The last time Joel and Amanda (my brother-in-law and sister-in-law) were in Minnesota, Ray and I were getting married, nearly nine years ago. Much has changed since then, namely the addition of two little ones to each of our families. Savannah is 6 months younger than Henry. And Liam is almost a year younger than Anna.
Holy cousins, Batman!
At our house, we've been counting down the months until their arrival. Then the weeks and days, and yes we even counted down the hours... Finally, last Wednesday, they were here!! Our Oregon family had landed! And as is the beauty of such reunions, within minutes it was like we were never apart. Friends again in an instant, despite not having seen each other since our last trip to Oregon two years ago.
Everyone together - - well I had to take a deep breath. It made my heart sing.
As with any good vacation, we started out with a bang: two consecutive days at Valley Fair. Yes, two loooong, but remarkably wonderful days at our area amusement park. The kids had a fabulous time, as did the big kids! (When Joel first called last fall to say they were planning a trip to Minnesota, he said "We'd really like to come out to visit Valley Fai - - um, eh.....I mean to visit all of you." Ha! He's a roller coaster junkie, just like Ray and Henry!)
Joel and Liam
Savannah at the top of the ferris wheel
Everytime Liam heard one of the roller coasters roaring overhead, he'd stop in his tracks and SCREEEAAAAAMMMM!! (in that good "I'm so exhilerated and overwhelmed that all I can think to do is SCREAM!!")
Anna and Liam, sharing a thrill with their dads, We love the new little-kid rides this year!
Savannah and Henry made great ride companions right from the beginning. They'd run from ride to ride together, planning their next moves before the current attraction was even done....laughing and comparing notes on which rides caused minor stomach quivers and which induced major belly flopping, heart-beating-out-of-your-chest thrills.
Having season passes to Valley Fair the last few years, Henry has become quite the seasoned thrill-seeker. But this was all quite new to Savannah......Her dad though had high hopes for her!
Savannah hadn't been on a big roller coaster before, but by the end of day one, Savannah was an old pro on the Corkscrew.....
And sure enough, by the end of day two, Savannah had mastered the Wild Thing, the biggest roller coaster between here and Ohio.
(You go girl!)
This picture of Anna pretty much sums up how all of us felt after two solid amusement park days. Exhausted, but oh-so-satisfied. (I must admit, that although the kids were ready to go the next day, it took a good day and a half for us "big kids" to recover!)
We really couldn't have had any more fun than we did!!
(Notice that even as she sleeps, Anna is still clutching tight to her cotton candy.)
The rest of our days together were filled with adventure and belly laughs and so much fun. But, we stuck close to home. Just being together, doing the everyday things, was more than enough, I guess.
And with this crew, its no wonder why.....
Can you feel the love???
We had backyard camping....
And backyard fireworks.
We fired up the campfire (with s'mores of course.....)
And had quiet moments with Grandma Anne.
There were mudpies in the sandbox.....
(You can't imagine how hard it is for Anna to keep her eyes closed while she counts. There is major concentration here!!)
And there were caterpillars.
In the end, we had seven wonderful days that I think we will all cherish.
Some of my own favorite childhood memories are of summer adventures with my cousins. Never anything too elaborate. Just the everyday stuff. Sleepovers, picnics, swimming and family baseball games.....
Yup - - the really good stuff.
I love that my dear family took the time to come out and visit us this summer. I love that cousins were able to share great adventures together. And now, all these years after my own growing up, I love that my kids will have precious memories of their perfect summer days.