Saturday, December 26, 2015

Calm after the Chaotic Fun

Arms flailing. Feet in the air. Toys all over the floor. Punch. Hug. Tackle. Two down. Pile on three. Up the stairs. Down through the railing. Under the stairs. Hit back. Smiles. Bellies down. Roll over. Up. Jump.

That is kinda what it was like watching three very sweet well behaved great grandsons in the family room this past week--Aidan, 9; Maddux 7; Payton 5. Perpetual motion occasionally slowed down when one or all three focused momentarily on some toy or game. Or when all three sat in a circle with pencils and paper playing a game they have created. Of course, they were outside a great deal with Gpa Gerry despite rainy weather Their energy is amazing, and I like watching them.

We said our goodbyes to their family last night because they quietly slipped out of the house this morning way before dawn to make it back to Texas where toys awaited them under their tree there in College Station. Tara and Bryan were torn and did stay for the final Johnson celebration last night but yielded to the boys’ eagerness to get back home on Christmas Day.

It was really fascinating the one morning when they were joined by two-year-old twins. Erin’s friend Candace brought Jamison and Mathison to the farm; and before long, they were over their shyness enough to join in the big boys’ play. I loved how the twins already knew about hooking up toy truck beds and tractors and wrestling with big boys.

Christmas started for us a week ago when we learned our son and wife, Gerry and Vickie, along with Geri Ann came in from Texas Thursday night. We were not sure the Archibalds were going to try to make that long journey with three boys this year, but Gerald had things ready for the boys just in case they made it. He received a text they’d be up Thursday afternoon, so when both groups arrived here, there were ten of us sleeping at Woodsong that Thursday night.

Gerald built a fire in his wood burner in his shop. Duke, Chloe, Chance, and Nelly were bedded there. Of course, Gerry seldom goes anywhere these days without bird dogs either taking them to someone or picking them up from someone, so those unnamed dogs were taken to Gerry’s kennels that have been on the farm ever since he moved from Johnston City to Georgia over eight years ago. Gerald and Gerry were up early the next morning to meet up with McLeansboro hunting buddies for breakfast and a hunt. Or did Gerald have a 7:30 physical therapy appointment that morning? The rest of us got up at a more reasonable time! I especially enjoyed some early morning time with Payton before the others came to the kitchen table. All three great grandsons have such tender hearts that they melt mine.

Gerry and Geri Ann were giving hitting clinics in this area, and Vickie goes along to help and encourage them. So they and their three little dogs were off Friday afternoon to the Champaign area for their first clinic in someone’s sports complex in a barn out in the country. From there, they traveled to a clinic at Louisville, KY, before arriving back at our house Sunday night. It is hard work, but Gerry and Geri Ann enjoy interacting with the softball girls. Oh, and there was a clinic this week in west Saint Louis area that I almost forgot.

Tara and Bryan let the boys run off steam Friday morning, before they left for their visit with Bryan’s mother Linda up north, who often has to settle for just Skyping with these grandsons. They had a deadline to get to the Chicago area in time for the boys to play with their cousin Sam before Brian’s sister began her evening nursing shift. They came back to Woodsong on Monday--or was it Tuesday--by way of Galesburg so they could visit Bryan’s dad and step mother there. Duke had stayed behind, and Gerald was watching over him and the bird dogs here. Duke was glad to see his family, and I think he enjoyed having Chloe, Chance, and Nelly back to play with again when they were all regularly let out to run in the yard.

Erin was still teaching on Friday in Belton, Texas, but drove up on Saturday. She dropped by briefly to say hello before she went on to her Gma Shirley’s to spend the night since her new little French bull dog Ruby is somewhat fragile with his little pug nose. If I am not mistaken, I believe I heard he slept with Gma Shirley that night. Erin showed up at the farm Sunday morning briefly before returning to enjoy the Borum family gathering across from Gma Shirley’s house. I think she returned that night then and let Ruby join his dog cousins in Gerald’s shop. As you can see, I am somewhat fuzzy on details because we were so busy having fun with people coming and going that I couldn’t always keep up. In all of this, Erin’s big event of each day was Skyping with her husband Josh over in South Korea.

Of course, the Taylors were soon over to see everyone, and Geri Ann left with Trent and Brianna to spend the night over there. Sam had arrived in town from Baylor on Thursday also, and Trent, Brianna, and he had all immediately traveled to their cousin Leslie and Mike’s house down in Nashville to see the latest Star Wars movie. So Sam was in the cousin mix whenever possible.

