Thanks so much for visiting our travel blog. We hope that you enjoy reading about our adventures as much as we're enjoying living them. Let us know what you think - leave a comment or two.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Christmas 2007 - OVER!

This weekend we finished up our 2007 Christmas season with, not one, but TWO family get togethers! Yes, we are a wild and crazy party couple! :)

On Saturday my family came to Lindsay's house to celebrate Christmas. Yes, I know
you're thinking, "Wait, didn't you do that on Christmas Day?" Well, kinda. My family celebrates Christmas in two phases; on Christmas Day my sister and I celebrate with our immediate families, then on the Saturday after Christmas we do a combo celebration so the cousins can get together. But, since Lindsay was going to her father's family for most of Christmas Day, Randy & I figured we'd horn in on Paula's family gathering. Are you confused yet? If not, just wait.

Anyway, my folks and Paula and Lou and their kids came out to Lindsay's for the
combo celebration. We always have such a fun time together. There's food (lots of it!), laughter and presents. We were really blessed this year because two of our out-of-town kids, Joe & LuAnn and her husband, Eric, were with us. We were missing two: Kevin, but he and his fiancee, Sara, made an appearance later in the afternoon via video; and Megan and her fiance, Matt who had coaching responsibilities that day.

A couple of years ago the adults stopped exchanging gifts because it became just an exchange of gift cards, so we figured that was silly. Now the rule is everyone buys for anyone under the age of 18 and for the great grandparents (my folks). Since Kevin turned 18 three years ago, we just have four kids under the age of 18. But they sure have a good time opening their presents!

We have a tradition during our combo celebration. A few years ago my sister, Paula, bought a set of 12 wine glasses, each one had a different picture of the "Twelve Days of Christmas." We all grab our favorite glass (some try to get the highest number so they don't have to sing as much!) and then we sing the song. My bro-in-law, Lou, always has the fifth day. Nobody sings "five golden rings" like Lou. And that's not necessarily a bad thing! :) One of these days we'll have to get us on
video. I don't think the composer of the song quite had the McNeil clan in mind when he wrote the song. But, we sure do have fun singing it!!

This year Paula introduced another game to us. I'm not sure if it's going to catch on quite as well as the "Twelve Days of Christmas" singalong, but we'll see. We all paired up and armed with a pair of pantyhose and several balloons, we had to make
reindeer antlers by shoving the balloons in the legs of the pantyhose! The first pair to do that and wear it won. Well, you can see by the pictures that this game certainly isn't for those who don't like to appear foolish!! :)

It's great to be able to enjoy family the way we do. I am very aware that many families are fractured and do not have the kind of celebrations and good feelings as my family does. And that makes me sad. I am grateful that my family comes together and enjoys one another. Don't get me wrong, we tick each other sometimes, too, but the love we have for one another always prevails. And that's a good thing.

Our last Christmas celebration was on Sunday with our eldest daughter, Ginny and her family. We spent the afternoon with them, just catching up. We hadn't seen
Ginny, Chuck and Tommy for a year. Actually, we hadn't seen Chuck for much longer than that. Last year at Christmas, he was sick, so we didn't get to see him then. Our grandson, Tommy, is growing like a weed! He will be 9 years old in March and is getting so tall. Seems like yesterday when we traveled to Colorado to see him when he was four months old. Time flies . . . It was good catching up with them and getting our hugs in. We'll be sure to see them again this summer, especially at Kev's wedding.

Wow. Another Christmas season is over. Now, on New Year's Eve, it's time to reflect on this past year and look forward to the next; making changes where necessary and affirming those things that were good. I've got say, 2007 will go down as a great year in the Guiler history. All of our kids are doing well; Randy & I are healthy; my folks are healthy; and our extended families are thriving. God is on His throne and in control.

I am one contented woman. Talk with you next year! :)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Day Fun with Family

Christmas morning began with a cup of coffee and good conversation with my friend, Cheri. Randy & I stayed with Lee & Cheri over the weekend through Christmas Eve. They are such wonderful friends and have often graciously opened their home to us. Cheri and I share a fantastic friendship and I am so grateful to have her in my life. It was a nice way to start Christmas Day.

After lots of hugs and kisses (and getting a Cracker Barrel gift card!), we left Lee, Cheri and their kids, Courtney and Marty, about 8:45am to head to Lindsay's house to start the melee of Christmas presents and fun. Of course, Randy had to get the car battery jumped first because it had died!! Guess we'll be getting a new car battery for Christmas! I guess I should say KEVIN will be getting the battery because it's his car we're using! Ah, the joys of car ownership.

