Happy 7th Birthday to Ronin and Claire in Milwaukee!
My cousin Katie (who is also a twin) scheduled her wedding on the same day our twins turned 7 years old. All of our Wisconsin relatives would be there, and it seemed like a great opportunity to take part in their celebration and see family we don’t see all that often and maybe add on a trip to the island in Canada afterward. It took a lot of planning–eight plane flights, two water taxis, one rental car, two different hotel reservations, five regular (non-water) taxis, one last-minute switch of a plane reservation, many arrivals after midnight, lots of delays because of weather (dust storms closed one airport, thunderstorms and rainstorms closed another), and several long sprints through airports to catch connections in the nick of time. My mom traveled with us, and my sister and her husband did most of the same trip, with slightly different flights and times.
Lakeshore State Park, Milwaukee
Soren, stopping to smell the flowers
Three kids at the shoreline looking for treasures in the rocks
We got in to Milwaukee after midnight the night before the wedding, and spent a good part of the day taking a free trolley tour around the downtown area and walking around the beautiful urban state park on the shores of Lake Michigan.
Crossing the bridge at Lakeshore State Park, Milwaukee
We were gone longer than we planned because the shuttle did not come back when it was supposed to, and after a 45-minute wait I called the transportation office on the sign and they told me that a shuttle would be there in about 5 minutes. They were right, and it was surprising to talk to a real person on the phone when I called. We got back to the hotel just in time to meet Dinah and Manuel and Justin on the sun deck for a quick snack before we had to get ready for the evening.
All of the children at the wedding, dressed up in their finery
Claire in her flower girl dress
I was a little worried about how the evening would go, considering how late we got in and how tired the kids must be, but everything went fine for a while. Claire was to be a flower girl, and she quickly made friends with the other flower girls. Ronin looked really sharp in his suit and I heard some of the guests commenting on how he was putting them to shame. Soren was sweet and charming for a bit, until it was time to go sit down for the wedding, at which point he had a bit of a temper tantrum and started crying and yelling “I hate you!” and I had to muster up everything I could to get him to be quiet enough to be able to stay during the ceremony. Ronin was asked at the last minute to be a ring bearer, so he stood up at front holding the (unbeknownst to him, empty) box, solemn with the responsibility of it all, throughout the entire ceremony.
Ronin was asked at the last minute to be the ring-bearer, and he did a fantastic job
Ronin was momentarily confused when they asked for the rings and someone else handed them over while he was left holding the box, but he recovered and I explained later that he looked so good in his suit they just had to ask him to be a part of the wedding right before it started, but they hadn’t had time to rehearse with him the full job, or to take the rings back from the person who was already holding them, so it was a shared job. Soren fell asleep during the last part of the wedding, and I picked him up and carried him to a soft spot to rest. A lot of people took pictures of him.
Soren, napping after the wedding
The wedding was lovely, but I realized afterward that I missed talking to some people I really wanted to talk to. Although I didn’t actually have to chase after kids all night, since they made friends and played together, there was a large enough space that I missed some groups, and I did get pulled away by one child or another occasionally. It was a perfect wedding to not have to worry about the kids, actually, because although there was dinner, courses were provided at different stations throughout the venue and available at-will during the reception. There was an area with photo props. There was a bridesmaid that Soren fell in love with and he kept pulling her onto the dance floor. That was not part of how they made it work out well for the children, but it’s just a side note. Actually, Soren fell in love with a lot of the bridesmaids. Every girl in a blue dress he would grab by the hand and lead somewhere, either onto the dance floor or over to us or someone else and introduce, such as “This is my friend from a long time ago, everyone!” They loved him back.
Ronin and some wedding photo props
The kids danced well into the night. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate a 7th birthday. They flew to a place they’d never been before. They ran through a park and played in a fountain and climbed over some rocks. They rode on a trolley. They stayed in a hotel (they love that). They ate out at restaurants (they love that). They got to dress up in the fanciest clothes they’ve ever worn and take place in a ceremony they’ve always wanted to see. They did go to a wedding for their first birthday, but they don’t remember it. They were surrounded by relatives they’d missed and they met new friends. They were thrilled.
Ronin and Claire, dancing through the night on their 7th birthday
The next day, we left Milwaukee and set off for Canada. We were due to arrive at the Sudbury airport, after a couple of connections, around midnight. I had verified more than once with the rental car company that they would be open when we arrived, and they assured me they stayed open until the last plane landed. We had more delays. Storms around Chicago and Toronto. This is where I made the last-minute switch that rerouted us directly to Toronto so we wouldn’t miss our connection. We did some more running through airports, and then sat in our plane for hours before taking off, just waiting for it to be fueled. We landed around 2 AM, and Dinah and Manuel had not made it onto the plane. The next day Manuel asked me how we even got out of Toronto because he heard that no planes were leaving at all due to the storms.
Sleepy children in the middle of a stormy night at the Sudbury Airport, waiting for transportation
Our rental car company was closed when we landed. The airport security said they left because they were not allowed to work longer than a certain amount of time during the day. The cabs all left while I was trying to deal with the situation. Security called for another cab, and I tried to talk to the car rental headquarters and leave a message for the local rental company. The national line said they couldn’t do anything from their end and once again they didn’t realize they had a branch in Sudbury. I left a message at the local office asking for my rental to be delivered at the hotel the next day and hoped for the best. We packed all of us into the cab that arrived around 3 AM, drove into town with our feet on suitcases, and finally got settled into bed around 4 AM. Morning came pretty soon.