We did a thing! On roadtripping with a baby.

In case you’re wondering where I’m writing to you from today, it’s not a Carrie Bradshaw type of situation.  I am typing away in a back office at my place of work, topless, with my pump strapped to me, trying to extract enough milk so that my boobs don’t feel like they’ll turn into stone and fall off.  Did you know pumping is the worst?  I’m convinced that bad pumping experiences are why a lot of women ditch breastfeeding.  And I don’t blame them.


We drove to New York City with a baby, and lived to tell the tale.

So sometime, like a month or two ago, I decided we needed to go see my grandmother.  She is my last living grandparent, and though she was able to travel to make it for my wedding, she isn’t traveling much these days, and I thought it was important that Liam get a chance to hang out with a great.  That doesn’t happen for everyone.

We tossed around the idea of flying, but to be completely honest, flying just isn’t fun anymore, and we needed, at the absolute least, a stroller and a pack n’ play for Liam to sleep in, and gate-checking these items, or renting them once we got there, was a little too much for me to handle.  I just couldn’t.

So Austin rented a giant car.  I’m used to a compact (my teeny Korean car, suitable for a small family of three who still parallel parks from time to time), so this car, a Nissan Pathfinder, was like the Titanic to me.  We packed the car the night before, slept for a few hours, and executed our plan to be out of the house by 4am that Friday morning.  Really, we pulled the classic Armour, and didn’t leave until 4:20ish, but still within a reasonable time frame.  I fed and dressed the baby absolutely last before we left, loaded him up, and headed out of town.

Austin drove the first shift, and we didn’t have to stop for a few hours.  Our first stop was at a truck stop McDonald’s, which allowed for us to hop out, feed and change the baby, let him crawl around in the third row (which we flattened), and finally, I pulled the jogging stroller out and walked a few laps while Austin cleaned out snack trash, bought more coffee, and set us up to drive for another few hours.

Liam minorly freaked out for a few minutes, and we found ourselves playing, then replaying the baby version of Nina Bonita (there is an entire Spotify album that’s really good, dedicated to this Venezuelan duo and their greatest hits), but he was pretty calm as we made our way to the bottom of the Brooklyn bridge where we were staying, and while Austin laid down for just a few minutes, we played.  We finished night one with a short walk halfway across the bridge, and an early night to bed.

The next day, both of us donned workout clothes, and we walked into Manhattan with a few extra diapers, a change of clothes, and a plan to spend most of the day out.  We walked to first find coffee, to Oculus, the WTC memorial, to a late lunch to meet a camp friend, and finally, we hopped on the subway to go back to Brooklyn to see my grandmother, who was delighted to see Liam.  Liam had a rattle grasped firmly in his fat little hand, which he kept swinging.

“Gentle Liam, gentle!”

“It’s ok,” my grandmother said.  “I’m a mother too.”

The visit was amazing, and we hopped back on the subway to head back to our corner of Brooklyn, where I prepped Liam for bed, and sent Austin on a quest to find us something to eat (in the hallway, since our room was small, and Liam was asleep).  After a little bit of sleep, we prepared to head back, and the trip back felt much shorter than the trip there.  Austin took the first bit of the drive, and again, we stopped and walked around some stops, and I took over for the last few hours of the drive, built in a few extra stops, and made it home with enough time to lay the baby down for a nap, and do a walk/run before it got dark.

So, all of that to say – if you’re thinking about traveling with a little one, here’s what I would suggest.

  • Pack your food/snacks.  Pack the baby’s food/snacks.  The week before we left, I bought car snacks like waters, dried fruit, nuts, and protein bars to tide us over and keep us from having to do too much fast food.  I packed some solids I’d made for the baby in a cooler bag, along with my hand pump in case I had to pump at all (I didn’t), and it made for a healthier, cheaper trip.  On one of our stops, we opened the tailgate, and I was able to feed Liam on one of the stops.
  • Leave disgustingly early.  We woke up at like 3, got everything together, and took the baby with us last.  I dream-fed him, put him in his car seat, and he was asleep by the time we were just south of Virginia.  He slept from them until like 8 or so, which gave us a few solid hours or driving without really having to worry about a meltdown.
  • Pack the stroller to walk on breaks.  I guess this depends on if you have a baby that enjoys walking, but even for your own exercise and sanity, having the stroller so that you can do a few laps for 15 or 20 minutes while one of you throws out car trash and programs the XM is really worth it.
  • Leave yourself plenty of time.  A 9ish hour trip took about 11.  And that’s a-ok, we made it so we didn’t have anywhere to be the evening we got there.
  • Be prepped for meltdowns.  Occasionally, your child may scream like a demon because he’s been strapped in a carseat for hours and he wants to crawl around like a normal baby.  Keep. Your. Cool.  Don’t freak out, don’t rip your hair out, and don’t yell at your driving partner.  It ends.

