Head out on the highway…

I will remember 2019 as the year of the road trip. I have logged many hours and miles across Pennsylvania and Ohio and down to Washington D.C. I spent time with my sister and my mother-in-law, I connected with an old friend, and spent an almost dangerous amount of time alone with my own thoughts as I drove along I-80. My favorite road trips are definitely ones that include time with my grandchildren and happily our most recent trip was all about the grandkids.

Grandkid palooza started out with a visit with our youngest grandchild, Eleanor. One of the advantages of being the youngest grandchild is inheriting the toys your cousins have outgrown. She was more than happy to be the recipient of a plethora of duplos! Thanks guys.

The other big news in Eleanor’s life is there is now a piano in the home. Grandpa Bud’s piano has arrived at its new home where it will be well loved. I have a strong suspicion that Eleanor and her father will spend many happy hours here.

Then it was on to Maryland to visit our grandsons and celebrate their parents’ 14th wedding anniversary. Life has been beyond busy for all the adults involved so we decided to keep it simple and order pizza for dinner. I did want a way to involve my grandsons in the celebration of their parents anniversary so I decided to bake a cake and teach them how to make a heart shape out of a square and a circle. I arrived in Maryland with my cakes ready to roll. I asked the boys what the official symbol of love is and they replied it was a heart. Since I had baked a square and a circle ,I asked them how were we going to get a heart. They were all set to do some “cake carving” but as soon as I cut the circle in half they knew what to do to make the square into a heart. They then got busy making some banners and cards to decorate our masterpiece.

Sam in creative mode.

I was a little surprised when the nine-year old twins started talking to me about doing a crumb coat on the cake! Kids Baking Championship has given them the lingo but they may still need to fine tune their technique. Nonetheless, their parents were delighted with the heartfelt, finished project. And yes, I too believe their parents were meant for each other.

We ended the evening with a fire in the new fire pit. The night was clear and cool with the smell of wood smoke in the air. The perfect end to a fine day.

Before we knew it we were off to the land of girls. Elliot and Becky headed out for 24 hours of R&R and Mr. Smith and I settled in with Olivia, Emily and Elizabeth. First on the agenda was taking the girls to dance class. While we spent many years hauling boys to karate, taking girls to dance class is a new adventure for Mr. Smith and me. Elizabeth may not have all the moves down pat, but she’s full of enthusiasm and cute as a button.

After lunch at Pizza Hut, it was back home for an afternoon of crafting. We made cinnamon applesauce cut outs that are making the house smell cozy and festive.

Is it Emily or R2 D2???
Crafting is messy work!

While our cutouts were in the oven, the girls moved on the creating some adorable masterpieces from a Cheerful Chipmunks Kit. They’re pretty sure their parents will be impressed with their creativity.

Tomorrow Mr.Smith and I will head back to Pennsylvania and settle back into our daily routines, all the while cognizant that Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner. Wilkes Barre has already started decorating for the holidays, taking advantage of a mild day last week to put up festive wreaths. Soon the tree in the town square will be up and the holiday fairs and celebrations will be in full swing. My goal is to embrace the season and savor the moments and not get caught up in my to-do list. I will play my favorite Christmas music while I wrap gifts and bake Christmas treats. I will light candles, add some Christmas greens and sip a glass of wine. I’m 64 years old and know that “perfection” is highly overrated. What’s not overrated is holiday fun with friends and family and I plan to have some fun.

C’est la vie.

Circle tour of love…

The circle tour of love is winding down and I’ll be back home with Mr. Smith on Monday. He tells me he thinks about me constantly. He looks around the new apartment at all the boxes and thinks “I can’t wait for Stormy to get home and get these unpacked!” Soon, dearest, soon. But today I’m headed to State College, PA for a much anticipated visit with Eleanor.

I am thrilled to report that my intrepid mother-in-law weathered her surgery in fine form, came home the same day, and is well on the road to recovery.

She is one amazing woman.

After spending a few days with Pat while she recuperated, I went back down to my sister’s. My time there happily coincided with the Ann Arbor Art Fair. We planned strategically and attended early on opening day, scurrying home after a lovely late lunch, retreating back into the air-conditioned comfort of home during one of the worst heat waves in memory.

These cool concrete books in front of the William L. Clements Library on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor, MI along the Art Fair route caught my eye.

I couldn’t be so close to my gaggle of granddaughters without popping up there for a visit. I took some vintage clothes pins and lots of trimmings of feathers, fabric, pom poms and sparkly pipe cleaners and we made clothes pin dolls.

This beauty was made by Emily.
Olivia never met a craft project she didn’t like!
Emily’s fairy doll.
Elizabeth was all about the pom poms!

Saturday night was back to my sister’s for a last lovely dinner out, complete with cocktails. I am delighted to have been able to make this trip, but I am looking forward to returning to the love nest in the sky and Mr. Smith, boxes and all.

C’est la vie.

Life is a highway…

The Sunday after Mr. Smith’s birthday, I left on a solo road trip.  My SUV was filled with boxes to take to store at my sister’s in Michigan and several household items that were going on to Elliot’s house in Indiana. It was so fully packed that my suitcase was strapped into the front passenger seat, keeping my company on my drive. I had a full tank of gas, a bottle of water and a chicken salad croissant for lunch provided by my lovely husband.

I traveled the Southern Tier Expressway across New York.  It winds through green mountains dotted with dairy farms and deep forests and past the exquisite Chautauqua Lake.  I drove across New York and into Pennsylvania where I eventually stopped at a rest area to enjoy a quick lunch before soldiering on through Ohio and up to Michigan.

My sister lives in a charming shall town in southern Michigan. We were delighted to have several days together with few obligations. We drank good wine, ate yummy food and shopped! I went to a movie in the middle of the day in the middle of the week! 

These statues in front of the Art Center always make me smile..
And I love any town that has one of these.

On Friday, my sister and I set off for Indiana to meet up with our brother and his wife and our niece and her family.  We visited, ate pizza and watched the movie, Billy Elliot.  I think I loved it even more than when I saw it originally.  Plus, it segued perfectly into my next day when I headed to Indiana to see my fabulous granddaughters.

The biggest reason for my road trip was getting to attend Olivia and Emily’s dance recital. I didn’t know until I got there that two-year old Elizabeth would be making her stage debut! After a week and a half of lessons, she was ready to go out there and perform to Animal Crackers in My Soup! All three girls did a spectacular job and melted my heart.

The dancers and their grandmas!
Grandpa’s Emily…

On a solo road trip, you have all the freedom and all the responsibility.  You chose when to stop and where.  You chose music or no music.  Traveling alone, I thought about how spoiled I am when I travel with Mr. Smith and never have to think about whether I have enough gas or keep track of the car keys.

Many hours alone in the car also gives you time to think.  I thought about how my road trips are always about the destination and not the journey.  I’m going from point A to point B and while I do admire the scenery, I rarely venture off the route.  I hope that one day soon on this highway of life, I manage to take the road less traveled.

C’est la vie.