Saturday, June 05, 2010

Summer in Central PA, Or, I Show Off My Lovely Family

I guess I don't need to tell you that it isn't technically summer yet, but this past week has all the hallmarks of summer:

1. three day weekend
2. out-of-state visitors
3. every fan in the house plugged in and running
4. in desperation--the airconditioner run for portions of the day (mostly while we had visitors)
5. happy, sweaty boys
6. bicycles
7. bathing suits
8. an ant invasion
9. birthday cakes

My other brother, Jake, and his lovely wife, Karen, and their adorable children, my niece and nephew. She is one this week. He is four next week.

Seriously, I'm related to that handsome guy and that angel baby.

This is Alex's lovely wife. She is exceptionally good a posing for photos because my brother takes a million photos everywhere he goes, so she thinks she's being silly in this picture, but I think it captures her innate humor and beauty:

In honor of Max's 14th birthday, Jake let Max take his scooter for a spin (he did not go on the street--stayed in the alley), and so nephew O and Ben and Milo needed to take O's battery car for a spin, too. Here is a picture he captured that makes me smile. That's Milo at the wheel. (If you haven't seen Max in a photo recently--yes, he's grown. I'm not sure. 5' 9"? 10"?)

This week I think I finally stopped gritting my teeth to get through all of each day. My reward was a heavenly visit from my baby brother and sister-in-law. They were only here two days, but we got long car rides on either side of those two days to talk. We all, including the kids, really enjoyed their gracious visit. It was a long way to come--they just got back to the states after 10.5 months traveling various exotic locations of the world--and we're so glad they took the time and spent the money (that they really didn't have) to do so.

We canned strawberries. Max and I picked 15 lbs of u-pick strawberries last Saturday and then we acquired another 7 or 8 lbs of berries. Jess and I canned one batch of mixed berries (black berries, strawberries, and raspberries) and this came out wonderfully. We then did a double batch of regular strawberry jam, finishing finally with a batch of splenda strawberry jam. I always think this will take only a few hours and it ends up taking all day.

Alex and the boys playing with swords made by Max. They entertained themselves while I made Jess stay in the hot kitchen with me.

Tuesday Max had to go to school (big kids can't miss school before the Algebra final is over) and Chris had to go to work (family providers can't take vacation days when the Japanese clients are in town), but Ben and Milo are days from the end of their school year so they played hookey. We walked around Penn State--there are more photos of this, but I don't think I have those. I picked up a book I'd requested at the library and then we went to the creamery for ice cream. Emily came with us and enjoyed the attention.

We ran home and made pizza because it was our turn to feed the Sister Missionaries and Chris had invited one of the Japanese gentleman to our home for dinner. It was a total team effort with Ben and Milo helping with toppings, Jess rolled out the dough and watched over Ben and Milo's efforts. I ran around and put things where the cooks could reach them. Alex shredded the mozzarella. Oh--before this, Alex and Jess led a big cleaning effort, and so the place looked great. My brother MOPPED MY KITCHEN FLOOR. Seriously, I almost cried.

But I didn't have time, so I ran out the door to go get the Sister Missionaries and arrived moments after the pizza was pulled out of the oven and Chris and the kids got the extra table set up.

We had a blast.

Then after dinner I ran the twins over to cub scouts, Max worked on his Duty to God requirements so he could be done before turning 14 . . .

and then it was Thursday and Alex and Jess were safely in Arizona, Max was 14 and it was time for more cake.

And then it was today, the kind of Saturday you think every Summer Saturday will be--beautiful, but not overly hot, a little rain early in the morning for the tomatoes--Ben and Milo had their first summer swim team practice--and that went great. Then we ran to Target for new flip flops. The twins showed me how negligent a mother I am by moving up two shoes sizes. Jeez. I got summer flip flops, too. Yay, me! Then it was home for a quick stop and off to the YMCA for swim lessons.

I've spent all afternoon working on a baby sweater that is turning out lovely and listening to my iPod.

My. heart. is. so. full.

I know not every week can be so wonderful, but a wonderful week like this every so often really goes far to strengthen your heart. Tomorrow is fast and testimony Sunday and I think I'll use the opportunity tonight, after I start my fast, to plan Monday's FHE lesson instead of waiting until 20 minutes before like I usually do :) Now that Max is 14, I'm thinking it could be fun to do a lesson on Patriarchal Blessings.

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