Our trip this weekend to Cham-bana was a little too eventful for my taste. Here is the long version of everything that happened:

Easy plan: we would drive down to Campaign Urbana to see my sister perform as an Illinette in the Homecoming game Saturday, celebrate my Dad’s birthday with a dinner out after the game, stay with great friends from our old stomping ground church: the Sutton family, present our plans for Africa Sunday after the service at a luncheon, and then drive home. Sounds simple right? Not at all as it turned out. Now that I am one day removed I can laugh at the series of minor inconveniences (that are not as minor with a baby involved) but needless to say it was interesting!
We drove out on Friday and were actually able to make the whole 2 1/2 hour drive without stopping. We were chatting in the blazer about how lucky we have been that our “ghetto ride” has made it this far on all these trips. Ha, we had no idea God was laughing from above. We arrived at the Sutton’s house and after putting Annikah to bed we visited with Bill & Jane. The Sutton’s have 3 “boys” that are now grown and we knew them from New Covenant Fellowship (our church in college). Jason and I were youth group leaders and along with Bill and Jane we took the youth group kids on several hiking, camping, and Habitat building trips (the most infamous one included “Uncle Billy’s death march” that leaders and kids alike doubted they would ever return from). The Sutton family was really a family away from home to Jason and me in our college years. They are warm, hilarious, amazing Jesus followers and we are blessed to know them.
Later Friday night we went over to Katy’s dorm room in the six pack (Scott Hall). Floods of memories came back as we climbed the stairs to the still ridiculously tiny dorm rooms. Katy then took us to “Late Night” which was called “Chomp” when we were there. It is where you can get snacks and food if you miss the normal dining hall hours. We could not believe the improvements! They had made to order lattes, smoothies, salads, and even sushi! I did not even know what sushi was in college. We grumbled like old bitter people that “back in the day we never had it so good” and “Katy, you better be grateful for this!” I think we even threw in a “we used to have walk uphill both ways to class” to clinch out positions as old farts! It was great to see Katy. I remember her visiting me my freshman year at U of I as an 8 year old little girl and crying when she had to leave. Now I was seeing my little baby sister in college with so much responsibility, choice, and independence. As a side note: I am also crazy proud of her. She is awesome at dancing and has managed to juggle the practice schedule, classes, and all the changes with grace and style. I want to be like her when I grow up šŸ™‚

On Saturday we awoke to Anni standing in the pack and play shouting grunts at us to get up. We acquiesced to her request and fed her breakfast and then went for a walk. We reminisced about how many things are different since we went to school there which only made us feel old AGAIN. We got ready for the game and headed over to the stadium. Our seats were the worst possible seats you could have all the way on the top level right in the freezing wind (but they were free- thanks Mom and Dad) so we were determined to make it work. Anni enjoyed all the sights and people to flirt with around her. Right before half time Mom called and said there were some empty seats down where they were sitting practically on the field. My parents were sporting so much Illini apparel that I am sure they could be arrested somewhere for an orange and blue offense to the senses.
After paying roughly 500 bucks (ok 1o) for a coke, pretzel, and a hot dog we went down to join them. They were great seats and we could see my sister dance!
We got to watch half time and my sister was fabulous! Annikah danced through the Marching Illini. She was so adorable and was happy as long as she could walk around.

We made it until the 3rd quarter and then I thought I better take Anni home and let her nap so she would not be a nightmare at dinner. I loaded her in the baby back pack and started the epic journey to the car (Jason came to help me load up everything and find the car as many of you know I am not all that observant of where I park). We got to the car, loaded it up, and strapped Anni in. Jason tried to start the car: nothing. He tried again: notta. After many not so grateful comments and attempts to start the car we realized our dear blue beat up blazer had picked this moment to meet her demise. So we are stuck in a freezing parking lot with an overtired baby and a dead car. We called the Suttons to see if they could come and get us and left a couple messages but never got a hold of them. We then called triple A and knew that we would probably wait there for at least 1-2 hours for them to come. I decided I needed to get home so I told Anni to look especially pathetic and we scoured the parking lot for anyone who looked remotely sober (remember it is the 4th quarter of the homecoming game so this is more difficult than you would think). I finally found a woman and her daughter and asked if they would mind driving me and Anni home while Jason waited for triple A. I was sure to look really sad and tragic and praise God she was so kind and drove us home and even refused to take any money. I arrived at the Sutton home and walked in to Bill and Jane sitting having lunch. Hilarious! They had not heard the phone ring or checked messages. I put Annikah to sleep. Poor Jason ended up waiting in the lot for the next 2 hours (the tow guy called me and said “we are having trouble locating the car because there is a game or something letting out”, yeah, no kidding?) and then another hour at the Midas shop. He finally called and said they found the problem and it was something with the fuel pump and would cost us around 800 dollars and they could not work on it until Monday. We decided we would deal with it later and get Jason home so we could celebrate my dad’s B-day. We met some other family members that had driven down for the game and went Chevy’s. Everyone was running late so by the time we got to the restaurant it was considerably after Miss Anni’s normal dinner time and for this infraction on our part she decided to not let us eat by causing all sorts of mayhem.

