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The hubs and I took the boys on Sam’s first overnight, multi-state roadtrip trip this weekend to visit my parents. He did great for about 4 hours of the drive. (It’s a 5.5 hour drive, without stops. So…yeah.)

But when the baby WASN’T crying, we discussed one of our favorite topics: Moving someplace warmer.

St. Louis is great, but for almost six months each year, the weather is terrible and we’re cooped up indoors. So every winter, we say “this is our last winter here!” because we’re just so fed up with it. We’re also beach lovers and would love to be within a couple of hours drive to the beach someday.

We also talk about being close to an airport for traveling purposes, affordable housing, low crime rates, good job market, fewer allergens (we all have terrible seasonal allergies). We start looking at various Internet articles that say things like “Best Places to Raise a Family” or “Top 10 Happiest Cities”. Finally, I just stopped and said, “None of this matters. The question we should be asking ourselves is where do we want our kids to grow up?”

So I’m curious, freaders, where do YOU want your kids to grow up? Is it where you are right now? Is it where you grew up? Is it on a farm? Is it in a big city? Is it on the beach? Is it in another country? On an island? In the suburbs? WHERE??

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Colorado

Last weekend, I took a couple of vacation days and we headed to the great state of Colorado. The original purpose was to attend my hubby’s old work-friend’s wedding. But after my MIL passed away over the summer and my FIL expressed interest in going with us, it became a much bigger trip.

The hubs and I have already been to Colorado twice. Once for an anniversary trip to Denver, and another time to attend another friend’s wedding a couple of years ago. On the second trip, we spent a day in Colorado Springs to see the sites, but mostly stayed in Denver. This time, the wedding was in Colorado Springs, so we spent almost our entire time down there.

Something else I should mention. My FIL has never been on a plane. Ever. And he’s never been further west than Branson, MO. So he’s only seen the Rockies in pictures and on TV. He’s also never had the privilege of experiencing airport security. So as you can imagine, this was quite an event for someone over 60.

The flight itself was pretty uneventful, as most flights go. The weather was perfectly clear the entire way, but we were flying over the great, but very flat state, of Kansas. Flying over Kansas = very boring.

When we arrived, clouds were hanging around the mountains making it difficult to see the peaks and thus, their full beauty was masked making it a pretty anti-climactic moment. Baggage claim took forever, mostly because no one told us that our car seat was considered “oversized baggage” and thus was waiting for us in a different area. So imagine about 10 wasted minutes of panic thinking that the plane lost our car seat and we’d be stuck in the airport forever. But now we know. Car seats are considered “oversized bags” and are transported separate from all the other bags and suitcases. If you did not know this already, you just learned something new.

The temps were much cooler – around 50 degrees for the high – and it quickly became clear that I did not bring enough warm-weather clothes.

The first night, we just grabbed our rental car and a bite to eat at Saltgrass steakhouse in CO Springs. The next day, we got up, had breakfast at the hotel, checked out a little farmer’s market across the street, and explored the Garden of the Gods. If you’ve never been, it’s this gorgeous park of giant, jutting red rocks at the base of the mountains. Beautiful, even though my description clearly isn’t doing it justice.

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Three generations at Garden of the Gods

Mommy and D at Garden of the Gods

Mommy and D at Garden of the Gods

Afterward, we explored the nearby town of Manitou Springs and stopped in a couple of places for food. Specifically Hell’s Kitchen Pizza (NY style pizza – very good) and Coquette’s Bistro for a coffee and cupcake. Then it was back to the hotel to get ready for the wedding. D spent some quality time with “Papaw” while we made it a mommy-daddy date night. The wedding itself was fairly small but beautiful and the reception location was unbeatable with a gorgeous view of both the mountains and the town. The only downside was that it was outdoors and only about 40 degrees, which we didn’t know until we got there so I only had a jean jacket in the car for warmth. I hadn’t intended on wearing denim to the reception, but oh well. I will sacrifice style for warmth any day. On the plus side, the venue had a few firepits throughout the property so just about everyone stayed huddled around those instead of at their assigned table seats. And even though we didn’t know a soul other than the happy couple, we had a great time and met some really nice people.

