If you didn’t know I left the country last week, then I effectively honored my husband’s internet security and privacy concerns. Sensibly, he prefers that I don’t announce that we are away from our house (or our kids).
So now I can tell you: we spent a week’s vacation in Brazil, kid-free and just returned yesterday. The trip included QT with my husband’s college friends (our friends, really, since we’ve been together since high school), a gorgeously-styled wedding in Rio and lots of beaches, along with unusual sightings – both natural and unnatural – on the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana.
I’ll share our trip with you later this week. Today, I’m still savoring the reunion with my kids. Nine days away was a bit too long – I simply could not wait to get my hands on them.
While we were gone, the boys were entertained (an understatement, really!!!) by a host of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. The kids didn’t miss a beat (or us, it seems) amid swimming, boating, fishing, fireworks, BBQs, s’mores, golf lessons and more. Both boys look older, bigger and tanner to me, more independent, more brilliant and even funnier than I remember.
The boys don’t have favorite blankets or loveys (except my arm!), so I left them little notes for each of the days we were away, to add a little fun to our separation and help them track our trip and homecoming.
I picked up these library card type envelopes at our local teacher-supply store, The Chalkboard, and slipped index cards in each with a note and some little drugstore gifts I picked up for the kids. For Noah, I stenciled the number of each day; for Ryan, I spelled out each number. The days happened to coordinate with the dates of our trip; otherwise, I might have done a countdown.
If this sounds scary-organized and uber-prepared, think again: I wrote the notes the day before my flight while waiting at the doctor’s office for a check-up and then picked up the drugstore gifts while waiting for the prescription for my sore throat. I had a vision for what I wanted to leave, so actually putting it together didn’t take long at all:
Day 1: A note, plus some stickers.
Day 2: A Brazilian Putomayo CD for kids, instructions to dance like crazy and this great Brazil for Kids booklet I found on Brazil’s tourism website. Ryan told me they didn’t read the booklet, though he reported a pretty fun dance party with his cousins.
Day 3: Go Fish card game for Noah, Crazy 8s for Ryan.
Day 4 & July 4th: Inspired by an adorable decoder I saw on the blog All for The Boys by Ambrosia Creative, I “coded” the day’s notes by writing a message in blue crayon and then scribbling all over it with red crayon. I rigged a decoder by coloring the clear plastic top of a see-through gift box with red permanent marker (you can do the same with a tupperware lid or even a return envelope with a window). Placing the coded note in the decoder revealed the secret message: Make Trail Mix. For the 4th, I left white chocolate chips, dried blueberries and cranberries.
Day 5: Milk Straws and a little rhyme I knew would make them smile: Willoughby, Wallaby, Wilk, the elephant sat in my ____ (milk).
Day 6: A bag of Lifesaver gummies to share (which miraculously went unopened until yesterday when they shared it with me).
Day 7: A note and a toy (Blue Power Ranger, and Thomas the Train Bubble Blower).
Day 8: Puzzles by Dad (actually an illustration of one of the boys’ favorite bedtime stories – Ryan, Noah & Eddie the Eagle Go to The Candy Store.
Day 9: Another secret message to be decoded. When we spoke to the boys after touching down at JFK, Ryan asked me where the prize was for #9. He sounded a tad disappointed to hear it was us, which I think means the notes – and the week apart – were wildly successful.