Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Big Guy Turns Twenty!

Taylor's 20th birthday was on Wednesday, May 26.  Because he had to work all day, and Joe had to work that evening, we did not officially celebrate his birthday that day.  Instead, we planned to have a big cook out and birthday bash three days later, on Saturday . . . . but that was not to be, because on Friday, Alan's Mom passed away unexpectedly, and our world was turned upside down. 

Fortunately, we had taken the time to go out for ice cream on Taylor's birthday, as it would be quite awhile before we got back to celebrating his special day!

Here are some pictures from Tay's birthday night at Brusters:

Life got pretty crazy after that, and we were not able to squeeze in a birthday celebration for Big T until June 19th!  We invited our good friends, the D's, over for a cook-out and swim party; however, thunderstorms crashed our celebration, so we did not get to enjoy the pool, but everyone had plenty of fun anyway, as you will see from all the crazy pics!! 


Tay was excited that I made him his favorite cake -- my special cheese cake recipe!  It ended up being a hit with everyone!

Taylor took a giant breath, and nearly blew the cake out of Joe's strong hands!!!    But, don't worry  . . . he got all twenty candles with ease!   ;)

A bucket of toys for the birthday boy -- everyone knows that 20-something fellas still like toys!  ;)

And some cologne from American Eagle.

It is hard to believe that Taylor is Twenty!!   (And by this posting, one month closer to twenty-one!!!)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Barely Blogging

Have you stopped by my blog lately and found it strangely quiet?  Please don't assume that the state of my blog reflects my life!  Actually, quite the opposite is true!  Generally speaking, the quieter my blog, the busier my days!! 

I just got home from spending the last week in the land of "smiling faces and beautiful places" (my home state of South Carolina).  My sister and her family joined me and my family for a wonderful visit with my parents.  Our main goal for the week was to put together a 50th anniversary reception for them, which we did.  Everything came together beautifully, and it was "an epic success," according to one of my sons!  ;)  We had a lot of fun working together to honor and bless our parents, and I'd love to share pictures with you.  However, I failed the first test of a successful blogger -- I did not take a single picture all week!!!!!  Fortunately, my sister took a few pictures, and my niece, Anna, kept her camera busy .  So, whenever they get around to finding their camera cord, transferring pictures to their computer, and emailing them to me  -- I will try to post some pictures and blog about the adventures of my week!  

I still have a May birthday to blog about, too, which means I failed the second test of a successful blogger, which is to blog about an event in the same week it happened!  Those bloggers who are really on top of their game actually blog about events in the same day they happen!  I don't think I will ever be one of those bloggers!  :)  Apparently, I struggle to blog about special events in the same month they occur!!  :)

Unfortunately, I have two more birthdays coming up very quickly!  Perhaps, I should just lump them all together in one Big Birthday Blog Post!  :)

If you think I've neglected my blog lately, you should see my house!!  It is even more neglected!  Many projects are begging for attention!  So, I'm afraid I better turn my attention to catching up around the house first, and put blogging on the back burner for a little longer.  I do hope to post some fun and interesting posts soon!!

Just wondering?  Has your summer break been as busy as mine thus far?  Are you finding more or less time to blog now that summer is in full swing?? 

Saturday, June 19, 2010

"A Night Out on the Town!"

On Wednesday, I was told not to cook dinner!   Late that afternoon, there was a lot of scurrying around and whispering and closing of blinds to the back porch and clanging of pots and pans.  The scent of secrecy perfumed the air.

About 7 pm, Taylor came to inform Alan and me that he would be our Chauffeur for the evening!  He offered me his arm, helped us into the backseat of Alan's Suburban, and then proceeded to drive us around town for about twenty minutes, before finally delivering us to the "best restaurant in town!"

This is where we were to dine - on our own back porch, lovingly turned into a romantic little bistro, with carefully placed plants and shimmering tea-light candles and the most perfect jazz music playing softly in the background!

The special evening was carefully planned and prepared by these two -- my 16-year-old son, Joe and his girlfriend, Abby, who were transformed for the night into our chef, waiter and maitre d!

We were served a delicious three-course meal.  We started with a nice tossed salad, and then were presented with these plates of grilled steak, garlic mashed potatoes, and steamed broccoli.  Yum!!

This young waiter-in-training kept our glasses full of iced tea!  :)

We were served our favorite flavors of ice cream for dessert; but our servers obviously had a sense of humor!  They gave me this generous bowl of ice cream, while giving Alan, the notorious-eater-of-big-bowls-of-ice-cream, this teensy little serving!!!   You should have seen his face!  :)

Apparently, that was just his "appetizer," because they soon appeared with his special Papa Bear Bowl well stocked with ice cream!!!  :)

They even thought to put a "cherry" on top!   :)

This cute little waitress-in-training brought us the check with a smile!

