Wednesday, November 16, 2016

a long weekend on the east coast

i'm back from my weekend trip to new jersey and new york to visit my family on my dad's side. it was another whirlwind weekend of travel and activities, but i'm so glad i got the opportunity to go out there. this was my 4th weekend away from the kids in the last 3 months. it's sort of crazy to me considering i had hardly spent a night away from ashford before then. i'm so thankful that thatcher is supportive of me going away and has no (well, few) complaints about watching the kids. poor ashford had a rough time with me being away this time. lots of whining and crying for me. :( but everyone survived! this post is quite long and wordy, but this was such a special trip so bare with me...

friday morning i took the bus then the light rail to the airport for my 12:30 flight. this is actually the second longest flight i've ever taken in my life. the longest was from minneapolis to london in 2007. i was relieved to be flying alone because entertaining the kids for 6 hours on a plane would not have been very fun. instead i was able to read and watch movies and shows to my heart's content. i lost almost an entire day flying because of the time difference. it was nearly 9pm when i landed at jfk. my aunt lea (my dad's younger sister) and my uncle ray were nice enough to drive almost an hour to pick me up at the airport. we got back to their house after 10pm and my two cousins kelly and ryan and ryan's girlfriend maria were there waiting for me. they gave me some food and a glass of wine and then said they wanted to take me a bar in their town (they live in a cute town about 20 miles outside manhattan). thank goodness my body was still on pacific time because it was nearly 11pm by the time we got to the bar. way past this girl's bed time ;) we had some pizza and a couple drinks there and caught up. it was such a fun time! then we went back to the house and had more wine before crashing around 1:30am. this was the start of a weekend full of late nights and lots of fun! 

saturday morning my aunt lea and my cousins kelly (26) and ryan (24) set out for nyc. ryan was nice enough to drive us into the city. our only set plan for the day was to go to the 9/11 memorial. last time i was there 4 years ago, they were building it. the water feature outside the museum is breath taking. it was a chilly morning, barely 40 degrees. 

i've always felt somewhat removed from the terror and heart ache of that day, living so far away, but when you visit this place with the names of all the people who died, it's impossible to feel removed. so much loss, it's almost unfathomable. 

kelly, me, and ryan

lea's co-worker had told her there was a groupon for the museum, so we purchased tickets on the way there...only to find out that the museum the groupon was for wasn't the museum (the name differed by one word!). what a joke right? so, that was a bummer. we went through the smaller museum since we already had tickets, then made our way over to the main museum, but the lines (one to buy tickets and one to get into the museum) were 45-60 minutes a piece. we gave up and decided to go get lunch instead. 

we found a pub a couple blocks away and had some delicious burgers and sandwiches. we were on the opposite side of the city from some things we wanted to see, so we hopped back in the car and attempted to drive, but the streets were sooooo packed with bumper to bumper traffic. i have been to nyc many times in my life and i feel like it was the busiest i've ever seen it. after barely moving in 15 minutes, we decided to cut our trip to the city short and just head home. it was sort of a bummer, but like i said, i've seen much of nyc in my life, so it wasn't a huge letdown. we also don't normally drive to or around the city, so it was a good lesson ;) 

on the way home, we stopped by my grandma's house, which was sold last month and is set for closing this friday. the sweetest couple purchased it and even wrote my aunts (who are the ones selling it) the sweetest letter about how they fell in love with the house the moment they walked in. it's hard knowing this physical place that has been in our family since the 1950's will soon belong to some one else, but i couldn't imagine a nicer couple to buy it. one of my biggest wishes when i booked this trip was to be able to visit the house one last time. and i was able to - with less than a week to spare! the house was nearly emptied out, and some of the rooms inside had been re-painted, so it didn't really look like the house i remember. but i was filled with such peace as i walked from room to room. so many memories for myself and even more for my aunts (and my uncle and my dad) who grew up there. it's truly the end of an era letting that house go. but i know the new owners will take great care of it. i'm so glad i was able to walk through one last time. it was the closure i needed after not being able to attend my grandma's funeral in august. 

after that, we headed home with no plans until dinner time, so i took a nice long nap and it. was. glorious. 

two more of my cousins and one of their husbands came over at dinner time and we all carpooled a japanese hibachi restaurant for dinner. we had a drink at the bar, then were seated at our table (with the cooktop in the middle). there were 8 of us total, so it was a nice big group. we had so much fun and the food was absolutely delicious (and so much of it!). here are some (dark/blurry) pics from dinner: 

all the girls - pam, kelly, maria, me, and jaclyn 

after dinner, we all went over to jaclyn and albert's house to continue the party. it was another late (but super fun) night. as wonderful as it would have been to have my family along, it was nice to not have to worry about anyone but myself for the weekend. 

it's so infrequently that i see all of them, so it's just a giant love fest when we get together :) 

sunday morning jaclyn picked me up to go to the masoleum where my grandma, grandpa, and uncle bob (my dad's brother) rest. we met my aunt anne (bob's wife) there. it was nice to have another form of closure with my grandma being gone. 

 after that, anne took us out for a nice brunch at a diner nearby. i hadn't seen her in 4 years, so it was nice to catch up. then jaclyn and i ran some errands in preparation for my uncle ray's birthday dinner at his house that night. we also stopped at the park to see her kiddos and husband and sister: 

it was a beautiful day! 

the family started arriving at lea and ray's in the mid afternoon. we sat out on their deck and had drinks and appetizers. such a treat in mid november! 

lea made the most delicious lasagna for dinner and apple crisp for dessert. we sang to raymond and he opened some gifts. his real birthday was monday, but we celebrated sunday night. 

monday morning my aunt, uncle, and cousins who's house i stayed at all had to work, so i planned to fend for myself until i needed to go to the airport at 1pm. but then my cousin jaclyn texted me that she was off and asked if i wanted to go out for the morning. yes, please! we went to the mall where i bought a bunch of clothes (i was seriously worried they wouldn't fit in my tiny suitcase, but they did). whew! i was so happy to get that extra time with her. finally, it was time to make the trek back to jfk with my uncle. the flight back was slightly longer than the flight there, but at least i gained time. i watched 3 movies and a few shows to pass the time. thatcher and the kids were waiting for me at the airport when i got there. the kids were so excited to see me and hugged me so tightly. i wish i could have bottled up that love - it was the best feeling! 

so there you have it, my final "momcation" of 2016. what an amazing few months it's been. and now it's nearly thanksgiving time followed by christmas. i can't wait! 

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