Our very first purchase in the land of all the things to purchase - was underwear.
Naples, Florida underwear are the best quality undergarments you can find, which is quite lucky for us.
As we stood inhaling Super Target, Troy said to the kids, "We are at a store that has the foods you might want. Is there one thing you cannot wait to have, we can buy it here now." The kids gave varying answers, mainly junk-food items or fruit that cannot be easily found in Haiti. (We put away pounds and pounds of strawberries while traveling.) Lydia thought the longest and said, "white rice!!!"
You can take a girl away from the rice, but you cannot take the rice away from said girl. She proceeded to order that every few days for the rest of the time away and rave about how delicious it was at each location. Total.Weirdo.
After our Target run we went to the hotel just a bit north of Naples. I was giddy when I made a Priceline bid and it assigned us to a Hyatt Place hotel. (We chose Naples because one of the four families getting together lives there - the rest of us are not Floridians.) That chain is my favorite (because good free breakfast and big rooms) and this girl got an amazing price on that hotel. My arms got super tired from the victory-arm-pump I did for days after we scored that deal.
We checked in at the same time our friends, the Goodfellows from Peru, were checking in. Troy ran like a little kid to embrace his friend, Blake. Sarah and I saw each other last January so we did a normal adult-hug greeting.
The Howertons from California arrived soon after and the chaos of many (13) children in a hotel pool began. The adults enjoyed adult beverages and we all had pizza out at the pool deck.
Apparently one hotel patron sat in the hot tub lamenting how parents today don't control their children and how sad it was to see that. The kids swam and played and were loud, but I'm still not sure what they did that needed controlling. Have you ever been to a hotel pool where children were silent? No. Me either. Another guy that went to the hot tub stopped by our table on his way out to tell us how delightful our kids were. I think there is a lesson here. Same kids. Same night. Same pool/hot tub.
Different approaches to life.
They are either delightful or out of control or delightfully out of control.
Who is to say?
Perhaps some people were never babies and then after that they were never babies they were also never young children or pre-teens. They never needed to play or be loud or blow off some traveling energy. Those people were apparently born old and crabby with bun-cheeks clenched tight and they work to remain that way. It is good to have goals! They are clearly achieving their big dreams of being curmudgeonly.
The next morning our kids marveled at the hotel breakfast and made many trips to try each pastry and juice available. The multiple trips to and from the table draw far more attention than Troy and I would like, but how do you tell kids on their first morning in America not to check out all the awesome over and over again?
Instead you just let the curmudgeons watch and cluck and you pretend you are not noticing any of their disapproval. (Maybe you flash a giant smile. Maybe you say, "Aren't you glad we didn't bring our other hungry kids to breakfast?")
I don't know if other big families feel this way at times, but I think sometimes people just disapprove of five kids. The same five kids separated out into three families wouldn't be an issue, but the fact that all five come as a package deal in the same family makes people worry about the breakfast area capacity and crowded fire escapes and elevator safety. (I made that all up. I don't really know.) (Also, five kids is not really a lot.)
After the consumption of many waffles and eggs and cinnamon rolls the kids went back to the room to flip through a hundred channels, landing on "Pit Bulls and Parolees" on Animal Planet. This is an excellent show that I know you do not want to check out soon. It is all about Pit Bulls and, wait for it waaaaaait for it, Parolees. Enthralling television. After that they got to spend a little time looking out the "awesome eyeholes" in the doors for an hour or two.
I posted this status on Facebook:
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The rest of January 2 was a day of kids visiting airboats and alligators with their four dads - while the moms chatted on the beach and went out to dinner. There are not words to describe the peaceful day the Moms had.
Troy showed me a billion photos of the alligators and the airboats and told me tales of the dinner. I know without a doubt that I won on January 2, 2015.
|mothers with 16 children that are 90 minutes away|
|children that are alive and well with their marvelous Dads|
On Saturday (January 3) the mothers all agreed to spend extended periods of time with their own children. (The very same children that unpack bags that are already packed.) Grace abounds.
Our families headed to another beach for the entire day. We had a blast and even though Mark Howerton took six hours to get his kids' lunch at Arby's, everything turned out great and nobody perished for lack of food.
Our kids had so much fun meeting new kids. Isaac said, "So Mom, now I can say I have friends in Naples, L.A, and Lima!" Yes, son. You can say that if you want.
Mostly though, it was fun to watch TCKs from Haiti connect with TCKs from Peru. Hope and Riley (below with Chase and Noah) were fast friends. No thirteen year old girl that lives outside of her passport country can expect to be understood better than by ANOTHER 13 year old girl that lives outside of her passport country.
|Naples, January 3rd|
We parted ways happy to have had the two days together and sad it went by so quickly. On the morning of the 4th we packed up to head back to FortLauderdale because Paige, Michael, and Graham were in the air headed toward us.
We made one stop at Party City to buy some wedding stuff we needed. Troy stayed in the car to do his manly map-looking-at-stuff and the kids and I went into the store. On their first ever party store adventure, they said: "This place is called Party City? Well, it is a party, so I see why!"
Noah proceeded to pick out gifts for Paige that I really wished I could discourage him from, but rather than trample on his heart I let him buy a few hideous items before we headed south and east to pick up the #GonzalesPartyof3 crew.
|The California, Peru, & Haiti Crew - Hyatt Place never knew what hit them or their breakfast buffet - taken January 4th as we said goodbye|
In the next installment (#3) of T.C.P, the reunions and tears, and the week of prep before the wedding.
Read Part 1 of T.C.P here