Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Back Home Again

We're home from our 4th of July vacation. We actually arrived home late Monday night, but I suppose I took one extra day to try to get things settled back into place. We spent the holiday weekend at a state park in Kentucky, nestled snugly against a lake, a place where we spent many a weekend with my grandmother while I was growing up, but hadn't been in recent years.

This was Audrey's first trip, one that I anticipated more than she did, I'm sure. She only knew she would be spending the weekend with her Mamaw, Papaw, aunt, uncle, and cousin - and that there was a pool. She heard these facts and quickly decided she was in.

I, on the other hand, couldn't stop thinking of the activities I had enjoyed as a kid and hoped that Audrey would love them, too: the afternoon with Albert Bauman, the pottery guy who is an amazing and unconventional teacher of all ages (yes, that is a car you see in the photo above, and if you look beyond the blue bucket, one of those "utensils" in the cup is a Barbie leg).

Here are our drying mother/daughter pots. Audrey's is in the foreground. (Right now they are sitting on the kitchen island waiting until I get the laundry done and house cleaned up to find a proper home. I'm not sure what they will hold, but sometimes I think that the use isn't nearly as important as how they came to be and where they've been).

The trip to Miss Patti's 1880s Settlement. This place has a bit of everything: amazing food served at Miss Patti's or Bill's Restaurants; a putt-putt course; a wedding chapel; model boat racing; movies played outdoors on Friday and Saturday nights; oh, and animals like peacocks. I just couldn't get over how vibrant this peacock's feathers were (and couldn't help but wonder, would we have believed we could create such vibrant colors if we hadn't seen them in nature first?).

Oh, and Jason and I were the only ones who didn't get the memo. It was family wears stripes night at Patti's.

Each year, a fireworks show is shot from the lake's public beach - showers of light reflected by lake water. Boats crowd the water's surface, adding their own red and blue lights to the show, punctuating the night between firework blasts with the approving sound of honking horns. This year, the show was sponsored by local businesses and performed on the Third rather than the Fourth. We spent a rainy Fourth evening tucked safely under the wooden beams of my parents' hotel room, making our own "fireworks" show of sorts when Mamaw pulled out a package of bendable glowsticks.

It was a full trip: golf for Jason; plenty of swimming, playground time, and hikes for Audrey; and even a few solitary run/walks along the water for me. Some quiet. Some fireworks. Some sunshine. Some rain. And one car full of exhausted riders and dirty laundry for the long drive home. Lots of memories, and a few lessons from our first vacation at the two-and-a-half-year-old stage. Here they are, in no particular order:

Always unpack your luggage the night you get home. Always. Even if it's midnight and you're exhausted. No matter what. Otherwise, your child might find the bag containing the sunscreen before you do, and to a toddler, sunscreen is as good of an artistic medium as any.

Be prepared to decipher old vocabulary words said in new ways in case your observant/absorbent child picks up the language of the locale that you visit. These are a few things we heard on the way home:

"Tah-hyme oww-oot" (time out)
"Dah-dee" (Daddy)
"Nah-howw" (now)

If you bring healthy snacks, you won't feel so bad when the only thing your child wants to eat at each meal is french fries or ice cream.

If your child has determined to only eat ice cream at the evening buffets, watch out for adult men who get overzealous with the ice cream machine handle, causing delays in ice cream production as your child worries over her dessert, which may never come. You may need to shoestring tackle said man in order to get to machine first. Or, reintroduce your child to chocolate cake. (No ice cream-loving gentlemen were harmed in the pursuit of our desserts).

Expect changes. The outdoor park grills that were there every year for 25 years may not be there anymore when you lug out the supplies you brought to make S'mores. Adjust. Find a microwave.

Never try to cut corners to get ready for dinner faster by putting your toddler in an unfamiliar shower with you rather than giving her a bath. Head injuries (as you stand up without looking after wrestling the shampoo from her before she dumps it down the drain) are imminent. (Try to learn this the first time. Not the fifth).

Hope your weekend was full of fireworks, ice cream, good friends, and only funny lessons.

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