summer travels

This post is coming at you from the beautiful and violently humid state of Iowa. Gracie and I made impromptu plans last week to drive here to visit my parents. The last time we made this drive was back in September, and it was the worst day of traveling I've ever experienced in my life. I think I'm excused for waiting 9 months to do it again. Thankfully, a lot has changed in that time. Forward facing carseats (come at me, carseat nazis), nausea medicine, and being two years old made the whole thing so much better. She talked and made up little games and I even caught her singing Amazing Grace. She understood why we were driving and talked the whole way about hugging her Grammy and Grandpa. Things might be different on the way home, but I'm glad that my week of intense panic and stress was for nothing. I laughed at myself during the drive, thinking of the Little House books and the Donner Party book I recently read. They put their earthly belongings in a covered wagon and travelled to parts unknown, knowing there was a chance they could die or run out of food. And here I was terrified to drive in an air-conditioned car with food and gas stations lining the highways and a home on either side of the drive.

My parents are settled in their new house, deep in a little forest with hills, trails, a ravine, and a creek. It is paradise. I'm currently sitting in a rocking chair, next to a huge window that looks out onto the ravine during a severe thunderstorm watch, and holding a cup of coffee. There may or may not also be a bowl of M&Ms next to me. This is me living my best life now, experiencing summer from the comfort of an air-conditioned room. All I can see is green, the birds are singing, and IT IS SO BLOODY HOT. When we came last summer, there was a record-breaking heatwave, and the heat index hit 121 degrees one day. While it's not quite that hot, the heat index has been well over 100 all week. I'm not sure why Iowa only experiences record-breaking heat when I'm visiting, but I'm sure it's no coincidence.

My parents are avid lovers of reality shows set in Alaska. Their DVR is full of shows of mountain men, pioneers, and homesteaders trying to make a life in twenty feet of snow. When Gracie is in bed, I grab a popsicle, curl up with a blanket, and watch shows about the Alaskan winter. With the air conditioner on low and the blinds closed, I can almost pretend it's January. As one of the homesteaders said, "I tolerate summer for the abundance of winter." Amen, brother.

My favorite part about this house is all the places to explore outside. I haven't done much exploring yet due to the heat and humidity, but mostly because of the bugs. There are swarms of mosquitos and gnats, to the point that they were flying up my nose and in my mouth. One evening, my dad took us on a walk down one of the trails. It leads to a secret, circular lawn in the middle of the forest. It is downright magical and the coolest thing in the world. I want to make a fort and live there. I've been reading the Anne of Green Gables series, and there is always so much description of nature. I adore beautiful scenery as much as Anne does (minus the bugs and heat), and I think of her constantly here. She always talked about the White Way of Delight, Violet Vale, Lover's Lane, and I think this space needs an Anne Shirley name. All I've come up with so far is The Emerald Enchantment, and I think it fits pretty well.

I hadn't had my hair cut since I was here last fall, so my mom made me an appointment. I got several inches trimmed, and I feel like a brand new woman. While we were there, we had the hairdresser trim Gracie's hair. We talked about it last fall, and I decided it would be time when she was two, so I've been preparing myself ever since. Her hair was very uneven, but a tiny trim in the back evened it right up. Gracie was so upset over the whole thing until she was given a spray bottle to spray at the mirror. She had so much fun dousing us all in the water that she didn't even mind having her hair trimmed. The hairdresser put her hair in an envelope and dated it, and I was so thankful because I wasn't even thinking to save it, and I would've regretted it if I had forgotten.

My mom surprised me with a pedicure appointment after my haircut. I don't even remember the last time I had a pedicure. We tried to get one on my due date, but everyone was booked and we never made up for it. Over two years later, I finally got my pedicure. It was bliss. My mom sat just out of the room with Gracie and colored with her, and I sat in a dark room with my sparkling water. It felt like a tropical vacation. I was so relaxed I nearly fell asleep.

Gracie has been such a champ. She's been a bit off-schedule with waking up early and going to bed late, but the time change is mostly to blame for that. I've forced myself not to worry about it and just let her have fun. She's been wearing herself out to the point of asking for a nap and going right to sleep. She is having the time of her life running around the house, going on adventures, and exploring outside. Traveling with a two year old is night and day from traveling with an 18 month old. Not to mention, it's been so nice to have help with her. I left her with my mom yesterday morning and took myself on a long walk in the very hilly neighborhood. There's one very large, very steep hill that was not easy to scale in 100 degree temperatures. I don't think Anne Shirley would've been tempted to name that particular spot.

With all this heat, I need to visit my favorite coffeeshop for an iced coffee. Or as Anne and I call that place, the Caffeinated Cove of Comfort.


  1. Oh my goodness! I'm so glad you are having a blast. Those pics of G baby are so precious.

  2. I definitely think Anne Shirley would approve of your names! The house and land sound absolutely amazing. I'm glad you're having a good time and I hope some huge thunderstorms pass by!!

    Speaking of the Ingalls, one of my favorite games to play with my sister growing up was covered wagon. My sister and I would transform her daybed into a covered wagon and play for hours. I was always Ma and I usually made her be Grace. If we were really lucky, my mom would let Emily/Grace sleep in her sleeping bag overnight so we could leave the wagon set up to play in the next day. I'm come so far in my high maintenance transportation expectations!

  3. That's too funny that your parents are obsessed with shows about Alaska. If they start getting any crazy ideas about actually moving out to the middle of nowheresville, AK, let me know and I'll set them straight ;)

    I am SO glad that drive was so much better for you - and I'm already praying for the return trip. Hopefully she'll be just as sweet and talk nonstop about giving Daddy hugs soon!

  4. Haha, I love "The Emerald Enchantment"! Sounds like such a lovely time! Gwen is four years old, and I still haven't cut her hair (cough). I felt like she didn't need it for a while, but now I'm just putting it off.

  5. That all sounds so delightful. Enjoy the rest of your vacation!

  6. Sounds heavenly! You most definitely deserve this time of self-pampering and relaxation and calmness! It sounds like your parents have a beautiful property!! I'm glad the drive went well. I'll cross my fingers and say a prayer for your eventual journey home!!

  7. violently humid is maybe the best way I've ever heard this part of the country described. it is so spot on haha. so glad you got pampered a bit on your visit!

    1. Haha! It seriously feels like a punch in the face every time you set foot outside.

  8. haha, so good! I love all of it, especially the names. It sounds like you're in heaven! Have fun!


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