This post is going to be long and image-heavy, just so you’re warned! I can’t think of any good way to break it up without having a ton of small posts, so I’m just putting the whole thing together.
We left our apartment in Birsfelden around 7:30 AM local time, which would be 12:30 AM in Peoria. May 1st ended up being a long day. We walked (in the rain) from our apartment to the tram stop, then took two trams to the train station. At the train station we caught a very packed bus to the airport. May 1st was a holiday in Switzerland, so a lot of people were heading out of town. Andy and G were at the front of the bus and I was in the back; it was standing room only.
We checked in to our flights and then headed through security. Once we made it through, while Andy and I were trying to get our shoes and belts back on and our electronics packed back up, G took off and ran backwards through security. I called her and she kept going; I had to scream to get her attention. Meanwhile some (presumably) Swiss man was giving me dirty looks for being so loud.
It was not an auspicious beginning to our trip.
We had a long talk with G about why that was not OK and that she couldn’t do that again. Oy. It was a rough way to start the day.
Once we were all calmed down, we grabbed a snack from the duty free store and waited for our flight to Amsterdam to start boarding.
Our flight itself was great. G got a coloring book, colored pencils, and a KLM passport cover from the flight attendants as we boarded the plane. We ate our in-flight snack (a “Brunchy” bar) and G played her LeapPad.
Our layover in Amsterdam was pretty uneventful, too. G relished her chance to entertain all the people waiting with us and regaled them with the story of biting through her tongue and bruising her chin last time we were in Amsterdam. Thankfully we did not have a repeat performance.
Flying east makes it a lot harder to sleep on the plane. It’s light the whole time you’re flying, so you don’t have the visual cue of darkness outside the window to encourage you to doze off. None of us got any meaningful sleep. Even our tried and true method of letting G watch Frozen as many times as she wanted to didn’t yield a sleeping child… until 45 minutes before we were set to land.
And then of course this happened.
Since none of us got much sleep on the plane, we were all pretty slaphappy while we were in the Detroit layover. After a meltdown because she didn’t like any of the tables available in Wendy’s, G put on a little show for us all.
We landed pretty much on time in Peoria and were very happy to see Dannie waiting for us! G ran to her, exclaiming, “AUNT DANNIE!” and giving her a huge hug. Another big thank you to her (and Baby Oliver) for meeting us at the airport so G had a car seat!
It was pretty late when we got to our friend Sarah’s house, maybe after 11 PM. After nearly an entire day of travel, we were all ready for bed.
On Saturday morning, we had breakfast at Le Peep with our lovely host Sarah and her boyfriend Ryan. Then we ran some errands: going to the bank, going to Target, and getting lunch at Chick-Fil-A. After that, Andy and G settled in for naps and I went to AT&T to get an American number with my brother and his girlfriend.
And a half-priced Frappuccino from Starbucks. American Starbucks is already a lot cheaper than Swiss Starbucks, so adding in Frappy Hour just made it seem almost free! (Actually, my first Frapp was free; thanks, Ray!)
Then G got to have some play time with Uncle Ray. She spent most of it ordering him around on how to vacuum the floor properly. Of course.
Saturday nights are pizza and movie nights for us here in Switzerland and we decided to follow suit that first Saturday in Peoria as well. Sarah was out of town and we had the house to ourselves, so we got a Papa Murphy’s pizza and watched Tangled.
I was supposed to go meet a friend to visit on Saturday night, but it so didn’t happen. She texted me as I fell into my bed and I said I would try to come see her… then fell asleep again. We all needed the sleep, so that was good, but I’m super bummed I didn’t get to see Melissa while I was in town. Hopefully next time!
Sunday was a big day. After getting breakfast at Starbucks, Andy had to hit the road to pick up Ziggy and G and I needed to get ready for ChrEmily’s sprinkle.
Dannie and Erin threw an awesome shower for Chris and Emily. I tried to take pictures, but I was still pretty out of it and I was also trying to wrangle my crazy child. Most of my pictures look like these.
Of course, when Nolan would hold Anna, then G would cry, “He has my Anna!”
After the sprinkle, and after G’s nap, we went with my brother for ice cream at The Ice Cream Shack. That’s been our family’s go-to spot for summer ice cream since I was a kid (our dad worked at the factory across the street), so it was nice to be able to go there while we were home.
We also got some positive feedback on one of our non-chocolate gifts we brought with us.
Oh. And someone else was back in Peoria and pretty excited to see us, I think!
Monday was a pretty low-key day. We had a great family dinner at Chris and Emily’s house; Andy’s dad made pizzas and they were delish. The kids played and we adults chatted. It was nice to catch up and it was nice to hear so much English!
We had lunch at Jalapeño’s on Tuesday.
