July 10, 2011

The Most Wonderful Weekend!

Dear Readers,
I had been gone last month on a road trip to Illinois to see two of my dear second-cousins --- the older girl is newly graduated from high-school (a wonderful excuse to come see her and her sister again!), while the younger is my pen pal and best friend! My grandmother offered to bring me up there to celebrate the graduation and spend time with my best friend, whom I hadn't seen in two-and-a-half years! So naturally, I was EXTREMELY excited for this trip! I took plenty of pictures, and as you look at them, I'll explain the whole story of my wonderful weekend one sweet adventure at a time.

 My Grandma Mary scooped me up  one Thursday evening and took me and her sister, Anita, home with her and Grandpa in Wisconsin for the night. Friday morning, we blasted off at about seven, headed for Illinois, Grandpa staying behind.
I had forgotten to bring a book, so for most of that six-to-eight hour long drive, I listened to Owl City and wrote to one of my old stories I have not yet finished. My imagination was then beginning to overflow with fantastic new ideas, so much so that I could barely write things down at the near light-speed of my thoughts.
 My mom had just recently purchased what we thought was a mere thirty-inch-tall camera tripod for me --- THANK YOU MOM!!! --- which I was experimenting with Thursday night as I got into bed and read the Bible for the evening.
(Once returned home from the trip, my dad discovered that the knobby knees of the tripod unsnapped and let out to make the legs even longer! I now have my dream tripod, and you can only imagine my love for it, if one can love a tripod.) ;)

Proverbs... LOVE!!!

As I said, on Friday morning --- at last --- we were off! I took but a few photos of the nature outside before we hopped into the car and were on our way.


We stopped at a gas station and I took out my camera, ready to capture the many interesting things around me, including small buckets of crawling creatures, a giant hanging frying pan, a wooden black bear, and some old, overgrown flowerbeds.

I remember when I was taking this, Great Aunt Anita pointed out how another flowerbed nearby looked even worse, laughing and teasing me lightly about how strange of things I enjoy snapping photos of. I looked at the flowerbed she pointed out, and took a picture.

Isn't it beautiful? ;)

This is my excited "I just tried the most delicious lemonade EVER" face.
 While grandma was driving, I got the brilliant idea to take pictures of myself in the rear-view mirror --- there were other pictures also, but the faces I made were a little too creepy... You can imagine... ;)
 When we AT LAST arrived in Libertyville,  we stopped at my cousins' aunt's house so that Anita could drop off some flowers for her. We made such jokes about how many flowers there were in the trunk so that she doubled over in laughter and couldn't stop for a full sixty seconds, at the very least!
 Arriving at my cousins' house was the best part! When we drove up, my grandma moved to park in front of the house. We were just about to get out when the ladies decided the car wasn't close enough to the curb. It must have been a few AGONIZING minutes before they deemed the parking job acceptable and let me out of the car. Leaving all purses, bags, and other encumbrances behind temporarily, I raced to the door and knocked soundly, barely containing my excitement. Aubrey, their dog, came to the door, barking his announcement that someone was there. After a few seconds, my dear cousin --- my best friend Elaine --- opened up the door. She gasped, and we both began to grin from ear to ear. She flung the door open, and gave me a huge hug, exclaiming about her excitement that I was finally there! She said that she had been wondering why it was taking us so long to get there, and all I could do was laugh and stammer and laugh some more. I was so happy to see her again!
    We brought all of our things inside, and Elaine gave me a brief tour of the house. I still remember the last time I visited vaguely; I remember how Lilly, Emily (my sisters), Stephanie, Elaine (my cousins) and I all slept in their living room on the floor. That was eight years ago. I remember staying up super late watching 'PowerPuff Girls' and talking so much we kept the adults awake. Ooops... ;)
    This time, we were going to leave soon for Stephanie's graduation ceremony, and had some sandwiches before we left. Elaine and I sat in the living room, talking so much that I barely had a chance to eat! Every time she left the room I gobbled down as much as I could so I wouldn't starve through the night. It was WONDERFUL to see her again and to have so much to share.
    Also, related to the picture of the flower... this was the first Lady's Slipper I had ever seen before! Minnesota's state flower, and the first time I ever see one, I'm in another state! ;)

    Stephanie's graduation was at a place called the Sears Centre. The walls had the coolest wheat-like pattern on the outside.

