Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lessons from the Road

Sometimes you just have to relax about things when traveling with a baby. For example, I packed enough organic food to feed a small village and I used baby 3 packets of it. Lydia likes to feed her self so she got to try things like macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, spaghetti and even strawberries! I was waiting for strawberries because it supposedly a high allergy food but then I did a quick read on the internet and it turns out it is just something to worry about when there is a history of food allergies. She ate from fancy restaurants and truck stops. She was okay. So we were okay.

Not every hotel has a comfy rocker to snuggle up with your little one, read a couple of books and give her her night time milk.When you have a baby that wants to stay up to play all night and that put her in the car trick doesn't seem right since you are on a road trip, well you put her in her pack and play. You let her play it out. There were a couple nights that she out played us. There were a couple of nights she fussed a bit. Overall she slept well every night 10-12 hours not matter where we were. Thus she was okay. So we were okay.

A few more life lessons...

1. The HOV lane does not require people to drive fast.
2. Sometimes when your lost you find exactly what you are looking for.
3. A real friend is a friend no matter how many years or how much distance keeps you apart.
4. I structure all of my days around food which can be bad but also very good.
5. Some stranger pushes my kid regardless if they are 30 years old or 3, I will want to eat their face.
6. I pack way more than I need. 
7. I don't use cruise control because it makes me feel out of control.
8. As long as the baby is happy, so are we.
9. The Fast and Furious is a movie and it also describes my driving.
10. I like waking up in the morning not knowing exactly what the day has in store and that Eliot (Lydia too) are at my side the entire time.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Road Trip Day 16

Finally almost smelling home we decided to get on the road. We just drove home. We stopped for lunch and watched the Women's World Cup on the IPhone which was great except when we lost connection. I had found a Stride Rite outlet store conveniently located on I-4 by our route home. Lydia needed new shoes, so we figured why not. What were we thinking entering an outlet mall on a weekend in the tourist capital of the world? We fought for our parking spot and all the way to the store.

The reason that I suspected Lydia needed new shoes is because she kept ripping them off. She knows how to pull the velcro and kick them off.  But she does it with such vigor, I figured we should have her feet measured. Sandals seem to be easier to get on than the closed toed ones. We measured and my little baby feet are a size 4 1/2, almost a 5! I was squeezing her feet in a 3! No wonder she hated shoes.  Bad mommy!

We got home and my folks came over which gave us the perfect opportunity to get everything put away everything, start laundry and start relaxing, on the first night home. It was perfect for them to love on their grand-daughter. Then today the Gaurkee Clan came over and we went to dinner for some more grandfolk and family love. 

We had a fantastic trip but it is good to home!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Road Trip Day 15

As anticipated we woke up late morning, past the extended continental breakfast, and slowly packed out things for the second to last time before venturing through the last of the southern states. Our first stop was the Triangle Waffle. When we entered there was a young tall guy standing by the interior doors with the thickest southern draw I have ever heard, it took my head a second to decode what he was saying. It was tiny, filled with people, cheap and tasty.  A perfect combination, they even tried to figure out what the diner food focus could do to feed my baby. With filled tummies we headed to Savannah.

But not without a perfect cheese-ball stop at South of the Border. If you haven' t been there it's worth it to chuckle at the pure absurdity and brilliance of the place. If you have been there, you know what I mean. We took the requisite pictures, played in the World of Hats and I got a milk shake.

I have been to Savannah twice I think. Once with my college roommate and another time in high school with my parents. Neither time did I apparently really see Savannah. It is simply lovely. At an extra slow pace we walked through the downtown successfully without joining a walking tour which for the record I really dislike. We made it to the river area and put in our name for dinner at Huey On the River. We saw local artists work in a local gallery and enjoyed street performers. After an amazing meal where both Eliot and I have decided that after 35 years of disliking grits we are now super fans. The meal was so good that we just sat there while Lydia tore up the table. Normally we stop this sort of thing but it was 10pm with our party girl baby and we were stuffed, so we watched and took pictures. We took dessert to-go and are now lazily watching TV in the hotel room which we haven't done in two and half weeks.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Road Trip Day 14

