Back Again

Well, I did it. Rite of passage, be mine.

Starting early Sunday morning, Ryan, Baby and I drove from north of Dallas to our home of South Bend. We were the lucky ducks who flew down to Texas while Chris, David, Becca and Annie drove. Originally, Ryan and I were going to stay a day later than Chris so we booked a ticket for him to return to the grownup world of limited vacation time, and someone was going to drive back up with me. Our schedule of events changed so there wasn't a reason for me to stay longer, and plans shifted and everyone moved back to California which left a car in Texas and me, my baby and Ryan. Oddly, I was excited about the sixteen hour drive with my main toddler. 

This was going to make to make me a mother. Not just by birth, but by time spent on cruise control crooning Old MacDonald Had a Farm while trying to show Ryan some bladder restraint in spite of his little sibling's best efforts. This was a serious road trip to be added under my mama-belt. And this really was serious because my longest trips behind the wheel normally occur when I decide to go to Meijer or Aldi or some place crazy like that in Mishawaka rather than Martin's in South Bend. Tightens my belt? Yes. Thank you, President Brie at $2.99 and other fattening things I buy. Something to proudly holster under the mama-belt? No. 

I do feel like I need to emphasize that Chris was initially against the idea and then million-checked with me that I felt comfortable driving almost a thousand miles as the solo driver with a toddler and while pregnant. I was. He couldn't change his stubborn wife's mind.

The first half of the trip started out emotional, took a brief turn toward scary, definitely wasn't ladylike and then entered a cycle of monotony. When we left Chris' uncle's, I was super emotional because I always feel unsettled until I'm back with Chris even when my hormones are not influenced by pregnancy. By the time I felt better, I realized that the crazy emotions were actually a good thing during those first couple of hours because they kept me awake. Once they subsided, I could not keep my eyes open for the life of me which lead me to being jolted awake by a highway massage and then the sight of grass ahead of me. Thankfully, no one was on the road at that crazy early hour, I wasn't going super fast, and our guardian angels somehow helped me correct the car without flipping it. I pulled over at the next McDonald's and napped for an hour while Ryan continued to sleep. 

I got back on the road with a McDonald's iced coffee nestled in the cup holder and ready to take on Oklahoma. A few sips and a lot of gulps later, I found myself thinking that my eyes must be yellow and there were miles until the next town. I momentarily forgot about that when I heard an eerie amount of air getting into the car when I had not opened a window. My mischievous mini-man had unlocked the car door and cracked it open on the highway

Door. Bladder. Door. Bladder. Bladder!!! I saw the most plain and most beautiful building with an empty gravel parking lot on the side of the road at the outskirts of the long awaited town. You can guess what happened next.

I'll give you a hint: the whites of my eyes are no longer yellow. 

We continued on our trek with all the doors closed completely. Our schedule went something like this:

- Ryan wakes up from his nap and asks for a drink. After drinking, he throws the straw cup out of my reach. 
- Asks for a snack. Throws snack container out of my reach. 
- Chants for snacks. Eventually I give in. Resort to handing snacks back one at a time. 
- Cow! Sheep! Wow! Neat! (most of the time there were nary a livestock herd to be seen).
- Farm! Ryan's #1 on his Top 4 nursery song line-up pays tribute to Old MacDonald. Sing, Mama, sing, and don't you dare stop.
- I dared to stop. Start handing back toys one at a time. After five minutes or so, each is chucked out of my reach.
- Farm!
- Farm!
- Seriously, I think I added to that farmer's herd for eight hours of the whole trip. Anyone who wants to marry into some ranching money can come visit the Mr. McD from our car ride. 
- Dame! Ryan claps to the ND Victory March because, hey, it's August. 
- Quiet. The toddler who kept putting coins into the mama-jukebox is out.
- Nature calls, I can't answer because who wants to wake up a sleeping baby on a long road trip? 
- I come up with the most brilliant business idea. Build drive-in bathrooms! Perfect for parents with sleeping kids. You can drive in to a room with a clean bathroom, your child continues to sleep and then you are on your way. 
- Fantasize about drive-in bathrooms. 
- Ryan wakes up
- McDonald's trip for the bathroom, diaper change and a courtesy buy of French fries. 
- Restock the front seat with all of the tossed cups, toys, etc.

Repeat for the next six hours. 

Our first day of driving ended the right way with a visit to Camp Patton. They welcomed us in and turned a blind eye to my dress covered in mashed potato handprints from our lunch, Ryan's face glistening from his moisturizing routine of French fry oil (the next thing once coconut oil goes out of style) and his fruit snack hands. Real-life-Grace makes you want to be her real life bestie just like blog-Grace does, Julia is crazy articulate and polite, Sebastian is a jolly giant with the broadest shoulders ever seen on a toddler, and Theo has mastered the content pout perfectly.  Be afraid that it only takes one tank of gas to travel to St. Louis! 
Kids of moms with blogs know how to smile. 
And we got to meet Erika

The next day of driving was much of the same, and we reached out destination of home, sweet home. 

So that was that, and I did it. A thousand miles behind the wheel. Slap a badge on me and then we can fuhgeddaboutit. Unless you revisit this blog post. Then you can read about it again. 
All the toys are in the depths of the backseat

Clapping to the fight song. 

Ryan's reaction every time there was a horse on the McD farm ... even though he always requested that a horse be there