We returned from your second ever cabin trip last night.
The Cabin is a sacred place for your father. His childhood summers were filled with memories of this place; little boy antics, fishing, boating, campfires, family and friends. This place is a treasure for your family. Now that most of us are married and even have kids of our own, we return there. 3 brothers and 1 sister, 2 sisters-in law, a brother-in law, and 3 little ones occupy the bedrooms, futon, and porch for a week of fun and family.
I was apprehensive to make the journey this year, being that last year our trip Up North left me feeling stressed and crabby.
It was virgin territory for us a year ago. 2 parents embarking on our first ever vacation with a set of 10 month old twins. Our trip, pre-kids, used to consist of mornings that dragged into afternoons while we sipped on hot cups of coffee, lazy pontoon rides, fishing, afternoon naps, campfires, and rousing late-night board games accompanied with cocktails. Last year proved difficult to relax while nursing one baby, and attempting to nurse another who was deciding to self wean at the time. Trying to get you both to nap during the day, and sleep well at night was by far the most stressful.
I resolved that this year would go much better, you were older, and better sleepers, and best of all you loved sand and water, both of which are abundant at a lake.
We set off to the cabin on Wednesday and after 2 hours in the car I was starting to regret our decision to go. You were both antsy to get out of your car seats and run around. Gabriel started to tell us "All done car ride, all done!" Then we had tears and screaming.
My two wild and busy boys don't normally sit still for more than 10 minutes at a time. Daddy and I started to unload our bag of tricks. We had large container of toys and activities packed to distract you. Flash cards, toy trains, trucks, and balls. 10 rounds of BINGO, Happy Birthday to each and every one our family members, Old MacDonald, and The Alphabet Song were a nice, but brief distraction.
I'm sure that I could have popped open the lap top and played a Mister Rogers episode to quiet you, or handed you some battery operated toy but I cherish the simplicity of a family car trip without the use of modern day electronics. Even if it means listening to you crab at me for the remaining 3 hours on the road. I'd rather that you grow up chatting and singing, and playing "I Spy", and the license plate game with your parents during road trips verses sitting in the back seat of a mini-van staring at some cartoon movie playing in an overhead DVD player. Some of my favorite memories of growing up are those that were created while we three girls were "trapped" with your grandparents in the car during road trips around the country.
You both fell asleep when the sky darkened and awoke just as we arrived at our destination. You were greeted by Aunties and Uncles, and cousin "No-no" with enthusiasm. I was impressed that you went to bed so easily that night, albeit much much later than usual.
This year seemed to go off without a hitch. We had returned to the lake with experience under our belts.
Yes, you were crabby at times.
Okay, okay, you were crabby most of the time .
You crashed for your afternoon rest and for bedtime. In general, you were good boys.
Except for attacking your poor cousin on a few occasions. While you two seem to have your own hierarchy built in to your relationship (Nat, in general, being the leader, and Gabe asserting himself occasionally to keep things balanced) your cousin isn't built into the structure. Nat continued to lead the way, and instead of Gabe following as usual, he decided to lash out at poor "No-No" with attempted bites and a kick to the face during a diaper change.
Time outs didn't mean much when you appeared happy to take a break in your pack-n-play for 2 minutes. Scoldings from your Mama do nothing more than solicit a giggle and an impersonation of the yelling.
Our days were spent playing on the beach, and wearing your Auntie Katie out by catching 3 boisterous little boys as they jumped off the dock. You explored indoors and entertained yourselves with a rusty old wagon that was too fun to share, and many toys that your daddy and uncles played with as little boys.
We spent an evening meeting your Great Aunt and Great Uncle and your daddy's cousin. You ate cheesy bread and spent a good part of an hour racing up and down the ramp built for your Great Uncle's electric wheelchair.
On our last night we had the traditional fish fry. Everyone contributed by either catching, filleting, or cooking up the Perch and Rock Bass. My contribution was the quinoa salad. You ate up the fried deliciousness dipped in homemade tarter sauce. All you touched from the salad I made was the olives.
Sunday was the perfect day to head home. You had been out of your routine just long enough for it to start to impact you. The big crabbies were setting in. We tried to keep you occupied with some Yo-Gabba-Gabba and Baby Einstein so we could pack up and clean. By 11:30 we were all smashed into our car again heading South.
You surprised us with how well you both did on the trip home, especially considering that the traffic congestion added on an extra hour to an already 5 hour trip. Hearing that we were traveling back to a familiar place where you knew Grandma, Grandpa and Oliver would be helped the journey. That and stopping at a Dairy Queen to spoil you with some bites of a Blizzard.
I cherish the time that we get to spend with our family.
The late night games, chats, and laugh fests.
Your Uncles behaving like young boys who are high on life.
The way that your Aunties smother you with love.
I will remember how your first words when you woke so early in the morning were "All done night-night, Outside? Lake? Sandbox? and No-No?" In that order almost every day we were there.
You won't remember the memories we created this year, but I hope that someday the cabin will be a significant part of your lives.