Category Archives: Life Updates

Another Goodbye

On Feb. 2 our family was dealt more bad news as Amy’s grandmother, Sallye Anderson passed away at age 88. It wasn’t totally unexpected, but it was certainly tough.

For many years our family has spent Sundays by going to church, and then going out to lunch with the entire family. After lunch we would all gather at Mr. and Mrs. Anderson’s house and spend the entire afternoon there, leaving just in time to get the kids in bed for school the next day. Sundays just won’t be the same.

I will never forget how she would greet me every single time I saw her. She would give a big smile and say “hey son!” I will sure miss that.

Mrs. Anderson’s obituary is here.

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Goodbye Mrs. Anderson, for now. We love you and miss you.

Twenty Years

On Jan 21st Amy and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary! It seems incredible to me that we have been married that long already. When I look back, they’re all there but it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. But it’s true, we have spent half of our lives married to each other. That’s not even counting the three years we dated before that!

This being a “big one”, we really wanted to do something special. Above all we just wanted to spend some time together. It’s not very often that we do things without the kids, but this was going to be one of those times. We would leave the kids with Amy’s mom Eve for the week.

When we first started thinking about what to do, we thought about doing a cruise. Amy has never been on a cruise (and the only ones I’ve been on were the kind with the big gray ships that have a “USS” in their name). However, at the time Amy’s dad Rene was very sick battling cancer. We weren’t sure what would be going on by the time our anniversary rolled around, so we didn’t want to be stuck out on the water if something were to happen. Amy came up with the idea of just taking a road trip, to nowhere in particular, just a road trip. Then we decided to take a road trip to Key West.

So, on Monday 1/19 we boarded the pets, dropped the kids off with Eve, and headed south. We left around 11am and cruised into Daytona Beach around 6:30pm. That would be far enough for one day. We enjoyed a nice meal at Red Lobster and got a room at a Hyatt with an ocean view. The next morning we got back on the road. We made one stop in Boynton Beach to pick up some 95 Bordeaux Amy had ordered, then cruised into the Cheeca Lodge in Islamorada FL (about 75 miles from Key West). We had a gorgeous room with an ocean view (literally right there by the water!) and a hot tub on the balcony. It was so nice just opening the sliding glass doors up, or sitting on the balcony and enjoying the view in the warm weather. The resort had some nice restaurants so we just ate at one of them — Atlantic’s Edge — that night.

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On our anniversary, Wednesday 1/21 we didn’t even leave the resort. 🙂 It was so….. relaxing. We slept in, ordered room service, had lunch at the Tiki Bar, drank some pina coladas, had dinner at Limoncello (the Italian restaurant), and enjoyed that 95 Bordeaux. It was a great day.

Thursday we ventured down to Key West. The traffic on all of those islands doesn’t move too fast so it took a couple of hours, but it was a nice scenic ride. While in Key West we visited the Southernmost Point, toured a lighthouse, saw the outside Hemingway’s house with all his six toed cats, ate at a little Italian Pizzeria, walked around a cemetery, and just did a lot of walking around. It got hot! By the time we got back in the car we were ready to head back to the resort for some more relaxation!

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We had to check out Friday, but weren’t in a big hurry. We sort of lazily went about our morning, eating breakfast down by the water and just enjoying the last little bit we could. When we finally did check out we stopped by a couple of places around Key Largo to get some souvenirs. We made another stop in Boynton Beach to eat lunch, and got two more bottles of that 95 Bordeaux — one to be opened on our 25th anniversary and one on our 50th! (God willing!). We stopped for the night in St. Augustine, had another great meal and finally got home on Saturday afternoon.

So, all in all we spent five nights away from home, three of those in the Keys. We logged over 2000 miles. We ate some great meals. Most importantly though we had a great time just being together. It was a great way to celebrate our anniversary.

Crossing Over

I just noticed this post I wrote back in April but never published! So here it is… better late than never?

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Last weekend, 4/4 – 4/6 was Jamie’s last camping trip as a Cub Scout, and the last one with the 452/785 units. Jamie’s been a Cub Scout for 5 years now. He’s been to just about every camping trip (or maybe every one?), and I have to say this might have been the best camping trip yet. It sure had the best weather I can remember.

Jamie and I headed down to camp on Friday afternoon. I took off at lunch on Friday to finish packing, so that shortly after Jamie got home from school we could take off. We ended up getting to the camp around 5pm. It seems everyone was a little later getting there this year. Only a few people beat us there; we pretty much had our pick of spots to set up on.