Our view from the reception. Ignore the denim.

Our view from the reception. Ignore the denim.

Sunday was a big day as we had plans to go up to Pike’s Peak. We debated driving versus taking the cog rail, but after hearing it had snowed up there on Saturday, we decided not to take our chances with the roads and bought some last-minute tickets on the train. Jury is still out as to whether or not this was a good idea. For anyone that may find themselves in the same predicament, here’s what I can tell you. The cog rail takes an hour and 20 minutes to get there versus about an hour by car. And depending on where your seats are located on the train, you may be straining your back/core to stay upright if you’re facing downhill. If possible, try to get seats facing uphill and maybe bring a small pillow to tuck behind your back since the seats aren’t padded. On the other hand, while your seats may be more comfortable in a car, and you’re free to stop at various pull-off areas along the way, there is no guard rail on the road leading to the top. So for the driver, this isn’t exactly a fun trip. You’re driving up a steep incline around hairpin turns for at least an hour and then spending another hour riding your breaks around those same curves on the way back. Then there’s the issue of altitude sickness. On the train, we were advised to take small sips of water every so often, but even so, all 3 of us still experienced some dizziness and nausea at the top of the mountain. To make matters worse, it was CROWDED at the top of the mountain. And cold (about 20 degrees) with high speed winds knocking the breath out of you. And all any of us had on was a light jacket. No winter coats and gloves like some smart people. But still more prepared than anyone wearing just a t-shirt, which we saw plenty of during that trip. So if the driver is prone to altitude sickness, driving may not be the best idea. As far as cost, it’s $12 per person to drive and $35 per person to ride the train. D was excluded from any costs since he’s so little.

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The best family shot we could get at the top of Pike’s Peak. So cold. So windy.

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On the way to the top of Pike’s Peak!

After our big Pike’s Peak adventure, we stopped for lunch at a place called The Mason Jar which reminded me very much of a poor man’s Cracker Barrel. And I despise Cracker Barrel. (Long story as to why, but it basically reminds me of death.) After that, we toured the famous cliff dwellings and museum, which was neat but the entrance fee was a tad high, in my opinion. I think I’m spoiled by all the free attractions in St. Louis. By the time we finished sightseeing, it was 5pm and everything was closing, so we spent the rest of the evening at the hotel. We were exhausted!

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Cliff dwellings

Can you spot the baby in the cliff dwellings?

Can you spot the baby in the cliff dwellings?

Monday morning was our last day, so we attempted to get up early so we could do a little sightseeing in Denver before our flight, but that didn’t happen. Instead, we made a quick stop in Golden, CO to do the (free) Coors Brewery Tour. I’m a little ashamed to admit that this was D’s first brewery tour and not the AB Brewery, but these things weren’t exactly planned. Anyway, we got there around 10:30am and while that may not seem like the best time to have a glass of beer, by the time we left an hour later, the parking lot was packed. On a Monday. Before noon. So apparently 10:30am IS the best time for a beer. The tour is self-guided, which already makes it not as cool as the AB tour, but it’s still pretty cool. And the tasting room feels like a pub. Not to mention the “tastings” are actually pretty big servings and everyone over 21 gets THREE glasses of beer. This would’ve been more exciting had I not been pregnant, so I only got to try the non-alcoholic beer, which was pretty darn good, actually. Even at 10:30am.

Family photo at Coors Brewery

Family photo at Coors Brewery

After the brewery, we stopped for brunch at a little place called The Golden Skillet before making our way to the airport.

And now for some random observations:

1. We rented a 2013 Hyundai Sonata (not a hybrid), drove about 300 miles total during this trip, and only used half a tank of gas the entire time. Holy good gas mileage, Batman!

