June 30th… the day MiKayla and I had been waiting for!! MiKayla and I were scheduled to pick up Kylee from her bus between 2-3 am from her return from Africa. The drive to the bus was approximately 2 ½ hours, and MiKayla said that she would drive that first leg of the trip. We were so thankful to have Olivia, MiKayla’s best friend since kindergarten, with us on this trip. We were all excited to be headed to my parents’ cabin at Lake Metigoshe in North Dakota for a week once we picked up Kylee.
Before Kylee left for her month in Africa, I had asked her to also pack for a week at the lake. I wanted to just keep driving once we picked up Kylee from her bus. Our trip to pick up Kylee was short and filled with lots of laughs. MiKayla and I were so excited that we were going to be able to have Kylee back with us. We arrived about an hour early and ran a few errands while we waited for the time. Errands that were available at 1:30 am were not numerous, but we found a few that needed to be done. The anticipation kept growing in my heart. Every time I would think about picking up Kylee then the tears would just fill my eyes. MiKayla and I were both so excited for Kylee’s trip and for her opportunities; however, that did not take away from the ache in our hearts to be separated from her for that amount of time. We were so excited to have her back with us.
The bond that the three of us share is so strong. After the trauma of the deaths of my husband in August 2011 from a work related accident and of my son being instantly killed in a car accident at the age of 18 in June 2013, the girls and I are extremely close. We had missed our Kylee girl so much. Oh the joy that we felt as we watched Kylee’s bus pull in! Tears were pouring down my face as I watched my girl walk down the stairs of that bus, and I was able to hug my girl and kiss her cheek after what felt like so long. The joy that MiKayla was feeling was beaming from her eyes! I looked at Olivia who was crying with me. This reunion was such a wonderful happy time. The relief that I felt just flowed through me.
Once we got on the road at about 3:30 am, then Kylee was filled with her own adrenaline and excitedly filled me in on her team members. It was such a special time as Kylee shared about each member. It was so fun to hear of the bond that she developed with individual team members and with her team as a whole. It was evident that my girl felt so close to her team and had most definitely made lifelong friends. We arrived at the lake after midnight that night. We had a good road trip and were thankful to have reached our destination. We stopped a lot and tried to provide Kylee with things that she did not have while gone such as her Chai Tea Latte from Starbucks. 🙂
The next day was filled with family and friends. My sister and her beautiful daughter were there. I had so much fun reconnecting with my niece. She is such an intelligent, creative 1 & 1/2 year old, and I was so thankful for all of the time that I was able to spend with her that week. We played toys, read books, went on boat rides, explored the lake, and I was so thankful for each moment with her. Each time she would say “Aunty” and her face would break out into that beautiful smile of hers, my heart would just melt. I love being an Aunty!! This beautiful little girl sure has my heart. My sister and I have been close through the years, and I have a deep desire to be close to her daughter. It was so great to have a week with the two of them.
It was, as it always is, wonderful to have time with my parents! My parents are active and adventurous people, and I have shared with my kids many times that I hope to be as adventurous as they have been as they have grown older. They have been parasailing and ziplining through some beautiful areas, and my dad climbed the bridge in Sydney on their trip to Australia. I love to see the different things my parents continue to do and the joy that they have. They are both such loving and fun people. I thank God for my parents with all of my heart.
Each year when we arrive then my dad has always done some additional work on the cabin, and this year was no different. My dad had replaced some of the lower level’s flooring with some beautiful new flooring.This cabin has been our true home. While I was growing up, my parents were both teachers, and my dad coached. My dad also worked during the summers in construction to earn additional income. Because we lived in a small community and real estate sales were uncertain, then my dad would place the home that we were living in up for sale. When our home sold then my dad would build a new one, and we would move. My dad is currently building a home in our community. We were able to go and see his work. With each house, it has been so fun to see what my dad has done and new things he has learned. My dad is a very gifted man, and it is such a blessing to see how he uses his many talents.