We got to Lindsay's after they had already had their family Christmas; Reagan was in full, gift-opening mode! :) At almost 2 1/2 years old, she has got this down pat. We brought their presents down and preceded to sit back and watch Reagan go to it. How fun!! There is something so very special about watching your child mother her child. Jason, Lindsay & Reagan are a beautiful family and we are so proud of them. Reagan seemed to be thrilled with everything Pop and Nana had gotten her. Two of the big hits were a virtual aquarium and a set of tools with a tool belt and toolbox. She was so excited!

At the risk of continuing to repeat myself - and I can, because this is MY blog after all! - I am so very grateful to be a part of my children's lives. Randy & I share in all of their joys, sorrows, accomplishments and the everyday stuff of life. I try to take
a moment every day, often right before I go to sleep, to thank God for the privilege of being their Mom and Nana. All of our children are in healthy relationships, and we have two healthy grandchildren. What more can a woman ask for??

Lindsay & Jason were going to spend the day with Lindsay's dad's family so we headed off to my sister, Paula's, house where her clan and my folks were going to be. That always means craziness and laughter - lots of laughter! And the best present is that our nephew, Joe, who lives in California, was going to be there, too! We also were going to celebrate our niece, Megan's, engagement. So much to be thankful for this year.

We ended our day back at Lindsay's with a computer call to Kevin & Sara in Korea - complete with video! It was about 10:30pm which meant it was 12:30pm on the 26th for Kev & Sara. It was so good to see them! They are having a blast together and Sara is getting inundated with the Army life. It was bittersweet talking with them because, of course, I would much rather them be home with us, but this was the next best thing. I'm glad they are together.

What a wonderful day we had. I hope that you, too, were surrounded by friends, family, and good feelings. I thank God for sending us His Son, Jesus, to offer us eternal life and that we are able to celebrate His birth. I'm grateful we serve a gracious, loving Father.

We have two more family Christmas gatherings before our season is over. This Saturday my family will all get together at Lindsay's and then we'll spend Sunday at our other daughter, Ginny's. Then, we can say good-bye to Christmas 2007.

Until the next time . . .

Monday, December 24, 2007

Our First Christmas Celebration of the Year

We had our first Christmas celebration of 2007! Randy, Reagan and I spent last evening with the Mackin family - Kelly & Kate are our first "granddaughters." Their mom, Amita and I worked together at Grace Community and became very close during that time. Kelly was born the first year I worked at the church and I have fond memories of her in her infant carrier sitting at my feet and rocking while Amita went about her duties as the church bookkeeper. Kate came along 3 years later and is a joy as well.

Amita and James had us over for dinner so we could spend some family time together. We had not seen them since early last summer at Kelly's birthday, so we were anxious to catch up. Reagan came along with us 'cause her parents had dinner plans. It was fun to have all three granddaughters together - they had a blast playing and Kelly & Kate were great with Reagan. They acted as if they had grown up together! Amita's mom, Virginia, also spent the evening with us. She's a great person and we enjoy seeing her, too.

We were treated to a puppet show by Kelly & Kate. It was fantastic! I love how creative kids can be when they are allowed to explore their imaginations. Reagan loved the Christmas themed show which was narrated by a frog!

After the show, it was presents time. Of course, this was what we were all waiting for! Kelly & Kate were pleased with the videos and Littlest Pet Shop toy Randy & I got them. We also brought Reagan a gift to open because, at 2 years old, she would never have understood why the other kids got presents and she didn't. She got a recorder and immediately put it in her mouth and made music! I'm sure her parents will just love us. :)

All too soon it was time to leave. Why is it when you're having a good time, the hours fly by; but when it's not so good, a minute feels like an hour???? After hugs all around, we headed home. Reagan had been such a good girl and it was soooo late for her. We got to her house about 9:40pm! Her mommy & daddy were ready to see her.

I hope that your Christmas celebrations will be as fun-filled and loving as our first one was. I'm looking forward to more this week! Until the next time . . .

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Sara's on her way to Korea!

Sara is going to Korea to spend Christmas with Kevin! Since her folks are still working, we offered to take Sara to the airport, so last night we spent the evening with our soon-to-be in-laws, Sara and her parents, Ann & Steven. We had a nice dinner and good conversation. We haven't spent a lot of time with Ann & Steven, but we are enjoying getting to know them. After all, we'll be sharing grandbabies some day!!! :) Here's a family picture of Sara, Ann, Steven, Sara's brother, Kyle and their exchange student, Mink. This was taken at Kevin's party last summer. And this is my favorite picture of Kevin & Sara.

