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Ready for a good time.

Usually, we have family visit several times a year but with Covid-19, it’s been crammed together and in some instances, overlapping. Right as Jack’s mom and sister were getting ready to leave, my parents, brother, and his kids showed up. It was a little tight for a night but the kids are always up for camping, even if it’s only in the backyard.
We wasted no time getting started having a good time. While my dad spun around on the mower, our neighbor came over and dug out a beach, removed a juniper tree, and leveled out part of our yard. If you’ve never watched a kid watching heavy machinery, you’ve never seen sheer happiness.
Part of the original purpose of my family coming when they did was to watch our kids so Jack and I could take a quick jaunt over to a friend’s baby shower buuuuuuut…Covid. So, we had a wonderful, incredibly organized baby shower via Zoom. It was so fun to see everyone and celebrate the pending arrival of their new baby.
One of our favorite things to do on a hot summer evening is to go into town for slushies. Everyone got to choose their own, which is guaranteed to make any of our kids happy. Usually, we eat in the car on the way home but this time, we stopped at our church building to slurp down our treats…
…then played a very competitive game of hacky sack. My brother, Jay, is way good at it and showed the kids some moves, which they didn’t exactly master but had a fun time trying to do (then laughing at themselves when they couldn’t). I used to play more when I was in high school and college but had kind of forgotten about the game altogether. It was fun to pick it up again. Sort of. I still am not that good at it. 😂
We all spent plenty of time in the pond and the hot tub because if there’s one thing we enjoy, it’s aquatic recreation. I spend a lot of time lifeguarding from the shore but I honestly don’t mind–I love seeing everyone have a good time as they bob around, invent their own games, and race each other around. It’s guaranteed to cool everyone off and everyone sleeps like a rock on the days we swam.
Um…that’s sorta how a life jacket goes.
Like our previous family visits, we spent a good portion of our time hanging out around home. There’s always enough to do on the farm to keep kids happy but we also enjoy showing our Nebraska family around Indiana. Since we wanted to avoid going into Indy where the coronavirus has been hitting the hardest, we stuck to visiting outdoorsy places. We’d discovered a neat pool area at the Cascade falls when Jack’s mom and sister visited, so we revisited with my family, only toting our canoe along with us.
Jack and Jay took turns taking the kids on a tour of the lower falls (they even stopped and picked up the trash other people had left when they’d been out fishing). The water itself was warm-ish but it was hilarious to hear the kids scream when they went under the waterfall. It was colder than they’d expected and the Bat Cave wasn’t behind the waterfalls as they’d suspected.
Between going out in the canoe, they swam and/or buried each other in the sand. Is there anything else a kid could want on a summer afternoon?
The next day, we took everyone hiking. My kids are split between grumbling about having to go and being so excited they risk hyperventilating. Funny enough, the kids who complain quickly forget about it when we start walking. There are too much to see and too many stories about past trips to complain for long.
We decided on a fairly easy hike down to Rock Shelter. The first time we’d attempted it with my parents last October, it got dark before we were able to make it to the end. Going right after lunch, there was plenty of time to stroll all the way there and enjoy the sights along the way.
One of the highlights was the black lagoon that’s about halfway to the rock shelter. When we passed it when Jenny and Jordan visited, there were millions–millions–of itty bitty tadpoles. By the time we passed it again, they were all itty bitty frogs and holy moly, they were CUTE.
We made it all the way to the rock shelter, stopped to have a snack, explore, listen to our voices echo off the rock, then headed back. I know our kids can make it all the way there and back on their own two feet but they’re also not stupid. When they saw that grandparents, parents, or older siblings were willing to carry them, they went for it. Can’t say I blame them.
I’m always a little envious when Peter’s able to zonk out in his carrier right around the time I’m starting to get tired of carrying him.
It’d been a couple of years since we’d gone down to Marengo Caves in southern Indiana, so it was another stop on our trip. Though it’s a cave, it’s pretty darn massive and since we were able to go on a weekday, there was hardly anyone else still there. It was practically our own private tour.
We threw coins into the ceiling, listened to interesting facts about the cave (apparently there’s a third level to the cave that’s only reachable by spelunking but once you get to it, is 60 feet high and the length of three football fields 😲), and admired the incredible mineral formations.
Aaaaaand, we played with the resident bobtailed tomcat. Because, you know, we can’t not play with animals when we see them and they’re friendly.
Between all the fun we were having, we did spend one day at home so I could get caught up on laundry, cleaning, and other farm chores. Jack took Jay and the kids into the forest, and they said hello to the cows on the way out. Daisy was particularly smitten with Jay.
We made enough homemade donuts to feed a small army and in enough varieties that it was almost mind-boggling. Somehow, we managed to eat them all in a day, though. Just as well. Don’t want those things sitting around tempting me.
Peter also got his first haircut. I wanted to wait for the grandmas to see him one last time with his mop of baby hair before I shaved it all off. It’s always interesting to me to see how kids react to their first haircut–Henry thought it was hilarious the first time but between two and three, he decidedly was against buzzing his hair. Peter? He sat like a perfect gentleman, with a tiny smirk on his face the entire time. The result was absolute adorableness.
The rest of the day was spent in sheer laziness: swimming, playing video games, swinging outside. Sometimes, those are my most favorite days where the pace of life seems sustainable and utterly perfect.
The last full day of their visit, we cranked up the fun again. We threw the canoe back on top of the car and drove down the Lake Monroe where we swam and canoed and played in the sand until we were crisp and exhausted.
Right before we left for home, Jack went out in the water and taught each of the kids how to launch off his shoulders. Claire put her gymnastics skills to use and got some pretty impressive air before bellyflopping in the lake.
After dinner, we tacked up Stoney and took turns walking him around. He’s such a good old boy, reliable and perfect for first-timers or anyone who’s nervous. Tuck took one turn and was done but Juniper is a girl after my own heart–she could have ridden around and around until it was time to go home.
Stoney was rewarded with lots of praise and a couple of carrots before he was doused with fly spray and sent back out to the pasture with Dancer. He really does live a perfect retirement.
Most nights, we’d get the kids to bed on time, then we’d stay up later than we should playing Jackbox TV, pool, or watching something funny. Jay always beat me and Jack at pool, unless it was a technicality, but I’m past the age of caring about whether or not I win or lose and have learned (for the most part) to just enjoy the game.
Then, like it always does, the morning came that we had to say our goodbyes. My mom cried because she’s a grandma, Henry gave everyone his (in)famous, bone-crushing monkey hugs…
…and we kept with tradition in chasing them down the driveway to wish them well as they drove off. It wasn’t so bad though since we were planning our own trip to Nebraska over the fourth of July.
Plus, we had an epic mound of bedding to wash, so we certainly weren’t bored. 😂 All-in-all, the end of May all the way through the end of June was an especially blessed and happy time. Our waistlines suffered, we were exhausted, our billfolds were a little slimmer but it was all so, so worth it. Yay for family visits and the special memories that will remind us 2020 hasn’t been all bad.

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True stories of raising children, remodeling, braving the elements and plotting out life, all while living on a humble acreage in central Indiana.

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