Overall, we had a great week in Milwaukee. I have to say, it really warmed my heart to be with my whole family. The boy got most of the attention, which he demands by being so adorable all the time, but that was not at all unexpected. We had a little bit of tension early on, when two sets of grandparents, who hadn’t worked out any sort of schedule in advance, each felt like they were getting shorted on time with their new grandchild. But after the initial frustrations were worked out, everyone did end up satisfied, though I’m sure the time was still not enough for anyone because it just went by so dang fast.
We did the drive up in one day. Seventeen hours on the road with only one significant stop for dinner at Bob Evans. We stopped every few hours to feed him and change the diaper, and he only really started screaming after we were through Chicago. Who knew frigid winter air would be just what the doctor ordered to knock a baby into the sleep of the dead that he (and we) so desperately needed.
Monday was Mom’s birthday, so we had dinner with my parents. Tuesday was going to be sister night (with my mom and two aunts), but it ended up being the evening of frustration instead. I had a nice dinner with M over at their place and went back by the in-laws for dessert. Wednesday was Christmas with the in-laws. So many new outfits and toys, but more than that, we got a web cam for easy video conferencing so that the grandparents and M don’t feel so far away from each other. I think it will be good for James and me, too. Well, for me, anyway.
Thursday night my sister and Nick were on their way into town, so we had an open house kind of thing at my parents’ place. My aunt and uncle were the only ones who could make it, but this is an aunt and uncle we don’t get to see very often, if ever, so it was really nice to sit and chat with them over some delicious pizza. My aunt and mom and I shared some labor stories, which I really enjoyed. Because I find it fascinating that this common experience among mothers can be so varied. When other women talk about the pain, it really peaks my interest just because to me, it wasn’t like pain at all, so I like to listen and try to understand the differences and the similarities in experience. It’s amazing that something so many women do, give birth, is as unique an experience to each woman as their very souls.
Friday was Christmas with my family. We spent the night at their place Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Tuesday (yeah, I know). So during the afternoon on Friday, my sister got to spend some good quality time with her nephew. As did my folks. And James and I got some quality time for ourselves, too. My brother and his family came by around six, and the kids brought the Wii. So we did a lot of bowling and a little Guitar Hero -ing. That thing is really fun. I thought it looked kind of weird from all the commercials and everything, so I really had no interest in a game system like that for our house, especially since James is still hoping that a PlayStation 3 might somehow still be in the cards for him, but Nintendo knows what it’s doing, I guess. I mean, I love that you have to get up and move to play the game, that it can read your motions like that. I think we might have to think about a Wii (or its future version) someday, after the credit cards are back to zero and work is steady again.
Anyway, it was a late night, and the other women in my family had had a few, so we almost didn’t even get our annual family photo. Mom missed a few shots she wanted, too, but it’s hard to wrangle three kids and a few adults who were either tipsy, tired, suffering from an incredible headache or allergic. Poor M was so tired that he couldn’t even sleep once we finally got him to bed. Yeah. That was fun.
Saturday we had my in-law family open house. M slept for the first couple hours of the party. In fact, he had fallen asleep in his car seat on the way over and just didn’t wake up until someone (James) took off his hat. It’s possible that if we had just let him sleep until he woke on his own, he wouldn’t have been as crabby, but who can say for sure. He did manage to charm everyone, though, even when he cried, and James’ younger cousins were completely in love with him.
Sunday we had breakfast with my parents’ long-time best friends. And I think this was the fourth or the fifth meal that my dad didn’t sit down and eat with everyone else. He must have just the right angle to his arms or something because M managed to fall asleep there (right near mealtime) several times. Dad didn’t mind, though. He loved it. I don’t think that there are any words to say how much.
That afternoon, we had a family get together for my extended family. My uncle’s house had four dogs lurking in the background, which all but ruined James. I felt bad for him, but it was also good to see so many of my relatives. I don’t get to do that nearly enough. They all seem pretty close with each other, maybe because the kids just automatically gravitate to the other people their size, which can’t help but bring the parents closer. Anyway, it was nice to be there, even if it was just for a small part of the afternoon before the Packer game.
