*Note: Before I tell you about the weekend I want to let you know that this is a LONG post and photo overload as well. I am pretty sure it will take my entire blog page so you will need to click on "older posts" to catch up on the posting spree I have been on lately.
Day 1: 7/2/14 (Wednesday)
We were sort of dreading another long car ride after the CO trip, but it actually went so much better than we expected. Stops were not awesome on the way, but neither did they leave me in tears or deep anger so I will take it. The state we spend the most time in raised the speed limit in 2014 and it actually helped to shave 30+ minutes off of our trip. We can now make it to Brandon's parents home in about 6 driving hours. Stops add much time, but knowing we could make it there in 6 hours if we really needed to is very comforting. We stopped twice on the way, once for lunch, and once because a smell from T's seat beckoned our attention. So glad there was an exit right after the smell appeared because we ended up throwing away the pants at the stop. This is not normally something I would ever do, but they were that bad and we didn't really want to drive with that smell :)
We arrived 7.5 hours after leaving which felt great since we had one long and one longish stop. The kids were so excited to be at Grandma and Grandpa's. M especially wanted to do every single thing he loves to do at their house in the first hour there. He was running from one thing to the next like a wild man and T was right behind him. It was so sweet to watch. We had tasty grilled food and tried to convince the kids to want to sleep which was hard since M truly wanted to get it all (like everything) in before bed. Grandma and Grandpa got a new swing set so besides all he had previously done other things had to be added too. A HUGE change for M and T this visit is that they both really really really love Maggie the dog. Wow! She is so smelly (seriously she is a great dog but has some sort of oil issue that causes her to smell bad) but that doesn't stop M from kissing her and hugging her and loving on her.
Day 2: 7/3/14 (Thursday)
The day started pretty slow paced, but good, M had time with Grandpa Tom and I got to sleep in, wake up slowly, and have a great prayer and Bible time. The sun was out and the temps were rising. It was beautiful. We were all excited for our afternoon at the lake. We managed an early lunch and put the kids down for an early nap. We were out at the lake by mid afternoon and the weather was lovely.
First we spent some time playing at the beach. Then we got on the boat and M got to drive. Our whole family plus Brandon's cousins T and T joined us. Just the 12 of us on the boat! It was pretty packed, but the 4 cousins combined weigh about 100lbs so we were good. There was much tubing and skiing. T was so thrilled when the boat first started. Truly giddy! Both kids loved watching people in the tubes and skies, so much so that they decided to try it. The ride was very very short as T got some water on her face and she was DONE! She was quickly happy again once eating snacks in the boat. We also stopped for a while to just play in the water. M did great and sat in his own tube and even just hung out next to a tube. We were proud and a little shocked. He loves being around big boys so he was in his glory with T and T.
|T: This is fun, but these arm things keep sliding down!|
|M: I would rather explore the boat than swim at the beach!|
|M: Let's go faster and honk the horn!|
|T: Weeeeeee!!!! I love this speed!|
|M: My "cousin" (really Brandon's cousin) T is so fun!|
|T: It was all really fun until we started moving!|
|M: I decided that T could go with Big T so I could go with Daddy.|
|Proof that both of my kids were pulled in tubes :) Still having fun at this point!|
|B, T, and T, trying so hard to knock each other off.|
|M: I was just hanging out in the water. It was so refreshing.|
|Such a sweet girl!|
|M: I liked playing in the tube when we were not moving the best.|
|The kids were all totally being hilarious until the cameras came out and they just stared at each other.|
After the lake we headed home for grilled food and very very weary children who were staying up way late. Lots of tears and essential oils and bilateral stimulation and prayers and we survived :) Can't really blame them, a long day in the sun is hard work. They fell asleep very quickly!!!
