Saturday, April 2, 2011

Our First Family Vacation

Once we landed in Tucson, we thought we had the struggles behind us. Indeed, Jacob and I were very much looking forward to spending time with each other and Zoey as a family. Zoey, however, had a rough couple of days. Of course, she couldn't resist big grins for Grandpa whenever the opportunity arose.

She was pretty crabby after crying through most of the 20-minute (I kid you not) plane from Phoenix to Tucson. And even though she hadn't seen my dad since a few weeks after her birth, she gave him a hearty, toothy smile when they picked us up from the airport. From then on - when she wasn't wanting to be with her parents, hungry, or sporting a wet diaper, they were buds.

Zoey had a rough start to our vacation, thus Jacob and I did as well. We tend to get stressed when she's upset because she's an extremely happy, bouncy, smiley baby girl who is often as tough as nails. But she also has a mother who can be a complete space-cadet but refuses to acknowledge that she has this flaw. Had I been paying closer attention to her schedule, she may have adjusted to vacation a little better. But we worked things out and she had a very enjoyable time, it being the first time she emitted a laugh from deep within her belly. Of course it was because she was pooping in her carseat, but we all thought it was wonderful just the same.

After traveling all day, Jacob and I spent a good portion of the evening unloading our crap. Jacob and I shared a suitcase while delegating another one of the same size to nothing but Zoey and her toys. Spoiled? Nah! :-)

We arrived on Saturday. On Sunday Uncle Ken and Aunt Karen wanted to come over to the condo to watch the super bowl game on DVD. Why, no one isn't really sure. But from what I understand, there were mass amounts of tequila during the live game so Dad and Ken missed most of it. Fortunately for the rest of us who did watch the 4-hour-plus game, it was merely a highlight reel of the Packer's season and subsequent Super Bowl win. But we were all ready to party, complete with Packer's colors, hamburgers, brats, and a baby ready to dance.

Her legs are getting stronger every day, and she is always anxious to use them. I had a feeling she was missing her ExerSaucer back home - Grandma did too and even went in search of one before our arrival. But while she found the ones that must have been made of gold, we were able to find one relatively cheap. It was the best $40 I've ever spent on vacation.
Even still, the biggest grins and giggles come from sitting on top of Daddy's shoulders.

In the past, trips to Arizona have included copious amounts of pool-time. While we didn't spend every day at the pool like we did when we were little, we still wanted to give Zoey a jump-start on being a water baby. But, first thing's first - a baby swimsuit.

She was NOT thrilled with the situation, but she was already having a stressful time dealing with the rampant unfamiliar and clearly this wasn't helping matters. But she got into the water and started to get used to it (this would have been a lot easier had the pool heat still been on).
 Mommy could have also made things easier by not being such a lame-brain and not putting her in the obviously too-big pool flotation device first. We all needed a vacation to relax so I guess my brain thought this was the best opportunity for it to disappear too.

In between moment of I'm-uncomfortable crying, she did enjoy being in the pool. She always enjoys her bathtime so we tried our best to help her understand it was just a larger version. Well, if it doesn't work on us adults, we can't expect it to work on a baby. But she did grow accustomed to the water and had bouts of enjoyment. I'm sure she would have enjoyed it more, again, had the pool been heated, and if she had eaten already (well, at least an hour prior ;-)).

Aside from any excitement derived from introducing Zoey to knew experiences, vacation was pretty much exactly like being at home, minus the live-in Grandparents who pretty much had to force us to tear ourselves away from Zoey, and having to worry about work. But we managed to do both. I actually felt a little bad because every time we left the condo to "just go to the store real quick to pick something up," we'd end up being gone for over an hour.
We'd never do anything particularly interesting. Most of the times we left, it was baby-related; i.e. diapers, wipes, toys, formula, and anything else a baby might need at any given moment.

But one evening we were allowed to take the convertible for a booze-run (hey, we need something to do after Zoey goes to bed), and we took the opportunity to pick up my book club's next book that I'll only be allowed to read during my lunch hour, and a new CD for Jacob. That quite possibly could have been the first time we bought something for ourselves since little Zo's arrival. But later on in the week, we did have a hot tub and breakfast date that was very nice, greatly appreciated, and something we could never do at home; mainly because we don't have a hot tub.

I left Arizona - Phoenix - back in 2007, and while I had been to Tucson a few times since, I hadn't been up to Phoenix. But for this trip, I felt the draw and wanted to check it out.

It was incredibly surreal, like driving through a dream.

For starters, once we crossed into Phoenix city limits, we were distracted by the various virtual billboards that peppered the freeway. No wonder that state has one of the worst budgets in the country. Not only are they incredibly gaudy, they're horribly distracting.

I had little interest in a complete Breanne Donahue McIntyre reality tour so I just stuck to the hot-spots since Jacob had never been to Phoenix. Among them, and the main reason I had any desire whatsoever to be in Phoenix, was ASU.

I parked in front of my old 15-story college dorm (don't worry, Dad, no parking tickets) and from there we strolled the campus. Zoey found it particularly exciting.

Walking through campus, it felt so....small; exactly like how walking through my elementary school felt when I was in Junior high. The main walk surrounded by palm trees that served as the main drag between parking and the university seemed cramped and oddly unfamiliar; like walking through a dream. And it didn't take nearly as long to walk through campus as it once did when I was late for class. Ours was the only baby stroller on campus,but I did spot a girl younger than myself with a baby younger than Zoey. I can't even begin to imagine what that's like..........

