Monday, July 28, 2014

Baby's First Vacation

Our first family vacation was quite a long one! The longest trip I'd ever taken - 2 weeks long. We wanted to visit family (both sides) so they could meet baby G, since we didn't know when our next opportunity to see all of them would be. (Hey that rhymes!)

We traveled from California to Virginia where my parents and all of my husband's family live. That's where the majority of our time was spent - about a full week. Then we flew to New Orleans and drove to Picayune, then Hattiesburg, Mississippi to visit some of my family. Our final stop on the trip was Pensacola Beach, Florida, to join my mother's family in their annual group vacation.

It was a lot of fun though a bit stressful at times - but also a great learning experience. Here's the rundown of our trip:

Day 1

It was a very early morning - woke up at 2:30 to get to the airport at 4:00 to be ready for a 6:00am flight. (We live an hour away). We had a tough time deciding what to do about the baby - make him stay up a little later the night before to help him sleep through the car ride and airport security... possibly even have him stay asleep through boarding and the beginning of the flight? Or, not mess with his schedule too much and allow ourselves to get more sleep in preparation for a long day...? We ended up having a late night... not entirely because we planned it that way though. We still had a lot of packing to do.

Anyway... Little man stayed asleep through his diaper and outfit change and slept for about half of the car ride. Then he was awake right up until takeoff. We were incredibly lucky and were upgraded to First Class (did the fact that G was wearing a United Airlines onesie have anything to do with it? Who knows!?), which was a little unnerving for us. I could practically hear the other first class passengers praying that our baby wouldn't scream and ruin the flight that they paid more than anyone else for. But thankfully, our across-the-aisle neighbor and flight attendant were very kind; my husband (Ethan) and I had been assigned the two aisle seats, and the gentleman that had the window seat offered to switch with me so we could be next to each other.

On the flight, he did surprisingly well. I tried to nurse him during takeoff and the descent, and had to nurse him once mid-flight as well. He slept for nearly an hour I think right after we became airborne, and then was awake for a bit. We were able to entertain him with some toys and songs, and an app (that I try to use very minimally but came in handy on the plane) that has slow-moving high-contrast pictures (called First Focus: Ladybird Baby Touch). He didn't scream once, though he did fuss here and there (thankfully for only a few short minutes at a time). When he got a bit cranky, my husband walked him up and down the aisle for a few minutes.

The first class seats were very nice, but they had no trays on the seat backs, which meant I couldn't try out the FlyeBaby seat I'd purchased for the trip. Also, there was no changing table in the bathroom, so I had to change him on my lap while sitting on the toilet seat. Thank goodness he decided to poop before we boarded so I didn't have to deal with that in the tiny, cramped, airplane bathroom.

Well, upon landing, we were picked up by my husband's parents, and began the nearly two-hour drive back to their place. About half-an-hour into the drive, I was alerted that the baby had been screaming for the last few minutes and they were going to pull over (we were in two separate cars). As we were on the interstate, this meant exiting to the nearest town (shout-out, Gainesville, Virginia!), which then changed our route a bit. I ended up joining my husband and the baby in their car so we could tag-team to try and keep him calm for the rest of the trip. Poor guy, that was the longest car ride he'd been in yet!

Day 2

The second day, we hung out at my in-laws' home for the majority of the day before heading to my parents' house. Baby G got to meet a cat! Well, actually, between the different families on the trip, he met more than 10 cats.

Ginger decided to be friends with the baby.

They were fast buddies!

My husband's parents, (Grandma and Grandpop to our boy), had Ethan go through all of his old toys to decide which ones to keep. He found this creepy dinosaur toy that G just thought was hilarious. He had only just started laughing right before the trip, so it was a real treat to see him giggle so much (especially at something so bizarre!)

Laughing at the creepy toy...
After a 45-minute drive to my parents' house (Nonnie and Poppi to G), we then drove with them almost another hour to have a mini date-night. Ethan and I took a painting class while my parents watched the baby nearby. It was a lot of fun, and since it was a "Wine and Design" class (meaning you drink wine/alcohol while painting), I had my first drink since my baby was born. I don't particularly enjoy to drink, and only imbibe on the odd occasion, but it was nice to for this type of date/event.

I had pumped just for the occasion to leave a bottle with my parents just in case - but they didn't need one. I gave him a bottle after the class though, since I'd had a drink only a short while before. Just to be safe. :)

Day 3

The next day, we returned to Grandma and Grandpop's home because Ethan's extended family arrived to visit and meet the baby. 

"Playing" dominoes with his cousins. Mostly just trying to figure out if he can eat them.

Day 4

My husband left the morning of the fourth day to go golfing with his dad, grandad, and brother. I left shortly thereafter to go to my parents' house to spend time with my mom before she and I took the baby on a near two-hour drive to go wedding dress shopping near DC with my friend. (I'm her maid/matron-of-honor and she is G's godmother). The drive there was fairly uneventful, and he did well throughout most of the evening. On the 15-minute drive from one dress shop to another though... he screamed inconsolably and I had to scramble to the backseat in stopped traffic to try to give him a bottle. (Thank goodness I'd brought it with me and still had some pumped milk leftover).

He approves of his godmother's wedding dress. :)

Day 5

My husband had joined me at my parents' house the night prior, and on the morning of the fifth day, we all piled up to drive half-an-hour to a small airport. Baby G's Poppi (my dad) is a pilot, and teaches lessons at the airport on weekends. He took me and Ethan up in a small plane for a short flight while Nonnie (my mom), watched the boy down in the parking lot. 

