Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hotel Vander Waal {June Guests}

We have now had 20 total days of summer vacation.  And we've had out of town guests for 10 of those days (+1 if you count the last day of school which was the day Grammy & Papa arrived and +2 if you count the day Grammy & Papa and then Justin & Mindy had to leave before 7am to make the 12 hour trek back home...and I am counting so we'll just go ahead and say 13 days of company!).

And it's been a.w.e.s.o.m.e.

First up, Grammy and Papa.  They arrived the evening of June 10 (the last day of school) and stayed with us until they headed back home early on Monday, June 15.  Prior to their arrival, I had a short laundry list of things I wanted to work on while they were here.  I try to be productive on projects that are hard to accomplish without extra hands here...their time to be with the kids allows me the leeway I need to get those things crossed off my list.  Namely, I wanted to get the downstairs bathroom (finally) painted and updated and I asked my dad if he would hang a ceiling fan in Ruby's room.  Well, the bathroom didn't get touched but that fan got hung.  I'm kicking myself now for not just getting that bathroom done but ambition and energy just wasn't there.  I guess the end of the school year wore me out!  But really, I want to spend time with my mom and dad just as much as my kids do - these short but precious visits shouldn't be spent working.

So we played.  And played some more.  Unfortunately, I have very few photos to show for it.  {I've promised myself that when the grandparents are here I need to take more pictures.  I want to document those relationships and the time they spend together.  Obviously, I'm not doing a very good job - likely a very big clue that it's time to cut some of the mental clutter out of my life!}

While Grammy and Papa were here, we went geocaching.  Definitely worth a blog post of its own, but this will be (hopefully) one of our big "events" of the summer.  It was challenging and fun and we're looking forward to searching for some more.  I think Papa really enjoyed it, too.

We walked, played at the park, showed off the new bike skills, and spent a good amount of time outside because it was gorgeous.

And from what I recall, board games were played, Legos were assembled, and Ruby broke out into song and dance, using a flashlight as her microphone.  When I saw it, I was convinced she had been taught.  Nope.  All on her own. :)

My dad brought a project for the boys to begin working on.  He has been a coin collector for as long as I can remember + longer, and has, over the past several years, been collecting the state quarters (among other coins) for his grandchildren.  He brought along a coin map book and the boys set to work filling it up. 

And mom and dad were still here on Sunday, when Brad and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary.  Evening movie + free babysitters = a night well spent!

And, of course, somewhere in there was a meal at Culver's.  I'm certain of it.

Having Grammy & Papa here just as school ended was a great way to break us into the new summer routine.  We then had the next week and a half to ourselves before the arrival of Uncle Justin, Aunt Mindy, and Perry.  They graciously decided to spend the second half of their summer vacation here with us, and we were thrilled when we heard of their plans!  This was their first visit here, and we were so excited to spend some extra-special time with them and show them where we live!

Anxiously awaiting their arrival (they got here just after 4:00 the afternoon of the 23rd).
They toured our home and we ate dinner and spent the rest of the eating getting comfy and allowed the weary travelers to rest.

The boys played a lot downstairs.  I don't even know what all they did as I tried to avoid the noise.  I guess they did this!

Wednesday afternoon I arranged for a friend to hang out with Ruby and the rest of us went to see "Inside Out".  And we took this picture because minion butts.  Funny stuff.

(The movie was fantastic.  Loved every second of it.)

My favorite part of Justin & Mindy's visit was the time they spent with my kids, all three of them, but especially Ruby as she's not to the age yet where she's remembering those that she doesn't see regularly.

Special memories for me, if not for her.

We had beautiful weather for eating and playing outdoors.

Thursday we introduced the Cliftons to geocaching, and I think we have them hooked!  We (*ahem* Justin) found three caches that morning before heading to the food court at the mall for lunch.  The boys and Ruby came home then and played here while Mindy and I had a little girl time shopping.

Later that afternoon we decided to spend the evening at a Great Lakes Loons baseball game.  Another beautiful night (even kinda chilly!) and it was dollar dog night.  Can't lose with that scenario!

Plus mascot autographs!  Check plus plus!

The next morning, the traveling trio was up early and out the door before 7:00 to make the long drive back home to Minnesota.  *Huge huge heartfelt thanks, guys.  Having you here, making the effort to visit, and having really low expectations for how we might entertain you ;) is a huge deal.  We are so glad you came.  It means the world.*

Round of applause to you, Justin, for most of this photos, too.  It seems Ruby was your favorite subject.  Thanks for these.

We then had two days to prepare our house for our third round of guests for the month.  On Sunday afternoon (the 28th), the Vrieze family pulled into the driveway for a two day stay.  We are so grateful for their friendship - they continue to make the effort to stay connected with us, which includes visiting us, no matter how far we seem to move away.  And our kids - I marvel more and more at their friendships.  They have been long-distance friends their entire lives and every time they see each other, they just pick up right where they left off.

{And these two big girls totally doted on little Ruby.  A couple little mothers right there!}

I also love that all of them (with the exception of Ruby) are to the age where they don't require minute to minute parental supervision.  With the exception of a few willful and stubborn moments (brought to us by Reed), they were all able to play well together downstairs while we grown-ups enjoyed the less noisy and chaotic main level of the home for coffee drinking and catching up.

After a leisurely Monday morning of more coffee and catching up, we took our crew over to Sanford Beach for fun in the sun, sand, and spray park.

Culver's.  Come on.

And just as sure as they come to visit, they also have to leave to go back home {this morning}.

Insert big sad faced emoji here.

*As always, Scott & Kathy, our gratitude.  Thank you for investing in our family.  Thank you for not forgetting about us.  Thank you for your effort and your love.*

Our June was full!  Full house.  Full hearts.

I can't think of a better way to start our summer!

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