There are few things as hectic as planning a 24+ hour road trip for our crew, not to mention packing for the 2+ week stay. And when we're preparing for one of these trips, Brian is usually cramming in as much time at work as possible so that he can have himself prepared for a few days off. This means that I do 90% of the prep work myself.
Which also means that we never leave for a road trip when we plan to leave. EVER.
So it wasn't at all a surprise to either of us when we were still packing/cleaning/throwing kids in the car 3 hours after we meant to leave. And since we planned to leave after dinner, we were dealing with tired kids. And cranky spouses. Because, you know, it's my fault because I didn't get everything done and it's his fault because he works too damn much.
So after a long night of driving, we arrived in Virginia to stay with Brian's sister Jen & bro-in-law Brian. We met Jen and our friend Sala at the Museum of Natural History in DC. The boys had a blast running around with Sala's daughter, and we were just happy to be out of the car. That night we crashed at Jen & Brian's house. I always forget how great of an artist my sister-in-law is until I see her paintings. I love them.
The next morning, after a nice breakfast, we got back on the road and headed toward the mitten. It was a relief to finally arrive to Brian's parents' house. The grandparents enjoyed spending time with the boys and we enjoyed having some help! We also love to see Brian's Grandma get to interact with the boys. She is 100 years young and a pretty incredible lady.
Our friends (the boys' godfathers & their wives) also stopped by Brian's parents' house that weekend to spend some time with us. Every time I see them with the boys, I thank God for the opportunity to have such wonderful people in our lives. They love our boys like they are their own (and will no doubt teach them all kinds of crazy things throughout their lives).
We couldn't leave Grandma's house without having a party in a her big bathtub. The boys had an absolute blast and I'm sure felt totally cheated since all they've ever known is that tiny little normal sized tub that we have. So deprived.
My Mom has an antique cedar chest that sits in front of the big picture window in the front of the house. The boys loved climbing on it, looking out the window, and "dusting" it as Brennan called it. I loved snapping photos of them in various light situations. It's especially fun to experiment with light when you have cute subjects!
One of my favorite parts of going to Michigan is getting to see my friend Janelle and her sweet girls. Nell & I were friends in high school, roommates all through college, and I consider her a sister. She is Kiernan's godmother and I'm her youngest daughter's godmother. I threaten to send her godson to her no fewer than twice a month. And I know she would take him in a heart beat. It's fun to squeeze on her girls, since they're the closest thing to nieces I have so far.
Another favorite part of going to Michigan is getting to see my Grama interact with the boys. She plays with them and reads to them and is an all around awesome Great Grama. My Mom & I took the boys up to Grama's house, where they had fun exploring all of her plants (her living room is pretty much a green house) and staring at her Christmas tree (Yes, it was still up in March. The ornaments were off, but she left it up because she likes the coziness of the lights at night. This I very very much inherited from her. I'd leave mine up all year long if Brian would let me).
The main purpose of a trip this length was that I had 2 classes to take in Michigan, each a week apart. It was easiest to just go and stay for awhile. But one other main purpose was for me to really get to enjoy the time there. When we return to Michigan, our days are often jammed with family gatherings and obligations and to be honest it stifles me. I wanted this trip to be relaxing.
I wanted time for my boys to just enjoy a change of scenery and a change of weather and time with their aunts and grandparents and great grandmas and godparents. I wanted to have help with the boys and the freedom to pick up and go shopping with my sister or my Mom while someone else stayed with the boys. Fewer obligations, more relaxation. And I have to say, it ended up successful!
We played outside, went for walks, and made s'mores, and baked cakes. The boys snuggled and read books and played with all of the adults who miss them dearly when they're not around.
My cousin and his wife recently had a baby girl, and I was thrilled to be able to meet her while we were in town. They were blown away by how gentle and loving my boys were with baby C. Brennan & Beckett adored her. Brennan wanted to help take care of her and Beckett just kept touching her and saying "baby. pretty." I looooooved seeing this. It almost felt as good as snuggling her myself. Almost.
At one point I lost all sense of sanity and decided that it would be a good idea to take the boys to meet my BFF Jess, her kids, and our good friend for dinner. It was complete and total chaos until my Mom and sister came to rescue me. It was really special for me to take Brennan to see my friend, since she was also my former ObGyn and delivered Brennan. After the boys left with Grammy and TT and Jess' kids left with their Daddy, we sat and gabbed for awhile. We chatted about life and she wanted all of the details of my twin delivery and before we knew it, we'd been there for a few hours. I miss them both!!
The boys got to spend lots of time with Uncle Cory too. Cory is one of Brian's best friends, and Brennan's godfather. He spoils the boys to death and loves to spend time with them. And they love it too. When he walks into my parents' house or Brian's parents' house, the boys yell "COOOOO-WEEEEE!!!" and run over to him. It's cute and Cory likes to gloat about the fact that they love him so much. He also hates to have his picture taken, so I had to make sure that I reserved a special section of photos just for him. You're welcome Cory Cove.
Speaking of people who love and spoil the heck out of the boys ... my Aunt Lynne & Uncle Joe! They are my second set of parents (& my godparents) and definitely the boys' third set of grandparents. The boys looooove Uncle Joe, especially Mr Beckett. And despite the fact that they sometimes take awhile to warm up, Aunt Lynne loves and spoils them to pieces.
During the rest of our time at my parents' house, we focused on spending time with our family. The boys loved wrestling with Grampy, baking with TT, and snuggling with Grammy. We got to see my Grama 4 times during our weeks there and I could not be more thankful for that. I love seeing my boys with her. She was reading Mr Beckett a book one day, and the way she was reading brought back very clear memories of my childhood. The way Grama reads a book is the best. She reads and adds her own narration and I just love every minute of it.
When our 2 weeks was coming to a close, we headed back to Brian's parents house. Aunt Jen & Uncle Brian drove in from VA, so the boys were able to spend even more quality time with them. The weather was beautiful, so we took advantage and spent lots of time outside. Brian's dad bought Brennan an airplane, so he spent lots of time flying that while the Brothers threw footballs around with Uncle Brian.
The godfathers (and their lovely wives) came for another visit. They chased the boys around outside and played board games for hours and made sure to get in lots of snuggles. I won't babble on about how much we love them again. But we do.
Before we all had to leave, we made sure to snap a family picture and a photo of Jen & Brian with the boys. By the end of this visit, the boys were a little obsessed with Uncle Brian and were sad to see him go. Poor Aunt Jen. They love her just as much, they just don't know it yet.
Soon it was time to head home. We were sad to say goodbye to everyone, but happy get home and return to "normal" ... whatever that means!