Saturday, July 20, 2013

Family Reunion

A few weeks ago, my cousin Tara (who lives in Lausanne, Switzerland) emailed my extended family to say she'd be making a last-minute trip back to our Nebraska hometown in July. I haven't seen Tara in two years, so I immediately scrambled to find a way home to visit too. Unfortunately since her trip was short-notice, Andi and I had already planned a getaway over the same time for our wedding anniversary and I have an already-booked flight home to Nebraska in early August for other family events. On top of that, flights to Lincoln and Omaha are crazy-expensive last minute, so flying was likely out of the question. There was really no way I could go back home while Tara was visiting unless Andi and I cancelled our plans and I made the 7+ hour drive home (that's with no stopping for toddler breaks) solo with Tory. Driving that far alone with a one-year-old isn't exactly high on my bucket list, but I was willing to do it if it meant seeing Tara and her little boys.

Last weekend, I asked Andi to check flights to Nebraska just in case. It turned out, there was one flight Monday - Thursday this week for a reasonable amount of frequent flyer miles. My generous husband booked the flight for Tory and I and we were set. I felt guilty using all his hard-earned frequent flyer miles on trips to Nebraska, but that's what love is all about, right?

Tory and I flew into Lincoln on Monday afternoon and once again, my little Bean was a great little girl on the short one-hour flight. This was the second-to-last time she'll fly as a lap child and as well behaved as she was on the plane, I'm ready for her to have her own seat soon. Between her wiggles and my growing belly, we're definitely running out of space. I had to laugh when the flight attendant came by with snacks and drinks mid-flight. Tory looked up from her episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on the iPad and held out her hand for a biscotti cookie. Think my little one-year-old travel buddy flies much? Ha.

My sister and her girls picked Tory and I up from the airport Monday and we immediately drove over to my cousin Jen's house in Lincoln to see everyone. It was blissful chaos from the moment we arrived to the moment we left for home on Thursday. There's seven cousins in my family, five of us are girls, and between us girls there's seven little kids age six years to six weeks. Really, my niece Brooke is the only six year old and everyone else is age two and under.

Our entire week consisted of a variation of this: kid and toy mayhem. It was seriously wonderful.

I don't think there will ever be another time in our lives where nearly all my cousins will have the opportunity to spend four non-stop days together. It felt like we were on vacation in our own hometown. My sister, Tara and I are both stay-at-home moms right now, Jen is on maternity leave after having Reese in June, and Jes took a few days off work to spend time together.

On Tuesday, my sister invited us all over to her house to have lunch and play in the kiddie pool. It was hot, hot, hot outside, so we spent the day cooling off inside and outside playing in the pool and sprinkler. Brooke (age 6) and Henry (age 2 1/2) were instant best buddies and spent their time cruising around Ashley's front yard in the Barbie mustang.

I felt like we were constantly "kid counting" outside to make sure all the little ones were accounted for in the swimming pool and playing in the yard. They didn't seem to mind one bit that there were six kids playing in the tiny pool.

My mom had everyone over for pizza Tuesday night. We sang Happy Birthday to little Henry who's birthday is in August when he's back in Switzerland and of course, all the little kids wanted a turn at blowing out the candles afterwards. Many turns at candle blowing = spit cake, but we all ate it and it was still delicious.

We took a group shot of all the kiddo lined up by age. Surprisingly, they all stayed still and looked at the camera thanks to lots of clapping and chirping aunts, uncles and cousins behind the lens.

L to R: Brooke, Henry, Lauren, Tory, Thomas, Neeley, Reese

On Wednesday, we took the kids to the Children's Zoo in Lincoln. It was the perfect size zoo for little kids with little walking, lots of shade and not many people. We rode the red engine train around the park at the end and all the kids were in seventh heaven.

Our big group

Tory feeding the goats

Tory and Brooke in the barnyard exhibit

Henry and Tory outside the butterfly pavillion

Adorable Thomas


Playing on the jungle gym egg

Lauren and Brooke checking out the otters

Tory and I on the train

Brooke and Henry having the time of their lives

Our big group on the train

I left town Thursday feeling so blessed to have these amazing ladies and their kiddos to call as family. We've all been so close growing up in the same hometown together and now it's the best experience to see our children growing up together, too. I'm already looking forward to the next visit we all have together again. 


  1. I loved every minute of it and can't wait until we do it again! Just think, next time we will have atleast three more little ones in the mix.

    Any time you are in need of a girls trip/family trip to Des Moines let me know and we will be there!!