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Saturday, December 31, 2011

The End of Another Year

Well, I lied. I decided to write one more blog post before the end of 2011. Just couldn't resist. ;)

We're ending the year quietly. Not being folks that are wild party animals, we opted to gather at Darrell & Judy's for food and fun. Jim & Ellie joined us, too. All six of us had planned to attend the New Year's Eve party at the clubhouse, but then Darrell & Judy invited us for dinner. No brainer there – we all knew we would enjoy ourselves even more just hanging out together. So, we did.

Judy made a great dinner of lasagne and tossed salad. Ellie brought delicious garlic bread. Yeah, I know; I'm a loser, I didn't bring anything. Wait! I brought my sense of humor!! Oh, and I brought Randy, too. Does that count?

As expected, we had a great time. Lots of laughter, as you can imagine.

Judy & EllieJudy & Ellie

Our hostsDarrell & Judy

Sorry, I didn’t get a picture of Jim.

All too soon, it was creeping up on 9pm and we were losing Jim. :) We were lucky; he stayed up waaaayyyy past his bedtime to party with us. Randy & I stayed late, until 10pm!!

Of course, in the Rver's world, 9pm is midnight! At least, that's what they tell us.

So, we're home and as I write this, it's 10:37pm Central time. We're gonna be able to watch the ball drop in Times Square at 11pm. Then, we can get to sleep! :) Isn't that great?

Tomorrow is moving day. We're off to our new adventure, workamping at Florida Springs RV in Bonifay, Florida. Looking forward to making new friends and having fun.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Winding Down in Alabama

Christmas is over for another year. And while we didn't celebrate it in our usual way, by going home to the East Coast, it was nice. Very quiet, but nice. And with technology that allows us to video chat with family, we were at least able to watch the two of the three grandkids open their gifts. And we were able to talk to all of our kids, so I'm grateful for that.

Two days after Christmas we welcomed Darrell & Judy home! They have been away since early November; first working at Amazon in Kentucky, then spending Christmas with some of their grandkids in Tennessee. But, by Tuesday evening they'd found their way home. Then, we had them over for a travel day meal. We were so glad they weren't too tired to come over. So good to see them.

Today we're going to Big Daddy's, a favorite local restaurant, for lunch with Darrell & Judy and Jim & Ellie. Don't worry, Mike! I'll leave a couple blackened shrimp for you – but just a couple!!

(A couple of hours later): Well, Mike, you don't have to worry about me having eaten all the shrimp at Big Daddy's – they were closed!!! But, looks like they'll be open by the time you and Peggy get to Alabama.

After a high-level conference, the six of us went to Kraver's, another local seafood restaurant, just a bit further up the road. None of us had been there, but we'd heard good things about it. And those things were right! All of us were very pleased with our meals. So, another restaurant goes on the “favorites” list. :)

Now, we're looking forward to another adventure. Sunday morning we'll be moving on to Bonifay, Florida for our workamping gig at Florida Springs RV Resort. We've never been to this park and all we know about it is what we've seen on their website and learned from talking to Alicia, one of the owners. But, I enjoyed talking with her and it looks like a nice park. We're planning on having a good time.

It will be hard to leave Alabama, though. We have so many friends here and are involved in several activities as well as our church. But, God has provided this opportunity to put some money away. The savings account is very happy about that 'cause it's been screaming, “FEED ME!” for awhile now. :)

So, that's the plan. Our next post will likely be from sunny (hopefully) Florida. Until the next time . . .

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Merry Christmas Weekend

Our Christmas celebration began yesterday with a party at the clubhouse.

Christmas Eve at the clubhouse

At least 100 of our closest friends (all SKPs are close friends – even if they've never met!) gathered for some Christmas carol singing, food, and presents. Dale & Phyllis did a great job of leading the singing, with everyone joining in with gusto. Then, we ate, of course. RVers can't gather without food being a part of the agenda. Everyone brought finger foods to share with each other.


Lastly, there was fun present exchange.

Present exchange

Folks who brought presents sat in a huge circle and, as the narrator read a story, shifted presents from left to right and back again until the story was over. It was as much fun to watch as it was to participate, I think!

