On Endings, Family, and Being Thankful

A week ago Sunday at around dinnertime, my family and I set off for our family vacation to southwestern Missouri. For some unknown reason, my phone’s GPS decided that instead of our usual route that takes us to and around Kansas City, that a more direct route through central Missouri was preferable. We questioned the route, but thought that surely some construction had made this a better option than going via Kansas City. Somewhere in southern Iowa, we turned off the interstate and headed south.

As rain poured down and steamed off the road sometime between 10pm & midnight, the road twisted, turned, rose & fell and occasionally caused us to catch air. We spooked numerous owls and other wildlife from the side of the road — including a disturbingly large eye-shine from a tree hanging over the road that I’m pretty sure was a chupacabra. We became increasingly aware that the GPS had led us on a very ‘as the crow flies’ route to our destination. I realized that along with being in the middle of no where and on some… um… ‘exciting’ roads in the middle of the night, I had no cell signal either. It was less than ideal. Alas, around 2 or 3am we pulled into my in-law’s driveway, safe & sound.

It was the first time in about five years that my husband’s whole family was able to get together and it was great to catch up. The best part, of course, was that the cousins got to meet & play & spend quality time together. Lots of memories were made and fun was had. It was as a little family reunion should be and, really, so many kudos and thanks go to my mother & father-in-law for great planning and for hosting all of us. It definitely isn’t a small undertaking to host eight people for a week in your home, including a day where four more stopped in for a few hours. Kids ranging in age from 12 to 3 were in attendance. And let’s not forget that they have 2 cats and we have a 75-lb Moose. It was a busy, busy week to say the least!

I didn’t take a ton of photos beyond the unofficially official family portrait. I was busy doing sidewalk chalk with my niece and playing baseball with my daughter & nephew and watching my son play some sort of ball game with my little niece ever so patiently. Despite some extreme heat & humidity that kept us close to home & the comfort of air-conditioning, we did take the kids swimming and on an early morning hike one morning…

img_4164What you can’t see in the photo is that the trail, of course, was laced with loads of spiders & their webs. They were not exactly crowd pleasers, but as friends on Instagram pointed out, the spinners of the world always find me.

I had brought my spinning wheel, but with all the commotion of kids I left it packed away most of the week choosing instead to work on knitting projects.

img_4136-1I started these shorty socks for my MIL the night before we left…

img_4166And they were done & given to my MIL by Tuesday.

I used Susan B Anderson’s Smooth Operator Socks pattern just because I could and I was interested to see what all the hype was about. This 16 page pattern includes step-by-step tutorials that will be especially helpful for more novice sock knitters, but it also contains a short version that’s heavily edited and less conversational. There was a time where I really appreciated her wordier approach, but these days time is of the essence and I prefer to cut to the chase. I think that this pattern provides both options makes it useful for a very wide audience.

When I finished up the socks, I hopped over to my Pebble Beach Shawl…

img_4132You’ll remember this photo from last week. It was such a fun knit — both the pattern and the beautiful handspun yarn. Having set my phone aside for the week, I have zero progress photos, but suffice to say I couldn’t help but knit away on it.

I did a teensy bit of spindle spinning when my 6-year-old nephew showed interest.

img_4185I am not the greatest at transferring my knowledge of the spindle and I really had not come prepared to share the skills with little kiddos, but he had fun learning to flick the spindle. Next time I’ll be sure to come prepared with appropriate knitting & spindle resources to let the kids try, just in case.

With the rest of the gang needing to get back to work, we spent the last couple days just with my husband’s mom & dad. I spent some time with my spinning wheel, but a lot of the time was just spent porch sitting & chatting as the temps had become more comfortable. They have a really wonderful yard…

img_4179From which to view some lovely sunsets…

img_4180And on the final night, my husband managed to call in a pair of great horned owls. We saw them fly into the trees not 50yards away and one even posed in a most ethereal way, silhouette against the very last light of twilight before flying back to the larger stand of trees in the distance. It was a beautiful way to end the week.

As we loaded our stuff and selves into the car the following morning, our girl shed a few tears sad to say goodbye to her beloved Grandma & Grandpa and their cats. Our son turned to her and said,

“Remember what we learned from The Box Car Children. You need to appreciate every part of your vacations, even the endings.”

I was at once floored by his connection as well as the profound statement. My boy, so true of heart, is so open to what life sends his way and is simply thankful for the experiences he has. It made us all take a deep breath and enjoy a flood of good memories. I hope one day we each learn to be so at peace.

On the way home, I cast-off my Pebble Beach Shawl just as we crossed back into Wisconsin.

img_4183I’ve still got to block it, but it is beautiful and makes me long for the cooler temps of autumn.

