Thursday, April 28, 2011

Welcome to Our World

Leah's not the youngest cousin anymore...

The kids want to oovoo (video chat) with him asap...

"I wonder what his first word will be?" they ask. "I wonder what he'll look like when he's seven."....

"Has he worn any of the shirts we made him yet?"...

I think they love him already...I know we do! Welcome to the family, Evan Riley!!!

April 26, 2011

Sunday, April 24, 2011

One Body

We sat on metal, plastic, canvas, wood -- whatever could be gathered in close quarters before dawn this morning. The 40 or so of us - from new babies to great-grandparents - were surrounded by flats of flowers and rows of hanging baskets, their colors barely visible in the dark.

We started to sing. Then the roosters started to sing, and before our eyes the greenhouse lit up like someone had flipped the switch. We kept singing, about the One who flipped the switch, who rolled away the stone, who lives today and forever. We talked about how the darkness has not won, and will never win.

On the other side of the world, though, our brothers and sisters did not get to leave their gathering and go eat ham or baked beans or cake or relax with their families. They tried to gather and sing, and pray, and talk about the One whom we celebrate this day; they were arrested. Some are in various jails, others are in unknown locations.

I do not take for granted my freedom to gather and proclaim the name of Jesus Christ, and I will not forget those who are without that freedom.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Wrapping Up, Heading Home

Our last full day of the retreat was a day of no plans. We slept in, I tackled most of the laundry (again), and started the packing process. We continued to watch basketball (did I mention that having 4 televisions with cable helped tremendously with a fun opening weekend for the NCAA tournament? It would have been a real bummer at home since they took so many games off of CBS and we don't have cable!). We also took a drive and made some time to see the "glass house" - highly recommended by the MOMYS family from Iowa that we had gotten to know a little during the week. The glass house is near Historic Jamestowne and is a replica of a glass-making set up that was found there. Two men were stoking the kiln (fire?) and working with the glass. They would take what looked like a little "ball" of hot glass out of the fire, and blow, roll, contort it into large vases, pitchers and more. Truly amazing, and truly hot. I can't imagine what it is like for them in the heat of summer.

Side note: Eric and I got a date-night Saturday! We ate at Panera - yummmmmmm. We had both eaten there separately but never had a chance to together. Once again, highly recommend taking grandparents on a vacation!

Sunday morning was stuffing everything into the vans and trying to get on the road as early as possible. I got up early to cook the cinnamon rolls that I had bought but never used during the week, thinking that would be a nice way to ease the "we're leaving" morning blues. However, the best-laid plans...etc. I put the rolls into two pans that were in the townhouse kitchen. Timer beeped, I got them out, set them on the stove-top, turned around to look for a knife to spread the icing on, PAN EXPLODED. Yeah, not cool. Glass everywhere. Thankfully, the kids were not awake yet and I didn't get cut or anything. Eric and I cleaned it all up, dumped the rolls in the trash and he went and got donuts. : )

We had a pretty nice ride home -- the kids did absolutely GREAT the whole trip in the van, barely any arguing and "are we there yet"s. The two negatives were detouring to Monticello for a "drive-by" and realizing that you couldn't see it from your car and it cost an arm and a leg to see it, and my incident at a gas station in SE Ohio where the van-lock alarm went off and Eric was in the bathroom and I could NOT get that thing to go off no matter what we tried. : ) Those are the memory makers, though!

We did stop at a great attraction in WV, and got a good workout climbing down quite a few stairs to see the old and new bridges. The kids didn't think it would be anything to climb back up, (even after reading the warning signs), but we were all quite winded.

We got home at around 9:30 p.m. or so, ready to be home but sad to be ending our adventures. Many, many request of "Can we go back next year?" I'm sure we would enjoy it, but if I know us, I think we will have to strike out somewhere we've never been.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Beach-Ball Day

Eric had looked ahead at the weather forecast and thought Friday would be our best Atlantic Ocean day. He was right! We all headed to Virginia Beach, parked right by the boardwalk, had the beach practically to ourselves for most of the time we were there, and had beautiful sunny 80+ degree weather. It was exactly what we all needed.

Long walks on the beach...they're such romantics...

Always the engineer...even made his own beach chair...

Their first time at the Atlantic Ocean...

Someone had to be buried!

After the sun had started turning our skin pretty red, and the sand had made it's way into every thing we brought, we headed back to the resort (again, through crazy-slow Virginia Beach/Norfolk/Newport News traffic) to shower and get ready for The King's Ball. All the families were dressing up (either in period garb or just nice clothing) and putting our newly-learned colonial dance skills to use. Sara was nervous from Monday until Friday at the ball, worried, she told us, that she might forget some of the moves for the dances, or not remember their names and that she knew them. She really, really, liked the dancing. : ) Levi asked me to dance - so sweet! - and Delaney, yet again, rejected invitations from young men to dance with her. She is going to be a tough one for some young man someday.

We weren't too great with our cameras Friday night, but I have a few pics, plus the "big reveal" - pics from Monday night including the parents' and grandparents' outfits!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Separate But Equally Fun

Thankfully, we had front-loaded most of the planned stops/activities into the first part of the trip, and left free time at the end. This worked well (I think) because given our usual propensity not to be "boxed in" on any vacation, we were pretty worn out from scheduled activities by the end of our day at Colonial Williamsburg. We had a few things that we knew we wanted to fit in, but because we only had 3 days left, it was looking a little crowded and that was causing a little, ahem, tension. We made a good decision: we went our separate ways for most of Thursday and everyone had more time to relax. Mom and I and Delaney and Sara rolled down the windows and enjoyed the beautiful, sunny 70-degree day by hitting the many outlet malls and Yankee Candle Flagship store. The Yankee store was really entertainment in a very, very large store, and the girls got to make their own candle, eat some chocolate-covered popcorn, watch the "snow" come down in the year-round Christmas section, and peruse the toy shop while I picked out some great new votive candle scents (lemonade! yum!). Alas, I have no pictures of shopping. : )

Dad, Eric, Leah, Jesse and Levi headed south to Norfolk, the Nauticus Museum, and the Wisconsin Battleship tour. Other than the traffic on the way back, they had a great day and said the museum was really hands-on and worth the trip. Eric remembers his dad taking him on a real battleship when he was a young boy and had been looking forward to doing the same with his kids for a long time.