Sunday, August 28, 2016

Day 5 - 8/26 - Mountville, PA to Old Greenwich, CT

Today was the last leg of the journey. I got up and ran with Kona in the hilly, humid, hot weather. It rained during the night so the humidity was way up and there was dew everywhere.

I ran up to a high point to look out over rural PA. It was absolutely gorgeous.

Looking to the SSW

Kona, trying to figure out why we were taking an unusual break in our run
Just running down the back roads. Carefully.
Everyone is ready for their own beds. E didn't sleep great and I was up in the night with a teething J. E was delighted this morning to see that the tooth fairy had come. He met me at the bottom of the stairs with a handful of quarters. "Mom, you will never guess what?! The tooth fairy left me FOUR pennies (read quarters)!" He ran around all day with a pocket full of quarters and peppermints. We could hear him coming.

We left Trish's and headed for Old Greenwich.We stopped at a gas station to make a quick lunch, feed JJ, and let Kona out. It was literally fuel only. The boys were less than impressed with the bathroom facilities.

Back on the road, were headed to the Tappan Zee Bridge and Old Greenwich. Getting close. The big boys were very excited and were singing "Old Greenwich, Old Greenwich" over and over again. We looked at all the new things out the windows including the bridges, the bridge construction, the boats, the water, and all the traffic.

We got into town a couple of hours earlier than we thought and ended up getting there before the movers were finished. The next few hours were a whirlwind with people in and out and excited "welcomes".

We discovered that the moving company, Mayflower, contracts crews at either end of the travel to load and unload the truck. The Lincoln crew was great, very careful. The Old Greenwich crew, maybe not so much. They also managed to unload everything we own (well, the 2/3 of our stuff that made it) onto the main floor. There was a total of 1 box upstairs labelled "Garage". They put the washer and dryer in the middle of the living room floor. There were boxes marked "fragile" that were crushed under other boxes, the glass in my great grandmother's china hutch doors was shattered on one side and numerous other items broken. They even left the broken glass from the hutch on our front walkway.

Sigh. The stuff is just stuff, it is all replaceable (or unnecessary) but it did make for a lot of work for Patrick to rearrange and carry absolutely everything to the right location. When the rest of the boxes and furniture arrives (you know, essentials like our silverware, clothing, the bolts to J's crib, and ALL the kitchen paraphernalia) we will make sure to help the movers with some instructions. Wink wink.

Highlights of the day included the kindness of the people waiting for us on this end. Betsy, Pam, Jan, Steve, Richard, Craig, and everyone who helped to pitch in to get the house ready for us. Some key things that they had waiting for us were laundry detergent (especially important since we are living out of our suitcases for a week longer than we had planned), staple grocery items, paper towels, paper plates and napkins, plastic eating utensils, and dinner from Betsy on that first night. (That vegan tart you made was AMAZING! Thank you.)

After having help from Jan (thank you so much) with the boys bed set up and getting bedding located we were all out like lights. It was quite a long, exciting day.

So glad to have arrived safe and sound. More on the next few days and our adventures in Connecticut to come. And once my kitchen returns to functional, more recipes. Yay!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Day 4 - 8/25 - Youngstown, OH to Mountville, PA

Today we drove through the hilly, winding countryside of Pennsylvania. It was beautiful.
Into Pennsylvania
I gave E and M children's Dramamine and took a dose of Bonine myself as a preventative measure. I don't have a great track record with drives of that sort. Everyone did just fine, although we may need to have the breaks on the van looked at.

We got up and had breakfast at the hotel and loaded up in the car for a 280 mile day.Yet again, more construction, tis the season I suppose. The boys didn't get any screen time today due to the issues yesterday. Lots of snacks, a pit stop for lunch, stickers, and an Etch-A-Sketch seemed to keep everyone entertained. Patrick had been telling E about some tunnels that he remembered driving through as a kid. Patrick's family traveled East to see family periodically and that was something he liked. The moment we crossed into PA (first thing in the morning) E said,  "where are the tunnels?" Ahhh, so literal.

