We recently waved goodbye to our visitors for this autumn as Rob's parents headed back to the airport for the long trip to their home in California. Our move from the East Coast to Texas did cut the travel time in half, thank goodness, but their distance from us still means we don't get to see them as often as we'd like. It was a nice visit spent doing fun toddler activities and Halloween and dinners at home and whatnot. I had a smidge of anxiety about how Grace would react to them since she hasn't seem them in almost a year, but she was affable and friendly and open, which was lovely. I was glad to avoid anything like what I did as a toddler to one of my grandfathers. We lived far away from our extended family and I saw them just once or twice a year, much like Grace and her paternal grandparents; during one visit, I declared to my grandfather, "I don't love you!" Gracious, big-hearted man that he is, he responded that it didn't matter because he loved me and gave me a big hug. Family-- it's a good thing, isn't it?
Rob's parents gave Grace a tricycle during their visit and she's been putting it to good use. She has just about got the hang of pedaling, although it is not yet within her skill set to both steer and pedal at the same time. The tassels and old-fashioned bell seem to be the most appealing parts of the vehicle. A good bit of her tricycle time is spent sitting in one place ringing the bell. And the bike helmet-- oh, how it cracks me up... Grace's noggin is pretty large to start with compared to her skinny shoulders; when you stick a bike helmet on top of her, her proportions start to flirt with the ridiculous.
The last time we went out to visit Rob's parents was August of last year. It had been way too long since we made the journey west so it was really good to be there. Grace was exactly 18 months old then and I will admit that it was the roughest trip we have taken with her to date. We were flying all the way across North America from Connecticut to the Oakland airport, followed by a long car ride out to their home in Sonoma County, and we made the mistake of choosing a flight that would keep us traveling quite late instead of one that involved waking up at 4am in the morning to catch the flight. Here is your first piece of unsolicited advice for the day: when traveling with small children, especially over long distances, choose early flights instead of late flights. The difficult, nay, miserable, travel on the way there, combined with the 3-hour time difference between the coasts made Grace want to stay up all night and sleep all day. To top off the difficulties while we were actually there, we got stranded overnight in San Diego without any luggage on the way back. It remains a vivid trip in my memory for its trials, but on the other hand, it was lovely to spend time with Rob's parents (who we never see often enough), the weather and our physical surroundings were amazingly beautiful, and we enjoyed lots of good food and wine.
I will take this opportunity to give today's second piece of unsolicited advice: if you have a baby, travel as much as you can before they are, oh, six months old or so. They are so easy and amiable and portable then, especially if you are breastfeeding and not lugging around a lot of bottles. Then once your baby starts to eat solids and crawl and only sleep in her normal surroundings and whatnot, do everything you can to minimize travel and get your visitors to come to you for, oh, about two years. In pursuit of this ideal, we are planning to go to California sometime this coming spring with our new little 3- or 4-month-old and 3-year-old in tow. So do you hear that, Sonoma County? Start stocking up on artisanal goat cheeses and red wine for me now.