After SuCo, we decided to head the additional 5 hours to the Jacksonville area to visit my family. My younger brother Ben had recently moved back to town so Kate was able to meet him for the first time. Anna hadn't seen him since she was around 2 months old! We headed to the Spring Park where we got big smiles from both of the girls on the swings.
The Spring Park has lots of fun memories for our family and it was nice to share it with Anna and Kate. Here I am with Ben and Kate!
We also had the privilege of worshipping at Pinewood where I grew up attending and where Curtis and I were married. One of my good friends, April Smith, even came to see me for the first time in a long time. Maybe since our wedding!
Two of my uncles, an aunt and my cousin traveled from Melbourne to see us. It was real treat to see all of them for the afternoon and they had never met Kate before! It was especially cute to watch Anna play with Elle. I think they were having a "pic-mic," at least that's what Anna calls it. ;)
The girls decided all the brothers (my dad and my uncles) needed to wear necklaces!
They had a pretty good sense of humor about it!
Kate also decided to participate!
We had a great time visiting lots of family in the area during our trip. We spent some time with my grandparents at Penney Farms (pictured below). We visited Grandpa and Sheila also, but I didn't get any pictures during our visit.
Then, we took the short trip to Gainesville to see some of our best friends. I enjoyed my visit with Kaylen so much that I forgot to take any pictures of us together! She was gracious in housing us for the night. We also got to see Curtis' best friend, Ryan, his lovely wife, Emily, and his daughter, Penny (that we had never met in person). Our girls seemed to get along just fine with her!
Penny was very happy to stop and smile for the camera (unlike another little girl I know).
When it was time to leave, Anna and Penny gave each other a kiss on the lips (not pictured). Haha! We're hoping our next visit with them will be sooner! :)
We also stopped by Faith Presbyterian and visited our RUF campus minister, Steve Lammers! He was very influential in our time at the University of Florida for both me and Curtis; this is especially evident in the fact that Curtis is now an RUF campus minister at Purdue University. Steve co-officiated our wedding (with Curtis' dad) and we are so grateful for his impact on our lives.
One more pretty spectacular thing happened! I was reunited for the first time in 6.5 years with my entire immediate family (growing up). My older brother Tim was in town for some training in the Navy Reserves, but Ben wasn't able to take time off while Tim and I were both in town at the same time. So, we drove up to the Eagle Harbor Publix (where both Tim, Ben and I all worked at one time) and we spent a very short time so we could get a picture together!
And here it is! I was so happy, it was like heaven on earth because it is so rare! Hopefully it won't take as much time for all 5 of us to get together next time. I wish we could have had Monica and Curtis and all our kids also, but I am happy with what we were able to get. Perhaps next time we won't have to be in a grocery store! (But I do love and miss Publix. I'm sorry, but Meijer and Payless just don't stack up to this store!)
Of course, we had to get a sibling shot. I look like such a little person with my tall brothers!
Moving on from that touching moment, we went to Savannah to see some of our loved ones there! Kate loved staying at the Arpins' beautiful home!
Rachel and Audrey came by to say hello. We were very excited to see them!
Oh man. I'm already at my last picture and yet there were so many things that I didn't take pictures of! We worshipped at our previous church where Curtis served - Grace Church of the Islands. We enjoyed fellowship with one of the shepherding groups that shared their potluck lunch with us. It reminded us of the many meals we had there when we lived in Savannah. Lots of good memories!! We went to Summer Breeze, a senior living facility that I used to visit weekly, where we visited the Tuttles, a sweet couple from our church. We're very glad we made that stop because we just found out that Lynette went to be with Jesus on June 15th.
We hung out with our sweet friends, Jen and Chris Roulo, which is where this lovely picture below happened: Kate and Emma.
Lastly, I got to chat with my good friend, Eve! It was refreshing (as always) and so fun to see her children growing up! Her oldest was in our youth group and he was driving and working. It's pretty crazy how life keeps on going. We finished our trip with a stay in Knoxville on the way back to West Lafayette. We were happy to be back home even though we had a fun time throughout our entire 17 day trip!