This summer was delightful, soul-filling, relationship-building, affirming, adventurous, life-giving.  I enjoyed family and friends (new and old) deeply.  Ryan and I learned so much this summer through these interactions (see posts on “What I learned on my vacation”) painting our summer with much joy and growth along the way.
When I was working the max amount of vacation time granted for summer was 2 weeks, if you could nab them.  I do not take this summer vacation for granted.  Regularly my heart welled with gratitude for these opportunities.  I cherish them as a treasured gift.
As we were organizing our summer, Ryan had the Canadian nationals pickleball tournament lined up for KelownaJuly 6&7.  By the time we decided that we were going ahead with attending Camp Oshkidee again, the latest available week started July 8 (we had planned to go at the end July/beginning of Aug.)  Since Kelownais on the way”ish” (wouldn’t make sense to backtrack back to Chilliwackfrom there) to Sask. we decided the whole family would join Ryan in Kelowna and we would embark on the 14 hour drive from Kelowna to Camp Oshkidee whenever Ryan was done his tournament, and arrive late on day 1.  However, it turned out that a week before we left Ryan realized that his tournament actually was on July 6&8!  Oooops. My first reaction was, “that sucks, I’m sorry you have to miss a day of your tournament!”  His response clarified that he had registered with a partner for the 8th and he couldn’t let his partner down by not attending.  After much contemplation I realized we would have to arrive on Day 2 of camp.
But….first things first.  We arrived in Kelowna, the kids were delighted to be in a motel.  The motel was right beside the park hosting the tournament, so Ryan could go to and fro as necessary and the kids could stay with me and play at the park on-site or go back up to the room.  It worked real good for us, not so much for Ryan, (we were quite a bit of a distraction, sorry hon!, and he was very disappointed with his playing.)
I planned that Friday the kids and I would go to the Kangaroo Farm.  This took a step of courage for me, I get anxious driving in unfamiliar places especially with kids on board, never mind that anxiety kicks in being fully responsible for my little family.  But, we needed something to do that day and this place came recommended by a friend.  The farm did not disappoint.  The kids could pet and feed the kangaroos (they even all got to hold baby joeys!)  It was a delightful outing for all of us.  Moreover, by actually doing this by myself with the kids I bolstered my confidence.  It was a total win-win.  (Sorry again honey that you missed it!)
……..And since Ryan didn’t actually have tournament play on Saturday we all went to the beach! 
Sunday afternoon when Ryan was finished his tournament we embarked on getting as close to Camp Oshkideeas possible.  We hoped for Canmore; but much to our amazement our little daughter who never sleeps in the car fell asleep!!!!! (Bless you Allison!)  So with 3 kids sleeping (though Rayna is adamant that she didn’t fall asleep and insists what I remember must just have been her resting 😉  we pressed on and made it to Red Deer around 1AM!    We ended up arriving at Camp just in time for supper and a paddle boat ride the following day.
Camp Oshkidee
We only have a couple of pictures from Camp Oshkidee.  At first I thought, we should have taken more pictures, then I realized it was a good indication of how intently we were enjoying our time (with phones tucked away!).  Our 6 nights were shortened to 5 nights at camp; but we still packed so much goodness into these days!  Water activities included a family tube ride, waterskiing (Ryan and Cheryl with kids as spectators), paddleboating, stand-up paddling, catamaran ride (which lulled Garrett to sleep) with new friends.  It was interesting and awe-striking to see how truly close the forest fire in May/June got to camp.  This stirred much gratitude in my heart for God’s protection of this camp and for the camp itself.  The kids loved their kid church (Rayna) and supervised kids play time (the twins) during adult chapel.  This allowed Ryan and I to fully engage in the messages spoken.  Furthermore, we attended the evening “Klish-ma-Klaver” sessions (singing time, sharing and prayer time).  These were powerful and truly what Ryan and I needed.  We were prayed over powerfully a couple of evenings.  Also, we were given the word “trauma”.  Prior to this we had never attached the word trauma to our cancer experience.  The camp director happened to be a family counselor.  He noted to us that we may even be experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder and certainly we were experiencing results from trauma.  This was a total “aha” moment when our worlds cracked open in a positive way.  It brought so much clarity to how Ryan felt so depressingly stuck and I felt anxiety gripping me. (Post on what I learned about this pending).  These 5 days were key!
