Sunday, January 29, 2017

Look! There's His Butt!

I think I picked a winner of a title for this blog post!!  Especially since either my sister or I . . .or possibly both said words very similar as we started walking through the parking lot.  We may have even used the word "heinie"!!

My sister was in town for a week and I get off early on Fridays . . .and the sun was shining . . so we decided to do something outside.  Vulcan has been an iconic part of Birmingham for a long time but I haven't been in years and years - maybe since I was in the church youth group!!  You can read all about the history of Vulcan here.

It was truly a gorgeous day.  These are the ONLY pics we took during her whole trip!!

It was so windy up on top of the hill.

We took pictures of the view of the city.  I live in a pretty city!!

The weirdest thing happened to both of us.  When we were standing below the big guy and would look up, we had to hold onto the hand rail.  It was as if Vulcan would shift in the wind (not!) but it was enough to make you feel as if you were going to fall.  We couldn't decide if it was because the clouds were moving so quickly or if there is some other phenomenon at work!

We took the glass elevator up to the observation deck and Becky had to ride with her eyes closed while I laughed all the way to the top!  I have dragged her into quite a few of these type of situations in our lifetime . . .from roller coasters to Vulcan!  When we got to the observation deck, she hugged the wall while I was hanging close to the edge.  I actually snapped this photo to text to her son!!

Just another snap of the view.

One more view of the big man!

It is really crazy to live in a place with several nice "sight seeing" spots and to never go to them!  I need to make a visit to our zoo and to the Botanical Gardens soon!  Maybe I can take Emma to the zoo soon!!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Gran & Pops & Emma

A couple of weekends ago, our son and his lovely bride celebrated their 6th wedding anniversary with dinner at a "date worthy" restaurant and a night at a local hotel (her brother gives them that wonderful gift every year for Christmas - a night at the hotel where they spent their first night as a married couple!  Clever gift!!).

We were given the pleasure of keeping Miss E overnight and we had so much fun!  The last time we kept her back in November, we were both sick and she had a cold and an ear infection . . .we loved having her but we felt O.L.D.   We were all well for this visit and it made a world of difference!!

Within 30 minutes of her daddy dropping her off, she had to have a wardrobe change due to one of those things that babies do!  Someone (maybe Ann Damsgard?? or Donna Roose???) gave us this cute onesie when she was born.  On the front are the words "all smiles at grandma's" -- this was the first opportunity she has had to wear it!!  She is almost always all smiles all the time!!

When she comes over, I usually drag out some plastic bowls for her to use - she loves playing with them.  She likes to put everything in the bowl and then dump it out.

Later in the evening, we had another (different) kind of wardrobe change due to another one of those things that babies do (do)!  Gran and Pops decided that this one required a quick bath in the kitchen sink.  Since Gran and Pops had no bath toys, plastic measuring cups worked just fine.

We have this great loft area upstairs and we spent time and thought and money decorating it and we haven't used it much until lately!  Downstairs is all hardwood and hard on Emma's knees so when she is here, we've been spending time in the loft on the soft carpet!  I've also been going up there everyday because we moved my recumbent stationary bike up there so the room is finally getting some use!!

I love the way the light is coming in through the shutters around her.  She puts everything in her mouth - every single thing!  How does it taste??

She slept through the night - this baby has slept through the night since she was about two weeks old - she really is a good baby!  On Saturday morning, Pops decided to take her for a stroll around the neighborhood because she refuses to nap if there are things going on in the house that she might miss.  Of course, Gran being the silly Gran that I am, had to document the walk with some pictures!

I think she was trying to help pops buckle her into the seat!!

Mark said that she was asleep within minutes!  After their walk, he woke her because he didn't want to miss a minute of time with her.  She was still pleasant!!

We look forward to many overnight stays with Gran and Pops!  We sure are crazy about this little girl!!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Friday Foggy Brain

I don't know if I'm fighting off a cold . . .or if something weird is wrong with me but I have the foggiest brain today (no jokes about my normally foggy brain).  I feel like the top third of my head is in la la land!  So I figured that I would just have a Friday Foggy Brain post! 

