Wednesday, August 27, 2014

ALS Pool Water Sippy Cup Challenge

So unless you’ve been living under a total rock for the past few weeks, you’ve undoubtedly seen everyone and their mother dumping buckets of ice water on their heads for the sake of ALS (aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease) awareness. I think the campaign has had the desired effect since I now know much more about what an absolute nightmare this illness is. The deal with the ice bucket challenge is that once you've been challenged you have 24 hours to either donate or dump ice water on your head and post the video of your act to social media sources, while challenging more friends to rise to the challenge. 

My BFF Talia challenged me on the same day Jonathan’s BFF challenged him. We both groaned in unison. First off, what’s with challenging your friends and family? Why not tell your ex-boyfriends or high school bullies to dump freezing cold water on their noggins? Makes no sense to me! Former President George W. Bush has the right idea:
Anyhoo, when faced with the official call out, my mind started churning out excuses to get out of it. I’m tired (i.e. lazy). I’d rather donate. California is in a drought and I don’t feel like it’s environmentally responsible to waste perfectly good water  participating. Or my favorite: I have a baby under the age of 1 which officially gets me out of anything I don’t want to do for at least 12 months. And yes, I totally milk the baby excuse every chance I get. 

Luckily, my baby offered to fall on the sword for us and since he’s the only one in the fam who actually enjoys having water dumped on his head, he filled in for his mom and dad to complete  the challenge. So here is the cutest ice-bucket challenge in history:
Now, before you go calling child services on us- we used water from his baby pool so it was warm and also he freakin’ loved it so go judge some other momma. Jonathan and I decided to donate to Team Gleason. 
Here are some other ALS Charities if you’re hankering to help find the cure, which you should be. Because it’s awful and we need to eradicate it pronto. Don't believe me? Watch this (some language unsuitable for kiddos): 

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Plane Ride

Last week I wrote up a post of 10 Tips for Flying with a Baby, but I also wanted to do an entry regarding our specific experience this time around. I really wanted to fly direct from San Francisco (SFO) to New Orleans (MSY) but the only direct flight there was a red-eye and left at 10 PM. I wasn’t sure if Forest would sleep on the plane but I was fairly certain I wouldn’t so we decided an indirect route during daylight hours might be better in this case. 

We chose to fly through Houston, leaving SFO at about 7:30 AM. Unfortunately, this meant being at the airport prior to 6:30 which meant leaving our house around 5:15 AM. Forest was not so happy about being woken up 2 hours early. 
We decided to hire a driver so that at least we’d be dropped off at the door and we could skip the whole driving, parking, and taking a shuttle bus rigmarole. Plus, parking is $18 bucks a day and we were gonna be gone for quite some time so taking a driver was only marginally more expensive. You should look into it for your next trip! Anyhoo, that cut out a lot of stress especially since he helped with the bags and Forest slept the whole way to the airport. 

This was our first time flying with ‘a lap baby’. For those of you without kiddos, babies under the age of 2 can fly for free if they sit on your lap. Since our original trip from Scotland to San Fran was for a job relocation, Jonathan’s company paid for all three of us to have a business class ticket home. This lap-baby journey in Economy (with a now very mobile child) was gonna be quite a different experience! 

Jon and I took a chance that there might be an open seat and decided to gate check Forest’s car seat just in case. 
Other than that we packed one large suitcase, 1 sizeable carry-on and two backpacks (1 being a diaper bag). After dropping off our checked luggage we were directed to the ‘family’ security line. This was the first time I had seen a line just for people travelling with small children so that helped to ease the pressure a bit since everyone around us was dealing with car seats/strollers/baby liquids/etc. It definitely wasn’t quicker though, but we always make sure to get to the airport with plenty of time. 

We especially wanted extra time for this flight because we wanted to make sure we all three ate a good breakfast before traveling all day. Jonathan ordered us some grub while I took Forest to the gate to ask about an open seat. The attendant took my boarding pass and let me know that she’d call me up if a seat was indeed available. As luck would have it, she said there was a seat available next to us and that it should remain open. We were ecstatic and gladly lugged our car seat on board to strap Forest in. 

