Friday, August 29, 2008

Because of Winn-Dixie

From Salinas, California, to Orlando, Florida, my brother and his driving partner hauled a load of blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. When they arrived at the WD warehouse, their load was refused.

My brother, Boyd, says his partner has never had this happen to him before. I told them, "Welcome to Florida." :-(

Since they weren't allowed to unload, they had to scramble to find a place who would take the load. This took most of the day since it was already unloaded at the WD warehouse, waited for inspection, then refused, then had to be reloaded. At 5:30 pm he called and told me they had to be in Atlanta by morning, so he wouldn't be able to stay the night.

We quickly drove up to where the semi was parked so we could have a few hours with him. As we arrived and I saw him sitting in the cab of his truck, I said to Himself and the girls, "Oh Lord, he looks exactly the same!"

Meanwhile, Boyd was saying to his partner in the cab of the truck, "Oh Lord, she looks just like my mom!" :-D

I couldn't stop hugging him, and we both had tears on our cheeks. He met Glenna for the first time! Ty was playing a show in Lakeland, hoping to catch up with Uncle Boyd this evening. Unfortunately, he had to miss seeing him.

We had until 8:30 while his driving partner slept, so we drove him back to our house to sit a spell. We talked and talked, we called my Dad, and too soon we had to drive him back to the truck.


It's so unusual to see him scruffy like this. He had been on the road since Tuesday and his partner isn't fond of stopping long enough for showers. Back in CA, Boyd would stop, take a shower, get a haircut, and hit the road again. His shirt was always tucked and he was always clean-shaven.

To me, he looked great!
Glenna said he looked like Grandma Ya Ya and me. I laughed and told her a lot of people have said that all our lives, but he's actually my adopted brother. Still, he's mine and I claim him as such and always will!


When we got back to the truck, he offered to give us some strawberries. Himself kept trying to refuse, but Glenna and I love strawberries! It's one of the few fruits I can eat.


Their truck was parked right next to this sign:
Their welcome in Florida keeps getting warmer and warmer, doesn't it?


What's wrong with this load, I ask you? Nothing! Thanks, Winn-Dixie. It could have been fun.

Not that I'll hold a grudge or anything.

His driving partner said he may come to Florida once in a while and could even drop him off for a week or so. Boyd wasn't excited about driving to Florida again . . . he's actually been working as a semi truck mechanic and prefers that to being on the road these days. I can't blame him, it's a hard life. Still, he said he'd consider a visit. I hope he does.


So thank you to all the truckers, and thank you to this truck owner for bringing my brother to me, even if it was only for 2.5 hours! Every minute was worth it.

Flippin' Out

My brother, whom I haven't seen in about 12 years or talked to since we moved to Florida, is here. In Orlando!!!

When we lived in California, we lived right off I-10. He drove a semi and would stop in for coffee, haircut, meal, whatever. We never knew when he'd be knocking at our door.

Today, he called! He's dropping off a load in Orlando, and his partner is going to continue on to Miami solo and then pick him up in the morning.

I am beside myself! Camera ready!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Making Home: Knowing God: The Study of God

Making Home: Knowing God: The Study of God

Well, what do you know! I could have made a link to this post like this! :-) Click on either one of them.

An Excellent Post

Jess, over at Making Home, has put up such a fantastic post today. It perfectly expressed how I feel about studying theology (which I love to do) but not doing so simply to puff up with knowledge.

A disclaimer: While the articles on Jess's site are excellent and thoroughly Biblical, some of them are mature subject matters. Use discretion when letting your "little eyes" on the site. The article I've linked to is fine.

Monday, August 25, 2008

School Days and Migraine Update

Our first week of school passed smoothly.

Too smoothly.

I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. Surely, I can't be getting up on time, having quiet time, eating healthfully, checking school work daily, and preparing meals. Surely, we haven't finished actual projects. Surely, we don't have supplies readily available and in their place!

