Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Summer Break is Over

Our summer was full of new friends, old friends, travels, broken down vehicles, renewed vows and so much more. We started out the summer with a visit from our new friends, the McDonalds ( see blog below). The above picture is of their littlest guy and our little Brown Sugar.

Literally a week after we got back from our trip to Utah (see post below) we hosted another wonderful family, the Haroldsons, from New Mexico. They are a great, very talented family. Their family band is called Desert Skies and they all play stringed instruments from the fiddle to the madoline. Oh, and they also perform clog dancing. They even put on an impromtu concert in our backyard for us and our neighbors.

Here is their littlest one getting ready to play with the family.

The Davis and Haroldson families.

The next event on our summer calendar was the Carnival for Charity that some close friends had. The proceeds from this years event went to Acres of Hope. Since this is the orphanage that Lil' Cowboy and Brown Sugar came from we wore our African dress and talked to anyone who would listen to us about the plight of Liberian children and the wonderful work that Acres of Hope is doing.

Daisy with a daisy painted on her face.
Brown Sugar looking her best. The carnival was a success due entirely to the endless work that our friends put into it.

We had three other families show up that have adopted from Acres of Hope. One family brought twenty+ of her family from Bakersfield which is about four hours away. Tanya and her husband have opened their home to twenty-four children. What a blessing! Another family brought their two new twins that they had brought over from Liberia only the week before. The third of the visiting families adopted three girls. One of the adopted children was a baby under the age of one. We were delighted to host this family for the night and have them join us for church the next day. They live about five hours north of us.

On the same day as the Acres of Hope carnival our friends, the Lodies, from Texas arrived. They would be staying with us for about four days. So, that night we had twenty-four people staying in on our property! We are incredibly blessed to have such great friends and be surrounded by such wonderful people.
The Lodis are missionaries working for Gospel for Asia. Kristin and I have been close friends since highschool. We were talking about the grace of God to call us both out of our rebellion and give us a desire to be godly wives and moms. Even our understanding of scripture is closely aligned. I could not have asked for a better life long friend.
Somehow I did not get a picture in of our 20th anniversary party so I will have to work hard at describing the evening with words alone. We were blessed to have both sets of parents at our event. They were an incredible help and the evening just would not have been as beautiful without their help.
The atmosphere was set with hanging white lights, lavender in terra cotta pots in the middle of black cafe tables, green table runners, and classsic oldies (Frankie, etc.) playing in the background.
Dinner was Aspargus soup, Garden salad with homemade Caesar salad dressing, Foccacia with oil/vinegar, Chicken Marbella, Tri-tip, Roasted potatoes and peppers, and Green beans in a lemon sauce. We served Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc along with Pellegrino sparkling water.
Our focus was a celebration of marriage. Hubbie came up with a great idea. He gathered up all of the wedding dates and then announced them one by one. The couple who was married on whatever date he called out stood up and told us how they met and where they went on their honeymoon. It was such a great way to get to know each other better.
During this incredible evening, where even the sunset was the prettiest I had ever seen, we renewed our vows. This was one of the reasons why we appreciated our parents going out of their way to be there. We eloped the first time without telling anyone so we felt honored that they would join us. Our pastor, Steve Walker, did such an incredible job. He always does. He has been given quite a gift. Our children stood around us as we renewed each vow. I had written my own thoughts down to share but could not see them so Eric read them and I repeated them back to him. It was a sweet moment for me. This was such a symbol of having to physically lean on him as my eyes go further and further into darkness. I am blessed.
No evening is ever complete without dessert. There was a Strawberry Trifle, Cheesecake (the best in the world), and Tiramissu. We helped the serving/clean-up crew (our closest friends children) clean up while intermittantly dancing to the great songs that our oldest daughter, Boo, had collected for us.
All in all it was a very memorable evening that made up for years of pining over our elopment. Thanks to all who spent hours helping me prepare for it.

Only three days later and we were celebrating our countries anniversary by having a big block party on July 3rd. Our next door neighbors and us had grand plans with very little gumption to go along with it. This was mainly due to the fact that the weather took a turn for the worse and scorched us with above 100 degree weather. The kids kept cool by running through what we called Waterworks. Our next door neighbor, Mr. Handyman himself, constructed a PVC pipe structure that had holes drilled into it to squirt out water that was being pumped into it by a hose. It even had a nossle to fill water balloons.
Boo had the job of paining flags on everyone's faces. She did a superb job.

