1. We're freshly home from 10 days in Missouri... I know I say this frequently after these get-togethers, but I am so incredibly grateful for the family I married into. There is so much grace and love and hard and good all rolled together, and I feel so privileged to have a front row seat to seeing how this family makes it work so beautifully. Not perfectly, but truly, beautifully.
2. We arrived in STL on Friday and spent the weekend on the farm with Pop & Mima and various aunts, uncles & cousins. The weekend was perfect: full of pond swimming, creek walking, and bonfires; the front porch was home to early morning devotions, many family meals, coffee & adult conversations while the kids caught fireflies and played catch or bounced on the trampoline. The MO heat stayed pleasant and the humidity cooperated and the breezes blew... and all this loveliness was made even more poignant and memorable by the fact that it was our family's last time at the farm-- Dan's parents are retiring & downsizing, moving across the state to Kansas City at the end of next month.
3. Monday I drove the kids to KC and Dan stayed behind an extra day to help his dad with some projects. It was another perfect few days of time with family... Will went to Springfield to spend time with my older nephews, and the younger kids and I chilled with our KC fam. Weds night we all got a sitter and went on a double date with Dan's sister Miriam and her husband Corey. It was such a fun night, full of great food, laughs and mishaps (including fitting us 4 plus a kneeboard and water skis into a small 4-door sedan) but ...what is vacation for, if not for making memories that will make for hilarious retellings?
4. Thursday morning we headed to the lake or our family reunion which included 5/6 of the siblings and 15/17 of the grandkids. I can't even describe how much I loved our time there. Corey's family owns a boat & 2 jet-skis, and all the fun lake equipment, which totally made the day. We spent hours on the water, water-skiing, jet-skiing, tubing, swimming, fishing... when I was spotting for the kids (facing backward on the boat, watching them on the tube) I would find myself laughing out loud at their hilarious grimaces and antics. The wind whipping my hair, the sun on my face, happy kids, happy life... seriously, I was so full of soul-joy on the lake, I never wanted to leave. Pretty sure I want to live on a boat. ;) There is something so simultaneously calming & exciting, and so deeply satisfying about being on the water. It's my heart's home for sure.
5. Besides being on the water, we also did a super fun & adventurous ropes course as a family, played cards, sat around and talked, and generally enjoyed each other's company. For such a large crowd and for so many kids, it was generally peaceful and amiable, with the kids mostly getting along famously.
6. We left camp Sat morning at 6:30am... we had to miss the last day and a half at the lake because Will was leaving for a week of scout camp this morning (Sunday) at 10:45 and we needed to get him home to pack and do laundry Saturday night. I was personally VERY BUMMED to leave... family/lake time are basically my two very favorite things IN THE WORLD rolled into one and although outwardly I acted like a mature adult and didn't throw a it about leaving vacation early, I was certainly throwing a fit inwardly... "SO UNFAIR! WHY DO WE HAVE TO LEAVE! I DON'T WANNA GO!" haha.
7. tl;dr: Vacation was awesome, I wish we could've stayed longer. Back to real life now (which is also awesome, don't get me wrong...) I just really, really loved that week... it was easily the top week of 2016 in my book.