I've had Mama's sweet tea and a wide variety of family time every day since we arrived. On Sunday we went to church. I got to sit next to my mom and sing hymns, which is a super throwback to the good ole' days from the entire 21 year I lived at home.
After church we joined in the church-wide picnic. Some of my favorite memories as a child are from these type of events. I sure hope Layla and Easton filled their memory banks with these good times.
Easton didn't know going down the slide head-first was not allowed. He's not a rule-breaker, but sometimes he does break the rules when he doesn't know them.
Layla slid down properly and had a blast going several times.
The bounce house was a bit rowdy and had some older kids, but I let them jump in the ring and go a few rounds with them. Easton jumped across the entire floor landing on each row precisely once.
Layla jumped, turned, and screamed as she displayed her acrobatic talents.
After meeting lots of new people and seeing some i've known for years we went to Joanie's house for a dual-purpose birthday party. Trinity celebrated her 3rd birthday and Kendra celebrated her 34th birthday. The place was decked out in Hello Kitty everything, which Layla loved as much as Trinity.
Kendra even had her own cake and candles to blow out.
Cake and cupcakes! I know that's not what birthdays are about, but these two sure do enjoy that as one of the highlights of the event.
Nana's backyard had a lot of exercise this week. Anytime there was a gap in excitement the twins would head out back to play. We don't have the luxury of sending them into our backyard unassisted because of the pool so it was nice to have the confidence they wouldn't get into any trouble here at Nana's home.
I'm looking forward to the age where we can send them out to the greenbelt to play and not worry about them getting into trouble.
Sunday night was a quiet night out with Kendra and Joanie and John. One of the key reasons for my tour of the mid-west was this specific time together. This made the entire trip worthwhile even if we went home the next day.
Speaking of the next day... Memorial day is supposed to be about honoring military men and women. The trouble is that everyone has the day off work so getting together for family time is just too easy. Dad grilled his famous ribs as we played games and conversed. My best friend since high school has always been Ryan. Even when he was halfway around the world for two years or if we haven't talked for months I still consider him my best bud.
My friendship with him and Matt are the only two things I kept from my high school years. My 20th high school reunion is coming up next month, but I have no interest in going because I haven't seen or heard from or talked to a single person outside of these two guys.
I'm really proud of him and I for our focus on being good husbands and dads. Seeing our two families together is very special occasion. I've been waiting for years to have this get-together.
One of the bonds that we'll always have is the fact that my Dad married them 13 years ago and I was in his wedding party. I really wished we lived closer together. Since they are back in the states Kendra and I are already scheming up a plan to get them to come visit us.
The next morning Dad, Easton, and I took a trip to Pom de Terre lake for Easton's first fishing trip. The three of us launched from the dock amidst ominous clouds and gusty wind. five minutes later we were getting dumped on as we motored across the lake. Dad didn't care for it much, but Easton and I loved every minute of it. Easton was screaming, "I'm taking a shower in the rain showers!" He finally had the experiential discovery to understand why they are called rain showers.
The shower ended quickly and Dad taught Easton the basics of minnow fishing. Within a few minutes we caught a couple and let Easton reel it in.
Mr. Science boy wanted a detailed biological explanation of what a Crappie is and to have his fingers on every part of the fish. He was amazed by the live specimen on the end of the hook.
Dad gave him the time-tested Zebco 33 rod and reel to take his own stab at fishing.
he wanted to try his hand at casting so I gave him a 10 second tutorial. He cocked his arm back and whipped the line out there. By "out there" I mean 20 feet into the trees past the shoreline. This boy has an arm for sure. Since I didn't want to bleed Dad's tackle box he didn't get to cast his own anymore, but we'll have plenty of time for that when we get to the lake house in Texas.
We caught over a dozen smaller fish and created some excellent memories for all three of us. He was very patient and interested in fishing. I thought he might get bored after 15 minutes and ask to go home, but he lasted over 4 hours. Then he said the phrase no parent in a boat wants to hear: "I need to poop!" Luckily he has enough control to give us time to get back to shore. Thank God for the little things in life. Easton was brave enough to hold one of the fish and gladly tossed it back to watch is swim away.
One of the biggest unexpected joys of the Missouri leg of our trip was the amount of time my brother spent with us. We went to a whole new level of understanding each other and Kendra enjoyed hearing more details of his past, present, and future.
Family dynamics is a funny concept. I'm happy to have made such great reconnections with my siblings. That's about all I can say here.
Still have a few days of catch up, but I'm getting close! Each day brings new blog-worthy material but I'll get ahead of the wave by tomorrow.
See you soon!