The girls and I greatly look forward to our North Dakota week each summer. Typically, we go during the week of the 4th of July, but this summer we delayed it a couple of weeks due to a wedding on my mom’s side of the family.
My sister and I had discussed earlier in the year postponing our annual lake week in order to attend our cousin’s wedding. We looked forward to seeing our aunts, uncles, and cousins that we had not seen for a long time. The girls and I had a great road trip to North Dakota. This mama always enjoys having my girls in the vehicle with lots of hours to drive with plenty of opportunities to catch up. I think having our trip postponed by a couple of weeks was actually better for the girls after arriving home from their Asia trip. This gave them a little time to try to adjust back to our time zone and adjust to being back in the states. Last year, when we traveled to North Dakota right when Kylee got back from Africa then she was still trying to adjust during our whole lake week.
We love spending time at our family cabin. Lake Metigoshe is on the Canadian border, and this place has always been such a special part of my summers and heart. I am so thankful for each summer that I am able to bring the girls there and to have them enjoy the natural beauty and fun that I love so much. My dad built our cabin and has continued to make upgrades and improvements each year. It is always so fun to arrive and to see what he has changed each summer. He is extremely talented and has made our cabin into such a beautiful home. We all love it.
We had beautiful weather and lots of fun tubing, jet skiing, boating, fishing, and all the fun lake things. The girls brought their rollerblades and enjoyed the beautiful bike trails. My sister and her daughter were there the entire time with us, and we all loved catching up with my excited, intelligent 2 1/2 year old niece!! Of course, we loved our time with my sister as well!!
Daniella was excited about everything from boating to fishing to tubing. My sister and I went on her first tubing ride with her. Our dad was driving the boat extremely slow that first ride. Daniella was quiet and just snuggled in. She was watching and assessing to see if she liked this experience or not. The second time that my sister and I took her then my sister encouraged our dad to drive faster. Daniella was right with us and laughed and laughed and kicked her feet. I was laughing extremely hard because something was going on with the rope where it would slack and then our tube would lean way back. Then when the boat would jerk the rope, we would get pulled quickly forward. Each time that the tube leaned way back then the water would come in, and I would hope that we did not flip as I was not sure if my niece would be too excited about that. She truly loved the experience. It was special for me to share those firsts with her and that she wanted her aunty to come with her and her mommy. 🙂 Daniella was very excited to go fishing as well. We loved watching her catch her first fish and all of the joy and excitement that she had. On our last fishing trip, Daniella accidentally dropped her princess ring into the lake. It did not float and quickly sank to the bottom of the lake. I was thoroughly entertained as my niece told the fish that ring was hers. She was clearly letting them know who that belonged to and that it was not theirs. She is such an intelligent girl, and I love to listen to her and watch how she processes each experience. She also loved being in the water on the shore and had so much fun there!
As I have shared on a variety of occasions, I am extremely thankful that my girls love the beauty of God’s creation just like I do. They love the sunsets and the sunrises like I do, and I love that we all enjoy this natural beauty so much. We went out on the boat one night to watch the sunset on the lake, and my mom came with. As always, my mom has such a fun, loving personality, and we are always so thankful for the time and the moments that we have with her. We were so thankful that she was with us to catch this beautiful sunset.
Our sweet family dog, Tessa was there with us for the week. Tessa was to turn 15 this October. My parents had been letting me know that she had not been doing well and was not very mobile before I got there. In the cabin by door, there is a small entryway, and my parents let me know that was where Tessa was now staying. They said it hurt her to go up and down the stairs so she just stayed there. Tessa and I have had a very special bond through the years. I very much believe that animals have a way of sensing things in us. After my husband died in a work related accident in August 2011, and my only son PK died in a car accident in June 2013, then I definitely noticed special love and attention that I received from our sweet Tessa each time I would see her whether it was at my parents’ home, cabin, or at our home when they came to visit. Tessa’s and my bond was strong, and it seemed as if she could sense the depth of my hurt and desired to give me as much love as she was able to.
I remember the last few visits that she had at our home. Tessa would come out of the house with me into the garage when I was doing things, and I had a little song that I would sing about Tessa. Each time I would sing the song, Tessa would dance around in circles. My parents had told me then as well that she was not moving too much; however, Tessa was excited to come with me and would dance in circles while I sang. My dad came to see and just could not believe the difference in her and how she was dancing around. The next time that I went with Tessa then my mom came with, and she could not believe it either as Tessa had not been moving like that at all. It touched my heart so much because I knew that even in her pain, she enjoyed our bond and routines.
At the lake this summer, Tessa had a burst of energy with me again. I was staying downstairs in the cabin and before I knew it, Tessa had come down all of the stairs to see me in my room. This picture of her was on one of those visits where she came down the stairs to find me:
It was so special to me that Tessa had a renewed energy that week while I was there. She made multiple trips to my room and went outside with me often. It is hard to find the words to describe the bond that she and I had and how much her unconditional love has blessed my heart through times where I felt like my heart was breaking. I am ever thankful for each moment with her. My dad is the best there is with dogs, and it is no mystery to me why Tessa was so wonderful after being raised and loved by him. Sadly, our Tessa died on August 13th just a few weeks after we had left. My dad and I cried together on the phone that night. She will be forever loved. What a special part of our lives she was. I am so thankful that I had that last week with her at the lake. I will love her forever.
My brother and his family arrived towards the end of the week. My nephew had graduated from high school, and they had a celebration get together for Luke’s graduation while we were there. It was a lot of fun. It is wonderful to have time around my brother and his family as well. All of his kids are growing up so much, and it is so fun to all be together. All of Kevin’s kids are growing and changing, and we are so thankful for the time that we get to be with my brother and his family. This picture below has all of us but is missing Luke and Alyssa as they both had to return to Bismarck to work before the wedding.
It was wonderful to have time all together. At the end of our week, then we all drove over to NE North Dakota for my cousin Terri’s son’s wedding. It was a beautiful wedding, and it was so much fun to see so many people from my mom’s family that the girls and I have not seen for so many years. It was very special for me to have time to sit down and catch up with my cousin’s Tracey and Jodi. They were two of my cousins that I was closest to as I was growing up. It was so great to be able to have time with them and to catch up a little bit on each other’s lives and families. They will always be so special to my heart. I am so glad that we did that and had time together with family members that we had not seen for a long time.
The girls and I had many special moments with our family that week. We also had some special time with just the three of us. One of those times was when Kylee took MiKayla and I for a long boat ride into Canada. We loved the time together and the beauty of the lake and of the day. This picture is from that time…
As always, we praise and thank God for each family member and each moment together… Cherish each and every person. Cherish each and every moment.
“The greatest moments in life are not concerned with selfish achievements but rather with the things we do for the people we love and esteem.” Walt Disney
“Families are like branches on a tree. We grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one.” Unknown
“In every conceivable manner the family is a link to our past, and a bridge to our future.” Alex Haley
“Life is not measured by time. It is measured by moments.” Armin Housman