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Back Home

Well, we’re back, and all in one
piece – though I’d say we had our share of close calls.
There was the lost luggage, which took over twenty-four hours to
find us and which, of course, contained the irreplaceable Pink
Purple Lovin’ Teddy, all the girls’ clothes, all of
Brian’s clothes, and our toiletries. On the up side, American
Airlines bought the girls new pajamas and fleece outfits.

We had our share of meltdowns and freakouts – more on
Cora’s fun with flying later – and of course the
obligatory Nap Skipping In Unfamiliar Surroundings. But Maddie and
Cora found the biggest. Leaf. Pile. Ever. And obviously took it for
a test drive. They reveled in the complimentary hotel breakfast,
where Maddie spied Fruit Loops for the first time and turned to me
wide-eyed and said, “Mommy, look at those beautiful
Cheerios!” We swam in the hotel pool and screamed with
laughter as Daddy pretended to boil himself in the hot tub like a
piece of pasta.

But most of all, the girls had a fabulous
time with their family. Cora christened her Uncle Doug
“Donald the Duck”, and when corrected, usually landed
somewhere near “Uncle the Doug”. His brother Gordon
happened to overhear that, and I have a feeling it might be a
nickname with some sticking power. Both girls were entrance with
their cousin McKenna’s expert balloon animal skills, and keep
asking when they can see her again.

We spent a day exploring the family farm, both during the day and
at night. We hiked through one of the pastures and picked hickory
nuts for bread while some curious cows came around to check us out.
We walked through the sea of fallen leaves up the hill a bit to
where our spring water comes fresh and cold out of the ground, and
the girls tasted pure water right from the source. We peeked into
the old log cabin’s root cellar (Maddie: “Where’s
the light switch?” Uncle the Doug: “There isn’t
one, dear.”) and climbed up to the old sleeping loft. We
explored the horse barn and scrambled up the ladder to the hay
loft, irresistible with its prickly-soft bales of hay and sun
streaming in the barn window. And we explored at night, laying
blankets out on the side lawn and seeing stars more vivid than
anything you can see in the city. A few weeks back, Maddie had
asked if we could ever be outside in the dark with “all the
lights off, so we can see properly”, and this weekend she got
her wish, much to her delight. We even got to poke our heads into
the local theatre, an old gem built by Al Ringling where my
grandmother did many shows.

Top of the list, though, was the time spent with my grandfather.
The girls delighted in their great-granddaddy, and proclaimed him
the “best giant EVER” when he came clomping scarily
around the hall and singing at the top of his lungs. They danced to
his big-band records and tried hard to explain the whole Ariel/Eric
thing. Maddie spied the door leading up to the second floor,
cracked it open, stared at the steps rising up, and whispered to
Cora in awe, “I bet this leads to the magic wardrobe!”
She just might be right.

There’s plenty about the trip I could- and probably will-
complain about. But I know it’s probably one of the last
I’ll make to see my grandfather, and I’m so grateful
for the wonderful time we got to spend with him. As we winged our
way back home, we asked the girls what they loved best about the
trip, expecting something about the pool or sleeping in a hotel.
But Maddie said her favorite parts of the trip were picking hickory
nuts with Grandaddy and hiking with him up to the spring, and Cora
said her favorite time was eating animal crackers on the farm porch
with Grandaddy.

And because I have favorite memories almost exactly like those, I
completely understand.


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