Monday, February 18, 2008

Emily's 10th Birthday

Emily turned 10 on Valentine's Day. She received homemade gifts from her siblings. Brian and I gave her several pairs of earrings. She requested BBQ ribs, potatoes, broccoli casserole, whole wheat rolls and chocolate chess pie.

For each child's tenth birthday they are able to take a trip with either Brian or me. Emily's only request was that we walk through the shops in Laguna Beach. Laguna Beach is well known as an artist community. We spent the morning walking through the shops and marveling at the creativity of the various artists. We had lunch at BJ's Pizza Grill. Emily had her first deep dish pizza.

After lunch Emily and I went to Crystal Cove State Park. We spent some time exploring the tidal pools, walking on the beach and just sitting in our beach chairs relaxing and enjoying the beautiful view.

Later that evening I took Emily to dinner at the Rainforest Cafe. Our table was located next to one of many large aquariums located throughout the restaurant. There were also life-size gorillas and elephants that occasionally made noise. The restaurant was a bit loud but definitely unique.

After dinner we saw a stage production of Charlotte's Web at the South Coast Repertory Theater. It was very well done. When Wilbur escaped from his pen ("Pig's out! Lurvy, pig's out!"), he ran through our row. Emily and I were both quite surprised!

Emily and I both enjoyed the activities we did throughout the day, but most of all we enjoyed spending the whole day together.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Flair for Fashion

When I opened my bedroom door this morning, I found Kathryn reading a book. She was still wearing her pjs and had added some accessories.

Four Months Old

Andrew is 4 months old. Where has the time gone? It seems such a short time ago I was timing contractions trying to decide if I was really in labor and then scrambling to find someone to stay with the children. The newborn stage always passes too quickly.

Yesterday Andrew had a check-up. He weighed 17lbs 10 ounces and was 27.5 inches long. His length was off the growth chart for his age. He is already wearing 6-9 month clothes! All of my children are tall, but I don't think any of the others were this size at 4 months.

Andrew is a very smiley baby. He seems to smile more than his siblings did at this age, however when I get out the camera, he just stares at it. I've spent 3 days trying to get a good picture.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Look Who's Cooking Dinner

As the mother of four girls I often joke that I'm hoping to work myself out of a job. This past week Ashley helped me see that my dream may actually come true. She cooked her first complete dinner with no help from me. We feasted upon enchiladas, Spanish rice and salad. The meal was delicious and I enjoyed the night off.

Enjoying the beach in February

Saturday we went to Crystal Cove State Park located between Laguna and Newport Beaches. While most of our friends and family were experiencing weather in the 40's, it was in the mid 70's here. Enjoy the pictures. Maybe seeing the sunshine and beach scenery will remind you that you will be enjoying warmer weather soon. For now, snuggle up to the fire and drink some hot chocolate for us!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

California Snow

We had snow on the mountains again this morning. I took this picture in our neighborhood a couple of blocks from our house. I think these mountains are about an hour away.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Happy Birthday Grandpa!

Our main reason for taking our trip when we did was to attend a 70th birthday party for Brian's dad. His mom began planning it long before we knew we would be moving to California. As Brian is an only child, we knew we needed to attend this event. We are grateful to have been able to do so.

Brian's parents live in Greenville, NC, home of the East Carolina Pirates. Brian's parents are avid ECU fans (except when his mom cheers for that team from Chapel Hill), therefore the party had a purple and gold theme.

The party was catered by Phil Joyner. Mr. Joyner is not related to Brian's family, but he is a very close friend of Brian's dad. Had the party been for someone else, Grandpa would have been helping Mr. Joyner cook. Several years ok Mr. Joyner built a "party house" on the lot next to his home. It was a great place to have the party. We enjoyed a delicious meal of roast beef, pork loin, green beans, rolls and strawberry cake.

At his mom's request, Brian served as the master of ceremonies. He did a great job!

Ashley, Emily and Hayley were happy to help Grandma with the decorating. They also helped with some last minute set-up the day of the party.

As a surprise for Grandpa, Ashley and Emily each played a selection on the keyboard.

After the meal Brian recognized all of the family members in attendance. Family drove from Rocky Mount, Durham and Warrenton to help Grandpa celebrate.

After the meal family and friends were able to share memories and funny stories. I heard many of the same words used again and again to describe Grandpa...kind, considerate, interested in others, helpful, etc. I agree. I have known Brian's dad for almost 20 years. He is always interested in the lives of others and always goes the extra mile to help his neighbors, friends and family. The world could use more men like J. D. Joyner. Happy birthday Grandpa!

A Very Long Day

Our flights to Tennesse were uneventful. Unfortunately things did not go as smoothly on our return trip. We left our Kingsport home for the 90 minute drive to Knoxville around 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 29th. We arrived 2 hours before our scheduled departure. Brian dropped all of us off at the terminal where a very nice man helped us get all 9 checked pieces of luggage (including 2 car seats) and carry-ons to the ticket counter, printed our boarding passes, etc. while Brian parked. While printing our passes we noticed our flight had been delayed a few minutes.

We made it smoothly through security (not easy with coats, 9 pairs of shoes, double stroller, etc) and proceeded to our gate. As we waited at our gate the departure time was updated to include a longer delay. We finally boarded the plane around 1:00. Our original departure time was 12:30.

