Sunday, July 06, 2008

our amazing trip day 10 (and days 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 & 16)

We left my father's house at 1:15 PM today and I was feeling sad as we drove away. It was great to be in Massachusetts again and it was wonderful to see everyone that we were able to see. But six days wasn't nearly long enough to do all the things we wanted to do.

Cape Cod? Nope.

Nantucket? Nope.

Martha's Vineyard? Nope.

Indulge on lobster? Nope.

See my numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins? Nope. Nope. Nope.

We did, however, eat large quantities of ice cream and having two hot fudge sundaes in less than a week from Kimball's almost completely eradicates all of the short falls from our trip.

And since we are considering flying back to Massachusetts at Christmas for two weeks, we should have ample time to get together with those that we missed this time around.

During this trip, we spent almost an entire week with my father (and his new friend, Mary) and had the opportunity to see my mother who was in town for a few days - my sister Beth, my sister Janet, my sister Eileen (who was visiting from Michigan) and my brothers Wally and Frank. We were able to have a combo party for my mother in honor of her 75th birthday and Henry in honor of his 1st.

And my mother was able to pose for a picture with 8 of her 20 grandchildren.

We had dinner on two separate occasions with my sister Beth and her family.

We spent a day in Boston with my dad's younger sister, Peggy...

And soaked in the views from Aunt Peggy's awesome condominium that overlooks the Museum of Science and the Charles River locks. Oh, the memories I have of going through those very locks and waving at all the cars who were stopped when the bridge went up so our boat could pass beneath...

We saw baby ducklings in the Boston Public Garden...

And saved children from falling in.

We attended a small town Independence Day celebration and listened to a symphony that played a mean 1812 Overture.

We spent the Fourth of July with my brother Wally and his family at their lake front house watching fireworks, while their twin boys - who are nine months to the day younger than our triplets ... and my godson, who is five weeks older than Henry ... rolled around and played together.

(Henry, the same child who in the past week, has discovered that when he screams, he gets a reaction from us and has taken to screaming louder than any child I've ever heard scream in MY ENTIRE LIFE. To the point that Charlie is considering dropping me off at an airport and having me fly home with this child that may SHATTER the windows in our car if he keeps it up.)

We got to spend a day at the 228-year old farmhouse that my sister Janet's husband grew up in. My sister, who shares my love of organization and decoration, has completely restored their home to "vintage" 1700's style.

It is reminiscent of the homes in Old Sturbridge Village, with meticulous attention paid to every minute detail. The barn - which houses the sheep that they sheer every year for wool (which my sister then spins on a wheel to make yarn for knitting - no kidding, isn't that great?!) has a basketball court in what was once the hay loft.

We spent an evening with my brother Frank and his family, and we laughed until our cheeks hurt watching the kids play "popcorn" on the trampoline with their big cousins.

We also got to experience some of the family politics that seem to always exist, and I was reminded of how I never get knots in my stomach like I do when I'm back in New England and really, life is too damn short to get hung up on who said what to who and why that was enough to never speak to them again.

Why can't everybody just be respectful of each other?

Do they not realize that life is a lot more fun when you are at peace?

I really think people need to stop taking themselves and everyone around them so seriously. Maybe they need to eat more hot fudge sundaes at Kimball's.

Or spend some time walking around the beautiful and historic city of Boston...

Or plant a garden...

Or find the simple joy in swinging at the park...

Or shooting some hoops...

Or going for a ride on a swan boat...

Or going for a spin in a 1914 Model-T...

Or feeding some sheep...

Or taking a leisurely stroll across the Old North Bridge and basking in the serenity of this place.

What's funny is that despite the family tension, I could really see moving back to Massachusetts. I've always felt like I wanted to be closer to my large family - but have yet to find a way to get back.

I love the trees - the landscape - the historic feel of the whole area (this is the church where we were married 14 years ago, a month from today.)

I really want for our children to know their relatives - and for our relatives to know our children.

People tell me that I'm crazy to consider leaving California because life is so much easier on the west coast. But, I feel much the same way about living in New England as I do about taking a 6,500-mile road trip with four children under four. Sure, there may be difficult or chaotic times. But the good times far outweigh the bad, time passes, and the memories we are creating during that time are priceless.

Besides, there is a BIG draw about living in a place that has the best ice cream (and hot fudge) in the world.

Tonight, for the first time on this road trip, we are planning to pull an all nighter. Our goal is to arrive in Greenville, South Carolina (150 miles off our route) by tomorrow morning so that we can celebrate my mom's 75th birthday with her. (Shhh. It's a surprise. She isn't expecting us until tomorrow night, if at all.) Charlie and I are taking turns driving - each will drive for two hours, and then we'll stop and switch while one sleeps and the other pounds large quantities of Mountain Dew and chocolate covered Altoids.

We just made a stop in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania where we washed everyone's faces and changed the children in to diapers and pajamas.

Thus far today, we've passed through Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia and have just entered Virginia. We have traveled 550 miles in 12 hours.

We have 416 miles to go.


  1. First off - LOVE your dad's red, white, and blue pants! They so ROCK!

    Second- You are totally right about realizing that life is a lot more fun when you are at peace!

    and Third- I so want to play on the basketball court!

