Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Custom Christmas

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, we had our company Christmas party on Saturday evening, December 12. One of our favorite places to go is Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, and this year was no exception.

Here is a picture of the whole crew...employees, spouses, dates, and a couple of people who are contracted to help us run more smoothly. If we grow any larger, we will have to find a bigger room next year!

We celebrated a couple of big anniversaries this year.

Ken has been with us for five years now and was awarded his letterman jacket.

Doesn't it look sharp? I love these. (I opted for something a little more feminine for my 5 year jacket...but sometimes I wish I would have just gone for it! )

The five of us celebrated ten years in 2009. (From left to right: Chris, Porter, Jim, Billy and myself.) I can hardly believe it has been 10 years already!!!!

Look at these rings...complete with our company logo! They each have '10 year service award' on one side and the year engraved on the other side. (If you click on the picture you can make the picture larger to get a better look.)

These are the people who make my job possible. (Not alwasys easy...but possible. Ha!) I appreciate what each and every one of them brings to the team.

Merry Christmas from Custom Fire Protection of Texas! Here's to 10 more years!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2009 Holiday Wrap Up

Dear Family and Friends,

I hope this finds you all to have had a very merry Christmas and looking forward to a wonderful New Year! We most certainly did and are.

I apologize for the lack of posts over the past few months. The holidays are my favorite time of year, but they also tend to keep me pretty busy.

We spent Thanksgiving in southeast Arkansas with my dad's family. Will actually had the whole week out of school, so we were able to spend an extended amount of time and enjoy a few extra days on the deer stand as well as visit family. It was a little different this year, with all the celebrations to participate in...but it was so nice to be able to share in the things that those who live nearby may sometimes take for granted.

I was able to attend a bridal shower for Casy and Samantha, a baby shower for Shelly and Troy, and to spend a wonderful Thanksgiving with the family at Rosa and Steve's cabin. On Saturday, the family gathered once again to watch as Casy and Samantha exchanged the vows that had to be postponed in 2008 due to the cancer treatments. What a time of joy and rejoicing! The wedding was absolutely beautiful...and the bride was stunning! The groom wasn't looking so bad himself, ha!

Upon returning home, it was "full steam ahead" as we prepared for our tenth annual company Christmas party. We had a blast! Can you believe it has been ten years since Custom Fire Protection opened it's doors? We have had changes in those ten years, but...WOW! We surprised two of the guys with rings for their 10 year service award. We only get to surprise them...because after that, everyone knows what is coming. We also gave out another five year jacket...that makes nine that we have awarded so far. And eight of those employees (which includes the three of us) are still with the company. We have been blessed, to be sure!

The Sunday evening after the party was tree trimming time. I posted some pictures from that last week. We have a lot of fun getting together for that each year. I don't know how long the tradition will last...but I will enjoy it as long as it does.

Thankfully, I finished up our family's Christmas shopping before heading to Arkansas for Thanksgiving. My motivation was to be able to enjoy more of the holiday and stay out of the crowds. As it turns out, the next few weeks took A LOT of my time doing year end paperwork and getting things turned in to our CPA. I still have a little to do, but it is doable even with the short work week ahead.

Even though I BOUGHT all the gifts (11 kids, in-laws and grand kids X 4 gifts each, plus stockings and do the math!) that doesn't mean I managed to WRAP all the gifts. I took the Wednesday before Christmas to wrap at work...and it took ALL DAY! I started around 11 AM and finished loading my truck around 8:30 PM! Please, PLEASE. PLEASE remind me not to try and do that again!

We trade off the family Christmas between Christmas Eve and Christmas each year. This year was our time to celebrate on Christmas Day. (The married girls set the schedule so that they are able to share Christmas with both families and not make either one forgo their traditional Christmas morning gathering forever...though I have a feeling that as the grandchildren get older this too will change.) So, Christmas Eve meant grocery shopping for me. My darling husband makes shrimp ettouffee by the boat load every year to indulge his family's wishes. This year he even did most of his shopping. (He only forgot the all purpose flour...which we should have had plenty of if I hadn't been so busy that I hadn't shopped since Thanksgiving!) I only needed the makings for Christmas brunch and the supplies to supplement his ettouffee with some seafood gumbo and chicken and sausage jambalaya in case there was anyone faint of heart who did not enjoy the sinus clearing effects of his fantastic ettouffee!

