This was kind of a big deal. My best friend since forever coming to see our Maryland home for the first time. She's a bit of a world traveler and has been just about everywhere, so I've been dying to show her our life here. She gracefully agreed to fly out and then help me fly the kids back for our first California summer vacation.
It was a nice, lazy week. A clothing optional, bathing suit mandatory kind of week. We had lazy dinners on our backyard grass and talked while the kids played.
Tia Amy hasn't seen us since she volunteered to do Disney World with us almost two years ago. The kids had vague memories of her, and she fit seamlessly into our lives. She doesn't have unrealistic expectations of vacations with kids in the mix, and she isn't needy.
We took her wading in the Chesapeake. It doesn't compare to our beloved Florida beaches, but you do what you can.
We had unspeakable things to eat, like Martin's donuts and Wawa slurpees. We had Chipotle and nut mix to balance it out.
One week later, we packed up the kids and prepared for our first cross-country flight with three kids. We hugged Daddy goodbye and promised to see him in two whole weeks.
Devon hadn't flown since he was a baby, and the girls' only previous flight was as very young toddlers. A lifetime ago!!
We watched excitedly as the plane slowly arrived. Maybe a little too excitedly. Traffic had favored us and we were early. The kids had been promised a plane ride, and they demanded one now. We brought out the tablet and the LeapPads to amuse them. We started in on the snacks meant to keep them satisfied during a six hour flight. I watched with dismay as my bag of tricks grew emptier and emptier. We hadn't even taken off yet. What were we going to do for six hours???
As we prepared for takeoff, the kids amused the crew and passengers by chanting a countdown. We were blessed with no flight fears and no ear pressure issues. The flight went pretty well, considering. But still, there are no words for it. Any of it. The stab of anxiety I felt every time Devon accidentally kicked the chair of the person in front of him and she turned around to glare at me. My incredulity as the kids at apple after apple, cookie after cookie, granola bar after granola bar and still begged for more food because they were starving. My panic when I realized that it had never occurred to me to bring earphones for the kids' games. I've never been more relieved to see anyone when Tim and Bojana met us at the airport with Louis, their dog.
It was a joyful but somewhat frazzled reunion. The kids passed out on the two hour drive to Modesto. I relaxed. We made it.
The next morning we were up with the sun and eager to enjoy a California vacation. The girls had never been to Grammy's house and Devon couldn't remember it.
We marveled at the hot, dry air and brittle lawns of mid-drought California. We enjoyed ripe summer berries, peaches, and apricots. Grammy asked us what we wanted from the fruit stand.
The kids asked for ham sandwich with mayonnaise for lunch, a favorite. We ate on the back porch, surrounded by loved ones and flowers. Vacation had begun.
Daddy turned something or other on May 19th. As adults we occasionally mistake our own ages, where our kids keep track of theirs in fractions. All Craig asked for this year was an ice cream cake. Unfortunately, it baked while all three kids were running wild, and we didn't remember to get it out of the oven in time. It was the hardest cake I've ever seen.
Kids aren't picky, though. Pretty much anything is edible if you put enough hot fudge on it.
Birthday evening was spent at an Elkton park with Rita's Italian Ice.
Days later, we celebrated another huge milestone. Devon's last day of school. I'm not one for chalkboards or commemorative t-shirts, but I did get a quick snap of the big boy riding between his sissies as I was dropping him off. His last week was an outdoor sports day, a water day, and a promotion party.
Ceremony night was a whirlwind. When we quickly parked and prepared to race in, we realized that I'd somehow grabbed only three of the girls' shoes. I'll forever remember the run into the building with Me holding Devon and Carrie's hands and Melina in sock feet being carried by her Daddy.
Speaking of Daddy, this craft almost made me bawl. He doesn't just want to be A daddy. He wants to be HIS daddy. Awwww!! We took our seats and waited for the graduates to file in.
What a happy guy! We are so thankful for a wonderful place for Devon this year. Devon took the stage and held up his diploma for all to see. The glare of the lights made it impossible for my hastily focused camera phone to get a good picture, so I tried to freeze the moment in my mind as they introduced "Daring, Determined, Distinguished DEVON!".
We celebrated with the families afterwards. Devon was allowed TWO cupcakes. You don't graduate preschool every day.
And just like that, the year is over. The alphabet crafts are in a box in Mommy's closet. The preschool room will stand empty for the summer, and then welcome Carrie and Melina in the fall. I admit, I'm challenged by the thought of needing to provide Devon with enough stimulation this summer. I don't think I can do as much as Mrs. Sulzbach and Mrs. Lasensky have done.
Devon writes his name, although he still insists he likes to write with both hands equally well. I think he'll choose left when he is ready. Right now he just wants to ride bike through the sprinklers all day and forget about school for a while.