Road Trip

My next few entries will be a bit retroactive as I am trying to catch up on some recent happenings which I just have not found time yet to blog about. After a year and a half of staying pretty close to home, save for a couple of brief trips to Minco, OK, and San Marcos, TX, I managed to take two week-long trips away from home in three and a half weeks time.

The first was a 3600 mile round trip in late July in our minivan to Massachusetts. This drive takes about 35 hours one way. Abigail and I, along with my sibs Sandy and Andrew, chose to drive straight through so as to maximize our time for visiting with family. (Our other brother Pete flew up separately.) Jay graciously stayed home with our two youngest and my saint of a mother-in-law cared for the boys during the days while Daddy was at work. I can never thank them enough for their loving support and immense help, without which I never could’ve made the trip! Thanks also to my two fearless codrivers, also without whom I couldn’t have driven such a long distance! There were a few bumps along the way, like Abigail’s stomach upset and several unplanned detours but we saw much beautiful country (love those Tennessee mountains!) and saved a TON of money by going this route instead of the more sane and much shorter plane ride/rental car option!

IMG_2009_DCE.JPGWhile in Mass our main focuses were visiting Pa who had taken a bad turn in his health, and giving encouragement to Lolly. We spent a good part of each day up at the nursing home, attempting to cheer Pa. Though for the time we were there, his mental faculties were not what they once were, his immense joy at seeing all of us is something I will always remember. Lolly housed us at her apartment and we girls spent most of our nights there while my two brothers bunked at our uncle’s rental home a few towns away.

One of the neatest outworkings of the trip in my mind was that for the first time, all seven of Lolly and Pa’s grandkids were all together in one place. And Pa got to see that and enjoy it. I also had the opportunity to meet my littlest cousin, young Zach, who at eight years old seems more like Abigail’s cousin than mine! Abigail had a grand time playing with the three “big boy cousins” as she refers to them and even learned to pillow fight, a skill which she quickly taught Jonathan upon our return home. I also want to note that for a 4 year old who naps every day I kept her on a ridiculous schedule and yet she still managed to be wonderful company to everyone. She had but one actual nap during the week away and most nights she was up till 11pm. Click here to see more pictures of our trip.

When we originally planned our week to Massachusetts, we knew Pa was sick, but we did not know it would be the last time we’d visit him in this life. How thankful I am that we had the opportunity to travel north, to spend precious time with our dear Pa and to enjoy the company of so much additional family. I feel tremendously blessed to have made this trip. God has been good to us.

Missing My Pa

When you lose a person you love there are so many memories and sweet things that just cannot be captured and communicated through writing. At least not through my writing. What follows is my weak attempt to write a small remembrance of someone whom I loved dearly and who had a profound impact on my life.

Two weeks ago today my maternal grandfather, Augustus Frederick Frick died. I miss him terribly, for even though we have rarely lived in the same state let alone the same town, we were close. We managed to see each other frequently and we wrote and talked often with each other. He and my grandmother, even though in their eighties, have travelled down to Texas several times since Jay and I were married to visit with the grand and greatgrandkids. And, despite an 83+ year distance in their ages and an 1800 mile distance between their residences my children, especially my oldest, Abigail got the opportunity to know and love him in these last years of his life.
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Remembering Susan

I believe many of you who read this blog also visit Dishnet and so you likely already know that a week ago today Susan Dishman “soared to heaven above”. How glad I am that her earthly sufferings are over and that she is now in glory, in the very presence of God and experiencing eternity. Yet I ache for her family and friends who miss her and feel a huge sense of loss at her parting. The way she lived her life is a huge encouragement and example to me and I count myself immensely blessed to have known her. If you think of it in the days, weeks and months ahead, please remember to pray for her family and those who were closest to her, especially her dear husband John, that he and all of them will be comforted in their time of sorrow. And if you haven’t already, stop by and read John’s beautiful eulogy to his beloved wife. Praise God for this sweet and faithful family.

Hospitality with Humility

(Note: names changed to protect the innocent!)

Yesterday shortly after noon, I had a friend drop by. We’ll call her Annie. She was coming by to pick up something little, so I wasn’t sure whether she’d actually come in to the house or just run to the door, grab the aforementioned item, and leave quickly. Well, given her two little cherubs think our dog (we’ll call him Kid) is very cool, she voted for getting them out of the car and heading into the house.

Before I begin this next paragraph, you must understand that in keeping with my pride, I generally like my house to look a certain way when people come over. I like it to look nice for us but that desire is almost always heightened when the potential for company is on the horizon. I imagine many people feel this way, but I might be worse than most.

Well, as Annie and crew crossed the threshold into the House of Thorne I warned them in no uncertain terms that my home was potentially in danger of being declared a disaster area. (It is probably unkind of me to use such terminology given the recent devastation Claudette has brought to the Texas coast.)