I have some fun pictures of our weekend with Emma and a few pictures from Becky's visit and maybe I'll sit down and post those sometime this weekend.  But today . . .I'm showing you the weirdly random pictures on my phone!

Mark wanted a metal fish skeleton . . .maybe something like this??  (who knows??)

A week or so ago, he couldn't stand to just sit around the house so we loaded up and went down to one of our favorite haunts -- Frontera.  We go there and wander around and buy things!  Since Mark is not a shopper it is a rare thing to find a place he enjoys "shopping"!!  We couldn't find anything like he wanted but I found the fish below.  They are metal fish on a stringer and he loves them! The purchase was even sweeter because everything in the store was on sale. See my little table? It was my late birthday present from our son, Glenn.  I wanted a primitive table and he made one just the right size.

I tried to zoom in for more detail but it was dark outside so you can't see much detail on the fish.  Mark also hung two giant lures from a previous trip.

Now this is a really random picture.  First, I need to tell you that Brian DID NOT ask me to do this nor did he know that I was doing it until he wore the robe.  We use a local dry cleaner for the preacher's robes and sometimes I ask them to do repair work on the robes.  Brian has a hook and eye at the neck of his robe and he asked me to get it repaired.  It takes me 10 minutes to drive to the dry cleaners; then it would take them a couple of days; 10 minutes to drive back to cleaners and probably a $10 charge.  Fridays are sometimes slow in the office (skeleton crew) so last Friday I brought my kitchen baggie of needles and thread to repair the hook and eye.  When I brought his robe down to my office, I realized that the whole lining was almost all the way unattached to the robe.  I sewed it up (not the prettiest stitches!) and then made Peggy try it on so that I could make sure it was hanging correctly.  Bet you didn't know that things like this went on in the church office????

Look at this random pic!  Our refrigerator was in desperate need of a good cleaning so last Saturday morning, it was pouring rain and I worked for an hour and a half on the fridge.  I took everything out and washed all the shelves.  I threw out anything that had expired.  I was quite proud of myself!!

This picture is worth a few chuckles.  I was working up in the craft room last Sunday afternoon and my hair was hanging in my face and it was driving me nuts.  The only thing I had upstairs was a clothespin so I pulled my hair back with it and promptly forgot all about it.  I went downstairs when I was finished and Mark didn't say a word about the fact that a clothespin was in my hair (I guess that shows that nothing I do surprises him!).  I walked into our bathroom and glanced in the mirror and died laughing . . .and snapped a picture!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Salt, Sand, and for granted! Wednesday HodgePodge

Join up with Joyce over at From This Side of the Pond and answer her questions on this week's Wednesday HodgePodge.

1. "The cure for anything is salt water-tears, sweat, or the sea." (Isak Dinesan) Would you agree? Of the three, which has 'cured' you most recently? 

I love that thought of salt water curing everything!  I rarely cry . . .not sure why.  I think my tears dried up when my parents died – I became hard and stoic!  I did “mist” (my version of crying) during This is Us last week!!  I also ugly cried back during September at the beach when I was reading a book!  I’ve been riding my recumbent stationary bike lately and I’ve done a bit of sweating!!  My favorite would be the salt water of the sea – I love the smell, I love the air, I love the feeling of washing away all my sins on the waves.

2. What's something you can't eat without salt? Do you normally salt your food a lot, a little, or not at all? 
I LOVE salt.  Tomatoes NEED SALT!  Guacamole needs salt!!  I don’t eat a lot of eggs but eggs need salt!!  I have a tendency to salt first and then taste.

3. Sands of time, bury your head in the sand, built on sand, or draw a line in the sand...which sandy phrase could best be applied to something in your life right now?

The sands of time are sliding through the hourglass – I can’t believe our baby girl (grandbaby) is 10 months old.  Her first birthday is quickly approaching.  How could that be?? 

4. A favorite book, movie, or song with an island setting or theme?

Not sure if this is what you are going for or not . . .I love two books by Andy Andrews – The Heart Mender (I read it when it was originally published under the name  Island of Saints) and The Noticer – both are set along the gulf coast.  I also love some great beach music!!

