Sunday, May 30, 2021


This sign is in the Starbucks Target store in Frisco and we were there to begin the Quads 9th Birthday Celebration! Mike had taken Harrison for some Father/Son adventures that included go-carts, some ice time at the hockey rink, lunch out at Freebirds where Harrsion lost a tooth as he ate a burrito and then chilling at home for a little while playing video games together before Harrison went with his dad to watch Mike's hockey game! Yes, the whole family loves hockey!

Both of us grandmothers ( MeeMAW as I am called and Grandmommy, Mike's mom) were there to make a party of six for a Girls' Day! Let the fun begin!

Amber surprised the girls with an 'Experience' birthday gift......

Ear Piercing!
The girls were excited and nervous at the same time!
Trystan stepped up to be first,which I thought was entirely appropriate as she was Baby A - aka the Gatekeeper - and was the first to be born. She chose tiny gold stars for her tiny ears, while Kailey and Logan both went with the small pearls.

Look how cute Amber is!!
She decided to get one more piercing on her right ear.....she has several already.

Very Nice!!
Amber had made the appointment for five people.......

 I had my ears pierced for the very first time!

I chose the largest little diamond they had!
I had her pierce them a little ways up so I can continue to wear my clip ons.
72 years old and doing something new!
I teased Louis Dean later and said I am now contemplating a tatoo!
As in TWO of them!
Can you guess what they will be?

We had stopped at Starbucks when we arrived and then again as we were leaving!
These girls all love their tea!
Amber got them cake pops and Trystan pronounced this 'The BEST day EVER!'

From there we shopped Sam Moon!


We all found some treasures there!
I found two pretty new pairs of blingy clip earrings to go with my new studs!
The girls had chore money they had saved up and did their own shopping.

After they paid, they sat down and showed each other what they had bought!

So cute!!

Next stop was for a late lunch at the Olive Garden!


I wish you could have heard the girls order! 
So grown up and such good manners.
We ladies had soup/salad and bread sticks all around, with the grandmothers adding a glass of wine!

Next up - Stonebriar Mall!


The girls ALL love the PINK store, including Amber!


And Claire's!!!
That was one of Amber's favorites when she was young.
She is such a good shopper and her girls are, as well.
They were looking at some small cases to put their treasures in - priced at $20 each.
Logan, who does a lot of window shopping at Claire's online, told her mommy they were on sale for $11.99 there. When they told the lady at check out, she said she would match the online price in the store! Win!! WIN!!! Good for you, Logan!

It was such a good day!!

I had laughed earlier that morning when I told Louis Dean I would be home before dark!
As it turned out, I pulled into the driveway right at 8:30!

We all met up at Fellowship Church this morning for services!

This is such a sweet photo!
The girls and I were all wearing our new blingy things!

Amber and Mike make a beautiful couple in every way!
I am so proud of them and the way they are parenting Trystan, Kailey, Harrison and Logan and how they keep their marriage at the top of the priority list!

The celebrations will continue!
Tomorrow is their actual birthday......
born on a Thursday to ensure the presence of all 30 members of the sugical team.
They wanted to avoid the weekend!

This photo was taken on May 30th 2012.......
entry taken from my post 'The First Official Prediction.....'

That's my girl! She is such a trouper.

Today has been a 'berry bad day' as she used to say.
The mag IV or the preclampsia - who knows which! - has given her such a bad case of double vision she can't even see people's faces. The doctor lowered the mag IV down a notch so hopefully this will help.
The sonogram this morning showed all four babies still doing great.

The babies were born at 12:55 in the afternoon with Logan having her own minute, the last one to arrive at 12:56!

Happy Birthday to the Bell Quads!!!!
And a big round of applause to the Amazing Quad Mom!

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Two Days With my Two Daughters......My Heart is Full

  Amber and Mike continue to deal with damage done to their home from a broken water pipe.
It took the insurance adjuster a full two months to address their claim!
Now they are on a waiting list for repairs!
For weeks they struggled with a power outage that lasted for days - some days with half power as in half of the house had it and the other half had none. 
At the same time they were without water for a week or more, showering at their neighbors and bringing laundry and dishes over here to wash.
Amber is pretty amazing because she continued to prepare meals and school lunches through it all.

