We've Had Company!

We've been babysitting, and loving it. Their parents had errands on Saturday afternoon, then called and asked if we'd keep them through supper. Uh, yeah! So we called in pizza and sandwiches! 
Sweet Noah is suffering with an ear infection, but he was happy enough to stay with Pa and Nan and we even got snuggles. He was up for laughing and giggling but his appetite was a bit off. He and Ian still managed to finish off a large, thin crust cheese Domino pizza by themselves. 
Sweet Ian, you ask him to smile for you and you get this posed look. Ah well, normally he's into the tv, or the legos, or playing with his little sister. He would kiss her and she would giggle. Back and forth. 
Little Miss has learned to climb up onto the ottman and claim it as her throne. She eats up there, plays up there, but still falls asleep in my arms when she's tired out. Like her brothers, she loves pizza. You can see it outlined on her mouth. Her appetite is almost as big as theirs! Brandon and Jenny are going to have some powerful grocery bills with these three as they grow. These are the precious reasons I haven't been online much and pray that you had a restful weekend filled with love and laughter ~

25 Years Ago

It's one of those times you'll always remember where you were. Our youngest daughter, Jenny, was in kindergarten and home sick that day. She was cross legged in front of the TV, as I'd told her that she was witnessing a part of history. I sat behind in the rocker waiting for the blast off and the cheering. Instead, there was an explosion and the horrible silence as the audience realized what had happened. Jenny sat there for a bit, then turned, and with a confused look, asked, "What happened? What happened to those people in that rocket?" I was already crying. For them. For the families. For us. I've never forgotten.
A dear friend of mine has written where she was and what she experienced, along with the words of our President Ronald Reagan.  Go to her site, then let us know where you were, your thoughts, how it affected your day. Had you paid attention to NASA before this? My father was always interested in science and the space program so it was par for the course for me to be watching the lift off. (The movie, 'Right Stuff', love it. If you haven't watched it, do so! Another good one is Tom Hanks in Apollo 13.) Today we remember the lives of the seven that loved what they did, knew the risks, and gave their lives in doing so. Remember with prayers today those they so suddenly left behind. God bless America and those that uphold her.

A New Blog, A Shout-Out

The Lands Across the Lake is a blog I found this afternoon and written by the wife of one of my favorite students! Daniel Land came to our elementary school his second grade year and I had the honor and privilege of having him in my classroom! Smart, talented, mannerly, and just an all around really good kid. This 'kid' has grown up, is a member of our Armed Forces, happily married to Brittany Gay, and they have an adorable son now. I know there are readers from the Holtville area that will recognize him and may have wondered where he is. Across the ocean! Making dreams come true!
You must go to their blog and not read of their life in Europe but also see the photos that Brittany includes. She is also on Facebook and that's where I saw some of the most beautiful views of Venice, Italy seen through her lens. She's quite the photographer and I am so tickled to reconnect with them through their blog! From me to them ~ thank you for the sacrifices made to serve our country, to have many homes in few years, and to go through the times when your family is separated. My home truly appreciates both of you.

Snow in Gatlinburg!

This was our view going into Gatlinburg. Snow!! Beautiful white snow. In fact, it began snowing on us as we were driving through Townsend and all the way through Wears Valley and Pigeon Forge. It was so pretty! And I was so happy. According to The Weather Channel we were to get snow for three whole days!
We had one daughter with us, a comfortable condo, and a snowy evening. Good food, warm fire, and were waiting for another daughter to come in with her family. Brandon and Jenny's condo was awesome  (seriously, it was decorated beautifully) and they arrived safe and sound. The promise of having three days of snow was ultra exciting. But nooooo ~ thank you very much, Weather Channel. By Friday afternoon, the snowfall had pretty much ceased, and it was simply freezing and breezy. I may never believe them again. Ever. Again. Brandon and Jenny took their babies to Ober Gatlinburg, but that was it. No.more.snow. Just freezing weather. Snow in the mountains but only on the side of the road in town. Shoot, shucks, but wait!! We still found lots to do!! And it was such fun.
Leslie, with those gorgeous eyes, at a local haunt we love to frequent for good home cooked food. The sad thing is these few photos I'm sharing are the only ones I have! My family has made such fun of me over the years pulling out my camera to record each gathering that I hesitate to even take photos anymore. I was a bit sad to realize I had so few photos to remember this vacation. I am in hopes that Jenny took some and will share them on her blog once she gets unpacked. She already has a few from the trip on the way up.
I love being in Gatlinburg with this man. He enjoys the calm and slowness of it as much as I do. When the girls were younger we did the outlet/attractions/eateateat routine. But now? We sleep in, have a late breakfast, wander into the mountains, downtown, or a lane by Little Pigeon River. Then it's a late lunch and back to our condo to sit in front of a warm fire, read a good novel, and get good and sleepy on fresh mountain air. Just doesn't get much better.
The fun really began when this little Miss and her big brothers got to town. They entertained us with their happiness and delight at being "in the mountains!" Yesterday, I told you our plans for the weekend (which means these posts are a bit out of order). While the ladies shopped Tanger Outlet Mall, the guys took in the aquarium. I'm not sure who enjoyed it more, Ian and Noah, or their Pa. In fact, he said he could've traveled through it all one more time, but was outvoted. The girls and I had a nice time wandering in and out of stores and a delicious lunch in front of the fireplace at The Chop Shop. (Crazy name, great food) 

