July afforded me all of these pleasures and I simply remember...
The planning began. We would meet the parents in St. Louis with the two lovely grand girls and whisk them away with us to Indiana for nine days of fun, action and just being together. After all Tulsa, where they live, isn't just a day trip away and our visits together are far too infrequent.
Jill and Elle were handed off to us that June Sat. at the Crown Candy Kitchen, St. Louis, known for their ice cream and huge BLT sandwiches, with tons of bacon. Josh, their dad, challenged his cholesterol tolerance, and mouth width, by consuming the pork specialty. Several of us snatched up any stray pieces of the crispy strips that escaped from the sandwich and his mouth. So technically he didn’t eat every bite, but he came close.
|The Heart Stopping 'Wich|
With the girls cozied in the back seat of our Prius, we pulled away for the 5 hour drive to Lexinton, IN. Arriving there in the evening, Aunt Naomi put us up for the night, and we enjoyed a brief visit with the girl’s great-grandparents Sunday morning. From there, our passengers occupied themselves with their cell phones as we made the trek to our Goshen homestead later that day. Nana got caught up on the pop music culture and viewed silly selfies all the way home, while Papa kept his eyes on the road.
|Nana Learns How to Edit Pics!|
Monday was planning and shopping day. We invited cousin Aubrey over to help us hatch our plan for a family mystery meal. Food would be prepared and served by the lovely, youthful trio, and our guests would be Aubrey’s family and Great Grandma and Grandpa. We decided on the cuisine, made up our code names and Jill typed the menu we would hand out to our diners.
As the supper hour approached, my kitchen was astir with brewing, buttering, and waiting for watched pots to boil. The table was set, the aprons donned and the welcome sign hung out on the front door. We were ready!
Our guests entered, were presented with the menu, handed a pencil and told to choose which menu items they wanted and in what order. As the menus were completed and handed in to the waitresses, the victims of our mystery were seated at the table.
|Of course our guests did not have the real names of the items; they had to guess!|
|Great Grandpa Making His Choices|
What a whirl of elbows vying for room as the kitchen crew began dishing up the first course. Back and forth from viewing each menu at the counter to grabbing a plate to filling it at the stove with the designated food choice. We tittered with glee at the plate that received spaghetti sauce without the noodles, or vise versa. Or the one who ordered banana pudding first with noodles and a salad. I think everyone had deciphered the code for utensils so no one had to eat the first course with their fingers. Of course, depending on what else they had ordered they may not have needed them—no need for a fork to eat water, a napkin or garlic bread. We graciously allowed the guests to keep their silverware as we cleared off the first round of service and prepared for the next four items requested on the menus. Eventually, all courses were served and the mystery was history.
The cooks all say the event was a huge success; I think two of the kitchen gang accidentally read the same menu and filled two plates for the same guest, and an item may have been missed now and then, but we sure had fun making it all happen. The waitresses were handsomely rewarded with a nice tip by Grandpa when the meal was over.
Of course, no visit with preteen girls (who am I kidding, with Nana, too!!) is complete without a shopping spree or two. So Wed. morning we headed for the flea market. I enjoyed seeing what the girls were attracted to.
The next day was craft time at my friend Brenda’s place. Her grand daughter, the same age as Jill, was over to join in the fun of jewelry making. We all crafted some new fashion piece to suit our personal tastes. Brenda had a great assortment of beads, tools and idea pamphlets and served us a scrumptious lunch to top it all off.
Since the girls both have birthdays in July, we planned a celebration night. After eating Chinese, we took in a play at a local theater. Great fun!. I am thankful for each of these precious young lives and the joy they bring to us. What a cause for celebrating!
|Watching the show!|
Between these planned outings, we managed to watch some Netflix, play Euchre with Grandpa, make ties into a cell phone holder, take a bike ride to the Chief for yummy ice cream, stop at the local hot pretzel shop, do a quick errand trip that included a stop at Rue 21 where Jill and I made good on a buy one, get one- for -$1- deal on some pants, and knotted two blankets together to send to Voice of the Martyrs, who will send them on to the refugees who need them.
The day Aubrey was with us, we packed a picnic and met Papa for lunch at Fidler’s Pond Park.
|Elle, Aubrey, Jill with Papa|
Later we eagerly got our cars in line to enter the drive into Lake Michigan Beach. The line was long and after a fair amount of waiting without moving forward, we turned off towards another approach to the lake. We drove a few miles along shore side without finding a parking spot and sadly concluded it was too crowded to do our fun in the sun that day. Not wanting to waste our picnic plans we pulled into a parking lot far from the sandy shores we had hoped for, and ate the packed sandwiches and fruit, sprawled out on top of coolers, curbing and concrete. Not ideal, but we were together.
Jill and Elle had quarters for the night in Austin and Ashley’s small apartment while Kevin and I had booked a room in the next town west of Valpo. We decided to check in to our hotel, let the girls do a bit of swimming there and then head to Hobart for the evening fireworks. It’s always interesting to watch home crowds gather for annual events, especially if you are an out-of-towner. We pitched our blankets in a tiny space of grass, one of a few patches left and waited for the dark to fall and the show to begin. I was skeptical as to what good fireworks can come from Hobart, IN., but we were all pleasantly surprised with a spectacular display of sky bursts, sizzles and booms. The next morning we gathered to eat at a breakfast café and then headed back home... of course, stopping at the mall along the way.
Our time together was drawing to an end. Tuesday morning we boarded the train for Chicago for the first leg of our journey to take the girls home. We had planned some time to enjoy the big city before our flight left from there early evening. With all our luggage on our backs or toted behind, we walked Michigan Ave. stopping for Garret’s popcorn, the Water Tower and PF Chang’s for lunch. Grandpa developed a migraine so we cut our adventures short and took the subway to the airport where we had a 3 hour wait until our departure. Poor Kevin, enduring the crowded, jerky subway ride! Once at our gate he was able to sleep amid the busy throngs of people, while the girls and I played games on our phones and read. We finally reunited the girls with their dad later that evening. Kevin and I enjoyed a few days with Josh and Kira and the girls in their home before we flew back to IN.
My granddaughters are the best! Their summer visit burst into our lives with beauty and energy. No matter what we did or where we went they were willing and open to participate and make the best of it.
Thanks, Dad, for loaning them to us for a fabulous 9 days and thanks Jill and Elle for coming and letting us enjoy you!
|Train Ride to Chicago|
|Our Tie Cases|
Thank you, heavenly Father for planning for their entrance and life into this world and the good plans you have for them still to come. Please watch over the memories we share of our time together. May the times we had to talk about You and your work in our lives, and the moments we experienced that reminded us of your presence, or challenged us to consider your kingdom and its call for us to follow, stick in our minds and hearts and produce fruit that will last. Keep Jill and Elle safe and strong and closely tied to family who will watch out for them and love them wisely and provide the Godly home they need to thrive in. No matter what storms may come, may their parents have your wisdom and always know what to do to care for them. And may we know how to support them and share our love with them, in spite of distance that keeps us from hugs and time together.
Thank you for making us family!