Monday, June 30, 2014

My Maryland Home Away from Home (Road Trip 2014)

Road Trip 2014
Day 4

We arrived at my dad's house in Maryland on Sunday evening, much later than we had planned due to horrible traffic between Richmond, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

I love talking to my dad about history. 
His knowledge about American military history and the migrations of ethnic groups from one country to another is absolutely astounding!  I'm glad he's going down to D.C. tomorrow with us to visit the Smithsonian American History museum.

My sister Barb arranged for me to join her at a counseling appointment on Monday since both of us are still grieving the death of our mother last summer, and we know that going to her family's reunion will bring up all sorts of memories.

Before the appointment, we stopped at the French Twist Cafe for Canadienne crepes (made fresh with eggs, bacon, and cheese while we watched!), a latte for her, and hot chocolate for me. Everything is so quaint in historic Sykesville, Maryland!


Sister time!

We had originally planned to do lunch at Sweet Simplici-Tea, but like most shops in this vintage town, it is closed on Mondays.  Instead, we peered through the window.

Barb also arranged for me to have a massage when she had hers. What a treat after a three day van drive!  

When we got home, I looked for the kids in the backyard, but they had walked over to a park with their cousins. The yard and garden are a bit overgrown since Mom isn't there to tend them.  Just another reminder of our loss...  
The garden gate

Former flower patches

Still blooming!

Aunt Fay and I
at 2012 Reunion
I'm not the only one who is experiencing loss. I just found out this evening that a much loved aunt who has Alzheimer's has been admitted to a nursing home since my uncle can no longer care for her at home.  I will miss seeing her.  She and my cousin shared Jesus with me at the Hess reunion in 1976, and she's always been close to my heart. My uncle loves her so much, and I respect him for all he has done for her.  We have quite a family, full of love, and I'm grateful for all of them.

Virginia Knowles

P.S. This is the third post in my Road Trip 2014 series.  The other two so far are: 

Other related posts (including two of my mom's garden from last year)

A Raleigh Good Time (Road Trip 2014)

Road Trip 2014
Day 2 & 3
Raleigh, North Carolina

We arrived in Raleigh on Saturday afternoon. My second cousin Jean welcomed us to her beautiful apartment and suggested that we walk over to Lake Johnson (shouting distance away) and rent some pedal boats. Her daughter came over with her roommate, so they joined us for part of the time out on the lake.


We picked up pizzas for dinner, and then Jean and Melody baked up some ready made cookie dough.  

In the morning, we took a long walk at the lake, first on the paved trail, and then down through the woods. It's rather strenuous, but well worth it.


Look inside the web!
(Photo by Micah Knowles)

Before we left on Sunday afternoon, Jean showed me some vintage recipes from her grandmother, Amelia Davis, who was my great aunt. The oldest of the seven children of my great grandparents, Charles and Mary Hess, Amelia was the beloved matriarch of the family for decades. I think baking some of her cookies for this weekend's Hess reunion will bring back delicious memories for many of the older relatives. I copied the recipes for soft molasses cookies, crunchy jumble cookies, and blueberry pudding into my notebook. (I'll share them in another post later on.)

Jean and I have both gone through a lot of challenging life transitions in the eight years since we reconnected at a previous Hess reunion. We talk often on the phone, and I always appreciate her love, encouragement, and prayers. I thank God for her.

Virginia and Jean
You can find other posts with Jean in them here:

Friday, June 27, 2014

Santee State Park (Road Trip 2014)

Road Trip 2014 has begun!   We're on our way to see my second cousin in North Carolina, my dad and my sister's family in Maryland, and then on to a family reunion in Pennsylvania.

My four youngest kids and I hit the road this morning with in our bright red mini-van. After a very pleasant several hour drive (with a little help from electronics, reward quarters, and a full snack bag), we arrived in Santee, South Carolina a little after 5 PM.  After checking into our hotel, we headed over to Santee State Park on Lake Marion.  I love that little Bait & Tackle shop. There's a lovely indoor dining area in the back that's right over the water.  That's where we enjoyed our picnic dinner before our hike.

