Part 2: Wisconsin

We stayed in Wisconsin at my parents’ house (most of that time they were off gallivanting with my sister and her family in Europe, so you won’t see many pictures of any of them) for the next two and a half weeks.  Part of that time Mike was in Minneapolis, but most of it he was also in Wisconsin working from home.  The highlights are too many to count on this portion of the trip, but I especially loved being near my brother and his family to spend every-day-life time with them.

We’ll start with pictures from the first few days while my parents were still in town:

Jen and J gave Ethan the birthday gift of going to Hamilton in Chicago with them.  He did a little preparing for it.  And then I drove down and babysat Salina while they went to the show.  We left the following morning after a little time with the family.  Ethan had a great time and now added two songs from the show to his playlist.

Meanwhile:

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We had a lot of FUN hang out time with the cousins (time at the house, walks, zoo, baseball game, lots of games, and bike races – “Go, Bikes, Go!!!”) :

And we did a few things on our own as a family, like golfing and biking (family met us at the beach after one such ride).  Micah and I also went on a hike on our own one day.  And we visited the lighthouse where Mike’s grandpa used to live and work:

I took the boys on a couple little excursions – Jelly Belly tour and Mars Cheese Castle – and also went on a number of bike rides:

We also really enjoyed getting to see our extended family.  We spent a day at Petrifying Springs with Uncle Brad, Aunt Sal, and cousin Luke (along with my brother’s family, of course!!).  It was fabulous!  Aunt Sal also came by another day to let Micah take Eli for a walk!

Each year we plan a trip with the Maurer clan and this summer was no different, except that they had just had their third sweet baby girl, so we opted for something a little easier.  We spent two days with them at my parents’ house, just soaking up time together and catching up.  It was really fun to see the kids connecting again!  Sadly, we forgot to take a whole group shot!!

We LOVED our time in Wisconsin!  So thankful that we got to spend so much time with the people that we love!

The Great Midwestern Tour: Pt 4 Wisconsin (the second time)

We were back in Wisconsin for Christmas Eve.  That night we pretended to be shepherds on the night that the angels came to tell them about the birth of Jesus.  We had a bonfire, roasted hotdogs/brats and ate meats, cheeses and figs.  Then we made s’mores! =).  It was so much fun to imagine what that night might have been like.

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The rest of that week was quite relaxing.  At first it was just the Cleve Crew and my parents, but by the following weekend, my siblings and their families were back in town.  We enjoyed “Narnia” at their church, ate lots of yummy food, and played lots of games.

Mike and I snuck away for our annual date with Cass and Adam, but we didn’t get a picture that evening.  The following day we got everyone together at the botanical gardens (that might not be the right name…) in Milwaukee.  Between the two of us, we snagged way too many cute pictures of Ethan and Hana together.  Their friendship is especially sweet!  It was great to be with them again!

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I’m going to have to split this post into two.  There are just too many cute pictures.  Next up – my siblings and their families are back in town!

6th Annual Trip

For our 6th annual trip with the Maurer family, we spent the weekend in Kansas City.  We are nearing (if we haven’t already reached it) the point when we will need to do some repeat locations, but this year was a new spot for us again.  We all enjoy spending time together and it’s been such a special treat to watch our children grow up together.

We usually spend a fair amount of time at the hotel just talking and playing.  We also all like parks and legos, so we fit in both of those activities this year.  A hike is often on all of our lists to do, but it was way too hot to spend much time outside that weekend.  We spent Friday night grabbing dinner out and playing at the hotel, Saturday out and about and Sunday back at the hotel before going our separate ways.

Here are some shots from around the hotel, including a few selfies the kids took (as requested) from their explorations around the hotel on their own.  Favorite memories include watching various plays of Piggie and Gerald books, watching all the kids try to catch the football with their elbows, sending messages/emojis/pictures with Ellie (mostly Mike and Ellie/Adam), and how sweet those girls are to my boys who want to show them their paint-by-sticker books and Legos.  Lots and lots of laughter!

Mute the video if you don’t want to hear my crazy loud laugh:

Pics from our dinners out:

Pics from the park, Legoland and the Sea Life Aquarium:

All too soon it was time to say goodbye.  The kids hugged too quickly, so we missed any cute pics of that…but I snapped a couple of Mikey saying goodbye to some of his favorite girls!  We parents left exhausted, having stayed up until midnight or WAY later both evenings we had together.  We sure enjoyed spending time with this crew again!

Quick throwback of our group from just last summer and a link to all the previous years:

 

Celebrating with Cass and Adam

Every year we go back to Wisconsin for Christmas we make sure to find time to spend with Cass and Adam and their family.  We usually do something with the whole family during the day and then we go on a double date that evening.  This year, the only shift in that plan was that Mike ended up being swamped with work and needed to opt out of the day date.  So, I took the boys to their home and we enjoyed a few hours of playing and eating dinner together.

The kids have a lovely friendship.  They played and played as if this was something they do all the time.  There was very little hesitancy this time around and it was such a treat for us to see their home and to play with their toys.

Later that evening, Mike joined us (after we got the kiddos in bed) and we enjoyed our annual double date.  This was our third year in a row going to the same restaurant/bar – why mess with something so fun??  We SO enjoy their company!

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Thanks for maintaining such a great friendship over the years, guys!  We are blessed by your friendship and look forward to many more years of meeting up for dinner and late-night laughing!

Minneapolis!

And now, here is the post about our long weekend trip with the Maurer family.

Friday

We met up with them in the afternoon on Friday.  Ethan wanted to surprise them, so he hid behind a pillar until they were close.  We spent some time playing at the hotel until Mike got there.  Then we went out for a yummy dinner walking distance from our hotel.  The kids never missed a beat – they began playing right away!

After dinner we headed to Minnehaha Falls.  We walked around a bit, made a little campsite and played at the park.

We read books together that evening before bed, as usual, and then the kiddos slept while the adults stayed up chatting late into the evening.

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Saturday

We began our day with breakfast at the hotel.

Then we headed out for a little hike at the wildlife refuge nearby.  It was a great spot and a really fun visitors center.  The kiddos (mostly the girls) did a little play for us during our hike.

After all of that fun, we had lunch at the Mall of America and spent the rest of the evening there.  The Maurer family had been before and had some favorite rides and great suggestions for us.  Our boys were a little more timid about rides, but they had an awesome time!  Milestone alert: the boys rode their first roller coasters (neither were big fans, but we were glad they gave it a go!).

We also played mini golf at the mall that evening and had dinner there.

The evening went much like the night before…stories and bed for the kids, stay up late for the adults.

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Sunday

Another yummy breakfast at the hotel to start our day.

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We spent a pretty chilly morning at Lake Calhoun playing frisbee, doing a little workout, building a cabin (AKA cabinet), and climbing trees.  A couple of us just sat and chatted, too. =)

After a late lunch at the Mall of America, we bowled a round (another milestone for our boys) before saying our goodbyes.