You know that cabin fever has gotten the best of you when you find yourself wistfully daydreaming about childbirth because it will get you out of the house for a few days. I'm coming to accept that small, frequent outings are the cost of mental health maintenance for an extroverted stay-at-home-mom and her extroverted children. It's something we are simply hardwired to need.
Last night we went on what our family likes to call a Surprise Adventure. Surprise Adventures are exercises in spontenaiety. Sometimes Zach and I plan them in advance, notifying the kids only at the last moment, and sometimes we just get up and go with no real idea ourselves of what the outing will bring. Some are big deals, some are a trip to the bakery or a drive in the country. The only rule is that there is no complaining. Adventure is about going with the flow, following where the trail leads you and appreciating the journey. It's not about getting exactly what you wanted or planned.
Last night kids had taken their baths and were ready to get dressed for bed when we told them that instead of putting on their pajamas, we wanted them to get dressed. They excitedly obliged, wondering out loud if they'd need socks or fancy dresses or outdoor gear in an effort to prise some kind of information out of us on where we might be headed.
We piled into the car, the kids guessing which direction it would go and how long it would take us to get there. We arrived at our originally intended destination, a kid-friendly coffee shop in St Paul, where we realized that Daddy had forgotten his wallet. Back in the car. Back to the house. We still had an hour and fifteen minutes before they closed, so we'd be fine. The kids stayed postive.
When we arrived back at the coffee shop we found, to our dismay, that it had inexplicably closed an hour early. Deep breaths. That is, after all, what Surprise Adventures are about, rolling with the punches.
We ended up at Perkins drinking cocoa and eating mozzarella sticks. There is no disappointment, in my experience, that cannot be soothed with deep fried cheese.
Their cocoa, laced with a bit of canned whipped cream, reminded me of a roadtrip I took with my grandparents as a kid from Phoenix to Disneyland and San Diego. It was the first time I ever had hot chocolate with whipped cream. I told them how we arrived in San Diego at night and my grandparents couldn't find our hotel.
I kept seeing the sign for the hotel exit, only to be sushed repeatedly because of course, the grown-ups were talking. After half an hour of searching and an accidental intrusion onto a military base, we ended up at a run down motel with a hole in the wall diner attached that served what to my memory is still the best hot chocolate I have ever tasted. My sister and I drank four cups of it while my grandparents and great-aunts griped about having to stay at this low rent motel. I told them I had seen the sign for the other hotel six times only to be scolded, "well why didn't you tell us?"
One story lead to another, from Zach's first taste of cocoa with whipped cream (in which an entire can of whipped cream was obliterated) to the kid's own memories about our travels with them and finally, on to plans of future travel and places we wanted to see. Physically our adventure took us about five miles from our house, but it had all the effect of a vacation to far flung places.
We got home two hours after their bedtime, both of the older kids asleep in the back seat, the baby, who is made of steel, still wide awake for the moment. And the coffee shop we originally intended to go to? That is now today's adventure.