This summer we spent four weeks in the US, connecting with our churches, supporters, friends and family. Chicago was a whirwind of activity from the time we left for the airport til we headed off to our next stop. We stayed with Matt, Tina, Nolan and Siena and were met with giordano's pizza to settle us in for the first night. It was such a gift for them to offer their home, moving Siena out of her bedroom and into theirs, and allowing us to descend with older kids and a busy schedule. Truly though, the biggest gift was to have the connecting point of a shared home so that after a day of work for Matt and/or Tina and a day of meetings  and get togethers for us, we could spend time just sitting on the couches chatting at night. My favorite nights were the few that we managed to all eat dinner together as family on their beautiful back deck. Matt grilled, I made sides and we managed the chaos of young kids! I loved getting to know their day to day lives much better since we've only spent a few short moments together since they had kids.

I loved having the cousins together. I wasn't sure how it would go with such big age differences but Nolan was really welcoming in sharing his home. Canaan and Eden were super patient with him and read him book after book after book each day. Canaan loved making him laugh. Meanwhile Eden tried to get as much time as she could holding Siena in between naps.

Tina amazed me with her willingness to haul two young kids downtown, thru traffic and city parking, managing the margin between nap times to meet Nate and the kids at the zoo. Another day she did the same to join me and the kids at the Millenium Park fountains. It said a lot about her desire to have intentional time with us and we appreciated it so much! I also enjoyed discussing reality shows with her and watching some of her more feisty side come out at night while we relaxed without kids around. They were super gracious to welcome me one night after an incredibly frustrating all afternoon and evening experience dealing with a flat tire. They let me plop on the couch, disrupt their show and vent for a solid 30 minutes. We ended our time with them over some shared Jeni's ice cream to celebrate Nate's bday. 

During this time we went to Sanders for an evening of grilled meat, mac'n'cheese, a flamingo floatie that took up the whole kiddie pool and I kid-you-not the BEST strawberry/raspberry shortcake I have ever tasted in my life. DIVINE. We also spent an evening at the Quigley's, reconnecting with church leardership and meeting some of them for the first time. So many more sweet moments with people we love and appreciate (like a brunch with Katie where we tried our best to catch up on 3 years of life and could have taken another 3 hours to do so). Also so many meetings we were late to because Chicago traffic is a thing and we no longer have the knack for it. Lots of Salvation Army stop offs. I love LOVE downtown Chicago and I got my day there with the kids while Nate had three meetings in the suburbs. In between meeting Tina and kids at the fountains we rode the trains, hit up Maggie Daley park, saw The Bean and went to the free section of the Art Institute for some free kids crafts. Oh also there may have been some Firecakes donuts involved ... ALSO Jeni's Ice Cream. Matt and Tina live in such a fun neighborhood and I've heard about this ice cream for years but never had it. When I saw one just a few blocks from their house we had to try it so we met Tim and Shawna there and in between hearing about all the places their lives have taken them I could NOT stop gushing about the Brown Butter Almond Brittle ice cream. It's another level. It really is. 

 

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