Memorial

by Kayte

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Today we said farewell to my beloved grandma. Farewell, but never forgotten. She lives on through all of us with our commitment to family, our love of giraffes, our frugal habits, our Chicago roots, our steadfast determination in the face of adversity. Family was the most important thing to her, and I feel so fortunate that her great-grandchildren had the opportunity to meet her, and that she had the chance to know them. She was one of our most avid blog-readers; embracing technology in her 90s; sitting through dial-up internet speeds waiting patiently for photos to load. She will be sorely missed, but she leaves a family full of love and dedication in her wake. Love you Grandma-in-Chicago.

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1917 – 2015


Brookfield Zoo

by Kayte

For our free day in Chicago we decided to visit the Brookfield Zoo; a favorite family pastime. The weather was spotty, alternating between pouring rain and humid sun, but we managed a fun day visiting the animals. We spent a long time gazing at the giraffes, which were my grandma’s favorite; a love which has been passed down to Lola.

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My dad brought a bunch of old photographs with him to Chicago, and I found this similar fountain pose among them. My brother and I with our Grandma and Grandpa at the Brookfield Zoo circa 1993 or so? Maybe my parents can weigh in on the date…

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Brookfield Zoo circa 1993

 


LAX > MDW

by Kayte

This past February my grandma passed away at the admirable age of 97. Our family decided to wait for better (less snowy) weather to hold the memorial services, so we traveled to Chicago this May weekend to say goodbye. It was a bittersweet trip. Although the occasion was somber, we were all very happy to have our family together in one place. In a way it was fitting: my grandma has always been the focal point for family gatherings no matter how far-flung we have all become, and this weekend was no exception.

The kids were amazing travelers. I wasn’t quite sure how they would do now that they are both so mobile, but we were able to keep everyone happily distracted for the 4-1/2 hour direct flight. The trip was not easy by any means, but we sure had a lot less stuff than the first time the kids flew to Chicago two years ago. AND no one threw up on the plane (or elsewhere) this time!

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Mommy’s Boy

by Kayte

Max and I just got back from a trip to western Illinois. We had a great visit with Auntie Karen and Great Grandma. It was great to spend some one-on-one time with my boy and see our family.


Milkshakes

by Kayte

Today was our last day with Great Grandma. We decided to take her on a big adventure: out to lunch! She doesn’t get out of her retirement community very often, so it was a special treat. We met up with my Cousin Jessie at a Chinese restaurant and had a very nice meal together.

We went back to my Grandma’s for the afternoon activity: “Cooking Club.” We made milkshakes and listened to the activities director play the piano. After that it was time to say good bye.

Max was terrified of this bulldog sculpture. It took him three days before he could muster up the courage to touch it. He has statue issues

Facetime with Lola!


Senior Moment

by Kayte

Auntie Karen had to work today, so Max and I tagged along with my dad. After breakfast we drove to my Grandma’s place and spent the day with her. We stayed for lunch, which included squash grown in their very own vegetable garden. The activities director showed Max the piano, and I think he might be a natural. He didn’t bang on the keys like most two-year-olds, but used his fingers very gently. Time for lessons.

We finally got Max to nap in his pack-n-play this afternoon. He’s accustomed to 12 hours at night with a 3 hour nap during the day, so he’s been a bit sleep deprived the past couple days. Max was literally falling asleep standing up, but still fighting a nap, until Karen managed to auntie-whisper him. He was very refreshed after a solid few hours of sleep.

I still can’t get over the weather. Highs were in the 50s today and everything is so lush and green. We’re in such a severe drought back in LA, and it looks like we’ll be coming home to highs in the 100s. Ugh. Very glad I got to experience at least a couple days of Midwestern fall.

This is a year-later shot of the four generations photo we took last visit.


Great Grandma

by Kayte

Our first full day in Illinois we woke up early to the freshly-washed countryside. The air was cool and smelled so fresh – something we haven’t had in LA in a long time. After breakfast we made our way to the retirement community where my Grandma now lives. It had been over a year since Great Grandma had last seen Max. He was in fine form: running up and down the hallways, exploring outdoors, calling out Bingo numbers, and gobbling fresh apple pie. It was so nice to see Great Grandma and Max able to interact and bond.

Later that day my Dad drove down from Michigan to join the festivities. My mom and brother were unfortunately not able to make the trip, but they were much missed. We spent the evening exploring Karen’s huge yard/woods and Max bonded with her two dogs. We all went to sleep early again after full days and long drives.


LAX > MLI

by Kayte

Max and I left for a big adventure today to visit Auntie Karen and Great Grandma in Illinois. We decided it was a much more manageable trip with just two of us, so Brody and Lola stayed home.

Max was the perfect little travel companion. He was so excited to ride on a plane again and even remembered how to buckle his own seatbelt (drawback: he also knows how to unbuckle it). Somehow he managed to remain seated and entertained for two flights and 5+ hours of travel time.

At one point Max patted the seat next to him and said: “Lola airplane. Lola’s turn.” I know they’re going to miss each other…but hopefully not too much.

Max didn’t sleep a wink on the plane, but crashed immediately once he got into his carseat. He slept during the entire drive to Auntie’s house and was ready to explore when we got there. Karen cooked dinner while we settled in. We all turned in early that night, and were lulled to sleep by amazing thunderstorms. It felt great to be back in some Midwest weather.