Friday was the typical Camporee Friday: it’s all about “getting there” and getting set up. Since we were there so early we helped others as they rolled in. I probably helped put up 5 or 6 tents that afternoon. Jamie helped some too, in between running around with other boys, shaking sticks and playing whatever game they had going with the neighboring pack. (I heard something about a truce, and the breaking of the truce, and preparations for war…)

On Saturday things went a little differently. Normally all the boys in all dens stay together as they float from activity to activity, escorted along by some of the parents. This year the older boys had separate activities. From 9am-11am they built rockets, launched rockets, practiced the scout Oath and Law (in preparation for Cross Over that evening), and for the first time I can remember…. tomahawk throw!!!

As Jamie transitions into Boy Scouts it strikes me how fast it all went by. As one of the mom’s of one of Jamie’s fellow Cub Scouts put it… “in the blink of an eye they became Boy Scouts.”

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Sad News

It is with great sadness that I write this.

After a short but difficult struggle with lung cancer, Amy’s dad Rene passed away on Dec. 19th. When I say short, it was really short. We were just camping with him in August! He had a backache at the time (and had back problems since early May), but thought it was a result of some work he had done around the house. And in fact, that’s how the doctors were treating it – with muscle relaxers. It wasn’t until late August that he had an x-ray and they discovered some spots that might be cancerous. That suspicion was confirmed in September as he was checked into Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston Salem NC. He never went home again. From the hospital he went to a nursing home for rehabilitation, and eventually to the VA Hospice in Salisbury NC.

I will say this about my father-in-law: he was one of the kindest, gentlest and most sincere people I have ever met. He was a good man and he’ll be missed. I hate that our kids have been robbed of both of their grandfathers now but I’m really very grateful for the example that he was to them. I’m grateful for the example he was to me.

Rene, we love you and miss you.

This picture was taken in Aug. 2008 at one of our annual camping trips to Cade’s Cove.

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Week in Review 2014-10-26

The last week… or 10 days actually have been insanely busy. Where to start?

Well, first, some GREAT news. Our son Jamie has accepted Christ and has been baptized! Amy and I knew this has been coming for some time, but not wanting to push Jamie at all, we let it come from him in his own time. That happened on Monday Oct. 6th as Jamie and I were driving to Cub Scouts. The timing was good as we had a weekend Revival scheduled at church for which my mom would be in town for. After speaking with Pastor Ronnie we agreed that would be the perfect time for a baptism.

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My one regret is that Amy’s uncle George couldn’t be there. He was out of state on work.

My mom came into town on Friday the 17th. As I mentioned we had a weekend Revival at church, so it was off to church almost straight away. Then, on Saturday, it was off to the state fair. The traffic was … crazy, and it was so busy you would have thought we were at Disney on a holiday weekend! But, the kids had fun, and I got this beautiful pic of Amy and Ailsa on the ferris wheel.

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After the state fair it was back to Goldsboro for night two of Revival. Then came Sunday, so of course it was back to church again. The service on Sunday 10/19 (the day of Jamie’s baptism) was one of the most Spirit filled services I have ever been in.

Monday we just sort of hung out around the house. Unfortunately we did have to send the kids to school. Normally we would have let them stay home while mom is visiting but Ailsa has already missed a few days so we didn’t want to push it. I worked a few hours in the morning and then we just took it easy the rest of the day, but we did have a nice home cooked meal that night.

Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty typical. Then comes Thursday… off to my aunt’s house in Creedmor for a birthday party. My Grandpa turned 90!

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Saturday was a big day too. We went up to Lexington to see Amy’s dad and then onto my brother’s place in Clemmons for our nephew Aidyn’s 3rd birthday (his birthday is actually the same day as Grandpa’s).

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Today (Sunday) was a little strange in that we came home after church and lunch, but it was a welcome break. Truly a day of rest! Amy took a nap, the kids played, and I actually got some time to work on chess4j, but that’s another post.

End of Summer Blues

Summertime 2014 has officially ended, and it’s a little sad around the Swafford house right now. We had a really awesome summer. Here are some highlights.

We went to NYC!

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… and then upstate NY for a family reunion.

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(You can read more about that trip here..)

We did a mini Vacation Bible School at our church!

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We did a luau for Ailsa’s birthday!

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… and put up our pool!

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We went to Cade’s Cove!

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We went to the beach!

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We went to the Great Wolf Lodge!

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We spent some Sunday afternoons at Sleepy Creek!

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And certainly not least… we slept in! But you don’t get to see pictures of that.

Summer 2014, we will miss you.

Lawty lawty!

Amy’s 40th birthday was on Friday Mar. 28th. It was a busy birthday weekend!