2. The Denver Airport is huge. We had to allow extra time for dropping off the rental car and riding the shuttle to the airport. I think this entire process took 30-45 minutes. Then we had to walk quite a ways to the Frontier ticket counter and then more walking just to get to the security line. SO MUCH WALKING. On top of that, the place was packed. I know it was technically a holiday weekend since it was Columbus Day, but you would’ve thought it was Thanksgiving or Christmas considering just how crowded it was.

3. The day you actually make sure you have enough time at the airport is the day your flight will be delayed at least 2 hours. Meaning you spend upwards of 4 hours just hanging out with a toddler in a VERY crowded terminal.

4. It’s been years since we’ve flown Frontier and I’ve always had a positive attitude about them. Until now. They now charge $25 for ANY checked back (except car seats/strollers) and they also charge for any beverage other than water. Not even complimentary peanuts. So whatever money we saved on tickets with Frontier versus someone else like Southwest, we ended up spending in baggage fees and drinks. Their flights to STL were also delayed much longer than the other airlines. The 3pm Southwest flight was only delayed until 3:15 while our 3:15 flight was delayed until 4:55. Not cool.

5. Our hotel of choice was The Embassy Suites. We learned early on that when traveling with a baby/toddler that space is a true luxury and it’s better to stay in a hotel room that has a separate living area for multiple reasons. For one, you’ll probably spend more time in your hotel room when you have a young child than you would if it’s an adults-only trip. There isn’t much kid-friendly nightlife and babies go to bed early, if you’re trying to keep them on any sort of schedule. So having a nice, spacious room with a couch or two and plenty of places to lay out all your stuff is a must. Even little things, like having access to a fridge for his milk, are features we never really had to think about pre-baby. Secondly, having that extra room with a door that separates the bedroom means that if your baby will sleep in a packnplay, you can put the little one to bed at the wonderfully early hour of 8pm and still stay up and watch TV, read, hang out with the hubby, etc. for a couple more hours without disturbing your sleeping angel. And lastly, a big complimentary buffet is a great perk that can save about $100 off your meal bill. I had free, made-to-order omelettes and pancakes every morning. So awesome.

6. Traveling is stressful. Traveling with extended family, particularly inlaws, is even more stressful. Fortunately, none of us had any moments of obvious frustration with each other, except for that time D fell asleep in the car and I told the hubs and his dad to go ahead and check out the balanced rock at Garden of the Gods for a few minutes. And because his phone was full, I let him take mine to snap photos. FORTY-FIVE MINUTES LATER, they finally returned. After letting me sit there, in the car, with a sleeping baby, and no means of distraction or entertainment other than looking at the clock, thinking there was no way they’d let me sit there for more than 15 minutes. But they did, because they were “climbing rocks” and lost track of time. Let’s just say he’s still making it up to me. And payback WILL be a bitch.

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Nashville

Apologies for the tardiness with this post. It’s been sitting in my drafts folder for weeks and I just realized it!

Just a week after D’s birthday celebrations, we packed up the car yet again for another road trip. This time to Nashville to see my cousin get married. We’ve never been to Nashville before, but we’re huge country music fans and I’ve never been to a part of Tennessee I didn’t like so expectations were a bit high for the land of the Grand Ole Opry.

That is, until we realized our little family event coincided with the city’s most jam-packed time of year – The Country Music Festival. Our hotel was about 15 miles north of the city, which ended up being a fine location, but our actual hotel? A dump. My step-dad is a die-hard Holiday Inn patron, mostly because of his points cards, but this place was the worst Holiday Inn we’ve ever seen. Our room smelled like an old gym sock or the inside of a sweaty gym bag. The carpets were disgusting, we killed more than one spider in our room, and even though it was only 3 floor building, the elevator took so long that it was just easier and faster to take the stairs (though you had to hold your breath in the stairwell too because the stench was so bad). Had it not been the damn Country Music Festival weekend, we’d have found another hotel. But everything was booked.

But, we weren’t there to sit around in our hotel room, so we tried to make the most of it by getting out and about around the city. Some of our favorite stops?

