December began with six fun days. Jay and his mom began with a three day cruise from Port Canaveral to Nassau and back, and then followed that with three nights in Orlando, taking an attractions there a such as the WonderWorks Magic Show, Gatorland, ICE, Disney Springs, Disney's Boardwalk area, and Circus Soleil. In mid December I went up to Pittsburgh to visit with my Uncle Don, my father's younger brother and about the sole remaining relative on that side of my family. He showed me some of the homes of my ancestors, and I took some more notes on his life. Posted all of that on the Braden clan website, but there is more to do. I probably need to visit him again soon. And, later, during the Christmas holiday, the family got together to again visit Disney Springs and ICE at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee, experience trampoline fun at 2Infinity Air Extreme Sports in Lakeland, and just enjoy hanging out together. But too soon after Christmas, after Robert and his family returned to Alabama, and after Rusty and his family returned to New Orleans for his schooling, the Braden household turned quiet for the first time in almost four months.
November was a good month. Rusty and Anne continued planning for their return to New Orleans where Rusty will begin his doctoral program at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Meanwhile, Bonnie Jane kept the Braden household fun and happy. One of the events of the month was taking Bonnie Jane for her first visit to Disney World, where she had a very good time. For Thanksgiving, Rusty and Anne cooked their first turkey dinner, and it was fantastic. Everything came out perfectly. Also, most of the grandkids participated in fall sports activities, so it was also fun watching them compete.
In October we had more good news: Robert and Natalie are having another baby! The baby will be due in the May timeframe. Rusty and Anne hosted an ordination party for their friend Brandon Footit, and Robert and family came down for a couple of nghts before Halloween to visit with us. Bell Shoals church also conducted its Trunk or Treat event on the 31st, something that Jay helped out, a large and fun event.
September was an exciting month. Rusty and Anne completed their preaching in the town of Walker, Lousiana, and returned to Valrico to stay while Rusty is searching for a new job. Meanwhile Rusty also applied for and was accepted to the doctoral program at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. And we also got word on the gender of their baby; IT'S A BOY!!! Meanwhile, all the grandkids got themselves involved in some type of fall sports activity: baseball, softball, soccer, gymnastics. And Book #2 Delta Dogs was finally done!!!
August was back-to-school month for the grandkids, and for Sandra. Benjamin joined his brothers at the Montessori School in nearby LaGrancge, and Savanah and Seth switched schools to Seffner Christian Academy. Sydney continued with gymnastics. Jay continued to play golf and racquetball, and worked on additional editing of Book #2. Robert was admitted to the EMBA Program at Georgia Tech and will be taking classes about every other weekend through December 2017.
Robert and Natalie and their family; Steve and Sandra and their family; Nanny; and Jay gathered in Tampa for a cruise on the Carnival Paradise from July 18-23 to Grand Cayman and Cozumel and back. We were missing Rusty and Anne and Bonnie Jane because of concerns over the Zika Virus in Mexico. We also visited LegoLand and did other summer vacation activities.
The great news for the month is that Anne and Rusty are expecting a baby!!! Probably in the mid-January time frame. Wonderful blessings! Also, Nanny was here for a few days in June and we traveled up to Orlando to stay overnight at one of the resorts there and take in a performance of the Blue Man Group. Robert and Natalie and family came mid-month and were joined by Steve and Sandra and family for a stay at the Guy Harvey Outpost on St. Pete Beach. Anne came in with Bonnie Jane at the end of the month to do some business involving her condo, so it was great to see her, also. (That's when we got the super news.) Golf and racquetball remained fun, especially as my golf was pretty decent.
May was a busy month. Savanah received a late birthday present on May 14 when Sandra and I took her to Discovery Cove. She was surprised, and we all had a fun time. On May 20, I flew up to Robert's house to help Benjamin celebrate his seventh birthday. Rusty and Anne were able to be there for part of the weekend, so that was very nice. Sydney continued with gymnastics, now taking classes twice a week. Seth completed his baseball season and I think he had a good time. But we learned that he may have a medical problem in his right arm and that will need some attention. Sandra got away for a day trip to Universal Orlando and invited me to join them, and that was nice. Over the Memorial Day weekend, the entire Roberts family went to Universal Orlando and that was fun. Golf and racquetball stayed good; I seem to be making some "regular" money at golf. Not a lot, but winning always beats not winning. I did finish Book #2 to the point where I sent it to the printer for a Proof copy. Also made some necessary editing and content corrections to Book #1, and they should both be online very early this month. Not sure if there will be another writing project, but it's possible.
A lot of things were going on in April, all of them good. Seth rejoined his baseball team, Sydney began gymnastic lessons, Benjamin started soccer, and Everett began T-ball. Sydney and Savanah participated in Bible Buddies and Bible Drill competition, and Savanah - in her first year - went on to state competition. Also, Sandra and I flew into New Orleans and traveled up to Walker, Louisiana, for Bonnie Jane's first birthday, and that was a very nice time. Stayed busy enough that I did not finish my second round of editing on Book #2 but am determined try to finish it the first week in May.
March was a big birthday month. Savanah turned 16!!!! She already has her Learners Permit and it won't be long before she will be driving on her own. Now if Steve and Sandra will just spring for some wheels - nothing new but maybe something like a 2014 Mustang convertible. Went to the State Fair and also to the Strawberry Festival, and made another trip to Universal Orlando with Sandra and family. Spent a few days with Rex Benedict in Melbourne where he gave me a golf lesson and we did some fishing. Played racquetball in the Polk County Senior Games. Also celebrated Nanny's 95th birthday early when Ellen and I joined Mom for a cross Canada train trip from Vancouver to Toronto. Conducted my second round of editing on Book #2 and discovered I still have a lot of work to do.
Rec League Youth Baseball started up again for Seth as he joined fellow teammates in a 13-15 Cal Ripkin league. Initially Seth mostly played shortstop and catcher - until his season was put on hold by a broken pinkie finger on his right hand, done playing basketball at school. Charlie and Sydney had birthdays this month; everyone's growing up! The family got together for a weekend at Universal Orlando. A good time and we are already thinking about a return; perhaps after a few new rides come online. Sydney and her partner represented the third grade in her category for the county-wide Science Fair. The team received a superior for its project, the highest level award given. Savanah continued with some tennis lessons. Golf and racquetball are still good, and the book editing is progressing. My goal was to finish editing in February, but the work was more than I thought. Lots of loose ends to tie together, as well as correcting typos and grammatical errors.
Weather forecasts for January across the United States included words like “Arctic blasts” and “frigid conditions.” Well, I want to tell our northern friends that we felt it down here in Tampa, also. There were some days where I had to wear a sweater in the mornings until it warmed up into the 70s. This month Charlie joined brother Everett for Montessori schooling, that he is enjoying. Also, Seth turned 14!!! Wow!!! And, thanks to Steve and Sandra I spent one Saturday with them as they drove up to Brooksville, Florida, about 90 minutes away. There we attended the annual Brooksville Raid Civil War reenactment. Seeing the reenactors in their camps and with their equipment and talking to them was very, very interesting. First time I’ve ever done that, and I am a Civil War buff. The day concluded with a mock battle and that was also very interesting. This month Savanah began tennis lessons and Bonnie Jane took her first few steps (pictures coming). I completed the ending of the book; assembled all the (~26) segments into something that will hopefully flow; had it all printed at Office Depot; and am now proofing. About 107,000 words; about 400 pages if it is published in the standard 6” x 9” book that is common to most libraries. Okay I made it in terms of quantity if not quality.