|Grandma and the girls.|
|M: Keep reading T! T: I am pretty tired. Big A: I can barely keep my eyes open. Little A: Watching this spinner is so soothing.|
Day 3: 7/4/14 (Friday)
Happy Birthday America! I totally blanked on the whole packing red, white, and blue thing... what was I thinking? Oh well. M slept in until almost 7:00 which is a big victory! He then got up for some special time with Grandpa Tom. They discovered M's new favorite thing, riding the riding lawn mower for a LONG time! M even steers and does great. Such a sweet thing to see him with Tom. They have such a special bond. M even let T in on some of the riding action when they came up to show us M's driving skills.
|M: Yahoo I am a lawn mower man!|
|M: I am driving all by myself!|
|M: Are you all impressed?|
|T: This is going to be loud (notice she is covering both sides haha) M: Oh, maybe? I have not covered my ears for the last hour, but now that you suggested it, I guess it is loud.|
|T: Wow! Loving the power! M: She is wild!|
|Better than an amusement park!|
|The last photo before T had to get off to get dressed. You can tell what T and M think about this news!|
Once we were all ready we headed down to Adrienne and Chris' new home which is just below Tom and Judy's. It was so fun to see the reality of all that we have talked about and tried to imagine in our heads for months (or really years). It is looking wonderful, though there are still several weeks to go before the home will be ready for move in. An unfinished home was the recipe for an indoor baseball game. M has so much fun with T and T. Two big boys who love sports. I am pretty sure he wishes they would move to our town... or maybe our house. T loves the boys too. She was so tired that morning she was falling asleep on anyone that would hold her. Speaking of people holding her, it is incredible to be surrounded by adults like Brandon's aunts who are super with children and willing to hold and play with our kids. The kids had a blast playing on a rock pile and exploring in A and A's future backyard.
|T: "Tired " is my sidekick!|
|T: Good Girl Maggie (note she has already lost "tired" )|
|M: Maggie is a great dog!|
|Indoor ball game!|
|My Sweet T loving Big T! She almost fell asleep in his arms!|
|T: "Huggie, Kiss" Big T: I guess.|
|Pretty Laides! My sweet T with T and T's mom!|
|M on a rock pile/area.|
|The boys checking things out.|
|M: I am ready to be done now. Will you carry me T?|
|M and Little A: OK everyone open your mouth really big! T: Look down there, a rock. Big A: No thanks I am cool!|
|T: Oh, OK we are supposed to open are mouths really big? Little A: Yes, just like that. Big A: wow T I see that rock you spotted earlier. M: I found a cool rock to throw.|
We headed home for lunch and naps. The kids were so excited to go "to the farm" after nap that it was hard to settle down, but we managed. During naps Brandon and I had our teeth cleanings and check-ups and we both had healthy teeth with no cavities! Yay!
|M: I will nap as soon as I test out this amazing tower oh... 17 more times. OK?|
After nap we went to the farm and had a lovely afternoon and evening. We talked to the cows and T insisted on dragging a little chair all the way to the fence to sit and watch them. Then she needed another chair for Teddy and "tired" (the name of her beloved tag blanket) and she needed to get everything just right. She did it all on her own, and it took her several minutes. By the time she was actually sitting down the cows moved to a different part of the pasture and she could barely see them from her chair. A group of us was sure enjoying her set up process and we got a lot of great photos.
|T: Tired and Teddy need a chair too!|
|T: I need to get "tired" on there just right.|
|T: What a relaxing place to watch the cows!|
|My little barefooted farm girl!|
|Makes me smile so much!|
M organized (with the help of Grandma Judy) a parade. In the end only T and T marched with him, but they were wearing hats with flags and playing instruments and M was humming God Bless America. We all were clapping and smiling and at the end of their parade route M was glowing!
|Family lining the parade route!|
|"God Bless America"|
|M: One more loop guys!|
Meanwhile, T was eager to join the parade but got sidetracked by Uncle Curt's dog Hercules. Luckily others followed her and got some wonderful photos.