I loved getting to sit around and visit with Geri Ann’s high school friends Cece Hutchinson and Dustin Pritchett when they brought Geri Ann home from her visit with Cece, because I had missed them when they dropped by last Christmas when Geri Ann was here.

No one wanted me to cook, so I didn’t much, since people carried in food and were meeting up with friends and family for lunch and dinner. Vickie and Erin had fun taking Gma Shirley shopping and getting ready for family gatherings. Gerry’s cousin Bryce and son Lex arrived a few minutes after Gerry and Vickie had just left for dinner to see her nephew Jeremy’s new house. Bryce just shook his head because Gerry had texted he’d be here. It made me feel better that I wasn’t the only one with memory getting blurred! But Gerald enjoyed taking Bryce and Lex down to his office and making them some family photos including the new one just made that morning of Gerry and cousins Tim and DuWayne when they gathered with the uncles for breakfast in Jonesboro.

Gerry was home at Woodsong the next day when Bryce and Jaime dropped back by. Earlier when Mary Ellen and we were sitting at the table listening to Gerry’s stories, he had us in stitches telling of his and Bryce’s teen episodes hunting in the fields here. I was amazed how he had learned every back road, gate, and creek on the neighbors’ farms. No wonder he could later get around Mexico fields without getting lost. He must have inherited Gerald’s dad’s excellent sense of direction.

Gerry made sure his grandsons could go with him if they wanted when he took the bird dogs out to flush quail. And a midnight rabbit hunt for Wednesday and Thursday nights was a big deal. Although they felt the need to go back to Texas, we were grateful Tara could not resist staying for the annual Johnson family gathering held last night at her Uncle Louie and Aunt Chris’s house this year.

After all the drizzling and rainy weather, we relished Thursday's gorgeous weather. Dogs and people played in the yard without coats yesterday afternoon. Gerald had worked hard and outfitted a wagon with seats to haul folks behind the Gator, and he was able to take everyone for rides around the lake. Everyone was properly impressed that Payton, a kindergartener, was able to drive the Gator responsibly and well!

Gerry, Vickie, and Geri Ann stayed for Christmas dinner at Mary Ellen and Brian’s house today. They had bird dogs to deliver to Texas, and Gerry and Gerald spent the morning building a platform to also haul home a repaired four-wheeler. Vickie was her usual patient and understanding self as she laughed about their rivaling the Clampets of hillbilly fame. Geri Ann just shook her head.

Mary Ellen’s long table for eleven was beautiful, and the meal was marvelous topped off with pies and Brianna’s baked goodies. Since Trent had to leave early yesterday to go to work, we enjoyed the longer visit with him today. Sam was able to show us a photo of his brother Dave and wife Kristy with his new niece Lila Rose born this very morning!

Folks sent Erin back to the farm to bring Ruby over to play with Fifi, which turned out to be interesting. Fifi, eleven years old, did not appreciate a youngster like Ruby wanting to play and she told her so in no uncertain terms. Ruby interpreted Fifi’s barks as encouragement to keep jumping at her and playing. But all ended well, and we had a peaceful time together.

After gift opening, we hugged and waved off Gerry, Vickie, Geri Ann and their dogs. The rest of us drove into to Marion to Katherine’s house, and she got to enjoy Mary Ellen’s yummy food while we visited with her. Her wonderful aide Connie had come in this morning to give her breakfast and morning pills and help her be dressed and in her wheelchair for our visit.

Mary Ellen had prepared the Saran Ball game full of small gifts for us. The huge heavy ball was passed around the circle while the person beside the player tossed dice until a double showed up. If we could get enough wrap off during this tossing, we won a gift. Everyone played with great enthusiasm and much laughter as we tried to unwrap the ball and get to the gifts. By the time the last piece of wrap came off, we all had some goodies to take home and make us feel we had won.

All good times have to end. Gerald and Sam put Katherine back to bed with the Hoyer. I gave her pills; and after goodbyes, we left her to watch a special gift from Connie on her television.

It is now well past midnight and time for me to quit reflecting and turn off the Christmas trees and get in bed. I think Erin is back from a final visit with Candace and the twins—her little godsons. So to all a good night.

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