Christmas 2013

Well the holidays and the year 2013 have come and gone.  December flew by at light speed.  I spent Christmas at Miranda’s as usual this year.  I was able to come in the Friday before Christmas and see Cody perform in his annual Christmas show with his classmates.  That was a treat to see.

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We spent the weekend before Christmas baking holiday cookies and treats and playing games.  Mom, Bill, Clint and Heath came in for on Saturday to have a Christmas dinner and open presents.  Michelle was home with Paige who was sick and Lorna and Steve skipped Christmas festivities this year.

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Unfortunately, Christmas was a little bit of a bummer this year because Miranda caught the flu and then I caught it a day later.  She only had to deal with the worst of the symptoms for a couple days and was fine by Christmas Eve.  Sadly, it hit me bad and I was sick the whole week of Christmas.  It was still good to be with family during my vacation time though.

The boys actually slept in until 7 on Christmas morning this year which was a first!  Caleb enjoyed his space shuttle model I got him and Cody loved his bouncy ball maker kit.  It was the year of remote controlled toys for the boys.  I got them these cool remote controlled fighting robots that we all got a kick out of and Dad and Troy had gotten them remote controlled helicopters.  I was glad that my bee photos turned out so well for Miranda’s gift this year.

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Unfortunately, since I was sick, I had to pass on another New Year’s trip to Gatlinburg with my Henderson buddies.  They all went without me and I am bummed I missed out, but there’s always next year.






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Dad’s Visit

So I had a really excellent time spent with Dad while he’s been up here the past few weeks.  We didn’t always have a ton of fun things to do, but one weekend we drove out to an old hang out of his when he was a kid – a place called Shanty Hollow Lake.  It’s way out in the boondocks north of Bowling Green.  Very secluded but beautiful this time of the year with the leaves falling and the cool crisp air.  Dad had fun reminiscing.

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Miranda, Ben and the kids came in for a visit last weekend and we decided to have a pre-Thanksgiving dinner at Papaw’s with Mary Helen and her two kids Mathew and Austin.  Ben had smoked a ham and Miranda made sweet potato casserole with potatoes from her garden.  YUM!








Later we went to a WKU basketball game.  The boys had fun learning about the game from their dad and thankfully we won the game this time as opposed to what happened at the Homecoming football game a couple weeks before.


After the game we headed back to my place to play some games.  We are a game loving family for sure.


Dad stayed on another week before heading on down to Nashville to meet Lori who flew in to do Thanksgiving with Bill and Paula.

I’m really glad I got to spend some good one on one time with Dad.  It had been at least since I was a teenager or younger since I’d spent that much time with him.  Good times.

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Howard Family United

Dad and Troy came up last weekend from Florida.  Troy hadn’t been here in a couple years.  I took a half day off on that Friday and took them up to Mammoth Cave to check out the fall color.  Troy had never been up here during the fall and never seen the leaves change.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t peak fall color time, by a week, but Troy still took enjoyment in on kicking through the leaves on the trail.

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It was bitter cold when they got here too, so a big change from Florida weather.  It was good to see them and fun to show them some cool parts of the park.  Dad had a bit of an issue doing the hikes, but I took him through the newly developed museum at the visitor’s center.

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That evening Dad wanted to drive through WKU campus and see all the new changes.  We came across the Homecoming Parade that just started so we decided to stop off and watch it go by.  It was fun seeing all the enthusiastic college kids and cool cars drive by.

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Miranda and Ben and the kids came in that evening as well and we headed to my place to visit.  The next day,  we had lunch with Papaw and Mary Helen.  Then, we went to the WKU Homecoming football game.  It was chilly weather, but a lot of fun.  Dad hadn’t been to a game since 1974.  Sadly we lost the game and at the end, Dad took a scary stumble down three levels of bleachers and fell on top of Troy.  They were badly scraped and banged up quite a bit, but thankfully nothing too serious.  Just a scary moment and a few bumps and bruises to contend with afterward.