Sara's flight was due to leave at 7am out of Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia. Well, everyone knows that nowadays you have to be at the airport at least 2 hours before your scheduled departure time. That meant that this morning, at 3:30 (yes, AM!!!!) we were leaving Columbia and heading to the airport. The best thing about that time of morning is that there is no traffic to contend with! :) Randy and I kept commenting that we had never seen the Washington Beltway so deserted!!

In no time at all, we were at the airport, had Sara checked in and ready to go by 5am. With nothing left to do, we hugged good-bye and sent her through to security. And yes, I did cry. (Paula, you'd be so proud of me.) I'm not quite sure why, but I think it means so much to me that Kevin will not be alone for the holidays. And, we love Sara and are excited that the two of them will have more than two weeks together, and that makes me happy.

Not much other news to report. We are still mooching off Jason & Lindsay and playing with Reagan, but will be leaving them on Saturday to spend a few days with our wonderful friends, Lee & Cheri. They have graciously opened their home to us on many occasions and, like Dan & Debbie, are family to us. We sure are blessed with the friends God has given us!! We'll be back at Jason & Lindsay's for Christmas morning and then for the remainder of our visit.

We are looking forward to seeing our other daughter, Ginny and her family next weekend. We haven't seen them in a year and our grandson, Tommy, has probably grown so much we won't recognize him! We'll also be spending this coming Sunday afternoon with our "love" granddaughters, Kelly & Kate and their parents, James & Amita. Gosh, can any two people be more surrounded with loved ones??? We are grateful for all of the goodness God has given us. I can't wait to share pictures with you next week!

Randy & I hope that your Christmas celebrations will be everything you want them to be and that you will be blessed with good family times. Take a moment to remember that it is because of Jesus that we get to celebrate this holiday and just say thank you. Or better yet, sing Happy Birthday to Jesus!! I'm sure He'd love that! :)

Until the next time . . .

Thursday, December 13, 2007

It's Good to Be Home with Family

We arrived at Lindsay's late yesterday afternoon, a day earlier than originally planned because there was bad weather being forecasted for today and we didn't want to travel in it. Plus, it sure didn't bother us to get to Reagan a day early!

It was wonderful to be back with Jason, Lindsay & Reagan. Just being able to put my arms around my girls and hug them for as long as I want is a great Christmas gift for me. I couldn't stop squeezing Reagan and chasing her around the house. We had such fun! The best part of the the evening was "quiet time" when Reagan climbed up beside me and snuggled while we watched one of her TV shows. Then, I got to put her to bed and say prayers with her. What a great way to end the evening.

The weather did turn nasty today as promised. So glad we got here yesterday. We
were pretty lazy today. Just stayed in and stayed warm and dry. Playing lots of games with Reagan - "C'mon, Nana, c'mon!" We even made cookies together!

Looks like it's going to be another wonderful Christmas holiday. I hope yours is shaping up to be a good one, too. As you spend time with your family, please take a moment to remember that the true reason for celebration is that our Lord and Savior Jesus was born and came to bring us all new life. It is for this reason that I am grateful for Christmas.

Until the next time . . .

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Spending Time with Good Friends

One of Randy's and my favorite things to do is visit with our wonderful friends, Dan & Debbie Domer. We have been friends with Dan & Debbie for over 10 years! It all started with Debbie helping me out when I severely broke my ankle on a youth outing. It's been a great friendship ever since. We've been through ups and downs together and have always come out stronger.

Dan & Debbie moved to Birmingham, AL in August of 2004 and then, upon Dan's retirement, have recently moved to Winterville, NC. No matter where they have lived, they always welcome us with open arms and guest room. Our friendship is one of those rare ones that allow us to be completely comfortable in their home. No need to entertain us, we just fit. Isn't it great to have friends like this?

We got here late on Friday night after driving 14 hours from Summerdale. It was an uneventful trip for which we are always grateful, but we were glad to get off the road. After visiting for awhile with Dan & Debbie and their adorable granddaughter, Skylar, who they were babysitting, Randy & I were ready to hit the bed. We knew there would be more time to catch up during our weekend here.