The Parthenon

A true-to-size replica of the original Parthenon in Rome, there’s a cool museum underneath that talks about the history of the building from its first appearance during the World’s Fair in the late 1800’s. There’s a really big, colorful, and creepy statue of Athena in there too that was a big hit with most visitors but really just freaked me out. (ed’s note: Thought I had a pic to share but it must be on the hubby’s phone and I’m too lazy to find it.)

Marche Artisan Foods – for brunch

Almost all of our vacations center around good food and Nashville was no exception. Even though our hotel provided complimentary hot breakfast, dining out is part of the whole traveling experience for us so I consulted with Yelp to find a decent brunch place and it did not disappoint. And with a latte as big as my head, I can’t say one negative thing about this place. Very urban cowboy chic, if that’s a thing.20130705-145117.jpg

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This latte was the size of my head. But much tastier. Unless you’re a cannibal.

Downtown Nashville

The benefit of family trips is the abundance of babysitting options. My parents graciously offered to watch D so we could have a date night out on the town. The weather was spotty and we didn’t have anything planned so we just opted to brave the crowds downtown during Country Music Fest and check things out. To our delightful surprise, the downtown area was pretty much dead at 8pm on a Thursday night. We guessed that everyone was across the river at the amphitheater watching Miranda Lambert. We took advantage of the no cover charges and did a little bar hopping. Our favorite place BY FAR was BB Kings. The performers were just outstanding. The rest of the bars we checked out reminded me too much of visiting an empty college frat house. You could smell the dried jungle juice on the floor and our shoes stuck to the concrete under our feet. Just gross and totally not our scene, even if the place had been packed.20130705-145321.jpg

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Inside BB Kings

The Dukes of Hazzard Museum

Though we never actually stepped inside the museum, there was a Dukes of Hazzard festival happening that weekend and we couldn’t resist pulling off the highway to look at all of the replica cars and characters.

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A glimpse in to my (hopefully distant) future

Antique Archaeology

Ever heard of the show American Pickers? The hosts of that show run two antique shops – one in Iowa and one in Nashville. We’ve heard there can be lines of a couple hundred people out the door and around the block to get into this place, but perhaps this was an instance where the Country Music Festival worked to our advantage because we were able to walk right in. It’s really more of a souvenir shop for die-hard fans of the show, but it was still cool to see and yes, we both bought t-shirts. There’s a little coffee shop a couple doors down that is also worth checking out and the owner is ridiculously nice. I recommend the spicy mocha.20130705-145155.jpg20130705-145502.jpg20130705-145517.jpg

As for the wedding, it was spectacular. Even though it had stormed all day, the rain stopped just before the wedding and held off the rest of the night making it a rather enjoyable evening. The bride was beautiful, the colors were neat, the food was delicious, the alcohol was flowing, and the dance floor was hopping. But most importantly, I want to share with you the chocolate fountain, which I was seated beside (smart move, family), and the cake.

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However, I can see why people don’t usually bring a 1 year old to weddings. D was exceptionally cranky that night, resulting in the hubs leaving for periods of time (and completely missing dinner) to drive him around in the car and get him to go to sleep. But that didn’t stop us from getting a couple of cute pics together, and as a family.

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And while this has nothing to do with Nashville, it happened to be National Donut Day that weekend, so I got my donut on at Dunkin Donuts. This here is a key lime pie donut.

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Delish

 

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Longtime readers and folks that know us know that we love to travel. In the almost 9 years that we’ve been together, we’ve been to Mexico twice, Hawaii three times, California twice, NYC and Florida a few times, a Mediterranean cruise, and a whole slew of other places in between. We absolutely LOVE to travel.

Our last trip before baby was a work trip for me in Ft. Lauderdale that we turned into a mini-babymoon. Since baby D entered our lives, we’ve been to visit my husband’s family nearly 9 hours away a few times, spent a couple of nights in Chicago for a work trip for me, and most recently, took our first flight and half work/half vacation trip to Philadelphia. We’re by no means “experts”, but I think it’s safe to say we’ve done our fair share of overnights in other places and have now even took to the skies with a wee one so I’d like to share a few of my observations along the way.