 


Day 2: Chicago

by Kayte

Our first full day of “vacation” was a convergence of family. In addition to those already in Chicago, my brother (Uncle Paul) drove up from Nashville and my dad (Grandpa) drove down from Michigan.

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I say “vacation” but it really has been nice having a few extra sets of hands to help wrangle babies. It’s so nice seeing Max and Lola in the loving hands of their family. It makes me wish we all lived closer together.

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Cousin Jessie has been planning a park day with the babies forever, so we took a hot, sweaty walk (holy humidity!) to the local playground.

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We found some baby swings for Max & Lola and they absolutely loved it. It’s similar to one of the activities they do in therapy.

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Little Lola was still pretty small for the swing, and her head control was a little shaky, but she still had a good time.

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The adult kids in our family had a good time too 🙂

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Great-grandma was so great with the babies. I guess parenting is an instinct you never lose. She especially bonded with Lola. They spent most of the time cuddled up together on the couch. Max is more of a wriggler these days (much to my dismay).

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Today was the second day in a row that Max went home naked. Just as we were leaving for the hotel he gave Aunt Karen a nice vomitado shower. Both she and Max were covered, but amazingly the floor escaped unscathed. Let’s hope this doesn’t become a daily vacation tradition.

Our going to bed ritual went much more smoothly this evening. We turned out all the lights in the room and held Max & Lola until they were drowsy enough to be put down in their cribs without a fuss. No security guards tonight!


Day 1: First Flight

by Kayte

Today we took the babies on their first plane ride! We traveled to Chicago so they could finally meet their great-grandma. Our world has been fairly small to-date; first it was the hospitals, then the confines of the house, then the surrounding LA-area. Now their horizons have really been expanded.

We booked a late-morning flight so everyone was well-rested and we didn’t have to scramble too much. Although we gave ourselves plenty of time to get to the airport, we needed every minute. First there was a stalled car in the carpool lane on the 405, so traffic sucked. Then we realized we hadn’t driven the van in a few days and it was low on gas, so we had to stop. Then baggage drop was backed up past the queue. Then the security line was spilling outside of the terminal onto the sidewalk. Finally we made it to our gate about 5 minutes before boarding…just in time for Brody to get me a bagel 🙂

We packed (1) big checked suitcase with all our clothes, (1) small roll-on suitcase full of baby stuff, (1) diaper bag and (1) backpack with grown-up stuff. We also had (1) double stroller, (2) car seats and (2) car seat bases. We were *the people* you don’t want to get stuck behind going through security. Though I will say we were still faster and more prepared than some people I’ve seen going through security. Even with all our baggage I was sure I had forgotten something important, but we were well-packed and well-prepared.

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The babies were amazing on the flight. We booked an entire row (3 seats) so we had a car seat in one seat and one lap child. Lola fell asleep about an hour in and slept for most of the flight in the car seat. Max was a little fussy, but nothing terrible. He just needed constant entertainment/distraction. There was a baby toward the front of the cabin who cried more than our two combined, so I think we did pretty well.

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We fed them snacks on the way up and down – our pediatrician said the swallowing helps to alleviate the change in pressure. I may have overdone it with Max a little on the way down though. He was in the car seat during the descent and I kept feeding him puffs. With 10 minutes to go in the flight, I looked over and he (and the car seat) were covered in (and filled with) vomit. Oops. I wiped him (and the car seat) up best I could, and he finished his first flight naked. It’s a good thing we were able to do laundry at great-grandma’s!

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Aunt Karen picked us up from the airport. Their was much debate as to whether all our stuff (and us) would fit in her CR-V, but it was a breeze. She drove us to the house where the babies finally got to meet their great-grandma, and their big cousin Jessie (first cousin once removed, I think). It was pretty special. Great-grandma has been following the babies daily on the blog, and this meeting was much-anticipated.

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A friend with a baby suggested we keep the babies on California time (PDT), so they got to stay up “late” until about 9:30CT (their usual 7:30PT). We went back to the hotel to put them to sleep, which was a bit rough this first night. At home the usual routine involves the babies crying themselves to sleep for 5-15 minutes. But apparently ferberizing is frowned-upon in hotels. After about 15 minutes of fussing there was a knock on the door. It was two security guards checking to see if “everything was okay.” Oops. Max had fallen asleep at that point, but Brody and Lola had a stare-down until midnight when she finally passed out.

So there were a few bumps in our travel, but overall it was a huge success. I’m so proud of how well my babies handled the experience; new sights and sounds, lots of unfamiliar faces, ninja-move diaper changes, feeding and drinking on the go. All with big smiles on their faces.


Family Resemblance

by Kayte

We recently came across some old family baby photos. I think it’s pretty clear that Max is a spitting image of his dad. Anyone think Lola looks like her great grandma? Brody says no, but I’m not sure where else she would have gotten that petite little nose from.

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Max with Baby Pictures of Daddy (@ 4mo & 8mo)

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Lola with a Baby Picture of Great-Grandma Irene


Zoo Day

by Kayte

We had a big outing today! The weather FINALLY cooled down (low 80s) enough for us to spend the day outside. We met up with a friend from the NICU and walked and walked and walked. It felt so nice to be out of the house, enjoying the fresh air.

Los Angeles Zoo

Great-Grandma & Lola's Favorite!

Hi Great-Grandma Irene!

Big Elephant!

Max and his friend Jacob from the NICU