A Jumbled Mess

Really, who can believe it is fall already?  Summer has left us, well most of us anyway.  The leaves are changing, temperatures are dropping and the apples are ready for picking.  I am sitting here looking out my window at blue skies, fallen pine cones and a 75 degree day before me.  Fall?  I think not.  We have moved people!  For all those that did not know the Hanson Six has relocated once again to the South.  This time that means Franklin, TN.  A place we called home over five years ago.  Here we are.  Well, at least five of us because Thing 1 is in Seattle, way over in the Pacific Northwest and it feels so very odd to have been going through this process without her.  More on that later.  

Let me break this down for you.  We, and I mean all six of us, were not fans of the harsh winter season.  Which in our defense feels as though it lasts about 9 months in the great White North.  I mean, come on!  Anyhow, we knew MN was not our forever place but the timing just never seemed right for a move and then amidst our chaos filled summer, bam!  Husband Jared was entertaining thoughts of leaving and listening to a new company vie for him.  All quite flattering.  And if I am completely honest this decision was surrounded by prayer, pro and con lists, so many late night conversations and gut wrenching sleepless nights.  We have all experienced our fair share of mixed emotions.  A few leaning towards the dramatic.  What it comes down to,  what is always the toughest, is leaving people.  The ones we forged authentic relationships with.  Our community.  Friends we celebrated holidays with,  prayed for and around while one of us or one of our children have been in the pits, the ones we rallied with and cheered for.  Baked with and for, toasted a New Year with, had umpteen date nights with, studied Scripture with, raised our hands in worship with, embarrassed our children with when we did a Chinese fire drill (by the way, does anyone know why it is called this?), yelled on the sidelines with, watched footie with.  The memories are endless and for that my heart is so grateful.  They were all my silver linings.  God kisses in the flesh of the past four years.  My heart has been torn over saying goodbye, but as you know we Hansons say "see you later" to our forever friends.  

In the end, Husband Jared accepted a job offer from Apple and here we are.  Farewell to Best Buy.  Thus the move to TN and a new chapter in our journey.  As I said before, mixed emotions.  Thing 2 is entering her senior year of high school.  Had a solid core group of girlfriends, a mentor we love, a job she loved, a d- group she was leading, I could go on and on.  For her this sudden change has been difficult to process and understandably so.  Thing 3 was not to keen on leaving either.  Same for her, a trust worthy circle of friends, a school she liked, a mentor we all love and a life that she was settling into.  Thing 4 raised his hands in utter joy when he heard the news that he would not be attending his former school this year.  No kidding.  I think he even cried tears of joy.  He is missing his boys, his d-group and leaders and a few close buddies from school.  For him moving meant his ticket out of a learning environment he wasn't fond of.  Just keeping it real here.  Thing 1 processed in an entirely different manner because, as I mentioned above, she was already leaving MN for her own adventure. All that to say the Hanson Six have dealt with change and experienced being the new kids on more than one occasion.  This time we are returning to a place we know, although it has endured it's own changes as well, family waiting for us with open arms and fingers crossed, no harsh winter season.  

There are always two sides to any story.  I am grateful for that.  Minnesota was the right place for our family for the season we were in.  For four years we were all spurred on to growth in different and challenging ways.  We met people who stole our hearts and became family instantly.  I type those words through tear filled eyes.  Reflection has a way of doing that to me.  Being on the other side does too.  I witnessed God in big ways while in MN.  He was oh so good to us that way.  He never failed us and that marks a season.  

So here we go.  All in.  Well, kind of.  We are currently in temporary housing while we do some house hunting.  Not  looking for home ownership here, only renting for us.  You know that gypsy spirit, she gets the best of us and we have learned we prefer the flexibility and mobility of renting.  Plus, no yard work for Husband Jared.  Score!  The Things will be in school just as soon as we have an address and know where we are zoned for.  For now there is reading and writing and math quizzes at home.  Sometimes.  Husband Jared begins his training today.  Learning a new corporate culture and familiarizing himself with the brand.  Thing 1 has FaceTimed us throughout our road trip down here and our first night in TN, checking in on her siblings.  Other than that we are acclimating to our new environment, spending as much time with the family as we can, reconnecting with old friends, attempting to make sense of all these changes together and thanking God for it all.  Like I said, He never fails us.  

