Last year we weren’t able to extend our Idaho road trip up to Washington (to see my college roommate and her family) which is always a highlight for our kids. So they were so excited when they saw our summer schedule included visiting friends in Washington. I always strategically plan out our summers so we’re never staying any one place too long. Ideally, I like to visit my parents for a week and then leave for a while and then come back for another week – to break it up for them. But plans are made to be broken and I always learn a lesson in flexibility.

The day before we were to go to Washington, my friend let us know their family was sick – which meant our plans were immediately cancelled (which is made easier when you’re driving everywhere.) Unfortunately, Steve had a flight to Washington to join us which also had to be cancelled. I honestly didn’t think we would be able to see these friends this year and my kids were so disappointed. But I kept going back to the schedule to see if I could make it work and I finally found a solution. But by this point in our trip, my energy for making the 6 hour drive each way had waned. I was on the fence about it.

And the thing that pushed me over the edge to go was the friendships. My kids love their kids and it had been a while since they had seen them and to go another year would’ve been too long. We have built beautiful friendships, never living close to each other, because we make it a priority to spend time together when we can.

This year, we made it a priority.

My kids loved their 5 acre corner of the world more than anything. And we’ve never had such beautiful weather, I don’t think it rained a single day we were there, which was unusual. The kids played lawn games, rode bikes, went for ice cream, made movies in their old barn, made smores, went to the park, and talked late into the night.

I think all my kids would agree, one of the highlights was berry picking. Years ago, we picked raspberries together and then went home and made raspberry shakes and my kids thought that was just about the coolest thing. (About as cool as their kids thought it was picking oranges at our house and then juicing them!) So we had to go berry picking again and the raspberries were amazingly large. We all agreed we would pick a small bucket and then we couldn’t stop.

Steve wasn’t there to join us because the trip was rearranged so I wanted to make sure he had some fresh berries, so we picked another round of raspberries and blackberries the morning we were driving home. We asked the little farm if they had blueberries and they said not yet. So we got all buckled in the car with so many fresh raspberries/blackberries for our road trip back to my parents house and then Hunter saw a sign a half mile down the road that had u-pick blueberries. So we flipped around and pulled in and spent a half hour picking blueberries. My kids were in berry heaven.

The kids thought it would be fun to recreate some of the photos we taken together over the years.

This was from our first visit to Washington, and we visited the same exact park, with the same exact log.

When they first moved back from Japan, they visited us in Arizona and taught my kids the popular Japanese culture of throwing a peace sign (or pīsu sain) for photos.

While living in Milwaukee, we went and visited them in Cleveland and we both only had two young kids at the time.

Life changes quickly – which is why we make it a priority to see these fun friends. I can’t believe we almost didn’t make it happen this year.