12.31.16 Reflections on God’s Blessings in 2016

December 31, 2016 – Here we are again reflecting on God’s blessings. During our 2016 travels we explored all of the eastern states all the way to the top of our country in Maine, all around New York state and back down to Louisiana. Here’s a map showing where we traveled this year. Almost 6000 miles of travel through 20 states!!

2016-states-visitedEach year putting this particular blog post together is a big undertaking. However, each year this blog post reminds me of the wonderful adventures Roy and I were blessed to experience during the year. As always we are excited to share it all with you. Our 2016 in one place!

Each month of the year below is a link to our blog’s posts for that month. If anything below makes you want to find out more, please click on the link to take you there! It will open in a new window so you can always come back to this page.

JANUARY 2016

Roy designed signs for Dora, our motorhome, and Boots our truck. We ordered them from Build A Sign and love them!

20151231_132735 dora-sign-on-rvOur son Chip and Misty were married giving us a new daughter in law and a teenage grand daughter!!

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Roy and I traveled to Tennessee for Roy’s full knee replacement surgery. Quite successful! Plus we got to enjoy a little taste of Tennessee snow!

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FEBRUARY 2016

Nothing much happened except Roy had a kidney stone – don’t worry there will be no picture of that!

MARCH 2016

We were given over 1000 flower bulbs, mostly tulips. That involved digging 1000 holes and planting them! So well worth it when we got to see them starting to bloom

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Along with the 1000 bulbs, we purchased and planted three satsuma trees, two fig trees and eight blueberry bushes. Chip’s family helped us with this and this is Kallie (new teenage grand daughter) digging away!

12806257_10207043993032577_4101209079089110733_nWe took our motor home Dora to Metairie, Louisiana (where Roy grew up) the night before the St. Patrick’s Parade and stayed there overnight. Sunday we were joined there by Roy’s family. We’ll be back for the 2017 St. Patrick’s Parade in Metairie. Hope more of the family can join us then!

12814496_907413912710041_968367528670057839_nThe Amite Oyster festival in our hometown of Amite is always fun. We enjoyed the most delicious funnel cake there! 20160320_144841Kallie’s 15th birthday was celebrated at Kirin Japanese Cuisine in Hammond. We enjoyed our first ever Hibachi meal!

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Madisyn’s birthday was celebrated with everyone going to see Zootopia and then afterwards we enjoyed cake!

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Roy installed a television in one of our storage bins so we can watch television outside!! It’s gotten a lot of use throughout the year!

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We left home and headed to Mississippi where we enjoyed our time at TLC Wolf River in Pass Christian, Mississippi, some time on the beach and exploring the area. We discovered the All You Can Eat Dungeness crabs on the buffet at the Treasure Bay Casino. Wow oh wow!

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Wilderness RV Park in Robertsdale, Alabama

Orange Beach, Florida where we played in the sand on the beach

20160406_163105Alabama and Florida border where we enjoyed dinner at Flora Bama Restaurant. We enjoyed eating our chicken tenders and fried shrimp on the second floor overlooking the beach!

20160406_171852Roy cooked his first large pot of gumbo and it was amazing! It’s good to pass this Chauvin tradition along to my hubby!

20160413_100801-mediumStrawberry Festival in Loxley, Alabama.

Dora’s dashboard air conditioner has been putting out only coolish/warmish air since we got back on the road. We took her to B&D Truck Repair and within a few hours we had her back blowing cold air!

APRIL 2016

Roy and I celebrated three years living on the road!!

Madisyn had her first softball game and Misty and Chip were great about sending us updates and photos throughout the game. About halfway through the game it hit me. We have no business being away from home while she’s playing ball. We loved so much the many years our sons played ball and have always hoped she would follow in her daddy’s footsteps and play ball. So after just having finalized our travel plans through the east and north east we cancelled those and headed back home to watch Madisyn play softball!

MAY 2016

We spent a lot of our time traveling from Amite to see Madisyn play ball in Ponchatoula. It was so much fun and I wouldn’t have had this time spent any other way!20160414_173607-largeAlmost as soon as we got home Roy dug holes for and buried several railroad ties for Dora to rest her legs (tires) on.

20160416_125232-medium 20160416_144932-mediumWe were able to get some family fishing time in with Chip’s family and some time having Madisyn visit us!

20160423_123529-medium20160523_1516191Madisyn was sick one week and Grannie had the opportunity to take care of her. We got creative!

13177240_10101962342187824_6631574096151514038_nRoy’s interest in flying remote control planes was renewed this year. He flew a few times with his cousin, Chris Fox and our brother in law, George Roussel.

