Once my husband went on terminal leave from the Marine Corps I knew we had to take the chance to go to New Jersey for my Poppy's 94th birthday. My Babci is 91, so I really wanted Will to get to meet his great grandparents. It is a long drive, we broke it up with a few days at my mom's house, but it still took nearly 9 hours to go from their house to New Jersey since we had to stop and feed and change Will. But we made it, and surprised them! They were so so happy. Babci held Will as much as possible, she loves babies, and rarely ever put him down.
I am so grateful we were able to make this trip. Poppy is getting pretty frail and it is hard to see him so weak, but he smiled big holding Will. Little Man is great grandchild number six and the fifth boy!
While in Jersey we tried to see as many people as possible and it still was not enough. On Saturday night we went to my old church, the one I grew up in and that Ryan and I got married in, so it was very special for us to have Will there.
I don't know if I will ever find another church like SEAS, but I hope we do someday! It still feels like home no matter how long we are gone and all our church friends loved cooing over Will in person instead of online! After mass we went someplace I never expected to bring my newborn and husband... my high school!
Our family friends we wanted to visit were there as their daughter had soccer practice, so we went and met up with them there. If you had told me ten years ago I'd be standing on the side of the football field with my family like that I would have thought you were absolutely insane. I was not popular or happy in my academic high school (my theatre high school was different) and my life only went up from there!
Sunday the 21st of August was Poppy's 94th birthday. Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins descended on the house and we had a giant dinner, lots of cake, and family time. I teared up more than once out of sheer joy. Poppy is playing the harmonica in the above photo to accompany our singing, which Will loved by the way!
All the present cousins (and spouses) with the birthday boy. The air conditioner was making Poppy cold, hence the blanket. The clock behind us a is a cookoo clock I bought back from Switzerland for them!
We also walked around the corner to where my brothers live so Little Man could meet his Uncle Sean and Uncle Shane! We even convinced Shane to hold him, which was impressive since he wouldn't hold our niece until she was nearly five months old!
Little Man also met his cousin Adrianna (and my brother's girlfriend Kelly, Adrianna's mom). They are almost exactly a year apart! Adriana was born on the fourth of July 2015 and Will was born June 29th of the following year, just five days shy! Naturally Will slept through the entire thing, but we took pictures as proof it happened.
On Monday Ryan took me in to New York City as an early birthday celebration. He hunted some Pokémon (and will never admit it) and we walked around a bit before stopping at Cabellas for lunch.
We shared a delicious plate of ravioli, since it is family style dining, delicious bread, and then cannoli. After we digested we walked to a place I always wanted to visit, the Museum of Modern Art.
For some reason in the two decades I lived in NJ I never made it to MoMA! I also really, really wanted to see my all time favorite painting, Starry Night. We may have gone back to that room two or three times before we left so I could glimpse again. Sure, I wish I wasn't holding on to some baby weight in this picture, but I am so glad Ryan forced me into it! There was a large crowd always gathered around it so it was a bit embarrassing to jump in front!
Ryan found Dali, so he was happy too. It was smaller than I expected! And Monet's Water Lilies took up an entire room! As did Jackson Pollock! When you only see it in books it is always surprising to see it in real life.
We also briefly met up with our friend Kim while she was at work. She was one of my bridesmaids when Ryan and I got married and went to my theatre high school with me, we have been friends over a decade now!
Four generations, one picture
It always breaks my heart to leave my grandparents, both my mother and I cried the first bit of the drive back to North Carolina. I am so grateful we were able to go visit and for the millionth time I wish I lived closer to them. It was an amazing trip and I think Will enjoyed his first visit to New Jersey!