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Miranda has school spirit for sure!


After the game, we headed back to my place again and we all watched The Conjuring.  They hadn’t seen the movie yet.  Very spooky!  It was a good visit.  Dad took Troy down to Bill and Paula’s on Monday and Troy flew back home.  Dad came back this weekend and plans to stay himself until the week before Thanksgiving.  He’ll be meeting Lori in Nashville to do Thanksgiving with Bill and Paula.  So he’ll be here until then.  It’ll be nice to visit with my dad for that length of time.  Hadn’t been together this long since I was a kid.

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October with the Nephews

It’s my favorite time of year.  The leaves are changing, the air is getting cooler and its the time for pumpkin hunting and winding through a corn maze.

I got to watch the boys for Miranda and Ben’s wedding anniversary.  Miranda and Ben had weekend plans with friends to go zip lining, but needed someone to watch the youngins while they were gone.  So Miranda dropped them off Friday night.  That night we watched Sleep Hollow and the Charlie Brown and Garfield Halloween specials.


Saturday, I had a big day planned for the boys.  We got up early and headed to Lost River Cave.  The boys had never been on the boat tour there.  So we took the quick boat ride tour back in the cave.

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I’d been there before, but I noticed the boat went farther back in the cave than the last time I’d been.

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After the tour we went for a short hike back in the valley there then got back in the car and headed to Tennessee to Honeysuckle Hill Farm.  My cousin Amber recommended it to me and we had no idea how huge and popular the place would be.



It was packed with giant crowds and so many things to do.  We headed straight for the giant corn maze first to get lost and try to find our way out.

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Once out of the maze, we headed to a fun house.





The boys got the milk a fake cow.  They were a little disappointed it wasn’t real.


Later we checked out the pumpkin selection.



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It’s a great place to go this time of the year.  Almost like a farm fall festival amusement park.





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After the farm, we headed home and were a bit pooped so we just sat in all night and watched more movies.

Sunday morning, we picked up Papaw from church to his fantastic surprise.  We was thrilled to see his two little great grandsons.

After visiting with Papaw we headed to the local farm of Jackson’s Orchard.  I had never been there when it was so packed, but there were tons of people everywhere.  We took a hayride out to a corn maze and pumpkin patch.

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We got a little rain shower while we were out there, but that didn’t bother the boys any.  We played racing games in the maze to see who could make their way out first.

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The boys don’t know how to take normal sweet looking pictures, but it’s hilarious all the same.

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After the hayride, we headed back and stood in line to get sundaes and apple cider floats for about an hour.  It was so crowded after that we decided to head home.

They’re staying at their grandparents tonight and they’ll take them back home tomorrow.  It was a great weekend.  Great time of the year spent with a couple of my favorite numskulls.

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Labor Day Weekend with the FAM

Miranda and the boys came in for Labor Day weekend to visit.  It was great to see them.  I miss them so much when they’re not around.  They stayed at Miranda’s in-laws Friday night and I went over to visit with them there.


Saturday Miranda, the boys and I went out to Jackson’s Orchard for the apple festival.  All the apples were ripe and out to buy along with many other farm produce and products.  We sampled some apple cider, apple slushies and apple salsa which was excellent.  The salsa was so good, Miranda and I bought a jar.  The boys had fun exploring and playing on these odd Star Wars-like bamboo wicker swings.


The farm had several things set up for kids and “adult kids” to play on.

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The boys got a kick out of these giant wheel-like pipes they could hamster roll in.

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The best part was a tall slide down some industrial farmer pipe.  It had ridges in it that made your voice vibrate as you went down.  The boys tried it out several times.  Miranda and I even got in on the fun.

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Later that night, they came over to spend the night with me and Scout.  We played Uno Roboto which the boys love.  We always love game night!  Later we watched some movies while the boys played with the laser pointer with a happy Scout.

