Seeing as we moved back to the midwest when I was entering my third trimester of pregnancy with Cooper – and we haven't visited since – a trip to Texas was overdue! We booked flights and arranged days to meet up with friends and got ready to show Cooper and Finn the place we called "home" for almost five years.
We stayed with our friends Jessica and Shawn and their two little boys during our stay in Texas. We ate most meals with them, and joined them in their everyday life. It was so fun to see all the boys play together and get to stay in their cozy and very welcoming home.
Rain was forecasted for much of the trip, but we still had some sunny bits of days and dry hours where we could get out and do things. We got to see a lot of Jessica and the boys' favorite places near their home: their library, splash pads, beautiful community pools, and local coffee shops. The boys played with the hose in the backyard and talked about Star Wars and played with light sabers and we went for neighborhood walks. Nicholas played cards with Jessica and Shawn's oldest little boy, namely "War" and "Garbage." Jessica and I did a little cooking together and drank matcha (her) and coffee (me) together. And we got to sing together while she played her keyboard, which is something we've wanted to do for years.
The day we arrived, after dinner, we all walked to the park in their neighborhood where the boys played in the splash pad in their clothes. It was warm and breezy and the most beautiful evening.
On our first full day, Nicholas watch all the kids so that I got to have coffee with Jessica and our friend, Molly. The three of us spent so much time together back when we lived in the Austin area, and we haven't been altogether in person in four years! So sweet and encouraging to get coffee and catch up and pray over things happening in our lives.
That evening, we went over to our friends Rachael and Brian's house to visit with them and their kids and to have dinner together. Rachael and I were coworkers at the hospital, and since I last saw her in person, we've both had two kids! How special it was to meet each other's kids and share a delicious meal of carnitas and fajitas on grain free tortillas with them. After dinner, we visited in their backyard while the kids played. With any long-awaited and overdue visit, it felt too short, but was so good.
On Friday, Jessica graciously watched all the little boys and Nicholas and I headed into Austin to one of our very favorite (and dearly missed) restaurants, Picnik. We rarely eat out, so we really appreciate that this restaurant only uses avocado and olive oils in their kitchen and everything on the menu is gluten free (and delicious). We ordered fun mocktails and an appetizer, our entrees, and then ordered a large butter coffee to-go to share on the way home. It was so meaningful and rare to get to talk uninterrupted and to hold hands and laugh and really savor our food and drinks. Plus, the nostalgia of it all! Thank you, Jessica, for giving us the opportunity for a sweet date.
Later that afternoon, we visited their (newly built) local library, including an automatic book return that Cooper enjoyed, and then walked to the splash pad. So fun to see their usual favorite spots and all four boys really enjoy the splash pad. The love of water bridges so many ages in childhood.
On Saturday, right after breakfast, we went with Jessica and her boys to their local farmer's market. We got gluten- and dairy-free mini donuts for the little boys (I had a coffee flavored one too) along with a fizzy ginger drink. Jessica got some produce that she used later that evening in our dinner, and we juggled food and snacks and umbrellas and little boys as we walked around.
For Saturday lunch, we met up with our friend Andrew at the Domain Flower Child. It was a very rainy day, but it eased up after we finished eating. We let the little boys run around on some turf and then we walked around a bit in the drizzle, stopping for coffee at Houndstooth, a favorite coffee shop of mine. After a nice visit with Andrew, we drove back to Jessica and Shawn's for dinner and an evening there.
Sunday was Mother's Day. Jessica leads worship at her church (the same church we attended when we lived in the Austin area), so we attended with Shawn and the boys and got to all worship together. After church, we went to a coffee shop, just the four of us, and then picked up smoothies from Juiceland for lunch. We went to the pool for awhile in the afternoon with their family and ours. And then, that evening, we grilled hamburgers that we had on my favorite recipe of long-fermented sourdough hamburger buns.
Monday was our last full day, and we met up with Rachael and her kids again, along with Jessica and her kids for a morning at the community pool and splash pad. Finn napped on the Jessica, we ate snacks, and Nicholas played "pool monster" with all the little boys and swam with them in the shallow end and one at a time in the deeper water. We made sourdough pizza and roasted veggies for dinner, and then spent some time visiting in the evening.
And then on Tuesday, we left rather early for our flight back to Chicago.
The boys did really well both ways with travel. It was Cooper and Finn's first time flying. I deliberately chose early-ish flight times, packed lots of good snacks, and we timed the flights to be approximately when Finn typically nurses/naps, so he actually slept for the majority of both flights. Cooper excitedly looked out the window, chatted with us, drank some orange juice, and took short naps on both plane rides. I held Finn while he slept and actually got to do a little sock knitting while on the plane.
It felt nostalgic to revisit Austin, a place that was home for us for years. But it also was such a contrast between the life stage we were in when we lived there (pre-kids, and the beginning of my pregnancy with Cooper). But isn't that how all our lives are, when we revisit homes of our former selves? Acutely aware of different daily worries and joys, different circumstances to pray for help and to praise. All affording opportunities to witness God's faithfulness to us in whatever life looks like for us then and now.
It was a really good trip, and since we've been home, while we miss our Texas friends (again!) we've settled back into our home here, our life we have in Indiana.
I'm thankful for the joy of visiting and the joy of returning home.
Last month, we finally made the trip down to the Bloomington area in Southern Indiana to visit our friends Maeve and Kyle, on their farm! Maeve has visited us a few times, but this was our first time to Bloomington to see their home and their farm, as well as meet the littlest member of their family for the first time.
As I mentioned in this recent post, sorrow and joy often intermingle. While my family was visiting recently, we got the news that Nicholas' grandpa passed away.
Welcome to my annual post of our life in the last year – a review of all the big and little events, travels, habits, heartbreaks, and joys. These posts require a lot of time and energy, in part due to sifting through all the posts I wrote in the last year, but also because these posts spur me to reflect and sit with the previous year for a moment, before stepping into the next one.