Truthfully, though, it was indeed, ahem, untidy, to put it mildly. I had just returned from a mammoth Target trip and hadn’t put much of anything away yet. So the counters and kitchen table and even some of the floor were filled with groceries. The dishwasher was clean but not emptied so there was an accumulation of dirty dishes strewn across the counters near the sink. Then there was the little issue of the chocolate chip cookie bars I’d baked the evening before for Small Group. I made them last thing before it was time to leave for church, then I’d been away after group was over and didn’t return home till after midnight so doing dishes was not high on my priority list. The laundry I had earlier taken the time to fold had since fallen (or been thrown from) the love seat so it was decorating the living room floor. Meanwhile, my two eldest (we’ll call them Abishag and Nathan joe) had gotten out every board game we own and littered the dining table with them. They were all in varying states of being played. Lastly, the baby (we’ll refer to him as Nicolai) had contributed to the general state of chaos by plucking most of the magnetic letters off the fridge door.

Ok, I know I’m not making it sound as impressively awful as it was, but you have to trust me, it was bad, VERY VERY BAD!! However, I had just made a fresh pot of coffee which smelt very wonderful. So, as our friends made their way through the danger zone, tripping on target bags and magnetic letters, I meekly offered Annie a cup of coffee. She very bravely accepted and although we had to push aside the discarded mixer from the previous evening in order to prepare our coffees, they were warm and tasty nonetheless. Meanwhile, the previously mentioned Abishag and Nathan Joe offered to share their new toys (Viewmasters and slides purchased just minutes before at “The Target”) with their visiting friends. After picking myself up off the floor from the shock, I turned back to Annie and the two us had a good conversation in the midst of the mess. Our friends stayed on for the better part of an hour and a half and it was a lovely visit. For the most part: there was one little incident involving blood but nobody had to go to the emergency room!

I learned something in all this: if one can swallow their pride it is possible, even with a very messy casa, to extend hospitality to those who knock at your door. Being brave enough to allow Annie to enter the abominably untidy House of Thorne yielded a wonderful time together over coffee which, while offered humbly, was received warmly. I was immensely thankful for friends who accept me, my progeny and my house the way they are. What a blessing.

Look Out Folks!

He wears Thomas pants, carries a purse and loves his HoneyDude. His name is Jonathan and he is making waves around the Horne household.

As Jonathan is our middle child, I am perhaps more concerned about making certain he is not lost somewhere between the oldest and the youngest. So I try to encourage and applaud his progress where I can. He is a delightful little boy who is passionate about everything he does. This entry will be devoted to chronicling some of his newest interests, accomplishments and cute little sayings which made us giggle.

For the past couple weeks Jonathan has worked very hard at learning to use the potty. His promised reward? The coveted Thomas the tank engine underpants purchased at “The Target” which he now wears proudly (and keeps dry!!). We are very excited about his progress in this area and think he is doing stupendously!

Given his older sister’s collections of things girlie, Jonathan has shown an interest in toys and pasttimes outside the realm of “normal” boy interests. Just as Abigail loves to play with trains and cars and the like, Jonathan finds that wearing big floppy hats and carrying gold lame handbags is just part of being a kid. To hear him exclaim, “Wait, I forgot my purse!” before we head somewhere in the car gives his Daddy fits but I find it rather amusing.

Earlier in the week we had a new kind of melon with our supper. The kids really enjoyed it; we usually have cantaloupe or watermelon around here so this green version was a nice change. But imagine our surprise when Jonathan politely asked, “Please have more honeyDUDE!!”

Tonight as I was singing him his requisite “Five Little Ducks” song before I tucked him in, I have to admit I sort of cheated and went from “5” to “3” to “1”. It was late and the kids should’ve been in bed much earlier but we attended a church service tonight and so returned home past their bedtime. Anyway, as I was singing my abridged version of his bedtime song and neared the end, he interrupted me with “Mommy, can you please sing ALL the ducks?” Smart kid.

“Church” at the Hornes’

This morning while Nicolas napped, Abigail and Jonathan looked for something to do to amuse themselves. Their request for a video was denied, and their creative game of “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” as reenacted on our living room sofa, met with Mommy’s disapproval. So they put their minds to recreating yesterday’s church service, as seen through the eyes of a preschooler and a toddler. It will probably be insightful for you to know that at Town North we use instruments of widely varying types in our worship service, so our kids have been exposed to everything from organs to guitars, violins to tympani.

