and bought two. The most convenient place to do the minimal assembly was the clean, spacious, well lit, kitchen floor (three adjectives that don't apply to too many places).
As soon as Will realized it was a seat that I had pulled out of the box, the following conversation took place:
Will: Sit down?At some point, our little comedian, who was apparently in the midst of an Elton John impersonation, walked over and grabbed my hair, lifted my head up, and inquired, as if for the first time: "Sit down?"
Daddy: Not yet.
Will: Sit down?
Daddy: Not yet.
Will: Sit down?
Daddy: Not yet.
(Repeat many, many times.)
After a laugh and a quick picture take, I was back at the task at hand, only to be interrupted moments later from the other side: "Sit down?" Yes, finally, Will got to sit down in his brother's new booster seat. Five seconds later, he was off to the next activity. The booster seat was successfully installed and Drew got to get in and out five times today.
Aunt Donelda concluded her visit today. Before she left, she and the boys modeled their Thing t-shirts Donelda got on her last trip to Disney World this year. Will didn't quite understand why he was Thing 3 and kept insisting, "Me two," because that's how old he is. Aunt Donelda really helped to make Christmas special for the boys (all of us) this year!
Aunt Donelda, Drew and Will show their Christmas spirit.
Drew, Will, Mama and Daddy wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!
This year's tree is a 9 foot Nobel Fir tree. Compared to last year's Fraser Fir, the needles are more rubbery such that they don't poke your skin while hanging lights and ornaments. Also, this must have been the fullest tree we've ever had. There are only a handful of ornaments hanging inside the tree. It is so full with no gaps or openings that there just wasn't any place or need to hang ornaments deep inside. The few we managed to shove inside practically can't be seen. Other than a top that ends a little abruptly, it's a perfect tree.
After hanging lights, while putting up ornaments, one-half of the very top string of lights started slowly flashing followed by it going out completely. I replaced the bulb at the end of the dark half but to no avail. Somewhere in the half-string is a burnt out bulb. I'll look for it when we take the lights down. So, if you look closely, you can see the very top right of the tree is without lights.
Drew and Will were a hoot hanging ornaments. Will refused to use hooks. We'd tell him, "Will, you need a hook," and Will would respond with confidence, "No, O-A," (his version of OK). Will would then place three ornaments on the very tip of the exact same branch, despite no ornaments being anywhere else on the tree. Together the boys did a terrific job of decorating the bottom-third of the tree.
Click "Continue reading" to see another picture of the boys.
OK boys, who wants to help dad with some yard work? Boys? Hello?
Aunt Donelda's visit for Drew's birthday came to an end today. You can tell from this picture right before bed time that Drew and Will really enjoyed having their Chicago Aunt come visit.
Mary made Drew's birthday cake this week. Will and Drew were, of course, on hand to help with the process. Here they are being rewarded, Will with the spatula and Drew with the mixer beater.
Will has become quite the puzzlemaster and his favorite is his Sesame Street Elmo and Friends 24 piece puzzle. He has put it together and taken it apart a few dozen times now. We didn't think to give the puzzle to two year, two month, old Will because it is officially "Age 3+" but Will pulled it out of the cabinet the other day and insisted on putting it together. Around here, age appropriateness and serving size always seem a little over-estimated. (Except when it comes to Hollywood which has no clue what "age appropriate" means.)
Will and Drew sleeping in one morning. Do you think they might be related?
After the boys take baths, they like to make their hair spikey.
Fortunately, they don't like to keep it that way and much prefer to have their hair nicely combed.
We're back! It's been incredibly busy lately and there has been little time for blogging. Hopefully, this will resume normal semi-regular updates. This Labor Day weekend we all drove up to Chicago to visit Aunt Donelda. Thanks to her, we all got to enjoy a multi-million dollar pool complex all to ourselves before it opened to the masses.
Drew perfected the Tigger Stroke in the three foot portion of the pool. What's the Tigger Stroke? Bounce...bounce...bounce...
Will very much enjoyed riding on Daddy's back. Surprisingly, Will barely held on, he just semi-floated at the small of Daddy's back and steadied himself with his hands on Daddy's shoulders.
Aunt Donelda got in the action and posed under one of the many splashing apparatus. Click "Continue reading," there are a lot more pictures after the jump!
Drew in the midst of the water fountains.
Will doing his best to grab a fountain.
Drew and Will were great sports standing under one of the water buckets as it filled and then spilled.
Drew taking a turn lifeguarding.
Will also put in his time in the chair.
Aunt Donelda and the ghostly four from Oklahoma.
Today we woke up early packed everyone in a rented 12 person van and headed out to Goltry, Oklahoma.
Will and Drew on their Great-Grandma and Grandpa Buller's farm where Grandma Danz grew up. Apparently, "hold still and look at Daddy," somehow translates into 2 and 4 year-old language as "wave your arms madly about."
Daddy and Aunt Donelda behind the garage where there used to be peach trees, a scrap metal pile, and fences we would climb on and grab the irresistible overhead electrified lines for a jolt that is remembered well into middle-age.
Daddy, Drew and Will on the porch in front of Grandma Danz's childhood home.
The family renting the farm owns a horse which recently had a foal.
The foal was surprisingly friendly...a little too friendly for this city slicker. He must have thought I had food or treats because he wouldn't take no for an answer. After following me like a Pamplona bull as I backpedaled away, mama horse came and got him and led him back to the barn.
I made some panoramas of some of the farm views. This one is looking out East.
This panorama is out behind the barns looking North.
The view looking East from the house.
Aunt Donelda came to visit for Will's birthday. We tried to come up with something "Oklahoma" to do and found out that she had not been to a Bass Pro Shop...so off we went. [This is actually a post-birthday shot as evidenced by Big Bird which Drew came up with all on his own to give to Will, since there were no first day group photos.]
OK, so with stores in 27+ states, including one in Chicago, it's not technically an "Oklahoma" thing but it was fun for the boys to see the fish and stuffed animals and gave us all a chance to stretch our legs before dinner. We had dinner at the Bass Pro Shop restaurant. Everyone enjoyed their seafood while the boys and myself, Mr. Anaphylactic-Shock, partook of other fare. Our waitress will forever be remember as the least enthusiastic server ever.
Both Drew and Will really enjoyed watching the fish.
A neighbor got a Little Tikes Slam 'n Slide Inflatable Water Slide and invited the boys over for some fun. We sure never had toys this cool when we were kids, Holy Cow, the thing was amazing. Officially 9 feet high, it's a mountain of fun to 2 and 4 year-olds. Drew never tired of constant sliding.
Will wasn't quite up to the task of climbing the slide and hung out in the wading pool portion, still loving every minute of it.
What's the point of building the world's tallest giraffe? Well, to knock it down of course...with your hammer!
This evening we got out the Elmo sprinkler and had a fun cooling off after dinner.
Will took a little while to warm up to the activity but still managed to have a good time. Click "Continue reading" to see more pics of the boys and Elmo.
Drew taking a break to get a drink from the sprinkler.
Will adjusting Elmo to the perfect position.
Will insisted there was a police emergency at the sprinkler and Drew was happy to assist in the pursuit.
Drew and Will both enjoy playing all kinds of I Spy and their recent favorite has been the Scholastic book I Spy Spooky Night.
The book has enough variety, riddles and difficulty to even keep Mama and Daddy on their toes but, somehow, remains engaging enough to keep Will interested as we all try to find the hidden items. My only criticisms of Spooky Night is that most of the images are quite dark and really good lighting is needed to see all the objects.
Another successful search! Now off to dreamland for these two T-Rexes.
Much like his older brother Drew, Will loves to read and be read to. He is always bringing books over to people to read and when everyone is busy, he will happily sit down and look through a book by himself. Here Will is reading the modern Cars book Mater and the Ghost Light and the original 1972 Sesame Street classic that was once Daddy's, Bert's Hall of Great Inventions.
Another of Will's favorites is I Spot! No one points out items with more confidence than Will (imagine a very emphatic index finger being slammed down on the page). Click "Continue reading" for a bonus picture of Will.
Will concentrating on finding objects in his I Spot! book.
Is there anything more beautiful and peaceful than a child sleeping?
All the Youngman grandchildren were in town today for a unique photo opportunity. Left to right with Pa and Ma: Josh, Emma, Drew, Will and Gillian.
Pa with Daisy (back), Ellie (front) and grandchildren Emma, Josh, Will and Drew.
Aunt Michelle and cousin Gillian are in town visiting. They are all growing up so fast. It seems just like yesterday that the boys were being introduced to their new "baby" cousin.
We spent Memorial Day afternoon at Mary's friend Christine's backyard barbecue. I don't think we've attended an event that was better planned out to entertain people's children. There were wagons and other toys to ride, frozen popsicles, squirt guns, bubbles, water toys, helium balloons and plenty of balls and other toys. Not once during the several hours we were there did Drew complain about not having something to do.
The boys got haircuts today. Will had some pretty funny expressions, nothing like tickling hairs trickling down your face to bring out the facial contortions. But, then things calmed down and it was just another boring haircut.
Do you think Will enjoys talking on the phone with his Aunt Donelda? He usually doesn't have too much to say, even with Drew giving him encouragement, but he sure loves to listen.
