Monday, September 06, 2010

So long, sweet Summer.

Tonight Matt and I are enjoying a quiet evening watching college football while the boys are tucked snugly in their beds. We're all a bit tired from our last road trip of the summer: Labor Day weekend in Atlanta visiting Ashley and Donnie as well as Mimi and Grandpa who traveled up from Florida. This indeed has been the summer of the road trip. The four of us have covered just shy of 6000 miles on the road.

Our longest trip was our four-week, 14-state, 4000-mile adventure in June and July. We made stops in Kentucky to visit with Grandma, Nana, Sarah and Dan; Wisconsin to see good friends from Durham, most of whom no longer live here; Louisiana to spend time with both our Lantrip and Walsh extended families; and Georgia to stay with Ashley as we made our final trek home. As we prepared for this trip in early June, I was rather anxious. While looking forward to fun times with family and friends, I also fretted about the hours on the road plus just being away from home for four weeks with two young kids. While the trip wasn't without its tough moments (e.g., the time I cried as I repacked our suitcase in Louisiana for the umpteenth time, not because I was sad to be leaving, but because I was so weary of organizing all those clothes!), it was overwhelmingly wonderful. And we were blessed with incredible traveling mercies, chiefly no illness or car trouble, AND two great sleepers.

As I write this, I'm tempted to recount our adventures in more detail, but honestly what I think about most right now is what we learned more generally about our boys on the trip. To say they were troopers is an understatement.

Tobin is at a wonderfully fun age when we finally don't have to micromanage his sleep schedule; the world will not end if he misses a nap or goes to bed late. He also is increasingly independent, and once familiar with a situation or people, he is up for just about anything. And it's just fine if Mom and Dad aren't there. So it was great to watch him playing for hours alongside his friends in the lake in Wisconsin or following my younger cousins around in Louisiana just to see what they were up to. He also developed quite an affinity for games, especially UNO. Matt, Tobin and I still play a game or two almost every night as part of his bedtime routine. He's quite competitive and hilarious in the heat of the battle, which is no surprise. Our firstborn is growing up so fast, and though it catches me off guard sometimes, I just marvel at how delightful it is to watch him mature and to get to know the fabulous individual he is.

Of course, our trip was a big deal for Evan too, especially since he celebrated his first birthday on the road. What struck me most about Evan is what a secure little guy he is. He was so adaptable and would actually reach for people who reached for him, even if he hardly knew them. (I seem to remember Tobin having considerably more stranger and separation anxiety at his age.) And that, in turn, was significant for Matt and me, because it made us feel more comfortable about everything. I even spent my first night away from him when Matt and I celebrated our anniversary on an overnight date while the boys stayed with my family in Louisiana. He also surprised me by sleeping really well throughout the trip. I expected his sleep to be unsettled, and it was occasionally, but for the most part he maintained his schedule without much effort. I am certainly guilty of getting bogged down in the minutia of his day-to-day care, and our travels this summer helped me see Evan as simply a happy, confident baby. I think that has made a world of difference since returning home, giving me a renewed appreciation for how doubly blessed I am to have two pleasant, sweet children. I couldn't be prouder or more grateful.

The balance of our summer was spent mainly at home, except for another week in Kentucky and our most recent Labor Day trip. Our weeks at home were especially sweet since Matt was home with us. And there we were, the four of us, just doing the routine, everyday stuff but enjoying it so much because we were doing it together. With Matt's return to work three weeks ago, we have settled into a new routine that is comfortable in its own way but I do miss our summer togetherness. But there's always next summer to look forward to, and who knows the adventures it holds?

And speaking of adventures, there's another one about to begin this week when a certain four-year-old starts pre-K . . .

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