Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Fleeting Days of Summer

This summer is just flying by!

It's much better than last summer, in that all of our busy-ness is fun - meaning, not moving from Minnesota to Pennsylvania- but, still, it's busy, and busy days go fast!

Right after school was out, the three oldest kids went to Beaver Falls to participate in a musical theater camp at Geneva for two weeks.  They had a blast!

Will and Micah also participated in sports camps at the same time, so that kept them out of trouble.  Mostly.

John, Johanna, Sam, Evie, and I went to the final performance and the next day we all went on westward, first to Columbus, OH, then to Green Bay, WI, via Vandalia, OH.  

While we were visiting brother Jeff and his family in Green Bay, we visited Great-Grandma L.  She is 97 now, and sharp as a tac.

Evie and Grandma charmed each other.

Then, on to St. Paul, MN, aka "home."

We packed four days with as much friend time as we could manage!  Not a moment was wasted!  The kids all had sleep overs, nearly every night; we had a church picnic one evening; dinners, lunches, breakfasts, and brunches at every turn; even a fellowship lunch at church on Sunday.  We stayed with Pat and Katie, so whatever time we had at "home" we were catching up and enjoying time with them. 

We came home worn out (add 23 hours of driving to all that talking, and that's what happens), but refreshed by the kind of sweet fellowship which only comes from hanging out with close friends. 

So thankful for friends and family across the country, and time to spend with them, even if only for short amounts of time.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

One Year

One year ago today we were arriving at our new house, heart-sick, road-weary, and miserable.  The heat, humidity and almost-constant rain; broken a/c; boxes everywhere; grit and grime of the former owners' 25 year residence; unfamiliar smells and sights; and complete lack of knowledge of the area only contributed to the misery.  

We were strangers in a strange land.  

We spent the first night all camped out in the family room because it has a small wall unit a/c.  

Not as much fun as it sounds.  

Bodies were lined up side-by-side on the floor or draped over couches left by the previous owners, heads propped up with favorite pillows, a desperate attempt at familiarity and comfort.  

Despite the small comfort of being all together, no one slept well.

Over the next days, we got the a/c fixed and started to sort out boxes.

Sorting out this new life was harder.  Where do we go for groceries?  Why do none of these streets go in a straight line?  Where should we go to church?  When will we be comfortable here?  Will we ever be comfortable here?  Will it ever feel like home?

Home for us was 20 hours and a million miles away.

And yet, the Lord knew.

Even as we planned our move in the months before, I had told the kids and tried to convince myself that God was already there, in Philadelphia, and He knew.  He knew all about our church, our school, our friends, our grocery stores, our neighborhood.  He knew how we would struggle and how many tears we would cry, where we would fit, who would help us and who would befriend us. 

He knew that a year later it would feel more like home, even if we still long sometimes for our friends and church family in Minnesota and miss the Midwestern pace of life.

He knew.

I am so thankful for our new church, our school, our neighborhood.

(Edited to add that John's work community has been very welcoming to us as well, and that has been so helpful.)

I still haven't found a favorite grocery store within easy driving distance,but I must be content with church, school, and neighborhood, I suppose. 

Thank you, Lord, for your provision, your promises, and your peace.  You led us out from a green pasture, through a deep and treacherous valley, and into another wide and pleasant place, never leaving or forsaking us.

Sunday, June 22, 2014


John's job requires a lot of travel, and usually he gallivants around the country while I stay home and keep the home fires burning.  And that's okay.  We knew that's what the job would require.

A few weeks ago, though, I had the opportunity to travel with John for a week to Alberta, Canada.

We flew into Edmonton and, just to get the kinks out, walked around the city a little bit.  More than we intended to, actually, since construction and bridges got in our way, but it turned out okay as we got this view of the city at the end of our walk.

And as you can see we had gorgeous weather to be walking.

The next day, we headed for the mountains.

I have long wanted to see the Canadian Rockies and they did not disappoint.  

I'm not going to make a comparison between the American and Canadian Rockies because it's pointless.  They are both absolutely stunning and I could spend endless amounts of time in either.  

This is Castle Mountain.  

I think the name comes from the fact that it looks a little bit like a castle, but I'm just guessing here.

And then...Lake Louise!

(I was here 42 years ago, but being in utero my view was limited.)