Saturday was a beautiful day! It was forecasted to be in the 70s!! Can you believe it - December 8 and we were walking around in short sleeves. What a gift! Dan &
Debbie had been living in a campground in Washington, NC while searching for a home in the Greenville area. They took us over to show us their camper and the campground (they now live in a stick built house - we told them they needed to stay full-timers!). The campground is very nice, sits along a river. It's Tranter's Creek Campground in case anyone is interested.

Then we ventured into the quaint town of Washington. It's historic and it claims to
be the "first Washington," named for George Washington before Washington, DC. The first thing we encountered were carolers on the main street, dressed in vintage 1800s costume. Felt like we had walked into "A Christmas Carol." It has many buildings and houses dating from 1780 and the entire waterfront is on the National Historic Register. It is this waterfront that drew us on Saturday.

A boardwalk has been built along the Pamlico River and it is a nice walk from one end of town to the other. Being that this is a small town, it's not a long walk. We saw some black ducks with stark white beaks - I've never seen those kind of ducks before! While we were there, boats began lining up for the annual Christmas Boat Parade. At dusk the boats were going to sail up the river, unfortunately, we were there too early and couldn't stay long enough to watch it.

Along the streets were various crab statues. They were painted in different themes or careers. Quite good. Baltimore has done similar things at the Inner Harbor. I felt like we were home when I saw the first crab! We had a great afternoon just strolling along the streets and riverfront of Washington.

We spent the day today just lounging around. We had hoped to get over to New Bern, another historic town nearby, but were unable to do so. Oh, well. We'll just have to impose on Dan & Deb's gracious hospitality another time. We are coming back in a month on a way back to Summerdale . . .

As usual, it's been too short a visit. The four of us can always find something to talk or laugh about. We leave tomorrow morning and head for my folks' house in Ocean City, MD. Looking forward to seeing them. We'll spend a couple of days with them, do some Christmas shopping and then head home to Lindsay, Jason & Reagan. OOOOHHHHH!! Can't wait to get my hands on that Reagan!!!

Until the next time . . .

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Randy's 40th Cracker Barrel

I just realized that I didn't include a picture of Randy at his 40th Cracker Barrel! I know that I told you about how Russ & Pat were so kind to commemorate this achievement but I didn't share the moment. I apologize to Russ & Pat.

So, here we are!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

New Friends, Old Friends & A Beautiful Sunrise

My day started at 6:00 this morning as my body still hasn't adjusted to the Central Time Zone. But, it was a good thing because I really wanted to try to get pictures of the sunrise over the Gulf. So, I got myself up, dressed and out the door to hopefully catch the sun. And I was successful!

Oh my gosh. Standing on the beach, with only a few pelicans and a sandpiper for company, I had the privilege of watching the sun rise over the Gulf of Mexico. I could hardly stand it! I starting taking pictures, figuring I would get the sun rising in stages. Then, DUH! I realized that my camera has a video feature. (Welcome to the 21st century, Terry!) So, I was able to take a 2 minute video of the sun rising. How perfectly gorgeous it was. I've tried uploading the video but am having a hard time. Here's a link to my DropShots site where you can view the video: Enjoy!

Since we had a short drive today, only 2 hours, it was nice to take our time breaking camp. We even went to breakfast at Cracker Barrel with Russ & Pat. And they surprised Randy with a "Happy 40th Cracker Barrel!" sign. It's a hoot. We had a wonderful breakfast (of course! it was Cracker Barrel!) What great folks they are. I think we've begun a really neat friendship. They are heading to Texas to celebrate Christmas with their family. Their kids are coming down join them for the holidays. Isn't that nice? After we got back to the campground, we hugged and said our good-byes, promising to keep in touch and meet somewhere down the road.

We had an uneventful trip to Summerdale. Uneventful is always good when you're driving down the road towing 15,000 pounds behind you. And no, that's NOT because we've eaten at so many Cracker Barrels!! :) As we got within 20 minutes of the park, we got a call from Ron & Ruth wondering when we'd be getting in. Then, upon arriving, Pat & Dick came out to see us. They are parked right behind us. About 30 minutes later we had more visitors - Linda and Joyce came over; then Jan, our "landlord" came home and a few minutes after that Ruth pulled up! These are
ladies with whom I play with in the dulcimer groups. And they already told me they expected me at dulcimer practice tomorrow! :) What a great welcome!! I had told Randy on the way here I felt like we were going home.

We're going to have a busy week. We've got to catch up with friends, hit Lambert's for dinner and then head north on Friday! So much fun to have, so little time.

Until the next time . . .