July 2nd found us in Southern California at a BIG party at Kathy and Tim’s to celebrate Rylan’s first birthday. Rylan actually turned one on July 4th. It just worked out better all around to celebrate a couple days early.

When I say BIG birthday party I am talking 67 attendees. I am talking lots of Independence Day decorations, red, white, and blue frosted cakes, balloons, bubbles, lots of sunshine, baby hands being molded into plaster of Paris to create take home mementos, four crock pots of meat cooking overnight, an album of many special Rylan moments from the past year, four double-sized salads, a Kegerator of beer, two ice chests filled with drinks, a huge pile of presents, and even a slideshow on the big screen TV.

Of course the best part of the party was Rylan, the star of the day, a cute little boy who was quite well behaved considering all the noise, all the people, and all the activity. He was so good about being handed from person to person, being carried around, and just taking everything in. Watching him with his cake was great. When everyone sang Happy Birthday he just looked around wondering what the heck the big deal was. His little cake decorated like a flag definitely caught his interest. Just to be sure, his Daddy shoved his hand into the cake covering it with blue frosting. When Rylan tasted the frosting he made the funniest face. When he was given a taste of the cake itself he became much more interested.

There were cameras flashing everywhere (and several camcorders in action). I was not one to get behind. I took over 200 pictures! My most favorites are posted at www.kodakgallery.com.















After viewing our home page you probably think the reason we went to Indiana was to hunt Mastodons! Of course that was not the mission at all. We were in Fort Wayne for the annual convention hosted by the Austin Families Association of America and The Austin Families Genealogical Society. The discovery of Mastodons was an unexpected and enjoyable diversion.

We spotted the first one right away just a couple of blocks from our hotel. " Don D. Tourist" was in front of the visitors center. He was indeed an inspiration—especially after we went inside the center and were handed a brochure on "Mastodons on Parade in Fort Wayne." The event actually happened in 2005. Most all of the Mastodons are now extinct (well not really, a lot of them were auctioned off for charity).

When we spotted another Mastodon on our way to dinner with the Austin group, we began to realize there was more than one Mastodon still alive and well in Fort Wayne. On our way to a tour of the DeBrand Chocolate Factory we spotted yet another. The brochure from the Visitors Center included a map showing the original location of all 102 Mastodons so after the discovery of three we found ourselves hopelessly sucked in to hunt for more. One interesting search was for the Mastodon sponsored by the Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne.

After arriving at the hospital and having difficulty finding a parking place (lots of sick people in Fort Wayne) we walked into the main entrance and looked all around. No Mastodon to be found. As we were walking out I spotted a couple of gentleman at the front lobby desk, who did not look busy (they actually looked bored ) so I inquired if they knew anything about the Mastodon sponsored by the hospital. They didn't however one of them, his name was Kim, was very interested in helping us find out where it might have gone. Kim made several phone calls and finally reported to us that it had been auctioned off. We thanked him profoundly and were on our way. Before we got to our car he came running after us. I thought maybe he had found out who bought the Mastodon! He was more interested in talking to us because he had found out his concierge-mate discovered we were Californians. Kim too is from California so wanted to chat. He moved to Fort Wayne ten years ago to take over his father's farm. After visiting awhile, he handed us a business card for his glass etching business (impressive by the way—check out his site at www.glassfarmusa.com). He then told us goodbye saying "Shine On" and returned to his desk duties. I told Robert he probably enjoyed our Mastodon quest, it was a nice diversion compared to all those sick people he deals with all day long!

The map sent us in other directions without results but it also helped us find two more Mastodons bringing our total to five by the time we left Fort Wayne and headed to the airport for the next leg of our journey (to Seattle). At that point I was pleased with the five (Don D. Tourist, MAST"er" Builder, Auto Don, Cave O Don, and Chopper Don) we had found in Fort Wayne. Our hunt was over. I was wrong. As we were standing in the ticket line I spotted one more: AeroDONamic!

You can view ALL of the Mastodons that were on parade at http://jordan.fortwayne.com/jgmastodons/.

