Last weekend, we had a memorial service for my Grandmother. Since Landon is just a few weeks old, he stayed home with Chelsea while I piled Ben, Adalyn and a suitcase full of outfits in labeled ziplock bags into the minivan and headed up to Minneapolis.
We decided it would probably be best to break the 7.5 hour trip into two days, so I left late Thursday night with the idea that they would sleep the whole way (didn’t happen) and we got to Des Moines around 11:30ish. Aside from the fact that I opened a door over Ben’s bare foot resulting in blood and screams that echoed down the halls of the hotel in a pitch that didn’t exactly match Adalyn’s screams that were a result of her falling asleep 15 minutes before our destination then being woken up. Aside from all that, it was pretty uneventful. Even though the kids didn’t sleep, they were really good in the van.
Friday morning, we took some donuts to one of our ParaPlan clients in Des Moines before hitting the road. We took it pretty slow, stopping almost 2 hours for lunch and another hour or so at Cabela’s. We got to Minneapolis around 4 pm and went over to my aunt and uncle’s house. My sister Christina is staying for a couple weeks during her summer break. We all hung out for a while and the kids had a blast playing with all of uncle Mark’s toys and throwing scrabble pieces down the stairs (sorry about that). We all went out for buffet, then headed to our hotel.
Saturday morning, we went and picked up Christina and headed to Lake Harriet for a stroller run. Last year for my birthday, Chelsea surprised me with a trip to Minneapolis. The night before we were planning on going home, we walked around Lake Harriet with the kids and came back to find our car was broken into and Chelsea’s purse and wallet had been stollen. It was a nightmare getting the credit cards canceled (it was Memorial Day) and getting the window repaired. So we gave Lake Harriet a chance to purge the bad juju and it didn’t disappoint. It has a beautiful 3 mile trail around the lake, actually two parallel trails, one for bikes and one for pedestrians, and the surrounding neighborhood is really pretty. They have a couple of beaches and a bunch of sailboats that are docked. The kids wanted to stay and play longer with Auntie, but alas it was time for lunch and what I predicted was going to be a disaster of a nap time.
Saturday nap time was a crucial piece of the puzzle. We had a busy morning and we were going to cousin Annabel’s birthday party at 4pm. If they didn’t sleep, the wheels were going to fall off around 5:00 and I really wanted to be able to visit with family rather than drag my screaming toddlers around by their ears telling them “sharing makes friends.” With much planning and anxiety, I put Adalyn in the pack and play, Ben in the bed and gritted my teeth waiting for the impending battle. To my amazement the kids both fell right asleep. And slept! And slept. Aaaaand sleeeeept…. I couldn’t believe it! Three hours went by before I finally had to wake my zombie children and get them ready for the party.
Annabel’s party was fantastic, the kids got filthy in the sandbox, had a great time and were perfectly behaved. We were able to stay much later than I thought we would be able to and it was great catching up with all my family.
Sunday morning, we took a quick two mile stroller run around Lake Smetana right by the hotel before heading up to church in Elk River. My aunt and uncle recently moved back to the twin cities from California and have been going to this church called The Crossing and were nice enough to invite us to join them. Let me tell you, this church was rocking! The band was so good and you could really feel the Holy Spirit moving through there as if the roof was lifted off! Powerful stuff. I really hope to take Chelsea back there someday.
After church, we headed back to my aunt and uncle’s house for a quick lunch. Too quick, in fact, and I really wish we had more time to catch up. My cousins are doing some really neat things and I hope to get back soon so we can reconnect. After scarfing down burgers and brats we headed north to Milaca for the memorial service. Most of my aunts and uncles and cousins from my Mom’s side were there. I think (and hope) my Grandma would have wanted it just like it was. Not too formal, a really nice burying of ashes at the cemetery and lots of fellowship and catching up with a bunch of kids running around. We left Milaca around 4:15 and started the 8.5 hour trek back home.
I was hoping to make it to Clear Lake which would have left about five hours to get home, but the kids both fell asleep so we were able to make it all the way to Des Moines. In retrospect, the hotel we ended up getting was a bad move because they didn’t have an in-house breakfast, but it was a name your own price deal through priceline and I didn’t have any way of knowing they didn’t have breakfast.
If my kids don’t have at least a banana by 8:00 am, they will start gnawing on each other’s fingers, so the writing was on the wall when we sat down at Denny’s at 9:15. After a multi-point meltdown that probably should have been uploaded to YouTube with the hashtag #soyouthinkyourehavingaroughmorning, we started the last leg back home to Kansas. The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful except for a Chick-fil-a cow mascot induced panic attack by little miss Adalyn. She settled down once she realized the over-sized, extra-creepy bovine was not going to consume her or her brother for lunch.
It was so rewarding to see Ben and Adalyn interact with my family. Ben is really growing into his own personality and I just love how much he loves people. I hope he never loses it. Most of the meals ended in tears by one of us, so I really need to have a better strategy for eating time. In fact, one morning I was so consumed with getting them everything they needed that I actually forgot to eat myself. I missed the small time window to eat between getting them situated with their food and getting them cleaned up after they finished eating.
Here are some of the highlights as seen through my broken phone screen:
Goofy faces Thursday night on the way to Des Moines
This was their firetruck. There were many fires in our room.
He calls it his iPad.
Cute moment after lunch in Clear Lake.
Not quite sure what to think about some of the “wild life” at Cabela’s.
Hey look! A couple Hib-birds in a tree at Lake Harriet
The housekeepers propped up Adalyn’s baby doll like this. I thought it was a nice touch.
Not sure what this was all about. I was trying to get a picture for Chelsea and they were just not cooperating.
Adalyn loved the ball pit at Annabel’s birthday party.
She also loved the lady who drew on her.
And she also loved the sandbox (my least favorite part).
Ben got himself in some red paint and gave himself a new ‘do. This was after I got as much out as I could. Most of it is out by now. I freaked my wife out for a second or two when I sent her this picture.
Ben loving on cousin Eli.
A worn out traveler.