Monday, August 10, 2015
Since moving back, we've been surrounded by family. It's a little surreal, actually, and sometimes it makes us want to put another ocean in between us again (just kidding). Both of our families live within 30 minutes of us and Oliver gets to see his grandparents as often as they like. So of course this was the summer for a family reunion in Philadelphia, because have do we see family enough? Apparently not. Maybe next summer there will be a reunion with Sam's family, but this time it was for my mother's mother's side of the family. Going back several generations, in fact, with all sorts of strange offshoots and stranger relatives. We stayed right in the center of the city, in order to be close to my grandmother's cousin who was hosting (I think I got the relationship right), and drove five hours each way with a 10 month old. Crazy! But Oliver was actually great on the car rides. The only miserable part was trying to get him to sleep in the hotel room, but enough time has passed that I can now declare it a successful trip. (But I was almost in tears one morning, hiding in a pitch dark hotel room as he sobbed for an hour and a half before napping for a measly thirty minutes. Why, why, why, Oliver, why?)
After that, I realized why people hate traveling with babies, and decided to throw his schedule out the window. Which is a pretty big deal for me, because right now I might be just a tiny bit obsessed with his schedule. Instead, I put him in his stroller, grabbed everything we needed for the day, lathered him in plenty of sunscreen (it was hot) and we spent the day exploring the city. He did eventually take a second nap, in his stroller, so we're calling schedule-ignoring a success. Oliver was also charming and happy all day, which was a relief, because a miserable baby means a miserable trip.
My grandmother's cousin lives in a gorgeous house in downtown Philadelphia. It had this rooftop garden that was unreal. There were gorgeous views, plants everywhere, and it made city living look incredibly appealing. We spent the day visiting Reading Terminal Market and Independence Hall and viewing historical sites like the Liberty Bell and Constitutional Hall. Saturday morning I woke up early with Oliver and went on a long walk around Rittenhouse Square; he loved seeing all the people out walking their dogs and enjoying the slightly cooler morning weather, and sat as upright as he could, staring out at the city.
We took a quick, free tour of the historical places on Sunday afternoon, and Oliver (who hadn't had a morning nap) was remarkably good. We took turns letting him walk around and giving him random things (like our map) to play with, and at one point I found a quiet corner to nurse him in.
Our last morning there we had a little swim in the hotel pool, which Oliver took a few minutes to warm up to. Once I started letting him float (holding him up just a little) he started to love it, and was giggling a lot. The drive home was great, with Oliver sleeping for almost 3 hours. When he woke up, we were somewhere in Connecticut, so we stopped at a diner for lunch and to give Oliver a short break from his car seat. So life lessons from this trip? It's OK to let go of his schedule from time to time, and all the uncertainties of traveling with a baby are usually worth it.