Wednesday, August 19, 2015

On the road!

When Alaina started kindergarten last fall, our lives changed in lots of ways. One of those ways was our ability to travel like we had before. Before that we had quite a bit of flexibility to go for long weekends and visit family, friends or some place fun. Even though the kids were getting older and it was easier in that aspect, school left her exhausted and trying to jam trips into those weekends just really wasn't an option. We mainly took trips to celebrate holidays with my family in Iowa on Thanksgiving and Christmas and that was about it. (Aside from the trip to Florida in February with Bryan's family - which was an awesome trip!) Wasn't a bad thing, but it was different from prior years when we have more flexibility to go and it left me missing my family and friends in Iowa a lot.

And we have made up for it this summer! And every minute spent in the car, every mile on the van has been absolutely worth it. People that are important and making memories are worth every ounce of effort. In July we took our third annual trip to Pella, IA to visit my best friend, Libby, and her family. Which was a double bonus as my aunt and uncle also live in Pella so we stayed with them and got to see them also! Always a fun, fun trip and our kids have a blast and make lots memories with the Braafhart's and the Blair's!
Uncle Guy is a hoot and Murray was lots of fun!
Love all these crazy kids!
Sweet Claire helping Alaina roller skate!
Kate and Wesley walking to the square
Claire and Aubrey heading up to the square
August brought a spontaneous trip to the Omaha area where another wonderful friend, Stef, and her family live. It had been TOO LONG since I had seen her and her cute kiddos. Her ability to travel has been limited as she has a 3 year old and TRIPLETS that are 16 months old. She's a busy momma!! My kids love Stef and we always get to do fun things there like visit the zoo and hang out by the water. She runs a tight ship and I was in awe at how well she takes care of all those kiddos by herself! It was a busy household but there were lots of laughs and hugs too. Was time very well spent.
Checking out the aquarium at the Omaha Zoo
7 kids, 6 and under! Busy, but such fun!!
The next weekend we ventured north to the twin cities area to visit a good friend, Heather and her son. Zach was away for work, so we missed getting to catch up with him. We don't get to see each other often enough and we sorely needed our evening chat after kids bed time that lasted until 1:30 am! From her house, we went further north to Bryan's aunt and uncle's house. Auntie Marlys and Uncle John are big favorites of our kiddos and they were quite excited to get there. We spent lots of fun time with them and Bryan's cousin's son, Jack. They are quite the (loud, but great) playmates. Marlys and John were very generous in offering to keep the kids so I could attend another good friend's wedding on Friday night. Molly....your wedding was one of the most beautiful I have been to! Couldn't be happier for you and Mark! It was a soul recharging weekend for sure.
The kids with Heather's little guy, Easton - at Mall of America. Boy did the have fun!
Ice cream is always available at Auntie Marlys's house!

And she always reads us books
Aunties are wonderful
The happy couple - congrats Mark and Molly!
Love this girl
The past weekend was one I might have been looking forward to the most all summer. This time we traveled south to Iowa. The kids, my dad and my brother and I all ventured down to the IOWA STATE FAIR on Friday. We spent the day enjoying all of our favorite things and celebrating Uncle Lowell winning the weed identification contest (professional division) that the Iowa State University Extension puts on. He's a blue ribbon weed nerd! Way to go, Uncle Lowell! ;)
We love the state fair!!

Uncle Lowell and Alaina
This girls is always a purple ribbon in my book
A nice man let us pet his sheep while was trimming him - and we even got some wool!
The big boar! 1166 pounds - kids were amazed!
Kids wanted a picture with Cy - how do you say no!?
Grandpa and Alaina on the Sky Glider
Uncle Lowell and Wesley
Me and my Aubrey
Taking a little break - it was HOT
Uncle Lowell trying to convince kids to ask dad for a hot tub! ;)
This is somewhere I spent a lot of time growing up. I showed hogs every year down there and have the best memories. If you have never been to the Iowa State Fair, it is worth it!! Bonus that the Braafhart's met us at the fair that day also! Was a wonderful day (although very hot!) making lots of memories. The fair was such a big part of my childhood, I love taking my kids there and watching them enjoy it just as much. Cheers to all the moms and dads that have survived the county and state fairs so far this summer. There is so much work kids and parents put into fair, but the memories are priceless and the lessons learned are invaluable. Our day will be coming - and I can't wait!
Fair fun with friends
Some get to ride, but still must hold hands with our friends
Nick gave Wesley his own ride
One of the many, many shows. You can imagine the plans the kids got after watching this!
Their absolute favorite part of fair!
Ready to call it a day! Hot, tired feet - nothing a lemonade can't fix!
The next day, we had a corn day at my mom and dad's. Holy moly, did we do it up right! I think we had somewhere around 20 people (mostly family - and some friends) there and we finally lost count of how much corn we did, but it had to have been roughly 125+ quarts and quite a few pints. That is a lot of corn, people. But the day was perfect, the company was fantastic and the corn system is top notch! My parents moved from doing it all indoors (which is a mess!!) to outdoors. At first the thought of doing it outdoors seemed not right. Bugs and stuff. But it works so well and the clean up is so much easier. My parents are rock stars at this corn thing. I don't know how many (if any) years they have missed hosting corn day so our whole family could enjoy farm fresh corn all year long! It's tradition and a day everyone enjoys!

What is to come!
Cookers and coolers ready to go!
Picking with grandpa
Aubrey proud of her pick
And look who got to drive tractor!
Only a fraction of the corn - get husking!
Lots of good help
Lots of delicious, beautiful corn!
Cooking/cooling system

System works great!
Lots of cutters and baggers
Grandma and Grandpa - who knows how many years of corn they have done!?
Kids got bored with helping but it still tasted good!
Ready to go to the freezer
We very much missed daddy on all these trips, but this momma is not a real big home body, and being a farmer's wife means you usually have to be pretty independent no matter what you're doing.  Again, every mile and minute is always worth it to visit old friends, make new memories and enjoy seeing my kids develop an awesome sense of adventure experiencing fun, new things! Summer is feeling complete and we are entering fall and the school year ready to tackle routine and schedules again! What are your summer must-do's? 

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