Last Thursday I packed the car full to the top of various bags and kid accessories, strapped in the kids and headed off on a week-long, six hundred mile road trip. Just me and the girls.
Our first stop was at my mom’s, about two hundred and fifty miles from our house. It is normally a four hour drive, but we had to make some stops so it took us longer-gas, a snack run, and a pit stop in a strip-mall parking lot so I could feed Hazel. Once we got to town, I realized that I had forgotten the baby gate, and since my mom has stairs and I have a crazy nearly two-year-old, we had to do an emergency run to Babies-r-Us, adding about 20 extra miles to our trip. By the time we got to my mom’s I was beat. As exhausted as I was, bedtime was one of the things I was dreading the most because normally it is kind of like being tortured. My mom took over Hazel and Adeline so I could put Lucy to bed-and at this point we were probably about three hours past bedtime-and Lucy would.not.sleep. Our normal at home routine is dinner/bath/bed and going to bed is just me cuddling her for a few minutes, laying her down and that’s that. At my mom’s she has to be asleep before I can leave the room due various safety issues. After an hour I got fed up and pulled out the pack-n-play that we keep there. I had honestly not really intended to use it as anything other than a threat; “If you don’t go to sleep in the bed, you’ll have to get in there”. And she didn’t go to sleep in the bed, so I had to follow through. The little stinker laid down and went to sleep, and slept all the way through until a reasonable hour the next morning. I was shocked.
Friday was just a fun day of playing. The girls didn’t even get out of their jammas.
Saturday my mom had plans with her Gentleman Friend, so the girls and I packed up to go to my dad’s for the afternoon. My older brother drove down from up north to meet us, and conveniently arrived at the same time we did so he got the pleasure of hauling all of our stuff inside. It took a couple of minutes for my little brother to bring Adeline out of her shell and get her playing, but Lucy was a whole ‘nother story. I put her down on the couch, where she sat stone-faced and not moving. I so wish I had taken a picture of her expression, it was priceless. She would have nothing to do with anyone until Oma brought out the bubbles (in the house! Coolest Oma ever). My mom and Oma chose their own grandma names, and Lucy kept calling Oma Yaya, no mater how many times we tried to correct her, which was a tiny bit awkward even though we all knew it wasn’t anything personal. We somehow made it the entire night without anyone getting hurt, and the tablecloth only got pulled off the table once and even then only one drink spilled. My dad got in some good rocking time with the baby, and the big girls got lots of time in the yard. Eventually Adeline was asking to go home to Yaya’s house, and in the car on the way she told me that she “didn’t know to stop the yawns in her mouth”. She promptly fell asleep, and somehow Lucy managed to stay awake the entire drive back.
I realized as I pulled back up to my mom’s that I had no idea how I was going to get everyone into the house. Normally I have everything planned out perfectly, but this time I put Lucy in her jammas and shoved her shoes in the bottom of one of our bags. My mom lives in a condo and the chances of getting one of the few parking spots near her front door late(ish) on a Saturday night are slim. I ended up parking in front of her garage door, carrying the littles while coralling a very sleepy Adeline who was afraid of the dark all the way back around to the front door. I was able to put Lucy right to bed and once she was sleeping and Adeline was content, I pulled the car into the garage. I can’t even describe how wrong it felt to be out in the car like that with all of the kids in the house. It was a really weird sensation.
Sunday was an out-and-about sort of day. I wanted to go to find new shoes since about a week after taking up running I was having crippling knee pain. A friend recommended Road Runner Sports, so we headed over there to check it out. My mom entertained the big girls while I went through the process to figure out what shoe I needed. The guy who helped me was pretty shocked that I was even mobile after seeing how high my arches are coupled with the terrible over pronation I have going on in my left foot. I got custom insoles and a new pair of shoes, fingers crossed that it helps. We took the girls to lunch afterwards, and I think we’ve reached the point that the stress of a meal out is greater than the enjoyment of not having to cook; I am pretty sure we got out of there about two minutes before an epic meltdown started. Lucy is just not cut out for restaurant eating right now. The food was good though, and I was really happy when the bill was only $35 for four of us to eat.
Monday we started the second half of our trip to visit Jake’s mom up north since his sister and her husband were going to be in town and they hadn’t met the baby yet. The drive was easier than I expected, even with the stop we had to make at a gas station for Adeline to go potty. At one point things got a little tense when some maniac in a cargo van decided he didn’t need to pay attention to the double yellow lines or the speed limit. There’s nothing like seeing someone flying up behind you driving on the wrong side of the road, and even though it was scary as hell watching him do it, I was glad he passed me. And I was even more glad when I saw the DPS guy take off after him. Serves you right, buddy.
On Thursday we headed up to the Humane Society to see if they had any puppies. After having gone back and forth over the last few months, we had finally decided on a lab or a lab mix. Our original choice had been an Australian Shepherd but I had read about some breed characteristics that made me hesitate, and after Lucy got along with our friend’s lab so well, we thought that’d be the better choice. But when we walked into the puppy section, this little face was just sitting there regarding us rather curiously. We asked to meet her, and spent some good time with her. The guy who worked there was so patient and answered all of my questions (and it turned out he was supposed to be off, and he never once rushed us or anything). I filled out the application for adoption and was approved. That was a really great facility. Jake told me that Ellen DeGeneres donated there at one point, and she picked a good place. All of the people who worked there really seemed to care about the animals and they were all really nice.
After a quick stop to a discount store for some supplies, we headed back to my mother-in-law’s house to load up and head out. It was way later in the day than I had intended, but oh well. Since the trip had started we had added a bookshelf, a mountain bike and a puppy+supplies to our load, so getting everything in was kind of like a game of Tetris. But heading home I was much less particular about how things were packed and just kind of crammed everything in wherever there was a spare inch. We came across a McDonald’s in Springerville, and stopped for a quick snack. It was probably the longest drive thru line I have ever sat in-two cars in front of me and it took ten minutes. The lady working the window was so awesome though, totally cheerful and friendly so I ended up not really minding very much. We parked in the parking lot so I could distribute food and drinks and gave the puppy some water and a biscuit. We pulled back on the road, and juuust after we got out of town, the puppy got car sick-right into the center console. I pulled off in the first place I could find to clean it up, and sadly, my entire bag of M&M’s had been defiled and I had to throw them away. That was the only real casualty of that incident though, miraculously. But, still. Gross. We had to pull over one more time to redistribute some of our food, and then we were on the road for real. Until we had to pull over AGAIN because Adeline had to pee. Sorry, New Mexico but when a toddler’s got to go, they’ve got to go. The drive home was long and boring. I chose that route because the alternative is driving through the Salt River Canyon, which is slow and curvy and scary. But the route we chose was slower and possibly curvier, just spread out over a longer span. Next time I think I’ll go the canyon way.
It was a fun week. There were a couple of moments of frustration but they were fairly rare. The whole experience totally made me feel like a rockstar. And as much as I swore after Hazel was born I wasn’t traveling for a loooong time, I’m kind of considering a trip BACK to Phoenix next weekend because Jake is going down for his annual River Trip and then maybe a road trip to Denver (also with Jake) to visit his sister and her husband in August.