We’re home! Yes, home sweet home. How is it possible to have such a wonderful trip, but then be so delighted to be home again? The younger children were not as impressed about being home, so I explained to them that in order for us to go away again, we first need to go home. We all see things through a different set of lenses, right?

As always, on our return from a lengthy trip, one of the first things I do is take a stroll around the house. I check on the garden, the veggies, and of course the weeds. This time we were elated to find a gallon of ripe strawberries. What's better than a fresh berry straight from the patch? With the little dry spell in our area we set to work watering the garden. Ah, I can’t wait to harvest the first ripe tomato. My goal for years has been to have the first ripe tomato by my Dad’s birthday on June 26.

Daniel had weeks before scheduled a driver from Danville Ohio to come pick us up. Now imagine the excitement when the 15 passenger van pulled in the driveway and Grandpa from Ohio, rolled down the passenger window, waving at all of us. What a delightful surprise! Grandpa traveled all the 360 miles, just to ride back with us! They stopped next to our huge pile of totes with luggage, car seats, and everything else in between. We had scarcely started off when the children were already begging for stories. Even Daniel and I were impressed with his stories of boyhood days with 16 siblings.

Our trip to Ohio was packed with family time, a birthday party, fishing, garage sales and more. It was an enriching time for each of us.

If you ask Jesse what his favorite part was, he’ll say it was his fishing trip and the time he spent the night in Mary’s room. Julia thrived on her time with Aunt Mary, especially when she was asked to join her at her office to help water plants for the landscaping business. The boys were impressed by all the big tractors and forklifts on Grandpa’s farm and pallet shop. Hosanna spent hours with the boys on playing on Grandpa’s swings and slide. Little Joshua did amazingly well throughout our stay despite his teething that cost disgruntled sleep patterns and some rougher days. 

A simple thing that blessed me on our one-week stay was how I am truly welcomed as if I'm one of the family. It’s like I told them — I have done nothing to deserve their love and acceptance of me as a part of the family. Whether I need an afternoon snack for the children, or strike a notion to make supper, it’s all about just being you and blending as a big family. As a side note, I have also found that in any strong families as such, if you take a closer look, there have been a lot of giving and forgiving. Never do relationships just fall into strong ties without tying and retying knots, and learning to trust all over again.

I’d like to leave you with a recipe Daniel's mom used to make when he was a young boy growing up. He still fondly remembers his mom making this tasty dish. Of course, a homemade gravy may be used in place of the store-bought soup.

Penny supper casserole

  • 6 hot dogs, sliced
  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 1 C. peas, cooked and drained
  • 2 Tbsp. diced onion
  • 1 (10 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/4 C. butter, softened
  • 1 Tbsp. prepared mustard
  • 1 C. shredded cheese of your choice

Combine in order given and pour into a 2 quart casserole dish. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Stir and top with shredded cheese and bake for another 5 minutes. Depending on your type of potatoes, your casserole may be a bit thick, if so, add milk to desired constancy.

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