5. Yesterday-did you run your day or did it run you? How so?

I think yesterday was a little of both.  I have meetings on Tuesday and those times are set so that part of my day is set in stone.  There were other parts of the day where I felt like I was “in charge.”  We had an awesome young professional group at our house last night and talked about relationships – healthy and unhealthy.  The discussion was engaging and the material Nathan (preacher-presenter) used was on point.  I wasn't in charge but I didn't feel like I was being mowed over -- I was "going with the flow" as the old expression says!

6. You're on an island holiday. Will I most likely find you parked in a beach chair, shopping in town, on the back of a jet ski, or snorkeling off the back of a catamaran?

You will find me in a beach chair with a book in my hand!!  I hate snorkeling - I want to like it but when I put that mask on my face, I panic!!  I have been on a big catamaran in Hawaii and a small catamaran in the gulf of Mexico - both were fun!

7. What do you think we humans most take for granted?

I’ve been writing in a journal for quite some time and I’ve been making myself think about the things for which I am grateful.  We take clean sheets for granted . . .fresh fruit in the middle of winter . . .good conversation . . .We oftentimes take the ability to think and reason for granted . . .we take other people for granted – we just assume that they are going to always be there.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Everyone has things they deal with – some more than others.  I know that I live a great life but lately my insecurities have been rearing their ugly head!  I feel like I’ve been playing Whack-A-Mole

by stamping them down as quickly as they arise . . .probably need to deal with them in a better way.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, Too Wednesday HodgePodge

Link up with Joyce and answer her Wednesday Hodgepodge Questions!

1. ASAP typically stands for 'as soon as possible'. What else could it stand for in your life right now? 
ASAP – as soon as possible fits this week – actually it fits most of the time.  I have to remind myself often to move from the urgent to the important.  I was just reading Joyce’s blog to get today’s questions and I’m one of the bad girls who tends to post a day late on Wednesday’s HodgePodge (so sorry!!). I guess I need to get today's HodgePodge whipped out ASAP.  Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays are all really hard days and I sometimes can’t slow down until Thursday morning to write.  (once again, I’m so sorry and will try to do better!!)  Another ASAP would be Always Say a Prayer . . .I need that one all of the time!

2. Are you the last person to speak up in a group or the first to have an idea? Why do you suppose that is? Is it a good thing or no?
I used to be the first person to speak up but then I began facilitating a small group . . .and I learned that silence is often golden.  If those of us who like to speak first would just SHUT UP, someone else might speak and say something truly profound.  

3. What do you remember best about being 12? 
Would I have been in the sixth grade?  If so, that was the year of integration.  I remember hurting for the new girls in our class and thinking how frightened they must be as they were removed from their comfort zone (didn’t know that terminology back then!) and plopped right into a totally different environment. 

I also remember going to the skating rink (roller skating) with our church and hearing the song This Magic Moment!  That is a totally random memory that just popped into my head!!

4. January 18th is National Winnie the Pooh Day. Which character do you relate to the most, and why? If you're stumped go here for inspiration. 
I took the quiz here and I’m Tigger!  Their blurb about Tigger is “You are constantly bright, upbeat, and full of energy and you don’t hesitate to spread your sunny attitude around.”  Just FYI, I’m not very “full of energy” today!!  Even a picture of Tigger makes me smile!!

5. What's an app you use that helps simplify or make life easier for you in some way? 
I love my Amazon app and I love my Shelby Next (work) app!

6. San Francisco (CA), San Diego (CA), San Juan (PR) San Antonio (TX) Sanibel (FL) have an all expenses paid long weekend to one of these destinations. Which one do you choose and why?
Please send me to Sanibel in Florida . . .a few days on the beach would be lovely.  I’ve been to San Antonio and I’ve been to San Juan . . .and California is so far away that long travel time would take away too much of the weekend.  I would LOVE to go to California . . .but would need longer than a weekend!!

