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Monday, February 16, 2009

Erin Goes to Seattle

"Let's go away for the weekend. Let's just go."

"Where? Ugh, it's such a pain in the ass to pack up all of Erin's crap. Just for a weekend? Seems like a waste."

"So let's not bring any of it."

"How do we go on a trip without bringing the car seat? The stroller? The pack n' play? Especially anywhere interesting that isn't just a place we've driven to twenty times already? We can't rent a car if we don't have the car seat, and I don't trust rental car company car seats."

"You are Backpacking Dad. Let's take the backpack for her, and a small carry-on for us, and go somewhere we won't need a car to get around."



And that's how we found ourselves on a plane out of San Jose International on a September morning, holding Erin on our laps as we sat just a little bit stunned at the freedom we felt traveling in the fashion we were. A few diapers were in the backpack, along with a cup, a plastic fork, some wipes, and a couple of changes of clothes for Erin. We'd need more diapers, and food, and milk, and probably countless other things, but most things could be purchased in discrete quantities in a city like Seattle. The flight wasn't so long that we needed to load up with distractions for the kid.

We left the car, and the car seat, in the airport parking lot, having found that the downtown hotel shuttle was a large bus, not a van, making a car seat unnecessary. We booked a room at a fancy downtown hotel, splurging on a room close to the center of the city in order to both cut down on distance travel and to ensure that the quality of crib offered would be superior enough for us to feel comfortable letting Erin sleep in it. It was a two-room suite, expensive, but worth it if it meant Erin could sleep in her own room.

As it turned out whoever designed the two-room suites at the fancy hotel never thought guests would actually want the rooms to be, well, separated. French doors divided the bedroom from the living room, but instead of anything remotely sound-damping like glass, or even wood, the doors were just frames draped with linen. Translucent linen at that. So not only were they not sound-proof, but they weren't even opaque enough for genuine privacy. They might as well have just drawn a line on the carpet and labeled it "door".

The weird two-but-really-one-room suite setup was a detraction, but the crib set up was fantastic. The crib came with a full set of baby bath products and powders and soaps, all the things we didn't bring with us but thought we'd buy at a local store then have to leave behind because they were liquid and we flew on an airplane with only carry-ons and the TSA would have a fit if we tried to bring shampoo on an airplane. What's more, there was a stuffed animal in the crib and also the cutest baby robe I've ever seen.


You can't tell from the picture, but that sucker was monogrammed. Of course we stole it. Or I think we did. I mean, I'm sure it ended up coming home with us but they never billed us so I'm not sure that it wasn't just a free baby robe to begin with.

Outside of the room we wandered...

Down to Pike's Place Market and Victor Steinbrueck Park, where Erin strutted about and Emily mom'd it up.




Backpacking around the Market we stopped at the world's first Starbucks.


I dad'd it up by sticking things on Erin's face and taking pictures of it:


We ate at small cafes and at a family seafood restaurant, at the mall and at a food court next to the Space Needle with tiny chairs for tiny people.


We traveled by backpack, by monorail, and by Duck Boat.


We went to the aquarium:


And to the Children's Museum, where painting happened:


And to a video arcade with its own carousel:


And to the tiny amusement park at the base of the Space Needle...


....where Erin joined an old busker's act and tried to steal his stuffed lion:


At the end of the trip my back was sore, and we were exhausted, but in a very happy way. We saw a lot of the touristy parts of the city, all without a car or taking a taxi anywhere. Dreading the trip home, scheduled as it was for a nap time that might never happen, we returned to SeaTac not knowing if the trip was going to be capped by a massive spaz-out on the flight home. We were pleasantly surprised by the huge playroom at the airport: Seattle is not populated by dummies. If you want a kid to sleep on an airplane you need to tire her out first.


Wouldn't you know it? Erin slept for nearly the entire flight home. She whispered "happy" as she lay in Emily's arms, and then I took her and sang a made up song as we took off, and by the time the seat belt light was turned off she was asleep.


It was after we arrived home that night, tired and relaxed, that we opened a bottle of wine to cap our long weekend together before Emily went back to work for the week and I prepared to return to school full-time, my days of being an at-home dad behind me. It was a bittersweet evening, as I realized my time with Erin was going to be severely reduced. I had known nothing but fatherhood for a year, and I was nervous about going back to school, and about putting Erin in daycare.

