With a family reunion scheduled last weekend, we took a quick weekend trip down to Salem, West Virginia to join in the fun! My Grandma flew in from Alberta, Canada just in time to join us, too! I didn’t know many people, but I did meet some new faces and friends. Ernestine turned 90-years-old and was a delight to meet!
Robert, Sauntina and I had the opportunity of going to the Northwoods Conference center, located just 2 miles from Watersmeet in the upper peninsula of Michigan last week with the ladies Journey to the Heart group. Both Robert and I have spent quite a bit of time up here for different events and staffing so it was almost like coming back to a well-known home. Northwoods has always been a place of rest and peace for me, enjoying the outdoors, and finding some extra time to spend with the Lord. This week was so exception!
Robert and I walked around part of the lake on our anniversary, Sauntina and I took a walk down the mile-long runway, and we enjoyed a lovely afternoon kayaking on lake. We were also able to meet and fellowship with the Toll family who run the Northwoods and keep everyone fed well and things maintained. What a blessing to meet them and spend the week laughing, telling stories and sharing meals!
We were also able to visit Rantamaki family and the Hackers! Yay!
Another unexpected blessing was getting to meet Roy Daniels, Keith Daniels’ son! Roy and his wife and son were up taking a much needed break and getting some R&R’s. We ran into Roy and Glenn during a couple meals and Robert and Roy hit it off well! Sauntina loved having yet another little person her age to play with! Ah, what shall we do at home when it’s only mommy to play with???
Sauntina traveled so well on the 9 hour drive both up and back and Abby did a marvelous job keeping her occupied while I drove. A few naps along the way helped to pass the time and keep her the happy, little girl she is!
Before we left for the Northwoods, we enjoyed the company of overnight guests and friends!
Chad & Alyssa Christiansen brought their lovely family in their motorhome to join us for a fun weekend! We visited the Museum of Science and Industry where I enjoyed seeing a display about baby development and found the one who was 23 weeks! This was the size of my baby at the time! (Once again, Robert spent most of his time at the U-505 submarine exhibit <g>.) We also saw Andrew & Heather, visited the Brookfield Zoo, and had a second 1st birthday party for Sauntina since Katherine Behrens brought some gifts for her! Sauntina loved the big dog Katherine brought her!
We also enjoyed having Ben Gribaudo and Clayton Reedstrom visit for an evening, Loriann & Joel stop by from Ukraine, and dinner with the Boyes family!
Sauntina loves company and was our little, bright cherry in the midst of our friends. She has such a contagious laugh and brought so much joy to our home and hospitality! Plus, she loves eating cherries.
It’s hard to believe that two years have gone by…two years since that wonderful day of hurried last-minute preparations, the excitement of the unknown, anticipation of a new life ahead, emotions of moving away from the home I’ve known for so long, and awe at the man the Lord gave me.
Last year, we had a precious one-month old to enjoy for our one year anniversary…
This year, we celebrated #2 in the beautiful setting of Northwoods, MI, where we’ve spent the last week relaxing, Robert has been running network wires, taking walks, praying for the girls on the Journey up here, spending time together, and enjoying a slower-paced week for a change. Robert, Sauntina and I took a walk around part of the lake and explored some buildings on our anniversary, drinking in the sunlight and doing our best to avoid the mosquitoes! I am so blessed to have a faithful, constant companion who walks so close to the Lord that others sense it from his daily life and is blessed by simply being around him. Thank you, Lord, for a man who fears you, whom I can follow next to his side in this race in life and encourage each one of our children to imitate his example! I love you, Robert!