After G’s nap, we went to her old daycare to visit her teachers and classmates. Her BFF from daycare is no longer attending either, but her mom brought her to visit, too, so that she and G could see each other again. It was a great afternoon!
That night we had an awesome dinner at One World with Sarah and Ryan. Andy got carded when he ordered a beer. He actually didn’t have his license on him (oops), but it just caught us so off guard. No one gets carded for alcohol here and we hardly ever got carded in Peoria anyway.
On Wednesday I got my much-needed haircut and color. My roots… man. They haven’t looked that bad in a long time! I need to find an affordable hair place here in Basel because I can’t wait until December to have my hair done again.
That afternoon we went to a playground in my old neighborhood for G to play. She had seen it when we were driving down McClure and said, “That looks like a nice playground!” so we went to check it out. It was nice!
After the playground, we had dinner at Jalapeño’s. I needed more Mexican food, you guys! Ryan and Erin joined us and it was a ton of fun. G and Ryan had a funny-face competition that was pretty epic.
On Thursday we met Dannie and Jason at the Peoria Riverfront Museum for the grand opening of the learning garden. The fb notification had made it sound like it could be fun for the kids, but it was definitely just a ribbon-cutting ceremony. We salvaged the morning by playing outside on the patio, though!
After the museum, we headed to Pure Bliss so that Andy and G could get their much-needed hair cuts. It had been too long for all of us!
Thursday night we had dinner at Agatucci’s with my brother and his girlfriend. The pizza was delicious, of course, and it was nice getting to sit down and talk to them for a while. My brother also gave G her belated birthday present, which she loved. It was a set of 3 fairy tales, but like real books. Long enough that we have to break them up as several bedtime stories. G doesn’t mind that, though, and the illustrations are gorgeous!
On Friday we had a big dinner with lots of friends: Sarah and Ryan; Renee, Brad, and their daughter Campbell (who’s a few months older than G); Bruce; and Kipling. We went to Granite City and ate too many potatoes and too much steak. And it was awesome.
Campbell and G got into an argument over who had the bigger feet, each claiming that she had the bigger feet and being very upset that the other wouldn’t acknowledge that fact. G has quite a few inches on Campbell (Andy and I are both significantly taller than Brad and Renee, so that isn’t surprising), but she has small feet for her height. So who has the bigger feet is truly a toss-up. We had to separate the girls and tell them that they weren’t allowed to talk about feet anymore.
After everyone had moved on, Bruce said, “Hey, I have a question. Who has the bigger feet?” And that, among other things, is how you can tell a single person with no children from a parent. He thought it was hilarious. We weren’t so amused (at the time)!
Saturday morning, Andy and I took G to meet her Grandma Kaffy (Andy’s mom) for her first sleepover of the trip. They spent the whole day together and G loved it so much!
Andy and I spent the day running errands. We were supposed to go to Bloomington for dinner and a movie with Sarah, Ryan, and some of their friends, but I felt awful. Right before we left for Peoria, Andy had to take a two-day trip to London for work. He brought back no souvenirs, but he did bring back a cold. Ugh. He was feeling lots better, but it was dragging me down, and spending so much time go-go-going had caught up with me.
So we got Thanh Linh carry-out and watched Netflix until I crashed out and went to bed. Super lame. I totally lamed out both Saturdays that we were in Peoria. I told Andy he’s not allowed to travel right before we go home for Christmas, although with December being right in the middle of cold and flu season, it probably won’t matter!
Sunday was Mother’s Day.
We were going to spend the afternoon out at Kathy’s house, but they were calling for severe storms, so we picked G up early and headed back into Peoria. We had brunch/lunch at Dannie and Jason’s house and then ended up doing a low-key dinner that night. G of course hadn’t slept much on her sleepover, so she needed an early bedtime.
We did get Cherry Berry for dessert, though. Gotta have sweets on Mother’s Day!
On Monday, Andy had to go to work, which was super lame. G and I took Ziggy to her vet appointment to get everything squared away for her flight to Switzerland. They said she looked great and cleared her to fly. We got copies of all our paperwork and were ready for our appointment with the USDA on Tuesday.
Our USDA appointment was at 10 AM in Springfield (because of course we couldn’t do it at the office in Peoria!). My brother had kindly agreed to come with me; I wasn’t sure how long it would take and I wanted someone there to entertain G in case I had to answer a bunch of questions. It also gave us a lot of time to talk and catch up and listen to music, so that was great.
We got to what I thought was the right office a bit early, but it was the wrong USDA office. We needed the USDA APHIS office. The lady at the first office told us where to go… kind of. It ended up being really good that Ray was there, as we needed his GPS to get us where we were going. (I’ll definitely be springing for data on my temporary number in December.)
We got there and I rang the bell for service. I gave the lady my name and handed over all of Ziggy’s paperwork and then she disappeared.