We expected to video chat with the kids today, but Kevin called on last evening because they were opening gifts then. So, we got Facetime (it's an iPhone thing) going and Randy & I got to watch AubreyLynn and her parents open gifts! Isn't technology phenomenal! Even though we couldn't be with them physically, we were able to see their joyful faces as they celebrated. And oh, that AubreyLynn is just a doll baby! She is a talker, too. Hmmmm . . . where does she get, I wonder??? Kevin & Sam are doing well, too. It was just so good to see them.

This morning we celebrated Christmas in a very unusual way for us, but not for the church we've called home for the past three winters. Our church is a member of the Evangelical Covenant denomination which is Swedish at its roots. And tradition is that we begin Christmas Day with an early morning worship service. And I mean, early – service began at 5:30am! Julotta (YOO luh tuh) was explained this way in the worship bulletin:

An early morning welcome to the Christ Child, the Light of the World, has been a high point of the Christmas celebration in Sweden since the earliest days of Christianity.

After the Christmas Eve supper, the people living farthest from church would start out in their gaily-decorated sleighs or on foot. In the remote country areas, lighted candles placed in farmhouse windows would shine across the paths of the worshippers. With torches burning as they went, they would be joined by ore and more Christian neighbors, until at last, the groups would converge on the church, and then throw their torches into a great bonfire.

The people gathered into the brightly lit and decorated sanctuary to hear the Christmas story and worship the Lord Jesus. They sang their beloved hymns . . . Then Christmas, regarded as a Holy Day, was spent quietly in the homes with family.

During our service, the Scripture account of Jesus' birth was read in Swedish and English.

It was really neat to begin our Christmas day in a way that was so different for us. Since we couldn't be with our “real” family this year, it was wonderful to be with our church family. This body of believers has truly become family to us. And we will miss them when we leave next week. But, we'll be together again some day.

We got home from church a little after 7am and after walking Blackie, we got on the phone and Facetime'd with Reagan and her daddy & mommy. Again, it was just fantastic to watch them open gifts and to see all the goodies Reagan has amassed already. We spent close to an hour video chatting with them. Gosh, it's so hard not to be there, but again I'm grateful for what we were able to do.

After all that excitement, Randy & I settled down to watch some TV and nap. After all, we'd been up since 4:15 this morning! :)

Around 1:30 we had our Christmas dinner of ham, green bean casserole, and yams. It was pretty good. But, very weird with it being just the two of us.

Now we're settled back into our recliners and the mini-series, “Lonesome Dove,” is on. Guess that's how we'll spend the rest of our day.

We truly wish each of you a wonderful Christmas celebration, hoping that you feel the love and peace that comes with the birth of Jesus.

Until the next time . . .

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Holiday Festivities Begin

Wednesday evening we went to dinner to celebrate our anniversary. We asked Jim & Ellie to join us and they did. We decided to try a new-to-us restaurant, Sea & Steak, in Loxley which is about 15 miles north of us. The decision to go there was based on us having a coupon – isn't that romantic! :) But, we hadn't ever heard anything bad about it, so we figured, what the heck.

Well, it was with a bit of trepidation that we entered the restaurant because there was ONE car in the parking lot. Of course, it was a Wednesday and just 5:30pm . . . Anyway, the four of us soldiered on and decided how bad could it be. The reason there was only one car in the lot? BECAUSE THE PLACE WAS EMPTY!! Oh, excuse me. There was a waitress and a cook. So, we weren't totally alone!

The four of us giggled a bit and sat at a table (the waitress graciously allowed us to choose wherever we wanted!). We ordered our meals – fried shrimp for me; ribeye steak for Randy; Jim ordered the seafood platter; and Ellie had the grilled chicken sandwich.

The food was GREAT!

What a pleasant surprise. All of us were more than satisfied with our selections. And, of course, the company was good, too. Thanks, Jim & Ellie, for taking a chance and celebrating with us!

Yesterday was the Jubilee Pickers' annual Christmas gathering. We met at Mike & Kathy's ranch (where Randy & I celebrated Thanksgiving) for our usual morning of music

Pickers Christmas gathering Jim, Herb & Gayle

and then we had a potluck meal.