The big event was decorating your bicycles to ride in our first annual bike parade. There was tinsel, crepe paper, wire garlands, and paper all in the colors of red, white, and blue. There were flags galore and eighteen kids riding bikes, skateboards, scooters, and little ones in strollers and wagons. It was a hit! Next year we are hoping to have a sign made up and the next day join the Turlock downtown parade. After doing a couple of rounds we all sat and watched as our neighbor family lit off close to $500 worth of fireworks. We just could not believe when they kept bringing more and more out. It was a fabulous 3rd of July and we still had the next day to celebrate!

The next morning Hubbie surprised us all and took us out to breakfast. We ate at Latif's which had a perfect view of the 4th of July Turlock parade. After breakfast, we walked around old downtown admiring the old cars. Daisy (above) decided that working at the drive-in diner is the way to go. Boo (below) dreamed big. She would love to see this Mustang in her future.
We spent the very, very hot day playing in the pool and bbquing.
We purchase a season pass package to the Modesto A's (o-kay, o-kay...their name is now the Nuts. Ugh!). This year our tickets were for the 4th. We took our next door neighbors with us. The temperature on the score board read 106 at 6:00pm. It was incredibly hot! I don't think it ever got below 95 the whole time we were there. The most memorable event of the evening was Gabbie being filmed for a short video that played on the scoreboard. She was incredibly cute with her red, white, and blue headband, red sun glasses on, and quirky smile. They introduced her as being from Liberia and this being her first Independance day living in this fine country.
They had a burning of the flag ceremony and then a fireworks display that just sends chills down my back. The drive home took a half hour longer then it normally does but the kids were thrilled when we got home and gave them permission to jump in the pool. So, at midnight on the 4th of July we were eating homemade ice cream and swimming. What a way to end the day.
We had a very quiet month and a half between Independence day and the end of August. The three older kids did help with the Valley Home Educators homeschool convention. I joined them for one of the days and met all kinds of new friends. I met Carmon from Buried Treasure books (she is a fellow Patriarch wife and is where I got my Prairie Muffin icon), Judy from Bloom books, and finally met in person, Jeannie from Area 127.
Hubbie took all the kids away for a weekend so he could have some one-on-one time with them and I could get some time cropping pictures and scrapbooking. Thanks Honey!
I also took a little trip with two friends to the Santa Rosa homeschool convention. One of my friends was speaking at the convention so we had the priviledge of holding and caring for her little guy. I had another motivation to go. I really wanted to sit under the Bradricks. So, I was encouraged by Susan Bradrick as she encouraged us, even admonished us to live according to the Word of God. I count it an incredible blessing to have great families such as these to learn much from and be encouraged by their children and grandchildren's faith. To a thousand generations!
But wait, I haven't even described the picture above! Every year my dear husband and another friend take a group of kids to the mountains. They have been doing this for eight years now. Two years ago was the big hike of Mt. Whitney (the tallest Mt. in the Continental U.S.) and last year they hiked up Half Dome in Yosemite for the second time. This year they had a bigger group of kids that had not been on long, strenuous hikes so they chose an easier hike. They hiked into the wilderness starting at Saddlebag lake. The picture above is the group at the campsite.

Here is one of the beautiful pictures that they brought back. The hike around the lake was pretty easy but the hike up Shephard's peak was a bit harder. That hike put them at 12,500ft and teh ability to see Mono lake plus a couple dozen more.

I would like to say that the pack trip was uneventful but that was not the case. Goose had a ball of flame engulf him ( he walked away with a burnt lip and singed hair - Praise the Lord!) as he tried to light a propane stove that was not completely screwed together properly. The Hector boys had something similar happen. A Basnight girl twisted her ankle and another Basnight girl got bit by a dog that was running loose. That one set my Hubbie off. The carelessness of dog owners to allow their dogs to run free really aggrevates him.
The above picture is of the four kids that had the nerve to jump into an alpine lake. It was breathtakingly cold! They deserve a blog post and a congrats on their polar swim.

