Monday, July 31, 2017

The Start of a Big Weekend

Our time in the US just flies, it really does. It's so much fun to get to soak it all in and be with people we hold so dear. For our last weekend all together here and our last weekend to own that lake house, we decided to head up for one last big family get together (and time to pack what was to be kept).

This little doll joined our extended family in June of last year. She's been a lot of fun this summer, as she's started walking. She's wearing a little dress I bought for her oldest sister in Singapore 16 years ago! 

These boys have played non-stop. No fussing, no tattling, no idea where they are. Big Ben's dinner decisions are based on what he can fix and eat the fastest so he can get back to them. (PBJ usually)

We all got to go see the oldest Fish cousin play a football scrimmage on Friday night before we drove to the lake. 

These two used to be the oldest and youngest cousins, as so had a special bond. Even though the birth order has changed; their friendship remains. 

We stuck kids everywhere and headed out for the drive! 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Mules, Cat Eyes, and Connections (aka keeping you posted with random pictures)

The kids have been zipping around in this mule, which is like a heavy-duty golf cart. It's great driving practice for them, and when I need a tomato from my sister-in-law, I can get it fast with a mule and a kid behind the wheel! These things are always zipping back and forth between houses. It's funny because if I need a kid to come back home, there's always a volunteer to drive to go get them. 

So, our time is clicking. CC and the 4 kids head back in about a week. I have a bit longer, but it will be filled with packing, driving, and dropping my girl at college. CC and I are starting to run all those last minute errands. Some new glasses for me was on my priority list for the summer. I had not had my eyes checked in a few years, and I knew I was struggling more to see. According to my exam, my astigmatism is not the only issue. I am nearsighted primarily, but I'm also starting to struggle with reading up close. I giggled at one of the lines he asked me to read. Why that was funny to me, I don't know. But I knew I flat out failed it. So, he suggested it was time to go to bifocals! I'm getting old! I will say that bifocals today, as progressive lenses, don't quite have the like the strict, mean librarian look. I was going for classy and fun. Actually, I was going for whatever Firstborn helped me find because my eyes were so dilated, I could hardly see! She kept looking at me and saying, "Oh, Mama, I'm sorry. It's sad to see your eyes like that." And then I would look at her and say, "Meow." ha ha. We had a ball. We took picture after picture and texted them to CC. He loves a good analyzation project, so he gave us good feedback for eliminating. I finally found 2 frames. Then the guy told me one pair was too small to make progressives, so back to the blind-as-a-bat search for more. I finally came up with these as my favorite pair. In the past, I've worn my glasses off and on, but I think I will be wearing them more often now, as I've noticed more fuzzies, headaches, and bloodshot eyes on occasion. CC told me I rocked them, so we turned them in and will get the new glasses next week. 

The rest of the afternoon was delightful. We drove into the town square and met L for ice cream. She had a graduation gift for Firstborn, and we crammed a few weeks worth of talking into an hour. I love a friend like that. We handed out hugs (she refuses to say bye to Firstborn, as the Turkey/Tennessee connection will be strong for seeing each other), and headed back home. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Summer Stuff

The African braid was getting looser and looser, so we decided it was time to take it out. It was all hands on deck as we picked the tiny braids out. 

We giggled and giggled at the long extensions used to anchor it. Sweet Cheeks turned them into a horse tail, which she promptly wore over to her cousin's house. 

I honestly thought her curly hair was beautiful when it all came out! Will we ever do this again? I'm not sure. But I've got one talented daughter (Miss Middler) who braids beautifully. Maybe we can recreate a simpler, non-extension version. 

We've been finding odd jobs to help around here, one of which was weeding a flower bed on an extreme slope. After we finished, Firstborn promptly marched in and bossed her Grandma that she was NOT to ever get any sort of idea to try that herself. Firstborn assured her that she would keep it weeded on her weekends she visits. (Whew, that's a weird concept. Visiting grandparents on weekends? She's never lived in the US to see them in her 18 years!) We tried a serious picture here. I've decided my smile looks better, wrinkles and all! 

Big Ben has been learning to drive the mule with Grandaddy. Grandaddy says the skill he needs to work on the most is not looking around at everyone else while he's driving. That does not surprise me in the least. 

We've had some sleepovers and lots of plain ol' fun. 

Our days in the summer click by ever so fast. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Lake House Fun

Fairly soon after we got back up to Middle Tennessee, we traveled to the family lake house, which has SOLD. This is an answer to prayer. It was time, for several reasons. But that lake house was built at the perfect time and has provided many dividends, not just financial. It's provided family memories.

