Our Trek South and Before

Once we had returned from our West coast trip it was full steam ahead in the moving department.  There were parties and farewells, visits, packing, Thing 2's birthday, cleaning, walk throughs, scheduling.  The list goes on and on and I won't bore you with it all.  Needless to say the time we had in Minnesnowta prior to departure was full.  It was bittersweet.  It was good.  

To begin with Thing 4's buddies from his team gathered together to share pizza and an afternoon full of footie.  The sweet Thomson family offered their phenomenal outdoor pizza oven and we feasted and swapped stories about the last four years on the sidelines.  Yes, our boys have played together since our arrival in the state.  They've gone from young boys to young men.  Our time with these families captured some of our fondest memories.  Thing 4 was honored that they would give him such a send off.  

Mike manning the pizza oven.  He worked so hard, cooking over 8 pizzas for us all.  Not to mention it was a steamy summer day and that oven is over 700 degrees.  

Pizza and food prep in the kitchen.  Notice all the Mamas and Thing 3, right in the mix.  

The boys.

Another farewell field trip to the lake and park and Yo-Yo donuts with Mama Stinson and her five.  The boys ran around and the girls did too.  Thing 4 dazzled the Stinson boys with his instructional showing of how to whip and nae nae.  Changing lives for the better people with quality dancing, that's our motto.  What's a five year old to do if he doesn't know those moves?  As for the matriarchs, Mama Stinson and me, we sat and drank our coffee and talked with the littlest Stinson and reminisced.  It was another good day.  

Tire swing.

Thing 2 and Micheal warming up, we chose a chilly Friday for our lake day.

This wasn't necessarily the same day but the same kiddos.  Taken right before Thing 1 left for Seattle.  That's a lot of childrens.  It is also the only picture I have of them sitting still and smiling.  All the others have goofy faces, kids, mine being the biggest culprits, rolling on the grass, climbing trees, making silly faces.   Being kids.  And I love them. 

There was also one last date night with these two.  We laughed way too much, as if that was possible and talked about their future trips to Nashville to visit us.  It was spontaneous and fun and man oh man do I miss them.  Just another gift in the weeks of lasts and see you laters.  

Pig Ate My Pizza, the girls.

Pig Ate My Pizza, the guys.  

In the midst of packing our friends, the same ones pictured above, invited us over for dinner so as to avoid another meal out and spend some time together.  We took them up on their offer with out thought and left the boxes behind.  The Things ran around, took photos, lounged in the Eno and played outside on what was a perfect summer's night.  Us adults sat around the table and talked, ate delicious food and reminisced about the last four years and just how good our God is.  Just as we were about to venture outside to the fire I was surprised with ladies from book club.  I don't have the words to adequately describe just how much this meant to me.  Two from our group showed up with presies and unending hugs.  And I must say, those Stinson kiddos above made me such a thoughtful present; Each of their hand prints stamped on to a canvas with hand written memories surrounding.  I'm thinking they might have had their Mama's help on this one.  Do I even need to tell you how I cried when they presented it to me? 

Yep, that's us.  Well, some of us.  Laughing, cracking jokes and crying.  All at the same time.
These ladies  gave me a proper paella set with pan, rice and even a cookbook.  I can not wait to give it a go.  Every time I use it I will think of our little "club" and the stories we shared around the table.

Packing day.  Boxes were everywhere, Things were everywhere, my brain scattered and my emotions a roller coaster.  I tried not to watch and to make myself scarce.  Still, the day marked a new chapter of our journey and it had to be documented.  

Husband Jared and I were frantically racing around the morning that the packers showed up,  removing nails, screws, lights and yes, even posters that had been stapled into the wall.   In the frenetic pace he stepped off of Thing 2's bed and onto an electrical plug that he had to pull out of the bottom of his foot.  Ewww and gross and all the twisty faces on that one.  At the time he would not let me take him to the emergency room, too much to do he told me, but later that night when we returned to the hotel and I took a look at the damage I forced him into the car and off we went.  Thankfully there were no foreign objects in his foot and no broken or fractured bones.  He did have the wound cleaned and bandaged with instructions to stay off his feet for a few days and take it easy.  Ha, if they only knew! 

