To honor my dad on his 60th birthday, my brothers and sisters and all of our kids went to spend a week with my parents. It has been several years since we’ve all been together, and we were really looking forward to this time.
Our vacation in Missouri was simply amazing. The days were filled with laughter, transparency, togetherness, fun, tears…moments that made up a truly wonderful week.
Monday started off with family pictures-all 32 of us! My brother and sister-in-law are absolutely amazing. Working with, arranging and coming up with some really great shots of all of us…all with smiles on their faces.
After standing in that sweltering Missouri weather, it felt GREAT to be in the lake that afternoon!
We had two photo sessions for Michaela’s senior pictures. My sister, LeeAnn, came along with us for the Monday evening session. She has a great sense of humor, and we had plenty of laughs while Matt and Melissa were setting up these beautiful shots of Michaela. There were several times that I asked myself, with a lump in my throat, where in the world did the time go? How is it that my baby girl is getting ready to graduate from high school? I still have a bucket list of things I want to do with her!
Our morning session was quite early, and I so enjoyed that time with Michaela, Matt and Melissa. I just love watching this girl of mine, who not only has such a pretty face, but watching her character and personality as she interacted with her uncle and aunt, I just found myself watching her in awe, she is so beautiful!
While here in Missouri, my parents have made many friends in a Mennonite community in the country. On Tuesday morning, we went out there for a few hours, and shopped at their whole food/dent and bent store, and was invited by the owner of the store to go over to his house and see the baby fawn that his family recently rescued from a neighbor dog. This fawn was SO cute, and very brave, considering the calm way she reacted to the horde of children that surrounded her, wanting to pet her and hug her. She would simply nuzzle their faces, and lick the salty sweat of their cheeks. While Mennonites do not allow photographs of themselves, they graciously allowed us to photograph our children with the fawn. What a great memory!
Tuesday night was the night that we had set aside to celebrate my parent’s anniversary.
Last year, they celebrated 40 years of marriage, and we wanted to celebrate them and their commitment to each other. They are such an example to each of us, and we do not take for granted the godly heritage that they are passing on to us.
Wednesday, of course, was the 4th of July…which we celebrated by more lake time, and our family was in charge of the making the meal for that night.
and to drink…
I think the kids finished all the simple syrup I had made before the adults went through the line. I should have accounted for the fact that a couple of my children have a tremendous sweet tooth!
After dinner on Wednesday night, we had our first ever Mayer Family Talent Show. The theme this year was “the 50’s” as this was the decade of my dad’s birth. The only other rule was that every family member had to participate. It was so much fun, and so cute to see all the kids participating. But, somebody had to win, and this year…
It was us! My husband wrote out a “Tittle” version of some 50’s country skit that was really funny! My kids had fun trying on their southern accents, my husband LOVED using his accent again, and I was so very content to be the sound person.
After the talent show, we headed down to the lakefront for some fireworks!
A highlight for many of us was Wednesday morning. My dad and my husband baptized my brother, who then, along with my dad, baptized his daughter. And then my dad and my husband baptized my two oldest children. It was beautiful to witness this step of obedience, and in front of those who love them the most and know them the best. Those truly were beautiful moments that I will cherish forever.
On Thursday morning, a few of us early birds went to a state park for coffee and donuts. I wanted to be there for the sunrise, but the park doesn’t open that early, so we had to wait until 7:00am. But even without the sunrise, we had beautiful views.
We had a really nice time, and decided that has got to be a part of our get togethers from now on!
Once we all got home from Ha Ha Tonka, the boys/men had their annual paintball game in the woods behind my parents house. Some were more thoroughly covered with protective gear than others-they had to choose between being miserably hot, or bruised by a paint ball. They had a great time!
The last evening we were there, we told my dad that all the kids wanted one last ride in the trailer down to the creek. Of course, he said “yes”. My sister and I drove down with him, and as we pulled up to the creek, everyone was standing in front of a Happy Birthday! sign that was decorated with balloons. We shouted “surprise!” (well, our version of “surprise!”), and I think he was.
We bought him a Dairy Queen ice cream cake, and had ice cream floats, and presents for him. The dusk turned to dark pretty quickly, but we all loved our time together. We got one last picture of “Pa and Oma” with their grandkids in the trailer.
Another cool thing that we got to experience that week was the baby birds. Right outside my parent’s back door, a pair of birds nested in a hanging plant. My dad told us about it when we first arrived, but we only occasionally could see little tiny beaks raised from the nest. One morning, I was waiting for everyone else and the mama bird came back with a worm in her beak. She flitted here and there, stopping and looking around. She made 7 stops in the area of the back porch before feeling that it was safe enough to fly to the nest, giving away its location. Oh, the little peeps coming from that nest-they were happy about that breakfast! That mama and papa bird worked tirelessly to keep their little ones fed and protected!
On Thursday, my dad was checking on them and discovered that one brave little fuzzy one decided to brave hopping out of the nest. I came out and apparently spoke too loudly, as the little guy decided to jump off the plant…and fell straight to the ground. My dad swooped him up, returned him to the nest and we continued to watch him, quietly this time. A day later, this is what the birds looked like…
and the day before most of us packed up and left, the baby birds all left the nest. It made me kinda sad. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to those cute little birds yet. I wonder if the parents were ready.
I know on Saturday, when my parent’s “little birds” were getting ready to leave, we were all a little sad. Okay, we were all a lot sad.
It is precious to have time like that together. And the more time that passes by, the less we take each other for granted. We love each other. And I think that is priceless.
Getting together for my dad’s 60th birthday is such a small way of expressing how we love him. He is so many things, but as I’ve been thinking about him this week, I realize that so many of the traits that we love about him, flow out of his deep love for God.
I don’t think I realized this about him when I was young, but he really enjoys God’s creatures. (Most of them, anyway. Not sure about cats…) He is the one who made us aware of the baby birds, and gave us that opportunity to appreciate them!
He is generous. We came away with stacks and stacks of books. (really good books! and a whole bunch of other stuff to boot!)
He really loves God’s Word. And he takes it to heart.
He is not afraid to stand up for the truth. He cares about people and their relationship with the Lord.
He loves his kids. And really loves his grandkids! In fact, my two oldest are leaving in a couple of days to spend some time with my mom and dad. I’m gonna miss them, but I know that time passes so quickly, and I want Michaela and Alex to spend as much time with my parents as they can.
I believe this to be the case, but I truly hope that my dad will carry all these memories from this past week with him for a long time. That every time he thinks back, he will know how much we love him.
Dad, we really love you and are so very thankful that you are ours! Happy, Happy Birthday!