All-Over-the-Place Labor Day Recap

For Labor Day, we went home to N.J. and it was WONDERFUL. I loved every minute of being home with my family — the little family I’ve created with Luis, and the one I was born into.

The three of us flew in from Michigan, my brother flew in from California with his girlfriend (whom we adore!), and my sister came in from NYC. My parents were thrilled to have “all their chickies in the nest” and, per usual, smitten by Maya and it was just an all-around awesome and relaxing time. We ate, we drank, we were merry.  I was sad to not be able to see any of my high school friends this trip but it was really all about family this time. Between full moon gazing (thanks to Dad’s new toy!) park playing, boat riding, lake splashing, Catchphrase winning, winery sipping, woods hiking … it was a blast through and through.

My brother hadn’t seen Maya since April (when we were all in Jamaica) so though we Skype regularly, he was surprised at how much she’s changed. And even since June, when my parents and sister last saw her, she’d changed a ton. Physically, she’s not much bigger — she only weighed 24 lbs at her doctor’s appointment yesterday; still a lil peanut for her age — but she’s a little taller/leaner and has way more hair and even more personality now.

Perhaps the biggest difference is how she is verbalizing the world around her now. It’s amazing to all of us how much her vocabulary has expanded,  but also seeing even more growth in her overall comprehension/cognitive skills. For example, my mom and dad got her this great Melissa & Doug hide-and-seek toy where you open various doors and (magnetic) objects are inside — like a car inside a garage; a bird inside of a bird cage). By the second day playing with it, she knew where each object went — even things she’d never seen before (treasure chest; a Thanksgiving turkey; a lunch box; etc). And the fact that she can tell us when she’s hungry now (“Eat!”), when she wants water (“agua” or “wah-tey”) or is tired (“night night”)  — has been super-helpful, especially while traveling!

She’s a little firecracker now — and has an amazing sense of humor. Like most toddlers, she loves to be silly and make us laugh and be the center of attention. That said, I half-expected her to freak out on my family — being at that very clingy mommy-only stage one day and not the next … but surprisingly she reached for each of them and would call out their names all weekend long, looking at their pics on the wall of my parents’ kitchen or at their actual faces. She knows them … and that means the world to me. That has been my biggest fear about living so far away. Skype has really been our saving grace.

In fact, when she woke up from her nap at home the day we got back, she pointed into space and asked for “Lala” — what she calls my sister! It was the cutest thing.

What sucks is I don’t know the next time I’ll be able to go home. She is changing so quickly and I hate the fact that they aren’t here to see it in person, and they hate it, too. Hopefully they can come visit soon because once Maya turns two … it’s going to be much harder for us to travel as often as we do now — and Michigan is not a hop, skip and jump from N.J. or California.

I will say that I think the one benefit — if there is one? — to having family far away is we have literally no choice but to communicate regularly and then, when we are together, make the absolutel best of each visit. Just like when Luis and I were long-distance international … we lived for our next visits and bided (is that a word?) the time talking on the phone, emailing, texting … it was our only option.

Of course, this doesn’t mean all visits are rosy or that we don’t fight (trust me, with 7 adults and a toddler in one four-bedroom house, it isn’t always easy!) but for the most part, we really do just love each other and want to spend time together. I’ve always been  of my envious friends who have family close by, or at least within driving distance, like it used to be for me when I lived in D.C.

And I’ve wondered sometimes — if my family did live down the street, would we see each other that much more? I have no idea. We’re a busy little family of four (counting Rocco) and right now, we have concentrated spurts of time with my family. We spend weeks/months planning visits and trips — we’re already planning Jamaica 2013 for next April! — so it’s anyone’s guess as to how it’d be if we did all live close. I like to think we would be as close. Maybe someday we will be closer geographically … til then we’ll have to keep living for weekends like this!

How about you? Do you have family close by? Do you think distance would make a difference?

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