We were gone for 8 days, but it feels like longer. It was a really long 8 days. We went to visit McRuger’s family in the Midwest for a family reunion. First of all, there were a lot of great moments. I loved getting to know my nephews and nieces more, especially now that they are older. They were a HUGE help with Cadet. We had some fun family activities and I got to teach a few folks about felting. And it was wonderful to see Cadet making deeper connections with McRuger’s family.
However, there were a lot of “downsides”. So, McRuger’s parents own a lake (several actually) and a lake house. That sounds mighty glamorous, doesn’t it? Yeah…not so much. The lake house (or unfinished cabin) was lovingly dubbed “the death trap”. In the five years since I was last at “the death trap”, the cabin has remained pretty much the same. It’s like camping, indoors, with LOTS of construction equipment. So, there was a good deal of work we had to do to make sure Cadet didn’t kill himself. Plus, the lake had some sort of oil slick…and smelled like death…so we didn’t get to swim.
There were lots of tension between some of McRuger’s family members. It seemed like every day there was some new issue to be worked out. MIL fighting with BIL. SIL fighting with her husband. It made for some very tense meals. But, McRuger’s family doesn’t just “visit” each other….they live together. Lots of sibling rivalry, a good deal of miscommunication, and just a dash of unresolved issues….I’ll leave it to your imagination how much fun that was.
Toss in 90F heat, 70% humidity, and lots of VERY LARGE bugs and it was just what the doctor ordered…NOT. Oh, and I’m pretty sure that my doctor would not be pleased with the typical diet of McRuger’s family: “juice” (aka Crysta.l Lit.e), sausage, potatoes, bacon, eggs, and a good deal of highly processed cheese. You know how when you eat breakfast and you have toast with your eggs? Yeah…no…they serve pancakes or (more commonly) biscuits and gravy. When it was my turn to make dinner, I made lentil loaf with a green salad…people liked it after they heaped on the salsa and sour cream. Every time I cooked, I made something with a vegetable: sweet potato hash, warm corn salad, or sautéed kale.
How did Cadet do? Well, it was rough for him at various points. He did fantastically during the plane ride out. I was really impressed. He was calm and curious. He got a little fussy toward the end, but it was a 4-hour flight, and he’s not used to sitting down that much. We had packed him his own little “carry on” (a fabric lunch box with treats, new small toys, stickers, and animal flash cards). Cadet loved his “suitcase”, and carried it everywhere.
While we were there, Cadet did pretty well. After the first few days, we had to instruct McRuger’s family about how to read some of Cadet’s cues, but they did pretty well. Sleeping was the main issue. Cadet, who normally sleeping in his own room, wasn’t about to sleep in a strange room. He only wanted to sleep with me. McRuger and I were sleeping on a double-sized bed (we’re bigger people….and it was tight), so I didn’t really have room to accommodate Cadet. In the end, Cadet and I shared the double bed, and McRuger slept on the floor on an old crib mattress. We all suffered from a good deal of sleep deprivation.
However, Cadet got to do lots of new things and learned new words. Some of his favorites were: feeding the donkeys, riding on the pontoon boat, watching the corn wave in the wind, going over the train tracks, and tickling everyone’s chin. He also got lots of time to play and explore with his cousins….they cried when they hugged him goodbye!
The journey home was ROUGH. I mean….ROUGH! Cadet woke at 3:45 the morning of our flight home and refused to go back to sleep. After an hour of trying everything to get him back to sleep, McRuger and I decided to make a mad dash for the airport and try to get an earlier flight home via standby. We literally had 40 minutes to pack, drive (20 minutes), and return our rental car. Thankfully, everything went smoothly (although it was tense)…and we got the last three tickets on the flight. I got to hand it to Virg.in Americ.a….they were amazing to deal with. And on the actual flight, Cadet was a nightmare. I’ve never seen him so dysregulated before. He was exhausted…and so were we. After a good deal of screaming, he finally slept the last hour of the flight.
So, we got home on Thursday morning…and on Friday I was at BlogHer (which is another post).
I’ll leave you with Cadet’s impressions of the trip. When I asked him what we saw in State X…he said: “Corn, big corn”.