Monday, September 12, 2016

Weekend Surprise

Jacob, Mark, Mary, Jake, Dylan, Chris, and Sarah.
I love it when all three of my kids are together!
Friday, September 9, 2016

By Friday, I am beat. I usually run a few errands and then go home, looking forward to a quiet evening doing whatever non-stressful thing I feel like doing. This past Friday was no exception. Mark and I were both in the couch recliners with our feet up, watching old episodes of The Sarah Connor Chronicles (from 2008), when we heard feet on the porch and then the front door opened.

We don't stand on ceremony much. My children know they are always welcome to come in unannounced at any time. I looked up as a tall guy walked in the door, and I opened my mouth to greet Dylan. Then I closed it again and stared hard. My brain was a little slow to comprehend the message my eyes were sending. It was my older son, Jacob, who'd walked into the house. My son who lives in Utah. Ten hours away.

Jacob's coworker Jordan, Jacob, Mark, Jake, Dylan, Chris, and Sarah.

Jacob is a practical joker by nature, and one of his favorite things to do is surprise people, by any means possible. That includes never telling us when to expect him when he comes to town. Or, in this case, not telling us at all that he was coming.

A friend of Jacob's got married on Saturday here in our area, so he'd made the drive to attend the wedding. He was accompanied by a coworker, Jordan. Jordan was a nice guy, but we were all disappointed that Danielle hadn't come along, too. She stayed at home to work instead.

Two brothers, Dylan and Jacob, enjoy a visit at El Rancho.
Friday, September 9, 2016

Jacob had barely arrived when he announced that he wanted Mexican food from El Rancho. He'd been craving it since I'd texted him pictures from my birthday dinner there eight days earlier. He also wanted to surprise his siblings, so I called both Sarah and Dylan to ask them if they wanted to go out to dinner tonight. Why? "Oh, I don't know," I lied. "I just feel like being bad."

Sarah fell for it, although after we hung up she confided to Chris that it was weird for me to do something like that. Dylan begged off, though, because he'd been fighting a nasty cold and just wanted to rest after a long day at work. So Jacob drove over to their apartment to surprise Dylan in person and drag him out to dinner with us. It wasn't too hard, once Dylan realized his brother was in town. They all returned to my house not long after Sarah and Chris arrived, allowing Jacob to surprise his sister, as planned.

We enjoyed a wonderful El Rancho dinner, but especially we enjoyed being together for the evening. It's an amazing blessing to be part of a family that truly loves spending time with each other, just being ourselves and sharing fun and laughter and memories.

Sarah and Dylan play a competitive game of the latest version of Guitar Hero.

Jacob got a motel room for the next two nights, and he spent Saturday attending his friend's wedding and visiting other friends he hadn't seen in quite awhile. I didn't see him again until about 2:30 on Sunday, when he came for Sunday dinner. For the next couple of hours, all the kids enjoyed their time together, playing video games and watching videos and indulging in their typical horseplay. Then, as was usual in the days before Jacob and Danielle moved away, Jacob took command of the kitchen.

Jacob works hard to tenderize each steak by hand.

I always wonder what skinny people with small appetites do for family gatherings, because ours always seem to revolve around good food! And Jacob has a real gift for it.

Jacob's steaks were perfecto!

Jacob made this salad, packed full of fresh vegetable goodness.

On the side, a baked potato bar.

My dinner plate. I was so full, I didn't even have seconds!

Jacob and his friend Jordan spent their last night in my living room before they headed home to Utah the next morning. They got up at 5:30 and dropped Mark off at work on their way out of town at 6:00. As always, it was hard to say good-bye. Yet when I gave my son a parting hug, it was nice to be able to say, "I'll see you in two and a half weeks!" 

Jacob's flaky lemon bars are a family favorite!

Because we will all meet again, very soon, when we all join up in Anaheim, California, for our annual family vacation. So it wasn't truly good-bye. It was, "See you soon!"

Oreo Cream Pie, by Dylan and Jake. Seriously delicious.

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