Christmas Day the whole family gathered to eat brunch, open presents and enjoy one another's company. We had a wonderful time and not a soul was missing. Mother was even here. She came the weekend before Christmas and was scheduled to leave the Monday before. But when her car broke down in Teneha, was towed to Shreveport, and wasn't repaired until Wednesday afternoon...we asked her to just stay with us until I could take her back to Shreveport on the Monday after Christmas.

That evening, we had friends join us for the big Cajun feast...minus the jambalaya. Sorry! I just couldn't manage it all!!! When all was said and done, we had 26 people (counting the little ones) gathered around three tables. Can you say LOUD? But very, very MERRY! After dinner, we took the white elephant gift a step further and made regifting a thing to be encouraged. Every one was asked to bring something they had received as a gift, but didn't want or couldn't use. You could also bring something you had purchased for your home/yourself but didn't work out...or you could buy something, but it had to be at least 50% off on the clearance aisle. We had a ball...and who knew that a bucket of popcorn would be the most sought after gift of the night?

Needless to say, Saturday and Sunday found me doing little more than watching a movie or reading a book. I was wiped! Jim managed to clean the garage on Saturday...but I haven't been able to do much more than a few loads of laundry and cook a few meals. (We finally had the jambalaya on Saturday evening.)

Yesterday was spent taking Mother back to get her car. An eleven hour event by the time it was all said and done. I don't want to drive anymore for awhile. Too bad I have to get up from here in a few minutes and make the 45 minute trek to work!!!

One more holiday left, and with it, one more Christmas to celebrate (with the Goode side) - this year in the West Memphis area at Paul and Sharon's. We leave on Thursday morning and will return on Sunday. We are looking forward to spending time with family and enjoying one another's company once again. I just hope Paul and Sharon are ready for the added decibel level that comes with our crew! We are a handful, to be sure. We will be at the Liberty Bowl on Saturday cheering on our beloved Hogs...thanks to a very generous Christmas present! Our first Razorbacks game!!! Can you tell we are a little bit excited?!?! I think Meagan may have even jumped for joy when she heard. She has been following our Hogs all season. Thank goodness the SEC did so well again this year or we would not have been able to watch all the games except one. They don't broadcast a lot of SEC games here in Big 12 country unless they are ranked...and boy, were they ever ranked this year!

So...that is our holiday wrap up for 2009. I will try to post pictures from work. The compact flash will not fit in my laptop and the adapter never has worked properly.

We hope that you and yours have a safe and happy New Year!

Much love,

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tree Trimming Party

A couple of weeks ago, the family gathered at our home to carry on a Goode family tradition...trimming the Christmas tree together.

Every year, each member of the family receives a new ornament for the tree. Usually something that represents a milestone or an experience from the previous year.

If you do the math, you can quickly figure out that our tree has no room for the traditional round balls. Two parents + five children + two in-laws + three grandchildren = more than enough ornaments to fill a tree!

I thought that as each child married or moved to their own homes that they would want to take their ornaments with them. However, this has not been the case so far. They still collect a new ornament every year...but all the ornaments still reside on our family Christmas tree each year.

This year, we gathered on a Sunday afternoon for a late lunch of Kale and Sausage soup and tree trimming followed by homemade Christmas candies.

Brian is showing Jessica the proper way to hang an ornament.

Kelli and Will hanging their ornaments

Derrick has become an 'old hat' at this tradition thing...even though he still wants to know whether or not Jessica deserves a stocking this year. He is soooo competitive!

Meagan placing some of Davin's ornaments on the tree.
As the oldest sibling, she has the most ornaments to hang.

Isn't the tree looking nice?

Putting on the finishing touches!
For the next family tradition, I need to finish my pajama shopping. Christmas Eve always means new pajamas in the Goode family.
How about you? Is your tree decorated yet? Or do you wait until Christmas Eve? Are there any family traditions that you look forward to every year?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

La Familia Goode

A few more family pictures for those of you who have not already seen them on Kelli's Facebook page.