Inside, the unanticipated spaciousness was mind-boggling! There were exactly five-hundred-and-seven high school students graduating! The ceremony was about two hours long, maybe longer. But it was VERY nice. I'd never been to a graduation ceremony before, only  open houses, so this was a rare treat for me. And best of all, I was with my very best friend. ♥
Get a load of that crowd! Stephanie's in there somewhere, a really accomplished young woman; she was being recognized as an Honor Student and several other amazing things. I was and still am so proud of her!
Later that night, after we had celebrated with Lemon Blueberry Supreme and Apple pies, Elaine and I were preparing for bed when we were called downstairs to see a 'critter' her dad had discovered outside. I was surprised, a little frightened, but also delighted when I saw that it was a luna moth! I'd seen them in pictures Lilly had taken on camping trips before, but this was my first time seeing one up close and personal. Elaine and I leaned in close once and it flitted it's wings, which nearly scared us too death! It was a little freaky, but also so beautiful. =)
The next day, everyone was preparing for Stephanie's open house. I was privileged with the opportunity to go with Elaine to the party store to pick up some balloons. While we were waiting for them to be filled with helium and tied, we explored the store; we found so many kooky glasses and party props!

I had to show her my 'Harpo face'. I told her about when I was up in Ely, Minnesota with my family last year, and my mom took a picture of me making this face in beside a totem pole. When, at the party store, Elaine spotted this large tiki tiki pinata, she insisted. =)


 Elaine's "I just found fake mustaches" face! ♥

We talked and planned so many fun things we could do with these mustaches! At first, our plan was to introduce me at the open house to everyone attending as Elaine's home-schooled cousin from Minnesota --- with the mustache on, and doing the Harpo face. I loved that plan. Making a good impression on people is very important to me. ;)
    What we ended up doing was even better, but I'll have to save that story for just some photos later...
When we had the balloons and left the party store, Elaine showed me around the town, and I --- naturally --- took plenty of pictures.

As we were setting up decorations, and preparing food, I snapped a few pictures around Elaine's backyard.
 Now, back to the Mustache story. While working on decorating (and watching a few humorous YouTube videos by the White Brothers --- two of my awesome friends! --- on the side), we were asked to head to the grocery store for some necessary food items.
Pealing the paper from the adhesive on the back was no small feat. Eventually, we --- Elaine, Stephanie and I --- put on our fuzzy mustaches, smoothing them down often when the heat and humidity caused them to slip down. Mine own molted, as seen in the photo below, as I was constantly straightening it.
We passed once by my grandmother, and she didn't take notice of our dignified mustaches. But when at last she did, after being pursued and her attention grabbed by our deep voices and British accents, she laughed and took our picture.
Elaine wore a pale gray mustache to match her blue eyes. Stephanie chose a marvelous blonde one, small and 'right-to-the-point' styled. I selected a black one which reminded me of Groucho Marx, complimentary to my Harpo face. ;)
At the store, we walked straight and tall, greeting everyone we passed in our dignified British accents. I carried a basket, Elaine sought out the items for which we had come, and Stephanie documented almost everything on her new camera recording device. Two men with real mustaches complimented ours with smiles and light laughter as we marched stiffly through the aisles, and we cordially congratulated them on theirs in return. We received frequent stares and giggling, so much so that it became quite difficult for me to keep my poker face on. A lady at the check-out aisle said she wished that we could stay her entire shift; we would have been delighted to, of course, but we had a party in the making, and had to return home with the groceries.

