Friday, January 22, 2016

St. Petersburg, Florida: Our First Family Vacation

We went on our first family vacation as a family of three over New Year's weekend.  Before I tell you what we did on our trip I thought I'd share a few thoughts about traveling with a baby after doing so much traveling without a baby over the last 2 years.

Traveling with a Baby:
Traveling with a baby is harder than traveling without one. Duh.  But it isn't impossible and it really wasn't bad at all (at least at this non-mobile, sleeps through the night, pretty content stage).  I would say there is a learning curve just like there would be if you hadn't traveled much at all and then started traveling a lot (like us the last two years).  For our next trip we will know more of what we need and don't need so it should be better.  I'm sure traveling with a mobile baby is a lot different than a perfectly content immobile one.  I just hope we get really good at traveling while she is easy so when she is harder we still keep going on trips.

Divide and Conquer
We decided to divide and conquer at the airport (which now that we've done it I would highly recommend it).  When we flew out I dropped Linnea, Jake and the bag we were checking off at the terminal and then I parked the car in economy parking.  By the time I was back from parking the car and taking the shuttle Jake had us checked in and was ready for me.  He wore Linnea in the Ergo carrier which was perfect.  We made the mistake of taking both our backpacks on the flight which was hard to manage since one of us was also wearing Linnea in the carrier.  On the way home we put on of our backpacks in the suitcase so we only had to deal with one back pack and one carrier on the plane.

When we flew out of Tampa I dropped Jake and Linnea off so they could check in and check our bag.  Then I went to the cell phone waiting lot to drop off the car seat and stroller and then dropped the rental car off.

Once we landed in Kansas City I took the shuttle bus to pick up the car so it could warm up before we put Linnea in it and Jake and Linnea waited for our checked bag to show up on the baggage claim belt.

It worked really well to divide and conquer then we weren't both waiting through something that we could do on our own.  It definitely sped things up which was nice.

Baby Equipment
On this trip we rented a car seat and stroller (that were compatible) from a company, Visiting Baby, in Tampa.  I didn't want to fly with our car seat because I heard that they get tossed around quite a bit.  We looked into renting one from the rental car company but it was going to be $13 a day and it made more sense if we also wanted to rent a stroller to get both through Visiting Baby.  We could have taken our stroller but again I didn't want it to get damaged and we didn't want to take it on the beach.  I had no idea there were baby equipment rental places but there are actually a few in Tampa.  It makes sense if people want to go there on vacation but they don't want to bring everything from home.  (You can even rent a glider, high chair, a tub of beach toys; the list really goes on and on.  They will deliver it all to where you are staying or meet you at the airport if you are renting a car seat.)

Are we glad we had a stroller? Yep.   Would we rent baby equipment again? Nope :).  It wasn't all a loss.  We learned that we like having our own stuff so we can customize it and know what we need to make things as easy as possible.  The car seat we rented was really hard to tighten and loosen which was super annoying.  The stroller was great for what we needed but I think we'd rather have our own so we are used to folding it up and knowing what we need to make Linnea comfortable (i.e. out of the sun).  We are planning on taking and checking our car seat next time we fly and getting a travel stroller so we don't have to rent either.  We both want a travel stroller with one handle so we can push with one hand versus an umbrella stroller.  It also needs to recline so she can take her naps in it while we are out and about.

We used an extra pacifier clip to clip a blanket onto the stroller to block the sun (and distractions) from her when she was sleeping.  It worked well and I actually ordered pacifier clips (without the string) off of Amazon to take on our next trip.  A toy for that stroller is a must and having it hooked on is also key.  We had a toy for her car seat and just made that work.

We flew on Southwest which doesn't have assigned seats but we were able to board with the other families who had small children which was great.  We made sure to wipe down the airplane tray and armrests.

The main thing I learned from this trip is to not get too stressed out about her nap schedule.  When she is tired she will sleep.  I fed her at the same times every day and then we just let her do her thing with naps.  Most of the time she took naps in the stroller when we were out doing things and it worked just fine.  Her naps weren't at the same times every day or as long as they should be but she took them when she needed them and more importantly we weren't tied to the hotel.  We did put her to bed at her normal time every night and then just moved her to the hotel if we were out and about.

Our Trip:
We flew direct from Kansas City to Tampa on New Year's Eve.  Our flight was good.  Linnea cried a little because she missed her morning nap taking in all the sights at the airport but she eventually fell asleep on the flight.  Since she rocks at being laid down awake and she puts herself to sleep for naps and bedtime when we need her to fall asleep in our arms (like on the plane) she gets confused and just wants us to leave her alone.  Maybe she is too sleep trained? Oops!

When we landed in Tampa we picked up our rental car and then I went to the cell phone lot to pick up our stroller and car seat.  I then drove back to the airport to pick up Jake and Linnea and we drove to Chelsea's parents' house.  It was HUMID.  We haven't been in humidity like that for a while.  I was concerned about the clothing we packed but it ended up being just fine.
As soon as we got to Chelsea's parents' house we walked to a place for lunch.  It was so nice being able to walk to a restaurant again :).

We hung out at Chelsea's parents' house for NYE.  We watched some football, had some snacks, played Heads Up which was so much fun and then walked to the water at midnight to watch the fireworks.  Linnea went to sleep at 8:30 so she missed out on the fun but she slept through the fireworks which was great.