Anyways, so we made it to NYC and back, and I’m excited, not only to our next trip home, but also for other trips.  We’re planning another trip to Fripp, a few trips home, and one big trip to Florida to see family at the end of the summer, so this definitely gives me a little more confidence in this moment.


Weekend Update!

This (last?) weekend went by entirely too fast.  I could have extended it at least by one day, but that’s never really how things work, right?

So, many weeks ago, a friend of mine, Erin, decided that she wanted to run her first half-marathon.  After discussing it in the group chat (my primary source of news and entertainment throughout the week), Erin and Liz decided that they would run the More/Shape Women’s Half Marathon in NYC.  The rest of us decided to tag along, and make something of a weekend of it and spectate the race.

Really, the weekend started on Thursday evening.  Because I knew I’d be in the airport for a good chunk of the day on Friday, I needed to put in some hours of work after my class on Thursday night, and I set about to do that.  I sent emails and worked on May’s schedule into the night, slept for a few hour, and made it up for my 5:45am Pump class.  From there, I ran home, showered, packed, and called an Uber to get me to the airport, where I proceeded to sleep through two flights.  By the time I made it to Jersey and to the house in Sayreville, I was exhausted again, and napped on the couch until folks started arriving home from work.  My aunt made us an amazing meal, and my cousin and I attempted to watch the first epi of Kimmy Schmidt before I completely passed out so hard, I had to keep myself from panicking when I didn’t realize where I was the next morning.  I lazed around on Saturday, went to the park for a walk with my cousin, and got out the door for dinner with race friends in the city.

I friggin FORGOT how annoying it is to drive into the city, btws.  A ride that was supposed to take me like 40 minutes, ended up taking well over an hour when I got stuck in traffic in the Holland tunnel.  Blah.  But we grabbed some italian, grabbed some ice cream from Big Gay Ice Cream, and headed to the hotel to hit the sack for our 5:45am wake up the next morning for the race.  After heading to the start (and spotting Sara Bareilles and Padma Lakshmi), we saw the girls off for the start, around 6 miles, and then squatted at a Pain Quotedian and met a friend of mine from camp to meet the girls at the finish.  We surprised Erin at dinner the night before with these shirts we had made, so we all wore them, and made sure we snapped pics.

Check out these shirts we made for her!
All of

We finished the day with some burgers, (a ridiculously hearty black bean for me), annd parted ways back at the hotel.

I did not leave without the parking garage losing my car and Andrew and Ryan having to find it.  I did my best not to panic and remember that if they lost the car, there were really worse things in the world, and that it could totally end up being a funny story.  Fortunately, we didn’t have to make it quite that far.

And now, I’m here sitting in the airport late, waiting for my last flight home, where I can shower and get into my own bed.

What did you do this weekend?


September 11th, 2001, I was a freshman in high school at Providence High in the southern part of Charlotte.  I remember waking up that morning, flipping the radio to News Talk 1110, and thinking, “Hm.  Today is just not a good news day at all!”  I try to never let that thought creep into my head.  My superstitious fear is that when I think that, that something bad will happen in the world.

Let me back up.  So I was born in Brooklyn, New York.  My father worked for Lehman Brothers (which isn’t a thing anymore), and my mother worked as an admin.  Except they used to call the admins secretaries which is kinda rude and not PC anymore I don’t think.  Anyways, my parents worked in the city.  Some of my earliest memories involved my dad taking us to his office.  They must have looked at him like he was crazy, a young 20-something with three kids, at least two that would come to his office, enamored of Jacqueline, a pretty lady who was nice to us and let us color and gave us snacks while my dad did work things.  Daddy took us to the office sometimes.  We rode on the train.  Once we moved to Long Island and he started commuting into the city for work, I remember driving him to the train station, our footie pajamas shoved into our sneakers.  On weekends, my mom would go into work, and my dad took us to Taco Bell, to Chuck-e-Cheese’s, to play tennis, and apple picking.

I remember when Daddy went to interview for First Union in a place called North Carolina.  We left all of our friends in the city behind, and started a new life in North Carolina, where people were friendly and had really funny accents.

We settled in, and since this was before a time of email, LinkedIn, and Facebook, when you moved, you moved, and hoped to see friends at weddings, or years later when you returned to New York to act like tourists (which we did in 1999).

So back to it, on September 11th, 2001, Mr. Greenleaf, my second-period biology teacher said something to the effect that we should turn on the TV because “something’s going on.”  At this point, none of us knew how serious anything was.  But he wheeled the television in, and among the clearest, bluest skies I’d ever seen, was the horrifying sight of thick black plumes of smoke cutting the peace in the skies.

