This past week I returned from a week long trip to the East Coast or as I like to call it, the Tour de Tri-England (that’s Tri-State and New England combined) with the husband and toddler.  We traveled to three states and five cities. Rather than regaling you with all of the details of the trip, for fear of you falling face first into your keyboard, I thought I would just recall some of the highlights:

Lake house–What could be better than spending a few days at a beautiful home situated right on a lake in Massachusetts? Maybe taking a ride in a boat on said lake. Or, spending long overdue time with your three favorite nieces and brother and sister-in-law. Visiting them and their lake house was the primary reason for the whirlwind tour and it was even more beautiful than imagined.

Concert in Great Barrington–I still can’t believe I made it all the way to Great Barrington but never got to Tanglewood. Before you think me terribly lame, consider an outdoor concert featuring this guy that I DID attend.  Oh, the things we do to put a smile on our children’s faces. He was wonderful and we’re all still singing his songs.

Seeing New England again — It has been so many years since I’ve had the pleasure of seeing beautiful New England. As a child growing up in New Jersey, my family vacationed yearly in New Hampshire and as a young adult, I made it a point to get up to Vermont every summer. What a treat to experience all of this beauty again.

Late-night conversations — I loved staying up late to chat with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and husband in the beautiful living room that opened up to the lake. Even though you couldn’t see the lake at night, it’s serenity was felt. I still have a great picture in my mind of my brother-in-law completely crashing in his chair awakening only briefly and during strategic moments of the conversation to add his two cents. My sister-in-law and I probably could have chatted for several more hours if exhaustion wasn’t banging on our doors after midnight. We even outlasted the teenagers. How often does that happen?

The nieces — I truly have the best nieces in the whole world. When I first met them – shortly after my husband and I began dating – they were 7, 9, and 11. The youngest was still little enough that she’d give you those wonderful full body hugs and ask you to read stories with her. She’s now 14 and in the throes of  her teens.  The other two girls are 16 and 18– the middle starting to drive independently and the oldest about to head off to college. Even though there are many years between myself and them, we have a fabulous time together. Whether it’s playing games, chatting, or just being, it’s so comfortable and easy. It makes me so sad everytime I have to say goodbye to them. They don’t know this, but, they were instrumental in my deciding to have my own children. Whatever fence I had been sitting on for way too long, being with them made me realize just how fabulous having children could be.

Ellie’s adventure — I still can’t get over how wonderful Ellie was on this trip. She embraced each and every new adventure with enthusiasm and joy. We moved 5 times in 7 days and she went from cribs to makeshift beds all in unfamiliar surroundings and slept soundly every night. She also spent many hours in the car with us traversing from New York to Connecticut to Massachusetts – and even an unplanned “shortcut” through the Bronx. She never complained. It was also so gratifying to see her embrace all of her extended family — aunts, uncles, and tons of cousins–six to be exact–five of whom are girls. It never gets old seeing your child having such a good time, testing out her independence, and welcoming new situations and people.

There were, of course, many other great times sandwiched in there too but as promised, I’m not gong to go into all of them. With that said, the realist in me feels compelled to mention some of the not so perfect elements of traveling like a vagabond with a toddler. Actually, some of these have nothing to do with the latter two items.

Weather–Given that it didn’t rain once when we were back East – a record the way things have been going this summer – I should have weather as a higlight. But, I can’t help it. I am a wimp when it comes to hot, steamy and sticky. Having been gone from the East Coast for many years now, it’s easy to glorify summers of past when you’re wearing a coat on a foggy July day in San Francisco, but, being there for a week made me realize how much I don’t really miss hot, sticky, and humid.

Mosquitos – Don’t get me wrong, we HAVE mosquitos in San Francisco. Living so close to water, it would be impossible to escape this. But, they’re different here. They’re about 10 times as big –which makes them easier to spot–and 10 times as slow–which makes them easier to catch. Basically, you can easily remove them before they get to you. These East Coast mosquitos are shifty little buggers. They’re so small and insidious that you can’t even FEEL them biting you. Only until a nice welt surfaces do you realize you’ve been taken.

Plane ride – Ellie did fabulously on the plane on the way out. To give the parents (read: me) some credit, we were armed from head to toe with snacks, books, crayons, Play-doh, drink, and portable DVD player (thanks to Daddy),  all which helped tremendously. The way back was a bit more challenging as she was way off of her schedule by then, tired,  and we were on the plane for six hours. Those last two hours and twenty minutes I started to lose the will to live.  Ellie  jumped up and down on the seats and onto Mommy and Daddy, tried to scale the back of the middle seat to climb into the row behind us, and continually put the arm rest up and down, smacking my arm and leg each time. I seriously had bruises by the end of the flight. Worth it, of course, for the time spent away but challenging nonetheless.  I actually really like traveling with my kid but it’s easy to forget how much you enjoy the travel once you’re four hours into a plane ride with a toddler.

Sleep, or lack thereof — I had a terrible time sleeping on this trip. Part of it had to do with a large amount of stress I had been experiencing before I left, another part had to do with a certain person’s snoring (and I’m not talking about Ellie) and the third part had something to do with sleeping in four different beds in seven days — some a bit too small. My favorite (read: sarcasm) was the full-sized bed with the antique bed frame that creaked with every move you made.  It’s really hard to sleep two adults comfortably in a full-size anything. This was also the same night Ellie slept on a crib mattress and repeatedly rolled off onto the hardwood floor. I kept hearing a *thump* in the night, only to have to scoop Ellie off the floor and lay her back on her sleeping surface.  Poor thing. I always used to associate “rest” with vacation but that was before having kids. The best sleep of all involved two twin beds and a Lake house. Aaaahhh…

 The lowest moment of the trip came with the appearance of the “attack toddler.” Frankly, this really deserves its own post so I may have to save it for another day.

All in all, the trip was awesome and it was great to visit the East Coast extended family. If only we all lived closer. If only the country wasn’t so darn big. It pains me to be so far away and truly believe  it would make life so much sweeter to be nearer–especially for Ellie. But, damn I’m addicted to California life. Maybe someday.


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