Sunscreening up! It was hot and sunny, and though my mom kept him in the shade, it's better to be safe than sorry!

After stopping for ice cream, we went back to their house where we swam for a bit before returning to Grandma and Grandpop's house (my husband's parents). 

Day 6

I completely forgot to take a single picture on day 6! I was so mad at myself. 
We drove about an hour to have lunch with some high school friends - Grayson got to meet another baby only a couple weeks younger than him there. 

Day 7

The following day, we had lunch with another friend from high school - just at a much closer restaurant - only 15 minutes from Ethan's parents' house. We did a lot of packing and preparing to leave as it was our last full day in Virginia. 

He also got to see a young bear! This cub comes up on Grandma's porch every day to eat the bird food and cat food.

Day 8

My husband woke up early on the eighth day to head to the airport. For reasons I won't get into now, we were on two different flights. My parents picked me up a few hours later, where the three of us (four, counting baby G) got on a flight to New Orleans. We luckily were seated together - my dad just separated by the aisle - and I was able to hand the little man off to them to give him a change of scenery if he got cranky. It was a shorter flight, but still stressful as it was only our second one.

I got to try the FlyeBaby seat out on this flight!

Baby G's aunt and uncle (my sister and her husband) joined us at the airport after we landed and together the 7 of us drove to Picayune, Mississippi (though first, we had to stop at Cafe du Monde for beignets). 

Aunt Megan is hilarious, apparently!
Contemplating the beignets...
Upon arriving in Picayune, we had dinner with my Grandad and one of my many cousins, then stayed at a local hotel. 

Day 9

Our ninth day of the trip (day two in Mississippi), was a full one! Before checking out of the hotel, Ethan took the baby swimming in the pool. We then went to the local airport to see my uncle, who took my sister and her husband up in his plane for a short flight. Afterwards, the 7 of us went to my Grandad's house to visit with him again before going to my uncle's house. That afternoon, we drove an hour to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to stay at my Nana's house.

We still fit in reading time on our jam-packed trip!
The water was cold!

Day 10

On the tenth day, we visited with my Nana and Pops at their home in Hattiesburg. My dad's brothers and their families arrived later in the day as well.

He was very intrigued by this stuffed doll my Nana had... maybe it was the troll-like hair?

Day 11

We left the morning of the eleventh day to make the three-hour drive to Pensacola, Florida. We stopped at Krispy Kreme for breakfast (a family tradition when visiting Hattiesburg) and made it to the beach by early afternoon. On the drive, we had to pull over a couple times to try to soothe a cranky baby. We tried to turn one stop into a bathroom break for the rest of us as well, except the bathroom was out of order at the first gas station... and the second one... we pulled into a grocery store parking lot to try to organize what we were doing (two separate cars makes things a little more difficult). We then went to a CVS where we finally used the restroom and stocked up on snacks and drinks.

The rest of my mother's family had already arrived (counting the 7 of us, there were 33 of us in attendance, and there were quite a few people missing!) After taking our stuff to our hotel rooms, we went down to the beach where baby G had his first ocean experience. (I've covered this event more thoroughly in other posts). It was also the 4th of July, so he also go to see/hear fireworks for the first time - except he slept through the whole show! 

He started teething while at the beach!

Day 12

On day 12, we spent a while at the beach then walked to the boardwalk for lunch and window shopping. That evening there was a little reception for my aunt, who had gotten married around Christmas. The baby napped on the beach and a little bit at the reception, but was super cranky afterwards. We even left a little bit early to try and get him down at a reasonable hour. It was a fight to get him to go to sleep that night - thank goodness for Nonnie! She finally got him to sleep just minutes after she walked in the room - Ethan and I had been trying for an hour.

Waking up from a nap at the reception.

Day 13

Our last full day of vacation, my husband and I went kayaking while family watched the baby on the beach. We spent a bit more time on the beach, then took G to the kiddie pool to play with the fountain feature. Then, we went to the boardwalk and had dinner before going back to the hotel to pack. 

Day 14

We got all packed up and ready to leave the morning of the 14th day and prepared for a four-hour drive back to the New Orleans airport where we would go our separate ways to fly back home. That drive was pretty stressful... we stopped maybe 10 minutes into the drive so I could feed the baby, then again a short while later because he was screaming. I had discovered that he had cut a tooth, so we went into the gas station to find some baby orajel or baby tylenol (neither of which they had, but the woman working the counter directed us to the nearest Walgreens). There, Ethan ran in and bought an abundance of teething gel, which helped make the drive more bearable. Perhaps a week later though, we discovered his "tooth" had disappeared. The doctor said it was merely a cyst. Whoops.

Waiting for a flight at the New Orleans airport.

Because we were flying Space A, we only would get on our flights if there were empty seats. The flights had looked open that morning, but unfortunately for us, somehow became oversold by the time we arrived at the airport and not one of us got on any of our flights (and we were trying to take three different ones all together). To make a long story short, our original flight to Los Angeles was supposed to leave at 5:30pm and though I won't go into all of the the reasoning and logistics now, our best chance of getting onto a flight home was to first fly to Newark, which ended up not leaving until after 11:00pm because of a 6 hour delay. This also ended up being the best scenario for my parents and sister, who were trying to fly to Dulles and Richmond, respectively. 

We ended up arriving at a hotel in Newark around 4:00am the following day. 

Day 15

We slept in as long as possible on the 15th day, then took a shuttle back to the airport for a 2:00pm flight to Los Angeles. 

Studying the safety video!

Though we had a stressful last few days of travel, we still made it home in one piece.
It was a fun and busy trip, and I can't wait to take our next one!
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