Tuesday, July 1, 2008

There's No Place Like Home

We just came back from our much-anticipated and much-needed family vacation to Colorado. It was just what the doctor ordered, for all three of us. As we drove past the Vegas city limits with the smoggy seedy town behind us and open desert in front of us, I could literally feel "Funkytown" dropping away. The road trip itself was so much better than I could have hoped for. J handled it beautifully, and I am not lying when I say this is the least stress we've had travelling with him (Thank God for portable DVD players, coloring books...and a Slinky. Who knew?). I hate to admit this but I'm so glad he's still not potty trained, I think that made it easier. We lasted through a 12-hour drive with only one real "pit stop" and no tantrums, crying, or whining. Amazing.
This trip back home was interesting for so many reasons. As we drove down I-70 TH and I reminisced about the last time we were on that road, when we moved from Colorado to Vegas 2 weeks after I graduated from vet school (4 years ago). Then, it was me, TH, and our cat Yoda in a U-Haul, dragging our little 3-cylinder Chevy Metro behind us. We didn't own anything except a mountain of student loan debt and that little car. I had yet to touch my first "real" patient, and TH was leaving a good job so I could pursue my career. We moved into a little crappy apartment across the street from my new job so I could walk to work since we only had the one car (with no air-conditioning! In Vegas! And that's the only car we had for a year and a half!!). Thanks to the forced poverty of vet school we were maxed out on our credit cards with over six figures (!) of student loans to pay off between the two of us. J wasn't even a spot on the horizon at that time...when I graduated from vet school I wasn't even sure I wanted kids, imagine that.

As we talked about that crazy time in our lives, I really started to appreciate just how far we've come in four short years. I'm no longer a new grad; I act and feel and practice like a doctor with a little experience. I'm on my second job as a vet after realizing how important work-life balance really is. After dying a spectacular death we said goodbye to the Chevy Metro and now have two almost-new cars. We're out of credit card debt -- as a matter of fact we've lived without credit cards since the day we moved here. We just bought a house. To Yoda's dismay we now have two cats and a dog. AND A KID. What a difference a couple of years makes...

Anyway the trip was magnificent. It was fun to go back home as tourists -- we went to the zoo, the museum, and the waterpark, as well as taking J up to Boulder to visit our old stomping grounds, the University of Colorado. We ate alot and let J stay up late watching movies and went on a date night without paying a babysitter. I can't really describe how homesick I am after this trip. J had a blast hanging out with his older cousins, and I loved being able to spend so much time with my sisters and friends. We built a whole life in Colorado before we left -- family, people we grew up with, friends from undergrad and vet school and work. I didn't realize how many people we've been missing over the past few years. We capped off the week with a huge family picnic that was more of a mini family reunion, with aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends that we haven't seen all together in one place in years. Not to mention how great it was to spend 9 uninterrupted days with the 3 of us, no work or daycare to rush off to. I'm kind of ashamed to admit that's the longest consecutive time I've spent with J since...well, since he started going to daycare. How sad is that? Needless to say we were sad to come home. J actually cried when TH dropped him off at daycare yesterday morning, which he has NEVER done since he started going there at 6 months old. Honestly as I was running around at work yesterday with dogs barking, phones ringing, and messages piling up on my desk, I could understand how he felt.
So now for the pictures. I took over 300 pictures over 6 days! Here are a few highlights:
J on the playground at the family picnic. Yes! Thanks to the influence of Older Cousins he finally went down a big-boy slide by himself!

Road-trippin'. Some people do sandwiches, some people do fried chicken, some people do fast food....J does pancakes. Easy to make, easy to handle, mess-free.
J and Daddy at the Discovery Zone in the Museum of Nature and Science.

And we thought J had a big head...

Visiting the firehouse of Uncle L.D., the Real-Life Firefighter.

Running through the student union fountain at the place where TH and I Really Got Serious About Each Other -- CU Boulder. How strange to be the Older Folks on the college campus, snickering when an overly earnest kid with a clipboard asks us if we want to participate in a survey about "the injustice of CU's policy against serving beer at football games" and then laughing out loud when he tells us we "have to be legal drinking age for this survey." On second thought that kind of made my day. It was almost as good as getting carded.

My old dorm, Sewall Hall. Thirteen years later! Eh. I feel old. (On a sidenote I don't think there's any arguing that CU has one of the most gorgeous campuses on the planet. Trees, grass, the Flatiron Mountains in the background shrouded in fog in the mornings...)
Mommy and J at another old stomping ground, the Denver Zoo. Let me just say that in the 8 years since I was a zookeeper there, they have really made it into a world-class zoo. If you're ever in Denver you should check it out. It was a very weird deja vu feeling being back at DZ. I was a zookeeper for 3 years before vet school. I still clearly remember feeding fish to the penguins outside in the summer and shoveling up frozen zebra and bison poop in the winter. And the "Bat Cave Incident." Another story for another day.

J's cousins Cami and Xavier. (Twin sister's kids. Ack! They're growing up too fast!!)

Ice cream at the zoo. A perfect day.

Daddy and J preparing for the Stroller-lympics in the zoo parking lot. Seriously must we do this every time Daddy pushes the stroller?

"You Kids." J's new term, from us saying it alot while we were there ("You kids go outside and play, you kids go downstairs to eat dinner.") He's still asking for them every day. "I wanna go play wit you kids."


adaZm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gLobeY said...

So THAT'S where you've been! Welcome back! Those are some great pictures that capture the trip nicely. My parents lived in Denver from 1995-2005, so I visited them frequently. Colorado is so beautiful! I didn't know you went to school in Boulder, it's one of my favorite cities in CO. Great vibe, my kind of town!

Oops. I posted the other comment, but forgot the laptop was still signed in as my husband. Ignore that last comment :)

JenFen said...

Aww. What a wonderful post encapsulating all the feelings you had about your trip. And how far you have come, that is amazing. I hope after you get past the vacation hangover you find the trip was just what you need to rejuvinate yourself.

Mountain Mom said...

Two things: First, I wish I had known you were coming to CO! It might have been fun to meet up at the zoo. Next time, maybe? Second, my first cat (and the one to which all cats thereafter have been compared to...she was the best cat ever) was named Yoda, too. Third, I love the new look. Great job! Ok, that was three things. :)