Hospitality, Friendship, Encouragement

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Surprise!

 My mother in law, the kids Grammy, is an amazing woman.  She turned 90 today.  Tim's sisters decided we should throw her a party - so we did.  A surprise party.  Can you tell we pulled it off?

 We set up for a family dinner first.  21 family members to be exact - we missed Dan and Sharon, Jen, Carrie, Shelly, Nicole, Nate, and Andrew!  We had the dinner catered by a family friend who has a catering business.  (Hi Sue!)  It was amazing food - really, really good.  I found out she reads my blog!  I love that!

 This is Anna - she is one of Tim's sister's girls.  This sister lives in Missouri, and one lives here in Florida. Planning was done through phone calls, and emails.

 I didn't want to say anything on my blog, on the odd chance that my mother in law may see it!  She did not know we were there until she walked in for dinner.  She thought she was going to Tim's sister's home for dinner and a dessert party.  She was happy to see her baby boy.  Have I ever mentioned I married the baby of the family?

 These are Tim's sister's grandsons - the Hobbits.  The bigger one of course is Merry and little one Pippin.  They are adorable...

 Their beautiful Mama is Melissa The Missionary Mama.

 With this arrangement of the tables, we could all see each other and talk together more easily.

We weren't allowed to use any candles with flame so I bought these cool battery operated ones from Costco...they looked pretty and help the ambiance.

 Photographer Lindsay's viewpoint of Photographer Melissa's camera....

 Sparkling grape juice to toast a well lived life...

 Pretty flowers on each table...

 Kyle is actually first cousins with Elijah's mom Melissa so that makes the boys first cousins once removed, I think.  

That is true for these girl cousins, too.  Miriam is Crystal's daughter and she is first cousins to my kids.  Sarah enjoyed holding her as did Rachel.  This is a very happy breastfed only baby.  She has the best disposition.  She is a joy!

 I love this series of photos of my mother in law telling about how we surprised her to all those who were at her second surprise - a real dessert party with so many of her wonderful missionary friends!

 Jean told us she was saved at age 10 and has served the Lord for 80 years.  She said "I haven't always been faithful, but He has always been faithful to me!"  She married late - in her 30's - had 6 children, two boys died in Africa - one as an infant from Malaria complications and one as a 10 year old boy who was killed by a crocodile.  Jean accepted God's Grace to her in these situations and stayed on the mission field until Tim's dad became ill and they came home to serve on the home staff of the mission.
She became a widow on her 30th wedding anniversary.  She remarried and has been married to her husband for 28 years.

Jean has been an example of a godly woman.  She is the most hospitable woman I know, and just loves to serve others.  Until recently she has done prison ministry, she still works at a food bank, and is active in her churches - she goes to one on Saturdays and the other on Sunday mornings.

 My lovely sister in law telling about what a blessing her mother has been in her life and in the family.

Here is my beautiful friend Jane.  We have been friends for 22 years.  She drove me all over today and was such a great help.  I love her like a sister.  She is dear to me.

 A lovely Costco cake...

 Crystal carrying sweet Miriam...

My girls with their beloved Aunt Jane....

 Kyle and his boy cousins...the hobbits.

 Rachel the baby whisperer...

 The family at the end of the evening...

 So many of these people have served on the foreign mission field.  They are a precious bunch...

 The young guy in the plaid shirt was one of the kids Tim grew up with in Senegal.  His parents were missionaries there, and he served there with his family as well.  In fact all his siblings have served in Senegal as adults.  He now works at the retirement homes (where we held the party) helping these elderly missionaries in their golden years.
 Our friend Rick (Jane's husband) and our brother in law.

I could go on and on but I won't.  It was worth the work and effort to pull this party off.  It was a joy to see folks we haven't seen since Emily was a baby.  

This photo is blurry, but I like it as it shows her joy...we couldn't have planned anything better but to have as much as her family there as possible and all her old friends for the dessert party.  By having it at the retirement homes, it was easy for them to come and come they did!  Oh, and did I tell you that Lindsay made a slide show for her of photos of Jean's life.  Jean LOVED it.  We'll be putting it on dvd for all the family and also make a book of all the photos....I think we have Christmas in the bag for this year!

Happy birthday Jean Winifred Cornelius Rabe Sherwood.  You are an example to us all....we are blessed to have you in our lives.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Part of the Mystery

 The view out of my hotel room on the 4th floor.  After driving straight through, and a mix up where we usually stay, we spent the night in a hotel.  Seeing that we had been on the road for 16 hours total - 14 driving hours - we were happy for comfy beds and a chance to stretch out and sleep.  Today we will move over to where we stay.

Today is all fun - lunch with friends, picking up a few things for the 'surprise' and enjoying this thing called sunshine.

We were kept informed of the weather at home by our hilarious friend Denny.  Also Kayleigh let us know what was going on.  The heavy wet snow took down a part of the pasture fence - thankfully Nate had come over and he took care of it.  Also then the power went out.  We did not relish Kay and Kamryn being their without power so, they went to my parents for the night.  Today they will go back over, feed the animals, and check on things. This storm is such a surprise!

After tomorrow I can give you the whole scoop!  For now I need to get moving...

