Saturday, October 25, 2008

Shop Hoping with a Toddler

Kiy Note: Instead of the many posts from the Portland trip, I made this trip into one post. Grab a cup of coffee or tea or your beverage of choice. It's going to be a looooong read! (Portland: 1, 2, 3, 4)

So, where to start, where to start. I guess ... on Day 1!

Emi and I boarded our train on my birthday, October 5th. It was supposed to leave at 9pm, but was late and we didn't leave until closer to 1130! She really was a trooper, but flat out exhausted. Add to that, it was dark and the train whistle scared her. Every. Single. Time. Poor baby, for what seemed to be the first few hours it blew all the time. She slept on top of me most of the night, clutching at me, sometimes whimpering or crying out. It just tore at my heart. By early morning she had settled down enough to finish the night next to me in her seat. True to Emi-form, the rough night didn't seem to affect her daytime hours (wish I could say the same!). She woke up pretty happy, we ate breakfast in our seats, she loved the little picnic. (For details on this, see my tips post.)

Bathroom breaks for mama were interesting but since she likes to sit on my lap (too graphic? hehe), it ended up working as well as one could expect. There is a pretty large (by train standards) handicap accessible restroom and we used that, so it helped. We also used the dressing room for diaper changes and my clothing changes. Emi's clothes I just changed either there or at our seat depending. That's something I would seriously suggest to anyone attempting this. Bring clean sets of clothes, and separate stuff to sleep in. While I couldn't exactly shower and do my hair each day, I could clean up and put on clean clothes. It really made a difference. Of course, it also added a full extra carry-on, so it depends on what's important to the travelers.

Emi was in full Emi-mode by the end of breakfast. She went around the car, meeting and greeting. Everyone was very kind and seemed to enjoy her. Emi tends to collect grandmas and grandpas where ever she goes. It's pretty cute to see her in action. Actually, you could have, had I had the mind-set to dig out the camera. Seriously, I need to start carrying my purse camera ALL the time.

We colored, played with puzzles, played with bracelets and necklaces, had picnics, tore pages out of magazines (that I brought for this exact reason), went up to the Observation deck (rarely, she wasn't really into sitting - imagine that) and watched WAY too many dvds. However, had Emi not been a dvd gal I would have never attempted this trip. She tends to play while watching/listening though, something that I do also, so it's not all bad. We also saw animals, and for Emi this was a huge step. When in a car, she will look out the window but never seemed to exclaim over anything. This trip, we saw cows (tons and tons of them) and horses. All of a sudden, the cows became something she couldn't get enough of. She'd actually stand in her seat, watching for cows and then get all excited when she saw them. I loved it! We (okay, I) also saw a small herd of elk (awesome sight) and deer a couple of times. We also saw a couple of cowboys herding/moving (or whatever cowboys do) cows. This trip opened up looking out the window for Emi, now she does it constantly, exclaiming over everything she sees. It's so amazing, watching this little person grow.

We finally arrived at the stop where my folks live, and I was so happy to see the end of the train ride ... and a real bed! Both Emi and I dropped the minute we hit their house and slept like zombies. Ahhh, bliss.

The next two days were just catch-up on sleep, try to move our internal clocks ahead three hours and unwind. (BTW, Emi never did move her clock - she just stayed on West Coast time! She slept until 9-9:30 every morning we let her, and didn't go down until at least 9-10 most nights.) It felt nice to just sit and chat, and try to keep Emi from dismantling my parents house. We didn't do much those two days, knowing that we were going to be cooped up in the car for four days.

Friday morning, our plan was to be on the road no later than 0630. Ouch. My alarm went off at five and I snuck off to the shower as quietly and quickly as possible. I got all of our stuff gathered and ready, and then went in and woke poor sweet Emi up at 0545. She wasn't overly happy, and I thought that maybe I'd just carry her upstairs and load her into the car. I'd worry about diaper changes, breakfast and clothes once she woke up. Problem is, once upstairs I think she remembered where she was ... and woke up, ready to play! So, back to Plan A - diaper/clothing changes and breakfast.

We didn't get on the road until closer to seven, but we were okay with that. Dad snapped the picture on the right just before we got on the road. First decent pic of both mom and I together in a long time, and Emi would NOT look at dad/the camera. Toddlers, sigh. But then, it was early in Emi's world. Note the firm grip on both her penguin (dubbed Brutus, 'cause with Emi he has to be able to take tough love!) and her sippy of milk (closest thing to coffee that gal is getting!).

