We were so blessed to have time with cousins this trip. My sister's daughter, my cousin's sons, and Dan's brother's boys...it was the most precious time, magical in the alchemy of the particular kids involved and maybe the ages they are just now...
Saturday we had a potluck at my grandfather's house, and after filling ourselves with ridiculous amounts of potato salad and brats (we were in Wisconsin, remember?), we traipsed the kids down the hill to the park I've been visiting since I was their age.
Our last night there was spent at the park we hosted a "variety show" at the night before our wedding (ten years ago). The view of the rolling fields in the evening time is beautiful...and the company was wonderful. More cousins, grandparents, and my dad and Gramma Liz came, both to say goodbye and to celebrate Dan's birthday!
Dan and my Dad
It is always hard to say goodbye...these are kids I want my kids growing up with, having more than memories of week-long visits once a year. Must work on that...
But it is always good to get home. Our long road trips seem to be getting easier and easier, which is kind of amazing. This one is pretty consistently 11 hours long, and we get through it on good snacks, empty sketch pads and good audio books. This trip we listened to Sterling North's Rascal, about a boy living in Wisconsin in 1917 or so, and his pet raccoon, for whom the book is named. It is a story full of humor, and wonderful descriptions of what it was to be a child running free in the Wisconsin countryside at that time, fishing for trout and building canoes. I was sad to have it end.
Settling in has meant trips to the garden to battle weeds and rescue tomatoes and hot wax peppers and say a little prayer for the squash (oh please make it! please!); visiting the farmer's market for what we can't grow - the peaches aren't done yet! YAY!!!!; tromping in some favorite places...which I'll share in tomorrow's post.
To finish, here is what Eliza spent quite a bit of time doing our first day back:
I will have to take some better pictures at a later date, but she was very much set on making a map of our neighborhood. This led to looking at how other maps are arranged, what kinds of keys are used to make making the map easier, and how to pick and choose what you show on the map. She is working out perspective in many of her drawings (thanks Uncle Spoons for pointing that out!), and it was fascinating to watch her work it out here in her buildings. She wanted me nearby for "help" but really, I just anchored the project with a little narrative of what appeared at the end of her pencil...she located us right here at home.