I was disappointed that there was still so much ice on the lake and we couldn't see the famous blue-green color of midsummer, but it was still gorgeous.

We walked the path around the lake until snow blocked our way.  

(We couldn't go up the the Lake Agnes Tea Room because of snow.)

This might give you some sense of scale.

It really wasn't as cold as it looks.  With the sun shining, we were plenty warm with a single, long-sleeved layer.  Another hiker did the walk in shorts and flip-flops!

We took a different route back toward Banff and stopped for many a scenic overlook.  I never get tired of looking at the mountains.

Pictures are wonderful, but they cannot capture the pure mountain air or the rich pine smell which are just as much a part of the experience as the visual.

That night we stayed in Banff and ate on the rooftop patio of The Rose and Crown, surrounded by mountain views on all sides.  In the square below, a bagpiper played all the greatest hits for bagpipe.  I can't even remember what I had to eat, but that meal was a little bit of heaven for me.

From Banff we went on to Airdrie and back to "work" for John, but that was our mini-vacation in the Canadian Rockies.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Of Birthdays and Baptisms

The last two weeks have been filled with amazing, memory-making moments spent with some of the best-loved people in our lives.

It's all wonderful, but, I will confess, a little tiring! 

So, yesterday, after I got the kids off to school, Evie and I spent the day being slugs.  The only things I accomplished, other than surviving, were a walk and a shower.

But it is so sweet to rest when you've gotten tired out having as much fun as we've had!

Last Saturday, we had a birthday party for my mom's 70th birthday.  

She knew there was a party, but didn't know any details about it.  This drove her *crazy!*  

I'm still deciding whether or not to confess that my sister and I took an unholy delight in this.  Heehee!

We surprised her with a room full of her friends, an ice cream sundae bar, and a new computer.  

(Since she is retiring, she has to leave her college-owned desktop behind, so we fixed her up with a new Dell.  For one brief moment, she is the most technologically advanced member of our family!)

The kids and grandkids did a little walk through time which featured world events from every decade of her life (1944, 1954, 1964, etc.), including a reading from our Lord of the Rings (1954) fanatic, Maggie; a song from Camelot by Will; a song on the piano by Johanna; and "Stars" from Les Miserables by Sean; all accompanied by John.

Hardly as polished as one of Mom's Broadway Revue shows, but charming in its own way and offered with much love.

The next day, June 1, we celebrated the baptism of my new niece, Leyna.

This is the combined Copeland/Donaldson gang who gathered that day.

Leyna wore the dress Johanna and Evie wore for their baptisms.  Can we call it a family tradition yet?

John had the privilege of baptizing her.

Thank goodness, he got her name right!

Here's my beautiful sister with lovely Leyna. 

We had lunch in Sean and Katie's backyard and had a gorgeous day for being outside and enjoying good food and good fellowship.

So, this was our whirlwind weekend back in The Falls.  Tiring, but oh, so sweet.

Monday, May 12, 2014

What a Weekend!

Last weekend was packed with excitement.

John couldn't come with us, but the kids and I drove to Beaver Falls to meet our new niece/cousin, to celebrate my birthday, to attend a New Song concert, and to celebrate Mom on her retirement.

Johanna has been so very excited to meet Aunt Katie's baby so she was one happy girl.  Unfortunately, the weekend was such a whirl that neither Johanna nor I got nearly enough baby time!  We'll just have to go back.

Sam was very sweet with little Leyna.  I love how all my kids love babies.  

Evie wasn't too sure about sharing the spotlight, but even when I was holding the baby, she was okay.  At one point, Evie climbed up beside me and put her head gently on the baby's head.  My heart melted.  Again.

Sunday was my birthday so we had a yummy ice cream cake for dinner and I got to open a few presents.  Best of all, I got to be with my extended family for the day.  

(The only damper was that John was missing from the fun.)

In the afternoon, Mom's "baby" - New Song - had a concert in which last year's group handed off to this year's group.  A number of New Song alumni had also made a special effort to be there in Mom's honor.  The above picture is of old and older New Songers singing "Freedom," a New Song tradition. 

After the new group sang a piece together, the concert was over, but not before Olivia presented Mom with a book of rememberances from former New Songers, and thanked her for her many years of love and hard work.  This is Mom's 24th year as director.