Friends at home - don't hate me.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Secret Mission


 We are going out of town this weekend and it is for an exciting reason but I cannot tell you about it yet though.  

Vee has inspired me to join in on a Giving Thanks Challenge!

Leah at South Breeze Farm is hosting it starting on November 1st.  I will still be away but am going to attempt to start from the beginning!  I will do a post on the 1st then keep a running list on my sidebar.  It is so good to be Thankful and to remember to Whom our thanks should go!

I woke early today - a combination of a small boy climbing into bed with us and my hip hurting.  I decided to make Baked Oatmeal for the family for breakfast.  My husband will be so happy!

The recipe is simple but delicious.

Baked Oatmeal 

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup dried cranberries 
( I often add raisins instead and also walnuts.  You could add any fruit you like)

Preheat oven 350 degrees

In a large bowl mix everything together very well.  Spread into a 9x13 baking dish.
Bake in a preheated oven for 40 minutes.

It will smell divine while cooking and your family will love it!

Thank you all for your sweet comments at Emily's blog.

The photos are of one of my Red Sunset Maples in my front yard, in the early morning light.  They have turned so late this year.  Oh and you see that blurred spot in the middle of the photos?  It is a mark on the inside of the lens of my camera?  How does this happen?  I guess I really can justify a new camera!  One of these days.  When we stop taking unexpected but wonderful trips. Yeah, one of these days.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Daughter's Blog

I have beautiful and talented daughters.  Are they perfect? No, but they have such hearts to follow the Lord...I am blessed.

Emily has had a challenging year - she has grown and is stronger in her faith and convictions.  She wrote a really good post that shows her heart.

"I know I've made the right decisions. But they aren't the easy ones.
 I came to a point last year, where my  wants and desires were seemingly right within my grasp, and all I had to do was make it happen. I like doing things, planning things. And I had my "perfect" life "planned" out. But those plans contradicted quite a few "basic rules" in my life. "Rules" like, not lying to my parents. Not doing things behind their backs. Not giving my heart away too know...those "basic" things. I guess you could call the "rules" my values, my moral values."

I encourage you to pay her a visit. Her blog is A Fresh Perspective. Give her some encouragement, she'll appreciate it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Great Falls

 We got there at dusk, having traversed the DC commuter traffic, and a beautiful drive.  If you enlarge the photo you can see four guys on kayaks.  They would one by one go into the rough water and 'surf' it for a few minutes then ride the river done to the eddy and get back into line.  Apparently these guys have ridden these falls for about 30 years.  They used to ride the rapids but now they said they are content to just 'surf' it.

 It's beautiful...

 This is looking away from the falls, down river...

 One last look before we left...

Here Tim stands by the High Watermark sign.  The photo below is from the National Park website showing flooding from March 2010.

 See the river in the background?  It is up to the top of the gorge...apparently in 1942 and 1936 the water level was at the top of that sign...amazing.

Here is a link to the website for this amazing National Park - Great Falls.  It is located just outside Washington, D.C. and the falls are part of the Potomac River.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

National Zoo

Yesterday was a day off of work for everyone, so we decided to head a few hours south to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.
 This is a clouded leopard...

 Asian Elephants - see their little ears?  Their home is being renovated...

 Cute Mallard couples - 

They have really beautiful bronze sculptures around the zoo.  
 Lunch time!  We brought our own...these were taken in between swatting at bees...

 Our friend Denny and his pal Sarah...his $3.00 cup of "organic and bird friendly" coffee...

 A sweet girl and her daddy...

 Kyle had way too much fun yesterday!

 Golden Lion Tamarin...


Two toe sloth...the Golden Lion Tamarins were sitting all over him and running back and forth across him.  Sloths do everything slow, even digestion apparently.  God's creation is vast, unique and amazing...
 Loved the gorillas.  This guy sat with his arms folded for the longest time just checking everyone out - then he decided to pick his toes....

 They have a butterfly house...

 So beautiful to have these lovely creatures fluttering around...

 The Sumatran Tigers were beautiful and we think they had the male and female separated.  The female was mellow and wandering around her space - the male was crying out all afternoon and pacing...we think he was unhappy he couldn't get into her space...

 The lionesses were cute and playful...

This is part of Lemur Island.  So beautiful...

We had such a great day.  It was sunny, but cool, the animals were all enjoying the weather too, except the giant pandas which were in their indoor displays and both sound asleep...did you know they eat 40 pounds of bamboo a day? As Tim said "That's alot of fiber!" 

We saw orangutan's, cheetah's, zebras, sloth bear, red pandas, octopus, jelly fish, scorpions, crabs, a Komodo dragon, Chinese alligator, poison dart frogs, shrews, a Kiwi...and many, many more!

The National Zoo is a part of the Smithsonian system - that means there is no admission charge but parking is $16 for the first 3 hours and $22 after that. 

We ended the day at Great Falls, Virginia - I am saving those photos for tomorrow.

I am thankful to live close to so many amazing things.

Information Friday, On Saturday

  Well, I was all set to do a post yesterday, but I had trouble uploading my photos. I really thought I'd get it done in the evening, bu...