Saturday, October 27, 2007

We're home again

I'm back! After a week or nearly two of vacation, I'm putting huge amounts of effort into getting back into our routine. Dragging myself out of bed a few minutes ago was one of the hardest things I've done in a while. Every limb and finger is stiff and heavy in protest.

Highlights of our trip:

1. The 20 1/2 hour drive to Illinois. It was our first time driving since we've had kids, and I knew it might get ugly. However, some friends of ours from our small group offered us the use of their minivan with a built in DVD player, and let me tell you, friends, that is the way to travel with toddlers. Green Bean and Peanut Butter rarely watch videos, but since they were going to be strapped down for 20+ hours at a time, I figured we might as well try it and see if it helped the time go by more quickly. We could tell the DVDs were working their magic by the fact that the two minutes it took to switch DVDs were punctuated with moans and whines and fussing.

2. Baby Newton. We ordered it from Netflix before we left. A couple of friends of ours lent us large amounts of kids' videos...Baby Einstein ones, and Veggie Tales, and some Disney. After several Veggie Tales videos we put Baby Newton in...and both boys were instantly riveted. They even laughed out loud at one part. Clearly the videos are designed for kids their age, because My Hero and I couldn't really see the appeal. (I know all the words to the crayon song by heart now, though.) We tried to keep a variety of videos going for the rest of the trip, but most of the time Green Bean just wanted "Nut Flix." Even the other Baby Einstein videos we had were far less preferred than the Netflix. Thank you, Baby Newton.

"Sometimes, when I wanna have some fun,
I draw a picture with crayons
To show everyone..."

3. Grandma and Grampa. Of course. They were so wonderful with the boys. We arrived on Wednesday, and my brother-in-law's wedding was Saturday. So the first few days of our visit were a flurry of preparations and activity. Then Sunday, after the wedding was over and the guests had gone (besides us), Grandma took the boys and spent the day with them while My Hero and I went into Chicago to visit my sister and her husband. Grandpa took Green Bean with him to his pumpkin stand to "help" him, and took him on his combine as he harvested corn, and fascinated both boys with all the farm equipment and produce.

4. Being on the farm in the fall. My Hero's parents live in Illinois; mine live in New England. We'll never be close to both of them at the same time, so we're always torn. We've been longing to visit Illinois during the summer or fall (we take a yearly trip to visit every January, as soon after Christmas as My Hero can be spared from his job), and just haven't been able to afford it. Which is why we chose to drive this time. We were actually really glad that My Hero's brother and fiancee decided to make their wedding date an October day. There's something about fall in Illinois that's warm and's as if harvest time in Illinois is more celebrated than in New England, in spite of our beautiful foliage. I felt it each year we lived there, and again this time during our visit.

5. Picking pumpkins. My in-laws have a pumpkin stand in town, and acres and acres of pumpkins that supply it. My Hero and I volunteered to help pick several's fun work! On Friday, the day before the wedding, we manned the pumpkin stand while my father-in-law built an archway of cornstalks and got the stand ready for the wedding. It was an outdoor wedding held right at the pumpkin stand, with bales of straw as seats for the guests. It was a unique and beautiful setting. The stand was already beautifully decorated with corn stalks and pumpkins, gourds and Indian corn. It was a casual wedding, with the bride and groom in jeans, and since both my brother-in-law and his new wife are artsy, they pulled it off with creativity and class.

6. Friends. Tuesday evening was spent with friends. Two couples our age that we hated to leave when we moved to New England. We spend an evening together each time we visit, and it's so much fun.

Also my dear friend and college roommate lives in Chicago, and we hadn't seen each other in probably four years. We recently were back in touch, and it turns out she lives about a mile away from my sister and brother-in-law. So I got to visit her in her apartment for a little while on Sunday. We could've spent hours catching up, I think. Her life seems so glamorous next to mine sometimes. Living in Chicago. Travelling to the ends of the earth every few years. Single and free. It was fun to enter her world for a few minutes.

7. Something I never anticipated, had no inkling would happen...we brought a kitten home with us. I should've known after my post of a few weeks ago about not owning pets and not wanting to that it would all change on me. The farm has a small colony of barn cats, and my sister-in-law's friend found a stray on his doorstep last week and brought it to live on the farm. The stray was a small kitten who spent the next few days rubbing against our legs whenever we were outside, tripping Green Bean up with his friendliness, mewing pitifully. Wednesday as we were packing to leave I joked to My Hero about bringing the kitten home with us. My Hero responded that if we ever did, this one would be the one. I was shocked that he showed any hint of inclination, and after that my heart tugged me towards making the arrangements. A cat is independent, I told myself. Doesn't cost a lot of money. Some, though...he'll need to be fixed. And he'll need cat food. And a litter box. And shots. And probably worm pills.

What made us decide was his personality. He purrs and cuddles anyone who picks him up. He lets Peanut Butter scoop him up in his non-gentle arms and carry him around. He's super tolerant of rough handling by two small boys, and he's a beautiful little kitty.

We named him Tuttles, and he's ours. He survived the 22 hour car ride home by sleeping in one lap after another, and uses the litter box without fail. To be perfectly honest, he did spend several hours of the night prowling all over the van and mewing loudly, making it hard to fall asleep and waking the boys. But I think over all he handled the trip extremely well for a kitten.


Nina said...

Welcome back! Sounds like a lovely vacation. This is my favorite time of year, so spending time around pumpkins, and harvesty things sounds like a dream vacation for me. I'm curious, how were the temperatures compared to New England?

Guess Who??? said...

I can't believe you took the kitten home!!! Actually, I can sort of. I don't really like cats, but that one IS really adorable. He followed us to the van that night. I waited until I saw him in the headlights before trying to leave the farm.

Marie said...

New England is cold and getting colder. I guess while we were gone they had some nice warm days, too, but Illinois was balmy. And then the last few days we were there the temps dropped, but it's definitely colder here. I think the winters are pretty comparable... Illinois has powerful, cold winds, while New England mostly just has low temperatures. But winter lasts noticibly longer for us here than it does in Illinois.