Take a good look at our bill!!!!!

Abby and Joe came out to make sure our dinner was satisfactory . . .

And to make sure we had no complaints with our bill!!!   :)

Of course, we complimented them on the delicious meal and the fine service!

And as you would expect, Joe responded with, "It's my pleasure!"  ;)

Thank you Abby and Joe and staff for a very special and memorable "night on the town!"

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lose One to Get One!

My fiesty little five-year-old, Bethany, has been keeping busy for the last month wiggling her four loose teeth!   Finally, that stubborn top tooth gave up the struggle, leaving her with quite an interesting gap and an adorable toothless grin!!  :)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

God Knows My Path

The paths we must travel in this life are not always easy, but no matter what we encounter, we have the assurance that God knows our paths, including every bump along the way.  Nothing has taken Him by surprise.  That is the theme of the book I read while on our recent trip.  Four long days in the van gave me ample time to read this inspiring book by Romanian Christian, Silvia Tarniceriu -- God Knows My Path.

In this book, Silvia shares about her life journey after finally being given official permission to leave Romania and immigrate to the United States.  It is a sequel to her first book -- God Knows My Size -- where she tells the very moving story of her life growing up in communist/athiest Romania, how she came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and later helped smuggle Bibles into her country, and how she was followed by the secret police and eventually imprisoned for her faith.  This is an inspiring book that you won't want to put down!!  It will encourage you to appreciate the freedoms that we still enjoy in this country.

I had the privilege of meeting Silvia a couple years ago and hearing her share her story in person.  She is such a delightful lady with a joyful, bubbly personality, yet she cried freely as she shared the horrendous things she endured under Romania's communist regime.  I can't really express what a blessing it was to meet her and hear her testimony.  I urge you to add this book to your summer reading list!  It would be good to read aloud to your children, too.  With the direction our country is going, I believe that it won't be long before Christians are persecuted right here in America.  :(

I wanted to share a passage from God Knows My Path that really stood out to me while reading it on our trip: 

"It might be easier to show off my Christianity in church, when we are in public, or somewhere among strangers.  However, the real me is seen when I m among those who know me the best, and when things don't go the way I want.  My spiritual maturity in Christ is demonstrated in the midst of the roaring waves.  I am being tested when I feel ignored or misunderstood; when I am bypassed and overlooked intentionally, or when I am disappointed by the closest friends or relatives.  That is when I prove if I am a new creation in Christ, or whether I am still in the flesh."  p. 325

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Saying Good-bye

Finally it was time to fulfill the purpose of our trip and say our last good-byes to Mum Mum.

As we wound around the narrow, curvy road that led to the Parsons Cemetery, I was not prepared for the view that awaited me.  I know my pictures don't begin to capture it, but this was the prettiest and most peaceful cemetery I've ever seen!

The rain of the previous days, left the earth freshly scrubbed and smelling clean and fresh, while the golden rays of the sun warmed all that it touched.

Ironically, my mom has an uncle and aunt buried just a few hundred feet from Mum Mum's mother and grandmother!  So, we walked over there to see their grave and take a picture.  Even though they are squinting in the sun, I love this picture of my precious Mom and Dad, who will be celebrating fifty years of marriage in September!

This is Alan's sister, Janet, and her family.

I hope this is not too morbid for you all, but I really love these two pictures of Mum Mum's strong grandsons acting as pallbearers, and the way little Matt is right there with them!  It just touches my heart.

Janet's pastor shared some scriptures and a few words of comfort in his endearing Irish accent and both Alan and Janet shared from their hearts about their mom and her love for them and her grandchildren.  Then, Ashlyn sang Amazing Grace while Janet accompanied her on the guitar, and later Janet sang The Lord's Prayer.  It was a simple and sweet service.

Oh, I forgot to tell you about my surprise!!  Right before the service began, I noticed two guests that I certainly did not expect to see -- my Uncle John and Aunt Nancy, who drove over from Morgantown, WV!  :)  John is my Dad's younger brother.  They had not seen the children in many years, and were certainly amazed at how much they had all grown! Here they are standing with my son Christopher John!  There was something about his name that they liked!  :)

I was not expecting to have a mini family reunion while in WV, but how special to get to see relatives from both my Mom's side of the family and my Dad's side of the family while we were there!! 

After saying our tearful good-byes to Mum Mum, it was time to say good-bye to Janet and Ralph and their family.  It was not easy to part ways, knowing that with the distance between us and our busy schedules, that it will likely be a long time before we are all together again.

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