As for me I am standing.  Emotionally and physically spent from all that a move entails.  Details, details and more details.  Then more details that you forgot even though you might have done this seventeen bazillion times before.  Did I say that some of us lean towards the dramatic?  Ahem.  Mama's you know this.  You are thinking about everyone's well being, their emotional state, whether or not they drank water, took their vitamins or in our case ate a meal on any given day.  That is what I do.  I wanted to make sure the Things had time with their friends.  Time to process and deal and say see you later and celebrate.  I was concerned for Husband Jared.  He had to give his notice, prepare projects and emails and future plans for his team and then he was preparing for the new with phone conversations and travel and training plans.  Oh and we were taking our eldest to school on the other side of the country.  There's that.  And now I am sitting here tapping at the key board and allowing myself five minutes to feel.  To feel the weight of this life change.  To fully engage in the grieving of leaving people you love.  To celebrate Husband Jared and his joy as he steps into the new.  To grapple with a new place, that isn't really new, but is.  To remember what it is like to live near family and to treat those relationships with care.  To be still.  To physically stop moving and just be.  I do not understand why this is so hard for me.  Here is my mantra, today is a new day and while this is my present that I am in it is a gift none the less and in this space I will deal and dance and yell and pray and at the end of it I will be thankful.  Long mantra, I know.  Thankful for the new chapter.  Heck, that we have another chapter together as a family.  And I will be thankful that these ones with me will make me laugh and cause my lips to turn up to smile more often than not.  We get to do this together.  And together is the best place to be.  Now that place is in Tennessee.  

On Her 17th Birthday

Happy golden birthday Thing 2!  Girl, there has not been a dull moment since the moment you were born and  I have been in awe of you since then.  You see life through the lens of an optimist, always finding the best in the world, always remembering that we are here in God's created space with God created people.

Whew!  When I reflect on your last year I feel compelled to exhale.  An opportunity to travel to Bali was presented to you and your Dad and I instantly knew it was a God kiss.  I can not even tell you what my Mama's heart felt as I watched you walk away, a tad nervy and uncertain about what forty plus hours of travel would be like.  It was as though my heart leaped out of my chest and decided to hop on a plane.  Yet you handled yourself with all the confidence you could muster and that flexible, free spirit guided you.  Some might say you possess a gypsy spirit and to that I say well done.  Your Mama has that in her too and it suits us.  So not only did you travel across the International date line, the Durbin family invited you to Cali to celebrate Madison's 16th birthday.  We had a trip to TN and most recently a move to TN and in between there have been countless MN adventures with family and friends for you.  The part of you that seeks justice was inspired to lead a fundraiser within the senior high youth group.  You partnered with IJM and shared the "loose change to loosen chains" cause, collecting coins to spread the word around the epidemic of human trafficking.  There were documentary movie nights and corporate church gatherings.  Not to mention a mentoring relationship with one of your junior high girls that was spurred on because of your mentor.  You were a D-group leader and the joy I saw in you when you were serving those girls was abundantly clear.  All that between college classes and a job at Francesca's Boutique.  No wonder I feel the need to catch my breath when I write this.

Dear daughter, as we enter this senior year of high school and your 17th year, I know we are on the cusp of multitudes of change.  I pray you enter into that and embrace it all with a full and open heart to the work that the Lord continues to do.  Just like when you look through the camera lens and capture just the right lighting and then the shutter clicks and the moment is caught, I feel that same way when I see you.  Those times when you are in your element, leaning into the gifting the Holy Spirit has given you.  Walking the narrow path.  Studying His words.  Learning something new about the faithful ones that came before us.  Discovering your place within the body of the church and speaking out for those that don't have the freedom.  Use your voice, sometimes whisper and always love.  Keep loving big, the only way you know how and please don't ever stop.  Despite what the world might say.  You have the ability to diffuse anger, make someone smile and bring people together.  Keep being you.  I shake my head in disbelief sometimes; This ginormous opportunity I've had to be your Mama.  And my prayer is always above all else that you love Jesus.  I mean that, chase after Jesus with everything because He is everything.

