Sunday, July 13, 2014

Family, Friends, Food, Fun and Fireworks: The Fourth

"Mommy - what state are we in now?" the oldest asked, the iPad balancing precariously between his knobby knees. Ten minutes had passed and the highway stretch was still within miles of our home, but his little heart could hardly contain the excitement. And we agreed - getting to MN quickly to see our family we'd been missing for months was something worth speeding about:

Nearly the entire Esslinger crew

A fabulous aunt who takes little boys swimming by 7 a.m.
A great aunt fun enough to take him on his first bumper car experience
Brunch with a lifelong friend

Sister relaxation time 
A brave little dude who survived the log ride
The Choates and Esslingers with beloved Grandma and Grandpa
Little L sauntering up mid photo shoot to have a moment with GG

Boys getting rowdy at the falls
My big boy made it to the fireworks
The little entertainer

And master of the fork

Glancing at the sky upon our arrival with a big note of thanks, we quickly settled in with our rock star mini travelers and made friends with my aunt's deck and caught up on new times, the boys immediately taking to the trampoline and wandering her beautiful backyard. Day two meant a mani and pedi get away for me and the sis followed by several trips downtown to beloved haunts and ending the day at a unique and tasty restaurant with the fan. The fourth started with a delicious brunch of secret syrup and catching up with lifelong friends, then enjoying an evening of first time sparklers and gorgeous displays upon hilltops that lit up the sky. Our last full day included Big L's first time at an amusement park complete with a deep dive in the log ride, and ended with a big bash at our aunt's with the chance to share laughter, joy and stories until the night grew a deep navy. Each of these nights also contained some marvel for me, wondering how I got so incredibly lucky to be part of such a loving, fun and truly caring family and finding celebration and joy in each minute of it.

The final morning included the tradition of catching breakfast at Grandma's, the familiarity of the calm pond, same bedspreads, familiar kitchen and smell of toasted bread filling every crevice of my heart. And pulling away? Broad smiles, waves out rolled down windows and intense gratitude and sadness in our departure.

May your fourth be as filled with family, friends food, fun and fireworks as ours. Boom!

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