Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Exteneded Family Blessings {Day 12-13: Oregon to Home}

Cousins Brendan, Peter, Lilly, Kati, MacKenzie, Jake; Joseph, Mike and Niko (all but Zac).
The route home, the final miles of our two week trek to and from Notre Dame, was dictated by the veterinary needs of our dog, Charlie, who had not one, but two tail surgeries due to injury and infection. Thanks to Charlie, our itinerary landed us in Tacoma on the evening of a family birthday celebration which enabled us to spend time with every single member of my whole immediate family (except Zac, of course).   Hot tubbing, bubble blowing, feasting and fellowship with a herd of cousins culminated with the anticipated candle-top cake and special song for Uncle Clark on his 45th birthday.  An impish teen 'five starred' his older brother in the midst of their father's birthday song, adding a 'touch' of violence to the festivities.  I guess there is something to be said for wearing a shirt at the table after all!  An indoor wrestling match after dessert helped work off a few calories and provided another opportunity for the cousins to bond.
As a special bonus, we were housed in University Place by our Godson, Sam, and his family, great (life-long) friends and exceptional hosts who spoiled us with fresh blackberry cobbler, eggs, bacon and sausage for breakfast, plus REAL coffee made to order throughout our stay.  Sam stole the show, with his great joy and exuberance for life, while the older boys shared a wee bit of screen time between rounds of hide and seek and tag outdoors in the summer sun.  A short visit to Aileen's childhood home, now vacated but still furnished after the passing of her beloved parents, was a sentimental walk down memory lane, and great reminder of what an impact her family's faith life had (and still has) on me.  Visiting with Aileen's siblings, spouses, and their growing families also brought great joy (and a late night!) during our slightly spontaneous lay-over.
Rob and Aileen's boys: Ryan, Peter and Sam
Final stop: Silverdale, where our surgically altered black lab had been cared for in our absence by Tim's brother's veterinarilly skilled family.   Visitors for Sunday worship at Our Lady Star of the Sea in Bremerton, we delighted to hear the beauty of Gregorian Chant from the choir loft and the sound, thoughtful preaching by Father Lappe.  Uplifting, challenging, faithful teaching combined with a solemn, reverent Mass puts this fervent parish on our home-away-from home list and is a must-experience for anyone traveling on the Kitsap Peninsula; a true gem.  I eagerly await the upcoming Frassati Conference happening there in November.
Drugged and wearing the cone of shame, Charlie recovers from a second tail surgery.
Kettle Corn for Sunday breakfast's dessert and a pizza party for lunch, we thoroughly enjoyed our sleep-over with Craig and Bethany and family and the added company of Grandma Billie and Grandpa Cliff who journeyed across the Puget Sound after their booth closed at the Saturday Edmonds Market.  Hearing the details of Charlie's tail surgeries and the drama and trauma he provided in his drugged recuperation brought home the realities of 
  • just how blessed we were to have been out of town during this stage of Charlie's care, and 
  • just how blessed we were to have had Craig and Bethany's veterinary expertise in the family and their willingness to dog-sit such a tough customer for those intense weeks.
Feeding the donkeys and grilling marshmallows for s'mores highlighted the boys' visit with their younger cousins, but being allowed to drive the van (slowly) up and down the long rural driveway also got high marks.  Bountiful ripe blackberries on their property kept us busy picking and snacking as well.
Violet shows Joseph how to feed Buster and Boomer.
A several ferry wait in Kingston on Sunday afternoon inspired us to take the Narrows Bridge instead, adding miles but subtracting time on the final stretch home.  One stop along the way for a super-duper inflatable neck collar to help prevent Charlie's ceaseless licking of the surgical site, and we finally arrived at home safe and sound and mostly sane.

Sort of strange to pull up at the house and see Zac's car parked out front, as if he was home awaiting our return...

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