Thursday, December 31, 2009

Cantrell Christmas 2009

With Ashby now 17 months old, we had the best Christmas ever!

We started with all the decorating right after Thanksgiving. Billy was still here, so he helped put lights up on the house. We all got together to decorate the tree before he left.

I had done a lot of shopping during the year, so much of my "shopping" was going through what I already had. I bought a few missing things online and made one stop at the mall to finish up. Oh, and of course, I had to go to the Dollar Store to find stocking stuffers. Other than groceries, that was about all there was to the shopping - nice and easy this year. Bill did pick up a couple of items, so that was also a help.

That left a little time for some fun things, so Lisa and I did a craft project. We made the nutcracker soldiers from clay pots that everyone has made over the last few years. It took us several days, since Ashby was so involved - one day for shopping, one for painting the base coat, two or three for the handpainting. And they turned out really cute! Now to figure out how to store them........

Billy drove down from Iowa a couple of days before Christmas. That was his third trip down in less than two months, but we were still so excited for him to come.

Christmas Eve is always with the extended family. This year we went to Julie's house. There was a nice group this year with all three of Bill's sisters, plus tons of nieces and nephews and all of their children. Ashby is the baby of the group and she had a ball. The traditional dinner is homemade tacos, which everyone loves. We often do a talent show, but this year it was very short. We then did a gag gift game which has also become a tradition. We finished up with opening the real gifts from the name draw. It was a lot of fun. We then went over to Lisa's for a little while, since Ashby was getting extremely tired. She was still so wound up, though, that it took a while for her to actually go to bed.

Leroy is the taco cook. He makes them using the recipe his mother taught him.

Lisa and Judy singing for the talent show. That's me making the mistakes on the piano!
Nice gag gift, Nancy. Do you really support cheerleaders?
Some of the family enjoying being together.
Christmas Day, Lisa and David and Ashby came over late morning and we opened gifts. The rest of the day was just fun and relaxing. For dinner we grilled a London broil, veggie-kabobs, and shrimp. Mighty tasty!

Ashby wasn't much into the gift thing yet, but she loved all the activity. She was excited about every gift that was opened. She especially loved all the attention she got, both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I think she figures Christmas is all about her! She is definitely the most entertaining part of any day.

Even the bows are fun for Ashby. She loves that hat and wears it all the time!

Uncle Billy got her her first laptop and she loved it! Everytime he got his own out, she came running, so he figured she was ready for her own.

The Little People Farm from Grandma Vanett was really neat.

She loved her new baby doll from Grandma and Grandpa Cantrell.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Babysitting Ashby - For 5 Days This Time!

We had the best time taking care of Ashby for five days last week while David and Lisa were away. His company pays for an outing for employees and spouses at the Amelia Island (Florida) resort every year. No children are included, so someone had to take care of Ashby or Lisa would have had to stay home. We graciously sacrificed our time to take care of her. (Did you hear the chuckle as I wrote that? Some sacrifice!)

After stopping by the doctor's office to have him check out her fever and sniffles, they dropped her off on Wednesday. Turns out it was just a virus and not strep or flu, so they could leave her. Then our fun started! As usual, she was fun and cute and happy almost all the time, even not feeling up to par. I was most worried about her sleeping since she usually wants to be in her own bed, but we managed to do just fine. The crib is in the guest room, so one of us would just lie on the bed while she went to sleep. She never fussed at all about naps or nighttime. She woke up a couple of nights while she still had the fever and we gave her another dose of tylenol. Otherwise, she slept well.

It is interesting that a little 16 month old can get homesick, but I think she did. One of the sweetest stories happened while Bill was alone with her and I was at work. She was looking at the photo albums and got the one of the wedding. She was caught up in looking at pictures of mommy and daddy. She stopped at a picture of David, put her head almost on the page and just stared at him. Then she put her head the rest of the way down and started to cry. Poor Bill! He distracted her by putting on her favorite video and then hid the album so that wouldn't happen again. There were several other less dramatic moments when she was obviously missing mommy and daddy.

By Friday, she was feeling better and getting a little cabin fever. I was able to take off work, as did Bill, so we decided to go out. We made one errand stop and then went to the mall. She loves walking in the mall, watching all the people, especially all the babies. We went to the play area, but she didn't play long. She was really excited about the train, though. She knows the sign for train and kept making the sign and laughing. Bill was going to take her for a ride in it, but she almost cried when he tried to get her on the train. I guess she just likes watching it. She has ridden it before, but Lisa rode with her so that must have made the difference. We also walked over to the arcade where they have cars, buses, trains, airplanes, and whatever, that you can ride in. We didn't put any money in, so none of the vehicles did anything, but she loved going from one to the next and sitting in it and pushing all the buttons she could find. By then, we were all getting hungry, so we headed to the food court to get lunch. Because of her fever, she hadn't been eating too well, but by Friday, her appetite was back! She ate a ton of mashed potatoes, corn, chicken and anything else she could reach off our plates. She fell asleep on the drive home and then took a long nap. All that cute stuff - and we forgot to take a camera! Can you believe that?

After the first couple of days, she was really at home and acted like she ruled the place - which, of course, she did! When we decorated the tree, we made sure that breakables were on the upper part of the tree, so she could play with the things on the lower branches. She loves the tree and spent a lot of time taking things off and trying to put them back. She loves books and was always bringing a book for one of us to read to her. We have a coffee table book of Christmas pictures from around the USA. She loved looking at that and finding pictures of "babies." Her favorite picture is of four little babies - quads - all dressed up in Christmas outfits. Her absolute favorite thing was to stand in front of the open refrigerator and look at everything in there. She also liked to play in the office while I was at the computer. She discovered which doors and drawers she could open and would empty everything she could.

On Sunday afternoon, I heard a car door slam and looked out to see that Lisa and David were back. I got Ashby to head for the door and when Lisa opened it, Ashby went crazy! She was so excited to see mommy and daddy that she could hardly control herself. She bounced up and down, laughed, smiled, reached back and forth between them, and wouldn't let them put her down. So cute!

We had such a good time. Sunday night, after they went home, it seemed too quiet! We slept better - not having to half listen for Ashby - but it was lonely! I have said before that I have lived my whole life for this moment - and it is more true every day. I am so glad we live close enough that we get to do this kind of thing. I love being a grandma!!!!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Another Thanksgiving - Another Wonderful Day

We had one of those really special Thanksgivings this year. We decided to have just our family rather than getting with extended family this year. That made it quiet, but relaxing and fun.

Billy drove down from Iowa on Tuesday. Wednesday we made sure we had everything we were going to need - but of course Billy still had to run to Kroger's on Thursday morning. I had checked the spice cabinet and was sure I saw sage for the stuffing so I didn't buy any. When I started to make it, I couldn't find any - so he saved the day and the stuffing by making a run to the store. I also made a chocolate peanut butter cream pie that day. It was something new to try.

