October in Virginia
We decided to take a vacation to Virginia last fall. I wanted to visit during the beautiful autumn because I hadn’t really been in my mountains when they changed color since before college. So we booked a flight and visited the Mikulas compound in late October.
We arrived to quite the collection of toys for Anna. There was a new desk, plenty of coloring instruments and books, a new Halloween quilt and book, and even several new outfits for the chilly weather…those Grandparents had been busy! Even amongst all the new, Anna remembered the old from our last visits. We had to visit the chickens nearly as soon as we arrived. And she remembered her tricycle too.
Jacob and Anna looked all around the house for Anna’s tricycle. They couldn’t find it so Jacob told Anna to ask Meme when she came back out front. Anna said, “Where is my red bicycle with a bell that goes *ding ding ding*.” She also knew where her keys were kept and went straight there to start up her tricycle.
On our first visit out to the chicken coop we made sure to feed the chickens. The chickens were very busy eating, all we could see were their tails. Anna was close and watching them. She turned her head to tell us, “the chickens are VERY hungry.” Then a minute later, one chicken pecked another and the bitten one cawed and Anna turned to run. She told us as she ran, “that chicken wasn’t hungry!”
Anna is a natural at country living. “Poppy!” She yelled across the yard. “Can I have something to drive?!” And that, my friends, explains life as Anna knows it with her grandfather. That same morning, she pulled Meme out into the field even though it started raining the second they got outside. She wouldn’t be deterred. She wandered up and down the field several times, kept looking back at Meme, “come on, Meme.” She always waved her hand to tell her to come on! She loved getting out her rake to help with the hay or the leaves. We all had trouble keeping up with her.
My little girl gets into sports just like the rest of us Mikulases. She was running around the living room while we had the football game on, cheering and jumping yelling “cheerleader!” Uncle Jonny would also keep her entertained with snakes, strings, and of course balls.
My sister got us all knitting this trip. She started a scarf then switched to a hat for Jonathan. I made a hat for Anna and then another hat for me, which is a little small but still fun. And my mother started a hat for my father too. It may seem neglectful that I didn’t make one for my man but let’s be honest, we live in San Antonio, and if it is cold enough to need a hat he won’t be outside long enough to actually put one on. Anna loved that we were all knitting and wanted to knit too. My mom also had borrowed a book from the library about a girl who knits. One night, while we were all knitting Anna sat down with us, her new sweater in hand and she started practicing buttoning it closed, her version of knitting. It was fun having a family project we could do in the quiet evenings.
My mother loves to play cards. And she was determined to teach Anna how to play UNO. Anna knows her numbers and colors and has a grasp on the idea of matching so it seemed a natural fit. We had to work on taking turns and other rules like when to shout “UNO!” or “Winner!” But Anna caught on quickly and would ask us all to play with her often throughout the trip. We all enjoyed it so much when she would win and her little arms would pump in the air together as she yelled, “winner!”
When we weren’t stuffing our faces with yummy steaks from the grill or pies from the oven, my mother kept us busy around town. Anna liked visiting the toy store, of course, and the post office (aka sucker factory). At the grocery store, we walked in the door and right by the carts was one that was small, made just for kids. Anna took on the task with joy and Meme spent the whole time running blocker protecting all the unsuspecting Kroger customers.
Rachel took so much time off of work to be with us and orchestrated a lot of fun outings while we were in town. Rachel and Jacob had never been to the D-Day Memorial in Bedford so we made a little trip up to see that together.
We went to the Go Outside festival in Roanoke. Anna loved trying out the slack lines and the hammocks. She hula hooped and crawled around in cardboard boxes.
We also got to check out the Taubmann, my hometown’s new(ish) art museum. They had some spectacular galleries and a great hands-on place for kids with dress up, craft stations, puzzles, and coloring.
Uncle Jonny and Auntie Rachel took us to a local farm and corn maze. We loved the petting zoo and the tractor rides. Anna couldn’t get enough of the slide but did have enough of the corn maze. Jacob carried her on his shoulders for a bit but she didn’t give us any navigational pointers. We picked out some pie pumpkins from the patch and were so glad that we can enjoy the seasons with our family sometimes.
Rachel and I had yet to show Jacob and Anna one of our local attractions, Dixie Caverns. We had to wait for a tour to start, even though we ended up being the only people in it, so we perused the antique mall right there. Anna noticed a blue paw print on the resident cat’s water dish, “a clue!” she told us. We didn’t quite understand her at first but once we saw that she had seen a “blue’s clue” we cracked up and agreed. In the caves, we saw hibernating bats and plenty of rock formations. Our tour guide was very patient with us. There were a ton of steps! He even kindly took our group’s picture, giving Anna a sweet halo.
Meme and Rachel joined us girls on an adventure out to Roaring Run for a tiny picnic one morning. I always hiked the trail and had never really stopped to see the remains of the mill built there. We explored and collected leaves. Fall in Virginia is so lovely.
Everyone needed some candy; it was Halloween season after all. So Meme pitched in her sewing skills to make Anna an awesome cow costume. The transformation into a cow permeated several areas in Anna’s life including renaming pony tails “cow tails.” She loved having a pocket in front and at the trunk or treat we went to in Daleville she was only misidentified once as a dalmatian. She was a bit shy at first, and stayed quiet all night, but once she figured out that loot was to be had, Anna quickly learned to say “trick or treat.”
We had a hard time leaving. Our visit with my family was so great. My parents spoiled my child rotten and Anna was in heaven spending so much time with them. Auntie was an awesome friend and we couldn’t believe all the time we got to spend with her! We loved taking care of the animals, exploring the trails, and having an adventure every day. Even the last day we still watered the chickens, and drew all over their patio with chalk. We traced one another and were sure to add tutus to the figures. Tutus make everything better to my 2.5 year old girl. We miss Virginia but we’ll be back soon, with another grandchild to spoil!