Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Visiting My Family: Rides, Fire Truck Birthday, Country Fair and more

*Oops, this post has been in my drafts for almost a month now.  I can't believe I didn't post it.  Better late than never!

We had a great time visiting my family in July/August (I know the post is a little over due).  We always pack a lot in to our family time and this trip was no exception.  We all had a great time and took many photos and made many memories.  This post is going to be long with MANY photos.  There is also a little tangent early on about my grandpa.  Enjoy!

Day 1 (7/30/14): 

We had excellent driving conditions.  We had no rain, no traffic, no construction, lots of snacks, movies, and happy kids.  I checked out a couple of movies from the library.  There was a farming movie that was highly educational, but fascinating for the kids so that kept them entertained for a bit of time. 

We were planning to stop at my grandparents on the way to my parents new home.  We were not too far into our journey when I got the idea to stop and pick up some communion supplies.  My mom had told me that my grandparent’s church had a temporary pastor as they wait for another pastor.  Because of this, they didn’t really know the pastor so I knew it had been a while since they had done communion.  I know that communion is a special thing that those who are unable to go to church really miss. 

We stopped at Trader Joe’s to get some supplies and continued on to the farm.  We had a lovely visit at the farm.  My grandparents were very excited to do communion with Brandon.  It was such a special and sweet time.  It was my grandpa’s last communion.  We were able to pose for some pictures and Mikias was able to go on a tractor ride with my Uncle Eric.  

T: It is so fun to be at the farm with Great Grandma!

M: Yes, that really is me in the tractor!

M: Maybe I just asked Eric if I could drive and he did this.

Playing with Eric is so much fun!
Oh my children... I promise you this is the best picture of them!
My last picture with my wonderful Grandpa!
--- tangent here---
It was very emotional to say goodbye and to know that it was mostly likely the last time I would see my grandpa alive.  He died just a few weeks later.  He was a wonderful man.  He loved to learn and was photographed with a newspaper on his lap less than 24 hours before he died. His sharp mind and his love for learning stayed with him until his final breath.  He was able to die in my grandma’s arms in the very home he was born in 88 years ago.  He traveled the world and still felt he lived in one of the most beautiful places.  His stories and life adventures are probably the best of anyone I have ever known.  His legacy will continue in his children, and grandchildren, and great grandchildren.  We were able to return to attend the funeral.  Brandon was honored to give the funeral message and we were able to spend a few days at my aunt and uncle’s house.  It was a sad time of loss, but a beautiful time with family and reflecting on my grandpa. 

---end tangent---

On the road after my grandparent’s house we were in new territory.  We were on our way to my parents new home.  It felt very strange to be relying on GPS to take me to my parent’s home.  We made it safely and before dark. 

A few minutes after arriving Joanna and Baby A came over for a minute and I immediately celebrated the blessing it is for my parents to live in the same community as my Brother and his family. 

Once we got unpacked we ate dinner and even pie since it was my Birthday.  The kids enjoyed exploring the house and finding where all the toys were stashed.  It was very late when we went to sleep. 

Day 2 (7/31/14): 

M was up early and eager to get lawn mower rides from Grandpa Daryl.  He was also very excited to ride in the “Bobcad.”  

Why waste time sleeping when there are toys to be played with?
M: I was so excited to ride in (and drive) the "Bobcad."

M: That's right, Grandpa Daryl's hands are up and I am driving!

M: Look at how high the bucket can go!

Once T got up and ready we headed over to my Grandma’s for some play time and lunch.  She lives a bit closer to their new home. We were so thankful Joanna and A could join us for lunch along with some of Grandma’s dear friends.  It was a very fun morning/lunchtime.  Grandma has a yard Gator that the kids loved to ride in. Many trips were made around the property and even down the gravel road.  T loved playing with a baby buggy that I played with when I was little.  

M: Sit back and relax.  I am a great driver!

Love those two!

T: Yay!  I go on Gator too!

