Sorry this final vacation post was so long in the making (or writing, I guess). I had great intentions of posting all three last week. But to be honest the past week or two were hard for me. And it was slightly torturous writing about such a happy time for my family when I felt so heavy inside. The weight is easing a bit, though, and I'm ready to finish this up. So without further ado...
I jump from bed with the speed of a mom on a mission. In this case, packing, dressing, feeding, and moving my family from one country to another (a relatively common practice for us these days).
A certain tiny son of ours proved an obstacle to this mission, unusually grumpy and prone to unexpected tears. But we moved on and out, with the easy explanation that he was, in fact, two years-old. And from our past experience this seemed explanation enough.
We chose the scenic route, figuring it the best way to see Slovenia. And besides, when we entered Italy, we wanted to know we were entering Italy, not just changing from one highway system to another.
Three hours later, halfway through what was supposed to be a two and a half hour car trip, we started to rethink that decision. Particularly at the end of a painfully short nap, ending in frantic, inconsolable tears for our little one. And for the first time since "the fall" nothing helped.
So finally, finally, I realized something was wrong. Possibly very wrong. We stopped as soon as possible and gently pulled him from the car. We filed out and crossed the street, and as Finny snuggled against my shoulder I slowly swayed before a large, sculptured fountain, hoping the running water would distract him. My plan worked and he calmed down just long enough for us to spot an ice cream stand across the street. In the suddenly mediterranean atmosphere and climate it seemed the perfect solution.
Two vanilla cones later and the boys were running around with sticky smiles. The only remnant of Finn's pain, a right arm that sagged suspiciously down and forward. When I saw the limp limb at his side I panicked.
Six hours from home on a Friday afternoon and I still prepared to pack it up and head back to Budapest.
But my sensible husband created a better plan. We would drive to the bed and breakfast in Italy, from there call the doctor, and, if she felt it necessary, take him to the nearest hospital.
It saved us six, torturous hours in the car, so I agreed, but made the steadfast decision to refrain from enjoyment of any kind until I knew what was wrong with my baby... and how to fix it. So I tried my best to ignore the fields of perfectly aligned olive trees, the wide open, blue sky, the beautiful sign on the edge of the highway proclaiming "Outlets."
And although Finn was all smiles and laughter from ice cream cone on, I worried and fretted my way to Italy, where, under flower-adorned arbor, we finally put our car to rest.
As soon as we found our room I connected to the internet and called our doctor. After hours of poking and prodding I finally pinpointed the cause of his pain. A spot on his collar bone, which, when pressed, caused an accelerating, "Owie, owie, owie!" I explained all this to the doctor, along with his sagging arm, and the details of his fall, now four days earlier.
She seconded my prognosis (courtesy of WebMD)... most likely a broken collarbone. We were welcome to drive back and bring him in, she told us, but should the X-ray confirm our suspicions, we would be told there is nothing we can do, and to go home. So unless his pain increased, she recommended we finish our vacation, perhaps pin up his arm, and come in on Monday. (I will surely post sometime in the future on our fabulous doctors here in Hungary, and how I actually like taking my kids there.)
With the doctor's approval, and our baby's arm pinned up in a makeshift sling, I started enjoying myself. We located a restaurant nearby and enjoyed a delicious, authentic Italian meal. The boys finished an entire pizza themselves, Joel a large bowl of pasta, and me, a calzone the size of my head. As we left the waiter kissed Finny's cheeks, and we couldn't help but smile as we drifted off to sleep... to be in a land where babies are kissed and smiles are shared and, in a few short hours, streets of water, spotted with magical gondolas, awaited.
The boys could barely wait. They spent approximately five hours watching the same 20-minute episode of Wonder Pets on our trip out. An episode we downloaded specifically for the setting... Venice.
So as the boy's sang, "Let's save the kitten!" we boarded a bus and set off for the city of water.
I'll skip the boring parts (because it's late and I'm tired, and if things get too dull I expect Joel will find me asleep on this armchair in the morning).
The beauty of Venice captured, if not surpassed, the scenes from our imagination (though I think we held a fairly accurate picture from that episode of Wonder Pets).
We started out at St. Mark's Basilica. The kids played trains on the colored, stone squares while Joel enjoyed some peaceful time in the church.
From there, we explored, and the cheap fun of running through narrow passageways, stopping only where water met land, became the day's grand event. Aiden was thrilled to lead the way, and his brother to toddle after him, gimpy arm and all.
We found a comparatively cheap place for lunch. And while we never expected hot dogs on our pizza, it was a nice break in the day (and I learned that the surprising combination was actually quite delicious).
After lunch we cruised the narrow canals, our hefty contribution to the obligatory Venetian gondola business. But in the end, even though I had to hold Finn's belt loops just to keep him from going overboard, and even though I found myself analyzing life-saving tactics at each new turn, those things really are magical. One of those moments that doesn't need a picture because it's imprinted in your mind.
On our way back home the boys stopped to feed a plethora of pigeons, which I thought was gross, but they seemed to really enjoy. All three of them.
And so our adventure wound down, and we fell asleep with the expectation of home.
Nine hours later (including a shortish layover at the outlets) we spotted the lights of Budapest. The coming home was both comforting and disappointing for me. Normal end-of-vacation blues, I suppose. That and the nagging idea that the "home" to which I returned found me still, very much, a foreigner.
The next day, after a short round of x-rays, our suspicions were confirmed. Finn did indeed fracture his collar bone. Cracked all the way through, but not separated. Simply a matter of time and caution.
Our life continues here is Budapest. Some days harder than others. But it is still early and there is so much hope, so much untapped potential. And like those passageways in Venice, you just can't know what you'll find right around the corner.