I left the Medford Airport before sunrise, driving north through foggy mountains. I had a date, and I had promised that I would be there for Memorial Day morning breakfast.
It had been nearly two years since I'd seen my sister Dee and her lovely family, who reside in Corvallis, Oregon. Thankfully, as it often is with family, the two years melted away almost immediately. In fact, my sweet 9-year-old niece Sarah was outside when I pulled up, and I got a good preview of her running skills as she rushed to be the first to hug my neck. As I had hoped, she was by no means too big for me to pick her up and swing around.
Sarah and her brother Case, 6, also demonstrated their enthusiasm with a chanting session: "Auntie Tree! Auntie Tree!" They sure do know how to make an old lady feel kind of cool (I still have no idea why I'm such a big deal, but I'm really grateful that I am). Flanked by one of them on each side, we chowed down on a yummy breakfast and got reacquainted.
The afternoon was spent in a field at Tyee Wine Cellars, sipping wine, snacking, hiking through the woods, listening to bands play, and hanging out with Dee and her husband Steven's friends. The kids frolicked through a mossy hazelnut grove and my nephew got a little carried away collecting the little kernels.
The week flew by. The kiddos relished waking me each morning to snuggle a bit, Sarah would make me her special oatmeal for breakfast, they would head off to school, and on a few days, I was able to enjoy lunch with my "twin" sister before school let out. It's fun to relive the part of our childhood where we are incessantly asked if we are twins (we aren't, but we are just a year and a half apart in age). We've spent our entire adult lives thousands of miles apart, so most people in our daily lives haven't seen us together. There were definitely more than a few double-takes.
Friday night was a carnival fundraiser at the children's school, which kind of gave me flashbacks to the fundraising events of my career. I found myself giving advice, watching to see if people were using the correct starting bid and bid increment in the auction, and also tucking away a few cute ideas for possible future reference. The kids had a great time eating cotton candy, playing games, and selecting prizes. They were a bit wild with sugar by the time we got home.
Sarah had a 5K race on Saturday, and Dee accompanied her on the trek around Oregon State University's campus. Case and I saw them off and then had a coffee date while we awaited their return. After the race, Case had asked to surprise me with a date to eat Mexican food, and we filled our bellies. The afternoon was completed with pedicures, a first for Sarah, who enjoyed it tremendously. A perfect way to top off a 5K run!
Sunday was my last full day with the family, and we had a leisurely afternoon. We chowed down on pasta and then the kids practiced riding bicycles. They made lots of progress in such a short time. We capped off the day with some early birthday cake for my 41st celebration. I couldn't believe that Steven found an almost identical cake to what I had described as my favorite from Sweet Stuff Bakery at home (lemon with buttercream icing and lemon curd filling).
I was sad to say farewell on Monday morning, but I had a timeline to keep. I headed east for a change, full of Sarah's special oatmeal, lots of love, and many kisses.