Monday, December 5, 2011

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity-Jig-Jig

After two great, busy, fun, full, and memorable weeks in Michigan, it was time to load the van, say goodbye, and hit the road for the long trip home. 
We left my parents with a drizzly sky and bits of snow, and as each hour passed we watched the grass return, the sky clear, and the temperature rise. No doubt about it - we were heading south!
We stopped just outside Toledo to visit Cabela's, the "it" place for everything outdoors. Grady gawked over boats and guns; the boys ran from animal exhibit to animal exhibit; Annalyse waddled anywhere and everywhere; and I thought about what my house would look like with an antler chandelier and a grizzly bear rug.
The store was actually really cool. If we weren't in the midst of road trip, and if our van wasn't loaded to the brim, and if I wasn't with kids, I would have enjoyed the chance to shop and take my time looking. No, not for a new rifle or fishing rod, but maybe for new boots or fleece outwear. This place had it all!
I remember showing the boys a BB gun and explaining how it worked, when I suddenly realized Annalyse wasn't next to me anymore. No fears: she was pulling an Annie Oakley and heading into the Gun Library.

We spent a fast hour walking and looking and getting rid of energy before getting in the car for another leg of the trip, which, I think was only an hour down the road because someone needed a diaper changed. 
Saturday's car ride went well and relatively fast. The kids traveled well and we were all excited knowing we were staying the night with some friends in Ohio. 

Some dear friends from college have four little ones and never batted an eye when we asked if we could crash with them for the night. Five kids under the age of nine? Sounds like a fun party! 
We arrived to the Holt home and in minutes the boys were playing basketball, racing cars, and running like wild men. Get this: my boys are still talking about how "cool Mrs. Carrie's house is because we can throw balls and even play soccer in their house!"
Our after dinner entertainment involved the dads and the kids performing an interpretive dace to the Trans Siberian Orchestra. Apparently this is a Christmastime nightly ritual with the Holt family and their boys were beyond excited to show my boys how to run like maniacs around the living room with music blasting.
The best part? Handsome Toby, who is in a wheelchair, has eyes that bulge out of his face with sheer delight when he hits top racing speeds. The kid is an ear to ear grin! The better part? Annalyse and Caris, two waddling girls, got in on the chaos too. But, the really, really best part? The boys ripped their shirts off at the end, waved them in the air, and flapped them on the ground and the couch.

And that, friends, that is how family fun times should be!
Allow me to take a moment and be a sap. My heart dances after visits like this. It's beautiful to see friends from years past and experience how they live life as a family and to taste their love and happiness and commitment to what's important.
The Holt family has chosen to trust and obey and follow God in ways you and I will likely never have to. Seeing them do that, not just hearing about it, motivates me step up and live my life more intentionally and to make the most of what God allows in my life.
Alright. Wipe your tear and lets move on.

We left Ohio Sunday morning anticipating an eight hour drive until we were home sweet home! The operative word here is "anticipating." A blown tire on the side of the highway brought a whole new time frame into play.
The boys were fascinated by the whole thing. Getting out of the car by the highway (though I promise they stayed as far back as possible given that we were sidelined by a huge hill); watching Mr. Patrolman pull up to help (because anything involving flashing lights and a man in uniform is a guaranteed good time when you are three and five); and seeing Dad bust out tools they've never seen before and "use his big muscles to lift the ripped tire off and put a new one on."

The comical part, for me, was holding a screaming Annalyse because all she wanted was to run around, and trying to jam yogurt in her mouth to pacify her and keep her happy. Is there another mother out there who dreams of feeding her one year old brunch on the side of the highway while trying to keep an eye on two active boys? Oh the joy of memories.
A shout-out to the Super Wal-Mart about 20 miles down the road for an in-and-out experience with getting a new tire bought and put on. I should mention that while the new tire was being put on, I wandered the store with the kids and listened to my boys count (loudly) and point (non-discreetly) each time they saw someone wearing camouflage. I guess Wal-Marts in West Virginia are a good place to spot (lots) of those people.

After our unanticipated delay, we were back in the van and cruising through the mountains. Things started to look up rather quickly. The temp was warm and the sky was blue. No doubt about it: we were heading south!
To the handful of friends in West Virginia and Virginia, I gave a shout-out as we drove down I-77. Just wanted you to know I was thinking of you. Maybe next time we can arrange a meeting at one of the bazillion McDonald's our family visited along the way. (And, for the record, I'm not, I repeat, not, eating McDonald's again until our next road trip.)
Once we whizzed through the tunnels and saw the sun starting to sink, the boys knew we were on the homestretch. Micah slept for a while and Grady Lee stayed busy with his Leapster. Annalyse, well, she missed the memo that communicated we had just under two hours left and that she could get out and walk soon. Rather than sleep or play with toys, she chose to cry and scream and throw Gerber Puffs around the van.
We arrived home just after 6:00 pm and it was a blur of activity. Our family has traveled enough that we have a fairly good drill that we all step into once we get home. The boys head to the playroom, Annalyse is put in her room, Grady carries everything in the house, and I scurry around putting everything in the right room.
By 10:00 yesterday evening, three kids were bathed and asleep, all suitcases were unpacked, new Christmas toys and gifts were put away, a load of laundry was complete, and groceries were bought. And by 11:01, two very tired parents were turning out the light and getting ready to sleep in their own bed for the first time in two weeks. Nothing is better than your own pillow. Nothing. (Except for maybe the pillows at the JW Marriott.)


  1. I am so impressed with your system! I find that getting home from a trip is the trickiest time in keeping our house running well.

    I thought I'd share that our city boy, looking over my shoulder while I read your post, is convinced that the temperature/direction display in your car is actually in a rocket ship. You see, CTA busses have no such display ;).

    So glad you had such a great visit and SO many date nights. That's a huge blessing.

  2. Wow, what an eventful end to what sounds like an amazing trip! Sorry for your flat tire, but glad you are all home safely! How awesome to be able to spend a night with some wonderful friends & enjoy catching-up! And,, I almost fell out of my chair laughing about the boys counting the people wearing camo @ WalMart! Priceless! Your posts have me itching to pack up the van, load up the kids & head out on a road trip! Welcome home!

  3. Do you ever ask yourself, "can just one thing go smoothly?"! Sorry about your tire...but at least your kids are adaptable and see everything as an adventure...must be their parents influence! And I am jiggity jigging that you are home too!!!