Day 246 | Toddler Travel Tips

We made it. Eight hours and 45 minutes from door to door yesterday and we are back in our own house and fighting through the attention withdrawals that always come with the territory when we return from Wisconsin. 

After surviving another two flights yesterday, here are some travel tips that have made my life easier:
  1. Pack light...and heavy. Bring as little as possible on the plane with you (there's enough to juggle without extra bags) but don't skimp on the toys/books/food to help distract the wee ones. 
  2. Board last. Or at least toward the end. Unless you have a baby you're trying to get to sleep prior to take off, pass on the opportunity to board early and enjoy the extra time to roam free before being cooped up. 
  3. Keep 'em confined. Using carriers through security is the way to go. From tiny babies to toddlers, it's the best way to stay hands free to get everything on the belt without having to worry about escapees. 
  4. Plan for delays. It's terrifying to think about but it's better to be prepared then end up at the airport for several hours without enough diapers or baby food.
  5. Entertain, don't soothe. My babies are not great plane sleepers (except when they were teeny). They'll power through naps or bedtime, much to my chagrin. After many flights trying to get crying babies to fall asleep, I've realized that it's easier to try to entertain them through thre exhaustion than attempt to get them to sleep. Exhausting for me? Insanely, but much less stressful.
  6. Bring a stroller. Plan on bringing your most travel-friendly stroller (compact but with decent storage) with you to the gate (they'll check it there for free). It's handy to have a place to strap your little one into (think trips to the bathroom) and it's a necessary pack mule for everything you need to carry (diaper bag, coats, carrier, etc.).
  7. Make peace with germs. Before I had babies, the idea of letting a child roam around the airport on their hands and knees was repulsive to me. I got over that real quick when I realized those little ones need to use up some energy before boarding the plane. Roam free, crawlers!
  8. New is exciting. Save toys to reveal on the plane. Buy new or hide old ones leading up to the trip so that these distractions are new and interesting. Some toddler-approved options for your consideration: Magformers, soft cover books, magnetic play board, stickers/sticker notebook.
  9. Bring a garbage bag. Sounds random but it's amazing how much trash you accumulate on a flight. And if you're not prepared, you end up with junk everywhere. If you forget one, grab one of the TSA bags outside security (most airports have them).
  10. Breathe. It's impossible to internalize at the moment but flights are short and people are generally very sweet about cranky babies. It'll all be over soon no matter how long the crying lasts so breathe through it, friend.
Safe travels!

Day 245 | Think Happy Thoughts

We are at the airport on our way back to the District...and reality. We've had a lovely visit with equal parts quality family time, laughter, full bellies, and holiday festivities. One thing we were short on? Sleep. I guess we needed something to improve upon in the New Year. Thanks again to all our family for putting up with our chaos and spoiling us in more ways than I could mention. 

If you've got some free time this afternoon, think happy thoughts for a smooth trip. Everyone's in good spirits as we wait to board (as you can see in the photos). Hopefully that continues. 

Day 238 | Merry Christmas: Part 2

We enjoyed another lovely family Christmas celebration tonight. This time with Chris's family. It was a wonderful celebration of giving, receiving, and eating. Obviously lots of eating. If only the other third of the brother trio could have been here with his family, it would have been perfect. 

It's truly a blessing to have family that you can call friends and that you completely enjoy spending time with. We hit the lottery with all our family: immediate and extended.

*Note: I almost missed another post today. My schedule is just all out of whack! And maybe the two hours of putting together an awesome zoo for Chase added to the rush to get right into bed afterward...

Day 237 | Merry Christmas

Merry merry Christmas. I'm wishing all of you love, magical moments, and family fun on this festive day. 

*Due to lots of quality family time and some pretty extreme exhaustion (have I mentioned how I'm not cut out to sleep with a baby in the same room as me?), I missed yesterday's blog post. The horror! I'll just tell myself that it was my day off for the holiday. Hope you don't mind. 

Day 236 | Christmas is Here

We officially made it to our family Christmas festivities. After another four hours in the car (not my favorite, for the record), we're settling in and loving the quality time with our extended family.

Chase was reunited with his best friend, Frosty (who is about the same size as our toddler), and both boys have been enjoying the extra attention (surprise, surprise). And the photo on the bottom-right is Chase's vacation bed/pseudo-life raft. It's been a big hit. 

Day 174 | Short Trip, Long Ending

The week in Cape Cod flew by remarkably fast. I guess it's good to be sad we're leaving-then we know we didn't stay too long.

I had every intention of posting our farewell group photo today but a two hour flight delay meant no recovery time tonight for downloading photos. 

