- Spending time with my sister, Carla, and her children (Isabelle, age 4; Wade and Will, age 15 months) and sister, Sheila, and her children (Silas, age 2; Nathan, age 8 months). It was wonderful to be with them, to see how they have grown in their parenting (and patience) and to remember back when we traveled with infants (I hope I was able to pass on some empathy when they got stressed!)
- Having family friends drive in to spend an afternoon with us - Jack and Verna Ouverson, Wally MacIntyre, and Cletus Bouska.
- An afternoon spent with my Grandma and Grandpa Conklin (both in the 80s!), Aunt Pat and Uncle Kent (who now live near Grandma and Grandpa), Aunt Jill and cousin Tyler (who drove in from Sheffield, Iowa), and Aunt Sue (who drove in from Chicago to spend a few days experiencing the joy-filled chaos!) Being with my mom's parents and all her sisters makes me feel a little closer to her....and seeing my kids being talked to and played with by them warms my heart.
- Attending Fredericksburg Dairy Days; Tuesday night, half price rides - and me letting Evan try the "Zipper", which we had to stop mid-ride due to safety reasons and Wednesday - two parades...one in the morning and one in the evening. The morning parade we enjoyed with Grandma and Grandpa and all the Aunts and the evening one we enjoyed with Dad and Mary. Two parades equal A LOT of candy in the treat bags!
- Enjoying a BBQ with a family friend, Jill Kaeppel, and her family....catching up and watching all of our kids play together.
- Taking my kids to Gouldsburg, the park my family camped at every summer when I was growing up. I was able to share some of my growing up memories, showing the kids how the Little Turkey River (which runs right through the park) has re-routed due to flooding, and teaching them how to use the "circle" swing at the playground.
- Attending a brunch in which I got to catch up with lots of family friends I hadn't seen for a long time.
- Spending an entire Sunday with my best friend forever, Kasey (we've been friends since 7th grade). Attending their church with their family, going to a one-day VBS, then attending an afternoon potluck and bible study. It was really nice to get to peek into their life and meet some of their friends. Kasey and I have not lived near each other since graduating High School, but our lives have paralleled and even though we might go months without talking, we always pick right up where we left off.
Those are the highlights that I can think of right now. I'm sure when I start going through the pictures, more will come to mind. It has been such a special trip, spending quality time with relatives and friends that we only see once or twice a year. And, of course, having my Dad and Mary spend lots of time with my kids.......grandparent time they don't often get.
Today, we head back to Kasey's house for the afternoon; tomorrow back to Grandpa and Grandma Conklin's for lunch; Thursday we will drive to Chicago (stopping mid-way to have lunch with my sister, Carla); Friday, a rest day spent in Chicago; and Saturday making the long trek back to Pennsylvania. I am ready to get everyone on some sort of summer routine, but I thank God for the time we have had in Iowa and all of the time we have gotten to spend with people that we love.