Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thanksgiving...Well, Not Really

This year (technically, last year) we traveled down to the heart of central Texas to visit my parents for Thanksgiving.  Now I know I've said it before, but it really is true and this post will prove it...I am HORRIBLE at taking pictures.  I don't know why I'm so bad, but I am.  Often times, I lug this big ol' camera around and never even take it out to snap a single shot.  I will even say to myself, "You should really take some pictures," but I don't.  So, here is my sad attempt at posting about our Thanksgiving trip.  Seeing how there are no pictures from the actual stay, these iPhone pics of the car ride down will have to do.  Sorry about the quality.

 I was super pumped about this visit because we hadn't taken Layla and Jenna to my parents' house since their 100th Day Celebration AND my sister's family was going to make the trip too!  I was, however, super nervous about how the girls would do in the car.  It's a 5 hour drive from Norman to their house and that's without traffic.  We were leaving the day before Thanksgiving, so it was pretty much a given that the roads would be crowded.  Layla and Jenna are certainly not accustomed to long car rides.  Their weekly commutes consist of quick, 10-15 minute jaunts across town and that is often pushing it.  Weeks leading up to the trip I surveyed several of my friends to get their best tips for traveling with toddlers.  Then, I loaded all the tricks up my sleeve and simply hoped for the best.     

Trick #1:  Turn the car seats forward.  The rule used to be that once a child was 20 lbs and one year old, they no longer had to sit rear-facing.  Just days after the girls' first birthday, the new recommendation came out suggesting that children should stay rear-facing until 2 years old.  Well, you know me...I'm a rule follower, so backwards it was for my kiddos.  At the time of this trip, the girls were almost 21 months old and after a lot of grappling with myself, I determined I would flip them forward.  As much as it killed me to go against the recommendation, I couldn't even imagine traveling 5+ hours without being able to see them.  Layla and Jenna thought it was a hoot facing forward.  They were thrilled to see us, but even more so, thought it was hysterical that Toby was in the car.      

"Um, are you sure you put us in the right way?"

Trick #2: Hit the road right before nap time.  Layla and Jenna usually take a nap at 1pm.  We decided to leave right after lunch so that their bellies would be full, they could enjoy the novelty of facing forward for a bit, and then drift off to a nice, deep slumber.  If all went to plan, we would make it to Dallas before they woke up.  Does anything ever go according to plan?  Jenna fell asleep about 30 minutes into the trip and Layla took about an hour.  Neither one of them slept for very long...maybe 45 minutes to an hour.  Not too bad, but we certainly didn't make it to Dallas.
My sweet little angels.  

Trick #3: Watch movies.  My car has DVD players embedded in the back of the driver and passenger headrests.  Obviously, with the girls rear-facing, they had never watched a movie in the car.  We watch one movie almost everyday at home.  They have their favorites.  There is a certain Elmo video, Baby Einstein's Old Mac Donald, and a series of Preschool Prep videos about shapes, colors, and numbers.  Each video runs about 30 minutes and you better believe we brought all 5 of them.  Before this trip, I didn't understand what people meant when they said DVD players in the car were the greatest thing since sliced bread.  I thought there was no way my girls would watch more than one video at best.  I mean, we only watch one a day at home and they have the freedom to get up and play during the show.  I figured they would watch half a movie and then get antsy.  Boy, was I wrong.  Dead wrong.  They thought it was the coolest. thing. ever.  They laughed, they clapped, they sang along, and their eyes stayed glued to the screen movie after movie after movie.  It was incredible.

        "Holy cow!  How is this happening?!?!?  How is our movie playing in the car?!?!?"

Trick #4: Stretch your legs.  Amazingly enough, we only stopped once during the entire trip.  We took about a 30 minute break to run around in the grass, change diapers, and to let Toby take care of business.  It was a beautiful November day and I remember thinking how lucky we were to be able to spend this time outside.  Had it been cold, we would have probably stopped at a Chick-fil-a, with a million other people, to let the girls run off some energy in the play area, but then Toby would've had to sit in the car.  No fun for him!  The girls had so much fun "walking" Toby.  We take lots of walks back home with Toby, but this may be the first time they actually got to hold the leash. 

Layla: "Look at me...I'm a good dog walker!"

Jenna: "I'm not so bad myself!"

Trick #5: Give them iPhones.  Ok, I came up with this one on my own.  A month prior to this trip, Trey and I both got new iPhones meaning that we now have two old iPhones laying around the house.  The girls are always wanting to play with our phones (which we don't oblige), so I figured when we got our new phones, they could have our old ones.  Trey figured differently.  He was quite adamant that toddlers do NOT need know, they should play with things like Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs.  I'm the first to admit, I don't always make the best decisions when it comes to things the girls should or should not have, so I will also admit that he is right on this one...EXCEPT for special occasions.  Traveling 5+ hours in a car is a special occasion, doggone it!

Tell me this isn't the exact scene we are going to see everyday when they are teenagers!

We never had to enlist Trick #6, which was giving them each a sucker.  I'm sure they would've loved it and I'll keep that trick up my sleeve for a rainy day.  The car ride took about 6 hours!  We repeatedly used trick #3 and #5 and intermingled a variety of snacks throughout.  The girls did AWESOME and, although there are no pictures to prove it, the visit with my parents and sister's family was amazing.  Although it is much easier on us to have family travel to Norman where we live, I think it is so good for the girls to get out of their environment and see the "world".  We must do it again soon!       

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