We’ll be starting school later this week so my to-do list is long for the next couple days. I’m so thankful that I was able to recharge batteries and have such a wonderful week of vacation. Good visits, a change of scenery, a few days not tethered to my phone and computer. I am refreshed and ready to go!

13 responses to “On Endings, Family, and Being Thankful

  1. Your color choice for that Pebble Beach is perfect! It’s both pebbly and beachy!

    Not sure I’d want to take the kids, but my husband & I used to search out roads like your GPS took you on. We called it ‘looking at real estate’ and over the years, we discovered some wonderful (and a few Horrible) hole in the wall places to shop/eat/visit. Don’t remember ever seeing a chupacabra though. Glad it didn’t ‘get’ you. πŸ™‚

    • The colorway is actually called, “Pebble” — that’s why I picked the pattern! Normally, I’m totally at peace with the backroads driving — I grew up in the country after all, BUT in hour 8 of a 10hour drive in the middle of the night in the rain with a chupacabra it’s less appealing — LOL!

  2. sounds like a wonderful trip! and that route you took to get there – always good to learn new ways to go. My grandmother used to call it “shun-piking” because you didn’t take a turnpike. She loved to travel that way, and we all learned to enjoy the new views. Of course at night in the rain, when you don’t know where you are is a little bit different. πŸ™‚

    • Exactly! Normally I’m pretty at peace with whatever. This was just unfortunate timing. πŸ™‚ We all survived and definitely made some memories along the way. As it always is and should be!

  3. I always love hearing about your trips and am eternally gratified at how well-grounded, and at the same time, adventurous your children are. They are learning and living the wonderful examples you set! I’m also giggling at Moose and 2 cats. How’d that turn out? Were your recently-planted beds still in good order when you got home? Loved the path you took getting there. It made me think of the time my husband and I were in New York City and took a wrong turn – pre-cell phone days and scary as all get-out! πŸ™‚

    • LOL! I’m had similar experiences in Chicago — I’d much rather be lost in rural anywhere than in big city any day!

      Moose did great with the cats. Mostly he was disappointed that they didn’t warm up to him. He understood that he had to hold very still so they’d come near, so he’s sit like a statue with HUGE eyes while they’d sniff his toes. He was always hopeful, but they only marginally warmed up to him, the poor guy!

      The gardens weren’t bad. I’ve got one tomato struggling, but other than that I spent a couple hours weeding and laying down the new grass clippings the neighbors shared. All’s well!

      • Your Moose is AMAZING! A dog that will sit still and let a couple of cats investigate him is pretty special. I’ve had only dogs, only cats and both together at the same time. While they’ve gotten along, my dogs NEVER sat still if they wanted to play! I’m remembering one of your other posts where he kept ‘saving’ your daughter in the boat. He’s incredible.

        Glad the garden is OK. Have you grown tomatoes before? You might put a very MILD fertilizer on the struggler to help it. The general rule of thumb on tomatoes is to wait to fertilize until they set fruit – otherwise you might get a pretty plant, but no tomatoes. BUT, if the plant is struggling, I’d try a mild solution to see if it perks up. Good luck!

      • I talked with my guru a bit and we’re thinking the tomato may just not like it’s home as it’s next to the dryer exhaust. I think maybe it’s just the temperature variation or extreme heat or something. I’ve been trying to water it a bit more to see if that helps and it has perked up a bit. On the bright side, the basil seems to love the spot, so I may just put basil there next year. πŸ™‚

        Moose is an exceptionally good dog. He has his less than brilliant moments, but when it counts he’s always beyond good. We are indeed lucky with that boy!

      • Hope the tomato plant revives. Here’s an important piece of tomato info (your planting guru may know this too)… I love companion planting, meaning, plants that are good for each other when planted near each other and I garden naturally without pesticides. Marigolds are a wonderful deterrent to tomato horn worms. One year, I had a terrible infestation and read that they hate marigolds. I planted the marigolds around the tomatoes and never saw another horn worm. I now always do it as a matter of course, and the marigolds are pretty too!

        Hope you guys are feeling better!

      • Very cool, thank you! I think I knew this way back when we were container gardening, but I forget things a lot. LOL! I will keep it in mind for next year for sure!

  4. Love the way your son held onto and shared his profound wisdom from that book. That was a read-aloud several years ago in our homeschool. Glad you got a chance to rest and recharge. Hoping your school year gets off to a great start. ☺️

    • Thanks! We hit a minor delay as we all got hit with a stomach bug this week. It’s one of those times I love homeschooling — we’re all sick? Well, we’ll start next week!

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