We just got home from the greatest trip ever! The past few days have been a huge whirlwind of activity!
It all started Thursday, which was our 15th wedding anniversary. The last few years we haven't been able to do a whole lot to celebrate it for various reasons so we decided that this year we were going to do something kind of big to make up for it. I mentioned to a friend that I wished that we could leave the kids for a night and go somewhere and she volunteered to take them for the night! We have never left Clarissa before. She's been home for over two and a half years and we've never spent a night away from her. I wasn't sure how she was going to do, but I knew if anyone could handle it, my amazing friend could do it. Clarissa loves her and is comfortable at their house so I had a good feeling that she'd be fine there over night.
Thursday morning started by a trip to the salon and I got 5 inches cut off my hair. Aahhh...it feels better now. Then I came home and we packed the kids up and sent them to my friends house and we were childless for the rest of the night. Yay! :)
We rented a fancy hotel room for the night, which was really fun. We rarely get to do that, so it was a treat. We went out to dinner at a restaurant that we'd never take the kids to and enjoyed some child-free time together. I love my kids to pieces but a night away felt really nice. The kids did great at my friends house. It was kind of relief to see that Clarissa really can be away from us overnight and do just fine. It's been a long road getting her to this point!
Friday morning we got up, enjoyed a yummy breakfast at the hotel and then went and picked up the kids and started leg two of our journey-a family reunion with my family in my home town.
If you've followed my blog at all you know that my hometown and family things are a bit of a touchy subject with me. I love and hate going back to my hometown at times. It's complicated. Therapy did wonders for me in that area of my life though and I handle it better these days. I was really looking forward to this trip.
Shortly after I got married, my mom got remarried so I've had a stepdad and more step siblings than biological siblings for most of my adult life. But since I wasn't raised with the step family we're not close or anything. I rarely see my step siblings anymore. They have their own complicated family situation that I'm not involved in.
But in the past it has kind of made family reunions complicated. Having a reunion with step siblings is weird because I didn't grow up with them and don't even know them very well. My mom and stepdad tried it a few times and it was just kind of awkward for everyone. I like my step siblings just fine, I just don't know them very well. We didn't all grow up together as one big happy family or anything. But having a reunion just with the family I grew up with is weird too. That would exclude my stepdad, who I really do love, he's a good guy and is good to my mom. I don't dislike my step family at all. My family just isn't the same anymore and it's not ever going to be. Things changed when my dad died and that's something that took me a long time to accept. It's all just a complicated situation. It's a touchy subject for me.
Anyway, to make a long story short, my mom does a cousins camp with all of the grandkids every year and this year she decided to make it sort of a reunion and cousins camp together and just the way it worked out the only people who were there were my mom, my two siblings and their families and us. My stepdad was out of town and for their own complicated reasons my step siblings didn't come. For two days we were at my moms house and it was just the family I grew up with, minus my dad of course, for probably the first time since my mom got remarried.
Again, I don't dislike my step family, and this is not any sort of commentary on not liking them or not wanting them around, but spending two days with just the family I grew up with was really awesome. The kids swam and did crafts and played together and the adults hung out and talked and laughed.
And then the BEST thing happened!! Every time we go back to my hometown I drive past the house I grew up in. We moved to that house when I was 4 and my mom sold it when she got remarried. I had my wedding reception in the backyard and I didn't know then that it would be one of the last times that I would ever be in that house. It was a few months later that my mom announced her engagement, she sold the house and everything was different after that.
I LOVED growing up in that house. I loved the neighborhood, I loved the neighbors and I have a million wonderful memories of my childhood in that house. When my mom sold it I was devestated. I think because my dad had only died the year before and all of that was still so fresh for me, seeing all of his things packed up and gone and not really having a place to go back and remember him was really hard for me. Everything happened really fast and it was really hard on me.
So I drive past the old house every time I'm back in town and it makes me a little sad to see someone else living in it. For years I've wished that I could just walk through it one more time.
Yesterday afternoon Shawn and I decided to leave the kids at my moms for a bit and go out to lunch. After lunch I asked Shawn to drive by my house, like I always do. When we turned on to the street Shawn said that if someone was outside he was going to go talk to them and see if they'd let us in. I didn't think that was really going to happen, but we pulled up to the house, and there was a man in the front yard. I told Shawn not to talk to him, I thought it would be weird, but he encouraged me to get out of the car and we said hi to the guy and I told him that I grew up in that house.
And it turns out that the people that own my house are the NICEST people in the whole wide world! He was excited that I was there and introduced me to his wife, who was in the backyard and she gave me a big hug and invited me into the house.
We went in through the back door into the kitchen and it was so emotional for me to be back in my kitchen again. It was such a weird feeling! The house has been completely remodeled. Honestly, it's barely recognizable. The floor plan is the same but the flooring is different, the walls are different, the cabinets and countertops are different...it doesn't really resemble my old house all that much to be honest. Truthfully, I think that was a good thing. The people that own it now obviously love it and have taken great care of it and I think maybe it was healing to me to see that my house had changed and had moved on.
The took us on a tour of the whole house. I got to go in my old bedroom, which was really fun. It's funny because everything seems so smaller than I remembered it. I remembered my bedroom being bigger than it actually is. They've done some nice remodeling work on the house. The backyard is completely unrecognizable, with a big deck and a big shed. I had a good time telling them a few stories about the house, like the time my brother handcuffed himself to the banister and how we used to slide down the basement stairs on sleeping bags when we were little. Oh, I loved growing up in that house. The house may have changed but my memories are still very much in tact.
Afterwards we sat in the backyard and had lemonade with them. They are amazingly nice people and were thrilled to have us visit. They told us to come back any time, and I really am planning on coming back with the kids sometime.
What an amazing, incredible experience that was. It was healing to me. I really needed to go back in that house again. I never thought that would happen. I'm happy that it has changed and that it is being loved and that someone else is making memories there. It was good for me to see that.
So spending the weekend with my family and getting to go back in my old house was all just a gigantic blessing to me. The whole weekend was amazing. My heart was happy.
My mom has a really nice house up in the foothills overlooking the city. She has a gigantic yard that is absolutely beautiful and I love going up there. You can see all the lights from the city at night, the view is incredible. Leaving the crowded suburbs with the fenced yards where were live and going up there where it's open and quiet and uncrowded is really nice. It's peaceful. I loved watching my kids playing in the yard with their cousins. They had a really great time. Last night my amazingly musically talented brother go his ukulele out and played music for us on the back porch while we watched the sun set. It was perfect.
Today we packed up and came home. It was a beautiful day and we spent the four hour trip singing songs at the top of our lungs while we drove. I played DJ with my iPod and the car stereo and it was a super fun trip home. I'm just really grateful for family this weekend. I haven't had this much fun in quite a while. Sometimes I come back from my hometown feeling sad but this time I came back happy. It was good.
Last night I attempted to take some pictures of my kids in my moms yard. I say attempted because it really wasn't all that successful. I wanted to do it because the scenery is so perfect in my moms yard, but stupidly I chose to do it after my kids had been functioning on very little sleep, too much sugar and too much fun with the cousins for a few days and they were really not in the mood for pictures. Clarissa absolutely wouldn't cooperate and I'm so out of practice with my camera that I struggled with the lighting. I've got to start getting my camera out more often again. I'm rusty.
I haven't had time to really go through them much since we really just got home, but here are a few that I played around with. I might come back with more of them later or I really might just scrap them all and do another photo shoot on a day when everyone is more rested and less hyper. Or I might just get them out and look at them every now and then to remind of a truly perfect weekend. :)