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Dear Ruby

Dear Ruby,

I can't BELIEVE that on Tuesday, you'll be 2.5 years old. THIRTY MONTHS of you in our lives, 30 months of us loving you and watching you grow and become the coolest little human we've ever known. THANK YOU for being our daughter.

I apologize for not writing about our summer for the last 6 weeks. I have a long list of excuses, but primarily, I was hanging out with you and Papa, and didn't make blogging about it a priority. Before I update about our other summer adventures, I'll go out of order, and write about the most recent first. And because it was such a grand adventure, be forewarned that this might be a long post.

Speaking of thanks.... this is a Thank You Letter, of sorts. We went on a LONG road trip, and to sum it up, I am filled with so much gratitude about how awesome you were on that trip, and how many wonderful memories we made with you. So I want to thank you.

Thank you for loving coffee dates. We stopped almost daily for a coffee date...we used to do donut dates, but Mama is working hard to be healthy, so we switched to coffee. Don't worry, you enjoyed a cookie, scone, muffin, or cupcake instead. Two or three bites of said sweet treat, but we were on the road, so why not? When you're older, reading this for the 10th time in 20 years, check to see if any of these coffee shops are open still. Call us, and Papa and I will meet you there for a re-do of our date from August of 2018. Or take your own little ones there in 30 years, and carry on the coffee date tradition. These were our favorites.

Silver Horse Coffee, Donegal, PA

Blue Owl Coffee Co, Lansing, MI

Superior Coffee Roasting Company, Sault Ste. Marie, MI

Cafe Rosetta, Calumet, MI

Duluth Coffee Company, Duluth, MN

Vicinity Coffee, Minneapolis, MN

Where the coffee was good and strong, and there was a playground across the street.

Groundswell, St. Paul, MN

We had coffee, then hung outside enjoying the murals.

Branch Street Coffee Company, Youngstown, OH

Thank you for visiting two new National Parks with us. Thanks for putting up with a 4 hour one way ferry ride across Lake Superior for Isle Royal National Park, for finding every single wild berry on our hike, and for letting me know there was an 700-900lb bull moose on the trail behind us... that was the scariest, coolest thing EVER.

Thanks for putting up with a 5 hour round trip from Duluth to Voyageurs National Park and back south again, for helping me find the tiny frogs before our photo, and for making me a beautiful bracelet at the visitors center.

Thanks for climbing miles into the Great Sand Dunes. Although, to be fair, you didn't climb... we carried you. If we would have been smart, we would have climbed the big hill over and over and let you run/fall down it.

Thanks for stopping to see the bears at Oswald's Bear Ranch. What a delightfully hokey tourist stop!

Thanks for visiting the Minnesota State Fair with us... although this wasn't too much of a hardship for you! It was a good reward for all the travel prior. Your favorites were the pigs, horses, and big slide.

My heart split into two when you rode the rides ALONE, because I was proud of you for doing it by yourself, but sad because you are growing so fast.

Thanks for sampling the fried cookie dough with us, the only fried fair food we tried. Sorry we didn't let you eat more of it!

Thanks for being such a trooper when we decided to push home in 3 days from the Twin Cities. You are so active and we know it was SO hard to sit in the truck for so many miles. Maybe if you actually napped in the car, it would have made it go faster?

Thanks for looking for the small things to make it fun. For finding playgrounds, and being thrilled with whatever it was: a big metal slide and swings, or something big and fancy.

Thanks for being happy to play in the sand. I hope I got it all cleaned out of you by now (two weeks later)... it felt like you'd have sand on/in you forever, you were so covered!

Thanks for a quick pit stop in Madison. You had SO much fun looking for all the Bucky Badgers! We sure loved thinking about our best Aunties while we were there.

Thanks for posing for a million and one photos. I LOVE looking back on memories with you, and these photos remind me of the times we've shared and the adventures we've had. Hopefully one day you'll love looking back on them too.

I can't believe we survived this trip!! 7 states, over 3,000 miles driving and boating, 2 National Parks, 3 capitals (two new!), more money than I want to know spent in gas, campgrounds, silly souvenirs, fair fun, and coffee, and a million amazing memories that I wouldn't trade for the world.

I love you kid. Best. Ruby. EVER.

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