20160514_123825Kallie graduated from Junior High, and Madisyn graduated from first grade. We got to see both events since we were home!

kallie-and-grannie13254111_871628906297162_7702818923828793419_nWhen softball season came to an end we hugged and kissed everyone and headed back on the road to start, once again, our Northeast Journey!

img955135This is our home in Amite and Dora’s parking space when we pulled out!

20160529_081518-mediumOur destination when leaving home was Briarcliffe RV Resort in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

We ran across this amazing peach farm and factory, Lane Southern Orchards. We toured the factory and bought a bunch of fresh peaches!

20160530_161521Our home church, Trinity Baptist Church now has Live Streaming for the Sunday morning Worship hour. We have deeply appreciated Bob Anderson making it possible for us to watch our home church on our computer each week starting about this time in 2016.

20160529_105405-mediumJUNE 2016

Hardeville RV Park, near Savannah, Georgia

The Savannah Wildlife Refuge

Hilton Head Island in South Carolina

20160602_181354-large seapines-reservationsThe scene from Forrest Gump where Forrest sits on the bench waiting for the bus to arrive was filmed here. They removed the original bench and replaced it with a nice big concrete bench!20160607_155551-largeSavannah Waterfront district was awesome

20160603_172616-largeTybee Island, Georgia

20160605_163940-largealighthouse3We feasted at Paula Deans restaurant The Lady & Sons in Savannah.

20160607_152946-largeWe joined Boondockers Welcome this year. It is a website that allows RVers to stay with home owners at various places around the United States and Canada for FREE!. We stayed at our first Boondockers Welcome host’s home in Delaware.

In Virginia we saw:

Historic Fredericksburg, Virginia

We stayed in New York State a total of five weeks. Our first stop was at Mountaindale at Hilltop Farms Campsites.

Orange County Choppers – two old folks quite giddy getting to meet Paul Teutel, Sr. from the television show.

20160616_140545 20160616_143157Woodstock Festival Site and Museum – The 60s and 70s hippie in us loved this!

20160616_155815 20160616_164623Bear Mountain State Park in New York

Touring New York City was the fulfillment of a life time dream. We rode on subways and trains, toured the September 1, 2001 exhibits, road the Staten Island Ferry and saw the Statue of Liberty.

20160613_124228 20160613_12585220160613_161323-large 20160613_170815-largeThen we went on to Seaport RV Resort in Old Mystic, Connecticut. While there we:

Toured the USS Nautilus Submarine and Museum in Groton, CT

20160620_135500Enjoyed our first lobster roll at Sea View Snack Bar in Mystic, Connecticut

20160620_163724Shopped at Olde Mystic Village

yosNewport, Rhode Island – Cliff Walk and 10 Mile Ocean Drive – one of the prettiest places we visited.

20160622_141028 20160622_141856Saddleback Campground in Northwood, New Hampshire. While there we saw:

Strawberry Banke Museum in Portsmouth, New Hampshire – a unique really old village where everything is still like it was in the early 1800s.

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Kennebunkport, Maine where we ate lobsters at Nunan’s Lobster Hut – scrumptious!

20160625_182136Next we stayed at another Boondockers Welcome home in Vermont for a week. These folks were very kind and even cooked a Vermont style dinner for us one night!

While there we saw:

Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream factory

Cold Hollow Cider Mill

Braggs Farm Sugar house

Rock of Ages Granite Quary – amazing place to visit

20160629_134351Hope Cemetery

20160629_154736Robbins Nest Covered Bridge

20160629_123140Ladder 1 Grill in Barre, Vermont

Twin Ells RV Park in West Chazy, New York. While there we saw:

Lake Placid Olympic Center

20160706_144832We ate Lobster Rolls at McDonald’s – yes McDonald’s!

20160706_140054Ausable Chasm – known as the Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks

ausable-chasmJULY 2016

Doubleday Campground in Cooperstown, NY. We went there specifically to visit the

MLB Hall of Fame – a baseball lovers dream come true!

head_atrium_hof Three Valley Campground in Holland, New York.

Niagara Falls was the highlight of this year’s adventures. I could sit next to the falls and listen to the roar of the water all day long!20160711_16104120160711_121807 20160711_115649A young couple we met in Indiana a couple of years ago were at Niagara when we were, so we met up and had a great time catching up!

ashlimansandchauvinsBeaver Meadow Family Campground in Java Center, New York.

While there we saw:

Goat Island at Niagara Falls – the island that lies between the falls

goat_islandThe Museum of Neuroanatomy (Brains) at the University of Buffalo in New York was a special visit! Yes that’s me holding a brain!