Her home is truly a gathering place.
This sign hangs over her kitchen sink.
Wednesday afternoon, I drove over to Dallas to spend the night.

I folded laundry and watched a few episodes of CSI.....
we both liked that show.

The afternoon went fast!
Amber picked the kids up from school, they all had snacks and then watched one of their favorite TV shows and chilled for a little while - they were already tired from Field Day at school - and tonight was their weekly hockey game!

Who knew Amber would be a Hockey Mom???
Mike was away on business so she carried a load, helped all four kids get all their equipment on and skates laced up......then sat and watched them play with the eyes of an eagle since there are four of them to watch! They do make up nearly half of the entire team!

Sabrina and Rayne came out to cheer them on!
Summer arrived a little later after spending several painful hours at the dentist.
Then back to the locker room to undo all the things she did before the game!
She spent as much time in the locker room as she did watching the entire game!

Then back home with the kids taking showers while Amber prepared 'an easy dinner.'
Have I mentioned that she cooks nearly every single night?

She made THE best quesadillas!
They are loaded with lots of cheese and chicken.
Makes a hearty meal but her idea of 'easy' is different from mine.
It was a school night and still Amber was up until after midnight.

I slept with Summer in the guest room, which Amber and Mike fixed up for her.
They bought a queen sized bed and cleaned and organized the room, which they had been using as a catch all storage room since everything has been taken out of the normal closets and storage areas due to the water leak.

We were up early to catch the kids awards ceremony on the last day of school!
With four kids, the sock basket is always full so we sorted socks while we watched via Zoom.

All four received awards.
Harrison's was Cooperation.
Trystan's was Integrity.
Kailey's was Responsibility.....
and I am drawing a blank on Logan's!

Look who came over a little later that morning!
Louis Dean was there to put an extra shelf in one of Amber's kitchen cabinets.

Since it was the very last day of school, Amber wanted to do something special for the kids.
The weather has been wet and mild but Thursday was no rain and temps near 90, so she packed up the swim bag with all their suits, flip flops, goggles, and such plus an insulated bag full of snacks and surprised them by going straight to Hawaiian Falls water park!

They were so excited!
Plus she had stopped and bought ice cream sandwiches to eat on the way!

Amber got the 'Best Mama' award that day!!

I love the sights, sounds and smells of a waterpark!
Chlorine, coconut scented sunscreen, all the happy laughter and squeals and even screams!
And the smiles. Everyone is always smiling - or so it seems to me.
Everywhere I looked, people were having fun.
Even the ones walking by themselves were smiling.
I was doing the same thing.....smiling as I walked to the restroom and back in the little foot stream that took me to our loungers. By the way, that's the only thing that got wet for feet. Water was way too cold to get in the lazy river or the wave pool, but it didn't seem to faze the kids!

I wore my new swim suit for the very first time!
Amber helped me pick it out at Target - her favorite store.
I like that it's one piece and has the little skirty thing.

We both had new suits for our first day at the water park.
You KNOW we have season passes and will be going often.
I already have some friends to go with me!
It's going to be a fun summer!

You know, even having fun can make you tired and TIRED hit all three of us that evening.
Amber was completely worn out with being on duty doing all of the parenting for a few days and not getting much sleep. Summer had been to the dentist and was not feeling well for several reasons.
And I have been on the mountain top of emotions lately with the trip to Kansas City and then coming back home and still up and doing all that decorating and damage control.
Bottom line, I think we all 'crashed and burned' that evening. Does anyone even say that anymore?
I guess I do!
I started on antibiotics for the UTI I am continuing to deal with and I just used up all the umph I had.
I drove home sinking deeper into exhaustion with every mile. Then when I got home and came in the front door - it.was.HOT. Louis Dean had turned the AC off!! Things were going downhill and fast!
I was unpacking my swim bag and preparing to shower and go to bed when I discovered I had left two things at Amber's. My make up bag and toiletry bag - both essential to my well being.
I got back in the car and was heading BACK to Dallas when I realized it would be DARK by the time I got home, so I drove back through the neighborhood and asked Louis Dean to go pick them up for me.
While he was gone, I went ahead and took my shower.
Then I lit candles, turned on my classical music, poured me a glass of my favorite wine - Sunshine Bay's Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, and settled down to read a few chapters in A Young Wife.
It was still late when I went to bed last night but I slept well and I slept long and lingered in bed until noon. Then I took a 2-hour nap later in the afternoon.

