Let's try something new! Since I'm obviously so bad at keeping up with my blog and I'm even worse at sending out Christmas cards/letters, I'm going to kill two birds right here, right now! A blog with a family newsletter built in! Maybe I'll create a new tradition for myself here, but don't count on it!
2017 has been a very eventful year and has gone by MUCH TOO QUICKLY!!! Let's do a recap!
January began my year full of personal travel with a trip to finally visit Brooks in North Carolina. I hadn't visited them since Paige was born nearly two years earlier in Maryland. The visit was just in time as she and Josh left me with the kids while they went to look for a new home in TEXAS.
|This is what happens when Grandma trusts |
that the kids know how to use the air popper!
The Gailey clan is busy learning Texan lingo including "bless her heart" and the difference between y'all and all y'all and adapting to 80 degree temps in December. It's great having another of my kids so close!
April took me on a trip to Kentucky for the first time in several years too. Besides it just being time for a visit, this trip gave me the opportunity to get to know Meg's fiance, Scott, and his son Zach, to get to see the beautiful new home they built, to help pick out clothes for the kids for the wedding and help plan some of the food and hotel lodging!
The whole family (including my extra daughter, Jana) made it to the wedding and everyone pitched in to tie up loose ends and make it a beautiful day for Meg and Scott.
|Emily, Brooks and Diedre paint signs to direct guests|
while Jana creates centerpieces in the background!
May took me to Utah to finally see Barton's new office for his pediatric dental practice!
While I was there, he decided to put me in his chair, sure he would find a mouthful of cavities since I admitted how long it had been since I'd visited a dentist. Surprise! No cavities! Although he was horrified to learn that I used one of my front teeth as a nail file when I bite my nails. (He put some filler on it and now it doesn't work anymore! Blasted kid!) They recently moved into their first new home near his dental practice, but it was just an empty lot when I saw it. I can't wait to see it now that it's a home! I made a second weekend trip to Utah over the summer to see Bart in his role as Sebastian in "The Little Mermaid."
He hopes to do a play with Abigail one day. While she sings very well, I don't think she thrives on being in the spotlight like her daddy does and may choose to follow her talents for piano, dance or gymnastics instead.
After I left Bart's, it was on to Brandon's in Colorado for an extended stay while I took a leave of absence from work to get cataract surgery!
Definitely a blessing to have a son who doubles as my optometrist and was able to get me his cost for my surgery! It was great to spend time with Brandon and his family while recovering and for the first time in my life to have 20-20 vision and to just need one contact or some readers like most old folks! A follow-up trip in October was a few days too soon to be able to go see the newest Thor movie with my four super-hero buddies, cuz seeing Avenger/Justice League movies is what we do when Grandma comes to visit! Brandon's family had the most recent change of the year! Their 5th son was due December 31st, but Sawyer Frank (grandbaby #20) decided he didn't want to miss the Christmas celebration and made his appearance on December 23rd. I think they're happy to have him here!
In July, the whole family took a Disney cruise vacation. All but Meg's family arrived in Florida early, shared a couple of condos and went to Universal Studios/Harry Potter World. It was great, except for hard beds and shopping at Walmart at midnight for groceries! We boarded the ship on Emerson's second birthday and had the BEST time!!!
I highly recommend it! 29 strong we all had our matching shirts on. Each family chose a Disney movie/theme and had silhouetted characters from that movie to distinguish which family they were from.
|29 Sloans on a Disney Cruise|
Meg's Family: Alice in Wonderland
Sami's Family: Star Wars
Brooks Family: The Seven Dwarfs
Brandon's Family: The Avengers
Barton's Family: The Little Mermaid
|Claire & Abigail on their balcony|
Some of the middle kids even opted out of dinner in the dining room with the families to eat in their play area, they were having so much fun! Since cabins only hold 5 max, we did some kid-swapping and I took the four oldest grandchildren with me!
|Andi & Cari on our balcony|
|The beach on Castaway Cay!|
Last, but definitely not least, this fall Sami is one step closer to achieving her lifelong dream! Some of you reading this may not be aware, but Sami was born with several heart defects, which resulted in a brain abscess and multiple surgeries and hospitalizations. She always loved her nurses and decided by the time she was three that she would be a nurse when she grew up.
After years of waiting and preparation, she started nursing school this fall. Although it's hard work and definitely challenging, I haven't heard her complain about it once. Instead I get excited for her, listening to her enthusiasm and seeing her smiles when she talks about even her challenging patients.
As for me... I'm still working with Walmart as a facilitator in Texas, but now I work in one of the new "Academy" stores where we not only do management training as we've done in the past, but also hourly supervisor training. It doesn't offer the same growth challenges as some of my previous positions, but it's still rewarding to be able to share my knowledge and experience to help train and inspire new leaders who will help make my retirement!
I'm so proud of each of my children, their spouses and all of their accomplishments. And I'm most proud of the way they're all raising their children. From the (almost) 15-year-olds to the 2-year-olds, they're all good, kind, respectful kids. I've been so blessed in my life and even through the ups and downs, I wouldn't change a minute because it's all brought me to this point with extraordinary friends all over the country and family I love and adore!
Have a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2018!!!
|Bart, Meg, Me, Brooks, Sami & Brandon|
(And,no, the boys did not plan to have matching outfits!)
|The Sloans: Bart, Emily & Abigail|
|The Nelson-Aboagyes: Cari, Meg, Jonas, Scott, Zach & Sarai|
|The Gaileys: Ethan, Brooks, Claire, Paige, Sloan, Josh & Mason|
|The Carters: Cameron, Soni, Dylan, Andi, Sami & Peyton|
|The Sloans: Brandon, Bennett, Mickey Mouse, |
Barton, Emerson, Krew & Diedre