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AUGUST 2016

Rondout Valley RV Resort in Acchord, New York

We attended our first RVing convention, representing RVillage.com at the FMCA Convention in West Springfield, Massachusetts

20160804_105025 20160804_105347We got to tour several 2017 motor homes and do a little dreaming! We found we still love our Dora the best!

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Quakerwoods Campground in Quakertown, Pennsylvania.

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania we saw:

Several things including the Liberty Bell

20160808_152113Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was signed

20160808_140708Gettysburg Battlefield Resort in Gettysburg, PA. While there we saw:

The Gettysburg Battlefield a few days – a lot of history there20160811_15355620160812_120642 President Dwight D Eisenhower’s home.enhs-slideWhile we were away, rains poured and flooded our hometown and several other towns in southern Louisiana, including our home church and many close friends homes. As of the end of 2016 some are still not back in their homes.

13912439_10210465221293997_1454897772140764450_n 13921002_10210601954904557_3874118268839856408_n 13925192_10210465222214020_7083271139729733073_nThe most delicious place we’ve visited is Hershey’s Chocolate World in Hershey, Pennsylvania. We enjoyed the 4D Movie and the Chocolate Factory tour. Lots of fun and delicious chocolate!

20160815_124712We toured Washington DC on a double decker Big Bus which allowed us to see so much of our nations capitol.

20160819_134835We saw the Smithsonian Museum of Air and Space and awesome buildings such as the White House, the Capitol, Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial 20160819_141700 20160819_161753 20160819_16202220160819_123023Discovered the fun of picking fresh peanuts and boiling them while at a Boondockers Welcome host’s home in Virginia. I’m now hooked on boiled peanuts.20160826_195611Roy also enjoyed being able to walk out our motor home’s door and fly his remote control plane any time he wanted to!

20160825_1851071Briarcliffe RV Resort in Myrtle Beach, SC where we saw:

Barefoot Landing with lots of fun stores to shop in and entertainment to enjoy!

20160904_131806 The area is beautiful and we spent another day enjoying Broadway at the Beach.

Boondockers Welcome host’s home in North Carolina. Dorothy and Tommy were wonderful hots and we even attended worship with them at their church. They cooked an amazing North Carolina Style BBQ dinner for us topped off by the most amazing banana pudding!!!

While there we drove to Charlotte to meet my boss Deborah and her husband Aaron. They cooked for us too and we LOVED the time we got to spend getting to know them better.

deborah-and-rosalynWe also toured the Billy Graham’s Library which was quite a blessing!

billy-graham-librarySEPTEMBER 2016

Yonah Mountain Campground in Cleveland, Georgia near Atlanta. We were busy while in this area seeing:

The Atlanta Braves play one of their last games in Turner Field

braves-10-jonesSeeing Cabbage Patch babies being born at BabyLand General Hospital in Cleveland, Georgia

cabbage-patch-hospitalThe amazing alpine like town of Helen Georgia

Anna Ruby Falls in the Chattahoochee National Forest

OCTOBER 2016

Sherman Oaks Campground in Gatlinburg, Tennessee where we saw:

Two amazing days at Dollywood

dollywoodAte at the Apple Barn Restaurant and shopped at the Apple Barn and Cider Mill

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Toured Bush’s Beans Visitors Center

bush-beans-with-dukeWe toured the town of Pigeon Forge

Westward in Tennessee we went towards the Memphis area. We stayed at Big Buck Camping Resort in Hornsby, Tennessee and we saw

Mud Island River Walk in Memphis, Tennessee

We mailed in our presidential election ballots to South Dakota voting for Donald Trump!

Played in Tennessee cotton fields!

cotton-in-tennesseeRoy’s 9 month post op visit with his orthopedic surgeon in Bartlett, Tennessee went great.

On our way back to Louisiana we stayed on the Mississippi Gulf Coast at TLC Wolf River Resort for two weeks:

Enjoyed the beauty of the coastal beaches

coastal-beachGobbled up dungeness crabs at the Treasure Bay Casino buffet

NOVEMBER 2016

Chauvin’s RV Resort in Amite, LA – yes that’s us and that’s our home for a few months!

We have a new President Elect Donald J. Trump – yippee hooray! America got it right this time!

This image released Friday, July 15, 2016, by the Donald J. Trump for President campaign shows the new campaign logo for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his running mate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. It features an interlaced blue "T" and "P" next to red stripes that evoke the American flag. (Donald J. Trump for President via AP)

Roy and Chip installed new headlights in our sweet truck Boots! Yay she can see at night now!

chiproyWe attended our great nephew Joseph’s wedding to precious Brooke!

josephs-weddingRoy gave our house a good pressure washing

rvillageappRVillage came out with a cell phone app and we have almost 55,000 members!

