A few weeks ago, Connor, Helen, and I traveled to Kansas for a 5 day visit, and I learned a great tip about how to have a really great vacation.
Go to the house of a 'tween preparing to open a babysitting business in the near future.
If you are lucky like me, you just might find both of your children adoring this 'tween and her sis' so that you can actually kick your heels up and have an adult conversation or two. It's a great way to travel. My other recommendation is to get lucky and have your kids sleep all night, every night. Well, Miss Helen woke up once the first night, but once she saw I was in the same room as her, she piped down and went back to sleep. This means that the trip to my sister's and parents' homes might just possibly be the best vacation I have taken in the past three and a half years. It does not even come close to some vacations that date before that, but it's a start. A really good start.
On day 1 of our trip, we hung out at my sister's house, with said 'tween (Anna) and my dad until my sister and Emily came home from a big girl scouting adventure. Anna is what you would call a "hands on" babysitter. From the moment we arrived until we departed, Anna could almost always be found within five feet of Helen or Connor.
We started out playing a little hoops in her backyard.
During the time, Connor busied himself cleaning out the playhouse and checking out the sand and the dirt in the yard. Sally, my sister's new puppy, was recovering from surgery, which made for a rather sedate dog - which suited Helen just fine.
The next day, when Helen was a bit more courageous about approaching Sally, an unfortunate toppling of Helen occurred as a very excited puppy attempted to give her a little smooch. Helen was not so interested in Sally for the rest of the vacation, unless Sally was behind bars or Helen was in someone's arms. One can never be too careful, you know.
Because Helen is so tiny, she's easy to treat as if she's a doll, which luckily, she seems to enjoy. In fact, I'm sure Helen is fairly confident that toys intended for dolls were made just for her. Because, after all, the world does (mostly) revolve around her, or so she wishes, at least. Here's the photo I took after my sister told her younger daughter, Emily, that the shopping cart should not be taken outside. Both Helen and Emily disagreed.
I don't recall a single argument between the cousins the entire time I was in Kansas, which is even more remarkable that you might think since every day was jam packed with activities, and bedtime was completely abandoned. There was a lot of this though!
My mom's one wish for the trip was to capture the cousins in one photo. Mission accomplished in the backyard.
My mom rewarded them all with her famous mashed potatoes which are a hit with each of her grandchildren. If Helen could be trusted to sit on the bench, I'm sure she would've been laughing with the others, but she would almost certainly fall off, so she was stuck looking across the table laughing at the others.