Out came the Fisher Price instruments: drums, maracas, xylophones, tambourines. Abigail (the leader) announced, “First, we sing the Gloria Patri!” Which they proceeded to do, in very loud voices, while they marched enthusiastically around our living area, through the foyer and back through the dining room. This was accompanied by much banging of the aforementioned percussive instruments. Suddenly, “Time to pray!” ordered the rather bossy older sister. Four little feet scurried to stand at the edge of the dining table, where with bowed heads they recited the Lord’s Prayer together. Then it was back to singing again. After insisting they each acquire new instruments for making noise, Abigail led them in a very grand version of the Doxology, complete with Hallelujahs throughout, more hearty marching and the cacophony of various instrumentation. Immediately following this second song, it was time again to pray the Lord’s Prayer.

This pattern went on for about 20 minutes: loud singing of various songs while rhythmically beating little instruments, always followed by a recitation of the Lord’s Prayer. Until finally, perhaps tuckered out from so much singing and praying, little Jonathan meekly asked, “Can I go to nursery now?”

Meanwhile, Back On the Home Front…

I had all but decided not to bother blogging about our week at home whilst Jay was in China, but his teaser on an earlier entry has left me no choice but to give an account. Plus I have had several inquiries from folks who are curious about my experiences during the China week. This then is an attempt to satisfy those curiosities!

Firstly however, I would like to politely disagree with Jay’s assessment of who had the harder week. Though ours was certainly momentous and hard in many ways, I do not believe he had the easier of the two times given he was in a foreign land, eating foreign duck feet, etc. When I think of my poor sick husband, thousands of miles away from home, sick and alone in his hotel room, worrying that he had come down with SARS and would not be able to leave China! Now that is stress!! I on the other hand had the support and presence of family and friends close at hand during our various little experiences. And even more importantly, despite the hardships during our week, I felt an overall sense of peace about everything, which in light of what happened, is quite amazing and none other than a tremendous blessing from the hand of God.

But, having made these disclaimors I will now attempt to greatly try your patience as I recount in detail the events of our week! To start things off nice and easy, I made the decision to go on a 240 mile road trip that we might attend our new niece’s baptism in Minco, OK. It seemed a grand undertaking (at least to me) to drive three kids by myself up to attend the church service early Sunday morning but we were really excited about seeing Charis baptized and the kids were ready to go and very thrilled at the prospect of visiting with their cousins. Though we had little sleep the night before on account of wakeups and power outages, I did get a couple solid hours and we had a fairly uneventful drive up except for bad storms the first hour. We arrived 45 minutes before the service began so we had time to change, and enjoy a small snack. Everyone that is except Abigail, who began telling me that she wasn’t feeling well, and judging by her refusal to eat food I guessed she was right. But on to church we went.
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Everyone’s a Critic!

A bit earlier today, I was changing Jonathan’s diaper before his afternoon nap. I happened to be singing something to him (as I often do around here!) when he interrupted me in midsong with,

“Please don’t sing Mommy…it give me bad dreams.”

Incredulous, I replied, “Oh, don’t worry Jonathan, I don’t think my singing will cause you to have bad dreams.” And continued on with my song….

To which he insisted, “No, Mommy, please don’t sing anymore…I don’t want the bad dreams!”

Tough crowd around here!!

Revenge of Duck Foot

I arrived in Beijing late Sunday afternoon and successfully made it through the airport after standing in approximately 5 different long, slow lines. A driver, who had my name scrawled in black marker on the back of a piece of paper, was waiting in the crush of taxi drivers and others who were yelling at me to acquire my business. He spoke no English, drove like a man with a death-wish, but got me to my hotel in one piece. He held his steering wheel in what I believed to be a fairly unique way with his hands on the middle part of the wheel positioned such that he could either honk the horn or flash the brights in rapid succession with finger twitches. It didn’t seem to matter that he couldn’t work the turn signals from this position since he didn’t actually use lanes in the classic sense of actually driving in a particular lane.

Duck_Foot_small.jpgI didn’t sleep particularly well that first night though I was incredibly weary, having been up for some 30 hours. It more closely resembled four consecutive naps than an actual night of sleep. The first day in the office went well, though around four in the afternoon I found myself vertically challenged as my body tried to shut down. That night I got an actual night of sleep, though it was far too short (perhaps 5 hours or so). Tuesday was more of the same, but culminated in several of us going out to a classy restaurant. We had a nicely appointed room to ourselves with great service and mostly excellent food.

Now, I like to try new things, so when they served the duck feet, I figured I wouldn’t reflect on it, I’d just eat one. Turns out that this restaurant was classy enough to actually remove the bones. What I discovered was that once you take out the bones, the only things left in a duck foot are all the parts I most despise in any form of fowl: fatty skin, ligaments, tendon, and cartilage. It was utterly disgusting, but I got it down. The picture of the moment was taken on a phone camera, so its not the best resolution, but it captured the moment fairly well. I was glad to have the whole episode behind me and went on to enjoy the remainder of the meal.
Continue reading “Revenge of Duck Foot”