Obviously, traveling with a baby is WAY different than a quick weekend jaunt to a swanky hotel and fancy dinners with your sweetheart. But that doesn’t mean it has to be bad or unenjoyable.

1. You will sacrifice style. Now I am by no means a snob when it comes to restaurants or accommodations.  I’m perfectly happy staying in a Hampton Inn and eating a sub sandwich for dinner. But dining out on the town is more of a task because certain restaurants aren’t stroller accessible, or even if a place is baby friendly and spacious, it just seems more upscale and you don’t want to kill the mood with your talkative baby. Sometimes I just don’t give a damn and will go there anyway simply because I want to eat there, but most of the time I try to be considerate of others and would rather avoid getting glared at by people wondering why on earth I just brought a baby to a bar.

2. One drink minimum. Speaking of bars, those carefree nights when you would stumble back to your hotel room a little bit tipsy are no more. Not only is it not safe, but chances are you’re so doggone tired after the first drink, a second one would have you crashing face first on the table.

3. Leave the nightlife behind. As if one and two didn’t drive this point home already, your nightlife on vacation is virtually nonexistent. Babies go to bed early. So unless you want to have an over-tired, screaming baby on your hands, you’ll be back in your hotel room and in your pajamas by 7:30pm, watching crappy TV or paying an ungodly amount of money for a movie that came out on DVD a year ago.

Rockin' Friday night in the hotel room. Little jailbird.

Rockin’ Friday night in the hotel room. Little jailbird.

4. Mornings can be enjoyed (i.e. Brunch is a new favorite). Babies go to bed early but they also wake up early. So while all the rest of the world is still sleeping, you’re up and ready for the day and able to get a head start on the day’s activities. Since it still takes us awhile to get ready and get going, we’ve discovered the best way to enjoy our morning is to find a good breakfast or brunch place.

5. You have no choice but to s-l-o-w down. Sometimes when we go on a trip, we try to cram in too much activity so we rarely take time to just sit and enjoy our surroundings, like our over-priced hotel room. With a baby, sometimes you have no choice but to sit around and wait for the next baby-related activity because your entire schedule revolves around them – feeding times, nap times, pooping schedule, bath and bedtime routines, etc.

Funny faces.

Funny faces.

6. Sleep will most likely suck. Chalk it up to different surroundings but it should be expected that even if your baby is a rock star sleeper, there will be at least one night of very rough sleep. So don’t expect to be well-rested. And if you’re traveling in a different time zone, expect your schedule to be completely out of whack for at least half a day.

But despite ALL of these things, traveling with a baby still beats sitting around your house  surrounded by mounds of unfolded laundry, a stack of dirty dishes, and crappy TV. Because it’s moments like taking your child on his first carriage ride, or giving him a taste of his first donut at a MLB stadium that will stay with you forever. And just like anything else when it comes to a baby – it’s a lot of work, but it’s so very worth it.

I'm totally worth it.

I’m totally worth it.

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Philadelphia

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Liberty Bell

It’s been 13 years since my first and only trip to Philadelphia. I had just graduated high school and my patents took me on a road trip to the East Coast for what would likely be our last family vacation. (Not that we took many of these. Our only other vacation was to the Smokey Mountains and Dollywood. My parents. World travelers they are not.)

We only spent a night in Philly and all I remember is seeing the Liberty Bell and we have zero pics to prove it so this trip was basically my first time exploring the city of brotherly love.

First up on the “must-do” list was eat a real Philly cheesesteak sandwich. We walked a couple of blocks to Old City and found a no-frills place called Sonny’s. The weather was gorgeous so we grabbed a table outside and watched as people walked up and down the street and into the bar next door. After dinner, we walked down to a soda/ice cream parlor called The Franklin Fountain. You know it must be good when there’s a half hour wait and a line out the door. Just as I was ordering our chocolate shake (for him) and The Stock Market Crunch (for me), we caught a glimpse of lightening so we took our order to go and high-tailed it back to our hotel before the storms rolled in.

