It has been over a month since we were in the mid-west, so this for sure won't be a play by play. Plus, Tyson will soon be writing an account of our time with Darin's family. I just want to write some thoughts down for my own sake :)
We left Michigan, spent time with the Van Gilder family and swung up north to visit with Oarabile and her lovely fam. Then we were on our way down to southwestern Minnesota; Edgerton to be precise. I remember when Darin and I first started dating and I found out he was from a small town. "How quaint", I thought. Then I visited Edgerton and thought "Hmm, other than all the Dutch and Christian Reformed Stuff, this is so NOT like the places where I grew up". Now, after several years of marriage, several visits to Edgerton and having my own children, I arrive in Edgerton and think "Finally, we are here in this little spot that feels like the kind of home I always wanted". Small town life is awesome. We arrived late at night and our kids hopped on bikes and disappeared. This would not have happened where I grew up in Oregon or California, either because of busy roads or "dangerous elements".
Visiting Darin's family means we travel across state lines quite often. Daci lives in Minnesota, about 20 minutes from Darin's folks; Evan lives in South Dakota, about an hour from Edgerton and LaShawn lives in Sioux Center, Iowa, an hour and half away. Having family spread out that way leads to a lot of car rides, a lot of kid swapping and sleep overs and a lot of "Hey, did we leave a pair of shoes at your house?" queries. We loved spending time with each of Darin's siblings, seeing their houses, being fed by them, watching our kids play with their cousins, all of it was fun.
In Sioux Center, we spent the night at LaShawn's. We also got dental check-ups and after 3 years between dentists, there was only a total of 4 cavities! Two for me and two for Darin. Awesome. We loved hanging out with Kyle and LaShawn and their kids. Jori even got to attend Nevaeh's 10th birthday party, which was super special as these are the kind of events we miss being a part of. LaShawn also took the kids to a candy parade in a local town and they all came home with loads of sweets! While we love being all together with Darin's family, there is something special about the one on one times as well, with the talking and catching up on life over the past 3 years.
We took a side trip on our way home from Sioux Center and went to Sheldon, Iowa to catch up with the Schemper family. Tami is my friend from high school and Tyler is Darin's friend from college, so we all enjoy catching up with each other. Jori and Mollie are the same age and after a little bit of feeling each other out, they ran off like best buds and Tyson and Cody bonded over Lego's and guns. Annie was the typical left out middle child (love her) and Emmie was the typical baby, making us laugh and entertaining us by being cute. The kids were overjoyed to ride on a 4 wheeler and gator and Tami and I were happy to just talk, while Darin chatted with Tyler when he wasn't busy working and kept the kids from speeding. Catching up with old friends is always a blessing; seeing your families become friends is something even greater.
La Shawn and her kids ended up camping at the local park in Edgerton, which made it a lot easier to spend more time with them. It also meant some marshmallow roasting fun and kids playing tag in the dark. We are glad they would give up many of the comforts of home to be closer to us :)
We celebrated Darin's Grandma and Grandpa's 40th anniversary. This was another special event we were able to be a part of. This was also a great time for us to catch up with aunts and uncles and cousins as we all shared a meal together. Darin and I also were able to share with the church about our work in South Africa that Sunday morning. Later that day we took family pictures--always an experience with so many children and sweaty adults!
We also spent some time out at Daci and Justin's farm, which both kids loved. Tyson helped Justin with cows, shot an air soft gun and drove a rover and Jori rode horse as much as possible. We also saw and held baby goats at a neighbor and "helped" move cows to a new pen. We were not that much help, but we are great at standing where we are told.
We had a large family chiropractic care session, a group session if you will. Evan's wife, Jordan, recently opened her own chiropractor practice in Sioux Falls (shout out to 605 Chiropractic and Wellness) and we all went for adjustments. It was fun seeing the little cousins and Grandma Karen get adjusted and we all loved laying on the massaging roller table. We also celebrated the grand opening and official ribbon cutting with Jordan and Evan and baby Reid. Another special moment we were able to be a part of.
We also spent a day all together at the lake. There was boating and tubing and skiing and swimming and eating on repeat all day long. My favorite part was going tubing with Daci, LaShawn and Jordan- spending time as sisters just having fun. Our bodies may have been a bit sore the next day, but we laughed and laughed and laughed, making it all worth it!
Of course, there are also lots of special moments that happened right in Edgerton too. We enjoyed bakery rolls, snicker bar salad, pineapple pretzel dessert and more. It wasn't all about the food though. There was a steady stream of cousins running in and out of the house, playing games, riding bikes and getting to know each other again. There were motorcycle rides, bike rides and long walks. We also enjoyed the Dutch Festival with swimming contests at the pool, the parade and bull riding. Darin and I were able to spend a few hours with his Grandma and Grandpa, seeing where they live now, having a snack in the game room and talking about life now and memories from a while ago, like Darin helping his Grandpa throw bales of hay.
I am sure I am missing lot of other special moments. The best parts were just being with family. Grandpa Rick and Grandma Karen and Israel; LaShawn, Kyle, Kaden, Vaeh and Brynlee; Daci, Justin, Brooklynn, Makenna, Zachary and Tage; Evan, Jordan and Reid; Grandma and Grandpa Van and too many aunts and uncles and cousins to name!
On our last Sunday in Edgerton, Darin and the kids loaded into the suburban with Darin's parents, his brother and 2 nieces and headed off to the Gorter Family reunion. I have Jori working on a report about that as I wasn't there. I left later that day for the airport and made my way to Oregon to be with my family after Sawyer's accident. I have heard a lot and know that I missed out on a lot of fun and memories, but I am so blessed that the rest of my family was able to soak in even more family time!
I am posting this now, without pictures, as they are on another computer and I need to do the whole transfer over procedure at some point. They will come!