I love you sweet one,  my Laney-Lu.

The Table That Friendship Built

I built a table.  And when I say "I", know that I really mean "we".  The "we" I am referring to are my sweet friends.  Said friends have completed numerous wood working projects together and are still married to tell the tale.  In fact they work really well together.  On countless occasions I have shared my love for the table with them and made off handed comments about wanting to build a bigger table.  I wanted to be able to accommodate more people, make more space for story telling, more prayers, more toasts.  See where I'm headed with this?  They told me to find plans for the table and we could build it together.  What the what?!  

Let me share a little story so you are able to completely understand my participation in the actual building process.  When our family was here in June I told them of our table building idea.  Bigger, better, more chairs, maybe even a bench.  It all sounded super.  Until Husband Jared began asking questions.  How big? Have you taken measurements?  Exactly how will we bring said project into our town home with three flights of stairs and some unforgiving angles?  I laughed it off and referred to the answers to his questions as minor details.  And then my father in law, builder extraordinaire, started asking the same questions.  I will admit I hadn't given it a second thought, until then.  I wanted a new table and I had a more than willing partnership to bring this dream to fruition.  In my mind that was more than enough planning.  That my friends is how I operate.  Not in the details apparently.  Thankfully Daniel does understand that space so when I sent him a few of the plans I was considering he looked them over, measurements and all and chose the best one.  He even shopped for the lumber and had it cut to size.  Whew, no measuring twice or five times for me.  Husband Jared could be confident that our table would at the very least be sized appropriately and accurately.
 Now we were on our way!  

The day we started this event was the day after Husband Jared's wrist surgery.  Needless to say he was our supervisor.  Sitting in his chair, cold beverage in hand and offering endless amounts of encouragement and humor.  Daniel and Minette had completed most of the actual building before we arrived.  Spanish cedar was the lumber choice and it was absolutely beautiful, not to mention it smelled delicious.  Our table was in two pieces, the base and the table top itself.  Both raw in form and waiting to be sanded, stained and sealed.  Decisions needed to be made regarding all that so Minette and I took a trip to the hardware store for some insight, and to purchase my very own hand sander.  The situation was getting real people.  I had never before owned my own power tool.  I was official.  Or at least I felt that way.  We then decided on the stain, actually a weathering process we were going to try with steel wool and vinegar.  You break apart steel wool pads and allow them to dissolve in vinegar over a few days.  Once they do, simply brush on the solution and watch the magic happen.  I wish now that I would have been better at taking photos along the way.  It was incredible to witness each stage as the wood morphed into a functional piece of furniture and art piece all at once.  Many days later and quite a few sanding lessons later both the base and top were sanded.  Then began the weathering and sealing.  The tools and experts resided at the Martin household and working around our family's schedules made the experience even more interesting.  About two weeks from our start date the table was complete and being assembled in our dining room.

First time with a hand sander, eventually I got the hang of it.  That is after every noise or mishap stopped intimidating me.

Somewhere during the sanding stages.  Look at our smiles, I think it would be safe to assume we were having some fun!

One last tid bit I'd like to share with you, an aha moment I experienced just as I was finishing sanding the table top.  Almost as if the notion had escaped my logic.  Eventually, there would actually be people sitting around this table.  Friends and family, strangers even, gathered in the space I've created.  And thus began the prayers.  With every brush stroke and rag applied poly coat I prayed.  For all those people, known and unknown that will meet us around this table.  For friends that help create and laugh with you along the way.  For space to tell stories, to make mistakes, for time to listen and really hear, for laughter and games and spilled drinks, for crumbs in the cracks and splinters where I didn't sand, for candle wax dripping and heads resting on folded arms, for map games and highs and lows, for prayers said and recited, Bible stories read and love outpoured in the in-between.  For the beautiful and messy, for grace and for the food, for dessert and full bellies, for empty ones that come hungry for more.  For the sacred.

