Sunday, January 31, 2010

Body Modification

Slowly returning to the new normal around here, which for you means that this page will be much less interesting.

We had fun this week though.

Our high school classmate Emily and her daughter Whitney were in from Japan again.
They came bearing gifts, again, of assorted Japanese gummy candies.
I love those things, and really want to go to Japan someday, mostly for that reason.

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We joined them, along with Paul and Caroline for breakfast at Another Broken Egg on Saturday morning. (accidentally cut Emily out of the shot.)

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One of the main draws was to try the restaurant's new dish, "Cinnamon Roll French Toast."
The description says it consists of slices of cinnamon roll, prepared like french toast, covered in cream cheese icing and then topped with whipped cream and mixed berries.

Here's the photo I was able to capture.

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Oops! I guess I was a couple of minutes too late there, but trust me, it was good.
There are still a couple of other things I like as much, if not a little more, but I was actually able to walk away from the table without extreme discomfort, which is quite unusual for our visits there.

Riley wasn't too big on that dish or the "biscuit beignets" (yes they are as good as they sound) but he did thoroughly enjoy his lemon wedge and orange slice.

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We then came back to the house, where Riley and Caroline played very well together and Paul continued, graciously, repairing our computer, often while holding two kids begging for Muppet You Tube videos.

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(Riley wants me to thank Ms Nicole and Mr Harlan for stealing some of Garrett's outgrown toys and dropping them off here. dueling 4 wheelers should be fun.)

For dinner, we raided the prepared food section of Rouse's and put together a pretty good, fairly inexpensive meal. We fed five adults and two kids for less than 60 bucks, and we were all stuffed with: 2 large fried shrimp plates with fries, mac & cheese, shrimp pasta, 3 sushi rolls, bread, banana pudding, chocolate mousse, and strawberry shortcake. (that tasted like cough syrup, but everything else was really good).
Then, for dessert, we had Blue Bell Black Berry Cobbler and Blue Bell Mexican Praline ice creams. Portraits of health, we are.

Caroline, seemingly enjoyed herself.

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and Riley put a hurting on some banana pudding, though it was quite inefficient to eat it using just the tip of his finger.

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I guess the amount of food we eat kinda ties in with the title of this week's post, "Body Modification" but that was unintentional.

I've got some ink (and plan for more soon) and had my ear pierced when I was a young punk, but that is not hardcore.
The hardcore body modifier in our house is actually Riley, and unfortunately, that is our fault.

We've known from early on that he had wide feet, but we've always bought wide shoes and have been rapidly upgrading sizes.

Imagine my shock this week when putting his socks on and noticing that one of his feet now looks like this:

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One of his toes appears to be crowded up, and it's only on one foot. The other appears to be fairly normal.

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(it's like the first step toward being a Chinese lady from the 17th century)

I took him to Greenwood's and had him measured, and sho' 'nuff he was fully filling out his 5.5 wides that he's only been wearing for 6 weeks. He now wears the same shoe size (in a wide) as kids who weigh 10 pounds more than he does.

It fact, though he wears a 12 month shirt from Children's Place, we have to get him 24 month pajamas so that his feet will fit.

Maybe it will help him get a career as an NFL back up punter (league minimum is still a nice chunk of change.)

I would close with a big ole "who dat" but I don't want the NFL to sue me.
Riley wouldn't like that.

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But let's see if we get a cease and desist letter for Joan's fingernails.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Better Late than Never ??

For reasons that should be obvious, I was unable to post on Sunday night. But don't worry, not much to say this week anyway.

We are thankful that at least one thing has gone right in the first month of 2010, in that the Saints are in the Super Bowl.

Some may take that as a sign that the end times are drawing near, but we'll just use it as a little picker-upper.

Pretty slow week for us as to things you may want to read about or see here.

On Friday I picked up a bike for my Mom at Academy. Never being one to pass up a good impulse buy, I also picked up a little pop gun that shoots foam balls.
Riley and Anna immediately took to it.

They both know that if they stand against a wall, put their hands in the air and say I "freeze", they'll get shot. Kinda like real life. (low blow, I know.)
The best part is that they think picking up all of the balls afterward is half of the fun. Suckers!

Twice now, Riley has pulled me away from whatever I was doing, saying "daddy shoot me."
He goes to the end of the hall, closes the doors around him and waits.

