Although Puerto Rico is known to be quite the festive island this time of year, we decided the girls and I would head back to Pennsylvania to celebrate Christmas. The girls have really adapted to being away from their home, but they deeply miss their family and friends, and they are super fingers-crossed-pray-your-hardest-prayer-wish-on-a-star hoping that it will be a white Christmas! Eurya’s SEVENTH birthday is coming up as well and we want to throw her a party at home, where we’ve had all of their parties thus far.
Fast-forward a few weeks and we are already on our last few days back in the States, so I’ll do a (not so) little recap!
Traveling from the island back to PA was actually my first time flying on my own. Uriah and I have been together for so long that I’ve always had him with me when I went anywhere. Most of our family still live in the same town as us and I don’t take girls’ trips or anything (I’m lacking in the social sector of my life, because I’m an introvert? An asshole? A sparkly unicorn and no one can sit with me? Still working that one out 😜). I’ve never needed to really go anywhere alone, so this was new for me. And it was a great experience because these girls are my hassle-free little angels! Uriah met us in the airport with flowers and the girls just couldn’t have been happier to be back in his arms.
Once the mushy reunion concluded, it was time for complete chaos. We hadn’t been to Disney this year and we didn’t want to miss our opportunity so after eight hours of being back in our house, we headed to the airport again to fly down to Florida. A quick two day trip to visit Magic Kingdom was just what the (homeopathic 😆) doctor ordered. I got the girls all dressed up like they do in the Bibbity Bobbity Boutique (because hello, I already spent a fortune to be here, I’m not giving you hundreds of dollars to give my beautiful flowers some mediocre bun!) and we had a blast. They were both tall enough to ride Space Mountain so we had to ride, and although I was completely nervous for my Zemira baby (she had to sit alone! And she’s a brave girl but I didn’t know what to expect), they both did amazing and thought it was the best ride ever!
On our shuttle from the rental car place back to the airport, the driver was playing Spanish music that the girls and I knew from Puerto Rico so we were singing along. That in turn made the driver switch from English to Spanish when talking to us which was pretty funny, Uriah said we’re real islanders now lol.
Next to the airport back at home, there’s a discount grocery store so we stopped in because there was no food in the house. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so excited to go shopping! Big bags of fresh organic produce that cost nothing compared to in PR, so many items thrown into our cart, I was literally hugging parsnips. We also bought lots of goodies for Eurya’s birthday party (I remembered that they always sell Halloween themed foods that aren’t even expired lol, and she was having a Halloween party so that was perfect!). A full cart loaded with fancy ass yogurt and all the veggies I’ve been missing, for under $100–damn I love Pennsylvania!
The next day I ran errands for the birthday bash all day with the girls and it was amazing! I couldn’t have asked for better weather: sunny and warm (for PA winter). The streets and stores were empty, because it’s a weekday at 10am, duh! It was so revitalizing just to let the kids run from parked car to Dollar Store on their own without fearing they’d get hit by a car. The slow life wrapped me up like a hand-knitted blanket from grandma as I bounced from store to store without incident. However, I did notice as I smiled and tried to make small talk (I speak this language after all, I should take full advantage of the small pleasure in actually comprehending bad jokes from cashiers) that it’s true that people aren’t as friendly as on the island. I never noticed it before, and it’s not that people were rude, but kindness definitely seems to be more contagious in PR.
That night was the only time we had to get a Christmas tree, and although we normally go to a farm and make a big deal of cutting it ourselves, we just didn’t have the time, so we picked up a precut tree from a street-side vendor, which was refreshingly easy. I set up the tree but pulled out my Halloween boxes rather than the Christmas one (yes, I have several Halloween boxes in storage and only one for winter. I was SO ready for a Halloween party lol). Spider webs and tattered cloths were laid around the windows as well as the tree, which also got some cute purple string lights. Skulls and black velvet pumpkins were placed on tabletops and we welcomed 20-something guests (about half as many as usual, due to being a last minute soirée) to celebrate our first born’s life.
We had fun, E was dressed as Hermione as she’s currently a crazy Harry Potter fan (child has already read the books several times over!), Z was a traditional witch, and I dressed as Ursula from The Little Mermaid (they got a real kick out of each of us being a different type of witch). They had so much fun reconnecting with family and friends that they’ve missed while in PR.
The next day I packed up all the Halloween décor and swapped it all out for my Christmas collection. We had our Puerto Rican Christmas Eve celebration with family, then the four of us had our little family traditions in the morning, then headed to our other family’s gathering (whew, the holidays are just so much, right!?)
Then…I sort of just turned into a maid 😒 When I say that I don’t know anyone who works as much as my husband, that our friends don’t know anyone who works as much as him, it’s truly no exaggeration. This man is always doing one of his handful of jobs, so naturally the house is easily neglected. He’s a tidy guy in general but after five months of much of our home being untouched, it really needed some TLC.
