Monday, August 27, 2012

Are We There Yet? Can't Go Home Again


Today we were back to the grind of packing and loading.  The process seems to actually get slower the more days we have to do it, but maybe that’s more a function of my dread of it.  I really, really miss having a home base.

We learned that the geode is Iowa’s state rock and on their way out for more Nauvoo, J & R took a little detour and found a dry creek bed just teeming with geodes.  They said their pants almost fell off because their pockets were so loaded with them.  Geode hunting is apparently quite the thriving pastime around here.  By the time we actually left the hotel to go meet them, they had packed up and headed on to Nauvoo.  But our kids were bursting with excitement at the prospect of finding amazing geodes of their very own.  And all for FREEEEE! 
J was beside himself.  His wish, he said, was to find a geode.  And here we were finding dozens.  It was really something to sit back and just watch the kids wander around exclaiming over their finds, demanding someone, anyone to come look at their newest amazing discovery. 
Or it would have been nice to sit back and observe if I didn’t feel so compelled to capture the moment with photography.  But I do.  So I did.  This little episode will probably end up being one of the highlights of the trip, especially for the kids.  We felt pretty thankful for J & R and their sense of adventure.  We probably would not have thought to go looking for dry stream beds.  Even the biggest kid of them all was delighted at this excursion. 
And naturally, he had a hammer.  (Doesn’t everyone take a hammer when they go on a cross country road trip?)  So he put it to good use and thwacked some of those geodes to see what sort of wonders lay hidden inside.  That part was pretty cool, but we had to save the majority of them for Uncle J’s wet saw which would be able to slice them open smoothly.

As we approached the van with our arms and bags and pockets full of geodes, I let out a ginormous groan.  And had to laugh.  It’s  not as if we didn’t already have TOO MUCH STUFF crammed into the van, and here we were adding about 30 pounds of rocks.  Rocks!  But they are wonderful to the kids, so in they went.

At long last, we made it to Nauvoo to learn about how they made bricks back in the day and added the much coveted souvenir brick to our bursting vehicle. 
Next up was the family living center where they teach mini lessons about rope making, candle making, bread baking, etc. and relate them all to families and what we can do to strengthen them.  I hope those analogies did not escape my children.  Because I need all the help I can get with this lovely little family of mine.
After a quick picnic and some ice cream (always a popular decision), we drove over to Carthage to tour the jail where Joseph Smith was martyred.  The jail remains the same as the last time I was here many, many years ago.  But the visitor center and movie and all that is new. 
B made it through the film, barely.  But after the first room of the tour, I opted to take her and her disturbing behavior outside so that the rest of the group could actually hear the narrative.  I remember how moving the story is from the last time I visited.  I wanted that for my girls.  It’s not easy having children whose needs are in direct opposition to one another.  I feel like I always have to choose between them, meeting the needs of one and neglecting another.  Not a fun feeling, but seemingly unavoidable. 
So I spent the tour time wandering the grounds with my little loudmouth, hoping that K and S were listening, and feeling, and experiencing.  Even when I couldn’t be there to share it.  And I found myself feeling rather melancholy. 
I want to go home.  I’m homesick.  I miss having a somewhat regular routine.  I miss my bed.  I miss having a washing machine and a refrigerator and a steady supply of unspoiled milk for sippy cups.  I miss knowing where everything is.  I miss having some peace and quiet, even if it is only for a few minutes a day.  I miss having a comfy place to curl up and cuddle with my little ones.  I miss the feeling that comes with just being home with my family.  It really is my favorite place to be and I miss it terribly.

I want to go home.  I wish this was just the tail end of a regular vacation and we could just dump our stuff all over the hallway and slowly process it and put it away as we enjoyed the comforts of home. 

I want to go home.  But I can’t go home.  Home doesn’t exist for me at the moment.  I know they say that home is where the heart is.  It’s a nice little phrase, but it’s only a shadowy replacement for the real deal.  Home sweet home.  Before I can go home, I have to finish buying it, paint it, fix it, clean it, and do whatever else needs to be done to it before we take delivery of our possessions.  And then I have to unpack everything and find new places for it all and set up a new home, all while cleaning up the mess from a two week road trip and getting the kids ready to start school.  I am actually trying not to think about it too much because it’s so terribly discouraging.  I know that this trip is worth it.  Without question it is worth it.  But I’m tired.  I want to let my kids loose and stop corralling them during sightseeing stops.  I want to rest and relax.  Ironically, I desperately need a vacation . . . from my vacation.

My greatest consolation at the moment, is that we are now headed to a home.  Not my home, but a home that houses extended family.  A home where we get to stay for a whole four blissful nights.  A home that has milk, and a washer, and even a sofa!

Our drive from Carthage to Chicago was blissfully uneventful.  But Shaggy and I really missed K and S and their toddler entertaining skills.  We let them ride with Uncle J and Auntie R and so the tedious job of keeping a confined toddler moderately happy for five hours fell to us.  I think we’ll make the girls ride with us forever more, or at least until B grows up a little.  This time sure gave us a better idea of what a great job they had been doing.  You never know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone, right?  I’m just glad we’ll get them back again once we leave Chicago.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings, because we are sadly not there yet.

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