Another yearly holiday tradition that I forgot to mention in my last post is our annual holiday trip to visit my grandma in Iowa. As kids we used to always go up right after we opened presents on Christmas morning, which was fun to see everyone on Christmas, but not so fun as a kid to open presents, pick 2 of your favorites and hop in the car for 6 hours. Soon the tradition then became the weekend before Christmas, so here we are.
This is also only the second Christmas we are spending without my sweet grandpas stories, kisses and smiles as he passed away in October of 2013. So while the holidays are not easy without our loved ones we so wish were there, we still celebrated knowing that he was watching over us.
This year, instead of driving 5.5 hours straight on Saturday morning, we decided to head out Friday after work and make a pit stop in Omaha to stay with one of my best friends from college, Erica, and her husband. She turned the but 3-0 earlier that week and since we couldn't go to the birthday party celebration Saturday night, we thought this would be perfect!
We got there on Friday and the kids stayed up way too late playing with all Erica and Andrew's toys (they are foster parents looking to adopt right now and going through IVF as well; it's a pretty inspiring story that you can read about here if interested). Then we put them down and stayed up even later catching up after way too long with these two. They are the best and let's just say I laughed a lot and it was good for my soul.
Somehow, Charlie slept in and then we had a lazy morning of playing with their dogs and chasing the lion around their house (this is Charlie's fictitious animal that he chases with his drumstick). Then we all went and met my parents and sister and her boyfriend at the infamous mattress factory downtown Omaha as they made their way through town on the way to Iowa.
And we took a picture with just adults:
And found a funny body to out Charlie's head on (my dad is on the ground- haha!).
And then we said our goodbyes (or so long...as my grandpa would say) and hit the road for storm lake. Since it was around nap time, everyone was doing great sleeping away. Then I sent my mom a text saying "yeah! Everyone is sleeping" and they both woke up screaming immediately following- go figure.
Charlie also decided he wasn't going to nap without me holding his hand. So I sat like this for an hour.
Once we arrived, we stopped to say hi to family, then went to get checked into our hotel, get beds set up and Charlie was dying to go swimming in the water park!!! They had so much fun!!!
Maddie and I had fun back at my grandma's showing everyone all her sitting tricks and making noises!
Then we went to Pizza Ranch. A new establishment in good old Storm Lake and luckily we got there right at 5 because by the time we left there was a line out the door. No joke. Seriously insane!
Then it was back to open presents and dessert and apparently pass out from so much dessert consumption. Hahah.
At about 7:45, my kids were spent, so we headed back to attempt to sleep all in the same room.
Bath time went well (I mean this kid is the sweetest big brother washing her hair and he even blew on his hands to make them warm like we do with his lotion!).
Then it was time for bed. We brought the pack n play for Maddie and got a little cot (similar to the ones Charlie uses at school) for him to sleep on.
Yeah....that lasted like an hour and next thing we know those 2 queen beds jimmy and I had to ourselves were invaded with little arms and legs. And I'm wondering why we even packed the pack n play and cot...
Pretty much, no one slept. Maddie woke up every 3 hours crying to eat, which I did to try to keep her quiet. Then I got woken up by Charlie crawling into my bed and hitting me with the frozen did case asking to "watch Elsa"- no, sorry dude, not at 3:30am. Then Charlie was trying to get back in bed with jimmy and fell while climbing up and rocked his face. He cried, we hugged and back to bed (not realizing how bad it was until morning- poor guy!).
Turns out, my parents and sister didn't get any sleep either because there was a party outside their hotel room from 1-4 am. No thank you!!!
But then the sun comes up and all of a sudden your kids aren't the devils you think they are (I mean yes, Maddie was completely adorable cooing and smiling at me - but please, even the cutest babies aren't cute doing that at 3am).
Nothing a little coffee, McDonald's breakfast and more hugs and kisses from family members can't solve. Oh and peppermint dessert for my dad...
And this picture really summed up everything for me. And why we drive so far in just a weekend to visit friends and family. How happy my grandma is to be with her family and see who much her sweet great grand babies have grown. All the nurses in her facility know Charlie and Maddie and it's so special. Like I said on Instagram, it's worth the unhappy kids in the car, sleepless hotel nights, family drama, and upset stomachs from all the junk food consumed....because what would Christmas time be without family time??
If only storm lake was a few hours closer, right? Until next year....
And here's some other pictures my mom sent over. They are pretty cute!
But this one takes the cake. I love how big my grandma is smiling even though Maddie has got a death grip on her hair!!