On Wednesday a few weeks ago our boss emailed Waldo and offered to fly us all to Montana for the weekend so we could attend the office Christmas party. He offered last year but we couldn’t accept because the party was the same weekend as Lily’s birthday party and I had worked too hard on that party to give it up. This year we had no reason not to take Fred up on his offer and we also couldn’t turn down a chance to see our friends. Lily hadn’t flown before so I was a little concerned about how she’d do on the plane. Neither Waldo or I were excited about the security crap at the airport, but we have missed the little family we made for ourselves in Montana so we put our fears aside and took the leap. We had a free place to stay, free airfare and we found a good price on a rental car, we were set.
Thursday night we worked like mad getting ready. I made sure that I had a lot of snacks for Lily, luckily I had just dehydrated a bunch of apples, pears and bananas the day before so we were set. We ran to Target and got Lily a little travel drawing thing to keep her occupied and we made sure her netbook was packed with her favorite movies and tv shows.
I laminated a free internet coloring page and she used her dry erase crayons on it and had a blast. I wish I would have thought of doing this before we bought the $10 travel dry erase board. I would have just bought the $4.00 dry erase crayons and been done with it.
I had her look out the window when we were above the clouds once. She thought it was neat, but wasn’t nearly as excited as I had expected her to be. This was pretty much the first and last time she looked out the window.
We got off the plane and Lil was still in a wonderful mood even without a nap. Waldo called the rental car guy and he drove over to pick us up and take us back to his office. When Lil saw us putting her car seat into a strange car, with a strange man driving, she lost it. She just melted into a puddle of sad Lilyness right there in the snow she had been so excited about. We had to force her into her seat and after a while she fell asleep while we drove to the rental office. I felt bad for the rental car guy, but he said that he has a 3 year old so his ears are used to the high pitch scream.
When we got to the place we were staying Lil woke up and the meltdown continued. For a little while we weren’t sure if I’d be able to go to the office Christmas party, which was the whole reason we were flown to Montana. We tried everything we could think of, but nothing worked until I used my magic bullet. I nursed her for about 5 minutes and she calmed right down. Lil wasn’t completely over it, if we said the wrong thing or tried too hard to get her to do something she would melt a little again, but we were able to calm her. Once she was mostly calm we all got ready and somehow got her back in her car seat and off to the party we went. It was at a restaurant that we weren’t familiar with so we got a little lost. That was embarrassing, but we got there eventually and it just became a joke pretty soon. Lily was great at the party, her normal shy, but super cute self. We kept her up way too late, but even on the drive back to the house we were staying at she did great.
The next morning we got down to the real business of why Waldo and I wanted to go back so badly. We went to breakfast with our chosen family. We picked Jack and Becky up at their house and drove to the Buffalo Cafe, our favorite place to eat in Whitefish. Some of our other friends met us there for breakfast: Malcolm, Gil, and Gil’s new girlfriend Rachael.
While I was getting Lily’s bib and highchair cover out of the trunk Becky asked Lil if she could pick her up. Lil said yes and Becky carried her most of the way to the restaurant. This is huge for our reserved, shy girl. She never lets anyone pick her up, but Lily and Becky go way back and even if we haven’t seen Becky for a year and a half, we talk about her all the time. Becky is my best friend and it’s perfect that she’s dating Waldo’s best friend (and hetero life mate) Jack.
I had to grab a picture of downtown Whitefish. A better version of this picture is on postcards all over the place. It’s so beautiful; the boughs and bells, Big Mountain in the background. This is one of the thing that is so nice about living in a tourist heavy city, the city really makes an effort to be beautiful.
Lily was the star of the show at breakfast, and she ate just about everybody’s orange slices.
We have sat at this table before in any number of combinations of these people and it was just as wonderful as I remembered and had expected it to be. It was so nice to get to be ourselves with these people who love us for just who we are. We don’t have to wear any masks. Even Rachel who I met minutes earlier got to see more of me then anyone in California or Idaho has with the exception of Waldo of course. Rachael and I chatted and made small-talk over scrambled eggs, I hate small-talk normally, but it was pretty easy with Rachael. With everyone else it was like being home again. The conversations flowed just like they have for the last 14 or so years. Jack, Malcolm and Becky were on the left of Lily and I; reminiscing about the previous nights laughs and shenanigans. Waldo, Gil and Rachael on the right of Lily and me, talking about servers and end users suckage and I chatted with this group or that. Everyones conversations overlapping, a friend tossing more info in the other conversation and then back to your own. It was great. It was home.
A little tid-bit of knowledge: I lived in the apartment above the store on Becky’s right (that you can’t see) for 8 years when we first moved to Montana.
After breakfast Lily, Waldo, Jack, Becky and I went back to Jack and Becky’s house. Lily dropped her sunglasses in the snow and wasn’t at all happy with the snow on her glasses and shirt.
Lil is still reserved around Jack and he was trying hard to get her on his side. I can’t describe how much this picture melts my heart. Jack may be Waldo’s hetero life mate, but Jack and I have a great friendship ourselves and seeing this rather sweet moment just makes me so happy.
A different view of Big Mountain.
Lily really, really, really wanted to play in the snow so I took her outside and Becky came out, but didn’t plan on staying. Lily asked her to play and she couldn’t turn her down of course. I took the chance to take a ton of pictures.
Lily made a couple of snow angles. The snow angles even had the puff balls from her hat, they were so cute. Unfortunately the pictures without Lil didn’t turn out great.
Becky was helping Lil make a little snowman.
After a while Waldo, Lily and I made a quick trip to visit one of my former co-workers and friend Starr. When we got back Jack, Becky, Waldo, Lily and I all went to lunch and had a great time just being together.
Jack doesn’t like getting his picture taken. Honestly Becky doesn’t either, but I like the pictures I have of them. Since we only get to see them once in a great while I like having the reminders of what their
hats faces look like.
I had Becky take a picture of us. I don’t like just about any picture I’m in either, but I try to get over it so there’s a few pictures of me with Lil or our whole family together.
Becky has a thing for Legos. And by thing I mean full-blown obsession. Here’s Lil with Becky’s Lego-man lantern. Sorry about the weird picture, the light wasn’t great in the house and my phone doesn’t take very good low light pictures.
We finally made ourselves leave Becky and Jack’s much later then we had planned, but we just couldn’t pull ourselves away any sooner.
The next morning we had breakfast with our friends Anthony, Maggie and their 2 1/2 year old Conrad, and Jesse, Jamison and their 9 month old daughter Teagen. We all had a great breakfast at a place that Waldo and I had never been to, but I can tell you that we will visit that place again. Jesse and Jamison had plans for the day so they left after breakfast and the rest of us went back to Anthony and Maggie’s. It was really nice, we hung out and caught up on old times. I can’t believe that I didn’t get a single picture. Later that afternoon we headed back to the airport. Lily had just as good a flight on the way home as she did on the way to Montana. I really couldn’t have asked for more.
I have to say that we had a great time and I miss all of our fiends in Montana, but I was so glad to get home and back to our bed. Hopefully we will get to see them all again sooner rather then later.