Tuesday, May 31, 2011

When Toddlers Take Trips

Biannually my husband and I have a temporary memory lapse and decide to take the girls on a mini-vacation.  This often happens over a long weekend and since we live in the Bay Area, we are lucky enough to have a plethora of get-a-way options that are just around a two-hour drive from our home. 

We will often go away for just one night.  This can be an ideal set-up when traveling with two small children.  It is enough time to have a little adventure, yet not long enough to provide tremendous amounts of sleep deprivation.  If the youngest has trouble sleeping, we can all catch up the next night, in our own beds. 

Last weekend we decided to head north, to Healdsburg.

On Sunday morning we packed.  Since Elana is such a big girl (she is four, after all) she was allowed (reluctantly) to pack for herself.  In her pink butterfly backpack she crammed: one dress, one pair of pants, one nightgown, three Barbie dolls, four colorful rocks, two plastic necklaces, three heart-shaped bracelets, and her sister's Leapfrog Leaptop.  After a quick inspection, I made her add a pair of underwear and her toothbrush and toothpaste.  Maisy, the two-year-old, insisted on helping me pack her clothes, which ended up being a bit gratuitous, as she demanded to wear her too-small, fancy pink party dress the entire trip.

After carefully using our Tetris skills to maneuver two backpacks, one bag of clothing, one sack of a snacks, a pak-n-play, two baby hiking backpack carriers, and one umbrella stroller to fit securely in the trunk of the car, we buckled up the two kids and were on our way. 

Ten minutes later the girls were begging for snacks.  Fifteen minutes after that they were asking "Are we there, yet?"  They then proceeded to spend the rest of the hour and 45 minute trip arguing over toys that they never wanted to play with before they saw their sister enjoying them.  I finally understood how my step-father felt when he would threaten, "If you guys don't stop fighting, I am turning this car around."  I was two-seconds from uttering this myself, before I realized that I would only be bluffing.

We arrived in Healdsburg about an hour before lunch time.  We walked around the small historic downtown, which took a grand total of twelve minutes, then found ourselves browsing the local toy store.  Each girl was allowed to pick one small toy.  Elana settled on a small fairy and horse figurine set, and Maisy chose a black and white cat that came in a cloth purse.  She named the cat "Dicky" after a babysitter's pet.  For the rest of the trip we received nasty stares from passersby who heard Maisy call her stuffed cat by name.

After a quick run around at a nearby park, we had lunch.  The girls shared an order of blueberry pancakes that neither would eat because the blueberries were "funny".  We then headed to our hotel for nap time.

While Ted checked in and unloaded the car, I set up the portable crib in the large(ish) closet and drew the blackout curtains.  We read stories to the girls in one of the two queen-sized beds, then informed the girls that it was time for naps.  After singing "Flower Glean and Glow", I placed Maisy in her crib and closed the sliding closet door.  This was met by immediate and aggressive demands to sleep in a "big-girl bed, like Lana".  So, Ted cuddled with Maisy in one bed while I tried to lull Elana to sleep in the other.  After thirty seconds it was apparent that nobody was going to sleep.  After twenty minutes we fully gave-in and turned on cartoons.

We spent the rest of the afternoon swimming in the hotel hot tub (the heating element for the pool was broken) and attempting to go on a hike with our uncle and cousin.  However,  without a nap, Maisy refused to go in the carrier and Ted drove Maisy around in the car for an hour-and-a-half while the rest of us hiked.

On the bright side, we spent a lovely evening at the uncle's house, having a relaxing dinner while the girls explored our cousin's old toys.  In addition, both girls were so thouroughly exhausted that neither protested too much at bedtime.  Maisy even agreed to sleep in her closet. 

At exactly 6:01 in the morning, Maisy crowed her wake-up call.  Repeated attempts to snuggle her back-to-sleep were inept as she lay between Ted and me poking our noses and asking, "Mommy sleep with Daddy?"

At 6:20, Elana woke and both girls were ready to play.  Since I do not function before 7 AM, we turned on the TV.  Ted got bagels, cheerios, and milk from the free breakfast buffet and the girls veged with their eyes glued to Calliou.  The media feast continued with Raggs, Sid the Science Kid, Curious George, and The Cat in the Hat knows a lot About That as the adults lounged in our pajamas reading magazines.  Two and a half hours of cartoons??!  Our children had never known such a thing was possible.  The girls spent the rest of our morning playing with their animals in Maisy's closet.  This was the best vacation ever!

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