Monday, May 10, 2010

Minnesota to see Oliver

We went to Minnesota to see Oliver. Oh yeah, Sara and Ian were there too.  And here we are with Oliver at the Minneapolis farmer's market. By the way, the rest of the McCloone family was there too. This picture does not do justice to how cold it was while we were at the market. It was very nice, large and quite impressive, but cold.

We had a wonderful time getting acquainted with Oliver.  He is very good-natured and full of smiles.

After a yummy Mother's Day brunch prepared by Sara, we toured Minehaha Falls.

Here he is again.   Ollie has a really big smile which took a few shots to capture.

Not  quite . . . pay attention young man.

Got it !  A smile for Nana.  There were lots of smiles but we were not able to capture many as pictures. (Not shown -- darling coos, gurgles, and full body happy-wiggles.)

While there we also drove down Summit Avenue and saw beautiful homes including the mansion of James J. Hill, the railroad magnate. That was a fun drive.

We enjoyed visiting with Sara, getting to know Ian better and having some fun with little Oliver. It was a very nice visit.

A Thought from Pop, the Old Dust Mop

It was nice to visit Sara, Ian and for the first time, Oliver. He is a cute and happy boy.

Family is so important and it was wonderful to see Sara, get better acquainted with Ian and to meet and play with Oliver. I love my family and everyone of them is important and precious.

I hope to spend eternity with my family and through the atonement of Christ that is possible. As President Packer said, ".... there is no habit, no addiction, no rebellion, no transgression, no apostasy, no crime exempted from the promise of complete forgiveness. That is the promise of the atonement of Christ."

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Wendy at her favorite Restaurant

The Marriott Center

Ryan with his tie from - the best place in the world to buy ties.

Mother and daughter (Ashley is the third person in the family to wear this graduation cap and gown.  It was first worn by Mom (2008), then Nicole (2009), and now Ashley.  Wendy is next.)

Graduate and graduate

Ashley and Nicole

Steve, Wendy, Ryan, Ashley, Nicole, Jeff

Nicole with her cousin Christine Johnson (Lynn and Marian's daughter)

We are very proud of Ashley and Ryan and their accomplishments.

Graduation week at BYU brought Wendy and Steve to Provo to honor our latest graduates.  We are very proud of both Ryan and Ashley and honor Ashley who completed her senior recital and final classes while dealing with morning sickness.  Cousin Christine Johnson also graduated so seeing Uncle Lynn and Marian was an extra bonus for the trip.  Holly was also in Utah valley that week to make all the selections for the house they are having built in Highland.

Ashley and Ryan will stay in Provo until the end of June.  Their baby is due May 21.  We are eager to have Ashley and new baby here in Maryland during the summer while Ryan does his job training at Goldman in New York City.

Holly and Dave received three offers on their house here and they will be moving out on July 31.

Nicole and Jeff are leaving Provo for Denver on May 11.  Jeff has a summer internship at J.P. Morgan and Nicole will work at the summer day camp where she worked last summer.

Mom and Dad are headed for Minneapolis this weekend to visit Sara and Ian and baby Oliver.

Cousin Jenny Truman had baby number 8, little Braden Truman, on April 29.  That makes 4 girls and four boys for her and Chad.

Grandma Morris will turn 90 on May 24 and we plan a trip to New York to honor her on this special birthday.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Strasburg Here We Come

Strasburg Here We Come

During the spring break, we rode the rails with Michael, Reed, and Sadie on the Strasburg Railroad, located near Lancaster, PA.  The old steam locomotives and rail cars are authentic from a century ago and travel a route through the Amish farmlands.  As we passed farmers tilling their fields with horse-drawn plows, it was easy to imagine we were stepping back into history. 

Here it comes. We are just about to board.

One of the old rail cars behind our car and a tree. 

Here our traveling companions:  "Choo-choo," said Sadie as we pulled out from the station.

Michael enjoying the ride.  (Notice the velvet seats, the period lamps, and the fittings in the car.  On cold days, the conductor fires up the coal stove in the car -- if you look carefully, you can see the stove pipe in the far back corner of the coach.)

Having fun, aren't we?

Time to get off.

We all had a good time and it was great fun.  

