I just have to believe God got in on the surprise! Emerson decided we needed to have one of the elders from our new church over Thursday evening for supper so that we could ask some questions. Sooooo....Emerson didn't ask any questions when Jayme came to help me clean house!! And then the secretary from the middle school called begging Emerson to substitute on Friday, soooo....I was able to go buy all the groceries and stash them away before he got home.
I was beginning to think, however, that it was all going to fall to pieces when Emerson decided he was going to go finish mowing the lawn. I tried my best to talk him into taking a shower and finishing the mowing the next day, but NNNOOOOOO, he wanted to get it done!!!! I told him that Ladd and Donna would be here soon and it would be time to eat--he says, "I'll just WATCH for them"! SMACK! (That's me hitting the palm of my hand against my forehead!!) Shane and family (from Houston) were due to drive up anytime!! I called Donna and she and the boys dashed over. We decided to take the boys outside and *pretend* we were taking their pictures. I had made letter signs that spelled out *S*U*R*P*R*I*S*E*. Emerson saw us headed out in the front and drove the mower over to see what we were up to. So we held up the signs just as the Houstonites started up the drive way--honking all the way. Emerson just kept looking back and forth between us (with the signs) and this van driving up the driveway, honking. Back and Forth, back and Forth, until finally he could see the Texas tags. He THREW his arms UP in the air and SHOUTED, "OH, MY!!" The look on his face was WORTH every bit of the preparation it took!! He didn't have a clue!! Did I get a picture, you ask? Well......no he stopped the mower in a place where I could NOT get a clear picture of him! But it was still perfect!!!
E finally came in and took a shower!!!! Much talking and laughing began. We let all the grandkids head out to the pool. Much swimming and splashing. Also swinging on the swingset we got earlier this spring (we've gotten our money's worth). We fixed oven toasted sandwiches and salads. The kids quit swimming long enough to eat! Seven of the grandkids spent the night. Lots of little bodies all over the place!!!
Saturday morning I fixed mini chocolate chip muffins. We devoured 4 dozen of those and 2 GIANT cantalopes (we had eaten 2 giant ones the night before, too). Then we got ready for the photo shoot. I asked everyone to wear khaki pants (or shorts, skirts, etc.) and white shirts. We were really a sharp looking bunch!! The photograhper came and picked out the perfect spot to take the pictures. We started out by doing individual families first, because one family hadn't arrived until the last minute. So we did that while they were changing clothes. After all the individual family pictures we took the giant family portrait--all 19 of us. The photographer said she thinks they turned out really good. She complimented us on how well behaved everyone was and that we all were dressed alike. She said inevitalbly one person always wears something totally different!!! But I think my favorite picture might be the last one she took. We had E bring his tractor around to the picture spot and all the grandkids and E stood on and around the tractor. E always give the grandkids rides on the tractor, so it's a big deal. I can't wait to see the pictures!!!
After the photo shoot, the cooking frenzy began. Two of E's sons bought a WHOLE prime rib and cooked it on the grill. Then we had potato salad, baked beans, devilled eggs, brocolli and califlower salad, rolls, and more! Then the feeding frenzy! Much talking and laughing. Much gnashing of silverware!! (If you can do that with plastic silverware!) Then the cleaning frenzy. All the dishes and pots and pans. The kitchen was spotless. Then it was time to make the ice cream. I'd already made 2 kinds of cake. I made 2 kinds of ice cream. While I was doing that the grandkids were swimming and splashing and playing and laughing. More company came. E's b-i-l and s-i-l and his Aunt and her kids. Much talking and laughing! The grandkids talked uncle Ladd into getting out the go-cart. All of the grandkids (and quite a few of the adults) took turns riding it. Much more laughing and squealing!
Then we had cake and ice cream. And gave E his birthday presents. He had figured out that I was making him a scrapbook, but was totally blown away by the 100+ pages and the content. In fact, it wouldn't all fit in one--I had to put it in two!! He looked at them and then everyone else looked at them. Much laughing, giggling and teasing!! More swimming and splashing and swinging and running around and chasing and....whew! Finally, most everyone left or went to bed. E took time to really look at the scrapbooks, and I could tell that he was really pleased. Finally all of us went to bed. Much snoring!!
Sadly, Jayme and Neal and family, had to go back home since he is the preacher-man. But the rest of us all went to church together this morning at our new church. Fifteen of us took up nearly 2 whole rows! It was really good to get to sit together as a family and worship the Lord and feel good about it!!
After church, we went to Johnny Carrinos and ate lunch. Much talking and laughing! The Garden City bunch parted company with us at this point. The rest of us came home. We took the five grandkids (ranging in age from 10 to 4) that were still here fishing. And boy were the fish hungry. All of the kids caught fish--and some had never ever fished before. Much laughing, squealing, and flailing about of fish, hooks and children!!
Then came the kite flying. It's a giant yellow and pink plane kite that I won several years ago in a school raffle. I had given it to one of the grandsons, but had never seen it fly. They brought it out today, and there was enough wind to fly it!! It was really neat. It's about 5 feet long and has a long curly, spinning tail. Then more swimming, splashing, laughing, swinging, running about, chasing, giggling and squealing!
Hunger once again drove the grandkids inside and so there was munching of many delicious leftovers. Much laughing talking, squaring of accounts (how much do I owe you for this, etc.)--I think the same $50 got passed around several times!!
And finally goodbyes. Jayme and Neal were already gone. As were the Garden City bunch. The Houstonites loaded up their van after the snacking frenzy and made their exit (amongst much hugging and kissing and laughing and giggling). Ladd and Donna stayed until about 9:15. Some of us worked on a jigsaw puzzle, some watched tv, some snoozed. And then finally all was quiet. But even though it is very quiet, this is a very content house. Full of the echoes and love and laughter and sharing and family.
ReJoyce in the Lord always, and again I will say, ReJoyce! God is good!