We FINALLY got it all together and made our trip to California, to meet our newest VIP, Kinley Grace P.
Day 1. We get up early, load my favorite pillows into the truck and whatever hasn’t been loaded the night before and we begin the 14 hour drive to spend a week with Cody, Krystal, Abby and our newest VIP, Kinley Grace. We arrive a little after dark and the long, grueling, butt-punishing drive is worth it, as Abby runs out the door and into our arms.
Even though we only get to see Abby a few days a year, her folks help build that relationship by talking about us and reminding Abby of the things we have done together. Not everyone has kids this great, but we do.
Abby’s mom has hot beef sandwiches ready and we wolf them down, grateful for the flavor and the sustenance. We unpack the ludicrous amount of things I brought down..roasting pans, crepe pans, cookware, spices, frozen meat, veggies, etc. Cody asks if I brought toilet paper. A family joke, as my mom used to bring her own when she came to visit our house. You would think corn cobs weren’t luxurious enough or something. I show Krystal how to mix up Boule bread as I just know they are gonna like it. I brought a 10# foodsafe bucket down for them to keep so they can make it when we are gone. We leave the bucket of dough on the counter to rise and I put it in the fridge at midnight-ish when I wake up. Perfect.
I scarcely remember day 2 as we were recovering. Driving this distance and being away from my critters takes a lot out of me. I am pretty sure we spent it getting re acquainted with Abby and getting to know Kinley. Cody makes a huge breakfast and we indulge ourselves shamefully. That night we have dinner with Krystal’s Mom and sister, who has a baby boy only 2 weeks older than Kinley. They’ll be thick as thieves growing up, I am sure. We pass out gifts of soap and swap stories at dinner and look forward to when they can all come up to the ranch to visit. Cody tells us how one of his hunters wanted to celebrate his success with a cigar. Not wanting to offend him, Cody took a couple puffs then threw it in the fire. That night, upon coming home, he went in to kiss Abby good night and she told him “Daddy, you smell like a LAWNMOWER!”
Out of the the mouths of babes.
We get up at the crack of dawn, pack everything into 2 vehicles and proceed to embark on the 4 hour drive down California’s Hwy 10 to Palm Desert to visit Great Grampa Bob and Granma Betty.
We head to Grampa’s favorite hamburger joint to overindulge in burgers and fries. Granma Betty drives us and Randy and I sit in the backseat of their car. Randy is practically vibrating, as he is a big man who is EXTREMELY claustrophobic. He white knuckles it the 5 minutes or so it takes to arrive at our destination. He exits the car so quickly it nearly causes a vacuum that sucks me out the door. I am proud of him, as he didn’t throw himself out on the highway like I thought he would.
Abby decides she wants to visit the restroom and as I am the only one who can also get out of the booth, I am the designated escort. We enter the bathroom, she goes through her ritual and while sitting on the her porcelain throne, she informs me “See? It just isn’t gonna come out.”
I ask why, as I have no other comment to offer to this revelation. She replies “Because, it doesn’t WANT to.”
She promptly dismounts, readjusts her outfit and covers her ears which is my cue to flush, in spite of our failure to produce. I follow her back out to join the rest of our family, marveling at how a 3 year old can make the most common and mundane of daily tasks hilariously funny.
We head back to Grampa’s house and Great Granma Betty brings a stuffed toy penguin to Abby then sits and holds Kinley on her lap. She says “I will trade you that penguin for your baby sister, would you like to trade?”
Abby bites her lower lip and says “No.” But she continues to free the penguin from his box.
“How about if I just keep her for a week and you can have the penguin?”
Abby contemplates this new offer and says “No, that would not be good.”
“How long can I keep her for then?” inquires Betty.
After biting her bottom lip in deep thought, Abby says “You can keep her a couple of days and we will come back and pick her up.”
“Okay, we will keep her two days and you can have the penguin”
“I’ll go ask my mom.”
Abby runs to the back room where Krystal is organizing the truckload of baby stuff that is necessary to bring an infant on a one day excursion, as anyone who has ever had a baby, knows. She comes back shortly and announces
“Mom says you can have her!”
Six hours later, our visit comes to an end. Granma Betty is still holding Kinley as Abby passes out goodbye hugs and kisses. Betty tells her “Don’t forget to kiss Kinley goodbye”.
Abby puckers up her lips, then suddenly, realizing the penguin is already safely tucked away in the vehicle, says “No!!” and reaches out to spirit Kinley to safer quarters.
I think she has definitely made the adjustment from only-child to big sister.
The most significant thing I can remember about day 5 is that I finally finished crocheting Kinley's blanket while holding her on my lap. RA flares prevented me from getting it done before she was born, but I found actually HOLDING a baby is surefire incentive to get a blanket completed! It fit perfectly. :)
It turned out to be a good thing, as a small teddybear I had made for Abby three years earlier, had lost its leg and I was able to replace it with the yarn I brought down for Kinley's blanket. You see? God always has a plan. Just like letting Cletus get cheatgrass in his ear the Monday before. I would have been making the 14 hour drive to California alone, without cell phone service on a seldom travelled road. As it was, I wound up being admitted to the hospital that afternoon with a horrendously painful kidney stone. Somehow being half way to California under the aforementioned conditions would not have seemed pleasant.
A chubby finger is gouged into my eyeball and drags the lid up until light assaults my exposed eyeball. Giggles rise on the air like bubbles as soft, blonde, curly hair tickles my nose and Abby brings me into full consciousness, saying
“Wake up GRAMMY!”, laughing breathlessly.
