We drove up on Friday the 20th. It took about 12 hours to drive the 631 miles, as we expected. Tim packed food to eat in the car, and we never stopped to eat -- just for gas or the bathroom. Chippy the Elf rode on the rearview mirror and kept an eye on Tim the whole way. The kids ate their snacks and watched their movies. We had a perfect day for traveling. It was sunny and in the 50s the whole way. I loved seeing the mountains again. I only drove for about an hour myself, and the rest of the time I either stared out the window or read my book. I got so impatient to get to my mom and dad's house toward the end. I was on pins and needles as we made the last 10 turns of the drive. I wasn't too familiar with the area they live in now, and I kept saying, "How many more turns?" I cheered when I saw a brew-thru and said, "I'm home!" Tim laughed at me.
We stayed with my parents this time in their new house, which has a lot more space for guests than their old one. They have a big finished basement with a full bathroom and that's where we put the air mattress for Tim and me and the pack 'n play for Timmy. The girls slept in a bonus room at the top of the house. Mom had it decorated so cute and Christmas-y. I wish I'd taken pictures. They also have this non-carpeted play area by the stairs that was probably Timmy's favorite spot in the house.
I loved staying at Mom and Dad's because now we didn't have to spend so much of our time either coming or going from a hotel. The last time we went to Cincinnati, in February 2012, we stayed in a hotel downtown. We had to get up, get ourselves moving (which can be a slow process), and then call on the phone and be like, 'See you at 9' or whatever. It would be a 10- or 15- minute drive to see anybody or do anything, and parking was a pain at the hotel. Now we just woke up and we were there, and someone was always coming over. It was fun. I don't know if Tim was quite as comfortable as I was with staying there, but if he wasn't he was a good sport.
|We were celebrating everybody's birthday, just because. Left to right: Anna, her son John Paul (2), Timmy, Tim, Anna's other son Miles (7)|
|Tim with Annie and Sophie's 15-month-old son Damien, a happy little fellow who walks like a penguin and has a smile for everybody|
On Sunday we went to noon Mass at St. Rose. Immediately after Mass was Rosemary's (Anna and Robert's youngest) baptism, and the blessing of Anna and Robert's marriage. Tim and I had the honor of being Rosemary's godparents as well as witnesses for the marriage.
|You can't see in the picture, but I took one of Rosemary's outstretched hands. She gripped my fingers with her own and I could see her trying to pull herself up. She stared right at me with a look that said, "Are you going to help me up or what?"|
|Tim and I with our godchild, Rosemary Cozette|
|Left to right: My sisters Sophie, Anna and Grace; my sister-in-law Faith, me and Mom|
When we weren't visiting with family we took the opportunity to do a lot of shopping in places we don't get to see where we live. I'd never thought of Cincinnati as a big city growing up, but now I was continually in awe of the variety of restaurants and stores there are. And other things to do, although we just stuck to shopping. One morning we took the kids to Jungle Jim's, which is kind of a crazy grocery store that none of us has ever been to before. They have a huge selection of candy bugs (actual insects in lollipops and chocolates!) that we all had fun perusing. We took a ton of pictures while people walked by and gave us weird looks.
|An employee was taking a smoke break near this ape, but got uncomfortable and went away when I made the kids stand there for pictures.|
Tim and I spent almost a whole day out shopping by ourselves, and then went out for sushi alone. That was a nice time, except when, in the course of talking about how hard it is to live so far away from my family, I started to cry. I was not a fun date. Then I said how ironic it is to be so sad about all the time we're apart, while we are here visiting. After all, I don't spend the many months between visits in tears. It's just bittersweet, seeing how the kids bond with their grandparents as if they'd never been away.