Unfortunately, about 3 minutes later a girl pointed out that Forest was in her seat. I have no idea how this happened since the window seat was actually assigned to me, but sure enough, her ticket had the same number on it. Bummer! We handed our car seat to the flight attendant to be gate checked and she told us just to hang on and she would try to do some shuffling. In the meantime we noticed that there was a mom behind us traveling alone with her 8 month old baby boy. Turns out she was living in the Bay Area as well and also traveling back to LA to visit family. We got to talking and it sounded like our boys had a lot in common (busy, busy busy!). 

While we were chatting, the flight attendant came to ask the girl sitting in our aisle if she’d be open to moving to another window seat. She obliged. And as it turned out, there was another open window seat so the passenger sitting in the middle next to the mom behind us offered to sit there instead so that her baby boy could also have a seat. Happy day! 
We got our car seat re-strapped in and settled Forest in for take off. Once we were in the air, he started to look sleepy so we put on some white noise, handed him his snuggy and pacifier, draped a blanket over his car seat and hoped for the best. 
As if by magic, he nodded off and slept for 1.5 hours!  We couldn’t believe it! He must have been extraordinarily tired from being woken up 2 hours early that morning.  The mom behind us was equally amazed. ‘You just put that blanket over his car seat and he just falls asleep?!?!?!’ I just replied ‘I guess so.... This has never really happened before….’ 

I’ve always been the mom staring in amazement as a baby just dozes off in public. It was nice to be on the receiving end of that for a change. I was so proud of Forest! The rest of the flight was pretty easy peasy and had us breathing huge sighs of relief as we started our descent. 

We had a short layover in Houston but had enough time to scarf down a sandwich, feed the baby his solids, change his diaper and board the plane. There was no open seat on the flight from Houston to New Orleans so we gate checked the car seat. The flight was literally only 40 minutes and Forest did wonderfully, even catching another cat nap while riding in the Ergo on his dad’s lap. 
It seriously could not have gone any better! Once we had our rental car, we again set the stage for a nap in his car seat and he snoozed all the way to my parents’ house in Covington. 
Seriously, he did AWESOME. 

The journey back was not as smooth, but still went really well. We had a direct 4 hour flight from New Orleans to San Francisco. There wasn’t a single open seat on the plane and Jon and I had seats on different rows. A nice Aussie guy was nice enough to switch his seat with me so that I could sit next to Jonathan who once again had Forest strapped to him in the Ergo carrier. We hoped Forest would go to sleep as easily as he had on the way over, but we weren’t so lucky this time. 
Since the flight took off around 7 PM, it was conflicting with his body’s bedtime clock. He was obviously tired but was being kept awake by all the loud noises and commotion aboard. The only time Forest really gets fussy is when he is tired, and this was no exception.  Jonathan eventually had to take him to the back of the plane and just sway back and forth to soothe him  until he fell asleep. He was crying pretty hard through some of it, but eventually nodded off. However, it was a very delicate state of sleep because he would wake up really easily, like any time the fasten seatbelt sign came on or when I tried to open my can of soda. 
We ended up just attaching his Cloud B ‘Sleep Sheep’ white noise machine to one of the straps of the Ergo to try to drown out some of the culprits but he was still in and out of sleep. Fortunately, he seemed to get enough rest to keep him calm so for the rest of the flight he stayed quiet and content. 

When our flight arrived it took FOREVER for the car seat to be brought to me from gate check. All of the passengers had exited the plane and the flight attendants didn’t want to leave me all alone waiting (Jon had gone on to baggage claim) so they hung out with me until the car seat finally arrived 20 minutes later. Thank goodness we didn’t have a connection! 

It didn’t end up mattering much because our bags still hadn’t arrived when I got to baggage claim. I took Forest to the bathroom to change his diaper and put his pjs on while Jonathan waited for our bags (I should have just put him in pjs from the get go but I just wasn't thinking I guess). Finally our bags arrived and our driver helped us get them to his car. 

