Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Beginning a New Year and Back to Normal

All of our families are back home now to their individual bailiwicks.

Tara, Bryan, and the boys arrived at Woodsong Saturday night quite exhausted from their drive up from Georgia. The oldest and youngest son had slept, but the middle son, two-year-old Maddux, had been awake and unhappy almost the entire trip. He had just gone to sleep when they were almost here, and they were afraid of what would happen when he got woke up so soon. Tara said they almost kept driving towards Chicago, but they had pecans in the car that her dad had sent up for his aunts, so they pulled off for the night at the farm. Although he did wake up unhappy when they carried him in and cried again for a bit, Maddux and everyone were soon asleep.

We enjoyed a good visit with them the next morning. Before daybreak, Gerald and Aidan were out riding Gerald’s new John Deere Gator that he bought after he sold the“mule.” Maddux woke up happy as a lark and soon joined them. (He was not happy about leaving the farm, however, so I am hoping their trip home was not as difficult as coming up had been.)

Payton is almost always smiling, and I got to hold him a bit although he adores being held by his mother. Erin came over to visit with them too. They wanted to get on the road again when we left for church in order to reach their home and get another good night’s sleep before their work routine began this morning.

I loved hearing Tara tell about their anniversary trip to Savannah while Gerry and Vickie cared for the boys in Athens. Bryan and she had walked all over the city seeing as many of the 21 beautiful squares as possible, and they’d had a great lunch at Paula Deen’s restaurant. Tara described the city so well that I felt as if I’d made the trip. Gerald was in and out of that city once with a truck, but I have never been. Now it is on my wish-to-do list.

As I headed out to Sunday School, I grabbed the crock pot out of the fridge, slid it into its electric container, and turned it on. I wanted to leave it reheating our New Year’s ham and beans for our lunch. I’d saved the Christmas ham bone for the beans, which had cooked all Saturday afternoon while Gerald and I ran around visiting his two brothers and wives down in Union County—our home country. We had the ham and beans with corn bread for supper Saturday night, and there was plenty still for our lunch and also a little bowl of beans to take in to the Cedars.

Gerald and I had visited with Katherine and David Sunday afternoon, and the two men worked on the wheelchair footrest again. It is still not perfect, but Gerald hopes they are getting there. Gerald also is following a more complicated wheelchair project with Larry Cheek of Ullin, who likes to experiment and invent. Larry has had surgery, so that project is temporarily on hold right now—though Larry is always thinking, thinking, thinking. Gerald and Larry have a trip planned to seek out a more comfortable seat for the chair that Larry is working on.

We ate a Sunday night sandwich, checked emails and Facebook connections, watched some television and went on to bed after Mary Ellen called that their family was just nearing Chattanooga. I made sure there were clean towels in the downstairs bathroom and left the light on for them at the downstairs walk-out door before I went to bed on the first floor. I wanted to leave the Christmas tree lights burning, but I didn’t since I don’t like to sleep with tree lights on. They came in at 3 a.m. and had collapsed in beds as soon as possible. We did not even hear them.

Although I kept sleeping, I did hear Brian before six this morning quietly leave after he gathered an accumulation of stuff to take back home in his truck. They had left brief cases and boxes and presents in the corner of their upstairs bedroom when they took off the day after Christmas for Florida to visit Brian’s mother at The Villages. He and Fifi were headed for work today in central Illinois. (Their family had driven down on Christmas Eve in two vehicles since Brian needed the truck here for some farm purposes. It has been a long slow drive down that night seeing cars in ditches all along the way and wondering if someone might slide into them at any moment. Being careful made it much later than normal when they arrived to eat supper at 11 that night.)

This morning Mary Ellen, Trent, and Brianna were able to sleep in. But I was still in my pajamas when Mary Ellen joined me in the kitchen for toast and cereal, and I was able to hear about their family visits and their anniversary celebration at Disney World. Brianna had even been able to see her special cousin/friend Savannah who happened to be enroute with her dad from Georgia to their home in deep Florida. These two girls have always done projects together and kept in constant contact by texting and Facebook despite the distance between them. (Savannah had approved Bri’s Christmas dress that way.) Trent is very good with younger kids, and he did his usual gracious hosting sharing video games with Savannah’s little brother. And they were able to see their special cousin Caleb and wife Stacy, who were also visiting Gma Dot.

Disney has played an important role down through the years with their family vacations, and they never miss a chance to check in at Orlando when they visit Gma Dot. They have been multiple times to Epcot and all the facilities and even taken the family cruise once or twice. They have had camping and traveling vacations too, but Disney has always been their special place. This year Trent and Bri were old enough to be on their own part of the time celebrating New Year’s Eve while the anniversary couple enjoyed some together time. Then they all four watched the midnight fireworks together. With Trent’s high school career almost over, they know these family vacations are likely ending.

Even though Brian had taken so much home in his truck, Mary Ellen was still hard pressed to find room in their car for in all the clothes from the closet and all the large Pyrex serving dishes she’d carried down with food for our holiday feasts. (The clothes and some of these dishes were left behind after the Thanksgiving stomach flu epidemic.) Since Trent and Brianna have to take their postponed final exams at school tomorrow, they left before noon to get home for a little study and preparation. A snow day did the same to the Marion high school kids here, and I really feel bad for all of them having to start the new year with final exams.

Jeannie and Rick and their children started back to school today in northern Illinois, and Jeannie said her students were definitely not sleepy as she had hoped they might be. They were well rested and wound up. She moves from one school to another, and kids come into the art room oft times with other agendas than creating fine art. But she has her methods of getting them down to learning.

So for right now, our children and grandchildren are settled back home. Not for long, however. Gerry will be in clinics south of Athens this week. This weekend Leslie will be heading back to campus. Gerry, Vickie, and Geri Ann will be flying to an exposure softball tournament in Arizona. Tara will fly there from northern Illinois, while Bryan will be caring for the boys. She will coach Southern Force, and Geri Ann will play for Southern Force. Erin will be there also representing Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and she and Gerry will both be scouting. I am sure Elijah will have a speech tournament somewhere, and Trent and Bri and Sam will all have some sort of special plans.

Mary Ellen told me once that she remembers when she was little that life for her was sometimes sort of a blur as she watched her three older siblings constantly running, jumping, and having adventures all around her, That also describes how I sometimes feel as I constantly send up prayers for traveling mercies and try to remember which grandchild is going where and what our adult children are involved in. In the meantime, I am trying to get back to some of my own activities and make some contacts with some of those I have heard about whose ancestors dropped off the Trail of Tears here in Southern Illinois.

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