The modest Amish and the odd Dutch food somehow lead us to Bittersweet Baltimore. The row houses were amazing but the poverty was overwhelming. When we arrived to the hotel Eliot typically grabs a giant stack of brochures and provides suggests for what would be the best things for us to see. It turns out Port Discovery which is another children’s museum is the fourth best in the nation, so having already gone to the first best, we thought we should check it out. There was also a nearby Holocaust Memorial, John Hopkins, the Inner Harbor and bookstore, Washington Memorial at Mount Vernon and the Baltimore Museum of Art….and of course Charm City Cakes. We hit them all! We had a fantastic day. We drove through beautiful areas of the city and through strips where the houses were disintegrating from the inside out. It seemed like this was one of those cities where the rich are very rich and the poor and sadly very poor. 

Lydia loved the museum though I would say Port Discovery didn’t compare to The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. They did have a Tot Trail area and we arrived just in time for music time with other musical toddlers. Lydia was a dancing queen and then enjoyed playing with blocks.

After a great day, we headed south. Our plan was to drive about 5 hours and arrive in Raleigh. Today we would have woken up gone to a couple of parks, grassy areas done a small hike, perhaps a picnic lunch and left for Savannah, but something happened. Friday + DC + 400,000 commuters= traffic. But not just normal traffic, this was ginormous, out of your mind; you can’t believe you haven’t moved an inch traffic without a cause like an accident, plan crash, construction or aliens landing strip. Snails passed us. After being in the car for 4 hours and only having traveled to right outside of Fredricksburg we had dinner at 9pm, thinking that by the time dinner was over traffic would have really disappeared. Wrong. We decided that we were going to need to sleep in the next morning so we needed to get a little farther, so Dunn, North Carolina had a fluffy pillow for us to lay our heads’ on.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Road Trip Day 13

Pennsylvania is a big state and has so much to offer. So we wanted to get done a million things in a very small about of time. First time in Harrisburg lead us to the National Civil War Museum followed by lunch at the Hershey Story with a sundae dessert so big and chocolatey that I couldn't finish. A dash tot the outlet mall before a ventured through Amish Country. We stopped at a couple of markets, quilt stores and antique shops. We saw beautiful farm land.

We stopped for dinner at The Dutch Family Restaurant in Gap, PA. Hungry and excited, I quickly saw Chicken Pot Pie on the menu. Note: I am Cuban. I didn't know that people didn't eat rice at every meal until I was 13. Therefore, Potpie Dutch? Sure why not. The server told me that their potpie didn't have crust and it wasn't creaming. Okay why not. Not to long a bowl appeared in front of me with egg noodles and an entire chicken breast on the bone. I am not sure but it looked like chicken noodle soup. I had a bite. It tasted like chicken noodle soup and it was cold.  I sent it back which I rarely do, and ordered spaghetti with meatballs. That's not Dutch either is it?

Late evening in Baltimore.

Road Day Trip 12

Back to the USA! After a decant breakfast, a Journey Behind the Falls and an ice cream cone we returned to the US of A over the rainbow bridge. We headed to Lake Eerie to roam and skip rocks. Unintentionally but a nice by product of this trip is that we have seen, dipped our toes and played on the shores of HOME, Huron, Ontario, Michigan, and Eerie) four of the five Great Lakes. 

We wanted to get some driving done and fine some new adventures on the way home. In our attempt we got lost. Some where in the middle of no where up state New York. You would think that with two IPhones with GPS that this would be a difficult thing but near the border we continued to bounce from our service provider to the international provider which caused us to lose 3G service and then lost. As we were taking the third or fourth turn about an hour past our mental schedule we ran into Fisher Price, the corporate head quarters, with a store located right in front. We couldn't help it. We had to go in. Not to mention that Eliot and I love the Little People for their multicultural and educational focus but they are the perfect grabbing size for little tikes. They were having a sale. That's all I have to say about that. 