Fort Wayne, Indiana was more than Mastodons of course. On one day, we especially enjoyed the opportunity to visit an Amish area about an hour out of Fort Wayne. Not only did we see many Amish horse and buggies clopping very speedily along the paved streets and highways we also visited an Amish farm to check out wooden toys made by a farmer for sale to tourists (us). Even though we didn't buy one of his handsome, handmade toys we did purchase a couple of commercial toys he retailed: a train and an animal puzzle (for Rylan of course). We decided the handmade toys were too intricate for a one-year-old.

On the way to the farm we noticed a number of ponies on many of the farms. It appeared a lot of Amish kids must have a pony to play with. Sure enough, when we arrived at the farmhouse we enjoyed watching two little girls and a little boy in a small wagon being pulled by a pony all around the house and across the expansive green yard. It was so cute and I would have loved to have taken a picture. I didn't want to come across as a brash tourist though. Huge green lawns are very evident all around the Fort Wayne area, every house and farm in the outlaying areas has an acre or more of deep green grass; all beautifully mowed).

Fort Wayne is the home of DeBrand Chocolates!

If you are ever looking for the best, most perfect chocolate then buy some from DeBrand in Fort Wayne, Indiana. We took their tour and were quite impressed with the free samples—so smooth and rich!. One of their many specialties are "Trump Chocolate Bullions" which are sold in the Trump Tower in New York! If anybody wants to buy us DeBrand chocolates for Christmas we won't argue. Visit www.debrand.com and start ordering! Even if you don't buy you gotta go to the site. It will make your mouth water!

Pictures from Indiana Trip


















Of course our favorite part of this year's Gray PEAR family reunion was having Kathy and Rylan there! The two of them flew into Seattle the day before the reunion and stayed with Robert and I in Bellingham at a hotel (complete with supplied crib) over the reunion weekend. We really enjoyed seeing Rylan show off how he is now walking and how he likes to talk. His favorite word is "ball" and everywhere we went he would look for balls. He 'd find them too. When we were at Lake Samish he pointed at a float in the water and told us it was a ball. When we were in a restaurant and he pointed at a lamp in the shape of a globe he told us it was a ball. We had to admit he was right!

He even said "Grandpa" and "Grandma" (or are we being wishful?) several times. He stopped calling me Grandma though when I put my hummingbird earrings on. From then on every time he saw me, he would look at my earrings and say "bird." I am so curious to see if he calls me "bird" the next time I see him!

This year's reunion was a celebration of 25 years. Special attendance certificates were given to the top ten attendees with the top five receiving "gold medal awards" and candy bars from DeBrand Chocolates (you read all about DeBrand in my Fort Wayne article, right?)

 Certificates of attendance were awarded to the following family members:
Gray Side
Ellingson Side
 Gold Medal Reunion Attendees:
 Irene*xxxxxxxxx   xxxxxxxxxxxxx
 Frank Juan x xxxxxxxxxxxxx
 Lee   xxxxxxxxxxxxx
 Dawn   xxxxxxxxxxxxx
 Frank Russell   xxxxxxxxxxxxx
 Silver Medal Reunion Attendees:
 Tom xxxxxxxxxxx  
 Joan   xxxxxxxxxxxxx
 Patti xxxxxxxxxxx  
 Loran   xxxxxxxxxxxxx
 Chris   xxxxxxxxxxxxx

*In 25 years, other than my Mom, Irene is the only who has not missed a single reunion!

Also for the 25 year event I printed several sets of all the group photos taken since the very first reunion in 1981. I set them out for everyone to peruse and to guess the year of each for a prize. I probably had more fun buying the prizes than everyone did guessing the years. The day after we arrived from Indiana, my Mom, Robert and I found a newly opened Dollar Tree store near my Mom's house and had a blast buying a wonderful array of items to use as prizes. If you haven't been to a Dollar Tree you gotta go! It's a chain so you just might have one near you. Go to www.dollartree.com to find out. You will be amazed at the variety and the quality of merchandise you can buy for just a dollar. Even Robert enjoyed it! He found a book of Sudoku puzzles, one of his favorite pastimes, and a pop-up book for Rylan.