Lots of good food! Everyone's ready to eat

It was a bittersweet day for me as it was my last session with the Pickers for this season. What a fine group of folks they are.

We had nothing on the calendar today – nothing. Very unusual lately. So, Randy decided we needed to go out to breakfast. Who am I to argue with my husband? :) On our way to IHOP, we stopped at a local discount shoe store so I could pick up a pair of decent sneakers. I figured I'll be on my feet quite a bit once we start working, so I need a good pair of shoes. Found a pair of New Balance; paid more than I wanted, but they were still on sale. So, I bought them. Then, it was on to a yummy breakfast. Afterward, we took the scenic route home through Daphne, Fairhope and Point Clear. It's a lovely drive, with beautiful homes that sit on Mobile Bay.

Tonight we went Christmas caroling! I love to sing and caroling is usually so much fun. And it was!Randy even went. A bunch of us met at the clubhouse and walked through the campground, singing as we went. The weather has turned chilly again, so it felt like Christmas. A great way to start Christmas weekend.

Until the next time . . .

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Another Year!

Today is our 26th wedding anniversary!

December 21 1985IMG_0025

Dang, it sure doesn't seem like 26 years. Seems like only yesterday Lindsay came up to me and said, “RandyDad wants to know if you'll marry him.” And then she handed me a beautiful emerald engagement ring!

We have had a fabulous ride on this marriage roller coaster. Sure, there have been some rough curves thrown at us, but because we had determined from the beginning to meet each one holding on it each other, we've weathered them and come out on the other side stronger than before.

Since Randy and I had both been married before, we knew the odds were against us making this marriage a success. However, we talked long and hard about what we had done wrong in our first marriages and how we wanted to avoid repeating those errors. And I give Randy so much of the credit of our success – his easygoing, patient attitude sure made life much easier than it could have been.

And we both know that it is because we placed God first in our marriage that it has been successful. God brought us together and we are forever grateful to Him for that. He is the glue in this marriage.

And even after having been full-time RVing for seven and a half years, I can honestly say our relationship is as strong or stronger than ever. That's a major accomplishment right there – 'cause living 24/7 in 450 square feet isn't always easy!! :)

So, happy anniversary to us! Looking forward to more years of adventure!

Monday, December 19, 2011

I Think We’re Gonna Survive

Well, the remainder of last week sure didn't go according to plan! After a fun evening on Wednesday night with our church at the hayride/bonfire/hot dog roast, I woke up Thursday morning feeling very lethargic – seems the cold had hit with a vengeance.

I was supposed to go to Pickers and play music all morning and then to a gig with them in the afternoon. No way was I going to be able to do that. I was hoping to rest and relax all day so I could go to the gig we had on Friday. Well, that didn't happen either. I woke up Friday feeling even worse.

And to top it off, Randy got it, too! The obedient girl that I am, I shared with him; just as my mother taught me. :)

However, we both rallied long enough to go to dinner at the clubhouse Friday evening. Nothing's gonna keep me from attending a meal that I don't have to cook! ;) Jim & Ellie attended, too, so we got some time in with them. Double bonus!

Saturday went just about the same as Thursday and Friday. Although, I did manage to do a couple loads of laundry. Lucky me.

Sunday morning both of us were feeling much better. Not sure why, but we weren't asking questions. Off to church we went. The choir was doing its Christmas program, so I was very glad that I was able to participate in that. After a lazy afternoon, we went back to church in the evening to watch the Sunday School classes (ALL ages!) put on a variety-type program. Everyone did a great job. There was a fellowship afterward with finger foods. Church folks sure do know how to eat! (Kinda like RVers!)

I woke up this morning feeling like I went backwards a day – very stuffy and a headache. But, after a couple of cups of coffee and some breakfast, I pushed myself out the door to Curves. I wasn't looking forward to that even more than usual because I hadn't exercised in a week! And anyone knows that a week off of exercise might as well be a year. But, I survived 30 minutes of Curves/Zumba and am not recuperating at home. :)

Despite feeling a bit under the weather, we are still enjoying life! Hope you are, too.

Enjoying life

Until the next time . . .

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

And the Fun Continues . . .