The next day was loading day.  It was an early morning and a long day watching as our life for the past four years was loaded into a truck.  Thankfully we had a sweet distraction when our dear friends came for a visit and brought us lunch.  We sat again at the table like we had so many times before only this time felt different.  Significant in a new way.  And we finally took a picture of the four of us together, something we hadn't managed to do in all the time we had spent together before.  

All the Things had last hoorahs and surprise parties with friends and last visits and coffees and bike rides and so on.  They were not all documented photographically but in their hearts for certain.  So many people in Minnesnowta that have had life changing effects on them and our family.  

Our last Sunday in the great white North was launch day for Turning Point Church.  The Brown family planted this church in Chanhassen and we have been fortunate enough to witness it's birth and development and then it's very first Sunday service.  I am moved to tears quite often in church but I tell you friends I have not felt the spirit so tangibly present in a long time.  Watching the launch team come together and set up, serve with smiles and cover every aspect of the day, the building, the people, our pastor, his family, EVERYTHING, in prayer was moving.  Moreover seeing all the words play out in action was kingdom building.  True.  These people are the real deal and they shared that with each and every person that walked through the doors that Sunday morning.  The gift of being a small part in this story was so sweet for our entire family.  And after some rest and last minute run arounds we shared another meal with the Brown family trying to prolong our see you later for as long as humanly possible.  

Pastor Brown praying.

Things 3 and 4 missed the leg kick memo, the others are on point!

Celebratory dinner at Burger Jones with the Brown family.  We love cheese curds.  I felt that was necessary to add.  I could have said,  we love the Brown family, but that goes without saying.

On the road again, (maybe that should be our family theme song).  Not before one last breakfast with Thing 2 and Thing 3's friends, each at different locations.  A last visit to Best Buy Corporate office  for Husband Jared to turn in his computer, etc.,  a parking lot visit from more friends who delivered some delicious sugary goods for our drive and then we had to pick up Polo from the kennel where he stayed while the packing was done.  After all the hugs and pictures and waving and crying and silence in the car because we were all too spent to talk, then we drove the fourteen hours South in two days with an over night stay in St. Louis.  Girls and Polo in Sven, boys and luggage in Betsy.  Things and cars alike were troopers and parents, well we were exhausted, emotionally and physically.  Thankfully we love road trips and we love each other.

Girl car + Polo = Team Sven.  

Boy car + luggage = Team Betsy.

Polo's first elevator ride and my attempt to document the occasion.  You could have referred to us as the Clampetts this particular evening; Arriving at a swanky downtown hotel with five people, five oversized suitcases, one mutt and two tired and worn vehicles.  Quite a sight, I am sure.  

A good night's rest was in order and then only five more hours of drive time.  We were almost there.  Meanwhile, Polo was living the dream.  Puffy hotel pillows and down blankets, what more could he have possibly asked for?  Oh, doing some business in the hotel hallway, with business guests passing by, yes, by all means Polo, wherever you please.  Never a dull moment.  

The three traveling Things and their mutt, taking in the grandeur of what was Union Station in St Louis.  Now it lives on as a Hilton hotel.  

Those last five hours were rough.  Too many pee stops to recall, antsy children and parents alike, rush hour traffic.  So close, but yet so far.  All the road trip metaphors rolled into less than half a day.  Yet we made it.  Rolled into the corporate housing a little weary but no worse for the wear.  We had arrived.  Our GPS, Lindsay, told us so.  All the fist bumps and clapping hands were distributed and then we got about the business of making ourselves feel at home.  Temporarily of course.  The days ahead were destined to be full of house hunting, school visiting, training and traveling for Husband Jared and reuniting with family and friends.  Updates to come, for now I leave you with this.  Sibling bonding at it's finest with mud masques from the Dead Sea, given to these three by Thing 1.  Believe it or not, they do have my whole heart.  This little show was good for our souls after two days of emotional rollercoaster riding.  Laughing always is the best remedy.  Or at least it was for us on our first night in Tennessee...Round two.  

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