This is Drew and Will watching early Saturday morning cartoons. It's really too bad our boys don't get along better together.
Drew and Will worked on their watercolor painting skills today with their Tonka paint with water books. The images have small dots which contain paint of different colors. A wet brush makes the colored dots dissolve which can then be "painted" to color the picture.
While it sounds easy enough, it's trickier than it seems. Not enough water and the dots don't fully dissolve. Too much water and the paper turns to mush. Not to mention that, even though the paint is pre-colored to match the picture, you still have to stay within the lines for a neat result.
Drew has just about mastered the technique. Will did a surprisingly good job and, along the way, he mastered spilling the "spill-proof" water reservoir.
It is very unusual for our munchkins to just fall asleep.
But this has been an unusually busy week and tonight after getting ready for bed, Will drank his milk and drifted off.
Drew was feeling a little under the weather today and was camped out on the couch with no energy to play. Will noticed that Drew wasn't feeling well and, on his own initiative, climbed up on the couch and over to Drew and gave him a hug.
Will continued to coo and stroke Drew's face until Drew cracked a smile.
Drew was happy to be cheered up and gave Will a thank you kiss.
Forty-five years ago, in April of 1963 before I was even born, my sister Donelda and my parents celebrated Easter while they were living in Tripoli, Libya. Donelda is just a few days away from being 2 1/2 years old in these pictures.
Will recently started stacking blocks...to ridiculous heights! Just when you'd think it's about to fall, he adds three more. Of course, when the blocks fall they put little micro-dents in the coffee table...we call it "antiquing."
I have a good friend who, last time I heard, refuses to buy nice furniture until his kids are old enough to not cause damage. While a perfectly logical theory, Mary and I disagree. We get to enjoy our furniture for more years than my friend and, when the kids finally move out of the house, we'll still have nice furniture but filled with memories of our boys growing up...my friend will just have nice furniture.
So, Mary was giving the boys a bath tonight during which I am usually nearby...just in case...and tonight was one of those cases. Near the end I heard, "Don, I need your help!" It wasn't nearly as bad as the last time Mary called me with loss-of-limb urgency while giving the boys a bath, but it was definitely with more emotion than simply, "I need more shampoo."
I went in the bathroom and saw Drew being dried off while Will was still in the tub...pretty much surrounded by raw sewage. Mary had this happen once with Drew when he was younger but apparently that was more of "solid" event, if you know what I mean. Tonight, there was a near complete absence of fiber.
I removed the bathmat, lifted Will out of the tub and he stood there, probably quite chilly, like a very good boy while Mary got Drew dried and dressed. I then passed Will to Mary who gave him a thorough sponge bath. I then drained, rinsed, and hot dish soap washed anything and everything that was anywhere near the tub. Since I was at it, I cleaned the toilet too. Now, the bathroom is as clean as it's ever been! Did I mention it's our guest bathroom?
Will's 18 month photograph. Our littlest one is growing up.
Mama reads to the boys several times a day, but every night, before bedtime, it's my turn to read to the boys. We just started reading the original Noddy books by Enid Blyton with pictures by Beek. Drew loves the modern Noddy cartoon "Make Way for Noddy," so he was excited when we found these Noddy books at Grandma Danz's. These are the original twenty-four Noddy books published between 1949 and 1963 some of which are original editions. They were originally Aunt Donelda's but despite their age, probably aren't worth too much since they have been so "well loved." Tonight we'll read the final chapter of the first book and find out if Noddy is a toy. If he's not, he won't be able to stay in Toy Land.
Will is reading "Good Night, Gorilla" written and illustrated by Peggy Rathmann. It is one of, if not his most, favorite. If you haven't seen it already, check out Drew reading "Good Night, Gorilla" to Will from this past December.
You wished you looked this good in the morning! I snapped this picture before I left for work one morning. I thought it was too cute how Will had snuggled up against mama.
First and foremost, thank you to everyone for your kindness during the last two weeks. From simple phone calls and emails, to the cards, to those who were able to attend one of the wakes or service, your kind words and actions have been very much appreciated by our family.
We found out Grandma Danz died Sunday morning, January 27th, and despite knowing the end was near it, of course, was still difficult news. Despite that, funeral arrangements in two different states had to be planned, people notified and many other details taken care of, so most of that Sunday was spent on the phone and the internet getting the word out and making arrangements. It was just a little weird doing all that the same day we got word, but it had to be done. I can't imagine how people manage who have an unexpected loss. I guess a friend or more distant relative has to step in and take care of things.
Monday we drove straight through to Palatine. Will got the most improved traveler award for, literally, not making a single sound until just about a mile and a half from Grandma Danz's house. We were concerned because the last time we drove a long way, Will let it be known that he was not fully appreciative of the safety offered by his modern-day child seat. In other words, he was nearly inconsolable screaming and crying every 20 minutes. But, not this time, thankfully!
Tuesday morning came quick. Pre-wake preparations were highlighted by Mary's scream of "Will what have you done!!!" It was a tone and level of voice I had never heard from Mary and can only describe it as possibly being in the category of loss-of-limb urgency. I ran up stairs to see what was wrong and found that, after giving the boys a bath, while dressing Drew, Will threw his funeral cloths in the bathtub full of water. We still had over an hour before we had to leave the house so I grabbed the clothes, wrung them out, put them in the washer for a spin cycle and popped them in the dryer. Needless to say, Mary was a little stressed since I hadn't been much of a help with the kids on the trip.
Tuesday evening was the wake in Palatine. While I had ordered the casket and vault and was getting the Oklahoma arrangements taken care of, Donelda had been meeting with the funeral home in Palatine, ordering flowers and making poster boards with pictures of Grandma Danz. Somehow, Donelda also found time to put together a PowerPoint presentation of pictures which played at each wake.
Wednesday, Donelda and I spent a good five hours going over paperwork before Mary, Drew, Will and I drove to Rolla, Missouri, to stay the night. I must say the new Holiday Inn Express hotels are really nice and we enjoyed a good nights sleep.
Thursday was supposed to be an uneventful drive to Goltry, Oklahoma. However, while the drive started out pleasantly, there was an ice storm developing that we were heading into. About half-way down the Will Rogers turnpike between Joplin and Tulsa, we heard a thump...followed shortly by the oh-so-fun thump, thump, thumping. A flat tire. Now remember, we were in our trusty über-safe Volvo S80, packed for a week long cross-country trip with clothes ranging from casual to funeral and plenty of supplies for the munchkin who uses his pants for a potty and lots of stuff for everyone else, pillows, sleeping bag, computer, toys, work stuff...everything short of the kitchen sink. The image I'm trying to convey, is that the trunk and most spaces in the car were packed! Every nook and cranny of the trunk was neatly and totally stuffed to the precise contours of the available space. The trunk lid closed, but not without a little extra effort. Additionally, it was packed under ideal circumstances, where everything was laid out and I had all the time in the world to fit everything in just right.
The temperature was in the single digits and while it, fortunately, wasn't rainy, it was misty which was nice when the 18-wheelers came by and the car rocked back and forth. Road side assistance was not available for many hours because everyone was busy helping get cars out of ditches and a "mere" flat-tire just wasn't a priority. So, I began the process of emptying the trunk so I could get to the spare tire, passing everything through the window to Mary. Who knows where she put it all?! The change itself was relatively uneventful except for my anxiety over the time during which the fully loaded car was jacked up on the frail looking jack while the 18-wheelers did the best they could to blow the whole thing over. Once, the doughnut tire was in place, it was time to "pack" the trunk again as Mary passed everything back through her window. What I lost in neatness, I more then made up for with brute-force the second time around. The whole thing only took 30 minutes, but it seemed longer. From there, since we were just an hour away from our home in Tulsa, we detoured to change vehicles. I also took an unplanned rest on the couch while my physical and emotional batteries recharged before the final drive to Goltry. Did I mention the ice storm earlier? Yep, we made the final leg to Goltry traveling just 30 miles an hour on freshly iced, un-salted/un-sanded road. Grandma Danz always talked about the bad luck she had traveling, so I think this was her final goodbye to us.
Friday we ran some errands in Goltry and Helena and had the wake that evening. The photo is all of us with a long-time friend of my parents, Mrs. Long. She and her husband traveled the world with my parents. They are the most active "retired" people I've ever met. He still writes for the Oklahoman and they both take yearly trips around the world, this year's being a Russian river cruise from Moscow to St. Petersburg!
Finally, Saturday after services at Lanman funeral home in Helena, we laid Grandma Danz to rest next to Grandpa Danz in the Karoma Cemetery in Goltry, Oklahoma. Pictures of the headstone and Great-Grandma and Grandpa Buller's headstone after the jump.
Nelda and Donald Danz's headstone.
Ola Mae and Alvin "Spiv" Buller's headstone. Donelda had the presence of mind to take two roses from one of the displays to lay on Grandma Danz's parents' headstone.
My mother passed away this morning at the age of 76 after a long slow decline in her health. The photo above is from college and below is with her grandsons Drew and Will is from this past Thanksgiving. Her obituary is below.