 

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Independence Hall

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The Franklin Fountain

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Inside the Franklin Fountain

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Ben Franklin’s grave

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First Carriage Ride

 

Saturday morning I had to be up at the crack of dawn, and considering the time change, let’s just say it was WAY too early to be up on a Saturday for me. But, this was my first speaking engagement and I was co-presenting with the global brand manager of my favorite chocolate company, so I wanted to make sure I brought my A game. Surprisingly, I wasn’t the least bit nervous of getting up and talking to a group of about 60 women. In fact, I rather enjoyed it and only wish we would’ve had a bit more time to get to all of the questions. Afterward, I hung around for a couple of more sessions and chatted with my panel partner, talking shop. I walked away feeling completely inspired by the conversations and even though I was there to GIVE knowledge, I think I came away gaining a lot more.

Saturday evening, after a quick meal at City Tavern where the decor and wait staff are all dressed in period clothing, it was game time. As luck would have it, our beloved Cardinals were in town playing the Phillies, so we bought the cheapest tix we could find and headed down to the new Citizen’s Bank Park. Now, I’m a HUGE Cardinals fan and would never say a bad thing about Busch Stadium. BUT. The Phillies stadium? It is spectacular. Mostly because of the variety of food and drink you can get there. Usually, I only require some non-stale tortilla chips and warm nacho cheese with a few jalapenos to watch a ballgame, but this place had just about anything you could want. My favorite treat had to be the warm, cinnamon and sugar donuts from Federal Donuts. Baby D loved them too. In fact, we loved them so much, we made sure to make a pitstop there before we left for the airport on Monday.

Anyway, back to the game. The night before, the Cardinals had lost so we were thrilled when the Cards won 5-0 and all of those runs were scored while we were at the stadium. The temps had dropped considerably from Friday so we weren’t able to last until the 7th inning stretch like we’d hoped, but it was still a great time and I’m glad we can cross another stadium off our list.

Sunday was still pretty chilly but we were determined to make the best of the crappy weather. We put our names in for brunch at a place called Farmicia, located in Old City. While we waited, we went on a hunt for coffee and found a quaint little place on a side street called Old City Coffee. (I highly recommend the almond flavored latte.) By the time we got back to the restaurant, our table was ready. Hubs had the breakfast quesadilla and I had the jumbo lump crab omelet, while baby D slept. (Thank goodness.)

 

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Let’s go Cards!

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Cardinals Win!

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Family portrait from our seats

 

We spent the rest of the day walking off our brunch. Between trips back to the hotel to feed/change the baby, we explored the city on foot. We took a (free) tour of Independence Hall, checked out the Liberty Bell visitor center, walked around Washington Square, ate cheesesteaks at Pat’s (we drove), took a carriage ride near Independence Hall, walked down South Street and over to Penn’s Landing. Eventually we made our way back to Old City again and had dinner/drinks at Pizzicato. (Calamari, Quattro Formaggi pizza and beers.) We spent the rest of the night watching the news about the Boston bomber capturing, along with the rest of the country.

Monday it was back to Old City Coffee for our caffeine fix, mailed some post cards from the very first US post office where Benjamin Franklin was head postmaster, took a short drive to Federal Donuts for those delicious warm, cinnamon sugar donuts, a quick stop at Target for some extra formula, and then a trip to IKEA because I simply can’t resist stopping anytime I see that big blue and yellow sign. Finally, the time came to return home.

So that was our trip to Philly. And though I wish the weather would’ve been a tad bit warmer, it was still a pretty incredible trip in a beautiful city with a ton of American history. And best of all, we saw everything we wanted to see while pushing around a baby stroller and a very active and verbal 10 month old.

 

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Brunch

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Gettin’ a history lesson at Independence Hall

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Ben Franklin pooped here

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Delicious coffee and a snoozing baby. Perfection.

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First USPS           

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2nd trip to IKEA

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We did it!! Baby D’s first plane ride!! While not a beach destination, we still had a blast in Philly. More to come on that soon, but first, let’s get to the travel nitty-gritty since this was a topic I agonized over for HOURS before we left. And because I like to be helpful, I’m going to write up a list of tips. These are all things that I wondered about or researched and have now experienced first hand.