After I poured the wine Emily looked over at me as I sat pondering the changes the future was going to bring. "You know, it's been a while since my last period," she commented.

"Maybe you're pregnant," I joked back, thinking about class schedules and students and daycare teachers who were going to screw it all up.


"Wait, how long is 'a while'?"

It was long enough. That night, September 15th, 2008, we found out about this one, my son, due May 15th, 2009:

Baby #2 Ultrasound

Bittersweet indeed. We had enjoyed our free-wheeling trip to Seattle so much, just we three, that it was a bit of a shock to be faced with the reality of a second child, a sibling, when all we'd known was life with Erin.

I drank Emily's wine and life went on.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a cool, spur of the momment trip. Looks like you guys had a blast! Gotta love those little cafes...and sticking stuff on the kid's faces!

And what a great way to end the weekend!!!!

Mandy said...

That's a great story of a fantastic trip.

What a nice reason to have to drink more than your share of wine.

Jill said...

It totally looks like he's singing into a microphone in that US picture. Rock star or karaoke lounge act?

Burgh Baby said...

Now that's my kind of vacation. Screw planning and dragging a ton of stuff around, just getting up and going is the way to do it.

Amo said...

What an awesome story!

My 5yo is sitting on my lap right now and said that your daughter is 'pretty cute'.

Also, he added that the last pic was of "God building a baby."

Just had to share...congrats!

Stephanie N. said...

I can't get over how cute Erin looks in the baby bathrobe. Like a little princess waiting for her mani-pedi.

Kristy - Where's My Damn Answer said...

Awesome photos :-D ... and another one on the way - YAY!!


Single Parent Dad said...

Cool story, what a weekend. You took a lot in, and without taking an awful lot with you, bargain.

Congrats on your baby news, MAY the force be with you.

Lisa @ Crazy Adventures in Parenting said...

It's a BOY!?!! Awesome Shawn!!!! :)

illahee said...

oh wow, the memories! looks like a lovely trip.

and, congratulations!

Mama Bree said...

Sounds like a fantastic trip!! Congrats on expecting a boy!! :)

If you don't mind my asking - what hotel did you stay in? We're thinking about a similar weekend trip up to Seattle ourselves.....

Peggy said...

What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails, and puppy dogs tails
That's what little boys are made of
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice and all things nice
That's what little girls are made of

Now you have it all! Congrats!

Swirl Girl said...

Mazel Tov !

What a beautiful story!

Christine Gram said...

Holy Crumb! I'm so jealous of the weekend. And Ya just know the new guy is going to be so awesome.


momranoutscreaming said...

buckle your seatbelt, the ride is about to get just a little bit wilder! Congratulations!
OH to go on a trip with just one child. Loved the photos

Anonymous said...


And I love Erin. She's so adorable. Watch out when she's older... the boys will be all over those blue eyes.

Petra a.k.a The Wise (*Young*) Mommy said...

Awesome story and great pictures. And that baby robe is ADORABLE. As is your daughter. Oh yeah, and your son ;)

Samurai Beetle said...

Yeah a son! Congratulations!!! May is so soon. Hope the pregnancy is going well.

Jerri Ann said...

Yep, he's already a rockstar like his daddy, singing into the ol' thumb

for a different kind of girl said...

...and life went on toward more totally awesome things (however, if you ever need a babysitter, I'm typically free. Well, the babysitting wouldn't be free. I just mean I don't have these fun spur of the moment adventures filling up my calender. I'm so awesome).

amelia said...

Wow - congrats! Excited to follow you guys into baby boyhood!

kittenpie said...

Hey! Congratulations! And to think I almost didn't read the postscript because it's 3am and I'm dog tired... How fool9ish would i have felt missing the big announcement? And what terrific timing on your trip. Now I'm curious to see how you manage school and #2.

The Flirty Girl said...

Congrats on letting loose, kicking up your heels and hopping up to Seattle for some fun! I love Seattle. I haven't been there for years but your post is inspiring me to hop a plane up for a weekend. And extra congrats on the new arrival. Wow what a trip!