The following weekend we spent the night at our close friends, The Hectors. They had some chickens that needed to be butchered and we had some girls that wanted to experience cutting the head off of a poor chicken. Did I say girls? Yep. My three precious, lovely ladies were having the time of their life butchering, defeathering, and disembowling the creatures. My son, on the other hand, was in the kitchen preparing lunch for us all with one of the older Hectors. The above picture is Daisy and Boo holding their conquest. Miss M got in on the ordeal too and thoroughly enjoyed herself. Ugh! Where did I go wrong?
After the chickens had been packaged and in the freezer we took a drive up the mountain to pick blackberries. We walked through thorny bushes and down creek banks to eat and pick these very delicious wild blackberries. The trip would not have been as much fun without the company of dear friends. There was quite a bit of discussion on whether there was more delight in butchering chickens or standing in thorny bushes picking blackberries. Give me blackberries any day.
Our last trip of the summer was our 2nd annual boating trip at Pinecrest lake. We always travel up Labor day while everyone is traveling back down the hill. So, basically the lake is deserted by Monday afternoon. We rent a big party boat and rest and relax out on the lake. We have a canoe that the kids paddle all over the place, we take a hike out to the dam, and we pretend that we know how to fish. All in all it is the most refreshing day away that I look forward to every year. This year we asked the Hector family to go with us. I believe that they had as good a time as we did. I even swam in the lake which was unusually warmer then normal. There was a lot of boat swapping, canoe battles, and rock jumping. What memories!

The guys in the canoe are getting a free ride.

Our 2nd annual Pinecrest family picture.

And, the kids on top of the dam. What fun!

So, that is a wrap up of our fun filled summer. It is back to the books and cooler weather. Fall happens to be my favorite season. I love the crisp cool air in the morning and evenings, the colors of fall, and the smells of breads, soups, and casseroles backing in the oven that has been rarely used during the hot summer months.

Fall reminds of the feeling you get when you take a refreshing, cool shower after being out in the hot sun all day long.

More later



Kenj said...

Phew! I'm dizzy! Your photos are beautiful, friend. See you Wednesday!

Copper's Wife said...

Wow!!! You had a very busy summer!!! Great pictures of all of the good stuff, though!

hindsfeet11 said...

Wow, look at how much fun you had all summer! It's good to see what we got to share. What, nothing about the fun at the hospital!! Thanks for being there and the special summer reminders. Love ya.

Stacy McDonald said...

Hey! Is that my baby's bottom I see in that picture! LOL

We sure did have a WONDERFUL time staying with your precious family. You truly have the hospitality thing down pat!

Thank you for absolutely spoiling us. In fact, if I can keep James was eating all your strawberries, can we come back? :-)

BelovedPeace said...

Hello Mrs. D!
Nice post! :-)
Looks like you all have been having some fun! :-)
Say Hi to everyone for me! :-)
Love, Amy :O)

Daisy Fields Basket Co. said...

Stacy, we had such a wonderful time also. You are more then welcome to stay anytime you are here. The only request from our children is that you bring more children next time! They want to meet the whole crew. And, as a personal request, we would love to have you come back when James is feeling better so that we can show you the majestic wonders of God's creation in Yosemite National Park.
But, as I see it, we are headed your way this coming year, Lord willing.

Nikki said...

I just found your blog through some sort of site...I'm not sure what!!! LOL! I'm not very good at keeping up with where I end up! But your family caught me since we are also a large homeschooling family. When you mentioned Acres of Hope I had to comment. We also have been in touch with them about Liberian adoption. We have contacted both Children Concerned and Acres of Hope for more info. We know many families that have adopted from both. Are you familiar with Above Rubies and Nancy Campbell? That is where I was able to receive our info. for contact information about their organizations. We hope to oneday adopt a sibling group of 4 or 5 from Liberia. We have a set of twin boys and have loved it so much we would be blessed to welcome a Liberian set of multiples into our family depending on what the Lord has in mind for us. We are praying fervantly about where to go from here. We currently have 7 children ages 9, 7, 4, 3 yr twins, 16 months and 10 wks. I've been blessed by your blog and will check back in often. Your family is beautiful!!!

Daisy Fields Basket Co. said...

Thanks for stopping by. It sounds like you are a busy yet very blessed mommy. I always love to talk about adoption so if you ever have questions let me know. ~Heather