Friday, September 28, 2012

Sweet Summer Time

*sigh* What is it about those warm, carefree, lazy days that makes the time go a little slower? The evenings a little more memorable and the sunsets a little longer? It's hard to believe the summer that we counted down the days 'til, has been over for a month now! 

I thought I'd share a quick recap of how it all shook down!

Literally, the MINUTE Jonathan was out of school we zipped straight to Winnipeg to catch a flight to Calgary! There we met up with all of Jonathan's immediate family for a week long re-connection.

Jon's parents just bought an acreage near Calgary that, among other things, has a HUGE (slightly sloped!) paved driveway! And let me tell you, for country kids that in and of itself is comparable to an amusement park! :)

The cousins got to know each other a little more through hot tub parties, stroller rides, four wheeler rides, walks to the mail box (where Gramma had goodies waiting), IKEA outings, and simply by being kids side by side!

We were there over Canada day so in lieu of fireworks (add an hour time change to the already late night fall of summer nights and the result would not be pretty!) we tried sparklers... 

... which ended in tears, a burn, and band-aids. :( 
Maybe we'll try again when the kiddos are 10+ or something!

Sadly I didn't pull my camera out very often over our stay. Maybe it was the long (short!?!?) nights with a baby trying to adjust to change and teething, or the busyness of being a mama, I don't know... but my brother-in-law Matt picked up my slack and got lots of GREAT shots to document our time together!
  (Sorry... I'm not sure how you can look at them, though I'm sure there's a way!)

We had WONDERFUL food, some serious competition in Ticket to Ride, great devotional times/conversations, and memories made as we "broke in" their new house!

It was lovely to see the Calgary crew and we look forward to seeing everyone again! Thanks again Mom and Arnie!


We flew home from Calgary, did some laundry and repacking, and then left for Ohio a couple of days later.

The drive to Ohio was a long one (it's get harder and harder with each kid we add!) but it felt so nice to pull in the drive with supper and hugs waiting for us!

Sadly there was some wind storm/tornado damage waiting for us too. Our families big ole' barn was hit and it won't be able to recover. We spent a weekend cleaning that out and getting it ready for take down (when the time comes). But first... the more pressing (and smelly!) clean up... the pond! Due to the storm and the heat and other stuff (sorry, I'm not all up on my science!) there was a big fish kill and most of the fish died.

We knew there were some B-I-G fish in there, but had no idea how many!!

So while dad did the dirty work, I made several trips with the tractor/loader to the "sacrificial fire." 

Dad was definitely generous and gave me the more fun job!

Once things were a little more cleaned up we made our way to my grandparents and had a big family work bee there. Their orchard was hit and several trees were affected. Thankfully many hands make light work and it was cleaned up in no time. We even found a spot in the orchard that wasn't amiss for a family picture the weekend before!

My moms been talking of "Family Olympics" for a couple years now, and finally this year was our first annual friendly family competition!

It was a weekend affair with each family representing a country! Any guesses what flag our family waved?! :)

Mom and Dad were the good ole' US of A, Josh and Erin were team Germany since Josh just got back from there, and Joel and Angie are going to Jamaica for their honey moon, so "JAH-MAC-AH mon" seemed appropriate! :) 

(Sorry, maybe someone else has a pick of our maple leaf crew and a pic of Mom and Dad!)

We started off Friday night with supper, the playing of Oh Canada! :) and an egg race/obstacle course!

Our festivities were cut short due to rain, but we got in a bowling ball toss...

... and a bonfire after the rain stopped!

The next morning the competitions started again with a four wheeler race... 

... or a leisurely cruise, depending on age! I meant the girls dad... not you! :)

Then, my favorite event... the bow & arrow shoot!

We had a balloon race (where the adults ran in pairs with the balloon squished between their backs)...

... followed by a blind folded canoe contest! Which was by far the most entertaining event!

After lunch we resumed with a balloon toss...

... slash ambush... :)

... and then a cheese ball throw! And no, silly me did not get a picture of the finished product! 

Standings were tight coming into the last three events... 

... and the ice cream eating competition was where strategy would come into play! Though no one expected what would come next...