The Rodgers: Meagan and Derrick

The Hams: Kelli and Matt

The Goodes: Brian, Brianne and William
(I can't believe they aren't punching each other or something during this picture!) [Well, they probably are pinching each other behind the back so that I can't see it.]

Jim and Fonda with the Grandbabies
Davin (2), Maddux (9 months) and Brooke (2)
It was amazing. The little ones grew tired of picture taking so we decided to give them a break and get a few shots of just Jim and I. No sooner than Nicole had us in position than here came Davin sitting down beside his we ended up with Grandbaby pictures rather than one of the two of us. Yeah, we spoil them!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Just A Hint

I just received my disc of the family pictures we had made before Thanksgiving. Here is just a hint of what is to come.



Pure Sweetness!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Be On The Lookout

...for two familiar faces during tonight's Houston Rockets game. Jim and Brian will be sitting behind the visitor's bench during tonight's contest against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Shaq and Lebron sitting just feet should be a good night! Go Rockets!!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Still Here!

Wow, where did the time go? It has been a whole month since I last posted. I never meant to stay away for so long.

I blame it on facebook...and farmville, in particular. When I get a few minutes, that is usually where I end up.

Really, it all started before Thanksgiving when I decided that I was going to get all of my family Christmas shopping completed before we left for Arkansas. Two Saturdays and three evenings later...Mission Accomplished! I was so excited. I have never even attempted this before. It was so nice to know that I wouldn't be fighting the crowds to shop for all 13 of us!!! (Well, 12 anyway...I didn't buy myself any gifts!)

We also got together for family pictures one Saturday before Thanksgiving. Hope to have them in tomorrow so that I can order a few for the Christmas cards. Needless to say, that required a lot of shopping in itself. It sounded easy when we planned it; jeans and white shirts...but pulling it off was another story.

We left for Arkansas on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Jim and I wanted to get a little bit of time in on the deer stand before the holiday and wedding festivities began. Casy and Samantha were married the Saturday after. We also had a bridal shower for them and a baby shower for my cousin, Shelly. It was a wonderful visit! Plus we brought a few deer home for the freezer to boot.

We had snow here last Friday. It snowed and sleeted all day long. We didn't even make it in to the office before it started. Unfortunately, it was too warm here to stick. For some reason, Kelli had snow in her yard and she is well south of us. Go figure!

We spent a lazy weekend around the house. I did manage to get out and buy groceries on Saturday and to get our Christmas deer in the yard on Sunday afternoon. Other than that, we watched movies and visited with friends.

I will try to get some pictures up soon of Will's 7 point and of the family portraits. I hope that all of you are doing well.

And I will try not to wait so long between posts again!

Love to all,
Fonda & Family

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

They Did The Monster Mash

Here are the pictures I promised of our little monsters dressed for Halloween.

It was also Brooke's birthday party. Poor thing, her birthdays will always compete with a major holiday just like her Mom's and her Nonna's. (Kelli's is close to Thanksgiving and mine is close to Independence Day.)

First up, we have Davin the Dragon.

Meagan trying to get him to growl is nearly as cute as he is! Ha!

Next up, is Brooke, our Arkansas Razorback Cheerleader.

She refused to do her splits or even use her pom-poms because everyone was watching her...but she still makes an awfully sassy cheerleader.
Finally, we have Maddux my zebra (Matt says he was a white tiger.)

Whichever he is...he sure is handsome!
I tried to get pictures of all three grandchildren in their costumes. However, Brooke was tired of having pictures made and Maddux just wanted to get this is what we got.

Davin was trying to keep Maddux from crawling away.

By the last flash, it looked more like the Dragon was trying to eat the zebra!
Kelli even tried to get them to lay on their stomachs and look up at the camera for a picture. But it was not to be.
Then, chaos ensued.

Brooke and Davin were turning flips, Maddux was crawling all over Davin and we finally just gave up!
Oh well, maybe next year!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Happy Birthday Brooke!