The balls aren't hard and he hasn't complained even when one accidentally hit him in the face. (the accuracy of the toy and me are both horrible. Of the 10 shots per load, only 2 or 3 hit the perp)

But, we discovered yesterday that they do leave some pretty macho marks for a couple of minutes when they hit bare skin.

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(Note of clarification , so no one gets the wrong ideas- We discovered the red dots after shooting one loading of the gun. The unraised red dots disappear in a minute or two, but, just in case, he now has to wear a shirt when we play with the gun. And I shot myself in the face, point blank, and it doesn't hurt. I know most sensible people would think nothing of it, but some sensible friends have pointed out that not everyone is sensible people)

Most of my weekend was spent on the installation of our new, custom entertainment center by Cajun Closets.

Here's a shot of the old one.

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and what we started with Saturday morning.

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and one step into the process.

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Taking shape

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We've still got another day's worth of work before it is totally done, but its in enough right now to be able to get our electronics set up and make the room usable.
Final product shots to come soon.

Riley got to play with Caroline alot as Uncle Paul spent most of his weekend trying to fix our computer that was decimated by a virus last week. No pic because I was busy constructing.

All work had to stop though for the biggest pro football game, to date, in Louisiana history.
We packed up an headed over to Anna's house.

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We watched the second half at home which was a good idea, given how stressful it was.

Thats about it.

oh, I almost forgot...........WHO DAT!!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Good from Bad

Now is where we start to move forward. Though the bad is still there, now is the time to talk about the good surrounding it.

On Monday, my Dad's services were held at Delhomme funeral home.
Between the Sunday visitation and Monday services, I know that at least 400-500 people came through.
For the services, all of the seats in the chapel were filled and there were people standing in the back. One of the directors told me that the seating capacity is between 300 and 350. It was an amazing turnout and we thank everyone who came.
I have never seen so many grown men cry at a funeral. I think that means a lot. Seeing the broad spectrum of people that my Dad's death affected was a great reminder of what a guy he was.

Seeing such a crowd made us a little nervous though, as Joan and I offered to have the traditional "afterparty" at our house. I told a few people, "Even if only a third of these people show up at our house, we're going to be packed."

Now, after making a list of everyone we can remember being here, our final guest count was 125 people.
And that was basically all in our living room, kitchen and patio.
It was so crowded you could barely move. People were passing trash around instead of trying to fight to the garbage can.
Here's a few shots from before it got really packed.

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We went through so much food it was unbelievable. Two Hams, a brisket, a few sandwich trays, 3 or 4 chicken finger trays, a few fruit trays, big pans of side dishes, veggies trays and at least two king cakes. Food was disappearing as fast at it hit the table.

Family members who hadn't seen each other in decades were able to reunite. It was great. All of his surviving paternal aunts and uncles were together for the first time in a long time.

Over the last year or so, my dad had been talking about planning reunion with his cousins. That didn't happen, but a majority of them were here this week.
I don't think there is anything that would have been more fitting than what we had here Monday.

Best of all, the uncle that my Dad was closest to wore his overalls, just as my dad would have if he was here.

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While the adults caught up, the kids enjoyed what ended up being a nice day.
We had a stash of foam swords that kept kids of all ages entertained until all of the swords were destroyed. (fortunately target had more and I restocked swords and foam battle axes.)

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(yes, I was out of breath for at least an hour after 10 minutes of vigorous playtime.)

I know all of the family being here helped my Mom a lot.
Plus she got to see Riley, Anna, and Gabe for the first time in a few weeks.

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Thursday and Friday we were at visitation and services for Joan's grandfather.
Riley proved himself to be surprisingly socially inclined and made lots of new kid friends.

As a sign that things are getting back to our new normal, we at Johnson's twice this week.

Once with Darren, Sangee and Hailee

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and once with Shane, Tara and their dozens of kids whose names I can't recall (just kidding?)

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Doesn't get much better that this plate right here. (L to R: country style ribs, boudin, mac & cheese, cornbread dressing and grilled hot wings. not pictured: bread pudding and Abita Root Beer)

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Saturday, as you all know, the Saints put a whooping on the Cardinals, and Riley watched a lot of the game.

We figured out how to rig things so that he can play with the basketball goal Nonnie got him for Christmas.

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Sunday, Riley showed us why he's not yet ready to be trusted for more than 2 minutes unmonitored.

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But we took him to the park to feed the ducks anyway.

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He enjoyed the sense of accomplishment of making a pretty difficult climb (to him)

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And also learned that he's not quite ready for the big, bumpy slide yet.
Here's a shot right as he went airborne off of the second bump and probably made a little contribution to his diaper.