My work with RVillage was cut back, a lot!

Roy took a full time job as a Construction Project Manager for Henry Homes

DECEMBER 2016

Christmas Day was split between our youngest son Chip’s new home and our oldest son’s home. The very best Christmas a girl could ask for!

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I don’t feel like I say this often enough but living and traveling throughout our country is absolutely a blessing that God has given to Roy and me. I think Him every morning and every night for allowing us to do this. We are far from wealthy people and know our travels have to include a lot of free things. However, its getting to see the amazing things in this country that is most important to us. We don’t have to eat at fancy restaurants, see Broadway plays, stay in fancy places or do everything there is to do. We are simply happy with what we can see and do what we can do! We will do this as long as we can. When He starts showing us signs that it’s time to stop, we will. We are seeing signs that we need to be home a bit more this year so our 2017 travels will not start for a few months. When we have plans set we will let you know!

That’s it! God Bless all of You and I hope your 2017 is the very best year yet!divider can be used for easter also.

Links to our Reflections on God’s blessings for 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012 are below.

2015

2014

2013

2012

Happy New Year everyone from Roy and Rosalyn Chauvin!
We are looking forward to all that God has in store for us in 2017!

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divider can be used for easter also.

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12.28.16 Chauvin Christmas 2016

animation-glitter-merry-christmasWednesday, December 28, 2016 – Lots of love and thanks to Chip and Misty, and our oldest son and wife and their families for making this a memorable Christmas for two old folks!  We are very proud to be your parents and in-laws!

Roy’s came down with a cold during the week before Christmas and got more congested over the Christmas weekend.  You don’t skip Christmas so we checked with both our sons families and they were fine with him being around them and the children.

We started at Chip’s new house where we enjoyed absolutely delicious ham, turkey, all the trimmings and desserts.  Enough to feed a whole community!  This was Misty’s first time cooking turkey or ham and she did a fabulous job of it! Madisyn and Kallie opened their presents along with everyone else.  That was wonderful to be a part of.  It’s over too fast though.  20161225_112550 20161225_121531 20161225_130001 20161225_131655

Once we were stuffed little piggies we traveled to our oldest son’s home.  Madisyn went with us so she could see her cousins.  Our oldest son prefers that we not share photos of his family so I won’t even though they were just so cute! Just picture several really cute children with their precious faces smiling and having a fun time with us! We haven’t been able to be with our oldest son’s family for recent Christmas so this Christmas together was a very special time for us.  Madisyn loved getting to play with our oldest son’s daughter that is near her age.

Roy not feeling well got him down while we were there so we left before eating gumbo with them.  I know what it takes to make gumbo so I felt terrible about that but sweet our oldest son’s wife who he requested that we do not use their names put together a container of it for20161227_140850 us.  We enjoyed several bowls of it the next evening for dinner.  Delicious!!!  Both our daughter-in-laws are great cooks and I am loving that!  They are following in the tradition of Roy’s mom who was the best cook I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating their food!  It’s a Chauvin wife thing!

12308553_10205636499128810_7670528783129346041_nOur oldest son gave us a truly thoughtful and deeply appreciated Christmas gift.  A picture book of the grandchildren beginning with the year the oldest was born until this year.  Grandparents love to share photos of their grandchildren and I can do this really well with this wonderful gift.

We went back to Chips to drop off Madisyn and ate some dessert with them.  Chip packed up lots of left overs for us to take home and we ate those the evening after the gumbo!  What a blessing those two meals were to us!

20161227_135049While at our oldest son’s house he gave us dozens of lemons off of one of their trees along with a dozen or so satsumas. I spent yesterday juicing most of the lemons.  I’m freezing it in small amounts right now.  Also made a cleaning solution with the juice I boiled off  the remaining rinds.  I enjoyed  doing that on the patio outside our motor home.  The cows came to visit while I worked.  I played Christian songs and sang along while juicing.  The cows find us quite interesting!

That our Chauvin Christmas 2016.  I’ve been working on our 2016 Year in Review of all that we’ve been blessed to experience this year.  It takes a while to put it together but it’s always so nice to look back at the year and remember all the things I’ve forgotten that we saw or did!  That should be the next blog post published here.

The high here in Louisiana today is 80 degrees and sunny.  Wow!

Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!

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12.24.16 Mr. Bingle in New Orleans – originally published 2015

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Mr. Bingle as we saw him in Celebration in the Oaks.

