Recently my sister Rachel officially became a saint. She's always been pretty darn close-- but she has now passed the final milestone and guaranteed a place for herself in heaven. She volunteered to take my three young children (in addition to her four) for a week so I could accompany Andrew to the AAOA convention in Las Vegas-- alone! So, I packed the kids up and drove them to Manchester, New Hampshire to stay with Rachel-- who would be the mother to seven children six and under for five full days!!! Before she could come to her senses and back out, I hurried and caught a flight from Boston to Detroit and met Andrew who then joined me for the second leg to Vegas. The conference was held at the Venetian- a beautiful resort. We stayed in the most incredible four room suite- we felt like royalty (thank you ACOFP)!!! For the first two days I literally slept my life away. I woke up the morning of the third day feeling well rested and refreshed and we played for the next three days straight! We only made it out to the strip for a couple of hours- and although we did get to see New York, Paris, and the incredible water show at the Bellagio, as well as enjoy some incredible high-class window shopping-- we were shocked and appalled at the baseness of the Las Vegas scene. When I say there were sex, drugs, and gambling literally surrounding us I am NOT exaggerating. My memories of a trip there when I was 13 with my mom for the Las Vegas marathon were nothing similar to what we experienced outside the hotel. I'm not kidding when I say that city is going to hell in a hand-basket-- the place is out of control. We retreated back to the resort and really enjoyed the convention, shopping, restaurants, and fun that was to be had close to home. It was great to catch up with a lot of our Kirksville friends and for me to attend the AAOA and SAA meetings with Janae and Jenny from my Kirksville SAA-- they are two incredible girls! It was also so nice to catch up with one of my personal heroes, Lori Haxton, and to see many of the other deans and school officials and alumni we admire so much. We especially enjoyed attending the AAOA President's luncheon for our dear Linda Adams and getting all spiffed up to attend the great AAOA/AOA President's reception together-- kid free! We had a fantastic time all week-- never once worrying about our children, who, by all accounts, were having a ball. I really think we missed them more than they missed us! I got back to Rachel's house Thursday morning refreshed and excited to see the kids who had all had a wonderful time with Auntie Rachel and her kids. I'm not exaggerating when I say that the entire ride home from the Boston airport to Rachel's house Noah was going on and on about the wonderful things they had done and all the new foods he had tried. Somehow my saint sister had not only taken stellar care of the kids and made them feel safe, special, and loved... but she had somehow talked my stubborn 5-year-old into eating yellow cheese, turkey, and eggs... three foods he has never, ever eaten for me. Benjamin, our 19-month-old had never been apart from me for more than a quick evening, and I don't think that our trip to Vegas phased him a bit. I got home to a happy-as-ever contented little man who was a little less clingy and a lot more independent than I had left him. And Emmaline will not stop singing Auntie Rachel's praise! She loved all the outside time they got to spend in her incredible forest of a backyard, and the fun times cooking with Auntie Rachel. She also let me know the other night that Auntie Rachel is the "bestest snuggly bear" she had ever had! Andrew and I both agreed that this trip was long overdue and that we need to remember to take time for each other more often. Not that our marriage was not great before the trip... but I really can't believe the difference that five days together has wrought! I find us talking about more than his day at the hospital or that days funky diapers or groceries or bills... we are actually talking and laughing and enjoying each other so much more than we have been for a great while. Come to find out we were kind of in a rut and didn't even know it. So a great marriage is now even better, and it is all because of my sweet sister who was willing to selflessly give of her time and her heart to love my kids for five days so I could have a much needed break away with Andrew.
So-- Auntie Rachel--from your own personal fan club- thank you, thank you, thank you. Much more than you'll probably ever know, we love you and are grateful for the sacrifice that you and your family made to make this trip possible.
Oh-- and did I mention that she did I all this all while studying to take the last final for her big degree? Well, she did. She took her last final the afternoon that I got back! Way to go Rachel. You amaze me and I am so proud of you!!!
Move over saints and angels-- you've got a new member to add to your crew! Now we've just got to figure out a way to keep her from being translated too soon. I've got to make good on my promise to reciprocate and have lots of other things to do before that happens!!!