Saturday, June 27, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Robin, Lydia, and I have arrived safely back in Austin after being gone for nearly two weeks. Our trip was as packed as it could have been, and like always, I still feel like there were a lot of people we didn't see! I will post pictures as soon as possible, but I wanted to talk about the things we did that made our time in the car go so smoothly.

--One of us sat in the back seat with Lydia nearly the entire trip. There were a few periods when she was sleeping pretty soundly that I crawled up into the passenger seat to talk with Robin, but for the most part, it was a lot easier to travel with one of us in back.

--We started both long car rides (to MN from Austin and from WI back) with three servings worth (14 ozs. or so) of milk in bottles in a cooler. Lydia eats very frequently (a result of sleeping for such a long stretch through the night), so I would feed her a bottle roughly every 2.5 hrs. and then pump afterwards to replace as much of the milk she drank as possible. This was made a lot easier by the facts that 1.) Lydia doesn't mind taking bottles cold instead of warm and 2.) she has no issue taking them from me, even though I primarily feed her by nursing her. (A big shout-out to the Medela Swing pump, which can be powered by AA batteries. While I much prefer the Medela Pump Instyle at home and work, the Swing was perfect for travel, both because of the AA batteries and its size.) Thank goodness for tinted windows.

--Lydia slept in her Pack 'n' Play. We learned along the way that this worked best when she was in a room by herself just like at home. (Lydia's been sleeping in her own room since she was about 2 weeks old.) We followed her bedtime routine--undress, change diaper, bath or sponge bath, nurse, rock) as closely as possible, and she feel back into her regular sleep habits pretty quickly. I think the biggest sideline of her sleep wasn't the travel but our failure to remember her swaddle-me blanket. (We bought a new one in the next size up, but it was a bit too big and didn't work as well. We figured out how to work it a few nights in.) Her penchant for sleeping alone meant that when staying in a hotel on the way home, Lydia slept in... drum roll... the bathroom. Yes, we set up the Pack 'n' Play in the bathroom. This allowed us a good night of sleep, plus the opportunity to veg out in front of the TV after Lydia fell asleep.

--We were lucky enough to stumble upon a hotel with very affordable suites, rather than a basic room. This meant we had a full refrigerator and freezer, as well as a microwave. While this trip didn't require a microwave or stove, the kitchen was very nice to have. (A shout-out to Candlewood Suites, which offered a room with a full kitchen for $70 via!)

--We stopped to change diapers, fill up the gas tank, and get food to go. Nothing else. This meant we made both trips in about the same time we have done in the past sans baby, and the period of time when Lydia was "done" and fussy, but we still had time in the car before we reached our destination was kept to a minimum. In this same vein, we did the "long haul" drive on the way to MN, and split the drive back to Austin from WI. I think this was best for all of our well-being.

--The iPhone was invaluable. It gave us directions, allowed us to find restaurants and coffee shops, as well as book a hotel room on the road. It also allowed me to play very addictive games while sitting with a sleeping Lydia in the back seat, post to the blog, and keep up to speed on the Michael Jackson ordeal.

I grew up with the statement that God doesn't give you more than you can handle. Apparently, we can't handle much. Robin and I were lucky to have a very easy, well-adjusted baby. Sometimes I find myself anxious that Lydia's ridiculously easy temperament and good health is a sign that things will be difficult down the road. (Adolescence? Oh no!) I don't want to brag (Read: Bragging ahead), but she was an amazing little traveler on this ridiculous endeavor. Two adults, one three month old, one shih-tzu, 2705 miles, and 42 hours in the car: Mission Accomplished.

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