27 September 2010

MI familia, and friends :)

travel to the homeland to introduce X to the base of her family tree (and extended "family").

so, we really wanted X to meet her family and friends back in MI before she wasnt a "baby" anymore. once we figured out flight prices (outrageous! we thankfully could use daves frequent flyer miles to buy one of the tickets) and daves work schedule (we thought he might have to go to a meeting in boston) we settled on sept 22-27 for our visit!

flash forward to us the night before leaving...we didnt pack as smoothly as our last trip, nor did we leave the house quite as clean, but it turned out okay in the end and we were able to get a good amount of sleep to start our journey.

wednesday: we woke up at 6a to get ready for the day. X was confused when we got her up. it was still dark! we made it to the airport without incident and got in line at delta. ugh. they didnt have our seats together, they couldnt modify my ticket, then they found out our credit card never got charged for my ticket which was why they couldnt modify it, and then they had to edit Xs information (we had booked our tickets over the PHONE to avoid just such issues. idiots.). thankfully they didnt charge us for our luggage, but they did waste 45 minutes of our time. ick.

made it through security and customs and X took a nice nap. i boarded the plane as late as possible (though some dudes heading to vegas were later than me) and we were off to MI!

the flight was great. X played, stared at people, pooped, made us change her diaper in the bathroom where there wasnt a changing table (note to self: just change her at your seat next time), napped, and was happy when we landed. when we got off in the familiar mcnamara terminal i swear my heart skipped a beat. aaah, the comfort and familiarity of home. :)

we rounded up baggage and easily located my dad and grandpa who were at the curb to pick us up. so nice of them to come get us. they were able to meet X and get a few quick interactions in while dave installed our car seat. then we were off to grandpas house. X got a nap (after some convincing) and i was able to listen to the male chatter/banter through the wall from the bedroom: reminiscing about the ol' days, war stories (which i swear we never heard my dad talk about when we were kids), and dogs. the voices of my dad and grandpa have always been distinctive to me, and listening to them through the wall was like listening to rain on a rooftop, or the breeze rustling tree leaves. very soothing, and it transported me back in time.

then, once X woke up, joy of all joys, i was able to sink my teeth into a glorious coney dog from senate coney island. a good, old-fashioned michigan coney dog was on my very short list of absolute requirements while we were back home. and yum, i enjoyed it. this trip was off to a good start.

(my dad, X, me, my grandpa dohring. am i the only one who knows how to smile?)

then, we were back in the car on our way over to my friend georgettes house (or rather the eatons house, chuck and dave were friends back in college too). they were letting us stay at their house that night, and were making us dinner. a few other friends were coming by and we were excited to see them. georgette made zucchini, pasta with squash, bacon, and goat cheese, garlic bread, and salad for dinner. delish! we were able to catch up with phil, julie, jen, and james. plus, jen informed us that she will be adding another babe to our college group in march (and baby turkey is arriving in november!). apparently X is a trailblazer. she is also a gift collector. our friends showered her with UM gear (yes!) and a toy bin decorated as a monster (i can see this monster themed stuff is going to keep coming, which is so cool!). it was so nice to have a calm dinner with friends to chat and catch up and have them meet X in an environment that was fairly easy on her.

(the lovely eatons, and X in the dress uncle phil gave her when he came to visit)

thursday: after a morning nap at georgettes, daves parents arrived to drop a car off for us. we were supposed to all go over to ann arbor together, but daves grandma needed to be taken to the hospital (she had shingles! which they were able to diagnose right away thankfully). so, we went to ann arbor alone. which worked out fine because we were able to just wander around and see what had changed since we left back in october 2008.

as we got out of the car, i asked dave "so, any bets on how long it will take to see someone we know?" he guessed an hour, but wasnt very optimistic. then we went walking, and lo and behold, our feet took us to jerusalem garden. fancy that? and we ran into a guy dave used to work with at UM IT-computing. so...20 minutes or so was how long it took to find someone. hilarious.

anyway, i was happy as a clam that i got to dive, face first, into my most favorite bowl of lentil soup. h.e.a.v.e.n. havent been able to find anything else that will fill that void. yum. another item checked off my "to-do" list. i also enjoyed my falafel and majadra rice.