Monday, February 8, 2010

It Snowed and Snowed and Snowed

A Lalapoloozer of a Storm

We live in an area where in most years we get little if any snow. However, there have been a few memorable snow storms and we got one over the weekend.  It snowed continuously from Friday morning to late Saturday afternoon leaving us with a total of 28 inches.  Bless our good neighbor across the street who plowed out our driveway and all our adjoining neighbors. 

During such a paralyzing snow storm a hush falls over the neighborhood.  The only movement outside is the relentless snow.  All our neighboring wildlife -- the squirrels, the deer, the rabbits, and geese -- have hunkered down in their hiding places.  We are grateful to be safe inside -- snug and warm.

Here are a few photos of the storm's aftermath:

Did we mention that we bought a new car before Christmas?  For those of you far away, we thought you'd like to see what it looks like.

We had a lot of limbs come down.  Dad will be busy with his chain saw and trips to the dump.

There is the view of MacClintock Drive toward 97.  The tracks are from Mr. Douglas's tractor.  We did get a county plow through early Sunday morning.

Holly and Dave and family, however, anticipated the storm and are spending this week in the 80 degree Caribbean waters on a Disney cruise.

Today 's weather report tells us another big storm is headed our way and we can anticipate perhaps twelve, even twenty, more inches of snow starting tomorrow, Tuesday, February 9.  

We have been shivering through one of the coldest winters on record and the heaviest snowfall since 1899. We are not the only ones.  Lisa and Brian have had a terrific ice storm and they were among the lucky few who didn't lose their electrical power.

Just to mention a few other events of interest, Dad has officially retired. He completed his final day at work the last week in January.

Nicole was invited to be one of three pianists to perform in a master class for Menahem Pressler, a virtuoso concert pianist who is performing at BYU this week.

 Jeff has accepted an offer from J.P. Morgan for an accounting internship in Denver this summer.  Nicole will able to work at the day camp where she was a camp counselor last summer.

Little Oliver McLoone is now pushing ten pounds and Sara is feeling a little better every day.

Brett ran a half marathon last week in Pasadena with the finish line in the Rose Bowl.

Lisa and Brian will be moving into their new house in Cache, Oklahoma on March 8.  They will have much more space inside and out and be within walking distance of the kids' schools.

A Thought from Dad
The scriptures tell us, "...Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly and then thy confidence shall wax strong in the presence of God." I know that God is our Father and that he knows us and loves us. I want to live so that my confidence shall wax strong in the presence of God.

President Benson once said, "We once knew well our....Father in Heaven. Now we are here. Our memories are veiled.... Nothing is going to startle us more when we pass through the veil to the other side than to realize how well we know our Father and how familiar His face is to us."

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Waning Days of Fall and the First Taste of Winter

The last of our trees have shed their leaves and our neighbors are again visible through the bare branches. We have entered late fall and Thanksgiving has come and gone. Yesterday we cut and hauled home our Christmas tree from the tree farm and today winter is announcing its arrival with the first snowfall of the season. Here are some highlights since our last blog:

Trip to Utah

The first weekend in October, Dad and I were able to enjoy a great conference weekend in Utah which was really our excuse to visit Nicole and Jeff and Ashley and Ryan. Arriving mid-day on Friday, we got our first look at Nicole's and Jeff's sweet nest in the married student housing just a block from the Provo temple in Wymount Terrace. We were able to get tickets for the BYU-Utah State football game that evening and as we waited at Brick Oven for our pizza order, we clearly saw from all the blue t-shirts that we were definitely in Cougarville. As usual, our high-priced tickets landed us with choice seats in the end zone five rows from the top of the stadium but at half-time, Nicole led us to some empty seats in the student section next to her, Jeff, Ashley, and Ryan and close to the field. It's always fun to see BYU win and we were proud to see Jeff and Nicole have the honor of shooting off the ROTC cannon (appropriately named "George Q.") to celebrate the fifth BYU touchdown.

Saturday we were off to the Conference Center where we met up with Dave and Michael and had a chance to visit with Dave's parents. While Dad and Jeff attended the priesthood session, Nicole and I did some grocery shopping to stock her pantry a bit and for our Sunday dinner.

