The flip side of our August home exchange happened at Thanksgiving. While the Park City family was at our house, we went on a three-city road trip. 

We spent one night in Lexington with mom and dad. Mom can't travel anymore so if was good to spend the night with them at their house. Mom wasn't doing well Friday night, but on Saturday morning she was happy to have us there, hugged Hamish, Kyle and I, and watched the Manimal play. 

After lunch we drove down to Starkville to get to Jonathan and Kathryn's in time for MK's 4th birthday. It was a campfire party. We started at the house and then took a hayride around the lake to where a big fire pit was set up. We roasted hot dogs and sat around the fire while the kids played. Kathryn made a beautiful fiery birthday cake and we sang happy birthday and had cake around the fire before hay-riding back to the house.

After the birthday we stayed another several days in Mississippi. I had to work on Monday and Tuesday, but could easily work in the little apartment Nana rented while everyone played at home. Sunday and Monday Kathryn's mom and grandmother stayed and we had a great time playing games. Tuesday evening we had our family Thanksgiving dinner. We definitely missed mom and dad, but it was still a happy Thanksgiving and a happy 4th birthday.

South Carolina

All day Wednesday we drove from Mississippi to South Carolina. We've only attempted this long haul once before, when Hamish was a baby. It took us about 12 hours that time, stopping to nurse and change diapers. This time we made it in 9. 

Kathryn had asked me what the kids did on long drives since we don't have a DVD player in our car. I said, well, they look at books or play. On this trip we brought Hamish some markers and a laminated sheet to color on. The theory was the sheets would wipe off and we could reuse them. 

As we started talking about lunch on Wednesday, Hamish started giggling. "Mommy, you are going to laugh so hard when you see me!" she said. More giggling. "I have a surprise for you!" Even more giggling. 

When we finally stopped for lunch and I opened the back door, she couldn't contain herself. "Don't I look silly?"

I had to admit that she did. Then I texted Kathryn a picture, and we paraded through Ruby Tuesday's to take a sponge bath (and selfies) in the ladies room.

We spent Thursday through Saturday in South Carolina. Unfortunately, Kyle spent most of that time immobilized. He'd thrown his back out on Tuesday lifting both the Manimal and AC at the same time. The drive on Wednesday went smoothly, but he was in serious pain by Thursday. We tried a few urgent care sites but of course nothing was open. Thankfully, Uncle Roy had some muscle relaxers so Kyle mixed those with recommended pain meds. He still missed Thanksgiving dinner and was laid up on Friday. 

Thankfully, family came to the house to see us. Roy and Bev and Vangie and Joe all came to the house to visit while Kyle rested in the recliner (and Hamish cuddled with Mimi).

Saturday Kyle rallied a bit. Hamish and I got out of the house to go see her very first movie in the theater, The Peanuts Movie. 

All through the week our guests texted us updates. They went to the Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame, Opryland, and the General Jackson showboat. They went for walks in our neighborhood and watched Netflix movies. They took a tour of stars' homes and went to a Christmas special concert at the Ryman. They had dinner at the Wildhorse Saloon and lunch at the Hermitage. Their visit was full and they were so great about updating us. It was such fun to hear what all they were doing. 

Sunday we all headed home. When we got back to Nashville we spent one night with Jennifer because the Park City family was leaving mid-day on Monday. We got back home after our lunch, and couldn't believe how clean and well cared for everything was. The house was spotless. All of the sheets were washed. They left a ton of food and drink and treats including a poinsettia with their thank you note! 

It was a long week, but a good one, and most of the trip would have happened regardless of a home exchange. A summer trip to Utah was really just icing. 

(Plus our house has never been so clean when leaving or returning!)