The biggest highlight during our time at home was seeing our family!My Mom and Dad were in town for the first two weeks of our time home. It was very special to be able to catch up with them face to face! The kids went on MacDonald's dates with Papa and were tutored in the art of wiffle ball. Grammy did some serious sewing to meet the demands of all the doll outfits required. They joined us for ball games and time in New Hampshire. Our kids love to spend time with Grammy and Papa, and being with your Mommy and Daddy never gets old no matter how old you are! I am so thankful for parents that aren't perfect and are willing to let me see the growth, changes, and challenges in their lives. You spur me on to the same in my own life by being real. We love you Mom and Dad! (And may I add... I am so thankful for parents that like to laugh!)Our one disappointment this summer was being unable to connect with my sister and her family. So close and yet, so far. :( Next time we will save our pennies for plane tickets.
All the Stateside Rideouts were able to gather in New Hampshire for a week. Can you say COUSINS??? (Keep in mind that the four cousins we left in West Africa were missing from this picture!) The houses were full of them! We had a week full of fun together with bike rides, hikes, swimming, games, soccer, bad-mitten, hours of outdoor play, much World Cup action, lots of laughing, and our traditional Mt Washington and Clarks' Trading Post visits. Just take a look at these big grins! :) Again, there is nothing like catching up face to face! We left New Hampshire feeling like we had heard the news and made some special memories (not to mention taken pictures!).
Ian's Aunt Wendy also made the long trip to come to visit us while we were back. We were so glad she was able to join us for our trip to the aquarium. The kids loved having such undivided attention and hearing lots of stories about their Grandma Rideout when she was a little girl! Very special.We were also able to have a lunch visit with my Grandpa and my Aunt Barb. Again, special times with special people. The kids left determined to try out Great Grandpa's artistic advice.
Not long before we left, we joined Dad and Grandma Rideout in making the trip down to Maryland where Ian's sister and her family live. Our kids were overjoyed to have some more time with their cousins. There is never enough of that! We are so thankful for the special friendships our kids have with their cousins. We know it takes effort on our family's side, and we are so thankful! While we were in the more southerly realms, we were also able to take in a family wedding in Virginia. There we saw several of Ian's cousins, aunts, and uncles. Being on another continent means we miss a lot of special occasions, so we were glad to be Stateside for this one even though we forgot to bring our camera! Oops.
As usual, throughout our entire visit we were able to spend time Dad and Grandma Rideout. In the many years that we have stayed with Dad and Mom and Grandma, and now Dad and Grandma, I always leave so thankful for family. God knew what he was doing when he put us in families. We are so privileged to have a family that loves God and loves us. To be able to share daily life with those who know us best and love us anyway is a special blessing. It was fun to have one last celebration for Grandma's 90th birthday while we were all together. A special highlight this time was the never-before-seen video footage of Grandma! There were shots from when she was a girl through her children's (Dad) teenage years. The kids thought it was lots of fun to see Great grandma with her doll and Grandpa jumping around like a jumping bean. Thank you, Dad & Grandma, for always welcoming us with open arms despite the noise and mess we bring! Thanks, Dad, for putting kids to bed and buying groceries and making trips to the dump. Your example of servant hood to us is a powerful one. We love you!
No pictures could ever contain how much we love each one of our family. We are so thankful for the special times we had together this summer. We miss you more than we can say. The last few times we have come home to Africa, Kay has unexpectedly summed up all our feelings at being apart. She will be talking excitedly until the automatic door closes at the airport, whereupon she abruptly breaks into sobs. Though we love coming "home" to Africa, we hate having to be so far away. We love you even though we are apart and far away. Thank you for letting us go.