Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tennessee Drivers: Beware

A highly anticipated event of the summer was Firstborn getting her driver's license. She got her learner's permit last summer, drove as much as she could while in the USA last summer, drove back roads in Turkey with a stick shift cargo van, and we felt she was ready to test. We called to make her appointment and were told that there were no openings until late July or early August! (What? Come on, Tennessee!) She was disappointed. I called to tell her the news while she was out driving with her Grandad. But then I called back and reached an extremely helpful man in the Tenn Dept of Transportation. He told me to hold on, it looked like he had a cancellation if were were willing to drive up to McMinnville for her to test. I said, "We'll take it!"

And when she got home, I told her the story of my first year out of college. I'd worked hard to graduate in 3 years and all I wanted was to teach. Summer was turning into school starting time. My sweet dad put me in the car, and we drove to school after school. We stopped at a pay phone and looked in the yellow pages. I saw a school name "Mt. Pleasant Christian Academy." I called, and the man on the phone said, "I know you. I was your high school basketball coach. I just had a teacher quit this morning. Come see me." The rest was history. The Lord working out a last minute cancellation to surprise and bless my daughter, along with a parent helping to work things out for a disappointed daughter, reminded me very much of that experience. Firstborn threw her arms around me. She'd get to test the next day afterall!

So we made the drive and planned to spend an extra night at the lake house, not far from there.

She's the first. So we usually have to plow the ground with her. We had no idea what to expect, and she was nervous.

She was so happy to see it was an old man testing her. She said it made her less nervous! And other than almost turning left when he said right, she did fine! (When he said, "Wait! What are you doing? I said "right," she said, "Oh, I'm sorry, I was checking my blind spot while you told me." Score for the teenager! I am sure that impressed him!)
She passed, and my little girl is now a licensed driver! We stopped and ate lunch together, and I gave her a new Tennessee t-shirt to congratulate her.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Back Porch Spa

Grandma and I were cordially invited to the Back Porch Spa. You only ever thought of this picnic table as a place to eat on the porch, but it can also serve as a massage table.

The cousins spent hours setting up the back porch as a Spa (Remember when you were little and the set up and anticipation of the game was half the fun?)

We were thrilled to get our garden mud washed off and get the pampering.

And just the Back Porch Spa, you can even bring your laundry to dry while you are getting your mani-pedi!

Summer Fun! It's the best. What creative plans have your children made today? Tell me about them!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Swimming with the Fishes

Big Ben did great on his annual swim lessons. This instructor is so very good. The kids who do not know how to swim are swimming by Day 2! This year Big Ben needed to improve his stroke and work on his dive. It seems every year, the moms who bring their kids and sit and chat for the 45 minutes become new friends.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Reunited and It Feels So Good

After the weekend, it came time to pick up the rest of the Campbell Clan. Though they had early morning workouts and football practices, these two awesome kids agreed to go to the 11PM airport pick up with us.

And surprisingly, Santa and Mrs. Claus showed up, too. (I literally have no idea why he was there. But I think he is the real one.)

We waited and waited. Lots of people came down the airport hall, but then my beautiful daughters and handsome husband finally rounded the corner.

And their grandparents were very, very happy.

And then we grinned and descended the escalator to get their luggage. From behind the pillars came their cousin buddies. Big surprise. Big wonderful hugs and lots of laughter. I think it warmed the hearts of everyone at the luggage terminal. The Singapore toddlers reunited.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Piano Concert

We got here just in time to get to see my nieces perform at their piano concert!

I've never gotten to see them perform before! Way to go, girls!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

One of the Best Days of the Year

You know I love my calling, and I love my "home," but it also takes me far away from many people I love. So, that moment of arrival after being gone for an entire year is very, very special.

My parents faithfully make the drive to come get me, arms open, year after year. (And now that I am a mom, I get that!)

This will likely be one of my favorite pictures of the entire summer. Once these cousins got to each other, they never let go of hands until we arrived home.

My brother treated us to a fun weekend on the lake. I can't tell you the joy of getting to see my two new nephews, who just arrived from Congo last summer at this time. They speak English. They are darling. They are so compliant and sweet. They remembered me! And it's a very, very good thing I am not their mommy. I doubt I could ever say no to them!

My nieces and nephews had all grown so much! This sweet little doll who shares my middle name makes me laugh every day that I get to see her. (Last night she explained to CC that lightning bugs won't electrocute you, as he tried to convince her, they just "glow up.")

My oldest nephew C faithfully got the little ones set up for "duck boarding" (a kid-friendly learning ski board) and knee boarding.

It didn't take long for Big Ben to start trying to emulate Cypress Gardens!

Alan Jackson's house boat (right around the corner from where we hop out of the boat to go potty!) Star struck!

We are not a perfect family, but there's a lot of love and recognizing what a gift we have in each other.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Lake Weekend

We found one weekend in the summer where both families could be at the lake. The kids all bunked up together for some solid sleep. Firstborn put together two French Toast casseroles to pop in the oven for breakfast. 

We woke to rain and enjoyed watching a few funnies from Aunt C's computer. 

CC caught up on emails. 

And of course the hammocks awaited us. 

Soon the clouds cleared and it was time to suit up for the lake! My nephew had two goals for the get his driver's license before his cousin and to outgrow her for the first time in their 16 years of life. He did accomplish one of them! 

The Flight Over the Pond

Just as soon as school ended, we headed out across the Big Pond, as we call the Atlantic Ocean. We'd signed Big Ben up for swim lessons, as we have for the last couple of summers, and they were set to start the morning after our arrival. (You may think this sounds crazy, but after 18 years of annual jet lag, I've learned a few things that work. One of those is getting up and at 'em and in the sunshine right after we get there.) We had the privilege of flying with our family friends as far as Germany. Here's Big Ben next to the love of his life.

And Sweet Cheeks next to her best buddy in all of Turkey. The little doll next to her, the littlest in their family, hadn't flown since she was about 3. I had so much fun sitting across from her watching her raise and lower her tray, order and down a Coke in a minute flat, and lick all the butter on her roll. Her mother, on the far side of me, was out of a reasonable distance to correct any behaviors, which made it all the funnier.

My kids are great travelers. I am so thankful for that. I came with the three youngest this time. CC would arrive a few days later with the other two. Here the girls are drawing unusual animal heads, holding them up to "attach" them to the bodies of people in the airport, then clicking a picture with a phone. The results were hilarious without anyone knowing what they were doing.

Here's my selfie with Big Ben, who was far more interested in a Lord of the Rings lego game on my phone.
 That's better.

After Ankara-Munich-Newark, our next flight was Nashville!

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