The challenge - traveling from Birmingham, AL to Racine, WI via air travel (and if you know Birmingham, it isn't direct to anywhere east of the Mississippi - unless Atlanta, Charlotte, Cincinatti or Baltimore qualify) - ALONE with a 2 1/2 year old and 3 1/2 year old - and not losing my sanity.
I will admit, it left me a few times, but only briefly, overall we held it together, and had a WONDERFUL trip.
Really, the boys were fantastic travelers. The most difficult was explaining to Jack why he had to sit in a seat across the aisle from Duke and me and next to some strange lady (she was VERY nice and from Sheboygan, thankful for that!) - since not only are there no direct flights from Birmingham to Milwaukee, but there are no planes with anything but 2 and 2 on the row. I went into it prepared with new seek & find books as well as bag treats to distract at takeoff. Unfortunately, on the way up we got wrapped into a 30 minute tarmac visit before takeoff in Birmingham which meant a lot of cajoling Jack into staying quiet in his seat. But it worked and from Atlanta to Milwaukee, Toy Story 2 ruled the plane and we made it.
The biggest regret of the long weekend? We didn't have enough time to settle in. I want the boys to be able to experience where I grew up, and yet we only had 4 days to get it in. There will be more visits, but I really wanted this trip to sink into them what kind of fun you can have in "Sconsin" as Jack calls it.
We even got an extraordinary opportunity to visit the other side of the family - we can't seem to get organized enough (or have enough vacation time!) to make a trip to Georgia to see the Eades (Patrick, Natalie, Alyssa, Kevin, Hannah & Victoria) but we managed to connect in Wisconsin and meet up at Aunt Rosie's Subway on Hwy 50 to get in a quick visit. (Jack I will remind you someday of this one!)
From that point on off we were, to the Racine Zoo, on the Racine Trolley, to First Friday celebrations, North Beach, our first movie theater to see Toy Story 3 and the culmination of the weekend - Racine's 4th of July Parade - with plenty of family bonding in between.
If I could re-live it I wouldn't change a thing. I would have loved to have taken them to the fireworks - it was a beautiful evening, one meant for sitting quietly and watching the bright bursts of energy over the water. But my little guys are still little and need their sleep. As Jack often tells me "someday..."
Thank you to Josh & Clare for opening up your home to us, I truly can't thank you enough for letting us walk all over your lives. I enjoyed our quiet evenings together, exhausted as I was by that point each day. And to Caroline and Quinn for sharing all your toys without hesitation. Thank you to Charles and Ali for splitting the pizza so we adults could have what we wanted without compromising for the kids and for showing Jack the toy collection Nolan has amassed. That one is still being commented on by said 3 1/2 year old. I am so glad to have finally been able to hold the newest member of the family - Jonah - what a beautiful boy to add to our collection.
And Mom and Dad, I hope you got another glimpse into the lives of the little men that really make mine special. With each visit I hope I'm putting a little of what you gave me into their hearts.
Love you all and miss you already!