Cousin James showing the kids pictures of their home in the Middle East
We're back!! And I know you really missed us! =) We had a wonderful time hanging out with the big, extended family. And I do mean the big, extended family. We had approximately 25 people come from all parts of the earth to celebrate Grandpa's life, from the Middle East, Michigan, North Carolina, Alabama, Florida, and beyond.
The funeral itself was a celebration of a life truly well lived. I learned a few additional things about Grandpa that I hadn't known before. For instance, I didn't know that he got his college degree from Baylor after he was married and had children, going to school at nights and working days. It was a dream of his that all his girls would get college degrees, and they did. All of their children also got college degrees or are currently enrolled in college. Higher education is important in this family.
Biblical knowledge is also very important to the family, and we have quite a few ministers and others who've had some seminary training. The funeral was officiated by Uncles Bob and Chuck, and my father-in-law, Bill, all ordained ministers. It was fun to watch all of them sitting up there. Each of them has his own style, and it was amusing to see how different they all are. Bill usually sings with great gusto, Bob is more reserved, and Uncle Chuck has a pleasant, calm smile on his face.
Cousin James spoke as well, and he emphasized one of Grandpa's favorite phrases: "Let's keep this thing moving in the same direction." Now, Grandpa was referring to food at the table as it was being passed. He wanted to make sure there wasn't a food traffic jam. But James made the point that Grandpa and Grandma had left this family a legacy of faith and trust in Him. We should keep it moving in the same direction. Good words; good thoughts.
Diana and Bill, my in-laws, decided to rent a 4 bedroom house near town for the weekend. That way, Danny and Kelli and the four kids and us and James and Shelly and their two girls could all stay together and have an easy place for early bedtimes and naps and such. It also provided a place for the entire extended family to come and hang out, eat large quantities of Texas bbq, and play games. Of course, we only played games in honor of Grandpa, since he loved to play dominos and bridge and such. We certainly didn't play them because we enjoy it. We had sour expressions on our faces the whole time, yes, indeedy.
I shall give you a snapshot of the pleasant chaos that having a large, loving family all hanging together can bring. Shelly, Kelli, and I stayed home with the kids the night before the funeral, missing out on the visitation portion of the evening. We heated up some homemade soup; it was a low key meal. We didn't know what the plans were for later, and we really weren't thinking much about it. So we got the kids ready for bed, lounged around on the couch, and waited for the husbands to come back. Well, they did, just in time to tell us that a hoarde of relatives were planning to descend on us in about 5 minutes. We started moving tables and chairs around, washed all the cups and goblets we could find, and got a buffet set up in the extra living room. It was an instant party, complete with the aforementioned Texas bbq brought by Aunt Patty and Uncle Max. I think Diana thought we were great for springing into action at the first mention of the unexpected. We just thought it was good, wacky, family fun! =)
Ahh, here we have the Sandum brothers, Steve, Keith, and Tom. I affectionately call this photo "Three Men and A Baby." The baby is Judson and doesn't belong to any of them, but he was willing to pose for me. Between the three of them, they actually have 9 children. None of those children came along for the funeral. I imagine that the brothers enjoyed pillow fights and breaking lighting fixtures with their tall heads on this long, men only weekend. The plus for those of us with kids on this trip was that they're all terrific dads, and they didn't know what to do with themselves without children around to mind. So they helped us with ours! =) I know Keith and Steve did more than their fair share of cranky Seth walking.
And this is what David spent a good part of his free time doing. These girls all love to be read to, especially Elise. They were insatiable. You can't see it in the picture, but they had a whip and a baseball bat hidden behind the sofa, and they would flog David if he didn't read long enough. Ok, I'm just kidding. I know they look all sweet and innocent, but they're serious about their stories.
Here's just some of the crew at one of the two dining room tables. Diana is sitting on this rickety bathroom stool 'cause we ran out of chairs. Right before I took the picture, she turned and nearly fell off the thing. And I missed getting it on film. Drat. That would've been a great one for the family album! =)
James and Shelly live in the Middle East, and Middle Easterners just don't do yard sales like Texans do. I guess if you were in the market for a used camel saddle or some fresh dates, they might be just the ticket, but James and Shelly are really in the market for children's books in English, so they did some yard saling on Saturday morning. Guess what they found? Yes, that's right, an unused pinata. They filled it with candy, and Cousin Keith rigged it to a swing set with a camera strap, and we were in business.
All the kids got a crack at it, even Seth. Can you tell he has found his inner boy? He already loves to pretend to kick and hit things.
Ok, this picture is out of order. These are the spoils after the pinata broke. Notice that David got in on the action, though I'm pretty sure that Seth didn't actually have any chocolate.
As the oldest and biggest kid, it was Rachel Beth's job to do her best to break the pinata for the other kids. She did her best, and she did manage to knock some candy out of the top. However, Mr. Pinata had to have surgery with Danny's pocket knife before he would spill his innards. FaithLyn dealt the fatal blow.
So that was Texas! It was great, but man, I'm glad to be back home to peace and quiet and regular baby napping. It took 6 1/2 hours to travel home yesterday, including a stop in Tampa of all places, since Tampa is so on the way to N.C. But Seth got to sleep in his car seat for a lot of it, praise the Lord, and we survived the shaky, wind gusted landing in NC, so we're all good. Now off to do all the things that didn't get done while we were gone! See ya!