Look who turned two this past week!
Miss Brooke turned two on Thursday, but had her Dora the Explorer/Halloween birthday party on Saturday. She was dressed up as an Arkansas Razorback cheerleader.

Kelli set out quite a spread for lunch...including homeade cupcakes for kids and grown-ups alike to enjoy.

Here is our birthday girl opening her presents. She received a lot of them. Kelli had to bribe her to open the last three.

Uncle Brian and Jessica brought her this cool playhouse for inside.

She also received a playhouse for the backyard. (She is closing me out by shutting the windows.)

It even comes with her very own cordless phone. I thought her expression as she 'talked' was precious. (And yes, that is a dinosaur in the background climbing through her front window...Davin.)

And finally, here is a picture of Kelli, Matt, Brooke and Maddux that we were able to snap in the midst of the chaos which is a two year old's birthday party on Halloween!
Brooke is never one for taking many pictures...and with everyone's camera focused on her for the day, I was lucky to get this many.
Happy Birthday, Bear! Nonna and Pappaw love you very, very much!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Case Of The Disappearing/Reappearing Pictures

A long, long time ago...back in the days of sunshine and know, like way back in June...we took the kids on a business trip with us to Port Aransas. Remember...that was the trip that I told you about where the pictures disappeared from my memory card?

Well, I found them! The mystery was solved when I popped in my memory card and found the June pictures, but no sight of my recent pictures...that was when I remembered that I had 'lost' a memory card earlier this year and had replaced it with an identical card. Well, the 'lost' card must have turned up in my camera bag in June but I thought it was the 'new' card, etc. etc.

Anyway, here are a few pics from our trip to Port A.
A view of the Gulf of Mexico from our resort. They have a lot of dune in that area.
Look at those cheeks! Pappaw can't help but give them a squeeze!
Derrick, patiently awaiting the 'Girls' to finish dressing for our dinner out.
Okay, Mom is going to kill me for this one...but it is the only one I got of her that she was looking at the camera.
Jim, patiently waiting on our table at the hottest restaurant on the island. Trout Street...our favorite!
Will - he looks a little bit surprised, doesn't he?
Brian and Jessica
Oh, no...even Momma is squeezing his cheeks!
Goldilocks...where did she get that hair? I know the blonde came from her daddy (though that was only when he was little) but the curls???
Meagan and Derrick
Davin schmoozing for the camera. He was making his sour face while eating a lime.
Davin and Pappaw...chilling at the condo.
Kelli and Matt were only able to make it for two days...and they decided to make it a romantic weekend without the kiddos. They left the afternoon before we took these pictures so that Matt could get back to work. I know I took some pictures out by the pool...but I must have picked up Kelli's camera by mistake, because those are definatley NOT on either memory card.
I know Davin wishes that Brooke and Maddux would have made it for the weekend... because he had the only chipmunk cheeks in the house!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Trick Or Treat?

The sunshine made its comeback today. It was a beautiful day!

It was also Brooke's birthday party today. (I will post pictures on Monday.)

Now we are sitting around, watching the Razorbacks romp on Eastern Michigan...63 to 20 with nine minutes left in the fourth quarter.

All in all, it has been a day of treats without the tricks!

Happy Halloween, y'all!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Cute Video

Jim forwarded me the cutest video today...go check it out if you get the chance. This little boy may be the next George Strait. I have no idea how to post copy and paste the following address to your web browser.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Guess What I Did Over The Weekend

Last Thursday evening, Jim, Bri, Will and I loaded up the ATV's, the guns and the compound bows and headed for the deer lease.

Daddy and Donna gave me a muzzle loader for Christmas a few years back in hopes that I might finally get a chance at a buck IF I made up for opening weekend before the woods are full of people.

The first season I was unable to make it to the lease because Miss Brooke was expected at any time. The following season Hurricane Ike and Operation: Meagan's Wedding took me out of commission.

But this year...I was finally able to be in a deer stand on opening morning!!! (Not my deer stand which is currently under about 5 feet of water...but A deer stand.)

Date: Opening morning.

Location: Ken's stand.

Sighted at the break of dawn: Several does, yearlings, a spike, a very young 6 point and a very mature 4 point.

