Friday, March 17, 2017

Spring Break with Cousins

Because I'm a full-time student, the kids just miss out on Spring Break.
Every year.
Let's not pretend they're deprived of travel, but still... in an ideal world, Spring Break should conjure fun memories, some actually away from home.

So this year I decided to skip classes (Mark still had to work) and take the kids on a road trip east. On our first leg, we stayed overnight in St. Louis. We stopped by the St Louis Zoo:
I was wowed by this incredible work of art!
Meanwhile the kids were wowed by the monkeys, who put on quite a show. One even tried to jump on my head but hit the glass and toppled to the ground. The kids thought it was hilarious (poor monkey)!

They also thought the brawling (mating!) sea lions were a hit.
Next leg of the trip: a drive to Indiana, where we stayed two nights with my cousin Stephanie and her husband, Chris. They were amazing hosts and kept us all so cozy and well-fed. I can't believe that Stephanie and I didn't get a photo together (go figure; we're moms)! But look at these darling cousins: Paxton, Gryffy, Lorelei & Grayson. Paxton doesn't look too thrilled in this pic, but he is the happiest baby!
We visited the family farm in Kentucky. I have memories here from when I was a child, chasing kittens and playing in the barn. Uncle Paul gave the kids a special tractor ride while Aunt Cindy fixed us dinner. Wild times!

My kiddos (left) and my "little" cousin, Earl (right, who I still picture as my kids' age even though he's all grown up and married to his beautiful bride, Megan).
More fun on the farm. Gryffy's helping cousin Earl feed the cows.
Lorelei, Zachary, Gryffy, Grayson and Aunt Cindy.
The next day, I took a winding road trip out to Gethsemani to tour Thomas Merton's hermitage and interview Br. Paul Quenon, who graciously loaded me up with his home-made fudge (just in time for Lent - ha!).
More about that part of the trip HERE.
On our way home we went back through St. Louis, and though I had dreams of stopping by the Art Museum, I was outvoted. So back to the zoo we went, along with City Museum (incredible and incredibly crowded!) and the Basilica of St. Louis. Gryffy declared that it was more beautiful than the Hagia Sophia. I have to admit, it looked like a perfect marriage between the Hagia Sophia and St. Peter's on the inside, complete with its own Pieta.
Gryffin said that he "touched every wound" on the Pieta.
Let's compare. Hagia Sophia, Istanbul:
And Basilica of St. Louis:

Both spectacular.

And as if God herself hadn't winked at me enough in the glistening beauty of that space, lo and behold - the Tallis Scholars, full of serendipitous meaning! (Including a pic of my friend, Patrick, who retired from the Scholars last year.)
We were going to stay the night in St. Louis but decided last minute to cancel the hotel, and drive all the way home to surprise Mark. Little did we know that meanwhile Mark was planning to take a train to St. Louis to surprise us at the hotel! I love the grand gesture, but he would have been stranded in St. Louis, and we would have had yet another full day of driving to go all the way back to get him! 

Fortunately, Mark's sweet plans were foiled when the train schedules didn't align, and that night we were back home, all full on memories of our Spring Break road trip and cozy in our own beds!

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