Thursday, October 09, 2008

how does she travel?

considering gracie has vacationed in greece, taken the train all over northern europe, flown across the atlantic ocean, and roadtripped halfway across the united states, we tend to get that question a lot.

and our answer? always "piece of cake!"

when we were pregnant, adam and i talked often about how much we still wanted to travel after our little spruitje arrived. we knew that travelling would be different somehow, that maybe we couldn't do it all and see it all in one trip, or that it would take us longer to see the places we wanted to see, but we still wanted to be able to get out into the big, wide world to experience it. we didn't want a baby to hold us back!

so i think because gracie has been travelling ever since she was a newborn (her first roadtrip was to zutphen, when she was about a month old), it's kind of the only thing she knows. we never really got into the routine of naptime at a specific time in a specific place (though we do make sure she has two good naps a day), so because she didn't always have to sleep in her crib at say 10:30 every day, she learned to be adaptable. want to see the acropolis, but she's a little sleepy? throw her in the sling and go! it's time for her to eat but you're still at the beach? good thing she's still breastfeeding! poopy diaper? no problem, we'll just stop in at this cute pub for a drink and change her in there!

of course, this is all made much easier by the fact that until recently, she's been pretty immobile. she's only been crawling for a few weeks, so we've been able to keep her confined and stationary for long periods of time fairly easily. this is i'm sure going to change as she learns to walk and wants to do everything herself. then i suppose we'll take fewer trips, or stay closer to home for those few years, or maybe we might be lucky enough to have oma and opa babysit for a long weekend so we can have some grown-up time.

anyway, she did just fine in her car seat all summer long. one of us would sit back there with her during our longer trips, so she'd always have someone to play with. we'd stop at rest stops along the way (nebraska has surprisingly lovely rest areas, iowa has nice ones but there are fewer of them, and minnesota doesn't seem to have any at all swear to god). occasionally we'd have to pull over in some ghost town to change a diaper, but mostly we were lucky and could make it several hundred miles before we'd have to stop. our stops took longer, of course -- we'd really make them worthwhile, with a picnic and lots of play time for gracie to kick and squirm.

she OF COURSE loves the trains, and likes to look out the windows and make friends with the other passengers (who can't NOT play with her!). fortunately for her, we don't have a car out here, so we're constantly on the trains and buses to our various destinations. she's getting to be such a big girl now that she sometimes will need a seat all for herself, and doesn't want to sit on our laps all the time. watch this video to see for yourself just how happy she is looking out the window! (and keep in mind that this video was taken on the train ride back from our huge international flight this summer -- we had been travelling already for about 20 hours i think, and she's still just as happy as can be!) and here's another clip of her on the train home from amsterdam last weekend, making goofy sounds and playing. she's so much fun!

and as for the flight across the pond this summer, she did AMAZING. she sat on our laps the whole way over there (but she was only 4 1/2 months old so it wasn't hard). and honest to goodness she was not even jet lagged the next day -- she had a little less energy than usual, but her day was pretty much right on schedule! same story on the way back here, actually. she would wake up and want to play in the night, but we'd lay her in bed with us and within an hour or so she'd fall right back to sleep. and on the way home from colorado this summer, we upgraded our seats to sit behind the bulkhead (the best $180 we ever spent!) and gracie got her very own bassinette, which just BARELY fit her. another week and she would have been too big. but she was such a big, brave girl -- she slept peacefully for probably 6 hours out of a 9 hour flight, and then took a little nap on a couch in a pub in london while we waited for our next flight to amsterdam.

getting around town is obviously a lot easier than hopping across europe on a train, or flying over an ocean at 35,000 feet. usually when we have an errand to run here in hengelo, we take the stroller. but sometimes, just for fun (and when i have a lot of groceries to get), we take my bike. she's got a little seat in front, with a windshield to keep the cold dutch wind from blowing in her little face, and she just loves it! she loves to play with my bike bell, and try to catch the streamers on my handlebars when i ride really fast. i finally got her a helmet after searching three different stores -- i have yet to see an adult out here wear a helmet, and come to think of it, i don't think i've ever seen a child wear one either. and certainly not a baby (even though i think they probably need one the most). fortunately gracie has inherited the large dryden cranium that i share with my dad, so she's now the proud owner of an ages-2-years-and-up helmet that is just slightly too big for her but which i'm sure will fit her perfectly in a couple of months. it's better than nothing, i suppose!

it's so much fun to have a little buddy who we can take everywhere with us! yay, gracie, for being so adaptable and easygoing! we have such a good time with you!

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