Been back actually since Monday afternoon, but still catching up. Last night was my first 8 hour stretch of sleep in the last two weeks or so, pure bliss. Even better was waking up to fresh pancakes cooking in my kitchen, courtesy of Su who came back with us for a week :)
The last trip was wonderful, once again I don't have pics on me at the moment, being at work. Started with a night at Mark/Wendy's farm, finally getting to see where they're living and the garden/rattlesnake/cicada's/etc ... rather magic actually. Douglas arrived asleep, so when he woke up his first reaction was to want to go home ... due to the fighting/whining he'd done the last visit. I have no idea how Wendy stood a week of it, I was about to screech after 15 minutes! They eventually had a bit of fun together, and we wandered off finally at 4pm, only to stop at the yardsale down the road and purchase a bowling ball(!) and a couple other things ... which rattled around in the trunk the rest of the trip. We don't generally bowl, michael's plotting a bird wing thing that involved counterweights, and needed a second bowling ball. Don't ask how bowling balls are part of a bird wing, I don't get it.
We camped one night, then arrived at Grambie's on Sunday afternoon in time to see Dean/Deb Rule and girls, and a couple friends that I haven't seen in years! Grambie looked exhausted after having a houseful of company, but after they took off Monday am we had a nice easy day with Bob Evans and Scrabble. They know her at most Bob Evan's north of Columbus, and she missed the birthday party they had for her at her 'old' one the day before. 89 and still driving, living alone, surviving shingles, and having boatloads of company. Pure delight to see her, she/I are two of a kind in many many ways, and have always had a pretty special relationship. Rather a fierce one actually ... the first time I took Michael there we were dating, and within an hour he was looking a little funny. Found out it was because he was rather intimidated by the relationship he saw, and knew he had a long way to go :)
Followed Columbus with two nights of just family time at Lieber State Recreation Area in Indiana. Nice spot with hardly anyone there, a playground, beach, etc ... nice and relaxing.
Douglas seemed particularly accident prone the whole week with cuts/bruises/bumps, etc., so we used a lot of arnica and talked about guardian angels and how they might work with kids.
Family time was nice, at the same park as last year, near St. Louis. We arrived in time on Thursday to set up camp and then go to the pool to cool off. Friday was lake day, complete with sunburns, water fights, sandy showers, palabra, and very overtired kids (and parents!). So nice to meet Paul finally, the two-year-old boy that my brother and his wife adopted in Ecuador, just before they moved back to Chicago this summer. He was a bit young to do too much playing with the others, but played alongside them nicely. Adorable kid and highly social, I can see him and Douglas getting along well or else fighting/competing a lot, I'm not sure yet. Douglas and Donny (Martha's 4 year old) get along super well, and played for hours in the creekbed next to our campsite.
Almost forgot, I managed to muck up my clean for 2 years driving record with a speeding ticket ... and got a wry 'welcome back' from the state trooper after he looked me up (my last ticket was in illinois also ... grrr). At least they are much cheaper than PA and only nicked me for $75 ... would have been about $175 in PA I think. I still enjoyed driving :)
Had Sunday dinner with Paula's mom and Su and Bethie and various other friends, then tried to marathon back to nyc (16 hrs or so) but wimped out around Breezewood PA and found the cheapest and not-quite-the-scariest hotel to crash in for 5 hours before tearing back to return the car. A delightful trip, but man am I glad to be HOME! Two trips in 3 weeks, with only a week in between, meant a lot of mode switching and I'm glad it's time to settle. Laundry is done so I actually have clean underwear, and I'm not tripping over coolers and boxes in the kitchen too much anymore.
Random fact : China Gourmet, a typical hole-in-the-wall-chinese restaurant, had 16 people behind the counter when I went in for my I'm-going-to-regret-it chicken egg foo young at lunch. That's a LOT of fast food.