The latter part of May and the first half of June had our little house humming with houseguests and visitors alike. It all began with Nani. She came out ahead of Poppi and we spent a few days practicing yoga, visiting coffee shops, preparing for the grad party, celebrating Grandpa Ron's birthday with a cookout at the pond and watching some footie.
Coffee shop stop #1.
3 v. 3 Tournament
Grandpa Ron and Autumn on the dock.
Then Poppi arrived and more fun was to be had. We planned a canoe trip on the Harpeth River. Poppi helped with the party planning. We had our end of the school year ice cream party too. Then the Stuck Family arrived and the Olivitos, both the Greats and Uncle Tony and Jen.
Poppi doesn't want to believe that she is 16 years old and can feed herself.
Let's take a look at our day on the river first. The Things discovered a rope swing and we made a u-turn in order to take a go at it. We also witnessed a herd of cows making their way to the water for a drink and cool down. It might have been a bit unnerving to have these massive creatures so very close to us while we were in a flotation device that was easily tipped.
See what I mean? Close. So very close.
Rope Swing 101- Poppi even saved a little girl from sliding down the little hill. She was frightened and unsure about the swing and when she changed her mind, Poppi was there to catch her. What a guy!
Leaders of the pack.
Before the adventure.
Our river crew!
We found a shore line area and parked our water vehicles for lunch and some exploring. Then on to the finish line, if you will. It was a fun day, a perfectly Southern summer day.
With the family's arrival we spent the day preparing homemade pasta, sauce and readying the house for our influx of house guests. First up, Jen, Tony and Tucker, Grandpa Sam and Grandma Sharon. We sat around the table that night in our usual manner, toasting and praying and thanking God for this wild gift of family He's given to us. Thing 2 arrived home to hoots and hollers, after all, they all made the trek to TN to celebrate her. It was quite the reception.
Dinner table shenanigans!
The next day was the Farmer's market, donuts for breakfast and a field trip to Olive and Sinclair, a local chocolatier in Nashy. We had a tour of the factory and the best part, we were able to taste their creations. Everyone went home with some yummy treats! We were quite a sight to behold, I'm sure. Then on to another favorite place to nosh, Edley's on 12th Ave. South. Yes please! Proper Southern BBQ was enjoyed by all. Home for more party preparations and cuban sandwiches for dinner. Oh, how could I forget, in between all that we took a trip to the airport to pick up the Stuck family! Our table was particularly full that night, just the way I like it. Everyone ate and laughed and then we all decorated with the grad. Party day was only one sleep away!
Coffee at our fav, Honest, after the farmers market.
Chocolate tour group.
Magic show at Edleys, following Olive and Sinclair.
Graduation Fiesta day had arrived! It was all hands on deck in order to ready ourselves for the open house that awaited us. The piñata was hung, banners waving and cacti ready for their appearance. And our sweet graduate was ready to greet all her guests. We couldn't have asked for better weather, well maybe a tad cooler would have been helpful, the popsicles stayed frozen though so that was a bonus! Friends and family alike congratulated and loved on our girl, stopping briefly for a photo opp in our booth, complete with props! Fun was had by all. Our girl was the star of the show and even sweeter was our impromptu family cook out that evening. The weather cooled for us, Husband Jared grilled and we all sat soaking in each other's presence. At the end of the meal we went around and shared a blessing or wish for Thing 2. Listening to the words spoken over her, the encouragement, the love, the affirmation, I was reminded once again of the power our words hold. No doubt Thing 2 will carry that memory with her and call on that love as she journeys on.
Party day prep and bubble distraction for our littlest guests.
All hands on deck and ready to help!
Party table prep.
Thing 2, Autumn, Gianna, Gemma and Olivia, incognito.
Thing 2 and Madison, these girls have been friends for 10 years, sweetness.
Thing 2 with Poppi and Nana, some of her biggest fans!
We were all in need of a recovery day following our night of celebratory activities. Monday was slow and easy. A little boot shopping for our California visitors, lunch at Mitchell's Deli and farewells and see you laters said to the the Olivitos.
Nani had requested a family photo session with all her grandkiddos so that afternoon we all got gussied up and made our way to Harlinsdale farm in Franklin; A historic horse farm that provided the most picturesque back drops. The littles cooperated briefly and a few magical snapshots were captured. Poppi bribed us all with the promise of Mellow Mushroom and Sweet Ce Ce's for dessert. What more could we have asked for? While my Things are all big and silly and jumping on each other's backs and doing back flips off the rocks my nieces, Gianna and Olivia, posed sweetly, holding hands and smiling and tossing their hair in the wind. How contradictory and yet beautiful are the seasons of life? One of my favorite photos from the day was Thing 4 tossing his cousin in the air. You can almost hear the squeals of delight in their smiles. Precious. That's what that is.
