Papa gets London off to a good start on a bicycle.
London quickly mastered bike riding and was very happy.
Off into the sunset.
Papa took him on a walk, too.
London with his cousins Abby (middle) and Katy (left). They played a LOT.
London takes a pit stop from riding bikes with his cousins to get a shoe fix from Mumpa.
The Terrible Trio at play.
Vicki and Grandma Onie at the races.
Uncle Dan had to do some regulatin'.
Papa gets a baby neck.
A grackle in the top of the tree across the street from Mimi and Papa's.
At my parents' place in the country, the fields were full of red-winged blackbirds.
Grandpa had a pile of sand left over from working on his new garage. It made a good play place for his grandkids.
Another red-winged blackbird.
I don't know what this is--a sparrow or finch of some sort, I suppose--but there were lots of them around.
Grandma found some silly hats for Grandpa and London.
London likes their kitty, Alice.
A leopard frog down at the creek.
Grandpa, Grandma, and London walking back from the creek.
Back to the ancestral manse. London is the yellow blog tearing across the yard by the propane tank.
The wheat is almost ready to turn.
The old red shed.
London helped Grandma and Grandpa plant flowers.
More plants for the south porch.
After the plants are in, time for a rest.
We put periwinkles in the barrels out front.
The last step was watering the new plants.
Another mind-bending Oklahoma sunset.
Every time we went down to the creek we saw this same fat bullfrog sunning himself on the bank.
The creek, a prime focus of Wedel exploration for a quarter century.
Found in the pasture at the creek: remains of a bobcat. This skull is now shiny white and sitting on my desk at work.
On the same hike, Todd and I found this young raccoon traveling upstream.
We followed the raccoon until it disappeared into a pile of brush. It did not appear to be troubled by our presence at all.
Also in the pasture: the shed skin of a snake.
A baby water snake.
Someone's foot bones, probably those of an armadillo.
Same frog, different day.
Three generations taking it easy.
My brother Todd soaks Vicki's hair. Note flailing limbs and priceless expression!
Ah, nothing like a big dirt pile.
A dropped call. (That might be funnier if you know that they were using the little plastic shapes as toy phones.)
"Anna Rufe" with a toy "wobster" (London's words).
Go West. --Young Man
Grandpa and Aunt Becca taking the little ones to the creek.
The Norman Wedels
London loves the creek.
Cousins taking a "baff".
"Unka Matty" gets some baby time.
Grandpa reading the nighttime Bible story.
Now this is the picture of fascination.
The blue ball is actually flying through the air--Anna Ruth just threw it to Uncle Ryan.
London always loves his time with Grandma.
Some attention from Grandpa is nice, too.
Two babies getting dry.
Aunt Courtney shares her new kitten, Petra, with her niece and nephew.
London liked petting the baby kitten.
Aunt Courtney, Uncle Ryan, and their dogs Valentine and Ender on a walk with the little ones.
Uncle Ryan and Aunt Courtney at the creek.
They never get tired of this.
Courtney and Ryan with Petra.
Petra sacked out after a long day.
Back in Bethany, Papa turned on the sprinklers so London and I could cool off.
Summertime is the best.
Of course we had to go feed the geese at the local park.
They didn't mob us like they did at Christmas, but there was still plenty of interest.
This was our last stop before lunch and the airport. A fitting end to a wonderful trip.
London with Mimi and Papa.
I think this is what he will remember best: time spent with his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.
On Friday we went down to Norman to visit our old stomping grounds, including the museum. Here we are with Sauroposeidon in the new entrance gallery.
Mimi came with us and took London on a little day to howl.
It was the first time that London had been to the museum since he was really big enough to remember. He thought it was cool.
Here they are with the museum's Pentaceratops, which has a skull 10.5 feet long.
It's probably my favorite thing in the museum...unless a certain little boy is there.
London wanted to know why the raptors wanted to eat the baby Tenontosaurus. Sometimes life is like that.
Saturday we met Aunt Sarah, Uncle Dan, and Abby and Caty at the Tulsa Air and Space Museum. Here London and Abby try out a jet trainer.
London also got to fly a model of an F-16 through a wind tunnel.
This flying business is no joke!
London and Caty with the museum's centerpiece, an F-14 Tomcat. This is the good guys' jet fighter from Top Gun.
I had not known how much of the Saturn V was actually manufactured in Tulsa. London was pretty thrilled, too.
And what could be better than being astronaut for a day, or a few minutes at least?
Ah, I think your oxygen might start running low, there.
Abby got to try out a mockup of the jetpack worn by shuttle and space station astronauts. It hovered like an air hockey puck to give the sensation of frictionless motion.
Abby and Daniel check out a real cockpit.
Now where are these three hiding?
Answer: in a photo booth shaped like a space capsule. I don't think London knew or cared that it wasn't the real deal.
Here one of the museum docents walks the kids through a launch sequence for the space shuttle.
Away she goes! At this point London turned to Aunt Sarah and said, "But there's no fire coming out!"
One more look at the F-14.
We had the Cooper family gift exchange on Sunday. The kiddos passed out the presents.
My little elf, hard at work.
We were pretty well buried in presents by the end. From left to right: Vicki, her sister Sarah, Sarah's husband Dan, Vicki's mom Carla and dad Terry.