On Friday, her actual birthday, I took most of the day off. I did log a couple of hours but for the most part I just bummed around the house and we hung out together. It wasn’t anything fancy, but the time together was nice. We grabbed some McDonald’s for breakfast, went for a walk in the morning, and ended up going for another walk in the afternoon to pick the kids up from school. I think we walked close to 6 miles, which was good because later in the evening we did the traditional thing: we went out to eat! Melanie, Rob, Kayla, Eve and our crew went to Olive Garden, then came back to the house for cake, ice cream and presents. We also played a game. It was a good day, and Amy thought that was “the day,” but she was wrong. 🙂 We had something else planned for her!

Saturday started out kind of lazy. After lunch we went to the Youth Art Festival at ECU, and after that we went to the circus. But, the real “event” of the day was a 50’s themed surprise party for Amy at Marabella’s in Farmville! I had the upstairs room reserved. Lots of friends and family showed up and were all waiting for her as we walked up stairs. (Getting her there without totally giving things away was no easy feat by the way.) As Amy stepped in they all shouted “surprise!!!”, and it really was a surprise.

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I think Amy had a great time and really enjoyed seeing some friends she hadn’t seen in far too long. All her bridesmaids where there. Pictured below – her sister Melanie, Mary Beth, Sonia, Amy, Robin and cousin Jennifer.

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Mary Beth made the trek from Chesapeake VA, and Sonia along with her husband and mother from Chapel Hill. Amy’s friend Sarah was also there with her family. Her dad and his wife came from Lexington (by way of Richmond VA!). Lots of family from Goldsboro were there too. Some “reunions” were made – people that hadn’t see each other in a long time. It was just a great time.

The “agenda” for the party was pretty simple. After the initial mingling we all circled up to ask a blessing on the gathering and the meal. We ate a catered meal of Lasagna, Manicotti, Baked Ziti, bread and salad. I have to say that the food was great – thanks Marabella’s! As we ate we listened to some of Amy’s favorite 50’s tunes.

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After the meal we sat the birthday girl down and embarrassed her for a little bit. Some of us shared some memories or stories about Amy. After that we sang and served birthday cake, ice cream, and floats, and Amy opened presents.

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I have to give Amy’s mom Eve a lot of credit for doing so much of the legwork. Her sister Melanie, cousin Jennifer and aunt Theresa also helped; it just wouldn’t have come together like it did without them so. Thank you ladies! Here is the cake Eve had made… by the same lady who did her cake when she turned 18 (which I remember)!

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Amy’s dad Rene and wife Gale stayed over for the night. They had such a long day – it started at 3:30am and didn’t end until around 11:30pm. In the morning we skipped out on church. That doesn’t happen often but Amy just doesn’t see her dad that much, so I thought we should just use the time to visit. Melanie and Kayla came over. We had a nice breakfast and visit, then Rene and Gale left around 12:00.

But wait, there’s more! After that we cleaned up a bit then headed out to Amy’s grandparents’ house in Goldsboro, where we had party #3! It’s sort of a tradition in her family to celebrate birthdays on a Sunday. And anyway, it sort of had to be “planned” so as not to tip Amy off about the surprise party. Technically though this was a 4-in-1 celebration for Amy, me, her Aunt Patti and her grandfather Luther Anderson (who turned 88 I believe).

It was a very busy weekend, but hopefully one Amy won’t forget.

Escape from the Salt Mine!

Yep. My consulting career has been taken off hold. As of Jan. 1st I am officially (and once again) NOT an employee of A Wireless.

First, let me say that everything I wrote in this blog post still holds true. I went back to A Wireless because, well, they needed an IT Director, and I wanted to explore the possibility of a CIO type career track. That said, neither party was under the illusion this would last more than a couple of years.

Well, obviously it didn’t even last that long. In total I was employed around 15 months. It really didn’t take more than a few months for me to figure out that the CIO / management track was not for me. Oh, I had a GREAT team of guys working for me, but man did I miss writing software and working projects. Instead of studying up on testing methodologies, I was reading business management books. Instead of doing code commits I was submitting TPS reports. Instead of solving technical problems I was solving personnel problems. Instead… well, you get the idea.

I’m truly very grateful for the opportunity, but it wasn’t for me, and once I discovered that there was really no need to drag it out. During the summer I talked with my boss about it, and we worked together to come up with a plan that worked for all parties. The ironic thing is that one of the guys working for me (Stephen Stanton) was such an obvious fit for the position that I don’t know why they didn’t promote him up to it in the first place! But, it’s his now! Congratulations Stephen!

So, I can now announce with some excitement that Swafford Consulting LLC is now open for business! I already have three clients, and there is a prospect for something very big in the coming months, but those are all posts for another time.

Mele Kalikimaka!

Ok, I totally stole that post title from Amy’s Facebook page. She’ll figure it out one of these days. I stole the picture below too.

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Jamie, Ailsa, and their cousin Kayla were all in the Farmville Arts Council’s production of “White Christmas”. The play runs from Thursday Nov. 21st – Sunday Nov. 24th. Amy and I, as well as Amy’s mom Eve, sister Melanie and her husband Rob all had tickets to see the kids perform last night. THEY WERE AWESOME!

The central characters of the play are two American GI’s who were together in WWII. The play begins on the battlefield in 1944, but quickly fast forwards to their post-army lives ten years later, in 1954. By this time these characters have hit it big in music. They have it all, except that is, love. Naturally they meet up with two girls (also musicians but not big time yet). They also meet up with their former General, who just happens to own an inn in Vermont. So that’s where much of the story is set — at the inn, which is in danger of being foreclosed. In the end the inn is not foreclosed, the general figures out that he can’t run his inn like a battalion, and the main characters are all in love. 🙂

The kids had a small part at the beginning of act II. It’s a scene set in the barn at this inn, where they are practicing to put on a show. They had to sing and dance, and they were all great!

My favorite part might just have been the end of the show — the curtain call. I loved seeing all the kids come out, take each other by the hand, and bow to an applauding audience. That was something I won’t soon forget.

Great job kids!

But Not Tonight

September 10, 2013 was one of the best nights of my life.

Amy has been a big Depeche Mode fan for years. She introduced me to Depeche Mode in high school, when Violator was still popular and everyone knew Enjoy the Silence. Synthpop, or Electronica, or however you classify it wasn’t really my style, but I did think it was pretty cool, and I thought she was pretty cool for liking it.

Fast forward to 1993. Amy is in college by now and I’m just about to graduate from high school. Songs of Faith and Devotion is released. Of course Amy got the album, and we listened to it, and I really liked it. We listened to it a lot. We went to see the concert in Chapel Hill (on my motorcycle, but that’s another story). It was an amazing show. I remember the lights more than anything.

Fast forward to 2013. Through the years Amy has been a Depeche Mode fan, getting all the albums. She has slowly but steadily influenced my taste in music. For the most part we both like their older stuff better, but I do think Delta Machine is a great album, and I think Amy is coming around to it. (We both think Sounds of the Universe and Exciter are pretty much duds.) Anyway, Delta Machine came out in March so I got her that album for her birthday, and surprised her with concert tickets for Mother’s Day. The concert was … Sept. 10 2013. So, the countdown began.

When the big day finally came, which was a Tuesday, we left the kids with Amy’s mom and headed up to D.C. We both love road trips. As much as we both love our kids, it was really nice to have the time together. It was exciting! We listened to Depeche Mode pretty much the whole way up and just talked. We got to the hotel around 2 or 3, and just hung out for a little while before going out for supper and heading to the concert.

We had good seats, under the covered section and to the right of the stage. It was a warm night; we were both comfortable in t-shirts. Amy was wearing her Songs of Faith and Devotion concert t-shirt. There was an opening band called ‘Bats for Lashes’ which neither of us had ever heard of, but they were good. Depeche Mode took the stage at around 9pm. They opened with ‘Welcome to my World’ off the Delta Machine album.

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It was loud. The light show was amazing. The set list was awesome. There was this feeling in the air that is hard to describe. Amy and I were dancing and acting like kids (and if you know me, that doesn’t happen a lot!). I remember looking over at Amy – she had her hands in the air waving them, and dancing, and singing, and she had this gorgeous smile on her face, and I just wanted to stop time.

Every four or five songs Martin Gore would sing a song to change up the tempo and give Dave Gahan a break. One of those songs was ‘But Not Tonight’ off the Black Celebration album (one of the older ones). Now, I have to say that some time before the concert we had listened to the song at home. On the album Dave Gahan sings the song. Amy told me it was one of her favorite songs – she loved it. I didn’t think much of it. But, that night, at the concert – Martin sang the song and he changed my opinion of it. He sang it with so much conviction, and it really just captured the feeling of the night perfectly.

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… and I haven’t felt so alive in years.

… how good it is to live tonight

… reminding me of so many other nights, but they’re not like tonight

… my eyes have been so red I’ve been mistaken for dead, but not tonight.

I’ll never hear that song again without thinking of that night. It was a special night. I was with the girl of my dreams, the love of my life. We were together, without a care, and I didn’t care about anything else.