Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Three Generation Cross Country Adventure: Christmas and Siblings

Holiday Joy. Family Togetherness. Siblings.  

To say my heart is full is to say something as insightful as to say that there is gravity on Planet Earth. Obvious. Evident. Abundant and discernible with every breath. This is the season of reflection and my observations and my blessings are as manifest and bright-shining as the lights that twinkle from the palm trees that surround me.

2013 Christmas is the year of the first ever, three generation cross country road-show in the green minivan. Which is to say that I have had hours upon hours to reflect on my many blessings. The five of us. One daughter. Three WonderPeeps. Three consecutive nights in different hotels along the highways and byways. Trekking from the frozen tundra of Midwestern OH where snowmen dotted front yards to our little oasis in the palms. And so we set off together. 

My son-in-law is deployed. "Daddy is in the desert." My regular readers know how very grateful I am to you for your earnest prayers on his behalf. His service during the holidays, makes his daily abscence all the more poignant. We are so grateful for his willingness and training to serve. 

We have an ocean at our beaconing. It all sounds good in theory, right? Every grandma's dream.... surround yourself with your Wonders -- to experience the joy of the season. Arm your GPS, make some lists and set forth. 

This pose happened QUITE serendipitously! Which gave me a GREAT IDEA!!!
This pose happened QUITE serendipitously! Which gave me a GREAT IDEA!!! Stay tuned! Do you see it coming? 

And just like that we're off. Into the unknown. Jammies and hotel elevators are sufficient excitement to generate genuine smiles of delight. Our road trip is designed to morph from three generations to four! Our plan includes a visit to MY parents. The rendez-vous of the year. From as far away as Paraguay our extended family will come together. My nephew and his new wife have also circled this exact moment in time to be part of the festivities. 

How brilliant of my parents to have chosen a home that overlooks a pond. After eleven hours of minivan togetherness there are WonderPeeps READY to throw rocks into water. Our arrival is the final piece of the puzzle of anticipation. This next little glimpse is the bulk of the "next generation." Baby Nathaniel is napping as we pull up, but you get the picture.  

So much has happened since our last all-out holiday extravaganza. Our tribe has expanded. There are new additions of full grown 'cousins' that have to be introduced to each other. Talk about FUN! Here you see our two daughters, one hubby, the WonderPeeps and 'new' cousin Bella pausing long enough for a snap. 

BTW: That's our SIL, Navy-man Zac pictured above. He has newly embraced a VEGAN lifestyle. FWIW: That's about a hundred steps beyond vegetarian. What an amazing transformation his body has undergone in the half-a-year since his commitment to a healthier approach to eating. He is a walking billboard for change. I am totally and officially agog at what he has done. The two of them together are newly trim and invigorated and inspiring. Numerous notes-to-self have been made. 

The afternoon was spent in a field trip to my sister's new place of employment. A SWAMP. I kid you not. A real swamp with alligators and armadillos and hiking and ALLIGATORS! I had to take a raincheck on that experience, but the Peeps were all aclamor over the sites and sounds. 

Next up? A calculated experience on my part. Last month when we visited the National Museum of Art, I purchased a set of 'building materials' at the UBBER gift shop that I knew would be crowd pleasers for generations to come. Sure enough. These plastic pieces of artforms were a sure hit with the discerning crew. Ages 5 through 12 were all mesmerized and this provided a perfect integration for the elder tribesmen of the fourth generation.  I am in adoration of the deeply focused faces as they get underway together. 

It's a challenge to get everyone into one photo frame, especially when using an automatic timer on a camera...... but we are determined. Ramon's cell phone has the most reliable timing mechanism. HIS PHONE! Technology! The majority of faces below have eyes open and smiles shining and at least a peek-a-boo of facial evidence of participation in all of this throng of emotions and exuberance. 

We are fortunate. Oh-so-incredibly fortunate. My parents are well and able to juggle all of the comings and goings of this three ring circus. Awards for organization are deserving for everyone pictured. It is truly a TEAM effort to get everyone assembled from the various corners of the earth. Meals have been assigned to various subdivisions of family teams and it all goes off with amazing efficiency. My sweet hubby gets plenty of credit. He is a marvel. He is a rock. He is a contributor. He did it all! Chauffeur. Banquet creator. My gift-from-heaven. 

Here we are again, all cleaned up after attending church together. We have a waitress willing to act as family photographer on this occasion. The restaurant setting also affords a little more physical space for the set up. My brother-in-law, Dale has been called into work, so our tribe of twenty-one is now only twenty, but we have had communion together and now the feast.  

There are miracles within miracles documented by this photo. I think it has been two years since we had even the five of six of us in one place at the same time. We are all missing our deployed Scott right about now and are able to speak to him on the phone as we await the arrival of our meal. Again with the technology. At every juncture we reach out with technology to be sure to include him and let him know how much he is missed. Sarah is in tears and I am so glad that she is surrounded by the rest of us. Not exactly an equal swap, but thank goodness she is not 'alone' and without him. 

The real marvel is the miracle that is Sarah-in-stripes and the year that she has had. Last Christmas she was only walking with the assistance of a cane and required the periodic support of a wheelchair for traveling any distance. She was assigned to a pain clinic for ongoing assistance beyond her several dozen pain management prescriptions. There were some rather bleak days a year ago. Bleak indeed. {What is the synonym for fifty shades past bleak?} 

Here she is with an entirely new chapter in her life! Extensive surgery, many prayers and much rehabilitation have her kicking up her heels again. Miracle indeed. This is not even one of my Debbie-esque exaggerations. It's a miracle folks. The power of prayer and a dedicated medical team is a mighty combination. 

Noelle asked for some vegetables for a Christmas present, for their kitchen. 
This is what I cam up with! 
Can't wait to see them on the wall. 


So here we are. Safe and sound at the beach! 
This is minute number one of the week that we have ahead. 
What a treasure to be able to give this gift to the WonderPeeps. 
My love knows no bounds for this trio. That would be any grandparent's sentiment. 
Watching them splash into the ocean for the first time?
PRICELESS! I am the one in tears. 

Remember that serendipitous pose of Sarah and the peeps at the beginning of this article? 
Did you notice that I had a brainstorm after it was taken? 

I was able to get ahold of Scott in the desert. 
I was able to explain my brainstorm. 

He was able to get this image captured and transported to me. 

With my growing skills over at Picmonkey I was able to create this composite and get this printed in time for Santa's arrival. 
It is the gifts you give your adult children that they are least expecting, that mean the most. 

Hug those that you hold most dear. 
Thanks for spending some time here with us. 

Please hold tight, the reason for the season. 

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!
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