Thursday, August 6, 2009

packing in a vacation

Oh, vacation! I miss it already. This was our first attempt at a vacation with two kids and, all things considered, it went well. We are resigning ourselves to the fact that parenting never goes on vacation and...perhaps that is enough on that topic. I don't like to dwell on it. However, the up side of having your kids with you on vacation is that kids know how to REALLY enjoy being away from home and it's fun to watch them.

In addition to the kiddos, we had our pets along (which is actually easier than having someone care for them) and a booked itinerary. I hate a vacation loaded with things to do, but these were all good things that I did not want to miss. The vacation itinerary looked a little something like this:

Friday -- pack like mad, clean the whole house, and vacuum yourself out the door (remember that we did this...) in the evening. Arrive in Kentucky at your parents' house after bedtime.

Saturday morning -- get ready and head to the park to meet some of your old classmates for the precursor to your 10 year high school reunion that evening.
I did not go to the reunion for several reasons, but was glad to see a few good folks at the park. Only about eight people were there and I did not see some I had really hoped to see, but the small group was great, as I don't like large groups of people.

Saturday afternoon -- go to Sarah's personal shower. (Sarah is now my brother's wife, for those who don't know.) Laugh a lot and play a game involving cherries and whipped cream.

Saturday evening -- get treated to dinner at BD's Mongolian Grill with your parents and shop until dark.
At BD's, Israel ate squid for the first time and liked it. He tried chewing it several times, but in the end, he swallowed it whole -- tentacles and all. And he smiled. The shopping trip was for a dress for me to wear to the wedding. Mom loved taking me out, I think, which is a huge blessing. She may have fancied herself a co-host of "What Not To Wear" when she looked at me in my cute maternity tank that Pat said looked fine and said, in an I'm-putting-this-nicely voice, "I don't think you need to wear that anymore." I traded that tank for a cute dress to wear for the rehearsal dinner. This left me still without anything to wear for the wedding, but bedtime for the kids had come and gone. While I hate shopping, I love getting new clothes, and my mom is my favorite person to shop with.

Sunday -- skip church, pack up our stuff, and head to Tennessee, which was the official "vacation" part of the week. What is in Tennessee? Nothing. And that was the point. We like to get away from everything and my great-grandparents' old house by Cherokee Lake is great for that. It's outside Bean Station, which you likely have never heard of, and that also is the point. There was a little more work to do at the lake house than at other resorts, as the mice tend to care for the place when none of our relatives are visiting there. Arriving after bedtime after a drive too long for an almost-two-year-old I said, "We're here!" Israel looked out his window in the dusk and said, "Yay! I like it!" That summed it up pretty well.

Monday -- get up, see the cows. This was the case every morning at the lake. Israel loved them and so did Sophie. Pat and I pretended to have a real homestead and started laundry and cooking some meat we were able to bring with us (ah...sausage and bacon!) and tried to work on the machinery. This really just meant the riding lawnmower. I mowed part of the (big) yard before it died. Pat took its broken wheel to a shop in the next town and we left it at the bottom of the hill for the night and enjoyed the lake with the kids. Israel, it turns out, is afraid not only of getting his head wet in the bathtub, but also of getting his feet wet in a large body of water. We watched a beautiful sunset and went to bed late.

Tuesday -- get up, see the cows. Get the kids ready to go to town to get a new wheel for the mower. Discover that the people have not even looked at the wheel. The kids are asleep, so drive 2 hours to the place I grew up.
Pat and I have not been back to Benham/Cumberland/Lynch for years. It is a small mining town (or series of three towns) in a valley. I feel at once completely at home and a stranger there. (There is a growing list of places that give me that sort of feeling.) We had a good time visiting my Grandma and Aunt Shirley and even dropped in on my "aunt" Pam. It was surreal taking my children where I lived when I was their ages -- seeing the home I went to straight from the hospital (pictured on the left), the school where I went to kindergarten, the mountain I used to climb, and the road I used to walk to school in third grade. Maybe it's this way with all hometowns, but I kind of doubt many other places tug on people in the way my town does.

Wednesday -- get up, see the cows. Get the wheel for the lawnmower fixed, discover it now also needs a new spark plug. Give up and go sit on the swing and watch Eden sleep under the walnut trees. Pick blackberries out in the cow field in the pouring rain as we did a few years ago. Discover it's not nearly as romantic with a screaming toddler who does not like to play in the rain, apparently. (What?!) Dry off, sleep. Spend the evening at the lake again, watching the sun set behind Clinch Mountain and skipping rocks.

Thursday -- get up, see the cows. Pack and clean up the old "homestead," thinking you'll also have time to enjoy the lake once more before leaving. Realize that you've already pushed nap time too far and throw that thought out the window. Say good-bye to the cows (when Israel woke up in the car hours later, he was still saying, "Bye, cow.") and head to Kentucky. Get there just in time to have dinner out on the deck for my mom's birthday.

Friday -- go get a pedicure with the bridal party. Shop until you find a dress, two pairs of shoes, and two sets of jewelry for the wedding festivities. Find a dress to match the wedding colors for 40% off, comfortable dress shoes on CLEARANCE, clearance jewelery and a Christmas gift while you're at it. Go home hungry and proud. Eat, get ready for the wedding rehearsal.
If you've ever been in your own wedding, you know there is a lot that happens right at the end. There are all kinds of last-minute preparations and people you have known at various stages in your life converging at once at a crazy emotional time. The same is true when your brother gets married, only you aren't having to go through the same emotional trauma yourself. It is enough to watch others go through it. I was glad to see everyone there. Hopefully my quick smile before running off to find my kids communicated that effectively. I always wish there was more time and longer naps.

Saturday -- attend your brother's wedding. (This could serve as its own blog post, I'm sure, but I'll be brief.)
Israel was the ring bearer and I was all anxious about how my son, who does not like being touched by people with whom he is not intimately familiar, would handle holding a girl's hand and walking down an aisle in front of a lot of people he does not know...half an hour after he is supposed to take his nap. I discovered that starving him (more than I intended...oops!) and telling him I have a snack waiting at the front of the church worked very well. I was so proud of him. He was so proud of Brandon and Sarah and kept calling to them during the ceremony, despite the food in his mouth.

Most memorable moment of the ceremony: the look on the face of the father of the Bride. I've never seen someone *not cry* like that. Most comical moment of the reception: seeing Brandon fish out a large pair of granny panties from Sarah's dress to toss to the waiting eligible bachelors.
It was a beautiful day and I am very happy to have "Aunt Seesa" as the newest member of our family.

Sunday -- go to church with your parents, pack and head home. Be excited to hear that the painting being done to your house's exterior is nearly finished. Be disappointed to discover that the "stem green" color looks more like "family reunion punch green" or "minty fresh green" when it covers your whole house and not just a sample swatch. Be excited that your friend finished drywalling your hall while you were gone, just because he wanted to. Be overwhelmed to find that your whole house and all your linens are covered in drywall dust. Clean until you fall asleep.

All in all, it was a good vacation. We enjoyed each of the things we did. I think in future years, we will enjoy fewer things for longer, (we will never have Brandon's wedding again!) but the farm house was a success and a great place of freedom for the kids. I am already anticipating future vacations there and can't wait.

No comments: