The bond we’ve created over these past couple of months with our children has been more momentous than I even hoped. The last day of our summer together, or as we’re calling it, Chapter 1, we sought out a nice little thrift store that had some of the most fun nostalgia I had seen.
I had a little puppy piggy bank, JUST LIKE this one, with one difference, mine had a little blue tear drop. I have no idea who this character is, but it whooshed me back to nostalgia before I even set foot in the store.
I suggested Ethan try on the bow tie, which always reminds me of his Grandpa Frank. I thought he looked so cute with his hat bow tie.
Joe and Ethan keep watching these Kermit the Frog singing videos (and Toad from Mario singing videos…so obnoxious) and this phone ALMOST found a place in our home because of that.
Then I ran into Care Bears and Polly Pockets merch. Care Bears was when I was little and Polly Pockets reminded me of all the little sets my sisters had. I had forgotten about them! We found a Star Wars set that reminded Eric of his big brother, who was always gentle and respectful of his toys. This set reminded Eric of a Star Wars toy Eric threw on the ground and shattered during a play session as a child, and how devastated his brother was that he was so destructive with that toy.
We were invited to dinner at Joe and Ethan’s Great Aunt and Uncle’s home, which turned out to only be about 8 minutes from where we were staying. I had not seen them in about 8 years, so I was looking forward to catching up.
They warmly opened up their home and gave us a tour of their property. Much of the art adorning their walls were created by their artistic family. Aunt Robyn makes award winning quilts, and she shared a current project she was working on for Joe and Ethan’s Aunt. She also shared images of a project she had created for a couple celebrating their 75th wedding anniversary. Loved ones received plain white tiles of cloth to write a note, then Robyn quilted them into one big love blanket. I think that is possibly one of the most beautiful gifts I have ever heard of.
In the back yard, they had croquet and horseshoes set up and the smell of fresh grilled food and a beautifully set table on the deck felt so cozy summer-y I wanted to squeal.
We met their young chickens, who have their very own chicken swing in their coop, which I loved, and their turkeys, who are only a few weeks away from being ready to process. We LOVED them.
Then we took a gander over to the garden, where they had beautiful organic produce. We were commenting on how much Ethan loves onions, and that he’d eat them like an apple when Uncle Lloyd casually strolled over with Ethan and told him to pull one out. Ethan was elated when he grabbed a perfect onion and Lloyd said it was all his. They did a little wash and cut and Ethan beamed and started his appetizer.
We then went over to the other garden, where there were fresh strawberries ready, Jill’s favorite. She picked a few and cuddled with them until they were washed and then saved them to eat with her dinner.
In the meantime, Joe grabbed a strawberry, did not care about washing it, and ate it before anyone noticed.
Aunt Robyn is a fabulous cook and she made one of the most delicious meals we had for a while. BBQ chickens, organically raised right over in the chicken coop, corn salad, pickled cucumbers and onions, French potatoes, watermelon, and, sticking to the tradition of the area, huckleberry ice cream for dessert. The conversation was delightful, and it was fantastic to catch up with them. Both Joe and Ethan decided they want a property like this when they are older, and want to be self-sustaining and have fresh foods at their fingertips.
Ethan and Joe played a few games of chess while the adults chatted and we played with the super sweet and adorable Golden Retriever, Maddie.
On the way to the airport the next morning, Joe and Ethan had a donut from a little shop hilariously named Gross Donuts. They said they were delicious, so the name is a lie.
We got to the airport and talked about how bittersweet it is for them to be leaving. They are excited to go see their dad, spend time with friends, have unlimited utilities and more space, but they are sad to be leaving our team and hoping not to miss out on too many experiences.
It’ll only be a few weeks, but my heart ached and I could not look away as the plane began its journey with cargo most precious to me.
But the real tear jerker was reading a heart-felt letter I requested Joe and Ethan type, a few weeks earlier, for me to read the day they left. Eric and I sat at a picnic table during sunset at the park we went that night while we talked about how much we miss them already and some of the hilarious memories we are cherishing from Chapter 1. We are so proud of the beautiful hearts of our children and feel blessed beyond words to be theirs.