This is how it started for them——in Virginia! Early on Wednesday, as in 3 a.m. early.



Two flights to cross the country, both provided seats for the babies——a huge gift for the parents.

This is how it started for me! Whoa——their arrival was a total surprise!

They traveled all this way to celebrate my retirement. Imagine . . .

Their move from Arizona to Virginia a year+ ago made me think they’d never visit us all the way out here in Oregon. I am extremely glad to be found wrong in that regard!

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Thankfully, I hadn’t had the time to sort through and “rehome” our collection of toys and children’s books, so there was plenty of entertainment for the littles——Emery and Avery (14 months) and Declan (3 years). These blocks provided entertainment for Declan’s aunt, uncle, and daddy years ago.

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The highchair still held its purpose.

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Taylor and Beth brought along some baby holders that connect to a normal chair. Darcy stood ready to clean up any dropped morsels.

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We took advantage of local play areas, this one for the rainy day.


This one for the sunny day.





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Several local restaurants served up some good food.

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You wouldn’t know it was me posting if you didn’t see at least one match-up! (That’s Ben!)

Mauri had some fun with the twin who walks (and bounces). We thought for sure Avery would take her first steps while she was here—but no.

On Saturday morning, my feet barely starting to touch the ground again, I headed down the hall to get dressed for the day.

Who did I meet? Four Arizona Andersons! In my astonishment I said, “I can’t take anymore!”

The doorbell rang. I thought it was Beth coming back from Crossfit. Wowowowowow! Ben, all the way from Michigan! Clearly I could take more!

I was flabbergasted! So many secrets kept, so much invisible preparation!

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My three offspring! I fill up my eyes whenever they’re in the same room at the same time!

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Here I am, soaking in the joy, taking pictures to help me remember.

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A panorama of the peaceful room while the littles nap. Mauri’s likely in the cookin’ room, making coffee.

“Mom,” said Quinn, “you know that family gathering you thought was happening tonight at John and Erin’s, it was just a placeholder so you wouldn’t make other plans. We’re all going to Tree’s to celebrate your retirement.”

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Turned out we went to John and Erin’s after all, but for a full-family photo shoot in their scenic backyard.

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Photoshop grandson Bailey and his fiancé, Sarah, and we’d have the perfect blend.



I might have topped my own record for photo staring!


Ten of our 11 (going on 12) grandchildren!


“Hey, Unka Dusty! What’s up?”

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On to “Tree’s” —— wonder where they came up with that name.

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I spent the whole meal in a daze, still pinching myself in disbelief. But I took a few pictures, though most of them are blurry for the very best reason: Everyone around the two tables was engaged in animated conversation. A wonder to behold, the camaraderie and connection our blended family enjoys. It’s a blessing we acknowledge as a incredible gift.



John Macy captured a few moments of joy.


And this sweet moment when Sage brought me one of the many cards friends and family mailed to Erin (for her to give me) as the result of email prompts by Quinn. No small undertaking in itself! The grandkids took turns delivering them one at a time. (I waited for better light and quiet space to read the thoughtful words of appreciation so many wrote to me. Wow!)

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Yup, we all left smiling. Especially me.

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One might think we’d be ready to call it a day, especially the driver of this carriage, whose delayed flight from Grand Rapids arrived at 1 a.m. But here we are at Jem 100 for ice cream!


Uh huh . . .

ALL the travelers stayed with us. How cool is that?

Now and then some realization would hit home: “Mauri asked me for a haircut! He never asks for a haircut.” “So that’s why you came home with so many eggs!” “You vacuumed the stairs!” All those subtle preparations going on while I focused on my work went undetected. That Mauri! He never let on, never gave the slightest clue what my future held.

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And now it’s Sunday and those surprise visitors would soon be leaving. So a plan was created for everyone to meet at Red Berry Farm to give the littles a place to run off some steam.

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This little stinker found the bag of apple-cider doughnuts and filled both fists! The tiniest at birth now has the biggest appetite! She’s known as the vacuum cleaner, steals food from her sister’s tray.


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These cousins will be together again next month for our annual Thanksgiving build down in Juarez.

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The Anderson sisters took a walk with me to see the pumpkin patch. So dear! Both very busy with college/school and work/activities, yet managed a weekend to come celebrate with me.

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This very cute pic of the Macy boys calls out to be included. We were at Round Table Pizza, but I’ll spare you all the restaurant-table pictures we took!

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I’m starting to feel the impending farewells.

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One final meal together then hugs all around as we part ways. I was too dazed to remember our white-hanky farewell tradition, carried out in such style at previous partings. But they didn’t forget. And, bless him, Mauri had his all ready to wave. Once again carrying me through.

And the next night, after we’d heard that everyone had reached their destination,

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I posted this photo on social media with the caption: “When your children and grandchildren gather from near and far without your foreknowledge, meals are planned from restaurant menus. When they all take their leave, you drown your sadness in their leftovers. #stillsoakinginhappymemories”

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7 Responses to surprise!

  1. S Craig MacDonald says:

    That’s just about the most heartwarming and smile-inducing post I’ve ever read. You’re right, the blending of the two families is a particular blessing. Happy for you to have had this experience. Thanks for sharing.

  2. mhkrober says:

    My heart is SO full reading this post. What a beautiful testament to who you are- it is a JOY to see your precious family!

  3. faye pruitt says:

    I love how your blended family loves you, and vice versa! Thanks for sharing your joy and pictures with us. You are blessed, and you are a blessing!

  4. Pingback: it was a ruse | a little bit of this and a little bit of that

  5. Julene says:

    How very sweet…that surprise was and to enjoy in memories that lives on through your writing!! Happy Days, for sure!!

  6. Toni Cunningham says:

    What a wonderful and loving family I’m amazed at all the planning that went into your big surprise

  7. Pingback: poetry | a little bit of this and a little bit of that

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