The Chicago trip was a great success, and give me hope that we will be able to take more ambitious (read: international) trips with the twins sooner than later. It's true, we haven't tackled airplane travel yet, but we did great with a 5-hour car ride. We had fresh diapers on and had just been nursed when we got in the car to leave, later than we normally would have left, but it coincided with the kids' morning nap. This worked out great, we had one stop in Funk's Grove (I think we always stop there partially because of the great name..) where we freshened up our diapers, stretched our legs a bit, and had some cheerios. I admit to about 20 minutes of crankiness total, but after this passed, they pretty much slept the rest of the ride.
Upon checking into our downtown hotel, they were still passed out, so Matt stayed with them in the car (we didn't want to park quite yet anyway...that's another long story.) while I went in to check in and make sure they had put two pack-n'-plays in our room as requested. They had not, and *claim* to have told me over the phone that they could not, due to fire code issues. Of course, English is my first language, and I am a good listener, and I KNOW she had told me that this would not be a problem - but, not one to make a fuss, I sent Matt upstairs with the extra pack-n'-play that we had brought, anticipating such SNAFUs. We jumped back in the car and headed for our first play date.
It was lovely seeing friends and being able to spend the bulk of our time inside their apartments, as it was really too cold and snowy to navigate the stroller outside, and the kids got to cruise and crawl about to their heart's content. I believe this helped mitigate fussiness, since we weren't really subjecting them to major stroller time or anything.
We did have to do a few restaurants, and the solution came in the form of these ingenious little roll-up placemats with suction cups on the bottoms - since they will fling a plate or bowl that isn't suckered down at this point, before this I had to put little finger-sized bites of food directly onto the table - which made even dirt-friendly me cringe a bit. They were champs at trying all the new foods, (they loved the vietnamese taro-coconut rice pudding!) but we brought cups of cheerios just in case. Yes, we left a mess under each table when we were done, but I try not to feel *too* guilty about it since the kids were quiet and good the whole time.
We did have much more traffic, and more car seat time, than normal - this was handled by again planning trips during naps as closely as possible, and worked like a charm. Even hanging out with single friends who didn't "get" that we had a new, much earlier bedtime was okay with the babies, since car rides=longer naps=staying up slightly later. We packed light, but still decanted into a smaller "daytime" diaper bag that was less bulky. Carrying the food mill allowed me to smush up whatever we were eating to give them some, and that worked quite well.
Our last stop, as requested by Matt's mom, was to Ikea - I wish all stores were this kid friendly!! Not only did they have shopping carts, but also mini shopping "strollers" which allowed matt to push one and me to push one without having two bulky carts. There was a play area, Smalland, which the kids aren't quite old enough to use yet, (can't wait for that!) but when we were ready to go, we had dinner in the quite bargain-priced restaurant, then to the family restroom where we comfortably changed into our pajamas, changed diapers, even nursed! When we got in the car at their normal bedtime, they slept like champs the entire ride home!!
So to recap: we were pretty flexible about the rules: foodwise, they ate what we ate, which wasn't always as baby-friendly as my home-prepared organic meals: they tried some spicy chili, some thai noodles, even things like truffle pate and cranberry-orange scones. But I did bring a couple of jars of "baby food" to make sure we got full if they really hated the food, as well as the ever-popular Cheerios, and they did get milk and poly-vi-sol. Naptimes happened during car rides mostly, and I nursed while at friend's houses, or they had bottles of formula if we were out. We switched to disposables for the week, and while I find them much more difficult to put on, they were very convenient, no leaks, and the vacation from laundry was nice. They met new people and saw lots of new things, but didn't seem to feel completely disoriented or cranky by the experience, because we tried to keep to their normal "rhythm." We skipped the bath a couple of nights, and went to bed about an hour later, but that seemed okay, too. Once we got back, we fell into the old routine and everyone is doing fine! Now let's start planning that trip to Europe...