There he was. On the deck of a friend’s apartment overlooking the canals of Venice, salt-n-pepper hair swept casually across his forehead. We were so excited to see him, one of us even wet our pants.
It’s true. We were finally reunited with the baby daddy, aka Ben, and no one was happier than me. Don’t get me wrong: I absolutely loved getting loads of time with the kids. Plus, I got to parent my way all day every day and make all the decisions about everything. Not too shabby for this type-A girl. Of course, it’s also just nice to see your beloved after a week apart. And I was equally delighted to toss him the car keys and chill for 3 hours en route to Palm Springs while I listened to the kids watch PJ Masks, Peppa Pig, and Rio on rotation ONCE AGAIN. Some day I really do want to watch Rio with my actual eyes because the soundtrack is the JAM.
Y’all, being at the beach was an utter delight, but Palm Springs has what we really came here for: hot sun. I’m talking in the 90s. Like swim-in-the-pool-for-five-hours-and-not-be-cold kind of hot sun. We ate it up and I wished so much that our five days would turn into fifteen.
Two highlights to share and I’ll get to the super duper trip home.
- We braved a water park. First of all, I’m not sure this is such a good idea when you’re outnumbered and two of your three kids can’t swim nor can they really do any of the water slides. Also, can I just say that if we all think about it for a minute, isn’t it kind of gross to be swimming around in the same water as a bunch of other dirty humans? I don’t know what sort of contagious skin conditions or open flesh wounds these people might have. I also know for a fact that most kids don’t, uh, wipe real well…so baths for ALL the moment we got home. *shudder* But hey, remember how I made some real cool friends back in Santa Barbara? Well, there spring break happened to bring them to Palm Springs too. *swoon* So my new pal Lora came to the water park with her two kiddos by herself (she rocks momming like a boss). You guys would love her. She uses words like “bae” to describe my husband (hysterical) and does stuff like walk straight into the exit of the water park, past the super long line for admission, and tells the staff in her sweet as pie voice, “my kid are already in, so I guess we’ll just go play now.” (so as not to paint her as a thieving bandit, I believe she did pay on the way out). If you’re wondering whether we got together again for pool time and lunch with the kids and so much good conversation, the answer is YES.
- Ben and I also took the kids on a little adventure hike in Morongo Canyon, just on the edge of Joshua Tree National Park. Now. If you’d like to continually consider a slow and painful death by tick, poisonous snake, or mountain lion, but especially by tick, you should definitely do this hike with Junior Ranger Nina. If ever your mind starts to wander toward the beauty of the land, the unique rock formations, or the occasional lizard or bird, she will quickly draw you back into utter and abysmal tick fear. ”Stick to the trail, people! Do NOT touch the bushes! Oh man. The little guys touched those leaves! We’re all gonna die. Maybe not today, but later for sure.” Just a delightful commentary. Of note, we did happen upon a real and very long snake lying straight across the path and I am getting the heebie jeebies just typing that out. All the reasons I can’t live in a desert climate came flooding into my brain. All one reasons: snakes.
Ben and I sat on the patio of our condo until about midnight the night before we left. In shorts and t-shirts. Drinking wine and dreaming about the future while our babes slept hard and still inside. Just, all my favorite things. I did not want it to end.
But end, it did.
Abruptly, in fact, around 4am. Graham was restless all night, thrashing about and whimpering. Ben finally grabbed him from the couch (he found this a novel bed and claimed it for his own every night) and brought him into our bed. He continued to be restless and once he woke up, inconsolable. He cried. He screamed. He wouldn’t talk. When asked what hurt, he kept pointing to his belly. While he didn’t have a fever, my mama intuition told me that we needed to get him checked out before we started the long drive back to Jackson. Around 6am I clumsily got dressed and strapped him in the car, adrenaline pumping as I followed Siri’s direction to the nearest ER. Visions of appendectomies, hospital admissions, and altered travel arrangements quickly filled my thoughts (am I a planner? Yes, why do you ask?). He wailed the whole way…until we pulled into the parking lot of the hospital. I went to unbuckle his car seat and that’s when he first spoke: “Can I have some gum, Mama?”
