Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Vacation, had to get away!

A couple of months ago, I signed up for weekly newsletters from They often provide helpful quick tips targeted for moms with babies exactly Jack's age. Just yesterday, in fact, I learned that eight-month-olds like to play tug of war, and it turns out they are right! Since that is not a game I would have thought to play, I have to hand it to

Nevertheless, sometimes thinks I am a complete moron. For example, at the start of the summer travel season, there was an article on "Seven secrets to successful travel with a young child." Seeing as how The Husband and I were planning a trip to Maine, I clicked on the link to learn these seven mysterious secrets that would make my life easier. Except as it turned out, they weren't particularly mysterious after all. Take secret number 2: "Pick a family-friendly destination." Really? A family-friendly destination? Not a couples' resort? Not a hike through the rain forest? You don't say.

The final "secret" was to take practice trips; that is to say, start out with a short one or two night trip to see how your kid travels before you head across the country for three weeks. Once again, this seemed obvious to me, and is actually what we were already planning. My sister had invited us up to her family beach cottage in Maine, and we went for one night. This past Sunday night, in fact. We had been slightly anxious about how Jack would do sleeping in a strange place, but we needed to get the heck out of our house for a while, and a beach house complete with free babysitters in the form of cousins seemed perfect to us.

Our plan was to drive up during Jack's morning nap, but of course we couldn't pack everything he needed until Sunday morning because he was still using a lot of it on Saturday night. This meant that we had to use Jack's two hours between his getting up and his going down for his first nap to feed him, dress him, pack all his stuff, and get all the stuff to the car. Oh, and The Husband also had to go to Home Depot to buy brackets or some such for the new porch railings we had to put in on the downstairs apartment. (These railings need to be painted, by the by. Someone kill me.)

Do you realize how much stuff babies need? Even for one night? The Husband and I had one suitcase between us; Jack had a suitcase of clothes and diapers, a suitcase of blankets, toys, and books, a Pack 'n' Play, a booster seat, and a bag of groceries. And we still managed to forget some stuff.

Happily, the trip was fun. Not as relaxing as a trip without a baby, but Jack napped just fine in the afternoon and went to bed without complaint. He did wake up again when The Husband and I went to bed four hours later and he naturally had a leak. That was when we discovered that we forgot to bring extra overnight stuffers for our diapers and we that had only brought one pair of pj's. But eventually he went back to sleep and we did well until morning.

Unhappily, Jack woke up at 5:00, the worst possible time for a baby to wake up. At 5:00, the baby has had lots of sleep, so he is less tired and takes longer to go back to sleep, if he ever does. You know what doesn't help matters? Moronic parents. Because a travel tip that left out was that if your normally contented baby is crying and fussing after 6 hours in the same diaper, his diaper just might need to be changed. I tried to get Jack back to sleep for an hour, and The Husband and simply I could not understand what could be wrong! "What is the matter, Jack?" we kept saying. "Just go to sleep! Why won't you go to sleep? We can see you are tired! What could possibly be making you uncomfortable? WHAT COULD IT BE?" Eventually, The Husband got up to take Jack away somewhere and give me another twenty minutes or so, and lo and behold, he had leaked through again. And was also poopy.

But still, Jack - and therefore we - had a great time. The weather cleared for an hour or two on Monday, allowing us to go to the beach. Although we put Jack in his retro bathing suit for the sheer adorableness of it, neither The Husband nor I wore our bathing suits. This is because the water in Maine is cold. Very very cold. Bone-chillingly, painfully cold, and we are getting older. Besides, we figured we would only be able to stay at the beach for an hour or so before Jack got hungry for lunch.

Of course, I neglected to consider that Jack would try to eat sand for lunch. And then, after tasting it the first time, try to keep eating it. In fact, we spent a lot of time this weekend fishing foreign items out of Jack's mouth. One in particular that he was loathe to relinquish turned out to be a mysterious black slimy thing that we didn't even want to think about until someone realized it must have been a piece of Oreo dropped by his two-year-old niece. Hey, I would also be mad if someone held me down and took the Oreo out of my mouth.

But all in all, it was a successful "practice trip." We now know that Jack will sleep in the Pack 'n' Play in a strange house and that we should always bring extra pajamas. We know that sand and Oreos are equally delicious and that it is not possible to stay clean at the beach with a mobile infant.

Oh, and we know that sometimes, he needs his diaper changed.


Mary said...

Jack has a two-year-old niece?

Arwen said...

Hee-hee to Mary's comment.

I would never have thought to play tug-of-war with a baby, but I just tried it with Camilla and she is definitely a fan. Who knew?

Traveling with a baby can definitely be nervewracking... in the past four months we've taken Camilla on one trip across the state (2.5 hours in the car each way), two trips upstate (5 hours), one trip to another state (6 hours) and one plane trip across the country (a day each way, with layovers). Clearly we are insane. I've got no excuse for it except that, uh, we wanted to go? And we figured we could just take the baby with us?

There have definitely been some moments I don't want to relive (like when she peed on my lap minutes after we boarded a plane) but for the most part, I think traveling with a baby is definitely worth the hassle. I'm glad you enjoyed your practice trip, and I hope Maine is fun.

Mo said...

Uh... right. My two-year-old niece. Jack's cousin. Oops!

Arwen, you're making me feel that my claims of being a relaxed, roll-with-it mom are unfounded because the thought of flying on a plane with Jack scares me to death. However, it sounds like you also took "practice trips" as it looks like your trips got increasingly longer.

How was flying with her? Did she sleep the whole time? In your arms? Was she crawling yet?

mary said...

(Mo, you know I was kidding anyway, right?)

Mo said...

Mary, yes, I know. No worries.

Arwen said...

Yup, we started small, with one night away (we met Maggie!), then did a couple long weekends before we took the flight. Had the early trips been nightmares we might have thought twice about the plane trip. However, they were manageable, and when we went on the plane trip we realized that we'd actually rather fly than drive long distances, since she can sit and play and doesn't have to be strapped in her car seat. Trying to make her understand that the car seat is still necessary after she's been in it for hours is difficult.

She wasn't crawling yet at the time, so that did make it easier - she didn't have a desire to get down and move around. She didn't sleep more than usual, just her regular nap schedule, but it was enough to give us little breaks. The trip back was kind of long - 14 hours door-to-door - with two layovers, so we were exhausted at the end of the day, but all in all? Not nearly as awful as I'd imagined it would be.