after lunch, X needed to sleep. i popped her in the carrier and she whined until she was bounced into submission. it was hot and sticky out, so i dont blame her for being grumpy about having to sleep on me for naptime. with her asleep, we were able to head over to kerrytown and check out the high-end shops. and, we did happen to stumble onto a new find. in a new location (though, completely new to us) was the most gorgeous baby store i have ever seen, elephant ears. vibrant, unique clothing was jumping from every corner. they had clothes, shoes, outerwear, accessories, high chairs, cribs, baby carriers, toys, strollers, bath time stuff, eating time stuff, sleeping time stuff. all really nice stuff. we had no trouble spending time in there while X was napping. in the end, we bought a pair of shoes and a picture frame. i found the staff to be extremely lacking (or maybe im just spoiled by the folks at nurtured) and annoying, so i didnt want to spend anymore money there than we "had" to. ha.

after shopping, X woke up and we drove to central campus. our only ann arbor MUST do was to drop off daves old ass laptop computer. the one he had used all during grad school that his department had paid for. since it was basically obsolete when we left for france, the IT guy let him take it with us, but now we both have new computers so this old thing was just in the way. we left it in the CC Little geology building for the IT guy to deal with with a little farewell love pat.

then, since we were on central campus, we were close to my old (undergrad) lab and my preggo co-worker was in town from virginia finishing up some experiments. we called her and she was free to come down from the lab and meet up with us briefly. lisa is getting ready to have a baby girl in a few weeks, and it was fun to get to see her before the arrival. another fun perk was being able to spend a few minutes with my old boss sue. a great first mentor, it was lovely to catch up with her, plus, she is always so enthusiastic about what dave is doing (her husband is a professor in anthropology at UM).

and then, X was spent. we barely made it to our ann arbor hotel intact, but thankfully we got there in time to convince X to take a nap. we werent able to meet up with my old kellogg coworkers or ARCH coworkers :( but i hope they understand. and, since X didnt stay asleep for long enough, she woke up from her nap tired, which meant that our visit with friends lily and ercan went poorly as well. they were kind enough to come to us, at the hotel, but it still couldnt save X from her grumpy state. after several failed attempts to calm down and try and get her to agree to eat, they left early so X could wind down from her overactive day. it was great to see them for a short time anyway, and we thank them for being understanding. :)

friday: X woke up early after finally getting some good rest. we decided to take advantage and check out the hotel pool. she seemed to be quite confident in the water and had a good time with dave. afterward, while X was trying to get a nap (ha!) dave went and got brueggers bagels for breakfast. its normally not my most favorite bagel place, but having been without bagels for so long, they actually tasted good.

after breakfast, we loaded up and headed to my moms homestead in dearborn. my grandma has lived in this house for more than 6 decades, and all of my aunts and mom were going to be there. such a wonderful experience to be able to have everyone in one spot. we were able to eat lunch, visit, take pictures, and catch up for a while because X took a nice long nap while we were there. must be something comforting about great-grandmas house. :)

(four generations of thomas girls at the dearborn homestead)

but, the visit had to end at some point, and we wanted to start moving before rush hour. unfortunately our route (I-94 east to I-75 north) isnt the most pleasant for traffic avoidance, and of course there was construction. it took us over an hour and a half to get to clarkston (more than twice what it should have). ugh. but, we were able to settle in and await dinner with daves cousins from louisiana who had flown up to visit daves grandma (not knowing she would get sick of course).

it was great for us because X got to meet more family, and we hadnt met daves cousins wife yet. welcome to the family liz! AND, they are adding a new family member in february (congrats!), so it was great to see them for many reasons. dinner was simple but tasty. daves dad made ziti and tomato sauce with homemade fried chicken. and dessert...my favorite dessert of his (aside from his elusive key lime pie)...totally from scratch apple pie. heaven! and i for once totally dug into it guilt-free because X has been taking so many of my calories for breastfeeding that i wasnt concerned about all the fat in the crust. yummy yum yum.

