A few days after Katherine and Sam's wedding in July, my mom flew out from Colorado. Mike and I had been invited up to a lake house with a bunch of friends of ours, and Mike's parents were busy that weekend, so my mom was kind (and brave!) enough to fly out to stay with our three boys while we went and had fun with our friends. We left Friday morning after taking Zach and Drew to vacation Bible school. Jake was sad to see us go, but he got over it. While we were gone, Grandma and the boys went to the zoo, played at a park, went for a bike ride/walk, and did some other stuff. It seems like they all got along just fine. And Mike and I really enjoyed our trip to Clear Lake with our friends BJ & Susan, Katie & Brian, Jaime & Kevin, Jenn & Johnny, Tom & Anna, and Kim & Brent, who hosted.
So part of the plan with my mom flying out was that once Mike and I returned from our weekend with our friends, my mom, the boys, and I would drive to CO for the week, and Mike would fly out at the end of the week to drive home with us. That was kind of a win-win situation. We didn't have to pay for a bunch of expensive plane tickets and a rental car, and I never had to drive all the way with 3 kids and no adult help in the car. Plus, Mike could work almost a full week (he flew out to Denver on Friday morning). We thought about leaving on Monday, but there was a golf tournament that Zach really wanted to play in on Monday, so we decided to leave Tuesday instead. This allowed me time to get some laundry done and get everything packed and ready to go.
Here's Zach before his tournament. Apparently I already wrote about this tournament in a different post, so I don't really need to do it again.
Tuesday morning we were up and out the door by a little before 7:00. I had breakfast ready for the kids to eat in the car. Somehow our drive-to-Colorado breakfast staple has become Honeycombs cereal. I don't buy it any other time, but I feel like it's pretty easy and tasty to eat without milk in the car. Drew and Zach totally associate it with our drives to CO, so I guess I kinda like the idea that when they're grown up, they'll see a Honeycomb box and hopefully be reminded of the fun and exciting drives across Iowa, Nebraska, and eastern Colorado. Good times indeed.
My mom and I made pretty good time. We drove the 2 hours to Omaha and stopped just on the west side at a rest stop so everybody could potty and stretch their legs. Then we put in a movie, and that kept the boys pretty happy until lunch time. We had made lunches, so we ate in the car and when we got to Kearney, which is about the halfway point, we stopped at a park to play on the playground. Once we left the playground it was nap time. We stopped only one more time, in Ft. Morgan, CO, to gas-up and take another potty break. By the end of the drive, Jake was definitely sick of the car. But he found some entertainment in writing on himself with the washable dry-erase crayons I purchased just for the trip.
It was definitely a relief to get to Grandma and Grandpa's house. Tuesday night we just had a casual dinner and got the boys in bed early. Wednesday the boys and I met up with Becky, Cam, and Myles at a big aquatic center near my parents' house. That evening the boys enjoyed some of the original Little Rascals on DVD at my parents' house. This is not a great picture, but I like how it shows all the boys, with Zach and Cam, the two oldest, being sure to nab the comfy seats, while the little boys are stuck on the uncomfortable chairs.
That night I got to meet up with some high school friends. One of them lives in Denver and is expecting her first child, and the other two live far away (NYC and Spain), but just happened to be in town at the same time as me. I was so thankful to get to see them and catch up.
Thursday the 5 little boys, Becky, Grandma and Grandpa, and I went to the Denver Zoo. It's such a good zoo, but almost too big for kids as young as Jake. My favorite moment was when Drew and Jake were on the carousel. Drew was concerned about there not being seat belts, so when I let go of him to put Jake up on his seat, Drew got after me about not letting go of him. Same thing when I took the picture below. As we went around and around, Grandma Ruth was there on the side waving to us. I told Drew to wave, and he said, "No! I can't let go!" Jake, on the other hand, waved every time we passed Grandma in his funny, sideways wave, and kept pushing my hand off the back of him and saying, "No," if I tried to hold on to him.
The zoo has a new elephant exhibit, and it was really cool. We got to see part of an elephant show, which was another favorite part for me.
Mike arrived early Friday morning, and that day we met up with Becky and her boys and some childhood friends of ours, sisters Ange and Adge and their kids. Ange has been one of my best friends for over 30 years, and she has 2 boys that are just a few months younger each than Drew and Jake. Drew was very excited to see Ben, Ange's oldest. Drew was a few minutes late because he had been at the railroad museum with Grandpa Dick, which he enjoyed tremendously. Once he saw Ben at the park, he ran right up to him, said, "Hey, buddy!!" and gave Ben a big hug. Ange and I met when we were a little younger than Drew and Ben, so it's so fun to see our kids enjoying playing together. And Adge (short for Adrienne) and Becky have been friends for the same amount of time as Ange and I have been, but they get to see each other more often since they both live in CO. Adge has 6 month-old twin boys that are just so cute, so it was fun to get to meet them. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures. Dumb move.
We wanted to see Becky and Tom's new house (which is very nice and so spacious!), so Mike and I decided that we would stay there for the last couple of nights of our visit. Friday night we had some yummy pizza and the boys watched a movie. We put Drew to bed on the floor in the room Mike and I were going to sleep in, but when we went to go up to bed, we found him dead asleep on the floor by the stairs. He said the next morning that it was just too dark in the bedroom.
Saturday Becky and I went for a run, and it was great to run with one of my sisters again! I really miss doing that. After breakfast we headed out to a big park where the boys played hard. One of the last things on our summer bucket list was "Go on a hike," and I knew CO was our last chance for that. The park had some trails through a wooded area, so Uncle Tom turned it into a bear hunt, which the boys loved, and they considered it a hike, so we were able to cross that off our list. After a little time in the park's splash pad, Tom went and got McDonald's for all the kids and they enjoyed a picnic.
We got home and got the two little boys in bed for their naps, and suddenly I heard a very familiar sound from my childhood that I knew my boys had never heard before- the ice cream truck!!! I could not resist letting the boys partake in this little piece of Americana (at least that's how I think of it). They thought it was pretty awesome.
Sunday morning we headed out, leaving Becky and Tom's house around 7 or 7:30. Mike and I made even better time than my mom and I did, probably due to the fact that we never stopped at a park to play. In fact, we only stopped twice- once at the rest stop in Julesburg, CO (just inside the CO border) for a potty break, and once for gas and potty breaks later in the day. We did stop to pick up pizza for dinner as we arrived back in our own hometown. We made it home in about 9.5 hours, which rivals the times Mike and I drove that drive before our kids were born. Jake had some moments of definitely frustration in the car, but again, he really did pretty well. Snacks, little toys, things to color on, and VBS songs to dance to helped a ton.
The trip was the perfect end to our summer. The only thing we didn't get done on our bucket list was a trip up to see Anders, Aunt Sandy, and Uncle Will. Hopefully this fall we will get that fit in!