Nelda Rose Danz (nee Buller) of Palatine, Illinois, for the last 35 years died January 27, 2008, at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Born May 4, 1931, in Shattuck, Oklahoma. Nelda was proceeded in death by her beloved husband Donald Winston Danz on December 20, 2003, whom she married on March 6, 1955. Nelda is survived by her daughter Donelda CarVen Danz of Carol Stream, Illinois, and Don William Danz (wife Mary) of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and grandsons Drew Winston Danz and David William ("Will") Danz.
A graduate of Goltry High School, Oklahoma, Nelda received a Bachelor of Science in Commerce from Oklahoma A&M College now Oklahoma State University, in Stillwater, in 1953, where she was a member and served as President of the Tau Gamma sorority. After graduating OSU, Nelda went to work for then Standard Oil International in Tulsa where she met her husband, Donald who was a geophysicist who spent a career searching for oil.
Married in 1955, the couple soon embarked on a world-wide journey together. They were transferred in 1957 to Venezuela, where they lived for four years and started a family. They spent the early 1960s in Libya, then Donald was transferred to an oil camp facility in Indonesia, while Nelda and Donelda lived in Thailand where Don was born. The next several years were spent in Mozambique, Holland and Norway, with the family returning to the United States in 1970. After two years in New Orleans, the family settled in Palatine.
An avid bowler, bridge player, craft maker and Chicago sports fan, Nelda was a dedicated wife and mother who ran a tight household while Donald was away on extended business assignments. Family was always Nelda's priority as she never missed a sports game or other activity of her children and proudly doted over her grandchildren as her health increasingly declined the past few years.
In lieu of flowers, tax deductible contributions may be sent to Palatine Park Foundation, 250 E. Wood Street, Palatine, IL 60067, for the preservation of open space and scholarships for Palatine Park District activities.
Now Will at one year and six months, all on his own, has taken up the same activity.
Grandma Danz gave Drew and Will bean bag chairs for Christmas, personalized and in each of their favorite colors...at least we think blue is Will's favorite color.
Will doesn't normally like to wear hats, we put them on and he knocks them off. Santa brought both Drew and Will train engineer hats, scarves and whistles. For whatever reason, Will does like to wear his train engineer hat. Will is taking a break from a tough morning of train engineering for some lunch and is also wearing his babysaurus bib.
Peace on Earth
Merry Christmas from Don, Mary, Drew and Will Danz.
Only one week left before Christmas! Is all your Christmas shopping done? Will and Drew are in their Best Buy shopping cart car enjoying some shopping at BB. Will says, "Honk, honk!"
Maybe it's Mary and me, but there is no way the child in the above photo is just a week past his fourth birthday. He looks 7 or 8 to us.
Drew and Will recently had their physicals and Drew is in the 97th percentile for height and Will is in the 75th percentile.
Drew is always saying cute or surprising things, and we think, "Oh, there's no way we'll forget that one!" But, come the next day, we can't remember. Here are a few that we were smart enough to write down:
During a boys' night together Drew, Will and I played just about every game and toy in the house. Finally we worked our way down to playing with my old Fisher-Price Creative Block Wagon which I had when I was just a toddler. We made everything shown on the box, a steamboat, a racer, a barn & silo, an animal and finally a birthday cake. I told Drew to make a wish and blow out the candles. After he blew out the pretend candles, I asked:
Daddy: So, what did you wish for?
Drew: I wished everything would stay the same forever.
Daddy: Me too Drew, me too.
When driving from Oklahoma to Kansas to visit Aunt Michelle, Uncle Matt and cousin Gillian, we kept noting out progress by calling out the towns and landmarks we were passing:
Daddy: We just crossed the border, we're in Kansas now.
Drew: (with great enthusiasm) Woo-hoo!
(This doesn't read funny, but it was at the time.)
At the reception after cousin Gillian's baptism:
Cousin Josh: There are four Joshes.
Drew: There are two Drews...me and the football player.
At dinner at home:
Drew: Is ketchup called "catch-up" because you throw up a tomato and catch it and it squishes into ketchup?
Continuing on from yesterday's post, each night after we brush teeth, we read stories before we go to bed.
One of the boys' favorite books right now is Good Night Gorilla. Will will pick up the book all on his own and laugh as he turns the pages and he'll laugh when Drew reads the book. Of course though, Will didn't laugh when the camera was on. Drew flipped through the pages pretty quick due to a combination of being on camera and being very familiar with the book. Be sure to listen for Drew changing his voice in proportion to the size of the dialogue balloons representing the different animals.
YouTube version after the jump.
Every evening after putting on jammies, we go upstairs to brush teeth. A while ago, without any encouraging, Will climbed up on the stool, pushed big brother aside, and looked around for his toothbrush. So, we got him one and, now, most evenings Will, on his tip-toes, joins Drew in brushing teeth.
After all the Thanksgiving turkey, it was time to burn off some calories so we were off to play in the Chicago fall leaves!
Drew found himself a comfy spot in a pile of fall foliage.
After we were all done playing, Will drew the short straw and had to rake up.
For Thanksgiving the four of us drove to Chicago to be with Ma Danz and Aunt Donelda…11 hours, 15 minutes, there and 13 hours back.
Donelda out did herself with a flawless Thanksgiving dinner.
Aunt Donelda and Drew enjoying their pumpkin pie. Drew's not a big pumpkin pie fan, but he didn't let it get in the way of him enjoying the whip cream. Will, however, being the chow-hound that he is, downed a ton a pumpkin pie!
Grandma Danz with her grandsons Drew and Will. A picture of the main course after the jump.
The picture doesn't begin to show how delicious everything was. I could literally have the same meal forever and never get tired of it. Besides a fifteen pound turkey, Donelda fixed (clockwise), stuffing, bread (the only thing not from scratch), candied yams, corn casserole, mashed potatoes with gravy and green beans. There was also cranberries but which, in keeping with tradition, I passed on.
Last weekend we drove up to Kansas City for cousin Gillian's baptism.
Gillian's baptismal dress was worn by her mother Michelle and all her aunts Mary, Angela and Catherine as well as her Grandmother and Great-Aunt and Great-Grandmother.
The Godparents are Margie and Dan, two good friends of proud parents Matt and Michelle.
The Youngman side of the family who were able to attend: Angela and Josh; Matt, Michelle and Gillian; Don, Mary Drew and Will; and Jim and Lorraine.
Grandpa and all of his grandsons: Drew, Will and Josh.
Mary and the star of the show, Gillian, taking a well deserved nap.
With this the seventh and final chapter covering our whirlwind tour of the Midwest this summer, we close with some family photos:
Donelda, Drew and Will show off their love for the Cubs!
Grandma Danz with her favorite grandkids Drew and Will.
The entire Danz family. Grandma Danz, Don, Mary with Will and Donelda with Drew. Grandma and Grandpa Danz were only children, Donelda doesn't have kids and, so, this is the entire extended family on the Danz side. Unless you up a level to Otto Danz who was one of eleven (ten surviving) children.
Continuing on with Part VI of the summer's heartland tour, Aunt Donelda took mama and the boys on a tour of some of Palatine Park District's newest playground equipment.
Fearless Will attacked the slide the best way he knew how. Fortunately, Aunt Donelda was there for support.
The twisty slide proved to be a fast one as Drew flew around the final curve. Click "Continue reading" for the group shot.
Mary, Drew and Will were all smiles in the playground tunnel.
Continuing on with the adventures of the Danz family summer Heartland Tour, in the Chicago suburb of Palatine, we all got to go swimming at the newly renovated Birchwood Pool.
Besides a zero depth kids pool, there were all kids of sprinklers, sprays and water attractions. Will, completely fearless of the water, is testing out one of the sprinklers.
The most popular attraction was the shark slide. Here is Drew in the heart of the beast.
Will got to go down the shark with Daddy's help. Drew was a near non-stop shark slider.
Because so many lifeguards had already left for college, there wasn't enough staff to watch the busy Labor Day weekend crowd. So, Will and Drew had to take their turns in the lifeguard chairs.
Will, Daddy and Drew.
Aunt Donelda, without whom none of this would have been possible. with Drew and Will.
Click "Continue reading" for a shot of Daddy you've never seen before...
Mama caught Daddy precisely half-way in performing a one-and-a-half off the high dive.
On the second leg of the 2007 Heartland Tour Mary and the boys visited Mary's college friend Stacey and her three children, Jonathan, Nicholas and Alexandra in St. Louis. They were fortunate enough to time the visit to coincide with Alexandra's second birthday party.
Stacey with Alexandra and Will.
Will, Drew, Jonathan, Nicholas and Alexandra.
While at Aunt Michelle and Uncle Matt's, Michelle, Gillian, Mary, Drew and Will got to go to the Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead in Overland Park, Kansas. Established in 1978, the Farmstead was designed to depict a turn of the century farm and the promotion of family values. The beautiful and diverse park was renamed in 1985 in honor of Overland Park police officer Deanna Rose.
Michell and Gillian take a milk break while Will relaxes in his travel stroller.
Drew really enjoyed the 1900s one-room schoolhouse and writing on a slate tablet. Other attractions include a 5,000 square foot dairy barn, an Indian encampment with a 600 log earthen lodge filled with artifacts and furs surrounded by tepees, a nature trail with a butterfly garden, chime garden and repose area, a Johnson County Master Gardeners area and a prairie playground.
