Monday, February 28, 2011

Road Trip: Part I

I feel like a celebrity. A rock star. Someone famous. Actually, just a Sarah-plain-and-tall kind of person who has a few friends who missed my regular blog updates. Thanks for asking where I've been! Your flattery immediately went to my head, but has since left - promise.

Last Saturday morning, our family loaded up the mini van and took off for a massive road trip to Michigan. It had been almost a year and a half since we were there to see family and I was chomping at the bit to get home and see everyone. And, of course, to show off Miss Annalyse before she was walking or talking or doing some other growing-up-way-too-fast kind of thing.

Because I have several hundred pictures to sort through, lots of stories to tell, and many waiting family members back home, I'm going to make a few posts about our trip. Not interested in seeing my kids hug great grandma or play in the snow? No problem... just plan to wait a a few days before stopping by to see what's new here.

We had everyone and everything packed and ready to go by 7:45 am - just 15 minutes past our hoped for departure time. Not too bad. 

Despite wall to wall and floor to ceiling suitcases, boxes, coats, snacks, and toys, the kids rode amazingly well. However, before we had even left NC, Annalyse had a diaper blowout (through her diaper, onesie, and outfit); Micah spilled a cup full of juice all over himself (how he managed that with a sippy cup, I'm not sure);  and Grady Lee had a minor meltdown when several truck drivers didn't honk despite his arm frantically pumping up and down (perhaps it was the pile of boxes next to him or the small, tinted window in the back of the van...).

Our first leg of the trip was eight hours and that landed us in Columbus, OH to stay the night with wonderful college friends. The boys were ecstatic to get out of the car and run and jump and yell with three other boys their age. And, they are still talking about the "soccer game we played in their basement because their Mommy has much different rules than you (I) do."
The kids played and the adults tried to talk a mile a minute to catch up on life. When we sat down for dinner we shared a laugh together: look at what we've done in just 10 years since graduation! Seven kids was not what our late-night dorm parties were all about.

We got on the road early the next day to finish our trip to Grand Rapids, MI. My mom had clued us in to a possible snow storm heading that way later in the day and we hoped to get there before it arrived.
No such luck. Our last hour and a half of the trip was slow going. Seemingly, out of no where the snow suddenly started and traffic began to crawl.

The boys, of course, were happy to see the snow and began to yell and jump around (as best as you can jump when you're strapped in a car seat). This, of course, scared Annalyse and she started to wail. This, of course, annoyed me since we were almost there and I was sick and tired of being in the car with needy little kids. And all of this, of course, happened unbeknown to Grady since he had earphones in and was busy listening to a podcast while focusing on the roads. Sigh.
We got to Grandpa and Grandmas and in a matter of minutes Grandma had the boys outside playing in the snow.
After getting lots of pent-up energy out, they came in for some hot chocolate with loads of marshmallows. Grady Lee informed me that "Grandma gives us lots more marshmallows than you do, Mom. I like her hot chocolate better." Don't get used to it, kid, the spoiling stops once we leave Grandma's house.
After hot chocolate it was time to get dinner ready. Grandma had a homemade calzone recipe and she put the boys to work assembling it. Micah, in his typical stubborn and independent fashion, decided to make his in his own unique way, and although we weren't sure how it would turn out, it ended up tasting okay. It didn't look pretty, but it tasted yummy.
Meanwhile, Grandpa kept Annalyse happy and enjoyed some long-overdue one-on-one time. He hadn't seen her since the week she was born, and now that she's five months, she is a completely different little person. I'm pretty sure Grandpa is smitten with his newest Sweetie.
After dinner, Grady and I relaxed by the fire while Grandma played games with the boys.
When games got boring, Grandma brought out a whole new realm of fun when she handed the boys roasting sticks and marshmallows. Non-stop fun, I tell you, non-stop fun.
(Whew! Are you tired of reading yet? Cause that was just an overview of the first two days... still five more to go.)

The next day, Grandma kept my little men busy in the kitchen doing what all Grandma's like to do with their grandkids: bake! Extended family was stopping by for coffee and dessert over the next two evenings and Grandma made it the boys job to get the desserts ready.
And, every good baker deserves a taste test of his work!
I think Annalyse was in a bit of a funk while we were in MI. Perhaps it was the three weeks of being sick prior to traveling. Perhaps it's because she has two bottom teeth about to burst through. Perhaps it was just being in another home with a different bed. Or perhaps the 13 hour car ride put her over the edge. Whatever the reason, in between fits of crying and whining, she still offered plenty of smiles and had lots of fun with the toys Grandma had ready for her.
I mean, seriously, have you see a bundle of pink and flowers so excited about a dump truck?!
He brothers definitely thought it was pretty cool to have her sit and play with them.
Racing trucks, making forts, getting the "monsters under the couch,"... Annalyse is learning how to do it all.
I promise you have never seen two boys get so excited about watching the snow plow come by! So excited, in fact, they both jumped up from lunch to go stand in front of the window and wait and watch because Grandma thought she heard the snow plow coming. After about 10 minutes of waiting, it finally roared by. Hip, hip, hooray?
Back to Annalyse. After about an hour of crying and refusing to sleep, even though her red and glassy eyes needed to close, Grandpa decided enough was enough. He took his swaddled Sweetie, went to the storage room in the basement and moved things around to access an old rocking chair. Several minutes later I came down to check on them, and this is what I found:
Desperate times call for desperate measures, people! Props to Grandpa for figuring out the secret to silence.

Later that night great grandparents and aunts and uncles stopped by to visit. Annalyse was the star of the show and everyone wanted a turn to hold and kiss her.

Great Grandma cuddled her and rocked her and loved on her. I can't imagine the day when I get teary-eyed to see and hold my great grandchildren. In the meantime, I hope I can do a good job helping my kids understand how privileged they are to come from a godly, loving, and generous heritage. It's a beautiful thing.
Great Aunt Betty enjoyed some time with Annalyse as well, and also jumped at the chance to play Mickey Mouse Yahtzee with the boys. Since I'd played the game umpteen times in the car on our way up, I was ready to destroy it forever, but I'm glad I didn't because it provided some good laughs for them with Aunt Betty.
The patriarch with his little ones... a rich family tree, indeed!
After a busy day, Grandma gave everyone baths and got them ready for bed. Me? Oh, I just ate more dessert and relaxed on the couch. I didn't argue when Grandma offered to do baths. I might have actually agreed a little too quickly.
Once baths were done, teeth brushed, and jammies on, Grandma settled in to read several stories to the boys. This became a ritual each night and I know they loved it. I know they loved it because just yesterday night Grady Lee started crying and saying, "I want Grandma to read a story to me before I go to sweeeeep!"
Well, this ends this post. Go ahead, get up and use the restroom, get a snack, stretch, and get ready for chapter two.


  1. Love it, Sarah! What an amazing blessing your family has in such a wonderful heritage. I am so glad you were able to spend some time your parents and extended family.

    I've also noticed that granddads have a particular "baby whisperer" tendency. That was a precious picture.

  2. Aw, what a great start to your trip! I know it was a special week with your family & extended family, what priceless memories for you & the kids! I'm glad that you got a chance to relax a bit, too! I love all of the pics, but my favorites are Annalyse in the dump truck, Annalyse & your dad, and the one of your mom reading to the boys! Can't wait to hear about the rest of your week!

  3. That was quite an experience, thank goodness that you're safe after that thing with the truck drivers. Also, it's cool that the kids had a new set of friends they can play with, while you're having fun with your college buddies.