My main goal today was to clean the kitchen and make a chocolate pie.
I did both.
Louis Dean had the run of the kitchen while I was at Amber's and he amazes me with what messes he can make. This time he did something completely new! He bought some groceries yesterday after leaving Amber's and happened upon a 5-dozen container of eggs on sale.
He accidently cracked some of them and I came home to find 4 eggs in a bowl on the counter and egg whites dripping down the front of the cabinets and more whites congealing in a puddle on the foam rug in front of the sink. This was another reason I was all teary eyed on Thursday night. 
ALL of that has now been cleaned up and the fridge cleaned out, laundry done and floors swept and mopped. I have decided I may need to stay home and protect my clean rooms!

What was Louis Dean doing while I was busy with damage control?

Pulling out a huge lava rock from the flower bed at the corner of our house.
This is the last place we need to address water coming in.

He is pretty amazing and can figure out to do alone what it would take two men to do otherwise.

And it worked!!
He won't even have to dig a hole for the sump pump!

And this is the chocolate pie I made.
Mrs. Morrison was my landlady when I was 15 years old with a new baby and she was 62.
She lived until she was 94 and I loved and admired her more than any other person I have ever known.
All four of my children loved her, too.
She used cocoa to make her chocolate pies so I do, too.

I'll close tonight's journal entry with this pic of Summer and Kailey.
They are sitting on the front porch eating Ramen Noodles together.
Making memories.

Note from Logan to her Aunt Summer on the evening she moved into the guest room. I love how 'amazing' is in bold letters. They do love their mama's cooking!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Our Den all Dressed up in Red, White, and Blue!!

 I think I must be running on fumes today!
I didn't go to sleep until after 3:00 this morning and I was wide awake at 9:00!
AND I did not even take a nap today!

I pretty much threw myself into cleaning and decorating the den in red/white and blue!

You can see Tabitha is looking for her basket and does not seem too pleased at not finding it!

I took this pic just a few hours before the one above!

I left the one she had been favoring on the stool over there by the table in case she still wants to fold herself up and get in there! There is a wire basket suitable for her on the piano - and we'll see if it suits her fancy!

I love having my perpetual tree in the den.
I took off all the birds and eggs and nests and packed them away.

This theme will last through the first part of July and then I will pull out all my sunflowers.

Table for four!
So far Tabitha has ignored her basket over by the table!


I'm closing tonight's journal entry with this great photo a friend sent me.
I am heading to bed now.
Wishing you all a good night's sleep!

My Kansas City Family - Kind and Considerate!

 It's been like a dream - the days I spent in Kansas City with my newly found siblings.
Nita was talking on the way home about how the K and C  in Kansas City could stand for Kind and Considerate. That's how we found nearly everyone we met there from my siblings and other gfamily members to the people walking beside us on the streets, in the shops and everywhere we went.

Friday was an extra special day for me.

I slept late and went out to a corner coffee spot for a cup and a scone, sitting outside on the little patio area soaking up the feeling of being in Kansas City!

When it started to rain, I went back to the hotel and stretched out to read a few more chapters of this fascinating story. (I finished the book on my way back to Texas!)

Buster picked me up early in the afternoon - perfect timing!

It rained every day we were there - but then again, it's rained nearly everyday everywhere lately!
Louis Dean said it rained every day I was gone plus the day I came home.....and today... Monday!
However, we didn't let the rain interfere with what we were doing.