We drove. We ate at a truck stop with truckers which was tasty. We drove some more and arrived in Harrisburg.

Road Trip Day 11

On our next day in Toronto we woke up early and went to breakfast at Cora’s. Cora’s was amazing! Not only were they super kid friendly but even the d├ęcor was cheery. The napkins had little sunshines on them (which I couldn’t help but take a huge stack of because they were so cute) and the food was beautiful. Tons of fresh fruit and eggs benedict made with brie and mushrooms. It was a great way to start the day. We jumped in a cab where I held Lydia tight and seat belted us in. All morning at the St. Lawrence Market, Old Town and visited every old church in the area including St. James Cathedral. We took a leisure pace and stopped at several offbeat stops including a tiny garden that Lydia enjoyed.

Feeling as if we had spent just enough time in Toronto we headed to Niagara Falls; only a 45 minute drive. Horton hears a who? Tim Hortons that is. Tim Hortons is a coffee place like Starbucks that is everywhere in Canada. It is attached to Wendy’s, gas stations, malls, free standing, and honestly, just not as tasty. Every exit has a Tim Hortons which when you are looking for something more substantial simple gets increasingly more irritating. Fear not, we arrived to Niagara Falls and moved right into our room which relieved every ounce of stress. We enjoy the view of the Falls and let Lydia play.

We headed down to the Falls and took about a zillion photos and had dinner on the balcony of the outdoor restaurant there to enjoy it even more. We took a stroll back to the hotel at night fall and watched the beginning of the illumination show. Since Lydia was asleep in her stroller we took advantage and had dessert at the hotel restaurant that provided yet another view and finished the show from our room Jacuzzi. It was amazing!

Road Trip Day 10

There is a little of a learning curve when traveling with a baby. A curve that Eliot and I were not quite aware of, particularly for a big city like Toronto. We have both traveled a lot and typically we want to hit all the major sites plus a few minor ones early in the morning on the first day we arrive to a new place. You may imagine that that quest is rather difficult normally then add baby.  After careful consideration we opted not to take the stroller instead we used the Sherpani carrier we picked up at a second hand store on the way up through Georgia. An additional backpack with supplies finished off our preparations and we were off, by noon. The late departure into the adventure had us flustered so we chose to take a bus tour located 3 blocks from our hotel in Downtown Yonge that is the easiest way to see the highlights and use the mode of transport to get on and off as needed. We diligently altered our plan and decided that we would get off in just a few stops to see the Castle. Got Lydia out of the backpack and securely on my lap on the top floor of the bus, then realized the sun was out and powerful, so we suncreened, then she was fussy so we gave her some milk, then she took a nap. By this point, we had missed our first stop, decided to pass our next choice and created a small tent out of Eliot’s shirt to protect her from the rays a bit more. The bus stopped for a ten minute lag which gave a chance to grab a Starbucks treat and Lydia to sleep on the seat giving my arms a needed rest. She woke up right before the waterfront stop which we took advantage of to catch our ferry ride. First we had to change a diaper and use the washrooms ourselves…sigh. It was in this process that we simply had to regroup mentally. Take a deep breath and realize that we may not get everywhere. We may not check everything off the list and it was okay. It was more fun to just enjoy the moment. So we did. From that moment on, we let go of all expectations and had a terrific day.

We rode on the ferry on Lake Ontario, walked to the CN tower while lunching and finished the full bus tour. While we were on line for CN tickets a generous lady came up and gave us a free ticket, as a result the next day we paid it forward by giving our bus tickets that were good for 7 days to another couple. Seven hours of touring, Lydia fell asleep in the pack and we headed to the hotel for showers. We were renewed, grabbed our stroller and found a great strip of places for dinner. Adega, on Elm, was tasty but not child friendly. They didn’t have high chairs. The waiter kept bumping into our stroller and forgetting we had our baby with us. There certainly were not any kid meals, but we enjoyed a decadent meal ourselves and ignore the pompous attitude of the server. We gave Lydia bits of our dinners which ended up to be fine and walked leisurely around the city after 10 as she slept in the stroller comfortably.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Road Trip Day 9

Oh Canada! This morning we woke up and went to church at Kevin's new parish, St. Francis of Sales. The church itself was beautiful and it was filled with people. As you look across the room you see people of all different shades of skin. The priest serving was an young man that had grown up there but had just completely seminary. After the service where both babies did very well, we grabbed some tacos to go from the lunch being served in the fellowship hall. We packed up our things and headed out. The drive through Michigan was great and we arrived to Canada.