7. Share with us a song that makes you feel nostalgic? For what? 
I’ve been wracking my brain trying to come up with a song.  I mentioned This Magic Moment earlier and that song takes me waaaaay back.  At the funeral last week, they played How Great Thou Art by Tennessee Ernie Ford and I thought about when I was a little bitty kid and how my parents would play records (an example would be hymns by Tennessee Ernie Ford!).  That memory drew me deeper into thought and I remembered 16 Tons by Tennessee Ernie Ford playing on that same stereo!  I was born in 1958 and that song came out several years before I was born so I must have been really young.  All of those memories made me remember one more . . .I can remember sitting in my daddy’s lap.  I think I might have been sick and I remember sitting by our big old heater . . .it was bigger than this but seems like it looked sort of like this.

I remember sitting by that heater and I remember him singing a song to me.  I’ve used Google a lot for this answer for a picture of the heater and for the names/artists of these songs!!  Ricky Nelson used to sing a song, Get Along Home, Cindy.  I remember my daddy singing that song to me.  Thinking about my daddy makes me wish that I had known my parents as an adult.  My mom died when I was 15 and my dad died when I was 25.  Interesting how thinking about one song led to another and another until I truly feel nostalgic!!

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
The young professional group that meets in our home on Tuesday nights is doing a four week study – Adulting 101 led by one of our ministers, Nathan Carden.  We’ve just finished two weeks talking about money – budgets, saving, investing.  Most of these young professionals are so amazing!  They know they need to be budgeting and saving and are eager to learn.  I wish that I had been in a group like this to learn and grow.  When Mark and I were first married, I thought he was trying to punish me by telling me that we needed to order water in a restaurant.  Lo and behold, that is a great way to begin saving on expenses.  Mark is great with money and I AM NOT.  He has ALWAYS insisted that we live below our means and I am so very thankful NOW.  Along the way, I’ve been angry and frustrated and I’ve pitched a million fits . . .but he was wise beyond his years back then.

I would love to hear some great budgeting stories!  Do you keep a budget?  Are you frugal or a spendthrift?  What is your favorite way to save money?

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Love, Laughter, Death . . . and Taxes!

Mark and George and Alice and I headed to Lineville today for Mr. McKay's funeral.  The four of us haven't spent that much time together - just the four of us - in a LOOOONG time.  The 1 hour and 44 minute trip (each way) flew by quickly as we talked about all sorts of things - from supper club menus and decorations to our kids and school.  We also laughed a lot - even at some inappropriate gas comments.  I won't explain!

Isn't that the way it is?  Something like death occurs and we slow down for just a little while and live life.  We laugh.  We hug others.  We tell people that we love them.  Why don't we do that more often?  Why do we get in such a hurry and forget?  Mark made a comment as we sat in traffic this afternoon to the effect of "these people are evidently not in as much of a hurry as I am."  Isn't that true?

Since Mark and George were pallbearers, we had to arrive fairly early at the funeral home.  We all visited with Mrs. McKay.  We were introduced to folks we didn't know.  Alice and I looked at every picture in that funeral home - they had about a 100 pictures of different churches.  We assume those are the churches who make use of the funeral home.  Every once in a while we would hear Mark or George laugh or speak loudly - I believe they visited with just about everyone there.  As we met new folks, they would say, "y'all are the Elliotts?? - we've heard so much about you."  I have to chuckle about that because we evidently make a splash wherever we go :-)

The service was held in a small chapel and Alice and I were wedged into a row with four seats . . .with two "strangers."  As so often happens in a small town, the lady leaned over and started a conversation and asked if we were family.  I said, "no ma'am.  Our husbands are pall bearers."  She immediately said, "the Elliotts?"  I answered with yes ma'am . . .and you won't be able to miss them because they are identical twins."  When the pall bearers processed in (which I had never seen done before), she leaned over and said, "I couldn't miss them!!" 

I really wanted to snap a photo of Mark and George and Mrs. McKay but there never seemed to be just the right moment but I did snap a few photos in the cemetery.  The day started out very cloudy but blue sky appeared . . .the cloud formations were amazing all day!  I loved the barren trees with no leaves against the crazy sky as a backdrop for the cemetery.

There were lots of old tombstones from the 1800's -- 1828!!