|Little A: Hey T, want to come be in a parade!|
|T: Waaay (wait) Pa-ay Ta-he-ya!|
|T's special spot.|
|T: Actually, this good looks more fun than a parade. I am a bit aggressive with dogs, but I think Hercules can handle me!|
|T: Yep, perfect dog for me! I ride on his back and he just smiles!|
|T: Cozy! I could take a nap here.|
After the parade Uncle Curt began giving lawn mower rides. M was in his glory since he has a new found love for lawn mower rides. We have so many photos of lawn mower rides. They happened throughout the evening with various people driving and riding, part one was before dinner.
|M: Hey Uncle Curtis, can we do this all day?|
|My farm boy!|
|Hauling precious cargo!|
|T: Just relaxing and enjoying the ride with T.|
|Big A's turn to drive!|
|The riders keep changing!|
The fun continued when we roasted hotdogs on the fire. My kids love hotdogs, chips, and watermelon so all was good. We are not sure who invited the flies, but we are guessing it was the cows.
|Enjoying our afternoon while our children and cared for by a lawn mower and trailer! :)|
|T: Having these big boys around is great!|
|Big and Little A hard at work! All the grands played the part of farm kids very well today!|
|A whole group of T's hanging out and laughing. T: I just put my foot on my plate and they laugh. This is great. I can do this all night.|
After dinner (I think it was after dinner, sorry if it was before and I am confused) we decided it was time to launch the rockets. Each of Tom and Judy's grands got a chance to launch so there were 4 rockets. It was so much fun to see how excited the kids were, though they had little concept of how fragile the rockets can be.
|We are ready to watch the rockets! Check out Sweet T and Big T looking at each other!|
|M: I am so excited I could burst!|
|Closer view of excited boy!|
|4, 3, 2, 1, Ignition, Blastoff!!!!!!!|
|It is WAY up there!!! I love this photo. We are a very captive audience!|
|T: My turn!!!!!|
|T: I am so ready to push the button!|
|T: Blast Off!!!|
|T: I guess my rocket is up in the sky... but I really just want to keep pushing the button!|
After rockets the kids were ready for fireworks, but we still had a lot of daylight left. The lawnmower rides continued followed by a baseball game. At first M was not interested in playing, but eventually he got into it and enjoyed himself quite a bit. T was watching the game but was mainly focused on spilling and breaking Solo cups so Uncle Curt had to hook her up.
|M: Daddy's cousin B is so funny!|
|M: Then we asked A to join us!|
|M: Then Daddy's uncle BJ joined us too.|
|M: Then A drove and I just relaxed in the back. (Such a sweet and peaceful photo)|
|T: I don't know if I have time for sports... there is so much to see and explore.|
|T: Uncle Curt found me a cow glass that Daddy used to use!|
FINALLY it was dark enough for the fireworks. It was LATE and the kids were so tired, but we stayed and watched and T was in awe of the colors and sparkles. Growing up in a state where fireworks were illegal and having a heavy dose of fire fear as a kid made me extra leery. We quickly realized we were sitting in the path of the embers. When we (everyone, not just paranoid Shelly) switched sides we (this time it was just our immediate family) moved way back so they were not right on top of us. I have to say it was a very impressive display for a home fireworks show.
|M: My ears are ready. T: Oh I am so excited!|
|The face of delight!|
Day 4: 7/5/14
The kids had a major sleep in this morning with M getting up at 8:15 and T at 9:25. It was so good that they were able to sleep in some. They needed it. Brandon and Tom left early in the morning to see Brandon's grandma who lives in a nursing home about 2.5 hours away. Grandma Pat was having a good day and they enjoyed their time together. Brandon got home right at nap time so the timing worked out perfectly.
|Brandon with Grandma Pat|
|Special photo with Grandma Pat.|
While Brandon was gone, two of Brandon's Aunts and his Great Aunt came for the morning along with cousins A and A. All of the kids were a bit weary from many days of little sleep and being out of routine so it was quite an interesting morning. I stayed home with T while the aunts took the other 3 kids on a big hike. T and I played with the doll house and a sticker book and had such a sweet time together. The hikers had quite an adventure. They found a rock to surf on, other treasures that Big A wanted to keep, and had a scary incident with the dog. Poor Maggie leaned a bit to far over a steep drop off and fell about 10 feet into a creek and couldn't figure out how to get out. Once the hiking crew came home Judy had to go search for her. Eventually Judy and a very weary Maggie came home.
