One of my bigger values in life is the belief that family should be close and see each other regularly. It's not the easiest thing to do, but I think there's a lot of value in living around family as much as is possible. But alas, when you can't, I reckon it's good to at least go visit every now and then.
Jude absolutely loves West Virginia because of cousins like these 3 up here. There are actually 3 more kiddos, but I didn't get an entire group shot. Fail! I'm pretty proud to say I'm related to all these kids. They love on my child in ways he will remember for his whole life. I don't know many 16 yr old girls or 14 and 12 year old boys that get excited about hanging out with their 3 year old cousin from Texas- but these kids do. They are just all the sweetest bunch in the entire world, and I really wish the distance between us was just not so long. Jude needs such positive 'cool, big kid' role models in his life! Dillon, the one in the green, was incredibly patient with the fact that Jude was his shadow. Jude loves them so, so much! And of course, I do too :)
After West Virginia, we stopped in Ohio, which was bittersweet. The last time I was there was for my grandmother's funeral. It just wasn't the same to be there with her. We stayed at the farmhouse, which is still in the family. Every room is so alive with her memories, and yet, she's gone. So it was a little tearful. But it was great to take Jude to see rabbits, and cats, and horses, and chickens, and pick raspberries, and wild blackberries, and jump in puddles, and throw rocks into the creek, and walk the dirt road, and in the woods. It's one of the most beautiful places on earth to me. And again, I wish we were closer just so I could go wander among the peace and tranquility that is Midwestern farm country. I put all the pictures I took of the farm into a photo book for my dad for Father's Day, which I am embedding instead of uploading. Enjoy!
Not pictured was all the family coming out to the farm to eat dinner, but also celebrate my birthday. I don't think I've had a birthday cake with all those folks since seriously like my 1st birthday. Just never timed that way I guess. Possibly intentional, because I still get so so shy when people sing me happy birthday :) But it was the sweetest thing, and just so thoughtful. I love family!
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