Tomorrow evening I leave for California once again. The last day is always the hardest. My bags are packed and the timer begins; it’s just a matter of counting down the minutes until I have to leave. I’ve been fortunate to have had an extended stay home for the holidays. I left two weeks ago and spent my first weekend getting over the grogginess of travel. We shopped for Christmas food and saw The Force Awakens (without the boys) but otherwise stayed around the house as a family. Sally had to work the first few days of Christmas week, so I stayed home Monday through Wednesday by myself while the boys were at school.
I had decided to take the time off to spend with Sally but didn’t realize she still had to work. It seemed a bit awkward at first – spend three days alone after spending two weeks by myself – but I quickly filled it up with chores for the holiday dinner later that week. I cleaned up the house and prepped the garage for the party. On Wednesday I spent some time playing video games and embarked on my huge, multi-thousand piece Lego Steamship project (still in progress, more details to come). Over those first few days of the week I also got to spend some quality time with Holly. She’s getting old and I hope she is still around once my assignment is over but I still want to spend as much time with her as I can.
By Thursday Sally and the boys were home so we spent the day prepping for the party and spending time as a family. The boys played with their toys in the living room, watched movies, and ran around in the garage while we got ready. It was a nice day. One of those days where I don’t go out and do anything but instead get to chat with Sally and just watch the boys. I love talking to them, hearing about what they are playing with, and listening to them talk to each other and interact.
Friday was Christmas so we opened our gifts, cleaned up, and started cooking for the family meal. The boys got a lot of presents they liked including ones that they “didn’t ask for” but “liked anyway”. My sister and GiGi arrived in the afternoon and we had a wonderful dinner and gift exchange. The boys really enjoyed playing with their cousins, the food came out well, and everyone had a good time. Once my sister’s family headed out, we cleaned up and spent an hour relaxing before the boys went to bed. It was busy, but nice.
The next morning we were off to Boston to see Disney on Ice with Rachel, Josh, and Heidi. The boys had a blast! The show was great because it wasn’t crowded due to its close proximity to the holiday. There was plenty of room to walk around and it was easy to get food or go to the bathroom. The show was good and included some characters that the boys were familiar with, such as Toy Story, but many other that they were not. They were able to discover characters from The Lion King, Peter Pan, and Aladdin that they had never seen. They had a lot of fun. After the show we had lunch with the Roberges and then dropped the boys off with GiGi so Sally and I could pick through Target’s clearance holiday section.
We spent Sunday relaxing at the house, watching The Lion King two times in a row while we packed for our next big trip: Great Wolf Lodge. We spent Monday and Tuesday at their indoor water park and arcade. It was a very good time. The place is huge with two water parks, two arcades, restaurants, shops, bowling, mini golf, and a ropes course. We stayed in a room that had a bed, couch, and TV in the main area, with a bunk bed in a small forest-themed room for the boys (which GiGi also set herself up in). We spent the mornings in the water parks and the afternoons in the arcades and the rest of the lodge. We even had story time one night with “snow” (basically soapy bubbles). It was a great time. Definitely something we’d do again.
By Wednesday we were all tuckered and ready to head back home. The evening was another nice opportunity to spend some family time together without going out. Sally used it to build two of the Lego sets the boys received for Christmas. We brought the boys outside to play in the snow. They had a great time building a snowman and running around. I spent the evening putting more layers onto my Lego steamship. On Thursday we surprised the boys by taking them to see The Force Awakens. They were so excited! We had to work with them a bit to contain their excitement during the movie but they did a really good job overall. It was a ton of fun to watch their reactions to the movie and it was great to see it a second time. After a couple more hours at home it was time for our respective New Years Eve parties – ours with the Roberges and the boys’ with GiGi.
That brings us to yesterday and today, two more family days and some of the best days of my entire vacation. We finished building the remaining Legos, cleaned up the house a bit, watched movies, and spent time together. The boys were absolutely adorable. They played very well together and had some very intricate story lines going on with their toys. It was really fun to converse with them about what they were doing, what we were doing, and what we would do later in the day. They seem to have matured so much recently. We really can have deep meaningful conversations with each other about how they interpret the world. They are also much more capable than I remember – opening doors, turning on lights, getting things out of cabinets, getting ready, looking for toys, drawing, explaining what happens next. It was so much fun.
It’s both the best and worst time for me to head back to the west coast. It’s great to end on a high note but it makes me miss everyone so much more. I can’t express how much I would love to just drive to Portsmouth on Monday, drop off the boys, and head to work. Instead I’ll be eating breakfast in my hotel and walking to work. I’ve been fortunate so far that the holidays have allowed me to come home more often and for longer stretches of time. Now that the new year has arrived I will enter a constant cadence of two weeks away, two days home, two weeks away repeated for the next two to four months. This will be the first time where I’ve been away for two consecutive two-week periods of time. In the past I’ve been away for two weeks then one week then home or two weeks then a few days then home. This is where the constant distance will start to grind on us. It’s also when the brunt of my project work will occur so I’ll be more busy. Maybe it will stress me out, maybe it will allow me to take my mind off being away, but either way it won’t help Sally or the boys much.
Tomorrow we will be heading to Boston for the day and dropping me off at the airport. I’ve had a fantastic time home and I’m not in any hurry to leave. I’m already counting down the days until I’m back. Only 15 days to go…