Racine, WI

After our weekend in northwestern Wisconsin, Mike stayed there to work for the week and I drove the six-ish hours back to Racine to soak up some more time with the family. (On Friday, we drove to Omaha where we picked up Mike from the airport. The following day we drove home.) Our time in Racine was very laid back. Highlights at the house included building towers, playing the piano, Micah riding a motorcycle and the one-wheeler, dance parties galore, baking bread with Grandma, a tornado warning in the middle of the night, and playing ukulele and various games.

The boys did some birding with Grandpa – a very big highlight. We took a number of adventures to find frogs and crawfish with the cousins – so much fun – and enjoyed a night at the bike races with the whole crew.

Our time together was very sweet. Visiting Wisconsin and spending time with this crew is so very life-giving!

Elkhart Lake, WI

The following day I drove the remaining six or so hours to Elkhart Lodge where we met up with the rest of our family for five days of vacationing together. Our time was very sweet. Each family took an evening to prepare a meal for the rest of the crew, which was a fun way to enjoy meals together. Many of the days we also enjoyed time with my Aunt Sal and Uncle Brad – a big treat for all! The pictures, as usual, tell the story.

We spent much of the time at the house together. Our time inside this beautiful home included playing lots of games, having dance parties, reading books, making music (thanks, Ger and Jason!), etc.

Our time outside included looking for grasshoppers and toads, slip and slide, big beach balls, s’mores, bocce, one-wheeling, scootering, biking, etc. Ethan also enjoyed some outings to find birds with Grandpa (and then loved editing pictures together).

Photo credit for the following pictures belongs to Micah (except, obviously, the one I took of him taking pictures). He was trying to capture pictures of everyone at the house, but lost steam when he would have needed to go indoors to snag a few more. He got some pretty sweet ones.

We snapped some twinning pictures, as well. The one with the kids in their Christmas jammies is a Christmas tradition that we missed this year. Sadly, Salina already grew out of her matching pair so we had to settle for a boys only pic!

We also went on an outing to a farm museum type place. Very fun! It actually wasn’t even open the day we went, but they saw us in the parking lot trying to come up with our new plan and they let us in!

So many memories were made on this trip. It was SO good to be back together again. Such a gift to have so much quality time together.

Photo credit for most of these pictures belongs to my Dad. I snapped a few shots here and there, but the bulk of these pictures are his. Thanks, Dad!

a short, but sweet visit

My brother and his darling family road tripped out to California for Lauren’s sister’s backyard wedding and we were able to host them for a couple of days before they finished their trek back home. It was such a delight! We loved having them around and soaked up time together (games, nerf wars, LEGO, etc.). I will not forget the long hugs or the bouncing-with-joy that greeted me when we *finally* saw them again. It was particularly emotional because they hit two deer (or were hit by two deer…the details are fuzzy) on their drive to see us and we all knew things could have turned out much worse than dents and a missing side mirror!

They were with us for Independence Day so we all enjoyed an outdoor picnic at Aunt Mel and Uncle Joel’s – a fantastic tradition that we missed last year – followed by a walk on the golf course for some fireworks and sprinkler drama (will we get soaked? will we not?).

We loved having their crew in town and are excited to spend more time with them in Wisconsin soon!

A New Year

Before I post a couple of pictures from our New Year’s celebrations, I thought I’d put in a few of pictures taken from the other side of our Zoom gatherings with the fam.

On New Year’s Eve, we stayed up (thanks for Micah for keeping us awake!) until midnight when we all toasted the new year with sparkling cider. We had crepes for dinner, as we often do, and spent the rest of the evening playing games and reading books. Mike had set a goal for us to finish all of The Chronicles of Narnia books during 2020/covid, so we had a few chapters to finish in order to check that one off our “list”. I finished the puzzle Ethan had made for us for Christmas. It was VERY hard! And I set some reading challenges for myself for the year.

On New Year’s Day, we had a virtual murder mystery activity with the fam. LOTS of fun! It is something that has been on my bucket list, so that was extra fun for me! Still can’t believe Uncle Jason was the murderer or that all three guys in my fam guessed it correctly!

Thankful for 2020 and all the ways we’ve grown through it and excited for the new year!

Wrapping up December

I listened to a lovely book recently that talked about the belief when World War I began that it would “be done by Christmas” and realized that I had held that belief about Covid, too. World War I wasn’t done by that first Christmas, or by the next one. And Covid isn’t done either. So, our Christmas this year looked very different than it has every other year. As I was reflecting on the sadness I felt to be far from my family for the first time in 8 years over Christmas (we didn’t travel when Micah was first born), a dear friend of mine pointed out the blessing I have in my family. I had told her that I was accustomed to being so rejuvenated over the holidays because of all of my time with them and I wasn’t experiencing it this year. I am still feeling fatigued and in need of rejuvenation. God has blessed me a lot through them – what a gift that I didn’t even fully realize I had! It’s good to take stock and count those blessings, even the ones that seem so obvious. I always knew I had fun over the holidays, but I didn’t realize how much that time prepared me for the next months of life, too.

Anyway, enough musings. We really did have a lovely Christmas season! So many beautiful memories were made! I’ll start with some fun, non-Advent/Christmas-related pictures:

The first is a little snapshot that I took for my bro – he and I used to snag the very best cookies (similar to these, although green) when our family got our box of cookies from family friends each year. I decided to make them with the leftover cornflakes from the sweet potato casserole. Great plan! We also attempted to see the “Christmas Star” of Jupiter and Saturn – awesome experience! Thanks, Grandma Cleve, for reminding me about this!! Much of our day is filled with listening to books and… the ‘and’ is followed by LEGO, coins, marble run, drawing, etc. Micah chose to do some painting one day. We played a few games another night.

Some Advent activities leading up to Christmas day included a “choose your favorite and re-do it” event which was a great hit. The boys chose to have another sleepover and watch a Christmas movie. We also had our Christmas Recital – thank you to all of our audience members who made it SO much fun! Mike started us off with a little portion of a Coldplay song which brought much merriment to all. And on Christmas Eve we zoomed with Grandma Cleve and then had our annual Shepherds meal where we eat by the fire and pretend to be shepherds on the night the angels came with the Good News of Jesus.

We had a very relaxing, but enjoyable Christmas Day. Each boy opened a present and then I set to work on a breakfast “feast”. Then we opened some more presents, including one that Mike included a scavenger hunt around the house in order to find for the boys (great fun!). We ate a late lunch of ham, tasty sides, and sparkling cider. We zoomed with Grandpa Russ and Uncle David and did a little recital for them. And then we played some more games and read books and just enjoyed the peace of the season. =)