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That's about it.
The weather forecast for next weekend is looking nice.
We could use some time out in the sun after the cooped up stresses of the last few weeks.

Again, thanks to everyone for their prayers, encouraging words, food, flowers and Lung Association donations. I hope it's a long time before our family goes through anything like these last three weeks again, but it has been a great reminder of what good people we have around us.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Rain, Pour

I'm thinking of changing this blog name to

I know I said this wasn't going to be a depressing space anymore, but there are things that are obviously out of control.

Earlier this week, Joan's maternal grandfather, John Robert Burton Sr. passed away.

We're kinda all talked out, so here's the official write up.

NEW IBERIA - Memorial services will be conducted for , 82, on Friday, January 15, 2010, at 2 p.m., at the First Assembly of God Church, with Rev. Paul Neel officiating.

A gathering of family and friends will be held in the David Funeral Home Chapel on Thursday, January 14, 2010, from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. and at the First Assembly of God Church on Friday from 11 a.m. until the services.

A native of Oil City, LA and a resident of Erath, LA, Mr. Burton died on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010 at L.S.U. M.C. in Shreveport, LA. He was a veteran of World War II having served in the U.S. Air Force and was a proud participant of the Honor Air Flight. As a descendent of Louisiana Oil Industry Pioneers, he was instrumental in research and development of various high pressure production equipment widely used within the petroleum industry today. He was a member of the American Petroleum Institute.

Mr. Burton worked for the Joy Corporation in Fort Smith, AR from 1984 - 1986. Mr. Burton and his wife, Margaret were residents of Van Buren, Arkansas from 1990 to 2000. During that time they edited and published "Bind Us Together". This well received monthly Christian newspaper was recognized throughout Northwest Arkansas and Southeast Oklahoma.

He was survived by his wife of 63 years, Iris Margaret Barnes Burton, of Erath; his sons, John Robert Burton, Jr. and his wife, Sherie, of Youngsville, and Paul Christopher Burton, of New Iberia; his daughters, Martha Evelyn "Lynn" Darby and her husband, Larry, of Lafayette, Margaret Theresa "Terry" Bates, of Pensacola, Fla., Cecilia Carolyn "Carol" Boudreaux and her husband, Danny, of Erath, and Mary Constance "Connie" Andre and her husband, Rusty, of New Iberia; his brother, Keith W. Burton, of Oil City; eleven grandchildren; and six great grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Paul H. Burton and Sallie Bamburg Burton; his daughter, Mary Anne Burton; his sisters, Joan Burton and Mary Carolyn Burton Crain and two grandchildren, Angelina and Cassie Burton.

Here he is last year with all of his kids.

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and at Riley's baptism

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This will hopefully be the last obit here for a loooooooooooooong time.

If you hear fireworks in a couple of weeks, it will be our New Year Party as we are officially erasing January and staring over with February.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Words

When I started this blog, I originally envisioned it as a way to get news and photos out to family members and friends far and wide.
A secondary purpose though, was to create a chronicle of Riley's life to be able to look back on someday.

Some of the most profound events in Riley's life have taken place over the last 2-3 weeks, and he doesn't even know it, but I want them here as part of his history.

On Monday, at my Dad's services, I gave a eulogy in front of the 2-300 people gathered. It was the hardest yet most natural speaking gig I've ever had. I think doing it made the whole process easier on me and I'm glad I did it, even if 90% of my friends, family and co-workers have now seen me cry.

I bring this all up because a few people have asked me to somehow share with them what I said. Contrary to all good public speaking practices, I wrote down everything I wanted to say. But, I did so just in case I needed someone to get up and read it for me.

I want to acknowledge our family's loss here and, starting next week, have the blog reflect our moving forward. So here is what I prepared and, pretty accurately, delivered as a eulogy.

My main point to get across was the legacy of family that my Dad created. Because this blog is about family, I think it belongs here. If you come for happy stories and cute pics, come back next week. If you read my words below, thank you.

Chris Wallace eulogy, delivered 1-11-10

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Brandon, Chris’ oldest, yet smallest son. I only say that because it has been pointed out to me a few times over the last couple of days, and I just want to get it all out there.

For those who do know me, I know you think of me as the toughest guy you’ve ever met, but I’m not making any guarantees I’ll get through this intact. Just in case though, I’ve written out everything I want to say and I have a professional voice artist and radio personality here to back me up if I give him the signal.