We worked together getting things going on Thursday morning. Part of the fun of Thanksgiving is cooking together. I made the stuffing while Billy got the turkey ready (and made the run to the store). The goal was to get our 20-pounder into the oven by 9:00. At 8:55, we closed the oven door and did a little cheer! Meanwhile, Bill was snapping the green beans and getting them on to cook. We then got the table all set - using the Lenox china and sterling silver that belonged to my grandmother, of course. It only gets used once or twice a year. After getting all the serving dishes figured out, we took a little break.

The second thing that makes Thanksgiving fun is watching football, so that is where Bill and Billy planted themselves. The games weren't on yet, but there is plenty of pre-game coverage and other sports tidbits to fill in.

After Ashby napped, David and Lisa showed up bringing their share of the dinner. We got potatoes peeled and cooking and other last minute things going. Finally around 3:00, we sat down for our feast. Everything turned out perfect! We ooh'ed and aah'ed our way through dinner until everyone was stuffed - just like the turkey!

After cleaning everything up, the rest of the afternoon was spent lying in front of the TV, napping, taking a walk, or other equally relaxing events. Lisa and David wanted to nap, so Bill watched Ashby since all she wanted to do was run around. I had thought I would take a nap, and was on the bed, when Ashby and Bill showed up. We all spent the next hour and more playing together. She was on the bed and having more fun. We laughed the whole time. Needless to say, we never did get naps.

Later, after eating some of the four pies we had for dessert, I watched Ashby while everyone else played some games. She entertains herself so well - just have to keep an eye on her because she is curious enough that you never know where she will head next.

It turned out to be one of those special Thanksgivings - so relaxing, fun, and quiet, with all the elements of a perfect holiday. It is one of my favorites, because it is just about family and remembering blessings. For me, having Billy, Lisa, David and Ashby made it perfect!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Books I Read This Year

Since I have read so many books while recuperating from the surgery, I got to wondering how many books I had read this year. I started recording every book I read on Shelfari so I can remember what I read and when. I started in April 2008 and so far have 86 books posted. I did not go back and add books I had read before that, so that is what I have actually read since then.

For 2009, I have read 55 books - more than I would have thought. There are some that I gave 5 stars to. I am really stingy with 5 stars, so these are the books that really impressed me. That list includes: Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton, Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand.

When I give 4 stars, it means it was a great book that I think everyone should read. I had a lot of those, including: Run by Ann Patchett, The Emigrants by Wilhelm Moberg, The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, Testimony by Anita Shreve, Unto a Good Land by Wilhelm Moberg, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, December by Elizabeth Winthrop, How Americans View Mormons by Gary Lawrence, My Abandonment by Peter Rock, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, The Settler by Wilhelm Moberg, People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J K Rowling, The Last Letter Home by Wilhelm Moberg, The Letters of Abelard and Heloise, In the Woods by Tana French, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, The Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama, Conqueror's Pride by Timothy Zahn, The Likeness by Tana French, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Conqueror's Heritage by Timothy Zahn, The Ladies Auxiliary by Tova Mirvis, The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani, Saints at the River by Ron Rash, The Blue Castle by L M Montgomery, Before I Forget by Leonard Pitts, and I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak.

I have read a lot of good books (32) - and a few not worth the time. From the list, you can see that I jump from contemporary to classic, with a few science fiction and young adult books thrown in for good measure. I just love to read!

So part of what I am thankful for this year is that there are so many good books out there; that there are good authors who take the time to write good books; that I have so many friends who guide me to good books; that the internet has allowed us to be able to share good books with a huge audience; and that my life has been touched, sometimes very profoundly, by all this reading.

Thanks to all you bookworms out there!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Recovering Well

It will be two weeks tomorrow since I had my surgery - a hysterectomy. They were able to do it vaginally, so I only spent one day at the hospital. I have had almost no pain and am feeling really good at this point. Since everything is still healing, I am still taking it easy and using it as an excuse to be lazy.

There have been some good things that have come from this.

Obviously, the medical issues have been dealt with, so I should feel better as I heal.

My friend Sarah brought over a big bag of books that she had chosen from her own library so I could keep myself entertained. She knows how much I love to read and I have read 8 so far and am looking forward to finishing a few more in the next week or so. She did a great job of choosing books that I would like. I may need to use her as my bookfinder in the future!

Best of all, my son Billy drove down from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to help take care of mom. He left to go back home yesterday. He was a tremendous help - mostly doing those little errands that you don't usually even think about, like picking up milk and bread, prescriptions, etc. He likes to cook so he also fixed several meals for us while he was here. He doesn't cook a lot of things, but he is very good at what he does. We had salmon a couple of times, as well as a number of other things.

He was also able to spend a lot of time with Lisa, which I really liked. I want so much for my children to be close as adults. He thoroughly enjoyed his niece Ashby. (And I have to ask - who wouldn't? She is just about the best thing that ever happened to the world!) We were able to spend some time just talking, which is always nice. All in all, it was a wonderful time with him here and it is feeling a little lonely now that he is gone. I don't need the help anymore, but I still liked having him here. He is planning on coming again for Christmas, and maybe Thanksgiving, so I am already looking forward to that.

I will probably have one or two more weeks off work. I like my job just fine, but I like being home even more. I have a pile of projects that I had planned to work on, but I don't seem to be making much headway on them. Maybe the next couple of weeks I will have a little more energy so I can do a few of them. Of course, then I will be reading less. What a dilemma!!

I have appreciated the kind thoughts and gestures that my friends have made to let me know that they are thinking of me. I am a pretty lucky woman - loving husband, great children, wonderful granddaughter, many friends. I am blessed abundantly!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What a great week in Charleston!

We had our bi-annual reunion with some old friends in Charleston earlier in October and it was a wonderful way to spend a week! We get together every two years with three other couples that we have known for years. Half of them knew each other while they were still in high school through the church in Atlanta. Some of the guys were college roommates. We were all dating at the same time and were all married the same summer - 1967 - 42 years ago! We have remained friends all these years. Several years ago we got together in Atlanta for a long weekend. We had such a good time that we decided to get together every two years. So far, we have met in Park City, Utah; Seaside, Oregon; and Williamsburg, Virginia. This time is was our turn to plan and we chose Charleston, South Carolina.

Bill and I drove up on Friday afternoon, so we could meet every one at the airport when they came in on Saturday. We had rented a house right on the beach in Isle of Palms. Saturday was arrival day, lunch at Red Lobster, getting unloaded, buying groceries, and generally laughing and catching up.

Sunday we attended church in Mt. Pleasant. After church, we ate at Hidalgo's, a Mexican restaurant, then mostly hung out the rest of the day. There is more to do in Charleston than could possibly get done in a week, so we planned out what things we would do each day so we could hit the highlights.
After church
Monday was "tour Charleston" day. We started with a buggy tour of the city, which was a lot of fun. After lunch at A. W. Shucks (the best BLT ever - made with fried green tomatoes!), we spent a while shopping at the market. We had planned to also do the boat harbor tour, but the weather was getting worse, so we chose to put that off until later. The guys were all so interested in the baseball playoffs, so the girls went out to see a movie - "Love Happens" - and had a great time.

