Cape Cod wedding

Our family Cape Cod trip was sliced in half. Jon’s upper respiratory infection had him coughing so violently that he had no voice. He hadn’t slept for nights because every time his head laid on the pillow, he sprung back up with a barking cough. There was no way he’d make it through a weekend away; much less, there was no way we could stay in one hotel room together and get any sleep. Mario decided he needed to stay home with his dad to make sure he could take care of him if anything happened. Oh, and he also got to spend the night with Grandma Ionno to let dad get some rest. 

So, it was a girls’ weekend. Ri and I took our first airplane trip together alone. She had to endure sitting in coach seats; every other trip she has gotten First Class due to her dad. She’s a natural at traveling – she had her shoes off and her jacket in a plastic bin before I could tell her she needed to do that prior to going through security. Is it bad that I would look at her in line and see a 25-something, somewhat anxious, executive waiting in line to get to her work destination?  It’s so easy to imagine that with Ri because she acts so much older than her years. I recall Grandma Meg telling me a story about Ri commenting about her couch pillows and how nice they looked and felt. Grandma Meg felt as though she was having a conversation with a 50 year-old woman. 

We bought two bagels and sat at our gate. She looked at Facebook. I looked around. When it looked like the ticket agent was ready to board, Ri gathered up our things and scurried me along. “Mom, hurry, we want to get on the plane before the others.”

On the plane, she nestled into her seat with her iPad and earphones. Cupcake Wars began to play and she zoned out. The attendant came around eventually and we got waters and pretzels to eat (we each asked for an extra bag, of course). When we landed, Ri was the first to stand up and prepare for departure. She was excited to be in Boston. I was excited, too. So excited that we exited the terminal to get our bags not realizing that once we exited we couldn’t get back in to eat! We had two and a half hours to wait for Melanie and Stephen who were driving us to the hotel. 

But we figured out an alternative plan that ended up being much more fun. We took the Silver Line bus to South Station  where we got to eat come good Cajun chicken and people watch. Ri wanted to take a subway and this was the next best thing. We had to buy a card to go back into the station and catch our bus, which was something new and exciting for Ri. A man was playing the guitar on our way back right along two yuppies who were holding briefcases and chatting. You get to see a wide range of folks here, Ri. She nodded as if she’d seen it all before. 

By the time we returned to the airport, Melanie had landed. We found Stephen (after nearly 45 minutes of roaming the parking lot!) and headed to Cape Cod in the pouring rain. Ri had her girlfriend Henley with her now and she was loving that – they laughed and acted ridiculous most of the way to Cape Cod (Ri passed out asleep about 20 minutes out). 

On Friday morning, Ri woke up ready to devour the breakfast buffet. I was right beside her! We met up with Henley and the crew. Ri was mightily disappointed that the Inn did not serve a buffet bar. She threw a bit of a pouting session (there’s my ten year old girl!) but then livened up after I took her out to talk. The rest of the day we chilled with Henley and her family and Melissa and her son (Henley and Ri love to watch over him) around the Inn and around Sandwich. We visited some stores and found a cute candy shoppe that sold those candy cigarettes I used to fake smoke as a kid. I had to buy those up. Later that night, Ri asked if we could throw them away since they were bad for you – even if they were candy. Sweet thing.

 We headed off to the Clambake in the evening. It was at a lake house and it was a beautiful night. The kids loved the water and the sandy shore. They couldn’t resist to roll up their pants and jump in the lake. Ri exhibited much self-control – usually she will jump in fully clothed but I warned her I would not be happy. 

Ri also tried her first lobster! She didn’t think it was bad … not particularly her favorite, either, but she gave it a shot. She was not a fan of the clams, however. The cake and cookies were killer dessert though and we both had enough for four! 

 The kids put on a dance show for us at the end of the night. Ri, with her meek self, approached guests and told them they better come to the basement for a killer dance show. 

Saturday was the wedding and Ri and Henley spent an hour preparing. They looked like divas. Red lipstick and all. They were so stoked about it. 

 Ri has known Doris and Kim her entire life and I’m grateful that they let us witness their vows. We also got to take a trolley to the wedding. Too fun! The beach couldn’t have been any more stunning with the powder blue sky and white bouncing clouds and balloons and colorful umbrella for folks to hold as they stood in the sun waiting for the brides. The ceremony was short and sweet; the kids watched the entire event deep in the moment. 