Following the concert, we held a reception in Mom's honor.  Above, Mom poses with Lindsay Shaffer, the new director, and Vicki Smith, former assistant director.  Both Lindsay and Vicki are former students of Mom's and former New Song members.

And, finally, before we all went our seperate ways that evening, we got a picture of all of the grandkids together: Tom's, Anne's, and Katie's.  This is maybe the best picture we've ever gotten of these kids all together.  Well, of course, it's the best (and only) group picture of Leyna, but of all the others, too!

A lovely weekend with family, celebrating one of the most wonderful women I know: Mrs. C./ my mom.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Break-Away

Since Will had the special treat of going to Minnesota over Easter break, we thought the rest of us should have a special treat as well.  So, John, the four remaining kids, and I drove down to D.C. for a couple of days. 

We went on Friday, got to our hotel in Alexandria, then drove around a little bit to see the sights in D.C..  A couple of us didn't have warm enough clothes for after-dark, so we didn't get out and walk, just watched from the warmth of the van.

On Saturday, we took the Metro downtown.

We had a gorgeous day to be on the Mall.

(Sam was a little confused by a mall with no stores.)

First we went to the National Gallery.  I could have spent the whole day in there, but the kids were somewhat less keen, although they were pretty well engaged for a while.  

Johanna recently read the book Chasing Vermeer so we made a special point of seeing the Vermeer exhibit.

And when Micah made the outrageous claim that the art was boring I had the chance to inform him otherwise and explain how cool art is, providing, as it does, a window into history, insight into the human condition, beauty to rest the soul.  

I dare say he was inspired with a new love of art, but was too awe-stricken at the moment to say so.

We took a few moments to rest on the mall, along with about 483 million other tourists, then went on across the way to the Air and Space Museum. 

Here, they were designing their own jets.

We spent the most time in the section dedicated to Wilbur and Orville Wright and their flying machine.

Any guesses as to what held John there? 

Of course, we had to remind the kids that North Carolina may have provided the wind for the first flight, but Ohio provided the brains.

When we were tuckered out, we headed back to the Metro for the trip back to the hotel.

We were all tired.

We went back to the hotel to nap or read or whatever, then went for supper (John and I got food from this great little Mediterranean bakery/cafe), then drove back into D.C. to see the Lincoln, Korean, and WWII Memorials by moonlight.

John and I had never been to the beautiful WWII Memorial so that was something new for us.  We went around and posed for pictures in front of different state pillars: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Minnesota, and then Evie and me in front of Kansas.

Sunday morning we visited the OPC in Vienna, VA, then were invited to lunch at the Van Dixhoorns' lovely home.  

Before heading north again, we made one more stop.  This time at Roosevelt Island.

That's Sam marching straight up to Teddy.  I think Teddy would approve.

Teddy waved goodbye to us as we left D.C. and headed home amid a huge crowd of other folks going home after a long Easter weekend.

We missed having Will along, but enjoyed our time away very much.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sam's Birthday

Now that the sun has returned (mostly), the days are slipping by at an alarming rate, and here it is already a couple of weeks since my last post!  

There's not much of excitement to report - lots of busy-ness, but not excitement - except for Sam's birthday.  
Sam turned eight on Monday.  Eight!

I always think of eight as a real turning point.  During this year, kids seem to grow up even faster than they have in previous years.  They really establish their own personality, more and more independently from mom and dad.

All this is right and good, of course.  But also a little sad for the mom who is watching her beloved baby take a giant leap toward manhood.

Well, maybe not such a giant leap.

Saturday, Sam got to celebrate his birthday with some friends at Chuck E. Cheese's.  We don't usually do parties like that (because I'm lazy) but Sam's friend has a birthday the day before Sam's, so his mom invited me to do a joint party.  Half the work and twice the fun...okay!

Monday, we just partied at home.

This tee shirt from my parents was one of Sam's favorite gifts.  It is a "doctor's note" which prescribes eating pizza, eating bacon, and playing video games every day: pretty much Sam's perfect day.

He even liked the new jeans.  Look at that smile.  

The "winning" present this year was this Lego set from us.  At least he's not yet too grown up to get excited about Legos!

You like the candle in the middle?  I discovered that I only had seven birthday candles and that would never do, so I improvised.

This was eight years ago.  *sniff*

Happy birthday, Sam!  You are loved more than you'll ever know!