It's too good to be true. It probably also explains why AWANA is starting this week. Have you ever been on a merry-go-round, spinning along at your own leisurely pace, when suddenly your teen brother runs by and sends you spinning so quickly you can barely hold on? AWANA will probably be the teen brother to my merry-go-round!

In other news, I had blogged here about my migraines and a diet that was supposed to cure them. I started this in April, so it's been 4 months. Though I haven't followed it perfectly (I often forget which items in the list of ingredients that are actually MSG) I have followed it pretty generally. Here are the results so far:

I feel great.

I feel amazingly great.

I've lost 12 lbs.

Except for the first two weeks, any headache I've gotten has either been cyclical, or I ate something I shouldn't have. Even so, I would take Naproxen, go to bed, and be fine. No need for two days of agony. No need to shut the blinds and pray for mercy. No need for my family to try to function quietly without me so they don't disturb me.

I am so thankful, and yet thankful isn't a strong enough word!

I sometimes (like now) feel like I have a dull headache, but I also know I've been eating my favorite chipotle cheese and lime dip from Costco so it's no less than I diserve. Still, I am upright and functioning fully!

Since it's been 4 months, I'm now ready to start re-introducing foods to see if they trigger migraines. I'm really hoping bananas are ok. I'm really hoping avocados are ok, too. This California girl is crippled without them!

I actually don't miss the cheese so much. What I miss are lattes! Still, I've saved money and lost weight without them. There are just certain times of the month when I. Want. Chocolate. Don't give me that psuedo white chocolate poser, either. If I can't have the real thing, I won't have anything.

So, it's working out.

Here's the book, if anyone else is tired of being in pain.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

An Irish-Catholic Tale, Part VI

It has already been mentioned that the girl to the far left of the picture is 10 year old Sara. She's wearing a dress she made herself out of flour sacks. While that may have been the beginning of her sewing projects, it certainly wouldn't be the last. What would come to an end, just a few years from when this picture was taken, was her formal education. But quitting formal schooling cannot mean that Sara was uneducated. Perhaps she was the first homeschooler in the family? We've simply followed in her footsteps!

Sara was a gifted and self-taught artist, seamstress, poet, barber/hair stylist, cook, and graphologist. Thankfully, she was quick to share her talents with others.

Who knows exactly when the first call for help came to Sara? All that's really known is that she was needed, badly, and she was more than willing to come with her suitcases in her hands. In the early 20's through the 60's, it wasn't unheard of for multiple generations to live together to share the work and expenses. Young Sara was needed to help her sisters in raising their children. The first one who needed her had only one young son.

Marjorie, standing behind her mother Nellie in the photo, was suffering from tuberculosis. Still a scary disease today, the effects of tuberculosis back then were devastating. At this time, the entire U family was living in Minnesota, which was hardly a climate friendly to tuberculosis. It was decided in 1918 that Sara would move with Marjorie to California in hopes that the warm climate would help Marjorie recover. Grandpa U moved the rest of the family to Los Angeles to join them in 1920, though oldest daughter, Maime, stayed in Minnesota at first with her husband and their young children, where she was visited by her younger brother, Matt, and his fun-loving friend, Chet.

The move didn't have the effect on Marjorie that was hoped. She died at age 22, leaving her husband and 2 year old son behind.

Next to need Sara was her sister, Taddy. She and her husband, Frank, lived in Long Beach and had five children. Frank spent his days at the oil fields of Long Beach. With Marjorie gone, it seemed logical that Sara would come to help with the children and household chores when Taddy went to work to help a bad financial time.

Eventually, Maime and her family came to California as well. Though Maime's not in this picture, I suspect it was taken at the time that Sarah was living with Maime and her brood in Randsburg, an old mining town in the Mojave Desert, California. There Sara had a dry goods store called Sara's Shop. Not bad for a girl with a 6th grade education!


Here, Sara's in the top row, far left. Her parents are on the far right. In the front row is her youngest brother, Bill. Taddy's on the far right. Aunt Mary Ann notes that she had never seen Sara looking so glamorous.


