There is something about North Dakota. It’s not that it’s magical. And it’s not that it’s prettier than anywhere else. And there definitely isn’t a lot to do. But every time I’m up here, I feel like the smoke of the everyday clears and I can think better. Maybe it’s the air. The wind that constantly blows. Or maybe it’s all the delicious homemade meals.

Either way, I feel lighter and fresher up here.

This week has been more than fantastic. Olson laughed at absolutely everything and nothing. Other than getting attacked by mosquitos, nature was at its finest.

Joel documented the whole trip with his GoPro so eventually we may post a video or something. It’ll take some editing because the trip to and back from ND is….LONG.

So we broke it up and visited Joel’s aunt and uncle in Bloomington, Missouri and got to meet Joel’s cousin’s baby Lottie Joy. She is SO TINY. I could have put her in my pocket. I obsessed over their house because she’s an artist and their home is so colorful and creative. We were extremely thankful they let us visit 🙂

IMG_0068Then we went to Fargo, ND to meet up with Joel’s childhood friend Rob Burke and his wife Ali. Ali fed me the most delicious peach pie scone that I’d ever had and a caramel iced coffee. The woman speaks my love language.

We only had two hours left until Bismarck and Olson was like, “Okay guys, I’ve been in the car for over 20 hours now. I’ve been really good. And I’ve had enough of it. I will now have a panic attack.” And he did. He stopped just short of our arrival at Joel’s parents’ house. We were so happy to be at our second home.

Tom and Carol were waiting on the front porch and it was like a scene from some super cute movie that makes your heart melt into a big puddle. Joel kept taking these huge breaths because he couldn’t get enough of the light air all around us. Bella, their 90 year old Portuguese water dog couldn’t stop licking Olson, and he didn’t mind one bit.

Olson had never been around a dog so we were glad he didn’t have panic attack #2 for the day.  Joel got to see some of his childhood friends and that was really special for him. I was mostly on Olson duty and I was fine with that. In fact we were so tired that we both (Olson and me) crashed on a couch in one of his friend’s work places. They left us there to take a tour of the friend’s apartment and I never even knew they had left. Good grief. When mamas actually fall asleep, it’s like the world shuts down. Unless your baby cries of course. In which case you hear them breathing, salivating, smelling. Sometimes I think I hear Olson’s little hairs moving against his mattress in his room. (Ha! I kid, I kid.)

We headed for the lake Friday afternoon and spent the rest of our time there.

Olson came ALIVE this week!! He thinks Papa Tom is the funniest person in the world. And Carol took Olson several mornings for us so we could sleep a little more. They both spent ample time with him and it was very hard to leave them. I can’t say enough about the many qualities that those two posses that make them amazing parents, grandparents and role models. I enjoy them more and more with every trip. We got to see Joel’s siblings and their wives as well and took a group picture together, taken by Joel’s Grandma Edie.

IMG_0153Did I mention we eat like ROYALTY at the lake?? Surf and turf. Homemade blueberry scones made by wonderful sister ‘n law Lexy (red flannel shirt). Fresh fruit, choke cherry jam, homemade cookies, chicken and sausage kabobs. Like, my inner fat girl was spinning in circles throwing confetti everywhere. Olson especially enjoyed it because Papa Tom would occasionally sneak Olson little treats. Like a piece of a caramel roll. Because those are the best. Southern cooking needs to step it up and discover caramel rolls already. It doesn’t hurt when you get to enjoy your meal out on the fancy deck that overlooks the lake in a high chair Grandma Carol used to sit in 🙂 Joel and I IMG_0110always love being in North Dakota. We feel like we’re on vacation. His family is different from mine, not in values and beliefs, but in personality and character. They always inspire me to listen better, think deeper, and be more patient. I have never seen Carol lose her temper or raise her voice, ever. And there isn’t a challenge or task that seems too big for Tom. He is an incredible leader for their family and I’m confident Joel will follow in his footsteps.

Long road trips are fun because of all the conversation and time you have to be together. Unfortunately, Joel and I have yet to conquer the drive to North Dakota without getting into some kind of disagreement. It’s like all those hours in that car force you to talk about things that you might not talk about on a normal evening at home. One minute you’re talking about a hawk that you see out on a power line and the next minute you’re yelling at your husband for anything and everything he’s done wrong in the past four months.

But we made it home safe and sound. Olson slept like an angel and only spewed baby food all over Joel in the car twice 🙂