The kids and I ditched Eric and headed south on Monday, June 27th. We arrived at my Aunt Debbie's house mid-morning-ish, and the kids dove right into playing while the women got to chatting. My mom also joined us shortly thereafter, thus completing the mother-daughter group. My nephew Santiago took Ellie right upstairs and read her his favorite book, which was so dear, and I loved seeing little Baby Milena again for the first time in nearly a year. What a doll!
Santiago reading to Ellie
Ellie and her baby cousin
Usually when Molly and her family visit my Aunt Debbie, I just drive down from my dad's house in the morning and drive back at night, but this time I decided to experiment with staying overnight in a hotel, thus giving us two full days of visiting time without having to drive two over-tired, under-napped, over-cousined kids back to St. Pete after a long day. So, after the little kids napped at Debbie's, we went to check into the hotel and let the kids do the usual Hotel Spazz Out before it was actually time for bed.
What is it about hotel rooms that makes kids act like lunatics? More so than usual, I mean.
The kids ran around the hotel room like crazies for a while, jumping on the beds and spinning in the desk chair, and then we went back to Debbie's house for dinner and an evening walk to a nearby splash pad.
Look at this sweetheart!
Ellie and E.J. playing in the water
The two little cousins
The two big cousins
Then, back to the hotel for the night! I experimented with having both kids in one room for the first time on this trip, and it went surprisingly wonderfully well. In fact, I even slept in the same room with them and we all did just fine. What a freeing discovery for future travel! We can actually share rooms! We made use of that knowledge on our road trip, as you will soon hear.
But, the biggest motivator for getting the hotel room came to fruition after the kids were tucked snug in their beds. Sure, I thought a hotel for the night would be great for my kids' well-being and blah blah blah, but mostly, it was because once all kids were put to bed, Molly left her kids in the care of our mothers and she came to join me at the hotel for wine and adult conversation. This, my friends, was long overdue. We have been pregnant and/or nursing for over five years and all the gestating and lactating and infant care really put a damper on our cousin bonding time, so we made up for lost time that June night in Venice. And it was gooooood. It was so nice to talk to one of my very best friends, drinking wine and laughing and catching up into the wee hours of the morning. My mom finally called around 1:00 a.m. (I think) to see if we were winding down anytime soon, which....no. So she just came and joined us and helped us finish up bottle o' wine number two (oops) before Molly departed at around 2:45 a.m. and we all crashed. I was exhausted the next day, sure, but man, was that good for the soul!
Quality cousin time over wine in paper hotel cups. Just what the doctor ordered!
The next morning we grabbed breakfast in the hotel and then Aunt Debbie, Molly and kids came to join us for a morning swim in the hotel pool. We had a great time, and Santiago and Ellie tapped into limitless energy for non-stop swimming. How do kids do that?
My little mermaid!
Ellie had a blast!
E.J. swimming with Grammy
Molly and her kiddos!
The moms and E.J.
Aunt Debbie and Milena
Ellie pulling Milena around the pool, and Milena clearly loving it
Santiago and Ellie swimming together! She still talks about what a fast swimmer he is!
After swimming we went back over to Aunt Debbie's house for lunch, and the big kids played quietly while the little ones napped.
They just sat and chatted with each other at lunch! The cutest.
Ellie reading with Aunt Debbie
Those are two tired kids!
When the babies woke up we had a few more minutes to play (and take pictures of their adorableness) before we packed up and headed back to St. Pete.
Kids at the piano!
The girls (and matching dresses!!!! Molly and I used to match often when we were kids, so when I saw Target was having a BOGO 50% off dress sale, I mean...what else were we supposed to do?)
Four really awesome kids!
What a wonderful visit! I so wish those Illinois folk lived closer and these visits wouldn't have to be so rare, but I'll take them happily when I can get them. And anyway, Molly and I have always been close despite a distance between us, so I don't see why our kids won't be able to do the same. Plus, this visit was especially awesome because it was for two full days, PLUS E.J.'s birthday party and the Fourth of July a few days later! Thank you for spending so much time with us, Illinoisans, and thank you for hosting us, Aunt Debbie!
Love you guys!