Monday, September 3, 2012

Guinevere's Travels: Michigan

One of Aaron’s best friends got married last weekend in Ann Arbor.  We used it as a good opportunity for our little family to fly across the country, attend a wedding, visit the University of Michigan, and meet Aaron’s big family.  Aaron’s dad was the middle of 9 children, so he has 8 aunts and uncles on that side and more cousins than I can count.  We had a great time introducing Guinevere to several of those family members (obviously, not everyone in the family was able to attend).  But I can tell you, traveling with a 2 month old is exhausting!  I ended up coming back from the trip with a small cold, and now am religiously washing my hands trying to make sure I don’t get little G sick too.  How ironic would it be if, after introducing her to multitudes of new people, I end up being the one to give her her first cold?

Air Travel With a 2 Month Old

The part of the trip that I was most nervous about was flying with an infant.  I didn’t want to be that family – you know, the one with the screaming baby in a small enclosed space, hurtling at high velocity, miles above the Earth.  Fortunately, we took a red eye on the way to Michigan and she slept the entire way.  I was given advice to feed her on the way up and down to help with any pressure on her ears, but I couldn’t even wake her up to feed her on take off.  I was able to wake her just enough to feed her on descent, though.  Honestly, traveling to Michigan was relatively easy.  The TSA people at LAX even let us skip the line at security and we got to go through with the pilots, which was good because we were running a little later than we had intended.  Oh, and when traveling with an infant, you don’t have to choose between being felt up or pelting your body with deep xrays.  We went through the regular metal detector and that was it.  Also, Delta (and possibly other airlines, but we flew Delta) does not charge for checking infant items, saving us $25 each way for the pack n play.  You just have to talk to the agents when you are checking in – the computers might try to charge you extra for infant items, but when talking to a human being, they just check it straight through.  Also, if you ever travel with an infant, be sure to talk to the airline people at the gate right away.  They will give you tags for checking the car seat/stroller at the gate, which is very important/helpful.  This way we were able to keep her in her stroller right up until we got on the plane and then they deliver the stroller back to you when you disembark the plane.

Guinevere's first plane trip.

Once we arrived at the Detroit airport, Guinevere needed changing badly.  There was a family bathroom, which I assume was big enough for all three of us to go in and change her, but it was occupied.  I went into the ladies room hoping that there would at least be one of those fold down changing pads.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was an entire changing station!  It had a changing pad, and disposable sanitary liners for the changing pad (though I still used the travel pad that I carry in my diaper bag on top of the disposable liner).  There was a sink right there next to the changing pad.  Guinevere loved looking at herself in the mirror at the changing station, so it made changing her after that long trip that much more enjoyable.

We weren’t quite as lucky on our flight home.  We still got the pack n play through for free, but had to stand in the regular security line at the Detroit airport.  There were several other babies on our flight, which was interesting.  There was even another 2 month old across the aisle from us.  Guinevere was still very well behaved; thank goodness!  She slept for a large portion of the flight.  When she woke, she was in a pretty good mood.  Every time she looked like she was about to fuss, we gave her the pacifier and she calmed right down.  Once we landed at LAX, I went into the ladies room to change Guinevere.  The LAX changing area was not nearly as nice as the Detroit changing station.  There was a separate room labeled “Nursery” which had a pull down changing pad and a sink.  But the oddest part of the room was that there was no trash can, so I had to carry the dirty diaper out of the room with me while holding my baby and find the general trash can for the bathroom. 

Aside from our first night in Michigan, Guinevere handled the time zone change relatively well.  The first night was really bad, though. She would NOT sleep!  It was like being back to the newborn phase.  She was awake and fussy and demanding to eat every 2 hours throughout the night.  But then 2 nights later, she slept through the entire night (10pm – 7am) for the first time ever!  She hasn’t done it again since, but it’s nice to know she has the capability to do so.  I was prepared for an encore of the sleepless night experience when we returned home, but she decided to be good for us and returned to her normal sleep pattern of waking once around 3 am for a feed and then going back to sleep.

