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Topeka Trip

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Lori’s family planned a little family reunion for Memorial Day Weekend this year. We drove down to Colorado Springs early Friday morning, loaded up Lori’s parents’ van and headed for Topeka. It usually takes mom and dad about 10 hours to make the drive. We assumed it would take longer with a baby in the car and we just prepared ourselves for a long day.

At our first stop in Limon, I tried to nurse Ellie in the parked car while mom, dad and Zach ate breakfast at McDonald’s. There were way too many distractions for Ellie and I quickly realized we needed to adapt to the situation… luckily I brought my pump and a couple of bottles. The rest of the trip I just pumped and fed her a bottle while we drove along. This really was the best way to travel (I would do it this way again with another kid even if they’re not one to get distracted easily)! It totally saved us on time that we would have had to stop for feedings. It was also going to be really hard to time an actual location to stop at along the way at the time Ellie was hungry… so all those difficulties were solved so easily and she was a happy girl!

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The rest of the drive was a breeze! Ellie even took a few naps almost right on schedule with her normal routine. We brought lots of toys for her to play with and every time we stopped we pulled her out of her car seat to give her the opportunity to wiggle around freely. We were so proud of how well she did! Friday night we ate dinner in Topeka and then checked into our hotel. We didn’t quite think through the sleeping arrangements before we left though. Our hotel room was a single room with our bed and the pack’n’play. After we put Ellie to bed we had nothing to do – the room was dark and quiet. If we had brought the baby monitor we could have at least turned it on and gone across the hall to watch TV with my parents… oh well, we survived by playing on our phones individually until bed time. If we needed to talk, we would go into the bathroom to whisper at each other! Ha!

Saturday morning we got up and headed to Grandpa & Grandma’s place. We were the first ones there, which helped with Ellie’s stranger anxiety! If we slowly introduce her to new people, a few at a time, that’s much better than 10 people all at once! She warmed up to her Great-Grandpa and Great-Grandma nicely. She liked being held by her Great-Grandpa and grabbing at her Great-Grandma’s glasses!

DSC_8347Grandma & Grandpa were nice enough to borrow a swing from the church so that Ellie was sure to take a good nap – that was helpful!! Greg & Terri (mom’s youngest sister) arrived while she was napping and couldn’t wait until she was awake! They brought Ellie some adorable summer clothes and a lullaby stuffed elephant. After Ellie got some time around Greg & Terri, then Sherri (mom’s second youngest sister), and my cousins, Amber and Megan arrived. I hadn’t seen Amber and Megan in 7 years… they were little girls then, now they’re all grown up and just beautiful! They LOVED Ellie and Ellie loved them! She would just smile and smile at them. She didn’t mind being held by the girls at all! Of course, she pulled at their long hair – but luckily they didn’t mind too much. Uncle Jim came in a little bit later with my cousin Ryan and his girlfriend Karen. I think it had been more than 10 years since I’d seen Ryan… and now he’s such a neat young man! It was so neat to see all my cousins who are now no longer little kids! Megan had a fun time playing with Ellie on the floor quite a bit.
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We just spent the day hanging out, which was so nice! We all went out to lunch (mom’s third sister, Dawn, came to join us as well) and then we went back to Grandpa & Grandma’s place to enjoy more time together. We took some great family pictures, had fun looking at some old pictures of mom and all her sisters and listening to Grandpa tell stories about “back in the day”.

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This was the first time for Zach to meet Sherri & Jim and my cousins – so that was cool. It was also neat to get to know Ryan’s girlfriend, Karen. We all went out to dinner together that evening. While we were sitting at the dinner table was when I felt Ellie’s first tooth in her mouth as she chewed on my finger… that was exciting!! it started to get late (by Ellie’s standards), so Zach and I borrowed the van to head back to the hotel while everyone else finished dinner – that way Ellie wouldn’t melt-down and everyone was happy. Saturday night was a little better in our room because we bought some ear buds (we hadn’t even brought those on the trip!) so we could sit and watch a movie together on one of our phones.

Sunday morning we all spent some time again together at Grandpa & Grandma’s place before heading back home. We did bottles again and made sure to get Ellie moving during stops. She was getting a little antsy during the last few hours and I was so thankful for the new lullaby stuffed elephant from aunt Terri – it kept her entertained when all her other toys had become “boring”. With one last stop in Colorado Springs to get back in our car, we were on our way home. It was a pretty late night and we were so thankful to still have Monday as a day off to recover from that long road trip!

It was such a great trip! I’m so thankful that we spent the time to head out to Kansas to see our family. Not many kids can say that they have spent time with their Great-Grandparents. I only hope that we’ll get another opportunity in the next few years to visit them again – so Ellie can remember meeting her Great-Grandparents!

We sure felt lots of love this weekend!!!

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Check out the best of our Topeka Trip photos in the Topeka May 2011 photo album.