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No one will dispute it when I say we made the very most of our time on the East Coast. We stepped off the plane and into Girl Car Mania day one. Ok, we had to give cuddles to Uncle Shug and Trina first, but then Girl Car Mania!!! Addie hosted as is tradition, and partners and aunties and babies and bagels were in abundance.

I didn’t know how much I needed one-on-one time with my girls until Ad and Jules met me at my old haunt, Cafe Latte. I could exhale. I could listen with two ears and soak up the intelligence and beauty of these two Capaldi sisters. And I mean beauty shining in sweats and just brushed teeth since they ran out of their apartments and cabbed to meet me from the moment Saya went down for her nap.

Saya was crawling around Uncle Shug’s apartment, curiously examining the rug when I returned from Cafe Latte. What a sweet Sunday morning! As we packed up for New Jersey transit, Shug snapped these pictures of us. It was so nice of him to capture our family in motion.

We arrived in Jersey to Peyton and Avery holding a sign for Baby Saya, welcoming their newest cousin to Maplewood. It was a flurry of hugs and happy tears. Uncle Kyle was limited to stealing cuddles with Saya when Peyton and Avery were at school or taking baths. They were taking cousin love to a new level, and Uncle Kyle wasn’t allowed to intervene if they had anything to say about it!

Kyle and Nadine graciously hosted a Conn College reunion at Ball Terrace! The entire house was alive energy and laughter. We can’t believe everyone fit on the couch for this one.

We had a playdate with the Freeds and relived some of our ‘Bourton-on-the-Water’ memories. We were able to see Ryan and Jared’s new bedroom set up, and stay for quick dinner. We had another evening to visit Steph and Ricky’s new digs, while Tati Nadine held it down with Saya-chan.

It was touching to watch Corey introduce Saya to his childhood home for the first time. It felt good in my heart. It reminded me that I stopped keeping track of ‘Saya’s firsts’ at some point and that this trip would be a good time to take notice again. Lots of “first time meeting ___ (insert wonderful people here)”.

During Thanksgiving, Mama Margaret made magic in her household, hosting people for at least four days in a row with her cooking and her storytelling. Saya’s illness was at its height in Ewing, but no one let that stop them from sweeping her up to give her their love and warmth.

Roll on with our reunions: George School was next. In New Hope, our chosen family gathered and swooned at the next generation playing together right before our eyes. The Noble/Blattner household had toys and games for all ages… yes, including 30-somethings reverting back to their teenage years.

Having all of the cousins for a second Thanksgiving on Friday evening was a treat. We were thankful that both Kyle and Tania made the drive to Ewing so everyone could be together. Corey had to leave early the next morning so it was a sweet sendoff for him, too.

Saya and I stayed on for a few more days with Mama Margaret, and she experienced her first snow on our final morning. She also pulled up to standing for the first time in Mama Margaret’s kitchen! We spent one more day at Uncle Kyle and Tati Nadine’s to conclude Saya’s first-of- many epic East coast trips.