We boarded a plane bound for the great midwest a week ago and after the longest-ever four-hour flight, we landed in Minnesota for a happy reunion with the Schnell clan. It was 10 pm when we rolled up to Shane’s parents’ house, so we tucked in a tuckered-out girl, did a little catchup with the family, and then fell into bed ourselves, exhausted but relieved to have made it through the journey with only minimal tears (alright, in truth, Jules cried a lot…but I only cried a little!).
After a Friday morning run into town to pick up a few essentials, we spent some time meeting the next door neighbors and Shane’s mom and dad’s new house.
We went for a walk down the dirt road at the end of their driveway and Jules found a mud puddle she couldn’t resist. I didn’t have any napkins or wipes on me, so Shane showed her how to wipe her hands on the grass.
She thought this was a pretty great trick.
Shane’s sister and nephew came by later that afternoon – Avery warmed up to his uncle the moment Shane offered to toss the football around with him.
Shane’s dad thought Jules would love checking out his tractor, so we all walked down the road to his shop that evening.
She was a little skeptical when we first put her in there…
But then Denny fired that thing up and let her hold the steering wheel – she loves being in the drivers seat.
She looked on a little enviously when it was Avery’s turn to take it for a spin.
Our nieces and brother-in-law joined us that evening – felt so good to have the whole gang together!
Shanay and Hayden were incredibly sweet to Juliette, doting on her, hugging her and reading to her and letting her play with their phones – this girl was in cousin heaven.
We feasted on burgers and steaks hot off the grill for dinner and crashed hard that night, still a little weary from the previous day’s travel.
On Saturday morning we headed over to Hayden’s school to watch her softball tournament. It was drizzly and a bit chilly that morning, but Juliette was happy to hang out in the rain and cheer on her cousin. Getting to sit in the dugout was a major bonus.
Shane and I left Juliette with Grandma and Grandpa that evening so that we could grab a drink with his sister and brother-in-law. We did some quality catching up at Sixth Ave Wine and Ale and arrived back at the house just as the skies opened up and the rain started to POUR.
And POUR. I thought this was just a typical midwestern thunderstorm, until I heard the guys talking about a tornado watch – a funnel cloud had been spotted a half mile away. Shane’s mom started pulling out blankets and pillows and piling them in their utility room, in case we needed to take refuge. Jules looks awfully nervous, doesn’t she?
We made it through the storm unscathed, but wowsers! What a night!
We spent Sunday morning at church, celebrating Shanay’s confirmation – she was radiant. She’s become such a mature, beautiful, kind young woman.
Juliette sat through the service quietly and contentedly, happy to hop from my lap to Aunt Tiff’s to Grandma’s to Grandpa’s.
We ate lunch at the church and then took advantage of the sunshine to romp outdoors before naptime.
Juliette loved the freedom of the wide open spaces – we spend a lot of time outside in Seattle, but this may have been her first opportunity to dance in the middle of the street.
And those horses! She couldn’t get enough.
Shane’s mom and I spent the afternoon rearranging furniture in the living room – it was fun for me to help them settle into their new place (they moved in just a few hours before we arrived on Thursday!). The skies turned gray and we weathered another storm, but it passed quickly. Those colors, though! Gorgeous.
We had an appointment for a family photo shoot at 6:00, but first, the obligatory stop at Big Ole, the town’s pride and joy (see Jules down there, by his foot?).
We went back to the house after our photo session for pizza and ice cream – I came to love those big family dinners, gathering around the kitchen island while eating and drinking. Our dining room table has felt especially quiet these past couple days!
Monday was cold – temps had been in the 70’s on Sunday, but had dropped to the 30’s overnight. We did a little shopping with Shane’s mom that morning and then I told Juliette we’d make good on our promise to take her to a lake to throw rocks. We hopped out of the car at lake L’Homme Dieu, felt the biting wind and saw the whitecaps on the water and then called it. We tried.
We spent the evening at Tiff’s house – Juliette was quite taken with Pinto Bean, their rambunctious shih tzu.
We let Juliette stay up past her bedtime to eat watermelon with Grandma and Grandpa. My heart was fit to burst, watching these two love our daughter so openly and generously throughout our stay.
And then one last story…
We said our good-byes early Tuesday morning and hit the road to Minneapolis. The flight back to Seattle was smooth and completely tear-free, so we have lifted Juliette’s previously-imposed travel ban. It felt good to walk through our front door Tuesday afternoon and settle back into home, but man, those Schnells. They’re a fun, incredibly kind bunch. I miss them.