A little warning…this post is looooooooong (but it has lots of pictures!)!
Two Friday’s ago, our little family set off on a trip that we’d planned since Bella’s first few weeks of life. Lance took a week of vacation during my last week of maternity leave, and we took a road trip to visit our families in Virginia and Pennsylvania. I always thought that my car was an adequate size, until we tried to fit the two of us, Bella, an 80 pound Titan dog, and baby gear and clothes to last 8 days. The hatch area was completely full! I’m not quite sure how we are going to go to the beach and the lake as planned in the next few months.
Our first stop was to see Lance’s family in Chesapeake, Virginia. Bella had previously met her grandparents, but on this leg of the journey she was able to meet three of her four great grandparents.
It also just so happens that three of my college hockey teammates live in Virginia Beach, and LJ just had a beautiful baby girl who is about 7 weeks younger than Bella. So of course we all had to get together and introduce the babes.
It was hilarious to see a baby smaller than Bella. I’m so used to her being the baby!
Our next stop was what should have been a six hour trip north to my dad’s house in the Philly burbs. However, I guess mother nature heard my request for snow a few months late, and decided to greet our 7:00 pm departure time with a snowstorm on the eastern shore of Virginia. Bella and I both had quite the scary first time trip across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. If you’ve never heard of this monstrosity, it is a 22 mile bridge spanning the Chesapeake Bay that is broken up by two one mile tunnels. The flurries that we encountered just after paying the toll turned into an all out snowstorm once we came out of the second tunnel. You know all of those “bridges freeze first” signs that dot northern roadways…they had me more than a little worried! But I took it slow and hoped that things would get easier once we hit land. Yeah, not so much. As soon as we hit the eastern shore the roads were a total mess. I was going 35 mph maximum and occasionally dropping down to 25 mph. We passed six cars in ditches (amazingly, all but one already had a police car there helping) in a 10 mile stretch. I was seriously considering pulling over at a motel for the night, but my passenger seat meteorologist was telling me the weather would improve as we went north. That plus the tales we had just been told the day before about the eastern shore arsonist made us plug along. Eventually, I found a nice big rig to drive behind and we made it far enough north that the snow slowed and eventually stopped. We made it to my dad’s house around 2:00 am, just a little over an hour longer than expected.
While at my dad’s house, the whole extended family came over for a Passover Seder. Bella got to meet tons of new people!
Yes, she wore two different dresses to the Seder. Call her a celebrity. Or, note that Mom Mom needs to learn how to change diapers faster.
Before her bedtime, we gathered everyone out on the deck for a big family photo. I’m impressed that we managed to fit 15 adults, 3 toddlers, 3 dogs, and 1 baby into the picture. Maybe next year the dogs will look at the camera.
The next day, we made the 45 minute drive to my mom’s house and unpacked the car for the third time.
We went to visit my grad school classmate Amie, and her six month old. Amie and I were actually due just a few days apart before my miscarriage, so we went through a lot of pregnancy stuff together. Since I was on bed rest for Thanksgiving, this was my first time seeing her little girl.
The next morning, my Penn State/North Carolina friends Kate and Joe (who have since relocated to 10 minutes from my mom’s house) came to visit with their just-about-one year old, Nolan.
The hilarious thing to me is that I’ve been watching Nolan’s monthly photos for a year where he poses with his Curious George stuffed animal, and as he has gotten older he has been grabbing and throwing around his Curious George during photo shoots. I think he wanted to do the same with Bella ;-).
A few other friends visited as well. Our family friends Devona and Chris and their two kiddos, and my friend Alice and her boyfriend, Jim.
My mom’s side of the family came to stay over for her last two days in Pennsylvania. She got to meet my Aunt Debbie and Uncle Phil, my cousin Alex, and her great grandpa Bill, who spent 50+ years married to her namesake.
My Aunt Debbie had a great idea to replicate a photo from when I was 10 weeks old with a giant panda bear that had been a present when I was born. So we propped Bella up on the panda and took her photo with it.
Our trip concluded on Saturday, when we split up the 7 hour drive home with a stop to visit my friends Jen and Casey and their two-year old, Logan.
It was an exhausting trip, but I’m so glad we did it. I absolutely loved introducing Bella to everyone and I’m so happy that we had the opportunity.