There were lots of simple crosses - no names on many of them but Mark found a whole row of Harris people - we even found a Mary Harris.  It was fascinating to walk around and read the names (many were very unusual) and see the dates of birth and death.

Just in the time we were at the cemetery (which was an hour or so), more blue skies appeared.

Back to the laughter . . .it was a small cemetery at Black's Creek Methodist Church so we were literally parked in two lines bumper to bumper (Mark's big old pick up truck!!).  We had to wait a while until everyone was ready to leave so that everyone could pull out of the cemetery at the same time.  We got in the car . . .had to roll the windows down to talk to a couple more folks . . .more laughter . . .and I said, "I need to tinkle.  I need a diet pepsi.  I need a snack."  Those who know me well will know that that sounds like a typical sentence out of my mouth.

Mark took us to the gas station in Ashland.  We were LIVING BIG today!!  We used the facilities (I'm so polite - I was not that polite in the car!).  We bought our lunch (this was about 3:25 in the afternoon) . . .Mark had a pay day candy bar and green tea; I had a DIET PEPSI and cheese-its; Alice had a diet coke (I think) and Chex Mix .  . .and George had a turkey and cheese sandwich -- people - it was a sandwich in a wrapper in the gas station. . .with no expiration date!  We were living big today!  More laughter!  We were parked right by the courthouse so Mark said "take a picture of that" and I did.  Simple.

We are sad for Mrs. McKay.  She is grieving and will continue to grieve.  We are celebrating for Mr. McKay - he is no longer in pain.  We are remembering - today someone mentioned how Mr. McKay paid his way through college . . .and I could hear his voice telling us the story about selling watermelons to put himself through college!!! 

Today we lived life.  We loved.  We laughed.  We remembered.  We were sad yet happy.  We were together.  We hugged.  We smiled.  Today we LIVED BIG!

What about the taxes?  The title just needed something else, right?  Mark did tell me to download Turbo Tax.

Love, Laughter, Death . . . .LIFE!  (and taxes)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Life Well Lived

On Tuesday afternoons I work from home preparing for our Tuesday night Young Professionals Group.  My phone rang today and it was our friend, Vonde McKay.  She called to tell me that Charles had died and to ask if Mark (and George) could come and be two of the pall bearers on Thursday.

Just who are Charles and Vonde?  They are our friends who live in the same town where our farm is located.  When the kids were little, Mr. and Mrs. McKay were like a second set of grandparents to Glenn and Laura.  The four of us would go down for the weekend and Laura and I refused to stay in the trailer so Mrs. McKay would fix up the guest room for us.  Glenn and Mark would stay up at the trailer (this was after the original farmhouse burned back when Mark and I were dating and before Mark and George and Roger bought the "new" farmhouse).

On Saturday morning, Mrs. McKay would fix breakfast and after breakfast the guys would go off and do guy stuff and Laura and Mrs. McKay and I would hang around the house and do girl stuff.  She kept dress up clothes and Barbie dolls for Laura.

She would always cook a farm lunch for us -- you know? Cornbread and peas and other veggies were staples at her table.

Over the last few years, Mr. McKay's health has been precarious at best.  He needed some major surgery a few years ago, and our friend, Mitch, was able to get him in with a specialist at UAB.  He was better for a short time but then his health began a slow decline.

He was 85 years old when he died this week but in my mind, they are still about 60 years old!!

When Glenn was about 3 years old, he LOVED to fish (still does).  Mr. McKay told one of his daughters that he would give her $1000 if she would give him a grandson like Glenn :-)

Glenn and Mr. and Mrs. McKay

Both of the McKays were school teachers - one taught at the local high school level and one taught at the jr. college level.

Mrs. McKay had a new computer and the kids were playing! Sweet memories!

Mr. McKay was a fine man - he will be missed.  He lived a good life.  He worked hard. 
He will be reunited with both of his daughters who died much too young. 
He will be missed by those who remain.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

cabin fever - it is a real thing!