Other activities at the Farmstead include pony and horse drawn wagon rides, a fishing pond, stream mining, goat bottle feeding and making schoolhouse crafts.
Will in the dairy barn pointing to a cow, something he doesn't get to see every day.
Click "Continue reading" to see selection of animals the kids got to see.
In Kansas City, we all finally got to meet Miss Gillian! Will knew exactly what to do with her...hug.
Drew was incredibly loving and gentle with Gillian. He checked out her little fingers, gave her pats and got an opportunity to hold and rock her. At one point, Gillian almost even went to sleep in Drew's arms.
Both boys agree...Gillian makes a great pillow.
But nobody is as comfy as mommy Michelle and daddy Matt.
Will, Drew and Gillian.
Mary, being some combination of crazy and a saint, all by herself, came up with the plan: (1) the four of us drive to Kansas City on Saturday to visit her sister, brother-in-law and their new baby, (2) I fly back on Sunday to work during the week, (3) she drives alone with the boys to St. Louis on Tuesday to see a friend and attend her daughter's birthday party, (4) she continues on alone with the boys to Chicago on Wednesday to see my mom and sister, (5) I fly to Chicago Thursday to spend Labor Day weekend together and, finally, (6) we all drive back to Tulsa on Monday.
Will enjoyed the trip with his new neck pads which really helped support his head while napping in his car seat. Between naps, Will watched DVDs, wrote on the Magna Doodle and played with a long procession of toys handed back to him from the front. Drew, seen here kicking back watching a DVD, was an incredible trooper.
In Drew's lap is his Star Wars Transformers Boba Fett & Slave I. Drew was such a good boy on the trip to Chicago and all the time there that we bought him the transformer to play with on the trip back. The package says it is for children 5+ years and Drew is only 3 1/2 so we didn't know if it would be too hard or frustrating for him...how wrong we were. We waited until we were outside Chicago before giving it to him in the hopes of maximizing it's entertainment value during drive through the flat cornfields of Illinois. After an hour we figured we had gotten more than our money's worth. After two hours of transforming back and forth and playing with the resulting ship and guy we were amazed. All told, the trip took 13 hours of which about 10 were driving and we figure Drew played with the transformer for total of about 5-6 hours! The Star Wars Transformer was easily the best purchase ever...and there may be some more in the boys' future...*wink* *wink*.
Around the Danz house, bath time is bubble time...at least when Daddy gives the baths.
The trick to maximize bubble creation is to violently swirl the water in one direction near the spout while the tub fills. This creates extra bubbles in addition to those made by the spout, moves bubble to the back of the tub where they build up and keeps the water under the spout from becoming diluted of precious bubble making goodness.
Click "Continue reading" to see the action shot.
A video of Drew from June of him eating ice cream and shivering. It's the cutest thing!
Geek note: the video was a little washed out due to the backlighting coming from the window. I've increased the brightness and the contract in an attempt to balance things out. The window is overexposed, but Drew looks better.
As always, inferior YouTube version after the jump.
Last week Mary, Drew, Will, Ma, Pa and Aunt Catherine visited Aunt Mary and Uncle Joe, cousin Kathy and son Nicholas, and friends P.J., Vickie and son Patrick in St. Louis, Missouri and Auntie Annie in Springfield, Illinois.
Will didn't care much for the long car ride but did find some time to catch some Z's.
Drew kept himself busy with a number of activities and, without any prompting, wrote his name along with a smiley face on his Magna Doodle which he proudly showed off.
When traveling with Ma and Pa, before even leaving the neighborhood, Drew will ask if they can put a movie on the DVD player. Sometime along the trip, Catherine noticed Drew was watching a movie but wasn't wearing his headphones...Drew was giving Baby Bear a turn with the "earmuffs."
Auntie Annie is still pretty spry for 95 and the boys and her got along great.
Drew, Will and Nicholas hit it off immediately and had a great time playing together.
Cousin Kathy was a favorite with Will.
Drew has been signing his name to cards for some time now and he just recently started practicing the other 22 letters. Here he is working on his I's and K's. He is very serious about his penmanship, note his furrowed brow in the picture on the right.
And, yes...he already writes better than I do.
Oh, and he's only three...WE WANT OUR LITTLE BOY BACK!!!
Gillian Grace Madison was born today to Aunt Michelle and Uncle Matt! From their website A day in the life...:
Gillian Grace Madison was born at 10:10 pm on July 12, 2007. She weighed in at 7 lbs. 4 oz. and measured at 19 1/2 inches long. She has a full head of jet black hair and the hair is about an inch long.
CONGRATULATIONS Matt & Michelle !!!
And, if you haven't noticed, Will and Gillian share the same birthday!
Eleven month old Will got his first ever haircut today.
In just a few minutes, Will went from baby curls to a handsome young boy.
Vimeo continues to upgrade and improve their video sharing service. I think it's superior to YouTube in a Betamax over VHS sort of way. Here is our latest upload:
Will is quite the peek-a-boo player. And, I guarantee you, he will remain interested in playing peek-a-boo long after you begin to wonder, "How long will he do this for?" That is...unless you get a camera. YouTube version after the jump...why, I don't know.
The other day Drew was doing some computing with Baby Bear.
After hearing what Mary thought was Drew talking to himself, she saw Drew teaching Baby Bear to use the mouse and was able to capture the moment.
Wow, you really can't tell these guys are brothers! On the left, Drew at 10 months (2 1/2 years ago) and on the right, Will at 10 months.
The ever crafty Mary recently painted name signs for the bedroom doors of Drew and Will. Drew even got to help out and very carefully, with amazing patience, painted his double-u.
At least to me, "Drew" looks a little askew in the picture but it is only an aberration as the actual letters on the door line up perfectly.
(Ever wonder why it's double-u and not double-v?)
Drew enjoying a peaceful Friday night blowing some bubbles in the back yard.
As you can see, Will very much enjoys his baths. He's just as good natured in the water as out. It's best to keep his hands busy though, otherwise he'll splash up a storm.
Will is a heat-seeking missile when he's asleep. Nothing will keep him from finding a warm body and cuddling up as close as possible. Once contact is made he'll continue to periodically drive his feet like a football player pushing a practice sled. In the photo, Drew and Will started out parallel. But, Will sensed his target, turned 90 degrees and drove himself into his brother. Drew in his soccer shirt and rosy cheeks was simply too tired to protest.
Drew has two phone talking modes: walking in circles and chilling out. Here he is showing off the latter. In the future, young ladies, don't be nervous talking to Drew on the phone, just imagine him holding Ted and Baby Bear.
After graduation yesterday and staying up all night at her senior retreat, Aunt Catherine continued her busy weekend with her last dance recital for Miss Shelly's School of Dance. She was in three recitals at 1:30, 5:00 and 8:00 p.m, and performed nine different dances in the final recital we saw including ballet, tap, jazz and modern dance.
Because the recital didn't start until bedtime, Drew was ready with Baby Bear...
...and Will was all decked out in his sleeper in the comforting arms of his Pa.
About a week ago Aunt Catherine received the Mother Teresa Award for "keeping the flame of her love alive through Christian service towards others" during her four years at Bishop Kelley High School.
Aunt Catherine had a pretty good senior year having been elected to Bishop Kelley's Homecoming Court and Maid of Honor, runner up to the Homecoming Queen. She was also recently selected as Student of the Month. Way to finish up strong. You did a great job closing out the Youngman legacy at Bishop Kelley.
Today, Aunt Catherine graduated Bishop Kelley High School and ceremonies were held at the Reynolds Center on the University of Tulsa campus where she will be attending this fall.
Here is the entire Youngman family. Ma and Pa, five children, three son-in-laws and four and one-half grandchildren. Ma and Pa put five kids through private high school, four though college with the fifth one on the way. I keep looking for the money tree in their backyard but haven't found it yet.
Happy Mothers' Day to...
This is the calm during the storm.
Prior to and after the picture, Drew played conductor of his motorized Thomas the Tank Engine and Percy, while Will played Godzilla. At first Drew wasn't all too pleased when Will would pick up a passing engine or tear apart some track, until I explained that he was just playing Godzilla. After that, it was pretty fun. When Will would make a move for something, Drew would exclaim, "Oh no, Godzilla!"
My sister Donelda Danz was inducted today into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association (IBCA) Hall of Fame as a player.
Three thousand were in attendance at the annual ceremonies which recognizes outstanding achievement in news media, friends of basketball, coaches, teams, officials and players.
Donelda was a four year starter and star of the 1977 Fremd High School girls basketball team that took 3rd place in the first ever Illinois girls state basketball tournament where she was selected for the All-Tournament Team having scored the second highest number of points of all the players in the tournament.
Not much blogging lately. Been doing too much of the above. Actually, you can never do "too" much of the above. So, more accurately, I've been doing it "instead."
Ma Danz with Will and Drew all dressed up in their Easter best.
Drew and Will posing with the Easter Bunny.
Ma Danz and Aunt Donelda are in town for Easter and everyone got in on the Easter Egg coloring tonight.
Drew took a very hands-on approach to his Easter Egg coloring. So, if you see him later this week with blue fingers, you'll know why.
The result of everyone's hard work and imagination!
We went out to dinner tonight and, as usual, Will was all smiles and attracted the attention of everyone around him.