Getting into Canada was a long process. First we had to pay a toll in a pretty long line and then we had to go through customs which was another long line. Once we were through we stopped and got information in Ontario and visited a shoreline park to stretch out legs and to see Lake Huron. I stuck my toes in it and it was cold (shocker but I think it was less cold than Lake Michigan) and we headed diligently to Toronto. The city is beautiful however we did arrive here a bit late with a sleeping baby, therefore we opted for a night in with room service and Canada's HGTV.

Lydia did wake up in the new room which made it easier to change her diaper, but on pajamas and give her a bit more of milk. We put her in the pack and play where she bounced and played for almost 2 hours. We both fell asleep before she did.

Road Trip Day 8

The day began with a trip to the Holland Farmer's Market conveniently located at the far end of the main street downtown which was filled with over 25 vendors. Everything was fresh and local. In center aisle were various street performers ready to entertain including college groups, a young violinist and a puppeteer. We picked up homemade pizza crust for dinner which was delicious. Afterwards we ran some some errands and vegged out together. The babies played and played and played.

There was a park right across the street so we took the kids there for a bit before having Captain Sundae. Their signature sundaes are so yummy that even our former president big "W" visited there. The evening ended early for the tired babes but the grown ups played "what's yours like" and "boogle" and we for spanked in both. Retribution for Knoxville. Then my bestie and I stayed up way too late solving all of life's and the world's problems. (Let me know if anyone needs to peek and the answers.)

We had such a wonderful time with our amazing friends in a truly special town. Even Eliot liked it so much that he said he'd deal with the snow to live there.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Road Trip Day 7

There is little that is not delightful about Holland MI. Yesterday we went cherry picking.

We then went to Sagatuck walked around a darling downtown area and ate the best ice cream. We dined at the New Holland Brewing Company which had great microbrews and tasty food. Lydia drank from a straw for the first time.

Afterwards we event to great Lake Michigan.

Wow what a spectacular view and gorgeous beach. I'd never seen a dune and certainly never climbed one.

We are having a wonderful time with friends and loving exploring their new town.

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Friday, July 8, 2011

Road Trip Day 6

We arrived yesterday to Michigan, the land of the Dutch, Holland to see our Hilgerts.

We had a wonderful cookout last night on Lake Macatawa. Lydia and Henning enjoyed playing in the sand.

Lydia being pensive and considering what should be her next item to try to eat. She repeatedly would stand up and try to walk but the sand was to much for her, so she crawled.

We then walked around the very charming downtown filled with street performers and young families. Several adorable shops to see but of course the best part was just spending time together, catching up and for the kids to play together. Henning is such a lover and happily cuddles with all of us. You just want to eat 'em up! Lydia is really loving all the playing together.

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Road Trip Day 5

We have DONE Indianapolis. Yesterday we headed downtown and began the day with a Farmer's Market. We purchased some delicious peaches that served as a good snack at various times of the day. However this did not stop of from making a pit stop at The Chocalate Cafe. After another quick stop at H&M, we headed to White River State Park and rented a surrey.  We biked all over the park. Admittedly I was a little nervous about my baby being strapped in front of a moving vehicle without any other proper safety devices but she loved it. The last downtown stop was at a local sandwich shop which provided a perfect place for Lydia to nap while we ate.