    Have a great rest of your trip! Can't wait to see you guys when you get back!

  2. So good to get a update from you. I was starting to worry. Glad you are having a wonderful time w/ family. You are going to be so glad you made the time to do this trip. Everyone looks like they are enjoying your babies. Happy birthday to Henry.

    You two drive safe.

    Deana from Cali

  3. Courtney in Israel7/7/08, 5:14 AM

    I'll be visiting my MIL in Concord in just five days - and I can't wait to take my baby boy (9 months) there for his second time. Poor boy, he's too young for Kimball's. :)

    Safe travels.

  4. I hope that your all night drive went well - I bet that the surprise will TOTALLY be worth it!

    It looks like a great time. And now I totally want a hot fudge sundae. Am I put off by the fact that it's only 7 am? Oh no, I am not. Too bad there isn't a Kimball's in KS!

  5. Sounds like you guys are having a wonderful time! I deff. couldnt do all that with my kids!!

    Oh and are you going to do a post on Henry like you do every month??

  6. This trip looks fabulous. That barn with the basketball hoop seriously makes my knees weak - it's so nostalgic and beautiful. And the historic house...Wow.

    What fabulous pictures and memories.

    I experienced the family politics earlier this year. Truly, there are no knots like the visiting home knots. :)

    Wish we could have coordinated a stop for you in the DC area...I'd love to get our kids together. (My 1yo is a screamer, too. Maybe they could have a scream fest together?)

  7. I had a smile on my face the whole time I was reading this. I am SO GLAD you took this trip. You will remember it for the rest of your life.

    If Austin's MRI comes back okay today, I'm almost certain that we are going to drive (only 4000 miles) to Illinois and Northern Michigan to spend the rest of the summer with friends and family.

    I'm so glad that you are having the time of your life, despite all the super fun family tension. The joys of a big family. May our children all get along with each other someday.

    Can't wait to hear how the all-nighter goes!

  8. Kimballs is a big draw...Carlisle or Westford? I always go to Carlisle. I love getting a kiddie cone. :)

  9. OMG YOURE IN VIRGINIA!!! OMG OMG OMG OMG!!! tell me where jen!! TELL ME WHERE!!! Let me come meet up with you, even if it's in some skanky rest stop... I'll buy you some more mountain dew and altoids!!!

    DANG IT ALL!!! I'll even wear my keens!! :)

  10. Jennifer PA7/7/08, 9:24 AM

    Good morning! Thank you so much for the updates and beautiful pictures. It's so fun to go on a virtual cross-country road trip with you! Have a blast at the surprise birthday party today!

  11. I am so loving your trip. I have been some of these places when I dated a guy in Boston, and I really know what you mean about how historic and wonderful Boston is. I have also been to New York, Connecticut, Maine, and etc. all the way down through Virginia, West Virginia, and through DC ... such beautiful land and great architecture. I love it. Thanks for sharing. I am eating it up.
    Also, if you don't mind, I need some extra wide blog coverage because I am helping a friend find her missing sister. So I hope you don't mind me mentioning this in your comment section: My friend lived in Cambodia as a child and lost her baby sister in 1975 during a flat tire change in front of a coca cola silo as they were fleeing the Khmer Rouge War. Her story is on my blog today if anyone knows anyone from Cambodia. They are hoping for a happy reunion.


  12. I have loved reading about your trip. Your kids will have so many memories from this trip. I have been praying for safe travels for you all. Keep up the posting it is a blast to read.

  13. You rock!

    We love you!!!!!

    Photos from London are coming soon!


    P.S. David was a screamer on car trips as well, but now he is a mellow teenager. Go figure. Try ear plugs and lullabies.

  14. One of many cuzzins'7/7/08, 11:22 PM

    Hey Vagabond Family!

    I mapquested directions to your Dad's House and Kimball's in Carlisle AND Westford. I was ready to go...but just couldn't get a hold of you. I was frustrated with that game of telephone tag we played. Oh well...Christmas will be here soon and hopefully I'll see you all then.

    The pictures are great! I'm glad you had such a good time and got to see almost your entire family. You are so, so right about the tension... it does get to be a bit much.

    I hope you made it for my Godmutha's birthday...75! Wowee - who whould ever guess she is THAT OLD!! She looks and does great for her age.

    Sorry we didn't connect....glad to see the kids can still squeeze into their Red Sox attire. I think maybe the girls need new dresses? I'll work on it!

    Have a safe return to the West coast.

  15. looks like you guys are having lots of fun and creating great memories.

    good luck on the ride home.

  16. Even though you're long gone, "hello from Virginia and so glad you're driving through my state." Looks like you are having a wonderful trip despite all the things you've "missed". I hope your travels home are safe. I drove 900 miles last week with a 7 year old, a 4 1/2 year old, 19 month old triplet girls and my parents all in one van. That was bad enough. Any longer I would've died. I'm still amazed as to how far you're going and have gone!

  17. It sounds like despite the knots in the stomach that you are having a great time. I wish I had known you would be coming through pennsylvania- 1.5 hours farther down and you would have been in my back yard. Continue to have a great time...