Mom, Dad and I packed up our suitcases in Florida to prepare for our long road trip north with one of my favorite detours: Missouri! Last year we had the opportunity to visit the Erwin family at their homestead and it was such a moving experience. This year we jumped at the opportunity to visit again and bring Drew to meet his extended family!
The first day we drove from the Florida panhandle up to southern Illinois. We took frequent diaper changing stops and Drew was a little trooper! He had been a bit fussy the few days before, so I thought we were in for a long trip, but he did great! We stopped at one random exit with a Starbucks and decided to run into Chipotle to grab a bite for lunch. While we were ordering, I heard “Alyce?” Let me remind you I’m in the middle of nowhere in between Florida and Nashville. Turns out David and Jenny had decided to stop for lunch on their way back to Nashville at the exact same exit, at the exact same time. What? What are the odds? We were in the restaurant for less than 5 minutes. To this moment, my mind is still racing trying to imagine the odds of something like this happening. Another dose of fate!
The first evening we stopped in a hotel to enjoy a nights rest. I took Drew in for a quick bath even though it was late at night. He had an epic poop explosion on the road. At one point during the diaper change experience, I had a whole handful of poop. Drew was screaming and trying out his new voice, my mom was gagging and I was trying to fish the poop out of the sink. Saying it was a chaotic mess would be a severe understatement. After his bath, he fell asleep in our hotel room to restore for a new day!
Friday was April 1st – April Fools Day – and my father’s birthday! We drove the rest of the way to the Erwin household in the middle of Missouri farming country. This time Ashlee, Jeff, and Drew’s birthday twin greeted us! The little boys are only three days in the difference, and it was so neat to see them interact. We had dinner of brisket, potatoes, beans, salad and homemade bread. The meal was fantastic. Last year I was pregnant so I had an excuse that I was “eating for two”. This year, there were no excuses for my overindulgence beyond my love for home cooked meals!
After dinner, the rest of the family came over for dessert of homemade ice cream and apple pie. Once I had my bowl, the birthday twins came right over to me, both trying to stand to peer over my bowl to get a glimpse of the ice cream! It was like two little birds craning their necks for a taste! We all visited, and the boys played while the rest of their grandchildren swirled around the house from the basement to the toy room. It was such a blessing to see all the moving parts of their family in one place, as natural as can be.
Drew was in heaven with all of the activity. He was fascinated by all the toys, people and of course the kitchen cabinets. Drew was even measured on their family measuring stick! He and I opened his early birthday presents from their family of books, a special poem and some St. Louis Cardinals gear! The poem was so special, I couldn’t read it because I was going to start crying, so I deferred until I could compose myself! It was really so special, and so neat to be included in their family.
It was getting to be pretty late, and Mandy rocked Drew back and forth while his eyes rolled back longing for sleep. He was so cozy in her arms. The next morning we visited over coffee and breakfast. Drew made himself at home and enjoyed their company. We had to say our goodbyes and load up the truck to finish the last leg of our journey to Chicago. In Chicago we met Alyssa and Luke for diner and stayed the night before flying out the next day.
The whole vacation was a whirlwind of family, friends and activity, just the way they should be. I just cannot put into words how grateful we are to have this opportunity – to have the rare gift of meeting our recipient family and continuing to share this family bond escapes words.