12/22 – 12/27/16 Texarkana AR – Cruise Family

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December 22 – 27, 2016


Dec 22ndDec 23rdDec 24thDec 25thDec 26th & 27th
“Welcome to Texarkana” sign drawn by Amberleigh

“Welcome to Texarkana” sign drawn by Amberleigh

More pictures and video of their arrival at end!

Amberleigh and I (Melissa) were working on baking Christmas cookies this morning. She has been anxiously awaiting – make that all of us – for Wally and Molly’s arrival, ever since we were chosen as one of the Host Families! We have a driveway alarm and every time it went off, she would go the window to see if the mail had arrived. It was nearing 3:00 pm (CST) and we heard the alarm go off again. There was the mail carrier in the driveway – FINALLY!! Wally and Molly had arrived to Texarkana AR!!

The rest of the Welcoming Committee were patiently waiting for their arrival as well. One of Wally’s uncles, Uncle Ollie, was there as well as some

The Wally & Molly Welcoming Committee: (L to R) Cousin Sully; Cousin Holly; Curse This; Ducky; Cousin Brady; Patches; Uncle Ollie; Amberleigh

The Wally & Molly Welcoming Committee:
(L to R) Cousin Sully; Cousin Holly; Curse This; Ducky; Cousin Brady; Patches; Uncle Ollie; Amberleigh

cousins – Sully, Holly, and Brady – who showed up for the visit. There is no denying they’re all related! A couple of friends were also there – Ducky (from the Boston Duck Tours) and Curse This (a baseball from after the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004). They all planned on staying through Christmas. And we cannot forget about Patches, probably the most loved teddy bear in the world. She has been Amberleigh’s “buddy” since she was three years old. “Patches” is a teddy bear given to all children, during a Yellow Ribbon weekend, who had a parent deploying. It was in 2010 when I was deploying again to Iraq.

Now that the introductions were made, and Wally and Molly had a quick bite to eat with Patches, we headed out the door to start our adventures. We are supposed to have lots of rain starting Friday, and lasting throughout the weekend, so we wanted to get any outdoor activities done this afternoon. Our first stop was the Post Office – not to be sent away so quickly. It is housed in the same building as the U.S. Federal Court House. “Why would someone want to go there?” you ask. The reason we chose this as our first official stop to show our guests is because this building is the second most visited Court House in the country, and because of its location.

Are we in Arkansas?

Are we in Arkansas?

The court house straddles the borders of Texas and Arkansas. It is a very beautifully built building, built in 1933, by James A. Wetmore, of Beaux Arts style. This building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. We took many pictures here. Wally and Molly were very confused as to whether we were standing in Texas or in Arkansas. We told them about the uniqueness of this location. Once they figured it out as to why so many poses and pictures, they were all for more picture taking.

Are we in Texas?

Are we in Texas?

Once we finally finished at the Court House, we walked around the area and stopped to admire the town Christmas Tree. Very beautiful! Next on the agenda, was to go to Amberleigh’s school. School has been out since last Friday for Christmas break, but Amberleigh still wanted to show Wally and Molly where she goes to school. There are five elementary schools on the Arkansas side of Texarkana. Amberleigh has been going to Fairview since she was in Head Start – she’s now a fourth grader. We love this little school and are going to miss it when the school year comes to an end in the Spring. Her principal said that the fourth graders are the “Seniors” of the elementary schools here.

Since there was still some daylight left, we took a quick ride over to Spring Lake Park to play on the playground for a bit. It’s a 145-acre park that features a spring fed lake. There is lots to do here, but because we were losing daylight, we couldn’t stay long. On the way home, we stopped to take some more pictures, near the “Welcome to Arkansas” state sign. We finally made it home to have some dinner. Amberleigh served them each a salad and then had some ice cream for dessert. Once they finished with dinner, she showed them where they were going to be bunking while they are here. They will be using Patches’ bed during their stay. Molly was reading a book, “Simply the Best,” but fell asleep while reading.

It was a lot to do, filled into just a few hours on their first day here. I’m sure they were exhausted from their travels, but they were smiling the whole time. Since we are expecting rain for the next few days, we’ll be planning some indoor activities, like Sugar Cookie decorating and other things to get ready for the Christmas weekend. Until the next day…good night everyone!

