Grandpa's 80th Birthday - A Weekend Trip to Illinois

This past weekend we had the opportunity to travel to Galesburg, Illinois and celebrate David's Grandpa's 80th birthday with family. I can't tell you how happy I am we were able to make this trip. In the 13 years that David and I have been together, this is only the second time I have been to Galesburg, the first of which was when Raley was 10 months old. This was Raley's second time seeing Grandpa and Audrey's first.

We left Thursday evening after David got off work and drove 4 hours to Paducah, Kentucky to spend the night. Our plan was to get up, quietly get ready, put the girls in the car while still sleeping and leave at 6:00 am. The girls had other plans. Audrey woke up shortly after we did and wouldn't go back to sleep. She has NO volume control so we were a little on edge about how loud she was being in the hotel at 5:30 in the morning.  I got her ready and sat her down with the iPad to watch a movie  and she was doing pretty well until Raley got up, then they were fighting over who would hold the tablet and being SO LOUD! It was a frustrating morning, but we got everyone ready, to the car and went ahead and ate a good breakfast at Cracker Barrell in Paducah before hitting the road.
The best road snack - macarons from La Rue French Macarons

We learned from our car ride to Mobile for the cruise that the girls ride SO much better when they are separate, so we split them up for this trip too - one in our car and one in David's parents' car. They were both great! As long as we have plenty of movies to watch in the car, they tend to do pretty well.

We arrived in Galesburg around 3:00 on Friday afternoon and went straight to Grandpa's house to visit for a while. We were able to snap these pictures of Grandpa with the girls and I can't help but have the biggest smile on my face every time I look at them. His smile says it all!

I think I speak for the entire family when I say that we are overjoyed at how well Grandpa is doing. He has Parkinson's and the symptoms had started to take a toll a few years back. He was having a hard time getting around, needed assistance with eating and simple household chores.

However, a little over a year ago he was able to have a procedure done that would help with his Parkinsons' symptoms and allow him to be more independent and improve his quality of life. The treatment is called Duopa, which is a suspension that is delivered continuously, by pump, through a PEG tube into the stomach. This way he is getting an around the clock dose of medication instead of taking a pill a couple times a day.

It is absolutely incredible how much he has improved since the procedure.  He does his own grocery shopping, cooks, cuts his grass with a riding lawn mower, and he drives himself to the YMCA to work out. He has lost quite a bit of weight because he is able to get up and move around so much better.

This is a fairly new procedure and not many doctors are performing it yet, but if you have a loved one who has Parkinson's, it is definitely worth mentioning to their doctor. It has absolutely been life changing (I would even say life prolonging) for him. [Read more]

Anyway! For his birthday he wanted to spend the day with family, watching football, eating pizza and peanut butter pie. We stayed at David's Uncle JC and Aunt Jane's house, which is where we spent most of the weekend. Everyone gathered at their house Saturday night to enjoy some delicious pizza from Italian Village in Monmouth, Illinois, watch football and just enjoy each others' company. (Roll Tide BTW. My stomach is still in knots from that one.)
Raley loved JC. She called him "best friend" all weekend
On Sunday Gigi and I took the girls to Discover Depot Children's Museum. They had so many cute exhibits for kids to play with and learn from. There was a farm, a plow simulator, lots of different community areas like a bank, grocery store, vet/pet boarding area with stuffed cats and dogs, and a pizzeria.

There was an ambulance and firetruck, which the girls loved. Raley put a huge stuffed dog on the stretcher in the ambulance and was taking care of him. I think I see a future nurse in her.
How cute is this?!
There were several children at the museum who, as far as I could tell, did not know each other, but they were all playing fireman together. They would run from the firetruck, up the stairs to the "pet boarding" area where there were several stuffed dogs in cages. They'd say "Fire! Save the dogs! Save the dogs!" and each of them would grab a dog and run back down the stairs. It was insanely adorable and refreshing to see nice, cooperative play between children who don't know each other.
Audrey enjoyed climbing up and down the firetruck "ladder"

We got up before the sun and pulled out of JC and Jane's driveway around 4:15 Monday morning. We got the girls out of bed and put them right in their car seats. Luckily they both fell right back to sleep and we made it about two hours down the road before stopping for breakfast. We finally made it home, exhausted from the drive, at 5:15 Monday evening. I'm definitely glad we got to spend and extra day and come back Monday instead of Sunday.

I've said it already and I'll say it again - we are so so so happy we were able to make this trip. It meant so much to us to spend time with family we hardly ever get to see, and I know it meant a lot to them too, especially Grandpa. I haven't had the pleasure of knowing him all my life like David and Lindsey have, but I am happy to have known him for the past 13 years. He is an incredible person and, as a school teacher and coach, has touched the lives of so many in his community. In the future we hope to get to make this trip more than once every 3 years!
How sweet is this bye-bye hug?
Happy Birthday, Grandpa! We love you to the moon!

You may also like:
Raley Meets Grandpa
Tips for Traveling With Baby
The Ultimate Packing List (downloadable PDF)

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