Last weekend, we drove north to Minnesota to visit my family for a long weekend. It was our first long car ride with Cooper, which had its ups and downs, so to speak, but I'm so glad we were able to visit.

Arriving Friday evening, we got Cooper ready for bed right away, and then sat down to eat one of my favorite soups that my mom makes, potato corn chowder. We played a few rounds of Exploding Kittens as a family and then went to bed. Saturday morning, we woke up early with our little man, cozy under handmade quilts. My mom assembled an egg bake the night before, and since we were the first ones up, I put the egg bake into the oven. We played with a happy, cooing Cooper on a quilt. We had breakfast with my parents and I made coffee. I love their mug collection so much, I always have a difficult time choosing which mug to use.

In the late morning, we visited our good friends Lauren and Josh, to see them and meet their little girl (just born in August)! Lauren and I (and her sister, Liz, who lives in Wisconsin) have been friends since we were tiny, so spending time with our babies feels so significant. Lauren and Josh served us pour-over coffee and chocolate chip banana bread, and it was so sweet to spend a morning together. And their little girl is darling! Gosh, I love her so much.

Back at my parents, we had a lunch of grilled salmon steak, with sides of baked potatoes and green beans. My godmother, Julie came by to meet Cooper and we got to catch up about their family news and happenings. And then, we went with my brother and parents for a walk at Long Lake Park. It was breezy and chilly, but sunshine-y. Crisp, golden leaves, just past peak, a slowly lowering sun, and it may have been one of the prettiest walks I've ever been on. We bundled up in hats and jackets, Cooper wore his bear suit, and Nicholas wore Cooper.

For supper, my family picked up our very favorite pizza, Punch Pizza, while we headed straight to my brother's house. We arrived before they did, so I got out to catch a glimpse of the sunset, since it was especially nice. After supper, we went back to my parents' to put Cooper to bed and then we played another few rounds of Exploding Kittens and my mom made (gluten-free) brownies.


Sunday morning, we got up and went to church, then headed home for an early lunch and for Cooper to take a nap in the pack-n-play. I made my classic waffle recipe (the one I've had memorized since I was about 8 or 10, and I subbed in gluten-free flour) along with bacon and fried eggs. Then, we went to visit my Grandma Marcie, so she could meet Cooper! She has trouble finding the right words, but she was all smiles and laughs when she saw Cooper.

Then, we stopped by our family friends place to introduce Cooper to Julie and her son Austin (her husband Bob was out of town). She served coffee and pie from the local orchard. And it felt extra sweet to visit familiar/favorite places, but this time with a sweet baby in tow.

By late afternoon, we drove to my brother's house to prepare supper. Nearly every visit to Minnesota, I act as my brother's sous chef. This time, I chopped onions and minced garlic while he prepared shrimp for shrimp scampi. We had crusty bread with the pasta and it was so yummy. We saw a quick slideshow of my brother's recent trip to Iceland and the Faeroe Islands.

Then, I drove back to my parents' house to put Cooper to bed while Nicholas spent some time with my brother. When everyone got home, we played dominos with the family. And early the next morning, we left early in a (valiant, yet unsuccessful) attempt to avoid Chicago traffic. No matter, it was a wonderful trip.

Other favorite moments from the trip:

  • reading kids books from the library
  • my mom singing to Cooper, him falling asleep in her arms
  • my brother holding Cooper, Cooper getting to pet Gingersnaps
  • new (mini) mittens for Cooper
  • yarn from Iceland the Faroe Islands from my brother as a birthday gift
  • all the crunchy leaves
  • the way Cooper can make everyone in the room smile

There are tiny details about my parents' home that immediately feeling comforting to me: the sheets feel extra soft, the coffee mugs pretty and familiar, the floors creak ever so slightly in the exact same spots. And having lived so far away for the last several years, every time we visit, I revisit little details of my childhood home, like my mom's collection of Beatrix Potter figurines.

How very sweet it is to visit the very first place I called home with our little boy. Until the next visit, my heart feels so full.