Hello friends and neighbors. I’m back. It’s so good to see you here on a Sunday.

I walked out on the deck Thursday to see leaves scattered all over. It made me so sad to realize that another summer with my grandchildren and children had come to an end, but oh so thankful that I have been happy and well to enjoy another such wonderful summer.

The summer began with a trip to Florida to the family reunion. My nephew Evan traveled with me and my granddaughter Haleigh came home with me. Haleigh spent a great deal of the summer volunteering at the Soup Kitchen working off Sponsors for Academic Talent hours. It was hard work but she was faithful, had a lot of fun and made a lot of friends and memories. It was certainly a learning experience for her.

We attended movies, swam at the pool and awaited the arrival of her sisters from Canada. Paige and Zoey arrived in July, my granddaughter Sophia who lives here came over, Evan came when he could, and the adventures began. Some lost power, broke down or turned out to be misadventures.

We traveled to Greensboro for the birthday of my now two-year-old grandson Britain. Britain is into “big dinosaurs" so my daughter Britainy made matching “asaurus” and T-Rex shirts. We chose our colors. Mine was red and read, “Mygrandmasaurus” because Britain calls me “My Grandma.” The girls names were also “asaurused” except for a couple that wanted Rex and “odon.” We took a photograph wearing the shirts and wore them to the science museum. We had a great time. Each time I wear the shirt it will be a memory.

We had opened presents and were making dinner when the power went out from a summer storm. We had a candlelight dinner. It didn’t dim the fun when Britain blew out the candles on his homemade dinosaur cake. The lights stayed off all night so we played cards by candlelight, singeing our eyebrows each time we played a card. The power remained off most of the night. It was warm sleeping and we awoke about 5 a.m. to all the lights coming on and the food on the stove trying to continue to cook. It was a good thing we had put away the food and washed dishes by candlelight.

We headed out on Monday for home. We hadn’t traveled 20-to-30 minutes down I-40 when an array of check engine lights came on across the dashboard. We found the nearest dealership which was Coxe Toyota of Burlington. We tromped in, the six of us and a dog. Thank goodness they were pet friendly. It took awhile to diagnose the malfunction but the younger and the older waited in the children’s room watching the movie “Moana.” The dog was an angel, laying quietly, no barking. A part had to be ordered and overnighted. Thank goodness Joe was behind us. He transported us back to Greensboro where we partied for another day. That was a squeeze fitting six people and their luggage and a dog in his Cadillac. Sardines have nothing on us.

The rain and weather put a damper on trips to the beach and the pool so we went to the theater to watch the movie “The Incredibles 3.” We had our popcorn and drink and were into the movie when someone or something hit a transformer on Western Boulevard and the power went out. We waited in the heat but the power did not return in time so the manager gave us tickets to return another day. The movie lost a little of its zaz when watching the beginning for the second time but we still had fun.

Another day we decided to go to the trampoline place to jump. The only jumping we did was trying to work our way through the red tape. It took 30 minutes to complete the individual liability waivers for all the children. We get up to the desk and since I am the grandmother, the clerk wanted to call the children’s parent to complete a waiver online or she would accept a power of attorney. I explained that the parents were in Canada and Gainesville, Florida and at WORK but she would not be dissuaded. Sorry, I’m not doing that. By the time we had traveled the world and gotten all the electronic waivers, the afternoon would have been spent sitting in the lobby and not jumping.

It did not say anywhere that grandparents cannot sign a waiver for grandchildren. If only I had known before completing the painful process of waivers for four children. So, if you’re going jumping, get the appropriate person to fill out a waiver online or remember to bring the file of legal papers. That’s serious fun.

I received a copy of the waivers I had completed online. It asked me to print them and bring a copy next time I come. What?

My son Andy and his wife Ruthie arrived, Britainy came with Britain and with all my children and grandchildren here, we had our own mini reunion. We slipped a trip to Topsail Beach in between the rain. It was a glorious day and we had such fun in the ocean and sand. Britainy’s car was running low on gasoline but we decided to wait until we got to the corner of N.C. 210 and U.S. 17 to get gas, hoping it would be a little cheaper further away from the beach. We drove through McDonald’s to get a drink on the way with Brit worrying about running out of gas. Andy pulled up along beside us. I know the people that worked wondered what that was about. I was buying and passed the drinks out my window to Andy for the occupants in his car. We made it to the corner and the station would only accept cash. Uh oh! I had some cash but thank goodness Andy had his traveling money and was able to pay for the gas. If you are going to the beach, take cash or fill up first in Jacksonville.

We came home, turned on the dryer and a electrical surge blew the surge protectors to the computer and to the television. The house smelled like smoke. I called Duke Energy and to repair the problem, they needed to turn off the power. We cooked chicken and fried rice on the grill. Another candlelight dinner.

We went to the aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores on Thursday. We went outside to see the sound and the dinosaur exhibit. The electronic dinosaurs are amazing, so realistic. One was a mother with babies and eggs protecting them; another two spit water. At the end was the playground and nature trail. We decided to walk the nature trail. It was a loop and went through the swamp on a moving bridge that got your feet wet. After we went over the bridge, it was swamp and the mosquitoes swarmed us like a black cloud. I was protecting Sophia and the mosquitoes became embedded in my Daily News shirt biting my back and leaving blood splatters when slapped. Legs too. It sure speeded things up. We traversed that trail in record time, thanking God when it came to an end. If you’re going to the aquarium and doing the nature walk, take insect repellant.

We celebrated multiple missed birthdays and birthdays to come and a new baby scheduled to arrive later this month. When we sang happy birthday and changed the name, Britain got a confused look on his face like “what?” The words to Happy Birthday are “happy birthday Britain.”

The power went off the last time we visited my daughter in Greensboro. Losing power at her house again this week and then at mine and the theater, it’s becoming a tradition to party in the dark.

They all left for home yesterday. My house is quiet like the weather after a hurricane has blown out to sea. Lots of debris too. I don’t care. I am so thankful they came; wouldn’t have missed a moment. There is a God and he loves me and all of us.


Today at 11 a.m. at Lighthouse Baptist Church, pastor Phillip Shepard and the congregation are celebrating “Transplantiversary, a celebration of the gift of life,” to mark the anniversary and to thank the donor, prayer warriors and supporters of the Rev. Shepard’s kidney transplant. Others are invited to speak about how God and prayer saw them through a catastrophic event in their lives. The public is invited. There will be a dinner following the service so please bring a covered dish.

Lighthouse Baptist Church is located at 2531 Burgaw Highway, Jacksonville. Call (910) 455-7640 for more information.

Thank you for coming. I’ll see you here next Sunday.

Carolyn Alford’s column appears here each week. She can be reached at calfordster@gmail.com