After our stay in Blacksburg, we drove to Winston-Salem, NC to visit Stuart's brother Mitch and his family. Daniel and Anya have two cousins; C-boy will be three years old in a few weeks, and C-girl is now 17 months. The boys spent all three days of our visit running after each other and tumbling across the yard. They played like boys typically play - lots of wrestling, chasing, ball-throwing, and yes, a bit of arguing over whose turn it was with the frisbee/riding toys/ball, but for two preschool-age kids, they got along quite well. As for the girls...well, let's just hope they get to know each other a little better as they get older. C-girl is still too young to be very social with other kids, and Anya seemed so overwhelmed with all the unfamiliarity (a house we hadn't been to before, people she hadn't seen in nearly a year, driving a different car, etc), she mostly clung to me and Stuart.
Anya finally came out of her shell a bit the last night we were there. It was getting to be well past bedtime for the boys and Anya (C-girl was already asleep), but all the grown-ups were enjoying sitting outside drinking wine and no one felt like dealing with pajamas and teeth-brushing just yet. The boys were running around, increasingly giddy with tiredness, and all of a sudden C-boy's pants were off, then his shirt, and then Daniel was naked, too. And then - incredibly - Anya joined in. She got all of her clothes off by herself and ran around the back yard in the buff with the boys. By that time it was after dark, so nobody cared. I was so proud of her, really I was. For days she had been so clingy and high-maintenance, and that evening she finally shed some of that shyness (and her clothes).
We spent most of our time in Winston-Salem outside, as a matter of fact. The weather was so perfect (sunny, 70s, blue sky), and all four kids are just happier out in the fresh air. We ate most of our meals outside on the back deck, and visited some nice outdoor parks. One day we hiked a small nature trail. Another day we went to Tanglewood county park. We tried going to a local winery, but it was closed, sadly. Stuart and I both enjoyed the nice weather for running (he barefoot, I wearing my Vibrams).
The one drawback to being outside all the time was that C-boy, who recently potty-trained, decided that it wasn't worth the trouble to go inside and use the bathroom. He also doesn't like having messy pants on...Do you see where this is going? Yes, C-boy compromised by just taking his pants off and pooping in the yard or on the driveway. I think Daniel may be preparing himself for a career as a reporter of some kind, because every time C-boy doffed his britches to do his business, Daniel would run inside and announce, "Um, um, aunt R?? C-boy just pooped!!" M and R conceded that it was better than going in his pants, but it was understandably frustrating for them when he had been doing so well with using the potty in previous weeks. "It's like having a dog!" his mother exclaimed, partly in amusement, partly in frustration. The last day we were there, after cleaning up 3 piles from the driveway with nothing but his bare hands and a plastic grocery bag, M wondered aloud if it was time to get a proper pooper-scooper.
There's not much left to say, really. We ate lots of good food and drank plenty of good wine, courtesy of R's hard work in the kitchen and M and R's considerable generosity. We met several of their neighbors, good friendly people. And just like that, it was time to go home.