Sunday, July 27, 2014

The reunion

Stained glass window at  the Abbey
It has been a while since we’ve updated this blog. Too busy. Too many things to do. Here is a small glimpse of how the last two weeks have gone.

Two families showed up and overlapped in their visits to Missouri. Our oldest daughter, Tara, brought her five children from North Carolina (her husband Eric had to work).
Our second oldest daughter, Trista, her husband Darin and their family arrived from Utah bringing four children and leaving two behind – (other obligations).  So far that makes a total of twelve (9 grandchildren).

In St. Louis we have ourselves, our third daughter Tassa, her husband Geoff and five children and our fifth daughter Tawny and Brian and their five children. If you are adding up, that makes three homes in St. Louis, nine adults and 19 grandchildren out of a possible 14 adults and 27 grandchildren.

It was fun. It was work. It was more than a little chaotic. We survived! We sent our visitors off yesterday and we are finally alone in our peaceful house. We created a whole lot of treasured memories.
Mother/Daughters luncheon at a Thai restaurant 

Despite the distances, we manage to develop lifelong, loving and supportive relationships – in-laws, grandparents with grandchildren, cousins with cousins, aunts and uncles with nieces and nephews. 

It was well worth the effort and time we spent.  -- some of which involved logistics like herding cats (figuratively speaking) and supplying a hungry army of 28 on the move and with minds and wills of their own.
Besides the food, family dinners, accommodations, birthday parties, children’s baseball games, church meetings, we managed to do the following activities: Six Flags, the St. Louis Zoo, the Arch, the City Museum (absolute craziness), nature hikes, 
Our hike on the Rockwood Reservations Kiln trail
the Missouri Botanical Gardens, Elephant Rocks, Johnson’s Shut-ins, an overnight stay at a delightful bed and breakfast – The Abbey, and a visit to Geoff’s new employment, the Missouri School for the Blind.

We also sandwiched in multiple visits to our swimming pool, visits to Tassa and Geoff’s home they are refurbishing for sale, ferrying children to band camps and practices, dog sitting and finally a bonfire in our commons area burning the natural wood refuse and honeysuckle bushes I had collected from the hillsides surrounding our home.

I am probably forgetting (repressing) something important but you get the idea.

Here are some pictures from our time together.

Missouri Botanical Gardens
This is one of our favorite spots in St. Louis

Feeding the Japanese Koi fish

Calvin and Mitchell sit in awe of the botanical gardens

Missouri School for the Blind
Geoff is the new superentendent of the Missouri School for the Blind located near the Botanical Gardens. He took us on a tour of the school. 
One playground is equipped with instruments to make sound.

The School for the Blind is a colorful place. Mariah fits right in. 

Evidently class change is a traumatic event

Elephant Rocks or is it Elephants Rock?

Just kdding! This is not Elephants Rock.

How many people people does it take to get an Elephant Rock to move?

Johnson's Shut-ins

Look up "Shut-ins" in the dictionary. It will describe something like this.

Nonny with Aubree and Annalisa

The Abbey. 

Our good friends, Darwin and Katherine Rouse have restored the Abbey, a former Catholic girl's boarding school in Arcadia, Missouri into a Bed and Breakfast, a bakery, an ice creamery and a number of other businesses. Their location is convenient to Elephant Rocks and Johnson's Shut-Ins.

We rented five rooms and had an absolutely marvelous time.

Tassa, Tara and Tawny with Annalisa, Calvin and Aubree on their laps

The grandchildren - front and center stage
We bid farewell to the Abbey and to our reunion. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

We are home! Finally!

Our home is on a hillside. We love being at home again. 
 We are home! We returned Tuesday evening July 1st and started moving in the next day. Moving in isn’t the right term. Our belongings were already stored within the home – attic, garage, a basement storage room and basement crawl space under stairs.

Nevertheless it was a lot of work to find everything and put it all in its place. Twelve days later we feel we are 95 % moved in. We still have books to unpack but other than that we are good to go.

We need to be. We have company coming next week and the week after that – more company.

Fortunately we have three households here in St. Louis to spread the wealth (of grandchildren) around. We will have a mini-reunion with four of our seven children and their families together in St. Louis.
No Internet, no way! One of the hardest parts of moving in was going without the Internet for 12 days. We just had our cable TV, Internet and telephone installed so we are up and running. We can blog again. We can feel connected with the outside world, the news of the day (such as it is) and our source of instant information.

Sorry! No blog for two weeks. We are OK now. I will be redefining the blog away from our Mongolian experiences soon but not yet. Still too busy.

Who knew how dependent we would become on technology we didn’t know even existed 35 years ago?! Such hardships have to be endured. During our vagabond travels the past few months we had Wi-Fi and Internet access in each of our children’s homes.
Now we have smart phones and smart TV’s that are smarter than we are. We are on a learning curve to catch up with where the world went while we were in Mongolia.

Pretty nice! Pretty fancy! Wow! 
Picture taken from TV screen
World class entertainment and information, social and family connection all right at our finger tips. What a world we live in!

The Fourth of July. We celebrated the Fourth of July (Independence Day) by a great meal and by going to a fireworks show that evening.

Mariah and Eliza celebrated with us

Other than that, it has been mostly work, work, work.

On the other hand, it's not all work.

"Our" swimming pool. We belong to a neighborhood association that sponsors a community swimming pool. Our home is the closest one to the pool - just down the hillside.
Alec is about to drag his friend Gabe back into the pool. Gabe doesn't look like a happy camper at the moment.

Besides being a wonderful resource for us, it makes visits to Nonnie and Granddads quite an attraction during the summer. We have lots of fun visits from Tawny's and Tassa's families.  "It's summertime and the 'livin' is easy."
3 year old Mitchell is learning the rules of the pool

We’ve enjoyed a lot of family togetherness as our two families here in St. Louis have taken us under their collective wings and have pitched in to help us get settled in again.

The Harringtons visit. One special treat was a visit from Tom and Garnalee Harrington who also finished their mission to Hong Kong in March. We have some special times with them when they came to Mongolia toward the beginning of our mission and we kept that bond going as our missions coincided with each other.
Our mission friends
They shared how, while on their mission, Tom was contacted by cousins, aunts and uncles he hadn’t seen in over sixty years and with whom he had no contact or knowledge. Part of their time since arriving home has been traveling, meeting, and reuniting with family in Michigan and Florida.

What a remarkable blessing they are enjoying. While they served a Family History mission in Hong Kong, their family finds them.  

We have been blessed in other ways. Our mission was a remarkable experience and a cause for much positive reflection. The details will be forthcoming in the future. This is all for right now.

It is great to be back in the loop again. We are feeling contentment about our lives like at no other time we had together. Now if our health holds up, the future looks bright indeed.
Full moon over Rio as seen from our HDTV screen

Mitchell trusts his Mom