We flew from Tucson Arizona to Baltimore Maryland, where we stayed in a hotel for the night, getting some much needed rest. The following morning, we piled into our rented Toyota Sienna and headed North.
For me personally, this seemed like the longest part of the trip. I was more than eager to see my sister, brothers, parents, and all the nieces and nephews I have not seen in so long, along with some little ones we had never met. Of course traveling with 4 children and a husband with a bladder the size of a pea caused many bathroom stops, not to mention a thunderstorm and plenty of summer time road construction sites.
Things always seem to remain just as I remembered them each time I return home. My parents house and yard is just as I recalled growing up. Gorgeous green trees that always seemed to hold one or two of my children at any given time, my father's flawlessly manicured lawn, the freshly painted red picnic tables and adirondack chairs neatly arranged in the shade of the same tree Craig had vengefully hung my underwear from 18 years prior. Ah.. Memories.
We are so blessed. My siblings, and their children are as beautiful, happy, and healthy as I could possibly imagine. Mom and Dad are still working hard as ever, never showing an ounce of fatigue. Life is good.
We spent our days swimming in the pool, sipping lemonade and sucking popsicles in the yard. Kick ball games were a daily occurrence. Uncle Tom brought a big blow up ball to Grandma and Grandpa's that the kids would pile inside of and we would roll them around in the yard. There were water ballons, kites, bikes, tractor rides, fishing, and s'mores. It warmed my heart and soul to see my children doing all the same things, all in the same place I spent my entire childhood, 10 cousins all united for the very first time.
A trip to New York would not be complete without Hoffmann hotdogs, Pepi's Pizza, Panther Lake, and the Sylvan Beach Midway. Teddy and Patrick went on their first Scrambler ride while Rowan and Liam lit up the kiddie park. The evening would not be complete without the entire family piling on the antique carousel dating back more than a century.
During our visit my 94 year old grandmother passed away. She was hands down one of the most incredible women you would ever meet. She earned a Bachelor's Degree as a young woman during the depression, serving as one of the very first women in the United States Navy, and raised 7 children. She had the hardest work ethic, relentless dedication to her family, and warmest smile of any woman you would ever meet. Unfortunately we had to leave Central New York on the day of her funeral, the same day as my mother's birthday. It was very hard to leave on such an important day. I was leaving the only home I knew for the first 18 years of my life, and missing a celebration of the two women who had the greatest influence on my life.
It was time to set out on yet another life changing experience.
Cousins enjoying a popsicle.
Tractor rides from Grandpa
Fishing off the dock and boats on Panther Lake
Teddy, 9 years, Westyn, 2 months
Chillin' in our life vests with cousin Carter in the canoe
Summer nights with family
"I will always remember catching my first fish!" -Rowan Finley age 5
Rowan, age 5, Madeline, age 8 relaxing poolside.