Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Very Happening Place

It was a particularly busy time in the Spafford household, when the craziness of eleven people's schedules was combined with the events of a crazy week of running.
There to witness all of the chaos were Nana and Papa visiting from Michigan for three weeks.

 It was the week of the Spring Bible conference which meant that we would be busy for the evenings of Sunday through Wednesday! Although it's always a blessed time, it is also one of much running!

Our van has on several occasions almost left us stranded, but we've always seen the goodness of the Lord in protecting our family from what could have been.
The week of the Spring Bible Conference, mom detected an unusual sound in the engine of the van. She brought it in to get it checked out thinking that the vacuum pump might be going out again. This time though, the mechanic found out that our water pump had been going out for sometime. 

He was not going to be able to repair the van for a few days, so for those three evenings, we had to cart everyone to church in multiple cars 😊 Some did not find this arrangement a disagreeable one and took the opportunity to enjoy the drive in the truck 😉

Following directly on the heels of the conference was the Good Friday service. The service was a time of scripture reading, congregational singing, and special music. Many of our family members were involved in preparing a song for that special night. Even Papa and Mom were practicing to perform "The Love of God". When the night finally arrived, everybody preformed beautifully and the service came together perfectly!

All of this rushing around did have it's minor side effects though! The three youngest members of our family came down with a cold that week. 
With Austin down sick, certain responsibilities around the house got neglected. There was one time when we almost missed putting the trash out for the week, which may seem like a minor mistake to most people, but to our family of eleven, it would have been quite disastrous ;)

Next Sunday, we were invited to eat at one of the best places on earth. It has been our great pleasure to join the Bystrom's in celebrating Easter for the past couple years! Mr. Bystrom's cooking is well known and talked about in our family and around church! He spends hours cooking meals of specially concocted veggie dishes, perfectly flavored potatoes, and a variety of other foods, always unique and flavorful!
They had promised us again and again that they would keep this meal simple, but after the eighth dish had been brought to the table, we laughed at their idea of a "smaller" meal! ;) 

There were two occasions when we paused the busyness of life to celebrate two very special people and their birthdays! Both Papa's and Jonathon's are within days of each others. We "sighed" at the prospect of consuming two cheesecakes within a very short period of time :)
Jonathon chose a more exotic selection of foods for his meal, consisting of baba ganoush, hummus, pita breads, falafel and cucumber sauce, vegetable root salad and marinated chicken. (Mediterranean food has become a Spafford favorite!)

Papa's meal of sweet potato casserole, pork loin, curried rice, Italian dinner rolls and apple sauce was a lot simpler to prepare the following week. 
The cheesecake selections were equally satisfying: mocha chocolate and peppermint cappuccino :)

We still found time to enjoy an evening walk down our country road. It was a wonderful reminder of what a beautiful area we live in. Passing a dad riding a tractor with his little daughter on his lap just made me smile :)

There was even time to attend a high school production of Agatha Christie's play "The Mousetrap".

For some reason having new people in the home always gives me an urge to cook a more gourmet menu then usual. 
As a result, Nana and Papa got to try English pasties, Polish perogies, Thai stir fry, and a variety of other interesting foods ;) 

There was a break in the rainy weather when papa got an opportunity to get out and mow the lawn (always a favorite pastime of his :) 
We took one Saturday to eat out at Hudson's and spend the day window shopping :)

You can't help but smile at all of the craziness of life, everybody keeping a different schedule and trying to meet together for group events as well. We just rejoice in each new day that the Lord has given us; As someone once sang, "It's just another day in paradise: ;)

When Tuesday came and it was time to say our goodbyes, though none of us were ready. Jonathon suggested that we head back to the beach and start those three weeks all over again....wishful thinking of course😊 So, thankful for the three weeks that we got to spend with Nana and Papa, expectant of the next year's visit. A few goodbyes tears were shed and Nana and Papa boarded the plane back to Michigan.

