Our trip to the states: Week 2

After a wonderful week with Charlie’s family, it was time for a week with the Mraz clan. 33 relatives packed into 2 houses for a week…sounds like a reality show! Believe it or not, we all get along, and we always have a fantastic time together.

I briefly mentioned in the previous post that Connor has been teething this entire time. He just finished cutting all 4 molars right before our trip, so we thought he would have a well-deserved teething break during vacation. Nope, the canine teeth decided to give him a run for his money immediately following the molars. Along with the jetlag and getting used to new people and places, he was a drooling, snotty, uncomfortable, teething mess most of the first week. By the end of our first vacation week, he was finally feeling relief from his teeth, and I think that was part of the reason he had been so clingy during the first week. We were (pleasantly) shocked at how he immediately warmed up to everyone at the beach! Suddenly he was Mr. Independent, whereas I could hardly leave the room even for a moment during the first week.

Connor loved the ocean! On our first full day, we put on all of his swimming apparel (courtesy of Gram and Aunt Michelle), covered him with sunscreen, and headed to the beach. Connor had a blast playing at the shoreline as the waves came in, dunking his bucket and shovel into the sand and water. After we had sand in places we didn’t even know we had, we walked back to the house, showered off outside, and gave Connor his first experience in a big pool. (Our family had two houses for the week, and both had pools!) Well, we should have quit while we were ahead, because the pool was more frustrating than fun. Connor liked the water…actually, he liked it a little too much. He wanted to just go in all the way by himself, and wasn’t content in a raft or someone’s arms. We decided that was enough water and sun for one day, and spent the rest of the day playing indoors. With so many people around, Connor constantly had playmates! Plus, he found the cupboards filled with pots and lids. You have never seen a happier little guy!

Most of the days were some variation on a theme of relaxing inside, going for a walk, going to the beach and/or pool, napping, playing card games, drinking the cocktail of the day, and enjoying everyone’s company! Connor learned many new tricks from my relatives, like the fist bump, saying “zoom!” as the cars drive by, actually blowing on the bubble wand instead of just putting it in his mouth, and blowing on something that’s hot…just to name a few! Some of my cousins were fascinated with Connor’s signs, so he was able to teach them a few tricks right back!

We bought a flotation swimsuit for Connor halfway through the week to try and give him a little more freedom in the pool. The shirt had flotation inserts built into it, but it was too big for him, so once he got into the water the whole thing just lifted all the way to his chin and was really awkward for him. By the end of the week, we had given up on the pool and went back to the beach instead.

Connor’s flotation suit…”Get me out of this thing!!”
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My mom came to visit us this week! She drove up to Virginia and stayed with her sister for a few days, and came to visit us at the beach for two days. It was so great to spend time with her, and she loved playing with Connor. We enjoyed some quality time together watching Connor play in the sand, doing the Jumble puzzles in the newspaper, and catching up on our soap opera.

Charlie had two fun outings during the week: deep sea fishing, and a trip to Jamestown. The fishing trip wasn’t exactly successful (the group only came home with one fish and one small shark), but Charlie still had a great time hanging out with some of my uncles and cousins.

There is always an abundance of delicious homemade meals and snacks when the Mraz family gets together, but we always go out to dinner one night during the beach week. We used to go to the same restaurant as one giant group, but over the last few vacations we have split up in order to please various palates. Charlie, Connor, and I went to a BBQ restaurant with two of my aunts, several cousins, and an uncle. We took turns chasing Connor around the restaurant until it was time to eat, then he sat and happily ate dinner with us. Our meals weren’t that great, but the BBQ nachos and fried pickle appetizers were the biggest hits.

After our evening out to dinner
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The last full day was filled with trying to enjoy every moment. Some beach highlights include my cousin Max being buried in the sand, watching a low-flying chinook cruise by, playing with Connor in the sand and shore, and taking a few group photos once we realized “most of us” were there.

Ready to walk to the beach!
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“Evan, I brought my shovel to help you finish burying Max!”
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Sand AND water?? I LOVE the beach!
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Most of the family…eleven were still at the house or pool
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My cousins!
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The last day also included two outings for Charlie and me (gasp!) without our little sidekick. Yes folks, these were the only two times in the entire last year that one of us has not been with Connor. We went to beach yoga in the morning with a group of my uncles and cousins (soooo relaxing to listen to the waves), and in the afternoon, Charlie and I took a canoe ride along the canal behind our house. Connor had a blast while we were gone both times, and I’m pretty sure he didn’t even miss us! The day wrapped up with a group picture by the pool, and packing up the dreaded suitcases :(.

The traditional poolside shot of the whole family
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Everyone was up early on Saturday to start the journey home. My dad and stepmom drove us back to Michelle’s house, then they said goodbye and started their own trek back to Georgia. We enjoyed a relaxing afternoon and evening with Michelle and her family.

Last shot before we left the beach house. Connor says, “If I force a smile, can we stay another week??”
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On Sunday, it was time to head to the airport. We pretty much had a flawless trip back to Germany. No delays, all bags arrived on time, and the only meltdown Connor had during the entire journey home was when I left him with Charlie to go to the bathroom by myself on the plane!

The sad realization at the end of the vacation was that I felt like we were LEAVING home instead of GOING home. We are definitely enjoying our time in Germany, but we are so much looking forward to living near family when we move back to the states in two years.

All in all, we had a fantastic trip! As I’m writing this blog, we have basically recovered from jetlag and we’re back on normal schedules, and Charlie has been back to work for several days. Connor’s excitement over reacquainting himself with his own toys has overshadowed the longing for all of his playmates that he left behind.

I will leave you with a few more pictures, because that’s the real reason you read the blog anyway, right?

This is my serious face. I seriously want to go to the beach.
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Beach kisses 🙂
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Proof that Charlie was there!
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Our little beach bum20130807-100243.jpg
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