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I ordered Cody a game Lori had shared with them this summer called Pathagon.  They really liked it so much that Cody asked for it for his birthday.   He turned 9 on Tuesday of this week!  Can’t believe he’s almost to double digits.  Where does the time go?  Seems like just yesterday I was rushing to Paducah to see Caleb enter the world.  They are growing up so fast.


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Sweet, sweet Sydney… aka Syd…. aka Squeakers… aka Sydney Poitier… aka Freckle Toes


My sweet Sydney passed away during the middle of  last night.  She was 15 1/2 years old.  (1998-2013)  That’s a long time for a cat to live.  About equal to 80 in cat years.  However, she didn’t act 80 until the past few days when her health took a swift and sudden downhill turn.


She was diagnosed with diabetes a couple years ago and has never been the same since.  Meds kept her stabilized, but I could tell she was declining some the past several months.  This past Sunday she stopped eating.  Each day, I could tell she wouldn’t eat and she got weaker each day.  Last night, when I got home from work, she was barely moving and could no longer walk.  I knew the time was coming and I didn’t want to stress her out by hauling her to the vet.  She seemed to have little pain except when I tried to move her.  So I let her lay still on a towel and comforted her by stroking her body and loving on her head and ears.  She purred a bit and I could tell it helped comfort her.  


I laid her outside my bedroom door on a towel before I went to bed.  She was moaning and howling off and on.  Clearly in a state of confusion and perhaps some pain.  When I woke this morning, she had passed.  Scout walked over and investigated, slowly sniffing.  I could tell he knew something wasn’t right and was a bit confused.  He’s been real needy ever since.


She lived a good long… life.  My sister, Miranda, picked her out for me as a surprise when I was in college during the summer of ’98.  I remember I was working at a pet store and Miranda brought the new kitty by to surprise me.  Sydney was tiny and dazed from a recent spaying surgery.  She had this funny little grin… all doped up.  I instantly fell in love with her.  I remember she was just a kitten and she kept me up those first few nights romping on me with her tiny claws digging in as I tried to sleep.

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She was with me through most of my college years.  She had to go stay with Miranda and a few friends for a year or so, while I lived with my grandpa, but I was always able to see her.  She had funny quirks, but she was a very intelligent cat in her youth.  She would play fetch like a dog with her tiny mice toys.  It was hilarious how determined she would get with fetching those mice.  She’d wear herself out to the point of panting.


She loved….. to eat.  She got really large and unfortunately that’s where the diabetes came in.  She also loved to be brushed.  I would brush her and she would grab the brush with her paw and try to bite the bristles.  She loved it to the point of obsession for some reason.  All I had to do was pull out the brush and she’d come running over meowing and reaching out to pull the brush to her.  


When Scout came along as a kitten “intruder”, Sydney wasn’t too thrilled.  However, after a good 3-6 months, they finally were able to lay next to each other like buddies.  Scout soon outgrew her and became a bit of a bully nuisance in her old age, but they kept each other company when I was gone and kept bonded fairly well.

I laid her to rest tonight.  Buried her out front behind a bush with a mouse toy.  I have lots of memories to reflect back on which makes me sad, but then makes me smile.  She’s in a better place now and no longer suffering.  I will miss my sweet Sydney.  The kitty with the freckle on her toe and the tendency to squeak out her greetings to me.  Sydney, thanks for all the years you gave with me.  Rest in peace my sweet kitty.


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Dad and Lori visit


Dad and Lori came in for their annual summer trip up north.  They got here Tuesday and stayed at my place through Saturday.  I took a few half days off to spend time with them.  Miranda and Cody came in as well for a couple days.  Ben had to work and Caleb was at summer camp.

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We had dinner at Mellow Mushroom one night which was delish!

Mellwo Mushroom

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After dinner we drove around WKU campus so Dad and Miranda could see all the new changes and updates to buildings.  GO BIG RED!


Then we had our usual family fun game night as well.  Mexican Dominoes!  It’s always a good wacky time!

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It was a good visit, although a bit exhausting.  We had to tackle a few issues with Papaw and get things ironed out for him, but it was good to be with family.

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