In all of our traveling adventures, we learned a few good lessons over the last few weeks which I would like to share with you.
Denver Lesson #1. 8-month-old Baby Girls are definitely too old to be sleeping in the same room as Mommy and Daddy. Side lesson: Eric and I aren't too sharp. It took us 3 nights to realize that Lila and Mommy in the same room didn't work. Lila woke up every 1.5 hours expecting a little snack and play time, and when put back in her crib, she complained noisily until Mommy was so deliriously tired that she foolishly complied and fed the girl. When I finally wised up and slept on the pull out in the other room, we got a solid 3 hours of sleep - whoopee! Night 4, both Eric and I slept on the pull out while Lila slept in the bedroom and guess what? She slept 8 hours! How 'bout that.
Denver Lesson #2. It's silly to use up precious luggage space on toys when there are wonderful things like remote controls to play with. Just try not to think about how many people's hands have been on it. Yucka.
Denver Lesson #3. When your grouchy (and sleep-deprived) kid is teething so you decide to give her Tylenol to help her feel better, don't - under any circumstances - force-feed it to her despite any "dramatic" gagging she attempts. It's not drama. She's actually gagging. She WILL throw up on you. And then you will feel like a horrible mom because you made your daughter puke and you will cry in the corner while your patient and loving husband launders your vomit-soaked jeans. True story.
Denver Lesson #4. It's impossible to get a good picture of five children when three of them are under the age of four. Best just to admit defeat and settle for the memory of kids dressed up cute for a wedding. (If you want to giggle a little bit, click on the pictures to see them bigger. There was one of the five who was feeling especially uncooperative that night. Can you guess who?)
Minneapolis Lesson #1. Night time is the time to travel by car for Baby Girls. I was worried she wouldn't sleep long in the car, but apparently with a full tummy and a fort-like apparatus fashioned with a blanket around her car seat, she must have thought her crib was equipped with a fancy vibrator. The only downside is Mommies and Daddies get sleepy when they drive at night. (Thank you Red Bull and Dr. Pepper!)
Minneapolis Lesson #2. There is a secret trick to giving exhausted parents a break when too much travel becomes overwhelming and a wiggly baby is just too much to handle. Her name is Nanny. I suggest anyone traveling with an infant bring along a grandparent as back-up. There is this thing about grandparents - they never tire of holding, playing with, and generally distracting their grand kids. It's like magic.
Minneapolis Lesson #3. Baby Girls like to stare at ice cream even if they can't eat it. Maybe that's why every little girl grows up into a woman with a weakness for it. (By the by, have you ever been to Crema on 34th and Lyndale? It's divine. Try the mango!)
Minneapolis Lesson #4. Always, always forego the pricey hotel room in favor of the home of a family member. Aunt Jill offered to host us in her awesome home for the weekend. Not only is it the cutest place I ever did see, it's also 3 blocks from Lake Harriet, has the perfect little Lila-sized walk-in closet for Baby Girl to sleep in, and she even gave up her oh-so-comfy Tempurpedic bed for us! Who needs an exercise room when you've got a beautiful lake to jog around? Who needs room service when your aunt makes you yummy tomato-mozzarella-basil salad with goods from her garden? Who needs an expensive hotel suite when Baby Girl is perfectly happy in the spacious closet-room? Huh? Who needs 'em? Not me! (You're the BEST Aunt Jill!)
If you hadn't guessed from the lessons learned, Minneapolis was a much more successful and enjoyable trip than Denver. But it's not Denver's fault that it was the guinea pig trip! In fact, Denver's lessons - learned from mishap, mistake and misery - paved the way for Minneapolis' more enjoyable lessons. Don't feel sad, Denver. Next time, we'll let you go second.
Really, both of our trips were wonderful, but we are glad to be home. I have spent the last week recovering in every way. My house, however, has not recovered from our return home. My sweet husband (who had to come back early from Minnesota to get back to work) cleaned the house so that I wouldn't have to come home to a disaster zone. Seven days later, you'd never know he put such work into it. My suitcase is still open - half unpacked - in our bedroom, Lila's toys are EVERYWHERE, and the broom hasn't seen the light of day in a week. But to my credit, Lila's naps are back on track, I've started making round two of Lila's meals (green beans, cherries, blueberries, and sweet potatoes this time), and school starts next week. Maybe if we're lucky, in the next seven days Franny's doggie hair clumps will be retrieved from the recesses of our living room. I wouldn't count on it, though.