- my favorite pair of olive-green capri pants
- some high-end shampoo and conditioner
- a pair of Calvin's basketball shorts
- a pair of Calvin's swim trunks
- all respect for Mme. GPS (see above)
With the exception of the last item, all of these things can be replaced. And the things that we FOUND on this trip are too many to fit neatly in a column, but they include:
- 8 extra pounds on me --ugh (yes, I'm back on the diet/exercise wagon and will work that off)
- many places that we want to visit again, staying longer, bringing Andre (my husband)
- crater-sized mosquito-bite scars on several kids (apparently, my golden-tan California children are delicious to mosquitoes, and allergic to them as well)
- all kinds of rocks, shells, sticks, books (of course), maps, brochures, hand-me-downs from Cousin Henry, and a variety of souvenirs, including several versions of toy weapons, an assortment of pocket knives, a ball-cap from the New York AIDS Walk (thanks, Seth!) a beany-baby buffalo, a stuffed porcupine, a stuffed Tweety Bird and a stuffed "animal" that is shaped like a slice of watermelon (Thanks, Marc! Who, but you, knew that we needed one of those?)
But we also brought home some wonderful memories of backyards and dinner tables, swimming pools and The Atlantic Ocean, sneaking cookies when nobody's looking, Mount Rushmore, majestic mountains, The Brooklyn Bridge, expansive deserts, The National Air and Space Museum, tracking mud into various houses, The Mississippi River, monumental meltdowns over missing shoes, The Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest, Lake Michigan, and the completely huggable early-morning sight of little people snuggled into cozy nests of blankets, in shared beds, with ends of unruly hair and toes sticking out.
And there were the animals who are still part of dinner table conversations that begin, "Do you remember when Lucas (a wonderful bear of a Newfoundland in Connecticut) wouldn't stop following Rhys around and licking him?" or "It was so funny when Aiko (our golden retriever "cousin" in Chicago) slept on my head." Peachfuzz, 15 pounds of orange/beige angora fluff with marbles for eyes,and a properly New Yorker version of sangfroid, had a commendable patience for kids who followed him around the Brooklyn apartment he calls home. Eowyn and Legolas, our feline friends in Oklahoma, also seemed willing to endure the cluelessly lavish attentions of persistent Hedrick kids without drawing blood. Barnabus, in Baltimore, had my kids in screams of delight with utter golden-retriever-ish spasms of playfulness and Donnie, the 15-year-old Bichon Frise in Spartanburg, seemed completely at home with thundering team of TEN children, rampaging through her house for 24 hours. I guess, when you're used to six kids, what's 4 more?
If I had a dime for every conversation that included, "We need a house with a bigger yard when we get home, so we can have some goats and a horse" (thanks, Kris & Tom, and Tom&Jill )I'd have paid off our trip already. Luke and Leia (the baby goats), and, of course, D'Artagnan, Shadowfax, and Scout, are now counted among the characters in my kids' dreams, if their night-time mumblings are any measure.
My kids also found many, many "boring old adult friends of mom", who turned out to be "totally awesome", in the vernacular of the 4-13-year-old set.
By the end of the trip, Rhys was referring to all of our adult male hosts/friends as "The Uncles" and our adult female hosts/friends as "The Aunts", and any of their various children as "our other cousins." So, I guess it could be argued that what we found on this trip was how large our family has grown. Thanks so much to Uncle Larry, Uncle Brad, Uncle Tom (x3), Uncle Marc, Uncle Seth, "Uncle Mr. Peterson", Uncle John, Uncle Jimmy, Aunt Lauren, Aunt Nat, Aunt Kris, Aunt Martha, Aunt Cathy, Aunt Mildred, Aunt Charlotte, Cousin Susan, and Aunt Jill. It's going to be a bigger family reunion from now on, I guess :-)
Something else I found is that I really would like to keep writing on this blog, for the creative discipline of putting thoughts into words and sharing them. So, feel free to "subscribe" to notification by email of my postings, by putting your email address into the box at the bottom of this page that says, "Follow by email". I've allowed Google AdSense to put an advertisement in the sidebar of this blog, to see if it will generate a little income, but what's in those ads is not in my control. If they get any dumber than what's there now, I will cancel the ad feed, though. ( I KNOW that none of you are "Over 40 and Single, looking for sincere singles" on the internet, for heaven's sake... yuk.).
Til later ! Happy trails.