In July, Danny and Kevin and I traveled to Chicago for three weeks while Patrick and Brian stayed behind in Paraguay. Patrick and Danny were sad about being apart. “If Danny’s not here, who am I going to play with?” asked Patrick. “I’m going to be sad and crying if I can’t be near Patrick,” Danny told us. The boys gave each other big hugs and said goodbye.
There were about 25 high school girls, members of a Paraguayan handball team traveling to Europe, on our flight from Asuncion to São Paulo. The girls loved Baby Kevin and had fun holding him, snuggling him, and making him laugh.
Danny was thrilled when a flight attendant gave him a watch. He kept it on for about three days.
The boys were great on our 11-hour overnight flight from São Paulo to Chicago. They both slept almost the whole way, though Danny also ate a few rolls and watched “Finding Nemo.” Dan slept on the floor and Kevin slept in his car seat, both with blankets tented over them to block out the light.
On our first day in town, Danny went to the dentist. On prior visits to the dentist, Danny had not been a well-behaved patient (lots of screaming and crying and thrashing about), so we were all glad that this trip to the dentist went very well.
Later that week, Danny had minor surgery at Children’s Hospital in Chicago. He loved climbing on the octopus tentacles in the lobby, but was suspicious of the nurse who took his blood pressure.
The anesthesiologist gave Danny an orange-scented mask to play with before the surgery. Danny put it on his own face and on his puppy, named Poopy.
The surgeon let Danny bring Poopy with him to the operating room.
Surgery went well and Danny was happy to have a popsicle after. Shortly after these pictures were taken, Danny realized he had an I.V. in his arm and he flipped out, screaming and flailing and trying to rip out the I.V. It took three adults – me and two nurses – to hold him still and calm him down.
Once we were back in the suburbs at my mom and dad’s house, Kevin and Danny were happy to hangout with their cousins! The boys spent time with baby Evelyn and her stuffed animal, a cuddly dog now known as Poopy’s cousin.
The boys played with Mara, Evelyn, Haley, and Emmett.
Danny, Kevin, Evelyn, and Poopy went to the park.
Emmett and Danny pretended to be super heroes, and took their roles seriously. Later, Mara and Danny built block towers.
Danny and Jack played with dinosaurs while pretending to be dinosaurs.
Danny and Mara, and later Kev, made themselves into a tower of cousins.
Kev hung out with Whitney and Charlotte, his twin cousins born just three days before he was. Everyone, especially Griff, missed Patrick. The cousins don’t get to see each other often but they sure had fun together!
Danny and Kev had fun with Grandma and their aunts too. Danny liked the phone app that made everyone have crazy faces.
Kevin worked on perfecting his spitting techniques.
One night we had a reunion dinner with relatives from the trip that Kevin and I took in April and May on the Camino de Santiago. I made octopus for the reunion dinner since we had eaten so much of it in Portugal and Spain.
The boys had a great time playing at a park one afternoon with Aunt Sheila and Uncle Mike.
During our trip, Kevin got better at pulling himself up to standing, as if he were trying to escape from his pack and play.
During one particularly nice dinner outdoors, we watched my brothers Kevin and Matt finish up a round of golf.
Since our house in Paraguay doesn’t have bathtubs, the boys – who love baths – took advantage of every tub they could during our trip.
One night at dinner, perhaps in a ploy to eat cake and ice cream, Danny announced that it was the tenth birthday of his (imaginary) baby dragons. He loved it when we sang “Happy Birthday” and Colleen presented him with ice cream (there wasn’t any cake) with candles for him to blow out.
We are lots of good food on our trip – wonderful home-cooked meals, as well as donuts, sushi, Chinese food, and my new favorite: fried cookie dough.
Danny spent lots of time at various swimming pools, especially loving diving boards.
Kevin loved splashing around in his little floating raft.
Kev had lots of good snuggles with his aunt Colleen.
Danny got a clean bill of health from the surgeon at his follow up appointment.
After three nice, long weeks in Chicago, it was time to start packing up and get ready to head back to Paraguay.
Unfortunately our overnight flight from Chicago to São Paulo was delayed and we missed our connecting flight back to Paraguay. That meant we had an extra 11 hours to spend in São Paulo.
Thankfully, the airline gave us a hotel (right in the airport terminal) and we all took a nap and showers, walked all over the airport a few times, and relaxed a little bit. The boys (and their mama) were worn out!
While killing time in the airport, we received the exciting news that my brother Patrick and his girlfriend Amy had gotten engaged. Can’t wait for the wedding next year!
Finally, at about 10 PM, after way too many hours in São Paulo, we boarded our flight back to Asuncion. Both boys stayed awake until we were about ten minutes from landing. When it came time to get off the plane, thankfully a fellow plane passenger carried sleeping Kev in his car seat while I carried our bags and sleeping Dan on my shoulder. Poor Kev was very upset when it turned out that one of our bags didn’t make it to Paraguay. (It did arrive two days later and Brian and Patrick went back to pick it up.)
While we were gone, Patrick got to do plenty of fun things like visit the hardware store, play with a toy nerf gun, climb on top of a big car, jump in a bouncy castle, fly a kite, ride a bike, and eat ice cream. What more could a five-year old boy ask for?
The day after we made it back to our home in Paraguay, my parents hosted a big party to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. Although we weren’t able to stay in Chicago and attend the party we did have a life-size cutout made of my mom and dad on their wedding day. Everyone had fun taking pictures with the newlyweds!
As is the case with almost all Collins family celebrations, the guests of honor – using hockey sticks – set off my late uncle Tim’s cannon.
The day before the party, my sisters Nora and Katie had gone to pick up the cake from the bakery. With no instructions from the bakery staff on how to transport the cake home, Katie decided to hold the cake box in her lap. Bad move. The cake was not in great shape by the time it arrived.
Thankfully the bakery staff was very understanding and they not only made a new cake but they delivered it themselves. The two lovebirds cut the cake and shared bites of it as if it were their wedding day.
In honor of my dad’s 1970s wedding day mustache, five of his brothers showed up to the party also sporting mustaches. My dad’s brother Pete, making fun of Dad’s preference for early bedtimes (and his proclivity for subtly signaling the end of a party by going upstairs, getting ready for bed, and returning to the party in his robe) dressed in a bathrobe for the party.
Nine of my parents’ twelve kids were at the celebration!
We had a great time in Chicago and although we missed the party, we sure were glad to be back home.