A Cookhouse Christmas

This Christmas was delightfully festive and busy. Abigail has been very sweet, and especially enjoyed opening her Christmas presents. It was evident that she liked the shiny wrapping paper just as much as the presents themselves! Ezra had never built a gingerbread house before, and did not understand that we were supposed to eat the house after we built it--not while we built it. As soon as he had finished making a gingerbread man to go near the house, he promptly sat down in his highchair and started to pray for his food! Anne gently explained that we "save the house", and gave him some candy to eat instead. Anna enjoys playing with her new toy food, and looks forwards to sharing her toys with her friends. She and Ezra currently take trips to the "store" (Nehemiah's room) to buy food for her "children"(her many dolls) Daniel, Nehemiah, Noah and I have immensely enjoyed reading the many books we got for Christmas, and have received enough books to do so for a while. We enjoy every minute we spend in a book, but we treasure more the time we spend with our siblings. We all pray that you have a Merry Christmas this year, and that the spirit of Christmas will stay in your hearts year round.

-Joseph Cook, on behalf of the rest of the Cook Family.


2009 CAP Awards Banquet

(above) Daniel, Nehemiah, and Joseph at the Civil Air Patrol Awards Banquet.

Though the air outside was crisp and cold, the atmosphere inside the building was one of warmth and cheer. As the many families which make up Gainesville Composite Squadron gradually assembled at the various tables in the large hall, the 2009 GCS Awards Banquet began.

The guest speaker was Maj. Craig Heitzler, USAF. He spoke to the cadets about his varied experiences with ROTC, and about what it means to succeed. He earnestly stressed the importance of having a career objective, and working towards that goal with the fullest of strength. In his closing statements, he reminded everyone that we must remember the veterans who have preserved America’s freedoms, because without them, we would not be here.

There were distinguished guests at the banquet, which included Col. Phil Newman, and Col. Ramon Waldrop, who were both US Army Air Corps Ret. WWII bomber pilots. Both men gladly shared their stories with the many cadets who met them, and helped present a few awards.

A small table, set for one, with an empty seat sat prominently in the front of the room. It was set with many symbolic items—but its purpose was to remind us that many soldiers never returned from battle. Numerous soldiers are listed as Missing in Action, or Prisoners of War. They must be remembered for the bravery they showed, honored for their sacrifices, and their legacy forever enshrined in the memory of every American who enjoys the simple, yet extremely significant freedoms in the USA.

There were many awards for deserving cadets and senior members. One of the most significant awards was the 100% attendance award, presented to C/Maj. Timothy Lhota, and his father 1LT Rich Lhota. They have attended 100% of meetings and special activities for 2009, and have both received this award for the past three years! The night was filled with promotions and awards. Six Cadet Airmen/NCOs and one Cadet Officer were promoted that night. (See list below for promotions/awards)

Gainesville Composite Squadron is like none other. The siblings, friends, family, and cadets make a squadron one that will never be forgotten, because of the leaders that are made, and the memories created. Every year is a new opportunity, and with an effort of teamwork, our squadron will once again succeed in reaching new heights.

Both Daniel and Joseph were promoted at the banquet. Daniel was promoted to Cadet Major, and Joseph was promoted to Cadet Master Sergeant. Joseph also received the “Squadron NCO of the year”. (NCO means: “non commissioned officer”) Our whole family was able to attend!


How old is Abigail?

Many of you have voted on how old you think Abigail is. She is currently 7 months, and 2 days old! 42% of you were correct, and the rest of you were close! A post regarding the upcoming Civil Air Patrol Squadron Banquet (on Thursday) will be posted Friday or Saturday night.


Sandhill Cranes

Sand-Hill Cranes

Earlier this morning, around 10 a.m, I was pulling Anna and Ezra in a wagon around the yard. Suddenly I heard a sound overhead. It reminded me of a dinosaur sound from the movies. Above me, were two large birds, flying south. I thought they might be herons, but I wasn’t quite sure. After bringing Anna and Ezra inside, I decided to research the birds I saw. Here is what I learned.

What I had seen, was a Sandhill crane. Sand hill cranes are fascinating birds. They are the most common of the world’s cranes. Sandhill Cranes are huge birds with wingspan of 5 to 6 feet! They live in wetlands of North America, and Siberia, where they feast on plants, grains, mice, snakes, insects and even worms. Because they enjoy plants the most, they often come into conflict with farmers. Every winter when the cold winds begin to sweep the marshes, large groups of cranes take to the air, to begin their arduously long migratory journey to Florida, Texas, Utah, California, and as far away as Mexico!
When Sandhill Cranes choose a mate, they are remain with the mate for their entire life. Two chicks are raised at a time, and parents take turns incubating the eggs. When the eggs hatch, the mother tends to the nest, while the father keeps away menacing creatures such as foxes, or humans. One interesting expression of harmony expressed by cranes, is the “unison call”. This call, is produced by birds near each other, and is a sycronished duet, which reinforces the bonds between a male and female crane. That “unison call” is the sound we heard when the Sandhill Cranes flew over our yard.
Sandhill Cranes are unique birds. Their example of commitment should be a reminder to us, and their uniqueness points us to a brilliant and loving Creator. I was privileged to be able to see such fascinating birds!

This is where I found information on the sandhill crane:

You can listen to the sandhill crane call, here: http://www.bakersanctuary.org/media/SandhillUnisonCall.mp3