Sunday morning found us all again at the Conference center, this time with the addition of Ashley, Ryan, and Ryan's brother Spencer. Afterward, we returned to Provo and were able to put together a credible Sunday dinner at our Residence Inn suite and sit cozily together to take in the last conference session.

Football Season

As a true-blue Cougar fan, Dad schedules his Saturdays around BYU's football schedule. Each Saturday game day finds us in front of the television either at home or at Holly's, depending on which of us receives the cable station broadcasting the game. Dad has been known to express wonderment that any ward event or wedding reception could possibly have been scheduled to conflict with such an important event as a BYU game.

Holly and Dave Go to Las Vegas

With Holly taking the opportunity for a brief vacation while Dave did some business in Las Vegas, Mom and Dad got to have Reed and Sadie as house guests for four days. What fun! But what changes in our routines! We were fixing kid-oriented meals rather than adult food, driving kids to school, picking them up, mopping and picking up the house far more frequently, playing games, supervising bedtime routines, and then dropping our weary bones on the sofa at the end of the day. How did we ever do this full time? Of course, the reward was in having the pleasure and company of two extremely sweet-faced, charming, and cheerful children to love and to care for.

To Holly's credit, it took several adults to manage what she does daily: besides us, a caretaker for Molly, helpers to put Molly on and take her off her schoolbus, and the Daly family that hosted Michael.

Brett runs another marathon

Brett took a quick trip to New York City to complete yet another marathon (number 9) -- this one (with apologies to Boston) he declared a most spectacular venue in which to run. While this was not his personal best, we all think his running time of 3:54 was very impressive.

Sara and Ian are homeowners

After a long process of much searching and interminable paperwork, Sara and Ian closed on their first home at 2622 Longfellow Avenue and now have the joys of home ownership. After a month of carting over many boxes, moving heavy furniture, and working with contractors to remodel the kitchen and bathroom, they were able to complete the move by December 1st.

Dinner with Sisters Stephens, Lant, and Dalton

Dad tends to be rather low-key about church assignments and I tend to be oblivious to what is going on. He had mentioned that on November 13 we had the responsibility to be the host for a general Relief Society board member who would be coming to teach some training meetings for all the stakes in our mission. Finally, the day before Mom pinned Dad down what our schedule would be: we were to pick up Sister Carol Stephens, who would be coming from Philadelphia, at the BWI train station, take her to the stake Relief Society president's house for lunch, participate in a focus group meeting with her at our stake, and then drive her to Frederick stake for more meetings where she, Sister Cheryl Lant (the general Primary president), and Sister Elaine Dalton (the general Young Women president) would be giving training meetings. As we pulled up to the train station, I asked Dad, "Will you be able to recognize Sister Stephens?" Dad answered, "Sure, she'll be with Sister Lant, and Sister Dalton." (Fortunately, just a few minutes later, Frederick stake President and Sister Suhaka drove up to escort those sisters to their meetings).

Later that evening, we had the enjoyable privilege of sharing dinner with all of the aforementioned and Elder Ralph Hardy of the Seventy. All three sisters were delightful to meet and we marvel how well they manage their exhausting schedules.

Ward boundary change

We will be moving into the new Clarksville chapel within the month and last Sunday, we had a long-awaited four-ward special meeting to announce the boundary changes. The Catonsville ward received a new name -- the Ellicott City ward and gained our members who lived in the Centennial and Running Brook neighborhoods -- the Spencers, Crosbys, Moessings, Frenches, Heisers, Hendersons, Beada Hill, and Elmores. Our ward, Columbia First, picked up a small area portion of the Olney ward in Howard county along Mink Hollow Road and a several families from the Savage Mill ward -- Brain Meshkin and family and Alex and Jeff Franco family among them. Boundaries were also realigned between Columbia Second, Ellicott City, and Savage Mill. Mom had not considered how sad it would be to see dear friends moved to new wards. Dad came home from church about five hours later and said he had fewer tears to dry than expected. In his talk, Dad emphasized the great amount of prayer and study that went into the changes.