We took the long way, but my ultimate goal was the bookstore. I made peace with the fact that everything would be lustrously overpriced but I don't anticipate many ASU shopping trips in the near or far future. As it happened, though, they were having a big sidewalk sale so we were able to find some neat things at half the price (still overpriced, however), including Zoey's new doll.
She was skeptical but ultimately finds her presence comforting. And she'll smile real big when you have her doll do cheers, especially when you spell out Zoey.

We received many cute-baby compliments from the variety of students - mostly girls, obviously. And who else got checked out left, right, and forward on campus? MY husband! I'd say Zoey and Jacob were the best looking people in Phoenix that day.

Just catchin' some Zzzz's before headin' to class.

Big girl on campus. (She's feeling, and walking on grass for the first time.)

After walking through the portions of campus I felt to be noteworthy on the tour of my past life, I sought out this sign. There are about 4 - that I know of - situated around campus, serving as the "entrances" to the university (in reality, this is impossible, especially since the university is so large it has expanded to ASU East, ASU West, and ASU Downtown). At this specific sign in this particular location is where I took my first picture as a bona-fide ASU student, moments after I decided that ASU would be where I would continue my education. Unfortunately, the pictures are of the archaic non-digital variety and I never learned how to scan in photographs. But they live in my memory and a non-digital photo album.

Jacob did a lot of golfing with my dad and uncle Ken. From what I understand, he did very well. So much so that they went out for a beer after a round and were ultimately requested to leave the drinking establishment. I defer to my father if you want to know the details......But Jacob said it was an experience nonetheless. I'm glad he had a good time. :-)

While Jacob was off with the men, doing men things, my mom and I were usually off doing women things. Since Montana is the only state in the Union that doesn't have a Babies R Us, she couldn't wait to show me the Wal-Mart-esque stored stocked with everything you'll need - and probably haven't thought of - for baby. Most of the prices are reasonable, and it's where I found the organic baby food Zoey loves.

It just wouldn't have been a vacation to Arizona without attending a Spring Training baseball game. We had been traveling to Arizona during March every year since I was 4-years old for this very purpose, and down to Tucson once Colorado developed a baseball team. Unfortunately, after last Spring Training, any remaining teams in Tucson packed up and moved up to Phoenix. So the only game possible to attend was the Healing Tuscon Together charity game, with proceeds going to the family's affected by the assassination attempt of Congresswoman Giffords. Naturally, the game was sold-out, both because of the charity aspect and that baseball is a relatively good way to spend a sunny, not-too-hot afternoon.

Zoey wasn't too incredibly into it, though. She enjoyed the 20 minutes before the game.

Then she soon shared my sentiments when it comes to baseball:
But I've found that I enjoy baseball games much more as an adult. Hello limitless beer! (Although that really isn't true since I can only handle about 3 before I need to be carried home.)

She must have enjoyed herself to some extent, however, because she belly-laughed all the way home.

Our flight(s) home didn't leave until 3pm Saturday afternoon, leaving us the rest of the afternoon, evening, and night traveling. Again, Jacob and I were apprehensive. But we should have known that Zoey would lead us through the experience yet again.

We consider her first plane trip a triumph. She knew just what to do when she was feeling uncomfortable, but there were times when it just wouldn't cut it - she was irritated at the situation and that's all there was to it. If there was a way we could make her feel better, we certainly would have done it. But she just wanted to cry. Surprisingly, we didn't notice a single annoyed look in our direction. I was fully expecting them too, me being in full back-away-from-me-world! mode. But anyone who did say anything just complimented how good she was and, of course, how gorgeous she is.

The planes home were very different. After only sleeping for about 30 minutes in the car on the way to the airport, she astoundingly was wide awake - and calm - through most of our travels. We had a 2-hour layover in Denver that I was looking forward to, thinking it would be when she took her longest (and subsequently the best) nap. Nope. She was wide-eyed the whole time, looking around, sucking her thumb. But finally on the plane from Denver to Billings she sat in my lap and slept the entire flight.
She slept in the car and woke up when we got home. She looked around and grinned from ear-to-ear; especially after I took her into her room. The house was frigid so we had to warm it up, and unpack some of her things in order to get ready for bed. She was up for another half an hour, finally going to bed around midnight. But she laughed and giggled the entire time. When she went to bed, we didn't hear a peep from her until about 9:30am.

Sunday was a complete blur. Zoey played while I caught up on Days of Our Lives. Our DVR was about 95% full (thanks Top Gear Monday) and I said, "I haven't watched DOOL since March 1st!" Jacob replied, "Well, then you should watch it all day." *swoon* So that's what I did while Jacob picked up our dogs.

I was so excited for when Zoey saw that her doggies were back. She was in her ExerSaucer when they came home, the dogs came running through the house, she got a huge frown and burst into tears. And for the first few times they paid attention to her, she was a little afraid. Now, though, everything is back to normal.

Vacation was wonderful - and very much needed; really was beneficial for the mind, body, and soul. But I'm happy to be back to our normal life. This weekend we're becoming the quintessential American couple and getting a.......wait for it......Costco membership! We figured we'd check it out; with the amount we spend on groceries for how often we do it (once every 2 months), we'd probably spend the same amount but for more at Costco. Well, we'll see how this works out.

This morning I went shopping for new clothes. Nothing fits. I can easily be pansed. So it's led to a lot of cinching. I got a lot of cool things - I was trying on size 6's and even those were too big - and got a little of everything. And, wouldn't you know it, but DKNY jeans fit me the best. :-D
Zoey is currently napping but when she wakes up it's off to Costco! Please pray for us....