This year we took our summer trip to AZ. It was lovely to have the whole family there! I've been a few times but my kids hadn't visited in a few years. We had such a great time seeing extended family.
I love taking my kids to Grannie and Papa's house. It's a place I can take them that hasn't changed since I was their age and I can kind of give them a taste of my childhood. Their home oozes with love and is filled with so many memories. As soon as I turn into their neighborhood I am completely taken over by them. I remember walking across the big, covered bridge and playing at the forbidden park. I don't think we were supposed to walk that far so I always felt a little rebellious. I remember playing hide and go seek at night and Uncle J standing on top of a box like a statue and none of us spotting him. I've tried that trick and it doesn't work for me! I remember crack the whip in the backyard with all the cousins. I remember exploring the lake and climbing down into it when the water was low. I remember climbing the big trees in the park. I remember Christmas days and Thanksgivings and Sunday night dinners and America's Funniest Home videos and playing pictionary and water balloon launchers and paddle boating and jumping on the "tramp" and catching caterpillars on the vines outside the back door. I remember watching all the aunts and uncles wrestle. I remember the Christmas family home evening and how I was never brave enough to do anything. I remember Amway food bars and enchiladas and pies and turkey and dutch oven cooking and tuna noodle salad and making bullets and cousin sleepovers and donuts at Bashas and sneaking in and out of the downstairs window. I remember that front door that is always open and walking in and hearing Grannie or Papa's voice welcoming me. They have two of the most wonderful voices I've ever heard! I remember living there when my mom got sick and Granny making us oats every morning and seeing my mom through the downstairs window crying when she was put on oxygen and watching Papa hugging her and patting her back. I remember her being so sick but always being surrounded by people that loved her in this house. It's a home full of memories. And I almost always feel full to the brim of them and on the verge of tears every time I go. I love being there so much and yet, sometimes it's hard to feel so much. Does that make sense? It's hard to be so far away and to almost feel cut off from it all until I go back to visit. It would be easier if I could visit more often. I'm so lucky to have been blessed with such a great family on both my mom and dad's side. I had a truly wonderful childhood. I know my kids feel happy when they get to be around them too.
Here is Anika getting acquainted with Papa's dog.
And quickly taking up my job of teasing and wrestling Uncle B. Love this guy!
Miss Tatum (Heidi's oldest), Gran (holding baby Nova Renae) and Me with Sawyer.
Anika had fun introducing everyone to Hedgalina.
More wrestling! He just asks for it! All the kids love him.
Grannie and Papa with some of the great-grandkids and one grand -Miss Allison (Uncle B's daughter)
Some of the Carroll Clan
Uncle B and Anika
The next day we visited Brittney, Brayton, and Raylee! It was fun to see their new home and hang out with them and eat burritos from Rubios! Here are our cuties after swimming!
Raylee, Brenan, Brayton, Anika, Keslie, and Sawyer
Aunt Brittney loving on Soyster Bell
We got to hang out with the West side of the family a lot and that was wonderful! Aunt Becky was there helping since Papa West had just gone in for his bone marrow transplant. Here she is with Sawyer:
Brenan pretty much LOVES babies and Campbell is one of his favorites!
Nathan and Becky
The next day we had a cousin swim party at Aunt Shaunna's house. She was so nice to let us come over and swim in her pool! Sawyer, Elle, and Jett loved bouncing on the little pool.
Look at that cute bellay!
A bunch of crazies going swimming!
Our awesome photographer. =)
All the kids had a great time getting reacquainted with long lost cousins and jumping in while doing crazy poses. What a fun day!
That night we did dinner with Grammy and Aunt Sharla and Uncle Tom. It was so nice to visit with them! The kids loved picking grapefruit off of their tree and we even got to take a box of them home. They were delicious! These pictures make me so happy. Grammy is one of my favorite people in the world and I will treasure these photos forever. I just love her in every one of these!
Here they are with all the kiddos!
We got to visit Dad at the hospital a couple times while we were there. On the 4th of July we got there just in time to watch the parade all of the patients were doing up and down the hall! They were all decked out and their IV stands were even decorated! Doesn't he look amazing after just getting his transplant?!
The kids weren't allowed to go past a certain line when we got to the transplant area. This was as close as they got to be to Papa.
We were lucky and got to visit him in his room though and even give him a hug!
That afternoon we started the 4th of July festivities with swimming! The kids were in heaven! Here are a bunch of random, fun pictures of the kids having a blast in the pool with their West/Campbell cousins!
The bottom of the girls' feet were covered with blisters from swimming so much so they had to wear socks. It was quite the fashion statement!
Keslie, Anika, and Carolyne
A bunch of crazies!
Mike is such a good daddy.
Sawyer was doing this lip pucker thing all the time in July. Glad I caught a picture of it!
Beautiful Afton and Crew
Enjoying their drumsticks. =)
Marshall, Campbell, and Jordan
This picture cracks me up because this is her making a beeline for me when the fire crackers started popping!
She loves "babies".
Poor buddy. He stepped on a hot sparkler!
Best picture of the night. Haha!
Brothers. They are buddies.
As we headed out of town we stopped to visit the cemetery and bring some flowers. I hadn't been in several years and the haboobs from last summer in AZ did a number on the gravestone. We got out the wipees and cleaned it up as well as we we could. It was good to be there but not very peaceful with all of my kiddos! Haha!
It was a wonderful trip. We love all of our AZ friends and family so much! Miss you always!