M: I will take care of T in the back.  T: Yes, Kias take care of me.
M: See my arm around her?  She was really safe.

T: OK Baby, you want to go for a ride Baby?

M: A is soooo cute!
No trip to my Grandma's would be complete without a ride in Grandpa's chair. 
M: Hold on T! 

Adorable Cousins!!!

Grandma with her "Greats"

The best shot of the kids with my parents.

I love this one, it show both my parents engaging with their grand kids and trying to get them to pose for a picture.  This unintended pose is priceless.

T: I found some stickers in my coloring book on the way back to Grandma and Grandpa's house. 
We arrived back at my parents late so naps were very late, but they did happen.   After nap my dad gave the kids more lawnmower rides. Actually, maybe M was giving him a lawn mower ride haha.

M: Move out of the way, lawnmower coming through.

T: I riding on the tractor. 
Then Grandpa Daryl rigged up a sled to the back of the lawnmower for rides around the yard.  The kids really enjoyed it.  It was fun until the weight of a daddy broke the rope.  I am so thankful it was him in the sled when that happened and not me. 

Watch out for the tree!

I was a little unsure of my driver, but it looks like he had it under control.  T: I like to touch grass with my hand!

M: How's it going back there girls? 

Taking Daddy up the big  hill!

M was thrilled to hear that Uncle Bret was willing to come over for a while after a late dinner to ride on the 3wheeler with him.  M loved driving it and Bret even let him be in charge of the gas.  They went fast and I was so thankful when they were done, but oh did they have fun during the rides.  My parents live right across the street from a cemetery.  This allows for some great riding trails and endless jokes about the quiet neighbors. 

T: Look guys, I have a 3 wheeler too!

My beautiful free spirited, bare footed, laughing and smiling girl.
M: So I was a little bit excited!
M: Let's go faster Uncle Bret!

Day 3 (8/1/14): 

We had a great adventure this morning.  We were able to attend an area county fair with my parents and Joanna and A.  It wasn’t technically the county that my parents live in, but the fair was less than 30 minutes away so it was the perfect opportunity for us to enjoy the fair.  Our home county fair was the exact dates we were with my family so the opportunity to go to a fair was thrilled for everyone. 

Because it was “Senior Day” at the fair my dad was able to get a free Ferris wheel ride.  He took M with him, but the Ferris wheel operator stopped when they reached the top and asked if T and I wanted to ride too to even out the weight.  We said sure.  It was my first time on a Ferris wheel and I surely didn’t love it, but it was special to do with my kids.  I am the girl who gets motion sick on a porch swing. Sigh…

M: I was a little nervous, but Grandpa sat right next to me. 

M: We went way up in the sky!

T: I was nervous to ride.  I think mommy was too, but she was faking a smile for me.

M: We really rode on this!

After the Ferris Wheel we spotted a military display. There were soldiers there and even a Humvee.  The kids loved checking every thing out.
M: Do I look really military in this helmet?

M: How does that feel T?

M: Hey, where are the keys?

T: M, I think I might be able to get this started... let me work with a few wires...

After the tour of the Humvee we looked at all of the animals.  We got to pet many of them.  We got to watch some cow judging and even some girls riding horses around barrels etc.  It was really fun to watch.  
T: Nice bird, can I pet it?  M: No T, just look.

M: These chickens are loud.  T: I really want to pet them.

M: Hi there cow.  T:  Can I pet it?

T: Hi cow, nice cow.  M: OK, I guess I will try it too.

T: Horse said "NAY" way too loud. 

We then hit up all the info booths and the kids scored some free candy.  They charmed everyone and got a huge kick out of a "fake deer" that was perfect for petting and kissing. 

T: I wuv you deer.

Finally it was time for the rest of the rides to open and we told the kids they could each pick one ride.  They chose the fire truck.  They went together and had a great time. 

T: Yahoo!!!!!  M: I am really driving this fire truck!


