Okay, so a few days got by me, but here's my report on How to Vacation On Your Own With an 11 Month Old:
Day 1: Wake up at 2am, shower, load up the car, and pack a formerly soundly sleeping infant into her carseat, praying that she won't notice the interruption and will soon fall back asleep for the upcoming 3 hour car ride. Arrive at Phoenix airport 3 hours later, ears ringing from the incessant screaming and conspicuous lack of sleeping by said infant. Shuffle like a pack mule through security with baby, backpack and carseat, and board the plane. Enjoy an amazingly peaceful plane ride as infant discovers the joys of a window seat and a luxurious free row! Arrive in Dallas to much rejoicing.
Day 2 thru 12: Watch as infant is smothered in attention, affection, hugs, kisses, and more presents than you can fit into your house. Eat a ton of great food, go shopping, play cards, and sleep when you can. If you're feeling particularly brave, fit a car trip down to Houston into your schedule! The food is great there and everyone knows how much the kid loves a car ride! If it happens to rain the entire way there and back, turning a four hour trip into six, just look at it as valuable driving experience. Try to maintain constant vigilance as the infant discovers that everyone elses' home is full of beautiful treasures and fun climbing activities. Wish you had more time to spend with everybody.
Day 13: Enjoy another surprisingly great plane ride (another free row?! Truly a Christmas miracle). Eat lunch with your husband in Phoenix and brace yourselves for the agonizing 3 hours of screaming in the car until you get home. Get home and feel your anxiety melt away as the infant recognizes all her familiar toys and furniture with happy yells and dancing. :)
In all seriousness, we really had a great time. It was so nice to see everyone and finally get to eat at some great restaurants for a change! Aurora did better than I expected with all the new sights, sounds and people - the worst parts were the car trips. But that was because I was alone and trying to drive the car, thus unable to supply her with the nonstop attention she had become accustomed to at her grandparents' house. So all in all, we lived through it and may even do it again on day - maybe when she's 9 or 10.
Here's all the pictures but I have to say that I was a terrible photographer the whole time. So my apologies in advance! If you got any pictures of us while we were there, please email me!