In the carriage before the tour
Eating lunch at A W Shucks

Tuesday was a gorgeous day, so we headed back to Charleston to get the boat tour in. It was one of the tourist highlights of the week, because it was so nice that day. We had lunch at Sticky Fingers (best ribs ever). After walking around some, we drove around the other areas to see everything. We enjoyed driving through the Citadel, as well.
After the boat tour with the beautiful bridge in the background

Wednesday dawned rainy and windy, but we didn't let that stop us. We headed out to Middleton Place plantation, about 45 minutes away in the low country. We toured what they had to see and then had lunch at their restaurant. It was "low country" cooking, which was all good. Most everyone had the peanut soup and loved it. I had the clam chowder and it was wonderful, along with the fried catfish. After lunch, we toured through the gardens which were incredible. They would have been even more beautiful if it hadn't been raining so much!

In the rain
Lunch at the plantation

Thursday we did a day trip down to Savannah, a good two hours away. After making reservations for Lady & Sons restaurant (that's Paula Deen's place), we took a trolley tour of the city. We had the best tour guide and he made it really fun. A little time on River Street was followed by dinner. The food was great there, too - southern style cooking. We had the buffet with fried chicken, ribs and all the southern sides you can imagine. After walking around some in the evening, we got back kind of late. It was a long, but very fun, day.
Gary & Carolyn on River Street

Eating at Paula Deen's restaurant, Lady & Sons:
Gary & Carolyn ---- Jo Anne & Richard ---- Shirley & Bill

Bill & me

Friday was the last day, so we started by going out for a big breakfast. The rest of the day we spent at Patriot's Point where we toured the WWII sub, the aircraft carrier Yorktown, and took a boat trip out to Sumter's Island. It was another rainy day, but it all worked out. Breakfast was our only meal out that day, as we had plenty of leftovers to finish off at home.
Patriot's Point ----------- Shirley and me in the submarine

Boat to Sumter Island --- Bill, Gary, & Bill on the Yorktown -- Shirley & Bill on the flightdeck
Saturday started early, getting all packed up and heading back to the airport. Then Bill and I drove on home and got back about 3:00. It was such a great week, but it went so fast! We are already excited about two years from now. We had all sorts of ideas of where to go and what to do and we are looking forward to seeing what Bill and Shirley come up with, since it is their turn to plan.

Bill & Shirley ----------- Carolyn & Gary ----------- Richard & Jo Anne
We are incredibly grateful for such wonderful, life-long friends.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Another Birthday for Bill

Well, Bill made it through another birthday yesterday. Fortunately, this one was quiet and sensible, unlike his skydiving adventure last year. We were lazy in the morning, baked some cinnamon rolls, etc. He went to visit his sister Joyce for a while and talked to other people on the phone.

Later in the afternoon, Lisa, David and Ashby came over for dinner. Bill had requested homemade tacos, so that is what we had. We took a long time to eat - too much fun stuffing our faces, I guess!

He had requested no gifts, so Lisa and family just brought him a homemade birthday card. Lisa had made the card and then let Ashby use a crayon to color it. It was the first time she actually colored instead of trying to eat the crayons. They took a video of her working on the card and it was hilarious.

I just got him a gadget to use with the grill so the meat gets cooked just right - sort of like a meat thermometer with a remote that tells you when it is perfect. We have had a little problem with meat being slightly overcooked over the years, so this seemed interesting.

The rest of the day was just spent watching football, playing with Ashby, chatting with the kids, and being generally lazy. Turned out to be a good day.

Thank goodness he didn't skydive again. The bad news is that he mentioned that he was thinking it was time to try it again. I am trying to just ignore that comment!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I had a great trip!

I got back from Iowa yesterday. It was a great trip. I flew up on Wednesday, the 26th. The plane to Moline was not very full, so I had a whole row of seats to myself. Sure makes it comfy to travel when you can spread out like that.

I arrived around 11:15, got the car rental taken care of, and called my friend Paula, who lives in Davenport. She came to the airport and I followed her to Bishop's for lunch. She is dealing with her husband having been recently diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer, so it is a very difficult time for her. I wish I was closer so I could offer more help. We had a great talk, though. She and I have been best friends since we were about 5 years old.

I then drove on over to my dad's airport near North Liberty and spent the rest of the afternoon with him. They always have a steak fry and aeroclub board meeting on Wednesday, so I was there for that. Billy came down in the evening, too. After the meeting (about 10 minutes of official business and lots of time telling stories), we (Billy, my dad, and his friend Rita) stopped over to see my brother at his "Garage Mahal." He built a huge garage a few years ago - big enough for three vehicles, plus a big bar, bathroom, big TV, the works. I enjoyed chatting with him and his wife and playing with the dogs. Then Billy and I headed up to his condo in Cedar Rapids. Billy hadn't eaten, so we ran out to Olive Garden so he could get dinner and I had an appetizer.

Thursday we went out to Amana's for breakfast. They do a family style, all-you-can-eat, breakfast with eggs, bacon, sausages, corn pancakes (the best you have ever put in your mouth!), fruit, juice, and whatever else you can imagine. It isn't cheap, but it is definitely worth it! It was a rainy day, so we spent the rest of the day at his condo, just talking. Later we went out for dinner (we didn't need lunch after that breakfast!) and then back for a lazy evening. I tried my hand at the game where you play the guitar, but I was so bad that I got booed off the stage every time.

Friday Lisa flew in to Moline, so we went over there to pick her and Ashby up. Ashby fell asleep almost the minute we got in the car, so we went back to Billy's for a while. Later we headed down to the airport so Ashby could meet her great-grandpa Nelson. We all went out to dinner at Red Lobster. Mighty good!

Saturday we went spent the afternoon at Dad's and then went out to dinner again to a Mexican place in North Liberty. I was impressed that it was so good - actually better than most of the places here in Georgia.

Sunday we were so lazy that we all slept in and didn't even get around to much until afternoon. We took Ashby to the Iowa Children's Museum in Coralville and she had the best time. I thought the cutest was in the little grocery store, where she pushed around the shopping cart which was just her size and looked at all the "food" on the shelves, throwing some in her cart. She went round and round that place for the longest time. She also enjoyed the farm, where she planted and harvested all sorts of vegetables. Most of all, she loved the slide. Needless to say, she was worn out when we finished there, so it was back to Billy's. That night we stopped and picked up some fresh picked sweet corn, bought some Iowa chops and potatoes, and had a great meal in. Iowa sweet corn is about the best, especially when it is that fresh!

Monday we went over to the Amana's again. We had planned to go for breakfast, but we were too slow, so we had lunch and shopped in some of the little shops for a while. Then we headed back over to the airport to see Great-grandpa one more time. That night we got more corn and fixed chicken, rice and sweet corn.

Tuesday we had to get up and take off fairly early so we could get to Moline in time for the 11:45 flight. The flight back was also not crowded. In fact, when we checked in the night before, we picked seats in the back of the plane where it looked pretty empty. Turned out it really was empty. We had the whole back third or more of the plane to ourselves. Lisa and I both sat in aisle seats across from each other and Ashby had two seats to play in. That is great for travel, but it worries me as far as AirTran being able to keep these cheap flights to Moline.