The Titantic museum was fascinating and I would encourage you to go if given the chance. It's well worth the price of the ticket. Sad when you realize it was an accident that could've been avoided. Shocking, when you feel the water temp they were thrust into. So many trapped with no way out. A real learning experience for all of us. Ian, especially, understood much more than I thought he would.

We did not go to the attraction, WonderWorks. Instead everyone, except John and I, decided a nap was in order. We took that time to wander downtown, window shop, and picked up Subway sandwiches and chocolates from Aunt Mahalia. Came back to sit in front of our fire, while the rested ones headed out for dinner and Ripley's Believe It or Not. Ian was still excited with what they saw there this morning at breakfast!

It was cold, cold, cold with no new snow the last five days of the trip. However, it was a truly nice vacation with six people we love dearly. Then it was time to go home. And it rained all.the.way.home. I'm serious. ALL.THE.WAY.HOME! But I still saw snow!!

Gatlinburg + Family =

loads and loads of fun. We went tonight to Dixie Stampede and I'm not sure who enjoyed it more, the three little ones too busy watching the show to eat the food put in front of them, or the adults that were the watching the children who were so enthralled they had no appetite. Yep, the take home bags came around and it was brought back to the condo. Noah claims there was only one "bad part". He didn't like the neon colored Native Americans that danced in pure dark. I thought it was very artistic, but to Noah Bedoah it was just too scary. But he loved loved loved the races and games between the North and the South! He picked up quickly that the North were the 'bwue' guys and the South were the 'wed' ones and would count the winner flags placed on the sides of the arena. Noah sat between John and me and there was pure happiness and delight that we were watching heart memories being made. Jenny has posted a bit more on their trip up at The Maddox Family.  You'll enjoy her bits and pieces and a video of Miss Elle.
Ian is seven and is absorbing so much of this trip. Today while the ladies went to Tanger Outlet Mall, John and Brandon took the boys to the Ripley's Aquarium. I'm not sure who had the most fun, Pa or the little ones. I asked him what he thought their best part was and he said it was a toss up between walking underneath the sharks or touching a stingray. I love watching children. They are fascinating little creatures. I told Johnny last night that I felt so much more 'at home' and comfortable with children than I do most adults. They don't judge, they love to snuggle, they are honest and they forgive so easily. They can't lie with a straight face and they love having your attention. Ian has just been a sponge with so much to look at, to experience, to taste, and smell. He found "crunchy snow, Nan!" last night {smile font} The snow had been cleared to the side of the parking lot and frozen, so yes, it was crunchy snow.
Tomorrow we separate until the dinner meal and I'm thinking Pa will take us to The Old Mill. It's another favorite of ours and he thinks the boys would love the rugged look of it. The food is always delicious and they give you so much of it!! I think the Maddox's are going to Ober Gatlinburg, so maybe someone will get to ski down a slope! or get a black bear souvenir! We'll hear about at dinner, I'm hoping! To tell you the truth, I'm not sure who is having the most fun, them or us. Leslie is in the condo with us. The Maddox's are upstairs and we've had such fun being close and having our quiet spaces to retreat to. Thank you, John, for making this all possible. It's a dream come true to be with two of our daughters, three of our babies and Brandon in such a beautiful place. It snowed Thursday night, flurries Friday, and is to be snowing Monday and Tuesday. Here's crossing my fingers again!!
Monday's plans sound like such fun and I'll save those until tomorrow.  Wish all of you were here! January is not a busy time in the 'burg nor Pigeon Forge which makes condo and hotel prices dirt cheap!! I would encourage you to look at Mountain Vista Luxury Rentals. They are new and we are very impressed. We plan to make this our official home away from home now! The Maddox's had 509 and John and I have promised ourselves we want to find two couples to come back up here either in February or March for a long weekend. Ours, 407, was nice and very comfy, but 509 was a beautifully decorated home and a great layout. $209 a night. That's all. Who wants to go?! We are to all head home Tuesday at some point and I want to stop in B'ham at The Summit and trade Johnny for Jenny. I'd like to have both girls in Charming Charlies with me to do just a bit more damage before going back into reality.
Here's a hint for our Monday morning excursion, lunch at the Apple Barn, then another fun interactive upside place to visit. Until then, thanks for stopping by. I'm doing this mostly for our family but maybe it's helped give you some ideas of making the trip to the Smoky's and what you may enjoy when you get here!! Here's hoping we see lots more of this before we leave!!!  Good night, sweet family and friends ~

