Get ready for a reeeeeally long, picture heavy post. Normally I’d break this kind of thing up into a few posts, because there was more than enough fun for that, but then I’m never going to get this silly blog caught back up! This is the second time I’ve spent a chunk of my maternity leave in Kansas. The second time I decided to drive 1,219 miles with a newborn. Oh, and this time we had two 75pound German Shepherds, and a two and three year old. That’s another post for another day, but we made it. Spoiler alert: it was surprisingly smooth. The night we arrived, I threw the kids in the bathtub (traveling germs – yuck), clean pajamas and Netflix in bed, and unpacked the car. Set up two pack and plays, our big wire dog kennel that the dogs share, and everyone was asleep pretty darn quick. We made it!
On our first full day in Kansas, we were pretty happy to be freeee after two days confined by seatbelts and carseats. We started making a game plan for our week, because when I fail to plan activities for these crazy kids, they drive everyone in a 20 foot radius n.u.t.s. We settled in to Grandma’s nice clean house leaving a path of destruction wherever the big kids go. We also raised the decibel level a couple notches, which only scared my brother out of the house on day one. My dad would be a few days later.
The living room quickly filled up with a whole bunch of family that we really love. And a lot of dogs. Much to the kids’ delight, they had alllll the attention on them.
We started off our day with a trip to the Walmart to stock up on kid food and supplies. Kids need sooo much stuff, and a lot of stuff we left behind for the sake of space in the car. Of course, bubble bath was one of those things and we could not possibly go an entire week without bubbles in our baths. When I suggested to Julia sharing her new Ariel bubble bath with her brother, this is the face I got.
Then the visitors started sprinkling in. Oh, how we are grateful for all these people that love us from so far and we were happy to see so many of them. I didn’t get pictures with everyone, but here are a few with our friend Robin, and my parents’ great friend Sue.
We ended a few of our days with a little walk around the neighborhood that looked like this.
And so began the quest to find indoor activities to wear out the big kids, because it rained the entire rest of our trip. Plus, the temperatures were 30-50 the whole time, so we avoided the outside every way we could! And so also began endless rounds of “rain, rain, go away” from the back seat of the car. After 1,219 miles of listening to the Moana soundtrack, I almost wanted to listen to it again. Almost. We hit up the local indoor jungle gym called “Monkey Bizness.” Besides Julia getting stuck at the top of a giant inflatable slide too scared to come down, and an entire church daycare making my obsessive need to have both kids in eyesight at all times a little difficult, it was a complete success.
And so we began checking off the things-I-want-to-do-in-Kansas list with a trip to Fritz’s, a local train-themed restaurant where a train delivers your food on a track from above. Mitchell’s mind is blown every time we visit.
Grandma came along and held Aubrey the whole time, so I could focus on swimming with the big kids!
After the Great Wolf Lodge, we went to one of my favorites – Jose Peppers. Julia, my child who does not sleep on laps, slept the ENTIRE meal. That’s how you know she was good and tired! Didn’t even wake up for cheese dip!
My Dad, Mitchell, Aubrey, and I made a little road trip to Pittsburgh, Kansas, and ate at one of my family’s favorite restaurants – Chicken Annie’s! We really drove down to visit a few places that are a part of our family history, and it made for a (very rainy) fun day. We also drove through Fairland, Oklahoma, where my grandfather was born and raised. And saw the world’s largest electric shovel, Big Brutus, where my grandparents went on their first date. By the time we got home, we were soaked and muddy, but it sure was a day we’ll remember forever.
Julia and I made a few trips to Target for some “necessities!” The definition of a necessity seems to change at the Target threshold, because everything is so darn cute! Our first trip was for a swimsuit for me (I forgot to pack one for the Great Wolf Lodge adventure!), and the second trip was for a pair of tights for Julia, since we packed so many dresses thinking it would be warm weather!
She picked out the cutest pair of pink tights and rocked her dresses the rest of the trip with tights and her new pink rain boots. So Julia! A few friends offered to let us borrow clothes, which was SO sweet, but we were a few days from heading back and wore and washed the tights instead. I couldn’t believe that all the winter clothes are out of the sale racks already and the spring/summer wardrobes have taken over! My favorite time of year!
We baked (aka bought from Walmart) some cookies and took them to the Prairie Village Police Department to say thank you, and hello to a few old friends! When I was still in school, I worked here as an intern, so it was fun to see a few familiar faces!
