The initial plan for our summer 2016 involved continuing year-round school without a break, and our not having travel plans this particular year. Several changes went topsy turvy, one of which was my choosing to cancel plans to attend the national IHM conference in Virginia (a homeschooling conference) because I realized my 11-month-old is no longer portable whatsoever. I would end up missing virtually all of the talks because of his noise and mobility.
Once I decided not to go, that freed up this particular weekend to meet our Texas relatives in Buffalo, NY, and, thus, a family reunion was born. Chris' parents both grew up in Buffalo, so the extended sides of the family are each there.
|Some, but not all, of the luggage for the car|
On Thursday, Chris departed for Buffalo by vehicle, with his dad and our three oldest children in tow. Packing took even more organization than usual because I sent almost all of our luggage in the car, reserving only one small emergency overnight bag for those of us traveling by airplane.
We even packed the piano music binders and Mary's violin, with the intention that they keep up their practice on vacation (there being a piano in the house where we will be staying). Our teachers explain that they see big backslide in ability to play when their students go on vacation and stop practicing--let alone children who take off the summer entirely. I was told that the rule of thumb they see, based on decades of experience, is that every day lost from practicing equals about two days of achievement lost. Having seen my children play a song for months and then "lose it" (can no longer remember it) because they reduced playing it even to only a couple of times per week, that just seems like money burned and time wasted, so we will attempt keeping up with repertoire and making progress on our new pieces.
|The "car team" headed to Buffalo|
The "car team" departed for Buffalo on Thursday at 6:30 a.m., leaving "the airplane team" (Mama, Joseph, Thomas) twenty-four additional hours back in Charlotte to wrap up tasks and generally have peace and quiet. (Meanwhile, the remnant of "the Atlanta team"--Grandmom!--would be flying in on Saturday.)
Chris was planning to break up the 12-hour drive over two days, but it was going so wonderfully that he did it in one straight shot and made it to Buffalo for dinner at Ted's Hot Dog Stand and swimming in his cousin's hot tub!
Back at home, Joseph went to sleep with his new-to-us airplane book which we had purchased that very day for twenty-five cents at the library.
I arranged with my very responsible, grandfatherly aged neighbor, Mr. R----, to arrive Friday at 7:00 a.m. to give us a ride to the airport. Still, it remained to figure out exactly how one lone adult was going to ferry inside the airport a backpack (carry on), a rolling suitcase, a double umbrella stroller, two large car seats, a three-year-old-who-darts, and a 25-pound baby.
I packed lightly for the airplane ride--in terms of entertainment. I've learned the hard way that I don't even have hands free to manage electronics or books or crafts for my preschooler while I'm holding a baby in arms. I packed three Playaways (tiny mp3 player devices containing children's audio books) which I checked out from the library, as well as one 2"x 3" notepad with half a dozen crayons, and Ziplock bags full of snacks. That's it! (Tip on snacks: hand the preschooler one snack at a time--like one raisin or one cracker--instead of giving him his own bag full in order to make the eating game stretch a long time.)
I have found that the greatest entertainment device for flying with a preschooler is my own patience and voice: so many verbal games like I Spy, or stories, or animal noises, or just conversing with them endlessly. On this trip, we played a fun game of telling verbal stories back and forth to each other, which I would then sketch out in crayon on the notepad.
|After screaming for some time, the baby fell asleep for half an hour.|
Chris and the children met me at the airport, which was a joyous reunion with tackling hugs.
There are many, many Lauer families here, most living within a three-mile area, which makes for a lot of back-and-forth socializing and helping of each other. Babysitting back and forth, plowing each other's snowing driveways, and so forth. We are staying at one cousin's beautiful and well-kept home, where we settled in before heading to another cousin's home to swim with the four grandchildren she was babysitting. Nine children nine and under swimming in a sparkling pool on an exquisitely landscaped property.
|Thomas enjoyed the water.|
The children found their best climbing tree yet in this exquisite old maple.
More and more kids showed up from the numerous branches of this family tree. One family brought their three-year-old and gorgeously plump twin 9-month-olds (25 pounds and 19 pounds, on Mama's good milk!). Joseph enjoyed putting this plate as a hat on one twin's head.
Later the Texas contingent showed up with their three children who can hardly be called children anymore!
Our kids were so exhausted by this point. The three olders had slept only about seven hours the night before, and my two babies had been awake since 5:30 a.m., followed by plane travel and swimming. Joseph (3) fell asleep in the car ride home and didn't wake up through being transferred to bed and dressed in PJs--sweet boy!
And that wrapped up our first day in Buffalo!