It was still fun to see everyone and celebrate my dad (who managed to really enjoy himself with a few drinks šŸ™‚ evidenced by the fact that after they sang to him he kept the embarrassing sombrero on the rest of the night.

That night we hung out again with the Sutton family and talked through the plan for Sunday which was now a bit stressful being down one car. That night Anni awoke many times ending with us just bringing her to bed with us where she slept soundly but we of course did not. On Sunday morning we did last minute preparations for the luncheon (we made African dishes to serve). Jane also was a huge blessing as she made an extra dish and dessert from recipes she found on line that were fabulous! My mom, dad, and Katy also came and helped set up and serve which made everything so much easier. We got to church early to set up the tables, lap top, etc and Anni had to take a nap in an office. She did stay in there for about 40 minutes but I doubt there was any sleeping. During church she grooved to the music and then; of course, when we got up to give an announcement she squirmed and acted the fool. After church we had the luncheon and presentation and it went well.

After cleaning up and getting to the Sutton’s we had an hour until the Black Chorus concert that Zak Sutton was performing in (even though he is not black, a funny story for another time). Anni hung in there and we went to the concert but within minutes we wondered if this was a good idea as sitting in our laps was not going to happen. She was cracking me up dancing and grooving to the music. She was “shakin’ what her Mama gave her” all over the place and people near us were actually giggling out loud. I started laughing so hard I was crying. I decided to distract her from running the aisles and dancing but feeding her a banana. This only worked in part because in between bites she was still working it out. We decided a little before intermission that we should duck out and feed her some dinner. We returned for the last 4-5 songs (this time standing in the back so not to attract any evil stares) and Anni went right back to dancing. The choir was swaying and clapping and Anni got so into it that she swayed and clapped her little self right into the wall and bumped her head. It was truly one of the best moments for me all weekend, just seeing Anni filled with joy and letting loose, not caring if it was appropriate but only concerned with having fun. She blessed me and I stopped worrying about all the mess we had to deal with for the car and getting home. For that moment I too did not care what others thought, about my grown up problems and I just smiled.

