April 7, 2009


Where to start...

On Friday morning, bright and early, the four of us were up, two of us were dressed, and we were all out of the house by 7:30. We met my parents at a local Starbucks and convoyed it to Ohio. Unfortunately, it was monsooning out. So the drive was fun. Lots of fun.


And we were all in fine moods.

At some point, we stopped for lunch. Fries and milkshakes were had.
We hit the road again, the potatoes and time having returned some sanity. We arrived in Ohio eight hours after we'd left Virginia, crossing three other states (some twice, like West Virginia) in the process. There my grandmother finally got to meet Owen. And hang with The Bean.
Later that evening we proved to be clever parents by getting both kids to sleep in a single hotel room (two beds). That, of course, left us nothing else to do but hang out in the bathroom and eat cupcakes.
Two years ago, we took Mia to Ohio for my grandmother's 90th birthday. It was the single best sleep she'd gotten to date. We called it The Miracle of Zanesville. We hoped for a repeat. We got it. Owen slept. Mia slept. We slept. We were all rosy and bright-eyed in the morning. So we did what any sane person would do - we went to Bob Evans.
A dozen pancakes and even more cups of coffee later, we headed to my grandmother's house for some good family playing. Then at 11:00, we packed ourselves in the car and headed back home. None of us were very pleased about it but, well, honestly, we weren't prepared to stay in small-town Ohio for the rest of our lives. Luckily, the weather was much better.
So we headed back the way we'd come, stopping for more fries and more milkshakes on the way. McDonald's views on childcare scare me.

Eight hours later, home. Our own beds. Our own shower. Our own home.

My kids really impressed the hell out of me. I mean, I have to say that because I'm their dad but there are just times that both of them really go above and beyond the simple job of being good kids. Sixteen hours in a car is a long time. They almost never complained. Instead, they watched the states roll by, pointed at cows and, yes, started into the 10 inch screen of the portable DVD player we'd put in the car to bribe them with. Owen passed some of the time sleeping. Mia never slept. They were fantastic with family, wonderful in restaurants and a dream in the hotel. Man, they rock.

This weekend was important. It was important for Mia to hang with family. It was important for all of us to do the same. But perhaps most importantly, Owen got to meet his great grandmother. Before my grandfather descended into the unrecoverable depths of Alzheimer's, he pulled Beth aside and told her he'd really like a grandson. He was proud of our name and wanted it to be carried on. That's far less important to me but now that Owen's around, I think I understand where he was coming from. Regardless, my grandfather died before he could meet either of our kids. Which is a shame. Especially since Owen looks exactly like him and my father. That wasn't lost on my grandmother.

So, this weekend was long and involved way too much time in the car. But it was very much worth it. Because it was all about family.

PS - The complete set is up on Flickr.

Posted by Chris at April 7, 2009 6:45 AM

Beutiful family, Chris.

That is quite a typo at McDonald's.

Posted by: MariaV at April 7, 2009 7:05 AM

Great post. I feel like I went with you without having to spend 16 hours in the car.

Forget the McDonald's typo. Fix your own. It's not Zanesville. It's Zonesville. That's why the kids sleep.

And "hang out in the bathroom and eat cupcakes" -- that's code, right?

Posted by: Marshall Karp at April 7, 2009 7:44 AM

omg BABY HANGING STATION? that is hilarious. I'm glad you took pictures! And it looks like you guys had a blast. Where in Ohio were you? I think that's close to me. I *think*. LOL

Posted by: La Petite Belle at April 7, 2009 8:09 AM

You know, I really love you and Beth and the kids!

I buried my Dad this weekend and his grandsons (my sister's kids)didn't bring the kids to see him at all. Dad had been bedridden since July and they all live within a few miles of him. And they didn't do that! They didn't go see him.

I don't know if you read my blog on Sunday or not. (Probably not) but take a moment sometime. My Dad was a good guy, a music lover. He really deserved to see the his great-grandsons one more time.

Sorry. I'm just feeling so teary eyed still and your post made me smile (and cry with happiness) that I know two such wonderful people!

Posted by: Maribeth at April 7, 2009 8:22 AM

I'll have to admit, Ohio is one of my least favorite states because it always seemed to go on forever whenever I've had to drive through it. Though that looks like it's not going to happen again any time soon.

Glad you had a good trip. Now I want a milkshake and Mickey D fries for lunch...

Posted by: alektra at April 7, 2009 8:24 AM

I love the photos but mostly I love sentiment at the end of the post because it is true and sometimes it is hard to remember... what the next generation means to the previous generation both in life and death. I want to say more but I am not sure I can come up with the proper words. I am little down and out about things lately having to do with family so thank you for the reminder of what is good about doing stuff like this...

Also, if I recall correctly we havde stopped somewhere in OH a couple of times and our son slept well in the hotels in that state (not in Zanesville, near Columbus...) Maybe Ohio is not hell as we previously thought?!

Posted by: Christina at April 7, 2009 8:57 AM

That's a wonderful thing that you did, well worth the hours of travel. The Cactus-Fish family really are good people, huh! Family is everything and I think it's wonderful when people understand that.