So when I say that this is the table that friendship built, it truly is.  Without Daniel and Minette I'm not so sure my table dream would be a real thing residing in our family's dining room right this very minute.  Not only that but throughout the process we spent time together.  Our families ate impromptu meals together.  Home made slip n slides were built, smoke bombs created, there were walks to the park and there was much laughter.  Always laughter. I learned a new skill or two and I had the privilege of doing so surrounded by people I love.  What a gift.  Thank you friends for building something much bigger than a table with me.

Here's an open invitation to our table; Join us and when you do be prepared to add some art to our table.  Sharpies are at the ready for your signature or tag, a favorite quote or character.  I can't wait!

The finished product!

Fourth of July and Beyond

Again this will be another post filled with photos and published for family memory's sake.  With Husband Jared and Thing 1 out of the country exploring Israel for almost two weeks and Thing 3 still in Costa Rica the remaining Things and I had decided that we would have our own little get away down South.  Not to mention we did need to return Madison to her family eventually as well.  Anyhow, it was the road trip of the summer and my first time taking on the fourteen hour plus drive myself.  I know, I know, I had two drivers with their learners permits in the vehicle with me but trust me when I say that would not have been good for any of us.  Ok, mostly me and my blood pressure, but that is entirely beside the point.  We hit the road and 15 hours later we arrived at dog camp, our fourth of July destination and the place our superb hosts call home.  Of course there were the usual stops, coffee, potty breaks and ooey gooey butter bars.  You get the picture.  

All smiles to have a respite from Sven! (that's our Volvo's name, because everybody needs a Sven)

The weekend's festivities began with  a cousin night swim and reluctant bed time following, only because the next day was sure to be filled to the brim with excitement.  And that included breakfast at Monell's.  Oh, Southern food how I have missed you.  After eating our weight in fried chicken and the like we rolled our way back to dog camp to prepare in proper fourth of July attire.  Thank you Aunt Natalie for the inspiration.  Then it was on to swimming, gardening, more swimming, eating watermelon, fireworks in the driveway, volleyball in the pool and the grand finale fireworks show as orchestrated by Thing 4 and Uncle Jeff.  It was a grand day celebrating our freedom!

Our breakfast table!

Poolside with Natalie.

Kiddie fireworks prep.

Autumn and her watermelon.

The fam bam and our impromptu watermelon picnic.

I can not even begin to tell you how long we waited for Thing 4 to actually attempt a back flip.  He didn't in the end but it was quite entertaining listening to him walk himself through the steps.

What Fourth of July would be complete without ribs and corn on the cob? 

BFF's waiting for the show!

Autumn all bundled up and ready for fireworks!

Just the beginning of the spectacular light display!  Way to go Uncle Jeff and Thing 4!

Madison and Thing 2 had some fun with sparklers when the rain subsided.  They're so artsy!

We watched a terrible dance movie the night before this photo was taken and Aunt Natalie just had to  show the girls her epic hair styling skills, side braids and diagonal part, courtesy of the 90's.  

Before we left Pappo had an art lesson with all the girls in his studio.  We love to paint!

So we left dog camp after two extremely full days, a stormy night, too much food and loads of fun.  We met the Durbins and reluctantly returned Madison to them after spending two and a half hours catching up in the Target parking lot.  True friends people, and honestly more like family.  We are so grateful for them. Then it was on to Franklin.  Thing 4 had gone to Fairview with Gpa and Mema on 4th of July to spend a few days helping Gpa with work.  From what I gathered, there was some work done, a long motorcycle ride taken, a pocket knife purchased and a couple rather large catfish caught.  Sounds like it was a great week for Thing 4.  Meanwhile, Thing 2 and I were in Franklin where we both were catching up with old friends and we were all enjoying the summer nights together. 

Summer night in Franklin, sprinklers, a slide, the sun and friends!

Thing 2 with Reilly and Caroline.  I love those smiles.  And I was able to spend an entire day with their Mama and another dear friend.  Smiles for everyone!  

