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The day we headed back home started with the loading of the car and heading to breakfast at a place we can’t eat at regularly. This place was mainly for me, but we all loved it.

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Mad Hatter’s Tea House and Cafe was awesome. Fantastic options, many of which were healthy choices, plus you pick your own tea cup when you order a pot of tea.

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The decor was right up my alley. My favorite book since childhood has been Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and to start the end of our trip at a place based around this book was perfect for me.

After a lovely breakfast we filled up the gas tank and started the 10 hour drive home. We made a lot of bathroom stops for my middle son, and found some interesting places along the way. There were no check-in times to worry about, no schedule to keep, so the stress of “go-go-go” was a non-issue.

At one of the stops, my mom, the middle, and the oldest went on a potty break, and the youngest and I walked around to get the blood flowing into our legs. There were hundreds of yellow butterflies flitting about, and his squee’s of joy echoed back to us. The beauty of the butterflies and his delight in them made my heart smile.

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We had a plan to take the boys to a lake my dad used to go to as a boy, so we could give them a piece of his history, and show him photos of the boys enjoying a place he once played at. The rules have changed in the decades between his time there, and ours. So the boys didn’t get to play in the lake. But they did fly a kite and we had a picnic in the shade.

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Mom and I knew the next leg of the trip was going to be quite barren, so we hoped the lunch break and play time would help wear them out enough for a nap. It didn’t quite work out this way, but there were a few moments of peace.

I had planned the money out perfectly, as the last gas tank refill was the last of every dime I had saved and pinched and budgeted for the trip, and it was the last fill we needed to get home.

We hit the border patrol a little way from town just as the sun was setting, and pulled into the driveway just as the sky grew black. The cat was ecstatic to see us, and the boys kept her busy while mom and I unloaded the car, got our things separated, unloaded the ice chest, and put some things away.

The boys got ready for bed, and we all called it an early night.

Our first family vacation. It was perfect, even with heartbreak and surprises thrown into the mix. I wouldn’t change a moment of it.

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