Forest promptly fell fast asleep for the 45 minute car ride home. I was worried he wouldn’t go back to sleep in his crib without a fight, especially with us scrambling to get all of his sleep items unpacked and get his white noise machine hooked back up. Just as I sat down to rock him and feed him his bedtime bottle at around 11:30 PM, I realized I forgot his seahorse in my carry-on! 

I think he was so tired it wouldn’t of mattered for falling asleep purposes, but I didn’t want him waking up in the middle of the night without it since it always helps him to drift back off to dreamland without me having to get out of bed. By this time I was super tired too and craving a good night’s sleep. After I made a mad dash back downstairs for his beloved seahorse, baby boy cooperated, went promptly to sleep without a fight and slept til 7:15 AM which allowed me to get a good 7 hours of sleep in myself. 

The next night he was especially tired and I actually had to wake him up from a dead sleep after 13 hours! 
This is what 13 hours of sleep looks like (him, not me)!
It was kind of nice to get to wake up, work out, shower and eat breakfast before waking him up at 8 AM. Sadly the next morning he was up at 7:15 and since then he’s been back to his 6:30/6:45 wake up time so no more morning work outs and showers for me! Overall, I this he did remarkably well and made the thought of travelling back to Louisiana not seem so scary.Good job, baby boy!

Friday, August 22, 2014

10 Tips for Flying with a Baby

Hi friends. I know a few of you have upcoming travels with your babies and toddlers and have asked me for any wisdom I might have to share. We actually haven’t travelled too much via plane with Forest because it is kind of a pain. We have friends who seriously don't even flinch when faced with the prospect of flying with a baby. They are total pros. Not me. I hate it! But sometimes it’s a necessary evil, and from our experience, these are a few of the things that make it easier.  (I also asked some of my professional flying friends for their tips so I've included those as well). 
1) Give yourself plenty of time. We try to hit the security line at least an hour before take off. This gives us time to un-stressfully go through security, grab a bite to eat, feed the baby and give him a diaper change before boarding the plane. Also, if you’re traveling with a lap baby, you want to be the first at the gate when the attendants arrive so that you can snag an open seat if one is available. They usually set up shop an hour before the flight. (Bonus tip: it helps to have your super adorable baby on your hip when asking if there is an extra seat available. Try to act nice but also a little overwhelmed and slightly terrified.)   

2) If you are traveling with your partner, and if you’re able to choose seats upon checking in, choose the aisle and window seat. If there is an open seat left on the plane, it’s likely to be a middle seat. And if there ends up being a passenger in the middle, they are usually willing to switch for an aisle or window so that you can sit next to each other. Unless they are a total weirdo, NO ONE likes to sit in the middle. If you aren’t travelling with a partner, I’d recommend trying to snag an aisle seat. This makes it easier to get up with the baby for diaper changes and soothing purposes. 
3) If you can afford it and your flight is longer than 4 hours, buy the baby their own seat. It sucks to do this because there is a chance you could get them their own seat for free, but man, having that assurance would ease a lot of anxiety. Use your judgment on this too. You’re gonna have a lot better chance of getting a free open seat during the week, whereas on a weekend or holiday time, you’re probably gonna be out of luck. 

If they have their own seat, I’d say bring their car seat aboard if you feel like they’d sleep better that way. Some babies sleep just fine just on the seat but those babies do not belong to me. Anytime Forest has his own seat, we bring his infant car seat aboard and bring a blanket to drape over it for nap times. I can’t imagine him sleeping otherwise.  
One tip though- if you bring aboard an FFA approved rear-facing car seat in economy, the person in front of it will not be able to recline at all. It might be a nice gesture to offer to buy them a meal/drink/wi-fi but you’re certainly under no obligation to do this. Also, you'll want to put the carseat on the window seat otherwise no one will be able to pass in the aisle.

