Well, you get the point, our luggage was enormous! Not at all like last year during this time when Brian and I flew on a MUNCH needed vacation to celebrate my 40th birthday and our 3rd anniversary in Dominican Republic - solo. We were very lucky that Kaitlyn stayed at the most wonderful place: The George Marks House in the East Bay (Northern California).. http://www.georgemark.org/
Anyways, we were off on our first Family Vacation to Lake Chautauqua in Western NY. This is an AMAZING Place that my in-laws have a 2nd home there. My mother in law worked feverishly all winter to expand the house so that her ever expanding family could all fit. Elissa (Brian's sister) and Mike (Elissas husband) planned it so that they would be there when we were. We were able to meet Cousin Stella for the first time. I'm actually an Aunt@ It's sad that we've never gotten to even meet my darling little Niece before she was 1 years old! Aunt Elissa came to visit her niece Kaitlyn 2 times (1 while we were still in the NICU and the other time we had just come home with Baby Kaitlyn finally).
We had a fabulous time on the trip, I hope you can tell by these pictures:
Kaitlyn decided the perfect time to nap was during the 45 minute ride in our car TO the airport. We couldn't wake her up, here she is sleeping in the parking lot while Brian went to get our car. Look how many bags we have! Goodness. Kaitlyn is OBSESSED with balloons...I mean really obsessed. If she sees one anywhere, she will follow that child and try to take his balloon, over and over. If we don't' find a balloon soon, we may well have other kids screaming. Luckily we found a ready balloon vendor nearby. This took place in the center guards of The Chautauqua Institution.
More pictures from the center of the Plaza. This is Brian and Elissa Tessier and their 2 daughters (cousins Kaitlyn and Stella). Kaitlyn is 6 months older than Stella, but they look very similar. Kaitlyn could do some things better than Stella and Stella could do some things better than Kaitlyn. It was a nice learning experience for the both of them. Kaitlyn hasn't been able to spend this much time with other kids. It was great! Look how much Brian and Elissa look alike...That's where I know Kaitlyn gets her looks - from her pappas side of the family.
Because she has a balloon, you are guaranteed lots of smiles! and her saying "baaalllloooo" very quietly, but she says it all right. When one balloon popped, she even started her 2 word sentences: "baba balllloooooo" Very very cute. You really have to listen hard to hear it, but it's just so sweet to hear her voice!
Some Family portraits (for the Holiday Christmas card). as it's unlikely that we would all be together again before the holidays.. From L to R: Brian, Kaitlyn, Liz , Markie (Margaret & Brian's mom),Ed (Brian's Dad), Elissa (Brian's sister) cousin Stella and Mike Tessier (Brian's Brother in law). I feel so lucky and blessed to have such an incredibly wonderful family. You always hear of just horror stories of in-laws. And I can more than honestly say I love my in-laws. They made our trip so amazing, welcoming. I feel very fortunate indeed. I just wish we lived closer!!!
A McCarthy Family Shot (with balloon of course)
We found matching outfits for the girls to take our family portrait shots...they were much more interested in causing havock back at home. Kaitlyn learned to Throw the fridge magnets across the room and started giggling when you told her to stop and pick them up. She never threw them before across the room, and she never defiantly did something you didn't' want her to do. Well there's some good here. Kaitlyn learned that behavior from Stella, and Stella learned from Kaitlyn how to put the letters back on the fridge. They were like little magnets themselves, learning so much from each other. It was really wonderful to experience.
Some more lessons, Kaitlyn knew how to Kiss (but not hug) and Stella knew how to hug and not kiss. Here they are working on practicing those new skills with each other.
The McCarthy Women! Kaitlyn, Liz, Markie, Elissa and Stella Tessier. Brian and I need to have a boy so the McCarthy name will carry on!
Another family shot, this one was taken in front of the Hall of Philosophy, one of the venues for lectures and is actually where Elissa and Mike were married just 2 short years ago (when I was pregnant and had just miscarried my triplet). It felt strange in some ways being back now, when I was here I didn't really leave feeling very well, I was so sad to have my miscarry happen during Elissa and Mike's wonderful celebration. I tried to suck it up best I could, but I was told I should stay in bed as much as possible...oh how I wish I knew then what was coming!