But back at the bungalow in Hawthorne, things had been going downhill fast for Rosie. When she was just the age of 35, her husband had died of complications due to alcoholism, and now she had five children to raise on her own.

She may have thought about moving her own parents into the detached garage, which had long been converted into a room for the two boys, John and Terry. Sadly, her mother died the same year Rosie lost her husband, 1945, but Grandpa Matt soon moved into the garage with the boys.


While she cared for her children and cooked Grandpa Matt his favorite Irish meals - boiled ham, cabbage, oatmeal, fried scrapple with syrup, and lots of potatoes - it was becoming harder and harder to go it alone. Aunt Mary Ann writes:

Our mom was one of the earliest to qualify for a new, recently created government assistance program called "Aid to Families with Dependent Children", AFDC, or as it's most often called today, "welfare." She often said that ours was exactly the situation that the program was made for — a mother with small children, suddenly left a widow without financial support. She received a small amount of money for each minor child. It added up to something like $160 per month, and she was careful to make it last. They had made the final payment on the house just weeks before my dad died.

In fact, Chet and Rosie had been looking for a larger home. Rosie became so thankful that they never moved! She would not have been able to afford a house payment.

Aunt Mary Ann also writes:

Johnny (age 12) started working at part time jobs to help my mom right from the time our dad died. He worked at a place called "Hammond Eggs," an egg and poultry ranch, and he worked in a tool and die place and various other jobs while going to high school. He often hitch-hiked to school. My mother used to feel embarrassed and a little angry when the "worker" (a social worker) would make unannounced visits to our house to make sure there was no fraud going on with the assistance. She mainly looked for evidence of a man living there or some sign that we didn't really need the money. Once Johnny's clodhopper shoes were on the floor in the living room (he was about fifteen at the time) and they made the social worker very suspicious. My mother hated having to explain about her growing son and feel defensive when she was barely able to put food on the table.

Still, she carried on until the baby, Rita, was ready for school. Ultimately, she knew it was time to work full time. Who would care for the house and children? What Rosie really needed was a wife!

Who on earth should she call?
Thankfully, she didn't call Scary Nana with Black Cats. She was pretty well entrenched with Helen and Joe. Besides, her health was frail and there was that whole pious and solemn thing. Rosie tried to keep her home a house of fun and laughter, so that would never do.


But there was one who was born for a life of service to others. Rosie must have thought about her sister and the visit she and little Johnny paid to her so many years (and children) ago in the desert. Would she drop everything and come? It would mean the world to Rosie if she did.

Of course, Sara did. She moved in with Rosie in 1950. Rosie was so relieved to know her children would be in Sara's excellent care while she went off to work. Sara would be the one to prepare the meals and keep the house in order. She would also teach each of the girls to sew, cook, clean, crochet, and take care of themselves. Again from Aunt Mary Ann:

Aunt Sara was a great seamstress, and she made clothes for us. Before she came, we got mostly charity donations. We did have to buy school uniforms, and I remember it was a big expense for us. We wore them until they were faded and falling apart.

Everyone seemed thrilled with the arrangement. Everyone, that is, except this little girl:
This is my MIL, Kathleen, at age 2. She tells the story of Sara's arrival with a smile and a twinkle in her eye, now, but it wasn't so amusing to her back then. Eight year old Kathleen had her mother's number, and she liked it that way. As she tells it, she pretty much did as she pleased. For example, if she didn't like what Rosie had prepared for supper she would simply head to the kitchen and fix herself a sandwich.

Then Sara moved in.

Their first dinner together was a meal Kathleen didn't particularly care for. As usual, she headed for the kitchen to make herself a sandwich. Sara exerted her authority then and there by calling Kathleen back to the table. She could either eat what was prepared or she could go hungry.

The horror! Her days of manipulating her mother and doing as she pleased were over.

Still, it was a win-win situation for all involved. The children thrived, and all came to have a special love and reverence for Sara. Aunt Mary Ann remembers how excited Sara would be when the girls were in high school and would bring home their new literature books. Sara would devour them. Sara and Rosie would also teach them all, in subversive ways, never to take themselves or their difficulties too seriously, which Aunt Mary Ann correctly labels as both a blessing and a curse.