Autumn, Gemma and I spent the next morning together exploring.  We started with breakfast and coffee for me of course, a trip to the park, a trip to the bookstore where animals were read to, a Spanish book was requested and trains were played with.  Home for a carpet picnic and an afternoon catch up with a dear friend of mine.  

Sisters.  Waiting "patiently" for Auntie Leanna to finish her coffee.

The boy's first pocket knife, a momentous occasion!

Catfish #1!  Never mind that he caught it trolling the pole immediately after the catfish food had been thrown out into the pond.  It is still a catch to be proud of.

Seven hours on the bike this day.  Quite a feat for my little man.

Thing 2 and I managed to catch an afternoon together to do some exploring in our favorite little downtown.  We had biscuits at Loveless with the family and then headed into Franklin for the rest of our day.  This fun antique shop caught our eye and with all the letters and animals everywhere we couldn't help but stop.  The girl spotted Krispy Kreme and insisted I buy her a donut. And then in the evening we all walked to Mellow Mushroom for pizza and live music on the square.  There was twirling and running and playing and laughing and singing and then ice-cream on the way home.  

Something to look at everywhere!

We love donuts!

Our next adventure was canoeing on the Duck River.  Thing 4 and his best buddy Blake joined us for the day and provided much entertainment for us all.  And by entertainment I mean they managed to flip their canoe just fifteen minutes into our float down the river and this Mama was scrambling to the shore to get it right before it filled with water and sunk, all while Thing 2 was pushed into spider webs and ants.  Yes, good times people.  If only it was captured on video.  After that excitement it was mostly smooth canoeing.  We found a rope swing and rocks to jump off, Thing 2 and I turned ourselves backwards a few times and in the end fun was had by all!  The boys left us for Blake's house and to ready themselves for the lake the next day.  Sven also decided to have some issues this day so he spent the next two days with Uncle Jeff's mechanic being fitted for a new alternator and a few new belts.  Thankfully that happened while we were in Franklin and not in the middle of nowhere Iowa.  Needless to say our trip was prolonged a few days and none of us were too upset about it.  Oh, the day didn't end there.  Thing 2 and I had our noses pierced and we had dinner at La Ha with our friends, laughing late into the night with one of their daughters who just graduated college.  Which is wild because just yesterday she was babysitting all the Things and making funny movies with them.  Sweet memories with even sweeter friends.

Blake, Thing 4 and Autumn.  She loves her cousin and his friend!

Celebrating our piercing with ice-cream of course!

Thing 2 and Abigail, on the Natchez Bridge.  Another sweet friend Thing 2 spent time with while we were in Franklin.  

The following day the Horel family left for a camping trip in the Smoky mountains, Thing 4 was on his way to Pickwick Lake with Blake and his family, Thing 2 was out with her friend, I had lunch with the Things former footie trainer and then I was home alone on a Friday night.  So I watched Netflix and watched the sunset and was ever so grateful for the week that we had been given.  Saturday Thing 2 had requested a trip into downtown Nashville, reminding me that she had not ever been.  You know, except that one time with Poppi and Nani when she was nine years old.  Tragic, I tell you.  Wink, wink.  I obliged and we spent the next few hours walking in an area I had only ran through during the Country Music half marathon and immediately was swooney over.  There was a quaint little farmer's market, little cafes and restaurants, ice cream shops, historic homes and The Peach Truck.  Yes please.  We purchased a bag of peach goodness that I had read about and set to planning what we would make with them.  From there we went downtown and drooled over all the cowboy boots, heard country music pouring out from all the honkey tonics and filling the sidewalks with a sweet twang and then headed out to Gpa and Mema's to cook dinner for them.  It was a good night sitting out on the dock, playing cards and listening to the sounds of nature. We rounded out our weekend with church on Sunday morning and family dinner and movie night with the Horels before we packed up the car to head North early Monday morning.  Taking with us more memories than I can count and a heaping dose of gratitude for all that He provided us with over the week.  Which in this case, as is the usual with us, meant time with family and friends and good food to share with them all.  

Thing 2 found this mural and we had the perfect photo op!

Our peaches.  You must get yourself some of these if ever you have the chance.  Really.  