 

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The day started with everyone – except Daddy (Rick), because of work – sleeping in this morning. But when Amberleigh and I woke to Wally, Uncle Ollie, and Cousins Brady and Sully talking baseball. I overheard them talking about how great the Red Sox are shaping up for the 2017 season – GO RED SOX!!! The girls, Molly, Patches, and Cousin Holly were talking about whatever girls talk about – there’s no telling!

christmas-ar

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We didn’t have time yesterday, so this morning Amberleigh showed Wally and Molly the Christmas tree and some of the Red Sox ornaments we show off proudly! And they didn’t know that they were going to be able to go to Fenway while in Texarkana! We call it “Fenway Texarkana” – they loved it! Amberleigh has a couple of Advent calendars that she does every day. Wally helped her with the Christian Advent calendar. While Molly was helping with the Santa Stocking Candy Advent calendar, Wally was trying to sneak a Hershey’s Krackel mini candy bar. He almost succeeded! Once all that was completed, we went out to feed and water the chickens. We have eight hens and one rooster named Rocky. He’s the most annoying bird I’ve ever come across! Wally and Molly didn’t know that we have them; their almost two years old.

We had lots planned for today, and it started out with making a pit stop at the bank to make a mortgage payment. We then went to the enjoy some indoor activities, because of threats of rain, and went to the Texarkana Discovery Place Children’s Museum. There is so much to do here for all ages, not just the children. I had never been, but Amberleigh had through the daycare she was in during this past summer. The first thing you can do is play on the “Ann Forehand Sound Wall,” an interactive sound wall. I am very impressed by it. The Discovery Place has many different sections, and one was a kid’s version of the Texarkana U.S.A. Post Office. Wally and Molly had a couple of Christmas cards they wanted to get sent home before it was too late.

The boys talking baseball this morning – the girls talking about whatever girls talk about.

The boys talking baseball this morning – the girls talking about whatever girls talk about.

The upstairs to the Discovery Place had even more activities. They had a section where kids could play “Dress Up.” Amberleigh didn’t want to do it, but the mischievous rascal Patches wanted to. Wally and Molly, were rolling with laughter while Patches was clowning! I’m not surprised that they wanted to have their picture taken with her. It was too funny! There is even a section where kids can put on a live puppet show. Wally, Molly, and Patches all wanted to participate. The imagination of a child can really shine through an improve of a puppet show. It was wonderful!

Since we were dodging rain drops, we took a few pictures near “The Ties That Bind” sculpture near the Amtrak train station. We just missed the rain and decided to go get some lunch while were out. We decided to go eat at one of the local hospital’s cafeteria. I used to work at this one, and it was good seeing some of my friends that I worked with. Wally and Molly even tried to help one of the cashiers with a customer. I hope they didn’t punch any wrong numbers!

It started raining again while were eating, so we decided to head back home for a while. While we were waiting for Amberleigh’s dad to get home from work, we got some Royal Icing made for the cookie decorating we will be working on tomorrow. Wally and Molly dawned on some aprons – working with confectioner’s sugar can get a bit messy at times. The verified the recipe to make sure we were making it correctly. You can ask them how it tasted, they loved it, if the smiles on their faces was any indication!!

All tucked in for the night!

All tucked in for the night!

After Daddy made it home from work, we all hopped into the SUV and headed to Shreveport, LA for the evening. This will give a total of three states that Wally and Molly will have been to during their stay here. We went to Bass Pro Shops; it’s a favorite place we like to go when we head down there. Wally and Molly tried their hand at some target shooting, and then posed in front of the extra-large fish tank with Patches. They also almost got bitten by a ferocious alligator – not really (see photo).

We finally made it back home late, almost 11:00 pm (CST). Molly wanted to read a bit from her book. But it didn’t take long for everyone else to get tucked into bed for the night – except Mom, of course. She needs to get the pictures selected, captions written, and daily diary entry submitted for Trisha for the next day’s posting to The Remy Report. Hope everyone is enjoying Wally and Molly’s adventures so far here in Texarkana U.S.A. Until tomorrow – have a good night!!!

 

Playing on the Sound Wall
Live Puppet Show

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More pictures at end!

Merry Christmas Eve everyone! Since Amberleigh was sleeping in, I had the pleasure of taking Wally and Molly out Christmas shopping this morning. They were anxious to find something for Amberleigh for Christmas, as a thank you for being such a gracious host during their stay with us. It had rained so much during the night and this morning that it looked like we had a new lake forming in our front yard. Granted, we needed the rain, but not a season’s worth in one night!

Wally and Molly headed out to do some Christmas shopping.

