Ethan and I made our way up to my parent's lake house last Tuesday, four hours from home, for a vacation that has had all the makings of a disaster so far. Perhaps my first clue should have been that vacation is a generous word for a four hour road trip with a two year old to a house a minimum of forty minutes from civilization; a house that is the definition of child unfriendly, right on down to the marble staircase built just so that no baby gate fits in the entryway. My husband and I went to college an hour away and I was anticipating all of the quality time spent with friends who we never get to see often enough, and some who haven't even gotten to meet Ethan yet, but an hour each way in the car with a two year old seems a lot longer than it does without a two year old, especially one who hates the car. And then throw in the rain, and the dark nights trying to fall asleep to the sound of creaky trees and snapping branches and strange animal sounds that seem like they couldn't possibly be anything short of a starving, gigantic bear. Or Sasquatch. Or Mountain Men. Or someone with some kind of motive that includes breaking into this house and killing me. I know. Maybe I should break out of the suburbs a little more frequently.
Over the weekend, my husband was able to drive up and we spent the night in a hotel closer to downtown Orlando to watch my sister compete in a major dance competition. She came in second and I could sit here and rant and rave how she was robbed, but the truth is, I'm proud of her. She worked hard and in my wildest dreams I couldn't ever imagine standing up there on a stage by myself (or, really, with anyone else) and dancing my heart out to be ranked and studied by a panel of judges (who don't get hip hop, I'm just sayin').
The highlight of Ethan's trip up until today had been visits to a dingy Perkins in the middle of nowhere, the GPS leading us down streets lit only by the stars and moon and the occasional lights of other cars. Something about a small town breakfast-all-day joint makes you feel a little bit at peace, or something, your kid in half-pajamas, half-real clothing after a water bottle spill, laughing and reveling in the fact that this restaurant won't take no for an answer on serving up two chocolate chip cookies with every kids meal. "Two! Cookies!" Ethan laughed in between bites of gooey chocolatey goodness. It made the trip seem a little less disastrous, my child covered in cookie crumbs and giggling to the point of hiccups, my husband there for long enough to break up the monotony of being apart. Which we are again, because he had to leave back home for a few days of work and won't be back for a couple of days.
Today we found a farm in a city we'd never heard of before. On the drive there, Ethan asked if he could feed the baby animals some milk which seemed like a weird request until he was given the opportunity to feed a baby goat with a bottle. The rest of the farm visit was spent seeing (and snuggling) some super cute animals and every last piece of stress and disaster from the past few days sort of melted away. It was the family time I think we all needed to throw us back on track, even in a house that isn't home, even with a kid who insists that two a.m. is a perfectly fine wake-up time because we're on vacation so why shouldn't it be? I hadn't intended to take such time away from blogging but sometimes life has other plans. And chaos ensues. And my laptop has giant cracks in the screen so I can only see a good sixty percent of what I'm even typing, so there's that. But bear with me because I'm finding my groove and, provided temporary rural living and doesn't kill me, I'll be back to some variation of normal soon.