Originally published Monday, December 21, 2015 – For those of us who grew up in New Orleans and are now in our 50s, 60s and 70s, Mr. Bingle was a large part of our New Orleans Christmas. This amazing little guy is making a comeback and today’s children are learning about him and he is entering their life this Christmas. When we visited Celebration in the Oaks an oversized version of this little guy was on display! That one is probably not as large as the version that hung from Maison Blanche (an upscale department store from that era). Here’s a bit about how Mr. Bingle came to be and some pictures from old times and present times.

The History of Mr. Bingle

Since 1948, a little white snow fairy named Mr. Bingle has been a magical part of the Holiday Season for children and adults in New Orleans and throughout the South.

Created by Mr. Emile Alline, a window decorator at the former Maison Blanche Department Store on Canal Street in New Orleans, Mr. Bingle came to life as a miniature snowman with an upside-down ice cream cone for a hat, holly-leaf wings on his back, a red ribbon and bells around his neck, red-striped mittens on his little hands, cherries for eyes and a licorice smile.

Mr. Alline also dreamed of presenting elaborate puppet shows with the doll, and for the task, he recruited Mr. Edwin H. “Oscar” Isentrout, an eccentric puppeteer who had been performing with his puppets at (of all places) a Bourbon Street burlesque club. With Isentrout providing movement and a squeaky voice for the character, legend has it that Mr. Bingle truly came to life, if only in the imaginations of the thousands of children who adored him.

Each year at Christmas time, Maison Blanche would erect a giant paper mache mannequin in front of the store, and Isentrout would perform four shows a day on the s tore’s third-floor stage. With the advent of television, Mr. Bingle began a daily 15- minute show that aired each weekday just before the evening news. He made frequent visits to Children’s Hospital to bring cheer to many sick or terminally ill children. For many, Mr. Bingle was their first TV friend, and he even had his own theme song:

Jingle jangle jingle,
Here comes Mr. Bingle,
With a message from Kris Kringle…

As the Maison Blanche chain spread, so, too, did Mr. Bingle’s popularity, at one time reaching as far as Tennessee and Florida. Mr. Bingle has even made an appearance at the White House as well as at the 1989 Citrus Bowl in Florida. Aside from the popular stuffed dolls, Mr. Bingle’s image could be found on everything from Christmas ornaments to coffee cups to clothing.

The Dillard’s Department Store chain bought Maison Blanche in 1998 and closed the Canal Street store shortly thereafter, but Mr. Bingle still lives on at the Dillard’s in Lakeside Shopping Center. Although his reach is limited to the Greater New Orleans area, he still makes the rounds to Dillard’s stores on the Westbank and across Lake Pontchartrain in Slidell and Covington.

Mr. Bingle’s creators, however, are no longer with us. Oscar Isentrout passed away in 1985 at the age of 61, and Emile Alline left us in 1998 at the age of 81. But these men, together, have left a gift that will endure forever in the hearts of all the children who have come to know Mr. Bingle.

The first photos below are from many years ago when only black and white photos were available. This is the Mr. Bingle era I remember as a child. The color photos are from later years and current years. Mr. Bingle made us smile and put joy in our hearts.

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THIS YEAR’S MR. BINGLE

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The Story of Mr. Bingle
by Emile Alline

When Santa left his shop one day
He found a snowman near his sleigh.
“You’ll be my helper now,” he said,
And tapped the little fellow’s head.

The snowman found that he could talk—
“Look, Santa, I can even walk!”
And then he gave a little sigh…
“Oh, how I wish that I could fly!”

So, Santa gave him holly wings,
Then, looking through his Christmas things,
Found ornaments the very size
To make a pair of shining eyes.

Then Santa said, “You need a hat;
An ice cream cone’s just right for that.
And keep this candy cane with you,
You’ll see what magic it can do!”

The snowman laughed and sang a jingle,
So Santa named him “Mr. Bingle.”
That’s how it happened. Now he’s here
With us at Maison Blanche all year.

Jesus I hope I’ve accomplished what I set out to do, introduce you to Mr. Bingle! He did add an amazing element to the wonderland of Christmas in New Orleans. He didn’t however ever take the place of Jesus’ birth in our hearts. I hope, as you and your family approach the day we celebrate his birth, that you will once again turn your focus to the true meaning of CHRISTmas!

