trips with babies.

We had our final trip of the summer last weekend. We did our second annual pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse with our good friends (and Trixie's future in-laws) Ian and Jacqui, and their boys. Last year was our first trip and I was pregnant, this year Jacqui's pregnant. Maybe next year no one will be pregnant. Ha!

We've had a lot of vacations this summer, and by vacations I mean doing all the things we usually do with our kids, only in a different setting. It's been really great to have so much together time, but the introvert in me was starting to feel a little burned out. Going to the Shrine, however, is the perfect little trip to make with little kids.  It's about a two hour drive for us, we stay one night, and we keep expectations pretty low.

The main objective is walking up a hill to the church. The scenery is beautiful.

We were a parade of  double strollers.

 Once we got up there the grown ups took turns going to confession while the kiddos played in a fountain.

 There's a beautiful garden with a shrine to the unborn. Jacqui and I have both lost little ones to miscarriage, so there's something very special about seeing all our children there together.

Next on the agenda was trying to get 4 kids under 4 to all smile for a picture.  It didn't happen.  Better luck next year 

 After that we hit up the hotel pool and wore the kids out so that they would go to sleep and we could stay up and drink wine out of plastic hotel cups and talk without being interrupted.  Until 12:30. Yikes! Not smart with babies that wake up multiple times during the night!

Trixie loves chilling with dad in the hot tub.

Sunday morning we got one final dip in the pool, went to mass at the Shrine and then ate a Jimmy John's picnic down by the river. We got a tip from one of Alex's classmates about an old-timey ice cream parlor in La Crosse, so we walked there for some ice cream. By the time we finished the babies were turning into pumpkins so we loaded and made it home without any stops. Success! And next year will be even better. 

Family Vacation Photo Dump Pt. 3

From the Family Farm in Ohio we headed just a little further east to stay with Alex's sister in Pittsburgh, where Johnny got some extra time with his cousins "Bictor, Hemby, and Belo" (Leo). And Alex and I even got out for dinner one night sans la babies.

On our way home the AC went out on our car and with temps in the high 80's and two babies in the backseat, no AC was not an option. We took a long lunch break somewhere in the middle of Ohio to get it repaired, and Alex and I may or may not have gotten margaritas with our Chipotle. We spent tht night in downtown Chicago where we met up with another one of my cousins for lunch the next day.

All the driving was starting to be a little too much for our kids by the end. But I think they did pretty well considering they are 3 and not quite 1. When we finally made it home and I think we were all very happy to sleep in our own beds. But Johnny keeps asking for all his out-of-state cousins.

Family Vacation Photo Dump Pt. 2

Our second family trip this summer was a big one, so I'm going to do the photos in two posts.

Alex's grandparents retired to a farm in southeastern Ohio, and every summer since before Alex was born his entire family has gone to Grandma and Grandpa's farm. Alex's grandparents have both passed away and one of his brothers now lives at the family farm with his wife. And everyone still comes out every summer. That's Alex's parents, his 6 siblings, 5 spouses, and 14 nieces and nephews. And did I mention there's only one shower?!

Our route took us through Madison, WI, where we stayed with my oldest childhood friend, Chicago, where we stayed with my cousin and his family, and finally out to St. Clairsville, OH. We got to meet our nephew Aaron for the first time and see other family members we haven't seen since Christmas. Johnny loved being around so many other kids every single day.  He even mastered the names of many of his cousins.

The time we spend with all of Alex's family always makes us wish we all lived a little closer together. But since we don't we make the most of what togetherness we can get.

Family Vacation Photo Dump Pt. 1

We had our first of two family vacations for the summer at the end of June.  Alex finished up his summer term, came home, we packed up the car and were off for a week at the cabin with my family. My Family has grown quite a bit over the last year. I've gained a sister-in-law, a brother-in-law, and a niece who will be arriving at the end of this month. Everyone was able to come up to the cabin for at least a couple nights. I haven't been on vacation with my entire family since I was in high school. So needless to say we really enjoyed ourselves. 

This was also our first trip with two kids. They did well, No one fell in the lake, which was my chief worry. We didn't get very much sleep though. We were all in the same room for the first few nights and Johnny and Trixie kept waking each other up. Then when Johnny got moved into his own room he figured out how to climb out of his pack 'n' play and Trixie suddenly started sleeping on her stomach. Both of these developments made me uneasy so I didn't sleep well even when the kids were sleeping. 

I was recently talking with a friend about how going on vacation with little kids is not really vacation. You're still doing many of the same things you do at home; changing diapers, preparing food, washing dishes, waking up at 6:00 am. But there's still something about not being in your own home that is restful. You're only doing the essentials. All the other things that clutter the brain and absorb the day are not around to be worried about. The only thing to worry about is togetherness. And that's a nice feeling.