Here is a close up of Will's two-tooth smile. Not quite ready for steak, but he does a fine job on Cheerios. His top teeth will probably start breaking through soon as the gums are beginning to show some white spots.
Just over a year ago I started the Danz Family Forums "as a place for all persons with the Danz surname and their immediate relatives to meet, exchange information and keep in touch." It has now grown to 19 members from as far west as California, east to Maryland, north to Wisconsin, south to Texas and even overseas to Germany. Through the forums, I've learned the identities of my great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents and found amazing photos I never knew existed. Hopefully, the forums will continue to grow and provide other Danzes with equally valuable genealogical information.
The forums are closed to all non-Danz family members. However, I have opened up the forum about famous and infamous Danzes to the general public. In there are posts about a New York police officer killed on 9/11, an author and television personality, a reality show apprentice candidate, a Nazi concentration camp guard war criminal (we can't all be good guys), a theologian and hebraist, an opera singer and even a Star Wars character. So, if you are interested, feel free to check it out.
Hopefully, someday soon we will stop calling Will, "Baby Will." For the time being though it fits...although every day it's becoming less and less fitting. I'd been meaning to get a photo of Will's wrist which for some reason just cracks me up. It looks like he has a rubber band around his wrist. Alternatively, it looks like a toy hand that snaps on and can rotates 360 degrees.
Will also moved up to a big boy car seat this month. His feet had been hanging over the ends of his infant car seat and, whenever I carried him in it, I worried that I'd hit them on something and hobble him like a scene out of Misery.
Finally, all day today, Will was talking up a storm. And so, here is a very important message from Will:
Inferior YouTube version after the jump.
You will notice Will is standing up. Just a few days, less than a week, after Will learned to crawl, he started pulling himself up. It was scary at first, because he didn't know how to sit down when he'd fall backward and would do a stiff-prone backwards fall with his head hitting anything that was in the way. Fortunately, he's now learned to sit down when he senses himself falling. It seems like he spends half his time standing around. He'll crawl over to Drew or to whoever is sitting on the couch and stand there content to play with whatever is in his reach...the remote is always a popular choice.
So, maybe it's not Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy but that's what first come to my mind. Big Brother Drew and Little Brother Will show off their matching shirts. Drew is very proud of his little brother and Will simply holds Drew in awe.
Drew and Will have just started taking baths together. In some ways it's easier and some ways...it's NOT.
Also, I've updated the "Dinner Prayer" post below with a video!
Aunt Michelle and Uncle Matt (a/k/a sister/sister-in-law Michelle and brother-in-law Matt/the guy you want as your lifeline for anything relating to sports), started their new blog February 1st. It is called "A day in the life..." and if it's anything like its authors, it will be a lively mix of intellect and humor.
When I was very young I learned the classic dinner prayer:
God is good, God is great
And we thank Him for our food
It is still my favorite and the most common one I say. I have just now learned that, me being me, I never quite said it the "correct" way. It is supposed to be:
God is great, God is good
And we thank Him for our food
(-or- Let us thank Him for our food)
I've never had any ability for music, rhyme, beat, or anything remotely relating to such concepts, so the notion that "good" and "food" should end each line or stanza was lost on me. I'm sure my mind was far more concerned with the concept that one would normally follow one adjective with a greater adjective and not the other way around. You wouldn't say that something is great...it's good! Much more likely, you'd say that something is good, it's great! For example, this is cold, it's freezing! That building is big, it's huge! It just doesn't work the other way around. Hence, I think, the reason for my version of the prayer.
So, now I've passed on my altered version of the dinner prayer to our three year old son Drew who, in true Danz fashion, has added his own change. But, unlike my arbitrary twist, his change makes the prayer BETTER, and I am so proud of him:
God is good, God is great
And we thank Him for His food
Did you catch his change? Drew thanks God for "His" food. It's so subtle that I missed it the first few times, but he says "His food" every time. I think it's brilliant! Of course, the food isn't "ours," it's God's, as in all gifts come from God. We shouldn't be thanking God for our food but, rather His food. And, I learned this from a three year old. Thank you Drew!
At the time of this writing, a Google search for the three phrases "god is good," "god is great" and "thank Him for our food" returns 578 results. A search for the first two phrases and "thank Him for His food" returns zero results. Drew, you are an original!
[Update] Now with video goodness:
YouTube version after the jump.
Will, just six months old, is not yet crawling. However, he is doing everything other than crawling and is able to move in almost any direction he desires...except straight ahead. His incredible array of movements frequently includes push-up like activities shown here.
Clearly evidencing his genius, six month old Will shows how he can operate his gumball machine.
Aunt Michelle was in town to see Aunt Catherine's homecoming this weekend. It was the perfect opportunity for Will to ham it up for the camera with another one of his aunts.
Aunt Catherine was elected to Bishop Kelley's Homecoming Court and tonight, during half-time of the Homecoming basketball game, it was announced that the student body had elected her Maid of Honor, runner up to the Homecoming Queen. Here she is with her escort Troy.
Congratulations Aunt Catherine...your quiet grace and leadership by example have allowed you to forge your own path and accomplish something unique from your four older siblings. We hope the recognition of your peers gives you the confidence to continue to achieve beyond your wildest dreams. Congratulations!
Ninety-nine smiles...that's how many times out of a hundred Will smiles for the camera when getting his picture taken. But then, how you see him here is how he is all day long. Everyone who spends any amount of time with Will comments about what a smiley baby he is. I can't imagine being any more blessed.
(And no, this is not a game where you have to pick out the two pictures that are the same...all the pictures of Will are different and in the order they were taken.)
Will turned six months old this month so it was time for him to get his first taste of solid food. This is big brother Drew and Will all ready for the exciting moment.
One of Will's first bites of solid food. The process was sort of, put a spoonful in, spit some out, put some back in, spit it out and so on. After a while of back and forth, the amount in the bowl was less than what we started with so I guess more eventually went in than came out.
After being pretty much iced in for a week earlier this month, everyone was a little punch drunk but instead of typing "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" over and over, we sang a tribute to the Clementine oranges we were eating for dessert one night.
Will had his six month checkup today and he has shot up to the 90-95th percentile for height while maintaining his 75th percentile weight. He also got three shots. The first got his attention, the second he didn't like and the third made him whimper...but no crying.
After the doctor's office, it was time for everyone to take a well-deserved nap.
Happy New Year!
We traveled to Chicago for Christmas with Ma Danz and Aunt Donelda. Pictures of friends, the Chicago Botanical Garden and from New Years will follow in a couple of days.
Drew holding Will at Aunt Donelda's after dropping off Christmas gifts. Drew was great and never asked to open his gifts before Christmas. Will just laughed and cooed at everything. Drew even understood that we were exchanging gifts in celebration of Jesus's birthday.
Drew put out milk and cookies for Santa and thoroughly investigated the scene Christmas morning. The chair was pushed way back...Santa must be a pretty big guy!
Everyone was dressed up Christmas eve in anticipation of what was to come. Click "continue reading" to see more family photos from Christmas day.
Mama, Drew and Will on Christmas day.
Grandma Danz and Aunt Donelda with the boys.
Daddy, Drew, Mama and Will on Christmas day.
The entire Danz family later in the week.
Will is an incredibly happy baby. If you pay any attention to him, he will immediately smile for you. He is also very vocal, not in a crying out sort of way, rather just cooing and experimenting with the sounds he can make.
Turkey Day was a huge success with the Grandparents, Uncle David and Aunt Catherine. I don't know if Ma got any sleep after cooking a 23 pound turkey along with all the other food and assortment of pies. While waiting for Mary to change into her hot-pink t-shirt (Will didn't care much for Mary's black blouse and let her know it by spitting up on it), I took the opportunity to teach Drew about sneaking tastes of turkey and stuffing. Afterwards, Pa "rested his eyes" while Will dreamed about the day he can have turkey first-hand.
At Will's two month checkup, the little guy was Mr. Ten-Percent: 10th percentile height, 10th percentile weight, 10th percentile head circumference. Today, at four months, the nurse was rubbing his belly for good luck weighing in at 16 lbs 8 oz jumping to 75th percentile while his height, 24 3/4", and head both came in at the 25th percentile.
Drew stayed consistent at the 90th percentile in both height 39 3/4" and weight 37 lbs, 9 oz.
They both got shots...Drew didn't cry. Will on the other hand was not pleased, but Drew helped calm him down and in no time, he was back to his happy self.
Will, held by Aunt Donelda, showing his serious look and, later getting ready to go to dinner, his happy face.
We all went out to Fleming's steakhouse for dinner tonight. It's an upscale restaurant and Drew and Will were the only children we saw there. However, even I was impressed by their behavior. If you had been sitting at an adjacent table with your back to us, you never would have known that there was a three-month old and little boy just a day shy of three years behind you. Oh, and the food was incredible. The bone-in rib eye was possibly the best rib eye I've ever eaten.
Finally, Ma Danz finished the night off reading stories to the boys.
Drew wearing his "I'm the Big Brother" shirt and Will wearing his "I'm the Little Brother" shirt hanging out watching a movie together while they await the arrival of Ma Danz and Aunt Donelda.
Will's two month old photo with a little artistic touch.
Daddy: How do you like Daddy's iPod?