Since we got off work on Thursday afternoon, I've been pretty much holed up in our house . . .and I LOVE our house . . .and I have organized tons of stuff and cleaned out stuff . . .and ironed all my clothes . . .and I've done a million loads of laundry.  I've ridden my stationary bike every day and I've read several books and I've prepared a Sunday School lesson that I didn't teach . . . I've ventured out twice but it is soooo cold.  I'm ready to go back to work tomorrow.  I keep seeing notices of school closings and school delays and I've actually said a prayer for lots of mamas and daddies . . .
I just looked at the weather - the wind chill yesterday was 4 degrees . . . on Thursday, the temp is going to be 69!

Mark drove over to his mom's today and ate lunch with her and I chose not to go.  I probably should have gone with him.  I have decided that I don't think I could live in Alaska.  It would be dark and cold and I would either have to bundle up and hunt for my food and stay inside and get grumpy!  Mark said that alcoholism is high in Alaska . . .I need to check out his facts.  I can see why.

I've read my Bible.  I've written in my journal.  I've read lots of commentaries preparing for Sunday school - I love commentaries!  (this is amazing -- our preachers did a brief devotion online today on the fruit of the spirit . . .that is what I prepared for Sunday School today . . .and I'll teach next week!! -- I love when God weaves things together like that!)

I've come up with unusual recipes because I didn't go to the store before the snow . . .I've even eaten venison. 

Don't get me wrong.  I am VERY happy to have a warm home and warm clothes and books to read and a bike to ride.  My heart hurts for those people and animals who have been outside for the last few days.  Hear me - I am grateful . . .I just have cabin fever!

I've discussed with Mark my route to work tomorrow to avoid icy roads.  Like I said, I've ironed my clothes.  I'm ready!  I have cabin fever!

I found this image online -- it looks happy :-)

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The BIG snow of 2017

We don't get a lot of snow in the greater Birmingham area. We get a giant snow every few or ten years. The last big snow was in 2014 and it was indeed a biggie and caught everyone off guard - the snow arrived earlier than expected and everyone couldn't get home from work and people stayed with other people or in their offices for 2 or 3 days. Many people left their cars all over the roadways and interstates.   We don't like when that happens. Some of us have four wheel drive vehicles (hubby) but he couldn't get to me last time. About a week ago, our favorite weather forecaster . . .James Spann . . .started hinting at snow. We all assumed the threat of snow would go away before the day arrived. The day crept slowly closer and the risk of winter weather stayed. No one wants to take chances anymore (after the last time!) so all of the schools in the winter watch area closed for the day and many businesses either closed altogether or closed early. We had some sleet around mid morning on Friday. It was actually quite loud! It was cold on Friday. We were evidently right on the line between freezing rain/sleet/ice pellets and actual snow. They predicted the second round would hit around 6:00 p.m. and it did . . .but Mark and I knew something was up when we could HEAR our snow. Snowflakes fall gently and quietly. Ice pellets do not. Like a little kid, I went to bed hoping that when I awoke this morning, there would be lots of snow. I awakened to COOOOOLLLLLDDDD temperatures and this:

The ice looked like snow and it was pretty sparkling in the morning sun.

It looked quite lovely in the fire pit.

and it looked even lovelier and deeper on the patio table.

It was stacked up in the bushes beside the house and the plants look TOTALLY frozen!

The playground in front of the house was covered.  I saw the cutest thing today in the playground.  A little girl in a pink coat with a sled would run and climb the ladder to the top of the slide and she would put her sled down and jump on it and go down the frozen slide - pretty clever!!  As soon as she finished, she would run quickly around to do it again!

The roads are still frozen in lots of areas so they have cancelled church.  Mark and I did venture out  to Walmart.  I did not stop at the store and buy bread and milk before the snow.  Everyone in Alabama buys bread and milk before it snows.  Who knows why?  Such a weird combo!  We were expecting our Blue Apron box this weekend but FedEx has had to deal with ice and snow, too, so no food box . . .We ate venison cube steak last night because it was the ONLY meat in the freezer -- Mark cooked it and even made gravy for me.  I didn't even have a fresh vegetable in the house!!  I was telling Mark that we could survive on peanut butter sandwiches and peanut butter crackers.  Mark had horrible cabin fever.  He said that he could understand double homicides and alcoholism much better after being trapped inside.  He tried to go for a walk this morning but the wind chill was a whopping 4 degrees -- toooooo cold!  Our coats are not thick enough; our boots are not warm enough.  We just don't have the right tools for snow and ice.