The cabin has been a progression through the years. Each piece would happen in stages due to financial and time issues. It was a great lesson as a kid as each time my dad would do something in the cabin then we would appreciate it so much. It has been wonderful to watch how this has continued year after year. The cabin my dad has built is a beautiful two story cabin that is truly our home. I could not be more proud of my dad and of all of his hard work year after year.
My brother and his wife came and spent three days with us with their 5 children. We enjoyed having time with all of them and catching up. Because we live so far away then our time is limited on seeing each other. We are thankful for each time that we are able to see them. All of the kids have grown so much, and it is so much fun to see their personalities and what they each love to do! My brother’s twin boys are serious about their fishing. I laughed so hard to hear about what kind of fish they were going to catch and when the right time to fish was. They are serious!! My niece Sarah keeps close and provides lots of hugs and love. My niece Allysa is busy helping her parents and her siblings and has such a care-taking heart. My nephew Luke is the oldest of the crew and has one more year before he begins college. I am so excited to see what God does in each of their lives.
The lake’s beauty brings so much joy and peace to my heart. When I am at the cabin and at the lake, then I truly feel home. I am thankful that Kirk and PK had many years to enjoy this special place with us. We have two benches that are each dedicated in loving memory of them on the walking path that is close to our cabin. This has been a very special memorial to the girls and I. In grief, remembrances are important to our hearts, and the girls and I are so thankful that we have a special place that is dedicated to them at this place that we love so much. The girls spent some time taking pictures there, and I know that those benches mean a lot to their hearts just as they do to mine.
We were able to enjoy a beautiful, fun filled week. The girls spent a lot of time jet skiing, and I braved it out being Kylee’s passenger once again. I remember one year when Kylee was driving me on the jet ski where she was laughing so hard as she hit every wave and bump that seemed possible. I remember teasing her as I felt like I was being punished for any mistake in her childhood. Kylee laughed and laughed. It is a fun memory. This trip around the lake did not feel like punishment. I am not sure if it was because Kylee was easier on me this trip or because I was so happy to have her back home that nothing else truly seemed to matter. MiKayla and I had a beautiful Kayak trip together around a few of the bays and as always truly enjoyed our time together. It is unbelievable to me that next month we will be packing up both of my girls for college. A new season of life is approaching for our family once again, and I am truly trying to enjoy each moment together with all of my heart.
We had so much fun having Olivia with us. Olivia has been MiKayla’s best friend since kindergarten, and next month they will be attending separate Universities. After all of these years together, then it will most definitely be a transition for their friendship, but I believe that they can continue to build the special bond that they have had and continue to be close. As with all things that are important in our lives, they will just have to put the time in to nurture and grow their friendship. I believe that they will. Olivia has been a part of our family for many years now, and she has walked with the three of us through all of the trauma and tragedy of losing our two guys. She has poured her love, joy, and encouragement into all three of us. We all adore her, and it was very special for us to have her with us.
Olivia fits right in with us when we travel as not only is she a part of our family, but Olivia also has an adventurous spirit and loves going on adventures with us. Olivia has a common goal that she wants to get to all of the states, and that is a goal that I have been working on for my own girls. On our road trip then Olivia was able to cross off South and North Dakota. We drove in to Nebraska at 5 am for her in order for her to cross that state off! On our way home, we also briefly journeyed into Minnesota. I utilized that opportunity to show all of the girls my university where I did my undergrad work in emotional/behavioral disorders for hurting kids. We all had such a wonderful week together enjoying the lake. There are so many activities that we were able to participate in, and we are so thankful for each moment with my wonderful family.
I am thankful for our time at home and catching up with my great family. I am also truly thankful for each moment that I am so very blessed to have with these two incredible young women who I am so blessed to be able to call my daughters. Despite the hurt and pain of our tremendous losses, I am so thankful that we continue to find faith, hope, joy, and love in our times together and in our lives. Thank You God for each blessing that you continue to provide us with.
“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” Zig Ziglar