London needs some help with one of the bigger boxes.
Inside, a dinosaur blanket that Mimi has been working on for two years!
London's new tank claims its first victim.
A light-and-sound police car. I foresee disappearing batteries unless restraint is applied.
Sunday was also Vicki's birthday. Her THIRTY-FIFTH birthday. That's the point where the little candles just can't keep up. Sorry, hon.
I had not noticed before, but I believe that Sarah is twirling the propane lighter Old West style while we sing Happy Birthday.
Even blowing out two candles is a victory at this advanced age.
This morning London and the girls and I went to the big park across the street from Mimi and Papa's neighborhood. There is a nice playground and, more importantly, a big steep hill.
Perfect for cardboard-box sledding.
Abby does her Supergirl impression.
Sometimes it's good to have a copilot.
Over at the playground, London continues his fascination with speed. Seriously. He says, "Watch me, Daddy, I'm gonna go SPEED!"
Climbing the hill a thousand times is probably a good way to work off the Christmas feast. Certainly a rewarding way.
"I'm going ALMOST speed!"
Busy slopes today.
Caty had her technique down.
This evening Papa dug an old telescope out of the back of the garage. He'd found it at a garage sale for five bucks.
It was FILTHY, but with a little WD40 and some soapy water, we got it back into working condition.
For First Light we looked at the waxing crescent moon and Jupiter. The old scope delivered tack-sharp views.
Not bad for five bucks and an hour's worth of elbow grease.
On Tuesday I took London and his cousins Abby and Caty to the Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. London wanted his photo with this life-size dinosaur embryo.
Here's a real dinosaur bone for the kids (and grownups) to touch.
Caty and London with the skull of a duckbill dinosaur.
The gang reclining with the seriously awesome Pentaceratops.
And with the life-size mammoth statue in the museum rotunda.
Parting shot: face to face with Apatosaurus in the museum's "Dino-vater".
London and Grandma playing with Play-Doh.
London dunks the marshmallows in his first ever cup of hot chocolate.
I usually sleep on an air bed, which makes a convenient wrasslin' spot for Grandpa and his boy.
Still time for snuggling with Momma.
Opening Christmas presents. Too bad about Ryan's face.
In the newly enclosed garage, London and Anna Ruth rode trikes and scooters while the big boys brought in weapons for an indoor snowball fight.
Sitting with Uncle Ryan while he thaws out from a nap.
Todd, Becca, and Grandma look at an old photo album.
Aunt Courtney may be imagining biting Uncle Ryan's head off.
Aunt Courtney with three kids.
London and Anna Ruth jumping on the air bed.
Grandpa, Uncle Ryan, London, and me took a trip to Kansas on Dec. 28. We toured the Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson and then went on to Montezuma to see Great Grandpa. Here is the real Mercury Redstone rocket--the same one London dressed up as for Halloween--outside the Cosmosphere.
London with the business end of the Mercury Redstone.
With one of the mighty F1 engines of the Saturn V moon rocket, the biggest rocket engine ever flown. The engine bell on this one is only half complete; originally, it would have come down to the top of the concrete base.
Ryan and London trekking to the Cosmosphere's Gemini Titan. If it looks like it's stuck in a hole . . . it is.
The base of the Gemini Titan is down in the actual concrete flame trench from which these rockets were launched at Cape Canaveral.
London was in rocket heaven.
Inside, the morning sun was lighting up the SR-71 spy plane. One once flew across Kansas in 10 minutes.
The Cosmosphere's space shuttle is a life-size mockup, but it's still 100% cool.
Their moon lander is the real deal, one of the ones we never sent.
Grandpa and London with a replica of one of the Viking landers we sent to Mars in the late 70s.
London and Grandpa look at the Cosmosphere's space mural.
Rocket engine city. Here is a an actual rocket cluster from a Russian rocket, of the same kind that lofted Sputnik and Uri Gagarin.
The engine from a Mercury Redstone...
...and a Mercury Atlas.
The Apollo 13 command module. Not a mockup or replica, this is the actual capsule in which Jim Lovell and crew rounded the moon. The Cosmosphere also has Liberty Bell 7 from the Mercury program, the capsule from Gemini 10, and one of every Russian capsule as well.
A Lunakhod rover of the type the Russians sent to the moon in the mid 70s. One operated for almost a year. This is a spare that was never sent.
Grandpa, London, and Uncle Ryan in the flame trench with the business end of the Gemini Titan. One on hand, it is a HUGE machine. On the other, it hardly seems big enough to send two people into orbit.
Christmas 2010. We got together with Jarrod and Lynn and their daughters Sydney and Cameron. Here London is holding Sammy up for Cameron.
Sammy looks like he might be about to make a break for it.
London's expression here is priceless. You'll understand why he's making that face when you see the next picture.
Let's get ready to RUMBLE!
Now that is one happy boy.
In Okmulgee at Christmas. Papa loaned London a Tonka dump truck and backhoe, and broke up some dirt in the backyard. London spent most of the day out there digging.
London and Papa.
Grandpa drove down to the creek to pick us up after a walk on a cold day. It was the first time London had ever gotten to ride in the back of a truck.
Now that's a happy boy.
London and Anna Ruth watching a video.
Grandma holding her grandkids.
Grandpa holding his grandson.