This weekend we piled in the car and headed for the snow. We didn't go to the usual "snow spots" frequented by Fresnans like Shaver Lake or Sequoia National Park. Instead we drove north to Pollock Pines to visit our friends Doug and Brenda Round and their sweet girls, Jayna and Liana. A corridor of snow-heavy pines welcomed us to their neighborhood when we arrived. We had to stop by the side of the road to put on chains to go through the two-feet-plus of snow. That took more than two hours but Doug came and rescued us and the girls hung out while the daddies figured it out.
Doug and Brenda have a beautiful new home with a breathtaking view of the Sierra Nevada mountains. These cute two-year-olds were cautious but had a real blast in the snow. The Rounds' balcony in itself is a playground and the kids could jump over the balcony and be right on the sled run. Giada wasn't too keen on one too-fast-and-wild trip down the sled hill with mama. After that she preferred to watch and crack herself up by licking the snow. Mama and Daddy got quite the workout carrying our potty-training little one up and down the hill to take off all those wonderful layers of snow clothes and "try" to go to the bathroom. Fun. Fun.
When they weren't outside in the mountains of snow, Meilani and Liana were inside creating a world of dress-up and imagination all their own. They spent hours in the Rounds' playroom. This afforded us parents some great time for talking, catching up by the fire, knitting and even journaling. It truly was a winter retreat.
Saturday we headed south to Escalon where our friends Jen and Dave VanderMeulen live. They spoiled us with a fabulous dinner. Surprisingly, we enjoyed lots of quality adult talking time (and even a played a new game - Blockus) while the Meilani and Giada played, read, danced and even splashed in the tub with Ella and Delia.
Talk about a girls' sleepover weekend!
On Sunday morning, we walked to the Christian Reformed church with the VanderMeulens where Dave is a pastor. We were blessed to see some of the friends we read about on their blog and meet some of the generous people that gave toward our marathon fundraiser in the fall. As we exited the church for the fellowship hall, the organist was playing "Strength Will Rise When you Wait Upon the Lord" in a bouncy rhythm. I had to smile because this song has truly become our "theme song" the last few months. Wherever I go, I hear it playing on the radio, at church, on my iPhone or Meilani belting it out in the backseat of the car.
After church we went back to Jen and Dave's place for already-prepared-and-waiting Wild Rice Soup and warm bread. Yummy! Of course, we couldn't stay put in one place for long. The VanderMeulens brought us on an adventure to a local Gouda Cheese farm where they also have goats and llamas to pet and feed.
These little Dutch girls (well, and one Dutch girl by association) posed by the cheese displays. We were gifted a fabulous wheel of Basil Gouda cheese. You better believe I'm going to be creating some fun new recipes with that baby!
After the Gouda Cheese Factory, we headed to a favorite park in Oakdale. This "old school" park was complete with all kinds of mazes built out of actual wood and creative places for the kids to play. We concluded our time together chasing up the stairs, slipping down the slides and talking about some of the struggles of parenting and seeking God's calling on our life.
On our journey home we stopped for dinner with Jim & Dawn Madsen in Turlock. They set their table for a build-your-own stir fry meal full of veggies, rice and teriyaki chicken - and even tea in special tea cups. Four girls played and sipped tea and cuzzled with the cat. Jim was actually Ericlee's youth leader at EvFree Church in Fresno. Dawn helped out with lots of homeschool tips for us when we go to Haiti. We enjoyed a few hours of time to trace God's provision and fingerprints on our families' lives these past few years.
During this hard season of waiting on a lot of things, God has been teaching our family to be thankful and live in the moment. We are so thankful for the hospitality of these life-long friends. They nourished our souls this weekend.