Since we've lived in Michigan, we have been able to make the return trip back "home" to Minnesota and Iowa twice a year - at Christmas and then again at some point during the summer. And on both occasions we make sure to visit both MN and IA (our parents are less than four hours from each other so by the time we make the trek to visit one, it makes sense to visit the other as well). Because the distance is so great, it's also nice to be able to consolidate as much into said trip as possible. This year, I was trying to coordinate three important events into one visit - the kicker was that each event was on a weekend. Separate weekends, as well as three weekends in a row, conveniently enough, but that also meant that in order to enjoy all three events, we would need to be away from home for at least two and a half weeks.
There are several bonuses with this plan. 1) I don't work. My flexible schedule allows me to fly by the seat of my pants. 2) It's summer. The boys' non-school schedule allows flexibility as well. 3) Extra time with family. No brainer. 4) It's summer, and at this point, I'm going bonkers spending 24 hours a day, seven days a week with all three of my children. Harsh, but true. Different people to entertain and keep my children is a check plus in my book right about now.
The stink-part of this plan: Brad can't be away from work for that long. Two big fat thumbs down.
The first leg of our trip was spent with Brad's family in Pella, so to make our travel plans work for us, we had to caravan to Pella. Our car + our van + five people = not ideal. But Brad would need his own vehicle to get him back home when the rest of us headed out for Minnesota. It was such a drag, but it is what is it is to get us where we wanted to be.
So, as for Pella, we arrived there on Thursday, July 30 in time to head downtown with Grandma and Grandpa for a little "Ag in the City" fun.
The focus of the weekend was to gather as an extended family at a cabin at Lakeview Camp. Brad's family has a history of spending some kind of summer vacation together every year, but as the grandkids have gotten older and schedules have become more complicated to coordinate, the get-together hasn't been scheduled for a couple summers. So this year, my in-laws rented this large family sized cabin for us to stay at for the weekend. It's just outside of Pella, so closer to home for most everyone and it allowed the flexibility for some to stay, and others to come just for a day or two.
Unfortunately, we didn't get to see everyone, but as always, I'm so incredibly grateful for the time that the kids' cousins and aunts and uncles invest in them. Whatever they want to do or see or watch or say, they are up for it! As the cousins get older, that connection has a tendency to fade a bit, so my heart is always warmed when I see that 16 and 19-year-old girls are still having fun with their little cousins!
It was so, so good to spend time together and reconnect.
This leg of the trip ended with a family reunion (Brad's mom's family) on Sunday afternoon...followed by our first trip to the emergency room.