 Afterwards, they jumped in the ocean after slipping off their shoes. They found huge rocks to climb and stand on as Melanie and I bit our nails worried about them slipping. They had it under control.

The kids took the mass of balloons back in the trolley and we sang songs as we headed to the reception at the home of one of Doris and Kim’s dear friends. The kids did fairly well in the beginning. However, Ri was pretty disappointed at the fact this friend had a pool but wouldn’t let them swim in it. She got over it though as they brought out appetizer after appetizer. She and Henley tasted most everything. There was a man playing the guitar and singing and a tent up for everyone to sit under while eating and chatting. Doris and Kim were so happy and in love, which made the day all the more spectacular. 

 After dinner, the kids were getting tired and antsy. I told them we could go to the boardwalk. Someone had told me it was just a few blocks away. About fifteen minutes into the walk – and five minutes from the boardwalk – we got a text that the desserts were being served. Henley desperately wanted to go back. Ri didn’t. One boy didn’t, the other did. I knew Henley’s mom wanted her back so we turned around and headed back. Ri was irritated. Henley felt bad. They both pouted. I walked with Ri and explained how I always feel bad when I get mad at a friend for something trivial and end up having a horrible time because of it. We could see the boardwalk later. Ri walked back to where Henley was sauntering and said something to her that led to them walking together and talking. Ri is good about letting things go, which I hope she keeps as she gets older.

We ended up losing out on the desserts after all. We scored a few macaroons but that was it. But we got hugs from Doris and Kim – a fine alternative to the sweets. We left a bit afterwards to go change at the Inn and hit the boardwalk. The kids got bored as the adults changed and relaxed for a few minutes and they went to the gardens. Much to their surprise, the pool was open. We went down to find them jumping off the fake cliffs on the sides of the pool and having a blast. So much for the boardwalk. The Inn’s pool won the evening. 

We closed the pool down and headed up to our rooms to change for a late dinner. How we could be hungry after all we are at the reception is beyond me but we were. Grilled cheeses and pasta dishes later, we trekked up to our rooms for sleep. We all looked like zombies the next morning. We had to leave at 9:30 am for the airport. We sat at breakfast staring off into space. No one was offended. We shoveled in more food and packed ourselves in Stephen’s van to head to the airport. 

Ri held my hand as we rose up in the air on takeoff. I get super nervous and I was starting to get sick by Sunday with a cough and headache. She nursed me well as we flew through the cotton clouds on our way home to Columbus. I learned how enjoyable it is to go on a trip with Ri – she is the quintessential travel partner. No drama, low maintenance, funny, out-going, and kind. She earned the right to visit Mexico and hang with her Aunt Sarah or Sweden to visit her Uncle Jack. Oh, heck, maybe we’ll hit both. 


Partyin’ in Kentucky


Mario lived his dream of being a superstar last night. He danced all by himself on the dance floor with the entire wedding party and guests watching and cheering his every move. The DJ asked me Mario’s name and I told him. He went back to his stand and yelled in the microphone “Let’s hear it for Mario!” Mario turned to me in disbelief. He was charged!

The DJ challenged the guests to a dance-off with Mario and this gorgeous southern belle took him on. She kicked and punched the air like Mario, did the robot like him, and jiggled her hips. But he pulled out a cartwheel on her and she gave up and bowed down to him.

“Did I win, mom?” he asked me later in the evening. The kid never fails to find competition.

Maria, meanwhile was persevering through pain. She wore “high heels” with her dress and they were killing her feet (like all heels do!). I kept telling her to take them off but she’d reply “mom, it’s a wedding and I’m in a dress; I can’t take off my heels.” She certainly doesn’t take after her mom who wears gym shoes with her dress! It scares me that she was willing to deal with the pain of heels in order to remain in high fashion – god help us.


We also got in some quality hotel pool and hot tub time – Maria stood on Peepaw’s shoulders in the pool and Mario acted like a fighting superhero in the hot tub jumping from side to side with his fist outstretched. We also got our money’s worth at the breakfast buffet filling up on waffles, eggs, sausage and fruit loops. Massive carbs – just what I needed for a four hour drive home.

We stopped over at Aunt Kathy’s condo before we headed home – Maria got to see the married couple before they took off to Jamaica (she’s still blushing over Miles’ comment that he’d save her a dance at the reception ( when he asked her later she was too embarrassed)). Kathy had Krispy Kreme donuts and chick-a-filet sandwiches – who can resist that action?! I felt like I was in a coma after taking those down and would have paid top dollar for a chauffeured ride home.