Another Fine Thanksgiving

This year we enjoyed another fine feast that included Dave's uncle Dee and aunt Nadine and their son Jeremy and his wife Valerie. As always, we wish we could have had Brett, Lisa and Brian and family, Sara and Ian, and Nicole and Jeff.

We were especially blessed in having Ashley and Ryan here for the holiday. We wish we could keep them here always and were very sad to see them return to Provo.

First Snow

Our first snow of the season fell on December 5. According to the forecast, it will be shortlived and will be all gone by morning.

A Thought From Dad

On Thanksgiving day I gave thanks as I was thinking about how grateful I am to be your father and grandfather. I am really blessed to have such a wonderful posterity. Our family was really blessed this year with the addition of Ian and Jeff. Thank you all for warming my heart. I love you all with a love which is eternal.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Here we are again

After an extended absence, we return to update our family doings from the last several months.

Nicole's Summer

Wedding preparations for Nicole and Jeff were our primary occupation during the spring months. In addition, Mom was also able to see Nicole graduate from BYU twelve days before the big wedding day -- wearing the cap and gown Mom had worn the year before. Besides being able to be the proud parent, Mom also had the pleasure of camping out in Nicole's apartment while in Provo (many thanks to Ashley for supplying a sheet and towel). Then, with one short week at home, Jeff arrived from Utah, the ward sisters generously gave Nicole a lovely bridal shower, and we had the sweet and sacred afternoon at the temple for Nicole to receive her endowment.

Thanks to all our family and to Jeff's family, the wedding and reception in Utah was perfect -- even the weather smiled on our bride and groom. Jeff's family were incredible in all they did. We were also impressed with the efficiency and speed with which they did everything.

Thanks to family and kind friends, the reception in Maryland was beautiful. Thanks to Holly, we have many beautiful photographs to relive our memories.

What have we done this summer?

Dad is now semi-retired -- working three days a week with Thursdays and Fridays off. In the first weeks of being home, he single-handedly took down three mature trees, taking numerous trips to the dump with the branches, and creating an impressive stack of firewood. With the extra time, we are now able to attend the temple together each Friday.

Mom was called as a temple worker and now spends each Wednesday in the temple. One duty that was unexpected is the occasional assignment to be at the temple switchboard and take incoming calls. While Mom received very careful training in her other duties, the telephone training consisted of a five-second demonstration of which button to push to answer an call, and being handed an instruction manual -- the first page instructing what to do in case someone calls in a bomb threat. Fortunately, Mom's hour at the switchboard was uneventful.

Fun with Some Grandchildren

In July, Dad traveled to Oklahoma to bring Lindsay and Hannah to spend ten days with us. What fun! How nice to have children in the house -- and what charming and sweet grandchildren these two are. Of course, one of the biggest attractions was the opportunity to play with their cousins so there was great fun with overnights, picnics, beach, pie-making, and water park.

This year we did not attend Education Week at BYU as we usually do, which was a little sad, but we were home for once to harvest a bumper tomato crop. Wendy and Steve were in California and Hawaii at the time, we also got to harvest theirs.

New York

At th end of August, we brought Michael with us to New York to visit Grandma Morris. Now 89, Grandma looks wonderful, fixed us delicious dinners (over our protests that we would take over meals), and moves with impressive agility. We are glad Grandma has had a chance to get to know Michael better, and wish she could have this with all the grandchildren. We spent one day touring the Church historical sites in Fayette and Palmyra. We think Michael enjoyed climbing the Hill Cumorah and walking through the Sacred Grove but he really enjoyed the pizza we bought in Palmyra.

Mom has filled the freezer with blackberries, tomatoes, raspberries, and peaches. The Larriland peaches have been heavenly, as usual -- it's a little sad for the summer season to end.

Dad monitors the progress of the Clarksville chapel closely and we are excited to anticipate going to church there before the year's end. The interior walls are finished now and each week shows more progress.

A Brief Word from Dad

Nothing is more important to dad than family. He appreciates the words of the Apostle John who said, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in the truth." (3 John 4) May we all walk in the truth.