Instead, enjoy the photos above of the best airport attraction we could have asked for. Chase played at the "Kids Port" for two hours, straight. And he still wasn't ready to leave. Robbe got pretty into exploring the airplanes, too. It's so nice to have a place to let crawlers roam, without it being the airport floor

Thanks to Grandma and Grandpa M for spoiling us to the extreme and for all the absolutely wonderful memories. We're thankful it's only two months until we'll see you in Wisconsin!

Day 173 | All Aboard in Orleans

Today was a day dedicated to the choo choo train enthusiast in our group. It was a bit rainy, so we headed back to Orleans for Chase to play with a toy train on display at the Red Balloon Toy Shop (don't worry, we didn't walk out empty-handed). The store clerk clued us in on a great model train set up at a local department store and we headed there after a quick treat at the Hot Chocolate Sparrow. The trains at Snow's didn't disappoint. The ideal indoor attraction for our toddler. Thomas the Train, a current favorite, even made an appearance.

We rounded out the day, and our vacation, with a post-nap run to another beach. The First Encounter Beach at nearly-sunset was the perfect end to a lovely trip. 

Day 172 | A Toddler's Dream

More attention than a little guy could ever hope for. Chase is living the dream. Between Grandma reading and providing hours of entertainment (think toys and stickers), Grandpa and Daddy playing downstairs (where there are pool, ping pong, foosball, and air hockey tables), and Mary Catherine obeying any whims, Chase has been well taken care of. I'm sure you were worried.

Robbe's been reeling in the attention, too, for the record. I just don't have any photos to support that claim. 

Day 171 | Scenic Cape Cod

While the rest of the group enjoyed a baby-free breakfast, Robbe and I went for a stroll around Chatham so he could get his morning nap in. Such a sweet little town busting to the seams with unique shops, cute architecture, and spirit. With Robbe in the carrier to keep me company, we walked to the Chatham Lighthouse. I snapped some scenes on my phone that were just too perfect not to risk waking a sleeping baby for (you have to keep moving, you see).

My love affair with the Cape continues.

Day 170 | Another Day, Another Beach

Two gorgeous fall days in a row. Could we be any luckier?

It was a bit of a lazy morning (mostly due to a certain baby's morning nap) and then we headed out to Orleans to stroll down another beautiful beach. Robbe walked in the sand for the first time (assisted, of course), loved the ocean breeze in his hair, and was enamored with the waves. Maybe we have an ocean-lover after all (I'm sure Grandma Mary is releaved). 

Day 169 | A Beautiful Cape Cod Day

Today is why I love the fall. It was sunny, breezy, comfortable...the perfect jeans weather. My perfect weather.

We took full advantage of our good fortune by spending the morning at the beach. I wish I could say Chase loved the ocean as much as I did today. He's still not sold on the idea, for some reason. Crazy guy. No matter what he says, it could not have been a more picturesque, enjoyable adventure. Seriously, everything about Cape Cod is the most picturesque. 

Between the yummy donuts for breakfast, the trip to the beach (and some nearby lighthouses), and a delicious bbq dinner with the fam and Mary Catherine, today was exactly how I would want the vacation to start.

Why, yes, maybe we should move here. 

Day 168 | We Made It

Well hello, Cape Cod.

It's been quite a day. Quite. A. Day. We started our adventure at 8am this morning (our first Uber ride went perfectly) and pulled into our vacation house at about 445pm. Whew. 

Flights were on time, babies were incredibly well-behaved and cooperative, husband was beyond patient and helpful, and the drive to the Cape was relatively uneventful. Highlights so far? 1. Chase running to meet his grandparents at the airport. So so sweet. 2. Chase's dream come true with us getting to drive a blue minivan. Can you believe how lucky we are? 

No one is in the mindset to plan too far ahead for the upcoming week (traveling is exhausting), but I'm looking forward to a wonderfully relaxing and enjoyable six days. 

Day 130 | The Countdown Has Begun

We booked a vacation to Cape Cod! I couldn't be more excited to break out of our rut (the days all seem the same lately), spend some quality family time (yay for Grandma and Grandpa M joining us!), and see my dear, dear friend in her own environment.

We're a little over a month away from departure, but Chase is buckling down early to get ready for the trip. He needs to hone his foosball skills if there's any chance of holding his own against his dad (there's one at the house we're staying at). 

He kept saying the red guys were "broken," though. We need to work on the concept of the game, I guess. 

Day 59 | And It All Comes to an End

The family parted ways this morning. It honestly could not have been a better break from reality:

-the resort was perfect 
-there was a ton to do on and off site
-the weather was just fine for what we were hoping to do (Virginia in late June could be disgustingly hot)
-everyone got along (not terribly surprising but you never know with that many people for a whole week)

I love my boys and our new house but I  am not ready to face everyday life again away from the constant support (people actually want to rock my baby to sleep?!?), the meal planning and preparation organized by someone else (I think I did one load of dishes all week...sorry, guys), the distractions from everyone when I wasn't feeling particularly positive, the list goes on and on. 

