**I apologize in advance, but this post is crazy long…I just have too much to share!

Last week, Lola and I hopped on a plane and headed out to Colorado to go visit my sister, Jada and her family. While Jada and I don’t share blood, we’ve shared everything else in our lives for over 25 years so to me…she is as close as any blood sister could ever be. Our flight left early which meant the princess had a smug look on her face when we quietly whispered “Lola it’s time to get up”. Never mind the 1000 times she has woken us up before 5:00 am over the almost two years of her life. We quickly rounded up the overstuffed bags I packed (a woman and her daughter can never be too prepared when traveling) and headed to the Indianapolis Airport. Sadly, we kissed Rob goodbye (keep in mind he spends every waking moment with his girl) and went out on our adventure.

The flight was easy and while I had hoped I would have someone to share my excitement with (cue Lola), sister was passed out before we even took off. I’m sure the other passengers were ecstatic to bear witness to her slumber as nothing is more threatening to passengers than a toddler on a plane. In less than two short hours we arrived to Denver just before 8:00 am and one of the most important people in my life finally got to meet my little girl. What would have been an emotional introduction for Jada and Lola was cut short as we had a hovering traffic officer breathing down our necks to get moving. And what would be better than Jada and Lola meeting? I got to meet my own niece, sweet baby Olivia for the very first time!

Along with Olivia, Jada and her husband, Andy, also have my ten-year-old niece, Cassidie as well as my six-year-old nephew, Ben. During the day, I knew the older kids would be in school, Andy would be at work and us girls would be left to catch up and create some much needed connections with the new additions in our lives. Jada had never seen me as a mom and I had never seen her as a “SAHM” (stay at home mom) so it was fun to see the new roles we had taken on.

We spent our days talking, laughing, remembering and just having conversations that only sisters can share. We learned we both love thrift shopping so we spent a day finding treasures at the Goodwill. We are both addicts to coffee so we’d stop every day for our caffeine craving. We both like to eat out but rarely do since we have families and budgets now, so we would splurge and treat ourselves to lunch excursions. We both enjoy cooking so at night we would make sure to have dinner as a family…babies and all. We also are snobs when it comes to beer so we’d indulge in a good Colorado brew while laughing about the goofy things we did as kids like hang our Barbies from ceiling fans or walking across the iced over lake just to get goodies from the General Store.

It was just a very relaxing and much needed mini-vacation. I was able to reconnect with Cassidie and Ben as it had been over two years since I had last seen them. I brought Cassidie little girly gifts only to find she is a very mature 10 year old. She helps her parents around the house, is into computers (sister types way faster than I will ever be able to) and is literally one of the very few people that can calm her baby sister down. She would read Olivia and Lola books all the while texting with one of her friends. It’s crazy how technologically savvy kids are these days! Ben is all boy and a very funny one at that. He likes science, playing the Wii and while it was thought he wasn’t into coloring, Aunt Meredith bought him so cool coloring books in which he showed he clearly wasn’t over it quite yet.

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As you may know, it often takes Lola time to be comfortable in different surroundings and with new people which is why it was so remarkable to see how instantly relaxed she was in Jada’s house and around Jada and her family. Right away she made more than usual eye contact with Jada, she began chattering and she just seemed at ease around my big sissy. It was reassuring to see as I wanted nothing more than for Lola to begin to love her Aunt just as much as I do. And it wasn’t just with Jada. She would get excited when she saw Cassidie coming near her, she would try to steal Ben’s crayons as he colored, she would happily anticipate her Uncle Andy’s tickling and she would laugh hysterically when Hershey (the 100 lb Chocolate Lab) would even just walk by her. You could tell Lola felt at home with this new side of her family.

The only family member she didn’t necessarily love nor did she really dislike was baby Olivia. Keep in mind Lola doesn’t spend much time around young children (heck or even older children for that matter), so she didn’t quite no what to make of Olivia. She would stare at her like she was an alien and anything that Olivia was playing with, Lola would have to have too. The unusual thing was that Olivia’s crying didn’t overwhelm Lola as most crying does so she must have felt some sort of comfort. Heck I think Lola only fussed a total of 30 minutes in the entire time we were there. That speaks volumes of her comfort level which is a clear sign of her new-found ability to handle new situations. One of my favorite moments between Lola and Olivia was when us girls were out to eat at a local Bagel shop. They both sat in highchairs being fed their lunch when Lola suddenly turned in Olivia’s direction and began babbling to her. It was like they were long lost souls catching up. Lola would grab at Olivia’s chair as she continued to chat and Olivia would get excited as she wanted nothing more than to become BFF’s with Lola. Olivia’s eyes would light up anytime Lola was around and began to mimic Lola and her actions. She would use her feet to play with toys just as Lola did, she would cough when Lola coughed and she would giggle when Lola giggled. It was amazing to see how a typically visioned child could easily learn just by witnessing others. It reminded me of the challenges Lola faces when it comes to learning, but it also reminded me of how far she has come.

I must say while I love Indianapolis, it was quite nice to see a bit of scenery. No matter which direction we were heading we could always see the snow-capped mountains. Just as Jada said, “It never gets old looking at them” and really I have to agree. While it was warm and sunny in Indy, Longmont had a couple of mornings with snow on the ground. But just as the Frontier pilot promised, it was sunny the entire five days we were there. The snow would melt by the afternoon so we were able to enjoy the crisp fall Colorado air. It was beautiful.

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Seeing that our kids wouldn’t be trick or treating together, we put their costumes on and got a couple of good laughs…of course at their expense! Olivia was to be a Ladybug and Lola a Spider (unfortunately I don’t have pictures of Cassidie the Werewolf and Ben the Incredible Hulk). They were good sports wearing the costumes and Lola was like a chubby Umpaloompa rolling around everywhere. It was too cute!

Jada got to witness a huge Lola milestone while we were there. Lola climbed her very first steps and Jada was the first one to see it!! I have to admit, it wasn’t what I expected to see as I heard Jada say, “Meredith – shhh – look”. As I turned the corner, there was Lola determined to get up that first step. Jada stayed close behind in case she fell back, but Lola made it up a couple before she realized she was in unfamiliar territory. And later that night, she climbed up even more on her own and the look on her face when I scooped her up was one of “Did you just see that Mom?”. I couldn’t be more proud and I couldn’t be more happy that my sister was there for such a big event!

As all good things usually come to an end, the five days sped by but I couldn’t have asked for a better trip. The fact of knowing my sister is just a two hour flight away made saying goodbye a little bit easier. I remember the tears I shed as I said goodbye a few years ago when we still lived in Costa Rica. Just not being able to say with certainty when we’d be back as time and money couldn’t allow us the freedom. Yet now I can say the void I once felt is now filled knowing how close my sister is once again. In fact, we are already planning our next reunion with our parents and all.

Thank you Jada, Andy, Cassidie, Ben, Olivia (and Jimmy too!) for a wonderful trip! See you soon!