Our family has an ‘understanding’ when it comes to trips away (and by ‘understanding’ I mean something I annoyingly repeat to a less than enthused Dave): “We won’t remember the tired/cranky/stressed feelings, but we will get to keep the awesome memories”. Well, those of us with an ability to remember more of our high school experience than Mariah Carey/Boyz 2 Men lyrics, that is… Hmmm, come to think of it maybe there is a legitimate reason for his lack of enthusiasm after all!
There is a blog post being shared on Facebook about stopping to memorize the special moments and movements of our kids before they grow up so quickly before our eyes and it really resonates with me. For me, trips away provide the perfect backdrop to stop and just see each other properly again- without the loads of washing and to do lists and boxes of toys to be packed up again. It’s like turning up the volume and the colour contrast on life for a couple of days, making the good moments soar out like a symphony….and the not so good roar like a tsunami.
Traveling with three kids under four is probably not meant to be easy. We sure had our moments- frantically searching for some mode of food at 5:30pm on the first evening, me in the car with Hudson, Dave pushing Eli and a screaming Ivy in the pram behind us, then getting to the pub which was closed….Hudson tripping head first over the brick step in the living room every. single. time. he walked over it….the realisation that the quaint cottage I had booked us was effectively a very open plan bedroom, with curtains for doors and an attic that took every hearty snore and tossed it through both levels of the dwelling with gusto…. the lingering throat infection/tonsillitis that battered through both Dave’s and my energy levels, leaving us looking longingly at the bed pretty much as soon as we had put the kids down…the looooong trip home from the city in bumper to bumper traffic which involved various contortion performances as I reached back to continually replace the dummy for a very unhappy Ivy… . and Eli’s announcement in the middle of that traffic crawl that he was desperate for the toilet, necessitating an urgent mid-ride nappy for undies swap that didn’t quite catch the intended contents!
Thankfully, these moments were a blip on an otherwise incredible experience together. The Claremont Coach House had character in spades- with a cast iron fireplace, uneven brick floors, exposed beams and a secret hole in the wall between the bedroom and living room. The weathered wagon and ramshackle hut just outside the dwelling added to the old fashioned feel and made us all feel like we had been transported back in time. Eli was enchanted with his vintage metal bed in the attic and the upper level opened out onto an upstairs deck which Dave and I slipped out to gaze at the incredible array of stars once the kids had conked out for the evening. Mum and Dad joined us for a BBQ on that deck on the second night as a stroke of coincidence had seen them independently decide to visit Bendigo for Dad’s work at the exact time we were holidaying in Castlemaine!
Our day trip to Bendigo worked out perfectly. We stumbled across The Epicurean Delicatessen: Formaggi & Cucina and were transported back to Italy with strong espresso style coffee and hearty stews with plenty of crusty bread to soak up the tantalising juices. We made a bee line for the empty outdoor courtyard and the kids had space to explore while we relaxed for a while. The Discovery Center was our next stop and Eli and Hudson had a ball pressing buttons and playing with all the displays. Then we headed to Rosalind Park with our subs and played at the foot of the majestic School House and Clock Tower overshadowing the stunning greenery.
We toured Castlemaine’s parks and detoured through Mt Macedon, stopping to savour pizza in the sun and explore the ‘secret garden’ at the Mt Macedon Hotel. Eli and Hudson were enchanted by the mounds of autumn leaves and relished the chance to dash around and say ‘hello’ to all passing strangers.
Slowing down to focus only on where we would be going and what we would be eating gave me plenty of opportunities to really ‘see’ each of the kids and soak in their cute mannerisms and ways of talking that will pass all too soon. Eli kept exclaiming how much he loved ‘our’ holiday house and his bed and everything that he could see around the property. He has started referring to Hudson as his ‘best friend’ and kept checking in the car to see if his ‘friends’ (Ivy and Hudson) were still sleeping. He is so quick with his humour and has the most infectious laugh and smile. Hudson threw himself into the new environment with his typical gusto and rearranged cupboards and stored his precious computer and Dave’s portable speaker in them at any chance he got, his little tongue sticking out at a slight angle in his intense concentration. His little skip as he made his way to Dave or I and cheeky grin whenever we caught his glance. He has sadly stopped expressing his hilarious opposition to any task with the defiant statement “I WANT to” and has now added the ‘don’t’ in there. Ivy is making so many cooing and gurgling noises at the moment and soaks up the attention when anyone talks to her, rewarding the recipient with wide, dimpled grins.
I can’t bottle up these moments, but I feel like this blog is the next best thing, as I struggle to capture the feelings and colours that are evoked as I witness these characters developing before my eyes. So many times I wished I could freeze these moments forever and be able to recall them at will later. My challenge now is to try and live in this mindset now that we are back, unpacked, washing queued up for the machine, grocery shopping trip scheduled for the morning. So much harder to do in this context…. but so worth it.