We went HOME!!! It was such a marvelous, magnificent trip. We pulled into the valley and we all just gave a heartfelt sigh -- home. Plateaus and sagebrush and desert. For us, perfection!
We were there for a week and a half and loved every single second. The girls got lots and lots of fun playing and tickling from Grandpa. In fact, I think he was followed around everywhere he went the whole time we were there. He has some fans!
We had quality time with the people that are closest to us -- family and those few that are family even without blood relation. Trina, Shawna and I spent every morning together picking up exactly where we left off and talking a hundred miles a minute. The Double B and Dennis went golfing and we all had such a hilarious date night together. Just like the good old days!
We went to the UUUTTTTEEE STAMMMPEEEEEEEDDDE! It was so great to see my cousins and aunts and uncles. I've been blessed to have a close extended family -- so nice to know you always have someone who will be there in times of trouble and times of happiness! My F.C. took this hilarious picture of Katelyn chillin' on the hammock. What a kid.
Plus, I saw a rodeo! I just love rodeos, I'm not going to lie. Something about people doing insane things that I would NEVER DO entertains me endlessly. Seriously. Every time a cowboy would get on a bull I would yell to my Aunt Jan (who was pretty much over me saying this every time, I'm pretty sure) "What makes you do that?!? What on earth would possess you to do that?!?!" And then I'd cheer, groan, gasp, and laugh as prompted by each wild ride. Seriously. Amazing the things people will do just to entertain Marie! (Note: this should clarify to one and all that I am a sissy. The End.)
I got to see my brother Matt! That doesn't happen too often, so it's a treat when it does. What a stud. I actually really adore all three of my brothers and their wives, so getting to spend that little bit of time with Matt and lots of quality time with Nick and Jon really meant a lot to me.
Liv had her first "driving lesson." She was a natural, of course. K.J. had a "lesson," too, but apparently it wasn't his first. Daddy is apparently a really cool Daddy.
Katelyn turned THREE YEARS OLD!!! I can't believe my little chicken is three. But at the same time -- it makes a lot of sense, really. She loved the attention and loved having her little soiree at the Dairy Queen. She even got a BIG ice cream. Kate is just my girl. I'm so thankful to be her Mom! I've been trying to teach her to say she's three and I've been holding up three fingers to show her. Every time I do she points and yells "W!!!" She is the only kid I know obsessed with the letter W. And since it's super quirky, I thoroughly embrace it.
I got lots of quality time with my Mom, thank heavens. My Mom is totally the best. I kept her up late and picked her up from work early... I'm pretty spoiled. My kids loved the special Grandma time, too. The Double B had lots of projects to do at his parents, so he got lots of quality Mom time, too. Win/win! (I had a very charming picture of my Mom and I up, but I magically erased it. I will upload it tomorrow or something, because you should really see how super cute my Mom is).
Lots of time with Trina! Thank heavens! She is such a true friend to me. And in K.J.'s wild and wonderful dream come true -- he has finally reached his life-long goal of reaching his Aunt Trina in height!!! Thank heavens we have documentation:
Here is a super awesome picture of us with the Double B's parents. His Dad is 88 now -- it is a struggle to be away from them at this time in Dad's life. The Double B struggles mightily with it -- when his natural desire is to ease his parents burden and he is so far away. So it was very special to be together. I really, truly love this picture.
Family is simply the most important thing. We are so thankful for ours! It was hard to leave them again to head back to our own little journey here in the middle of America -- there were lots of tears -- but this is our life and we're going to make the most of it, no matter what! So thankful we get to call them ours! And so thankful for friends here to welcome us back with open arms and make us feel loved.
What a super awesome trip.
P.S. We got home yesterday at 2:30 in the morning, and when afternoon rolled around, it was time to go clean out the car. Since this is Missouri at all, it was very humid and 95 degrees. It was pretty uncomfortable. Liv and K.J. helped as much as they could, and when they were about done with their part of things Liv stood still for a minute and exclaimed: "It's just BLANKIN' HOT out here!!!" The Double B and I both stopped and looked at each other in surprise. But what could we do? She didn't in fact say a bad word and it really was just blankin' hot. So we kind of said things like "Well, hm. You're right, Livi. Why don't you go in and get a drink." But let's face it. That is memorable.