But thank goodness for five-hour energy drinks – I was back to normal in no time flying up I-71 to Columbus and listening to M&M interchange between begging to go back to the hotel and ask ing how much longer to home every ten minutes. I knew I should have gotten some Advil with my five-hour energy drink.

Is it really only 10:30 am?

The kids and I went to Cincinnati last night for a family wedding.  Grandma Meg and Peepaw joined us for the festivities along with Meg’s sisters and their kids.  Meg’s sister, Mindy and her husband Danny hosted the gala for their daughter Amy.  Amy is a down-to-earth, sporty, happy gal who seems utterly smitten with her new husband, Todd.  Todd seems like a carbon copy of Amy (minus the “gal” and add “guy!”).  They smiled throughout the wedding ceremony and had a blast at the reception (Todd did a dirty dance in front of Amy before taking off the garter and Mario and Maria were completely entranced). 

The family partying it upMario played around with four or five boys who all knew each other from Todd’s side of the family.  They did not invite him in but Mr. Mario asked his Aunt Kathy if she would introduce him to the boys, which she did, and it was over from there.  He fit right in when he wanted to play with them (the only bit of crying came when he collided with an 80 pound kid and got knocked into the side of the door).  Maria was perfectly happy not conversing with any kids, but rather, hanging out with the adults.  She sat with Meg’s cousin, Suzanne and her husband.  She enjoyed ribbing Suzanne’s husband about anything she could, and sitting close to Suzanne to talk about video games.  After Suzanne, she moved onto Kathy’s stepson, Miles and his fiancée, dragging Miles on the dance floor and out to the pond.  They were all wonderful with her, and very patient. 

After the wedding, we headed to my mom’s house to spend the night.  We petted Lou for a while since we had never been with him in his house.  He loved the kids.  We woke up at the break of dawn (6:45 am) and played with Lou and his tennis ball for an hour before getting ready to hit the road.  We had to go to Target first since Mario’s flip flops rubbed his feet wrong.  Next came McDonald’s for some quick breakfast.  Then, French Park. 

My old childhood park that I used to frequent with my best friend, Beth.  I love walking through that park.  My mom was quite impressed with it, too (as was Lou).  The trails are magnificent – patches of shade with huge fairy tale trees covering you, patches of bright sunlight with wildflowers, and patches of dark with troll bridges and ferns everywhere.  We walked the creek for a long time, too.  It had just enough walks to jump from to not get soaked but high enough standing water for the kids to get good splashes.  At the end of the trail, Maria took a good fall trying to climb onto a boulder and got a good chunk of skin off of her elbow and knee.  Nonetheless, as I always report, she is a machine and once the initial shock and cry hit, she was a trooper heading back to the car and into Grandma’s bathtub. 

On the way home, neither mom nor I was coherent.  We were exhausted from what felt like a “long day.” So how was it only 10:30 am?  Ridiculous.  There should be some rule that when kids get up so early and your day starts while most people are in REM sleep, you get to fast forward the clock 4 hours.  When we got home, the kids took and bath and played around.  Then we had to head up to Marx Bagels for some bagels and cream cheese (my favorite!). 

After bagels, we hung outside with Lou while the kids “spied” on us.  Julie got home in the meantime, and the kids begged to stay to see Baby Gracie.  She arrived a bit later and walked in the door exclaiming “Mary!”  How could I leave before hearing that punker-wunker call my name!?  The kids played downstairs while I cleaned and talked to Liz and Julie and helped Julie move coffee tables and tvs all around.  We left CIncy around 3:30 and within ten minutes, both Maria and Mario were sawing logs.  Out cold.  So I debated stopping at Pottery Barn outlet at Washington Courthouse but I could not resist.  When I stopped the car, and wiggled their legs to get up, they both bellowed “No!”  They cried and hit the seats with their feet.  They were pissed (now they get a taste of their medicine when they wake me up everyday at 6:30 am)! We finally made it into Pottery Barn (Mario on my right hip and Maria dragging beside me) only to find no good selection of rugs.  Ugh!

So, I treated them to McDonald’s Playland.  The Washington CH Playland just got renovated and it is actually quite nice.  Mario, again, made friends immediately with two other boys who were brothers.  Maria decided to stay by her mom because her side hurt from her fall.  After letting Mario play for a half hour we took off for Columbus.  Maria begged me from the back seat to let her give Mario the horn I bought him.  I bought it for him a week ago and told him if was good all week, he would get it.  Maria convinced me he had been good since he did not scream in the middle of the wedding, and he said “thank you” when Grandma Lolo gave him food.  Pretty high standards, heh?!

