Home Sweet Home

We got home Friday night, around 7:00. The first thing I did was rush into the house and inhale.

Ahhhh. It smells like us, like my family. A unique blend of sunshine, sweaty heads, Hope Suds laundry detergent and ripening peaches. The air was warm and heavy and familiar.

I smiled.

We had been gone so long – two weeks – that it felt a little like waking up from a dream. “Oh yes, that’s what my cookie jar looks like. Did we always have blinds on that window? I can’t believe there is really that much room between the kitchen table and the stairs.”

Even the kids felt it. "I got so used to Colorado, Mom, that I'm not used to being here anymore," said Connor over Chipotle.

But it didn’t take long for our souls to sink back in.

My acclimation was pushed by the appalling discovery that my bed had been unmade the entire time we were gone. I was beside myself. I make my bed every day, without fail. It’s part of my faux OCD nature. I couldn’t believe my bed had been sitting wrinkled and unkempt for 15 days.

So I promptly made my bed.

Then I pulled down the covers and sank into my own pillow.



We Made It

We made it to Colorado!

And our first-ever road trip went so smoothly -- well, I still don't have words. Dare I say it was even easier than expected? I owe 95% of that success to the Internets. Many of you have shared your road trip tips over the years. I read every single one of those posts and hid away your seeds of wisdom. I would say they bore fruit this past weekend.

Unfortunately, while we made it to Colorado, not all of our fruit did.

RIP funky cantaloupe and fizzy strawberries. I'm sorry to have known thee.

We arrived here at my parent's house in Colorado Springs on Monday. Ironically, the first thing we did when we arrived in town was NOT unload our luggage or greet the grandparents but go to a play date with my sister and Meredith -- one of my first and therefore oldest blogging friends that I hadn't had the pleasure to meet in real life until now. One of the best side effects of blogging is the relationships, a point Meredith proved in spades. Sitting with her under pine trees and the startling blue Colorado sky was like having lunch with a forever friend.

By the way, everyone here in Colorado is moaning about the heat and (cough) the humidity. But back in Minneapolis, the temp is in the 90s and dewpoint is above 80 degrees - more typical of the Persian Gulf than the Land of 10,000 Lakes. We stopped at a rest stop in Iowa on Saturday, and I had to strap on my oxygen tank to breath; there was that much water in the air. So I'm not sweating 87 degrees and 45-degree dewpoint. (That translates into 21% humidity.) (I will pause now for my Texas and Florida friends to laugh hysterical at my Colorado friends.)

This weather geek moment brought to you by Kelly's Nerd Alert. If your friends are passionate about dewpoint, just smile and nod. Let your friendship weather the storm.

Since the time we left Minnesota on Saturday, we have: completely freaked out over a hotel, cruised the 16th Street Mall in Denver, eaten orange chocolate chip gelato at Little Man (cone tip to Gretchen), stopped at Compassion for a short visit, played at Whit's End at Focus on the Family (because it's "too hooooootttt" to play outside) and introduced Kieran to the wonder, the magic that is Chick-fil-A.

And we're only on day four of our 14-day adventure.

Pictures of our escapades coming soon, quite possibly in mini installments.

You've been warned.

Road Tripping

On Saturday, Corey and the kids and I will pack ourselves into the minivan and hit the road. Destination: Colorado. Estimated travel time: Two days, each way.

(Note to any marauding armies reading the blog: Our house is being guarded by a band of ninja monkeys equipped with machetes. And we stocked the pool with a school of piranhas and Charlie Sheen. I wouldn’t advise a take-over.)

We’ve never attempted a road trip of this length before – not in our pre-kid life, certainly not with four kids ages (almost) 10 to one. And maybe I’m na├»ve, but I’m excited about it. Some might say giddy. I even rebuffed Corey’s offer to fly instead of drive – something that made him shake his head with regret and wonder out loud if I was certifiable. (“But I support your decision completely, honey,” he deadpanned.)

Here are five reasons why I’m eager to take Chez Love Well on the road.