Monday, April 17, 2017

A Mini Vacation

The B's Nest
On the weekend of the first week in April, the Spafford family enjoyed a four-day vacation at Manzanita beach, soaking in the sun and enjoying walks on the beach in the rain.
Manzanita Town

It was a blessing to be able to take Nana and Papa to our little home away from home. 

The van pulled out on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. after everyone had arrived home from work. Following closely behind us was Jonathon's Lexus carrying Nana and Papa. We'd packed sandwiches to eat along the way and to save time making dinner when we got to the cabin.

The amount of work that went into planning, preparing and carrying out this three-day trip was quite the feat! It could account for why everyone crashed as soon as we got on the road! 

The B's Nest was a welcome sight for all of us! There was a slight nip in the air so Austin went straightway to making a fire. Within a matter of minutes, he had a fire burning in the hearth. Everyone scurried around to make the house a home. The fire seemed to draw everybody around it, relaxing, talking and reading. Mom had popcorn popping on the stove.

The next morning, we made our traditional walk to Bread and Ocean bakery, observing along the way the damage that had been done by the tornado to our little town. We downed multiple cups of Sleepy Monk coffee. There was no need to rush as we had not planned a single thing for this trip. Our day activities would be spontaneous and the rest of the time would be devoted to relaxation ;)

That first morning, we met up with our Danish friend, Frants, who makes a routine little visit to the coffee shop every morning. 
On the way home after receiving a satisfying supply of caffeine for the day, we made a stop at the Little Apple to pick up various vacation staples, one of them being Dad's favorite brand of root beer.

Our first day in town was lazy and laid back. The schedule for the day consisted of taking walks in the gentle mist on the beach and then winding down with a good BBC drama in the evening :)

We had made a menu plan for the three days that we were spending in Manzanita. But that did not mean that we would not be flexible in changing those plans. On the way home from our walk, Jonathon informed us that he was going to treat us all to our favorite pizza.

We were told us that it would take 40 minutes till they would be ready, so we opted to wait outside, enjoying the sun and the scent of baking pizza. To any passer-by who cared to inquire, we highly promoted the pizza, promising that it would be a worthwhile place to stop for dinner.

...yes, the pizza did make it home ;)
I could go on and on to describe how amazing the pizza tasted, the prosciutto and ham pizza being a particular Spafford favorite. But that would only serve in making my readers jealous ;) Suffice it to say, Marzano's serves the world's greatest pizza!

Austin, our little pyromaniac, had a constant fire going in the hearth and it became the main place of gathering during the blustery mornings and chilly evenings.
Papa began a study in the evenings taken from the book of John on what he entitled the "seven triads of John".

The next day we awoke to torrential downpours and blustery winds! Though the outdoors did not look quite as inviting as it had the previous day, we did not stay back from taking our normal trip to the coffee shop. Whether it was due to the fact that Sleepy Monk coffee is just that delicious or out of mere tradition, I do not know...

...but it was well worth the warm bakery that awaited us with it's hot coffee, sweet rolls, and our same little spot in the corner of the room :) 

We settled on a plan to visit Tillamook that day. Though some questioned the advisability of venturing out on such a day, dad assured us that there was no danger of our van tipping over :D Dad took the windy roads a little bit more like a Sunday drive as the van rattled along, swaying a little more than usual.
Unfortunately, when we arrived in Tillamook, the cheese factory was temporarily closed down. We enjoyed sampling some cheese and a couple of the group even found their way to the ice cream line before heading home ;)

Surprisingly, the next day was a complete turnaround, and we enjoyed sunny weather all day :)
Austin was trying constantly to rope someone into playing tennis with him. I decided to give it a whirl. Austin was a very patient instructor and kindly put up with my "tennis skills". We ended up having more fun laughing than actually playing ;)

The smell of chowder that night was killing us all as we waited in anticipation for Jonathon and Leisel to finish whipping it together. Jonathon had purchased some very special salmon for this soup! 