1. Baby ID. As some folks commented on my last post and on Twitter, not every airline requires a boarding pass (and therefore ID) for your baby. BUT, some do. Southwest does, for example. And while they don’t specifically state this on their website, and they only say “birth certificate or passport?” when asking for ID, they will accept immunization records if that’s all you have. Also note, that you do not need originals. Copies of baby’s birth certificate or shot records will do just fine. Again, this varies by airline so check with your carrier.

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2. Car seats and strollers can be checked or gate checked – your choice. Either way, expect plenty of rough handling, so consider buying a travel cover if you’re worried about it. Or ask for a large plastic bag from the ticket counter. We have a travel system (car seat and stroller combo) that we ended up taking through security and gate checking. We did not buy a travel case for either item, so our stroller ended up with lots of deep scratches on the handle. Apparently strollers/car seats have even been broken during transit and the airlines won’t take responsibility. So maybe don’t take your $500 BOB stroller without a protective carrier.

3. You need about 8 arms to get through security check points smoothly. Between the stroller, the car seat, my laptop, purse, backpack, shoes, belt, liquids bag, and the baby – it’s a PROCESS. Fortunately my husband was with me to help (I took the baby while he put the car seat and stroller on the belt). Some airports have special security lines for families. I always thought those were the slow lines, but as it turns out, we were able to bypass a huge security line by being in the family line.

4. Look for family changing areas. Most airports have them. They’re separate from the general ladies room, and tend to be cleaner. But almost every single public changing table I’ve used has always been out of the protective covers, so bring your own if you’re worried about germs. Most airplanes have a changing table in at least one of the lavatories, but I have a hard enough time using the bathroom on those things by myself, let alone trying to change my child on a tiny table.

5. Families typically get priority boarding. On Southwest, this means family boarding comes right after the A boarding group. So even though we were ticketed as B45 and B46, we were able to board before B1, which meant we were able to get seated together, and had room for all of our carry-on stuff. Nice!
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6. For longer flights, put baby in overnight diapers. Even though our flight was only about 2 hours and 15 minutes, we ended up circling for an extra hour. And because of turbulence, it would’ve been more dangerous to try and change him in the airplane bathroom than to just wait it out. That’s a long time to go without a diaper change though, so be sure to use overnights so baby is as comfortable as possible.

7. Pack plenty of snacks in your carry on. Given the delays we had, our feeding schedule was totally messed up. Fortunately, we had plenty of puffs and mum-mums on hand to tide D over.

8. If possible, feed baby during takeoffs/landings. When I booked our plane tickets, I purposefully scheduled our flights so that feeding times occurred while we were in the air. This helped a lot with ear pain on the way up. On the way down, we made sure D had his paci, but he still tugged on his ears quite a bit. And since we’ve moved from breastmilk to formula, I bought those handy Enfamil travel packs and just purchased water for mixing once we were inside security.

9. Tablets are a lifesaver. Be prepared with a downloaded video or two. Though D slept most of the way to Philly, he was wide awake and raring to go on the flight home. We decided to splurge on the in-flight WiFi so we could play his Baby Einstein videos. (Nothing works on him like Baby Einstein. And Baby Einstein isn’t available for download – only streaming via YouTube.) That said, try not to depend on in-flight WiFi. It’s terribly slow and spotty and not worth the $8.

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10. Some people are jerks, but most are really nice and friendly. I’ve heard plenty of horror stories about people being treated poorly because they were traveling with a baby. I didn’t experience this, thank goodness, but I was totally prepared for it. For the most part, we were either treated very nicely or just basically ignored. That said, your baby will still probably do something that someone will find annoying. Babies are too mobile and too curious to sit completely still, so the chances that they’re going to bang on the tray table, reach through the seat crack and touch someone, squeal loudly (either out of anger or delight), or kick someone’s seat is very likely. You just have to hope that people will try to ignore it or at least pretend that they find it as cute as you do (although we all know they’re lying).

