Sunday, April 1, 2012

Midwest Extravaganza 2012

We just returned from our first big family trip. On said trip we realized that we'd never traveled more than an hour away from home since Wesley was born. All went very smoothly. We saw a huge number of family and friends. It felt so amazing to see everyone again, and to have them meet Wesley.

Prior to the trip I had no idea how Wesley would react to seeing so many people, including many other kids, in so many different places. He did really well. It was fun to see him being so social. With the kids he was very open and interested in them, which was not surprising to me. With the adults, he was smiley and talkative. He definitely wanted either Casey or myself within sight unless he was with my immediate family, but he was comfortable playing with other people if we were nearby.

He developed so much over the course of the week. His communication skills and language skills blossomed. He seemed to grow up a lot over the course of the trip. Perhaps big experiences which demand a lot of adaptation offer that opportunity.

Our generation has definitely started having babies in the Midwest. We saw a lot of other little kids.

First, we went to Iowa.

My parents rented a home and we stayed in one room, my brother and his family stayed in the other, and my sister slept on the pullout couch. My parents came over in the early morning, and then we went to my grandma's during the day.

Looking at chicks and riding a cow
My cousin and his family spent a lot of time with us. They have two daughters, my brother has two daughters, and we have Wesley.
Our generation's kids

Amish country

Horse trough fun
Claire was chasing Wesley around the yard trying to hold his hands. Eventually she caught him. Then they walked around together holding hands. He was a little unsure about her joy for holding his hands, but it was really funny and cute.

Trucks with Aunt Amanda
I can't express how special it was to have Wesley here. We left Iowa knowing I was pregnant, wondering when we'd return for a visit. I was so happy to have my grandma and my aunts meet Wesley. So sad that my grandpa wasn't there. So meaningful to be there with them and my family. 

Wesley totally loved his Uncle Jason ("Jase"). It'd be the first thing he'd ask about when he woke up in the morning or from naps. He'd run out of the room to go find Uncle Jason. He always expressed his hope that Jason would be wherever Wes was going. It was really adorable how smitten he was with his Uncle.

We visited friends in Fairfield twice. We spent a day there which including one wonderful dinner and late evening. Then we stopped through on our way out of town. My heart warms so much around these amazing people...I unfortunately took very few pictures there...

Then we toured through Illinois, where Casey's Mom is from, and saw Casey's extended family.

The Lewis Family hosted us one night. They made us the most divine falafel feast. Yum. Wesley was over the moon happy to have a whole bin full of trucks, trains, and boats to play with all by himself.

Then we visited Great Uncle Harry's work at the Govenor's Mansion. The coy would come up and nibble our fingers, which of course Wes totally loved.

Surprisingly, he was brave enough to let the fish nibble his fingers a few times, too. He really didn't want to leave those fish. I was impressed with the grounds and interior of the mansion. What a great tour!

We headed South to Blue Mound and Decatur to see the rest of Casey's family. It was a beautiful day on the farm. Wesley enjoyed Casey's cousins' tree service trucks, the rooster, and the horses. We enjoyed the good company, plus all those things. We visited twice including a breakfast in which Wesley ate half an omelet plus five pancakes (growth spurt?!?).

It was great to visit with the Parrish Family including Casey's Aunt, Uncle, cousins and cousins' kids. A wonderful gathering.

Casey also got to visit with his uncle and his family, though it was past Wesley's bedtime, so he went solo and had a nice visit.

Then we headed to Indiana to visit my friends.

This is us at the mall...Wesley really wanted me to ride with him, though he did not want the ride to actually move.

We met my friend Kate and her family (husband and two kids with another due in August) and her Mom at Cracker Barrel. It was so nice to see them all and to catch up. I love how Wes is totally eyeing that awesome toy in this picture. Kate and I have been friends for over twenty years (!!!).

Then we drove to Indianapolis (where i went to middle school and high school). We stayed with my friend Nic. It was relaxing to drive around town, eat out, and just hang out together around town.

Among our Indy adventures, was a trip to Broadripple. We walked the Monon Trail. We had ice cream and then ate at the local brewpub.

We also visited my friend Erin and her family. She has three adorable children. Hal is just a month younger than Wes, and I so loved meeting him. 

They were pretty cute together.

We also visited my brother and his family briefly. My sister-in-law Christie snapped some of the most wonderful photos of Wesley (and myself). She runs Christie Marie Photography and is seriously talented. Wes is generally not easy to photograph (i.e. can't be bothered to stop his work or look up at you and can give some very serious looks, despite smiling a lot in natural life). She did an awesome job in about three minutes (the attention span of a toddler).

These are her pics...

When it came time to leave Indy, we went to the airport to fly out. Flights were way overbooked due to spring break. We took some airline deals and ended up staying two nights in a nice hotel with paid meals and four tickets totaling $1800 worth of flight vouchers. An awesome little bonus to the end the trip. It means we can look forward to more vacations in the future. It also means that we went to the airport on three separate occasions, waiting through boarding each time. Wesley was a total trooper.

It was Wesley's first hotel experience, and he didn't really love it. He didn't like being in the room, and hated the TV. So, we couldn't watch much TV which is one of the perks of hotels.

Hide n Seek with Daddy in closet
He did, however, love the pool. He splashed and paddled his arms and really wanted to practice blowing bubbles (with which he had zero success other than inhaling a lot of water). He was so ecstatically happy.  I hope we can go a lot this summer, after we invest in a life jacket or something. Squirmy toddlers are hard to handle in the pool! It was joyful to watch him swimming, though.

We made it home safe and sound. The flight home went smoothly.

I loved seeing everyone on the trip. It made me wish that we weren't so far away from such amazing family and friends. It was a special trip, and I'm so glad we took it. A resounding success.


  1. Why do you live so far away? Why did Alice's ear have to explode and interrupt our visiting time? I wish we saw you lots and lots, all the time. Hal and Wes are like a perfect match. I know they'd be best friends! Just like us. Love you and miss you.

  2. What a great photographer Christie is! As you are as well!