Ethan in Philadelphia

When each of their grandchildren turn ten, my parents hope to take them on a solo trip of their dreams.  Ethan is the first grandchild to get this privilege and he had a wonderful time!  He didn’t have to think for long about where he’d like to go with them; he opted for Philadelphia as soon as he learned about the trip.  He wanted to see the Liberty Bell, the Mint, Gettysburg, and Falling Waters.  He did all of that and more!  He and Grandpa kept journals for the trip, but pictures will tell the stories best on the blog.  He had a blast! =)

Here are some pictures from our brief morning in Wisconsin before heading back to home.

We are SO thankful that the boys have opportunities to see the world with people they adore.  Thanks, Mom and Dad, for taking Ethan on this trip of a lifetime!  He will cherish these memories always.

Jess in ATL

When Mike and I were chatting about summer plans, I was feeling overwhelmed at the many trips we wanted to cram into the three months.  He brilliantly came up with the plan to combine some of the trips.  So, while Mike and Micah enjoyed their one-on-one trip, I took Ethan to Milwaukee to meet up with my parents for their trip (more on that in a separate post) and I continued onward to Atlanta to help my sister at her trade show.

Jen and I had a great time together, as usual.  And I helped with the take down of the booth, without Jennie for the first time.

I spent my evenings catching up with my friends and seeing Ashley and the boys (since they live there now)!  That was a lovely treat!   I also managed to get in a couple FaceTime visits with the boys to see how their trips were going.

It was a great trip to Atlanta for me!

Mike & Micah’s One-on-One Trip

Not long after we returned home, it was time for each of us to head in different directions.  Ethan went on his 10-year-old-trip-with-grandpa-and-grandma to Philadelphia.  I traveled to Atlanta to help my sister at her trade show and got to see family and friends there, too.  Meanwhile, Mike and Micah had their one-on-one trip for the year.

They had one day at home before heading out:

They first flew down to Phoenix so that Micah could spend a day with Grandma Cleve.  Since Ethan and I were gone for such a long time, Mike wanted to make sure Micah had some extra fun, even though a one-on-one trip with him is typically only a long weekend.  Micah had developed an awful rash prior to the trip, but it sadly grew worse over time.  Apparently, though, he was not one to complain about it even though it looked pretty miserable.  He loved his special day with Grandma Cleve, particularly going mini-golfing in the dark!

The following morning, the guys grabbed breakfast with Grandma Cleve and Great Granny A and then were off on their adventure to San Diego.

Day 1 – traveling to San Diego and enjoying the hotel, cool car, and the beach:

Day 2 – Sea World

These two had a wonderful time together.  It was remarkable to me to see how much growth Micah experienced when comparing this trip to the one he took last year with Mike.  Such a difference a year can make!

Part 4: Missouri

Our final stop for our month-long trip was Missouri to visit Mike’s Dad.  We had a great time there, as usual, and especially loved getting to spend time with Mike’s brother for part of the time.

The boys loved the pool!  They rescued frogs/toads from it every morning and spent much of the day swimming.

They also loved shooting guns, playing ping pong, being with the dogs, and catching fireflies.

Overall, it was a very relaxing part of our vacation and we were so glad to get to spend time with Grandpa Russ again.

Part 3: Minnesota

Mike had a meeting in Minnesota early Tuesday morning, so I opted to stay in Wisconsin for one more night and then drive solo with the boys the following day.  We had an uneventful trip and finished another book or two.

We spent under a week in Minnesota.  The main attraction was to see the wedding of Mike’s friend and co-worker on Saturday.  One day, per the boys’ request, we explored the skyways.  This included going to the library and participating in their reading challenges. We also spent some time at the pool and visiting Daddio’s work.  Another day, we had the chance to go for a bike ride around one of the beautiful lakes there.  A pending storm really ruined the atmosphere for the boys who really didn’t like the idea of being caught in the rain.

On Saturday, we spent time exploring an outdoor art museum and then went to the wedding celebration.

We really enjoy Minneapolis so much.  Short, but oh so sweet.

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!

Part 1: Michigan

We spent the majority of June on the road visiting various midwest favorites: Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Missouri.  We started by driving to Michigan for my cousins’ wedding.

We’ve found our rhythm for road trips: I drive and listen to audiobooks with the boys (finished Penderwicks in Spring and Hatchet on this portion), while Mike works (and apparently sometimes naps when his schedule allows).  He does all the directions, getting gas, and deciding on food.  It works well!

We arrived in Michigan before the rest of the family, so we enjoyed a quiet evening with my grandpa which was definitely a highlight for me.  I’m not sure I’ve ever had hours of chatting with only him like that.  Such a gift.  This was Ethan’s last night as a 9 year old, so I took some pictures of our evening.  The boys are still working towards their goal of reading aloud for ten minutes for 275 days of the year (I think that’s the goal…I should have written it down somewhere!!).

The following day we celebrated Ethan’s birthday a bit and went to the wedding.  I have a few favorite memories from that day: Eddie dancing with Ger at dinner, Abe and Ivan crushing the dance floor with their moves, and Ivan calling Aunt Dawn a princess when he saw her waiting to greet us, Salina giving kisses to Micah, all the boys teasing Uncle Brad, etc. etc. It was a fun day!

The following day we went to church and then had a picnic in the park.

After the fun, we drove to Wisconsin for the next part of our trip.  Michigan was short, but very sweet!