Avery and Lily are officially world travelers. On August 18th, 14 members of my family boarded a plane bound for Roatan. Roatan is a small Caribbean island, belonging to Honduras, that has some of the world’s best SCUBA diving and snorkeling. Our party included Noel, Avery, Lily, and me; my dad and David my 24 year old brother; my oldest brother Houston, his wife Lyndsay, Rachel (6 years old), and Michael (4 years old); and my older brother William, his wife Kerry, Lauren (6 years old), and William, a.k.a. Dubs (4 years old). We were quite a crew!

I’ve gotten some questions about how we managed to travel internationally with 7 month old twins.  Having 8 adults in the group helps a lot! Packing was tricky, but, knowing me, I began strategizing early on. We took 2 large suitcases, 2 small suitcases, 1 duffle bag of SCUBA gear, 2 backpacks, and 2 umbrella strollers. 1 large suitcase was mine and1 large suitcase was Noel’s.  I packed all of the babies’ clothes in one small suitcase. The 2nd small suitcase was full of baby formula and baby food. I didn’t know what to expect as far as baby formula and food in Roatan so I came prepared. Also, every spare inch in any suitcase was filled by a diaper. I packed both backpacks with burp clothes, more diapers, wipes, formula, 1 change of clothes for the babies, and an extra shirt for me. I rarely make it through the day without being spit up upon, so I thought it wise to carry a t-shirt for myself. Avery and Lily drink Similac Sensitive in the ready to pour, liquid version, meaning it’s in quart bottles. I figured on taking 14 quarts, 12 packed and 2 carried on, since they consume a combined 40 ounces daily, and we would be gone 7 days.  I’d have 2 full quarts to carry on the plane for the return trip. The small suitcase with the 12 quarts of formula weighed like 35 pounds, and the zipper busted open partially in transit. However, all of the jugs of formula stayed intact, and the suitcase zipped right back up. The best part was that suitcase was empty by the end of the week, so packing to come home was a breeze. The villa had two pack and plays for the girls to sleep in and one high chair. We rented a mini-van and reserved two infant car seats. When we arrived at the Avis counter, the clerk was befuddled. They had no car seats at all. They didn’t know anything about any car seats. Perhaps, the clerk suggested, they could find someone with kids from whom we could borrow them. They reassured me that there were no car seat laws in Roatan, so we could legally hold the babies on our laps. I did not feel reassured. When in Roatan! We saw many families of 3 on mopeds, toddler in between the two parents.  Clearly, Avery and Lily went on very few outings.

We rented a villa on the beach with 6 bedrooms/ 4 bathrooms. We could walk out a pier from the beach, hop in the water, and were surrounded by an amazing coral reef. Snorkeling around “our” reef, we saw lobster, moray eels, cuttlefish, starfish, conch shells, and thousands of rainbow colored fish of all sizes. William and Noel are both SCUBA certified and got time to do 2 dives.  If you love snorkeling or SCUBA, Roatan is the place for you! There’s really not much else there. For the most part, the island has one road that winds up and down the hilly terrain with hundreds of hair pin curves. This road even goes through a parking lot. We thought it was a dead end, but no. You pass through a parking lot, and then it becomes a road again. Nonetheless, it’s an amazingly gorgeous place.

Avery and Lily did not snorkel on this trip, but they did get to spend time in “our” pool. They loved being in the water so much that they even fell asleep in our arms! Rachel and Lauren were awesome helpers. They fed the babies; they held the babies; they entertained the babies. The boys got in on it too! Dubs even let Avery hold his best buddy Amigo the Hippo and Michael let them play with his stuffed sting-ray named Pizza. It was like a 24/7 fun zone! Dubs took on the job of shooing flies away from them. Roatan is full of bugs. Several flies made it into the house and were very hard to get rid of. Dubs stood watch over Avery and Lily, flyswatter in hand, and did his best to keep the flies from alighting near them. It was a bit scary at times, since he was batting a weapon at a high rate of speed near the babies’ heads, but he never whacked them!  One morning the girls were getting cranky and needing their nap, so I said, “Stick a fork in them. They’re done.” Dubs yelled out, “No!!!!!!!!” I assured him that I was not going to literally stick a fork in either of my children. What a sweet cousin.

Unfortunately, by day 4, Avery was suffering from delusions of grandeur and believed herself to be the all-important, center of the universe. She demanded being held at all times and learned how to spit while being fed in order to get more attention. Lily just wanted more space so she could roll around, growl, and flap her arms like a penguin. When I’d put them down for naps, I’d try to go snorkeling with Noel or other such activities; however, every time I returned, Avery was being carried and doted upon instead of napping (ahem Pa). It was rather hilarious. My dad would hear her cry, go get her out of bed, wrap her in a beach towel to protect her from bugs and sun, and they’d hang out in the cabana watching the big kids swim. When I’d walk up, Avery would look at me as if she were the queen of the world! I reinstated a closer version of the at-home schedule and reined those babies back in. I’m sure the whole house appreciated it since Avery had decided 3 AM was time to get up. I also had to move their beds into a closet so that they weren’t disturbed during nap time!  How can the center of the universe nap when everyone else is splashing around in the pool?

My younger brother David should win the MVP award for the trip! He got up early every morning and made coffee for all of us caffeine junkies. He even took on baby detail! When Avery began her spitting routine, and feeding her was like being showered with baby food, David stepped up and would offer to feed her. He would stand behind the high chair! Avery was perplexed as to how the spoon was floating to her mouth, but at least David didn’t get sprayed with peas. Just his hand would be covered in the green goo.

It was certainly a trip of a lifetime. I loved seeing all of my nieces and nephews with my babies.  I’ve always loved being an aunt. It’s a very special relationship. Rachel and Lauren, being 6 year old girls, wanted a list of what Uncle Noel had done for each of our anniversaries and a ranking of the most romantic things he had ever done. They were pretty impressed that he made a heart out of Christmas lights on our roof! But they most approved of his proposal to me at top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and how all the other tourists were shouting “He’s proposing” and “Did she say yes?” I loudly said yes and nodded my head so all would know. Lauren told me she would say yes too. Smart girl.

On our last full day, I spent a long time in the pool with the big kids while the babies were napping in the closet. I impressed them with my ability to float effortlessly on my back, which they attributed to some athletic prowess rather than my buoyant body type. The coup de grace was when I did an underwater handstand and then walked on my hands. I resurfaced to four cheering kids, as if I had won an Olympic gold medal. Michael told me I was the champion of the world. It was a very nice compliment and made me feel good even though I know an underwater handstand is not a true acrobatic feat. Kerry told me that, once back at home, Dubs told one of Lauren’s friends that his aunt can walk on her hands underwater. It’s nice to have made such an impression! I can only imagine how Rachel, Lauren, Dubs, and Michael will shape Avery and Lily. We’re so blessed to have these wonderful children in our lives.

Yes, I believe it was a trip of a lifetime. I’m sure more family vacations are in our future, but it won’t be the same. The kids will be older and not impressed by underwater handstands. I’ll have to bring my A Game, underwater backflips.

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