My youngest will get on a school bus for the first time Wednesday afternoon.
And I am struggling with it.
I mentioned on Instagram this weekend that I am one of those "weird" parents that gets sad this time of year.
My mom was the same way.
I miss my kids when they go back to school.
Yes, I know, its nice to get a break and all but in the summer we aren't as scheduled or all over the place.
Random sleepovers happen.
We can eat dinner at 3 if we want.
We stay up late.
I personally love having them home in the summer.
So seeing the backpacks lined up, the school supplies in the bags waiting to be used, the new clothes hanging in the closet for the first day......it makes me blue.
On Friday night, I was all alone and I watched Rhoda, ate salt and vinegar chips and a glass of wine.
WHERRRRRE IS THEIR CHILDHOOOOOD GOIIIINGGGG????
On a side note: I may or may not have been pre-menstrual.
I need to be in full menopause when they leave for college.
Or on meds.
I hate that my parents live far away.
I really do.
I realized how far away they live from me when I had to drive it this past week.
11 hours of driving, by the way.
Seven of which were in Illinois.
That's a whole lot of Illinois.
But as much as I hate how far they live, I love where they live.
It's very easy on the eyes down there.
The entire state from border to border on highway 24 is eye candy for nature lovers.
Mountains, green hills, rocky plateaus....I didn't even really see a plateau, I just made that up.
But you get where I am coming from.
It's pretty darn awesome.
No wonder those country artists write such damn good songs.
They are happy.
Because they have pretty rocky plateaus to look at.
The incline railway.
Aka- choo choo of death.
I really need to work for the Chattanooga tourism board.
It was so steep you could see below through the TOP of the rail car.
This, however, was my view for most of the ride:
Ok not gonna lie, I had a hard time with this.
Going up the hill was actually harder on me than going down the hill.
Especially at the tippy top.
Because you are almost facing directly down the mountain when you get to the top.
But you get a reward when you get to the top.
You are still alive.
Please don't make me go back down the scary choo choo.
See that parking lot down there to the right?
That's where we had to go.
I didn't take this picture, by the way.
My adopted daughter for the week, Hailey, took it.
Because, you know, scary choo choo.
The above was the incline we were on while waiting to go down the mountain.
I took this picture while my head was buried in my mom's shirt.
Those are two of "my girls" ahead of us.
Lookin' all non-chalant.
Meanwhile, I was looking for a barf bag.
When I was able to open my eyes at all.
My view the entire ride down.
Thank you mommy.
On the way to the Smoky Mountains, we all got a little slap happy in the van.
So we started adding ""y'all" to everything we said.
And really, it makes everything seem happier.
Case in point:
I got diarreah, y'all!
It even makes diarreah sound friendly!
I love the South.
Pretty rocks in the Smoky Mountains, y'all!
My favorite stop off in the mountains.
The Ocoee River.
Where the 1996 Olympic rafting event was held.
They diverted the river this day.
So that's why you see more rock than water.
The lady who worked at the visitor center said they use these as "swimming holes" during the week.
She had me at "swimming hole".
Bear-proof garbage can.
Rafts heading down the road.
This is gonna be where I get to check my whitewater rafting off my bucket list.
And I had a wonderful idea!
Getting my blogging buddies to do a whitewater/zipline/cabin weekend together!!
Jen, Shannon, Marianne, Jeanette?
I can hear Jen saying, "awww hell noooo" from here.
But what a blog post that would be.....
We didn't eat here but I wish we did.
Instead we ate here.
Where the bathrooms were in Georgia and the rest of the joint was in Tennessee.
Shout out to the staff here.
Made us feel like family.
In fact, the whole town was divided.
AND McCaysville, Georgia.
Sitting on my parents screen porch.
Eating a peach.
It just doesn't get much better.
I got to walk across the Tennessee River in downtown Chattanooga, y'all!!
The Delta Queen on the Tennessee River.
It doesn't get much more South than that.
Hip Frazier Avenue in Chattanooga was the bomb.
Chickamauga Battlefield over the Georgia border was amazing.
AND I got to spend a few hours alone with my mama and dad so that made it even more amazing.
Can you feel the history?
How can something so beautiful have such a violent past?
Chattanooga Market was so cool.
These tops.THESE TOPS!
OK so I don't normally freak out over things.Unless it is covered in chocolate.
But these tops.
As soon as they came into sight, I ran, RAN, over to this booth.
I think I may even have startled the owner a little.
I was maybe a little "enthusiastic" when seeing this booth of awesomeness.
"Enthusiastic" or "nut job crazy".
I wanted the top on the left but they didn't have it in my size.
If you make another, I want one.
PLEASE MAKE ANOTHER ONE!!
I did get this pattern though:
You really need to go there.
I mean it.
I would eat these patterns for dinner if I could.
I would have ripped that sign down if no one was looking.
I love signs.
And signs about peaches.
Pretzels the size of your face.
They didn't market them this way.
I think they should.
In the South they call pop SODA.
It would serve you well to learn this before you go.
Because if you order a pop, they will look at you like you are "enthusiastic".
OK so let me set up the next picture.
My mom and I wore matching outfits on our last day there.
But we wanted a pic of us together in our "matching outfits" because 1) we never get a pic of us together and B) uhh hellooo, "matching outfits".
So we were at this cool restaurant we like in Chattanooga and we saw this mural and needed a picture in front of it.
The sign says BIG IS BETTER.
And we are standing under it.
I like to think my gramma in Heaven was chuckling a little at that karmic product placement.
Oh and by the way, I am literally saying to my dad, "did you take it vertically so we can see our "matching outfits"" as he took the picture.
You cannot make our life up.
By the way, meet my mama.
She is the peanut butter to my jelly.
Or the beanie to my Zac Brown.
Rita's Ice in downtown Chattanooga.
We had this for lunch one day.
And we helped the girl behind the counter with the spider problem at her apartment.
Did you know that at the Chattanooga Choo Choo you can actually stay the night in a real train car??
This is a hotel.
Last night tradition.
Ballatore on the porch.
In our "matching outfits".
This trip solidified how much I love the South, the people, the beauty.
I can't wait to go back.
It also solidified how dearly I miss my parents.
We left at five in the morning to drive home.
In the dark and foggy curves of the mountain roads, with Carrie Underwood playing softly in the background and the girls quietly sleeping, I vowed, with tears in my eyes, that I would be back for good someday.
"'Til I see you again. This is not where it ends. I will carry you with me. "Til I see you again."