And now for the completion of your ridiculous vacation, I present to you these final nuggets of wisdom. If you're just tuning in, start at the painful beginning and slog through it in its entirety like the rest of us had to do.
We last left our family massacring beloved deer, ditching children and strolling along I-25. Let's see what kind of tomfoolery they're up to now.
Step Thirteen: Now that you have a gas can (you know, for emergencies...), fill 'er up and store it in the dancing cargo carrier next to your air mattress. Because if it's going to leak on something, you definitely want it to be on something that will be near your nostrils for eight hours.
Step Fourteen: Do something novel, like go garage sale-ing. Because we all know you can't buy used crap at home.
P.S. The bowling ball was just too much for you to resist.
Step Fifteen: Decide that (since it's your anniversary), instead of camp fare, you'll eat at a nice sit-down restaurant. A nice romantic dinner for just the two of you. And two kids next to you. Oh and two more at the table behind you, because (apparently) you're a large family and they don't know quite how to seat you all together. No matter. You're confident that your children will not choose this moment to act like ruffians. Good grief. Are they running their spoons across the vertical blinds like old jailbirds? "No you may not put sugar on your spaghetti. Stop licking the chair. Your napkin is not a parachute. You have to go to the bathroom again?"
For Act II of your impromptu dinner show, how about you pinch the baby just as your meal arrives? Because nothing is more entertaining to foreign tourists than watching you eat drippy ravioli, while trying to maintain some dignity as you feed the youngest, whose actions suggest eating under a blanket is pure torture.
And also her foot belongs on your plate.
End with a rousing encore of "Let's go out to the van while Daddy pays the check" in which you will inadvertently activate the car alarm. With horn honking, lights flashing and baby crying you signal in vain through the window to your oblivious, keeper-of-the-keys husband who (though facing you) is tuned into the French table behind him and attempting to figure out if they are still discussing the half-witted, breastfeeding woman who is now waving...at...them...? Uhhh. Bonjour...? Cette Américaine folle...
Aaaand curtain. Oh, did I mention you did this all the while looking like absolute camp ragamuffins in an establishment that uses linen napkins? Just whatever.
Step Sixteen: Arrive at your campground and flop onto your highly flammable mattress knowing that, through it all, you have been crazy-blessed with a beautiful, messy, ridiculous life and the precious moments over the past three weeks have been balm to your soul and sweet respite for your harried mind.
And you would do it all again.
***We were so incredibly thrilled to be able to embark on such a memorable and leisurely trip! Every start was a rally and every stop was an adventure. From the sweet fellowship with adoption friends, to shucking corn in the great state of Nebraska. From the gentle rolling hills of Kentucky to the serene wooded lakes of Michigan. From the belly laughs with family to the sorrowful "goodbyes". Each day was filled to the brim with an abiding quiet. A hearty "Thank you" to the many friends and family we were able to see along the way. You made the hours in the van all worthwhile. Much love.***
With A Heart Full of Love and Gratitude,
Cynthia, her Professor and their wacky motley crew