It feels good to connect with family and friends.  We were in Saskatoonbriefly before and briefly after I went to Swift Current.  During this time we visited my Aunt and Uncle and some of Ryan’s family.  I also was able to have my annual visit with a couple friends and our dear friends Brad and Ashley graciously hosted us at their place for the duration (always so lovely to connect with these beloved friends!).  Particularly key was a playdate I had with my friend Amy and her girls.  The affirmations from that visit were huge in the spectrum of what I learned this summer!
Swift Current
Ryan flew home from Saskatoonto go back home and work for a week.  I drove with the kids to Swift Current to my parents’.  I was a bit nervous driving 3 hours by myself with my kids; but, Saskachewan highways are reasonably quiet and I wasn’t going to let that stop me from doing it, I really wanted to spend a chunk of time in Swift Current!  I think my mom was concerned too, she ended up having my aunt drive her to Rosetown (half-way) to chauffeur us from there (moms are great aren’t they?!).  Being in Saskatchewanwas indeed refreshing.  Swift Current’s slogan is “where life makes sense”.  There was something so simple and slower paced and lovely about being there.  Indeed I found myself thinking that if the weather wasn’t so dreadful I would strongly consider moving back.  My sister and brother-in-law also came for most of the time I was there.  The cousins had a fantastic time and my kids were able to go with the “big kids” by themselves to the playground up the road.  Also, while in Swift we hosted an extended family pizza potluck in the park, such a great time to reconnect!  My friend Pam came out for a day from Reginato visit.  We celebrated Grandma and Grandpa’s birthdays (both in summer).  We attended my second-cousin’s girls’ baptism in a country church where I ran into a girl who counseled at camp years ago when I was also counseling.  The whole baptisms, country, and just “bumping into” Jenn was refreshing.  I was also able to photoscan some of our childhood pictures which was fun to go through. 
After Ryan and I reconvened in Saskatoonwe set off for Edmonton.  We spent 3 nights in Edmonton.  Two of those nights were spent at West Edmonton Mall.  To be honest the mall rather overwhelmed me at first; but Ryan has a nostalgic love of this place so I took deep breaths and pressed on.  We enjoyed the waterpark for a day and the rides the next day and a country theme room at night.  I settled in enjoyed this family time, even if it was tiring.
From Edmonton we spent a night in Clearwater and were able to see a spectacular waterfall at Wells Grey Park!  (So much we could explore around here!!!!)
We found ourselves back at home and took it easy for August.  We played in the Vedder River, spent a day at Cultus Lake Adventure Park rides, Rayna and I went to Bridal Falls Waterslides with her friend and her mom, went to Cultus lake a couple times and when the smoke from forest fires was getting heavy and lingering we went to Bellingham to find the ocean, spending an afternoon at Clayton Beach.  Rayna has been wanting to go to a beach with seashells so we turned Ryan’s work trek out to Vancouverinto a family mini getaway.  I googled where to go to the beach and happened upon this place, a short hike, a traipse over the railroad tracks (yikes) to a semi-secluded beach.  It was (can I use the same word again?) refreshing.
I had wanted to go to Othello Tunnels with the kids, so in Sept we checked off that last item on my summer to do list.  What an amazing place with live in, so close to so many spectacular mini-excursions!    

Look at this list of goodness!  I am blessed beyond measure!  This summer was saturated with family blessing!  I am so grateful for these moments.  I cherish and treasure them.  Oh how God is good, all the time He is good!