It's become tradition to travel back to Nebraska in early June to visit my family. It began the first summer I was a stay-at-home-mom with Tory and had the flexibility to do so, and is now one of my favorite activities each summer. I like to visit when there's no major holiday bogging down everyone's schedules and the weather is generally cooperative for travel. Plus, a major bonus - my cousin Jen (a teacher) and my sister Ashley (a teacher's assistant) have the summers off from work, so we get to plan lots of fun outings with the kiddos.
This year, my dad was unexpectedly diagnosed with congestive heart failure about two weeks before my trip to Nebraska. Doctors discovered his aortic valve was 95% closed making his heart function very weak, and he was quickly scheduled for open heart surgery on June 1. Fortunately, I'd already planned to visit that week and had the ability to extend my stay and help my parents in any way they needed.
Andi drove to Nebraska with the kids and I on Thursday, May 26 for Memorial Day weekend. We planned a low-key weekend at my parent's house, and also attended a high-school graduation party for my sister's step-son, Caleb.
Memorial Day Monday, the kids and I took Andi to the Lincoln Airport so he could travel back to Minnesota for work, then continued on to Omaha to see my childhood best friend Ashley and her family. The day was hot and sunny, so Ashley filled up the kids' swimming pool in the backyard, Neal grilled chicken and wings for lunch and we sat in the backyard together for hours. It was a blast!
Look at these big kids who were just babies yesterday, I swear!
The next day (May 31), my sister and I met our cousin Jen at the Lincoln Children's Zoo for a play date. This is the third year we've taken our kids to the zoo together during my summer visit, and everyone always has a great time together. The Lincoln Zoo is the perfect size for little kids, and has unique play areas for the kids, a real train that circles the perimeter of the park and a beautiful butterfly garden. This year, Aden was particularly thrilled to ride the train (he still talks about it) and the weather was the perfect temperature. We had a great time.
The rest of our Nebraska stay was devoted to my dad and his surgery, so I think I'll blog about that time separately as it really felt like a different visit. I'm glad I was able to stay there for such a long period of time, and see and do things with family and friends before / after the surgery. It softened the emotional impact of seeing my dad in such a frail state, and allowed me to spend more time with him. More to come ...