The Wedding

The main impetus for this trip was our friend Nicole’s wedding.  Aaron and Nicole have been close friends since college at the University of Michigan.  Nicole was a groomslady in our wedding, and she asked Aaron to be an usher in hers.  The wedding was beautiful!  The ceremony was in the Michigan Theatre, which shows movies and has live events on stage.  It was a fun, lighthearted ceremony, complete with images of the bride and groom superimposed on classic movie posters.  Guinevere was well behaved during the ceremony as well.  She slept through most of it and got several adoring stares from the wedding guests.

We had a couple hours between the ceremony and reception.  Aaron had to stick around to take pictures, but Guinevere and I headed back to the hotel room and both of us took a nap.  I’m so glad there was that time in between!  I’ve noticed that the days I don’t get a nap, I end up going to bed around 9:30 pm because I am so exhausted.

Guinevere was really good during the reception as well.  She slept during most of dinner.  Once the band started playing, she woke up and seemed to enjoy the music.  Aaron’s friend, Kelly, was there and she held Ginny for us so that Aaron and I could have at least one dance together.  I don’t think I’ve ever danced so little at a wedding before.  I can’t wait until Guinevere is old enough for her to be my partner on the dance floor!  I just love watching little kids dancing and having fun at weddings!  Of course the bride wanted to hold Guinevere  - and got loads of comments such as, “well that was fast!” (unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of that.  I think Aaron got a pic on his phone)
The ceremony

Kelly and Guinevere
The bride and me
Our little family
Meeting the family

After the wedding festivities were over, Aaron and I headed back to Aaron’s aunt and uncle’s house.  They live close to Ann Arbor and generously hosted a family get together so that the Midwest contingent of the family could meet the newest member.  We had so much fun!  Aaron’s mom was even able to be there.  Unfortunately, I was having so much fun that I forgot to take pictures for myself.  But I know one of Aaron’s Aunts took loads of pictures (Aunt Dianne, if you are reading this, I would love to get copies of those pics).

Aaron and I also drove up to Chesaning, the small town where Aaron’s parents grew up.  Both of Aaron’s parents grew up on farms, but Aaron’s grandparents sold their farms long ago.  Aaron drove us past the farmhouse that Aaron’s grandfather built and where Aaron’s mom grew up.  We even stopped and Aaron knocked on the door to see if the current owners would be willing to let us walk around, but no one was home.  We stayed with Aaron’s grandmother and walked around a little.  This is one of those towns that’s so small it only has one stoplight.  I loved getting to spend more time with Aaron’s grandmother and watching her hold her great-granddaughter.  

Meeting her great-grandmother

Touring UofM

Aaron got his BFA from the University of Michigan and loves to reminisce about how fantastic an experience he had.  He ended up dragging us all over campus showing us portions of his glory days, and pointing out how much has changed in the past 10 years.  As exhausting as it was (Guinevere got to nap in the stroller much of the time, but I had to walk . . . when will they create a stroller for adults that we can nap in? J) , we had a great time.  Aaron ended up finding several professors/admin people that remembered him.  We got to go backstage at the Power Center and were able to take a look at the stage.  We also went into two additional smaller theaters later on (one thrust and one black box).  I kept telling Guinevere that theaters are like a second home to both her mom and dad.
Guinevere's first time in a theatre

Aaron also insisted on taking a picture of Guinevere on top of the big M located in the middle of the diag.  At first he wanted to lay her down directly on top of it – which I very quickly vetoed.  I know she’s had her shots and all, but laying my 2 month old directly on the ground where tons of people walk every day . . . no.  I am not comfortable with that.  So we put a burp cloth underneath her – unfortunately, she’s just a little too long for it, so then I grabbed a diaper out of the diaper bag and put it under her feet.  But if you have any experience with babies, you know their feet never stay still for long.  Oh well, at least she’s not putting her feet in her mouth . . . yet.
Future student?

Overall we had a great time.  I’m really glad that we got to see all the people and places we did.  Not that Guinevere will remember this trip, but hopefully a little of it will stick in her subconscious.

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