Now that we're back, I'll let you know that we were gone. These days, I'm cautious about making an announcement that I'm on vacation, that my house is standing vacant, and that you are more than welcome to come and illegally help yourself to anything I left behind. That's part of the reason I don't use the Check-In function on Facebook, too. Not that I have anything at the house that someone would want to steal (well, except my compact OED).
Now would be a good time to let you know that my house did not, in fact, stand vacant while we were gone. Yes, Timmy and Coco were here, but so was Jill. I haven't mentioned it here before, but my friend Jill is living with us this summer while she works an internship in Montgomery. It was actually Eli's idea when Jill mentioned that she was looking for a place to live, and I immediately agreed that it was a great idea. We knew we would be gone for over a week this month and it was perfect that Jill would live here and take care of the cats, the house, and *most importantly* the garden. Haha. It also doesn't hurt that she loves my children and is not afraid to help out in feeding, bathing, or changing them, and that she also helps out with the little tasks--taking out the trash, loading/emptying the dishwasher, cooking dinner once in a while. And did I mention that she's been babysitting the kids for me on Tuesday nights while I go run the Summer Swing 5K, one of the only things I get to do for myself? LOVE her. She sure made the last five weeks of Eli's absence run very smoothly.
So, anyway, we've known for a while that my cousin was getting married Father's Day weekend, so we already had vague plans to use this trip as the first leg of our 2011 summer vacation. The original plan:
1. Drive to PA for the wedding.
2. Go to Niagara Falls, NY.
3. Cross over into Canada and visit Toronto.
4. Come home. Voila. Vacation.
But, as the date came closer and closer, we knew that Eli was going to be in training up until the day before the wedding, so we had to regroup. Here's the recap of the first half of our trip.
On Wednesday, my sister Stacey and her two teenagers drove from Texas to Alabama to pick us up and take us to Pennsylvania.
On Thursday, we got out the door by 6:30 a.m. 17 hours later (11:30 p.m. CST) we arrived at our hotel in PA, where Mom, my sister Julie, and my cousin the bride were present to help us unload and get the kids to bed. The kids (both teens and tots) did great in the van--moms in the front, boys in the middle, girls in the back. It was nice to not be on a timetable, so it wasn't too stressful to be stuck going eight miles in 1.5 hours as we tried to cross under the mountain into West Virginia. Note: This was my first time ever in West Virginia--another state colored in on my "States Visited" mental map.
On Friday, we had a leisurely day, going into town to find a K-mart/Walmart to replace forgotten toothbrushes, etc., then going to my aunt's house for some non-hotel time. In the afternoon, we went to the church for the rehearsal and delicioso spaghetti dinner. Oscar got some good chugga-chugga-choo-choo action with Aunt Julie. When we got home, the kids got baths and went to bed surprisingly easily for being in a hotel room with 2 Pack-N-Plays.
[Sometime during the day on Friday, Eli graduated from DCC in GA. He would be meeting up with us the next day.]
Saturday morning, I heard from Eli that he slept about 3 hours later than he meant to, so he wouldn't be to PA in time for the reception (we knew he wouldn't make it for the wedding). We headed out to Kmart again because I remembered that I had this fabulous dress and no shoes to go with it, and also I needed to find a sewing kit because the ruffle on the petitcoat on Elsie's flower girl dress had come unstitched. We later dropped Stacey off at the church (she was the photographer) and grabbed some lunch before heading up to the church ourselves (me and the four kids) where Elsie got her nap in the carseat of the van in the parking lot of the church while family members arrived. Oscar was whisked into the church by Great Aunt B. When the flower girl awoke, she was fed and dressed just in time to walk down the aisle. I handed her the basket of flower petals with directions to take it to Mimi (my mom's grandma name) and she set off. I went to stand up and the heel of my shoe was caught in the overlay of my dress, ripping it, and I couldn't get it untangled, so I hopped on one leg out of the view of everyone except my cousin bride and my uncle-father-of-the-bride and wrestled it all back to normalcy except for the giant hole. By the time I stood up and made it to the side door, Elsie was already all the way down the aisle. I missed it! Darn dress. Darn shoes. She was reportedly really cute, though.
The bride and groom were adorable, and the reception was a blast. I got to use my sister's fancy schmancy camera to help take crowd shots. There may have been a lot of shots of my children, too. I mean, how often do I get to use a good camera to take pictures of them? Never. See why it was necessary? And then there was dancing. Oh, how I love dancing. I just really wish that my favorite dancing partner had been there. I still killed the Chicken Dance, though--oh yeah.
And then there were tired children. Oscar wanted to got sleep for a while, but there was so much going on that he just laid pathetically on my should while I danced. Finally, he fell asleep in Mimi's arms. She gave him to me, and I ultimately put him in his carrier. Elsie got a second, third, nay, FOURTH wind and just wanted to keep dancing. And snagging cookies from the cookie table. And eating M&Ms. Oh, and running her cousins ragged. Haha.
When we got back to the hotel finally, I heard from Eli that the weather was bad and that the stripes in the road in West Virginia were not reflecting well in the rain, so he pulled off for the night at a hotel, but he would be with us when we woke up.
And he was. Pretty much. We had planned to go to church in PA; I had already gone online and scoped out an EPC church in Beaver, PA (not a coincidence), but when I logged onto their site to verify directions, turns out that they changed their summer worship hours since I looked four weeks ago and we wouldn't make it in time for church. Boo. So we went to Denny's with the Aunt B and her friend, to Best Buy to get Eli's Father's Day/Birthday present, and then went to hang out with Aunt D and Uncle D and Cousin A at their house for a bit in the evening. We said our goodbyes and went to sleep, dreaming about the Grand Beaver Tour to come...