Posted by: diane at April 7, 2009 9:00 AM

only two hour away and no visit?...just kidding...glad you had such a wonderful opportunity to visit grandma...i miss mine ...ALOT she lives in AZ. nice pics

Posted by: becky at April 7, 2009 9:18 AM

Sounds like your kids did great. I hope mine do as well next month; once a year I load them up and we make the thousand mile drive from Southern California north to see my family. That long of a drive with little ones is always an adventure! :-)

Posted by: Steph at April 7, 2009 9:50 AM


Posted by: Arwen at April 7, 2009 10:03 AM

Glad you had fun! And I'm also glad no one peed or puked in the car. :) And, of course, that you got back safely.

Posted by: jessica at April 7, 2009 11:14 AM

Kupcakes? Krap! Karp got to it first. That's what I get for having a job.

Dude, haven't you heard of wrestling? It's what all parents are doing when the kids wake up in the middle of the night at a hotel. Some parents wrestle a LOT. And Dad always seems to be winning...

Seriously, it looks like you had a great time. All the stress & strain of a road trip with kids is forgotten and they'll only remember the awesome family time and the importance placed on it. Oh, no, YOU'LL never forget it. But you'll do it again because it's a great thing to do!

Posted by: harmzie at April 7, 2009 11:46 AM

Awesome. My father died many years before my son was born. (He doesn't exactly carry on the family name since I'm a daughter, but I did give my maiden name to Elijah as a middle name.)Anyway, I like to think my dad knew Elijah before I did.

Also? Mia has beautiful hair.

Posted by: kalisa at April 7, 2009 12:21 PM

i am so thrilled for you that the kids were amazing.
do you think they could my kids a thing or two...because road trips with them? NIGHTMARE

Posted by: ali at April 7, 2009 12:36 PM

I simply cannot imagine an 8 hour drive. As I suspect I have said before, we run out of country by that time over here. And isn't it great when our children exceed our expectations!

Posted by: Loth at April 7, 2009 1:21 PM

Y'all lucked out with your travel sleep - because travelling with my kids means that no one sleeps and then I go cuh-razy.

So glad you got to spend time with fam and that your grandmother got to meet your beautiful kids. I'm so glad my grandmother got to meet both of my children before passing away a few years ago.

Posted by: sarah at April 7, 2009 2:07 PM

Looks like you had a memorable time with your family! Not to go all morbid on you, but my whole family was together this past week for my grandmother's funeral - she was almost 89. Now the times we had together with her and the pictures we took over the past 28 years of my life are even more precious to me now than they were then. And I'm so glad for pictures we got at Xmastime of her with our now 18 month old daughter. It's always worth the effort to make the trip to visit family, isn't it!

Posted by: Melanie at April 7, 2009 3:20 PM

You look just like your dad too. [Now I know what Bryan's dad looked like, whew.]

Posted by: Aimee Greeblemonkey at April 7, 2009 4:00 PM

So true, it is worth the umpteen hours holed up in a car/train/plane just to get to see those people you love. That is what life is all about.

Posted by: Danielle at April 7, 2009 4:44 PM

I see you've already had one death story, but I'll add another. My grandmother just passed away a week and a half ago, just days after her 90th birthday. With both grandparents on that side of the family now deceased and only one other grandmother living (and can't remember half of her 14 children... therefore can't remember me), none of my grandparents will ever meet my children. I was hoping this one would hold on for a bit longer, but no luck. My aunts and uncles are going to the memorial service this Saturday, and while I would really love to be there I am sad to say that I will not be. Edmonton, Alberta is too far and too expensive at the moment (which makes me sad).

You are very lucky to be able to still have your grandmother here to spend time with your children, even is she is all the way over here in Ohio. Also, sorry about the weather...

Posted by: Laura at April 7, 2009 6:11 PM

What a great trip! I'm glad your grandmother was able to meet Owen. Really, there's nothing quite like a family road trip. Our son was a great traveler as my in-laws lived 5 hours away and we went to visit them at least once a month when we lived in California.
Now I want a MikeyD's vanilla milkshake!

Posted by: NancyJak at April 7, 2009 8:18 PM

What a great trip! I am glad the kids were so well behaved and that you got some quality time with family...it really is so important. Some people think the whole "carrying on the family name" is sexist or whatever. I don't see it that way at all. Our first son is Michael Peter IV and every time all four of them are in the same room, it gives me this amazing feeling. You guys have a wonderful family!!

Posted by: Jane in Pa at April 7, 2009 9:53 PM

As a former resident of WV, I must say that I am sorry you had to drive through twice. At least it's pretty.

And also as a former resident of WV, I must say that Bob Evans is the greatest place in the world. If you go once every year or so.

Posted by: Miss Em at April 8, 2009 10:36 AM

Beautiful pictures, as always.
But I must say, I'm surprised at the two trips to McDonald's....Burger King has Veggie burgers, you know.

Posted by: fauve at April 9, 2009 8:54 AM

My wife is from small town Ohio, so I know the hell of which you speak (write).

Posted by: Gramps at April 9, 2009 3:55 PM

Oh yes, she also worked at a Bob Evans in small town Ohio.

Posted by: Gramps at April 9, 2009 3:56 PM