Drew: I like it!
Daddy: Can daddy listen?
Drew: Not done yet.
Daddy: Can Daddy listen now?
Drew: Not done yet.
Daddy: Can Daddy listen now?
Drew: Not done yet.
Rinse and repeat.
Today we all went to Oklahoma City with Ma, Pa and Aunt Catherine to see Thomas the Tank Engine at the Day Out With Thomas. Drew started by getting a Thomas tattoo. Will and everyone else just watched. There were lots of things to do and, fortunately, most of the activities were in the shade under large tents because it was pretty hot out under the sun.
There were lots of huge Thomas train sets to play with as well as other hands-on building activities.
We even got to see and pose for a picture with Sir Topham Hat. Drew loved the hay bale maze.
The highlight of the day was taking a train ride with the whole family. We rode in Clarabell while Thomas pushed us down the track and then pulled us all back home again.
Drew enjoyed looking out the window as all the scenery went past.
Finally, after the train ride, everyone got to pose for pictures with their favorite train engine, Thomas.
Will from top left clockwise: sitting in his bouncy seat, hiding from the paparazzi, napping in daddy's lap and cooing in his sleep.
Drew playing with chalk in front of our home. See Jan, things do get dirty around here. Rest assured though, the activity was immediately followed by a high-pressure power wash and an acid treatment...and that was just for Drew!
Mary caught three little monkeys playing together the other day. Admittedly, not the best picture of Drew, but it was such a good picture of Will that I thought it worthy of sharing.
Will had his baptism today. Monsignor Patrick Gaalaas performed the ceremony at the Church of Saint Benedict in Broken Arrow.
We very much appreciate all the family that were able to join us for the occasion. Besides Will, Mary, Drew and myself, those present included Will's Grandma and Grandpa Youngman, Uncle David, Aunt Michelle, Uncle Matt and his new Godmothers Aunt Catherine and Aunt Donelda.
We were also very fortunate both for Drew and this time for Will to have been the only family having a baptism. We were able to film and take pictures at our leisure both before, during and after the ceremony. Monsignor Gaalaas, besides having a last name that's a Scrabble player's dream, is really an incredible man. He helped us though two miscarriages and has now baptized both our sons. He said that he hopes he'll still be around when the boys have their first communion and we hope the same. I wish I had half the spirit of peace that he exhibits.
Aunt Donelda is in town this weekend visiting from Chicago. In her honor, Mary dressed the boys in their Cubs uniforms. The outfits aren't the favorites of Mary's Cardinal fans family, so this is a good occasion to get them out.
Will taking some naps on the couch, with and without Ted.
In nearly 34 months, Drew has never been sick. Oh sure, he spit up when he was a baby after we shoved too much formula down his gullet, but he's never had a cold, or a fever or an infection of any kind...until last week. Drew had his very first fever. He said his head hurt and his forehead felt warm to the touch. A quick check with the electronic thermometer in the ear confirmed a 101 degree temperature.
After a little children's Tylenol, Drew wanted to cuddle on the couch. Now you have to understand, this is the kid who hates naps and is no fan of settling down for an afternoon snuggle. Maybe because he goes to bed at a reasonable time and sleeps until he wakes up naturally, or maybe he just doesn't need a nap every day (he's down to just one or two a week now). In keeping with his self-imposed no-nap policy, Drew has never just fallen asleep somewhere (other than his car seat) like I see so many other children doing.
The point of all this...last week, for the first time since being an infant, Drew wound up falling asleep in my arms. After he was good asleep, I gently laid him down and took this picture...his first ever non-infant nap on the couch. By that evening Drew was acting himself and his temperature had returned to normal. I hope it doesn't make me a bad parent to have enjoyed comforting my son when he wasn't feeling well.
Mary and I celebrated our 11th anniversary today. We dropped the munchkins off at Mary's parents and enjoyed an absolutely incredible dinner at the Tulsa Warren Duck Club for nearly three hours laughing the whole time. Some of the humor was the result of the success of last year's 10th anniversary surprise (not blogged due to travel) pulled off with the assistance of many individuals across several states all working together flawlessly.
After driving to Chicago for Labor Day weekend last year, Mary and I went out to an incredible steakhouse where ten red roses were waiting on the table. The evening was topped off when the waitress brought out dessert (with half the restaurant’s staff watching) which included a diamond anniversary band for all the years Mary has put up with me. Mary was overwhelmed by my sneakiness orchestrated with the assistance of the jeweler, florist, restaurant staff and my sister.
By contrast, this year was simply a fine dinner out with eleven roses waiting on the table. Despite my explicit instructions to a local florist...spellings included...the card with the flowers was for Mary Danza and, even better, it wished her a "Happy 11th Anniversary, Love Dawn." And, despite my explaining the whole one flower for each year thing, there were a full dozen roses. We wound up laughing the whole evening. Fortunately, the dinner and service at the Duck Club were incredible. We couldn't decide on an appetizer so we ordered two along with salads, entrees and dessert:
Duck Fromage (four cheese blend with duck, herbs, and spices served with toasted pita points), Mushroom Ragout and Polenta (domestic and wild mushrooms cooked in butter, red wine and herbs, served over parmesan polenta with white truffle oil), Mary-Duck Club Salad (seasonal greens, candied walnuts, pears, gorgonzola and yellow tomatoes tossed in sweet poppy seed dressing), Don-Ceasar Salad (made table-side with fresh garlic, eggs...skipped the anchovy), Mary-Blackened Beef Tenderloin (dusted with cajun seasoning, served with bearnaise sauce, whipped potatoes and chef's vegetables), Don-Signature Sampler Blackened Beef Tenderloin (same as Mary's) and Rotisserie Duck (Long Island duck bathed in blend of spices, rotisserie roasted and served with orange sauce), Chocolate Torte Dessert with a chocolate Happy Anniversary banner. (Leftovers are wrapped up in their signature foil duck.)
Drew loves to roughhouse with dad on mom and dad's bed which is where the game of "Heal Me" somehow evolved. Drew is just a month shy of turning two in the video. Aunt Catherine was the videographer and supplied the laugh track.
[Update: Tuesday, August 15, 2006, for those of you who saw an empty white space here today:
YouTube.com, which serves up more than 100 million videos online a day, suffered a six-hour breakdown on Tuesday -- its first-ever unplanned outage, a company spokeswoman confirmed.
"To clarify and ensure accuracy, the site is not down for maintenance," YouTube spokeswoman Julie Supan said in a statement released shortly before the site recovered. "This was an unplanned outage."
Access to the YouTube site was cut off around 7:30 a.m. PDT (1430 GMT) and was only restored around 1:30 p.m. PDT (2030 GMT), or six hours later, according the spokeswoman.
I knew Drew's video would be popular...but I didn't expect it to cause YouTube to crash!]
Drew loves to play basketball on the lawn. Like a true big man, he has no need for dribbling. Nothing good ever comes from bringing the ball below your shoulders. And Drew knows, it's never too early to start practicing your free throws. Drew has the form down but it looks like he's thumbing the ball a little with his left hand. Fortunately, we have time to work on that.
Enough shooting from the outside, time to take it to the hoop. This layup turned into a slam dunk!
We love St. John's Medical Center here in Tulsa so much that Mary, after having spent three days there just a week ago for the birth of Will, wanted to go back and spend the weekend.
In actuality, Mary suffered all last week with a 102/103 degree temperature fighting an infection that didn't respond to antibiotics. After a week without the fever breaking, her doctor ordered her to the hospital on Friday for intravenous treatment. St. John's was incredibly accommodating to the fact that Mary is still nursing Will (which miraculously filters out all the infection) and put her and Will on the pediatrics floor in a private room. The only catch was that somebody (me) had to stay with her to take care of Will when she was unable. So, the three of us spent the last three days and two nights together at St. John's while Ma and Pa took care of Drew at their home.
Through the miracle of modern medicine and antibiotic cocktails, Mary made an incredible 48-hour recovery. We are all home now, a little tired, but feeling much better.
Drew had the greatest time this weekend playing baseball with Pa. Here he is hitting a line drive right into Pa's hands.
After a good hit, Drew will run the bases (tree-retaining wall-other tree) in order to get a home run. Pa tried his best, but just couldn't tag Drew out.
Every home run is capped off by Drew's his own patented "slide" into the t-ball home plate which he developed all by himself. Probably because he's watched major league players barrel through home plate no matter what was in the way, he does the same thing.
Well, it looks like this is turning into a Drew and Will blog. I can't imagine a better direction for it to go. Drew loves to hold his little brother and Will seems to enjoy it too.
This morning Drew and I went to Drew's soccer practice and afterwards enjoyed some Jamba Juice. We then went by Daddy's office, got the car washed and took a walk at around a small pond. At home, we cooled off for a while and then went to the park near our house at the insistence of Drew despite the 100 degree heat. Finally, after reading some books, we both enjoyed a late afternoon nap together.
Later this evening, between feedings, Will napped on my chest for about two hours without making a peep. It was the most wonderful thing.
Drew continues to check out Will. He is completely unfazed by the arrival of his new sibling. No signs of jealousy or acting up in any way. Drew has only been incredibly loving, making sure Will has his "Ted" and that his blankets are pulled up around him. He seems naturally very gentle to him and offers unsolicited soft hugs and kisses.
