Sunday, August 23, 2015

Our Open House

 This past Friday we had an open house at our place. We were celebrating the completion (well at least mostly - there always seems to be a few little things that we remember we still need to get done) of our home on the year anniversary of the groundbreaking for it.

  We did a lot of pondering over whether we would have an open house or not. Partly we really wanted to - building this house has been a big part of our lives for the last year and a half (when you count in the clearing of the land and building the garage to live in) and we are pretty excited to have that project basically finished. Also many people had been asking us: "When are you going to have an open house?". I could also see some benefits of  doing it. It could be a very fun time to invite lots of friends over and just have a party. It could be a way to say "thank you" to our contractor and all the others that worked on our place. And one of the things that made me want to do it most is that I think relationships with people are developed better when you have spent time in one another's homes. Some of the people that we invited had never been to our house before or had never been here for a social event (they either came for music lessons or to work on our house). I like to develop relationships because it is by having relationships with others that I have opportunities to share the gospel or encourage them in their faith. Those were the reasons to have the open house.

  We also had reasons that made us question having it: It felt a little awkward - a little like bragging to say "come and see our lovely new home". I was concerned that perhaps people would feel like they needed to bring housewarming gifts which I didn't want them to feel that way. I thought about saying "no gifts please" but that seemed awkward too so we didn't. We did get some gifts (and some pretty neat ones - handmade things, plants and such) and we appreciated them very much but that wasn't why we had the party and I didn't want anybody to feel like they should do that.

  So we did have the open house. We sent an invitation with a "Thank you" to the workers a couple of them expressed a desire to come but none of them ended up showing up. We gave out invitations, e-mailed invitations and used Facebook to invite a lot of others that are around here that we knew had been aware of the project we had going on in our lives. So many of them had encouraged us, helped us, prayed for us and were patient with us that we wanted to have them celebrate with us too. I would have loved to have many of you readers be able to join us as well as you have certainly been part of the process as well with your encouragement!

  Even with all the prayer that went in to deciding whether or not to even have a party I still struggled with the concern that the party would be about us or that I would deal with pride. I had to keep praying throughout the whole process that the glory could be given to God that He would use this event for the good of His Kingdom. That I would totally trust Him no matter what the results were. Obviously I had no way to predict what sort of turnout we would have or what the weather would be so I prayed that God would just work in that so that what He wanted would happen and I could rest in that.

    God blessed that evening in so many ways! We had had really cold weather earlier that week (following a hot week) but Friday was in the 70's and beautiful. Saturday and today were rainy and cold again so we feel super blessed that Friday was so nice. We had a very nice turnout of over 80 people. We had plenty of food but not tons and tons of leftovers (planning food for a party like that when you don't know how many are coming is really interesting!), people seemed to have fun and visited well together, found others they knew or got to know somebody new.

   We had horseshoes and bean bag toss (that our neighbors loaned to us) for people to play (and they did some) and then we had thought it would be fun to have a canoe race. We had people sign up when they came and started the the race at 7 pm. We had 4 canoes and ended up with 3 heats of races plus we had all the first place winners from all the heats race to see who was the overall winner. Mike and Everett walked away with that title.
This was the first heat.

 It wasn't really fair because my fiberglass canoe is definitely the fastest canoe with the aluminum one coming in second quite easily. The rubber ones just can't really compete when it comes to speed. But it was all in good fun so some people just had to live with the results of the bad canoes.
 There was some pretty furious racing that went on! The crowd on the shore got pretty in to the races too which was quite fun. All of our family except Ken ended up getting in on the racing at one point. Aaron was in the winning canoe in the first heat and I was in the second but we were both in the fastest canoe.
 The kids also had fun in the water with a rope the boys had tied to the tree so that they could swing over the water. We ended up with some wet kids but they had fun.
 We had s'more stuff for around the campfire.
 My parents had found a couple of sturdy tables at the dump which my mom washed up good and they worked well for our party. Mom thought we could keep them but Ken thinks it looks a bit to much like we have a restaurant having 4 tables in our back yard so my brother and his wife are taking them instead. :-)
Our food didn't look to fancy though Aaron and I did make a little watermelon basket and Aaron made melon balls (watermelon and muskmelon) to go into it. But naturally I didn't manage to take a picture until the fruit was long gone. Mara in the background has just gotten in from an evening swim after the party with Ken.

  As far as food for the party I tried to figure out things that would be pretty easy and not terribly expensive as we were getting for a crowd. What we did have was:

Served outside by the grill:

  • Hot dogs and Brats with buns, ketchup and mustard.
  • Corn chips and Salsa - we made some fresh salsa with stuff from our garden and also had salsa from the store.
  • Watermelon
  • Muskmelon
  • Lemonade
  • S'mores (I had all the makings for these in a basket by the fire pit)
Served in the Kitchen:

  • Tuna salad sandwiches on rolls Mara made that morning.
  • Potato Salad
  • Cucumbers, Tomato slices (both of those from our garden), Green pepper slices (given to us- homegrown) and carrot sticks.
  • Mint Iced Tea (made from our mint and honey)
  • Borage Iced Tea (made from our borage and honey)
  • Cookies and Bars (our neighbor sweetly insisted on bringing something so she brought some very yummy bars and my mom also said she would bring something and she made cookies. Mara also made bars)
We had our time set from 5:30 to 9 pm and we did have people here that whole time which was great. 

  Obviously we cleaned to get ready for this event and we pushed hard to get as many last minute projects done as possible like putting up rock around the other egress window, putting up shelves in my office closet, making stone pillars out front (they actually aren't done yet) and more. I also tried to get a little more decorating done and we got some bathroom curtains made which was a nice thing for a time when we had lots of company. In our getting things done Aaron was pretty sure that we were making a bigger mess than we had before. Some days it did really look that way. I was so thankful for my crew of helpers (my kids) that day as they went to work with a will and we got things put together and looking pretty good.

   There were a few funny mishaps of the day....
  • I bought paper plates specially for the occasion (we very rarely use them) and couldn't find them anywhere. I still haven't found them. Thank-fully Ken had bought some for a party a while back and we had some leftovers. We used those as well as our normal plates that needed washing.
  • On my first tour of the evening (which was to some friends so it wasn't a big deal) I went in to the kid's rooms and did some last minute picking up as I gave the tour since the younger two had gone up to change and left shirts and hangers and such in places they didn't belong.
  • After everybody left that night I went into the main floor bathroom and found still sitting on the counter the cleaning spray and rag that had been used earlier that day. :-) 
  • I also discovered that I had left stuff sitting out after my working on the rock by the side of the house.
  • I stuck my camera in my pocket before the party started so that I would be sure and take pictures but didn't remember to do it hardly at all until most people had left.
Oh well, we don't run an immaculately clean house but I don't think anybody cared and we had a great time even with the little bloopers.

  Have you ever hosted an open house? Was it fun or stressful? I do know that just mentally and in prayer giving everything over to God sure helped in my outlook of the whole thing. 

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