The boys are pretty good for candid pictures, but posed pictures could be more difficult.  This snapshot will  do until we get to a professional sitting as shown below.

§ Velociraptor


We enjoyed origami, and Max had a project due for school. He was supposed to make a diorama, and this was really a fun project. Max was especially proud of attaching the giant 3D mouth to the flat image of a velociraptor jumping off the back wall. This project was on the hutch of his desk for years.

§ Maxwell’s Eighth Birthday


Max was always very social, and he always wanted to have friends over. For his birthday on 19 April 2005 we had this group of five for overnight plus two neighbor boys. This group of five would be return for the next couple of years. I believe the tall boy is Tyler, and at the time he was Max’s best friend. The boy in the checked shirt is Jaime, Beryl’s son. The smaller boy, Jake, is from Sunday school. The boy with the stripe on his sleeve is Peter, also from Sunday school; he and Max really connected. For most of these boys it was their first-ever overnight.

Ephun and Habuka were our neighbors from Nigeria. We enjoyed having them at the party, and we were sad when they moved away. They moved to Ester’s old house perhaps a mile away, but we did not get together after that.

We got together for cake. See all of the boys posing as Max prepares to blow-out the candles. After that we kept the party indoors. I was amazed at how easy it was to manage this group of boys, and I really enjoyed these overnights.

Later we had another celebration just for family. Max wanted an angel-food cake with strawberries and chocolate drippings. He didn’t like frosting at all. Grandma and Grandpa sent a present which included a Bionicle. I believe there were also some dress clothes as Maxwell liked to dress sharp and wear a tie.

§ Bucket List Item – Family Photos


We had a thriving home in our town house, and I had a few items on my near-term bucket list. Family photos was a high priority, and this is just one of them. Next we will get to family vacation.

§ Family Vacation


There is so much that it gets a separate Family Vacation page.

It was the family vacation by which all future family vacations are judged. Later Max would tell me what made it fork for him. “Cousins!” His vote for minimal drive time and maximum time with cousins. Jacob loved the fact that he saw all of the Great Lakes except Lake Erie, but we saw that one on a separate trip. Damien was more happy and extroverted than I had ever seen him. His favorite word was “conk”, and Auntie Lynn was called “Auntie Conk”.

We took the long route over Lake Huron, over Lake Superior, and after some adventures we met Grandma and Grandpa in Duluth. We made the return journey together back to the Twin Cities where we stayed with the Walek family.

Grandma decided to accompany us on the journey home across Northern Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, through Saulte Sainte Marie,across Manatoulin Island, across Lake Huron on a ferry and back through Niagara Falls.

§ Damien Turns Five


Damien took a moment to give a hammy grin before blowing out the candles. I cannot remember why we had two separate cakes, but we did. Notice that Damien’s favorite dishes are Clifford the Big Red Dog. Notice his age matches the year, age 5 in `05.

New race tracks were really fun. There was a trick to going fast but not wiping out around the corners. Damien played and played until he took a nap with some new stuffed animals. One was a dog that he still has. It was a little disappointing when the electrical connectors on the cars and tracks started to foul up. It was difficult to keep it working.

§ Jacob Turns Ten


Jacob liked to spend a lot of time in his room mostly working at his desk. Notice the items for coloring. The theme for this birthday was to make his room a nicer space. The Children’s Atlas on the wall behind him was a start, and the blue bean bag chair and the nightstand with presents was another part. The boys were in a good mood and posed for a couple of photos.

Jacob also got a new CD player and alarm clock which he really enjoyed. You can see them on the nightstand in the picture on the right. I guess the boys are letting me know that enough pictures have been taken. But, you can see the lay of the room. There are bunk beds even though Jacob did not share a room.

Matthew Eaton joined us for cake that year. You might notice that Jacob has his Sponge Bob cup in front of him. The Highlights calendar is on the wall. Grandma always sent Highlights. There were bananas on the table. It was hard to keep bananas stocked in those days.

§ Haley Visits


I definitely did not take enough pictures of this visit. Lisa lost her coat at the airport, and it was cold out. We made a trip to get an inexpensive replacement, and we stopped at Chili’s for lunch. Otherwise I remember purchasing a lot of Play-Doh and Play-Doh toys for the kids to play with. Eight years later I passed all of that Play-Doh to Joan’s sister Theresa to use with her young son and grandson.

The kids really enjoyed each other. Here we see Haley and Maxwell laughing together. Next we see Damien on top, and all three are laughing together. The boys are wearing their favorite Disney pajamas from last Christmas – Stitch for Max and Nemo for Damien.

§ I Turn Forty-One


One can see why birthday 41 was a good one. I was surrounded by my boys. Look along the bottom row, Jacob, Damien and Maxwell are all happy. So am I. I was trying to remember what was in the red box with a card from Max, but I cannot recall. I still have my favorite Williams-Sonoma apron.

§ Another Merry Christmas


It was a fun year for opening presents. The big gift to all of the boys was the Nerf dart guns – supervision required.

For Damien Spring Burst was a huge hit and got use for years to come. You could never go wrong with Tinker Toys. The felt board was too much like school and did not get a lot of use. Kid Kinex were a huge hit, and Damien models some creations. No front teeth for Christmas.

Max was always happy with another Bionicle, and the big set shown lower left may have included a mask to be worn by Max. I think that may have been a gift from a cousin Brett. We did pick names that year.

Max really likes Lego, and here he shows off much newly assembled Star Wars Lego. The X-Wing Fighter below was the big one, but he especially liked the one with the tracks that was used on the Wookie planet. He assembled them so fast!

Jacob liked his Jedi light-saber training set from Auntie Ruth. Notice the Minnesota Vikings fleece from Auntie Lisa. Jacob did a great job following the directions and building Star Wars Lego sets. The X-Wing Fighter was really complicated, and the Tie Fighter was difficult too.

§ Happy New Year with Spraying Chocolate


Ester and Neil were special guests to our open house. Ester was like a special grandmother who was with us through the difficult divorce period. We miss her, but she sold her house and went travelling around the world. Ester introduced us to Stony Brook State Park,one of our favorite places on a hot day.

For the first time we used a chocolate fountain. Jacob dropped something into the basin of chocolate attempted to fish it out with his fondue fork. The fork got stuck in the auger, and it starting whirring like a propeller spraying chocolate.


Fortunately Vicki had just removed the new white shirts from Jade and Denver. A few moments of delay and those shirts would have been trashed. The only thing to do was to laugh and clean up. We had chocolate salmon and chocolate brie, though of course that was never intended.