3-21-21 Family Time!!

I saw my family! Friday after work I drove down to Colorado Springs to finally, FINALLY visit my family. I made the decision that my mental health was more important than getting or giving covid. Plus, my parents have both received the first vaccine shot (I saw my dad’s vaccine card, it’s so awesome) so even though they’re not 100% immune right now, we agreed it was ok for me to come hang out. I’m so glad I did.

My favorite Emily and Ollie pieces they made me

My parents greeted me outside as I pulled up and I felt so happy to see them. We walked inside the house and Emily and Ollie, with my mom’s help, had made loads of art for me that they hung up on the wall (see above). As I was admiring the beautiful and warm welcome, Emily and Ollie ran out from the piano room with Kaitlin and Kevin quickly behind. They surprised me! I didn’t know they were there (they were extra sneaky and had parked a few houses down so I didn’t see their car). I felt even more happy seeing them. I felt so loved, just like I knew I would.

We all had dinner together, my mom made her delicious veggie pasta, and I was even honored with the red plate! But before we ate, Emily gave me a variety of gifts. She decided to give me one of the valentines she made at preschool in addition to two papier-mâché birds both she and Ollie had painted. Ollie’s hairbrush was also in the gift bag, although it was made clear that I wasn’t taking it home, it was just an item Emily really wanted to show me. Then, I was handed an envelope and what was inside? A rainbow that Emily (and I think Ollie) had colored for me. Emily was SO excited about that (she knows I love all the colors). Her face was so giddy, it made me feel so happy seeing her so incredibly excited about giving me a rainbow coloring. Ollie then gave me a rainbow bracelet he had made (I think, there was a lot of talking so I’m not clear on the details).

After dinner we went downstairs, at Ollie’s request. He kept asking me to go downstairs to play with him so I had to agree. Emily and Ollie played dress up and they gave all of us jewelry and hats and scarves to wear, it was really sweet. I learned about Kevin’s promotion at work and I learned of the home improvements my parents plan on making this summer. Once Kaitlin and the family left, I got even more gifts, this time from my parents. They got me another set of reusable sandwich bags! I love these bags so much, they’re almost always in use here at home so having another set makes me feel thrilled. They also gave me a dinosaur Lego set! I can make one of three different dinosaurs: pterodactyl, t-rex, or a triceratops. I’m definitely going to make the triceratops first. But the best present they gave me was a pink blow up birthday cake! An exact replica of the one that ceased to function on Elisabeth’s birthday. Turns out my mom had purchased a third cake when she bought the other two when Kaitlin and I were babies. She thought it would be good to have an extra just in case one of our cakes broke. Welp, 32 years later she finally needed to replace one. I couldn’t believe it (and yet, I could, my mom is smart). I’m thrilled to know I won’t have a deflated cake on my birthday table this year.

On Saturday, I played around with one of my dad’s glass orbs he uses to take pictures. He also showed me his new zoom lens and the incredible detail he’s able to capture with it. He took a picture of Pikes Peak from his deck and we could see the buildings at the very top of it. I was in awe. That night he took a close up of the moon (see picture to the right and click on it to make it bigger!). It really blew my mind, I’m so excited to see what pictures he ends up getting with this new lens.

We went over to Kaitlin and Kevin’s new home for lunch and to hang out a bit. Their house is so beautiful, so large, and so cool! The main floor is really open and their kitchen is gorgeous. They have this giant marble island that houses the sink and dishwasher as well as 6 barstools for eating. There’s a really lovely backsplash against the wall that has the stove (which is gas!) and their microwave is disguised as a little oven. It was awesome getting to see their new space. I played hide and seek with the kids and my mom and I kept blowing up this neat balloon that flies around when you let the air out and it makes cool noises. I tried pulling Emily and Ollie around on their sled in the backyard and quickly learned that pulling a sled on snow is easy but pulling them on the grass is a workout.

Kaitlin’s delicious vegan banana bread!

My parents and I went back to their house so everyone could rest and I helped my dad make strawberry rhubarb crumble. He made it vegan for me! My mom had purchased Archer Farms vegan ice cream and it turns out that is the best vegan ice cream I have ever had. I couldn’t tell it was vegan, which was incredible. My mom was kind enough to let me take home the vanilla carton, I’m so excited to eat it. Kaitlin and the family came back to my parents’ for dinner where we ate delicious Chinese food and looked over a playground set Kaitlin is thinking about getting for the kids.

That night I slept for ELEVEN hours. I think Emily and Ollie and the overall happiness of me spending time with my family wore me out! Thank goodness we didn’t have any early plans for today.

Once we were all up, I helped my mom make a vegan pancake casserole. My mom is great at looking for vegan recipes and trying out new ones and she found this one that was really easy and one that I really liked. I would definitely make that again. My mom and I went on a walk to the park and back right before lunchtime and then Kaitlin and everyone came over for lunch. I ordered in a vegan hamburger from Santana’s (an all vegan restaurant in Colorado Springs) and everyone else got chicken strips from Cane’s. But the best part of that afternoon was that Kaitlin surprised me with homemade vegan banana bread! Turns out my brilliant sister was so sneaky yesterday that she got all the information from me about how to make the recipe vegan that she went the store that afternoon, got what she needed, and baked me my own bread! It was definitely an act of love and I feel so honored. I keep telling her she should make vegan baked goods, people would buy it so easily. It’s really hard to find vegan baked goods that don’t come prepackaged (like from Whole Foods) or that you don’t have to make yourself. I think she could make money from it. One day I hope to convince her! I could use help though, comment on her Facebook page or reach out via her website! She’s going to be doing Easter cookies soon, and while they’re not vegan, they’re still delicious! I’ve already had two pieces and they are delicious, even Kaitlin agreed that she couldn’t tell it was vegan. When I go back to visit for Easter I hope we can try out some vegan sugar cookies, we’ll see!

I even left my parents’ house with three new house plants! Their neighbors moved across country and couldn’t take their plants with them so they left them with my parents. My parents aren’t the house plant type people so they offered them to me and you know I couldn’t refuse! I’m sure I can find places for them. It was a really wonderful weekend. I definitely got filled up with love and happiness and I’m looking forward to seeing them again for Easter. I love my family!

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