Remember that time we first drove up and Grandma and Grandaddy hung flags from all the countries of the world where the grandchildren were born?

Remember that time Sweet Cheeks got sick and we tried to get her to smile for the cousin picture?

Remember that time we were swimming and threw our unwanted Fruit Loops snack into the lake, not realizing we were surrounded by a water snake that liked Fruit Loops?

Remember that time you learned to ski?

Remember that time I made coffee with no filter and Grandma whispered, "It's because she lives in Turkey. Honey, they don't have anything over there."

So many memories, so much fun. I'm deeply grateful that my family invests in people, not things, which made these memories possible.

So, we have 2 more weekends there before we hand it over to the new owners.

I enjoyed my quiet time and coffee on the porch in the mornings. 

Our newest family member MQ is a little scared of men (other than her daddy and grandaddy), so she tears up with CC walks in the room. He's had some fun with that kind of power, but he decided to start helping the bonding process by scooping his little island niece up! 

Speaking of scooping someone up. 

We had a great time....cranking out meals for 20 people, assigning bunk beds to be shared with cousins, sunscreening everyone up, seeing the string of hammocks full of kids swinging on the porch. The older I get, the more I'm relishing every second I have with the people I love. What about you? 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Crossing Tennessee

We finished up our time in Memphis, keenly aware that it will be a long time before we see family and friends there again. 

The kids had one last fun outing to Shelby Farms. 

And some of the last bits of time weren't planned outings. They were just sittin' on the counter waiting for dinner. I'm deeply grateful, more than I can express, that the cousins on both sides are being raised by godly parents. 

Twinkle painted these wedding and baby gifts for me to give with a pretty frame. We have a barter system. I buy clothes at thrift shops; the kids do art for me! 

Just before heading out of Memphis, we took Twinkle to the airport. We had acquired a free flight voucher, so we agreed to let her fly to North Carolina to see a friend who had moved away from Turkey. It ended up being a nightmare flight, but a fun visit. Instead of Memphis-Charlotte, it ended up being Memphis-Greensboro-DC-Atlanta. We finally got her home thanks to her Papa, not United! 

We drove from West Tennessee to Middle Tennessee with a stop at the Old Country Store in Jackson. 

This sweet baby was still around when we got to Primm Springs. 

And so our couple of weeks here begins. 

Monday, July 24, 2017


The cousins all went to a Redbirds game together, just as our time was winding down in Memphis. Firstborn said that her little brother couldn't stop talking about "catching a ball" at the baseball game. She knew it was just highly unlikely to happen, but she prayed that God would somehow let him catch a ball. 

And my goodness, he did. The ball went out (though they were WAY far from where the balls were being hit), hit a chair, bounced back in, then Big Ben raised his hands and the ball player tossed it to him. I'm sure that guy will never know how much he made our day. I got this picture via text and couldn't stop smiling. 

The kids had a fabulous time. These cousins are so special to us. 

And while all this was happening, the parents went out to dinner. We don't really even think about where anymore. It's sushi. Why change a good thing? I love them so much. They have treated me like a sister, not just a sister-in-law. "Dinner Out" means our time is winding down, which makes me a little sad, but we had plenty of laughs in spite of it, especially while getting a Starbucks drink in a ritzy part of town and discovering a small cockroach invasion in the joint!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Reasons to Celebrate

We had a simple and fun graduation celebration for Firstborn. We prayed for her, had dinner and cake and ice cream, then watched parts of the graduation video. 

When family can't come to graduation, we just keep partying when we get to them! 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Sweet Cheek's 12th Birthday: part 2

We enjoyed our Second Annual IHOP Birthday Breakfast. I'm thinking this may be tradition. 

She will have so much fun with her macrame kit from her Campbell grandparents. 

Aunt Boo surprised everyone with a pair of tiny hands. Here's their silly photo. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Sweet Cheek's 12th Birthday: part 1

We celebrated Sweet Cheek's birthday with our Memphis family at Putt Putt. That place has been around forever! 

It's pretty amazing when you can make up a party of eight with just siblings and cousins! 

Sweet Cheeks opened her gift from Aunt Boo and Uncle D. They gave her baking supplies. She was so excited to get it! Sprinkles, fancy measuring spoons, measuring cups. She is all set to bake when we get back. 

We were rained out that night so we didn't get to do go karts or water bumper boats. She had a great attitude about it. We got extra video game credits. She and I hit the skee ball game! 

She did the ropes course for the first time. 

And so did this guy! 

Maybe since CC enjoyed this motorcycle game so much, he'll be more inclined to get me that motorcycle I want for Mother's Day. 

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