The next day the weather was really nice.  It was 75-80 degrees with a few clouds, so we went to St. Pete Beach.
We borrowed this sweet pop up tent from a friend (thanks Christina) and Linnea took a nap shortly after we got to the beach.  

After she woke up I put her in her swimsuit which wasn't necessary because we didn't put her in the water but she looked cute.
If she wasn't asleep (which thankfully she took 2 naps) then she was probably fussing, crying, or feeling like she looks in the picture on the right. Not happy.  We don't know if it was the heat or how bright it was but she was cranky.
We were able to get at least one happy picture of her!
Mike Tyson!

We stayed at a hotel in downtown St. Petersburg on Friday and Saturday night.  Linnea went down both nights at Chelsea's parents' house and then we just transferred her to the hotel.  She did great through the transfers.

I already wrote about this for Linnea's 6 Month blog post but since it took place when we were in Florida I'll share it again.

I'm going to brag about one night in particular.  The night of Johan and Chelsea's baby shower we put Linnea down at 8:30 pm while we were playing a very loud game in the next room and she actually fell asleep through the noise. I was impressed!  She woke up about an hour later which isn't normal. We figured out I had forgotten to make sure her nose was cleared out so she couldn't breathe and suck on her pacifier at the same time.  Oops!  She woke up and we tried sucking out her nose and then when we went to lay her back down she spit up all over.  At that point I knew it might take a little while to get her to fall back to sleep and it was already 9:30 pm.  I didn't want to put Linnea back to sleep only to wake her up 15-30 minutes later to transfer her to the hotel.  So we decided to call it a night and head to the hotel.  We made the mistake of bringing her out into the living room so then everyone wanted to tell her goodbye which just woke her up even more.  She stayed awake all the way to the hotel.  Once we got to the hotel we weren't sure if she would think it was bedtime or party time after she just took an hour long "nap."  We put Linnea in the pack n play and she cried for 3 minutes and right when we would have given her her pacifier she started calming down and two minutes later she was asleep.  It took her 5 minutes to fall asleep and then she was out until the next morning.  Way to go Linnea!

On Saturday morning we walked to find breakfast and then a farmer's market.  We met Chelsea, Johan and some of Chelsea's friends.  It was so nice being able to walk around a city again ;).

I didn't get a picture of the market but we had fun walking around.
  This was a cool waterfall.
 Walking by the water, like the good ol' days.

 So the guy in the red shorts was fishing and I guess the pelican thought he should get some of the fish.  We walked by right when the guy threw him one and let's just say it was a little big and might have gotten stuck in his throat.  We didn't stick around to see how it ended but hopefully it worked out okay.

Saturday afternoon we went to Chelsea and Johan's baby shower!  It was so much fun!

 Linnea can't wait to meet Baby Trimberg!

 Linnea made lots of friends at the party!
She loved playing on the big hotel bed!
On Sunday we went to the Dali Museum.  While we were waiting in line for tickets we heard the family behind us speaking Swedish.  What are the chances?

The Dali Museum was neat.  They had an M.C. Escher exhibit that was really neat.
Here are some examples of his work (courtesy of Google).
Our last two nights we stayed at Postcard Inn in St. Pete Beach, Florida.  We had dinner on Sunday night with just the three of us and were able to walk there from our hotel.  I wanted to put Linnea in a high chair.  She is pretty petite which made Jake nervous having her sit in the highchair because he thought she could slide out.  I think this is the first thing where he was worried and I wasn't.  I mean, look at her.  She has got it under control :).

Linnea might give me her biggest smiles but she saves the best giggles for her daddy!
Like mother, like daughter . . .
 The hotel had a pack n play we could use and we put it between our room and the bathroom so she couldn't see us when she had her "parties" in the middle of the night.  It worked great!

On our last full day in Florida we went to the beach for about an hour but it was really windy and kind of cool so we grabbed some lunch and then played mini golf.  Johan and Chelsea are pretty competitive and we've played several games with them.  We've played mini golf twice, played carnival games at an amusement park in Stockholm (when I was 3 days away from my due date with Linnea) and played several other games.  They are such a fun couple to hang out with!  They treated us to mini golf.  Thanks guys!
They had real alligators that you could feed but it was pretty cold so they chose to sunbathe instead of getting in the water to eat.
The course was really neat.  They wouldn't let us push a stroller around and Linnea was supposed to nap so we carried her car seat from hole to hole which wasn't ideal but she fell asleep so it worked.
Trying to soak up some sun! Johan won by one stroke. I got second place and then Chelsea in third and Jake in last which meant Team Trimberg beat Team Janzen.

We tried going back to the beach after mini golf but it was still pretty cold.  Jake thought Linnea should swim a bit since we were there.  She wasn't a fan.  Hopefully one of these days she will be :).

Warming her up.
On our last night we ate at a Cuban restaurant in downtown St. Petersburg that was really good.  On our way back to the hotel we almost got on a 7 mile toll bridge going the wrong way but thankfully we figured it out before it was too late.  The Tampa area had a lot of toll bridges that you can only use with the correct tag which we didn't have.

We flew back to Kansas City the next day.  We had such a great time in Florida.  It was our first family vacation, we got to see some great friends and celebrate them becoming a family of three! I'd say it was a success! Thanks for hanging out with us Johan and Chelsea!  Can't wait to meet your baby boy!

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