Monday, June 22, 2009

Father's Day Weekend

WOW!!!! What a wonderful weekend we had here. Unfortunately, I do not have photos to share with you yet, but I will do so as soon as possible.

Our children threw an incredible party to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. It was beyond all expectations and it was just fabulous. They had asked if they could plan and throw a party for us at our home for some friends and family. We were whisked away early Saturday morning and the house was completely transformed when we returned. I do not know how they managed to keep everything so secret. I never expected that they would go to all the work that they did.

The place was beautifully decorated with flowers everywhere. The tables were set with champagne colored linens and beautiful handmade napkin rings. The children and grandchildren put together a video that is priceless. Our SIL, who has worked in the music industry did an amazing job on it. Add to that they had borrowed a HUGE inflatable screen for the back yard to show the video on during the party. I have never seen anything like it before in my life.

They catered the event and the food was delicious. It was so nice to attend a party at my house where I did not have to do a thing. The caterers left the kitchen immaculate and the kids cleaned up the yard, returned all the tables and chairs and had the place back together for Father's Day celebrating.

They even had our eldest grandson there to take all the pictures so I will post some once he gets the disk to me. It was just awesome and I cannot thank the "gang" enough for all that they did.

I must admit that I do not know where the last forty years have gone. I don't feel any older -- well, maybe a little!!!! Our lives have been blessed many times over.

Sunday was a grand day as well celebrating all of the fabulous fathers in our family. Each and every one is loved and appreciated by his family and it was nice to take the special day to acknowledge the fact.

In other news..... my mother continues to improve daily. She is currently up in her wheelchair for about six hours a day and flat the rest of it. Her discharge date and her release to normal activity is June 30th and she is more than eager to return home. It has been such a loooong haul for her and she has been an inspiration for all of us. I will never complain about aches and pains again. She was saddened to not be able to attend the party but I was able to take the video to the hospital and show it to her. We will celbrate with her once she is released.

Our momma tortoise buried five more eggs yesterday. This is quite unusual as she has never dropped eggs twice in one year. It will be interesting to see if they are fertile and will hatch so late.

I will update once I receive the photos. Meanwhile, we are enjoying some wonderful summer weather, finally. I guess that we just needed for it to actually BE summer.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Summer/Winter Vacation

We returned home from our wonderful driving trip last Thursday and it has been a weekend of catching up. I must add that it was the most interesting trip weatherwise that we have ever taken. We hit every type of weather imaginable -- rain, hail, sleet, snow, fog and record breaking low temps. It made for a very challenging experience since we were traveling with ten children.

Leaving L.A. we were in such dense fog that we actually missed our first offramp and had to backtrack in the desert. We NEVER see fog out there. That should have been our first clue. We hit torrential rain and hail as we toured Bryce and Zion National Parks. The scenery which is normally so stunning was hidden from our eyes. The good part - we received a "Senior Pass" which allows us free lifetime passes to all of the national parks for the rest of our lives. I guess they figure that we will not be able to drive much longer!!!!! Sigh!!!!!

A little break in Zion when the clouds momentarily cleared. I love the red rocks of the area.

One of my very favorite states to drive through is Utah. The landscape is stunning with deep gorges, running streams and rivers and lovely red colors. The weather was great on the second day of driving. We pulled into Dillon, CO in a snowstorm that evening. We would normally enjoy a picnic by the lake, but it did not look too inviting this time.

We drove through rain from Dillon all the way across Nebraska and Iowa and it stopped as we were about 50 miles from our destination. Our three days on the farm were absolutely perfect with cool temperatures and sunshine.

My cousins farm is in the center of an Amish community and the next door farm neighbors showed the children their way of living. They brought their buggy down and took the children for rides through the corn and bean fields. As well one of the children came down with their miniature horse and cart and let them drive it all around. They were even riding this little horse bareback and having a blast. Later that evening our children were able to help with the Amish milking chores and were fascinated to be able to milk the cows. There was never a dull moment on the farm with livestock to tend to and chores to be done. They loved the big tractors and accompanied my cousin as he sprayed a field of beans with the new sprayer. There was also a quad that the children had a blast riding. For city kids all of this was such a novelty.
The evenings were pleasant and we roasted marshmallows by a campfire in the yard and actually spotted two fireflys. I have such fond memories of catching them as a child, but we do not have them in our area. The children were fascinated as they flitted about.

The real thing.

Isn't Snoopy precious?

Son and DIL having fun on the quad.

Leaving Iowa we headed to South Dakota and visited the Corn Palace in Mitchell. Each year the Corn Palace is decorated with a different facade and done all in corn. One family grows all of the different colors of corn for the decorating and it is done from springtime through August when there is a huge festival. A different theme is chosen each year. Since it was pouring when we arrived, you will have to check out these photos on the internet to see a few of this years designs. The theme this year is America's Destinations and includes the Statue of Liberty and Mt. Rushmore. Next years theme was announced as we were there and it has to do with modes of transportation.

Leaving that morning and heading for the Black Hills we encountered our worst weather yet with fog, sleet and snow. This was our view heading into the Badlands National Park -- another free visit. The fog was so thick that our speed was drastically reduced. It would lift periodically so you could catch a small glimpse of the scenery, but nothing as stunning as what it is. The fog continued and Mt. Rushmore was not visible as we pulled into Rapid City. It lifted a little later so the kids jumped in the car and headed up to see it. I stayed at the hotel with the littlest ones and they did get a 10 minute window frame of the beauty of the work that was done in stone.

Can you see the Badlands?

The next day was record cold and snow as we headed to Cody, Wyoming. The problem with all the bad weather was that we have always managed to get the children out of the car and run around for car breaks and lunches. There was just no place to have that picnic with such dreadful weather. We were lucky enough to have stayed in Cody that evening because Yellowstone was closed the previous day due to the snow. We were able to get into it the next morning but, again, it was driving through the snow.
Should be a clue as to what we will be approaching.

A place where we would normally have a picnic lunch. A little chilly for me.
How about a little swim in the lake?

The 37* temps don't seem to bother these big guys.

All in all it was a fabulous trip but made me make a mental note to never attempt a trip like this in early June. The children were incredible travelers and we eagerly awaited the end of the day when they could get some energy out in the hotel pools. We would jump at the opportunity to do it all over again.

I did manage to finally finish my traveling quilt top. This is a piece that I work on when we take our long drives. It is all hand pieced and now I need to quilt it.

And a last photo of our grandson's graduation. Since my computer was ill the last time that I posted, I will add the picture this time. The class had eight graduates but one of them was studying in Germany and could not make it home for graduation ceremonies. Our grandson is the one in the back - the tallest one. Congratulations Mr. N. and now you are off to bigger adventures in college.