The kids took good naps after their morning at the fair.  We had a pretty low key evening which is just what my kids needed.  They went to bed at their normal time, which was a big blessing.

 My mom and worked on the first fire truck cake for M’s party.  We didn’t realize that the cake mix was only enough for an 8x8 pan and we ended up declaring it only a partial success. 

Day 4 (8/2/14): 

M was up early to go fishing for his first real fishing experience with grandma and grandpa.  He was very excited and so were they.  My dad even talked to a local DNR person (OK, I don’t actually know the person’s title) to find out where the little sunfish would be biting in the area.  M had a blast and somehow a tangled line meant my dad had to get in the water.  Oh dear.

M: Check out my first fish!!

M: I caught another one!

M:  Oops, caught something that wasn't a fish... Grandpa Daryl to the rescue!

While the crew was fishing, Brandon was biking, T was sleeping, and I was attempting another fire truck cake.  This cake was too full (I used two mixes) so we had to shave some off the top for a re-bake.  The whole cake baking process was quite an adventure. Baking gluten/dairy free cakes is not as easy as a good old flour cake mix.

Later that morning we drove to a wildlife park area to play and look for deer.  We didn’t spot any deer, but found a fun place to play.  We then drove a bit farther and found another park to explore.  We saw a lovely fountain and many ducks. It is fun to check out new places in this new community.  It is such a lovely place. 

M: I was really focusing here.

T: Hi Duck!  M: Look at all the baby ducks.

While the kids were napping the grown ups were preparing for M’s party later that day. We were cooking food, decorating cakes, and decorating in general.  M only slept about 30 minutes because he was so excited for his party. 

Grandma Kathy, decorating queen!

M's creation during cake decorating!

Finally it was party time.  First there was a little play inside...
So sweet and so excited!

M: Mom, she is soo cute!

3 riders at a time!
Then we took the party outdoors for some bubbles and 3 wheeling.  Meanwhile my amazing mom is inside cooking a feast. 
T: Thanks for helping me Joanna. 

M: Hey Bret, can we do this all day?

T: No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't dump out all the bubble stuff.  Mom said it was brilliant.
Back inside for PRESENTS!!!!  T was not sure about not having her own stack of presents to open.
M: Yes, A Fire Truck!  I love fire trucks!!!
New military clothes!

So proud of looking just like Jamie :)

This photo strikes me because I am guessing every Marine mom views her child looking like this in their uniform even it their children are actually much older than 5.  

M: Yes!  I really really wanted this!

M: I can't believe I have a real fire truck cake!

M: I love hearing everyone sing to me!

M: Candles out... time to eat!

M: Yum!  T:  This is good, but where did the chicken go?

T could not stop eating the chicken.  She ate more than any other person (including adults).  We were all done with dinner and dessert and she was still eating.  Logically we just transported her to the front yard so she could keep eating and watch all the action. Eventually she was down and playing. 

T: Grandma's chicken is the best!

Such a grown up pose on my baby girl.

More three wheeler rides!

It was such a lovely evening to be outside enjoying the large area to play and run.  We were able to take some family photos as well.  Uncle Bret even gave the kids a huge thrill by throwing them SO HIGH in the air.  Finally it was time to say goodbye and go to bed.  

M: Uncle Bret threw me up so high.  You can't even see the top of my body!

T: Higher Uncle Bret!

M: Mom, am I actually flying?

My little runners!

Such a sweet photo!
One more, look at Baby A's smile!
My kids highjacked Bret's family photo.

Our family with Grandpa Daryl and Grandma Kathy.

Day 5 (8/3/14):

M and Grandma and Grandpa got in one last fishing adventure while Brandon and I loaded the van.  By the time T woke up were nearing our departure time.  The kids did great on the way home.  M got an early Birthday present from us that really helped with the drive, a new Daniel Tiger DVD.   The kids were thrilled to be home.  It was wonderful to be home early enough to make a nice dinner and to relax a bit before bedtime.