I don’t remember the second plane hitting.  I know I must have seen it, because we watched it happen real time, and papers gracefully fluttering to the ground, juxtaposed against the soupy smoke.  But I remember the horror of realizing family and friends were near or around ground zero at the time.  My grandmother, who died on September 11th two years ago, was shopping.  A little old lady shopping, and no one could get a hold of her.  My Uncle Gregory, a street vendor, wasn’t in touch.  Friends of my fathers still worked in the towers.  And because the phones were jammed and no one really knew what had happened or what was going on.  Who was alive, and who hadn’t made it.

A few weeks later, my father dug out a tape, Stevie Wonder’s album, Characters, and told us that his friend Jim, who’d given him the tape, had died in the towers, leaving behind his pregnant wife.  My uncle, a firefighter, lost not one or two, but many brothers that day.  And that was the day that many of us realized that the world was not such a friendly place.

I wish I had a message here, that I could dispense to you some nugget of wisdom.  But what happened was horrible.  Disgusting.  Hateful.  And I think that sometimes it’s okay to not have the words, the answers.  Because I think when something like this happens, maybe there isn’t an answer, right?


Never forget.

Cycling Carrie Bradshaw.

So, if you’ve been following, we lost my grandmother last week.  It’s been hard, even logistically speaking, to get my runs and my workouts in, especially when we we had to make flights and travel plans last minute.  I’m desperately trying to balance working out with real life, and as of last week, it’s become tricky.

Despite the fact that it’s gotten a little hard to squeeze in the physical activity (especially considering that I have a marathon in less than 6 weeks,) let alone some of my shorter runs.  I’m trying.  I’m desperately trying to make all of this work.

So Saturday, after the funeral, I took a little bit of time to decompress and to figure out what I could do after spending some of the day on a plane, and the rest in a heightened emotional state.

The Z Hotel Opening Night 6/21/11 Long Island City, NY www.naskaras.com

I was really sort of surprised when I saw what hotel my dad had picked for us to stay in. Not that my dad is, by any means, a lame or anything, but it was so cool, and so hip that I was pleasantly surprised.  My parents are more the Charleston crowd, so this was a little different for them.


Like this was our view. This photo was taken, no filter, with my iPhone, of the Queensboro bridge into Long Island City. Not bad, right?

Anyhoo, so following the service, and the fact that I felt worn down from that, and from sitting around all day, I decided to figure out something I could do to get the blood pumping.  I pulled out that little hotel binder of info, and found out the hotel had some hipster bikes they loaned to guests.  So I google mapsed the nearest Starbucks, and got in the bike lane.

I felt, like absolutely overjoyed for 2 seconds.  I pulled my locs out of their little like hair tie thingie, and let the breeze blow them around.  I even smiled a bit.  Woo-hoo!  I’m Carrie Bradshaw, but with a bike!  And in Queens!  And then the terror set in.  It’s not my city, and I have never, never ridden in a bike lane with traffic before.  So yeah, I was a little terrified.  But black Carrie made it alllll the way to Manhattan for some snacks for us and my brother, and I came back, alive and well to tell the tale, and dang glad I did it.

Will I ever be a cyclist? Probably not, because I’m an absolute weenie, but it sure was fun to play one for a while.

I was raised correctly.

Years and years ago, my parents were moving to a larger house in the little town of Weddington, NC, just outside of Charlotte.  The house was big and beautiful, and the perfect size for all six of us.  The movers worked until the late hours of the evening, without stopping for food or water.  Debbie, the sister who’s 2 years my junior, was walking through the house, exploring the new digs, and stumbled upon one of the workers, hunched over and slurping water straight from the master bathroom sink.  He clearly was beyond thirsty, and terrified that he was going to get in some sort of trouble, because as soon as Debbie spotted him, he quickly straightened up with a nervous look.  She told me, big sis, who went immediately to tell my dad.  And my father did something that stuck with me to this day.  He got in his car, found a gas station (which wasn’t super easy since we weren’t familiar with the area), and purchased Gatorade for every last one of the movers, and asked them to please sit down and take a break to enjoy it when he returned.  My parents, and especially my dad, is brilliant, and does well for us, but has never treated anyone, especially someone who’s worked for us, with anything less than the respect you’d give the Queen of England.

Read this: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/you_got_served_J0xciA8V4GfJ55VsILSGxL

I was so outraged, I had to send this gentleman a respectfully disagreeing email.  Enjoy.  And feel free to let him know how you feel.  Kyle.Smith@NYPost.com

Letter to Kyle
My Letter To Kyle – Click to Read!