View All Group Photos

And true to tradition, there was a pinata for all the kids ( we had a record number this time). The pinata was created by my Mom this year (with a little decorating help from me). It would have been a real challenge for me to make one to bring on all the planes we traveled on. This year the pinata was a parrot, oops, excuse me, a "Pearette," to go along with the new Red Hat Club that is now. as of this year, part of the Gray PEAR Family Reunion. Our Red Hat Club is called "The Gray Pearettes and Their Guys."

For all of you who attended (and those of you who were not able to), did you forget to turn in your logo design? There was so little participation in the Pearette logo contest (announced in the invitation) it has been officially extended to 2007. As a reminder, make the logo a gray parrot and shape it like a pear with red, purple and pink feathers. Send your design to me or my Mom or bring it to the next reunion in 2007. If yours is the best design, you win a prize!

This year's reunion event included a wine tasting the night before the picnic which took place at Patti and Loonie's, this year's reunion hosts for the family reunion picnic. Patti and Lonnie: you both did a great job!

All those who came to the wine tasting were asked to bring wine from their home area or bring their own homemade wine. Each wine was tasted and scored and the top scoring wines netted cool prizes.

Pictures From Wine Tasting and Family Picnic











Well it is obvious Mom's movie "Apart From That" has indeed become a real hit, It is receiving so much press and is being accepted in one film festival after another! So very cool! The latest news is that it is now booked overseas!

Korea and Croatia

• The 7th Seoul Film Festival
• Libertas Film Festival 2006


• Edinburgh International Film Festival:

August 13, 9:00 am Filmhouse 2 Rosebud Section (Industry Screening)
August 15, 7:30 pm Filmhouse 2 Rosebud Section
August 18, 5:45 pm Filmhouse 2 Rosebud Section
August 25, 10:00 pm Filmhouse 2 Rosebud Section

New York too!

• Rooftop Films—Movies on a roof in brooklyn

September, 9:00 pm, Venue TBA

AND, here is another clip from the movie (from WOLPHIN, DVD Magazine of Unseen Movies):


Below are additional links to reviews not listed in my blog section about my Mom's movie.

• Seattle Post Intelligencer (scroll down page to read review on "Apart From That")
• Northwest Asian Weekly (scroll down)
• Movie Threat

Many more details about "Apart From That" can be found at www.foreignamericapictures.com






















Right after celebrating Rylan turning one, Robert and I headed home to rest from the long seven hour drive before turning around the next day to attend a barbecue at Chris’ house.

Chris was very excited to have this party. Where he lives is one of the few places left that still sells fireworks at local stands. Chris did a lot of research on fireworks and came up with a good selection to create a very entertaining show.

As it was, Chris’ party was more than barbecue and fireworks. Being the entertainer he is, he billed his party as an opportunity to play Skee-Ball as well. Since he set up his Skee-Ball to spit out tickets he decided to provide prizes redeemable for one to thirty Skee-Ball tickets! He displayed all the prizes on a nearby bookcase to entice Skee-Ball players. I saw people leaving with handfuls! Ashley was especially happy with the Snow White doll she won.
Chris didn’t stop short of providing Skee-Ball, fireworks, and barbecued hamburgers (well okay he talked his friend Pat into grilling the burgers) he also had his game room stuffed with arcades and pinball machines for everyone to play! BTW Pat, good job!

Of course the fireworks were the main focus of the party. As soon as dinner was over everyone moved outdoors (except Kenny who wasn’t quite ready to be pulled away from pinball playing). As dusk turned to dark, there were dazzling displays of snakes, flowers, sparklers, pinwheels, fountains, and more—every single item categorized, inventoried, and rated for dazzle by Kim.

Add to that perfect evening weather. It cooled off nicely without getting too cold plus there was barely any wind.
Sitting on the lawn with family in Chris’ large backyard watching a show that lasted a good hour and a half was a perfect way to celebrate the Fourth of July!