Since the car would not be fixed until sometime Monday Jason decided to go home with my dad Sunday night as he did not want to have to use vacation days to take Monday off. My mom generously agreed to stay with me and Anni got her hotel room for an additional night ( the oldest Sutton son; Ben was getting home from a Special Olympics tournament (he won!) and needed his room back). We went to our favorite Mexican restaurant; Dos Reales and I was lovin’ my 3 dollar mushroom quesadilla (my mom even stayed with Anni so I could enjoy this meal sans baby)! Right before Jason and my dad left he realized that the house keys were in the blazer so he could not get in once he got home (thankfully he realized this BEFORE my dad drove him all the way into the city or I would fear for him). He decided to stay at my parents house, wear dirty clothes, and just get up and take the train to work the next morning from the burbs.
After another night of frequent awakenings by Anni I was tired but knew I would be home soon. On Monday morning we took Anni to breakfast where she proceeded to destroy the joint by launching any food we offered. We wanted to go swimming in the indoor pool (it was closed but my mom convinced them to open it early after telling them our saga). After about 20 calls from Jason in Chicago to figure out the car situation (we ended up towing it to a place our friend’s knew about that was cheaper) we were told the car would be ready at noon. Perfect as check out was noon. After swimming I put Anni down for a nap and my mom stayed with her while I borrowed the Sutton’s van to run errands. My sister needed something from Target, I needed to exchange a sweater at the mall that my sister got me for my birthday, get gas for the Suttons, and pick up something to eat for Annikah and us. I arrived back at the hotel but opening the door would wake up Anni and as she was taking one of her only good naps of the weekend I was not about to do this so I texted my sister to see if I could drop the stuff off for her. My cell phone was dying (I did not bring my charger because we were supposed to be home by 7pm Sunday) so I called quickly and said “where are you?” It died. What is it with technology? It is supposed to make life easier but I just had to laugh at that point. Katy could be anywhere on campus. Two things I count on and take for granted always working: my car and phone were of no use to me. Jason and I had a discussion about this very issue. 10 years ago I would have never relied on a cell phone, no “I’ll call from the road” or “we can call and meet up.” But now our lives have adjusted as we are so used to being able to get a hold of anyone at any time, which I still am not convinced is a good thing. (For now I will not think on this & will keep mindlessly using my little flip collection of buttons and micro-thingies). By a miracle my phone did turn on again and gave me a few seconds of service to call and I was able to drop off the things with her! I arrived at the hotel just in time to hear Anni waking up. We packed up the Sutton’s car as we had to check out by noon and then ate our lunch in the entry way area. Still no call telling us the car was ready. I called and checked in and they said everyone was at lunch and it would be until 3pm. Great, no place to go with a baby. We decided to pass some time by shopping for some crafty stuff at Hobby Lobby for my Grandparent’s 60th wedding anniversary celebration coming up. Anything breakable in the place Anni wanted to touch so it was a tiring journey but she was doing well for being so off her schedule. We headed back to campus town for a treat still waiting for the car place to call my mom’s phone. Right as we were paying for our over priced smoothie they finally called. It was about 2:30pm and we immediately headed over there. After transferring everything AGAIN and paying the 777 dollar bill (painful!) we were on our way (after dropping off the Sutton’s car). My mom drove and I fed Anni the smoothie to keep her quiet (I reasoned there was fruit in there right?) We were off. Finally! After about 3 hours we were in Wheaton to drop my mom off and transfer more stuff. We stopped for cheap-er gas (than the city) and of course my card was rejected (probably because I had just charged 777 bucks in C-U) even though my mom had no credit cards I had another card to try and thankfully we were on our way with a full tank. At my mom’s house I fed Anni what little food I had left for her and we headed home around 6pm. We hit the worst traffic and the 45 minute trip turned into 1 1/2 hours. I felt terrible for Annikah who fussed and protested in the back seat. Jason was at home waiting outside as he had no key and I am stuck in traffic. I think hell with be like this, alone except for a baby crying the back seat, no phone, no snacks, no caffeinated beverage, and horrible traffic. Plus, maybe really hot. That pretty much sucked. We finally made it home and got Anni into her own crib; yeah! Me and Jason in our own bed; double yeah! The chaos had ended and although we are out some money and lots of time we are home, happy and safe with a funny (only now) story to tell.

I made a list of things from this weekend I would not chose to do ever again:
*me washing Anni’s socks & my underwear in the sink of the hotel b/c we are out of clean clothes
*chasing Anni around a restaurant while my once steamy food becomes frigid

*being stuck in traffic with no phone to call and tell Jason to use his extra waiting time to go get me Thai food!
*Switching Anni’s car seat 7 times into 4 vehicles over 3 days.
Not my idea of a relaxing weekend but everyone was safe and it sure was eventful!

  1. Anonymous says:

    okay i could comment on a lot of that but i’ll keep it simple – 1. i am glad that the weekend is now over for you 2. i love the mental picture of anni dancing herself into a wall 3. with all the yummy food at dos, you had to get a mushroom quesadilla? šŸ™‚

  2. Anonymous says:

    do not hate on the hongo quesadilla- it rocks! Love you girl!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Anni’s got soul, sista! ha!Rox-sounds ridiculous and exhausting. Hope you got some sleep! Cars do have a habit of waiting till just the right inopportune moment to kick it. Once, Sean’s emgine died in his truck when he was visiting me in Atlanta (I had moved up to start my job, but he wasn’t moving up for another month). It would have cost $5000 to replace the engine. Needless to say, he drove home in a brand NEW truck that we had no intention of buying that day. I feel you-$800 is a lot of money!

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