Looking Back: Summer Travels 2017

I love traveling – not so much the hours of preparations and packing that go into taking a family of 6 on trips but definitely the traveling itself. I like sitting in the front seat with Matt, reading books together or chatting or listening to music. I love getting to catch up with friends and family and revisit places near and dear to me, as well as exploring new places. I want my kids to have the experience of a world that is broader than just their hometown. My hope is that, as they get older and become better travelers, we’ll be able to introduce all of our kids to more and more places around the world. This summer we kept it pretty simple – 2 trips, both heading north.

The first was to celebrate the wedding of these two cool kids <3

I’ve known Natalie since I was in college, sometimes baby-sitting for her and her brother, but often just hanging out with her and her family. For years, she was something of a little sister to me, and I just adore her. She has become a lovely, thoughtful, passionate woman who serves the Lord, and it was an honor to be part of hers and Jonathan’s special day.

Heading to Chicagoland for their big day also gave us a chance to visit a city we love and catch up with some more dear friends! We saw and got to talk with so many friends at the wedding, and we got to stay with some other long-time friends. Frank and Sheri and their kids, Noah, Jackson, Natalie, and Ellie, have also been an incredible blessing in our lives over the years, and we were so thankful to get to spend the weekend with Frank and Sheri and the girls! We got to talk about literature and politics and eat Thai food and play games and sit outside in their back yard around a fire and just generally enjoy one another’s company, and it was such a nice time!

Atticus was in love with their dog, Chewy, and actually slept in his dog bed (without Chewy) for part of the night!

Later in the summer we made another trip north, this time centered around a family reunion in Wisconsin.

We’d also met up with a couple of my cousins and their kids pre-family-reunion to give the kids a chance to get reacquainted before the big party, which was a lot of fun!

And we took advantage of our time in town to hang out with other friends, as well. Here we are with my 2nd grade teacher, now a dear friend, and one of her daughters.

We also took in some local attractions, including the Milwaukee Public Museum. What Milwaukee-area child doesn’t have fond memories of hanging out with these graphic dinosaur models?!?

After a few days in Milwaukee, my mom and our family drove out to the Twin Cities to visit some long-time family friends. David was one of my mom’s grad school professors, and through him, my mom met and became friends with his daughter, Tricia, who, along with her husband Michael, eventually had 3 children around the same ages as my brothers and me. We grew up as pseudo-family, and we’ve continued those relationships through the years, with them even visiting us here in Missouri a few years ago. Ella, who is a few years younger than me, has two kids around the same ages as my kids, so there were plenty of playmates and plenty of toys, and we did a lot of fun, kid-friendly activities, visiting the zoo and some parks, having some ice cream (of course!), and just generally enjoying our time together!

It was great to get to reconnect with family and friends this summer and revisit some favorite places! We’re thankful for these opportunities to travel and hope to have more in the future!

another Thanksgiving blessing

In addition to the joy of spending time with family over Thanksgiving, Matt and I were also incredibly encouraged by our time with some friends.

One of the hardest parts of leaving Chicagoland for Missouri was moving away from a number of good friends, many of whom were older than us and from whom we had learned so much and with whom we had enjoyed so many grace-filled hours.
We’ve spent time with Frank and Sheri and Noah, Jackson, Natalie, and Ellie playing games, running all over the City Museum, discussing literature, parenting, counseling, and theology, and exploring such important questions as whether it is possible to consume 6 Saltine crackers in 1 minute.

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The Saltine Challenge (Summer 2009)

Ken and Tammy have offered much marriage and life counsel to Matt and me over the years. We’ve traveled with them, shared meals with them, laughed with them, cried with them, prayed with them, and so much more. It has been a joy for us to spend many hours with Natalie and Stephen and later Glendy and Larissa, as well.

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their visit to Columbia (Summer 2010)

And the Conlons have been part of my life for more years than virtually anyone else – Helen was my 2nd grade teacher, and when she learned I’d be attending Northwestern University, near where she and her husband Eric had moved after they’d gotten married, she welcomed me (and later Matt, too) into her family’s life. I started baby-sitting for Catie during my freshman year of college and later spent many hours with both Catie and Maggie, baby-sitting, enjoying the family’s company, and joining them as they battled through Maggie’s cancer.

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Catie as the flower girl in our wedding

Though I did a woefully poor job of capturing these encouraging moments in photographs, we were able to spend some time with each of these families during our Thanksgiving travels, and it was wonderful. There’s something about those 10 or 20 year long relationships. These people know us – our strengths and weaknesses, the good and the bad. They love us wherever we’re at but also encourage us, sometimes explicitly and other times implicitly, to grow more and more into the people God designed us to be. Their love for us mirrors His love for us. And we feel the same way about them. I believe I will count each and every one of these people as friends until the day I die, and I’m ever so thankful. These friends are such a blessing to us, and those few hours we had with them were a true joy.