As soon as we stepped in the door, Maria grabbed the horn and gave it to Mario.  The whole neighborhood knew about the present because he honked it incessantly for ten minutes straight.  We hooked it on his bike (with training wheels) and took a two-mile bike ride to our old house and back.  When we got home, the kids rested to a tv show while I mowed the grass (which looked like the grasslands).  When I finished the lawn, Maria and I played baseball.  Mario watched his last Ben Ten.  We wrapped the night up with mac-n-cheese and chicken and two books about telling the truth and a pig going to camp.  Does it get any better than that? 

When I headed outside to take out the lawn clippings, my neighbor commented about how she couldn’t believe that I could mow the grass and water the lawn in such a speedy time.  I told her about our entire day and she laughed hysterically.  “Do you ever stop,” I believe she asked, but I was already at the top of the driveway grabbing the last lawn bag to put out front.



An entire month before my travel to Oaxaca, I lamented about my upcoming trip with colleagues, friends and family. 

“The flights are so awful.” “I am going to miss the kids.” “Mario is having his big cookout for the 4th.” “I just want to rest on my three days off.”

The day crept up on me and I found myself dragging my body out of bed at 4:45 am to get ready for a 5 am pick-up.  Kissed the babies good-bye and hugged my hubby and off I went to the airport.  A coffee and oatmeal.  A Sky Mall magazine. A few words with my younger brother. A subway sandwich. Peanut M&Ms. A cranked neck.  We were there.


Plaza down from the hotel where kids play soccer

My younger sis, Sarah, has lived in Oaxaca for close to three years. She met the love of her life while going to school in the city.  He is a native to Oaxaca – his family lives in the hills abridging the city. We met him about two years ago.   He survived the family orientation. He posseses a calm demeanor, which is perfect for my energetic sis. He is a photographer – she is a writer.  They both love adventure and coffee and dancing.  They decided to “go on this journey together” and marry.  That is the reason for my departure to Oaxaca.

Sarah picked us up in a flat bed truck owned by a Mexican friend of hers.  We drove in the flat bed with the luggage back to Sarah’s apartment and our hotel.  The hotel was quaint and adorable. My room consisted of a bed, a desk, and a bathroom.  There was a courtyard on the first level and a terrace on the second level.  The courtyard had a small fountain with two snapping turtles floating in it. 

My turtles

We went to restaurants, we drank, we laughed, we reminisced.  It was wonderful.  The weather was perfect. No

The crew partying it up at a local restaurant

 humidity. Perfect blue skies. Puffy white clouds.  Large twisting trees. Incredibly difficult hiking trails. Crosses. It did not feel foreign to me – it felt like my little sister’s home.  Her wedding is able to be summed up with two rather opposing adjectives – quaint and spectacular. 

The sister and brother of her husband, Jorge, hosted the wedding in their backyard.

Getting ready for the ceremony

  Jorge’s nieces were the flower girls.  A mariachi band played. They wrote their story as the ceremony and they recited their own vows.  We danced with a live turkey. We drank Mezcal.  We jammed to old ’80s music. And at the end of the night, Sarah looked just as radiant and beautiful as she had the moment before the wedding.  

Dancing the night away

As I stood next to her and looked over at my little brother Jack who is six years younger than Sarah, flashes of their childhood came back to me with a vengeance and it seemed surreal that I was now standing in a Mexican yard watching one of them marry and the other graduate college soon.  There are moments where I feel like life is moving like molasses and the day will never end, especially when Maria and Mario are ont heir worst behavior.  But I see my little sis and bro and I see my babies at age 5 and almost 3, and I know that it in the end, it all goes lightening speed.  As it should, I suppose. Who would want to remain in high school forever?!

Dancing with the turkey

On Sunday, Jorge’s mother hosted a blessing ceremony at the same house.  She cried as she caressed Sarah’s hair and explained to us in Spanish how important it was for her to give a Catholic blessing to the new couple.  Her emotion moved us all.  The Bible verse read was raw and appropriate – one I had never heard before.  She etched the sign of the cross in the air to both Sarah and Jorge and hugged them hard.  It was one of the most tender moments.  We continued to drink Mexcal and beer and eat home-cooked food and soak in the Mexican atmosphere.  We ended the night with a round of pizzas and a game of cards.  Does life get any better?   

