Last weekend, Husband, the kids and I packed up and set off for Iowa in celebration of my nieces' and nephew's birthdays. I'm not sure how my brother and his wife did it, but somehow they managed to have three kids exactly two years apart, all born within the same week. It's really a great situation for us: they live pretty far away and the birthday cluster means we can celebrate all three kids' birthdays in one visit. Because while we'd like to visit more often, it really isn't possible. And last weekend really just brought that point home.
My brother's family lives 5 1/2 hours away. It's an easy drive and one both Husband and I know well - one or the other of us (most often Husband, who was at the time Boyfriend) made that drive every other weekend while I was in law school. But 5 1/2 hours when you are single is a lot different than 5 1/2 hours with two kids, a house and two jobs. First of all, it no longer takes only 5 1/2 hours. Now there are bathroom breaks and dinner breaks and stop-kicking-my-seat breaks. And the packing is a lot more labor intensive. We were planning to stay at my brother's house, but since he already has a pretty full house staying with them means bringing air mattresses and sleeping bags and extra blankets and just generally a lot more stuff. Of course, it's way more fun to stay with them, but it makes packing a bit harder.
We had a plan in place to make the trip run smoothly. I (of course) had to work on Friday, so Husband was going to stay home with the kids and get things packed so that we could leave when I got home from work, which would hopefully be early. Unfortunately, Husband got called into work on Friday. And I did not get home from work at a time I would describe as "early" when planning a 5 hour drive. At 6 pm, I was just walking through the door, the kids had not been fed, no packing had been done and Husband was still typing away madly on his laptop. Not a good sign.
Thankfully the kids were troopers and helped me throw a bunch of stuff together while Husband wrapped things up. The kids also staved off hunger for a bit so that we could get on the road and get going before stopping to eat. In the end we drove about halfway to my brother's before we threw in the towel and got a hotel room for the night.
The next morning, of course, we had to get up early to make the rest of the trip. And it went fine. The kids traveled well, and the promise of seeing their cousins in a few short hours was exciting. We had a fantastic visit with my brother and his family, and I so enjoyed seeing my nieces and nephew.
But the next day we had to turn around a go home again. And this time, we had to go all the way home. The kids were good in the car and made up a few new games. Really, the time went quickly. But despite leaving in the very early afternoon on Sunday, we didn't get home until after the kids bedtime. We had to get them to bed, unpack and get all of our stuff - and all of their stuff - ready for the day ahead. Just looking at the mountain of laundry that night, I knew we were in for a rough week.
And a rough week it was. It took most of a week for us to get back on track. Between bring-in items for school, mountains of mail and getting a week and a half worth of clothes clean and back into dressers, it took a while for us to get back into the groove of things. I was never so excited for a "regular" weekend as I was this past one. I never would have thought that a weekend with "just" dance and hockey and gymnastics would seem so free. And I greedily started looking forward to next weekend, when for some reason both gymnastics and hockey were cancelled. That is, I was looking forward to it until Husband casually mentioned that since the kids' sports were cancelled it would be a good weekend to go visit his parents.
He's right, it's a good opportunity. But I'm not sure I'm ready to take on any more traveling just yet!