I can think of two main reasons that anyone would be here.

The first is that you knew my dad and knew what a great guy he was. The second is that you know me, Jake or Eli and like us enough to come. But that actually means that you also know how great of a man my dad was, because we are what we are because of him.

I’d like to give a little story from my personal life that I think illustrates the true impact that my dad had. Before Joan and I got married, we had to go to a weekend retreat called Engaged Encounter, where you sleep on hard bunk beds and use communal bathrooms. Between those conveniences you participate in various question and answer exercises designed to get you thinking about your relationship. You then share your answers with your future spouse and sometimes the whole group.

One of the questions we were presented with was “what first attracted you to your future spouse?”

I naturally thought Joan would answer that it was because I am the studliest guy she’s ever met. Shockingly though, she didn’t. Instead, she said that it was the way I treated and cared for my family. I know that would come as a shock to Jake and Eli at certain times too.

But when I really thought about it, her statement didn’t say nearly as much about me, as it did about my parents. Neither Mom or Dad ever sat us down and gave us lessons on how to act like a family. They didn’t have to, because they lived it. They led by example.

One of the examples they set is that they were best friends. Their marriage wasn’t just a certificate in a filling cabinet in the closet or a tax break at the IRS. They truly lived as a couple.

If she needed something at WalMart, unless he had something pressing to do, he went with her. If he needed something at Home Depot, she went along for the trip. And why not? What might be on Tv that is more worthwhile for your soul than spending a half hour with your best friend?

And when they didn’t have anything to do, they would get in the Jeep and drive. Top down, doors off and feet hanging out if the weather permitted. They often didn’t necessarily know where they were going or when they would be back, but it didn’t matter. They were with each other.

Aside from being a good husband, he set the bar high as a good father. He was always there for whatever we needed, whether that was helping out with Jake’s baseball teams, helping out with school projects, or the hundreds, if not thousands, of hours my parents both dedicated to the Lafayette High Band over the course of 10 or 11 years. They were always there.

If you stop by my parents’ house, you will see half finished projects everywhere, but that’s not because my Dad was lazy. It’s because he was always willing to drop whatever he was doing to help us with what we had going on. He didn’t have to spend a month of cold nights in the shop, helping me build a cart for my bbq pit or toy tables for Riley and Caroline, who has no blood relation to my Dad, but he did it anyway. He was never too busy or too tired.

Two years ago, my Dad’s life changed. Joan and I had Riley, and my Dad became a grandparent, a role I think he was just made to fill. Then, just 6 weeks ago Jake and Sara had Gavin and brought another light into my Dad’s life and took him to the next level, if that was even possible.

We gave Dad the choice of what he wanted his grandparent name to be and he chose the name Poppy, after my Mom’s grandfather who he loved and respected immensely. From day one, he was part of Riley’s life in every way he could be. They saw each other 3 or 4 days a week and spoke on the phone almost every day for the last few months.

People tell us that Riley is one of the happiest kids they’ve ever met, and say that it must be a sign we are good parents. I appreciate that compliment, but give just as much credit to our parents for the roles they play in Riley’s life. A major part of that equation is gone now, and I grieve for Riley’s loss more than for my own. Dad told me once that even though he loved his three sons, being a grandparent was just different and magical all over again. He became, and thoroughly lived as, Poppy.

Even if you weren’t a family member, you could connect with my Dad. He was one of the least pretentious people I’ve ever known. Its hard to be pretentious when you’re wearing overalls or a tie dye shirt, or sometimes, overalls with a tie dye shirt and you’re miles from the nearest farm. Sometimes, you would see him at Downtown Alive, walking up in the overalls or tiedye and you’d kinda get a little embarrassed. I consciously told myself though, “At least you have a dad who cares enough to be here and to talk to you and your friends.” We don’t anymore.

If he didn’t like you, which was a rare case, you probably knew that, but I know he gave you an honest chance first. And if he did like you, he would have a smile and a wise crack and all the time in the world to talk. Downtown Alive, Festival and Rhythms are going to be very different for us and our friends now.

My Dad was squarely middle aged, which may not be very comforting for those of you around the same age. But, he had something I aspire to have. He had the spirit of a young man, with the wisdom of an old man. That thought came to me yesterday, and I sat for a while and thought about what an awesome combination that is. I don’t know that there is much more that you could ask for.