Meanwhile, Maria Grace celebrated at her Aunt Susie’s house with all of her aunts and her Grandma Lolo.  They toasted one to us around 6:30 pm (5:30 Mexico time when the wedding

Maria partying with her aunts

 began).  They laughed and partied and swam all night – Maria Grace had a blast with Grandma Lolo who treated her like a princess for three days straight.  She came home with toys and dresses, and coloring books and lots of fun memories. 

Proud fisherman

Mario celebrated with a night at Grandma Ionno’s house and then a trip to Uncle Mario’s house where he caught his first fish.  A catfish he would have you know.  And it was really big he would have you know.  A man’s man.

Canada or Bust

“Should we take the kids to Toronto for the wedding?” 

“Would we drive?” 

“It will be too much to fly. It would be fun to see all of the Italian relatives.” 

“But we will be in a car for eight plus hours with the kids and your parents.” 

“Let’s flip a coin.” 

After much back and forth, we decided to go for it.  Pack the car up with lots of snacks and games and books and movies.  Pick up the in-laws in Marion, Ohio to head up to Toronto with us.  Make sure someone watches our pup for four days. Ensure the “out of office” is on our email.  Confirm Maria has her wedding dress she picked out from Target and her “high heels” that she demanded to where to the event.  

We picked the kids up early from school, which always results in exuberance and glee and spazzing out throughout the halls (teachers either love us or hate us based on our (or I should say mostly, my, “laissez faire” attitude with the children).  We headed up north to grandma and grandpa’s house, got on the road, and stopped within an hour to eat some Wendy’s fast food (yes, I enjoy my food stops!).  A few value meals and a round of frosty shakes and we were back in the car watching Pocahontas as we traveled towards Cleveland.  

About three hours later, 10:30 pm, we stopped at our hotel.  Maria and Mario were so excited about staying at a hotel that it took us an hour to get them to fall asleep.  Eventually, Mario ended up with me in my bed and Maria with Jon in his bed.  I don’t know which kid is worse to sleep with since Mario wakes up crying in the middle of the night not knowing where he is and Maria kicks around the bed all night.  

M&M trying to sleep on the floor but Mom's and Dad's beds were too tempting!


When we woke up on Friday morning, the first thing out of Maria’s mouth was “can we go to the pool?”  Mario chimed in with “yeah, let’s go NOW!”  We walked down to our breakfast buffet and each devoured vastly different breakfasts (Jon with his eggs and eggs and eggs; me with my numerous cereals and toast; Mario with his waffles and dabs of yogurt; and Maria with her hodge podge of waffles, various cereals in one bowl (her new favorite thing to do for breakfast), muffins, and toast).  After our meal, the kids and I jumped in our swim suits and headed to the hotel pool.  It was surprisingly warm.  We splashed around for an hour or so and then got the boot from dad and the in-laws who wanted to get on the road. 

The water babies


“Niagara Falls, here we come!”  

We all piled into the Yukon (which is a big automobile but with two kids, four adults and a good amount of luggage , food, and toys, it is cramped) and headed onward to Buffalo, New York.  We finally made it to the Falls (after swearing we were lost on a couple of occasions).  We decided not to park and walk to the Falls because of the rain and our desire to just get to Toronto (Maria later told her girlfriend who had gone to the Falls, too, that we just “drove by them.”  Lovely!).   

Although we could not stop at the Falls, we could stop for lunch!  We stopped at another Wendy’s along the Niagara strip and chowed down on nuggets, fries, and more frostys.  We jumped back in the truck, when within five minutes, we felt a drop on the right side of the car and a terrible grinding noise.  

“What the he–?” I whispered to Patty, Jon’s mom.  

Oh please  tell me that it is nothing and the noise will stop soon.  Yeah, wishful thinking.   

A flat tire due to a piece of aluminum lodged in the big ol’ Yukon tire.  

At least we were near a house with a gravel driveway.  We pulled over.  Jon and I tried to change the tire but that was quite the joke. The man who owned the house was in a mechanic’s suit and had a work van so I kept hoping he would pity us.  Jon and I had to look hilarious outside of the truck, combing through manual pages, sliding under the truck to try to find tools.  Finally, he came over to “see what we were up to” (a nice way of saying “you dumbasses, I want you off my property so I am gonna help you in whatever way I can).” 

Workin' on that tire!


He began to help us but Jon had already called Triple A to get a “professional” on the scene.  Luckily, the Triple A guy came in less than a half hour and had us fixed up in less than that time.  Meanwhile, Patty and I couldn’t help but roll about the whole event.  

