Monday, December 12, 2016


As usual, I'm struggling to keep up.  But here's Thanksgiving.  We went to Georgia again this year.  We actually hadn't been since LAST Thanksgiving because we didn't have time over the summer to squeeze in a trip.  So it was really nice for me to go home.

This was my view everyday growing up.  Of course, the hills were dotted with cows back then but not anymore.  This was my backyard.  And this was also something I took for granted.
We left the Friday before Thanksgiving.  Saturday morning we woke up and spent the first part of the day out in the pasture and exploring in the woods.  There's something about a hay bale that a kid just can't resist!
It was such a beautiful day.  It was windy, but the weather was perfect for playing outside.  It was also so much fun to be wearing long sleeves!
And this pretty much sums it all up.  In case you can't tell, his shirt says, "Epic."  I think that says it all!
There was a little bit of fall left for us to enjoy.
And then we walked around the corner and found this beauty.
The kids enjoyed playing in the leaves.  We collected as many different sizes and colors and varieties as we could find and took them back to the house with us to do leaf rubbings.

Saturday afternoon, my mom and I ran to Kroger to get my coffee and a new magazine I wanted.  The stores here don't carry either so I was very excited to go to Kroger.  Yes, I realize how ridiculous that sounds.

And then Saturday night we went to Rob and Kristi's for supper.  My children were so very excited to see their Connell boy cousins.  They had such a fun time playing together (yes, Mason's hair is wet because he was sweating!).
Sunday morning we went to church and then Sunday afternoon was another beautiful day outside.  Seth took the big kids out in the woods, but Ellie didn't want to go so she stayed up by the house.  I was inside reading when I heard the bell ringing.  I thought it strange that Seth and the kids had come back so soon.  But when I looked out the window, this is what I saw.
We spent all of Monday visiting family.  Most of the day was at Jennifer's.  We had lunch with all of the Connell girl cousins and our children.  I usually see Jenn and Denise once a year at least, but I hadn't seen Ashley since Brian's wedding over two years ago.  And the four of us hadn't been together at the same time in several years.  So this was a special time.
Ellie was so excited to see Kennedy (or Kenna Tee, as she calls her).  They are separated by only one year in age.  And, yes, Kennedy is wearing teal glitter lipstick and either purple or pink glitter stuff on her cheeks.  The part I love the most is that Kennedy is just like her mama used to be, and payback . . . well . . . it's just hilarious sometimes!  I mean that in the best of ways.  
The four of us have 14 kids among us ranging in age from fifteen to one year old (and how funny that both the fifteen and one year old are Jennifer's!).  I think we did pretty good getting a picture of them!
And then we tried getting a picture with us and them together.  By this time, they're getting a little silly.
And then we wanted a picture of just us girl cousins.  But that was a whole lot easier said than done!  Seth was trying to take a picture, and I think my mom was, too.  And Aunt Harriette.  And I don't even know what's going on here.

And this pretty much sums it up.  Notice out little photo bombers.
After we left Jennifer's, we went to see my cousin Cindy at the flower shop.  She had buckets of the most gorgeous flowers wanting to be arranged into Thanksgiving table centerpieces.  I love going to the shop because of all the beautiful flowers and also because it smells so good!  I also love that place because it's Cindy's dream come true.

And then we went to visit with my Aunt Gail.  She's currently finishing up another semester of seminary classes.  I think next semester will be her last.  At 76 years old, that was always one of her dreams.  I love that because it's just a reminder to me that it's never too late for a dream come true!

Tuesday goes down as one of my favorite days ever!  I drove to the ATL to spend the day with my bestie.  We met at Lenox.  It'd been two years since I last saw her "in person."  We walked and talked and shopped and talked.  We'd carefully planned our day so we could eat lunch at the Neiman Marcus Cafe.  It was the perfect girlie spot for lunch, and the food really was delicious.  I think my favorite had to be the ginger peach iced tea though! 
After lunch we headed straight to the Cupcake ATM at Sprinkles!  Now I had never heard of this before until Barbara told me about it.  It was the neatest thing!  It was also right about this time we were making fun of our not-quite-40-year-old selves for taking selfies at the Cupcake ATM!
I mean, seriously, how fun is this?!  There were two choices on this particular day, and we both chose red velvet.  Now, if you go inside their actual store, they have all sorts of fun flavors.  But we wanted the ATM cupcakes!

We ordered our cupcakes, and finally the little door lifted, and there they were!
So, look, in our attempt to grab our cute cupcake boxes and take a picture at the same time, we took too long, and the door came back down and smashed Barbara's hand!  I'm so not kidding!  And then we thought we weren't going to be able to get our cupcakes!  But the door opened again, and we didn't waste any time.
We found a spot inside to eat our cupcakes and talk some more.
And then it was time to leave.  We wanted to avoid traffic, but I got stuck in it anyway.  Honestly, though, I didn't even mind.  I love driving through the city, and I was very tempted to get off the exit and hit up the Varsity for a hotdog!  That's the only hotdog I'll eat.  But I didn't.  Barbara even called and talked me all the way back home.  She even did so while still sitting in her vehicle in her garage because she beat me.
When I think back on that day, it really was a perfect day.  I mean, it was better than Disney World!  I sure wish we could have days like that more often.