Rosie and her children, c. 1958. Top row: Rosie, John (26), Terry (20). Bottom row: the amazingly beautiful trio of Rita (14), Mary Ann(18), and Kathleen (16). Uncle Terry refers to these as the "porcelain portraits" because of the way every blemish was removed.

Grandpa Matt lived in the garage room with the two boys until his death in 1948, just two years before Sara moved in. But he wasn't the only male from the U family who would eventually live in that room.

Her two brothers, Matt and Bill, also suffered from the disease of alcoholism. They came to Rosie's house on and off over the years as the children were growing up, sometimes sober, usually not. After sobering up at Rosie's, they often stuck around and did various repair jobs and yard work. They collaborated on building a large addition to the bungalow on the back of the house. At first, it was the three girls' bedroom, and then it became Sara's room after all the girls moved out.


This is a 1960's photo of Sara, Bill, Rosie, Nora, and Taddy. Bill mysteriously stopped drinking in the 60's after a head injury. He stayed in Hawthorne with Rosie's friend, Irene, until his death in 1987 (just a few days before Irene died herself).


Sara, Taddy, Rosie, and Nora. Both photos were from Rosie's back yard. This one was probably from the 1970's, shortly before the deaths of Taddy and Nora.

Things were going well for the R family, but there were many trials still ahead. The boys had completed their education in very different ways. Each of the girls finished their high school educations, taking the same (and one very different) paths.



Oh, and the best was still to come!


Friday, August 22, 2008

An Irish-Catholic Tale, Part V

In the early 1930's, Rosie had a bright and glorious future ahead of her. Her brother, Matt, was bringing that fun-loving Chet around quite a bit. Her sister, Nora, was about to become a Sister. Hopefully, that would later carry some weight with Mary Agnes.

Here's Rosie and her mother, Nellie, dressed for her sister's Profession.
I have to admit that when Aunt Mary Ann sent me the photo and it read "Nellie and Rosie (Nora's profession)," I thought it meant that Nora's profession was as a photographer, and her mother and sister were posing for her! It wasn't until I read all the biographies that I understood what profession meant in this case.

At any rate, I love the hats, the shoes, the dress suits. I love how neat and pulled-together they look!

Rosie seemed to have a playful side. The picture below shows her with her sister the Sister, Nora. Rosie is dressed as a boy and pretending to smoke a cigarette. She's 14.Rosie was very sociable and always had friends. As a teen and young adult, she loved acting and took advantage of every opportunity to play a part in an amateur stage production. She also loved to read almost as much as she liked to dance. She couldn't hear a beat without moving her feet. She never had a lesson, but Rosie could play the piano by ear pretty well.


Chet was Rosie's kind of guy, a real partying fella. She must have laughed and laughed when he and Matt would talk about their time in Milwaukee and their road trip, or being asked to live in a boarding house by Aunt Kate because of their late hours.


Here's Chet and Rosie's version of a myspace or facebook photo. I'll bet they used one of those old box cameras to get this, then hoped for the best until it developed. Note the matching bathing suits.

From the example her own parents set, Rosie had every reason to smile for the camera on her wedding day. She was fully prepared to be married, care for her husband, bear his children, and keep his home. She'd see him off to work in the morning and kiss his cheek when he returned in the evening. Supper would be ready and he would wash up while she set everything out on the table.

For a while, I'm sure that's just how things went. Their firstborn son, John, came in 1932 and is the squirming blond youngster in the very front of the photo. Rosie and Chet are in the back row, far left, and next to Rosie are her parents, Matt and Nellie.
The little girl in the front row, directly in front of Chet, would eventually give birth to an American Icon. But that's another tale for another time.

Rosie's sister, Sara, is standing all the way to the right. Her role in Rosie's life would also come later in the tale.