|We are so good at surfing!|
We decided to play in the sandbox/ swing set and sometime in there the kids painted as well. Eventually it was time to get cleaned up and eat lunch. After lunch everyone left and the kids napped and it was quite peaceful.
|T: "No hap Ta-he-yah do it" then "did it!"|
|Hard at work. We tried to position the kids in the corners.|
|M: I have my eyes on that spinner thing... when will A's turn be over?|
|My little Flapper Girl. Listening to Big Band and dancing with Brandon's Aunts. She can pull off a 20's look so easily!|
After nap we went into town to visit Brandon's other grandma. We took Judy with us to help with the kids because they are not able to sit and chat as long as adults and needed to get some energy out. M actually really learned to skip while we were chatting and enjoying skipping down the halls in the nursing home. T went to a door and peeked in and yelled, "Sleep? (pause) Sleep? (pause) Dead?" Luckily the person must have moved and was not in fact dead. She then said something to the person and kept walking... oh dear...
|Very impressive smiley photo with Grandma R|
After our visit we headed home and got ready for the annual family photo session. The kids looks SO CUTE in their matching outfits. Just darling! Many of the photos turned out great, but if you are on Tom and Judy's Christmas card list they will look much better than the photos below. Adrienne is amazing at photo editing and moves around heads and bodies etc to create the perfect family shot. I marvel at her work and patience and the beautiful finished product. I also treasure the cuteness of the not so perfect photos I will post here. We decided last minute to take a photo of all the grands with Tom and Judy. We had no idea they would actually look at the camera and do so well. If we had known that we might have posed them closer together and not just on folding chairs in a row, but I am just so impressed that they stayed and looked and smiled. I guess they really are getting older.
|This photo so perfectly shows the difference between parents and grandparent. Tom and Judy are calmly rocking this photo... the rest of us are a bit busy :)|
|A pretty good photo, but without the flash it won't make the final cut.|
|Every person is looking at the camera and most are smiling.... VICTORY!|
|New pose and busy little girls wandering eyes from Brandon, but a very decent photo of the rest of us.|
|Not the best of M and me, but the rest of the crew is looking good!|
|Very quick shot of the four of us at the end... because we never seem to have family photos.|
When the photos were done the kids played and we prepped the annual steak dinner. It is one of may favorite meals of the year. The food was so good and our time together as just the 10 of us is so special. It is such a busy time when we are there, busy with really wonderful things, but quite busy. A family night really allows us to connect and talk as a family. It was another late night for the kids.
|Dads and kids. Sweet photo!|
|A and A found some fun ways to wear party hats!|
Day 5: 7/6/14
M got up early for one last lawn mower riding adventure. Brandon and I got up with him, got ready and packing almost done by the time he and grandpa came home. When T woke up Grandma Judy took her to play with the doll house. It was so sweet to hear them playing. M had to give one last round of treats to Maggie. M got emotional saying goodbye to Maggie. He was quite sad about leaving everyone there, but we think he directed it all to Maggie. He was crying with tears rolling down his face as he hugged her stinky body. (I know some of you are going to comment that we should get a dog... comment away, but at least right now, the answer is a firm no. For our sanity and very truthfully for the dog's safety.) We were on the road right about 10:00 and we made it home before 5:00 with a stop for lunch. The kids did better than average at the stop. We were able to run quite a bit with them which I think helps a lot. We only had to make one stop. Both kids napped for an hour at the same time which was lovely too.
|M: You are such a good girl Maggie!|
|M: I will miss you so much girl!|
|Grandma/Granddaughter playing house.|
Such a special and packed long weekend with family! If you read this entire thing I am impressed. Most likely if you are reading this line I am related to you. We are so blessed to have such a wonderful family!