Arriving home Wednesday night after being gone 10 days was wonderful. We had a great time, but there is nothing like laying in your own bed being lulled to sleep by the familiar sounds of your house settling in for the night. I can not believe how easy it was, overall, to travel that long and far by myself with three kids this age and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Any problems we may have encountered along the way were not "kid related" at all and I was very proud of their behavior and great attitude the entire time. While I do not like making a habit of traveling with a complete family and leaving Dominick behind, the reality is that I am off all summer, and he is our family's provider as he reminded me, so if we want to do things like this more than for a couple of weeks a year I need to be willing to hit the road solo. This was a huge trial run and if we are blessed enough to have my work schedule remain the same over the next several years I can easily see us doing this again.
After the looooonnngg drive the second day we were about an hour from home and the kids were starving so we stopped for dinner in Grand Junction where the boys and I encountered a family of four with 2 younger kids as well. I had my back to their table getting drinks for the kids and when I turned around the mom stopped me and said "You have the most beautiful family! I have been watching your boys with each other and they are very sweet.". I said thanks and we had a nice conversation during which I explained where they were each from, the trip we were just returning from, etc. and she and her husband sat there and shook their heads in amazement as I told them the kids were just finishing up such a long car trip and were still in such great spirits. I laughed when I told them that for our family, this actually was a SHORT trip considering the one we took to bring Kenny home!
Matthew is my little homebody, and the last hour of the drive he talked a lot about what he missed at home, how he enjoys our trips but always loves coming back home and wants to stay home for awhile (Gee, after this summer, imagine that!). I asked him what he liked about our home and he thought for a moment and said "It's where we all live, it just feels like home!". That comment alone did more for me than I can ever tell you. You see, I have always worried that I was not creating a real "home" for my kids. I am not Martha Stewart or Betty Crocker by any stretch of the imagination. While our home is clean (mostly) and neat (at least once a day) it is not put together well, I have absolutely no flair for interior design, or any design for that matter. I can't put colors together, can't see what knick knack junk should go on what shelf, etc. I always wished I had my mom's talent for that stuff, but not only do I not have the gift, if I am being frank I have no interest whatsoever. I cook most evenings, but nothing elaborate and very, very basic meals. I don't bake much as one of my closest friends does...in fact, now that I think about it, her home is perfect and she cooks like a downhome chef! When I walk into her house or others whom I admire for those traits I always wonder if my kids are missing out on something, if I am lacking in areas that would make their lives nicer and our home cozier.
But Matthew's comment made me really recognize that a home doesn't have to be perfect to feel cozy and welcoming. Our bedroom with it's pre-teen feel with pastels everywhere is homey because our kids jump in bed with us and it's where we have read Dr. Seuss a million times or watched and laughed together as one of us plays computer games. Our place feels like home because we have friends over often and their laughter fills the rooms, and it offers space for us to regenerate before we all go out and face the world again. Martha Stewart doesn't live here, Thank Goodness, or she'd surely tear down the crayon drawings from the fridge and replace the Gogurts inside with pate or some other such garbage!! I realized that I have a home to be proud of not because of the designer furnishings or perfectly color coordinated walls and window coverings, but I can be proud of our home because of the love contained within it's walls, because words of kindness are most often shared here rather than anger being spewed. Our busy little lives are based out of this home, and when we return at the end of each day or the end of a trip, a warmth spreads throughout each one of us that we are indeed home, and peace and love reign supreme in at least one place in our lives. Somehow, I am not so sure that for all the beautiful window dressing Martha or Betty could have created this kind of home.
After today, when we work at the Olathe Sweet Corn Festival at a booth for our church and volunteering a couple of hours shucking corn for Habitat for Humanity, we will begin a couple of weeks of calm before school starts the last week of August. No trips out of town, only swim lessons every day and coming home to goof around and relax. We are in desperate need of some down time, and are going to take advantage of it. I actually have a little part of me that is dreading the beginning of school as this summer, hectic as it has been, has been a very special time for all of us and I hate to see it end. Dominick and I both love having this much family time together which is often lost during the school year. I am beyond grateful that I get to spend summers with my kids being home 100% of the time, it is a gift I never expected in life and it means so much to me.
I still have a trip to Denver myself the week after school starts for the annual Gift Show where I will purchase giftware for our cafes in the airports, and then September 10th we go to Denver to meet with the Cleft Team at Children's Hospital with Kenny, so that will be two more overnight trips ahead of us with Denver being 5 hours away. But other than that, life will settle into our school routine and I will no doubt be volunteering in classrooms, and Dominick and I will be back at work with our Cub Scout Pack which I need to begin serious planning for. While I have enjoyed summer so much, fall is my favorite time of year and I am looking forward to it very much. Being a California transplant and never experiencing a real fall, it holds a special place in my heart and I love the turning of the leaves, the cooling temperatures, the slower pace in preparation for winter hibernation. Who knows what is in store for us during the coming months? Whatever it is, I will continue to share with you all until it gets so boring that even I don't want to bother to write about it!