Coming from such a large family, it was probably hard for Rosie when she had only one child and no others seemed to be coming. At this U family reunion, Rosie is seated on the left, hanging onto John. Her sister the Sister is next to her, and various family is all around. Nieces and nephews had arrived in abundance, but still she had only one.

Rosie, John, and Sara in the desert.


Six years, one miscarriage, and one operation after the birth of John, the children finally began to arrive. That's Terry with Chet.

Arrive they did, every two years, like clockwork.

Terry, 1938. Mary Ann, 1940. Kathleen, 1942. Rita, 1944. I have probably ended any status I may have had in the family by putting up those dates, but there ya go.


Things looked pretty wonderful in the house of Chet and Rosie. It may have seemed to Rosie like she would never please Mary Agnes ("Have children!" "Stop having children!") but in actuality, Mary Agnes was the least of her worries.

Rosie had a secret.

It was a secret, or she was in denial. Either way, it probably would have gone to the grave with her if an irate son hadn't blurted out the truth one day. Back then, women didn't bad-mouth their husbands to anyone who would listen. They didn't go onto talk shows or internet chat rooms and tell the world their problems. In fact, they probably did everything they could to make sure his image was protected, no matter what went on at home.

Chet's image needed protecting. I'm sure their closest family knew, especially Rosie's brother Matt, but no one really talked about it openly.


I remember my mother-in-love showing me this picture of her father. She and her siblings were all laughing about it, because they had reached a point in their lives where they were able to laugh about it! And because I wasn't from an Irish-Catholic background of R-s and U-s, I had to have someone explain to me what was so funny about Chet being on a wagon.

Oh, on the wagon.

Actually, the joke is that this was probably the only time he was on the wagon!

Chet, the fun-loving guy Rosie fell in love with, struggled with the disease of alcoholism. His late-night ways continued even after the children began to arrive and Rosie had so much on her hands. The thing about society back then, however, was that it probably did everything it could to discourage alcoholics from finding the help they needed.

Don't say anything about it to him. He's had a hard day at work and deserves a drink.

Don't tell anyone else.

Don't let anyone know how bad it really is.

Cover it up. After all, he's not a drunk! A drunk is someone you see on the street, the bums with the brown paper bags. Chet's a respectable man and goes to work! He's not a bum. If he lost another job, it was the fault of the manager/supervisor/co-worker, not his.

Because society forced the cover-up, getting help was rare. Chet's alcoholism was basically unchecked until finally, in 1945, he tried to get help at a "treatment facility." I don't know much about it, but it was probably a place for drunks to dry out and try to start over again.

For Chet, and for Rosie, the "treatment" came too late. On February 5th, 1945, while still in the treatment facility, Chet died.

It was his 42nd birthday.

Rosie, at age 35 and after almost 13 years of marriage, found herself a widow with 5 children.
This is the reason the above photo is the only photo of the entire family. This is the reason the man who walked my mother-in-love down the aisle was not Chet, but her oldest brother, John. At the time of their father's death, John was 12, Terry was 6, Mary Ann was 4, Kathleen was 2, and Rita was not even a year old.

In the biographies, Aunt Mary Ann writes:

In spite of our precarious financial situation, it's a great tribute to our mother that we never felt deprived. We rarely had new clothes or toys, but it didn't matter. I remember Mother trying to decide whether to buy me some needed new shoes or spend the ten dollars on a dental filling. It seemed like a normal dilemma at that time.

Our life seemed rich with fun and imagination and love. We always had nourishing, home-cooked meals, lots of laughs, and the sure sense that our mother would always be there, always take good care of us, and she did.


From that day forward, Rosie knew she had to go it alone. In the above picture, she's with my MIL, Kathleen.
Above are Rita, Kathleen, and grandpa CT (on a rare visit to his home base of California). Alcoholic or no, I can't help but grieve for these two little girls who knew their father the least.

I grieve for all of them, but this isn't an Irish-Catholic story about grief. Far from it! It's an Irish-Catholic story of triumph.
Kathleen and Rita in 2006.

Before it could become a story of triumph, there was a long road to walk. Their walk would become even more interesting with the arrival of one woman:

Sara.




