Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A surprise for the Fourth!

Quick PSA: I'm doing almost all of my blogging over on Instagram these days—it's just way easier to update quickly while I'm on the go than doing a whole big blog post. If you want to know what's going on in my life in a more timely fashion, come follow me over there!

Frank and I took a last-minute, whirlwind, surprise trip to visit his family in New Jersey over the weekend. It was so last minute that we bought our flights on Monday and flew out on Thursday! I've never planned a trip on such short notice before, but it was perfect.

Frank had been wanting to go visit his family this summer, but we couldn't figure out a good time. His brother was home from college over Fourth of July weekend (he's taking summer classes so he just got this short little vacation) and finally Frank just couldn't handle it anymore. His whole family was together except for him! He had to be there!

Luckily he had a voucher for free flights from Southwest (pro tip: when they announce your flight is full and they'll give a voucher to anyone who will switch to a later flight, switch to the later flight if you can!!) so we were able to get there on a dime. Then we rented a car and showed up at the Barbers' house just as they were about to drive to the beach! They were all in total shock to see us and kept gasping and repeating, "What in the world?!?!" But once the shock wore off they were all so, so happy.

So off we went to the Jersey Shore!

My sister-in-law Jenna aka my kindred spirit
Kohr's custard was a must, obviously. Frank was so overjoyed to be at the Shore for the first time since we were married that he lost his head a little bit and bought a customized "Down the Shore" sweatshirt. So endearing. At least THIS time he didn't buy an unbelievably tacky muscle shirt emblazoned with a giant map of New Jersey and the phrase "You call it dirty, I call it home" ... like he did last time he was there. Love you, Frank. ;)

Barber kids reunited. They all have the exact same face!
It was kind of wet and drizzly while we were there, but we still had fun. We had lunch at Surf Taco (which totally lived up to the hype) and my father-in-law won a cute stuffed hamster for Frankie in a darts game. Hammy the Hamster (aka Moon over my Hammy) came home with us.

The rest of the trip is a blur of swimming in the backyard pool, delicious meals made by the World's Greatest Chef (my mother-in-law), and games of Apples to Apples. We had a blast, and Frankie got super attached to my in-laws! By the end he could point out each of them when asked, and called his grandpa "Papa" and his aunt "Nenna."

My "happy place" on the hammock
Jenna and I have the exact same swimsuit in different colors - twinsies! :)

Frankie loved the pool, despite the cold water, and would fuss to be taken back in whenever we tried to warm him up with towels!

Thursday night we went to Rossi's for dinner, as we do every time we're in town. Their burgers are out of this world. I recommend the Chambersburger! We also enjoyed brunch there on Sunday after Mass.

Jenna lent me this cute shirt for dinner
As I do every time I visit, I took a million pictures of their house. It's just so beautiful! It was originally built in the late 1700s and local historical documents strongly indicate that Abraham Lincoln stayed overnight there at one point (at the time it was called the Eldridge Plantation). 

This stuff blows my mind. Here in the Midwest, a house like that would be a museum ... but out on the East Coast, my husband grew up sleeping in the same room where Lincoln once stayed!

That plaque says the house was built before 1876
My father-in-law was all, "Lots of times we've had complete strangers come up and take pictures of our house or ask what paint colors we used or how we built our side porch. Isn't that weird?!"

And I was all "No that's not weird at all, have you seen your house?!?"

He rebuilt it from scratch himself (it was a tear-down when he bought it) and did such an amazing job. He is a carpenter and one thing I love about visiting is when he gives us a tour of his shop. It's so orderly and organized, with all these gigantic carpentry tools put away "just so" and the fresh scent of sawdust always in the air. I think about how St. Joseph was a carpenter and wonder if his shop was similar.

Another day we went walking in beautiful Sayen Gardens down the street from their house. It's one of those magical fairyland places where you wish you could stay all day, or do an elaborate photo shoot in fancy outfits. I loved it.