Ashby was so good the whole time. Her Uncle Billy couldn't get over how laid back she was, hardly ever crying or fussing. She is so entertaining that a lot of our time was just spent watching her. How fun!

It was good to see Dad and that he seems to be doing well. I also enjoyed spending some time with Billy. We don't get to see him much since he moved up there. Hopefully, he will be coming down here before the end of the year.

So - trip to Iowa - big success!

(Pictures from Lisa)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Heading to Iowa for a Week!

Well, I think I am just about packed. I am leaving in the morning to fly to Moline so I can spend a week with Billy and Dad. I get back next Tuesday. Lisa is flying up on Friday with Ashby so they can all see her. My dad is anxious to see his great-granddaughter, but doesn't travel anymore. He is 81, in great health, but says it is too much hassle to travel. So we are taking the little munchkin up to him. He is really excited!

I think Billy is excited that we are coming, too. We haven't seen him since December. He called last night and said he was actually cleaning the second bathroom for us. Now that is a big deal!

The Moline airport is about an hour from my dad's and a little more than that to Billy's, but the difference in pricing between Moline and Cedar Rapids is so much that we almost always fly to Moline. Besides the price being as much as 2 or 3 times more, there isn't a direct flight, so it takes all day instead of 2 hours. Besides, we are used to it taking 45 minutes or more to get to the airport in Atlanta anyway, so it doesn't really seem so far.

We don't have any big plans besides visiting and relaxing. We are coming back on the same flight Tuesday, so I can help a little more going home. Lisa is on her own coming up. I haven't been up to Iowa since Dad's 80th birthday party in December 2007 and Lisa hasn't been up since she sang at the airport concert in June of 2007. We are all looking forward to it! It will really be fun to see what Ashby thinks of all those airplanes - the big ones we are flying in and all the little ones at Grandpa's.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Painting with the Young Women

I had a fun time with the young women at church on Wednesday evening. Another sister (who is a real painter) and I (who am a play painter) were asked to help the young women paint pictures of a lighthouse. The goal was two-fold: 1) help them learn a new skill or at least be exposed to a new skill; and 2) to prepare for the Young Women in Excellence program later in the fall. They have talked about lighthouses during the year as it has been sort of a theme for them. You know, letting your light so shine and so on.

I happen to love lighthouses, so I was excited to offer my little experience. The other sister got the boards for them to paint on and she and I just brought all our paints and brushes. The girls were divided into two groups and we each took one. We were all in the gym, though, so we could see what everyone was doing.

After giving a little introduction - I did that since I talk too much anyway and Daina is very quiet - we just let them go. They had a lot of fun. Some of them went right to work and knew what they wanted to do from the beginning. Others required a lot of encouragement to even make a pencil mark on the board. I just kept walking around the table, giving a little hint or help here and there, but mostly encouraging them. I found that I could find something to praise on almost every painting. Some were really good with color, others had a real sense of perspective, others were very stylistic.

When they were all finished and laying out together, the effect was very pleasing. The leaders kept the paintings and they will all be displayed at their program which is a chance for all the young women to share various projects and skills that have worked on during the year. I think all the girls are or should be proud of their paintings. One of the nice things about art is that it only really needs to please you. And, I hope, all the young women were pleased with themselves.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Wonderful Trip to the Columbia SC Temple

I had a great weekend. The Atlanta Temple closed for renovations on June 1st, and I have really missed being able to go and work there once a week. I have been trying to figure out how to get to the Columbia Temple, which is where my area has been assigned during the time Atlanta is closed. I had received a letter from the temple inviting me to consider coming as a worker, as well as other information. I have been trying to figure out details on how to make that happen.

A couple of weeks ago, I just decided that I was just going to go and quit trying to figure so much out. I sent an email to all the Relief Society sisters to let them exactly what my plans were and inviting anyone who wanted to ride along to let me know. Lynn Rajani, a good friend, emailed back and said she really wanted to go if she could work a couple of things out. She did and we went!

I took off from work a little early, filled up with gas, got a sandwich, packed the car, and picked Lynn up. We were on the road about 12:15. It is a 3 1/2 hour drive so we arrived at the temple about 3:30. Lynn had packed a cooler with fruit, salads, turkey meat, cheese, etc., so we ate a bite at the picnic table by the temple. Then I went on in while she took the car and found the motel where we had a reservation, got us checked in, and made some phone calls she needed to make. She is not a worker, so wanted to attend just one session that evening and one the next morning.

I was greeted with such warmth and love, it was wonderful! Temple workers are always special, and the workers in Columbia were even more so. I was set apart as a worker by President Turner, the 2nd counselor in the temple presidency. Then a worker took me on a tour of the temple. That didn't take long, as the temple is very small - smaller than most ward buildings even. It is, however, very beautiful, as you would expect with any temple. I next served as a patron in initiatory so I could see their procedures, and finally went on the 7:00 session so I could see how that worked. That meant I was able to complete all my family file initiatories and a family file endowment. My experience at the veil was overwhelming, probably because it had been so long since I had had the chance to do it.

Lynn had made it back to also attend the 7:00 session, and then we went to the hotel, stopping at Chickfilet on the way so I could a sandwich. We were both tired, so it didn't take us long to get ready for bed and turn the lights out!

I got up early the next morning - 4:45 - so I could shower and get back to the temple, dressed and ready for the 6:00 preparation meeting. Lynn dropped me off and went back to get a few more minutes of sleep before coming back to do her session. There was a good number of workers on the shift and I was impressed that many of them had driven as much as 2 1/2 hours to be there for that 6:00 meeting - and they do this once or twice a month! Sister Boyd, from my stake, was also there as a worker on that shift. Later in the morning I also the Dunfords, who plan to work the afternoon shift.

My first assignment was as a patron in sealings, so I was able to finish all my family file sealings. Then I was the 2nd follower on a session. By the time that finished, the shift was over. It went so quickly! And I enjoyed every minute of it. I knew I had missed being at the temple, but I didn't realize just how much! I look forward to doing this once a month. I am scheduled to work every 2nd week on Friday evening and Saturday morning. Fortunately, they are willing to work with those of us who come so far so we can change the times we come as we need to. I know there are already some conflicts for some of the weekends I am scheduled, but I will just switch to other weekends those months.

When we finished, we left temple, stopped for a good lunch, and then started home. We were home around 5:15. Since we split the hotel and gas, the cost wasn't too bad. Hopefully, someone will be able to go with me each month, more for the company than anything. Even so, I am already looking forward to going again on September 11th, alone or not!

I feel so excited about this opportunity. It will be more of a sacrifice than working in Atlanta, but I can already tell that it will be an experience that I will treasure.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Odds and Ends

Sometimes things go by so fast that I lose track - and so it has been the last few weeks. So I guess this blog will just be a little of this and a little of that!

We had our vacation in St. Augustine and it was fabulous! We had about 25 family members there and it was great. I spend most of my time at the pool, since I don't do the sun. But, I did get down to the beach a few times and even played in the waves some. It was particularly fun having Ashby there for her first beach experience. I would like to report that she is a true "Cantrell" as she loved the beach from the first moment. The worst part of vacation was that it ended. I sure hope we can go for two weeks next year.