Since I left you last Friday, our schedule has continued to be fun-filled. :)

Saturday we hung out at home. The weather was damp and chilly, so home was the best place to be! Well, I did do laundry. :) Sunday morning found us at church, as usual. I sung my solo, “O Holy Night,” and people were very kind. However, I know I didn't sing as well as I have in the past, so I really appreciated their encouraging words!

After church we went to Radio Shack to check out their sale on the iPhone 4S. They had a $30 dollar deal AND I could trade in my iPhone 3 and get a further discount. What a deal! :) Well, I went for it and am now the proud owner of an iPhone 4S. It's not that much different but I now have “Facetime” which means I can video chat with my kids by just making a phone call. How cool is that!

Sunday evening was the annual “Flatulence Fest” at the clubhouse. And yes, it is exactly what it sounds like – a meal of bean-filled dishes. Folks sign up to bring a dish that must include some type of bean. Then we all pay a $3 donation (proceeds went to our local fire department) and walk around sampling as many of the dishes as we want. It's a cheap dinner, folks! Plus, it's fun. We also stayed for the Ice Cream Social afterward.

Monday turned out to be a very busy day. Randy drove me to Curves so while I was exercising, he got one of our propane tanks filled. Then, I had a gig with Jam N Folks. We played for the luncheon of a group of breast cancer survivors, “Bosom Buddies. “ A privilege to do that! From there, I rushed home, changed my clothes and we were off to Jim & Susan's for a late lunch of fried fish, french fries, cole slaw and baked beans. Jim's fried fish is the only fish I like. The best part was finally getting some time with Jim & Susan. We haven't visited with them since we got here – and we've been here six weeks!

Monday evening I went to the Covenant Women's Salad Supper. This is an annual event for the women of our church and my first time participating. Everyone brings a salad or dessert and spends the evening visiting with each other. I so enjoyed this. I've said before that one of the few things I miss in this full-timing lifestyle is having a church home. This is as close as I get, when we're in Alabama. And I just love these women. They have made me one of their own.

And we all need to feel connected, don't we? :)

Yesterday should have been a music day, but I woke feeling a little funky; like I was getting a cold. (This morning proved that I was right!) So, I stayed home and vegged. However, I rallied enough to keep our dinner date with Jim & Ellie. We went to Lambert's for an early dinner. As usual, there was way too much food, but it was oh, so good! And, of course, the company was great, too!

One of our park residents decorated their tractors for Christmas. Isn't that cool!

Decorated tractors

We had our Christmas parade here in the park this afternoon. It was a bit on the lean side, with just a few participants, but those who did were having a good time! These folks will decorate anything! :)

Plantation Christmas ParadeP1130966 P1130967 P1130970 P1130973

Tonight we went to our church's hayride/bonfire/hot dog roast. It was the perfect night for it – not too cold, but the fire was still nice. It was fun sitting around talking to folks. You just don't get that chance during church. I told Randy when we got home that I think we could have a very nice life here someday.

Until the next time . . .

Friday, December 09, 2011

A Very Full Week

Our week started with the birthday of our “baby,” Kevin. He turned 25 years old this past Monday. Seems like just yesterday we were oohing and aahing over him when we brought him home from the hospital. Now, we ooh and aah over his baby girl. We are proud of the man Kevin is becoming and the beautiful family he has made. We look forward to what God has in store for Kevin, Samantha and AubreyLynn and we love you all. (I need an updated family picture!)

Happy family

The rest of the week has been filled with music!

Monday and Tuesday evenings Randy performed with the Baldwin Pops in their annual Christmas concerts. Dick, Pat, and I attended the Monday evening concert in Foley. As usual, the program was filled with fabulous music. I am so glad Randy is using his wonderful musical talent. It would be great if we could find a band like the Pops when we get to Florida.

This picture of the Pops is from a couple of years ago.

Baldwin Pops

I didn't take a picture this year simply because it would have looked just like this one! :)

Tuesday morning I played music with Jam 'N Folks. We practiced for our Christmas performance on Thursday. Wednesday night I attended choir rehearsal.

Thursday morning was the weekly jam session with Jubilee Pickers. One of our members' wives was kind enough to provide us with a scrumptious lunch of homemade gumbo, salad, sandwiches, and yummy chocolate desserts. It was such a kind thing to do!

