Again, I’m amazed at how much we did in a matter of days. We arrived late Wednesday night and didn’t go to bed until after two. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were so wonderfully full. We left early Sunday morning, getting up at four something for our flight. You’d think we would have been very exhausted and we were a bit at the end of each day, but mostly we were pretty energized while we soaked it all up. Some days Bracken had naps and some he didn’t. We went with the flow and it all worked out. Our plans seemed to come together so well each day.
My whole life, my grandma lived in the same house. I have so many wonderful memories from that house. This was the first time I saw her new place and it was just lovely. Seeing all her familiar things there made it remind me of her home before (I’d see a picture and remember where it had been in the other house), and yet there was so much that was fresh and new as well. It made me glad seeing her there. I was afraid I would feel a bit sad, but I didn’t because her new place suited her so well. And you could even see the farmhouse where my grandfather grew up, on the hill, from her driveway and her backyard. Her favorite walking trails around a beautiful lake were practically in her backyard, yet another plus. Of course the birds in her new neighborhood couldn’t have been happier with her moving there, she had her bird feeders and bird baths as always. And she still gets to enjoy her love of gardening, in an easier to manage space.
I was also glad to see my grandma and grandpa’s (on my dad’s side) new place. They also had familiar furniture and sights throughout that made their new house feel like theirs and brought back memories. I loved seeing my grandma’s craft space with so much natural light and felt good knowing they have such great help from my aunt and uncle nearby. I saw aunts and uncles and a cousin. (Later at a family reunion I saw second cousins and great aunts and uncles and people I’m related to, but don’t even know how.) With a blog, it’s hard to know which pictures to post sometimes. To know who would like pictures of themselves here for all to see and who wouldn’t, so I didn’t post many family pictures. I want to respect everyone’s privacy. I took so many pictures during my trip and have lots to e-mail and share with family as I get organized.
We stayed at my grandma’s house while we were there, with my mom. My grandma had toys for Bracken to play with that had been my mom’s and uncle’s when they were little and then had been played with by my sister and I and all our cousins. The whole visit was like a trip down memory lane. And the entire time we were making new ones. My grandma got out decorations for the Fourth of July. Bracken put one on his head. The whole time he was very into balancing things on his head. Once at the Holiday Market Bracken and I watched a woman on stage dancing while she was balancing a candle on her head. It left quite an impression on him. In fact he’s been talking about it ever since. All the time he puts things on his head and tells us that it is a candle. (He inspired quite a few people to give it a try on this trip and there was lots of entertainment for all.) Then we visited my mom in Florida during the winter and she had floating candles all over her pool. Bracken was enamored by that as well. He talked about it so much that Grandma Julie bought him his very own floating candle. My grandma got a pool to put in her backyard for Bracken to enjoy while we were there. (That was a really good idea, he loved it.) He floated the candle in there. Later he made some new friends (one of which had the coolest Fourth of July socks, I might add) and they played dinosaurs with him in there. Oh yeah, and we went and watched the fireworks. Bracken liked them, like last year, and he also thought they were very loud.
Bracken absolutely loved the fireflies, just like I thought he would. I practiced my night photography and the results were hilarious. I have more to learn in that area. When I was little, my sister and I sometimes put fireflies in a jar and kept them next to our bed while we slept when we were at our dad’s house. Our very own nightlights and we thought it was so magical. The next morning we would let the fireflies back out. So one night we put three fireflies in a jar with breathing holes in the lid and Bracken and I set the jar next to our bed. He was so tired he fell asleep immediately and didn’t get to see the fireflies light up in the jar, but I laid awake for awhile and watched the brilliance of light shine out from time to time. Later that night I woke up to the sound of thunder and I smiled, my wish for a thunderstorm came true. The next morning the thunder continued and we listened to the rain fall through the screen door.
On our last day there we went to a family reunion. One I went to many times growing up. Even after all these years, I still get my grandpa’s brothers names mixed up. There were so many familiar faces and yet most of the people I had no idea how I was related to. I thought ‘Hi, nice to see you. Who are you again?’ There was a playground outside and then next to the building where the reunion was held there was a carousel. Bracken went on his very first carousel ride, with my mom and cousin accompanying him. He chose the chicken to ride on. After his first ride he wanted to go on the “spinny thing.” I asked if he was sure he wanted to go on that. He said he was sure. He loved that also. And I was glad I was on the side taking the pictures because I think it would have made me dizzy.
There were many firsts on this trip. His first fireflies. His first carousel ride. And another first, but I took so many pictures of it that it deserves a post of it’s own. (Tomorrow.) It was a great trip. The family time was precious to me. And I loved meeting new people during our travels. Bracken made friends everywhere we went, especially in the airports. Seeing a few loved ones having a rough time was hard to see, but overall my heart was just so full of gratitude for the time spent with so many people I love. I just couldn’t hug them enough.