The Cousins causing mischief again!
Elissa had the great idea to let the girls do some finger painting....I think they had a lot of fun, but Kaitlyn (as always) is a little nervous around new things.Now they are starting to get the hang of this finger painting stuff! Painting Stellas Budda Belly!
we worked really hard to get this kiss on camera...only about 50 takes (thank god for digital cameras)
Kaitlyn's sensory issues flare up sometimes, (see above) but she did amazingly well with all of the new sensory overload...I was really pleased.
The girls looking at something very interesting in their boat, maybe dreaming of the next time they'll be there for the summer and they can be swimming about on their own!
Not an easy task to get them looking at the same place at the same time.
A little beach time play in the sand. Kaitlyn loves to dig up sand and put it in her bucket, over and over and over. It's great, I can actually sit on a towel for maybe, oh....5 minutes. (A reminder once again of how different life was before children). The beach was just a 5 minute walk from the home, so we were close by to go home to do the feeds every 2 hours.
Dad, Kaitlyn and I in front of some of the cottages of Chautauqua
Any ways, this town is the largest place for the Practice of Spirituality. It was nice to visit it. I became quite emotional over the loss of Corinne and how much I miss her.
We then went to a nice local "diner" where we some at least 2 mullets (I wanted to take a secret picture, but didnt' know how to go about doing that).
After that we drove into the Amish country and purchased some Jam. A woman there told me that she had a preemie that was born 2 months early and was in the NICU for 2 months. My husband was surprised that they would even use hospitals at all. With their Dutch accent and their clothes, it was so foreign to me, but very interesting to see.
This is a picture of a family loading up hay bales (that they had bailed by hand) onto their horse drawn buggy. You don't see that out here in California.
Always nice to throw in a happy girl!
And a kiss to dad, with Stella watching (and learning)
A little book time reading from Auntie Elissa....We all had such a nice time together. I wish everyone wasn't so far away. I'd love for Kaitlyn and Stella to be able to grow up closer.
Poor Mike (Stella's dad) was very jelous of Kaitlyn's hair. I once even asked him if he wanted to put in her pig tails, as he'd need the practice!
Kaitlyn has a nice soap mohalk! Look at all that hair Mike!
K and Stella having a great time together in the bath.
This was a nighly activity during one of the performances, just outside the Ampitheatre the toddlers were kept busy by teh grandparents, and we got to watch a bit of the s how. What a nice treat with toddlers.
In this picture, Kaitlyn is clearly saying, "now hurry up girls, you are pushing me too slowly!"
She is a very serious little car driver! It was craking me up!
Finally, on a little down hill she let go and smiled and had a ball (with a lot of hands and cheers coaching her on!) Every time the audience clapped for a performance, Kaitlyn would clap too and try to figoure out what she did! It was too cute.
Markie pushing Kaitlyn, while She and Ed swing Stella. They are on cloud 9 having both their Granddaughters there.
Trying out the boat.
Brian and his Neice, Cousin Stella, already a great Steelers Fan!
Kaitlyn is puckering up to give Stella a kiss in this picture
Stella, the line-backer, is preparing to give Kaitlyn a hug! (or bowl her over)
It was raining, and Kaitlyn decided she was ready to play and splash in the puddles. BOy did she have a blast!
Stella was a bit timid about the whole water thing, but caught right on from her Big Cousin Kaitlyn!
They were both soakng wet and had a blast!
OK, to end on a sad note, Kaitlyn didnt' want to go home! As you probalby know, Kaitlyn rarely gets upset. I dont' remember now what this was over, but she looks so pitifually sad. I thought it was a good "ByeBye" picture...I'll Miss Grandma (Mame) and Grandpa (Gille), Cousin Stella, Auntie Elissa and Uncle Mike! We all had a fabulous time and miss you all already.