When we got to the Pennsylvania border, I said to the Micah, "welcome to The State of Independence. This is your state." Micah said, "nooooooooo, I don't like that." Of course he didn't. Sigh.

The big news today was, about 10 minutes from our destination, E said, "I just wiggled my tooth out." He said it perfectly matter-of-factually, which if you know E, is a miracle. I crawled to the back of the van to retrieve the tooth and put it in a baggie donated by Aunt Trish upon arrival.

First lost tooth!
We got unloaded and walked to the neighborhood park to play for a few minutes. The boys got hot quickly and we headed back to Trish's house for a drink of water and a little dinner. Dinner was delicious - all of our favorites. She had yogurt, hummus, fruit, and Triscuits for the boys and loads of veggies and wraps for Patrick and I. So good. She had some great trail mix that I hadn't had that included dried pineapple and peanut butter chips. Yum! I have to admit, I rarely meet a trail mix that I don't like.

The boys discovered the game room in the basement and E played pinball game after pinball game while M watched, mesmerized.

Patrick had also bought a small Connect 4 travel game but the boys weren't interested in playing. They did enjoy making patterns with the chips and throwing the pieces all over.

E with Max and Kona.

Pinball at Aunt Trish's. They thought that was soooo cool.

Jonah was a fussy, teething mess most of the evening but he did eat a whole container of bananas at dinner time. This is also a small miracle as he has not been all that interested in anything but milk.

Mmmmm. Bananas.

E and J playing at Trish's house.
E and M and Trish
Just what the big boys needed after a long 4 days in the car.
E had lots of fun running and playing and wrestling.     
Tomorrow it is on to Connecticut. Here is hoping all goes well with the movers and we get settled into our temporary space. 

Wednesday 8/24 - Valparaiso, IN to Youngstown, OH

Tree at Mary and Jamey's
Wow. Long freaking day. Everyone did pretty well until just before dinner time when the wheels came off, metaphorically.

I was up early and took Kona out to run. She's been as cooped up as the rest of us and it is hard for me to get her out without waking up the boys. I took this opportunity to get a few miles in with her. We ran through rural Indiana, which happens to look quite similar to parts of eastern Nebraska.

Corn Fields - right at home


We packed up and left Mary and Jamey's about 9:15a. It was a rainy morning but nothing too severe. We drove all morning and time warped into Eastern Standard Time about 1030/1130 am. More construction and the state patrol seemed to be out in full force.

We stopped for lunch at a rest area and the boys ate while I fed Jonah.

Lunch at the rest area, Hunkered down behind the wall due to wind.
We were back on the road with a cookie monster DVD as a special treat. The boys also had new little race cars. One was a Mario cart and one was a Luigi cart. M asked to trade back and forth with E so many times I lost count (or maybe I lost my mind or was it my patience? Anywho...)

I looked back at E at one point and did a double take. I asked him, "is your loose tooth still in your mouth?!" He nodded and showed me. It was just so loose and pulled back that I couldn't see it. Yikes. In the meantime, J has two bottom front teeth that are trying to make an appearance. Nothing like traversing the country with all sorts of dentition excitement.

I also managed to pick up M's dropped items, J's dropped items, fix the DVD player behind my seat, and hand back snack cups over 12,623 times. I lost count after that. I have scrapes on both arms from reaching into all of the crevices of the van behind my seat and a "rope" burn on my neck where my seat belt rubbed from turning around so many times. Patrick is our driver. I've offered, but really, I think he doesn't want to be in the shotgun position, or he couldn't hack it. Wink wink.