So while we were at the grocery store, Mark received a text from a close friend who was out of town.  The close friend's ex wife had been taken by ambulance to the local ER and the friend needed Mark to go pick her up and take her home.  I believe Mark did some slipping and sliding along the way.  He tried to go out of our neighborhood via the parkway - it was frozen solid!  We had driven the other direction to Walmart.  He had to back up the street and turn around and go the really long way around to get to the ER.  He picked her up and used his 4 wheel drive to take her safely home and he made it back home safe and sound.

Random post NUMBER THREE - Christmas 2016

Christmas day continued . . . I'm not posting these links on facebook so you are probably only reading if you get an email notification.  I am trying to document as much as possible this year - not sure why - but feel strongly.

After presents at our house, we all headed to worship together.  After worship, we headed over to my mother-in-love's house for Sunday lunch.  I know I mentioned earlier that we didn't have turkey and dressing . . .still thinking about that!! 

When we were younger, we ALL exchanged gifts with everyone and that pile of presents was enormous.  These days we draw names amongst the brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews.  I was the "name drawer" this year and they made me remove Emma's name so she received several presents.  We all buy for Grandmother (MIL).  She has a new wardrobe after Christmas every year!

We've been taking a picture of grandmother with the grandkids for quite a few years.  I need to look back and find the earliest one - problem is pictures were on old computer that is no longer alive (they are also on memory cards and some other picture device SOMEWHERE IN THIS HOUSE).  This was the first year with a great grandchild in the picture.

Emma was the center of attention for much of the day . . .she is sitting smack dab in the middle of the men.

She received the cutest cloth barn with animals inside -- the animals make noise.

After our jaunt to Grandmother's house (over the river and through the woods . . .), we went home for a brief nap and to regroup before our next adventure.

I've been an Elliott for almost 33 years and Christmas day night has always been a tradition.  I was even included when we were dating.  Way back then, the party was at Mark's grandmother's house.  She was about the same age as Mark's momma is now back then.  She actually lived with Mark's family but they had kept her house down on Lancaster Road.  The maid would go down with Mark's momma and her sister, Aunt Margaret, and they would clean the house and put up a tree and get everything ready.  The family would have a big Christmas dinner and they ALL exchanged presents back then. 

After she died, Mark's mom and Aunt Mary rotated the party back and forth between their homes.  For the last couple of times, Nathan has done the party at his house and it was bittersweet again this year without Aunt Mary, Uncle John, and Nancy.

These are my girls.  I sure do love them!

This is a wonderful thing -- now there are all these young adults in the family.

I love all four of these people!!  Emma looked so cute in her green dress, white tights, and red shoes.

Here is another shot of even more of our young adult family members.

Sally babysat for us a lot when Glenn and Laura were little and it was such a sweet moment to see her holding Emma.  She was trying to sneak a kiss from Emma and this picture is funny because it looks like Emma is pushing away - no way, Aunt Sally!!

This was not only the year of young adults at the family party, but this was the year of babies - babies everywhere!  They were all so very cute!!

Another picture I love - Glenn and his grandmother and Emma.

This year was bittersweet in other ways, too.  One of Mark and George's first cousins, Bur, and his wife, Beth are moving to the west coast to be near their grandbaby (and daughter, of course!).  John Wesley and Margaret are Bur and Beth's children -- John Wesley lives in New York and has a cool custom wood/furniture business -- Grain Control.  His wife also has an incredibly interesting career with Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal.  Their daughter, Margaret, and her husband live on the West Coast - hence, Bur and Beth's move.  This was probably the last year that they will all be here with us for Christmas.  There were about 40 of us for Christmas this year.  This group is comprised of Mark's momma (the only one left of that generation) and her children (4) and families and her nieces and nephews (8) and families (on the Harris side).  Mark and I may have moaned and groaned a few times over the years about having to attend or about having to help do all the work (when Mark's momma is hostess) but I truly can't imagine Christmas without this gathering.