We started out our wonderful summer with a trip to Niagara Falls. Only Jack and Mark had been there before. We LOVED it!!! Definitely not over-rated, in my book.
We rode on the Maid of the Mist. What an amazing little journey into the falls that was! Sam sidled up to me after we disembarked and said that was his favorite thing he has ever done with the family. Worth every penny!!
We stayed with Gwen and the kids for a couple days (while Dan was in Mexico). Gwen had a birthday while we were there so we helped her celebrate her big 3-0.
Sam couldn't get enough cuddle time with Claire. He told me we "need one of these".
Eating birthday apple pie. Where's Gwen???
Our boys love Jake and Lydia's swing set and backyard.
Gwen and I took the four older kids to a beautiful park. I think I enjoyed this unique park almost as much (if not more) than the kids.
The boys look all tuckered out, but sweet Lydia is still bright-eyed and charming as always.
Spending time with the cousins was very special. Here Lydia and Noelani are having some private girl talk at Bucca de Beppo's. All of us (plus Rick and Kennetha) went there one night to feast on pasta.
Watching Flushed Away.
Marion County fair is one of RAN's favorite places, I think. We spent half of a Saturday here with them (unfortunately Aracely had a commitment at church).
Love this shot of Joel and Noelani on a mini-roller coaster. Noelani was having the time of her life and Joel was hanging on for dear life, wondering what in the world he had gotten himself into. All I could do was laugh til I almost cried at the most hilarious panicked look on J's face.
Rich is so wonderful to entertain us on their little piano.
On the fourth of July Tooley's neighborhood had a little kids parade that our kids and Noelani participated in. They decorated the neighbors' bikes and either rode or marched.
Aracely only wished they would let her be in it.
What a pretty girl my niece is.
Joel had time to connect with his Grandma and Grandpa,
and Chase (Nick and Stephanie's little guy who is a few weeks older than Joel) had a chance to connect (literally) with Joel.
This is Stephanie (Chase's mom) with Kate (Audra and Todd's cutie).
Peggy and Kate
Jeff has a little one now as well. His name is Bryce (I hope I'm spelling that right) and he brings a lot of joy to the family.
Scott had us all over for a picnic. Chris was even in Indiana for a few days. The Billington boys had a rousing game of basketball. Fun to watch!!
Grandma and Jack doing Patty Cake with Bryce.
Uncle Scott and Joel comparing muscles.
Having two new baby cousins (Claire and Bryce) to hold was a joy to Sam.
The Billington boys. So sad that Bryce is missing from this photo.
Saying good-bye stinks.
We also got to spend a couple days with our dear friends, the Blackburns. Our kids relished every moment of fun with Olivia, Luke, and Max.
They are all growing up so fast!!!
The Indianpolis Zoo was another fun spot we got to visit. We went there with our friends, the Tates.
We also went to visit the Tates in Kokomo. They have a wonderful garden and Jack was fascinated, so he got to dig some carrots out of the ground and pick some peppers. We also picked wild black raspberries and then Troy and Leanna let the kids make jelly. What a fun experience--to be a part of the whole process (from bush to jars). We will really savor the taste of summer when we open up a jar in the middle of winter.
Sam was fortunate to be able to take a two-week acting class that Tom Haydock taught. At the end of the class, the group put on a recital (a review of the Lion King). Sam surprised us by wanting to take the class, but we were even more shocked by his performance at the recital. He was not that self-conscious Sam that we know and love. Here he is being Zazu.
And then there was just enough time to fit in a trip to Colts' camp, always a highlight of the summer for the boys.
We had a very productive time--visited a couple churches and had time to meet with some individuals who support us. We are especially grateful for Rick and Kennetha who are so gracious to open up their home to us and let us invade their privacy for 6 weeks (or more). We love being with them.