Bianka said...

Can you tell us what hotel you stayed at? What a wonderful trip!

seadragon said...

Wow, congratulations!!

Miss Grace said...

That trip sounds wonderful, and there will be trips that are equally magical with four of you.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on your impending arrival!!!!
I wish I could throw caution to the wind and just pick up and go- but you will realize soon enough that it's not as easy with two children!

Kate @ Life As I Live It said...

You're gonna have to get a frontpack now too. :) Can you handle both at the same time??

Congrats on the new son!

Your weekend sounds perfect too.

Bethany said...

Really enjoyed the story & pix... life will be abundant, that's where you are headed :)

James said...

Congrats, that is terrific news. And glad you enjoyed Seattle. It is a terrific place to call home.

duck said...

Now THAT'S a way to end a post!! Congratulations! Sounds like Seattle was a blast.

Amy @ Milk Breath and Margaritas said...

Sweet! The trip and the ending.

You look so much like a cousin of mine it weirds me out. (I typically lurk.)

Janna Bee said...

I remember feeling like our oldest was finally "portable" when I got pregnant with my second.

Congratulations on the second baby!

Chris said...

That was a very good post. MY wife has been blogging for a while and made me start this weekend. She told me to check out yours. Nice. Congrats man. I have 3. We try to go out and do all that DC has to offer but lately winter, with its 2 inches of ice everyhwere, have limited us. Best wishes.

anymommy said...

I love that Starbucks. That will be a great story for your son (!) to read someday.

JenPB said...

I love just picking up and going, but you've MASTERED it! Great story. Thanks for sharing. And best of luck with new bundle. Doesn't change EVERYTHING...or maybe it does. But you can still pick up and go - two parents - two sets of hands - two backpacks. Yep.

Catherine said...

Wow Congratulations!! That is awesome :)

Whit said...

Great post.

Man, I miss Seattle.

You're describing a very bittersweet feeling I had, too. The three of us worked. It was good. I was very nervous and, dare I say, a little upset that three had to end- that is until we became four.

Nicole said...

That was a beautiful post!!
I enjoyed it so much!

Homemom3 said...

I love those spur of the moment trips. Sounds like ya'll had some fun and looks like there'll be more trips with two instead of just one. Loved your pictures and the story.

Momo Fali said...

My husband and I went on a cruise just before finding out we were pregnant with our second child. It was nice to get that last hurrah.

Sarah said...

First of all: CONGRATULATIONS =)

And second, it sounds like the trip must have been amazing. The freedom, the adventures, the newness. Sounds cool!

AmyAnne said...

I met a woman in college who had 5 kids all of them YEARS apart so the spread was awful, I mean, huge.

Tha summer she had taken her 5 kids and her husband on a 4 week trip THROUGH Europe staying at hostels and bringing only what could be carried on the backs of those big enough to carry.

She said it was amazing. I was amazed.

Rita Arens said...

Gosh, I really love this story.

the new girl said...

Aw, man! What an awesome post, BD. I think our girls resemble each other. We're going to have the second two pretty close too.

Who'd have thought???

Miss Britt said...

What an absolutely perfect story.

minniemama68 said...

What a great trip!!!!

Congrats on the soon-to-be new baby!!!

Backpacking Dad said...

I love that so many of you loved this post. I shelved it initially because we weren't ready to announce the pregnancy right after we found out about it. Then it lingered. Then we announced the pregnancy. Then it lingered. Then I forgot about it. Then I rememeberd all the pictures.

Then I ran out of stories one day. :}

The hotel, for the curious, was the Fairmont.

Donna E said...

yeah,this was a great post!Been so long since I had just one littlie,but I have a backpack too,and soft front carrier and I take'em and go!Well now it's easier again that my 1st set of twins are big enough to walk for a while.I wear 2 and hold the others hands! It's all doable,just believe you can.I never let anyone tell me I couldn't!Congrats to your family!

Kimberly said...

That picture of Erin in the bathrobe made my heat melt. What a beauty!!

Elisa said...

WOW!! Congratulations!! May babies are fun :-) Got one of those myself :-)