We couldn't figure out why Frankie wouldn't look at the camera, until later on we realized he was staring at my FIL photobombing us

Jenna with all four of the Barber men ... three of whom are named Frank!
Baby-wearing grandpas are the best kind of grandpas :)
A major highlight of the trip was seeing Frank's lovely Aunt Sharon. She is just so wonderful. She somehow manages to be both one of the funniest people I've ever met and one of the most loving and kind. She was telling us a little bit about her work (residence life associate at a homeless shelter) and even though she was just telling funny stories to make us laugh, I was completely blown away by her selflessness and compassion for the people she serves. Then she pulled out the old family photo albums and told us all these amazing stories about her ancestors, and some of them made me cry. You know it's a good conversation when you find yourself crying at one point and laughing your guts out at another. What's that saying from Steel Magnolias? "Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion." There was lots of that at Sharon's house, and we are so grateful for her hospitality. We love you, Aunt Sharon!

Quick selfie on our way out the door because we forgot to take pictures earlier
The best part of that visit as far as Frankie was concerned was this tiny, vintage rocking chair just his size. He was so delighted when he saw it. He could hardly believe it at first. He sat and stared at it, and then his little face lit up with the biggest smile and he clapped his hands and pointed it out to me like, "Look, Mom! A chair for me!!" It was darling. So we helped him sit in it, and you could tell he felt like the king of the world. He was so excited and didn't want to get out of it. Frank and I decided we need to buy him his own little chair one of these days!

Another highlight was when Matt and Lillian and my favorite nephew stopped by on Friday morning. They live just an hour south of my in-laws and were on their way north to Rhode Island for their godson's baptism, so they spent the morning with us.  It's always so good to see them. Lillian can make me laugh like no one else can, and our boys were so cute playing together. Although her little guy is already walking while Frankie has yet to take a step... we need to step it up in that department!

I don't think I've shared this yet, but we have some amazing news... Lillian and Matt are moving back to Chicago later this month!  Matt will be working for the same company but in their Midwest office, and they'll be staying with my parents while they house-hunt. This is such an answer to prayer and we're all overjoyed!

On Sunday, we realized Frankie was coincidentally matching outfits with my FIL. Two sweet Frank Barbers!

Frank was aching to go play disc golf (aka frisbee golf) while we were there. He loved playing growing up, but hasn't had a chance to play since we got married! So he, his dad, and Jenna did that on our last day. I tagged along wearing Frankie. Our job was searching out discs that got lost in the underbrush.

Getting home was a bit of an adventure. We were supposed to fly out of Philly at 8 pm to be in Chicago by 10, but our flight got delayed by over two hours ... and we didn't find out about the delay til we were already at the airport, so we couldn't wait it out at my in-laws' house.

As you can imagine, Frankie was NOT. HAPPY. Luckily he stayed calm as long as I was wearing him and walking around, so he and I took a nice walking tour of the entire terminal. I looked on the bright side that it was a chance to get some exercise after the feasting of the past weekend, and for the millionth time thought, "Thank God for babywearing!"

At one point I put him down in an empty gate to crawl around and get his energy out. An airline employee came by to empty the trash cans and Frankie was just fascinated and gave the gentleman an enthusiastic round of applause. It was hilarious and definitely gave a silver lining to the evening.

The other silver lining was that Frankie fell asleep right after we (FINALLY) took off! And really, he behaved extremely well the whole evening, all things considered. He's a trooper. I feel like I need to do a blog post on flying with babies, because it's really a lot better than I ever expected it to be.

It was so good to see our Barber family. I'm grateful for that husband of mine and his knack for pulling off the best thoughtful, spontaneous surprises. Happy Fourth, friends!


  1. Oh my goodness, Frankie is HUGE! Looks like you guys had a fabulous holiday. :)

    The Starving Inspired

    1. Isn't it crazy how he suddenly looks like a toddler instead of a baby?! I can't even handle it haha :)

  2. Walking babies are so fun, I can't wait til Frankie starts to walk for you! I mean, they're obviously a handful, but still. Super fun. Looks like your trip was awesome - also, Lincoln stayed there?? That is SO COOL!

    1. Ah, he's already a handful - how much worse can it get? ;) Isn't that the craziest about Lincoln? I can hardly believe it myself! I hope the house never goes out of the family :)