Once on the plane the door was closed, the flight attendant went through the safety info and we were ready to depart. Just as we thought we were ready to leave, the pilot announced all traffic into and out of Memphis had been stopped due to heavy thunderstorms. He said he would receive another weather update in 25 minutes. After several more updates, we finally left Knoxville at 2:30. We knew we were in danger of mising our connection to LAX but hoped it had been delayed due to the weather as well.

When we arrived in Memphis we discoverd our flight had been able to leave on time. The next flight to LAX required a 5 hour wait! As Brian talked to a very irritable and unhelpful gate agent, I told the kids we were going to use this opportunity to show how Christians should handle adversity. We were not going to show our aggrevation or be irritable with others. We were going to maintain a joyful spirit and be content with God's providence over our circumstances.

Thankfully everyone else we encountered was very helpful. One lady gave us $80 in meal vouchers. Our biggest problem was we were no longer all seated together. The oldest four children would be scattered throughout the plane. Ashley handled this news ok, but the other 3 were quite upset. Just before boarding the gate agent was able to get all 8 of our seats together! This was truly a gift from the Lord.

The rest of our evening went well. Most of the children slept at least some portion of the flight home. We arrived in LA at 11:00 (pacific). By the time we got to our house, it was 12:45 a.m. It was 1:30 by the time Brian and I went to bed. We had been up for over 22 hours, and Brian had a 7:30 meeting.

We are grateful to the Lord's protection over us and his provision for us during all of our travels, however neither of us are ready to fly again anytime soon. Brian says when we leave CA we will be driving! (and sightseeing along the way)

Saturday, February 2, 2008

We're Back

We left California on Friday, January 18th. We flew from LAX to Detroit and then Knoxville. Our flights went smoothly and the children did well. I asked Andrew to please not spit up on me or have a leaky diaper. Thankfully he didn't do either one.

We arrived in Knoxville around 10:00 p.m. (EST). It had already been a long day as I had been up since 4:45 a.m. (Pacific). After renting 2 cars for the drive to Kingsport we drove to the home of our dear friends the Riveras. Since neither flight offered any food/snacks other than items to be purchased, we picked up dinner from McDonald's on our way. We enjoyed our brief reunion with the Riveras. Around midnight we loaded everyone up for the 90 minute drive to Kingsport.

Everyone was excited to see our Kingpsort house...not only because we hadn't seen it for 5 months, but because it also looked different. A couple of months ago my father and brother put on a new roof and new siding. As soon as we get the doors painted and add shutters, we will have a "new" house. We were pleased with the work they did. The house looked great!

Upon entering the house I was delighted to see that the air mattresses and pack 'n plays we had borrowed were already blown/set up. All the kids had to do was crawl in them and go to sleep. This was a huge blessing as it was around 1:30 a.m. when we arrived home. I also noticed some extra cleaning had been done in preparation of our arrival. Thank you Saulsbury family!

Saturday the kids enjoyed a brief time playing in our yard. We left 70 degree temperatures in CA for highs in the 20's in TN! Before going outside Luke asked me where his sandals were. I told him this wasn't shorts and sandal weather!

Saturday afternoon we enjoyed a wonderful time of fellowship and dinner with the Simpsons, McLeods and Bradleys. This was also an early send-off for the McLeods. They will be moving to England in March for the completion of an Eastman project. Lord willing, they will return to Kingsport in December.

Worship at Westminster PCA on Sunday was one of the highlights of our trip. The preaching/teaching, singing and fellowship we have enjoyed there for the past 7 years are some of what we have missed most. Being back at Westminster truly made us feel like we were "home". Andrew was baptized our first Sunday there. We were also able to enjoy an extended time of fellowship as it was a 3rd Sunday which meant there was a fellowship meal after the service.

On Monday we drove to Timberlake, NC to visit my family. We enjoyed our time with them, had many extended family members come by, and ate delicious home cooked meals. I was able to visit a high school friend who had been in a serious car accident in early December. I am thankful to have been able to also visit with each of my 3 living grandparents. If the Lord sustains her, my Grandmother Berry will be 100 in September!

Emily had a special time with Mimi (my mom). At age 10 we allow the girls to get their ears pierced. When Ashley turned 10 I didn't really want to be the one to take her to get it done. My mom eagerly voluntered. It is now a tradition for Mimi to take the girls to get their ears pierced. Emily will be 10 in a couple of weeks, so she got her ears pierced while we were there.

On Thursday we drove to Greenville, NC to visit Brian's parents. While there we attended a 70th birthday party for his dad. (Look for a separate post about that later.) We enjoyed seafood from our favorite seafood restaurant and Brian and the oldest 5 went to an East Carolina basketball game. Unfortunately they weren't able to cheer the Pirates to victory. We left Greenville early Sunday morning in order to attend evening worship at Westminster.

Monday was our final day in Kingpsort. I tried to get too much done that day. In addition to packing, I had a dental appointment, Ashley had a dental appointment, Brian and I had health screenings at Eastman and I ran a few other errands. That evening we had dinner at the Chop House to celebrate Brian's birthday. After dinner Brian took the kids home while I went to my friend Susan's house for a Discovery Toys party. She kindly scheduled it for this night in hopes I could attend and see additional friends. I was glad to see some ladies from our Homeschool Moms' Group and grateful to Susan for allowing me to use her washing machine! (The one in our Kingpsort house doesn't work.) It was a full day, but I was happy to have spent it in the town we have come to call "home" and with dear friends.

This post has become lengthy, so I will end here. Our trip home deserves an entry all its own. Hopefully I will be able to post about it and the birthday party in the next few days.