For almost an hour.
I had thankfully brought the iPad, so G was entertained. My brother had his phone. I played games on my phone and twiddled my thumbs.
I had pictured this going one of two ways: either the appointment would be super short and I would be kind of annoyed that I had to drive down there for such a short amount of time, or it would take for-ev-er and I’d be answering a million questions. This scenario of being there just sitting in the waiting room for such a long time never entered my mind!
Finally Ziggy was cleared to go by the USDA and we could get back on the road to Peoria. Once we got into town, we grabbed lunch and then I took my brother home and G and I both napped. Whew!
That night, G had sleepover #2 with Grandma Kaffy… and this time Nolan slept over, too! Kathy and Dennis are crazy! Andy and I had a huge dinner at Ryan and Erin’s: steak, fish that Ryan had caught, baked potatoes, edamame, and bread and butter. We were so stuffed.
Wednesday morning I slept in and then ran some errands on my own. It was kind of nice having a car to drive wherever I wanted and not having a 3-year-old to tote around with me. Freedom! I took Ziggy to get groomed (she was blowing out hair like crazy and needed her nails trimmed, and just like everything else, I figured those services would be cheaper in Peoria than here in Switzerland) and then picked up G from her sleepover.
Wednesday evening we were supposed to have a big family dinner at Andy’s grandma’s house, but she had come down with shingles in the middle of our visit (which was a major bummer), so it had to be relocated. Andy’s aunt Angie and uncle Tony (and family) hosted us; Dannie, Nolan, and Oliver; Chris, Emily, and Margeaux; Andy’s aunt Karen; and Andy’s dad and step-mom. It was a full house! I’m glad we got to see everyone, though!
(We did miss out on seeing a lot of Andy’s cousins while we were home and also his uncle Tom. Whom we were supposed to try to meet downtown on Thursday during lunch, but with the Ziggy flight fiasco, I totally forgot. Until we were on our way to the airport on Saturday. Oops. At least we’re very likely to see everyone at Christmas!)
That night, Andy called the airline to check Ziggy in for her flight on Saturday morning and we hit a major stumbling block: They said she wouldn’t be able to fly on the plane from Amsterdam to Basel (wrong kind of cargo hold) and that she couldn’t fly on Delta after May 15th anyway.
As I’ve mentioned before, Ziggy was the primary reason for this trip home. It was great to see everyone, visit, and eat way more food than we needed to, but the real reason we were there was to get Ziggy and bring her back to Basel with us. So obviously, this was a problem.
On Thursday morning Andy headed into work with a primary goal of figuring out how to get Ziggy from Peoria to Basel. It took him all morning and lots of phone calls, but he was able to get her booked on flights from Bloomington, IL to Atlanta, Atlanta to Paris, and Paris to Basel. He changed our flights so that we would fly from Atlanta to Paris and Paris to Basel on the same flights as Ziggy.
We also had lunch with all Andy’s coworkers in Peoria and our friend Quentin, who drove up from Missouri to visit us. It was a good feeling to have it all squared away and to catch up with more people!
That night we had dinner at Old Chicago; as much as I would have enjoyed some deep dish pizza, I got delicious mac and cheese instead. I had to get in as much ridiculous American food as possible, right? And I was running out of time!
Friday morning I was tasked with getting Ziggy ready to leave. We weren’t leaving until Saturday afternoon, but she had to fly out a day early.
Friday night we had the best wings in Peoria with Dannie, Jason, Chris, Emily, and the kids.
Ugh, the goodbyes, you guys! They don’t get easier! Especially with Emily so close to having Baby Isaac!
After G went to bed, Sarah and I made a Sweet CeCe’s run because why not?
Saturday morning was a rush of packing and saying goodbye. We had breakfast again with Sarah and Ryan and then I grabbed Starbucks one last time with my brother and Kayla. Then we were off to the airport!
Everything worked out and we made it to Atlanta.
Then the man who had kenneled Ziggy overnight arrived so that we could get her checked in for the long flight.
The flight from Atlanta to Paris was fine, and we all got some sleep, so that was a positive. We had an unbelievably long layover in Paris in a small terminal, so that was pretty boring for us. Probably it was more boring for Ziggy, but she seemed to survive OK.
As a final insult, Andy and I watched them not load our bags onto the plane. When Andy asked the flight attendant about it, he said we couldn’t be sure that they were our bags. In theory, yes, he was right; we couldn’t be sure. But without getting off the plane and checking, I was as sure as I could be. Andy said he’d bet our seats on it. It was ridiculous.
But whatever! We got to Basel and Ziggy was there! Yay! Our suitcases weren’t; shocking! That ended up being fine, though. With just Ziggy we could have a smaller taxi and this way when the airline had our bags sent to us, they had to carry them up the stairs instead of us!