We worshiped with our church family yesterday morning at Trinity Baptist Church and will do so once again on Christmas Eve. George Martin sang “Mary Did You Know” which spoke directly to my heart. Our Christmas Eve worship service is at 6:00 pm. The church’s address is 42062 Pumpkin Center Road, Hammond. About a mile off of I-12 on the Pumpkin Center/Baptist exit. Even though we are Baptist you actually go in the Pumpkin Center Road direction. If you and your family do not have anywhere to worship on Christmas Eve I invite you to worship with us! What a perfect way to focus on the true meaning! Family, friends, everyone is welcome!

Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!

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12.20.16 Don’t Miss Christmas!

A wonderful couple on RVillage posted this recently. As we draw closer to CHRISTmas day I thought it was so meaningful that I want to share with you all here on Dora and the Explorers! Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!

Real life....

img_8053 Oldest grandson loves his PeePaw and will hold HIS hand!

This post title been the series topic atSpotswood Baptist Church, Fredericksburg, Virginia this December. It is our third December to be here and enjoy this amazing Pastor. He just knows how to get the message across in a Biblical and relevant way!

We actually missed the first sermon because we were taking care of our youngest grandson who was sick (and we each caught that nasty stomach virus that has been around the country). We had our oldest grandson with us for the second sermon, he’s pictured here on his way there. Having him snuggled up against me, prevented me from taking notes or even downloading the sermon outline. Otherwise, I would have written that sermon us as well!

View original post 1,457 more words

12.19.16 Doesn’t get much better than this!

15350664_751022568384327_937264271592507314_nDecember 19, 2016 – This old girl couldn’t get happier cause it doesn’t get much better than this!

This weekend has been one of the best I can remember.

Saturday morning Roy took me to see the two houses he’s been working on in Baton Rouge.  The areas of Baton Rouge that flooded in August still have many houses that are not habitable.  What I saw Saturday was after months of house gutting and large piles on the street curbs. Henry’s Homes is restoring houses in that area and doing an amazing job of helping others out with their skills and caring.  We are so thankful to Henry for employing Roy and giving him an opportunity to shine!

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After seeing where Roy’s been working we went over to Buccaneer Park in Baton Rouge to participate in a fishing rodeo with our oldest son’s family.  We haven’t seen them for a while and have missed them more than I could ever say.  It was an amazing thing to hold our youngest grandchild in my arms, watch them all fish, visit with them and watch them play.  They are wonderfully well behaved children who are happy and full of life.  Their oldest daughter sprout up like a weed and sported some really cute glasses.  My heart couldn’t have been fuller with joy these few short hours we spent with them.  We’ll see them and Chip’s family on Christmas day and I can’t wait!!20161217_134001 20161217_134037 20161217_140042 20161217_140404 20161217_140732

I plan on making my famous (only to me!!) butterscotch haystacks for Christmas gifts this week so we stopped at a store to stock up on Christmas tins for that. Here’s the finished product!

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When my honey Roy pulled into Mike’s Catfish in Amite, my eyes opened wide and I was almost giddy.  Roy got their Catfish platter and I got the Fried Shrimp platter.  Absolutely mouth wateringly delicious!

Sunday morning we were blessed to hear Trinity’s Adult Choir sing “While We Slept”.  They sounded wonderful and as always were such a blessing to all who hear them sing Praises about Our Lord’s birth.  Here’s a little video of one of the songs they sang.  God uses all these ordinary (but yes ya’ll are special) folks to glorify His name!

After church we went over to Chip and Misty’s new home.  I’m so proud of them being able to buy a brand new home within their first year of marriage!!! They closed on the house on Friday and had been moving ever since.  Misty showed us all around and seeing all their stuff in the house made it all more real!  Can’t wait to see it with all the decorations and accessories in place!  I enjoyed a few minutes visiting with our oldest grand daughter, Kallie.  She’s precious to us and I cherish these moments when they happen!  She has mid term finals Monday and Tuesday so your prayers for her to do well would be appreciated!

quotes-about-blessingsawesome-quotes-be-thankful-for-your-blessings-wu295axaSo, as you can see, we got to experience fantastic family time, delicious food, worshipful choir singing, beautiful new house for youngest son and a wonderful visit to Roy’s work site. All in one weekend!  Truly, It doesn’t get much better than this!

Now if only our normally beautiful winter would come back. We are experiencing a cold wave here in Louisiana.  It was 77 degrees overnight and is now below 40 and its been raining.  Tomorrow won’t get out of the 40s but the sun may make an appearance. It’s not really warm in our motorhome today.  We’re bundled up watching the Saints lead the Cardinals at half time If they could pull out a win this week it would put the cherry on top of an amazing weekend. UPDATE:  The Saints Won!!!

The water in our pond is quite low right now even with all the rain we’ve had recently.  There should not be so much land showing.

