We made it home, and it's never been so sweet! We had a wonderful visit with my family, but it was most definitely time for us to come home and try to re-establish some sort of normalcy in our lives.
We spent just over a week at home with my family, and it made me realize just how different it is to go on vacation with an infant. As if it's not enough to throw a new house and new sleeping arrangements at her, every day and night was something different. We traipsed Ella all over Northern California to meet new family members, kept her up late to visit friends and look at Christmas lights after the Christmas Eve service, and pretty much expected her to adjust to our crazy schedule. Poor girl--everything about the visit was different. She handled it as well as could be expected, but we ended up returning home a day early and opted to drive through the night again to try to be as good to her as possible. We had initially planned to split up our return trip into two days and visit my childhood friend after whom Ella is named, but my mom came down with a nasty cold and our extended-family Christmas gathering ended up being pushed to the 28th, so we just left from there and drove through the night and got home around 10:00 am this morning.
My husband and I both feel that Ella did better on the return trip than on the trip up to Northern California. She seemed to sleep for longer periods, woke up less, and calmed down quicker when she was put back in her carseat. She did have a pretty major blowout when we stopped to get gas just outside of Los Angeles that required an outfit change, but after our recent shopping adventures, I made sure to have three spares. Now that we're home, she seems to be rested and happy. The true test will come tonight when we see how she sleeps in her own cradle again.
It was such a blessing to visit my family, but we're also equally blessed to have made it home safely. It rained on us all the way until we reached Los Angeles, and again as we crossed into Arizona. But my husband and I took turns driving and didn't run into any problems.