Tuesday night we went to the annual Thanksgiving dinner at my parents' church.  Hannah Kate had been looking forward to turkey and dressing, and she finally got it.

Wednesday morning my dad and I visited two cemeteries to help me with my current little family genealogy project.  When we got back to the house, he wanted to move all the hay so he let the children help him do that.  He taught Mason how to drive the tractor and maneuver the lift the pick up the hay. 

Mason was so excited, and he was taking his job very seriously.
While they were doing that, Hannah Kate was chauffeuring her daddy and sister around on the golf cart.
And then it was her turn to drive the big tractor and move the hay.

Honestly, I'm not sure who enjoyed this more, Pop or the children.  Even Ellie had a turn.  
Wednesday afternoon I went to visit Grandmother and MeMama.  This totally wasn't planned at all.  It was a last minute decision.  Aunt Lynne had called the day before and said that the Director of Nursing had called to talk to her about placing Grandmother under hospice care.  So, after thinking about it, I decided to go.

Grandmother had alzheimer's.  We've all watched the last eight years as that debilitating disease ravaged her mind.  When she could no longer remember who I was, she'd still talk to me.  She'd talk to the children and play around with them.  She'd look at me like she knew deep down who I was, like she knew she was SUPPOSED to know me.  But when I saw her last Thanksgiving, she didn't look at me like that anymore.  It was like she just looked straight through me to somewhere else.  She didn't talk, she didn't respond to the children.  I knew then that we were in the final stages of that horrible disease.  I came away from that visit so frustrated and so sad.  So I guess that's why I hadn't really planned to go see her.

This time I went by myself.  MeMama wasn't in her room, but I found her in the salon getting a "curl."  I sat and talked with her for an hour.  We had the best visit we've had in several years!  Honestly, I think the children have always been a distraction for her.  Without them, I could ask her questions and just let her talk without interruption.  She also stayed focused on me a whole lot better.  I showed her a bunch of pictures on my phone.  She talked about her life as a kid, she talked about her parents and grandparents.  We just had a really good time.  And, this time, her answer was different.  I told her that I'd be back to celebrate her 100th birthday in a few months.  Usually she tells me she's not going to make it to 100.  But this time she said, "You know that's going to be on March 29."  Yes, ma'am, I do.

Grandmother was in the salon, too, so the stylist finished her "curl" while I was hanging out with MeMama and then we traded.  I told her I'd push Grandmother back to her room. As we passed by the dayroom, I saw Aunt Lynne in there meeting with Hospice so we just wheeled right up in there so the nurse could begin the assessment.  I held Grandmother's hand, but she didn't at all respond to my touch.  I talked to her, but she didn't at all respond to my voice.  Nothing.  She didn't blink or even flinch.  She was just . . . there.  But not really there at all.  So I told her I loved her and that I'd see her again soon.

My next stop was a little coffee shop to meet up with another dear friend.  We had such a great time of conversation and prayer together.  I wish I would've gotten a picture of us together, but I didn't.

I went back home, and Rob, Kristi and the boys came over for Thanksgiving supper.  The kids played and had a great time, but I didn't take the first picture this night.

The next morning (Thanksgiving day) we loaded up and drove back to Louisiana.  Because we aren't going for Christmas, I brought all of our Christmas presents with us and left them at my parents' house.  But because I am such a master at packing and organizing, I managed to fit everything in the back of the Tahoe without even removing part of the third row seat.  We didn't bring the cargo carrier either because it's just inconvenient to mess with.  But this is what I didn't plan on.  This was the back of my Tahoe for the return trip.  What you see here is nothing but presents.  Nothing. but. presents.  There was NO ROOM for luggage.  NONE.  No room for any of our clothes.  
What you can't see in that above picture is that I even had to take out part of the third row seat and wedge it in between the second row seats!  And we still had to get the children in.  Again, there is NO ROOM for our luggage (which, in case I failed to mention, held all of our clothes!).
So, of course, the children had a spot.  They were crammed in, but they had a spot.  
I'd known for a couple of days that we were going to have this problem so I'd already been thinking about what to do.  I was going to just go buy another cargo carrier.  But the more I thought about that, the more I realized it would be cheaper just to ship our clothes back instead.  I thought I could probably find a spot somewhere for an outfit or two for everyone and then ship the rest back.  We could get it on Friday or Saturday.  But, then, the more I thought, I remembered that Jennifer also had a cargo carrier and might not have need of hers since she had a 10 passenger van (or something like that).  So I called her up and asked if she needed it anytime within the next few months and promised to bring it back in March.  We both got a good laugh out of that one.

So.  With borrowed cargo carrier (and all of our clothes) we made the return trip on Thanksgiving day.  Little did I know I would hop on a plane 48 hours later and go right back for Grandmother's funeral.

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