*Please note: All information was taken from conversations over the years. Information was also taken from emails and background biographies from Aunt Mary Ann. Any errors are mine alone! :-)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

No Knee Dangling Here

In the previous segment, I mused about whether Mary Agnes ever helped Rosie with the children, played pat-a-cake with them, or dangled them on her knee. I had forgotten about this photo, also sent by Aunt Mary Ann:



Aunt Mary Ann is not even a year old here. She had written in the photo caption, "Hold me! I'm just a baby!"

At least Scary Nana was willing to crack a smile, and she did let go of that rolled-up newspaper! But, why the rug outside? What's the story?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Please pray

Please be in prayer for this dear family.

Sweet Baby James.

An Irish-Catholic Tale, Part IV

California is a beautiful place to live. Where else can vacationers be hours away from both beach and mountains? Back in the 30's the drive to the mountains may have taken longer than an hour, but that didn't stop a couple of pals and a woman in love from visiting them.

Chet and Rosie were a pretty hot item, thanks to the introduction from big brother, Matt. It wasn't long before they went everywhere together.


It also wasn't long before Chet popped the question, and in 1931, he and Rosie were engaged.

Himself looks at the above photo in awe. He can't believe the smile on his grandmother's face. It's a smile he says he never really knew. What happened to it? It's also so remarkable to him how he can stare at this photo of his grandfather and see the faces of his male cousins.



Chet and Rosie were married in December, 1931. Rosie looked as beautiful as a bride should on her wedding day!
Chet was a great fella and they had so much fun together. What an exciting time for both of them. They bought a home in Hawthorne, California, in 1931, a 2 bedroom bungalow with a detached garage.


Unfortunately, there was a cloud hanging over their newly-wedded bliss.


Mary Agnes and Helen adored Chet and wanted only the best for him. They kept a watchful eye on the newlyweds and began to notice something --


Rosie wasn't having children.


This upset the very Irish-Catholic Mary Agnes. In fact, it upset her so much that she decided she needed to remind her daughter-in-law of her wifely duties. After a son was born and many childless years followed, Mary Agnes took pen to paper.

I don't really know the contents of the entire letter, but you can bet Rosie remembered every word. It basically accused her of not being a good Catholic wife because she wasn't doing her duty to her husband by bearing him children. Mary Agnes let it be known to Rosie that this was not to be tolerated. She ended her letter with a stern warning,

"God will not be mocked!"

When I met Rosie after I married Himself, she was already in the last decade of her life. As the years progressed, she began to lose more and more of her memory to Alzheimer's, even to where she eventually no longer recognized her own children. Uncle Terry noted, however, that if anyone mentioned the name of Mary Agnes or Helen, his mother would sit right up, point a finger to the sky and declare, "God will not be mocked!"


Rosie did the only thing she could possibly do. She began to have children.
Here, Chet is pictured with their second-born child, Uncle Terry. Who knew Grandpa R. had some guns, huh?

Rosie began to have lots and lots of children. Not surprisingly, this also didn't make Mary Agnes happy. Her next communication voiced her displeasure at so many children when she stated, "What are you, a rabbit?"
But Rosie kept a smile on her face regardless. That's more than could be said for Mary Agnes. Aunt Mary Ann notes how far apart CT and Mary Agnes are standing in this picture with the understated, "They didn't get along very well."

I love Uncle Terry's face in the photo above. So typical of that age. Aunt Mary Ann is on her father's lap. Uncle John is the boy I would love to hang out with! I want to shoot hoops with him and play cards and get into trouble. The infant on her mother's lap is my own mother-in-love, Kathleen. This photo was taken on the day of her infant baptism.

Rosie's smile . . . I wonder if her in-laws lived nearby, or did she have to host them when they came for the baptism? I wonder if Mary Agnes helped her with the children? I wonder if she scooped them onto her lap and played pat-a-cake?

