July 19, 2013

Trip Back East

I've missed you, blog friends and family!  But I enjoyed the extended break from all the usual tasks while we drove all the way from Utah to North Carolina and back to visit grandparents, great grandparents, step grandparents, and friends.  It was an awesome trip!

Let me just start with a confession.  I have always been a snob mom on the topic of DVD players in cars.  I have refused to even entertain the idea, opting instead to check out a ton of books on CD for our long trips.  But 30 hours was an unthinkably long time to spend in the van with 3 kids, so I caved.  And ya know what?  I now believe that this technology is God's gift to parents.  Granted, the screens are out of the van now and I have vowed only to pull them out for drives exceeding 3 hours, but let me tell you how wonderful it was to have happily distracted kids on a trip of that length.  They have their place, fellow snobs.  They have their place.  Instead of hearing, "How much longer?"  Joe and I actually had our most extended adult conversations of the last 10 years!  We talked about religion and politics and all of the things they say to never talk about in a bar.  It was kind of like meeting my husband again, and you know what?  I'm kind of freshly smitten with him.  He's an interesting fellow!  But it's easy to forget that when you only ever talk about bed times and when to force a child to eat a green bean against her will versus when to let it slide.  So, viva la DVD!  

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We slept over at my Granny's house for the first time ever, which was cool.  Next we met the adorable little ones brought into the world by one of my favorite friends of all time.  Let me just tell you, her little 3 year old daughter was quite smitten with Joe, too!  She invited him to dance and snuggled up with him and rubbed his hair.  So stinking adorable!

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Tea party with Yaya!

Then it was off to my dad's new house in his new retirement community.  Just so you know, my dad designed and built the first 2 houses I ever lived in (one of which was the first ever solar home in Tennessee!  My dad was green before Gore!) and this retirement house was his return to doing it all himself.  He did hire a team of Mennonite builders to build it for him, but he built a model, drew up plans, and had an architect sign off on them (so that all was legal) and every detail of his new house is personalized.  While they built it, he built all of the kitchen cabinets in the garage of his old house and had them ready to go when construction was done.   So, I was excited to see the fruits of his labors and boy!  What a house!!!!  He's so talented, and I'm so proud of him!  While we were there, we also did some fun kayaking and lake swimming.  His new neighborhood has so much to do!

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Then it was off to my mom's cabins for a day with her and her parents.  That side of the family doesn't get together all that often, and my grandparents on that side have never traveled to Utah, so it was almost like our kids were meeting them for the first time all over again.  That was kind of fun.  We hung out around the picnic pavilion of my mom's cabin resort, Joe grilled up some lunch and we all just sat around and caught up.  Grandma and her husband even came back later and met us for dinner!  So it was the most perfect day I think I've ever had with that crew!

Then it was back to my dad's old house (the one where I spent my teenage years) for dinner and sleep and then back home to Utah.  

We hit 9 states and were pretty surprised about our feelings about some of them.  The stretch of Wyoming was kind of ugly.  I always hear how beautiful it is, so I'm sure there must be more to it, but the stretch we drove was less than inspiring.  Nebraska was greener than I expected, and quite lovely.  Missouri was the biggest surprise.  Honestly, my visions of Missouri were less than favorable.  But the real Missouri is now in my top 5 most beautiful states!  It was so green and rolling and majestic.  It felt calm and serene, but not lacking in activity and home-towniness.  On the drive back, however, I couldn't help but note that even at exits with absolutely nothing but corn fields and a truck stop, adult stores abounded.  Seemed from the interstate that Missouri might have a disproportionately large amount of them.  Haha!

It was also kind of funny being non-Mormons driving around Missouri in a van with Utah license plates.  Missouri has a lot of LDS history (and future as new Jerusalem if their plans for the world pan out), so a lot of our friends make road trips to Missouri  with their family to do Mormon history type learning trips.  We had a lot of giggles about masquerading as a family on a Mormon history road trip.  Here at home, we have incidents from time to time where people who have known us only as acquaintances for years suddenly say, "Wait.  You're not LDS?  But you're young, clean-cut white folks with a lot of kids, strong morals and a white van!  I just assumed!"  When that happens, they always feel embarrassed and I always feel guilty, like a sneaky impostor for not showing up to every park play date and announcing, "We are here to play, and by the way, we're not LDS."  With a drive through Missouri with our license plates, even on vacation, we feel like impostors!

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We failed to make hotel arrangements for the drive home and ended up spending the night in the van at a rest stop.  This is sort of par for the course for us.  Joe said, "It wouldn't be a Christison family road trip without at least one night in the van!"  Still, this was the trip that we realized that the kids are all lengthening out and it was a little harder to pull off this time.  Pretty sure we're making reservations from now on.  

We made it back last Sunday evening.  We took Monday to unpack.  Then Tuesday we had to go to Salt Lake City for the day to get Hannah Jane's new prosthetic foot, which is a gorgeous teal blue with swirls of dark blue.  The rest of the week has been spent doing boring errands and chores like packing Hannah Jane up for a week away form home at horse camp next week, laundry from the trip, packing up all of last year's school stuff that we got through the online school that we used last year and getting it ready for shipping back, and getting the kids' fall school stuff ordered and ready to go for when Hannah Jane gets back from camp.  She signed up for 7th grade English through BYU's independent studies department and we're all pretty excited to see how she does under someone else's wing and with a little more freedom to sink or swim on her own.

Now I'm finally getting back down to business as usual.  Ahhh...  I really miss the mundane when I'm out adventuring.  

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