Our ride north was fairly uneventful. We got a fairly early start and there was almost no traffic. Unfortunately, I had to change Aerin at a rest stop because the car was too full for me to change her in there. Rest stops are very challenging to germophobes, even the cleanest ones. Here is my procedure for changing a baby in a rest stop:
- Perform a combination of self-talk and meditation to mentally prepare myself.
- Carry Aerin into the bathroom and locate the changing table.
- While still holding Aerin, grab a paper towel (or a wipe from the diaper bag if they don't have paper towels) and fold down the table.
- Clean table off with lemon-scented Clorox wipes (takes about 5). This can be somewhat difficult while holding a lively toddler, but no part of Aerin can ever come into direct contact with a public restroom surface.
- Lay a blanket over the table. Make sure the blanket covers the entire table.
- Lay changing pad over the blanket.
- Change the baby. This is the easy part.
- Pick Aerin back up.
- Wipe the changing pad with Clorox wipes before putting it in a baggie.
- Place the blanket in a (separate) baggie. The blanket is now dirty laundry and should remain in the baggie until it is washed.
- Purel baby and self.
- Leave bathroom and hand baby to husband. Refrain from kicking husband in the shins when he asks what took so long.
- Return to bathroom and wash hands with the hottest water you can stand.
We got into the city around 4:30 p.m. It was bitterly cold. Now, I went to college in New York City and lived there with Andrew for almost a year after we were married. You'd think I'd be somewhat immune to the horror many small-town Southerners feel when they first enter the city. Nope. It was much dirtier and bleaker than I remembered and much more full of crazy weirdos. It didn't help that we almost got run off the road by one of those gigantic buses (the kind that are connected in the middle by that accordion thingy). Then the C.H.U.D.s came at us. Andrew did a superb job of urban driving with little to no cussing. Aerin was unimpressed with her first view of Manhattan because she is very cool.
Grandma Rita and Grandpa Steven were waiting to greet us. To say that they were ecstatic is an understatement. Their building has a large courtyard and we were able to pull right up to the door to unload. If you've ever had to unload anything from any kind of vehicle in Manhattan, you'll know what a life-saving blessing that was. Grandma Rita took Aerin into the building's playroom while Grandpa Steven and Andrew unloaded. I supervised. The men went off to park the car while I set thing up in the apartment. Then I joined Aerin and Grandma Rita in the playroom. Aerin was having a great time. They have a lot of toys there that we don't allow at home (ones that light up and make noise). There was plenty of room for Aerin to stretch her legs after being in the car for so long. Eventually, we all went upstairs to relax and see Uncle Daniel. We had Vietnamese food for supper. Now, I love the Southland y'all, but they just don't have good Vietnamese food down here (or Chinese. Or bagels). I was able to actually sit down to eat because I didn't have to watch Aerin. It was great for everyone.
I had hoped that Aerin would be so tired that she'd go right to sleep. She only napped for about an hour in the car and she was up later than usual. Of course, Aerin had her own ideas about things and she wouldn't let me leave the room. I had put the Pack N Play next to the bed, so I just laid down. That was good enough for her to settle down, but not go to sleep. I tried to outlast her and stay up for adult family time, but I fell asleep. That was for the best, because Aerin was up at 5:00 a.m. I took her in bed with me and she slept for another hour, but we were all up after that.
Coming up in Parts 2 and 3: our trip to the Museum of Natural History (Aerin was unimpressed) and to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Aerin was unimpressed).