So my very prolonged report on our vacation continues. I returned from Hank and Marissa's, having loved Henry V up as much as I could. Monday morning we headed for the Kennedy's by way of Jeff and Debbie Lee's in Cincinnati. Sadly Jeff was away on business so we didn't get to play with him. But he did make us his famous FLAN which was so smooth and perfect. He's teaching daughter Annaliese to make it and so she made one for us, also...Both excellent.
We drove in to their driveway and went to the side door (we are backdoor people) and rang the bell. Finally Debbie answered it....not being used to people coming to that door she didn't believe the door bell there rang. But the Debbie that answered the door was not the Debbie of my memory.
The Lee's had moved into our ward years ago. And they were delightful. Debbie and I have much the same sense of humor and view of the world. So you might get an idea of how dangerous we could have become had they stayed in our area. Back then she only had 4 kids. And she had these long blonde tresses...all curly...and wore long dresses, flowing and homey. She hometaught her kids and I gave the 2 oldest piano lessons. We had shared dinner, and chuckles and conversations.
We watched her kids one Christmas season so she and Jeff could go shopping. She always bought DVDs. They used to live in S.America and when she'd come home, she'd buy up all the most recent ones which they hadn't seen and return with them. We were looking for a movie for the kids to watch and I noticed that about 6 of them were not in line with the rest. Turns out she had bought The Sixth Sense, it frightened her and she didn't want to see it, so she placed it behind, and then lined up the rest in front. I noticed this and asked her about it. I ended up going home with the movie cuz I thought it was a fun movie...and she didn't want it in her house.
Then they moved! Just as we were really getting going. SO NOT FAIR. First they moved to California, then to Pittsburgh, and now to Cincinnati. We have always kept in contact and when we pick up the phone to call it's like we haven't been apart. It was the same when she opened the door. No, I don't have a picture of that moment but I should have. Here was this svelt woman, straight blonde hair, skinny but still buff. Beautifully madeup, lovely skinny pants and perfect jewelry.
The picture here is one I took at breakfast, and she's still in her pjs. And what a breakfast she made us. She still is an excellent cook and has the funnest ideas. We had a super dinner and ate in a totally different way. Naturally I came home, scrounged our budget until I could find enough money to purchase this one item...and I will be having this dinner with my friends Pam and Ken, for Pam's birthday in November so more on that later. For breakfast we had grits. I had never had grits before but Alexis showed me that if you eat it with catsup it goes down really well. Plus, I have to add, if you toss in the eggs and bacon, it also helps. She's promised no grits next time...but I could do them again. They weren't bad. Just had no taste. And the southern girl in her still shines forth.
Here's Alexis. She's 16? or 17...and lovely. Always smiling and her makeup is exquisite.
At the end of this entry you'll be able to hear short moments of her and Annaliese playing the piano. Both girls are truly gifted in this. Alexis is still home schooled but through BYU (if I remember correctly). And naturally, she excels in her school work. She also takes dance and teaches dance to younger children. And practices the piano many hours a day.
More amazing still is how she so willingly jumps to serve/cook. It's obvious this is a way of life in this home. How can you not fall in love with her...the boys are probably lined up. She doesn't date any one particular lucky boy, but dates many and often...not just steadily.
And then there's Annaliese. She seems to be more quiet of the 2 older girls but I see hidden things going on in her heart and head. There are wonderful thoughts to be had there. And oh the paths she's going to travel...and probably she'll give her parents more things to think about. And she can clean like a dream! And so willingly, too. Incredible.
She also is amazing at the piano (see below) and practices hours each day and dance. Her piano teacher is working to get both girls scholarships and they both seem to be leaning toward a musical study. And also homeschooled through BYU. I think she's more interested in the young men than she'll let on. She seems to be more introspective but I guess she can cut up when given a bit more leash.
Debbie and I had some discussions on 'dating' which I hope to continue. This family is very strict when it comes to the Standards set forth in that little youth booklet, and I can't remember the title. I don't believe there is such a thing as GROUP DATING. You are either dating or you are in a group playing. But group dating? Nah....But if people want to think that an equal number of boys with an equal number of girls, hangin' in a group, is NOT going to pair up and off, then go ahead and think that. I know better.
But Annaliese is going to find the good fun. I whispered in her ear as I left...find a lot of nice boys and enjoy the fun, like them. I think I wanted to say, love 'em and leave 'em but I'm not sure Debbie approves of that concept. And she would know. She has to raise the kids in the world today...luckily I am through with that.
Then there's Jeffrey. What a sweetheart. He was a wee one when they lived in our area but he's grown to be quite the young man. He plays the piano but I don't think he's very interested in that area.
At 12, he's begun his priesthood experiences and I hear, he does them very well. He's quieter than I remember but at 12, and a boy, that's probably just about right.
He still dreams dreams and see what so few of us are able to see. It's a gift, for sure. There's a fun sense of humor within. We watched a movie together as we ate Jeff and Annaliese's flans and you could tell he had had enough of that movie, but he courteously watched with us. I don't remember the comments afterwards but I remember laughing. Some movie he watched and reportedly commented that he thought the movie was over an hour before...or was that comment the night we were together...can't recall. But Jeffrey is so very good at video games. But there doesn't seem to be the squabbles between him and Jonathon that I have seen between other siblings. I enjoyed the peace that seems to surround Jeffrey.
This is Lacey. She was a baby when she left here...but look at that dimple now! She'll be a heartbreaker. And I think she looks most like her mom.
But I think there's a tease in her, just waiting to attack. Obviously we were adults and we didn't get a lot of interacting with her. She played the piano for us.
She helped with the duties and it was nice to see...again...no arguments. Just does what they are asked. I don't know if this was company-behavior or every day behavior but it was a joy to be around.
The last in Jonathan. He's the one born in California. So we had nothing to compare him to. You can see how he's the baby...allowed to stand on the counter, trying to bring the kitten to the dinner table. Catching the kit and then stuffing it under a chair. And as soon as the cat could run, it would.
This is a picture of Robert and Jonathan. Robert had gotten out Jonathan's figures and were assembling a 'wedding' party. There was an army guy with a rifle standing behind the 'groom'. I had to ask if it was a shotgun wedding. Typical baby brother...in every way. He knew all the ways to get out of doing what his mom asked....and that was by only doing PART of what she asked and then acting all innocent. But when Debbie turned her back (say, to take the dirty dishes up the stairs, and not leave them ON the stairs), he'd be all giggly to himself.
Now I think I need to mention that besides 1 dog, 2 cats, they also have 2 pet chinchillas. And if you've been around, you know that as a child Robert's mom had a chinchilla farm. There was an old Christmas card picture of the family and Robert's holding onto one by its tail. After seeing their pets in person, I cannot imagine raising these sweet things for COATS!
It was a great 24 hours. Lovely conversation, fun activities, good concerts, lots of chuckles. Friendships can be forever.