1. I’m always a sucker for fresh produce (hello, giant tub of blueberries from Costco, I’m looking at you). But in the summer? My addiction is epic. Thanks to the farmer’s market and the local stands and Trader Joe’s and Costco, I currently have two fridges stuffed with berries and melons and radishes and greens and sugar snap peas and leftover caprese salad and a few random Cajun turkey burgers – none of which will survive our time away. If I drive, I can take that food with me. If I fly, I have to try to get it all in my carry-on. Which is a chore. I’m a fan of the easy. And the food.

2. Corey and I are expert air travelers. We can get through a security line, with all four kids, in less time than it takes some people to take off their shoes. But I’m tired of dealing with all the hassles. Rush to the airport, check the bags, rush through security, wait at the gate, board while smiling at all the fellow passengers throwing you dirty looks. (“I’m so glad our kids are GREAT at air travel,” Corey and I say to each other, loudly and with great cheer.) And then there’s the plane ride itself. “Sit down, yes you have to wear the seat belt, honey she dropped the marker, no we don’t kick the seat in front of you, you have to go to the bathroom again?” Living on our own time table, according to our own rules will be incredibly refreshing. Bonus: No delays that we don’t control. Unless you count Teyla.

3. I like a challenge. And I’m bored. Four kids in a minivan for 16 hours during the hottest part of summer? Bring it.

4. I think it will be good for our kids. I want them to see the country. I want them to realize we are incredibly blessed to be able to fly as much as we do. I want them to learn to explore, to flex their adventurous spirits. I want them to grow the character that’s required to drive through Iowa. I also want them to get better at the License Plate Game, because right now, I rule that one. (Although I do consistently lose at Slug Bug.)

5. I think it will be good for me. I realized, when Corey offered to buy plane tickets to Denver, that I would be disappointed if this much-anticipated road trip didn’t happen. I was puzzled by this, at first. (I think Corey is still befuddled.) But slowly, it started to make sense. Kieran is at that stage where he doesn’t stop exploring; 95% of my time lately is spent rescuing him from dangerous situations and/or searching for my kitchen utensils which he loves to hide all over the house. (Last week, after a three-day hunt, I found my kitchen tongs in Teyla’s closet.) And the other three kids need me to fix them something to eat or break up a fight or “correct an attitude” or get out the paint or read a book to them the other 95% of my time. (I know. But that’s how it feels. Work with me.)

Don’t get me wrong; we are having a fantastic summer. We are swimming and laughing and staying up too late and throwing spur-of-the-moment dance parties and selling homemade lemonade and eating ice cream cones that are bigger than our heads. But the idea of having all the kids strapped into their carseats for two days straight, while I listen to music or talk to Corey or revel in the quiet while everyone sleeps? Priceless. I need the down time, the time to rest and not rush. My soul is thirsty for Sabbath, vacation style.

I realize we’ll still encounter moments of stabbiness. I’m sure we’ll hear a whiny “How much longer?” a few dozen times. And if I know my children, no one will want to watch the same DVD for the entire trip.

But it will be worth it. I’m ready.

And if it gets to be too much, well, that’s why God created ear buds.

My Sleep Philosophy: Whatever Works

Yesterday, Kieran fought his morning nap for an hour. He cried and wailed and pointed to the door and yawned and squirmed and rubbed his eyes and laid down and stood up and chewed on the crib. In the end, he collapsed in my arms and I was able to lay him down for a 45-minute snooze. But he wasn’t really rested when he woke up. He was still cranky and unhappy with life, and he stayed that way the rest of the day.

This morning? He was rubbing his eyes and yawning by 9:30. I took him in his room and sang him a song and laid him in his crib and sat down next to him and rubbed his back (which worked like a charm the last two weeks, for the record). But when he stood up and started crying again, I decided to go for a two-minute drive through the neighborhood.

He was asleep within 30 seconds of me pulling out of the driveway.

And he is now sleeping peacefully in his bed.

Why can the car do what I can’t?*

*You don’t really have to answer that. I don’t care. I’m just happy he’s taking a nap.