I flew to Boston with Asher and met my new niece! And totally lame, but I have no pictures to go with this post. My computer is full again. Need to do more deleting and uploading to SmugMug. (If you want to join SmugMug, which I love, and want to save yourself $5 and earn me $10, enter this code: f36AmCK7mpRpU. =)
Asher’s first flying experience went very well. He’s a great kid, and sat nicely on my lap (what’s left of it) the whole time. The flights were mostly smooth, and despite the fact that I HATE (hate hate hate hate hate) flying and sit white-knuckled the whole time, he didn’t seem to pick up on it. He was calm and nonchalant, only screaming once when I took away his peppercorns. (Yes, I brought a sealed bottle of peppercorns for him to play with. He had fallen in love with the shakey-shakey sound, and taking the cap on and off, so I brought it with us. He loved it.) Other distractions I brought with me on the plane: crayons, paper, stickers, raisins, crackers, water in a sippy, little car, and Aunt Sasha. But he mostly enjoyed the snacks and the peppercorns. (You just never know, do you?) We had a bit of a scare on the first flight when there was someone sitting nearby with a medical concern, but Asher was calm throughout, though quiet and worried.
We didn’t check any baggage. Yes, I traveled with a toddler out-of-state and didn’t check a thing. Even with current flying regulations, it’s possible, especially if you’re organized and a somewhat experienced parent who isn’t worried about providing for every possible unpredictable need. Also, I didn’t need to bring a pack & play, since my sister on the other end had one for me to use. Checking baggage costs money nowadays, and I have to be very frugal right now, so I had extra incentive to make it work. I packed a rolling suitcase with all of our clothes and a few extra things. I packed all of our toiletries in the requisite 3 oz.-or-smaller bottles (which cost me less than $4 at Target, for five bottles), all fit inside one clear quart-size Ziploc bag, and then stored in an outer pocket so I could get to it easily to run it through the scanner separately (as required). Traveling with a baby or toddler earns you the ability to check or carry on a stroller and diaper bag for free. So I used a small umbrella stroller and our big diaper bag (filled mostly with diapers and wipes). And you can also carry on a camera or laptop, so I carried my camera. That was it: stroller, rolling suitcase, camera bag, diaper bag. I had my sister to help me with rolling the luggage around the airport (thanks, Sashi!), but honestly, I could have made it myself (just to encourage those of you who need to travel light with a baby).
(Quick tips for traveling light with a baby: only bring one outfit per day. Wash in the sink or laundry if things get dirty too soon. Bring one sippy, empty, if you want to reduce your risk of getting stopped in security. You are allowed breast milk, formula, and/or juice for your baby, but if you don’t need it, it will be easier for you just to fill the sippy with water after you go through security. Bring an umbrella stroller if you’re pregnant and can’t carry your 32-pound toddler through the airport; borrow one if you have to. I did. Otherwise, bring a durable sling and leave the stroller home. I would have worn him in the Ergo Baby Carrier if I could have.)
We arrived on time and had a wonderful five days in Boston. Sophia is cute as a bug, and I was able to hold her a lot. It was really good for Asher to be around a newborn for a while, as we were all afraid of how he’d do. He gets jealous if Jason or I even dare to hold one of his sisters instead of him; how will he handle a little baby brother or sister in January? Will he hate Sophia and cry every time I hold her, I wondered? But he didn’t hate her. The first time I held her, he asked me to “huggy” him about 12 times (no exaggeration there), so I held them both for a while. But after that first time, he was cool with her, and he asked to hold her himself. (“Hold it?” “See it?” “Kiss it?” His pronouns aren’t all straight yet.) It was just adorable watching him hold her; I would place her in his arms, keeping my hands on her the whole time, and he would wrap his arms around her and look at me proudly. He kissed her, squeezed her, and pointed our her little features. (“Itto feet. Teeny. Itto hands! Teeny.” Itto = Little) He loved her “itto feet” especially and noticed their size all by himself the first time he held her. When she was in the pack & play, he would walk over, peer his head over the top, and ask, “See it?” He really came to like Sophia, and yes, I have pictures of him holding her. Or at least my sister does, as I was always helping him. But I assure you, there will be photo evidence.
