Thing 1 is long gone and has been experiencing life on her own for a few weeks now (again) and I am just going to post on our family togetherness while she was here. You know this is all about firsts. Our first child leaving home. The first time she wasn't here for Thanksgiving. The first time she left again. You catch what I'm saying. And then just this past week after about two weeks of limited contact with Thing 1 the other two girly Things headed off to Minnesota where there were even fewer texts and pictures and such otherwise known as communication. I'll stop pouting and get over myself. It is only that this Mama's heart sometimes can't make sense of all this growing and changing and independence taking place here. And when I say that out loud I can imagine the eye rolls and head shaking on the other end. This is the design though, right? Growing up, learning, creating life experiences of one's own, gaining wisdom, making mistakes, dealing with consequences. We are in the thick of it around here. How about we pause and remember a couple of weeks where we just were. Where pajamas reigned as the outfit of choice and the biggest decision we made was what Netflix show we were going to watch, what kind of cookies we were making and whether or not we were playing cards or a board game after dinner. Yes please.
That is what our in-between week was. Well sorta. There was still work to be done, for some of us, and chores and laundry and all that but we sure tried our best to maximize our time together. We celebrated birthdays, we hiked, we picnicked, we read, shopped and dined and lounged. And here are photos from it all.
The weather was unseasonably warm here for Christmas. In fact despite the rain and gloomy clouds we were in short sleeves and even shorts for a hike we took at Radnor Lake. We walked around the lake, asked the ranger questions, stopped to look at trees and turtles and laughed our way through the trail. Bigs and littles alike. And after we picnicked in the parking lot. No really, we sat in the parking lot with the tailgate open and ate our lunch. It was a good afternoon. We spent the remainder of the afternoon playing footie at the park and eating pizza for dinner. To say it was a good day would not do it justice. The entire day was so much better than that. I forgot to mention that we started the day off with a trip to The Barista Parlor. Husband Jared had met the owner of said coffee shop in his store and it had been on our list to check out so that is just what we did. An old grease garage turned coffee house, yes please. I'll take that any day. There was vinyl spinning, scientific coffee brewing contraptions and a diverse customer base all enjoying their beans. The sign had me and the makeshift stage, dreamy, which I am certain hosts all manner of musicians, poets and artists when the weather is just right. We will be back for sure.
After hike tailgating?
Horels and Hansons.
Cousins skipping rocks.
Dance Party 101.
For Christmas this year the Things were surprised with a day of zip lining with Uncle Jeff and Aunt Natalie. They were whisked away in the afternoon, bundled up and then given clues for their gift. It didn't take them long to figure out where they were headed. I had the privilege of spending the afternoon with Autumn and Gemma. We explored a new park, had arts and craft time, drank hot chocolate and giggled the entire time. The Things soared above the tree lines and then were treated to a delicious dinner of wood fired pizza. Which of course they shared with us upon their arrival home, along with the tastiest cannolis I've had, next to mine of course. I'd say zip lining for the win!
Thing 4 and Uncle Jeff.
Aunt Natalie and the girl Things.
My hot chocolate dates. With marshmallows and whipped cream.
Mema and Thing 1 had a date at the REI garage sale and Thing 2 and I tagged along for fun. We weren't quite prepared for the experience that awaited us. A line wrapping around the building and people camped out with blankets and coffee and lists and backpacks. We learned so much about the way to have a successful garage sale experience and we will most certainly be back for the Spring sale. Thing 1 scored the shoes she had been hoping for, a yoga mat and some other backpacking supplies and necessities. Thing 2 found herself a winter coat for her upcoming Germany school experience. And Mema and I held clothes and gear and were on the support team. Then it was off to breakfast and an afternoon nap for us before birthday celebrations that evening for Thing 1. We couldn't send her off to Seattle without first throwing her a family birthday bash. Good, I knew you'd agree. The dinner menu was all her choosing and chocolate cake and frosting her choice for dessert. There were decorations and plates and candles and birthday banners adorning the dining room and all of us gathered round to show her just how much we love her.
Thing 1's loot.
Smelling birthday cards made with scented markers.
Make a wish.
The remaining few days found us soaking in each other's company. A couple days off for Husband Jared and time around the table and hunkered down close. We held our annual goal setting and reflection of the year past discussion over a long and slow breakfast. Then there was the frigid afternoon hike and one more lunch at Chick Fil A. Yikes. I couldn't think of a better way to spend our last day together though, despite the icicles that formed on our eyebrows while hiking through Natchez.
Reflecting and looking forward. 2016.
Swinging vines on our hike.
Family selfie for the win!
All that to say, it was full, overflowing with joy and sweet time together as six. Now onto 2016.