Monday, June 20, 2011

Postcard from Florida: We had a Blast (Off)!

 Today we have a guest blogger, one of our members who has moved to Florida, shares with us some family babywearing fun!

As a military family, we move quite a bit. Home is where the Air Force sends us. While this presents many challenges, there are also advantages. One is that we are "local" to all sorts of new to us attractions and events every few years. One opportunity we did NOT want to miss while in Florida was the launch of a Space Shuttle. Endeavor was our first and only chance to do that. But when one of your littles is an itty bitty, travel and big events get complicated. So here is my countdown of the reasons you need to babywear for launch day, and at other big events.

10 - Crowd Control: Holy smokes are there a LOT of people at these things. Even if you could navigate a baby-in-stroller through the mass of humanity, you would not have your hands free to hold on to the other little people. That's assuming your stroller rider is content in the stroller. Often crowds frighten or overwhelm our littlest ones, and you end up carrying the baby anyway. Wearing one or more of your little ones helps keep everyone close by and accounted for.
9. Other stuff. Because of the crowds, all the extra traffic, and the security measures, you need to get to your viewing spot early. We spent a couple hours at our spot prior to launch. You do not want to try and keep kids (and kids at heart) entertained with just what you have in a diaper bag. With the baby in a carrier, you have more flexibility to bring 'stuff' for everyone: snacks, games, toys, etc.

8. Alligators. No, I'm not kidding. Yes, that bumpy log in the water there IS, in fact, an rather healthy sized alligator. Okay, so most events, and even most places you would watch a rocket launch, don't have large prehistoric holdover reptiles lurking the depths. Even those that do pose little danger, especially if you can keep one or more of your small people attached and easily accounted for. There are unique concerns for safety at any event that you need to navigate, so adding a carrier to your list of things to help is one way to do that.

7. Change of plans. You probably noticed that there was a change of clothing somewhere here. No, we did not try to swim with Mr. Gator. Our first attempt to see the launch ended with the launch being scrubbed due to technical malfunctions. Schlepping back to your vehicle with kids in a carrier makes a quicker process. It also helps sooth those older babies and toddlers, who are no doubt disappointed that plans have changed. You can also switch out launch stuff for the other stuff in your car that you brought 'just in case' you had some extra time on your hands. All that beach gear came in handy!

6. House of Mouse. You've traveled all this way. Why not check out some of the other local kid focused attractions while visiting? There's Sea World, Universal, Busch Gardens, and this other really huge park, the name escapes me at the moment, all in the the same region as Cape Canaveral. You SO want a carrier for these places. The crowds are insane and much of the transportation is not particularly stroller friendly.

5. Keep walking. Okay, so you may be thinking "yeah, I can see how the stroller would be a pain, but I can just carry the baby." I hope you have strong arms! For a variety of reasons, you are probably going to have to leave your car somewhere a good hike away from where you camp out for viewing (or any other activity you participate in while visiting the area). Fifteen pounds (or twenty, or thirty...) gets real heavy after a couple of blocks. Pop baby in a carrier on your back, front, or hip and you are going to be much more comfortable.

4. The dreaded car seat. So I've mentioned the crowds, right? Well all those people did not just get beamed up, apparate, or use a port key. They drove. So did you. Which means your wee one just spent a whole bunch of time safely strapped into the properly installed car seat, and will soon be spending a whole bunch more time there as you sit in bumper to bumper traffic. Adding a bunch of stroller time to that will leave baby feeling disconnected. A carrier lets your little people feel close, cuddled, and attached.

3. You put the baby where, exactly? Now of course you brought a nice big beach blanket for the kids, and chairs. So everyone would be comfortable. And your older kids commandeer a chair and the blanket, because they are "freezing" in the 65 degree weather that was not predicted when you packed for your trip. So baby stays warm and cozy in the carrier. So do you, bonus! You can even use it to set the little one down on the ground when it warms up and have a few extra milliseconds before they eat grass and dirt.

2. Lights, camera, action! You brought your camera right?  Or, in our case, camera-two-smart-phones-and-
video-recorder-with-tripod. You will be needing at least one free hand to operate that stuff. When it goes, it goes fast, and you can't be fumbling with half of one arm. Of course, even us experienced babywearers mess this one up. I had the baby on my hip in a ring sling since I *thought* he would fall asleep nursing. No such luck, and his 'help' with the still camera means we did not get a good shot of the launch. My husband got some great video though!

1. It's loud. It's really really loud. The actual launch finally arrives. Five minutes, two, one. Excitement ripples physically through the crowd. Everyone counts out loud, together: Ten. Nine. Eight. Seven. Six. Five. Four. Three. Two. ONE!!! For a moment or two, nothing. Then the light show starts, though distance makes this part more manageable for little ones. Smoke everywhere, then fire. And then this beautiful spacecraft rises up into the heavens. The crowd cheers. Depending on how far away you are, the launch sound lags behind. Engine roar is followed by sonic booms as the craft races away from the Earth. It can be a whole lot for a little one. But safe and secure in a carrier, they often take it in stride.

We were fortunate enough to be there and wish Endeavour Godspeed on its very last mission to space. Babywearing made that once in a lifetime adventure with three small children a grand and exciting time. Wear your baby, go have an adventure or three. The memories will last a lifetime.

Posted by Amy

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