The weather and all of our activities kept us tired, so we spent quite a bit of lazy time at my parents’ house too!
I took advantage of this triple car nap to pick up a girl who I once babysat (who has become an adult friend – crazy!) for a car chat and Sheridan’s Frozen Custard! What better way to pass time in the car with much-needed sleeping kids than drive-thru ice cream?! Fun fact – this was the very first place I drove when I got my permit 14 years ago – at 14 years old!
Grandma’s basement is full of lots of fun toys from my childhood!
Waking up next to these bedheads is the best.
Yes, that is a fire in the fireplace! It was really that cold in April!!!
We were so excited to catch a sermon at the church I grew up in.
After church, we headed to my dear friend Rachel’s house, except she was at home in D.C. Sorry we missed you, Rach! We caught up with her family, and were especially excited to see her sister and mom! Her sister’s name is Julia too!
Annie the baby whisperer!
We spent a day up in Topeka visiting my mom at the Kansas Capitol Building, and were able to sneak in a visit with our friend Diane, and my Aunt Christeen and Uncle Kenny! Mitchell just loves Kenny to pieces, if you can’t tell! They have a few of their own grandkids, so they have a nice stash of toys in their basement for the kids to play with while we chatted! I completely forgot that they babysat the kids back in October (my mom dropped them off for the afternoon!), and could not figure out how Mitchell knew exactly where we were and that there were toys there! They got to meet sweet little Aubrey for the first time! Oh, and they gave Julia a belated birthday card that was worth its weight in gold because she has not put the thing down since she got it. It has gone on no less than four trips to the park and three walks around the neighborhood.
We spent another rainy day at Union Station in downtown Kansas City. This is an old train station that was converted into a lot of cool things – including a kids science center!
We spent practically a whole day at Science City! When we walked in, I gave the kids the usual pep talk, but this time instead of telling them not to touch anything, I told them they could touch everything. And their faces LIT UP! Mitchell looked like he didn’t quite believe me, but boy did he have fun when he figured out I was serious!
We took a break and walked across the street (thankfully in a sheltered walkway safe from the rain!) to another Fritz’s, much to Mitchell’s delight!
This boy loves him a train restaurant! I’m in disbelief how much he catches onto these days. After eating at the other branch a few days before near my parent’s house, he remembered it when we drove past it earlier that day! Without me saying anything and quietly driving down the road in a place completely foreign to him, he saw it and immediately said he wanted to eat with the trains again! This boy is so smart!
Much to our delight, the field trips were gone from Science City when we returned, so we practically had the place to ourselves! I was on the fence about going back after lunch, but when we saw the crowds disappeared, we were sure glad we did!
We got a break in the rain for our last full day in Kansas and spent it at Deanna Rose – a local Children’s Farm! But not until Aubrey had a little snack in the car first, of course.
We met up with some friends, too! Check out Amanda and her military spouse blog HERE
Mitchell actually told Grace before the picture that they were going to hold hands. Told her. She wasn’t as convinced. We’re going to have to work on his sweet talking, ha!
We hit up the garage sales near my parents’ house since we were there during garage sale weekend. Gotta love those cheap clothes! Especially when you realize you are now shopping for three kids, ha!
We ended the trip with a family dinner with the whole fam (minus Steve) at the table. What a blessing that was.
After a nice, long visit, we loaded up the car and headed home. On the way back to North Carolina, it just so happened that my childhood friend Ellie (who lives in Arizona) was in Nashville, TN for her sister’s college graduation on the exact day we were driving through! And since it was exactly the halfway point between Kansas and North Carolina for us, we booked our hotel in the same town so we could meet for dinner! We met for a late dinner at a local Red Robin and talked as fast as we could the whole meal! It was so wonderful and even more lucky we were able to catch up like that! A few tricks of the trade that we’ve picked up road tripping with kids/babies and dogs coming in a post soon. But that’s all for now!
If you made it through that whole post, I’m impressed! That’s a WHOLE lot of pictures! I didn’t realize we did so much in Kansas until I started looking through them and realized we were some busy bees while we were there! Coming tomorrow – a recap of our visit with Representative Brim at the Kansas House of Representatives! But now, I’m off to read my book for bible study, since I thought it was Wednesday until about 10:00 this morning and realized that I’m hosting everyone tonight! I’ve officially reached the point of maternity leave where I’m forgetting the day of the week, and I love every bit of it!