... the male component of team Germany (not to be confused with cute little "eating-my-ice-cream-one-teeny-tiny-spoonful-at-a-time" Larren in the picture above!) stunned everyone by finishing his ice cream in 5 seconds flat! It was the ole' squeeze and slurp method, which left even "we're-used-to-everything-being-frozen" team Canada in the dust!

Maybe our cute offspring will make up for our ice cream eating speed!

The last event of the day?! Target shooting! 

But wait... what's this... at supper time there was a surprise announcement made by the judge that a bonus event was being added! Hold onto your hats, folks... paper airplane throwing is going to separate the true countries from the colonies!

The paper airplane event will go down as the forever controversial event! 

Rules were not clearly set before the event... we'll leave it at that! But the true winners (huh hmm, team... maple... leaf... cough cough!) are ready to step up the game for next year! :)

The girls got lots of good quality time in with their aunties and uncles, and were, as you can guess, loved upon loved upon loved! They're still talking about it!

(And no, I had no idea that Larren's hand was near a certain spot until I posted this pic! I'm quite confident she had no intention of foul play!)

The Dr. that Josh works with, and his wife, invited us to their house one Sunday and wow... what. a.TREAT! They are the most gracious and hospitable people you're ever gonna meet! We had a yummy lunch and then hopped on their boat for some quick fun in the water!

When we walked back up to their house THIS was being concocted!!! A HUGE HUGE water slide!!

Isn't this a GENIUS idea!! (Way to go Sue!!)

Thanks again for such a FANTASTIC day, we were/are certainly blessed by you!

Next up... the balloon festival!

This here lighthouse was my favorite... there's even fake seagulls on top!

We thought there was going to be a grand lift off, but we were wrong! Turns out there was a grand light up, instead. Neat? Yes. But possibly not worth all the hype! Oh well, the girls gave it a thumbs up! 

Plus we found horses to ride as were walked back towards our vehicle! So, as you can imagine, they were stoked!

Larren kept telling/yelling to every one watching that her horse's name was "Echo"! Which it wasn't, but her favorite horse in MB is, so we just smiled and nodded!

Let's take an intermission for family pictures, shall we? We wanted to head to a nearby creek for the occasion but rain said otherwise! So... my parents new house got it's first photo op! The walls weren't painted yet, so this white wall served us well!

It was HOT while we were in Ohio... like "Holy smokes" kinda hot. So the hot tub parties weren't as frequent as in the past, but the girls still got their fair share! Add Auntie Kathy's pool located just around the corner, and the girls got all sorts of splashing/swimming in!

Jon and I (more I than Jon!) have a "our kids can ride on LOTS of toys but not motorcycles or dirt bikes" rule... but the girls wanted just ONE quick ride on Grampa's bike.

So up and down the road they went!

Caidrie discovered grass... and neither likes the feel or the taste of it! Despite what her sisters told her, it is not salad!

My parents were/are building a house (they'll be a separate post about that a bit later) so the girls got a birds eye view on the roof as it was being patched from the wind storm!

We decided to keep Caidrie on the ground and just give her a few toss ups to make her feel included!

As the two people who've read this blog over the summer know, Jon went back to Canada while the girls and I stayed a couple of extra weeks.

It was bittersweet to say good bye. We were super excited to be staying longer, but we're a together family... and being apart just isn't something we're used to! So it was one last story on the hammock and then time to say "See you soon" to Daddy.

A friend had already asked us to go to the zoo for the next day... and she definitely knew what would perk the kiddos up!

It's hard to believe that all these kids (plus two more!) belong to three mamas!

Now this, folks... is a sight to see! :)

All in all, a crazy day... but well worth the effort!

Especially seeing how much fun my kids have with my bestie's kids!

They don't get to see each other often, but already the oldest ones are like two peas in a pod! I just love it!

There were LOTS of park dates!

And the girls debut of the county fair!!

It felt oh so good to be back at the fair! In an odd sort of way... I can't describe it. All I'm gonna say is 1. a fair isn't complete without the smell of livestock! It must be a cherished smell from my past, because I'm guessing most people wouldn't say that! 2. being gluten intolerant at a fair is near punishment...  PUNISHMENT to simply walk by the corn dogs, the giant elephant ears, the pork tenderloins AND the funnel cakes without even a little smidgen to taste!