Time: 9:00 AM

Everything has just left the food plot, when two bucks walk in. A two year old 6 point and a nice 8 point, probably about three and half years old.

I have never seen so many antlers in all my life! Don't get too excited. These are not Boone and Crockett antlers I am talking about here. They wouldn't even make the outtakes reel for Bone Collectors or Primos Outdoors...but I rarely get the privilege of seeing a mature buck when I am on the deer stand. To see five bucks in a matter of a couple of hours is amazing to me.

Thanks to Daddy's tracking skills and Jim's willingness to drag this deer a quarter of a mile to the ATV...I am able to show you MY VERY FIRST BUCK!

To me, he is the most beautiful 8 point I have ever laid eyes on!

(Don't judge my fashion sense too harshly. Make-up and hot rollers are not needed to entice a deer. And consider the camouflage to be the native attire of deer leases everywhere.)

Saturday evening, Will took the muzzle loader with him to his stand and brought home his own trophy. A nice mature doe for the freezer.

Unfortunately, Bri never found her a hog. (Neither did I, for that matter.) And Jim will have to fill his tags come November when we head back home for the Thanksgiving hunt. Hopefully the water will reside between now and then and we will be able to find a piece of dry ground to sit on.

Hope you had a productive weekend too!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Ghost Story

One of my all time favorite books is The Time Travelers Wife. You may have seen the previews for the movie that was released a few months back...but trust me the book is better. I haven't actually seen the movie yet, but I just can't imagine that anyone can capture the essence of the story in less than two hours.

I was surprised to discover that this was Audrey Niffenegger's first novel. Her much anticipated second novel was released on October 1. Her Fearful Symmetry is a story about love, family dynamics and the afterlife. It is an understatement to call it a ghost story...yet that is the world you enter as you open it's pages.

Her Fearful Symmetry is the story of two sets of twins...Edie and Elspeth who have not seen each other for twenty years, and Edie's twins, Julia and Valentina, who inherit their Aunt Elspeth's London flat. The younger twins, who have never even met their aunt, move from their parent's Chicago area home to London for a year in order to receive their full inheritance. There is one odd condition of the will: their parents may not enter the flat during that time. It seems there are secrets that are just as haunting as the ghost of their aunt who is growing stronger and making herself known to those who frequent the flat.

I will not spoil the story for you, but I highly recommend the book. It was a good read, and yet I found myself taking it slow so as to savor the story...even if it is unbelievable on more than one level.

I finished the book last Monday evening.

Fast forward to Monday night. It is 11:01 pm and a steady rain is falling outside. Jim and I are in bed when his cell phone rings. Nothing strange there as he is the first call for one of our clients. Every time it rains or the winds blow, one of their facilities lose power and the alarm company calls to let us know that we need to get someone out to reset the fire pump.

Jim picks up his phone and looks at the display, he begins reading the number to me. The number is familiar, but it is late and I can't think clearly. Just then, my cell phone begins ringing. Since I have contacts set up in my phone (he just remembers every phone number he has ever called) my display reads: HOME.

As you know, we still have a few kids at home...but what you probably don't know is that we do not use our home phone because we all have cells. We only have a land line for emergency situations (and hurricanes - when cells are always overloaded). Not only that, but the only land line phone in our house is in our office...which you can only access by going through our bedroom.

We look at each other and deem it all 'weird'.

At 11:25 pm, it happens again...both phones. His first and then mine. I am a little freaked out at this so I burst into the office to see what is going on. The telephone is sitting on the desk and when I pick it up it is full of static and playing the recording, "If you would like to make a call, please hang up and try again." What the heck?

I call AT&T and make a repair request. Over an hour later there is another phone call to Jim's cell...and another the next day.

Maybe it is the ghost story that is fresh on my mind...but the phone calls freak me out for a little while!

A few days later it is determined that there is a short in the line and that short is somehow causing the telephone to call the first two programmed numbers. Either that, or we have a ghost!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Meet The Girls


Miss January, the cow who stayed home.

BAD COWMiss March, who led us on the twenty-four hour cow hunt.

I was calling them Cagney and Lacey...but Bri has named them after their due dates.