The three of us must have walked around Walmart about a hundred times. It wasn’t crowded when we first got there, but the store was filling up quick. We finally made it home in time to get ready to watch some Patriots football – GO PATS!!! Living in the south, it’s not every day we get the chance to watch the Pats on TV, so when their on down here, the TV is tuned in. While we were watching the game, Amberleigh and I got some much-needed help from Wally and Molly in decorating some Christmas cookies. When they were done, they went back to watching the game. Because the Patriots were crushing the NY Jets, the last quarter of the game was not on TV here in Texarkana, because CBS thought it would be more interesting to watch the Dolphins and Bills game – NOT TO US!!

Once cookie decorating was done, and the Pats game was well in hand, we all started getting ready to go to the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at Rondo United Methodist Church of Texarkana AR. It was to start at 7:00 pm. Once we got there, Wally and Molly helped distribute Christmas cards to other church members. They also helped Amberleigh pass out candles for the service. There was so much to do to get the church ready. They were asked to help light the Advent candles before service was to begin. Before the service was to start, Wally and Molly met one of the nicest ladies you will ever meet – Miss Andy (Andy Oliver). She is one of the church elders, and an all-around great person to be associated with! The service was beautiful, as always! Wally and Molly were sitting there taking it all in! We’re not sure if they’ve ever had the pleasure of attending a Christmas Eve service, but they seemed to really enjoy themselves.

Wally, Molly, and Amberleigh wanted their picture taken with Miss Andy (Andy Oliver) – such a wonderful lady!!

When we made it home from church, all the monsters were anxious to start opening presents. When I say “all the monsters”, this statement includes Amberleigh and Patches, too. Wally and Molly were surprised to have stockings for themselves. You couldn’t wipe the smiles of their faces, they were overjoyed! The tradition in our house is to allow Amberleigh to open her stocking first and then presents under the tree. Amberleigh was quite surprised to see that Wally and Molly had got her something for Christmas. They got her a package of “Hot Wheels” – she loves “Hot Wheels!” Wally and Molly really enjoyed their stockings. They each got some souvenirs from Texarkana U.S.A. and Louisiana, and you can’t forget the candy cane. They were very thankful for everything they received.

Now that gift opening was completed, it was time to get ready for bed. Wally and Molly helped Amberleigh put out milk and cookies for Santa Claus. Make sure you check out the pictures, the size of the Reindeer cookie was huge!! It wasn’t as busy of a day as the last couple, but Wally and Molly were tired because of getting up early to go shopping, so it was time for bed. Good night every one – and Merry Christmas!!!

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More pictures at end!

CHRISTMAS DAY!

Wally and Molly are checking out what Santa Claus brought Amberleigh for Christmas.

Merry Christmas everyone! The day started with waiting for Amberleigh to wake up. Even on Christmas morning, she is hard to wake up. We probably have one of the only children in the world who never seems to wake up at oh-dark thirty on Christmas morning! Wally and Molly were patiently waiting for her, as patient as two little green monsters can be. She didn’t get the chance to use much of what she received from Santa because we had to get ready for church service, at Rondo United Methodist Church, this morning.

Wally and Molly were extremely helpful again this morning at the church. The helped me log onto the church computer to get the weekly contemporary music selection ready for the service. The other songs that were sung this morning were by request, with one of the choices being “Go, Tell it on the Mountain” (one of my favorites). Wally and Molly were singing right along with everyone as loud as their little voices would allowed them.

At our church, we have a Children’s sermon, usually taught by Miss Beth (Beth Smith), another church elder that is an amazing woman to be associated with. Some of the sermons she comes up with are such a blessing for the children, as well as for the adults in attendance. This morning she used a small Plasma Globe. Wally and Molly wanted to check it out after services. They also tried to invade the Children’s candy bowl – “When God gives you a blessing, He gives you enough to share.”

Miss Beth (Beth Smith) introducing Wally and Molly to the Congregation.

After church and we made it home, it was time to prepare Christmas dinner. Wally, Molly, and Patches all wanted to have Spaghetti instead of Ham. Before dinner was ready to serve, we got a visit from Gavin Cruise (Amberleigh’s nephew (our Grandson), who is one and a half years older than her). He just so happens to be a huge Dustin Pedroia fan. I nicknamed him ‘Lil Pedey a couple of years back because after nearly every baseball game he’d play in, he’d come home with a dirty uniform.