Off to the Smoky's!

While we are off to the Smoky's for a nice, long vacation here are a few places to find some beautiful items, some neat crafts, and one precious outfit for Valentine's (modeled by no other than our grandbaby!).  First, I'll take you to a former student of mine and a talented designer. They are expecting their first child, a boy, and she is sharing the design board for his nursery! Go to Charm Home for a look at Cristi and Billy's nursery ideas!
At My Pink Life you'll get some ideas how to dress up everyday wear. I love her blog and encourage you to browse through the older posts!
This is one of my favorite home decor blogs. Velvet and Linen design and build homes I could sooo easily move into and feel cozy and elegant all at the same time!
Our daughter, Jenny, has a site that you'll find on their family site, The Maddox Family.  You'll find cute outfits and burp cloths and bip sets. Now to mention some funny happenings at their home. When you have three, there's always something going on!
And for those of you that are crafty and looking for an idea for Valentine's Day. Look no further. You'll find it at Jones Design Company and she has lots of other photos for your enjoyment!  So, have a great weekend filled with love and laughter! We're hoping to have a weekend of love, laughter, AND snow!!!

Christmas in January!

Our precious daughters,
Stacey with her Alaina, Jenny with Elle,
and Leslie with Marley. (It was not easy to have
Elle looking at the camera. You'll note that there's
too much and too many for her to check out!) 
As soon as Jenny's family got there, we dug into gifts, laughter,
and loads of giggles from the babies as they see they got
"Just what I wanted!" Ah, they're such sweethearts! 
Don't know what Leslie is looking or who, but I love
those dreamy eyes. Have I said how in love I am with our girls?! 
Here's sweet Noah with his parents ~
he wasn't too sure about Marley, although
he talks about her constantly! 
Now sure if Marley is spoiled, or more to the truth,
I think she has all of us spoiled! We adore that pup! 
I have never had a grandbaby, well maybe Noah,
that eats as much as Elle! She cleans a floor, too,
better than Marley {wink font!} 
The sweeties below are only four months apart.
Here's a photo from 2006.
In fact, they each a sibling! Alaina, in '05, and Noah in '06! 
Here they are on their way to becoming young men,
or maybe they are already {sad font} 
I just love it when there is gift wrap being tossed around,
oh's and ah's are heart, laughter and giggles,
and you know that love abounds.
God is good. God is so good.
Miss Elle ckecking out a weird looking ball given to one of the boys.
The grandbabies had their own decorated table,
with french frieds, chicken, and shrimp. Here's
Alaina waiting on the food!
Adults got their fill of Chris's BarBQue with all the sides!
And their awesome banana pudding!
Elle got hungry and went and placed herself in her own chair.
It was a beautiful weekend, everyone arrived at their homes safe and sound, and we are thankful for the time we were able to spend together.  We are indeed in love with the little munchkins and even moreso with the adults that live in their lives. They all not only walk the walk but they talk the talk. What a blessing.

~ from The Letter Writer ~

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