Monday, October 19, 2009


Since most of my extended family lives in Wisconsin, I started planning a trip back almost as soon as Braeden was born. I want him to know that side of the family, and since not everyone gets out to Colorado that often, I have taken it upon myself to go to Wisconsin once a year. I planned the trip for October, thinking that 5 months would be a good age to travel with the little guy. Luckily, my mom would be traveling with me, so I wouldn't have to make the first trip alone (Chad had used most his time off for the year and had some big stuff going on at work, so he stayed home.)

We arrived at the airport on Thursday morning with 2 giant suitcases (you need a lot of stuff for one little baby :-) Luckily, both of our suitcases were just under the 50 lb limit. The only glitch was that the airline assigned separate seats for my mom and I, so we weren't going to be able to sit together. Luckily, I was correct when I told my mom that whoever was next to me would happily switch, because nobody wants to be stuck next to a baby on a plane :-) The flight was on time and Braeden fell asleep nursing before we even took off. He slept for half the ride and hung out and played the second half. Not a peep was heard out of the baby, definitely a good start to the trip.

My uncle Jim picked us up and took us to my Grandma Dunlap's place. She lives in a retirement home and has a 2 bedroom apartment. My mom, Braeden and I were moving in for the weekend. I really enjoyed staying with my Grandma. She is a phenomenal woman and I only wish she lived closer so I could see her more. I knew this would be a great weekend to spend with her. Upon our arrival, my Grandma insisted on taking Braeden around for all of her friends to meet. It was actually pretty cool to see how excited all of the senior citizens were to see a little baby. She is such a proud great grandma and I know that she loves my little guy so much.

That night we just hung out at my Grandma's and some of my aunts, uncles and cousins stopped by to stay hi and meet the new addition to the Dunlap family. My mom's side of the family is very large (I am the second oldest of 22 grandchildren on that side), so there were a lot of people to see.

Friday was very mellow during the day. My grandma lives in downtown Waukesha, which has an old main street type area with lots of shops and art galleries. We bundled Braeden for the chilly weather and perused the shops for the afternoon. I was definitely looking forward to Friday night because my cousin Anne was driving in from Chicago. While I love all of my cousins, Anne has been like a sister to me as we were growing up. She was one of the bridesmaids at my wedding and I was sooo looking forward to seeing her and introducing her to my new little man.

Before she arrived we met most of my Waukesha based family at a fish fry at the church. This was where most of my mom's side got to meet Braeden. He was definitely a hit! He was passed around from one person to the next, and remained fairly happy through it all. On a side note, I can honestly say I have never seen so many people at a church fish fry, there must have been over 500 people. It was unbelievable. That night we also found out that my cousin Ella was homecoming queen. She was super excited and definitely very deserving of her honor.

After hanging out at the fish fry, we drove back to downtown Waukesha to meet Anne and my cousin Jessie. It turned into a big night out in downtown Waukesha with several cousins and my aunts Marcy and Laurie and my uncle Jim. We all went to a great Irish pub on the main strip in Waukesha with live music. My mom stayed home and babysat Braeden, and I was so thankful to have the night out with my family (it is not often that I get out for drinks these days.)I had a great time out with Anne and the rest of my fam. Thanks mom, I appreciate you more than you know!!

Saturday, the main event for the day was a car trip to Madison. My dad's family lives there and it is about a 1 1/2 hour drive from Waukesha. We planned to leave during Braeden's afternoon nap with hopes that he would sleep during the car ride. This worked well and he slept the entire ride down. We met at my Aunt Debi and Uncle Gary's house and my Grandma Staebell and Great Aunt Margaret came over for dinner. Gary is soooo good with kids and he took every opportunity he could to hold Braeden. They were great buddies by the end of the night and I know they will be riding jet ski's at the summer cabin and talking sports as Braeden gets older. It was so good to see my dad's side of the family. Braeden is soo lucky to have all four of his Great Grandma's still living and doing great. He has now met them all, and I think he is a definite favorite of every one :-) After a great diner and an even better visit, we got ready to head back to Waukesha. This picture was taken right before we got ready to leave (Braeden was getting a little cranky). Unfortunately, the ride home wasn't as peaceful as the ride there. For whatever reason, Braeden does not like to drive when it is dark outside. He cried most of the way and finally fell asleep about 20 minutes from our final destination. My mom and I were definitely thankful to get back.

Sunday was a lazy day. We went to church in the morning and then over to my Uncle Jim and Aunt Marcy's house. Again, we saw most of my mom's family and just hung out with great food and drink. Overall, the weekend was a lot of "hanging out." I wouldn't have had it any other way. It was soo good to see everyone in a relaxed setting. As a kid, I always looked forward to the trips back to Wisconsin. As Braeden gets older, the trips will include more adventures (Brewers games, trips to the lake up north, adventures into Chicago and Milwaukee), but for this trip, hanging out is just what I needed. I love my family so much and it was so great to introduce them to my little guy.

Overall, Braeden's first trip out of Colorado was a huge success. The only drawback was his sleeping challenges. Braeden wasn't loving the pack and play, so I spent most of our sleeping hours with him on the boppy in a recliner. Traveling with a baby is definitely a challenge, but I am so glad I made the effort to get back to see my family. It was definitely worth it. I am already looking forward to the next trip :-)

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