A grilling lesson with Mema.

Our drive home.  This is what my co-pilots looked like a majority of the way home.  I'd say they were tuckered out from all the fun.  Me too.  Why is it that the drive home seems twice as long as the drive said destination?  

That concludes our summer road trip edition 2015...at least for now.  

Chicago for Our 18th!

Today is our 18th wedding anniversary, our family's birthday.  A friend of mine recently referred to the day as such and I suppose I liked it.  It was the official date we became a family and added to our numbers but the reality is that began long before the ceremony.  August 2nd is a special day no doubt and we will mark it with celebratory pause because it is the day where we made public our covenant with God and one another.  At our young ages I am fairly certain that neither of us truly understood the scope of such a commitment.  And maybe even to do this day we don't.  I do know we are learning, more every day about how to have a servant's heart for each other, what this four letter word LOVE really means, especially in the mundane, uphill battles, and the valleys of life, how to lose ourselves and just how to be the bridegroom of Christ before everything else.  Y'all, this marriage business is hard but it is so very worth it.  

So on this day I will wish Husband Jared a happy anniversary.  I will pick him up from the airport and hold his hand while he is driving us home where our Things will be making us breakfast with fresh squeezed grapefruit juice.  They told me so last night and I can hardly wait.  We'll be together, the six of us and whatever we decide to do this day will be cause for rejoicing.  
We made it, another year!

To commemorate that year we snuck away for a night in Chicago last weekend, just the two of us.  It all worked out perfectly.  Thing 3 was flying in to O'Hare the next evening and there was no footie, no commitments and some hotel points waiting to be used!  Man oh man was it fun, albeit less than twenty four hours alone!  To begin with we had a six hour drive with no interruptions, other than our frequent potty stops, ahem, where we discussed each one of the Things, work, life, home, travel, politics, you get the idea!  We quickly changed and ran to dinner at Rick Bayless' Topolobampo where we were told it was going to be a two hour wait.  No thank you.  Next door is his Fronterra restaurant and to our surprise there were two open seats at the bar and that is where we ate the best ceviche we've ever had.    Yes indeed, well other than the ceviche Husband Jared made with fresh red snapper he had caught the day before while we were sea side on the Gulf coast.  Other than that.  The next day was spent wandering around the city, taking in the sights, smells and sounds that is Chicago in the summer.  

Chicago skyline, well part of it anyway and a summer storm approaching.

You know I have to tell about our breakfast meal because it was our first time visiting The Little Goat Diner and I think I could have moved in there.  Eclectic and darling, every last detail, even the cloth napkins rolled with a goat stamped brown paper seal.  I was like a kid in a candy store.  So much to look at and take in and wouldn't you know it, we were able to dine at the bar facing the kitchen.  It was Disneyland for me.  I could even hear the chefs and line cooks in the back, watch the expediter and see all the food before it was whisked away to the tables.  Not to mention the coffee shop/bakery that is attached has an open window to the actual bakery.  I watched them roll out scones before I even had my first sip of coffee.  That my friends is an excellent way to start the day.

My view at breakfast.

Just look at that, bakery bliss.

Back to our walking, there was architecture to gawk at every which way, live music in Millennium Park where we had a fine view of The Bean, a water feature overflowing with laughing children, soaked from head to toe and then a fine Irish pub to watch Manchester United face Barcelona and where I was watching the clock because once the match was over that meant we would be on our way to see our Thing 3, who we had been without for five weeks!

The Bean.

Splash pad in the city.

Time away with him is always the best and I am grateful for our less than twenty four hours together, alone.  Happy anniversary Husband Jared, here's to us!

