Tuesday, April 21, 2015

a week in minnesota.

The weekend before Easter the kids and I ventured off to my home state of Minnesota.  

Hubby usually joins me for at least part of my regular trips back home to the tiny city of Red Wing, but this time I did the 12 hour drive solo, both ways.  I am pretty proud of how smoothly it went.  There was some screaming, some crying, some vomiting both in the car and on the side of the road, and a lot of asking "Are we there yet?! How many more minutes?"

But to me, despite all of that, totally worth it.

Anyway, I hadn't been with my family at Easter for years, so it was really nice.  I got to see my dear sister Heidi for a few of the days, who had rode the train in from Montana with with her oldest daughter, my niece Bel.

To that point, I am so blessed to have family that makes an effort to travel and spend quality time together, even though we live so far apart.  It is a big reason I felt comfortable moving far away -- I knew I would still see them as much as we all could, and we make the most of our time together.

This trip was no exception.

Cormac is old enough to remember "Gramma and Grampa on the farm" and got very excited for this visit!  He could hardly sleep the night before we left.  

I am grateful to have siblings that are such amazing aunts and uncles.  They are very warm with them, giving them lots of hugs and letting themselves get dragged around by tiny hands.  

Oh, and the cousins! Ethan and Ella and Bel were so sweet and loved on Cormac and Nola sooooo much.  Despite the distance these kids seem to bond immediately.  I know that is because my older brother and sister make sure to talk to their kids about their cousins, show photos and make sure they don't forget they have family in Kentucky!  

Grandma and Grandpa help out with that, too, I am sure!

I mention all this because it is sometimes hard for me to live far away from my family.  I know if I had pressed Hubby to get a job in Minnesota he would have, and I would get to see my family a million times more than I do.  

But I also know we, as a family, make the best of it.  I know I am closer to my family living farther away than some people are to family that lives in their same state. I know I am blessed to have that bond.  That my kids, despite never getting to see their cousins, still have the most amazing time with them when we do.  

Finola loved being outside in the farm fresh air, just like her brother always has.  She was particularly enthralled with all the animals at my older brother's farm -- she fed cats, chased chickens and gazed at cows.  Cormac even got to feed a cow, which he did with his typical seriousness.  He was more interested in the "excavator" toy perched atop a giant pile of sand.  It was a dream come true for him.

We went to church a few times together, ventured up to 'the Cities' to visit my Gram Margaret and Auntie Paulette, hung out at my brother Josh's and SIL Jen's farm one evening, I had a coffee date with Jen, and my mom, brother and I even got a morning of shopping in town.  So nice!

But mostly just hung out at 'the farm.'  The kids played endlessly - favorite activities being:  taking walks in the woods with Grampa, the playhouse, the grainery, the lean-to, swinging on the tire swing, and hanging out in the basement.  I never realized what a patient man my dad is until observing him with my kids.  He took them every day, without fail,  for hours to give me a break.  They didn't do anything fancy, just hung out outside, doing basically the same things every day.  Was he bored?  It never seemed like it.  Was he annoyed by Cormac's non-stop chatter?  I couldn't tell.  Did he grow weary wiping Finola's constantly runny nose?  I don't believe he did.  My dad has never been a complainer, and he is exceedingly patient with children.  I love that about him.

And my Mom.  Well, my Mom prepared us meal after meal after delicious meal.  She made sure we were comfortable, always.  She gave the kids a lot of "donies" (donuts.)  I am pretty sure they had more sugar on the farm in a week than they'd had in the last year.

But that is okay on vacation.

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for letting us stay for a week and for loving my kids so much! 

Here are a ton of photos from my phone, completely out-of-order.  (Honestly, if I try to organize them I might never post this.  There are so many.)
walking on the trail with grampa

yummy apps on easter
I love my gram.  One of the strongest women I've ever known.
I ran my 20 miler, 10 of which were a gradual uphill grade.  Best run of my entire training.
our final day there was easter sunday -- both kids were pretty worn out, clearly.
superman swinging
my sister and mama - they look a lot alike!
on the drive there we always eat a big mcd's breakfast near chicago
trying on grampa's classes
on josh and jen's farm
playing with the excavator
cormac was not in the best mood on easter morning - and finola wasn't feeling great.  clearly.
they loved the swings down by the old oak tree
this photo makes me giggle - basically our family easter pics were a bust.
at a rest area on our way there - no playground but found a giant leaf pile!!!!
I adore finola's love for nature - she could have spent all day outside...and she pretty much did.
me and my two beautiful sisters.
sibling pic!
it was a really windy day, but at least there was warm sunshine!
finola and ella 
cormac kept trying in vain to scale the side of this tree.
mama and daughters.
on the trail, heading to the woods.  this is the same trail I would walk for hours every day when I was young.
Finola ADORED her "Unk Spence"
Bel tolerated my kids' constant hugging quite well.
in the loft in the playhouse my dad built for the grandkids
dilapidated tree house from my youth - no, my kids were not allowed up there
Ethan had no problems with hugs - he is so sweet!
another of fin and spence - love that look
Cormac in the leaves!
one of the pregnant cows at my brother's farm
the best I could get on Easter of me and my sweet, spirited son.
cormac feeding the cows.
fin and my brother spencer on easter
serving up some "hot coffee" in the playhouse
finola did pretty well climbing the ladder to the loft, with help from grampa
cousin pic on easter.  finola = what happens when naps are skipped. 
as soon as grampa got up cormac wanted to play with him.
a toast, perhaps
finola chasing chickens
a page from a book I found in the playhouse that made me giggle.
resting on gramp's shoulder
girl in the wind.
"come, now!" is one of finola's most used commands recently.
posing by some of the stacked barn wood my dad has organized from the barn that blew over in a storm.
on the trip home, sick baby all tuckered out.
Another road trip to my home state in the books!  
Thankful for safe travels + quality family time.