We're a family of four...our first picture together!
Will found his thumb today and then he found it again...and again. I can't get enough pictures of Drew and me checking out Will. Proud father...ya think!
This is the very first photo of David William, "Will," just seconds after being born at 9:33 a.m. this morning. He is 7lbs, 1oz and 19 1/4 inches long.
Here is Will holding Daddy's finger and yawning in the nursery during his initial assessment.
Mommy and Will, both are doing terrific.
Drew was very excited to see his new little brother previously known as "littlebrothersister."
Daddy, Drew and Will.
One very proud older brother and his new best friend.
On the 4th we went to Ma and Pa's house for a little swimming. Afterwards, Pa grilled out and we enjoyed some backyard fireworks. Later, we all drove out to the river to enjoy Tulsa's fireworks. Drew was so tired out, that he fell asleep on the ride home.
No time for separate posts, so here's a collage of Drew with his Cub's uniform (thanks Aunt Donelda), on his first day of organized sports (Drew is a Thumper in Soccer City's Lil' Kickers program) and cooling off in the backyard playing in the sprinkler.
Donelda proudly showing off her new 2006 Mustang Convertible, black with tan top and interior.
Sometimes after Drew finishes eating he just sits and contemplates for a while. Well, that is, until someone approaches with a camera.
After church today we had a picnic at the church's park and playground. As you can tell, Drew loved playing on all the different equipment. The weather was perfect, in the shade, and Drew really enjoyed trying out new things and pushing the boundaries of his abilities. Mom got nervous a couple of times and dad had to come to the rescue once when the climbing abilities exceed the descending abilities. All and all, a perfect day.
Drew has always been amazingly good at getting his hair cut. He's never cried and was only a little frigidity when he was younger. Robyn always does a great job and she says that Drew is her favorite customer.
The Danz Family Forums, open for just a week, have already been more successful than I ever imagined. I've learned the names of my great-grandfather's parents, Sebastian and Katherine Danz, in addition to now having a photograph of them and their home in Germany from around 1860. I've been provided volumes of information about distant cousins and continue to have sent to me photos I had never seen before of relatives including this family photo of my great-grandfather and his ten surviving children taken around 1911:
Front row, left to right: Elmer, Ella, Clara, Harriet and their father Louis Danz.
Back row, left to right: Walter, Carl, Herman, Ernest, Otto (my grandfather) and William.
My great-grandmother Anna (Hoffman) Danz died during childbirth along with their eleventh child, Louis, in 1901.
I and the other forum members continue to post information related to genealogy as well as more mundane family announcements and exchanges of greetings. So, if you are a Danz or immediate family relative, send an email to the below address and ask for an invitation.
Every few months I get an email from someone named Danz who wants to know if we are related. Two weeks ago, I received an email from a cousin, Louis "Dan" Danz, with who I had not previously corresponded. He mentioned that the cousins probably don't keep in touch as well as they/we should. That's when the idea of a Danz Family forum came to mind.
After two weeks of work installing the generic forums and modifications, tweaking the code (including my first experiences with php and mysql), testing and adding some content to get the ball rolling...I am very pleased to announce the opening of the Danz Family forums.
Unfortunately for most of you reading this and particularly disappointing to my stalker (inside joke), the forums are only for persons with the last name Danz and their immediate relatives. However, anyone can click on over and check out the layout if nothing else. If you are a Danz and want an invitation code, which is needed to join, just send an email to:
...and tell me a little about yourself and I'll send you an invitation code. If you are a Danz, I hope to see you on the inside and that you'll enjoy getting to know and keeping in touch with other Danz family members.
Mary and I are expecting our second child in July. Here is little brother or sister (we won't know until s/he arrives) looking at the camera and in profile giving the thumbs up!
Interstate 40...I-40...I am 40...get it?
Here's a hint from a year ago.
Just thought you might want to know who's running this website. Here's Drew, mocking a liberal troll's attempt to state a coherent argument.
We don't let Drew eat many chips so when he does he gets excited and he got really excited recently when he had his first Pringles. He immediately asked for more "Ringles." We asked, "Do you want more pa-pa-Pringles," trying to get him to pronounce the "p." Drew, ever the literalist, answered, "More pa-pa-Pringles." It was pretty cute, but only lasted a day as the next time we got out the can Drew was content simply asking for "Pringles."
I'm beginning to think there may actually be something wrong going on with our environment. The other day, I caught a giant one-eyed frog roaming our house.
Not wanting to have just another quiet ordinary weekend, Mary thought she'd add a little flair by having a kidney stone--her fourth. So, I came home early from work Friday and off we went to spend the evening at St. John's emergency room. If you haven't had a kidney stone, you are very fortunate...some people compare it to child birth, but Mary tells me such people probably haven't actually birthed a child. Anyway, we (I thought I'd catch a cold to make things even more interesting) spent the weekend on our backs/butts medicated.
Mary had a horrible day at home Saturday and so Sunday morning we called her doctor and told her that something had to be done. We got Mary admitted, hooked up to an IV going full blast and just when she started on her second liter she passed a bowling ball. Seriously, I'm getting three holes drilled in it after it comes back from the labs. All the nurses commented on how it was one of the biggest they'd ever seen.
Tonight, Mary is home, feeling much better and getting some well deserved rest.
All lined up for nap time, from left to right, Huggy, Elmo, Ted, Baby Bear, Drew and Mom.
We spent New Year's eve and day with Mary's family. Her sister Michelle and brother-in-law Matt came in from Kansas City. As you can tell, they are huge Chiefs fans. Drew is sporting his Chiefs shirt they gave him for his birthday.
(*Cough cough* Drew could sure use a Bears jersey.)
We went and saw Santa Clause tonight! Drew asked Santa for, "Car Zoom!" I'll bet Santa knows exactly what that means. This was one of the best Santa's we've ever seen. In fact, we think he might not have even been one of Santa's helpers but, rather, Santa himself!!!
While in Chicago for Thanksgiving, Drew got the opportunity to do some snow shoveling...an activity which played no small role in my no longer living so far north.
The three of us drove up to Chicago (Palatine) for Thanksgiving. We got in after midnight Wednesday night/Thursday morning. I then got up at 6:30am so that I could race in the 5 mile Turkey Trot with my best friend Harry. (We like to do stupid things together.) The temperature was 17 degrees with 20 mph sustained winds and 30+ mph gusts resulting in a wind chill well below zero...perfect running weather.
We all, including the Turkey Trot Turkey, then went to the hospital to visit my mom. She had presents ready for Drew's birthday.
Drew opened his presents, read some books with his Grandma (Ma Danz) and thanked her with a bunch of kisses.
That evening we went to Donelda's where Drew got to celebrate his birthday for a third time. By then, he had become an expert package opener.
Friday, mom got out of the hospital and we all went to Donelda's for a day late Thanksgiving dinner. Drew got in some more time reading with Grandma.
Donelda did a phenomenal job making from scratch: turkey, stuffing, corn casserole, mashed yams with marshmallows, mashed potatoes, fresh beans, cranberries, gravy, rolls and a pumpkin pie!
In our continuing efforts to get Drew to earn his keep, we have introduced him to the joys of dishwashing.
Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin (Drew and his Aunt).
Drew went riding today for his first time. He rode the wildest, orneriest, buckingest bronco you've ever seen. And big...it was nine feet high if it was an inch. But, Drew broke it.
The weather today was absolutely amazing. After church, we played ball in our backyard. Then we picnicked on our patio enjoying grilled bratwursts and hot dogs.
I cannot leave my shoes laying around without someone putting them on and sloshing around the house in them.
Over Labor Day weekend Drew did a little part-time life guarding for his Aunt "D" at Palatine's Family Aquatic Center (Community Pool).
After his shift in the chair, Drew took to the waters enjoying the zero depth, fountains, sprayers and slides.
But, Drew's most favorite activity was playing hoops. We'd drag him away only to have him spot the "ball, ball, ball" from far across the pool.
Drew went non-stop for over three hours as we all took turns trying to keep up with him. His only breaks were to get a quick hug and kiss from Grandma. Drew has really grown up since last year's visit.
I was finally able to put the little guy to work in the yard. He's starting to earn his keep!
Reverse angle after the jump.
Every day we hear, "Book, book, book." Like most any child, Drew has always loved to be read to and, just as much, he loves to read on his own...or, at least, look at books on his own.
Nothing beats getting to lick the cake batter off of the mixer.
Nothing is more fun on a hot summer day than playing in the sprinkler.
So I'm home alone with Drew and I'm washing some dishes. All of a sudden I notice it's been real quiet for a few minutes...as every parent knows, always a sign of trouble. Drew? Drew?
I'm looking for him in the living room, the dinning room, the den, the bedroom...and then I find him. On the other side of the counter where I had been doing dishes quietly standing in my shoes exactly where I had left them with a big grin on his face just having a grand old time.
This evening, we all attended Drew's Aunt Catherine's dance recital. We got to see Catherine perform ballet, modern and tap routines. It was Drew's second recital. We all sat up close, which was a good idea as Drew paid a lot of attention to the dancers and never made any fuss.