Then on the 24th was Ashby's first birthday. Her Grandma Vanett and Granpa Pulsipher both came into town for the big day. It would have been wonderful, except that poor Ashby got sick. Earlier in the week, the doctor said she had strep. Then she broke out in a terrible rash and it was back to the doctor again. This time it was a viral infection, nothing to do with the strep. So, she was down most of the week. By the weekend she was beginning to feel a little better. Anyway, the big party was scaled down considerably. Even so, she made the one year mark.

I have been having fun learning about Facebook. I have quite a few friends now and have reconnected with some people I hadn't heard from in years. That part is really great. I have also had a few of the teenage girls at church add me as a friend and I get a real kick out of their posts! I was sitting by a group of them at church Sunday and in the course of talking, I mentioned Facebook and there was a general shocked reaction - "You are on Facebook?" - like I was too old or something. I told them I was cool. They got a kick out that. I even had one of them add me as a friend today. I guess I really must be cool!!

Billy had a run in with a dog a few weeks ago. He was out riding his bike and a dog ran out of a driveway and attacked him! He managed to get away with only one major bite. He went straight home and called the police, who took a report and pictures, and told him that this was the second report of the same dog biting someone in a week. They were going to impound the dog to make sure it had all its shots, etc. The doctor gave him a tetanus and put him on some anti-biotics since getting an infection is almost guaranteed with a dog bite. We haven't gotten a recent update, so I don't know what has happened.

Bill is teaching seminary again this year and I have been trying to help him get things ready. I told him I would help with the fluff, but he had to provide the substance. We have been working on games, a map, costumes, and a bunch of other little stuff. School starts next Monday, the 10th, and seminary will start on Wednesday, the 12th. Sure seems like a short summer!

Well, that hits the high points of the last few weeks. We will see what the next few bring.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Florida Vacation - Here We Come!

We are busy trying to get everything ready to leave for St. Augustine first thing in the morning. As you can tell, I am taking a break! Actually, I have my suitcase all packed, my beach bag packed with towels, the beach chairs out of the attic. I think I am down to just what I will have to pack after I get ready in the morning.

I still have a few chores to finish around the house - things like watering the plants, etc. Bill is out pulling weeds from the flower beds. He still has to do his packing. Fortunately, for the beach, there isn't much to pack! We will get the car mostly loaded tonight and then can take off whenever we wake up in the morning.

We didn't get to go last year - it was a tough year for the business plus Lisa was about to give birth to Ashby and we didn't want to risk not being here. I guess that is why we are all the more excited this year. We are expecting somewhere around 25 family members to be there. Lisa and David and Ashby are going, of course. This will be the first time they are renting their own condo, instead of sharing with us. Billy isn't able to come down from Iowa, so we will miss him.

Look out, Florida!!! Here we come!!!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A Little Public Affairs Success

We have had a success in our Public Affairs which I really needed. This is a hard calling, because there is so little structure. As Director, I have to keep everyone else motivated to be doing things and it can get discouraging.

But this has been a good one! The full-time missionaries serving in the Lilburn Ward met with my PA Specialist, Donna, assigned to that ward to discuss some ideas they had. They had just completed a service project in the city and had pictures printed in a local paper. They wanted to expand their scope, hoping to find people who would be interested in talking to them. Donna ran the ideas they had by me and I gave my approval to go with it.

After interviewing them some more, she wrote a draft of an article and sent it to me. I approved it and sent it on to my Media Assistant, Nikki, who edited it. We then sent it back to Donna to do the reworking. Donna also sent it to the mission president, President King, who lives in Lilburn Ward, also. His career had been related to public relations, so he was able to make some further edits that were very professional. He also included professional photos of the two missionaries involved.

With the article complete, we submitted it to all of our media contacts in the area. One is an online only paper, the Gwinnett Forum. The editor responded that he thought the article would make him feel like he was promoting a particular church and he was not comfortable printing it. However, he did like the pictures, so he printed them with a short paragraph with information he pulled from the original article. We were happy with that compromise.

Then we got a hit from the Gwinnett Citizen, a monthly paper that is available at various outlets throughout the county. They printed the article in its entirety, both in print and online, including the pictures. It was prominent on their Spiritual Page. We were excited about that success.

Then we discovered that had picked up the article from them. Mormontimes is an online paper, sort of like the Church News, with news about and related to the Church. It is read by a world-wide audience. They did a summary of the article in the Gwinnett Citizen and created a link to it.

What a great success! We figure that for every ten articles we submit, we get a hit on one. And when that hit comes, we are rewarded for all the hours of work we have put into it. I am really pleased with the individuals who worked to put this story together. It really is a matter of teamwork, since we are not professionals. None of us could do it alone.

Thanks to everyone who helped! We will keep working, hoping for our next success to happen sooner, rather than later.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sometimes babysitting is more fun than usual!

I usually spend a few hours with Ashby on Thursdays so Lisa can get a little time away to run errands or whatever she feels like doing. Yesterday, she wanted to come over to the house to finish up a scrapbook that she had been working on. It is hard to do things like that with Ashby, because she wants too much attention. So, they came over and while Lisa worked upstairs on her scrapbook, I played with Ashby.

She is always smiling and happy, so that wasn't new. She has started pulling herself up on everything and walking around things. She has even started letting go and just balancing. She is also very curious and wants to see and touch (and taste!) everything in sight. She had more fun crawling all over the place, exploring and pulling herself up to see more. We also played with the Legos and the doll and the ball.

By the time Lisa finished, it was time for a nap. We decided to try to get her to nap here so Lisa could run a few errands. We thought she was down and Lisa left, but when I walked back in the house, Ashby was crying again. She was so tired, but it just wasn't her bed! I picked her up and she just cuddled on my shoulder, so I just held her. She is always so energetic that she doesn't usually slow down enough to cuddle. As it was almost time for her to eat anyway, I went ahead and gave her a bottle. When she finished, she just lay there looking up at me and smiling and making funny faces. Too cute! Finally, she ate her solids, and then I put her down again. This time she was tired enough that she went on to sleep.

Just an hour later, she woke up and was crying, so I went in to get her. It was obvious that she was not anywhere near rested yet, so I held her and she put her head back on my shoulder and promptly fell asleep. I figured there was nothing I could do but sit in the recliner with her sleeping on my shoulder. Which is exactly what we did. I even rested with her cuddled up like a little bunny on my shoulder.

It was probably another 40 minutes when Lisa returned and Ashby woke up. By then, she was rested and laughing and ready to play again. What a delightful way to spend an afternoon! I repeat - I have lived my whole life for this moment!!!!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Atlanta Temple is Closing

I have been working (volunteering) at the Atlanta Temple for one day a week since 2000. It is something I really enjoy. Even when I went back to work part time, I made arrangements to leave early on the day I was at the temple so I wouldn't have to give it up.