Thursday afternoon was our Jam 'N Folks performance. We do this Christmas performance each year at the senior center in Fairhope. It is always well attended and this year was no different. Jim & Ellie even came! (And shared the pictures with me you see here.)

Setting up for JnF Xmas program I think I was concentrating! The UkesJim 003

It was a good concert, even if I do say so myself. We always have fun.

Last night we went to dinner at Pastor John & Joy's house. Pastor John is the pastor emeritus of our church. He and Joy always ask us to dinner at least once each winter. Last year it never worked out, but we were able to join them last night. Joy made delicious homemade vegetable soup. We enjoyed a good meal and good conversation. Before we knew it, three hours had flown by! It was fun getting to know these precious folks better.

Today was a much more laid-back day. Well, for me at least. I did go to Curves and got in an hour Zumba workout. But, the rest of the day was spent not doing much of anything. Randy had several chores to do – replacing a bulb in one of the headlights of the truck; flushing tanks; changing the sheets, etc.

We also had an RV tech out to fix our thermostat and circuit board in the A/C. Our furnace hadn't been running correctly; the fan would sound like it was going to come on, but then wouldn't. And it's been chilly the last few nights! We were grateful for the electric heater, but it sure doesn't heat the whole rig. It was 55* in the rig the last couple of mornings. But, it's all fixed now.

This evening we went with Dick & Pat to a favorite restaurant in this area – Big Daddy's. Randy loves the half-pound burger and I love the blackened shrimp. Well, I also love the hush puppies, but they are a no-no now. So, I was a good little diabetic and ordered a salad instead. :) There were so many shrimp I had enough left to bring home for another meal. Yum!

It's been a good week. Until the next time . . .

Sunday, December 04, 2011

And the Celebrations Begin!

The past week was filled with our usual routine so I had nothing blog-worthy to share with you. But, things changed on Friday night.

Friday night seemed to be the “official” beginning of Christmas celebrations here in Lower Alabama. All over the county there were parades and Christmas lightings. We attended Christmas in the Park in Silverhill. The weather was perfect – temps in the high 40s and the air was crispy. The entire center of town was filled with lights and decorations, as well as the businesses.

Silverhill - all decorated for ChristmasSilverhill Library P1130954 P1130955

Our church was beautifully decorated, too.

Silverhill Covenant Church

And there was a parade! It was the perfect length – just about 30 minutes.

I'm sorry the pictures are so dark. I just have a point-and-shoot camera. But, you get the idea.

I really think Randy & I were made for small towns. We loved it! Everyone knew everyone else. (We even knew several folks!) Kids were running around playing. It was great.

Saturday was Christmas Bazaar day throughout the county – or so it seemed. We went to two of them; our church's and the Methodist church just down the road from the park. I commented to Randy that I'm not really sure why we go each year 'cause we never buy anything. I guess I just like to browse. I'm always amazed at the beautiful handmade creations: wreaths, jewelry, wooden crafts, baby clothes, scarfs, pottery. I am in awe of folks who can do things like that.

This morning we went to church, as usual. Afterward, we went to lunch at Derailed Diner

Derailed Diner with Schellins & Phinneys

with Dick & Pat and Ron & Ruth. It was nice to spend some time with them as we hadn't since we arrived. The diner is cutely decorated inside with lots of different transportation vehicles and themes.

P1130960 P1130961

Some of the tables were made up to look like pick-up truck tailgates. And some of the chairs were actual seats from cars and vans! At the counter you could choose to sit on a saddle or a tractor seat in addition to regular stools.

Often in these themed diners the food isn't very good. But, we were fortunate – the food was great! Three of us had the stuffed pork chops special; two had the roast turkey special; and Randy got the BBQ meat loaf dinner. We were all very happy with our choices.

The coming week is going to be a busy one. We've got lots of music going on, which is always fun. Randy has two concerts with Baldwin Pops. I've got three rehearsals and one gig. Then, I'm singing “O Holy Night” in church next Sunday. So, we are filled with the Christmas spirit here! :)

Hope you are enjoying the holiday season. If not, please stop, take a breath, and be still for a moment. Then, maybe you can remember why this is the most wonderful time of the year!

Until the next time . . .