I'm feeling very lucky to call these people family. And after a week with me, they still agreed to take the above selfie. That's love. 

Day 58 | Vacation: Cramming it all in

The days just fly by too quickly on vacation. I'm not ready to call it quits. I've actually got a bit of the depressions about it. So, instead of fixating on that (sniffle, sniffle), I'll focus on what a fun last full day of vacation we had.

Another beautiful day beckoned us to the pool. Chase got even more comfortable in the water and had his dreams come true to be joined by all his cousins, uncle Matt, Grandpa Paw, Grandma Mary and his Dad. I started out on Robbe duty until he was willing to sleep solo on a lounge chair...and good was hot out!

My friend, Val, was sweet enough to join us for lunch. It has been years (years!) since we've seen each other and yet it felt like no time has past. Isn't that the test of real friendships? We had a ton to catch up on and we shoved as much into an hour as could be imagined. I wish we could see each other more often, but I'll take what I can get. 

After putting the kiddos down for their naps, mom and I snuck out to the outlets to spend some quality baby-free time. Ahhh...a taste of a past life. 

As if all that excitement weren't enough, we came home to a Gullicksrud Family Mini Putt contest and another delicious meal. 

Seriously, vacation life is the best. Now you see why I have the depressions?

Day 57 | Vacation: Poolside firsts

The rest of the fam headed to an amusement park this morning (shout out to Val for helping with tickets!) so we decided to spend a quiet morning by the pool.

I think Chase is on attention overload with all the family around (definitely not complaining!!) so the morning with just our family is hopefully what he needs to snap him out of the crankiness that's been following him around the last couple of days. The poolside morning could not have been more perfect: the shade was a comfortable temperature, it wasn't too busy, and both boys checked a first off the list.

Robbe went swimming for the first time! He seemed to enjoy tears at least. His brother even splashed him in the face a couple of times but no problem. He also enjoyed a lovely poolside nap in his dad's arms. Nothing better than that!

Chase's first? He jumped in from the side of the pool. This probably doesn't seem that impressive, unless you know our toddler who takes a lot of encouragement to try new things. He went from only wanting to spend time in the 4-inch deep kiddie pool to jumping off the side of the big pool, floating on his back, and learning the doggie paddle. Big day! He kept asking to go back with IsabelleAnneLane (all one word) to show off his new tricks!

Day 56 | Vacation: Beach day

And by "day," I mean beach hour and a half for me and the boys.

Apparently the beach is not Chase's idea of a fun way to spend the day. I'm all about pushing him out of his comfort zone to encourage him to try new things and usually it works and he enjoys whatever it is (ie the carousel). After a few too many wake ups with Robbe last night, though, I just didn't have the energy to offer enough "encouragement" for Chase to enjoy himself. So, after an hour and a half at Virginia Beach which consisted of Chase playing on a pretty average playground and the boys sitting with me on a towel in the shade, we loaded the car and headed back to the resort with my dad (who was sweet enough to give up the rest of his beach day to haul us back). 

They'll learn to appreciate it eventually, right?!?

*On a happier note...Robbe decided to spend the first few minutes of his beach lounging learning to roll from back to front. He's done the front to back a couple of times but apparently he was waiting for the right motivation (the ocean...not silly toys like other babies) to tackle the more complicated maneuver. 

Day 55 | Vacation: A boy with his grandpa

Chase is smitten with Grandpa "Paw". He asks about him constantly and will do just about anything to be by his side.

It might have something to do with the acrobatics that ensue when Grandpa is anywhere near the couch (see above photo). 

The relationship that is developing/has developed mostly long-distance is really very sweet (and that's true with all his grandparents, actually). I have a feeling this bond will continue to grow as the years go on. I can only hope. 

Day 54 | Vacation: Old timey town

Family trip to Colonial Williamsburg!

We might not have gotten the earliest start this morning...thanks to our boys, but we made it to the Revolutionary City before noon and were able to have a lot of old timey fun.


-Chase "baa-ing" at the sheep
-Old timey crafts for the girls
-Authentic bonnets = pretty pricey
-Chase can now say blacksmith
-It was the first occasion in Chase's short life that he skipped his nap. He did amazing. Really no meltdown. I couldn't believe it. Makes me very happy and a little nervous (he can't drop that nap!).
-Cool summer breezes = the best
-We learned that there's a breed of sheep that have heart attacks during thunder storms. There aren't many left...surprise, surprise.

We celebrated the great day with a special ice cream treat. Chase requested blue but had to settle for purple.