more photos from California

Our quiet family days continue here in northern Virginia.  My parents and sister came over to Elliott’s family’s house for dinner last night, since they live 10 minutes away from each other (!).  It always amazes me to see two such different (and yet… so weirdly similar…) families gathered around the table, discussing and remembering and punning away.

Just before my family drove home, my father-in-law pulled a quote off their fridge to share with my dad.  Soon all the parents were gathered around to listen, four graying heads who have raised nine children between them.  The quote was:

But this at least all married people should know.  They can do no better work and do nothing more valuable either for God, for Christendom, for all the world, for themselves, and for their children 
than to bring up their children well.
Martin Luther in “A Sermon on the Estate of Marriage”
Our four parents have all done their very best to bring up their children well; they have dedicated the prime of their lives to raising multiple little lives.  Now as Elliott and I start out in our own marriage and bring up our first child, we are constantly grateful for the influence and dedication of our own parents as they read aloud to us, ate dinner with us each night, made church a second home for us instead of just a family requirement, encouraged us to study and value the good and the beautiful, and most of all loved us through these first formative 25-30 years of our lives.  Thank you so much, dear parents.
And now back to California.  After feeding the horses that morning, we enjoyed a quiet afternoon to ourselves at the ranch, napping and recharging for more activities that afternoon and evening.

After a peaceful morning at the ranch, we headed into the nearby town of Solvang to do some window shopping.  This cute little town is entirely Danish and looks like it could have come out of a touristy neighborhood of Copenhagen.  And the toy shops!  We had so much fun rediscovering favorite from our childhoods and imagining Lena playing with some of them in a few years.  Elliott discovered several different Playmobile versions of veterinary clinics.  The one he’s holding here is the smallest clinic available; there’s also a gigantic one that Lena might get lost in at this point.

Later that evening we enjoyed another meal with the combined family at the ranch house.  Even got a family photo, sorta.

And then, of course, another hard-fought Settlers of Catan game later that night.  The lovely blonde on the right, Deborah, won for the very first time!

The next morning we helped feed the horses again.  

Well, okay, maybe we just took photos and watched our hosts feed the horses. :-P

Lena’s sporting an awesome pair of wool pants that Elliott and I found at a kid’s consignment shop the day before.  So fabulously funky.

And then, as usual, retired to the fireplace for some quiet moments in the afternoon.

One of our favorite things we did while at the ranch was go out for my birthday dinner to The Hitching Post.  We’d eaten there on our honeymoon and I had been dreaming of their grilled artichoke appetizer ever since.  Our second meal did not disappoint, from the aforementioned artichoke to the filet mignon to the baked potato to the key lime pie dessert with a single glowing candle.  Thank you, sweet hubby. 
Going to California was a little bit of a last-minute decision for us.  Should we use these reward miles, should we drag our baby through multiple airports and 6am flight departures, should we use our last weekend in San Antonio to travel somewhere else instead?  And we said yes, in the end, because we love the people we went to visit.  We greatly value and are deeply blessed by their friendship.  I am so thankful we did, too, in retrospect, because our friendship was strengthened to endure another few years (?) of separation before we see them again.  
Maintaining friendship in adulthood takes sacrifices, for sure, and often the sacrifices are mutual.  We aren’t in college anymore; we don’t live within a 15-minute radius of our best friends.  We have to deliberately choose friendships over ourselves.  But the rewards are so great.  I am blessed by a husband who has five or so close guy friends and makes an effort to call them or see them every few months.  (Do you do that?  It’s not as easy as it sounds… and keeping up with or seeing five far-apart people actually takes a lot of time every couple months!)  I’m not as good about calling my friends, as they will assure you; they often do the pursuing of me.  Yet I see the example that Elliott has set for me and the choices he’s made, and I also want to be a pursuer, an enduring friend.  I see the incredible value of holding a few precious people (and their precious, growing families) close to your heart.  
What do you think?  How do you maintain and pursue your friendships?
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4 Responses to more photos from California

  1. Eden November 22, 2011 at 6:17 pm #

    Love the pants! And the photos. Looks like a really good time with friends. I often feel more like a “pursuer” myself, but realize that at times I let friendships slip. It’s appropriate to be closest to people who live nearest, I think, but maintaining select old friendships is also important… my old friend Caren just wrote about this too! ( I also found this a really helpful article the first time I read it:

  2. esther. November 22, 2011 at 7:25 pm #

    This is one of the biggest things I have struggled with as I move through each phase of life. I think it is SO easy to get caught up in the humdrum of daily life so that we slowly let these friendships slip away – not really realizing it until, one day, we feel like we just don’t know those people anymore. I had that happen with my childhood best friend and with a few friends from high school and college and while that has been disheartening to me I am encouraged by the fact that I am making new friends (and better friends with those I wasn’t as close with before ;) with each transition. I’ve always been the type to write letters, send Christmas cards and send out updates about my newest station but it often seems that they are falling on deaf ears. I say that not to complain, but I wonder – how much energy do you spend before you decide to save some for yourself? Leave it to Esther to ask the Devil’s Advocate questions.

  3. esther. November 22, 2011 at 7:30 pm #

    Also, I love the article Eden shared. Poignant and beautifully written.

  4. Becca November 22, 2011 at 11:01 pm #

    I hadn’t seen that article before and also love it, especially this paragraph:

    “So I suggest you write letters, and after a few months or years, foist yourself upon people’s hospitality. Visit them, wherever they live. Demand that they visit you—playfully. Be a pest, later, and abug the four or five who come back to you. Bug them mercilessly. Have your car break down near them. Get stuck with them. Laugh—but all of this must happen much later, after you expect nothing of them for a very long time.”

    It reminds me of Elliott, who was just on the phone bugging friends to be sure to stop by for dinner on their way to C’ville. And so it goes on!

    About all this falling on deaf ears… hmmm. I don’t think it does as much as you think it does, so take heart. People appreciate updates. They just either haven’t learned about what we’re discussing right here, or writing and communicating just aren’t as easy for them as it is for others. It could also be that Christmas cards and mass emails just don’t provoke a response like a handwritten letter does (or should). For the former, I’m more apt to throw them away or archive them. But the handwritten ones take time and are fewer and further between.

    Anyway, there’s no perfect solution, I know. I’m grateful for this blog thus far, and definitely grateful for Facebook, in that they do connect people in a bit of an artificial way, but still connect people more than the lack of them would. My mom and mother-in-law comment on this with great delight whenever they see Lena again! I think any little ounce of effort you put out there IS worth something, even though the result might be that you end up being the giver more than the receiver for most of your life. There is blessing in giving, though!

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