There was a line of people at a Dairy Queen on the road, and while the light was red, we greeted them also, commenting about the 'jolly hot weather', and asking what they thought of our mustaches. There were a few smiles, but after a moment, everyone turned back around to face the ice cream window. "How very rude," we said, ruffled and displeased. And still, a most undignified smile was threatening to break past my serious expression. Elaine conversed with another driver on the road, his son staring at us from the back seat with either marked confusion or absolute horror. Or more likely, a great deal of both! I confess, this was one of my favorite parts of the entire trip! ;)

So... The food was nearly all prepared, the decorations distributed to their various locations, and soon the guests were going to arrive!

I met a few darling little children at the open house, and many of Stephanie and Elaine's delightful friends. At first, I shyly hung around the arbor in the backyard, alone, being yet unacquainted with anyone but my cousins. But after Frisbee and Ninja, I was warming up nicely. ;)

Elaine set up a makeshift cage for her and Stephanie's bunnies to be enjoyed. Sweet-Thing and Panda. Brother and sister, and as-adorable-as-they-come bunnies. ;)

Everyone took great pleasure in observing Stephanie and her boyfriend in their own dignified mustaches. =)

Later that night, Elaine, her friends, and I all went out and had skateboard races. How fun it was! There were two skateboards and two scooters, and five girls total, so we always had someone watching the road for the rare car.

Sweet Elaine.... I've rarely had so much fun!

Let me tell you now...

Steering a skateboard --- whether sitting or standing on it --- is one of THE MOST difficult things a person can do!

Being the short, pale, simple person I am, I rarely dare to even pretend to be 'cool'. But the silly side of me takes great joy in occasionally attempting to be so ridiculous. ;)

And at last, here come Elaine and I in our own race! I feel like a true girl saying this, but I tore a nail pushing myself along. Oh, not badly! But it was so much shorter than all the other ones... =(       ;)

Here is my dear Elaine reading a draft of one of my stories. It was the last picture I took on the trip because I accidentally dropped my camera on the road while the others were skateboard-racing. It was off and closed, but something got messed up when it fell, and I couldn't change the settings. It was set to Auto, but I use Close Up so often... not being able to get to it would be a real pain. 
When I finally got it to snap back it place, my camera turned on and off at the mere touch, so that it was spasmodically opening and closing. This was just after I took the picture above. I pulled out the batteries and didn't bother with the camera until I could show it to my beloved older brother, Dan, who can fix pretty much anything.

I kept Elaine up until almost 3:00 in the morning, telling her all about the intricacy I'm planning for the story I was showing her the first draft of, and retelling the whole first versions of other stories I had written in the past. I can hardly believe that she put up with me so long! We talked about what-not together along with my droning-on about my fairy-tales.

In the morning, (for it was a Sunday), we prepared for church. I had never been so tired in all of my life! I should have known I'd regret staying up until three in the morning, but I couldn't regret trying not to waste a single moment I could spend with Elaine!

God spoke to my heart while we were in church in a powerful way which I had not experienced for a very long time! During communion, as I prayed and repented, I had tears pouring down my face from both grief over my sins and joy because of God's incredible grace. My hands were wet from wiping my eyes.

There was a meeting after the service for the members, so --- being guests --- my Grandmother and Great Aunt drove me back to the house. I packed up my things and when I brought them down, I was surprised and delighted to see that Elaine had been granted permission to come home early from the meeting and see me off. How grateful I was for that!

There was some more sweet conversation, a few bites of delicious open house leftovers, and a few more pictures taken of my best friend and me. And then, Grandma, Great Aunt Anita and I pulled out onto the road. I waved to Elaine until she was out of sight, already missing her with all my heart. I was and still am determined to not let it be another two-and-a-half years until I see her again!

Every moment I had with Elaine throughout this weekend reminded me in the most wonderful way why she is my best friend.

God bless you all,

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