Somehow I just never get it. I always think I’ll have time when traveling to write blog posts and catch up on reading (!) and the like, forgetting that when we’re visiting family our time is spent doing things like, you know, visiting family. So I didn’t update from the road, and it’s taken us about a week to recover from our epic 10-day trip to Chicago, Iowa City, Des Moines, Janesville Minnesota, Dubuque, and Chicago again (!), during which we saw the grandparents (the kids’ that is), the great-grandparents, one of the uncles, and a slew of whatever my aunts and uncles and cousins are to my kids (I believe no one knows for sure).
It was heartbreakingly wonderful to see everyone, but man oh man, is this kind of travel not all that relaxing. Hurricane Irene stressed us out the day we were flying to Chicago, but we bravely persevered in the face of inconvenient weather. I basically did little but pack and unpack the diaper bag the entire time, and we never quite get to see everyone on our list, but in the end it all worked out just fine.The youth managed to survive family gatherings, long car trips, and sit-down dinners with grownups with only one super major meltdown when Harper went rock-star-in-a-hotel-room on her grandparents’ bathroom. I was actually really impressed with her. So much BEHAVING! She dealt really well with being so off her schedule, our of her routine. What a sport, this kid! One night she said, “We need to move! We need to move back to my apartment!” But for the most part, really was just such a good sport.
That said, if I have any advice to anyone traveling with a toddler and a baby, it is this:
Kidding! It really helped that all the grandparents very kindly arranged to have bedding situations all set for the kids, diapers in the right sizes, amusements, snackages, and such amenities, so that once we landed we really didn’t have to worry about those things. Make them do that.
Also, I packed a great many distractions for Harper: an adorable set of tiny crayons, finger puppets, books; I even stuffed my iPhone with the free-est kid apps I could find. But the traveltime amusement that was the biggest hit by far was our set of “Mystery in the Forest” Storytelling Cards.
Love those evocative, adorable illustrations by Melissa Sweet, whose work I’ve enjoyed for some time. And what a good idea these cards are. I told stories about winged girls and bicycling bears and curious squirrels until my tongue was numb. Then Harper started going through the cards and making up her own stories, which were amazing, if highly avant-garde.
Another fun aspect of the trip was the suburban culture shock moments Harper experienced visiting our parents: responding quizzically to the unknown word “driveway;” wandering towards families’ backyard swingsets wanting “play at the park.” At an empty playground she asked me, a little wistfully, if any children would come play with her soon. She also kept asking why we had to get in the car and if we would please just push her stroller for epic distances. We said, because we are lazy and mean.
ANYway. We arrived home very tired and extremely overly proud of ourselves for having made the voyage, parading the new baby unto the world, and bonding as a family along the way. The next day Harper was happily recounting all the fun she’d had. “I went on a long trip!” “Yes you did,” I replied. Then she cocked her head and squinted at me and asked very sweetly, “Were you there, Mama?”
Was I there, indeed!
I have no idea how this child got to be so very silly.