Okay, Asher did the cutest thing while we were gone: he found a way to keep his sisters by him while he played. He missed them terribly, and would ask about them throughout the day. (“Maya? Eye-yee?”) His face lit up when we held the phone up to his ear and they were on the other end. But the cute thing? He discovered Sonya’s glass photo coasters. There were two sets of four. He found out that one set contained two coasters of interest: one with Maya’s picture on it, and one with Ellery’s picture on it (she was only nine months old in the picture, but he recognized her right away). He immediately took those two coasters out and set them next to him. He wouldn’t let me put those two away. From then on, he took the girls out several times a day and set them next to him while he played. He would label them by name and look very pleased that he had found them again. It was so sweet and heartbreaking at the same time.
We mostly hung out with my sister and her husband and the baby, and my other sister who came with us, cooking, cleaning, holding the baby, sleeping; you know, usual stuff when you’re visiting a newborn. Asher played with his new trucks that they bought for him (so sweet), and he broke in a few baskets of Sophia’s shiny new toys and books. (He also discovered every button to every electronic appliance or gadget in the entire place, including his favorite, the weather display thing.) We took walks in Brookline just about every day; it only rained Saturday when Hurricane Danny swept through.
That day was the one Sash and I chose to ride the T into town and visit the Museum of Science; not our driest move ever. We walked a few blocks to the T in the pouring rain, rode into town with one transfer, walked a few blocks to the museum in the pouring rain, enjoyed ourselves, then did it all in reverse. Still in the pouring rain. There were even three flights of stairs to get off the subway station down to the street, on which I held Asher and Sasha held the umbrella stroller. Fun stuff! Asher fell asleep on the T on the way home, transfered to the stroller (in the rain still) and fell back asleep, but woke up when we got to the (dry) apartment. Ah, well. It was an adventure. I only wish I had a picture of him sleeping on the T!
On Sunday Morning, I met three moms who I’ve known for nearly three years but have never met in person! We were all in the same DDC (due date club), due November 2007, so Asher got to play with three other toddlers his age. And by “play,” I mean completely ignore, so his mother had to chase him around the playground instead of chat with the other mamas. But it was fun, and we all managed to squish into a little corner of Panera afterward to have lunch. The other women were just as beautiful and friendly in real life as they are online, and I was glad to get the opportunity to meet them. And such cute babies!
We took a few hours Sunday afternoon/evening to walk around Boston Garden, see the bronze ducks (Asher sat on two of them eventually, after initially refusing to get out of the stroller), enjoy the mild weather and sunshine. Sonya tried out the two slings I brought with me for her to try, and settled on one to borrow for a while (the Maya Wrap Lightly Padded, for those of you who are interested; it’s a great, versatile sling). (Oh, and yes, I fit two slings into my carry on. I told you, I packed very well.)
I left my two daughters and husband behind in the excellent care of my mother-in-law, who stayed at my house the entire time I was gone. Isn’t that wonderful? This was one of those once-in-a-lifetime trips, and she made it possible. Those of you with several (or more) children know how difficult and expensive it is to get away; my airline ticket was a generous gift (thank you – you know who you are), and so was the good care provided for the family I left behind. I couldn’t have gone without either of those things, and I’m so grateful that it all happened. I had never left Ellery before, I had only left Maya once for 3 1/2 days when Ellery was hospitalized with RSV!
To fill the void while I was gone, I left the girls with one package each to open every day. The gifts were simple things, like treats and novelties, and each gift contained a note from me. They were so anticipated that up until the moment I left, the girls were just anxious for me to leave so they could start opening presents! (Right as I was saying goodbye, Maya admitted, “I’ve been so excited for this, but now that you’re leaving, I’m realizing that I’m actually very sad. Don’t go!”) Having Grandma visiting and a present to open each day allowed them to focus on things present rather than persons absent. Thanks to Tricia and The Artful Parent for the great idea. I’m planning a blog post with details on travel gifts for children left behind, hopefully this fall.
It was such a fun whirlwind trip. I got to know Asher better than I expected; I don’t usually spend every waking moment with him, and it was precious time, indeed. I loved visiting with my sisters, meeting my new niece, and walking about the city. But coming home was so sweet. I missed Jason and the girls terribly, and it is really good to be back.