We traveled back to the States for the first time since our move to Panama. We flew to Raleigh, North Carolina to celebrate my niece’s first birthday. Family came in from all over including my parents from New York and a lot of my brother-in-law’s family from California. It was a full week of family fun!
Raleigh is built around families so there was so much to do with the kids. We went to two different science museums, parks, a rescue zoo, a pumpkin patch, and Marbles (the kids play museum) twice! Even with that, there was plenty of down time that we spent destroying Aunt Heidi and Uncle David’s house. Even though all the other cousins were a few years older, they did so well including our kiddos. It was so touching to see them all play together.
Marbles Museum, our kids’ favorite and perfect for all ages:
Durham Science Museum (this place is huge, we only got to explore a fraction of it. Of course, PJC’s favorite was the dinosaur forest):
Another Science museum in downtown Raleigh (the highlight was the kids lab where they could touch and explore everything with magnifying glasses and the presentation where they could touch live animals including hissing cockroaches, a tortoise, and a snake).
I was able to accomplish one of my bucket list items at the rescue zoo- feeding a Giraffe. I had really wanted to fly to Giraffe Manor in Africa to do this, but I guess this was cheaper. PJC was even brave enough to feed it with his mouth. We also got to see tigers, bears, antelope, ostriches, monkeys, and much more.
Luckily we were also there just as it turned October. Time to get a pumpkin! This patch has several playgrounds, bounce houses, and a hay ride. As you can tell by our sweaty, red faces, it did not feel like fall, it was HOT! Thank goodness they also had a splash pad.
But the point of the trip was the PARTY! My sister is a party planning expert, and to call this a party really doesn’t do it justice. It was more like a carnival. The theme was unicorn, and there was face painting, balloon animals, a jump castle, and even ponies (aka the “unicorns”) that kids could ride or brush and decorate. The cake and decorations looked amazing.
As always it was sooooo hard to leave my family. I hate that we live so far apart from each other, and the ultimate goal is to live close to each other in the future. While it was nice being able to shop at Target and some other stores (and I packed an extra empty suitcase to do so), I was surprised that I wasn’t that sad about leaving those conveniences. I thought it would be harder than it was to return to Panama, but it actually felt like going home. It was especially nice to come home to this: