I treasure my trips home to Virginia each year. They usually happen just once a year in the context of a holiday, Thanksgiving or Christmas, and we travel by car making it in two days with stops along the way, often visiting with friends in North Carolina. This year the reason for the visit was twofold: to witness the wedding of my longtime best friend of nearly 15 years and to make up for lost time with family.
Our trip up looked quite different from our past two road trips as a family of four. This time I flew alone with two toddlers. Before the trip, I made sure to consult with friends who had completed the same feat (thank you for all the advice!). I probably would not have decided to do it, had I not personally known anyone else who had made it possible. All in all, it wasn’t terrible and considering everything that could have happened, it went pretty smoothly!
I think the biggest rut in the trip was just the fact that I didn’t pay attention to where our layover was on the flight over – too far away, leading to a flight twice as long as necessary. Other than that, no one had a meltdown like I fully expected, no one cried during take off and landing, and there weren’t any terrible delays (we almost had a two hour delay, but it was a false alarm).
There were a few minor mishaps on the way back like Rainer pooping in his diaper after we had already made a bathroom trip with only ten minutes before boarding (this happened twice, lol). And then our gate changed three times in ATL but that was about it. There was normal whining from the kids, and I was pretty squished by Rainer. And they screamed all the way home from the airport at the end, but by that time it was the very end of our trip and I was back with Ross, so it didn’t matter anymore. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. So yes, I flew up with the kids alone and then Ross followed two days later.
The wedding weekend was absolutely beautiful and such a dream. Madison (the bride) and I have known each other since we were 11 and 12 when her family moved next door, and we’ve been best friends ever since. She was the Maid of Honor in my wedding, and it was such a gift to be the Matron of Honor in her’s.
The rehearsal and rehearsal dinner were wonderful. The groom’s family hosted on a family member’s gorgeous lakefront property. It was such a lovely night spending more time with Madison and Ben and meeting more of her close friends from over the years.
The wedding day was a beautiful whirlwind. It was my first time ever being in a bridal party, and it was surreal getting ready in the home that I used to spend so much time in as a child. Ross, my mother, and sisters were such champs taking care of the kids. I was separated from them nearly all day, and they were still adjusting being away from home after so many busy days.
Words can’t describe just how beautiful their wedding day was and how grateful and honored I am to have witnessed it. It brings me such joy to know that she is with such a wonderful man, and it was such a gift to see her so happy.
The reception was a blast, but also quite tricky. The kids (Lúthien, really) were kind of a mess by the end of the day. And poor Ross was trying to make it through the rest of the evening with a splitting headache. Nonetheless, we made the best of it. I was nervous all day about my toast, but Ross helped edit it so that I was able to truly convey what I meant to. And the kids ended up having a blast dancing.
Two days later Ross left us to return home only to leave the next day for a conference in Dallas. Meanwhile, my family and I spent three days at Virginia Beach.
We all had a blast, most especially Rainer and Lúthien. Lúthien loved playing in the sand with my dad, while Rainer was pretty content sitting in his baby pool of ocean water. (Sidenote: I’ve been begging Ross to just take us on a day trip to the beach here, but now I realize how foolish that would be with just two adults. Hah hah! It was really nice having all the extra hands).
While we were in VA beach, we spent the nights visiting with my Naval brother who lives there, I was able to meet up with my sweet friend, Chiara and her adorable 6th month old son, and we brought the kids to the aquarium – which was a huge hit.
weekend at home
The last few days of our visit were spent at home, with my brother, Joseph (who now lives in Raleigh) coming to reunite us all. We all relaxed together and managed to squeeze in an afternoon at the park, lunch out, a cook out at home, Mass together, and a family Cold Stone outing in just a couple days. I even managed to meet up with my dear friend, Corinne right before she left on a weekend trip.
It has been about two weeks since I’ve left now, and I miss my family terribly. In many ways, my 10 day visit was a little vacation for me. There was always someone ready and willing to watch the kids if I needed to meet up with a friend or do something simple like take a shower. I only “cooked” once the whole visit, but it was just to put a big salad together. My first day back at home was a bit of a shock, especially since Ross was home alone sick all weekend and not able to do much. But even aside from the help, I miss having the constant company of my sisters. When I left home for college, my youngest sister was only 10. Now both my sisters are in college and they feel more like my peers. And of course, I miss my parents and my brothers, as well.
Though I love Louisiana and I love our town, my husband’s hometown, I cannot help but feel like I leave of piece of my heart in Virginia or North Carolina every time I visit. Ross feels the same way about both places. But feeling that draw, and recognizing the unique qualities about these places only reminds me that our hearts were made for another truer, more beautiful home.
Anyway, the kids and I are thrilled to be back with Ross. Though we had a wonderful time in Virginia, we missed him greatly in the week we were apart.