Dad, Mom, Robert, Sauntina and I entered Grandfather Mountain mid-morning during our vacation a couple weeks ago, and began our 3 mile climb with a warm sun, cool breeze and wildlife coaxing us along. Everyone else had entered Grandfather Mountain State Park to do a 7 mile hike! Yeah to their adventurous spirit! It was quite the climb for us with cables to grasp, ladders to scale, sure footing to find, the blue diamond or paint swash to follow, rocks to climb, and cliff edges to avoid. Robert not only carried Sauntina in a front pack, but also carried a heavy backpack (due to water bottles) the entire way up and back! Sauntina did marvelous being jostled around and eventually fell asleep to the sway of mountain climbing. I’m sure we had the record for the oldest (Dad & Mom both in their 60’s) and the youngest (Sauntina at one-year-old….plus little “Tweeter” five months along) at the Macrae Peak that day! We made it!
At the conclusion of our strenuous hike, we walked over the mile high swinging bridge…more accurately called the “singing” bridge due to the high speed winds that cause the metal bridge to “sing!” Sauntina was quite happy to be toddling around again and stretch her little legs. We waited and rested at the van until the other hikers arrived, then enjoyed a leisurely evening back at Uncle Tim’s cabin over a tasty supper Mom and Esther had thoughtfully prepared in advance and tales of the days adventures. What a day!
Our little bundle of joy has turned a year old! Where has the time gone? We celebrated her birthday in several stages…the first being with Josh & Ale Guido and Mr. Fagala when they came to visit!
Then on her actual birthday, we Skyped with Nana & Dido Kowalchuk and Aunty Aleita. We miss them so much!
Sauntina’s big party was held down in West Virginia a few days later with the Staddon family and relatives who gathered to celebrate this little blessing. Aunt Esther and the uncles made decorative animal cupcakes for the jungle themed party, and Sauntina enjoyed eating her very first cupcake and sorbet!
Sauntina decided to push off from Daddy and stand by herself like a big girl!
Happy Birthday, Sauntina LaVerle! We love you!
Where has the year gone? It seems like you’ve been with us forever, Sauntina, and yet the newness of having you has never worn off. I see you every morning and watch you change from my first baby girl to an adorable, fun-loving little tyke who loves to make your daddy laugh, loves the outdoors, squints your eyes in joyful smile when I come get you from your nap, and blesses everyone who has met you both here, visits to Daddy’s work, and in stores. May your sweetness ever be an example of the love of Jesus and may He continually bless your growth as you learn more about our precious Savior. Your Daddy and I love you so much, sweet baby daughter!
A glimpse of the past year:
The first day you arrived in this world and Daddy learned how to put on a diaper!
We were even able to have BOTH sets of grandparents here during your first month! I was able to celebrate my first Mother’s Day with both my mother and my mother-in-law!
You grew in so many ways this year and we have enjoyed each day the Lord has given you to us so far. You are a treasure beyond words, Sauntina LaVerle!
Happy 1st Birthday!
David, Priscilla, their little man, Paul, and the three of us left early Sunday morning and did the entire 15 hour trip in one day! It was a long day, but oh! How nice to be done all the traveling and on to visiting! We had snow in Chicago on Friday but there wasn’t a spec of snow at all in the south ~ and I was a typical Northern and burned myself the first day in the sun!
Jonathan was part of the Alert group opening the first conference evening. Connor & Clayton, and their friend David proudly saluted during the national anthem, following all the Alert guys (and their daddy’s) example. Robert played a beautiful piano solo Thursday evening, sang in a quartet, and Keon sang in the Alert quartet a couple times. I love these regional conferences for all the inspiring music and fantastic messages!
Katy was Sauntina’s “big sister” for the week and helped me push the stroller, hold her, and play with her. Sauntina loved having so many other children around!
When I used to work at Alert in 2010, I used to take the kids out to a Christian bookstore to look around, then enjoy a treat at the nearby frozen yogurt place before heading back home…and this trip was so exception. They’ve expanded a little from their tastes since I last saw them! Instead of gummy bears, they chose sour gummy worms!
It was so wonderful to see those special friends who used to help me in the kitchen. I miss working there and seeing the girls often, and oh what a treat to catch up a little!
…And it was a success! Sauntina loved the strawberry/banana/yogurt smoothie and proudly sported her smoothie mustache! Ah, how I love this little girl. <heart>