We just got back from a week in Turks and Caicos. My mother-in-law rented a villa on the water on the main island (not too far from the Providenciales airport) and my husband and his three siblings all brought their families.
(I know, from my time logs, that one previous such gathering was almost exactly six years ago, summer of 2017, when we gathered on Lake Michigan — that was to celebrate one of her milestone birthdays a bit early, and this one was a bit after the fact, but early summer seems to be an easier time for people to travel.)
The kids loved hanging out with their cousins for a week. My daughter in particular is the exact same age as one of her cousins and they were completely inseparable. They had coordinated outfits and wore matching clothes much of the time. People spent a lot of time on the beach, some crews went diving, snorkeling, parasailing, and horseback riding, and in the meantime, folks hung out in the pools that the various villas surrounded.
Though about those pools…these are amazing and beautiful for adults and older children but of course I have a 3-year-old who can’t swim. The result was that he had to be watched like a hawk the entire time. He would get up and run away in the middle of dinner and so someone (generally me) would need to get up and run after him.
In other words, it was not the world’s most relaxing vacation. But I got a few relaxing moments — reading Emma for an hour or so one afternoon (I finished the book on the trip), chatting on the beach with an older kid, going in the hot tub by myself for 15 minutes.
As we’d gone to Turks and Caicos two summers ago (to a resort that time), it was also an opportunity to compare how different a 3-year-old is from a 1-year-old. On that 2021 trip the longest I slept continuously, the entire week, was 2.5 hours. Yes, it was bad. On this trip, the little guy slept through the night six out of seven nights. We had some downtime/quiet time in the afternoon each day and he was able to watch TV with reasonable interest.
He was also more reasonable during what turned out to be some pretty un-fun travel experiences. We flew from Newark to Providenciales, since that is a direct flight, but this meant we had to leave the house at around 6:15 a.m. for a 9:30 a.m. flight…which was then delayed. On the way down, our flight was delayed about 90 minutes taking off, and then we were delayed another 30 minutes on the runway there since no ground crew was available. Then we had to wait in a hot and long 75-minute customs line. The 3-year-old and 8-year-old weren’t exactly angels, but they weren’t screaming and crying the way a baby might. We also got terrible lines on the way back — another 75-minute security line to leave Providenciales (TSA pre-check does nothing for you there!) and, unhappily enough, a 30-minute customs line in Newark, which normally has not been that bad. We got home at 10:40 p.m. Saturday night, at which point I started a load of laundry, since my 13-year-old was leaving for camp the next morning!
We had it better than some of the other families in our group – a Boston flight was delayed 3.5 hours, so those folks didn’t land until 11:30 p.m. and didn’t get home until 1 a.m. or so. And the folks going to the midwest saw their connecting flight from Charlotte to Indy canceled, so they had to go the next day (Sunday). Which wouldn’t be such a problem, except one young man in that crew had to leave Sunday night to fly to Germany for a class he’s taking there. But apparently he made it! Phew.
A few ideas that folks considering an extended family trip might consider…my daughter and her cousin created a group T-shirt design for all of us. I ordered 21 of them from Custom Ink, and they turned out pretty well! It was fun to see people wearing the shirt at various points on the vacation. I also booked a photographer to come take group photos of us, all in white on top and denim on the bottom — these photos will be nice to have (you seldom get the whole crew!), but while the photographer was there he also took family group shots so we all have our Christmas card photos if we want them now.
Some of my husband’s siblings arranged for us to have a chef for a few meals. This certainly made it simpler to feed 21 people, which would have been quite an undertaking otherwise!
Anyway, lots of memories, and some sunburn, but people seem to be recovering. Yesterday my 13-year-old got off to camp, and I had several fun first-day-at-home experiences. My 16-year-old and I sang together in summer choir at church (this is the more informal version where you learn one anthem right before the service and you don’t have to wear robes). I enjoyed singing next to him! He and another young man lowered our average choir age by a lot!
Then in the afternoon, Sarah came over and we recorded an episode of Best of Both Worlds together in person — always a treat (she is in the area visiting her parents for the Fourth of July). Then we went to a fun little Mexican place in Conshohocken for a Best of Both Worlds meet-up! We enjoyed chatting (and drinking margaritas) with several listeners, and learning about people’s favorite episodes. It is so fun to hear how the show has influenced people. You never know when you put something out into the world what will happen!