For those not familiar with why we made the trip, here are more details. Oh, and the Tour de Stitch in held in Northern Ohio.

We finally arrived in Toledo, our first stop: Something Extra. Brilliant owner, Bridget, had a few toys by the cash register that Emi found quickly. Sure made it easy for us to shop and spend money, but I am sure that wasn't Bridget's intention at all. Nope, not at all. {smile} We enjoyed our stay, but she started to get busy, so we checked out and got back on the road. These three gals had ground to cover!

Next stop was in Vermillion, Riverbend Stitchery. Unfortunately, they have a shop cat, so I could not linger with my horrible allergy. Mom and I took turns, as we didn't want Emi in there. She touches everything and could (and most likely would) transfer cat to me in a heart beat). So when mom went in to shop, I got Emi out of the car and let her run around in the grassy area next to the shop (btw, yes, that is Emi in nothing but a diaper and a tee-shirt ... in Ohio ... while Jeff at home in WA was having our underground sprinklers blown out because we were having frost and below freezing temps being forecast - love it!).

Honest, I was going to post just two. But seriously, how to choose? :)

Since the fist day was a long driving day, we decided to call it at this point. We drove the hour or so to the next shop so we'd be at the shop bright and early when they opened. Planning, we are all about the planning!

One of the things we did was make sure that all the hotels had indoor pools. We figured if Emi rode with us to shop all day, three to four days running, we could take her to the pool every day! The first night Emi and I ran down to the pool, it was crowded (surprisingly) but we still enjoyed it. Danger Girl reared her head and learned how to jump into my arms. The second time ever being in a pool (and the first time was the trip to Portland this past summer).

First stop on Saturday, the Red Apple Frame & Stitchery. The shop owner also had a basket of toys that Emi enjoyed playing with, so Mom and I were able to shop with just a bit of help from Emi. We really enjoyed this store, and wandered around quite a bit this time (last year we were not able to). Then Emi and I went out to change a diaper and get a snack while Mom finished up her shopping.

Our next stop was Inn Stitches in Canton. We really like this shop but it was quite challenging with Emi. By now she was used to going into shops so wanted to touch and feel everything. I didn't get to shop as much as I had in the other stores but that's okay, I didn't expect this to be much of a real shopping trip anyway. While Mom shopped, Emi and I went outside and walked around. There was the most delicious smelling bakery a couple doors down, it took everything I had not to wander in and buy the place out! Oh my.

Back in the car, and heading for lunch ... Emi fell asleep. So we decided to head to our next stop and then find lunch there. We had a quick lunch in Broadview Heights and then went into the Crafty Ewe. This is one of our fav shops, and these gals could not wait to see Miss Emi, who was remembered from her photo of last year (she was in many of the other stores also) but the exclaims of Miss Cuteness were so sweet. While no toys were available, they showed her the (I think) handmade stuffed animals that sent my mama's heart skittering. I could just see Emi loving on them so much and limbs go flying. But, thankfully she lost interest before that could happen. Mom and I shopped and explored and really enjoyed ourselves.

We were making good time so decided to head on to our next stop, Just Stitching in Strongsville. This is also one of our favorite stops on the tour. We love this shop, the gal who owns it and her staff quite a bit. We always spend more here than we think we are going to, as her displays are wonderful and there is just so much to see. Emi was, of course, exclaimed over and was offered little Halloween bags of pretzels which she snapped up in a hurry. There were also all kinds of shelving displays where she could run and hide, allowing a somewhat frazzled mama to chase and find. Emi thought it was great fun, thankfully the gals in the shop thought it was cute. Had they not, we would have been taking a walk again while Grandma finished her shopping.

Emi 'shopping' at Just Stitching

After this shop we realized, we had done FOUR shops in one day! No wonder we were pooped. We headed to our hotel, ready to drop. We did drive on over to Findley so we would be ready to start hopping the moment the shop opened on Sunday. Since they opened at noon on Sunday, and we were only going to do that one store we decided to get a late checkout and take our time.