I drag her body onto the bed, vying for a little more sleep when an insistent squeaking starts from below. The dog whose face is wrapped around an ill used squeaky toy begins beating out a rhythm on the floor with his tail. Wyatt is awake and he wants to play too. Wyatt is the largest black labrador I have ever laid eyes on. He is big and black and shiny. His tail is thick, his leg bones are thick, he is enormous, but there is not an ounce of fat on him. At Cody’s request he has dragged the carcasses of wild boars weighing a couple hundred pounds down the road for him. He is parked at the side of the bed, squeaking the pitiful remains of a stuffed dog toy, while his body undulates like a fish in anticipation of my grabbing it from him. He doesn’t want me to throw it, he just wants to drag my body through the house with it. I comply and he pulls me off of the bed, leaving Abby and Randyman behind. It’s time to get up. This is our second to last morning to wake up here this trip. Tomorrow we will visit the last of the family on our itinerary and head home. It’s bittersweet as I hate to leave and there are so many people we did not get to see, but I am having critter withdrawals. If I don’t see Emma and the Maremmas soon, I will be traumatized beyond redemption. Cider is anxious to get home as sleeping in the backseat of the truck is not nearly as appealing as his papasan chair at home.
We drive an hour or so to a mall to an Apple store as some issues have arisen with Krystal’s B-day present. As we left the Apple store, she asked if I wanted to follow her around the baby clothes store, or stay and look at Koi fish with Abby. As my hips were hurting pretty badly, I chose the fish.
It had not occurred to me, that Abby would run laps around the fishpond, just out of my reach. There was a walk way that bisected the pond, so she could actually figure 8 and lap me. She was very good about not jumping in, or standing on the ledge, but she did feel it was important to let her ‘baby’ have a good close look at the fish. With impeccable timing, I clotheslined her the next time she went into passing gear and jerked her up off of her feet. I carried her, under protest, to the store her mom and baby sister were shopping in. We decided to go into stealth mode.
We ducked and ran quickly from one clothing rack to the next, hiding behind displays and streaking to the next display with amazing speed and dexterity. We put the pink Panther to shame with our evasive skills. Kystal, Abby’s mom, was ALL the way in the back of the store. We made it to the racks just in front of her...or behind her, as she was facing the opposite way, when Abby noted a table with Legos. Another little kid was there building a city, so Abby planted herself next to her and began some construction of her own. I stepped back into the shadows to watch.
Her mother finally turned around, oblivious to our presence and slowly began working her way to the front. She glanced at the Lego table and the most remarkable thing happened. I could read her mind. It wasn’t just me, I am sure her thoughts became audible as the lady next to me had the same look on her face, that I know I had. Krystal glanced at the back of Abby’s head and thought “Aww...that little girl has blonde curly hair just like Abby’s!”
She looked away just for a moment, before her head jerked back again, this time looking a bit disturbed...and she thought “That little girl is wearing the same DRESS as Abby...”
As her thought process was still attempting to make the leap to “That IS Abby! Where is Grammy?”
I said “It looks remarkably like your daughter, doesn’t it?”
The lady next to me was trying to stifle her laughter as Krystal gave free rein to her own.
She used her GPS to find our way to a BabiesRUs to pick something up and on the way back we stopped at the bottom of the hill, where we were to turn right...and waited...and waited...until she jolted upright and cried out an expletive, confessing she was waiting for the light to turn green.
We were at a stop sign.
Abby asked from the back seat “What did mommy say?”
To which I replied “She said SHIFT! And the funny thing is, you have an automatic transmission.”
It was good enough for Abby, so it is good enough for me. Meantime, Krystal is still laughing and trying to figure out how she could be so confused. I know. I am contagious.
When we got home, I set about to fix dinner so Krystal can feed the baby and deal with Apple reps on the phone. Abby was running around being Abby. She ran up to me in the kitchen, pulling her dress up around her ears and said “Look Grammy!!”
Next she jerked her panties down, grabbed her ankles with her caboose in the air and said “See??I wiped off the poop!”
Without waiting for a response, she yanked her pants back up, dropped her dress and was gone with the next whirlwind. I stood blinking at empty space, wondering just when and where I lost my own exuberance over the ability to perform the most basic daily living skills. I think next trip I make to the commode, I too, will try to giggle and glory in my independence, finding joy in the minutiae of life. I think that is the secret to a truly successful second childhood.
I probably should spend sometime pondering how to make it up to Abby when she is old enough to read and stops speaking to me because I shared this story with you. OH well. She is too cute not to share.
Wednesday afternoon we spend with Randyman’s mom, youngest daughter and her 3 little ones. Her oldest is 3, and she has new twins. That makes for a pretty hectic day. The oldest has a little electric car. She sent him out with his daddy to babysit so she could tend to her chores while watching the twins. Shortly after the phone rang. The neighbor called to let her know her son was at the park talking to a policeman. Apparently Dad forgot he was babysitting, so the little feller drove his electric car down to the park. Kids. You gotta love ‘em!
The twins, and their big brother giving me 'the eye'.
That evening, we finally make it to our last stop just before dark. No one told our last 3 VIP’s of this trip that we were coming, so they were very surprised. We no sooner got out of the pick up than 2 little girls in renaissance dresses and one little boy small enough that a bandana served as a super hero’s cape launched themselves into my arms. Bad back or not, it is the most pleasant sensation I can think of. We had dinner, swapped stories, did lots of giggling, watched a small sibling war over a pair of boots and finally passed out.
We headed home in the wee hours of the morning after kissing them all goodbye in their beds. It’s hard to leave them, but its good to come home. I can’t wait until they all come back to play with us, as they share my love of cows, goats, sheep chickens and dogs. Its nice to have someone that thinks like you. I even love the grown-ups a lot and someday will be as mature as them. But for now, I will just work on my second time around as it’s always the best.