Twice a year, we're blessed to visit with my sister-in-law and niece, who live a nine-hour drive away. We just finished playing host for a four-day visit, and we'll be mopping up tears for the rest of the day.
Our visits are always marked by the contrasts in the way we live our lives. The "city girl," my daughter, is very much a hands-on, get-in-the-dirt kind of kid. She comforts slugs and snails at the park. She prides herself in the garden and chases frogs in our backyard. She can't go a Saturday without a drive to the farmer's market.
The "country girl," my small-town-living niece, splits her time between her parents and lifestyles. She's used to eating out all the time, going to movies, and running around. Our pace - driven by baby brother's schedules and other priorities - is a stark change for her.
Seeing the cows at the farmers market? It's the one thing she talks about - other than the community pool - that she wants to do during her visits here. She thinks it's a treat to bake a pizza or snap beans.
And our visits to her home? Often marked by tiredness. Tired babies from a long drive and disrupted sleep schedules. Tired from being in the car from driving to all the events and places that we "must" somehow visit before we leave Kansas City. It's a pace that's doable for parents on a family visit, but it's tiring for the kids.
The truth is, sometimes it's the little things that matter. And what stands out in their minds isn't the tourist stops or favorite haunts we visit. It's eating at a place that had a train. Or having ice cream with a cow. Or playing splash party in the sprinkler. Those are the things that they remember.