M reading Vegetarian Times - a rare smile from him today

At one point, I looked up at the sun visor in the van and noticed that Patrick's St Christopher medallion was clipped up there. After a little researching, I read that it is unclear whether Christopher actually existed. Christopher means "Christ-bearer" and it unknown if the name was based on a specific person or was a general title. The most famous story, tells that he carried a child, whom  he did not know, across a river. The child revealed himself as Christ and because of this, he is the patron saint of travelers.
St Christopher Medal

We let the boys watch an extra half of a DVD (the are currently digging the Snail Racing (not sure that is what it is actually called). It is a catch 22 though. It buys us a bit of time while we are in the car but their behavior following the screen time is unbearable. They lost the privilege of movie time tomorrow, Thursday. Does this happen to anyone else? They don't really get to watch much at home but we do notice the pattern there as well.

We tried to watch a bit of toy story but it was "too scary".
This problem mostly manifested at dinner. Everyone was tired and grumpy and hungry. I had been looking forward to eating at a vegan restaurant in Boardman, OH called The Flaming Ice Cube. We went in and J was fussy, E and M were grumpy and antsy from being in the car and Patrick and I were alternating on running low on patience for whining, arguing, and not so great choices related to behavior.

On the bathroom bulletin board at The Flaming Ice Cube
The cafe/shop was great. Smoothies, coffee, salads, bowls, soups, burgers, sandwiches... all vegan. The other half of the store was a knitting shop. I would have loved to look around but that was just not going to happen. If we go back through that way, I would definitely stop again. This particular dining experience was not one of our more enjoyable ones as people with tired little kids can relate to.
The other side of the restaurant

We took the boys back to the hotel to get settled. I am fairly certain that we didn't hear a word out of M that wasn't whinny or screechy from 6:00p on. I blew bubbles in the parking lot to burn off some steam until M had a final meltdown and it was just time to be done with the day.

This was the longest day at 365 miles. We drove from 9:15a-6p with the 45 minute stop for lunch and short bathroom breaks between.

Tomorrow is supposed to be 4 hrs and 40 minutes of drive time. We will see, I suppose.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Tuesday 8/23 - Davenport IA to Valparaiso, IN

Today was a shorter distance day but we spent about the same amount of time in the car. Traffic in the Chicago area was at a standstill due to an accident ahead of us. Combined with road construction through Illinois, we spent a lot of time creeping along. I kept thinking, "it's 1:45 in the afternoon, why are these people not at work?" And then I'd remember that the gazillions of truck drivers around us were at work. Ha.
M and his waffles.
We started the day off a little rough when the level of the Tetris game got harder. Patrick was trying to repack the van so that Kona (our 10 year old Brittany pup) could ride in her kennel. This proved more difficult and combined with smacking his head on the hatch door of the van twice, resulted in frustration and growling. Jonah spit up all the way down my back and then again on both of us before we left the hotel room but, of course, after the suitcases were already loaded. 

The boys did well today. M managed the typical 3 year old melt down after lunch. I asked what color pumpkin (Collins boys speak for candy) he wanted. He replied pink but when I unwrapped the pink salt water taffy and handed it to him he melted into a complete puddle of hysterical goo because it wasn't white? Ummmm.

We left Davenport about 9:30a and got in to Valparaiso, IN about 3:15p. That was approximately 200 miles with a picnic lunch stop. Those stops aren't speedy. By the time I nurse Jonah and make lunch for the other boys, it's a good 45 minutes to an hour. Patrick is very patient with this, thankfully. 

The boys were so glad to be out of the car and running around in Indiana. We stayed with Patrick's Uncle Jamey and Aunt Mary. His cousin, Abbey, was home as well. She is studying for her OT licensure exam and it was great to see them.
Jonah was very content with Abbey. She was so good with all of the boys.

We swam, played ball, and the boys got to ride in Austin's "monster truck".

E and M getting a ride in Austin's "monster truck"
Mary and Abbey put together an amazing chopped salad with fresh veggies and a basil lime vinaigrette, giant delicious chunks of great watermelon and grilled asparagus, brussels sprouts, and corn on the cob. We stayed outside until the mosquitoes drove us indoors but it was so nice to let the boys run around for a few hours.

M getting dried off. This is a kid who does NOT like wet swim trunks.