Last year, we first heard that the temple was going to get some renovations. It is 26 years old and there are things that need to be replaced or redesigned. So all last summer, we waited to hear what was going to be done, how long it would take, when it would be done, etc. Later in the year, the word was that there would be a complete renovation which would mean the temple would need to be closed. In the late spring, we finally heard exactly what was going to happen.

July 1st the temple will close for complete renovation and will be closed for 15 - 18 months! Now that we are into June, the reality of the temple closing is fast approaching. I am finding myself feeling sad and worried. I will really miss the day at the temple each week. It has been like a spiritual boost that helps get me through the rest of the week. I will miss the people who work when I do. Most of them live far enough away that I never see them except at the temple, but they have become important to me. I will miss being in a place where there is only a feeling of love and caring, with the cares of the world left outside. I do hope the next year and a half go quickly!

On the plus side, because the renovation is so extensive, we will have an openhouse for the public and a rededication when it is complete. I am already thinking about friends that I would like to invite to come and see the temple. We were at the original dedication of the Atlanta Temple in 1983 and it will be exciting to be part of the rededication. We took our children to the openhouse before the dedication and Lisa, although only 7 at the time, still remembers it.

My stake has been temporarily assigned to go the Columbia, South Carolina, temple. That will be about a 3 1/2 hour trip, one way. We won't be able to drop by after work! On the other hand, since it will require planning, perhaps we will be more appreciative of the opportunity when we do get to go. Sometimes when things are too easy, we fail to appreciate their value.

I am still trying to decide how I will fill my extra day each week. I am thinking that I will be able to get back into the genealogy research, which I have had to cut back on since I started working again. That would be a blessing I would enjoy!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I Love Being a Grandmother!

Yesterday, Lisa and Ashby took me out for lunch. It was a belated Mother's Day outing. We decided it is the first of "lunch with the girls" outings. Ashby was as cute as she could be, sitting in the high chair and chattering along like she was part of the conversation. She had us laughing most of the time.

After lunch, Lisa wanted to run some errands and go to the gym, so I babysat Ashby for the rest of the afternoon. She was so tired from our outing that she started with a nap. Fortunately, she didn't sleep long. So Grandma got to feed her (sweet potatoes, pears, and peach yogurt, plus the bottle) and then we played. She is crawling all over the place now and heads straight for something so she can try to pull herself up. She can get to her knees, and balance there, and then she tries to put a foot up and everything falls apart. But, she doesn't give up!

She spent a little time in her jumpster while watching a Baby Einstein video. She practically launches herself in that jumpster. What a hoot to watch her! We also read some books, listened to some music, and generally had a great time.

I enjoy these weekly babysitting opportunities. It gives Lisa a chance to get out a little, but I am really being selfish - I want time alone with Ashby! I so love being a Grandma!!!!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Now I have a Facebook page

Boy, am I getting so into the 21st century! I have set up a page on Facebook. The problem is that I have no clue what I am supposed to do with it. Right off the bat, it looked for the people in my email address book to see if they were on Facebook, too. But, I figured I know those people and I wasn't really interested that much, so I just ignored it. The people I am interested in I talk to you in person, you know?

I did put in the high school I attended and then did a search for the year I graduated. There was not one single soul there! I know it was a small class, but I can't believe I am the first one to join Facebook. Maybe the rest just didn't put in what high school they attended. So then I decided to check the class years before and after mine, since the school was so small and everyone knew everyone. I did find a few people, but only one I was really interested in talking to. I contacted him, Ron Tope, since our families had been super close when we were growing up and we were kind of like cousins. He responded so I then had one friend.

I finally mentioned to Lisa what I had done and she made me her friend, so that gave me connections to lots of family members. I am now up to about six or seven friends. Of course, they are all family (except Ron), but it is still cool.

I still haven't figured out what I am supposed to do, but it is fun to check it every so often and see if any of my friends have posted anything. Actually, it is also very interesting to check out their pages, especially to see the pictures they have posted.

I did put up a picture of Bill, Lisa, Billy and I that was taken at Christmas a few years ago. And, of course, I put up some of Ashby. Other than that, there isn't much on my page. Maybe I need to find more pictures.

I am not sure this is going to go anywhere, but at least now I can say "my Facebook page" and sound like I am really with it. By the way, I even signed up for an account on, but I really have no clue what to do with that. I did it because of the Day of Service and being instructed about twittering. But, I don't think I really even want to twitter!

I guess I can pretend to be with it, but the truth is I am just an old grandma. So be it!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Day of Service - Big Success, But Glad It's Over - Or Is It?

For the last few months, much of my time has been filled with making preparations for the Day of Service that was scheduled for April 25th. Now that it has come and gone, I am glad to report that it was a huge success. In Lilburn Stake, we had nine different projects and all turned out better than planned. We had almost 800 members and over 125 non-members who worked together to provide the service.

Projects ranged from cleaning up county parks to doing yard work for seniors and disabled citizens, to landscaping and painting at non-profit organizations to putting together food boxes to stenciling environmental warnings on storm drains in neighborhoods. In every case, the members are looking forward to doing it again. Likewise, in every case, the people and organizations who received the service were thrilled.

Public Affairs did a special project for the Lawrenceville Housing Authority. They provide 212 apartments for the disabled and those down on their luck. One of their requirements is that the residents provide eight hours of community service each month, if they are able. We had quite a few of the residents show up to help us, as well as the director of the housing authority. In addition, we called on some of the young singles and the members of the Conyers Ward and the Yellow River Branch to help, especially by providing trucks so the boxes could be moved when we were finished. We had a total of 50 members and 30 non-members help us.

Briane Adams, my Community Affairs Assistant, had requested Humanitarian Funds from the church to pay for the food, which was granted. It was a much larger request than is normally given, but I guess they were impressed with the philosophy of the authority about allowing the recipients to provide service in exchange for the help. It certainly does help build the self-esteem of the individuals. There were several helpers who would obviously have a hard time holding a full-time job, but they were so excited to help and they worked so hard. They felt so good about what they had done.

Briane had set up two assembly lines to fill the boxes. The filled boxes were then loaded on the trucks and delivered to the various apartments. Then everyone came back to the church for a chili dog lunch. The young singles provided the dessert and they came with strawberry shortcake and brownies and ice cream. I think I will ask them to provide dessert at some future time - it was really good!

My home ward, Dacula, did projects at two local non-profits. They did some landscaping and flowers for the United Cerebral Palsy organization. Creative Enterprises, Inc., is a much larger facility that provides help for adult disabled. They do all sorts of activities, including making jewelry, artwork, plant nursery, and an animal shelter (cats only, right now). We did painting, landscaping, building stones for flower beds, replacing some ceiling drywall, etc., at several of their buildings. Leigh, the director, couldn't believe how hard everyone worked. She had been hesitant when we approached her, because last fall a group had come and things were worse when they left than before they came. This time was different and she was so excited.

