After the baptism ceremony, we headed back to Lexi's house, where her mother had prepared a little brunch for everyone who attended. There were cinnamon rolls, fresh fruit, a delicious blueberry bread pudding, and (the favorite of all of the kids) powdered sugar doughnuts - white, reflecting the occasion. Lexi opened gifts, and thoroughly enjoyed the time with her family and friends. I was so surprised at the variety of people who came in honor of this little girl - everyone from daddy's friends at the gym to school friends to the usual church friends. It was a very good day for a very good girl.
In the afternoon, the little ones, Travis and Skylee, went down for naps and Matthew and Lexi wanted to come with us back to the hotel for some swimming. They each packed up a change of clothes and some toys they wanted to bring and we were off. Of course, L didn't bring a bathing suit, so it was just me, myself, and I in the pool with two rambunctious kids. L did toss Matthew in a foot or two from the steps, which scared him at first until he realized he could swim/walk back to the steps. (He spent the rest of the afternoon bragging about what a great swimmer he is - HA!) For the first couple of hours we had the pool to ourselves, and we had a great time. They decided they would be Mr. Shark and Miss Mermaid, and they were in school together. First it was Kindergarten, and then we rapidly went through the next few years in mere moments. At one point they decided they were going to put on a show to "raise money for the school." First Lexi sang a song from Frozen (of course). All of the verses. Good stuff. And then it was Matthew's turn. He decided to sing the "Let It Go" song from Frozen. The whooooole thing. It's quite long. Lexi, not to be outdone, decided she would accompany his singing with a little water ballet. It was all quite impressive. A 5/almost 6 year old boy belting out the entire, full-length version of "Let It Go" in a clear, unselfconscious voice, complete with the last line "The cold never bothered me anyway." All the while Lexi was leaping and turning and pirouetting through the shallow depths. I would have paid to see it if I hadn't landed in the middle of a free performance. It was awesome and so, so sweet.
About that time, L/Papa came back with our "school snack" - Subway sandwiches and chips. I got all the way out and ate mine. The kids got out, took a bite, jumped back in and swam, and repeated. During the third hour of swimming, their dad arrived and another couple of families also arrived with kids in tow. So for that hour Mema got a reprieve while the kids all played together. Soon enough their dad was ready to go, and two bleary-eyed kids straggled out to the car after him. We would meet up at the house in a couple of hours for dinner at Wahoo's.
After a Wahoo's feast we all went back to the house for chocolate cupcakes. (Chocolate makes Matthew's eyes go all dreamy.) Matthew had shown us his bunkbed, very proud of his perch on the top. It's a queen size, with plenty of room for toys, his beloved video games, and - holy of holies - his box of candy. Now, this little boy knows exactly how many pieces of candy he has (3 pieces of Easter chocolate, 3 Starburst, and 5 Skittles) and he keeps careful track. According to his dad, standing in front of all the candy in a 7/11 puts him into a trance. I love this kid. A sweeter boy was never born, no pun intended. Before we left for the night we discussed church the next day and Matthew said he never wears a tie. But then he looked at L and his dad and said he would wear his the next day, to which L and his dad said "Yep - we'll all wear ties!" It was a cute moment with 3 of my favorite boys.
We said our goodbyes for the night and headed back to our hotel. Where everything went horribly wrong. We watched a little TV to settle in, and got to sleep around 11. At 12 we were awakened by a weird "tone" noise. There were two clear tones, followed in a few seconds by 3 other tones. Silence for about 40 minutes. This went on for the next 3 hours, only by that time the "tones" were coming about 5 minutes apart. We tore the place apart trying to figure out what it was, finally determining that it was the smoke alarm. (It was one of those sounds that seems to come from everywhere and nowhere.) Finally at 3am I told L to call the front desk as we weren't going to be able to sleep anyway. Aaand of course, there was nothing they could do about it right then. So they moved us to another room at 3:30am. I think we finally slept at about 4am. And then my alarm went off at 6:30am for 9am church. I almost cried. I struggled but I just couldn't get up. My eyes felt like they'd been sand blasted. So at 7:00 I texted Rex that we wouldn't be coming. So sorry. And so I missed Lexi being presented in front of the congregation, and her giving her own sweet testimony of her beliefs and love for her family. Brief moments, but I am so sad to have missed them.
We met up later in the day (everyone needed naps - especially L and me!) for a barbeque. Rex had a hankering for buffalo burgers so that's what we had. And they were really good! I didn't have long to enjoy mine because as soon as Lexi and Matthew were finished eating they wanted to play Crazy 8s and Go Fish. I'm sorry to report that Lexi is a shameless cheater, and I'm happy to say that Matthew is honest and innocent with his cards laid out for all to see, but it was all in good fun. Even Travis joined in the fun:
Teaching Travis all of my card skills - HA!
Before the sun went down I tried my best to capture a few memories with my camera to last me until the next time I come visit. Skylee loved it. There was a rabbit in the yard and she chattered endlessly on about it. She moves very fast, and it was hard to do her justice, but here are the best two:
Lexi is very easy to take pictures of. And these reminded me of the fact that she's not such a little girl anymore. That makes me sad, but it also gives me a lot to look forward to as this beautiful 8 year old turns into a young lady.
And Matthew. Who can forget that happy little face? That sweet chattering little voice? He's smart and funny and tons of fun.
And he was Papa's little pocket pal all weekend. I loved seeing L having fun with this little live wire.
One of the first things he told us after he arrived was that he was a very fast runner. And I believe it. I saw him in action:
He can run like that All.Day.Long. But he never forgets to be a good big brother to Travis.
And Travis. What a mellow baby. He rarely changes expression. Just don't take his food or bottle away. A young man needs his food and drink. Other than that, as long as you're holding him, and especially if you're viewing "Frozen" for the oh... millionth time, he's entranced. Tickle his bald head and he's yours.
Papa and his boys
I have one picture left to share. It may seem ordinary. A bit strange to put here on the blog.
But I want to remember Skylee forever jumping into the little car and, when asked where she was going, she announced in a clear voice "I'm going tanning!" How quick they learn... She is at that funny age where everything they say is hilarious. When asked to sing a song she would say "I can't - I'm too busy!" But other times she would belt out every song from "Frozen." That's the current favorite. At Christmas time it was "Brave" and the character Merida. I was told that during that phase she would walk around the house yelling "Curse this dress!" I love 2 year olds - especially chatty ones.
I left them with a heavy heart, but a tired body. Mema isn't used to running with the younger crowd. But it was the best kind of fun. We stopped by on our way to the airport. All of the littles were home except Lexi, who was still at school (Oooooh how I miss that girl already!) I will miss Skylee, still in the stubborn throes of being 2, and Matthew completely charming and irresistible. And mellow little Travis.
So long for now Colorado family. As usual after a visit, I can't wait to go back again. There just aren't enough dollars in the bank for all the traveling I need to do. I hate missing all of the fun, and all of the funny things they do. But they are in capable hands. Rex and Ronna are the best sort of parents, and I am so proud of the way they've taught these little ones. My heart is just bursting with pride over the great work they do. Makes the separation a little easier. But only a little.