Some pictures of our New York trip

Michael at the Whitmer log cabin in Fayette

Michael at the Smith log cabin in Paymyra

Michael and grandpa in the Sacred Grove

The Palmyra Temple

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sara's Wedding, Nicole's Recital, Shower, Fire

Congratualtions to Sara and Ian!
Sara and Ian are married! We are so happy to welcome Ian to our family. We had a wonderful time in Fajardo, Puerto Rico meeting Ian's family and celebrating the wedding. Sara did a fantastic job in finding a beautiful site, arranging a great reception, coordinating countless details to make such a memorable occasion.

We loved being together as a family to be with Sara and Ian. We managed a little sight-seeing, too. This iguana is posing on the walls of the old San Juan fort.

Holly and Wendy pose by a collection of cannonballs.

We drove up, up and over the mountain over interminable switchbacks and spectacular vistas to reach the El Yunque rain forest. We hoped our trek through the rain forest would be worth the lurching we felt in our stomachs from our dizzying drive! With Brett as our guide, we hiked the trails to the beautiful falls -- a fantastic experience we will never forget. Here are Wendy, Lindsay, and Dad.

Here we see Brett and Wendy at the pool at the bottom on the falls.

The day after the wedding, we spent the day at 7 Seas beach in Fajardo. Mom and Dad rested in lounge chairs under the palms and watched the younger generation enjoy, as Jane Austin would say, some "sea bathing."

Watching Lindsay was so much fun! Here she models a seaweed hairdo.

What a contrast! One day we were basking in soft tropical breezes and then we returned home to the biggest snow of the season. March roared in like a lion!

Nicole's Recital

We were home just a few days and then we were off to Utah to be with Nicole for her senior piano recital. Nicole's performance was fantastic -- as her teacher said in congratulating her, "Phenomenal!" Nicole played an hour long program: Piano Sonata No. 3 from Dello Joio, French Suite No. 6 from Bach, Chopin's Scherzo No. 4, Sonata in D Major by Mozart. Ashley joined her for the final number, Suite No. 2 for Two Pianos by Rachmaninoff. We could not have been prouder of Nicole and Ashley. We were happy to see the family members who were able to come to the recital: Percy and Clara, Larry and Judy Payne, cousins Doug, Brent, and Christine Johnson. We thank Doug for taking these pictures afterward. Here we see a very happy Nicole and Jeff.

Ashley and Nicole, who have been playing together since they were five years old.

The next day we devoted to wedding preparations. The morning activity was a trip to the bridal shop for the fitting of Nicole's wedding gown. That afternoon Jeff took us to meet his grandparents -- a sweet and memorable occasion for us. Then it was on to Centerville where Jeff's Aunt Pam was hosting a bridal shower for Nicole. The theme of the shower was a "wedding gone wrong" that the the guests were invited to correct. Here we see Jeff's Aunt Gayle, Aunt Pam, and Grandmother Packer as Nicole models a gown from the 1980's (compliments of Deseret Industries).

This is the "wedding buffet" (aka the shower refreshments) prepared by the guests.

Nicole models her updated gown.

Of course, opening presents is a very fun part of a shower! Nicole is opening Ashley's and Wendy's gift here.

A Sobering Day in Our Neighborhood
The morning after we returned from Utah, Mom had just finished a phone call when she heard sirens, and noticed smoke drifting by the window. Our neighbor's house behind us was in flames. Mom ran outside and stood with our neighbors as we all watched in sober fascination as the fire consumed the house. At first, flames could be seen through the first floor windows but in a matter of moments the fire raced through the second floor and through the roof. High winds fanned the blaze and the air was thick with smoke. Fortunately, all the family members had left for work and no one was hurt but the contents of the house were totally destroyed. We later read in the local paper that estimated damage was over $700,000.

Only a few seconds elapsed between these two photos.

A Word from Dad:

One of the most precious gifts I possess is the gift of knowing that God is my Father and He is your Father. I know that he is my Father. I know that we knew Him before we were born and that after we die, we will be surprised when we look upon His face to see how familiar He is to us. I know that.

In the scriptures we learn that our faith will grow if we nourish it. It is best nourished by reading the scriptures and by prayer. We also learn that our faith will wither if it is not nourished. As I study the word of the Lord and as I speak to Him in prayer, my faith and understanding have grown and continue to grow.

I know that God lives. I know that He knows us and that He loves us.