Well, last week sure turned out differently than I thought it would! On Monday, I had an email from my dear friend Stephanie, who is currently hiking the Appalachian Trail, saying that a close family friend had passed away and she was going to come off the trail and try to make it home for the funeral. The idea crossed my mind that this might be the perfect opportunity to drive back home as well--perhaps I'd see Steph, and I'd also get an opportunity to meet a little man named Isaac who was born to another dear friend, Lorie, almost 3 months ago, and also a chance for the kids to see their grandparents and other extended family. I was still on the fence about the matter when my mom called me--she and my dad were on their way back home from visiting my brother and had pulled into a rest area when who should they see? Stephanie. The odds of that happening, of their meeting by chance in a random city in West Virginia, are so very slim that I took it as a sign I was supposed to go home. So the next morning, I packed up the car, buckled up the kids, and headed for my parents' house.
I won't bore you with details, but I did eventually get a hold of Steph, and we arranged to meet the next morning for breakfast. The kids stayed home with Grandpa while Grandma had to go back to work. It was wonderful! Not only did I enjoy a kid-free outing with another adult, it was with Stephanie, one of my favorite people of all time. Later that day, we learned that two of my favorite relatives, Jim and Marilyn, were in town from South Carolina. We all jumped in the car and headed for my great-aunt Gee's house to visit with them and my grandmother, and also to see Gee's daughter-in-law and grandkids. Except for Jim and Marilyn, whom I have not seen for several years, we see the others maybe twice a year, so it was a great family shebang, and nice to visit when we're not centered around a holiday. Then, we were invited back to my grandma's house for dinner, so we were able to extend the visit and share a meal. It was just a wonderful day.
The next day, Aunt Connie invited us to the zoo, so Charis, Judah and I picked her up and headed out to look at the animals and have lunch and a troll through the gift shop (with Aunt Connie, there always seems to be a prize at the end!). It was apparetly one of the highlights of Charis' life, because ever since that day, she asks if we can go to the "zhou" and see the animals. On a side note, the zoo had an excellent area called the "Australian Adventure" which I enjoyed very much. At the time, I was reading Bill Bryson's book about Australia, In A Sunburned Country, and was feeling a great deal of fondness for the land down under. I would recommend almost anything written by Bryson (I haven't read all of his stuff, but close), but read with this asterisk: he's a little rough around the edges with his language and whatnot, and a little coarse at times, and his ideas about the beginning of the world are definitely not mine, but other than that, he is delightful to read. More than any other travel author, he makes you feel that, beyond having read a simple travel narrative, you have actually traveled to the places he writes about, and it's always special when a book has that sort of transporting power. Back to the day's events, we capped off the evening with a tasty, gut-busting meal at Max and Erma's with Grandma, Grandpa, and Aunt Connie. Good day.
On Friday, I took the kids to visit my dear friend Lorie and her two beautiful (in a handsome sort of way) boys, which is always a treat, not the least of which because her house is very kid-friendly, so it's a bit of a break from the constant redirection I do at the houses of people who don't have small kids. Visiting with Lorie is always easy--we just pick up where we left off, which is a very valuable thing in a friendship. It helps that we've been friends for--gasp! I just did this math for the first time--17 years. Wow.
Saturday was reserved for Grandma. The kids spent ample time with Grandpa all week, but were only able to see grandma in the evenings, so what a wonderful thing to have a bit more time for them to enjoy each other! I don't think we did anything dramatic, but how often do the kids just get to "hang out" with my mom and dad? Not often enough.
Sunday was very similar, except that we also celebrated my dad's birthday (which was actually on Monday), so we had a big lunch, and Charis sang "Happy Dithday" A LOT. Then Mom, Charis, and I headed out for a bridal shower of a family friend. Now, this is the little girl I used to practice french braids on way back in the day, and now she is apparently old enough to marry, which will make you feel old in a hurry. Charis enjoyed her first bridal shower, especially because they served fresh strawberries and had a trampoline she could jump on. We didn't get back home from the shower until sometime after 8, but still found time for cake and pizza with the whole gang.
Monday, dad made a birthday breakfast, and we ate, then the kids and I hit the road back home. We arrived at about 2:30, at which point I began writing this blog. Now it's Friday. My next blog will be about how we passed this week. Oh boy.
Actually, I just tried to go back and add pictures, but it won't let me. So my next blog will be pictures from the week. Then the one after THAT will be this week's craziness. And I think I also have a blog in me somewhere about Gas prices. Stay tuned.