We arrived at the hotel on the late side, so decided to hold off on the swimming for the night. One of the things I think Emi really enjoyed about the trip was that she and I shared a bed. Didn't start out that way, we had requested a crib for each hotel, but ended up just using it as a bed rail/guard so she wouldn't roll off the big bed. She loved snuggling each night and interestingly enough, except for one night terror night (yuck), she slept straight through each night. I have to wonder if it was warmer, or if she just liked sleeping with someone (me). However, Emi tends to take her half of the bed out of my side (not even just the middle!). No matter how many times I would move her back to her side, she would gravitate to me sooner rather than later. She's been a toucher and cuddler since the day she was placed in our arms. If anything, that has just intensified, which is just fine and dandy with me. I just love our little snuggle bunny. I have to say, I miss sleeping with her now that we are home. That was a very special time.

We did swim, right after breakfast the next morning. Mom went down to the pool with us, but since the water was SO cold, she decided to play photographer instead of swimming. Note that there are extremely few photos of me here, there are a lot of things I will share on my blog. Me in a bathing suit is not one of them!

Our last stop on the tour was the Craft Gallery in Findley. This continues to be one of our favorites (okay, we like all the shops but some have a special place in our heart). The owners loved on Emi, which was so cute. Of course, Emi ate it all up ... including the little treats they gave her. There was also some cool toys in the front of the store that she really enjoyed playing with, most of which I have to wonder where they ended up. The little vintage tractor she carried all over the store, I was wondering how we were going to pry that out of her little fingers but fortunately something else caught her eye and I was able to stash the tractor out of her eye sight.

Since we had finished the Shop Hop in Findley we decided to go ahead and make the drive up to Fenton (Michigan). We love Deb at Stitches 'N Things and really wanted to add that to our trip. We just didn't know if Emi would have it in her to add another three hours of driving and yet another shop. But since she seemed fine, we settled her down with yet another dvd and started the drive.

We arrived first thing Monday morning, in fact before the shop opened! We enjoyed our visit and our shopping. Thankfully Deb was very patient, as Emi loved loved loved Deb's store. Deb has all these cool nooks and crannies where she displays varies stitching goodies. Emi was sure they were there just for her. It was interesting, keeping Emi from dismantling Deb's store! Mom and I ended up having to take turns walking outside with Emi, as we both had projects we wanted to talk with Deb about that we could not accomplish with Miss Emi running around. What a wonderful way to end our stitching shopping.

We headed back to mom and dad's, about five more hours of drive time. But thankfully between lunch, dvd's, nap time and running around breaks it went quite smoothly. Emi and I spent two more days at my folks', doing laundry, swimming in their hot tub (heat turned down for Emi), taking walks in their neighborhood and playing. I also started the massive packing again, so that we would be ready to jump on the train at 0735 ob Thursday. Poor Emi, another early morning wake-up call but I think she was getting used to it by then.

This time the train ride didn't even phase her. She handled the whole thing in stride, like she's been riding the train her whole (short) life. It was pretty cute to see her running all over, chattering to folks. We had a looooong wait/layover in Chicago (about 4+ hours). Usually, I'd take the time, find a corner and a book and read. With Emi, we had lunch in the food court and then found the Main Hall. I hooked her into her harness and we walked around and around and around, stopping to visit with folks that caught her interest now and again. I was so happy when it was time to board the next (and final) train.

We settled into our seats, and really enjoyed this ride. While it wasn't the most comfortable (my back and rear end were really feeling all the sitting by the end of the ride!), I so enjoyed spending this time with Emi. She's a fun traveler, and I love watching life through her eyes. She finds joy and excitement in every-little-thing. I didn't realize how much life I wasn't seeing until Emi. We spent more time this time coloring and watching out the window. The cows became an even bigger hit, with huge exclamations whenever she saw them. She spent a fair amount of time standing on her arm rest (you guys didn't really think Danger Girl was on vacation, did you?) watching out the window. With trains, the windows are just huge, so that was another huge plus to traveling this way. We snuggled in at nap times, mama got to spend some much needed quiet time during those. Reading and listening to my (new - happy birthday from Jeff and Emi!) MP3 player.

Travel is fun with a toddler, as long as you know your's and are willing to go with the flow. At any given time, plans had to be changed or completely tossed out the window. The shopping was a side benefit to the trip, really, it was all about sharing all of this with Emi and getting her to my folks. I can't wait to start planning what we are going to do next!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love the pictures of your daughter playing in the water. The Midge was adopted from Korea and looked so much like her when she was a toddler.