M and mom drying off after swimming
Mary and Abbey made the two big boys a bed out of the big couch downstairs.  The boys loved it and slept great. There was a clock that chimed every half hour and after the first chime, E came into the bathroom to find me. He was bleary eyed and said, "what IS that? It is not beautiful music." Ahaha. Patrick put the clock away so that it wouldn't wake them up.

Camping out in the Ford's basement with the GIANT bear.

Mary and Jamey definitely get the most comfortable bed award! I am now sold on a king sized bed with a pillow top. I told Patrick, "I could barely even tell that you were in bed! No offense... love you." It was great, or it might have had something to do with the fact that I wasn't sharing a bed with a flopping 5 year old? Either way, a good night's sleep was had by everyone.

The agenda for tomorrow, Wednesday, is to get to Youngstown, Ohio. It will be the longest day in the car at about 365 miles.  Cross your fingers that everyone stays happy.

J having a bath (actually from Monday night)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Sunday 8/21 and Monday 8/22

The last two days have been full of tears and "bye soons" and "love yous".

Sunday morning we got up and Grammy, Pops, E, M and I went to the Farmer's Market. We found all sorts of delicious treasures; peaches, whole wheat bread, fresh honey, lemonade, greens, peppers, and pea shoots. We danced to the live music, threw rocks in the creek and watched all the dogs going by. Grammy even rode in the far back of the van, which is saying something as she probably gets queasy just thinking about it.
E "keeping track of M" at the Market. Be still my heart.

Helping Grammy pick out produce.

We had some lunch and then did a house wide search for Patrick's wallet (which we did not find) before heading out to Mahoney State Park to meet the Collins crew.

The kids played at the park and rode ponies. We played Frisbee, ate snacks, took a walk, and enjoyed the company. I am beyond lucky to have married into this amazing family. My in-laws are kind, generous people who have treated me as their daughter/sister for over a decade! The boys love to see their Aunt Emily and play with their cousins and having Uncle Chris in town is a treat. And of course, they love spending time with Grandma Barb and Grandpa Levin. I definitely see some fun camping/travel adventures with their grandparents as they grow up.

Note: Patrick did find his wallet tucked into the swim bag which had been put in the carrier on top of the van. PHEW! 

At Mahoney State Park

Walking with Grandma and Grandpa

M wasn't so sure about the pony.

E loved them.

Big smiles on Sampson the pony.

Grandma Barb and Jonah staying in the shade

First full Collins photo with Jonah

We said tearful "goodbyes" and headed back to Grammy and Pop's house to have bathes with Grammy and the little rubber frogs. Grammy sang "Three Green and Speckled Frogs" approximately 50 times complete with actions from the boys. The boys snuggled in to Daddy

The next morning Patrick loaded the van, demonstrating his prowess as a Tetris Master. We had a visit from a strange black dog, who Patrick returned to its grumpy owner and finished loading up. After more tears and pictures and "Bye Soons" we were on our way to "Necticut".

Ready for adventure, complete with pillow, Baa Baa and Sneaky the Snake (not real)

When E was a little guy, he started saying "Bye Soon". I think it stemmed from a book called "Tiny Little Fly" where he may have gotten some of the words mixed up. Our family has said it ever since. I'm sure most people look at us funny but it's one of those phrases that I love.

Our first leg was across Iowa, destination - Davenport. Approximately 355 miles and about 5 1/2 hours. All went smoothly. J (the littlest Collins) managed to fill up his britches twice but we were anticipating it as he had been holding out for over a week. Yikes. The boys had new "noculers" (5 year old for binoculars) and that was a great find! We stopped at a rest area for a quick picnic lunch and to feed Jonah. The boys used their binoculars to watch a tractor in a hay field for quite some time. The wind was blowing gales and keeping their paper lunch plates down was quite a feat.

Loaded up with "Noculers"

Watching farm equipment at work

And today, we trek towards Valparaso, IN to visit Patrick's aunt and uncle. We are very much looking forward to seeing them. Here's to smooth travels through Chicago on a slightly shorter day.