saturday: woke up to the news that daves grandma had fallen and cut her head at some point (she didnt remember when) and needed stitches. mary ann was basically with her ALL day. :( so, we had to help daves dad get the house ready for guests. we were having a gathering so that remaining family could meet X. the atmosphere felt less energetic without mary ann (though i know she was dying to be there) but the party went well and we enjoyed ourselves. daves childhood friend paul came over, several of mary anns friends came over (such nice friends, though i would expect nothing less from people who surround mary ann) to meet her grandbaby, my family came (my mom, al, and my aunt/uncle/cousin drove all the way from grand rapids), and daves louisiana cousins were there. X was showered with gifts again and we all had a nice visit and we appreciate all of you for coming!

(great aunt jean with X and my cousin linnea [shes famous, she was nominated for an ESPY])

later that evening, mary ann was able to come home knowing grandma was safely spending the night at the hospital to be watched for a concussion (just protocol). also, daves cousins from cleveland arrived. barry and joanie have liam (4) and neela (1) who are both born in april (X joins them in being april babies). and we were surrounded by kids! running around, playing, talking. fun to see where X will be soon enough. plus, joanie came with a bag full of girl clothes for X. i always loved hand-me-downs as a kid (they would come from "cool" older neighborhood girls), so i hope X appreciates them.

sunday: had breakfast at the whipps with daves cousins. after everyone was done we packed up our cars and drove over to the hospital where daves grandma was. dave and his cousin barry went for a quick visit (no way was i or X going into a hospital, let alone to visit someone with shingles) and then we headed over to northville.

my friend georgette was graciously opening her home to us again, plus friends. our college pals (the ones who had the STELLAR baby shower for us) were going to gather, along with some old childhood pals. of course, this would be a perfect time for one of my famous crippling tension headaches to show up. cringe. i tried to sit and chat with the early arrivals but i ended up having to lay down for an hour. X came up for a nap then, i fed her, she went to sleep and i summoned the will to rejoin society. i had squandered my precious time to see and chat with everyone, though i was able to touch base with everyone in some way or another. i know, since they are good friends, that they know that i love them to bits just for getting in the car and heading over, and i know they can forgive me for being a rude gimp (i hope. please?).

(my friend katie and her daughter isabel. our moms actually met in a prenatal group. katie and i are 10 weeks apart and iz and X are 6 weeks apart. pretty neat.; dave and X with carla [paul, daves childhood friend, not pictured] and daughter lily. lily is almost exactly a year older than X.)

the party petered out and we cleaned up and were able to enjoy a wonderfully simple, and delicious, dinner with just the eatons. so chill and quiet. we just loafed on the couch like the old days and ate our homemade pasta (it was frozen, they didnt whip up a batch after all that party hosting), homemade tomato sauce, and veggie meal on the coffee table in front of the tv. warm glow of happiness...

monday: woke up to our last day in MI. we hung out at the eatons until georgette went into work (she went in a little late. yay.) and then my dad and grandpa came over to get us. we made a very brief stop at my aunt and uncles house in plymouth before X had had it. we barely made it to my grandpas with our ear drums intact, but with daves help she was able to get a nap in and we munched on sandwiches before heading to the airport.

(X giving us a smile [finally] while hanging out with pappy)

at the airport, we were delayed for about an hour and a half. thankfully X was very patient. we hung out in the airport as long as possible. then, when we boarded, they came over and told us that we couldnt sit on that side of the plane with a baby, and wondered how we had been assigned those seats. i dont know, you idiots did it!! but anyway, without a big show, we made it to halifax and it was already past Xs bedtime. she found the patience to wait for the shuttle to the off-site parking and for the ride home. it was past 11p at that point and she happily went to bed. good little girl. :)

such a busy, busy trip even though we had hoped to remove lots of the running around we had done at christmas, we found ourselves still caught up in wanting to see as many people as possible. its just so hard to say no. its not easy just visiting your former home. you want to see everyone, do everything, explore the new things, and find time for yourself somewhere in there. so, yeah, we did not succeed on that front. but, we were thankful we did get to see so many people we love, thankful that X got to meet them, and we look forward to returning. :)

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