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Road Trip!

Last weekend Maddie was officially inaugurated into that great American tradition, the Road Trip.
virginia_trip_007.jpgWe took a spin down to visit some family and friends, christening Maddie’s new convertible car seat.  I confess, I was a bit apprehensive at the thought of putting her through a five-and-a-half hour car trip, but she handled it like a pro. 
Though the five-plus hour car trip did turn into a seven-hour car trip.

Let me go off-topic for a second and say that her new car seat is a dream; it’s incredibly easy to get her in and out of, and you can adjust the straps with the touch of a button.  I got it figuring Consumer Reports and all my girlfriends can’t be wrong, and they aren’t.  It’s a thing of beauty.
We also succumbed to New Parent Too Much Gear-itis, buying a back seat mirror in the aquarium “theme” of her swing and bouncy seat (as if she’s going to look up at the mirror and say, “Ah!  A comforting familiar blue fish!”) for her viewing pleasure.  And truth be told, the mirror was a big hit.  Attached to the back window, the mirror gave the driver a view of Maddie in the rear-view mirror, and gave Maddie a view of, well, Maddie.  She became entranced with the vision facing her, watching herself eat (Open mouth! Close mouth!  Open mouth!  Close mouth!), play, and even cry.
Yep, baby girl has learned how to use the mirror to her advantage; when the car seat got too frustrating and she started crying, she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror and continued to cry, smiling at herself through her screams.  Moments later she would start and stop her cries, studiously peering at her reflection, as if practicing which one looked the most pathetic.  Cheeky monkey. 
She also learned to use the mirror to see the driver up front; she was able to catch Brian’s eye and wave at him, cackling with laughter when he waved back in the reflection.  In general, she had a good time in the car and was pretty amiable, dozing off for a nap a couple of times each drive and for the most part having a great time singing along with her favorite tunes, playing games with whoever was sitting next to her, and reading Fuzzy Fuzzy Fuzzy! Over and over and over.
There were a few meltdowns, of course:  she couldn’t always understand why Mommy was sitting right next to her but wouldn’t pick her up, and she’s at the age when sitting still for too long feels like cruel and unusual punishment.  But we had a few tricks up our sleeve and here’s what worked for us–
First off, we made the drive work around Maddie’s schedule.  We let her wake up normally rather than get her up early to hit the road, and stopped for her regular nursing times even if it meant only driving for 1 ½ hours before stopping.  We’d get back in the car and feed her solids while driving to not lose too much time as a compromise; that way she was able to try to keep to her regular nap schedule as well.
Second, I had a variety of small toys in the back seat, scattered strategically out of sight.  When she got fussy or bored, I could bring out a “new” toy for her, then hide it again for the next “discovery” time.
Third, I brought her daily nap blanket into the car with her, so when nap time came around and she got fussy, I could tuck the familiar snuggliness around her and she was out.  It made the strange surroundings a little more familiar.
And finally, I had a small cooler with a few teething rings on ice packs.  This was a big life-saver on several occasions.
virginia_trip_051.jpgWhatever the tricks, I know Maddie had a pretty good time, and racked a few more “firsts” under her belt.  She hit her first fast food joint, for one, though I promise she had none of my chocolate shake –





helping_dad.jpgShe learned how to drive the car with Daddy, and by the end of the trip could honk the horn and gesture disgustedly at (parked) cars –





virginia_trip_045.jpgAnd discovered “bed head” from napping in her big-girl car seat –
All in all, a great car trip, and a great time with baby girl.
And best of all, not one chorus of “Are we there yet?”


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