Friday, November 5, 2010

Our First Road Trip!

This past weekend, we loaded up the car with enough stuff for a two month adventure and pointed ourselves North. Or rather, it just seemed like it was enough for two months' time. I guess that's what happens when you travel with a child. Two people travelling alone for three days? A bag of clothes and a container of snacks for the car. Travelling with baby? Two bags of clothes, diaper bag, bassinet, car seat, dangly toys to keep kid interested, blankets, hats...the list goes on.

To be fair, we also packed up a bunch of clothes that Juliette has rather suddenly grown out of. Seriously, little girl...when did you start getting so big? the three of us piled into the car and headed to Bluegrass, Iowa (a suburb of Davenport) to visit family on Kathy's side. We don't get to see them much, since her family is fairly well spread out. She's one of ten kids, and the rest of the family lives in Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa and Colorado. But we try to get together once a year for the purpose of awarding a new champion with the Family Classic Trophy.

Seriously, the competition has been fierce and bitter in past games, and this year was no exception. But before I get to that, I have to tell you that Juliette's world was thrown into outer orbit this weekend when it comes to aunts, uncles and cousins.

See, Jules only has one aunt and one uncle on my side of the family, and they're here in town. And that one local set comes with a pair of cousins, Madeline and Lydia. Pretty manageable for a three month old little girl. But get together with Kathy's family (and they weren't even all there, we were missing two on a trip to Paris for their fifteenth anniversary and one couldn't get away from work) and suddenly, it's relative overload. But, Jules seemed to enjoy it. She got to see Grandma and Grandpa again, which she enjoyed.

Grandpa got fuzzy since last we saw him

She also got to see Aunt Lisa again, along with Aunt Lori and her boyfriend Justin. But then came the wave of cousins.

Morgan takes a swing at the Pinata
First up, we've got the oldest, Morgan. She's 8. Here, you see Uncle Jeff protecting himself from Morgan's powerful lust for candy.

Kaitlyn's refrain: "Can I hold her?"
Kaitlyn LOVED Jules. She kept asking to hold her every five minutes, oblivious to the fact that everybody else wanted to hold her, too.

Andrew took the 2010 Family Classic Win, and, thus, gets the trophy for the year.
Andrew won the competition this year, so obviously it wasn't for cutest new little girl. He's pretty happy, though, so I can't take that away from him.

Jake also wanted some candy
Andrew's younger brother Jake got into the Pinata action as well. Here he is venting his frustration on having to stare at the trophy for the next year knowing he couldn't pull out the win. Or, he really really wanted some candy.

Madison also liked to hold Juliette
Morgan's younger sister Madison was a big fan of Juliette as well. At this point, I think Jules was getting a little tired of all the cameras. But we still had lots of pictures to take...

Max: the man with a million costumes
Kathy and I finally got to meet our newest nephew, Max. His parents kept vanishing upstairs with him, only to bring him down in a new costume. My favorite? The jailbird/pumpkin (sadly, I did not get a picture of it). It was a pumpkin costume, but the legs and arms were black and white striped. Escaped Pumpkin!

Of course, we had to get a picture with all the grandkids gathered around Grandma and Grandpa.

The whole gang
The red shirts most of the kids are wearing are from when Kathy and her siblings were young. There are numerous family pictures with all the kids wearing these shirts. Juliette got to bring her #10 shirt home!

But let's not forget that while in Davenport, we had some serious business to attend to.

"Trick or Treat, Smell our Feet. No, Really, They're disgusting after walking all over the neighborhood."
Well, okay, we had some other serious business to attend to as well as the Family Classic, but it was Halloween, and the kids needed their sugar fix. It looks like here we have a Minnesota Twin, two princesses, a Power Ranger (I think?) and, in the background, Madison is a Rock Star. And what about our little girl?

Kathy and I went as new parents too tired to come up with actual costumes.
Jules went as a Sweet Pea! Because she is.

Now, to the competition.

Per the usual, there was a lot of boasting and trash talk beforehand, not least of which came from this guy:

Steve: "There's no way you're going to win, you shouldn't even try."
Well, okay, maybe he wasn't trash talking Juliette, but Uncle Steve did spend most of the competition claiming that his skills were the superior, that he would carry the day, and that others (most notably myself as I was sitting nearby) had best polish up on their game if they wanted to even stand a chance.

For the record, the game was Bingo Blackout.

Allow me to repeat that: Steve was talking trash about our skills at a random game of chance.

Okay, now that you've let that sink in...

I guess there's no suspense left, as you already saw that Andrew carried the day, leaving Steve only slightly deflated (there's always next year). We got the past winners all together for a group photo afterwards.

The Winners, past and present
Back row: Jeff (2005 Lawn Olympics), Joe (2003 Bowling), Elliot (2004 Baseball Penny Bet), Dave (2008 Reading R.T. Rybak's Mind); Middle Row: Kathy (2001 Biggest Fish), Adrienne (2007 Rock/Paper/Scissor Challenge), Lance (2006 Diet Coke & Mentos Shoot-out); Front Row: Morgan (2002 Star Attraction), Andrew (2010 Bingo Blackout, Current Champ) Note: No competition was held in 2009. We went to Puerto Rico for Joe and Shelley's wedding. Everybody won.

I would just like to point out that I hold the record for least amount of time in the family before winning the Family Classic Trophy. Less than a week after Kathy and I got married, we held the 2004 competition and I won. Granted, I took part in the 2003 Bowling tournament, but I was roundly pummeled due to my complete lack of bowling skills.

After the competition, it was time to bring out the Piñata.

Lance poses with the Piñata 
The kids all had a good time giving this thing some good solid hits. Even Juliette.

Uncle Dan watches as Jules takes a swing
Okay, so she needed a little help, but that's to be expected.

All in all, it was a great trip! Thanks to Uncle Dave and Aunt Ninfa for hosting, thanks to Aunt Kristie for reserving a block of hotel rooms, and Happy Birthday to Aunt Carissa! Juliette loved getting to know all of you a little better, and can't wait to see you all again (plus the three that were missing; Paul, Jen and Erica).

That was fun, but I'm ready to go home now
Jules handled the travel portion of the trip up very well; she fell asleep when she got in the car, woke up briefly when we stopped to get gas and use the restroom, but then fell right back asleep and stayed that way until we got to the hotel. A diaper change and a meal later, she fell asleep again! On the way back, though, she was a little more active. We had to stop to feed her twice, and the second time she had been crying for a little bit because we couldn't find a good place to stop. But all in all, she was a perfect little travel companion. Like her parents, though, when the trip is over, she's just anxious to get home.

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