We watched the Packers lose back over at the in-laws. My parents were there, too. And all the boys had their Packer clothes on. It was so cute. Too adorable for words, so here’s a picture worth a thousand of them:
All week long, there was no local news station that didn’t include a Packer report in their broadcast. The city and the state were pumped for the game. At first, it even seemed like the team was, too. But they just couldn’t get their shit together and blew it, much to the disappointment of Packer fans in Green Bay, Milwaukee, Wisconsin and around the world. The men had to change the station and I know James didn’t watch ESPN or any local sports coverage for a couple of days, the heartbreak was that bad. I say, there’s always next year.
Monday was the James and me date. We had some shopping to do, exchanges to make and gift cards to blow. So my parents came over to his parents’ house to team babysit. They had a great time, and M was a little angel for them. As for us, I got tired of shopping real fast and actually walked out of Old Navy having paid full price for all three of my new wardrobe pieces. I don’t think that’s ever happened to me in my entire life. Sigh. At least James got some good deals on some dress clothes that make him look really hot. After shopping, we hit Japanica for dinner, which made the second time we’ve gone out alone together and the second time we went for sushi. Of course, we have no problem with that because sushi is great, but we had planned to go to P.F. Chang’s instead. It was snowing pretty bad, though, so we decided to stay on one side of town and close to home. After dinner, we stopped by Half Price Books, and here’s another first, we didn’t even buy one single thing. And that’s a good thing.
Tuesday afternoon, I met my mom for lunch. James had gone to see Cloverfield with his dad the morning before, so it was only fair that I got some quality time with Mom, too. She pointed out to me that everything on P.F. Chang’s menu has garlic in it (she is sensitive to garlic), and for the first time, I actually noticed it. Oh well. It’s still great food. After lunch, we had to walk off our buzz (they served her a giant cocktail, and I had a fruity martini), so we did a little shopping, too. I got the best red wool coat ever, and an awesome pair of black dress pants. I especially love my new coat (totally on sale). It makes me feel so sophisticated. It’s pretty, and red. Just the right length, and actually buttons closed across my massive stripper boobs.
We had pizza for dinner Tuesday night with James’ folks and then said our goodbyes to them as we headed back to my parents house again. We left there on Wednesday morning at about 5:00, stopped back at the in-laws for one last hug, and hit the road. For the return trip, we drove separately: M and me in the Pontiac and James in my sister’s old Ford. My sister got a new car a couple of months ago, and Mom and Dad bought her old one from her to give to us. It’s got a lot of miles on it, but it’s in better shape than our Toyota and has four doors. It was our Christmas present from them. So yeah, we both had to drive the whole way back to Virginia, which made it a two-day trip because I am not hardcore. We stopped in Ohio, about five miles from Wheeling, WV, and got a good deal on a nice hotel room. We ate Red Lobster take out for dinner (note to self: while incredibly delicious, the crab alfredo pasta dish means incredibly foul gas). And as tired as I was when I wrote that blog post on Wednesday, alas, the boy, he was not.
So we had to stay up and play for awhile, but eventually, we all passed out and didn’t get on the road the next morning until well after 10:00am. Which put us on the beltway (DC) right around 4:30pm. Yes. Rush hour. It wasn’t too bad, but M wasn’t really very happy by that point, so he cried for about the last 45 minutes. Good times, indeed, but I wasn’t about to stop again when we were so close to home.
And it was good to be home. But now, I’m back on my own all day with the baby, and I’d practically forgotten how hard it can be, since I had over a week of time when I only really handled the feeding and changing. Everything else, the napping, playing and cuddling was all taken care of by someone else. It’s quite a change, but we’re managing, even though we all miss everyone in Milwaukee very much. But I’m lucky. I get to go back in a month. With the boy, of course. It’s a pretty sweet deal.