And so there we sat. On the curb of the ER parking lot. Chewing gum. He chattered and giggled. I stared at him in disbelief, asking him repeatedly if anything hurt and if he was ok. I mean, I wasn’t about to walk in there with him NOW. They would admit me under the diagnosis of Crazy Mommy.
So after a bit we headed back to the condo in order to pack up and head out, all the while keeping a close eye on the little guy to make sure he was truly ok. Finally, just before we departed, this conversation ensued:
- Ben: “Why were you so upset this morning, buddy? What was hurting so much?”
- Graham: “You hurt my feelings when you took me off my bed.”
I have no words.
On that note…two days of travel through rain, sleet, hail, wind, and snow eventually brought us back to both the physical and virtual reality of home sweet home in Jackson. Not before we made our kids participate in obligatory stops at Target, Costco, and REI in Salt Lake City. I’ll let you use your imagination to figure out how all THAT turned out.
My favorite things about this trip:
- “When traveling with littles, vacation is merely relocation” is becoming a thing of the past. My kids are potty-trained and can even go without naps here and there. I loved my babies when they were babies but I’m not gonna lie: I love this stage even more. Bring on all the adventures!
- I’m feeling super empowered about doing the first half of this trip solo. I wasn’t sure how it would go, but it turned out to be such a blast and now I can’t imagine not having those precious memories. I truly cherished the time I had with them all to myself. What a joy to have three young, smart, talented, funny, amazing kids call me Mom. I love those guys like crazy cakes!
This trip has been made possible by the following sponsors:
- Our friend Alycia, who is so smart and kind and thinks of everything and gave my kids a WHOLE BAG of car activities to keep them occupied. We wouldn’t have made it without that.
- Bonnie, Alex, and Amel, who took in a bunch of ragamuffin Wyoming-ites for 3 nights. Poor Amel. We literally “shared” all his toys without his permission and rocked his whole world. What a trooper. We love you guys and are anxiously awaiting an opportunity to return the hospitality in Jackson soon!
- What kind of friends leave town and insist you stay at their house anyway while they are gone? Our pals Mark and Mel. Your generosity is exceeded only by your warm friendship. My kids truly felt like they were at home in yours. Can’t wait to sink my teeth into some Lucca pizza again this summer!
- My dear friend Mindy, who welcomed us in as family on Easter weekend, complete with Easter baskets for my kids (um, yeah, I was going to put those together too, but then she did, so…). She lifted my kids up high as if they were her own just so they could see the trains passing by, introduced me to kindred spirt-type friends, and offered her own daughter to babysit my littles so we could drink margaritas and eat guacamole outside AT NIGHT. You’re like an angel sent from avocado heaven, Mindy. Love you and your whole crew.
- Ray and Jeanette, without whom we could NOT have stayed in Palm Springs. You guys are the bestest of the best. Since we are on the topic, can we go ahead and book next year? 🙂
- Also a shout out to Amy and her crew, some Jackson friends who were ALSO in Palm Springs and came over for dinner! You guys. We literally live in the same neighborhood and joked that apparently we have to leave the state to get together. A life-giving, fun-filled evening. Let’s do it closer to home next time, friends!
- Every single gas station on I-15. Of which there are many. Because I-15 goes on FOREVER.
- Suckers. If I have to explain this to you it’s because you’ve never encountered a child.
- Wine. If I have to explain this to you it’s because you’ve never encountered a parent.
- The swagger wagon. Upon pulling into our driveway, Ben’s only comment was: “Best purchase ever.”
To all you road trippers out there: here’s to crazy adventures with our families. May they be filled with joy, overflowing with laughter, and may they be ever void of even a single dull moment.
Cheers to creating the very best memories together.