The week after the day of service turned out to be even busier. I was responsible for getting back reports on each project, including the numbers who worked and who they partnered with, etc. Every time I turned around, I had another request from the Area Public Affairs for more information. We were also trying to get together some news articles to submit about the event. The Area PA reports to Elder Gonzalez on Tuesday of this week, so hopefully they are finished asking me for things. We have one article ready to submit and are still working on another. To make things even more difficult, my Media Assistant works for the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and she is working overtime with this flu crisis, since they are working 24 hours a day right now.

All in all, though, I am glad that things went so well. I think they will probably make this an annual event and may even have it a national event rather than just the southeast.

Some of the comments from the members point out how important these kinds of things are. In one case, a young man who had not attended church in a very long time, came out to help and has been back to church both weeks since then. We all have a need to help others and this obviously filled a need that he had felt. Others commented that working with other members in this kind of a project allows you to get to know each other in different ways than just being together on Sunday. In every case, the friendships became stronger. Some of the teenage girls were overheard in the bathroom the next day talking about how fun it was and that they couldn't wait until we did it again. That's the best endorsement ever! One group finished their project at the home of a senior citizen, but they weren't ready to quit, so they went to the home of a member of the ward who needed help and continued to work.

We also made new friends in the community. The Community of Christ joined with us, as well as a number of county departments and the non-profit organizations. We also had city proclamations issued by the mayors of Dacula, Lilburn, and Lawrenceville, as well as the Gwinnett County Commission Chairman. I was able to attend each of those council meetings.

Huge success - but glad it is over! Maybe next year we will be better organized earlier. I do hope there will be a "next year." I know that some of the wards will do something on their own if nothing is planned on the area level. It was too good not to do again.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Good friends are the best!!!

I have some great friends and all are important to me. However, there are three that fit into a special category. When we all started BYU in 1965, we were put together at random as roommates in Heritage Halls. We became the best of friends. Over the years, we kept in touch, sometimes off and on, but at least there was still a connection.

Well, a few years ago, we decided it was time for a reunion. So the four of us met in Las Vegas, where Margaret Ann lives. (We call her MA.) Even though we had not all been together in 40 years, it was like yesterday. We had so much fun, it was almost ridiculous. Who would have believed that four "mature" women could act so childish - and love every minute of it!

Rosi, MA, Connie, Joyce
Las Vegas 2005
In fact, we had such a good time, that we did it again in Utah, where Joyce lives. (We call her Joyous.) After a day in SLC and Provo, we spent the rest of our week at Joyce's cabin. You have never seen ridiculous until you see these four even more "mature" women riding on four-wheelers all over the mountains!

Connie and MA
Utah 2006
So, since that wasn't enough, we got together last spring in Piru, California, where Connie lives. (We call her Connetra.) Again, we had more fun than most people get in a lifetime! We left behind gnomes, which we each painted, around the tree we adopted and named "Roomie-toid," which just about says it all. Joyce added a wind chime, so poor Connie can never get away from us now!

Joyce, Rosi, MA, Connie
California 2008

Joyce and her husband John are now on a mission in Russia and we anxiously await the weekly email telling us what they are doing. When they get home in 18 months, the roomies plan another reunion, this time in Atlanta. I am already planning what we are going to be doing - besides the silliness, of course.

So tonight I answered my phone, not expecting anything special and this voice says, "Hi, Rosi, this is MA." After I pulled myself out of shock, we chatted for a while. How wonderful to have friends who just think about you and then decide to call, just to say hi.

Thanks to all three of you for being the best friends ever - and for making it last a whole lifetime! Love you all.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Senior Moments

I keep having these strange "senior moments" where I forgot what I am doing or lose something and can't find it. It is a little disturbing, to say the least! But, Bill makes me feel better when he has them, too. His are usually more interesting that mine, though.

For instance, we were invited to a wedding for the daughter of our next door neighbor. When the invitation arrived a few weeks ago, Bill thought we should really make an effort to attend. I am not very social, but I agreed it would be good. So, Bill wrote the date and time in his schedule book, so he wouldn't forget.

Last week he was working out of town and when he called, he reminded me that the wedding was Friday night and that he was making every effort to get back in time for us to make it. He made it back and we hustled to get ready. It was supposed to be at 7:00 at a Baptist Church on Ponce de Leon Ave in Atlanta. I was copping a bit of an attitude about having to go, but we got ready and went out to the car. As we were getting in the car, Bill says, "That's strange. Chuck's car is in the driveway." He then asked if I had checked the announcement to be sure it was that night. I replied that I didn't even know where he had put the thing. He went in the house to find it and double check. In a minute he came back, with a very sheepish grin on his face.

The wedding was not Friday night, but Saturday! He had written it in his schedule book correctly, but had just decided it was Friday and there we were, sitting in the driveway, ready to go to a wedding that was 24 hours away! Needless to say, we both felt like fools. I can only say that it is really good that he went to check on it. If we had driven the 45 minutes to the church, only to have nothing happening, I might have gone ballistic!!

So we have all had a good laugh at Bill's expense this week.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Spring Weather in Georgia

Weather this time of year is so unpredictable in Georgia. Last Sunday, we had our first snowfall of the year. We ended up with about 4 inches of snow. About 20 miles to the east, Athens had 8 inches. About that far to the west, there was only a dusting. Because it had been so warm, most of the snow melted, so it actually snowed quite a lot to get 4 inches accumulation.

By Monday morning, the wet places were iced, but for the most part the roads were clear. Of course, they cancelled school. If there is even the possibility of an ice patch anywhere in the county, they close the schools. Actually, it probably isn't such a bad idea since most of these bus drivers don't know the first thing about driving on ice. I think it is an interesting fact here in Georgia that there are so many accidents whenever it snows. All the people from up north are saying that the southerners don't know how to drive in snow and that is what causes all the accidents. The truth of the matter is that the only people out driving are northerners. Any true southerner would never leave the house in bad weather. Anyway, I think the real reason they closed the schools was that they had a "snow day" scheduled for next Friday and this way they got to use it.

Now it is Saturday, and the temperature will be in the 70's. The daffodils have been out for a few weeks, the bartlett pear trees popped out enmasse yesterday, as well as a few other early bloomers. Bill is hoping to do some yard work today. First priority is to get the mower fixed, so he can cut the grass. Well, actually, he will cut the weeds. We have Bermuda grass which is the last thing to turn green. I have never been able to figure out why we don't have year-round green grass. I guess it is because the summer gets too hot and most of those kinds of grasses can't survive the heat.

Anyway, spring is definitely coming. March is always interesting - snow, sun, tornadoes, rain, and everything starting to bloom! I do love spring in the south!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Another Ashby Sleep-over

We had another chance to keep Ashby for the night this past weekend. It was David's birthday and Lisa had planned a surprise on Friday night. She picked him up at work, and they stayed at the Hilton Suites near Perimeter Mall. She had gotten a great deal, since most of their business is commercial and they sell the rooms cheap on the weekends. They also ate at Maggiano's, which is their favorite restaurant.

So that meant Grandma got to take care of the baby! She is getting so big, almost 7 months old, and is so much fun. Bill was working out of town so didn't get home until after she had gone to sleep for the night. That meant I didn't even have to share her! We ate sweet potatoes, played with toys, jumped in the jumpster, watched Baby Einstein, read books, got lots of tickles, and just laughed ourselves crazy.

