Lake Ahquabi State Park

Today we went for a hike with the Reagens. The hike was fun, and a little longer than we had bargained for, then we (the Lieslands) got stuck on an icy hill trying to leave the park. A nice man in a pick-up truck stopped to dump some sand and the Reagens came back to help push us out.

Hikers
Sledders
Sisters

Not too many pictures of the big kids as they were well ahead of us. Maybe I can get Andrew to share some of his pictures. . .

Gary Reagen

Nate’s dad, Gary, passed away this week. We have spent a lot of time together over the years because of how close we are with the Reagens, and it has been very sad for us. Gary was diagnosed with cancer about a year and a half ago and it has been a declining rollercoaster since that time. Gary was engaging, thoughtful, intelligent, and kind, amongst other things, and he will be missed.

Here is his official obituary, written by Nate and his brother, Josh:

Reagen, Gary Husband, father, grandfather, uncle, brother, and friend of many, died peacefully at his home at the age of 71. He was surrounded at death by his two sons and wife Kathleen of more than 48 years. Gary was a man of integrity and bravery, volunteering for the Army and serving in Vietnam as part of a Special Forces unit called Project Delta. He was blessed with a uniquely deep voice that helped him in his career in television and radio for more than 20 years. Gary had a presence that got your attention. The way he spoke and how he carried himself left a lasting impression. He loved playing cards, listening to Motown, spending time with his family, and enjoying a beer with the sun on his face. Gary understood that life was precious and would often stop, close his eyes, and treasure the moment. He developed many great relationships over the years, especially with his five grandchildren whom he adored. If cancer were in any other form, Gary would have overcome it, just like he overcame so many other adversities in his life. The world was a better place with Gary in it, and our lives are better for having had him as a part of it. Rest in peace our brave warrior, we think of you and miss you every day. Memorial services will be arranged once gatherings can occur safely. In lieu of flowers and in his remembrance, please consider donating to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, a charity that Gary strongly supported and believed in. Because Gary would always like to leave you smiling – And the Lord said unto John, “Come forth and you shall receive eternal life”. John came fifth and won a toaster.

Nate and his family have also been working on updating reagen.com to feature Gary’s biography. He led quite an interesting life.

Girls Night & Boys Night

Last night we split up the boys and girls from the Lieslands and the Reagens and had a girls night and boys night. The girls stayed at the Reagens’ and highlights included nachos, a dessert bar, fashion show, and couples yoga. The boys stayed at the Lieslands’ and highlights included sandwich bar, watching football, playing ping pong, playing drawful, and eating junk. Nate was unable to join us because he was in Minneapolis visiting his dad.

New Year’s Eve 2020

This year for New Year’s we had the Reagens and the Liesses over for a wild party. The Reagens spent the night.

Hanging out before dinner.
Kids dinner
Mimi & Rose playing a game.
Hope & Mari
Erin and Susan
Rose and Lucia
Memory Game
The Morning
Baking Competition
Finished Products

Christmas Day

Christmas day followed a fairly standard schedule in our house, with some modifications because of the pandemic. The day started at 7:30 when Lucia and Rose woke up. We told the older kids they could sleep until 9 so when Lucia and Rose woke up we watch the newest version of the grinch until 9.

The kids always have to wait in the upstairs hallway together before they are released.
Stocking unstuffers
Chocolate chip pancake breakfast
Lucia was really excited about her new American Girl doll, Joss.
Rose got a lot of new toys and made a whole estate for her new people and horses. Here she is taking a break to snuggle.
Mari made this neat artwork for Susan.
Elliot and Rose
In the afternoon we went for a hike with the Reagens.
In the evening we had zoom sessions with the Liess clan and the Hyland clan.

Merry Christmas!

Weekend Wrap-Up

Nutella Bread with Hope
Mari made the bread.
I was in Cincinnati for my Uncle Tom’s funeral.
It was really warm in Des Moines and we don’t have great leaves in our yard, so Susan, Lucia, and Rose made a nice leaf pile at the park.
Lunch after the funeral.
My dad, Chuck, Ken, Ruth Ann, Nancy, and Janet.
Rose and Lucia playing with rocks at the creek.
Their creations. I imagine Susan helped a little with these.
They are their mother’s daughters.
Elliot and Hope enjoying some funeral lunch leftovers.

Pumpkinville

It is not very often that I post without pictures, but tonight we went to a pumpkin patch and corn maze in Mitchellville, just outside of Des Moines, and had a great time. We are celebrating Andrew’s birthday tomorrow night and we were looking for something to do on his actual birthday. The Reagens recommended the corn maze and we all met up just before the entrance closed at 8. We spent a little over an hour in the maze before sitting around a fire until a little after 10. When our cars were the last ones in the lot we felt it was probably time to leave. The funniest thing is that the boys group, Andrew, Ian, Cameron, and Elliot, spent a long time doing the corn maze blindfolded. It was a challenge under normal conditions and I am not sure how they did it.

Oh, and Happy Birthday, Andrew! More to come on that. . .

Labor Day Weekend

We had a fun, busy Labor Day Weekend. The Mary and Casey were in town and it was the last weekend to have our pool up. On Friday we had everyone over for pizza and to watch the Valley vs Dowling football game. On Saturday we did our own thing during the day and then Mary and Casey hosted dinner at the Rafferty’s (their friends’ house). Sunday was the closing party for the pool.

Friday night dinner
Kids’ table
Susan and I headed to the Connor dinner.
Supply organizing to get ready for another year of homeschooling for Lucia and Rose.
Elliot has been working hard this summer to save money to buy a new bike.
Kids in the pool.
Tube flip
See you next year, pool!

Whiterock Conservancy

Today we took a day trip to Whiterock Conservancy with the Reagens. we have been out here a few times over the past few years, usually with the Reagens. Sometimes we spend the night. We enjoyed playing in the very low river, looking Lucia’s lost shoe, hiking, biking, and just hanging out.

Lucia and Rose crossing the river.
Susan and Erin making their way to a shady spot.
Opposite site
Bikers
Nate and Erin
Hope, Susan and Mari, with Lucia in the back