My sister, Dee, and her two children (a.k.a. the loves of my life: 23-month-old Adelaide and 3-month-old Sylas) came over my house on Friday afternoon for a sleepover. The plan was to spend one night and some quality time with “Aunt Steph” and “Unc Chris” who live out of state in “Mass-choo-sits.” Wanting to show them a good time, I planned to take them to the Butterfly Conservatory where I envisioned my niece in pure delight when the butterflies danced around her. My intensions were good and I even Map-Quested directions in advance. This was, after all, on my list of things to do this summer.
But when they arrived on Friday, the trio seemed content just being in a different setting – they’ve only been to “Aunt’s House” twice. Adelaide loved the wind socks hanging from the trees and she enjoyed learning how to water gardens with a hose.
That afternoon, we left the house only to buy snacks and a potty seat for Adelaide. Before we knew it, the sun was going down and Dee began teaching me how to make delicious roasted vegetables. After everybody went to bed, she and I stayed up ’til 1 a.m. drinking red wine and discussing life: past, present and future.
On Saturday morning, I woke up with good intentions again of taking my guests to the Butterfly Conservatory. But when two little angels joined us in bed, I wanted to freeze time and not go anywhere.
So we pretty much didn’t. We all helped make Dee’s recipe for vegan pancakes with blueberries and chocolate chips. We kept our pajamas on all day, and somehow stayed entertained with books, music and the compost pile. It would have been a great day to head out to the Butterfly Conservatory because it was overcast and windy, but instead we ended up 12 miles down the road at Chris’s parents’ mini farm. I’ve been there a zillion times, but seeing my sister and her young family enjoy the animals and their pool was one of the most fun times I’ve ever had at their home.
Back at home, we ate Chinese take-out sitting around the coffee table. When Sylas went to bed (and Chris went out with friends) the three ladies stayed up making chocolate chip cookies. Unbelievable delicious, of course. And then it was another late-nighter of drinking wine and deep conversation for my sister and I.
On Sunday morning, I awoke to the sound of Sylas stirring, so I brought him outside to enjoy the fresh morning air with me and Chris. When Adelaide awoke, I brought her out to enjoy the same, and that quality time with them left me feeling warm and complete.
We didn’t even discuss going to the Butterfly Conservatory because I thought they’d be leaving after breakfast (more pancakes, anyone?). But Adelaide wanted to help me dead-head my flowers and splash in the small plastic pool that I bought her, so nobody was in any rush to leave.
The weekend carried on like that, with small, sweet activities passing our time. I’m at an age – 26 – where it feels so good to relish in the simple pleasures again, like blowing bubbles with my niece. Fortunately, she’s at an age – almost 2 – where those pleasures are the only thing she cares about in life. We’re on the same page.
Still, when the weekend wound down, I couldn’t help but feel bad that we hadn’t gone to the Butterfly Conservatory like I had told everybody we’d do. Dee assured me that nothing could have been more fun than the activities we did together. We didn’t need to drive over an hour and spend money to experience fun and create memories. We managed to fill the weekend with homegrown memories that I’ll never forget, which is a true souvenir.
When I wrapped my arms around all three of them when they left to go home Sunday evening, my heart clenched and tears poured from my eyes. Wiping them from my face, I explained that it physically hurt to see a great weekend end. But that is what life is about. I’ll never look at my house the same again, because each time memories are made and good times are shared here, this house looks and feels slightly differently than the last time. It becomes a warmer place, and that is truly what makes a house a home.
I may not have crossed off “Take my niece to the Butterfly Conservatory” this weekend, but, actually, that turned out to be just fine.