I would be remiss to post about July and not mention our houseguest for the month! Irina came from Ukraine to visit us again. She was a delight to host and it was sad to send her back because this was likely our last time to have her visit.
Her 17th birthday was the day after she arrived so we threw together a little party at my mom and dad's poolside.A few days later we celebrated the Fourth by going to a parade. Ira kept wondering "Why do they throw candy?" It's unusual for there to be any freebie stuff passed around in Ukraine. Nevertheless, she ran out like one of the kids and gathered candy to take home to her friends!
Another day, We went to Chattanooga and picked blueberries with Steve's brother Daniel and his family. It was a hot day but she picked like a champ! Again, she was surprised that we were allowed to eat while we picked. She looked at me unbelieving at first but she shrugged and ate her fair share!
Ira loved Dan and Bonita just as she has loved all our extended family members. We took her once again to the family reunion in Pigeon Forge. She loves it there and loves how everyone welcomes her with hugs and bright, warm greetings. I wonder what it would be like to be her and have no one. When she's here, she calls us Mama and Pop. She talks about "our baby" and "our family" and when we went to look at a few houses she asked if "we will buy this one" and so forth. She loved having a family, it was clear. I hope that someday we will be able to visit her again and that she can always count us as a kind of family that she has.. People 'out there' who love her and are praying for her.
We also did some other things like bowling, swimming, canoeing, My dad's 70th birthday party, and such, but mostly, we just hung out and did the stuff families do. The kids loved that she commandeered them in the afternoons to fry potatoes with her. They made all kinds of creations for me to try and we went through a LOT of potatoes but the memories were good and the kids even got better at their Russian!
There were a lot of sad faces around our house after she left.