The social events continue with friends and family...Nature abounds, including in last year's photo...

This pretty flower attracts flying insects as shown in upper left.
A week has already passed since we arrived in Minnesota last Friday.  Each day and most evenings have been filled with a flurry of activities with family and friends.  Today is no exception with grandson's Vincent 5th grade graduation at 1:30 pm followed by a dinner at his favorite teppanyaki restaurant, Benihana, scheduled at 4:00 pm.

We don't ever recall graduation ceremonies being observed between grade school and middle school but times have changed and we're happy to partake in the celebrations.  We're simply content to be with our family members and schedules permitting, we've yet to turn down a suggestion for an activity.

Tall evergreen.
With the use of the free Cozi shared online calendar and family planner, found
at this link that we're all sharing, it's easy to keep track of our action-packed schedule.  Without it, this visit could be very confusing. 

Bronze dragon statue in a garden pond.
Any of our three adult children and their significant others can easily access the calendar on their phones, tablets or computers to see what time slots we have available and freely enter an activity with us. 

When a new activity is entered into the calendar, I immediately receive an email with the particulars; date, time, event and location.  Providing the activities don't include us participating in bungee jumping, scuba diving or skydiving, we're accepting all entries.  Time spent with our kids and grandchildren is our top priority.

Moss representation of an owl in a tree.
Of course, our favorite activity is spent chatting and interacting with everyone in a casual arena where we can provide our undivided attention.  Often, this is around mealtimes, watching the kids participate in activities and hanging out at their home or in spending time at our temporary home at the Country Inn & Suites in Plymouth, Minnesota.

Rabbit in the bushes.
With the two swimming pools, jacuzzi, free breakfast, fire pit, and easy atmosphere, it is a fun place for the grandchildren to visit and fun for us to share it with them. 

Although our hotel room is of ample size for our daily needs it isn't quite large enough for the kids to stay overnight.  We're happy to drive them back and forth from their homes when they come to visit on their own. 

Massive redwood tree.
Now that the school season is ending today, we've scheduled dates to have grandchildren spend specific days with us, one child per day for more of our undivided attention.  We're planning fun activities suitable for each of their ages. 

Yesterday at lunch, Tom dropped me off in Maple Grove at Biaggi Restaurant in Arbor Lakes Mall to meet two of my girlfriends I hadn't seen since we left Minnesota on October 31, 2012. 

Blue flowers line a walkway.
Theresa, my former real estate business partner and Cathy, our mutual dear friend were seated when I entered the outdoor dining area of the restaurant to greet them.  The warmest of hugs and greetings made me realize how much I've missed by girlfriends all of these years.

The two hours we spent talking filled my heart with warm memories of times past and how these types of relationships with friends had been such a vital part of my old life.  Now, I can only glean snippets of such pleasant emotions knowing how fleeting these interactions are now in this short period of time. 

Orchids blooming.
We've decided to meet one more time amid our busy calendar and theirs.  Each of our lives is full, although in many different ways.  How amazing it was to share the time together and I'm hoping for one more time together before we go.

Later in the day, we bucked the unbelievable traffic to drive to Coon Rapids for a 5:00 pm barbecue at Tom's sister Mary's (and husband Eugene) home, a weekly come-when-you-can Thursday evening event.

This type of orchid is such a deep purple it almost appears black.
Fearing my diet would be hard to accommodate, we stopped at Jimmy John's sandwich restaurant and purchased each of us a low carb, bread-less sandwich to-go, called the "un-wich."  It's from this very restaurant that we copied their idea and often make our own un-wiches wherever we may be living at any given time.

I ordered the un-wich with chicken, bacon, vegetables, mayo and guacamole and Tom ordered the un-wich club sandwich.  It was funny how they tasted just like our homemade versions, although we tend to make ours considerably larger.

Information about the lands on which the Butchart Gardens was planted.
By bringing our own food to Mary and Eugene's there was no need for our hosts to worry about what I'd eat. Instead, we all focused on the fabulous time we had with the many family members who'd arrived for the weekly event.

It couldn't have been more fun when we hugged and later chatted with three of Tom's sisters, two brother-in-laws, nieces and nephews and even two grandnieces and two grandnephews and their partners.  Surely, we'll be together with all of them and more of the family in more weeks to come.

Back at the hotel shortly after 10:00 pm, we both were pooped but pleased for another great day with family and friends.  This period of time is flying by much more quickly than we anticipated but, we're planning to make the best of every single moment.

May you days be filled with special moments and love.

Photo from one year ago today, June 2, 2016:

This praying mantis actually looked at Tom while he took this photo in Bali on the edge of the infinity pool.  He was as big as the palm of my hand.  For more details, please click here.


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