The Children's Museum was our afternoon session of fun. And it was amazing! 5 floors of massive crazy fun more like an indoor playground on crack. We arrived and made a beeline for the Playscape on the third floor since it was designed for children under five. Lydia had a ball crawling, climbing, touching, standing, cruising, walking, exploring...the thing is that while the museum was fantastic for her it made me more and more aggressive. The mama bird growing inside of me wanted to peck some other children's eyes out. Like the kid that slammed Lydia's fingers in the place kitchen cabinet door or the other kid that kept grabbing her under the hollow play tree. Don't get me started on the kid that tore into the Dora the Explorer, Isa's Garden, and started smacking things violently. It was news to me that as soon as some kids see a tiny kid on something that immediately gave them the right to rush her. Even Eliot who is normally much more sensible and rational than I was ready to slap someone by the end of our 3 hours there. The museum itself was spectacular, a definite must see in Indianapolis. It would be fun to bring Lydia back when she is old enough to defend herself (Eliot's words.)

Our last stop of the day was a The Cheese Shop and Gigi's Cupcake across the street from our hotel. We tasted several cheeses from around the world and picked up some treats for the relaxing evening in our room. Lydia played we snacked. It was lovely.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Road Trip Day 4

Cracker Barrel Rocker
The day that I have been fearing since the moment that I got pregnant has arrived. I have done my very best to protect us all but sometimes a mother can do everything right and still it happens. The worst has happened: Lydia is watching Barnie. I know! I can't believe it either! We may catch a break because she is in an babyproofless hotel room; she can eat wires while sticking her hand in the air conditioning unit instead of watching the purple dinosaur from Hades. Here's hoping.

Ironically, last night we decided to go to dinner at Maggiano's because we had a gift card so it was easy. Normally we would make a considerable effort to choose a local eatery but decided there was time for that. After dinner I had grand plans of getting a little work done but instead we ran to Babies R Us to pick up some teething things because we left our in Knoxville. We took a look at a couple of umbrella strollers because we are in the market for one and I have done a little research. We discussed trying other snacks that weren't organic. We had to laugh because we had just had a completely average evening as if we weren't traveling at all.

Lydia once again astounding us with her ease to got to bed in yet another different location. She was pooped from all her exploring, climbing and playing. Today we head out for an adventure!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Road Trip Day 3

I have never been a huge fan of the 4th of July. When I was young my dad always had this week for vacation which meant that we were either some random or with family in Miami. There was never a set tradition in place. Once I got older I was a camp counselor for years and then always seemed to be traveling. The years that I was home there are less than fond memories of trying to either fight traffic or drunk people with fireworks or both. Yesterday was such a great day. We woke up and hung a bit before we all headed to Market Place in Knoxville to have brunch. We walked around and took pictures. The kids napped and then we went to Heena's folks house. Where we hung out and ate and ate and ate some more. Their house is on the top of a hill in Lake City, Tennesse which has the perfect view for the fireworks. Some of us sat right in front of the house and others of us sat inside on the couch to watch through the picture window. It was divine.

Lydia has been such a great baby. She has slept in the car. She has charmed Cracker Barrel waitresses. She has managed to play alone in her carseat. She has also watched a little Mickey's Clubhouse. She has a top tooth breaking skin today and sadly we left her teething things in Tennessee. But considering she has sharp white things piercing through her gums she has don't great. For us the drive has been, can't tell a lie...a little boring. There is apparently not that much in Kentucky. Admittedly it's better than watching the latest coverage over the appalling court case verdict.

Today we are in Indiana! None of have been here before and it was good middle location before our next visit to Holland Michigan. This evening we are completely going to relax. Tomorrow are plans are to head to the Children's Museum and downtown to explore!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Road Trip Day 2

We arrived yesterday and spent a wonderful afternoon and evening with the Patels and Koshys. The girls triumphed in a vicious game of Taboo and I was a member of a winning dart team. It was a victorious evening!

Lydia has really done pretty with sleeping in different places and beds so far. She has really enjoyed playing in real grass.

Swimming in the pool.

Driving in a car.

More than anything she has loved playing with her friends.

Sharing delicious peaches .

Playing with the singing bobble head frog.

Jamming out on the music table.

It really has been a real treat enjoying wonderful weather and wonderful friends. So thankful for the time with one another.

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