The smile never wavered in the photos, but there was a cloud larger than Mary Agnes hanging over her happy home.
This photo is the only photo of Chet, Rosie, and all of their children. This time, the infant is Aunt Rita, whom we just said good-bye to this year. The little girl sitting on her Daddy's lap is my own daughter, Kelly! (Ok, it's my mother-in-love again, but WOW does it look like Kelly!) Soon, very soon, their lives would change forever, and Rosie's smile would become something her grandson didn't really know.


This last photo is my mother-in-love, Kathleen, on her wedding day.
The man escorting her down the aisle is not Chet.

*Please note: All information was taken from conversations over the years. Information was also taken from emails and background biographies from Aunt Mary Ann. Any errors are mine alone! :-)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Happy Sweet 16, Kelly!!!

Today, as we wait to see whether Tropical Storm Fay will strengthen and do some damage here at the Sandbar, we're celebrating Kelly's 16th birthday.

Kelly, however, is not at home. About a month ago, she was hired to do clerk-receptionist type work for a dentist nearby. Here's the outside of the office.




And here's the front desk.

Here's my daughter, horrified that her mother was actually taking her picture at WORK. "Mom! You're taking my picture? Now?"


All the other moms of course understood the need for documentation. She has a little office in the back with a nice window where she performs her duties. She wasn't sure she wanted to try to balance a part-time job with school, but then zowza! She received her first paycheck. I wish I had a video camera to record that moment, but some of her expressions were and Are you serious? and Holy cow!

Because we knew everyone would be back to school this week, we had her birthday party on Saturday. Here Glenna has done her panoramic magic to show the guests arriving.
Himself was wonderfully patient and precise while following Kelly's light-stringing directions. The house looked festive and fun.

Most of the kids from youth group attended, along with our youth pastor and his wife. That's his wife in the red. She sat in my house and even next to me while the entire time she had a secret! And she said nothing! Congrats to Josh and Kimberly, expecting their first child in March! He announced it the next day in church. :-)


We played a sort of ice-breaker game. Here's Tyler and some of his friends, trying to come up with answers. I asked 16 questions about Kelly and people had to try to match her answers (she didn't know the questions ahead of time).


Here's our youth pastor and his wife. He wins the prize for the most clever answer to, If Kelly had all the free time in the world, what would she most like to do?
Josh's answer was Hang upside down in Africa while picking rare flowers that make ponies sneeze. Of course! Why didn't the rest of us think of that?


Time for cake! Everyone insisted on all 16 candles.




There were even some "older" guests enjoying the carnitas. Below is ML, BA's husband, and our friend John. His daughter is a friend of Kelly's.

When not behind the camera, Glenna did a great job as hostess to the siblings who came along. Come one, come all! We don't even care. Want to bring your Auntie's first cousin? Sure!


Me in my extremely narrow kitchen, and posing below with Ty. I love that I no longer have to chase him down for hugs. He now gives them freely and first.


Here's Kelly with Brittny and Jake. Jake is now an Uncle! His new nephew is so beautiful and amazing.


Who is this mysterious, well-dressed young lady? Love the short jacket!


Kelly began to open gifts, and her friends sort of paid attention to the goings-ons.



When she opened this gift, though, everyone was alert. At last, Kelly has an ipod nano. We bought it back in February when we still had tax return money, because I knew by August I couldn't buy it. She's waited so patiently all these years! It killed me to have it in my possession that long and not be able to give it to her. It was worth the wait.

Her brother, Tyler, sealed the deal when he bought her some speakers to go with it. Really nice ones!

Thank you, Tyler! Wow!

After that, it was food and fun and fellowship. Himself and I actually went to bed around 10:45, but we're not worried about the crowd. A few stayed over and went to church with us the next morning. So nice!



I keep wondering why I have to fuss with putting the couch cushions back. This photo explains it!

This guy in the yellow shirt is Josh B, also known as Jbass. For some reason, everyone loves to mess with him. Probably because he's so easy going. Here, Zach and Caitliln are posing as Jbass fans.


Our Facebook/Myspace photo. Everyone has one. Right?


This, of course, is Guns and Roses. thanks, Paul!

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