After our soul-and-body-exhausting trip to the beach in August, I made the comment on Facebook that a vacation with small children really isn't a vacation. And a friend of mine remarked that it's really just a relocation.
A-freakin'-men to that.
We've spent the last two weekends on the road. I don't even know how many miles we put on the minivan. Or how many snacks William went through en route. I did learn one important thing, though: it was worth it, just keeping most of the same stufff packed from the first weekend and just reloading it back into the van for the second trip.
Last weekend, David and I loaded up Matilda with Andrew, William, Diane and Aaron and set sail for the mountains of East Tennessee. David and I were invited to attend a wedding, so Diane and Aaron went with us to babysit during the wedding events. And soak up a little cool mountain air in the meantime. Well, we certainly were packed tightly into that minivan! But it was worth the close quarters. We had a lovely weekend, all the way around.
which was named "The Three Bears," had stuffed bears and bear decorations all over the place, and William had a ball looking at all of them.
And of course, so did Andrew:
We did a lot of porch-sitting and chatting in our down time, which, if you think about it, is just about one of the most perfect ways to spend a beautiful fall day:
Diane with William testing out the "Indiana Jones" bridge in a little park, not far from our cabin:
And a photo of the boys together in "their" room, which was a sweet little sleeping porch right off our room:
I should note here, however, that our cabin, while adorable in every way, was perched on top of a precipice. I don't think I've ever driven up a street that was angled that sharply before in my entire life. There are roller coasters in major theme parks that don't go up hills that steep.
Then, a few days after we returned to Music City, I took the boys and we drove down to Natchez to see my parents and brother. We took the scenic route, meaning that we drove through Birmingham and swung by my childhood home so I could show William where I grew up. It's been at least a decade, maybe longer, since I last saw the house. It seemed at once both completely familiar and totally foreign to me. I know it is horribly cliched to say this, but the house--the whole neighborhood, really--looked so much smaller than I remembered it being. The house, which is red brick, used to have yellow, then pale peach, woodwork. Now the wood parts are painted dark green, but they're a faded dark green, and there's this big Bradford pear tree in the front yard that wasn't there when we lived there. It was just...different.
Many pit stops later, we eventually made our way down to Natchez for the annual hot air balloon festival. Poor Mom. We totally took over her entire house. There was not a single room that didn't have some of our stuff in it. Bags of toys, bags of baby gear, diapers, the Batcave, shoes, the bouncy seat, snacks, and so on. We're like the human version of kudzu. And we even ousted my brother from his room, too. (He's living with her while he finishes grad school.) It was great to be there, but Mom's cat didn't look so pleased about our invasion.
On Friday night, we went to the balloon festival carnival down on the bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, and William got to ride some of the kiddie rides. His favorite was maybe the ricketiest carousel I have ever seen in my life. Every time his horse wobbled upwards on its post, I lunged to make sure I was in position to catch my firstborn, should he be catapulted off.
You can't tell from the photo, but there were massive fireworks exploding out over the river. We watched them for awhile, until the siren call of the next kiddie ride managed to lure William away.
Then, on Saturday morning, the balloons began their first race in the crisp early morning sunshine. They raced right over my mom's house, so we all dashed out into the street in our pajamas to get a look.
We spent most of Saturday afternoon down at the carnival again. Mom and Daddy sold T-shirts, and William got me, his uncle and his grandfather to take him to ride the rides at various times. Luckily for his grandfather, there are height and weight limits to those rides. I didn't realize that on Friday night, and I made the mistake of insisting on riding some of the rides with William. They should sell Dramamine with the ride tickets, I think.
William was allowed to play one game; at $3 a pop, that's all I was going to spring for. Luckily, he won! He got a stuffed lion. I'll have to post the picture from my iPhone later. But in the interim, here's a photo of him with a couple of the hot air balloons in the background...
You could wait in line to get in the basket and then float way up in the air (still tethered to the ground, of course). I said, after I stopped wheezing in horror at the very idea, "Um, no thanks." I like looking at hot air balloons a lot. From a distance. Where there's no possible way that I or anyone whom I love could possibly be scooped up into one.
All in all, two lovely weekends with both sets of grandparents. And of course, it's nice to be home again now, too.