Buster drove me around Kansas City and showed me all his old hang outs, schools and places he and our father had frequented.

The showers had stopped by the time we got to the cemetery.

I had not anticipated the emotions I felt as I stood there looking down at my father's grave.

I'm tearing up again even now as I write this.
At long last, I know my father's name.
I have a name.
I'm a Gage.
I stood there thinking, 'Because he was....I am.'
I don't believe he ever knew about me, but Buster and I prayed holding hands right there at the grave, as he introduced me, then he said, "If he didn't know you before, he knows you now."
It was fitting that I should be standing beside my brother at that time.
Back in March, on the day he and Rita were to have that first telephone conversation with me, Buster had come to visit his father's grave early that Sunday morning.
Now here it was just two months later and we are standing there together.

When we left our father's grave, Buster said he wanted to stop and see his little brother who only lived one day. His name was Raymond.....
That means I have two baby brothers who died shortly after addition to Raymond there is Clayton Collins, Jr.

Nita and Mike had left that morning to drive two hours to the place where her father was buried.
So she and I both were visiting our fathers' graves that day.

Buster and I continued our walk down Memory Lane.....driving around town before going to his house....which is the house he grew up in.

His house smells so good!!
He burns a certain incense and I bought some to bring home with me the next day!

We looked at old photos and talked about them.
Anna Marie is Buster's fiance and they grew up together.
She was in the 4th grade and he in the 8th. 
I love the 'history' they have together!

She was the one who found these family photos in her old church directories.
I added the names and date to this and it may have been a few years earlier than 1968.
A happy family of five.

The next directory photo was a family of four.......

Friday evening we three drove to the Italian restaurant, Trezo Mare, to meet my sister Rita.
We arrived first and Anna Marie was all set to record this first meeting.....but in all the didn't record but she did get this pic!

I absolutely LOVE that Rita is holding her arms out for me!
Yes, I am tearing up again as I look at this photo.

Meet my sister, Rita, and her husband, Thomas.
The next day they celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary!
We talked and laughed, ate and told stories and had the best time!

The one and only photo I got of the three of us.

We had such a good time that we took our party over to their daughter's house.
 Tom had gone ahead of us to buy dessert and was waiting for us when we arrived.
Rita and Tom are having some major renovations done at their home, so their daughter offered hers since she was out of town with her family.

Let me tell you, that strawberry pie was exquisite!
And those huge cinnamon rolls! Oh, my!

My sister was on Critter Duty much like I do down at the ranch.

Here I am petting the bunny!
In the bottom cage were two hedgehogs.
I loved the custom built cages which include kennels for their dogs.
Thanks to my sister for these pics as my phone had died and I had not plugged it in all the way so it wasn't charged like I thought it would be.

We sat around in a circle on comfy cushioned chairs in the den and talked late into the night.

It was well after midnight when Buster and Anna Marie dropped me off at the hotel and I was in bed fast asleep before they even got home!

Saturday morning, Buster picked me up at 11:00 and we made some more visits to the past.

This was our grandparents home.
I know he told me their names but I can't remember what they were.
My mother has actually been in this house.
The one story she told me about my father was that he had taken her to meet his parents.
Why she would tell me this and yet still refuse to tell me his name will always baffle me.

This is the grandparents with Buster - photo taken inside the house pictured above.

We met my brother's daughter, Ashley, and her two youngest children at the Cracker Barrel for lunch.

She reminds me of my daughter, Amber, and her children were the cutest and best behaved children in the entire restaurant!

More sight seeing on our way back to Buster's house.

Such beautiful homes!

Lots to see in Kansas City!

I love looking at all the old photos!

A younger Buster......

.....and a bit older one, but just as handsome!

Meeting my siblings for the very first time has got to be THE most meaningful moments of this trip....and the next most meaningful time was when Buster took me downstairs to the basement.

This is where I feel like I 'met' my at the workshop he built.
See the drawers there with that first one open?
Buster said our father had kept these drawers oiled with grease so they would slide in and out with ease.
The things inside are pretty much as he left them back in 1969. Buster had pulled that top drawer out three months ago and had been trying to push it back in ever since. Now, my brother is strong and works out so he was surprised when he could NOT get that drawer back in.
Then when we were down there on Saturday afternoon, Buster slid it in as easy as it could be.

I stood where my father has stood, walked where he has walked, saw what he has seen......touched what he has touched.

The basement is made of stones and he had painting them a blue/green color.

You can see a little of the color in this pic.
Buster said he remembers his dad taking this old oil lamp with them when they went fishing.
It still hangs where it has always hung.

Our father built this homemade table saw.

This looks like something Louis Dean would do.
The more I get to to know the man my father was, the more I think he may have been a lot like Louis Dean. He was a good man, a hard worker and he loved his children. 

Buster gave me these tools to keep and Louis Dean took the bolt loose and hung it in the middle of the tool and put the bolt back on. He's planning on taking a nice piece of wood and making a plaque to mount the tool on and I can hang it.

Yes, the time we spent in the basement was the closest I felt to knowing the man who was my father.

We all went out to dinner Saturday night at a great Mexican restaurant.

Our last night together!
The waiter took our pic and you can see someone photo bombed it!
Anna Marie chatted her up and we all had a lot of fun together.

Buster's oldest grandson surprised us by coming over to join us after he got off work.
He's 17 years old and works two jobs!
I was super impressed that he wanted to come meet me!
Ashly did not look like she was old enough to have a 17 year old!

I love that Buster is open with his emotions.
He is comfortable in his own skin and is a truly generous hearted and loving guy!

He and Anna Marie are perfect for each other!
We enjoyed every single minute we were all together!
I intend on visiting again and bringing Louis Dean with me.
He's going to love them and they will love him!
I have one more sister to meet and maybe that will happen on my next visit.

It was late when we went to bed Saturday night but we didn't have to get up nearly as early as we did to come up here! We were on the road by 9:00 but, due to heavy traffic in Oklahoma, we did not get into Fort Worth until nearly 7:00 Sunday night.

I transferred my bags to my car and then I had to get gas - which wasn't as easy as it should have been.
My credit card didn't work so I had to go to two different stations before I realized I was putting the card in wrong! I made a quick visit to Lillian's and her granddaughter, Tara was there!
She's been doing quite a bit for her grandmother lately aand visits nearly every week. plus she does all her laundry now. I know Lillian is so much happier!
I didn't linger long since I needed to get home before it got completely dark......

and I just barely made it!
Louis Dean was sitting outside on the driveway with his glass of tea waiting for me.
I didn't go in the house immediately since I knew I would start picking up and putting up, so we sat out there and visited for awhile before we had to go in when it started raining.....again.

There was quite a bit of damage control.
If I had to give him a score, it would be a C+.
I shut cupboard doors, wiped off the fridge doors, put up all the diches on the counters, wiped off the stove, moved the dishes in one cupboard back to where I had them. He had moved the white bowls up to another shelf and rearranged things. Problem with that is I am too short to reach them the way he had them - so I put them back. I got the kitchen put back to rights except for cleaning the fridge and the floor and then I went to bed.

I dealt with all the rest of it today.

Look at all the Kansas City BBQ sauces Rita gave us!
And the big wine glasses will be reminders of all things 'Kansas City.'

Rita and I are of the same mind about using our pretty things, so my wine glass can do double duty as  my tea glass!

I had to go to the store today so I hit up Big Lots and found Louis Dean some bath products.
He does love a good bubble bath!
He's pretty happy to have me home again.

I hung this sign from Buster and Ann Marie up today.

Buster sent me this beautiful poem on my way home yesterday.

I am closing this journal entry with a 54 second video of my first meeting with Buster.

I can hardly keep my eyes open and I have roughly proofed this, but I need to go to bed now.

Thank you all for the kind comments and prayers for me.
It's been a long journey and I am so grateful I have not only a happy ending - but a brand new beginning of my relationships to my newly found siblings.
I know I may have forgotten some things but, if I have, I can do a follow up post tomorrow!