Lake Okoboji, Iowa Trip with the Tillman Crew

In our family, we have a sort of funny saying: “We Do Fun Here”.  You could call it a motto or even just a slogan. Sometimes we say it cynically and sometimes we say it as a way to call ourselves out of boring or even sad times. We believe the idea that “the family who plays together stays together”. So we try to get out and do fun things both around town and not so much.

This past holiday weekend we ALL desperately needed to get away. We had a pile of responsibility wearing on us and pulling us down and the months to come offer much of the same promise. A person can only be so responsible for so long before you break a bit…

So to celebrate and escape, we arranged (ok, we pretty much invited ourselves) up to Iowa where some dear military friends of ours, the Tillmans, live. Their parents have a house on a lake and invited us to come stay there and play for the weekend. We have been to visit them in their home town of Le Mars once before, but weren’t really sure how much farther or even where we would be going for the lake house. 

We ended up in beautiful South Lake, Iowa at Lake Okoboji (about 17 miles from Minnesota). 

I think in my head I kept thinking it would be a small lake, with a rustic cabin and a few people around. Instead, we got a HUGE lake, Pottery Barn-styled lake house and a ton of people around. Plus lots of amazing and fun things to do. We swam, we kayaked, we jet skied, tubed, tried the stand-up paddle board (I did it!), ate ice cream, had t-shirts made and just had an absolute blast!

It was quite a drive for us (12 hours the first time and 10 the second-we stopped a lot less!), we hit 5 states total in fact-Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota-but it was totally worth it. I felt myself relax and unravel like a ball of yarn. And I have to apologize to the state of Iowa I think. I never thought it to be beautiful but after this trip, it is GORGEOUS! I appreciated the beauty of our drive and how relaxing it made our car time.

Sometimes you need to get away to reconnect as a family and I think this trip did just that for us. It was so good to see the boys playing and doing sporty things. They fell asleep very fast each night after full days at the lake and the pool. Cooper showed us his continual love and prowess for water and sports. He is such a great swimmer and it looks like he is a natural on the water. Chase was more timid, but he greatly enjoyed hours on the boat and at the pool swimming and making new friends with our friend’s baby, Patrick, and anyone else he met along the way. He even went for a ride with me in the kayak.

Cecelia and their daughter Nora played and were totally adorable together. My favorite memory is from dinner one night; Cecelia started to sing the ABC’s and would stop after a few letters and look at Nora with her eyes sparkling. Then Nora would pick up where Cecelia left off, say a few letters of the song and wait for Cecelia to pick it up where she left off. They went back and forth like that through the whole song and then clapped and cheered when they were done. It was SO CUTE!

And of course, as military friends know, you just pick up where you left off last time. You catch up with what you know about the other “guys” you served with and their families and you laugh and reminisce and dream of the future together.

We agreed while we were there that this needs to be a frequent happening, perhaps even an annual tradition. I am all in!

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Happy Veteran’s Day!

This is a repost from last year, but hey, when you say it well the first time, why try again?

My soldier and love already posted on his own blog about this special day. But I feel especially called this year to have a post as well. A lot of it stems from watching my husband do his day-in-day-out stuff for the past 4 years and from knowing he is nearing the end of his time in service.

our shoes say a lot about us!

Each day, my soldier wakes up at 04:45 am to get ready to start his day. He doesn’t have an office he goes to, or a desk.  He spends every day of the year outside. Rain, wind, cold, or heat, he’s out there.  He does what he is told and works to encourage and train up his guys not just for life in the Army, but life outside of it.  He puts himself in harms way, he works hard and gives it all that he’s got. He  doesn’t give up when it’s hard. He doesn’t quit when he is tired, cold/hot, or wet.  He just keeps pushing.

hot, tired and dirty

There are things that he has done that I can’t believe he’s done. I say to him lovingly, “this is why I am not the soldier in this family!”.

I am so proud of my husband. For the fortitude of mind, body and heart that he exhibits in his daily life. I am so grateful for the other military families we know and love and for the sacrifices that I know they put in too.  I feel honored to have watched my husband these past 4 years. He’s grown as a man and soldier in so many ways.

This Veteran’s Day is also my soldier’s birthday. I believe it was a noble calling from the beginning of his days. We both have a long line of Veteran’s in our family and I am so grateful for the example they set. It is a privilege and an honor.

Babe, I am so proud of you and hope that this special birthday is the most special of all. I love you.

Happy Birthday Stud!

Happy Birthday!