I can't really explain why Manzanita means so much to all of us, only that it's been our favorite family spot for fifteen years now. You just can't beat all the family traditions that have been started there or the amazing memories made! I guess it's a spot where we all look forward to escaping the busyness of our daily routines and experiencing one of the greatest blessings of time :)

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Of Travels, Traditions, and Sleepovers ;)

Wednesday afternoon, the Spafford home became complete once again when we went to the Portland airport to pick up Jonathon. His two-week trip to Malaysia had been extended a few days, and we were all very eager to see him again and catch him up on all of the latest news that he had missed. He had an equally long dialogue of funny stories, amazing sites, exotic foods, and new friends to share with us. Some of the necessary catching up was done over a warm meal of eggs-n-grits and sourdough toast, made especially for his return home. 

There was also a fresh loaf of bacon bread waiting for Jonathon made from one of the three cookbooks that he had purchased for me a couple months back ;)

Dad's birthday on March 15th, though acknowledged on the official date, had also been postponed until a time when we could all celebrate as a family. What can you give to such an amazing dad to thank him for all that he has done for you! ...we thought that a full turkey dinner with german chocolate cake would be a feeble start :)

...complete with our best dishes.

Long awaited for, spring is now officially here!...though that never means the end of rain for the season. There is something so welcoming on that first sunny day; everything smells fresh; there's a hint of smoke in the air from the neighbor's burn pile; the air smells of a freshly cut hay field; you hear that first biplane overhead; take that first truck ride with the windows rolled down; the tree frogs have just begun to serenade us outside our window every night. These first signs of spring greeted me as I sat on the porch on a particularly lovely Sunday afternoon! Somehow the girls had convinced me that sitting with them, sipping tea on the porch, was a much more worthwhile pastime then taking my normal Sunday afternoon nap (it was of course very true!). There's nothing like those special times spent with sisters, laughing and making memories that will stay with you forever!

Mom and dad started a new tradition for the three littles officially titled "Monday Memories". Sometimes it can be difficult figuring out how to evenly distribute your attentions amongst nine children...but mom and dad are aces at it ;) This special evening is one that they are totally devoting to the little children to make some treasured memories with them :)

They say that spontaneity is the best ingredient for a good time. This is a true fact in the Spafford family. The plan began when someone asked a couple of us girls to house sit for their cat, and it turned into a six person sleepover...babysitting for one cat :)

We packed up three extra sleeping bags and pillows, some enchiladas for dinner along with the main dish, Chocolate brownies ;)

Cozying up with warm blankets and tea, we settled down to watch a couple episodes of the TV show "Merlin". Jonathon's jet lag prevented our little party from going on into the early hours of the morning. 

The late-sleepers the next morning were awoken to the smell of eggs cooking on the stove and country music playing in the kitchen. It was a rather quiet breakfast, sitting around a table with only six people to eat it. 
That first morning, we enjoyed a cozy breakfast of eggs, guacamole, and freshly baked English muffins.

With the day ahead of us, we decided to drive to downtown Troutdale and hang out for the afternoon. It's a fun little spot that looks like an old-fashioned town, complete with a couple of antique shops. 

In the middle is an adorable general store (with a lot of over-priced merchandise ;)

Our little outing together ended at an out-of-the-way coffee shop called "Silk and Espresso".
The plan had been for everybody to just stay Friday night. But come Saturday, we had convinced Jonathon to stay for one more night and enjoy a little more one-on-one with his sisters :)
The last night of house sitting, our party had dwindled down to a lonesome three...but we still managed to have a fun time together staying up till two in the morning ;)

It's in these special times that I can't help but stop and thank my heavenly Father for the wonderful people that He has surrounded me with! These moments are made even dearer when I realize that it won't be like this forever! we take every moment we get to make memories in the time that we have been given!