Once again pony rides were a big highlight for the girls... Alia wasn't excited or anything, can ya tell?!?

And what would the fair be without (gluten free!) fair food?!? :)

The girls got to ride three rides (in addition to the ponies)...

The carousel was their number one pick...

... followed by the Ferris wheel. Just Dad, Alia, and Larren were going to ride, but after they were on their way the ride guy asked if Mom, Caidrie, and I wanted to ride. We didn't have any tickets so we politely declined and he said he'd let us go for free since the ride needed balanced! 

It was so fun! I haven't been on a Ferris wheel in YEARS and it was such a treat!

The band show was going on behind us so we even got serenaded as we rode!

The last ride of the evening was the car ride...  a classic indeed!

We arrived at the arena at the start of the calf scramble and it felt oh so right to sing along with a crowd full of people as The Star Spangled Banner played! Another "American experience" that the girls can add to their repertoire.

My dad officiated a wedding out in Colorado, so they were gone for the weekend. We decided to stay at my Gramma and Grampa's while they were away and it was a weekend full of memory making!

Stories with Grampa Great...

... playing with toys from my childhood with Gramma Great... 

... and making cookies with the cookie master herself! The girls certainly liked being her official taste testers!

These deer were my "horses" when I was little... and the girls went on a journey or two of their own!

Another attempt at grass... still a negative on the feel and taste! 

We were thoroughly spoiled at Gramma and Grampa's! THANK YOU again for such a WONDERFUL weekend, we love love love you!

Caidrie went from just sitting, to getting up on her hands and knees, to crawling, to crawling at rocket speed, to climbing one stair, to cruising around furniture and finally to climbing my parents super tall stairs!

The girls found my old clothes and had some fancy new dress up duds to model and do recitals in!

The last weekend we were home Mom and Dad surprised the girls with a visit to the train museum... complete with a real steam engine! 

The definite highlight was the riding the train, for both the big girls and little sister too! Caidrie was bouncing and waving at every one she saw!

The ponies were a surprise treat, but unfortunately they didn't behave well enough to pull their wagon for wagon rides, so it was just a "pet and go" sort of event!

One of my favorite parts was this old tractor/belt thing. I have no idea what it's called but I just loved seeing a bit into history!

The tractor turned this belt which in turn made this saw operate, and then made cedar shingles. Whew-ee... makes one appreciate things a little more, eh?!

And would Larren be Jonathan's daughter if she didn't "drive" the tractor?!? I mean, it's green after all!

The last week was spent gathering all our possessions, getting last minute visits in, and of course the inevitable packing, packing, packing.

We had such a good summer?! It was busy. It was stressful with three kiddos at times (usually at the end of the day when bedtime loomed!). It was full of emotions. But it was so good.

Know what was the icing on the cake? My daddy made the 11+ hour drive with me to Minneapolis  (through the night!) where we met Jonathan, and we had the best talk we've had in a long time. Yes, goodbyes are SUPER SUPER hard, but I'm reminded that family is family. They love us even when we don't deserve it. They see the best in us when we can't see it in ourselves. And they know enough about us to make us smile/laugh when we really need it! Or when we're a little too proud and need a good reminder of our quarks or some random embarrassing memory from the past! Whatever's needed!

THANK YOU to everyone who made our summer a great one. We made some super memories and look forward to making more next time we're in the "Heart of it All!"


  1. RENEE!!!! I loved your memories of summer! What a great archive of a special time with family- all of them!
    Loved your special memory of time with Dad to finish it off as you make your way home! What a gift to cherish!
    Thanks for sharing all these incredible pics!

  2. fun pics and i'm sure fun memories. miss you (and your family) fun to see them all. wish we could have connected over the summer. maybe we'll just have to make a trip up to Canada sometime!

  3. Thanks for sharing - the girls are growing up so fast. So glad that we were part of your summer memories - even if it was only a week. We look forward to seeing all of you again - hopefully it's soon. Gramma Toews