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Our youngest grand daughter made us an adorable Christmas card and mailed it to us.

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Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!

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Wacky Wonderful Wednesdays published on Wednesdays

Some Things I Learned About Dementia published randomly

 

 

12.11.16 Social Security Disability

13036I’ve always heard, and I’m sure that ya’ll have also, that applying and getting Social Security Disability is a difficult road to go on and almost impossible to get on the first try.  In a nutshell, yep that’s how it was for me. I’ve been saying I’d write this for over a year but now I think I need to because I’m forgetting so much of this.  Thankfully I kept copies of all the documentation I sent to them and the correspondence from them.  That helped me a lot with writing this.

When I retired from Southeastern I chose regular retirement.  Didn’t know at that point that I truly was disabled and didn’t know there was an option to take disability retirement.  Maybe I didn’t do all my research but no one ever mentioned it so I didn’t go that route.  I prepared an appeal to LASERS (the Louisiana Retirement plan I’m in.)  It required a letter from my supervisor which she prepared.  It then went to Southeastern’s Human Resources department for approval prior to going on the the state LASERS office.  I was told by HR that I could not apply because I didn’t select disability retirement when I retired.  This info will be important later in this story.

I originally was diagnosed with brain issues back in 2011, however at that time it didn’t seem to be a disability that would stop me from 14993201-social-security-word-cloud-concept-in-red-and-black-letters-with-great-terms-such-as-fica-age-65-retworking and I kept working a couple of years until 2013.

Between 2013 and 2014 my brain issues seemed to get worse and I looked into Social Security Disability because I worked most of my work life under Social Security.

In December of 2014 I had a through blood test to determine if I had some vitamin deficiency that would be causing my deficiencies) but for once all was good.

In January of 2015 my neurologist wrote a letter to the Social Security Administration stating that he believed that I am totally disabled due to my significant brain atrophy (shrinkage) in the frontal lob to temporal lobe as well as the posterior fossa and cerebellum.

aaca_braininjury_2I applied for Social Security Disability online in March of 2015.

I submitted the letter from my neurologist and so many other documents I can’t count them.  Several of them were lost and I resubmitted them.  I called each month to find out the status and learned that the determination of disability is handled by several different departments within Social Security.  Each time it went to a new department it had to wait for its turn to be reviewed.  Each department would request various documents from me and I’d send them.  Nothing is done electronically once you apply so tacking on US Mail time each time added to the process.

In May of 2015 I received a determine that I was not disabled enough and didn’t meet their guidelines.images

In June of 2015, the appeal re-submission process began.  Another form to fill out.

In July of 2015 they acknowledged receipt of the re-submission.  Requests from them for more documentation were received.

The documentation submitted included a new neuropsych assessment report from Dr. Melissa Aubert in Metairie. The neuropsych assessment involved almost a whole day in her office taking tests. I also submitted a letter from my last boss at Southeastern who saw the deterioration of my abilities on a daily basis prior to retiring.

In August of 2015  they sent a 10 page report for Roy to fill out titled Function Report – Adult – Third Party.  Lots of questions.  It was painful to read the honest answers.

After reading these three documents it sunk in that this disability is real.

130529-social-securityFinally in January of 2016 I received a notification that approved my Social Security Disability request, but there would be no monthly disability payment.  Here’s where Southeastern retirement is important.  Social Security said that because I worked the last 15 years for a State of Louisiana agency that Louisiana retirement should pay me disability.   The State of Louisiana says its not their responsibility and Social Security says it’s not their responsibility.

The thing that was actually awarded to me was that at 62 I was eligible for Medicare instead of at 65.  This began in February.  They do not pay for my Medicare but between Roy and I both being on Medicare and our reduced Southeastern Blue Cross insurance rates we are saving around $100 per month in premiums and every doctor visit we’ve had required no co-payment because the combination of Medicare and Blue Cross take care of the co-payment.  Prescription coverage is amazing now with Medicare.

They also covered something quite amazing.  Social Security sent a notice to my student loan folks, Nelnet, saying I am totally disabled and that they should discharge my debt to them – make it go away!  That’s several thousand dollars we don’t have to pay back.

Because of all we’ve gone through with the Social Security Disability in this process, and the fact that I would turn 62 in September when I could start receiving regular Social Security, I chose not to pursue it any further with the State of Louisiana.

