With my parents both recently retired and my sister's third child recently born, our summer road trip this year worked out perfectly. Even better, our whole family of four including Josh managed to make it this time. And still more impressive, I managed to convince my parents that, now that they were retired and my kids were big enough, they would love to keep the kids an additional two weeks - just grandparents and grandchildren!
Once again, we traversed an immense stretch of Texas plus all of Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska, and eventually (2 days later) we pulled into my parents' driveway in South Dakota. Following tradition, everyone ate waffles, raided the toy collection in the basement, and got busy playing all the favorite games. (This year, there was a lot of chess going on.)
|Double chess match|
|Waffles with syrup|
Grandpa even set up a wood-carving station in the basement so they could enjoy the air conditioning while they practiced.
|While in the basement, I ran across this great school photo of Grandpa.|
We got to see Tanya and Aaron, with Nara, Harry and the newest member of the family - Otto - for a few days before they headed back to N.D. (where we later ventured). Nara and Harry loved to tell me about their new baby. "We have a baby!" Harry announced to me more than once, in case I had forgotten. And Nara was usually holding Otto every time I turned around.
Musical demonstrations galore.
I love how Sebby always sings along with his piano. Song lyrics have been another great motivator for reading.
Some violin in the family room. So cozy!
She looks like a pro.
Grandpa and Misha's duet: Heart and Soul
Grandma with four kids downtown.
At the park.
More chess, and cold milk.
Grandma gets into the chess spirit.
|"The three little girls," as they were once known.|
The first part of our trip was like a mini family reunion - we got to see Kathy, Adam, and Sue and Ed.
We also made a trip to the Svec Farm to see the people and the bees.
Sue, Misha and Otto
A rousing verse of "Happy Anniversary to You"
Cake and ice cream for all :)
Josh, looking quite dashing.
Nara goes to town on the piano.
Ed and Sue, with Roger Svec
Love that face, especially amid all the other smiles!
Cousins group hug.
Then came the bee tour. First, Aaron gave an animated lecture.
Then comes the attire, wonderfully space-like.
And finally, the three-hour tour:
Layer by layer.
Misha got to calm the bees with the smoke can.
Those who didn't don the bee suits watched from slightly farther back. Sebby was fascinated by this honeycomb, and I thought that he, like me, appreciated nature's amazing geometrical capabilities. (Later I found it crumpled into a solid lump. I guess it's amazing that way too.)
Rice pudding, that is, leftover rice plus milk, sugar and cinnamon.
Ah summer - sweet corn, flowers, and guac.
At one point, we couldn't find the three older kids, despite checking all over the house and outside. I eventually found them huddled with a flashlight in a dark basement back room, playing a "bee game" that they invented with pencil and paper. (They told me not to tell Harry where they were. Poor little guy!)
Comical attempts at group grandkid portraits ...
Karakuri fun with Grandpa
As we have recently made it a goal to attend more plays with the kids, we were happy that our trip aligned with the Community Theater play of "Shrek." It was adorable. (Plus, we later got to attend the Prairie Rep's "Smokey Joe's Cafe.")
More basement treasures - D and D maps from Daddy's youth!
And baby scrapbooks - Sebby thought it was odd that I kept his tiny socks, but I have always loved miniature footwear!
Teamwork to make ...
a decorative colored-salt bottle.
My classic old banana-seat, flower-basket, pink-and-white bike was a good size for Sebby, and Misha is big enough now to ride Josh's 20" unicycle (with the seat lowered all the way).
Sebby LOVED riding such a big bike, even if it did have streamers!
We then hit the road again to take advantage of Tanya and Aaron's hospitality in North Dakota. They have a great house in a grand city, right by the river.
As soon as I walked in the door, Harry turned away from the food he was chopping on the counter and announced. "Shh, the baby is sleeping. We have a baby now!" (in case I had forgotten)
Also resurrected from the basement - the old elephant costume I had made for Misha. Perfect for Harry's Halloween costume this year. The elephant lives again! :)
Table pictures are so lovely.
Time for a stroll in the pleasant evening air.
Great cousin shot on the couch. Such darling faces.
A scooter, strider bike, bigger bike, and unicycle. Quite the procession.
Uncle and neph. I'm pretty sure Otto is raising his eyebrows too.
Salads and omelets and pancakes, oh my. Not to mention great essential oils that Aaron shared with Josh that work wonders for sinuses.
More art projects - nature villages on the mushroom table.
Bike path fun.
And Cherry Berry. Don't you love how that's the smallest size offered? Sheesh.
The top of the spider web, in a gusty breeze
Peaceful Otto and Mama.
Kids and water. I love it.
A shot of us! In the same photo!
This watermelon completely disappeared. It was amazing.
My goofy niece. :)
The s'more man. Any takers?
Backyard s'more cook outs - a must. Nara and Harry know the routine.
And again. The adoring big sis.
Under the wonderful willow.
Quest for fire? Aaron decided to share his flames with neighbor Joe a few streets down.
Floor puzzle photo shoot.
A cold dragon fly.
The beautiful birch.
Strawberry short cakes.
Something else preserved since my youth - my beloved purple falcon bike. Misha was excited to ride a bike with more than one speed. He and Sebby rode all over campus! Luckily, campus has become more pedestrian focused. The boys certainly didn't need any cars around to add to their reasons for close-calls on speedy bikes.
The eager mowers.
And my tiger lilies, still thriving!
I love this shot, mid-jump! Who is the grasshopper here, the catcher or the caught?
The walking/fishing/canoeing nature center on the edge of town has become such a great place for kids. I'm glad the kids got to take advantage of this during their extra time in Brookings!
Then, Josh and I packed our little Corolla to the very brim with our entire collection of books from our college days, not to mention a Kyrgyz rug or two and some Indian and Saudi artifacts to boot. And with goodbye hugs, we left our children to enjoy two more weeks with their indulgent grandparents.