Before he went in for the surgery, Dad told multiple people that he was the happiest he had ever been. He had his family nearby, and he was happy at work. He had two grandsons that meant the world to him and any stresses that had bothered him in the past had been resolved. We can all take comfort in knowing that his last memories were those of true satisfaction and joy.

Our family thanks everyone here for their friendship and the thoughts, prayers and vibes you’ve sent out over the last two grueling weeks. You all mean so much to us and did to my dad to, even if it was just because you were a positive point in one of our lives. Thank you for being there, and your support will only become more important over the coming months as we all adjust to a radically different way of life.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Love You, Poppy!

This is officially the hardest post I've ever made.
After making progress toward getting better, my Dad passed away late Thursday.
There's not really much else to say.
We've all suffered a loss, but what saddens me the most is that my Mom has lost her best friend and that Riley has lost one of his.

I can't think of much to write so I'm just going to go pic heavy.

LAFAYETTE - Memorial services will be held at 11:00 am on Monday, January 11, 2010 in the Delhomme Chapel of the Flowers for William Christopher “Chris” Wallace, 53, who passed away on January 7, 2010 at Heart Hospital of Lafayette, surrounded by family and friends.

Reverend Steve Horn, Pastor of First Baptist Church of Lafayette, will conduct the services.

The family requests that visiting hours be observed on Sunday from 3 p.m. until 8 p.m. and will continue on Monday from 8 a.m. until time of services. Musical selections will be provided by longtime family friend, Scotty Walker.

Chris was a native of Lafayette and, at Lafayette High, met the love of his life, Ellen Hebert. He followed his father’s footsteps into the Army and the helicopter aviation industry. For nearly 30 years, he worked for IHTI/PHI, keeping helicopters safely in the air. Chris was the proud father of three sons, and was always there in any way needed, whether as a baseball coach, a band booster, an auto mechanic, or a general handy-man. He was a talented woodworker and mechanic and lived by the philosophy of “why buy what you can build yourself?”

In the last two years, Chris found a whole new type of love in the eyes of his grandsons, Riley and Gavin. He was their “Poppy” and their hero. Just before entering the hospital, he told his best friend that by having his family nearby and a new generation to celebrate, he was the happiest he had ever been. His family members are fortunate enough to be able to say the same, thanks to the man that he was.

He is survived by his best friend and loving wife of 33 years, Ellen, and sons, Brandon and wife Joan (parents of grandson, Riley), Jake and wife Sara (parents of grandson, Gavin), and Eli and future daughter-in-law Amanda Hill, all of Lafayette. He also leaves behind his mother, Lois “Gerry” Wallace, two brothers, Richard “Ric” Wallace (wife, Jackie) of Lafayette, and Darren Wallace (wife, Sangee) of New Hartford, Connecticut; two sisters, Susan Wallace of Jackson, Mississippi, and Summer Stone (husband, Shelton) of Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, along with dozens of nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his father, Gene Odell Wallace; and sister, Lisa Gene Wallace Smith.

Pallbearers will be his sons, brothers, and brother in law, Shelton Stone.

The family wishes to thank the entire staff of Heart Hospital for their expertise, care and compassion.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to American Lung Association, 2325 Severn, Suite 8, Metairie, La 70001, or in the name of Chris Wallace and AJRF, sponsors of the annual Jeep Jaunt, an event which he truly loved.

with big brother Ric

Ft Bragg

Chris, Susie, Lisa, Ric and Darren


a face Riley has inherited


Darren, Susie, Summer, Chris, Ric, Lisa


In the Army


Day before their wedding October 1976.


Mom & Dad Wedding 1976


Newlyweds in Germany


with me and Jake


at work


whole family circa 1988


White House 1994


Mom, Joan, Me, Dad, LHS grad 1998


Ric, Chris, Susie, Darren, and Summer, 1999

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at our wedding 2002


parents, Michael, Sylvia, Chris, me , Joan

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Mom & Dad 2003

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Parents & Sylvia

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Eli, Parents, Darren, Sangee, Hailee, New York '04-ish

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Jake's basic training grad

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Men in Black

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Inked Up w/ Wallace Clan crest


Poppy & Riley

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Ellen 176
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Jake & Sara's wedding, Summer 2009


Jeep Jaunt 2009


Gavin's actual birthday


Watching Pinocchio w/ Riley, Christmas 2009


with his grandsons, on top of the world, Christmas 2009


Thanks to everyone for their thoughts and prayers over the last couple of weeks.
They have been truly felt.