She had a little trouble getting to sleep since she was not at home and she finally figured out that Mommy wasn't coming back. But she was asleep by 9:45 and we didn't hear another sound until 8:00 the next morning.

Unfortunately, she had to leave in the early afternoon when Mommy and Daddy returned. She was so excited to see them.

They were back over on Sunday to celebrate his actual birthday (the 22nd). We had a home-made taco dinner and some Bruster's ice cream cake. Ashby sat in the old high chair at the table with us and chewed on her first bagel.

I have decided that I have lived my whole life for this moment!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

First Sign of Spring

We have been having some gorgeous weather - even for Georgia! It seems that the daffodils are thinking spring has arrived as well. They have been up through the ground for a couple of weeks and yesterday the first blossom popped out.

Of course, we haven't been out working in the yard because we have been busy with so many other things. So, we should have expected that the very same day, the first dandelion blossom would appear, right next to the daffodil.

Even so, we will take spring in all its forms!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Meeting with the Mayor

One of the fun parts of my calling in public affairs is getting to meet with some of the elected officials in the stake. I had that opportunity again today. Dacula is a small town of perhaps 4000 people. We live in the county just outside of Dacula and our ward is named the Dacula Ward.

Elder Gonzalez, of the Presidency of the Seventy, is over the North America Southeast Area of the church. He has put into motion a major day of service for all the states in the area (that is 10 states and about 94 stakes) to be held on April 25th. It is a priesthood event, supported by public affairs.

Anyway, in our stake, each unit is planning its own event. We are rather spread out and the bishops wanted to keep the service in their local areas. So today I accompanied the PA Specialist from Dacula Ward in meeting with the mayor about what service we could do for Dacula. It was a great meeting. He knew why we were coming so had done a little research and suggested several potential projects.

He seemed as excited as we were as we discussed potential ideas. We indicated that we wanted this to be a community event and to be able to partner with other churches or organizations. Mayor Wilbanks is a member of the Hebron Baptist Church and said he would like to talk to them about partnering with us. What is significant about that is that in the south, the Baptists do not particularly like the Mormons. In fact, Hebron, like many Baptist churches, has classes about the Mormons and how to avoid getting taken in by the missionaries.

We have had some interesting experiences. Like the time one of our members offered the use of the gym at the church for a youth basketball program, as they were struggling to find places to practice. Her offer was refused on the spot, because they would not let their children enter the building of a non-Christian sect. Another Baptist church, disinvited one of our ward choirs from participating in a community choir festival at Christmas, because they would not allow Mormons into their church where the performance was to be held.

I do not expect that Hebron will accept the offer, but it is good to know that it never occurred to the mayor that there would be a problem. This mayor is really a good old Southern boy - still goes by the name of Jimmy and has the real accent and everything. He grew up in Dacula, back in the days when what is now the center of town was his family's farm.

It turned out to be a nice visit and Emily and I are both excited.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Weekend in Charleston

Bill and I enjoyed a nice get-away weekend in Charleston, South Carolina, this past weekend. We were looking forward to a little time away and we also had an ulterior motive. We wanted to look for housing for a get-together with some friends this fall.

On Friday, we took off mid-morning. It is about a 5 1/2 or 6 hour drive from Atlanta, so we could take our time and enjoy the trip and still get there before dark. We stayed at a hotel in Mt. Pleasant, which is just across the bridge from Charleston. The bridge itself is worth a trip to see! It is what we call a "pretty bridge," because of the suspension cables that make the most beautiful silouette. There is a similar bridge in Jacksonville, FL.

Saturday and Sunday we just rode around, talking to real estate people and looking at possible places to stay. We wanted to get a feel for the area so we could decide what was the best area for a vacation week. We finally decided on Isle of Palms. Our favorite house is right on the beach and is beautiful. Hopefully, we will be able to work it out to get that one. Even so, we now know what we want and have a couple of good agents that can help us if we need it.

Other than that, we didn't do much. We enjoyed eating out, which we don't do too often, and relaxing in the hotel room was nice, too. We watched the SuperBowl - or Bill watched and I read.

Monday we headed back home, getting in by mid-afternoon. We didn't do any sightseeing, other than driving around to see what was there. But, we did pick up a ton of brochures to study between now and October. I loved our drive through downtown Charleston on Sunday afternoon. It is so cozy and historical. We are so excited to get the chance to visit the places we saw.

So - come October - look out Charleston, here we come!!!!

Monday, January 26, 2009

So What??? Am I Getting Old???

Ok, so I had my 62nd birthday in January. Doesn't seem like that big a deal, but I think my brain has forgotten to come along for the ride! I have started to do posts several times, got distracted, and then completely forgot to go back and finish! It probably isn't really that big a deal since my life is pretty boring in the retelling of it, but even so -- don't you think I could remember to finish what I started? Well, let's see what happens this time.................

In December, we were excited for Billy to come down from Iowa and spend a weekend here. His primary purpose was to get a chance to see Ashby, so he spent quite a bit of time over with Lisa and David and Ashby. The two of them seemed to get along quite well. She even let him hold her, which she doesn't always do. On Saturday, every one came over to our house and we put up the Christmas tree. It had been a long time since Billy had been around for the tree trimming and we had a lot of fun. Here is a picture of Ashby watching Billy get the strings of lights ready. She seems quite interested in what he is doing!

We had all agreed that we wouldn't do presents this year since none of them would be home for Christmas, but Lisa couldn't resist just one gift for her brother. Yes, that is the famous "leg lamp" from The Christmas Story - a minature version. She said everyone bachelor needed one!

Lisa, David and Ashby went to Colorado for Christmas, so we had our Christmas with them the Sunday before. As you can see, Ashby may not understand what Christmas is all about, but she still likes the presents - or at least the colorful paper.
Christmas Eve was the traditional get-together with Bill's family, which always includes homemade tacos, gift exchange and a gag gift exchange which seems to get sillier every year. Christmas Day was very quiet, as we didn't have any children getting us up early. We slept in and had a lazy day. Well, let me rephrase that - I slept in while Bill went out at 6 am to play Santa for a family we know. This is his second year as Santa Claus. I got up long enough to take the picture. Later in the day, we went to the movies and had popcorn for our Christmas dinner. It was actually a pretty nice day - although it would have been better with the kids. Maybe next year.
I would write about New Year's Eve, but there isn't much to say. We did a toast with sparkling grape juice about 9:00 in case we were sleeping at midnight. I woke up about ten minutes before, went out to check on Bill, sleeping in the recliner. When I changed the channel to watch the ball drop, he woke up. So we watched the ball, said "Happy New Year", kissed, and went back to bed. 2009 made it in without our partying!
So that was our holiday. It doesn't sound like much in retelling it, but the truth is, it was very nice. We enjoyed hearing from lots of friends, even though we didn't get any cards sent out. We had some great moments with family. Most important, we were able to spend some time with our children and families, even if it wasn't on Christmas Day. We can count our many blessings and we know that we are lucky!