Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Auntie Val and the Wild Bunch Hit Chicago

...and only half a day off schedule.  On Monday, we all got up on the wrong side of the bed.  I know this because, when I came down to the breakfast area, to find that my older kids were not eating breakfast, but publicly fighting over internet games on the business-center computer, I blew my stack.  A cowboy-boots-wearing, bald-pated gentleman turned around from his place at the front desk and drawled "Aw, Mama, why do ya hafta be so mean?" More than an hour later, as we were finally loading the car, or rather, I was un-loading the stash-and-dash mess that would not allow the the rear hatch to close, while simultaneously scolding all four kids, while they ignored me and continued insulting each other by arguing about who was truly the ... archaic feminine hygiene product... that is the epithet of choice among the pre-teen set, the same parenting expert drove past in his pick-up, and asked, "Didn't you get them young'uns straightened out yet, Lady?"

Yup.  I think he's already written his letter of recommendation for that Mother of the Year award for me.

So, nearly two hours behind schedule, we began what was supposed to be a 13-hour run to Chicago, with what I had planned to be a "quick" stop at the famous Wall Drug in Wall, SD (most of you know that my maiden name is "Wall", so I just had to at least pick up a bumper sticker). Alas, I had not read-up on the amazing invention they have there, the one that somehow turns 15 minutes into an hour and a half, plus cap-pistols, photo-ops, donuts, and whining.  Silly me.

We loved the Badlands ( I need to read up and try to understand why they are called that.), and it was a delight when we got into western Minnesota,  to finally see the real-life version of the farm pictured in advertising, and immortalized by Fisher-Price: the red barn, silo, white farm house, nestled among trees, with the contented black and white Holsteins grazing on the rolling green hills.  And then  there were more of those, and more of those, and more green pastures, and more green... and... not much else for the entire length of I-90 through the rest of the state. By the time we reached the Wisconsin Dells, it was nearly 11p.m. and I was not fit to drive anymore, so we found a hotel and made a morning start for our destination here in Chicago: the Rogers Park home of my younger brother, Larry, his wife, Lauren, and their almost-3-month-old son, Nolan.  After a a Chicago-style deep-dish pizza lunch, we had little tour of the city, some time on the beach at Lake Michigan, and came back to the apartment to babysit little Nolan for the evening.  (I'm glad my sister-in-law did not witness the lovely parenting scene in Rapid City before she entrusted her precious firstborn to me and the Hedrick Herd.)  Seriously, though, as much as I have loved the scenery on this trip, tonight's quiet evening in, with my kids watching old  80's TV shows on Hulu, and taking turns cuddling their little cousin, singing to him, learning how to warm-up a bottle and change a diaper, was a very, very beautiful sight.  Wherever I may wander... there's no place like home, even if it's someone else's home.  Family is irreplaceable: and that cuts both ways.

Tomorrow, a long-ish haul to Gettysburg, PA.   We'll be listening to Civil War history on the way.  My kids are getting a broad education: from poopy diapers to Pickett's Charge.

1 comment:

  1. Parenting on display -- ugh. I hope that writing about it got it out of your system :) How did the pizza compare to Zachary's version?

    xoxo, Li-Wen