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!