The last time I saw Kristina was almost exactly one year ago, at my baby shower. Lena was just five months old and I was, well, larger. I couldn't wait to see Kristina again (and let her be the pregnant one this time!), see how much Lena had grown (she's 18 months old now!), and introduce all three of them to my baby Ellie.
With Kristina and Lena at my baby shower in January 2012
Ellie slept in a bit the Saturday we drove over to Vero Beach, so we got a bit of a late start, but we made it there by about 2:00 that afternoon. Our grand plan to leave at Ellie's nap time so she would sleep in the car was thwarted by my baby's ability to resist sleep as if her little life depends on it, so she was pretty tired by the time we got there. Lena was napping when we arrived, so we had some time to visit with Kristina and Frankie with just one kid to look after before Lena woke up. When she did get up, she was very excited to meet Ellie! Unfortunately her excitement ultimately resulted in an Ellie face-plant onto the tile floor, but both girls quickly recovered and went on to become fast friends. Lena went right to work sharing her toys and giving Ellie hugs. And hey, you know what's precious? A baby hugging another baby.
Ellie meeting Aunt Kristina
Left: Lena and Ellie! Right: Lena going in for what we assume was meant to be a hug that ultimately sent Ellie's face into the floor. Poor babies.
Here, Ellie, have this toy!
Eric and Ellie checking out Lena's Little People
Ellie thinks she hit the toy jackpot.
Happy girls, ready for dinner!
Lena and Eric sharing a dance
Bath time for Lena
The girls got ready for bed and put on their matching pajamas, which was just the cutest thing ever.
Honestly, how precious are they?
Two sets of BFFs!
After the girls went to bed, the grown-ups ate a delicious dinner of burgers, hot dogs, baked potatoes and more that our hosts cooked on the grill for us. We shared some wine and some great conversation before retiring to bed ourselves. That's the nice thing about visiting fellow parents - they understand you have an early wake-up call coming the next morning and don't expect to stay up until all hours of the night!
The next morning, the girls had breakfast, and Lena so nicely helped Ellie eat her banana.
Here, eat this.
The adults were hungry too, so we decided to go out for breakfast. We got ready and put our name in at the restaurant. There was about a 20 minute wait, so we walked across the street to a little art festival and then played at the playground for a bit. It was an absolutely gorgeous day!
Ellie and Eric at the park
Ellie went on the swings while Lena played on the slide. They both really hated it.
When we went back to the restaurant, we still had a few minutes to wait, so we did a little shopping at the stores nearby and Ellie and Lena shared some hugs.
Bah. It's just too much.
We got our table shortly thereafter and enjoyed a tasty breakfast. The girls kindly shared their food once again, too.
The girls at breakfast. Don't they look like two little old ladies, out to eat, sharing some conversation?
Lena helping herself while Ellie daintily eats her Puffs
After breakfast we went back to the house and Eric and I decided we should hit the road. Ellie was so overtired (she barely napped the previous two days and slept poorly the night before), so we thought that rather than give her a nap at the house and then drive back, we should just get going and hopefully she would pass out in the car. So, Ellie and Lena said their goodbyes, as did the grown-ups, and we were on our way.
Lena holding the baby
Or so we thought. After about 15 minutes of driving, just as we reached the outer edge of Vero Beach, and Ellie had just fallen fast asleep, we noticed the car making a weird throbbing sound whenever we got it above 50 mph. We pulled off into a gas station to try to figure out what was going on. We checked the oil and that sort of thing, but everything looked fine. A quick call to my car-savvy stepdad convinced us that we should probably get it looked at before beginning the three-and-a-half hour drive across the state, a large portion of which was largely nothingness with no good place to stop. All this had awoken poor Ellie, but what could we do? We managed to find a Sears Auto Center that was open on a Sunday afternoon, so that's where we went.
It took them a couple of hours to figure out that the rear wheel bearings needed to be replaced. Not wanting to take any chances with driving the car back home as-is (especially with our baby in the car), we decided to just do the repair before we left town. For a while it looked like it could be done on the spot and although we'd be getting home much later than planned, we'd still be heading back that day. But, not so fast. They didn't have the parts they needed and couldn't get them until the next day. So, back to Kristina and Frankie's house we went. They graciously accepted us back, ordered pizza for dinner and indulged us (read: Eric) in watching the football playoffs that night.
When we got back to their house Lena seemed quite excited to have her friend Ellie back. We gave Ellie a bath before putting her to bed, and Lena was once again quite the little helper by bringing Ellie a large assortment of bath toys and helping to wash her with the washcloth. Super cute.
She's such a trooper!
Lena bathing Ellie
We put Ellie to bed and she did eventually fall asleep, although not without an epic fight. It was extremely draining, but Kristina helped me keep my mind off the stress by inviting me to bedtime story time with Lena, which I loved. She is just the sweetest little girl, and so happy! I loved spending that time with my friend and her girl.
It's never fun to have car problems and get stuck somewhere, but being stuck in Vero for another night was actually quite nice. I thought we had more great conversation with Kristina and Frankie that night, and I'm actually very grateful for the extra time we had to visit. Even if I do hate cars. Which I do.
Unfortunately, Ellie did not have such a great night. She woke up around 3:30 a.m. and refused to go back to sleep. Finally at 5:15 a.m. she did manage to get back to sleep, but only by sleeping in the bed with me, relegating Eric to the living room couch. At least she got a little bit of sleep, because the next morning, there was a bit more play time with Lena to be had.
Eric's artsy Instagram picture of Ellie in the hallway in the morning
Her nighttime sleep may have been a mess, but we did get Ellie down for a great morning nap. She slept a record three hours! I was so glad she finally got some of the rest she needed, and that gave us a little extra one-on-one time with Lena.
Eric and Lena playing in her play house
Left: Being shy!; Right: Fun with ribbons!
When Ellie woke up, we gathered our things and said good-byes again. We had a 1:30 p.m. appointment at the mechanic to hopefully get things fixed and get on our way, so off we went. While our car was being worked on, we killed some time at the nearby mall, having lunch and doing a little shopping. When we were done, so was our car and we could finally get on our way.
Happy Ellie at the mechanic
We finally made it back home around 7:30 that Monday night, just in time to feed Ellie a little late dinner and put her to bed. She struggled to sleep that night again, but the next day (and for the rest of the week) she took some amazing, mama-doesn't-know-what-to-do-with-all-this-free-time type of naps. So the poor overtired girl did finally get her rest. Bless her sleepy little heart.
It was a really great visit. It was so nice to see Kristina and Frankie's home, and watch my old college roommate as a mother. I loved seeing their family in action and watching our baby girls playing together. That will only get better in time, too, as the developmental gap between the girls narrows and they can really play together. I just know they're going to be just as good of friends as their mamas are!