But then, what doesn't these days?
We just returned from a fabulous trip to the States on Sunday afternoon, and will embark on a trip to Salzburg/Vienna/Prague on Wednesday morning. I'm fairly sure we're walking a tenuous line between ambitious and just plain crazy.
But while we're here in the UK we'd like to see as much of Europe as we can possibly
So, back to the US of A.
We spent a fantastic two solid-packed weeks of grandmas and grandpas and cousins, snuggles with our dog Riley, hugs from friends, water parks, and twin baby boys.
The kids both did great on both flights, praise God! We dumped Caroline into Juliet's baby car seat both ways and it worked like a CHARM. I'd highly recommend this strategy! The lap belt becomes a game of how crawl out of it. But a 5-point harness? Perfection. Not to mention a nice incline for good sleep. And Caroline may or may not have watched Cars 2 five times over the two flights, so kiddie head phones were perfect.
Miss Juliet got to meet all kinds of family and friends. I'm so glad we were able to travel with her when she was still tiny. She got to meet 6 of her 7 great-grandparents, along with countless other family members and friends who have been loving her and praying for her from afar.
My Oma, Ben's girlfriend Annie, my brother Ben, and my cousin Erin with baby Juliet
My grandpa and mom
My cousin Elizabeth and Aunt Jo, my Grandma (who MADE that awesome quilt as a baby gift for us!), my Oma, and Juliet's cousin Aiydan
I got to take some pics of Montoya's kids - aren't they cute?
We threw my two in there for a few shots as well.
The only thing getting Caroline through the photo shoot was a sucker!
We adults got to catch up with loved ones, too. As much as Skype and FaceTime help us feel close to people back home, it just isn't the same as sitting on a friends' couch, enjoying breakfast out at with grandparents, or laughing around a kitchen table over glasses of wine.
And NOTHING comes close to holding new babies. My BFF and cousin Erin went into labor with her twins two days before we arrived in the States. I was afraid I'd miss their birth all together, but those handsome rascals decided to make their appearance at 35 weeks. I'm confident they just wanted to meet Auntie Jessie.
Holding hands with Hendrick, handsome Andres.
Since they were tiny, they spent 10-ish days in the NICU. I got to visit them there almost every day I was in town (thanks to my parents, who babysit my kids!) I loved seeing their precious little faces, and even getting to hold and feed them. But I loved getting to see Erin become a mama even more. She's amazing at it.
My mom postponed her annual Valentine's Day breakfast so that we could be a part of it. The tablecloth and the pancakes in particular take me back to my childhood, when she would get up early and make us a special candlelit breakfast complete with heart-shaped pancakes before we went off to school.
After a few days in Grand Rapids, we headed up to Northern Michigan (Traverse City) with Josh's parents (who had generously agreed to fly to Michigan from Texas, sparing us yet another flight with the girls) to see Josh's grandparents AND stay at the Great Wolf Lodge, a fantastic indoor water park.
Josh's grandparents with Josh and our girls.
Caroline and Josh's mom (Nana) playing stickers. Nana always comes prepared with treats!
After Traverse City we headed down to Columbus (by way of Ann Arbor for dinner with the LeComptes) for a few days. And I took way too few pictures! But suffice it to say we enjoyed several breakfast, lunch, and dinner dates with old friends. WE MISS YOU ALL!
And then the girls and I were back in G-Rap for a hot minute before we flew back to the UK. But those two days gave us the chance for family fun at my parents' gym, and one more opportunity for me to snuggle Erin's twins (who were home - hooray!)
Josh and I spend countless conversations hashing out differences between US and UK life. And in the course of those I like to hand out the "gold stars."
History. Quaint. Old. Castles. Abbeys. Cathedrals. Medical care post-childbirth. The River Thames. Charming little towns.
Gold Star UK
Restaurants that provide enough ice and ketchup. Oyster Crackers. Goldfish. Barbeque. Low prices. Pay-at-the-pump gas. Pei Wei. Good pizza. Drive-thrus. Low prices, again. Graeters and Jeni's Ice Cream (for Josh). Larger parking spaces. People we love.
Gold Star USA
Suffice it to say we indulged in a variety of old US favorites in addition to spending lots of quality time with friends and family. And as much fun as we're having in the UK, there's truly no place like home!