Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cooper's Florida Vacation, Day 1

The first week of October, Val and I packed up, toted Cooper and took off to visit my Dad down in Miami to enjoy the sights and weather of South Florida and to get away from it all. It's also a celebration of my birthday, Cooper's birthday and my and Val's anniversary, all happening later this month and a chance for Dad to start the party early.

SATURDAY, OCT. 2

You might remember that Friday night we had to abandon plans for going to see Lady Antebellum in Jonesboro due a flat tire. Still flat Saturday morning, filing it in the "stuff we'll worry about later" file, we abandoned my car in the garage and squeezed into my in-laws’ car for the trip to the airport, arriving at 8 for the 9:30 flight.

Val handled security easily, taking Cooper out and walking him through while we pushed through four trays full of shoes and gear plus everything else, which took a while. The TSA agents had to hand check a few things, and wanted to inspect all three of the bottles of formula that we’d bought for the plane. Um, no. When you open them, we have to use them within a couple of hours, so no, you can’t open all at once. She checked one, and I don’t think she needed to do that, either.

I'm not sure why Delta seems to put every flight out of Memphis at the last gate of the longest concourse in airport history, which is fine except that Val's pushing Cooper and carrying a backpack that Sir Edmund Hilary would scoff at as too full to climb Everest, and I'm carrying Cooper's barcalounger-sized car seat, my CPAP case and pulling a medium-sized luggage.

We got there about an hour before boarding, so we camped out at an empty gate across the hall so that Cooper had his own area to play. Still, he wanted to crawl up to strangers (he likes pretty ladies) and out into the concourse, and was very unhappy with me when I stopped him. He got over it. I gave him his own copy of some business paper left on a seat to chew on as a peace offering.

We're not sure if there was an announcement for people with kids to get on the plane first, but I doubt it. There were many young children at the gate, so someone else would have heard, I'm sure. Instead, we were in "zone 4," which happens to be the last to board, meaning once we left the stroller tagged at the gate to be loaded under the plane, Val had to carry Cooper and a backpack as I held the car seat in front of me with my left hand, pushed the luggage in front of me and still had my CPAP over my shoulder, through a packed plane of first class and the first 22 rows filled up with passengers. I had some sympathetic looks and folks on the aisle helped to direct my luggage, so I was grateful for that.

In fact, the only evil eye was the mean old lady who sat in front of Val. I started putting up our bag over her head, and she barks at me, "That's not for your row."

Okay, first off, mind your own business. Second, our seats are in between two bins, so there is no "your row" when it comes to the overhead luggage. Third, I love Twizzlers. Okay, the last one is irrelevant to the topic.

I set up the car seat in the window seat, with me in the middle and Val on the aisle. She'd be more likely to have to use the lavatory, and I figured I had a better shot at keeping Cooper under control should he be fussy, so it all worked out. For Cooper, too. He played a lot, and other than trying to keep him from kicking the seat in front of him, he had a grand old time playing in his seat and climbing up to look at the people behind him. He ate his bottle on takeoff and napped the last half-hour, so no worries about his ears, either.

The old lady in front of Val was the only one who seemed bothered by Cooper at all during the flight. She gave the "turn side to side and look behind as if annoyed" move when Cooper was playing with the tray table behind her. Okay, okay, geez, let's avoid this lady. Others across the aisle and behind Val were smiling and supportive, playing and making faces for Cooper, which he (and his parents) appreciated.

I mean, I know that the number one nightmare of flight is a crying baby, but now that I'm a parent with a baby, I expect my fellow passengers to be on my side. Call me selfish that way. In the future, when I'm sitting in front of a family with kids, I'm going to tell the parent that whatever happens, it's fine, they can kick my seat, grab my hair, and here, have some Twizzlers.

Once in Miami, Dad was eagerly waiting for us, took us to lunch for some filling Italian grub, then we went home for Cooper to play, Val to take the first of her epic siestas of the week, and at night we went to an outdoor shopping plaza for dinner at Brimstone Woodfire Grill. I had the mixed grill, which is four ounces of filet mignon, four ounces of chicken and four ounces of salmon, all over a heaping pile of mashed potatoes. We would eat many, many good meals during the week, which would be why I gained six pounds while in Florida and don't feel too guilty about it!

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