Yesterday, Drew attended his third wedding. The daughter of a coworker of mine got married. However, Drew was probably most excited by the Bananas Foster dessert, a fancy twist to his favorite fruit.
There's nothing more fun than watching daddy mow the lawn.
On Drew's nine month checkup, he was 90th percentile in height and 70th percentile for weight. I missed reporting on his 12 month checkup. However, today Drew had his 18 month check up and I am most proud to report that he is 97th percentile in height and 75th percentile in weight. Woot woot...we've got a ball player!
Drew also got two shots and, althought he made a sad face, he didn't cry.
"Mama" enjoying her card and gifts from Drew on Mother's Day. It's also Drew's half-birthday and he's very excited about his new "Melmo."
Future Illini star Drew, watching some hoops and practicing his slam dunk celebration:
Who knew learning to use a spoon could be so much fun. Notice the bib--we are preparing him for a lifetime of disappointment as a Cubs fan.
Here's Drew pointing out the first snowfall of the year and showing how excited he is:
Drew kept telling me to "come closer"..."a little closer"..."just a little closer"...hmmmm, gotta keep my eye on him.
While driving to Chicago on Christmas Eve, we received a not unexpected phone call that Mary's grandmother--her mother's mother--had passed away. We were logistically prepared, having packed funeral clothes, but still such news is never an easy thing to receive.
We got into Chicago a little after midnight, said our Merry Christmases, unpacked and went to bed. Christmas day was celebrated at my sister Donelda's. Between her and my mom, our family continued the fine tradition of over doing it. Barely able to walk around all the Christmas presents, we enjoyed an amazing selection of all homemade rum balls, peanut brittle, peanut butter balls (covered in chocolate), chocolate chip cookies, and snickerdoodles. After marathon present opening, we all overate a huge meal prepared by my sister. Our family believes, if it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing.
Later in the week we drove to St. Louis for the wake and funeral. Then, drove back to Chicago to celebrate New Years with friends of mine at Harry's home who I've been friends with since third grade, although, I think we only started getting in trouble together since eighth grade. New Year's day was a drive back to Tulsa.
I commented to Mary's cousin Tom that we were driving a big "M" (motioning with my hand how we had driven from Tulsa to Chicago to St. Louis to Chicago to Tulsa). He, more accurately, pointed out with his own hand motion that we were really just making a dark "I."
Christmas was, without a doubt, my dad's favorite holiday. He passed away last year just before Christmas and we wound up Christmas Eve/Morning in a Holiday Inn Express between funerals/wakes. This year Mary, Drew, my sister, mom and I will all be together to properly celebrate the birth of Christ.
But this is about my dad and how he so cherished the Christmas season. When I was younger, I remember him meticulously hand painting ornaments. Every year, he beautifully decorated the exterior of the house with Christmas lights on all the bushes and along the gutters and eaves. When he got older and was no longer physically able to hang lights from the gutters by climbing a ladder the way he used to, he rigged a system of permanent hooks on the house and used a pole with a custom end he made to raise the stings of lights and place them taught on the hooks.
We always had a real Christmas tree. Everyone helped hang ornaments. Most important was that each person hung the ornaments that they had made in school or that, otherwise, were special to them. My dad always hung a small bell that he had on his Christmas tree since he was a child. He always hung it in the same place at the same height and would recount for us each year how, when he was little and first learning to talk, he would tap it while saying, "bell, bell."
Some time around 1920 my dad's dad, my grandfather Otto, started trimming the family Christmas tree using lead tinsel. If you haven't seen lead tinsel hung one strand at a time on a live Christmas tree, you are really missing out on something special. For obvious reasons, lead tinsel hasn't been sold for many years. Lead tinsel is very heavy and doesn't blow in the slight wind created by someone walking by like the feathery aluminum tinsel you buy now days. Lead tinsel is very soft and crinkles in a unique way that reflects light in an attractive understated manner unlike any modern tinsel. However, being made of soft lead, the old tinsel is very very fragile and must be handled carefully and slowly. With these constraints, every year my dad would put the same package(s) of lead tinsel on our tree one strand at a time, and take it all off one strand at a time to be used the next year, just as his father had done before him. The process took several evenings, spending several hours each evening.
My dad loved tracking down difficult to find gifts and would often order items months in advance. He would then meticulously wrap his packages. Sometimes he perfectly lined up wrapping paper patterns so that you could barely tell where a seam or fold was located. Other times he would seal every seam and fold with tape so that it was near impossible to open without a knife. He would often camouflage an easily identifiable gift in an odd shaped or oversized box and maybe even with a weight thrown in so that the recipient wouldn't know what they were receiving until they finally opened up the box. There was no picking up a wrapped package and knowing it was a CD at our house. My dad's specialty, however, was nesting a half-dozen or more boxes in each other, each fully wrapped, to make opening a "biggie" all the more magical. This was done, up to the point where we expected a really expensive gift to be at the end of all the nested boxes, then he changed up and put a regular or gag gift in the last box. You just never knew what he was up to. My dad also started the tradition of getting himself something each year that no one knew about and wrapping it himself with a tag, "From Santa, To Donald." He'd then unwrap it Christmas day in front of us genuinely exhibiting all the excitement of child.
I don't really remember getting any toys when I was a kid other than on birthdays and at Christmas. Likewise, even with clothes, the vast majority were received at Christmas. This combined with the fact that by any reasonable standard my mom and dad overdid Christmas gift giving. We weren't rich, but were sufficiently well off that the wrapped presents, some years, flowed out of the living room into the foyer. We even had to hide gifts in another room when guests came over because it was just so ridiculous. Then Christmas day the unwrapping began.
It wasn't until I was married that I learned that some people unwrap gifts differently on Christmas day. Mary's family pretty much says ready, set, go...and everyone unwraps their presents at the same time. But not the Danz's. We sit and watch everyone unwrap their gifts one at a time, including taking the gift out of its box and looking at it closely or trying it on, peppered along the way with many "ohhs" and "ahhs." Despite there only being four of us, it would take from 8:00 in the morning until after lunch to open everything, although there were plenty of breaks for eating, reading instructions or just playing.
My dad will certainly be missed this Christmas, but mostly he will be remembered.
Just the happiest kid in the world, sharing the love, giving a favorite stuffed puppy a hug.
Due to the change in web hosts, I never got to post Drew's Halloween pictures. He dressed up as Winnie the Pooh. So, better late than never, here's Drew doing some push-ups to get pumped for the big night; sitting in his saucer handing out candy; and being just as cute from behind.
While pumpkins apparently have the ability to suck the life forces out of Drew, there is something absolutely hilarious about putting on Daddy's shirt.
This is also one of the last photos with the mop-top before it was cut for his first birthday and family photos.
Apparently the most boring thing to an 11 month old is pumpkins. Thousands of pumpkins of all different kinds and sizes, a hundred photos and not one smile or hint of interest.
This is one of my most favorite photographs: me and my grandfather sometime around 1970 on his farm in Goltry, Oklahoma. Survivor of the Oklahoma dust bowls, he was an incredible man. As an accomplished farmer and mechanic he could grow, raise, fix or build anything in the middle of nowhere relying only on his own hands, hard work and ingenuity. As a small child I was in awe of his talents and skills which were surpassed only by his gentleness and kindness.
Drew showing how happy he is to wear his train shirt and showing off his mouth full of teeth and chipmunk cheeks.
Left on his own, Drew would readily take on the stairs. Looks like it's time to buy some gates to keep the kid corralled.
Here's Drew mugging for the camera again as he shows off his standing skills. The necessary child-proof zone is climbing higher every day.
Mommy was having a peach popsicle when Drew crawled across the room, pulled himself up on the recliner and made it clear that she was eating a popsicle meant for two.
Drew had his nine month checkup yesterday and measured in the 90 percentile in height and 70 percentile for weight.
That's my boy!
Thanks to his Aunt, Drew got the Family Aquatic Center (Community Pool to us old folks) all to himself! Here he is lounging in the zero depth waters, guarding from a lifeguard chair and showing off his mastery of the giant frog.
I don't know who had more fun, Drew or his Aunt.
Drew had a great time recently visiting his Grandma in Illinois.
The little Midwestern boy has now been to Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.
(Map created with World66.)
Drew eating his oatmeal just like his daddy used to do every morning.
Drew's first swim at his grandparents, second swim ever, with a little assistance from his aunt.
Drew on our couch striking some poses...the little ham.
I am convinced that my better half and I must be the worst parents in the world. This is because I firmly believe that God only gives you challenges that you are capable of handling. Accordingly, since my little mini-me has been such an incredible blessing, has yet to be sick, laughs all the time, sleeps through the night, and millions of other wondrous things, I can only conclude that God saw fit to give us the perfect baby because we obviously couldn't handle anything else.
My father's memorial tree was planted in a park near his and my mom's home. It is a single specimen River Birch (Betula Nigra) with a plaque embedded in cement.
Thank you very much to everyone who made donations to help pay for the tree, plaque and planting.
Thanks to my employer, we all got to enjoy five days and four nights (really just four days and four nights) at the Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas last week.
Drew enjoyed the pillow chocolates but like a true Danz, he wasn't satisfied with just one.
Drew wasn't much for keeping his sunglasses on.
A lifeguard in training: working on the tan and getting thrown into the air.