While we enjoyed every moment of the trip, and getting to spend a lot of time (8 days total) with friends and family who we don't get to see often, there really is no place like home and we are happy to be back. One of the best thing I did was having the foresight to book our return on a Friday, so that we have a full weekend to recover from the trip before having to get back to work. It was definitely much needed. I've discovered from past trips that I definitely need a vacation from a vacation. So, now that our bags are unpacked and our life returns to normal, it is nice to look back at some of the pictures we took on the trip.
We arrived to Philly on late Thursday afternoon. So other than stopping by my mother-in-law's (MIL) house for a quick dinner and drove an hour out to our destination, we didn't get much accomplished that day.
On Friday we rose early, especially considering the 3 hour time difference between the west coast and east coast, we made the two hour drive to see my father-in-law and his family in New Jersey. It was a quick trip consisting of the Cape May Zoo and a quick bite to eat before we make the two hour return trip back to Philly. So while we spent more time driving than the quality time spent with family, it proved to be worthwhile because our girl get to meet her uncle and aunt for the first time. And while she doesn't typically take the strangers fast, she absolutely adored her aunt Rosemary, and the sentiment is returned. They are so cute together walking through the zoo hand in hand.
Gorgeous peacock showing off at the Cape May Zoo.
Saturday was the big day and the reason for the trip - it was Joe's sister's wedding reception. She got legally married in Jamaica only weeks prior, and held a reception back at home for family and friends. Our girl played the part of flower girl, unfortunately not very well since there was a lot going on, so it makes for a very tired Mama at the end of the night. But, it was a beautiful day for a wedding celebration, and it is all worth it. Congratulations to my sister-in-law and her new husband.
Sunday was Mother's Day, and we spent the majority of the day chilling and finally gathering at my MIL's house for a quick get-together. No must, no fuss. Other than some internal and private reflecting on what the day mean to me, there was nothing to speak to about it.
Knowing that our week ahead was going to be full, we took the opportunity to relax on Monday, where there was nothing planned on our schedule. We didn't get dressed until well into the afternoon, when we took our hosts for the trip (Joe's brother and his girlfriend) out to dinner in an attempt to thank them for their hospitality. We went to Fogo de Choa, an upscale Brazilian steak house in Philly. The food was wonderful, and the service impeccable, but there was just so much meet that left me filled to the brim and completely uncomfortable in my 6 months pregnant state. Could definitely do without that last piece of filet mignon, or the dessert and cappuccino.
On Tuesday, we returned to Philly to go to the aquarium at a nearby town. Our hosts' house has a little fish tank filled with five fish, and our girl was totally taken with them, insisting on saying good night and good morning to them every single day. So, the trip to the aquarium was impromptu to show her more variety in her recent interest. If there is one thing my girl loves, it is animals of all shapes and sizes.
Our plan to make the two hour drive to Washington D.C. to visit the nation's capitol was derailed from exhaustion resulting from too much driving during our trip. After all, my brother-in-law's house that we were staying at during the trip was a good hour drive each way from Philly, so every single day, we find ourselves making the two hour trip back and forth. So, at the last minute, we decided that we will see the capitol another time and spent the day seeing Amish country instead, where it was the next town away. Never in my life could I ever imagine that I would be there, witnessing life led a totally different way. It was breathtaking and eye-opening at the same time. And boy do they have some wonder antique shops where we spent a good three hour debating what would fit in our limited luggage space. In the end, we walked away with some small items that my MIL would have to ship back to us. If only I lived there, I would never have to set foot in another Ikea again to furnish my house. It was heaven.
We spent the last full day in Philly where we drove around visiting people we haven't seen in a long time. When I was pregnant with our girl, there were also a lot of people that were pregnant at around the same time. Ultimately, we all had kids within weeks or months of each other, including one cousin who was born on the exact same day as our girl. While they lived all the way out in Pittsburg (6 hour drive from Philly), they decided to make the long drive out to Philly to meet up and let the kids meet for the first time after almost two years. It was wonderful to witness these kids, so differently fated, connected through blood and birth date. Though I never met these people, it seems like I have known them forever thanks to Facebook and other social media but it was definitely nice to put faces to the names.
Antonio and Lia, 6 months apart, meeting for the first time.
Connor and Lia, cousins, born 6 hours apart, meeting for the first time.
Connor, Lia and Lily, 2 weeks apart.
And in the afternoon, when we returned to my MIL's house after spending some time at the park for what seemingly was a little get-together to bid us farewell, I was greeted by many more guests than I realized who all came for my surprised baby shower. My dear and sweet MIL had quietly organized the whole thing, and many people make the long drives to make it to celebrate with us and our soon-to-be bundle of joy, and I was completely taken aback and overjoyed. We were definitely loved that night, so it was hard to bid farewell.
Alas, Friday came, and we indeed had to say our goodbyes. We left with heavy hearts, not knowing when we will get to see our beloved family again, but hoping soon. My dear MIL cannot tear herself from my girl as she whispered to her grandma her goodbyes. As if knowing her cue, she waved gently and gave her a hug that just broke my MIL's heart. It broke my heart to have witnessed it all, and wished we could have lived closer to prevent such heartaches. But such is life and it makes us look forward to our next get together when we can be together again.
We returned home exhausted but satisfied. Not sure how we will make it through the week, until I realized that we have a long weekend to look forward to next week. For now, I am chugging on to get through the work week.