4) If you are traveling alone, have a short flight, or decide to fly with the baby in your lap on a longer flight, bring a baby carrier like an Ergo or Baby Bjorn, etc. It makes traveling through the airport much easier and also can help squirmy babies monkeys stay in place during flight. 
Forest still sleeps ok in his Ergo if necessary so that’s an added perk. 
Best. Dad. EVER.
Baby carriers also make getting through the airport much simpler and hands free so I think they are a must for plane travel!
5) Bring small entertaining toys. It might be helpful to bring a new toy as well since this will have novelty to a baby/toddler. I know some moms are against ‘screen time’ but Forest loves loves LOVES iPhones. 
He would sit still and play baby apps or watch videos of himself all day long if we’d let him. We try not to fall to this temptation at home, but on the plane? It’s perfect! I recommend the Peekaboo line of apps including: Peekaboo Barn (Forest’s fave), Peekaboo Wild, Peekaboo Forest, Peekaboo Fridge, and Peekabo Sesame Street. 

Also, small handheld toys that light up and make noise (not too much noise because you don’t want to bug the other passengers) are a great distraction and help to pass the time. For example:
Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes- Buy on Amazon
6) If Formula is a part of your baby’s diet, buy a big bottle of water once you get through security so that you have sterilized water to make bottles with. Same for sippy-cups. Some airports will allow you to bring this with you through security if you label it as ‘baby food’ but I’ve heard conflicting reports. I will say that bringing breast milk and liquid baby meds larger than 4 oz has not posed a problem for us at all, though sometimes the security agents will ask to test it. Just separate it out and declare it to the agents so they can take a closer look. 

For our long transatlantic flight we brought some ready mixed formula in case Forest went on an increasingly common nursing strike...which he did, so it's a good thing we brought a back up food source! Ready made formula is an acceptable liquid to take on an airplane, just like pre-pumped breast milk.  

P.S. If your flight is longer than 5 hours or so, and you're breastfeeding, bring a pump on board just in case. I have PTSD from a 12 hour flight in which my son flat-out refused to nurse. Ouchie ouchie.

7) If your baby is awake during take off and landing, feed them a bottle or nurse them during ascent/descent to help them clear their ears. 
If they are sleeping- leave them be! They wouldn’t sleep if their ears were hurting so no point in waking them. If you don’t want to feed them, a pacifier should work as well. We always bring Tylenol aboard too in case his ears seems to be troubling him, which they haven’t so far. 

8) Change their diaper right before you board. If you’re lucky you won’t have to deal with diaper changes in the teensy weensy airplane bathroom if you’re flight is short enough! Even if it's a longer flight, at least this should cut down on 1 diaper change while aboard. If you do have to change them on the plane just bring your wipes and a diaper with you into the bathroom. Ain’t no room in there for a full on diaper bag. Make sure you pack at least one outfit change though because the altitude can cause some forceful expulsions. 

9) Bring any comfort/sleep time items aboard. We were shocked that Forest was able to sleep at all on the plane, but when nap time came he would cuddle up to his lambie and doze off. It was like a magic trick. 
10) Be organized! I am a bit of a nervous traveler and the only thing that seems to help me conquer my anxiety is to be organized and have Plan A, B, and C ready to go. If you’re travelling with a partner, try to divide the tasks and make it clear who is responsible for what. For instance, Jonathan is usually in charge of getting our bags checked, handling our IDs and boarding passes, and making sure we have snacks and entertainment whereas I am in charge of packing Forest’s diaper bag, feeding him, and getting him freshly diapered before the flight. 

I’ve yet to fly with him by myself and panic a bit when I think about managing it. I think I would for sure carry him in the Ergo on the plane and just try to be as organized as possible to minimize any uncertainties. 
The most surprising thing about flying with a baby has been just how understanding most people are and how they will usually go out of their way to help you out. Several women offered to help me pick up my bags when I had Forest on a hip in the bathroom. Flight attendants went out of their way to play musical chairs so that we could finagle a free seat on one of our flights. Several people came by to ask about Forest and compliment him for good behavior. Of course, not everyone is caring and compassionate, but the majority are and that helps a great deal! 
PS. For all y'all who say he looks just like his daddy- that nose is all mine:)
What about y’all? Any wisdom you can share for travelling with babies?