Monday, May 30, 2016

Alabama Times...

 It's time to say goodbye again. Thankfully more wonderful time with family and friends is ahead, as we drive to Indiana tomorrow. But, we're saying goodbye to these Alabama family and friends for at least 6 months. Always bittersweet... But we have so many wonderful memories from the last 10 days! Tried to pare them down, but there are still a ton of pictures!

Walking our old road was still a highlight. Though the heat did get to us if we got out too late! But first thing in the morning with my big girl, still wearing pjs since it is so secluded, feet enjoying the sand, picking huckleberries and blackberries and teaching her how to get the sweetness from a honeysuckle... It doesn't get much better.

 My sister Maria and her girls came for the weekend - they were so sweet playing with both girls!

 Now there are TWO girls enjoying the swings! Every morning after breakfast you would usually find us here.

 Dad accompanied the girls and I on a trip to the park. So nice to have an extra pair of arms to hold one or the other!

 Little girl who likes to climb...

 Blue eyed baby in the old choo choo train...

 Ellie got more and more enamored by her grandparents as time went on. I loved the sweet smiles she gave them!

 Mom had already bought some cute clothes for the girls AND gave me multiple trips to thrift stores while she babysat one or both. Such a blessing! I shop for 6 months of clothes in the span of these brief weeks...

 Mom also babysat so we could have a double date with my brother Elijah and sis-in-law Megan. Olive Garden is the best. :)

 Both girls also enjoyed the trampoline. I am reaping the benefits of having to help dig the hole and cart the dirt from it away in wheelbarrows... Of course my siblings did most of the work, since I was only 8 at the time. But I love that my children can play safely on it now too!

 Board games were also a must. Ryan worked hard during the day, working remotely for his company in China, to make this extra trip possible. But he took a break here and there during nap times, as playing games with my family is a must!

Wagon rides with two are just that much cuter :)

 The toy room off of the kitchen is the best place ever, with all the classic toys we played with as children. And Dassah enjoyed this time of giving toys to TWO babies!

 Matthew and Ellie are just about 5 weeks apart, and as cute as can be! Matthew is the surprise 7th child of old friends and mentors of mine, and we were blessed by their company on Friday night. They even brought Moe's takeout so we didn't have to prepare or do the dishes!

We also had a drop-by picnic party on Thursday evening with many great friends stopping by, mostly previous ballet students and theatre participants. With the group there, talking, laughing, and playing frisbee, it didn't feel like it had been years since I used to see them on a weekly basis... We had so much fun, we forgot to take pictures!

 Saturday morning brought a trip to the zoo! Feeding the parakeets was a highlight this time!

 My parents have a great membership that gets grandkids and a certain number of extra adults in with them. It's always a fun time together!

All of the green in Alabama never failed to cause me to give thanks... God has made such beauty!

 Feeding and brushing the goats was another of Hadassah's favorite things ever! She loves animals, this one...

 And even Ellie got in on the fun!

 It's fun having two girls to enjoy the playground now too!

 Even if Ellie isn't quite big enough to swing by herself yet ;)

 This monkey was the friendliest we've ever seen. He kept hanging down right in front of us - such fun to watch!

 The zoo is never complete without a ride on the choo choo train!

Saturday we had a reunion of "the foursome" complete with spouses! Elijah and I and close friend Miriam and her brother Joel used to play together all the time growing up, but it had been years since we'd all been together. In the meantime, we all married and some even have kids now. Pretty crazy how time changes things.

But it was pretty cool how everyone just clicked, even though most of the spouses had never met. We had a lot of fun resurrecting the old game favorites, Taboo and Dutch Blitz!

Sunday we made just an "us" afternoon, after church with family in the morning. Hadassah's attitude was suffering after all of the get togethers and so many people she didn't know (but who knew her!) and less time with just mommy and daddy than usual. So after naps, we took things slow, enjoying the trampoline and swings, then picking up Arby's (miss that in China!) and taking it to a park complete with big geese to feed and a splash pad!

When we got home to get ready for bed, Dassah was thrilled to find Uncle Elijah and Aunt Megan waiting. We had to let her stay up just a tad longer, since she just wanted to snuggle with them. When we finally got ready for bed, she kept asking to give them one more hug, or one more kiss... How can you resist that? She loves them so.

Then we spent the evening up late, hearing stories from my parents about their time in Africa. Lots of laughter and "wow!" and realizing our "trials" in China in this modern age are nothing compared to their time in Africa in the 1980s!

Then today, I had the pleasure of the company of these girls for the morning. Once they were my ballet students and the children I babysat. They grew to be friends, costume design helpers and seamstresses, choreographers and teachers, and ultimately the ones I passed classes and leadership off to. Now they're in college and graduating high school and all grown up from little girls who did four twirls on stage. But what a blessing to still have them in my life, and in the lives of my girls!

Then it was packing and relaxing with family and more games. The car is loaded, and we leave first thing in the morning!

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