“What’s next?!” 

Surprisingly, the trip was pretty quiet after that incident and we arrived at Philip and Lucy’s house (our cousins) at 5 or so.  Lucy had cooked for us (of course).  She had a salad with tomatoes that had been picked 6 months earlier!  Is that insane?  And they were delicious!  She also had pasta soup, bread, pizza, cheese, fried cheese dumplings, and chocolate chip cookies.  Ahh, heaven.  We ate and ate and ate.  Finally, we decided we had to hit the road for our hotel in order to get some sleep for the night.  

The hotel was very European in style with a crisp, white, modern lobby but very plain, sparse rooms with two beds, a tv and a bathroom.  Maria and Mario just wanted to know where the pool was located.  We jumped in our suits and headed down for a late night swim.  The pool was freezing!  Luckily, there was a tepid hot tub in the pool area, which Mario enjoyed thoroughly.  Jon sat in the hot tub with Mario for the most part, while I caught Maria jumping into the frozen pool.  We trekked it back upstairs to our room, got in our pjs, and goofed around the room until finally zonking out at 11:30.  That, to me, was the most memorable, wonderful time of the trip.  

The next morning, the kids and I went to the breakfast buffet bar, which was way too amazing for Maria and me.  We salivated with each step around the hotcakes, the donuts, the chocolate croissants, the bacon, the cereals.   Mario, on the other hand, could have cared less about it.  After stuffing ourselves, we headed to the pool (nothing better than being completely bloated from gorging on food and then stuffing yourself into a tight bathing suit).  Mario bolted to the tepid hot tub – he is so tiny and skinny that he immediately freezes when he gets into a pool that is not heated.  Of course, I made him get out of the tub every five minutes due to my fear that his organs would melt even though the water was tepid, and he sat on the top step the entire time kicking the water around.  Maria loved jumping in the water to me and then acting like I was her prince and we had just got married.  Yes, everything these days revolves around boyfriend and girlfriend and prince and princess – even swimming. 

We headed to the wedding that afternoon, which was beautiful, simple and very catholic.  After the wedding, the families hosted the guests in the downstairs of the church with prosciutto, olives, cheeses and bread.  Desserts and fruit, too.  We all chowed down only to be fed a seven course meal a few hours later at the reception.  Yes, these Italian weddings can pack on ten pounds in one day.  Maria fell back in love with her Italian cousin, 9 year-old Jean-Franco.  A couple of years ago they played around at another Italian wedding but he was younger then and a little more amenable to playing with a 3-year-old girl.  This time around, he is 9 and “mature” and she is just old enough at 5 to be “an annoying little girl” versus a cute little toddler.  However, she was still able to spend some time with him, lying her head on his arm while he played games on his i Touch (yeah, age 9).  As she confessed later to us in the car “that was my favorite part of the trip.”  Mario ran around like a mad man, sliding across the dance floor, making monster noises, and flirting with the hot Italian ladies.   

Maria dancing with her cousins


Mario passed out at 10:30 pm just like a frat boy who parties it up so hard through the night that he lays out flat in the middle of the room when it finally hits him.  Maria made it to her car seat but was out within five minutes.  It was actually snowing when we left the wedding (ahh, I miss that now that I am dealing with 87 degrees and humidity!). 

On Sunday, we promised we would get out quickly so we could deal with the traffic and we could get home at a reasonable time.  “Get out quickly” is not a term used in the Italian culture.  There was no way we were getting out of our cousins’ house without sitting down to a big ol’ Italian lunch of pasta, manicotti, shrimp, pizza.  I am not complaining by any stretch, however, because I enjoyed every minute of it, especially the act of just sitting around and talking, relaxing, catching up.  We don’t do that enough. 

Mario with his comfort items for the trip home (bink and blue blankie)


We took off around 1:3o with the stomachs full.  The ride home went amazingly well just like the ride to Canada.  The customs line was a little longer but we kept reading to the kids and singing songs and playing “three little pigs.” I was surprised at the amount of tv watching – I thought it would be on non-stop but we managed to only watch a video here or there.   Impressive! 

Maria passed out on Grandma


When we finally pulled into the neighborhood at 9:30 pm, we felt a sense of relief in being “back home” but also a sense of loss in leaving our gregarious, generous, warm family from up north.  If Maria has her way, we will be back up this Summer so she can again hang out with Jean-Franco because he is “sooooo cute!”