After 2 days of driving, 5 jam-packed, fun-filled days with family, 2 more days of driving, 2,400 miles total, we are back home in Colorado. I think I need another week off just to recover from vacation!
The kids were great on the drive to Kentucky, scary good. Rylan was enthralled with his car DVD player and watched movies almost the entire trip. Caroline never realized she was spending two whole days strapped in her car seat and was a happy girl most of the time. We found a nice rest area and a Dairy Queen with a huge indoor playland for the kids to run off some energy. We spent the night in a great hotel in Kansas City and it was wonderful to relax in the pool and hot tub after a long day of driving.
Kentucky was steamy hot and humid! I am such a wimp about heat after living in Colorado for two years. The best part was cooling off at the pool and the kids loved swimming. Caroline was crazy about the water and totally fearless with her water wings on. She loved to lean back, dip her head in the water and float. She climbed the stairs to the water slide in the big family pool at least a half dozen times. She would hit the water, go under completely and emerge with a huge grin on her face. Rylan was more cautious and tried the slide once with a lot of coaxing. With his water wings and a noodle, though, he felt braver in the deep water.
There were so many fun things to do on the farm and it was neat to see the kids enjoy some of the same things I did as a child. We patted the horses, waded in the creek, caught lightning bugs, loved on the dogs, jumped on the trampoline, played with cousins... The kids stayed up til 9:30 or 10:00 each night, partly because it stays light so long in the summer in KY and because they were having too much fun to slow down.
It was wonderful to see my family; all the members of our large and growing family. There are now seven cousins, aged five and under, which makes whole family get-togethers very loud and rambunctious. Almost too much noise and craziness under one roof. It was hard to realize as badly as we all want to spend time with each other, we may have to make adjustments so it can be more enjoyable for everyone.
I loved seeing all the cousins together, each so unique in their personalities and looks, but it was definitely a more peaceful reunion in my imagination than in reality!
I was also amazed at the differences in my kid's personalities as they responded to all the new faces and experiences. Caroline was shy for about the first 20 minutes then I don't remember a frown or a whimper the rest of the trip. She thrived on the activity and being around other people. The horses, dogs, trampoline, pools, and Nana's toys all delighted her to no end. She bonded with her aunts who hadn't seen her since she was a baby. She played hard all day then fell asleep as soon as she hit the bed.
Poor Rylan was the exact opposite. He was totally overwhelmed with all the new people and having to share "his" Nana and "his" toys (really Nana's.) He screamed, threw ugly fits, got into fist-fights with his cousins, whined, cried, and was generally exasperating to be around for the first few days. For an introvert who thrives on routine, this trip really turned him for a loop. Once I got a little of my patience back, I could empathize with him, for I certainly know where he gets these traits. Rylan's cousins were amazingly patient with him during this nastiness and I will admit his behavior did improve a little by the end of the trip.
One of my goals was to take pictures of all the cousins together for the first time. My dad is a very good photographer and we had a lovely location at Spindletop. The boys wore solid color shirts in either red, white, or blue depending on family, and I had made matching 4th of July themed dresses for Caroline and Katherine. They turned out very cute even though I don't think we got a single picture of all seven kids looking at the camera at once.
One of the highlights of my trip was our girl's afternoon on Wednesday. Bethany, Anna, and I spend the afternoon relaxing by the pool, then ate a delicious dinner on the patio at Cheddars. The evening was cooling off, we had the patio to ourselves with a waterfall in the background, and best of all, uninterrupted conversation. It was so lovely to truly be able to enjoy a meal and the company of my sisters.
I also had a wonderful visit with my dear friend Emily at her house on Thursday morning. Lately we have been able to see each other about once a year and it was great to catch up and see how her kids have grown.
We left Saturday morning and by the return trip, the kids had figured out we were in it for the long haul each day. Caroline was fussy, Rylan complaining, and us adults sick of being in the car, too. Caroline and I shared a queen bed in the hotel which included her falling off in the middle of the night and waking up about 6:30 am to climb all over me. Not very restful. We made good time, though, and seeing Pikes Peak and feeling that cool mountain air was welcome indeed.
We have been busy unpacking, settling back to a routine and getting ready for Grammy's visit on Saturday. Oh, and Rylan surprised us with goopy eyes today. Yes, he has pink eye for the first time! I have no idea where he got it, except maybe gross gas station bathrooms or kid's playlands along the way... Like a good mom, I bought a pack of M&M's to bribe him through the 5 days of eye drops, 3 times a day...
I have to work Monday and Tuesday nights, then I'll try to upload some pictures later this week.