Family

So many things have happened since I last had a moment to write.  The month of May is hurtling along at breakneck speed, the month half over while I’m still wondering what happened to April. 

First I crammed as much work as I could into last Monday and Tuesday, then on Wednesday I hit the road for Michigan.  It was one of the easiest trips I’ve ever had and I miraculously made only one stop on the eight hour trip. It was a warm, sunny day and after I arrived at my destination, I had the opportunity to tromp around some of the sixteen beautiful acres at Macon Hollow Farm.  It reminded me of being a kid and going outside to explore our mini farm.  I was treated to a delicious meal and I didn’t even freak out when I found a tick crawling on me.  See what a big girl I am?

Thursday was a milestone event in my family – my Mom celebrated her eightieth Birthday!  It seems our High Tea has become an annual event.  When I arrived, preparations were in full swing – my sisters and youngest niece feverishly preparing all the dishes.  There were cucumber and turkey finger sandwiches, turkey, cranberry, and orange marmalade wraps, bruschetta with tomato, olive oil, basil, and mozzarella, deviled eggs, chicken salad in puff pastry, lemon petit fours, chocolate dipped strawberries, mini cheesecakes, sugar cookies, and ladybug shaped apple pies.  And tea, of course. 

Tea Party Spread

Finger sandwiches and fancy desserts

Tea Party Table Setting

My sisters and nieces created a lovely table setting

Tea at the Tea Party

All ready for tea!

Moms 80th Birthday

Happy 80th Mom!

Friday I headed to Detroit Metropolitan Airport to pick up my brother so he could join in the festivities.  There was a minor incident with Delta’s first attempt to land and when they finally got to the gate, the door wouldn’t open.  The aircraft finally had to be towed so they could get it open and the passengers could deplane.  Needless to say, he was pretty happy to get off that plane.  That evening we celebrated all the May birthdays in the family (there are four!) with pizza and German Chocolate Cake.  No, we hadn’t had quite enough dessert the previous day. 

Sparks Siblings

All four siblings in the house!

Sparks Family May 2016

Family portrait

Saturday the weather turned cold and rainy, which was disappointing as my youngest son and his wife were heading to Macon Hollow Farm for a tour.  Since it’s May, I did not bring my winter coat with me, which I suppose is foolish on my part because it does occasionally get really cold in Michigan in May. The tour commenced and then we headed to my parents house to meet up with all my other siblings.  The next few hours were spent telling stories and laughing and I just had the best time.

The weather was still cold on Sunday and as I was eating my oatmeal, I noticed it was snowing.  Not light little flakes, but so much snow that it almost looked like it was raining.  It did that a few times that morning, with little balls of hail hitting the windshield as we drove to church.  After a brief visit with my parents and siblings, I drove across the state to visit my son and his wife and my four grandkids.  There is nothing better than little ones running up to me and hugging my legs, shouting “G!”. 

My brief vacation ended Monday as I headed back to work and slogged through the hundreds of emails that filled my inbox over the past few days.  After work I met my son and his family at the Wyoming Public Works Building for their annual Open House.  The grandkids loved climbing inside the equipment and the police cars, touching every button and lever, and pretending to operate the vehicles.  There were no free hands to take pictures as every adult was either holding a baby, a plastic ‘hard hat,’ a balloon, or a little one’s hand.  After we saw all the vehicles and got a coloring book, we were treated to a free meal of hot dogs, chips, and soda, a kid’s favorite meal.

Tuesday I spent the evening helping the grandkids dig in the dirt and pushing them on the swings until I thought my arms might just fall off.  It looked like there was a solid half inch of mud in the bathtub after the little rascals finally got all the dirt washed off.

Zephys Dandelion

The prettiest dandelion I’ve ever received

Then it was Wednesday, another day of work, but also family night at Wyoming Park Bible Fellowship.  You guessed it, another kid friendly dinner of hot dogs, chips, cookies, and pink lemonade.  All the grandkids played like crazy, then we went to the sanctuary and sang Father Abraham, complete with all the hand motions.  This is the cheesiest version I could find – yep, I looked exactly like Miss Jen when I was singing along.  The kids shared the Bible verse they’d been working on over the last year and of course they were adorable. 

No doubt you’ve found this history of the last couple of weeks of my life enthralling and wow, I am quite the photographer, but what I like to leave you with is this.  It doesn’t really matter what I’m doing, whether it’s something boring, something exciting, or something Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram worthy, what matters is who I’m doing it with.  Maybe you have the opportunity to spend time with your family all the time, maybe too much sometimes, and maybe they get on your every last nerve and push all of your buttons.  Or maybe you don’t see them much and that’s just fine with you.  Or maybe you love spending time with them and make a point to get together as often as possible.  Or maybe you’re like me – you know your family is less than perfect, you know how to put the fun in dysfunctional, you’ve had your differences over the years, but you love every last one of them and are grateful for any time you get to spend together.  There’s one thing of which I’m certain – at the end of the day all that really matters is relationships.

Hip Donelson Farmer’s Market

After months of waiting it’s finally here, the Hip Donelson Farmer’s Market!  All afternoon I kept checking the time – I wanted so badly to skate out of work early to be there when it opened at 4:00, but did the right thing and didn’t leave until quitting time at 5:00 pm.  The parking lot was full but I didn’t even mind having to search for a spot – I was thrilled that so many people were there.

It was great to see the farmers – my farmers – their tables and coolers filled with wonderful food even though it’s still early in the season.  As I watched them hustling to take care of Customers, I couldn’t help but smile – I’m so happy that business is good and that they are making a living from feeding all of us.

A little goat feta here, some onions and tomatoes there, turnips and radishes, buttery lettuce and spinach, cheddar and smoked Gouda, a plump whole chicken, and yes, strawberries.  Unable to resist, I ate several cherry tomatoes and strawberries on the ride home.  It was sunny and my moon roof was open and everything seemed right with the world.

This morning I stared in the refrigerator for quite some time, trying to figure out what I would take for lunch and fix for dinner.  It hasn’t been a normal week – I actually left the house and dined with friends a couple of times so the normal supply of leftovers was non-existent.  The best I could come up with for dinner was some leftover chicken I’d put in the freezer in some stock.  Pretty lame.

Steak Dinner at The Farm House

Steak dinner at The Farm House

As I put my Farmer’s Market bounty away, however, an idea began to form and instead of the somewhat boring soup I’d planned to make, I put the chicken and stock in a cast iron skillet, cooked some egg noodles, added spinach and tomatoes to the chicken, tossed it all together, and topped it with some cream.  Pretty delicious if I do say so myself. 

Dinner Creation

It’s possible that it’s just a food coma, but I feel a sense of contentment that I haven’t felt in a while.  After months of winter and so little in the way of fresh fruits and veggies, I can’t help but rejoice in the first harvest.  The miracle of dirt and seeds and plants and food never ceases to amaze me and I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for all these gifts. 

Cherry Tomatoes