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11. Elevators are everywhere and they are your friend. Never try to navigate an escalator with a stroller. We had zero issues using the elevators, except for the fact that D hates them and cries every time we get in one.

12. Babies can ride on shuttles and it’s no big deal. I know this probably sounds stupid, but I was having major issues with the fact that we’d have to take a shuttle to our rental car. Since I’m not allowed to park in the airport’s short term parking lot (rates are too high and my company won’t reimburse unless it’s long-term parking), I made my husband drop me and baby D off at the airport while he went to park the car and ride the shuttle back. Once we got to Philly, we found out we would need to take a shuttle to the rental car facility. We just hoisted the stroller up and onto the shuttle and locked the wheels so it wouldn’t roll around. Is it a safety issue? Yes, definitely. But is that your only choice and is it legal? Yes. It also sucks for fellow shuttle riders. I’m sure I banged a few ankles and knees with our stroller, but they were polite enough to accept my apology and ignore it.

13. If you’re renting a car, upgrade to a full size or an SUV. I say this for two reasons: 1. Luggage/stroller space. We rented a full size, which was a Nissan Altima, and it was like playing Tetris to get our luggage and stroller to both fit in the trunk together. 2. Car seat size. Our infant seat bumps right up to the driver/passenger seats, so we always have to move them up to give the car seat plenty of room. This is not possible in smaller cars, unless you want to feel like you’re in a clown car.

14. There is no “traveling lightly” when it comes to traveling with a baby. There just isn’t. Accept it, embrace the fact that you have most of the contents of your home with you, and move on.

15. Stay positive. Babies feed off your energy. If you’re in a bad mood, chances are your baby will pick up on your anxiety and will be irritable too. Stay optimistic that everything will be great, and just enjoy the ride.
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Flying with Baby – Part 1

Tomorrow, I head to Philly to speak at the Type-A Parent Advanced conference. While I’m excited to sit around and geek out about professional blogging, I’m completely freaking out about taking baby D on his first flight.

I’ve been reading a few articles that have been helpful.

This one from Parenting Starts Here. And this one from Flying with a Baby, which is especially helpful for International flights.

There’s just one thing that every single advice column I read left out. One very small but very important thing.

A copy of your child’s birth certificate.

Seems easy, right? Logical, even? Except I didn’t think of this until today – the day before our flight. FAIL.

Even worse is that some time during the whole birthing process, as I was laying in my hospital bed, recovering from my c-section and trying to mentally process the fact that I was now a mom, and also that my baby was currently in the NICU and OMG when is my effing milk going to come in – I didn’t really pay attention when the nurse went over the whole birth certificate, social security card thing. I remember filling out some forms and hearing that things would come in the mail, but that’s about it. Hadn’t thought about it since. Fast forward to today and I found myself wondering where in the world that birth certificate could be. Did we get it in the mail? I don’t remember getting it. Turns out, the state of Missouri doesn’t send you a copy of your child’s birth certificate. If you want a copy, you have to pay for it. What a fucking racket that is! At the advice of a fellow mom, I found out I could get a copy of his birth certificate instantly if I just took my happy ass down to City Hall.

So I did just that. In the middle of a rainstorm. And when I got there, I was told “Cash only.”

IT’S 20-EFFING-13!! Figure out how to accept plastic, state of Missouri!

Obviously, I didn’t have enough cash on me so I had to go back out in the monsoon to my car, find my debit card, and walk to the other side of the building to use their on-site ATM (and pay a nice little fee). THEN I was finally able to get a copy of baby D’s birth certificate. And they gave it to me with a nice white envelope that was too small to hold it, so I had to shield this precious piece of paper with my body to keep it from getting destroyed on the way back to my car. Lovely.

Ok, so back to the point of this post. If you’re planning a flight with baby at any point in your life, get your damn birth certificate. Preferably not during a major thunderstorm, and don’t forget – bring plenty of CASH.

I’ll share more flying with baby tips once I actually figure out what the hell I’m doing.

 

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