When we started planning our furlough we decided that we needed to take the kids with us on a short trip to visit some family and friends. Last furlough they didn't accompany us because they were in school. So, we planned the trip shortly after our arrival in July, before school and football practice started. Here's what our trip schedule looked like: TN, VA, DC, PA, OH.
We started in the Johnson City, TN area. We first stayed with some good friends Kyle and Diann Lockner and their daughter Lydia. We first met the Lockners when Chad played on their church's softball team back in 1996. Their kids were small back then and now.....not so much! They are both in college. Lydia (she was about 4) used to say that Chad was her "best one"! That's a saying that has stayed with us for years. Every once in a while I will tell Chad he's by "best one"! Lydia will love that I shared that with you all!
While there we were able to visit the Gray Fossil Museum. Right down the road from the Lockner's house is the location where paleontologists have found bones of many animals that weren't thought to be native of the area. It was quite interesting. The kids enjoyed it. I walked away thinking why would anyone want to sit in the dirt with a trowel and brush, tediously removing every piece of dirt from an area?? I just don't get it, but we still had fun.
Thanks Lockners for a great time! We always enjoy laughing with you all!
|The kids helped sift some of the findings....or just rocks!|
|The Irwins and the Lockners|
For our next stop we stayed in Johnson City, but this time with Janis Livingston. Janis's family has treated us like family since we lived in TN when we were first married (and even when Chad was in TN single). She is the best grandma and a true servant!
We were also able to have a get-together with many folks from our old Johnson City church, Southside Baptist. We are so blessed to have such great people in our lives! Thank to Betty Livingston who hosted all of us in her home!
|The "tacky women" (quilter's club) made me a quilt!! Isn't it gorgeous?!|
|The kids hit it off with the new pastor family's son, Isaiah.|
|We took the kids to Watauga Lake where we used to hike and camp.|
Our next stop was Richmond, Virginia to see my uncle, Dick Neiswander and his family. We hadn't seen all of them since our first furlough. It was great to catch up with everyone....but it was all too short. Although we have never lived close, we have some great memories of holidays at our grandparent's house. But, now that our grandparents are gone, we don't get together any more which is sad.
|My cousin David and his daughter Grace (His wife wasn't able to come.).|
|Here we are at Grandma and Grandpa's house - 1973. We've all changed a bit! My sister is the one with the orange pig tail ribbons and I'm the baby.|
|JeanAnn, Tarren, Carrie (Amy's daughter), me and Amy|
|Olivia learned how to play "carrom". We used to play this game ALL the time with my grandparents. Great memories.|
|My cousin JeanAnn and I|
|Back row: Quinton Smith, Matt Burgener and his girlfriend, David Neiswander, Nick Burgener, Amy Smith, Me, Carrie Smith Front Row: Josiah, Olivia, Grace Neiswander, Tarren Neiswander, JeanAnn Burgener, Uncle Dick Neiswander|
Next we visited the Hunt family in Rixeyville, VA. Den and Jeanie Hunt used to live near Chad's family in Ohio and have been great friends through the years. They led Chad's parent's to the Lord and have always been like family. They moved to Virginia for jobs, but have remained a constant in the Irwin family.
We must've been laughing entirely too much to snap pictures, because we didn't take much. Sadly we didn't get one photo of Jeannie. I guess that means we have to go back!
|Den, Mark and Darby|
|Olivia and Breston....would you allow your daughter to play with a former secret service attack dog?|