It's late tonight, so I'll keep this post short.  Stay tuned for more of Road Trip 2014!

Virginia Knowles

Monday, June 23, 2014

Weekend Gratitude: Family, Friends, and Community

Hello friends!

What a busy weekend we had! I can’t even remember everything we did around the house and running errands. However, I did capture three events with my iPod camera.

On Saturday, my cousin-in-law Debbie and her husband Michael invited us for a party at their new house. 

I love, love, love Debbie's home.  She is so artistic, and I love to get decorating and design ideas from her.  

I brought a layered bean dip (quickly devoured), and a cake slathered with vanilla yogurt and sliced strawberries. 

Debbie found the idea for a backyard water “blob” on Pinterest.  She duck taped two sturdy tarps togther and filled them with water. The kids had a blast. That’s my youngest daughter, and my oldest grandson, who turned four that day.  

On Sunday after church, I dropped my youngest son off at a birthday party, and then joined some of my other family members at Bart and Judy’s house for a picnic with a bunch of people from church. I always enjoy chatting with friends old and new. As is my custom, I took several minutes to shoot photos in their backyard. You can see some of my other pictures from previous visits here and here.


I took a much needed snooze for an hour in the afternoon, and then it was off to the monthly dinner outreach at a local motel which also functions as a transitional home to a lot of people who don't have any other place to live. There are also some totally homeless folks (who live in the adjacent woods) who join us each month. We serve a full meal to several dozen people, and provide bags of toiletries, laundry detergent, and sometimes clothing. Folks enjoy the live music and short inspirational messages, and there’s always a place for the kids to enjoy crafts and stories. My jobs are distributing name tags to our volunteers, bringing a few table decorations, passing out wet wipes so our guests can wash their hands, and greeting people. Simple stuff, and that's just fine with me. One of my adult daughters launched this monthly outreach last year, and I’m so glad that some of my younger kids join us to serve each month too. (See here for all of my posts on homeless ministry.)  Side note: a lot of our homeless friends are missing teeth.  I was talking to my dentist about this the other day as she was cementing a crown back onto my tooth. (I lost a battle with sticky Mike & Ike candies.) I don't have dental insurance myself, but I'm thankful that my dentist charges me only half price. I'm wondering how we can make health & dental care more accessible to our friends. Maybe at one of our dinners we could offer a health screening clinic with referrals, as well as assistance applying for government and non-profit resources? I need to research this a little more. Any ideas, folks?  Always plotting...

Setting up ahead of time
(I'm in the purple shirt, upper right)
~~ photo credit, Amber Carroll ~~

Thank you, Publix, for all of the desserts

Naomi & Micah (my kids)
Steph & Andrew


Julianna and friends

After the outreach, four of my kids had youth group in Baldwin Park. I dropped them off, then headed over to see my son-in-law so he could check out the belts on my van before our big two week 2,500 mile road trip that starts Friday. I’m taking the four youngest kids to Maryland (to see my dad and my sister Barb’s family) and Pennsylvania (for a family reunion with my aunts, uncles, and cousins on my mom’s side). On the one hand, I am delighted to be traveling again with my kids and seeing as much family and interesting places as possible. We loved our three week jaunt last year.  (You can find my photo journal of our trips here: Traveling North). However, I am feeling bittersweet since my sweet mom won’t be there to enjoy it with us since she passed away last summer after we got home. Amid the emotional jumble, I’m going to have a hyper busy week. I have to register one son for public high school for the first time (transferring from the private school where I taught last year). We’re throwing a a triple birthday party tomorrow for my oldest daughter (27!), my oldest grandson (4!), and my second son who will turn 15 while we’re on our trip. We’ve got a whole lot of laundry, house cleaning, shopping, and packing to do in the next few days! Say a prayer for us, will you? Traveling mercies and all?

2013 road trip with six kids -
here at Luray Caverns in Virginia

I'm grateful for this weekend: for family, friends, good food, a home, and a chance to give back to the community.

How about you?

Virginia Knowles

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