To summarize, it took almost 12 months and one rejection to get the final determination of approved.  The paperwork and number of phone calls is enormous and seemingly never ending.  I’m sharing all this to help someone who may be deciding to pursue this.  My conclusion is that it is worth pursuing but be prepared from the beginning to stay on top of it and don’t let it overwhelm you.  Having a brain disability added a different aspect to this since everything I had to do relied on my brain cooperating.  Oh, and we did not use an attorney for the appeal.

I’m hopeful this information will help someone.  Please feel free to share this with someone you know that is disabled and wants to apply for Social Security.  If you are not positive you are disabled, apply anyway and let them determine if you are. Also a note to State of Louisiana employees who think they may be disabled, choose that option for retirement and provide whatever documentation the state asks for.  I absolutely believe the State of Louisiana should have allowed me to change my retirement option at the time I learned I was disabled.  Don’t put yourself in the same situation I did.

I don’t mean to badmouth Southeastern, they have been wonderful to our family over the years.  This retirement issue is one of the only bad spots in my time there.

I plan to write here and in my dementia blog next about what the neuropsych assessment is all about and what to expect if you have or need one. If you or a loved one is showing signs of memory loss or other cognitive deficiencies make an appointment, find out if it is a concern or feel the relief that is is not.  If they determine that there is something to medically look into they will send you to a neurologist for medical testing.  I encourage you to take that step.

Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!

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12.02.16 Life upheaval in our work lives

I laughed so much seeing this video below, I had to share it!

Friday, December 2, 2016 – weekend-is-hereI recently wrote that I would share soon about big changes in our life and today I will. Life upheaval sounds like bad things and sometimes it is.  Some of it can be a good thing.  All depends on how we look at it.

Throughout our RV life I’ve worked part time and Roy hasn’t worked.  All of that has changed, causing a life upheaval that turns out fine but while going through the first couple of weeks has been weird to say the least.  Old folks are slow to adjusting to change, and we surely were!

Recently my hours with RVillage have been cut pretty drastically, from 25 hours a week, 7 days a week, now down to 6-8 hours on two days a week.   When the business changes direction these things happen.  It may go back to what it was eventually, we don’t know.  Still love the company and my bosses though I do miss communicating with them often as I did when working more.  While it was an upheaval at first I’m getting into a daily routine that gives me time to read, cook, and enjoy being outside at our home in Amite.

Embrace Change Text written on notebook page, red pencil on the right. Motivational Concept image

Now about Roy’s new working adventure. When we were planning on coming home  part of the reason we decided to stay home longer this year. This was mostly so Roy could get a full time or part time job so we could pay for the very expensive tires that Dora our RV needs and to build our savings up for future travels!  As God always does

He listened to prayers a great young man we know asked God to give him someone with construction skills to work for him doing Project Management.  Near the same time, Roy and I talked about Roy getting in touch with this young man, his name is Henry, about a possible position with his construction company.  As soon as they got together to talk it seemed meant to be, so Roy has been working for Henry for the last two weeks.

The houses they are restoring are flooded homes around the Baton Rouge areas.  The flooding back in August affected our hometown of Amite, our old hometowns of Ponchatoula and surrounding Albany.  The cities around Baton Rouge were flooded as well.  Some homeowners have been able to get their work done already but hundreds, perhaps thousands are just now in the process of restoring their home to a livable state.

1477879_10151989765786704_1116182477_nThe upheaval part of Roy’s new job is partly that all of the homes are 90 miles from our home and including the time of the drive to and from work he works long, long hours.  He gets up at 4 am and at first didn’t get home until 7 or 8 pm.  That has changed a lot since then which is a wonderful thing.  He’s finding he doesn’t need to so much do the work but to manage others doing the work.  I believe he’s liking it more and more each day.  Putting new tires on Dora is looking more possible with this additional income which will make up also for my loss of income.

Do you see God in this??  I do!!

We only have one vehicle which is all we need for the traveling part of our life.  When Roy was working very long hours at first it was hard for me to be alone at home all day with no way to go anywhere.  It’s gotten much easier now that he is home more and I can get out.

Also I miss my honey Roy when he’s gone so long.  We are use to being together 24 hours a day every day.  10426628_915664195117327_9144728494141849659_nThis was a huge upheaval in our daily routine but as time goes on it is becoming our normal

That’s about it for our life upheaval update.  Other things are happening in our life creating different upheavals, but that’s all for another day. I’ve been wanting to share my Social Security Disability update with ya’ll and will probably do that soon!

Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!  This is one of my favorite scriptures to read and think about at times like these!  Though our human lives may experience upheavals, our Lord is always the same and always walks us through every valley.  Praise God!

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Click on the links below to go there!

Wacky Wonderful Wednesdays published on Wednesdays

Some Things I Learned About Dementia published randomly