My oldest daughter, Chrystal, lives in Chicago. She tries to make it home once a month or so to see her only grandson, Xavier, who lives here. All her other little ones are girls. Two of them live in Texas and the other two are currently in Germany. She is Damion and Elaina’s favorite aunt as well. The timing of her trips depends on what’s happening here and at work. Things came together this past weekend and we spent the whole time entertaining toddlers.
On Saturday, there was an Easter Egg Hunt and a trip to the movies. Sunday morning we all went to church, but the real gig was on Friday when we took the three of them to the Land Between the Lakes Nature Center.
Now, these three are roadtrip veterans. Xavier, the oldest, has gone with his grandmother to visit his Dad in Texas several times. We’ve taken all of them to the Kentucky Railway Museum a couple of times, most recently to see Thomas the Train. We have a Pearson Family Reunion in Ohio every year and, usually, take them along there too. We all love zoos and we’ve been to St. Louis, where they have a cousin, as well as Nashville and Louisville. Other family members also travel with them occasionally. So, they understand that, when we tell them it’s a long trip and pack movies, snacks, and books, it’s going to take quite a while.
Of course, they spent the first twenty minutes of the trip devouring most of their snacks. Then they got restless. In spite of the fact that they’ve been to the Nature Center before and kind of remembered it, they started asking, “Do they have giraffes? Will there be elephants?” Then, as proof that they were just playing around, “Do they have sharks and octopuses?” Their imaginations are ten times the size of their bodies and they were in full charge the rest of the hour long drive.
Even the movies they had chosen to bring didn’t really occupy them for long. It was like being trapped with the a pack of howling puppies. They weren’t being bad, not arguing, not whining. They were having fun, laughing, talking (all at once), asking questions, even singing. Strapped into their seats, they couldn’t wrestle or climb around the car physically, so they made up for it verbally.
They enjoyed the Nature Center and were just as amazed and fascinated by it all as ever. They loved the inside displays. They hung on every fence and searched for each animal as though they’d never seen one before, even though there weren’t as many as usual and most of them were hiding in their dens. They especially loved the raptors, but the polliwogs they found along the edge of the garden pond were a big hit too. They made friends with a dog out front and had to stop to pet him on the way out.
Since it was past lunch time and the grown ups were hungry even if the toddlers were still full of snacks, we drove back to Grand Rivers and stopped at the grocery store for supplies to have a car picnic. The adults had sandwiches and the kids got lunchables.
We had planned to take them to see an eagles nest that Jim knew about, but the birds weren’t really flying. Plus, there was a crowd of serious photographers toting three foot lenses on tripods. It didn’t seem like a place to release the Wild Bunch, so Jim took a few shots while we waited in the car. The trip back was just as rambunctious as ever. The hour or so spent running around hadn’t burned up their energy at all. We really do love traveling with toddlers.