We started the weekend off by picking up Michael at his aunt's house Saturday morning and driving 2 1/2 hours away to visit some new friends of ours who live near the Virginia/Tennessee border. They fed us a great lunch and then we hiked over to their shop where they make ornamental metal gates. We even had a demonstration of the making of a metal rose. Their work is so beautiful that we determined to make plans to order a custom gate for the bottom of our driveway. Once back to the house, we made Michael play his guitar and sing for us and then Candace twisted Hope's arm and had her play a few of her songs on the piano. Later, the older kids all piled in our Durango and traveled about 30 minutes to visit a friend of theirs who recently married and returned home from her month-long honeymoon. Annalise missed them while they were gone but before they left she had her first horseback ride ever, something she has been bugging me about for years. Ford and I enjoyed hours of peaceful time with conversation with the parents and grandparents. Then the kids all invaded again and set up at the kitchen table to play cards. We had to drag ourselves away to make it home in time to get to bed since we have to leave for church so early but we left thanking God for answering our prayers for good friends with older kids.
On Sunday we went to church and then back home again for an afternoon at my parents' home. They cooked a wonderful meal for us. After we ate, most of us found ourselves dozing in different places of the house. It was a laid back, relaxing day to catch up on some much needed rest. That evening Ford talked a few of us into playing a little tennis before taking Michael back to his aunt's house. We arrived at his aunt's with every intention of staying for a few minutes while Candace opened a gift from her but we ended staying and yakking and laughing until the time we had set for our bedtime that night. (The gift was a beautiful photo of Candace and Michael with the words of a country song, Josh Turner's Go With Me, which has been special to them.)
The next morning we got up at 5am and left around 6am to head out to Michael's parent's home about 4 hours away. Again, we picked up Michael and had to stop at the 24 hour pharmacy to get Priscilla's malaria medicine. While we were in the store our alarm on the Durango went off so Ford went out to turn it off. After he turned it off, Michael was goofing off by pushing the horn of the car he was driving to make Ford think it was ours. The kids were cracking up to see Ford come out again to turn it off, only to realize it was Michael. After stopping at McDonald's for breakfast we were finally on the road. We stopped and saw the place where Candace and Michael will be living and met Michael's wonderful grandmother. After that we were whisked away to Michael's home to meet his mom, dad and siblings. My heart, which has already been at peace about Candace marrying and moving away, was even more so after spending time with such a wonderful family. I was instantly comfortable and we had a lovely afternoon filled with laughter and singing. Michael's mom played and sang some songs for us, along with a couple of songs she wrote when Michael was little. Michael and his mom played and sang some songs together and Candace and the girls sang a few songs they had worked up. (All of you who come to the wedding will get to hear those in the celebration time at the reception) All of us have such a peace about this marriage and it only continues to become more evident that Candace and Michael are meant for each other. We left making plans for his family to come stay with us some weekend and we are all really looking forward to that.
We arrived home at 9:30 last night to find a note on our door from a friend that we have all been missing. He stopped by while we were gone and all of us were bummed out that we had missed him. We need more weekends to have time for so many wonderful friends and family!