Rochester Trip

On December 27th we embarked on our first road trip with kids in tow.  We drove to Rochester, NY to visit my sister, Greg and this precious face:

My parents came along, so there were six of us in my mini van for the 13-hour drive (took us closer to 14.5 hours with our lengthy stops for nursing and toddler-energy-burning).  Both of the kids did so great in the car.  I had been stockpiling new activities for Jack to play with in the car....puzzles, coloring books, stickers, Slinkys, etc. - a whole bag full.  He played with most of it for short periods (I'm talking 30 minutes each way), but the favorite activity was watching movies on the portable DVD player my parents got us for Christmas.  I think he watched The Lion King no less than 10 times on the trip, along with some Little Einsteins DVDs, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and one viewing of The Toy Story.  He LOVED having a TV in the car!

Charlie was a total trooper - on the way there I even pumped once and gave him a bottle while he was still strapped in his car seat.  For the rest of the meals we were able to stop so I could nurse him and he could stretch out.  On the way there we drove about 7.5 hours to Columbus, OH where my parents' good friends Larry and Joan Hodge graciously hosted us.  The last hour of day two was a little rough on the little guy - I think he was trying to say "get me the heck out of this darn car seat!!"

We all stayed in a hotel suite, with two separate bedrooms and a small living area and kitchenette.  It was perfect for our group - a little privacy and a quiet place to put the boys down when we weren't quite ready for bed yet.  We borrowed a pack & play from Kelly for Charlie and brought a cot for Jack to sleep on.  Unfortunately, there wasn't enough space in our room for both, so we pushed our two queen beds together and Jason, Jack and I slept in the enormous bed together.  It worked out great!

We did lots of fun stuff while we were visiting!  Kelly & Greg, as always, were excellent hosts!  The first night we went to their house for dinner and Christmas gift exchange.  They introduced us to raclette, which is similar to fondue but a grill rather than a pot.  It was delish and lots of fun!

Thursday morning we checked out a play place called Kango Play Center.  They had lots of climbing areas and bouncy castles, but Jack was only interested in the roller/bike rink, where they alternated roller skating and bike riding.  He gave roller skating a whirl, but immediately wanted the skates off.  Can't say I blame him - he couldn't even really stand up and I was laughing too hard to be much help.  I think he's a little young.  Kelly took a video:
After we took the skates off he patiently waited for a least 15 minutes until it was time for bike riding.  His patience paid off - he got to ride ALL kinds of bikes and LOVED it!

Thursday night we went to the Dinosaur BBQ joint that we've gone to a few times while visiting Rochester - yum!

Friday morning we checked out the enormous train display at a local landscaping store.  It was really cool and of course Jack loved it!

Friday night went to Greg's dad Larry's (or Papa G, as Parker will call him) house for dinner.  Greg's sister and her family had just gotten in town from Pittsburgh as well, so it was fun to see everyone.  They have a daughter, Clare, who will be 3 in February.  Jack and Clare met at Kelly & Greg's wedding last October, but this time they really hit it off.  They especially liked chasing Otis around.

Saturday morning we went to the Strong Museum of Play.  We took Jack to this amazing children's museum during another visit, but he was only about 10 months old then.  Needless to say, he got much more out of the visit this time around.  One of the highlights was the Wegman's grocery store.  The instructions are to go in, shop for 5 items, go check out (you are the cashier), and then restock the shelves.  Jack loved pushing the pint-sized grocery cart!  The first time around, the five items he selected were two large blocks of cheese and three cans of kidney beans.  Yum.  When he shopped a second time, he initially put 4 red onions in his cart, but I convinced him to add some variety.  So instead he ended up with 1 red onion, some other vegetable (can't remember), a donut, milk and orange juice.  Cute.

There was endless exploring to be done at Strong and we didn't even see it all.  GREAT place for kids!!
HUGE train table!

Football exhibit

Bulldozers & rocks

Ping pong paddles - they made a different sound depending on which pipe you hit.  Of course, Jack wondered where the ping pong balls were

Hot dog vendor

The "exaggerated perspective" room
Part of the cool Sesame Street exhibit was being on TV with Elmo (not my best camera work):

 Saturday night was New Year's Eve.  We spent the evening at Kelly & Greg's with our family and Greg's.  Again Jack had a blast playing with Clare and watching (what else!) the Lion King and Little Einsteins.

Still no luck getting Jack in a picture with his brother and cousin.  One of these days....
Kelly made a make-your-own flatbread pizza spread and It.Was.Awesome!  Such a fun idea and turns out we're all pretty excellent pizza makers!  Not hard when you have so many yummy ingredients to choose from!
We didn't quite make it to midnight but we saw some fireworks at around 10:30.  Turns out Jack is still very frightened of fireworks.  In fact, that was the one thing he kept talking about when we got back from our trip.  Poor kid is still traumatized from July 4th!

On New Year's Day, we loaded up the car and headed home.  We left Rochester around noon and finally pulled into our driveway at about 1:30am (Central time).  Phew!  That was a long day!  Jack decided during the trip that he wanted very little to do with Mommy, so on the way home, only Grandma was allowed to sit in the back seat with him.  Around 10:30pm after Jack was fast asleep, Mom and I switched so I could stretch out a little more, which was fine until we stopped for gas and Jack woke up, noticed I was next to him and was inconsolable until we switched back.  Break my heart!!  I'm happy to report, he likes me again now, so don't worry!

A new development on our trip was Jack starting to say Gam-ma and Gam-pa instead of MaMaw and PaPaw (or PamPaw).  His vocabulary and pronunciation improve every day!!

We had a great trip and it was so fun to visit with Aunt Kelly, Uncle Greg and Parker!!  It was also nice to see Larry, Gennie, Eric and Clare.  Sadly we don't have our next visit with Aunt Kelly and crew planned yet - we were kind of spoiled for the second half of 2011 with baby showers, Parker's birth, Thanksgiving and now this visit - LOTS of quality family time!!  Hopefully we'll all be able to get together again soon!

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