I can't even remember how our last day as 12 was spent. I am positive that it was good and loud and full of cheer. Until the airport trip arrived, anyways. Like I've said before, Poppi and airports do not mix. Next time an Uber or Lyft for him?! My goodness, how could I have forgotten. We went to the Grand Ol' Opry, woo hoo! But first we went out to a fancy grown up dinner. That was fun! On to the Opry, and tourists and tour buses and crazy fans, and screaming girls. Weird. Although, the history surrounding the place is quite significant and the stage and those that have graced it, impressive. My favorite performer of the night was Chris Jensen. Who knew? He shared his story and sang his songs and I was all googly eyed and teary. I can not even tell you the last time I stayed up this late, it was well past midnight when we arrived home. Party animals. That's what we are. And any of you that know me are laughing right now! Anyhow, that was the last night together. My big Things watched their little cousins and had a ball. Just a little side note there for you. Then we all woke up way too early and began the celebration for Olivia's birthday. Donuts and donut shop coffee, courtesy of Poppi and Uncle Jason, lunch at Chick Fil A and pajammies at the house. It was a good birthday filled with all of her favorites! Back to the airport. Which means you can feel free to insert the tears here. We were thankful for the time together and thankful that we had the Stuck four for a little while longer.
Birthday donuts and presents for the birthday girl!
The birthday girl!
Grown up night at the Opry!
Target- somethings never change!
First meat and three experience for the Stucks!
Our days with them were spent exploring. Hunting for crawfish in the stream. Visiting the park. Eating yummy food. Playing in the back yard and catching fire flies. Oh and we had a day trip to the First art museum where there was an Italian car show happening. Thing 4 was in his element. Inspecting the vehicles, spouting off random details and facts and talking paint and speed and all that car talk with Uncle J. We spent an evening picnicking at Arrington Vineyards. Running in the grape vines, rolling down the hills and listening to music. There was a Sunday morning church service and Pharmacy Burger for lunch, more running wild and exploring and snuggling and playing all manner of games. I can not even tell you the joy that filled our home having those little girls with us. Seashells became telephones, baskets were hiding spots and blankets turned into forts. Is there anything more breathtaking than watching a child's imagination at work? And then when its a teenage child getting in on the action. Whew! I just love it. Our last morning together was Husband Jared's birthday. There was one last meal around the table, breakfast of course. Highs and lows of our time together, singing happy birthday to Uncle Jared and writing on the table. That brought our week together to an end. Let's not even mention the airport again. My heart can't take it. Especially when I don't have an airline ticket booked for the next visit. Too much emotion. Moving on.
Ellie's Donuts at Franklin Farmers market
Painting at The Frist Art museum
Sprinkler in the backyard
Life imitating art
Prayer wall at Philanthropy in downtown Franklin
Family sundaes at the table
After church lunch at the Pharmacy
Leaving their mark on our table
That was our June. Or at least the first half. I'll continue with Husband Jared's birthday and the Strand family arrival. Birthdays. I love birthdays. Mine, yours, complete strangers. What better reason to celebrate than being alive? So, of course we celebrated Husband Jared's day with all his favorites. Family dinner and chocolate-chocolate cake, singing and all the fan fare we could muster. Which really is not his favorite but what can I say? We showered him with presents and almost blinded him with the candles. I think he liked it in the end.
New shaving gear.
Singing the happy birthday song to Uncle Jared.
Birthday cake, always chocolate, always.
We moved quickly on to packing up Thing 3 for her trip with Royal Servants and prepping for mine and Thing 2's trip to Israel. All of us left the same morning so thankfully Husband Jared needed to only make one trip to Nashy. Thing 3 was off for 8 weeks, ouch. It snuck up on me and I wasn't the least bit prepared for another goodbye, even if I did have her return date on the calendar. We prayed her off the night before and she couldn't have been more ready, this time for her leadership role on the Nehemiah Team. A total honor! Thing 2 and I met up with the Minnesota Grace Church group in NYC and then it was off to Tel Aviv for us. More on that trip later. There was so much to process and take in. I'm still not sure I've quite wrapped my head around the place we call Israel.
Early morning flight out.
The packing, the prep work, all the zippies.
While we were away, Husband Jared, Thing 1 and Thing 4 were at home to greet the Strand family. They flew in from CA for summer vacay! There were fishing days and cook outs and cousin fun had before Thing 1 flew to MN for a visit with her friends. Wowsa, my brain hurts as I'm typing this. June was a whirlwind. In all the best ways and the most exhausting. The good type of tired. From when you've had too much fun. Or ate too much cake. Or stayed up too late talking and forgot to even look at the clock. That kind of tired.
Strand-Hanson fishing expedition at Gpa and Mema's house! Welcome to TN Strand family!
With that I will end. What a glimpse into our month. Almost as if we had a peep hole in the dining room and you were right there with us for it all. All the family. All the friends. All the celebrations and toasts and prayers. The packing and preparing and hugging and snuggling. Next time join us. There's always room for more.