Friends and Family

Trip Start Aug 07, 2009
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Trip End Dec 31, 2009


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Flag of United States  , New Jersey
Monday, October 19, 2009

Well we had an absolutely wonderful weekend!

Like I mentioned earlier, we stayed in a Candlewood Inn and Suites over the weekend--by far the best lodging accommodations we've experienced.

Saturday morning, we woke up and received a phone call from my mom saying that she and grandma had arrived! They were staying at the Kildow's and were going to take a nap before mom would come visit us.

Kelsey and I tidied the room and recovered from the explosion of laundry that resulted from our laundry efforts the evening before. It was weird--it felt so good to clean up a room! That's something you don't miss until you haven't had the need to tidy up for months. Maybe it's just me...

But soon, Mom came to visit us and we sat and chatted for a long while. Before time slipped away and because unconventionally late for lunch, we found a Ruby Tuesday nearby and continued our conversation over some seafood entrees and burgers. In the late afternoon, we moved the reunion to the Kildow's house, where we met up with Grandma. We hugged, and made introductions. Kelsey had never met Pam and Harold, and since we all will be sharing Thanksgiving together this year, it was nice to get the introductions out of the way now.

It had been a while since we'd sat on a couch in a home. We all sat around the living room and talked about our job, mostly, but also about anything. How great it was to be part of a larger conversation, filled with other people's experiences and opinions and perspectives! We haven't experienced that for months.

Dinner time approached. Harold suggested that we eat at Houlihan's--I'm glad he did! Tell you what, the food was fantastic. Kelsey had some sizzling hot (literally) fajitas, and I dove into a pot roast (not literally). Again, it was so refreshing to be part of a big conversation around a table. Mom, Kelsey, and I had plans for church the next morning that would require an early departure, so we decided to call it a night straight from the restaurant.

Our plan was to drive down to see Nick Vujicic (lifewithoutlimbs.org) speak at a church in Maryland. We recalled calculating that it would be about 3 hours.
The next morning, I checked to see if he was indeed still scheduled to speak at the church--he was--and I checked the map again to see if it was indeed a three hour drive--it wasn't. It was about four hours. Kelsey and I decided that eight hours in the car all to see Nick for one, maybe two, wasn't worth it. Especially with Mom, who already would be travelling that much to visit us--it would be a long day. And we would miss out on time with Grandma and the Kildows. So, that morning, we decided to forgo that opportunity.

It turned out fortunate that we did!
We met at the Kildows' house, where Pam had prepared a wonderful breakfast spread, which we thoroughly enjoyed before heading out. The six of us then drove to church--Sunday School, actually, where the men and women were split for discussion. We discussed Shadrach, Meshach,and Abednego. Harold, of course, was in my group. Talking about the Bible is a different experience when a doctorate in political science speaks from his perspective :)

The sermon was wonderful, too--all about the need for clarity and understanding of worship. Worship and preaching is expected to be understood and applicable--not lofty and inaccessible. Mom especially soaked that message up--it was more beneficial for her to hear--moreso than our previously-planned church experience. It's neat that God changed plans for that.

After church, Mom took Kelsey and I to Applebee's, where we enjoyed another wonderful meal and conversation. We ran an errand at Target, hung out at our hotel, and introduced Mom to our van. She took pictures.
Later in the afternoon, we visited with the Kildows again. Kelsey found a comfy chair and a blanket, and was soon asleep. I did likewise on the couch. We woke up to tea brewing, which furthered the comfortable afternoon.

We soon broke out the cards and set out to play some Hands and Feet. How fun! What I love best about that game is that it inevitably requires a lot of people all around the table interacting with each other. That's my favorite, and that's what the rest of the evening was all about.

The night could not extend too long. Kelsey and I had a 7:45 show at a school 40 minutes away the next morning. But we slept contented and refreshed from the great weekend.

* * *

Kelsey and I arrived at the school, and set up the show--business as usual. Grandma and Mom arrived just in time to join the rush of kids into the auditorium. The show ran smoothly, and our job there came to a close. A student writer from the school newspaper came and interviewed us about the event, and she stood right beside my mother as they both took pictures of us and our set. We felt like quite the celebrities.

After the show, the four of us got a bite to eat at Dunkin' Donuts, and then Mom and Grandma left to begin their return home.
It was sad to see them go--we had had such a nice weekend. We had talked a lot about Thanksgiving (really--Kelsey and I talk about Thanksgiving nearly every day--it's what gets us through these weeks :), and we contented ourselves in the fact that we'd be seeing everyone again in about a month.

* * *

Kelsey and I still had work to do, though! Our show in a nearby school that afternoon... well... probably had the worse audience we've ever had. It was 800 students in a small gymnasium of a school that was built for 300 students. The culture of that school was like the students outnumbered the teachers, and they knew it. They were very disrespectful, and you could barely hear the show over the non-video-related murmurings. We were happy to leave.

On our way out of town, we stopped in nearby Cranbury to visit the post office. But it's the nicest little town! We delayed our departure by ordering ice cream from a little ice cream shop operated right out of someone's house window! Fantastic.

We then had to drive up to Long Island to stay the night before our Tuesday show. Kelsey made plans to stop by the Staten Island Ferry--a free ride from Staten Is. to New York City. As we were driving, we received a call from our friends the Wahlgrens, who were also staying on Long Island that night. We were too far apart to meet up with them presently, but we made plans to meet them for dinner.

With a full evening booked, we continued to Staten Island where we found free parking to precede our free ferry ride. It was a wonderful little trip at sunset--pictures are attached :)

Because sunset in New York also means rush hour in New York, we were running late and had to drive straight to Chili's to meet our friends. But we made it! It was so good to talk with people who are doing the same job we're doing. We traded horror stories, laughed at sections of our video, shared travel tips--time flew away from us.

We cut our evening shorter than we would have liked--after all, it was nearly 11:00, and we had another early morning.

Unfortunately, between some incredibly confusing street addresses and some misleading TomTom directions, we didn't get to our [correct] hotel until nearly midnight. We stumbled into our room and fell asleep after a long 18-hour day.

But how good it was! It's hard to believe it all started with our family visiting our show. Friends and family are far superior to sleep or low-key afternoons in a hotel. Though it cost us physical exhaustion at the end of the day, we were mentally and emotionally refreshed. Cool.

Thanks, Mom and Grandma, for coming to visit us! It was our favorite weekend yet! And all you New Englanders--we look forward to seeing you over Thanksgiving! Love you :)

- Mike and Kelsey
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