After dinner, Wally and Molly wanted to check out some of Amberleigh’s new Christmas gifts. I think they will want to get themselves a pair of Virtual Reality Goggles when they make it back home to Massachusetts. They didn’t want to give them up! They were also introduced to Amberleigh’s new Robotic Kitty named Mittens. It can sing, begs, and walks. She can also jump into your hands. They wanted to take a short break from playing to enjoy some Christmas cookies that Amberleigh and I made earlier in the week. They later got to play with the new “Hot Wheels” that they got Amberleigh for Christmas. Patches let them play doctor with the use of her new “Doc McStuffins” doctor bag. They had lots of fun playing with everything this evening.

Well, another day has come to an end. We all had a lot of fun on this Christmas day. It was small and drama free – just the way we like it. We all want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, and remember what the real reason to celebrate Christmas is all about. Goodnight all!

A special thank you to all those at the Rondo United Methodist Church for welcoming Wally & Molly!

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Saying goodbye …

Today is Boxing Day (the day after Christmas). Wally and Molly wanted to sleep in a bit this morning. There wasn’t a whole lot planned for today anyway, so we let them rest. Once they finally woke up, they wanted to have some breakfast with Patches at her new table and chairs she got for Christmas, from Amberleigh. Not sure what they were talking about, but they were deep in conversation. I think they were talking about how their visit to Texarkana U.S.A. was very memorable. Wally and Molly kept thanking Patches for helping with their stay.

Lego fun with Amberleigh!

There was more rain again this morning, so we stuck around the house. We started working on one of Amberleigh’s new Lego sets she got for Christmas. It is the “Amusement Park Roller Coaster” set. Wally and Molly wanted to help with putting it together. It took over three hours to complete, and just in time for some lunch.

After Wally and Molly finished with lunch, they wanted to have the Sugar cookies they decorated the other day. They were so good. They were still hungry, so they started working on the baseball shaped cookie we decorated with a Red Sox sock on it. For such little monsters, they sure do have a hefty appetite!

After lunch and snacks were complete, Patches invited one of her best friends over for a visit, Red, the Dog. He’s from Massachusetts as well and wanted to meet Wally and Molly before they had to leave Tuesday morning for their next adventure. Not only were Patches and Red catching up, Red was talking Red Sox baseball with Wally and Molly, and how he was excited for the upcoming season. Red also told them that he was named after the “Red Sox.” They agreed on how beautiful New England is, especially in the Fall. The visit was short lived, Red had things to take care of, but was extremely excited to have been able to meet a couple of Massachusetts celebrities!

After the visiting was over, Wally and Molly wanted to check some more of what Amberleigh got for Christmas. Next, they decided to play with her “Little Live Pets Fun Park”. It came with an electronic mouse with a couple of babies. The mother mouse races around the track and “picks” up one baby at a time to bring it the Ferris Wheel. It’s a cute little set up. Wally and Molly were impressed with how the mother mouse knew where to pick up the babies.

Since Monday was the day after Christmas, it was considered a Federal Holiday, so there wasn’t hardly anything open in town, so we decided to just stay home the rest of the day, as well. There were lots of toys to play with! After dinner, Wally and Molly wanted to know what Kinetic Sand was. It’s like working with sand from the beach, but it never dries out and holds its shape while you play.

It was finally time for bed. Wally and Molly needed plenty of rest because they must get ready to travel to their next destination, Omaha, NE, tomorrow. Good night everyone!

Last night at the Cruise residence! Time for much needed rest before their travels.

Tuesday, the 27th came too quickly. Wally and Molly knew that they had a long two- or three-day travel ahead of them, so they got up early to get everything together, checking to make sure that nothing was left behind. We supplied them with a sandwich baggie to put their goodies in they received for Christmas from all of us. Amberleigh even supplied them with a “new suitcase” to help with their travels. Before it was time to leave, everyone wanted to take a few more pictures together. The whole “Welcoming Committee” and Red got together for the photo opportunities. They even went to “Fenway Texarkana” one more time. Nobody wanted the time to come to an end. But everyone knew that Wally and Molly had other Host Families to visit throughout the country. We will continue to watch for their updates throughout the Winter. We all can’t wait to see what other mischievous things they will get into.

Well, it was that time to tuck our guest into their travelling compartment and head to the Post Office. We, the Cruise Family, want to say thank you to Trisha and anyone else who decides on the Host Families for Wally and Molly. We had such a wonderful time showing them around our little piece of the country. I’m sure if it hadn’t rained so much throughout the weekend, we could have done more outside activities with them, but they never complained. They were extremely grateful for the hospitality they received.

Safe travels, Wally and Molly!!! We look forward to meeting again someday!

On to NEBRASKA!

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