A Birthday, Father's Day and all the Camps

Promptly after our very last airport drop off for all the celebrations and house guests at the Hanson B&B, let me know if you're interested in reservations, Husband Jared and I began his birthday-Father's day festivities.  Mind you, we had indulged the extended family while they were here with birthday cake and the like but we do enjoy maximizing the opportunity to celebrate just as long as we can.  And since we had not had more than a few minutes alone for the past month we went out, just the two of us, for the kick off!  Pig Ate My Pizza is another restaurant owned and operated by some of our very favorite Minneapolis chefs.  Their specialty, you guessed it, pizza!  The atmosphere is casual, unpretentious and the entire staff seems as though they are in their realm.  I love it!  As if you couldn't tell.  We sampled a few different pizzas, maybe a craft brew and dessert.  Oh man the dessert.  A mini chess pie in it's very own baby cast iron skillet.  I might have exclaimed out loud that this was the very best chess pie I had ever eaten.  Yes indeed!  I think the smile on the birthday boy's face says it all.  

The Birthday Boy!

Piggy Pie, my favorite.  Brioche crust with sausage and homemade sauce.

The very next day was Husband Jared's actual 40th birthday and since we were celebrating him once again we let him choose everything we did that day.  Pool time, relaxing and watching footie and a family outing to Tin Fish, complete with a walk around the lake.  Home for a one of a kind cake creation by our resident baker, Thing 3, and more of us.  Does it get any better than that?  Our Things know how to make someone feel special and they did a fine job that day of showing Husband Jared their love.  They're the best to celebrate with!  

Pool time per Dad's request.

Free birthday coffee at the Bou!  (not pictured: Thing 4, he had training)

 Linner at Tin Fish!  

The master baker at work for her Daddy.

The finished product, hill with a falling down man and a tombstone- it doesn't get much more morbid than that.  Happy 40th!

Make a wish!

The next week was filled with camp preparations and Royal Servant check lists.  Thing 1 was scheduled to go to day camp for work, Things 2 and 4 would be at Jam Camp for a week and Thing 3 would be at training camp for a week and then off to Costa Rica for four weeks, not returning until late July.  I have mentioned her missions trip on the blog before but the reality truly set in as I sat in the room with her and rolled t-shirts, checked medicine bottles, stuffed lavender scented dryer sheets into all the zippies, labeled everything and watched her face light up as she was doing it all.  It was quite the week of packing, shopping for last minute supplies and making every attempt to savor these summer days together.  

Preparing for Royal Servants.  All the zippies and dryer sheets.

Husband Jared, Thing 3 and myself all made the trip to training camp for the drop off.  Not until we had her favorite meal and family time around the table of course; A tradition of sorts for the night before any trip.  Pardeeville, WI was the destination for this version of tent city and the place where Thing 3 would meet her traveling family.  We unpacked her box into a large bag that she would be living out of for the next 5 weeks, rolled out her sleeping mat and sleeping bag in her tent and watched her step into the unknown with a confidence that could have only been given to her by the Holy Spirit.  This Mama was so proud.  As she walked away from us, knowing I would maybe receive only a few emails and not hear her voice for the next month I promptly ran to the car and held in my tears just as long as I could.  Such a strange feeling to be witnessing the beginning of your child's independence into adulthood and yet still feel like they are just babies.  Enough on that.  I will have a separate blog post dedicated to Thing 3's trip soon.  So much to say, so many stories and so many photos.  The next morning the three that were left woke to make Father's day breakfast for the very best Dad.  We sat around the table and shared the love and celebrated Husband Jared once again, this time for the father that he is.  Then it was time to send two more off to camp.  And off they went, laughing, waving goodbye, not having a care in the world.  JAM camp is one of the best weeks of the year according to my four.  I have one photo of the two that were there, courtesy of Thing 2's photo folder.  Thing 2 was their as a camp counselor for the first time and Thing 4 a camper.  So much fun!  Thing 1 was an only child for the week and it began with a trip to German Fest and dinner at Surly, per her Dad's request for his Father's day.  Our week with just the three of us was not much different, late night walks, dinners out and too much quiet in the house.  Thing 1 even had a sushi date with Husband Jared and I.  We might have made up grand stories about all the people around us too.  It was most certainly a fun night!  Then before we knew it, our next house guest, Madison had arrived and we were picking the JAM campers up from church.  Another week or so full and complete.  
Thankfully much more summer fun was on it's way!  

Training Camp drop off.  

Two JAM Camp buddies!

Father's day in front of the Schmidt Brewery in St. Paul