I scheduled all kinds of appointments and errands to be done during our three-week stay back home, so we were pretty busy bouncing here and there (in between cooking and cleaning, of course 😒). Cold and flu season also got the best of us, with at least one of us sick at all times during our entire stay. Unfortunately, our being sick kept us from visiting some friends that we wanted to, which really sucked.
We loved visiting our local market every week for fresh veggies, handmade sourdough bread, raw milk and hipster coffee! The Broad Street Market is one of the oldest continuously operated farmer’s markets in the country, and was one of things I was looking forward to most during my visit.
Uriah was working over New Year’s so the girls and I visited with (our Puerto Rican) friends for their party. That was pretty great because the girls got to experience how their own culture typically celebrates. New Year’s is pretty much a Christmas party and they had the traditional Christmas songs blasting and all the parranda instruments out for sharing. As soon as we walked in, the girls recognized the song playing and started singing along in Spanish and dancing! It was so beautiful to see them get so excited and feel like they were a part of it all, it was really validating that this move is worth it! We partied all night and had a really great time.
Since Uriah and I still hadn’t had any real quality time yet, he arranged a trip to New York City for the two of us over the weekend. The girls got to hang with family, eat cereal, and play video games for the first time lol, and I got to get dressed up and eat and drink and dance and just finally love on my man. It was a perfect weekend: exciting, romantic, revitalizing, chill, wild, playful; a little bit of everything and just what we needed.
The girls were happy to learn that the Pennsylvania Farm Show was back in town for the last week we were home. This is the largest indoor agricultural exposition in the nation (PA is farm country, what can I say 🤷🏽♀️😆). I’ve always loved the Farm Show and we’ve brought the girls every year since they were born (even one-week-old Eurya didn’t miss it back in 2012!). We are kind of aspiring farmers ourselves so the animals and way of life of the vendors are very interesting and inspiring to us. But one aspect of the Farm Show that I believe is so valuable is the fact that it is held in our impoverished, urban city. My wannabe farm girl self loves this shit, but even inner city kids get to come and experience this totally different way of life every year. That exposure to a completely different culture could be so significant to people who may not otherwise get an opportunity to view a world that’s so different from their own. Cultural broadening, it’s essential!
We went three times: ate obligatory potato donuts and milkshakes, tried out the new organic pasture-raised pulled pork stuffed brioche cones (yass hunty!), ogled at piglets, surveyed a million breeds of poultry, rubbed alpaca wool on our faces, learned about mushrooms and honeybees, patted giant horses, and watched cows give birth. Yes, they transport any-day-now pregnant heifers to the exhibition for human
entertainment education. The mother in me kind of cringes for these ladies, but yoooo! Have you ever watched cows give birth?!
The local children’s museum had a lego exhibit open so we checked that out, which the girls surprisingly freaked about, so that was really worth it (even though I passed out on the bench from pure exhaustion at this point, but we do it for the kids 🤷🏽♀️). A few more visits to family and our time back home would be over.
Fast forward again and I’m a couple days back on the island! Both girls were sad to leave their friends and their home. More specifically, they loved that we all just shared a king sized bed for three weeks (Mommy was too lazy to make their beds/do subsequent laundry). I, on the other hand, couldn’t wait to get the fuck out of co-sleeping (literally, why is there always a toe up my nose??). Traveling alone back to PR wasn’t bad at all, again all the credit goes to these amazing lil’ jet setters. But Z was pissed on the plane: she proclaimed “I’m never going to learn Spanish or the culture, I want to just forget we ever came here. I want to stay in Pennsylvania!” Fortunately, once we got to our apartment, nostalgia or something kicked in and she told me she was grateful to be here #moodyjudy.
The car expectedly greeted us with a flat tire, and unexpectedly also had a dead battery, but thank goodness for making friends because our new neighbor helped me get up and running. I had just enough food that I could wait a few days to go shopping, so we spent the weekend at the pool, trying to unwind from the chaos of the previous weeks. I discovered a new bug at the freshly mowed pool lawn that ate me alive and left me itchy for days, but the girls got to test out the mermaid flippers they received for Christmas, so I’ll call it a win!
Puerto Rican drivers did not disappoint and I nearly escaped a fender bender on my first outing since returning; but that ocean, too, did not disappoint, literally leaving me breathless every time I looked out my bedroom window.
The headaches of being a glorified housekeeper in my 2400sf house really made me appreciate my small, easy-to-maintain apartment here. Since I don’t own it, I’m not bothered in the least about the flaws and quirky faucet installations and outdated closet doors. It was really freeing to come back and not keep a rolling to-do list, like all homeowners do. Of course leaving real winter for 80+ degree days is incredible, and we missed latino radio. Leaving and coming back made me realize I don’t miss PA as much as I thought I would, and that I don’t dislike PR that much either. Honestly, if Uriah lived here with us life would be pretty perfect. The girls have also settled back into life here, giddy about being back in school and afternoon trips to the pool or to hang with our neighbors. None of us have a preference at this point of what we consider to be “home” and I’m not personally in a rush to define that one. Maybe no where is home, maybe everywhere is. I’m totally up for whatever path the universe sets up for me!