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.
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.